Climate Cargo Cult

The discussion of Cargo Cult Science reminds me of something Dr. Dean Edell once said, about how medical research can sometimes misinform culture.  As an example, he referred to alcohol and its effects on unborn children, and how much of what we think we “know” about this results from studies never fully explained by science.

It is true, Edell said, women who drink during pregnancy tend to have greater risk for birth defects.  However, he added their may be many contributing factors, any of which might not result from moderate alcohol consumption – women who drink often smoke or choose poor diets, may be vitamin deficient, or suffer from emotional trauma or depression.  And, a person’s choice to drink often reflects behavior in other areas of life, things which could also contribute to the poor health of an unborn child (FAS not withstanding).

Information about second-hand smoke has been treated much the same way in the United States.  With help from the anti-smoking lobby, studies on the subject have been widely distorted, resulting in many misconceptions throughout the culture.

Examples like these should be cause for people to question the role science can sometimes play in their daily life, especially as it pertains to agenda.  In fact, these practices have been shown to have dangerous effects.

For instance, it is accepted in medical research that erroneous results are often provided in peer review literature; overlooking or withholding certain information, which leaves doctors disadvantaged making critical health decisions.

In some cases this is done by accident, where the science is poor or researchers jump to conclusions.  In other situations – the more cynical moments – science is skewed to achieve notoriety, maintain research grants, or increase profit margins.

Dr. Richard Feynmanhits the nail on the head

1974 Caltech ” Cargo Cult Science speech

Listening to Feynman speak, one imagines he would consider feeding code into computer models – designed to establish a “pre-assigned expectation” – just another form of “Cargo Cult Science” (like Milliken’s values for viscosity of air, bad info in = bad info out).  Or, when “peer accepted” climatologists attempt to discredit a fellow PhD for “peer dissent,” it equals nothing short of censorship.

Interesting to note here – is how a convention like TED (a forum rife with theory) makes room to argue the disastrous state of  “peer review,” as it relates to medicine, but has yet to invite or post discussions held with any leading scientist who disagrees with, and can speak objectively, and non-politically, about theories involving “anthropogenic global climate change” – such as Henrik SvensmarkRichard Lindzen, Lennart BengtssonRobert M. Carter, Ross McKitrickNir Shaviv, …… and the list goes on.

For those who don’t know already, Dr. Feynman was one of the more brilliant scholars the last century produced – a physicist, and mathematician.  As a contributor to The Manhattan project and NASA’s shuttle program, he did not live to see today’s hyperbole surrounding “anthropogenic global climate change.”  Though if he had, it would be interesting to hear what he would say.

He did leave us with much great insight about the scientific process however, and about scientists themselves.  He spoke often of the need for rigorous integrity in the sciences, teaching his students –

Mother nature is what she is, whether we understand it, approve of it, or want it. He told students to beware of experts, especially those who tout their expertise. He insisted that true scientists are always humble in the face of awesome ignorance, and that even the most knowledgeable people should bear this. He also said that every great truth is immersed in uncertainty.  

Looking at the state of science and culture today, it seems Feynman’s rigor is something  “die-hard-climate-changers” rather not notice.   As they rally for legislation which threatens the world economy; they would further disadvantage the poor, and use tactics not so dissimilar to that of BigPharm or BigTobacco – veritably converse to Feynman’s consultation; they patronize the layman, protect their income and political influence, and prefer to ostracize those results and peers which don’t suit them.

Thankfully, the public seems to be catching on. The 2009 Climategate emails suggest a serious lack of integrity exists among some of today’s most influential climatologists.  It is unknown whether global temperature fluctuations the last 100 years are a creation of man, or just mother nature changing her mind.  Carbon levels are up, but as to what effect it is having on climate, science is still unclear.

Those who insist otherwise have not been honest with the evidence –  “building runways to nowhere, and waiting for planes” – another member of the “Climate Cargo Cult.”

33 responses to “Climate Cargo Cult

  1. Your statement is unclear to me. AGW is cargo cult science?

    A perfect example of cargo cult science is the Discovery Institute (or Biologic Institute). They’ve got all the little science instruments, but they’ve already decided what their conclusions will be. I don’t think the same is true of the climate change research. There’s plenty of room for dissent and outside voices.

    • @C0nc0rdance

      I don’t mean to be argumentative…. but how can you say there is “plenty of room for dissent and outside voices,” when you consider content in the links I provided? All anyone needs to do is read the to get the merest sense this is not the case.

      Furthermore, we see efforts like that of Brad Johnson, editor of and formerly of “Think Progress” (along with those associated with him), boasting on Twitter they gathered 110,000 signatures urging the Washington Post “to stop publishing climate lies” – as they claim were offered in Charles Krauthammer’s recent piece, “Settled Science.”

      Meanwhile politicians of the highest order run around claiming “anthropogenic” GW is “fact,” in order to rally support for whatever bloated GW spending bill they can think up next. And so, “this” is what I am referring to by “Cargo Cult Science,” as it relates to GW.

      In fact, the “anthropogenic” factor is nowhere near proven (surely the last 17 years of flat lining temperatures suggest this). As well, the planet is full of many mysteries the last 4.5 billion years which (at the very least) leave proclamations “that man is to blame” in question. We are measuring 100 years of hard data, and using geologic data in order to “speculate” the rest (I do not deny temperature readings, but I do question the role “mother nature vs man” plays in all this, and the effects of rising carbon levels – as it pertains to global temperature, and the planets ability or inability to radiate heat – according to what “computer models allow”).

      Therefore, we should keep an open mind. There are plenty of “dissenters” who would argue with your assertion “anthropogenic” GW is open for debate … at least within the “peer review” process.

      • For me, my concern has always been with how we are looking after our planet, how we are using existing resources and what state will we be leaving our planet in for future generations. I can see how world-wide discussions about ‘climate change’ has lead to heavily influencing policy decision making but I really struggle believing that we have enough data to quantify some of our decisions. We have such little data to rely on and the rest is based on what we believe we think we know about our planet. So I am sticking to this – we need do what has to be done to be respectful to our planet so it can be healthy and productive for future generations…we are here for such a very, very small amount of time! This we should be doing with or without the tag of ‘climate change’…

      • Well put … obviously our best approach should be to maximize use of the most efficient energies available – in order to care for, feed, and educate as many as possible – to maximize economic out put and innovation. We should always be working toward cleaner more renewable energy solutions, and plan for a warmer planet or rising sea levels if that is the case.

  2. Yes, science data CAN be skewed to show one way or another. But, there is a catch to this. Science eventually catches it. Why do I say that with such certainty? Just look up if you cannot remember off-hand the whole cold fusion debacle. That was science with data skewed and it WAS caught, like almost all bad science is.

    The reason it is caught is because while yes, an initial study may be published in a journal, but those studies are to be published with their methodology for achieving the results they had achieved. This is where things get interesting because now other scientists have the ability to perform the same tests and see where the results lead. It also allows for the opportunity to view the test in the proper light using proper blinds where necessary, making sure the environment the study is in is as neutral as possible, etc.

    This is why, for instance, there are HUNDREDS of studies released that show GMO foods, for example, are not harmful (at least our current stuff). These studies are replicated worldwide and the data in this instance isn’t lying.

    Now you come to the next step: Metadata + Interpretation. We all know how the process of Meta-data works. And no, it isn’t just massaging data to get the desired outcome. Why is that not the case? Because those same studies are publicly available and can be checked. Sure, we can lie and blast out blatant untruths about the results. That will hit news. But, it should also, by the laws of science itself, eventually be found and corrected.

    I have more to type but it hurts my hand to type from the laptop. I will try to type some more in the morning.

    • @Steven K Melendez

      Couldn’t agree with you more.

      However, I would add that the “peer review” process can be dramatically flawed, as entire data sets go unpublished when believed to contain no “useful” information (or in other cases, where those less scrupulous withhold certain information to further “substantiate” other studies made previously available for peer-review).

      This piece was an attempt to reach those who seem to have made up their mind about AGW, and hopefully help them understand the “crony” nature which exists in AGW science – as it gets used to further political agenda (not that those who “want” to know this don’t already).

      Nevertheless I’m amazed at the level of “AGW indoctrination” going on today’s public schools – as though it were somehow settled. Therefore, I just couldn’t help myself.

      Yes, you are right to mention GMO as well (makes me wish I’d included it in my piece). I find Dr. Henry Miller to be a great source of information on this subject, and the many misconceptions people have about it.

      Thank you for sharing 🙂

  3. I would imagine that if over-analyzed the physics of gravity you could theoretically come to the conclusion gravity is just an illusion. Taking the same approach we could conclude Climate Change is an illusion as well.

  4. @Ruben Bernardino

    Not sure I follow ….

    Since this piece is not so much about “denying” climate change, as it is attempting to refute ideas that “anthropogenic” climate change is a “fact.”

    Obviously global temperatures are what they are. And, there may be shifts in climate over the last 100 years – however science is still unclear just how great these shifts, and their source or effect.

    To be honest, the “anthropogenic” factor is nowhere near proven in this debate (surely the last 17 years imply this). We are measuring 100 years of hard data and using geologic data in order to “speculate” the rest. In which case, I do not deny current temperature readings, but I do question the role “mother nature vs man” plays in all this, and the effects of rising carbon levels – as it pertains to global temperature, and the planets ability or inability to radiate heat – according to what “computer models allow.”

    And so, to use your analogy – the “gravity” may be there but (same as with gravity) we don’t understand “the cause.”

    • Your gravity argument is a nice try to make your point but it shows your deep ignorance of science which may explain your climate denial attitude. We do know the cause of gravity as well as we know the human made cause of global warming. I do not even have the time for this argument. I’ll just end it saying the evidence is out there and overwhelming. But if it makes you feel better that humans have no responsibility in global warming, global pollution and global health, you have a right to believe so. You are in America and you have the freedom to believe in fairies, flying elephants or any kind of cult if you so wish.

      • @Ruben Bernardino

        “Deep ignorance” … really?

        I regret the case you’ve made for my now embarrassing you but (since you took to calling me "ignorant" on my own page) I will try to resist taking too much pleasure in it.

        In fact, the cause for gravity is NOT known – only the mathematics which describe its effect, relative to the other "known" laws and forces (see how the word "known" appears here in quotes, indicating it is not presumptive and has been provided with an awareness of the scientific process, which you obviously do not possess) –

        It was of course thanks to Einstein that physics began to take a different view of gravity, in relation to Newton's laws, etc –

        However, while this presented physics with a better view of gravity, regarding local objects and massive bodies in relation to space/time, it did nothing unfortunately to resolve the CAUSE for gravity, and why it exists – only that it is a force – theorized to emanate from the family of bosons – its effects are much weaker than physicists would like to predict, and represented as G in quantum field theory, or "the graviton" (a theoretical particle).

        And so Mr. Bernardino, you might consider being more objective in these conversations, as it seems it is YOU who are ignorant of the facts. Bring a copy of Einstein’s “Theory of General Relativity” next time you put your head in the sand, and maybe you'll appear smarter than you actually are in that (questionable) "Gravatar" you offer.

        Nevertheless, since you are the self proclaimed "cleantech entrepreneur," and expert in all matters scientific – which apparently includes “anthropogenic global climate change” – I would like if you can provide for me what you consider "proof" that climate change is "man made" – using all your "scientific wisdoms" and "overwhelming evidence,” if you please.

        As it happens, I am quite capable of providing you evidentiary factors which refute CERTAINTY as it regards the "anthropogenic argument" in this debate (which I remind you is the foundation for our discussion). However, I'm guessing this would be a waste of time given your comments (in which case try educating yourself with the links found in my article – the one you chose to reply on).

        Until then, challenged by "objective thinking” such as you are, let me suggest you have a look around. My guess is you will find many others who look just like you; spoon fed "facts" with eyes wide shut, yet another “ignorant” member of the "Climate Cargo Cult."


      • WHOEVER READS YOUR BLOGS AND TAKES YOU SERIOUSLY IS AS DISCONNECTED FROM REALITY AS YOU ARE. Your arguments and words can persuade the naive but you cannot fool any with a minimum of culture and common sense. My time is too precious to spend with demagogues like yourself, and that is a compliment. Your level of intelligence and consciousness only allows you to put arguments in the same way that a frivolous car salesman or a politician would. Pathetically enough you believe that you have the truth but it’s OK. It’s the state of evolution where you are and you probably need to be there before you go somewhere else. THIS IS JUST TO LET YOU KNOW I CANNOT TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY BECAUSE YOU ARE LIVING A FALSE REALITY. ARGUING WITH YOU IS LIKE ARGUING WITH THE WALL. It goes nowhere. Your level of ego, fanaticism and ideology leaves no hope for an honest conversation. I will spend no more time on your blog. You obviously brought me here to argue. Something I could not resist because of the promoting of your irresponsible, fundamentalist, and even worse, your bullying, dangerous and dysfunctional views which MAKE PEOPLE IGNORANT AND HURT US ALL PROMOTING RESISTANCE TO PROGRESS AND SOLUTIONS TO THE GLOBAL CRISES WE FACE SUCH AS CLIMATE CHANGE. If it was not for that I would have not objected to your views. I believe in diversity of views and I could not care less what people like or think. I do however soon everyone will find them laughable. So long Troymo. I am done with you and your comments for good. Remember “As you sow, so shall you reap”. Good luck to you.

      • @Ruben Bernardino

        Rage hard Berny… not exactly what I call “scientific wisdom,” but suit yourself.

        I will just close by reminding it was you who chose to comment on my blog, and you who started with the insults; which incidentally makes your self-righteous-delusion-of-a-diatribe all the more bizarre in it’s contradictions.

        Furthermore my being a “fundamentalist” (as you call it), would require I take a “hardline position” in spite of the facts (which any “sane” person reading our exchange will see I have not done, unlike yourself).

        It is therefore you who are the fundamentalist here; spewing forth absolutist views – and one very impressive rant – to those you do not know, and who cause you to (re)consider some well guarded [narrow] view you have, of the matters we discuss.

        Keep in mind, those of us interested in (all) the evidence are not out to “destroy the world.” Nor are we necessarily “uninformed.” When you speak as though we are, and overstate “the facts,” you allow your lack of sophistication to obscure what might otherwise end up (dare I say) objective analysis.

        I hope in 20 years time you’ll be able to look back on this and understand, these efforts (and anger) of yours today were more about a personal struggle for relevance; in a world fraught with confusion, and misconstrued agendas. At such time you will also likely see that “climate change happens” – regardless of era, or of man. But that’s beside the point.

        Only time will tell if this “carbon footprint” of ours ends up having as dramatic effect on the world as you think it does.

        In the meantime let me at least acknowledge your passion, conflicted as it is. Passion is something which does seem lacking at times, in too many people. And, just maybe you should consider using some of that passion to explore “your angry paradigm.”

        Oh and by the way, normally I wouldn’t let a post like the one you just offered onto my site. But as your comments are a perfect display of the “cult-like irrationality” which surrounds this subject – as referenced in the originating article – thank you for making my point 😉

  5. Pingback: (Mis)Leading the Way | troymo

  6. OMG that was hilarious. “culture and common sense”, a sure sign he has no facts to base his argument on. You simply must believe him to save the earth..

  7. Wow! What a way to get my education – it sure beats the “out behind the barn” type. I loved the debate, which, of course, was no real debate at all. You were so cool that you reminded me of my Spirit teacher who, like you, remains objective in the face of my resistance to develop mature thinking. Yes, and all those millions of voters who think they know what they are voting for – it is scary, but also, hopefully, a cause and purpose to those who could inform and raise their level of awareness. It has to begin at a roots-level. Top-down is not to be trusted.
    Good luck.

    • lol … well institutions have a way like that. Though given uncertainties regarding the “anthropogenic” focus in this debate, I would say there is a “cult like” mentality exhibited by those who insist AGW is settled science .

  8. I do like this post. Very well done. I am a longtime fan of Feynman, and one of the things i would say is this: there is always uncertainty, knowing one piece of something completely will always leave some other information out. It is the level of uncertainty that matters. this can be calculated. With the same kind of precision that allows for Quantum Teleportation, or redundancy in data transmissions that have dirty signals, we can have an idea of what we dont know. This is why climate change models work. Calculating the statistical significance can give an idea of how far off something will be. a +/- range. To say we know ANYTHING to 100% certainty is wrong. there is none. it is like the infinity… we can get infinitesimally close, just never quite get there. I like your posts, thanks for sharing 🙂
    my ‘other’ blog also…

    • Thank you for the compliment 🙂 While I understand the case you make and agree with most of it, I would argue “climate change models work,” since they assume we understand all variables being entered into the equation, when there is reason to believe otherwise (hence my reference to Milliken above). In other words, many would argue we do not completely understand thermal exchange in sea water, or even the green house effects of water vapor.

      In fact, current climate models are based on science which assumes past Co2 levels precede a rise in global temperatures, despite strong evidence suggesting “the Co2/GW coloration” actually performs in the opposite direction.

      I realize how hard it can be for people to shift their position in this argument, until they can view evidence contrary to their position objectively. Sounds as though you may already understand the subject.

      That said, you will find the following film does a great job explaining many of the assumptions made when using current climate models, and how they (likely) fail their intended purpose.

      • Well, I will refer you back to Milliken’s error once again as premise, and use Dr. Edell’s example for analogue IE – you can predict women who drink will have higher rates of birth defect, while reasons for why this is remain unclear – you might assume moderate alcohol consumption is the cause in every case, and could develop computer models to predict past or future outcomes accordingly. Nevertheless, it would be incorrect.

        As I mentioned there is strong evidence to suggest Co2 levels rise when the global temperature also rises (whether due to volcanic activity, solar activity, or any other cause). In fact, oceans are the largest contributor of Co2 into the Earth’s atmosphere by far. Heat the planet and oceans will produce more Co2.

        There are different models than those so cherished by the IPCC (an organization incidentally born out of policies by Margaret Thatcher’s administration – hoping to incentivize Britain’s demand for nuclear energy amidst UK’s miner strikes of 84-85) which also predict past/future trends. However, these (other) models suggest rising Co2 levels actually lag behind an increase in global temperatures by roughly 800 years.

        Therefore, the quandary in this case is the “chicken and the egg.” The models you refer to do show a correlation between Co2 and GW, it is true. And, many do see these models as an accurate indicator of past/current temperature trends (despite global temperatures having essentially flat lined for 18 years – contrary to what IPCC models allow). However, IPCC models make the “assumption” Co2 came first, where there is good evidence to suggest the opposite.

        In which case the Co2 being produced by man (which by the way is absolutely dwarfed by volcanic, compost, and oceanic activities) is a red herring in this debate, and would suggest IPCC models intended to prove anthropogenic global warming “(likely) fail their intended purpose.”

        I highly recommend taking an hour and fifteen minutes to absorb the information in the link I offered. I think you will at least find it interesting and informative, if not enlightening. Thank you for commenting. I’ve enjoyed the exchange 🙂 

  9. Speaking of cargo cults are not todays mega sized shopping malls effectively cathedrals to the now world wide cult of shopping. The credo of which is I Shop Therefore I Am, or Shop Till You Drop.
    With the 24/7 advertising (propaganda) industry, especially TV being the equivalent of the church bells calling everyone to Sunday service, or in the case of Islam, the call to prayer.
    Thus propagandized into the one-truth-faith of unlimited shopping, the faithful get into their cars and make a pilgrimage to the local temple/cathedral – they do not of course walk.
    On arrival they can then receive their supply of bright shiny multi-coloured cargo or ersatz fake happiness, which they can then take home and consume in private.

    Of course hardly any of the highly propagandized dreadfully sane ‘faithful” consumers ever stop to ask where any of the bright-shiny multi-coloured cargo comes from, or how much human blood-sweat-and-tears was involved in making this cargo, or how much environmental destruction and/or species destruction too. Or if there is any connection to human caused global warming and climate change
    Or if there is any connection between all of this bright-shiny-cargo and the never-ending wars for the control of oil in the Middle East (and other resource wars too – in Afghanistan for instance) And the “necessity” for the USA to have well over 800 military bases all over the planet – to protect American “interests” and the cargo-cult supply-lines.

    And of course the “faithful” consumers will (and do) get mad-as-hell if their favored cargo is somehow not available. Thus looking for some collective scape-goat to target or blame for being a threat to their “faithful” way of life.
    Thinking of believing that the American way of life as defined by the right to unlimited consumerism is non-negotiable. Or as George Bush said in response to September 11 – keep shopping.

    • Well … I cannot argue that western civilization has mastered a form of pseudo-brainwash, whereby it’s people can be manipulated into buying whatever “fad” it thinks up next. And, I suppose you could think of the dynamic which exists between modern day “marketing” and it’s “consumers” as “cult-like.”

      However, I think you may have misinterpreted the originating thesis which inspired my post, as “cargo cults” are not so much a product of “manipulation” as they are a “well intended-misunderstanding.”

      Not sure if you’re familiar with Dr. Feynman’s “cargo cult science” speech – included in the piece I wrote. It really is worth a listen, and should provide the basis necessary for differentiating the two.

      Thank you for commenting 🙂

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