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Modern Astrology in NY Times: Justin Gillis says Eclipses show all Scientists are always right about everything

Verily. Eclipses do weird things to people.

Justin Gillis, writer for The New York Times used the recent eclipse to sell something I’d call Sciencemagic. Essentially, if some Scientists™ can calculate orbital mechanics to a fine art, it follows, ipso nonfacto, that all people who use the same job title are also always right.

Should You Trust Climate Science? Maybe the Eclipse Is a Clue

Thanks to the work of scientists, people will know exactly what time to expect the eclipse. In less entertaining but more important ways, we respond to scientific predictions all the time, even though we have no independent capacity to verify the calculations. We tend to trust scientists.

If Scientists™ say that solar panels will stop malaria, then buy some! Save lives in Ghana. (What are you waiting for?)

The implications stretch far. Clearly, we can chuck out the whole research thing (labs, who needs em?) Why test predictions, if Scientists™ are 100% accurate? We’ve been wasting money. We don’t need more large hadron colliders, we just need to survey more particle physicists.

This idea that job titles have a kind of truth-telling power is not much different to astrology where truth comes from birthdates.

Preacher-Gillis struggles with cause and effect:

So what predictions has climate science made, and have they come true?

The earliest, made by a Swede named Svante Arrhenius in 1897, was simply that the Earth would heat up in response to emissions. That has been proved: The global average temperature has risen more than 1 degree Celsius, or almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit, a substantial change for a whole planet.

It’s the most tritely obvious thing that any cause of warming would cause… warming. Was it CO2, or solar spectral changes, solar magnetic effects, or solar particle flows? Gillis seems to think that warming itself is evidence that CO2 is the problem. It’s magical short-term thinking. But turning points, dammit, tell another story. If CO2 was the major driver there wouldn’t be major turning points that we can’t explain. For half the decades since Arrhenius made that prediction, global temperatures have been not-behaving as Arrhenius predicted – CO2 was on the rise, and global temperatures weren’t.

Hadley Meteorology Centre, UK, Global Temperatures, Graph, BBC, Phil Jones.

Hadley Global Temperature Graph with Phil Jones trends annotated on top.

Gillis provides a cherry picked random-hits list (Not only are these signs of any warming but if you make forty predictions — some will work out, it’s quite difficult to fail on all forty):

The scientists told us that the Arctic would warm especially fast. They told us to expect heavier rainstorms. They told us heat waves would soar. They told us that the oceans would rise. All of those things have come to pass.

Considering this most basic test of a scientific theory, the test of prediction, climate science has established its validity.

The globe has two poles, and the Arctic warmed  but the Antarctic did the opposite.  On a yes-no question, a 50% success rate is not “success” but random luck.

As evidence, Gillis links to model predictions of “heatwaves” that haven’t even happened yet. For “heavier rain” he links to a story from 2014 that he wrote that is almost cut n paste identical to the current story — same cause and effect problem. Hello Justin — what kind of warming will not cause water to evaporate from the ocean leading to more rain? (What goes up must come down). If the solar dynamo was warming Earth, we’d see these exact same events. The only difference is that solar theories explain more of the turning points, and far more of the history.

Then there is the old warming-troposphere-cooling-stratosphere fingerprint which shows that CO2 is increasing (which we already knew from measurements) but not that CO2 causes global warming:

By the 1960s and ’70s, climate scientists were making more detailed predictions. They said that as the surface of the Earth warmed, the temperature in the highest reaches of the atmosphere would fall. That is exactly what happened.

Applying exact tests, inexactly:

If the science were brand new, that might make sense, but climate scientists have been making predictions since the end of the 19th century. This is the acid test of any scientific theory: Does it make predictions that ultimately come true?

 What kind of “acid test” is not an acid test? The Gillis kind:

Considering this most basic test of a scientific theory, the test of prediction, climate science has established its validity.

That does not mean it is perfect, nor that every single prediction is correct. While climate scientists have forecast the long-term rise of global temperatures pretty accurately, they have not been as good — yet — about predicting the short-term jitters.

In other fields, we do not demand absolute certainty from our scientists, because that is an impossible standard.

The acid test used to separate gold from base metals, it gave a definitive answer, but in Gillis-world copper is gold is nickel. Who cares? This is sloppy language — so sloppy it’s meaningless. If a salesman spoke like this we’d call it deceptive marketing.

There are no Gods of Science

Lots of eminent and otherwise sensible scientists still say things that are wrong:

In 1872, Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, wrote that “Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.

Gillis would protest that I miss the point. Individual scientists can be wrong, but this is a C.o.n.s.e.n.s.u.s. as if group thinking crosses some magical line into truth. Despite all the evidence that experts get things wrong and for decades, Gillis helps to propagate those mistakes by being an apologist for B-grade thinking, asking no hard questions, doing no investigation and pandering to unscientific excuses.

In any case, not only is consensus irrelevant, but peel off the PR and there isn’t one. Less than half of climate scientists agree with the IPCC “95%” certainty, and there are  thousands of skeptical scientists including half of all meteorologists (but what would they know?). The papers claiming there is a 97% consensus are so shot full of holes they should be retracted. Inasmuch as anyone has asked them, the world’s scientists largely don’t agree with the subcommittee of the IPCC. What kind of science uses the good name of all the other branches of science, but then can’t convince most of the world’s hard scientists? (I’m talking about geologists, engineers, physicists, coders, but not psychologists and experts in dead mammals, who like softy-“journalist-scientists” are gullible push-overs.)

Too much failure is never enough?

We can’t predict the climate on a local, regional, or continental scale, 98% of Climate Models cannot explain why global warming has slowed, models get the core assumptions wrong – the hot spot is missing, (that’s the only fingerprint they said mattered, right up until they couldn’t find it). They can’t explain the pause, the cause or the long term historic climate movements either. Measurements of satellites, cloud cover changes, 3,000 ocean bouys, 6,000 boreholes, a thousand tide gauges, and 28 million weather balloons looking at temperature or humidity can’t find the warming that the models predict. In the oceans, the warming isn’t statistically significant, sea-levels started rising too early, aren’t rising fast enough, aren’t accelerating, nor are warming anywhere near as much as they predicted.

Scientists are behaving badly: hiding data, declines, adjustments and methods. Gillis provides the smokescreen.

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