This is sad. I am not sure precisely who is beclowning themselves, but we see something that amounts to an ad hominem attack on a pair of researchers, who had the temerity to publish something that disagreed with the orthodoxy. Along the way, they are described as “uncareful” and “serial error” creators. Their paper has been ripped to shreds in blogs, and by a particular aspect of the media, as well as by various members of the orthodoxy. On the other side of this, their paper is being heralded as the death of a certain aspect of AGW (a.k.a. man made global warming) models.
Those who claim the paper is garbage are using media to challenge it, and, honestly, I didn’t seem much data behind their accusations. It did see a single link to an image of a Tuscaloosa paper, which seemed to make the point the original researchers had made. How does this support the argument they made a mistake when the article in the Tuscaloosa paper points out that with the corrections that one invariably makes to calculations (when you include terms that should have been included, or omit irrelevant/incorrect terms … which is very much a part of the scientific process …). This and the fact that it was in a Tuscaloosa paper … don’t lend very strong backing to the accusations. Actually, it weakens them badly. If you had strong support for your arguments, you’d site specific papers that contradict the paper in question. And then you’d have the authors rebut.
Yeah, the science is NEVER settled, and anyone claiming otherwise is trying to sell you something.
But rather than do this rebutting of a paper in the common manner, and keep the discussion cordial and high minded, the … er … “rebuttal paper” … which was an opinion piece on a web site, seemingly allied with an antithetical position to the papers conclusions … used phrases like this:
Ok. This is treading very near overt hostility and name calling. No, it is overtly hostile and it is calling them “incautious” and basically casting aspersions upon their body of work. Without citing a single rebuttal paper/comment. The next sentence then includes the link to the Tuscaloosa newspaper.
Ummm … Ok.
Expressing an opinion, which this “rebuttal paper” did, is fine. The tone of the piece? Not so fine. Its not hard to see why those skeptical of a particular world view and publishing observations and theories that might challenge it, find dealing with members of the orthodoxy so distasteful. Rather than engaging in a substantive and scientific fisking of the paper, citing counters to the measurements and observations, valid criticisms of the data collection, the data analysis … nah … they went straight for the overt fisking of the article with nothing more than attacks on the researchers.
This is what you might expect to see on a political blog.
But, that may be where they are. From the about page:
Unfortunately the second paragraph does not follow from the first, given the hard core politicization and orthodoxy surrounding AGW.
People whom are skeptical of AGW don’t “disbelieve” climate change has ever occurred. It has, there are significant historical records to indicate that climate change has been an ongoing process, pretty much for the life of our planet. I have a problem with the use of the word “believe” in the context of any scientific inquiry. Regardless of this, we do know the earths climate has altered, sometimes drastically and dramatically, many times, during its history.
And the reason that many find AGW and its ilk unconvincing is that it require an anthropocentric hubris to insist that human beings are the sole or primary reason for such changes (hotter or colder) in recent years. Well before he pushed AGW and related things, Dr. Hansen at NASA/Columbia U did predict a forthcoming ice age. I am not fisking him or his work. Dr. Hansen’s work is generally held up by the orthodoxy as an example of what we should “believe” in.
Again, that word “believe”. Belief has nothing to do with science, but thats a topic for another time.
Freeman Dyson has written extensively in this area. His opinion is that AGW exists, but there is simply too much noise in the data, and insufficiently understood physics of the system in its entirety to accurately model with any degree of certainty. Thus making accurate prediction of trends effectively impossible. Which is somewhat borne out that most of the predictions by IPCC and others … well, they don’t seem to be coming to fruition. I don’t dispute that we are dumping huge amounts of waste heat into the atmosphere. And I don’t dispute that the pollutants may be altering the thermodynamic properties in our atmosphere and our water. I just don’t think they are the zeroth or first order terms. And more importantly, I am willing to be proven wrong.
My concern is that Dr. Hansen obviously changed his mind. He posits a significant human contribution to an energy imbalance. Now more pro heat than pro cooling. But all this work posits human beings as being the central actor in this. I personally find this unconvincing. It requires hubris of an immense scale to place human beings back at the center of world (so to speak) when there are potentially far simpler and more natural explanations that are being examined.
Such as the paper by Spenser and Braswell, that look at one of the fundamental inputs into the models of the imbalance, attempting to shed light on whether or not we are actually correctly measuring some of the model inputs.
Dyson argues against demonizing those who disagree with you. I am not demonizing Dr. Hanson, Freeman Dyson or others. And likewise, the folks whom are demonizing Professor Spenser aren’t doing themselves any favors. They certainly aren’t winning a scientific debate with an article like that. More likely that would be held up as evidence that they aren’t arguing facts, because they couldn’t be bothered to reference any? Which seriously weakens their point?
Others have noticed, with something akin to shocked disbelief.
A proper rebuttal would have been in that journal and others. This back and forth is science. Its what science is about. Hold everyone accountable to doing a good job on analysis, find the flaws in their data, in their algorithims, in their methodology. Create convincing arguments as to why you are right and they are not. You further science in the process and shed light where its needed.
Fisking on a web page devoted to “increasing public understanding of climate disruption”, without any reasonable backing argument, citing only a resignation letter, and a Tuscaloosa newspaper article … which is largely supportive of those you wish to condemn? Nah, that generates only heat. And ill will.
Someone is beclowning themselves in this process, and science is suffering for it. Yeah, beclowning could be considered an ad hominem. So there is at least irony in this post.
We need to do far more study and come up with better models that more accurately predict forward and backward time evolution of our climate. Professor Spenser is trying to gather the data for inputs to these models. Yelling at him and insinuating that he is doing bad science, as the article did, isn’t helping the cause of those who disagree with Professor Spenser’s results.