Category Archive 'Junk Science'
28 Aug 2015

The Cult of Climate Change

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WitchDoctor6
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.

31 May 2015

Average of 102 Climate Models Versus Reality

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23 Sep 2014

The Science of Climate Change Demonstrated

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at last weekend’s Climate March. Yes, what we have here is science, alright.

ClimateMarch

Via Vanderleun.

17 Aug 2014

Why “Climate Change” Models Cannot Be Falsified

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witchdoctor4
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

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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

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If there is a drought, that is because of global warming. link

Except of course, when global warming causes heavy rainfall. link

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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

The 97% Myth

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ScientificMethod

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

No Climate Change Denying, Please!

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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

“Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics”

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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.
22 Mar 2014

Settled Science

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24 Feb 2014

Whole Foods, Junk Science, and the National Pseudo-Intelligentsia

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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.

08 Jan 2014

Best Recent Selfie

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30 Dec 2013

Detroit Abandoned, and Then Tore Down, a Major Library, Complete With Books

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This Flicker Photo essay by Brandon Davis shows how the combined impact of municipal corruption, fiscal incompetence, and superstitious belief in junk science actually resulted in the neglect and finally the abandonment and demolition of a major branch library in Detroit, complete with shelves and books. Nobody could enter the place to salvage anything. The black mold bogey and the asbestos monster might eat them.

The symbolism of all this, the reverse course in development and progress, the neglect and abandonment of the achievements of past Americans, the betrayal of their constituents by the crooks and looters in Detroit’s city government, all capped by reliance on wild-eyed phobias promoted by politicized pseudo-science to justify the final betrayal.

Detroiturbex:

The Mark Twain branch library on the corner of Gratiot Avenue and Seneca Street in Detroit is a study in physical and cultural decay. …

Twain was Detroit’s third regional library, (along with Parkman and Monteith), designed to be larger than a neighborhood library. Regional branches offered a wider selection of books and periodicals in an informal “clubhouse” environment, and could host public events, such as plays and concerts. Construction on the Twain branch finished in early 1940, and the library opened its doors to the public on February 22nd. The actual dedication of the library took place two months later, in a ceremony attended by city officials, religious leaders, and members of the business community. Over 20,000 books were on the shelves for opening day, watched over by head librarian Ethel Kellow.

For many years, the Twain branch was the social hub of the northeast side of Detroit. Numerous newspaper clippings from the 1940’s and 50’s note a wide variety of events hosted at the library, including a series of lectures on “Problems of Working Girls” held by Miss M. Sharpe, head of the personnel department of the Detroit Edison Co., Boy Scout troop meetings, and the playing of recorded symphonies conducted by Toscanini, Stokowski, and Iturbi for the Girls Music Club program. Well into the 1970’s and 80’s, Twain branch offered a haven for children and residents as the neighborhood around the library started to decline.

The Detroit Public Library started to run into financial problems in the early 1980’s, closing several branches and deferring maintenance on others. In the summer of 1990, several branches, including Twain, were closed due to significant shortfalls. A grant from the State of Michigan reopened Twain in September for two days a week, but a precedent had been set.

In 1996 or 97, long-delayed work began on repairing the roof of the Twain branch, which was leaking water. The scope of the repairs needed increased greatly as contractors found more damage than expected, including toxic asbestos and structural problems. In 1997, the library commission decided to replace the entire roof, and temporarily closed the Twain branch.

What had started off as small repairs grew into a large project that put the library out of service for the foreseeable future. As planning dragged on, residents complained about the lack of library services in the area. To address their concerns, a temporary “annex” for the Mark Twain branch was set up in the basement of Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist on Iroquois Street in 1998. About half of the books were moved from the old building to the annex branch, along with computers and other equipment.

Work on the old Twain branch stalled in 1999, as the Detroit Public Library faced another financial crisis. With many of its branch buildings approaching 50 years of age or more, the library estimated that over $100 million dollars in repairs were needed across the city. A millage campaign to fund operations and repairs passed in 2000, and shortly afterwards, the library announced that it would be spending $4 million dollars to repair and reopen three branches, including Mark Twain.

Progress on the Twain branch remained minimal though, even as the library commission claimed that work was going forward. Conditions at Twain were so hazardous that one contractor refused to enter the building to survey it in 2000. A follow up report on the millage by The Detroit News in August of 2002 stated that work was ongoing at the Twain branch, though no details were offered. In 2004 the library started to campaign for a renewal of the 2000 millage. A marketing brochure sent out to residents promoting the renewal featured a “report card” with a list of accomplishments from 2000, including the reopening of two branches (Richard and Skillman), “with the reopening of the Campbell and Mark Twain branches in the works.” Another item highlighted new roofs at 17 branches, “including Mark Twain branch.” No work appears to have been done, as by 2007 there were large holes in the roof over the general circulation room. Other letters sent out to residents in the neighborhood by the Detroit Public Library led them to believe that the millage would provide funds to reopen the Twain branch. The millage passed, but minimal work was carried out.

In 2003 and 2006 the library commission carried out surveys of the Twain branch, both time finding that the damage had grown more extensive and that it would cost more money to repair the building. Open holes in the roof were letting in water, leading to an infestation of black mold that crept across the walls and into the books that had been left behind. Despite promises given to the community and specific wording in the 2000 and 2004 millages that funds raised would be used to repair the library, little was being done to stabilize, much less improve the Twain branch.

The first public sign that saving Twain was a lost cause came in 2008, when negotiations between the Detroit Public Library and the Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance were opened to move the Mark Twain annex into a new mixed-use development that the Alliance was planning on the corner of Gratiot Avenue and Rohns Street. It was estimated that build-out for a new branch inside the development would cost about $1.5 million, less than the cost of renovating. By 2009 the old Twain branch was in visible decline, with broken windows and holes in the roof. When residents challenged members of the library commission at a December 15th meeting on why the bond money had not been spent restoring the library, a representative claimed “that the millage proposal pledge was to find a library solution,” sidestepping the issue. Despite ongoing talks with the Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance, residents were assured that no decision had been made regarding the future of the branch.

With its shelves of decaying books, Twain became a very visible symbol of mismanagement and decay in the media. Questions of why so many books and supplies had been left behind to molder dogged the Detroit Public Library, as images of the library featured heavily in news stories about the city. In May of 2011, an RFP for the demolition of the library was issued and discussed at a June 21st meeting. One of the commissioners raised concerns about items that had been left behind. According to the minutes, “Ms. Machie explained, back in 1997 when the building was decommissioned, everything was taken out, reassigned, or sold at a garage/book sale that was of any value. Branch librarians reviewed and selected books and were able to add to their book inventory. Ms. Machie said entering the building to retrieve materials would be hazardous…”

The contract to demolish Mark Twain library was awarded to Adamo Demolition in July of 2011 for just under $200,000. It did not include any provision for salvage of books or materials. Asbestos abatement began in September, and the building was gutted within a few weeks. Structural demolition of the building lasted into October. After work was finished and the demolition crew had left for the day, scavengers would pick through the piles of debris for bits of metal pipe and wiring. Curious onlookers would sneak under the fence to gaze at what was left of the building, or to take a brick for a souvenir.

Hat tip to Madame Scherzo.


Mark Twain Library, 1940

11 Jun 2013

Morning Belly Laugh

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Justin Gillis, in the magisterial New York Times, explains that climate science predictions of dramatic warming were wrong and climate scientists do not know why, but the failures of their theory don’t really matter. “More than a century of research thoroughly” proves that they are right.

It must be “natural variability” and the felicitous intervention of “deep ocean” cooling or the blocking of sunlight by air pollution in China or any of half a dozen explanations recently invented. But the basic science remains certain and established and agreed upon, even if none of its predictions have actually come through. One of these days, Gillis assures us, whatever is stopping the correct theory from working will just stop, and Sha-zam!, we will get: “an extremely rapid warming of the planet.”

Just keep believing.

As unlikely as this may sound, we have lucked out in recent years when it comes to global warming.

The rise in the surface temperature of earth has been markedly slower over the last 15 years than in the 20 years before that. And that lull in warming has occurred even as greenhouse gases have accumulated in the atmosphere at a record pace.

The slowdown is a bit of a mystery to climate scientists. True, the basic theory that predicts a warming of the planet in response to human emissions does not suggest that warming should be smooth and continuous. To the contrary, in a climate system still dominated by natural variability, there is every reason to think the warming will proceed in fits and starts.

But given how much is riding on the scientific forecast, the practitioners of climate science would like to understand exactly what is going on. They admit that they do not, even though some potential mechanisms of the slowdown have been suggested. The situation highlights important gaps in our knowledge of the climate system, some of which cannot be closed until we get better measurements from high in space and from deep in the ocean.

As you might imagine, those dismissive of climate-change concerns have made much of this warming plateau. They typically argue that “global warming stopped 15 years ago” or some similar statement, and then assert that this disproves the whole notion that greenhouse gases are causing warming.

Read the whole thing, and hold on to your chair as you laugh.

13 Nov 2012

In Japan, Blood Types as Destiny

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The BBC reports on the Japanese obsession with ketsueki-gata, a form of racialist junk science resembling astrology, which claims to be able to predict a person’s personality, temperament, and behavioral propensities from his blood type.

[In Japan,] a person’s blood type is popularly believed to determine temperament and personality. “What’s your blood type?” is often a key question in everything from matchmaking to job applications.

According to popular belief in Japan, type As are sensitive perfectionists and good team players, but over-anxious. Type Os are curious and generous but stubborn. ABs are arty but mysterious and unpredictable, and type Bs are cheerful but eccentric, individualistic and selfish.

About 40% of the Japanese population is type A and 30% are type O, whilst only 20% are type B, with AB accounting for the remaining 10%.

Four books describing the different blood groups characteristics became a huge publishing sensation, selling more than five million copies.

Morning television shows, newspapers and magazines often publish blood type horoscopes and discuss relationship compatibility. Many dating agencies cater to blood types, and popular anime (animations), manga (comics) and video games often mention a character’s blood type.

A whole industry of customised products has also sprung up, with soft drinks, chewing gum, bath salts and even condoms catering for different blood groups on sale.

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Types defined at length.

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Condoms (accompanied by special romantic advice) and perfume are marketed by blood type.

05 Aug 2012

US Warming Data From 1979-2008 Erroneously Doubled

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Watts Up With That:

A reanalysis of U.S. surface station temperatures has been performed using the recently WMO-approved Siting Classification System devised by METEO-France’s Michel Leroy. The new siting classification more accurately characterizes the quality of the location in terms of monitoring long-term spatially representative surface temperature trends. The new analysis demonstrates that reported 1979-2008 U.S. temperature trends are spuriously doubled, with 92% of that over-estimation resulting from erroneous NOAA adjustments of well-sited stations upward.

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