JoNova

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


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The Highest Authority in Science is the Data

Joint Post David Evans and Jo Nova

“97 percent of climate experts say man-made global warming is a major threat”

The correct response: “So? The satellites, ocean buoys, and weather balloons disagree.”

The alarmists may have “experts”, but the skeptics have the data.

How do you find the truth about some disputed point in science? You find the most authoritative source of information.  The vital thing that makes science different to a religion is that there are no “Gods” of science. There is no expert who is infallible. The highest authority in science is the measurements and observations. Here is the hierarchy of authority in climate science:

Data (empirical evidence) Climate scientists Other scientists Lay people.

For most of the last few centuries, science has been supreme over politics for settling the truth in matters pertaining to the physical world—empirical evidence beats anyone’s say-so.

But the modern political approach is to ignore that top level. To most warmists and the public who “believe in climate change” (as they so misleading say), the hierarchy is:

Climate scientists Other scientists Lay people.

The  way the climate scam works is for the like-minded western bureaucracies to [...]

Naomi Klein’s crippling problem with numbers

Naomi Klein Photo: Mariusz Kubik

Naomi Klein was the wrong person to send to a heavy-weight science conference  — in “Capitalism vs Climate” she notices hundreds of details, but they’re all the wrong ones.

Naomi can tell you the colour of the speakers hair, what row they sat in, and the expression on their face — it adds such an authentic flavor to the words, but she’s blind to the details that count. She can explain the atmosphere of the room, but not the atmosphere of the Earth. One of these things matters, and Klein has picked the wrong one.

Her long attack on the Heartland ICCC conference this year is all color and style, and nothing of consequence — the lights are on and no brain is home.  Unpack the loquacious pencraft and we wallow in innumerate arguments that confuse cause and effect, peppered with petulant name-calling. She can throw stones, but she can’t count past “one”.

Her aversion to numbers is crippling

Consider how she reduces planetary dynamics to a Yes or No answer. She thinks each skeptical scientist contradicts the next: “Is there no warming, or is there warming but it’s not a problem? And if [...]

A willing victim of a false faith… Craven’s solution as it crashes: scream louder

You have to feel sorry for him. He’s genuine. He’s stressed to the point of mania. And it’s all for nothing.

But as Brice Bosnich says, Hilarious;  bring the back to front canvas jacket, rubber spoon…

Greg Craven posted his infamous AGU speech and asked us to share it. Craven is absolutely right in a chain of logic except for one ever so small point, in the first link. His chain is anchored to his Gods of Science. He doesn’t question authority. Everything else is an error cascade, and he’s over the waterfall. He’s just done Niagara in a tin-can.

I hope he makes it.

The irony is he’ll devote hours to “understanding” the official establishment version of events, and three years working non-stop to promote that, but nothing to understanding why people are unconvinced. He’s living in the matrix — he thinks the punters are dumber than him, and they’re being exploited by a “ruthless denial machine” — meanwhile his religious zeal, and blind faith in authority is passively exploited by a ruthless power-seeking money-hungry machine.

Shame, if only someone had taught him the fallacy of argumentum ad verecundiam. All those good intentions could be used to help [...]

The Truth Wears Off: Is there something wrong with the scientific method?

The New Yorker has such an interesting article it’s already generating discussion here, so it deserves a thread of it’s own. It describes a true modern paradox, namely that so many good studies can show interesting “significant” results, yet very few of these turn out to be genuine repeatable findings, and frustrated researchers struggle to get similar results, and it’s almost as if, the harder they try, the worse it gets. Many researchers across disparate fields are noticing an odd trend that the effect they thought was so solid, appears to mysteriously “wear off” as the years and the repeat trials go on.

It’s a sober warning to all of us to search hard for the truth hidden behind variables we are not even able to name yet, let alone measure, and to be ever vigilant about variables we can name, like “publishing bias” and “selective reporting”.

Annals of Science The Truth Wears Off Is there something wrong with the scientific method? by Jonah Lehrer December 13, 2010

These are quick quotes from a 5 page article. It’s well written, and worth reading in full.

But now all sorts of well-established, multiply confirmed findings have started to look [...]

A journalist who confuses journalism with propaganda

Great news: This commentary appears in The Weekend Australian today (in a slightly different edited version). Below was what I submitted, before the edits, with the links intact. Comments are open at The Australian. I’ll be posting less often over the Southern Summer, possibly quite irregularly, so if you want to get an email from me and find out when the more important posts go up, please add your email to my list (top right, see “register”).

In the print edition the headline is “Journalists who think Newspapers should lead the country”*

David McKnight’s criticism of The Australian (Sceptical writers skipped inconvenient truths) makes a good case study of the intellectual collapse of Australian universities.

Here’s a UNSW “Senior Research Fellow” in journalism who contradicts himself, fails by his own reasoning, does little research, breaks at least three laws of logic, and rests his entire argument on an assumption that he provides no evidence for. Most disturbingly — like a crack through the façade of Western intellectual vigour — he actually asserts that the role of a national newspaper is to “give leadership”. Bask for a moment in the inanity of this declaration that newspapers “are our leaders”. Last [...]

Now we are not even allowed to doubt?

It’s Naomi Oreskes reasoning which is scary.

Some people just can’t think.

Naomi Oreskes “reasons” by Remarkable Parallels, which is as bogus a way of thinking as any tea-leaf-incantation that we thought we left behind in the caves. She thinks that because she can find parallels between Tobacco and Climate Skeptics, therefore skeptics are wrong about climate sensitivity due to a trace gas. Go figure why anyone struggles to analyze ice cores when they could have just done a Google search?

I can find remarkable parallels between Lysenko and modern climate science, but I don’t bother writing a book on it. If I want answers about the climate I look at the data from the planet, not data about personalities.

Mike Steketee (Some sceptics make it a habit to be wrong) has learnt a new way to throw names from Oreskes. Nick Minchin (recently retired Senator from the conservative opposition) is just the latest target of this effusion of confusion.

Now anyone who raises points against a policy can be called a “doubt-monger” and the Orwellian destruction of our language advances one more notch.

Naomi Oreskes IS the Merchant of Doubt

Ponder the irony of what Oreskes herself [...]

Oreskes, Readfearn: Got no evidence? Throw different names. Skeptics are paranoid ideologues afraid of reds under the bed.

Ad Hominem Unleashed (aka ABC): On the origin of the sceptics

Commentators on a sinking ship search for reasons to “keep the faith afloat”.

The debate has moved a peg. Instead of “oil shills” now we’re just paranoid ideologues afraid of reds under the bed.

Naomi Oreskes

The battle cry: the “skeptics” are shills of big oil, has become an own goal. The PR team for the catastrophic theory have no new evidence of Big Oil funding and thousands of people now point out that the UNskeptics were paid 3500 times as much (at least). So they are moving on… the religiously devout believers can’t admit they were wrong, and nor can they look at the evidence, so what’s left? Post hoc random over-analysis of the irrelevant. Before, skeptics were paid hacks… and now they’re wrong because they … are ideologically against big government and regulation. From one ad hom to another.

And again, the ABC uses our taxes to promote the smear campaign,  support neolithic reasoning, and does everything it can to stop people talking about scientific evidence (by spreading misinformation or slurs about all the characters on one side). Oreskes and freelance writer [...]

Learn how not to reason at the University of Western Australia

Picasso-Brain-Strikes-the-Climate-Debate: Can't think. Can't reason.

Tomorrow night the University of Western Australia (UWA) is hosting “Climate change scepticism under the spotlight”, where people who ought to know better are reverting to stone age reasoning. “Hail the Gods of Science!”  The shame, the shame, it’s my old university.

Australian Professorial Fellow Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, from UWA’s School of Psychology, will discuss the perils of ignoring consensus in science…

The UWA School of Science ought to be grovelling embarrassed. Any scientific professorial fellow ought to warn about the dangers of ignoring the empirical evidence, or the perils of missing the whistleblowers who point out logical flaws.

Can we add that up?

Let’s follow the reasoning on consensus science. How do you weight the scoring system?  Is one post-doc worth 3 honors students, or 5?  Do we dilute citation-value according to the number of authors on each paper? Does a Nobel peace prize winner trump a class of undergraduates? Quick, we need a committee to figure it out. I can feel the need for a emergency formation of the Scientific-Authority-Demarkation-Institute. UN based of course.

I have written many times about how Lewandowsky uses Argument from Authority ad nauseum along [...]

PNAS: Witchdoctors of science — Anderegg’s blacklist of scientists

Proceedings of the National Academy of Science: a step back to the Stone Age

A shameful day in the history of science. The once esteemed National Academy of Science is reduced to pagan witchcraft: point the bone at the blacklist, count the tea-leaf-citations, put on your funny hat and make a prophesy about the weather.

Some critics are saying the survey is flawed because it uses artificial groupings. Artificial be damned — the survey is flawed because it’s a waste-of-time work of anti-science for even existing. Science is not a democracy. Natural laws don’t form because anyone says so, and the only way to find out the answer is to … look at the evidence. Doh.

This adulation of individuals and tests of character, “success”, or popularity is the anti-thesis of what the great brains-trust of science ought to do. In science all minds test their theories against the universe, and only the real world matters. The petty world of human reputations is steeped in bias and conflicts of interest with personality defects and political power grabs, not to mention the corrupting influence of money. Science achieved vast success for civilization by freeing us from exactly this cess-pool of [...]

Tyranny Australis

It’s either a seismic shift in power here, or a farce of Grand Proportions. Either way, if you haven’t heard about the Australian Super-Tax, it’s one of those full-moon-moments in Western Democracy when “one plus one equals minus thirteen”, and the guy earnestly telling you this is also running the country. The sheer Spectacle of Stupid is something to behold.

Guess what the rules will be next year?

For the first time, our government has announced a war against a whole Australian industry: mining (the same sector that rescued us from the global financial crisis and produced  37% of our total exports in 2009).

Australian Prime Minister Rudd desperately needs a big win to go to the next election with, and desperate men are dangerous. He was taken in hook, line and stinker by the Big Carbon Scare –  bet his reputation on the big bluff, and crashed and burned. He doesn’t want to look like a complete loser (and who does) so he grabbed the easy wedge; attack the rich foreigners, grab the fast cash, pretend to be Robin Hood. Et Voila! The Resource Super Profits Tax*.

This is not so much about climate (sorry) but it is [...]