JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper


Advertising

micropace


GoldNerds

The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



Climate money: Auditing is left to unpaid volunteers

Billions for “the climate” but nothing left for audits?

It’s the most “important crisis” on Earth today, and we must rely on the science, yet it’s not quite important enough for anyone to independently double check those results. And just in case you think that the peer review process does that double checking, think again. Most papers are reviewed by only two or three colleagues who may be hoping to prove the same “theory” as the authors (so not especially keen to find holes in it), and who are unpaid and anonymous. (The saying “you get what you pay for” comes to mind. We pay to find a crisis, and we don’t pay to check the results.)

The best examples of unpaid auditing are the work of independent scientists Steve McIntyre, and Anthony Watts. The irony is that skilled workers are providing a pro bono service, normally a service to help those who can’t afford it, but in this case, to assist the largest single financial entity on the planet.

Steve McIntyre and the misleading “Hockey Stick” graph

Steve McIntyre was trained in mathematics and worked in mineral exploration for 30 years (and despite claims to the contrary has never worked for the oil industry). Below is the Hockey Stick Graph from the 2001 IPCC Assessment Report.

McIntyre became suspicious of the Hockey Stick Graph because it was described in terms that reminded him of the Bre-X fraud. He is retired, and worked at considerable personal expense and without funding.

The infamous Hockey Stick Graph (Michael Mann et al 1998)

After dogged persistence to obtain the original data, McIntyre found embarrassing, crippling flaws in the Hockey Stick graph, a graph that wiped out centuries of recorded anecdotal history, archaeological finds, and data from almost every other source except unreliable “tree rings”. (Tree rings not only grow wider in warm years, but also grow wider in wet years, as well as being affected by soil nutrients, and by the level of CO2 in the air.) McIntyre found that the graph Michael Mann had produced, which was used repeatedly through the IPCC 2001 report, was so poorly constructed statistically that it was possible to feed in random “red noise” data and it still produced a hockey stick shape. A true peer review ought to have picked this up. Instead the graph occupied center stage for three or four years until a determined skeptical individual demanded the data (which was misplaced, then inaccurate, then inconsistent) and checked the statistics.

McIntyre and Ross McKitrick went on to publish peer-reviewed papers. 5, 6, 7 Wegman, and other independent statistical experts supported McIntyre and McKitrick.8 Craig Loehl assessed the same time period using proxies other than tree rings, and the reality of the Medieval Warming Period (800 – 1100 AD) and the Little Ice Age (1400 – 1800) stands out. 9

Combining 18 series of non-tree ring data from the last 2000 years clearly shows the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age, demonstrating just how blatantly misleading the “Hockey Stick” graph is.

Despite the agreement between many different data sets, and the resounding defeat of the statistics in the graph the debate about the Hockey Stick Graph goes on, with the most dubious tactics employed to revive the fraudulently inept graph.

Watts Up with That? Hundreds of volunteers do government work for free

Likewise Anthony Watts, a former television meteorologist, has amassed a group of 650 volunteers to photograph and record more than 800 temperature sensors used in the United States Historical Climatological Network (USHCN) —something NOAA itself ought to do. Despite receiving around $4 billion per annum in funding, NOAA doesn’t do large scale site checks to make sure its sensors meet required standards.

Figure 1: The majority of NOAA temperature sensors are sited near air conditioning outlets, car parks, buildings, and other artificial sources of heat.

These are not minor errors of placement that Anthony’s team of volunteers has photographed. Recording stations are placed next to outlets of air-conditioning units (see Fig 1), above asphalt in car-parks, on scorching hot concrete roof-tops, and near heated buildings. They found that 89% of all stations checked so far fail to meet the National Weather Service’s own siting requirements. 13

Again, the flaws are systematic. As sensors have been upgraded to electronically report the data, they have been installed by people equipped with only pickaxes and shovels. Where old sensors were once placed in the open over grass on the far side of a car-park, the new meters are electronic and need to be connected by cable to the building. Not surprisingly they have often ended up in less than ideal places much closer to buildings. Realistically, who would dig across an asphalt car-park by hand with a shovel to make a “trench” for the cable?

The team at NOAA prefers to use “mathematical adjustments” to compensate for the “urban heat island effect” and poor placement. If they were really interested in getting the data right, wouldn’t they just rule out all the stations that aren’t sited correctly until such time that they are fixed? Wouldn’t they pay to hire excavators to dig trenches?

Read the Full Report at the Science and Public Policy Institute.


References

  1. Climate Audit, Hockey Stick Studies page, http://www.climateaudit.org/?page_id=354.
  2. Steve McIntyre, Short Bio. http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/stevebio.doc.
  3. Steve McIntyre, comment on Climate Audit. http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=592#comment-18195.
  4. Casper and The Jesus Paper, Bishop Hill, http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2008/8/11/caspar-and-the-jesus-paper.html.
  5. Corrections To The Mann Et. Al. (1998) Proxy Data Base And Northern Hemispheric Average Temperature Series, Energy and Environment, Vol 14, No 6, 2003. http://www.climateaudit.org/pdf/mcintyre.mckitrick.2003.pdf.
  6. McIntyre McKitrick, Critique of MBH98. http://www.climateaudit.org/pdf/mcintyre.ee.2005.pdf.
  7. Hockey Sticks, principal components, and spurious significance. Geophys Res Letters, Vol 32, 2005 http://www.climateaudit.org/pdf/mcintyre.grl.2005.pdf.
  8. The Wegman Report. http://www.climateaudit.org/pdf/others/07142006_Wegman_Report.pdf.
  9. Craig Loehl, A 2000 year reconstruction based on non-treering proxies, Energy & Environment Vol 18 No 7+8, 2007 http://www.ncasi.org/publications/Detail.aspx?id=3025.
  10. About, Watts Up With That: http://wattsupwiththat.com/about/.
  11. Surface Stations Project, http://www.surfacestations.org/.
  12. FY Budget Highlights, NOAA. http://www.corporateservices.noaa.gov/nbo/FY09_Rollout_Materials/NOAA_One_Pager_FINAL.pdf.
  13. Is the US Surface Temperature Record Reliable? Anthony Watts. http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/surfacestationsreport_spring09.pdf.

Notes for commenters:

These men are hero’s and deserve our support, and there are many others too. This is a chance to recognize all the skeptics who work unpaid, or risk their paid career, or work above and beyond their duty to help. Who stands up against the bullying; who fights to get raw data; who double checks the results and who writes letters to politicians?


Climate Money: PARTS 1- 4.

1. Climate Money Massive Funding Exposed.

2. How auditing of the Climate Industry is mostly left to volunteers. (You are on this page).

3. How the monopolistic funding ratchet slows scientific progress.

4. Why blaming Exxon is a smoke screen to disguise the real vested interests.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (5 votes cast)
Climate money: Auditing is left to unpaid volunteers, 10.0 out of 10 based on 5 ratings

Tiny Url for this post: http://tinyurl.com/29ec9c5

44 comments to Climate money: Auditing is left to unpaid volunteers

  • #
    Brian G Valentine

    Hockey Stick:

    Mann assumed that the rate of change of temperature at any given time, was proportional to the temperature. Let T(t) be the temperature as a function of the time.

    So we have

    dT/dt = kT

    subject to

    T(t=0) = To

    for some intial temperature To.

    The solution is

    T(t) = To exp[kt]

    that is, exponential temperature growth in time no matter what the initial data are.

    That can’t be, you say???

    Prove me wrong, global warmers!!!!


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Tel

    If only more people would switch off their air conditioners, they could solve the global warming problem, almost instantly!


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Brian G Valentine

    By the way Jo Anne, if the Government money was spent by the Defence Department for weapons etc and this money went unaudited, the Citizens Watch groups would be screaming so loudly it would probably bring down the Government.

    But for these groups – you just can’t spend enough on “The Climate.”

    But if you fund the Defence ministry $100Mn for an aeroplane, and it winds up costing $1Bn because of cost over runs, at least you have an aeroplane.

    But if you spend the money on The Climate you get -

    nothing.

    The payout is zero.

    But we need to keep spending and spending on The Climate, just to make sure The Climate is OK.

    I’m surprised more “war slogans” haven’t sprung up to get people even more enthusiastic about spending money on The Climate

    FIGHT Climate Change!

    We can WIN the war on Global Warming!

    We had to sacrifice in two World Wars – now THIS enemy demands even MORE SACRIFICE for us to WIN!!!

    but I feel like I’m fighting a one man war on Global Warmers, and I’m not making a lot of headway


    Report this

    00

  • #
  • #
    allen mcmahon

    Brian V
    Just a few comments on your call to war post. Don’t stress Rabid Warmers are a lost cause but also a source of great amusement. Go to Real Climate and read the review of Unctious Al’s AIT if that does not have you rolling in the isles you have no sense of humor. Better still go to “Team Hockey Stick”. Whenever I do something really stupid (which is quite often) I find that a quick trip to Real Climate is great for an ego fix.
    Most people who support AGW theory are not our enemies, they are no different to us except they have just bought into the misinformation spread by the mass media. These are the people we need to work on and raving and ranting wont win them over.
    Whilst I am normally a lazy sod AGW has got me active and I find that reasoned discussion, often (well very often)over copious amounts of alcohol, have changed the perception of a few people. I email on good news stories and non science summaries and just keep nibbling away.
    I carnt’ comment on the US but events are encouraging here in Oz. Perceptions are changing, in the past the media was almost totally pro AGW but now our views are getting more and more airtime. Ian Plimer’s book Heaven and Earth, up to a fifth edition, has found a willing audience. The Fielding/Wong saga has been of great help. The responses, or lack thereof,by our government science advisers has been great for the cause. Their response was so abysmal I wonder if they are closet skeptics.

    AGW will wither and die the signs are already there. The Hadley Center says no observable temp increases until 2014 and Swanson (Swansong?) Tsonis are talking 2020. Why fight when the enemy is already leaving the battlefield.
    They make milk us for X billions for X years more but so what. If our governments were not spending the money on AGW they would probably be spending it on something more stupid or worse more dangerous. Who knows maybe AGW is keeping us out of Iran or North Korea.
    Your comments re the two world wars is not a good analogy. You guys were late to both events and screwed us poor brits over on war loans. Wasnt kicking our butts on home soil enough.
    Lets drink to a bright future( actually I will drink to anything) when AGW has disappeared and Unctious Al’s ill gotten gains are spent on an attempt to gain the US presidency and he loses at the final gasp in Florida due to the African American vote being counted this time.
    Anyway Brian keep up the posts you both inform and amuse.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Brian G Valentine

    I wish Global Warmers would just be honest about the whole thing –

    “For us [i.e., me and my like-minded friends] to WIN the War on Global Warming, YOU and your plebian ilk need to DIE. WE own this earth – and we don’t need the likes of YOU to make a mess out of it!”


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Rod Smith

    Joanne, as an “old timer,” I will offer this observation: Government NEVER keeps government in check — only citizens do that.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Brian G Valentine

    I don’t like Real Climate. I won’t visit their web site.

    The reason is, they won’t allow me to post my diatribes.

    If you think my anti-global warmist rhetoric is pretty harsh here – you ought to see what I have written THERE

    I bait them. I goad them. I do everything I can to engage them (the authors of the Real Climate material) and I cannot get them to take the bait so that I can demonstrate in public how far they have failed


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Denny

    Brian, they cannot say that you are correct in your statements. That would mean “they” are wrong and would lose the “billions” of dollars that are funneled into their pockets! Greed goes beyond “Truth” in Politics.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    allen mcmahon

    Brian
    As I said earlier expending your energy on AGWs true believers is a waste of time. It is obvious from your comments that they are really getting under your skin. Remember ridicule is harder to bear than harsh rhetoric. I am always polite to the folks at Real Climate offer my admiration for their unswerving ability to avoid legitimate questions. I really do enjoy their flights into science science fantasy and to be fair its really hard flogging a dead horse. The fact that they wont engage you speaks volumes you7 need to accept what you cannot change and channel your intellect and energy to win over the many warmers that can be influenced by reason rather than dogma.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Brian G Valentine

    Thank you, Allen, and Denny too, I think you have a lot more common sense about dealing with this than I do.

    I get so angry because of the harm these people can (and will) do to poor people, and the elderly, who have no clue what it is these people want to do to them to make themselves happy –

    and for no reason.

    Thinking about that makes me want to bash global warmists, and I do – but if they can’t see what my motive is then I am doing nothing more than making a pain (or imbiclie) of myself.

    Not the first time I have made an ass of myself being an idealist


    Report this

    00

  • #

    I agree with Allen @10. There is nothing that can change the mind of a true believer because his mind is not involved with his true belief. He has faith and that faith is his proof. Our efforts will be most reworded by working first on ourselves and then on those we have given evidence that they too have a mind and are willing to use it.

    It only takes about 10% of the population to make a revolution. The most consistent and persistent 10% will win. The left has spent several hundred years (since Kant) working to build their 10% and have been both consistent (with Kant) and persistent. We have been focused on science, technology, and business. We have been wildly successful. They have been focused on taking the results of our efforts and using them to their ends. They have been wildly successful.

    They could not have done what they have done without our first creating the values they steal and consume. Our challenged is to figure out how to stop feeding them and to allow them to starve to death. Which, incidentally, is their plan for us but only after they have totally consumed our lives.

    But…but… their plan won’t work you say? You must first discover what “works” means for them. Their abject failure (by our standards) in any program they pursue and the consequent demise of modern technological civilization IS their plan working. You say “its not reasonable.” Reason is not what they use to formulate their plans.

    They are not innocent in the matter and until we are convinced of that, they will continue to win. They will keep us focused on the irrelevant minutia and they will stay focused on their malignant goal. This must change and it is we who must do the changing.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Brian G Valentine

    What do the likes of Ted Turner and Al Gore have in common?

    They, and their families, reaped the rewards of cheap energy to build empires – only to sit on top of it and demand that none else should be allowed to build wealth in the manner they did.

    I can’t help but think, that if he was still alive, Albert Gore the Senior would consider his son an abject disgrace


    Report this

    10

  • #
    Lionell Griffith

    Step one: Know that we are not our bothers keeper.

    Step two: The good is NOT the undefined good for others and defined bad for ourselves.

    Step tree: There is no such thing as good intentions followed repeatedly by evil results. The intentions are also evil by result of demonstration.

    Step four: Discover what the good really is.

    Step four will be the most challenging step of all because the answer goes against 100,000 years of tribal indoctrination and every religion that ever existed.

    My answer to what the good really is, is my life, that I love it, and what it takes to sustain and enrich it.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Damien McCormick (Daemon)

    Article – “McIntyre became suspicious of the Hockey Stick Graph”

    Oh, which one? There are enough Hocky Sticks out there now for a whole team. Since the NAS affirmed the original and vindicated Mann back in 2006, at least a dozen new ones appear in the last IPCC meta-analysis of the worlds peer reviewed scientific press, and each rely on different data sets and are produced by different teams of scientists.

    Not My Valentine:
    T(t) = To exp[kt]
    that is, exponential temperature growth in time no matter what the initial data are.
    That can’t be, you say???
    Prove me wrong, global warmers!!!!

    Every high school student learns that a function can continue to increase forever and yet never reach or exceed some fixed maximum. Consider 100-1/t t=1->infinity. This function starts at 99 and increases toward 100 but never reaches or exceeds 100.

    Now consider…

    dx/dt = x**2 – 200x + 10000
    at t=1, x = 99

    Hmmm even though the feedback is always positive the value of x never exceeds 100, just like the above example.


    Report this

    00

  • #

    Damien @ 15: Prove me wrong

    No, you have to prove you are right. You make the positive assertion about AWG, its your responsibility to show it is consistent with all of reality and not a cherry picked minute fragment of it. All we have to do is to demonstrate only one point of contradiction to discredit your position. We have already gone way past that necessary one point. Your arbitrary and groundless yes-buts are irrelevant.


    Report this

    00

  • #

    It seems like removing data to try to get a more reliable picture isn’t always the best idea. All proxy data is fallible, so shouldn’t we use as many different sources as possible? Tree rings may be flawed, but so is everything else; so while we’re removing data, we may as well remove all the data and just pretend that temperature didn’t exist before 1880.

    I think that (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.png), while essentially the same data, paints a more reliable picture. The graph from the IPCC gives a false feeling of certainty.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Damien McCormick (Daemon)

    Lionell – you have to prove you are right.

    Science never provides proof of anything, it deals in probabilities only.


    Report this

    00

  • #

    Damien: Science never provides proof of anything, it deals in probabilities only.

    Are you sure of that?

    Tell me how to compute the probability that science never provides proof of anything in that it deals only in probabilities. Then tell me how to compute the probability that your method of computation is the correct one. After you have done that, tell me how to compute the probability of computing the probability of computing the probability of….

    You have a problem of infinite regression here. In fact, by saying there is only probability, you ultimately regresses to a probability of zero and know absolutely nothing about anything. Which, in your case, I am more than willing to accept.


    Report this

    00

  • #

    [...] – plus a nice graph of the warmer then now MWP – NCASI Health Monitor Info originally found here – Climate Money: Auditing is left to unpaid volunteers « JoNova __________________ ………… …just some thoughts from a nomadic plebeian Bio – [...]


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Ray Hibbard

    Damien McCormick (Daemon): post 18
    “Science never provides proof of anything, it deals in probabilities only.”

    You want to flesh that statement out a little bit buddy? It has been my experience that the hard sciences are the only things that have ever proven anything to me. If we are just playing games with semantics just say so, so I can quit wasting my time.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Ray Hibbard

    Damien McCormick (Daemon): post 15 “Oh, which one? There are enough Hocky Sticks out there now for a whole team. Since the NAS affirmed the original and vindicated Mann back in 2006, at least a dozen new ones appear in the last IPCC meta-analysis of the worlds peer reviewed scientific press, and each rely on different data sets and are produced by different teams of scientists.”

    Damien, can random noise be inputted to these other hockey stick algorithms/statistics and still get a hockey stick graph as was the case with Manns first graph? Just asking.
    It is hardly surprising that a dozen new hockey sticks are in the last IPCC analytics. I would only be surprised if this were not the case. I would be willing to bet that you will never see a non-hockey stick graph come from the IPCC ever.. ever…ever.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    G.S. Williams

    Brian V. you may not feel that you are getting anywhere, but, because you are one of many, you ARE making headway, even though it doesn’t seem so.
    I have been a Realist for about seven months and have noticed the increase of what were called “Sceptics” and are now recognised as “Realists”. So, don’t be dismayed, Truth will out, as the saying goes. (I’m a septagenarian, so have a different way with words from you).
    Keep up the good work.

    Richard Linzen, as people have stated, is one of our Realist heros, and is also a brilliant man. It’s fortunate that we have him on the side of the righteous, so to speak.

    Jo, keep up your good work and remember that there must be millions of people who appreciate what you are doing for the realist cause. Atta girl. Keep up the good work, and remember that you ARE appreciated

    Onward and Upward. Per ardua ad astra. etc.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Anne-Kit Littler

    Just back from lovely holiday in Borneo, where no one knows what AGW is and nobody cares … how refreshing!

    Comments 18 and 19 made me chuckle: It’s true post-modern science: “I’m absolutely certain there are no absolutes!”

    We live in absurd times.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Ray Hibbard

    Anne-Kit Littler: post 24

    “Comments 18 and 19 made me chuckle: It’s true post-modern science: “I’m absolutely certain there are no absolutes!””

    Ok maybe I’m being naïve, but they really don’t teach science like that in universities do they? I’v been away from the fields for 20 years so anything could have happened. Set me straight Anne-Kit.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Tel

    I’m absolutely certain that nothing in science can be proven. This is unrelated to probability and only a consequence of evidence-based reasoning. If new evidence comes to light, it can blow any theory out of the water. We may discover a source of free energy tomorrow that requires a rethink of all of thermodynamics.

    Until that new evidence is unearthed, we create theories that fit the evidence we have (and maintain self-consistency at all times). We deliberately go searching for new evidence in places where we suspect that our current theory might be weak, or places where our current theory predicts unintuitive outcomes.

    At any given time, there is a “best” theory that fits the evidence available at that time. We use the criteria of: elegance, accuracy, coverage, self-consistency. Admittedly, the judging of these criteria can be somewhat subjective.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Ray Hibbard

    Tel I agree with most of what you said in your post but in those cases where what we are investigating things which don’t stretch our ability to measure and our level of mathematics can’t some things be ‘proven’? I guess I am thinking things like the speed of light, Newton laws of motion, etc.

    I take your point however, as far as I know no one has ‘proven’ an atom has a nucleus with a cloud of electrons orbiting it. It is still just theory which fits the evidence we have so far.

    I guess what is confusing is if for instance the speed of light is not ‘proven’ then what is ‘proven’ and what does the word ‘proven’ mean then, why does the word even exist in the language?


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Tel

    … in those cases where what we are investigating things which don’t stretch our ability to measure and our level of mathematics can’t some things be ‘proven’?

    You can “prove” that the outcome of your particular experiment on that particular day was your measurement to within whatever tolerance you can measure. I’m talking about the “proof” of more general theories.

    Mathematical (and logical) theorems can be proven, because they exist in an abstract world of well defined axioms and boundaries. Science is based on the assumption that the world of physical observation is open-ended and unlimited. Based on the Hubble deep-field photographs we can directly observe that although the universe may not be infinite, is certainly is very large compared to our ability to take measurements.

    I think it is fair to say that we have strong evidence for some beliefs. Conservation of energy is almost an axiom in science, many people have tried to break it, in many different ways, and all of them have failed. Seems reasonable to predict that the next person who tries to break it will also fail. I don’t know of any methodology by which we could assign a probability to the outcome of future attempts.


    Report this

    00

  • #

    Tel,

    By your denial of the so called “proof” of more general theories, you are really saying that because we can’t make some, wild ass, off the wall generalization, taken totally out of context, pile of bullshit statement and not have it being overturned by the next falling flake of dust we can’t prove anything. Make a carefully crafted statement in context and it can be proven by any rational reality based meaning of “to prove”. It is simply a matter of making the strongest statements you can based upon the evidence and context you know and carefully not going beyond it. Knowledge is contextual and specific. There is no such thing as knowledge that is generalized without respect to context, reality, logic, demonstration, evidence, or process of knowing (ie so called absolute knowledge).

    For example, conservation of energy (The First Law of Thermodynamics) holds for a wide range of energy systems. In fact, it holds for all the systems we have tested so far to the limit of detectability of our measurements. However, to say that it holds for every possible context and every possible energy system known AND unknown to an absolute infinite extent is going out side of the realm of the provable into the realm of fantasy and wild ass guessing.

    We do not need to know everything to know something. That our ability to know is not automatic and without process as it would be if we were God also does not invalidate what we do in fact know.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Ray Hibbard

    We have strong evidence to believe in the law of gravity. We have so much belief that we would willingly stake our life on it. If trapped on a skyscraper roof with a tiger we would most likely take our chances with the tiger as opposed to jumping from the building. The thinking being that although tigers can and do kill a fall from 60 story building always does. We would think that anyone that came to a different conclusion was simply scared to the point he made an irrational decision by jumping.

    It would then be my position that gravity is no longer just theory but a real thing in nature. It was real before science tried to quantify or describe it. It will still be real after all of us are gone. I believe this because I have never seen any evidence to the contrary and the theory has more than stood the test of time, and that counts for something.

    I agree that when things get very, very big as in your example finite/infinite universe or in my example atoms very, very small our ability to perform direct measurements and observation is limited by the instrumentation available to us. I think this is where uncertainty begins to creep in, but in those areas where direct experimentation and observation are not so difficult I think it is safe to say those things are proven.

    I suppose that what I am saying that, using your example of conservation of energy, at some point as you said, it becomes reasonable to predict that it will remain unbroken. At that point I think it qualifies as proven. Now if by some chance an experiment proves that under a certain set of circumstance conservation of energy does not hold, conservation of energy will have to be reexamined. I don’t think ‘proven’ is a quality that once bestowed can never be revoked; more it describes the state (certainty/uncertainty) of our understanding at that time and with that evidence.


    Report this

    00

  • #

    Ray,

    I would go just a bit further. Proof is within context and is always within context. There is no such thing as proof without context. New experiments/evidence may expose something outside of that context. If it is consistent with prior work, the context has expanded. If not, the original “theory” still holds in the context in which it was proven.

    Are we real existent beings of a specific nature, living in a universe of a specific nature, and having a specific means by which we know what we know? Or, are we to pretend we are Gods with infinite knowledge gained without process and able to judge our meager efforts as wanting?

    Some people like to pretend the latter is true and will assert they KNOW for CERTAIN that we cannot really know anything for certain. All we can do is guess and maybe get lucky once in a while. Now if their contention is true, they cannot know its true and are simply spouting bullshit. If their contention is false, they are clearly spouting bullshit. This pretense of being god is a scam used to defend against having to be anything or to know anything in particular but still be able to pretend they win arguments.

    I for one am far more interested in what is and can be known and how to know it. As an atheist, I leave the God thing on the cutting room floor and pay attention to the real world.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Ray Hibbard

    Lionell post 31: “I would go just a bit further. Proof is within context and is always within context. There is no such thing as proof without context. New experiments/evidence may expose something outside of that context. If it is consistent with prior work, the context has expanded. If not, the original “theory” still holds in the context in which it was proven.”

    Lionell when you say context you are referring to the conditions under which the experiment is conducted correct? If the results are inconsistent with prior work would that not require checking the prior work for the presence of the unexpected result? It may have been there all the time just went unnoticed or to small to notice. Tell me if we are on the same page here, I think we are.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Tel

    Are we real existent beings of a specific nature, living in a universe of a specific nature, and having a specific means by which we know what we know? Or, are we to pretend we are Gods with infinite knowledge gained without process and able to judge our meager efforts as wanting?

    Some people like to pretend the latter is true and will assert they KNOW for CERTAIN that we cannot really know anything for certain.

    This is mere rhetorical trickery.

    Let’s suppose that (by your argument) there was something that we knew for certain… but we have no way of knowing which of the many things we think we know is the one thing we know for certain. Then then the effect would be identical to not knowing for certain.

    Your argument works equally well in reverse… because by proving that we cannot be uncertain about everything you equally prove that we can be certain about some things, up to and including our own inability to fully comprehend the physical world (and your plea to human limitations only supports our inability to be certain).

    Your argument about context proves nothing either, because it provides no guaranteed safe mechanism to define the boundaries of this “context” of yours. If by chance, perpetual motion was discovered then the free energy so created could be converted into an additional component added to any equation of any part of physics that we care to name (since our current theory supports the idea that energy is arbitrarily convertible into many forms). We would need to revisit the “context” of our entire body of theory. This is one of the reasons why we can be confident (but not sure) that perpetual motion will not be discovered even in new and unexplored places well beyond the context of any experiment yet performed.

    Proof (in the absolute sense) requires logical deduction. That is, to start from axioms, and synthesise more complex implications of these axioms. Within the abstract world of any particular mathematical construct we can have proof. This type of proof can be useful as it leads to a convenient toolbox from which to build our theories (for example Newton’s calculus, Gauss’ solution to linear matrix equations, and the like). We can be certain about this type of proof… but these are not part of the physical world, they are abstract.

    For example, in the abstract and strictly-defined world of Euclidean geometry, the theorem of Pythagoras is as true today and for all time as it was when first invented. Neither human, nor alien nor anyone posing as God will find a counter example. No experiment can disprove Pythagoras, because experiments are not part of that abstract Euclidean world.

    Physical theories depend on inference. That is to say that the full picture is always incomplete, and we have no axioms given to us. Inference is not deduction. Inference can find answers that deduction cannot find, but inference can also find wrong answers.

    The best you can say for inference is that some body of evidence supports the inference, and no counter example has yet been found. If you have an error tolerance, you can say that the inference fits the available measurement within some given tolerance. You could call that “context” if you will, but the new experiment may prove there is a freak situation bang in the middle of the region that you believed was well understood — and your context is blown out of the water. The first people who found their circuits destroyed by “tin whiskers” were caught completely unaware, and to this day we have no theory that explains this phenomena. At the time (which was mid 20th century) it was thought that the metallurgy of tin was very well understood (humans have been working tin and tin alloys for longer than recorded history).


    Report this

    00

  • #

    Tel @ 33,

    Then you hold that if we don’t know everything, we can’t know anything. If so, how can you know even this much? You can’t. Apparently you believe all we can do is guess and be lucky once in a while. You conclude that whatever it is we think we can rely on, can change without notice and without connection to any principle of reality such as the law of identity. I strongly disagree.

    Deduction is not the only way to logical proof. There is a process of induction that really does work. That is if you stay in contact with reality and progress in your induction without contradiction in any part of your previously validated knowledge. Even the understanding that contradictions cannot exist is grasped by an inductive process applied to all knowledge acquired.

    You are accepting the Kantian notion that there is an analytic synthetic dichotomy: if it can be proven, it cannot be ab out reality and if it is about reality, it cannot be proven. The error you make is that you disconnect your concepts from reality. Even your so called analytic conclusions have at their root, perception of reality and an inductive process that leads to a grasp of the fundamental principles that support them.

    Without exception, when a stated proposition fails, it is because it has been extended outside the realm of the inductively non-contradictory.

    Unfortunately, a discussion of correct induction is beyond the scope of a blog. Especially the solution to the problem of universals. The most I can do in such a context is offer the sketch given above.

    The basic question to answer is “What do we know and how do we know it?” The existence of modern technological civilization stands or falls on the answer to that question. You say we can’t really know anything. I say we can and the fact of the industrial revolution proves it.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Tel

    Then you hold that if we don’t know everything, we can’t know anything. If so, how can you know even this much? You can’t.

    If I make the statement: “Lionell Griffith cannot prove this theorem,” then I can easily prove this is true, because if you did prove the statement then you would be contradicting yourself.

    These sort of recursive logical conundrums have been well studied, I might recommend, “Godel Escher Bach – the Golden Braid” as a book that covers this concept from many different angles. However, none of these statements lead to any new knowledge, they merely demonstrate that any abstract mathematical system that is rich enough to contain self-referential statements will also contain incompleteness. In other words, deductive logic on its own will not be sufficient to cover all the possibilities, even in an abstract world.

    Deduction is not the only way to logical proof. There is a process of induction that really does work. That is if you stay in contact with reality and progress in your induction without contradiction in any part of your previously validated knowledge. Even the understanding that contradictions cannot exist is grasped by an inductive process applied to all knowledge acquired.

    Until the experiment is done, you don’t know whether it will contradict. You make the presumption that all experimental results are available to the inductive process, and I would argue that only past experimental results can be available… the future results are unknown.

    Without exception, when a stated proposition fails, it is because it has been extended outside the realm of the inductively non-contradictory.

    Well I gave an example of the “tin whiskers”, I’d like you to explain how melting a blob of pure tin and using it to bond two pieces of copper was “outside the realm of the inductively non-contradictory” back around 1950 when it was first tried (as an attempt to reduce the weight of aerospace circuitry). You can’t even reliably grow tin whiskers in a lab today, they are reliably unreliable. You can make a row of seemingly identical bonds and some will whisker, some will not, some will do it a bit later if you wait long enough.

    What about the guy who first measured the speed of light and found it was actually constant? People immediately pointed out that such a result would imply that the geometry of the universe was non-Euclidean… up to that day they were sure as sure, then the experiment proved they were wrong. How were they supposed to predict this? How are we now supposed to predict where the next upset will come from?


    Report this

    00

  • #

    Tel @ 35: Until the experiment is done, you don’t know whether it will contradict.

    If the experiment has not been done, its outside of the realm of the inductively non-contradictory.

    Tel @ 35: I would argue that only past experimental results can be available… the future results are unknown.

    I see, you are not saying the experiment has not been done, you are saying the experiment has not been done now. You presume the result could be randomly different without having a change in conditions. Your position implies that identity and causality do not exist and that stuff just happens.

    Then why do science? Especially since science is based, in part, on repeatability. As far as you are concerned, the experiment could be repeated thousands of times all with the same result (within measurement error) but on the very next time, it could be vastly different.

    Apparently we must address an even more fundamental question.

    1. Do you exist?
    2. If you say no, end of discussion.
    3. If you say yes, what do you mean when you say you exist?


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Tel

    Apparently we must address an even more fundamental question.

    I don’t see it as any way apparent, nor even vaguely related, but I can’t grind my previous argument on science and experiment into any finer detail so I guess it is one of those “get it or don’t get it” situations.

    1. Do you exist?
    2. If you say no, end of discussion.
    3. If you say yes, what do you mean when you say you exist?

    Thanks for that, I’ll say no.


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Brian H

    Science. Proof. Popper.

    Search on the above, and you get the most influential “Philosophy of Science” writer ever.

    Quick summary:
    Every scientific hypothesis is a statement. To be science, it must have attached a test which could hypothetically disprove it.

    The more thoroughly and competently a hypothesis has been so tested without a successful disproof, the more confidence we can have in it. But it is ALWAYS possible that someone will come up with a successful disproof. Then a more inclusive hypothesis will have to be formulated which accommodates the disproof/exception to the previous “law”, and be itself tested as thoroughly and imaginatively and competently as possible.

    The result is a body of statements which have not yet been disproven despite best efforts to do so.

    No statement which cannot be tested and potentially disproven is scientific.

    In a sense, the above amounts to turning a common adage on its head, with qualifiers:

    Absence of evidence is not only evidence of absence (of a disproof), it is the ONLY kind of evidence there is — given a thorough and competent attempt to disprove. I.e., there is no such thing as “evidence for”, only a failure to find evidence against. So far.


    Report this

    00

  • #

    Brian,

    You have given a reasonable representation of Popper’s position on science. However, Popper’s position is flawed in that it holds you really can’t know anything but that which is demonstrated to be false by testing it. To know the test is failed, you have to KNOW that it has failed. To know that, there is a long logical chain of truths that have to be KNOWN as truths to perform such a test and to know its result.

    Popper’s fundamental logical error is the disconnecting of his concepts from their hierarchical connection to reality and using them as floating abstractions. This is otherwise known as an error of a stolen concept.

    There is one thing to say that scientific statements must be testable. Its quite another thing to say the only thing you can know is that a test has failed.

    In a word, Popper is poppycock!


    Report this

    00

  • #
    Brian H

    I disagree; you can’t change the rules in midstream. Set forth in advance the test that would falsify your statement, perform the test, and accept the result if it does contradict your hypothesis. Then move on.

    Anything else is word play.


    Report this

    00

  • #

    [...] big news day. It appears Steve McIntyre (volunteer unpaid auditor of Big-Government-Science) has killed the Hockey Stick a second [...]


    Report this

    00

  • #

    [...] was tiny in comparison. Also Medical research is audited by the FDA, and the IPCC is audited by… unpaid bloggers. But other than that, there are [...]


    Report this

    00

  • #

    When you email the Climate dept they ask for the data they say see the IPCC data on their site but in real life they keep quoting that the CSIRO is doing the Science . The question of the day has to be if there was no c02 in the atmosphere what would happen ??? After 4billion yrs all we have is 400 parts per million which is hardly anything , paying to cut your own oxygen , you couldn’t make that up .Its the racket of the century .


    Report this

    00

  • #

    [...] Once an alarmist cycle is set up, with international bureaucracies, industries, taxes, associations, and activists in place, with careers riding on the perpetual alarm, what stops it?Volunteers? [...]


    Report this

    00