Its Official: Climate is the First Post-Modern Physical Science

You can find a lot of different definitions of post-modernism.  Here is one from Wikipedia, which seems appropriate because in some sense at its very core Wikipedia adopts a post-modernist approach to truth.  Post-modernism rejects objective truth, or at least man’s ability ever to identify such truth.   As applied to science, post-modernists would say that what we call scientific “truth” in in fact the results of social, cultural, and political forces within and acting on the scientific community.

Some elements of post-modernism actually provide a useful critique of science.  Its focus on biases and resulting observational blindness to certain results that falsify ones pre-conceived notions are useful caveats in a scientific process.  But the belief that a rational scientific process is not just difficult but impossible leads to all kinds of crazy conclusions.  Many in hard core postmodern circles would argue that since objective truth is impossible anyway, scientific findings should be guided by what is most socially useful. As Steven Schneider of Stanford says vis a vis climate:

We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.

And speaking of Steven Schneider, he is coauthor of a recent study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that has really made it plain to me that climate is becoming the first post-modern physical science.  Just note the incredible approach to his study, and how much it mirrors the precepts of post-modernism:  To decide who is right and wrong in climate science between skeptics and alarmists, the study authors have … wait for it .. counted them and measured their relative influence in academic circles.  Since the authors count more alarmists than skeptics, and judge that the alarmists are more influential in academic circles, then they must be right!  After all, truth is determined by those with the most political and cultural influence, not by silly stuff like testing hypotheses against observational data.

Postscript: I think a lot of the skeptic backlash against this study is overwrought, examples here and here.  To paraphrase another climate publication, this study is “not evil, just silly.”

  • Waldosee

    And those scandals are quickly being retracted (see above) much to the consternation of the denialist camp.

  • reviews debate videos

  • anonymiss

    I know this is OT for this artical, but you realy do have to laugh at people that cry “Mann CLEARD!” when you realize he was “cleared” by his present employer and his previous employer.

    It’s kind of like a bartender and the liquor company saying the drunk on the barstool isn’t “realy” a drunk..

    And to those posting links to other blogs that “prove” he was cleared, as you all like to point out, blog’s “prove” nothing.

  • Shills

    Anon says: ‘It’s kind of like a bartender and the liquor company saying the drunk on the barstool isn’t “realy” a drunk..’

    I don’t agree with your analogy on a number of levels but suffice to say that there are serious penalties for deliberately serving alcohol to a drunk.

    How do you imagine that any of the investigators would see it as in their favour to whitewash?

    Anon says: ‘as you all like to point out, blog’s “prove” nothing.’

    No disagreement here. So why are we accusing these scientists in the first place?

  • netdr-[the real one]

    I just convinced the college of cardinals that Jesus Christ is not the son of God !

    The pope is going to be a tougher nut to crack. [Almost as hard as Mike Mann and his hockey team] !

    When I get done with him I will take on the CAGW mafia.

  • Wadlomr

    As with Shills, can anonymiss “prove” that Mann is guilty of anything? Go ahead, anony, “prove” Mann guilty.

    And netdr is predictably whimping out and using a gratuitous analogy to do it.

  • netdr-[the actual one]

    I have just convinced the Pope that Jesus is not the son of God.

    I was surprised that he was so open minded and willing to listen to my arguments!

    The pope of CAGW [Dr Hansen] is next.

    Or maybe I should start with his college of cardinals headed by Mike Mann and his hockey team.

  • Waldo [sometimes actual]

    Let the record show that the defendant tacitly admits he is unable to do the actual science through his repeated attempts at wit and sarcasm.

    Hence the lifetime achievement award in trash talk.

    Stay safely in the blogosphere, netdr, if that’s your speed.

  • Anon

    Can Waldo prove that anonymiss can’t prove that Mann is guilty of anything? Go ahead, Waldo.

    Obvious troll is obvious.

  • Shills

    Anon says: ‘Can Waldo prove that anonymiss can’t prove that Mann is guilty of anything’

    Umm, no one, and not Waldo, has claimed that. If Anonymiss (you??) can prove Mann is guilty then go for it.

  • Shills
  • Waldon

    Well Anon, if Anonymiss can’t prove Mann guilty, that pretty much proves that Anonymiss cannot prove Mann guilty, right?

    And if Anonymiss does not “prove” Mann guilty here, we much conclude that Anonymiss cannot prove Mann guilty anywhere.

    Thus, based on available evidence, and despite Anonymiss’ brave assertion that nothing has been proven in the first place, Anonymiss cannot prove Mann guilty. If she could prove Mann guilty, she clearly would.

    Nice try though.

    What we can prove is that official reports have cleared the CRU, rationalize it as you will. And this is something which is clearly sticking in the craw of the denialist camp.

  • Anon

    Well, Waldo, you have yet to prove that Anonymiss can’t prove that Mann is guilty. Right now you don’t seem to be able to do that, and that might be a sign that you actually can’t prove that Anonymiss can’t prove that Mann is guilty. So, I stand by my original observation that obvious troll is obvious.

  • Shills

    Anon,

    What a strange and confusing bit of nonsense you are spouting.

    I can just imagine a lawyer in court saying to the opposition: ‘you can’t prove that I can’t prove my client is innocent!!’.

  • Anthony Watts

    Hi Warren, since you live in the region, perhaps you or someone else can help in this?

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/07/12/carefree-record-high-temperatures-in-arizona/

    Thanks for your consideration.

    Anthony Watts (with an S)

  • Waldotts

    You keep working that out there, Anon. In the meantime Mann et al are officially cleared, and that means that no official sanction is coming there way. So, the deniosphere will simply have to keep doing the two things it does best: flushing pseudo-science into the system and engaging in character assignation of the scientists.

    And here we are beating a dead thread…

  • hunter

    True believers think that the CRU has been proven to be valid and accurate.
    they are as usual wrong:
    From the Oxburgh report: “2. The Panel was not concerned with the question of whether the conclusions of the published research were correct.”

    The Muir Russell review said in its introduction: “5. In response [to the emails publication], the UEA commissioned two inquiries. The first led by Lord Oxburgh, into the science being undertaken at CRU, has already reported. This document is the report of the second inquiry … which examines the conduct of the scientists involved.”

    The parliamentary report also indicated that the Oxburgh committee was to appraise the science: “10. Alongside the Independent Climate Change E-Mails Review [Muir Russell], UEA decided on a separate scientific assessment of CRU’s key scientific publications; an external reappraisal of the science itself.” And “137. … It was not our purpose to examine, nor did we seek evidence on, the science produced by CRU. It will be for the Scientific Appraisal Panel [Oxburgh’s] to look in detail into all the evidence to determine whether or not the consensus view remains valid.”

  • Justa Loe

    Nah… CAGW alarmist are not in the least bit Malthusian.

    http://www.popoffsets.com/
    “opt for lower populations, lower emissions”

    “Research is indicating that investing in family planning is a cost-effective and permanent way of reducing CO2 emissions and climate change, compared with other technological fixes – and has many other environmental benefits, and no downsides.”

  • Wally

    Well, I’ve been out for a while, but I see we’ve moved this conversation off into discussing the climategate investigations again.

    I think we’ve all been round and round with this, and I don’t really expect to get any convictions for academic dishonesty, much less fraud, even though I do believe they are guilty of both. However, in looking at the format Genome Research (one of the absolute top tier journals in my field) requires for article submissions, I can across this:

    “Genome Research will NOT consider manuscripts where data used in the paper is not freely available on either a publicly held website, or in the absence of such a website on the Genome Research website. There are NO exceptions.”

    In fact, this is a common clause in my field. Even when applying for grants you are required to describe how you’re going to make your primary data freely available (generally some home-made website or public database for a specific type of data) and you’re immediately disqualified if you do not include such a section. I’m not so familiar with climate journals, though looking through a few of them (particularly the ones that are common on the CVs of Mann and Jones), I don’t see such statements. And obviously the granting process hasn’t required this field to make data/code freely available either. (which isn’t to say no data is available, much of it is, but large gaps are missing, which of course are required to support their hypothesis)

    This combined with some of the statements of these “public” researchers in the climategate emails such as this one by Jones, “We have 25 years or so invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it,” makes me believe this entire field is no longer acting as a group of PUBLICLY funded researchers in search of the truth. These publicly funded researchers (and no you can’t use that word enough) has formed alliances with those that share a belief in their pet theory and have (and for all I know still are) acting to exclude those that simply wish to advance knowledge (see emails regarding black listing journals/authors they don’t agree with). This may or may not be criminal, but it is not the work of honest scientists, engaged in an unbiased search of knowledge. As an academic researcher in a field far larger and more competitive than climatology (not to mention publicly valuable!), listing to quotes such as these makes me want to puke. These people have used politics and personal influence to divert large quantities of public moneys for basic research that would see a much better use in other more valuable, not to mention HONEST, fields.

    What the likes of Mann and Jones have done is simply disgusting behavior from someone that claims himself to be a scientist. If this were just about any other field, these people would no longer have their jobs. Yet, climatologists, particularly those will to “prove” AGW are a politically favored bunch, so I don’t expect to see anything more than a slap on the wrist. History however, will probably look back on this chapter in science much like we see eugenics today. So, we’ll probably have to wait 30 some years for our validation (as will those climate models!).

  • Shills

    Hey Wally,

    You wouldn’t have to wait 30 years for your validation if you guys gave us some solid reasoning for your beliefs.

  • ADiff

    Wally certainly doesn’t need wait 30 years:

    CO2 will cause more & worse hurricanes! Uh..well, no it won’t.
    CO2 will cause more floods and droughts! Er, ah…no it doesn’t look like it does.
    CO2 will cause the oceans to rise and flood places! Oops. That doesn’t appear to be the case either.
    CO2 will cause Greenland to melt! Oh my! Sorry about that! That correlation hasn’t occurred either.
    CO2 will cause the Arctic icecap to disappear! Well…maybe not, at least in the foreseeable future.
    CO2 will cause a terrible increase in fires! No, these don’t correlate well with CO2, or warming.

    Has there been warming? Well, yes, sure.
    Has it been ‘unprecedented’? No, not in historic terms. LIA and MWP both demonstrate that.
    Does the physical evidence show a clear CO2 warming/cooling causality? Well, no, that’s not really there.
    Is CO2 a factor in recent warming? Well, no, not in the early 20th Century warming, but then, yes, in the late 20th Century warming.
    Was it the primary factor? No one’s really sure. That can’t be demonstrated. All we know clearly is that CO2 doesn’t appear to have been a significant factor in the early 20th Century warming period, but does appear to be at least a significant factor in the warming between 1970 and around 2000. We don’t really have a good handle on what was going on between 1940 and 1970 when things cooled substantially.

    Bottom line: There’s been warming…in general…since the end of the LIA. We’re not entirely sure why, or even why the LIA occurred.

    Is CO2 a factor in warming? Yes, it’s involved, but we’re not exactly sure how or to what extent. But it’s clearly not the only factor involved and may not be the most significant when it’s involved. We know there are some warming periods where it doesn’t seem to be involved at all, and that it doesn’t appear to be a factor in at least some cooling periods, either.

    What’s all this add up to? It’s way too early to assume we really understand climate change, including warming. There’s still a lot of uncertainty and a lot of work to be done. And any claims we know, conclusively, that it makes sense to spend trillions trying to reduce CO2 emissions is just speculative bunk, without any firm basis, at this point.

  • Shills

    I encourage anyone who just read Adiff’s summary to get a second opinion from the peer-reviewed scientific literature.