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Real Science Debates Are Not Rare

Reposted from Wattsupwiththat

This post from is, IMHO, one of the most important and insightful essays about science ever to appear. It is far too important to be lost amongst the many other posts on the very popular site by Anthony Watts. In the hope that it gets seen some more, I repost it here.

Guest Post by Dr. Robert G. Brown

The following is an “elevated comment” appearing originally in the comments to “A Rare Debate on the ‘Settled Science’ of Climate Change”, a guest essay by Steve Goreham. It is RG Brown’s reply to the Steven Mosher comment partially quoted at the beginning of the essay. This essay has been lightly edited by occasional WUWT contributor Kip Hansen with the author’s permission and subsequently slightly modified with a postscript by RGB.


October 3, 2014 at 8:41 am

“…debates are rare because science is not a debate, or more specifically, science does not proceed or advance by verbal debates in front of audiences. You can win a debate and be wrong about the science. Debates prove one thing. Folks who engage in them don’t get it, folks who demand them don’t get it and folks who attend them don’t get it”.

Steven Mosher – comment

Um, Steven [Steven Mosher], it is pretty clear that you’ve never been to a major physics meeting that had a section presenting some unsettled science where the organizers had set up two or more scientists with entirely opposing views to give invited talks and participate in a panel just like the one presented. This isn’t “rare”, it is very nearly standard operating procedure to avoid giving the impression that the organizers are favoring one side or the other of the debate. I have not only attended meetings of this sort, I’ve been one of the two parties directly on the firing line (the topic of discussion was a bit esoteric — whether or not a particular expansion of the Green’s function for the Helmholtz or time-independent Schrodinger equation, which comes with a restriction that one argument must be strictly greater than the other in order for the expansion to converge, could be used to integrate over cells that de facto required the expansion to be used out of order). Sounds a bit, err, “mathy”, right, but would you believe that the debate grew so heated that we were almost (most cordially :-) shouting at each other by the end? And not just the primary participants — members of the packed-room audience were up, gesticulating, making pithy observations, validating parts of the math.

I've just been rude to some very 'nice' people

In response to this:

2015 ACT Arts Fund successful applicants

  • Aspen Island Theatre Company: $18,793 to assist with costs of the creative development of a new theatre work, 'Kill Climate Deniers'.

I was very rude (seriously!):

Evil stalks the land

Around 1930, some prescient souls warned the Germans that Hitler wasn't just a hot-head. That is, the coming holocaust was foretold. But most good Germans said it was rubbish, things like that just don't happen in a cultured nation like Germany.

It did. And now we have to wonder about the future for Australia, even if Australia with its easy-going attitude seems like the very last place this sort of evil might take hold. A major national newspaper—not some peripheral extremist rag—published this cartoon:

Let's be very clear about what we see here. That isn't a depiction of any actual Jewish leader against whom some accusation is being levelled. It isn't the group of Jewish youth on a hill who, some say, were cheering the bombing of the Hamas rocket launchers that had been pounding the Jewish homes. I'll tell you exactly what that hook-nosed fellow in the armchair is.

So you still take "climate scientists" seriously?

Dear oh dear! All those naive newborns who trust "climate scientists"! Wake up and smell the scandal. Case in point, Wattsupwiththat carries a report today from the University of Wisconsin-Madison of a new study that can't avoid the fact that the models and the data are now in clear, unambiguous contradiction. From the report:

“We have been building models and there are now robust contradictions,” says Liu, a professor in the UW-Madison Center for Climatic Research. “Data from observation says global cooling. The physical model says it has to be warming.”

A real scientist, of course, would conclude that, things having been checked and rechecked (see definition of "robust"), the models are wrong. And since the models are the only evidence for the catastrophic global warming theory, which is already in serious disagreement with reality, that the theory is wrong too. But what do the authors of this "study" conclude?

'Nuff said

I just met a lady whose husband is an environmental scientist.

"He's always going on about the rubbish in the paper about global warming," she said. "'Why don't you say something?' I asked. He said 'Because I have to worry about my job.'"

University of Queensland uses legal threat to stop expose of bad research

The University of Queensland has sent an extraordinary letter to a researcher who wrote a paper exposing the bad research in the Cook et al "97% consensus" nonsense paper about climate change.

The researcher is Brandon Shollenberger, whose website is at In their letter UQ not only threaten legal action if Shollenberger publishes research based on the data, they also threaten legal action if he reveals the content of the letter itself to anyone! This is beyond disgraceful. It would be bad enough from a commercial enterprise, but coming from a publicly funded institution whose every output is paid for by the taxpayer, it beggars belief.

UQ, you have received my last ever alumni donation! You have become trash, beneath contempt. I am ashamed to hold degrees awarded by you.

Here is a portion of Brandon's blog post about the UQ intimidation letter:

What Is a Scientist?

I blog less often than I would like, and sadly it often happens because I am spurred into action by something ridiculous. So it is today. In a nonsense piece called "Should Scientists go on strike over climate change?", the author writes:

I hesitate to make an estimate, but a brief Google search suggests there are approximately (depending on definitions) six million ‘Scientists’ in the world.

At present, these six million or so Scientists do not have what Marx and Engels referred to as ‘class consciousness’, but they have a great deal to unite around; a shared commitment to certain methodologies, principles, values and practices and a worldview that respects appropriate responses to data and evidence.

From this shared sense of identity and purpose they would generally respect the verdict of their climatologist colleagues (better not to say ‘comrades’…) that climate change is happening because of what governments are allowing people and businesses to do, and that we ought to ‘do something’ rapidly to change that.

I notice he capitalises "Scientist". Capitalisation is used to make something a name rather than a plain descriptor. A scientist is someone who applies the scientific method to discover truth. But who knows what a "Scientist" is? Because scientists certainly do not and should not share a "class consciousness" (a concept odious enough in any context, but vastly more so here). Scientists try to disprove each others' work, because that way, the thing they all respect, truth, is more likely to emerge because the false notions will fail while the correct ones will withstand all challenges.

That dishonest term "climate change" again

People are still being hoodwinked by the dishonest term "climate change", which I previously discussed at . Here's a comment I added to an article at Wattsupwiththat to inform yet another misled innocent:

Kip Hansen says:

"It’s not as bad as it seems. They would just like to shut down the obvious nonsensical ” ‘debate’ over whether climate change is real or a hoax, however, should be confined to conspiracy websites and political blogs where truth takes a backseat to ideology.”

Sorry Kip, you've been tricked by your friends good and proper. "Climate change" is 100% caused by humans, and it is a real question whether there is lots of it or only a minuscule irrelevant amount.

Confused? I don't blame you. But here's the official definition:

James Hanson's “Storms of My Grandchildren”

The other day I found myself outside a newly-discovered library, and so naturally a few seconds later I was walking in. Aha! Book shelves! Walked up, pulled out the very first book on the shelf, and it was James Hanson's “Storms of My Grandchildren”. Hanson is, for those who came late, an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. He is one of the key promoters of catastrophic anthropomorphic global warming (CAGW), and his testimonies and activism have done much to promote the theory.

The reason I rejected CAGW in 2008 when I first looked at the global warming dispute was that I easily found evidence that contradicted the theory, but, having looked long and hard for solid science backing the CAGW claims, I never found any. So, with Hanson's book in my hand, I wondered if this might be a serendipitous moment; perhaps this book contained what I had been looking for? So I found a comfy chair.

Unfortunately, for a book written by a scientist, it was harder than I expected to find the science. It seemed to me mainly an account of how a plucky and socially conscious scientist (Hansen, of course) with an important message overcame indifference, hostility, and the opposition of the evil fossil fuel industry to finally triumph and alert the world to the evils of carbon dioxide (that's plant food to you and me and all other sane people). Chapters started, continued, and ended with the personal story of his struggle (mixed in with lots of photos of his grandchildren) and, once in a while, a bit of science.

In short, it took less time to read than I thought because all I looked for and read was the science. What I found didn't impress me, but it sure was written in an impressive style, and I could easily imagine non-scientists getting swept up by it. That's a problem, because our political rulers are non-scientists, almost to the last person.

Cause and Effect?

My first issue with Hanson's presentation was centred on the embarrassing fact for the CAGW theory that ice core samples that show how temperature changes precedes carbon dixode changes by about 800 years - a fact that is close, in itself, to disproof of the theory. An effect cannot come before its cause. won't post me a book yesterday because I decide to purchase it today; how clear could a simple fact of life in this universe be? Every philosopher, every scientist, indeed, every sane person for 2,500 years has understood why. On page 38 Hanson talks about these ice cores. He honestly points out this embarrassing fact, but then makes this remarkable statement:

More on the Copernicus Publications Scandal

Despite the fact that a peer-reviewed journal was cancelled for the stated reason that it published work critical of the IPCC claims, two distractions have now surfaced:

  1. that the peer review was actually "pal review" - i.e. review by known friends, associates, etc., of the author(s);
  2. that this has somehow compromised the entire 'climate sceptic movement'.

So let's deal with (1):

If the publishers discovered all this in 24 hours and gave the editors a chance to defend themselves, and made a decision to cancel the journal, they are superhuman. So I'd love to hear any theory as to what actually went on except for either:

  • they knew about the 'pal review' in advance but it didn't matter to them until they learned that the journal was publishing results they didn't like; or
  • they cooked up this excuse after the fact.
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