A Few Things Ill Considered

Really great essay here, by Stephan Lewandowsky, on scientific uncertainty and manufacturing doubt.

Comments

  1. #1 Vernon
    November 2, 2010

    Coby,

    His entire essay appears to be nothing but a mixture of the False analogy logical fallacy and the argument fallacy of many questions. He does not address scientific uncertainty.

  2. #2 skip
    November 2, 2010

    Vernon,

    Please give an example of any of the fallacies you list.

    Also, how about answering my question regarding the testimony of North before Congress.

    To wit:

    What would North’s testimony before Congress tell me that was substantively different from the NAS report on the hockey stick?

    Posted by: skip | October 19, 2010 5:47 AM — Extinction . . . thread

    I mean, if the answer is nothing at all, then just say that. It would be acceptable–not to mention true.

    Or is that the problem?

  3. #3 Chris S.
    November 2, 2010

    Vernon, whilst we’re on the subject of not addressing things, don’t forget your reading assignment on the SLR literature from the CCW thread. How’s that going?

    http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2010/10/ccw_-_extinction_its_not_just.php

  4. #4 mandas
    November 2, 2010

    vernon,

    I guess he was trying to write an essay in the style of a denialist. Your criticism reads like the strategy list from Wattsupmybutt or Lord Monkeytown.

  5. #5 Vernon
    November 2, 2010

    Skip,

    If you bothered to read, you would see that North agreed with the Wegman’s Report on Mann’s misuse of stats.

    Chris,

    There is no study that shows that AGW has caused any impact to tides.

    mandas,

    nice to see you agree with me.

    Now why not try addressing my questions? I believe the last one was “Why is the walrus in danger of extinction from the current warming when it has been warmer in the past and the species survived.”

  6. #6 mandas
    November 2, 2010

    vernon

    I can’t remember ever suggesting it was. What makes you think that I have ever said that, or would ever say that? If my memory is foggy, could you please point me to where I made such a claim. If you look at the comments on the walrus thread, you will notice several things.

    Firstly, I criticised Jack Savage for his idiotic rebuttal of a science paper that he never read, on a subject that he knew nothing about. You then asked me the same question that you just asked me, and I did not reply, because I, like Jack, know nothing about walruses: I have never studied them and outside of a zoo have never even seen one.

    You know, just like you. And of course, completely unlike the people who HAVE studied them and have written about them. You can find them here:

    http://alaska.usgs.gov/science/biology/walrus/publications.html

    What is really interesting about all of this is just how stupid your question really is, and how neatly it encapsulates the denialist position of constructing huge flaming strawmen. Let me give you the same advice that I give all the other denialists here – try listening to, and reading what people actually say before forming an opinion on an issue. And – far more importantly – read some real science.

    If you watched that movie you will note that no-one said the walruses are going to become extinct – watch and listen carefully (did you even watch it before??). Then, go and try and find one of the parent studies about walrus deaths. I know it’s hard to do real science when you probably failed science at high school, so here, I will do it for you.

    The paper referred to in the video is here:

    http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/eaam/am/2006/00000032/00000001/art00011

    Have a read of it – you will note the authors also do not say anything about extinction.

    Another parent study is here:

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2009/1291/pdf/ofr20091291.pdf

    Note that, once again, they do not talk about walruses becoming extinct. Rather, they that the walrus deaths are unexplained.

    So, since I am a wildlife scientist, and study these sort of things for a living, what makes you think I would disagree with the wildlife scientists who are doing the research?

    How about you do something similar, and refrain from commenting on things you know nothing about, based on strawmen and on not even reading the thing you are attempting to criticise? But then again, that would be totally contrary to your denialist viewpoint wouldn’t it?

  7. #7 skip
    November 2, 2010

    Vernon, it is you have *never* read *any* of North’s testimony before Congress, a point rendered obvious by this attempt to pretend that this statistical point was all you were claiming.

    Not only did I bother to read it, Vernon, but for your benefit and enlightenment, I had previously *quoted* it (you know, the one part you read secondhand on McIntyre’s blog?):

    MR. WHITFIELD . . . Now,Dr. North, do you agree with Dr. Wegman’s centering analysis or not?
    DR. NORTH. I do. I think that he is right about that. However, you know, we have to be careful here and not throw the baby out with the water.

    But my question to you was:

    Which of the Wegman “findings” did the North panel “agree with”?

    No one disputes the trivial statistical point, Vernon. No one ever has.

    But it was the *only* finding that North and the panel agreed with, and its pedantic, tangential, and of no relevance to the question of the overall debate on global warming.

    If you had yourself read *either* the NAS executive summary *or* a select number of Q&A’s between the panel members and North you would know that:

    (1) North agrees there is a consensus among climate scientists that global warming is significant and anthropogenic.
    (2) The conclusions of the original MBH study stand *regardless* of the misuse of PCA.
    (3) There are other studies confirming the findings of MBH.
    (4) The MBH study could be thrown completely out–in fact, Mann could never have *existed*–and the consensus regarding anthropogenic climate change would still prevail.

    My guess is you have been taught these simple truths many times but you have no place to retreat anymore so you just default to reveling in the petty triumph that Mann and colleagues improperly used point-centered means in their reconstructions.

    Vernon, don’t fall into McIntyre’s sad state where his one puny triumph on a trivial statistical point that has no bearing on the overall science becomes the existential equivalent of Al Bundy’s four touchdowns for Polk High.

  8. #8 Chris S.
    November 3, 2010

    “There is no study that shows that AGW has caused any impact to tides.”

    Oh dear Vernon, I gave you two in the other thread, did you not read them? Just to refresh your memory:

    Pye & Blott 2008 Decadal-scale variation in dune erosion and accretion rates: An investigation of the significance of changing storm tide frequency and magnitude on the Sefton coast, UK GEOMORPHOLOGY 102

    Suursuur et al. 2010 Wind and wave storms, storm surges and sea level rise along the Estonian coast of the Baltic Sea in MANAGEMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND ECOLOGICAL HAZARDS II Book Series: WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment Volume: 127

    That’s just two, I’m sure you can find some more if you actually looked for them…

  9. #9 mandas
    November 3, 2010

    Vernon

    I posted a detailed response to your ‘question’ yesterday, but because I put too many links it obviously got lost in moderation. Nevermind.

    But in any case, I am a little perplexed by your question, nay, demand:

    “…..Now why not try addressing my questions? I believe the last one was “Why is the walrus in danger of extinction from the current warming when it has been warmer in the past and the species survived….”

    Have I at any stage suggested that the walrus is in danger of extinction? If you believe so, then how about you refer me to the post where I said it. I will save you the trouble of looking – since reading what people write and listening to what people say seems to be beyond your abilities. I have never said it, nor have I even intimated it. In the relevant thread, I was highly critical of Jack Savage for criticising something he hadn’t read, on a subject he knows nothing about. And I will level exactly the same criticism at you.

    If you have a look at the video on walruses etc, you will notice that not once do the scientists state that the walrus is likely to go extinct. So your question is moot. It is just a flaming strawman constructed based on a complete lack of knowledge, and on a failure to do even the most basic research to know what you are supposedly criticising. How about you go away and have a look at the video again (for the first time??).

    When you do so, you will note that it refers to a paper on walruses. That paper is here:

    http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/eaam/am/2006/00000032/00000001/art00011

    If you could have been bothered to read it, you will also have noted that the authors did not suggest that the walrus is likely to go extinct either. Of course, they suggest the walrus is threatened by habitat destruction (just like thousands of other species), and that it is ill adapted to cope with rapid changes in its environment (just like thousands of other species). But nowhere in the paper or in the video does anyone claim that the walrus is likely to go extinct. So once again, why are you asking me the question. I never suggested it, and the scientists who wrote the paper on which the video is largely based never suggested it either.

    I guess that’s the difference between us Vernon. I am a real wildlife scientist, and I understand the issues involved and am willing to read the views of other scientists who know what they are talking about, because they have spent years doing actual research, and don’t just sit in front of a computer putting forward ignorant opinions based on a political worldview.

  10. #10 coby
    November 3, 2010

    Sorry about that mandas, and to those who appreciate your substantial comments, things were pretty quiet today on the blog and I was busy in RL and also catching up on some Judith Curry related materials.

    Your comment now appears as #6 above.

  11. #11 mandas
    November 3, 2010

    coby

    Thanks – I wasn’t criticising, thought you must have been doing something else. You can delete the second post if you like (and this one!).

  12. #12 MartinM
    November 4, 2010

    Leaving aside mandas’ point regarding what the relevant papers actually say:

    “Why is the walrus in danger of extinction from the current warming when it has been warmer in the past and the species survived.”

    Why would jumping off a tall building be dangerous, when I’ve been on the ground before and survived? Hell, I’ve even been underground. That’s lower than the ground. Silly fearmongering physics people.

  13. #13 coby
    November 5, 2010

    Heh! Good one, Martin, I love analogies like that….

  14. #14 Knightly
    November 5, 2010

    It’s time to give up this fight. We’ve lost. The only way to win would be to get the majority of people on board and willing to sacrifice a little now to protect our future. It’s not going to happen. People don’t work that way and the moment someone calls “scientific uncertainty” they’re saying their beliefs are based on faith, and you can’t argue with faith.

    So it’s time to stop trying to prevent climate change. We need to put our efforts toward mitigating the damage instead. All it takes is one person (or a team) to invent something that works too well to pass up. A few dozen or a few hundred of these inventions and it won’t matter what the deniers think anymore. It wasn’t the public that stopped Y2K, it was the programmers.

    If people won’t do what needs to be done for the sake of the planet, all we need to do is give them another reason.

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