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Science is Science, retards!

You can tell where this is going:

One scientist can be wrong. But deny the scientific consensus at your peril
David Robert Grimes

Yep, you’ve got it:

Even as the world swelters and burns, Republican candidates last week denied the reality of anthropogenic climate breakdown, with some decrying it as a hoax by scientists. Despite the incontrovertible evidence of a human-mediated climate crisis, a sizable contingent reject reality by smearing scientists as either fools or liars. Dearlove’s comments simply reinforce a false message that scientists cannot be trusted, and that science itself is a partisan undertaking. With science integral to our collective wellbeing, such comments ultimately serve only to undermine public trust and understanding, leaving us more divided and less informed.

And of course he’s wrong.

The entire point of science is that if the lone individual is right then they’re right and the consensus wrong. As with, say, continental drift.

54 thoughts on “Science is Science, retards!”

  1. A quote in a Daily Sceptic article this morning:

    The CO2 Coalition concludes:

    The long and hard road to scientific truth cannot be followed by the trivial expedient of a mere head-count among those who make their livings from Government funding. Therefore, the mere fact that climate activists find themselves so often appealing to an imagined ‘consensus’ is a red flag. They are far less sure of the supposed scientific truths to which they cling than they would like us to believe. ‘Consensus’ here is a crutch for lame science. , quote from

  2. Well yes Tim. I’m thinking of Galileo or Copernicus. Of course there’s also where Columbus was wrong about the diameter of the earth. Thus there was room for America and the Pacific Ocean when he expected to hit Asia.

    But science is supposed to operate on evidence, not consensus. Consensus is what theologians do.

  3. I always think of dear old Albert when this sort of things happens.

    Sir Isaac’s theory was proved right by the fact that 100% of physicists thought he was right for 400 years. If he was, and silly old Albert was wrong, every space mission would have missed its objective and many astronauts would have died.

    But what about the consensus!?

  4. Thomas Kuhn’s ‘Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ is what I always think of when politicians say ‘the science is in’.

    It’s worth reading, his point was more or less Tim’s, a lone scientist can overturn the orthodoxy. It just takes an accumulation of evidence to achieve the paradigm shift. Set aside a few days though, it’s a pretty dense read 🙂

  5. “As the world swelters and burns.”

    It doesn’t. Obviously temperature records get broken from time to time that is perfectly normal. Especially as we get better and better at measuring stuff. As for the burning, wild fires are currently at a record low. The impression that the whole world is on fire is caused by a combination of poor forest management and blanket media reporting. These things are not difficult to check and verify.

    As for trusting scientists, I do. I don’t trust government funded charlatans who are compelled to report the “correct” answers in order to keep their jobs.

  6. The entire ‘scientific’ case for catastrophic anthropogenic global warming can be summarised as: “all these lying twats can’t be wrong”

  7. To paraphrase a German politician: ” When someone says ‘Scientific Consensus’, I reach for my revolver…”

  8. Re the breaking of temperature records, this is worth remembering:

    ‘When did temperature records begin?

    ‘The Met Office is known for keeping a record of temperatures across the UK, but it didn’t officially accept responsibility for the custodianship of public weather records until April 1914.

    ‘This is when observation stations became more uniform in the way they collected data, explaining why this is often what meteorologists are talking about when they say “since records began.”‘

    So there are only in fact 109 data points for assessing record temperatures. Anyone who has ever kept records of their gambling will tell you that this is a hopelessly tiny number for assessing what is normal or what is the most extreme thing which can happen within a normal range. Give it another 900 years, and we can start having an idea of what weather is normal and what is extreme.

  9. I immediately thought of the reclusive anti-social outcast Henry Cavendish who demonstrated that the consensus of phlogiston did not exist. Science advances by *overturning* pre-conceived notiions, not by consenses. Consesesus is religion not science.

  10. No. As an actual scientist I can assure you that the scientific concensus is a real thing and nowadays is never wrong about big stuff stuff. As an economist you might find it helpful to consider it as the present state of a market for information. It is almost impossible for anyone to beat the market because it syntheses all available information. Sure someone might make a good call on one stock or perhaps revise a minor scientific point. Indeed that is how the market incorporates information but beat the market long term, no.

  11. Ah Grist

    Careful now. Isaac explained what gravity did, but to be fair no one really understood how it worked. Something about mass and radius they concluded.
    Albert comes along and gives an explanation which seems to fit the conditions.

  12. Bloke in the Fourth Reich


    An exceptionally bold claim given the replication crisis, well underway across softish science disciplines, caused by the very mechanisms of peer review, publish or perish, and monopoly government patronage that were intended to prevent it, is just about to utterly overturn tons of established knowledge in the life sciences and medicine.

  13. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    Also, social conditions emergent from “science” are created by majority popular perception, however accurate or not this is. Its also absurdly easy to manipulate this perception, to utterly atrocious, grossly destructive ends, as you may have noticed in the last 3.5 years.

  14. Thanks to Jb for confirming that consensus has the equivalent worth of economic knowledge rather than scientific knowledge.

  15. As an actual scientist I can assure you that the scientific concensus is a real thing and nowadays is never wrong about big stuff stuff


  16. Dennis, A Non-Sciency Kind Of Guy

    Scientific Consensus:

    1) Health is governed by the Four Humors.
    2) Bleeding is a beneficial treatment for the sick.
    3) The earth is flat.
    4) The sun is in orbit around the earth.

    And on and on and on…

  17. “As for the burning, wild fires are currently at a record low”

    And many of those are due to deliberate arson…

  18. “And many of those are due to deliberate arson…” Bollocks. All of them are due to excessive fuel loads.

    Some of the ignition may well be due to arson.

  19. As an actual scientist I can assure you that the scientific concensus is a real thing and nowadays is never wrong about big stuff stuff

    I give you string theory, quantum vacuum energy, neutrino mass, and dark matter. String theory; five decades of work and still no testable hypothesis. Quantum vacuum energy; off by dozens of orders of magnitude. Neutrino mass; was thought to not have any until they measured it. Dark matter; possibly the epicycles of cosmology, can’t seem to find any anywhere and recent measurements appear to be chipping away at it. All these are or were scientific consensus.

  20. The Newton, Einstein example given above is a really good example of how science works. Newton’s model was not wrong and replaced by Einstein’s. Its predictive power is good enough to get man to the moon and is used in every video game. What Einstein did was work out that it was not the whole story and that in some situations such as when travelling near the speed of light it does not work and corrections are required to predict what will happen. So when talking about man made climate change it is certain that the generally accepted models can be improved but very unlikely that their predictions will be wrong to a great extent when viewed at large scales. So predictions of hurricanes overall will be more accurate than hurricanes that hit Florida for example.

  21. Models will always by definition be wrong (unless you get very lucky), the question is how wrong and what are the ranges and probabilities. For climate models we keep seeing quoted the worst case scenario models which are then used for policy making not the more balanced views

  22. So when talking about man made climate change it is certain that the generally accepted models can be improved but very unlikely that their predictions will be wrong

    So if their predictions are unlikely to be wrong, we should by now have seen plenty of predictions turn out to be true. Got any examples?

  23. There are plenty of climate models and they give wildly varying predictions of future temperature. Some deluded fools try to average the model results under some misapprehension that the average is a better predictor. However it’s not a Monte Carlo run of the same model where averaging is a defensible strategy.

    So no, climate models are GIGO essentially, some because of the crap model and most because the input parameters are wrong (can you say ‘Transient Climate Response’?).

  24. If scientists are already always right then there’s no point in doing any more science. So we can abolish the climate scientists, vaccine developers, etc and save a shedload of taxpayers’ money.

  25. @ Tim
    “Deny the scientific consensus at your peril”
    is certainly true – you will be derided, turned down for jobs, sometimes sacked; you will certainly have examiners fail you, repeatedly, when you tell the truth (I have personal experience on a smaller scale: a dozen years later new rules were imposed under IFRS that stated that I was right and a slightly younger FIA, who knew the situation, asked me if I wanted to retake the exam but I was so tired of it by then I said No).
    This is the attitude of a bully, not a scientist

  26. . . . but very unlikely that their predictions will be wrong to a great extent when viewed at large scales. So predictions of hurricanes overall will be more accurate than hurricanes that hit Florida for example.

    An interesting choice, since the prediction on global hurricane frequency proved to be wrong. There have been fewer, not more.

  27. @ jb
    Never say “never” is good advice.
    Have you ever heard the tale about “The Emperor’s new clothes”?
    As to predictions about hurricanes: I don’t claim to be an expert on predicting hurricanes BUT I do know – bacause LLoyds of London keep records not just of how they have paid out but of the total cost of damage in both current money and inflation-adjusted terms – that the Atlantic hurricane frequency has decreased.
    If you are a scientist, you should check your so-called “facts” before quoting them.
    For avoidance of doubt, the cost of Florida hurricanes has increased significantly rerlative to the force of the hurricanes as a result of rich people from New York and New England building expensive houses in a warmer, lower-tax area in which to live/retire. Lloyds do actually look at such data as it is useful when projecting future cost of Reinsurance claims from local insurance companies that reinsure catstrophe risk at Lloyds.

  28. Scientific consensus is not science – science is about objective truth. However, that does not mean that if a lot of scientists agree on something then any fool who disagrees is as likely to be correct as the consensus. And if someone who proposes an alternative to the consensus cannot get many to switch sides, that’s a bad sign for the alternative.

    Though, of course, no discussion of the subject would be complete without a mention of Planck’s principle (“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it”). Though, ironically enough, the evidence for that is rather weak. If fact, there is the famous case of Dr. Barry Marshall who infected himself with Helicobacter pylori to demonstrate its effects and rapidly changed the scientific consensus which had been that stress was a main cause of stomach ulcers. The consensus was changed by actual evidence – not a mere theory.

  29. “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it”

    Also known as “science advances one funeral at a time”.

  30. @ Paul
    That depends on whether “academic fredom” includes freedom to teach anything other than the party line and not just freedom from the laws of libel when attacking Conservative MPs

  31. Remember these?

    I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer‐​review literature is!”

    “Sexing-up evidence is so easy to do, isn’t it?”

    “My concern was motivated by the possibility of expressing an impression of more concensus than might actually exist . I suppose the earlier talk implying that we should not ‘muddy the waters’ by including contradictory evidence worried me ”

    “I have a top lawyer already representing me…Wei Chyung needs to sue them, or at the least threaten a lawsuit…The threat of a lawsuit alone my prevent them from publishing this paper, so time is of the essence”

    “I used Mike’s Nature Trick” (MNT) to hide the decline.”

    This is the scientific consensus that The Guardian is talking about here.

  32. @ Dennis
    It was a NON-scientific consensus thatthe earth was flat – the ancient Greeks did actually calculate (to within 10%) the curvature of the earth

  33. @jb: well wupp de woo.
    But your links are irrelevant to the main contention of political global warming theory versus the econ science of global warming theory, which is that the problem exists and also must be dealt with through government declarations, bans and programmes, rather than the alternative of the problem exists and we should use a market intervention.
    1/10 I’m afraid.

  34. The “observed warming of the Earths surface” is really the fabricated warming of the Earth’s surface. The way the observed and recorded temperatures of the past are regularly adjusted downwards is a travesty.

    e.g., from the Met Office:
    “Based on HadCRUT5, the average global temperature for 2010-2018 is 1.07 ± 0.11 °C warmer than average conditions in 1850-1900. This is 0.16 °C more than in the previous version of the data set.”

    What the Met Office fails to mention is that even the previous version of the data set in 2013 had itself added considerable heating by adjusting the recorded temps.

    NASA also pulled the same trick last year, boosting the warming from 1910 to 2000 by 49% from 0.45C to 0.67C.

    That’s not science. That’s one-way political activism.

  35. Paul

    I do remember reading in the paper quite a while ago that the MetOffice in Oz had ‘adjusted’ the old records to ‘account for the heat island effect’.

    So it’s not only in the UK.

  36. 22 January 2022 BoM ‘cools the past, warms present’
    The Bureau of Meteorology has remodelled Australia’s official temperature record for the third time in nine years and found things to be warmer than readings had measured.

    from ‘The Australian’

  37. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    Thankyou Charles, I thought about our new (and welcome, though it might not feel it right now) commenter a list of overturned consensuses (consensii?) but backed out.

    Marshall is by a distance my favourite Nobel in medicine and physiology. The replacement of biochemistry with “evidence based” as the founding science of early medical education is long overdue.

  38. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    The only things scientists should be forced to study are the rules of evidence. How we know we know stuff. The burden of proof, the necessity of a claim being falsifiable, and that it is the absence of falsification that matters for accepting a hypothesis – until a better one comes along.

    In medicine, all that matters is what works. Theory and mechanism can lead you to things that should work, but absent evidence they do, on endpoints that matter to the patient, you have no intervention.

  39. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    Incidentally that reproducibility crisis in medicine is going to hit surgery really hard. And fast.

    There is a ton of worthless stuff done, Most surgical procedures have zero good evidence. Even cancer surgeons are discovering that cutting out primary tumours doesn’t help. Or, surprisingly,
    , and inexplicably, does help in cases where surgery was ruled out because patients were too far gone.

    We need to spend less time on explanations and more on finding out what works.

  40. “So no, climate models are GIGO essentially,”
    Garbage In, Grant money Out.

    And regarding the ‘scientific consensus’, I see Dark Matter mentioned above.
    Just recently it seems a study of wide binary stars has supported MOND (Modified Newtonian Dynamics) that removes the need for Dark Matter. So instead of 20 = 1 (plus Dark Matter Fiddle Sactor) we get 1 = 1 because of a better model of gravity.
    No consensus here, we may yet see the end of Dark Phlogiston.

    As Albert said to his critics’ letter: why so many signatures? If I’m wrong, one would suffice.

  41. Fun fact. Alfred Wegener who devised the theory of continental drift was a climatologist.
    Imagine a climatologist going against the consensus now. The “consensus” would refuse to peer review papers and his science denying theory would not be published.

  42. @ jb (September 3, 2023 at 8:50 pm)

    What that Nature paper shows is that the models were conservative – in other words, they didn’t match the observed temperature rises, rather they underestimated it. Sure, they were within bounds for a couple of SDs either way but that’s not that great when CMIP6 only had to predict 6 years out.

    Bear in mind that RCP/SSP-8.5 is highly unlikely to come to fruition (we won’t have 6.5 times more coal use in 2100 than today) something is wrong either in the models or the temperature observations.

    Most likely the latter as they have been constantly buggered around with.

  43. @JB The models to some extent appear to be curve fitting. If you put enough tunable “constants” into a model you can make it fit any historical pattern even if the underlying formulas are incorrect or even missing significant mechanisms. They fail when you extrapolate to future events.

  44. Late to the party – been on another planet where there is no wifi (well, Norfolk but same thing….).

    Michael Crichton nailed it 20 years ago:
    “Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics………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.”:

  45. “As the world swelters and burns.”

    I always like to quote the actual range of recorded temperatures on earth. At 1200UTC today 4 September 2023, the hottest temperature is 47.2C in Iraq and the coldest -79.3C in Antarctica. Where’s the fire?

  46. @Addolff

    You are right but that is not really what I and others mean by scientific consensus. It is not about finding a common position but rather agreeing the correct interpretation of reproducible facts. It is also necessary to simplify stuff for non scientists and such simplifications must be debated and agreed to ensure that no one is mislead.

    In the comments above the is lots of talk about paradigm shifts but really that does not apply to climate science. It is all well understood science. A physicist from 1860 could do it if he had computers. Such controversy as there is comes from the data going into the models and the accuracy of the models. This is not cutting edge stuff. You just get lots of competing scientists and models and see if they the same answers. They do so we can have great confidence in their results.

    There is less to it than meets the eye. People just whine because they don’t like the conclusion. Nobody would care if the model being discussed was solar magnetohydrodynamics for example.

  47. @ Jb

    Whilst some might disagree that human activity is the only/main driver of increased temperatures (based on past records where they were higher) that is not the main issue with the climate change hysteria IMHO.

    It’s the attribution studies/science where those higher temperatures are then used to predict all sorts of dire scenarios if we don’t immediately impoverish ourselves now by adopting a radical socialist redistribution agenda.

    Attributions science is as reliable as using animal entrails as a guide to the future.

  48. @jb Such controversy as there is comes from the data going into the models and the accuracy of the models. This is not cutting edge stuff. You just get lots of competing scientists and models and see if they the same answers. They do so we can have great confidence in their results.

    The one model where I have had a chance to review the code was rubbish. It was very badly written non thread safe code that could give you different results each time you ran it even with the same random number seed. The data had been selectively fiddled with and the model had appeared to be written to produce the “right” result. It’s no wonder that it produced results similar to other models as that is what it was tuned to do.

    The big issue is that we accept we can’t predict the weather because it is a chaotic system, yet climate is just the integration of weather over time. We like to pretend that leads to it not being chaotic so predictable and easy to model. In reality, and actually in the words of the IPCC “the climate system is a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.” They “obviously” go on to say that despite this the models work so we should trust the model, yet to me this shouts “don’t trust the model without checking” and on the basis of the checking I have done I really don’t trust the models even if the science behind them is right. Lets wait ten or twenty years till there is scientific evidence to support that the model is correct. It is however worth noting that thanks to the “curve fitting” approach models do diverge a lot over that time, so after that 20 year wait at best one model will be giving an accurate prediction and the others proven wrong. It’s not impossible that they will all be proven wrong.

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