Thursday, September 26, 2013

Established Science

In which Eli goes all Frank Luntz on the bunnies and takes up the wordsmith's burden and suggests nixing the phrase settled science and taking up established science. Why you ask?

In the approach to the WG1 rollout, the Flat Earthers are going all wingnut again about "settled science" and have stirred up the Aunties, including the editor of Nature.  Well, yes young'en, there ain't no such thing as science somebunny can't ask questions about, but there are certainly questions about which it is pretty clearly recognized that asking the questions displays a certain lack of learning, or others where the cost benefit analysis says that working to get an answer is somewhere between betting your life on double zero in roulette and spitting into the wind although more fun.

Now there is a use for people who ask such questions, especially in the period when something is moving between an area of active inquiry and of interest only to folks who mutter into tattered notebooks of scribble, e.g. the sky dragons of past amusement. 

Eli has a friend at another place of more renown who has two colleagues, both rather well known.  When he has a question, he puts it to both of them.  From one he gets the wrong answer for the right reason, from the other the right answer for the wrong reason.  Since Eli's friend knows who is what, he ends up with the combination he needs, but what really is amusing is someone who gives you the wrong answer for the wrong reason.

Richard Lindzen is a prime example of such a person, who by learning ain't a dummy, but has always got it wrong, but on the way, for example the Iris hypothesis, drives others to find interesting science.  Ray P laid this out clearly in his 2012 Tyndall lecture (start at 35:00 in the video)

It's OK to be wrong, and Dick is a smart person, but most people don't really understand that one way of using your intelligence is to spin ever more clever ways of deceiving yourself, ever more clever ways of being wrong, and that's OK because if you are wrong in an interesting way that advances the science,  I think it's great to be wrong and he has made a career of being wrong in interesting ways about climate science.
What is wrong about this is that increasingly for Lindzen the wrong appears to be driven by a desperation to be right about something and taken on an increasingly political tinge and.  Which brings us to established science.

There is no doubt that there are many things about climate science that are well established and that only the cranks dispute, this is the consensus.  Established science is what the IPCC uses when it says that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten the environment in which we live.  And, of course, please send Eli a carrot when you talk about Established Science


Anonymous said...

Established Science = Establishment Science; Establishment = Government. Thus Established (Consensus) Science = Conspiracy for One World Government.

Bloody Commie Scientists.


Catmando said...


I think AnonySpilopsylla's comment proves that the captcha can be cracked by randomly hitting keys. I can't think that the comment given is in any way the product of an intelligent sentient being.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, did I forget to put a smiley at the end of the post?

Evidently my sarcasm fell on at least one pair of deaf furry ears.

Perhaps catmando should go back to decimating the small mammal population (*

*more badly targetted humour - hoping people will lighten up once AR5 is out...


Catmando said...

Sorry I do have a sarcasm problem. I don't spot it well. My hunting habits go only so far as small furry deniers, like the Monckton (Weaselus liar) and the Watts (Willarus antonius.

John Mashey said...


The problem with your sarcasm is that some us see this sort of thing all too often from people who 100% mean it. In studying a recent blog storm, I've seen 100s of similar comments....

Brian Dodge said...

"...some us see this sort of thing all too often from people who 100% mean it."

That's not a problem; that's a feature of a well written Poe.(Poerody?) see

"Poe's law, in broader form, is:

Without a blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of extremism or fundamentalism that someone won't mistake for the real thing."

Tired of reading BS said...

Established science is what the IPCC uses when it says that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten the environment in which we live.
I'm pretty sure you mean established political rhetoric… :)

Anonymous said...


Try writing less of it, then.

Taylor B

John Mitchell said...

Lindzen and his ilk, working to be "oppositional researchers" against the IPCC, are working with conservative media to provide an echochamber of deceit. This is a proven strategy for furthering the agenda of special interests who wish to stall or halt regulatory action against their (deadly) products.

While Lindzen is wrong, and becoming more wrong. What we need to be discussing is how the IPCC is self-limiting their discussion and that there is about 50/50 chance that their estimates for climate sensitivity and carbon cycle feedbacks are off by a significant amount, leading to a potential doubling of their warming estimates by 2050.