A scientific model that predicts everything predicts nothing

If you’re not following Steve Goddard on Twitter or reading his stuff at Real Science, you should be. He posts a veritable flood of evidence pointing to global warming / human-caused climate change as manufactured nonsense. Yesterday, he Tweeted this.

It made me laugh, because it’s an effective lampooning of the most significant scientific problem with climate science — specifically, the part of climate science that claims human activity is changing the climate — which is its lack of predictive power.

If you read the news, it seems like climate change advocates are blaming everything on climate change. It’s warmer this summer than it was last year — climate change! It’s colder than we expected this spring — climate change! We’re getting record levels of snow — climate change! We’re getting the exact same number of hurricanes this season as we did a hundred years ago — climate change!

This is why climate change activists changed the terminology from “global warming” to “climate change.” Did you notice that bit of sleight of hand? Nobody except for those stuck in 20th century terminology refers to global warming anymore. This is because the average person was, not unreasonably, starting to wonder how global warming could account for every sort of climate phenomenon, including record cold temperatures. But everyone knows the climate has been changing since forever, so it doesn’t sound as nonsensical to attribute everything to climate change instead of global warming.

The problem with this is that any scientific model that predicts everything predicts nothing. The power of a scientific model is its ability to accurately and specifically predict what will happen given a set of inputs. Can you imagine how useless Newton’s universal law of gravity would be if it gave you every possible answer to the question of what the force of gravity is between two bodies of specific mass and at a specific separation? But that’s not much different than the current state of climate science.

As a scientist, I’ve been asked several times what it would take for me to believe that human-caused climate change is real. The answer is simple: evidence. The most powerful evidence would be predictive models that work. I would like to see models that accurately predict temperature trends, hurricane activity, rise in sea levels, and anything else that is currently attributable to climate change for ten years, based on a set of anticipated levels of “human activity.” Climate scientists would create their models, make their predictions based on how much CO2 human activity is pumping into the atmosphere, and then we all see how accurately these predictions match the data for the next ten years.

Now, in order for me to be sure that these models and the data are accurately reflecting reality, I would need to see these results replicated by different groups who are not affiliated with each other. I would also need scientific transparency. I would need the climate models and the raw, unprocessed data as well as the processed data to be made freely available to anyone who requests them. And I would need a detailed explanation of how the data are processed for analysis.

I would feel significantly more confident in these models and data if climate change advocates would stop claiming “the science is settled,” emphasizing the bogus consensus, and demonizing people who are skeptical of climate change. No more labeling skeptics as “deniers,” and there must be a halt to egregious nonsense like threats from government officials to prosecute climate change skeptics.

If the models and data check out, and the models correctly anticipate temperature trends, hurricane activity, rise in sea levels, and anything else that is currently attributable to climate change for at least ten years, and climate change proponents stop behaving in a hysterical and unethical way, then I’ll believe human-caused climate change is real.

You can generalize all this and apply to any field of science to determine if it’s legitimate science:

  • Do the models have predictive power?
  • Do the models of different groups of scientists produce similar results?
  • Are the models made available to others by request?
  • Are the raw and processed data made available to others by request?
  • Are the models and data deemed legitimate by others not affiliated with the scientists who promote them?
  • Do proponents respond to reasonable skepticism with answers to objections instead of scorn, derision, and hysteria?

If the answer to ALL of these questions is YES, then you have a legitimate science.

My problem with climate science — the reason I am skeptical that human activity is changing the earth’s climate — is that, currently, the answer is NO to all of these questions.

Theory is not fact

Whenever someone even hints at a criticism of Darwinism or “climate change,” the True Believers come out of the woodwork to try to shame the heretics. You can always tell who they are, because they say things like “climate change is a fact” or “evolution is a fact the same way gravity is a fact.” The implication here is, you wouldn’t be so dumb as to deny the reality of gravity, would you, so why are you denying the reality of evolution or climate change?

But here the True Believer shows his blind faith, for with his inability to distinguish between fact and theory he exposes himself as someone whose understanding of how science works doesn’t even rise to the level of middle school. Another way to describe this sort of blind faith is science fetishism. As I told the anklebiting commenter to Surak’s article, we do not permit people to fetishize science here.

A fact is something we observe; for example, that objects in free fall accelerate toward the Earth’s center at a rate of 9.8 m/s2 or that the Moon orbits the Earth with an average orbital speed of 3700 km/s. There is no doubt of the fact that objects fall toward each other, because we see it and measure it all the time; this is what the science fetishist means when he says “gravity is a fact.” But what he apparently doesn’t realize is that gravity is a theory. Theories are not facts, they are models that attempt to make sense of the facts. And, as it turns out, there are several theories of gravity that attempt to make sense of what we know: Newton’s universal law of gravitation, Einstein’s general theory of relativity, modified Newtonian dynamics, and so on. And, as we all know from the various scientific revolutions that have taken place in the last several hundred years, no theory is invulnerable to being overturned by new and better evidence or new ways of thinking.

When a science fetishist leaps into a conversation to tell you that evolution is a fact, the first thing you should tell him is that you are fully aware of the fact that different lifeforms have emerged over the course of the Earth’s natural history and that lifeforms have been observed to change over relatively short periods of time. And then ask him which theory explains it — microevolution, macroevolution, speciation, microbial evolution, or chemical evolution — and why. At that point you will expose what Hugh Ross describes as the evolution shell game when fetishists argue about evolution, wherein he will either substitute the facts of fossils and other evidence for theory or well-established forms of evolution for those that are not at all supported.

As for climate change as “fact,” I can only surmise that our True Believer is not aware that scientists — including the famous hockey stick guy, himself — are now finally admitting that there has been no significant warming in the last two decades. It’s only a matter of time before the whole edifice of human-caused “climate change” collapses.

UPDATE: im2l844 asks in the comments:

Do you have a concise response to the “consensus” argument that is invariably trotted out by the AGW faithful?

Yes, there are two responses: who cares? and what consensus?

Who cares if there’s a consensus? Reality isn’t decided by a vote. There was a time when 97% of scientists thought the Earth was the center of the universe, so that tells you the value of consensus.

The reality is, there isn’t a consensus about global warming or climate change or whatever the True Believer wants to call it. The 97% statistic that is invariably trotted out is based on a laughably small number of scientists polled — just 77 — who met the criteria for a 2-minute survey. What the True Believer either doesn’t know or refuses to acknowledge is that 31,000 scientists from an array of climate-related fields have signed a petition stating they believe “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”

Science as true worship, Part III

In Part I of this series, Sarah talked about the Christian influence on the philosophy of science and the increasing corruption of science the further it moves from its Christian roots. In Part II, she discussed how to avoid this corruption. In Part III, Surak delves into where science has dangerously strayed from the pursuit of truth.

Modern science arose in only one time and place: Western Europe, during its peak as the realm of Christendom. Science as an institution is the result of cultures based on Christian beliefs, values, and faith. No other belief system or culture that has ever existed has proven itself capable of originating or sustaining science. With the collapse of Christian culture in Western Europe and North America, one of the most urgent questions mankind faces is whether or not there is any hope that some emerging belief system or culture other than Christianity can effectively support the continued scientific search for knowledge.

The evidence says no. The only likely candidate for the next cultural champion of science is the secular humanist culture that has replaced Christian culture in Western Europe and Canada, and is currently locked in a winner-take-all struggle with Christian culture in the United States. Secular humanists constantly congratulate themselves on how scientifically superior they are to Christians, but the evidence leaves no doubt that humanists have done nothing but corrupt science in the fields of study they’ve dominated for the last century and a half. Let’s examine them.

Biology

It was inevitable that Darwin would get lots of things wrong. He was a scientific pioneer who came up with his theory before the first major work was done on dinosaur fossils, so he couldn’t have known about the profound effects natural catastrophes had on the development of life on earth. He wrote his books before the discovery of the Burgess Shale fossils that led to the discovery of the Cambrian Explosion of animal life about 540 million years ago. All of the fossil evidence uncovered since the publication of Origin of Species has destroyed Darwin’s primary conjecture of a gradual evolution of life on earth, as the modern biologist Niles Eldredge made very clear to his fellow biologists in the early 1970s.

Darwin also formulated his theory long before all of the great advances in the field of genetics. The most recent discoveries in the new field of Evolutionary Development (Evo Devo), which combines the study of embryology with the study of evolution, has utterly destroyed the Neo-Darwinian notion of the ‘tree of life.’

None of this has been publicly admitted by biologists, because biology is no longer a faithful servant of science. Biology’s first loyalty is to the militantly missionary faith of atheistic secular humanism. Thomas Huxley, Darwin’s original arch defender, initiated the use of evolution theory to attack the beliefs and influence of Christianity even though he did not believe in two key parts of Darwinism: gradualism and natural selection. Huxley rightly pointed out to his friend and colleague that there was no evidence for these necessary elements of early evolutionary theory. Darwin countered that people should be patient because as yet undiscovered fossil evidence was sure to confirm his hypotheses. The fossil and genetic evidence has done just the opposite, but humanists dogmatically oppose any challenge to Darwin’s beliefs because he has been anointed as one of the three great prophets of atheistic humanism.

There is a simple way to test this assertion. Find a professional biologist and try to get him to say the following, “Darwin was wrong about most things.” This statement is undeniably true. Darwin was a true scientist worthy of honor, and a case can be made that Darwin’s contributions in the field of biology are equal to those of Copernicus in astrophysics. But, physicists have no problem giving Copernicus credit for his immense contribution to modern science while fully accepting and publicly acknowledging that he was wrong about a lot of things. Biologists who cannot or will not make a similar public statement about Darwin’s limitations because of their opposition to Christianity are not true scientists, they are apologists for atheism who are corrupting science.

Behavioral Science

The effects of secular humanism are even worse than the corruption of an existing science such as biology. Secular humanism has proven to be an absolute barrier to new science. The other two prophets of atheistic humanism, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, are truly disturbing examples of the deadening effects of humanism on science.

Marx’s so-called ‘scientific socialism’ was dominant for generations in the social sciences. The application of truly scientific beliefs based on Christianity led to genuine science, the Industrial Revolutions, and the rise of governments based on the observance of human rights. Efforts to reform societies according to Marx’s atheistic ‘science’ led to the horrendous death, destruction, and inhumanity of the communist movement. It is truly appalling that after such complete theoretical and practical failure, Marxism is still influential on America’s college campuses.

Freud, the other great prophet of atheism, dominated the study of individual behavior from the beginning of the 20th century. Freud was a charlatan who couldn’t even cure himself or offer any credible evidence for his beliefs. He gained his immense power over behavioral science by simply telling humanists what they wanted to hear — that Christianity is bad. His influence and that of many other atheist intellectuals has prevented psychology from becoming a true science. Again, if you doubt this, ask yourself, “Where are the great accomplishments of the behavioral sciences?”

Around the time Marx and Darwin were becoming influential, true scientists in the field of medicine were developing the germ theory of disease. Through the work of genuine scientists, such as the devoutly Christian Louis Pasteur, medical science has saved and improved countless millions of lives through advances in sterilization and immunology. If psychology, sociology, economics, and the other behavioral disciplines had become true sciences, there would be similar scientific accomplishments and benefits to humankind by now. There is a reason that emotional disorders like chronic depression cannot be prevented or cured, and that reason is, psychology is not yet a true science. It will never be a true science as long as the study of human behavior is dominated by humanists who consistently bend science in their pursuit of social influence and political power.

Humanists will never renounce the three greatest prophets of atheism, because Darwinism, Marxism, and Freudianism form the dogmatic foundation of the secular anti-Christian belief system. Darwin is used to argue that God is not necessary. Freud gave a thin scientific veneer to the atheist lie that Christian values constitute unhealthy restrictions on human desires. Marx justified an all-out assault on Christian culture by falsely characterizing it as an intolerable oppression of the masses. The behavioral disciplines will only become true sciences if secular humanism is overthrown and the barriers to truth that humanism has built over the last fifteen decades are torn down.

Climate Change

The corrupting influence of humanism on science is getting worse. The failed science of climate change demonstrates that not only does humanism stand in the way of science, it is diverting humankind in the direction of collective insanity.

The first clue that something was terribly wrong in the study of ‘global warming’ was the assertion that the science is settled. No true scientist would ever utter or condone such a blatantly anti-scientific statement. Science is never settled! It will never be settled unless people someday achieve a god-like understanding of the world in which they exist. The greatest scientists in the study of physics understand this and would recoil in disgust at any suggestion that the great questions in the fields of astrophysics or quantum mechanics are settled. Any person who makes such a statement or agrees with it is a dangerous enemy of science.

Climate change alarmists constantly disregard the basic law of science, which is to go where the evidence takes you no matter what. They violate the rule, because humanist political goals are more important to them than the search for truth, which Christians hold as sacred. Climate change activists posing as scientists have ignored the evidence about global temperatures from satellites that shows no global warming for almost two decades, they’ve ignored the evidence about global temperatures from weather balloons that confirms the satellite evidence, and they have been caught shamelessly manipulating the ground station evidence so that it conforms to their failed climate models.

Christian beliefs, values, and faith lifted the majority of mankind out of ignorance, squalor, and tyranny through genuine science, the Industrial Revolutions, and the pursuit of human rights. At the beginning of the 20th century about three-quarters of the world’s population lived in abject poverty. At the end of the century only about one-quarter of humanity remained in poverty. The world economy fueled by fossil sources of energy and fired by the Christian scientific spirit could put an end to poverty by the middle of the 21st century if current economic trends are allowed to continue.

The stark reality that mankind should be focused on is the estimated 18 million people around the world who still die as a result of poverty each year. If humanists succeed in stopping economic growth by restricting the use of fossil fuels, over a half billion people could die needlessly of poverty by 2050. Climate alarmists have expressed no concern about these hundreds of millions of victims of poverty. Instead the anti-scientists of the global warming crusade obsess about saving polar bears and preventing a modest rise in sea levels, which even if it occurred would pose only a relatively mild inconvenience to nations free of poverty. It is truly insane to believe that science has achieved the ability to control the climate of the world. It is nowhere near that goal. It is absolutely insane to stop the economic progress that is benefitting billions of people in order to prevent mythical hazards. We can only hope that the evidence that refutes climate change theory becomes so overwhelming that it will be impossible to ignore.

Christians have allowed themselves to become alienated from the science generated by Christian beliefs and faith. There is no past or foreseeable alternative to Christian culture as the champion of science. The humanist corruption of, resistance to, and abuse of science must be ended. Christians have to take back science and turn it back into the search for God’s truth.

Physicists must defend the integrity of science

** Written by “Surak” **

German climate scientist, Lennart Bengtsson, is speaking out about the overwhelming pressure he experienced after joining a group skeptical of climate change:

News that Lennart Bengtsson, the respected former director of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, had joined the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), sent shockwaves through the climate research community. GWPF is most notable for its skepticism about climate change and its efforts to undermine the position of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The tremors his decision sent through the scientific community shocked Bengtsson.

The scientist said colleagues placed so much pressure on him after joining GWPF that he withdrew from the group out of fear for his own health. Bengtsson added that his treatment had been reminiscent of the persecution of suspected Communists in the United States during the era of McCarthyism in the 1950s.

It is time for physicists around the world to wake up to what is happening to science. They cannot sit back and do nothing as their colleagues in climate science are being harassed, having their jobs threatened, and being denied the opportunity to publish their works for political reasons. Physicists have to feel and express outrage whenever politicians make nakedly self-serving pronouncements that the scientific debate on climate change is over. Physicists know better than anyone else that’s not how science works. How often during the centuries from Aristarchus to Copernicus to Lemaître have physicists witnessed the lone individual prevail in the search for truth over the mistakes and objections of the multitude?

The threat to science is not confined to the study of climate change. Consider the field of biology, which, since the time of Thomas Huxley, has been dominated by the flawed theory of Darwin. What true scientist could accept the near deification of another scientist or the effective canonization of his works? Physicists certainly venerate the pioneers of astronomy and physics, but they do so even as they attempt to fulfill their scientific responsibility to do everything they can to prove those great scientists wrong. Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton did much for humankind, but physicists don’t try to shield them from criticism. They fully accept and honestly proclaim that these great luminaries were often wrong. By contrast, try getting any biologist to publicly admit the truth that Darwin was seriously wrong about evolution. They don’t dare.

And then there are the behavioral and social sciences—the benighted drudges of left-wing political ideology for so many generations. Take a few moments to investigate the latest pronouncements from the professional associations that represent the mainstream of psychology, anthropology, sociology and all the other behavioral disciplines; you will quickly understand the anti-science they truly represent. Psychologist, William James, was correct when he wrote about the study of human behavior over one hundred years ago, “This is no science … ,” but he was tragically wrong when he continued, “… it is only the hope of a science.”

There is no hope of science in these fields, because in them there is none of the overriding desire for or genuine commitment to truth that can defeat the human failings that physics took two millennia to overcome. That is why the social and behavioral studies have failed to accomplish the paradigm shift, the empirical conversion, and the discovery of natural laws which are the necessary steps to true science. Instead of Copernicus, Galileo, Newton and the light of truth, these fields have give humankind nothing more than scientific abominations such as Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud.

Physicists must understand the terrible and dangerous imbalance in human knowledge their lack of leadership is allowing to occur. Physics and the other physical sciences have given humankind an incredible power over the forces of nature. We can harness nuclear energy, create a multitude of new chemicals, manipulate the building blocks of matter, reshape the surface of the Earth, and change the atmosphere. But, because we do not understand or have any power over the inner forces that cause human behavior, we are like little children handling loaded weapons.

It took 1800 years before Copernicus realized the truth of what Aristarchus said about the structure of our solar system and took the first step toward true science. We can’t wait another 1800 years to develop a true science of human behavior. We won’t last that long. All sciences have to be put back on the path to truth. That’s why physicists must find the courage and determination to act as the keepers of the scientific flame and light the way for the others.

Physicists must shine a scientific light on all of the pretenses, the dishonesty, and the abuses that pass for science in other disciplines. Physicists must turn their love of science into a rage against all efforts to bend science away from the search for truth. Physicists must react with intellectual fury against all attempts to subvert science into the service of greed (yes, I’m talking about you, Al Gore) and the lust for political power (yes, I’m talking about you, IPCC).

Physics is the father and mother of all science. Physicists must act like the loving but determined parents of a hoard of unruly children who, instead of working hard to become real scientists, spend their time playing at and pretending to be scientists in the fields of biology, climate change, and human behavior. Physicists must guide and instruct those who are willing to learn from the magnificent successes of the physical sciences. They must relentlessly call out, scold, and discipline those who aren’t. If physicists lack the foresight or are simply too wimpy to take charge and lead the way, science will fail. Only God can help humanity if that happens, because we won’t be able to help ourselves.