There is a new trump card in town.
It used to be that when having an argument the only trump card was the race card. You play that and the argument is over. Now it’s the denier card. You call your opponent a denier and you can drop the mic.
But, that’s not how science works. The inconvenient truth is that science is based on the scientific method which includes a theory, an experiment and then replicatable results. But if you don’t have that, then you just call those who disagree with you “deniers” or you say “the science is settled” which makes whatever they say next meaningless.
For instance, many are calling Patriots Fans “Deflategate Deniers”. (What you thought I was talking about something else). But when you cut through all the BS of destroyed cell phones, text messages to ball boys and the missing 90 seconds with the stop in the bathroom what you are left with is science.
The geniuses at the NFL think that if you take a ball at 72 degrees and adjust the pressure to a level of 12.5 psi and then have it spend 90 minutes in 40 degree weather it will still be at a level of 12.5 psi. That isn’t science, that’s ignorance. The Ideal Gas Law states that those footballs should have been between 11.52 and 11.32 at halftime. Based on these calculations out of the 11 footballs measured, 3 were above the range, 5 were within the range and 3 were below the range expected at half time. This is science, a theory that is replicatable in the lab. If there was no deflation there was no violation.
So what’s the big deal and how does this compare with that other big controversy, Global Warming. In Global Warming Science there is a theory that due to the actions of man, there is increased carbon in the air which is causing the globe to warm. Because you can’t really experiment with the entire planet what scientists typically do is that they test their models using historical data. That is what happened here and when they projected out they find the temperature rises and they predict all sorts of bad things.
But you have to close the circle. The way to test repeatability is to let time pass and see what happens. As we all know, temperatures haven’t risen. So the scientists use selective data or come up with reasons why the data is the way it is, but bottom line is the models have not predicted what is happening.
So what do proponents say now? “There is a consensus. 97% of scientists agree that global warming is happening.” Or some variation. There are two problems with that. First, science is not determined based on consensus, it is only based on fact. When Columbus sailed the consensus was the world was flat. The second problem is the 97% figure is misused. Let me turn to Dr. Judith Curry of Georgia Tech to explain the 97% fallacy…
What triggered me to read the Cook et al. paper again was this statement in the SciAm article:
The scientists examined 4,014 abstracts on climate change and found 97.2 percent of the papers assumed humans play a role in global warming.
That statement quickly got boiled down in the popular media to a much simpler message: that 97 percent of scientists believe climate change is caused by humans.
Assumed? This comes across rather differently than my interpretation of the paper. The main concluding statement is this:
Among papers expressing a position on AGW, an overwhelming percentage (97.2% based on self-ratings, 97.1% based on abstract ratings) endorses the scientific consensus on AGW.
In my mind, there is a pretty big difference between ‘assume’ and ‘endorse’. The SciAm article makes the Cook et al. paper come across more soberly and scholarly than it actually is. This paper is a prime example of motivated scientific reasoning. As far as I can tell, here is what Cook et al. measured
Dr. Curry is a very well respected academic who has testified before congress on Global Warming and writes a very thoughtful even handed blog at judithcurry.com.
So bottom line, of the academic papers that were published (how many got filtered out based on publisher’s bias), 97% were based on the assumption that there is human caused global warming. This means that human caused global warming was part of their model. It was an input not an output. That is a long way from 97% of scientists.
Based on this they want to slow down the economic growth of the US to the tune of $1,000,000,000,000 (that’s one Trillion dollars) which will cause the temperature to go down less than 0.1 C. They won’t discuss other alternatives to slowing carbon growth or mitigating the impact. The only answer is to reduce carbon output. So who are the deniers?
Let’s get back to the important issue of the day; deflategate. Going into the game, the NFL had a theory that the Patriots were deflating footballs. When Troy Vincent went into the referee’s locker room at halftime and the balls were less than 12.5 he had validation of that theory. All findings since then have been either supportive of this theory or thrown out. And this is the evidence that the entire case has been based on.
Science is interesting. It is based on the Scientific Method and our knowledge of it continues to evolve, but how we determine what are facts vs what is theory is based on testing and replicability. As Ronald Reagan said, “Facts are stubborn things.”