TeeJaw Blog

I’m Proud of It and I Don’t Mind Saying So

Posted in Uncategorized by TeeJaw on Thursday, December 1, 2011, 4: 43 PM

“it” is that I never believed the hooey about man-global warming.  Not even a little, and not even for a second.  From the first time I heard anyone say it, I believed it was no more than the latest BS scare tactics of environmentalist wackos posing a subterfuge to trick us into more socialism, government subsidies and other liberal nostrums that nobody would accept under normal circumstances.   Not only did the idea sound totally wacky, given that just a couple of years earlier it was global cooling they were trying to scare us with, but it also seemed to be a scientific theory eerily tailored to fit a political agenda.  Without knowing,  I was skeptical because the man-made global warming theory neatly fits one of the eight indicators of junk science.

Man-made global warming, like Keynesian economics,  is a “scientific” theory that is tailor-made for the needs of politicians and advocacy organizations. Politicians like to raise taxes, right? Right. The cap and trade scam was based on the idea that we will all burn up if we don’t accept this new tax scheme.  Extremist environmentalism is a communist and/or socialist movement in disguise that serves the purposes of several advocacy organizations. See James Delingpole’s interesting new book, Watermelons, Green on the Outside, Red on the Inside.

From Armed and Dangerous:

Real scientific results have a cross-grained tendency not to fit transient political categories. Accordingly, if you think theory X stinks of political construction, you’re probably right. This is one of the simplest but most difficult lessons in junk-science spotting! The most difficult case is recognizing that this is happening even when you agree with the cause.

That single warning sign was enough to make me an incorrigible AGW skeptic from the very beginning. Without being conscious of it I was probably influenced by a few more of the junk science warning signs. Here are all eight of them, again from Armed and Dangerous:

1.  Science by press release. It’s never, ever a good sign when ‘scientists’ announce dramatic results before publishing in a peer-reviewed journal. When this happens, we generally find out later that they were either self-deluded or functioning as political animals rather than scientists. This generalizes a bit; one should also be suspicious of, for example, science first broadcast by congressional testimony or talk-show circuit.

2.  Rhetoric that mixes science with the tropes of eschatological panic. When the argument for theory X slides from “theory X is supported by evidence” to “a terrible catastrophe looms over us if theory X is true, therefore we cannot risk disbelieving it”, you can be pretty sure that X is junk science. Consciously or unconsciously, advocates who say these sorts of things are trying to panic the herd into stampeding rather than focusing on the quality of the evidence for theory X.

3.  Rhetoric that mixes science with the tropes of moral panic. When the argument for theory X slides from “theory X is supported by evidence” to “only bad/sinful/uncaring people disbelieve theory X”, you can be even more sure that theory X is junk science. Consciously or unconsciously, advocates who say these sorts of things are trying to induce a state of preference falsification in which people are peer-pressured to publicly affirm a belief in theory X in spite of private doubts.

4.  Consignment of failed predictions to the memory hole. It’s a sign of sound science when advocates for theory X publicly acknowledge failed predictions and explain why they think they can now make better ones. Conversely, it’s a sign of junk science when they try to bury failed predictions and deny they ever made them.

5.  Over-reliance on computer models replete with bugger factors that aren’t causally justified. No, this is not unique to climatology; you see it a lot in epidemiology and economics, just to name two fields that start with ‘e’. The key point here is that simply fitting historical data is not causal justification; there are lots of ways to dishonestly make that happen, or honestly fool yourself about it. If you don’t have a generative account of why your formulas and coupling constants look the way they do (a generative account which itself makes falsifiable predictions), you’re not doing science – you’re doing numerology.

6.  If a ‘scientific’ theory seems tailor-made for the needs of politicians or advocacy organizations, it probably has been. Real scientific results have a cross-grained tendency not to fit transient political categories. Accordingly, if you think theory X stinks of political construction, you’re probably right. This is one of the simplest but most difficult lessons in junk-science spotting! The most difficult case is recognizing that this is happening even when you agree with the cause.

7.  Past purveyers of junk science do not change their spots. One of the earliest indicators in many outbreaks of junk science is enthusiastic endorsements by people and advocacy organizations associated with past outbreaks. This one is particularly useful in spotting environmental junk science, because unreliable environmental-advocacy organizations tend to have long public pedigrees including frequent episodes of apocalyptic yelling. It is pardonable to be taken in by this the first time, but foolish by the fourth and fifth.

8.  Refusal to make primary data sets available for inspection. When people doing sound science are challenged to produce the observational and experimental data their theories are supposed to be based on, they do it. (There are a couple of principled exceptions here; particle physicists can’t save the unreduced data from particle collisions, there are too many terabytes per second of it.) It is a strong sign of junk science when a ‘scientist’ claims to have retained raw data sets but refuses to release them to critics.

No. 7 was at work in my mind without me being expressly conscious of it because back in my young and stupid days I had pretty much fallen for Paul Erlich’s doomsday predictions in his book The Population Bomb.  After the famous wager between Paul Erlich and Julian Simon my naivete no longer was tenable.   My BS detector was much improved after that.

Looking at those 8 warning signs of junk science, man-made global warming has all 8 of them.  For every one of the warning signs you can think of some aspect of the AGW debate  in which that warning sign is applicable.

Case closed.  It’s a hoax, and a rather vicious one at that.  I knew it from the beginning and I’m mighty proud to say so.  Even if you didn’t get it at first, you can still be proud if you do now.

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