January 1, 2014

What does the penguin think?

"We’ve got several penguins watching us, thinking 'what the hell are you doing stuck in our ice?.' The sky is a beautiful grey – it looks like it wants to have a bit of a snow. It’s the perfect Christmas, really."

You don't know what the penguins think, and you don't know what the sky wants. What else don't you know, scientists?

The scientist, a marine ecologist, is quoted in a NYT piece titled "Rescue Efforts for Trapped Antarctic Voyage Disrupt Serious Science," linked this morning at Instapundit ("THE WORST THING ABOUT THAT SHIP STUCK IN THE ANTARCTIC ICE: 'This misadventure has energized climate change contrarians, offering a distraction from serious research on the impact of climate change on Antarctica.'").

Serious science.  Science isaccording to the (unlinkable) OED — "The state or fact of knowing; knowledge or cognizance of something specified or implied; also, with wider reference, knowledge (more or less extensive) as a personal attribute." What then is "serious science"? Serious means "requiring earnest thought; demanding or characterized by careful consideration or application; performed with earnestness of purpose."

Get serious, then, scientists. Tell us only what you really know. The penguins have no concept of hell, and you have no line on what would constitute perfection in a Christmas. And don't lie about climate change. And by "lie" I mean, don't say anything more than what truly is science, and if you can do that convincingly and assiduously for the next 10 years, I will begin to believe that there is something called "serious science" that deserves to be thought capable of de-energizing the contrarians who are now distracting us, even as you yourself are distracted by the thoughts of penguins.

42 comments:

rhhardin said...

Science is never serious. It's always curious.

Opposing views are welcomed.

The lab coat bit is a cartoon convention that the warmists took as real.

rhhardin said...

Wm. Kerrigan says somewhere

What do the experts claim to know?

They claim to know what our true concerns should be.

They're organizers of anxiety.

Other experts come on to tell us how to live with this anxiety.

Terry said...

Observe. Hypothesize. Experiment. repeat until theory is consistent with observed phenomena.
How much climate science follows this pattern?

What does it mean to say, as the latest IPPC report does, that a prediction is 60% to 100% certain to come true?

JPS said...

Well, Terry, there was this distinction by an obscure book called Science Made Stupid:

Deductive reasoning: Formulate hypothesis, apply for grant, gather data, alter hypothesis to fit data, publish.

Inductive reasoning: Formulate hypothesis, apply for grant, gather data, alter data to fit hypothesis, publish.

Me again: It's worth noting that certain adjustments to the temperature record have been followed by the discarding of the raw data. But only the conspiracy-minded should be concerned.

Humperdink said...

'This misadventure has energized climate change contrarians ..."

Contrarians? Hey, I have moved up on the pejorative scale. Used to be a denier. 2014 is going to be a good year.

robinintn said...

Have a nice Christmas while people with real jobs and real skills miss their Christmases risking their lives to save your worthless ass.

mesquito said...

Grant proposals.

"Courtship rituals of the Baffin Island iguana."

- denied.

"Effects of climate change on courtship rituals of the Baffin Island iguana."

- $1,500,000 plus tenure.

PB Reader said...

but if they only told what they knew, they wouldn't able to claim impending doom, raise billions upon billions of dollars and expand their own personal fiefdoms.

Gahrie said...

The only person who has earned the right to lecture us about our wasteful lifestyles is Ed Begley Jr. The rest of them need to start walking the walk instead of just talking the talk.

chrisnavin.com said...

After you separate the data and the science from the sentiment, the anthropic ignorance, the communtarianism, the myth and belief, the money, the political ideology and politics etc.

You have barely enough to keep anyone interested.

westwing said...

During the last ice age Canada and much of the United States was covered by glacial ice thousands of feet thick. Evidence of this abounds in Wisconsin. The climate warmed and the ice melted for thousands of years until 12,000 years ago it was gone. What made the glaciers melt? Too many gas guzzling SUVs? What caused that ice age or the others before it in earth's history?

Can we agree that the ice ages were both caused and ended by major climate change unrelated to human activity? Too many "scientists" have turned their belief in man-made global warming into a religion.

Quayle said...

Remember, "serious science" is ,science that is only attempting at all costs, to prove and reprove the current majority-accepted paradigm.

All other science is "unserious."

Einstein's relativity was unserious until the Michelson–Morley experiment showed the then-accepted Newtonian paradigm to be wrong.

Then suddenly Einstein became serious.

Life as a scientist is easy when, by the rules of the game, you are allowed to (a) rewrite history at every new discovery, in order to "show" (b) that your current thinking was the inevitable result of the progressive (in the nonpolitical sense) - the progressive march of all previous steps.

Which is utter nonsense.

The scientific process that "led" scientists to their current beliefs (what they call, certainties) is the same "serious" scientific process that led them to all the now-discarded "unserious" scientific theories they disavow.

And they get all upset when we don't all take them seriously now.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

A hypothesis can be considered scientific only if it has the potential to be falsified.

Science then consists of carefully prepared attempts to falsify it. The more it cannot be falsified, in the more confidence one can have that it is close to truth. E.g. Darwin's theory of evolution has withstood all challenges so far. Einstein falsified a portion of Newton's 'laws'.

Global warming can be falsified by the slow and steady accumulation of temperature data that shows the warming.

The opposite has been happening for quite some time now.

Hagar said...

"Everybody" immediately agreed that Einstein's Theory of Relativity just had to be right. It was just a natural. It was his other paper, about bouncing light off cast-iron stoves, that kept him from getting a Nobel until experiments in 1920-21, I think, proved that this lunatic theory was also right after all.

Illuninati said...

All the scientists whom I have read agree that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. The problem is that CO2 is so opaque to infrared light that the atmosphere is already saturated. Adding more CO2 does increase the greenhouse effect in a logarithmic manner but in an ever diminishing amount.

The models "scientists" use are based on unproven assumptions about the effect of more moisture and clouds on the atmosphere. The politically motivated scientists factor in a strongly positive feedback from water vapor whereas much of the experimental data seems to indicate either no feedback at all or a substantial negative feedback.

People who claim that the science is settled are either ignorant or else they are deliberately lying. Science depends on scrupulous honesty by scientists. Once people in science begin to lie science is no more reliable than alchemy.

betamax3000 said...

It is Not What the Penguin Thinks That Concerns Me: It Is the Riddler.

Burgess Meredith; Frank Gorshin .

Pettifogger said...

Maybe I was naive ever to think that scientists are (almost) universally dispassionate and objective. I certainly no longer think that. I started to say that I regret that scientists are no longer what I once believed them to be. But upon reflection, perhaps I should be grateful to the global-warming lobby for revealing that scientists too sometimes have a political agenda.

Mikio said...

Liberals trust climatologists on climatology. Conservatives trust Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin on climatology.

Birkel said...

Mikio:

You will please point me to the science where "trust" is more important than testable, falsifiable thoeries based on observable, repeatable experimentation.

Terry said...

Liberals trust climatologists on public policy. Conservatives trust Limbaugh, Palin and Beck on public policy.

Rusty said...

Mikio said...
Liberals trust climatologists on climatology. Conservatives trust Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin on climatology.


liberals trust Al Gore.
Conservatives trust meteorologists. You know, the people who actually study weather.

Illuninati said...

Mikio said...
"Liberals trust climatologists on climatology. Conservatives trust Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin on climatology."

Lefties always think they are on the side of reason and science. Unfortunately when one scratches beneath the surface one finds that they are just as ideologically driven as anyone else. The difference is that lefties don't acknowledge their own irrationality. My observation is that lefties are so caught up in the mimetic process that they actually think they are on the side of truth.



Michael McNeil said...

While we're talking “serious science,” it's important to notice that that OED definition is completely for the birds. While the word science in antiquity started off as meaning knowledge, “science” since it's been applied to what was once called “natural philosophy” in the context of the scientific revolution begun by Galileo, has meant much more than just a collection of (somehow acquired) know-how.

I haven't quoted Jacob Bronowski on this blog for a while, but given the foregoing misconception clearly it's been far too long. As the scientist and humanist put it in his slim little book ‘The Common Sense of Science’:

“For science is not the blank record of facts, but the search for order within the facts. And the truth of science is not truth to fact, which can never be more than approximate, but the truth of the laws which we see within the facts. …

“We cannot define truth in science until we move from fact to law. And within the body of laws in turn, what impresses us as truth is the orderly coherence of the pieces. They fit together like the characters in a great novel, or like the words in a poem. …

“It is the internal unity and coherence of science which gives it truth, and which makes it a better system of prediction than any less orderly language.”

Fen said...

"Liberals trust climatologists on climatology -"

Yah, and they also trusted Obama when he said they could keep their health insurance.

Liberals are dumb. They'll swallow whatever the snake oil salesman is pouring.

elkh1 said...

The cold snap unsettled the settled science and discredited warm-mongers' credibility.

Jupiter said...

Althouse, will you lay off with the "unlinkable" OED? Would it were unthinkable.

You seem to have the idea that because it is the largest dictionary in the world, it is the finest. This is simply untrue. The definition you quote is a fine example. While that is one meaning of science, it is an archaic one, and is certainly not what Warmists mean when they gabble about "settled science". They are referring to the hypothesis-experiment thingie. Which is rich, as they are frozen into the middle of the experiment, denying the obvious conclusion. Their science is not merely settled, it is immobilized.

Michael K said...

I was so looking forward to the discovery in the Michael Mann lawsuit. Even the goofy judge that allowed his lawyer to amend the suit after filing to remove one inconvenient "fact" was helping to expose him.

I am content that the climate was warming after the end of the "Little Ice Age" but now I worry a little about another Little Ice Age coming. These oscillations are probably natural but can be hell on human living conditions.

I love this sentence in the story.

"“It reminds you that as humans, we don’t control everything and that the natural world – it’s the winner here. "

Does that ever occur to "climatologists" who think human activity can alter that natural world ?

jelink said...

I can't tell you how many times I've asked non-STEM warmageddonistas to rank by percentage the gaseous components of air .

A great majority begin with....oxygen.

They also wildly over-estimate the amount of CO2 in the air, and seem stunned to learn that it makes up only about 0.04 percent.

Yet the same people are cocksure they know the facts and understand the theory about the cause of "climate change".

God help us.

EDH said...

I love how the NYT writer throws "the journalists, tourists, crew and scientists on an unessential 'expedition' aboard a chartered Russian ship" under the bus.

Self-funded fools who are hurting the "climate change" brand for those whose science is fed at the NSF government trough.

I feel like one of those penguins, dumbfounded, watching a credibility "rescue effort" by the NYT.

Sam L. said...

And then there's this:
http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/1950-melting-of-polar-ice-indicates-radical-change-in-climatic-conditions/

Gahrie said...


Liberals are dumb. They'll swallow whatever the snake oil salesman is pouring.


Most of them aren't really dumb...just ignorant and greedy.

Rusty said...


Does that ever occur to "climatologists" who think human activity can alter that natural world ?

The sun is in the process of flipping it's poles. Which may explain the erratic solar activity.

Hagar said...

A lot is known from various scientific disciplines about climate changes over the earth's history, but they are just facts; little is known about the why's and wherefore's.

The trouble with this particular lot of "climate scientists" is that they are not into "science" at all, but are just playing with this marvelous new toy - computer models - which is technology, not science, and they are not making use of all the facts that are known in making their models.
And I don't think they are that good at making models either.
Plus the dishonesty in manipulating the facts they did use.

Sorun said...

I suppose a climate change contrarian is someone who's skeptical that the climate changes.

SteveR said...

Science would say, the evidence points to a theory and the theory should be tested with more evidence, study and review. This process was infused with political and unrelated agendas in this case. At the very least, many of the so-called climate experts and tag along tree huggers (e.g. Bill Nye) aren't experts and haven't acted like experts. I've always been open to the science being worked out, but that means people like Al Gore have to be ignored. They are working from the answer backwards. Not science

Christy said...

Please don't conflate climate scientists with any other type of scientist. They ain't. They started as B.S. holders who styled themselves as scientists and fought the man. Billions of federally funded dollars since have paid for PhDs and studies showing more studies must be performed. I dealt with these people most of my life and can tell you they are not truthtellers. They do not understand the need for controlled conditions. They do not believe they need careful documentation. They are clueless about statistics. And in their arrogance they are unaware of how limited their tools are.
/rant

Ann Althouse said...

"Althouse, will you lay off with the "unlinkable" OED? Would it were unthinkable. You seem to have the idea that because it is the largest dictionary in the world, it is the finest."

I like it because of the historical quotes, not that I went on to use any of them in this post, but I usually do. There's lots of bloggable material jumping off those usages. From the "science" entry:

1667 Milton Paradise Lost ix. 680 O Sacred, Wise, and Wisdom-giving Plant, Mother of Science…
1728 E. Chambers Cycl. (at cited word), Divines suppose three Kinds of Science in God: The first, Science of mere Knowledge... The second, a Science of Vision... The third an intermediate Science.
1753 Johnson Adventurer No. 107. ⁋18 Life is not the object of Science: we see a little, very little; and what is beyond we can only conjecture.
1882 J. R. Seeley Nat. Relig. 260 Though we have not science of it [supernaturalism] yet we have probabilities or powerful presentiments.

Any of that could touch off interesting riffs, so I like to tap into that kind of potential.

Meanwhile, what is the substance of your counsel?

You don't like the part of the definition I quoted, but there were 5 definitions, so your objection that what I chose is archaic (I prefer to think of it as the most literal meaning), there are others. Without seeing them, you don't have a basis for saying the dictionary isn't getting the definitions down well enough. You need to understand that this dictionary has depth of information about the history of a word and the definitions are mostly in chronological order.

Other definitions include: "Knowledge acquired by study; acquaintance with or mastery of any department of learning." And: "A particular branch of knowledge or study; a recognized department of learning." And: "The kind of knowledge or of intellectual activity of which the various ‘sciences’ are examples."

This reminds me: There's a longstanding debate in law about whether law is science.

Now, the meaning you refer to is more closely associated with the term "scientific method," which has an OED entry: " a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses." Here are the historical quotes:

1854 T. H. Huxley Educ. Value of Nat. Hist. Sci. 13 The man of business must as much avail himself of the scientific method..as the veriest bookworm.
1871 J. A. Froude Short Stud. 2nd Ser. 485 Neither history, nor any other knowledge, could be obtained except by scientific methods.
1889 ‘L. Carroll’ Sylvie & Bruno xviii. 255 That, I believe, is the true Scientific Method.
1908 W. McDougall Introd. Social Psychol. i. 4 When..the modern principles of scientific method began to be generally accepted.
1927 J. S. Huxley Relig. without Revelation iii. 83 There was a great outcry when scientific method was applied, in the form of the so-called ‘Higher Criticism’.
1955 Bull. Atomic Scientists Oct. 295/1 Scientists possess a technique which they call the scientific method of thought, and they are impelled by circumstances to use it with the force of a new inspiration.
1959 L. W. H. Hull Hist. & Philos. Sci. vii. 194 The subtle blend of observation, hypothesis, mathematics and planned experiment in the Scientific Method is a more effective procedure than that of Bacon.

SteveR said...

Thanks Christy. Yeah the money deal is always the root of things that don't make sense.

Amexpat said...

It don't take a climatologist to know which way the ice flows.

glenn said...

Snicker Snicker.

Jupiter said...

"Without seeing them, you don't have a basis for saying the dictionary isn't getting the definitions down well enough."

Actually, I once bought a copy of the OED, which came with a magnifying glass, because the print was literally microscopic. Even with that assistance, I couldn't see the definitions, because, as I recall, they were buried in rambling fields of semi-apposite quotation. If your point is that the OED is picturesque, I would have to agree, but it is not definitive. In fact, it is not even sound.

Jane said...

I tutor in a local Trivium-based homeschooling co-op which also has thousands of students nationwide.

I am reminded of one of our 72 science drills:

Question: "What is good science?"

Student: "Good science is the constant search for accurate information."

When I told my science-loving 12-year-old daughter that the warmist mantra is "the science is settled," she burst out laughing.