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To: grey_whiskers
The "dogmatic belief" comes from an over-reliance on the null hypothesis coupled with Occam's razor, to the point that "not sufficiently demonstrated and publicized within peer-reviewed channels" becomes *equivalent* in the scientist's / doctor's mind to "necessarily false".

Hmm, do you see the irony in accusing scientists of "dogmatic belief" when the entire field of science is built upon empirical observation? If you can't demonstrate an idea with empirical data, then it's not science. End of story.

Look at the troubles early doctors had in advocated aseptic conditions in surgery; the role of Heliobacter pylori in ulcers; the dogmatism of Ben Santer, Michael Mann, Gleick, etc. in AGW.

This is actually a couple of different issues. It took time to demonstrate the theory of germ transmission of disease, and the role of aseptic surgical techniques in breaking the chain of transmission. But the science was sound, and stood up to rigorous experimentation, so that there is now no question that surgery must be performed in aseptic conditions (although how best to achieve those conditions, and how aseptic any procedure must be--for instance, open chest surgery requires a higher level of care than wart removal--are still subjects of research). The same thing with establishing H. pylori infections as a major cause of gastric ulcers--when the properly controlled experiments were done, and the results communicated to the scientific and medical communities, and other scientists were able to replicate the findings, that, too, was accepted by the scientific and medical communities. That's the hallmark of scientific advance--it may take a while, decades even, for a hypothesis to be rigorously tested through controlled experimentation, but once it is established as being valid, it is accepted.

With AGW, however, there is something else going on. As far as I know, a disproportionate role of carbon dioxide as a component of the greenhouse effect has never been experimentally established. It has been established that CO2 fluoresces strongly within a narrow range of the IR spectrum. Someone hypothesized (in 1938!) that this fluorescence could raise atmospheric temperature. It was also later shown that the carbon dioxide levels have increased slightly. Fast-forward a few decades; some ideologically driven politicians saw in this a way to increase their power over the citizenry (because people who balk at having their lives dictated by a politician who merely wants power will gladly allow their lives to be dictated if they can be convinced that it will save the planet). So the politicians, who control grant moneys, dictated that grants be directed towards AGW research. We now have a situation where AGW advocates point at thousands of papers that supposedly establish CO2 as a driving force of atmospheric temperature; what they don't point out is that the vast majority of those papers use the terminology "X is happening because of global warming", which is a throw-away phrase meant to convince the politicians that the research funding is, in fact, going towards AGW research.

I haven't heard of Ben Santer. What I see happening with Michael Mann is that he became emotionally attached to the hypothesis, which is always a bad thing for a scientist to do. Perhaps one of the harder lessons for a scientist to learn is to let go of a hypothesis when it doesn't pan out, and to move on to something else. Most of us learn that lesson in grad school...but some don't. It doesn't look like Mann did, although he may be figuring it out--I think it was his email that said it was a travesty that the temperature record isn't conforming to their hypothesis, in those infamous leaked emails?

And it is explicitly dependent upon the expenditure of large sums of money and tens of thousands of people being supported with taxpayer money and devoting their lives to nothing else: which, as Heinlein points out in another context, is a very rare circumstance, and not the default condition of human culture.

Guilty as charged. Throughout history, science has been supported throughout government funding. I have come to an uneasy truce between my belief that such matters should be privately funded, and the reality that almost my entire career has been taxpayer funded, from the beginning of grad school up to my current job. Protecting scientific enquiry *is* specifically mentioned in the Constitution, but spending billions of federal dollars on it may be pushing Constitutional boundaries.

336 posted on 02/25/2012 7:16:16 AM PST by exDemMom (Now that I've finally accepted that I'm living a bad hair life, I'm more at peace with the world.)
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To: exDemMom
I'd love to reply in detail, but I had insomnia and woke up at 2:00 AM -- MUCH earlier this morning so I'm suffering a strange form of jet lag.

So, placeholder: you appear to be discussing mostly in good faith, but with a little bit of unwarranted condescension about "being a scientist."

I've got to do some shopping and cooking (I do the cooking in the house, so I like to know what the ingredients are too), so I'll re-look in maybe by 4:00 PM, and let the answers stew in my tired brain in the meantime.


337 posted on 02/25/2012 7:20:45 AM PST by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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