On Watts Up With That?, guest blogger Jim Steele reminds us that back in 1995 the late Carl Sagan, no extreme right-winger, wrote a book The Demon Haunted World that included a “Scientific Baloney Detection Kit”. It included rules like “Don’t attack the arguer, attack the argument” and “Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.” But that was then.
Steele’s list is as follows: “1. Do: Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view…. 2. Don’t: Avoid arguments from authority…. 3. Don’t: Don’t attack the arguer, attack the argument…. 4. Do: Spin more than one hypothesis…. 5. Don’t: Don’t get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours…. 6. Do: Ask whether a hypothesis can be, at least in principle, falsified…. 7. Don’t: Don’t argue via adverse consequences…. 8. Don’t: Don’t “appeal to ignorance”…. don’t claim that whatever has not been proved false then must be true…. 9. Don’t: Don’t confuse correlation with causation…. 10. Don’t: Don’t use straw man arguments — caricaturing a position to make it easier to attack…. 11. Don’t: Don’t just count the “hits” and forget the “misses” when evaluating a hypothesis….”
It might be harder to preen about radical measures to stop man-made global warming if we followed these rules. But if virtue-signaling isn’t the main point, perhaps we could revisit them.
It is commonplace to claim that catastrophic global warming isn't a falsifiable theory, because any observation today is compatible with it. But that isn't really true, is it?
Insofar as the general circulation models (GCMs) employed by the IPCC to make predictions of catastrophic warming represent a comprehensive theory of climate, they have already been falsified. Every single one of the model runs, in every single ensemble of model runs, by every single GCM currently in play, already falls outside of the temperature observed by satellite measurements. The GCMs all run hot. Clearly, something is wrong with the models. We can debate what that something is, but what we can't debate is that they are not reliable enough to base trillion-dollar global public policy initiatives on. If the GCMs are not meant to model a comprehensive theory of climate, then they are not suitable to the objectives the IPCC puts them to.