CRU, NCDC, and GISS not Scientific

It’s a definition thing…

From the wiki (and if we can’t accept the Pro-AGW Manicured Wiki, then it will only get worse for the CRU crew and friends…)

Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. The Oxford English Dictionary says that scientific method is: “a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.”


Well, right off the bat, we have a major issue. “Empirical”. From the ’empirical’ wiki

The word empirical denotes information gained by means of observation or experimentation. Empirical data are data produced by an experiment or observation.

A central concept in modern science and the scientific method is that all evidence must be empirical, or empirically based, that is, dependent on evidence or consequences that are observable by the senses.

We can immediately dismiss “experimentation”. The thermometers gather data, they are not an experimental apparatus.

But what about “observation”? Surely the data gathered are ‘observations’. Well, yes, they are. If we had them.

But the CRU crew has stated that they no longer retain the observational data. They have “value added” numbers they call “data”. The problem with this is that “value added” also means “no longer observation”. If you do not have the original observations, then all that is left is a belief that the transformation done in making a “value added” or “adjusted” data set is not in fact the creation of a “corrupted” data set.

Without “observations” or “experiments”, you are not conducting science, you are indulging a belief.

GISS and GIStemp

But what about NCDC and GISS with the GIStemp data sets?

First off, GIStemp takes as its input a computed value. It is the monthly mean of temperature observations at a variety of locations (at different times, different places) from many places around the world. These have passed through many hands and many transformations prior to being handed to GIStemp as the GHCN “dataset”. So GIStemp does not have “observations” either. It has a ‘data-food-product’ produced by others as the input to what might well be charitably called an ‘experimental transformation function’. It then produces as output an experimental (or one could say “fictional”) product that consists almost entirely of imagined values.

Depending on which generation of the software, GISStemp has either 8,000 or 16,000 “grid boxes” of fabricated temperatures to cover the planet – but in recent years there are only about 1200 actual thermometer instruments in the GHCN temperature records. BY DEFINITION, almost all grid boxes contain a fabricated number. It is a matter of belief that the transformation from GHCN “data-food-product” into hypothetical grid box temperatures bears some relationship to reality.

There is no observation data input. There is a ‘polite fiction’ that we hope the product is related to reality based on some rather arcane numeric transformation. There are papers reputing to show that some of the transformations are reasonable.

One, The Reference Station Method, shows that some stations in a limited geography can correlate reasonably well during one short period of time with some other stations such that from one set you can predict the others, more or less. OK… But then this belief is applied across all of recorded temperature history and all locations, stretched far beyond the paper ranges.

Does it change with AMO / PDO swaps? Between North and South hemispheres? During Grand Solar Minimums when the UV drops off a cliff and atmospheric height changes (and so changing past relationships for thermometers at different altitudes)? It is believed it does, but not shown.

Also, then this RSM is applied recursively inside GIStemp. Sometimes to infill missing data (‘homogenizing’). Then to “correct” for UHI. Then to fabricate the empty grid /box cells. There is no foundation for the notion that RSM can be applied recursively. It is a belief, not a fact. (When compared to reality, the results of the transformation ‘have issues’ with not matching reality. The Arctic, for example, is always shown as very anomalously warm. Why? Because the few stations near the arctic, from which the ‘coverage’ is hypothesized, are warm stations.) There are other similar issues.

So the operation of GIStemp is not validated by proper supporting proof of the validity of the transformations. The input is not observations. The output is not valid. In the end, it simply is not a scientific process.


So we go to swim upstream to NCDC. They, too, produce a transformational data food product. Can you get the observational data to compare and test? Nope. They too have papers claiming to support some of their transformations of the data. Can you test them vs the observational data? Nope.

They have input from around the world. Some of the input data is observational (sometimes called “raw”). Some of it is post processing product of various national meteorological services. Here, too, we have non-observational inputs masquerading as observations. Where is the observational data? Historically they provided “QA adjusted” data items for each instrument in the record (no longer just observational, and averaged over a month). Lately they have begun spicing different instrument series together to fabricate a single series. As splices are known to create issues (especially in calorimetry) this is a grave concern. We are told the observational data is a trade secret product of the various agencies, that it is proprietary and they sell it for a fee, so it is not available. Fine. They can do that. BUT, it means that the NCDC data food products are not “scientific”.

There is no ‘experiment’. There is no ‘observation’. There are processed proprietary numbers fed into a hidden series of transformations. That is not science. That is a proprietary trade secret manufacturing technique.

Yes, there are various papers published purporting to tell you how the technique works. BUT, those talk ABOUT the transformation ideas. They do not show the transformations themselves. It is rather like my saying “Well, to bake a bird, you pluck it, season it, and put it in the oven”. Lacking as such things as the implied “oh, and remove the guts” and details such as what species of bird, the size, temperature, kind of baking pan (it matters – stainless cooks more slowly than black), kind of oven, temperature, temperature range during cooking (it, too, matters. Some ovens wander 50 F, per cycle, others do not…), how long to let it rest, covered or not covered, basted or not, and the minor issue of just what seasoning to use… You see, you simply can not reproduce a perfectly cooked turkey from “pluck, season, bake”. To prove that the method is valid and correct, you need the observational data to put in (same kind and size of turkey) and the computer codes used (same type of pan, oven, seasonings, exact recipe).

We don’t have those things, so NCDC may cook a fine Turkey, but it isn’t ‘scientific’. Compare with how the Turkish Meteorological office does real science:

Since we can not TEST any of HADcrut (from CRU), the NCDC series, GHCN, nor GIStemp; by definition they fail as ‘scientific method’.

Prediction and Testing

The wiki on scientific method goes on:

The chief thing which separates a scientific method of inquiry from other methods of acquiring knowledge is that scientists seek to let reality speak for itself, and contradict their theories about it when those theories are incorrect. Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, identifiable features distinguish scientific inquiry from other methods of obtaining knowledge. Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena, and design experimental studies to test these hypotheses via predictions which can be derived from them. These steps must be repeatable, to guard against mistake or confusion in any particular experimenter. Theories that encompass wider domains of inquiry may bind many independently derived hypotheses together in a coherent, supportive structure. Theories, in turn, may help form new hypotheses or place groups of hypotheses into context.

The “climate scientists” go out of their way to consistently state that the results of their various climate models are “projections” not predictions. Well, if they are not predictions, then they are not scientific method. By Definition.

The output of NCDC, CRU, and GISStemp change month by month. (Even inside of a single month. Mid month, GHCN has often shown ongoing changes as various countries contribute their little bits of post-normal post-processed data-food-product to the computed values that end up in GHCN.) It is simply not possible to recreate any given ‘run’ of GIStemp as the set of numbers fed into it changes day by day. Historic copies of GHCN have values that wander all over. Month by month, year by year, country by country. If you have not archived every single version, you can not test nor reproduce any given product.

As near as I can tell, few (perhaps none?) of the copies are archived with any sort of granularity. When, for example, GHCN.v1 was obsoleted, then an archived copy was created that ceased changing. But all the various intermediate forms? Lost to history. But what we DO know is that this set of data constantly changes. Constant change is not repeatable. Unrepeatable results fail the test of the scientific method.

CRU have stated that they can not recreate their original runs (but have stated they could fabricate a pretty close data set if they had to, from going to the output and getting some stuff from GHCN). I’m sorry, but being able to make a “close” paint by numbers copy of an original hand crafted painting is NOT the scientific method. It is a decent set of ‘craft work’, but not science. How can we test the validity of the original transformation if the only ‘data’ available would be ‘back fit’ from the present data-food-product and a reverse engineering of the transformation?

Look at their own work products. Even these folks can not recreate their original process, transformations, and results. If it can not be reproduced, it might as well be “cold fusion”. Lots of claims. Lots of interesting appearance of results. Maybe something interesting going on. Potentially even decent craft work. Heck, you might even find some “excess heat”. But it isn’t in accord with the scientific method. Without reproduction we are accepting a belief based on hope and faith. That isn’t science.

Objectivity and Independent Verification

Scientific inquiry is generally intended to be as objective as possible, to reduce biased interpretations of results. Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, giving them the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established.

The ClimateGate emails show, beyond any doubt what so ever and in their own words: That the CRU staff and related ( folks they corresponded with at NCDC et. al.) have no interest in being objective, nor in sharing data. There are emails (many) that decide if a result is as desired and if things are going to turn out good or bad for a desired warming agenda. Hardly an objective: “I wonder what the data say?”. We have folks working to ‘hide the decline’ and ‘flatten the 1940s’ and more. Objectivity is simply not present.

We have Phil Jones stating he would delete the data rather than release it to others.

We have “Harry-README” saying he can not reproduce the methods and products. How can you share a method if you can’t even find it?

We have emails stating they would not want to share data or methods with others as those folks would only use it to scrutinize and critique what was being done. Yet just that scrutiny and critique is what is the heart and soul of the Scientific Method. There is barely even partial disclosure, not even major disclosure. We are no where near “full disclosure” (and what ought to be disclosed may even have been destroyed rather than let it be shared.)

Without that objective approach and disclosure for repeatability; without the verification via scrutiny and the validation via reproduction: There is no scientific method at work.

Bottom Line

Failure on any one or two of those key points of the Scientific Method would be damning enough. Yet these institutions manage to fail on substantially ALL of them.

IMHO: These are not organizations of science. They are organs of belief, faith, propaganda, and proprietary products of unknown and unknowable reliability and quality.

In short, CRU / HADcrut, NCDC and their temperature series, GISS and GIStemp are not products of the scientific method. They are not scientific and are faith or belief based creations at best.

Can this be fixed? Perhaps.

IFF the original observational data has been preserved. IF the data and ALL transformations done to it are released and published. IF truly independent teams can reproduce their original work product then validate and verify them. (As the Climategate emails show tight coordination between these three agencies and various of their staff, they can not be considered to be independent validators of the work). IF they are open, honest, sharing, objective and basically start over, but applying the Scientific Method honestly.

But given that we have them stating in email that the observational data are lost and only the “value added” product exists: It may well be that truly scientific analysis of instrumental temperature data will need to wait for another generation or two of fresh valid data to be gathered. If that is the case, it will truly be a horrific failure of post-normal science in its blatant failure to serve the public good and to serve humanity at large.

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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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53 Responses to CRU, NCDC, and GISS not Scientific

  1. George says:

    “the CRU crew has stated that they no longer retain the observational data.”

    It’s even worse than that. They no longer have the metadata either. They not only don’t have the original data, they don’t know which stations’ data were used for which months. It is a total and complete mess. It means absolutely nothing.

  2. kakatoa says:

    Now you’ve done it. I have to review Chapter 2- “Science as a Human Activity: It’s History and its Method” by Checkland in Systems Thinking, Systems Practice after the 2nd half of the Pit vs Denver game before I have a hope of putting this post into context!

  3. Yes, AGW is fraudulent science: The result of forty years (1971-2011) of hiding, ignoring and manipulating experimental observations in astronomy, astrophysics, biology, climatology, cosmology, nuclear, particle, planetary, solar and space physics to fit a political agenda that was probably set when Dr. Henry Kissinger secretly visited China in 1971.

    By coincidence I first had the:

    a.) Good fortune to see science as a great way to discover reality, and then the

    b.) Misfortune to see the corruption of science over the last forty years of my career:

    Today climate critics, Jeff Id and Judith Curry, have posted new information on the corruption of charitable organizations and national security by the unfolding AGW scandal:

    Thanks to friends like you,

    Tonight all is well,
    Oliver K. Manuel

  4. adolfogiurfa says:

    Fortunately real science, real breakthroughs in science are neither “corporative” nor “social” but individual. So, let´s wait for the emergence of a new Science….and…buy more popcorn!

  5. E.M.Smith says:


    So true… I spent much of my life guarding data archives. Their cavalier nature makes my stomach churn. How many millions of staff hours spent carefully gathering data squandered by such stupidity.


    I understand that beer and chips make the reading go faster, or maybe that’s the halftime show ;-)

    @Oliver K. Manuel:

    Oh Boy, more Hot Links! Now where’s that beer ;-)


    I think I’m going to lay in a supply of potato chips, dip, and Polish Sausages…. I think this is going to take longer than a bag of popcorn ;-)

  6. Adrian Vance says:

    “Scientific” is a bit nebulous as it refers to method. A more valid criticism would be, “Is the data valid, truthful, accurate or verifiable.” It is none of those things and therefore unworthy of statistical analysis or drawing any conclusions therefrom.

    The Two Minute Conservative at for political analysis, science and humor. Daily on Kindle.

  7. adolfogiurfa says:

    If someone appears with a new breakthrough in science, like finding a cure for alzheimer disease, it would be “inconvenient”, as inconvenient would be a solar minimum for climate scientists…that´s the problem (so…”follow the money”). BTW, it happens that a cure has been found for alzheimer: (in spanish)
    Dr. Nibaldo Inestrosa has been awarded the chilean science national prize for finding that “St.John´s wort” cures the disease.

  8. As Usual, EM., very well put together and assessed.
    Probably a bit too scientific for the ‘warmists’, scientists and bloggers alike, to understand, but an excellent post to further build the evidence that the AGW “science” is neither settled nor valid.

  9. tckev says:

    Climate “science” from IPCC is the Phlogiston theory of the modern age. Well it only took 86 years of real science to overturn Phlogiston theory with verifiable facts, hopefully the IPCC money-wasters will be expelled a little faster.

    Science must be based on facts that are verifiable, and understandable; anything less is called magic.

  10. Pingback: Scientific method…scrutinized | pindanpost

  11. adolfogiurfa says:

    @tckev: Science must be based on facts that are verifiable, and understandable; anything less is called magic.
    Please do not offend magicians! Those guys are neither scientists nor magicians…. need to be a lawyer to classify them.

  12. pouncer says:

    My question is not so much about experimenting,but on second sample data.

    Take the China tree ring data reported at Watts’ Up last month. “Amplitudes, rates, periodicities, causes and future trends of temperature variations based on tree rings for the past 2485 years on the central-eastern Tibetan Plateau were analyzed.”

    Can’t the UEA or PSU take the Jones or Mann method, apply to the Liu dataset, and come to some sort of conclusion? (The hope that Liu’s method could be applied to the JONES dataset is, of course, ridiculous. Why would Jones share his data with anyone who might criticize it?)

    Better yet, go find a range of trees in remotest Alaska or Iceland that has never been sampled ever before. Sample it. Tell us whether the new data, viewed with the SAME methods used previously, gets the same answer.

    We can’t re-run the past 2000 years, or set up a second planet — but why should we have to?

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    @Adrian Vance:

    Nice list… I wish they did any of them…


    Very Interesting… It also looks like it ‘works’ vi suppression of inflammation. There are many diseases that have a basis in inflammation so that implies that St. John’s Wort might well help them, as well. (Arthritis is on of those diseases…) I think I’ll be ‘digging in’ to this a bit…

    @Ken McMurtrie:

    Thanks, glad you liked it! I just got to wondering how much of the “scientific method” they had ignored and decided to do ‘checklist checkup’ on it… Was a bit surprised to have so many ‘misses’ by The Team…

    @Tckev and Adolfo:

    I agree, don’t cast aspersions on Magicians like that! They have repeatable results, have a clear and established procedure, and they MUST perform or they are out of a job. The only place they have overlap with the “climate scientists” is that their process is secret and nobody how they did what they did! ;-)


    There are several ways to ‘re-run’ the China study to verify it (and / or to extend it to cover other areas).

    1) Just re-do the Chinese process on THEIR tree ring data.

    This validates that their results come from their data. A validation of their scientific method.

    2) Start with their tree ring samples and re-create their data.

    This validates their data collection techniques.

    3) Re-sample their trees. Do #1 on THIS data.

    This validates their SAMPLE collection techniques and that their samples are representative of the region sampled.

    4) Sample DIFFERENT trees and do their process on those samples.

    a) In the same location. This proves lack of sample bias in that region.

    b) In a different location. This discovers if their findings are local or distributed.

    There are other variations possible on this, creating newer and different experiments to test various of their methods and findings. (So, for example, you could deliberately sample a wet and a dry area in the same region to do a differential on water impacts.)

    IMHO, that is how you’re able to do a ‘second sample’ or re-run history in the data. If each of the above variations is a ‘confirm’ you have ever more confidence in the conclusions. Any of the above that diverges, points you toward which part of the process has issues and where you may learn something new.

  14. Sera says:

    I had a conversation with a friend the other day about whether Einstein was a scientist, or not. He said that Einstein was, while I claimed that Einstein was a brilliant mathematician who did thought experiments. Can any mathematician who does thought experiments claim himself to be a scientist? I stated that thought experiments do not provide hard data, yet he claimed that ‘it doesn’t matter’.

    Any thoughts on this?

  15. As EM said above – “its a defintion thing”,

    From Wiki: A scientist in a broad sense is one engaging in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge. In a more restricted sense, a scientist is an individual who uses the scientific method.[1] The person may be an expert in one or more areas of science.[2] This article focuses on the more restricted use of the word. Scientists perform research toward a more comprehensive understanding of nature, including physical, mathematical and social realms.

    Mathematics is a science. Einstein was a mathematician. Ergo ……..

    Weird that I first misspelt mathematician, mayhematician. More appropriate for a AGW scientist?

  16. Sera says:

    @ KM

    By those definitions, then I am a scientist. But then, I do not consider myself to be one. That WIKI definition is so broad that half of the people on this planet might qualify as a scientist (social, economic, political, racial, ect…).

    I am having a hard time believing that. Someone needs to put this issue to bed.

  17. @ Sera. Once one accepts a definition of what science is, and practices it, they are a scientist, either practical OR theoretical. I don’t see a need to complicate it any further.

    Maybe, it doesn’t really matter anyway. In the AGW arena the use of the word does not imply correct performance or outcome, as we have seen all varieties of disparate conclusions from scientifically qualified persons, (another definition). They surely must all be scientists, if qualified in a science field. Which means they occupy some subset? of competent, incompetent or in between, honest, dishonest or in between, maybe other factors are possible.
    Scientists are human and have limitations and motivations. Even Einstein admitted fallibility. (Please don’t say,”but was he a scientist?”).

    If the subject is of extreme complexity, which is the case with AGW, where there are a huge number of variables, loosely connected rather than constrained by simple “laws”, interpretations are the result rather than scientific definitions. No certainties are to be expected.
    The whole scenario is foreign to any other science realm and outside the scope of man’s ability to quantify accurately, even with our fantastic computer facilities.

    This is the basic reason for the lack of consensus and the ongoing ‘unsettled” scientific conclusions. Added is the agenda connection, the “team”, the “cause”, the latter possibly applying to both “sides”.

    So the term “scientist” is, not irrelevant, but fades into insignificance in the general picture. Almost like the “messenger” which is irrelevant, because the MESSAGE is the real thing!

  18. @EM. Already having wandered slightly off thread, I may be pushing another boundary but I am intrigued by a WUWT post by Willis Eschenbach.
    “The Moon is a Cold Mistress”

    “These work together with other such mechanisms to maintain the whole system stable to within about half a degree per century. This is a variation in temperature of less than 0.2%. Note that doesn’t mean less than two percent. The global average temperature has changed less than two tenths of a percent in a century, an amazing stability for such an incredibly complex system ruled by something as ethereal as clouds and water vapor … I can only ascribe that temperature stability to the existence of such multiple, overlapping, redundant thermostatic mechanisms.”

    The science is above me but my general (gut) feeling is that there is significant relevance and importance in this, his original hypothesis. Yet, in the extract above, he appears to claim that less than 0,2% doesn’t mean less than two percent. At that stage I became confused.

    Does this article interest you at all?

  19. Pascvaks says:

    Objectivity and Independent Verification – the Weakest link.

    If it costs a bunch of Quatloos to do anything these days, not that these are worth much to begin with, I think the exchange rate now is about $120,000 for Q1 –so small wonder it takes so many (Quatloos)– but it does take a BIG Semi-Full or two to get the right place in the right University or Private/Corporate Research Center, and that’s just the front office and conference room. Like the Air Force, they don’t build the landing strips and tower (labs, etc.) until after the O’Club is up and operating. So when it comes to (hee-hee–haa–haa) objectivity AND verification, well the reality is that it can’t be done, no way. Imagine what it would take to do that and still get published in Science or Nature before the end of the fiscal year. No! No! The rules on Verification and Objectivity were changed by a Presidential Memo back in 1951 and no one does that anymore. Let’s get real!

    Wait… I get it… it’s April 1st… RIGHT?


    Do we really worry about anything anymore? This IS the 21st Century;-)

  20. j ferguson says:

    This may miss the point a bit, but i had the impression that the various temp datasets are not static for past data, that the data for say 1/1/1983, KORD, for example may be changed for QA or other reasons, and maybe more than once. If the dataset evolves, then what we would want to have to understand the massaging downstream would be the “instance” of the dataset input into the temporizer.

    If this is the case, then it’s not surprising that Phil would have “lost” the data. He doubtless has plenty of data, but not the “instance.”

    It seems incredibly disingenuous on Phil’s part to suggest that the data are publicly available when the particulars of the “instance” are not documented.

  21. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Sara: What if he was a “product”, like any of those singers who are “produced” by record companies? His counterpart, at the wrong side of the WWII was Max Planck.
    Think of the difference: Einstein famous equation E=mc2, SQUARES the velocity of light (Was it not that “C” is the maximum speed?).
    Planck´s equation: E=hν (Planck´s constant multiplied by frequency, where frequency= C/λ, the velocity of light divided by wave length).

  22. Pascvaks says:

    After administering the Last Rights, the priest asked the old Scotsman, “Well Sir, in your long life, did you find any answers to all your questions about the meaning of life?”

    The Scotsman thought for a long moment and said with his dying breath, “No, but I have come to a conclusion.”

    PS: I know it has something to do with the issue we’re discussing; I can feel it in my bones;-)

  23. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Ken McMurtrie: About the Sun-Earth-Moon energy gradient I just wrote there:

    So the moon should be absorbing more energy than the Earth..
    You are absolutely right!, but it is not only about “temperature”:
    Prof.Piers Corbyn uses the Sun-Moon-earth relation in his forecasting method:
    Richard Holle too:

    I would add here what it would´t be tolerated at WUWT: There is an energy gradient Sun-Earth-Moon, where the Moon high eccentricity denotes such a phenomenon, thus the Moon in this “circuit” would be the “ground” relative to the Earth.

  24. HamishMcDougal says:

    A very simple (simplistic?) comment:
    ‘Hen-coops’, ‘foxes’, ‘in charge of’ come to mind.
    It applies to all 3 series mentioned above, but specifically on GISS:
    Headed by one James Hansen PhD, who has built his whole career on cAGW, who condones (nay, excuses – the extent of giving ‘expert’ evidence in a court-of-law) criminal damage in support of the cause (i.s.o.t.c hereafter), who is quite ready to be arrested i.s.o.t.c., who makes wild, OTT statements i.s.o.t.c. (‘death trains’, anyone?), who has gone on record with falsified predictions i.s.o.t.c. (is Manhattan underwater yet?), who seems to have unlimited ‘time off’ i.s.o.t.c., can issue the wildest statements imaginable i.s.o.t.c. with the full authority of GISS (etc.). Does one find it likely that he would balk at ‘adjustments’ that favor his thesis – his raison d’être – especially when said ‘adjustments’ are performed by his junior staff?
    Just asking.
    I understand GISS is running ‘hotter’ than the other surface measurements, and certainly much ‘hotter’ than satellite measurements. Q.E.D.?

  25. J Martin says:

    And there’s this;

    Have NOAA still got a copy of the original data ? or have they overwritten it multiple times with their adjustments ?

  26. adolfogiurfa says:

    @J Martin: It seems that it has become a valid alibi to be a “scientist”..

  27. Judy F. says:

    I am bothered by the shenanigans of the holders of the world’s temps for two reasons: one is their apparent lack of concern about meticulous record keeping and the other is their honesty.

    I have a home made soap business. I have certain recipes that I use, and when I make a batch I write down everything that varies at all from that recipe. If I use 26.1 ounces of water instead of 26 ounces, I write it down. I keep track of where I get my ingredients. I keep track of the temperatures of each batch as I pour it. I date each batch and code it on the labels so I can track a problem if it develops later in the year. I think my little business keeps more “scientific” data than what I see these temp holders doing, and my business affects very few people.

    It is always hard to be honest and up front about things. It is much easier to lie and place blame someplace else. When my youngest was about 4 years old, we were at the grocery store. Right behind the check out area was the Brach’s candy pick a mix display. ( Individually wrapped candies that you can buy in bulk and it is sold by the pound.) My daughter wanted some candy and I told her no. As I was writing my check, I heard a man telling someone that they couldn’t steal the candy. When I turned to look, I saw an employee talking to my daughter as she was filling her pockets with candy. I was mortified, but as a parent you have to teach the hard lessons. I made my daughter empty her pockets and I told her she couldn’t have any candy. I apologized profusely. We walked to the car and my daughter was still whining ” But, I wanted some candy and you told me I couldn’t have any, so I took some”. I told her she was stealing. She looked at me with her big blue eyes and I could see that she didn’t understand. I repeated again, that she was stealing the candy and it was wrong. She still didn’t seem to understand, so I asked her if she knew what a robber was. She said yes, so I told her she was a robber who was robbing candy from the grocery store. At that point she burst into tears, crying that she didn’t mean to be a robber. A four year old learned a lesson that day, that you need to be honest and not take things from people.

    But now I see adult men, who should know better, who are robbing us by their incomplete record keeping, whether by intent or by carelessness, I don’t know, and it doesn’t seem to bother them. There seems to be a shrug of shoulders and a wink, wink, nod, nod and that’s the end of it. Sometimes, there might be nothing wrong but it appears as if there is, and in that case, openness and transparency solves the problem. However, in this case, they lie, cover up, slander and obfuscate. Are their egos so big that they are unable to admit wrongdoing? Where were their mothers?

  28. Mark Miller says:

    @E.M. Smith:

    Re. cooking a turkey

    I’m not sure that this is a good analogy, partly because this is the argument warmists seem to *like* to use. You use it as a notion as to why their notion is crappy. *They* use it as an argument as to why what they say has validity. I’ve had warmists tell me, “Just because we don’t know everything doesn’t mean we don’t know anything.” In other words, “Sure, we don’t know *exactly* how to bake a turkey, but you know at the end of the process you have a cooked turkey, albeit a messy one. That’s good enough. We know we’re in the ballpark. The purpose is not to eat the turkey. It’s just to see if we can change it to a cooked state.” This would fit your analogy, though you started out “cooking a bird.” What kind of bird? I thought that was a good counter-argument, but you kind of lost it at the end.

    I think perhaps a better analogy is a joke I heard a while back, that I think has been shown to be an urban legend. It goes that a standard technique for testing the safety of a cabin design for an aircraft against a flock of birds (like geese) is to take a chicken (or maybe a turkey) from the supermarket, and fire it at the windshield going 500 MPH. Some test team did a test, firing a chicken at the windshield for a new aircraft. The chicken went through the windshield, busted the back of the pilot’s chair, and made a hole in the back of the cockpit! The punch line was they asked some higher authority about this. The response was, “Defrost the chicken first.” The idea was, sure it may sound like a small thing to neglect, but it’s things like that that change the outcome entirely. All they thought was necessary for the model to work was “a chicken.” They didn’t think they needed to check what state it was in first!

    What you talked about with the “value added” data reminded me of a sense I had about the AGW work when I looked in depth at it a few years ago, that what was going on was mathematics masquerading as science.

    My sense is the practitioners started with some propositions that are derived from scientific work–and even this is dubious, because they either didn’t research it completely, or they cherry picked certain ones that produced a result that fit their preconceived notions–and then they made some deductions from it to come to their conclusions. A good example of this is their reliance on Arrhenius’s work. They looked at his 19th century work, but not his 20th century work… There’s a significant difference between the two…

    Their “scientific” work, gathering evidence, only exists to validate their mathematical conclusion. If some of it doesn’t fit, they can use some artifact of mathematics to “adjust” it so it fits, with the concomitant rationalizations. If some other evidence comes along that contradicts this conclusion, they try to contradict it, and say it’s “debunked,” by using some aspect of their mathematical model to say that, or they use their model to “correct” the data, and thereby, again, validate their model (circular reasoning, no?) Since mathematics, and the artifacts derived from it, appear to convey “truth” (though truth in what context?) they feel they have the stronger argument.

    What gets totally lost is the idea that just because they’ve come up with something that supposedly contradicts a notion, that is not the end of the discussion. It’s just taking notion and evidence set A and creating a counterpoint to it. That would normally become part of the debate. But in their eyes, that’s the end of the debate! What scientists think like that?? The answer is no scientists think like that. I venture a guess that mathematicians think like this.

    This was taken to an absurd level in a quote I heard about several years ago, when a climate modeler was confronted with an actual observation that went against his model. His response was, “The model is correct. It’s the earth that’s wrong.” That’s science for ya!!

    The most bizarre argument I’ve heard was from a climate modeler who worked at NCAR, of all places. I was arguing with him about the use of computer climate models to make “observations.” He told me, “We don’t have another earth to use as a control.” He also talked about the need to “get beyond science.” What?? He implied that since we didn’t have a control, we needed to use computer models to run experiments. When I read that I thought the guy needed to go to an insane asylum! Off the wall kooky! As a famous computer scientist has said, “You cannot do science on a computer.” I guess this guy would not claim to be doing that, even though that’s what he was trying to do! At best computers can be used to play around with theories, but that’s all it is. A good model is one that’s tested against a real thing many times under many different circumstances that are reproducible, with enough reliability to be statistically relevant. When you’re talking about large complex systems, with a periodicity that’s very long, it also needs to be tested over a period of many years, perhaps decades, perhaps even centuries. It just didn’t seem to occur to this guy that a *human being* made the climate model, and the Earth was not made by a human being, if by anything other than a process, which we have yet to comprehend!

    It’s hard to say when this craziness started. I’ve read one account, by Michael Crichton, saying it started with the Drake Equation, in a speech he gave several years ago, with a title that was tongue in cheek, called, “Aliens Cause Global Warming.”

    Something that’s troubled me is the “standard theory” now about how the Moon was created. The conventional wisdom within planetary science seems to be that the Moon was created by a collision with Earth and another planet. This theory only came to be accepted because of a set of computer model runs that showed you could create something with the size and orbit of our Moon out of a specific planetary collision. Now, the motivation to do that was noble. Scientists have noticed that the Moon has an orbit unlike any other moon in the solar system. So, how to explain it? Some observation was involved (from looking at Moon rocks, and the Moon’s orbit), but there’s been no observation of this happening in a similar circumstance (like, for example, a moon like ours being formed in another solar system.) At best it’s a plausible theory, but from what I’ve heard, it’s now accepted as “how we got our Moon.” This is unfortunate IMO, because really, we don’t know. We’re just acting as if we do. I see the same thing going on with AGW.

    The belief is that since someone, or some group, has produced a plausible theory of why something has happened, that the only thing that will “beat it” is a theory that’s more plausible, or has more evidence behind it. Never is Carl Sagan’s maxim considered, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” The way they conduct themselves strikes me as harkening back to a 19th century mode of scientific thinking, where scientific “truth” was a matter of accumulation.

    Another thing that provides some perspective on how this came about is to read “Warm Words: How are we telling the climate story and can we tell it better?”. It is a public relations strategy document, which if I remember correctly was commissioned by the UK government. Note particularly the section on “scientists.” Basically what it said is, “Scientists will debate this issue endlessly, but we don’t need to wait for their answer. We know that the earth is warming, and that we are the cause.” If I remember correctly, it cites the usual litany of anecdotes about icebergs melting, species being affected, etc. That’s all the evidence anyone needs. We shouldn’t wait for the scientists to figure it out. What??

    Reading this scared and offended me, because it gave me the definite impression that science was being *discounted*. It wasn’t just that some scientists were trying to be scientific, and were deluding themselves, making mistakes, and unintentionally misleading the government to push this agenda. The government *knew* what it was doing.

    A couple commenters here talked about the relationship of mathematics to science, and I think I disagree. Mathematics is not the same as science. There is an experimentation process in mathematics that’s reminiscent of science, but science fundamentally involves a knowledge of uncertainty. Measurement is a tool used in science, and measurements are always accompanied by estimates of error. If there is no error associated with a measurement, it’s not science. Secondly, theories come with probabilities of accuracy. Both of these aspects are not in mathematics. Mathematics is *used* to create models of phenomena in science, to be sure, and some of its artifacts are used to create the estimates I just mentioned.

    Mathematics is about the truth of abstractions. Science is about building models based on what’s observed, and these models are always accompanied by constraints that speak to their applicability and accuracy. Math and science have a meta-concept in common, though. Both more generally are about relationships of relationships. They just approach them differently, with different knowledge and purposes in mind.

    I think a good rule of thumb that can be used is in mathematics there’s no talk of “accuracy” or “probability” about a result. Either something is true, within some constraints, or it’s not. In science there is no truth with regard to what’s being observed. There are only estimates of truth, and the goal is to make those estimates very, very good.

    This leads me to another criticism of your post, though it’s in a wiki you quoted:

    “The chief thing which separates a scientific method of inquiry from other methods of acquiring knowledge is that scientists seek to let reality speak for itself, and contradict their theories about it when those theories are incorrect.”

    This is analogous to the use of the term “proof” about something scientific. I think I get what this description is getting at, but it’s misleading. Modern scientific thought doesn’t really have a concept of “letting reality speak for itself.” To assume this is to think that science can reveal truth about reality, “It speaks for itself.” Modern thinking on science is that the observer contributes something to what’s observed. We have to remember that what comes through our senses is only what’s obvious to us. The way in which we form ideas about what we see is based on our *experience*, and various models we’ve formed in our brain out of that, that help us think beyond what’s obvious. Scientists can be self-conscious and wonder, “Am I seeing what I think I see,” and try to see it differently, but that only comes out of the techniques they’ve developed for doing that.

    So yes, there is something from reality that comes through, but it does not entirely “speak for itself.” We partly speak for it as well, in our own minds. This is a significant part of the value of having other scientists review the work of a scientist, because it’s not just about checking for errors. It’s also, “You didn’t see it from this perspective that I see it from, and it appears to me my notion produces more predictable results with more accuracy.” And other scientists can check and criticize that, etc.

    Another aspect of science that’s crucial is falsifiability. A theory is not scientific unless it can be tested, and the possibility exists that it will be shown to be false. This implies something that Richard Feynman talked about, which is that the best scientists are always trying to prove themselves wrong. This really goes against how society thinks about scientists. The common notion is that a scientist wants to prove themselves right. Imagine the discipline it must take to always try to say, “I must be wrong somehow,” even if you get a result you expected!

    This implies that it would be useful for scientists to not only form hypotheses but also anti-hypotheses. So, if a scientists is looking for A, it would also be useful for them to consider the case of “not in A,” thinking of A as a set. Another way of looking at it is through the mathematical concept of proof by contradiction. Instead of looking just for, “If this is true, I will see X,” also looking for, “If this is not true, I will (or will not) see X (or Y).”

    One scientist told me another aspect of the discipline, which is like a bunch of blind people checking out an elephant. One reports, “I have a thin, rather stringy thing.” Another reports, “I have four stumps rising out of the ground.” Another says, “I have a thick, pliable thing that appears to be attached to something,” etc.

    What seems to be hard about science, and it’s something I don’t see displayed with proponents of AGW, is that you have to be doing what does not come naturally, thinking about things in a way that is not intuitive, and certainly not obvious! One thing I got out of my education in science in school is that nothing in scientific study is obvious! Anyone who tells you otherwise is blowing smoke.

  29. Sera says:


    Math is my job- seven days a week. I agree that math is a ‘tool’ used for many things, and it would be difficult to say that it IS a science and that all mathematicians are scientists. What really bothers me, and apparently you too, is that people are getting just a little too loose in their definitions about what is science and what is not. It bothers me even more that the ‘Academies’ of science have bought into this nonsense.

  30. Hillbilly33 says:

    E.M. As promised in an earlier post, the results are in for my small section of the Southern Hemisphere in Hobart Tasmania and it’s definitely cooling. Unlike the models used by the UNIPCC my GCM encompasses and allows for every known and even unknown factor influencing Earths climate here at this time and it’s also scientific as the evidence is empirical, measurable and completely observational. Although it is not predictive it is validated by past history and though cyclical to some extent, the lengths of cycle vary and are therefore somewhat chaotic.

    There is no standardisation, gridding, homogeniising, value adding or any other. sort of adjustment. The data are raw although I do confess to having eaten some of it but they have the remarkable property that even if “cooked” it does not affect the result of the climatic observations!

    I refer of course to my Garden Climate Model and the particular proxy I use, Scarlet Runner Beans. They have not only flowered prolifically this year but having had the cooler temperatures required, are setting and cropping heavily on that first flowering – a return to the conditions that existed before the slight natural warming period.over some of the last few years.

    There is also empirical measurable evidence again based on observation, of the wonderful fertilising benefits of the increased levels of Carbon Dioxide. My crops of raspberries, loganberries, apricots, greengages and other fruits have been of excellent size and quality, the apple trres are loaded and there has been clearly increased gowth and greening of all plants and trees in the area.

    Let’s hope that affected scientists are eventually shamed into leaving their virtual reality world of inadequate and unreliable computer modelling and get back to real science as laid out in your post.

  31. We have seen enough to show that that the IPCC claims are not supportable and should not be accepted as a basis for world-wide political and financial upheavals.
    “Hillbilly33″‘s method of assessing global warming and seriously support it as at least as valid as is the IPCC’s.
    I agree with ‘Cementafriend’ that JoNova’s linked post has great relevance to this discussion.
    Most of us agree on this general outlook and relevant conclusions.

    How do we get the press. the governments and the public to come to their senses?

  32. Pascvaks says:

    Interesting monthly update –
    “December 2011 Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomaly Update”
    Posted on January 9, 2012

    If you go to comments, I can use some help;-)

  33. Hillbilly33 says:

    Ken McMurtrie @ (12;09;52)

    “Hillbilly33″‘s method of assessing global warming and seriously support it as at least as valid as is the IPCC’s.”

    I was a little “tongue in cheek” Ken, but the crop info supplied is true. Given that resident Tasmanians complained that we had no summer last year, it was only 8C in Hobart this morning with highland snow and a top of 16C forecast and apart from one warmer spell a few days ago, we don’t look like getting much summer this year, my cooling observations have some validity.

    As to “How do we get the press, the govenments and the public to come to their senses”, I fear there are so many trillions of various currencies invested in the opportunities available from heavily subsidised so-called “green renewable energies” , “carbon credit schemes” and other associated scams, nothing but an international financial meltdown and the resultant potentially catstrophic consequences will derail the AGW gravy train and the UN one world government Agenda 21 plans.

    As Ottmar Edenhofer of the UNIPCC publicly admitted, it has almost nothing to do with the climate or the environment anymore.

  34. E.M.Smith says:


    My cabbages and kale are in agreement ;-)

    Unfortunately, I also have to agree on the political aspects. If you look at what Obama is doing, they have decided to go for the “cram down”. Just ignore law, society, whatever, and CRAM! (He made a few ‘recess appointments’. Unfortunately, the Senate was NOT in recess. Now not only is the constitution being ignored, but the Senate as well. Reminds of the events when Rome transitioned from Republic to Empire… Maybe I need to review that history….


    Hang on, headed over now…

    @Ken McMurtrie:

    While it’s a bit trite, I’ve just done this with a relative and it seemed to work.

    Pick one person with an open mind (but a little concerned about green issues). Walk them through the Agenda 21 posting and explain this is the mechanism by which the AGW scam is being pushed / perpetrated.

    Takes about 5 hours, including extensive Q&A.

    At the end, let them rest a bit. When rested, have them take on the duty to “tell one friend”… (Two days later he had two friends ‘explained’…)

    I suspect that with some particular churches, farmers organizations, and others who are on the ‘front line’ of a cooling climate and / or taxing issues, eventually a political party or two can be moved. Probably libertarians first, then Republicans later (and reluctantly… lots of THEM expect to make money off the deal…)

    Hard? Yup. So start early and go slow…

    I’d also suggest attendance at things like school open house and school board meetings and then making a point of talking about Global Warming being false and that “sustainable development” is not about development at all and is against a sustainable economy, driven by the UN as a power grab.

    Don’t worry if 80% of the folks push back or think you nuts. Just get one person to hear… Next time it will be two of you getting 2 people to hear…

  35. EJ says:

    This is like a big civil project gone bad. The teams tried to build the bridge from each side and it doesn’t connect. When asked for the data, if the chief engineer said he couldn’t find it, and the other side’s chief engineer couldn’t find the original data, heads would roll.

    What if they eventually produced some data and calculations for review? It took an FOI request. After lots of revisions and iterations, the calculations agree with each other and it wasn’t their fault. Ooops. What went bad? We’ll neve know.

    There are hard sciences, the physics, and soft sciences, the economics, pshychiatry and environmental studies.

    It is a trajedy that economists, sociologists, psychologists, climatologists, etc., get to claim they are scientists.

    Climate science is in its infancy. To claim that the ‘climate science’ is settled, that we have modeled the chaotic atmosphere and chaotic oceans, to perfection, should warrant a real shout down, in the hollowed halls of evey scientific institution.

  36. Mark Miller says:


    I agree that math is a ‘tool’ used for many things

    I realize I kind of ragged on math in my posting, but it was really to say that it’s being abused and misrepresented.

    I understand why you put “tool” in quotes. Math is something to discover and explore for the beauty of it to mathematicians, though it IS useful if just used as a tool.

    What really bothers me, and apparently you too, is that people are getting just a little too loose in their definitions about what is science and what is not.

    In the case of the NCAR climate modeler, who is not necessarily representative of all climate modelers, even at that facility, the more I talked to him, the more I realized he didn’t really believe in science in the first place. Yet he thought that somehow his climate models were legit. That’s what blew my mind. I thought, “Based on WHAT??” How could he make any legitimate claim about what Nature was doing if it wasn’t based on science? He realized full well the enormity of the task of trying to study the earth’s climate system scientifically. He was, however, so alarmed by the changes in climate he saw, that he felt that we couldn’t wait for science to figure it out. So to substitute, he was basically fooling himself with mathematics. He could rationalize that his results were “real,” probably because the subject matter of his model was “the world climate system,” and the model “moved” in a way that seemed realistic in some aspects. In addition, climate modelers bring in the money, so he thought he had something. It was like talking to someone who was delusional, though.

    The reason I can say this with some authority is I’ve programmed computers for about 3 decades, and I have a degree in computer science. I understand what Doron Swade, the curator of the London Science Museum, said 20 years ago, that,

    [Computers offer] a level of abstraction that makes them very much like minds, or rather makes them mind-like. And that is to say computers manipulate not reality, but representations of reality.”

    It would be great if climate modelers understood this. Secondly, it would be good for them to understand the computability limits of our current computing architecture. I remember my CS professors talking about stochastic models 20 years ago, specifically having to do with chaotic, non-linear systems (like an economy, and our climate system). They told us according to the research of computer scientists who had looked at such models, it was extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get those models to produce results that had reasonable accuracy. Yet, we have the Federal Reserve using computerized economic models to make economic forecasts (which failed, as Alan Greenspan admitted after the ’08 crash), and we’ve had climate modelers making (wrong) predictions about our climate system for at least 2 decades. One of the other commenters asked how to get people to wake up. I think one of the responders had it right. Really the only way to do it is to find people who are receptive, and try to increase their knowledge base. A lot of this is the result of ignorance, people thinking they are more capable than they really are of understanding what’s going on. Not all of it is that. I’ve heard enough, particularly about the machinations at the IPCC to understand that there are some political operatives behind the scenes, here and abroad, who know what they are doing and are using this to their own ends. I doubt they’re thinking about the math or the science. They just find this idea useful.

    It bothers me even more that the ‘Academies’ of science have bought into this nonsense.

    You might be interested in Dr. Richard Lindzen’s paper called, “Climate Science: Is it currently designed to answer questions?” (PDF). He gets into this, and some of why it’s happened. It seems true that a good part of it is the money involved, but he explains why the money is important. He said that after some point in the 1970s, it was no longer possible to advance scientific research using the government funding model set up by Vannevar Bush (no relation to the Bush political family), which allowed broad exploration, and primarily funded science through military research arms. Part of this was a change in the ’70s in military funding, authorized by congress, and part of it was that science was just getting more expensive to carry out, because it required more capital investment to pull off. Scientists became worried about their funding, and began to understand that they had to “sell” science to raise funds, and that fear was a useful tool in that effort. There’s more to it than this. I’m just giving a summary from memory to whet your appetite. :) It’s a good read IMO. I think what he pointed out is that some other funding model is needed so that scientific endeavors don’t become so corrupted that it’s not really science anymore. I would agree with that.

  37. E.M.Smith says:

    On Math:

    There is an ongoing (never ending?) debate on the question of “Is math invented or discovered?”. If it is invented, it is a machine or tool, not science. If it is discovered it is a fundamental property. The METHOD of discovery may be scientific, but the fundamental property itself ‘just is’. (We do not say that ‘gravity is science’… )

    IMHO it is simple a highly formal language that has behaviours similar to some real world behaviors. (AND some that strongly diverge…)

    On Computing:

    I just went thought this with Tim on another thread. My mantra is “Models can only ‘inform our ignorance’, they are not reality and never ever ought to be confused with reality.” Tim, being a modeler, didn’t like that.

    Me, having seen an endless stream of math rich computer modelers build great stock trading systems that modeled past data just fine, then blew up on yet another surprise; I never expect a model to be reality. If it is ‘close’ 9 out of 10 it’s doing spectacularly well. (That’s why all CAD airplane designs still get wind tunnel and / or flight tests done. Even the 787 Dreamliner had an issue with the wings that needed ‘fixing’ after static load tests showed things were not quite right…)

    So yes, it is a fallacy that models can ‘run experiments’. At best they can tell you where to look for data to confirm / disprove a theory or tell you what might make an interesting experiment. Often they can automate a lot of drudge work and even show you where your intuition would go off track in trying to imagine what that drudge would produce. But it will STILL not be reality, even if better than a sloppy mental model.

    They can be “God’s Gift” for things like wing / airfoil design as they automate a whole lot of calculation. Then you still need to make a physical wing and test that it does what you expected. Sometimes it doesn’t… despite $Billions spent to model ONE fluid over a single bicurved surface inside limited temperature and pressure ranges.

    We did plastic modeling. ONE fluid inside a precisely defined metal mold at a set initial temperature with known injection points of a small complexity plastic part. 9 out of 10 the die would be cut right first time. 1 out of 10 the model was wrong… Every single physical property of the single fluid was known. But fluid flow is not always perfectly predictable…

    Yes, it improved the process over the prior all-intuitive-all-the-time method (that usually took a couple of iterations for each die… instead of 9 out of 10 right). But being a better flawed process is NOT the same as reality.

    For some reason folks just fall into that trap all the time. “Scientists” much more so than engineers. ( I’m incredibly thankful my first programming class ever was in the Engineering department. The professor stressed that point to no end AND structured the problem set to sucker us into every possible trap just to drive the point home. Computer output is NOT reality and is NEVER to be blindly trusted.)

    One simple example of this:

    Make a computer program to simulate a roulette wheel. It will work just fine as an artificial wheel. Now start both it, and the real one, at the same initial settings and compare the result. What, you say, they came up with different numbers? …. Repeat with dice….

    Any process that has highly sensitive inflection points will diverge from reality ‘right quick’. Economics and weather both are very rich in such points… Climate more so, not less. (As geological changes enter into it too…)

  38. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.Smith (09:43:37) :
    On Math:

    At the beginning there was only the “Force” 1 and the “Void” 0…The Force lovingly wanted to fill the Void, so He went after She, and by approaching her it developed a “current” (say from that time on, a “Birkeland” current was born). In the first moment the “Force” divided in TWO in order to reach His goal: Electricity and Magnetism (at 90º each: Oersted Law or the Right Hand Law). In getting nearer his objective, directing himself toward it, managed to changed the “legs” of this primordial square triangle (as HE was impeded to change the permanent 90º angle), so he developed a peculiar movement: a spiral, extending ahead His longing arms Sinus and Cosine, while producing the sounds of an Octave. His breathing made the intervals, the musical gaps, while inspiring and exhaling.
    From that epic and passionate encounter, it is obvious, the numbers, between 0 and 1, were born: 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 (Watch there is not any “10”-that was a late product of some Devils trying to destroy His relation with human beings, during what historians called the “French Revolution”).
    We could properly, or more adequately say there were born RATIOS 1:2, 2:3, etc. or: from 0 to 1 all intermediates, all the values adopted by Sinus or the Cosine while varying their angle.
    This is why the Great earthly Sage Pythagoras studied only his famous theorem and his, not less famous but, since then, forgotten, Monochord.
    He did not need anything else to know the eternal laws of the Cosmos.

  39. Sera says:

    @E.M.Smith (09:43:37)

    Agree with all of that.

    @Mark Miller (08:05:03)

    Right on, brother!

    @adolfogiurfa (16:33:16)

    As an amateur musician, and numbers freak, I loved every word of that. Did you write that, or does it belong to someone else?

  40. Mark Miller says:

    @E.M. Smith:

    Good comments on math and modeling.

    I know about that debate about whether math is invented or discovered. I’m just beginning to get into mathematics. It sounds funny to say that, because I took what were called math courses all through Jr. high, high school, and college, but I found out a couple years ago that I didn’t understand mathematics that well at all.

    From where I sit right now, math seems to have both qualities. The axioms are invented, but the theorems (which are provable implications) about those axioms are discovered. The transformation of a proposition in the effort to prove a theorem are a mere refashioning of the original proposition, using principles derived from its supporting axioms. The reason I feel I can say this is the meaning of the expression never changes throughout the transformations. So you are just revealing “what is” about the original axioms, or something derived from them.


    I got a sense that there was something beautiful–elegant because it connected related concepts together–about what you said, but I don’t understand all of its elements yet. Perhaps someday I will.

  41. I suggest that mathematics has been ‘developed’, neither invented nor discovered. The result of human endeavour and intelligence.
    Perhaps, in itself it is not a science, although I am happy enough, in simple terms, to accept that it is.
    The study of, or application of mathematics, surely gives it the status of science.

  42. Pascvaks says:

    @Ken McMurtrie –
    The science of math is the science of density, speed, time, proportion, scale, luminesence, etc., it is the language of science, it is the measurement of all that “was”, “is”, and may yet “be” some who, when, where, why, and/or how. It’s the paddle, or the boat, it’s the nail, or the hammer, it’s the arrow, or the bow, it’s the chicken, or the egg (or both). It’s the universal language, really. You just can’t go anywhere without it. I’d say that a mathematician was indeed the first scientist and that you really can’t be a scientist unless you’re a mathematician.

    Funny how nothing is accepted as fact anymore. Everything is questioned. Everyone and everything must justify their existance every minute of everyday. I know that it’s the @#$#% water purification system we’re using. I know it! Mark my words, someone is going to find out what the EPA is putting in the water, and I’ll bet a quatloo they’ll know and use math to do it too;-)

  43. Mark Miller says:

    Climate science is in its infancy. To claim that the ‘climate science’ is settled, that we have modeled the chaotic atmosphere and chaotic oceans, to perfection, should warrant a real shout down, in the hollowed halls of every scientific institution.

    When I see a non-climate scientist support the AGW theory, it’s often a physicist. They’ll declare, “The physics of global warming is irrefutable.” If I try to “pull teeth” with them about how they justify that claim, they come out with Arrhenius’s findings from the late 19th century, which is faulty research on their part, as I’ve alluded to earlier.

    It’s been my impression that physics has long had a reputation of being the “hardest” of hard sciences, though I’ve heard it criticized lately of “trying to explain everything else by deduction.” Perhaps it doesn’t deserve its reputation anymore.

  44. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Climate scientists learned their “Modis Operendi” from modern Physics community. Physics is just a little older and wiser at covering up their ignorance. Arrhenius was corrected by Max Planck in 1906 and admitted his science was sloppy. Still as a lead chemist of the period and a leader of the Nobel prize committee he had great standing in science and insisted that CO2/ carbonic acid would cause warming of 4C for a doubling. Of course at that time he thought that warming was good to prevent the coming Iceage that was known to science of that age.

  45. E.M.Smith says:

    @Pascvaks & Ken McMurtrie & P.G. Sharrow:

    By the definition of “science” above, I think math fails that test. It has no empirical data or experimental data… BUT, that does not disparage it…

    For far too long folks have used “scientific” as a cudgel to batter other folks and belittle them. There is NOTHING wrong with something being an art instead of a science and there is NOTHING that says an art can not be just as rigorous. Economics is an art. (Lately some folks with pretensions have started making BS degrees in Econ as an attempt, IMHO, to ‘dress it up’ as a science. Since, at it’s core, it is about human wants and desires it can never be a ‘hard science’, only a human artifice…) and I’m fine with that.

    We hand out Ph.D as a PHILOSOPHY Doctorate in recognition of the fact that under the skin all the disciplines are really founded on the ART of philosophy. So, IMHO, so say that Math is a philosophical art is to raise it, not lower it… it is a pure exploration of the philosophy of thought…

    Now, the development of math may will be done ‘scientifically’ ;-)

    @Mark Miller:

    You need to divide Physics into theoretical and applied. It’s the theoretical folks (and especially those with a cosmological bent) who are most of the way around the bend (and have been since about 1960…).

    It’s all fantasy. Nice fantasy. Fantasy that all too infrequently has a tiny little connection to a bit of real world parallel. But fantasy all the same. Show me a ‘string’ (never mind the ‘superstrings’ ;-) or an alternative dimension…

    It’s basically an attempt to fit a logical fantasy to all the known data and then declare it real… until something new shows they were entirely wrong…

    IMHO, everything after the early / mid days of Quantum Mechanics has been pretty much a null …

  46. P.G. Sharrow says:

    I think that at one time it was all philosophy of one kind or another. We just have some people that want to claim that they follow a HARD real science instead of that soft fakey “basket weaving” philosophy stuff. :-)
    Now we have a “hard” science such as Climate Science insist that their Models are correct and real hard data is mistaken and must be adjusted to fit the model results. Those that “speak” in higher math in the physics science have the same problem and adjust the data interpretation to match the accepted model formulas, no mater how convoluted the explanation. Sounds like philosophy to me. 8-) pg

  47. kakatoa says:

    E. M. S. says- …” Since, at it’s core, it is about human wants and desires it can never be a ‘hard science’, only a human artifice…) and I’m fine with that. We hand out Ph.D as a PHILOSOPHY Doctorate in recognition of the fact that under the skin all the disciplines are really founded on the ART of philosophy. So, IMHO, so say that Math is a philosophical art is to raise it, not lower it… it is a pure exploration of the philosophy of thought… Now, the development of math may will be done ‘scientifically’ ;-)

    Thanks for that succinct statement and I concur. A wonderful summary of the ways things are in our ability to understand- maybe it’s gain an understanding- of the world we live in. Following the scientific method (as you explained in the post) is what makes the hard sciences hard (we can test out the theories to see if they are correct). I have been interested lately in the role of communication from a philosophical art perspective. I am not to interested in the limited and directed communications that focus on the marketing or sales side of things (which seems to be what many climate scientists and PAC’s have in common). I am interested in what conditions are needed to explore and expand our understanding of both nature (what I relate to as the hard sciences) and our (us social humans and the related soft sciences) roles in the process of communication philosophically speaking.

    35+ years ago during my undergraduate days I had a few interesting philosophy courses (1) Existentialism and 2) Social and Political Theory while trying to decide between a chemistry (BS) or economics (BA) major. I ended up with the BA by the way. I made my living using the BS course work, later a formal MS, applying the scientific method as you described in your post. I recently have been reviewing some Karl Jaspers thoughts on communication. So what did Jaspers think of scientific language-

    4.7 Scientific communication
    The Logical positivists believe that scientific language should be regarded as a model for communication. Philosophy and our everyday exchange should adopt it. Jaspers believes that this is not possible because science is very different from Philosophy and our everyday life.

    The ideal of clarity of science cannot be attained in life or philosophy. Many of the items we refer to are too impalpable, transparent, complex, or inaccessible to be clarified,55 e.g., we are aware of consciousness but we are unable to describe it clearly, similarly we are unable to define civil rights yet we favor them.

    Unlike science, universal validity is not possible in extra-scientific areas. Scientific truths can be proved and so become compelling for all. But philosophical truths are dependent on history, upon the culture or the situation in which they are born, e.g. some truths of Indian Philosophy are difficult for the West to grasp.

    In scientific research the scientist himself is irrelevant what he thinks is more important than what he is. This is not the case in philosophy. Here truth is the result of communication with the other and myself. Here the truth I live by is more important than the truth I merely think about. A scientist can cultivate dispassionate objectivity. This is not the case in life or philosophy.

    Philosophy provides man with truth he lives by, determines what he is going to become and offers a inner certainty in which a whole man’s whole being participates. Philosophical truths move us more deeply than any scientific knowledge.56

    Thus scientific communication is very different from philosophical communication and is totally unsuited for philosophy.”

    To me it seems like Jaspers would disapprove of way the IPCC is closing off external communication (review) on WG1 AR-5 (see- ) as “communication (philosophically speaking) is not possible among the members of a self-sufficient group”:

    4. Communication is not possible among the members of a self-sufficient group. These groups give security by providing common sympathies, beliefs and ways of behaving. They believe that they are already in the possession of truth, so the questioning of anything does not arise, e.g. Parsee community. Communication is possible only when a human being is deprived of this security like state, church, objective metaphysics, rational morality, and an ontological grasp of being. Thus communication is not possible between
    like-minded people belonging to the same group i.e. in the presence of any kind of a structure.

    Implicit trust or friendship is required. This friendship is not Aristotle’s “friendship of utility” or of “pleasure,” but his “friendship of goodness.” Trust will prevent from any calculating reserve or concealment. It will preclude the presence of can’t, hypocrisy, false modesty, envy, malice, ridicule, exhibitionism, condescension, depreciation and the like.”37 Unless there is trust, honesty will go by the boards.”

  48. @ Pascvacs
    “Funny how nothing is accepted as fact anymore. Everything is questioned.”

    This may be because there is such a prevalence of misinformation these days. (perhaps forever, but we now have real access to it). So much is not what it seems. Thus questioning is probably a sound practice.

    However in this case, we are in over-drive over the side issue of ‘mathematics’.
    Whether the particular data processing of temperature records is scientific or not, or to what degree, is a fair question. The definition of mathematics as a science, art, philosophy, whatever, is not directly related to the post theme. But it is interesting.

    Back to your point, often, in a blog commentary an issue is questioned relentlessly until the theme becomes almost lost.

    Why? I think that generally the sort of people that question ‘things’ have a healthy attitude, an inquiring mind, an attitude that results in E.M’s blog and responsible commentary.

    Yet, sometimes questioning becomes more of an obsession and is often unproductive.
    Whether excessive, unnecessary questioning is inherent in some people’s character, or whether it is a by-product of what we eat or drink, {or breathe?, perhaps too much CO2, hee-hee :-) }, is a good ‘question’.

    On the whole, there is so much injustice in the world, that questioning seems appropriate. A case of ‘more’ being probably better than ‘less’!

  49. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Krakatoa: As some “social media” has become almost an international political medium, so some Blogs are becoming the new Agora, as the Greek Agora, where real philosophy and a new and objective science is being and will be rediscovered and recognized.

  50. adolfogiurfa says:

    Ken McMurtrie : …Back to your point, often, in a blog commentary an issue is questioned relentlessly until the theme becomes almost lost.
    In Herman Hesse´s book “Magister Ludi” (Master of games) , “The Glass beads´ game”, Joseph Necht, the character of Magister Ludi, leads a discussion around a certain theme or issue (a “glass beads´game”), where, as in a symphony, all participants are called to intervene, in such a way as to raise the level of the intellectual intercourse, carefully following the wonderful Law of the Octave, the rule of musical development, where each player adds his/her idea, as an addition of energy, right there where the octave could evolve or involve, either to higher or lower pitches.
    This phenomenon is known as the “egregore”, where a real epic symphony takes form, enlightening the souls of the players, while generating such an outcome of energy which sometimes it becomes visible: “The taboric light”
    Also, nowadays, when gipsy singers and dancers gather, they reach a point, which they call “duende”(elf). This is not something esoteric or dreamlike experience; call it the gods´fire or visible plasma, whatsoever, it obeys the same law as a humble hydraulic ram pump, where those two “check valves” work to increase the pressure of the system.
    Now, it is up to each of us, if the “music” we play becomes a concert or an involving chaos. So, there is an elemental and basic rule to participate: Have some sense of music in order not to fall in cacophony. The conductor, too, has to have a better knowledge of it, so as to conduct properly the participants in order that each one of them, may receive its share of knowledge.

  51. tckev says:

    You may be interested to know that climatologist James Annan lost £100 bet on a prediction of climate change on a BBC radio program call “More or Less”. He lost to Dr. David Whitehouse and his story is here –

    If only more of these irrational types from CRU, NCDC, GISS ,and all the rest, would just make more wagers then the whole GW thing would go bankrupt.
    Wishful thinking – I know!

  52. @ adolfogiura
    I love your response. But as you say in your comment,
    “Now, it is up to each of us, if the “music” we play becomes a concert or an involving chaos. So, there is an elemental and basic rule to participate: Have some sense of music in order not to fall in cacophony. The conductor, too, has to have a better knowledge of it, so as to conduct properly the participants in order that each one of them, may receive its share of knowledge.”
    The input needs to be of quality, the musician of appropriate skill and the conductor also in control. Else – potential for chaos in lieu of concert.
    Best regards!

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