December 01, 2009

Cogent analysis

People who read me -thanks to both of you- know that I'm more than a little skeptical about the idea that the Earth is burning up and that people are the primary culprits. Not due to the slavish devotion that the idea is shown by its most ardent worshippers (although those people do turn me off quite a bit), but rather due to the complete lack of science on display: the circle jerk of authorities cited as proof of consensus; the hiding of all data and code so as to prevent actual critiquing of the hypothesis; and the obvious attempt on the part of some to enrich themselves by hyping the "crisis" (Al Gore, you asshole, I'm looking at you).

Let's be clear: science is simple. Observe. Hypothesize. Test. Revise hypothesis and retest as necessary. Make data and methods known to see if your results are reproducible. If so, great: you've got a pretty solid theory. If not, well, time to move on. For the record, the AGW's biggest proponents fail on almost all those points. Thus, it isn't science. Also, the attempt to pass if off as science is a different word altogether: fraud

In any event, I'll give Dafydd ab Hugh, posting at the Green Room, the floor for a few. Excerpt:

One week in high school, my all-time second-favorite social studies teacher, Lyle Thornton Wolf, presented us with a fascinating unit:

On Monday, he passed out forty-eight distinct high-school and college level American history textbooks (there being 48 students in the class). Each of us got a different textbook, though some were merely later versions of an earlier text that somebody else had. Each of us took his book home with instructions to read and “brief” (like a lawyer would) the factual events — not interpretations or speculations — recounted in his book about the Boston Massacre.

Then on Wednesday, Mr. Wolf began going through the incident, student by student, making a “comparison table” on the blackboard using every important fact from each book… e.g., the number of colonists killed by the redcoats, the number wounded, how many lobster-backs and Yankee doodles were present, what provocation (if any) did the colonists give to the soldiers, how long the shooting lasted, who was the first shot, and so forth.

As a court trial followed the shootings, and that trial took eyewitness and forensic evidence (future President John Adams defended the soldiers), one would expect nearly all the facts to be reported the same way in every textbook. Not so; there was significant variation in the details taught to students about that infamous eruption of anti-democratic violence.

But Mr. Wolf didn’t stop there, and this was his genius; he was more interested in teaching us good researching skills than specific numbers of people killed in the Boston Massacre. Thus he also made each of us read the footnotes, endnotes, and any other errata indicating the source of the supposed facts reported in his assigned book; he then put up a posterboard list of all the textbook titles arranged like a matrix.

As we reported the sources for each book, Mr. Wolf drew an arrow from the source to the book that cited it. After about ten books, we quickly realized that not a single one of the 48 textbooks cited any primary document or original source material; each cited only other high-school or college textbooks. In fact, only a couple of them cited texts not already in our hands (both times older editions of books we did have).

Worse, the entire set of citations was a snarl of textbook “daisy chains”: Textbook A (let’s say it was the 1962 edition) would have an arrow pointing to B (1964); B pointed to C (1965), which pointed to D (1968)… but D then pointed to a later version of textbook A, say the 1970 edition.

In other words, there was no “ultimate source”: The books just referenced and reinforced each other.

Thus it was hardly a surprise that, variations aside, all the books agreed on the core issues: The colonists were disorderly but didn’t provoke the shooting; no colonist used a firearm; the British were almost entirely to blame; and they only got off because of the eloquence of Adams. The issue was closed; no need to rethink any basic premise. After all, if that interpretation of the data wasn’t perfectly true, what are the odds that all those textbooks would just happen to agree with each other?

This perfectly illustrates how the AGW circle of life jerk begins.

Do I really need to say it?

Posted by Physics Geek at December 1, 2009 11:38 AM | TrackBack StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!

Very well said!

Imagine my frustration, as a meteorologist, trying to explain to anyone who will listen that 1) climate cycles exist but 2) we have nothing to do with them. I've also pointed out that any warming bias in our temperature readings over the last century can easily be explained by the heat island effect (i.e. that temps are measured using instruments that are usually located in the middle of airports, surrounded by acres of concrete that acts as a heat sink.

I've washed my hands of the whole thing. However, I would like to see Algore prosecuted for fraud; perhaps he could be Bernie Madoff's cellmate.

Posted by: D.W. at December 1, 2009 12:55 PM