“Whether humans are responsible for the bulk of climate change is going to be left to the scientists, but it’s all of our responsibility to leave this planet in better shape for the future generations than we found it.” -Mike Huckabee

It only makes sense that scientists should debate and argue over the findings in their field. Given all the suites of data available that are relevant to a particular physical phenomenon, how do we put it together in a way that is scientifically robust, allow us to understand and predict what’s happening, and justifiably attribute the causes of observed phenomena? It’s a daunting task, and one that you need science for.

Concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere over the past few hundred thousand years. Image credit: NASA / NOAA.

Concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere over the past few hundred thousand years. Image credit: NASA / NOAA.

So when it comes to global warming, why aren’t the arguments about the temperature and atmospheric concentrations of gases over time? Why are they instead about scientific personalities, profitability, conspiracies and hacked emails? Why, instead, aren’t those opposing the science of human-caused climate change pointing to data and scientific arguments?

The interplay between the atmosphere, clouds, moisture, land processes and the ocean all governs the evolution of Earth's equilibrium temperature. Image credit: Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

The interplay between the atmosphere, clouds, moisture, land processes and the ocean all governs the evolution of Earth’s equilibrium temperature. Image credit: NASA / Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

After all, the only thing it would take to overturn anthropogenic climate change was one compelling scientific argument. Learn why, if you value scientific thinking, it’s incompatible with climate change denial.

Comments

  1. #1 dean
    May 2, 2017

    All good points in the Forbes article, and every one of them shows reasons the scientific community is behind the eight ball, compared to the deniers, when it comes to presenting its case. All of the things in your story require hard work — and then the data collected has to be analyzed, and the results explained.

    As the primary deniers on your blog repeatedly demonstrate, they don’t need to do that: simply saying climate change isn’t happening, that scientists are working in cahoots for the money, or posting fake stories about former White House staffers “blowing the lid” on climate change is good enough for the people who don’t believe in it and don’t want to (or aren’t capable of) putting serious thought into the issue.

    Yes, the upending the established science requires the work of science. That isn’t what deniers do: spreading disinformation is what they do, and as they demonstrate, it’s very easy.

  2. #2 lloyd
    May 2, 2017

    Boy, I’m looking forward to the comments on this one.

    I teach (in an unrelated discipline) at a university. One of the things I think is probably most valuable that I can teach students is how to evaluate for yourself who is arguing honestly and who isn’t. Who is actually responding to objections and pointing out why they’re misleading, and acknowledging where their own case is weak and needs to be strengthened–versus who is simply stating and restating the same points over and again, packaged to provide maximum misdirection. You can’t win an argument with these people. But what you can do is attempt to innoculate young people against dishonest argument tactics so they are well-equipped to ignore those who don’t deserve to be taken seriously.

  3. #3 John
    Baltimore
    May 2, 2017

    I suspect there are few denying that climate changes.

  4. #4 Ragtag Media
    United States
    May 2, 2017

    The word “You” in Ethan’s article is referenced 124 times.
    All things being equal in a perfect setting that YOU control all the scientific data, measurements, testing etc and YOU are 100% honest with ZERO bias and ZERO agenda and ZERO outside influence then perhaps YOU could scientifically come to some reasonable conclusions vbased on said data sets.

    Unfortunately, with the whole Climate debate you have None Zero Nada sets of data that YOU controlled totally from the get go.

    YOU as a scientist could also be a former Vice President with an agenda, You could Be a guilt ridden mega millionaire movie star or a Hedge Fund BILLIONAIRE seeing a new opportunity to exploit a political platform for more $$$.
    The list goes ON.

    OR YOU could be someone who disagrees with all the team Climate change fear mongers pose BECAUSE YOU have seen this all play out not in a controlled science lab but in the political and social realms where FEAR is used to manipulate a segment of the populace to garner control over yet another part of peoples lives and add another link to human enslavement.

    The problemas I see it is that people need to feel they are part of something or a cause that gives their life meaning and purpose. So saving mother earth from doom is a great canard for folks searching for meaning and purpose.

    My concern is when peoples reason for living or their own sacrosanct mission is to convert me to their own cause by way of my unauthorized pocket book.

    When you go to a mainstream religious house of faith in the US you are generally not beaten or verbally accosted if you don’t put into the offering plate.
    HOWEVER, if you choose not to go along with the flavor of the day save mother earth agenda that hides behind the guise of “SCIENCE” then you are nearly at risk of being publicly flogged and damn near burned at the stake by being ostracized and publicly excoriated as an enemy of all humanity.

    The Science community approaches constructs wrong when dealing with the public masses. They are good at microscope reading BUT bad at marketing.
    Scoff all ya want at deniers, just as some scientific overlords mock religious folks.

    However, thei fail to realize that these folks have a vote and a place at the table as well so mocking them and disregarding their concerns does not do their own cause justice. It just causes others to put up walls.

    We have been down this road before with saving mother earth. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel that turns everything planet over to wall street hedge funds to make BAZILLIONS of $$$$ off of all us common folks.

    Programs like “ARBOR DAY” and others are a great foundation to build on and cost very little but do so much and it helps to get generations of people involved planting trees ect.
    Planting a tree with your neighbors and kids is WAY easier for people to comprehend helping our planet than some obscure carbon tax on my electric bill that God only knows where the hell that money is going….Wheeeew

  5. #5 Anonymous Coward
    May 2, 2017

    There is no implicit axiology to science. That is, science by itself cannot make value judgements. It can only tell us what is, and what might possibly happen, and what we can do to change what might happen to something else. There is no “good” or “bad” for it. It can tell us the consequences of our actions but not judge whether they are good or bad. The question as to whether something is good or bad is outside of science.

    Perhaps the short-term profits obtained from the continued use of fossil fuels are worth more than the prospect of a future earth that is too warm to permit agriculture as we do it today. These people denying the science of global warming ought to just fess up and declare that their value system values short-term profits more than it is worried about the consequences of the extraction of those profits. Positive growth next quarter uber alles, never mind if the planet reaches temperatures not seen since the Eocene, which causes the collapse of modern human civilisation in less than a century.

  6. #6 Ragtag Media
    United States
    May 2, 2017

    @Anonymous Coward#5 “There is no implicit axiology to science. That is, science by itself cannot make value judgements. It can only tell us what is, and what might possibly happen, and what we can do to change what might happen to something else. ”
    But what of the
    “YOU” factor. as in Ethan’s World construc?
    Your are the sole proprietor of the information of which you measure, so therefore you are judge jury and executioner.. Well, at least according to Ethan’s Science rules, never mind the Human aspect………

  7. #7 Frank
    Omaha,NE
    May 2, 2017

    Let’s assume global warming is not true.
    Isn’t there any other important reason for humanity to try to reduce usage of fossil fuels?
    Given that all kinds of fossil fuels are non-renewable resources and they are really useful and important for humanity,
    wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do to try to use them as little as possible,
    so that our world would have them available as long as possible for future generations?

    Consider how efficiently humanity was using fossil fuels in the past and today for transportation and energy production.
    How many different and useful ways and purposes fossil fuels were used in the past versus today (like making plastics and other chemicals)?
    How much of fossil fuels went to waste and still going?
    What will happen to humanity when someday all fossil fuels run out?
    Should not we try to prepare for it, starting in our time, by building solar and wind power plants etc?

  8. #8 eric
    May 3, 2017

    @7: yes. It would seem to me that even without the climate change debate, R&D investment in other energy sources would be very valuable. After all, a more efficient battery or power line or solar panel is still useful, regardless of whether the Earth is warming or not. So when an administration starts cutting funding for that and shifting the money into tax breaks for Exxon and the like, it seems pretty clear to me that regardless of the climate change issue, our policies have much more to do with protecting corporate profits than actual sound long-term energy policy.

  9. #9 Oh Come On
    The World
    May 3, 2017

    This info is so useless. Honestly.

  10. #10 Anonymous Coward
    May 3, 2017

    @Ragtag Media at #6: if you don’t trust that the vast community of scientific experts are honest people, and believe that they are all part of a vast conspiracy covering up the real truth about scientific data and the conclusions about that data, well, I guess there’s no help for you there. But given that we’re talking here about the entire global scientific community, I’ll ask you to consider if it doesn’t stretch credibility to think that not even one scientist out there is honest and has enough integrity to speak out against the huge conspiracy of which they are supposedly a part.

  11. #11 Frank
    Omaha,NE
    May 3, 2017

    Anybody who thinks scientists created a lie together and hiding it together, should just look at published scientific papers on any science. I think whenever that is done, one thing is very clear. Scientists argue with each other all the time. Which theory or idea is correct or wrong and why. No scientist is safe against counter arguments. I don’t know how many physics papers I saw still claiming Einstein was wrong on something. But no argument can succeed in science without support from experiments and observations. That is how major theories like Relativity still stand.
    My point is, it is utterly ridiculous to think scientists could all work together for a conspiracy against the public.
    It is clear (at least to me) that many scientists would immediately try to bring out the truth, citing anything that proves the other side is wrong. When it comes to global warming debate it seems there is a large consensus among scientists about the meaning of evidence. I don’t think it would be wise to think it is a conspiracy.

  12. #12 dean
    May 3, 2017

    “It is clear (at least to me) that many scientists w…”

    It should be clear to everyone, because that is how science has and does work.

    The objections raised by the deniers here (and everywhere) of a global conspiracy, that people who study climate are not real scientists, etc., are simply the ignorant and lazy way out — but they are effective for the denialists because, even though they are not supported by reality and the science, they are quick, while the underlying science takes time (and work) to explain and understand.

  13. #13 David
    FL
    May 3, 2017

    Unfortunately, there’s no science in Ethan’s article. We all know the scientific method. Make a hypothesis. Test the hypothesis. Compare the results of your test with the hypothesis. If they agree, you have a good theory. If they don’t agree, you throw out the theory, or at least revise. The first IPCC report came out in 1980, I think. It should be very easy to prove if the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming theory is accurate. Compare the actual rise in temps over the last 37 years with that predicted by the IPCC. All the comparisons I have seen show the IPCC significantly over predicting the amount of warming. So the theory fails. Can anyone show that the first IPCC report made accurate, or even somewhat accurate forecasts of future temp changes? If not, then why do you believe the theory is accurate?

  14. #14 dean
    May 3, 2017

    “If not, then why do you believe the theory is accurate?”

    Because of continued research and refinements, more data, more observation.

    Did you miss that part?

  15. #15 jonathan
    May 3, 2017

    David, I realise that is a commonly held belief in your community (that the IPCC report and other early publications vastly overestimated the amount of warming to expect over the next decades). But it turns out to be completely untrue that the scientific consensus overestimated. There was an excellent article just a few days ago about the arc of Jerry Taylor’s career, who went from professional climate skeptic to climate activist, when he realised that James Hansen’s early predictions from the 1980s were spot on. Please, would you read the article here: https://theintercept.com/2017/04/28/how-a-professional-climate-change-denier-discovered-the-lies-and-decided-to-fight-for-science/ and come back and let me know whether this changes anything for you? This guy was a true believer (in the anti-science camp) and had everything to lose by changing his mind–his lucrative consulting for the conservative groups ALEC and the Cato Institute–and yet he ultimately saw the denialist camp’s dishonesty and extricated himself from that world. Now he is on the side of science.

  16. #16 Denier
    United States
    May 4, 2017

    @Ethan wrote in CotW158 and echoed again here:

    So what do you do when a scientific debate is over and won, and yet the policies and politics of the world refuses to accept the results?

    You should hold open the possibility that if you think one thing and the world thinks something else that it might not be the world that is wrong. It might be you who is deluding themselves.

    On the issue of climate change, there are 2 separate questions. The alarmist crowd, you included, conflates them and in so doing fail to recognize your error.

    Question #1 – Is the Earth’s climate becoming warmer via a process that we can have influence on?

    Question #2 – Should we be doing more to reduce any influence we might be having on warming Earth’s climate?

    Alarmists answer the first question as ‘yes’. They answer it over, and over, and over with a ‘yes’. An avalanche of ‘yes’ is brought to bear on question #1. Alarmists, you included, seem to believe that a strong enough ‘yes’ to question #1 makes question #2 automatically answered. It doesn’t. It is a separate question with its own set of inputs. When you don’t get the answer you like to question #2, ever more ‘yes’ is thrown at question #1 thinking that must be the problem.

    @Ethan wrote:

    Why are they instead about scientific personalities, profitability, conspiracies and hacked emails? Why, instead, aren’t those opposing the science of human-caused climate change pointing to data and scientific arguments?

    This is straight up cringe. Do you really not see the irony here? You are chastising people for personally attacking alarmist advocates as a way of discrediting their arguments by personally attacking denialist advocates as a way of discrediting their arguments.

    @Ethan wrote:

    In any scientific discussion, argument or debate, the starting point is to agree on facts. But if you accept the facts, you must allow them to dissuade you from your position. The truth must be allowed to challenge your preconceptions. You must not cling to your desired conclusions, massaging the facts to fit them and throwing away the ones that don’t. And you must root your conclusions in the data itself, not in your assessment of the scientists taking it or the entities that stand to suffer or benefit from those conclusions.

    Great idea! Let’s look at scientific facts. I’ve tried in the past to get you to look at economic facts but as you seem unwilling to discuss them we’ll stick to science.

    Fact #1 – Technological advances make processes more efficient and that serves to reduce per capita CO2 production in mature economies. In the United States we have been reducing our per capita CO2 production since 1973. The EU countries were a little behind and their per capita CO2 peaked 6 years later in 1979 and has likewise been declining ever since. Time after time after time, in country after country this same pattern has held true.

    Fact #2 – The largest contributor to the increase in global CO2 emissions over the past decade has been China. In the past couple years they are showing that their economy is reaching maturity. As a result Global CO2 emissions have been flat for the past 3 years. That is worth repeating. Despite economic and population growth worldwide there has been NO INCREASE IN CO2 EMISSIONS GLOBALLY FOR 3 YEARS RUNNING.
    ‘https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060051707

    Fact #3 – The rate of global population growth has been slowing. Experts in the field predict global population will peak in the next few decades and decline thereafter. In CotW158 Ethan cited sources that pegged the peak at 40 years from now.

    Fact #4 – There is absolutely no indication that all possible technological advancements and the accompanying productivity gains have already been achieved. We are still learning, still getting more efficient, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

    Seeing as global CO2 emissions are currently flat, population growth is slowing and is set to reverse into population decline, technological advancement is still humming along, and every historical example shows roughly the same peak and decline curve, what do you think the future holds for global CO2 emissions? Well, if you’re Ethan you ignore the scientists doing the demography work and throw out all historical precedent to predict anything other than renewed and continued growth in global CO2 emissions is “wildly unrealistic”. For Ethan to do that and then get on a soapbox to tell everyone else to stop ignoring science and to be open to allowing facts to change preconceived notions is comical. Physician, heal thyself.

    @Ethan wrote:

    Many have argued that scientists should stay out of politics.

    That is right. I did say that and I’m backed by experts in the field. In the piece on the March for Science I quoted Veerabhadran Ramanathan. He is a climate scientist for Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD. Here is the snip again for your reference:

    Ramanathan is sympathetic to the aims of the march, saying, “I think scientists are lost now. Where do we fit in?” But he worries the public demonstration could alienate those who already perceive scientists as politically biased.
    Lately, Ramanathan has been focused on outreach, trying to convince political and religious leaders about the seriousness of climate change.
    He said his efforts with the Obama administration and the Pope have been paying off, resulting in international agreements to crack down on hydrofluorocarbons and a Vatican that puts climate change high on its agenda.
    Ramanathan wants not only liberals, but also conservatives to see him as a neutral expert who can explain climate science without any political agenda.
    “If I participate in the March for Science, I’m concerned I would lose that neutral voice. Even if I remain neutral, the perception would be that I’m a biased activist,” he said.

    ‘http://www.kpbs.org/news/2017/apr/21/why-many-will-march-science-san-diego-and-why-some/

    Ramanathan is a highly awarded Climate Scientist who is active in the field, has worked directly with both President Obama and the Vatican to facilitate International Agreements and Policy. I’d say that makes him an expert. How many International Climate Agreements have you directly worked on? I’m thinking the number is probably zero which makes you a non-expert. I do remember reading here on this blog the knowledge of experts in their field are really what counts and the opinions of non-experts is essentially worthless.

    Ethan wrote:

    What should a scientist do in the face of an overwhelming conclusion being ignored by the entire world outside of the scientific community?

    I’m guessing your answer is ‘ignore icky macroeconomics, crank up the smug, feign obliviousness to fact-based CO2 trends you don’t like, belittle any with an opposing arguments, push for the government to regulate any opinions incompatible with yours, and hammer, hammer, hammer on strengths in hopes no one notices your overall argument for draconian change is half baked at best’. Is that about right?

  17. #17 Dean
    May 4, 2017

    Denier, your opening comment, saying that if many people disagree you should consider the science is wrong, is probably the most asinine piece of crap you’ve ever written.

  18. #18 Ragtag Media
    United States
    May 4, 2017

    @Denier #16 “Is that about right?”
    Well, it’s a decent start where humans can be controlled.
    BUT Not much can be done about the rest of the planet that will CO2 ON.
    Like The World’s Oldest Underground Fire That Has Been Burning For 6,000 Years
    http://gizmodo.com/the-worlds-oldest-underground-fire-has-been-burning-fo-1539049759

    Yep that’s just a start, ya see, there are MILLIONS of tons of coal seam fires that burn uncontrollably dumping tons of pollution into the atmosphere.
    Go resolve that scientist community, that’s a no brainer over telling me I can’t Bar BQ for the 4th of July.

  19. #19 Doug
    United States
    May 4, 2017

    @ David #13. Two things. First, current estimates of warming are well within the error bounds of 1980s predictions, even considering the rather rudimentary tools available to make those estimates at that time (see jonathon’s post (#15) for a spot-on rebuttal of your post). Remember, also, that those forecasts from the 1980s were made under the assumption that no transient or unforeseen things would happen in the system. Such things have happened, and some of them have effected the earth’s energy budget in ways that counteract some of the warming. Despite this, the forecasts are still within those error bounds. Second, there’s more to the AGW hypothesis than just temperature increases. A whole suite of changes to the global system are predicted, some of which can really only happen if enhanced greenhouse content is the reason for current temperature increases. Probably the most telling of these (and the one that seems to get discussed the least, among the denier community) are changes in the structure of upper atmospheric temperatures, which are a clear fingerprint of and enhanced greenhouse world. Here’s a link to a technical article about this, but you can easily find non-technical summaries. http://www.pnas.org/content/110/43/17235.full.pdf
    Full disclosure — I am a scientist, engaged in climate-related research, and if it’s all a big conspiracy to get money from the government, I want my check.

  20. #20 Ragtag Media
    May 4, 2017

    @ Anonymous Coward #10
    Read and Learn Me’boy read and learn..:
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/04/30/why-climate-science-is-a-textbook-example-of-groupthink/

  21. #21 Denier
    United States
    May 4, 2017

    @dean wrote:

    Denier, your opening comment, saying that if many people disagree you should consider the science is wrong, is probably the most asinine piece of crap you’ve ever written.

    That is not what I wrote. There is science……and then there is policy. Science is over there in that room and then waaaaay over here is policy. They are not the same thing. What I am conveying is that Climate Alarmists are like turn of the century Doomsday Preppers churning out article after article on how the Y2K bug is going to collapse human civilization while condemning everyone who doesn’t rush out to buy AR15s and rations. I’m not saying the Y2K bug wasn’t necessarily a real thing but the autistic screeching by the true believers was completely ridiculous.

  22. #22 Denier
    United States
    May 4, 2017

    @Doug wrote (#19):

    current estimates of warming are well within the error bounds of 1980s predictions, even considering the rather rudimentary tools available to make those estimates at that time (see jonathon’s post (#15) for a spot-on rebuttal of your post)

    @jonathan wrote (#15):

    James Hansen’s early predictions from the 1980s were spot on.

    James Hansen famously predicted in 1988 that global sea levels would rise 10 feet by 2028 and submerge New York’s West Side Highway. Since that time New York tide gauges have reported about 2.5 inches of rise. That means for James Hansen’s prediction from the 1980’s to be “spot on” ocean levels are going to rise by 9 feet and 10 inches in the next 11 years. Methinks your faith is misplaced but if either of you want to wager on it I’m more than willing to put my money where my mouth is. Are you?

  23. #23 Doug
    United States
    May 4, 2017

    Denier — My comments referred to forecasts of temperature trends, which should be obvious from the context of the comment.

  24. #24 Denier
    United States
    May 4, 2017

    Doug — David’s #13 comments referred to the forecasts of temperature trends in the first IPCC report, which should be obvious from the context of the comment.

    Snark aside, I did really like this comment of yours:

    …made under the assumption that no transient or unforeseen things would happen in the system

    That is a little like saying the model was constructed under the assumption that the model was correct. It is self referencing.

    While it may be true that you can cherry-pick specific models that are within error bars between cherry-picked years, I can more easily point to models that are not.

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/CMIP5-73-models-vs-obs-20N-20S-MT-5-yr-means1.png

    The truth is that accurately modeling climate is a hideously complex task. We’re not there yet. Scientists need to put error bars on their predictions because they aren’t so deluded in private as to believe their models have it 100% down with everything accounted for.

  25. #25 Frank
    Omaha,NE
    May 4, 2017

    #20:
    So maybe AGW is not a conspiracy but an “textbook” example of groupthink?
    Almost all scientists thought that “continents can’t “drift,” that Newton’s laws were immutable” but they turned out to be wrong?

    Is it possible what really changed minds of scientists, was new evidence going contrary to the previous theory but supporting the new theory?
    If you didn’t know these:
    When the small but significant problem about orbit of Mercury was discovered scientists first tried to find an explanation using Newton mechanics.
    Which lead to possibility of an undiscovered planet.
    They calculated where the new planet should be and searched but couldn’t found it.
    But calculations done with Einstein’s Relativity provided an explanation.
    Was that enough to accept Relativity over Newton mechanics?
    No. Not until bending of spacetime (the most crazy claim of relativity?) was actually verified by making observations during a solar eclipse.
    Even after that countless scientists kept claiming Relativity is wrong (to this day).
    But what happened always was new experiments and observations kept supporting Relativity instead of counter ideas.

    What makes a theory supported by the majority of scientists is not groupthink and neither conspiracy; it is the support of evidence!

  26. #26 Doug
    United States
    May 4, 2017

    “The truth is that accurately modeling climate is a hideously complex task.”

    Yea, I know. I’m one of the people who does it.

    “That is a little like saying the model was constructed under the assumption that the model was correct. It is self referencing.”

    No, it’s not the least bit like saying that. It’s more like saying we can’t factor in the effects of other things, like volcanic eruptions and land cover change (both of which can effect temperature), so we assume they won’t happen, even though we know they actually will.

    ” Scientists need to put error bars on their predictions because they aren’t so deluded in private as to believe their models have it 100% down with everything accounted for.”

    Of course not. No scientist and certainly no climatologist has ever thought they had everything 100% accounted for. This is a particularly specious strawman argument. The point is, even with a very crude model and a highly dynamic phenomenon, Hansen’s predictions were within the error margin of current conditions. Current models are much better than the ones thirty years ago. Add to this the fact that the model predictions are not really even the most compelling evidence of a human signal in climate change and that predictions you can make based on (relatively) simple physics agree with current observations and it adds up to a pretty convincing case. See my earlier link for what I believe is the most compelling evidence of all, and what finally sealed the deal for me. I was actually a denier until about ten years ago, but can’t be anymore. There just too much evidence piling up. One of the things that was not well known back in the 80s was the effect clouds. Much more now known, and yet the conclusions haven’t changed much. Every time more evidence has accumulated, and better tools have become available, the story has largely stayed the same.

  27. #27 Denier
    May 4, 2017

    @Doug

    Scientists need to put error bars on their predictions because they aren’t so deluded in private as to believe their models have it 100% down with everything accounted for.

    No scientist and certainly no climatologist has ever thought they had everything 100% accounted for. This is a particularly specious strawman argument.

    Too funny! Did you really just agree with me completely and then call the same sentiment a ‘specious strawman’ in back-to-back sentences?

  28. #28 dean
    May 4, 2017

    “James Hansen famously predicted in 1988 that global sea levels would rise 10 feet by 2028 ”

    Only an idiot would think that prediction means all of climate science is wrong.

    Oh, denier believes it — my comment was correct. Do you ever get tired of being dishonest?

  29. #29 David
    FL
    May 4, 2017

    Jonathan #13 and Doug #19. Thanks for your comments. But I think I haven’t quite made myself clear about what I’m looking for – and hopefully you can help. Jonathan’s link was nice, but it wasn’t science. It was anecdotal. It was about a skeptic who re-read Hansen’s article, did a little more research and then changed his mind. Okay. Good for him. But why did he change his mind. He said a lot of Hansen’s predictions were accurate. Great. Can you show me which ones?

    I don’t really think this should be difficult. But I have asked it many, many times and no one seems to be able to provide the proof that the climate models work. There are a lot of links saying that models work, but I don’t see any evidence that they actually do work. All the comparisons I’ve seen of the IPCCs model predictions versus actual temp changes show the models don’t work very well. If you say they do, great. Can you show me? If I believed in CAGW, and a skeptic argued against it, the first thing I’d show him is that for the last 27 years, the models have done a good job of predicting global temp changes.

    Doug, I realize that the models can’t predict all the changes that happen in the atmosphere. But you want us to believe that continuing to increase the CO2 levels will lead to a catastrophic temp increase. We should be able to see how well your models have done for the last few decades.

    Doug, your link was the kind of evidence I am looking for. It’s certainly a good start to making your case. I have a couple of problems with it though. First, while I can follow the general principles, I don’t know nearly enough about statistics or the atmosphere to fairly evaluate it. More fundamentally, it looks like they’re building another statistical model to validate the climate models. Like I said, it’s a start, but it’s not really science.

    General relatively wasn’t validated by building a statistical model of how the sun would bend starlight. GR made the prediction and the prediction was observed. I don’t think the climate models actually predicted the results your linked talked about. It seems like after the fact, the authors thought if we built this model, it would help validate the climate models. I could be wrong, but that what it looks like to me.

    I think what I’m asking for is simple. What are some of the predictions the theory of CAGW makes? And how have those predictions fared? I think the temp changes is the simplest one, and the most important. I believe man is responsible for warming the atmosphere. I believe in AGW. I just don’t believe in catastrophic AGW. And you need the climate models to put the C in CAGW. It’s one thing to say man is partly responsible for warming of the earth. It’s a completely different thing to say “and it will be catastrophic”. Where is the evidence AGW will be a problem? I’ve looked very hard for it. If you could provide it, I would greatly appreciate it.

  30. #30 Doug
    United States
    May 4, 2017

    “Too funny! Did you really just agree with me completely and then call the same sentiment a ‘specious strawman’ in back-to-back sentences?”

    Yes and no. Your statement about error bars is correct. Your assertion that error bars are somehow only considered in private, and your corresponding implication of public delusion is the specious strawman.

    Frank — no one ever said “continents can’t drift”, what they said was that no one had demonstrated a viable theory for what moves them. Once plate tectonic theory was proposed, it became widely accepted by the geological community because it worked. In this respect, it is similar to AGW theory in climate science. Interestingly enough, there were (and are) some geologists who don’t really accept it. These are the geological analogs to the current deniers.

    David — This is the part where, if you were in my class, you’d be doing homework. The answer to your question takes an awfully long time to impart, and it requires a mind that is fully ready to learn. You’re going to have to be willing to make the trip from being a denier, to being a skeptic, which fundamentally means taking on an open mind. If you’re really willing to do that, then the best advice I can give you is to go to the excellent EDX site and register for an online course called Global Warming Science, taught by Kerry Emmanual of MIT. This will get you up to speed on the basic science, as well as giving you some insight into the nature of the problem. Next, go to the Coursera site and enroll in Global Warming I, taught by David Archer. This will expand your understanding of the climate system and give you access to some models that will help you understand how the various bits of the system fit together. It also includes sections on the impacts of climate changes on various socio-economic factors, so it can help yo u understand what the potential impacts might be on human activities. (This class, BTW, is very similar to one I teach on the subject) Finally, I would recommend DEnial 101, on EDX. This course is directly concerned with showing that denialism is just that, an idiological stance without any real scientific merit. If you do all of these things, and you do them with an open mind, you will have made a pretty good start on answering your own questions. Be forwarned, though, this will be a hell of a lot of work. Learning is not a passive activity, and a lazy approach will get you nowhere. Once you’re done with all of this, you’ll have a much better idea why the paper I cited above is such an overwhelming piece of evidence, and as a bonus you may have a better understanding of what statistical modeling actually means. Again, whether you do this or not is up to you, but if you want to really be in the conversation, and not just yet another graduate of Google U, this is the cost. Personally, I have finals to write and grade, and I’ve spent a bit too much time here already, so I’ll sign off. I will say, in closing, that if you do these things, you’ll have my respect, which I do not give to the deniers.

    Bye, everybody! It’s been fun.

  31. #31 Jonathan
    May 4, 2017

    David#29: thanks for following up. Ha, I’m not trying to be a jerk, but I think you are smart enough to see the humour in what you wrote:

    David #13: early predictions were way off, weren’t they?
    Jonathan #15: [provides link to an article]
    David #29: nice article, but it’s anecdotal. Where’s the science?
    Doug #19: [provides link to an excellent scientific article]
    David #29: Thanks, but I don’t understand all the statistics.

    I wouldn’t be able to do any better than the links Doug has provided. It does sound like a lot of work but that’s the price for understanding something properly when it is complex. I think if you can’t put in the time and effort yourself then you have to ask yourself why you would choose to believe that the people who devote their career to this stuff have got it all wrong. (Yes, some people believe it’s actually a conspiracy on the part of tens of thousands of scientists, but that is just insane.) It’s especially striking that there is such agreement, given that scientists LOVE to show that the consensus is wrong.

    Re where the “C” in CAGW comes from: it is also common to believe that effects of AGW won’t be too bad, because psychologically we are ill-prepared to envisage drastic negative changes in the world around us. And most people think a few degrees warmer doesn’t even feel so different, so what’s the big deal? “Life will find a way”–of course life will, but this won’t occur without big changes and upheavals, and our cosy comfortable civilisation might not so easily find a way (at least not without a lot of pain). Apart from the enormous upheaval GW will have on wild animals and plants, who won’t be able to follow the ecological zones they have evolved to live in, and the die-offs that will occur, there will be great upheaval in agriculture which will surely lead to popular uprisings due to food insecurity. It’s not just climate scientists, but economists predicting enormous losses, military leaders pointing out the effects on national security, etc. (see https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/14/military-experts-climate-change-significant-security-risk ).

  32. #32 CFT
    May 4, 2017

    So Ethan doesn’t think (meaning he hasn’t looked) there are any good scientific arguments against carbon dioxide as being the primary climate driver. He glides over the fact that much higher levels of carbon dioxide did not drive climate temperature in the past, even when it was in much higher concentrations in our atmosphere, there is also no historical evidence of any runaway greenhouse effects occurring at all at any period of the planets past.
    .
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/06/04/dr-vincent-gray-on-historical-carbon-dioxide-levels/
    .
    And of course, all the scientists who dispute Ethan are without cause and completely irrational, Like say Dr. Judith Curry, Dr. Tim Ball, Dr. Richard Lindzen, Dr. Roy Spencer, Dr. John Christy, Dr. Nir Shaviv, Dr. William Happer, or my personal favorite, the great science denier and heretic (his own words) Freeman Dyson. How dare they defy the logic of herds. The nerve of some people.
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pou3sGedeK4
    .
    It’s easy to hold to any position when you refuse to even acknowledge others and their arguments as having any scientific merit. Ethan is so convinced he is correct he doesn’t even bother to fact check at all. The 97% consensus is pretty bogus as well.
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWqDBudgC8c
    .
    Ethan, do you even try to research your subject material before you open your mouth or are you so convinced of your superiority amongst your peers that you don’t think you have to bother? Get off your complacent butt and do some digging of your own before you mislead.
    .
    Would you honestly like to hold your scientific accomplishments, contributions and ability up against any I mention, or call them anti science or irrational? Go for it genius.

  33. #33 Denier
    United States
    May 5, 2017

    @Jonathan wrote:

    psychologically we are ill-prepared to envisage drastic negative changes in the world around us

    The exact opposite it true. Human are psychological superstars at the ability to envisage drastic negative changes in the world around us. The treats of nuclear war during the Cold War Era, the threat of terrorism today, the popularity of horror movies and dystopian stories, the way the news media teases viewers with horror without providing any details to get them to hold on through the commercials before getting the story, and that we have the term ‘fear mongering’ all speak to how wired we all are on a primal level to imagine drastic negative changes.

    @Jonathan wrote:

    our cosy comfortable civilisation might not so easily find a way

    Where human civilization finds the most comfort is fairly easy to pick out when you look at history. Here is a fun web page with a timeline video map showing the appearance of human civilizations: http://metrocosm.com/history-of-cities/

    Did you notice a trend? It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, Far East Asia, or the Americas. Human Civilization is most easily facilitated where it is warm. We didn’t get civilization in the cooler climates until over 3 millennia after the first warm weather ones. To claim that civilization needs it to be colder is completely ridiculous and without the slightest basis in reality.

    @Jonathan wrote:

    the enormous upheaval GW will have on wild animals and plants…and the die-offs that will occur

    The most biodiverse places on our planet are the equatorial jungles. Want to know where life is rare? Central Antarctica. In some places on the frozen continent it is even difficult to find bacteria. Plants and animals, generally speaking, like it warmer.

    @Jonathan wrote:

    upheaval in agriculture which will surely lead to popular uprisings due to food insecurity

    In reality we have demonstrated that we can grow plants in the Sahara Desert if we want to. We have so much fertile farmland that we are paying farmers to not grow crops just to restrict supply somewhat to help prop up prices. As seems to be the theme here, plants are showing they like the warmer climate and slightly elevated CO2. Satellite data has been showing significant greening over the last 35 years. This isn’t projections. It is real data.

    ‘https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2436/co2-is-making-earth-greenerfor-now/

    @David wrote:

    I believe man is responsible for warming the atmosphere. I believe in AGW. I just don’t believe in catastrophic AGW…Where is the evidence AGW will be a problem?

    I’m with you on all counts. Earth is warming. Humans are contributing to that warming. No predictions of imminent catastrophic doom stemming from AGW that I’ve seen pass even cursory examination. Virtually all of it is like the unsupported fluff Jonathan just wrote.

  34. #34 Denier
    May 5, 2017

    Doug wrote:

    I have finals to write and grade, and I’ve spent a bit too much time here already, so I’ll sign off. … Bye, everybody! It’s been fun.

    I do want to thank you for stopping by and daring to chime in. It is rare when an actual Climate Scientist is willing to do so in an environment such as this. I’m not saying that to be a dick. Most Climate Scientists seem unwilling to mix it up with deniers. I appreciate your willingness to do so and hope to see you on the boards again.

  35. #35 Jonathan
    May 5, 2017

    Everything in Denier’s reply to me is tainted with deceitfulness and straw-manning. Let me take just one example, where he is responding to my statement that GW would have an upheaval on wild anaimals and plants, leading to die-offs:

    “The most biodiverse places on our planet are the equatorial jungles. Want to know where life is rare? Central Antarctica. In some places on the frozen continent it is even difficult to find bacteria. Plants and animals, generally speaking, like it warmer.”

    Is there anyone stupid enough to be misled by this? It’s not about the temperature, it’s about the *change* in temperature occurring at a greater rate than species can adapt to. Yes, once all ecological systems have stabilised in a climate that is (for example) 5 degrees C warmer than now, there’s no reason to expect biodiversity–albeit with changed distributions and populations–wouldn’t rebound (absent additional pressures caused by human civilisation’s response to the warming, which is a stretch). BUT this will take many, many human lifetimes and in the meantime billions of people will be born and will die in a world where very many species will be struggling to survive, and many won’t make it.

    What you write is full of dishonest misleading bullshit like this, and you should be ashamed.

    But one other comment, this one about your response to my claim that we are ill-equipped to imagine never-before-seen changes in the world around us: all of your examples (at least the serious ones, I don’t count horror movies as no one is seriously afraid of supernatural threats) are about things that we certainly *can* imagine easily BECAUSE THEY HAVE HAPPENED BEFORE. Terrorist attacks–absolutely, people overestimate their danger (it has happened before). But envisaging the 9/11 attacks before they happened? This is actually a common instance of “failure of the imagination”, even referenced in the wikipedia article of that title. Many social scientists and historians have pointed out people’s blindness to the possibility of large changes in the foundations of their societies. You mention the fear of nuclear war–guess what, this was at its height SHORTLY AFTER ONE COUNTRY DROPPED A COUPLE OF BOMBS ON ANOTHER. With global warming, all the same people who overestimate the likelihood of terrorist attacks–because they are following their non-rational gut–also far underestimate the danger of global warming, because they are not using their brains but their guts, and their gut tells them “c’mon, grow up, it couldn’t possibly be so bad”.

  36. #36 Denier
    United States
    May 5, 2017

    Jonathan wrote:

    Denier’s reply to me is…deceitfulness…straw-manning…dishonest misleading bullshit…and you should be ashamed.

    Just because your ideas are stupid and easily exposed as such, don’t hate the Playa’. Now let’s take a look at your latest silliness.

    Jonathan wrote:

    it’s about the *change* in temperature occurring at a greater rate than species can adapt to.

    In the previous post I provided a source showing significant greening over the last 35 years. This is an *INCREASE* in biodensity represented in real world data. It is an increase of resources available to both plant and animal species. There is no later “rebound” because there is no dip. There may be anecdotal instances where some previous niche species gets out-competed by a different species better suited to whatever change has taken place, but the net result is increased biodensity, and as exemplified by equatorial jungles, increased biodiversity as well. Increased temperature is a net win for life and there is already hard evidence to prove it.

    Jonathan wrote:

    … your response to my claim that we are ill-equipped to imagine never-before-seen changes in the world around us

    Actually you never made a claim about “never-before-seen” changes but this new claim is more ridiculous than your last semi-related one. If you seriously think human imagination is incapable of picturing something it has never seen before, how to you explain the work of artists and story tellers? How to you explain dreams and nightmares?

    Jonathan wrote:

    This is actually a common instance of “failure of the imagination”

    Ignoring for a moment there is an entire industry devoted to predicting climate change and so by definition it can’t be a ‘Black Swan Event’, you have conjured a global warming hellscape in your mind’s eye while at the same time claiming humans can’t imagine such things. Do you believe that you are super-human? Just curious.

    Jonathan wrote:

    no one is seriously afraid of supernatural threats

    Ah, another great one. In the United States 9.7% of the population is afraid of ghosts and that doesn’t even get into religious fear of angry deities or consequences such as banishment to hell for the unworthy.

    Jonathan, I can hardly wait to see what you come up with next.

  37. #37 David
    FL
    May 5, 2017

    Jonathan #31. I appreciate your response. But with all due respect, I don’t think you understood any of the points I was trying to make. Let’s start with the most important and go forward. The main point I was making was this: Where is the proof that the climate models work? The IPCC has been making climate projections for 27 years. How have those projections worked out? It seems to be simple question, but no one seems to want to, or perhaps more accurately, can not answer it – because the models don’t work. One of the biggest reasons I don’t believe in CAGW is because I have asked 30 or 40 or 50 times for someone to provide evidence that the models work. No one has provided evidence. That makes me highly suspicious. It makes me think the evidence that the models work doesn’t exist.

    If you don’t have any evidence that the models work, why do you believe they work?

    You also misunderstand my point about Doug’s link. While I don’t know enough to fairly evaluate it, I understand the points they are making. But the main point I was making was that you can’t really use a statistical model to validate another statistical model. Science doesn’t work like that. A theory has to make a prediction and then you test if those predictions are accurate.

    But even if his link does prove what it says it doesn’t, it still doesn’t validate CAGW. That paper attempts to prove that humans are influencing the climate. That is, it tries to prove AGW. But I always agree with AGW. It doesn’t prove that the human influence will be bad.

    You also don’t understand my point about the C in CAGW. For some reason, you seem to assume that I think a few degrees warming won’t be a problem. I don’t know why you think that. I never said it or even implied it. I believe a 3C increase will be bad. But the point is, I don’t see any evidence there will be a 3C or more rise in temps. Again, that’s why you need to show the climate models work to believe in CAGW. The models are based on a positive feedback mechanism(s) with the increase in CO2. But if those feedback mechanisms don’t exist, the world is not in danger even if humans are influencing climate.

  38. #38 Jonathan
    May 5, 2017

    David, thanks for your civil reply. Sorry if mine seemed glib. I don’t understand why you’ve found it difficult to verify claims of GW. There is a page here that has details about how earlier IPCC estimates have all tended to *under*estimate several of the indicators, notably sealevel rise and polar meltage: http://www.climatecentral.org/news/ipcc-predictions-then-versus-now-15340

    and this, probably more germane to your question about temperature, was at the top of the list for a google search on history of IPCC climate projections:

    https://skepticalscience.com/contary-to-contrarians-ipcc-temp-projections-accurate.html

    That article was written in 2012, and given that the last five years have included several of the hottest years on record, it is safe to say that the performance of those early estimates will be even better now than it appeared in 2012.

    I’m sorry if I jumped to the conclusion that you would believe a 3-degree raise could conceivably be alright. If you believe a 3-degree rise would be catastrophic, as do I, and you believe it is worth working against such a catastrophe, then I believe that if you look carefully at the success of the forecasting models to date, and you take into account the expected and well-understood lag in temperature increases due to the heat sink in the ocean, then you will not find it hard to conclude that the vast consensus is not alarmist, and that we are indeed headed for a catastrophe unless some major changes are made.

  39. #39 Jonathan
    May 5, 2017

    Denier, again with the misleading representation of what I wrote: “If you seriously think human imagination is incapable of picturing something it has never seen before, how to you explain the work of artists and story tellers?”

    It’s clearly not the “imagining” that’s the problem, it’s the *believing* that it could actually happen, that’s the problem. It’s a well-understood cognitive bias that means we discount the future likelihood of great change. For anyone who is interested (obviously not you, as you are clearly not engaging honestly), there is a book that goes into detail on the topic called “Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired To Ignore Climate Change”. For whatever reason, probably ideological, Denier and others like him, some of whom are otherwise smart and rational, are unable to see past their own cognitive biases on this topic. There is a large set of reviews of the book linked on this page: http://www.climateconviction.org/reviews.html

  40. #40 Jonathan
    May 5, 2017

    David, thanks for your civil reply and sorry for any glibness in mine. I’m not sure why you’re having trouble finding validation for the early predictions by the IPCC. This was easy to find:

    https://skepticalscience.com/contary-to-contrarians-ipcc-temp-projections-accurate.html

    And given that that was from 2012, and since then we have had several of the hottest years on record, those early predictions would be even more accurate now than they appeared to be in 2012. Here is a more recent article evaluating the accuracy of projections and finding them better than previously believed (though you will need to get the article unlocked somehow): http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL064888/full

    I have access through my institution and will email a copy to you if you ask. Or I found a mention in the press here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2015/jul/31/climate-models-are-even-more-accurate-than-you-thought

    I’m sorry I assumed you were one of the people who thought a 3-degree raise would not be catastrophic. I think that if you believe 3C would be catastrophic (as I do), and that it is worth doing a lot to avoid that catastrophe, it will not be hard to reach the conclusion that the scientific consensus is not at all alarmist, and in fact has been very careful not to overstate the case.

    Let me know if that information is convincing at all.

  41. #41 Jonathan
    May 5, 2017

    (Oops sorry David, I thought my first post had disappeared and so I rewrote it.)

  42. #42 Ragtag Media
    United States
    May 6, 2017

    Jonathan, Climate science is 97% fake data, fake models, and fake scientists. So pontificating on any of the Bull Shit data is stupid cause it’s all FAKE!.

    “Climate Scientist ” have FLIPPIN BROKEN “SCIENCE”.
    Or at least the public “Trust” in Science.

    Caution to TRUE Scientist, You Would Be WISE To Distance Yourselves From These CHARLATANS Least They Bring Your Specific Field Down With Them.

    Science Is Broken. How Much Should We Fix It?
    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2017/05/science_is_broken_how_much_should_we_fix_it.html

  43. #43 Denier
    United States
    May 6, 2017

    Jonathan wrote:

    Denier, again with the misleading representation of what I wrote…It’s clearly not the “imagining” that’s the problem, it’s the *believing*

    You do know people can read what you wrote, right? Inserting a ‘never-before-seen’ or changing ‘imagine’ to ‘believe’ is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It is not the odd word that is the problem. The thoughts themselves are dumb and easily proved false. I’ve noticed that as the conversation has progressed you’ve abandoned even trying to support your visions of doom and have stooped to recommending religious texts with mangled pop-psychology explanations as to why even those who do subscribe to the scientifically valid parts of AGW theory still won’t join your cult of imminent dystopia. I will agree with you on one thing: The reason more people, including the ones who worship your same god, aren’t willing to join you in wiring up with explosives and detonating themselves in a crowded economy in hopes of hurting some infidels is because they don’t *believe* as you do. It is the *believing* that is the problem and the entire Earth is better for it.

  44. #44 Denier
    May 6, 2017

    Jonathan wrote:

    Oops sorry David, I thought my first post had disappeared and so I rewrote it.

    This board only allows one link per post on auto-authorization. If you put in more than one link it gets held until Ethan reads and releases it. If you want to put in more than one link just put a single-quote in front of the http, as in ‘http://www.google.com. Done that way the board doesn’t detect it as a link and won’t quarantine your post.

  45. #45 Jonathan
    May 6, 2017

    Denier: “You do know people can read what you wrote, right? ”

    I hope they do go and read what I wrote and what you wrote, so they can come to the obvious conclusion that you love to pick apart the trivial, what you think are inconsistencies, all the while dancing around the facts and the difficult-to-avoid proof of the matter. And somehow you think that you, who have no expertise and only love to argue, have better insight into the earth’s climate systems than the people doing the work. You don’t quibble with the science, for in your mediocrity you cannot, instead you point out inconsistencies in internet commenters’ posts, and think that that’s enough. Well it’s not. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2016/sep/21/375-top-scientists-warn-of-real-serious-immediate-climate-threat

    Ragtag Media: sure, simply say the data is no good when it doesn’t agree with you. How about you point to an example of fake data in, say, the latest IPCC documents, then we can talk. Otherwise you’re just the politician who says “it’s all lies, all fake news” rather than make an explicit claim about what’s incorrect. And that is a clear sign of who isn’t arguing honestly.

  46. #46 Ragtag Media
    United States
    May 7, 2017

    Here Jonathan:
    https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/massive-tampering-with-temperatures-in-south-america/
    There are just three genuinely rural stations in Paraguay that are currently operating – Puerto Casado, Mariscal and San Juan. They all show a clear and steady upward trend since the 1950’s, with 2014 at the top, for instance at Puerto Casada.

    It could not be more clearcut, could it? However, it all looks a bit too convenient, so I thought I would check out the raw data (which is only available up to 2011 on the GISS site, so the last three years cannot be compared). Lo and behold!

    As we so often see, the past has been cooled.

    GHCN show the extent to which they have adjusted temperatures, the best part of 2 degree centigrade.

    Of course, there may be a genuine problem with Puerto Casada’s record, except that we see exactly the same thing happening at the other two Paraguayan sites.

    So we find that a large chunk of Gavin’s hottest year is centred around a large chunk of South America, where there is little actual data, and where the data that does exist has been adjusted out of all relation to reality.

    Even by GHCN standards, this tampering takes some beating.

    IE FAKE!!!

  47. #47 Ragtag Media
    May 7, 2017

    More Jonathon:

    Raw temperature data show that U.S. temperatures were significantly warmer during the 1930s than they are today. In fact, raw temperature data show an 80-year cooling trend. NOAA is only able to claim that we are experiencing the hottest temperatures on record by doctoring the raw temperature data.

    Doctoring real-world temperature data is as much a part of the alarmist playbook as is calling skeptical scientists at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, MIT, NASA, NOAA, etc., “anti-science.” Faced with the embarrassing fact that real-world temperature readings don’t show any U.S. warming during the past 80 years, the alarmists who oversee the collection and reporting of the data simply erase the actual readings and substitute their own desired readings in their place. If this shocks you, you are not alone.
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2012/06/13/doctored-data-not-u-s-temperatures-set-a-record-this-year/#76dda6bb6184

    The bureaucracy at NOAA and NASA who report the U.S. temperature data undertake what they term “correcting” the RAW DATA.

    IE FAKE DATA!!!

  48. #48 Ragtag Media
    May 7, 2017

    OH Jonathon, about the IPCC, did you see this buried in their document?
    ” In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”
    https://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/505.htm

    Therefore anything they say that they about future climate events should not be taken as FACT because they say it’s IMPOSSIBLE!!!

    And the Irony of the IPCC Paper there is the name title “The Scientific Basis”
    LMAO!!!

  49. #49 Ragtag Media
    United States
    May 7, 2017

    @Jonathan, Here on the Mythical 97% Agree Meme:
    CFT alluded to this BS Scam back in post #32.

    And I would like to add another video post from Prager University by Alex Epstein who ask BASIC SCIENCE questions regarding the 97% consensus ” What exactly do they agree on” and ” HOW Did They PROVE It”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSrjAXK5pGw
    John Cook seems to be the bearer of FAKE FACTS!!!

  50. #50 dean
    May 7, 2017

    Jonathan, you are wasting your time with ragtag and denier.

    Denier is on record as saying climate scientists aren’t really scientists–that they aren’t smart enough to study “real” science. (Of course, he’s said climate science is false because the results still have error bars too, so that gives you an idea of his knowledge.)

    Ragtag – well, he’s just a liar who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Links from prager “university” (dogma site for the terminally dishonest) show his lack of intellect.

  51. #51 Jonathan
    May 7, 2017

    Ragtag Media wrote [a bunch of stuff].

    I’ll just answer the first thing from your post, because this is a huge waste of time:

    [RM]: “Raw temperature data show that U.S. temperatures were significantly warmer during the 1930s than they are today. In fact, raw temperature data show an 80-year cooling trend. NOAA is only able to claim that we are experiencing the hottest temperatures on record by doctoring the raw temperature data.”

    You call it “doctoring” because you don’t understand how data is combined from different sources and different time series, and you hope someone will believe you that it is evidence of nefariousness, when it is simply the only way to do science properly. There are explanations available at all levels of scientific literacy; since you are an ignoramus I’ll excerpt an explanation from a newspaper article:

    ” Volunteers have been logging measurements from weather stations around the world for over 150 years, and climate scientists use that data to estimate the Earth’s average surface temperature. But over a 150-year period, things change, as the authors of this study explain: Stations have moved to different locations over the past 150 years, most more than once. They have changed instruments from mercury thermometers to electronic sensors, and have changed the time they take temperature measurements from afternoon to morning. Cities have grown up around stations, and some weather stations are not ideally located. All of these issues introduce inconsistencies into the temperature record.

    To find out how much actual temperatures have changed, scientists have to filter out these changes in the way the measurements were taken. Those are the adjustments under attack from Lamar Smith. They’re important, scientifically justified, and documented in the peer-reviewed literature.”

    [end of quote–Jonathan again]: there are similarly understandable, easily available explanations for all your crazed complaints about scientific conspiracies.

    Yes you can find insane and/or evil people out there claiming it’s all a hoax, Donald Trump-style. But to sane people there is an explanation more consistent with reality.

  52. #52 jonathan
    May 7, 2017

    Dean, thanks, yes, I know – neither Denier nor Ragtag Media is operating in good faith. Whatever I or anyone more knowledgable post, they won’t acknowledge even when it becomes clear they are full of it, and their objections are wrongheaded. They are not open to their minds being changed (if those opinions are even arrived at sincerely in the first place). But maybe someone else reading, who is new to the debate and unsure/impressionable, might otherwise think there could be something to what they say, if no one points out where they are misleading. It’s a drag, yes.

  53. #53 David
    FL
    May 7, 2017

    Jonathan, SkepticalScientist??? Are you serious??? I have seen many examples of fake or highly misleading posts on that site. And given the other graphs I’ve seen on the subject and what a lot of warmists say about the climate models, I guarantee you that graph is not accurate. And there’s no way to verify his graphs. If you have to rely on SkepticalScience to prove the models work, then, I think, you are in serious trouble.

    Your third link to the Guardian is a little better. But not much. You do realize the Guardian is about as far left as you can get in the UK media and still be somewhat respectable. Yes, the Guardian has a lot more credibility than SkepticalScience, but it’s hardly a reliable source for climate change news. And think about what the report it’s talking about is saying, and think about how it relates to SekpticalScience. The report in the Guardian link admits that the climate models have overestimated the amount of actual warming by a significant degree. This flies in the face of the SkepticalScience article. One of them has to be wrong. In this case, my vote is strongly the SS is wrong.

    The report on the Guardian link essentially says, yes, if you compare the IPCC projections versus the actual data, the models are wrong. But that’s because of measurement errors. The IPCC projections are based on air temps. The HADCRUT temps are a combination of air and sea temps. So if we build a model to estimate the air temps over the seas rather than the sea temps, then the IPCC projections look good.

    Sorry, but if you conduct an experiment to validate your theory, and the data comes back and does not support your theory, then you build a model to adjust the data so it validates your theory — that’s not science. Really, Jonathan, think about. The IPCC and just about everyone else in the climate change community has been using HADCRUT, (and GISS etc) data. This report says: “Well, if you adjust the data based on our model, then the IPCC projections are right”. Do you really think that’s a winning argument? I don’t.

    Finally, your second link. Yes, if you could email me a copy, I would appreciate it. I can’t access it. My junk email address is davidging@msn.com. I don’t want to give my real address in this forum.

    But my question to that link is this: Why do I have to go behind a paywall/educationwall to find out that the models work??? In the last 27 years, hasn’t the IPCC published a report validating their models. How many $100s of millions has the US govt and other govt spent on the IPCC. Shouldn’t they make the validity of their models freely available to the tax payers??? I’m paying for this research. Why can’t I know the results? It’s not a state secret. They want me to agree to fork over even more tax money to mitigate the consequences. Shouldn’t I be able to validate those consequences.

    Jonathan, I’m really not trying to be a pain in the ass. I’m just trying to give you the skeptic side in a (hopefully) thoughtful argument. I’ll say it again for the umpteenth time. Where is the evidence that climate model projections are accurate. They have been running them for 27 years. Surely, someone must have the evidence that over the last 27 years the models have worked.

    The evidence can’t rely on a far left climate change blog site, or a report that admits the climate models don’t work unless you adjust the data according to a climate change believers model, or unless your allowed on the high priestly caste of university reports.

    Please, please, please — again please – give my your best evidence that the climate models work. That if man continues producing CO2 temps will increase 3C or more. I don’t see it. You haven’t produced it. Why is it so hard to get that answer? It shouldn’t be. Please help me. Tell me why you think the climate models are correct. Please tell me if we do nothing the Earth will warm 3C or more? Thanks.

  54. #54 Jonathan
    May 8, 2017

    David, I put a pdf of the article on validating climate predictions here: https://www.scribd.com/document/347702781/Cowtan-Et-Al-2015-Geophysical-Research-Letters .

    About the website skeptical science which I linked to: I see now after a quick search that many in the denier community have attacked this website in the past, but I’ve not seen any well-documented demonstration that it presents false information, or presents information misleadingly.

    As to the discrepancy you think you find between the skeptical science article and the guardian article: the one points out that actual temperature readings are within the error bars on the original predictions, but on the lower side. The other reveals that with more sophisticated analysis the actual data is closer to the central predictions than was previously thought. It’s not that complicated a relationship. The article in Geophysical Research Letters fleshes out the technical details. “High priestly caste of university reports”–please, this is ridiculous and anti-elitist. Who else should be carrying out research untainted by industry’s needs than university researchers, and how else should they share it other than via a technical research report in a peer-reviewed publication? It’s annoying that it’s not publically viewable by anyone without a subscription, but more and more scientists support open publication (often you can find preprints that are publically viewable).

    Finally it’s hard to understand why, if you believe that man-made activity causes increases in temperature through the greenhouse effect–an effect which has been well understood since long before industrial activity actually *produced* this effect and it became polticised by those who want business as usual–why you question that the temperature will continue to rise? It’s like the people who deny evolution could produce new species: sure, they say, it can produce little changes, but turning moles into monkeys into men, never! The answer is the same: little changes add up to big changes, even though it is hard to imagine. There is not an infinite amount of greenhouse-gas-producing fuels that we can burn, so there is a limit to how much we can increase the temperature of the atmosphere by, but there sure is enough that we can hit 5 or 6 degrees of warming, and that’s without taking into account the many hypothesised tipping points with runaway positive feedback.

    I’m curious, do you think that there is actually a long-standing conspiracy among tens of thousands of scientists from different countries and different political affiliations, or do you think that the scientists working in these fields are too stupid to realise they don’t understand how to model what’s actually going on?

    If every newly uncovered scientific fact was subjected to the same campaign of misinformation that climate change has been subjected to, progress in understanding the world would surely grind to a halt. There is rarely such consensus among the people who devote their lives to understanding something as there is among climate researchers that this is happening and that it will cause a great deal of problems if unchecked. The same people who claim it’s all a hoax never attack any other field of scientific inquiry, do you ever wonder why that is, if scientists were really so stupid?

  55. #55 Denier
    United States
    May 8, 2017

    @Jonathan wrote:

    many in the denier community have attacked this website in the past, but I’ve not seen any well-documented demonstration that it presents false information, or presents information misleadingly.

    I’ll give you one example that I just happened to come across yesterday after Ethan decided to attack the credibility of Dr Roy Spencer, a scientist by any measure more accomplished than himself.

    Back in 2005 Dr. Spencer wrote a joke post about introducing legislation to save the endangered Siberian Snow Snake. It was the Spencer-Spencer bill. He named it after himself twice because he wanted double credit. In the joke legislation there were a number of provisions including a clause to outlaw all jogging because joggers create more CO2 than does a sedentary human.

    You can read the entire post here: http://www.ideasinactiontv.com/tcs_daily/2005/06/time-for-action-on-global-warming.html

    SkepticalScience did a hit piece on Dr Roy Spencer and one of the things they took issue with was this joke post. The could have pointed out that Dr Roy Spencer wasn’t actually a US Senator and couldn’t introduce legislation, or they could have proved there was no Spencer-Spencer bill up for vote. Instead they attacked his proposed jogger ban. In all seriousness, here is exactly what SkepticalScience wrote to ‘debunk’ Dr. Spencer:

    By breathing out, we are simply returning to the air the same CO2 that was there to begin with.

    Yup! Per SkepticalScience, everything you learned about animals breathing in oxygen and out CO2 is not true. If you got more advanced and memorized the Krebs Cycle detailing how glucose and oxygen are turned into 6 molecules of CO2, it turns out you were the victim of a giant conspiracy. SkepticalScience says that all CO2 being breathed out was already in the atmosphere.

    Not only did SkepticalScience take Dr Spencer’s words out to context to make him look like he was saying something factual, but their counter was something even Elementary students know to be fake, and *THAT* is your reliable source.

  56. #56 Jonathan
    May 8, 2017

    Yes RM, you do make them sound very silly. But I guess you just haven’t understood how the claim is justified despite the air we beathe in containing more oxygen than we breath out, and the air we breathe out containing more CO2 than we breathed in. The fact is that the carbon our body uses to make CO2 has to come from somewhere, and it comes from the food chain which at its base is plants, which took the carbon out of the atmosphere. It’s the entire carbon cycle: CO2 in atmosphere –> plants extract carbon –> we eat plants (or we eat other animals that ate those plants) –> we use the carbon from the plants to make the CO2 we breathe out. It’s this whole cycle that shows breathing out does not have a net effect on CO2. Here, read about it and learn something if you want: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2009/08/7_billion_carbon_sinks.html

    And obviously, if you read what skepticalscience wrote about Roy Spencer (who has made a large number of embarrassingly stupid and easily refuted statements about climate, however “accomplished” you think his career might be–and obviously you only say that because he’s a denier, when did you ever point out how accomplished a normal scientist was?), you will see that they were obviously aware his proposed “legislation” was a joke–it was just a stupid joke, because as usual the reactionary mind can’t do satire.

  57. #57 Denier
    United States
    May 8, 2017

    @Jonathan

    I’m aware of how the carbon cycle works, thanks. Had SkepticalScience referred to carbon already in the system, that would have been acceptable. By specifying CO2 in the atmosphere, their statement is false.

    As far as knowing it was a joke, they did not differentiate the claim in any way in the list of other seriously ones he made, and did not present enough context for the reader to pick that out on their own. That is a misleading presentation.

    You had said that you didn’t know of anything they had said the was false or misleading. I’m not saying they are a bad site and use them myself. It was just a freak happenstance that I came across something from that very website that was both false and misleading all on the same page.

    As a side note, you could conceivably say that same thing about *ALL* CO2 unless you are one of those who think Jesus magicked all the hydrocarbons into the ground 4000 years ago. It was all in circulation at some point.

    As for Dr Roy Spencer being a denier, he isn’t. (see my comment in CotW159). As far as only supporting people on my side, James Hansen is a very accomplished Physicist who was instrumental in NASA’s Climate Science Division (where Dr. Spencer also worked at one point). Dr Hansen did make a stupid prediction about ocean rise which is humorous now, but that that doesn’t take too much away from his accomplishments.

    I don’t need to play the game of personally attacking to discredit the source. I have a good enough grasp on the subject with its own weaknesses that I’m completely comfortable just playing with that. I do hope you have a somewhat open mind as I can see you’ve totally bit into the propaganda.

  58. #58 Jakes
    DC
    May 8, 2017

    Unfortunately much of the public is fooled into thinking it denial is scientific. Every time a denier cherry picks a single finding, the fake news media publishes this and fools a large chunk of the electorate into believing that yet another hole has been found. http://www.factandmyth.com/fake-news/infowars-fake-news-example

  59. #59 dean
    May 8, 2017

    ” I have a good enough grasp on the subject ”

    Why have you never demonstrated that? All you’ve done is misrepresent some results, try to claim the researchers are not scientists, and stamp your foot and say “None of these results are true.”

    Switch topics and you could pass for the typical anti-vaccine nut. I’d be surprised if you didn’t to that too.

  60. #60 Doug
    United States
    May 9, 2017

    Interesting to see that this little conversation keeps rolling along. It’s now outlasted the end of the semester for me. David (#53) you literally beg for “proof” that models are accurate, but I can’t really figure out what you want. We conversed earlier, and I gave you what I thought was a good faith answer, in the form of a challenge to inform yourself to a level sufficient that you can fully understand the problem. Evidently, you’ve chosen not to do this. Pity. I am still troubled by your use of the word proof, and also by how you refer to statistical modeling. Your comments on the latter suggest to me that you don’t really understand what statistical modeling really means, or the role in plays in scientific investigation. The research I linked to earlier (the article by Santer et al) is NOT based on statistical modeling in any form. It does use statistical inference to evaluate its results, but this is not the same thing as modeling. Even if it were, statistical models are well-accepted tools in research. Social sciences, and a lot of the life sciences depend on them. In the physical sciences, first principles are simple enough and well understood enough that process modeling is more typical, and this is what a climate model is — a process model based on physical first principles.

    Regarding proof: again, I’m not convinced based on your posts that you really understand what it means. Scientific research never (or at least almost never) really “proves” anything. Mathematicians do that. Scientists collect observations and test hypotheses that either support of fail to support theory. For example, physicists used to believe that electromagnetic radiation travelled through a mysterious something called the ether. The existence of ether was postulated based on a theory. For years, physicists did observations and experiments to try to detect the ether, without success. Finally, the theory was overthrown, partially by the theory of quantum dynamics. No one proved anything. Or disproved anything, for that matter. One theory which was not supported by observation was replaced by another, which was. This by the way, is the reason that the overwhelming majority of climatologists, and scientists working on climate related problem (myself among them) accept that there is a human role in the climate change signal. It’s the theoretical explanation that best fits the observed situation, supported by multiple lines of evidence which you could easily understand in your follow my earlier advice. If someone can provide an explanation that fits all the evidence better than AGW, and does not include a human signal, I will change my mind and accept it, just as I changed my mind and accepted AGW about ten years ago. It’s that simple.

  61. #61 Alan G.
    May 9, 2017

    On profits as an obstacle to change:
    Certainly part of the equation, and there are instances throughout human history where humans collectively cut off their nose to spite their face. Easter Island comes to mind. The population there knew well ahead of the actual occurrence that depleting their only real commercial resource would cause a collapse. They did it anyway. To take a page from Jared Diamond, you have to wonder what their thoughts were as they were cutting down their last tree.

    On Ethan’s thought about public corporations being bound by law to maximize profit:
    Not really…they are bound by (SEC) law to record and report their business activities and their results using a common set of standards, and they must use outside parties to confirm that is happening. Of course, as will all human activities, all parts of that process can and have proven corruptible. That’s where it ends in terms of legal obligation. Expectations on profits and future prospects are strictly between management and stakeholders alone, and demands tend to creep more and more toward the short-term over time. Mainly because that is easier and the alternative of a longer time horizon is hard. Stakeholders tend to be willing to risk collapse tomorrow for additional profit today.

  62. #62 Alan G.
    May 9, 2017

    On profits as an obstacle to change:
    Certainly part of the equation, and there are instances throughout human history where humans collectively cut off their nose to spite their face. Easter Island comes to mind. The population there knew well ahead of the actual occurrence that depleting their only real commercial resource would cause a collapse. They did it anyway. To take a page from Jared Diamond, you have to wonder what their thoughts were as they were cutting down their last tree.

    On Ethan’s thought about public corporations being bound by law to maximize profit:
    Not really…they are bound by (SEC) law to record and report their business activities and their results using a common set of standards, and they must use outside parties to confirm that is happening. Of course, as with all human activities, all parts of that process can and have proven corruptible. That’s where it ends in terms of legal obligation. Expectations on profits and future prospects are strictly between management and stakeholders alone, and demands tend to creep more and more toward the short-term over time. Mainly because that is easier and the alternative of a longer time horizon is hard. Stakeholders tend to be willing to risk collapse tomorrow for additional profit today.

  63. #63 CFT
    May 10, 2017

    @Alan G.
    It’s really quite charming how certain people feel justified in discussing leftist command economies being imposed to coerce other people into doing whatever they think is best, poo-pooing individuals economic choices, despite the fact they themselves have next to no clue of where actual wealth, productivity, valuation, or efficiency inside of an economy even comes from. I’m always entertained hearing policy wonks discussing the evils of self interest and business corruption while glossing over the fact that they themselves are the top rent seekers far more prone to even greater corruption on a much larger scale than any business, and unlike an actual business, they don’t actually have to produce anything to continue to collect a paycheck.
    .
    If profits are an unsightly obstacle to YOUR change, please, feel free to decide that YOU will work for nothing and let me know how well that works out. If your ideas have merit (or not), you should be equally quite successful at failing to make a profit…at which point you will only be able to continue your efforts to not make a profit if someone who actually does make a profit is there to bail you out…funny how that works. There are also quite a few delightful places on the planet which would be glad to take you at your altruistic word and micromanage your life economically…for the greater good of… of the person telling you about the greater good anyways.
    .

  64. #64 CFT
    May 10, 2017

    @Doug #60,
    Put your money where your mouth is.
    It has never been about if humanity has an effect on the climate whatsoever (We obviously put some heat into the environment). It has always been about the degree of that effect, and IF that degree of effect is accurately measureable, and after that if it is SIGNIFCANTLY beneficial or harmful.
    .
    Now, to what degree does humanity influence the climate?
    I don’t give a rat’s ass about a political consensus in academia, I give a great deal of attention however to an actual number in relation to a measurement and a transparent methodology by which that measurement and number is reproducible.
    .
    Just give me a cotton picking number, that can actually be measured, and tested then verified OR not. Unfalsifiable assertions are not evidence, and useless as far as science goes particularly in relation to subjects of political controversy.
    .
    Once (or if) your magic number has been verified, you need to show how this is bad or beneficial or insignificant in relation to the climate.
    .
    Once this determination is made, you could then go about offering possible next steps which would then have to be assessed individually, not as one big grab bag of ‘lets throw money and political power at something and see what happens’.
    .
    Being that your ‘signal’ to noise ratio is (to put it mildly) dreadful, I’m very skeptical of your claims of certainty that fall almost precisely along boundaries of political ideology.
    .
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/04/25/former-obama-official-bureaucrats-manipulate-climate-stats-to-influence-policy/

    If you are serious about the statistical significance of a signal to noise, please explain how you got it, as I can read error bars too. Errors of propagation are not a ‘little thing’ in reiterative calculations, modeling the models actually lays bare how bad the statistical analysis of many warmist models truly are. Dr. Patrick Frank is not anti-science, or a denier etc…he takes apart the various models and points out the models are not even able to detect a signal that isn’t many times smaller than the margin of error.

  65. #65 Doug
    United States
    May 10, 2017

    CFT — please see my responses to David above. You’re arriving very late to the conversation, and therefore you have a lot of catching up to do. If you’re willing to actually do the work (and by ‘work’ I don’t mean watch a few videos on YouTube), then we can talk. If not, you’re wasting my time.

  66. #66 Denier
    United States
    May 10, 2017

    @Doug

    Welcome back!

    I would appreciate it if you could provide support for this statement.

    Doug wrote (#26):

    Current models are much better than the ones thirty years ago.

    It seems like it should be true. People are always learning things, and I’ve certainly heard it said enough, however I can’t find any research on this point. In fact going by the limited input of Hansen’s model from the 80’s being correct and a large number of later models plotted out by Spencer all being out of bounds, you could conclude the opposite. Climate models are getting worse, not better.

    If your position is one where you need to publish, that actually may be a good idea for a subject. Are new models truly better on the whole than old ones?

  67. #67 Denier
    United States
    May 10, 2017

    Alan G. wrote:

    Easter Island comes to mind.

    Jared Diamond’s Collapse isn’t worth reading. It saddens me to say that as The Third Chimpanzee was great and I actually own 2 copies of Gun, Germs, and Steel because I lent it out so often. That said, Collapse is politically correct garbage.

    Speaking specifically of what happened on Easter Island, Diamond’s version of events has been thrown into doubt by modern science. A much more likely, and vastly better supported version of events is put forth in Hunt and Lipo’s The Statues that Walked: Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island

    https://www.amazon.com/Statues-that-Walked-Unraveling-Mystery/dp/1439150311/

  68. #68 Doug
    United States
    May 10, 2017

    Denier,

    I have to admit, I laughed up some coffee I was drinking when I read your comment. I tried to think of a good analogy, and the best I could come up with was that it’s a bit like asking a physician to summarize all the ways medical practice has improved since the 1980s. Well, maybe not all of medical practice, but some specialty, like vascular cardiology. If you really looked and couldn’t find any research, then I’d suggest that you’re really looking in the wrong place. Seems to me like every other paper in the Journal of Climate of JGR is about how someone has improved a model. Sitting down with the last thirty years of those would probably be one approach. Sitting down with the IPCC reports would be another. If you’re up for an adventure, try Warren Washington’s book on 3-d climate modeling. You’ll love it — it’s full of equations. As for me, yes, I do have to publish, but it has to be real science, so I’m headed out for field work out of internet range. Cheers.

  69. #69 Denier
    United States
    May 11, 2017

    @Doug wrote:

    If you’re up for an adventure, try Warren Washington’s book on 3-d climate modeling. You’ll love it — it’s full of equations.

    For such a complex system, I don’t think working with equations is the way to go. It isn’t the 1980’s. Now that we have the hardware and deep learning neural networks the best way to is to just throw all of the data into a big training set and let the AI chew on it. Tasking a human with trying to figure out the math on a complex system is akin to trying to beat Google Search at a trivia contest. Machines are demonstrably better at it.

  70. #70 Douglas G Goodin
    United States
    May 11, 2017

    Use of AI systems for weather forecasting is a very active area of research, and the prospects are exciting. However, it’s not a great idea in climate change research for two reasons. First,, AI\Machine Learning is just a very sophisticated form of supervised classification, which needs to be trained with known instances. Works great when you understand and have examples for the full range of possible states (to use as training instances) but if you don’t, you can’t classify any unknown instance, except to say that it’s unknown. The upshot of this is that you can’t really capture the dynamics of a changing system very well. Ti follow from your analogy, you’d be out of luck if some “new” trivia came along that your system had never been trained to recognize. The second (and more important) problem is that AI\ML is essentially a black box. Machine learning systems quite often gets the answer right, but you don’t really know WHY it’s the answer. Good ol’ physics tells us both how the system works and why it works that way. After all, the purpose of climate models isn’t really to predict the climate, it’s to understand it. Predictability is a by product of that understanding. This is the best answer I can give typing on my phone in a moving car.

  71. #71 Denier
    United States
    May 12, 2017

    @Doug wrote:

    AI\Machine Learning is just a very sophisticated form of supervised classification, which needs to be trained with known instances. Works great when you understand and have examples for the full range of possible states (to use as training instances) but if you don’t, you can’t classify any unknown instance, except to say that it’s unknown. The upshot of this is that you can’t really capture the dynamics of a changing system very well.

    No. Sorry. That is just wrong. The best example I can think of was AlphaGo’s defeat of Lee Sedol in March of 2016 and punctuated by Move 37 in Game 2.

    https://www.wired.com/2016/03/two-moves-alphago-lee-sedol-redefined-future/

    It is worth noting that AlphaGo is vastly better now and is 60-0 against the best in the world since the Sedol matches. Go has a branching factor that makes the number of possible board configurations akin to the number of atoms in the universe. AlphaGo can’t be trained on them all. It can’t brute force solutions. AlphaGo is simply better at finding solutions to the never before seen and dynamically changing abstract problems than the best human who ever lived.

    Doug wrote:

    The second (and more important) problem is that AI\ML is essentially a black box.

    Yes. This is 100% correct, but if the product is better does it really matter? If the black box model beats out all other human equation derived models, shouldn’t we see the black box model as the more reliable source of information? Shouldn’t that also count as the climate being understood even if it is not a human than understands it?

  72. #72 Sinisa Lazarek
    May 12, 2017

    “The second (and more important) problem is that AI\ML is essentially a black box.”

    It is a black-box until it finds a (what it thinks) is a best solution to a problem. “Best” of course being valued in some pre-determined score-board with positive reinforcement.

    But once it gives a solution, it is easy to examine how it came to it, thus it’s not a black box anymore.

  73. #73 Frank
    Omaha,NE
    May 12, 2017

    I think if an AI is trained for a simple physics experiment, it would not be hard to use it like a interpolation/curve fitting system and from that it would not be hard to find the formula.
    I think AI really is a Black Box only for overly complicated problems like how to recognize a certain face in any picture.
    It should be still possible to use the AI to create a statistical model to recognize that face but is it really needed?
    I think AI is complementary to science.

  74. #74 Sinisa Lazarek
    May 13, 2017

    I feel that, as far as AI/ML and black boxes, that there are some misconceptions in last couple of comments.

    As far as the term “black box” in computer science… it is any system that gives some output based on some input, but without the user/operator having knowledge how the system generated that output. So if you take a personal viewpoint.. then 99.9% of the things online are black-boxes. Even your windows is a black-box to an extent, since most of it’s kernel source code is not open-source. Even a non-AI weather website is a black-box to me.. because I don’t know how they predicted the temperature for tomorrow.
    But all of the above examples ARE NOT black-boxes to the people who programed them in the first place. And this is an important distinction! AI on it’s own is not a black box, because for the people that code it and maintain it, it’s an open system that has diagnostics and logs and system reports etc etc..

    The only part where you don’t have knowledge is when you leave the AI to try to find a solution to some problem, without outside input. i.e. letting an AI try to find a solution to a sorting problem. It might arrive at a worse solution then humans did, it might arrive at the same one, or (where all the hopes are) it might discover a better algorithm to i.e. sorting. In that space.. where you have no knowledge of what the result will be… it is a black box.. But once it sorts the data and you look at the log file and see what it did.. it’s not a black box.

    Examples like face detection… or pattern recognition in general.. are not hard problems logically… they are just computationally demanding. Especially when given huge sample sets and asked to analyze in real-time. Nothing black-boxy about it. Where AI comes into play is trying to find better ways of pattern recognition for faces i.e. We think it;s the eyes/nose/mouth that makes most sense… but AI might stumble on something else while trying “everything”. It might find that i.e. matching ear size to hair loss is less resource demanding while offering same statistical result (silly example.. but shows the point). In that sense… we don’t know what conclusion it will draw for itself. But once it does, and you check the log and see. That algorithm it just discovered is not black any more and it’s very much open to examination.

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