Saturday, December 29, 2007

My scientists are better than your scientists

One of the counter-"arguments" that climate change alarmists like to wheel out, when one points to any long list of scientists who refute the AGW catastrophe theory, is that they are not real scientists or, failing that, that they are not proper climate scientists.

Via the hugely prolific Tom Nelson, this Climate Resistance post takes one of the IPCC's recent reports and decides to test how "scientisty" their authors are. The results make incredulous and hilarious reading.
There were 380 contributors to the report [PDF of contributors]. A thorough and exhaustive analysis of the backgrounds of these experts (or were they?) was too ambitious (it's Christmas, and we have wine to drink, and mince pies to eat, too). So, we focused on the contributors who operate in the UK. Of the 51 UK contributors to the report, there were 5 economists, 3 epidemiologists, 5 who were either zoologists, entomologists, or biologists. 5 worked in civil engineering or risk management / insurance. 7 had specialisms in physical geography (we gave the benefit of the doubt to some academics whose profiles weren't clear about whether they are physical or human geographers). And just 10 have specialisms in geophysics, climate science or modelling, or hydrology. But there were 15 who could only be described as social scientists. If we take the view that economics is a social science, that makes 20 social scientists.

Even those who might be properly classified as climate scientists were not exactly all that they might seem; in other words, they were mostly research associates and many were not even in proper climate science. Could this be right? Climate Resistance decided to check the US contributors...
Of the 70 US contributors, there were 7 economists, 13 social scientists, 3 epidemiologists, 10 biologists/ecologists, 5 engineers, 2 modellers/statisticians, 1 full-time activist (and 1 part time), 5 were in public health and policy, and 4 were unknowns. 17 worked in earth/atmospheric sciences. Again, we gave the benefit of the doubt to geographers where it wasn't clear whether their specialism was physical, or human geography.

And yet Andrew Dessler—whom the post is fisking—has yet more arguments up his sleeve, and they are slapped down equally quickly.
In a follow-up post, Dessler has set about 'Busting the 'consensus busters'' by ridiculing the qualifications of Inhofe's 400 experts, starting with a certain Thomas Ring. In the comments section he justifies this approach:
I agree it would be quicker to simply note the qualified skeptics on the list (there are probably a few dozen), but, from a rhetorical point of view, I think pointing out these immensely unqualified members of the list is more effective.

Well, we can all play that game... Included as contributors to WGII are Patricia Craig, Judith Cranage, Susan Mann, and Christopher Pfeiffer, all from Pennsylvania State University. It's not that these people aren't experts in their field - they probably are. Our problem with their inclusion on the list of Contributors to the IPCC WGII Fourth Assessment report is that their jobs are (in order) website-designer, administrative assistant (x2), and network administrator.

Also on the list is Peter Neofotis who appears to be a 2003 graduate of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology from Columbia. Are there many experts in anything who graduated in 2003?

Well, quite. And these people have been included on the list of a so-called scientific report issued by the IPCC as contributors to the report. Had Climate Resistance not decided to look them up—and do read the whole thing for yet more exciting revelations—you might have thought that they were scientific experts and marvelled at the huge number of acclaimed climate science experts who had contributed.

Can anyone honestly say that this was not a dishonest action by the IPCC, that this was not deliberately intended to mislead readers and to give a false impression of the capabilities of those who had composed the report?

The IPCC are liars and as the whole anthropogenic climate change crap unravels—even on the Left—they cling ever more desperately to their outdated theories by propagating yet more obfuscations, half-truths and outright lies.

Wake up, people!—we are being lied to, and it is so that the political establishment can make complete slaves of us all.

6 comments:

anthonynorth said...

I accept totally the machinations of the IPCC and politicians in regards to AGW. But even when you remove all this, there are indications that AGW has a high probability of being correct.
I'm worried that a reaction to the politics of the thing could be counter-productive to the environment in the end.
Maybe we need more balance.

Pogo said...

All the prognostications are based upon computer models of incredible complexity and dubious accuracy. Unfortunately, the climate doesn't get to see the predictions and has flatly refused to comply for the last ten years... The models say it should be getting warmer, the thermometers (especially the satellite, ie *very* accurate ones) say the opposite.

Interesting...

Bob King said...

Actually, I don't personally think it's at all invalid to credit the web designer as "contributing to the report." Not when they are credited as such. Just saying.

Nor, should I add, does employment in that particular task DISqualify them. They may well have other qualifications, given their connections, that's more likely than not, just as a janitor at Harvard may well be better educated than a graduate of Bob Jones University.

I speak to this point because of the issue of credentialism. Credentials are easy enough to come by, (given a willingness to mortgage one's soul and minor children). The ability to look at data and analyze it, especially inherently "muddy" data such as this, that's a different thing entirely.

Which speaks to the skepticism regarding
Also on the list is Peter Neofotis who appears to be a 2003 graduate of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology from Columbia. Are there many experts in anything who graduated in 2003?.

In absolute numbers? Probably not. But this debate will be attracting qualified geniuses on both sides, and they tend to show up early, do their most amazing work early, and then spend the rest of their academic lives being a living frustration to those who would like to take a chunk out of their monument.

Take Einstien.

Anyway:

"Of the 70 US contributors, there were 7 economists, 13 social scientists, 3 epidemiologists, 10 biologists/ecologists, 5 engineers, 2 modelers/statisticians, 1 full-time activist (and 1 part time), 5 were in public health and policy, and 4 were unknowns. 17 worked in earth/atmospheric sciences. Again, we gave the benefit of the doubt to geographers where it wasn't clear whether their specialism was physical, or human geography."

Economists - whatever you think of the conclusions they draw from their usual data sets - ARE conversant with evaluating HUGE statistical data sets and have specialized maths to deal with it. Since this is a "fuzzy" subject, any model will have to be developed with "fuzzy" logics, wherein you create computer programs that learn from repeated guess and test routines. Likely they are evaluating the output and helping to improve the modeling itself.

If you don't find people with the same qualifications on the "skeptic" side, well, the implications should be clear enough.

Social scientists are there for their maths, and for their expertise in validating usefully predictive models based on data with inherent variability and inaccuracy. They are also there for their expertise in figuring out what aspect of a complex system is testable, and what the hell that data means, if anything.

Again, there should similarly qualified folk on the other side, working together, not as lone snipers.

Of the UK contingent, I find the skepticism about the inclusion of insurance/risk management experts to be bizarre. I'd think the necessity for that viewpoint - and again, their specialized models and maths - to be obvious to any such effort.

But finally, I think the very idea that there are "sides" to this issue speaks more to the people choosing sides and the outcomes they wish (and fear) than to the actual science and probable accuracy.

As far as I can see, the only thing the skeptical view can justify at this point is council against forced radical social change based on too-early data.

But as many others would observe, the data are good enough for betting odds - and the SMART money seems to be spending a lot of money on Nevada real estate in the high Sierras, relocating from California.

Make of that what you will.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Bob,

"Actually, I don't personally think it's at all invalid to credit the web designer as "contributing to the report." Not when they are credited as such. Just saying."

They are not credited as such. If you were to download the linked PDF, you would see that the credits are in Appendix II: Contributors to the IPCC WGII Fourth Assessment Report and solely in the following form:

"Craig, Patricia
The Pennsylvania State University
USA"


There are no subtitles or subsections and the clear inference is that Patricia Craig is some sort of climate scientist, not a graphic designer (and a poor one at that).

"If you don't find people with the same qualifications on the "skeptic" side, well, the implications should be clear enough."

There are such people.

"But as many others would observe, the data are good enough for betting odds - and the SMART money seems to be spending a lot of money on Nevada real estate in the high Sierras, relocating from California."

What, you mean like Al Gore? Oh, no, hang on: he's recently bought a house by the sea. That must make him very stupid...

Actually, most of the so-called SMART money will not have looked at the data sets; or, if they have, they will have looked at the highly publicised but, nevertheless, rigged data.

Is it too early to take sides? No, it's not. Apart from anything else, the IPCC's constant need to lie (see DK passim ad nauseam) in order to justify their position might give one pause for thought.

I used to be more cautious: now I have no hesitation in saying that AGW is a hoax, just as much as the "catastrophic global cooling" in the 70s was. Oh, and let us remind ourselves of a little quote from that time...

"[W]e have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.—Quoted by Jonathan Schell in The Fate Of The Earth, 1982."

Does that sound at all familiar?

DK

DK

Bob King said...

Why, yes, yes it does sound familiar.

Reminds me of the Dominionist playbook, and advice given to theocons taking over school boards and republican party organizations at the state and local level. And yes, simplifiation and exaggeration are hallmarks of the radical left AND the radical right. Well, doctrinaire people of all stripes, really.

I am reflexively skeptical of anything that has socio-political implications - which this surely does. But I also tend to err on the side of caution.

And I sure as hell see nothing at all wrong with the primary thrust - reducing stack gas emissions and (often by the same means) becoming energy-independent.

I support that idea primarily from a strategic, national-security standpoint, and have since it became obvious during the Carter administration.

It's also obvious to big energy - but until they can control the alternate energy economy, they are going to see it as being in competition to them.

And inasmuch as Big Energy is trans-national, and does NOT have our national interests at heart, I don't think we should be in favor of any administration or political official or party deeply entwined with them.

That covers not a few democrats, by the by, and quite a few whole states.

But one thing that does have me concerned is that in one particular case, the Global Warming model seems to be too concervative; this is in regards to glacial melt, which instead of being liniar, seems instead to be following a catistrophic model.

And this ain't opinion. This is sattelite data and direct tracking of ice floes. So everyone is scrambling to add this to their models, because instead of a few inches over a hundred years, we could actually be talking a few feet over the next couple of decades , or even worse.

But either way, for a rich man like Gore, who already has another home or two, waterfront property can be seen as "enjoy it while it lasts."

I, for one, would love to be able to visit all the places that could be underwater within my lifetime.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Bob,

"And I sure as hell see nothing at all wrong with the primary thrust - reducing stack gas emissions and (often by the same means) becoming energy-independent.

I support that idea primarily from a strategic, national-security standpoint, and have since it became obvious during the Carter administration."


I agree with you here, and the same applies to the UK's supply.

"It's also obvious to big energy - but until they can control the alternate energy economy, they are going to see it as being in competition to them."

Of course they are; which is why so many of them are pouring money into those alternative energy sources. I have no particular problem with this, as long as those alternative energy sources deliver (unlike, for instance, the billions of pounds of our money that the UK government is pissing up the wall on the useless wind power).

"But one thing that does have me concerned is that in one particular case, the Global Warming model seems to be too concervative; this is in regards to glacial melt, which instead of being liniar, seems instead to be following a catistrophic model.

And this ain't opinion. This is sattelite data and direct tracking of ice floes. So everyone is scrambling to add this to their models, because instead of a few inches over a hundred years, we could actually be talking a few feet over the next couple of decades , or even worse.


No really, this is not happening. There is some melt in the northern hemisphere, but the southern hemisphere glaciers are putting on ice at a record rate. There is a very comprehensive study of the New Zealand glaciers, for instance.

Plus, the models don't deal with glaciers properly; for instance, the Greenland glacier is situated in a bowl and is thus likely to form a lake even if it did melt completely.

Seriously Bob, I'm not being paid by Big Oil here (if only): if I believed that we were at any risk whatsoever then I would say so. But, by my reading of some hundreds of documents, analyses and studies over the last three years, we aren't. Don't panic.

DK