Free Markets, Free People

Krauthammer takes the hammer to the myth of “settled science”

In a great column by Charles Krauthammer, he those who spout the “settled science” mantra their just due:

“The debate is settled,” asserted propagandist in chief Barack Obama in his latest State of the Union address. “Climate change is a fact.” Really? There is nothing more anti-scientific than the very idea that science is settled, static, impervious to challenge. Take a non-climate example. It was long assumed that mammograms help reduce breast cancer deaths. This fact was so settled that Obamacare requires every insurance plan to offer mammograms (for free, no less) or be subject to termination.

Now we learn from a massive randomized study — 90,000 women followed for 25 years — that mammograms may have no effect on breast cancer deaths. Indeed, one out of five of those diagnosed by mammogram receives unnecessary radiation, chemo or surgery.

So much for settledness. And climate is less well understood than breast cancer. If climate science is settled, why do its predictions keep changing? And how is it that the great physicist Freeman Dyson, who did some climate research in the late 1970s, thinks today’s climate-change Cassandras are hopelessly mistaken?

A fair and unanswered question to this point.  Instead alarmists offer excuses or twist science in such a way it is unrecognizable in order to justify their claims.  Krauthammer continues:

They deal with the fluid dynamics of the atmosphere and oceans, argues Dyson, ignoring the effect of biology, i.e., vegetation and topsoil. Further, their predictions rest on models they fall in love with: “You sit in front of a computer screen for 10 years and you start to think of your model as being real.” Not surprisingly, these models have been “consistently and spectacularly wrong” in their predictions, write atmospheric scientists Richard McNider and John Christy — and always, amazingly, in the same direction.

Settled? Even Britain’s national weather service concedes there’s been no change — delicately called a “pause” — in global temperature in 15 years. If even the raw data is recalcitrant, let alone the assumptions and underlying models, how settled is the science?

Precisely.  Climate change is happening because climate change always happens.  Climate isn’t a static thing.  But suddenly, using these wildly innaccurate and downright wrong models, “scientists” are trying to lay off the responsibility for that change on man.  Nothing new there.  The extreme left of environmentalism sees man as an intruder to be gotten rid of rather than a natural part of the world.  And they, for one, see this as an opportunity to work toward that goal.  The politicians, of course, see revenue.  It is a dangerous combination.

Krauthammer then covers the alarmists attempts to use weather events as harbingers of climate change.  But just like the temperatures these past 15 years, the data just doesn’t support their claims:

But even worse than the pretense of settledness is the cynical attribution of any politically convenient natural disaster to climate change, a clever term that allows you to attribute anything — warming and cooling, drought and flood — to man’s sinful carbon burning.

Accordingly, Obama ostentatiously visited drought-stricken California last Friday. Surprise! He blamed climate change. Here even the New York Times gagged, pointing out that far from being supported by the evidence, “the most recent computer projections suggest that as the world warms, California should get wetter, not drier, in the winter.”

How inconvenient. But we’ve been here before. Hurricane Sandy was made the poster child for the alleged increased frequency and strength of “extreme weather events” like hurricanes.

Nonsense. Sandy wasn’t even a hurricanewhen it hit the United States. Indeed, in all of 2012, only a single hurricane made U.S. landfall . And 2013 saw the fewest Atlantic hurricanes in 30 years. In fact, in the last half-century, one-third fewer major hurricanes have hit the United States than in the previous half-century.

Similarly tornadoes. Every time one hits, the climate-change commentary begins. Yet last year saw the fewest in a quarter-century. And the last 30 years — of presumed global warming — has seen a 30 percent decrease in extreme tornado activity (F3 and above) versus the previous 30 years.

Facts.  My goodness how to explain pure and simple facts that contradict the “settled science.” They can’t.

He concludes beautifully with a stake through the heart of “settled science” myth and calls it what it really is – whoring.  Science whoring and political whoring:

None of this is dispositive. It doesn’t settle the issue. But that’s the point. It mocks the very notion of settled science, which is nothing but a crude attempt to silence critics and delegitimize debate. As does the term “denier” — an echo of Holocaust denial, contemptibly suggesting the malevolent rejection of an established historical truth.

Climate-change proponents have made their cause a matter of fealty and faith. For folks who pretend to be brave carriers of the scientific ethic, there’s more than a tinge of religion in their jeremiads. If you whore after other gods, the Bible tells us, “the Lord’s wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit” (Deuteronomy 11).

Sounds like California. Except that today there’s a new god, the Earth Mother. And a new set of sins — burning coal and driving a fully equipped F-150.

But whoring is whoring, and the gods must be appeased. So if California burns, you send your high priest (in carbon -belching Air Force One, but never mind) to the bone-dry land to offer up, on behalf of the repentant congregation, a $1 billion burnt offering called a “climate resilience fund.”

Ah, settled science in action.


UPDATE: Speaking of “settled science”, one of the biggest proponents of that mantra can’t even get short range forecasts right:

The Met Office’s ‘pitiful’ forecasts were under fire last night after it was revealed it told councils in November to expect ‘drier than usual’ conditions this winter. In the worst weather prediction since Michael Fish reassured the nation in October 1987 that there was no hurricane on the way, forecasters said the Somerset Levels – still under water after more than two months of flooding – and the rest of the West Country would be especially dry. Last night, it was confirmed the UK had instead suffered the wettest winter since records began.


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32 Responses to Krauthammer takes the hammer to the myth of “settled science”

  • “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.”
    Michael Crichton (2003 at Cal Inst of Tech)
    As an editorial in the WSJ pointed out, the Flat Earthers were the consensus guys.  As usual, the Collectivists stand things on their heads.  They HATE science and modernity.

    • I always like to remind these folks that the last international consensus was that … there ware stockpiles of WMD in Iraq.
      That consensus work out so well as you remember.

      • It was a consensus based on good information. Intel gathering ISN’T Science.
        And then,m too, the convoys leaving Iraq in the weeks and months before the invasion, which was held off for, what, seven months?, was pretty well documented. Your point would be valid if the allied forces just dropped in unannounced.
        I mean, if you knew months in advance your mother would clean out your sock drawer, wouldn’t you get rid of your PLAYBOY and PENTHOUSE (or, maybe PLAYGIRL if that’s the way you swing) magazines beforehand?

        • “Intel gathering ISN’T Science.”
          Extrapolating temperatures from tree rings is more like intel than science science. I mean you can re-grow those trees and replicate the experiment to check your data.

  • I don’t get upset when ignorant tools call me a ‘denier.’  I laugh in their faces and call them ‘Hot Earthers.’  They stamp away in high dudgeon and I’m left in peace until the next idiot happens along.

    • I like WARM-mongers.  Which has the added brightening and whitening power of alliteration.  I think Mark Steyn came up with that, but could not swear to it.

      I’m now going to start calling these people “global warming Nazis”.

      The pseudo-scientific ramblings by their leaders have falsely warned of mass starvation, ecological collapse, agricultural collapse, overpopulation…all so that the masses would support their radical policies. Policies that would not voluntarily be supported by a majority of freedom-loving people.

      They are just as guilty as the person who cries “fire!” in a crowded theater when no fire exists. Except they threaten the lives of millions of people in the process.

      Like the Nazis, they advocate the supreme authority of the state (fascism), which in turn supports their scientific research to support their cause (in the 1930s, it was superiority of the white race).

      Dissenting scientific views are now jack-booted through tactics like pressuring scientific journals to not publish papers with which they disagree…even getting journal editors to resign.

      Like the Nazis, they are anti-capitalist. They are willing to sacrifice millions of lives of poor people at the altar of radical environmentalism, advocating expensive energy policies that increase poverty. And if there is a historically demonstrable threat to humanity, it is poverty.

      I’m not talking about those who think we should be working toward new forms of energy to eventually displace our dependence of fossil fuels. Even I believe in that; after all, fossil fuels are a finite resource.

      I’m instead talking about the extremists. They are the ones who are sure they are right, and who are bent on forcing their views upon everyone else. Unfortunately, the extremists are usually the only ones you hear from in the media, because they scream the loudest and make the most outrageous claims.

      They invoke “consensus”, which results from only like-minded scientists who band together to support a common cause.

  • thank you Ragspierre for that quote…very much to the point…

  • I note that frequently the hot earth warm mongers 🙂 and I disagree about several other subjects as well.
    I am too old to worry about being popular with or well regarded by idiots.
    Hmmmm, the average Washington Republican politician should take note of that when trying to be liked by the media.

  • Careening from one explanation to another to resolve all of the variances between empiric evidence and their pet theory is proof enought that science is not being practiced.

  • Krauthammer makes a mistake to pick a Canadian Study that, surprise, gives the Canadian Government’s socialized medical system a pass for not properly screening women, assuming it was done in an sincere altruist search for the truth.

    • He didn’t use it as gospel, but to help (since there are collaborative studies) illustrate that a “concensus” isn’t a valid indicator of what is a knowable scientific fact…or at least observation.

      • Quite!
        Not too long ago, the consensus suggested, or damn near mandated, removing kids tonsils for various silly reasons,
        And not long ago, consensus said being left-handed was some sort of affinity with the devil. Poor Warren Spahn and Sandy Koufax!

  • Liberals want to blame everything on climate change, from any significant weather event to beached whales to the proliferation of boring beetles. The latest is that the left even wants to blame earthquakes on global warming. Well, not exactly. But they do claim that oil and gas extraction is causing earthquakes. Well, I have my own theory. I’m not a scientist, but I do watch a lot of the Discovery Channel with my 11-year-old daughter, and I say global warming will result in more meteorites hitting the Earth. That’s right. I say carbon dioxide and other greenhouses gases are displacing oxygen, resulting in an atmospheric shift that will deplete the accelerants that are necessary to completely incinerate asteroids before they impact the Earth’s surface. Why not? Sounds about as reasonable as a lot of the other wacky claims about global warming that are out there.

  • Buckle Up, It’s Going to Be a Bumpy Future The bad news is that research suggests our travel is likely to get bumpier in the coming decades. Computer models have predicted that climate change and increased carbon dioxide levels will speed up the jet stream, leading to more serious episodes by 2050.

    “We’re talking about a doubling of the frequency and a 10-40 percent increase in strength,” said Williams, who authored a study that examined the future of turbulence along the trans-Atlantic route, published last year in the Nature Climate science journal. Another study that looked at a 10-year collection of U.S. pilot reports of turbulence, did log a “slight increase in their numbers over time,” the study’s author NCAR researcher Robert Sharman wrote to NBC News in an email.

    • Computer models….gee, let me help the young bucks out with a reminder that is as true today as it was when I first heard it.
      Garbage in, Garbage out.
      I realize that’s passe with all the best language evers and magical solve all your problems graphic IDEs used today, but there it is.
      Cool looking junk is still junk.

      • When I was a kid, I built a lot of airplane models, but when I threw them up in the air, not one of them flew! Every last one crashed. EVERY. LAST. ONE! What was I missing?

      • Whenever you read a media article about climate, be very careful to see if they are talking about data or modeled data. Very, very often the reporter assumes that modeled data = data and reports the models “data” as fact, when its not.

    Scroll through this site and discover just how much there ISN’T a consensus.  The comments on the articles are usually the best part.

  • It’s a good article, but Krauthammer begins with, “I repeat: I’m not a global warming believer. I’m not a global warming denier. I’ve long believed that it cannot be good for humanity to be spewing tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”
    Well, perhaps he doesn’t know that humanity is only contributing about 3.5% of annual CO2 production, that CO2 forcing is logarithmically inverse, and that CO2 is PLANT FOOD.

    • I would counter that, not only is it a good thing, it has been on balance one of the best things in human history.
      By learning to burn stuff, mankind started a process by which we keep ourselves warm, cool, clothed, traveled, and healthy, while providing for good eats the like of which kings could not dream of not long ago.
      Cost/benefit analysis shows that virtually nothing you could name has been such a going-away success.

      • Nah, led to eating animals ya see.  They got way more tasty when they were smoked over mesquite or applewood. No no, way better living in dark cold holes like the northern states when storms take out the power.

    • And when you consider that as CO2 levels get down towards 200 ppm, as they are/were on their way to, then plants start to stop growing (and that there is really no naturally achievable upper limit on earth that harms plants or animals). Consider all the CO2 that was once in the atmosphere and has since been bound up as limestone, other minerals, oil & gas etc and you have to wonder if we weren’t headed toward a natural disaster in the next epoch anyway. Maybe burning some of this stuff back into the atmosphere is actually going to prolong life on earth, at least as we know it.

  • If you find a good skeptic site, and read through their skeptical look at climate, along with reading their comments, you can get a decent grasp on both sides of the argument.
    Don’t bother reading warmist sites, as you will be simply be snowed under a blizzard of unintelligible scientificky stuff.  (This occurs with some of the worse skeptic sites too.)
    The better skeptic sites do a better job presenting the areas of contention in a way that a lay person can follow.
    For example, how much does CO2 actually affect the temperature….obviously if you made a model, which would be a big equation essentially, then there is a coefficient there for that. How big or small is that coefficient matters greatly. The main research is done in Hawaii and the number keeps changing, mainly getting lower. So there is no way to claim “the science is settled”, as they are still doing the science.
    Second thing you will notice is how often they have instrument error that has to be adjusted. Nothing wrong with that, but when you have massive swings in what ocean temps are, from “not warming” to “slightly warming” within a few years due to instrument error, well, you have to realize all of their data is a bit fluid. This is not to say its “massaged” or “faked” but since it can change so much, perhaps you would not want to claim “the science is settled” if you plan to find instrument errors in a few years that completely change your results.
    I am referring to the Argo ocean temp system, which is pretty new. To their credit, this is on their web page:
    “The global Argo dataset is not yet long enough to observe global change signals. Seasonal and interannual variability dominate the present 7-year globally-averaged time series. Sparse global sampling during 2004-2005 can lead to substantial differences in statistical analyses of ocean temperature and trend (or steric sea level and its trend, e.g. Leuliette and Miller, 2009). Analyses of decadal changes presently focus on comparison of Argo to sparse and sometimes inaccurate historical data. Argo’s greatest contributions to observing the global oceans are still in the future, but its global span is clearly transforming the capability to observe climate-related changes.”

    Do you think anyone in the media is going to read and digest that caveat?


    Do you think anyone goes back and fixes stories written years ago when the sensors had errors that are now fixed?


    The science is not settled and needs decades to be even close. Remember, 30 years is the base unit of climate.  By the way, this should temper skeptics on the 15 years of no additional increase. We have another 15 to go.

    • The fact is that the direct contribution of CO2 will result in minimal warming. The AGW theory is really that positive feedback loops (“forcing”) will cause much more warming. I would expect a priori that any feedback loops would be negative overall; positive feedback loops are typical for unstable systems. If our climate was unstable we probably would not be here.

      The trick they use is that they confuse between the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and what AGW is actually based upon. Hence, in the aftermath of Climategate, the head of the EPA put on a show for Congress where she filled a small greenhouse with very high levels of CO2, and therby “proved” her point to all who don’t understand what the debate is all about (and these ignorant souls get to think they are the scientific ones).

      In fact, what she proved is that either she 1) does not understand the debate and is thereby unqualified to comment, or hold her position or 2) she is lying.

  • Silence, there is no debate!   Krauthammer lies!    No one should publish his stuff, and we shouldn’t discuss it, because, uh, freedom!