Sunday (Settled) Science: Is that woman really your mother?

You think that the woman you regard as your mother gave birth to you. But it’s an open question; there’s still debate, and it’s definitely not an open and shut case. Right?

Is she really?

No, no, I’m not being silly. I mean it. You need to prove to me that she’s your mother. You’ve got a birth certificate? Just a bit of paper. You look like her? Coincidence. DNA test? Useful, but not 100% accurate. She’ll swear that it’s true? Well, she might be lying, or was duped at the hospital. A photo of her holding you as a baby? Doctored. You don’t have a leg to stand on!

In the absence of conclusive evidence that she’s your mother, you should suspend contact immediately, examine the evidence more carefully and make a decision about whether you continue the relationship at a later date. By investing in a relationship with your supposed ‘mother’ now, you’re wasting time and energy that could be better spent earning money or having fun.

Kudos to those who’ve guessed where I’m going with this! I’m trying to make a point about the way we know things.

None of our knowledge about the world can be viewed as certain, or settled. Even something as fundamental as the identity of our biological family is hard to be certain about. That’s because all of our knowledge is incomplete. Whether it be the next song on my iTunes playlist, the exact time the train will arrive at the tube stop tomorrow morning, or whether climate change is a real problem, I just can’t be certain.

“Wait a minute, David,” you say. “I thought you were pro-science and pro-evidence. If all knowledge is incomplete, how can we be expected to make decisions about things? We could be wrong and then it would have been a waste!”

Good question, rhetorical reader! Of course, we make decisions based on incomplete information all the time. We also take things to be true even if they’re not totally and exhaustively backed up by evidence. To live any other way would be a waking nightmare of fact-checking and second-guessing. It doesn’t matter if we apply science or common sense or any other way of assessing information that we choose: there will always be uncertainty.

I’m not sure if I’m going to get stolen from, but I have insurance for my camera gear. I’m not sure if I can make a career in science communication, but I’ve invested 3 years of hard-earned savings into the course I’m doing. I’m not completely sure if my mother really gave birth to me, but I still Skype her each week! Why? Because evidence can be weighed and assessed. Questions about the world are not, fundamentally, yes or no questions. If we’re completely honest, those answers are only useful as approximations of our certainty about the situation.

This might all seem trivial and obvious, but it’s important. A recurring ploy in the media is the manufacturing of uncertainty by vested interests, and the manipulation of doubt and the nature of truth is at the heart of the matter. Forcing someone into a yes or no answer to a question is an extremely effective way of getting them to misrepresent their own opinion. This scenario has played out repeatedly with climate scientists in the past few years. It’s nice, then, to see someone avoid the trap! Check out this interview with environmentalist Ed Begley, Jr. getting into a shouting match with a right-wing commentator.

Begley Jr. wrests control of the interview away from the interviewer, and while it’s not ‘pretty’ interview technique, it was certainly much more effective than calmly trying to discuss why ‘settled’ isn’t appropriate in the context.

Don’t fall into the trap of equating uncertain with ‘right’ or ‘wrong’: uncertainty is always going to be a part of science and the world around us. Understand that, and when you hear anyone – no matter who they are – invoke words like ‘may show’ or ‘calls into doubt’, take their words with a grain of salt. On the flipside, if you see someone trying to eliminate uncertainty from a proposition, they’ve probably got an agenda to push. What is important is the amount and quality of evidence supporting the proposition.

Uncertainty dominates our lives, but it’s also a powerful rhetorical device and should be given healthy respect as such!

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Categories: Problems, Thoughts | Tags: , | 51 Comments

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51 thoughts on “Sunday (Settled) Science: Is that woman really your mother?

  1. Well said. This reminds me of how what was previously thought to be “junk” DNA may actually play quite a vital role in protein synthesis and other aspects of how we as human organisms come to be. What originally had been labeled useless turns out, after further scrutiny, to be in actuality rather useful.

    Maybe salt is so ubiquitous in the food we eat in order to inspire us to take a grain of salt similarly liberally with the various “evidence” with which we’re presented.

  2. Adam

    David Robertson, I can see the point you are trying to make in this article, but I don’t agree that this should be used in the case of anthropogenic global warming.

    In your article what you are saying is that, in most cases, the science is never settled, but if the evidence supports it, then it is best to do something about it.

    But David, if the evidence which is available is not very convincing, then don’t you agree that the best thing to do, is simply wait it out and not rush to any simple conclusions?

    For a scientific theory such as AGW, you need to look at the evidence for and against and then come to a conclusion. But a lot of believers in the theory, only focus on their side of the argument.

    What you need to do is examine the empirical data, and see what it shows. And from what I’ve seen all of the empirical findings seem to be against AGW.

    Look, you can’t just say that, it doesn’t matter that the science is not settled and that you can never be 100% sure; it’s just best if you do something anyway. David Robertson, if the theory is not supported by real world data, then that theory is false. And if that theory, such as AGW, is false, then there is no reason to do anything about it.

    Also, in your article you imply that anyone who is skeptical of AGW and claim that the ‘science is not settled’ must have “an agenda to push”. This is wrong. There are many real scientists who have followed the evidence and data and come to a conclusion, which is why they are skeptical. They are not simply under the pay of big industry and all that.

    • Adam

      I suggest that you read this essay here, written by an environmentalist and ex-believer:

      http://www.greenworldtrust.org.uk/Science/Curious.htm

      • mattycoze

        “There are many real scientists who have followed the evidence” – like your pin-up-boy Lord Monkton right?

    • Adam, please see the Precautionary Principle:

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

      I know you think AGW is completely false. Even so, the benefits of decarbonising economies and altering our society’s approach to resource use to a less consumptive and more sustainable paradigm go far beyond climate change mitigation.

      • Adam

        David I don’t think that the precautionary principle is a good enough reason for decarbonising our economy.

        Look, the believers in AGW are saying that in order to avert a climate catastrophe then we need to get rid of all our factories, our cars, our fossil fuel power stations, and pretty much anything which has significant co2 emissions.

        Now the gravity of what humanity would need to do to stop the supposed climate threat would have huge repercussions to our economy and all that. It would cost millions of jobs, and damage our energy independence.

        I’m sorry, but if the evidence is not reliable, then surely you can see that there should be no reason to make harsh decisions. We shouldn’t do things which would have massive repercussions if there is no evidence for any threat.

        Look right now, the world needs fossil fuels and cars and all of the other types of machines which release co2. Currently, we wouldn’t be able to have all our electricity and all we have now without them.

        Now, just so you know I entirely support new research into alternative energy and cleaner fuel. If tomorrow they invented an energy source, which could successfully replace fossil fuels, then I’d be over the moon. But I’m a realist. In our current situation, we just don’t have any reliable alternative to fossil fuels. Other “green energy” solutions don’t work very well. They aren’t efficient and don’t generate much power, and would not improve our economy if we took them on board.

        I know that de-carbonising our economy must have some positive influence, but I’m afraid that by far the negatives outway the positives. The world currently needs carbon-based energy sources to survive and get electricity. Currently we could not do without them.

        I think that we need to focus on real environmental issues, and other more important things that need dealing with. I don’t believe that we should simply get rid of all that emits co2 simply because of the precautionary principle.

      • Adam, you’re lying. The ‘believers’ in AGW are not saying we need to get rid of all our factories and cars. That is a simple, clear misrepresentation of the action being advocated.

        If there are other legitimate environmental issues to be pursued, please, go right ahead. Don’t try to tout environmental credentials if you don’t walk the talk. You’re not proving anything by posting here. If you want to talk environmental protection, show me evidence that you actually have taken action to that end.

      • Adam

        “The ‘believers’ in AGW are not saying we need to get rid of all our factories and cars. That is a simple, clear misrepresentation of the action being advocated.”

        David Robertson, the IPCC says that millions of tonnes of co2 would need to be reduced in order to avert the claimed climate threat. Now when I said that, I didn’t mean that they said to completely abolish factories and cars altogether. I know that if attempts were made to reduce co2, we’d still be allowed plenty of cars and factories. It would just a huge reduction in them, which I’m afraid would still harm our economy. I did not mean to “misrepresent” what you are saying we need to do. I was simply listing the likely consequences.

        Now, I’m not sure entirely what the meaning of your last statement is. All I did was simply state that I do care for environmental issues. I’m not sure why you are asking me to prove anything. I have just simply stated my opinion.

      • “…[they say] we need to get rid of all our factories, our cars, our fossil fuel power stations, and pretty much anything which has significant co2 emissions”
        … backflip …
        “I didn’t mean that they said to completely abolish factories and cars altogether”

        Hmmm, can you see why I missed your point? It’s not worth talking to you if you knowingly exaggerate and misrepresent the positions of your opponents.

      • Adam

        David Robertson I do not “knowingly exaggerate and misrepresent the positions of my opponents.” It was just a simple statement. Look, all I meant was that I understand that they will not all be abolished COMPLETELY. Just that there will be a huge decline in each of them. I didn’t mean that statement to be taken so seriously.

        Look, I think that you should read that essay I gave you. She explains in simple terms, why AGW is invalid, she gives links to several peer reviewed studies, and all that.

        http://www.greenworldtrust.org.uk/Science/Curious.htm

      • Adam, if you are going to state the position of an opponent so that you can refute it, you should at least try to make it *close* to what is actually being proposed.

        I looked at your link. It’s a huge dump for all the various climate skeptic graphs of the last 10 years. Impressive.

        Oh, and a 12 step plan? Is it actually a prank site? Step 10: “You are a scientist !” and earlier “there is serious evidence casting doubt on the CFC link to the ozone hole which fluctuates naturally and regularly”

        Errr, really? This site convinced you?

      • Adam

        David Robertson, could you please explain why you don’t agree with what was said in that essay, and could you point out the things that you think are wrong? She very clearly explained all her points and provided evidence, so that the general viewer could check it themselves.

        All you have done is simply pick out just one little statement made in that essay (which has absolutely nothing whatsoever do with climate change or the main points of her essay) and basically claimed that it doesn’t sound believable, so the essay must be wrong.

        David Robertson, firstly, if you want to show where something is wrong, you need to go through the main points and explain why you disagree with them. Not just simply one statement she made.

        Secondly, the argument that the ozone hole might not be man made is not far-fetched and is indeed supported by real world data and peer reviewed literature.

        See
        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/03/26/galactic-cosmic-rays-may-be-responsible-for-the-antarctic-ozone-hole/

      • Adam, no. I’m not going to go through the essay and rebut it. That’s not my role, and I don’t have time or the motivation. In my quick reading, many of the points made were illogical, cherrypicked or have already been debunked extensively elsewhere.

        I’m not claiming it’s wrong specifically because of the points I mentioned. However, as a source of information, it reeks of untrustworthiness, with no attempt to collect new data, form a plausible hypothesis to compete with AGW, or seek out and incorporate opinions from credible opposing sources.

        I mean, this is just laughable: “The reins of power have been held by a small group spanning the UN, the IPCC, certain business interests, and a few key scientists, bloggers, activists”

        THAT is a small group? What’s a large group then? And elsewhere on the site…

        “The very term “greenhouse gas” is an unproven assumption… There are no proven “greenhouse gases” in the real atmosphere.”

        That one speaks for itself.

        OK, you’ve gotten enough ‘bites’ out of me: feel free to post if you like, but be aware that if you try to drag me or other commenters into pointless debates about climate science, your comments will end up in the trash.

      • PS Adam: You just experienced epic reference fail. From the paper you linked to:

        “these data provide strong evidence of the Cosmic Ray (CR) mechanism [6,8]: the effect of CRs on ozone mainly occurs by stimulating the electron-induced reactions of halogen molecules on PSCs during the winter polar stratosphere, leading to the formation of the springtime O3 hole. The appearance of the polar O3 hole is known to have a consequent effect on annual total O3 in the polar area and globally.”

        And: “In the CR-driven mechanism, the O3-depleting reactions depend on halogen concentrations, CR intensity, and PSC ice (to hold the electrons) in the stratosphere [6,8]”

        “in the pre-1980s, no significant halogen loading was found in the stratosphere, and thus no significant O3 loss was observed.”

        The paper supports the role of CFCs in the ozone hole, just with an additional catalysis mechanism to the dominant model. Please read literature before you cite it: that’s what scientists do.

        It was an interesting paper though, thanks for pointing me to it. If you’d like to destroy your credibility further, be my guest.

      • Adam

        “In my quick reading, many of the points made were illogical, cherrypicked or have already been debunked extensively elsewhere. ….. However, as a source of information, it reeks of untrustworthiness, with no attempt to collect new data, form a plausible hypothesis to compete with AGW, or seek out and incorporate opinions from credible opposing sources.”

        David Robertson, I’d appreciate it if you actually gave examples of some of the things you have listed. I think that you should actually provide evidence about what you are saying about that essay is true. Many warmists simply make ‘faith claims’ when it comes to stuff like this. Now, if you can actually provide examples and proper evidence of what you are claiming, then I’d be happy to answer them.

        But I think that when you make claims like that, you should ALWAYS provide evidence, or else it is just a faith claim. Like I said, if we’re going to have a debate, then I need to be able to actually answer proper points.

        “I mean, this is just laughable: “The reins of power have been held by a small group spanning the UN, the IPCC, certain business interests, and a few key scientists, bloggers, activists”

        THAT is a small group? What’s a large group then?”

        The author of that article didn’t mean that the UN and the IPCC were small groups. What she meant that it was controlled by people WITHIN all of those organisations.

        Basically what she is saying, is what was shown in the climategte emails. Small groups of scientists who have huge parts in the AGW debate, have manipulated evidence to support it, and tried to keep out debate.
        She isn’t saying it’s whole organisations like the UN. Just certain small groups. There are numerous well meaning scientists within many organisations, who have been taken in by this. I’m not saying that it is a ‘conspiracy’ , just collusion of interests by different people.

        ““The very term “greenhouse gas” is an unproven assumption… There are no proven “greenhouse gases” in the real atmosphere.”

        That one speaks for itself.”

        David, once again you are simply taking out selected quotes without actually attacking the main points. In that statement all she was saying was simply that in all cases the science is never settled and that there is still a lot we don’t know about the climate and the mechanisms that drive it. That new discoveries are casting doubt on what we already knew.

        So David could you please simply list out the basic parts that you thought were wrong, and why you don’t agree with them

      • Adam

        “You just experienced epic reference fail. …… The paper supports the role of CFCs in the ozone hole, just with an additional catalysis mechanism to the dominant model. Please read literature before you cite it: that’s what scientists do.”

        David, I’m not sure if I entirely get what you’re saying in your comment. The quotes from the paper that you listed, simply explain the mechanism in which cosmic rays control the ozone depletion. It doesn’t mention CFC’s, it merely explains that cosmic rays create electron-induced reactions, which can explain the ozone loss.

        I’m not sure that YOU actually read that paper, since it clearly states that the data shows that cosmic rays are the dominant driver of ozone loss.

        “This Letter reports reliable satellite data in the period of 1980–2007 covering two full 11-yr cosmic ray
        (CR) cycles, clearly showing the correlation between CRs and ozone depletion, especially the polar ozone
        loss (hole) over Antarctica. The results provide STRONG EVIDENCE of the physical mechanism that the CR-
        driven electron-induced reaction of halogenated molecules plays the DOMINANT ROLE IN CAUSING THE OZONE HOLE”

        “Thus, the above facts (1)–(5) force one to
        conclude that the CR-driven electron-induced reaction is
        the DOMINANT MECHANISM for causing the polar O3 hole.”

        “Because of the accumulative effect
        of CR-driven electron reaction products, there may exist a
        time delay of about 1 year between the CR intensity
        maximum and the maximum ozone loss in the polar hole.
        For instance, the largest ozone holes were observed in 1987
        and 1998, respectively, corresponding to the CR intensity
        maxima observed in 1986 and 1997. ”

        David the paper clearly stated that cosmic rays were mainly responsible for the ozone hole, and that ozone changes correlated well with cosmic rays. The paper does not support the CFC’s argument. It stated simply that the scientific data supported the theory that CR’s were the dominant driver of ozone losses.

      • Adam

        “If you’d like to destroy your credibility further, be my guest.”

        David, I’d appreciate it if the personal insults were kept to a total of zero. I haven’t insulted you or talked down to you. In these comment, I’ve actually tried my best to be nice and civil. Whether you believe I have is your opinion; but I have indeed tried.

        I think that we should just stick to science and serious points.

      • Adam

        David, I suggest that you read this paper:

        “Empirical evidence for a celestial origin of the climate oscillations and its implications” by Nicola Scafetta published in the ‘Journal of Atmospheric and Solar Terrestrial Physics’ (2010)

        http://www.fel.duke.edu/%7Escafetta/pdf/scafetta-JSTP2.pdf

        I gave Mothincarnate this paper and all he did was simply attack the person who wrote it. He ignored my points and just kept repeating that I was obsessed with Scafetta.

        Now, David when you reply could not use ad homs like Moth.

        I’ll also repeat to you, what I told him; that if you just want to change to a different topic about climate change (e.g. the arctic) and debate it, then I’d be happy to do so. If you don’t, once again, that’s fine, but you can’t repeat claims that I’m obsessed with a certain author or topic.

      • Adam, I’m not debating with you on climate change. But your attempt to claim that paper as supporting the idea that CFCs don’t influence the ozone is so wrong it’s actually hilarious.

        You: “It doesn’t mention CFC’s”

        Do you know what a halogen is? Here:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halogen

        Do you know what a CFC is?
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorofluorocarbon

        OK. Now you’ll understand that CFCs = halogens in the context of the paper. But you don’t need to take my word for it:

        “From 1992 up to now, the Antarctic O3 loss has shown a clearest correlation with the CR intensity. This is because the total halogen amount of the stratosphere, particularly those of CFCs, is nearly constant in that period of time [30]; thus the regulating effect of CRs on O3 loss becomes manifest. In contrast, such a time correlation is hardly seen in the enlarging spring polar O3 loss during 1980s, since at that period of time, the halogen loading increased dramatically and thus ozone showed a drastic decreasing trend blurring the CR-O3 loss correlation.”

        I will summarise it in very simple terms:

        CFCs deplete ozone.
        Cosmic rays enhance the process.
        When cosmic rays are intense, the CFC ozone depletion reaction happens faster, and vice versa.

        OK?

        I didn’t mean to personally attack you. I suggested that, by using a reference which explicitly contradicts your position, you have destroyed your credibility. By then going back and continuing to argue the same point, you undermine it further and demonstrate either scientific illiteracy or close-mindedness. That’s not a personal attack, that’s an observation.

      • Adam

        David Robertson, firstly, let me say that you are indeed correct in several of your points. The paper does mention CFC’s and that they do have an effect on ozone. But you are not correct, when you claim that cosmic rays play only a secondary role in ozone depletion.

        As the paper explains, the way in which cosmic rays and CFC’s influence on ozone depletion is very similar and relates to each other. Cosmic rays can charge the CFC molecules, which would cause ozone loss. But David, as the paper shows, there is very clear correlation between cosmic rays and ozone loss. When cosmic rays were at a maximum, was when the ozone loss was greatest. Look, I understand that the connection between cosmic rays and ozone loss may be linked with CFC’s, but the very simplr fact, is that changes in galactic cosmic rays have go nothing to do with man. Now, the paper suggested that the cosmic rays were indeed, through electron-induced CFC reactions, the dominant driver of ozone loss. Now, regardless of the process in which it does it (I understand it could be through CFC linkage) but cosmic ray changes were always followed by ozone changes. Humans don’t control galactic cosmic rays. Therefore the changes of ozone that occurred were due to natural fluctuations. And yes, I do note that the paper said that CFC changes, played some changes in ozone, but the correlation was better with cosmic rays. As it showed, it was predicted that when CR’s got higher the ozone loss would increase. We can’t do nothing about it.

        Again it goes back to the point I made earlier; that there are some things that we think we new everything about, but then new empirical findings come along, and change what we originally thought. Before, people were sure that the ozone loss was COMPLETELY down to us, but as shown by that paper natural fluctuations can indeed play an important role, in the mechanism of driving ozone loss.

      • Adam

        Look, humans don’t control cosmic rays. Therefore we could not have played any part in some of the major losses of ozone that occurred with the high amount of cosmic ray intensity. It may be partly controlled by CFC’s, but the reactions with the molecules and halogens of the ozone are dominantly driven by cosmic rays. We can’t control cosmic rays, so we can’t control a lot of the ozone loss that occurs. I understand that humans could have played some part in ozone loss, but basically natural changes will have much better control over it, than we do.

        Now, David, I’ve haven’t paid any attention to the ozone hole debate, or what’s causing it or anything like that. I’ve mainly focused my attention on the climate debate. The only reason, I brought up the theory that the ozone hole could be controlled by natural changes, was simply because you mentioned it. I’m sure you know more about ozone loss than I do, but from some of the things I’ve seen, like the paper I gave you, the ozone hole may indeed be mainly controlled by natural changes.

      • If I ever wanted to see an example of a logical thought train crashing, you just gave me one.

        In the space of two posts, you went from conceding that I was correct, to saying that “from some of the things I’ve seen, like the paper I gave you, the ozone hole may indeed be mainly controlled by natural changes.”

        The evidence you provided didn’t support your original assertion. It’s painful to watch you double back from that realisation, to the same exact point you started with.

        Someone dying because a bullet has catastrophically rearranged their brain is a natural process. That doesn’t mean a man isn’t responsible for pulling the trigger. If there wasn’t available halogens for the O3 depletion reaction, it would not be a major problem. In a following paper (cited in a comment response), Lu states that it will take 100 years for the ozone hole to recover from the CFC-induced depletion.

        This is a perfect example of why I won’t debate with you on climate change. You hold a preconceived idea that natural processes are the major cause of an atmospheric problem. A strong body of evidence exists that it is actually a human-induced problem. You cherrypick from that evidence and twist it mentally so that you can continue holding your preconceived idea. When I demonstrated that the citation contradicts your point, you muddle around for a bit and then state again that it does actually support you.

        Do you understand why I don’t want to debate with you? How could I ever make intellectual progress with someone who is incapable of changing their viewpoint, even if their own evidence contradicts what they are saying?

      • Adam

        David, I don’t think that you have really understand what I was trying to say in my comments.

        “In the space of two posts, you went from conceding that I was correct, to saying that “from some of the things I’ve seen, like the paper I gave you, the ozone hole may indeed be mainly controlled by natural changes.””

        Look, I DO ACKNOWLEDGE, that you were right in saying that the paper does mention CFC’s and that they do affect ozone. I clearly stated in my comments below. What I was trying to say, which I don’t think you got, was that the CFC reactions were controlled by the cosmic rays, so really there wasn’t much we could do about it.

        Look,

        Do you agree that cosmic rays are a natural occurrence?

        Do you agree that humans can’t possibly control changes in cosmic rays?

        Do you agree that, although it was humans that put the CFC’s up there, the reactions between the halogens are mainly controlled by cosmic rays?

        Do you accept that when cosmic rays were high, ozone loss increased, and vice versa?

        Do you agree that, despite the fact the CFC’s were up there, we had noting to do with the changes in cosmic rays, and the changes in ozone that followed?

        “The evidence you provided didn’t support your original assertion. It’s painful to watch you double back from that realisation, to the same exact point you started with.”

        Look, once again I don’t think you fully understood what I was saying in my comments. I realize that human produced CFC’s do play an important part of ozone loss, but that their amount, and the electron reactions are controlled by cosmic rays. What I was trying to say was that it’s not our problem; we can’t do anything about it.

        Yes, we did indeed put CFC’s up there in the first place, but we can’t control the galactic cosmic rays that modulate it. We could not control and predict the higher changes in CR’s, which then caused the ozone loss. We were powerless to change it then, and we’ll probably be powerless to change it in the future.

        “Lu states that it will take 100 years for the ozone hole to recover from the CFC-induced depletion.”

        Exactly, CRF INDUCED, not human-induced. Like I said in my comments; I UNDERSTAND that it was HUMANS that planted the ‘seeds’ up there for ozone loss, but that the reactions which are happening with our chemicals is dominate by cosmic rays. The majority of the ozone loss is indeed CR-induced, and we can’t control cosmic rays, so therefore we should just stop worrying about it.

        I understand that humans did indeed play a part in the ozone loss, but that natural fluctuations are controlling it, and will continue to control it. Basically we should just stop worrying about a problem we can’t do much about. Like I said, I don’t think you read comments clearly (although in your defense I probably should have made it clearer) but I hope now you understand what I’m trying to say.

        • ““Lu states that it will take 100 years for the ozone hole to recover from the CFC-induced depletion.”
          Exactly, CRF INDUCED, not human-induced. Like I said in my comments; I UNDERSTAND that it was HUMANS that planted the ‘seeds’ up there for ozone loss, but that the reactions which are happening with our chemicals is dominate by cosmic rays. The majority of the ozone loss is indeed CR-induced, and we can’t control cosmic rays, so therefore we should just stop worrying about it.”

          Reading comprehension isn’t your strong point. Read my acronym again. CFC, not CRF. Human CFCs induced large-scale ozone depletion in the polar regions. We can stop worrying about it now, to some extent, BECAUSE we took strong global action to curb the emission of CFCs in 1989 with the Montreal Protocol. We must now wait 100 years before the system can return to its usual state. You seem to agree with this now. Isn’t it an excellent example of the need for a precautionary principle?

          And no. I’m not debating you on climate change, and with complete sincerity, I don’t care a jot if I insult you.

      • Adam

        David, I find that your last two paragraphs are actually pretty insulting. As I told you, I have paid no attention to the ozone hole debate. I don’t really care about that issue, I have focused much more on the climate debate. I have not just got a preconceived idea, and then just twisted evidence to support it. Like I said I don’t really care much about the ozone hole or what is causing it. The only reason I brought it up, was because that was the one point you attacked in the essay I gave you. I was simply trying to defend the statement she made; it is not something I am that interested in, or that I have a ‘preconcieved view’ on it. I have not ‘cherrypicked’ evidence, all I was doing was simply trying to show you that new empirical findings are casting doubt on what we thought we already knew.

      • Adam

        You cannot claimed to have judged my entire character, simply based on what I have said here. I hope that my previous comments have explained to you, what I was trying to say and my position on it. Like I said, I don’t know much about the ozone issue, I’m just speaking from my limited knowledge. I don’t think you understood what I was saying, which I think is why you wrote those paragraphs like that.

        If you want, then I’d happily debate you on climate change, and answer all of your points. That is the reason I came here in the first place, but we seemed to have got sidetracked. Now, do you want to just have a simple debate on climate change?

        I’ll remind you that you have not answered my points about showing what you think was wrong in that essay I gave you. If you could simply pick out the basic points and explain why you disagree with them, then I would be happy to answer you.

        I also suggest that you read the paper I gave you (Scafetta, 2010). There is a lot we don’t know about the climate, and a lot of evidence that it’s dominant drivers are of celestial or solar origin.

      • Adam

        So, do you want to have a proper debate?

        If so, then I’ll start first.

      • Adam

        For all of the past climate changes that occurred, history hasn’t really provided any sensitivity to co2.

        Throughout the past 800,000 years we can see that co2 lagged all of the temperature changes by about 800 years.
        http://joannenova.com.au/global-warming/ice-core-graph/

        All of the ice core data shows that temperature drives co2, rather than the other way round. David, real world data does not support the argument that changes in co2 are the primary driver of climate change.

        Now, I understand that there is the theory that co2 amplified temperature change, but I think that argument is pretty weak, and is not supported by any reliable data.

      • Adam

        David, you’re right. I didn’t look at that statement closely.
        But is still doesn’t really change what I was saying.

        I do accept that it was humans that put the CFC’s up there, but most of the reaction between CFC’s and ozone are dominated by cosmic rays. I won’t go into it again, since I explained it before.

        Also, the 100 years estimate is just a simple guess.
        The ozone layer is indeed getting smaller, and is now the smallest it’s been for five years
        http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40484078/ns/world_news-world_environment/

        Once again, I’ll remind you of what I said before about thinking what we thought we knew and then new empirical findings come along and change what we thought.

        Read this (and yes, I do know that it clearly acknowledges CFC’s in ozone loss, which I have also not denied in my comments.)

        http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070924/full/449382a.html

        But like I said before, I’m not really interested in the ozone debate, and haven’t really looked at it.

      • Adam, your comments have hit the trash heap because you are trying to start an argument about climate change and I’m not interested. I have said that right from the start and repeated it over and over again.

        On the ozone hole, you showed an amazing amount of this:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

        And this:

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

        And definitely this:

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

        I have no reason to believe that you are any different on climate change.

      • Adam

        David, all I did was ask you just one simple question. I acknowledge that you don’t want to debate and that’s fine, but I’d just like you to answer my point.

        <>

        [Adam. I don’t want to debate. It’s a sign of madness to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. I have trashed your comment four times now. Stop.]

      • Adam

        David you seem to have deleted the most important part of my comment (the actual question). You’ve only posted the first couple of sentences.

        Look David, you’re a scientist. As every scientist knows, if the available evidence doesn’t support that theory, then that theory is most likely to be false.
        Agreed?

        Then surely you can see that, if there is absolutely no correlation whatsoever with carbon dioxide and temperature, then there is no reason to believe that it was human emissions of co2 that caused the warming over the past 100 years.

        Now, you don’t have to answer my point if you don’t want to. But, as I explained to Mothincarnate in the comments he censored, if you are truly honest and care about debate, then you will let other people see for themselves.

        All I’m asking is that you post my comments, let everyone see the points I made,and simply let people decide for themselves.

        That’s fair, isn’t it David?

        • Adam, this is my blog’s comments, for chatting and commenting about the topic at hand. I have told you I didn’t want to debate on climate change. Multiple times. I told you to stop copying and pasting your comment and posting it over and over. You think it’s unfair? Too bad. If people care enough about what you say, they can find your comments elsewhere on the web.

      • Adam

        David Robertson, no true scientist would censor debate.

        He would answer scientific points regarding a theory, or simply admit that the science is not certain if he can’t.

        Letting people see my comment would have been the most honest thing to do.

        David, I can’t force you to post my comment, so I won’t post it anymore. But I will make it clear, that censoring debate is most certainly not part of the scientific method, and that therefore what you are doing is not supporting science.

        So really I think to you AGW is more than just a simple scientific theory.

        Am I right?

        • No. You’re wrong. You don’t understand basic atmospheric chemistry (as evidenced by our ozone debate) and you don’t understand basic principles of science (ie citing papers that support, rather than contradict, your position). Claiming censorship to show that I’m wrong is a fallacy; it’s just that I don’t want my blog’s comments to become a wasteland of copied and pasted climate change denial arguments.

      • Adam

        “I don’t want my blog’s comments to become a wasteland of copied and pasted climate change denial arguments.”

        First of all David, I do not deny that climate changes, so your statement “climate change denial” is pretty inaccurate.

        Secondly, like I said, absolutely no correlation whatsoever between co2 and temperature, is surely a credible reason to question the theory?
        http://theinconvenientskeptic.com/2010/10/taylor-dome-ice-core-analysis/

        [Oh Adam, you’re funny. So much certainty in your statements. So scientific. I love it. And that air of injured innocence.]

      • Adam

        David, don’t patronise me.

      • Adam

        Actually, I see my previous comment is still in moderation. It didn’t come up, when I just visited this post now, but it has come up after I posted the other comment.

        S0, I’m sorry if I made some premature judgements; although I’m still going to see if that comment is posted.

        [Yep! I deleted them. I’ve told you why, several times. Cheerio!]

      • Adam

        In that case, I retract my apology, and stand by everything I said before.

  3. Adam

    Mattycoze Lord Monckton is not the only climate skeptic in the world you know?
    I don’t know why, but warmists always attack Monckton first and never anyone else.

    Mattycoze, I know that Monckton is not a scientist. I don’t think anyone has ever claimed he is. I respect him as someone who can successfully communicate skeptic arguments. Simple as that.

    There are indeed numerous scientists skeptical of AGW.

    The following is a list of 700
    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=83947f5d-d84a-4a84-ad5d-6e2d71db52d9

  4. I guess that there are more uncertainties than certainties and that is what keeps us moving. We tend to believe certain things with almost no proof, a politician is corrupt? that´s easy to believe. The cure of cancer? that requires proof, strong one.

  5. Trina

    Hi Matt,

    interesting post. Would you be available to answer a few questions for a profile piece in a student newspaper? I have left my email so if you could contact me asap that would be great. Look forward to hearing from you.

  6. Mamu

    I AM still your mother and you had better keep the Skype happening!

  7. Emmy

    Great post. I keep having to point out to deniers that uncertainty related to global warming, is not the same thing as saying the entire theory is a scam (if they even understand the difference between a theory and a hypothesis). Constant references to cloud vapors…..well, how does that fit in relative to the rest of the data? I see these snippets of “evidence” with no reference to a single study. And they say, where is the healthy skepticism? It’s all right there in the studies. Deniers, the first time they read a study, are surprised to find words like “uncertainty”. Well, most studies only yield a bit of relevant data, but when the puzzle is complete, it forms consensus. That is also misunderstood. Thanks for the great analogy.

    • Cheers Emmy. Yes, uncertainty can be used both ways. If someone admits to uncertainty, it’s suddenly “Oh, no, well, if you’re not certain, then why should we act?”. Yet, if they claim certainty, it’s “Well you can’t know for sure, so you must be lying!”

      Oh well! The more people who are aware of that tactic, the less effective it will be when it’s dragged out into the open.

  8. Clay Alan

    Dave
    I am going to jump out and attack your opinion because I don’t fully understand the process and what the hell is going on in regards to the old CC (climate change that is).
    I think I would like to get my material from those I trust (mainly the Daily Enquire) and any other newspaper or media outlets that support my viewpoint.
    Providing I can’t see it happening then why should I care?
    Ha Dave- consider yourself attacked!

  9. Clay Alan

    A good question David. A VERY good Question

  10. Pingback: Getting loads of hits on your Wordpress blog | David Robertson

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