April 12, 2007


Is Climatology a Science? (Robert Tracinski, 4/12/07, Real Clear Politics)

I don't mean to ask whether the climate is being studied using scientific methods and theories. Here's what I mean: is climatology a complete, developed, mature science? Is it the kind of science that is capable of making accurate, reliable predictions? Is the field of climatology, in its current state, capable of producing "settled science" on any broad conclusion?

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when the New York Times reported that some scientists were balking at Gore's exaggerations of the scientific certainty of climatology, with one of them commenting that "Hardly a week goes by without a new research paper that questions part or even some basics of climate change theory." If the basics of climatology are still up for debate, how can we rely on the kind of complex predictions -- not only about continued global warming, but about its effect on the weather of specific regions -- that are still being pumped out by the United Nations?

Writing in Newsweek recently, MIT Professor of Meteorology Richard Lindzen detailed the uncertainties and the enormous gaps in the evidence for claims about human-caused global warming and concluded, "Climate modelers assume the cause must be greenhouse-gas emissions because they have no other explanation. This is a poor substitute for evidence."

Those who claim the authority of science for speculations about human-caused, catastrophic global warming are abusing the reputation earned by established, mature sciences. They are attempting to steal that reputation on behalf of a premature hypothesis put forward by practitioners of a science still in its infancy.

There are many historical examples of the difference between a science in its infancy and a mature science. Before Darwin and Mendel, biology lacked an overarching theory to explain the relationship of species to one another and to extinct species from earlier eras.

ERNST MAYR: WHAT EVOLUTION IS (Introduction by Jared Diamond, 10.31.01, The Edge)
EDGE: To what extent has the study of evolutionary biology been the study of ideas about evolutionary biology? Is evolution the evolution of ideas, or is it a fact?

ERNST MAYR: That's a very good question. Because of the historically entrenched resistance to the thought of evolution, documented by modern-day creationism, evolutionists have been forced into defending evolution and trying to prove that it is a fact and not a theory. Certainly the explanation of evolution and the search for its underlying ideas has been somewhat neglected, and my new book, the title of which is What Evolution Is, is precisely attempting to rectify that situation. It attempts to explain evolution. As I say in the first section of the book, I don't need to prove it again, evolution is so clearly a fact that you need to be committed to something like a belief in the supernatural if you are at all in disagreement with evolution. It is a fact and we don't need to prove it anymore. Nonetheless we must explain why it happened and how it happens.

One of the surprising things that I discovered in my work on the philosophy of biology is that when it comes to the physical sciences, any new theory is based on a law, on a natural law. Yet as several leading philosophers have stated, and I agree with them, there are no laws in biology like those of physics. Biologists often use the word law, but for something to be a law, it has to have no exceptions. A law must be beyond space and time, and therefore it cannot be specific. Every general truth in biology though is specific. Biological "laws" are restricted to certain parts of the living world, or certain localized situations, and they are restricted in time. So we can say that their are no laws in biology, except in functional biology which, as I claim, is much closer to the physical sciences, than the historical science of evolution.

In fact, Climatology is identical to Darwinism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 12, 2007 11:57 AM

Does astrology fit in there somewhere?

Posted by: Genecis at April 12, 2007 12:17 PM

And don't be so intolerant of others religions.

Posted by: Genecis at April 12, 2007 12:20 PM

How about the related field of alchemy? Climatology is the science of turning false predictions into money through research grants.

Posted by: obc at April 12, 2007 12:28 PM

The problem is that we've let Science (and a perversion of what science always meant) assume the strange position of Ultimate Authority. A whole bunch of observations (facts) are made, an explanatory hypothesis is put forward (and achieves Consensus, a strange concept whose relevance I don't recall ever learning about anywhere in my scientific training), and voila!, if it's politically handy the Hypothesis becomes Fact. And since it's now a Fact, any competing explanations are obviously wrong. Heretical, even.

Posted by: b at April 12, 2007 12:31 PM

"Science is by definition an unfinished debate, in that no hypothesis can ever be definitively proven, but only strengthened progressively with the addition of supportive and thoroughly tested and challenged evidence. The scientific method itself is rooted in skepticism. It's what makes the entire process of inquiry possible, how it can as a discipline exist apart from mere conjecture. So when someone instructs you that the debate's over, what they mean is that the door is closed, so stop jiggling the knobs lest the roof cave in on their preconceived worldview. Any scientist that tells you to stop doubting is no scientist at all. Just ask Galileo...."

Posted by: Buck Sargent at "American Citizen Soldier"

Posted by: Genecis at April 12, 2007 3:29 PM

"Biologists often use the word law, but for something to be a law, it has to have no exceptions. A law must be beyond space and time,"

All that Darwinism and we're back to Plato.

Posted by: mcf at April 13, 2007 12:21 AM