Example of Scientific Bias

When reading a paper by Richard Lindzen Climate Science: Is it currently designed to answer questions? I was struck by some comments towards the end by John P. Holdren, director of the Woods Hole Research Center about climate skeptics. He says:

First, they have not come up with any plausible alternative culprit for the disruption of global climate that is being observed, for example, a culprit other than the greenhouse-gas buildups in the atmosphere that have been measured and tied beyond doubt to human activities. (The argument that variations in the sun’s output might be responsible fails a number of elementary scientific tests.)


Second, having not succeeded in finding an alternative, they haven’t even tried to do what would be logically necessary if they had one, which is to explain how it can be that everything modern science tells us about the interactions of greenhouse gases with energy flow in the atmosphere is wrong.

As to the first point, most skeptics have been maintaining that similar Arctic conditions were experienced recently, that the current climate state is similar to the Medieval Warm Period, and possibly temperatures have exceeded the present throughout the recent geologically warm 10,000 years called the Holocene. These issues as far as I know are still unsettled. Holdren is criticizing skeptics for not coming up with an explanation for a non-disruption that has not been observed.

OTOH, the record of alarmists of loudly proclaimed ‘disruptions’ that have subsequently been discredited provides numerous examples of scientific bias: that the climate system is ‘more sensitive than we thought‘, that the intensity of hurricanes and others storms are increasing, that droughts and floods are increasing, that the Walker circulation is weakening, a miserable record predicting Arctic ice extent, to name a few.

On his second point, skeptics have also “consistently affirmed modern science and interactions of greenhouse gases with energy flow in the atmosphere” by finding that the rate of underlying warming that can be attributed to increases in CO2 is consistent with the direct radiative effect of CO2, a paltry 0.05C/decade. The graph below lists some of the authors that have arrived at the same basic rate of warming through completely independent means (there are others as well such as Miskolczi and Nir Shaviv).

spencer_fig1_models-reality1

These sources of observational evidence suggest that the amount of warming will be 0.5C by 2100, not nothing, but not catastrophic and certainly well below the IPCC projections, produced by a chorus of climate simulations sharing many common aspects. The difference is due to the warming attributed to speculative and as yet unconfirmed positive feedbacks. Holdren tells us that:

the extent of unfounded skepticism about the disruption of global climate by human-produced greenhouse gases is not just regrettable, it is dangerous.

One of the main reasons for persistent skepticism is that people look at the evidence and find it wanting, they look at the AGW proponents and find misrepresentation of the alternative arguments, and they look at the emotional appeals and see bias. When people of science like RealClimate start worrying that their lack of results is due to being ‘unlikable’ and ‘poor communicators’, its my experience that the real problem is the use of subjective vehicles to back up inconclusive science. Skepticism is healthy, and the way for AGW proponents to further their work is through greater openness and objectivity, not stronger emotional appeals.

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0 thoughts on “Example of Scientific Bias

  1. John P Holdren has moved on to bigger and better things. He is Obama’s “Science Czar”, or more accurately, the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

    For example, it is John Holdren who jointly with the NOAA administrator that wrote the cover letter issuing the report “Climate Change Impacts in the United States”.

    More simply, John Holdren is the guy that has Obama’s ear on science policy.

    A couple of gems from Wikipedia “In 1973 Holdren encouraged a decline in fertility to well below replacement in the United States, because “210 million now is too many and 280 million in 2040 is likely to be much too many.”[18] In 1977, Paul R. Ehrlich, Anne H. Ehrlich, and Holdren co-authored the textbook Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment; they discussed the possible role of a wide variety of solutions to overpopulation, from voluntary family planning to enforced population controls,including forced sterilization for women after they gave birth to a designated number of children, and recommended “the use of milder methods of influencing family size preferences” such as access to birth control and abortion.”

    He told the US Senate during his confirmation hearing that those are no longer his beliefs.

  2. John P Holdren has moved on to bigger and better things. He is Obama's “Science Czar”, or more accurately, the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.For example, it is John Holdren who jointly with the NOAA administrator that wrote the cover letter issuing the report “Climate Change Impacts in the United States”.More simply, John Holdren is the guy that has Obama's ear on science policy. A couple of gems from Wikipedia “In 1973 Holdren encouraged a decline in fertility to well below replacement in the United States, because “210 million now is too many and 280 million in 2040 is likely to be much too many.”[18] In 1977, Paul R. Ehrlich, Anne H. Ehrlich, and Holdren co-authored the textbook Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment; they discussed the possible role of a wide variety of solutions to overpopulation, from voluntary family planning to enforced population controls,including forced sterilization for women after they gave birth to a designated number of children, and recommended “the use of milder methods of influencing family size preferences” such as access to birth control and abortion.”He told the US Senate during his confirmation hearing that those are no longer his beliefs.

  3. “the disruption of global climate that is being observed”

    Okay, he’s not off to a good start with using loaded words. John, how did you get that language through customs with so much baggage? I mean, really, what is “disruption” anyway? I must be the unstated assumption that the current climate is good and any change bad…

    “Second, having not succeeded in finding an alternative, they haven’t even tried to do what would be logically necessary if they had one, which is to explain how it can be that everything modern science tells us about the interactions of greenhouse gases with energy flow in the atmosphere is wrong.”

    Ah, the fallacy of the false dilemma! There can be only one cause of the climate “disruption” and it must be GHG’s because not only can we not think of anything else, this explanation makes sense to us on physical grounds and, again, there is no possibility of more than one cause. Of course.

    “The argument that variations in the sun’s output might be responsible fails a number of elementary scientific tests.”

    No evidence is given for this, the “elementary tests” are not described, and the “argument” is misrepresented. Of course it can’t be solar output, brightness varies very little-BUT that’s not the only influence it might have! And again, it’s all or nothing. If the sun isn’t responsible for everything, it isn’t responsible for anything, or at least not enough that we would care. And even if it isn’t there is still “disruption” by people! We have to do something!!!

    Jeez, the man is so riddled with fallacies I wonder how he can function at all.

  4. “the disruption of global climate that is being observed”Okay, he's not off to a good start with using loaded words. John, how did you get that language through customs with so much baggage? I mean, really, what is “disruption” anyway? I must be the unstated assumption that the current climate is good and any change bad…”Second, having not succeeded in finding an alternative, they haven’t even tried to do what would be logically necessary if they had one, which is to explain how it can be that everything modern science tells us about the interactions of greenhouse gases with energy flow in the atmosphere is wrong.”Ah, the fallacy of the false dilemma! There can be only one cause of the climate “disruption” and it must be GHG's because not only can we not think of anything else, this explanation makes sense to us on physical grounds and, again, there is no possibility of more than one cause. Of course.”The argument that variations in the sun’s output might be responsible fails a number of elementary scientific tests.”No evidence is given for this, the “elementary tests” are not described, and the “argument” is misrepresented. Of course it can't be solar output, brightness varies very little-BUT that's not the only influence it might have! And again, it's all or nothing. If the sun isn't responsible for everything, it isn't responsible for anything, or at least not enough that we would care. And even if it isn't there is still “disruption” by people! We have to do something!!!Jeez, the man is so riddled with fallacies I wonder how he can function at all.

  5. An expose on John Holdren’s book, “Ecoscience.”
    http://zombietime.com/john_holdren/

    “• Women could be forced to abort their pregnancies, whether they wanted to or not;
    • The population at large could be sterilized by infertility drugs intentionally put into the nation’s drinking water or in food;
    • Single mothers and teen mothers should have their babies seized from them against their will and given away to other couples to raise;
    • People who “contribute to social deterioration” (i.e. undesirables) “can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility” — in other words, be compelled to have abortions or be sterilized.
    • A transnational “Planetary Regime” should assume control of the global economy and also dictate the most intimate details of Americans’ lives — using an armed international police force.”

  6. An expose on John Holdren's book, “Ecoscience.”http://zombietime.com/john_holdren/“• Women could be forced to abort their pregnancies, whether they wanted to or not; • The population at large could be sterilized by infertility drugs intentionally put into the nation's drinking water or in food; • Single mothers and teen mothers should have their babies seized from them against their will and given away to other couples to raise; • People who “contribute to social deterioration” (i.e. undesirables) “can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility” — in other words, be compelled to have abortions or be sterilized. • A transnational “Planetary Regime” should assume control of the global economy and also dictate the most intimate details of Americans' lives — using an armed international police force.”

  7. Holdren is a dangerous guy with a track record;

    http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/19/flawed-science-advice-for-obama/

    He is a Malthusian which is one of the dumbest philosophical positions one can take about humans because it only looks at natural limitations; the history of humanity is a history of circumventing natural limitations by technology; it is that technology which has enabled nature to be kept at bay and for the relative prosperity of the last century to be achieved. By disavowing that technology in a way which goes far beyond any sword of damocles moderation of technological application it is fairly clear that Holdren is a misanthrope who thinks he is better than other people.

  8. Holdren is a dangerous guy with a track record;http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/19/…He is a Malthusian which is one of the dumbest philosophical positions one can take about humans because it only looks at natural limitations; the history of humanity is a history of circumventing natural limitations by technology; it is that technology which has enabled nature to be kept at bay and for the relative prosperity of the last century to be achieved. By disavowing that technology in a way which goes far beyond any sword of damocles moderation of technological application it is fairly clear that Holdren is a misanthrope who thinks he is better than other people.

  9. This is superb, the best concise articulation for skepticism I’ve seen:

    “One of the main reasons for persistent skepticism is that people look at the evidence and find it wanting, they look at the AGW proponents and find misrepresentation of the alternative arguments, and they look at the emotional appeals and see bias. When people of science like RealClimate start worrying that their lack of results is due to being ‘unlikable’ and ‘poor communicators’, its my experience that the real problem is the use of subjective vehicles to back up inconclusive science. Skepticism is healthy, and the way for AGW proponents to further their work is through greater openness and objectivity, not stronger emotional appeals.”

  10. This is superb, the best concise articulation for skepticism I've seen:”One of the main reasons for persistent skepticism is that people look at the evidence and find it wanting, they look at the AGW proponents and find misrepresentation of the alternative arguments, and they look at the emotional appeals and see bias. When people of science like RealClimate start worrying that their lack of results is due to being ‘unlikable’ and ‘poor communicators’, its my experience that the real problem is the use of subjective vehicles to back up inconclusive science. Skepticism is healthy, and the way for AGW proponents to further their work is through greater openness and objectivity, not stronger emotional appeals.”

  11. Having an alternate theory is not a requirement for discrediting a theory. Someone probably wrote that down in a scientific rulebook at one point.

    • Thank you Green Man. I have “discussed” a number of people into letting go of their failed theories only to have them recant when I wasn’t willing to offer them another idol to worship (or one they ideologically couldn’t accept!!)

      I still wonder how a mind works that would prefer to believe in a discredited theory rather than letting go of it so it isn’t getting in the way of gathering obervations to form a new theory!!

  12. Having an alternate theory is not a requirement for discrediting a theory. Someone probably wrote that down in a scientific rulebook at one point.

  13. Thank you Green Man. I have “discussed” a number of people into letting go of their failed theories only to have them recant when I wasn't willing to offer them another idol to worship (or one they ideologically couldn't accept!!)I still wonder how a mind works that would prefer to believe in a discredited theory rather than letting go of it so it isn't getting in the way of gathering obervations to form a new theory!!

  14. Having an alternate theory is not a requirement for discrediting a theory. Someone probably wrote that down in a scientific rulebook at one point.

  15. Thank you Green Man. I have “discussed” a number of people into letting go of their failed theories only to have them recant when I wasn't willing to offer them another idol to worship (or one they ideologically couldn't accept!!)I still wonder how a mind works that would prefer to believe in a discredited theory rather than letting go of it so it isn't getting in the way of gathering obervations to form a new theory!!

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