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Opinion: Is 'climate science' really science?

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naveen24
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re: Opinion: Is 'climate science' really science?
naveen24   2/17/2010 8:54:37 AM
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Good observation! But Predection of climate involves a huge number of variables some of them we even do not know. I think as Climate Research will progress Scientist will be able to predict about climate more confidently. Even a small change in some remote location can cause huge changes in other part. Yes it is true that controlled experiments are very few in this area but it will be developed with time. And I think saying Climate Science is not science is wrong.

bill1230
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re: Opinion: Is 'climate science' really science?
bill1230   2/17/2010 5:14:52 PM
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there seems to be a disingenuous jump from scientific theory to science, the process. in the article, the author only gives his definition of scientific theory, but doesn't say what he think is science. from the reasoning given, it seems the argument presented is that theories on the causes of global warming does not meet the author's definition of a scientific theory. that is quite different from condemning the entire scientific study of climate change as non science.

george.leopold
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re: Opinion: Is 'climate science' really science?
george.leopold   2/17/2010 6:11:54 PM
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(A reader sent the following letter to the editor responding to Bill Schweber's opinion piece):

I cannot believe you allowed this person to write an anti-climate change article.

I'm an EE and feel I have more science in my little pinky than him... so blatently political!!

First off, he pretends to have real scientific backing by bringing up astrophysics and predict-test-observe cycle: "Due to the constraints of having only one Earth and our inability to run controlled experiments on it, climate researchers can't do that. .....This capability is not available for long-term climate research. Therefore, it isn't science."

Let's be clear: astrophysicists can only observe the stars, not run experiments!! Climate scientists "observe" hundreds of thousands of core samples which cover many years of our planets history. They use highly sophistcated scientific instruments. They can run "models" that try to emulate the change they "observe" and correlate with those samples.

'Climate researchers point to "up" data as confirming their theory, while dismissing "down" data as mere noise or localized fluctuations within the bigger picture. In other words, all dataâ??whether up or down--maps to the desired conclusion. '

This author is clearly expressing a biased opinion... I **seriously** doubt he reads all the journals and published papers and checks references. Most climate data is **openly** available for public scrutiny. The recent "scandal" on tv involves one group's analysis of this public data that other groups have also analyzed.

There is so much real science behind the study of climate and you allowed this ignoramus to publish his fallacious views.... I have lost all respect for this magazine.... You basically allowed him to disparage a large group of dedicated researchers who spend many years studying statistical math and science in college.

My opinion: this writer should not be allowed to post an editorial ever again and should keep their ultra-conservative blather out of this once-respected magazine.
-Ian

JMWilliams
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re: Opinion: Is 'climate science' really science?
JMWilliams   2/17/2010 6:17:16 PM
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Good points here, although theory per se isn't science unless associated with objective data, somehow. Theory and mathematics go together, but neither can be science without at least a prediction of what data would reveal. The greatest offense against the meaning of "science" is "political science", which should be described more as a combination of history and geography with descriptions of current events. Just because statistics is used to analyze current events doesn't make it science. When a political science theory fails to hold, the result usually is excuses, not better or disproven theory. Hence, lack of objectivity.

BicycleBill
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re: Opinion: Is 'climate science' really science?
BicycleBill   2/17/2010 6:36:08 PM
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Thanks for your comments. Wishing something is so doesn't make it so. I'd still like to see the controlled, repeatable, rigorous science-qualified experiments used to validate the theories and models. And using observed data to create mels, then using the same or related data sets to validate the models, doesn't count.--Bill

anon9303122
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re: Opinion: Is 'climate science' really science?
anon9303122   2/17/2010 7:30:09 PM
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Ian is a great example of shouting down the messenger. Thank you for posting his tirade. As long as you don't fully subscribe to his line of thought you are a heretic, a flat-earther, an unlearned person, etc. First off, Ian can't read. Bill makes no assertions to whether man-caused climate change is real or not. His point is to challenge it's scientific basis. As he also challenges the fields of political science, social science, and so on. Take a valium dude.

leveles
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re: Opinion: Is 'climate science' really science?
leveles   2/17/2010 8:43:42 PM
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Emulators and simulators. In every other endeavour new such software packages have to pass a battery of tests I call "hindcasts", before released on the unsuspecting users and public. "Hindcasts" consist of a collection hard-won real data cases, successes and failures, all known and verified data. The new software has to pass, and predict all the cases correctly. If you want a well publicised case, the then new ADA compiler program spent as much on and with the verification package, as with the actual compiler. It is called complex, unwieldy, etc. But it works, like a clockwork, with high confidence. Another one was the IBM work on the space shuttle computers. Again, at least as much was invested in testing and verification, as in other aspects of the program. The results speak for themselves. Hard-won data is available for climate simulators in the Antarctic and Greenland ice drillings for the last million years with quite good details thanks to a worldwide effort. Lesser quality data is avaliable going back to the beginning of the dinosaurs. And obviously, the last 100 (or four) years are increasingly precisely mapped. Plenty of hard data scenarios in the 3 mentioned epochs to develop packages to run the models against. Was it done? Nah. When, finally the sceptics in the field pressed hard, the various models were compared with each others. Done! That is what passes for quality control in academia. Last few years it was reported by astronomy, that all planets and moons warm and cool in the same fashion, with hard data. Strongly indicating Sun as the source. The groupthink grown up around the models rejected it, as it did not fit with the models. By the way, the ADA and IBM examples were developed by industry with hard consequences for success or failure. Academia in general is famous for the lack of it. If we consider it being the home of (frequently chaotic by its nature) basic inquiries, then the development of models affecting our futures is fundamentally irresponsible in that environment. That you do not think, I pick only on this, let's take look at SPICE. It came out of the Berkeley college environment. No sytematic development, not really handling nonlinearities right, general problems with convergence to the right result, flat contradiction of real, known data are abound. Used, for the lack of anything better. Just consider the source, and pass your judgement.

pfiekowsky
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re: Opinion: Is 'climate science' really science?
pfiekowsky   2/17/2010 9:53:43 PM
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Pure politics, this piece is. Is social science a science? Is computer science a science? We technologists (and world citizens) don't professionally care what you or your opinionator call it. Is the world warming up? Are the ice caps melting? Everyone agrees "yes" as far as I can tell. Can we reduce global warming through our actions? Everyone seems to agree "Yes". As technologists and citizens, let's do it! There are politicos who don't want to take action. There always have been and always will be. It doesn't matter what their reason is. There were politicos who argued (and still argue) for slavery, etc. Let them argue argue word meanings and God's intentions while WE slow down climate change for our children. Friends--let's accelerate our actions (which have been pretty awesome already in the last year or two). And let the arguers argue on their own time. Editors--continue keeping us informed, not opinionated.

PetrosT
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re: Opinion: Is 'climate science' really science?
PetrosT   2/17/2010 9:56:12 PM
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Thank you for posting Mr. Schweber's article. This subject sorely needs open discussion, and I'm glad to see it.

Ian233
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re: Opinion: Is 'climate science' really science?
Ian233   2/17/2010 10:24:50 PM
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Wow... all these anti-climate folks out of the woodwork... BuyerDude is clearly the worst. First, what evidence was put forth that climate science is not a science? You say a reasonable person should be able to question the validity, but not a *single* argument was made to support your belief!! A reoccuring argument above is the lack of observable data. There are thousands of core samples, each with valid observable data. Just because it's historical doesn't make it any less valid. Since Einstein was cited, look at them as little laboratory experiments run backwards in time instead of forward... it's all relative, right? Anyways, I seriously doubt any of you have even an idea of how much data has been gathered and analyzed over the years and it's all public! I haven't seen a nuclear explosion... I don't see x-rays... I don't see quantum entanglement... yet I believe in them... I am, however, aware of the massive amount of "observed data" and statistical analysis studying the climate. One commenter said statistics don't count... can you imagine a world where scientists didn't use statistics? What do you think quantum mechanics is all about? Remember "Intelligent Design"? The "arguments" I've seen here are so similar it's scary. A group of ignorant people complaining about science not being science, saying their "true" motive is to debate when in fact they put forth no real counterpoints and disguise their real intentions. My beef, though, is with the editors for allowing one editor publish his dribble in an electrical engineer mag... I really don't expect to convince the others here and know that no amount of scientific reasoning will ever convince them. -Ian

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