Balkinization  

Friday, February 02, 2007

Money can't buy you love, but it might buy you science

JB

The Guardian online reports that the American Enterprise Institute, funded by a generous grant from Exxon and from the Mobil Oil Corporation, has begun offering $10,000 to scientists who are willing to write essays that call into question the findings on a recently released UN report on global warming.
Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Travel expenses and additional payments were also offered.

Who can blame the AEI, really? What is free enterprise but the ability of individuals and organizations to offer and to supply services that other individuals and organizations might want? Businesses need scientific credibility so that they can better rebut the conclusions of scientists that undermine their favored business models. The AEI, a think tank, which, as its name implies, is not entirely averse to the promotion of American business interests, is happy to spread some cash around in search of worthy scientists who will say what Exxon and Mobil already believe. It's a simple case of demand meeting supply.

I know what you are probably thinking: This is not simply the meeting of supply and demand; it is a thinly veiled attempt to undermine the integrity of professional and scientific norms. Professionalism, you will say, is distinct from mere market clearing behavior. It is not directed at the satisfaction of revealed preferences in a market; rather it seeks truth according to recognized standards of professional inquiry; it promotes professional integrity over profit maximization.

Perhaps all that is so. But who is to say that there are not scientists out there who would find an extra $10,000 completely consistent with their understandings of professional integrity? Perhaps there is a body of scientists who believe that the threat of global warming is not very serious or is not due to human economic activity, and perhaps they have been heretofore silenced by the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community to the contrary. Naturally, they are a bit shy about expressing their views. An extra 10,000 dollars, at the margin, might be just enough to overcome their natural diffidence.

Understood in this way, the AEI is not undermining science or professional integrity. Far from it. Rather, the AEI is engaged in an exercise in scientific empowerment, the sort of scientific empowerment that also supports the interests and positions of the corporations that contribute to the American Enterprise Institute. It's a win-win proposition. Who among us can be against such a positive-sum game?


Comments:

Exactly what kind of science does AEI hope to buy for a piddly $10,000? With literally billions of dollars available to greenhouse gas theory proponents, AEI is being exponentially outbid in buying scientific opinion on global warming. Heck, Al Gore gets paid more for a single speech gracing us with his "scientific expertise" on the subject.
 

Dr. Richard S. Lindzen is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a global warming skeptic...

Ross Gelbspan, journalist and author, wrote a 1995 article in Harper's Magazine which was very critical of Lindzen and other global warming skeptics. In the article, Gelbspan reports Lindzen charged "oil and coal interests $2,500 a day for his consulting services; [and] his 1991 trip to testify before a Senate committee was paid for by Western Fuels and a speech he wrote, entitled 'Global Warming: the Origin and Nature of Alleged Scientific Consensus,' was underwritten by OPEC."

In November 2004, climate change skeptic Richard Lindzen was quoted saying he'd be willing to bet that the earth's climate will be cooler in 20 years than it is today. When British climate researcher James Annan contacted him, however, Lindzen would only agree to take the bet if Annan offered a 50-to-1 payout. Subsequent offers of a wager were also refused by Pat Michaels, Chip Knappenberger, Piers Corbyn, Myron Ebell, Zbigniew Jaworowski, Sherwood Idso and William Kininmonth. At long last, however, Annan has persuaded Russian solar physicists Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev to take a $10,000 bet. "There isn't much money in climate science and I'm still looking for that gold watch at retirement," Annan says. "A pay-off would be a nice top-up to my pension."

 

Supply and demand have to fall within market norms, norms typically maintained by government. Esp what is appropriate for a market, eg murder, tobacco, slavery.
Otherwise what is the difference between
legitimate business and organized crime?

"Energy market deregulation is incompatible with the fight against global warming – markets like to finance gas plants – and with security of supply when exporters will not play by our rules." Jerome a Paris

Licensed to Kill is what comes to mind.
 

Otherwise what is the difference between legitimate business and organized crime?

"Nothing is illegal if 100 businessmen decide to do it."

Andrew Young, Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia and United States' first African American ambassador to the U.N.
 

That is remarkably cheap; The Joyce Foundation must spend easily ten times that much for every law review "special symposium" issue they buy.
 

Writing is like prostitution: First you do it for love; then for a few friends; in the end, for money.

-- Moliere --
 

The Joyce Foundation is a charitable foundation. AEI is not. If you want to compare them to The Scaife Foundation, fine. But then we are talking 100 to a 1000 times the money.

The Joyce Foundation must spend easily ten times that much for every law review "special symposium" issue they buy.

The Joyce Foundation has sponsored symposium issues of some law reviews, generally offering to pay for the symposium if an external editor is selected. The editor carefully solicits and chooses the articles to appear in the symposium. The Joyce Foundation then pays for the cost of copies to be distributed to judges and legislators.

Easily? I don't know.
 

BTW, Brett...

I see the Joyce Foundation is pretty tough on 2nd amendment types. They cry foul the loudest on that score

I am not too excited by John Lott. I was suspicious of his conclusions before they were debunked. OTOH, I am not inclined to favor sweeping federal gun laws or restrictions beyond the reasonablle. I am pretty much in the same camp as one of the earliest proponents of gun control ordinances, Wyatt Earp. I think it's an issue for states, counties and municipalities. Most liberals I know are not too keen on taking your guns away, or banning the Bible.
 

"Bart" DePalma:

Exactly what kind of science does AEI hope to buy for a piddly $10,000?...

Ummm, let me guess: A name, some initials, and a quote that can be put in sound bites to be echoed by the RW Mighty Wurlitzer....

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma emits a libel:

With literally billions of dollars available to greenhouse gas theory proponents, AEI is being exponentially outbid in buying scientific opinion on global warming.

I think that "Bart" should produce evidence to support his claim that "literally billions of dollars" are being doled out to scientists on condition they promote the 'proper' "greenhouse gas theory".

If he has none, he should retract his statement.

Cheers,
 

Arne:

The Bushies were bragging a couple days ago on TV that the US government has spent over $20 billion on global warming research.

Try thinking about this for more than two seconds.

The reason why we are spending billions on global warming research (which could be far better spent on eliminating a disease which actually kills people) is because of claims that the research can prove a global environmental disaster is in the offing. If the research instead proves that this is simply one of several warming trends over history, no more crisis and no more funding.

Don't tell me that money cannot buy science because of ethical considerations. As an attorney, I can buy an expert who will testify very sincerely how the scientific consensus will say anything my client wants it to say. My opponent can do the same exact thing on the same exact subject.

Prostitutes are hardly the only whores our there.
 

Oh, I get it -- you're joking.
 

Bart writes:"
The reason why we are spending billions on global warming research (which could be far better spent on eliminating a disease which actually kills people) is because of claims that the research can prove a global environmental disaster is in the offing. If the research instead proves that this is simply one of several warming trends over history, no more crisis and no more funding.


Possibly true, but still unfounded and speculation. As for spending money on curing disease, imagine what we could cure with money wasted on a son's attempt to one-up his old man in Iraq. Like rebuild NOL.

Don't tell me that money cannot buy science because of ethical considerations. As an attorney, I can buy an expert who will testify very sincerely how the scientific consensus will say anything my client wants it to say. My opponent can do the same exact thing on the same exact subject.

You still think that science is just like a law case. Nothing could be further from the truth.
 

I can buy an expert who will testify very sincerely how the scientific consensus will say anything my client wants it to say. My opponent can do the same exact thing on the same exact subject.

Prostitutes are hardly the only whores our there.


Is he admitting to pandering and pimping?

Just out of curiosity, Bart... what's your take on Ronald Reagan signing the Mulford Act in 1967?
 

Oh, fer cryin' out loud.

Look. I've been deeply involved in this debate (about the existence of global climate change and the skepticism of Mssrs. Lindzen, Spencer, and Singer et. al.) for far too many years, and frankly I'm sick of it. But here are some relevant facts to chew over:

Of course not all scientists agree on the specifics of climate science (especially the methodology of computer science vs classical meterology). That's why even the latest IPCC report only states a 90% likelihood of increased temperatures, for instance, or will not make a firm stand on the concatenation between increased intensity of, say, hurricanes and CO2 emissions. These uncertainties are accepted in the scientific community through the accepted peer-reviewed process and are part of the overall consensus (including work done by so-called skeptics).

If you're a scientist (e.g. you have basic academic credentials and have done any amount of reputable work in the field of climatology) and you have wished to speak skeptically about the existence and/or causes of global climate change, your career has been made. You will have repeated special (paid) appearances on Sean Hannity's television program. You will have your own (paid) column on Junkscience.com, Techcentralstation.com, or any number of "scientific" websites. You will land a (paid) fellowship at the Hoover Institute or the American Enterprise Institute. Please note that these organizations are all paid for in full by XOM, the American Petroleum Institute, the National Mining Institute, etc. It is also worth noting in this context that XOM (ExxonMobil) has publicly stated that they have ended funding for "climate skepticism," yet hardly a month or so later the AEI announces this offer. Has XOM's funding of AEI ended? Doubtful.

Al Gore's speaking fees reflect his status as a former Vice-President of the United States and as the winner of the popular vote in 2000, not for any scientific expertise he might have. I assure you that no actual scientist can command that sort of fee (much as they would want it).

The nominal "over 20 billion dollars" spent by the current administration have not been spent on climate research. It has been spent (allegedly) on ethanol developments, nuclear power plant modifications, and other technological developments that have a secondary (not to mention debatable and rather dubious) effect on greenhouse gas emissions. I very much doubt than a single dime of that money has fallen into the pocket of any climatologists.

On a personal note: I know or have met more than my share of actual scientists working in this field. Again I assure you, sirs, that they have not gotten rich by their "choice" of joining the scientific consensus. Please contrast this with, say, Mr. Crichton or Prof. Lindzen (or Roy Spencer, whose scientific work denying the consensus has been thoroughly discredited [and actually fraudulent] and has since moved on to supporting Intelligent Design... which doesn't stop the AEI from continuing to reference him in their footnotes).

As a final note: I have been a long-time reader of this blog, and this is (I believe) my first posted comment. I must say that I am quite disappointed. Sigh.
 

Octopus Grigori said...
Oh, I get it -- you're joking.

Oops. I admit that I am sometimes a tad slow in recognizing sarcasm (especially in text form). If this is the case, I apologize for my hectoring tone.
 

"Easily? I don't know."

They might not publicize their budget for those issues, but it's not a drop dead secret. Between the editor's cut, (Upwards of $30,000, I hear.) payments to the carefully selected authors, printing expenses, I'd venture that $100,000 for one "law review" infomercial would be a very conservative budget.

The law review doesn't supply much more than a name and reputation. They get the name back...
 

"Bart" DePalma:

[Arne]: I think that "Bart" should produce evidence to support his claim that "literally billions of dollars" are being doled out to scientists on condition they promote the 'proper' "greenhouse gas theory".

["Bart"]: The Bushies were bragging a couple days ago on TV that the US government has spent over $20 billion on global warming research.


Not sure where Dubya gets his numbers or what he lumps into this. Are you?

But that has what to do with the price of tea in Sri Lanka?

Do you think the Dubya maladministration has been trying hard to prove there is "global warming" (after fighting this notion as hard as he can for years)?

Try thinking about this for more than two seconds.

OK. Next?

The reason why we are spending billions on global warming research (which could be far better spent on eliminating a disease which actually kills people) is because of claims that the research can prove a global environmental disaster is in the offing....

No, it's because climate sciences, like other sciences, inform us in many ways, both practical and theoretical. Certainly the question of whether there is anthropogenic warming and what the consequences are is worth looking into (not to mention Dubya doesn't control overall funding allocations). Here's what the Dubya maladministration has done (outside of the energy lobby efforts) to slant the stories.

... If the research instead proves that this is simply one of several warming trends over history, no more crisis and no more funding.

Nonsense, for reasons explained above. And if pigs had wings, we'd all be carrying cast-iron umbrellas.

Don't tell me that money cannot buy science because of ethical considerations....

I agree. See the article on the $10K "bonus". But grant money doesn't depend on the "conclusions" reached. Fortunately enough, nature is immune to bribes, and gravity works whether funded or not. "Bogus" science is rooted out, and incorrect conclusions exposed.

... As an attorney, I can buy an expert who will testify very sincerely how the scientific consensus will say anything my client wants it to say....

As a dishonest person, you would retain a "hired gun".

As I stated, nature is immune to bribes, though, and if you want to continue as a funded (not bought) scientist, you'd better not act unethically, and you'd better have more than a piss-poor track record.

... My opponent can do the same exact thing on the same exact subject.

This is the crux of your problem, "Bart". You consider it your duty to achieve your DUI clients' ends pretty much by any means (which seems to be your approach to all life's 'problems', such as international relations), and not to achieve some actual notion of "justice" or "truth" for all parties involved.

But remember MRPC Rule 8.4(c) [along with other Rules]; if you hire a known hack, and with their help you perpetrate fraud on the court, you're in trouble. Fortunately enough for you, you're too stoopid, it seems, to "knowingly" do such; you can just plead (justifiably) ignorance.

Prostitutes are hardly the only whores our there.

Yes. We see that on a daily basis here, it seems.

I note in all the above that you have provided no evidence that scientists are being paid on the condition that they produce the right 'results' (outside of the AEI/enegy lobby stuff). You just repeat your claim they're unethical (projection, anyone?), and that the funding is conditional.

Cheers,
 

s.g.e.w:

That's why even the latest IPCC report only states a 90% likelihood of increased temperatures...

IIRC, that 90% confidence is that there's anthropogenic warming (i.e., that at least part of the warming is anthropogenic).

Cheers,
 

Perhaps the chilling effect of this debate will cool down global warming. Or is it a heated debate that will accelerate global warming?

In the Middle Ages a man came into an inn on a cold day, blowing into his hands. He was asked why he was doing that and replied, "Why, to warm my cold hands." Then he sat down at the dinner table with other guests and a hot bowl of soup. As he ate, he would blow on his spoon laden with soup. He was asked why he was doing that and replied, "Why, to cool my hot soup." The questioner then screamed, "He must be the devil himself, he blows both hot and cold!"
 

bitswapper said...

You still think that science is just like a law case. Nothing could be further from the truth.

OK, let us test your hypothesis.

In a law suit requiring expert opinion, the attorneys very often first come up with a theory of the case and then hunt for a scientific expert which will provide an opinion to support that theory of the case. It is not at all unusual to have two highly credentialed experts (both of whom are being paid far more per hour than the attorneys) who will provide two diametrically opposed opinions on the same issue before the jury.

In sum, lawyers manipulate scientific opinion presented to the public in the form of a jury to conform to their positions every single day of the week in courtrooms around the country.

In contrast, you claim that governments do not similarly manipulate scientific opinion presented to the public to conform to their political positions on global warming. Rather, you claim the science precedes and inform the political policy of governments.

Really?

Let us consider the Assessment Report 4, Summary for Policymakers, which is a political document representing years of negotiations among over 130 governments to reach a consensus political opinion on the causes of global warming.

"Every government in the world signed off on this document, including the U.S.," said World Bank chief scientist Robert T. Watson, who chaired the last round of deliberations.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/
content/article/2007/02/02/
AR2007020200192.html

The science which is supposed to back up this consensus political opinion is still being edited and is not due to be released for another three months.

Just like in a law suit, the governments released the "theory of the case" before the scientific opinion which is supposed to support this theory.

Under normal circumstances, the science is supposed to precede and inform the political policy. However, to achieve a the "consensus science" used to browbeat skeptics, the IPCC actually begins with the negotiated "consensus" political opinion and then molds the scientific opinion to create a "scientific consensus" to match that preceding political consensus.

You don't believe me?

I would direct you to the Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work: PROCEDURES FOR THE PREPARATION, REVIEW, ACCEPTANCE, ADOPTION, APPROVAL AND PUBLICATION OF IPCC REPORTS Go to the third paragraph of section 4.2:

Changes (other than grammatical or minor editorial changes) made after acceptance by the Working Group or the Panel shall be those necessary to ensure consistency with the Summary for Policymakers or the Overview Chapter.

http://www.ipcc.ch/about/app-a.pdf

Just like in a law suit, the "expert scientific opinion" is molded to match the government's theory of the case.

The more extreme proponents of the green house gas theory whose computer models exceed the "consensus scientific opinion" of the IPCC are also critics of the IPCC political process:

[A] new study reported Thursday in the online version of the journal Science said that the IPCC report actually significantly underestimated both the extent of warming and the extent of the rise in sea levels.

An international team of climate experts said in the Science report that data showed global temperatures had increased by 0.6 degree, at the upper limit of the U.N.'s predictions, and that sea levels had risen 0.13 inch per year, compared with the U.N. report's estimate of less than 0.08 inch per year.

The data show that "IPCC is presenting a consensus view that has been OKd by a very large number of interests, so it tends to err on the side of making cautious statements and not exaggerating," said geochemist Ralph Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, one of the authors of the Science study.


http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/
la-sci-warming2feb02,1,4188889.story?
ctrack=1&cset=true

How the hell can you have negotiated consensus findings of fact on things like the increase of the sea levels?

Remember that these negotiated consensus findings of fact form the "fact" basis for the computer models which are offered as "proof" of the green house theory. By negotiating the base "facts" which are imputed into these computer models, the governments are creating consensus computer model results.

Government negotiated "facts" in, consensus junk science out.
 

You've just convinced me, Bart.

We should just dunk (like they did with witches) both attorneys and all the experts and let the defendant go free. Whatever he did, it couldn't have been much worse.
 

JT:

Some attorneys probably do deserve to be dunked like witches.

David Bernstein had an interesting post over at the Volkh Conspiracy about how plaintiffs lawyers are now avoiding federal court to bypass the must stricter application of the Daubert rule to experts and instead are going to state court where nearly anything goes.

http://volokh.com/posts/1170469657.shtml

I tend to doubt the IPCC report would be admitted under Daubert.
 

The Daubert rule when applied in a given case, applies to that case. What court has jurisdiction of the global warming case that would apply to all of the Earth? It is a judge, a single person, who applies the Daubert rule based upon evidence presented in the case before her. This judge may not be well versed in science, as may be the case for many lawyers (including myself). Appellate judges may also become involved, including SCOTUS where a 5-4 decision might be made on whether or not the Daubert rule is satisfied. (Remember Bush v. Gore, five to four?)

So on global warming the Daubert rule should be applied and by whom? Meantime Charlton Heston is screaming "Soilent green is ...."
 

Bart...Some attorneys probably do deserve to be dunked like witches.

Nah. That's too retro and passe. Waterboarded!
 

"Bart" DePalma misstates the case:

"Every government in the world signed off on this document, including the U.S.," said World Bank chief scientist Robert T. Watson, who chaired the last round of deliberations.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/
content/article/2007/02/02/
AR2007020200192.html

The science which is supposed to back up this consensus political opinion is still being edited and is not due to be released for another three months.

Just like in a law suit, the governments released the "theory of the case" before the scientific opinion which is supposed to support this theory.


"Bart" pretends the science is all-new (not to mention being "opinion"). That's hogwash. The reports are being edited. That's a far cry from saying they're going to "release[] a theory" that's still in development.

"Bart" is just being dishonest here.

FWIW, even the Dubya maladministration has left "Bart" behind in the dust (as they have in acknowledging the dire situation in Iraq). "Bart"'s one of the "dead-enders" of Republican sycophancy.

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma says:

I would direct you to the Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work: PROCEDURES FOR THE PREPARATION, REVIEW, ACCEPTANCE, ADOPTION, APPROVAL AND PUBLICATION OF IPCC REPORTS Go to the third paragraph of section 4.2:

Changes (other than grammatical or minor editorial changes) made after acceptance by the Working Group or the Panel shall be those necessary to ensure consistency with the Summary for Policymakers or the Overview Chapter.


Whoopdedoo. It's like a journal saying that a paper is acceptable for publication, and that editing revisions can be made, but the paper has to be the same one submitted, and not something wholly new and unreviewed....

Cheers,
 

Bart writes: OK, let us test your hypothesis.

In sum, lawyers manipulate scientific opinion


You've pointed out here an example of Lawyers versus scientists. That was my original point. But to continue.

In contrast, you claim that governments do not similarly manipulate scientific opinion

I never claimed that. I pointed out that science is not like a court case.

Let us consider the Assessment Report 4, Summary for Policymakers, which is a political document representing years of negotiations among over 130 governments to reach a consensus political opinion on the causes of global warming.

"Every government in the world signed off on this document, including the U.S.," said World Bank chief scientist Robert T. Watson, who chaired the last round of deliberations.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/
content/article/2007/02/02/
AR2007020200192.html

The science which is supposed to back up this consensus political opinion is still being edited and is not due to be released for another three months.

Just like in a law suit, the governments released the "theory of the case" before the scientific opinion which is supposed to support this theory.



As I've said, science is not like a court case. Law, as you've described it, has more in common with politics that science.


Under normal circumstances, the science is supposed to precede and inform the political policy. However, to achieve a the "consensus science" used to browbeat skeptics, the IPCC actually begins with the negotiated "consensus" political opinion and then molds the scientific opinion to create a "scientific consensus" to match that preceding political consensus.


Politicians and lawyers both use science to back up their agenda. Its an ongoing problem. Science still isn't like a court case. Science is science.


I would direct you to the Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work: PROCEDURES FOR THE PREPARATION, REVIEW, ACCEPTANCE, ADOPTION, APPROVAL AND PUBLICATION OF IPCC REPORTS Go to the third paragraph of section 4.2:

Changes (other than grammatical or minor editorial changes) made after acceptance by the Working Group or the Panel shall be those necessary to ensure consistency with the Summary for Policymakers or the Overview Chapter.

http://www.ipcc.ch/about/app-a.pdf

Just like in a law suit, the "expert scientific opinion" is molded to match the government's theory of the case.



The IPCC isn't really a scientific body. Its an intergovernmental group.


The more extreme proponents of the green house gas theory whose computer models exceed the "consensus scientific opinion" of the IPCC are also critics of the IPCC political process:

That's because they're scientists, not lawyers or politicians.

[A] new study reported Thursday in the online version of the journal Science said that the IPCC report actually significantly underestimated both the extent of warming and the extent of the rise in sea levels.

An international team of climate experts said in the Science report that data showed global temperatures had increased by 0.6 degree, at the upper limit of the U.N.'s predictions, and that sea levels had risen 0.13 inch per year, compared with the U.N. report's estimate of less than 0.08 inch per year.

The data show that "IPCC is presenting a consensus view that has been OKd by a very large number of interests, so it tends to err on the side of making cautious statements and not exaggerating," said geochemist Ralph Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, one of the authors of the Science study.

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/
la-sci-warming2feb02,1,4188889.story?
ctrack=1&cset=true

How the hell can you have negotiated consensus findings of fact on things like the increase of the sea levels?

Remember that these negotiated consensus findings of fact form the "fact" basis for the computer models which are offered as "proof" of the green house theory. By negotiating the base "facts" which are imputed into these computer models, the governments are creating consensus computer model results.

Government negotiated "facts" in, consensus junk science out.



All you've established is that law has more in common with politics that with science. Scientific study still is very different from a court case. And, trying in vain to lump climatology in with 'junk science' is really ridiculous. You're arguments against global climate change, while they have some merit, are more legal than scientific. There's nothing wrong with that, and I think its healthy.
 

"Bart" DePalma:

How the hell can you have negotiated consensus findings of fact on things like the increase of the sea levels?

You get a range that people can agree on.

Remember that these negotiated consensus findings of fact form the "fact" basis for the computer models which are offered as "proof" of the green house theory....

No, they don't. The computer models are used to project future levels (which are the "consensus" 'facts', which should more accurately be called "consensus projections"). They are validated against other models, and against the measurements we have.

By negotiating the base "facts" which are imputed into these computer models, the governments are creating consensus computer model results.

Nonsense. This just misstates the process and the findings.

Cheers,
 

Arne Langsetmo said...

"Bart" DePalma: How the hell can you have negotiated consensus findings of fact on things like the increase of the sea levels?

You get a range that people can agree on.


arne, you have identified yourself as an engineer. Of all the folks here, you should be aghast at the way the IPCC is playing fast and loose with the "facts" which are supposed to underly its "science."

Are the facts with which you rely to do your work (for example, the tolerances of a type of metal) subject to negotiation? As a professional engineer, would you certify work which was based on negotiated facts? I would certainly hope not. In that case, why are you giving the negotiated "facts" provided by these governments any credence whatsoever?

Remember that these negotiated consensus findings of fact form the "fact" basis for the computer models which are offered as "proof" of the green house theory....

No, they don't. The computer models are used to project future levels (which are the "consensus" 'facts', which should more accurately be called "consensus projections"). They are validated against other models, and against the measurements we have.


So, you are saying that the negotiated "facts" which the IPCC just put out in its political policy report are not the facts being used in the computer models. That means either the IPCC's "facts," the ones used in the computer models or both are simply wrong.

You are not increasing my confidence in the IPCC's opinions to the 90% level.
 

Bart... arne, you have identified yourself as an engineer. Of all the folks here, you should be aghast at the way the IPCC is playing fast and loose with the "facts" which are supposed to underly its "science."

Are the facts with which you rely to do your work (for example, the tolerances of a type of metal) subject to negotiation? As a professional engineer, would you certify work which was based on negotiated facts? I would certainly hope not. In that case, why are you giving the negotiated "facts" provided by these governments any credence whatsoever?


I think engineering has more in common with building and launching gigantic, sun-reflecting space mirrors than climate science. It's not a fair comparison.
 

Back to the original post, the charge made by the Guardian against AEI appears to be largely propaganda.

http://volokh.com/posts/1170541963.shtml
 

Let's be clear here about the body of people determining this issue. If we're talking a jury drawn from the population, you are going to get a mix of people, many of whom have less knowledge of science, statistical inference, and the behavior of complex systems even than Bart, which is saying a lot, from what I've observed.

The IPCC isn't composed of people with only an average understanding of science. These are overwhelmingly scientifically trained, which sets them apart. I would argue that, if Bart were presented with a jury selected from such a population, no amount of money would buy him the scientific expertise to sway them.

The lawyer could call Singer to the stand, and watch him be flayed by the opposing counsel. "Dr. Singer, in your graphs purporting to display a lack of global warming, why did you cut them off at the date of 1985?" "Dr. Singer, are you aware that your assertion (insert one of his assertions here) was refuted in a scientific paper published 10 years before your book?" And of course, most damning of all: "Dr. Singer, and recalling that you are under oath, did you take monetary support, directly, or indirectly, from Exxon?"

The problem with buying scientific expertise is that you really can't buy the truth. When the consensus becomes too lopsided, as in the current situation, you'll find that your experts will be demolished.

What XOM is trying to accomplish, through AEI, is to delay the solidifying of that consensus. They know it's a losing battle, but they really don't have much to work with.
 

I think there's cause to be concerned about political influences in science, one way or another. After all, even just calling the phenomenon 'global warming' is not necessarily accurate, and has become a political rallying call. Climatologists may find other causes bringing about the changes.

The important thing is for us to do what we can. If we fail, we can say we failed, but we did all we could. If we succeed, we gain more power in steering our destiny. If we do nothing and still succeed, we are like a pothead who drives high without a seatbelt, and doesn't have an accident.
 

Bart DePalma said...
Back to the original post, the charge made by the Guardian against AEI appears to be largely propaganda.

http://volokh.com/posts/1170541963.shtml


This Jonathan Adler?

Here's the letter from AEI.
 

Ummm, sorry, seem to have lost my cookies there for a while; that "anonymous" was me.....

"Bart" DePalma says:

["Bart"]: How the hell can you have negotiated consensus findings of fact on things like the increase of the sea levels?

[Arne]: You get a range that people can agree on.

arne, you have identified yourself as an engineer....


... and a (published) scientist.

... Of all the folks here, you should be aghast at the way the IPCC is playing fast and loose with the "facts" which are supposed to underly its "science."

Imagine that. I'm not. Maybe I don't take your unsubstantiated assertions, tin-foil paranoia, and mischaracterisations of the science and the process as worthy of consideration.

Are the facts with which you rely to do your work (for example, the tolerances of a type of metal) subject to negotiation?....

As an engineer, yes, the acceptable "tolerances" (which could include ranges) would be negotiable. What that has to do with the price of tea in Sri Lanka is beyond me.

... As a professional engineer, would you certify work which was based on negotiated facts? I would certainly hope not. In that case, why are you giving the negotiated "facts" provided by these governments any credence whatsoever?

Not sure why you insist on referring to consensus agreement as "negotiation".

["Bart"]: Remember that these negotiated consensus findings of fact form the "fact" basis for the computer models which are offered as "proof" of the green house theory....

[Arne]: No, they don't. The computer models are used to project future levels (which are the "consensus" 'facts', which should more accurately be called "consensus projections"). They are validated against other models, and against the measurements we have.

So, you are saying that the negotiated "facts" which the IPCC just put out in its political policy report are not the facts being used in the computer models.....


Yes, pretty much.

... That means either the IPCC's "facts," the ones used in the computer models or both are simply wrong.

No. The "facts" used as input and validation for the computer models are measured quantities (albeit by different methods, and sometimes using indirect proxies for the metric). The "consensus projections" are the numbers derived using present trends and computer models.

You are not increasing my confidence in the IPCC's opinions to the 90% level.

Have you figured out yet the difference between a "correlation" and a "confidence interval"? Do you know yet what "significance" is? How about "power" and "Type I" and "Type II" errors?

Cheers,
 

bitswapper said...

The important thing is for us to do what we can. If we fail, we can say we failed, but we did all we could. If we succeed, we gain more power in steering our destiny.

This movement is all about having the government take away the power to steer your own destiny.

Here are a few ways these folks want to change my life here in the mountains:

1) They would like to stop manufacturers from providing me with an affordable 4 wheel drive jeep to drive safely around my mountain home by boosting the CAFE standards to something only small to medium cars can make.

2) Look for Euro style gas taxes upwards of $2-3 per gallon. If you thought last year's $1 spike was bad, you ain't seen nothing yet.

3) A Colorado initiative has already compelled almost all utilities here to get 15% of their power from as of yet nonexistent wind turbines. Once the initiative propaganda went off the airwaves and the government actually looked at what this will cost, they told consumers to expect a 15-20% rise in their power bills. Thankfully, consumer owned power co-ops like the one for our rural region could exempt themselves and we did by a 70% vote.

4) However, the greenies want to levy a carbon tax on the coal plant which supplies most of our area's power.

5) Just like the spike in fuel costs last year raised prices throughout our economy slowed economic growth by about half by the summer and fall 2006. These carbon and gas taxes will double or triple that economy killing effect.

6) No matter how expensive gasoline gets, workers who live in their own homes in the suburbs and need to commute will still drive, but their standard of living and freedom to travel for leisure will decrease as they pay the government more taxes to drive.

7) In order to stop you from commuting, the greenies want to use the the power of the government to seize property without compensation through zoning placing land off limits for housing to compel you to move into smaller high density housing inside cities or near cities. This smaller housing will cost you far more because you will have the same number of people bidding for fewer square feet of housing.

This is only the beginning.
 

arne:

If you do not mind sharing, what kind of engineering do you practice?
 

FWIW, here's a bit of 'explanation' of our semantic difficulties...

Subhead:

"Is it so difficult to curb the growth of greenhouse gases because scientists and politicians are speaking a different language?"

Needless to say, there's a gulf between the language of scientists and the language of lawyers as well.

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma, not interested in looking ahead:

5) Just like the spike in fuel costs last year raised prices throughout our economy slowed economic growth by about half by the summer and fall 2006. These carbon and gas taxes will double or triple that economy killing effect.

Think that a dollar hike puts a crimp in things? You might pay attention to those that are interested in planning ahead for the eventual demise of oil. That'll put the price through the roof (and/or cause the collapse of economies throughout the first world), unless we start looking for alternatives and developing them ... you know, like wind?

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DePalma asks:

arne:

If you do not mind sharing, what kind of engineering do you practice?


Telecommunications (as my website profile says, just a blue clickie or two away). More generally, computer science and engineering. Is this important (outside of, oh, let's say, discussions of wiretapping)?

Cheers,
 

1) They would like to stop manufacturers from providing me with an affordable 4 wheel drive jeep to drive safely around my mountain home by boosting the CAFE standards to something only small to medium cars can make.

I'm sorry! I can't stop laughing at this one. "Rugged individualist," indeed.
 

Bart writes:"This movement is all about having the government take away the power to steer your own destiny."

Is there a resource somewhere where this list of goals is elaborated? I mean, it reads more like a conspiracy theory overall. But then, planning for the future is always difficult and will likely always require some sacrifice now.
 

Climatologist Dr. Timothy Ball picks up the arguments I have been making here and addresses the slanders of skeptics presented as argument in favor of the the green house theory.

http://www.canadafreepress.com/2007/
global-warming020507.htm
 

"Bart" DePalma cites Timothy Ball (proper, clickable link here):

Dr. Ball: "What would happen if tomorrow we were told that, after all, the Earth is flat? It would probably be the most important piece of news in the media and would generate a lot of debate. So why is it that when scientists who have studied the Global Warming phenomenon for years say that humans are not the cause nobody listens?"

Ummm, maybe the same reason that people aren't going to give you the time of day if you go around saying the Earth is flat: We know enough to know that's not the case.

Yes, there's a Nobel Prize in it there for Dr. Ball if he can show the Earth is flat. And he'll join Rush Limbaugh on the podium (actually, not quite, as the Peace Prize is awarded by Norway, as a sublime joke by ol' Alfred on his Norski neighbours)....

Cheers,
 

Before going off to read the link posted by Bart, I'll save you the trouble. It's an extended example of the fallacy known as the "argument from authority." Since Bart is passing it off as some justification, this makes his use a double fallacy.

Unfortunately, the authority of this guy is open to question. Try a google search for "Timothy Ball" and climatology. Judge for yourself. He's just the kind of pathetic excuse for a "scientist" Bart could get to show a jury.

There is no citation in that article to any paper. It contains nothing but bald statements rehashing the talking points Bart has so graciously shared before, and that have been thoroughly demolished:

1. He claims that, 30 years ago, it was a consensus among climatologist that there was global cooling.

2. He claims (without citing any research) that CO2 is not an atmospheric greenhouse gas, which is probably making Arhennious spin in his grave.

3. He claims that the consensus on global warming was reached before the science -- demonstrably false, unless by that he means "before the system can be modeled with perfect predictive accuracy" -- which is to say, never.

This, presumably, is what AEI and XOM are getting for their money.
 

Dr. Tim Ball of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, eh? Not by any chance a pro-business group?

Cheers,
 

More "Dr. Ball":

Maybe for the same reason we believed, 30 years ago, that global cooling was the biggest threat: a matter of faith. "It is a cold fact: the Global Cooling presents humankind with the most important social, political, and adaptive challenge we have had to deal with for ten thousand years. Your stake in the decisions we make concerning it is of ultimate importance; the survival of ourselves, our children, our species," wrote Lowell Ponte in 1976.

Not by any chance this Lowell Ponte? He's FrontPageMagazine (and talk radio). He's one of yours, "Bart"....

So, dear "Bart": Is that it for the "scientists" all proclaiming the impending doom of another Ice Age 30 years ago? Or you got some more?

ROFLMAO....

Cheers,
 

BTW, the rest of Ball's article seems to consist mostly of whining: "Wauuuugghhh, thoose meanies are picking on me...."

Cheers,
 

I noted that Sean Hannity brought up Tim Ball's crapola yesterday on his radio show. Must be in the latest "talking points" memo from RNC Central....

CHeers,
 

@ bart depalma
Here are a few ways these folks want to change my life here in the mountains:

1) They would like to stop manufacturers from providing me with an affordable 4 wheel drive jeep to drive safely around my mountain home by boosting the CAFE standards to something only small to medium cars can make.


Or, those standards would provide incentive to manufacturers to develop more efficient vehicles and powertrains so that they could build 4x4's that still meet these higher standards. That's the point... not some arbitrary "We've gotta take away their SUV's!" decision.

I would think someone of your disposition would be all for technology development by largely American industries.

2) Look for Euro style gas taxes upwards of $2-3 per gallon. If you thought last year's $1 spike was bad, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Your point being? Expensive gas is another incentive to build efficient vehicles and develop alternative fuel sources. Particularly if the taxes directly fund such research through properly constructed tax breaks or awards to organizations (including industry) doing such research. Think, like the X Prize or, more apropriate still, the DARPA grand challenge, but with a more important and far reaching result.


3) A Colorado initiative has already compelled almost all utilities here to get 15% of their power from as of yet nonexistent wind turbines. Once the initiative propaganda went off the airwaves and the government actually looked at what this will cost, they told consumers to expect a 15-20% rise in their power bills. Thankfully, consumer owned power co-ops like the one for our rural region could exempt themselves and we did by a 70% vote.


How terrible for the rest of Colorado. I'm sure they'll hate breathing cleaner air. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy acid rain and asthma... or does the output of your coal plant drift down wind to someone else?

Seriously, increased cost is inevitible in any transistion. The only, ONLY correlation to be made in an arguement against higher energy costs is an argument against transitioning to cleaner energy, unless you'd prefer an indirect cost in the form of tax hikes, which I strongly doubt.


4) However, the greenies want to levy a carbon tax on the coal plant which supplies most of our area's power.


"Tax" may be the right word in your case, but not all such carbon-credit schemes take a form to which that term accurately applies. Certain constructions, including one quite reasonable proposition for a carbon market, endorsed by the Economist recently, allow producers of this form of pollution to balance their output against the cost of carbon credits in a free market. In the short term, it would likeely cause the kinds of price increases that you seem to reactionarily regard as intrinsicaly bad. In the long term, they too provide an incentive for cleaner energy development.

Calling such a tax is, like so many uses of that term, a way to obstruct debate based on the knee-jerk disapproval. It's cheap exploitation of a loaded word.

Again, in your region of Colorado, someone may well be calling for an outright tax. I happen not to support that, for quite a few reasons.


5) Just like the spike in fuel costs last year raised prices throughout our economy slowed economic growth by about half by the summer and fall 2006. These carbon and gas taxes will double or triple that economy killing effect.


Using the money that's generated in this way to create jobs via the research and development of greener technologies offers a counterbalance to that effect. Again, industry is good, and we want the U.S. to be at the top of the heap on modern, efficent, clean energy technology... otherwise we'll have to buy it from Japan.

Instead, the money generated by the recent price increases went directly to the oil companies, who have not, by and large, invested it as I indicate in the previous paragraph.


6) No matter how expensive gasoline gets, workers who live in their own homes in the suburbs and need to commute will still drive, but their standard of living and freedom to travel for leisure will decrease as they pay the government more taxes to drive.


If they want to drive their big, expensive trucks that far, at that cost, let them. You're saying that because people won't change their habits in the face of very convincing reasons to do so -- reasons that affect me as well as them -- I'm supposed to let them continue acting harmfully with no repercussions? That's like saying "People will never give up smoking cigarrettes, they like them too much." as an argument against educating the public about the health risks of smoking. Rather, reducing smoking not only makes my life more pleasant, but makes me healthier (by not having to breath that stuff) and richer (by reducing the cost of health care over time as less people require treatments for conditions brought on by their own choice to smoke).


7) In order to stop you from commuting, the greenies want to use the the power of the government to seize property without compensation through zoning placing land off limits for housing to compel you to move into smaller high density housing inside cities or near cities. This smaller housing will cost you far more because you will have the same number of people bidding for fewer square feet of housing.


"The greenies!" Sheesh. Don't group everyone together in this ridiculous and monolithic way. Argue against specific proposals; attempting to refute the position of an broad and diverse group with similar goals but vastly different concepts of implementation in this way shows a lack of discipline and rigor.

In refuting your specific statement, one might argue, as I do, constantly, that the way to create a vibrant and healthy suburb without clogging the roads and bankrupting the urban environmoents is to develop trains or commute alternatives. Other countries do this, and there's not one reason it *can't* work here. Atlanta, where I live, is perhaps a perfect case study for a city in which the affluent choose to live in distant suburbs and commute daily in large SUVs, for the most part. The resultant traffic situation is well known, not to mention the pollution and heat island effects. Rural life is one thing. Suburban life, as it exists now in a large percentage of American cities, is not sustainable.
 

Despite the hysterical ad hominem attacks from such scientific luminaries as Ellen Goodman that "global warming deniers (which include 77% of college educated Republicans and 25% of college educated Democrats) are now on par with Holocaust deniers..."

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/
editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2007/02/09/
no_change_in_political_climate/

...the skeptical scientists keep coming out of the closet to point that the "consensus" is wearing no clothes:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16948233/
site/newsweek/

http://www.fraserinstitute.ca/admin/books/
files/Independent%20Summary2.pdf
 

As a public service, here's the short version of some of the material Bart supplies links to:

The last two links are to the same thing, one is the weasel-worded comment from an author of the last link, which is a 64-page PDF file.

The methodology of this paper is "show them all the trees and pretend there's no forest around here."

The summary basically says that human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are a credible cause of global warming.

However, because it can't be proven analytically, only through computer modeling, we should not accept it.

Unfortunately, as the first 51 pages of this thing forcibly demonstrate, there is no real hope that computer simulation will ever be up to the task of demonstrating conclusively either side of this question.

What the authors fail miserably to do is provide any convincing evidence that there's an alternate mechanism for explaining the rapid warming (which they admit, although try to low-ball.) They wave their hands around at a disputed .04 percent increase in solar radiation, but admit that they then cannot prove either that or, even if it exists, that it can be shown (they don't even have a computer model) to cause the observed warming.

They also wave hands around at "urbanization" and heat islands at the problem, but again, all they have is naked skepticism -- no real evidence.

This is all so like the games the tobacco companies and their pet scientists played back in the day.

But the believers will believe, because they're happy being lied to as long as they're being told something they want to hear.

What's missing from all this material is any numeric value (like the 90 percent in the IPCC report). These folks basically have cheap skepticism. If they had the courage of their convictions, they'd be buying South Florida and Louisiana real estate.

Bart, thanks for pointing this out. We should be skeptical of all scientific theories if we understand how science works, but the downside risk of global warming is simply too great to wait until these guys are convinced. When you have a mole on your arm that displays changes, you'll save money if you just ignore it, and your heirs will thank you, but I don't think this is a wise course of inaction.

If ten doctors tell you it's cancer, but one says it's just a freckle, will you go home and wait a few years?
 

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