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Flat Earth Award

A group of kids from the "Green House Network" - the kind of children who really believe that "The Day After Tomorrow" is reality - organizes the "Flat Earth Award" to appreciate the most thoughtful and most effective "global warming denier". The 2005 nominees are

  • Michael Crichton
  • Rush Limbaugh
  • Fred Singer
All of them are very strong and very famous candidates. Nevertheless, oil industry together with most of us who work on the right-wing conspiracy have decided that Fred Singer, an atmospheric physicist and a successful PhD student of John Wheeler, should be the winner because he has spent a lot of time with climate science and he may have a lot of things to say to these kids. Once we decided, he immediately became the frontrunner and the likely winner of the award on Friday.

And yes, he has interesting things to say - I've already read his acceptance speech. ;-)

What makes me a bit happier is that the life of these weird green kids is not such a smooth sailing. If you look at their website
you can see how the voters answer the bizarre question
  • "Why do you care about the Climate Crisis?"
It is not hard to imagine what sort of answers the kids expect. However, the last few hundreds of answers were a bit different. Well, the reactions almost seem to prove a consensus. ;-) For example, the last ten comments or so look like this:

» A voter for Singer writes: Global Warming is Bovine excrement of titanic proportions. If you had a brain in your head it would rattle. Besides it is ALL your fault so go face the corner of the room until, hold your braeath until you turn blue or mommy tells you that she loves you as much as your brother.

» A voter for Limbaugh writes: I don't. I should be one of the nominees for the Flat Earth Award. It would be an honor. You idiots should just go live in a cave and eat grub worms. Ever wonder why they call it Greenland? Or hear of the "mini" Ice-Age? Ever wonder why we had droughts before cars and other hydrocarbons and man's "evil" influence? You people are morons. I'm going to B&N and buy "State of Fear", listen to Rush in the car, and read more on JunkScience when I get back.

» A voter for Singer writes: Fred is tops! remember Scientific Concensus also gave us: The Universe revolves around the Earth; Comets and other astronomical phenomena are prophetic signs from the gods; The Earth is 4000 years old; Thunder storms and other meteorological phenomena are caused by angry gods and "witches".No doubt these beliefs were due to 'Global Warming' too!! §;¬)

» A voter for Singer writes: I don't. There is none.

» A voter for Singer writes: I hope someday I'll be good enough to win this award, but untill then Singer is the man.

» A voter for Singer writes: Fred Singer has done more any other single individual to advance rationality and sensibility on climate issues.

» A voter for Singer writes: Singer is the MAN standing up for truth while under constant attack from psudo eco scientists!

» A voter for Singer writes: because it is not a crisis

» A voter for Singer writes: To persuade nonscientists that 'scientific consensus' is an oxymoron.

» A voter for Singer writes: Because Fred Singer might be able to say something interesting to these crazy teenagers.

» A voter for Singer writes: He's your guy!!

» A voter for Singer writes: There was once a SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS that the world was flat too. It based on the viewpoint of THE SCIENTISTS and it SCIENTIFICALLY validated what people wanted to believe. Yes the earth IS getting warmer. Is man the cause? Is there consensus on THIS? Have we determined what ended the ice-ages yet?

» A voter for Crichton writes: I'm confused! As an committed enviro-whacko, should I be proclaiming a coming ice age or global warming?

» A voter for Singer writes: Oooh! "peer reviewed scientists." Pretty scary - eh kids?!

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snail feedback (14) :

reader Anonymous said...

Hey Lubos,

Pick on someone your own size! Plus how about someone from your "side" - the Heritage Foundation symposium on Intelligent Design may be a start.

reader Luboš Motl said...

10 years ago or so, I've spent enough time arguing with various intelligent designers and so on. Believe me. However, they don't seem to affect my life today at all, so I don't feel any urgency to discuss it.

Without these things, I think that the Heritage Foundation is a respectable and impressive think tank.

reader Anonymous said...

Why bother arguing at all? You argue too much and who cares about creationists?

reader Anonymous said...

Hey, how are your Mormon relatives?

reader Luboš Motl said...

Thanks, they're doing well. (And they've probably forgotten everything about the Mormon belief already.)

Yes, the previous comment about arguing with the creationists is more or less what I wanted to say, too.

reader Thales of Miletus said...

AS I stated earlier , as one forms their perspective views, you learn to see this element in the "bend" one would have to offer about such topics.

Catching this perspective earlier and one I hope I am right close too, would be that this idealization of the Kyoto protocal is still a touchy subject with you?

The calculation, in in your links column is self evidient?:)

Now of course I look for such motivations that would "far out weight" the inherent fears of financial gain/loss, to see where this calculation might materialize.

Germany's current adoption of standard set versus rewards instilled from energy production in windmill fabrication and uitlization? Selling energy back to the grid. Is this a bad thing?

How has emissions standards been reduced if any? I would say we woud have to remove this," State of Fear ,"from the American ideology, to encourage them to sign on for what would happen in the energy production regards, for concerns of its future?

That is not a bad thing is it?

reader Anonymous said...

Why do you care about global warming so much? It's not your field of expertise. You're not involved in any business, much less a polluter or logger, or anything of that sort. You're not an environmentalist.

What do you have to gain from pollution and greenhouse gases?

reader Luboš Motl said...

I am interested not only in the things that bring some profit to me.

Too many people successfully claim that the global warming theory is one of the most important issues in the present world, and this fact itself makes it important.

It's also a dangerous example for the way where science and society could go.

reader Quantoken said...

Anonymous said to Lubos:
"Why do you care about global warming so much? It's not your field of expertise. You're not involved in any business, much less a polluter or logger, or anything of that sort. You're not an environmentalist."

Oh, you know, there are always PLENTY of sufficiently confused crackpots within the professionals or "experts" in their speciality fields. Environmental science is a good example, although it's definitely not alone.

There is an old saying that while as it seems so confusing and puzzling and lost to those standing in the middle of the field, the same thing seems so crystal clear to those sidewatchers who stands on the side of the field.

It's good Lubos is not an expert in the environmental science field, but smart enough to be a legitimate sidewatcher who can see the real picture. Those expert spend a lot of time doing measurements, construct all kinds of computer models, and all that. The more they pursuit in the direction they believe in, they more they are lost and confused. Know why? They have been brain washed to accept the global warming to start with before thay can be accepted as an expert in the field. Unfortunately same is true for many other fields in science as well.

There is a psychological effect that people tend to discover evidences that seem to support what they believe in, and ignore evidences to the contrary, no matter that their beliefs are.

People who believe there are ghosts, they keep seeing all kinds of ghosts in every corner that happen to be dark. People who believe in God constantly hears a supernatural voice in their ear telling them what to do and what not to do, and see God's miracles performed on everything they experience in their daily life. Same is true for people who believe in Allah or Budha. And people who believe there is cosmetic string? A bird shit on their telescope and dent the images slightly, and Bingo they see a cosmic string and published it!

The point is whatever you believe in, you always tend to try to dig a hole in that direction you believe in and craw into that hole and dig more. Eventually you will bury yourself in that hole you dig yourself in.

The only smart way of avoiding this, is always try to be open minded and be ready to listen to all different possibilities, no matter how stretched the idea could be. Always listen to both sides of the voice and try to decide on your own what is right and what is wrong.

That's what I do. I have read a dozen different versions of the bible at least a couple of times over, I have read different versions of the Al'Quran as well, as collections of Buddhism publications where ever I can find them. That helps me to keep my eyes open and never fall into any single religion.


reader Anonymous said...

It's amusing to read the many misconceptions someone can have when writing out of their "field of expertise". I think we will all be better off if quantoken sticks to computers and Lubos to string theory...

reader Anonymous said...

And we all need less advice from the previous anonymous poster! ;-)

reader Anonymous said...

So, I checked out the Flat Earth Award url ... and found this:

Of the 928 papers published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003 and listed in the ISI database with the keywords " global climate change": (a) 75% either explicitly or implicitly accepted the consensus view of anthropogenic climate change; (b) 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, (c) none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.

What's up?

reader Luboš Motl said...

If someone uses the word "climate change", it pretty much says what kind of author it is. Of course that more serious authors would probably not use this keyword.

There are lots of papers that contradict the "wisdom" of the global warming. Let me just enumerate a couple of authors.

Von Storch et al. (Science) is no "skeptic", but he showed for example that the natural variations have been underestimated by a large factor, at least two. There are many papers in Geophysical Research Letters - for example two papers by Singer et al. in July 2004; a paper by McIntyre and McKitrick showing that the hockey stick paper was wrong; papers showing that the climatic models contradict observations; papers showing that the heat island effect is significant for the temperature measurements.

The authors that keep on publishing stuff that does not agree with the "consensus" include Lindzen, Christy, Idso, Balling, Soon, Baliunas, and many others.

Well, I can also define a search criterion that will eliminate all unwanted papers. But this is not science: this is how the woman who has no idea about how science works tries to determine the truth using the methods of lit clit.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Let me repost a rather more reasonable description of that weird Oreskes' paper:

Essay Claiming 'Scientific Consensus' for Global Warming is Ridiculed
By Marc Morano Senior Staff Writer, Dec 7, 2004

( - A Science Magazine essay claiming there is a "scientific consensus" about human-caused "global warming" was ridiculed Monday by a British scientist, who compared such a "consensus" to the near-unanimous elections that existed in the old Soviet Union.

Benny Peiser, a United Kingdom social anthropologist, called the Dec. 3 essay, "The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change," a "disturbing" study.

"A one-hundred-percent record of 'scientific consensus' on anthropogenic climate change would be a sensational finding indeed. In fact, such a total result would be even more remarkable than any 'consensus' ever achieved in Soviet-style elections," Peiser noted sarcastically.

The Science Magazine essay analyzed 928 abstracts containing the keyword "climate change," all published in peer-reviewed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003. The essay found that not a single one of the studies showed climate change to be naturally occurring.

The essay was written by University of California professor Naomi Oreskes, a member of the University's Department of History and Science Studies Program. According to Oreskes, "None of these (928) papers argued that [current climate change is natural]."

"This analysis shows that scientists publishing in the peer-reviewed literature agree with [United Nations] IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the National Academy of Sciences, and the public statements of their professional societies," Oreskes wrote.

"Politicians, economists, journalists, and others may have the impression of confusion, disagreement, or discord among climate scientists, but that impression is incorrect," she added.

But Peiser, a senior lecturer in Social Anthropology & Sport Sociology at Liverpool John Moores University and the editor of CCNet (Cambridge Conference Network) webzine, labeled Oreskes' essay a "disturbing article.

"Whatever happened to the countless research papers published in the last ten years in peer-reviewed journals that show that temperatures were generally higher during the Medieval Warm Period than today, that solar variability is most likely to be the key driver of any significant climate change and that the methods used in climate modeling are highly questionable?" Peiser asked.

"So how did the results published in Science achieve a 100 percent level of conformity? Regrettably, the article does not include any reference to the [unpublished?] study itself, let alone the methodology on which the research was based. This makes it difficult to check how Oreskes arrived at the truly miraculous results," he added.

Iain Murray, a senior fellow in International Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, wrote a letter to the editor of Science Magazine questioning why the study was even published.

"I was surprised to see Science publish an article crowing over the existence of a scientific consensus on global warming and then advancing the non-sequitur that political action is therefore needed. Neither is a point worthy of consideration in an objective, scientific journal," Murray wrote in his letter to the editor, dated Dec. 6.

"...the message of the article -- that politicians must act on the basis of the science -- is clearly a political point rather than a scientific one," Murray continued.


Science Essay on 'Consensus' is Faulted
Letter by Prof David Douglass

To: Dr. Naomi Oreskes
Dept of History and the Program in Science Studies
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla Ca 92093

I wish to make several comments in regard to your essay.

Scientific consensus. Truth in science is never found by consensus. The following is from a piece that I published in TCS last July on this subject.

Scientific knowledge comes from observations and not from consensus.
Indeed, scientific truth by consensus has had a uniformly bad history. Michael Crichton speaks for me and many scientists in a recent Essay on this subject. In the Michelin Lecture at the California Institute of Technology he eloquently describes "consensus science" as a pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. It is a way to avoid debate by claiming that a matter is already settled. He states that the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Crichton cites a few historic examples of scientific truth being suppressed by "consensus": Galileo Galilei and the Copernican system; Alexander Gordon and puerperal fever; Joseph Goldberger and pellagra disease; and Alfred Wegener and continental drift. Then there are also the cases of scientific consensus in favor of things that were not true: Carl Sagan and "nuclear winter"; Paul Ehrlich and mass starvation of millions due to the "population explosion"; the National Academy of Science abetting the "ice age scare" of the 60's and 70's.

Let me also quote Margaret Thatcher who has a degree in science.

To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies. So it is something in which no one believes and to which no one objects. -----Margaret Thatcher

Now let me address some errors of fact in your Essay.

1. "IPCC states... that the consensus of scientific opinion is...". The consensus here is among the small controlling group [many are not even scientists] who write the executive summaries. The contributing scientists were not allowed to review or comment on this summary.

2. "... all major scientific bodies...have issued statements... . others agree. the American Geophysical Union... have issued statements ..."

This consensus in the various organizations is achieved again by a small number of very active people who believe in the Global Warming Hypothesis. I am a member of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and have written a letter that was submitted to WSJ about how it happened in the AGU.

----begin letter-----
Truth by Assertion

Antonio Regalado reported (WSJ Dec 17) on a recent Statement, Human Impacts on Climate Change, issued by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) council. Regalado's piece, Panel Shifts Stance on Global Warming, is an accurate report of the AGU Statement. However, the Statement does not necessarily represent the views of the 41,000 members of the AGU. The AGU council consists of 28 people, most of whom are not climate scientist, who speak only for themselves. This Statement was prepared by them in secret during a large meeting of the AGU in San Francisco but announced the next week at a press conference in Washington with no prior opportunity for the other 40, 972 members of AGU to see and comment on it.

The essence of the Statement can be characterized by the sentence: "... carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will cause global surface climate to be warmer." The rest of the Statement asserts that this is true but this is only a Hypothesis that must be tested against observations. The Statement goes on to say that the climate system is difficult to predict, yet computer models predict: mid-continents will warm; warming will be greater at higher latitudes; some polar ice will melt; oceans will warm; sea levels will rise; and hydrological cycle will change. Quite a list of catastrophes. These predictions are offered as evidence to support the Hypothesis. However, this is not evidence. These are only a manifestation of and an extension of the Hypothesis. A consensus of the 41,000 AGU membership implied or even honestly obtained is also not evidence.

What is the evidence that the Hypothesis is correct? The Statement only offers this: "... no single threshold level of green house gases ... at which the beginning of dangerous level anthropogenic interference with the climate system can be defined. Some impacts have already occurred..." What are these impacts? They offer neither examples of impacts nor any other evidence to support the Hypothesis.

Have the models been successful in predicting anything? They, of course, predict global warming. This is not surprising given the expressed belief of some of the model builders in the global warming Hypothesis and the many parameters in the model that need to be determined. However, the models also predict unambiguously that the atmosphere is warming faster than the surface of the earth; but all the available observational data unambiguously shows the opposite!

Truth in science is always determined from observational facts. One finds the truth by making a hypothesis and comparing observations with the hypothesis. It is absolutely essential that one should be neutral and not fall in love with the hypothesis. If the facts are contrary to any predictions then the hypothesis is wrong no matter how appealing. Truth by Assertion is not science

---end of letter---

Lastly your statement: "The 928 papers... .Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position". This statement is more than remarkable. It is not true. There are hundreds of published papers in disagreement. I cite only one:

Altitude Dependence of Atmospheric Temperature Trends: Climate Models vs Observation. by David H. Douglass, Benjamin D. Pearson and S. Fred Singer. This was published last July in Geophysics Research Letters, the most prestigious journal in geophysics. This paper is devastating because it shows that all of the models disagree even in sign with the observations in regard to greenhouse gas warming. The last sentence of our abstract states. "This disparity indicates that the three models examined here fail to account for the effects of greenhouse forcings."

To this date there has been no attempt to refute our conclusions.

David Douglass
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Rochester

SEPP Comment: We have just learned (from Willie Soon) that Oreskes admits she may have used the wrong keyword in her search. This might account for her strange result - which will probably be quoted widely even if she withdraws it.

6. Scientific Consensus That Global Warming Is Unimportant

Global warming: the debate heats up: Human influence on climate change not widely accepted
The Edmonton Journal, 9 Dec 2004

Re: "Global warming skeptics are full of hot air: Scientific community agrees that emissions are changing the climate," by D.W. Schindler Letters, Dec. 7).

From the day, now some years ago, that Schindler and 56 of his biological colleagues wrote a massive appeal to governments to act on the catastrophe that was human-caused global warming, he has been promoting the doomsday effects, based on the fictions of the Kyoto Protocol.
Schindler is not a climatologist, nor an earth or atmospheric scientist. He is an ecologist. He should be qualified to comment on the effects, but not on the causes of any global warming.
The surveys he quotes, such as that by Naomi Oreskes, are highly subjective. If she has not found any peer-reviewed articles that challenge the "Kyoto science," I suggest she has either been selective or she has not looked beyond certain scientific periodicals.
As Canada's first PhD in climatology, Dr. Timothy Ball, quips: "The Kyoto Protocol is a political solution to a non-existing problem without scientific justification."
Albert F. Jacobs, Calgary

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