Monday, April 16, 2007

Vanity, vanity, all is vanity

The fine article by Michael Shnayerson in Vanity Fair has made it to the web. In it, Michael Mann aptly summed up the main issue with the CEI:
"I've never seen any evidence that they have any interest in being intellectually honest."
We see what it looks like to turn the tables on Ebell. Rather than get the science from the scientists, and then take it to him for a good kicking, it's done the other way round:
Mainstream scientists say that, along with a warming atmosphere, our oceans are heating up, too. "I think that's made up," Ebell says. "I understand that the oceans are primarily heated by direct solar radiation. I do not understand how—beyond just the surface—they are heated by the warming up of the atmosphere. It seems to me that the atmosphere would have to warm up significantly above the previous level before that radiation could actually heat up the ocean."

"That's the most preposterous bullshit I've ever heard," exclaims Tom Wigley, another senior scientist at NCAR and co-author of a new study on ocean warming. "Perhaps that would be the case if the oceans didn't move. But the ocean is continually moving, horizontally and vertically, and continually mixing heat down to the depths. The top 100 meters has warmed about the same amount as the atmosphere—about one and a half degrees Fahrenheit. The deeper ocean warms much more slowly, but each degree increase in atmospheric temperature does propagate down.… In fact, the amount of warming agrees exceptionally well with what computer models say should have happened." Wigley says the models suggest that the rate of ocean warming in the 21st century will probably be four times greater than in the 20th century.

Ebell has a phrase for such predictions. Computer models for predicting climate, he says, "don't even pass the laugh test."

Wigley is astonished: "Does he think modeling is a hoax? Has he ever tried to talk to people about this?, I wonder. Or is he just having a guess?" Wigley observes that scientists have charted actual weather data from the 20th century, then programmed computer models to see how well the models predict the weather that actually occurred. "There are hundreds of papers," says Wigley, "showing that models do a fantastically good job."
It would be a surprise if Ebell has ever talked to a working scientist to find out what it was they did. He thinks they do what he does: sit at the desk and make up stuff without regard for its fallacy. Actually meeting scientists would get in the way of slandering them, as he does to James Hansen, asserting that he is not qualified to pronounce on the science because he
"...was not trained as a climate scientist... He was trained as an astronomer. He's a physicist. His dissertation was on the atmosphere of Venus, and he has applied what he's learned in physics and in astronomy to become a climate scientist, but you know from him talking about species' going north, he knows nothing about biology."

The more you know, the less credible you are. Just like a heart surgeon who is going to perform no better in the field when called to do an emergency leg amputation than any Tom, Dick, or Myron with a second-class dishonours degree in lying, obviously.

He's done this before:
Not long after, Ebell stirred the wrath of the British Parliament by declaring in a BBC radio interview that the U.K.'s chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, had made a "ridiculous claim" on global warming despite knowing "nothing about climate science." The House of Commons proposed a motion to censure Ebell. (The motion never passed, Ebell says wistfully.)
... not pointing out that -- as he well knows -- it was an Early Day Motion which acts like a petition. It does not pass even if 100% of MPs sign it. As it happened, it got 10%, so was above average considering that there are hundreds per year and many MPs don't participate.

And so it goes on, ad nauseous. Ebell is not handsome. His glasses are silly. He is not elegant. And he is not a nerd. Nerds can be smelly, boring, and rude, but they don't lie. Myron can shave and wear a suit well enough to get on TV, but is otherwise too talentless to find an honest job that doesn't involve selling out his children and children's children for last year's profits at Exxon. After so many years of accusing scientists of talking rubbish and of being financially motivated in forming their theories, it is natural that he could never get a job as a scientist, even though those are his exact talents.

Humans are creatures of habit. We don't consider the alternatives. We are doomed.


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