AGW – “a monopoly that clings to one hypothesis”

Michael Crichton (2003): There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”

Matt Ridley’s 3rd article on confirmation bias in the Wall Street Journal:

I argued last week that the way to combat confirmation bias—the tendency to behave like a defense attorney rather than a judge when assessing a theory in science—is to avoid monopoly. So long as there are competing scientific centers, some will prick the bubbles of theory reinforcement in which other scientists live.

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image : Wall Street Journal – John S. Dykes

Last month saw two media announcements of preliminary new papers on climate. One, by a team led by physicist Richard Muller of the University of California, Berkeley, concluded “the carbon dioxide curve gives a better match than anything else we’ve tried” for the (modest) 0.8 Celsius-degree rise in global average temperatures over land during the past half-century—less, if ocean is included. He may be right, but such curve-fitting reasoning is an example of confirmation bias. The other, by a team led by the meteorologist Anthony Watts, a skeptical gadfly, confirmed its view that the Muller team’s numbers are too high—because “reported 1979-2008 U.S. temperature trends are spuriously doubled” by bad thermometer siting and unjustified “adjustments.” …

…. The late novelist Michael Crichton, in his prescient 2003 lecture criticizing climate research, said: “To an outsider, the most significant innovation in the global-warming controversy is the overt reliance that is being placed on models…. No longer are models judged by how well they reproduce data from the real world—increasingly, models provide the data. As if they were themselves a reality.” ….

….. Bring on the gadflies.

The late Michael Crichton’s lecture in 2003 is well worth reading again.

Crichton’s lecture is here: Crichton 2003 Caltech Michelin Lecture

On “consensus science” he has this to say:

I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

In addition, let me remind you that the track record of the consensus is nothing to be proud of. Let’s review a few cases. ……

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