IEEE Skeptics Talk Tonight



A local chapter of the IEEE (Electrical Engineers) is having a talk tonight (as part of a regular series). What makes this one interesting is that it features a AGW Skeptic…


Too late for new reservations, but still, interesting to note…

Date: Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Time: 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Place: Willow Tree Restaurant
6513 Regional St
Dublin, CA 94568
Speaker: Albert G. Engelhardt
President and CEO Enfitek, Inc
Subtitle: An Iconoclast Revisits Climate Change:
Climate Change, Some Pleasant Truths.
Cost: $10.00 per person, includes buffet dinner
RSVP: Reservations are required no later than Sunday, November 14. Click here to make a reservation. A maximum of 60 reservations will be accepted.
About the meeting: A considerable share of the limited resources of the country, and of scientists and engineers, is being wasted on the speculation about global warming and the role of CO2. Data obtained by scientists about the temperature cycles for many thousands of years in the past have shown significant temperature cycles without the effect of large human populations. There are solid data out there conclusively proving man-made global warming to be at best insignificant. A summary of the Climate Change Debate within the context of recent developments will be given.

About the speaker: Albert G. Engelhardt is President and CEO of Enfitek, Inc. His 51-year professional career covers a broad spectrum as a university professor, a research engineer and physicist, a LANL Staff Member, and corporate executive. Dr Engelhardt holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois. He has been active in IEEE activities locally, nationally and internationally since 1957. He is presently the IEEE Region 6 Life Member Coordinator. He is a charter member (1975) of the Los Alamos Section, now the Los Alamos and Northern New Mexico Section (LANNM). From 1974 to 1981, he contributed to the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society (NPSS) as a member of the Executive Committee and later as a member of the Administrative Committee. He was a member of the local committee when the International Conference on Plasma Sciences (ICOPS) meeting was held in Santa Fe in 1981. He has served the Section as Chair (1995 and 1999), Vice-Chair (1998), Vice-Chair NPSS Chapter (1994), Program Chair (1994), Chair of the Laser and Electro-Optics Society (LEOS) and NPSS Chapters (1999 to 2007) and Secretary (2003 to 2005). He has been instrumental in organizing three LANNM Chapters: Computer Society, NPSS and Life Member. He has served in Region 6 (Western US) from 2003 to 2006 as a Member of the Ethics Committee and as Southwest IEEE-USA Professional Activities Committees for Engineers (PACE) and Area Chairs. Presently (2007 – ) he is the Region 6 Life Member Coordinator and Chair of the LANNM Life Member’s Activity Group (LMAG). During his tenure, four LMAG’s have been created: Albuquerque, Los Alamos, Oakland/East Bay and Seattle. He originated the concept of the Section Public Forum – on Global Warming in 1998 and on Professionalism, Security and Civil Rights in 1999.

– – – – –

Comment from the Organizers: The organizers of this meeting recognize that the subject is controversial. The organizers want to present all sides of controversial topics. […]

I managed to get a reservation with all of about 2 hours to go, so I’ll be there. I’ll let folks know if anything interesting is said or happens.

It’s nice just to see some open mindedness happening…


About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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13 Responses to IEEE Skeptics Talk Tonight

  1. xyzlatin says:

    Interesting to note he is an engineer. About time more of them stood up to be counted.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, back from the dinner / presentation.

    I’ll do a full write up tomorrow. For now, the thing I found most gratifying was that not one person was a Rabid AGW proponent and most folks were from either the skeptical side (truly skeptical of some error or other) or were simply neutral and wanting to know more. One or two made comments of the form “Where is the data?” ;-) and one guy asked about validation of the computer models.

    Gotta love the engineering mind set. “Don’t tell me what to think, hand me the data!”.

    Oh, and WUWT showed up on several of the slides as a source of some quotes or other. Anthony has another leveraged impact on the world…

  3. PhilJourdan says:

    Gotta love the engineering mind set. “Don’t tell me what to think, hand me the data!”.

    And here I thought it was just a trait of all curious people. ;)

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    The IEEE East Bay group numbered about 32 folks. A couple were “GOLD” or “Graduates Of the Last Decade” while the rest were pretty much retired “Life Members”. There were at least 2 women, both of retired age, and more or less in keeping with the percentage of women who went into engineering fields 40 years ago. The presenter, as you can see from his bio above, has also got some miles on his career.

    A lot of talent in a very small group. I was impressed with the dinner conversation. These folks were still very sharp… One fellow was retired from HP, but had been brought back on contract by Agilent (a spinout from HP that does medical devices and measurement equipment) on a 5 day a week full time basis. (To train the fellows from China where the product is being moved…. He commented that the Chinese engineers were bright, but had no understanding of what the product was for… what it did. IMHO, a good example of how it’s not enough to have a degree in a field, you need some background too…) These folks were largely retired, but not done doing things yet.

    One thing that surprised me (but probably ought not to have surprised me…) was how much more I knew about the whole AGW topic than they did. I’d not realized just how “immersed” I’ve been. The presentation did a very good job of a top level overview of “issues” with the IPCC reports, the folks who made it, “Climategate” (and had a nice list of other “gates” as well). But I kept wanting to say “Wait! I’ve got the answer on that one!”, but held my tongue. Comments about the difference between AlGore’s lifestyle and his public statements were greeted with enthusiasm…

    I realized that these folks had mostly gotten their information from the Main Stream Media, and had realized something was wrong with the “AGW Story” but were simply not ‘up to speed’ on the details. Yet they wanted to know more…

    Still, for a ‘newby’ audience, it was paced about right. Just enough to say “Here there be dragons” but not so much as to swamp the folks in insider babble. Once or twice the presenter stumbled on acronyms, not always getting exactly the right ‘translation’ back to words. The meaning was correct, but the map was clearly still being learned. IPCC sometimes being “Intergovernmental” and sometimes “International”, for example. Yet in true engineering form, he had a few pages of ‘links’ and references. Several slides where headed with a line of the URL where the “issue” was covered, and of them, most seemed to start with http://wattsupwiththat… I also noticed “Lomborg” go by on another.

    Lack of warming in the last 10 years (now approaching 15). Model failures to predict. A very nice graph of ‘over 100 degree days’ in, IIRC, Saint Louis with a large ‘hump’ in the middle about 1998, but trailing off on each side and looking nothing like a trend so much as a ringing oscillator. Discussion of a trend line being made through too little data (and a snide remark about a trend line through a single point that got a good laugh…). The fellow at the next table commented to me that all the “believers” were from “Environmental Sciences and Ecology departments, not Engineers and Geologists; not really technical.”

    There were no ‘suits’ there. Folks were in ‘business casual’ by and large. Slacks, business shirt with no tie, sometimes a jacket. These folks were, and are, ‘in the trenches’ engineers. The presenter had on a suit (though I don’t remember a tie) and looked the typical “Engineer In A Suit” with the jacket buttoned a bit tight in the middle with only one button done. Hair balding in the middle / top, yet still somehow having that ‘tousled around the edges’ that engineers get when they’ve been working on something for a while. Yeah, he had to put a “suit” on to give the talk, but he would clearly be just as happy with a scope and soldering iron, or FORTRAN.

    Yes, one guy said something about FORTRAN and several other folks perked up. There is a very large pool of folks here who are schooled in it and interested in doing something interesting. I “bit my tongue” and did not mention my work on GIStemp (it was probably a bit early to jump in that deep and the presentation was just starting. No need to jump in front of the presenters path…) But, IMHO, and given that one of the folks specifically singled out the “Models” for probing: A team of IEEE Life Members could do wonders at making a proper QA suite and showing where the models go off the rails.

    At the end of the presentation, there was a ‘parting question’ for folks to think about what they could do on the issue. I’ve thought. IMHO, making a ‘team’ of this talent to get together and give the Climate Models and the data fabrication codes (NCDC and GIStemp) a complete proctoscopy and ‘road test’ would be good for everyone. These guys have the talent and the time, and they know the languages used for a lot of it. Set up a small lab somewhere with some hardware, software, and the data feeds; then sign up a volunteer group (with free dinner and fellowship). I expect you could get relatively great progress in short order.

    Back at the presentation:

    There was not as much technical content as I’d expected. (Perhaps a good thing as the audience was not as ‘steeped’ in the AGW issues as I’d expected…) No mention of Nyquist, nor convection / advection vs IR back radiation. More talk of glaciers retreating on one side of a mountain but growing on the other and “selective listening skills” in only having the shrinking one reported. The content was accessible to folks even without a climate background, and that was probably a good thing.

    I’m toying with the idea of putting together an “introduction to AGW for the technical and engineering person” that would have more of the math and science issues in it. Though I’m not sure to whom it would be given.

    There was just enough coverage of some clear “issues” to say “the Climate Guys have not been Engineering Rigorous” and yet not so much to make it take 10 hours to cover the fine points of technical details (where Engineering presentations often end up… kudo’s to Dr. Englehardt for managing that…) During the Q & A it was clear that the “mood” of the audience was not “pro AGW”. It was skeptical. Not saying it was all clearly bunk (i.e. not an advocate for the opposition) but just truly skeptical. They saw holes in the AGW thesis and felt someone had not done their research very well and their case was not made.

    The host took the floor for a vote on officers and mentioned that the next level up of the IEEE had told him they thought this topic was ‘not appropriate’ as the ‘issue was settled’. He asked what the membership thought, and did they want different topics. Not a single person was sympathetic to the idea that “it was settled” nor to the idea that folks ‘higher up’ ought to be telling THEM what was appropriate for them to discuss or have presented. The host said he would listen to their point of view and referred them to the ‘higher up’. It was sheer joy to watch typical American Grass Roots in action. Unlike the European Model (top down, Kings, Queens, Princes, Ministers, Authoritarian Dictators of all stripes from time to time – including the EU unelected Eurocrats today) here we had the folks at the “bottom” saying “tell the top we are in charge.” Gotta love it. (The American model has traditionally been ‘we at the bottom delegate SOME authority upward’) I was left with a bit of hope for us all after all. The spirit of “tell the muzzlers to bugger off” is alive and well…

    These folks understand that Science can be confirmed, but is never “settled’.

    All in all, a very pleasant evening.

    Oh, yes, the dinner…

    It was a pretty darned good Chinese Dinner served in the typical ‘family style’. Plates of food brought out and put on the ‘lazy susan’ in the middle of the table. Fried Rice, shrimp, broccoli beef, some chicken dish, an asparagus & broccoli with other vegetables vegetarian option, pot stickers and one or two more. Very good, and plentiful. Served with water, hot tea, and probably whatever else you wanted from the waiter. (Whiskey and Soda was $5.25 each and wine was also available). IEEE picks up half the tab on the dinner costs, so that $10 fee means a $20 price tag. I think I got more than $20 worth, so IEEE did a good job picking a venue and managing the relationship. I’ve been to a lot of overpriced ‘rubber chicken’ dinners, this was the other end of the scale. A very tasty and very economical night out. Well worth it.

    So that’s my “trip report”. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a technical group meeting like this. I really liked it. I think I’ll spend a bit more time looking up IEEE and ACM meetings… It’s nice to be able to say FORTRAN and Nyquist and not get strange looks ;-)

  5. Mike Patrick says:

    Mr. Smith, your comments, on this simple meeting of engineers, is why I follow your blog. It is so refreshing to hear how people, whose jobs revolve around data, feel about AGW. Occasionally I need a reminder that those with no ax to grind and the proven ability to think (where is the data?), realize the case for AGW is wanting.

    Although I do not always have the ability to follow the math, I fully understand your immersion response of, “Wait! I’ve got the answer on that one!” I believe that all of us who have spent a few years immersed in “global warming” have experienced many of those moments.

    Keep up the good work.

  6. pyromancer76 says:

    “I’ve thought. IMHO, making a ‘team’ of this talent to get together and give the Climate Models and the data fabrication codes (NCDC and GIStemp) a complete proctoscopy and ‘road test’ would be good for everyone. ”

    Go for it, please! Would not want to lose your time at the blog, but your talent deserves more expansiveness, IMHO. Put all the GISS shenanigans out there to those who likely are influential with others in their professions, even if only as mentors (retired or semi-retired).

    Also the Intro to AGW for Technical Types and Engineers, as long as you offer a non-technical version so that we “at the bottom” folks can understand, too.

    One other matter regarding those at the top. Most are probably heavily invested in AGW green energy junk. If any of those you met are willing to inform their “uppers” that they should sell now and why they should sell (a new investigating Congress), some of that arrogant certainly might disappear.

    Do you have any time to comment on Willis’ latest WUWT post? Most of it is about economics.

  7. tonyb says:


    Nice report. You say;

    “I’m toying with the idea of putting together an “introduction to AGW for the technical and engineering person” that would have more of the math and science issues in it. Though I’m not sure to whom it would be given.”

    I think there is a need for a central point containing a variety of presentations aimed at different levels of understanding of climate change.

    It is important that more of us get out there to present our views but putting together material can be a daunting task hence the need for a central virtual storehouse.


  8. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Thanks E.M. for the write up of your IEEE meeting, I find the views very interesting indeed. Seems to parallel my ‘wake up’ to the world of climategate etc, before that I was myopically working in my own field and just assuming the consensus view couldn’t be wrong. So much so I started developing a climate project of my own, stopped that pretty soon after actually looking at the data.

  9. Verity Jones says:

    Great report. There is great ignorance of the issues within many groups that is simply “those who have not had the time or motivation to look past the propaganda”, and yet such folks are frequently sceptical.

    If/when you start to look, getting past the jargon and the insider knowledge is tough. Starting to question nearly 4 years ago, WUWT and Climate Audit were clearly the sites to read, but I found many of the posts meant nothing because I didn’t know the personalities being discussed or what was so controvercial about their actions. You can spend all night following links and still not get to the basics of something.

    You can imagine someone starting to dig now, who had only a vague notion of Climategate and what it was about, never mind the more technical stuff underpinning the emails.

    Then there’s the acronymns (as you mentioned) – takes ages to learn – GHCN, GCOS, USHCN, GISS, NOAA, NASA… for a start.

  10. pyromancer76 says:

    Verity Jones, your description of the pain of the effort gives me shivers. I remember only too well, and I am so grateful that I had recently retired from my university and was only involved in my “other job”. Was living on this Earth as we know it going to come to a screeching halt? And we humans are the cause? The amount of time, the number of files, file cabinet drawers filling one after another, the acronymns (at least Anthony had a list, but it was not complete, and you had to add many of your own definitions) — shiver, shudder.

    At the same it was a great joy to learn the science. I cannot say I was pleased to realize the large numbers of “natural catastrophes” that have befallen Earth. However, it was/is soothing to see the 60-year periodicity that exists. Anyway, it was much too difficult and all mainstream publications, even the scientific ones, and my once beloved environmental organizations had cooked their books!

    I still feel much like a beginner, not having worked with science or math in my fields over a lifetime. One delight — being treated gently and with a modicum of respect for my attempts by scientists, mathematicians, engineers and others (like E.M. Smith) all of whom I have greatly admired all my life.

    The one advantage people have by beginning now is that they can understand quite quickly that one huge fraud has been perpetrated on trusting citizens and that all the scammers have been getting — or are planning to get — very, very rich with very little effort. And you and I are supposed to pay for it!

  11. bruce says:

    Not having the least inside knowledge, how likely is the end of global warming as a business plan? Companies have pretty much thrown their lot in with the notion of AGW. So they stand to loose if CAGW dies.
    How do you see the progression?

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    A lot of comments, don’t know if I can give each one a full response in turn….

    @Bruce: For most companies, it’s a ‘sideline’. GE makes wind turbines. But also toaster ovens and natural gas turbines. If one goes out of favor, another will move to the front. CREE makes LED lights. Even without AGW as a marginal driver, the economics will drive their growth. Chicago Carbon Exchange? Pretty narrow focus… belly up. So it will depend on the company and the product.

    @pyromancer76: One of my ‘pet peeves’ is folks who think that their possession of obscure jargon makes another less smart. In reality, it just means the speaker is too lazy or unable to translate jargon to clear English. I went out of my way to speak non-techno-babble as a ‘computer guy’ and regularly had to ‘earn my chops’ all over again with the technical teams who thought me an idiot for not speaking in obscure crypto-argot. Yet the hiring managers always liked me… and the tech guys learned pretty quick there was more ‘under the lid’ than on the lips…

    But yes, a 60 year cycle being peddle as ‘end of the earth’ when there are much more important ‘problems’ to deal with. (like rocks from space…)

    At any rate, I’m prone to making two versions of things anyway, the tech and the ‘management overview’. (Along with the executive summary 1/’2 page on top…) It’s just what I do…

    @Mike Patrick: Thanks! I’m a fairly accurate recording device, so it’s pretty easy to just ‘play back the tape’ and report. Can’t give you the visuals, though. The grizzled faces clear detection of BS when they see it passing by… the sparkle in the eye of the ‘gotcha’ moment on a detected error in the AGW thesis… but I do what I can.

    @all: And nobody commented on the dinner? OK, guess I’m the only one with a food fetish ;-) One fun note: The pot stickers arrived and I was ‘first to serve’, did a quick visual count and divide, took 2. As the 2nd and 3rd person each took two, the person next to me said “I see you calculated there were 2 per person”… Definitely an Engineering crowd… Just glad we didn’t need to ‘calculate the tip’… doing that with a group of Engineers usually results in a discussion of how many folks rounded their fractional penny up vs how many down and did anyone want to make up the final 1/2 cent… ;-)

    @Verity: At least folks starting now have more ‘help’ than we did. It was a might lonely at the start…

    @TonyB: Yes, a Skeptics Library… and reading list… but where to put it?…

  13. gnomish says:

    I’ve been on the road for about 60 days now, from northwest to southeast of the huge and sparsely populated usa. Having been immersed, myself, I was deflated to realize that virtually nobody I’ve chatted across the country has even heard of climategate.
    In truth, it seems to be off the radar of the average citizen.
    There is just too much reality to deal with for average joe to look up from his personal and pressing concerns.
    So I’ve got the new sense that this entire affair is a parlor game for the l33t.
    It just does not compare in significance to the latest version of iphone, the latest facebook flirtation or the unpaid bills.
    Admittedly, I’ve conducted no proper survey – but i’ve chatted a fairly broad cross section even though I can’t claim many hundreds of respondents.
    Ministers are concerned with increasing their flocks and getting funding for their charities.
    Bankers are concerned with inflation and depression and wonder wtf is the obama money.
    Realtors are concerned with the depression of real estate prices. Bros are busy saggin and chatting on their cellphones.
    Students are concerned with exams, steroids and date rape and cheap apartments.
    Paul, the blue man who drank colloidal silver in the belief he’d become immortal (but simply turned blue) is concerned with spaghetti.friday at the walk-in center across from the mission.
    I don’t think anybody cares but us and those who consider us prey.

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