Mike the Mad Biologist

The Republican War on Modeling

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Onward Glorious Conservatives! Don’t retreat from the librul modelers!!!

By now, you might have heard about the Bush Administration’s massive ‘editing’ of the CDC testimony about the health consequences of global warming. Over at Science Progress, there is a copy of the unedited, original CDC text. At this point, no one in the Coalition of the Sane should be surprised that every single one of the specifics about what global warming would actually do was expunged–we wouldn’t want the public to worry their purdy lil’ heads about all of that scary stuff. What did interest me was the…edited section about modeling (bold is deleted):

Modeling: Currently sophisticated models to predict climate and heat exist. For example, CDC has conducted heat stroke modeling for the city of Philadelphia to predict the most vulnerable populations at risk for hyperthermia. In light of these projections, CDC has initiated efforts to model the impact of heat waves on urban populations to identify those people most vulnerable to hyperthermia. Modeling and forecasting represent an important preparedness strategy, in that it can help predict and respond to the most pressing health vulnerabilities at the state and local level. Armed with modeling data, we can target response plans for heat and other extreme weather events to the most vulnerable communities and populations. In light of these projections, CDC has initiated efforts to model the impact of heat waves on urban populations to identify those people most vulnerable to hyperthermia.

It is clear why the minions of Little Lord Pontchartrain felt the need to strike the first sentence: they can’t publicly admit that we can use Math With Letters to predict the future climate. The Bush White House correctly recognizes that if you admit that some modeling is reliable and useful–”Modeling and forecasting represent an important preparedness strategy, in that it can help predict and respond to the most pressing health vulnerabilities”–then you start down a slippery slope of other models, and the next thing you know, you have an IPCC report or something.

But the second deleted part also reveals how similar global warming denialists are to creationists. It is the tired old gambit of “if I can’t see it happening in front of me, then it is not real” that creationists routinely play against macroevolution. Of course, this administration was quite willing to invade the wrong fucking country based on far more specious ‘models.’ Maybe it’s the math that scares them?

Seriously, I can think of few things more critical to science than models, whether they be formal (mathematical) or informal. To criticize modeling–which is what the Bush Administration edits did–is a full-frontal assault on science.

The Republican War on Science marches on….

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Comments

  1. #1 paul01
    October 29, 2007

    “Of course, this administration was quite willing to invade the wrong fucking country based on far more specious ‘models.’ Maybe it’s the math that scares them?”

    There was a report that numerals are arabic.

  2. #2 Jason Adams
    October 29, 2007

    Exactly, paul01. And math is full of squiggly little symbols that look like arabic script. Anyone who uses either numbers or squiggly things must be a terrorist.

  3. #3 dave X
    October 29, 2007

    Well, if they ignore modelling, of course they can say ‘nobody could have predicted (9/11, Katrina, Iraq, …, fill in the blank).’

  4. #4 Paul
    October 29, 2007

    “they can’t publicly admit that we can use Math With Letters to predict the future climate.”

    …and they’d be right about that. What evidence do you have that long term prediction is accurate. Thats right, none.

  5. #5 dave X
    October 29, 2007

    Paul, one of the well known modelers has a quote you might appreciate: “Essentially, all models are wrong. But some are useful.”.

    The part I think you’ll abscond with is the ‘all models are wrong’ part, but the subtle part of modeling and experimental design is about the utility of models. What makes a model useful is that it is more accurate than some alternative model.

    If your point is that long term prediction is inaccurate, the question is ‘as compared to what?’ T_globe=constant? I’m certain that some predictive models can do better than that naive model, and knowlege about which models (sunspots, albedo, orbital mechanics, chemistry, …, all of the above) are better by how much *is* valuable.

  6. #6 Joseph j7uy5
    October 29, 2007

    The Iraqis invented the Zero. If that is not frightening, not to mention blasphemous, I don’t know what is. Clearly it is reason enough to shock and awe a million people to death.

  7. #7 Ex-drone
    October 29, 2007

    Would Rove consider running a campaign without modeling the electorate through polling?

  8. #8 NoAstronomer
    October 29, 2007

    I don’t have a comment on the article, but that baby cracks me up every time I see it.

  9. #9 Ex-drone
    December 21, 2007

    Would Rove consider running a campaign without modeling the electorate through polling?

  10. #10 sex shop
    March 25, 2009

    thanks for you