PDA

View Full Version : A call for Scientists engaged in Politics



George Jung
08-08-2011, 06:51 PM
In the Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/09/science/09emily.html?_r=1&hp


In American public life, researchers are largely absent. Trained to stick to the purity of the laboratory, they tend to avoid the sometimes irrational hurly-burly of politics. For example, according to the Congressional Research Service, the technically trained among the 435 members of the House include one physicist, 22 people with medical training (including 2 psychologists (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/health/diseasesconditionsandhealthtopics/psychology_and_psychologists/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) and a veterinarian), a chemist, a microbiologist and 6 engineers.
Now several groups are trying to change that. They want to encourage scientists and engineers to speak out in public debates and even run for public office. When it comes to global warming (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/science/topics/globalwarming/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) and a host of other technical issues, “there is a disconnect between what science says and how people perceive what science says,” said Barbara A. Schaal, a biologist and vice president of the National Academy of Sciences (http://www.nationalacademies.org/). “We need to interact with the public for our good and the public good.”
Dr. Schaal heads the academy’s new Science Ambassador Program in which researchers will be recruited and trained to speak out on their areas of expertise. The effort will start in Pittsburgh, where scientists and engineers who specialize in energy will be encouraged to work with public organizations and agencies.
“We are looking for people who are energy experts and who have a real desire to reach out,” Dr. Schaal said.
Separately, a five-year-old nonprofit group called Scientists and Engineers for America (http://www.sefora.org/), or Sefora, offers guidance and encouragement to researchers considering a run for public office — from local school boards to the House and Senate. With more scientists involved in the legislative agenda, the group maintains, there can be better decision making in things like research financing, math and science education and national infrastructure problems.
“Just get involved, the country needs your expertise, your analytical thinking and your approach to issues,” Vernon Ehlers, a physicist who came to Congress in 1993, says in a video on the Sefora Web site. “If you can learn nuclear physics, you can learn politics.”
In a telephone interview, Dr. Ehlers, a Michigan Republican who retired this year, said he thinks a kind of “reverse snobbery” keeps researchers out of public life. “You have these professors struggling to write their $30,000 grant applications at the same time there are people they would never accept in their research groups making $100-million decisions in the National Science Foundation or the Department of Energy,” he said. He said it was “shortsighted” of the science and engineering community not to encourage “some of their best and brightest” into public life.


Striking on a number of points. Many of the most successful/growing countries (China comes to mind) have primarily 'scientists' in positions of power/influence. The US - not so much. I'm unsure how/why these countries have gone in such different directions in this regard. Why does China/others have primarily engineers/scientists directing their countries, whereas the US / others attract others to these positions - lawyers, primarily, from what I've seen. Perhaps telling in the direction our respective countries are headed.

Sam F
08-08-2011, 07:18 PM
The problem is that once a scientist engages in politics, his objectivity (or any illusion thereof) is gone.
It's not some evil plot - it's just the way politics works.

Come to think of it, the way politics works may in fact be an evil plot ;)
But it isn't perhaps deliberate or intentional.

Lew Barrett
08-08-2011, 07:20 PM
US politics is the province of lawyers. Can you think of anything by way of population less balanced towards accomplishment?

Flying Orca
08-08-2011, 08:16 PM
I'm afraid scientists stand no chance against lawyers. Scientists are trained to deal with the truth, however grey and messy it may be. Lawyers, on the other hand, are trained to present a damned good case, whether it's true or not.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see government improved by increased scientific thinking and literacy. I just don't think it will ever happen.

Durnik
08-08-2011, 08:28 PM
I'm afraid scientists stand no chance against lawyers. Scientists are trained to deal with the truth, however grey and messy it may be. Lawyers, on the other hand, are trained to present a damned good case, whether it's true or not.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see government improved by increased scientific thinking and literacy. I just don't think it will ever happen.

indeed..

"There is no better way of exercising the imagination than the study of law. No poet ever interpreted nature as freely as a lawyer interprets the truth." - Jean Giraudoux

A left handed compliment if ever there was one.. but true.

enjoy
bobby

LeeG
08-08-2011, 10:01 PM
does this mean Intelligent Design is finally over?

George Jung
08-08-2011, 10:41 PM
Nice.

Waddie
08-09-2011, 12:59 AM
Explain the causes of our present economic malaise....be thorough, be complete, place blame or credit where it's due, and, BTW, only tell the truth. Also, you must be objective.
Surely we have some scientists here that are up to the challenge.

PS. IMO, scientific truth is less common then you may think, and political truth does not exist at all.

regards,
Waddie

T.W.
08-09-2011, 01:28 AM
does this mean Intelligent Design is finally over?

I would sure hope so.

I recently read a dutch column about the background of politicians. Apparently the dutch used to have a political force consisting of primarily engineers and mathematicians. It performed very well. One of the examples was concerning "geo-engineering", the famous "Deltawerken", closing of certain arms of the delta of the river Schelde because people lived there and movement of the land would destroy homes. There was also regular flooding to counteract, and they did this all with full consideration of ecology and even measures taken towards it. Then somewhere mid 80's popularity of academic degree's like "business&management", "political sciences", "social sciences" emerged. People with those backgrounds took over the political scene and eversince the country has been declining rapidly.

Knowing about the past and how things occurred doesn't guarantee good leadership. Understanding complex relations and systems does.

Tylerdurden
08-09-2011, 01:44 AM
Explain the causes of our present economic malaise....be thorough, be complete, place blame or credit where it's due, and, BTW, only tell the truth. Also, you must be objective.
Surely we have some scientists here that are up to the challenge.

PS. IMO, scientific truth is less common then you may think, and political truth does not exist at all.

regards,
Waddie

Central banks.

Waddie
08-09-2011, 03:24 AM
Central banks.

Nope, that doesn't cut it.......:) opinion don't count.....

regards,
Waddie

skuthorp
08-09-2011, 04:23 AM
the best scientific mind ever elected to our parliament, and he was good, never got a ministry because he would always follow scientific principle and the lawyer majority and party power brokers feared they could not control what he said. That's why a scientist will not make a politician, he'd have to compromise those principles to even be preselected.

LeeG
08-09-2011, 04:24 AM
Nice.

wouldn't you want a few more people in Congress who can discuss complex issues without resorting to fairy tale paradigms?

Flying Orca
08-09-2011, 09:19 AM
Explain the causes of our present economic malaise....be thorough, be complete, place blame or credit where it's due, and, BTW, only tell the truth. Also, you must be objective.
Surely we have some scientists here that are up to the challenge.

Well, now, that's a challenge. Partially because economics as a whole is not a science (not a hard science, anyway), and therefore opinion and wishful thinking often hold sway (viz. Chicago school (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_school_(economics))).

IIRC, the immediate causes of the present economic malaise appear to be a USA housing bubble (fueled in part by greed and speculation), ineffective regulation, a lot of bad loans that were repackaged in an opaque way and sold to unsuspecting buyers who ended up losing a lot of money, and resulting uncertainty and skittishness in global capital markets... coupled with budgetary irresponsibility in the USA and several Euro nations.

The deeper cause, and I'm going into opinion territory here, is a less-than-effective balance in some economies between productive capitalism and sound regulation.


IMO, scientific truth is less common then you may think, and political truth does not exist at all.

I'm well acquainted with the provisional nature of all scientific "truth", thank you; while much that passes for "truth" in politics is a matter of opinion, many political opinions are in fact demonstrably baseless, and should be treated as such. While not every question is amenable to the scientific method, I have no doubt that its rigorous application to political and economic questions is likely to bear some fruit. An example would be Paul Collier's research into the requirements for stability and progress in developing nations.

Sam F
08-09-2011, 11:25 AM
If this is true for scientists, then it is equally true for all professions.

If it's true for all professions, it's no reason to disqualify scientists.

That assumes that all men are professionals. That is manifestly not the case.
In fact the US system was apparently set up to allow for amateurs.

Sam F
08-09-2011, 12:44 PM
Wow, that flew right over your head.

Okay, let's try this again:

If engaging in politics calls a scientist's objectivity into question, then it has the same effect on all people.

The only difference (supposed) between the set of people called scientists and the set of "all people" is scientist's professionalism. That is their qualification - they being otherwise more or less human.


If everyone's objectivity is suspect then a scientist is no worse than anyone else and should not be barred from politics.

Wow! Where did that come from? If lawyers are allowed into politics, I can imagine no reason to bar scientists, or for that matter, professional thieves.

CWSmith
08-09-2011, 05:31 PM
I am a scientist - 30+ years experience and I would HATE politics. I hate just listening and not taking action and I hate the need to convince others I'm right instead of just doing what's necessary and right. That's the nature of the beast.

The problem isn't that politicians are not provided with the knowledge and advice of the scientific community and it's not that they don't understand it. They choose to disregard it and lead us over the cliff because they gain power by being important, even if their importance runs contrary to the better good. And, most politicians are cowards.

Don't get me started on doctors in politics! What a pathetic waste of talent and education! They should be ashamed of themselves!

Flying Orca
08-09-2011, 06:01 PM
+1!

Waddie
08-09-2011, 06:01 PM
Well, now, that's a challenge. Partially because economics as a whole is not a science (not a hard science, anyway), and therefore opinion and wishful thinking often hold sway (viz. Chicago school (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_school_%28economics%29)).
IIRC, the immediate causes of the present economic malaise appear to be a USA housing bubble (fueled in part by greed and speculation), ineffective regulation, a lot of bad loans that were repackaged in an opaque way and sold to unsuspecting buyers who ended up losing a lot of money, and resulting uncertainty and skittishness in global capital markets... coupled with budgetary irresponsibility in the USA and several Euro nations.
The deeper cause, and I'm going into opinion territory here, is a less-than-effective balance in some economies between productive capitalism and sound regulation.
I'm well acquainted with the provisional nature of all scientific "truth", thank you; while much that passes for "truth" in politics is a matter of opinion, many political opinions are in fact demonstrably baseless, and should be treated as such. While not every question is amenable to the scientific method, I have no doubt that its rigorous application to political and economic questions is likely to bear some fruit. An example would be Paul Collier's research into the requirements for stability and progress in developing nations.


causes of the present economic malaise appear to be a USA housing bubble Hardly scientific fact--smells like opinion.


(fueled in part by greed and speculation), ineffective regulation, a lot of bad loans that were repackaged in an opaque way and sold to unsuspecting buyers who ended up losing a lot of money, and resulting uncertainty and skittishness in global capital markets... coupled with budgetary irresponsibility in the USA and several Euro nations.

We hardly need scientists to point out the obvious which any two bit politician has already been aware of and twisted to their own benefit.

We already have plenty of scientists advising politicians, but few scientists would make successful politicians. Different worlds.

regards,
Waddie

Flying Orca
08-09-2011, 06:10 PM
You know, "Waddie", if I wished to be an a$$ and obstruct a serious conversation, I could do so, just like you. I could come up with a question that science is not particularly good at answering, just like you, and use it to condemn the whole premise of scientists in politics. Hell, as I've already said, I agree that scientists aren't electable. Yep, I could disrupt the conversation as well as you... if I was enough of an a$$. But I'm not.

Waddie
08-09-2011, 06:21 PM
You know, "Waddie", if I wished to be an a$$ and obstruct a serious conversation, I could do so, just like you. I could come up with a question that science is not particularly good at answering, just like you, and use it to condemn the whole premise of scientists in politics. Hell, as I've already said, I agree that scientists aren't electable. Yep, I could disrupt the conversation as well as you... if I was enough of an a$$. But I'm not.

I think the question I put up is the most important one in modern politics. IMO, politics is more of an art than a science. It is the art of persuasion. That's why actors can get elected. It's not enough to KNOW the truth, most politicians KNOW the truth, it's persuading other people that it's the truth, and accepting the truth even if it hurts. Scientists would, in general, make poor politicians. They tend to believe truth to be self-evident.

Sorry if I seemed too combative---my bad.

regards,
Waddie

Flying Orca
08-09-2011, 06:44 PM
I think the question I put up is the most important one in modern politics.

I'm going to guess that's because you are not a scientist. While economies are of some concern, I would say that the related issues of environmental degradation and overshot carrying capacity are much more important to the scientists I know or have read. Economic concerns, while often put forward (in the form of various tweaked models) as part of the solution, are not generally considered the main problem facing our species.


IMO, politics is more of an art than a science. It is the art of persuasion.

Currently, yes. And unfortunately, politicians who are skilled at lying and misleading people have discovered that the facts don't really matter as long as you can persuade people to follow your opinion. Fact-based politics, while undoubtedly an improvement over the status quo, are passé.


most politicians KNOW the truth

I don't agree. Most politicians are driven by faith in one political-economic philosophy or another, and do not appear to let facts get in their way. Just looking at climate change, or evolution for that matter, is enough to disprove your thesis.


Scientists (...) tend to believe truth to be self-evident.

It doesn't sound to me like you know many scientists. Those I've known believe that facts are amenable to investigation, if the investigation is properly formulated. "Truth" is not a term used often except in acknowledging givens, typically the least interesting part of conversation or investigation.


Sorry if I seemed too combative---my bad.

Apology accepted, and thank you. I may have been a bit snappish too, for which I apologize, but it did seem to me (before this more reasoned response) that you were attempting to pooh-pooh the idea that science anything to offer the political process - a profound miscalculation IMNSHO.

B_B
08-09-2011, 07:21 PM
...The problem isn't that politicians are not provided with the knowledge and advice of the scientific community and it's not that they don't understand it. They choose to disregard it and lead us over the cliff because they gain power by being important, even if their importance runs contrary to the better good. And, most politicians are cowards....
I completely and wholeheartedly disagree. Politicians get elected because of the electorate - it is the electorate who are scientifically illiterate and who willingly choose to vote for people who reflect this ignorance. If the electorate chose to elect people with a curiosity for, and a desire to learn about, scientific issues and apply them to public policy then we would have that type of politician. But we don't.

Sam F
08-09-2011, 07:30 PM
Other than those relatively uncommon issues that directly require scientific expertise, science is of little use in day to day governing.
For instance, suppose that some law has a moral dimension and, other than strictly procedural stuff, what law doesn't?
Exactly how is science going to help in such matters?


Morality is a subject for philosophers, theologians, students of the humanities, indeed for all thinking people. The answers will not be read passively from nature; they do not, and cannot, arise from the data of science. The factual state of the world does not teach us how we, with our powers for good and evil, should alter or preserve it in the most ethical manner. (S.J. Gould)

Was Mr. Gould correct?
Or can a government of "experts" ignore the moral dimension and do what's right anyway?

B_B
08-09-2011, 07:34 PM
....
For instance, suppose that some law has a moral dimension and, other than strictly procedural stuff, what law doesn't?
Exactly how is science going to help in such matters?....
I don't think it's the point. Wouldn't it be nice, though, if we could remove the moralizing for those few things Science is designed to accomplish? We know how the lawerly politicians have mucked those up...

Sam F
08-09-2011, 07:40 PM
I don't think it's the point. Wouldn't it be nice, though, if we could remove the moralizing for those few things Science is designed to accomplish? We know how the lawerly politicians have mucked those up...

Could you perhaps name a few of those?
I am curious because I can think of several times that the scientific view didn't work out too well.
An example that springs to mind - as I recall, Japan's nuclear scientists assured their politicians that those plants were safe.
Their expertise doesn't seem to have come with a money back guarantee.

yzer
08-09-2011, 07:47 PM
If you compare US politicians to their European counterparts you will find a preponderance of lawyers on both sides of the Atlantic. These are nations of laws where politicians (especially career politicians) benefit from a legal background.

It's true that scientists and engineers are common among the upper levels of Chinese government. I'm not so sure that holds true for government at the local levels. It may have been a bad choice to compare US politicians to those of the PRC. The PRC is a communist regime using elements of capitalism to build itself into the most powerful nation on earth. Once they achieve that status those engineers, scientists and other intellectuals will be purged from the system and replaced with ideological lackeys. Mao showed how a cultural revolution can happen in China if leadership wants to clean house bad enough.

B_B
08-09-2011, 09:11 PM
Could you perhaps name a few of those?
I am curious because I can think of several times that the scientific view didn't work out too well.
An example that springs to mind - as I recall, Japan's nuclear scientists assured their politicians that those plants were safe.
Their expertise doesn't seem to have come with a money back guarantee.
A few of what? How politicians mucked things up? You need someone to elucidate these?
Or what things would be better left to scientists sans moralizing?

I can't speak for Japan's nuclear scientists. I can guarantee you that where nuclear power stations are cited ought not be the purview of nuclear scientists. Geologists might, for one, be better scientists to place in charge of that decision making process.

If you're referring to what Gov't Nuclear Scientists said publicly post Tsunami I'd strongly suggest, and I know you know this, that they were saying what their political masters asked them to say. You, know, not to cause panic.

George Jung
08-09-2011, 09:17 PM
Yeow! That's quite the prediction, yzer. Got a cites to support that???

And correct me if I"m wrong - but I thought I'd read that the 'politicians' in Japan ensured the plants were safe - over the recommendations of the scientists. Is that

not correct? Either way, I suspect that paradigm is correct more often than not.

And the yzer comment - where the powerful let the able do the job, then 'take over' when it's accomplished, feels about right.

B_B
08-09-2011, 09:41 PM
It's true that scientists and engineers are common among the upper levels of Chinese government. I'm not so sure that holds true for government at the local levels. It may have been a bad choice to compare US politicians to those of the PRC. The PRC is a communist regime using elements of capitalism to build itself into the most powerful nation on earth. Once they achieve that status those engineers, scientists and other intellectuals will be purged from the system and replaced with ideological lackeys. Mao showed how a cultural revolution can happen in China if leadership wants to clean house bad enough.


And the yzer comment - where the powerful let the able do the job, then 'take over' when it's accomplished, feels about right.

Of note: http://www.forbes.com/2009/05/17/china-leaders-stars-leadership-rising-stars.html

(http://www.forbes.com/2009/05/17/china-leaders-stars-leadership-rising-stars.html)
And correct me if I"m wrong - but I thought I'd read that the 'politicians' in Japan ensured the plants were safe - over the recommendations of the scientists. Is that
not correct? Either way, I suspect that paradigm is correct more often than not.
That is what I recall also - one of us is usually right... ;)

yzer
08-09-2011, 11:03 PM
The Forbes article linked above is excellent. The Politburo that runs the PRC plans 50 years into the future. We plan no further than the next election cycle.

Yes, Japanese politicians ignored warnings from their own scientists regarding the nuclear plants at Fukushima. OTOH, scientists frequently fail to see the forest for the trees when it comes to how their research is utilized. Research into the development of ethanol as a replacement for petroleum based fuels comes to mind. The National Academy of Science didn't dispel that notion until this year.

Waddie
08-09-2011, 11:11 PM
Originally posted by Flying Orca:

that you were attempting to pooh-pooh the idea that science anything to offer the political process - a profound miscalculation IMNSHO.

I actually think that the system we have is about the best we are going to get. Scientists advising politicians is a good system. Once a scientist is elected to office, they are a scientist no longer.

regards,
Waddie

B_B
08-09-2011, 11:12 PM
....OTOH, scientists frequently fail to see the forest for the trees when it comes to how their research is utilized. Research into the development of ethanol as a replacement for petroleum based fuels comes to mind. The National Academy of Science didn't dispel that notion until this year.
Not to quibble, but ethanol can be a replacement for some petroleum products - Brazil has had some success with sugar cane ethanol.

The US, IIRC (and I do stand to be corrected), chose corn over sugar cane as the feedstock for ethanol production not because they wanted ethanol, but because they wanted to subsidize mid-western corn farmers. This was a political decision, not a scientific one. That scientists have been engaged to make silk purses out of political pigs ears is without question.

yzer
08-09-2011, 11:48 PM
Not to quibble, but ethanol can be a replacement for some petroleum products - Brazil has had some success with sugar cane ethanol.

The US, IIRC (and I do stand to be corrected), chose corn over sugar cane as the feedstock for ethanol production not because they wanted ethanol, but because they wanted to subsidize mid-western corn farmers. This was a political decision, not a scientific one. That scientists have been engaged to make silk purses out of political pigs ears is without question.That's why I specified "a replacement for petroleum based fuels." Sure, ethanol can replace some of the petroleum we currently import.

No matter how much rain forest Brazil slashes and burns they can't produce enough ethanol to meet their own demand. Brazil imports most of their ethanol from guess who? (http://green.autoblog.com/2011/04/04/brazil-imports-record-amount-of-ethanol-in-1st-quarter-almost-a/)

B_B
08-10-2011, 12:09 AM
That's why I specified "a replacement for petroleum based fuels." Sure, ethanol can replace some of the petroleum we currently import.
No matter how much rain forest Brazil slashes and burns they can't produce enough ethanol to meet their own demand. Brazil imports most of their ethanol from guess who? (http://green.autoblog.com/2011/04/04/brazil-imports-record-amount-of-ethanol-in-1st-quarter-almost-a/)
I'd be surprised, really, really surprised if these were 'scientific' decisions as opposed to 'political' decisions.

As an aside - i.e. I don't want to debate the topic - the article linked to says " this is only the second time that Brazil's has resorted to importing the biofuel, with the first being in 2009". So, no, they don't import "most" of their ethanol. A secondary point - the ONLY reason US ethanol is inexpensive for the buyer is because of Gov't subsidies to corn 'farmers' AND ethanol producers. I'd be really, really, surprised to learn these subsidies are based on scientific reasoning as opposed to political calculation.

yzer
08-10-2011, 12:20 AM
I wrote that Brazil imports most of its ethanol from the US, not that they import most of their ethanol. Brazil must import ethanol until at least 2015 and must double its current production of ethanol to meet anticipated demand for 2020 (http://biomasshub.com/ethanol-in-brazil-bolstered-imports/).

B_B
08-10-2011, 12:28 AM
Brazil imports most of their ethanol from guess who? (http://green.autoblog.com/2011/04/04/brazil-imports-record-amount-of-ethanol-in-1st-quarter-almost-a/)


I wrote that Brazil imports most of its ethanol from the US, not that they import most of their ethanol.
Please understand my confusion! ;)
I get what you're saying now, you just ain't saying it! But still...my main points stand, I think... :D

The points being that they did NOT import until 2009, and that they import from the US because it's cheaper (it's cheaper because of political decisions NOT scientific ones).

Anyway, this has digressed (you accuse of scientists of not seeing forests for trees and here we are getting caught up in a rather irrelevant sidetrack).

yzer
08-10-2011, 12:34 AM
Its too bad we can't grow a lot of sugar cane in the continental US. I don't know why so much research went into using corn to produce ethanol, including a Monsanto GM corn specific for ethanol production. Sugar beets could produce far more ethanol than corn in the US.

B_B
08-10-2011, 12:39 AM
Its too bad we can't grow a lot of sugar cane in the continental US. I don't know why so much research went into using corn to produce ethanol, including a Monsanto GM corn specific for ethanol production. Sugar beets could produce far more ethanol than corn in the US.
It really isn't that big a mystery is it? Iowa? US Midwest? Politics?

b.t.w. fibre waste is where ethanol research is at. If a-political types had been in charge ethanol production cellulose type fibre waste (from paper making, grain production, wood waste etc.etc.) would've been the focus. But politicians decided they needed to support corn growers (i.e. save the venerable 'family farms' which haven't existed for decades) and decided to dedicate research into corn ethanol, food based ethanol, instead. Billions wasted.

Chip-skiff
08-10-2011, 12:57 AM
Thinking about scientists and "objectivity," if a preacher (reverend, rabbi, pope, imam, lama, whatever) engages in politics, is their relationship with god called into question?

Waddie
08-10-2011, 01:08 AM
Thinking about scientists and "objectivity," if a preacher (reverend, rabbi, pope, imam, lama, whatever) engages in politics, is their relationship with god called into question?

It probably should be. Usually is. Has disqualified a few. Nothings off limits in politics.....:)

regards,
Waddie

yzer
08-10-2011, 01:11 AM
It really isn't that big a mystery is it? Iowa? US Midwest? Politics?

b.t.w. fibre waste is where ethanol research is at. If a-political types had been in charge ethanol production cellulose type fibre waste (from paper making, grain production, wood waste etc.etc.) would've been the focus. But politicians decided they needed to support corn growers (i.e. save the venerable 'family farms' which haven't existed for decades) and decided to dedicate research into corn ethanol, food based ethanol, instead. Billions wasted.I agree, the corn lobby and their politicians took the country down the path to corn based ethanol to the neglect of other technologies. But, the scientists who did the research from the mid-west colleges and universities to the big agribusiness corporations didn't raise the red flags, they went right along with the parade. Scientists were too busy getting the grants and too compartmentalized in their own labs to care about how that research would be used. I would like to see scientists more involved in politics but before they do that they should sharpen their own ethical behavior and not accept every research grant that comes along without evaluating the likely consequences of that work.

Whidbey_One
08-10-2011, 01:46 AM
If you want one telling contra-indicator; remember, Jimmy Carter was a nuclear engineer. (His Secretary of Energy was a dentist - also a disaster in that office.)

Scientist, lawyer, business leader, it really isn't important. What counts is are they honest and more interested in helping the country than themselves. We have a dearth of selfless, honest people in government because, as Gresham's law tells us, the bad drives out the good, and right now we have a whole lot of bad and very little good. And that applies to both sides of the aisle and all three branches of government.

PeterSibley
08-10-2011, 02:04 AM
If you want one telling contra-indicator; remember, Jimmy Carter was a nuclear engineer. (His Secretary of Energy was a dentist - also a disaster in that office.)

Scientist, lawyer, business leader, it really isn't important. What counts is are they honest and more interested in helping the country than themselves. We have a dearth of selfless, honest people in government because, as Gresham's law tells us, the bad drives out the good, and right now we have a whole lot of bad and very little good. And that applies to both sides of the aisle and all three branches of government.

From outside the US looking in Jimmy Carter appeared to be a very good President ,perhaps it was precisely his honesty and lack of BS that made him so unpopular in your country .A nuclear engineer may well be used to dealing in facts and the truth , that type of conduct is unacceptable to the general public !

Sam F
08-10-2011, 08:27 AM
A few of what?

You said it yourself:


Wouldn't it be nice, though, if we could remove the moralizing for those few things Science is designed to accomplish?

Could you name a few?



I can't speak for Japan's nuclear scientists...

I'm not asking you to speak for anyone but yourself. But what about any nuclear scientist vis-a-vis nuclear power?
Politicians didn't invent the nuclear reactor. Scientists did.
Politicians didn't have the know how to "know" that those plants were safe. Scientists did.

Maybe, just maybe, the politicians are the suckers in this matter - and the scientists were perhaps excessively certain of their own omniscience.

Flying Orca
08-10-2011, 08:52 AM
Once a scientist is elected to office, they are a scientist no longer.

Unless you are talking about the elected office taking so much of their time they cannot continue working in their field (a dubious proposition, but possible), why not?

Scientists advising politicians doesn't work well, because too often the politicians don't understand the scientists' advice.

Sam F
08-10-2011, 09:19 AM
Scientists in politics seems to be a desire for "Father Knows Best" figures.
Yes, we all want some omniscient, or nearly omniscient, technocrat to swoop down and solve our problems without the messy and ignorant political process.
But this idea is, scientifically speaking*, testable. We could make sure it happens in the future or...
we could look to see if it's happened before and examine how it turned out.
And this has happened before:


Whiz Kids was a name given to a group of experts from RAND Corporation with which Robert McNamara surrounded himself in order to turn around the management of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) in the 1960s. The purpose was to shape a modern defense strategy in the Nuclear Age by bringing in economic analysis, operations research, game theory, computing, as well as implementing modern management systems to coordinate the huge dimension of operations of the DoD with methods such as the Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System (PPBS). They were called the Whiz Kids recalling the group at Ford Motor Company that McNamara was part of a generation earlier.

Those of us who are old enough to remember the conduct of the Vietnam war may recall how well that scientific "management systems" approach turned out.
For those of you too young to know... it didn't.



*to the extent that any historical event is testable - which is to say just barely.

T. Traddles
08-10-2011, 09:28 AM
wouldn't you want a few more people in Congress who can discuss complex issues without resorting to fairy tale paradigms?

Yes, I would. One of the first fairy tale paradigms I'd like to see abandoned is contemporary liberalism.

B_B
08-10-2011, 09:29 AM
...But, the scientists who did the research from the mid-west colleges and universities to the big agribusiness corporations didn't raise the red flags, they went right along with the parade. Scientists were too busy getting the grants and too compartmentalized in their own labs to care about how that research would be used. I would like to see scientists more involved in politics but before they do that they should sharpen their own ethical behavior and not accept every research grant that comes along without evaluating the likely consequences of that work.
Policy drives research. Politicians set policy, not researchers.

Scientists most definitely did propose that there were better alternatives to corn ethanol - importing it from Brazil for one thing, importing raw feedstock from Brazil was another, but the North American sugar lobby made sure imported sugar had a significant tax placed on it (Canadian candy, IIRC, has an import tax imposed on it so as to ensure Brazilian sugar doesn't get into the US 'surreptitiously').

But seeing as the problem presented to them was "how do we make corn ethanol" NOT "what is the best material for making ethanol" NOR "what method of producing ethanol would be best for our society - cheapest, provide greatest employment, use material not currently used for anything else etc." they have no ethical dog in the fight.

Blaming the scientists for solving the problems posed is a critical mistake - it's their job description.

LeeG
08-10-2011, 09:29 AM
From outside the US looking in Jimmy Carter appeared to be a very good President ,perhaps it was precisely his honesty and lack of BS that made him so unpopular in your country .A nuclear engineer may well be used to dealing in facts and the truth , that type of conduct is unacceptable to the general public !

there's also a limit on what the general populace can tolerate regarding changing paradigms or narratives for where they are and how they got there and where they are going. Sacrifice for some future reward just doesn't cut it when distance and relative wealth(to the world) allows for delaying consequences.

Sam F
08-10-2011, 09:33 AM
Yes, I would. One of the first fairy tale paradigms I'd like to see abandoned is contemporary liberalism.

You got that right. In today's paper, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen (& Uber-Liberal) complained of Republicans having the "heart of an actuarial table" vis-a-vis financing social programs.
That the money simply isn't there and that a large fraction of the money being used is worse than not being there - it's borrowed - and that sooner or later our creditors will yank in the leash doesn't count in that compassionate government spending fairy tale.

T. Traddles
08-10-2011, 09:38 AM
I am a scientist - 30+ years experience and I would HATE politics. I hate just listening and not taking action and I hate the need to convince others I'm right instead of just doing what's necessary and right. That's the nature of the beast.

This sounds like "the science is settled". But isn't it the "nature of the beast" to continually revise what we know and apply the knowledge in hopefully more efficient ways that correspond more fully to material reality? Galileo thought he had the answer to heliocentrism, but he had no evidence. And he could not "convince others" that he was right. The idea that the scientific expert ought to act because he is convinced that he is right makes me nervous. It smacks of tyranny. And given the way proponents of global warming alarmism have effectively dictated policy on what it "knows to be the right thing," I must say I am skeptical of scientists ability to do the right thing.

B_B
08-10-2011, 09:41 AM
+1 tell it like it is. Reminds me of all the scientists involved during the destruction and demise of the North Atlantic cod fishery. BB may not be up on that, coming from 'hay' county:D
This is just patently untrue.

....federal fisheries authorities increased enforcement and doubled research. Strict quotas began rebuilding groundfish stocks. Scientists predicted strong growth especially for the northern cod stock off eastern Newfoundland and Labrador. The thinking was that holding the fleet stable and increasing the abundance of fish would benefit all. The new zone shone with optimism, and the late 1970s and early 80s saw growth and relative prosperity in Atlantic fisheries. The federal fisheries department called for caution, while cutting back its industrial development work in fishing and processing. But Atlantic provincial governments, and at times the federal side as well, encouraged expansion....
By 1989, federal scientists called for a drastic reduction in northern cod catches. Federal cabinet ministers of the day kept quotas higher than recommended.
http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0002833

B_B
08-10-2011, 09:45 AM
...And given the way proponents of global warming alarmism have effectively dictated policy on what it "knows to be the right thing," I must say I am skeptical of scientists ability to do the right thing.
This, too, is patently incorrect. There has been zero public policy of any significance with regard to anthropogenic climate change even though it has been the predominant scientific theory since at least 1990!

S.V. Airlie
08-10-2011, 09:46 AM
Did anyone listen to excerpts from Gore's new book which included an observation about polar bears drowning due to climate change He was a scientist with the Dept. of the Interior and has been fired over his comments that Gore included in his book ( might be a documentary) A political frenzy in the making. I didn't catch it all, but what I heard would turn one's stomach; including graft, receiving gov. grants to study polar bears, etc.. No wonder scientists keep relatively low profiles.*

Tom Montgomery
08-10-2011, 09:57 AM
Did anyone listen to excerpts from Gore's new book which included an observation about polar bears drowning due to climate change He was a scientist with the Dept. of the Interior and has been fired over his comments that Gore included in his book ( might be a documentary).Wrong.

The government's suspension of the Arctic scientist was related to how the polar bear research project was awarded and managed and unrelated to the quality of his scientific work.

T. Traddles
08-10-2011, 09:58 AM
Phlogiston was a predominant theory at one time before oxygen was discovered. To say that there has been "zero public policy of any significance" is difficult to swallow. That the U.S. has not signed onto Kyoto, e.g., does not mean it has not been influenced in its policy's on the environment. I can't speak about Canada.

The first indication that global warming is probably not rooted in reality concerns the language change that has taken place over the past 4 years or so. AGW used to be settled science until real, not manufactured data, called the conclusions of AGW scientists into question (see climategate). No worries, we won't speak about GW, but "global climate change" is something that needs to be addressed. Well, now we can account for both cooling and warming in our policies and maybe even do so based on the fantasies of scientists who are more interested in acquiring funding for their pet projects rather than engaging in real research. This is one of the problems that concerns me about science and scientists getting the nod in politics.

Flying Orca
08-10-2011, 10:09 AM
With all due respect, your understanding of climate science is woefully inadequate; you have clearly bought into the denial efforts of paid shills and cranks rather than the actual science done by thousands of actual scientists who study climate change. You do not seem to be aware that there is no (zero, zip, nada) respectable, peer-reviewed, published science that contradicts the basic findings of the IPCC.

You, T. Traddles, are an excellent example of why we need more science in politics, and less politics in science.

B_B
08-10-2011, 10:13 AM
...Those of us who are old enough to remember the conduct of the Vietnam war may recall how well that scientific "management systems" approach turned out.
For those of you too young to know... it didn't....
IIRC, Lyndon Johnson used to pick the targets for bombing runs - sounds like political interference to me.

T. Traddles
08-10-2011, 10:25 AM
Flying Orca, as you know, the IPPC has its own problems and the last two years have seen its credibility challenged on a variety of fronts even by well respected climatologists. Why do people get bent about having a pet theory challenged? If it is true, it will hold up under scrutiny. If not, then we can change our minds. This is the nature of the beast, no?

Before you get your knickers in a twist and think that I am a climate reactionary, I would simply draw your attention to the fact that my language in the previous posts was not the language of certitude but observations about concerns that demonstrate that the data is not conclusive enough to draw any firm conclusions at this point. I'll let the scientists do their job and gather and evaluate the data and arrive at a more convincing conclusion than has been the case to date. However, to draw attention to the tactics by global warming proponents to changing language in order to accommodate "other data" that does not agree with the firm conclusions of a predominant view is indicative that the science is not settled, and that it has become a political rather than scientific issue. That I have concerns about such things does not mean I am ignorant. It could be I'm prudent.

B_B
08-10-2011, 10:26 AM
I'm not asking you to speak for anyone but yourself. But what about any nuclear scientist vis-a-vis nuclear power?
Politicians didn't invent the nuclear reactor. Scientists did.
Politicians didn't have the know how to "know" that those plants were safe. Scientists did.
Politicians and/or for profit corporations decide where plants are built and what the construction and maintenance budgets are. Scientists do what they can to ensure the safe running of those plants given these parameters.

With regard to Nuclear power generation as a whole - if you think for a second that nuclear research was driven by scientists eager to provide energy for the masses, and NOT politicians wanting to ensure the development of a vast nuclear arsenal then I've got some swamp, errr, prime farmland, for sale.

Where to store spent fuel has been a known (by scientists) problem since day one - where and how spent fuel has been stored were political indecisions - read up on Yucca Mountain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_Mountain_nuclear_waste_repository) and tell me this was in any way a scientific problem and not a policy problem.

S.V. Airlie
08-10-2011, 10:27 AM
Wrong.

The government's suspension of the Arctic scientist was related to how the polar bear research project was awarded and managed and unrelated to the quality of his scientific work. Argue with NPR then.

B_B
08-10-2011, 10:28 AM
...To say that there has been "zero public policy of any significance" is difficult to swallow. ....
You don't have to swallow it, just provide a few examples of actual legislation in response to climate change. I'll settle for one. One piece of legislation which is a serious (i.e. if you mention light bulbs ... ) attempt at directing US Fed Gov't policy with regard to climate change.

Flying Orca
08-10-2011, 10:45 AM
the IPPC has its own problems and the last two years have seen its credibility challenged on a variety of fronts even by well respected climatologists.

Have any of those challenges resulted in sound, peer-reviewed, published science that contradicts the basic findings of the IPCC? No.


Why do people get bent about having a pet theory challenged?

Because it's not a "pet theory", and attempts to belittle it as such betray the anti-science agenda of those who use such terms.


If it is true, it will hold up under scrutiny.

And it has. With thousands of contributing scientists studying various aspects of the phenomenon, it has held up under intense scrutiny (it's one of the most intensively studied areas of science) for decades.


If not, then we can change our minds. This is the nature of the beast, no?

Sure. But let's not pretend that there is any good evidence that the basic findings of the IPCC are under any legitimate scientific doubt (beyond the general caveat that new findings could - hypothetically, one day - contradict them).


I would simply draw your attention to the fact that my language in the previous posts was not the language of certitude but observations about concerns that demonstrate that the data is not conclusive enough to draw any firm conclusions at this point.

I would draw your attention to the fact that thousands of actual climate scientists AND every major scientific organization in the world disagrees with your position, in they have concluded that the data are conclusive enough to draw firm conclusions.

In short, as near as we can tell, you're just plain wrong.


I'll let the scientists do their job and gather and evaluate the data and arrive at a more convincing conclusion than has been the case to date.

Oh, they are. But within scientific circles, it's pretty much acknowledged as a given that anyone who questions the basic findings of the IPCC is a paid shill, a crank, a contrarian, or someone who has been duped by one or more of those.


However, to draw attention to the tactics by global warming proponents to changing language in order to accommodate "other data" that does not agree with the firm conclusions of a predominant view is indicative that the science is not settled, and that it has become a political rather than scientific issue.

That doesn't make much sense without some kind of referent. In short, WTH are you talking about?


That I have concerns about such things does not mean I am ignorant.

No, but it's a strong argument toward that conclusion.


It could be I'm prudent.

Sure, you can think of it that way. Why you should think it is "prudent" to doubt scientific findings that have been very well studied and endorsed not only within the field but by every major scientific body in the world, and yet not think it "prudent" to take action to avert the potentially dire consequences of those findings is a bit beyond me. I think you're being disingenuous.

T. Traddles
08-10-2011, 10:50 AM
"In June of 2009, the American Clean Energy and Security Act narrowly passed the House of Representatives, marking the first time climate legislation passed either body of Congress. The bill is designed to deal with the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions, primarily through a cap-and-trade system, and to promote cleaner, more efficient energy use. The debate now moves to the Senate, where a similar bill passed the Environment and Public Works Committee in late 2009. Senators are immersed in policy negotiations to develop an overall climate and energy proposal that can pass the Senate's 60-vote requirement."

http://www.catf.us/climate/policy/legislation/

http://epa.gov/climatechange/policy/neartermghgreduction.html

T. Traddles
08-10-2011, 11:04 AM
Flying Orca, that is a very interesting reply, but if the original data is unsound and unreproducable, which is clearly the case, indeed the scientist who established the basis of contemporary AGW science "lost" the data, and if every major scientific organization utilizes that data, then is it a wonder many think it proven? However, what we have come to know as "climategate" challenges that and even before "climategate" scientists were questioning the AGW hypothesis. That they were not getting their papers peer reviewed is another indication of politics in science -- AGW proponents who sat on the editorial boards of the journals that publish such findings were not allowing alternative views in. If you think that falls outside the realm of possibility, all I can say is that it happens in other academic fields. Any way, this has all been hashed out in the media over the course of the past four years which raises questions that, at least for me, make it prudent to withhold my assent until I see further evidence to make a compelling case.

B_B
08-10-2011, 11:08 AM
"In June of 2009, the American Clean Energy and Security Act narrowly passed the House of Representatives, marking the first time climate legislation passed either body of Congress. The bill is designed to deal with the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions, primarily through a cap-and-trade system, and to promote cleaner, more efficient energy use. The debate now moves to the Senate, where a similar bill passed the Environment and Public Works Committee in late 2009. Senators are immersed in policy negotiations to develop an overall climate and energy proposal that can pass the Senate's 60-vote requirement."

http://www.catf.us/climate/policy/legislation/

http://epa.gov/climatechange/policy/neartermghgreduction.html
The first wasn't passed in the Senate - i.e. it's irrelevant.

The second lists 14 Federal initiatives 12 of which are voluntary, 2 of which propose working towards some voluntary standards.

This is not significant public policy. This is window dressing.

Waddie
08-10-2011, 11:13 AM
Unless you are talking about the elected office taking so much of their time they cannot continue working in their field (a dubious proposition, but possible), why not?

Scientists advising politicians doesn't work well, because too often the politicians don't understand the scientists' advice.

The politicians understand just fine, they're smart just like the scientists, they just have to take a lot more things into the decision making process than the scientists do.

I think it's arrogant to believe that scientists would make better politicians than any other well educated person. Jimmy Carter was a nuclear engineer, and while that might have given him some insight into how a bomb was built, it didn't give him any advantages in any other areas, like foreign policy or economic policy. In those areas he proved woefully inadequate.

You've stated on several posts that scientists have no moral or ethical responsibility for the way their research is used. But that is precisely the responsibility of the politician. He/she must do a balancing act between the morally /ethically correct and the politically expedient. Scientists are singularly ill-suited by nature and training and inclination to the process. Or maybe you are suggesting a ruling cabal of scientists who know what's best for all of us? They wouldn't have to embroil themselves in the immoral/unethical dirty deal making, compromising business that is democracy.

regards,
Waddie

Flying Orca
08-10-2011, 11:36 AM
if the original data is unsound and unreproducable, which is clearly the case

Do you have a sound scientific source for this assertion?


the scientist who established the basis of contemporary AGW science "lost" the data

...or this one?


and if every major scientific organization utilizes that data, then is it a wonder many think it proven?

You talk as if there is one and only one "holy dataset" that supports the science of climate change. There are thousands of scientists working in this area, each contributing their own findings. I'm sorry, but your response is scientifically illiterate and shows your ignorance of the work that has gone into the IPCC's four major reports.


However, what we have come to know as "climategate" challenges that

Actually, the outcome of every official investigation into what people call "Climategate" has cleared the researchers of any scientific malfeasance and upheld their conclusions.


even before "climategate" scientists were questioning the AGW hypothesis.

Of course they were; you're supposed to question conclusions, that's how science works. Again, though - no quality peer-reviewed science has contradicted the basic findings of the IPCC.


That they were not getting their papers peer reviewed is another indication of politics in science -- AGW proponents who sat on the editorial boards of the journals that publish such findings were not allowing alternative views in.

I'm sorry, but that's just plain BS. Solid scientific evidence that AGW is not happening would be greeted with immense relief, and most likely a Nobel Prize. Unfortunately, there is no such evidence.


this has all been hashed out in the media over the course of the past four years which raises questions that, at least for me, make it prudent to withhold my assent until I see further evidence to make a compelling case.

Oh, of course... the media! Yeah, that's where I turn for information on science. Especially the Wall Street Journal, those guys really know their science.

Pardon my sarcasm, but if you rely on anything other than the respectable scientific literature for information on this topic, you're a fool.

T. Traddles
08-10-2011, 01:38 PM
http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/MM03.pdf
(http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/MM03.pdf)
http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/McKitrick-hockeystick.pdf

Flying Orca, here are two articles on the data problem from 2003 and 2005, well before "climategate" in 2009. When I mentioned "media" in my previous posts, I had in mind the hacked emails that were published. I saw them originally in The Telegraph, I think. I should have been less vague. You say that the original data has been "proven". I'd like to see a reference to that please. As far as I know, the original data used as a baseline by CRU and subsequently the basis for IPPC reports was had been "lost."

T. Traddles
08-10-2011, 01:42 PM
Braam, but when you steal my light bulb example, what else can I do but link you to the EPA?

Flying Orca
08-10-2011, 02:03 PM
http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/MM03.pdf
(http://www.uoguelph.ca/%7Ermckitri/research/MM03.pdf)
http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/McKitrick-hockeystick.pdf (http://www.uoguelph.ca/%7Ermckitri/research/McKitrick-hockeystick.pdf)

Flying Orca, here are two articles on the data problem from 2003 and 2005, well before "climategate" in 2009.

Oh, McKitrick. Not only has he not succeeded in getting his paper published by a quality peer-reviewed climate science journal, his objections are pretty much irrelevant. See here, for example:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/01/what-if-the-hockey-stick-were-wrong/


When I mentioned "media" in my previous posts, I had in mind the hacked emails that were published. I saw them originally in The Telegraph, I think. I should have been less vague.

You are aware that there was nothing in the hacked e-mails that indicated scientific malfeasance or a problem with the conclusions of the scientists in question, right? This has been pretty thoroughly investigated.


You say that the original data has been "proven".

Where did I say that? Quote, please.


As far as I know, the original data used as a baseline by CRU and subsequently the basis for IPPC reports was had been "lost."

As noted in the article linked above, as well as in the IPCC reports themselves, multiple datasets from multiple researchers bear out the basic conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 and other anthropogenic GHGs are forcing average global temperatures higher and are expected to do so for decades if not centuries to come, leading to significant climatic changes.

Look, I get that you don't believe it. I get that you're desperately searching for something that will contradict it. I get that you think you're maintaining an open mind. I get that you may even genuinely believe you're right.

What you don't seem to get is that in the view of pretty much the entire scientific establishment, you're not.

B_B
08-10-2011, 02:37 PM
Braam, but when you steal my light bulb example, what else can I do but link you to the EPA?
Apologies! You may proceed with the light bulb example. And my point, I think, is proved?

CWSmith
08-10-2011, 04:12 PM
I completely and wholeheartedly disagree. Politicians get elected because of the electorate - it is the electorate who are scientifically illiterate and who willingly choose to vote for people who reflect this ignorance. If the electorate chose to elect people with a curiosity for, and a desire to learn about, scientific issues and apply them to public policy then we would have that type of politician. But we don't.

You are not wrong. The average voter seems to vote for what they want to be true instead of what logic tells them is true, or against what they have been told to fear, or in direct conflict with their own well being all because they refuse to stop, think, and vote accordingly. No doubt about it. But politicians should be leaders. They should do more than just follow the polls - they should try to influence the polls with reason and understanding. I don't pretend to fully understand the debt crisis, but good politicians have access to people who do and they can learn, understand, and guide us in the right direction if they have the courage. It's not wisdom they lack - it's the courage to do what is right when too many pundits are telling voters otherwise just for the sake of being listened to. Believe me - we don't need scientists in politics, we need politicians with the courage and the discipline to listen to scientists, and to other experts, and in the end apply a little common sense. By common sense I mean "No matter what ??? says, we really can't live on credit forever." and "I don't care what some famous economists says, every time we take regulations off the banks they hurt themselves and they hurt the economy and they hurt us." Common sense, tempered by the ability to listen and form opinions. That's what we need in a politician.

T. Traddles
08-10-2011, 04:20 PM
Oh, McKitrick. Not only has he not succeeded in getting his paper published by a quality peer-reviewed climate science journal, his objections are pretty much irrelevant. See here, for example:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/01/what-if-the-hockey-stick-were-wrong/

We can multiply blog references all we want and I don't mind that. I will check real climate about the hockey sticks. I did give you refereed sources and if Mickitrick is wrong, then why did Nature require a correction from Mann? Thing is, there are scientists who know the methodology of AGW to be flawed. There is division among scientists about the effect of AGW and so the science is not settled despite the fact that you think it is and that I am misguided.




You are aware that there was nothing in the hacked e-mails that indicated scientific malfeasance or a problem with the conclusions of the scientists in question, right? This has been pretty thoroughly investigated.


Source, please. And why was Jones, head of CRU forced to resign?


Where did I say that? Quote, please.

You did not say this. I was referring to a quote made by Jones to an FOI inquiry for the original data of his research.

T. Traddles
08-10-2011, 05:12 PM
Of course, recent research data released by NASA challenges the AGW computer modeling projections. Just another reason to consider that the science is not settled by any means.

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/3/8/1603/pdf

Flying Orca
08-10-2011, 05:38 PM
I will check real climate about the hockey sticks.

Good idea. Unlike the usual blogs, realclimate.org cites real science and is generally a good source of information (although you would be encouraged to check the sources, naturally).


I did give you refereed sources and if Mickitrick is wrong, then why did Nature require a correction from Mann?

Look, the point is not whether one particular scientist got everything right in one particular paper. You're cherry-picking. As I have pointed out, and as you have not been able to refute for the simple reason that it's the unvarnished truth, the IPCC reports contain the rather conservative conclusions of working groups of experts who reviewed the work of thousands of scientists, and the basic conclusions of the IPCC reports have been endorsed by every major scientific body in the world.

Really, do you think you're the first denier to stroll through the Bilge? You're not the hundred-and-first. Most of this stuff (certainly everything you've brought up so far) has been quite thoroughly rehashed and debunked right here in the Bilge... to say nothing of the real world of science. I'm not particularly interested in changing your mind, I'm not even particularly interested in debating your tired, old, irrelevant talking points. I'm mostly interested in providing a factual counterpoint to your BS.


Thing is, there are scientists who know the methodology of AGW to be flawed. There is division among scientists about the effect of AGW and so the science is not settled despite the fact that you think it is and that I am misguided.

There are scientists who claim that the methodology of certain papers is flawed. There has never, I repeat never, been a legitimate, sound, peer-reviewed work of climate science that brought into question the basic findings of the IPCC. Not once.


Source, please.

No, let's try this. If you can find a legitimate scientific concern arising from the so-called "climategate" e-mails, one that invalidates the scientific findings published by the group in question, you go right ahead and post it here, mmmkay? I'll give you a hint, though - you're not going to find one. The only valid criticism arising from the e-mails and subsequent reviews were the suggestion that the group should have been more open with their information, and that they could have used more sophisticated statistical techniques - but that wouldn't have altered the conclusions.


And why was Jones, head of CRU forced to resign?

As far as I know, he wasn't (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_Research_Unit).

(edited to add: If you have a source that says he was forced to resign, you might want to think about why that source is lying to you. Hint: it isn't because they have a good case without lies and other misinformation.)

George Jung
08-10-2011, 06:24 PM
Late to the party, I see.

Few points - it's my understanding that the Arctic researcher who documented four drowned polar bears, had that data used to promote the idea the PB were in danger of extinction, with the loss of ice flows. It seems to me, that an accusation of politicizing was made - from my recollection, no 'drowned bears' were found before, or after. But perhaps there's more/updated info on that.

AFA 'scientists and nuclear reactors' - from what I've read, the decision tree on which source material, and how the reactor was constructed, hinged on production of weapons grade plutonium. There are/were other sources that are/were much safer - but no 'boom' at the end of the process. That wasn't a science decision, btw.

T. Traddles
08-10-2011, 07:29 PM
Flying Orca;3085675]Good idea. Unlike the usual blogs, realclimate.org cites real science and is generally a good source of information (although you would be encouraged to check the sources, naturally).


RealClimate is Mann's website. So, the methodology of the scientist at issue is refuting his critics. Fine, but then there is the "Wegman Report" here:
http://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2007/11/07142006_wegman_report.pdf



Look, the point is not whether one particular scientist got everything right in one particular paper. You're cherry-picking. As I have pointed out, and as you have not been able to refute for the simple reason that it's the unvarnished truth, the IPCC reports contain the rather conservative conclusions of working groups of experts who reviewed the work of thousands of scientists, and the basic conclusions of the IPCC reports have been endorsed by every major scientific body in the world.

No, I don't think I am cherry picking. In fact, the committee that "investigated" Jones had "skin" in the game. The committee's investigation of Jones found things like the need for greater transparency, willingness to share data and etc., that, according to them, does not call Jones' science into question. Neither does it indicated malfeasance or practice on their part. However, the committee was a political committee. Its people had skin in the IPCC game and their conclusions, from the accounts I have read, smell a little bit like the Democratic Party investigating C. Rangle and finding nothing wrong with his "ethics." There are enough questions left that give me the impression that softball was played in this matter, especially with respect to the refusal to freely give data and etc.


Really, do you think you're the first denier to stroll through the Bilge? You're not the hundred-and-first. Most of this stuff (certainly everything you've brought up so far) has been quite thoroughly rehashed and debunked right here in the Bilge... to say nothing of the real world of science. I'm not particularly interested in changing your mind, I'm not even particularly interested in debating your tired, old, irrelevant talking points. I'm mostly interested in providing a factual counterpoint to your BS.


You've given a lot of rhetoric about my stoopidity, but nothing substantial other than what you "feel" about me.




There are scientists who claim that the methodology of certain papers is flawed. There has never, I repeat never, been a legitimate, sound, peer-reviewed work of climate science that brought into question the basic findings of the IPCC. Not once.


Well, maybe not, but the methodology upon which the IPCC based its conclusions has been questioned because MBH98 and MBH99 have been questioned. Not only do we have the Wegman Report, but the North Report here: http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309102251; and Statistician Richard Smith's observations here:http://www.amstat-online.org/sections/envr/ssenews/ENVR_9_1.pdf








No, let's try this. If you can find a legitimate scientific concern arising from the so-called "climategate" e-mails, one that invalidates the scientific findings published by the group in question, you go right ahead and post it here, mmmkay? I'll give you a hint, though - you're not going to find one. The only valid criticism arising from the e-mails and subsequent reviews were the suggestion that the group should have been more open with their information, and that they could have used more sophisticated statistical techniques - but that wouldn't have altered the conclusions.

I would agree with this except for the last part. The claim that the 20th century is the hottest on record is refuted by McKittrick, the Wegman Report, inter alia. Given the MWP has higher mean temps than the 20th/c and the decade of the 90s, one cannot come to the conclusion that Mann does without seriously ignoring the data and this is a result of "bad statistical method".

Flying Orca
08-10-2011, 07:57 PM
Dude, whatever. I don't care what kind of crank, contrarian, shill, or buffoon has sucked you in. I'm not here to change your mind; you're clearly a True Believer, and you can't change a True Believer's mind. C'mon back when you can show me some real science - peer-reviewed, published-in-a-respectable-journal, real science - that contradicts the basic findings of the IPCC. I'd be happy to see it, frankly.

T. Traddles
08-11-2011, 05:08 AM
Well, Flying Orca, I have given much more than you have given me. Here are some excerpts from the Wegman Report that ought to cause one to pause before committing to scientific conclusions about AGW:

"The debate over Dr. Mann’s principal components methodology has been going on for nearly three years. When we got involved, there was no evidence that a single issue was resolved or even nearing resolution. Dr. Mann’s RealClimate.org website said that all of the Mr. McIntyre and Dr. McKitrick claims had been ‘discredited’. UCAR had issued a news release saying that all their claims were ‘unfounded’. Mr. McIntyre replied on the ClimateAudit.org website. The climate science community seemed unable to either refute McIntyre’s claims or accept them. The situation was ripe for a third-party review of the types that we and Dr. North’s NRC panel have done.

While the work of Michael Mann and colleagues presents what appears to be compelling evidence of global temperature change, the criticisms of McIntyre and McKitrick, as well as those of other authors mentioned are indeed valid.

Where we have commonality, I believe our report and the [NAS] panel essentially agree. We believe that our discussion together with the discussion from the NRC report should take the ‘centering’ issue off the table. [Mann's] decentred methodology is simply incorrect mathematics …. I am baffled by the claim that the incorrect method doesn’t matter because the answer is correct anyway.
Method Wrong + Answer Correct = Bad Science.

The papers of Mann et al. in themselves are written in a confusing manner, making it difficult for the reader to discern the actual methodology and what uncertainty is actually associated with these reconstructions.

It is not clear that Dr. Mann and his associates even realized that their methodology was faulty at the time of writing the [Mann] paper.
We found MBH98 and MBH99 to be somewhat obscure and incomplete and the criticisms of MM03/05a/05b to be valid and compelling.
Overall, our committee believes that Mann’s assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade of the millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year of the millennium cannot be supported by his analysis.

[The] fact that their paper fit some policy agendas has greatly enhanced their paper’s visibility… The ‘hockey stick’ reconstruction of temperature graphic dramatically illustrated the global warming issue and was adopted by the IPCC and many governments as the poster graphic. The graphics’ prominence together with the fact that it is based on incorrect use of [principal components analysis] puts Dr. Mann and his co-authors in a difficult face-saving position.
We have been to Michael Mann’s University of Virginia website and downloaded the materials there. Unfortunately, we did not find adequate material to reproduce the MBH98 materials. We have been able to reproduce the results of McIntyre and McKitrick.

Generally speaking, the paleoclimatology community has not recognized the validity of the [McIntyre and McKitrick] papers and has tended dismiss their results as being developed by biased amateurs. The paleoclimatology community seems to be tightly coupled as indicated by our social network analysis, has rallied around the [Mann] position, and has issued an extensive series of alternative assessments most of which appear to support the conclusions of MBH98/99… Our findings from this analysis suggest that authors in the area of paleoclimate studies are closely connected and thus ‘independent studies’ may not be as independent as they might appear on the surface.

It is important to note the isolation of the paleoclimate community; even though they rely heavily on statistical methods they do not seem to be interacting with the statistical community. Additionally, we judge that the sharing of research materials, data and results was haphazardly and grudgingly done. In this case we judge that there was too much reliance on peer review, which was not necessarily independent.

Based on the literature we have reviewed, there is no overarching consensus on [Mann's work]. As analyzed in our social network, there is a tightly knit group of individuals who passionately believe in their thesis. However, our perception is that this group has a self-reinforcing feedback mechanism and, moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that they can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility.

It is clear that many of the proxies are re-used in most of the papers. It is not surprising that the papers would obtain similar results and so cannot really claim to be independent verifications.

Especially when massive amounts of public monies and human lives are at stake, academic work should have a more intense level of scrutiny and review. It is especially the case that authors of policy-related documents like the IPCC report, Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, should not be the same people as those that constructed the academic papers.”

Flying Orca
08-11-2011, 07:17 AM
The Wegman report is old news. The Wegman report is not good peer-reviewed science. The Wegman report got a lot wrong.

Born of Republican desire to discredit one little piece of climate science in the mistaken belief that would invalidate the entire body of knowledge, carried out (complete with rampant plagiarism) by statisticians rather than climate researchers, the report essentially repeats McIntyre & McKitrick without acknowledging that their work had already been discredited. The Wegman report's other conclusions were soundly rejected by most scientists, though it played well enough with the politicians.

You still don't seem to get it. This isn't about Al Gore. This isn't about Red vs. Blue. This isn't about Michael Mann or Wegman or the USA. This is about work being done all around the world by people whose concern is to determine the facts.

Have you noticed that your objections generally predate the 4th IPCC report? That right there should tell you that they have had little to no effect upon the actual science. If you want more info, you could start by reading this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wegman_report#Committee_on_Energy_and_Commerce_Rep ort_.28Wegman_Report.29), then following the citations.

Flying Orca
08-11-2011, 08:43 AM
Actually, it occurs to me that the Wegman report, from its inception to its inept execution, is an excellent example of why we need more scientists in politics, and less politics in science.

Sam F
08-11-2011, 09:28 AM
Interesting comments on GW... The the science is very often not settled and never really settled is a feature of science.

If I may make one small observation: One can name a very large number of societal problems in which there is a scientist (or many) in the mix. For instance here's a small, more or less random, list:

Atomic bombs/ environmental radiation exposure
Chemical pollution of water and soil - pesticides, herbicides, etc.
Air pollution
Nano particle pollution (coming along nicely)
Freon induced destruction of the ozone layer
Tetraethyllead in gasoline that for decades spread ever-toxic lead along our roads

The list is vast.
So some of ya'll still think that scientists will solve our problems?
A case, and a strong one at that, could be made for just the opposite conclusion.

Flying Orca
08-11-2011, 09:54 AM
Atomic bombs/ environmental radiation exposure

Radiation concerns identified by scientists. Exposure limits determined by scientists. Regulation followed.


Chemical pollution of water and soil - pesticides, herbicides, etc.

Concerns identified, investigated, and publicised by scientists. Regulation followed.


Air pollution

Ditto. Acid rain is an excellent example.


Nano particle pollution (coming along nicely)

Are there nanoparticles in the wild? That would be news to me. Concerns have been raised by scientists, of course, and research into possible ill effects (that would be by scientists) continue... regulation to follow as needed, I would think.


Freon induced destruction of the ozone layer

Hypothesized, researched, and documented by scientists. Regulation followed.


Tetraethyllead in gasoline that for decades spread ever-toxic lead along our roads

Developed by an engineer, promulgated by big business, concerns identified and researched by scientists... leading to regulation.

Sorry, what was your point, again?

George Jung
08-11-2011, 11:24 AM
I've no doubt science/scientists could have a very beneficial effect on society/infrastructure/government.

The obstacle I forsee, however, has to do with the mindset of science, versus the reality of politics -

more one of 'who's your daddy' as opposed to 'what's the problem/how do we approache this?'

Sam F
08-12-2011, 09:41 AM
There's a scientist in the mix:
Atomic bombs/ environmental radiation exposure

Radiation concerns identified by scientists. Exposure limits determined by scientists. Regulation followed.

Atomic bombs and reactors invented by scientists.

Chemical pollution of water and soil - pesticides, herbicides, etc.


Concerns identified, investigated, and publicised by scientists. Regulation followed.

Pesticides, PCB's etc. were invented by scientists.


Air pollution / freon

Ditto. Acid rain is an excellent example.

Freon was invented by scientists.




Are there nanoparticles in the wild? That would be news to me. Concerns have been raised by scientists, of course, and research into possible ill effects (that would be by scientists) continue... regulation to follow as needed, I would think.

Nano particles were invented by scientists. Are they in the "wild" yet? Of course they are.

Hundreds of consumer products made with nanoparticles, which can be 100 times smaller than a virus, are already on the market, despite an almost complete lack of knowledge of the dangers they may pose to human health and the environment, according to a report by the royal commission on environmental pollution.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/nov/12/nanotechnology-pollution

And the backlash is already occurring:

http://www.cbsatlanta.com/story/15238904/mexico-anti-technology-group-sent-college-bomb



Sorry, what was your point, again?

"Invented by scientists" - all of it. It doesn't exactly require a rocket scientist to figure out that our sacred acolytes of science don't exactly have clean hands.

Sam F
08-12-2011, 09:45 AM
more one of 'who's your daddy' as opposed to 'what's the problem/how do we approache this?'

Whose yo daddy? is relevant in knowing who has to pay child support - that is to take responsibility.
It is not sensible to ignore the major roll that science has played in causing today's science-created problems.
To assume that the same people who helped cause this mess are somehow qualified by their exalted positions to get us out of it is naive.

David W Pratt
08-12-2011, 09:53 AM
We will probably never see many scientists among the politicians because scientific curiosity leads one to ask very un-PC questions, or make un-PC statements. The one about masturbation as part of the solution to teen pregnancies that got Dr. Elders canned comes to mind.
Conversely, when science is subverted to support political positions, disaster ensues, Lysenkoism is a good example.

Flying Orca
08-12-2011, 09:56 AM
"Invented by scientists" - all of it. It doesn't exactly require a rocket scientist to figure out that our sacred acolytes of science don't exactly have clean hands.

Horsehockey. Knowledge is value-neutral. What people choose to do with that knowledge is not. Science is fundamentally about acquiring knowledge; "applied science", better known as engineering, is the stage at which moral considerations enter the picture. The fact that consequences of engineering decisions are often poorly understood is not the fault of the people who acquired the knowledge in the first place.

Durnik
08-12-2011, 01:56 PM
I've no doubt science/scientists could have a very beneficial effect on society/infrastructure/government.

The obstacle I forsee, however, has to do with the mindset of science, versus the reality of politics -

more one of 'who's your daddy' as opposed to 'what's the problem/how do we approache this?'

tho I agree with the benefits of more science in government & the need to 'fix the problem which exists', I'd say the problem is actually more "the reality of science, versus the mindset of politics"..

enjoy
bobby

wardd
08-12-2011, 05:26 PM
how about shockly in government?

CWSmith
08-12-2011, 07:12 PM
Knowledge is value-neutral. What people choose to do with that knowledge is not. Science is fundamentally about acquiring knowledge...

Some people on this thread would be shocked to learn that at scientific meetings you DON'T hear character assassination and name calling. I can count on one hand the times it has come close in my 30 years and I am ashamed to say I was one of them. I have spent the next 2 years trying to make it up to him.


how about shockly in government?

How about not!

Flying Orca
08-12-2011, 07:15 PM
Wot's a shockly?

CWSmith
08-12-2011, 07:22 PM
I'm assuming he means William Shockley. He won a Nobel for co-inventing the transistor. Later in life, well, that you need to read for yourself. Google will turn him up quickly.

Flying Orca
08-12-2011, 07:29 PM
Just read his Wikipedia entry. Interesting.

PeterSibley
08-12-2011, 07:31 PM
Whose yo daddy? is relevant in knowing who has to pay child support - that is to take responsibility.
It is not sensible to ignore the major roll that science has played in causing today's science-created problems.
To assume that the same people who helped cause this mess are somehow qualified by their exalted positions to get us out of it is naive.

Would you like to illustrate that with examples ?

Durnik
08-12-2011, 11:21 PM
This, too, is patently incorrect. There has been zero public policy of any significance with regard to anthropogenic climate change even though it has been the predominant scientific theory since at least 1990!

perhaps, slightly off topic - but then, most of the posts are.. ;-)

At least 1990.. and longer.. much longer. By 1990 it was already to late to mitigate any of the effects already in motion. The biosphere moves slowly, but inexorably.. inertia, motion & thermal, increases with mass..

In 1958, Frank Capra, film director & graduate of Cal Tech produced a documentary (http://ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/frank-capra-warns-of-global-warming-1958) for Bell Labs. Remember those heady days when science in high school had some resemblance to actually learning about science? ;-)

This (http://www.aip.org/history/climate/Revelle.htm), from 1957, was the paper that showed carbon dioxide would not be absorbed "indefinitely".. Obviously, the scientific community had been aware of this for some time.. The earliest ref I vaguely remember was some time in the 1800's.. Coal burning in Europe had given the scientific community something to think about. Forgive my not having the ref handy, even so, the 1950's is sufficiently long enough ago for us to know that it has been well & truly studied.

Altho politicians of all stripes would love to see the facts buried, scientists would not be wasting their time on theories that had been disproved long ago - if they had been disproved.

enjoy
bobby

the 'indefinitely' was actually only a few thousand years +/-.. even then they were willing to sacrifice the future for the present.. Homo Erectus obviously segued into Home Ignoramus with no hesitation on Homo Sapiens.

BTW, http://www.aip.org is "The American Institute Of Physics.. perhaps slightly more knowledgeable than Fox Media.. just sayin'.. ;-)