Re: [asa] Data doesn't support global warming

From: Glenn Morton <glennmorton@entouch.net>
Date: Mon Dec 21 2009 - 11:34:24 EST

We are all fallen creatures and we all excel in some areas of morality and
fail miserably in other areas. One of my biggest failings is my stridency
and argumentation style. I apologize to the group for the style I have
engaged in.

Billy Joel has a song I like. It has the signature lines " Honesty is such a
lonely word.
Everyone is so untrue." Honesty is something that we all strive for. But
honesty is a curious thing. One does not find out whether or not one is
honest by telling the other guy that he is dishonest nor by having others
tell us that we are are. One finds out one is honest when one accepts data
and events which bring harm upon our person, wealth and position. "Did you
know you were going 70 in a 60?" the officer said to me one day on the way
to my ranch in my little red sports car. "Actually officer, I thought I was
going 65 but that will still get me a ticket" I replied very truthfully. It
is only at such times when we are tempted strongly to say "I was only going
59, officer", or 'you have a lying radar gun!" that we can truly test our
honesty. Of course in those cases the officer is there to collect data to
show to the judge of not only our speeding but our dishonesty if we lie
about the speed we thought we were going. We only test our scientific
honesty when we have spent time on a theory and find a nasty ugly
contradictory fact. Do we hide it or do we let others know that our theory
has big problems?

Another case where one gets to find out if one is truly honest or not is
when one plays golf. In golf it is quite common for a pro to flag himself
by a stroke, and lose his position, even though absolutely no one saw the
infraction. That culture is enforced by absolute shunning if a golfer is
ever caught cheating, but that harsh penalty does keep every one of those
fallen golfers honest with their stroke counts. But once again, they only
find out how honest they are when they have to flag themselves, not when
they get to point out that the other guy didn't count a stroke. Neither is
it honesty to have someone else point out their miscount to them. That isn't
honesty; that is getting caught.

The ASA is an organization I have been a member of for about 15 years. It
has two sides, Christianity and science, both of which aspire to speaking
truth, finding truth, and living truth. Truth and honesty requires that we
flag our mistakes or inconsistencies as happens in golf, even if no one
notices as I did when at the very bottom of my Dec 19, 9:27am post I noted
some discrepancies in my data. I point this out only so that people will
know that I am not demanding more than I apply to myself. And I quickly
acknowledged the error I had made in the plot x-axis label and fixed it even
though no one else caught the error but a mere comment made me think about
what I might have done wrong. Both science and Christianity have taught me
that these are our standards. That is the ideal, isn't it?

I have said that science is about asking questions, not accepting consensus
or the status quo. But it is also about answering questions, truthfully, and
making sound judgments as to the fitness of a particular experimental set
up, methodology or result. To avoid obvious judgments about data or set up
violates the spirit and the honesty we are supposed to see in science and
which our Christian duty requires. Our Lord is Truth, we should at least
strive to have the same standard as golf does and uphold truth to the best
of our abilities.

In this last sense, when what we deeply believe runs into data deeply
contradictory of that belief, the judgment we make becomes a moral judgment
every bit as much as the judgment whether or not to say "yes officer, I was
speeding" or "no Officer your radar gun is no good". There is only one
history. I was either speeding or I wasn't. I was either going 70 or I
wasn't. I can be mistaken about the quantity of speeding but I couldn't be
mistaken about my speeding. It was contradictory to my material well being
to have to pay the fine but flagging myself was the right thing to do.

Likewise scientific data brings contradictory data to all of our deeply held
beliefs. None of us like data which are contradictory to our preferred
belief system. But liking something is not a standard of truth. To deny
contradictory data, or to act as if there is nothing that contradicts our
position, is also to make a decision in the realm of morality as much as it
is the realm of fact. There is only one temperature history to the earth. We
may have poor means of deciding what it was, but logic demands that we can't
possibly have had the historically coldest year in 1890 AND the historically
coldest year in 1910 and say that they are the same history as was stated
last night with no one objecting but me.

This morning I began Simon Singh's The Big Bang. On page 9 he writes:

"On the other hand, if theoretical prediction is inaccurate and conflicts
with an experiment or observatin, then the theory must be rejected, or at
least adapted, regardless of how well the theory does in terms of beauty or
simplicity. It is the supreme challenge, and a brutal one, but ever
scientific theory must be testable and compatible witgh reality. The
nineteenth-century naturalist Thomas Huxley stated it thus: "The great
tragedy of Science--the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact."

Conformance to reality implies conformance to logic. A and not-A can't both
be true at the same time, especially in the observational sciences.
Logically 1890 and 1910 can not both be at the same time in the same
universe the single coldest year. Yet such a claim seems to slide down our
gullets here quite easily.

 Science, my friends, does make judgments which have a moral dimension. Do
we deep six the contradictory data, which we really don't want everyone to
know about, even if right now no one else in the world knows of this data?
Or do we acknowledge it along with the fact that none of our theories are
perfect and all have problems. Do we, like Phil Jones of CRU hacked emails
fame did, talk to reporters trying to keep them from reporting contradictory
data
(http://www.eastangliaemails.com/emails.php?eid=504&filename=1111085657.txt)?
Is that moral?

When faced with a question of whether or not a thermometer would be heated
by an air conditioner, and the answer is the scientific equivalent of that
penalty stroke in golf, do we admit that the AC would warm the thermometer
or do we have a head ache and refuse to answer? Do we, when shown the siting
standards and shown stations that violate those standards, do we claim
bleary eyes in an attempt to not answer a valid scientific question? Do we
ignore the question altogether? What would Christ do actually becomes
important at these moments in science.

The moral dimensions of science are legion. Do we avoid answering questions
like some slimy lawyer in a courtroom seeking to win the popularity of the
jury and avoiding getting points scored against us? Is science won by point
scoring anyway? Or do we behave like truth seekers knowing that all facts
will lead us towards the truth and that no one knows it all and thus science
can't be 'settled'--ever. And by behaving like truth seekers can we embrace
the contradictory data knowing that it will lead us to new knowledge?

I love the ASA because of its union of the morality of Christianity and the
demands of dealing with data in science. But unfortunately when this
premier Christian science organization is led by a man who cannot make the
most simple scientific judgment that a thermometer on an AC exhaust fan will
warm up because of that fan, (something I think my 5 year old
grand-daughters could figure out even if they were tired and bleary-eyed),
and when members sit silent allowing factually false claims (like two
temperature reconstructions showing two different coldest years are really
one history), then I think that this organization sadly does not have the
morality of the atheist golfers. Those who sit quiet may have all sorts of
reasons to remain silent but the reality is, that by failing to maintain
standards of truth, by not speaking up, by not being honest when the data
goes against one's position, one is participating in the moral decay of
both science and Christianity. Shame on all of us. We fail both the spirit
of science AND Christianity.

Last night I mentioned how disappointed I was with Randy's answer. I was
extremely disappointed I have just told my wife not to renew my membership
to this organization. I for one do not see any reason to send money to an
organization whose leadership and members fail to make even the most
elemental scientific judgments because it might cost them a penalty stroke
on the intellectual golf course of life. In that sense this organization has
ceased being either scientific or Christian. In this sense, is this
organization any better than Creation Research Society who similarly have
members who never flag themselves for bad data or bad logic and who equally
display such ignorance of thermal physics?

Some may say this is disrespectful. Maybe. But respect is earned, it isn't
something that we have by virtue of merely showing up. I frankly do have
little respect for evasions of data and deductions that a five year old
could make. It violates both scientific and Christian morality as noted
above. I am afraid that I will never have respect for it and if that is
strident or or considered rude, I am sorry but not repentant. I am afraid
that there won't be an apology for that as I dont' think it is morally
beneficial to accept evasions in the realm of science because it violates
the fundamental rule of trust that science must have. We can all have our
own interpretations of the facts but we should not be allowed to have a
private set of facts. And such behavior violates the trust that we must all
have for science to work. Everyone must trust that others have examined ALL
the data, that others really care about truth rather than an agenda. We
can't be allowed to accept just the data they like or just the data we think
fits with what we want to beleive. I am afraid that this will most
certainly sound awful and disrepectful, but you know, some things in life
are simply not worthy of respect. Evasion of data in science is one of those
things. I hope the Lord lets the cancer take me on the day that I succomb to
the tendency to respect evasion of data. At that point I will be of no use
to anyone.

Since my membership runs out at the end of this year, I will remain and
stand for common sense truth in this debate until then, assuming family
activities allow me to be involved for the full time. I figure I paid for
the privilege. Then I will no longer darken the door of this very dark
organization, whose standard of truth is sadly below that of golf. Would
that Christians would aspire to have the morality of golf.

I knew I would regret coming back to this place.

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Received on Mon Dec 21 11:34:29 2009

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