Posted by: Barry Bickmore | December 16, 2010

Explaining Orrin Hatch

Ok, I’m going to lay off Orrin Hatch for now, unless there’s some other development in the case.  I just wanted to post one last comment about my little tirade of the past few weeks.  As plain spoken (i.e., “mean”) as I have been about Hatch’s reasoning about climate change, I still think of him as a decent guy.  Consider what Ed Kilgore had to say about him in a New Republic article about conservative senators who are in the Tea Party’s crosshairs for the 2012 election.

Utah’s Orrin Hatch was considered a right-wing zealot when he came to the Senate in 1976. Six terms later, conservatives tend to think of Hatch as a Fifth Columnist always ready to sell out “The Cause” if it means a chance to co-sponsor legislation with leading Democrats (his history of collaboration with Ted Kennedy remains a major sore point). Since it’s a taste for bipartisanship that sank Hatch’s Utah colleague Bob Bennett earlier this year, he has reason to worry, particularly given his state’s convention-based nominating process, which gives conservative activists extraordinary power (a poll of delegates to the April 2010 state convention that dumped Bennett showed only 19 percent favoring a seventh term for Hatch). Hatch is also pushing 80 years old, and could face an especially tough challenge from Congressman Jason Chaffetz. But unlike the rest of the names on the bulls-eye list, Hatch may still be able to defend himself by drawing upon his old, semi-dormant relationship with Utah’s hard right.

In my book, any conservative Republican politician who knows the meaning of the word “compromise,” nowadays, is a keeper.  I’ve voted for Hatch twice, and I would vote for him again.  But if he’s such a good guy, what’s with his web page on climate change?

It looks to me like he did something that most other people (including me) do all the time.  That is, if we are given information that seems to fit well with everything else we think we know, we don’t usually bother checking on that information very rigorously (or at all).  It’s called “confirmation bias.”

Let’s face it–nobody has time to rigorously check into everything they hear–but when something really important is at stake, people (especially elected officials) need to take a little more time to examine things.  If they don’t bother to do this, it isn’t easy to change their minds.  According to modern theories of conceptual change, if anything is going to happen, these people need to be confronted with “anomalous data,” i.e., hit over the head with data that doesn’t fit easily with their preconceived notions.

That’s what I’m hoping to accomplish, here.  Whether I could have done it more politely, or not, I’m hoping that Sen. Hatch will see that many of the things he’s been told about climate change are either flatly wrong, strongly debated among specialists, or somewhat irrelevant.  I’m hoping he will have a flash of insight in which he sees clearly that some of his preconceived notions might not be 100% correct.  I think a conservative Republican who became a close friend of Ted Kennedy could probably manage that.

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  1. It is difficult to believe that the Green cult of AGW and the ideology (hardly “theory”, which would actually require the existence of some shred of empirical evidence for the construction of its explanatory framework) of human induced global warming has actually inserted itself among the Latter Day Saints.

    The intellectual and ethical corruption it has worked within climate science has now apparently begun an equivalent work among some members of the LDS Church. The overtly ad hominem nature of the vast majority of this blog’s posts, as well as the frankly brazen intellectual dishonesty (or intellectual shoddiness, take your pick) of many of the claims made (many of the claims made in any random sample of recent posts here involve long discredited AGW shibboleths that no educated individual should be taking seriously any longer, which bespeaks, as is usually the case here, an ideology at work less any actual scientific evidence.) bespeak AGW’s very Achilles’s Heel: the utter lack of plausible empirical evidence for it. Other claims, such as that less than one percent of the signers of the Oregon Petition have PhD’s in the area of “climate science” are both irrelevant and hypocritical, as virtually the entire edifice of AGW has risen and fallen on the basis of computer modeling and of computer modelers such as Mann and Hansen, both with no degrees relating directly to “climate science” and who themselves have never done any empirical research. Computer modeling, please take note, is not empirical science (Note: in many cases and for many years in public arguments between skeptics and AGW cultists, degrees in earth sciences such as geophysics or geochemistry are absolute excluded from any legitimacy as relevant to the AGW debate, as are geology and mathematical physics, not to mention mathematics and statistics, which although not earth sciences, are quite relevant to determinations regarding the construction/manipulation of computer models and of graphs showing correlations between phenomena. This is, indeed how Mann was unmasked as a scientific fraud long ago).

    This credentialist ad hominem circumstantial is a well worn tactic of debate circumvention by proponents of AGW who have an ideological ax to grind but are, once the computer models are put aside and actual empirical evidence is asked for, bereft of an argument.

    That Gore’s almost inconceivably pseudoscientific propaganda film could actually be defended, at this juncture, as essentially accurate, after many years of savage debunking by actual scientists and other serious critical thinkers aware of the actual science in question can only be said to take one’s breath away.

    Once claim was made in one of the posts here that present temperatures had exceeded the high mark on the MWP and that the 90s contained the warmest years in the last thousand years. Both of these brazenly nonfactual claims could only be understood as either flat footed deception, or, hopefully, though still woefully, indicative of an unwillingness to do even the basic homework necessary to present the evidence in a fair and intellectually substantive manner.

    This blog also continues what is perhaps the most widely discredited and disingenuous (if not dishonest) assertion of all: that there is a “consensus” among scientists that the modest warming over the last century is both human caused and, in any serious sense, dangerous.

    No such “consensus” has ever existed in the simplistic sense claimed for it in some of these blog posts, and what consistency there was among scientists has evaporated over the last decade.

    Why? Lack of serious empirical evidence. Outside of the programs run on mainframe computers that have long been known to be utterly incapable of making the kinds of predictions claimed for them as well as being unreliable to a significant degree (they missed the last decades prominent cooling trend completely), there is:

    1. No compelling emprical evidence for AGW

    2. Virtually all the fundamental claims for AGW have either been empirically falsified, or rendered moot by counter-evidence and/or equally plausible alternative hypothesis.

    But its, far, far worse than this for Latter Day Saints. AGW is the Great White Hope of the international Left in its long, post Berlin Wall quest to recreate a rallying point and central organizing pretext for the desirability of socialism as a legitimate alternative to liberal democracy. It is also, in its other form, a kind of modern, militant pantheistic gnosticism; a quasi-secular, quasi-religious, anti-modern, anti-western, anti-free market, and ultimately, anti-human ideology of neo-primitivism and the moral equivalence of man and nature.

    That Latter Day Saints, of all people, could be drawn into the web of pseudoscience, Lysenkoistic groupthink, and hysterical doom mongering that has gripped the Great and Spacious Building for upwards of 20 years now, and contribute, wittingly or unwittingly, to the overarching agenda behind it, astounds.

    AGW’s place, ironically, within LDS doctrine and theology is properly as a “sign of the times”; as a part of the deceptions, confusion, and false teachings that will proliferate vigorously in the Last Days and which even some of the elect, if it were possible, may embrace.

    I believe we as LDS are to “come out from among them” and “be ye separate” from the World.

    Well, let’s get to it then.

    • Hi Loran,

      Your post makes it painfully apparent that, despite how sure of yourself you sound, you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. Let me give you a few examples.

      1. I know Mike Mann. He’s not a computer modeler. And if you had actually read anything he’s written, you would have found that he is in the business of collecting and analyzing paleoclimatological DATA.

      2. There is plenty of empirical evidence for human-induced climate change. See the page at this URL for some examples:

      3. The main tenets of AGW have only been “empirically falsified” in the minds of people who either haven’t examined the evidence, or wouldn’t know what to do with it if they had.

      4. How has the idea that there is a consensus among climate scientists been discredited, when in the last two years two major peer-reviewed studies of this question have both come to the same conclusion about it? Oh, yeah. It’s been “discredited” by some conspiracy theorist blogger, somewhere.

      5. If you had actually analyzed global temperature data (like I have,) you would have found that there hasn’t been cooling over the past decade.

      Before accusing people of fraud, do your homework. I don’t have time for your conspiracy theory trash.

  2. “Hi Loran,

    Your post makes it painfully apparent that, despite how sure of yourself you sound, you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. Let me give you a few examples.

    1. I know Mike Mann. He’s not a computer modeler. And if you had actually read anything he’s written, you would have found that he is in the business of collecting and analyzing paleoclimatological DATA.”

    Hello Barry.

    I’ve been following the descriptive science of AGW for almost two decades,as well as the economics and policy ramifications of the idea, and the ideology that lies at its root, and yes, though I am not a scientist myself, I do know what I’m talking about.

    My mistake on labeling Mann a modeler. He did generate his graphical representations using computer software for that purpose, but he is, as you say, not a climate modeler per se.

    I don’t care if you know Mann. Mann was discredited and outed as a scientific charlatan by messrs Mcintyre and MiKintric (and then confirmed by independent analysts) nearly 10 years ago relative to his quite tendentious project, in league with the little inner sanctum of government funded and/or ideologically determined compatriots engaged in similar data fudging at the CRU, to make the well empirically attested MWP disappear in an attempt to make the modest and well within natural limits warming of the last century look unusual.

    His history of refusal to share his computer code (the hiding of raw data and compurter code, a serious and rather shocking breech of scientific ethics by any measure, was standard practice at the CRU, resulting in numerous FOIA requests that were ignored by all concerned) with Mcintyre, as well as the splicing sequence (the now infamous attachment of ground temperature measurements onto the tree ring data when the data failed to show strong warming after 1980), and the revelation that his algorithms will produce hockey stick shapes irregardless of the data used as input, are now too well known to need any recapitulation.

    Three of the original series of reconstructions, two by Mann, one by Briffa, and one by Jones shows a downward tendency in temperature from 1980 onward except the insturmetnal series, which suddenly sprouts upward drastically. That, of course, became the basis of the “trick” used to “hide the decline”; when the proxy data was no longer valuable as data, they cherry picked one series (based on more recent ground surface measurements) that gave the longest measured temperature record, and grafted it onto the proxy series. But they didn’t stop there. With a little more fudge factoring whey were able to create the impression that the entire proxy data set aligned closely with the later instrumental series Again, as none of the original proxy reconstructions shows anything approximating the actual “hockey stick”, all of which show declines in temperature after 1980, that had to be created by splicing each of the them together until the entire series is shown spiking with the instrumental series after 1980. Did this accurately reflect nature? Well, the entire temperature record prior to 1850 is based on computer algorithms, and cannot be empirically verified with any degree of accuracy. You see Barry, the present warming, when contrasted to the MWP, doesn’t look all that impressive, and all the original proxy series show a continuation of a basically stable, variable climate of warmings and coolings, but nothing drastic. Until the late 20th century, when it shoots upward in the instrumental set. That upward spike has to be explained as either serious problems within the techniques of proxy reconstruction, or in some other manner.

    How was it done? By tying together the tails of the downward trending proxy measurements to Mann’s instrumental series. The result? The MWP all but disappears and AGW has “scientific” support. All we have here is massive fudge factoring and data manipulation to procure a preconceived outcome.

    The amalgamation of proxy with mid-to late 20th century ground temperature measurements are the “trick”, and had to be used because the proxy data simply could not be used to eliminate the MWP and make the end of the 20th century look unprecedented.

    “2. There is plenty of empirical evidence for human-induced climate change. See the page at this URL for some examples:

    I’ve looked throughout your blog, and at some of your longer debates with skeptics, and I’ve yet to find a single one, even when you have been asked repeatedly for clear arguments substantiating your position by your critics here. In point of fact, there is not a shred of direct, empirical evidence for AGW. There are the computer models and inferences from them, and observations of climate behavior and leaps of logic, including, in most cases, leaps of circular reasoning, that are claimed to justify the conclusion. What is missing is actual evidence.

    Instead of sending me to a movement front site, like the above or like Realclimate, where Mann retired after his scientific credibility evaporated, why not show us some empirical evidence?

    Look at this, from the site you linked to:

    “Direct observations find that CO2 is rising sharply due to human activity. Satellite and surface measurements find less energy is escaping to space at CO2 absorption wavelengths. Ocean and surface temperature measurements find the planet continues to accumulate heat. This gives a line of empirical evidence that human CO2 emissions are causing global warming.”

    I’m sorry Barry, but this wouldn’t pass muster in a freshmen logic class. It simply does not follow that because a is associated with b, and b is associated with c etc., that any of these phenomena necessarily cause d, e, or f. Nature is much more complex than that, and weak kneed inferential leaps of this kind will not hold up under critical analysis. Further, as there is no empirical evidence, as of yet, that CO2 has any role in actually driving or initiating planetary warming, and as its heat trapping ability deceases as its presence in the atmosphere rises, its sheer presence in the atmosphere represents no argument for AGW. Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have been upwards of twenty times present levels in the geologic past, and no human industry was present. Life, also, was particularly vigorous.

    The 20th century warming is well within natural variation, which is why, outside of the intense need to believe in AGW for ideological reasons, there are no public policy implications regarding it. We’re talking about a modest rise of a little over a half a degree C. in a little over a century – completely within known natural variations and small compared to past variations through geologic and historical time.

    “3. The main tenets of AGW have only been “empirically falsified” in the minds of people who either haven’t examined the evidence, or wouldn’t know what to do with it if they had.”

    Then I await, with your other interlocutor Roger, for some clear arguments/facts that would demonstrate that to be the case.

    “4. How has the idea that there is a consensus among climate scientists been discredited, when in the last two years two major peer-reviewed studies of this question have both come to the same conclusion about it? Oh, yeah. It’s been “discredited” by some conspiracy theorist blogger, somewhere.”

    Science does not work by consensus. That is a political means of coming to conclusions, not a scientific one, which is nothing less than an admission on your part that the science of AGW cannot, in practice, be disentangled from the ideology of AGW.

    In any case, tens of thousands of scientists and technologists (engineers and the like, who work in the fields of applied science and are more than qualified to critique the computer models, methodologies, and graphical representations of data) have come out in opposition to the concept, and many of them are eminent, including people like Balling, Singer, LIndzen etc., who would otherwise be listened to were it not for the overwhelming ideological stakes carried by the hypothesis.

    But you should really be more honest in your presentation of the evidence here. Its quite true that some 80% of scientists believe that planetary warming has occurred (its increased a little over a half a degree C since the turn of the century, and no one argues this). So do I.

    Its quite another to claim that this amount believe it is either human induced, or dangerous. Most believe it is human caused, but many would also tell you that there are significant uncertainties in this claim, that even if true, it may have little if any negative effect, and a significant minority will tell you that it is bunk.

    In point of fact, even those skeptics are still in somewhat of a minority, in science it will only take one study, by one or a team of researchers, to overturn the entire “consensus”.

    But I rest my case on the already easily available mountain of empirical science, from many allied earth sciences, showing AGW to be untenable, and will place that against the highly sophisticated but deeply flawed computer models that are at the base of the entire theory, and which do not and cannot model nature in anything approximating that which would be necessary to predict global climate dynamics out a week or so, let alone a hundred years.

    “5. If you had actually analyzed global temperature data (like I have,) you would have found that there hasn’t been cooling over the past decade.”

    Where does your data come from Barry? If its from any government agency, such as GISS, NOAA or NASA or other agencies up to their ears in the government sponsored “consensus’ view. Virtually all these agencies have been caught red handed in data fudging just since Climategate (Hansen stands out among them here) and until these traditional government funded gatekeepers of AGW orthodoxy are opened up to some transparency and made to observe basic scientific ethics, data is going to have to come under deep scrutiny from multiple sources before being accepted at face value.

    Others, I would dare say far more qualified than you to analyze such data, have come to a different conclusion.

    “Before accusing people of fraud, do your homework. I don’t have time for your conspiracy theory trash.”

    In any case, as I suspected you would, without adducing a single rational argument for your beliefs, you have sent me off to AGW front sites, and now attacked my personally. I’ve noticed this pattern in your other debates with critics here. I don’t recognize any conspiracy theorizing in my previous posting, and as I do not engage in such, preferring to leave that to the Left where it generally belongs, could you point it out for me, so I can refrain from it in future?

  3. I should also have pointed out above the deeply circular assumptions programmed into literally all the GCMs that have, up to now, been used as “evidence” for AGW. Every model assumes that CO2 drives, or causes climatic warming as it increases in the atmosphere, even though, empirically speaking, no evidence exists to support this view.

    Indeed, in each and every case of warming and cooling we have in the paleoclimatological record, CO2 rise always lags warming by an average of 800 years (the spread is, I believe, is between 200 and 2,500 years) and then lags again as the earth cools.

    The GCM’s show CO2 leading and causing warming as a primary causal mechanism, while the empirical evidence shows warming and cooling as causal factors in the behavior of CO2, the exact reverse.

    The famous 650,000 year reconstruction Gore used in his propaganda film An Inconvenient Truth shows the graph and shows the very close correlation between CO2 and temperature variation – but separates them widely (one below the other) so the viewer cannot see the obvious lag of CO2 behind temperature throughout the record.

    That was a perceptual trick not of the same complexity, but of the same kind and with the same intent, as Mann’s and his exclusive club at the CRU.

    CO2 certainly has some minor, if important regulatory role in the overall climate system in mediating climatic conditions. Until empirical evidence turns up, however, showing that CO2 actually drives warming and has a major causal role, the computer models are assuming a major feature of the natural world that does not actually exist and function as assumed.

    But why change them, when climatology now has so many useful policy implications?

    • Hi Loran,

      As for your accusations about Mike Mann and the hockey stick graph, I already explained why I think the whole “scandal” about it is trumped up nonsense here:

      I can say this because I’ve actually read the papers in question, and I’m in a position to know what passes for legitimate science, and what doesn’t. Mann, Jones, et al., didn’t do anything wrong, and it disgusts me that some Latter-day Saints are involved in propagating such conspiracy theories and smearing the reputations of innocent people.

      What’s more, I actually took a “freshman logic class,” as part of a minor in philosophy. I also took courses in the history and philosophy of science, and frankly, you don’t seem to understand how it works. The basic “scientific method” is “hypothetico-deductive.” I.e., you make up a hypothesis that explains some set of data, then you use deductive logic to figure out what else the hypothesis would predict, and you see if you can test any of those predictions. If the predictions pan out, the hypothesis is given more credence, but it can never be absolutely proven. If some of the predictions don’t pan out, you either throw out the hypothesis or monkey with it a bit. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what, exactly, is wrong, so you don’t necessarily throw out a good hypothesis that explains most of the data. The quote you culled from the Skeptical Science website is a decent example of this kind of thinking, whereas you seem to want direct proof of causation in a complex system. I’m sorry, but science just won’t ever give you that. Isn’t it nice to be able to set the bar impossibly high for climate science, and then demand the scientists meet your standards before you will take them seriously?

      You “rest your case” on the “mountains” of empirical evidence that you say proves it, but then whenever you bring something up, it turns out you left out some of the relevant facts. (See the linked post about the hockeystick graph.)

      Finally, you are wrong about the temperature trend of the last decade. A few minutes ago I downloaded the HadCRUT3v monthly temperature data and did a least-squares regression of the last 10 years. The slope is positive.

    • As for your point about CO2 lagging temperature increases during the glacial/interglacial cycles, this has been explained over, and over, and over. If you had bothered to read anything from the other side of the fence, you would have discovered that it’s just basic geochemistry (my specialty). (And yes, I agree that Al Gore could have done a better job of explaining this topic.)

      During these cycles, the main “driver” of climate change was changes in the Earth’s tilt with respect to the Sun and changes in the Earth’s orbit. Since nobody was pumping massive amounts of extra CO2 into the atmosphere, obviously it couldn’t have been driving climate changes on it’s own. Rather, it was one of the “feedbacks”.

      Here’s how that works. CO2 gets dissolved in the ocean, but the higher the water temperature, the less CO2 can be dissolved, so it goes back into the atmosphere. The CO2 in the atmosphere adds to the warming, and some other positive feedbacks kick in as well. The main reason the CO2 peaks after the temperature is because it takes several hundred years for the deep ocean water to cycle up to the surface, where it can exchange CO2 with the atmosphere.

      The temperature changes during the glacial/interglacial cycles are actually larger than you would get from just 1) changes in solar input, 2) changes in the reflectivity of the Earth from melting ice sheets, etc., and 3) more CO2 in the atmosphere. It turns out that to explain the big changes, you HAVE TO have some hefty positive feedbacks in the system.

      When you say it’s just an “assumption” that adding CO2 will produce significant warming, you are really saying that the models assume positive feedbacks in the system. Well, as I explained, that’s something the paleoclimatologists have deduced from EMPIRICAL DATA, without computer models. You can calculate it on the back of an envelope, for Pete’s sake.

      Please consider the possibility that your ultraconservative websites have been giving you incomplete (and sometimes plainly false) information. I was something of a climate skeptic myself a few years ago, but when I started rigorously looking into the matter I was gobsmacked by how blatantly dishonest the contrarian community has been. I’m telling you, you’ve been hoodwinked.

  4. [...] a few days after I posted Explaining Orrin Hatch, in which I talked about why I think Orrin Hatch is a reasonable person who is worth talking to [...]

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