[Vision2020] "...no possible way that you could... make these...judgments -- unless you have a PhD in climatology!"

Paul Rumelhart godshatter at yahoo.com
Sun Jan 9 11:09:53 PST 2011

Not trying to jump into your argument, I just want to clarify something.

Ted Moffett wrote:
> It was a relief to discover someone of your academic capabilities
> respond critically to Paul R.'s broad attacks on climate scientists.
> In my mind, it was as though you were an ally of sorts, defending the
> probable truth against the powerful disinformation.campaign on climate
> science that is hoodwinking the public.

I am not now, nor have I ever been part of a disinformation campaign on 
any subject, powerful or otherwise.  I won't claim they don't exist out 
there, but my concerns are my own - I don't identify with any other 
person or group of persons on the subject of climate change.  What I 
post I believe to be true.

> Thanks, Paul!

Hey, happy to help.


> ------------------------------------------
> Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett
> On 1/8/11, Joe Campbell <philosopher.joe at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I didn't say anything that disputes the comment in the first paragraph
>> below. I didn't read much after that.
>> I made a restricted claim -- no way one could make "these judgments"
>> -- which refers to the kinds of general, sweeping judgments of Paul's
>> recent posts on these topics. Of course you can make reasonable
>> judgments and partake in a debate on this or any other topic without a
>> PhD.
>> Can you conclude that a whole area of study is flawed without doing
>> extensive research in that area on a regular basis -- reading actual
>> scientific journals instead of blogs, etc.? No. As I pointed out,
>> showing a study is or even 100 studies are flawed could not possibly
>> undermine a discipline. Nothing follows from the fact that a
>> conclusion, or set of conclusions, is faulty. What matters is if there
>> are any good arguments for a claim, so the kind of points that Paul
>> makes on a regular basis are besides the point. You would need to do
>> some extensive reading of ALL or MOST of the relevant studies to come
>> close to making a reasonable judgment OF THIS SORT -- e.g., one that
>> dismissed the prevailing views of a particular discipline.
>> Would one read actual scientific journals on a regular basis and thus
>> have enough actual knowledge to support the kinds of judgments that
>> Paul made unless he had a PhD? It is HIGHLY UNLIKELY. Not impossible
>> but given that it takes me nearly all of my time to keep up with my
>> own research I'm going to make a guess that someone who has another
>> job besides teaching at a university does not have the time required
>> That was my point. It is enough that I have to live in a world where
>> conservatives try to paint academics as elitists. Just please comment
>> on what I SAY, not what you think I meant.
>> On Sat, Jan 8, 2011 at 1:23 PM, Ted Moffett <starbliss at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> The question of whether or not someone who has a broad based education
>>> (what at least a bachelor's degree should provide, but often does not,
>>> from my observations of many college graduates) but does not possess
>>> PhD. specialist expertise in a given subject (climate science, in this
>>> thread), can arrive at probable truthful judgements regarding said
>>> subject, is critical for the foundations of how Democracy functions.
>>> If making valid probable evaluations of the truth of a given complex
>>> difficult subject, whether it be foreign policy, economics and taxes,
>>> human rights, scientific issues, etc. is not possible for
>>> non-specialists without a PhD., then the public very often could not
>>> make informed educated votes to determine the best course for society.
>>>  We perhaps should adopt Plato's model, where society is run by
>>> committes of PhD. experts (I hope I am not too greatly distorting
>>> Plato's thoughts).  And if not, if we are to defend the assumptions of
>>> Democracy, then a broad based education offered broadly to the public
>>> is mandated for the very health and foundation of Democracy, so that
>>> the public can make valid informed evaluations of complex issues when
>>> they vote.
>>> I do not have PhD level knowledge on any subject.  But I believe that
>>> with the broad based education I possess, equivalent to what a
>>> bachelors college degree should provide, I can make valid evaluations
>>> of the probable truth or falsehood of a given proposition on many
>>> complicated difficult subjects, climate science included.  This does
>>> not mean that I can comprehend the complexities of all the peer
>>> reviewed science publishing on this issue, of course.  But I can often
>>> understand the conclusions of scientific research presented in the
>>> abstracts of the literature in question, and how they either confirm
>>> or deny a given proposition on climate science.  Surveying the
>>> literature will reveal either widespread disagreement, or varying
>>> degrees of consensus on a given scientific question (Read here:
>>> "Expert Credibility in Climate Change"
>>> http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/08/expert-credibility-in-climate-change-responses-to-comments/
>>> )
>>> Consider that PhDs in climate science related fields also often cannot
>>> comprehend all of the peer reviewed published science relating to
>>> climate studies; they are too specialized in their own field.  Even
>>> the most brilliant PhD. scientist would find it difficult to be a
>>> specialized expert in every field of climate study.
>>> Climate science is very interdisciplinary, covering biology
>>> (ecosystems species response and CO2 plant uptake), physics (solar
>>> variations and CO2 radiative forcing), astronomy and astrophysics
>>> (even galactic cosmic rays have been posited as a significant
>>> influence on Earth's climate: Read here:
>>> http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/recent-warming-but-no-trend-in-galactic-cosmic-rays/
>>> , along with the claim that the climate of other planets in our solar
>>> system are changing in a manner that relates to how Earth's climate is
>>> now changing), chemistry (CO2 atmospheric lifespan and uptake by
>>> oceans causing acidification), paleoclimate/geology (PETM figures
>>> prominently in Earth's paleoclimate, as this incredible Nov. 2010
>>> statement from the Geological Society of London indicates:
>>> http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/climatechange ), mathematics, statistics and
>>> computer modeling, etc. with specialists in each of those subjects
>>> often covering a narrow field of study within each discipline.
>>> The findings of the thousands of professional scientists from many
>>> nations and independent scientific organizations, involved in this
>>> very interdisicplinary scientific enterprise to study climate, as
>>> these findings confirm or dispute the claim that human impacts are
>>> significantly altering Earth's climate, are a reason the consensus
>>> that indeed human impacts are significantly altering Earth's climate,
>>> is robust.
>>> Species are shifting ranges, the cryosphere is changing dramatically,
>>> the world's oceans are warming and sea level rising, atmospheric
>>> temperature is changing at different levels ("Increasing greenhouse
>>> gases should result in a warmer troposphere and a cooler
>>> stratosphere:"  Quote from the excellent summation of the climate
>>> science confirming human impacts on climate at this website from
>>> Professor Scott Mandia: "Global Warming: Man or Myth?
>>> http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/greenhouse_gases.html
>>> ); and the natural variables that might be causing these changes have
>>> been monitored and studied to a degree that rules them out as a
>>> primary cause.
>>> It requires positing unknown natural variables or climate system
>>> physics principles that are significantly altering or functioning in
>>> the Earth's climate system, to explain the current climate changes as
>>> mostly natural or that human climate forcings (continued CO2
>>> emissions) will not continue to increasingly warm Earth's climate.
>>> And the approach of arguing for unknown natural variables does not
>>> refute the science indicating human impacts on climate are major.  If
>>> there are also natural variables significantly forcing a warmer
>>> climate, this is reason for even more focus on lowering human impacts
>>> that are contributing to a warmer climate, given we could be forcing
>>> even more rather rapid and deleterious climate change.  But in fact,
>>> there is scientific evidence suggesting Earth's climate has been
>>> entering a cooling phase due to natural variables, at least in part
>>> the Milankovitch Cycles (From "Science" journal: "Recent Warming
>>> Reverses Long-Term Arctic Cooling"
>>> http://www.sciencemag.org/content/325/5945/1236.abstract ), which is
>>> being overcome by anthropogenic climate warming.
>>> The consensus might be wrong, of course.  There may be fundamental
>>> scientific errors being unwittingly made by thousands of scientists,
>>> or a widespread fraud or hoax being coordinated.  But these
>>> extraordinary claims should be supported by extraordinary evidence.  I
>>> have not read any credible evidence that holds up to skeptical
>>> analysis that verifies that climate scientists are making widespread
>>> fundamental scientific errors, nor that indicates there is an
>>> international conspiracy across numerous independent scientific
>>> organizations to engage in a fraud or hoax.
>>> I think it would be possible for someone without a PhD in climate
>>> science to uncover evidence of widespread fundamental scientific
>>> errors or a widespread fraud or a hoax in climate science.  I don't
>>> have a PhD in political science or foreign policy, but I believe I
>>> have uncovered significant evidence that in the build up to the
>>> invasion of Iraq, the W. Bush administration played loose with the
>>> truth about Iraq WMD and Iraq's connection to 9/11, to induce a public
>>> war frenzy to support the invasion.  But again, I have not read any
>>> convincing evidence climate scientists around the world are engaged in
>>> a propaganda campaign to deceive the public.
>>> ------------------------------------------
>>> Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett
>>> On 1/7/11, Joe Campbell <philosopher.joe at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> What exactly are you commenting on? Do you read scientific journals?
>>>> Can you, would you be able to understand that information? Or are you
>>>> basing these judgments on reports from critics? I'll tell you that
>>>> there is just no possible way that you could have enough information
>>>> to make these kinds of judgments -- unless you have a PhD in
>>>> climatology! My guess is you read criticisms of scientific studies
>>>> (from biased sources) without reading the studies themselves. That's
>>>> what it sounds like.
>>>> Admittedly this is an area that I don't know Jack about but I'm going
>>>> to trust the actual climatologists I've talked to more than I'll trust
>>>> you! It isn't as if you or anyone else is bias-free on this issue, so
>>>> that complaint is a wash. Ultimately it is an empirical issue. And
>>>> like it or not you are not qualified to speak to this issue. Sorry!
>>>> Get a PhD and we'll talk.
>>>> On Thu, Jan 6, 2011 at 8:09 PM, Paul Rumelhart <godshatter at yahoo.com>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>> Well, I don't know what to tell you.  I've looked into evolution and
>>>>> what's behind it, and it made sense.  I came away from it even more
>>>>> convinced that the very underpinnings of evolution were sound.  In fact,
>>>>> I used some of the basics of natural selection and evolutionary theory
>>>>> to design a program that watches the stock market looking for stocks to
>>>>> invest in, using genetic algorithms.  I've looked at some of the actual
>>>>> facts, and came to the same conclusions.
>>>>> Climate science sets off my bullshit detectors, though.  Too much
>>>>> political pressure, too much reliance on the idea of conformity amidst
>>>>> the community, almost no examination of other hypotheses.  They're
>>>>> assuming their hypothesis is true, and are trying to prove it.  They
>>>>> should be assuming their hypothesis is false and should be trying to
>>>>> find holes in it.  Throw some obvious crap in the mix like trying to
>>>>> wipe out the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period in order to
>>>>> pretend that temperatures were stable until mankind fucked it up, and my
>>>>> bullshit detector explodes.
>>>>> The earth is warming, but it was warming even before SUVs hit the
>>>>> market.  Climate has been changing forever.  I see no reason to believe
>>>>> that mankind is behind enough of it that taking massive sweeping
>>>>> measures at this time is warranted.  Come up with some validated
>>>>> predictions, and maybe I'll give the models a closer look.  Take, say,
>>>>> 20 years to show me how close everything that is happening fits their
>>>>> models and maybe I'll stop thinking of them as a bunch of politically
>>>>> connected buffoons suffering from confirmation bias.
>>>>> Paul
>>>>> Andreas Schou wrote:
>>>>>> That's a little harsh. Sorry. Shouldn't send email at midnight.
>>>>>> It's just bizarre to see someone who's normally so well-informed, and
>>>>>> a huge advocate of science, attacking literally an entire field of
>>>>>> science. Climatology's consensus around global warming is as uniform
>>>>>> and well-supported as biology's consensus around evolution. What's
>>>>>> left over is a motley collection of crank physicists, conservative
>>>>>> economists, conspiracy bloggers, geologists, and TV weathermen,
>>>>>> well-funded by the petroleum industry. They've produced an argument
>>>>>> that's superficially convincing to the myopic and managed to (since
>>>>>> the 1990s) disinform a plurality of Americans, who -- back in the
>>>>>> 1990s -- used to believe in global warming.
>>>>>> I've tried to stay quiet, but the whole thing just makes me nauseous.
>>>>>> --  ACS

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