Crank of the Week - July 27, 2009 - The International Council for Science

We have all become familiar with the sloppy, bureaucracy driven science promulgated by the UN IPCC. Now a another organization, the International Council for Science (ICSU), is vying for leadership in ruining free scientific inquiry world wide. “Natural sciences should no longer dictate the Earth system research agenda,” proclaimed their manifesto, which appeared in the July 17, 2009, issue of Science. “Social sciences will be at least as important in its next phase.”

After praising how the IPCC helped move the issue of global warming from lab benches to national capitals (turning climate science into a political circus in the process) and was recognized for its efforts by the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize (they conspicuously didn't mention Al Gore), a troika of ICSU leaders—Walter V. Reid, chair of the ICSU Earth System Visioning Task Group, Catherine Bréchignac, president of ICSU, and Yuan Tseh Lee, president-elect of ICSU—have plainly stated their future intentions: the creation of a single research framework for the natural sciences world wide. According to them:

In the past, a small group of scientists would be charged with determining the most pressing research questions. But new communication technologies now allow the wisdom and expertise of a far broader global community of natural and social scientists, technology experts, decision-makers, and citizens to play a role.

This is socialist thinking at its finest, instead of that “small group of scientists” being allowed to determine what subjects to investigate, which questions to ask, they will be directed by the “wisdom” of the “broader global community.” A community not just made up of muzzy headed bureaucrats, masquerading as scientists, but by a whole cadre of non-scientists: social scientists, who don't know jack about the physical sciences; technology experts, who presumably have products they will want to sell; decision-makers, meaning politicians and other government functionaries; and citizens, like Al Gore, Sheryl Crow and Bono each with their own personal agendas no doubt. To give their effort a egalitarian sheen the public is invited to comment and “vote” on their website.

“There is an urgent need and a unique window of opportunity to engage, promote, and develop Earth system research for the benefit of society,” said Dr Reid. “This online consultation is the first step towards meeting that need.” According to the ICSU press release on the visioning process, “the current research structures do not provide the integrated approach required to answer the most pressing societal issues—protecting the planet and ensuring sustainable human development.” In other words, we can't let those scientists do whatever they want! No, we need to tell them what they should be working on. After all, look what a bang up job the IPCC has done with global warming.

It's easy to promote a new agenda for others when it is your ideas being promoted—but who said that your ideas are the correct ones? Or the public's opinions for that matter? This past year has seen suggestions about how to obfuscate global warming science using “common climate language” and how to shift the burden for CO2 reduction to individuals by blaming the world's “top billion polluters,” now this. Seems that the Earth systems crowd is trying to cash in before the global warming scare goes bust.

Why is it that these scientists-turned-bureaucrat and social sciences types are always trying to grab control of real working scientists' laboratories and research agendas? Sorry, but science is not an audience participation sport. If you wish to be involved in doing real, meaningful research then forget your degrees in sociology and political science. Get an education in something useful, like physics, chemistry, biology, oceanography, geology, atmospheric physics, solar physics, or paleontology (the list goes on from here). Stop attending politically motivate conferences held by agenda driven organizations and do something useful with your lives.

When will the world's bureaucratic bozos learn that science only works when inquiry is free and unfettered. You can't negotiate with nature, it is what it is, and science is driven by nature. You can tell science what your polls and organizations want it to study, but that has no bearing on what science should study. So, for trying to encumber science with your personal political prejudices, this Crank of the Week is all yours ICSU.

ICSU: Yet another example of what's wrong with research funding

The best research approach is to let scientists "roam" their domain with broad boundaries. The last place I've heard that did this was Bell Labs, which was sold to a European firm from what I understand. The worst research environments are ones that restrict goals. It's not that nothing is produced out of such systems, but this is not an environment that will make significant discoveries.

I said recently in a discussion that science is not obligated to prove or disprove any proposition put before it. I guess ICSU is about changing that. How sad.

"I'm not a scientist, but I play one on TV"

This post explains a lot. I saw a nonsensical opinion column on AGW published in a paper in my area in July, written by a blogger whose hobby is studying climate change. I was so mad I could imagine steam coming out the top of my head. It wasn't because I disagreed with the opinion he was attempting to write about. I'm used to seeing AGW alarmist opinions around here all the time. It was because he inserted his own amateur analysis into it and presented it as "evidence" to support his opinion! He did this using a method of statistical analysis--no science, beyond using historical surface temperature and CO2 records. In fact he admitted as much in the comments that followed the online version of his column. I could not understand how the author could be so audacious as to assume he could get away with this in a paper of record. Didn't they have a standard of only using scientifically derived information when it came to describing what nature was doing? I wrote the opinion editor of the paper to complain. Her response was that the author was not presenting himself as a scientist. She asked if I disputed the data. I did not. That wasn't the point. I tried clarifying with her that it was the method of analysis that bothered me, but I didn't get a response after that. I guess she took his "analysis" to be part of his opinion. What a joke!


The Honourable Nathan Rees is now our first Aussie Crank of the Week. Thanks for the nomination.

Indoctrination 101

Underscoring the bias in intellectual circles, Paul G. Falkowski and Robert M. Goodman have written an editorial in the August 7 issue of Science calling for a major restructuring of America's public universities. Falkowski is a professor and director of the Rutgers Energy Institute, and Goodman is a professor and executive dean of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers. “Three-quarters of students in the United States attend the country's public colleges and universities, but very few of these institutions have vigorous education, research, and outreach programs focused on energy and climate change.” they stated. They propose the creation of a public “energy-grant university system” devoted to energy education and research. “Energy and climate change aren't simply environmental issues; they're also social, economic, and political problems,” said Falkowski and Goodman. “The next generation of leaders must confront these issues.” How better to perpetuate current climate alarmist thinking than to indoctrinate the nation's college students?

Computer Models do not use the Scientific Method

There has been atmospheric cooling the last 8 years, and no new high global annual temperatures in the last 11 years. None of the computer models replicate this fact. Anthropogenic (or man caused) global warming is not proved.

The global warming adherents base their argument of proof on more than 20 different computer models called general circulation models (also known as global climate models or GCMs). Each computer model is composed of dozens of mathematical equations representing known scientific laws, theories, and hypotheses. Each equation has one or more constants. The constants associated with known laws are very well defined. The constants associated with known theories are generally accepted but probably some of them may be off by a factor of 2 or more, maybe even an order of magnitude. The equations representing hypotheses, well, sometimes the hypotheses are just plain wrong. Then each of these equations has to be weighted against each other for use in the computer models, so that adds an additional variable (basically an educated guess) for each law, theory, and hypothesis. This is where the models are tweaked to mimic past climate measurements.

The SCIENTIFIC METHOD is: (1) Following years of academic study of the known physical laws and accepted theories, and after reviewing some data, come up with a hypothesis to explain the data. (2) Develop a plan to obtain and analyze new data. (3) Collect and analyze the data, this may even require new technology not previously available. (4) Determine if the hypothesis is correct, needs refinement, or is wrong. Either way, new data is available for other researchers. (5) Submit results, including data, for peer review and publication.

The output of the computer models run out nearly 90 years forward is considered to be data, but it is not a measurement of a physical phenomenon. Also, there is no way to analyze this so called data to determine if any or which of the hypotheses in the models are correct, need refinement, or are wrong. Also, this method cannot indicate if other new hypotheses need to be generated and incorporated into the models. IT JUST IS NOT THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD.

The worst flaw in the AGW argument is the treatment of GCM computer generated outputs as data. They then use it in follow on hypotheses. For example, if temperature rises by X degrees in 50 years, then Y will be effected in such-and-such a way resulting in Z. Then the next person comes along and says, well, if Z happens, the effect on W will be a catastrophe. “I need (and deserve) more money to study the effects on W.” Hypotheses, stacked on hypotheses, stacked on more hypotheses, all based on computer outputs that are not data, using a process that does not lend to proof using the SCIENTIFIC METHOD. Look at their results, IF, MIGHT, and COULD are used throughout their news making results. And when one of the underlying hypotheses is proven incorrect, well, the public only remembers the doomsday results 2 or three iterations down the hypotheses train. The hypotheses downstream are not automatically thrown out and can even be used for more follow on hypotheses.