by Edwin Berry
Back to the Scientific Method
Allow me to address Dr. Eric’s comments to my Post “2. The Scientific Method.”
Dr. Eric seems reluctant to agree to using the scientific method to verify the AGW hypothesis. He suggests in “complex systems … the testing of theories … becomes more difficult.”
OK, granted, our ocean-atmosphere-climate is a complex system and no scientist who argues against AGW, as I do, will say that testing a climate hypotheses is simple. But complexity is not an excuse to abandon the scientific method. Why? Because there is no other way to determine how nature works.
Is there an alternative to the scientific method?
Unless Dr. Eric has invented another method to replace the scientific method, has published it, and has the agreement of the body of scientists that his new method is a valid replacement for the scientific method, then I suggest we are stuck with the scientific method whether Dr. Eric likes it or not.
Dr. Eric thinks my description of the scientific method is “simplistic.”
Dr. Eric calls my description of the scientific method “very well known … incomplete and simplistic.” Then he rambles on without ever defining what he might mean by a “complete and non-simplistic” scientific method.
Dr. Eric says:
“The best one can then do is to measure as many of the related variables as one can and try to assess the relative probabilities that the theory is either correct, partially correct, or not at all correct.”
“In that process, one might reach a point at which one decides that the probability of some specific unwanted outcome is sufficient do something about it long before the feared outcome actually occurs.”
Say what? This is not a method! And with no hypothesis, prediction, and verification … what Dr. Eric suggests is not even scientific!
The core of the AGW debate.
Is Dr. Eric saying that if an unproven hypothesis predicts a disastrous outcome that we must weight the probability of its validity by some measure of the magnitude of the predicted disaster?
Such reasoning would turn science up-side-down. It would mean the best way to have your hypothesis “verified” is to have it predict the biggest disaster possible. That, however, is precisely what AGW supporters have done to fool the public. They distort the scientific method … and thereby suggest AGW is true when by proper scientific standards AGW is false.
It is not sufficient that everyone tries to do “the best one can do.” All their hard work says nothing about AGW until they formulate and test a scientific hypothesis.
And what does it mean to “decide that the probability of some specific unwanted outcome is sufficient …” if we don’t even know if our hypothesis is valid?
That statement sounds as if Dr. Eric is recommending we first assume AGW has a high probability of having a disastrous outcome, as he believes, then we adjust the way we verify the hypothesis according to our estimated magnitude of our assumption.
Dr. Eric implied I “do not understand how scientific assessments of complex issues are done.” He says:
“Therefore, if you are suggesting that we should not be concerned about a given environmental possibility simply because one can find one observation concerning one variable that could possibly be used to argue against the larger issue, you do not understand how the scientific assessments of complex issues are done.”
Frankly, whether or not we should be “concerned about a given environmental possibility” is irrelevant to this AGW debate.
And, frankly, how environmental assessments are done is irrelevant to this AGW debate.
In the scientific method, the degree of our “concerns” has no bearing on the verification of a hypothesis, or the truth of nature. “Concerns” are not quantifiable and cannot be used to verify whether the AGW hypothesis is true or false.
Dr. Eric has the task of proving AGW is true without resorting to “concerns” or predicted “disastrous outcomes.” Resorting to “concerns” or “disastrous outcomes” is in the realm of politics. This debate is about science, not politics.
How to use the Scientific Method in a complex system.
Apparently, Dr. Eric did not follow my “simple” description where I said:
“Deduction … is the realm of Mathematics and Probability.”
“Statistics assists in performing verification.”
When I managed the Weather Modification Research Program for the National Science Foundation, I convened a panel of experts, including top statisticians from the University of California, Berkeley, to review the use of the scientific method in verifying cloud seeding hypotheses.
The panel concluded the problem of verifying cloud seeding hypotheses was “the most complex statistical problem” in science (principally because of the difficulty of predicting what a cloud or storm would have done had it not been seeded).
(Note the parallel here: A scientific problem of AGW is the lack of being able to know what the climate would have done absent our fossil fuel burning.)
Yet, no one on the panel suggested we must abandon the scientific method because of this complexity. All of the complexity fits into the Scientific Method as I have described it.
All weather modification research projects I am familiar with used the scientific method. They applied mathematics and probability to perform Deduction (that is, to derive a Prediction from the Hypothesis) and they applied complex statistical procedures to perform verification (that is, to check the Prediction against new Data). And yes, the answers to the verification were stated in statistical terms. All this fits nicely into the scientific method … if you understand the scientific method.
However, even though AGW is fundamentally a weather modification problem stretched into the climate problem, the AGW promoters have abandoned the proven methods used to verify weather modification hypotheses. No wonder they claim AGW is true. They have circumvented methods of showing the AGW hypothesis is false.
Dr. Eric wishes to move on.
Dr. Eric wishes to move on without further discussion of the scientific method. However, his response demonstrates we must first agree on the method we are going to use to verify AGW. If we are going to measure the size of a house, we must first agree on the “tape measure” we are going to use.
How we use the scientific method is at the core of this debate!
Dr. Eric’s role is the prosecution. He must lead with his case. It is not for me to prove his case. My role is the defense. I will introduce the atmospheric physics necessary to make a good defense against the case he presents. My views on the role of CO2 in AGW are irrelevant until I need to use them to defend against Dr. Eric’s claims.
We have made our introductory statements. You, our readers, are the jury. You have an advantage over legal juries. Here, you can make your comments and ask your questions during the trial.
Now it is time for Dr. Eric to present his case for AGW.
Simply talking about the composition of our atmosphere, elaborating about the conversion of GC to BC, hand-waving about CO2’s absorption of radiation, commenting on how CO2 has increased, etc, is not a scientific hypothesis because these data do not predict anything! These data is still in the Data (#1) stage.
Let’s begin the science!
Does a valid AGW hypothesis even exist?
To prove a valid AGW hypothesis exists, Dr. Eric must do the following:
- Describe the AGW hypothesis beginning with one clear sentence, and then expand upon this hypothesis to show it satisfies the following criteria:
- Is formulated in a manner that allows scientific invalidation.
- Has followed the steps of the scientific method.
- Has made valid predictions.
- Has made no invalid prediction.
- Show how AGW moves from Data to Hypothesis to Prediction to Verification.
- Prove his Claims are true.
We may be facing an impasse.
A refusal by Dr. Eric to agree to using the Scientific Method as the one and only method for verifying the AGW hypothesis, will be an admission of defeat. This will be clear evidence that AGW is based upon pseudo-science and is a fraud. The debate will be over.