Carlos

If Cosmologists designed cars

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Inspired by the discussion lately, last night I had a sudden idea as I was about to go to sleep and so immediately put pencil to paper and wrote a short and silly dialogue that I think illustrates the point I've been trying to make about dark matter/energy.

News Reporter: Leading Cosmologists announced earlier this week that they had designed the greatest car on earth, capable of 200mpg and driving faster than 300mph. In its latest race it won the Indy 500, and destroyed previous records for both speed and finish time. We now go live to the designers of this amazing car.

Journalist: So how did you design a car to run so fast?

Cosmologist: Well, our secret was the coupling of a Spanner engine with a Mark transmission.

Journalist: Impossible! Engineers long ago demonstrated that design was impossible by nature.

Cosmologist: Not so, the secret was the use of what we have come to call a "dark torque converter".

Journalist: What's a "dark torque converter"?

Cosmologist: We're not sure honestly... what we do know is that it doesn't possess physical qualities like that of any other torque converter, but the qualities it does posses allow the car to work.

Journalist: I... I don't understand.

Cosmologist: Well, it's hard to wrap your mind around really.

Journalist: But you did get the car to work?

Cosmologist: Oh yes, it performed better than any of us had expected. In a test run yesterday it actually outran the fastest car on earth.

Journalist: Wow! Can we see it?

Cosmologist: Well no, the car hasn't been built yet.

Journalist: What?? How did you test run it then?

Cosmologist: We ran computer simulations... I'd try to explain, but the mathematics behind it is rather abstract and over your head. But the car in principle can be built.

Journalist: How do you know that?

Cosmologist: Because the simulation worked.

Journalist: But the "dark torque converter" hasn't even been invented yet!"

Cosmologist: That's not a problem. Because the existence of the "dark torque converter" caused the car to work, we know that the "dark torque converter" must exist and can be created.

Journalist: But you don't know that, the car has never been built.

Cosmologist: Yes we do, because the simulation worked.

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Good, I'm glad someone enjoyed it :D

I liked it too. Do you know if the car is American-made or foreign-made? I want to keep our economy running strong.

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Good, I'm glad someone enjoyed it :D

I did. I thought it was rather clever the way you took some facts from one context and applied them to an entirely different context leading to some interesting epistemological insights.

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Thank you Paul and Betsy :D

I did. I thought it was rather clever the way you took some facts from one context and applied them to an entirely different context leading to some interesting epistemological insights.

I was experiencing difficulty in clearly and succinctly defining the error in philosophical terms, so it was much easier for me to simply imagine the same scenario in a less abstract context and then identify the error.

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I liked it too. Do you know if the car is American-made or foreign-made? I want to keep our economy running strong.

If we stayed faithful to the analogy the car would be produced by an international team. Every two years the completion date would be delayed by another year and the budget would grow by 30%. After completion, it would experience numerous mechanical and electrical failures, further increasing the budget. (Ok, that's particle physics not cosmology, but same difference)

There would however be no shortage of glowing PR reports for the project dripping with spiritual hyperbole suggesting the project to be a holy grail quest for humanity that is beyond question.

Meanwhile, projects for promising, practical cars would languish from a lack of funding and fame.

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Using the chain of reasoning from "if Cosmologists designed cars" as a template, here is the argument for man-made (Anthropogenic) Global Warming.

News Reporter: Leading Climatologists announced earlier this week that they had definitively proven AGW is real and happening. We go live to a discussion amongst scientists at the University of ___________

Scientist: So how have you proven that man is causing global warming?

AGW-Scientist: Well, we have shown that man's emission of carbon dioxide is enhancing the greenhouse effect and warming the Earth.

Scientist: Impossible! Basic Radiation Physics shows that the greenhouse effect of additional CO2 is far too weak to account for the recent warming we have experienced.

AGW-Scientist: Not so. While it is true that CO2 on its own can't account for the warming, we have found that water vapor in the atmosphere acts as a 'positive feedback' in response to the warming caused by CO2. So a very small initial warming caused by man triggers a feedback effect, the total of which is much greater in magnitude than the CO2 caused warming alone.

Scientist: That's amazing! So you are saying that your team of Climatologists finally understands the detailed physical mechanisms of water vapor, clouds, ocean cycles and precipitation in our atmosphere?

AGW-Scientist: Oh god no, not at all. No one can accurately predict that sort of stuff at all. Precipitation and cloud cover are infamous for how difficult they are to model or predict.

Scientist: ...then I'm confused. If you don't actually understand how water vapor behaves in the atmosphere, how can you say that it will serve as a powerful feedback-effect to CO2 warming?

AGW-Scientist: Oh, we ran a large number of different computer simulations. We found that the simulations where we assumed that water-vapor behaved as a positive feedback instead of a negative-feedback more accurately modeled the past temperatures.

Scientist: Then it's just an arbitrary assumption with no physical grounding in reality.

AGW-Scientist: Not so. Our computer simulations have verified that the assumption is accurate.

Scientist: But your simulations have never been validated, and contain enormously inaccurate simplifications and many arbitrary assumptions. How can un-validated models with no predictive-power be used to prove an arbitrary assumption?

AGW-Scientist: Because the model with positive feedback effects worked the best.

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AGW-Scientist: Not so. While it is true that CO2 on its own can't account for the warming, we have found that water vapor in the atmosphere acts as a 'positive feedback' in response to the warming caused by CO2. So a very small initial warming caused by man triggers a feedback effect, the total of which is much greater in magnitude than the CO2 caused warming alone.

Note: in essential form, this is the actual argument of AGW scientists, as proposed by their 'greatest' minds. How much the presence of additional CO2 would warm the atmosphere can be calculated without controversy. Where the controversy exists is on the many 'feedback effects' that can act to either reinforce the warming, or negate it.

The uncertainties in these feedbacks are often orders of magnitude larger than the actual net effect of warming that is being argued about, and often for a given mechanism they don't even know if the feedback would be positive or negative.

So here you have the case where every economy on the planet could be wrecked based on a theory built from arbitrary assumptions verified in climate computer simulations that couldn't accurately predict the temperature in a mud puddle.

You can't make this kind of stuff up...

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So here you have the case where every economy on the planet could be wrecked based on a theory built from arbitrary assumptions verified in climate computer simulations that couldn't accurately predict the temperature in a mud puddle.

You can't make this kind of stuff up...

Quite so. Right now we have NO climate science. We have a lot of climate models and they are subject to diddling the data de jour. Even if political agendas did not pollute our efforts to deal with climate change (which I believe are largely driven by natural processes not under human control) it is not clear how good a picture of climate change we would have.

Right now the entire enterprise of determining rational climate policy is shot through with politically motivated lies and corruption.

Here is the thing: anthropogenic (human caused) climate change is the very pretext the government can use for interfering even further with the minute portions of our lives. At this moment we are ALL criminals because we exhale carbon dioxide. I remember a scene in Atlas Shrugged where one of the government guys tells Hank Reardon that the real trick in running things is to make everyone a criminal. Well, it is happening in the climate racket.

Bob Kolker

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Right now we have NO climate science. We have a lot of climate models and they are subject to diddling the data de jour. Even if political agendas did not pollute our efforts to deal with climate change (which I believe are largely driven by natural processes not under human control) it is not clear how good a picture of climate change we would have.

Right now the entire enterprise of determining rational climate policy is shot through with politically motivated lies and corruption.

More precisely, there is some good science within climatology -- some isolated physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer algorithms -- but the way they put it together in these "models" posing as scientific explanation is, as you say, "politically motivated lies and corruption", but also epistemological corruption.

Here is the thing: anthropogenic (human caused) climate change is the very pretext the government can use for interfering even further with the minute portions of our lives. At this moment we are ALL criminals because we exhale carbon dioxide.

This is only one instance of viro theology in general, under which humans are guilty of interfering with the "intrinsic value" of nature (which they insist does not include man). That is why you are guilty of any "footprint" you leave. It's a simple theological deduction from that that you are guilty for breathing in particular.

I remember a scene in Atlas Shrugged where one of the government guys tells Hank Reardon that the real trick in running things is to make everyone a criminal. Well, it is happening in the climate racket.

Courtesy of Phil's research CD:

"Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against—then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted—and you create a nation of law-breakers—and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

Except that Ferris wanted artificial guilt for pure power. The viros think you really are guilty for being human. The implementation is the same.

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Do you know if the car is American-made or foreign-made? I want to keep our economy running strong.

Cash for cosmology?

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Right now we have NO climate science. We have a lot of climate models and they are subject to diddling the data de jour. Even if political agendas did not pollute our efforts to deal with climate change (which I believe are largely driven by natural processes not under human control) it is not clear how good a picture of climate change we would have.

Right now the entire enterprise of determining rational climate policy is shot through with politically motivated lies and corruption.

More precisely, there is some good science within climatology -- some isolated physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer algorithms -- but the way they put it together in these "models" posing as scientific explanation is, as you say, "politically motivated lies and corruption", but also epistemological corruption.

From reading the literature, reading the words of the scientists themselves, and following different climate blogs written by people in the community, I get the impression that the field of Climate Science is identical to the field of Physics in this sense: 99% of the active researchers are honest, very reality focused people who do quality work, while the remaining 1% are pie-in-the-sky rationalists who concoct insane theories. The 1% manages to receive a disproportionate amount of press coverage though.

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Right now we have NO climate science. We have a lot of climate models and they are subject to diddling the data de jour. Even if political agendas did not pollute our efforts to deal with climate change (which I believe are largely driven by natural processes not under human control) it is not clear how good a picture of climate change we would have.

Right now the entire enterprise of determining rational climate policy is shot through with politically motivated lies and corruption.

More precisely, there is some good science within climatology -- some isolated physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer algorithms -- but the way they put it together in these "models" posing as scientific explanation is, as you say, "politically motivated lies and corruption", but also epistemological corruption.

From reading the literature, reading the words of the scientists themselves, and following different climate blogs written by people in the community, I get the impression that the field of Climate Science is identical to the field of Physics in this sense: 99% of the active researchers are honest, very reality focused people who do quality work, while the remaining 1% are pie-in-the-sky rationalists who concoct insane theories. The 1% manages to receive a disproportionate amount of press coverage though.

And also, you have to realize that in academic science we are funded by a public that knows nothing of substance about our research fields; therefore if you want to receive funding on what is (to the public) mundane research, you have to try to connect it to something larger, something popular, throw in buzz-words like "nanoscience", etc, and even if their research--even if spectacularly successful--could really only impact energy generation in secondary, speculative ways.

If you are a climate scientist who is studying oxygen isotopes collected from cave sediments in western China to construct a better understanding of rainfall and temperature patterns 145,000 years ago, you probably stand a much better chance of getting research grants by trying to link what you are doing in some tenuous way to global warming. From this standpoint, it really isn't surprising that anything and everything has been linked or referred to global warming in academic climate science. Researchers are probably just trying to continue work as usual in their little niches of sub-fields, and if that means being pragmatic and using buzz-words about AGW to get funding then they'll probably do it. Hell, I've seen plenty of my fellow researchers argue for why their research should be funded because it could possibly impact clean energy generation, even if they don't buy into or hold any opinions or thoughts at all about the current controversy involving AGW and environmentalism.

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And also, you have to realize that in academic science we are funded by a public that knows nothing of substance about our research fields; therefore if you want to receive funding on what is (to the public) mundane research, you have to try to connect it to something larger, something popular, throw in buzz-words like "nanoscience", etc, and even if their research--even if spectacularly successful--could really only impact energy generation in secondary, speculative ways.

If you are a climate scientist who is studying oxygen isotopes collected from cave sediments in western China to construct a better understanding of rainfall and temperature patterns 145,000 years ago, you probably stand a much better chance of getting research grants by trying to link what you are doing in some tenuous way to global warming. From this standpoint, it really isn't surprising that anything and everything has been linked or referred to global warming in academic climate science. Researchers are probably just trying to continue work as usual in their little niches of sub-fields, and if that means being pragmatic and using buzz-words about AGW to get funding then they'll probably do it. Hell, I've seen plenty of my fellow researchers argue for why their research should be funded because it could possibly impact clean energy generation, even if they don't buy into or hold any opinions or thoughts at all about the current controversy involving AGW and environmentalism.

Ack, I put a sentence in the wrong place; here is how it was supposed to be:

If you are a climate scientist who is studying oxygen isotopes collected from cave sediments in western China to construct a better understanding of rainfall and temperature patterns 145,000 years ago, you probably stand a much better chance of getting research grants by trying to link what you are doing in some tenuous way to global warming. From this standpoint, it really isn't surprising that anything and everything has been linked or referred to global warming in academic climate science. Researchers are probably just trying to continue work as usual in their little niches of sub-fields, and if that means being pragmatic and using buzz-words about AGW to get funding then they'll probably do it. Hell, I've seen plenty of my fellow researchers argue for why their research should be funded because it could possibly impact clean energy generation, even if they don't buy into or hold any opinions or thoughts at all about the current controversy involving AGW and environmentalism, and even if their research--even if spectacularly successful--could really only impact energy generation in secondary, speculative ways.

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From reading the literature, reading the words of the scientists themselves, and following different climate blogs written by people in the community, I get the impression that the field of Climate Science is identical to the field of Physics in this sense: 99% of the active researchers are honest, very reality focused people who do quality work, while the remaining 1% are pie-in-the-sky rationalists who concoct insane theories. The 1% manages to receive a disproportionate amount of press coverage though.

I think that a lot more than 1% consists of viro zealots.

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From reading the literature, reading the words of the scientists themselves, and following different climate blogs written by people in the community, I get the impression that the field of Climate Science is identical to the field of Physics in this sense: 99% of the active researchers are honest, very reality focused people who do quality work, while the remaining 1% are pie-in-the-sky rationalists who concoct insane theories. The 1% manages to receive a disproportionate amount of press coverage though.

I think that a lot more than 1% consists of viro zealots.

In Earth Sciences departments, yet probably so; they are little more than a military outpost of the viro movement from what I've seen in our own department here.

But in the actual field of climate science, just doing a general search through the literature returns far less article on global warming than you would expect. From what I've seen most individuals research mundane things, like oxygen isotopes collected from lake bed sediments in China, or studying the chemical interactions of CO2 with ice at extreme low temperatures.

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Ack, correction:

In Earth Sciences departments, yet yes probably so; they are little more than a military outpost of the viro movement from what I've seen in our own department here.

I'm sorry, my posts have been kind of low in quality lately, as many are written when I have small bits of free time at work or at home... I'll try to exercise more care in the future.

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