Thursday, March 15, 2007

What is "Post-Normal" Science?

Wikipedia shows that the curious term used by Mike Hulme, who argues Global Warming can only be met by something called "post-normal" science has a history of use in the environmental movement since the late 1980s and early 90s. I have interspersed the Wikipedia entry describing the term with my own commentary.
Post-Normal Science is a concept developed by Silvio Funtowicz and Jerome Ravetz, attempting to characterise a methodology of inquiry that is appropriate for contemporary conditions. The typical case is when "facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent". In such circumstances, we have an inversion of the traditional distinction between hard, objective scientific facts, and soft subjective values. Now we have value-driven policy decisions that are 'hard' in various ways, for which the scientific inputs are irremediably 'soft'.
How are the values that drive these policy decisions derived? From whence do they come? And if their provenance does not derive from scientific fact, who chooses the appropriate values which should drive policy?
We can understand 'Post-Normal Science' by means of a diagram, where the axes are 'systems uncertainties' and 'decision stakes'. When both are low, we have 'applied science', the routine puzzle-solving like the 'normal science' described by Thomas Samuel Kuhn in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. When either is medium, we have 'professional consultancy' for which the examples are the surgeon or the senior engineer. Although their work is based on science, they must always cope with uncertainties, and their mistakes can be costly or lethal. It had once been believed that environmental and general policy problems could be managed at this level, but the great issues of global warming and diverse forms of pollution show that framing and implementing policies must frequently be done before all the facts are in. Thus many problems occur in the high-stakes, high-uncertainty region of the diagram, a condition referred to as 'post-normal.'
But wait. Weren't we told that Global Warming was established scientific fact? That the world's experts agreed on its existence? If so how can Global Warming be in the "high-stakes, high-uncertainty region" where post-normal and not normal science rules? In this special Twilight Zone where all the rules are suspended? The only way it can inhabit this region is if there is a high degree of uncertainty associated with it; in other words if "Global Warming" were only a theory and very iffy one at that. Wikipedia continues.
This is why there must be an 'extended peer community' consisting of all those affected by an issue who are prepared to enter into dialogue on it. They bring their 'extended facts', that will include local knowledge and materials not originally intended for publication such as leaked official information. There is a political case for this extension of the franchise of science; but Funtowicz and Ravetz also argue that this extension is necessary for assuring the quality of the process and of the product. In recent years the principles and practices of Post-Normal Science have been widely adopted under the title 'participation'.
What is is this "extended peer community" and what is an "extended fact"? Is it extended like saltwater taffy or extended as in hamburger helper? Like the "values" which drive policy, who chooses these extended peers? What are their qualifications? Can anybody be a peer? All in all, the notion of "post-normal science" seems like a complete contradiction in terms or a perversion of the standard definition of science as commonly understood. It appears to be an elaborate and dishonest attempt to pass off the preferences of a single group as some kind of pseudo-science. There's a much simpler term for this dishonest phrase: politics. Post-normal science is nothing but a cheap and lying term for a political diktat; for the rule of the self-appointed over everyone else. Whatever truth "Global Warming" may contain it has surely been damaged by its association with this disreputable and vile concept which brazenly casts aside the need for any factual basis and declares in the most unambiguous terms that whatever values it chooses to promote constitutes a truth unimpeachable by reality and a set of values that none dare challenge. Until "post-normal science" is repudiated as a method of proving "global warming" then both must share the same reputation.

71 Comments:

Blogger Pierre Legrand said...

It is only real if they say it is real...reality what a concept.

Global Warming Hysterics…Fun with Photoshop

3/15/2007 08:41:00 PM  
Blogger Habu1 said...

I agree.

3/15/2007 09:40:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

Wait a second...wait a second!

I get it..."post-normal science" is actually a post-normal anagram for "bulls--t". I think I saw that as an entry in Possumtatterpedia or some other fine compendium of knowledge.

3/15/2007 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I used to wonder how the 20th-century cultist/nazi/communists could have so completely will themselves into such vigorous support of such obvious nonsense. Well, I'm starting to wonder less and less about how all that happened.

3/15/2007 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger betsybounds said...

This sounds like something my nephew said while we were together at Christmas. He's a PhD laureate from a major university, his degree awarded in what I have always thought of as a bogus discipline: Ecology (I'm a geologist, with advanced degrees). He says that science is evolving, and the old concepts of theory, hypothesis, testing and falsification are no longer useful. I told him that, to the extent that it's evolving into something else, it isn't science. Well. Instead of actual science (he says), we have to rely on experts and the world must learn to submit to unitary rule under a single master who will know what is best for all. I was amazed that an allegedly well-educated young man with a degree in an alleged science (he even claims that it's rigorous!) should believe such a thing. I said (calmly, I think), "You're talking about tyranny." "Yes! YES!!" he shouted--triumphantly, I dare say.

This is what we're in for if we don't manage to stop it. I fear for the future, truly I do.

3/16/2007 12:48:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Has anyone been over to see what passes for non-political science at Real Climate? There is a lot of 'post-normal' discussion. What is really disheartening is that one of the bloggers works for NASA.

3/16/2007 01:45:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

I've decided to get mouthier than usual and ask this question. How the hell (for someone out there in degree land) can an individual take a system that has to be dirty as all getout (such as the climate model that is waiting for data input that hasn't been thought of yet) and apply an ideal model to it and forecast future conditions. The ideal model would be filthy with data points compared with what we know now.

If you want (whoever is enough of a sucker to answer my plea for help) I'll send my email.

3/16/2007 01:55:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

There's actually a journal at which Mike Hulme writes called The Post Normal Times. If you follow the link you will find the intellectual precursor, if I may use the two words together, of his Guardian article. In his article Hulme seems to suggest we discover the truth by answering the question, 'who is funding the study?' and/or 'are his values appropriate?' Under this model, the enlightnment ideal of scientific inquiry becomes reduced to the stupid police methods of Lavarenti Beria. Experimental evidence is replaced by an evaluation of your associates, and 'Eureka!' is supplanted by 'Aha! so that's who you were dining with last night'. Here's an excerpt from Post-Normal Times.

Too often the reasons we disagree about what to do about climate change are framed in this way, as disputes about the truth claims of some aspect of biogeophysical science – is the world warming; are greenhouse gases responsible; will this ice-sheet collapse? This reflects one view of science, the conventional Enlightenment view of science as an objective, disinterested endeavour incrementally leading us closer and closer to a universal and immutable view of reality … past, present and future. This is ‘normal’ science.

But for many years now, around 25 at least, philosophers and practitioners of science have identified a different mode of scientific activity, a mode where stakes are high, uncertainties large and decisions urgent, and where values are embedded in the way science is done and spoken. This is what Silvio Funtowicz labelled in 1993 ‘post-normal’ science. Disputes in post-normal science focus as often on the process of science – who gets funded, who evaluates quality, who has the ear of policy - as on the facts of science. The IPCC is a classic example of a post-normal scientific activity. The IPCC is a large procedural assessment activity involving first of all scientists, but then later entraining a broad range of other experts from government, business, civil society to evaluate the quality of the assessment, before the modified text is presented to government representatives for their amendment and approval.

But there is also a third way of interpreting contemporary science, which is yet one further step removed from the binary truth-falsehood view of Singer and Avery. This third way of seeing science pays more attention to the social and cultural context in which science works and speaks than to the phenomena being studied. Who are the scientists, what are their values, motives and preferences, why are they being asked to study this particular problem rather than some other problem, and who funds them? This understanding of science is what sociologists have termed its social construction.

Understanding the nature of post-normal science, and drawing upon some of the insights of social construction, helps us to re-interpret the Radio 4 discussion between Avery and Lynas. It will also help us towards understanding why we disagree about climate change. On the surface, Avery and Lynas were arguing about science – is there a 1,500 year cycle in world temperatures; do greenhouse gases warm the planet? This was normal science mode and many people, perhaps a majority, will have interpreted the debate in this way: truth or error, fact or fiction, or just more uncertainty and confusion between experts.

But what was really going on was a dispute about the much deeper (yet unexpressed) values and beliefs held by Avery (and Singer) and Lynas. Do they have confidence in technology? Do they believe in collective action over private enterprise? Can all things they value be quantified in monetary terms? Do they believe we carry obligations to people invisible to us in geography and time? We need this perspective on science if we are going to make sense of books such as Unstoppable Global Warming. Or indeed, if we are to make sense of polar opposites such as James Lovelock’s recent contribution The Revenge of Gaia, in which he extends climate science to reach the conclusion that the collapse of civilisation is no more than a couple of generations away.

3/16/2007 02:50:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

The Encyclopedia of the Earth has a primer on post-normal science. Here's a verbatim passage, and in my view it is words masquerading as thought:

As a theory, PNS links epistemology and governance, for its origins lie in the relations between those two domains. Its authors were concerned that the sciences devoted to solving health and environmental problems (such as ecological economics and toxicology) are radically different from those that are instrumental in creating them (such as the applications of physics and molecular biology). In comparison to those traditional sciences, the policy-relevant sciences have enjoyed less prestige and funding, are less matured scientifically, and are more subject to external influences and constraints. By the criteria of the traditional philosophy of science, their results frequently fail to attain the status of ‘sound science’. It has been argued that they should therefore be rejected as evidence in policy debates; but a more appropriate conclusion would be that the philosophy of science needs recasting. PNS provides a response to these crises of science and philosophy, by bringing ‘facts’ and ‘values’ into a unified conception of problem-solving in these areas, and by replacing ‘truth’ by ‘quality’ as its core evaluative concept. Its principle of the plurality of legitimate perspectives on any problem leads to a focus on dialogue, and on mutual respect and learning, wherever possible.

PNS comprises those inquiries that occur at the interfaces of science and policy where uncertainties and value-loadings are critical. It can be analysed as a ‘policy cycle’ including: policies, priorities, persons, procedures, products, and post-normal assessment; it also extends to the ‘downstream’ phases of implementation and monitoring. Depending on the particular context, the task may be more like policy-related research, or science-related decision making, or creative technical-social innovation. The distinctions are never absolute, as the whole policy process is a complex system with interrelated natural, technical and societal elements.

3/16/2007 03:05:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Seamus McLean attended a lecture by a post-normal scientist. Here's his entry verbatim.

Saw a speaker today who talked about "post-normal science." The gist of the idea was that, these days, quite often it is more important for science to seek consensus than truth. He then argued, if we accept that premise, that collecting data can be to the detriment of science, as having information tends to enable people to form distinct opinions, and people forming opinions is contrary to the goals of science.

So, it's best if scientists have no knowledge of their fields, because then we can all ignorantly get along, and agreeing with one another is way more important than actually understanding the world. It seems a bizarre argument.


It's a logical argument given the premises of post-normal science. The more ignorant we are the more easily we can reach consensus, but of course the consensus is entirely empty because it is divorced from any necessity to be actually valid.

3/16/2007 03:14:00 AM  
Blogger zgolem said...

Shorter Wikipedia:

Anthropogenic Global Warming is truthy. The claims made in support of it are fake but accurate.

3/16/2007 04:23:00 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

"This is why there must be an 'extended peer community' consisting of all those affected by an issue who are prepared to enter into dialogue on it. They bring their 'extended facts', that will include local knowledge and materials not originally intended for publication such as leaked official information."

This quote misses something obvious. The world already has these 'extended peer communities'. They work extremely well (when not meddled with) and have a long and successful history They are called "markets".

3/16/2007 04:55:00 AM  
Blogger fenchiph said...

High uncertainty, high stakes decisions having to be made on incomplete understanding of the process involved.

In a nutshell, that is what Post-Normal science is if I am understanding this correctly.

There is already a branch of science which has been in existence for thousands of years which is deeply enmeshed in these quandries.

It is called Medicine.

And the first rule of Medicine is "Do No Harm". Wrecking the worlds economies for questional benefit is doing harm.

3/16/2007 05:38:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

This post-normal science stuff is amusing but it is not funny when it is being used to make policy that will have a detrimental effect on our propery rights and the choices would could have made as consumers. Since GW is being tied so directly to energy production and use the effects on the less developed world will be much more harmful. What will be the chances of the IMF financing a coal-fired electrical generation facility in sub-saharan Africa when the major criterion for industrial development is some arbitrary amount of carbon emissions?

I suppose it is as easy to get whacky about the downside of wrong-headed GW policies as it is to promote them, but the probability of disastrous unforeseen consequences of a carbon regulated economy seem enormous.

3/16/2007 05:54:00 AM  
Blogger demosophist said...

There is no need to appeal to something called "post normal science" since both global warming and the existence of a WMD program on the part of Iraq or Iran are "Type II" situations, rather than the more typical "Type I" situation. (In some disciplines they call these Alpha and Beta conditions or hypotheses.)

There's nothing abnormal or radical about adopting a Type II approach. It's simply dictated by the consequences of assuming the null when it's actually false. If those consequences are unacceptable then you assume the null is false (that WMD exist, or that global warming is real), set a confidence threshold, and then proceed to gather evidence that falsifies that assumption. If you can't pass the threshold then the hypothesis stands. (Technically you make global warming or WMD the null, instead of assuming they don't exist, but you get the picture.)

Another situation where such a process would be appropriate involves the assumption of guilt for a mass terrorist, something with which our court system has yet to deal. The presumption of innocence, in other words, isn't appropriate.

The only thing even remotely "non-normal" about Type II situations is that they're relatively scarce, so we're not familiar with them in everyday life. In addition, they're a political nightmare, because if you proceed to gather evidence that your assumption of guilt is false while most people are still making the assumption of innocence, you appear to be helping the defense by undermining your own case rather than proving it. I suspect this is why politicians are incapable of following a Type II methodology to the letter.

So that's the real dilemma, how to make following a Type II method politically feasible. As a general rule what we tend to do is mix the two approaches, which ends up being a disaster, because it virtually guarantees that you can't optimize for desirable outcomes.

3/16/2007 06:34:00 AM  
Blogger Habu1 said...

With as many outlets to the world ie. the Internet, news thats not news ,facts that are not facts, in fact just about anything can get some play.
With well over a generation of dumbed downed high school and college cirriculums and their graduates, quota promoted minorities, race norming of tests it's also not hard to gather a following of intellectually flatulent sycophants.
There's no way to stop it or control it at this point without destroying all the oxygen that supplies both truth and falsehood with it's life.
It would also also take a miracle to treat the 20% of the population with undiagnosed treatable mental disorders who form the core following the mothership brigade.

However if they coalese into anarchy, which they have shown a proclivity to (Seattle,etc) do, then it will become the moral and legal reponsibility for the sane and law abiding to lock and load, breath ,relax,aim ,sight,and squeeze.

3/16/2007 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 03/16/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

3/16/2007 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

FWIW, I went and edited the Wikipedia article to be less ludicrous.

3/16/2007 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

This "Post-normal" science sounds exactly like "Pre-normal" "science":

"My dear Kepler, what would you say of the learned here, who, replete with the pertinacity of the asp, have steadfastly refused to cast a glance through the telescope? What shall we make of this? Shall we laugh, or shall we cry?"
--Letter from Galileo Galilei to Johannes Kepler


Hey Betsybounds - I'm writing a sci-fi satire about "Global Shaking" - based on the premise that we could make a case as fully plausible as Global Warming. See, it's the stinkin' humans that are shaking the earth that cause all the volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. C'mon, we have a whole 100 years of data and lots of cool pix from the USGS to "prove" our thesis. Population growth in the American Northwest "caused" Mt. St. Helen's eruption in 1980, too many Indonesians with jackhammers caused the tsunami, the Japanese shinkansen bullet train caused the Kobe earthquake there in '95. It's "post-normal" as all get out!

Whattya think? If you're interested, I'll repost my precis, or 'pitch book' on the movie.

3/16/2007 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

"And the first rule of Medicine is "Do No Harm". Wrecking the worlds economies for questional benefit is doing harm."
-fenchiph

Seriously. This 'post-normal' tripe does indeed sound alot like diagnosing an illness, rather than doing real science. It sounds like an excuse, padded in eloquent verbiage, to increase government research grants. It is, plainly put, not real science.

That said, scientists in the past, following the traditional scientific method, don't have the best track record when it comes to "do no harm".

3/16/2007 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger dloss said...

Post Normal Science is "science" in much the same way that Scientology is. That is to say, it's religion, couched in pseudo-scientific terminology and pretending to a rigor it manifestly doesn't possess. Don't let its practitioners get away with calling their views scientific; if they admit no questioning or independent testing of there theses, it isn't science, it's as much religion as the Catholic churches positions vis-a-vis Galileo and Copernicus were.

3/16/2007 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Aase's death said...

Yes, this “post-normal” science is nothing more than abnormal or pseudo-science, a perversion or faking of it. Or, more aptly, it’s a branch of “paranormal” science, given its outside and beyond the usual parameters, iffy, unsubstantiated, incomplete, anecdotal, perceiving, extra-sensing, channeling, telepathic, true-believing, fear-mongering, haunted forest, angry seas, disturbed earth entities, and spooky approach to divining phenomena which may or may not exist.

The World Anthropogenic Global Warming Institute and Economy Busters might wish to headquarter here.

3/16/2007 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Sardonic said...

Post-Normal would indicate After-Normal, which would indicate that it is NOT normal, another word for which is Abnormal. So they can call it Abnormal-Science, or non-science, and be a little clearer about the status of this post-accurate rhetoric. I think the proper response to the use of the phrase "post-normal science" is to say, "you mean abnormal-science, then? As in non-science? Or nonsense, maybe? Oh... I see, what you mean is Politics instead of science? Please be clear. Post-normal science is a meaningless self-contradition. Can you be clear, or not? If not, then maybe you should try waiting until an actually clear idea comes to you and then speak that one? Maybe?"

Post-Normal Science, I agree, is a rhetorical slight of hand intended to sound intelligent while undermining actual intelligence. Anyone who falls for it becomes instantly stupider than they were.

3/16/2007 08:14:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Hulme seems to misunderstand what Kuhn actually meant by "normal" science, a misunderstanding which seems prevalent given Mr. MacLean's conception of PNS equating to consensus.

Kuhn wrote that normal science itself was defined by consensus - that is, a theory which was generally held by the scientific community (consensus) was by definition scientifically "true." Shifts in this consensus, famously Galileo's challenge to Ptolemaic astronomy, were called by Kuhn "paradigm shifts," a term which has outgrown its rather specialized roots. Kuhn described a history of science in which objective facts were decided upon in an inescapably politicized manner by the scientific community.

Post-normal science, if it is to mean anything, must reference a condition in which a consensus can never actually be obtained, or cannot be obtained soon enough, such as when "facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent." Therefore normal science can not occur.

The fundamental problem which global warming theorists posit, and which is rightly identified by Hulme, is that it may be the case that the situation is so dire that we cannot wait for normal science to provide us an agreed upon path of action to follow in order to avoid catastrophe. Indeed, this may be the case, but as it is impossible to normalize the science with regard to the human contribution to global warming, it is all the more impossible to determine whether or not the need to act on this contribution is dire.

The idea of PNS therefore is less analogous to politics, and more - in fact almost perfectly - analogous to religion.

A comparison to Nazi Germany has already been made in this thread. Many intellectuals, in the aftermath of World War Two, began to question the utility of science, sensing in it a totalizing aspect which could be resisted by admitting the limits of science. In this light, Popper sought to reform science, while in a sense Feyerabend and others sought to undermine it. Generally, these movements away from positivism emanated from the political left.

It is instructive now that the efforts to revitalize positivism in the guise of global warming catastrophism, also emanates from the left.

3/16/2007 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger Pangloss said...

So what they are talking about with regards to "post normal science" is what I would call "scientism", or the irrational religious impulse that is centered around things that appear to the scientifically untrained believer to be scientific.

3/16/2007 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger kstagger said...

I'm somehow reminded of the old Soviet 'scientist' Lysenko.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trofim_Lysenko

3/16/2007 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger F said...

zgolem made the point that first occurred when I read Wretchard's post: Dan Rather and "fake but accurate." It would be instructive to ask Funtowicz and Ravetz to comment on post-normal science in an entirely different society: what is their thinking about the methodology of inquiry in Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe or Pakistan, for example, where policy-driven values and peer review set entirely different priorities than anything the authors might so readily accept in the west. Or how about a historical reference: what would post-normal science have yielded in 17th Century Salem, Mass? I think their "science" only works for them when they're in the values driver's seat. F

3/16/2007 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger Aase's death said...

I was reading up on paganism and environmentalism, thinking there to be a strong correlation, and found this interesting take on the green movement from a Gaia worshipping soul: Dreamsmith's counterpoint

3/16/2007 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger Marty said...

3 thoughts--

1. PNS inviting in everyone with an interest, regardless of whether they have any knowledge, is just an invitation to mob rule--and, politicians being, on the whole, good at mobilizing the mob, have an obvious affinity for this (cf, Gore).

2. The resort to PNS likely indicates that the crisis-mongers realize they are losing or have lost the scientific battle, and are shifting the field.

3. Something like $20-40 billion has been spent over the last 20 years, developing models and data sets intended to prove greenhouse gas forcing (rather than "real" science, which seeks to falsify a hypothesis), yet after all that effort by all those people, the greenhouse gas forcing really doesn't even rate being called a "theory," it's still just a "hypothesis." If all that effort couldn't firmly establish it, I think there must be a strong presumption that it is seriously flawed

3/16/2007 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

"What is Post-Normal" Science?"

Monopoly played by giggling nine-year olds, until the loser(s) resort to the rule book.

3/16/2007 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

the relationship of "post-normal science" to real science reminds me of the relationship of critical legal theory to real legal theory.

it's spooky, and hugely damaging.

3/16/2007 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger wrecktafire said...

If I read between the lines in PNS self-definitions, I see the following ideas in the writers' heads:
a) empirical science won't ever support my views (or can't, due to the limitations of the scientific method)
b) therefore, my research will never have an influence on policy, because it is not convincing
c) this makes me feel frustrated and irrelevant,
d) since my views are so important, I need a way to boost the "credibility" of what I say.
e) if I define a new kind of science where the "village" can veto inconvenient facts and hype the ones we like, we can make progress on saving humanity.

Many of you are overlooking the positive value of the PNS definitions: to me, they express the honest belief by scientists that maybe "real science" is not the only standard by which things should be judged.

That is huge progress, IMHO.

(Next, they have to realize that the sword cuts both ways!)

3/16/2007 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

If you have ever worked scientific issues in Washington D.C. you will immediately recognize that "Post Normal Science" is driven by the process for getting scientists' pet projects funded by the Federal Government.

First, no one cares a rat’s rump about Real Science, so you have to manufacture a crisis to get some money.

Second, the scientific research community is, if anything, even more prone to empire building and empire protection than the rest of the government. Other empires exist to fill defined needs. Scientific empires exist to fill their own needs. They define the "problem" and how to study it. "Peer reviews" often consist of attacks on one scientific empire by another.

Third, politicians like to appear to be riding to the rescue. They love people coming to their committees with alarming pronouncements. It is no coincidence that the primary original advocates of Global Warming were about to appear before Sen Gore's committee seeking funding.

The result of this has been to pervert the scientific process to an incredible degree. A close friend of mine literally "wrote the book" on how NASA's research efforts are defined, selected and funded and he says that the process required itself assures that there is no man-caused Ozone Depletion or Global Warming.

3/16/2007 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

From 'Cabaret'--set during the fall of the Weimar republic--a Nazi youth song, "Tommorow Belongs to Me":

The sun on the meadow is summery warm.
The stag in the forest runs free.
But gather together to greet the storm.
Tomorrow belongs to me.

The branch of the linden is leafy and
Green,
The Rhine gives its gold to the sea.
But somewhere a glory awaits unseen.
Tomorrow belongs to me.

The babe in his cradle is closing his eyes
The blossom embraces the bee.
But soon, says a whisper;
"Arise, arise,
Tomorrow belongs to me"

Oh Fatherland, Fatherland,
Show us the sign
Your children have waited to see.
The morning will come
When the world is mine.
Tomorrow belongs to me!

3/16/2007 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Hey, now that I'm getting into the swing of Post-Normal Science, I'm starting to understand how liberals can say "guns cause homicide." See, I was hung up on the fact that "homicide" means "one person killing another." And the word "cause" is a transitive verb that has, y'know, an old-fashioned "meaning" in so-called "dictionaries." And a gun, well, a gun is an inanimate object, and from what I can tell, mine don't do anything by themselves so it would be difficult for them to "cause" things to happen, in my outdated way of thinking. But now that I see how important "feelings" are in science, it's all coming clear. See, if you blame people for causing homicide, that might hurt their feelings. Since guns don't have feelings (they don't, do they?), then it's okay to blame them for stuff.

I also now understand my liberal friends who wondered "what we did to make them so mad at us" that they had to 9/11 us. In post-normal reality, Coca-Cola, Disney, McDonalds and Hollywood caused 9/11, not those poor, mistreated fellows on the airplanes who have been so meanly accused.

3/16/2007 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger OregonGuy said...

Wretchard,

You're so stuck on Pre-Normal. You're not looking at the Up-Side.

On April 14th, not 15 miles from here, will be a Global Warming Action! And I'm gonna go! I'm gonna be hitting on all the Middle-Aged Hippie Chicks (sic) driving Escalades and Lexuses. It's two hours on the beach, and then time for Mai Tais. And I'm willing to Step It Up!

Get with the program. It's like Soma for the Mind!

3/16/2007 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Global Warming is causing it to snow here in Northeast US today. It was 75 here two days ago, and then Global Warming chased all this cold down from the North Pole, at the same time it was chasing all this moisture up from Texas.

3/16/2007 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Pyrthroes said...

"Post-normal science" is of course a purely political extreme-leftist dismissal of any facts or hypotheses which tend to controvert collectivist Statist power-drives.

But what is "science"? Here we reference Jacob Bronowski (1950s), Alan Cromer (1990s), Derek Gjertsen (1980s): "Science" is a Philosophy of the Natural World (objectively real, rational and intelligible, worth study by anyone --expert and non-expert-- for its own sake); an empirical, experimental Method that formulates and tests falsifiable hypotheses; above all, a public Practice open to rational debate (no doctrinaires, mystics, psychics, [J.B. Rhines, Velikovskys, Al Gores], need apply).

Absent Philosophy, Method, Practice, you may have Chinese astrology, Egyptian surveying, Roman engineering-- but you will not have Science as given by Galilleo, Kepler, Newton; Faraday and Maxwell; Einstein, Bohr and Schrodinger, and on and on. What enables inspiration, why Nature so appears or worlds are rational (consistent vs. contradictory), are questions that concern scholastics-- never scientists.

"Post-normal science" is akin to Hitler's "Aryan Physics" (so much for Relativity), Lysenko's "New Soviet" biology (sorry about genomic innovation), Creationism's bizarre attempt to foist sectarian dogma on Darwin's processes of evolutionary growth-and-change.

The very phrase (PNS) conjures images of Mao's Red Guards and Torquemada (the Grand Inquisitor, literally "one who twists"). In especial, PNS is inherently not just irrational but very lazy (why bother to verify hypotheses?). Moreover, if a self-arrogating Al Gore can pronounce contentious
drivel, his opponents can claim equal validity by asserting just the opposite. Absent Science, as described, who is to decide?

"Global Warming" is politicized advocacy, an Aristotelian "appeal to authority" that flees all scrutiny. Planet Earth indeed is warming. But this is due to cyclical, not linear factors; to worldwide submarine vulcanism from the 1850s, whereby warmer oceans drive atmospheric cooling with high-precipitation (rain in summer, snow in winter). Over ten million years, geophysical effects of plate tectonics (North and South American continents separating Atlantic from Pacific Oceans) have engendered Ice Ages, recurring with interglacials averaging some 12,000 years between. (We are now 500 years past-due.) An 800-year intra-solar cycle (dust) from 1313 is due to peak again in 2113... but astronomers do not talk with climatologists. Combined with oceanic vulcanism and tectonic patterns, not "warming" but a new Ice Age looms probable.

Watch for weather-patterns generated by warm air rising, drawing frigid jet-stream currents south from Canada; all manner of local anomalies; record high precipitation along ocean rims, such as has occured in Japan, South Africa, Western India et.al.

"Carbon footprint": Puh-lease. C02 is a volcanic residue, less than one part in 10,000 of atmospheric compositions. Mounts St. Helens and Pinatubo alone emitted more "greenhouse gas" in twenty minutes than all indusrial civilization in 200 years.

Buzz off, Al Gore, with your transparent partisan agenda. When New York City suffers its first 90-foot snowfall, who ya gonna call?

3/16/2007 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Goresblusters?

3/16/2007 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Aase's death said...

PNS looks suspiciously like PMS.

Along the lines of "Tomorrow Belongs to Me": environmentalism is coming across as hip western racism using a new white guilt to green the world. Someone above mentioned race-normed, dumbed-down educational standards and how they affect what we now “know” and believe. Perhaps. But, except for recently bringing in bought-off African invitees to the Green Party, the vanguard, rank and file of the environmental movement, so far, are vast majority white-- affluent, well-educated, elitist Euro, American, Aussie, westernized Asian advancing enviro-huns wanting to punish white civilization and impede brown progress. Green is the new, improved, and only approved white right now.

Green is the color of a new anti-colonialism and neo-paternalism, as environmental concerns are being punitively applied to old power America and First-Worlders and earnestly applied to the less developed world to keep it that way. Enviros would have us wallow in civilized guilt while they use our shame to control us and the rest of the world, except for certain Others too powerful and polluting to persuade, bribe or bully into environmental compliance, such as the Chinese and Indians. These sympathetic transgressors are to be “granted” leeway to become the new economic powerhouses of the world, since the transnational Greens apparently believe (using post-normal cognition) that they’ll be able to bring them into their global alliance soon enough.

Meanwhile, green is the color of resurgent fundamentalist Islam, just as America and much of Europe have been marked for limited destruction by enviro latent racists who loathe western progress and love the lack of it elsewhere. Were it not for the UK starting to go punitive green, I wouldn’t have thought these efforts would succeed. But I suppose politicians and bureaucrats can’t resist the promise of more government and NGO jobs, masochistic restrictions, and “generous” aid and projects to keep the Third World third. The new and re-normed science will provide all the charts and justification they’ll need to level the world to green mediocrity, unless we fight for Normal Science that’s transparent and not tinted any hue.

3/16/2007 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Aase's death said...

(All that said, I’m still going for geothermal and gray water, etc. for my next place. Conservatives like to conserve, yes?)

3/16/2007 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

"Post-normal" sounds like "paranormal".

But seriously, while we're all having fun at the expense of environmentalists, let's not forget that true science is far more difficult than waving one's arms around.

Science is not merely about testing hypotheses, but about not letting one's prejudices and vested interest get in the way of facts. The tobacco industry, the oil and gas industry, the environmentalist industry, and the creationist industry share a common fault in having a large vested interest in making the scientific data conform to political/economic interests instead of formulating scientific theories that conform to the data.

It would not surprise me if there were a weird convergence between "post-normal" environmentalism and early Earth creationism; they both reek of a theocratic totalitarian desire to exert sovereignty over the climate. Indeed, I think it's hardly a coincidence that Albert Gore's apocalypticism is a mildly secularized version of old-fashioned Bible Belt fire and brimstone sermons on humanity's sinfulness and the necessity of repentance, for the end is near...

3/16/2007 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

The magnitude of the threat posed by Global Warming is contingent upon its magnitude. In this respect it is different from the threat posed by historical or measured events like nuclear weapons or global epidemics. The effects of those events were known. Even asteroid strike effects can be fairly well estimated.

But if the danger posed by anthropogenic climate change
is estimated by the post-normal scientific method then we are now in a perfectly circular mode of reasoning. A model is produced by it is excused from rigor; protected from criticism because in cases where the stakes are high and uncertainty is great, it is necessary to use extended facts. The veracity of the crystal ball is proved by the very horror of the images it displays. Thus the threat drives the hysteria and the hysteria drives the threat.

But then, why is defense against an asteroid strike or the bird flu, for example, not subject to same suspension of the rules of normal science as Global Warming. In fact, why do we not guard against the possibility of a landing by aliens from another galaxy, who would certainly be so advanced they would even unintentionally pose a threat? Surely the arrival of death machines a la the War of the Worlds would be worse than a two inch rise in sea levels? And how do we prove that aliens will arrive? Out of order. The question of what to do if they might arrive is so important that we must prepare for it in any case. And the preparations must be vast; lifestyles should be controlled. Industry regulated. Nations given quotas, etc.

Now none of this is to say that anthropogenic climate change doesn't exist. It probably does to some extent. Nor is it even to argue that C02 plays no role in heating or cooling the planet. But we are going to be no nearer the answers if we start putting conclaves before measurements.

3/16/2007 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

alexis,

I don't disagree that real science is often politicized, but as in the case of the whiskey priest, as long as the sinner recognized sin then the direction to redemption was always known. When things went "too far" we always knew where to look for the truth. In the facts. But what happens when we abolish the sin or truth, in fact transform their absence it into a virtue is there is no more "norm" to return to. It truly becomes "post-normal" science.

Nietzsche wrote the Parable of the Madman to illustrate the Death of God. Who will now write a similar parable about the Death of Truth or its near relative, Fact?

"My time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars -- and yet they have done it themselves."

3/16/2007 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

It's like a shark attack. Many folks won't go in the ocean, even tho they may be aware of the vanishingly small chance that they'll be eaten alive by a sea monster, because the horror of that possibility makes it worthwhile to take no chance at all.

This is a harmless neurosis, unless and until the imagined horror becomes so great that the seas need to be fenced off, made taboo, or rid of predators, or somesuch.

3/16/2007 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

"There is already a branch of science which has been in existence for thousands of years which is deeply enmeshed in these quandries.

It is called Medicine."

Medicine is NOT a science. It is an art, which involves science. The idea that it is a science is a marketing schtick of insurance companies, grant-seekers and those who do not practice the art of it. The idea is promulgated for the purpose of separating the rubes from their coin at a greater rate, which, generally, makes hospital administrators, university officials and the executive committees of insurance companies very happy.

How do I know?

Been watching the medicine show for nearly 15 years as a near-orphaned GI disease slowly kills my Wife. Now...if you will excuse me, her infectious disease doctor called and I must drive her to the hospital through the snowstorm as she is septic for the 7th time; "science" has not yet perfected picc lines and ports.

Oh...the positive thing I haver learned is there are a LOT of medical artists out there, who, generally, help and heal you...if you can be healed.

3/16/2007 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger Aase's death said...

why is defense against an asteroid strike or the bird flu, for example, not subject to same suspension of the rules of normal science as Global Warming? In fact, why do we not guard against the possibility of a landing by aliens from another galaxy

Preparing for asteroids and ET invasions wouldn’t facilitate global political control for the Progressives. Endangerment isn't really the point for most leaders of the movement and those other threat scenarios might even enhance the power and standing of the fairly conservative, classically liberal West. AGW is the perfect vehicle for punishing and stymieing advanced economy/ superpower America (and Europe), while keeping much of the Third World in stasis as a forever client and encouraging the Second to be potential allies. All they need is fact-eschewing and agenda-hewing post-normal “science” and Progressive change-for-the-sake-of-power-and-not-truth, politics.

3/16/2007 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger Pascal Fervor said...

Wretchard,

In response to your first post on "Post-Normal" science, I used up my week's worth of quips. So the following is more in line with this more sober essay of yours today.

"What is 'Post-Normal' Science" is a good start on exploring the odd language that is connected to Global Warming and its advocates.

So, perhaps you also inclined to seeking out the answers to two more questions which might shed some light on what fiscal motives might be behind GW? (I.e., follow the money).


How about: "What is a carbon credit?"

and

"Who issues carbon credits?"


I suspect the answers might go along way to help explain why GW policies have been put on a "no dissidents permitted" pedestal.

3/16/2007 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Pascal fervor, here's a starting point on who issues carbon credits (you'll never guess).

Gore's company, GIM was specifically established to take financial advantage of new technologies and solutions related to combating Global Warming. The Global Warming crowd has told us that just recently new science emerged confirming the alleged fact that Global Warming is man made. So, ask yourself, why is it that Gore set up his Green money machine three years ago back in 2004? Is it possible Gore knew what the science would say before it was out? And even if not, can an individual who stands to make millions from Global Warming really be trusted as an honest broker on that topic? Talk about giving the fox the keys to the (hen) penthouse.

Even if Global Warming did exist, in principle, what's the difference between war profiteering and this? One could justifiably argue that Gore is taking advantage of, in his opinion, a catastrophic situation to clean up - and I don't mean the environment.



Al Gore's Inconvenient Loot

3/16/2007 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

But how Gore buys his "carbon offsets," as revealed by The Tennessean raises serious questions. According to the newspaper's report, Gore's spokesperson said Gore buys his carbon offsets through Generation Investment Management:

Gore helped found Generation Investment Management, through which he and others pay for offsets. The firm invests the money in solar, wind and other projects that reduce energy consumption around the globe, she said...

Gore is chairman of the firm and, presumably, draws an income or will make money as its investments prosper. In other words, he "buys" his "carbon offsets" from himself, through a transaction designed to boost his own investments and return a profit to himself. To be blunt, Gore doesn't buy "carbon offsets" through Generation Investment Management - he buys stocks.

And it is not clear at all that Gore's stock purchases - excuse me, "carbon offsets" purchases - actually help reduce the use of carbon-based energy at all, while the gas lanterns and other carbon-based energy burners at his house continue to burn carbon-based fuels and pump carbon emissions - a/k/a/ "greenhouse gases" - into the atmosphere.

Gore's people tout his purchase of "carbon offsets" as evidence that he lives a "carbon-neutral" lifestyle, but the truth is Gore's home uses electricity that is, for the most part, derived from the burning of carbon fuels. His house gets its electricity from Nashville Electric Service, which gets its from the Tennessee Valley Authority, which produces most of its power from coal-burning power plants. Which means most of the power being consumed at the Gore mansion comes from carbon-emitting power sources.



The Profit of Doom

3/16/2007 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

"What is "Post-Normal" Science?"

The consequence of recreational drug use and far too much government subsidization of higher education as remediation.

3/16/2007 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger Pierre Legrand said...

Ding Ding Ding...we have a winner.

Preparing for asteroids and ET invasions wouldn’t facilitate global political control for the Progressives.

Lets not forget the rampant nihlism that exists in the left. Rainbow Six the novel by Tom Clancy captured the end game of these freaks perfectly. The death of us all...except them.

3/16/2007 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger Aase's death said...

3case,

So sorry about your wife and our still inadequate healing "arts". The best to you both.

3/16/2007 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

tony,

I don't mind Al Gore founding a company to trade carbon credits and sell solar panels, but if a process is initiated to make patronizing such companies mandatory and then on the basis of post-normal science then it starts looking a little dubious. Thanks for finding the money angle.

3/16/2007 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Some big companies--such as GE--are dealing with GIM already.

A cynic would think that, beyond the investment angle, forward-thinking managements want to be favored when the gov't carbon-emissions rationing program begins.

All up for allocation, will say the insiders--who will then have a competitive advantage over the less-favored--and/or the new entrepreneurs (future competitors) seeking entry into the marketplace.

There's a name of course for a system which links corporatism and government at a high-level, operating thru intergovernmental corporate councils. Such a system made Mussolini's trains run on time.

Straws blowin in the wind.
*******
(3case--best of luck to the Mrs and you)

3/16/2007 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

buddy larsen,

re: Il Duce

Wasn't that fascism? Am I now in gross violation of Godwin's Law?

3/16/2007 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Sheesh. I'll try to keep it to bullet points, hard as that might be in these circumstances.

a) when real science, particularly medicine, encounters uncertainty with high stakes we design a high "power" study - looking at huge amounts of data over as wide a range of circumstances as possible. It's the only way you can let the statistics lead you to more wisdom than you've presently got.

b) no-one has done this with climate change. In fact, none of the current models (when given known paleo-data) can predict known paleo-climates.

c) current fluctuations are entirely within what has been normal for the entire Holocene period. Earth's climate fluctuates fairly widely. That's normal, for Pete's EFFing sake.

Look, my first two degrees are in geology and geochemistry. I've been comfortable with 18-O and 'SMOW' calculations for nearly 40 years. Those of you who know, know that my basis for making the above point is entirely solid.

d) about 45 million years ago the northern tip of Ellsmere Island, rougly 500 miles from the North Pole had a climate roughly similar to Memphis, Tennessee today. Musat been those bloody SUVs.

e) the real issue of 'global warming' and 'post-normal science' is that it has become a religion, most decidedly not science.

f) the aim of said religion is to impose a high-tax, big-government, anti-capitalist regime on the entire world.

g) in short, a ticket to the new Dark Ages, though its proponents cannot think enough beyond their own desire for power to understand the implications.

h) either that, or they don't care. They have no desire to live in a socialist oligarchy ... they intend to run it.

Sorry. Not interested.

3/16/2007 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Allen, right--only this time the 'nationalism' component has become 'worldism'.

3/16/2007 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

I think "post-normal science" got its inspiration from the creationists when they got the Kansas education system to redefine science to include "non-natural" explanations.

I think this is actually a good thing because a lot of scientists in various fields know from experience the dangers of "post-modernism". The phrase "post-normal" (like paranormal) will be a wake-up call to the many people (both in climate and related fields such as geology) who have accepted the idea that there is no debate about climate issues simply because they trusted the more vocal colleagues.

3/16/2007 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Somehow this article has slipped by Al Gore's ban on publishing "balance" vs. his theories. Can you imagine this - the sun could make the earth warmer?

This is the kind of old, outdated Normal Science that MUST BE IGNORED for the greater good of the Eloi.

"Global 'Sunscreen' Has Likely Thinned, Report NASA Scientists
Science Daily — A new NASA study has found that an important counter-balance to the warming of our planet by greenhouse gases -- sunlight blocked by dust, pollution and other aerosol particles -- appears to have lost ground.

The thinning of Earth's "sunscreen" of aerosols since the early 1990s could have given an extra push to the rise in global surface temperatures. The finding, published today in the journal Science, may lead to an improved understanding of recent climate change. In a related study published last week, scientists found that the opposing forces of global warming and the cooling from aerosol-induced "global dimming" can occur at the same time.

"When more sunlight can get through the atmosphere and warm Earth's surface, you're going to have an effect on climate and temperature," said lead author Michael Mishchenko of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), New York. "Knowing what aerosols are doing globally gives us an important missing piece of the big picture of the forces at work on climate."

The study uses the longest uninterrupted satellite record of aerosols in the lower atmosphere, a unique set of global estimates funded by NASA. Scientists at GISS created the Global Aerosol Climatology Project by extracting a clear aerosol signal from satellite measurements originally designed to observe clouds and weather systems that date back to 1978.

The resulting data show large, short-lived spikes in global aerosols caused by major volcanic eruptions in 1982 and 1991, but a gradual decline since about 1990. By 2005, global aerosols had dropped as much as 20 percent from the relatively stable level between 1986 and 1991."



Global 'Sunscreen' Has Likely Thinned, Report NASA Scientists

3/16/2007 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/16/2007 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Al Gore is doing his part, adding the non-scientists to the "Post-Normal Science" debate on his money-maker:

Former Vice President Al Gore has collected nearly 300,000 electronic signatures asking Congress to take action on global warming, Gore said in an entry on his Web site Friday.

Gore said the signatures demonstrate "that hundreds of thousands of people share my sense of urgency" on climate change. Gore is scheduled to testify before about the issue Wednesday.

"Political will is a renewable resource, and enough already exists to start solving this crisis," Gore said. "We just have to communicate that forcefully to the political leaders of our country."



"(AP) Gore collects signatures on climate change"


You can't make this stuff up! The Eloi WANT Al Gore and the Moorlocks to eat them.

3/16/2007 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

buddy larsen,

Since 19th century European intellectuals decided to murder G-d and throw his remains in a dumpster, Death has stalked the world, reaping hundreds of millions of souls with industrial efficiency. Of course, the really bright, post-normal folk will tell you it was Christianity done it.

Yeah...when I think of WWI, WWII, Fascism, National Socialism, Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism, Potism (Who knew?), and Islamofascism, I think G-d, don't you? For a dead guy, G-d sure causes a lot of trouble.

Did something happen to the gene pool during the Little Ice Age?

3/16/2007 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I think maybe it did. That 5,000 year old ice-age guy found in the Alps some years ago had genius level artifacts all over him.

3/16/2007 09:57:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

pardon my dumb--"Oetzi the Iceman" much-antedates the last Ice Age.

3/16/2007 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

Unless the defendants all die beforehand (a distinct possibility), a case of jurisprudential “Post-Normal [cy]” is in the offing:

Khmer Rouge trial rules agreed at last

“Disagreements which had held up the start of the tribunal, set up last year by Cambodia and the United Nations ranged from admissibility of evidence and witness protection to the height of the judges' chairs.”

[…]

“The government has many officials with Khmer Rouge backgrounds who would not want their backgrounds investigated too closely and China worries details of its support of the back to the soil "Year Zero" government will come out, diplomats say.”

That ‘Year Zero’ plan is akin to the Chinese “Great Leap” that led to the “Great Famine” that led to the deaths by starvation of 40,000,000 predominantly rural Chinese. (More or less, but who is counting, right? That would be so Pre-Post-Normal.)

For some perspective, the Khmer Rouge were driven from power in 1979.

3/16/2007 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger the mad fiddler said...

The people trying to convince us that Global Warming is upon us are trying to bully everyone into agreement.

Consensus, they call it.

Consensus: Until the dramatic collision of the enormous Shoemaker-Levy Comet with Jupiter in 1994, the vast majority of scientists refused to believe that comet or asteroid collisions had any effect on planets.

Consensus: Until the discovery of the mid-ocean ridges since World War II, most scientists dismissed Alfred Wegener's theory of plate tectonics, despite the obvious matching shapes of the coasts of north & south america to those of Europe and Africa, and the correspondence of major geologic strata and fossil beds on those opposing coastlines.

Consensus: For centuries the vast majority of people agreed it was self-evident that the sun revolved around a Flat Earth.

Consensus: For centuries most people agreed that our lives were governed by the alignment of the stars and planets at the moment of our birth.

Consensus: For centuries, governments and populations have accused, tried, and burned witches at the stake after confessions extracted by unimaginable torture.

Consensus: For hundreds of years surgeons all agreed it was unnecessary to wash their hands after performing autopsies. So what if half the patients they examined died within days of raging fevers?

Consensus among the elite, educated, and peasants alike, gave us racism, sexism, and fifty other forms of bigotry.

Consensus gave us the Dredd Scott decision by the United States Supreme court.

Who are these idiots that think consensus is such a great thing?

3/16/2007 11:08:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

Thanks aase's death and buddy. We made it through the snow (thank you, Volvo; love my first fwd), the nitwits and some bad CT DoT road clearing (Bristol-New Britain) and she's safely where she needs to be for sepsis #7 (2 bugs so far this time); in the care of a bunch of real medical artists and the medical science they have available.

I wonder...could penicillin and it's progeny have been found by PNS? I think not.

3/16/2007 11:32:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy said...

3case, we who are not ill ought to be ten times as grateful as we probably are. prayers up.

3/17/2007 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger the mad fiddler said...

I followed the "Excellence in Wanker Science" link at the end of the comments section to the website.

Coeruleus, the blogger who evidently wrote the article, has a succinct little illustration graphing "System Uncertainties" on the horizontal axis, and "Decision Stakes" on the vertical.

His graph defines three purportedly unambiguous regions:

(a) the first, in which "applied science" may be expected to provide the clearest vision that should determine policy;

(b) the second, in which "Professional Consultants" must use their judgment, intuition, and even take brave risks because of uncertainties, with science in a subordinate role;

(c) in the third region, where data are lacking and catastrophe may be inferred, policy --- he asserts --- should be subject primarily to political determination.

He supports this with a further assertion [i.e., statement unsupported by anything but his opinion]: "The red [i.e., third] area is where global warming policy lies: action might involve serious economic consequences, but inaction might involve serious environmental consequences."

That statement is misleading in two important ways. (1) Taking action based on incomplete data and incorrect theory may in fact severely disrupt the environment by exacerbating fluctuations that are merely normal; and (2) the consequences of inaction may be entirely benign, by leaving undisturbed fluctuations that are merely within historic norms.

It is grossly irresponsible to advocate early action based on irrational, incomplete, biased arguments --- or worse, arguments or "studies" that may be deliberately skewed and exaggerated, however noble the intent of such distortions may seem.

There are many disturbing reports of studies by credentialed scientists who refuse to allow critics or skeptics to examine their data. This absolutely prevents their conclusions or analysis being subjected to verification, even by those who might favor their point of view.

I'm not suggesting that only scientists have the right to decide what should be done.

But I do firmly believe that people abandon scientific objectivity and independently testable facts only at their extreme peril.

Just because he made a pretty graph doesn't make his assertions true; it's merely a visual diagram of his opinion.

3/17/2007 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe1 said...

"Surely the arrival of death machines a la the War of the Worlds would be worse than a two inch rise in sea levels? And how do we prove that aliens will arrive? Out of order. The question of what to do if they might arrive is so important that we must prepare for it in any case. And the preparations must be vast; lifestyles should be controlled. Industry regulated. Nations given quotas, etc."
-wretchard


thank you for putting it so well.

3/17/2007 08:46:00 PM  

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