One of the mental games I like to play is called, “Let’s pretend I’m stupid.”
It works like this. Take something I already know, or at least, think I know, and then try to disprove it. If I can’t at least come up with several good arguments against it, then I’m not playing hard enough.
The process of evaluating things with logic and reason is challenging, to say the least. It exposes whatever biases I have, uncovers new facets of my ignorance, and causes me to question some very basic things I hold dear. In the process, I have to relearn things I’ve forgotten, and go back to a more primitive state.
One of the most exciting feelings I have ever had is the feeling of doubt. That is, “Can I actually pull it off? Can I really go back and demonstrate a clear enough understanding of this subject that I can honestly continue to believe in the thing I already knew?”
There are only two possible outcomes of the exercise. Either my knowledge is confirmed, or it is exposed as incorrect. Whenever it is exposed as incorrect, it is hopefully replaced with better, more accurate knowledge.
In the end, it helps me be a better teacher, and keeps my mind sharp.
I’ve lately re-examined the science behind climate science. (I apologize that I’ve allowed the language of these papers to change my usual writing style.) I’ve exposed myself to countless arguments against the things I’ve already learned. I’ve uncovered a few interesting bits of knowledge, or at least a renewed enthusiasm for principles I already know.
First is the solid foundation of basic physics and logical rigor. I have long ago developed a sixth sense that informs me when someone isn’t using sound logic. I love talking with mathematicians and theoretical physicists because every thing they say follows this rigor. Their knowledge has been honed by the very exercise I have done over decades and decades, and further polished by communication within their field.
We can trust science, at least real science, as long as it is based on plain observations and rigorous logic.
There is another aspect of science, the seedy side of science. Scientists being fallible people, they are prone to mistakes. Mathematicians and physicists are well aware of this, which is why their immediate instinct is to distrust their own results. If they can find problems with their work, then they’ll fix it before publication. After publication, they have to acknowledge any errors they made. The reason for publication is to get others to look at it closely and help find the errors.
However, certain scientists don’t behave this way. Rather than take on this attitude, they try instead to build themselves up as the next Einstein or they try to manipulate the science to get a desired result. These people are pretty easy to find, when you know what to look for. Every one of the vocal advocates of Global Warming reek of this attitude. The so-called “ClimateGate” emails have revealed it for all the world to see. The sham of a cover-up that was done makes the scientists look even more foolish. The amount of credibility these scientists have is exactly zero in my mind.
Nevertheless, it shouldn’t be hard to falsify their claims. After all, science doesn’t depend on who’s making the claim, but the claim itself.
Examining the claims of Global Warming I see self-contradictions, contradictions between scientists, and ultimately, contradictions with nature itself.
Over at this blog post, the most fundamental aspects of Global Warming have been thoroughly examined, and found to be sorely lacking. If you want to understand, you have to read the 3 papers mentioned. If you don’t have the patience or the ability, then there are lay-persons explanations of the 3 papers. To date, there is no rebuttal to the original paper that has any weight at all. I have read hundreds upon hundreds of arguments against the original paper. Only a few actually acknowledge the ideas presented in the paper, and they fail in rebutting them. The rest are vacuous statements made in complete ignorance of the topics addressed in the paper.
All the other arguments for or against Global Warming end up being meaningless after the publication of the above paper. No number of ice cores or tree rings or satellite imaging or contemplation of Venus or Mars or hurricanes or whatnot has any bearing on the discussion. The entire field has been leveled, because none of it matches with the first principles of physics.
I am sure that the temperature changes over time. After all, it is generally warmer in the daytime than in the nighttime. I am sure that there are changes in the weather, because I see it. I am sure that the climate changes as well, because we read about it in history books. What we cannot be certain of, and what the paper marvelously exposes, is the repercussions of these changes and variations. These fall within a realm of physics and math where you have to throw up your hands and say, “We do not know. We cannot know.”
You can safely assume that anyone who claims to know anything definitive about the weather and climate is an idiot who can’t do basic math or physics. Either that, or they are an all-powerful being with knowledge and power far beyond our own.
Note that meteorologists, the ones we rely on every day, do not claim certain knowledge. Their field is based on statistics and some general principles, principles which may be based on some first principles of physics. The further in the future they look, the less and less likely their predictions are to come true. Certainly no meteorologist would even pretend to know what the weather will be like a year from now.
Why, then, do these climate scientists persist? There are only two reasons, really. One is ignorance, the other is greed. If they are ignorant, then the solution is educate them and others. Perhaps one day we’ll teach the full story of thermodynamics to 2nd Graders, and it will be as common knowledge as Newton’s 3 Laws, but that day is not today. It is incumbent upon us who do know the 2nd Law to be so well versed in it that we can explain it to children in a scientifically rigorous way.
On their greed, well, we all struggle with greed. When we see it cloud people’s judgments, the solution is to pay it no heed. We certainly shouldn’t fuel it by funding it with public money.
Those who claim that Climate Science is real in any way are not only foolish, they are wrong. It’s ok for people who don’t know any better to do so. We can educate and correct any misstatements they make, and after a while, they’ll come to agree with us. Those who know better, or who remain close-minded to the possibility that they are wrong, can only be ignored. We cannot convince someone who has set their thoughts in stone.