Saturday, February 07, 2009

Who do you believe?

Bill Gray when last Eli met him was spewing at Joel Achenbach in the Washington Post. Achenbach just lay back and let Gray punch himself out

We sit in his office for 2 1/2 hours, until the sun drops behind the mountains, and when we're done he offers to keep talking until midnight. He is almost desperate to be heard. His time is short. He is 76 years old. He is howling in a maelstrom.
This is not a guy to go quiet into the night.
Bill Gray says he takes no fossil-fuel money. He's simply sick and tired of squishy-minded hand-wringing equation-pushing computer jocks who've never flown into a hurricane!

Gray has his own conspiracy theory. He has made a list of 15 reasons for the global warming hysteria. The list includes the need to come up with an enemy after the end of the Cold War, and the desire among scientists, government leaders and environmentalists to find a political cause that would enable them to "organize, propagandize, force conformity and exercise political influence. Big world government could best lead (and control) us to a better world!"

and needless to say the Old Bill was not happy when the American Meteorological Society gave the Rossby Medal to Jim Hansen. None were shocked when he let loose on Jim Hansen on a mailing list. OTOH, like the ravings of your beloved but unbalanced uncle, no one is exactly spreading the news.
I am appalled at the selection of James Hansen as this year’s recipient of the AMS’s highest award – the Rossby Research Medal. James Hansen has not been trained as a meteorologist. His formal education has been in astronomy. His long records of faulty global climate predictions and alarmist public pronouncements have become increasingly hollow and at odds with reality. Hansen has exploited the general public’s lack of knowledge of how the globe’s climate system functions for his own benefit. His global warming predictions, going back to 1988 are not being verified. Why have we allowed him go on for all these years with his faulty and alarmist prognostications? And why would the AMS give him its highest award?
Why you ask dear bunnies, because..... because, according to Gray
Hansen and his legion of environmental political supporters (with no meteorological climate background) have done monumental damage to an open and honest discussion of the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) question. He and his fellow collaborators (and their media sycophantic followers) are responsible for the brainwashing of a large segment of the American public about a grossly exaggerated human induced warming threat that does not exist. Most of the global warming we have observed is of natural origin and due to multidecadal and multicentury changes in the globe’s deep ocean circulation resulting from salinity variations (see the Appendix for scientific discussion). These changes are not associated with CO2 increases. Hansen has little experience in practical meteorology. He apparently does not realize that the strongly chaotic nature of the atmosphere ocean climate system does not allow for skillful initial value numerical climate prediction.
On the one hand Gray is saying that the climate system is so chaotic that no model can predict its behavior, on the other hand he is saying that he can do so on the back of an envelope. As Eli has noted, climate change denialism is incoherent. But Eli is not the only one to say this, from Achenbach's article, we have this gem from Richard Lindzen on why he and Gray never collaborated on a paper
"His knowledge of theory is frustratingly poor, but he knows more about hurricanes than anyone in the world. I regard him in his own peculiar way as a national resource."
In other words, Gray has made his way by pattern recognition. He is lost when the pattern changes, but he does have a long list of the usual suspects of why the climate is changing or not. High among them is that meteorologists ain't getting no respect, well at least his kind of "practical" meteorologist. Eli met this same sort of "real" vs. "theoretician" argument when he wandered into chemistry in the 1970s. Suffice it to say that it is hard to publish anything today in large areas of chemistry lacking some sort of theoretical calculation. Without theory, science is stamp collecting. Yet, according to Gray the AMS has been hijacked by the
AMS leadership’s capitulating to the lobby of the climate modelers and to the outside environmental and political pressure groups who wish to use the now AMS position on AGW to help justify the promotion of their own special interests. The effectiveness of the AMS as an objective scientific organization has been greatly compromised.

We AMS members have allowed a small group of AMS administrators, climate modelers, and CO2 warming sympathizers to maneuver the internal workings of our society to support AGW policies irrespective of what our rank and file members might think.
And, dear bunnies, you would not be surprised that the AMS is a bunch of commies subversives
Our country’s Anglo Saxon derived legal system is based on the idea that the best way to get to the truth is to have opposite sides of a continuous issue present their differing views in open debate before a non partisan jury.
completely ignoring the scientific interchange that has gone on for fifty years to bring us to this point. If the slain belong to Gray we must slay them again and again. It is our duty to the Anglo Saxon legal system that denial deserves endless appeals
Instead of organizing meetings with free and open debates on the basic physics
Given Lindzen's comment on Gray and theory that is a knee slapper
and the likelihood of AGW induced climate changes, the leaders of the society (with the backing of the society’s AGW enthusiasts) have chosen to fully trust the climate models and deliberately avoid open debate on this issue. I know of no AMS sponsored conference where the AGW hypothesis has been given open and free discussion. For a long time I have wanted a forum to express my skepticism of the AGW hypothesis. No such opportunities ever came within the AMS framework. Attempts at publication of my skeptic views have been difficult. One rejection stated that I was too far out of the mainstream thinking. Another that my ideas had already been discredited. A number of AGW skeptics have told me they have had similar experiences
Well, yes. Let us see, they laughed at Einstein, but dear Bill, they also laughed at Bozo. Ideas already discredited, again yes (we will get to that), but the best is
To obtain any kind of a balanced back and forth discussion on AGW one has to consult the many web blogs that are both advocates and skeptics of AGW. These blogs are the only source for real open debate on the validity of the AGW hypothesis.
Eli has it on good authority that Rabett Run will soon receive an impact factor rating from Web of Science (More to follow)

Update: John Mashey points out that the letter is posted at Heartland

Comments

14 comments:

John Mashey said...

But you forgot to mention, from his letter:


"Heartland Institute.
We should all be grateful to the non-profit Heartland Institute of Chicago for attempting to break up the one-way group thinking mentality on AGW by its beginning sponsorship of annual global climate change meetings each year in New York City. The second annual Heartland sponsored meeting will be held on 8-10 March 2009 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in central Manhattan. This meeting offers an international venue (the only one I know of) for an open and fair discussion of the many problems associated with the AGW hypothesis."

Arthur said...

Eli - fascinating. In my PhD field (condensed matter physics, and particularly the theory of metal alloys) there's an interesting history that I believe was told rather well in a fascinating book: "Out of the Crystal Maze" - but don't buy it from Amazon, it's crazily overpriced there for some reason.

The basic transition from phenomenological expertise to theory-based analysis happened in that field from about the 1950's to the 1970's, but like Kuhn's "paradigm shifts", there were some old fogies who just never could handle the new stuff, and became sadly irrelevant as the field moved on. Kind of like Bill Gray.

Anonymous said...

Henry Armstrong, a distinguished organic chemist (FRS, Davy Medalist), wrote the following in 1936:
 "The fact is, there has been a split of chemistry into two schools  ...rather it should be said, the addition of a new class of worker into our profession - people without knowledge of the laboratory  arts and with sufficient mathematics at their command to be led astray by curvilinear agreements; without the ability to criticize, still less of giving any chemical interpretation. The fact is, the physical chemists never use their eyes and are most lamentably lacking  in chemical culture. It is essential to cast out from our midst,  root and branch, this physical element and return to our laboratories." 


The esoteric physical chemistry that he was lamenting was Arrhenius' theory of electrolytic dissociation.

Robert P.

CapitalClimate said...

To get the full flavor of Gray crotchetiness, check out his attack on Judith's Curry's work on the Diane Rehm show back when the Year of Katrina had only reached the "R" storm. It doesn't quite rise to the level of an old-timey Saturday Night Live "Jane, you ignorant slut" routine, but it comes close enough for gummint work.

S Molnar said...

I don't think they did laugh at Einstein.

coby said...

I did.

Anonymous said...

I don't think they did laugh at Einstein."

Yes They* did.

*His full name was "They Them Thatdidit" of Hoboken, NJ. he was said to be an ornery old fart with emphysema who never gave up on the ether theory (or cigarettes, either). he may have been so partial to ether because he spent so much time hooked up to a machine that dispensed it to ease his emphysema.

Anonymous said...

"To obtain any kind of a balanced back and forth discussion on AGW one has to consult the many web blogs that are both advocates and skeptics of AGW. These blogs are the only source for real open debate on the validity of the AGW hypothesis."

Ditto for Special Relativity.

An utter travesty in both cases because, as everyone knows, "Bozo the clown laughed at Einstein" (or something to that effect)

Anonymous said...

Just noticed something;

"web blogs"??!

Apparently Bill Gray does not get out into the internet tubes very much.

Deep Climate said...

William (Bill) Gray is one of six headliners at the upcoming Heartland climate "science" conference in March.

The Canadians are coming, the Canadians are coming! See:

http://www.deepclimate.org

Former Skeptic said...

"web blogs"??!

Apparently Bill Gray does not get out into the internet tubes very much.


Him and Roger Sr. too. Coincidence? Hmmm....

Tenney said...

Yes, Eli, I believe you do have a strong contender for the Christopher Booker Prize.

Anonymous said...

Eli,

yes, fascinating post.

I think the comment on pattern recognition vs theory is a cracker. I'm well aware that in my work, I am about 150% pattern recognition, but then there is the work of making sure that those patterns can be explained within a robust theoretical framework. I place my patterns within complex system theory, which helps a lot when working with large uncertainties in complex systems. This is the scepticism bit.

If one looks across at different scientific communities, there are large rumps of scientists who work off pattern recognition, and who have built some empirical theorem from this, often unconsciously or as part of group-think. The Earth Sciences are full of these jokers - most of them have Newtonian models of the universe and wouldn't know a feedback if it leapt out of a live socket and fried their eyebrows. They make fine climate denialists. Putting other people's evidence through one's own pattern-recognised empiritheory is not scientific scepticism. (However, theory with no pattern recognition is also useless - and I've crossed swords with these jokers, too)

I think the different research disciplines would help science a great deal if each could identify the old-guard of the join-the-dots crew. It is probably more widespread than we think and would be good for science as a whole to confront and discuss

Roger Jones

Anonymous said...

"On the one hand Gray is saying that the climate system is so chaotic that no model can predict its behavior, on the other hand he is saying that he can do so on the back of an envelope. As Eli has noted, climate change denialism is incoherent. But Eli is not the only one to say this, from Achenbach's article, we have this gem from Richard Lindzen on why he and Gray never collaborated on a paper."

Someone does not understand the difference between observation and prediction...