Saturday, July 06, 2019

Science - or "scientism"?


I’ll finish with one of my roundups of some amazing news from the frontiers of science! But first, a little philosophizing about just what kind of an era we are living in.

== Anti-“scientism”? ==

I’ve been accused of scientism -- belief that scientific knowledge somehow yields insight into the supposedly separate category of moral knowledge. A typical hate-reflex against science is to label it in terms that adversaries know will be deemed insulting by scientists: i.e. dismissing it as just another religion. This happens at both ends of the political spectrum.

1. Those who operate in more traditional mental modes tend to see things in zero-sum terms and assume that truth is found in incantations. Hence on the 'right' you are damned if you question received dogma. On the 'left' you have fewer anti-science cultists, but they are intense.

2. Science is terrifying to such folks, because it invokes objective reality as an arbitrator of disputes. A 'god' of sorts who actually answers 'prayers' for intercession and ruling on true incantations. This is offensive to those who fear their spells may be rendered useless or become objects of derision. Or forgotten. 

Postmodernists respond by doubling down that text is everything and efforts to apply experimental evidence are simply male-western-white bullying. Rightists are remarkably similar, but less creative. 

3. Since they operate in cabals of incantation, they assume it's what scientists do. In fact, "science" is not the essential thing that has changed. The new thing that's entered the world is competitive reciprocal accountability, of which science is just the most powerful application. Others include adversarial justice courts and free-fair elections. And all of these 'liberal' inventions are now under open attack.

(BTW I have a monograph on modern theology. And while many dogmatists are fanatical, I have found other religious folk to be far more willing to engage in fair disputation than hostile campus postmodernists.)

But the advantages of science go beyond competitive effects of reciprocal accountability. Both the underlying assumptions of science and the cornucopia outcomes are positive sum, a concept that a great many humans - even educated ones - cannot grasp, even in theory. 

4. I have found that two counter-memes can be effective. To those who criticize science, or the west, or America, or etc., but who appear to be folks of good will (especially youths) hold up a mirror. 

"Look at yourself! Your reflex to criticize and to be unsatisfied with a situation that has benefited you above all other generations: where did that critical reflex come from? Did you invent Suspicion of Authority? Or did you suckle it from almost every Hollywood film and from countless songs?  

"Is it possible that you learned it from a civilization whose very success has depended upon new systems of internal criticism that now pervade almost every university or TV show?  An error-correction system, based on relentless error-discovery through criticism, of which you are now a part?"

We're not asking you, on realizing this, to give up your passion for change, for expansion of horizons of inclusion, or to stop complaining about hoary old assumptions or injustice! Error-targeting by brash critics is our only chance to cross the minefield ahead! Still, you'll be a stronger warrior for justice if you calmly see the synergies and who might be unexpected allies.

Science has been instrumental in disproving so many prejudices earlier generations took for granted, such as the physical incapability of women - (Have you watched the womens' soccer World Cup?). Or the notion that other races cannot achieve intellectual excellence, or that tobacco is safe, or that it's harmless for rivers to catch fire. Those opposing injustice and wanting a healthy Earth have been empowered by science.

5. To those who are committed anti-modernists of either today's far-left or entire (mad) right, I find one weapon that's partly effective. Wagers. Blunt dares to put money on their assertions. No, you won't get rich: 99% of the time they refuse, they weasel and flee (a reward in its own right). But on occasion (especially when you use the words "ocean acidification") the threat of a bet causes someone with a sliver of residual honesty to back down and admit they had been too grand in their declarations. It's a step.


== Amazing items from the discovery horizon ==

The beginning of uplift? Frankly, I expected this particular insertion experiment back in the 1990s. The effect of one alteration on monkey brains is apparently substantial, though still only a baby step.

Have you been following news that 'Impossible' meatless meat will make a Whopper and 'Beyond' meatless meat is skyrocketing in stock value? Now add the fact that cultured chicken is getting closer. All of this makes it feel more like a sci fi world than most space stuff! And these developments might (we can hope) be as big a game changer as the white light LED bulb or plummeting solar cell prices. Now — Seafood Without The Sea: Will Lab-Grown Fish Hook Consumers?

For it to be a world changer, meat substitution must come in 3-5 years, not 25. What's also needed? Algae industry at huge scale. Could provide zero-net carbon fuels plus basic feed stock for all those meat substitutes. And in a pinch, we could eat algae. Or feed it to crickets. Ideally the algae farms would take up the entire south face of urban towers, letting cities feed themselves.

The best thing on Netflix: Our Planet is more than just another “nature show.” The first episode, narrated by David Attenborough, shows things I never, ever saw before in 60 years of watching such shows! The HD is simply stunning. And yes, there is no better way to lure your delusional-denialist cousin back toward some kind of awareness and light.

An army of micro-robots to swarm your mouth - attack bacterial biofilms and clean your teeth? Where do they go to work next - when swallowed?

See an image of one of the1000 or so cubes of purified… but not isotope separated… uranium that the Nazi regime created in their chaotic and (fortunately) extremely dumb efforts to develop nuclear power during WWII. Their concept involved no isotopic refinement, was clueless about the possibility of carbon as a moderator, (leaving them with heavy water which the allies and brave partisans destroyed), and their initial reactor design was insane, having none (at all) of the brilliant control methods invented by the team of Enrico Fermi, in Chicago. Yet there are romantics out there who proclaim there was superior “Nazi Science.” 

There was almost zilch Nazi science! They retained a number of fairly solid engineers, like Von Braun, after chasing nearly all the seriously-alpha scientists away. That’s what romantic-dogmatic jerks do. Almost an identical reflex underlies today’s romantic-confederate-foxite war on science… along with every other fact centered profession.

And no, that's not "scientism." It is self-interest, to defend the human trend that refuted past travesties, gave us nearly all our knowledge and wealth, and is rapidly teaching us what we need in order to become decent planetary managers.

142 comments:

scidata said...

A blog I used to really enjoy was Dr. Byron Jennings' (TRIUMF) Quantum Diaries
https://www.quantumdiaries.org/2015/04/17/self-publishing/
He stopped writing it several years ago, but he left it online. One of his major themes was "Defense of Scientism" (original blog post https://www.quantumdiaries.org/2011/10/07/in-defense-of-scientism/)

It was a warm, gentle, and comfy (ie Canadian) argument for 'faith' in the power of science. I am not qualified to make such arguments directly as he and our host have, but I'm satisfied to be a foot soldier in the fight for widespread scientific literacy. Not faith, but literacy.

Calculemus!

Daniel Duffy said...

Never understood the conflict between science and religion.

As a catholic, we were always taught that God had two books, the Bible and Nature, both spoke truth and "truth cannot contradict truth".

I was taught evolution by a nun. Pope Paul accepted the Big Bang and the age of the universe ("a thousand years is but a day in the eyes of the Lord"). JPII declared evolution to be "more than a theory".

So I have no problem with Gould's "Non Overlapping Magesteria" (NOMA): science answers "how" questions and religion answers "why" questions.

Larry Hart said...

@Daniel Duffy,

I think it has to do with science demonstrating "inconvenient truths" such as the earth being millions of years old, or the moon being something other than a light in the sky. It's not that one can't reconcile such observations with God if one tries, but that the need to try makes one uncomfortable.

There's also an aspect of team-identification going on. I doubt that most modern Republicans really believe that the earth is 6000 years old, or even that the theory of evolution has no merit. But when polled on such questions, people answer in the way that means "I'm on God's team" rather than "The Satanist Commies are right." To many, I suspect the question even sounds like a trick. "I know what you're saying sounds reasonable, but that's just to trick me into renouncing my membership in good standing on God's team."

Daniel Duffy said...

Larry: I found it best to try a steer a course between the Scylla of atheistic nihilism and the Charybdis of fundy ignorance.

Greg Hullender said...

I usually define scientism as the belief that science can explain everything. Science has a great track record, so that's not actually an unreasonable belief, but, technically, it really is a belief, not something that can ever be proved.

In my experience, it mostly comes up when trying to discuss human intelligence. Our understanding of how the mind works is so poor that we're reduced to scientism. "It can't be supernatural, so there must be a scientific explanation."

Unknown said...

"Can the human mind understand itself?" is a very old conundrum. I suspect, until we develop machine intelligences that can say "Here's how you work, meatbag," the correct answer is the one given to another famous riddle.

If you don't worry about it, it won't bother you.

Pappenheimer

locumranch said...


Greg offers up 'Scientism' as most commonly defined, but I prefer to define it more narrowly as the erroneous application of scientific principles to subjective value judgments.

By judging observable reality as either GOOD or BAD, scientists like David commit the sin of scientific oversimplification, also known as 'scientism', as exemplified by the judgment that ocean acidification is an unmitigated BAD when it is simply one facet of the wonderfully complex biological Bicarbonate Buffering System in which algae is the major global player.

Yet, for every scientist that acknowledges the positive role that algae plays in the oceanic Bicarbonate Buffering System in the sense that oceanic algae blooms produce oxygen, fix carbon dioxide, increase oceanic pH & reverse ocean acidification, there are many more scientists who opine that increased oceanic pH due to 'harmful' algae blooms is an unmitigated BAD in terms of oceanic health.

THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO ROLE FOR MORAL AND/OR SUBJECTIVE VALUE JUDGMENTS WITHIN THE SCOPE OF SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY.

Or, to put in a grossly oversimplified & potentially counterproductive way that the multitude may or may not understand:

Scientism is an unmitigated BAD, mmmkay?


Best

Treebeard said...

The main idea of Postmodernism is that there’s no Logos; no transcendent ordering principle, no grand narrative to explain the world. Scientism replaces a divine Logos with Natural Law, which is knowable through science rather than faith. Its grand narrative is Progress, which entails trying to solve every problem and improve the world with science. Its adherents like to denigrate whole fields of study as useless and obsolete (e.g. philosophy, religion) and position themselves as the supreme arbiters of truth for society. It is just science turned into a religion.

BTW, I don’t understand the idea of “uplift”. What purpose does it serve? It sounds like some humans deciding for other species, without asking them, that they would be better off if they were more like humans and less like their natural, but more “primitive” (according to these humans) selves. What a grotesque, religious idea!

scidata said...

Just to be clear, I said that Dr. Jennings extolled scientism (perhaps tongue-in-cheek), but not Dr. Brin. I just meant they were both better qualified than I to comment either way.

Some folks continue to paint scientists as elite, power-hungry, secretive Machiavellians. Let me give my perspective, having met many scientists (a long career as a glorified computer/robot/PCR/telescope repair-man).

They are cautious and introspective in the extreme. This is not because they're humble (some are, but a lifetime of spectacular achievement works against this trait). Rather, it is because they are terribly afraid of making mistakes that could hurt their reputation, or even worse, impede science. Mistakes stemming from bias, sloppiness, dogmatism, missing the forest for the trees, failing to learn from history and others' work, and most of all: complacency and lack of curiosity. More than any other profession, they seem to know and accept when it is time to 'hang up their skates'.

Life as a PhD student or post-doc is even more Spartan. Many of them make Jesuits look hedonistic. It reminds one of the Klingon pain stick gauntlet ritual. Elite? More like self-sacrificing, generous, and fully involved in humanity's welfare. When you compare them with the lazy, petulant, abusive, moronic, failed real estate grifter in the White House, it's almost hard to imagine them as the same species.

They're not perfect. I've had my run-ins. A few spend almost as much time at conferences and award ceremonies as they do in the laboratory. Some are reluctant to teach and mentor. Some think that science is defined as the set of all scientists past and present. This leaves little room for citizen science, my own great passion. Citizen scientists are not pretend scientists. They are citizens who have gained some measure of scientific literacy, usually due to significant effort on both theirs and their mentors' parts. They are first and foremost citizens. The world needs as many literate citizens as it can muster. Our ultimate path of either back to the caves or on to the stars depends more on them than it does on all the scientists, politicians, philosophers, and media stars combined.

Scientists are largely, but not all, liberals, lefties, and secular humanists. You'd be surprised how many religious (usually Abrahamic) scientists I've met. Those ones have better compartmentalization skills than Bill Clinton.

Finally (you knew this was coming), they're not all human. The science = past/living scientists fallacy is not only wrong, it's bloody dangerous. The trap of anthropomorphization has ensnared society. We confidently march towards Artificial General Intelligence like a ragged street gang strutting into a well-oiled mechanized division. Let's just hope they're more virtuous than we have been. This is not sci-fi fantasy. Look at the 1945 world and compare it to today. In a tiny fraction of a fraction of history, everything has changed dramatically except our nature. Some of us still lock little ones up in scary cages with no blankets, soap, or toothbrushes and threaten our brothers with '8 trillion bullets'. Chivalry may not be quite dead, but it's on life-support.

And I haven't even discussed computational psychohistory :)

Treebeard said...

^^ There’s a good example of the religious grand narrative I mentioned: “It’s the caves or the stars, and we’re the only ones who can get us to the stars.” Cf. the medieval: “It’s heaven or hell for you, and we’re the only thing standing between you and hell.”

Larry Hart said...

Greg Hullender:

Our understanding of how the mind works is so poor that we're reduced to scientism. "It can't be supernatural, so there must be a scientific explanation."


I think that statement conflates two separate things. The human brain might be so complex that it will take way more time to even come up with the correct questions and experiments to start understanding how it works. So in the meantime, it's a vain hope that science can be used to fully understanding the brain's workings.

Yet "a scientific explanation" also colloquially means "a non-supernatural explanation", i.e., "a natural explanation". It was once believed that lightning came from gods fighting in the skies. Science has determined a more prosaic source of the phenomenon. In that sense, a belief that "science can explain everything" is really a disbelief of the supernatural, or rather, a belief that everything has a natural cause, even if we don't yet know what that cause is, or even if we never can know what that cause is.

Larry Hart said...

Daniel Duffy:

I found it best to try a steer a course between the Scylla of atheistic nihilism and the Charybdis of fundy ignorance.


I used to use that exact same metaphor to describe what I thought was best about "Americanism", steering a safe course past both communism and fascism.

Somewhere in the Reagan years, the meme was (intentionally) changed to "Left is anti-American; therfore Right is American", and the public seemed to accept the meme that the more to the right one fell politically, the more pro-American one was. 'Twas not always thus.

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

BTW, I don’t understand the idea of “uplift”. What purpose does it serve? It sounds like some humans deciding for other species, without asking them, that they would be better off if they were more like humans and less like their natural, but more “primitive” (according to these humans) selves.


Well, do you understand the idea of "child rearing"? It sounds like some adults deciding for other humans, without asking them, that they would be better off if they were more like adults and less like their natural, but more “primitive” (according to these adults) selves. So I suppose that's a religion too.

Treebeard said...

So humans should treat all animal species like their own children? I guess this is in line with the mentality we’ve seen so often here before, that you know better than those deplorables over there how to raise their children, and don't need permission to meddle in their culture. The arrogance and hubris of some people never ceases to amaze me.

scidata said...

The arrogance and hubris of some people never ceases to amaze me.

Sadly, it's seemingly only ever perceived in rationalists, never in psychotic sociopaths who would destroy everything for another marshmallow.

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

So humans should treat all animal species like their own children?


I didn't say "should" or "all".

You said you didn't understand the concept. I explained it. You're welcome.


The arrogance and hubris of some people never ceases to amaze me.


Look in the mirror a lot, do you?

scidata said...

Treebeard: I'm not entirely against poking fun at scientism bloviators. I just want to see it done with panache.

For example: What do you get when Hugh Downs, Isaac Asimov, Ben Bova, Katherine Anne Porter, Norman Mailer, Robert Heinlein, Frederik Pohl, Theodore Sturgeon, Carl Sagan, Krafft Ehricke, and Marvin Minsky board a cruise ship to watch the launch of Apollo 17?
A fiasco of astronomical proportions.
https://www.fastcompany.com/90372061/the-weird-space-themed-caribbean-cruise-that-celebrated-the-last-trip-to-the-moon

David Brin said...

Daniel D. Yes the official enlightenment policy is “Gould's "Non Overlapping Magesteria" (NOMA): science answers "how" questions and religion answers "why" questions.”

I call it “encapsulization” and it is the net distillation of every year’s wonderful new work on theology&Science funded by the Templeton Foundation. Every year, huzzah, the same outcome newly packaged. But alas, it is wearing thin.

Yes, some churches - Catholicism, Buddhism and most Jews - accept that religion must retreat from zones now covered by physical and nearly all biological sciences, but this has been a fighting retreat. And with the likely advent of AI and test-tube life, we’re getting into realms where capsules may break down.

LH I believe “team identification” does explain many of those poll results.

David Brin said...

-Oooh I see! Backpedaling and shifting the goalposts yet again, L admits the oceans are turning acid with overwhelming evidence this results in vast death. But It is “scientism” to suggest that this should be contemplated by sane national leaders as affecting potential policy!

“THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO ROLE FOR MORAL AND/OR SUBJECTIVE VALUE JUDGMENTS WITHIN THE SCOPE OF SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY.”

Utter and blithering, stark raving imbecilic nonsense.

First ,science can DISPROVE stupid past assumptions, e.g. in the constraints upon women or minorities to prove their capabilities. And yes, this is the thing trogs fear most.

Second, scientific evidence can be legitimately used to weigh alternatives in public policy. It was scientifically proved that lead poisoning damaged children’s brains. When this fact affected public policy, the lead vanished from gas and it’s statistically proved to be the biggest factor in subsequent drops in crime.
Was it “moral” to choose to follow that evidence and base changes in public policy upon it?

Likewise all the other times science had to disprove nasty, horrible and genuine monsters who, despite mountains of evidence, insisted:

- cars don’t cause smog, so don’t do anything…
- Pollution doesn’t acidify lakes, so don’t do anything…

- tobacco is harmless, so don’t do anything…

Likewise (pasting in) McCarthyism...
Burning Rivers...
The insane War on Drugs...
Vietnam.
Resisting Civil Rights*and hating on MLK...
Resisting Women’s rights...
Supply Side lies and outright theft of trillions...
Resisting easy fixes to the Ozone Layer...

… and on and on and on. No, science doesn’t rule on moral judgements. But it informs the factual basis of policy choices that have moral implications.

And you, sir, are a spectacularly immoral person.

As for treebeard, feh, your zero-sum assumptions only make clear that on these issues you are incapable of thought.

locumranch said...


L admits nothing, but only confirms that the oceanic Bicarbonate Buffering System [H2O + CO2 <---> H + HCO3] has always & will always exist as an acid-base equilibrium, the only prescriptive determinant of an oceanic pH 'ideal' being the dynamic homeostatic balance between reactant & product.

You do understand what the term 'dynamic' means as applied to chemical acid-base equilibria, don't you?

The assumption of prescriptive authority, aka 'absolute knowledge about what certain ideals should, ought or are supposed to be', lends itself to extremely unscientific subjective moral value judgments, and it is this very act of let's make the facts fit the theory prejudgment that has absolutely no role in scientific inquiry.

Must I define the term 'inquiry' for you, also, and explain how amorality in 'scientific inquiry' differs from the practical & morally appropriate application of scientific knowledge?

Scientism is BAD because it arrogates Prescriptive Moral Authority under the pretense of objective scientific neutrality which is exactly the same moral BS that allowed the reigning moral authority of Galileo's time to suppress the heliocentric model.


Best
_____

The Uplift Model is morally suspect, having the potential to put the 'loco' into in loco parentis.

We're talking 'Mommie Dearest' levels of animal abuse here with our fine host ranting about 'no more wine-y herrings' as he beats the vegan-reluctant dolphin within an inch of its life for refusing to eat tofu. I nominate Joan Crawford (by CGI) for the role of David in the feature film.

My bad. I keep forgetting that the Uplift movie has already been made & remade under the title of 'The Island of Dr. Moreau' wherein the good doctor forces Snorky the Dolphin to eat his veggies, perform 75 repetitions of the 'two legs good, flippers bad' chant, and undergo further 'uplift' in the House of Pain.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Scidata: It was a bit jarring to see Isaac Asimov, of all people, forget that the speed of sound was significantly slower than the speed of light.

Alfred Differ said...

At the risk of sounding like locumranch, I think it is important to clear up some definitions.

In English, the primary definition for 'faith' implies 'loyalty to'. Whether it is a person, a transcendent, or a baseball team doesn't matter. 'Faith' is a verb connecting subject to object as in “A is loyal to B”. When used in religious discussions, faith is about loyalty to a higher principle/god/something more than it is a belief in the proposition that this entity/thing exists. For example, I might believe 2+2 is 4, but I'm not loyal to arithmetic.

The conflict between science and religion IS over faith, but it need not be. For example, I don't believe in the existence of God the way Christians do, but I'm still loyal to many smaller ideals they support in organizing our civilization. I prefer to use Science to explain everything that seems to be within its reach, but I try not to use it to morally justify my actions. No need and too much risk of rationalizing what I've already decided is the Right Thing To Do. This use of Science isn't scientism.

There is a wide field of study rooted in ancient philosophy. Pretty much everything we think we know can be traced back to this root (theoretical wisdom) or the other root (practical wisdom). Anything you learn without having to experience it directly is theortical until you acquire experience and make it practical.

Call the theoretical fields 'studies'. Some of them are also 'sciences.' Recognizing that some are sciences is not meant to imply a lesser status for others, but some DO treat them that way. Some sciences have been wildly successful in the last few centuries and practitioners in other studies have occasionally been envious... or curious to apply the tools we've built in sciences to their fields to see if they are useful. Applying science tools to non-science studies isn't inherently bad, but it has risks. When done wrong, the person applying them is guilty of 'scientism'. Mis-application of science procedures/methods/principles to other studies IS scientism.

Anyone who has studied this distinction beyond the typically weak definitions understood in public use has encountered Karl Popper's writing and others in the philosophy of science study. Popper's definition of 'science' is fairly robust, though few could quote it accurately. It comes down to procedures that generate 'objective knowledge' using evolutionary methods and tests on theories that must in some fashion be falsifiable. For example, if your theory can't be proven false, you aren't doing science. You might be doing something else worthy of study, but it isn't science. With these two requirements, Popper drew a line of demarcation that holds up fairly well. It's not perfect, but it is better than the usual working definition many of us give to 'science' that is vulnerable to a 'just another dogma' argument.

My first encounter with scientism was in economics. The error is this. Humans respond in markets to calculations regarding prudence, therefore they optimize for prudence. Homo Economicus instead of Homo Sapiens. At the core of this error is one that occurred in a philosophical field called 'Ethics'. Reducing human motivations to a state function in one virtue and then looking for an 'equation of motion' regarding economic transactions sums up a lot of economic research in the 20th century. The scientism error is that reduction, construction of a state function, derivation of an equation of motion, and failure to recognize the construct as non-falsifiable. Many don't want it to be falsified and express loyalty to their construct, so faith comes back into the picture. It i a very human thing to do, but the scientistic error occurs in earlier steps involving misapplication of science tools.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

In English, the primary definition for 'faith' implies 'loyalty to'. Whether it is a person, a transcendent, or a baseball team doesn't matter. 'Faith' is a verb connecting subject to object as in “A is loyal to B”. When used in religious discussions, faith is about loyalty to a higher principle/god/something more than it is a belief in the proposition that this entity/thing exists. For example, I might believe 2+2 is 4, but I'm not loyal to arithmetic.


You do seem to be engaging in locum's favorite fallacy--stubbornly insisting that words only mean what they started out meaning. I don't take issue with your etymology, but in regular conversation these days, when someone says they have "faith" in a proposition, they typically mean that they believe that proposition to be true, even in the absence of absolute proof. As an example, I have faith that gravity will continue to work as it always has, even though "Past performance is no guarantee of future results." I can't prove that gravity will remain constant, but I'm confident enough to act as if it will. I have faith that it will, which does not imply loyalty--just belief.

"Faith in God", yes that means loyalty. I'll agree with you there. But "Faith that God exists" is a belief in a proposition. It's hard to justify the former without the latter, but the opposite is not true.

A tangent that I've mentioned before, but Dave Sim had a line of dialogue that tried to explain the difference between religion and science thusly: "There is no Church of Newton's Laws in which we give thanks that an object at rest remains at rest until acted on by an outside force. What exactly would we be giving thanks for?" That final sentence can be taken in two ways, and both are significant. "What would be the point of giving such thanks?" and "Why presume that that state of things is better than any alternative?"

David Brin said...

Actually, many sci fi tales have pondered possible ways that science might have been "religion-ized." Asimov portrays it happening to fallen Anacreoneans in FOUNDATION. Wells puts a positive spin of Technocracy in THINGS TO COME. It has happened in real life, in Communist countries and certainly Nazi Germany... and they paid for it by their science turning to shit. Even Ayn Rand, in ANTHEM.

And yet, in the west there are only anecdotal examples of this fool or that one saying or doing something dumb ... and being caught and denounced by peers. Peers who do recite a catechism. one that says: "I might be wrong. Let's find out."

As for a raving imbecile who thinks that shouting a chemical incantation means that he understands ocean and atmospheric chemistry better than 50,000 geniuses who have transformed weather and climate models from a dismal 2 hour 'weather report" to brilliant forecasts of the exactl paths of hurricanes days in advance and TEN DAY general outlooks... well, this is nothing but a jibber-jabber loony. And I invite you all to ignore the fool until at very least he gets back on his vitamins.

mythusmage said...

Of course it is very often a matter where something gets rejected because the notion disturbs the listener, or accepted because it pleases the listener. A creationist for example reject the idea of evolution because he sees it as denying his need to believe in God's special creation. Another may reject the possibility of a great ape other than humans migrating from Asia to North America because he can't see just how that could be possible.

David Brin said...

And... so? Again, only science has taught THAT the phenomenon discussed by mythusmage is a danger to be fretted about and to find ways to overcome.
The mere fact THAT mythusmage conceives of it as a problem to be critiqued is a direct result of the ethos of science.

And the fact that so many people declare they invented such skeptical instincts, instead of thinking "Hm, why am I able to think this?" is the thing I find strangest of all.

mythusmage said...

That wasn't science, Dave, that was fear. For there have ever been times when scientists have declared that something was not possible based on what they knew at the time. Based on observation we could only conclude that Copernicus was wrong. Until, that is, we discovered that the planetary orbits were ovals instead of circles. Nick was still wrong about them being circular, but he was right about our system being Heliocentric.

It wasn't science that taught us that we can't have great apes native to North America, it was scientists who would not accept the possibility that we could be wrong. People in short who forget that the most important word in science is, "oops." We are human and we are capable of putting too much into relying on authority. We had the great advantage in that we discovered the first remains of a tyrannosaurus in North America, then later in Asia. We had evidence the clade started out in Asia, only later to appear in North America. The problem was now to learn just how the line got from one land mass to another.

And keep in mind that the depth of the Bering Strait the last I heard is something like 150 feet. It's shallow, and it won't take much to drain it. Declare you not impossible until you have evidence that it is.

David Brin said...

Sorry, mythusmage, but your insistence that you invented true skepticism and all the scientists are gullible fools seems... unlikely. What IS likely is that you haven't a clue what I was talking about, in my comment before this one. Tell you what. How about you prove me wrong by paraphrasing, in your own words, what you think I meant... then go ahead and demolish it with facvts and logic. That's one of the processes of the enlightenment. Especially science.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

And I invite you all to ignore the fool until at very least he gets back on his vitamins.


If it's the fool I think you mean, I've been ignoring him for months now.

jim said...

As far as Scientism goes many here seem to get upset when I make the banal philosophical point that science doesn’t lead to the truth, it just helps you find useful ideas. So, it does seem to me that some people do kind of treat science as a religion. Although I would say that it is more accurate to say the modern world worships Progress and scientism is one of its preferred propaganda methods.

Jon S. said...

Mythus, if there were great apes native to North America, we'd have solid evidence by now. Not only have the "wilds" been explored more thoroughly than most folks understand (here in the PNW, for instance, there was no way the Army was going to let the Cascades be terra incognita, and a potential security threat, just because parts are "impassable" - nothing's impassable from the air), but as our host has noted before, these days almost everyone carries with them a portable camera and video camera, one whose contents can be uploaded to an unregulated international complex of computers and communication devices. If there were primates here before humans, the evidence would be clear, undeniable, and presented to all of us. Instead, as cameras have proliferated, reports of cryptids have dropped precipitously.

Science does not "deny the possibility" - scientists are delighted to discover their predecessors were wrong about something, because you don't gain fame in the field by reproducing what's gone before, you gain fame by proving they were wrong. (Evidence? Name me three physicists who are famous for demonstrating that Newton was right about everything. I can name, off the top of my head, three who became famous for showing where he was wrong about some things.) The first person to discover apes in North America, living or extinct, will become a near-household name, and have his name used in the scientific label of the species forever. Why would anyone "deny" that?

Jim, science doesn't lead to "the truth" - nothing does, ultimate truth is almost certainly unknowable. What it does do, correctly used, is help carve away the things that aren't true, much as Michelangelo took a block of marble and carved away the bits that didn't look like David. It helps us get closer to "the truth", while understanding that this is a journey with no defined endpoint. And it quite plainly does so with greater effect than any other method humans have ever tried.

jim said...

"What it does do, correctly used, is help carve away the things that aren't true, much as Michelangelo took a block of marble and carved away the bits that didn't look like David. It helps us get closer to "the truth", while understanding that this is a journey with no defined endpoint"

yes that is Karl Popper's propaganda.
But if you replace the words true/ truth with the word useful, you get something more accurate.

Larry Hart said...

@jim,

If carving away the things that are false doesn't get you (incrementally) closer to the truth, then what does? I mean that as a serious question. In your philosophy, what does it mean for something to lead to truth, and what does it better than science does? Or is the question simply nonsensical?

jim said...

Larry, I completely agree with Jon S’s first statement:
“science doesn't lead to "the truth" - nothing does, ultimate truth is almost certainly unknowable.”

I think that science can help you find useful ideas, and I think you agree with that statement. Why do you and many others want to see the useful as true? Why isn’t “useful” enough for you? Could it be some sort of unmet religious need?

Darrell E said...

Science does not require a prior commitment to the natural or against the supernatural. It doesn't even need to consider such questions. Science is simply a methodology that has been developed over time as a way to figure shit out. All it does is query what is. If things that people want to categorize as supernatural can in principle be perceived in any way by humans then science in principle can be used to ascertain useful information about it. And over the centuries it has. If something can't be perceived in any way by humans then the only practical conclusion is that it doesn't exist. If it can be perceived but not yet explained in any useful way, give us time and maybe we'll figure it out, maybe not, but science is the only tool that will have a chance of doing the job. If it's a values question rather than a phenomenon then science can only inform, humans have to decide what they want and that's an area in which other tools certainly can be useful.

All kinds of stuff that used to be considered supernatural no longer are simply because science has returned so much useful information about them that they are now considered too mundane to be supernatural. Religious people like to claim that science can't explain the supernatural. In a way that's true because the concept of supernatural is incoherent. It ain't real. But no matter what you call it, if humans can perceive it then science can too because all science is is a tool that humans use to be able to see better.

I don't think NOMA was ever a good idea. I don't know of any religion that has any particular insight into "why" or "ought" questions nor any that warrant any authority in these matters. But the bigger issue I have is that religion has never, does not now and is unlikely to ever not make "how" claims about our reality. For Christ's sake, a creation story is central to nearly every religion. And no, some of a religion's adherents claiming now, centuries later, that it's all just parables and metaphors isn't a good argument to the contrary. And in any case even enlightened religions these days still regularly cross the line into the other magisteria's territory.

The RCC's a good example. The Catholic Church’s official position regarding the evolution of life on Earth includes the Christian God intervening at a certain point in the course of human evolution. It also includes the Christian God having contrived evolution in such a way that humans were a purposeful, inevitable outcome. The RCC also maintains that Adam & Eve were real people, “monogenism” and all. There are more examples. All of these positions conflict with the Modern Synthesis of Biological Evolution. Not just that they are not supported by the modern science, but that modern science is contrary to them.
The RCC’s official position on modern cosmology is similar. On both cosmology and evolution, neutral on what modern science shows, except where that conflicts with what they have decided are crucial aspects of their religious explanations of reality. This is not acceptance, or understanding even, of what modern science has shown regarding these phenomenon. This is maneuvering to maintain access to authority, wealth and power. It's got nothing to do with honestly trying to figure out our reality.

scidata said...

It's not nice to anthropomorphize Mother Nature. Modern computation is coming close to the ability to put universality to the (serious) test, sort of like Wolfram's cellular automata on steroids. Just like SETI, it's premature to be placing bets. Just run the numbers.

locumranch said...


According to the UCLA climate change course curriculum available at https://atmos.ucla.edu/climate-science-major, these so-called climate science "geniuses" barely qualify as biochemical dilettantes, as opposed to this "raving imbecile" who holds advanced degrees in biochemistry & physiology.

That would make me the biochemical 'expert' here, at least on this particular topic, so in order to dismiss my self-evident biochemical expertise our fine host must argue that advanced scientific degrees DO NOT MATTER because such a belief in Expertism would lead invariably to Credentialism, Scholasticism and (dare I say it?) the Religion of Scientism.

Do you concede, Sir?

I thought not, even though I am forced to concede to Larry_H's brilliant argument that words have little or no formal significance aside from the unique meaning that the individual word user intends, which is why I now offer him a respectful "poopymonkeykunt' in way of apology.

And a Happy Poopymonkeykunt to all and, to all, a Good Night.


Best
____

Science tells us what is, can & cannot be, but it cannot tell us what we 'should', 'ought' or 'are supposed' to do because that is the sole province of Morality.

Larry Hart said...

jim:

“science doesn't lead to "the truth" - nothing does, ultimate truth is almost certainly unknowable.”


Then what's even the point of the concept? If you could know it, what would truth look like?

I mean, I don't believe in unicorns, but I know what the thing is that I'm denying exists. I don't get the idea that you do the same. You deny that truth is perceptible, but you don't explain what it is that you are denying the existence of.


I think that science can help you find useful ideas, and I think you agree with that statement. Why do you and many others want to see the useful as true?


Why don't you want to?

To me, "true" relates to the concept of reliability. If something is true, I can count on it being the case. "If I drop a wrench on a planet with a positive gravity field, I need not see it fall, nor hear it hit the ground, to know that it has in fact fallen." is a true statement. It may or may not be a useful one, but the concepts are not identical.

"It's really hard to win the lottery," is a useful thing to know, but it doesn't tell me what's going to happen if I buy a ticket. "I didn't win the (past) lottery" is a true statement, but not particularly useful in any meaningful way.


Why isn’t “useful” enough for you?


Why isn't "true" enough for you? Why do you have to conflate it with something called "Ultimate truth"?

I'm not sure why you find one term more accurate than the other. Maybe I'm thinking that logical arguments like syllogisms require true statements in order to prove anything.


Could it be some sort of unmet religious need?


Heh. Not even close. But maybe your own religious bias is showing. To me, religion is almost the opposite thing from truth. Christians like to say "Jesus is the Truth," as if those words have any meaning in that order. Maybe if I understood what that declaration is supposed to mean, I would understand what you're getting at.

Larry Hart said...

Darrell E:

Science does not require a prior commitment to the natural or against the supernatural. It doesn't even need to consider such questions.


Well, maybe the reason religious fundies are uncomfortable with science is that it always does seem to find a non-supernatural cause for anything. Which doesn't prove, but yet strongly suggests that there is a non-supernatural cause for everything.

Darrell E said...

Larry Hart,

Yes, I agree. Though like your discussion with jim I might ask what sense of "prove" are we talking about? If we are talking about the formal logic or mathematics sense of "proof" then yes, science doesn't deal in proofs of that kind. If we are talking about "proof" in the sense that people who don't want to give up on a claim despite strong evidence contrary to it will want you to give them "absolute proof," then again yes, science doesn't deal in that. But if we are talking about the colloquial usage of proof such as "proved beyond a reasonable doubt" then I might quibble and say that no, I think science has proven that the supernatural doesn't exist.

Of course that doesn't mean that some good evidence of something supernatural might not show up tomorrow. But, if evidence for something supernatural does show up what's to stop the people who believe in the supernatural from recategorizing the new discovery as natural? After all if there's good evidence for it is it of any more use to them?

David Brin said...

"What it does do, correctly used, is help carve away the things that aren't true, much as Michelangelo took a block of marble and carved away the bits that didn't look like David. It helps us get closer to "the truth", while understanding that this is a journey with no defined endpoint"


In The Transparent Society, I illustrated this revolution in thinking with a little allegory -- a "conversation" between Plato and Galileo. An excerpt from p 146 :


Plato to Galileo --

“Our senses are defective, therefore we cannot discover truth through experience. That chair, for instance. Despite all your gritty ‘experiments’ you will never determine what it is. Not perfectly.
“Empiricism is useless. Therefore give up! Seek the essence of truth through pure reason.”

Galileo to Plato --

“You’re right. My eyesight is poor. My touch is flawed. I will never know with utter perfection what this chair is.
“Nevertheless, I can carve away untruths and wrong theories. I can demolish fancy ‘essences’ and epicycles, and disprove self-hypnotizing incantations.
“With good experiments -- and the helpful criticism of my peers -- I can find out what the chair is not.”

In my theology monograph I say that the Strong Atheists like Dawkins etc hav e NOT proved nonexistence of God. But science does carve away huge swathes of what/where He cannot be. It's like hide-n-seek with occasional giggles from the remaining shadows. And meanwhile, we pick up tools of creation and get lots of practice using them, as if that were intended, all along.

And yes, one of the top values of science is refuting things that are untrue, especially when clung to by established powers to justify themselves. Which makes jim's wrath toward science bizarre, since the refutation of countless assumtions that limited opportunity for billions happened when science proved hoary conventions to be wrong.

But then, jim isn't in this for the progress, but for the sanctimony.

"yes that is Karl Popper's propaganda.
But if you replace the words true/ truth with the word useful, you get something more accurate."

Bah, give us your definition of "true." However you hijack to word, in order to make it impossible for anyone to use it, we'll just have to come up with a new word for facts that are consistent and repeatable by varied honest experimenters. And yes, jim, that makes things "true."

Till closer examination carves away the exceptions as we keep getting better.

David Brin said...

BTW anyone remember when I said biology and chemistry are where science most frequently sees cheaters and fools? (At maybe 1% the rate of cops or lawyers and as much as 0.001% the rate of Wall streeters. Yes that high.)

And againscience matters morally when:

1- it refutes absolutely the rationalizations under which those with privilege have excused keeping potential competitors down.

2- when it supplies facts for use in legitimate arguments by elected leaders over public policies that may themselves have moral results. Like saving the world.

So damn straight, science has applications to morality.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

That is the second definition behind ‘faith’ and the newer one. I do not really mind using it, but I tend to avoid it among friends since I am of the opinion that it confuses things. With Christians all around, I shift words to avoid misunderstandings.

Consider Commandment #2… the one about having no other gods before God. If I say I believe in the proposition behind Evolution theory, many Christians are unbothered. If I say the Book of Genesis was wrong in its account of Creation, they might not be so calm about it. The first involves the second definition of faith. The second involves the first definition and comes across as disloyal. If they know I am an out-of-the-closet atheist, they might dismiss me and my violation of NOMA, but that helps make my point. NOMA is a position that distinguishes the two definitions for faith. Break one and the faithful do not care much… except for the zealots. Break the other and opposition comes from a broader front. If I violate NOMA, they respond as if I am violating Commandment #2.

So… my avoidance of definition #2 for ‘faith’ is about helping the faithful avoid confusing themselves. I want it to be clear to them whether I am speaking about propositions or about loyalty.

As for your ‘faith’ in gravity, I think you will find you are actually using both definitions for ‘faith’. The propositional belief is in the scientific theory. The loyalty is to the culture of science. In the first, you are not violating Commandment #2. In the second, you COULD be depending on how you order your loyalties. It is quite possible to be loyal to a variety of notions, transcendents, cultural aspects, and sports teams. An atheist like me would not have God in the list and would be violating Commandment #1 and #2. Believers can manage it all because #2 is really about loyalty. Place God at the top of one’s loyalties, stick to it, and one is good to go. Such a person will need NOMA, though.

As for Dave Sim, he may have missed the point. One would not be loyal to Newton’s Laws. One would be loyal to Science. That is why I think it is occasionally useful to personify targets of our loyalty even when do not believe the proposition that these personifications exist. It helps clarify what we actually mean. Justice becomes Justicia. Prudence becomes Prudentia. Look at European art from a few centuries ago and you will see these figures portrayed. Look back through my posts and note when I capitalize things and pretend to be using proper nouns. One CAN be loyal to lesser transcendents. Polytheism is quite natural for most of humanity. 8)

Well, maybe the reason religious fundies are uncomfortable with science is that it always does seem to find a non-supernatural cause for anything.

It is more than that. The issue is that we KEEP TRYING to find non-supernatural explanations. THAT is the disloyalty... or betrayal... depending on the person.

Alfred Differ said...

Jim,

I recognize the philosophical branching point where some take the path that science cannot lead to Objective Truth. It is a legit philosophy branch. The problem is that it essentially denies the existence of science. As natural philosophers, we agreed on procedures by which we could argue, refute, and settle issues. We have a rule that is similar to Godwin’s Law. If your argument leads you into a fight with Creation, you lose. Essentially, Creation gets the final say. She never really says what is, but if coaxed the right way, she will occasionally say what is not. This rule and others make up a set of customs we use and with them, we DEFINE truth as objective knowledge that survives an evolutionary process that carves at it, spawns new possibilities, and then carves at them too.

The path you walk is philosophically interesting, but it is not Science. You wind up having to distinguish truth from consistency from belief and many other things in a way that is not useful… to those of us doing science.

The branch point is VERY interesting, though. I have long held the opinion that mathematics is a language, but many hold that it is a science. I point out Popper’s demarcation solution and they simply reject it. That got me curious many years ago as to why they would. What motivated them? It turns out they often desired that there exist at least some A Priori Objective Truths. They usually argue that mathematics is a discovery activity that uncovers some of those truths. Read Thomas Hobbes and the context in which “Leviathan” exists and you can see he was absolutely enamored by Geometry. Not the angles, lines, points, and so on. Euclid’s demonstration of knowledge constructed from very primitive axioms is what captivated him. “Leviathan” was an attempt to extend Euclid’s approach and would qualify as ‘scientism’ IF Mathematics was a science because it is a gross mis-application that led to harm in the fields where the methods were maladapted. Over the years, I’ve concluded that many who want Mathematics to be a science (if they’ve thought hard about it) are usually captivated in a similar way.

Axiomatic approaches to knowledge discovery ARE stunningly beautiful. Layer on top the abstractions that emerge when we squint at the discoveries and note patterns and the whole system quickly goes recursive. However, one gets something very similar whether mathematics is language or science. In fact, those structures emerge on different paths from the branching point. We simply call things by different names with different definitions, but the abstractions still overlap. Is mathematical truth the same as mathematical consistency? Well… there is a whole field in philosophy devoted to mathematics, so there is no simple answer.

Larry Hart said...

jim:

yes that is Karl Popper's propaganda.
But if you replace the words true/ truth with the word useful, you get something more accurate.


I could live with replacing "true" with "reliable". That's more in line with how I'm using it anyway. But I don't require that "true" mean something transcendent like "Ultimate Truth", so I'm not clear what the big whoop is. To me, if a proposition is necessarily correct, then it is true. If the word means something different to you, it would help if you'd explain what that is.

TCB said...

@ Alfred Differ, I refer you to Eugene Wigner's famous observation of 'The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences'. I think there are a couple of ways to reconcile this: perhaps our world is mathematically generated, as in, a simulation, deliberately created, OR (I suspect) 'self-generated', as in, 'works like a simulation but happens spontaneously out of nothing but implied possible relationships'.

In that second view, mathematics would be a human-created language, BUT isomorphic to the same rules of relationship that govern the natural sciences. A good example of this is the Fibonacci patterns of sunflower seeds. Why do sunflower seeds arrange themselves in a pattern that can be described by a famous mathematical series? Ultimately, it's because efficient packing must confer evolutionary advantages, and efficient packing is isomorphic to a mathematical pattern.

We can imagine mathematicians competing to create inefficient, inelegant math solutions to problems, but that is not how they do, and why would they?

...a mathematician, after all, is a living structure, too...

As for myself, I do not necessarily Desire that there be A Priori Objective Truths... I simply assume there MUST be, a few anyway... perhaps I lack Imagination, but... I kinda doubt that I do.

mythusmage said...

I'm seeing a huge flaw with Blogger, a flaw in that you can reply to specific comments. But to address at least two...

And what threat do the sasquatch pose to the U.S. military? They have more important things to worry about that a bunch of apes.

And no great apes in North America? Last I heard the U.S. has something like 350 million of them, and some of them are descended from specimens who walked across Beringia back when the water was a lot lower.

And Dave, when you address somebody address the person, not your fantasy of him.

scidata said...

...a mathematician, after all, is a living structure, too...

That's a rather efficient statement of Wolfram's Principle of Computational Equivalence (PCE). Which actually goes back to Turing, Church, and Gödel, even Planck. Anthropo... never mind.

mythusmage said...

Make that *can't* reply to specific comments.

Alfred Differ said...

locumranch,

Are you trying to make the case that an undergrad degree (like a BS) would qualify a climate science researcher?


When I got my Physics BS, I got a chance to look at the local teaching requirements a friend of mine faced in order to teach HS physics and other science classes. I came to understand why many local professors preferred their students skip HS physics. I thought I knew enough at the time to teach the subject far better.

Then I got to grad school and realized I didn't know shit. By the end of that period, I knew more, but I wasn't going to make the same mistake. Instead, I made a different mistake by thinking I was ready to do independent research in my field.

Oops. Since then I've learned the value of post-doc appointments, joining research teams, and simply maturing as a person. I've also learned there is no particular degree/credential that matters. People who are ready to do independent research are recognizable to others who are also ready. People who get how science actually works stand out too... to those of us who get it.

There are no secret handshakes, transfers of divine knowledge, or universally accepted initiation rights. We can still recognize one another, though. Just talk. It's like hearing accents.


You've probably taken a lot more chemistry than I ever did. I looked at the students in college learning organic chem and said 'bleh'. I still wound up learning some of it, though. Epigenetic switching is a matter of methylation. Cooking eggs involves denaturing proteins and letting them re-bond with neighbors until the texture is palatable. Live long enough and you pick up some chemistry. Live long enough and learn quantum mechanics from a physics perspective, and you can follow basic instructions from one's doctor. Why Tylenol instead of ibuprofen? Metabolites cleaned up by the Liver instead of Kidneys? Oh. Okay. No sense pressuring my GFR score.

None of that is much help with the basics of climate science, though. That all starts with basic physics and the very unfriendly problem of solving Navier-Stokes problems and then layers on inputs involve biology, in-organic chemistry, and astronomy. Don't forget the heat source in the models. 8)


A BS isn't going to cut it, but it IS a start.

David Brin said...

Re talking to the religious... I've linked below to this older talk of mine:
Science-friendly theology? At the Singularity Summit 2011 I gave a talk to all those folks who think that technology will soon empower us to construct super-intelligent artificial intelligences, or perfect intelligence enhancing implants, or even cheat death. The title: "So you want to make gods. Now why would that bother anybody?" http://tinyurl.com/3lbyybv

mythusmage, did you just call me "Dave"? I challenged you to paraphrase my statement, to see if you were addressing an accurate version or a strawman. Instead of standing up to that challenge, you try the trick "hen you address somebody address the person, not your fantasy of him."

Um... I asked you first.

David Brin said...

scidata I know Wolfram?

As for threading comments, I was a member of the very first community to test methods of hyper-forum discussion, some of which have never made it onscreen even yet. But no surprise. My patents give me rights of a dozen conversational methods that humans (great apes) use in direct communication and none of them have appeared online... except recently in a few video game worlds.

Alfred, why bother? He's off the deep end. I will say that the climate/weather guys do more than grasp chemical reactions and Navier-Stokes equations. They work closely with the most advanced cybernetics experts to create finely meshed cellular models that have achieved stunning success.
Vast amounts of money are involved with both cooperative and competitive teams improving models at a huge rate. But oh, Hannity's ditto-heads know so much more.

Alfred Differ said...

@TCB, I think I have a copy of Wigner’s material on my shelves somewhere. Been awhile. I seem to recall an article that addressed the unreasonable effectiveness of Reductionism in Science too, but that too has been awhile.

I tend to stick to the notion that the universe is computational, but I cannot imagine how it could be a simulation. I expect it is quantum computational and that is rather different. Self-generated? Sure. Why not.

As a language, though, the apparent isomorphism is just a selection bias. Of course mathematics works so well. That is how we perceive things. Language provides crude ‘eye spot’ sensors looking inward at our minds. The sensor is the perceptor in actual use, so a calculus student will ‘see’ gradients as they walk across hilly terrain and divergences/curls when they fill and drain a bathtub. We use language to communicate, but it would not work if it did not also provide the perceptors.

We can imagine mathematicians competing to create inefficient, inelegant math solutions to problems, but that is not how they do, and why would they?

I am sure they will someday. Musicians have managed to produce stuff for which I cannot find the motivation to listen. Mathematicians may go there too… someday. Until then, I see them as poets developing structures of consistency. The rest of us use mathematics in prose form most of the time (in calculations) or re-use existing structures when we want to take shortcuts or support an argument (in proofs). People doing word problems are translating in both directions. People who learn basic group theory realize multiplication is not multiple addition (that only works on certain types of numbers) and division is not sharing (it is closer to ‘measurement’).

I think mathematics is wonderfully richer if we reject it as science and accept it as human language. With it, we can speak of many thing ranging from emptiness to infinities. We can reflect upon ourselves in a way no other natural language supports well. Heh. We can even talk about what humans actually do when we love each other. Not lust… just love. As language tools go, I think mathematics is the most powerful one humans ever invented.

scidata said...

Re: Wolfram

His PCE is a good example of what I said before about scientists being extremely cautious and introspective/circumspect. I don't suffer from such contraints :) so I'll just say it plainly: computation is all there is. Everything else (consciousness, intelligence, math, logic, science) emerges from computation. I've even begun to think that evolution does too, which simplifies a motto I've used for decades - the universe is a realm of computation and evolution. I also used to say, "May the FORTH be with you". Too esoteric. I now just say, Calculemus!

Re: BS not enough
Of course that's right, PhDs in biology/neurology and Computer Science would help greatly too. Perhaps when the average lifespan exceeds 100. Or when AGI arrives...

opit said...

Larry Hart

"Well, maybe the reason religious fundies are uncomfortable with science is that it always does seem to find a non-supernatural cause for anything. Which doesn't prove, but yet strongly suggests that there is a non-supernatural cause for everything."

Let me bore you with a personal anecdote.
I have rubbed shoulders with 'the religious' as friends and neighbours for many years. An uncle declared at my tender age of 12 that I would be 'damned to Hell' - something my priest father took exception to. There were days I wondered if the twit might not have a point.
My wife and I were sharing Christmas dinner with friends as invited guests of the choir director and his wife ( who had done it before him but was interrupted by motherhood ). She and her husband were notable for the way they integrated prayer and faith into their lives as if it was the most natural and expected situation. Their VW beetle and prayer were credited with getting them home many times when the fuel should have run out long before they made it - as an example.
We were not going to have been invited for that Christmas meal for the good and sufficient reason they did not have a bird to roast - and could not afford one. My wife and a friend thought that a shame - and had me sneak a turkey into their woodbox.
The thing was that Bert did not even notice the bag when he went for fuel. It snowed overnight. And sure enough, it being right on top, the nest day he gleefully accepted the miraculous bounty.
I happened to be asked by the Mrs. if I did not think such an event was not a miracle. She engaged in raucous peals of laughter when I conceded the point.
I felt I had been pranked - and not by her.

In elementary school years before the teacher was instructing on the recognition of double negatives. I enquired as to whether doing it twice would comprise a conundrum negating the effect. Specifically I was told not to treat grammer by the rules of mathematics.
I am reminded of that when the growing reliability of weather forecasting is used as a rhetorical point substantiating the authority of scientific method as applied to 'climate science.' That is very interesting given the past damning of TV weathermen as 'climate skeptics' not to be allowed their personal opinions be included as broadcast content. John Coleman certainly would be an interesting case in point - founder of the Weather Network and outspoken scoffer about any proposition that conditions in the far future could be reliably projected forward. Nor can there be any data on things which have not happened.
Talk of 'scientific consensus' at such times should meet all criteria for 'scientism', bafflegab and bullshit.

Alfred Differ said...

David,

Why bother? I like to give doctors a little bit of room... or maybe a little bit of rope. Sometimes a bit of both. Lots of us think we know more than we do, but some of us have experience repeatedly guessing wrong... and learning from it. I don't mind admitting to it, so maybe that will help others beside the particular doctor I aimed at.

I remember many years ago getting a piece of financial advice. The story teller suggested that I listen to what doctors thought were good investment opportunities, and then short them. That's what you do before you get out of the market completely if your building janitor starts offering investment advice. 8)

Doctors think they know so much... and they do... in their field. They've put in a lot of effort to prove it. What's usually missing (you know it) is that self-critical layer we should have taught them as they passed through our science classes. "I could be wrong. Let's find out." is very different from "I could have the wrong answer. Let's find it in the answer book." They learn to be the answer book for their patients and think we do the same. If there is even a slim chance of poking one of them to notice that we aren't in that game, I'm willing to 'splain it. Doctors have saved my life more than once... so I'm willing.

TCB said...

@ Alfred, Mmmmmmmm yeah that's the good stuff, I like what you're saying.

... I do want to add that I have read that math and writing, in their earliest, primitive forms, were used mainly for the most venal reasons. "I own this many cows, and this much land in Shuruppak, and Enlil owes me this many cows." The poetry and literature come later...

David Brin said...

opit on an evening when Alfred is opining-forth, your stories still get top prize today.

Though I still miss Catfish n' Cod.

Larry Hart said...

opit:

John Coleman certainly would be an interesting case in point - founder of the Weather Network and outspoken scoffer about any proposition that conditions in the far future could be reliably projected forward.


I grew up in Chicago in the 60s, so I'm well familiar with John Coleman, although I lost track of him after he left broadcast tv.

It sounds as if he was scoffing at the notion that one could predict whether it's going to rain in a particular suburb a hundred years from today. That's quite a different thing from predicting rising ocean levels and more extreme storm activity as a result of a warming atmosphere.


Nor can there be any data on things which have not happened.


"If I drop a wrench on a planet with a positive gravity field, I need not see it fall, nor hear it hit the ground, to know that it has in fact fallen."

Alfred Differ said...

Scidata is the Forth fan. I learned Basic, Fortran, COBOL, and then ran away until the 90’s when companies were throwing money at anyone willing to develop crappy apps. 8)

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
All my cows
Are belong to you.

The early poetry was in how they wrote things.

opit said...

" it supplies facts for use in legitimate arguments by elected leaders over public policies that may themselves have moral results. Like saving the world."
Political 'leaders' have themselves a use more for 'justification - even specious or false - than abstract truth. That was a concern driving Dr. Roger A. Pielke Jr. to write about the need for an Honest Broker. Whatever you think of his antics, I would hope Christopher Monckton would agree. And certainly, a science adviser with an unfortunate name also had terrible timing when he noted publicly that policy punishing people for what they chose to use in their own bodies was poorly to erroneously founded. Dr. Nutt of the UK went so far as to establish a website criticizing assessments of drug harms.
I do not know how 'truth' is to be established in an arena where speaking truth to power is muzzled and mocked. That is about as far from 'scientific method' and by its results is as far removed as it is possible to get.

opit said...

About John Coleman His was 'an inconvenient truth' to prophets of doom. I rephrase 'the sky is falling' to be 'the sky is on fire and we is gonna fry !' ( or not ). His presentation is doubtless more polished than mine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aq3LS4BVSA0

scidata said...

John Coleman hijacked the term 'skeptic', painting himself as a lone voice of rationalism in a throng of climate change fanatics. The only antidote for this is widespread scientific literacy. This effort ain't fast, easy, or cheap. Hardest of all, it requires significant effort on the part of the individual citizen to educate themselves, Asimov style. And industry/governments are nigh on useless or worse.


Re: Forth

I first learned assembly language (the only game in town). Then Forth, Fortran, BASIC, Pascal, Lisp, Smalltalk, SQL and other specialized Turing-incomplete languages, Prolog, Haskell, Scala, some others few have heard of, mainly for professional advancement. I rolled a few of my own too.

I returned to Forth because it allowed a Turing-complete implementation in 512 bytes. It's the only hope of a language that could be injected into daisies and synthetic cells. It's the key feature of a computer language if it is to achieve lunchbox ubiquity. Seymour Papert and Janet Wing extolled computational thinking, always being careful to say they weren't trying to make humans think like machines. Well, that is exactly what I am trying to do. If apes can bolt on a computer (and unbolt it too whenever they please), you no longer have apes - you have true computational thinkers. It's a form of entirely voluntary, homo sapiens 'uplift'. I'm talking about a handheld device, not surgery.

BTW this is not my idea. Others were on this path long before I showed up. Perhaps even our host, although I hesitate to appropriate his "Why Johnny Can't Code" - it stands on its own merits. And I'm not a whack job transhumanist loner. I'm actually quite fun at parties, I'm married with (grown) children, and I play nice with others.

Larry Hart said...

opit:

In elementary school years before the teacher was instructing on the recognition of double negatives. I enquired as to whether doing it twice would comprise a conundrum negating the effect. Specifically I was told not to treat grammer by the rules of mathematics.


I think I have an unusual opinion on the rule not to use double-negatives.

Many say that a double-negative should not be used to mean the negative, because the second negative reverses the meaning. "I can't get no satisfaction" means that he can get satisfaction. That sort of thing. In this view, the double-negative has a specific meaning, but most people are using it incorrectly.

Others say that the double-negative merely adds emphasis to the negative, in much the way one might say "I can not--repeat NOT--get satisfaction!" In this view, the double-negative is a perfectly Cromulent usage (to mangle a Simpsons reference).

In my view, the whole reason one should stay away from double-negatives is precisely because the meaning is ambiguous. It's not that one interpretation or the other is correct, but that it can confuse the listener/reader no matter which way you mean it.


I am reminded of that when the growing reliability of weather forecasting is used as a rhetorical point substantiating the authority of scientific method as applied to 'climate science.' That is very interesting given the past damning of TV weathermen as 'climate skeptics' not to be allowed their personal opinions be included as broadcast content. John Coleman certainly would be an interesting case in point - founder of the Weather Network and outspoken scoffer about any proposition that conditions in the far future could be reliably projected forward. Nor can there be any data on things which have not happened.


I'm not sure I'm reading your tone correctly, but you seem to be on the climate skeptics' side--not necessarily denying climate change, but scoffing at the notion that we can predict it. Does the fact that the scenario is playing out before our eyes change any of that?

opit said...

"but scoffing at the notion that we can predict it"
More precisely I would say scoffing at the notion we can demonstrate that we can correctly predict it. Years ago, for instance. Roger A. Pielke Sr. tried to ( information from his weblog ) predict the snowpack in the High Sierras. He was frustrated by unpredictable failure of the models and concluded the process was demonstrated fruitless.
It isn't just a matter as simple as dropping a spanner into a gravity well and concluding it will fall. If one was to go to the website of Dr. Tim Ball, for instance, one would rapidly be introduced to the idea that in geological time there has been no connection between levels of CO2 except one where, centuries after a warm period, levels would rise. Since the coldest parts of ice ages were often times of high concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, there is a disconnect between CO2 and being a cause of climate action, rather than a result.
It isn't as if only one source notes this effect.
425,000 years - no temperature/CO2 level correlation http://www.co2science.org/articles/V21/sep/a13.php?fbclid=IwAR3O_fSiyDaNJLL5MYe-U0Q_rXBRETYsR0dHUiLmTEKs1zXxRIfuoP7Qtbk
Nor do all such comments fall in the 'distant past'. :)
90 Italian scientists : CO2 impact on climate exaggerated
https://notrickszone.com/2019/07/04/90-leading-italian-scientists-sign-petition-co2-impact-on-climate-unjustifiably-exaggerated-catastrophic-predictions-not-realistic/
Responsiveness of atmospheric C02 to fossil fuel emissions
https://greatclimatedebate.com/wp-content/uploads/Munshi_RESPONSIVENESS-OF-ATM-CO2-TO-FF-EMISSIONS-UPDATE-3.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2Rf32dwFbzwOKncGhsjxGV6HgjtmohFxZbe5or86LwsEyl0fMGWsWZv_Y
I could continue almost endlessly, but I have made the point that certainty of process is an overhyped promotion of a flawed premise - Appeal to Authority.

jim said...


"If I drop a wrench on a planet with a positive gravity field, I need not see it fall, nor hear it hit the ground, to know that it has in fact fallen."

Really Mr. Vulcan????

What if there is a string attached to the hammer and the ceiling?

What if the hammer is made of steel and there is a huge magnet above that will pull the hammer up if it is let go?

Or if the person is standing in one of those sky diving rigs with the air blowing strong enough to blow you upwards?

Or if you are on a train accelerating at 10 g's?

Or if I go and grab the hammer as you let go?

Or if I disintegrate the hammer with a phaser?

or if the air was filled with utility fog and I activate them to prevent the hammer form falling?

Larry Hart said...

@Jim,

The operative words are "If I drop..."

If the hammer drops, then it has in fact fallen (some small distance), no matter what happens to it on the way down.

If the hammer is immediately pulled upward by an outside force, then he hasn't "dropped" it. Not technically, anyway.

jim said...

Larry
Just having some fun with Mr. Vulcan ;-)

Jon S. said...

Mythus, the point is that the United States military was not going to leave anyplace large enough to contain a foreign listening post near the Yakima Test Range unchecked. If there were sasquatches in the mountains, they would have been found during this process. (Spoiler: they weren't.)

Larry, the line about "nothing leading to The Truth" was mine. I was attempting to point out that Jim's insistence that "science doesn't lead to The Truth" was essentially unimportant - nothing tells you what is absolutely TRUE, but that doesn't stop you from learning what is False, which is at least as important. Science is a tool we can use to eliminate the False, so that what we know is closer to True. And it certainly works much better for this than faith or the texts of the ancients.

Alfred, I see some merit in regarding mathematics as a language. It's useful in describing reality, certainly much more so than less precise languages like English. However, its results can be manipulated by one's choice of axioms at the outset, much as the accuracy of one's use of English might depend on whether you use the latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary or the one assembled back in the day by ol' Daniel Webster.

Larry Hart said...

jim:

Just having some fun with Mr. Vulcan ;-)


Likewise.

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

I was attempting to point out that Jim's insistence that "science doesn't lead to The Truth" was essentially unimportant - nothing tells you what is absolutely TRUE, but that doesn't stop you from learning what is False, which is at least as important. Science is a tool we can use to eliminate the False, so that what we know is closer to True.


I guess that's where I was going too. The opposite view seems to be that since we never get to absolute truth, we never get closer either. To me, it seems self-evident that ruling out what is false has to get one closer to truth than you were before.

We don't know the exact shape of the earth, but that doesn't mean it might just as easily be a cube or a pyramid.

scidata said...

There's an Asimov for that
http://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/RelativityofWrong.htm

A.F. Rey said...

It isn't just a matter as simple as dropping a spanner into a gravity well and concluding it will fall.

Actually, opit, it is a simple as that.

CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases keep this planet warm (else we would be as hot/cold as the moon). If you increase the amount of greenhouse gases, or even a single greenhouse gas, in the atmosphere, what is the inevitable result?

Now, there are many related factors that skew the process so it is not a simple linear relationship: CO2 and heat absorption by the oceans, increased heat creating more clouds, various feedbacks such as reflecting ice melting, etc. So the exact of rate of this heating is unclear, and perhaps unknowable since the climate system is inherently a chaotic system. But the basic outcome is quite simple and straightforward.

Increase greenhouse gases, increase Earth's temperature. Increased temperature leads to a change in climate.

There is no doubt about the journey's end, only the specific path for that journey.

opit said...

Except, of course,if another mechanism will give you the same result. That would be from atmospheric pressure causing heating, irrespective of the component elements ( even a trace gas ).
It is weird to have you represent the exact same certainty about an unprovable mechanism as a retort and rebuttal to my objection that there can be none such. It was as recently as 2015 I first saw any reference to any sort of 'proof' of greenhouse gas process, even though the IPCC ( a division of UN meteorology ) was formed to promote government policy based on that assumption back in 1988. This despite a total lack of observation of a 'hot spot' aloft from thousands of radiosondes.
Here is one rather disconcerting note about that idea.
Since its origins, the IPCC has been open and explicit about seeking to generate a ‘scientific consensus’ around climate change and especially about the role of humans in climate change
http://fabiusmaximus.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/18115/

locumranch said...


Our fine host is a DENIER of sorts, as he refuses to accept that there is nothing intrinsically scientific about the currently popular moral positions that he endorses, from his pro-diversity 'Horizons of Inclusion' stance to his non-competitively fair but 'competitive' Reciprocal Accountability positions.

Mostly, he simply contradicts himself from one moment to the next, often by laying claim to the skeptical (as in 'scientific') SOA mindset while simultaneously invoking Appeals to Authority, as exemplified by his climate change argument (which requires the paradoxical acceptance & rejection of authority) and his rejection of one form of minority rule (oligarchy) in favour of yet another form of (technocratic) minority rule.

All around the world, the identity group 'majority' has started to recognise & question these glaring pseudo-scientific inconsistencies, the question being "How does diversity, open borders, minority protections, unrestricted immigration & externally-imposed equality improved the lot of the common first-world citizen?".

The short answer being that it HAS NOT improved the lot of the common first-world citizen because all-of-the-above only serves to WEAKEN the majority position by disrupting democracy by majority rule, the majority advantage, social cohesion, reciprocal accountability & cultural effectiveness.

In this sense, the US Democratic Socialist Party has crossed a bridge too far by (1) proposing free NATIONAL healthcare for non-nationals and (2) supporting abortion rights for STERILE transgender non-women.

And, of course, the Gender Equality Lies just keep on coming as the fake media celebrates the World Cup victory of the US Women's soccer team in a gender-exclusive context, forgetting how this EQUAL BUT SEPARATE (??) 'world class' team was previously defeated by an amateur team composed of under-15 year old boys:

https://www.cbssports.com/soccer/news/a-dallas-fc-under-15-boys-squad-beat-the-u-s-womens-national-team-in-a-scrimmage/

I say we give all these lying liars the progressive EQUALITY that they so desire good & hard by BANNING unequal legal identity group protections across the board, especially in cases of gender, which (in turn) will force these falsely 'empowered' groups of privilege to compete on a fair-equal-level identity-neutral playing field.

I mean, really now, how can the US Legal System tolerate any EQUAL BUT SEPARATE identity group activity after repudiating the EQUAL BUT SEPARATE standard in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) 347 U.S. 483?

And, this my friends, will put an end to pretty much every minority and/or identity-specific advocacy group known to man, from NOW to the the ADL, once SCOTUS demands the inclusion and fair representation of the now-excluded identity group 'majority'.

Check & Mate.


Best

opit said...

locumranch Nowhere near Check and Mate. I am Canadian BTW and quite aware why sex reassignment surgery is funded by Medicare. There was an inconvenient tendency of those suffering from such delusions to off themselves from 'deep dark depression' ( I'm quoting from an old Canadian TV comedy which is followed by 'excess of misery.' ) Rant as you will, social maladjustment resulting from sexual identity ( or politics or religious madness ) is more than a matter of punditry, but shouts out a need for compassion - no matter how sexually challenged one may be by the existence of such trauma.

A.F. Rey said...

You're grasping at straws there, opit. Heating from atmospheric pressure?? I would like to see the evidence for that claim! :)

The Earth's temperature being primarily due to greenhouse gases has been the accepted explanation since the late 1800s. Look it up. This is a theory that has withstood the test of time, and has been applied to other planets to explain their temperatures. (Do you think the temperature on Venus, a planet smaller than ours, is due to atmospheric pressure? ;) )

You should ask yourself why you'd prefer to disbelieve a theory that has a long track record for one that very few, if any, of the experts believe. Are you trying to find the truth, or an excuse?

David Brin said...

I have been known to scan these drivel spews by the flatlander. But seriously. I've simply grown bored.

David Brin said...

There are factors in global temperature other than greenhouse gases. Milankovitch cycles and solar activity and volcanism. But we can choose to affect pollution. That is a public policy matter that should be debated with due respect for facts. Screeching an howling AT facts and fact-users, while cheating to eliminate reasoned policy debate, obeying the 'rule" established by Dennis "friend to boys" Hastert and other now-known child-buggerers and continued at command of a Kremlin-mafiosi and carbon lord murderers... that's betraying our children.

opit said...

" has been applied to other planets to explain their temperatures. "
Actually, it was from astronomical estimates of planetary surface temperatures via adjustment for heat generated from atmospheric mass that I found the idea. I did not originate it ( it started by reading a Twitter post ), but could readily understand the principle as it is demonstrated every winter by the warm Chinook winds heated by pressure differentials when filling a natural basin on the east side of the Rockies by winds from the southwest.
You might understand that reverence for duration of a theory being thought useful may not be scientific. If it is, someone should have notified Dr. Albert Einstein.
It's funny you should mention Venus. I am quite certain I ran across the weblog of a chemist who used the temperature of Venus as a case in point to demonstrate the absurdity of greenhouse gas as a serious proposition. Pity I can't think of who it was, but doubt it much matters in the face of such vehemence ( and Denial ! Let's not forget that ! )

scidata said...

This strange accusation of vehemence, denial, craving for minority rule, etc. is just plain wrong. How many scientists have you actually met and conversed with? They're not at all as crafty and insidious as you claim (I sort of wish they were). It reminds me of conspiracy theories that would require vast numbers of silent-for-life collaborators. Why knit deeply complex conspiracy theories when the vile conduct of so many is plainly visible everywhere you look?

Larry Hart said...

scidata:

There's an Asimov for that


Yes, I've posted that one here before. That's one of my favorites of his non-fiction essays, alongside the one about vitamins, in which he notes, "We've known for centuries that 'oxygen' is a misnomer, but what can you do?"

opit said...

"continued at command of a Kremlin-mafiosi "
It's comments like that which convince foreigners like myself that there ought to be a widespread treatment for paranoid ( parannoyed too ) schizophrenia rampant in the USA ever since the 1940's.
Indeed, there is no difference in kind in subscribing to such culturally conditioned posturing than in ascribing all differences to political disagreements rather than honest assessment. Mind, if it was not for the prolific use of the 'denier' meme ( a dishonest characterization.It is not those who disagree who ignore natural variation. ) I may well not even have noticed the foofaraw as I had been concentrating on the nonsense promoted about the Axis of Evil and the 'real danger' being those without WMD. That is threat assessment worthy of brays of derision.
Nor should one infer from records kept to the degree that change of 1 degree/century augurs badly for the future. Heck, I am not convinced that sporadic measurements of land surface temperature on a water covered planet can generate useful data - nor did I need John Coleman to suggest that. There is a paper analyzing the math for such calculations at the University of Guelph - and it is not supportive.

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. Air pressure causes heating. Sounds like answers I used to get from some of my students. 8)

I made the mistake of teaching them about greenhouse effect and why the ozone layer in our stratosphere was warmer on the same day. Inevitably, they would mash the models together and miscomprehend both on the day of the midterm. Quite a few years went by before I realized I could prevent that confusion by changing how I taught it to them.

Squeeze a gas container fast and it will warm up.
Squeeze it slowly and it won't.
Both wind up the same temperature eventually.
Where does the work go?

Since climate is supposed to be a long term running average of weather, prediction models need not be the same. In a climate model it doesn't matter if the sun is overhead or not when one averages over 30 year periods. One variation that does survive is sunspot activity near solar max. Extra UV alters the thickness of our stratosphere.

Jon S. said...

Opit, it is true that increasing atmospheric pressure can increase temperature. That's why it's warmer at sea level than at a mountaintop, or why you can ski on Mt. Rainier and then go swimming in Puget Sound.

Now, the test - has air pressure increased massively across Earth? No, it has not. Therefore, this cannot be the explanation for increased global temperatures.

That something is possible is not proof that it has happened. Your hypothesis is easily disproved, and were you using the tools of science, would be discarded and something else (greenhouse gases, say) substituted for it. However, you self-evidently have no use for the tools, merely the hijacking of the language of science in order to support a conclusion you would for some reason prefer.

locumranch said...


Setting climate change aside for the moment, Opit's belief that 'transgender surgeries save lives' is unscientific drivel, as suicide rates are actually higher in post-transition transgender individuals than in pre-transition transgender individuals:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-transgender-teen-suicide/trans-teens-much-more-likely-to-attempt-suicide-idUSKCN1LS39K

In & of itself, all-cause gender dysphoria (including transgenderism) increases risk of self-harm by more than 300% over that of the general population:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30009750


Finally, how can those of you who call yourself progressive sit idly by as our fine host continues to promote hate against poor misunderstood Dennis Hastert on the basis of his god-given sexual orientation ?

J'accuse David of the progressive sins of Homophobia & Paedophilophobia.

I guess David's expanded simply does not apply to gays, friends-to-boys, climate change deniers & other deplorables. We may as well throw that unrepentant segregationist cum misogynist Joe Biden out on his ear too while we're at it.

Ready the circular firing squad: The 'Big Tent' is now closed.


Best

David Brin said...

opit, your ability to cling to lazy complacency is like a person in a house full of roiling -choking, superheated smoke shrugging "What fire? I don't see any fire!"
You are a mildly clever person. I know some of the top minds on the planet and yes, in security issues too. There is flame.

A.F. Rey said...

Actually, it was from astronomical estimates of planetary surface temperatures via adjustment for heat generated from atmospheric mass that I found the idea. I did not originate it ( it started by reading a Twitter post ), but could readily understand the principle as it is demonstrated every winter by the warm Chinook winds heated by pressure differentials when filling a natural basin on the east side of the Rockies by winds from the southwest.

Increased temperatures from the pressurization of air coming down from the mountains is a well-known and well-understood phenomenon, opit. In Southern California, it's called the Santa Ana winds. But it takes energy to move those air masses over the mountains. And there is a limit to how much heat gravity alone can create in air.

Besides, the greenhouse phenomenon is equally well-understood. The percentage of infrared light reflected by those gases has been measured in the laboratory. So even if a larger percentage of heat is generated from atmospheric pressure than we imagine, that does not negate the heat from greenhouse gases. At best, it would only add to it.

And it certainly does not explain the recent increase in global temperatures. Has atmospheric pressures increase significantly since the early 1900s? Solar activity hasn't. Neither has volcanism. But atmospheric CO2 has. We've measured it.

The best explanation for the recent increases in global temperatures is CO2. And the best models indicate that further increases will only further increase global temperatures.

When twenty flags point in one direction, and a couple in another, there really is no question which way the wind is blowing. And really no justification to say we don't know.

opit said...

"The best explanation for the recent increases in global temperatures is CO2"
And that is the point at which we part company. It is not as if we have any reasonable expectation for temperature to be static ; heck, the basic data of daily life is enough to give a Mexican Jumping Bean hysterics.
It isn't the Sun. It isn't a function of orbital position.
It is all overwhelmingly controlled by a gas which is so scarce as to almost be a figment of imagination ! Wow. Ever since Bert Rutan tore that apart as a statistical impossibility and The Right Stuff ( NASA Atmospheric scientists ) decried 'climate certainty' it was well past time to say "Hey! Such disagreement is inconsistent with consensus !"

TCB said...

@ Jon S, who said "Mythus, the point is that the United States military was not going to leave anyplace large enough to contain a foreign listening post near the Yakima Test Range unchecked. If there were sasquatches in the mountains, they would have been found during this process. (Spoiler: they weren't.)"

There was an episode of Venture Brothers that addressed this very issue!

You see, Brock Samson and Steve Summers SHAVED the sasquatch to get it past the cordon sanitaire checkpoints.

A.F. Rey said...

So I suppose you would consider it a reasonable position if I doubted that a spanner would fall in a gravity well. Because gravity is a weak force. How could such a weak force, almost a figment of the imagination, cause something as massive as a spanner to fall?! ;)

And yet it falls.

If you don't want to face facts, there is nothing anyone can say to convince you.

But that doesn't mean the Earth won't continue to become hotter.

And you will have to excuse me for forcing you to take steps to decrease CO2. Because while it would be just for you to suffer for denial, you will also be forcing my kid to suffer, too. And I won't suffer that.

Larry Hart said...

opit:

And that is the point at which we part company.


Yet, somehow, I get the feeling we won't.

David Brin said...

Okay, opit is in koo-kooland territory. And all we can do is ask his lawyer to come on here and verify that funds have been escrowed for serious wagers. We have discussed several, like the effects of rising atmospheric CO2 on ocean acidification, that are so clearcut that one of you can even offer odds and take home $1000. If he dares to come forward.

opit said...

A. F. Rey "it certainly does not explain the recent increase in global temperatures. Has atmospheric pressures increase significantly since the early 1900s?"
Funny. Except I have never associated an 'increase in atmospheric pressure' as a cause - nor even suggested such. Strawman time.
D. Brin "effects of rising atmospheric CO2 on ocean acidification "
It seems mucking up cause and effect is usual practice. The amount of CO2 in the air is a small enough fraction of air. As compared to liquids in the oceans and its dissolved CO2 it has gone from miniscule to vanished. If ocean CO2 were to outgas somewhat because of rising temperatures - no matter how fractional - it could account for an outpouring of CO2 so as to give you proper hysterics.
Nor is there cause to think that the proportion of dissolved CO2 is capable of being increased, even if there was supply. Acidification of a basal solution in such case exceeds the bounds of reasonable fantasy.

Jon S. said...

Denying he said what he said, then denying basic chemistry.

Yep, opit goes under the shroud.

David Brin said...

Get those stakes escrowed. It is simply not worth my time on guys like you, otherwise. Seriously, don't you like money? If you are sure of this uttermalarkey, you should be eager to take ours! Get those stakes verified and only then will I and others spend time trying to narrow down the actual terms with a clear cultist.

David Brin said...

Oh, but then there was the Bigfoot stuff. Silly me. (Um the killer is not the lack of good photos of living big-feet. It is the lack of any bones. Fossils. Nothing whatsoever, Some ecological niche.

OTOH, you are well-spoken and entertaining and actually kinda funny. So hang around if you like. Just know that we know what we're lookin' at.

opit said...

Seems like a shroud is unnecessary for one who insists on blinders.
The only concession I have made on this thread to 'climate change' is that the putative effects on man's actions seems a wildly overblown premise. In fact, I have avoided what should have been an obvious fact for any thinking person : you do not measure the vector effects of a number of known and unknown causes as if they were a simple perversion arrived at by averaging oscillations so as to 'analyze' change by mathematically removing it.
Static analysis of dynamic process is as ill advised as my using math rules for grammar - and gives one no reason to expect understanding and useful analysis.

Alfred Differ said...

opit,

On any terrestrial planet with an atmosphere that lets in at least some light, the air at the bottom is warm because the ground under it absorbs (is warmed by) sunlight and through contact, conduction transfers the heat. Doesn't matter if it is land, water, or ice except as a matter of degree for how much sunlight gets absorbed.

The air at the bottom STAYS warm if it cannot transfer the heat easily. Thick air (high pressure) might be more opaque. That would do the trick. Human air is definitely more opaque to IR and would hamper heat transfer via radiation. That would do the trick. Carbon dioxide increases create opacity to IR and have a secondary effect of warming air over oceans allowing more water to evaporate. Feedback. That would do the trick.

The air at the top cools because opacity diminishes to the point that radiation escapes. How much energy escapes depends on how warm the air is, though. Cold, dry, thin air might not be opaque, but it only weakly radiates IR.

It is not air pressure that matters. It is opacity. Since we are dealing with temperatures that generate IR radiation, it is opacity to IR that matters when we worry about Earth staying cool. It is opacity and reflectivity to visible light when we worry about Earth's energy inputs.

Here is a non-CO2 example. The 'ozone layer' in the stratosphere is considerably warmer than the air above it and below it. It is warm because a very sparse molecule (ozone) is opaque to soft-UV. Any energy the Sun sends at us in that part of the spectrum has a decent chance of being stopped way up there. Since air is a terrible conductor of heat and atmospheric convection cells up there tend to mix air laterally, the energy dump there has a hard time getting anywhere else. Lots of input, difficult methods of output, and the net result is a warm layer of thin, dry air. Very little ozone is involved, but that's the culprit. Where does this ozone come from, though? Harder UV breaks up O2 occasionally and there is a LOT of that up there.

So... oxygen in the form you can breathe protects you from hard UV and the fragments of that defense produce an oxygen variant (don't breathe it) that protects you from softer UV. We mess with this defense at our peril.




This would all be so much more obvious if our eyes could see other colors beyond red and violet. You'd see the UV blocking fog created by high altitude ozone. You'd see the IR blocking fog created by H20 and CO2. We can almost do this IF you know what you are looking at. Look at distant mountains and ask why they appear washed out some days. Low contrast. The impact H2O has CAN be seen.

Alfred Differ said...

for everyone else...

What I'm offering is intended for use to shape bets. I'm supportive of our host's wager point, but it's hard to lock down terms that can produce a testable wager.

opit said...

". The impact H2O has CAN be seen. "
Indeed. I could look at the coast of Nova Scotia from Seal Cove on Grand Manan Island and see or not see that coast by variations in diffraction caused by H2O. You might note that the effects of rain, albedo change by ice melting, clouds blocking the rays of the sun from reaching the surface of the planet - all these things are ignored when calculating surface irradiation while also ignoring the blocking effect of CO2 in the upper atmosphere ( especially evident during solar flares ). The impact of water definitely can be seen. TY

opit said...

Let's lighten up this thread. I don't think I've seen anything funnier since when I sent a scientist a YouTube link showing a vocal group lamenting the dangers of global warming. His friends loved it. They didn't take it seriously - just broke out the popcorn.
https://vimeo.com/124392955?ref=fb-share&1&fbclid=IwAR1uHvW3IQkiwLx6S0ehJ-RrYXTlfq2Ueygcsh9HJF4hAMYdJ0CTHjO_Ry8

Larry Hart said...

I see. The Ann Coulter school of humor.

No, thanks.

opit said...

Larry Hart Glad you said that. I had never bothered to actually follow up on Anne Coulter's representations. Canadian, remember ? Hilarious. https://youtu.be/oV0H2rDvLfQ

David Brin said...

" you do not measure the vector effects of a number of known and unknown causes as if they were a simple perversion arrived at by averaging oscillations so as to 'analyze' change by mathematically removing it."

Marvelous polysyllabic techy-sounding magical incantation! I have a PhD in astrophysics, was an electrical engineer, and advise many of NASA's most creative grant fellows... and I had to read three times to see what you were driving at... and it is blithering nonsense when applied to any practical field where thousands of skilled experimenters incrementally develop steadily improving models of the world.

Atmospheric scientists and meteorologists have applied deep knowledge of gas-vapor-ocean dynamics, chemistry, radiative transfer and hundreds of other factors in models that are vastly more than theoretical but can predict the paths of hurricanes four days in advance and the general weather TEN whole days ahead, a stunning miracle that you rely on, planning your vacation, or when to plant or harvest. This is not magical incantation, it is a fantastic interplay between advincing theory, modeling and the real world.

And these folks (though not some pretty-face Foc/Sinclair "weather girls") All know damned well there's climate change and very serious disruptions at work that merit sober appraisal and policy action. And the ones financing denialism/delay-ism are those who would lose billions if stopped from pollution killing our planet.

BTW there's also track record. The same political factions yowled that cars don't cause smog, tobacco is harmless, so is lead in gas, and so on. We should start every policy discussion with banning those assholes from the room.

opit said...

"The same political factions yowled that cars don't cause smog, tobacco is harmless, so is lead in gas, and so on. "
See, there's a problem here. I do not consider myself a 'political faction', just a guy who really gets irritated when the same people who chant 'climate is not weather' ( it damn well is. It is a term from the dictionary, not a science text. ) use the progress made in forecasting to justify specious claims they know WTF is going on in the world. With current progress studying dynamic processes in the Sun, the effects of loss of sunspots, invisible but still vital changes in Earth's magnestosphere still being bleeding-edge research,claims of 'understanding' the situation sound far more like excess of presumption and conceit.
Nothing said by either of us will establish that man has knowledge of conditions which have not happened. There can be no measurement nor confirmation - just verbal diarrhea.
Nor is there any concession to cycles like PDO/AMO/ENSO forming boundary conditions which have a huge effect on conditions at any given time.
You may ignore me and mock my perceptions - but there is much more to the program of understanding our world than I ever hear on this forum.
Good day.

duncan cairncross said...

opit

I hear you - but if there is something to all of those collections of letters then WRITE A BLOODY PAPER about them

The wonderful/horrible thing about science is that it's the disruptive people who get the big prizes

So go for it - if there is anything there at all then get a collection of HUNGRY postgrads or postdocs USING it

But there isn't anything there - it has all been looked at by SMART HUNGRY people and nothing to bite on!

opit said...

http://www.kobe-u.ac.jp/research_at_kobe_en/NEWS/news/2019_07_03_01.html
Winter monsoons became stronger during geomagnetic reversal

opit said...

duncan cairncross "There is nothing to bite on !" Exactly. The problem is not with the calculations, but with the suppositions. A chap named Rick Rittel just noted this - and it is much closer to the world I live in.
" the impact of CO2 emissions from humans. The impact is zero. The Radiant Green House Effect defies thermodynamics by saying a cold area ( the atmosphere ) can warm a warm planet. Heat can only be transferred from hot to cold. The models are bogus."

opit said...

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/extremes/scec/records
Look at the years. See the warming ?

David Brin said...

There's a difference between us, Mr. opit. I have pointed to tens of thousands of experts, who are mutually highly competitive and hence in no cabal. And all of them know so vastly more about all of this than you do, that it's like comparing an ant and an elephant.

They aren't lemmings blindly following "accepted wisdom" because scientists are among the most competitive humans ever produced. And many of them got status - and yes lots of money from meteorological customers - by toppling this or that aspect of previous theories.

What do you have? A series of magical incantations that (we can see) make you feel all proudly-gushy logical and erudite... and they are just incantations. The ones that make linguistic sense are in no way true, and I ask you, if you're so sure you are right about your assertions and all the experts are all wrong, to put up stakes and TAKE MY MONEY.

duncan cairncross said...

Opit

"The Radiant Green House Effect defies thermodynamics"

You do know that it's called the "Greenhouse Effect" because it is used to keep MILLIONS of bloody greenhouses warmer than their surroundings -

Larry Hart said...

This never made sense to me even when this line of argument first began. If removing the penalty for non-compliance undermines the tax defense, and therefore would contradict the underpinnings of Obamacare as a whole, that doesn't render Obamacare retroactively unconstitutional. It would be the reduction of the tax to $0 itself that is unconstitutional. That is, if (as was earlier ruled) Congress only has a right to do a thing because it involves a tax, and Congress goes ahead and does that thing, then what it doesn't have the right to do is to remove the tax.

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2019/Pres/Maps/Jul10.html#item-1

If you want an example of a ruling where politics may well come into play, well, that brings us to the good news the administration got yesterday. It was on the Obamacare front, as a three-judge panel on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (which covers Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi) considered a suit brought by nearly two dozen red-state Attorneys General, and backed by Trump. The suit, in a nutshell, is an effort to bring down Obamacare on what certainly appears to be a technicality. SCOTUS previously ruled that the requirement that people have insurance, or else pay an extra tax, was a legal exercise of Congress' authority to levy taxes. In the 2017 tax bill, however, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) & Co. reduced the penalty to $0. The current lawsuit, then, argues that a $0 tax is no tax, and if there is no tax, then SCOTUS' ruling no longer holds. In the initial ruling on the case, Judge Reed Shelton (a Bush 43 appointee) sided with the plaintiffs, and ruled that Obamacare should be struck down. However, Shelton has a particular reputation for being partisan, and that particular ruling was slammed from both sides of the aisle. For example, the director of litigation at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute said it was "embarrassingly bad."

Darrell E said...

opit said...
"A chap named Rick Rittel just noted this - and it is much closer to the world I live in.
" the impact of CO2 emissions from humans. The impact is zero. The Radiant Green House Effect defies thermodynamics by saying a cold area ( the atmosphere ) can warm a warm planet. Heat can only be transferred from hot to cold. The models are bogus.""


Both you and this Rick Rittel chap should be embarrassed. This is sad. You have no clue what science is, what you are up against.

Larry Hart said...

opit:

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/extremes/scec/records
Look at the years. See the warming ?


What you seem to be implying is that, if a region has an unprecedented streak of 100 degree days, that's ok because it hit 125 once back in aught-six, and that hasn't happened again since. So we're actually cooling now.

From that same site:
https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/news/global-climate-201905

Fourth warmest May for globe, record-low Antarctic sea ice extent

Larry Hart said...

Darrell E quotes:

"The Radiant Green House Effect defies thermodynamics by saying a cold area ( the atmosphere ) can warm a warm planet. Heat can only be transferred from hot to cold. The models are bogus."


THAT's what he was gibbering about?

Global warming doesn't mean the atmosphere is causing the planetary mass to warm. It means (among other things) that the atmosphere is the thing getting warmer. That's a different thing, in fact the opposite thing from what he's "refuting".

This sounds like a co-worker of mine who just has to be the smartest person in the room. He tried to argue that all of the laws of thermodynamics actually follow logically from the single proposition (which he wanted to call the Zeroth Law) that heat never flows from cold to hot. He claimed that some 17 year old kid in Britain publicized this, and that scientists all over the world were face-palming, going "Why didn't we think of that?"

I counter-argued that the "heat never flows..." thing is an application of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, not the root cause of it. And it's a simplification at that, because heat self-evidently does flow from cold to hot when acted upon in certain manners (i.e., a refrigerator). Also, that if the story of the 17 year old wunderkind were real, I would have heard about it. When he tried to look up online support for his story, he had to admit it was completely bogus, and that he was misremembering even the parts of the story that had basis in fact.

opit obviously likes to throw grenades into the room and watch the fun ensue. I could get on board with the humor value for awhile, but when he goes for the Ann Coulter-esque "Look at me! I'm daring to say something shockingly impolite!" brand of humor, then no.

jim said...

The discussion with opit just shows why I am so pessimistic about climate change.
30 years after it has been clear that this is a major problem along with 30 more years of increasing clear evidence, we still can’t even agree that it is a problem. Let alone do the heavy work and make the real sacrifices that are necessary to deal with the changes to the climate that we started.

Because we refuse to voluntarily and collectively change our ways, the world around us will force us to change and that will be very unpleasant, with much death and suffering.

scidata said...

The sad part is that as the floods and fires worsen, Voldemort will blame refugees. The sadder part is that his base will agree.

jim said...

scidata
That is one possibility,

But depending on how things get worse I can easily imagine a Green Reign of Terror sweeping the county (world?)after a near famine caused by climate change. And those who are perceived to be part of the problem may end up being fed though a chipper along with their family.

Or a small group of biologist decide that the only way to stop the mass extinction going on is by releasing a weaponized cow pox and become a genocidal saint for the rest of the living world.

opit said...

duncan cairncross "You do know that its called the Greenhouse effect because it is used to keep millions of greenhouses warm".
Obviously, somebody's understanding of energy flow and temperature is worse than mine.
Think of it. If such an effect took place in the open air ( where convection was in play ) then greenhouses could not work.
jim
'after 30 years of increasing clear evidence we cannot agree there is a problem'
Pity Dr. Tim Ball. For almost 50 years he has been trying to explain why it cannot have been accurately presented and analyzed.
https://drtimball.ca https://youtu.be/Owm25OHGglk?t=29
This is often such a kludge of misunderstandings that it really does take a look for underlying reasons why 'debate' gets nowhere. Blaming everything on fossil fuel companies makes limited sense because they will not be the ones paying tax. That will be you and me.
The one calling for honest science has himself been pilloried as a 'denier.' There are no limits when Roger A. Pielke Jr. is mocked because he cannot agree with assessments of a radical problem.
Denis Rancourt ( Activist Teacher.blogspot ) posted the results of a student inquiry into the problem. The title for their conclusions is at least as forthright as Greta's. https://activistteacher.blogspot.com/2011/03/on-gargantuan-lie-of-climate-change.html
David wants me to take a wager on whether my understanding is better than his - or of 'climate professionals.'
A retired old man living in a basement - yes, it is my suite - will not provide you much sport in that regard. I do believe my recalcitrance is not matched by any money prize - and in a country where the rift between poverty and wealth can grow to such heights I have no confidence in representations of social justice. Suffer.
I'm not bitching but at threescoreandtenormore ( more actually ) and retired my tilting at windmills has some constraints ( that was the name of my first commenter in 2005).
If you asked any farmer whether man controlled the weather, he would assess you as daft. I happen to think that's about right.
In a more arcane age we looked to the East for illumination ( enlightenment ).
Climate science violates the basic precepts of science
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/seeing-the-invisible/climate-science-violates-the-basic-precepts-of-science/

jim said...

opit
I really don't care what you think nor do I want to waste time trying to convince you that you are wrong. You are just more evidence that we will not collectively respond to climate change in a preventive manner. Much to the detriment of all.

Larry Hart said...

opit:

If you asked any farmer whether man controlled the weather, he would assess you as daft. I happen to think that's about right.


Affecting the weather is not the same thing as controlling it.

If man controlled the weather, climate change would not be a problem.

I'm still curious enough to ask--we are currently living through an age of unprecedented weather events (polar vortex in Chicago, massive flooding rains, blizzards in April, extended hot spells). Are you saying this is all just part of nature's ebb and flow? Or are you acknowledging that the climate is changing, but arguing that there is no way we could have predicted or prepared for it ahead of time? Despite the accuracy of those who did predict it ahead of time?

locumranch said...


People like Larry_H have the memory of squirrels, so quick to forget the oft-repeated climate science refrain which dismisses record-setting cold winters as random 'weather' that in no way disprove a warming -- sorry -- a CHANGING climate, while they eagerly cite the weather of the 'Fourth warmest May for globe' to support a changing -- sorry -- I mean a WARMING climate.

What part of their incessant 'weather is NOT climate' cant do they not understand?

Of course, Clinton-esque squirrels like this will then invariably argue that the oft-repeated words 'weather is NOT climate' can mean anything that they want them to mean at any particular moment, especially & including 'the opposite thing'.

It's called having your cake & eating it too.


Best

David Brin said...

“What you seem to be implying is that, if a region has an unprecedented streak of 100 degree days, that's ok because it hit 125 once back in aught-six, and that hasn't happened again since. So we're actually cooling now.”

Standard Denialist Cultism. There was a sharp hot-year peak in 1997. Every year afterward, lying bastards like Cruz & Fox etc would say “there’s been no warming, just COOLING for the last…(fill in) fifteen… sixteen… seventeen… years!!!. Which the secular average trend for all years kept climbing higher and higher. Their lying habit was so intense that even after FIVE years in a row exceeded 1997, they kept up the line, like declaring “glaciers are advancing!”

Because, well, they are three types, lying assholes, fanatic assholes and rapacious cynical ones at the top, preserving their carbon kingdoms at all cost.

“A retired old man living in a basement - yes, it is my suite - will not provide you much sport in that regard.”

So you are poverty-privileged? I get it. There is no way to corner you. Your magical incantations are endless along with lists of brave-impudent Youtube Heroes who are standing up to Establishment science. Yay impudent rebels against domineering elites!

Except the “elites you have been suckered into hating are the most competitively honest the world has ever seen, while you suck up to the modern plantation lords who spend billions subsidizing the koolaid that you guzzle.

Please, win the lottery! I hope you’ll get a giant windfall, then face the flat out fact that even then you won’t dare to come to me with wagers over the fatuous nonsense that you spew here, sir.

scidata said...

What a sh@#storm of bafflegab. Anything can be made to sound scientific if you add enough mathematical gilding and jargon. Just find a quiet place, crack open some non-political books (remember them?) and begin learning from first principles, Feynman style. You may not arrive at correct answers soon, or even after a lifetime, but how is that worse than flailing away like frightened child in the dark? Nobody becomes a stable genius without careful study. If you don't have the patience for book-learnin', maybe run some experiments, walk around and observe, or learn how to program computer models. It's fun.

Jon S. said...

"And those who are perceived to be part of the problem may end up being fed though a chipper along with their family."

Well, "eat the rich" makes a nice slogan, but eating them is very unhealthy - there's the fatty-meat issue, if nothing else. "Fertilize edible crops with the rich" is more sensible. Just sayin'.

"Or a small group of biologist decide that the only way to stop the mass extinction going on is by releasing a weaponized cow pox and become a genocidal saint for the rest of the living world."

That's part of the setting of Spider Robinson's first novel, Telempath, except that the Hyperosmic Virus, which massively increased every human being's sense of smell (remember at the time the big bad in the real world was pollution, not global warming), was unleashed by a single person and he was vilified afterward (because it led to mass death, mostly from starvation and suicide).

Alfred Differ said...

jim,

The discussion with opit just shows why I am so pessimistic about climate change.

If you need everyone to understand and be on board, we are $%@#'d. Cheer up, though. Human history doesn't work that way except for when we are at war with each other and have to defend the city walls. 8)

Most of the time you only need a fraction of us to understand the problem and work on solutions. One of the solution elements has to be a trick that enables the ignorant masses to go along with the solution without actually caring. I think Adam Smith described the problem when he compared how much more we care about damage to our pinky finger to millions of deaths caused by an earthquake in China. Unless you are Chinese and live in the area, your ability to care is limited by human nature. It simply doesn't hurt as much. Yet... we can all trade before and after in goods, services, and knowledge and wind up helping them far more than we would fretting about their immediate pain.

The extra solution element that enables the ignorant to help while remaining ignorant has to be something they'll be inclined to do anyway. Our host calls this TWODA. At an absolute minimum, it has to be something they won't object to (much), but it's better if they are willing to participate even if they don't care (much).

If you think we all have to understand and care, you are going to suffer unnecessarily the worries that come from the fact that your preaching won't work. What DOES work is market forces IF you can find a way to make it worth it for people to do the right thing anyway.

So... don't let opit bother you too much. Most of us here understand the danger even if we don't react to it the way you do. Many other people do too. This is how world problems actually get solved. Work at finding the market trick that enables everyone else to do the right thing anyway and even opit will probably wind up helping. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

opit,

The greenhouse roof is about 7 miles up. The exact height is fuzzy and depends on latitude, but it is the tropopause layer. Convection between troposphere and stratosphere doesn't really work.

You live in a greenhouse.
The entire Earth is a greenhouse.

A.F. Rey said...

It occurs to me that opit's idea that pressure is a primary source of heat on our planet perfectly illustrates how science is beneficial to making social decisions.

How would society go about determining if opit's idea was true, and not just another interesting idea that turned out to be false? First thing I would do is appoint a commission.

But who should be on the commission? Fifth-graders who are barely able to read? Dock workers or beach bums? We would probably want primarily people knowledgeable in the subject, i.e. experts, with maybe a few outsiders for perspective.

But commissions can be stacked (cf Donald Trump). So how could we make sure that it wasn't filled with biased or bought-off experts? Open the commission to everyone, of course! You can't buy off everyone. :)

But then there would be a number of people who faked their expertise, are so biased it affects their judgement, and just plain sloppy thinkers. Should they have the same voice as everyone else? Definitely not, by my judgement. So while everyone can have their say, there should be a screening process to de-emphasize those opinions ignore known facts, have obvious illogical steps, or are based on falsified data.

But who does the screening? Make it a popular vote, or allow the commission to appoint gatekeepers to throw out the obviously inferior ideas.

Then let these experts and enthusiastic amateurs work on determining if the idea is true. Allow them to perform tests if they need to. Let them compare notes. Have meetings and discussions to hammer out differences. Let them announce the consensus. And don't have any deadline for the final determination, since new data could change the consensus in the future.

Seriously, can anyone imagine a better way to evaluate a claim, given our limitations as human beings?

It is, of course, the scientific method.

The scientific method evolved from people who wanted to determine, to the best of their ability, what is true and what is false. It incorporates all the best ideas we have. So, if properly done, it will give governments and societies the best judgement on ideas that we have. Which is why it should be utilized whenever possible for making decisions about the facts of the world, especially by governments.

As I said before, can anyone thing of a better way?

jim said...

Well Alfred
This has been a very well know problem for many decades and people and the markets have not invented their way out. As a matter of fact each and every year we have been making the problem worse and almost every year we have been increasing the rate at which we are making the problem worse. Last year was the year in which mankind did the most damage to the global environment in the entire history of the human race, that stat will hold until we get the result from this year.

The situation is already starting to spiral out of control as natural positive feedback loops kick in,
I would not be surprised if this is the last decade of relative stability for industrial civilization.

Larry Hart said...

On the recent subject of evidence and proof, I just synchronistically read this passage in our host's Existence. Page 621 in the paperback:


"In fact, I can tell you that Mei Ling's children will be special," the Neanderthal boy added. "Even though I don't know why. No one can know the future. But some things just leap out. They're obvious."

David Brin said...

Well, LH, I confess I do have a mystical side. I am descended from countless generations of shamans. The temptation to use mystical-seeming metaphors in my fiction - and even nonfiction - is very strong. And yes, it is a powerful form of incantatory magic...

...which is why a recognize incantatory spellcasting so swiftly, where other scientists may not. In fact, I know I am more a spellcaster than scientist. But I can compensate. I incant in service to the only civilization that delivered justice and widespread opportunity and rapid progress and systems for the competitive accountability on cheating and lies and error. I will sing fables and mythologies. But I no longer do it for priests and kings. I try -- and yes, this has been a self-justifying incantation -- I try to do it for us.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

I wasn't dissing you.

I thought that passage was appropriate in that we've been in a discussion about how no one can prove certain things that nonetheless seem (as your character said) obvious. Maybe I'm just part autistic. Or neanderthal. Like any good story, that would explain a lot.

TCB said...

Upthread, opit said: "See, there's a problem here. I do not consider myself a 'political faction', just a guy who really gets irritated when the same people who chant 'climate is not weather' ( it damn well is. It is a term from the dictionary, not a science text.)"

I got this! First off, any human in a political society can be considered a 'political faction'. No avoiding it, really. If you're not in a coma, you must favor some things and disagree with others...

Second, climate is to weather as strategy is to tactics. A tactical problem is small in time and space: How do I and my squad smoke out the Nazis manning that machine gun in that house down the street, preferably within a few minutes? Weather is like that: Here, over the next few hours, it will be hot and sunny, and perhaps rain later.

Climate is long and wide: Where I am right now, the climate has been temperate and warm, with short cold winters, for thousands of years. Strategy is also long and wide: what will become of Eastern Europe after we and the Soviet Union have defeated the Nazis? What will the postwar era look like? What are Soviet intentions in the Baltic? In the Arctic? In the western Pacific? What about in ten years?

Weather is about local and temporary change in the atmosphere's behavior, within well-known parameters.

Climate change means the parameters themselves have changed.

By the way I heard that people stopped saying 'global warming' and started saying 'climate change because of fuckin Frank Luntz, the GOP pollster.

"The phrase "global warming" should be abandoned in favour of "climate change", Mr Luntz says, and the party should describe its policies as "conservationist" instead of "environmentalist", because "most people" think environmentalists are "extremists" who indulge in "some pretty bizarre behaviour... that turns off many voters".

Words such as "common sense" should be used, with pro-business arguments avoided wherever possible.

The environment, the memo says, "is probably the single issue on which Republicans in general - and President Bush in particular - are most vulnerable".

A Republican source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said party strategists agreed with Mr Luntz's conclusion that "many Americans believe Republicans do not care about the environment"."

What anti-life turds they are!

Larry Hart said...

I finally got around to watching that John Coleman video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aq3LS4BVSA0

He uses Alaska in 2012 as an example of a location that was much colder than normal. I remember that, because I was on an Alaskan cruise in July of 2012.* Yes, it was chilly there, especially for July. Because the middle of the country was where all the heat was. When I left Chicago, we had already had several days break 100. When I returned home a week later, it was still breaking 100. And neighbors assured us that it had not cooled off in between.

This past winter was the reverse. Chicago had 2 days which dropped below minus-20 degrees. There had only been 25 such individual days in all of Chicago weather history dating back to the Chicago Fire of 1871, and we just added two more back-to-back. So no global warming, right? Does it matter that, while the Great Lakes were in the polar vortex, every single other place on earth--including Antartica--were warmer than normal?

* More synchronicity--it was on that 2012 cruise that I first read Existence. I even packed the hardcover along in my necessarily-limited luggage because I couldn't wait for the paperback.

David Brin said...

LH I knew you weren't dissing me! I took it as an excuse to go off on a riff, that's all.

The lunacy of denialists can be seen in their cries "See? It's cold in the midwest!" when everywhere else winters are blazing hot, including the notrth pole, and the shift of the arctic winter cold zone TO the US midwest is a SYMPTOM.

It's a lot like the incantations they recite, at the bidding of oligarch-subsidized propaganda, against any form of government regulation of an inherently prone-to-cheating economic system... which is the topic of our next blog.

onward

onward.

A.F. Rey said...

And yes, it is a powerful form of incantatory magic...

...which is why a recognize incantatory spellcasting so swiftly, where other scientists may not.


Ah, yes. The evangelical con-man's greatest threat is a magician, who already knows all the tricks. :)

David Brin said...

Heh!

onward

opit said...

"even then you won’t dare to come to me with wagers over the fatuous nonsense that you spew here, sir. " True. I am not a betting man, nor do I see any oracle around to cut through the fog of representation and determination that the 'truth is known' even if fools won't acknowledge it.
I am that 'fool' and unabashedly recognize it. Fine words and incantations I cannot follow are not demonstration of anything except that I am not the most clever of debators and imagineers. I thought you a fine example of that kind - yes, I have read some Brin sci-fi and noted you were one of the "Three B's" appointed by the Asimov estate.
Doesn't matter. You complain I do not agree with 'experts' and I recall the daffynishun "Unknown drips under pressure."
Reading Robert Forward's imaginings were less trying.
The usual suspects continue to rebel against assimilation.
https://principia-scientific.org/researchers-question-validity-of-a-global-temperature/
With the information I have at hand - and I am have made collecting information from assorted sources for almost a decade now - I could be excused for thinking the Royals lizards with Photoshopping expertise still unmatched in real life or any number of mad ideas like Flat Earth. I see no need to believe any of it, and am quite obstinate that any effort to predict future weather is doomed to futility. Still, new ideas come forward in an endless tide - reassurance that smug superior intellects have not understood all the tricks nature conceals.
There is an old tool of businessmen "Cost - Benefit Analysis"
The only person I see doing anything remotely similar is Christopher Monckton. LOL Isn't that a measure of a farce. Time for sad reality.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBbvehbomrY&fbclid=IwAR1Jiwdd_-J4xgXWysRI0GrnGQzNX8ibF2TzRGAbvim3Km9CG00X_1xMKRA

opit said...

BTW "an inherently prone-to-cheating economic system"
No kidding ! I like the Wikipedia entry for Kleptocracy, especially the subset Narco-Kleptocracy. Yep ; Druglords. The War on Drugs is a triumph of UN sponsored lunacy.

opit said...

"party strategists agreed with Mr Luntz's conclusion that "many Americans believe Republicans do not care about the environment. What anti-life turds they are! "
That would be the strategists ? and polly-ticks, of course - not science. Regardless you would find many wondering about the noise surrounding a natural cycle : animals exhale it and plants utilize CO2 for growth. Since greenhouses utilize CO2 supplementation, you should not be surprised that many people think we have a CO2 drought - and could use more ! Anti-life that is not.

opit said...

"The exact height is fuzzy and depends on latitude"

The other main characteristic of the troposphere is that it is well-mixed. The name troposphere is derived from the Greek tropein, which means to turn or change. Air molecules can travel to the top of the troposphere (about 10 km up) and back down again in a just a few days. This mixing encourages changing weather. The troposphere is bounded above by the tropopause, a boundary marked as the point where the temperature stops decreasing with height and becomes constant with height. Any laye…

See more on sciencescene.com

www.theweatherprediction.com/habyhints/30

In summary, although the average environmental lapse rate is about 6.5 C/km, the lapse rates in the actual troposphere can vary dramatically day to day and day versus night and weather situation to weather situation.
https://www.stason.org/TULARC/science-engineering/climate-change/4-Tropospheric-lapse...

between day and night, from winter to summer. At times and places the air may get warmer higher up (an inversion). Globally averaged, the troposphere, the lower about 10 to 15 km of our atmosphere, gets cooler with height. A typical value cited is 6.5 o C cooling / km of altitude. This is the so-called global mean tropospheric lapse rate
.......................................................................

Does that sound like a setup for reflecting heat back to the surface to you ? In fact, heat is being dissipated with increased elevation.

None of this deals with a 'top' as such, certainly not as significantly as the top of the ocean establishes a boundary layer. Having lived in fog country,I found that layer has a wild effect on temperatures - especially in the morning. Increase in heat will result in - more evaporation. Oops.