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Clive Hamilton’s War on Science

Posted By Joanne Nova On September 14, 2010 @ 4:38 am In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

Clive Hamilton writes again on The ABC Drum

It’s a strange, inside-out world. Poor Hamilton seems to suffer from a kind of public form of projection, where he  inadvertently lumps skeptics with all his own failures. Everything he claims to be standing for, he unwittingly attacks. Everything he protests about is something he does himself, and in spades. Virtually every point is easily refuted, yet promoted with public money.

It’s quite an achievement. Hamilton is anti-science, intolerant, and hypocritical all at once, and his arguments collapse when measured against his own benchmarks. He resorts to name-calling, and rank speculation without basis or substantiation. The ABC betrays its wafer thin intellectual standards and bias by not noticing that Clive barely makes a point that does not dispute itself.

Clive protests about the War on Science, but doesn’t realize he is waging it.

The thing that makes the scientific method vastly different to all the other philosophies and methods of acquiring knowledge out there is that evidence always stands above opinion. Yet the very core of Hamilton’s arguments depends on the “Consensus”, and Clive apparently hasn’t noticed that the famous begotten “Consensus” is just a collection of … wait for it… opinions.

Clive apparently hasn’t noticed that the famous begotten “Consensus” is just a collection of … wait for it… opinions.

Why do I need to explain this to a Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics? It’s a joint center of the Australian National University, Charles Sturt University and the University of Melbourne, all three of which ought to hang their heads in abject shame. What does it mean to have a Centre of Applied Philosophy that hires professors ignorant of the most baby-basic detail about the core philosophy that lifted Western Civilization out of the Dark Age?

The thing that makes science not another religion is that there are no Gods, there are no opinions of science that stand above the measurements of nature. In science, empirical evidence trumps opinions, even the opinions of scientific and (gosh) political authorities. Yet here is Hamilton acting all religious about the two-thousand-apostles-of-the-IPCC. Send him back to school and let the rest of us get on with a decent community discussion where we don’t have to explain the basis of science to a so-called professor. (While we are at it, can we have our tax money back so we can donate it to universities that know what science is?)

Hamilton looks in a mirror and unwittingly attacks himself

He thinks those who forecast catastrophes-due-to-carbon have all the legitimate science on their side, yet it’s the skeptics who quote peer reviewed papers that even Doctors of the disaster can’t answer. The skeptics ask for evidence, while the “believers” like Hamilton delude themselves that opinions are evidence, talk of consensus instead, and don’t notice they can’t provide any of the real deal. Clive marks himself as an expert on skeptics (he wrote a whole book about “Deniers”) yet doesn’t seem to actually read anything skeptics write.

One group of skeptics wrote an 800 page report packed with too many peer reviewed references to count (See NIPCC – a great site). Another group have collected 800 peer reviewed supportive references. Did Clive not think to google?

Of course, the number of references is irrelevant to the climate, but Clive is the one claiming  “one ‘side’ is backed by a large body of peer-reviewed research and the other is not.”

Is he in denial about “deniers”?

Skeptics are asking for empirical evidence that doubling carbon will create more than 1.2 degrees of warming. Everything above that relies on unproven speculation about feedbacks amplifying that minor warming. The assumptions about positive warming in climate models are based on opinions.

Watch Hamilton explain why the ABC ought to reject his own writing because he presents opinions as facts:

…the ABC’s editorial policy mandates the opposite. It rightly declares that the organisation should not confuse its audiences by allowing opinion to be presented as fact. If claims about climate science have no empirical backing, cannot meet the criteria for publication set by professional journals and are repeatedly rejected by the world’s scientific academies, then they must be regarded as opinions.

Hamilton doesn’t appear to realize it, but he trusts the climate scientists who prophesy a disaster. He has faith in them, like some people have faith in God, or Allah, or Greenpeace. If Hamilton had scientific evidence, he presumably would reference it, instead of the endless repetition of his “consensus”.

Hamilton calls scientists who quote evidence “Deniers!”, while he denies the evidence they quote.

Clive claims there’s not even a significant minority view who are skeptical. But again, if he’d searched for 5 minutes he’d know the skeptics can name more scientists who disagree, than he can name in support, that our scientists are usually independent and unfunded where his are almost all members of the Global Warming Gravy Train;  skeptics can also name Nobel Prize winners, eminent physicists, and professors from Ivy League universities.

This is not just a fallacious argument from authority, it’s totally wrong too:

The ‘other side’ would deserve some reporting if there were a significant minority view that had some legitimate science to sustain its claims, even if that science proves unsustainable. In the case of climate science, there isn’t.

Hamilton effectively calls the Nobel Prize winners of science names. They are Deniers?  His arrogance knows no bounds. (Those were real science Nobels too, not a Peace-Prize-for-creating-no-peace like the IPCC and Al Gore.)

Being utterly wrong himself doesn’t stop Clive from implying the skeptics are liars:

Climate deniers, by contrast, conceal their political purposes and pretend to base their arguments on the authority of science – which is the same authority that the accepted view of global warming relies upon. The deniers’ lack of honesty…

Imagine someone concealing their political purpose? You mean, like being a failed Greens Candidate who aims to shut down coal mining and tax everything that moves? Is that not political? The only political purpose of most skeptics is to stop the political purposes of people who don’t know what science is, yet wield it for their own o-so-political purposes –people like Clive. So here he is again, doing everything he accuses skeptics of, only ten times more. And since when did “deniers” pretend to base their arguments on authority? Skeptics have no respect for authority. You try to unravel his point.

What about “Balanced Reporting”?

For an expert in public ethics, he sure seems to miss the obvious conflict of interest

The underlying theme of Clive’s article is supposedly to talk “balance”, which for Clive apparently means censoring the  people who disagree with his apostles even if some are professors, because er, they’re just experts in the fractional quantum Hall effect or something  passe like that. Presumably he wants only registered “climate scientists” to speak about climate science, except that means, once again, Clive advocates silencing himself. For an expert in public ethics, he sure seems to miss the obvious conflict of interest and moral hazard of restricting the speakers to people whose careers depend on forecasting disaster. Let’s ask 100 climate scientists if they think the importance of their own branch of science is exaggerated, and we ought to fund other areas instead?

Projections of disaster become self-perpetuating. Those who are paid to find a disaster, will only increase their status if they “find” one.

It’s a shallow confounded discussion from the outset. No respectable news association ought to base it’s editorial decisions on how “mainstream” or “accepted” a view is — that would ensure that corruption or flaws in the mainstream would be kept hidden from society. The climate establishment are paid by governments who are using global warming as an excuse to extend their powers. The skeptic whistleblowers who expose this are almost all, by definition, from other branches of science, or from outside the Establishment. That’s exactly why if there were such a thing as ratios of  “Establishment” versus unfunded “whistleblowers” the ABC ought to bias the coverage against those with a vested interest and their own PR departments, and for the independents who speak out at considerable cost. Isn’t that why we pay for a public broadcaster?

Hows this for the editorial policy the ABC ought to have:

why not just print any well reasoned original view which is logical and substantiated?

They could add that editors will remove baseless ad hominems, name calling, and articles so poorly contrived that they are destroyed by their own arguments. own reasoning.

Tony Cox and David Stockwell take Hamilton to task themselves on the ABC Drum comparing Hamiltons views and Lysenko.

This has happened before. Lysenko was a Russian agronomist who suborned agricultural science in the 1930′s to support the social policy of collectivism. Lysenko had a consensus too. Hamilton’s fondness for censorship and suspension of democratic process is a reminder of the methods used in the past to create truth by edict.

They rightfully reject the fake consensus too:

Schneider’s paper is contradicted by a peer-reviewed paper by Mike Hulme, professor of Climate Change at the University of East Anglia. Hulme specifically rejects the well-known consensus declaration of 2,500 scientists agreeing that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate, and notes “That particular consensus judgement, as are many others in the IPCC reports, is reached by only a few dozen experts in the specific field of detection and attribution studies”.

You really have to read Hamiltons piece to appreciate just what a classic work of projection it is.

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