The CIS and delusionism

As I mentioned a couple of posts back, the claim that mainstream science is totally wrong about global warming is an orthodoxy that is almost universal among commentators, bloggers and thinktanks on the political right in Australia, even though the great majority of ordinary Australians, including Coalition supporters, believe the science.

The great majority of Australian take the view that, while scientists aren’t always right, it’s much better to act on the basis of the best available science than to assume that the scientists are wrong. For this, they are attacked by rightwing commentators as religious fanatics or, at best gullible innocents.

One limited exception to this appeared to be the Centre for Independent Studies. A while back Andrew Norton got stuck into Clive Hamilton for listing CIS in the delusionist camp on the basis of some fairly tenuous links. As Norton observed, the CIS had never published much on the topic (though what it did publish was in line with delusionist orthodoxy) and had published nothing since 2003.

CIS has made up for it now, with this piece by Arthur Herman (also published, less surprisingly, in the Oz). It’s got everything – “global warming as a religion”, Al Gore conspiracy theories, Godwin’s Law violations on eugenics, the Spanish Inquisition and so on, backed up by some typically dodgy Internet factoids. As with much in this genre, it’s important to note the call for the replacement of science, as it currently exists, with “real science” in which people like Herman (self-described as “an historian and author”) will lay down the rules.

What’s striking here is the contrast between the willingness of just about everyone on the political right to sign up to a set of beliefs that are dictated entirely by political tribalism and their self-perception as brave heretics, spelt out in more than usually ludicrous fashion by Herman.

Tim Lambert does garbage pickup on Herman’s “facts”. Strikingly, given that he’s supposed to be an (sic) historian, Herman seems to have a lot of trouble with dates and references. And there’s more from Nexus 6 and Gary Sauer-Thompson.

Update: In a comment from Jennifer Marohasy it was announced that Michael Duffy was willing to give $1000 to anyone who would nominate ““Some work/some research results that have been published in reputable scientific journals that:

1. examine the causal link between anthropogenic carbon dioxide and warming, and

2. quantify the extent of the warming from anthropogenic carbon dioxide. ”

Several people provided responses and, after coming back from my hiatus I wrote to Duffy asking the status of my offer. He replied “I asked Jennifer Marohasy about this, because she’s the one who needs to be satisfied. ” and appended a response from her indicating that she was, in fact, not satisfied.

From the original statement, I didn’t realise that Duffy meant to include “satisfactory to Jennifer Marohasy” as a term of the offer. Now that we’ve cleared that up, I think we can regard the offer as in line with the Socratic irony approach to scientific discussion.
There seems to have been something of a meltdown chez Marohasy, so I think we can take this offer as being off the table for all practical purposes

178 thoughts on “The CIS and delusionism

  1. We will just have to agree to disagree.

    yeah but it’s not my (or your) opinion that counts – it’s the countless numbers of qualified climatologists that you’re disagreeing with. I’m merely disagreeing with a lunatic fringe.

  2. Sorry Tony but it looks to me you accept unquestioningly the line fed to you from sources that have opinions you agree with. Real world evidence of warming abounds – ice loss, phenological shifts, borehole temperatures, ocean and surface temperatures – and basic physics and chemistry underpin the anthropogenic attribution. There’s been ample opportunity for alternative scientific explanations for those real world changes to emerge and no shortage of well resourced vested interests to see that the imagined resistance to “orthodoxy” won’t prevail, but none has. But is there any point in pointing this out to you? The capacity of science to find order within complex systems really shouldn’t be so hard to believe, but climate science’s detail is complex and can be hard to understand, whereas all that’s required to understand and believe the drivel that Marohasy writes is an absence of real knowledge and a lack of desire to look at what real scientists who actually do real science are saying.
    I’ll go on taking the opinions coming from NCAR, NASA, Hadley, CSIRO, NSIDC, NOAA – that actually study climate – over any of the lightweight fluff and puff you link to.
    The editors at the Australian really should be deeply ashamed for printing misleading drivel about such an important issue.

  3. Ken
    Scepticism about the science is warranted and healthy especially considering “climate science’s detail is complex” and it can hardly be described as transparent.

    Anyway talking about the Australian; in this article about Climate Porn Dominic here sums it up well;

    “First it’s scientists going for the research cash. Then its pollies going for the votes. Now it’s TV stations going for the audience and ad dollars. I am very sceptical of the climate change debate simply because scientiests are no longer practicing science, which is about continual testing of the hypothesis against facts. There is a large (and growing) bank of data that contradicts existing climate change models but the scientists are now choosing to ignore it and attack those who produced the data instead. But, despite my misgivings, I think it’s probably time I got on board. After all, there seems to be a buck in climate change for everyone. Time I started spruiking and got my share as well.”

    Maybe I should buy shares in Frigrite or the Hastie Group so I can cash in too!

  4. There is a large (and growing) bank of data that contradicts existing climate change models

    See, if this was true, then it actually does require a massive conspiracy to work, because of the nature of the system. Completely contradictory data is able to be published, and it is up to modellers to respond. The contradictory stuff isn’t getting published anywhere respectable, so there must be a conspiracy.

  5. “the lightweight fluff and puff ”


    “The contradictory stuff isn’t getting published anywhere respectable”,

    As Dominic said above in the Australian article ‘climate porn’ @6;52 am

    “the scientists are now choosing to ignore it and attack those who produced the data instead.” i.e now its shoot the messenger and the message.

    You guys can be convinced you know everything about; the temperature of the sun and the energy it emits, the temperature of the atmosphere, fluxing, forcing,ocean currents,palaeontology,holocene, gravitational effects,,etc etc,etc, etc and put it into a convenient number that strangely points to a new tax, but forgive me if I am sceptical .

  6. Thanks Tony for the pocket book political message. CO2 traps heat, fact.
    Whether its the sole reason for climate change or not is irrelevant it’s certainly not helping the situation.
    Theres obvious motivation for scientists and climate change believers to have a voice, which is clearly to avoid future catastrophies but what possible motivation is there for the so called “sceptics” to make such loud noises….
    Vested interests and investment income is the only answer i can think of.
    If the bigger picture is what “sceptics” are really on about then what do they care if the rest of us make an effort? Oh yeah it cost money.

    Its also interesting to note everytime you hear a “sceptic” banging on about how wrong science is they are of the age group that won’t be around long enough to find out what happens if they are wrong.

  7. Duffy’s money is safe.

    No one can come up with “work/some research results that have been published in reputable scientific journals that:

    1. examine the causal link between anthropogenic carbon dioxide and warming, and

    2. quantify the extent of the warming from anthropogenic carbon dioxide. ”

    Clearly the nexus between anthropogenic carbon dioxide and warming can not be proved, it can only be assumed.

    Worse still she ONLY asked for credible ‘work/research papers or citations to research papers, not links to opinions and blogs”.

    Obviously if something reputable existed Duffy’s money would be claimed by now. It HAS NOT been claimed and now all we hear is excuses.

  8. Tony, the IPCC’s own reports are nothing but literature reviews and are full of citations. The money was claimed several times over on Jennifer’s site. The problem is that the audience there has a counter-authority or other objection for every result which might otherwise be regarded as contributing towards a validation and quantification of AGW.

  9. It is a pretty simple task, some reputable science to back up the AGW assertion.

    If you are confident the evidence exists, it should be relatively simple to enforce the claim.

    IMHO the evidence doesn’t exist and that is why it has not been claimed.

    Surly this blog with its connections in academia (Legal, Scientific etc), it should be a simple task to enforce the claim. It hasn’t and only one conclusion can be drawn from that.

    Duffy’s money is safe.

  10. Tony G, Duffy’s money has been (legitimately) claimed by James Haughton and a few others, some days ago now. I believe James is thinking about pursuing Duffy for payment in the Small Claims Court. You really need to keep up.

  11. David,

    Duffy “offered A$1,000 to the first person”.

    Is this the first legitimate reference in a post made after Duffy put up the offer?

    Posted by: James Haughton at August 11, 2008 12:55 PM

    And is this the paper he will be using to convince the court?

    References for you:
    Callendar, G.S., 1938: The artificial production of carbon dioxide and its influence on temperature. Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc., 64, 223–237.

    Obviously, if he is successful with the claim a lot of ‘sceptics’, me included will be silenced, keep me and the world posted on James’ progress.

  12. Tony, why go through the strong case for AGW with someone who cultishly believes unsubstantiated drivel? When almost every working practitioner of a science tells you that’s how it is, you need extraordinary evidence to credibly deny it – which has not been forthcoming. The absorbtion and emission characteristics of CO2 are solid fact. The real world evidence of warming is factual. These fantasies about conspiracies to delude the world for short-term funding are bunk. To repeat myself -I’ll go on taking the opinions coming from NCAR, NASA, Hadley, CSIRO, NSIDC, NOAA – that actually study climate – over any of the lightweight fluff and puff you link to.

  13. Ken the evidence is there that Duffy has put up a $1000.

    If he doesn’t pay up he is liable for costs as well as the $1000.

    If it is as you say;

    “The real world evidence of warming is factual.”

    Then you should be able to produce the ‘scientific paper’ he requests to back up your claim.

    It appears it doesn’t exist.

    JQ says he is dealing directly with climate professionals so a single document should be available from them for the above mention transaction to be completed. If you guys are to timid to enforce the claim, produce the document so it can be assessed, so as to let someone else can get the cash..

    I’ll be back Monday I hope to see it then, bye

  14. Jesus! It’s like talking to a stubborn but stupid three-year-old.

    Tony G, I doubt if there is one single paper that proves AGW conclusively all on its own (although I’d be pleased to be proven wrong here), in the way for instance that Einstein’s paper explained the photoelectric effect. It’s more that there’s a vast, compelling weight of evidence and papers (summarised in the IPCC reports) which leads anyone who’s prepared to give it more than a nanosecond’s attention to believe that AGW is happening and it’s serious. As far as I can see, those who deny AGW think in much the same way as those who assert the earth is flat, that the sun goes around the earth, and that some god created the earth and all its species in 6 days about 6,000 years ago.

    As has been explained before, Duffy did not, in fact, make the offer in good faith (it’s a bit like Bolt’s “Name just ten!!1!” shtick). He’s very low on intellectual honesty, so would refuse to pay up no matter how compelling the evidence.

  15. I’ll up the stakes Tony. $5000 if you can produce a peer-reviewed journal article proving to my satisfaction that 2+2=4. If you can’t deliver, I’ll just have to conclude that climate sceptics can’t add up.

  16. It is quite perplexing that someone with a BA (1st Class Honours in Mathematics) would need proof that 2+2=4. (Maybe it is because he received his degree for free from the taxpayer, and like anything for free it is worth nothing).

    Tarski, Alfred, “A simplified formalization of predicate logic with identity,” Archiv für Mathematische Logik und Grundlagenforschung, 7:61-79, 1965 [QA.A673];p. 77, system S2

    Or reproduced as system S3 in Section 6 of Megill, N., “A Finitely Axiomatized Formalization of Predicate Calculus with Equality,” Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic, 36:435-453, 1995 [QA.N914]. HERE $35 US.

    The complete proof of 2 + 2 = 4 involves 2,452 subtheorems, These have a total of 25,933 steps, do you want me to to verify the proof by hand in complete detail all the way back to the axioms, and then you review them before you cough up?

    For your convenience I will email you my BSB and Account number.

  17. 2 + 2 = 0. Sorry, Tony (#166).

    The complete (commutative) addition table is:
    0 + 0 = 0
    1 + 0 = 1
    2 + 0 = 2
    3 + 0 = 3
    1 + 1 = 2
    1 + 2 = 3
    1 + 3 = 0
    2 + 2 = 0
    2 + 3 = 1

    All seems in order, yet 2 + 2 /= 4. 😦

  18. Donald, further to your most excellent proof that 2 + 2 = 0, numerical analysts will, of course, be aware that 2 + 2 = 5, for sufficiently large values of 2 (finite-precision arithmetic, of course). I could prove it, but the margins of this blog are insufficient …

  19. He asked for “4” but you guys can prove whatever number you feel like, that doesn’t mean you can prove AGW.

    A trait when losing the debate is to change the subject isn’t it?

    Lets get back on track then.

    Duffy’s unqualified offer is safe, the nexus between between anthropogenic carbon dioxide and warming is delusional and Sydney and the rest of Australia just experienced its coldest recorded august in 65 years according to the BOM.

  20. “The complete proof of 2 + 2 = 4 involves 2,452 subtheorems, These have a total of 25,933 steps, do you want me to to verify the proof by hand in complete detail all the way back to the axioms, and then you review them before you cough up?”

    Of course – that’s the point of this kind of exercise, as our Jen could tell you. But before you do that, make sure that the result is derived from a complete and consistent axiomatisation of arithmetic.

  21. Wonderful, Prof Q. Herr Doktor Goedel has his uses.

    I’ve been waiting for some idiot to point out this has been an exceptionally cold winter, btw, and right on queue, Tony G lives down to my expectations.

  22. Maybe that Mathematics BA is worth more than you paid for it, that coupled with your government funded ability to infinitely postulate about theorems and 2+2, it is unlikely that it would be cost effective for me to meet the hurdle of your “satisfaction”. I will just have to try and minimise the tax I pay from this end, rather than trying to get $5000 of it back directly from you.
    Any way thanks for the offer.

    Those idiots to “point out this has been an exceptionally cold winter” in fact the coldest in 64 years are the BOM and climate scientists/meteorologists like Matt Pearce . Yes they are using the same weather station readings in their models to predict global warming, idiotic isn’t it.

  23. Tony G, Prof Q alluded to Kurt Goedel’s ground-breaking paper, “On some problems with Principia Mathematica” (or something – my copy is not to hand), in which he proved that any consistent formal system which is powerful enough to deal with elementary arithmetic is incomplete. To summarise, such a system will contain statements which are true but not provable.

    As to the cold winter, I should have specified that you’d claim it proves that AGW is either not happening, or has stopped. The BOM has made no such claim, as far as I’m aware.

  24. In the game of pedantic semantics the answer to a question is usually a question.

    A cold (or hot) winter proves nothing. That is the point you people are missing.

  25. #173 Umm, you do realise that the “offer” was meant to get this reaction, which, of course, applies exactly to Duffy’s “offer”.

    Also, any further personal snarks (eg government-funded) will result in an immediate and permanent ban.

  26. Of course, Tony, you don’t really have to be snarky to be censored here. Although in point of fact, our genial host, an Australian Research Council Federation Fellow, does seem to be government funded.

    No, just try to post some information that contradicts one of his more out there predictions, such as, and he will claim he didn’t see it, or that it was spam. Like he claimed here starting at 9.20 Aug 18.

    Here’s another try at what I was attempting to post.

    Your comments trigger either automoderation or the spam filter because they have too many links. But if I had a filter for already-abandoned delusionist talking points, that would have been triggered as well. And, since you’ve chosen to be deliberately insulting, I’m happy to announce your immediate and permanent ban. JQ

  27. Sorry John,
    We can see you have your hands full with snarks due to the position you take on certain issues.

    I apologise for any “personal snarks (eg government-funded)” and retract such statements. I will contain myself in the future.

    Anyway, while we are on the subject of tax, or more specifically increasing existing ones or introducing new ones like a carbon tax .

    Today has been a joyous one because The ‘revenue lobby’ (comprising the ATO, the Treasury and their allies in politics, academia, the media and the welfare industry) have had their attempt to increase their filthy tax defeated in the Senate. Senator Fielding has stood up to the “excesses of government”.

    I hope he keeps up the good work, because the tax bill is just one of five that the government has to negotiate through a hazardous Senate.

    This bodes well for the rational side of the AGW debate. Hopefully the ETS tax grab is stayed for 3 years in a hostile senate. With a little bit of luck by that time this global warming nonsense will be disproved.

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