September 8, 2011

James Fallows says it was "flat-out moronic" for Rick Perry to bring up Galileo.

Perry was opining on science and climate change:
The science is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans' economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that's not settled yet, to me, is... nonsense. I mean... just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell.
What's stupid about that? Fallows says:
[U]ntil this evening's debate, the only reason anyone would use the example of Galileo-vs-the-Vatican was to show that for reasons of dogma, close-mindedness, and "faith-based" limits on inquiry, the findings of real science were too often ignored or ruled out of consideration. And Perry applies that analogy to his argument that we shouldn't listen to today's climate scientists? There are a million good examples of scientific or other expert consensus that turned out to be wrong, which is the point Perry wanted to make. He could have used IBM's early predictions that the total world market for computers would be a mere handful, or the "expert" resistance to public-health and medical theories by Pasteur or Lister, or anything from the great book The Experts Speak.

The reason I think this stings over time is that it's like someone who tries to fancy himself up by using a great big word -- and uses it the wrong way.  Hey, I'll mention Galileo! Unfortunately in mentioning him, I'll show that I don't know the first thing about that case or what an "analogy" is. It's better to be plain spoken.
You know, when you're calling somebody "a flat-out moron," you'd better be sure you're not missing something. It's extremely common to portray environmentalism, as practiced in present-day America, as the equivalent of a religion. Just the other day, for example, I wrote: "enviromentalism is the religion taught in public schools, and it's the kind of religion done with shaming young people." Here's a World Net Daily article from back in 2008 called "The Climate Change Religion." The Freakonomics blog had an item in 2009: "Is Climate-Change Belief a Religion?"("Actually, yes..."). Here's a piece in Forbes from last April: "Climate Change As Religion: The Gospel According To Gore."

In this context, Perry's invocation of Galileo makes perfect sense, and if anybody's a flat-out moron here, it's Fallows.

91 comments:

roesch-voltaire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter said...

Besides the churchmen who repressed Galileo, there were also the scientists who upbraided him for going against Aristotle's ideas on moving bodies: they insisted that the science was settled! -- had been for 2 millennia! Some of these learned gentlemen even refused to look thru his telescope (in which he claimed to see moons circling Jupiter-- how ridiculous!) So I agree, it's Mr. Fallows who comes across as... well, kind of ignorant of the history of science.

Lucius said...

Fallows used to be a pretty astute critic of media and politics, and someone who seemed to pride himself on keeping a very level head (or at least mouth).

He seems to be doing it for the money these days (hence, all his pimping for China Inc.) and predictably, like Chris Matthews, letting himself fume like a breathless idealogue.

I take it climate change skeptics are Perry's Galileo(s), and Fallows has let his trigger-finger for non-Establishment rubes get the better of him.

For the record, I'm still a Perry skeptic myself, so I won't tackle Fallows for that alone. But I've noted his work on NPR and "The Atlantic" over the past few years, and I'm very disappointed with him.

Scott M said...

Proof reading will server you well, RV. It's been a long while since I've read the Freakonomics piece on AGW, but I'll check it out again tonight.

George said...

Fallows is an arrogant SOB. In a world of odious media types, he is near the top of the list.

sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AJ Lynch said...

Fallows, like Sullivan, is just another one of the librul bubble people. Even you, Althouse, can not burst their bubble. But please keep trying.

rocketeer67 said...

maybe give more funding to the volunteer fire departments TExas depends upon instead of cutting the budget?

For your enlightenment, R-V:

"The Volunteer Firefighter Assistance Account appropriation for the 2012-13 biennium is comparable to amounts included in previous budgets signed by Gov. Perry. A one-time increase in funding for the 2010-11 biennium included funding for recommended capital costs like new equipment. Included below are the appropriations amounts for the Texas Forest Service for each budget signed by Gov. Perry. The Volunteer Firefighter Service Account is included in the total Texas Forest Service appropriation.
The Texas legislature traditionally makes supplemental appropriations to provide additional funding to cover unexpected costs related to disasters, including wildfires. This year, the legislature approved $121 million in supplemental spending of this sort. The threat of unpredictable natural disasters including as wildfires is precisely why Gov. Perry insisted that Texas’ 2012-13 budget not include any spending from the state’s Rainy Day Fund, which currently has an estimated balance of $6.5 billion.

Texas Forest Service appropriations

Biennium Total (in millions)

2002 – 2003 $43.5

2004 – 2005 $70.6

2006 – 2007 $72.4

2008 – 2009 $75.2

2010 – 2011 $109.2

2012 – 2013 $75.4"

It appears to me 2010 was an aberration. 2012's budget hardly represents a cut in context. I think you'd agree....at least if you're not a total hack.

Maguro said...

Fallows isn't so much a moron as a dishonest partisan hack. He knew exactly what Perry meant and is just trying to reassure his little band of AGW believers that the emperor does have a wonderful set of new clothes.

garage mahal said...

I used to like Fallows when I agreed with him more.

Coketown said...

The roesch-voltaire guide to preventing global warming:

1. Fund volunteer firefighters
2. ???
3. Prevent global warming

You know. Take preventative measures.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

This is exactly like the whole shock and outrage over calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme, when people have been doing that for years, and somehow everyone at MSNBC just missed it.

It's fine to disagree, but I can't respect people who don't even have the first clue how the people who they disagree with are thinking.

- Lyssa

Fred4Pres said...

A republican (especially one who is a real threat) will never get a fair shake. Never.

rcocean said...

Fallows used to be Jimmy Carter's speech writer and Democrat Party operative.

I thought Perry's use of Galileo was smart. Galileo wasn't just fighting "Dogma" he was fighting a scientific consensus. Plenty of "Scientists" thought Galileo was wrong - on scientific grounds.

Curious George said...

"or figure out that maybe the world is warming and it is best to take preventative measures-- maybe give more funding to the volunteer fire departments TExas depends upon instead of cutting the budget?"

I would ask you to connect the dots but we both know that ain't gonna happen.

Ann Althouse said...

"Belief in man-made climate change is not a new religion..."

I didn't say it was. My point is that it's familiar discourse to equate environmentalism, especially belief in global warming, to religion and even to call it a religion. It's part of the discourse, whether any given article signs on to the notion that it is a religion or like a religion, and that is why Fallows embarrasses himself for attacking Perry the way he did. Fallows is ignorant of something pretty routine in the political discourse.

Matt said...

Fallows is spot on. Galileo was fighting against faith based groups [the church] with science. Today scientists are still fighting against faith based groups. So aligning Galileo with the faith based is completely backward.

Re "the Environmentalists are a religion" argument is taking a small segment of some Environmentalists and applying it to every Environmentalist and in turn every Scientist. Doesn't work, Althouse. Not even close.

If 90% of doctors said something causes cancer would you ignore them? Same with Global climate change. Scientists are not making it up.

Also note that Perry is someone who believes we can pray away our problems. Galileo would not approve of that since it is not science.

Alexander said...

It should also be said that the "science," that is, the empirical evidence, was not 100% on Galileo's (and Copernicus's) side at the time. The Ptolemaic model of the solar system had a lot of advantages that were only gradually overcome by the superiority of the Copernican model.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Lucius said...

For the record, I'm still a Perry skeptic myself...

Oh come on, that's ridiculous. The science is settled, Perry definitely exists. You Perry deniers make me sick!

Alexander said...

Matt -- may I ask where you draw your beliefs about Galileo's convictions regarding prayer?

Maguro said...

If 90% of doctors said something causes cancer would you ignore them? Same with the stable continent theory. Scientists are not making it up.

If 90% of doctors said something causes cancer would you ignore them? Same with phrenology. Scientists are not making it up.

If 90% of doctors said something causes cancer would you ignore them? Same with Ptolemaic astronomy. Scientists are not making it up.

Etc, etc...

Christopher said...

Alexander,

Matt is most likely grossly distorting Perry's call for prayer during the Texas wildfires.

Apparently doing so while simultaneously having your emergency services combat the wildfires means that you aren't doing anything but praying (or so claimed a great many leftists).


As to the analogy, given that AGW believers just forced a man from his job for publishing a report hostile to their beliefs I'd probably have to agree with Althouse here.

Mike K said...

Fallows is spot on. Galileo was fighting against faith based groups [the church] with science. Today scientists are still fighting against faith based groups. So aligning Galileo with the faith based is completely backward.

I especially like the hysterical tone of the alarmists. The possibility that mild global warming, to the level of the Medieval Warm Period for example, might be beneficial is heresy. The reason AGW is a religion is partly because of the behavior of its advocates (How dare that editor publish a peer reviewed paper on cosmic ray effect on clouds !) and the seemingly inability of them to accept moderate measures. No, they must wreck modern society by cutting off energy supplies, even those that don't create CO2 (!) or suffer damnation.

Sir, you give yourself away every time you speak.

Robert Ayers said...

One of the early proponents of the "environmentalism as religion" meme was the scientist, doctor, and author Michael Crichton.

It used to be posted at the Crichton web-site. You can now find it as http://www.forces.org/articles/files/crichton.htm and several other places.

Fragment:

Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it's a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.

There's an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there's a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.

Eden, the fall of man, the loss of grace, the coming doomsday---these are deeply held mythic structures. They are profoundly conservative beliefs. They may even be hard-wired in the brain, for all I know. I certainly don't want to talk anybody out of them, as I don't want to talk anybody out of a belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God who rose from the dead. But the reason I don't want to talk anybody out of these beliefs is that I know that I can't talk anybody out of them. These are not facts that can be argued. These are issues of faith.

And so it is, sadly, with environmentalism. Increasingly it seems facts aren't necessary, because the tenets of environmentalism are all about belief. It's about whether you are going to be a sinner, or saved. Whether you are going to be one of the people on the side of salvation, or on the side of doom. Whether you are going to be one of us, or one of them.

Mike K said...

Actually, the accurate model of the solar system was Kepler's. Copernicus did not acknowledge the solar centric universe until his deathbed. De Revolutionibus was published after his death.

edutcher said...

Damn, I really am starting to like this guy.

The point (Perry's) is well-made and astute, the enviro-nuts notwithstanding.

ndspinelli said...

Too bad Michael Crichton died, he was the most eloquent person about this man made sham.

A. Shmendrik said...

Fallows had a great piece in the Atlantic Monthly that ran in an issue that was on the newsstands at the time of the 9/11 attacks. (Perhaps it arrived on newsstands immediately afterwards, that magazine having a 2-2.5 month production lead time.) The point of the article was to suggest that now with the advent of new parachutes designed to arrest the fall of light aircraft, everything was in place for everyone to pilot their own plane. It was as if Popular Mechanics was forecasting the world of the future, year 2000, in their July 1938 issue. With about the same degree of accuracy. Fallows wasn't part of the Carter Administration for nothing.

Matt said...

Maguro

I get the point. Still, if 90% of doctors today say something causes cancer I'll go with the opinion of the doctors. Maybe you don't trust doctors?

Erik said...

"If 90% of doctors said something causes cancer would you ignore them?"

Yes. Unless they could provide convincing evidence along with their words. Science isn't a democracy, you know.

Science is an endless list of ideas considered to be crackpot, that is, until they weren't. Heliocentrism isn't the only one. Plate tectonics. Multiple universes. Heavier-than-air flight. Etc., etc. Science rarely dukes it out with religion. Mostly they're duking it out with other scientists. And the majority opinion of scientists has a long history of being wrong.

Maguro said...

Anyone interested in how the heliocentric solar system theory prevailed against the existing scientific consensus should get a copy of Koestler's The Sleepwalkers through the Althouse portal. It's a cracking good read.

Paddy O said...

It also makes perfect sense because for an analogy to work in a popular forum a lot of people need to be familiar with the analogy.

People know of Galileo.

Computers and IBM, experts and Pasteur, would get the readers of The Experts Speak, but that's not really a lot of people.

Perry used a commonly understood story to illustrate a parallel.

Henry said...

Matt, what if 90% of the doctors said something caused cancer and added, don't tell us any other damn thing causes cancer because our cancer-causing thing is the alpha and omega.

Mark O said...

Ptolemy would have been a better fit. I'd wager that's what he was thinking about.

roesch-voltaire said...

Sorry I was rushing out the door to catch a bus- hope this is clearer.
This distorts the link given on the Freakonomics blog where I read the defendant in the case states: Belief in man-made climate change is not a new religion, it is a philosophical belief that reflects my moral and ethical values and is underlined by the overwhelming scientific evidence. The discourse that labels evidence for global warming as a religion is generally a mantra of the right, and not of science.
In truth Glileo is a good example to ask of Perry and others what counts as proof, and how much evidence do you need before you let Galileo out of jail, and realize that your religion keeps you from understanding what his telescope was pointing at. And how much evidence do we need to figure out that maybe the world is warming and it is best to take preventative measures-- maybe give more funding to the volunteer fire departments Texas which depends upon them instead of cutting the budget? Of course this will not prevent global warming, but at least the action may mitigate the effects.

Trooper York said...

Didn't this Fallows guy work for Jimmy Carter? Like Chris Matthews?

What more do you need?

Next.

Andy Freeman said...

I realize that you'd like to think that anyone with a lab coat possesses all current knowledge, but it's simply not true.

> If 90% of doctors said something causes cancer would you ignore them?

You do know that most doctors don't have any special expertise wrt cancer, right?

For example, we'd hope that a podiatrist would have some expertise wrt cancers of the foot, but she'd be just repeating "common knowledge" wrt lung cancer.

> Same with Global climate change. Scientists are not making it up.

Umm, the vast majority of said "scientists" don't have any relevant expertise. Seriously - a chemist doesn't have any special knowledge wrt AGW.

In fact, when you look at AGW, you find that a lot of the "evidence" is actually provided by folks working outside their fields.

For example, folks who actually study sea levels disagree with the AGW claims that the rate of increase is changing.[1] Those claims are coming from outsiders.

[1] What? You didn't know that sea levels have been increasing for decades, if not hundreds of years?

Maguro said...

I get the point. Still, if 90% of doctors today say something causes cancer I'll go with the opinion of the doctors. Maybe you don't trust doctors?

Well, doctors are just people so, no I don't trust them, not entirely. Nor should you. Always beware of the experts. At one point, 90% of doctors thought autism was caused by "refrigerator mothers", a scientific consensus that turned out to be completely and utterly wrong. That was less than 50 years ago.

Anyway, here is where I think your global warming/cancer metaphor breaks down:

When doctors decide that something "causes cancer", they are typically looking backwards at a sample of patient histories - events that have already occurred - and comparing the likelihood of having cancer against certain common traits. Smoking, working with asbestos, etc. So, yeah, if they do a study that says, say 20% of smokers get lung cancer vs. 5% of non-smokers, that would be enough to convince me not to smoke.

However, AGW alarmism isn't based on patient histories or events that have already occurred, it's based on events that are predicted to occur by certain computer models. The warming that has already occurred, you see, is extremely mild (~.8C) and probably somewhat beneficial if anything. The catastrophic effects (20 foot sea level rise, CAT 6 hurricanes, etc.) are model-based long-term predictions coming out of models that haven't predicted anything accurately over the short term.

So, you can't really compare AGW to something like "Smoking causes cancer". Apples and oranges. AGW theory makes extraordinary claims but has not provided extraordinary evidence in support of those claims.

B said...

If 90% of doctors said something causes cancer would you ignore them?

That depends. If the other 10% of doctors and a significant number of practitioners in related disciplines contended that the determination was based on data that was massaged, modeling that was manipulated, known qualifying factors and historical data contradicting the conclusions purposefully ignored, peer review restricted to researchers with vested interests in the theory...

I would ignore the 90% consensus until those questions were answered.

I most certainly would not make permanent, irreversible changes to my life, especially ones that would decrease the quality of my life, until those questions were answered.

I would consider any assault on my skepticism via the contention by people benefiting financially or professionally that the concerns of the 10% should be dismissed as denying settled science proof that the questions are valid and unanswered.

Rick T. said...

Can anybody recommend a good phrenologist or blood letter? These were pretty much consensus science back a couple hundred years ago so surely they are still valid.

Barry Dauphin said...

Galileo can be used metaphorically in more than one way. Perry is simply using it as a way to indicate he is standing up to the powerful "consensus" of today (like Galileo).

Fallows tries to be uber clever by interpreting it as literally as possible (he probably read several pieces about Galileo in order to double check his facts but would be quite forgiving of himself for failing to be so precise if he were answering someone's question in a debate). In reality Fallows is engaging in the usual Dem trope of how smart Dems are. "See how clever I am that I know all the details about Galileo--love me because I'm smart; vote for who I tell you to vote for because you're stupid".

Second, Fallows is a big advocate of flying small planes, nothwithstanding if we followed his passion, we'd increase our carbon footprints to the size of Fallows' ego or Algore's waistline.

Third, I second Maguro's suggestion about the Sleepwalkers. In fact, Galilieo loses a bit of his luster in Koestler's account.

William said...

People ike to believe in certainty much more than they like to believe in truth. This applies as much to microbiologists as it does to Jehovah Witnesses.....I would like an MSNBC anchor to ask some lib whether he believes that Keynes and not Hayek was a better examplar of the scientific method.

Cedarford said...

rcocean said...

I thought Perry's use of Galileo was smart. Galileo wasn't just fighting "Dogma" he was fighting a scientific consensus. Plenty of "Scientists" thought Galileo was wrong - on scientific grounds.
===========
Perry may have a good analogy, but the public perception - the instant mental image - is the scientist vs. the religious nuts. Coupled with Perry's believe in teaching intelligent design - he could have expressed it better than a tossaway line how questioning AGW is like Galileo.

It needs the fleshing out that Perry didn't do:

1. Scientists, some very distinguished ones - notably Aristotle and built on by Roman, Muslim, Hindu, and medieval Christian scholars and mathematicians created an "explain the universe system" so compelling the Roman Catholic Church made it an article of faith.
2. The Church's greatest thinkers and theologians, grounded in science and the great classical mathematicians and physics experimenters (notably St Thoma Aquinas), had created a synthesis between theological teachings, and the scientific description of our universe's composition. This made a shift to a completely different system, centering the sun in our solar system, one that many people were not ready to make.
3. But the theory was wrong, and while there were Muslims that had recognized serious flaws - it was Europeans that fought the "Science based religion" of geocentrism as the Deniers! and Heretics!

(In this of course, we do need to remember that most deniers and heretics! against established and reviewed theory turn out to be wrong. For every Galileo and Copernicus - there are a 100 Lysenkos.)

Paddy O said...

Anyhow, Galileo had problems with the Catholic Church. Perry is a Protestant, and we all know that the Catholic Church treated Protestants even worse than scientists.

Have you studied the Huguenots in France, for instance?

Science and Protestants, we're on the same side!

cubanbob said...

Matt said...
Fallows is spot on. Galileo was fighting against faith based groups [the church] with science. Today scientists are still fighting against faith based groups. So aligning Galileo with the faith based is completely backward.

Re "the Environmentalists are a religion" argument is taking a small segment of some Environmentalists and applying it to every Environmentalist and in turn every Scientist. Doesn't work, Althouse. Not even close.

If 90% of doctors said something causes cancer would you ignore them? Same with Global climate change. Scientists are not making it up.

Also note that Perry is someone who believes we can pray away our problems. Galileo would not approve of that since it is not science.

9/8/11 3:53 PM

The church of AGW. What difference does it make if even 100% of all climate scientist said AGW is real when the underlying science, mathematics and computer modeling
is demonstrably false? The psychics,chemistry,statistical and mathematical and computing communities state the underlying data and assumptions are dubious and testable or falsifiable which is after all the basic tenants of science.

craig said...

Real science is about empirical results. Not 90% but 99% of doctors agreed that stomach ulcers were the result of diet and stress until one particular doctor proved that they are the result of a bacterium. Even then, it took time before his results were believed; at one point he actually deliberately gave himself an ulcer and then cured it with antibiotics, just to prove the point.

This is the problem with climate change science: the data is not there, and neither are the results.

The surface temperature measurement raw data is gone: deleted forever, or so they say. The only data sets available for study are those that have been "corrected" by the climate change scientists, and they kept no records of what adjustments were done.

The trends that appear in their surface data do not correlate with the trends shown in empirical measurements done via satellite observation. Their models cannot predict current climate using past data, so why should anyone trust them to predict climate 50 years ahead from current data? (In fact, Mann's model was shown to create the famous "hockey stick" plot given any input, including random numbers!) They need to demonstrate not mere plausibility, but actual predictive power, before the rest of us ought to agree to change the world economy based upon the claimed threat.

William said...

Many years ago I read How Green Was My Valley. Here's what I remember from that fine novel. A lovely Welsh valley became a scarred and ugly place in order to mine coal. The coal miners got screwed. The mine owners got rich. The tragedy was a local event......The man who wrote that novel does not have any greater understanding of the science of global warming than I do. Nonetheless, if he were alive, my guess is that he would buy into it with his whole mind and whole soul and would do a fine job progagandizing its beliefs.....And that is my big objection to GWT. The issue is being propagated by the dramatists and not by the scientists....In point of fact, Welsh miners made more than the farm workers that preceded them and the cheap energy derived from coal enabled man to escape from his long millenia of subsistence farming. But there's no great novel to be had writing about that.

Chase said...

Professor Ann,

You are my hero!

Thank you for using your prestige and analysis to kick the ass of the climate religionists and their Pope Gore the II.

Also, Fallows is from my area, and when he comes to visit the University (too often), the faculty roll their eyes at his speeches.

Sad.

Charlie Martin said...

Hell, skiping all that, it still makes perfect sense: Galileo was tried for, among other things, accepting the Copernican heliocentric Solar System in place of the Ptolemaic Earth-centered one, which was the consensus of science at the time.

Don't need to make this so fancy.

Cedarford said...

Erik - And the majority opinion of scientists has a long history of being wrong.

==============
No, the majority opinion tends to be right in a large majority of cases, arguments..wrong in a few.

The dissidents tend to be forgotten, remembered if at all as crackpots or gadflys. Save the lucker, wiser than the mainstream few, that pan out as right, that we remember.

My opinion is the climate scientists are right. Man has some contribution to warming. But none can say with any precision how much. And until they can come out and say "it is reasonably certain it is a major problem" - it is wrong to create a religion, assume the absolute worst case, and destroy all 1st world economies on a theory while allowing our global competitors exemption from a "carbon control regime".

I also think scientists can 'establish' that whale and dinosaur farts 'added to global warming' by their models. Or building a city 'objectively', as a heat sink, has to contribute SOMETHING to warming.

Their case is a little better than the objective truth about whale farts - because whale methane and removal mechanisms clearly reached a balanced equilibrium that caused no cumulative effect. The CO2 is not in equilibrium at this time, but progressively building up.

What I am very leery of is the Greens as watermelons...zealots green on the outside, red on the inside that wish to impose global controls that apply only to the West and seek to achieve wealth redistribution to "noble 3rd Worlders" exempt from carbon controls.
Nothing about means of addressing this by:
1. Use of non-approved energy sources greens hate - like nuclear.
2. Nothing about ending the exponential increase in 3rd world populations that adds more CO2 usage demand than the West - Especially when even the Greens know that certain overpopulated
countries will or already have exceeded their land's carrying capacity for water use, enough food from arable lands to self-sustain them - long before "CO2!!" would ever be a threat.
3. No discussion seems to be wanted by Greens about ending 3rd world mass immigration into the West, of fast-breeders.
4. No Green discussion about mitigation strategies directed not on CO2 limits on the 1st World - but on cooler cities, building dikes, seeding oceans with iron powder to boost algea in barren ocean regions...

Chase said...

f 90% of doctors said something causes cancer would you ignore them?

For almost 100 years, doctors believed that stress, spicy foods, and alcohol caused most ulcers. Now we know that most peptic ulcers are caused by a particular bacterial infection in the stomach and upper intestine, by certain medications, or by smoking.



In 1982, two doctors — Barry Marshall and Robin Warren — discovered a certain kind of bacteria that can live and grow in the stomach. Both doctors went on to win the Nobel Prize for their discovery. The medical name for these bacteria is Helicobacter pylori (or H. pylori, for short). Today doctors know that most peptic ulcers are caused by an infection from H. pylori.

Experts believe that 90% of all people with ulcers are infected with H. pylori. But strangely enough, most people infected with H. pylori don't develop an ulcer. Doctors aren't completely sure why, but think it may partly depend upon the individual person — for example, those who develop ulcers may already have a problem with the lining of their stomachs.

So, 90 % of doctors believed the wrong thing until the 1990's.

And that's just one time "most scientists" (and doctors) were wrong, Asshole.

Asshole - better think about your science religion again.

sydney said...

In Galileo's day, even scientists who looked through telescopes thought he was wrong. None of them were able to build telescopes of the same quality that he had created. They could not confirm his findings. There were two things that really got him in trouble with the Church: 1) He offended the Jesuits 2) He insulted the pope by making the Pope's own theories part of his book - in which they were ridiculed.

Hagar said...

It is my understanding that the pope at the time understood Galileo's science quite well and accepted it privately. What the pope did not accept was that Galileo had been making nice with the pope's personal enemies and hence quarantined him.

Crimso said...

'He could have used IBM's early predictions that the total world market for computers would be a mere handful, or the "expert" resistance to public-health and medical theories by Pasteur or Lister, or anything from the great book The Experts Speak.'

Or Marshall and Warren's more recent example with helicobacter pylori. Except that no one was calling for trials of Marshall and Warren, IBM, Pasteur, or Lister.

Synova said...

According to Eric Flint, the deal with Galileo was primarily that he was a jerk and pissed off enough people that the pope was reluctantly drawn into the brouhaha.

But what we're "taught" about him was that he was the pure hearted crusader for Truth being mercilessly persecuted by organized religion.

What's really funny about Flint's book (The Galileo Affair) is that the American teenagers take off to "save" Galileo on the basis of the false stories they've been told.

Synova said...

In any case, this seems like a sort of Palinist tactic. Say something about History (or anything else) that all of the "right" people are going to howl over as being stupid and get everyone talking about how the Truth is on his side.

Synova said...

"2) He insulted the pope by making the Pope's own theories part of his book - in which they were ridiculed."

Oh, I'd forgotten that part about the book Galileo wrote deliberately making a laughing stock of the pope.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Matt: If 90% of doctors said something causes cancer would you ignore them?

No, but neither would I ignore the remainder because it's the minority. Especially interesting is when the minority asks questions, and someone aligned with majority keeps shouting, "SHUT UP!"

That I definitely won't ignore.

Cedarford:

The Catholic Church never made any explanation of the universe an article of faith.

About Galileo...

As noted, the whole story is far more complicated than the usual version. Galileo ended up being right (although if memory serves, some parts of his own theory proved to need correction), had the pope taken his side at that point, the pope would have been at odds with other scientists.

As it happens, Galileo was not able to answer the best objection against his theory; it had to do with observability of parallax shifts. The technology enabling such measurement, which vindicated Galileo, came a long time after.

Finally, the Holy Office (not the pope) did not forbid Galileo or anyone else from proposing or exploring the theory; rather, the Holy Office told him to hold back from asserting as proven what seemed, as yet, unproven.

The Church wanted the scientific debate to continue.

Rob Crawford said...

If 90% of doctors said something causes cancer would you ignore them? Same with Global climate change. Scientists are not making it up.

Does the 90% include people without MDs? Does the evidence involve computer models that give the "right" answer regardless of the data they're given? Are there emails showing some of the most vocal of those doctors conspiring to shut down all discussion of the opposing theories?

Are the doctors rejecting the alternative theories presented by epidemiologists out of hand? Are they ignoring -- and even blocking -- research that could falsify their claims?

Do some of the most vocal of these doctors have a decades-long history of crying wolf, with the single constant being their demand that you avoid whatever they're saying causes cancer?

The Crack Emcee said...

It's extremely common to portray environmentalism, as practiced in present-day America, as the equivalent of a religion. Just the other day, for example, I wrote: "enviromentalism is the religion taught in public schools, and it's the kind of religion done with shaming young people." Here's a World Net Daily article from back in 2008 called "The Climate Change Religion." The Freakonomics blog had an item in 2009: "Is Climate-Change Belief a Religion?"("Actually, yes..."). Here's a piece in Forbes from last April: "Climate Change As Religion: The Gospel According To Gore."

Give me a break - everybody's always going on about environmentalism being a religion but without saying what religion. The religion of environmentalism? Where are it's churches? Temples? Gathering places of any kind? What are it's tenets?

Environmentalism is a central plank of the NewAge Movement - one of it's main tenets. It's got churches (for instance, Unification) and so many gathering places (like Yoga studios, Whole Foods, the Oprah Winfrey Show, NPR, KPFA, etc.) it boggles the mind.

Quit dancing around the obvious:

Environmentalism is a part of the NewAge Movement.

sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Zrimsek said...

There are a million good examples of scientific or other expert consensus that turned out to be wrong, which is the point Perry wanted to make. He could have used...

...this, for example.

Hagar said...

On that subject, I just read a history of the Comanche nation that claimed a twenty year long drought between 1845 and 1865 reduced them from 40-45,000 to about 10-15,000.
The history of west Texas could have turned out a bit different if the U.S. had met up with the Comanches in their prime.

roesch-voltaire said...

Galileo to a large extent was the father of modern science because he tested assumptions and eventually tied the results of his observations to math. Until Galileo, the so-called scientist perpetuated Greek philosophy through talk and what was called natural observations or common sense. He was a "jerk" because he continue to defend his ideas, and even published Dialogue... where put the Pope's view on tides in the mouth of Simplico. And The Pope, according to the Inquisition file, "directed the Lord Cardinal Bellarmine to summon before him the said Galileo and admonish him to abandon the said opinion; and, in the case of his refusal to obey, the Commissary of the Holy Office is to enjoin him...to abstain altogether from teaching or defending this opinion and even from discussing it."
Frankly no matter how you twist it, Perry's example just does not make historical sense.

Kirk Parker said...

r-v,

If any of that stuff about Galileo in your 4:28pm comment were accurate, you'd have a point; but it's not, and you don't.

Barry,

"I second Maguro's suggestion about the Sleepwalkers. In fact, Galilieo loses a bit of his luster in Koestler's account. [emphasis added]"

Wow, so Koestler goes pretty easy on him, eh?

Synova said...

"He was a "jerk" because he continue to defend his ideas, and even published Dialogue... where put the Pope's view on tides in the mouth of Simplico."

And "jerk" needs scare quotes there?

Remember Tim Conway when he'd do the sketch and pull his pant waist up high and hat down and cross his eyes?

Simplico.

In English the booklet would feature a fellow named Dunderhead.

But you think "jerk" needs scare quotes on account of we now know that Galileo was correct in his observations?

Curious George said...

"RV:
maybe give more funding to the volunteer fire departments Texas which depends upon them instead of cutting the budget? Of course this will not prevent global warming, but at least the action may mitigate the effects."

Again, can you connect the dots to this idiocy?

Erik said...

"No, the majority opinion tends to be right in a large majority of cases, arguments..wrong in a few."

Ummm ... no. Go back 100 years, and compare the standard understanding of the world, medicine, physics, anything at all, to what we know today. They were fundamentally wrong about most of it. 100 years from now, our prevailing understanding of most things will have undergone significant revision. The same could be said 100 years before that. And 100 years before that.

The one constant, unchanging thing about science is the understanding that our current model of the world is lacking. It leads us down many false paths. The only difference is how far off course the current paths lead us. It's not a matter of them often being right. Only that current paths lead us less wrong than others.

The problem with most people dedicated to "science" these days is that they forget this. Science was supposed to be free of this sort of dogma. The moment people began embracing it as an ideology, it began to lose its universal appeal. Most scientists are well aware of this, but its non-scientist defenders in the public sphere do not seem to be.

Skookum John said...

Regarding all the back and forth about doctors and cancer, I am a physician and I will certainly testify to the existence of medical junk science on a scale to match the global warming alarmists. The "consensus" on things like the amount of salt a healthy person should take in from their diet is little more than witchcraft. Same for the alleged cancer-causing effects of things like stress and second hand smoke. All the low-hanging fruit in medical science was picked years ago, so academic medicine nowadays consists of teasing out vague correlations from the most tortured multifactorial analyses and rushing off to the Dr. Oz show to pontificate about what they mean. If climate research is done the same way, which seems certain to me, then half of it is bunk and half of the rest is uselessly trivial.

mbabbitt said...

I appreciate the several posts by people who understood that Galileo faced much scientific opposition and his subjugation was partly due to their influence. If I recall my Galileo research correctly I believe two clergy men were very supported of him. I am always amazed to see so many educated and even brilliant people believe the popular consensus that Galileo was under house arrest for simply presenting a different view of how our solar system operates. Lazy thinking is always a danger. I think many, not all, AGW believers fit in this category, never questioning the foundational data and models upon which it is built on. For the record, I favor a warmer world. I think the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

quercus said...

"You know, when you're calling somebody "a flat-out moron," you'd better be sure you're not missing something."

Yep. I double checked.

You're a flat out moron.

Laika's Last Woof said...

"If 90% of doctors said something causes cancer would you ignore them?"
If a lead doctor from the lab providing the data that served as the basis for the cancer claims wrote this: "I've just completed Mike's tumor trick to hide the decline," the answer to your question becomes a resounding, "Yes!" You should recall the science did not become unsettled until after 2008. Climategate changed everything.

Now we know we live in a world where the models are wrong and nobody but a select few seem to care. If 90% of climate scientists believe CO2 is the center of the universe however they have to massage the historical data to force a fit Rick Perry's analogy is quite apt: the time for a "Climate Copernicus" is long overdue.

To continue the analogy even further, Earth's gravity does affect the other planets, however slightly, so if Copernicus were to have claimed Earth has no impact on solar dynamics he would've been wrong. But there isn't a planet in the solar system that doesn't orbit the sun.

Something that isn't CO2 is the prime mover of climate temperature. Somewhere out in the vastness of climate space is the climate equivalent of the sun -- heck it might even BE the sun. 90% of climate "scientists" are uncurious as to what that force might be. When CO2 is at the center of the universe in their minds there is no reason to look any further.

The time is indeed ripe for a "Climate Copernicus". Rick Perry's nod to Galileo passes close enough.

Mike said...

Fallows isn't the only doofus to get the Galileo issue wrong. Somehow the reporters at the Wall Street Journal--writing about the debate--made a similar mistake.

In my simplistic mind, Galileo stands for the proposition that science is about being right--even if it means contradicting the overwhelming consensus of the day.

Perry was correct in using the analogy.

Camp Runamok said...

Missing so far in this whole "Galileo" debate is the fact that the Church, ultimately, did not have such a big issue with his theory of a moving Earth. There were detractors, to be sure, but there were also those interested in his idea. What turned the Fathers against him was that he published his observations in Italian, not Latin. That meant the average Giuseppe on the street could read of his revolutionary findings and, thus, throw the entire "settled philosophy" espoused by the Church into doubt. That would erode Church power. We know what happened next.

As with today, much tangible political power revolves aroud the AGW theory; "settled science" and all. Competing theories are threats to that power. Perry's Galileo example was spot on!

Tatter said...

"The book by Nicholas Copernicus of Torun was printed not long ago and published in recent days. In it he tries to revive the teaching of certain Pythagoreans concerning the Earth's motion, a teaching which had died out in times long past. Nobody accepts it now except Copernicus. [The Pythagoreans had proposed a non-mathematical Earth-motion theory before Aristarchus.]

"[Copernicus is] an expert in mathematics and astronomy, but he is very deficient in physics. Hence, since Copernicus does not understand physics it is not surprising if he is mistaken in this opinion and accepts the false as true, through ignorance of those sciences it is stupid to contradict a belief accepted by everyone over a very long time for extremely strong reasons, unless the naysayer uses more powerful and incontrovertible proofs, and completely rebuts the opposed reasoning. Copernicus does not do this at all. For he does not undermine the proofs, establishing necessary conclusions, advanced by Aristotle the philosopher and Ptolemy the astronomer.

"Aristotle absolutely destroyed the arguments of the Pythagoreans. Yet this is not adduced by Copernicus in his ignorance of it.

"Almost all the hypotheses of this author Copernicus contain something false, and very many absurdities follow from them. For by a foolish effort [Copernicus] tries to revive the contrived Pythagorean belief, long since deservedly buried, since it explicitly contradicts human reason."

- Giovanni Maria Tolosani

Don said...

If 90% of doctors said something causes cancer would you ignore them?

If 90% of doctors said that carrying a widget in your pocket caused cancer, that would be concerning. On the other hand, if the loudest and most vocal of that 90% were always wearing cargo pants with every single pants pocket and multiple shirt pockets stuffed with widgets, and they never expressed any concern about their own personal widget use, but only about the widget use of others - and if they also had an extremely strong financial interest in the thingamabob industry that they suggested should replace widgets...?

Yeah, then I'd be skeptical.

(In other words, when those who tell me it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis...)

John said...

Hey,

Galilio was wrong. His trail was about him proving his theories nothing else. He failed, the same way he failed to prove comets wete nothing more then swam gas.

The world is round but not for the reasons he claimed. He also spoke out harshly to his critics.

Fast track today to golbal wraming,
man vs nature.

Cal said...

There's been far too much parroting of the lies about the Church and Galileo here to ignore. Perry has a great opportunity here to set the record straight. Galileo was not fighting church "dogma", as has been repeated here. He never feared the Church, he feared the secular Earth-centric consensus. His closest friend was the Pope and the Vatican funded his research. His work built off the work of Copernicus, who was himself a Catholic cleric.

Galileo's problem occurred when in his arrogance, he used his unproven theories to begin preaching a new religion. The Pope told him to stick to science and leave religion out of it. Galileo then published "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems" in which one of the three characters was named "Simplicio" and was widely believed to ridicule the Pope. At this point, he was placed under house arrest. Contrary to the myth, he was not tossed in some dungeon...he lived in a swanky Italian villa, was given all the instruments and supplies he needed to continue his research, basically lived a cushy retirement, and was well cared-for after he went blind in 1638.

In the end...the Church refused to endorse his heliocentric theory because it was considered inconclusive. The Church has since been proven right...science subsequently confirmed that the sun is not a fixed center of the universe as Galileo had asserted, and is itself traveling through space.

So Perry has a wonderful opportunity to refute the long-standing lie that the Church is anti-science by pointing out that the Church is why science developed in Europe (all the early scientists were Jesuits and other Catholic Clergy like Copernicus). But a better analogy to slay the climate change consensus would be to cite Father Georges Lemaitre.

Father Georges Lemaitre was a Catholic priest and physicist who discovered "The Big Bang". He expanded on Einstein's theories to do so...to the point where even Einstein couldn't get his brain wrapped around it. Since Lemaitre's theory was a little too close to the biblical story of creation...the secular consensus ridiculed and punished him for forty+ years....concocting the alternative "Steady State" theory of the universe (which is now considered laughably stupid).

While Hubble found the first evidence for Lemaitre's theories in the early 1920's...the consensus continued to dismiss Lemaitre. Einstein started coming around in the late '30's...but it wasn't until a few months before Lemaitre's death in 1966 that researchers at Bell Labs in NJ, using a radio telescope, found the conclusive background radiation that proved Lematire right. They won the Noble Prize. Lemaitre is being written out of the history books.

So if Perry wants to really start a media riot...he should get the entire nation doing Google searches on Father Lemaitre...the perfect analogy for when the secular consensus stifles real science as part of its anti-religion agenda.

sonicfrog said...

Fallows used to be a pretty astute critic of media and politics, and someone who seemed to pride himself on keeping a very level head (or at least mouth).

... He's been hanging around Andrew Sullivan too much.

Also note that Perry is someone who believes we can pray away our problems.

No... If that were the case, he wouldn't be running for President. I'm agnostic (with a little "a") but have no problem with people praying if they think it would help. Is their any harm in that?

If 90% of doctors said something causes cancer would you ignore them?

If their evidence were based on dubious tree ring studies that rely on "teleconnections" or on models that ignore various aspects of natural variation (non-smokers get lung cancer too) and that are weighed as more important than actual observational, where one of the lead scientists in that field is on record saying that scientists need to exaggerate the scientific certainty and outcomes of the cancer, something like "this cancer will become communicable, spread like wild fire through every human population and we're all going to die tomorrow if we don't do something NOW"..... Then YES, I would be prone to ignore it.

It's funny, do not doubt that the extra CO2 we've emitted into the atmosphere has almost certainly had an effect, perhaps even a large one just as they are saying, and I've even castigated a few commenters over at WUWT for using easily debunk-able Alex Jones stuff to prove global warming isn't real. I've been skeptical of other skeptical studies that are touted as proof global warming is not as extreme as is typically reported. But, because I'm critical of some of the stuff posted at Real Climate, of question the weight giving to the tree proxy studies by the climate science community, I am labeled a "denier".

Fred said...

Fallows has been a medioctity / moron for 40 years ... this is his sweet spot.

Jim S. said...

When it comes to religion and science, many people (on both sides) have put some of their personal ideologies on the line. They hear someone say "Galileo" and it's like a dog-whistle.

I'm no different, but my response is, I hope, more historically based. I hear people mention Galileo and I immediately want to make sure that people realize that geocentrism does not equate to anthropocentrism. It was the exact opposite: the center of the universe was perceived as the least prestigious, least honorable place -- which is why hell was at the center of the earth, and Satan at the center of hell, with the weight of the entire universe bearing down on him. (This is also why Arthur Lovejoy called the medieval Ptolemaic cosmology "diabolocentric".)

http://agentintellect.blogspot.com/2010/09/central-issue-or-location-isnt.html

JakeRoberts said...

Perry's point is that scientists can be really slow to become convinced of the truth if it contradicts what they considered "settled" facts. But, actually, climate change predictions based on atmospheric chemistry chugged along from the late 1800s to the 1950s with most scientists being decidedly unconvinced. (Google Svante Arrhenius and E.O. Hulburt, for some early investigators of the idea.) New instruments and techniques in the 1950s got more scientists to pay attention, and it took another 30 to 40 years and hundreds of studies in all kinds of related fields for just about all scientists to gradually come around to the idea. Even now, few scientists would use the words "settled science" to describe climate change research, or anything else. The ones I've spoken to are painfully, meticulously conservative about their conclusions. So, human-caused climate change is scientifically accepted, but getting there was slower than for topics such as plate tectonics or Galileo's ideas or evolution or atomic theory.

Greg F said...

Galileo was fighting against faith based groups [the church] with science. Today scientists are still fighting against faith based groups.

Faith is belief without evidence. The so called climate change "science" is based on a belief that increasing CO2 will cause an increase in water vapor (the major green house gas) which will amplify the warming of the CO2. IOW, a positive feedback. The problem is water vapor is the stuff clouds are made of and low clouds have a net cooling effect. The bottom line is nobody has been able to demonstrate with empirical evidence this so called positive feedback. So any person, including scientist, who assert the “science is settled” are making that assertion based on an unproven belief.

GVC said...

The so called Galileo affair was not about science or religion. Like the science discussions today, it was about politics. The Galileo manuscript/thesis appeared smack in the middle of the 30 Years War. Galileo's work was supported by the pope and was supposed to be published by the Vatican. But a plague prevented the sending of the manuscript to Rome and so Galileo turned to Ferdinando II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany to publish the treatise in Florence.

Ferdinando was involved in a plot to depose the pope who would not join with Ferdinando and the Hapsburgs in the war against the Protestants. The Protestants were backed by Catholic France and in reality was backing the Protestants to reduce Hapsburg power.

Hence when the manuscript appeared under Ferdinando's imprimatur, he supposedly cried he was betrayed. The pope had written a poem praising Galileo, supported and directed some of his writings and was his religious leader. So Galileo betrayed his friend, mentor and spiritual leader. Galileo's ideas were not validated for another 200 years as he could not solve the parallax or wind problem which were major objections to his theories. Galileo was the bad guy in this so called Inquisition. He was arrogant and thought he knew everything. Sound likes a lot of the bloggers today.

Jim O said...

What did RV say? Who is the "author" that removed his comment? The commenter, or someone associated with this blog? If the latter, what's the point of leaving all of the responsive comments in place?

Donald Sensing said...

Back in 2008 I posted, "Environmentalist religion explained."

Since I have a Master of Divinity I know a little bit about religion, and environmentalism definitely fits the bill.

boballab said...

For the "If 90% of doctors believed X causes cancer crowd" I got a question for you. Ever heard of Saccharin?

You see Saccharin was your AGW version of a cancer causing agent. The consensus of doctors believed it caused cancer due to tests in rats. So of course the FDA had those big warning labels slapped on everything. This caused people to stop buying some products and hurt sales of others. It also caused companies to spend billions searching for other sugar substitutes.

That was until 2000 when the government was forced to remove the warning labels when later studies done by other scientists (Saccharin deniers?) showed that the tests done on rats does not hold to Humans. The reason the rats got cancerous tumors? Because they were Rats and have a different body chemistry. Of course it took 10 years for the EPA to stop dragging its feet over this:

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has removed saccharin, a common artificial sweetener, and its salts from the agency’s list of hazardous substances. Saccharin is no longer considered a potential hazard to human health.
http://tiny.cc/bgqz3

Time to try a different analogy warmists to show that science works as a popularity contest.

Foobarista said...

One other element that is interesting is that the key to the predictions from climate science is computer simulations. In many ways, computer simulations are far more similar to how Aristotle analyzed the universe than the direct observational approach taken by Galileo: a complex "thought model" is created that is based on the knowledge of the day, a few inputs are fed into the "thought model", and predictions are produced.

The problem is few people understand that a computer simulation, particularly one with lots of poorly understood "weightings" to the analysis, is far more similar to an op-ed piece than anything resembling laboratory science. They're simply renderings into software of a bunch of opinions, some well-grounded, others likely quite debatable.

And the AGW sims fail the first test of a good sim: they can't predict the observed past. That is, when given inputs to, say, 1980, they can't predict the observed climate in 1981.

Martin said...

I can't remember reading from Fallows that is both original and valid for, oh, maybe 20 or 30 years.

Another clown who is important only becaus ethe "right" people say he is. You know, the same people who in 2008 told us that Obama is a genius.

Minicapt said...

Q. Did Thomas Watson say in the 1950s that he foresaw a market potential for only five electronic computers?
A. We believe the statement that you attribute to Thomas Watson is a misunderstanding of remarks made at IBM’s annual stockholders meeting on April 28, 1953. In referring specifically and only to the IBM 701 Electronic Data Processing Machine -- which had been introduced the year before as the company’s first production computer designed for scientific calculations -- Thomas Watson, Jr., told stockholders that “IBM had developed a paper plan for such a machine and took this paper plan across the country to some 20 concerns that we thought could use such a machine. I would like to tell you that the machine rents for between $12,000 and $18,000 a month, so it was not the type of thing that could be sold from place to place. But, as a result of our trip, on which we expected to get orders for five machines, we came home with orders for 18.”
Pg 26: http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/documents/pdf/faq.pdf

Cheers

The Moderator said...

Fallows is another sad case, like Andrew Sullivan, of someone who once had a mind, but sold it for the life of a "progressive" Washington hack.

It seems weird that Perry brought up Galileo. The right analogy for "global warming" is from the 20th century, unfortunately: the ideology-driven pseudoscience of the totalitarian era.

Everyone should remember Lysenko and his phony crop miracles with "inheritance of acquired characteristics", and the mumbo-jumbo of "race" and "racial science" under Hitler. Environmentalism is another mutation of the socialist disease, grabbing power through lies and intimidation, while cloaking itself in the superficially "scientific" rhetoric of "experts."