December 18, 2007
The Algorism of Global Doom
Heads I win; Tails you lose. That's the guiding principle of Algorism.
When the story of our time is written -- as soon as future historians can stop laughing -- Al Gore will be Exhibit #1 for the unprecedented nuttiness of our politics.
In Florida in 2000, Al Gore just knew he was destined to win the presidency, just like Mom and Dad told him all those years ago. The Big Media were actually convinced that Gore had won before the votes came in, based on their usual dubious polls. It was only a question of how many recounts it would take to prove what they already knew, and how many rules had to be busted for Mr. Gore to assume his rightful place in history.
In Bush v Gore the US Supreme Court finally decided enough was enough, by a vote of 7-2. You don't get to replay the game until you win. The Supremes and George W. Bush have been ferociously hated for that ever since by our friends on the Left, who apparently never play card games. If you're allowed to deal the deck over and over again until you win, you're not playing poker, but some sort of childish game of self-delusion.
Which is not a bad description of Al Gore's new incarnation as the Steaming Green Messiah of Doom. "Steaming" not because it's hot in Oslo, where he received his Nobel Peace Prize, but because Al himself generates a whole lot more heat than light. If Mr. Gore's fury and rage could be turned into useful energy it would do much to wipe out his ample carbon footprint.
Algorism means "I'm always right, no matter how the facts turn out."
The trouble is that Algorism has now invaded science. This is very bad. Everybody knows that the conclusion of Global Doom is taken for granted by good and decent people everywhere -- why else did the Bali circus happen, other than to divide up the loot that is bound to follow? If there were no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow the UN wouldn't be interested.
It's just that the scientific proof isn't quite there yet.
Science Magazine just published another Global Doom Scenario. This one predicts for the nth time that Australia's Great Barrier Reef is really, really doomed for sure this time. Where have we heard this before? There are now more than twenty Global Warming models -- we never hear about the ones that don't predict Global Doom, because Science magazine isn't interested. Those results appear in less august journals. (See this or this for exmaples.)
Like any ecosystem, coral reefs evolve and adapt, which is how they have survived for hundreds of millions of years. Coral organisms got started during the 'Cambrian explosion' of half a billion years ago -- that's 500,000,000 years. Corals have gone through Ice Ages and warming periods over and over again during that half billion years. Micro-organisms like corals can adapt to changing temperatures with amazing speed, because they reproduce so quickly. They are not "fragile." They are immensely adaptable. Otherwise they wouldn't be here.
Coral reefs cover an estimated 300 thousand square kilometers -- five times the size of West Virginia. They are far too complex to model in detail. The truth is that we can't model even a single ecosystem anywhere in the world, because they are much too complicated, the genomes of their inhabitants are unknown, and it's not remotely possible to track every single variable. So this is again a wild guess with the same result. Algorism: I win, you lose.
Suppose that the Great Barrier Reef modelers looked at a lot of evidence before they came out with the Doom Prediction. Then they sent it to Science. If their model predicted "It's OK, everybody's safe!" you can bet it wouldn't have been published there. In that case, one of the other 600 Doom scenarios collected by Dr. John Brignell might have been headlined in Science to celebrate with the Bali conference, and to suppress the secret doubts of True Believers everywhere.
Thus the Algorists are running after that elusive smoking gun with all the desperation of Osama Bin Laden seeking his Caliphate. Bin Laden will never give up his belief that he has been chosen by Allah to rescue the world from the infidels and to establish the Caliphate. Al Gore won't either.
In his Nobel Peace Prize speech in Norway, to the warm applause of shivering Norwegians, Al Gore told the world again how he really won Florida in 2000. That was seven years and many bloody terrorists attacks ago, but Gore can't forget. Thousands of innocents have been killed in New York City, Washington, D.C., Baghdad, Kabul, Madrid, Paris, London, Moscow, Kashmir, Algeria and Pakistan, all by jihadis who hate America. Iran is a couple of years from getting nukes, and Pakistan just had another assassination attempt on President Musharaf, probably by Al Qaida. But for Nobel Laureate Al Gore, nothing has happened since December 11, 2000.
Global Dooming has a very simple explanation. There's nothing new about it. It is just the human desire to create a millenarian narrative that fits our political biases, whipped on by the Politically Correct elites of this world, fed by a huge infusion of money into climate modeling and other dubious science, plus unprecedented media hype, and finally, the intimidation of thousands of rational skeptics.
This "madness of crowds" happens all the time. Charles MacKay wrote about it in 1841, in his book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. Economics bubbles and busts are just one kind. But we can see a lush diversity of other superstitions and mass delusions.
It is a shame that it is now corrupting normal science. In healthy science the burden of proof is always on the proposer of any hypothesis. But now the burden of proof on the skeptics in the case of human-caused global warming. But you can't prove a negative. As soon as the skeptics disprove one false claim, the Global Fraudsters are allowed to jump to another one, as long as they predict the same conclusion.
In real science the deck is never stacked against the skeptics. Rational skeptics are welcomed when people know what they are talking about. They can only help to sharpen the issues.
So this is not a scientific debate any more. Like the real estate bubble, the sub-prime mortgage bubble, the Year 2000 bubble and all the rest, there are billions of dollars riding on the outcome of the Global Doom scenarios. That's why all those expensive folks lived it up in Bali, with their private jets, luxury hotels, and massive carbon footprint.
Algorism: Heads I win, Tails you lose.
James Lewis blogs at dangeroustimes.wordpress.com/