Science, Lies, and Videotape

It is the elite perception that conservatives are beetle-browed, anti-science nutters wedded to faith-based, unverifiable beliefs eschewed by the more sophisticated, scientific-thinking left.

I call this the Garofolo Theory to memorialize this darling of the left's observation this week:

Herman Cain is probably well liked by some of the Republicans because it hides the racist elements of the Republican Party. Conservative movement and tea party movement, one in the same.

So there you have it: the classic damned if you do (in this case, support black candidates), damned if you don't (support them).  Conveniently for Garofalo, the charge is utterly unfalsifiable as made, since the lack of evidence to her way of thinking is itself evidence.

But beyond the self-congratulatory nonsense exemplified by Janeane Garofolo, the history of who believes in science and who opposes scientific thinking and methods is far more muddled.  There's plenty of evidence that the clown shoes belong on the other (political) foot, and this week, because of the work of Watts Up With That and videotape analysis, we can establish that not only is the left unscientific, but it also relies on demonstrably false "evidence" to make its arguments.

Blogger Judith Curry is the inspiration for my decision to strike at the "conservatives are anti-science" meme.  She pulled together posts where writers and readers debated the issue.

Among the positions progressives have taken which are false and unsupported by science are the following examples I culled there from posts by Mike Hanson of Purdue University and Ken Green.  Collectively these men observe these fallacies supported by those who call themselves progressives:

  • DDT causes cancer;
  • Alar causes cancer;
  • Polar bears are drowning as the icebergs melt;
  • Video displays or cell phones cause cancer;
  • There are grave risks to hydraulic fracturing;
  • Misuse of toxology -- hexavalent chromium contamination in Hinkley, California; amaranth, saccharin;
  • Nuclear winter;
  • Claims that there's a giant plastic cocoon in the middle of the ocean;
  • BPA and Phthalates are carcinogens and endocrine disruptors;
  • Claims that organic food is safer and healthier than conventionally grown foods;
  • Claims that eating locally grown foods is better for the environment than foods grown further away;
  • Cloth grocery bags are better for the environment than paper or plastic ones;
  • Claims of species' endangerment based on faked or flawed evidence;
  • Claims that climate models have predictive power and that individual weather events represent climate change;
  • Claims that frogs died because of climate change;
  • Claims that there were alligator penis malformations from endocrine disruptors;
  • Claims that bees were dying as a result of climate change;
  • Claims that butterflies were dying from Bt crops;
  • Unsubstantiated claims about low dose radiation hazards.

I'm sure you could add to their list. Generally, the "dangers" the left invents or exaggerates involve modern technology, existing energy sources, and large-scale production.  They represent a strange amalgam of Rousseau and Luddite notions and hark back to an ideal, never-existing "state of nature."

Mike Hanson continues in his post at Curry's blog:

The National Academy of Science states that "no dose of radiation is safe" but they have no data to back this statement up, only a hypothesis they cannot test. The linear threshold model is a liberal (no pun intended) application of the precautionary principal as you cannot conduct an epidemiological study of radiation exposure at low levels of exposure and get any meaningful data. This being the case, the linear threshold model for radiation exposure is not science, it's a philosophical argument.

Manipulation of "science" is VERY mainstream among liberals. You can hardly pick up a lefty magazine or newspaper and not see it. The left "science deniers" are similar in pathology to Christian millenarianists who await the Apocalypse. They pinpoint a date for wholesale destruction, and they're always wrong. But unlike Christian fundamentalists, liberals have the advantageous distinction of never needing to say sorry. In fact, the worst of them, people like John Holdren and Paul Erlich go onto serve in very high places in the scientific community.

The debate at Curry's site is lengthy and thorough.  At best, it seems, one might argue that both sides of the political spectrum have exhibited the desire to use science for sociopolitical ends, but it seems to me undeniable that the claim that the left is scientific and the right is not must fall.

This week we have more ammunition for this point of view.  On the one hand, we have President Obama ignoring his own scientists and attacking Texas Governor Perry for being a climate skeptic:

On Sunday, President Obama gave Gov. Rick Perry heat for being a climate skeptic, calling him "a governor whose state is on fire, denying climate change." But, Obama seems to be denying the conclusions of his own government scientists when it comes to the cause of the Texas droughts. But, earlier this month, Dr. Robert Hoerling, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research meteorologist, who served as the lead author of the U.S. Climate Change Science Plan Synthesis and Assessment, clearly and emphatically dispelled the notion that climate change has anything to do with droughts in Texas.

Then there's Congressman Henry Waxman justifying the waste of a half billion dollars on the Solyndra solar panel factory scam: "Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., railed at Friday's hearing, "We need to face reality and stop denying science."

And the editors of the New York Times, grossly exaggerating the potential contribution of solar energy:

Are New York Times editorial writers complete innumerate nincompoops?  Okay, silly question.  The answer is a self-evident truth.  This sentence finally made me spit my coffee: "Recent studies suggest that, globally, renewable energy will grow faster than any other energy source in the coming decades."

This is simple-minded drivel that wouldn't make a sub-moron's mouth twitch if he'd sat through the first day of a statistics class.  All of these studies are based on pure percentage growth rates -- not absolute amounts of energy produced by source.  It is the same kind of logic as someone who wonders how a swimmer can drown in a Minnesota lake that averages only two feet deep.  Example: if you go from one unit of something to two, look!  Wow!  A 100 percent growth rate!  While if you go from 100 to 105 units of something, we'll that's only a five percent growth rate, even though it five times the amount of end product as the source with the 100 percent growth rate.

All of the renewable energy studies and forecasts play that game because the renewable output is starting from such a low base, and never compare the actual amount of energy growth with other sources. ... According to the BP data, guess which energy source over the last 10 years produced the largest total amount of new energy in the world?  Coal.  A somewhat inconvenient truth.  A student who tried to pass off the Times claim in Statistics 101 would get an F on the exam.  (And this leaves aside the point John makes, namely, that nearly all "renewable" energy sources require huge government subsidies.  Isn't the social welfare state unsustainable enough?  How does the Times think that scaling up renewable energy won't also end in bankruptcy?

All this takes place in a week when a key scientist resigned from the American Physical Society in protest of the Society's stance on global warming (italics in the original):

You don't have to look far to see that impeccable scientific standards can go hand-in-hand with skepticism about global warming. Ivar Giaever, a 1973 Nobel laureate in physics , resigned this month as a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) to protest the organization's official position that evidence of manmade climate change is "incontrovertible'' and cause for alarm. In an e-mail explaining his resignation , Giaever challenged the view that any scientific assertion is so sacred that it cannot be contested.

"In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves,'' Giaever wrote, incredulous, "but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?''

Nor does Giaever share the society's view that carbon emissions threaten "significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security, and human health.'' In fact, the very concept of a "global'' temperature is one he questions. . . [sic]

And all this in the same week when the EPA's own inspector general called the greenhouse gas science used by the agency seriously flawed.  The endangerment finding in question will cost American consumers $300-$400 billion a year, boost energy prices considerably, and destroy "hundreds of jobs," says Oklahoma Senator Inhofe, who this week released the IG Report.

[T]he scientific basis, on which the administration's endangerment finding for greenhouse gases hinged, violated the EPA's own peer review procedure.  In a report released Wednesday (at the request of Inhofe, dating back to April) the inspector general found that the EPA failed to follow the Data Quality Act and its own peer review process when it issued the determination that greenhouse gases cause harm to "public health and welfare."

"I appreciate the inspector general conducting a thorough investigation into the Obama-EPA's handling of the endangerment finding for greenhouse gases," Inhofe said. "This report confirms that the endangerment finding, the very foundation of President Obama's job-destroying regulatory agenda, was rushed, biased, and flawed. It calls the scientific integrity of EPA's decision-making process into question and undermines the credibility of the endangerment finding."

Much of the folderol of calling witchcraft science takes place behind the scenes -- as in the EPA endangerment finding -- but sometimes the fraud takes place before our very eyes.  In his latest big presentation to the world on global warming, "The Climate Reality Project" -- i.e., the latest iteration of the hoax that made him a billionaire -- Al Gore presented a falsified experiment by Bill Nye ("the science guy"), which Gore called "high school physics," to make his point.

The video was not labeled a dramatization, and Anthony Watts of the renowned climate blog Watts Up With That?, taking enormous pains to duplicate the materials used and the techniques followed by careful examination of the video, establishes that this is a "staged production from start to finish."  You can see Gore's and Nye's hocus-pocus unveiled before your eyes, with frame-by-frame analysis.  Of course, the pair consider you stupid anyway, for, as Watts notes:

Of course the whole Climate 101 CO2 experiment is questionable to begin with, because it doesn't properly emulate the physical mechanisms involved in heating our planet. Note the heat lamps used, likely one of these based on the red color we see in the lamp fixture:

Heat lamps like this produce visible red light and short wave infrared (SWIR is 1.4-3 µm wavelength). As we know from the classic greenhouse effect, glass blocks infrared so none of the SWIR was making it into the cookie jar. All that would do is heat the glass. John Tyndall's 1850′s experiments used rock salt windows, which transmit infrared, for exactly that reason. Adding insult to injury, CO2 has no SWIR absorption bands. What CO2 does have though is higher density than air. The gas in the cookie jars was primarily heated by conduction in contact with the SWIR-heated glass.

Moreover, the CO2 injection in one cookie jar would raise it from 0.04% CO2 to very near 100% CO2 which is hardly comparable to the atmosphere going from 0.03% to 0.04% CO2 during the industrial age. Gore's team provides no indication of the concentration of CO2 in the jar, that's hardly scientific.

James Delingpole of The Telegraph credits the internet for blowing Gore's and Nye's cover and exposing the establishment's fake science generally:

The point that can't be made often enough about the internet is that it represents our best and perhaps only hope of outmanoeuvring the lies, bullying and control of the political establishment. Nowhere is this truer than with the Man Made Global Warming scam. Had it not been for the internet, Climategate would not have been broken, nor the earlier work of McIntyre and McKitrick disseminated, nor a community created in which scientific experts (and interested laymen) all over the world were able to discuss climate science freely without the risk of being defunded, or having their journal closed down or being ostracised by their colleagues. But though the internet was a necessary condition for this to happen, it was not a sufficient one. The other vitally important ingredient was the trainspotterish diligence of men and women like Anthony Watts, and Richard North and Donna Laframboise and Joanna Nova.

Why is this trainspotterish diligence so essential? Because one of the main planks of the defence used by the climate alarmist establishment against sceptics is that they have all the expertise on their side, all the PhDs, all the notable scientific institutions, and that therefore their "authority" trumps the feeble witterings of all those nonentities, crazed Oxford English graduates, and other such verminous specimens who dare to speak out against the mighty, unimpeachable wisdom.

What the internet has proved in these debates, time and again - from Glaciergate to Amazongate to Polarbeargate - is that when the rebellious amateurs of the sceptical blogosphere go head to head with the climate establishment, the bloggers always win. Not as a result of invective or snarkiness or any of the other things that bloggers also do quite well: but on the actual hard science and raw evidence. Look at almost any tussle between, say, WUWT on the one side, RealClimate on the other, and you'll notice that when it finally boils down to the irreducible truth, the side that emerges triumphant is the sceptical one, not the alarmist one. It's partly because the facts are on our side (so we jolly well ought to win if we're doing our job even remotely properly), but also because, being the underfunded underdogs, we've been forced to raise our game to a higher standard than that of our rather complacent, smug opposition.

Well, as the world economy weakens and it turns out that we are sitting on enormous quantities of natural gas and oil, it grows more likely that this childish nonsense -- which, probably not coincidentally, has proven a financial boon for Democrat-backers,  too -- shall pass.  But faster, please, so we can get back to being the world's powerhouse.

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