Re: [asa] World sets ocean temperature record

From: John Burgeson (ASA member) <>
Date: Sat Aug 22 2009 - 17:23:47 EDT

Cameron: I do read a lot -- on both sides.

I refer you the the magazine NATURE, which is one of science, not politics.

If you can find even ONE article in it over the past -- say -- three
years that suggests that the science I reported in my little article
is incorrect (I assume you read it) then I'd be most interested in
looking at it. I read NATURE regularly but not completely; I could
have missed something.

Meantime -- take a look at the links Rich provided. Check what the
real scientists do. Climate science is not that hard to understand. It
IS hard to do!

BTW, I am myself sympathetic to the ID concepts. But I don't see them
as science. I challenged Johnson on this back in 1997. See my article
published the next year in the ID publication ORIGINS AND DESIGN. A
copy of it is on my website at


On 8/22/09, Cameron Wybrow <> wrote:
> Burgy:
> I am not claiming to be an expert on climate change, nor do I have any
> particular axe to grind about the data, theories, and models. (I *do* have
> an axe to grind against leftist politicians and ideologues like Al Gore and
> Gwynne Dyer who are making cultural and political hay out of the climate
> change debate, but that is another matter.)
> I have found it interesting, though -- and relevant to the purpose of the
> ASA, which is in part to promote responsible science and analyze the
> foundations of scientific belief -- that over the last several months, on
> this site, people are always linking to sites and articles and blogs that
> purport to show beyond doubt that the data posted by the "deniers" is all
> wrong, filled with lies, written by the oil companies, etc., whereas over at
> UD, an equal or greater number of sites and articles and blogs are cited
> that purport to show beyond all doubt that world temperatures have
> "flatlined" since about 2002, that the arctic icecaps have almost recovered,
> etc. Almost all the ASA people have appeared to believe their sources
> uncritically, and almost all the UD people appear to believe their sources
> equally uncritically. So who is an intelligent, neutral person supposed to
> believe? The dozens of facts and opinions endorsed by admiring ASA people,
> or the dozens of facts and opinions endorsed by admiring UD people?
> It is hard for me to judge, but one thing that tilts me slightly toward AGW
> skepticism is the sanctimonious tone and the appeal to authority and
> consensus that I find in the pro-AGW literature and news reports. The
> moment I hear someone telling me that I should believe something because
> "the scientific consensus" holds to it, or because some official body holds
> to it, or because the United Nations agrees to it, or because some
> prestigious body of Scandinavian scientists agrees to it, or because most
> climatologists agree to it, my back gets up. I distrust all arguments from
> authority. Arguments from authority are to a philosopher no argument at
> all, but attempts at intimidation.
> Appeals to specialist knowledge are also very suspect in many cases.
> Specialists often have specialist blinders. When the only pair of glasses
> you own has green lenses, the whole world looks green. Specialists also are
> often too arrogant to listen to anyone who has an outside perspective and
> therefore doesn't do things they way they are done from "within the club".
> They also often have their professional egos tied up with pet theories.
> Someone once said, "There are no specialists, only vested interests". That
> is an exaggeration, of course, but one with truth in it. So when someone
> says that "only climatologists know anything about global warming", I either
> laugh out loud (if I'm in a good mood) or I turn purple with rage at the
> specialist smugness. I say: Really? Geographers, geologists, physicists,
> engineers and mathematicians who work specifically in modelling complex
> systems, etc. -- know *nothing* relevant to discussions of climate change,
> because their Ph.D. is not in climatology? They are not entitled to an
> opinion? They have no right or competence to criticize the methods of the
> climatologists? They don't have well-enough trained scientific and
> mathematical minds to see potential problems in a climatological argument or
> hypothesis? What a bunch of self-serving baloney!
> I know from five years of intense study of the intelligent design debate
> that claims of specialist competence can be ludicrous. I've heard it said
> that Behe has no business commenting on evolution because he is only a
> biochemist, not a biologist -- as if biochemistry has no relation to
> genetics, and through that, to evolutionary claims! Or that none of the ID
> people have anything relevant to say about evolution, because none of them
> has a Ph.D. in biology. Leaving aside the fact that Wells has a Ph.D. in
> developmental biology, neo-Darwinian theory relies largely on stochastic
> mechanisms, and you can't discuss the likelihood of the truth of
> neo-Darwinism unless you have mathematicians who can deal with probability.
> Dembski's work is thus highly relevant, even though he has no degrees in
> biology. So also were the comments of the high-level M.I.T. mathematicians
> and engineers who participated in the 1966 Wistar conference which was
> critical of neo-Darwinian evolution. (That Wistar conference, curiously, is
> never mentioned by the biologists here -- another example of specialist
> blindness to opinions coming from intelligent outsiders?) And there's also
> an interesting double-standard when people argue, well, OK, there are a few
> ID supporters with Ph.D.s in biology, but they still aren't qualified to
> talk about *evolution* because they aren't *evolutionary biologists*, as
> Coyne and Dawkins are. Interesting. Ken Miller (a cell biologist) and
> Eugenie Scott (an anthropologist) are never similarly disqualified.
> Apparently non-specialist opinions are worthless if they go against the
> consensus of the specialists, but of great value if they support the
> specialists. Surely the dishonesty of the appeal to the notion of
> "specialization" is in such cases very apparent.
> Let's not forget that Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA,
> was a physicist, not a biologist or even a biochemist. And let's not forget
> that Darwin's only university degree was in Arts; he had dropped out of the
> only scientific training program he had ever enrolled in (medicine), and had
> not a single formal qualification in zoology when he published *The Origin
> of Species*. Yet he revolutionized zoology. And Robert Alter, an English
> professor, in co-operation with some other outsiders, revolutionized the
> study of the Old Testament by forcing the specialists in Biblical Studies
> (who were die-hard worshippers of the historical-critical method) to
> acknowledge the power of the narratological method, something which the
> specialist training of Biblical studies up to Alter's time utterly blinded
> Biblical scholars from seeing. If the Old Testament experts had had their
> way, we would be stuck in an eternal time warp, endlessly discussing nothing
> but J, E, D, and P, the Early Source, the Late Source, etc. Biblical
> studies would be an arid, sterile desert, instead of the lively field it is
> today. Intelligent outside criticism is needed everywhere in life, to keep
> the specialists honest, and to bring in breaths of fresh air when fields of
> inquiry grow stale.
> In any case, even if we accept the argument that climatologists know more
> than anyone else about global warming, the fact is that *some* Ph.D.s in
> climatology *do* dispute the consensus. How do we deal with that? Take a
> show of hands, and if 90% of the climatologists say yes and only 10% say no,
> the majority wins? Is that a good scientific principle? If we held to
> that, we would still believe in phlogiston and the four humours and the
> Ptolemaic system of astronomy. Isn't it possible that the 10% are right,
> and the 90% are wrong? It's happened many times before in the history of
> science.
> Burgy, does your opinion on the AGW issue come mainly from reading opinions
> of the sort you have cited? Does it come from mere deference to those you
> take to be specialists? Or do you have training in climatology, or at least
> in mathematical modelling and physics, which allows you to read the primary,
> highly technical climatological modelling literature by yourself? Can you
> follow the calculus and/or algebra used in the complex climate change
> equations? Have you checked the assumptions? Or are you reliant on the
> opinions of others for what you believe about it? If you are reliant on the
> opinions of others, why should I follow your opinion? If your opinion is
> secondhand, and I follow you, wouldn't my opinion be thirdhand?
> My comments above are not meant as a personal assault upon you. I mean no
> disrespect. I would not think less of you if you lacked the scientific
> training needed to read the primary source literature in climatology. I
> can't read it myself, so I could hardly criticize you on that score. I am
> posing a serious epistemological question. How can anyone who isn't an
> expert know which experts to believe? How can anyone tell when the expert's
> opinion is tainted by ego, vanity, money slipped under the table, peer
> pressure, generous research grants, hopes of a Nobel Prize from Scandinavian
> AGW-disposed Nobel judges, etc.? And given that the scientists who are
> loudest about "the science is settled", and who insultingly call their
> dissident peers "deniers" (rather than treating them with respect, as a
> loyal intellectual opposition), seem to be working hand-in-glove with
> leftist political activists (Al Gore, David Suzuki, Gwynne Dyer, etc.) whose
> views on almost every moral, political and economic issue I utterly despise
> and whom I regard as enemies of Western civilization, how can I *not*
> suspect their "science" of being ideologically driven? I have seen the
> intellectual and academic and political dishonesty of another group of
> scientific "experts" -- the neo-Darwinians; I have seen the intellectual and
> academic and political dishonesty of the "experts" with Ph.D.s in education
> who have ruined our school systems with their left-wing-ideology-based
> curriculum and teaching methods; why should I believe that climate change
> scientists are immune from political motivations?
> One thing that would help to convince me of the objectivity of
> climate-change science would be the ability of its proponents to write up
> the *main practical results* of the science in everyday English, without
> endless complex technical diagrams and technical jargon. When a specialist
> hides behind impenetrable jargon that no one else can understand, it is hard
> to trust the specialist. Even if the average person cannot understand the
> *proofs* offered by climate-change scientists (the math being too technical,
> etc.) the average educated person should be able to understand the *general
> outline of the argument*. If the general outline of the argument looks
> good, the average educated person will be inclined to trust the specialist
> regarding the details. But if the general outline of the argument is hazy,
> fuzzy, illogical, etc.; if the argument appears to rest on speculations,
> arbitrary suppositions, etc.; if it is filled with expressions in the
> subjunctive mood; and most of all, if it is filled with invective and
> denunciation against those who disagree, rather than a calm, rational,
> expository tone -- then the public will rightfully suspect that climate
> change scientists (and even more, their journalistic and political
> supporters) are trying to put one over on them, of substituting guesswork or
> pet theories for solid results, possibly motivated by an anti-Western,
> anti-capitalist political agenda.
> In any case, I would make a small wager that, just as the number of people
> who post regularly on this list who can talk about detailed Darwinian
> mechanisms is very small (I would guess 10 maximum, and probably more like
> 6), and the number who can demonstrate in Darwinian terms the detailed
> origin of the eye or lung is smaller (i.e., 0), and yet almost everyone here
> is sure that neo-Darwinism is right, so the number of people on this list
> who have the specialist competence even to *understand* the climate-change
> primary technical literature is very small (I'm guessing no more than 6),
> and the number who could actually sustain the AGW argument against a
> knowledgeable skeptic, with full scientific and mathematical rigour, is
> considerably smaller (I would guess no more than 1 or 2), yet just about
> everyone here is sure that "the science is settled" when it comes to AGW.
> If I am wrong in saying the above, I invite correction. But if I am right,
> I cannot understand the uncritical attitude that pervades this list, leading
> to the mere following of consensus or authority on major controversial
> issues. Why do people here trust the AGW websites and opinions, and not the
> anti-AGW websites and opinions, *unless they can do the science themselves*?
> I simply do not believe that the almost complete submission to AGW here,
> versus the almost complete rejection of it over at UD, is a statistical
> fluke. There are "predispositions to believe" and "predispositions to
> disbelieve" going on here. Why should there be such a correlation between
> ID and AGW skepticism, and TE and fervent AGW endorsement? Something deeper
> is going on here than a mere debate over the techniques of measuring Arctic
> ice thickness.
> Cameron.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "John Burgeson (ASA member)" <>
> To: "Cameron Wybrow" <>
> Cc: "asa" <>
> Sent: Saturday, August 22, 2009 12:14 PM
> Subject: Re: [asa] World sets ocean temperature record
>> Caneron, with all due respect, some of the data you refer to in your
>> post is simply not correct.
>> A few months ago I wrote a short article for the Rico Bugle in which I
>> tried very hard to summarize the issue of AGW. This article can be
>> accessed at
>> Below I comment on some of your post:
>> Burgy
>> On 8/22/09, Cameron Wybrow <> wrote:>
>>> 1. Are there sound scientific measurements which indicate that the earth
>>> is
>>> warming?
>> Answer; Yes. There are several independent lines of evidence.
>>> 2. Is there evidence to indicate that part of this warming is caused by
>>> human-produced greenhouse gases?
>> Answer: Yes. The first support for this came about 50 years ago with
>> isotope studies. I refer you to the book THE DISCOVERY OF GLOBAL
>> WARMING by Spencer Weart. The full text is available free online. I
>> bought the book.
>>> 3. Is the component of global warming caused by human-produced
>>> greenhouse
>>> gases significant enough that even a major reduction in production of
>>> such
>>> gases would make a significant difference to icecap melting and sea
>>> levels
>>> and other things?
>> Answer: Yes. More importantly, if such emissions are NOT curtailed, it
>> is possible that civilization itself will not be around in 200 years.
>> Admittedly, this is a pessimistic outlook; what the OPTIMISTIC outlook
>> is that there will be a significant sea level rise (7 meters or so)
>> and resulting deaths in the millions from flooding.
>>> 4. If the answer to #3 is "yes", what are the realistic trade-offs
>>> (social,
>>> political, economic, ecological, etc.) between *not* reducing greenhouse
>>> gas
>>> emissions, and tolerating a shrinkage in the ice caps and a probable rise
>>> in
>>> ocean levels of Y feet over the next X years, and taking drastic action
>>> on
>>> the industrial, economic and political front to reduce the greenhouse
>>> gases?
>> Answer: These tradeoffs get debated all the time on such sites as
>> and others. Join in. Anybody may post t here.
>>> 5. Given the answer to #4, what is the wisest policy to follow?
>> Answer: See above. Most (not all) scientists see the current Waxman
>> bill as a "good start."
>>> If everybody, on the left or the right, would ask the questions about
>>> global
>>> warming in some such sequential way, public discussion could be rational
>>> and
>>> helpful. But the questions are often lumped together in a blurry way,
>> Comment: I agree.
>> (It makes more scientific sense to deny the fact of global warming
>> today than it
>>> did 6 or 7 years ago,
>> Commet: Flat wrong.
>>> Then you had arrogant scientists who, having committed themselves to the
>>> AGW
>>> analysis, would not retract it even when new temperature data came in,
>>> and
>>> even when Canadian scientists showed that the "hockey stick" model was
>>> flawed,
>> Comment: It's not flawed. See discussions on
>>> Over at Uncommon Descent, on the other hand, there is a tendency of ID
>>> people to dispute many of the scientific arguments in favour of AGW
>>> (especially since the temperatures have flatlined and the Arctic ice has
>>> almost recovered),
>> Comment: See the discussions of this on Both pole ice
>> and Greenland ice are a factor and all are shrinking.
>> BTW, RealCimate is run by persons such as Gavin Schmidt who are real
>> climate scientists. If one posts data there that is clearly in error,
>> things can get a little rough.
>> Burgy
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Received on Sat Aug 22 17:24:23 2009

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