14 November 2012

Global Warming Science Fails the Feynman Test

The late Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman, was more famous as a skillful teacher and a razor sharp thinker, than for his contributions to quantum electrodynamics. Feynman did not tolerate foolish thinking -- particularly when it contaminated science.
A good scientist must be willing to be wrong. Such an inclination is liberating, for it allows him or her to investigate potential answers — however unlikely they may be — to the difficult questions inspired by this vast, wondrous universe. Not only that, a willingness to be wrong frees a scientist to pursue any avenue opened by evidence, even if that evidence doesn’t support his or her original hunch.

“The hard but just rule is that if the ideas don’t work, you must throw them away,” The great science communicator Carl Sagan wrote. “Don’t waste neurons on what doesn’t work. Devote those neurons to new ideas that better explain the data.” _Feynman's Science

When a science becomes corrupted by political or religious thinking, its proponents are unwilling to admit to being wrong. They lie, cheat, obfuscate, and ruin innocent lives in order to maintain a public credibility that allows them to continue to mislead.

Climategate (PDF) is an astonishing window into the perverse shenanigans of the principle academic leaders of the climate change movement. In an astonishing display of the will to dominate and mislead, principle IPCC authors are exposed by their own internal communications.

Here is what Richard Feynman said about proper science:
“I’m going to discuss how we would look for a new law,” he said in his unvarnished Queens accent, referring to his work as a theoretical physicist.

Feynman walked over to the chalkboard and began to write. His oration continued, almost in a manner synced with his scribbling. “First we guess it… Then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what it would imply. And then we compare those computation results… directly to observation to see if it works.”

Feynman paused, removed his left hand from his coat pocket, and strode back over to the lectern to briefly peruse some notes. He then launched right back into his sermon.

“If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong,” he asserted, craning his neck forward and adroitly pointing his left hand at the chalkboard to accentuate the point. “In that simple statement, is the key to science.”

“It doesn’t make any difference how beautiful your guess is,” Feynman proclaimed, gesticulating in wide, circular, somewhat flamboyant motions. “It doesn’t make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is. If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.” _Feynman on Science
But if a scientist identifies so closely with a movement that his own position and well-being depends upon maintaining that movement's momentum, he may be willing to break with the rules of "ordinary science" and enter the realm of "post-normal" science -- where anything goes, including deception, and the hiding or altering of his data.

What are the lessons we should learn from Climategate? That in basic non-commercial science, everything must be kept out in the open and made publicly available, to allow other scientists to either refute or verify your findings. This includes all data and all computer code.
A diverse group of academic research scientists from across the U.S. have written a policy paper which has been published in the journal Science, suggesting that the time has come for all science journals to begin requiring computer source code be made available as a condition of publication. Currently, they say, only three of the top twenty journals do so.

The group argues that because computer programs are now an integral part of research in almost every scientific field, it has become critical that researchers provide the source code for custom written applications in order for work to be peer reviewed or duplicated by other researchers attempting to verify results.

Not providing source code, they say, is now akin to withholding parts of the procedural process, which results in a “black box” approach to science, which is of course, not tolerated in virtually every other area of research in which results are published. It’s difficult to imagine any other realm of scientific research getting such a pass and the fact that code is not published in an open source forum detracts from the credibility of any study upon which it is based. Articles based on computer simulations, for example, such as many of those written about astrophysics or environmental predictions, tend to become meaningless when they are offered without also offering the source code of the simulations on which they are based. _Lessons of Climategate
Climate science has become so politicised over the past 30 years that the science can no longer be separated from the politics. And underlying the politics is $trillions of redistribution funds that are at stake. The redistribution of these vast sums of money is to be overseen by UN agencies including the IPCC.

If you wonder why IPCC affiliated scientists would be willing to "go the extra mile" to promote their own viewpoints and discredit and deny opposing viewpoints, an exercise in "following the money" might make things more clear.

As corrupt politics proceeds to stain more and more aspects of modern life, it is worthwhile to remember the admonitions of Richard Feynman, from that Cornell lecture in 1964.

Climate alarmism of the carbon hysteria variety -- whether in science or in politics -- is simply a clever cover for something deeper and more sinister. Don't let yourself be bamboozled by the jive turkey con men of climate.

More: Moral Logic vs Scientific Accuracy

A general strategy for creating a CAGW apocalypse in the minds of the public

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Blogger MnMark said...

You've made some excellent points.

If it turns out that human-generated, carbon-dioxide-based catastropic warming is true, then it will have been mankind's tragedy that it was discovered and promulgated by leftists who wanted to use it to justify massive socialist schemes. If they had left the socialism out of it - all the plans for taxes and "redistributions" and repression of industry - and simply said "we don't care what policies are adopted to address this, we just want it addressed", people like me may have given them more credibility. But when they bleat about global warming in one breath and advocate massive socialism for the Third World as the solution in the next - something they've always wanted to find a way to justify - I have to assume that their scientific arguments are at the very least seriously exaggerated.

Wednesday, 14 November, 2012  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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