[asa] Re: Scientific stupidities part 2

From: Glenn Morton <glennmorton@entouch.net>
Date: Thu Mar 26 2009 - 22:24:24 EDT

And why should we pay attention to scientific consensus with global
 warming when the raw data is as I have shown it to be at my blog (http://themigrantmind.blogspot.com/2009/03/on-march-15-i-posted-note-on-blog-which.html


http://themigrantmind.blogspot.com/2009/03/raw-truth-actual-temperature-readings.html )


 Science loses its credibility when it doesn't live up to
 the ideas by which it requires others to live. We can't demand consensus
 without becoming a religion; and we can't demand that others pay attention
 to facts until we do. I would ask, is it irrelevant to ask what a
 thermometer is doing next to an air conditioner exhaust fan? isn't that a
 fact that needs to be dealt with?

 Well respected leaders in science can have undue influence in suppressing
 or delaying discovery, based solely upon their reaction to new

> Don Lincoln, Understanding the Universe from Quarks to the Cosmos,,
> (Hackensack, NJ: World Scientific Publishing, 2004), p. 88-89
> "With their apparatus In place, Anderson and Neddermeyer noticed some
> tracks that seemed to best be explained by a previously unknown particle,
> with a mass somewhere between that of an electron and a proton, lighter
> rather than heavier, but in any event something new. However, one of
> Anderson's senior colleagues, Robert Oppenheimer, of American atomic bomb
> fame, remained unconvinced. He maintained that these highly energetic
> particles could be electrons and that any deviation from Dirac's theory of
> quantum electrodynamics indicated a limitation of the theory, rather than
> a new particle. Somewhat intimidated by Oppenheimer's exceptional command
> of mathematics, Anderson and Neddermeyer published their photos with
> little comment and less fanfare."
> "However low their confidence, Anderson and Neddermeyer's paper traveled
> to Japan, where it was read by none other than Hideki Yukawa, the
> architect of the U -particle which, as we recall, was an attempt to
> explain the force that held together the atomic nucleus. The U -particle
> was supposed to have a mass midway between that the proton and electron.
> Needless to say, Yukawa's ears perked up. The 1930s were a time of rampant
> nationalism in Japan and one of Yukawa's colleagues, Yoshio Nishina,
> decided to try to find and measure the properties of some of these
> mid-massed particles, before the westerners appreciated their discovery.
> While the Japanese team knew what they were doing and for what they were
> looking, bad luck plagued them and they were able to record only one
> photograph that contained a U -particle candidate. With some more time,
> they would have solidified their effort but, unfortunately for them, time
> had run out. In the spring of 1937, Anderson had visited the Massachusetts
> Institute of Technology, where he learned that two physicists there, Jabez
> Street and E.C. Stevenson, had data similar to that of Anderson, but that
> they were considering announcing the discovery of a new particle. Not
> wanting to be scooped, Anderson wrote a quick article to the journal
> Physical Review, in which he claimed discovery of the particle, the
> existence of which Oppenheimer's earlier disbelief had caused him to soft
> peddle just a year earlier. Anderson's paper was published in May, with
> Street's paper presented at a meeting of the American Physical Society in
> late April, with final submission in October 1937. A new particle was
> added to the particle pantheon. In fact, particles were added, as it was
> soon clear that this new particle came in both a positive, as well as a
> negative, variety. As is usual the case of a discovery, it was soon
> evident that people had been photographing these new particles for years,
> without appreciating their significance. Many physicists went to sleep
> with the final words their minds "If only ... " "
> © source where applicable

 Lincoln also describes how in the discovery of a new meson particle,
 Anderson had taken his equipment to the top of a mountain and gotten 30
 photos of these events. After he wrote his paper, people poured over
 photos of cloud chamber events of the previous decade. All the researchers
 had missed the numerous opportunities to make that same discovery. They
 were not looking for things that didn't fit in. Thus they missed making a
 major discovery.

 Such consensual errors are not restricted to physics. Geology has their
 share of such stupidities

> Simon Winchester, Krakatoa, (New York: HarperCollins, 2003), p. 69
> "Alfred Wegener was German, an Arctic explorer, a meteorologist,
> pipe-smoking, taciturn, tenacious once described simply as 'the quiet man
> with a charming smile.' But the theory he advanced in a book published in
> 1915 made certain that he became famous though for the heresy for which he
> was famed he was vilified and, most cruelly, denied his deserved academic
> reward. And when he died, at the very early age of fifty, he was a figure
> of notoriety and ridicule. Only in the last few decades has the wheel come
> full circle, and has Alfred Wegener come to be regarded as one of the most
> prescient figures of twentieth-century science."
> "The problem that led to Wegener's personal trials was the very virtue
> that gave him the insight. He was a generalist, interested in everything,
> content to step outside the perimeters of this chosen
> science-meteorology-and to dabble in the wide variety of other unrelated
> sciences that fascinated him."
> © source where applicable

 Yet the consensus of geology and geologists was that he was a nutter.
 Isn't scientific consensus grand? It can't seem to separate evidence (of
 continental juxtoposition) from theory (how Wegener thought the continents
 separated). And because of this inability, they threw out the data baby
 with the theoretical bathwater.

 In medicine, the consensus was that ulcers were due to stress. Don't try
 to question that consensus view. The experts KNEW that ulcers were not
 caused by bacteria. Anyone facing down those experts in the 1960s and
 1970s and claiming that bacteria H. pylori, caused ulcers would have lost
 all funding and been considered a nut--gee, come to think of it, that is
 exactly what that Australian Doctor who proved that H. pylori causes
 ulcers faced. Who'da thought that an expert might be wrong?

 In anthropology the consensus view was that no one was in the New World
 prior to Clovis. A very influential anthropologist, C. Vance Haynes,
 required higher and higher standards of proof just to keep the Clovis
 first theory alive. It was, after all the consensus view.

> J. M. Adovasio with Jake Page, The First Americans, (New York: Random
> House, 2002), p. 223-224
> "Then, suddenly and in a sense parenthetically, the talk turned to
> Meadowcroft, and Haynes told me and the assembled multitude that if only I
> would date just one seed or one nut from the deepest levels at
> Meadow-croft, he might be led to believe in t he antiquity of the site."
> "That was it, I burst out in derisive laughter. Over the years, in
> scientific paper after scientific paper, Haynes had asked for yet another
> date, yet another study, raising yet another picayune and fanciful
> questions about Meadowcroft, most of which had been answered long before
> he asked them-not just in the original excavation procedures but in report
> after report. Up until this time in Monte Verde, I had complied."
> . . .
> "Horse*%&#, I said constructively. I told Vance Haynes there and then that
> never would I accede to any request he made for further testing of the
> Meadowcroft site because if I did he would simply ask for something else
> in a never-ending spiral of problems. I explained that the matter of
> Meadowcroft's antiquity was settled as far as most other professionals and
> I were concerned, and that if any remaining skeptics did not believe it, I
> could not care less. I then stormed out of the bar with Tom to cool off
> outside in the parking lot."
> © source where applicable

 Each of us has a group of friends, most of whom hold very similar views.
 They echo our vies back to us and we tend to think that their statements
 confirms our belief system, when in fact, they are causally related via an
 echo chamber. Science is no different over the short term. Eventually
 facts will win out, but the reality is that very few scientists actually
 innovate--they merely go along with the current zeitgeist of their field,
 content to lay a brick here or there in the superstructure of the
 presently most popular view.

 Consensus, in a field ruled by academics who get their funding from people
 who have a bias, is no guarantor that the consensus will be true. Frankly,
 climatologists get their funding most easily by falling in line and saying
 the earth is getting hotter. That makes me very suspicious. I point all
 these examples of bias out to counter the usual incredulous claim that
 "surely I can't be saying that there is a grand conspiracy of
 climatologists, can I?" No, it is the usual form of scientific consensus
 that tries to dismiss anyone who questions, or ridicule anyone who points
 out contradictory data.

 One can see this reaction probably the most easily in the political arena.
 Go into a group of conservatives and speak a liberal view. You will get
 ridiculed and they will pile on with arguments. Go into a group of
 liberals and challenge their views with something conservative. Hoots and
 howls of derision will ensue aimed at the heretic and his views. And there
 is the problem both in science and in politics, when we are challenged
 seriously by something the unbeliever says, we shut down and cease
 listening. I saw this two days ago with a liberal friend when I challenged
 his belief that it would be good for the economy if people had fewer
 children. I asked him who would pay for social security for the Boomers,
 and who would buy the gadgets the factories would put out. I pointed out
 that every society that has undergone population declines has also had
 financial decline. Prices fall because of lack of demand. He shut down.
 You could see it in his face. He ceased listening and wasn't going to let
 the argument inside. While we can see this in others, we fail to see or
 acknowledge it when we do it, when, inevitably, someone challenges our
 deeply held beliefs. This creates an attitude of
 I-listen-to-the-facts-but-that-other-guy-doesn't, when in fact it might be
 both who aren't listening to the facts.

 There is another reason I cite all these examples of scientific bias
 getting in the way of truth. Over of the last six months debating global
 warming, the word consensus has arisen more than once, as if I should be
 impressed and silenced by the mere mention of that word. As I mentioned
 above, I feel burned by the scientific consensus because I trusted it when
 I believed in global warming. I felt the same betrayal when I found out
 that I couldn't truth my fellow Christians concerning the age of the
 earth. I have been applauded by secularists for the latter, but no doubt
 will be considered nutso for the former. In truth, all things should be up
 for consideration, for questioning. Scientists should especially avoid the
 oppressive claim that consensus should be followed. That is a religious
 demand not a scientific demand. Science demands questioning and requires
 the freedom to do so. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the global warming
 advocates have moved into religion with their constant claims about what
 the scientific consensus is. That is no better than the claim that
 Catholics should believe in the infallability of the Pope when he speaks
 ex cathedra merely because a few cardinals voted that Pope Pius was
 infallible in such conditions. It is amazing how wrong consensus can be.

> A. N. Wilson, God's Funeral,(New York: Ballantine Books, 1999), p. 222-223
> Not only did the Pope and the Council Fathers set out to attack the
> "pantheism, materialism and atheism of the time", but the more extreme
> among them (none more extreme than the English representative, Cardinal
> Manning) proposed declaring the Pope to be infallible. This last idea was
> too much even mor many of the Council Fathers themselves. The trains out
> of Rome were jammed with cardinals and bishops escaping from the Council
> before the matter came to a head. In the event, just before the Council
> broke up the Infallibility issue was put to the vote. In a thunderstorm of
> Biblical loudness and violence, the Holy Father proclaimed himself
> infallible. Of the seven hundred bishops who had assembled at the
> beginning of the Council in 1869, a mere 533 were present to vote for the
> notion that one of their fellow human beings could speak with total
> infallibility on matters of faith and morals.
> © source where applicable

 Even if a gazillion climatologists claim that the earth is warming, if the
 data is crap, and the data doesn't support such a view, their consensus is
 no better than the consensus of the Cardinals that the pope spoke
 infallibly. Indeed, it might be exactly the same quality of consensus.

Below this, are additional examples added in a give and take of a debate:

> Add on:
> Originally posted by rogue06
> Scientists being fallible human beings are subject to their prejudices
> and preconceptions just like everyone else. But science is made of
> numerous individuals who are not all going to share the same prejudices
> and preconceptions. Being that they don’t all have the same biases means
> that something isn’t going to be blindly accepted as fact by everyone just
> because it matches up with a general consensus of some sort. I think this
> is why bad science eventually gets weeded out even if in some instances it
> takes considerably longer than it should.

 Such is the hope, but the hope can be void of fulfillment for quite a long
 time--indeed, longer than an individual's career or life.

 I was criticized on another board (and I think on this board) for
 believing that so many climatologists could all be wrong, with the
 conclusion being drawn that I must therefore have been advocating a grand
 conspiracy. I denied that conclusion and mentioned group think. Group
 think is a wonderfully dangerous thing. It makes for a coherent tribe, but
 it stifle dissent and drives out those who would question. Group think is
 a big part of YEC, and I can attest from personal experience, that once
 one starts questioning, the social pressure to push you out of their
 mainstream is no different than the pressure I have seen applied to me
 when I dare question global warming--I say that scientists should always
 be allowed to questions.

 One thing many people are unaware of is Asch's conformity test

> �Listen to this edition
> PROG 1 - Solomon Asch - Conformity
> Every day we try to fit in. We may like to think we're individual but most
> of the time we don't actually want to stand out too much. It's this idea
> of conformity that the American social psychologist Solomon Asch studied
> in the 1950s, using nothing more complex than straight black lines drawn
> on pieces of card - it's one of the classic experiments in psychology.
> Asch believed people wouldn't go along with the crowd; he set up his
> experiment to prove that people would stand up against group pressure.
> Unknown to his subjects, the rest of the group were stooges or plants,
> who'd been instructed to say A was longer than B, even though it patently
> wasn't. Contrary to his expectations, Asch discovered that a third of
> people went along with the group, even when it contradicted the evidence
> of their own eyes.
> Claudia Hammond investigates the reasons for this and asks whether we're
> more or less likely to conform today.
> http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/science/mindchangers1.shtml

 Yes, it is only a third, but wow, you can get a third of the sheeple's to
 say a shorter line is longer without too much trouble. Throw out 1/3 of
 that 'consensus'

 But, add to it the Milgrom experiment, which has a boss telling you what
 to do, or what to believe, and you produce a very high pressure on the
 individual to conform


 Those who cite the consensus is what we should believe approach to science
 totally ignore the fact that few of us, including me, are willing to risk
 our incomes in order to stand for principle even if we believe the
 principle. Maybe that is why so many weather people become sceptics of AGW
 when they retire and can't be hurt any longer. Yes, it says bad things
 about humanity, but there it is.

 And if you add political pressure you can get people to say almost

> From skepdic.com
> It was due to Lysenko's efforts that many real scientists, those who were
> geneticists or who rejected Lamarckism in favor of natural selection, were
> sent to the gulags or simply disappeared from the USSR. Lysenko rose to
> dominance at a 1948 conference in Russia where he delivered a passionate
> address denouncing Mendelian thought as "reactionary and decadent" and
> declared such thinkers to be "enemies of the Soviet people" (Gardner
> 1957). He also announced that his speech had been approved by the Central
> Committee of the Communist Party. Scientists either groveled, writing
> public letters confessing the errors of their way and the righteousness of
> the wisdom of the Party, or they were dismissed. Some were sent to labor
> camps. Some were never heard from again.
> http://skepdic.com/lysenko.html
> © source where applicable

 Who among you would stand for principle at such a time?

 Ok, those were extraordinary times. How many of you would tell your fellow
 scientists at a university that you actually like some slightly heretical
 view in your science? How many would do it if you still were wanting to
 get tenure? funding? a paper published?

 Yes, scientists are human and that is why group sheeple-think actually is
 something science should worry about.

 Then there is also the Ising model of the spread of ideas through society

> Michael Brooks, "Why We Sometimes To Go To Extremes,"New Scientist, , Nov.
> 24, 2007, p. 14
> "IN CERTAIN societies, people's views naturally migrate over time towards
> extreme ends of a political spectrum, where they will become entrenched.
> This, at least, is what a mathematical analysis of human behaviour by
> Andre Martins of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil has shown."
> "Martins's computer model is designed to simulate the way opinions can
> spread through a society. It is based on a mathematical model of the way
> atoms align their magnetic fields. The underlying idea is that
> individuals' opinions can be influenced by the views of their neighbours,
> just as the orientation of an atom's magnetic field tends to line up with
> that of its neighbours."
> "While such an approach undoubtedly simplifies human behaviour, it has
> already shown some success by predicting people's voting patterns in the
> build-up to an election. In that study, people's views were modelled as
> two simple states of mind. Now Martins has extended this to allow each
> human 'agent' to hold a range of opinions cross a defined spectrum."
> © source where applicable


 When, in the 1990s hundreds of rural stations were dropped, that too is a
 problem. I don't care what thousands of scientists believe about it but
 those rural stations were the ones which were often showing cooling or
 unchanged temperatures. Here is an urban heat island study which points
 out that the area around Houston, the rural area, didn't experience any
 temperature rise. Note the bolded part.

> David R. Streutker, “Satellite-measured growth of the urban heat island of
> Houston, Texas” p. 1
> Growth of the surface temperature urban heat island of Houston, Texas is
> determined
> by comparing two sets of heat island measurements taken twelve years
> apart. Individual heat island characteristics are calculated from
> radiative temperature
> maps obtained using the split-window infrared channels of the Advanced
> Very
> High Resolution Radiometer on board National Oceanic and Atmospheric
> Administration
> polar-orbiting satellites. Eighty-two nighttime scenes taken between 1985
> and 1987 are compared to 125 nighttime scenes taken between 1999 and 2001.
> Analysis
> of the urban heat island characteristics from these two intervals reveals
> a mean
> growth in magnitude of 0.8 K, or 35%.”
> http://files.harc.edu/Projects/CoolH...Heatisland.pdf
> © source where applicable


> David R. Streutker, “Satellite-measured growth of the urban heat island of
> Houston, Texas”
> For interval 1 the mean rural temperature of the area surrounding the city
> of
> Houston is 17.2 ± 0.7_C. (The uncertainty quoted is the standard deviation
> of
> the mean and does not include any attempt to quantify the errors discussed
> in the previous section.) The mean rural temperature of the same area for
> interval 2 is 17.1 ± 0.8_C, virtually identical to the earlier interval.
> p. 5 http://files.harc.edu/Projects/CoolH...Heatisland.pdf
> © source where applicable

 By dropping the rural stations out of the net, one gets more urban heat
 island and less input of stable temperature records. The problem for me is
 that regardless of why this is happening, it is happening. And consensus is that it doesn't matter--they are ignoring the evidence.

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Received on Thu Mar 26 22:24:06 2009

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