Tom Gilson

Who’s Afraid Of Big Bad Science?

Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum ask in today’s LA Times,

Who in the United States will read Dawkins’ new book (or ones like it) and have any sort of epiphany, or change his or her mind?

Surely not those who need it most: America’s anti-evolutionists. These religious adherents often view science itself as an assault on their faith and doggedly refuse to accept evolution because they fear it so utterly denies God that it will lead them, and their children, straight into a world of moral depravity and meaninglessness.

[Link: Must science declare a holy war on religion? – Los Angeles Times]

Some religious adherents may not have thought it through, but for those who understand the issues, “science itself” is most certainly no “assault on their faith.” It is science plus metaphysical tagalongs like philosophical materialism that oppose Christian belief. No, correct that: it is not science at all, but just the metaphysical tagalongs that do that. Science and philosophical materialism belong together like, oh, like coffee and penguins. I suppose I could enjoy some dark roast while watching Happy Feet. But the two are hardly tied together by some essential knot.

Science in its proper philosophical perspective reveals more of God’s wisdom and his ways. Knowing God allows us to use science ethically. Historically, science arose out of a culture imbued with a Christian worldview. Christianity and philosophical materialism could never get along together, since they are contradictory, but Christianity and science have nothing to fear from each other.

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150 thoughts on “Who’s Afraid Of Big Bad Science?

  1. Whether science “assaults” an individual’s faith depends largely on the claims his faith makes. If it claims that the universe is only 6 (or 10 or 15) thousand years old then science will, indeed, stand in stark contrast to his faith.

    The more unfalsifiable the claims of an individual’s faith are, though, the less science can directly contradict it.

  2. It is somewhat telling, I think, that religion seems forced to do what psychic scam artists do in order to avoid conflict with science: take care to make only unfalsifiable claims.

  3. You jumped the Grand Canyon between comment 1 and comment 2, David. And there may have been a shark swimming in the Colorado River below you at the time.

    Of course you will now respond by calling on me to show what falsifiable claims are made by “religion.” Since I have other things to do today, and since you’re the one who made a claim here, not me, I think it far more appropriate to call on you to support the claim you’ve made in number 2, than to wait for you to call on me to disprove it.

    It’s your claim. You support it. For the sake of staying on a relevant topic, please demonstrate your claim as it applies to historic orthodox Christianity. Nobody reading here probably cares how it relates to other religions.

  4. It’s sufficiently obvious that most claims made by most religions are either unfalsifiable or were unfalsifiable when they were originally make to not need me to support it.

    It’s impossible to falsify the claim that Jesus rose from the dead, or was born of a virgin, or that Joseph Smith translated golden tablets containing the Book of Mormon which were then conveniently (in regard to unfalsifiability) taken up to heaven by an angel afterward, or that heaven exists, or that reincarnation occurs.

    One could go on and on with the unfalsifiable claims religions have made.

    Of course, occasionally a religion will make a falsifiable claim (such as that the world will end on such and such specific date). And sometimes claims that were safely unfalsifiable in the past become falsifiable as science advances (young earth creationism, as an obvious example).

    And when this happens those religions tend to get soundly spanked by science.

    In fact, I can’t think of a single falsifiable claim a religion has made which involved claims inconsistent with naturalism that has stood up to scrutiny. Can you?

    As I noted, its a rather telling fact.

  5. Jesus’ resurrection was most certainly falsifiable when the reports were first made. So were his miracles. So was the wisdom of his teaching.

    The reports we have are sufficiently contemporary with the events—some of them dateable to within 5 to 8 years of the events—that your claim does not hold up.


  6. Jesus’ resurrection was most certainly falsifiable when the reports were first made. So were his miracles.

    It does us little good that Lazarus’ next door neighbor could have falsified the claim (for himself, at least) that Lazarus rose from the dead after three days in the tomb.

    That’s the nice thing about religion (for those selling it): one time miracles are safely unfalsifiable in a very short time. Provided no one invents a time machine. And Star Trek aside, that seems rather unlikely.


    The reports we have are sufficiently contemporary with the events—some of them dateable to within 5 to 8 years of the events—that your claim does not hold up.

    Again, be specific. What reports are dateable to within 5 to 8 years of the events and how do you know?

    And are the reports themselves either falsifiable or verifiable? Something rather important if you’re hanging the credibility of belief in these events on those reports.

  7. Speaking of “Big Bad Science” — here is an interesting little satire on the co-option of “science” for poltical ends.

    Accurate Thirty-Seven Year Old Scientific Prediction Imperils Science Czar John Holdren’s Meteoric Rise

    The eco-science community was rocked last week by the revelation of a scientific paper published in 1972 by presidential science advisor John Holdren. The paper, published in Eco-Science Proceedings, correctly predicted atmospheric CO2 levels for the month of March 1972.

    It’s been called “The Veracity Incident,” and it has scandalized the eco-science community. There have been several calls for Holdren’s resignation, and organizations such as the Ecological Defense Fund and the Sierra Team have demanded an explanation from the embattled Presidential Science Advisor.

    The outrage was summed up by Eugene Birkenstock, […]

    For decades, the eco-science community has scrupulously avoided veracity in its scientific predictions. Our forbearers have set the standards in the 1960’s and 70’s: Rachel Carson, Paul and Anne Ehrlich, Nigel Calder, George Wald, and John Holdren. Scientific accuracy on the part of an investigator calls into question the investigator’s commitment to eco-science. We have standards.

    […]

    The eco-scientist sat back in his chair, and gazed out the window.

    “Our guys have been saying this stuff for half a century: ‘the battle to feed humanity was over in 1969’…’65 million Americans will starve by 1989’… ‘England won’t exist by the year 2000’…’a billion people could die from the weather by 2020’… don’t you see? It’s all bullshit — intentional bullshit. It’s the Cloward-Piven strategy, applied to science. Our goal isn’t to make science better; the goal is to destroy science, to overwhelm it with pure crap, and rebuild it eco-friendly-and-data-free. It’s like what the Marxists did: make some totally bizarre assertions that everyone knows is crap, then accuse the few people with the guts to openly question it of being reactionaries or deniers or something, and then do everything you can to destroy them. Eventually people learn: don’t question eco-science, and especially don’t imply that data matters. We can’t be proven wrong. We want science to dictate, not investigate.”

    Full essay
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/08/accurate_thirtyseven_year_old.html#more

  8. Perhaps a post on christianity and global climate change would be in order. I’ve always been puzzled why conservative christians so frequently reject the idea that we’re causing major, potentially catastrophic change to the environment. It would seem to fit right in with the belief (in which I myself was raised) that we are, most likely, living in the end times and that humanity is fundamentally sinful.

  9. News flash, sometimes some scientists are wrong. This means we must reject any scientific conclusion, no matter how strong the scientific consensus, and no matter how weak the consensus for those older predictions, because either science is either absolutely true or it’s infallible (just as the Bible is infallible). We can’t depend on it, like we can the Bible. Maybe that’s why Christians seem to be the ones that reject global warming.

  10. I like the irony here.
    Science infers that humans are causing (rather than some other cause) global warming without resorting to empirical testing or a way to falsify the theory – and that is a scientific inference.
    Meanwhile the ID theorist infers, without empirical testing or a way to falsify the theory, that intelligence caused life’s beginnings – and that is pseudo-science.

  11. Hi davidellis,
    Although I doubt Tom wants this thread going off the deep end here I’ll just state that I’m not sure of your premise.
    I would think the issue has more to do with the conservative/liberal divide than it does the narrower conservative Christian/liberal Christian divide.
    Here is a divide between conservative and liberal Christians in April of 2009:

    More specifically, 93 percent of pastors who consider their political ideology liberal or very liberal say global warming is real and man-made compared to 53 percent of those who identify themselves as conservative or very conservative politically.

    http://www.christianpost.com/article/20090417/protestant-pastors-evenly-split-on-global-warming-beliefs/index.html

    But Republicans as a group evince greater doubt than those conservative pastors:

    Here’s what Gallup found: The number of Americans who say the media have exaggerated global warming jumped to a record 41 percent in 2009, up from 35 percent a year ago. The most marked increase came among political independents, whose ranks of doubters swelled from 33 percent to 44 percent. Republican doubters grew from 59 percent to 66 percent, while Democratic skeptics stayed at around 20 percent.

    What’s more, fewer Americans believe the effects of global warming have started to occur: 53 percent see signs of a hotter planet, down from 61 percent in 2008. Global warming placed last among eight environmental concerns Gallup asked respondents to rank, with water pollution landing the top spot.

    As you see, both independents and Republicans are increasing in doubt, for some reason, while Democrats are not.
    The liberal pastors are more convinced of gw than are the Democrats in general as well.
    http://www.lvrj.com/news/52828402.html

    I think your throwing Christianity into the mix unnecessarily confuses the issue and tends to overplay the role of religion as opposed to political allegiance.

    Doubt seems quite widespread, and I don’t see religion mentioned as a factor.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124597505076157449.html
    http://cobourgskeptic.com/a-summary-of-the-case-against-anthropogenic-warming/there-is-no-consensus-on-global-warming

    ===

    Hi Paul,
    Nice use of over-the-top sarcasm.
    Once again the gander samples the goose-sauce.

  12. Hello David

    Perhaps a post on christianity and global climate change would be in order.

    Why? I can assure you that my belief in Christ has nothing to do with my skepticism about AGW. I remember reading a book “The Coming Ice Age” or “The New Ice Age” – something like that, written in the ’70s and predicting dramatic global cooling. A Google on “the coming ice age” or “the new ice age” brings you several endoftheworldasweknowit by freezing in the dark scenarios.

    I also remember learning about the “Medieval Warm Period” which occurred in the 10th -12th C AD and at which time people lived and farmed in Greenland and they grew grapes in England, The MWP was followed by the “Little Ice Age”, a period of dramatic cooling which is attributed with, among other things, a severe loss of arable land and corresponding loss of food production.

    The result was a lot of malnourished people moving into the cities and catching plague. According to some estimates the population of France did not return to its 12th C. level until the 19th C. BTW – any calculation of archaic temperatures is pure guesswork because thermometers were not invented until the cusp of the 17th C. (1593) and were not particularly accurate before the middle of the 20th C.

    I’ve always been puzzled why conservative christians so frequently reject the idea that we’re causing major, potentially catastrophic change to the environment.

    Ummmhh… because we’re smart? Because we actually investigate the claims which are being made and the evidence which is used to support those claims? Or maybe its’ the fact that we retain both short term and long term memory and can recall all the failed predictions of Al Gore et al. No… that can’t be it… I hadn’t heard Mr. Gore’s predictions when I rejected AGW.

    It would seem to fit right in with the belief (in which I myself was raised) that we are, most likely, living in the end times and that humanity is fundamentally sinful.

    Well, nobody ever said that everyone who calls themselves “Christian” is orthodox. Quite the contrary. We have been living in the “end times” since the Resurrection. The Tim Lahaye/Scofield rapture theology is (to be kind) misguided. So if you have a vision of “the saved” not caring about the world because they will be magically levitated to heaven while the rest of the world reaps the bitter harvest it has sown you are mistaken. According to orthodox Christianity we are “stewards” of the world, put here to tend the garden. That means we husband our resources and preserve the world – but we do not mistake the world (or Gaia, or nature, or environment) for God.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_hypothesis

    But you are right on one point, humanity is fundamentally sinful.

    Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved. Some followers of the Reverend R. J. Campbell, in their almost too fastidious spirituality, admit divine sinlessness, which they cannot see even in their dreams. But they essentially deny human sin, which they can see in the street. The strongest saints and the strongest sceptics alike took positive evil as the starting-point of their argument. If it be true (as it certainly is) that a man can feel exquisite happiness in skinning a cat, then the religious philosopher can only draw one of two deductions. He must either deny the existence of God, as all atheists do; or he must deny the present union between God and man, as all Christians do. The new theologians seem to think it a highly rationalistic solution to deny the cat.

    http://www.catholicfirst.com/thefaith/catholicclassics/chesterton/orthodoxy/orthodoxy.cfm#II–The%20Maniac

    Hi Paul

    News flash, sometimes some scientists are wrong.

    Stop the presses… I remember being wrong….. once. 8^>

    This means we must reject any scientific conclusion, no matter how strong the scientific consensus, and no matter how weak the consensus for those older predictions, because either science is either absolutely true or it’s infallible (just as the Bible is infallible).

    Or we could investigate these allegedly “scientific” claims and evaluate them on their merits. Have we ever heard the term Straw Man?

    I have more than a passing aquaintance with some of the idealogically driven nonsense that tries to pass itself off as “science” and I would caution you to be a little more sketptical about that which you accept as gospel. I love skeptics… someone once told them never to take anything on authority, to “question everything”, and so they think that radical sketpticism is rational. But they never thought to question the authority of the fool that told them to “queston everything.”

    We can’t depend on it, like we can the Bible.

    Parody is so much fun! But how do you parody this?

    Science is a self-correcting process that produces reliable, objective public knowledge.

    […]
    This is also why all claims in science are viewed as tentative. There is no such thing as proof in science. [bold added]

    http://evoled.dbs.umt.edu/lessons/nature.htm#nature

    Maybe that’s why Christians seem to be the ones that reject global warming.

    Oh yeah!!! Prove it! 8^>


  13. I would think the issue has more to do with the conservative/liberal divide than it does the narrower conservative Christian/liberal Christian divide.

    I think you’re probably right. I don’t find this rejection of global climate change much among christian liberals. I suspect its probably a knee jerk anti-liberal reaction (since environmentalism seems to be a basically liberal movement and, apparently, in the minds of many conservatives, if its liberal it must be wrong.


  14. But you are right on one point, humanity is fundamentally sinful.

    Actually, I didn’t say humanity is fundamentally sinful. I only acknowledged that this is a doctrine commonly held by Christians.


    So if you have a vision of “the saved” not caring about the world because they will be magically levitated to heaven while the rest of the world reaps the bitter harvest it has sown you are mistaken.

    Its interesting. I raised the question about christian conservative denial of global climate change on reddit and I keep getting responses like the one above to it—a response that completely misses the point. I’m not saying they don’t care environmental damage because the world is about to end, I said they tend to deny its even happening.

  15. Thanks for your admission, davidellis.
    But after you loaded your initial premise don’t you think it a little gratuitous to continue with the inflammatory language?
    Since we’ve had the issue with us for close to two decades (following ice age fears, Soviet weather control, CFC banning, ozone holes, UV poisoning, etc) and the dissent is growing only now significantly over 50% and is spreading worldwide maybe “knee jerk” is not the right descriptor.
    I think it’s got more to do with healthy skepticism over sensationalizing by a media increasingly seen to lack objectivity and to be agenda driven.

    Then again, politics does tend to foster jerkiness.
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/08/03/each_party_has_its_fanatics_97748.html
    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/2009/08/whos-afraid-of-big-bad-science/#comment-15245
    Since the cause of jerking knees would seem to be neither Christianity nor conservatism what do you think is the excuse for those skeptics who haunt this board for months and years and repeatedly react negatively, and often with antagonism, to even the most benign of Christian postings?

  16. OK, Dave, my sarcasm mode is turned off, I’ll try to write seriously here.

    On what basis does an individual non-scientist accept or reject a scientific conclusion:

    1. Personal experience and sifting of the evidence
    2. The strength of the current scientific consensus
    3. Something else?
    4. Some combination of the above?

    I sincerely would like to hear your answer to my question.

  17. Hello David

    Its interesting. I raised the question about christian conservative denial of global climate change on reddit and I keep getting responses like the one above to it—a response that completely misses the point.

    Then perhaps you should structure your question so that your correspondents may get “the point”. That’s an invitation for clarification BTW.

    I’m not saying they don’t care environmental damage because the world is about to end, I said they tend to deny its even happening.

    When you say “environmental damage” are you referring to Anthropic Global Warming, Anthropic Climate Change, or air/water polution due to poor stewardship of our resourses/environment and our use thereof?

    If it is AGW, then there is little, if any, actual evidence (observation) supporting the hypothesis. There are good reasons to believe that the AGW hypothesis is politically driven and that its proponents have fabricated evidence.

    The detour into “ACC” is nothing more than a tactical retreat from the obvious and demonstrable failure of the AGW hypothesis. Temperatures and sea levels have not risen dramatically as the AGW proponents so forcefully asserted they would.

    The reframing of the hypothesis around “Anthropic Climate Change”, a delightfully amorphous phrase, allows misanthorpic environmental zealots to use this “catch-all” phrase to blame any increase or decrease in global or local temperature, rainfall, etc. on human action. Because the term “Climate Change” is non-directional any change, real or perceived, can be co-opted as evidence of impending catastrophe.

    A hypothesis which can be supported by contradictory evidence is not a valid hypothesis, it is a propaganda tool, and if that’s “An Inconvenient Truth” so much the worse for the hypothesis.

  18. Hi Paul

    On what basis does an individual non-scientist accept or reject a scientific conclusion:

    1. Personal experience and sifting of the evidence
    2. The strength of the current scientific consensus
    3. Something else?
    4. Some combination of the above?

    In “1. Personal experience and sifting of the evidence” I think you are conflating two different ideas.

    “Personal experience” is what I would list as “anecdotal” evidence. i.e. “It’s cold today therefore global warming is false” to which you might respond “Yes, but it was very hot yesterday so global warming must be true.” We might even bring our recollection of previous weather patterns as support but it is still anecdotal.

    “Sifting the evidence” I would consider as examining the objective records temperature measurements and weather reports from previous years. The longer the sample the better we could extrapolate. We might also consider the track record of weather prediction methodology. Within this context we might be able to draw an informed conclusion.

    We could consider “2. The strength of the current scientific consensus” as support for our conclusion but if we have reason to believe the “current scientific consensus” is wrong based upon our investigation of the evidence then we should use our conclusion to refute the “current scientific consensus”.

    As you noted above when you were in “sarcasm mode” – “News flash, sometimes some scientists are wrong.” Most of the debate on this blog surrounds the question of where scientists and the scientific consensus may be in error and why that error might have occurred.

    The next line of inquiry, “3. Something else?” could include a look at the benefits accruing to those who promote a particular hypothesis. These might include financial incentives, political advantage, ideological commitment, and peer pressure. These are all valid questions that should be asked.

    And your final item, “4. Some combination of the above?” is an emphatic affirmative. I would suggest we look at all of the above. I wouldn’t limit myself to any one line of evidence. There is some merit to the suggestion that we “question everything” but “question everything” means “question everything”. If we are going to be guided by methodological skepticism (as opposed to radical skepticism) we should evaluate all truth claims to the best of our ability.

    BTW “radical skepticism” ultimately asserts that we cannot ever know the validity of truth claims whereas “methodolgical skepticism” presupposes a capacity to know the validity of truth claims through open-minded investigation. “Test everything, hold on to the good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21

  19. Dave wrote:

    In “1. Personal experience and sifting of the evidence” I think you are conflating two different ideas.

    That’s fine, I agree with separating these two.

    “Personal experience” is what I would list as “anecdotal” evidence. . . . We might even bring our recollection of previous weather patterns as support but it is still anecdotal.

    Perhaps, this isn’t controversial, but I’d say it’s more an issue of our personal experiences being incomplete rather than anecdotal, although perhaps one of the main problems with anecdotal evidence is that is in complete. [I think I just put too fine a point on it.]

    We could consider “2. The strength of the current scientific consensus” as support for our conclusion but if we have reason to believe the “current scientific consensus” is wrong based upon our investigation of the evidence then we should use our conclusion to refute the “current scientific consensus”.

    Here’s the ballgame for me, I think. I don’t see much basis by which a lay person who examined the evidence could hope that his or her conclusion would be worth more than dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of professionals who have examined more evidence than the lay person could hope to and have reached a different conclusion.

    The next line of inquiry, “3. Something else?” could include a look at the benefits accruing to those who promote a particular hypothesis. These might include financial incentives, political advantage, ideological commitment, and peer pressure. These are all valid questions that should be asked.

    I’ll save my response here in order not to dilute my main point.

    And your final item, “4. Some combination of the above?” is an emphatic affirmative. I would suggest we look at all of the above. I wouldn’t limit myself to any one line of evidence. There is some merit to the suggestion that we “question everything” but “question everything” means “question everything”. If we are going to be guided by methodological skepticism (as opposed to radical skepticism) we should evaluate all truth claims to the best of our ability.

    For how science is conducted, I heartily agree. But my point is that a lay person cannot really conduct science to an adequate level, only the pros can, for something as complex as global warming. A lay person’s skepticism is a bit of a non-starter because, by definition, they don’t have the (professional) tools to come to a competent conclusion, given something sufficiently complex as global warming.

  20. Paul advocates then for faith over critical thinking when it comes to accepting scientific authority. He demonstrates this faith repeatedly though he claims to be a “show me the facts” skeptic – in fact, his credulous acceptance of what other professed “skeptics” say, without applying his own tests, demonstrates this faith.
    He also forgets that when a scientist is not looking at his own petri dish or at his own printouts he also is operating on faith in other scientists and outside his narrow (and getting narrower and narrower with specialization) field he, too, is a layman.
    The scientist is no better necessarily than the layman at stepping outside and seeing the whole picture, he is no better a philosopher, he is not less biased, and he has a greater, not lesser, stake in the outcome.
    Oft times when scientists do step back and look at the whole picture, and quit interpreting their own data in terms of what is presupposed, they find that it is not supportive of that paradigm.
    When there are two scientists with equal credentials and expertise presenting two different ideas one has to be wrong. And there are ample reasons to view as wrong the scientist who happens to have a lot more scientists agreeing with him

    It takes a scientist to gather the data and graph the results but it doesn’t take a scientist to look at Gore’s chart and determine whether the historic Co2 spikes precede or follow the correlated temperature spikes … for instance.

  21. A lay person’s skepticism is a bit of a non-starter because, by definition, they don’t have the (professional) tools to come to a competent conclusion, given something sufficiently complex as global warming.

    But something as simple as theology, no problem. All you have to do is ask for is God to show up in a Thanksgiving Day parade.

  22. I see that my impression that conservative Christians reject the idea that we’re causing global climate damage is being vindicated. Are there ANY Christians who participate on this blog who DO believe (or at least not reject) the idea?

    If so I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on why this issue is one Christian conservatives so frequently reject while, from what I’ve read, scientists in the relevant fields have a broad consensus that it’s happening.

  23. Hello David

    If so I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on why this issue is one Christian conservatives so frequently reject while, from what I’ve read, scientists in the relevant fields have a broad consensus that it’s happening.

    I won’t express my opinion re. the above comment and your intellectual acuity other than to note that “climate change” is the latest “litmus test” for faith in scientism.

    IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…
    POWER MAGAZINE

    BY SENATOR INHOFE

    AUGUST 2007

    We are witnessing an international awakening of scientists who are speaking out in opposition to former Vice President Al Gore, the United Nations, and the media-driven “consensus” on man-made global warming. In May, I released a report detailing scientists who were former believers in catastrophic man-made climate change but who have recently reversed themselves and are now skeptics.
    I will also be releasing a list of the hundreds of scientists, many of them affiliated with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) process, who have spoken out recently to oppose climate alarmism. It is ironic that the media’s climate hysteria grows louder as the latest scientific reports grow less and less alarming. Even the alarmist UN has cut sea level rise estimates in half since 2001 and has reduced man’s estimated impact on the climate by 25%. Meanwhile, a separate UN report found that cow emissions are more damaging to the planet than all of the CO2 emissions from cars and trucks.

    The New York Times is now debunking aspects of climate alarmism. An April 23, 2006, article in the Times by Andrew Revkin stated: “few scientists agree with the idea that the recent spate of potent hurricanes, European heat waves, African drought and other weather extremes are, in essence, our fault (a result of manmade emissions). There is more than enough natural variability in nature to mask a direct connection, [scientists] say.” The Times is essentially conceding that no recent weather events are outside of natural climate variability. So all the climate doomsayers have to back up their claims of climate fears are unproven computer models. Of course, you can’t prove a prediction of the climate in 2100 wrong today.

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.Facts&ContentRecord_id=E1BEFFF7-802A-23AD-4794-179EB41CF348

    U.S. Senate Report: Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007

    Senate Report Debunks “Consensus”

    Report Released on December 20, 2007 U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (Minority)

    INTRODUCTION:

    Over 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called “consensus” on man-made global warming. These scientists, many of whom are current and former participants in the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), criticized the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore.

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.SenateReport

    Update: More Than 700 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims

    Outpouring of Skeptical Scientists Continues as 59 Scientists Added to Senate Report

    ‘The ­science has, quite simply, gone awry’

    Washington, DC: Fifty-nine additional scientists from around the world have been added to the U.S. Senate Minority Report of dissenting scientists, pushing the total to over 700 skeptical international scientists – a dramatic increase from the original 650 scientists featured in the initial December 11, 2008 release. The 59 additional scientists added to the 255-page Senate Minority report since the initial release 13 ½ weeks ago represents an average of over four skeptical scientists a week. This updated report – which includes yet another former UN IPCC scientist – represents an additional 300 (and growing) scientists and climate researchers since the initial report’s release in December 2007.

    The over 700 dissenting scientists are now more than 13 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media-hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers. The 59 additional scientists hail from all over the world, including Japan, Italy, UK, Czech Republic, Canada, Netherlands, the U.S. and many are affiliated with prestigious institutions including, NASA, U.S. Navy, U.S. Defense Department, Energy Department, U.S. Air Force, the Philosophical Society of Washington (the oldest scientific society in Washington), Princeton University, Tulane University, American University, Oregon State University, U.S. Naval Academy and EPA.

    http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=10fe77b0-802a-23ad-4df1-fc38ed4f85e3

    Please David, don’t rely on green meanie talking points. I put a lot of effort into remaining civil but the uncritical, unthinking, mental conformity of modern liberalism really upsets me. You have a brain…. use it.

  24. I see that my impression that conservative Christians reject the idea that we’re causing global climate damage is being vindicated. Are there ANY Christians who participate on this blog who DO believe (or at least not reject) the idea?

    Ask me five years ago when we were treated only to hype and no science.

    I used this one before, but it’s appropriate again:
    Proverbs 18:17

  25. Hello Paul

    But my point is that a lay person cannot really conduct science to an adequate level,…

    Perhaps not, but I don’t have to conduct the research, merely evaluate the data which has been provided by the researchers for lay consumption.

    …only the pros can, for something as complex as global warming.

    Leave it to the pros, eh? And what if the pros disagree? Do I just pick an authority and gullibly swallow whatever they tell me?

    A lay person’s skepticism is a bit of a non-starter because, by definition, they don’t have the (professional) tools to come to a competent conclusion, given something sufficiently complex as global warming.

    Is this an argument from complexity?

  26. Charlie,
    Good points in comment #20.

    I also see that Paul wants us to believe in the conclusions of his select group of scientists. If it’s a fact of science, belief isn’t required.

    Anyway, I wonder why someone ought not believe the conclusions of the other group of scientists who poured over the data and disagreed?

    Paul??

  27. Dave, by “conduct science” I didn’t mean do the experiments, allow me to clarify. I meant draw a scientific conclusion. That would include evaluating the data, even data watered-down for lay consumption. A lay person cannot make the proper judgments of a professional, that’s the reason why we have professionals. And science can be very tricky, too. We don’t see doctors just because we prefer not to diagnose ourselves. We see them because they have the requisite background, training, and skills (IN GENERAL).

    I can’t say I’ve done every single thing any doctor has told me, but I’ve done the vast majority of them because that’s why I see my doctor, to rely on his expertise because I don’t have that expertise. If I don’t do what my doctor tells me, it’s probably exceedingly rare and probably isn’t a life or death situation. No part of that analogy fits skepticism of global warming. To carry the analogy further, global warming is like going to thousands of doctors, with a life or death condition, and the vast, vast majority of them all tell you to do the same thing. (For global warming, the analogy is not all scientists, but all climatologists. A chemist isn’t trained in climatology.)

    When the pros disagree, we have to wait for a firm(er) conclusion in the future. Until then, we don’t have to pick sides, it would probably be the side that confirms one’s biases anyway. We can just defer judgment until a stronger consensus is developed.


  28. Please David, don’t rely on green meanie talking points. I put a lot of effort into remaining civil but the uncritical, unthinking, mental conformity of modern liberalism really upsets me.

    Actually, none of my information about this subject comes from environmentalist or “green” groups. I will simply note that the word “projection” comes to mind and move on.


    Update: More Than 700 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims.

    700 scientists dissenting when there are, worldwide at least 10s (maybe even 100s) of thousands of scientists in the relevant fields is not exactly an impressive figure. No one claimed that a general consensus in the scientific community meant universal assent.

    But you demonstrate my point. There is such a ferocious opposition to this idea among Christian conservatives (and conservatives in general) where a large majority of scientists in the relevant fields think its a real problem. One has to wonder what underlying motivations are at work. Especially when there is no particular biblical basis for it as in the case of creationism or evolution.

  29. david ellis,
    It doesn’t matter that Christian’s disagree (assuming that is true), what matters is it’s a rational disagreement based on reasonable arguments.

  30. Paul says:

    When the pros disagree, we have to wait for a firm(er) conclusion in the future. Until then, we don’t have to pick sides, it would probably be the side that confirms one’s biases anyway. We can just defer judgment until a stronger consensus is developed.

    This is a very sensible position. But waiting without picking sides is not always an option. In fact, waiting without picking sides in this case is called “denial”.
    And while you wait your taxes will be raised, certain businesses punished, others rewarded and a multi-billion dollar industry grows up to support one side against those who choose to wait.
    ===
    davidellis says:

    But you demonstrate my point. There is such a ferocious opposition to this idea among Christian conservatives (and conservatives in general) where a large majority of scientists in the relevant fields think its a real problem. One has to wonder what underlying motivations are at work.

    The motivation is the search for truth. Conservatives have long come to realize what liberals will not admit, and that is that the media is not in the truth game. When an agenda is pushed as hard as this one on as scanty evidence one gets suspicious and has a look at what is going on. Whenever dissenters to an opinion are ridiculed, shouted down, shut out and shut up their case bears a skeptical look.
    And when conservatives find their taxes are being raised, new bureaucies created, new lobbies supported and new government positions invented they are naturally concerned.
    This has nothing to do with Christianity or the Bible, except to whichever degree Christians are more or less likely to be conservative.

    Someone just used this C.S. Lewis quote, and although the topic is different the tactic is the same, as should be the reaction to it.

    ‘What inclines me now to think you may be right in regarding [evolution] as the central and radical lie in the whole web of falsehood that now governs our lives is not so much your arguments against it as the fanatical and twisted attitudes of its defenders.’

    C.S. Lewis on Creation and Evolution: The Acworth Letters, 1944–196

  31. 700 scientists doesn’t mean much unless they are climatologists. Would you really trust 700 chemists disagreeing with astronomers, or 700 geologists who disagree with neurologists?

  32. You wouldn’t trust them because they are laymen in the field and are just trusting other scientists? Good point.

    However, links are meant to be clicked, Paul.
    The IPCC thought chemists, for instance, could have relevant knowledge:

    UN IPCC Scientist Dr. Steven M. Japar, a PhD atmospheric chemist who was part of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Second (1995) and Third (2001) Assessment Reports, and has authored 83 peer-reviewed publications and in the areas of climate change, atmospheric chemistry, air pollutions and vehicle emissions, challenged the IPCC’s climate claims.

    To add to the Lewis quote:

    “Observe which side resorts to the most vociferous name-calling and you are likely to have identified the side with the weaker argument and they know it.” – Materials and Research Physicist Dr. Charles R. Anderson, a former Department of Navy research physicist who has published more than 25 scientific papers specializes in spectroscopy, microscopy, thermal analysis, mass spectroscopy, and surface chemistry.

    Above quotes from the link of 700.


  33. It doesn’t matter that Christian’s disagree (assuming that is true), what matters is it’s a rational disagreement based on reasonable arguments.

    When people of one ideological bent are lined consistently and overwhelmingly on one side of what is a scientific question while scientists in the relevant fields fall into a large majority on the other side of the issue its reasonable to suspect that the actual basis for the opinions of the former are based more on rationalization than reason.

    Another comment regarding this:


    Please David, don’t rely on green meanie talking points. I put a lot of effort into remaining civil but the uncritical, unthinking, mental conformity of modern liberalism really upsets me.

    It amuses me that this is said when I have not, in fact, even taken a position on this issue other than to note that a large majority of scientists think humans are negatively affecting the environment.

    And, in fact, that’s about the extent of my opinion on the issue. The strongest stance I take on the subject is that when most scientists think there’s a very good chance that we’re having a disastrous effect on the climate I think its worth taking seriously and find nothing particularly difficult to believe in the idea

    The truth is that most of what I’ve read on the subject comes from the climate change deniers and I haven’t found anything in what they said which makes me think they have good reasons for doubting what the majority of experts in the field think on the issue.

  34. And, in fact, that’s about the extent of my opinion on the issue. The strongest stance I take on the subject is that when most scientists think there’s a very good chance that we’re having a disastrous effect on the climate I think its worth taking seriously and find nothing particularly difficult to believe in the idea

    Me too. But then, taking it seriously, I looked at some of the info.

    The truth is that most of what I’ve read on the subject comes from the climate change deniers and I haven’t found anything in what they said which makes me think they have good reasons for doubting what the majority of experts in the field think on the issue.

    How about the temperature is not going up – for five years it’s been going down?The models predict warming in the upper atmosphere and it doesn’t exist? The polar bears are doing better, not worse? Instead of the North POle melting in 2008 there is more Arctic ice than there was 30 years ago? In the Antarctic the ice levels are back to 1980 levels? The glaciers are advancing for the past several decades in Canada, Sweden, Norawy, New Zealand, the U.S., etc.? The CO2 to temperature correlation was presented by Gore in reverse? The necessary oceanic warming of the models hasn’t happened? The predicted hurricanes never came? In five of the last seven decades since World War II, including this one, global temperatures have cooled while carbon dioxide has continued to rise?

  35. Hi Paul

    I meant draw a scientific conclusion. That would include evaluating the data, even data watered-down for lay consumption. A lay person cannot make the proper judgments of a professional, that’s the reason why we have professionals. And science can be very tricky, too.

    Paul, I really can’t believe your are taking this position. You have, in fact, asserted a position of “blind faith” in scientism. I am not intending any abuse here, but read what you have written. I’ll paraphrase your position just in case I have misunderstood it.

    Science is very complicated and very tricky; so complicated that a lay person cannot understand it, even when it is explained to him in lay terms, therefore we must take the professionals at their word and act accordingly.

    I may not have degrees in climatology, or biology, or physics or philosophy, but I assure you, without tooting my own horn, that I am as well educated in most of these disciplines as your average MA and in some of them I might be as well informed as an average PhD. If, at any time, I find that I do not understand something I am researching, I go find the tools to help me learn how to understand and evaluate it.

    I live to learn. And I have no doubt whatsoever that I can learn whatever I need to learn to evaluate any hypothesis or theory, scientific or otherwise. In that sense I am a “liberal” – a so-called “classical liberal” who believes that a so-called “liberal education” should inform the discretion of the citizen, that is, instill in him (or her) the basic skills necessary to learn about and evaluate scientific, political, social, and moral questions and formulate reasonable and informed answers. This position pre-supposes that I have the intellectual capacity to live and act as a free (liber) human being.

  36. The models predict warming in the upper atmosphere and it doesn’t exist? The polar bears are doing better, not worse? Instead of the North POle melting in 2008 there is more Arctic ice than there was 30 years ago?……

    In addition, the so-called catastrophe associated with a warming planet is not a scientific conclusion so the science of global warming is silent there. Generally speaking, life will thrive on a warmer planet.

  37. Helo David

    Still dealing in ambiguous and fluid terminology.

    When people of one ideological bent are lined consistently and overwhelmingly on one side of what is a scientific question while scientists in the relevant fields fall into a large majority on the other side of the issue its reasonable to suspect that the actual basis for the opinions of the former are based more on rationalization than reason.

    When people of one ideological bent

    To which people are you referring? The left wing liberals who support environmental alarmism or the right wing conservatives who oppose environmental alarmism.

    while scientists in the relevant fields fall into a large majority on the other side of the issue

    To which scientists are you referring? The scientists in the relevant fields who support environmental alarmism or the scientists in the relevant fields who oppose environmental alarmism?

    …its reasonable to suspect that the actual basis for the opinions of the former are based more on rationalization than reason.

    And it is quite reasonable for me to suspect that your arguments ad populum and ad vericundiam are nothing more than the expression of your own personal ideological bent. Devious insinuations about the motivation and intelligence of your interlocutor do not a valid argument make.

    It has been my experience that “modern liberals” cannot think beyond caricature and slogan and support certain “litmus test” ideological positions to validate their credentials. Does that mean their postions are wrong? Not at all. But it does mean that many of them have accepted a particular position without any true knowledge about it or its implications. Since it is an emotional commitment, rather than an intellectual commitment, it is an irrational belief and therefore immune to rational refutation.

  38. When people of one ideological bent are lined consistently and overwhelmingly on one side of what is a scientific question while scientists in the relevant fields fall into a large majority on the other side of the issue its reasonable to suspect that the actual basis for the opinions of the former are based more on rationalization than reason.

    The popularity of an argument determines if an argument is based on valid reasoning? Gosh I hope not.

  39. Dave, I think my point can be made if you apply your responses to me in terms of a life or death issue that is complex. The easy one, I think, is your own medical health. I mentioned that before as an analogy, and you didn’t address it.

    We go to doctors when we don’t have the knowledge, expertise, background, and training to make a conclusion based on the medical data. Some of it we can gain, but at some point we recognize that we need the pro, especially when it’s life or death. At that point, we trust the pro (but don’t give up our critical faculties, or our attempt to understand what the doctor tells us).

    Or, at least the rational among us, do, because I suppose one could argue that we shouldn’t trust the medical profession, either, we can cure ourselves with crystals and herbs. The same sort of professional expertise that debunks homeopathy and quack cures is what I’m calling for with global warming, too. The quack cures are a perfect example of people *thinking* that they’ve made a sound scientific judgment, they can seemingly back it up with studies, data, figures, etc., but the rest of the scientific consensus says that it’s absurd.

    Dave, are you familiar with homeopathy? If you think it works, then at least you’re being consistent. But if you don’t think it works, apply that as an analogy for my point about global warming.

  40. Charlie, I think I’m going to decline the opportunity to discuss things here with you. I wish you well.


  41. In addition, the so-called catastrophe associated with a warming planet is not a scientific conclusion so the science of global warming is silent there. Generally speaking, life will thrive on a warmer planet.

    Really? Then why do most scientists in the relevant fields think we have a serious problem?


    How about the temperature is not going up – for five years it’s been going down?The models predict warming in the upper atmosphere and it doesn’t exist? ….. The predicted hurricanes never came? In five of the last seven decades since World War II, including this one, global temperatures have cooled while carbon dioxide has continued to rise?

    Again, if its so clearly not a problem then why do most scientists knowledgeable in the relevant fields think it is?

    That’s what it comes down to for me. I’m scientifically literate enough to know that I don’t have the expertise in the relevant fields to dismiss the concerns of the experts.


    The popularity of an argument determines if an argument is based on valid reasoning? Gosh I hope not.

    If one has little relevant knowledge of a complex scientific issue then it makes sense to give more credence to a large majority of experts over a large majority of ideologues with no relevant expertise.

    But gosh, maybe you have some good reason for thinking otherwise? If so I’d be delighted to hear it.

  42. Yes, I know you are, Paul.
    By your most official claim, due to my use of sarcasm.
    I wish you well too and for that reason I am going to continue to address you
    on this public blog when you make your inconsistent thinking and bad arguments
    public. This actually makes it much easier and less time consuming not having
    to deal with your “discussions”.

  43. Hi davidellis,

    Again, if its so clearly not a problem then why do most scientists knowledgeable in the relevant fields think it is?

    That’s what it comes down to for me. I’m scientifically literate enough to know that I don’t have the expertise in the relevant fields to dismiss the concerns of the experts.

    You keep saying “most” as though 1) you know it is “most” and 2) you know they are more expert than the ones dissenting – including ones from IPCC and who had at one time spear-headed this movement for the other side 3) you aren’t presented with facts – polar bears aren’t dying, hurricanes didn’t come, the upper atmosphere is not heating – which rebut your experts.
    Did you read the links? How about the one on Teh Consensus?

    If one has little relevant knowledge of a complex scientific issue then it makes sense to give more credence to a large majority of experts over a large majority of ideologues with no relevant expertise.

    Why do you keep promoting false dichotomies. How about the vast number of experts who have relevant knowledge and don;t agree with your experts? Why are yours not ideologues? And how about the facts?
    Some “expert” opinion was based upon satellites “losing” chunks of Arctic ice as big as some American states. Some of it based upon false NASA data that ranked the 90s as hotter than the 30s – which they later admitted was not the case. Some is based on computer models which fail to model reality and whose predictions fail to come true.

    Since you keep motive mongering, what is your motive? Why do you keep trying to make this an issue of Christian faith? Why do you keep appealing to experts vs. ideologues instead of experts vs. experts and ideologues vs. ideologues?
    Why do you ignore facts?
    What is your agenda?

  44. Hi Paul,
    This is junk:

    The quack cures are a perfect example of people *thinking* that they’ve made a sound scientific judgment, they can seemingly back it up with studies, data, figures, etc., but the rest of the scientific consensus says that it’s absurd.

    Dave, are you familiar with homeopathy? If you think it works, then at least you’re being consistent. But if you don’t think it works, apply that as an analogy for my point about global warming.

    And your subtle attempt to answer me without answering me is transparent.

    Your pretense here is that there is a scientific consensus on man-made global warming and that the data is being misused by ignorant lay people to deny this consensus.
    Of course you are not skeptical enough of the UN to actually follow any of the links provided to see that there is no consensus and instead of quacks saying ohms over crystals you actually have the situation where you have a second and equally-qualified opinion.
    In fact you have the opinion of those who used to share in your diagnosis and then, when further information became available, changed their diagnosis. This is called science. Failing to change when the facts change is called being irrational.

    You refused to look skeptically at your “news” source, Skeptics Magazine. Are you going to refuse to look skeptically at your so-called consensus? Why are you so eager to take on faith, yet again, something you’ve never explored (and even declare your own exploration off-limits) while comparing dissenters to “absurd” “quacks”?
    Faith-based ideology is speaking yet again, not rational investigation.

  45. david ellis,

    Again, if its so clearly not a problem then why do most scientists knowledgeable in the relevant fields think it is?

    You’re mixing science with metaphysics and trying to call that science. Whether mad-made global warming (MMGW) is a problem or not is not a question that can be answered by science. So, I don’t care if 100% of all scientists think MMGW is a problem. Actually I do care, but not because they are expert scientists. They could all be auto mechanics.

    Suppose I agreed that MMGW was happening but chose to disagree with every scientist who said it’s a problem and that society should do something to reverse it. Am I being anti-scientific? I’d really like an answer.


  46. Suppose I agreed that MMGW was happening but chose to disagree with every scientist who said it’s a problem and that society should do something to reverse it. Am I being anti-scientific? I’d really like an answer.

    Why do you not consider it a problem given what the experts think will likely result?

  47. david ellis,

    Why do you not consider it a problem given what the experts think will likely result?

    This topic is about science, and the charge is that Christian’s are anti-scientific with respect to MMGW (and others). Your question has nothing to do with the methods of science as science. You can demonstrate and model cause/effect, but you can’t model problems.

    Please answer my question so I can understand where you draw the line between science and non-science. Am I being anti-science (key word) if I disagree with every scientist that says MMGW is a problem?


  48. This topic is about science, and the charge is that Christian’s are anti-scientific with respect to MMGW (and others).

    Actually, the charge is that Christian conservatives (and non-christian political conservatives in the US, for that matter) hold, in very high numbers, opinions at odds with the large majority of scientists with expertise in the relevant fields on this issue.

    And the question is why?

    I am rather suspicious of the idea that its because conservatives are better at assessing the evidence in the relevant fields than the experts in those fields are. Therefore, I have a strong suspicion that their position is based more on ideological bias than evidence.

    Perhaps I’m wrong but I’ve seen nothing in this discussion that gives me reason to think so—quite the contrary.

  49. Hi davidellis,

    Perhaps I’m wrong but I’ve seen nothing in this discussion that gives me reason to think so—quite the contrary.

    We can only show you, we can’t make you see.

  50. david ellis

    …hold, in very high numbers, opinions at odds with the large majority of scientists with expertise in the relevant fields on this issue.

    Anyone can disagree with the opinion of a scientist and not be anti-science. It’s when you disagree with the facts of science that you are being anti-science. ‘Problems’ don’t fall under scientific fact.

    Are you saying opinions fall under the domain of science? If so, just for fun, I’d like to shift the conversation to the moral opinions of scientists.

  51. http://www.canadafreepress.com/2006/harris061206.htm

    Professor Bob Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, in Australia gives what, for many Canadians, is a surprising assessment: “Gore’s circumstantial arguments are so weak that they are pathetic. It is simply incredible that they, and his film, are commanding public attention.”

    Carter is one of hundreds of highly qualified non-governmental, non-industry, non-lobby group climate experts who contest the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing significant global climate change. “Climate experts” is the operative term here. Why? Because what Gore’s “majority of scientists” think is immaterial when only a very small fraction of them actually work in the climate field.[good job, Paul]

    Even among that fraction, many focus their studies on the impacts of climate change; biologists, for example, who study everything from insects to polar bears to poison ivy. “While many are highly skilled researchers, they generally do not have special knowledge about the causes of global climate change,” explains former University of Winnipeg climatology professor Dr. Tim Ball. “They usually can tell us only about the effects of changes in the local environment where they conduct their studies.”

    Carleton University paleoclimatologist Professor Tim Patterson testified, “There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth’s temperature over this [geologic] time frame. In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years.” Patterson asked the committee, “On the basis of this evidence, how could anyone still believe that the recent relatively small increase in CO2 levels would be the major cause of the past century’s modest warming?”

    Dr. Boris Winterhalter, former marine researcher at the Geological Survey of Finland and professor in marine geology, University of Helsinki, takes apart Gore’s dramatic display of Antarctic glaciers collapsing into the sea. “The breaking glacier wall is a normally occurring phenomenon which is due to the normal advance of a glacier,” …

    Dr. Wibjorn Karlen, emeritus professor, Dept. of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, Sweden, admits, “Some small areas in the Antarctic Peninsula have broken up recently, just like it has done back in time. The temperature in this part of Antarctica has increased recently, probably because of a small change in the position of the low pressure systems.”

    But Karlen clarifies that the ‘mass balance’ of Antarctica is positive – more snow is accumulating than melting off. As a result, Ball explains, there is an increase in the ‘calving’ of icebergs as the ice dome of Antarctica is growing and flowing to the oceans. When Greenland and Antarctica are assessed together, “their mass balance is considered to possibly increase the sea level by 0.03 mm/year – not much of an effect,” Karl»n concludes.

    Karlen explains that a paper published in 2003 by University of Alaska professor Igor Polyakov shows that, the region of the Arctic where rising temperature is supposedly endangering polar bears showed fluctuations since 1940 but no overall temperature rise. “For several published records it is a decrease for the last 50 years,” says Karl»n

    Concerning Gore’s beliefs about worldwide warming, Morgan points out that, in addition to the cooling in the NW Atlantic, massive areas of cooling are found in the North and South Pacific Ocean; the whole of the Amazon Valley; the north coast of South America and the Caribbean; the eastern Mediterranean, Black Sea, Caucasus and Red Sea; New Zealand and even the Ganges Valley in India. Morgan explains, “Had the IPCC used the standard parameter for climate change (the 30 year average) and used an equal area projection, instead of the Mercator (which doubled the area of warming in Alaska, Siberia and the Antarctic Ocean) warming and cooling would have been almost in balance.”

  52. david ellis’ thesis concerning Christianity and doubts about the various contentions of man made global warming is debunked as Christianity is a weak correlate – Christians on the liberal side of the aisle are not nearly so skeptical and 70-80% of the Democratic party is Christian.
    What is true in david ellis’ thesis, but which he wants to obscure behind a claim about Christianity, is that conservatives are most likely (now over half) to doubt the claims. Independents are close and a significant number of Democrats, 20%, also share doubts.

    david ellis thinks that to doubt any or all of the several claims of man made global warming is to disagree with the majority of scientists. This might be correct.
    But does that make that doubt wrong .. or unscientific … or immoral … or dubious in any way?
    Does whatever their motivation is to be skeptical make them wrong, anti-science, irrational, or anything else worthy of his motive-mongering?
    Does the so-called majority represent actual scientists who have expertise in this field, (as opposed to including statements by veterinarian and health practitioner’s groups, for instance)?
    Does the majority have the actual science behind them to back up the claims?
    Is there good scientific rationale to doubt the highly publicized, highly-politicized so-called majority?

    david ellis wants to ignore every one of these questions and talk about motives.
    His initial thesis is mistaken, his verbiage prejudicial, his position ignores the science, and he doesn’t care.
    If anyone’s position is biased by motive it is his.

  53. Expert

    “X” is an “unknown quantity”

    “spurt” is a “drip under pressure”

    Beware of unknown drips under pressure.


  54. Anyone can disagree with the opinion of a scientist and not be anti-science.

    I never called you anti-science. I just don’t think you have good reasons for the extent of your skepticism regarding the conclusion most scientists have reached on this issue.

  55. So this is all about differences of opinion and that Christianity has nothing to do with it. Thanks.

  56. I never claimed that I think Christianity, in and of itself, leads to an ideological rejection of of the problem of climate change. In fact, I expressed puzzlement at the fact that Christian conservatives deny it in such huge numbers when it seems to fit quite well with the theological positions of most Christian conservatives.

    As I said, my best guess is that its a knee jerk anti-liberal reaction.

  57. I just don’t think you have good reasons for the extent of your skepticism regarding the conclusion most scientists have reached on this issue.

    We have a layman judging whether one group of experts (the majority) has good reasons compared to the other group of experts (minority). How can a layman know this without the proper training? Paul can’t be pleased with that given his recent comment,

    “But my point is that a lay person cannot really conduct science to an adequate level, only the pros can, for something as complex as global warming. A lay person’s skepticism is a bit of a non-starter because, by definition, they don’t have the (professional) tools to come to a competent conclusion, given something sufficiently complex as global warming.”

  58. SteveK, when the vast majority of experts and professional think A, and only a few think not-A, it should be clear which way to go, at least the vast majority of the time, if not all the time.

    What would you do if you went to 100 car mechanics who all diagnosed your car problem the same way, and there were 2 that said the opposite, who would you believe, everything else being equal? Let’s say the problem was with the brakes – you could lose your life or be injured severely if your brakes failed – but it was fairly expensive. And the other two mechanics are saying, “Nah, don’t worry, your brakes are fine.” What would you do, 100 to 2? And let’s say that the problem is sufficiently technical that you can’t make a secure judgment yourself, lacking the background, expertise, etc. Both sides sound like they know what they’re talking about, if you just listen to the one of them at a time.

  59. A question: why do most conservatives reject the idea that human caused climate change is a serious problem?

    I think its safe to say most of them haven’t even studied the issue to the degree that they can as laymen understand it (and I think this is true of most of the general public regardless of political perspective; not just the conservatives)—yet conservatives seem to overwhelmingly reject it.

    Why?

  60. Hello Paul

    SteveK, when the vast majority of experts and professional think A, and only a few think not-A, it should be clear which way to go, at least the vast majority of the time, if not all the time.

    Point 1. I do not know that the vast majority actually endorse AGW or ACC at all. All I know is that the press keep telling me that the vast majority endorse it. And, quite frankly, “the press is a ass” (To paraphrase Dickens).

    Point 2. (re. your love of experts) I have investigated medical questions on my own and discovered that, as often as not, a second or third opinion is a good idea. There have actually been times when I have done my research and advised my medical professional (seriously – because a doctor cannot keep up with all the developments in his profession and amateur with time can research a specialty problem and find information that the GP is not aware of.)

    Point 3. Majority support for anything is as much an indication of “groupthink” as it is an indication of validity.

    What would you do if you went to 100 car mechanics who all diagnosed your car problem the same way, and there were 2 that said the opposite, who would you believe, everything else being equal?

    Well, gosh darn it, wouldn’t you know, I happen to be a car mechanic. And, gosh darn it, wouldn’t you know, I have people come to me for advice on how to repair their vehicle. And, gosh darn it, wouldn’t you know, I have mechanics come to me for advice on how to repair other people’s vehicles. And, gosh darn it, wouldn’t you know, I am often the “2 that said the opposite.”

    Not only that, but I am able to explain to my customers, in words of one syllable or less, exactly why I am right and the others are wrong.

    There are very few people in this world to whom I would defer on any issue. And I certainly would never defer to anyone who was so patronizing as to suggest I “just couldn’t understand” the issue.

  61. Paul,

    What would you do if you went to 100 car mechanics who all diagnosed your car problem the same way, and there were 2 that said the opposite, who would you believe, everything else being equal?

    Not enough information for me to be able to answer. If the 2 were able to explain their reasoning better then perhaps I would side with them.

    Most of the time you are right though, I side with the majority – mostly out of laziness (I suspect the same is true for you). I keep doing that until I can’t afford to remain lazy, or if the reasoning doesn’t pass the smell test.

    Ultimately it’s not a person that I’m agreeing with, it’s the reasoning. And if I know something about the subject, it’s the reasoning combined with my own experiences and limited expertise.

    Regarding MMGW…read the reasoning behind the dissenting opinions, like the ones Charlie linked to, and the reasoning of the so-called majority opinion starts to stink up the room.

  62. Oh, and since we’re deferring to experts…

    Most experts accept the minimal facts surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection as being true and that the best explanation is the one stated in the NT text.

    For some audio on the subject go here

    One more….most experts in their relevent fields agree that abortions kill a living human being (medical experts), that was not guilty of any crime punishable by death (legal experts) and, in the vast majority of cases, was not threatening the life of anyone (medical experts).

  63. Dave:

    Point 1. I do not know that the vast majority actually endorse AGW or ACC at all.

    This is great, it frames the issue very well. Let’s, for the sake of argument, assume that the vast majority of climatologists endorse AGW, and continue discussing things. Whether the vast majority do or do not is a separate issue from what we do when the vast majority of experts are in consensus.

    Point 2. (re. your love of experts) I have investigated medical questions on my own and discovered that, as often as not, a second or third opinion is a good idea.

    Irrelevant. With AGW, we’ve gotten thousands of second opinions (did I count that correctly?).

    There have actually been times when I have done my research and advised my medical professional (seriously – because a doctor cannot keep up with all the developments in his profession and amateur with time can research a specialty problem and find information that the GP is not aware of.)

    Advised, or taken over his duties completely? Made him aware of some piece of data, or reached the final conclusion for him? Nothing I’ve claimed is rejects the former in my two sentences above.

    Point 3. Majority support for anything is as much an indication of “groupthink” as it is an indication of validity.

    It can be, that’s true. It’s always an ongoing challenge to make sure that, as part of the majority, you’re not just engaging in groupthink. But it seems like lay people have no choice but accept an overwhelming consensus. Remember, science is the discipline in which the explicit aim is to eliminate individual bias (to be objective). Sure, groupthink can happen, but wouldn’t it be exceedingly strange that it would happen so much as to make a lay person equally valid to conclude that it’s groupthink instead of a valid conclusion? If it were the Dems or Repubs, I’m much more ready to reject their conclusion because their explicit goal is not about objectivity. So, when the consensus is overwhelming (let’s assume that for the time being), is it more likely that the discipline has gotten us as far as we can go with the data at hand (can always be overturned with new data), or is it more likely that groupthink is happening?

    Regarding car mechanics, what a coincindence. But, that means you’re not a lay person anymore, and our topic (as I understand it), is how lay people, concerning global warming, decide the issue. I completely get how professionals will disagree, happens in science all the time.

  64. Dave, since your a mechanic, substitute “any professional you contract with that has specialized knowledge” for “mechanic.” Geologist for soil samples if you’re building a house, computer repair technician, airline pilot, etc., etc.

  65. SteveK:

    What would you do if you went to 100 car mechanics who all diagnosed your car problem the same way, and there were 2 that said the opposite, who would you believe, everything else being equal?

    Not enough information for me to be able to answer. If the 2 were able to explain their reasoning better then perhaps I would side with them.

    You missed the “everything else being equal” part of my scenario. Assume, for the sake of argument, that each side makes their own case. Actually, we kinda have to assume this because the crucial point is how a lay person can presume to make a professional judgment without the professional expertise, knowledge, and training.

  66. Dave, here’s another way to look at it.

    You’re a mechanic, right? Pick some standard practice in your field with which you agree, something on which there is a strong consensus and which you know is correct and works. How would you feel if someone from off the street, some citizen, some non-mechanic, told you that the exact opposite was actually correct because he heard one or two mechanics say so?

    You might explore whether those one or two mechanics were correct, but what if, not surprisingly, they still turn out to be wrong, and yet they still claim they are right?

    More importantly, should the guy off the street believe those two mechanics (assume they are not knowledgeable enough to make their own conclusion), or believe you and everyone else?

  67. Hello Paul

    I see no reason whatsoever that I should accept, for the sake of argument or toherwixe, that the “majority” of experts advocate AGW (anthropic global warming). For every expert you produce who is willing to go on record as supporting AGW I can produce another expert who says the opposite.

    A secondary consideration is the well-documented misuse of systems modelling (fraud?) to support dramatic end-of-the-world predictions based upon AGW hypotheses. Not to mention the well-documented failure of these end-of-the-world predictions to materialize (scare-mongering?). Nor can I recall any single one of the predictions which has materialized, and for evidence to support each of these assertions I bring the obvious reframing of the debate from AGW to ACC (anthropic climate change). By reframing the debate as “climate change” rather than “global warming” the ideologues who support massive regulatory intrusion into the economy are able to sidestep the failure of every single one of their predictions to materialize and simultaneously claim that any minute change in the weather is support for the end-of-the-world scare-mongering. One of the more ludicrous assertions is “Global Warming Can Cause Global Cooling”.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLxicwiBQ7Q

    Also, we receive almost all our information about AGG or ACC from the news media, who, according to your thesis about “experts” are not competent to judge the quality of the evidence being presented to them. It therefore follows that the news media will only accept as authoritative the information will fits their bases and pre-conceived notions since they are incompetent to judge the actual evidence. Given the elitist, socialist, anti-human, anti-freedom, pro-environment, pro-UN/world government, and anti-religion biases of the halls of academe it follows that a plurality of media talking/writing heads will obediently follow the party line on social, environmental, political, and religious issues. Lo and behold, we find a bias in the media which more or less conforms to the ideology described above.

    And as for car mechanics and professional/experts – this is directly relevant to the point, to which you never did respond, about secondary motivation. Some mechanics jsut want to make a sale, more parts and labour = more money in my pocket. Others just don’t like to say “I don’t know what your problem is.” but they know it is related to the transmission; when in doubt, pull it out. etc.

    (Ha Ha fooled the little bugger, I copied my post before submitting it and didn’t lose it when the *&^%M**&^ machine didn’t post it)

  68. Why can’t I post?

    Reply from Tom Gilson: I don’t know… I’m not sure why your posts were held back. I’ll take a look at it.

  69. Hello Paul

    This is great, it frames the issue very well. Let’s, for the sake of argument, assume that the vast majority of climatologists endorse AGW, and continue discussing things. Whether the vast majority do or do not is a separate issue from what we do when the vast majority of experts are in consensus.

    I see no reason whatsoever that I should accept, for the sake of argument or toherwixe, that the “majority” of experts advocate AGW (anthropic global warming). For every expert you produce who is willing to go on record as supporting AGW I can produce another expert who says the opposite.

    A secondary consideration is the well-documented misuse of systems modelling (fraud?) to support dramatic end-of-the-world predictions based upon AGW hypotheses. Not to mention the well-documented failure of these end-of-the-world predictions to materialize (scare-mongering?). Nor can I recall any single one of the predictions which has materialized, and for evidence to support each of these assertions I bring the obvious reframing of the debate from AGW to ACC (anthropic climate change). By reframing the debate as “climate change” rather than “global warming” the ideologues who support massive regulatory intrusion into the economy are able to sidestep the failure of every single one of their predictions to materialize and simultaneously claim that any minute change in the weather is support for the end-of-the-world scare-mongering. One of the more ludicrous assertions is “Global Warming Can Cause Global Cooling”.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLxicwiBQ7Q

  70. Also, we receive almost all our information about AGG or ACC from the news media, who, according to your thesis about “experts” are not competent to judge the quality of the evidence being presented to them. It therefore follows that the news media will only accept as authoritative the information will fits their bases and pre-conceived notions since they are incompetent to judge the actual evidence. Given the elitist, socialist, anti-human, anti-freedom, pro-environment, pro-UN/world government, and anti-religion biases of the halls of academe it follows that a plurality of media talking/writing heads will obediently follow the party line on social, environmental, political, and religious issues. Lo and behold, we find a bias in the media which more or less conforms to the ideology described above.

    Finally, consensus is not the basis of scientific endeavor. When Copernicus discovered heliocentrism the vast majority of astronomers were geocentrists, when Einsein developed the theory of relativity the vast majority of physicists were Newtonian. The idea of ‘consensus’ is not scientific, but political, and is drawn mainly from the Hegelian dialectic.

    And as for car mechanics and professional/experts – this is directly relevant to the point, to which you never did respond, about secondary motivation. Some mechanics jsut want to make a sale, more parts and labour = more money in my pocket. Others just don’t like to say “I don’t know what your problem is.” but they know it is related to the transmission; when in doubt, pull it out. etc.

  71. Dave, “for the sake of argument” doesn’t mean that you relent and believe the opposite of what you think is true. In fact, in our particular case, it means “isolate one argument from the other for the time being.”

    The issue of whether we should accept experts opinion is separate from what the consensus is for the experts on global warming. Do you agree that they are separate issues (even though both of them will bear on whether one believes in global warming or not)? It means setting aside the impulse to argue, in your case, that global warming is bunk, and look at a separate issue that, when decided on its merits, and not the merits of the global warming issue, will be able to help us decide the global warming issue.

    If you are agreed that we can look at the general issue of accepting experts’ opinions, then that’s what I want to do, too. Let me know.

    The secondary motivations: of course they exist, and we have to watch for them. But don’t assume that because I agree that secondary motivations exist that that means that’s what’s happening in global warming.

    So what I’m doing is to generalize some principles, let’s you and I agree on them, and then we can dispassionately apply them to global warming (no guarantee we’ll wind up agreeing in the end, but that’s our best shot).

  72. Using Peer Pressure As A Tool To Promote Greener Choices

    Environmentalists, utilities, and green businesses are turning to behavioral economics to find innovative ways of influencing people to do the right thing when it comes to the environment. Is this approach really good for the planet or just a fad?

    by Richard Conniff

    […]

    This new way of thinking about — and some would say manipulating — behavior is likely to be an important tool for addressing environmental issues over the next few years. Behavioral economics is the theory behind a variety of measures now being promoted by environmental groups, power companies, and green businesses — from smart meters for cutting electricity consumption to the use of social networks to promote weatherization.

    The Obama White House is packed with true believers in behavioral economics, including economic advisor Austan Goolsbee, budget director Peter Orszag, and regulatory czar Cass Sunstein, a constitutional scholar and co-author of Nudge, a popular treatment of subtle ways to influence the choices people make. And while the Obama administration has yet to unveil environmental initiatives based on behavioral economics, Orzag recently told Time magazine, “It really applies to all the big areas where we need change.”

    For those who skipped Economics 101 — or took it before behavioral approaches began to coalesce into a theory in the 1980s — a primer is in order: Traditional economics holds that people act rationally. We sort through all available information, balance the pros and cons, and arrive at the best possible decision to maximize our own self-interest.

    Behavioral economists say that we are quirkier and more complicated than that. Instead of carefully weighing the choices, we often make decisions based on gut instinct. Or we get overwhelmed and do nothing. We also do irrational things like acting altruistically toward total strangers. Unless you happen to be an economist, this may not come as news. Some psychologists carp that the economists are just putting a new spin on basic social psychology. But by any name, taking account of normal human tendencies promises a more realistic way of predicting and influencing how people act.
    […]
    http://www.e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2141

    Now, this might be considered appropriate in a dictatorship, but in a nation that is allegedly governed by the people the use of techne to “subtly influence the choices people make”, particularly by the government (although I detest commercials as well) can only be described as the use of propaganda to manipulate the electors. Just ask yourself, if you are a Republican, how you would react to the Democrats instituting these strategies, and if you are a Democrat, ask your reaction to a Republican program that is designed to “subtly influence the choices people make.”

    You see, I might be a little naive, but it always seemed to me that in a country that is allegedly governed by the people, the people should be ultimate arbiter about what is reasonable and what is not. Using modern propaganda techniques to subvert that decision making process simply because some self-proclaimed elite thinks the lumpen proletariat is stupid subverts the entire process.

    “I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.” –Thomas Jefferson to William C. Jarvis, 1820.


  73. Most experts accept the minimal facts surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection as being true and that the best explanation is the one stated in the NT text.

    Most experts on the Koran think its the divinely inspired word of God…..but then again, most Koranic experts went into their studies having been indoctrinated from childhood in the Moslem faith.

    I trust them about as much as I trust “experts” on feng shui.

  74. And that’s one of the fundamental differences in regards to experts in science. A scientist may come from a conservative background, or a liberal one. Here in the US he will probably come from a Christian family. Worldwide they will come from a wide variety of religious backgrounds.

    Yet a large majority think this issue is a real one.

  75. There’s something strange going on with comments being marked as spam by the software. I don’t know what’s causing it, but I’ll try to stay on top of it.

  76. david ellis,
    If you listened to the Habermas audio you wouldn’t have made the commments you did in #76 & #77 regarding experts. You may have said (by way of ignorance) he’s full of BS, but that’s not what you said.


  77. Historical experts (including atheistic experts), not religious experts, david ellis….If you listened to the Habermas audio you wouldn’t have made the commments you did in #76 & #77 regarding experts. You may have said (by way of ignorance) he’s full of BS, but that’s not what you said.

    Really? Most historical experts, including the atheist ones, “accept the minimal facts surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection as being true and that the best explanation is the one stated in the NT text”?

    Yes, you’re right, I’m going to have to call BS on that one.

  78. Hi Jacob

    The issue of whether we should accept experts opinion is separate from what the consensus is for the experts on global warming.

    Okay, for the sake of argument, I do not accept the opinion of experts at face value. I always check their opinions and read the contrary arguments. I think that is basic to making any informed decision. It was “experts” who placed the US in Viet Nam, it was “experts” who said Iraq had WMDs, it was “experts” who embroiled the US in Somalia and Lebanon with disastrous effect, it was “experts” who developed the Cold War MAD doctrine, it was “experts” who instigated the current economic crisis. Why would I blindly follow the advice of “experts”?

    Even in the case of my Christian faith, which I came to in middle age, I adopted it because I reached a point where I realized that without something like the God of the Bible, there is no ground for justice. If right and wrong are an evolved standard subject to change then Mao is right, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Might makes right.

    So, my journey into Christianity was never a “leap of faith”, it was the conscious realization that without God everything is in flux. There can be no appeal to a higher law, and the state, which controls the guns, defines morality. I don’t even know that there is a God, but if there isn’t, there should be. Otherwise, whatever the state defines as right and true and good is right and true and good. There can be no appeal.

  79. Hi david ellis

    Yes, you’re right, I’m going to have to call BS on that one.

    Then you would be wrong. It is generally accepted that a man named Jesus of Nazareth lived and preached in Galilee and Judea in the 1st C. and that He was crucified by Pontius Pilate and that His followers believed that He rose from the dead. They hedge their bets with the conditional believed because they mostly do not believe in the resurrection of the dead, but there is virtually no credible historian that would dispute the broad outline of the Gospels.

    Do I trust their “expert” opinion? Not particularly, but I find it comforting to know that they no longer deny His existence. I have found other indications that lead me to accept the truth of the Gospels to a far greater degree than most of the “experts” will commit.

  80. Hmm.
    Hate to disagree here, my friends, but I think david ellis is right.

    Really? Most historical experts, including the atheist ones, “accept … that the best explanation is the one stated in the NT text”?

    I know there is an unbelieving Jewish scholar in Jerusalem who actually does accept the historical case for the Resurrection as well as the Crucifixion, empty tomb and appearances, but who doesn’t accept that Jesus is Messiah. But are there atheists who accept the Resurrection as the explanation of the facts?
    You’ve misread david, right?

    As an aside, it’s not only that most scholars think that the Disciples believed in the Resurrection, but that they believed in it because they believed that they had encountered the risen Lord.


  81. Then you would be wrong. It is generally accepted that a man named Jesus of Nazareth lived and preached in Galilee and Judea in the 1st C. and that He was crucified by Pontius Pilate and that His followers believed that He rose from the dead.

    Do you fail to notice that you’ve now changed the claim you were defending?

  82. Here’s something to ponder

    Why We Disagree About Climate Change
    By Mike Hulme
    Cambridge University Press, 2009
    432 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0521727327

    That the author, Mike Hulme, is a scientist who helped write the influential reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and many other government agencies makes this book even more disturbing.

    […]

    The notion that science can be determined by government agencies proclaiming to speak on behalf of entire scientific communities might be passively accepted in Old Europe, but it is jarring for an American reader. Opinion polls show two-thirds of us do not believe global warming is manmade, and more than 30,000 American scientists (including more than 9,000 with Ph.D.s) have signed a petition saying there is no convincing scientific evidence that human activity will cause catastrophic global warming.

    A group of scientists called the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) has produced an 880-page rebuttal of the latest IPCC report containing more than 4,000 references to peer-reviewed science. I edited that work.

    […]

    The real purpose of this book isn’t revealed until far into it. “The idea of climate change,” Hulme writes at page 326, “should be seen as an intellectual resource around which our collective and personal identities and projects can form and take shape. We need to ask not what we can do for climate change, but to ask what climate change can do for us.

    According to Hulme, climate change can do a lot: “Because the idea of climate change is so plastic, it can be deployed across many of our human projects and can serve many of our psychological, ethical, and spiritual needs.”

    In other words, socialists like Hulme can frame the global warming issue to achieve unrelated goals such as sustainable development, income redistribution, population control, social justice, and many other items on the liberal/socialist wishlist.

    […]

    These “myths,” he writes, “transcend the scientific categories of ‘true’ and ‘false’.” He suggests that his fellow global warming alarmists promote four myths, which he labels Lamenting Eden, Presaging Apocalypse, Constructing Babel, and Celebrating Jubilee.

    It is troubling to read a prominent scientist who has so clearly lost sight of his cardinal duty—to be skeptical of all theories and always open to new data. It is particularly troubling when this scientist endorses lying to advance his personal political agenda.

    Full review
    http://www.heartland.org/publications/environment%20climate/article/25786/Ask_Not_If_the_Science_of_Global_Warming_is_True_.html

  83. Here’s something to ponder

    Full review
    http://www.heartland.org/publications/environment%20climate/article/25786/Ask_Not_If_the_Science_of_Global_Warming_is_True_.html

    Why We Disagree About Climate Change
    By Mike Hulme
    Cambridge University Press, 2009
    432 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0521727327

    That the author, Mike Hulme, is a scientist who helped write the influential reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and many other government agencies makes this book even more disturbing.

    […]

    The notion that science can be determined by government agencies proclaiming to speak on behalf of entire scientific communities might be passively accepted in Old Europe, but it is jarring for an American reader. Opinion polls show two-thirds of us do not believe global warming is manmade, and more than 30,000 American scientists (including more than 9,000 with Ph.D.s) have signed a petition saying there is no convincing scientific evidence that human activity will cause catastrophic global warming.

    A group of scientists called the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) has produced an 880-page rebuttal of the latest IPCC report containing more than 4,000 references to peer-reviewed science. I edited that work.

    […]

    The real purpose of this book isn’t revealed until far into it. “The idea of climate change,” Hulme writes at page 326, “should be seen as an intellectual resource around which our collective and personal identities and projects can form and take shape. We need to ask not what we can do for climate change, but to ask what climate change can do for us.

    According to Hulme, climate change can do a lot: “Because the idea of climate change is so plastic, it can be deployed across many of our human projects and can serve many of our psychological, ethical, and spiritual needs.”

    In other words, socialists like Hulme can frame the global warming issue to achieve unrelated goals such as sustainable development, income redistribution, population control, social justice, and many other items on the liberal/socialist wishlist.

    […]

    These “myths,” he writes, “transcend the scientific categories of ‘true’ and ‘false’.” He suggests that his fellow global warming alarmists promote four myths, which he labels Lamenting Eden, Presaging Apocalypse, Constructing Babel, and Celebrating Jubilee.

    It is troubling to read a prominent scientist who has so clearly lost sight of his cardinal duty—to be skeptical of all theories and always open to new data. It is particularly troubling when this scientist endorses lying to advance his personal political agenda.

  84. Hello david ellis

    Do you fail to notice that you’ve now changed the claim you were defending?

    And what would you describe as the “the minimal facts surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection as being true and that the best explanation is the one stated in the NT text”?

  85. Can you really not see the difference between:

    “Most experts accept the minimal facts surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection as being true and that the best explanation is the one stated in the NT text…..Historical experts (including atheistic experts), not religious experts….”

    and

    “It is generally accepted that a man named Jesus of Nazareth lived and preached in Galilee and Judea in the 1st C. and that He was crucified by Pontius Pilate and that His followers believed that He rose from the dead.”

    The first accepts the NT account of the resurrection as probable fact and the second makes by far the lesser claim that his followers believed he rose from the dead.

    Nothing in what you said the second time implies that most biblical scholars think the NT account of the resurrection is probably accurate. They could believe some of his followers had visions, for example, rather than having physically encountered a risen Jesus.

    I’d like to see quotes from atheist historians consistent with the first of the stated claims. I suspect it will be difficult to find many (if any). Much less a majority.

  86. Dave, just a quick comment, I don’t have much time:

    Okay, for the sake of argument, I do not accept the opinion of experts at face value. I always check their opinions and read the contrary arguments. I think that is basic to making any informed decision. It was “experts” who placed the US in Viet Nam, it was “experts” who said Iraq had WMDs, it was “experts” who embroiled the US in Somalia and Lebanon with disastrous effect, it was “experts” who developed the Cold War MAD doctrine, it was “experts” who instigated the current economic crisis. Why would I blindly follow the advice of “experts”?

    You keep on going back and forth between whether there is a strong consensus, and what a lay person does when there is a strong consensus. Your examples above are examples in which there was not a strong consensus, merely that some experts had the power to implement their opinion. This, therefore, is about whether there is a strong consensus. My previous comments, that you have not responded to, assumed (for the time being) that there is a strong consensus. Unless I missed it, forgive me if I did.

  87. Hello david ellis

    Nothing in what you said the second time implies that most biblical scholars think the NT account of the resurrection is probably accurate. They could believe some of his followers had visions, for example, rather than having physically encountered a risen Jesus.

    If they did believe then they would most likely be Christians. The difficulty arises in reconciling their skepticism with the Biblical narrative and the historical influence. How can you reconcile the (quite literal) division of history, the reason for that division given in the New Testament, the historic influence of an itinerant Jewish rabbi, and your desire for autonomy?

    Christ literally sliced time in two, BC and AD – an undeniable fact about which modern atheists dissemble through the use of BCE [before common era] and CE [common era] in the forlorn hope that people will forget what is “common” to the division of time.

    The brute facts of history have demolished all efforts to to deny the existence of Jesus and His ministry in the 1st C. but skeptics still dissemble about the resurrection.

    There are probably few events in the gospels for which the historical evidence is more compelling than for the resurrection of Jesus. Historical-critical studies during the second half of this century, increasingly freed from the lingering Deistical presuppositions that largely determined in advance the results of resurrection research during the previous 150 years, have reversed the current of scepticism concerning the historical resurrection, such that the trend among scholars in recent years has been acceptance of the historical credibility of Jesus’s resurrection.

    Nevertheless, there is still one aspect of the resurrection that a great number of scholars simply cannot bring themselves to embrace: that Jesus was raised from the dead physically. The physicalism of the gospels’ portrayal of Jesus’s resurrection body accounts, I think, more than any other single factor for critical skepticism concerning the historicity of the gospel narratives of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Undoubtedly the prime example of this is Hans Grass’s classic Ostergeschehen and Osterberichte. {2} Inveighing against the ‘massiven Realismus’ of the gospel narratives, Grass brushes aside the appearance stories as thoroughly legendary and brings every critical argument he can summon against the empty tomb. Not that Grass would construe the resurrection, at least overtly, merely in terms of the survival of Jesus’s soul; he affirms a bodily resurrection, but the body is ‘spiritual’ in nature, as by the apostle Paul, not physical. Because the relation between the old, physical body and the new, spiritual body is totaliter- aliter, the resurrection entails, not an emptying of the tomb, but the creation of a new body. Because the body is spiritual, the appearances of Christ were in the form of heavenly visions caused by God in the minds of those chosen to receive them.

    http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/bodily.html

    For historians the resurrection story provides insight into Jesus’ followers…

    …and therefore, indirectly, into the leader who had forged these people into such a committed community. The idea of resurrection, the idea of the vindication of a righteous person, is something that again, is an element [in] a known catalog of elements that we can construct for Jewish apocalyptic hope. If Jesus hadn’t been talking about a Kingdom of God, if he hadn’t said anything about God triumphing over evil, it would really be miraculous to have his disciples suddenly be convinced that he himself had been raised. But they are convinced of that. In other words, the commitment to the belief that Jesus had been raised is the index of the apocalyptic commitment on the part of his followers. And in that sense, like looking in a rear view mirror, I think the resurrection stories, which are at the core of the proclamation of Christianity, the resurrection stories, give us an indirect view of what the historical Jesus would have been saying.”

    —L. Michael White, Professor of Classics and Director of the Religious Studies Program University of Texas at Austin[74]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resurrection_of_Jesus#Resurrection_appearances_of_Jesus

    He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” John 6:65

  88. Hello Jacob

    You keep on going back and forth between whether there is a strong consensus, and what a lay person does when there is a strong consensus. Your examples above are examples in which there was not a strong consensus, merely that some experts had the power to implement their opinion. This, therefore, is about whether there is a strong consensus. My previous comments, that you have not responded to, assumed (for the time being) that there is a strong consensus. Unless I missed it, forgive me if I did.

    I do think there was a “strong consensus” for the above examples. Politically, both Democrats and Republicans supported the policies and actions of MAD, Somalia, Lebannon, Viet Nam, and Iraq, and the economic practices of Wall Street. There was, and is, some dissent by those, such as myself, who think the “experts” are wrong, but they are a minority. Even the present government, which campaigned on the dissenting opinion has, in fact, retained the policies of the “experts”. The present government would “like” to withdraw from some of these commitments, but the “experts” have convinced them that any withdrawal would be disastrous.

    BTW, at least one of my responses didn’t post and I am waiting to see if it arives on the scene.

    BBTTWW

    You keep on going back and forth between whether there is a strong consensus, and what a lay person does when there is a strong consensus.

    Perhaps it is because I am no “respecter of persons” but I see no discernable reason to treat a theory differently if one person holds it or if a thousand people hold it. I will look at the arguments for myself, and determine which arguments, pro or con, are the soundest. I do not claim infallabilty, but I do not blindly accept any theory.


  89. Christ literally sliced time in two, BC and AD – an undeniable fact about which modern atheists dissemble through the use of BCE [before common era] and CE [common era] in the forlorn hope that people will forget what is “common” to the division of time.

    What conceivable bearing does the dating system of dominantly Christian societies have on this discussion?


    There are probably few events in the gospels for which the historical evidence is more compelling than for the resurrection of Jesus.

    Not a very high bar to jump considering we have so very little evidence for any of the specifically Christan claims in the Gospels (as opposed to, for example, the mere existence of Pontius Pilate and the like).


    Historical-critical studies during the second half of this century, increasingly freed from the lingering Deistical presuppositions that largely determined in advance the results of resurrection research during the previous 150 years, have reversed the current of scepticism concerning the historical resurrection, such that the trend among scholars in recent years has been acceptance of the historical credibility of Jesus’s resurrection.

    Again, how many of these scholars went into their studies of this subject already Christian? How many went into this field with the goal from the start of weighing in against the skepticism of scholars of the previous 150 years regarding the historicity of the Gospel stories? Not that I have any great regard for those scholars of the previous 150 years–most of whom, quite clearly, simply imposed their liberal/deist interpretation on Jesus.

    This goes right back to what I said previously regarding Koranic scholars.

    I don’t think we start even come close to a reasonable and reasonably unbiased approach to the question of the historical facts about Jesus until Schweitzer.

  90. Hi Dave,

    In other words, socialists like Hulme can frame the global warming issue to achieve unrelated goals such as sustainable development, income redistribution, population control, social justice, and many other items on the liberal/socialist wishlist.

    This is what James called the Moral Equivalent To War. You create a crisis and use it as a shield for pushing further governmental incursions.
    I think it was Emanual, in Obama’s administration who said of the housing market crash that the government must not let the crisis go to waste – that sweeping reforms can be instituted under its guise.
    One blatant example was when they tried to use the pork bill to increase funding for abortion. And then when Pelosi made two amazing claims. First, she claimed it was a legitimate stimulus measure because more dead babies would mean less wasted state money on childcare and health – thus, less tax expenditure. This bogus argument makes another point, though, which is quite sideways but telling. That is, that cutting spending and tax needs is a stimulus (she is actually stating that she recognizes the worth of a conservative argument – which she would never admit, I would guess, if she weren’t confused by trying to justify the abortion spending).

    By the way, you are talking with Paul and not Jacob.

  91. Hello david ellis

    Its easy to sit back and say “Show me the money!” and when it is shown say, “Nope! not enough! Show me some more!” Why don’t you “show me the money”? Something with a little more substance than “I don’t think…” How tiresome.

  92. Hi Charlie

    This bogus argument makes another point, though, which is quite sideways but telling. That is, that cutting spending and tax needs is a stimulus (she is actually stating that she recognizes the worth of a conservative argument – which she would never admit, I would guess, if she weren’t confused by trying to justify the abortion spending).

    Interesting point, I hadn’t thought of that.

  93. The first accepts the NT account of the resurrection as probable fact and the second makes by far the lesser claim that his followers believed he rose from the dead.

    The difference isn’t that large. Yes, I put it in stronger terms, but atheistic experts agree the text is reliable because it meets all their criteria. Well, what does it mean to say a text is reliable? It certainly doesn’t mean they think it false. As historians, they would have to make that distinction, but they don’t. It is only their personal, non-expert, opinion that gets them to consider that which there is no historical evidence for.

  94. continuing…it would be like a judge saying a witnesses is reliable, based on the criteria for reliability, while rejecting their testimony on grounds that it didn’t meet some OTHER criteria for reliability.

  95. I haven’t read all of the intervening comments, but allow me, quickiy:

    Opinion polls show two-thirds of us do not believe global warming is manmade, and more than 30,000 American scientists (including more than 9,000 with Ph.D.s) have signed a petition saying there is no convincing scientific evidence that human activity will cause catastrophic global warming.

    Every, every, every, SINGLE time global warming deniers support their case with number of scientists who dispute it, it is never *climatologists,* it’s always the generic scientists. It’s an absolutely crucial point. I wonder how many of those denier scientists would agree to overturn a strong consensus of scientists in their field because of thousands of scientists in other fields disagree. Not many at all, I’d wager.

  96. Hi Dave,
    Thanks for that link. For a paragraph or two I couldn’t tell for sure why you had linked it.
    You are a quick and accurate study.

    Now I admit to being a chaotic and sometimes unclear writer, but much of this is so applicable to what I have faced and tired of on the blogs.

    Communication suffers in this culture of moral and intellectual relativism, where standards, like the coin of the realm, are debased.

    Reality becomes virtual. [we might even be brains in vats – for real]
    Hard true thought—the primal condition of writing—which can be offensive, difficult, and unpopular, is rendered by academe in language of such bureaucratic opacity that, it is hoped, no one will be able to penetrate it, to discover that it is hollow, that Nero is wearing no clothes. Reality is euphemized, extenuated, attenuated, temporized, dishonored.

    Hairsplitting becomes more important than getting anywhere.

    They are afraid of putting on plain display their biases, the ordinariness of their minds and spirits, so they take cover in jargon.

    I actually had abandoned an attempt to convey much of this to you privately as a warning about where you might end up if you continued.

  97. Hi Paul,

    Every, every, every, SINGLE time global warming deniers support their case with number of scientists who dispute it, it is never *climatologists,* it’s always the generic scientists

    False. Read the links.
    These are the very people who used to provide the data used to claim warming. In some cases they are the very ones cited in the bogus 1000+ IPCC scientists (every one who worked on a paper referenced is counted as supporting the IPCC finding – but many have come out and said they are not) claim.

    You’ve never researched anything else you use to back up your claims, so don’t start now.

  98. By the way, Paul, it’s been about a year again. Have you researched the question yet, or are you still too uninformed to have an opinion, as to whether or not the universe had a beginning? What’s the scientific consensus?

  99. Hi Paul

    I must say, I’m very gratified to learn you are not just another ideologue spouting the “party line” in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It gets so tiresome reading talking points. It’s so rare to find another layman ready to challenge the dogma of so-called “experts follow the evidence wherever it may lead, even if the result is philosophically unpalatable. You exhibit great strength of character and independence of mind.

  100. Hi Charlie

    I actually had abandoned an attempt to convey much of this to you privately as a warning about where you might end up if you continued.

    Thanks Charlie. I am well aware of the irrational dogmatism of the village atheist. “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools…” Romans 1:22 Still, it forces me to confront my own beliefs and test them against pop-culture.


  101. Yes, I put it in stronger terms, but atheistic experts agree the text is reliable because it meets all their criteria.

    Could you point me to some examples?

  102. I can’t but you as a layman might be able to. Remember that we are deferring to the experts who understand the details.

  103. Can’t edit on my handheld so that first sentence should be “I can’t”, and no more. Dang handheld!

  104. SteveK, do I understand you correctly? You don’t actually know of any atheist biblical scholars or historians who take the position you claimed they do?

  105. Hi Paul

    Wikipedia is not bad, but why not go directly to the the horse’s mouth and read what the “dissenters” (or perhaps I should call them “free-thinkers”) have to say for themselves?

    http://www.petitionproject.org/

    Outlined below are the numbers of Petition Project signatories, subdivided by educational specialties. These have been combined, as indicated, into seven categories.

    1. Atmospheric, environmental, and Earth sciences includes 3,803 scientists trained in specialties directly related to the physical environment of the Earth and the past and current phenomena that affect that environment.

    2. Computer and mathematical sciences includes
    935 scientists trained in computer and mathematical methods. Since the human-caused global warming hypothesis rests entirely upon mathematical computer projections and not upon experimental observations, these sciences are especially important in evaluating this hypothesis.

    3. Physics and aerospace sciences include 5,810 scientists trained in the fundamental physical and molecular properties of gases, liquids, and solids, which are essential to understanding the physical properties of the atmosphere and Earth.

    4. Chemistry includes 4,818 scientists trained in the molecular interactions and behaviors of the substances of which the atmosphere and Earth are composed.

    5. Biology and agriculture includes 2,964 scientists trained in the functional and environmental requirements of living things on the Earth.

    6. Medicine includes 3,046 scientists trained in the functional and environmental requirements of human beings on the Earth.

    7. Engineering and general science includes 10,102 scientists trained primarily in the many engineering specialties required to maintain modern civilization and the prosperity required for all human actions, including environmental programs.

    Or better yet, read the full report for yourself;
    http://www.nipccreport.org/frontmatter.html

    Of course, you should read the reasoning of the dogmatists as well.

    http://www.ipcc.ch/

    and come to your own decision about the validity of the different prognoses.

  106. Hello david ellis

    Thursday, July 5, 2007
    Part 1: Did the Resurrection Happen?

    James Crossley has a wonderful post taking on N.T. Wright’s polemic against him. It is too long to quote, as it N.T. Wright, so take a look here at the banter.

    For what my two cents might be worth on this topic, I insist that whether or not the resurrection actually happened, is not a question that needs to concern historians for several reasons.

    1. Because of biology. Dead bodies remain dead. They are not physically brought back from the dead after three days, two days, one day, or otherwise. It is a theological argument to say otherwise, and it can never be made into anything other than a theological argument.

    2. If a historian studying any other person than Jesus made the claim that such-and-such person came back from the dead, what would we think of that historian? Especially if the reason to believe such a claim was because many people say they witnessed it and were willing to die for it? How many people are willing to die for things they think have happened, are happening, or will happen? This doesn’t mean they have happened, are happening, or will happen. It means that human beings believe all kinds of things that didn’t or can’t happen, even to the point of dying for that belief. This is a psychological issue, not a historical one. By the way, in case we should forget, there were a lot of Christians who were not willing to die for their beliefs and opposed those who did.

    3. I think we are asking the wrong question, and getting bogged down (yet again) in theology. What matters for the historical study of early Christianity is that the early Christians thought/believed/promoted/remembered/taught that Jesus had risen, not whether it “really” happened. It is the belief that is foundational to understand the early Christian movement. It tells us that it was an apocalyptic movement with strong eschatological factors, including the belief that Jesus’ resurrection had begun the events of the last days – he had inaugurated the general resurrection (i.e. Matthew’s wonderful story of the holy men and women in Jerusalem, and Paul’s comment that he was the “first” to rise).

    In other words, if we grant that “something” happened, that some of the early Christians experienced something, they went on to interpret it according to their Jewish expectations and traditions at hand. If we don’t grant this, then we have to say they made it up, which I am less likely to think given what I have studied about religious experiences and the hermeneutical processes that follow such experiences. I continue to make detailed studies of human memory – both individual and collective – as well as the processes by which stories are created and spread within an environment dominated by an oral consciousness. All of this scientific data – if studied without theological blinders – supports the fact that stories and memories about things does not mean that the thing as it is told or interpreted actually happened the way it was told or interpreted (or happened at all)!

    4. If some early Christians experienced something (after-death dream? visions? or some other naturalistic possibility?), what it meant was NOT immediately the same for all of them. Not all of them thought it was a physical-material body that they encountered. Luke tells us that some thought it was a ghost, but not him – Luke has Jesus eat a piece of fish to prove Luke’s own belief in the physicality of Jesus’ resurrection and to polemicize against the ghost interpretation. John does not tell us that it was a physical body, at least not the same one Jesus had before his death. It may have had some corporeality (which spiritual bodies were thought to have – see Tertullian on this), but it was also a body that could walk through walls! Paul opts for a spiritual body, not a material one, as the resurrected body, a point that later Christian Gnostics like the Valentinians point out and develop. The fleshly interpretation is one that eventually came to dominate and win the day, but it took almost two centuries for that to happen.

    http://forbiddengospels.blogspot.com/2007/07/did-resurrection-happen.html

    So david ellis

    The historical facts are rather well supported, the ideology makes it impossible to believe them, so they invent an unwarranted mythological process. The books of the New Testament were all written between @ 40 AD and 95 AD at the maximum and there is reasonable evidence that all the NT books except Revelation were written before 70 AD. No time for the growth of a mythology… too many living witnesses.

    Still waiting for you to “show me the money” on your side…

    Dave

  107. david ellis,
    Bart Ehrman – and according to Habermas 20+ others referenced in his book. They all agree on the relative dating/timeline and reliability of many key Epistles, otherwise they would just come out and say none of them are reliable and therefore we can’t trust them as historical documents.

    They do trust them, but they disagree with the truth of certain cherry-picked content. To me that’s like saying, I think yesterday’s newspaper is a reliable document but I don’t believe what is says on Page 1A.

    What arguments do critics give for not believing the truth value of the cherry-picked content? I submit to you that they use arguments that have nothing to do with being an historical scholar, or they violate their own scholarly criteria for reliability in order to use a historical document to argue against the truth value of the content.

    Next time do your own homework.


  108. They all agree on the relative dating/timeline and reliability of many key Epistles…

    Reliability in what sense? That some of them were actually written by the person that they are attributed to and accurately reflect what he wrote?

    A far smaller claim than the one you started out with.

    What is this? The incredible shrinking argument?

  109. And that what he wrote is historically accurate to the extent that Ehrman can determine/verify. Where he can’t determine/verify – and I’m talking specifically about the resurrection – Ehrman drums up arguments like the one’s I talked about.

    My understanding is there are also Jewish scholars who have concluded Jesus rising from the dead is an actual historical event according to scholarly criteria.

  110. Dave, I’m still busy, so I can only do a little right now:

    One issue is determining how strong a consensus there is for global warming. Would climatologists think that even some ” Atmospheric, environmental, and Earth scien[tists]” not be qualified to weigh in? Do other disciplines do the same?

    Also, numbers of scientists or climatologists expressing skepticism doesn’t mean much except as a rough percentage, and that information hasn’t appeared yet, to my knowledge.

    Or, are there problems with trying to gauge a consensus by merely looking at the numbers of scientists on either side? Maybe not.

    I contend that all the other scientists on the list do not mean much.

    There is still the issue of what a layperson does when there is a strong consensus. We still disagree on that: you, I think, would feel qualified to potentially decided the issue on your own, while I am skeptical of my (anyone’s) ability to get up to speed in a technical discipline.

  111. Paul, do you know what a climatologist is? Have you even Googled “what is a climatologist”?
    Try Googling “climatologists skeptical global warming” and read several (yes, several) of the
    pages you get. See if “environmental, atmospheric, and Earth scientists” aren’t, in fact, climatologists. See if even TV weathermen (like the ones who say GW doubters should be stripped of their licenses) aren’t climatologists. Even a layman should do a little work to know what he’s talking about.

  112. Hi Paul

    I contend that all the other scientists on the list do not mean much.

    I agree. Counting noses is not how science is done. One produces one’s evidence and it stands or falls on its merits. Consensus science (if I may call it that) is nothing more than a dogmatic attempt to shut down debate… i.e. it is anti-science in the truest sense.

    There is still the issue of what a layperson does when there is a strong consensus.

    Have you ever watched the prosecution and defense play “duelling experts” in a courtroom. That travesty alone should teach you never to take an “expert” at face value. Simply counting noses tells you absolutely nothing about the quality of the argument, it only tells you how many people share an opinion, it will never, never, tell you if the opinion is true.

    We still disagree on that:

    We do if you are still asserting that we should accept the media driven hype about consensus. There is not doubt that the consensus of “experts” is non-existent and that a substantial minority, if not a majority, of “experts” have renounced AGW or ACC (whatever they are calling it now).

    you, I think, would feel qualified to potentially decided the issue on your own,

    Paul, I am not “deciding the issue on my own” in any other sense than that I am stating my personal opinion on the quality of the arguments produced by the experts on both sides of the question. Whether I accept AGW or not will have little effect on the actions of my or your government regarding AGW unless you or I manage to influence public opinion to a substantial degree. The only way either of us may accomplish that task is by using sound arguments to encourage other people to consider our respective positions.

    while I am skeptical of my (anyone’s) ability to get up to speed in a technical discipline.

    First, it isn’t necessary to “get up to speed in a technical discipline” to evaluate an argument.

    Second, whether you or I accept or reject that argument we are making an evaluation of the argument. The question is, are we judging the argument on its own merits.

    Third, if an argument is based upon flawed premises, draws a faulty conclusion, or resorts to flawed reasoning then it should be rejected.

    Forth, consensus has nothing to do with the quality of an argument. If every person in the world but one believed that the world is flat that would not make the world flat. Every person in the world but one would be wrong.

  113. The consensus among experts used to be that they could walk from the room where they had just performed an autopsy directly into another room to deliver a baby without washing their hands and that there would be no ill effects.
    Even a layman can imagine, I’m sure, that if he were presented with the evidence that correlated hand-washing with decreased deaths, and was given a decent theory to explain the correlation, then he could form a valid opinion contrary to the expert consensus.

    Somebody like Paul, so skeptical that he doesn’t even accept math without verifying it by counting apples in a bag, would be expected to go beyond television news and Al Gore before accepting a consensus on something as hypothetical as man-made global warming.

    Funny how selective that ‘hyper-skepticism’ switch becomes given the source of the arguments and their fit to a pre-conceived world-view.

  114. Dave, we still disagree about whether science forms a consensus to reach its conclusions. Let me try a new approach:

    The number of scientists who agree with a conclusion is not a substantive issue in reaching that conclusion – for instance, for the purely physical sciences, it is the empirical data that are the substance of a scientific question. I think you’ll agree with that.

    But science still uses consensus to form its conclusions in a broader sense. Replicating an experiment can be seen as a form of consensus. And what happens when only 3% of scientists running an experiment reach conclusion A and 97% reach conclusion not-A? Or 20/80%? Or 1/99%? The smaller the consensus, the greater impetus there is to delve further into the experiment and see what currently unknown factor might be driving divergent results. The larger the consensus, the more secure the scientists are that their conclusion is correct, and eventually they are correct (not in an absolute sense, but in a “for all intents and purposes” sense). That’s how consensus works in science.

    The prosecution and defense in a trial is not a good analogy for a strong scientific consensus at all. In a trial, the prosecution and defense are (appropriately)treated equally for reasons other than the correctness of their arguments.

    stating my personal opinion on the quality of the arguments produced by the experts on both sides of the question

    is exactly what I meant when I said that you are deciding on your own (as opposed to accepting the opinion of a strong consensus).

    First, it isn’t necessary to “get up to speed in a technical discipline” to evaluate an argument.

    OK, evaluate this argument: “Mozart’s use of the tritone substitute doesn’t different significantly from Louis Armstrong’s.” Your idea here seems so easy to rebut that I fear I must have misunderstood it.

    I won’t be at a computer for the rest of the day.


  115. And that what he wrote is historically accurate to the extent that Ehrman can determine/verify. Where he can’t determine/verify – and I’m talking specifically about the resurrection – Ehrman drums up arguments like the one’s I talked about.

    What claims does he think we can determine the historical accuracy of? Things like the existence of Pontius Pilate? There’s little in those books, other than basic context of the time period being spoken of, that would be verifiable.

    And the fact that a book makes reasonable and quite ordinary claims like the existence of certain prominent political leaders of the time in no way means we should be an iota less skeptical of the more extraordinary claims made in the text.

    Is there a single extraordinary claim in the books that he regards as probably factual?

    And what of claims historians generally think probably didn’t happen (a good example would be Herod’s slaughter of the infants—for which we have no historical evidence outside the NT despite there being a considerable amount written about Herod by historians contemporary with him)?


    My understanding is there are also Jewish scholars who have concluded Jesus rising from the dead is an actual historical event according to scholarly criteria.

    Feel free to elaborate on that.

  116. Paul,
    That’s an historical question, not a scientific one. It’s a subjective statement, not an objective statement. It is one man’s opinion, not an argument. It presents one side and not the other. Where are the dissenting opinions?
    It has nothing to do with the case presented.

    What is it supposed to mean anyway? Where’s the data? What’s the argument? Do they both resolve it a half step? If so then in what other way could their uses be different? If one uses it more frequently than the other is that considered to be a different use? If one more often uses it in chromatic sequence would that be a different use? How about use as a dominant or subdominant function?

    If this is your idea of a useful example, much less a rebuttal, you have, indeed, misread the argument.
    You can’t say “blue is nice” and expect somebody to “evaluate” your claim.

  117. Is there a single extraordinary claim in the books that he regards as probably factual?

    Even Ehrman agrees that the disciples thought they saw Jesus alive after the third day.
    This is pretty extraordinary – since He had been Crucified.

    Skeptics agree that Jesus was a worker of miracles. Now this is not unique, but it certainly isn’t ordinary. If it were, why would He have thousands of people following Him around?

    They agree that Jesus’ body was missing and the tomb empty and that the officials had no way to refute the claim that He had risen.

    And the fact that a book makes reasonable and quite ordinary claims like the existence of certain prominent political leaders of the time in no way means we should be an iota less skeptical of the more extraordinary claims made in the text.

    Skeptics can only admit this now because the gaps are disappearing. It used to be fashionable to claim Jesus never lived, that Luke got all his history wrong, that the Gospel writers were so late and removed from Jerusalem that they got the cities and geography wrong, that there was no Pontius Pilate, etc.
    Proving the reliability of the Gospels in terms of these historical objections (witness your own argument from lack of evidence re the slaughter of the innocents … notice how every claim that is not explicitly proven by extra-Biblical testimony is considered by some to be false until proven true – even a rather mundane claim that the brutal, likely insane, certainly paranoid and murderous Herod would have ordered the deaths of a few to a couple dozen children) doesn’t prove they are reliable in matters of theological significance, but it certainly shows that the writers were not making things up wholesale, adds credence to the claim that they were honestly relating the events as they knew them, and punches holes in the skeptic’s previous objections.

    captcha – nervous paratroopers

  118. Hello Paul

    OK, evaluate this argument: “Mozart’s use of the tritone substitute doesn’t different significantly from Louis Armstrong’s.” Your idea here seems so easy to rebut that I fear I must have misunderstood it.

    Okay Paul, I must tell you that I am a complete dolt when it comes to music. I cannot play, I cannot sing, I cannot read music, and I know little (but not nothing) about the history of music. Without opening a book, only searching the web, for what appears to be a rather obscure topic (trick question?), I have come to the conlusion that;

    A. Your grammar is atrocious “Mozart’s use of the tritone substitute [substitution] doesn’t different [differ] significantly from Louis Armstrong’s.”

    B. That there is likely a significant difference in the usage.

    C. That Mozart may not have used it all, or if he did, he used it rarely.

    D. The the tritone substitution is a staple of jazz music and was used liberally by Armstrong and other jazz musicians.

    Tritones are significant because of their ability to create a heavy, uncomfortable dissonance. It’s so uncomfortable, in fact, that it has been referred to as the devil’s interval and was strongly discouraged during the Baroque period — a time when the pleasing sound of perfect fifths ruled the day. But despite its rather nasty stigma, the tritone has the power to be pleasing and even somewhat consonant when used correctly. Because it’s one of the most moody and easily personified intervals, the tritone is frequently used to foreshadow a heavy resolution.

  119. Expert Opinion #1:
    “Mozart’s use of the tritone substitute doesn’t different significantly from Louis Armstrong’s.”

    To be fair, this argument calls for two opinions.

    Counter Expert:
    This is a trick question (because Louis Armstrong never used the tritone substitution – not even under the name of any variety of augmented 6 chords) and the assertion is false.
    1) The consensus of music historians writing on neither Louis Armstrong nor Mozart make this claim
    2) The tritone sub did not enter jazz music until the 1940s
    3) When it did enter jazz it was used almost exclusively in descending chromatic lines of three or more chords and Mozart always used it exclusively in dominant function leading to the tonic.

  120. Thanks Steve,
    I think it must have been Lapide I was thinking about. But you’re right, there are probably more. But how rare – a person who has realized by historical and rational analysis that Jesus lived, was Crucified, was buried and Resurrected – but hasn’t become a Christian. That incredible turn of events virtually guarantees there will not be many like Lapide.

  121. True story.
    Last year the experts at Chrysler told me that I needed a new clutch. Even though I’d not had it inspected, replaced or repaired, and only once had it been reset, I told them they were wrong.
    I know next to nothing about cars and there was a consensus of experts against me, from the mechanics to the foreman to the transmission”specialist” to the managers.
    They insisted I needed a new clutch.

    Was I wrong?
    How could I be? I had just taken my car in for regular maintenance, including servicing of the manual tranny and when I went to pick it up a barely noticeable problem, which I’d reported several times over the life of the car and which i was repeatedly told did not exist, was suddenly magnified to the point that nobody could deny it.
    The entire crew now admitted that the shifting was faulty and that the problem was obvious.
    But a clutch, I argued, doesn’t wear out over night. And a clutch isn’t slightly worn out from the purchase of a car and then, four years later, suddenly go from sort of noticeably off to absolutely worn out.
    So I told them it wasn’t the clutch.

    My reasoning was sound and the experts were wrong.
    They replaced the clutch and the problem didn’t go away.
    The layman, with proper reasoning and good arguments, had been right.

  122. The layman, with proper reasoning and good arguments, had been right.

    I’ve sorta been playing along with Paul’s “experts know best” argument in hope of making a point about how the layman can reason alongside the expert and reasonably stand in judgement of the expert.

    Think of the countless stories you’ve heard (perhaps your own story) where people just knew the doctors had the wrong diagnosis. Some people know things about their bodies better than any doctor could.

    A think a necessary part of the proper reasoning of the layman is the explanation behind the arguments of the experts. They need to know how the experts arrived at their conclusion. Does that reasoning make sense?

    Reasoning doesn’t require expertise of any kind, just good information and clear thinking. An informed layman is fully capable of pointing out the flawed thinking (or bias) of an expert.

  123. Speaking of experts…

    Dark energy may not actually exist, scientists claim

    Dark energy – the mysterious substance thought to make up three-quarters of the universe – may not actually exist, claims new research.

    By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent
    Published: 7:00AM BST 18 Aug 2009

    The concept of dark energy was created by cosmologists to fit Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity into reality after modern space telescopes discovered that the Universe was not behaving as it should.

    According to Einstein’s work, the speed at which the Universe is expanding following the Big Bang should be slower than it actually is and this unexplained anomaly threatened to turn the whole theory upside down. In order to reconcile this problem the concept of dark energy was invented.

    But now Blake Temple and Joel Smoller, mathematicians at the University of California and the University of Michigan, believe they have come up with a whole new set of calculations that allow for all the sums to add up without the need for this controversial substance.

    The research could change the way astronomers view the composition of our Universe.

    The Standard Model of Cosmology, which describes the evolution of the Universe, begins with the Big Bang. Astronomers have recently observed that the galaxies are accelerating as they move away from each other, and cosmologists have sought to explain this unexpected acceleration by introducing the concept of dark energy, which permeates space, propels matter, and accounts for nearly 75 percent of the mass-energy in our Universe.

    The new research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, is likely to be equally controversial as the work it purports to challenge especially as it relies on our galaxy being at the centre of the Universe – a concept that has been generally disregarded in modern science.

    Dr Malcom Fairbairn, particle cosmologist at King’s College London, said: “Ever since the concept of dark energy was first mentioned people have been trying to explain it or explain it away. It is a mystery and an inconvenience.

    “This is one attempt at it. Whether it is right only time will tell.” [bold added]

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/6043414/Dark-energy-may-not-actually-exist-scientists-claim.html

    I have been watching this “dark energy” story develop for several years. I first leaned of it on an astronomy program describing an experiment where two sets of astronomers independently analyzed red shift data collected by the Hubble telescope. Both groups arrived at the same conclusion and each thought they had made a mistake. However, when they compared notes they realized that they had analyzed the data correctly. Unfortunately the result contradicted the predictions of the Big Bang theory. One of the lead scientists described the conundrum by saying, “It appears there is some kind of pushy stuff between the stars.” and remember thinking to myself that next time I hear about this they will have invented a name for the “pushy stuff.”

    Sure enough the next thing I hear is that “dark energy” has been discovered, although it can’t be observed or described. Dark Energy satisfactorily solved a minor complication in the Big Bang theory.

    This is not an isolated incident. There are several difficulties with the Big Bang cosmology which have been “solved” by inventing hypotheticals. Dark matter is the other big one, invented to explain why the galaxies haven’t flown apart because of centrifugal force. It appears that calculations of galactic mass vs. galactic spin demonstrated that the galaxies were unstable and centrifugal force of the spin rate should have caused the stars in the galaxies to fly off into space. Therefore there must be some sort of material [sticky stuff?] holding them together. This material [sticky stuff?] was named “dark matter” in the time honoured superstition that by naming something we understand what it is.

    http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/science/mysteries_l1/dark_energy.html

    http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/science/know_l2/dark_matter.html

    Who’s afraid of big bad science? Not me! I find it fascinating… not to mention amusing.

  124. Thanks, Dave. Interesting theory even if I’m in no position to agree or disagree. I giggled a bit when I read this.

    “it relies on our galaxy being at the centre of the Universe – a concept that has been generally disregarded in modern science.”

    Imagine the fallout.

    “This material [sticky stuff?] was named “dark matter” in the time honoured superstition that by naming something we understand what it is.

    The ID movement should have learned from this. Instead of ID, they should have called it something fanciful like Superior Energy.

  125. Any example of experts being wrong doesn’t disprove me. Experts can be wrong, or course. But how many times have laypeople thought experts were wrong and they weren’t wrong? You can answer that by just saying how many time experts were really wrong.

    Which is (far) more likely: experts or laypeople being right? Wouldn’t one’s general tendency be to trust the experts unless one knows for sure that one can be competent?

    Dave, you didn’t answer my question about a layperson questioning something you, as a mechanical expert, know is correct.

  126. Hi Paul

    Any example of experts being wrong doesn’t disprove me. Experts can be wrong, or course. But how many times have laypeople thought experts were wrong and they weren’t wrong? You can answer that by just saying how many time experts were really wrong.

    I don’t think I ever claimed that experts were always wrong, I have merely asserted that we, as free persons with intellects, should evaluate the claims of experts for ourselves rather than simply accepting their pronouncements as authoritative. Quite often I will cite how one expert disputes the finding of another expert. So I am using the pronouncements of experts myself.

    For example, to answer your challenge above I went seeking expert opinion on the question. I have no idea if my response was correct, or whether the experts I cite are correct in their opinion. Given both the strictures of music (i.e. the failure of a-tonal unmusic and the persistence of the traditional scale [I think that’s correct]) there will be gross similarities in musical composition while, within the confines of those strictures, there is room for individual expression and innovation. So the conclusions I drew are plausible if not accurate.

    In the case of AGW I find the hypotheses of the experts prediction the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it unconvincing. That doesn’t mean that I am correct and they are wrong, it merely means their arguments are unconvincing. If they wish to convince me they should engage my objections and offer substantive rebuttals rather than engage in a PR campaign aimed at generating fear and demonizing opposition.

    Which is (far) more likely: experts or laypeople being right? Wouldn’t one’s general tendency be to trust the experts unless one knows for sure that one can be competent?

    The experts are far more likely to be correct. My method, when making inquiries on any subject, is to seek expert opinion. Even within my areas of competence their are gaps in my knowledge, and I would suggest to you that every expert suffers the same limitation. Wo when making inquiries I seek more than one opinion, compare the opinions I discover, and evaluate them on their merits keeping in mind the (vey real) limitations of my own competence in that discipline.

    Dave, you didn’t answer my question about a layperson questioning something you, as a mechanical expert, know is correct.

    A situation which arises, perhaps, more often than you might think. A customer will come in start to diagnose his own problem for me, or tell how his neighbor “George” knows all about this and told him what he needs. I listen politely, ask him several questions, examine the vehicle, and then either confirm the customer’s diagnosis or offer my own diagnosis as an alternative. I will, wheneve possible, use props and diagrams to help the customer visualize what I am saying. If the customer even looks as if he doubts my diagnosis I suggest that he seek a second opinion.

    The way I figure it, I am better of losing a customer than trying to sell him something he is resisting because he doesn’t understand it. Of course, most customers simply accept my expert opinion and aren’t interested in learning the reasons, but the ones who are curious will get an explanation.

  127. Dark energy/matter was always questionable, never having been seen or anything.
    IT was funny that in about 2002, just as credit was being given for “discovering” it the idea was also coming out that it was not necessary.

    This one caught my eye this spring. It is from Nature.

    The simplest class of solution to those [relativism] equations, that on which the concordance model is based, assumes that matter is distributed both homogeneously (everything is similar in all regions of space) and isotropically (everything looks the same in all directions). That assumption is consistent with observations, but it is not a direct consequence of them. It is the favoured solution both because it is the simplest and because it rests on a cherished cosmological assumption. This is the ‘copernican principle’: that the characteristics of the Universe in our neighbourhood are not special in any way, but are typical of the whole.
    A cherished assumption this might be, but it is also fundamentally untested. It is consistent with the supernova observations, but only provided that some form of dark energy is present. The central plank of the new research is the claim that, by jettisoning the copernican principle and our assumptions about the distribution of matter in the Universe, we can also abandon the troublesome chimaera of dark energy.

    It may be that such observations are trying to tell us that there is something fundamentally wrong in our assumptions; and that the acceleration conundrum could have a geometric, rather than a dynamic, solution.

  128. Hi SteveK

    Imagine the fallout.

    You have no idea…

    http://creationwiki.org/Creation_cosmology

    Either the paper will be ignored in the hope that it dies a quiet death or the authors will be slammed as closet creationists. As far as I can tell, with my limited understanding of physics and mathematics, both the standard Big Bang and the White Hole cosmologies have difficulties as explanatory models, but anything which hints their is a “special place” (i.e. a center) in the universe is anathema to materialism.

  129. Hi Paul

    Here is an example of why I do not trust media reports about global warming / climate change. The example shown is a “liberal” political report but I am not so naive as to think such deceptive strategies are deployed by the “conservative” media or by any other ideological group. I just happened to find this example on the Web.

    Watch the first video, and pay particular attention to the clothing of the man with the gun.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYKQJ4-N7LI&feature=player_embedded

    Now watch the second video and pay particular attention to the clothing of the man with the gun.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7syx26QtQIM&feature=player_embedded

    It is the same man.

  130. Dave, let me start with your last comment.

    I highly respect and admire the skeptical approach you take with those two videos, and I completely agree with you. If that was the same (black) guy, the media needed to report that fact, as it would be crucial for their larger point about racism and dangers to Obama.

    Now, a separate question is, is it the same guy? It sure looks like it, but (and you may think this is a small point) the *belt loops* on his pants are not aligned to his body the same way in the two videos. Is that enough to conclude it isn’t the same person? I dunno. If only there was an expert we could consult.

    ; )

    More later.

  131. Don’t look at pictures, either.
    http://zombietime.com/reuters_photo_fraud/

    I went looking for a series I remembered where a man with a red ball cap is seen sifting through rubble in the aftermath of an Israel attack on Lebanon.
    Amazingly, red cap man is also photographed dead among that rubble.

    I didn’t find him on Google but found green cap man (scroll way down) pulling the same stunt.

  132. david ellis,
    I was browsing this page, and thought of our discussion about scholarly critics and the resurrection. Here is a statement by Habermas from that page.

    “another indirect move is to respond with the agnostic plea that we do not know what occurred. The disciples indeed believed that they saw Jesus, but we cannot determine a cause. This fence-straddling approach is very difficult to maintain, since one must dodge many factual considerations, when just one might cause the thesis to topple.”

    Scholarly critics accept the bolded statement as historical truth based on certain scholarly criteria. You correctly say that believing something occured is different than it actually occuring. Okay, so how does the critical expert determine if Jesus actually appeared to the disciples after the resurrection?

    Well, before getting to the question of Jesus’ appearance as actual historical truth you must ask this question: what criteria did the critical scholar use to conclude that the bolded statement actually occured?

    Sure, it’s in the biblical text and it was recorded elsewhere in history at a later date (just as the resurrection was), but maybe the disciples never actually believed they saw Jesus. Why does the critical scholar accept this as historical truth and not the appearance of Jesus after the resurrection? Answer: a priori baggage.

    If you think I’m wrong, explain why.

  133. I’m a little encouraged and discouraged from continuing the global warming expert conversation.

    I’m encouraged because both Dave and I moved a bit toward each other’s position about experts: he said experts were sometimes right, and i said they were sometimes wrong. A good discussion will sometimes moderate what seems to be an absolute position and the parties find that they are not that far apart on some things.

    I’m discouraged because, in order to really continue the conversation, I find that I would need to go back and re-read the whole thread, pick out the positions of both Dave and I, and follow each sub-thread through. I’m not sure I’m up for that, and it makes me wish for my old idea of keeping an outline as we go on some complex issue.

    So, I’ll try it one more time: Dave, would you be willing to contribute to a Google Document that you and I would both edit in which we would outline all the sub-issues and arguments pro and con about global warming experts? If yes, let me know and I”ll get it set up initially and let you know about getting in on it if you’re not familiar with it (or you can go check it out on Google).

  134. Hi Paul

    I’m thinking. I’m not sure if I want to put in the time, but I don’t have a whole lot else to do. Climate Change is something I looked at a few years ago and have since set aside. Here are a couple of letters to the editor I wrote. The first is just about materialism in general, the other three are about climate/environment. (I had to try out googledocs and see what it is. I didn’t us a template or any special formatting, just straight text)

    http://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0Ad1KSjZws_wwZGZwcnI2cm5fM2N0cHY0a2hn&hl=en

    http://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0Ad1KSjZws_wwZGZwcnI2cm5fMWd3ZGJjZmdn&hl=en

    http://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0Ad1KSjZws_wwZGZwcnI2cm5fMGd0NzZrY25i&hl=en

    http://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0Ad1KSjZws_wwZGZwcnI2cm5fMmRucG5zZmhn&hl=en


  135. “The disciples indeed believed that they saw Jesus…”

    Scholarly critics accept the bolded statement as historical truth based on certain scholarly criteria. You correctly say that believing something occured is different than it actually occuring. Okay, so how does the critical expert determine if Jesus actually appeared to the disciples after the resurrection?

    Well, before getting to the question of Jesus’ appearance as actual historical truth you must ask this question: what criteria did the critical scholar use to conclude that the bolded statement actually occured?

    Sure, it’s in the biblical text and it was recorded elsewhere in history at a later date (just as the resurrection was), but maybe the disciples never actually believed they saw Jesus. Why does the critical scholar accept this as historical truth and not the appearance of Jesus after the resurrection? Answer: a priori baggage.

    If you think I’m wrong, explain why.

    Again, I note how the original claim you made has shrunk massively.

    There is nothing the least bit implausible in the idea that the disciples “saw” Jesus in some sense (religious visions are not that unusual).

    The claim that the disciples encountered a physically risen Jesus is orders of magnitude more extraordinary.

    Obviously, more extraordinary claims require more evidence than more commonplace ones (its well established that people can have religionous visions; its not so well established that miracles occur).

    Even if one accepts that miracles are possible, they are still very rare and require far more evidence than less extraordinary claims—just because one believes in psychics, for example, doesn’t mean one need believe every person who claims to be a psychic is for real. Or even that more than a vanishingly small percentage of them are. And therefore one would require strong evidence to be convinced, for example, that Sylvia Browne was a real psychic and not a fraud.

    Obviously, one would require far more evidence for the claim that Jesus rose from the dead than for the claim that the disciples, in some sense, “saw” Jesus after his death.

    Just as one would require more evidence for the claim that Swami X has the power to levitate than for the claim that Bob saw Swami X appear to levitate (something magicians do through trickery all the time).

    Its not “a priori baggage”. Its simple common sense you yourself probably apply to any claim that isn’t part of your Christian heritage.

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