We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Elizabeth Warren is no more able to verify a climate scientist is accurately interpreting data than an illiterate farmer could tell if a bishop was faithfully reading the words of the bible. As for the message, a climate scientist is equally likely to spout self-serving guff as any high priest that’s walked this Earth, safe in the knowledge the average worshipper has no way of challenging them and in any case wouldn’t dare

Tim Newman

22 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Meh. Between Miss Warren and the hypothetical illiterate farmer I would be on the farmer having the better clue as to what is going on since he probably heard enough different clerics to be able to judge when the bishop is saying something different from what all the other clerics have said and be able to weigh relative trustworthiness. 😛

  • RRS

    But then there are “climate atheists – no?”

  • RRS

    On E.W:

    Let us (here in the U S)hope she continues to spew and that all that is recorded to be spewed back when she attempts further prominence.

  • rxc

    Senator Warren believes that “Science” includes political science, economic science, social science, computer science, climate science, behavioral science, and other “disciplines” that include the word science in their descriptor. Unfortunately, the only real sciences do not include the word – physics and chemistry. Engineering (my discipline) is NOT a science. Medicine is NOT a science. Biology is NOT a science. They use scientific findings and principles to inform their practices.

    Science is all about making hypotheses that can be tested by the performance of real experiments or observations (not done using computer models) that can be measured and reproduced independently to provide results that refute the hypotheses. The results and methods are fully described and presented for criticism by peers. If the issue is “settled”, it does not involve science.

  • Mr Ed

    Science is all about making hypotheses that can be tested by the performance of real experiments or observations (not done using computer models) that can be measured and reproduced independently to provide results that refute the hypotheses.

    And biochemists and molecular geneticists can and do do just that. They really have little in commom with the stamp collectors watching male bunnies bite off competitors’ genitals.

  • Alisa

    Engineering (my discipline) is NOT a science.

    Can’t be stressed often enough. People like Warren are essentially social engineers in constant search for a project, which makes the particular religion to which they subscribe less important than it may seem at first.

  • bobby b

    “They really have little in common with the stamp collectors watching male bunnies bite off competitors’ genitals.”

    Y’all have weird hobbies over there.

  • William Newman

    “Biology is NOT a science.”

    “Science is all about making hypotheses that can be tested by the performance of real experiments or observations (not done using computer models) that can be measured and reproduced independently to provide results that refute the hypotheses.”

    rxc, once upon a time people didn’t realize that the heart pumps blood in a cycle into arteries and back through veins, or that vermin generally have vermin mommies and vermin daddies (as opposed to spontaneous generation of maggots in rotting meat and so forth), or that infectious diseases are generally caused by microorganisms, or that there are dominant and recessive genes, or that shortage of vitamin C causes scurvy, or that the human perception of increasingly desperate need to breathe is driven basically by high CO2 level in the blood rather than low O2 level in the blood (which levels do tend to be correlated strongly, but the correlation can break down, which is noteworthy because shortage of O2 is generally the more urgent problem), or that many important biochemicals are enantiomers (“optical isomers”) for which only one handedness is used (by any organism on Earth). Do you think that terms like “hypotheses” and “real experiments” and “measured and reproduced independently” don’t apply to the history of those ideas, or do you think that those ideas are wrong, or that those ideas are not biology, or what?

  • Paul Marks

    Senator Warren does the “earnest look” well – look into the camera with a serious and concerned expression and speak in a measured way – more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger. Everything Senator Warren says, on all subjects, is total nonsense – but she plays the game well. Elisabeth Warren manipulated her ex husband into supporting her early career, and played on a (fake) “Native American Ancestry” to advance her academic career – it must remembered that the old academia of poor scholars doing what they do for the love of study is long dead, academia is a MONEY MAKING SCAM now, academics in places such as Harvard are now paid telephone number salaries.

    I think Alisa is right that Senator Warren sees people as toys for a “social engineering” project (very Francis Bacon or Jeremy Bentham) – but I think Alisa would agree that the money and comfortable life style that being a leftist brings also motivates Senator Warren. Take someone who knows vastly more about political philosophy than academics such as Senator Warren and can (or at least could when young) lecture far better than they can (someone like my modest self – ME, ME, ME). What is the chance that I be would given an academic position of note? Zero – there is no chance at all because-I-am-not-a-leftist, they even cheated me of my doctorate and did not even pretend they were not cheating me (it was done blatantly and out in the open – without any pretence by the academics of presenting evidence or argument against my position). So the Elizabeth Warren route (become a leftist) is not just power-lust (although the lady does want to treat human beings as little toys) – it is also a good career move. This world is ruled by the left – so if you want a prosperous and happy life, become a leftist.

    As for this specific issue……

    Well the left (the media and so on) are saying that the freezing temperatures in the United States are not relevant as “weather is not climate” (odd that they never say that when the weather is hot), so people who are freezing to death are still being told they should pay more for electoral power (although, as in Britain, the left will blame the higher prices not on their “green” measures, but on “greedy big business”).

    As I am fond of pointing out – James Lovelock (the “Gaia Man”) freely admitted that the only way to really reduce CO2 emissions was by a massive expansion of nuclear power. Is Senator Warren working hard to deregulate nuclear power (the regulations do not improve safety, they undermine safety by over prescription and the stifling of innovation, but they do massively increase costs) – no Senator Warren is not working hard (or at all) to deregulate nuclear power. The anti “Global Warming” stance is just a POSE – covering lust for power, and lust for personal enrichment at the expense of the public. Part conwoman, part would-be tyrant who longs for the public (other humans beings) to be reduced to the level of little toys for her to control.

    But, as I said, covered by an earnest look and earnest tone of voice.


  • CaptDMO

    “But then there are “climate atheists – no?”
    We prefer to self-identify as Climate Heathen please.

  • Regional

    bobby b,
    What’s weird about chasing seagulls around the beach wearing a helicopter cap?

  • Stonyground

    I often wonder what future historians will make of climate change hysteria. I would like to think that those of us who realised quite early that the whole thing was nonsense will be remembered.

    I think that the book by Charles McKay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds, published in 1852, shows that little has changed since then. The back cover states that “whenever struck by campaigns, fads, cults and fashions, the reader may take some comfort that Charles Mackay can demonstrate historical parallels for almost every neurosis of our times.

  • rxc

    I was waiting for someone to complain about my characterization of biology as not a science, and I have some sympathy with that argument. There has been a lot of good scientific research in biology, and it has been very useful for medicine and public health. I think of the doctors as one type of biological engineers, who use the “science” to try to figure out what is wrong with us and fix it.

    But the field is so vast and complicated that it is very difficult to perform reproduceable experiments on entire organisms and predict the results. You can give the organism a dose of something, or take it away, one day, and it responds in one way, but it you do the same experiment with the same organism another day, it responds differently. Some of the fundamental principles are known well (chemical composition of many biological substances, down to the DNA), but we have a very limited understanding of how the parts work together. Note that I say limited knowledge – we have advanced quite a bit from the days of blood-letting and burning virgins to make the plague go away, and this is good.

    But an awful lot of the medical advice that we get these days is based on epistimelogical studies that only provide statistical results – they cannot demonstrate that if any particular individual changes his/her diet in a particular way, or does a certain amount of exercise, he/she will live longer than he/she would otherwise live. There is no acknowledgement that organisms from the same species often respond differently to outside stimulae, and it is very difficult to actually predict how any one organism will respond to any particular stimulus. This may reflect more of a problem with the communication of the results of builogical research. But I do seem to remember a recent report that a significant number of results from biological research could not be replicated. This is very worrying.

    There are ethical issues associated with experimenting on people, so we do a lot of extrapolating from other species to humans, which can be fraught with uncertainty.

    Don’t take these comments to imply that I don’t support biological research – I am amazed at how we have cleaned up public water supplies and the air that we breathe, have developed vaccines against all sorts of diseases, and have lots of wonderful technology and knowledge to treat illnesses. It is great, and it should continue. I just don’t think that the biologists have the same level of knowledge of the subject matter as, say, the physicists do, and therefore it is premature to label it a “science” – maybe some day, but not quite yet.

    Just don’t get me started on the psychological or social “sciences”…

  • Mr Ed


    Resisting the temptation to shoot at your statements down where you have been vague, I would agree that medicine is essentially bio-engineering crossed with active management of what are often self-healing organisms. The essential consideration with any medical claims is ‘What is the mechanism?‘. If there is a claim and no mechanism, it is at most a starting point. Far too much ‘science’ is simply sifting data without even thinking of a mechanism.

    If you think that biochemistry and molecular genetics are not ‘science’, you have a lot to learn. Try some enzyme kinetics.

  • JadedLibertarian

    Just don’t get me started on the psychological or social “sciences”…

    I won’t profess to know your job if you don’t profess to know mine.

    I’m a cognitive psychologist. I teach “proper” scientists how to conduct research for a living, including those from medical and biological fields.

    While they are indeed very clever, their training is almost all on mechanisms and no one has shown them how to design an experiment or formulate a hypothesis. Psychologists (cognitive ones at least) receive a great deal of training in this however, so they ask me to teach them.

    The biologists are the absolute worst group I work with. Their grasp of statistics is often non existent and in particular they have no concept of statistical power. A lot of them never come back to see me after the first visit because I say things they don’t want to hear like “you probably need a sample size of at least 40 to answer this question effectively”, to which they reply “my plate has 6 wells so I was going to do a sample of 6”.

    They will often try and use tiny sample sizes and graphs to answer questions large sample sizes and inferential statistics are really needed for.

    There’s a kind of myopia that very clever people suffer from. I make a living out of not being clever. “Explain your project as you would to a child” I say to them. If they can’t, usually it means they don’t understand it themselves. This should apply to climate scientists as much as anyone. While there is some science that is indeed very complex, the vast majority of published literature is methodologically fairly simple so conveying the broad strokes shouldn’t be hard. If they can’t or won’t do so, the simplest explanation is that they don’t understand it themselves.

    A lot of times people think they’re doing research when in fact it’s more like they were interested in X so collected a shit load of data on X with no clear idea of what they were going to do with it.

  • Brian Swisher

    Well, Jaded, you’ve certainly cleared up some things that puzzled me about biological studies. I recall reading years ago about a study on environmental pollutants in human breast milk in the US. Their sample size was 100 individuals – two from each state. My reaction was, “Who on Earth could take this seriously?” Too many, it would seem.

  • Mr Ed

    Their sample size was 100 individuals – two from each state. My reaction was, “Who on Earth could take this seriously?” Too many, it would seem.

    It’s called the Senate. 😀 Elizabeth Warren sits there.

  • Thailover

    Six things;

    1. The fact that reputable scientists are being blackballed, careers ruined and all manner of harassment and ostrisization for those who practice normal scientific skepticism, i.e. ‘don’t marry your theory’, is telling enough.

    2. Climate models made decades ago have already been refuted by modern facts of reality. We’ve failed to burn up in a hell hole and millions of people living at sea level HAVE NOT been displaced by rising oceans. What was it that Al Gore said in his fictional movie? Oh yeah, 20 FUCKING FEET in a century. What a joke.

    3. The planet has been much warmer in the past, and co2 levels have been anywhere from 16 to 25 times modern rates, and the planet is fine. Our “GREEN” planet loves co2 and is now becoming greener on net.

    4. I personally worked in climate/weather data collection for 8 years in the Marshall Islands. I also launched and collected data from literally thousands of weather balloons when I wasn’t involved in missile defense missions, which was most of the time. I processed the data, packaged it and FTPed it to the National Climatatic Data Center to include in their models. They were looking for a “hot spot” in the upper troposphere in “the tropics”. It isn’t there, never has been.

    They FAILED to include my 8yrs worth of perfectly good data into their models.
    Why? Because the fix is in and they’re full of shit.

    5. The theory is that oceans regulate the co2 cycle. That is, atmospheric co2 is regulated by the earth’s oceans. BUT, there’s a problem with the “help, help, we’re all gonna die” version of things. The problem is that WARMING WATER RETAINS LESS DISOLVED GASSES, not more. That means for the oceans to regulate the co2 cycle, and if co2 prevalence is a cause of warming, not merely a correlation factor, then higher levels of atmospheric co2 would LEAD not LAG the earth’s temps. You see, the warming oceans, which can lag atmospheric warming by centuries, would retain less gasses, not more.
    What’s worse is that Al Gore’s comedy showed this as well in his giant graphs behind him. When overlaid, they show that temps lead co2 levels in the atmosphere, not the other way around.

    6. That most of the atmospheric “greenhouse gas” warming is by water vapor, not co2. This is basic in every meteorology class. Yet no one cares about water vapor. It’s easier I suppose to pretend that co2 is a poison rather than the most important factor for green plant growth other than the presence of water.

  • Thailover

    “Climate atheists”.

    Leftism is a pseudo-religion and “Global Warming” is their eschatology.

  • bobby b

    Global Warming is yet another broken promise.

    (This is my Self-Pity link. Look between “Minneapolis” and “International Falls” to see me this week. Temps are in Fahrenheit.)

    Happy New Year!

  • The biologists are the absolute worst group I work with. Their grasp of statistics is often non existent … ” (JadedLibertarian, December 30, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    That is my experience too. While at Oxford, I helped a biologist I knew verify his (very creditable) common sense doubts about the very basic statistics in some papers published by supposedly high-powered people in the field – and supposedly peer-reviewed too. There are occasional exceptions: while I have less than no use for the scientific understanding of Dawkins when he get gets off his subject onto the early universe, etc., I recall he had the sense to hire a statistician to his biology research group (I had some overlap), and I first encountered this idea – that biologists are poor at stats – in a book by John Maynard Smith, where he praises Fisher for being that most unusual kind of biologist, one with natural statistical understanding, and admits that most are quite the reverse.

    “Just don’t get me started on the psychological or social “sciences”…”

    Many enter that field in the hope that they will be helped to understand their own – sometimes very evident – issues. It often does not work. (As well as seeing a little of this from my own observations, I was told it by someone in the field in the 80s, and told it again by another expert in the field whom I met over Christmas.)

  • Snorri Godhi


    the field is so vast and complicated that it is very difficult to perform reproduceable experiments on entire organisms and predict the results.

    “The field” being biology, of course.
    There are at least 2 ways to reply to this comment, one polite and one sarcastic.
    I’ll start with the sarcasm, you can skip the rest of this paragraph if you like, or read it later. To say that biology is not a science because one cannot perform reproduceable experiments on entire organisms, is like saying that physics is not a science because it cannot predict the climate 20 years from now. The climate is determined by physical factors (except that whatever effect carbon emissions might or might not have, depends on human decisions about use of fossil fuels), and if you demand that biologists predict the behavior of complex biological systems, then you should also demand that physicists predict the behavior of complex physical systems.

    Now for the polite answer: most experimental biologists i have met (and i met a lot, including myself in a former life) do not have the slightest interest in experimenting on entire organisms. Lots of them are not even interested in understanding entire organs: they are quite happy with understanding cells, or even biochemical processes within cells. Bringing it all together in a model that predicts the behavior of cells, organs, or even organisms, is considered as little better than idle philosophical speculation by some biologists (especially in North American universities, in my experience); so i find it deeply ironic that climate “scientists” demand that we take their models seriously.

    For an outstanding example of how it is sometimes possible to bring together subcellular processes to predict the behavior of an entire cell, quantitatively (with differential equations for good measure), see the work of Hodgkin+Huxley, 1952. Just found this web page for you, not sure if it can be helpful.