Because I’m tired of talking to someone I have no interest in talking to (ie. Andrew) I’ve changed the intro for the list to the following;
Almost a decade ago, I was cleaning up the many catalogues that lay across the coffee table and couch (my partner at the time had an unnatural obsession with them which drove me mad) and happened to notice an unusual book for sale. It was titled 50 predictions of doomsday (from memory – the net is alight with paranoid discussions regarding 2012 that a quick google search cannot retrieve the book).
To the bewilderment of my partner back then, I found this hysterical. It’s no more than predicting (or more appropriately guessing, without meaningful evidence) how many jelly beans are in the jar. That the book provides 50 “predictions” if anything weakens it’s position, rather than strengthens it.
All you need for anything is one hypothesis that that is tested and retested rigorously and independently and supported by other complimentary studies also carried out in a like fashion – that is to say, it’s not how many hypotheses you have, but rather how many times you’ve tested the one hypothesis, by various methods and forces to draw the same conclusion.
Another way to explain it would be to have a box of chocolates. It’s a pack of 30, laid out in three trays of ten. Only one has been consumed.
Of the nine that remain, you can tell that all are caramel centred; does this suggest that the one gone was also caramel centred? Maybe, but not necessarily.
Further investigation reveals that the second tray is also completely full of caramel centred chocolates, but still you could be cautious. Even when the third tray reveals nothing but caramel centred chocolates, you could argue that maybe it was an unfortunate (or fortunate depending on your tastes) statistical streak, but you would certainly argue, with greater confidence as you explored the trays, that the one missing chocolate was very likely to also have been caramel centred.
That is the type of confidence expressed in science. It’s based on increasing evidence.
Opposed to this is the more natural behaviour as expressed by the book above. It’s an assertion that relies on there being so many hypotheses as support; so many people have guessed of a doomsday, therefore it’s inevitable. And it is inevitable – the solar system cannot live forever, so we can be asserted of a kind of doomsday, but not because some prophet guessed it, but because science has increased our understanding of the behaviour of suns.
This is in many ways my problem with Andrew’s (aka Poptech) list of 800 papers supporting scepticism of AGW alarm.
To return to the chocolate analogy, no one chocolate alone proves or disproves the caramel centre of the missing piece – it is all the chocolates together that increase our certainty. It’s that the evidence of each piece together reinforce the conclusions of the others leading us to make assumptions about the unknowns.
Let’s say that the process line isn’t perfect. Occasionally a dud chocolate is spat out that don’t have a caramel centre and sometimes – not too often – some nuts from a neighbouring conveyor belt spill and contaminate the caramel centred chocolate process. Of course, these imperfections would need to be weeded out – welcome to the peer-review process.
Andrew effectively pushes the box of climate science box of chocolates side and fills a new 30 piece box. Some are indeed caramel centred, while others are from the reject bin and others still are from a completely different manufacture. Now deducing what the missing piece is becomes impossible.
There is no meaningful expression in the assortment. Some of the chocolates even impossible to classify. Some may appear reasonable – without reference as to why they were in the reject bin. Does this disprove that the missing piece was a caramel centred chocolate? Of course not. Such a list does nothing to prove or disprove anything. It’s just a random collection that supports no conclusions of any sort at all, except that they are in fact chocolate, which is more or less meaningless to the point.
This whole annoying episode start with Adam challenging me with Andrew’s list;
“I gave you 800 peer reviewed scientific papers supporting skeptisicm of AGW/AGW alarm… when there are over 850 scientific papers supporting skeptisicm of AGW, surrely to any same person, that would at least provide some reason to question the theory.”
I’ve tried in great detail to explain the problems inherent in such a preposterous position; it’s not a game of who has more papers or what one paper states by itself – but rather a coherent conclusion drawn by many independent studies that all together in our confidence in a certain conclusion.
For what it’s worth, Andrew has fragmentally stated as much about his list;
“No claim is made that the list is only of natural science papers (though many of these exist on the list) but rather that they are all peer-reviewed. The list does not only include papers that support skepticism of AGW but also ones that support skepticism of AGW Alarm, defined as concern relating to a negative environmental or socio-economic effect of AGW, usually exaggerated as catastrophic. The list is not a unified theory but a resource.”
I’ve gone on to ask if I’m correct in stating that the list is nothing but a haphazard list of random science, social and economic articles that while together cannot form a sensible coherent alternative – indeed many of the papers even contradict each other – but rather forms an inconsistent catalogue of various reports to encourage various forms of AGW “scepticism”.
As you can see from his comment above, he surely must, but so far I’ve not received an answer – instead he’s gone on to complain about the language in my original introduction (even at my joking suggestion that he stumbled upon my initial comment referring to him by magic – honestly, I mention him once in a comment to a notorious troll and he shows up out of nowhere; am I wrong to wonder how that happened?). I provide it here as he seems unwilling to meet me half way (it’s pretty boring and really worth anyone’s time).
Anyway, in the general style of such people, he’s gone on and on and on and on and… I’m sick of making the required corrections, explaining why certain changes won’t be made and basically wasting my time talking to someone I don’t I just don’t want to talk to.
To some up, I really don’t think his list stands as a tower, opposing some orthodoxy of AGW (not that I’m suggesting Andrew does, but certainly fans of his do), but instead is little more than a random scattering of bricks that he has laid out so that the so-called AGW “sceptics” can hurl them at us “alarmists” or “warmist” and has little to do with scientific reasoning and investigation. It’s just an easy go-to place for the busy troll to stop by, chose a paper and demand others in the blogosphere “prove it wrong” (or if they’re lazy, link back to the entire list and demand as Adam did).
I, on the other hand, will slowly build by a counter list that more rigorously focuses on the science – the observed, the tested, the modelled and projected – of all matters anthropogenic global warming, related environmental concern and impacts on humanity, thereby not providing a chaotic assortment of ideas, but rather mutually supporting studies that have led to our confidence in the AGW theory (I assure you, not as easy a task as it would be to grab any “sceptical” paper available – ie. it’s harder to accumulate evidence to support the conclusion about the missing chocolate than it is to collect chocolate of any sort).