October 22, 2009

Losing our religion.

Only 57%, down from 71% in 2008 and 77% in 2006.

104 comments:

edutcher said...

Tell it not in Christendom.

This must mean Albert the Great isn't God, after all.

traditionalguy said...

This could only have happened due to Free Speakers using Fox News and Talk Radio. That is one very expensive, and lynch pin, Mass Delusion going down the drain as AlGore and the UN Governance guys watch. So I expect to see counter-attacks upon those free speaking outliers coming from those Master Liars soon

LarsPorsena said...

We are a couple of brutal winters away from seeing the believers shrink to AlGores immediate family and those heavily invested in carbon-offset credits.

phosphorious said...

Science moves forward by a show of hands?

(And is it odd that a conservative blog uses "religion" as a synonym for "silly, irrational belief"?)

rhhardin said...

The law of genre is that the means by which a work or production announces what kind of work it is does not itself fall within the genre.

For instance lab coats and scientists.

Henry said...

Dina Cappiello makes an unforced blunder in her summary of the poll results: The poll of 1,500 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People&the Press found that only 57 percent believe there is strong scientific evidence the Earth has gotten hotter over the past few decades... (my emphasis)

Over the past decade, at least, most evidence suggests the Earth has cooled.

To it's credit, the actual Pew question does not mention such a time frame.

Interesting that while the percentage of people that believe that global warming has human causes has declined from 47% to 36%, the percentage that believe that it has natural causes only declined from 18% to 16%.

Given that it takes a little more attention to even know about the natural causes argument, I hypothesize that the 16% corresponds to more educated people, which is also why the number is less volatile.

MadisonMan said...

I'd be curious to see that broken down by age.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I wonder if Algore and his apostles will start instituting an Inquisition....

rocketeer67 said...

Science moves forward by a show of hands?

Of course not, silly. Which is why cries of "CONSENSUS!!!1!1!" are such bullshit.

Theo Boehm said...

I KNOW there is a God, as much as I know anything in this world.

I BELIEVE Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, who suffered and died for our sins. Others have auditioned the Buddha for this role. I don't BELIEVE that, but I'm cool with it. Beliefs always need to be re-examined. But mine are holding up in this area, and it doesn't bother me that others believe differently.

I am CONVINCED by scientific arguments, based on data, logic, and the long-established criteria of science.

We really should get our popular epistemology straight.

jayne_cobb said...

"Science moves forward by a show of hands?"

Supporters have been screaming consensus for the past decade.

goose/gander



The poll has nothing to with science, but I don't see anyone claiming it does. The only thing it does go to is who has a more compelling argument.

Seeing the people proclaiming that the world will end in 50 days flying private jets thousands of miles to have a meeting that could be done over the internet kind of undercuts their claims.

To quote Instapundit: I'll believe there's a crisis when those claiming there is one start acting like it.

Eric said...

Only 57%, down from 71% in 2008 and 77% in 2006.

Well of course. When people make predictions and are proven wrong you start to wonder if they know what the hell they're talking about.

Donna B. said...

I don't have anything intelligent to add to the conversation, but I really like my wv: ramboo - great Halloween costume!

Bissage said...

Those numbers would be going up, instead of down, if only James Arthur Ray were on board.

blake said...

[best Maxwell Smart voice]
"Missed it by that much!"

It's the middle of the end for global warming. Pretty soon it'll be forgotten.

I predicted this years ago, and also that they would chamber "overpopulation" again as the next big power grab.

But they'll bring back "climate change" in, oh, 10 years? Quietly, at first. But when overpopulation peters out, they'll bring up some new variation. Global warming, global cooling are kind of tired--maybe global humidity? Or aridity?

"Humans are making too much/too little moisture!"

That's unless they actually succeed in their efforts to make a global dictatorship, then we'll here from Pravda and Isvestia how the state has saved us all.

trogdor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
trogdor said...

Wow, 18% more than the number who believe in evolution! So why doesn't Althouse demand that they stop teaching evolution as fact? My guess: it doesn't clash with her lighting aesthetic.

blake said...

I didn't see Althose suggesting anything about education. Did you, trogdor?

rocketeer67 said...

So why doesn't Althouse demand that they stop teaching evolution as fact?

My guess is she would, as soon as the President, House and Senate propose legislation requiring it be taught due to some make-believe "consensus."

Kirby Olson said...

"A lie gets half-way around the world before truth gets its pants on." -- Winston Churchill.

Does it mean they will take back the Goofy Grape's Nobel Prize?

Andrew said...

"The truth, of course, is that a billion falsehoods told a billion times by a billion people are still false." »Travis Walton

Titus said...

I blame the Northeast Godless heathens.

miller said...

Those whose beliefs are formed by consensus are fated to lose those beliefs by consensus.

What a terrible way to run science.

consensus != fact

Christy said...

Those numbers as as volitile as, say, the popularity of leggings or parachute pants. Fashion, both. No science need be consulted.

kentuckyliz said...

Maybe the damned recession has led the prosperity gospel believers to despair.

Jesus loved the poor people.

Jesus is just trying to love us more.

j/k

c3 said...

well I live in Arizona so I always believe in global warming (at least my corner.)

Besides, it would be GREAT!! if AZ had some beach front property.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Over the past decade, at least, most evidence suggests the Earth has cooled.

This is bullshit. The Earth has not "cooled" in the last ten years. That is not what the temperature data says.

It is what scientific ignoramuses--and journalists, but I repeat myself--say, by pointing to ONE year as being warmer than THIS year.

But that is not how you evaluate a trend. The trend over the last ten years is an increase of 0.1 degree, as anybody can see by plotting the points themselves.

Gabriel Hanna said...

You can see a plot of mean global temperatures here:

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/img/climate/research/global-jan-dec-error-bar-pg.gif

I defy anyone, even someone cherry-picking the last ten years, to call that "cooling".

Chase said...

We are a couple of brutal winters away from seeing the believers shrink to AlGores immediate family and those heavily invested in carbon-offset credits.

I would love to agree with you, but when our present administration staffs itself with Mao Tse Tung adherents, I'm not so sure.

blake said...

GH--

Why would anyone cherry pick when you've already done that for them!

wv: imbow

Gabriel Hanna said...

We are a couple of brutal winters away from seeing the believers shrink to AlGores immediate family and those heavily invested in carbon-offset credits.

For people whose idea of logic is "It isn't true that men are taller than women; because Sally is taller than Fred", this is a compelling argument.

Others, who understand what "mean" means, find it less persuasive

Gabriel Hanna said...

Why would anyone cherry pick when you've already done that for them!

It was stated "the data for the last ten years shows cooling". This is a lie, and easily shown to be such.

The person repeating it didn't bother to look for himself; I don't blame HIM for the lie, but I blame him for not bothering to look.

rocketeer67 said...

This is a lie, and easily shown to be such.

Well, no, calling your lies "truth" don't refute the actual truth, GH. That's tradtionally not how it works. Clearly, however, your religion is different, which is somewhat the point of this post.

montana urban legend said...

Scientists understand that all knowledge is provisional.

Althousians seem to be more concerned with how well one's knowledge fits in with one's values - and ascribe layers of credibility to the former based on that.

Is one of these approaches clearly not more objective?

While consensus doesn't make a scientific theory any less provisional than one without consensus, the contrarian position of attacking a display of consensus as the fruit of an inherently flawed theory is an even less supportable approach. Or, if you want to be less charitable about it, downright idiotic.

If you think that widely supported theories are inherently suspect, then you don't understand science. Everything revolves around evidence - even the paradigm shifts that start with a contrary or obscure (or as yet undiscovered!) position. And the Althousians have shown time and again that they have no idea of how to even address the evidence that they favor - let alone the evidence that they don't like.

And that, in itself, is evidence of a sort.

Unlike punditry, science is not a context-bereft endeavor.

Gabriel Hanna said...


Well, no, calling your lies "truth" don't refute the actual truth, GH. That's tradtionally not how it works. Clearly, however, your religion is different, which is somewhat the point of this post.


So what did you get for the slope of the temperature over the last ten years?

Did you even bother to look?

There's no point in CALLING me a liar. Anyone can look at the data and see for themselves; that the people who are calling it "cooling" are telling a lie.

Believe what you want about whether carbon dioxide has anything to do with it; but to say that mean global temperature has dropped in the last ten years is demonstrably false.

Thronateeska said...

You ever notice how those who mock "scientific consensus" always point to opinion polls with glee?

Seems a little awkward to me.

Also, most people here in the good 'ol US of A freely admit that they're pretty weak in math and science, but that never seems to hold them back from voicing an opinion, does it?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@MUL:

While consensus doesn't make a scientific theory any less provisional than one without consensus, the contrarian position of attacking a display of consensus as the fruit of an inherently flawed theory is an even less supportable approach. Or, if you want to be less charitable about it, downright idiotic.

The consensus of scientists is that germs cause infectious disease and that the Earth orbits the sun and not the other way around. These propositions are not suspect.

"Consensus" is not ALL that scientists have.

montana urban legend said...

Put it to you this way.

A basic lesson of thermodynamics involves the proposition that a ball could spontaneously move upward, against gravity.

While statistically nearly impossible, there is an infinitesimally small chance that all the atoms in that ball could be moving in the upward direction - overcoming the force of gravity and making the object float up for that time interval.

In practice however, this does not happen. There are way too many atoms in that object to make it likely that this will ever happen.

If you want to understand physical chemistry, you need to understand that.

The problem with the denialists is that they have no capacity for the concept of levels of evidence. Some things are just more likely than others. There is nothing unscientific about accepting the greater likelihood of one theory as opposed to another, or even any other. And it's usually pretty important to embrace such a prioritization when it comes to any sort of practical application.

Occam's Razor is the first order of science - and it's one that the denialists here ignore regularly.

Other theories may come along. But waiting around and hoping for them is not how it works. For that you need theology and people like Theo Boehm.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The consensus of scientists is that germs cause infectious disease and that the Earth orbits the sun and not the other way around. These propositions are not suspect.

And...the scientific consensus used to be that the sun orbited the earth. Gallelio was punished for going against the establishment.

They also used to believe that disease was caused by bad air or witches.

The consensus in the 1970's was that we were going to go into an ice age.

Also, more Doctors smoked Camels than any other brand, back in the 1950's when smoking was good for you.

So give it up.....global warming is just another in a long line of schemes to take power and money from the people.

montana urban legend said...

I don't see where we disagree, GH. Consensus is not all that scientists have. They have evidence. And they just happen to have greater evidence for the germ theory or climate change than for competing theories. I never asserted otherwise.

And people are free to attack or challenge either one.

But if they want to have any credibility or, as they intend, change the consensus, it might be a good idea for them to understand what evidence they would need in order to do so.

And as you've shown time and again - and in meticulous and laudable detail I might add, they don't.

montana urban legend said...

"And...the scientific consensus used to be that the sun orbited the earth. Gallelio (sic) was punished for going against the establishment."

This is utter bullshit. No scientist "punished" Gallileo. The church did.

You guys are consistently confusing the power of social institutions with that of science.

Gabriel Hanna said...

And...the scientific consensus used to be that the sun orbited the earth. Gallelio was punished for going against the establishment.

The Catholic Church, last I heard, was in the business of theology.

Every crackpot thinks he's the next Galileo.

The consensus in the 1970's was that we were going to go into an ice age.

So one group of scientists was wrong in 1970, this means that an entirely different generation of scientists must be wrong now?

All of your examples of wrong science were discovered and corrected by scientists. What are your scientific qualifications, that you can do science better than those who do it for a living?

global warming is just another in a long line of schemes to take power and money from the people.

There may be those who wish to use it that way.

What did you get when you calculated the slope for the temperatures for the last ten years?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@MUL:

I don't see where we disagree, GH.

I was agreeing with you, actually.

montana urban legend said...

And the church was the institution with an interest in the position you describe as "consensus".

The interest of the scientist is to merely account for the evidence.

Social institutions may rest more comfortably on one position/theory or another. But let's stop confusing social institutions with the institution of science. Please.

Joe said...

http://uhaweb.hartford.edu/LGOULD/MONCKTON_LongerLetterToEditors_NESAPS%20Newsletter%20Fall%202008.pdf

montana urban legend said...

If it's not clear, the endeavor of science would cease to exist if all things were known with absolute certainty.

But no scientist, and no rational person for that matter, refuses therefore to ascribe some level of accuracy to the theory that makes the most sense according to the evidence presented thus far.

Punditry is different. All one needs is an argument and an interest.

In science, accounting for the evidence that exists is the prevailing interest. Without that, the scientist doesn't have a job.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@joe:

Here is the NASA data:

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/GLB.Ts.txt

Here are the yearly averages:

2001 0.54
2002 0.67
2003 0.64
2004 0.59
2005 0.75
2006 0.63
2007 0.72
2008 0.54

Plot them in Excel and fit the line. You will get a positive slope of 0.05 degree per decade.

Gabriel Hanna said...

I didn't give you the right numbers;
these are they:

0.55
0.67
0.64
0.58
0.76
0.63
0.71
0.54

And they slope they yield is 0.03 per decade.

Now if any of you had bothered to go look at the data, you could have embarrassed me with my mistake--but of course nobody did....

montana urban legend said...

Now if any of you had bothered to go look at the data, you could have embarrassed me with my mistake--but of course nobody did....

You might as well have done that on purpose. ;-)

Gabriel Hanna said...

@MUL:

"I meant to do that."

No, I just averaged over all the columns without realizing that some of them were already averages and not monthly temperatures. The data is not presented in a very convenient way, for me.

I was wondering if I should say anything, but I'd be accused of bad faith if someone caught the mistake before I did.

I'd rather own up to it right away.

montana urban legend said...

I'm not questioning that your error was honest. I just think that it would have been funny if it were done as a deliberate prank.

But it's ironic we need to be relegated to questioning the judgment of the denialists, rather than their purported "good faith", and yet something like that might have still backfired.

politicalmath said...

Gabriel Hanna:

Of course, if you graph from 2002 - 2008 (instead of from 2001 - 2008), you get a negative slope on the line fit (eg. the earth is "cooling"). In either case, the R^2 is so low that the "trendline" is essentially a pointless calculation, without any real statistical meaning.

I'm not entirely sure why you feel the need to include 2001 in your argument. Are you suggesting a sliding scale in which we consider only the past 8 years? Or do you think we should be using a sliding scale that includes whichever arbitrary years will make your point?

chickenlittle said...

Rewinding Althouse to the last time that this topic was discussed with the pretty much the same characters involved.

I think the end point of that conversation is a good indicator and model of where this discussion will wind-up tonight.

Jon said...

GH:

The peak year in this NASA data you've posted was 2005.

However, it's been widely reported- for example, in this BBC article

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7329799.stm

-that the record year for global temperatures was 1998.

Michael McNeil said...

The consensus of scientists is that … the Earth orbits the sun and not the other way around. These propositions are not suspect.

Garbage. The “consensus of scientists” (backed up by a huge amount of data) is that Einstein's general relativity (the modern theory of gravity) is true, and according to relativity it's just as valid saying that the Sun goes around the Earth (while the Earth remains absolutely motionless), as it is to say that the Earth goes round the Sun (while the Sun stays motionless), or the Sun and Earth orbit the center of the galaxy, while it remains motionless, etc.

traditionalguy said...

My understanding is that the warming from 1997 to 2005 was real and now the cooling is real reversing that in one year. That is the proof that CO2 increasing in ppm all the while is meaningless to what the sun does or does not do to cause warming when the cloud formation mechanism is the actual operative cause of warming and a lack of warming called cooling. So why outlaw CO2 unless we pay thru the nose into total serfdom to a World Government. It clearly has nothing to do with CO2 levels affecting or not affecting climate.

Henry said...

@Gabriel Hanna -- Sorry to get you so worked up with what was for me just a throwaway line to an article I had read recently.

Here's a quote:

Global satellite data is analyzed for temperature trends for the period January 1979 through June 2009. Beginning and ending segments show a cooling trend, while the middle segment evinces a warming trend. The past 12 to 13 years show cooling using both satellite data sets

True I wrote "decade" instead of "12 to 13 years" and used the term "most" instead of the more circumspect "some." That was careless. There you go.

In all frankness, I don't consider this data very important, since short term global temperature readings can easily be overwhelmed by randomness.

I did think it somewhat interesting how the reporter garbled the poll question.

montana urban legend said...

My understanding is that the warming from 1997 to 2005 was real and now the cooling is real reversing that in one year. That is the proof that CO2 increasing in ppm all the while is meaningless to what the sun does or does not do to cause warming when the cloud formation mechanism is the actual operative cause of warming and a lack of warming called cooling.

Gee. Wouldn't it be fun if everything in science and in life just involved a direct, one-to-one correlation between two variables at most and that no other factors were ever involved or affected?

And yet, when we control for a change in one variable alone, we see the same consistent response which it was predicted to have on that other, single variable.

Interesting.

Do you think pointing things like this out will make it more likely for people to understand how science actually works?

It should.

Paddy O. said...

I think Andy Williams gave a speech against global warming earlier this year. That's why there's a big change.

Henry said...

In terms of randomness, here's a pretty good disquisition on that. Key graf:

There’s a fundamental error in an approach that dismisses inconvenient short-term variations as ‘natural’ but does not understand the range of time scales that ‘natural’ is valid for; there is no reason to assume that longer-term variations are not also natural.

As I said far above, the most interesting percentage in the poll is the relative constancy of those who believe that global warming is due to natural causes.

chickenlittle said...

Nobelist Steven Chu, head of the DOE and Obama's top science guru, is all on board the CO2 is evil train. Link.

There is clearly an enormous investment in brainpower behind the notion that CO2 causes warming.

Here is how I distill the problem(s) confronting us:

1) How, if incorrect about CO2, could the scientific consensus be so wrong?
(a)Is the notion CO2 causes warming now too big to fail?
(b) Can the credibility of American (and world) science recover if wrong?

2) If they are right about CO2 causing warming, what would it take to convince the American people that they are correct?
(a) Clearly something has gone wrong with the PR-people are not convinced.
(b) The present administration appears to say: fuck 'em- they (the people) don't believe us? we're gonna force them. The possible tachniques available to enforce compliance are downright un-American.

3) What really bothers me as a sceptic of the CO2 causes warming is that if the Copenhagen treaty is ratified and enforced, and warming does not occur, credit will be taken regardless of the true cause. To me this is a heads I win tails you lose proposition for the CO2 causes warming folks. But more insidiously, it is the exact mechanism by which Science could ascend to the status of a quasi-religion: give the people "miracle, mystery and authority" and they will follow.

Sorry in adavnce for the longish post.

montana urban legend said...

Chikenlittle raises some of the best questions and arguments to come from the skeptic camp. Everyone should take them seriously. They should be addressed fully.

As a scientist though, I really only have one or maybe two questions that matter closely to me:

1. What evidence is there that, all other things being equal, drastically increasing the amount of CO2 in a system won't lead to a warming effect?

2. What evidence is there that coping with with changing climate patterns is easier and more economically feasible than dealing with climate patterns that could remain more stable?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@political mathOf course, if you graph from 2002 - 2008 (instead of from 2001 - 2008), you get a negative slope on the line fit (eg. the earth is "cooling"). In either case, the R^2 is so low that the "trendline" is essentially a pointless calculation, without any real statistical meaning.

I'm not entirely sure why you feel the need to include 2001 in your argument. Are you suggesting a sliding scale in which we consider only the past 8 years? Or do you think we should be using a sliding scale that includes whichever arbitrary years will make your point?

Actually, I think it is very obvious merely by looking at the link I already posted that the earth's temperature has been going up consistently for 40 years. I was specifically addressing a claim repeated often here and other places that the earth has been "cooling" for "the last ten years".

If the temperature trend really is changing it is far too early to tell.

@Jon:

The peak year in this NASA data you've posted was 2005.

However, it's been widely reported- for example, in this BBC article

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7329799.stm

-that the record year for global temperatures was 1998.

The BBC as far as I know does no climate research. Neither I nor NASA is responsible for the accuracy of their reporting.

Go look at NASA's website yourself. See if I got it wrong. If I'm just telling you what they're telling you, you can write to them and explain that the BBC says they're wrong.

@Michael McNealGarbage. The “consensus of scientists” (backed up by a huge amount of data) is that Einstein's general relativity (the modern theory of gravity) is true, and according to relativity it's just as valid saying that the Sun goes around the Earth (while the Earth remains absolutely motionless), as it is to say that the Earth goes round the Sun (while the Sun stays motionless), or the Sun and Earth orbit the center of the galaxy, while it remains motionless, etc.

Oh dear Lord. I don't think you know very much about general relativity, and I think we'll just leave it there.

@Henry:
In all frankness, I don't consider this data very important, since short term global temperature readings can easily be overwhelmed by randomness.


I certainly agree with you there. If the earth has, for some unknown reason, started to cool, ten years is not enough time to demonstrate it.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@traditionalguy:

My understanding is that the warming from 1997 to 2005 was real and now the cooling is real reversing that in one year. That is the proof that CO2 increasing in ppm all the while is meaningless to what the sun does or does not do to cause warming when the cloud formation mechanism is the actual operative cause of warming and a lack of warming called cooling.

No, it's only proof that temperature changes somewhat randomly from year to year. It's only over decades that you can show there is a trend.

Suppose I flip a coin with you, and you think the coin is weighted to bring up heads more often. You're not going to be able to show that flipping the coin four times, are you? You'll have to flip it hundreds of times, and even fair coins don't come up with exactly the same number of heads and tails.

Alternatively, you could do very careful measurements and prove that there is something different about this coin that makes it more likely to come up heads.

Well, increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is like a weighted coin or loading the dice. In the long run, on the average, it makes
temperatures go up, all else being equal. But you need a lot of data to show it.

Running the climate models is like carefully measuring the coin.

Saying that you can tell, from 10 years of temperatures alone, that carbon dioxide has nothing to do with temperature, is like me flipping a coin twice, getting heads once and tails once, and saying that proves the coin is fair.

If you had money riding on it you wouldn't bet that way.

@chicken little:

There is clearly an enormous investment in brainpower behind the notion that CO2 causes warming.

I don't understand. Do you deny that CO2 absorbs infrared, or that absorbing more radiation makes the Earth's temperature go up? I can't do climate modeling, but I can tell you about normal modes and blackbody radiation.

(a) Clearly something has gone wrong with the PR-people are not convinced.

Americans largely don't believe in evolution either. Doesn't mean it's not true or its bad science.

The possible techniques available to enforce compliance are downright un-American.

We agree on this. Global warming hasn't killed anybody. Poverty kills people now. You don't get out of poverty without economic growth.

What really bothers me as a sceptic of the CO2 causes warming is that if the Copenhagen treaty is ratified and enforced, and warming does not occur, credit will be taken regardless of the true cause.

Like Y2K...

it is the exact mechanism by which Science could ascend to the status of a quasi-religion: give the people "miracle, mystery and authority" and they will follow.

I don't think there is any real danger of making a religion out of science.

chickenlittle said...

I don't understand. Do you deny that CO2 absorbs infrared, or that absorbing more radiation makes the Earth's temperature go up?

That's not in question. What is in question are other mitigating factors to compensate.

I can't do climate modeling, but I can tell you about normal modes and blackbody radiation.

We're on the same page sort of. I understand (or used to) Fermi resonance coupling for CO2.

chickenlittle said...

I don't think there is any real danger of making a religion out of science.

That's incredibaly naïve in view of the Soviet experiment along those lines.

I have to leave now for a few but I'll be back.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@chicken little:
That's incredibaly naïve in view of the Soviet experiment along those lines.

The Soviet Union never "turned science into religion". They did try to turn religion AND science into Communism.

When science conflicted with Marxist ideology, that was too bad for science. That's why they sent geneticists to Gulag.

traditionalguy said...

Gabe...So what decades long evidence exists for the CO2 ppm increasing warming things since it now has apparently cooled everything sharply? Your answer seems to be that the computer programs called models screwed up and therefore the cooling off is not really happening this year like it is. No one is confused anymore. Therefore I would not let my government (not the World Government) bet the 30 trillion dollar bet that the maoists at the UN say we must make or else. When they try their or else, the next warming they feel will be caused by air cooled gun barrels fighting back.

montana urban legend said...

Actually, I have several more questions.

What's with these homies dissing my girl?

Why do they gotta front?

What have we ever done to these guys that made them sooo vi-o-lent?

Gabriel Hanna said...

So what decades long evidence exists for the CO2 ppm increasing warming things since it now has apparently cooled everything sharply?

There is no "cooling sharply". You are making that up.

GO LOOK AT THE GRAPH. I don't want to hear another word from you about "cooling" until you have looked at this graph.

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/img/climate/research/global-jan-dec-error-bar-pg.gif

Temperatures have been rising more or less steadily for forty years. The so-called "cooling" in the 70s is a blip on the graph.

Here is another one you can look at.

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A2.lrg.gif

Here's one just for the last ten years.

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.C.lrg.gif

Now YOU can refuse to look and talk about "cooling" if you want. People reading what you write, however, will look at some of the links, and they will conclude you have no idea what you are talking about.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@traditional guy:

Your answer seems to be that the computer programs called models screwed up and therefore the cooling off is not really happening this year like it is.

You must be reading some other website or something, because nothing I said REMOTELY resembles this.


Other people can read what I wrote for themselves. There's no point in making up this fantasy and attributing it to me.

The warming is real. It is going on now, as far as the data shows. There has been no "cooling", according to the temperature data. If you'd take fives second to LOOK AT THE DATA you could see that.

If you have data that NOAA or NASA do not have, get it in a journal quick.

montana urban legend said...

Why are you assigning ho-o-o-o-m-e-work, Gabe??? Wwwhhhhyyyy????

No homework, please. Just punditry. Recess, cookies, arguing, and naptime. No homework. And numbers class is h-a-a-a-r-r-r-d!

montana urban legend said...

The first graph looks like a pretty clear upward slope from 1910 all the way through the present. Which would seem to fit the massive carbon output from the time that the industrial revolution came into full swing all the way through.

What I don't understand is why everyone seems to assume that a carbon-based energy economy is a given. I've even heard boron makes for a great fuel.

Any incentive provided to develop alternative energy industries should result in a huge economic boon. Why does "addiction to carbon" = "perpetuation of any economic activity" in so many people's minds? I just don't get where they come up with that.

montana urban legend said...

I remember last year when I was talking about the Pickens plan on this site. Some guy tried to knock me off my rocker by claiming that Pickens was just in it for himself. And for the life of me, I don't see why I didn't just ask him if he saw no reason for applying that same judgment to John Davison Rockefeller.

chickenlittle said...

I've even heard boron makes for a great fuel.

Surely you jest Montana. Yes, borohydrides make great fuels, just like dihydrogen- the problem is that, unlike hydrocarbons and coal- they're scarce- and have to be made, usually from hydrocarbons!

chickenlittle said...

The Soviet Union never "turned science into religion". They did try to turn religion AND science into Communism.

Scientists under the Soviet system enjoyed a higher social status than under our system. The system was more academe (I'm not sure there was even industrial science on par with ours).

No they didn't try to turn science into communism; the leaders coexisted uncomfortably with it. Read "Dark Sun" which has a fairly well researched section on the development of the A and H bombs there.

Soviet scientists enjoyed a social status akin to a priesthood, complete with cadres of acolytes, a university system, and a hierarchy (I know that sounds tempting to you).

Yes dissident scientists were dismissed and disappeared (the Nazi's did the same).
Here we just defund.

My point wasn't that they turned science into government, but that they used it to supplant religion.

montana urban legend said...

Not really. Just mentioning an idea that I'd heard toyed with a bit. Although given its rarity and the fact that few serious resources mention its potential as a fuel, I should have figured that anyone strongly advocating it was way more into fool's gold than Pickens or anyone else advocating renewables.

But Borax is used in the soap dispensers at Ted's Montana Grill. That is a really super cool use. I love the gritty powdery feel that leaves your hands feeling cleaner than the modern-day, microbial-resistance promoting gel crap. Ted's onto something with that.

Just to show you that I'm serious about being open-minded, a smart "green" chick (whose father worked as a "hard" scientist of some sort) told me that a hydrogen economy was out of the question and efficiency was the only way to go. She told me why.

I later did the calculations myself and found that all the water on the Earth wasn't enough to provide for current energy needs - assuming an implausible 100% efficient yield from electrolysis as your only hydrogen source.

Metal hydrides as an exchange medium from renewables should work well in transportation. And personal or community-owned renewable source generators on a decentralized grid should go a good part of the way when it comes to residential use.

Chase said...

While I am truly entertained by the scientific explanations of the obviously knowledgeable Montana and Gabriel we still are left with the religious-like faith that so many have in leaders who seek to take advantage of questionable correlations.

The earth is warming.
Ergo, what has happened during the times it has begun to warm?

IS there some way we can offer sacrifices to the earth to stop her from maybe warming too much?

YES! We can give our resources and wealth to others! - third-world nations. We can please the priests of government central planning and fulfill the wishes of the bishops of the left!

Perhaps then the earth will see our sincerity and faith and not warm . . . so much!

And - as in every religion, there were those who saw an opportunity to make a buck . . .

Oh, it's a religion alright. It definitely involves worship and faith.

montana urban legend said...

The highest status a scientist will attain in the states is if he invents a useful application in the form of a paradigm-shift. Then he will enjoy just as high a status as any other successful American entrepreneur.

Regardless of the status of Soviet scientists, I don't think that turned their society into one that blended scientific ideas with a theological epistemology any more than a lot of lay people in the states are prone to doing. The exception of course would be lysenkoism. But America obviously has its own parallels in intelligent design - and, it could be argued, AGW-skepticism.

The latter pseudo-sciences spring forth from American prejudices which promote the markets for existing industries and the role of traditional religion and the value of individual human worth/dignity. Although I hate ID, I can respect the motivation behind the last one the most. But promoting markets for existing industries smacks of a certain kind of protectionism, to my mind. It really seems anti-market, in a way. And it only seems intuitive that economic growth would depend on innovation in how we develop and use our energy no less than similar innovations that take place in any other sector.

montana urban legend said...

Oh, it's a religion alright. It definitely involves worship and faith.

Not really, but if that's the metaphorical device that your mind requires to understand it then go with that. And in the event of a "War of Theologies" may the more practical, less supernaturally inclined one win.

chickenlittle said...

The highest status a scientist will attain in the states is if he invents a useful application in the form of a paradigm-shift. Then he will enjoy just as high a status as any other successful American entrepreneur.

Not exactly. And not until recently in fact. In the recent past, American inventors in the chemical arts were usually associated with companies or universities (Venture capital-funded start-ups changed this). A typical contract assigned the IP rights to the company or university in exchange for a nominal sum. Of course, the more successful inventors enjoyed higher salaries and perks, under threat of flight, but lacking the IP rights they could never enjoy the same status, i.e., ownership as a successful American entrepreneur.

montana urban legend said...

Yeah - you're take on it is more accurate and knowledgeable chicklet. I probably should have instead referred to the scientist who remains the entrepreneur by shifting the process - not just inventing a device or technology. In that vein, you have Craig Venter, Page and Bryn - essentially scientists or researchers who became entrepreneurs by aggressively pursuing either their own technology or the technology they chose to advocate. And then you have guys like Francis Collins who become superstars in academia and then tend to go on to government for some reason.

The established academics who go after their own start-ups tend to be more low-key about it, it seems.

chickenlittle said...

The established academics who go after their own start-ups tend to be more low-key about it, it seems.

And then there's Kary Mullis, a class unto himself.

Mark said...

Hey mr. scientist:

In that list of datapoints, your slope is .05

The standard deviation is .08

Wow.

Good to see out technocratic betters are looking out for us.

montana urban legend said...

I was just reading up about Mullis... somehow the discussion brought me around to thinking about him as well. He's a hoot. I love the way his Wikipedia entry talks about his "synthesis and self-testing of novel psychoactive substances, belief in astrology and an encounter with an extraterrestrial in the form of a fluorescent raccoon."

When I was an undergrad I worked in the lab of a new associate prof with a competitive sailer/windsurfer/Grateful Deadhead who switched his course trajectory from pre-medicine to pre-law just before graduating. He claimed Kary Mullis as his idol.

We had a ton of fun making "bombs" of dry ice chips in closed centrifuge tubes, throwing latex glove water balloons out the fourth story of the research building, and one time, seeing how big a latex glove could expand with a block of CO2 in it. It must have gotten to at least 4 feet in diameter.

Then there was the time when he brought back pizza slices from lunch with him wrapped in tin foil. He didn't want anyone touching them and so they were, naturally, wrapped in yellow and red radioactive labeling tape, of course. When the professor rifled through the freezer for some reagents for an active experiment he asked "What the hell is this?" "It's my pizza," he replied. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission was coming to inspect that week.

After a while he got into some fights with the prof for not receiving any more "A"s for his independent studies courses, despite pulling off more publications than I had by that point. The prof accused him of being bored and he angrily replied that he was just busy thinking of projects. I think he realized his time there was coming to a close by the time he would be fiddling around under the light microscopes not to examine samples, but to tweak his cuticles with a tweezer.

I still get a laugh out of that.

Those were fun times.

The joys of doing science.

Michael McNeil said...

Oh dear Lord. I don't think you know very much about general relativity, and I think we'll just leave it there.

Want to bet? I've been a physics major, and while not a general relativity expert per se, I definitely understand it well enough in this regard, and in debates have beat a number of physicists who fondly imagined they understood the situation. I'm also a frequent correspondent with Caltech general relativist Sean Carroll, whom I'd be most happy to shoot the specific question before.

Then there's Einstein himself:

[To Ernst Mach, regarding confirmation at a forthcoming eclipse]
“… If so, then your happy investigations on the foundations of mechanics, Planck's unjustified criticism notwithstanding, will receive brilliant confirmation. For it necessarily turns out that inertia originates in a kind of interaction between bodies, quite in the sense of your considerations on Newton's pail experiment. The first consequence is on p. 6 of my paper. The following additional points emerge: (1) If one accelerates a heavy shell of matter S, then a mass enclosed by that shell experiences an accelerative force. (2) If one rotates the shell relative to the fixed stars about an axis going through its center, a Coriolis force arises in the interior of the shell; that is, the plane of a Foucault pendulum is dragged around (with a practically unmeasurably small angular velocity).”
(Albert Einstein's appreciation to Ernst Mach, written on June 25, 1913, while working hard at arriving at his November 1915 formulation of standard general relativity; quoted in Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler's great tome Gravitation on general relativity or geometrodynamics)

Folks might recall that the Foucault pendulum is one of the classic physical “proofs” of the Earth's rotation — which turns out not to be a proof thereof at all.

rocketeer67 said...

Hey mr. scientist...

Please. He's a "scientist," not a mere statistician. As such, he has no obligation to pay attention to statistical usefulness, or even, apparently, the much-debated reliability of his chosen source data.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Mark & rocketeer67:Hey mr. scientist...

Please. He's a "scientist," not a mere statistician. As such, he has no obligation to pay attention to statistical usefulness, or even, apparently, the much-debated reliability of his chosen source data.

Glad to see somebody got around to calculating a slope.

Yes, the standard deviations are higher than the magnitude of the yearly change. That's why you can't say that "the last ten years has been cooling".

Now do the same calculation for the last forty and see what you get. Obviously I'm too ignorant of statistics to do that, right?

@Michael McNeil:
Maybe arguing about whether the Sun really goes around the earth, according to GR, is not very productive when talking about whether "the earth has been cooling for the last ten years".

You're just hair-splitting, and I don't have to play. Might as well argue that the Earth-sun system is "really" described by the Schroedinger equation.

On the scale of energies at which the Earth and Sun interact, to an extremely close approximation the Newtonian idea of the Earth going around the sun is correct, and 100% of physicists would sign on to that statement. Satisfied?

Or maybe we should argue about whether to treat the Earth-sun system using quantum mechanics? That would be an equally good use of time.

AC245 said...

Gabriel, are you aware that the GISS data that you repeatedly cite comes pre-manipulated by Hansen (one of the more extreme Global Warming evangelists) before it ever gets to the public?

It is not raw temperature data. It has been filtered, adjusted, and "homogenized" to ensure it better supports Hansen's pet views.

Even inconvenient historical data that had already been published has been pulled, revised and re-published to better fit the warming crowd's views.

If you were unaware of these manipulations, you are incredibly ignorant of the topic you've spent so much time babbling about.

If you were aware of these manipulations, you are incredibly dishonest to present them as some sort of neutral data set.

I'm not sure which is worse, but neither makes you look good.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@AC245Gabriel, are you aware that the GISS data that you repeatedly cite comes pre-manipulated by Hansen (one of the more extreme Global Warming evangelists) before it ever gets to the public?

Since we can't point to the temperature data and say it shows "cooling", now we start the accusations. Fine.

You are accusing a bunch of scientists--not just one--of making things up. You are also calling me a liar--but I told you where I got it from.

Where is your global temperature data?

I also cited NOAA. Their data doesn't look significantly different. Are they also making things up?

Where is your global temperature data?
What measurements did you do? You have no idea what the "real" measurements would show or how to go about collecting them. You just choose not to believe in it.

Straight out of the creationist playbook-accuse everyone of fraud, say the evidence is fake, and produce no evidence of your own to back up your contention.

Gabriel Hanna said...

The NASA data for 1965 is this:

1965 -0.11
1966 -0.03
1967 0.00
1968 -0.04
1969 0.08
1970 0.03
1971 -0.10
1972 0.00
1973 0.14
1974 -0.08
1975 -0.05
1976 -0.16
1977 0.13
1978 0.01
1979 0.09
1980 0.18
1981 0.26
1982 0.05
1983 0.26
1984 0.09
1985 0.05
1986 0.12
1987 0.26
1988 0.31
1989 0.19
1990 0.38
1991 0.35
1992 0.12
1993 0.14
1994 0.23
1995 0.38
1996 0.29
1997 0.39
1998 0.56
1999 0.32
2000 0.33
2001 0.48
2002 0.55
2003 0.54
2004 0.48
2005 0.62
2006 0.53
2007 0.56
2008 0.44

When you fit that to a straight line, you get a slope of 0.15 per decade, and the root-mean-square deviation of temperatures from that line is 0.1 degree. Plot it and fit yourself, don't take my word or fit.

Or just accuse everybody of making stuff up. But let's not hear any more nonsense about "temperatures have been dropping for the last ten years".

Gabriel Hanna said...

You may compare NOAA and GISS here.

I've posted this numerous times, it does no good.

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/img/climate/research/global-jan-dec-error-bar-pg.gif

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A2.lrg.gif

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A.lrg.gif

These data are collected in different ways; yet they all show pretty much the same thing. IT MUST BE A CONSPIRACY TO GET THAT FAT GRANT MONEY CAKE.

Here's the last ten years of so-called "cooling".

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.C.lrg.gif

Feel free not to look and just call everyone involved a fraudster.

Scott M said...

I've been in and out of this thread, but the key argument seems to have evolved into the actual data reflecting the temps.

This is beside the point. The real question remains, "is this party of a normal cycle that we're only becoming aware of as our instruments and understanding get better" or is it that we're all dooming ourselves to live on a Venusian hellhole because of the pets we don't eat.

Regardless, I have severe doubts about CO2 being the cause.

More CO2 in the geologic past coexisting with lower temps at that time is the first reason.

The second is that those telling us we NEED TO CHANGE NOW OMG!!!! don't themselves live like OMG IT'S ALL GOING TO END. In fact, the high priest of the GW advocates himself occupied a lavish abode that used more juice than 20 standard American families, if memory serves. Only when called on the carpet did he even make show of changing his own pondorous "carbon footprint". His acolytes and sycophants provided extremely good comic fare when they were trying to defend THAT little piece of publicly-available data.

I don't see Gore as being any different that Rosie O'Donnell advocating against gun ownership while her own bodyguards are armed.

Do as I say...etc, etc.

AC245 said...

Gabriel, I am sorry for your incredible ignorance.

Take the opportunity to educate yourself. You can read the hundreds of posts at Climate Audit or Watts Up With That documenting the adjustments made to the published data.

Here are a few specific posts from the above-linked searches to get you started:
NASA GISS: adjustments galore, rewriting U.S. climate history

Why Does NASA GISS Oppose Satellites?

GISS for June – way out there

Quantifying the Hansen Y2K Error

Will the Real USHCN Data Set Please Stand Up?

NOAA versus NASA: US Data

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Scott:Regardless, I have severe doubts about CO2 being the cause.

More CO2 in the geologic past coexisting with lower temps at that time is the first reason.

Funny that the NOAA data apparently shows the exact opposite of what you just said.

Did you bother to check before posting this, or are you repeating something you heard from somewhere else?

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/globalwarming/temperature-change.html

Gabriel Hanna said...

@AC245: Posting links to other people's mischaracterizations of the data is not persuasive.

I don't feel sorry for you; you CHOOSE to be suckered.

Did you notice that you linked to a post showing that the NOAA data is even HIGHER than the NASA data despite the evil Hansen not being involved?

I used to be just as skeptical as you; but I finally started looking for myself, and found that most of the "skeptics" were seriously misrepresenting the data.

You offer nothing to support your accusations of fraud, by the way, in any of those links.

AC245 said...

Gabriel, here are three different versions of the data you cited earlier in this thread:

Current, from the NASA.GOV site

July 2, 2008 version, from the NASA.GOV site

Sept. 14, 2005 version, from the NASA.GOV site

(There are also dozens of additional versions, which you can see at The Internet Wayback Machine)


The differences between these data sets is not just new temperature data points being added as time goes on and new data is recorded.

There are modifications to monthly temperature values going all the way back to 1880!

If you want to dismiss the copious documentation by CA and WUWT and wallow in your ignorance, I can't make you read and learn.

But I would ask that you answer this simple yet vexing question:

Why are the numbers in the published historical data sets constantly changing?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@AC245:But I would ask that you answer this simple yet vexing question:

Why are the numbers in the published historical data sets constantly changing?


Because temperature is not known to infinite precision.

The slope of the 1965-2004 data from 2005 is 0.19(2) degrees per decade.

The slope of the 1965-2004 data from 2009 is 0.15(1) degrees per decade.

These slopes do not significantly disagree. The only one trying to pull a fast one here is you.

If you had bothered to examine this data for yourself, you would have known that.

Instead, you thoughtlessly repeated a baseless accusation and then posted, in your ignorance, its own disproof.

If you think they are doing it wrong, get your own degree and show them how to do it right.

Except your too busy accusing them of fraud--accusations you have produced no evidence to support.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@AC245:

But I would ask that you answer this simple yet vexing question:

Why are the numbers in the published historical data sets constantly changing?

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/updates/

You're so busy accusing NASA of being scammers that you never even bothered to look at THEIR OWN WEB PAGE where they TELL YOU RIGHT OUT WHY THE DATA CHANGED.

That's the problem with "skeptics" like you. You never once bothered to try to find out NASA's side of things.

Again, just like a creationist.

Here is their reasons for some of the more recent changes, which you won't read. But other people will and will know that you didn't have any idea what you were talking about.

------------------------------------
August 2003: A longer version of Hohenpeissenberg station data was made available to GISS and added to the GHCN record. This had no noticeable impact on the global analyses.

March 2005:SCAR data were added to the analysis. This increased data coverage over Antarctica, as evident in the global maps of temperature anomalies.

April 2006:HadISST ocean temperatures are now used only for regions that are identified as ice-free in both the NOAA and HadISST records. This change effects a small number of gridboxes in which HadISST has sea ice while NOAA has open water. The prior approach damped temperature change at these gridboxes because of specification of a fixed temperature in sea ice regions. The new approach still yields a conservative estimate of surface air temperature change, as surface air temperature usually changes markedly when sea ice is replaced by open water or vice versa. Because of the small area of these gridboxes the effect on global temperature change was negligible.

Aug. 7, 2007:A discontinuity in station records in the U.S. was discovered and corrected (GHCN data for 2000 and later years were inadvertently appended to USHCN data for prior years without including the adjustments at these stations that had been defined by the NOAA National Climate Data Center). This had a small impact on the U.S. average temperature, about 0.15°C, for 2000 and later years, and a negligible effect on global temperature, as is shown here.

This August 2007 change received international attention via discussions on various blogs and repetition by some other media, with no graphs provided to show the insignificance of the effect. Further discussions of the curious misinformation are provided by Dr. Hansen on his personal webpage (e.g., his post on "The Real Deal: Usufruct & the Gorilla").

Sep. 10, 2007: The year 2000 version of USHCN data was replaced by the current version (with data through 2005). In this newer version, NOAA removed or corrected a number of station records before year 2000. Since these changes included most of the records that failed our quality control checks, we no longer remove any USHCN records. The effect of station removal on analyzed global temperature is very small, as shown by graphs and maps available here.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@AC245:

In fact, NASA is trying so hard to scam you that they post their source code on the web for you to download.

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/sources/

SOME CONSPIRACY HUH!

AC245 said...

Gabriel, your responses to my pointing out that Hansen, et al. are manipulating the published data (including historical data, which should not be changing) to fit their theory have been:

1. You're a liar! They're not manipulating data to fit their theory! (10/23/09 3:46 PM)

2. They may be manipulating data to fit their theory, but look! It still fits their theory! (10/23/09 5:28 PM)

3. Of course they're manipulating the data to fit their theory! (10/23/09 5:36 PM)

You make a good useful idiot for the AGW crowd, with these knee-jerk reactions, unswerving beliefs, and after-the-fact justifications.

But your remarkable ignorance and dogged resistance to learning make it worthless to try to engage you in a thoughtful discussion.

P.S. You might want to see a therapist about your obsession with these "creationists" that seem to haunt you so badly.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@AC245:

(including historical data, which should not be changing)

Where was the worldwide network of weather stations that measured global temperature in 1880?

The data from 1880 is reconstructed. It is an estimate. It cannot possibly be known as well as data from 2009.

Once again, like a creationist, you interpret uncertainty as fraud.

1. You're a liar! They're not manipulating data to fit their theory! (10/23/09 3:46 PM)

2. They may be manipulating data to fit their theory, but look! It still fits their theory! (10/23/09 5:28 PM)

3. Of course they're manipulating the data to fit their theory! (10/23/09 5:36 PM)


Lying about my posts is stupid. Anyone can read for themselves what I said.

But your remarkable ignorance and dogged resistance to learning make it worthless to try to engage you in a thoughtful discussion.

Right, because you have invested so much time in earning the scientific background necessary to be able to do climate science better than climate scientists. That makes ME the ignorant one.

P.S. You might want to see a therapist about your obsession with these "creationists" that seem to haunt you so badly.

Don't use their tactics and you won't get likened to one.

All you have done is make unsupported accusations. You claim the data was "manipulated"--meaning that they put global warming in there when the "real"data would show there wasn't any. But you can offer no evidence that anybody manipulated anything. When confronted with multiple sources that agree with each other, you pretend you didn't see them.

You claim NASA's doing something underhanded, when they TELL THE WHOLE WORLD EXACTLY WHAT THEY'RE DOING AND WHY!

All you can do is accuse people of bad faith. That isn't science.

Michael McNeil said...

Maybe arguing about whether the Sun really goes around the earth, according to GR, is not very productive when talking about whether “the earth has been cooling for the last ten years.”

This a side subject to the main thread, true, but I think people here have the mental capacity to tolerate the extra bandwidth; and when somebody asserts a supposed fact — particularly when used as supporting argument to a proposition which is relevant to the principal topic, while declaring it to be absolutely true beyond all doubt — and yet it's nothing of the sort, indeed in a very real sense it's utterly false — then in that case I'll answer it.

And when you thereupon attempt to arm-wave away the issue, with intimations of your supposed superior knowledge in this regard, while proclaiming the ignorance of others (e.g., me) in the matter, then I'll answer you.

You're just hair-splitting, and I don't have to play. Might as well argue that the Earth-sun system is “really” described by the Schroedinger equation.

It's hardly similar, unless you're making some assertion that violates known principles and facts of quantum mechanics. Not only is general relativity relevant for describing observable phenomena in the Solar System, but it changes the way we think about space, time, and the relationships (macroscopic, not microscopic) between bodies in our universe. There is no “force” of gravity, for instance.

On the scale of energies at which the Earth and Sun interact, to an extremely close approximation the Newtonian idea of the Earth going around the sun is correct, and 100% of physicists would sign on to that statement. Satisfied?

I am partly satisfied, actually, but only in part. The Ptolemaic System also got the planets to very nearly their appointed positions at their appointed times, but it too is conceptually completely off the mark.

Or maybe we should argue about whether to treat the Earth-sun system using quantum mechanics? That would be an equally good use of time.

You'd just like the subject to go away, and so it will.

Michael McNeil said...

First, though, I think folks here would like to hear what mathematician and philosopher of science Jacob Bronowski hod to say about this, in his slim, little book, The Common Sense of Science. It's not very long.

“There are several reasons why this belief [in complete and universal causality] will no longer do. The reasons are of different weight, and I myself am most impressed by a reason which is not conclusive, but which does shake my own confidence and must I think shake that of others. Here we have been thinking for nearly three hundred years that if there is one causal law which is certain beyond all challenge, it is the law of gravitation. The whole tradition of causality derives from its triumph. A hundred years ago, when the distant planet Uranus seemed not to be keeping time, we took it for granted that some unseen planet still further away must be disturbing it by its gravitational force. Two men, Adams in England and Leverrier in France, working with no knowledge of one another, and with nothing but pencil, paper and Newton's laws, calculated where such a planet must be. And when the great telescope at Berlin was turned to the spot, there was Neptune clear to the eye, and spectacular in its vindication of the unalterable laws of gravitation.

“And yet, and yet, the laws of gravitation have gone. There is no gravitation; there is no force at all; the whole model was wrong. All that theory was no more than a happy approximation to what really happens. When Newton brought in force as a cause, he was giving to matter the human property of effort, as much as Aristotle once gave it human will. The true causes are now embedded in the nature of space and the way in which matter distorts space; and they have no resemblance to the causes in which we believed for nearly three hundred years. Ironically, Adams and Leverrier merely postponed the catastrophe by sixty years. For one beginning of the crisis in classical physics about 1900 was an oddity like the one which they had set out to explain; only now it was the planet Mercury that was not keeping time. But search as we might, we could find no new Neptune to blame for the irregularity. It was cleared up only by a radical overhaul of the basic assumptions in Newton's philosophy, particularly in his conception of time.

“I have said that this is not a final objection to causal laws. After all, the new theory which Einstein put in place of the old, although as a field theory it is less mechanical than Newton's, is still a causal theory. And Einstein, almost alone among the great physicists of today, continues stoutly to argue on behalf of causality. Yet it does seem to me, for two reasons, that this overthrow of a long accepted cause must deeply shake our confidence. For one thing, the whole conception of causes in science springs historically from the triumph of gravitation. And for another, we see now that it is possible to have every human faith in a causal mechanism, every assurance that this is how nature works, that here is her very action laid bare, and every demonstration that some apparent departure really fits in with that cause — we could have all these, unviolated and gaining in strength for two hundred years. And yet at the end we find that the cause was a fiction. Something else was at work, which has nothing in common with that famous cause. The machine never was a copy of nature. It was only a kind of gigantic planetarium, which got the heavenly bodies to the right place at the right time, but whose causal mechanism was no more like nature's than Ptolemy's itself.”

(Reference: Jacob Bronowski, The Common Sense of Science, 1951, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1963; pp. 64-66.)