Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Quote of the Day:

How warm is the climate? It's so warm it's impossible to fact check a story!
I get a chuckle every time I hear someone toss out the line "The science is settled!" It just proves the speaker to be unclear on their terminology, because Buddy, if it's "settled", then it ain't "science", okay? Science doesn't "settle" things; it just provides workable hypotheses that we use until we get better data.


Jeff the Baptist said...

Exactly. How long were the 4 Aristotelian elements settled science? Newtonian Physics? The earth-centered solar system? Didn't make them right.

This goes for most of science too. A lot of our physical laws are as driven by the math we used to derive them as by the phenomenon itself.

Tango Juliet said...

Didn't some guy settle the fact that the Earth was flat long ago?

Tam said...

The best evidence we have so far seems to indicate that it's kinda pear-shaped. In more ways than one.

Midwest Chick said...

check this out over at American Thinker. Marc Shepard talks about the UN report and the fake data that started all of this ka-ka.

karrde said...

FWIW, Lorimor, there was a librarian in Alexandria who tried to measure the circumference of the Earth in 240 B.C.

I don't know about attempts to prove the Earth flat; they fail pretty quickly to simple observations about horizons, approaching ships, and seeing mountaintops in the distance before you see the mountain base.

Silver the Evil Chao said...

Very few things are EVER entirely set in stone in science. Yeah, sure, you have broadly-encompassing things like "Saturn has rings", but then later, smaller details were discovered, like "Saturn's rings are made of chunks of ice" and, today, "New ring discovered around Saturn". No matter how advanced we get, we will never know absolutely everything about everything, even things we take as concrete facts (gravitational force, for instance).

That's what science is about: taking our established theories and turning them on their heads via more and more research.

Assuming that science knows and states everything is a pet peeve of mine right up there with "well, it's only a theory [usually regarding the Theory of Natural Selection and related theories]".

alath said...

How often does it happen that an un-navigable body of water gets named "The So-and-So Passage?"

Should have raised generated some skepticism right there.

But as far as I can see, journalists don't think any more. Their job is to go find (or twist) facts to fit a pre-determined story line.

Ken said...

It used to be flat, until those Numenorean imperialists went and invaded Valinor, a country that was no threat to them.

I think it was over Oil of Olay, perhaps. Something about immortality, anyway. So basically oil. Like always.

Jeff the Baptist said...

But as far as I can see, journalists don't think any more.

I think the real problem is that journalists don't know anything other than how to write an article. This is really obvious when it comes to science and technology coverage.

When I was in college none of the English or journalism majors took the difficult sciences. They took crap like sociology that they could talk themselves through instead. Now they're completely unqualified to make these decisions or analysis and they resort to huge appeals to authority.

Borepatch said...

...if it's "settled", then it ain't "science"

Well said, right there.

Anonymous said...

As someone who hires scientists, science is simply politics in white coats.

Shootin' Buddy

Van Halen said...

You wouldn't laugh if you were taking science in school - you learn to know end how science can't just be made up - good science:

asks questions
gathers facts
tests the facts
forms a hypothesis

A theory is roughly defined as a hypothesis that has not been disproven or has glaring questions.


You're hit with chapter after chapter of how evidence everywhere shows global warming is a fact. Which completely flies in the face of all you were taught about good science.

Van Halen said...

Just another quick note on my previous post - Jeff the Baptist mentioned the earth-centered universe - if you look at what I said, it's a great example because there were a lot of problems with that theory while it was being held up as fact, it's just that no one wanted to do the science involved in figuring out what they were. With global warming, we have a TON of people pointing out problems with the data, but the MSM and the politicians, in fact, anyone who is hellbent on advancing the agenda of Liberalism MUST ignore the questions that may debunk global warming because LIBERALISM must always come first and global warming is currently one of the pillars of Liberalism.

TJP said...

Thanks for bringing this to my attention, and nice job on that summary Mr. Borepatch. And it gets so much more complicated. Why, you're all missing out on the exciting discussions of principal component analysis, lake bed sediment and weather station histories!

What I've learned about anthropogenic climate change: the topic is too broad and the details too fine for me to run around giving my opinion. This additionally applies to celebrities, conservation clubs, nature magazines, Al Gore, Rush Limbaugh and also the governor of Connecticut.

cj said...

*sigh* Makes me wish I'd kept my paper from a few years ago where a letter from one of the many 'Al Gore' types to the paper chewed out and ridiculed a scientist who dared to question some of the science behind global warming. The letter claimed that every intelligent person KNEW humans were causing it. Wonder how they feel now that even mainstream media has backed off the wagon a bit?

John A said...

May I once again point out that modern Chaos Theory* was first published by a meteorologist (Lorenz) who concluded his computer models of climate could never be accurate?

Something very similar had been published over a century previously, but never taken up by mathematicians or physicists.

LabRat said...

Part of the problem is that climate science and "global warming" the political issue are two RADICALLY different subjects, and way too often people think they're arguing the one when they're really arguing the other. Including some of the climate scientists.

ChrisTheEngineer said...

I would phrase it as: Anyone who says the science is settled (on such an issue), proves they do not know how science works.

There is a difference between scientific consensus, and political consensus. The Far Left Politics is settled.

Oh, and in science "theory" does not mean what many think it means.

Anyway, well said, Tam et al.

Kristophr said...


It's turtles, all the way down, dammit.

Old NFO said...

Good post, and the replies are interesting... Since we only have 150 years of "recorded" data against the actual age of the earth, who really knows what the answer is... "-) From the 1880's to today, total rise is something on the order of +/-.6 deg F Is it accurate? who knows...

Windy Wilson said...

Unknown Italian Cardinal:
Mr. Galileo Galilee, you must stop teaching this heretical doctrine that the earth orbits the sun. The science is settled.
Galileo Galilee: "Yes Excellency.
(And yet it moves)."

Anonymous said...

I had an interesting chat last week with a climate scientist who ground her teeth when the topic of NASA and the National Weather Service came up. Something about "they can't get a forecast correct three days in advance and they want one a hundred years in advance?"
Part of my work involves looking at climate change back 8-10,000 years ago and thus far, no archaeologist I've read or talked with has found evidence of internal combustion engines or CFC refrigerants from then. But I'm open to new data.