The relative rationality of Malcolm Roberts

Among other interesting results, the recent election gave a Senate seat to One Nation member Malcolm Roberts. Roberts is notable for his expressed belief that global warming is a fraud produced by a global conspiracy of bankers seeking to establish a worldwide government through the United Nations.

Unsurprisingly, Roberts has copped a lot of flak for these statements. But his position seems to me to be more credible than that of the average “sceptic”.

I’ll take, Don Aitkin as an example of the kind of sceptic generally seen as more credible than conspiracy theorists like Roberts. Among other indicators of credibility, Aitkin has an AO, he’s a former Vice-Chancellor, and was Chairman of the Australian Research Grants Committee (predecessor of the Australian Research Council) and a member of the Australian Science and Technology Council. His own academic background was in history and political science. As far as I can tell he has no training or research background in either statistics or natural science of any kind.

Given his background, you’d expect Aitkin to be aware of the years of training required to become an academic expert in any field, and the ease with which amateurs can get things badly wrong. But in his writing on climate change he expresses supreme confidence in his own ability to assess the work of thousands of scientists and pronounce it wanting. As he says

here wasn’t much abstruse science in the global warming issue. A bit of radiative physics, a bit of solar physics, a lot of data of various kinds, large GCMs — global circulation models — and a good deal of extrapolation

All in an afternoon’s work for a retired academic administrator, it seems. No wonder VCs are so highly paid!

Unsurprisingly, we discover that what Aitkin actually disliked was

the message: a set of policies about curbing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the use of fossil fuels.

.

So, according to Aitkin, the entire discipline of climate science, backed up by every major scientific organization in the world, is engaged in a transparent fraud, has, in the service a political agenda, published false research, easily seen through by a retired political scientist and his circle of emeritus colleagues. They have succeeded in persuading every national government in the world to sign on to agreements based on this fraud misrepresentation of the facts. And to what end? To change the way we generate electricity, or maybe to shift a few research grants from one field to another. The disproportion between effort and goal is akin to using a nuclear-powered piledriver to crack a peanut.

And the same, more or less, is true of most of the relativel respectable “sceptics”. There simply isn’t enough payoff to explain the gigantic effort that’s gone into constructing the global scientific consensus on climate science.

By contrast, once you accept Malcolm Roberts’ premises, the rest makes sense. Suppose there is a gigantic conspiracy to establish a world government. Then suborning a few thousand scientists and dozens of scientific academies, all the weather bureaus in the world and the entire mass media (except for the Murdoch press) would be child’s play. The only question is when the black helicopters will land.

292 thoughts on “The relative rationality of Malcolm Roberts

  1. I confess I’m not able to understand all the science. As a layperson, it is difficult. But I understand and accept the peer review process and scientific consensus. Theories are proved or disproved by facts. It is unusual to have a body of evidence and chuck it out saying “yeah but”. As I understand it, accepting and acting on climate science is a hedged bet. If true, we are less exposed, if not, then, we have little environmental downside but a significant shift in the source of energy generation. Don Aitken et al might be winning debating points in a irrelevant space, but the world is moving along. I take heart in Mr Hunt’s volt-face. And the rest of that duplicitous mob. Times they are a changin’.

  2. @drsusancalvin

    “Theories are proved or disproved by facts.” Almost, but not quite. Some facts are bigger (deeper?) than others. If your facts require a violation of the laws of thermodynamics, for instance, then it is dead certain your facts are wrong. For those laws are intrinsic to the functioning of the universe. At bottom, climate science rests on very deep understandings of energy flows. We know from those understandings and from direct measurement that more energy is entering the earth’s atmosphere than leaving. The hard bit is to know where it ends up, how it moves around and how fast it causes changes. That it will cause changes is not in doubt.

  3. PeterT,

    You are confusing facts with theories. If information is reconciled with the laws of physics then it is a fact, if the reconciliation is incomplete then it is a theory. It is pretty clear that most of the surplus energy is going into the oceans. Science is not confused about any of this, are you?

    DrSusanC,

    That is all any of us can do, and you are completely correct in that facing the challenge, if even as a contingency, we are so much better off as we have advanced technology dramatically in a positive direction. The number of new fields of endeavour that have opened up due to climate action are staggering, and this is all employment for our bright young minds, I don’t see any downside in this.

  4. You are confusing facts with theories.

    Bil. There’s an academic discipline called “epistemology”; there are people, smart people, who spend literally years at uni, postgrad, studying the distinctions you just handwaved away without thinking.

    It may possibly be more complex than you think. It might possibly be that your untrained [how can I tell!?] intuitions might be less useful than the knowledge — trained or untrained — of others: it might possibly be that your input on the exact relationship between “fact” and “theory” might maybe be less than a positive addition to the discussion.

    Can we not have you being dogmatic on this, please? You’re underqualified, and even if you weren’t it’s not knowledge that’s useful here.

  5. I mean, I have literally zero formal philosophy background and I can tell you’re wrong, or at least not usefully correct. Your contribution may not be the most useful addition on this sub-topic, perhaps.

  6. @drsusancalvin

    I’m with you without quibbling about facts vs theory when everyone knows that the meaning of words is not a science or is it? Is there a consensus or did I miss something in philosophy of science?

    Who could possibly imagine that they had the intellectual capacity to understand enough of climate science unless they were actively working in the discipline? The people who do imagine they have such extraordinary intelligence or some as yet unidentified abilities do not seem to have any track record of outstanding abilities in their own discipline or former careers. Probably they missed their true calling and would have been brilliant if they had been fortunate enough to have chosen to do teal climate science.

    One of the very rare real Christians I know, slightly, is an old climate change denying farmer and he has arrived at an interesting conclusion about it. He doesn’t care if it is us or not, it would be better all round if people stopped ‘consuming’ and expecting so much so we should do what it takes to stop all the mining and polluting the water table. Something like that.

  7. I take it that you are a religious person, Collin Street.

    Underqualified? I am totally under qualified. Everything I say here by my definition is theory, simply because I can’t prove any of it myself directly. But that does not make me wrong.

    JulieT, the basic mechanisms of climate are not that complicated. Heating air makes it less dense (lighter) and it rises…heavier more dense air moves in to take its place, continuously. Air density difference 0 to 35C is about 11% (lighter), air with 10% moisture at the same temperature is about 4% lighter than dry air. So warm air rises, warm moist air rises even faster, the greater the amount of energy (Global Warming…Oceans) the greater the atmospheric turnover rate ie climate variation (change).

    http://slideplayer.com/slide/5835767/

    What is extremely complicated is quantifying climate, proving climate theory, and predicting future climate outcomes. This is the territory where the doubt mongers, the denialists, operate against climate scientists.

    As far as I am concerned I have a duty of care to my daughters. Qualified or not I make every attempt to understand what is going on with the environment, and make responsible decisions.

  8. @BilB

    It’s just counter-productive to argue with ‘them’ about the science.

    Clearly, the whole concept of climate science as a consensus and a collaborative effort is some sort of trigger for irrational feeling of resentment, a twisted way to get over their ordinary-ness – Freud’s reaction formation could be relevant – that drives the impulse to demonstrate their uniqueness that has been unnoticed until this opportunity to demonstrate their superior ability to do science and understand what is going on.

    You can’t cure them by arguing facts or theories that violate their own self-assessment as having special insights.

    Of course your brain is different to mine but I know for me to understand climate change science at the level required to refute the cherry picking and misleading arguments that the deniers present would mean doing another PhD and I think it is more useful at this stage of the debate to understand the psychology.

  9. “Denialists seem somewhat rational at first: they form denials in accordance with the fragment of evidence that they actually have seen, even if the overall weight of the evidence is against them.

    On this view, there’s not much of a puzzle. The denial is rational in light of the evidence that they know. Perhaps they think thoughts like this: ‘Richard Lindzen holds that climate change hasn’t been proven, so—given his scientific authority—it is rational for me not to believe in it.’ Or: ‘The polar ice caps grew in size from September 2007 to September 2009, so it is rational to believe they are not melting.’ Is this what’s going on?

    Let’s call this the Rationalizing Reconstruction of denialist psychology: the fragment of evidence they know causes the denier’s belief.

    If the Rationalizing Reconstruction is right, denialists simply need to be cured by more evidence.

    They only have some evidence—so the story goes—but a broader array will fix this and hence fix their apparently irrational beliefs. Point out to them that the overall size of the ice caps has decreased 20% since 1979.

    Point out that there are many more scientists who affirm that climate change has been demonstrated to a high degree of confidence. And in light of this evidence, they’ll change their minds, right?

    The problem with this model is that we know its hoped for solution doesn’t work. As Dan Kahan has shown, simply giving denialists more evidence doesn’t get them to change their minds. And perhaps we should have expected this, in light of the results on motivated reasoning that Ziva Kunda brought to light in 1990.

    The natural thing to say, of course, is that the evidence just doesn’t matter to the denialists. They don’t care about it one bit. Call this the Pure Motivation view of denialist psychology.

    But this view leaves something out. Many climate change deniers have an intense focus on various bits evidence about climate change. Lord Monckton and James Inhofe, in their presentations, do come equipped with pertinent facts, albeit facts that have been cherry picked and misleadingly arranged. And the Pure Motivation is unable to account for this fascination with at least some of the evidence.

    So we have a dilemma. If the Rationalizing Reconstruction is correct, we can’t explain why the denialists’ views don’t change in light of more data. If the Pure Motivation view is correct, we can’t explain why they pay attention to evidence as much as they do.”

    More here: http://www.philosophytalk.org/community/blog/neil-van-leeuwen/2015/04/psychology-climate-change-denial

  10. Understanding the psychology, I agree completely. To that end a comment up thread made me realise that there is a possible connection for some in the religious right between their belief in the mystical nature of a God and Nature. God commands the weather. Perhaps climate science threatens their basic faith. If the weather can be explained away, their God becomes less significant. Is this a bridge too far.

    For me, though, I don’t shy away from an exchange of knowledge. I actually learn far more from them as I need to research continuously, and with the application of a little bit of logical thought and common sense I find the denialist arguments vaporise. That is possibly why I have been banned from 4 Libertarian sites. My experience has been that for those who are just tagging along with the denialist line it only takes some basic knowledge that can be verified from local observation to get people thinking in a way that leads them to doubt the doubtmongers.

    Psychology though, what can you tell us about the mindset of Tony Abbott and his hard core of denialist ministers, and how should we have coped with them?

  11. “So we have a dilemma. If the Rationalizing Reconstruction is correct, we can’t explain why the denialists’ views don’t change in light of more data. If the Pure Motivation view is correct, we can’t explain why they pay attention to evidence as much as they do”

    For the likes of Monkton, and a large clutch of others, this is a living for them. Our target has to be those people who pay the Monktons to do their tours or run their blog sites. The greatest pariahs are those who are paid by governments to peddle their poison. We have Abbott and his cohorts, and now Malcolm Roberts. What we need to know from our psychologists is why is this so prevalent in the neo liberals, libertarians, and the religious right? And then, how do we tackle Murdoch and his press.

  12. @Julie Thomas

    Climate change denialists are simply too threatened by the concept that nature is not an all-nurturing mother-wife who will always provide no matter what abuse is dished out to her. Climate change denialists are stuck at an infantile stage in personality and intellectual formation such that the fantasy of the compliance of the world to their wishes has to be maintained against all the evidence of reality.

  13. @BilB

    “Psychology though, what can you tell us about the mindset of Tony Abbott and his hard core of denialist ministers, and how should we have coped with them?”

    lol I think the only thing to do with this sort of stupid white male is not create them through sexist child raising practices and those bastions of white male privilege, expensive ‘christian’ private schools. I think once this personality disorder is in place, there is no insight going to happen because these people are lacking in ’empathy’ or more accurately, imho, the ability to put themselves fully in the shoes of another. How they got that way may be because in their narrow upbringings fully of propaganda about Western Civilisation and white superiority and so often weird beliefs about women and men and sex, they never had the opportunity to actually experience the events that others of us have had to deal with.

    I think that some humans, need to actually experience things – perhaps they missed out on understanding some abstract things, like ‘infinity’ and ‘relativity’? Although the human brain is more plastic than we used to think, it still seems to be that if a child is not exposed to abstract and complex concepts, during their formative years, they don’t understand this way of thinking. It used to be called concrete thinking.

    And denial is a living for a lot of them but that is another thing they won’t admit even to themselves and ‘abusing’ them – lol such petals they are about abuse – creates even more of a reaction formation in which they ‘know’ they are not venal and money grubbing so they use that as more evidence that anyone who accuses them of that, is wrong about that and so wrong about climate change science.

    Personality disorders are regarded as untreatable.

  14. That is a good article, Julie. I think, though, that psychologists are being too PC, and giving too much benefit of the doubt in assuming denialist activists to be regular people.

    It takes a certain kind of personality to construct and deliver bare faced lies continuously, and why do these people do this? That is the question psychologists should be considering.

  15. Good on you, Julie…

    “there is no insight going to happen because these people are lacking in ’empathy’ or more accurately, imho, the ability to put themselves fully in the shoes of another”

    …you got to the core of it. The only bit missing is the understanding of, in the absence of empathy, what drives such people. From my experience, and I have had multiple very close experiences with these people, they get their rewards from the manipulation of other people, in the service of their own self interests. David Marr spelt it out in his book on Abbott where he shows that

    “In this dramatic portrait, David Marr shows that Tony Abbott thrives on chaos and conflict”

    …how many dots need to be joined before we realise that we are dealing with the far end of the empathy spectrum deep into the sociopaths, but not as far as the psychopaths.

  16. @BilB

    ” The only bit missing is the understanding of, in the absence of empathy, what drives such people.”

    What drives us all? What would humans desire, want or need if there was no culture to shape the impulses that one can see in as yet unsocialised young children?

    I think that climate change deniers are humans like the rest of us. If they have to resort to these dysfunctional ways of being in the universe, it is clear to me that like the rest of us they do not deliberately objectively choose what they will be when they grow up and the state of our culture or society is such that there is no attraction for them in cooperating to make a better world.

    If it wasn’t disrespectful and inappropriate to pity people, I would feel sorry for them for not realising how transparent their disordered thinking is and how silly it is for them to ‘feel’ superior about their inability to understand how and why other humans do find happiness in cooperating with each other rather than making war on others.

  17. Oh, Julie, you really are tooooo empathetic.

    I recall hearing the account of two British women who were married, each with children, to the same sociopath and how their worlds collapsed when they discovered each other because their money (properties sold) that was feeding the man ran out. A very common experience.

    One of my favourite stories is from a guy who was lured to work for a psychopath, where he worked for the same pay but ever longer hours and on to seven days a week lured on by the promise of a huge Christmas bonus. So when the urgent job was finally finished half way through Christmas Day the guy said “where is my bonus” to which the path replied “oh! that wasn’t for this year”. The guy finally understood, but this was after his personal relationships had collapsed due to the extreme hours.

    We are really in trouble when we elect these people as leaders.

  18. ol I think the only thing to do with this sort of stupid white male is not create them through sexist child raising practices and those bastions of white male privilege, expensive ‘christian’ private schools. I think once this personality disorder is in place, there is no insight going to happen because these people are lacking in ’empathy’ or more accurately, imho, the ability to put themselves fully in the shoes of another. How they got that way may be because in their narrow upbringings fully of propaganda about Western Civilisation and white superiority and so often weird beliefs about women and men and sex, they never had the opportunity to actually experience the events that others of us have had to deal with.

    My thinking works something like this:

    If you’re sufficiently subaltern, you’ll have no damned choice but to learn how other people think. It’s only the privileged who develop “pathology” from “atypical neurology”.

    [and the neurology is largely genetic, which means that your chances of early intervention are hampered by the parents having similar life-long problems that “never did me any harm”. Note that Not All Rich Bastards]

    The neurology is widely distributed, but it only turns into “cannot learn, thinks he knows everything” among the children of the privileged. Largely the straight, white male children of the privileged, ’cause the queers, the women and the non-white weren’t always privileged enough for this effect and mostly ran into enough bigotry to require that they started thinking of minimisation strategies before they turned 13.

    Also, it turns out that being a narcissistic arsehole that can’t be taught leads to significantly more-negative-than-they-would-otherwise-be social outcomes. Which leads to resentment and frustration [which can turn into violence: thus, fascism]

    So. The solution, long-term:
    + universal childhood mental/cognitive assessments
    + end “elite” fee-paying schools, or other hothouse environments that feed children “you are awesomer than others” lines
    + destigmatise downward social mobility
    As a practical matter the last would probably involve reductions in lifestyle differences between the rich and the poor; this is a good idea anyway, but isn’t strictly required to solve the instant problem.

    Or such is my thinking.

  19. Good conclusions, Collin Street. Interesting that you mention the age 13. I have heard a number of times that the age 15 is an important developmental stage for empathy in boys. If the environment is brutal then empathy development is retarded.

    I support all of your solution points.

    I would however suggest the introduction of the understanding through inquisitive learning programme (philosophy) developed at the University of NSW into preschools and primary schools.

    This programme is proven to increase tolerance, empathy , IQ and educational outcomes in children.

  20. “And the Pure Motivation is unable to account for this fascination with at least some of the evidence.’

    I’m not seeing this. If someone wants to participate in an argument they have to have something to say. Given a predetermined conclusion, this means a demand for “talking points” (this is the term used within US politics). Monckton isn’t interested in the evidence in the sense of seeking to test it against reality, he just wants something to say.

  21. Julie Thomas :
    @BilB
    ” The only bit missing is the understanding of, in the absence of empathy, what drives such people.”
    What drives us all? What would humans desire, want or need if there was no culture to shape the impulses that one can see in as yet unsocialised young children?

    Nothing, because they would be dead. It is an inherent biological fact about human beings that they are utterly dependent for survival through the early years of life on a relationship with older human beings which necessarily has the effect of socialising and acculturating them. There is and can be no such thing as the biological nature of human beings independent of social and cultural influences, because culture is an inextricable part of human biological nature.

  22. If someone wants to participate in an argument they have to have something to say.

    We actually can’t assume that: having “something to say” is linguistic pragmatics, and pragmatics is severely impacted by empathy disturbances. “Say” requires for example an understanding that your audience is made up of people-just-like-you.

    [“right-wingers argue funny” was the clew that lead me to my conclusions]

  23. I would however suggest the introduction of the understanding through inquisitive learning programme (philosophy) developed at the University of NSW into preschools and primary schools.

    If we’re going to do some life-skills stuff, then there are probably “this is what you do to improve things when you’re in a social group dominated by crazy people” techniques we could probably add. Kids these days are actually better at this stuff, I think: the knowledge is widely available on the internet, but adding it to the formal curriculum could help.

    Also, it’s difficult to teach the “why am I thinking this” self-reflection techniques you learn in counselling absent an actual pressing-burden problem, but enough people are depressed in adolescence you might be able to manage it. Really, really useful for self-improvement, and the earlier you get started the less you have to unlearn.

  24. @John Quiggin

    The talking points that monkton and co use are irrelevant afaict to the real discussion they are having, which is who is the smartest man in the room. Spangled drongo and the Neville drongo on DonAitkin’s site, have decided Don is smarter than them so they defer to his special knowledge and isn’t the obsequious pandering cute? Don seems to accept it as his due.

    It is the effort they expend that convinces them that they do have a point to make.

    They use whatever it takes to win an argument because at some level they feel inadequate and this is an opportunity to show off their specialness that has never before been acknowledged.

  25. CollinS,

    The key proponent of this is Lynne Hinton. Here she is being interviewed and talking about the programme and how it works

  26. BilB It’s not too much empathy that I have.

    It is rationality that leads me to the conclusion that climate change deniers are damaged people in need of our understanding and help as is anyone else who has a condition that limits their ability to participate fully in the happiness and satisfaction that life offers to people who love their neighbour, man and woman, and are prepared to be the first to do unto others.

    You know tit for tat? How can we build a society in which most people would do the good thing – is it tit or tat? – first rather than the one we have now in which most people would do the bad thing first off?

    I try not to comment when I’m aware that I am unable to be rational which is not to say that my posts are always rational. I do like irrationality sometimes. I know my insights into own self are necessarily biased but I have worked on not learning not to respond to deniers with the disgust and outrage that I do feel for them or for the harm that they do.

    You don’t see the unempathetic me. It helps to have psychologists as friends – free therapy. 🙂

  27. @Julie Thomas

    Doesn’t “tit for tat” imply one bad act for another? Often, it has the further implication that both acts are petty. On the other hand “quid pro quo” means something given or granted in return for something else. The further implication is that the values are roughly equatable. Occasionally, quid pro quo might have a negative implication more like the meaning of giving payola.

    As for a way for getting more people to be good (and defining what good is), well that’s the biggest social question isn’t it? It starts with being kind rather than cruel and encouraging the former over the latter. That’s just a motherhood and apple pie statement from me of course. Cruel people, like Trump, are made by systems which give them too much power. Step one, never give any individual too much power relative to the power of all other individuals. Flatten hierarchies and wealth pyramids as much as possible (certainly much, much more than our current system). Where competency or merit require hierarchies (as they pragmatically do for the best possible results) ensure that hierarchy power largely subsists only in the arena of the competency, with proper checks and balances, and that otherwise the citizen is still equal to all other citizens. Ensure that reward for merit is more about peer recognition and not so much about higher salaries. Ensure that more money (already flattened anyway by measures as above) does not buy more justice. Easy to say. Tricky to get our society from here to there.

  28. Having spent hours reading this post and all the associated comments, I can draw only one conclusion.

    Economists are entitled to their views but they should never pretend to be experts on science. After all, economists’ ability to predict the future has always been notoriously flawed. One would think that this would make them sceptical of scientists who claim to be able to do so. But apparently not in this case.

    Good scientists are always sceptical. Scientists (and economists) committed to scenarios based on climate models, have lost their objectivity, and therefore should not be trusted.

  29. @Peter S

    Somtimes future events are hard to predict. Sometimes they can be reliably predicted with great accuracy. Scientists regularly make reliable predictions of astronomical events such as eclipses, for example; likewise, any decent chemistry teacher makes predictions of the effects of combining chemicals every working day. We all make predictions of a mundane kind every day with considerable accuracy and reliability. I set my alarm with confidence about its future behaviour; the fire safety inspectors certify my fire alarm on the basis of confident predictions of future behaviour. Anybody who says we can never predict the future is talking rubbish.

  30. It is interesting how John Quiggin doesn’t have a shade of doubt about climate science, but was able to foretell the fiasco of Y2K before it happened, or more correctly before it didn’t happen. See the link to his 1999 article at the end of his July 4th post this year.

    One could almost substitute global warming for Y2K and the article would still read quite sensibly. One wonders why John scoffs at the Y2K computer experts yet believes the so called climate experts with their dismally underperforming computer models? Funny how computers feature in both scenarios, perhaps all you have to do is mention that you use computers and people think you are some sort sage.

    I think the sensible statement that John used in his July 4th anti-militarism post could also apply to climate change.

    “Instead, for non-existential and currently hypothetical threats, the appropriate response is to “fix on failure”[^2], dealing with problems in the most cost-effective manner as they emerge.”

  31. @dlb

    A couple of points here.

    1. The Y2K fiasco didn’t happen, in the main, precisely because the problem was foreseen and remedial action was taken in many important computer systems before the date 01/01/2000 ticked over. Extensive protocols were followed to locate and correct date fields and date processing routines where necessary. It was a real issue. People who don’t think it was a real problem waiting to happen don’t understand the basics of programming.

    Whether the Y2K preemptive fix protocols were more costly administratively than waiting for things to fail and then fixing them is another issue. In the case of a government system like the pensions system, waiting for things to fail and then fixing them was not a political option. A failed pension run or a welfare system crash for several days causes a big stink politically and these payment delaying events do affect people dependent on such payments.

    2. Avoiding damaging climate change is many orders of magnitude more important than avoiding a failed pension run or a welfare system crash. It is worth putting efforts into understanding human-induced climate change, whether it is happening (it is) and how to ameliorate it if we can. The climate system is not something we can “fix on failure” at least not within 1,000 to 10,000 years at least. The “fix on failure” cost for coastal cities inundated worldwide (rebuilding on higher ground) will be a massive burden on economies equivalent at least to fixing the ravages of a world war. Other things will not be fixable at all if global warming hits 5 degrees C or more. Our agriculture system will largely fail for example.

    3. The CC climate change models are now working and predicting matters reasonably well. The real world data is following model predictions within acceptable margins of error. If you don’t understand that all science is about modelling reality then you don’t understand science. Modern computer models in a number of fields (not just climate science) have become accurate and dependable. They are a tool which extends modelling capacity.

    4. Your post simply reveals how little you know about the topic. It’s like a homeopath telling the members of the The Royal Australasian College of Physicians that they don’t know anything about human physiology. It’s laughable. Which other hard sciences do you doubt? To be consistent you would have to doubt and reject them all; physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and so on.

  32. @Peter S
    I am commenting on the basis that your comments were made in good faith, though i suspect you aren’t.

    Perhaps you were a bit distracted during your reading because JQ made it clear that its not his opinion on climate, but rather, the scientist’s opinion, thousand’s of people who have been examining this for decades.

    You are correct, economic models are often not very good. They should be clearly distinguished from scientific models, that do not need to factor in the “animal spirits” of the human mind.

    The climate models are checked against the real world data, and what do you know, there is a good correlation. If you think it’s a conspiracy, I can’t help you.

    Go and do some reading chum, for your grandkid’s sake.

  33. @dlb
    Given the known physical properties of carbon dioxide, an increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere must have the direct effect of making the temperature of the planet higher than it would otherwise have been.

    Computers and computer modelling don’t come into that: it was definitively established long before the first computer was built.

  34. I had better modify my statement on Y2K above.

    1. Arguably, a Y2K fiasco did occur in the sense that the “event” was over-prepared for and over-spent on prior to the fact, taking a whole of economy perspective.

    2. In relation to government welfare systems, this was an area I had an involvement in at the time. Y2K preparations, changes to date fields and date processing where necessary. Date fields, starting with client date of birth, but including a number of other dates, are important for client eligibility. The possibility of many records (e.g. pension records) not paying legitimate benefits in a pay run was real and indeed very probable. The possibility of an entire system pay run crashing and delaying processing runs further was higher than zero though it’s hard to say how real this danger was. Politically and socially, these risks could not be ignored. Ancillary systems were also checked in the interests of thoroughness and possible interactions with the main system.

    A post 01/01/2000 fiasco was indeed possible in social security payments without these checks, re-coding efforts and testing efforts done in the main income security system well before 01/01/2000. In systems like this, the Y2K work was precisely what made the event a non-event when the day came. Y2K was not all hype. Some of the issues were real. Wholesale or blanket criticism of all Y2K projects is not warranted.

  35. @Peter S

    Scientists committed to scenarios based on climate models, have lost their objectivity, and therefore should not be trusted.

    This is obnoxious, false and defamatory.

    Bloggists who are committed to dreams not based on climate models have no objectivity and are living in cloud cuckoo land.

    They also threaten the fate of humanity.

  36. @dlb
    Just to second others here, your charge that ‘climate models are woefully underperforming’ is in itself woefully underperforming, and woefully over-repeated.

    It’s really tragic that your position on AGW is based on this profound error. It makes anything else you offer redundant.
    It shows that if you’ve been misled, and inevitably will be a misleader. Build your position on a falsehood, and the conversation is impossible.
    I’d guess confidently that you are using the RSS TMT data set compared with model ensembles, as promoted by rejectionists bloggers. RSS has many problems, which are explicitly discussed by it creators. Even more importantly, RSS and UAH are not comparing apples with apples, and are stictched and compensated proxy derivations sampling different parts of the mid-atmosphere, not exclusively the surface.

    Again, look at this comparison of CMIP5 RCP 4.5 model ensemble with surface observations to date as seen by five peer-reviewed research groups
    https://climatecrocks.com/2016/08/19/climate-predictions-how-are-we-doing/
    This is a like-for-like comparison: surface temps with surface temp projections.
    Comparing a satellite trace with surface projections is simply invalid.
    Please exercise some scepticism next time.

  37. @Peter S

    Scientists (and economists) committed to scenarios based on climate models, have lost their objectivity, and therefore should not be trusted.

    This is just assertion…there is no argument behind it from you.
    Where have you convinced the world, and yourself, that use of modelling destroys objectivity? Climate science acknowledges uncertainty is using multiple scenarios…an acknowledgement that future CO2 emission paths are not known. Surely that is a sign of objectivity informing choices?
    And why is it an issue of personal trust at all? Models are tools, used with caution. Nobody ‘trusts’ models, as they are known to be…models. No one is ‘committed’ to model scenarios, they use them cognisant of the fact that modelling is an important tool when you don’t have a spare identical unindustrialised planet for comparative purposes, and cognisant of teh fact that other events may intercede to change outcomes. It’s a complex area that is misrepresented by simplistic insistence about trust and objectivity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s