December 03, 2009

Also sprach Jerry Pournelle

What does someone with an actual scientific pedigree have to say about Climategate? The inestimable Jerry Pournelle isn't kind. Excerpt:

I studied Philosophy of Science from Gustav Bergmann at the University of Iowa back in the 1950's. Bergmann was one of the last of the old Weiner Kreitz, the Vienna Circle, and he steered his students toward the ideas of Sir Karl Popper; but he had contributions of his own. The most important thing I remember from Bergmann is that if you can't put an experiment into a letter to a competent person, so that your correspondent can repeat the experiment and get the same results, it isn't science. Science isn't a method of finding proof and discovering truth. It is a method for falsifying hypotheses, ruling out falsehood; what's left is accepted as truth because it's all we have. ... We know that the major climate alarm in the 1970's and early 1980's was the fear of a coming Ice Age. Gus Spaeth, Carter's environmental quality advisor, was concerned that nuclear waste depositories be able to withstand glaciation. Margaret Meade as President of AAAS had much to say about the coming bad times as the world began cooling. During the 1980's the speculations of Arrhenius made about 1895 about possible "greenhouse" effects of CO2 began pushing forward, and with increasingly powerful (and cheap) computers climate models became affordable to many academic and scientific institutions. The models began predicting warming, although the data collectors weren't really finding it. The rest is history. There emerged a "consensus" about an "inconvenient truth". Whether that consensus was forced by scientific data or by social engineering is open to question.

Finally we know that one phenomenon of the coldest part of the Little Ice Age was the "Maunder Minimum": a long period of minimal solar activities, characterized by long periods of few to zero sunspots. You can monitor rcent solar activity at .

Given that the science is not settled, and that the economic effect of national policy to counter "climate change" are enormous, simple Bayesian analysis would indicate that we ought to be spending a lot of money to determine just what the climate trend is: and that means funding contrarian studies, studies designed to refute the "consensus" theory, as well as funding the collection of accurate data. This seems an obvious conclusion. It is of course inconvenient to those whose careers have been financed by grants peer reviewed by peers who don't include "deniers."

Just start at the top of the current view and keep on scrolling.

Posted by Physics Geek at December 3, 2009 04:18 PM | TrackBack StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!

If you are not reading him daily, you should be.

Posted by: pdwalker at December 4, 2009 12:57 AM