Category Archive 'Junk Science'
07 Jan 2017
Detail (click on image for whole cartoon)
16 Dec 2016
In the New York Times, Tatiana Schlossberg (Caroline Kennedy’s daughter, Y’ 12) explains that if the weather’s getting cooler, that doesn’t mean there isn’t Global Warming. Why, well-educated members of the community of fashion elect can even explain to you that Global Warming actually can cause colder weather!
On Thursday, temperatures on the East Coast are expected to plummet, and some people — fellow journalists and weather broadcasters, we’re looking at you — may start talking about a “polar vortex.”
We thought you might want to know what the polar vortex is, and what it’s not.
(And we wanted to pre-empt the inevitable chatter about climate change that usually crops up when the thermometer drops — “It’s bone-shakingly cold, how could the Earth be warming?” We’ll tell you how.) …
When these cold snaps come, you may hear other people asking,” If global warming is supposed to be warming the globe, then why is it so cold?”
Well, for starters, there is a difference between weather and climate. Climate refers to the long-term averages and trends in atmospheric conditions over large areas, while weather deals with short-term variations, which is what happens when the polar vortex visits your hometown.
And of course, an Arctic blast can still occur in a warmer world. The air that comes down from the North Pole might not be as cold, Ms. Barthold said, but it would still be the product of the same phenomenon.
Some studies suggest that climate change could actually make these frigid waves of Arctic air more common, a result of shrinking sea ice. However, other scientists remain skeptical of this theory.
And the earth is definitely warming: Temperature records show that, by the end of last year, the earth’s surface had warmed by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since the 19th century. But even though the earth’s surface is warming, scientists say that winter will still exist.
And even if parts of the United States are experiencing unusually cold temperatures, it represents such a small portion of the earth’s surface — about 2 percent — that it does not mean much in terms of average global temperatures.
So, if, for instance, a senator (perhaps James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma) brandishes a snowball on the floor of the Senate to dispute the validity of climate science when a chill wind blows through Washington, you will know that the unseasonably cold temperatures he is talking about do not mean that global warming is not happening.
Apparently the Great Big Brains have understood all this for years. Warmlist, the attempted complete list of all the things caused by Anthropogenic Global Warming, already has listed:
cold spells, cold spells (Australia), colder waters (Long Island), cold wave (India), cold weather (world), cold winters
26 May 2016
Cases have recently been discovered of Polar and Grizzly Bear crosses. Naturally, the Big Brains (with degrees from cow colleges) believe this a completely new and unprecedented thing, resulting from what else? Climate Change.
Actually, dumbasses, Wikipedia notes that these kinds of crosses have been shown to have occurred even during the Pleistocene.
28 Aug 2015
A leading climate scientist at work.
Ari H. has a good essay offering a list of reasons why Climate Change Alarmism resembles a religious cult.
The alarmist movement stubbornly refuses to debate its dogma, calling it “settled science” and viciously attacking its critics. The attacks are not limited to name calling but include prohibiting scientific research that contradicts this dogma. Significant figures within the movement call for criminal persecution of those who publicly disagree with the dogma and, in some cases, for those who do not follow it. Proposed punishments for “heretics” and “infidels” include prison and even death.
The alarmist movement has a formal doctrine-setting body — the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The reports and summaries by this body are considered by the alarmists to be the main source of authority on all things related to climate, energy, the biological cycle, and consequentially, everything else. The cult followers (individuals, organizations, and even governments) regularly quote these unholy texts and use them to justify their decisions.
The alarmist movement has its own priest class: taxpayer-funded impostor “climate scientists” who have no independent (of the climate alarmism) scientific achievements. Frequently, they do not even have scientific degrees. The alarmists sincerely believe that only members of the priest class are capable of understanding and seriously discussing “climate science.” Physicists, biologists, meteorologists, engineers, mathematicians, and other outsiders need not apply. …
The climate change cult appears to worship the computer models that its shamans built with their own hands — literally man-made idols. Needless to say, much of the content of IPCC’s texts comes from these computer models. …
The alarmists appeal to medieval science errors. These errors can be described as beliefs that nature has existed forever in some unchanged state. The inability of a common man or a medieval scientist to observe such changes was the cause of these beliefs. The alarmists revive these errors by denying, ignoring, or underestimating natural climate change; evolution (including species’ disappearance and adaptation); higher CO2levels in the geological past; natural sea level increases in the current interglacial period; tectonic movement; the complex trajectory of the Earth’s motion around the Sun; and the astronomic observations of stars similar to the Sun.
Read the whole thing.
23 Sep 2014
at last weekend’s Climate March. Yes, what we have here is science, alright.
17 Aug 2014
Climate scientist en route to conference.
Eric Worrall demonstrates the Heads-I-Win-Tails-You-Lose unfalsifiable character of “climate change” modelling.
If the temperature goes up, this is just what the models predicted – watch out because … …soon it will get a lot worse. link
If the temperature goes down, the deep ocean is swallowing the heat – even though the heat can’t be measured, we know it must be there, because that is what the climate models tell us. Global warming prevails! link
If the global temperature crashes, its because global warming induced melting of arctic ice shut down the ocean currents. link
If the snow disappears, this is just as models predicted – snowfall is a thing of the past. link
If there is an unusually heavy snowfall, this is just as models predicted – global warming is increasing the moisture content of the atmosphere, which results in increased snow cover. link
If there is a drought, that is because of global warming. link
Except of course, when global warming causes heavy rainfall. link
No matter what the observation, no matter how the world changes, we can never falsify alarmist climate theories. Any possible change, any possible observation, can always be explained by anthropogenic global warming. link
27 May 2014
In the Wall Street Journal, Joseph Bast and Roy Spencer look at the evidence, and find that the oft-repeated claim that “97% of climate scientists” subscribe to a belief in Catastrophist Anthropogenic Warmism is just as empty a claim as the newspaper headlines about melting glacier and Polar icecaps.
Last week Secretary of State John Kerry warned graduating students at Boston College of the “crippling consequences” of climate change. “Ninety-seven percent of the world’s scientists,” he added, “tell us this is urgent.”
Where did Mr. Kerry get the 97% figure? Perhaps from his boss, President Obama, who tweeted on May 16 that “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” Or maybe from NASA, which posted (in more measured language) on its website, “Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities.”
Yet the assertion that 97% of scientists believe that climate change is a man-made, urgent problem is a fiction. The so-called consensus comes from a handful of surveys and abstract-counting exercises that have been contradicted by more reliable research.
One frequently cited source for the consensus is a 2004 opinion essay published in Science magazine by Naomi Oreskes, a science historian now at Harvard. She claimed to have examined abstracts of 928 articles published in scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and found that 75% supported the view that human activities are responsible for most of the observed warming over the previous 50 years while none directly dissented.
Ms. Oreskes’s definition of consensus covered “man-made” but left out “dangerous”—and scores of articles by prominent scientists such as Richard Lindzen, John Christy, Sherwood Idso and Patrick Michaels, who question the consensus, were excluded. The methodology is also flawed. A study published earlier this year in Nature noted that abstracts of academic papers often contain claims that aren’t substantiated in the papers.
Read the whole thing.
01 Apr 2014
The Rumford Meteor reports on the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report: UN Climate Panel Says That According To Their Figures, You Drowned Last Thursday. And Don’t Try To Deny It.
24 Mar 2014
Judith Levy, editor of Ricochet, went through 175 responses to The Edge’s 2014 inquiry: What scientific idea is ready for retirement?, and selected a few responses offering very likely the best candidate: statistics.
Emanuel Derman, professor of financial engineering at Columbia, wrote that the power of statistics is an idea worth retiring:
…nowadays the world, and especially the world of the social sciences, is increasingly in love with statistics and data science as a source of knowledge and truth itself. Some people have even claimed that computer-aided statistical analysis of patterns will replace our traditional methods of discovering the truth, not only in the social sciences and medicine, but in the natural sciences too.
… Statistics—the field itself—is a kind of Caliban, sired somewhere on an island in the region between mathematics and the natural sciences. It is neither purely a language nor purely a science of the natural world, but rather a collection of techniques to be applied, I believe, to test hypotheses. Statistics in isolation can seek only to find past tendencies and correlations, and assume that they will persist. But in a famous unattributed phrase, correlation is not causation.
Science is a battle to find causes and explanations amidst the confusion of data. Let us not get too enamored of data science, whose great triumphs so far are mainly in advertising and persuasion. Data alone has no voice. There is no “raw” data, as Kepler’s saga shows. Choosing what data to collect and how to think about it takes insight into the invisible; making good sense of the data collected requires the classic conservative methods: intuition, modeling, theorizing, and then, finally, statistics.
Science journalist Charles Seife wrote that “statistical significance” is almost invariably misused, to the point that it has become
a boon for the mediocre and for the credulous, for the dishonest and for the merely incompetent. It turns a meaningless result into something publishable, transforms a waste of time and effort into the raw fuel of scientific careers. It was designed to help researchers distinguish a real effect from a statistical fluke, but it has become a quantitative justification for dressing nonsense up in the mantle of respectability. And it’s the single biggest reason that most of the scientific and medical literature isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.
24 Feb 2014
Michael Schulson notes the inconsistency of the community of fashion’s supposed commitment to Science as demonstrated by the ability of Whole Foods, every fashionista’s preferred market, to vend an endless array of products promising better health on the basis of one form or other of pseudo-science.
Americans get riled up about creationists and climate change deniers, but lap up the quasi-religious snake oil at Whole Foods. It’s all pseudoscience—so why are some kinds of pseudoscience more equal than others?
If you want to write about spiritually-motivated pseudoscience in America, you head to the Creation Museum in Kentucky. It’s like a Law of Journalism. The museum has inspired hundreds of book chapters and articles (some of them, admittedly, mine) since it opened up in 2007. The place is like media magnet. And our nation’s liberal, coastal journalists are so many piles of iron fillings.
But you don’t have to schlep all the way to Kentucky in order to visit America’s greatest shrine to pseudoscience. In fact, that shrine is a 15-minute trip away from most American urbanites.
I’m talking, of course, about Whole Foods Market. From the probiotics aisle to the vaguely ridiculous Organic Integrity outreach effort (more on that later), Whole Foods has all the ingredients necessary to give Richard Dawkins nightmares. And if you want a sense of how weird, and how fraught, the relationship between science, politics, and commerce is in our modern world, then there’s really no better place to go. Because anti-science isn’t just a religious, conservative phenomenon—and the way in which it crosses cultural lines can tell us a lot about why places like the Creation Museum inspire so much rage, while places like Whole Foods don’t.
My own local Whole Foods is just a block away from the campus of Duke University. Like almost everything else near downtown Durham, N.C., it’s visited by a predominantly liberal clientele that skews academic, with more science PhDs per capita than a Mensa convention.
Still, there’s a lot in your average Whole Foods that’s resolutely pseudoscientific. The homeopathy section has plenty of Latin words and mathematical terms, but many of its remedies are so diluted that, statistically speaking, they may not contain a single molecule of the substance they purport to deliver. The book section—yep, Whole Foods sells books—boasts many M.D.’s among its authors, along with titles like The Coconut Oil Miracle and Herbal Medicine, Healing, and Cancer, which was written by a theologian and based on what the author calls the Eclectic Triphasic Medical System.
You can buy chocolate with “a meld of rich goji berries and ashwagandha root to strengthen your immune system,” and bottles of ChlorOxygen chlorophyll concentrate, which “builds better blood.” There’s cereal with the kind of ingredients that are “made in a kitchen—not in a lab,” and tea designed to heal the human heart.
Nearby are eight full shelves of probiotics—live bacteria intended to improve general health. I invited a biologist friend who studies human gut bacteria to come take a look with me. She read the healing claims printed on a handful of bottles and frowned. “This is bullshit,” she said, and went off to buy some vegetables. Later, while purchasing a bag of chickpeas, I browsed among the magazine racks. There was Paleo Living, and, not far away, the latest issue of What Doctors Don’t Tell You. Pseudoscience bubbles over into anti-science. A sample headline: “Stay sharp till the end: the secret cause of Alzheimer’s.” A sample opening sentence: “We like to think that medicine works.”
At times, the Whole Foods selection slips from the pseudoscientific into the quasi-religious. It’s not just the Ezekiel 4:9 bread (its recipe drawn from the eponymous Bible verse), or Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, or Vitamineral Earth’s “Sacred Healing Food.” It’s also, at least for Jewish shoppers, the taboos that have grown up around the company’s Organic Integrity effort, all of which sound eerily like kosher law. There’s a sign in the Durham store suggesting that shoppers bag their organic and conventional fruit separately—lest one rub off on the other—and grind their organic coffees at home—because the Whole Foods grinders process conventional coffee, too, and so might transfer some non-organic dust. “This slicer used for cutting both CONVENTIONAL and ORGANIC breads” warns a sign above the Durham location’s bread slicer. Synagogue kitchens are the only other places in which I’ve seen signs implying that level of food-separation purity.
Look, if homeopathic remedies make you feel better, take them. If the Paleo diet helps you eat fewer TV dinners, that’s great—even if the Paleo diet is probably premised more on The Flintstones than it is on any actual evidence about human evolutionary history. If non-organic crumbs bother you, avoid them. And there’s much to praise in Whole Foods’ commitment to sustainability and healthful foods.
Still: a significant portion of what Whole Foods sells is based on simple pseudoscience. And sometimes that can spill over into outright anti-science (think What Doctors Don’t Tell You, or Whole Foods’ overblown GMO campaign, which could merit its own article). If scientific accuracy in the public sphere is your jam, is there really that much of a difference between Creation Museum founder Ken Ham, who seems to have made a career marketing pseudoscience about the origins of the world, and John Mackey, a founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, who seems to have made a career, in part, out of marketing pseudoscience about health?
Read the whole thing.
But there really is no inconsistency. The truth of the matter is that the national elite is credentialed, but ill-educated and typically scientifically illiterate. It is demonstrably perfectly possible to get a graduate degree in a scientific field and to fail to understand that an unfalsifiable theory like Global Warming is not science, precisely because it is unfalsifiable.
Their beliefs about the supposed health benefits of various products are perfectly akin to their choices of belief in all other areas.
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