Forum OpenACS Q&A: Re: nominated for Webby-Awards

Posted by Patrick Giagnocavo on
Post after post has been made, and still Don avoids the question:  are the climate models accurate?

The FACT is that they are not.  This fact is not something that depends on my scientific or software coding prowess, Don. It is simply an immutable fact.

Unless John Christy has "recanted" since his May 13, 2003 written testimony before the US Congress, he is in full agreement with me concerning the accuracy of climate models.

The Google-cache link I have is:

For some reason I am not able to load the original site (and thus am using the cached copy).

Don, do you have a link later than May 13, 2003 from John Christy that refutes this?

Posted by Talli Somekh on
Patrick, my two posts were written with your question directly in mind. Allow me to, once again, quote from the article, "An Instance of the Fingerpost" which is a review of The Ozone Layer: A Philosophy of Science Perspective by Maureen Christie:

A consensus among scientists can form because the evidence strongly supports the promise of a theory. Those who think that their vested interests may be adversely affected by policies based on this evidence can always invoke the standard of finished science to argue for delay. And all the while the policy question is best viewed as a balance of risks against gains, given currently available information.

To paraphrase:

You're right, we don't have exact models. But given all that we know the best argument is that ozone depletion and global warming are real, and unless we do something soon we'll all be living on houseboats and wearing SPF300.

But to diverge from the environmental question for a moment, let's test your reasoning quickly. Do you think that AIDS is caused by HIV?

The evidence that links the two, AFAIK, is entirely based on extremely persuasive correlations, not on a perfect (computation or otherwise) understanding of the human body and the immune system. (Stan, Vinod and all you other MDs please pipe up if I'm off base.)

Perhaps a better question, though, is to step even further back and ask whether you believe that AIDS (however it is caused) is sexually transmittable?

That is, let's assume that we haven't identified HIV yet. *However*, we do know that the correlation between unprotected sex with those who have AIDS and eventually contracting the disease oneself (regardless of hetero- or homo- sexual relations) is very high.

What do you think are the proper precautions? There are three scenariios from my perspective:

  1. Don't have sex
  2. Have protected sex
  3. Have sex without protection

Remember, we know nothing other than evidence that unprotected sex comes with a high potential for contracting AIDS. The question I have of you is do you think that even though we don't know where AIDS comes from, we have enough evidence that one shouldn't have protected sex?

Your response may be that equating the two questions is not appropriate because the potential quantitative loss in wearing a condom is exponentially (and nothing like) less than the potential quantitative loss if something like Kyoto were implemented to curb global warming (which we don't understand).

My response, though, is that the potential quantitative loss of *not* making drastic changes in anthropogenic waste production is exponentially greater than any quantitative (economic, for instance) loss we may suffer in the short run. And, further, there's the evidence to prove it! And the evidence is good enough to convince 104 out of 178 living Nobel laurettes in the sciences!

In science, there is a whole bunch of shit that we don't understand. Gravity is one. We have a fairly effective model for most cases, but we're still working on something that is true across all of its applications. But we have enough data and enough evidence that shows we are right more often than we are wrong. Further, we have a good idea where to continue looking to come up with the unified theory.

This is how science is performed, and how the evidenciary arguments for global warming have convinced the vast majority of scientists in the world.

So, in summary, please don't bring up computational model argument anymore. It really isn't a new or interesting point. It just betrays a misunderstanding of scientific process.