Science! Cold Hard Facts

As always, just cruising the Google News science feed:

A. Scientists reconcile growth in Antarctic sea ice with global warming models. Almost want to point out the direction in which the reconciliation is going, and leave it at that: facts are being reconciled to models. That about says it all. But also:

Out of “262 realizations of 20th century climate, 10 of those got this observed slowdown of global warming happening at about the same time as in the observations, at the same magnitude,” Dr. Meehl told The Washington Post. “And for those 10, there was the negative phase of the IPO, and it also has the signature of Antarctic sea ice.”

Translation: 252 climate models were wrong, and 10 were right-ish. A whopping 3.8% of the models got it right: that global warming would slow down (in the sense of stop net of El Nino effects) and that the Antarctic ice might grow (“has the signature of Antarctic sea ice” – thanks, doc, for making that clear). Note the hedging: “at about the same time as in the observations”. Inquiring minds would like to know about how close we’re talking here, because we’ve just admitted that 96.2% of the climate models were wrong, so just how right are the remaining 10?

The big part is what is missing: “So, yea, we’re sorry about those 252 wrong climate models, which we are hauling out with the garbage even as we speak, because that’s what real scientists do when their pet theories are proven wrong by cold, hard facts. We will now only discuss the 10 more or less right models, which, sure, represent about a blind dart-thrower’s percentage of hitting the target, but at least weren’t as wrong as the other 252.”

Something like that. But you will never see reported any hint that the models used to gin up the current panic are wrong in any way, except, as here, accidentally. That’s how a non-climate expert such as me can see clearly that what’s going on here is not science. Science happens when there is honor and glory in *disproving* theories, and no shame in retracting a theory once it has been proven wrong *by comparison with reality*.

In real science, facts don’t get reconciled to theory. In real science, 99 theories out of 100 are wrong, and the faster you weed out the wrong ones, the better. Among global warming enthusiasts, models trump data, and no theory (hockey stick, anyone?) is ever admitted to be wrong.

B. Another good reason to sail the seas of Titan—life may exist there. Sure might. Might not, too. Astrobiologist think there might be. Tough to argue with fact-free speculation.

I love that there is an field of study called astrobiology. Other fields at least have something to study, but academic ambitions cannot be checked by something so mundane and petty as the total lack of any materials upon which to wield the scholar’s tools.

Reminder: all the evidence for life of any kind from off planet earth, all the observations, artifacts, remains, signatures, add up to a big fat zero. Nada. Nothing. At. All.

And it’s not that we haven’t tried. But this, to some people, is simply the wrong answer. So, instead, we build theories and write papers and speculate in the press, because many of us have this ‘seems a terrible waste of space’ attitude that is nothing more than quasi-religious wishful thinking. I’d be thrilled if we found any real evidence of extraterrestrial life.  But we haven’t. Cool your jets.

Oh, and go check out Titan – totally cool with that. And check it out for signs of life. But don’t imagine there’s any more reason to be hopeful than to despair – because we don’t know, and have no evidence.  Sometimes, life is like that.

Wow, you’d have to be really, really smart to get the funding needed to build something like this…

C. Tetraquarks discovered, which is cool and all, but I mention this mostly because they were first predicted by physicists Murray Gell-Mann, he of the Gell-Mann amnesia effect, back in 1964. It’s like once you get a car, you notice all the other cars of the same model that were invisible before. Gell-Mann: everywhere you turn!

D. The surprising, adorable thing that goats and puppies have in common. Isn’t science wonderful? And I thought getting funding for CERN was impressive. Also, Your cat might not really care about you, study suggests. Really? No! My cat *loves* me! Sort of. If I do exactly as he wants, when he wants it. But look:

See? What loveable little predators! We are lucky to have them in our lives, and even more lucky that they’re too small to kill and eat us.


Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

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