April 29, 2011

The Ever Growing Hypothesis Scam

Years ago I read something by Roger Pielke Sr which reinforced my skepticism towards the whole alarmist view of global warming. I can not find the exact quote now but it really does not matter since he makes the same basic point often as he did in a recent post regarding a new scientific paper about future cold spells in a warming world. The relevant point he made was this:
Models are hypotheses and need to be tested against real data. However, the climate models have not been shown skill at predicting how the statistics of cold waves change in response to human climate forcings during the 21st century. Indeed, there is no way to perform this test until those decades occur. (emphasis mine)
Models are hypotheses, does the climate science community treat models as hypotheses? Does the climate science community represent modeling output to the general public and policy makers as simply hypotheses? Any objective observer of the scientific debate could not possibly believe that as a practice the scientific community treats or portrays climate modeling as simply hypotheses,

In an interview several years ago Pielke explained:
"The problem is, if they give forecasts 50 years in the future, nobody can validate that right now. From that sense, it's not scientific. When I see peer reviewed papers that talk about 2050 or 2100, for me that's not science, that's just presenting a hypothesis, which is not testable. I don't even read those papers anymore. They need to have something that is testable"
Reading Dr. Pielke's blog over the past few years it is obvious he is reading those papers again and he still finds these types of model derived projections as nothing more than hypothesis.

What should be obvious as Dr Pielke points out is that not only are climate models just hypotheses, the output of the models is not really a scientific verifiable fact unless that output can be tested in the real world. This is not rocket science, this is common sense. The fact that so much supposed science is being conducted based on modelling hypothesis and being presented to the public and policy makers as if it was somehow scientific evidence, is dishonest.

It is also very telling that so few scientist in the field outside of the "realist" community ever point out that without validation the computer projections are not really scientific. How many papers and studies do we see in which some future dire event is based upon a climate model projection which as in the above example can not possibly be verified, they are treated as if they are science but in fact they are nothing more than hypothesis based upon hypothesis. These type of scientific studies are the basis for my CYBER WAG  (Computer generated Wild Ass Guess) posts. Yet the climate science community and the science community in general seem not in the least disturbed by this obvious misrepresentation of actual scientific methods. In fact rather than pointing out this deceptive practice, they seem to promote it.

Here are just a few examples of the technique:

Ken Cole of the U.S. Geological Survey and colleagues used models of future climate

Barry Rock, Professor of Natural Resources at the University of New Hampshire in Durham predicts that, based on two climate models in a New England regional climate assessment study, "Within the next 100 years, Boston could have a climate similar to either Richmond, Virginia, or Atlanta, Georgia." 

Using climate models, they determined that if carbon emissions remain high by 2050, the number of reliable crop growing days would fall below 90 for almost 1 million square kilometers of arid and semi-arid lands in Africa.

COAPS scientist Jianjun Yin, who led the research, analyzed ten climate models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and calculated a 90 percent likelihood that sea levels along the northeast will exceed global sea levels by the end of the century.

That this modelling hypothesis scam is not only unscientific but also part of a scheme perpetrated by some scientist to promote an agenda was made clear by Danial Botkin in an excellent article Science and Soothsayers.
"Since proving the validity of long-term forecasts is difficult and the ultimate tests would take years, and since many scientists are alarmed at the dire scenarios, my colleagues are beginning to talk about whether it is O.K. to exaggerate and push forecasts that are not currently provable if the only way to get societies to act is to frighten people. I think it is not O.K. It is a short-term view, and even if it works, it will inevitably debase science and scientists." 
Thank you Dr Botkin for your integrity. He is taking the most generous view of the scientist motives and I am sure that some scientist  indeed operate out of some misguided "greater good" motivation. However it is also obvious that many scientist ignore basic scientific principles for financial gain as in increased funding or have a political agenda. Regardless of the motive it is not science as Botkin makes clear;
The question is not really whether the forecasts are scientifically valid, but how much impetus they can provide to influence society.
The reliance on climate modelling while understandable in order to investigate something as complex as the Earth's climate has totally distorted the normal concept or at least the laypersons understanding of normal scientific principles. To be sure that my laypersons view of what scientific principles were, foggy as it may be,  I went to the good people from Wiki World to see if what I thought was true about what science Here is some of what I found

...To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.[2] The Oxford English Dictionary says that scientific method is: "a method of 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."[3]
.... Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena, and design experimental studies to test these hypotheses. These steps must be repeatable, to predict future results.. ....
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 thereliability of these data to be established.
That is precisely what my unsophisticated laypersons understanding of what science The fact that climate scientist have so much faith in their untested and as yet unverifiable models is disturbing in itself, the fact that they use these findings to promote various agendas and financial rewards for themselves is unconscionable. For the rest of the scientific community to then leech onto this hypothesis scam to gain funding for their own studies in their own fields of study is beyond disheartening, it is scientific corruption on a grand scale

Update: I meant to mention that if climate modelling output is not simply a hypothesis, what is it? Measurable evidence?

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