Wednesday, February 29, 2012

John Abraham would not approve

Since not everyone reads the comments, Doug wins the internet with his comment on Tom Harris climate science qualifications

Mr. Harris is a MechE; as we know, the Earth's climate is governed by a system of sprockets, springs and chains similar that found on bicycles so it's wise to defer to his judgment. In the case of "negative discovery" I think he's trying to use nontechnical terms to explain that we have to pedal backward in order to go forward.


Anonymous said...

However, an Engineer, due to training, is more likely to detect scientific fallacies, like; fusion in a bottle, perpetual motion and CO2 induced climate change.

Hardy Cross

Ethan Vishniac said...

@Hardy Amusing. More likely than whom? Engineers are, for social reasons, more likely to embrace rightwing fantasies about science, like creationism and climate change denialism.

Technical training is always a good asset though. Most engineers reject both.


Anonymous said...

One good thing:

Engineers are a very humble lot and (quite unlike physicists) are not under any delusions that they know everything about stuff outside their area of education, training and expertise.

And they tend to remain as quiet as anonymice on the latter (not an electron is stirring...)


toto said...

Actually, John Abraham would simply tear off his shirt, show off his perfect abs, and stare down the opposition into dumbfounded silence before setting off into the sunset with Priyanka Chopra.

(We're talking about this John Abraham, right?)

Anonymous said...

Engineers are more likely to embrace rightwing ideas because they will make more money under a conservative form of government than a liberal one.


creationism and global warming have nothing in common. Furthermore, there are many holes in evolution. Frankly, you and the team are the real climate change deniers because you don't compare anything to the historical record. You've taken 150 years of data and are arrogantly trying to force your opinion of this data on the rest of the world.

Anonymous said...


oh yeah, who was it that got caught editing the medieval warm period on wikipedia? That wasn't a skeptic was it? No, it was true believer William Connolley.

Anonymous said...

I made the mistake of visiting the House of Curry, and followed some links from Curry's laudatory description of Lindzen's talk (and having _been_ to one of Lindzen's talks in person, I find it hard to think that there is anything of laudatory content in there). Some interesting quotes from delving into the rabett-hole...

First, David Wojick, Climate Educator: "I am not convinced that the CO2 increase has caused any warming, nor that the CO2 increase is due to human emissions. So I certainly do not agree with AGW, in any form." While this was in 2010, this one quote pretty much demolishes his (already non-existent) credentials as someone who should receive money for creating a climate curriculum: if you can't accept that the CO2 increase is due to human emissions, you are pretty much in Moon-landing-denial territory. (comment from

Quote 2 is of note because Curry tries so hard to never let herself get pinned down on anything, and is so hard on anyone who doesn't acknowledge uncertainty in their conclusions: she states as "almost certain" something that I consider "likely wrong". "This is how I would do the analysis to determine the CO2 no feedback sensitivity. The number would almost certainly be less than 1C." from


ps. Hee! The anti-scientists really can't help themselves, can they? They reject the notion that creationism and climate-craziness are linked, and yet, feel the need to note that "Furthermore, there are many holes in evolution."

J Bowers said...

Is John Abraham tougher than Chuck Norris?

Anonymous said...

Looking at Harris' curriculum and then reading Hardy's inaugural comment on this thread is just too funny.

Good 'un, Hardy! Engineers often have a real gift for irony, as you imply.

Odd how this little imbroglio tickled so many philistines into showing up here to parade their ignorance. Touchy lot.

dhogaza said...

"creationism and global warming have nothing in common."

Other than an interesting overlap between those who deny evolution and those who deny the physics of climate science.

"Furthermore, there are many holes in evolution."

See? Point proven!

Anonymous said...

"there are many holes in evolution."

...but it's still not anywhere near as holy as Creationism.


Lars Karlsson said...

Engineers and creationism: the Salem Hypothesis.

Anonymous said...


you're denying the physics of climate science by believing that false positive feedbacks amplify
co2 warming by 400%.

Anonymous said...

Well color me stoopid.

I do believe, those who suffer from fixed delusions, to them, their perceptions and interpretations of events make perfect sense, and everyone else is crazy, irrational, ignorantly unconcerned or part of the conspiracy.

EliRabett said...

IEHO, having met a smattering of engineers who don't believe in conservation of energy, theory has a death grip on physicists and engineers have a death grip on theory.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

OK. I gotta ask, so it there's no positive feedback, then how do the small changes in insolation resulting from Milankovitch cycles translate into huge changes like ice ages and interglacials?

And how do we get 33 degrees of warming out of the pre-industrial greenhouse effect?

Please do enlighten us.

dhogaza said...

"And how do we get 33 degrees of warming out of the pre-industrial greenhouse effect? "

God created it that way. And in six days!

Alastair said...

As an engineer who does not believe in the conservation of energy, but rather that energy can be created from mass in the ratio of E = MC^2 does that put me beyond the pale of established science?

carrot eater said...

In the eternal words of (I think) Larry Summers, "There are idiots". Among both engineers and scientists.

Eli, your comment section is being overly infested by idiots.

Anonymous said...

I have a good friend who is an electrical engineer. He is convinced that climate change is a conspiracy, the conservation of energy and quantum mechanics are completely wrong, the corporations are hiding most of Nicolai Tesla's inventions and zero point energy is the answer to all our problems.

He is still very sucessful in his work. Not sure how though.


Hank Roberts said...

Oh, I thought when I saw the bicycle chain line that someone had discovered a Babbage mechanical climate model.

Got me all excited until I finished reading the post.

Martin Vermeer said...

As an engineer who does not believe in the conservation of energy, but rather that energy can be created from mass in the ratio of E = MC^2 does that put me beyond the pale of established science?

No, it puts you where you should get hold of a physics textbook again, preferably a good one. You don't create energy from mass, energy is mass. A hot tea kettle really is a little bit heavier than a cold one :-)

...and yes, I'm an engineer too.


The gospel according to Anonymous is that :

"you're denying the physics of climate science by believing that false positive feedbacks amplify co2 warming by 400%.:

The reality is that absent the real existence of those feedbacks, Earth's climate would be nowhere near as temperate.

Lindzen's problem is that he's dodging that reality in order to discount the models- better he should accept it, the better to conduct the policy debate on a scientifically level playing field.

EliRabett said...

Well yes, there are idiots, and as our recent economic situation shows Larry Summers is definitely an idiot. Frankly CE, Eli finds himself in the position of WGI, the problem is pretty well solved, and all that remains is mole whacking.

Michael Ashley said...

Chuck Norris and that actor-dude Abraham have got nothing on the real thing.

Check out the real John Abraham; and click on the image to read the excellent article.

Anonymous said...

"Engineers are, for social reasons, more likely to embrace rightwing fantasies about science, like creationism and climate change denialism."


An actual scientist would cite data for such an assertion.

Engineers are the only people who are gonna save all you scientists from global warming.

Indeed, my own carefully constructed and entirely random sample strongly suggests that both scientists and non-technical people are generally mendacious and embrace right wing fantasies, whereas engineers are rational.

It was made up of:

Lindzen, Curry, Palin, Singer and Pachauri.

VeryTallGuy (MEng, Chemical Engineering)

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Perhaps what should concern us all is that it seems quite possible to get an advanced degree in physics, engineering..., and indeed to suceed in a career in the above fields without having the foggiest notion of how science works!

Humans are not rational creatures, but rationalizing ones. Unless we subject our beliefs to scientific rigor, we risk self delusion with reassuring but ultimately unproductive fantasies.

Ethan Vishniac said...

First, I want to assure people that I did not pay the commenter at 8:26 to prove my point.

Second, my comment is only partly due to the Salem Hypothesis. I have also read that engineers are about 7x as likely to be right wing and religious as other academics (US only). This could lead to creationism and global warming denial through social pressures that have nothing to do, per se, with engineering.

Fully disclosure, I am married to an engineer. Also, I went to graduate school with Sallie Baliunas, who is living proof that being an astronomer does not make you immune to this problem.


Anonymous said...

Inspired by Doug's comment:

Anonymous said...

Further to Other Anonymous

Professor Jim Harrison, a former mechanical engineer who found that a commitment to chaos and irrationality was an impediment to building functional bridges, is looking forward to starting his new job.

More, but swallow your beer first.

Carleton University appoints controversial Professor of Dadaist Geology

tonylearns said...

pretty sure Harrison is a follower of Sokol's
This is a field that has had over 17 years to mature.

Anonymous said...

Larry Sumers is the poster boy for the DK effect (and Alan Greenspan the former poster boy)