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« Air Conditioning and Civilization | Main | The Fantasies That Women's Magazines Sell »

July 30, 2009

Climate Models Written in ... Fortran?!?

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I was surprised to learn that climate models used by the U.S. government were written in the Fortran programming language. My reaction was: Good Lord! No wonder the results are questionable.

Actually, the results of almost any computer model used to forecast or predict should be taken with more than a grain or two of salt. I say this because I myself have designed and programmed a number of forecasting systems (for demographics).

Normally the programming language used to write a model is not a factor in evaluation of the model's results. If it accurately transmits the modeler's intentions to the computer, then that part of the effort is fine.

The problem with Fortran is that, while it was a major step for programming computers when it was first developed, it contained a number of features that made large-scale programs risky to use. More modern programming languages are built around the concept of what is (or was) called "structured coding" whereby various tasks are isolated functional units that are invoked by more general task blocs (what I just stated is hugely simplified).

For many years, Fortran was an "unstructured" language. A Fortran program might take the form of one large unit incorporating line numbers and "GOTO" statements that would change the (top-to-bottom) execution order of the program listing. That is, the computer would be directed to hop and skip all over the listing if that was what was required. The result was that Fortran programs were quite hard to understand and debug if they had very much complexity at all. Structured programs are comparatively easy to deal with, though still subject to plenty of risk of programming error.

The Wikipedia entry on Fortran is here, if you are interested in learning more about it.

As it turns out, Fortan has been tamed over the years into a structured language. The climate models were done using Fortran 90. It is mentioned in the previous link. Program code can be accessed via links under the first linkage. Indeed, the Fortran used in the climate models seems pretty well structured in that I saw plenty of control statements that had no GOTOs.

Even so, I'd be happier if the climate models had been programmed in something more modern than Fortran 90. This is probably irrational on my part, but I can't help it. After all, I'm an APL (and its descendants) snob.

Later,

Donald

posted by Donald at July 30, 2009




Comments

Fortran ah yes, I remember it well. High School, mid 70s. Wrote 20 line programs that would result in a tape that would be mailed to Northwestern University's (I believe) mainframe. We'd get the result in the form of a printout a week later informing us that there was an error on line such and such.

Don't think I ever did get the answer to what are all the prime numbers between 1 and 10,000!

Posted by: Jim Iska on July 30, 2009 9:48 PM



Modern FORTRAN is a whole lot better; you don't need to use a GOTO in Fortran any more than you need to use one in C, and that's been the case since the mid 80s when I used VAX/11 Fortran.

Also, a big reason for using Fortran is it's far better for serious supercomputer parallelization than something like C++ would be.

And as for "managed" VM-using languages like Java, Python, etc? They're great for web programming and networking "glueware", but not for number crunching. Those VMs seriously get in the way.

But on the whole topic of AGW, the problem is the models don't work and can't predict the past, much less the future. Wall Street had far better programmers using vastly more powerful computers trying to model the world economy, and they failed miserably. And the world economy is way simpler than global climate.

Posted by: Foobarista on July 31, 2009 12:16 AM



I learned an Algol-like language in the mid 60s; we were taught to program in a way that I later learned to call "structured". When in the late 70s I was asked to assess, and perhaps refurbish, a simulator written in Fortran, I was appalled by what I found. Happily I was able to point out that the simulator was not only an undocumented jungle, but its maths was clumsy and its physics was wrong.

Posted by: dearieme on July 31, 2009 6:35 AM



There's nothing wrong with using any language to do any job, the performance of the program is more directly related to the skill of the programmer, not the language. FORTRAN's been around for a long time, and programmers in it just as long. Beyond that, it's been modernized, as the Wikipedia article states, to accommodate modern programming techniques. Your complaint is the effective equivalent of "the government's buying Fords? I had a '72 Ford once and it leaked oil like a bastard! What are they thinking?"

As to AGW specifically, not all climate models are necessarily written in FORTRAN, just the specific ones from NASA's site (I applaud your getting your information from primary sources for a change, though). Temperature data is collected by, and climate models created by, dozens of organizations (NASA, NOAA, IPCC, NSF, etc). Even within these organizations, there are multiple groups collecting and analyzing data from multiple sources. It's the fact that all of these data points and models match that leads to consensus in the scientific community. If all of the data that indicated AGW were gathered and interpreted by one group, such a complaint about the gathering or modeling methods would be sufficient to put the evidence in question. But, since we've got research going back 70 years collected by thousands of scientists all pointing to the same conclusions, we've got sufficient evidence to back every other piece of evidence.

Are there odd data points and conclusions? Sure, but there's nothing out there right now in the "against" pile that even puts a dent in the evidence in the "for" pile.

@Foobarista: Yes, and meteorologists can't predict what the weather will be tomorrow. So, what's your point? One has nothing to do with the other.

Posted by: Upstate Guy on July 31, 2009 8:13 AM



Upstate guy: "...But, since we've got research going back 70 years collected by thousands of scientists all pointing to the same conclusions, we've got sufficient evidence to back every other piece of evidence..."

70 years? Heck, paleoanthropologists have been studying and reconstructing paleoclimate for decades from empirical data, so the really long term climate patterns--as in deep geological time, not years or even mere decades--are known. Cooling to warming cycles (and vice versa) in the deep past took hundreds of thousands of years. There is a context against which the current changes can be compared.

Posted by: KR on July 31, 2009 10:39 AM



Ah, FORTRAN. You are bringing back memories of my stint administering meteorology computers for a university.

Anyway, the chance of switching to a different language from FORTRAN are about the same as changing the bank systems from COBOL, except less.

Two reasons: there are approximately 50 jillion lines of FORTRAN code out there, and no-one has the manpower or dollars to rewrite them, and two, many of the "programmers" are actually atmospheric scientists who've learned programming on the fly as grad students (who do you think wrote 40 of the 50 jillion lines) and aren't enormously entranced with the idea of learning a *different* language to make the computer science geeks happy.

I'm sure new projects that don't depend on previous work may be written in shiny new languages, but it's like the banks with their core banking software written in COBOL: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

As for reliability, it may take a decade or two to shake out all the bugs from complicated programs. A 10,000,000 line program completely rewritten from scratch using all the latest programming paradigms is still going to have an order of magnitude more bugs than a 10,000,000 line program, of which 10,000 lines were rewritten specifically for this project and the rest taken from long-used code, even if us CS types are whimpering at the idea.

Posted by: Tom West on July 31, 2009 2:49 PM



Don't know about the world economy being "way simpler than global climate." Human beings are labile creatures, and I seriously doubt that the global economy will ever be modeled in a way that allows speculators to make reliable predictions for instance.

OTH, climate science is a very young science. Someday we might be able to model the climate, but not until we have identified all the factors involved, which we haven't.

Posted by: Luke Lea on July 31, 2009 2:59 PM



"It's the fact that all of these data points and models match that leads to consensus in the scientific community" is probably the most risible comment I've ever read on Global Warmmongering.

Posted by: dearieme on July 31, 2009 5:45 PM



Like others have said, there's no valid reason at all to scoff at programs written in Fortran. Assuming there are no domain-specific constraints, I'll take a competently written program in Fortran, C, or even assembly over an incompetent mess written in whatever fancy-sounding modern language any time. For number crunching applications, especially when they require mass parallelism, Fortran is still an excellent tool, even without considering the vast existing code base.

As for the climate models, I'm not an expert at all, but from what I know about models in general, I'd be surprised if they had any real predictive power. The analogy with models in finance and macroeconomics isn't accurate -- those are even more hopeless, because even if a working model were found, the knowledge gained from the model would become a new critically influential variable rendering all the predictions worthless. (Not that they have much value even regardless of this fundamental logical problem.) With climate, at least the process is independent of any predictions made about it. Still, I wouldn't bet any money on the present predictions of any of those models for the next few decades being reasonably accurate.

Posted by: Vladimir on July 31, 2009 7:39 PM



The fault, dear Horatio, lies not in the programming language but in the programmer.

Fortran is a great programming language especially for numerical analysis applications. The most significant upgrade was the DEC VAX extensions of the '80s and improvements continue. When I was in the aerospace industry I must have written a million lines of code in Fortran (by the way the modern spelling of FORTRAN !).

If you want to rassle a bear and at the same time try to avoid wrapping yourself around an axle; try c++.

Posted by: Paul on July 31, 2009 10:10 PM



I use one of those ancient languages so obscure that googling it won't turn up any specifics (being proprietary also contributes to that). I don't like it, but there's just too much legacy code.

Fortran has long been used for science/engineering, so I don't think it's any knock on climate scientists that they use it as well.

Posted by: TGGP on August 1, 2009 1:58 AM



I have no idea what y'all are talking about where computer languages are concerned, but let me venture a thought where the eco world goes.

I'm a very big fan of eco stuff -- my inner Greeniness knows few limits. But even so I'm horrified by the mainstream eco world's commitment to global warming as a grand vision and a grand cause. Two main reasons.

1) What if it turns out not to be true? Then they'll have completely discredited themselves, as well as a cause that I care very much about.

2) There's so much that can be done on a much smaller and more realistic scale. Why sacrifice those bits of progress for the sake of something HUGE that may go nowhere?

Don't we all know from day to day life that piecemeal and modest progress is the way to go? While grand remake-the-world ambitions usually create worse messes than they set out to solve? (Except occasionally, of course.)

Hey, one second of news surfing turns up an easy example:

http://bit.ly/JdPxx

Reducing gunk and filth in the Great Lakes -- do-able and worthwhile, and plenty ambitious for this Greenie.

Anyway: overcommitting to Global Warming seems to this Greenie to be a gigantic mistake.

It's also a mistake distinctive to the mainstream eco world, a point I think is worth making. As far as I can tell, the wilder and more extreme ecopeople aren't nearly as devoted to the cause as, say, the Sierra Club is.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 1, 2009 12:05 PM



Personally I have no problem with Fortran being used here. The difficulty is in designing the model. The implementation of it shouldn't be the problem. In any case, it would be possible to screw up the implementation in any language, though perhaps it would be slightly easier in some than others.

Posted by: Ed on August 1, 2009 4:54 PM



@KR: Holy crap! You're right! Not one single scientist in the history of the whole AGW debate has EVER considered that there are natural warming trends before. We need to get that information out NOW! Thank every single one of the gods for you! Seriously, where would we be without you providing everyone with the most obviously overlooked fact of all: it's been warm before! Wow...

Seriously, do you think you're the first person to think of this? Do you REALLY think none of these things have been taken into account? Are you so arrogant that you believe you've "cracked the case" on AGW? "Forget what all that research tells you, it's been warm before!" The question isn't "have there been warming trends before?" the question is "why are we in one right now?" There are typically three factors that drive climate change on a natural basis: strong volcanic activity, solar activity & Milankovitch cycles. We're supposed to be on the downward slope of the current Milankovich cycle (which means we're supposed to be on our way to the next Ice Age), solar activity has been static over the last three decades and we haven't had more than a few volcanoes in the last 4-5 decades. All of these factors means the temperature and CO2 levels should be on the decrease, but they're increasing.

In other words, you need to stop watching Fox "News" when getting your science. You need to interact with actual scientists who don't have an agenda of making a fortune by denying AGW.

@dearieme: probably the most risible comment I've ever read on Global Warmmongering.

Really? What's got you laughing? NOAA, NASA, EPA, AGU, AIP, Royal Society of the UK, Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, the academies of sciences from 19 countries...oh, yeah, and the IPCC as well...all agree that anthropogenic emissions are the predominant cause of global warming. Why? Because all of the evidence point to it.

So, laughy pants, what evidence you got on your side?

Posted by: Upstate Guy on August 1, 2009 7:52 PM



Upstate Guy

In other words, you need to stop watching Fox "News" when getting your science. You need to interact with actual scientists who don't have an agenda of making a fortune by denying AGW.

Maybe you need to interact with scientists who don't have an agenda of making a fortune by pushing global warming. You ass.

I'll believe in global warming when the greatest "greenhouse" gas (BTW, the earth isn't a greenhouse), water vapor, which is 100 times more prevalent than CO2, is admitted to be far more important than CO2. Because 70% of the earth is covered with water. You know, those big fluffy things floating in the sky--yep, water vapor. You ass.

Hey, maybe fluctuations in the sun's output might be responsoble for climate changes. You know, that big fireball that heats the earth up from near absolute zero to approximately 60 degrees F. Fluctuations in that thing. You ass.

Thank the Lord we have the brightest bulbs looking at this, like you. We need smart(?) people to save us all from small temperature changes. You, Will Smith, and Al G(wh)ore. Thanks for the useless input. You ass.

Posted by: B on August 1, 2009 11:07 PM



Oh My God! People doing climate research program computers with a 50 year old computer language intended for scientific calculations. How horrible, how primitive!

Jeeze, I know of people who send messages hither and thither using words made of alphabetic characters, a technology almost 5000 years old. This is just so so terrible!

Posted by: mike shupp on August 2, 2009 2:15 AM



Upstate and DavidR, here is how these "scientists" operate.

"We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it." Don't recognize the quote? You should - but try Googling it. Ya learn something new every day.

You'll note that the Soviet Union contained large numbers of both "scientists" and scientists. As well as many prestigious acronyms, admittedly in Cyrillic. Nonetheless, if you wish to rely on Soviet research, you're well-advised to do your own due diligence to discover whether it is "science" or science.

You'll note also that if you compare the organizational structures of (a) the pre-WWII Western scientific establishment to (b) the post-WWII Western scientific establishment to (c) the Soviet scientific establishment, you'll see that (b) looks a heck of a lot more like (c) than (a).

Namely, (b) and (c) are both centrally planned and funded by a very small number of agencies, in an extremely small number of governments. It's pretty easy to create official pseudoscience under this regime, employing as many "scientists" as you care to shake a stick at.

To summarize: AGW is based on two "sciences," paleoclimatology and climate modeling. Paleoclimatology is rife with massaged and invented numbers, and even if performed honestly cannot distinguish causation from correlation. Climate modeling pretends to model a chaotic system that could not be accurately modeled with ten or twenty more orders of magnitude of computer power, and brazenly asserts that hindcasting can validate a model. Since neither displays anything like Popperian falsifiability, they are "science" rather than science.

Yes, it's disturbing that our political system funds and nurtures pseudoscience, and makes major financial decisions based on it. Then again, if you didn't already find that system disturbing, your head may have been in the sand for quite some time!

Posted by: Mencius on August 2, 2009 4:55 PM



@B: "Maybe you need to interact with scientists who don't have an agenda of making a fortune by pushing global warming. You ass."

And, who exactly are these scientists making a fortune on this? Seriously, let's see some names. I hear this tripe all the time, yet no one can tell me who is getting rich off of global warming aside from the oil companies by deluding saps like you that it doesn't exist.

"I'll believe in global warming when the greatest "greenhouse" gas (BTW, the earth isn't a greenhouse), water vapor, which is 100 times more prevalent than CO2, is admitted to be far more important than CO2."

There's actually FOUR greenhouse gases that are of primary importance (actually, there are more, but these four are the biggies): CO2, water vapor, methane and CFCs. All four are accounted for in the science, all four's roles are well established and documented. Now, what YOU are talking about is what little information that is put out by the media. CO2 levels correspond exactly with the rise in temps over the last few decades, and is therefore the easiest to show people. It's also the one most people can do something about since CFCs aren't commercially produced in large scales anymore, methane's primary contributor is ruminants and water...well, as you point out, it's everywhere. Oh, and it's called an analogy, dimwit. The gases act similarly to how a greenhouse acts, so it's used as a descriptor. No one except a few wacko fundies believes the Earth is surrounded by a crystal sphere.

"Hey, maybe fluctuations in the sun's output might be responsoble for climate changes. You know, that big fireball that heats the earth up from near absolute zero to approximately 60 degrees F. Fluctuations in that thing. You ass."

I, believe, I mentioned solar activity in my post. Have whoever read it to you read it again slower. Solar activity over the last three decades has been relatively stable, yet temps continue to rise. Also, average temps on other planets where we have equipment on and around it have not been rising. The sun thing's been done to death, get a clue, please. Your arguments were weak years ago when they were debunked. Now they're just sad.

@Mencius : Oh, good! Mr. "I read a lot so I know what I'm talking about, but I don't understand it so I just make up paranoid fantasies to fill in the gaps" has joined the conversation. Thank you for your contribution, it has been filed with the appropriate authorities. Please continue to hit the bong until they arrive.

Paranoids are so easy to deal with...

Posted by: Upstate Guy on August 2, 2009 10:06 PM



Upstate Guy:

And, who exactly are these scientists making a fortune on this? Seriously, let's see some names.

Oh, come on. You are arguing against a complete strawman. Nobody is claiming that the luminaries of the AGW "science" are getting rich as if they were businessmen. Yet, regardless of whether they are right or wrong, you can't possibly deny that their work is bringing them prestige, power, and influence, and you also can't deny that the government policies motivated by the supposed AGW threat will have massive redistributive effects and benefit the careers and profits of large numbers of people while hurting many more others, possibly disastrously. You can argue that the AGW alarmists are correct, and you can also argue that these policies are necessary to save us from the impending cataclysm, but claiming that nobody on the alarmist side has any incentives except pure innocent scientific pursuit of truth can be only naive or disingenuous.

In issues that have such vast political and ideological implications, even just people's intellectual vanity coupled with their grouping instincts has the potential to generate tons of wildly popular and influential, yet entirely vapid pseudo-science. If you can't think of any such examples from the history of science, you aren't very knowledgeable about the subject.

Posted by: Vladimir on August 2, 2009 11:17 PM



Upstate Guy,

1) To show you just how how objective and unbiased all the climate data is, an adventurous group has surveyed about 80% of all ground weather stations in the US and found that--SURPRISE!--most of them don't conform to standards, and are biased to give warmer temperature readings! Ya know, ya just can't locate those things too close to the roof or to a parking lot! See here:

http://www.surfacestations.org

2) There appears to be literally thousands and thousands of PHD's who think that global warming is a bunch of crap, but you'll never hear a word about them in the press! Why? They can tell you the truth:

http://www.petitionproject.org

3) Here's a nice website that details lots and lots of global warming debunking, especially about how data is being changed by the alphabet soup of "climate change" dipstick agencies that Upstate Guy salivates over:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/08/01/publicly-available-data-being-purged-at-uks-hadley-climate-center/#more-9731


For the record,

It doesn't matter what the other "greenhouse gases" are, because water vapor is at least 100 times more prevalent than all the rest put together. The others are negligible. Seventy percent of the earth is covered by water. You can't do anything about that.

The earth is not a greenhouse. You can't do anything about that.

Solar activity is the greatest determinant of climate cycles. You can't do anything about that.

All the historical data from ice cores shows that CO2 levels lag temperature changes, not the inverse. So CO2 can't be the cause of climate changes. Its simple cause and effect. And you can't do anything about that either.

You didn't prove anything with your reply to me at all. You just showed yourself to be a paranoid ignoramus. Do you derive an income from this global warming folly, Upstate Guy? Are you biased because of money? Fess up.

As far as climatoligists getting rich for pushing this global warming BS, you need look no further than Dr. James Hansen, top NASA climatologist, who shared the $1 million Dan David Prize in 2007 for his particular contribution to the BS on global warming. BTW, former VP and noted scientist Al Gore won the same prize in 2008. You wanted an example of a paid off liar, well you got an example of a PAID OFF LIAR! Eat that!

Anything else?

Posted by: B on August 2, 2009 11:57 PM



Just out of interest, what's the average temperature of the Earth meant to be?

Posted by: slumlord on August 3, 2009 1:34 AM



@Vladimir: I absolutely deny that "their work is bringing them prestige, power, and influence". What an absurd statement. You've obviously not interacted with scientists on a regular and consistent basis, so as someone who does allow me to let you in on a little secret: most scientists do their jobs for the pure love of science, nothing more. Would they like recognition for their work? Absolutely, but to a good scientist, and most are, recognition comes from work well done, not the other way around as in the corporate world.

@ B: 1) Allow me to show you how you lack critical thinking skills. I've seen that site before and all it shows is that a large number of surface stations are placed improperly. It fails to address three very important points: a) if these sites are improperly placed and therefore recording higher temps, then they should be consistently recording higher temps, not INCREASING temps. For example, a station placed on black gravel can show temps that are 5-10 degrees higher than actual. Fair assessment. When, however, those higher temps consistently go up, that's indicative of something else. b) temps are not just recorded in the US. You do know there are places outside the US, right? c) and this is the important one: satellite temp monitoring is consistent with ground monitoring. On the Internets, we call your point an epic fail.

2) Really? There are thousands and thousands? You might want to try doing a little more research. That petition was all over the news when it was debunked years ago it was falsely presented to the scientists who DID sign it and possesses such notable scientists as Brad Pitt and Michael Mouse. Also, when concerned with climate, I don't generally consult my local Theology Phds...

This petition is known as an appeal to authority logical fallacy. The idea being "look, here's a scientist, he says AGW's not real". Do those thousands and thousands of fake scientists have actual data and evidence to back themselves up or is it just their opinion? Only one of those things matters in the debate.

And, it's evidence. I realized you're probably not smart enough to know which was important, so I better clue you in.

3) All I see at that site are paranoid ramblings and charts that show sea ice drops in the summer and goes up in winter.

For the record, it DOES matter what the other greenhouses gases are because they're the ones increasing the temperatures which is causing more water vapor in the air. Yes, with a radiative forcing of 75W/m2 compared to CO2's 32W/m2, water IS more important than the others. But, the increase in water vapor is due to increasing temps. See below.

It doesn't matter what the other "greenhouse gases" are, because water vapor is at least 100 times more prevalent than all the rest put together. The others are negligible. Seventy percent of the earth is covered by water. You can't do anything about that.

The earth is not a greenhouse. You can't do anything about that.

Solar activity could be counted as a cause if a) solar activity weren't static right now and b) temps on other planets were increasing..which they're not.

You're absolutely right, CO2 levels NATURALLY lag temp changes, but when CO2 increases UNNATURALLY you get an inverse. When temps rise on an uptick of a Milankovitch cycle, ocean temps warm decreasing their solubility. This causes them to release CO2 into the atmosphere, this causes the atmosphere to absorb more heat, which raises the temps of the oceans...cycles, cycles, amplification, blah, blah...WE have pumped large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, thus artificially bootstrapping the cycle.

I know I didn't prove anything to you, I wasn't trying to. You're a dimwit, I know I'm not going to change your mind. All I did was provide an accurate counterpoint to your falsehoods so as to give the other intelligent people on the forum the right info. There's lots of misinformation out there, as you've so kindly pointed out. This cancerous ignorance needs to be excised.

Okay, you showed me one who won a prize. You're absolutely right, we can extrapolate that there's thousands of scientists also making millions through their nefarious schemes. Congratulations, you cracked the case.

Al Gore is a scientist? Huh, I always thought he was an annoying twit who just makes the whole disinformation issue worse...go figure.

So, YOU got anything else? Let's see which of the deniers rhetoric you've missed: Antarctic ice isn't diminishing (despite it doing so)? Scientists predicted the next ice age in the 70s (the MEDIA predicted global cooling, journal papers at the time predicted warming due to CO2)? It hasn't warmed since 1998 (absolutely true, but on the charts there's lots of dips, no relation to you I'm sure, that last for long periods. It's long-term trends you have to look at)? You've got all of the standard denier arguments down pat, all of which have been disproved. You'll have to come up with something new.

Posted by: Upstate Guy on August 3, 2009 1:11 PM



if these sites are improperly placed and therefore recording higher temps, then they should be consistently recording higher temps, not INCREASING temps. For example, a station placed on black gravel can show temps that are 5-10 degrees higher than actual. Fair assessment. When, however, those higher temps consistently go up, that's indicative of something else. b) temps are not just recorded in the US. You do know there are places outside the US, right? c) and this is the important one: satellite temp monitoring is consistent with ground monitoring. On the Internets, we call your point an epic fail.

a) These FUBAR sites are not simply read--they are corrected by your alphabet soup agencies. Which means they put a problem out there so they could have an excuse to manipulate the data. Why not just toss out the data until the station location is corrected? See, its just an excuse to fudge the data.

b) Same deal with international sites that people are checking. Only you didn't look that far. Afraid to see something that makes ya look bad?

c) We know said alphabet soup agencies are manipulating raw data. Do you think that they aren't doing this with satellite data as well? Sorry Charlie.

d) The Oregon Petition Project site was never "debunked". None of the correct data analysis by these guys was refuted. The fact that some names out of 30,000 plus may have been wrong or repeated means nothing. You may not agree with them , but they really are tens of thousands strong. And you never hear a word about them in the mainstream press. Why?

They don't have their own data--they have your data and have found it to be tinkered with BS. Like the infamous Hockey Stick graph.

Your argumentative fallacy is called an ad hominem attack, and its all you do. I had no idea fascists were so lacking in creativity.

e) All I see from the governmentally-funded Chicken Littles like YOU is paranoia and incoherent ramblings. Don't accuse others of your own shortcomings.

You didn't refute any of the points and factual data on those sites AT ALL! So that means I win and you lose! Thank you so much for responding to my post!

I know I didn't prove anything to you, I wasn't trying to. You're a dimwit, I know I'm not going to change your mind. All I did was provide an accurate counterpoint to your falsehoods so as to give the other intelligent people on the forum the right info. There's lots of misinformation out there, as you've so kindly pointed out. This cancerous ignorance needs to be excised.

You won't argue with me because you can't--you'll lose! You don't have the conclusive data to PROVE anything. And you do somehow derive money from this scam, don't ya? Never answered that question, didja Uppity?

You've got all of the standard denier arguments down pat, all of which have been disproved. You'll have to come up with something new.

Denier? Denial of what, a load of complete bullshit? Denial is about reality, which you obviously know little or nothing of. You're the one denying reality! Holy Cow, there is no lie you won't tell to make yourself look good, when you are indeed a despicable liar! Anything to dictate the last little detail of everybody else's life, like the bitter, angry, hateful, intolerant jerk you are!

Make sure to wear your safety helemt in the shower, puss. Next time you get into an argument, come with a real gun, and not your wet noodle.

The only thing you convinced anybody else of is that you are an insufferable liar. Good job.

You ass.

Posted by: B on August 4, 2009 12:26 AM



Upstate Guy:

@Vladimir: I absolutely deny that "their work is bringing them prestige, power, and influence". What an absurd statement. You've obviously not interacted with scientists on a regular and consistent basis, so as someone who does allow me to let you in on a little secret: most scientists do their jobs for the pure love of science, nothing more.

Look, I have personal experience working in academic research, and I have read vast reams of scientific and other scholarly literature not only from my own field, but also from countless others in which I've had some personal interest. You can't possibly sell me these idealistic fairy tales.

Yes, there are still areas of science that operate very close to the ideal that you describe. For example, mathematics has to be flawless by definition, and some other areas also have extremely healthy research communities. These areas are invariably characterized by two conditions: (1) there is still lots of low hanging fruit withing sight so that there is no need for bullshitting because the paths to quality work are pretty clear, and (2) there is no incentive for producing bullshit for the purpose of supporting political and ideological agendas. (I'm using the term "bullshit" here as defined by Harry Frankfurt.)

As soon as either of these conditions no longer holds in a research area, it will become infested with seemingly scientific, but fundamentally bullshit work. Scientists are just humans. They want to advance their careers, gaining as much power and prestige in the process as possible, and this can be achieved by producing bullshit pseudoscience that successfully poses as quality work, especially if it has important political and ideological implications. If this is the path of least resistance, at least some will take it. Anyone familiar with the basic human nature knows that for someone who takes the bullshit path, self-deception is a more effective and frequently practiced strategy than conscious fraud, and the human grouping instincts are also well-known -- thus, it's obvious that the infestation can proceed without any need for implausible conspiracies.

Fields where condition (1) no longer holds, but (2) still does can remain healthy to a large extent. An example is theoretical physics. It's undoubtedly infested with a significant amount of bullshit work, as demonstrated by incidents such as the Bogdanoff affair -- no matter which side in these controversies is right, it's impossible that at least one isn't bullshitting big time -- yet it remains basically sound. Fields where neither (1) nor (2) holds tend to be pure bullshit, like for example macroeconomics. Generally, condition (2) is far more critical. For example, in sociobiology and behavioral genetics, there's always been plenty of low-hanging fruit, but when you look at the ideological controversies in these fields, regardless of whose side you favor, you can't avoid the conclusion that either Gould and Lewontin or Wilson and Jensen have built vastly influential careers on bullshit.

Why would the climate science, which is obviously also suffering from a severe failure of condition (2), be an exception to these universal rules? Of course that it isn't, and it's clear why a critic with powerful bullshit-detection instincts like Steve McIntyre is facing such fear and hostility from its establishment. As for your idealistic view, assuming you're being upfront and not self-deceiving, I can only conclude that you're either an outsider to science or lucky to be working in some field with a very healthy community.


Posted by: Vladimir on August 4, 2009 3:40 AM






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