Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ms. Rabett's Nude Scientist Exam....

The web is full of tests on how nerdy you are, how smart, how political. Ms. Rabett, an accurate and somewhat acerbic observer of Eli and his ilk, has decided to contribute to the genre. She will share her Nude Scientist Exam. This simple test can tell within three sentences whether someone is a scientist or not.

Talk about any situation of your choice, using no modifiers or exceptions.
for extra points attempt this in bed with your loved one.

What brings this up is how Kevin Vranes opened a new window in the Exxon advent calendar. At the AGU, Kevin encountered some folk who worried that perhaps scientists were too definite about the effect people were having on climate. While Eli went perhaps too nuclear (naw), Vranes did provide ammunition to the denialists which they were happy to accept. The guys Kevin talked to had clearly passed their Nude Scientist Test. Garhane in the comments at Kevin's blog had seen this all too often
Scientists, and I am mainly familiar with biologists, and employees of government, will provide environmentalists with quite a bit of good information, hints on where to get good data, and make a lot of statements about their science and the state of the eco system they study. You review this with them in fine detail, work up affidavits, go over factual material many times, and prep them for trial. Then they get on the stand and talk like they never heard of what they have been telling you, they collapse into uncertainty and wind up good witnesses for the other side. It does not seem to matter how careful you may be in reviewing evidence or in framing questions, they will find a way to kill the environmental argument. IN fact they are often eager, or seem eager to do it.
Contrast this with a member of the denialist nomenklatura, Steve Hemphill. Mention anything about climate change and Steve spews out
If it was CO2, CO2 concentration changes would lead temperature changes in reality (models are not reality). It doesn't. Temperature changes lead CO2 concentration changes.
No mention that this occurs at the end of the ice ages, no mention that in those cases CO2 is both a response and an amplifier of orbital changes and no contemplative statement that hey, if that happened then, what happens if we spew a bunch of carbon (in the form of CO2) into the air which has been sequestered for 1 billion years or so as fossil fuel (details and links). Steve is not a scientist.

This post and test was brought to you in response to a request by Brian Schmidt (sorta, he caused me to start along this crooked trail. Blame him if you passed:).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Steve [Hemphill] is not a scientist."

Neither is Roger Pielke, Jr -- unless you count "political science" (an oxymoron, if ever there was one).

But that does not seem to have gotten in his way, either.

What's sci-ence got ta-do,
got ta-do-with-it?
What's science, but the study of stuff in motion?

What's sci-ence got ta-do,
got ta-do-with-it?
Who needs a scientist, when a
wonk's already spoken?