Gone Skiing

Well, I wish I was anyway. Today marks the start of the Australian ski season, and reports from all resorts indicate it’ll be a ripper.

I was reminded of this story from 2008 in which our peak taxpayer-funded science body, the CSIRO, predicted the end of Australian snow. This prediction was made only a couple of weeks before the start of the 2008 ski season, which also turned out to be a bumper one.

In Britain, the Met office has been making the same predictions about snow recently. When as recently as October last year, when they predicted a mild British winter, astrophysicist Piers Corbyn said no, it would be the coldest in 100 years. And from what I’ve heard, went to Ladbrokes, put his money where his mouth was and made a motza. Why not scrap the Met and hire Corbyn instead? It’d have to be cheaper.

You know, according to the scientific method, no amount of experimental evidence can ever “prove” a theory. Supporting experimental evidence can only validate a theory; and the more and more such evidence we acquire, the greater our confidence in the theory becomes.

But it takes only takes one verifiable experiment to disprove a theory. At which point you have to ditch the theory and either a) come up with a better one, or b) be honest and admit, we just don’t know at the moment. Under this traditional methodology of science, AGW was obviously never going to stand a chance. That’s why its backers came up with Post-Normal Science, with which this forum has dealt previously.

To continue to cling to a disproven theory, after its predictions have been falsified over and over again, is an act of politics, not science, and brings us into the realms of cognitive dissonance. To proclaim your model says that last year was the hottest/second/third hottest ever, while people on the ground are freezing to death, is something that would only continue to receive oxygen if it was backed by a mighty political and financial agenda. Which it is.

And the snow Down Under continues to fall.

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41 Responses to Gone Skiing

  1. Luton Ian says:

    Looks like I’m in poll commenting position ahead of cunning linguist Jeremy Clockson…

    It’s a few weeks since I’ve seen the blue gums in Ireland, but they were looking decidedly poorly after the last winter same goes for the kiwi cabbage palms there. they don’t seem to like zero degrees F.

    The further I go on my libertarian journey, the more that I’m coming to the belief that anything and everything that the state touches…

    Well, it’s like the Midas touch, only Spitting image showed John Major with it, and instead of gold, everything turned brown and had a tapered end, that saved the sphincter from closing with a bang.

    I was reading a 10 year old article by a guy with a PHD in musical composition, who works as a banker. He pointed out that the only people who’ll ever listen to a state funded prof of composition’s work, are other state funded academic musicians, the output is totally divorced from those who pay the pipers. I’ve just got back from a house warming so the following may be a little below standard, I’m going to draw an analogy between political cycles and Austrian business cycle theory.

    The Austrian School economists maintain that capital is destroyed by mal investment in capital goods which are far from the needs and wants of consumers, during inflationary booms, and that the bust is the time when the mistakes are recognised for what they are and liquidated, to allow the remaining capital to be re assigned according to the wants, needs and time preferences of the consumers ( without whom there would be no market or economy).

    State sector attempts to delay the necessary corrective bust, either prolong it or make it more severe, as additional mistakes accumulate, which must be liquidated, to return any remaining capital to producing in line with consumer’s time preferences ( goods now, perhaps on credit, or savings now for even more goods later).

    What of politics?

    We’ve had a choice between only statists or more extreme statists, pretty well since 1900 or certainly since 1914.

    There are multiple layers of mistakes, whole cascades of legislation building on the problems created by previous legislation, and causing problems that more legislation will try to address, it’s an exponential cascade of shit.

    AGW is one droplet of that cascade, a very telling droplet, but still one of many tens of thousands of state sector intrusions and fallacies.

    The longer it goes on , the more correction will be required.

    What is the correction going to look like?

    What indeed. I’m optimistic. Your question hints at armed rebellion, which I doubt (except in places like Greece and Portugal, and who the hell knows how that will play out); I do believe in the power of a democractic society to re-invent itself. The Tea Party revolution in the United States may be the earliest stirrings of change. Real, lasting change at the ballot box, however, will have to be preceded by an intellectual revolution; in our own small way, we’re contributing to that here – Oz

  2. Dr. Dave says:

    Ski areas look a little different around here:

    http://skisantafe.com/index.php?mact=Album,mff022,default,1&mff022albumid=3&mff022returnid=41&page=41

    If the world continues to cool, one of the things we will start seeing is the opportunity (if you’re rich enough and have the time) to ski both hemispheres simultaneously. Here in Australia we don’t have the “extreme” skiing that there is in New Zealand, but there are still plenty of Black Diamond runs in the NSW and Victorian fields.

    Our nearest ski slopes are at Mt Mawson, about two hour’s drive from here. I might take the kids up there later this week – Oz

  3. Dr. Dave says:

    Ozboy,

    We’re now in my very favorite time of year. We get our hot, dry days in late June to early July. Some folks whine about the heat but if they’ve never fenced in 5 acres during an Amarillo Summer with temps over 100 deg F every day they don’t know what they’re complaining about. The wind blows incessantly in Amarillo so it’s hard to know when your core body temp is too high. When your ears start to plug up it’s time to come in out of the sun and drink lots of water. But I love early Summer up here in the mountains. The Russian Olives are in bloom and the air is fragrant. About mid-July the monsoon season starts. We have picture perfect mornings and thunderstorms almost every afternoon (in a good season).

    The Santa Fe ski area is about a 45 minute drive from my house. It’s pretty good – perhaps a couple thousand feet of vertical. Truly world class skiing can be found at Taos, about a 2 hour drive away. Taos rivals anything Europe has to offer and sports some of the scariest black diamond and double black diamonds I’ve ever avoided out of fear for life and limb. I haven’t skied in years since my left knee decided it hated me. But it has quieted down and perhaps next year I’ll give it shot. I want to try out those new parabolic skis. I hope you enjoy your winter and have laid in enough firewood.

    Funny you mention that; I thought we’d had enough, but due to one of the coldest Mays on record I’m going to have to get busy again this week. I still have some more of what we’ve called the “Milankovitch tree” to bust up – Oz

  4. Kitler says:

    Well it is skiing season here, water skiing season although it’s best to do that on the man made lakes with a motor boat.
    The missus used to ski on the back bowls of the expert slopes on something called the angel fire(?) run in Taos you could only get there by helicopter she busted her knee there so no more skiing for her, she also likes to go off roading up some very steep mountains. (Sorry if I have the names and terminology mixed up).
    Myself not so much.

  5. Dr. Dave says:

    Kitler,

    Up in northern NM there is an area known as the “Enchanted Circle”. It includes the Taos ski area, Red River and the Angel Fire ski area. Angel Fire is very popular with Texans as there are a lot of condos available and it’s easy to get to from the Panhandle of Texas. I think the “helicopter runs” are all in Taos and probably most can be reached by lifts now days (the “back bowl”). Taos is amazing, beautiful and intimidating…and pretty damn big. Taos has always had the hands down snooty factor advantage. They have the most vertical, the most challenging runs, the most expensive nearby lodging, the best local fine dining and, until recently, they were the last major ski resort in the US to ban snow boards. A few years ago they succumbed to economic pressure and allowed snow boards.

    If you’re into downhill skiing, you should really check out Copper Mountain in Colorado. The place is gigantic! You could ski all day for two solid days and never go down the same run twice. It’s amazing. So is Keystone. Personally, I prefer the smaller resorts with a lot of “blue cruisers” as opposed to black diamonds. Purgatory resort in Durango, Colorado is one of my favorites [http://www.durangomountainresort.com/]. One of my best friends is an expert skier and has skied all over the US. Ironically, he lost the tip of a finger on his left hand…WATER skiing.

  6. Kitler says:

    DrDave the missus said she used to ski Copper Mountain all the time but an easier ski than Taos apparently even on the back bowls.
    She said there used to be a saying “if God had wanted Texans to ski they would have made bullshit white” and they were intensely disliked because they used to cause more accidents and even a few deaths than any other group because they could not ski and never followed slope etiquette and would always over dress for skiing.

  7. izenizen says:

    To get snow you need an air mass with high humidity to encounter below freezing conditions over land.
    The humidity modulates the amount of snow, the number of frost days its duration.

    That the globe is warming is beyond doubt. multiple lines of evidence confirm the last decade was, at the very least, warmer than any decade in the last ~1000 years. Longer if you are unconvinced the MWP was truly as globally warm or synchronous.

    That has two effects, fewer frost days and high humidity as the higher sea surface temperatures evaporate more water.
    So whatever the cause of the present warming, it would be predicted to have two effects on snowfall. There will be fewer frost days when snow can fall or persist. It will snow less often and melt more quickly. And more snow will fall when it does snow.

    The ‘predictions’ from meteorological sources of snow becoming rare is based on the measured change in the number of frost days. It is also measured in the amount and duration of snow cover from satellite imagery. This whole issue arose recently in a thread at WUWT and a poster suggested that winter snow was a frequent as ever; –

    http://climate.rutgers.edu/snowcover/chart_seasonal.php?ui_set=namgnld&ui_season=1

    Or even increasing…
    However on the left of the graph are links to measurements of rather wider regions than just North America and for more than just the winter; –

    http://climate.rutgers.edu/snowcover/chart_seasonal.php?ui_set=nhland&ui_season=2

    It is clear that in the last two decades snow cover in the Northern hemisphere has very rarely risen above levels that it never fell below in the the preceding decades.
    I haven’t looked to see if similar data are available for the Southern hemisphere or snow cover in Australia, but the increased snow fall there might be predicted, and even explained, from the higher humidity from rising sea surface temperatures and the movement of the southern westelyn jetstream in spring from the effects of CFC’s on the ozone hole. –

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21512001

    MorningMorning IzenIzen,

    Of course: increased snow is proof of Global Warming. You’ve told us this before. How forgetful of me – Oz

  8. izen says:

    How helpful of wordpress and its wonderful new posting software to rename me and double up or auto-insert my details….

    Ah the desperation of the online businesses to jump on the tweet/facebook community fad… one can only hope it indicates the fads are about to fade – grin-

    I’ll leave the double vision in place, as testament both to your perseverance and to the frustration many share with you towards this new software.

    Still beats disqus – Oz ;-)

  9. izen says:

    At the risk of double-posting as the new interface does its stuff…….

    To get snow you need an air mass with high humidity to encounter below freezing conditions over land.
    The humidity modulates the amount of snow, the number of frost days its duration.

    That the globe is warming is beyond doubt. multiple lines of evidence confirm the last decade was, at the very least, warmer than any decade in the last ~1000 years. Longer if you are unconvinced the MWP was truely as globaly warm or synchronous.

    That has two effects, fewer frost days and high humidity as the higher sea surface temperatures evaporate more water.
    So whatever the cause of the present warming, it would be predicted to have two effects on snowfall. There will be fewer frost days when snow can fall or persist. It will snow less often and melt more quickly. And more snow will fall when it does snow.

    The ‘predictions’ from meterological sources of snow becoming rare is based on the measured change in the number of frost days. It is also measured in the amount and duration of snow cover from satellite imagery. This whole issue arose recently in a thread at WUWT and a poster suggested that winter snow was a frequent as ever; –

    http://climate.rutgers.edu/snowcover/chart_seasonal.php?ui_set=namgnld&ui_season=1

    Or even increasing…
    However on the left of the graph are links to measurements of rather wider regions than just North America and for more than just the winter; –

    http://climate.rutgers.edu/snowcover/chart_seasonal.php?ui_set=nhland&ui_season=2

    I haven’t looked to see if similar data are available for the Southern hemisphere or snow cover in Australia, but the increased snow fall there might be predicted, and even explained, from the higher humidity from rising sea surface temperatures and the movement of the southern western jetstream in spring from the effects of CFC’s on the ozone hole. –

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21512001

  10. Edward says:

    G’day/evening Oz,

    Evidence of glaciation there once Ozboy [maybe?] – looking at tourist photo’s of Albina Lake – from the angle I can see – looks like a corrie?
    No forthcoming glaciation immediately though – La Nina influence still giving lots of snow in the blue mount’s?
    Had a mate who went down under to do a bit of climbing – an Alpinist, said it was bloody cold!

    Jonesy still giving it some old chat here:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13719510 – H/T Bishop Hill.
    New revelation [from CRU?? ha ha ha] – or is he angling for new funding?
    Effin bbc.

  11. izen says:

    “Of course: increased snow is proof of Global Warming. You’ve told us this before. How forgetful of me – Oz ”

    I honestly don’t remember if I have mentioned the increased humidity from warming and its consequences here in the past.
    But it is a central part of the general understanding of climate quite independent of the AGW theory.
    Warming, from whatever cause, measurably increases the carrying capacity of the atmosphere for water vapour. –

    http://www.pnas.org/content/104/39/15248.full.pdf

    Warming alters the hydrological cycle. Some areas get drier, (Texas?) and some get wetter. The change in locality and incidence seems to result in more extreme events.However it is hard to measure ALL precipitation and get reliable figures for any trend on the total global precipitation.

    To reuse a favourite quote, “Proof is for maths and liquor.” and the simplified Popperian principle of falsifiability is inadequate as a criteria of judgment. This is not ‘post-normal science’ a mutant impostor I share your disdain for. The arguments over science epistemology and the limits of simple positivism are well established.
    But to try and use increased snowfall as a credible refutation of a firm prediction of the opposite from the AGW theory is baloney.

    The ‘Snow will be rare’ soundbite from media reports of meterologists is hardly a firm, unambiguous prediction with the aspects of the theory and the deductions made explicitly laid out that resulted in the specific prediction.

    Changes in the locality and amounts of precipitation are predictable from ANY global warming, independent of its cause. That is detectable historically in the changes in sediments and deposition rates in lakes and stalactites. Pointing to changes during the present warming hardly does anything to refute the leading theory as to the cause of that warming, it just confirms its existence.

    [Yep, it still beats disqus!]

    Have it your way. The moment I hear anyone poo-pooing Popperian falsifiability, my Post-Normal radar lights up. You’re placing yourself in some pretty nasty company, you know.

    Of course, increased snowfall for a season or three would not on its own disprove a theory which addresses temperature changes globally. But the reverse argument, however convoluted its rationale, is even sillier: that increased snowfall supports AGW.

    By falsification, I mean this; all over, red rover – Oz

  12. Kitler says:

    Luton Ian they rely on snow melt for their water in Utah, without which everyone would have to leave, Robert Redford owns a ski resort there.

  13. Kitler says:

    Izen we are talking skiing not climate get with the program and lighten up a little. Even in a warmer world we are still going to have skiiing.

  14. Dr. Dave says:

    Kitler,

    There was a great deal of animosity towards Texans when I first moved to NM. The natives wanted them to stay home and just send them their money. Believe me, a LOT of Texans can ski and can ski quite well. The Texas stereotype is fading. Colorado and NM have been over run by so many obnoxious invaders from California, NY, CT, NJ, that Texans seem downright genteel by comparison.

  15. fenbeagle says:

    Troll alert…..

    http://fenbeagleblog.wordpress.com/

    That’s one demented budgie… brilliant! – Oz :lol:

  16. Kitler says:

    DrDave my wife was probably referring back to the 1980’s or 90’s so it may have changed a lot.

  17. Dr. Dave says:

    Kitler,

    Regional attitudes change all the time. But you reminded me of something. In terms of weather extremes, few countries can beat the USA. When I lived in Amarillo, 100+ deg F daily highs were not at all unusual during the summer months. I figured I was toughened up and acclimated. One August I took a trip to Tuscon, AZ. The daily highs were about 111 deg F. Believe me…the difference between 101 and 111 is MORE than 10 degrees! I felt like I was being roasted in white shorts and a white T-shirt. I’d see natives walking around in black jeans and long sleeve shirts. When you live in a dry climate for a period of time you lose your ability to deal with humidity. One summer we drove back to Michigan to visit family. We left at night and drove straight through. About 11AM in western Missouri I got a flat tire. I pulled into a convenience store parking lot to change it. The outside temp was probably in the mid 90s and so was the humidity. Within 10 minutes I was absolutely soaked and dripping like I just out of a shower. When we finally made it back to Michigan we stayed with my (now former) in-laws. I remember sitting out in their front yard one morning after a rain. The sun was out, the temp only about 80 and all I was doing was sitting and drinking coffee. I had sweat pouring from my head like I had just run 2 miles. I simply couldn’t handle humidity anymore.

    I grew up in Michigan and have experienced bitterly cold winters all my life. One year a friend of mine granted me and my (future ex-) wife the use of his condo in Angel Fire over Christmas. It was stupidly cold in Amarillo. We actually had pipes freezing up. But…like idiots…we took the offer and headed for the northern, high mountains of NM. I swear it was colder than the most miserable Michigan blizzard. Skiing is a rather vigorous aerobic activity that keeps your extremities warm. Not this time. It had to be -20 deg F at the top of the lift. I was more covered up than RoboCop with my GoreTex facemask and every other thing I had on. At the end of a single run I could no longer feel my fingers or toes and had to go inside and use one of those chemical warming packs. It was cold beyond anything I had ever experienced in Michigan. So much for being “winter tough”.

    We all acclimate to the climate where we live and usually don’t notice it. My GF moved here from the Florida Keys. She loves to work out in the front yard on landscaping and gardening (an expensive addiction in these parts). She’ll come into the house complaining that it’s like “swamp” out there when the humidity gets above 20%!

  18. Kitler says:

    DrDave you never get used to the humidity you just learn not to do any work outside during summer during certain hours. Having had heat stroke when I first came here I am very aware of this. As for the cold I used go outside and play in -20F weather it probably feels worse if there is a breeze up in the mountains though.

  19. Dr. Dave says:

    Kitler,

    People actually do acclimate to high humidity. I was born and raised in it. A hot Midwestern Summer could be brutal, but we had a very large Lake Michigan only a few miles away to cool off in. Very cold, dry mountain winters wipe out a lot of folks not accustomed to the climate. Although cold and damp, I used to love the winds off Lake Michigan in November. You live in a high humidity zone. Just imagine picking cotton! I live in high desert where we’re bone dry most of the year (except for monsoon and snow season). No matter where you live you will acclimate over a period of time. You know heat and humidity. Try furious heat in the desert southwest some time. Try extremely dry, bone chilling cold in the mountains. Where ever you live, it won’t seem so bad by comparison because you’re used to it.

    Australia’s Top End is one of the most inhospitable places there are for heat and humidity. Up in Darwin (Latitude 12°S) the average temperature range in “winter” (dry season) is 19.2°C/66.6°F to 30.5°C/87°F; in summer (wet season) it’s 25.4°C/77.7°F to 33.3°C/92°F day in, day out with the humidity always high. Lots of suicides in the Top End are blamed on the unrelenting weather. A month at a time is about the most I can take up there – Oz

  20. meltemian says:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-13731216
    June ski-ing on Snowdon anyone?? Whatever happened to hotter Summers?
    We haven’t skied for about 5 years, used to go every winter, but since ‘Himself’ had a new knee we haven’t tried. Can’t afford it now, although we brought all our ski-stuff out here with us as Greece does have some ski resorts. Maybe next winter….

  21. Luton Ian says:

    What indeed. I’m optimistic. Your question hints at armed rebellion, which I doubt (except in places like Greece and Portugal, and who the hell knows how that will play out); I do believe in the power of a democractic society to re-invent itself. The Tea Party revolution in the United States may be the earliest stirrings of change. Real, lasting change at the ballot box, however, will have to be preceded by an intellectual revolution; in our own small way, we’re contributing to that here – Oz

    Armed rebellion, I hope not.
    I was thinking more in terms of whether by state bankruptcy, or by a popular refusal to take part in the collectivists games as they become more and more ridiculous (and ridiculable – oh yes! Fen is taking the lead on that, and bloody good it is too), but with pretty much all of academia living on the titty of taxation, and the the broadcast media competing for state sector licences and funds, it’s an uphill battle to reclaim our responsibilities.

    On the not so peaceful front, check this out, a Misesian protest in Guatemala;
    http://mises.org/daily/799/Revolt-of-the-Misesians

  22. Luton Ian says:

    I’ve twice seen snow at low levels in England in June.

    First of June 76
    about the 6th of June in I think 95
    apparently there was some there in june two or three years ago

  23. Dr. Dave says:

    I didn’t know there was any skiing in OZ. I’ll bet OZ is the only country with a million feral camels that has ski areas. Something else I only recently learned is that gambling is ubiquitous in Australia. In the US legal gambling is limited to Nevada, Atlantic City and perhaps a couple hundred Indian casinos. It’s very hypocritical. You can place a bet at the Kentucky Derby but slot machines and casino games are illegal.

    We’ve tried criminalizing gambling a few times during our history; it’s exactly the same story as drugs. Never works. People want to gamble, and they will. They may as well be enriching the government’s coffers while they do it, not some crime boss who corrupts police and public officials. There remains a strong suspicion (unproven) that Bob Askin, Premier of New South Wales from 1965-1975, was actually the “Mr Big” of illegal gambling during much of his tenure.

    The only problem with this approach is the same as that with tobacco: it makes the government the biggest gambling addict of all. They’re currently fighting the tide of internet gambling, and are spending up big on media campaigns to dissuade people from accessing offshore gambling sites, but to little avail. Small wonder they want to censor the internet.

    Mt Wellington, which overlooks Hobart, is the only place in Australia where you can see (from the summit) both snow and the sea – Oz

  24. Luton Ian says:

    There are precious few countries in the world where you can’t get at least a few feet of skiing on natural snow at some time of year.

  25. Dr. Dave says:

    Ian,

    Yeah…but do they have a million camels running wild with carbon credits on their head?

  26. Kitler says:

    DrDave we have gambling in Mississippi at the Tunica casino’s and in Arkansas, creates lots of jobs and brings in good revenue for the state.
    Luton Ian you will see revolution or civil war in the UK eventually because it is no longer a homogenous society and has been “enriched”. This may be a few decades away though but it’s coming.

  27. Luton Ian says:

    Hmmm,

    I’m not sure how many camels Kenya has, I’ve seen a few there, but was never really into the camelly places. Iraq, Iran, Syria and the Lebenon get snow, Apparently Lebanon had some good ski resorts in the 70s, allong with beach resorts an hours drive from them, they’ve been somewhat culturally enriched since then though.
    Morocco gets snow too, and camels.

    China, has its two humped camels and lots of snowy mountains…

  28. Luton Ian says:

    Can we count llamas, alpacas etc as camels ( I won’t risk counting chinchillas – environmental devastation with almost enough fur to make a willy warmer – for a very small willy on a very cold day)?

  29. Kitler says:

    Luton Ian it snow’s camels in Morocco?

  30. Ozboy says:

    Heh heh, I posted this at the DT but it’s so funny I’ll put it up here too; nice cut-and-paste:

  31. izen says:

    @- Ozboy
    “The moment I hear anyone poo-pooing Popperian falsifiability, my Post-Normal radar lights up. You’re placing yourself in some pretty nasty company, you know.”

    I was not poo-pooing Popperian falsifiability! (a wonderfully alliteritive phrase-grin:-)
    But That hardline logical positivism only works in a context where theories are structured and experiments can be designed that carry the potential to falsify the entire theory. Back in the real world… science finds that theories and experiments are less clear-cut. They don’t always, or often, have simple binary yes/no aspects that can be tested in accordance with the Popperian absolute. The interpretation of results is more equivocal, and the uncertainty of the data is always a confounding factor.
    Bayesian methods turn out to be more useful than simple Popperian dichotomies.
    I am with you in rejecting the toxic trait of post-normal passing paradigms of the Khunian tendency!

    As for the link, well it falsifies some of the results of computer projections from the IPPC report, 3 reports ago. But confirms that there is global warming – from whatever reason.
    Although the way they have used HADCRU2 and graphed the temperatures is perhaps misleading, compare with the current data to see that the last 30 years of independent satellite and surface measurements are not as ‘flat’ or with recent falls as the graphs shown at the link seem to indicate –

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3gl/mean:60/from:1979/plot/uah/mean:60/from:1979

    It would need rather more rigorous mathematical analysis to show the magnitude of any discrepancy between the past (late 80s?) computer projections and the actual data records. It would need some further interpretation as to how far any discrepancy ‘refutes’ aspects of the computer models used, and how much of it is within the inherent uncertainties of the modeling.
    You end up with a Bayesian estimate of probability rather than a neat Popperian ‘proof’.

    Meanwhile… there is measurable global warming. That has diverse effects, with such a complex system as the climate it is inevitable, you can’t change just ONE thing.

    The best indicator of how much the climate is changing is the sea surface temperature and sea level figures. For the last few years they have been almost stable. Good news for the ‘denialists’!
    And humanity in general if it really indicates a negation of the past century’s trend.

  32. Kitler says:

    Izen either an experiment works or it doesn’t for a value of X or what is stated in the theory and can be proven to be statistically significant or not. There is no grey or mauvey purple it is either true or not. That is science. If you can not prove it through experimentation or observation in the real world with enough data you have nothing. Cherry picking the data to make the square peg fit the round hole is not science but pure fraud.
    I love the idea of cold fusion or Lamarkism but in the real world they have been shown to be false theory’s.

  33. Dr. Dave says:

    I don’t know where izen’s post came from. I can only infer that it was in response to something Ozboy posted elsewhere. But it got me thinking about Bayesian statistical modelling which I haven’t thought much about in years. I learned the basics of Bayesian statistics and even had to demonstrate proficiency with Laplace transforms once upon a time in college. In my own career I’m pretty sure I’ve used less than about a dozen standard statistical tests for anything I’ve ever had to do. These were pretty simple, meat-and-potatoes parametric and non-parametric analyses. Most were employed in analysis of clinical outcomes or comparative drug effectiveness.

    Most drugs follow 1st order elimination rate kinetics in the human body. They’re elimination rate dependent like the half life of a radioisotope. You give a patient drug Z with a half-life of 3 hours and the resulting serum concentrations will be cut in half every three hours irrespective of the dose (within the therapeutic range). This is kinda like how the atmosphere responds to CO2. We add more CO2 to the atmosphere and the various and sundry CO2 sinks remove more of it. With 1st order kinetics you eventually reach a steady state. A few drugs (VERY few) follow zero order kinetics. The elimination pathways become saturated quickly even at therapeutic doses (e.g.phenytoin or high dose alcohol). When this happens a small increase in dose can lead to a geometrical increase in serum concentration of the drug. This is roughly analogous to the mythical “tipping point” for CO2 in the atmosphere. Both 1st order and zero order systems can be worked out mathematically and the predictive power is truly impressive.

    But in these cases they’re predicting the concentration of the drug in the body, not the pharmacologic response. A common, old drug called warfarin has been used for many decades as an anticoagulant. The drug is highly protein bound and there appears to be no correlation between measured serum concentration of the drug and physiologic response. I won’t bore you (any more than I have already) with all the details, but physicians measure INR which is an index of relative coaguability of blood and adjust doses accordingly. We know from years of clinical experience that a measured INR of 3.0 (or 3.5 in cases of prosthetic valves) results in an unacceptable risk for bleeding. The maddening part is the huge inter- and intrapatient variability in response to the drug. Some patient have blood like concrete. You can give then 10mg of warfarin a day (a huge dose) and their INR won’t budge. Other patients respond to tiny doses. If you say “warfarin” around them too loudly, their gums start to bleed.

    So some smart guys at the University of Arizona developed software that used Bayesian probability modelling to calculate warfarin doses and predict subsequent INR measurements. They marketed it to physicians’ offices, hospitals and anticoagulation clinics. A hospital where I worked bought the software and they used it for a couple of years. The idea behind Bayesian statistics is that each little data point you add to the database increases the predictive power of the analysis. This software tracked everything you could imagine; patient height, weight, age, gender, disease state(s), every dosage adjustment, forgotten dose, resulting INR, etc. Of course it takes time to build up a robust database so the practitioners relied on well defined dosing protocols in the interim. They had protocols to deal with very high and very low INRs and just followed a protocol of never making more than a 20% adjustment in dose. After two years and thousands of patients they discovered that simple protocols and human judgment out performed the fancy software every time.

    Until izen posted his comment it never occurred to me that climate modellers were using Bayesian probability techniques. These often work poorly in the real world.

    Maybe we should all get down and dirty one day with a thread on logical positivism versus falsifiability (I don’t think Izen quite grasps the difference)… or maybe not.

    It’s a rather surreal conversation you can have with warmists regarding their models’ predictions. Something like this:

    Sceptic: The predictions made in the IPCC TAR are already being proved false.

    Warmist: It’s way too early to draw any statistically significant conclusions regarding their accuracy.

    Sceptic: All right, let’s go back to their 1990 report. We now have over twenty years’ worth of data to compare with those predictions. See here? Completely falsified. QED.

    Warmist: Don’t be silly. You’re talking about the state of climate science twenty years ago. It has advanced well beyond that since then.

    Sceptic (wearily): Such as in the TAR, I suppose?

    Warmist: Exactly.

    See how it works? The beauty of this for warmists, as you can see, is it is a game that can be played ad infinitum. Logical positivism indeed… I call it staying one step ahead of falsification – Oz :evil:

  34. meltemian says:

    OMG – I turn on the computer to see what you have all been up to and am subjected to all this, and before coffee too!!!
    I worked my way through the explanations of Bayesian calculations – OK I almost understand it….
    I have decided to leave Lamarckism and Popperian dichotomies for later when my brain kicks in, and What The Hell is a Post Normal Passing Paradigm??
    I think I’ll take the dog for a walk and ponder………..

  35. izen says:

    The version of science you describe is an idealised stereotype that is actually matched by only a small proportion of actual science practise. The only example I can think of that would match the description would be the confirmation of Bell’s inequality. The principle is derived from basic features of the Quantum theory and it is possible to construct a laboratory experiment that tests unequivically for the inequality.

    But outside the narrow fields of physics and part of chemsitry such direct experimentation and clear-cut testing is much less common. Biology and astronomy are obvious examples where no such definitive experiments and conclusions are possible. Stellar evolution is not directly observable in the lab, no desktop experiment is going to refute the ‘main sequence’ of stars. That theory is tested by computer modelling of the underlying process and then observational searches for ‘fingerprint’ aspects of the process that are specific. The problem is that both the certainty of the ‘fingerprints’ that define attribution are open to question, and the observational data are uncertain. Biology is similar, definitive experiments that can refute major theories are few and far between.

    Indicative of this is that the examples you give, cold fusion and Lamarkism have NOT been refuted by a specific experiment, I understand the ‘Low Energy Nuclear Reaction’ proponents are still optomisdtic that some sort of energy producing device can be constructed. And it is clear that Lamarkism was not refuted by the ‘definitive’ experiment by the German biologist in the 1900s who removed the tails from several suceedding generations of rats to report that no offspring had smaller tails….

    Cold Fusion and Lamarkism are rejected as likely candidates for real science not because a definitive lab experiment has refuted the theories, but because they fail the ‘consilience’ test. There is NOT a body of common science that links them to other fields of science, they do not have a basic physical process that provides a foundational explanation and the experimental observations are equivical at best.

  36. Luton Ian says:

    Oh dear,
    time to swat up on the sociology of science and technology studies… and the perverting influence of a grant which says “successful applications will demonstrate the effects of global warming…”

  37. izen says:

    @- Ozboy
    “Maybe we should all get down and dirty one day with a thread on logical positivism versus falsifiability (I don’t think Izen quite grasps the difference)… or maybe not.”

    Maybe not!
    I for one would relish an excursion into the wilder shores of epistomology, but it is not likely to be that popular for those that find such philosophical musings tedious or irrelevant.

    For a brief summary of the limits of Popperian falsifiability try this –

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/popper/#SciKnoHisPre

  38. Luton Ian says:

    Oz,
    Count me as interested in getting to grips with the debate

    Let me think about it, guys. I don’t have time right now to do it justice – Oz

  39. Kitler says:

    Luton Ian it appears gun Walker has achieved critical mass charges are being filed and it has spread it wings into lots of wrong doings beyond the original crimes.

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