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]

Are we watching ignorant armies clash by (saturday and) night?

When the Tea Partiers were called ignorant racist deplorables back in Obama’s day, they knew it was not true, even if some of them could not well articulate that knowledge in the face of “I’m with the media, screw you” PC questioning. They knew they left demo sites cleaner than when they arrived. They knew that illegal immigration was, well, illegal. They knew that, if they liked their doctor, they’d not been able to keep their doctor. And they knew that the statist solutions Obama loved have a very poor record (see e.g. Socialism, Experience of).

When the Brexitters were called islamophobic little-englanders ignorant of basic economics in the modern age, they had very good reason to think it was not true, even if some of them could not well articulate that knowledge in the face of a “we know best” media and establishment. They knew the UK economy had functioned outside the EU well within living memory. They knew their distaste at Rotherham was not a mere phobia. They could see many predictions of Project Fear were so wild as to discredit it. And they knew that taking back control was itself a benefit (see e.g. Liberty, Value of).

Now we have the yellow vests (Gilets Jaunes) in France. They have a lot of grievances, but the spark that lit their explosion was Macron’s eco-tax, to save the planet from Anthropogenic Global Warming.

Now, I know AGW is pseudo-science.

– I’m confident we’ll do OK after Brexit, but I know the notorious hockey stick was made when ‘scientists’ – deceitful, but also too ignorant of statistics to understand what they were doing – fitted their data like a policeman fitting-up a suspect (take the recalcitrant dataset into a dark room with some statistical tools; when you emerge, the dataset is moaning, “OK, OK, I confirm the hypothesis – just don’t separate my principal components again and I’ll say anything!!!”).

– I suspect the Brexit-day Calais traffic jam may be hardly worse than the jam the yellow-vests caused at the French-Italian border, but I know those scientists saw the post-fit line dipping back down to the pre-fit level (like an intimidated witness trying to drop a hint), yet refused even to think about what it was trying to tell them and instead (in the sole manipulation where they understood exactly what they were doing) scaled the graph to hide the decline.

What I don’t know is whether the Gilets Jaunes know this. I have bits of paper from known-name universities and later employments that credential me to talk about statistics, science, etc. The Gilets Jaunes don’t, so I can believe they are not well able to articulate it when faced with the arrogance of “we’re the experts”. However, they may have noticed how often we’ve passed some deadline to save the planet. They may sense that Macron is just another intellectual-without-intellect whose belief in AGW is clueless and self-serving. The Gilets Jaunes resentment that the price of saving the planet is always paid by them, never their ‘betters’, may lead them to ask why the oh-so-articulate eco-warriors don’t act like they believe it.

So, as regards global warming, I’m ready to credit the Gilets Jaunes with having a better ratio of sense to selfishness than the eco-EUrocrats. I’m just amused by the fact that the very issue where I myself can most claim to know, not merely think, that a particular group of populists is right, is also the very issue where I have the weakest evidence of that group themselves knowing or caring that they are not merely fighting their corner but are also correct about the issue.

44 comments to Are we watching ignorant armies clash by (saturday and) night?

  • This tax is just the latest. Macron runs the place for globalists, by globalists, and the French people are barely surviving. The French government is like the U.S. military occupying some Iraqi town. They’ve pushed the locals too far.

  • pete

    I’d be more inclined to accept the need for urgency regarding climate change if any eco-apocalyptic people took action to do something about it apart from telling others to do something about it.

    All the greens I’ve known over the years, some since university decades ago, have been middle class and have always lived a typical middle class lifestyle like anyone else of their income level.

    They’ve shown no restraint whatsoever regarding their CO2 footprints, and their affluence has meant the usual number of larger than average homes, cars, cars for teenage children, long haul holidays, weekend breaks in Europe etc.

  • Revelation

    The frogs are being squeezed to death to pay taxes to fund a growing underclass of scum that hate them, and will in time try to exterminate them.

    I for one cant imagine why they’re pissed off…

  • terence patrick hewett

    It was Christmas Day in the workhouse
    The snow white walls were black
    Along came the Workhouse Master
    With his suit cut out of a sack.

    In came the Christmas pudding
    When a voice that shattered glass
    Said: “We don’t want your Christmas pudding
    You can stick it with the rest of the unwanted presents”

    The workhouse master then arose
    And prepared to carve the duck
    He said: “Who wants the parson’s nose?”
    And the prisoners shouted: “You have it yourself sir.”

    The vicar brought his bible
    And read out little bits
    Said one old crone at the back of the hall
    “This man gets on very well with everybody”

    The workhouse mistress then began
    To hand out Christmas parcels
    The paupers tore the wrappers off
    And began to wipe their eyes; which were full of tears.

    The master rose to make a speech
    But just before he started
    The mistress, who was fifteen stone,
    Gave three loud cheers and nearly choked herself

    And all the paupers then began
    To pull their Christmas crackers
    One pauper held his too low down
    And blew off both his paper hat; and the man’s next to him.

    A steaming bowl of white bread sauce
    Was handed round to some
    An aged gourmet called aloud
    “This bread sauce tastes like it was made by a continental chef”

    Mince pie with custard was the next
    And each received a bit
    One pauper said: “This mince pie’s nice
    “But the custard tastes like the bread sauce we had in the last verse!”

    The mistress dishing out the food
    Dropped custard down her front
    She cried: “Aren’t I a silly girl?”
    And the inmates answered: “You’re a perfect picture as always Ma’am!”

    “This pudding,” said the master
    “Is solid, hard and thick
    “How am I going to cut it?”
    And a man cried: “Use your penknife sir; the one with the pearl handle”

    The mistress asked the vicar
    To entertain his flock
    He said: “What would you like to see?”
    And they cried: “Let’s see your conjuring tricks, they’re always worth watching”.

    “Your reverence may I be excused?”
    Said one benign old chap
    “I don’t like conjuring tricks
    “I’d sooner have a carol or two around the fire”

    So then they all began to sing
    Which shook the workhouse walls.
    “Merry Christmas!” cried the Master
    And the inmates shouted: “Best of luck to you as well sir!”

  • Stonyground

    The Climate Change alarmists have been making doom laden predictions for thirty years now, non of them have come true to my knowledge and in some cases the opposite to their predictions happened. Sound science is very good at making predictions. Sound science still gets predictions wrong from time to time but when it does it modifies or abandons its hypothesis.

    First week in December and I’m scraping ice off my car in the morning. I’m sixty and the climate hasn’t changed much in my lifetime.

  • Runcie Balspune

    The problem I have with global warming advocates is not their science; it is sound, it is (academically) settled, it may even be as accurate as they claim.

    The problem is the science stops at the “warming today” part, when it veers into “what will happen” then it goes off into hypothesis territory, whilst many are happy to stand against the wall when the pendulum is released, ask them to bet their lives on the Standard Model being accurate and final in ten years, and I doubt many will take up that offer.

    Where the science goes completely off the rails is the “what shall we do about it” part. All models either conclude “if we go on as we are” or tie emissions to some abstract value such as world GDP, yet in the entire history of the world we have never ever gone on “as we are” and abstract values are just that, abstract.

    This is where the “settled science” starts becoming political, it is used to control behavior and affect economy, and this is where many people start to see this distinction and become aggravated when it is told to be the gospel truth we are all going to hell if we don’t change our ways, and it causes further anger when the high priests seem to think the message does not apply to them personally.

    It is not that the Gilets Jaunes understand the science, but they can see a scam happening as much as the next man.

  • terence patrick hewett

    And the inmates shouted balls.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Oh Amazon Amazon
    The Krauts think it’s a Brabazon
    The tit of Brussels thinks he can
    O what a sight to see

    Oh Amazon Amazon
    EU may think it canazen
    I think it might be also ran
    I think it’s down the panezan

  • terence patrick hewett

    Euroitic!
    Euroitic!
    I’d rather be syphilitic
    Nationistic nihilistic
    Icoconoclastic gitic
    You can see it in their eyes.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Phoenix Park!
    Phoenix Park!
    Does it not have the relevance,
    Of the old Aardvark,
    Notastuffnotastuffnotastuffnotastuffwecannevernernernevernevernevergetenough,
    But don’t think soever that Dublin can’t share,
    Of Reading Gaol and Merrion Square.

    Will the Brexit turn Irexit,
    Ian Dury cannot tell,
    But Ian Dury led to fury,
    The toll asked not the bell.

    Will the Brexit turn Irexit,
    You’d best ask Dr Fell,
    Ev’ry side will try to sexit,
    And we can go to hell.

    Accompanied by the Bodhrán and the Lambeg.

  • CharlieL

    Oh, the Gilets Jaunes may not be able to articulate it, but they know when they are being screwed, and by who. They are a large mass of disparate people, and just as a bookie’s odds are more accurate than polls (being drawn as they are from people with skin in the game), their feelings reflect reality.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Now, I know AGW is pseudo-science.

    I’m curious how many primary sources you’ve read on the topic. You have read some of the direct literature on this I trust?

    Also, I’d like your explanation of why the Earth doesn’t have dramatically colder temperature (as the steady state effect of solar radiation at this distance on a black body would normally indicate) if it isn’t because of a greenhouse effect, and why you believe that it’s not possible for a change in atmospheric gas composition (as has surely happened, it’s been directly measured) to alter average surface temperature?

    (BTW, none of this means the state is the proper cure for AGW any more than the reality of cancer means the NHS is the right way to fix it. But I’m always curious about the people who are climate skeptics, and whether they have read the literature, and understand it well enough to explain it and why they disagree with it. I know a couple of people capable of that, btw — they’re all polymath physicists. I tend to disagree with their conclusions, but as they’re capable of articulating a reasonable position I can respect them. Myself, my reading of the literature leads me to believe it’s largely right, though my conclusion is generally different from that of the mainstream.)

  • llamas

    With apologies to Jonny Mercer.

    Riotin’ round the Quai d’Orsay
    At the Christmas party hop
    Yellow vests so you can see
    Just who is throwing rocks
    Teargas along the boulevards
    Let the baton rounds begin
    Later we’ll build a barricade
    And we’ll do some firebombing

    You will get a sentimental feeling when you hear
    Voices singing, let’s be jolly
    Tax the rich, give us the lolly
    Rockin’ around the Christmas tree
    Have a happy holiday
    Gendarmes beating passers-by
    In the new old-fashioned way

    You will get a sentimental feeling when you hear
    The French are rioting, once again
    And tossing Peugots in the Seine
    Rockin’ around the Christmas tree
    Have a happy holiday
    Citroens burnin’ merrily
    In the new old-fashioned way

    It would take a heart of stone not to unship a rib laughing at the boy Macron, being given a bloody good hiding by his own people when he tries to impose on them the measures he and his fellow biens-pensants have been lecturing the rest of the world about. He tried to do to the French people, what he succeeded in doing to his French literature teacher, and they are now showing him that they’re not the pushover that she was. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

    And I don’t have a heart of stone.

    Still true to this very day – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvYuoWyk8iU

    llater,

    llamas

  • Jacob

    Let me first state that I hate violent mobs rioting, I hate vandalism and property destruction. So I cannot applaud or support these riots. They need to be condemned.

    Let me state, secondly, that Macron is more right than wrong, and many of the “reforms” he tried to implement (such as labor law reform) are correct. I do not support his eco-gasoline tax, but then – nobody’s perfect.

    Most of protester’s demands (beside the repeal of the gasoline tax) are of the statist-populist kind: higher wages, less work, higher state subsidies, etc. No sympathy for such demands here. Macron is wrong again in trying to buy quiet by raising minimum wages… that is – by giving in to wrong demands and doing what he knows isn’t correct.

    I dislike these riots more than I dislike Macron…

  • bobby b

    “I’m always curious about the people who are climate skeptics, and whether they have read the literature, and understand it well enough to explain it and why they disagree with it. I know a couple of people capable of that, btw — they’re all polymath physicists.”

    You seem to imply that those of us who are not polymath physicists aren’t fit to hold an opinion on the subject. I don’t think we need to have a complete understanding of the underlying math and physics to form an opinion about the basic merits of the science and scientists, especially when there is so much evidence available concerning the essential dishonesty and fraud involved in both the collection of data and the formulation of the computer models that purport to tell us what the data means.

    It makes no sense to continually quote that “if X and if Y then Z” if you have no indication that X and Y exist. Indeed, once you have evidence that the claims of both X and Y are based on bad data, massaged data, and fraudulent data, you would be well advised to take such quoters skeptically.

    Have you read through all of Willis Eschenbach’s writings concerning the data release from the CRU? Have you read the “Harry Read Me” files detailing how data has been generated? Anthony Watts’s work concerning the validity of the collected temperature record?

    If you have read them, then you understand that there’s no need to consult the polymath physicists, because we’ve not even reached a point where someone has honestly produced either a valid dataset or a valid model of what that dataset means. There’s no need to question the very-well-established science behind the greenhouse effect hypotheses, or redo all of the work done over the decades concerning solar radiation and black bodies, because we’ve not seen any honest data that indicates those issues are even germane.

    When you’re given ten datasets that are claimed to support a proposition, and you are denied a look at the underlying data and processes by a group of scientists, and you then use FOIA and other tools to wrest three or four of the dataset foundations from them and they all turn out to be fraudulent and bent and unsupportable, you are well advised to hold off on believing the remaining sets until you see some proof. We’ve not seen such proof – we only see excuses made for the errors that are uncovered, along with assertions that the remaining datasets do indeed support that proposition, but we cannot see them for various reasons that aren’t ever articulated beyond “Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.”

    “Skeptic” doesn’t necessarily mean “anti.” I don’t actively disbelieve the AGW theories, because I’ve seen no competent evidence against them. Likewise, I don’t actively believe the AGW theories, because I’ve seen no competent evidence supporting them. “Skeptic” means, “you haven’t proved it yet”, not “you’re wrong.” As of right now, there’s no proof, just the same as there was no proof back in seventh grade when I was assigned to do a paper on the dominant theory that we were going to suffer global cooling (which shouldn’t be confused with Nuclear Winter, another theory that turned out to be fraudulent.)

    /s/
    Minnesotans For Global Warming

  • Mr Ed

    I’m curious how many primary sources you’ve read on the topic. You have read some of the direct literature on this I trust?

    Why? What an utterly pointless exercise. Are you not attempting to import an appeal to (lack of) authority into the discussion? So what if you’ve read it and he hasn’t, that proves nothing, nothing at all.

    And again:

    But I’m always curious about the people who are climate skeptics, and whether they have read the literature, and understand it well enough to explain it and why they disagree with it. I know a couple of people capable of that, btw — they’re all polymath physicists.

    An appeal to authority (of sorts).

    How many primary sources have you read on alchemy? Would they help your position? I know of a chap, I drove near his house the other day, world-renowned scientist, amazing mathematician, he wrote over 1,000,000 words on alchemy, total crap. But his physics…

  • Itellyounothing

    Some climate scientists are clearly committing huge frauds with their data. I don’t need to be a polymath to judge frauds. They stand out a mile.

    If CO2 were so damaging we would

    1 go nuclear. Rolls Royce do a nice line in mini ones for subs.

    2 dump iron in the ocean is cheap and counters CO2, but was made illegal after some early trials.

    3 Frack. Gas is cleaner than coal.

    4 stop sending rubbish to the third world to be dumped in the ocean.

    5 stop subsidising population increases by welfare and foreign aid

    6 rewrite the tax code creating a proper pigou tax for CO2 emmissions.

    There is no urgency and much graft by all the proponents of Man made climate change. They happen to also hate free market capitalism that makes the ordinary man free.

    Behave like it’s true and I might start to agree.

    Mankind’s total emissions are around one tenth of nature’s emissions of the same stuff.

  • Minnesotans For Global Warming

    +Perth and Kinross winegrowers and cheaper winter heating bills alliance

    We could do with a bit of global warming. Quite a lot in fact. Sub-saharan Africa? bugger them lot.

    I know of a chap, I drove near his house the other day, world-renowned scientist, amazing mathematician, he wrote over 1,000,000 words on alchemy, total crap. But his physics…

    I’m sure the second chairholder of the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics would have had a fair bit to say upon the subject of alchemy as well…

  • (In reply to Perry Metzger, December 10, 2018 at 7:52 pm), I’m grateful that bobby b (December 10, 2018 at 9:26 pm) has made the relevant general points that I would otherwise have made, leaving me free to engage with specifics.

    I know a couple of people capable of that, btw — they’re all polymath physicists.

    I would normally have said, “they’re both polymath physicists” if (as I can well believe) you only know a couple. This is not mere carping but relevant: one of the “bits of paper” I can wave around concerns mathematical physics, and I also have statistics but are those two sufficient to be a polymath physicist rather than just a (uni-or-bi-)math(ematical) physicist’? How ‘poly’ is ‘poly’? I can throw in complex (in both the literal and the colloquial sense of the word) geometry to make a third, but as we used to say in the department, “All science is physics and all physics is mathematics”, so I tend to think there’s nothing really ‘poly’ about mathematics. 🙂 (But you can spend a lifetime in it and yet never meet whole subareas of mathematical reasoning.)

    My point was that I have some bits of paper that FWIW (and here I remind readers of bobby b’s post), make me ‘credentialled’. Specifically, I am competent to reproduce and to verify the argument of the McKittrick retrospective summary paper that I linked to above, for example. Thus, where bobby b can verify for himself that the poster-child hockey stick graph dishonestly hid the decline, I can also speak in ‘credentialled’ fashion (and, I hope, competent fashion) about their scientific (as opposed to moral) failure: the decline was not just a ‘divergence problem’ to be put aside as something minor to be solved whenever (and meanwhile hidden from the common people); it was trying to tell these ‘scientists’ something and they failed as scientists in not understanding their subject enough to see that. (Bobby, please feel free to say if you were quite as able to notice that as any ‘credentialled’ guy.)

    By contrast, I do not have similar bits of paper ‘credentialling’ me to pronounce on the economics of post-Brexit Britain, nor have I ever negotiated a trade agreement – and yet I vote on these subjects, have strong views on them, and despise ‘Project Fear’ as much as I despise ‘The Team’. I also have more faith in Brexitteers knowing and caring about what is right than I (so far) have in the yellow vests, though I’m willing to think they’re less indifferent to reality than Macron. As Dominic Cummings notes in another of my links above,

    political views are much less important for signalling to one’s immediate in-group when you are on 20k a year

    (As regards Perry’s question about the earth’s temperature, may I draw attention to the ‘A’ in ‘AGW’.)

  • pst314

    “But I’m always curious about the people who are climate skeptics, and whether they have read the literature, and understand it well enough to explain it and why they disagree with it.”

    One man who is not a scientist said that it was because of how the catastrophic global warming people behaved: They behaved not like honest, principled and selfless people but rather like they were engaged in a scam: they lied, they grossly exaggerated, and they repeatedly tried to silence critics.

  • Flubber

    Mark Levin did an interview with a climatologist recently:

    https://youtu.be/dt3478xExZM

    Basically the Scientists are cooking the data. Bizarrely the only climate model that reflects reality is the Russian one. Make of that what you will.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Niall — Good posting, and thanks for the link to the McKitrick paper.

    bobby — Props.

    (Signed — A Fan of M4GW)

    . . .

    On a related note: A commenter on another site has made this observation on averages a couple of times:

    If you keep your head in the oven and your feet in the freezer, on average you’re comfortable.

  • Oddly, I find myself siding with Macron. He is trying to do to France what Thatcher did for Britain and it’s long overdue. If the gilet jaunes really want what they appear to want, they should have voted for Le Penn…

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I’m curious how many primary sources you’ve read on the topic. You have read some of the direct literature on this I trust?”

    I’ve read the literature, downloaded and analysed data, and debated the physics, chemistry, geology, and statistics extensively with the climate scientists and physics professors. (I guess I’m another polymath physicist…)

    “Also, I’d like your explanation of why the Earth doesn’t have dramatically colder temperature…”

    The main sceptic argument isn’t about the existence of the greenhouse effect itself (although it’s remarkable how many incorrect explanations of it you find in official sources!), but about the feedbacks. The basic effect of the CO2 is about 1.1 C per doubling, if everything else is held equal. However, the climate models predict that the rise in temperature causes a whole range of other effects, the most important being that more water vapour evaporates, which is also a greenhouse gas, and that this roughly triples the effect of the CO2. The models also predict that this rise in water vapour will decrease the moist adiabatic lapse rate in the tropics, causing a strong warming of the upper troposphere over the equator. However, this prediction is contradicted by observations. There’s no hot spot. The models are wrong on the major component of the warming mechanism. They’re contradicted by observation on a lot of other things, too – although climate scientists say things like “they’re close enough”, “the differences don’t matter”, and “they’re the best we’ve got”. But even on the main things we’re interested in – the equilibrium temperature, the natural variability, and the magnitude and mechanism of the feedback – their predictions are contrary to observation.

    The climate models are not validated. And without a validated model of the variability of the natural background climate, it’s not possible to detect whether there may be an anthropogenic component. All, some, or none of the observed rise in temperature may be natural – we simply don’t know. Because the observed rise is less than the models predict, climate scientists have fiddled with some of the inputs, like the amount of volcanic dust and industrial pollution, to try to get it to fit. Since such factors are very difficult to measure accurately on a global scale, there’s considerable margin for curve-fitting. Unfortunately this means that since the models have been tuned to fit the observations, it would be circular logic to try to use the observations to validate the models.

    I could go on about this for days! But to cut it short – the atmosphere is extremely complicated, the science is still very young (relative to the complexity of the problem) and they’re still at the stage of groping around in the dark for basic principles, the people doing it are not terribly good or terribly professional about it, and it’s simply not ready yet to make predictions and be used as a basis for policy. Climate science as an academic discipline used to be a backwater, and like most backwaters is populated by sloppy amateurs – there’s nothing necessarily very wrong with that, nobody is going to die if some grad student screws up a calculation in some obscure journal that nobody will ever read, and nobody really cares about. But then politics catapulted them into the spotlight of the global stage, and they were suddenly being consulted by world leaders on multi-trillion dollar decisions! They were important! They were famous! They loved it! But they were still sloppy.

    And then a small bunch of professionals (along with their many supporters!), quite a few of them experienced in the uses of science in business where a bad calculation can result in the loss of a few million dollars of somebody else’s money, started poking around. If you’re going to make trillion-dollar decisions on the basis of this stuff, they said, you need to take quality a bit more seriously! It needs to be checked, audited, verified and validated. Software and essential databases needs to be under version/configuration control. The academics of course had no knowledge of or training in such matters. And I expect it was with a feeling of utmost horror that they realised how totally out of their depth they were. However, by that time they’d already told the world leaders and global media how brilliant they all were and how scientifically solid this all was, and to be exposed with their pants down like that right in the global spotlight was simply unbearable. And that’s where the trouble started.

    I kinda feel sympathy for them. Their science was sloppy and their scientific integrity was sorely lacking, but humans are weak and fallible, and to have politics put them in such a position, with the stakes suddenly raised so insanely high, I can only think “thank the Gods it didn’t happen to me!” I have a lot less sympathy for the political operators who knew it was bogus, but used them for their own nefarious puposes. But that’s normal in politics, and nothing new. The only thing we can do is try to learn the lesson, and remember this when the next end-of-the-world eco-scare comes along.

  • I like Nullius’ summary in the comment above, modulo a caveat or too.

    I have a lot less sympathy for the political operators who knew it was bogus (Nullius in Verba, December 11, 2018 at 1:39 pm)

    For my money, certain scientists failed as scientists before the stakes became insanely high. It’s not that unusual a failure: I have personally experienced and advised in cases where scientists whose work relied on valid interpretation of datasets were astoundingly ignorant of basic statistics, yet got published in the supposedly peer-reviewed journals of their field. But I feel that terms such as “A Disgrace to the Profession” are well-merited by those at the centre of this, while ‘moral coward’ is a just description of many more.

    By contrast, the politicians seem to me more capable of genuinely not knowing (when this started) that the scientific advice they were receiving was anything but, so becoming culpable (of living in a bubble on this issue, despising outsiders’ warnings) only as time progressed.

  • Runcie Balspune

    stop sending rubbish to the third world to be dumped in the ocean.

    Even better, incinerate it and generate power.

    The mindset is locked into reduce – reuse – recycle.

    The ultimate recycling is to take an object made out of basic fuel, with latent energy from it’s production, and turn it back into power, at an incredibly high efficiency of return.

    How about you even design plastic to be incinerated cleanly – and then use _more_ of it instead of the stuff that cannot undergo the same process?

    You could create recycling levels that any greenie would only dream about.

    Whilst we are locked into this “reduce, reuse, recycle” mindset there is no way out.

  • Runcie Balspune

    By contrast, the politicians seem to me more capable of genuinely not knowing (when this started) that the scientific advice they were receiving was anything but, so becoming culpable (of living in a bubble on this issue, despising outsiders’ warnings) only as time progressed.

    It seems to many that the politicians knew _exactly_ what scientific advice they received, they just waited until the “right” advice appeared that suited their authoritarian plans.

    As the Gilets Jaunes have explained, they ain’t fooling anyone.

  • Fraser Orr

    In regards to the pile on on Perry M. my thoughts on this are fairly straightforward. At its core the essence of science can be summed up in two words: falsifiability and repeatability. Without the first you have only faith and doctrine, without the second you have only opinion and authority. The thing that bothers me about the CAGW theory is simply that it is so bereft of these two key principles. It seems that their scientists have a complete unwillingness to make predictions that can in reasonable time be proven true or false, and the nature of the beast is that one cannot perform repeatable experiments on the climate. Of course there are lots of small scale simulations, and certainly all other things being equal, adding CO2 to a test atmosphere causes warming. But all things aren’t equal.

    The plain fact is that we have a sequence of predictions from the IPCC and every one of them has been proved wrong to a greater or lesser extent. The computer models are laughably inaccurate, and the one piece of “science” which is the say, the retrospective review of historical records, seems to be utterly tainted with evidence of fiddling the figures and refusal of access to the data.

    And to me the final compelling piece of data that should demand our skepticism is simply that the scientists are funded by big government agencies, and it is generally in these agencies’ self interest that the catastrophic “hair on fire”, “the only solution is to give us masses more power and masses more money” results be found.

    When scientists funded by “Big Oil” find fracking good, we are rightly skeptical. When researchers funded by “Big Pharma” find patents are good and bought and sold regulators better, we are rightly skeptical. Why is it not logical to be equally skeptical when “Big Government” funds studies that find results favorable to the paymaster? He who pays the piper picks the tune.

    And this notion is strongly reinforced by the way skeptics are treated within the industry. They don’t get funded, they don’t get published, they are mocked and ostracized and humiliated. Who’d want to deal with that? And decent search for scientific truth welcomes skeptics and carefully considers their ideas.

    The fact that climate science behaves like an apocalyptic religion and the fact that it is a magnet for political hucksters and snake oil salesmen is not a reason to say the theory isn’t true. But it is a reason to be EXTREMELY skeptical.

    Just because one wears a white coat does not make one a paragon of virtue, or an unbiased searcher for truth, or a person utterly uninfluenced by self interest and external pressures.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Just because one wears a white coat does not make one a paragon of virtue

    Or an expert economist either.

    Another major problem is that scientists are, often willingly, being put into the position of economists and policy makers, by proposing “solutions” (usually based on behavior control) that evidently disobey basic economic principals, and by not considering other options and weighing risks. In many cases their solutions don’t actually work and increase the problem.

    Macron may be right about the science, but his “solution” has probably caused more emissions in the long term.

    Just because a physicist can explain gravity, doesn’t mean they should sell elevators or run an elevator company, they are different skills, and in some cases, entirely unsuitable for scientific thinking.

  • Jay Dee

    How about we save the world from Anthropogenic Sunspot Depletion brought about by all the solar energy plants that humans have installed.

  • Jon

    I’m not sure that any of this changes a lot of minds. I suspect that a lot of people feel the same way as me, that global warming sounds scary (especially when you get into Siberian permafrost methane release- driven positive feedback loops). I kind of think, so what if (worst case scenario) we’re overpaying a couple of hundred or thousand hippies masquerading as scientists. So what if we have solar plants and wind farms for £bin more per annum than oil (good – its not like most countries that produce oil aren’t bloody awful places run by terrible people who I’d rather not give my money to).

    At some point you have to say that the risk (however small) of the extinction of civilisation set against a few tens of billions of quid for the next 40 years seems like a bargain. It’s basically an insurance policy in case one of the global warming brigade is onto something. There seem to be a lot of people here saying AGW is nonsense, some saying ‘we don’t know yet’ and others saying other stuff. What percentage chance of AGW being true do you have to risk before you take mitigating measures?

    And if it’s nonsense, well Saudi Arabia and Iran don’t have any source of income any more. So we’re still winning.

    Once you get to the point I’m at, then you’re talking about how to pay your all-life extinction insurance policy rather than whether you should. And here, maybe Macron is wrong, but then you’re at a point of the debate where most rational people can operate, I think.

  • William Newman

    Fraser Orr wrote “At its core the essence of science can be summed up in two words: falsifiability and repeatability.”

    Besides those two words, something else is important: something along the lines of Occam’s Razor. We need some penalty for baroque ad hoc overfitting of complicated theories to poor quality data, and a complementary preference for simple elegant regularities in large complex data sets. Requiring a theory to tightly predict the future is a sufficient condition which solves part of this problem, but it does not work well as a necessary condition. In particular, treating it as a necessary condition introduces confusion about whether e.g. prehistoric Ice Ages or the Big Bang are science.

    The formulation of the third concept might or might not obviously resemble the classical Occam’s Razor. E.g., the modern “minimum description length principle” (which has roots in information theory and coding theory) does resemble Occam’s Razor. Conversely, the modern “VC dimension” concept (which has roots in classical statistics) doesn’t much resemble Occam’s Razor (except in that both it and Occam’s Razor are closely related to controlling overfitting).

    The overfitting issue is very relevant in the CAGW controversy. Overfitting and related problems are relevant in the foundation of the motte of IPCC CAGW orthodoxy[*]. Overfitting and related problems are also relevant in the bailey of Big Watermelon popularization of CAGW, e.g., in the dramatic “hockey stick” historical temperature reconstruction graphs that appear in the IPCC report motte but are clearly (even rather explicitly, in the Climategate leaks) optimized as exaggeratable talking points for the bailey of popular advocacy. And the opposite of overfitting, i.e., healthy mostly-historical theories, are also somewhat relevant to the CAGW controversy — in particular, prehistoric catastrophic Ice Ages are rather well established, and touch on the CAGW controversy. Other examples of healthy mostly-historical theories which don’t directly affect the CAGW controversy, but which have been involved in other high-profile politically tribally charged controversies over my lifetime, include the Big Bang, continental drift (at least back a few decades ago when we had only historical evidence, before modern fancy satellite-based techniques made it possible to measure it happening in real time), and Darwin’s evolution by natural selection (which Popper, the famous falsification man himself, got somewhat confused about, if I understand correctly).

    [*] E.g., underlying the shiny superstructure of fancy numerical models involving computationally-expensive PDE numerical analysis, overfitting matters in the grungy foundations of very many adjustable parameters (formally adjustable parameters, plus sometimes also de-facto adjustable guesses for key unknown parameters such as particulate emissions in the early 20th century and before), merrily overfit to a smoothed global average temperature dataset which has very low VC dimension. See also several points in https://infoproc.blogspot.com/search/label/climate%20change notably

    I seriously doubt that the process by which the 1.5 to 4.5 range is computed is statistically defensible. From the transcript, it appears that IPCC results of this kind are largely the result of “Expert Opinion” rather than a specific computation! It is rather curious that the range has not changed in 30+ years, despite billions of dollars spent on this research.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Runcie Balspune
    Or an expert economist either.

    In fairness to Perry M, he did say he was talking about the science, not the politics.

    Another major problem is that scientists are, often willingly, being put into the position of economists and policy makers, by proposing “solutions” (usually based on behavior control) that evidently disobey basic economic principals, and by not considering other options and weighing risks.

    Is it your view that politicians and the political class are somehow better at this than scientists? Their incentives are all completely wrong, and so they do stuff that serves their end, even if it doesn’t benefit their constituents. This is called ‘politics’.

    So who should act? Individuals. People making decisions in their own best interests. People starting companies that convince individuals that their products and services are worth buying. It is called the free market and it is what has made us rich enough so that the decadent snowflakes can worry their pretty little heads about these things without the slightest concern where their next meal is coming from, or the shelter over their head will keep them warm and dry. (Or their iPhones will allow them to stage their flash mob protests, or post their silly rantings on their silly blogs.)

  • Fraser Orr

    @Jon
    I’m not sure that any of this changes a lot of minds.

    Probably not. Philosophical debates where the cost is not immediately borne by the ruminators rarely do. Paris is burning because Macron had the audacity to translate his CAGW prognostications into direct costs at the gas pump. Big mistake. It is easy to demand other people do stuff, other people pay. When someone demands you pay, you suffer, the calculus becomes somewhat different.

    I suspect that a lot of people feel the same way as me, that global warming sounds scary (especially when you get into Siberian permafrost methane release- driven positive feedback loops).

    A little detail that the propaganda merchants would rather you didn’t know? The earth used to be much warmer and life absolutely thrived in these conditions. What happened with the Arctic permafrost when the Dinosaurs were roaming a brilliantly verdant earth?

    Even if we accept that the earth is warming, why are we not considering the benefits? Longer growing seasons. More land becoming habitable, reduced danger of an ice age. Etc. The worst time in recorded human history was probably the little ice age. The world is better off a little warmer, not a little colder.

    At some point you have to say that the risk (however small) of the extinction of civilisation set against a few tens of billions of quid for the next 40 years seems like a bargain.

    For sure it is a bargain if it is someone else’s ten billion quid. But to follow your example, there is a small chance aliens might invade and wipe us all out. Should we be building massive inter stellar arms to protect against that tiny risk? This is a possibility that rats might again spread a mutated virus that could wipe out half the world’s people. It happened before. Should we perhaps spend a few billion quid wiping out the world’s rodent population? There is a possibility that some random hacker might break into a government lab’s computer, find the genetic sequence of a deadly pathogen and release it killing everyone. Should we consequently ban computers and the internet? After all, doing so is an insurance policy against a civilization destroying event.

    Of course what you are not factoring is, as is rarely done, is the opportunity costs. Your estimate of a few billion quid is ridiculously low. Realistically we are talking about reducing the world’s growth rate maybe in half. Have you any idea what that means? Fifty years of that is the difference between Mexico and the United States. Where would you rather live?

    But perhaps most importantly, the money will be spent by slimebag politicians on their pet projects to reward their friends. If the same money was spent by the free market it would deal with the actual problems rather than the imagined ones. For example, all those low lying Pacific islands? What an amazing opportunity they have to extract guilt money from the west. However, the solution to their problem is simple — build up their beaches and borders to protect themselves against supposedly rising sea levels. This is something that can be done by the free market, gradually, profitably, and without massive taxes and government intervention.

    But the money, in a sense, is not the point. The point is liberty. The scary thing is not the taxes but the assault of liberty. The freedom to live your life the way you want to live it. As the old saying goes, giving money and power to the government is like giving whisky and car keys to a teenage boy.

  • Paul Marks

    A lot to think about in this post.

  • Myno

    Kudos to all, Perry M’s catalysis included, for a rousing discussion. Naill, IMO the OP was especially well written.

    First, regarding…
    @Nullius in Verba “since the models have been tuned to fit the observations, it would be circular logic to try to use the observations to validate the models.”
    @William Newman “overfitting”

    It also goes by Overparameterization. If you have a model with LOTS of adjustable dials — which climate models necessarily have in place of well-founded measurements — you can twist those dials to closely fit any data you might have. The trouble is, in a sort of penalty for violating Occam’s Razor, the better you fit an overparameterized model to past data, the demonstrably worse it is in predicting the unknown future. That present climate models fail so regularly at prediction is thus completely understandable.

    As regards convincing others, I try to point out how climate change is “purely political”, you know? It first helps to get the snowflake to pound on the necessity that borders not interfere with migration. Then I say that my view of climate crises is rather more geologic than most. I see a planet where the oceans rise and fall by 100 meters, the temperature varies quite broadly, and so forth. If everyone were as mobile as a free market would allow, with no artificial borders, then over the spans of time that climate changes occur, everyone would just move about the planet, hunting out the best next place to live! Right now Hawaii ain’t so bad, but if it gets significantly warmer, I’ll doubtless be considering the offerings of bobby b’s M4GW.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    I’m curious how many primary sources you’ve read on the topic. You have read some of the direct literature on this I trust?

    Why? What an utterly pointless exercise. Are you not attempting to import an appeal to (lack of) authority into the discussion? So what if you’ve read it and he hasn’t, that proves nothing, nothing at all.

    Asking if someone knows the evidence behind what it is that they don’t believe to be true isn’t “appeal to authority”.

    If someone claims that “Pride and Prejudice” is a terrible book, and it turns out they’ve never read it, perhaps they have no basis on which to have an opinion. Similarly, if it turns out someone believes an entire body of research is bogus and yet has never read any of it, perhaps they also have no basis on which to have an opinion.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I suspect that a lot of people feel the same way as me, that global warming sounds scary (especially when you get into Siberian permafrost methane release- driven positive feedback loops). I kind of think, so what if (worst case scenario) we’re overpaying a couple of hundred or thousand hippies masquerading as scientists.”

    Permafrost methane feedback does sound like the sort of thing hippies masquerading as scientists would come up with!

    As any physicist can tell you, 1D heat diffusion into a uniform solid follows a square root law – the depth penetrated by the temperature change increases as the square root of the time interval. If the temperature cycle penetrates a metre in a year (i.e. with the summer/winter cycle), it will penetrate 3 metres in 9 years, and 10 metres in 100 years. It slows down quite dramatically as timescales get longer.

    In fact, the permafrost is still in the process of melting after the end of the last ice age, 10,000 years ago! That’s much of what we’re currently observing. As you can imagine, it would take quite a while for modern day warming to catch up…

    “At some point you have to say that the risk (however small) of the extinction of civilisation set against a few tens of billions of quid for the next 40 years seems like a bargain.”

    Ah, yes. “The Precautionary Principle”. Or Pascal’s Wager as I prefer to call it.

    The basis of Pascal’s Wager is that risk is probability times impact, so you can always get round any problem of a slim or unknown probability simply by ramping up the impact towards infinity. You can always get round any lack of evidence simply by increasing the threat.

    The difficulty with using the argument is that it’s easy to apply it to anything. As Fraser says, what about alien invasion? What about a zombie apocalypse? What if Mighty Cthulu rises once again from the deep? It may have a low probability, but the impact is so horrifically bad that it seems worth taking out a little insurance policy just in case, doesn’t it?

    Watch out for anyone using the Precautionary Principle – it usually means they’ve got no evidence.

    “Similarly, if it turns out someone believes an entire body of research is bogus and yet has never read any of it, perhaps they also have no basis on which to have an opinion.”

    The same is true, of course, of all those people who say they believe in AGW without having read any of the research, too. And virtually none of the people who believe in it and support action has ever read any of the original science, virtually none of them understand the physics of the greenhouse effect, let alone all the complications and issues on top of that that the debate is really about, and certainly none of them has examined the actual data underlying those scientific papers, because much of it simply isn’t available.

    Bobby B above mentioned the ‘Harry_read_me.txt’ which is an excellent example. It describes the efforts of Ian ‘Harry’ Harris to replicate and extend the production of the CRU TS2.1 climate database, which is published in the literature as Mitchell and Jones 2005, and cited in the IPCC reports. We can know for certain that nobody has ever checked the calculations, because even Harry, as official custodian of the database, was unable to replicate the calculation! Essential files were missing. Essential settings were unrecorded. Software was undocumented and full of bugs. CRU knew it was unreplicable and full of errors. Harry even says so: “It will allow bad databases to pass unnoticed, and good databases to become bad”, right after where he explains the distress he feels at having to make some of the numbers up because the source data is corrupted and he doesn’t know how else to proceed! There is no way anybody could have examined the working calculations and ever given it a clean bill of health.

    And yet it still got published in the peer-reviewed journals, and by the IPCC, and was passed by every scientist who read and believed them. And thus everybody telling us that they believe in climate science is clearly doing so without ever having checked it.

    I think one of the best ways of expressing it was used by the climate scientist Tom Wigley, when he said: “No scientist who wishes to maintain respect in the community should ever endorse any statement unless they have examined the issue fully themselves.” (It’s an interesting email – he was castigating one of his colleagues for trying to get signatures from other scientists to put on an ‘open letter’ that misrepresented the science. He was making the point that none of those other scientists understood the evidential basis of the statements they were endorsing – they were taking it on trust. “Putting a lie into the mouths of innocents” as he put it. Sadly, he didn’t have the integrity to say it publicly.)

    Everyone who is listening to climate scientists and taking their word for it is doing essentially the same thing as those non-scientist sceptics who instead give their trust to the scientist-sceptics who *have* examined the evidence. You cannot blame non-scientist sceptics for doing what virtually all the believers do. At least not without the sheer burning hypocrisy of the act setting your hair on fire!

    So if it turns out someone believes an entire body of research and yet has never read any of it, perhaps they also have no basis on which to have an opinion?

  • Fraser Orr

    If someone claims that “Pride and Prejudice” is a terrible book, and it turns out they’ve never read it, perhaps they have no basis on which to have an opinion.

    But would you agree there are different means of forming an opinion other than reading the text? For example, if I pick up a Mills and Boon book (is that still a thing?) I can be fairly confident without reading it that it probably isn’t going to be a work of literature and the only words with more than two syllables are likely used to describe various pieces of human anatomy, in a non medical context.

    Let’s talk about science though. Is it possible that the moon landing was a hoax? Honestly, I haven’t read all the publications on this subject that people have written to present their evidence of this. However, I have looked at parametric matters, such as the nature and motivation of the people who write it, the other things the advocate and the big picture reality that such a massive conspiracy would be impossible to maintain. So, by using the parametric data I can prevent myself from many fruitless hours plowing through their work. Perhaps I am wrong and it all was a huge hoax (probably to cover up the fact that the Martians assassinated JFK and kidnapped Elvis, while leaving con trails to mind control us all.)

    And CAGW theory is brimming with such parametric red flags, many of which I have outlined above. I am not suggesting that they are at the same level as moon landing conspiracy theorists, I think they are rather more serious than that. But still, their work is brimming with red flags. So I question the value of really digging into the data. Especially so that with this type of science you really have to dig — the historical data record being heavily manipulated, often not available, the results deeply chaotic on the methodology, and questioning is “not allowed” living at the very beating heart of the politics of science.

    I am not suggesting mendacity on the part of the researchers. I have written on this before at:

    https://www.samizdata.net/2018/11/and-why-might-that-be/#comment-762297

    It is easy to live in a science bubble of echo chambers where the fundamentals of your work are never really questioned — especially so when heretics are exiled, pilloried and treated with the same contempt as holocaust deniers. To imagine that a scientist is at the extremes: either a mendacious Machiavellian or a pure hearted seeker for the truth, is to miss the massive gray area in between occupied by the vast majority of scientists (or come to that, people.)

    It makes me think of some young actress…. “Take your clothes off honey and I will make you a STAR!!!!”, who later says “sure I did nude scenes but they were necessary to the plot.” For some obscure group of scientists in a dusty corner of their labs, working away on work that nobody cared about, to be thrust into the limelight of “the most important science on earth” feted by the good and the great, lauded and lionized in movies, TV and print — I imagine the promise of stardom might well tempt the most chaste young lady into compromise, especially so if she is allowed an uncritical self justification of her choices.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Fraser, following up on that, I would point to your subsequent comment in that discussion, which really gets to the heart of the matter:

    https://www.samizdata.net/2018/11/and-why-might-that-be/#comment-762371

  • bobby b

    Fraser Orr
    December 12, 2018 at 3:55 am

    “I am not suggesting mendacity on the part of the researchers.”

    I am.

    The deeply-massaged data has always been massaged one way. “Adjustments” have always taken the impact of the data one way. An entire profession – excluding some dissenters – failed to point out that bristlecone pines were better recorders of moisture than temperature. An entire profession – minus some dissenters – sat quietly by as journals were closed off to scientists unwilling to clamor for CAGW funding and effort.

    An entire profession – minus some dissenters – still quote Cook’s “97% of climate scientists” lie, in spite of them having to know that it was garbage. (Examine the methodology of Cook’s work. Someone two months into high school stats will recognize it as garbage.)

    And those dissenters? They were run out of the profession over a number of years, and that entire profession sat quietly by and watched it happen, or actually participated in it.

    “Mendacious”, in Wikipedia, is described as “· untruthful · dishonest · deceitful · false · dissembling · insincere · disingenuous · hypocritical · fraudulent · double-dealing · two-faced.”

    I am strongly suggesting mendacity on the part of the researchers. They participated in this farce, they profited from it, they saw their previously-backwater profession catapulted into fame and fortune and they very willingly went along with it. We can say things such as “that’s just human”, but so is thievery and murder, and we don’t excuse the practitioners of those arts for simply going along to get along.

  • Kevin B

    I’m more from the “it’s all a commie plot to bring down the west” end of things, but suppose I’m wrong.

    Does anyone here think that the Climate Change Act will do anything to change the climate?

    Does anyone here think that if every country in the world honoured their Paris Accord promises it would make any measurable difference to the ‘global average temperature’ in the year 2100?

    Does anyone here think that the countries of the world will accept a ‘fundamental change to the way we are governed’ as a supposed scientific paper proposed recently? A fundamental change to our whole economic system? Globally?

    Energy is major input to wealth creation and cheap, reliable energy is a much bigger and better input than expensive, unreliable energy. When the climate changes, (and it will change just like it has in the past), the greatest key to adapting to the change is available wealth and if we’ve destroyed our energy infrastructure we’re going to have a much more painful time of it.

    Forget mitigation – we really don’t know how to mitigate climate change. We don’t even know whether the temperatures will go up or down. The only game in town is adaptation and a decent energy infrastructure is essential to adaptation.

  • Fraser Orr

    Kevin B
    Energy is major input to wealth creation and cheap, reliable energy is a much bigger and better input than expensive, unreliable energy. When the climate changes, (and it will change just like it has in the past), the greatest key to adapting to the change is available wealth and if we’ve destroyed our energy infrastructure we’re going to have a much more painful time of it.

    Kevin, this is such a key observation (emphasis mine, but your excellent point), I wish more people realized how important it is. I’d nominate for QoTD.

    What could people of 100 years ago done to solve the problems we face today? It is ridiculous to even ask such a question. What do buggy whip manufacturers know about landing rockets on floating platforms, or dealing with excess heat from silicon microprocessors. But what they could have done is freed their markets more to introduce compounding wealth that would make us richer today, and more able to solve our problems.

    So, from that perspective, the free market is absolutely the solution to fixing problems a hundred years in the future.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Kevin and Fraser, Absolutely!

    How about we take all the “Climate Change Retardant” money and spend it on beefing up (“hardening”) infrastructure instead … which by the way includes producing more cheap, reliable electricity.

    Hmmmm…I wonder how we could do that. :>)

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