Woo-Woo!

A review of the video Remote Viewing.

I’m going to recommend all skeptics watch this. It dates from 2009 and is only 20 minutes. I was able to watch it for free on Amazon Prime Video. Of course you have to have an Amazon Prime subscription, however you can watch it on YouTube by paying $1.99. Call it $2.00. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rlgcSCLzaA

You’re going to see some people you recognize, so I will start out with a cast of characters:

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Charles Tart you are going to know for sure. He’s been familiar to the NTS for decades:

Charles Tart was a “parapsychologist” doing research at the University of California at Davis. He used a machine called a “Ten-Choice Trainer” (TCT) to help people with psychic ability improve their scores on tests for same. The test worked like this:

A sender in one room viewed a panel with ten playing cards, ace through ten. A randomizing mechanism would select one of the ten cards and would activate a light next to the card. The sender would then push a button, causing a signal to be sent to the receiver. This told the receiver that the sender was now looking at the selected card. The receiver would then turn a dial to select the correct card. The dial position was fed back to the sender in real time, allowing the sender to mentally direct the receiver to the correct card. Finally the receiver would select a card by pushing a button next to the card. If the receiver’s choice was correct, a chime would sound. This would provide positive reinforcement and would help the receiver to learn and to sharpen his extrasensory perception (ESP) skills.

Tart wrote a book describing his work, Learning to Use Extrasensory Perception, published by Chicago Press in 1976. In the book he claimed scores considerably better than could be expected by chance. He heralded his results a “breakthrough” in ESP research.

Came time for Gardner to review the book in 1977 for NYR, and he, as was his practice, went beyond checking for spelling and grammar. As Gardner reports, three of Tart’s colleagues at UC Davis wrote a critique of Tart’s experimental method. They had read Tart’s book and asked to see the raw data. Reviewing the data they realized, for one, the randomizer was not exactly random. They likened Tart’s protocol to a chemist using a dirty test tube and obtaining anomalous results, and they suggested that Tart repeat his experiments after fixing the problem of the non-random random number device.

Gardner saw an additional flaw in Tart’s technique. If the sender, subconsciously or deliberately, delayed sending his signal to the receiver, the receiver might pick up on this idiosyncrasy, and this could become a signaling path from the sender to the receiver. The receiver could pick cards depending on the amount of delay and could improve his score above chance.

Gardner also points out a finding by the mathematicians who examined the data. There is an unexplained absence of doublets. Not so many 2, 2 and 7, 7 sequences, for example, as one should expect. The TCT recorded only the receiver’s score, not the entire sequence of random numbers. This led to the possibility that the sender was hitting the send button a second time whenever the new number was the same as the previous number. The receiver could significantly increase his score by never choosing the same card twice in a row.

Wait, there’s more. The sender and receiver were in nearby office cubicles, and one sender, Gaines Thomas, revealed he would sometimes orally coax his own display of the receiver’s actions as he monitored them on his display. He would curse when the sender appeared about to stop on the wrong card. Whether the receiver was ever cued by these sounds coming from the sender’s cube is not known.

In response to the criticism, Tart revised his technique and repeated his experiments. He published his results as “Effects of Immediate Feedback on ESP Performance: A Second Study” in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research.1 Gardner tellingly quotes a significant statement in the paper: “There is no evidence that more percipients scored significantly above chance than would be expected if no ESP were operating.”

Rather than admit the initial results were due to his own faulty technique, Tart, as Gardner reports, attempted to explain away this lack of success. Principally, there was a lack of ESP talent for the follow-up experiment. “In the last year or two, students have become more serious, more competitive, more achievement-oriented than they were at the time of the first experiment.” And more.

Tart asserted the results of the first experiment were so significant they could not be ignored. As Gardner comments, Tart could not reconcile that the first experiment demonstrated his failure as a scientist. Rather, his earlier results put the results of the second experiment into doubt. Gardner, and the reader, are dumfounded at the audacity. Not speaking for Gardner, I would add I am not in the least surprised by Tart’s reasoning.

The information I have on Lyn Buchanan may be stale:

Leonard (Lyn) Buchanan is the Executive Director of Problems>Solutions>Innovations(P>S>I) which started as a small data analysis company in the Washington, D.C. area in 1992 after Lyn’s retirement from the military.

In late 1995, when the US government declassified their Remote Viewing project, information became public about Lyn’s prior involvement with that project as one of the unit’s Remote Viewers, Database Manager, Property Book Officer and as the unit’s Trainer. Public demands for training and applications became great, and P>S>I moved into the remote viewing field full time, bringing with it Lyn’s extensive databasing capabilities. At the present time, P>S>I possesses the most complete body of data on the applications of remote viewing in real-world applications.

Major Ed Dames:

The world’s foremost remote viewing teacher, and creator of Technical Remote Viewing, Major Edward A. Dames, United States Army (ret.), is a thrice decorated military intelligence officer and an original member of the U.S. Army prototype remote viewing training program. He served as both training and operations officer for the U.S. government’s TOP SECRET psychic espionage unit.

Edward Dames is a ROTC Distinguished Military Graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. Between 1979 and 1983, Major Dames served as an electronic warfare officer and scientific and technical intelligence officer.

In 1982, Ingo Swann, under the direction of Dr. Harold Puthoff, head of the Remote Viewing Laboratory at Stanford Research Institute, realized a breakthrough. Swann developed a working model for how the unconscious mind communicates information to conscious awareness. To test the model, the Army sent Major Dames and five others to Swann as a prototype trainee group.

The results exceeded all expectations – even those of Swann. In six months, Major Dames’ teammates were producing psychically-derived data with more consistency and accuracy than had ever been seen in similar intelligence projects using even the best ‘natural’ psychics. In late 1983, the team parted company with Swann. As the new operations and training officer for the unit, Dames took this breakthrough skill, dubbed ‘Coordinate Remote Viewing,’ and began a new phase of research, testing, and evaluation in order to both uncover its true capabilities, and to perfect its application to fit crucial intelligence collection needs.

Dr. Dean Radin:

Dean Radin, PhD, is Chief Scientist at the INSTITUTE OF NOETIC SCIENCES (IONS) and since 2001 has periodically lectured at Sonoma State University and served on doctoral dissertation committees at Saybrook University and the California Institute for Integral Studies. His original career track as a concert violinist shifted into science after earning a BSEE degree in electrical engineering, magna cum laude with honors in physics, from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and then an MS in electrical engineering and a PhD in psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. For a decade he worked on advanced telecommunications R&D at AT&T Bell Laboratories and GTE Laboratories. For three decades he has been engaged in frontiers research on the nature of consciousness. Before joining the research staff at IONS in 2001, he held appointments at Princeton University, University of Edinburgh, University of Nevada, Interval Research Corporation, and SRI International.

He is author or coauthor of over 250 peer-reviewed scientific and popular articles, three dozen book chapters, and three popular books including the award-winning and bestselling The Conscious Universe (HarperOne, 1997), Entangled Minds(Simon & Schuster, 2006), and a 2014 Silver Nautilus Book Award, SUPERNORMAL (Random House, 2013). These books have been translated into 14 foreign languages, so far. His technical articles have appeared in journals ranging fromFoundations of Physics and Physics Essays to Psychological Bulletin and Journal of Consciousness Studies; he was featured in a New York Times Magazine ARTICLE; and he has appeared on dozens of television shows ranging from the BBC’sHorizon and PBS’s Closer to Truth to Oprah and Larry King Live. He has given over 350 interviews and talks, including invited presentations at Harvard, Stanford, Cambridge, Princeton, and the Sorbonne, for industries including GOOGLE and Johnson & Johnson, and for various US government organizations including the US Navy and DARPA.

Dr. Jessica Utts:

Jessica Utts (born 1952) is a parapsychologist and statistics professor at the University of California, Irvine. She is known for her textbooks on statistics and her investigation into remote viewing.

In 2003, Utts published an article in American Statistician, a journal published by the American Statistical Association, calling for significant changes to collegiate levelstatistics education.[3] In the article she argued that curricula do a fine job of covering the mathematical side of statistics, but do a poor job of teaching students the skills necessary to properly interpret statistical results in scientific studies. The argument continues that common errors found in news articles, such as the common misinterpretation that correlative studies show causation, would be reduced if there were significant changes made to standard statistics courses.

Utts was elected to serve as the 111th president of the American Statistical Association, with her term as President-Elect to commence in January 2015, followed by her term as president in 2016.

Up front be prepared to be impressed by the power of the mind and the remarkable phenomenon known as remote viewing. Lyn Buchanan asks, “Do you want the party line history, or do you want the real history?” Of course, we want the real history. And it is remarkable.

Being able to pinpoint a target anywhere on the globe within 35 feet. Locate terrorists, their hostages… We’ve been finding information that saved lives.

Folks, this is good stuff.

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It was necessary for our government to engage in this research, because the Soviets were making great strides. They may have possessed the ability to beam some sort of energy at President Reagan during his participation in the SALT negotiations, thereby clouding his mind and putting the United States at a disadvantage.

Stop for a moment at this thought. There are many of the opinion that President Reagan’s mind did not require additional clouding, but that’s beside the point. We were concerned the Soviets were taking the lead.

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This is not woo-woo stuff. The video shows actual hardware. We see what may be two large electrolytic capacitors, and if you have ever dealt with those, you know how dangerous they can be, what with their ability to store large amounts of electric charge at high voltage.

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Proof of the ability of the human mind to work miracles is also demonstrated. Here are two shots from the video in sequence. Please observe the salt shaker has definitely moved.

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Additional benefit was derived from this research when participants were asked to review satellite imagery from a site in Siberia. The remote viewer said there was a very large shed there, and the Soviets were building a huge submarine vessel. Officials scoffed until such day as the end of the shed was opened and the submarine was rolled out. The Soviets thereupon constructed a canal and floated the boat to the “North Sea.” I regret that my search of the Internet has failed to learn anything regarding a large Soviet submarine constructed in Siberia. I’m also having difficulty with this geography, because my impression has always been that no part of the North Sea touches Siberia.

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There have been scoffers. A book by Jon Ronson, The Men Who Stare at Goats, pokes fun at this kind of nonsense. That was in 2004. A subsequent film came out in 2009, staring George Clooney.

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And all that is just a preamble to the real substance: What is the truth behind remote viewing and the research that purports to support it? Some discussion:

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Start with the ganzfeld effect:

The ganzfeld effect (from German for “complete field”) or perceptual deprivation, is a phenomenon of perception caused by exposure to an unstructured, uniform stimulation field.[1] The effect is the result of the brain amplifying neural noise in order to look for the missing visual signals.[2] The noise is interpreted in the highervisual cortex, and gives rise to hallucinations.[3]

It has been most studied with vision by staring at an undifferentiated and uniform field of colour. The visual effect is described as the loss of vision as the brain cuts off the unchanging signal from the eyes. The result is “seeing black”,[4] an apparent sense of blindness. A flickering ganzfeld causes geometrical patterns and colors to appear, and this is the working principle for mind machines and the Dreamachine.[5] The ganzfeld effect can also elicit hallucinatory percepts in many people, in addition to an altered state of consciousness.

Ganzfeld induction in multiple senses is called multi-modal ganzfeld. This is usually done by wearing ganzfeld goggles in addition to headphones with a uniform stimulus.

A related effect is sensory deprivation, although in this case a stimulus is minimized rather than unstructured. Hallucinations that appear under prolonged sensory deprivation are similar to elementary percepts caused by luminous ganzfeld, and include transient sensations of light flashes or colours. Hallucinations caused by sensory deprivation can, like ganzfeld-induced hallucinations, turn into complex scenes.[5]

The effect is a component of a Ganzfeld experiment, a technique used in the field of parapsychology.

Remote viewing is often associated with the ganzfeld effect. The viewer is subjected to sensory deprivation, typically by having halves of ping-pong balls taped over his eyes to completely obscure vision without blocking ambient light. White noise is played into headphones the subject wears.

Next, an agent goes to a remote place and at a specified time views the surroundings. And takes a photo. The subject—the viewer—is then asked to make a drawing of what the agent sees. Next, an independent referee is shown photos of what the remote agent saw and compares these photos with what the viewer drew. Also shown are photos from disparate scenes. The referee is required to pick the photo what most closely resembles what the viewer drew.

While some experimenters have claimed remarkable success, my own observation of these experiments leaves me unsatisfied. A healthy degree of rigor seems to be lacking. We at the North Texas Skeptics have engaged in what we consider to be more controlled studies, one of which was related to our Paranormal Challenge.

A few years back Rechey Davidson contacted us:

Thanks for your response. Sorry for having a “bad” subject line. I was just told to contact you. Mr. Kramer has my application and letter of explanation of what ability I have. His letter said the application was accepted for preliminary testing. His letter seemed to indicate he was forwarding you the necessary information. Am I just needed to contact you to arrange for testing. What is the next step now? Do we meet or what? From the Challenge Instructions, it sounds like you want me to resubmit my description to you. If so, do I just e-mail you or mail you a letter? Do I tell you what I can do and you draft something back?

Briefly, I have been able to dowse maps of people’s homes (Or other locations) where they have lost specific items and have been able to tell them where the item is. They have, so far, been able to verify they found the item where I said it was. This has happened even if I have never been to their home. Do I just need to submit more detail and suggest how to test this or what? Thanks. Rechey Davidson

This is not exactly remote viewing, but it illustrates the methods we employ:

I scanned in the builder’s floor plan for my house and labeled the major rooms with capital letters. I sent Mr. Davidson a link to the scanned image, and he printed it out. He said he was satisfied with that, and we got started.

The object of our affection was my Nikon digital camera. I chose that because I only have one like it, so Mr. Davidson would not have the problem of dowsing for one of several identical objects.

We got started in early September and finished up two weeks later. Each day or so Mr. Davidson would send me an e-mail telling me in which room the camera was placed, and I would record his score and move, or not move, the camera to a different room. Here is the result:

  • Test 01: 7 September 2004, Camera placed in B, Davidson called E
  • Test 02: 8 September 2004, Camera placed in A, Davidson called G
  • Test 03: 13 September 2004, Camera placed in D, Davidson called L
  • Test 04: 14 September 2004, Camera placed in D, Davidson called F
  • Test 05: 15 September 2004, Camera placed in F, Davidson called H
  • Test 06: 16 September 2004, Camera placed in J, Davidson called E
  • Test 07: 17 September 2004, Camera placed in G, Davidson called B
  • Test 08: 18 September 2004, Camera placed in A, Davidson called B
  • Test 09: 18 September 2004, Camera placed in F, Davidson called E
  • Test 10: 18 September 2004, Camera placed in E, Davidson called J
  • Test 11: 19 September 2004, Camera placed in E, Davidson called B
  • Test 12: 20 September 2004, Camera placed in E, Davidson called D

We all found it remarkable, but not impossible, that Mr. Davidson scored absolutely zero in twelve trials.

I have long considered how we would do a remote viewing experiment. It would go something like this:

  • Start off as before, sensory deprivation or whatever the remote viewer claims to require. The onus is on the remote viewer to perform.
  • Completely isolate the remote viewer from the remote agent. The agent is expected to be at a site of his choosing, unknown to anybody else conducting the experiment, at a given time.
  • At the given time a phone call verifies the agent is at the site, and is taking the photo.
  • The remote viewer is told to visualize what the agent sees and to make the drawing.
  • The agent produces additional photos of disparate sites.
  • The agent brings a collection of images, five or more, back to the location of the experiment. The photos are given to a referee with no evidence of when the photos were taken. The referee is given the drawing.
  • The referee must pick exactly one of the photos that best matches the drawing. All other photos are discarded.
  • If the chosen photo is not the one associated with the drawing, the test results are determined to be negative. There is no second guessing.

This latter point is something I find missing in descriptions of remote viewing experiments that show positive results. There is typically such language as, “This one was my second choice, and it’s the one taken when the viewer had the vision.” Or, “The referee chose this one, but it also resembles this one.” It’s this kind of stuff that points out the bad experimental procedure associated with remote viewing research.

The Jon Ronson book would make for a good review. I will obtain a copy and do a review. Watch for it in the next few months. The movie, as well.

The Comical Conservative

This is a repost from Skeptical Analysis. For the complete history follow the links, search for the title to see additional postings.

Don’t get too excited about the title. I’m reusing it to maintain continuity. This is going to be about the Comical Environmentalist.

Sometime back I reposted a Rick McKee cartoon from Facebook and used that as a starting point for a discussion about anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Here’s the cartoon:

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I have referred to this cartoon in multiple posts. After the most recent post Rick posted a lengthy comment, and I initiated an email dialog with him. And I agree with him on one point. From his comment:

So, I have a question for you: Can you not see how a reasonable person, having been bombarded with all of this contradictory, false and alarmist information for all these years, could be skeptical of anything to do with the topic of climate change, which, in fact, was the point of the cartoon?

And my answer is yes, I can see how environmental activists are sometimes their own worst enemy. You can have a noble cause. You can have a just cause. Your cause can be right. That is, it can be factually correct. And all of that can be undone by extremism in the name of conviction.

In a previous post I took the cartoon to task for oversimplifying a complex issue. A problem with the cartoon is it makes use of—as required by the cartoon medium—hyperbole and shallow presentation. I figure it’s no good to find fault without remedy. And I propose to provide remedy by doing better. I can do the cartoon one better. I can provide substance and detail. Where to start?

Let’s start with something Rick mentioned:

Ecologist Kenneth Watt stated, “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”

All right, I tried to run that one down. The references I found could not confirm that Watt actually spoke those words. Neither did he say anything like that:

Best Answer:  I’m not sure. Each and every single website I see, as you found too, merely gives the quote and no link to the transcript of the speech, or any further context besides “He once said in a speech at Swarthmore…” Of course, we all know how easily stories are taken and repeated without any sort of analysis at their validity.

I had graphed temperature data from NASA’s GISS, NOAA, and HadCRUT3v together a little while ago. I’m not sure what data Watt presumedly [sic] looked at, but there was no discernible trend during the “twenty years” he allegedly referred to. Temperatures actually began their descent in 1940, and leveled out after 1945 until they began to rise again in the seventies. Why would he claim that that trend would produce 4˚C cooling in 20 years? And 11 in 30?
http://www.flickr.com/photos/56645614@N0…

Nobody’s saying Kenneth Watt never said it. It appears to be completely apocryphal, with no contemporaneous account of such a speech. The Wikipedia entry for Earth Day includes the quote, but there is no associated link. However, it is the kind of thing Watt might have said, taking into account some of his other proclamations:

Watt also stated, “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil.”

Neither does that one have a home, and readers are invited to help me find a link.

A problem with Internet research is the fluidity of the information. Often the provenance of sources is incomplete, and this is particularly true of sources that date from before the time everything started getting put on the Internet. More particularly, this applies to sources from deep history. An example, one of the references Rick cites, is this:

The Arctic ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot…. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers, he declared, all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone… Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts, which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds. – Washington Post 11/2/1922

Yes, we’ve seen this one before, and it was on this blog:

Second, Tom neglected to put the Post article into perspective. The article is based on an item inMonthly Weather Review, a publication of the American Meteorological Society. Here is the original article from the AMS:

And readers can go to the previous post and read the full context. It’s a context that is typically left out when enthusiasm gets the better of rigorous scholarship. The full context shows this was not some alarmist prediction from 1922 but was a report on a local climate anomaly observed in the vicinity of “Spitzbergen and Bear islands under the leadership of Dr. Adolf Hoel, lecturer on geology at the University of Christiania.”

What a serious writer will do is obtain access to contemporaneous sources—newspaper clippings, journal reports, correspondence.

Especially, newspaper reports are beyond value—they are next to impossible to forge. Somebody can print up a fake news clipping, but it can be exposed by matching it with any number of other copies of the same issue. Also of worth is the time value of a clipping. A news item published immediately after an event has credibility over something that finds print days, weeks, or years later. Additionally, corroboration can be obtained by comparing clippings from separate publications.

Journalistic sources published on the Internet are equally valuable, provided they are contemporaneous. Although Internet publications can be altered by a few keystrokes, the reputation of the source will preclude attempts at fraud. Absence of fraud is in no small part due to the thousands of readers who keep tabs on Internet news and place pages into archival storage.

The case of the 1922 Washington Post item is an example of obvious fraud. What happened is somebody scanned the clipping, did not follow up and obtain the complete context, and then posted the item on the Internet (or somewhere else) to highlight an argument against AGW. Subsequent users forwarded the fraudulent story without realizing the fraud, or caring. This is often the case when a story tells somebody what they want to believe. And it’s done by both sides of any divisive issue.

Rick McKee responded to my previous post with 124 years of Failed Climate and Environmental Predictions. I count 92 separate references in Rick’s comment, including the one relating to the 1922Washington Post item.

Some others of the 92 are worth mentioning. I have made slight edits to Rick’s list, adding item numbers and such, and have produced a PDF. Readers can refer to the enumerated list, which I have posted on-line.

Take number 1:

Is our climate changing? The succession of temperate summers and open winters through several years, culminating last winter in the almost total failure of the ice crop throughout the valley of the Hudson, makes the question pertinent. The older inhabitants tell us that the Winters are not as cold now as when they were young, and we have all observed a marked diminution of the average cold even in this last decade. – New York Times June 23, 1890

What’s this all about? It appears to be a news report about weather changes of interest. If you’re like me, you’re going to have difficulty reconciling this with “124 years of Failed Climate and Environmental Predictions.”

Items 2 and 3 appear to discuss a coming ice age. Here is number 2:

The question is again being discussed whether recent and long-continued observations do not point to the advent of a second glacial period, when the countries now basking in the fostering warmth of a tropical sun will ultimately give way to the perennial frost and snow of the polar regions – New York Times – February 24, 1895

The word “failed” has no apparent relationship with these two items. These are newspaper articles discussing the projected repeat of the previous ice age. Although AGW may turn out to forestall the next ice age, nobody 100 years ago was thinking about this. For your viewing, here is a chart of historical global temperatures relating to previous ice ages:

Science-Ice_Age_Temperature

Here’s number 5:

Scientist says Arctic ice will wipe out Canada, Professor Gregory of Yale University stated that “another world ice-epoch is due.” He was the American representative to the Pan-Pacific Science Congress and warned that North America would disappear as far south as the Great Lakes, and huge parts of Asia and Europe would be “wiped out.” – Chicago Tribune August 9, 1923

“North America would disappear as far south as the Great Lakes.” Yes. Just as in the previous ice age.

Number 8:

“Gaffers who claim that winters were harder when they were boys are quite right…weather men have no doubt that the world at least for the time being is growing warmer.” – Time Magazine Jan. 2 1939

As with a number of the others, it’s difficult to see how this is an argument for or against the current science related to AGW.

Here are numbers 76 and 77:

“Globally, 2002 is likely to be warmer than 2001 – it may even break the record set in 1998. – Daily Mirror August 2, 2002

Next year(2003)may be warmest recorded: Global temperatures in 2003 are expected to exceed those in 1998 – the hottest year to date – Telegraph UK- December 30, 2002

 

Would you believe these two predictions turned out to be pure bullshit. Actually not. They were only partially bullshit. An analysis of the top ten warmest years on record include 2002 and 2003. Both were warmer than 2001, which means the first prediction was true. But 2002 and 2003 tied for hottest years on record, meaning 2003 average temperatures were the same, not greater than, 2002. It might be interesting for readers to go to the NOAA site and check out the numbers.

Number 78 is a problem for climate scientists as well:

(The) extra energy, together with a weak El Nino, is expected to make 2005 warmer than 2003 and 2004 and perhaps even warmer than 1998 – Reuters February 11, 2005

Oops! Check with the NOAA page. 2005 turned out to be warmer than 1998, 2003, and 2004.

And I’m getting tired of playing this game. While I suspect there are some other clinkers among the 92, I’m going to spot Rick this, and agree that many of his references are accurate and pertinent. That allows me to avoid having to diagnose each of the 92 and to get back to the topic of this post. Sidestepping matters of AGW, here are some major fubars related to environmental issues:

By 1985 enough millions will have died to reduce the earth’s population to some acceptable level, like 1.5 billion people. – Paul Ehrlich

Yeah, you have to wonder what Ehrlich was thinking, if he was thinking, at all. It is comments like this and others that should have cost Ehrlich dearly in the marketplace of ideas. To give you an idea of how little effect this kind of silliness can have, I subsequently heard reference to “respected scientist Paul Ehrlich.”

Here are some additional silly comments by people who should know better:

“[Inaction will cause]… by the turn of the century [2000], an ecological catastrophe which will witness devastation as complete, as irreversible as any nuclear holocaust.” Mustafa Tolba, 1982, former Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program

“We’ve got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?” Lee Iacocca, CEO/Chairman, Chrysler Corporation, 1979-1992

It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it. Dan Quayle

Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let’s not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources. Ronald Reagan

Rick McKee is right. We should be skeptical of what gets pushed into the nightly news or posted on the Internet.

In real science, as in real life, it’s not what what people say that matters, it’s what is that matters. In the end, facts trump opinion. People may, if they choose, post “124 years of Failed Climate and Environmental Predictions,” but that does not make an argument. What makes an argument is a statement of fact.  I’m going to restate something from previous posts:

I have been following the topic of AGW for over 20 years, and a recurrent observation is that people opposed to the science rely on quotes and opinions, some from real scientists, and not so much on the basic science. What any opponent to the science needs to do to refute AGW is to demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does not absorb infra red radiation.
  • Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are not increasing dramatically.
  • Increases in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are not due to human activities.
  • There are natural sources to the increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that supersede the human contribution.

I have put this out before, and nobody has come back at me on it. Keep reading.

 

The Age Of Embarrassment

Cross posted from Skeptical Analysis

GlobalWarmingHickMentality

We haven’t had one of these in a while. So, what’s new?

A Real Climate Scientist Demolishes Bill Nye’s Global Warming Alarmism

All right, this one is a bit old—from last year even. That aside, I want to thank whoever posted this on Facebook for me to pick up. The truth be known, Facebook is a prime source of story ideas for this blog.

And this is refreshing. For once I’m not having to explain some fact-deprived meme from The Comical Conservative. This time we have Dr. Roy Spencer, an actual climate researcher, weighing in. And he has much to say about the evidence. Actually, he doesn’t. At least in the YouTube clip he doesn’t. Additionally, the item posted by Austin Peterson on The Libertarian Republic presents little in the way of evidence, either for or against the case for anthropogenic global warming (AGW). But Spencer is a real scientists working in the field, and it is worth knowing what he had to say in the interview.

Global warming alarmist talking heads like Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Al Gore are constantly paraded around as experts on climate.

I hope not. Because none of the three do research related to climate, and nobody would seriously refer to them as experts. What they happen to be are public defenders of the science behind AGW—speakers, if you like. In fact, you can discount Vice President Al Gore right off the bat, because his expertise is politics, and his training in serious science is close to vacant.

On the other hand, Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson have taken some college courses—Tyson more so—in physics, and the science of physics lies at the base of the study of AGW. In full disclosure, I have had college courses in physics, including four in the critical field of thermodynamics, and it is from this background that I come to agree with the argument for AGW.

To be sure, Dr. Roy Spencer has had these courses, and beyond that he has degrees in atmospheric science, including a Ph.D. in  meteorology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The Wikipedia entry for Roy Spencer lists a number of peer-reviewed papers critical of AGW, such as this one:

In 2007, Spencer and others published a paper in Geophysical Research Letters regarding negative cloud feedback in the tropics that potentially supports Richard Lindzen‘s Iris hypothesis, which proposes that as the tropical atmosphere warms, cirrus clouds decrease, allowing infrared heat to escape from the atmosphere to outer space. Spencer stated, “To give an idea of how strong this enhanced cooling mechanism is, if it was operating on global warming, it would reduce estimates of future warming by over 75 percent. […] Right now, all climate models predict that clouds will amplify warming. I’m betting that if the climate models’ ‘clouds’ were made to behave the way we see these clouds behave in nature, it would substantially reduce the amount of climate change the models predict for the coming decades.

This paper is available on-line from the American Geophysical Union, and I have retained a copy for your viewing:

https://skeptic78240.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/climatescience-spencer-01.pdf

Spencer’s objections to AGW, based on publication topics, appear to be related to the effects of clouds on solar energy loss. Some of his publications have received major push-back from other scientists. Of note is a recent work published in 2011 with William Braswell:

In 2011, Spencer and Braswell published a paper in Remote Sensing concluding that more energy is radiated back to space and released earlier than previously thought. Spencer stated, “The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show. There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.”

The paper was criticized by numerous climate scientists. Kerry Emanuel of MIT, said this work was cautious and limited mostly to pointing out problems with forecasting heat feedback.

The editor-in-chief of Remote Sensing, Wolfgang Wagner, later resigned over publication of Spencer and Braswell (2011), stating, “From a purely formal point of view, there were no errors with the review process. […] the problem I see with the paper by Spencer and Braswell is not that it declared a minority view …but that it essentially ignored the scientific arguments of its opponents. This latter point was missed in the review process, explaining why I perceive this paper to be fundamentally flawed and therefore wrongly accepted by the journal.” Wagner added he, “would also like to personally protest against how the authors and like-minded climate sceptics have much exaggerated the paper’s conclusions in public statements”.

Spencer responded that Wagner’s assertion was wholly inaccurate, “But the paper WAS precisely addressing the scientific arguments made by our opponents, and showing why they are wrong! That was the paper’s starting point! We dealt with specifics, numbers, calculations…while our critics only use generalities and talking points. There is no contest, as far as I can see, in this debate. If you have some physics or radiative transfer background, read the evidence we present, the paper we were responding to, and decide for yourself.”

Andrew Dessler later published a paper opposing the claims of Spencer and Braswell (2011) inGeophysical Research Letters. He stated, among other things:

First, [they] analyzed 14 models, but they plotted only six models and the particular observational data set that provided maximum support for their hypothesis. Plotting all of the models and all of the data provide a much different conclusion.

At the very least, Spencer’s methods indicate a lack of scientific rigor. I went into this with the possibility of finding an additional factor, that factor being denial of AGW is strongly linked with political alignment and to a lesser degree with religiosity. Spencer’s Wikipedia contains two notes pointing toward religious influence:

Spencer is a signatory to An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, which states that “We believe Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence —are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception. Recent global warming is one of many natural cycles of warming and cooling in geologic history.”. He believes that most climate change is natural in origin, the result of long-term changes in the Earth’s albedo and that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have caused some warming, but that its warming influence is small compared to natural, internal, chaotic fluctuations in global average cloud cover. This view contradicts the scientific consensus that “most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities”.

And:

In TCS Daily, Spencer wrote, “Twenty years ago, as a PhD scientist, I intensely studied theevolution versus intelligent design controversy for about two years. And finally, despite my previous acceptance of evolutionary theory as ‘fact,’ I came to the realization that intelligent design, as a theory of origins, is no more religious, and no less scientific, than evolutionism. In the scientific community, I am not alone. There are many fine books out there on the subject. Curiously, most of the books are written by scientists who lost faith in evolution as adults, after they learned how to apply the analytical tools they were taught in college.” In the book The Evolution Crisis, Spencer wrote, “I finally became convinced that the theory of creation actually had a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution, for the creation model was actually better able to explain the physical and biological complexity in the world. […] Science has startled us with its many discoveries and advances, but it has hit a brick wall in its attempt to rid itself of the need for a creator and designer.”

Climatologist Patrick Michaels has defended Spencer, arguing that his religious beliefs have nothing to do with his climate change research.

Dr. Michaels holds a “Ph.D. in ecological climatology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison” and is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank whose agenda includes opposition to AGW. He is correct in arguing that Spencer’s religious beliefs have nothing to do with whether he is correct in his conclusions. Most likely, there are many researchers supporting AGW who are also deeply religious.

What bears on religion and science is the matter of demonstrable science as opposed to personal opinion. Spencer has published his research, some of it valid, some not so much. Base on his research and that of others he voices the opinion that AGW is without merit. It’s here the value of his opinion comes into play.

When a person says in one breath that AGW is invalid science, and in the next breath he expresses belief in a mythical person who created the universe in six days and has power over our daily lives, then you can begin to doubt his conclusions regarding AGW. My observation from many years is that if a person’s thinking is horribly screwed up in one part of his brain, it’s time to closely examine everything else he says.

The Age of Embarrassment is still upon us, and there will be more on this. Keep reading

 

Minutes of the 9 April Meeting

NTS Executive Meeting

9 April 2016

IMG_8505

Agenda

Goal: Explore the feasibility of on-line meetings

Things to Consider:

Pros:

  • On-line meetings will be more convenient for many members.
  • We can save time, since there are minimum setup and take-down activities.
  • More members and outside guests will be able to attend.
  • We can have speakers from anywhere in the world.
  • Internet access is not required. People can attend by phone.
  • On-line meetings will not replace face-to-face gatherings. These will be reserved for social functions.

Cons:

  • On-line meetings lose the fact-to-face quality.
  • We need to decide our future dealings with the Meadows Center.
  • The North Texas Skeptics may lose its regional identity.

There are a number of platforms available:

  • Skype
  • Uberconference (we have to pay $10 or $15 per month for greater than ten attendees)
  • Gotomeeting
  • Let’s do some research to see what else is available.

Stategies to improve attendance:

  • Exercise more on-line marketing, recruit additional members, get the word out to members.
  • Obtain high-profile speakers. Authors with books to promote can attend remotely at no cost to themselves (and to us). Prominent activists for skeptical causes can be induced to speak remotely and for free.

Vote: It was decided to move forward with implementing on-line meetings and working to improve participation.

Contact John Blanton (skeptic75287@yahoo.com) and Prasad Golla (pngolla@yahoo.com) to participate or to make suggestions.

NTS Program for March

Saturday, 12 March, 2 p.m.

Meadows Center, 2900 Live Oak Street In Dallas

What do the following have in common?

  • Organic foods
  • GMO
  • Anti-vaccination
  • Power lines
  • Nuclear power

These are matters that dog political liberals, who cling to concepts that deserve additional skepticism.

  1. Liberals (as opposed to conservatives) are more inclined to believe unsupported claims for organically-grown food.
  2. Concerning aversion to genetically-modified organisms (food), liberals lead the way over conservatives.
  3. While both conservatives and liberals are involved in the anti-vaccination phobia, liberals distrust the scientific evidence to an extent unbecoming.
  4. The power line scare is a big bugaboo of liberals, not so much conservatives.
  5. Liberals are unduly fearful of nuclear power, as opposed to conservatives, who voice fewer objections.

We’re going to discuss these and other skeptical issues that of the American left.

Start with liberals and organic food.

Here’s the result of a poll published in The Washington Post:

Poll: Those most likely to eat organic are young, rich or liberal

 August 18, 2014

You might be a jerk if you eat organic food, but you’re also probably living in a city or out West.

According to a Gallup poll, about half of all U.S. adults “actively” seek to add organic food to their diets, whereas 15 percent avoid it.

The July poll of about 1,000 adults across the country found that Americans most likely to eat organic are in the West, live in a city, are 18 to 29 years old, vote Democrat or have an annual household income greater than $75,000. Those most likely to avoid organic foods are basically the opposite: those who live in the East, live in more rural parts, are age 65 or older, vote Republican or have an annual household income less than $30,000.

The report published the following chart:

organicpoll2

Then, there is the matter of GMO.

Here’s an item from Discover Magazine:

There has been recent talk about GMOs and political orientation recently. Keith Kloor has pointers to the appropriate places. The general impression on all sides seems to be that elite voices against genetically modified organisms are on the Left.To my knowledge this is correct, especially in the United States. But is this true more broadly? We can use the General Social Survey to explore this further. It has a series of questions relating to genetically modified organisms. All except one were asked in 2006 (the exception was 2010).

For replication here are the variables:

Row: EATGM POLINFGM BIZINFGM MEDAGRGM MEDINFGM GMMED GMPOL GMBIZ POLINFNK

Column: POLVIEWS(r:1-3″Liberal”;4″Moderate”;5-7″Conservative”)

There results are presented below (rows add up to 100% for each question).

Attitudes toward genetically modified foods by ideology in the general social survey

Table-01

Table-02

Table-03

Next: liberals and the anti-vaccine movement.

Again, an item from The Washington Post:

The biggest myth about vaccine deniers: That they’re all a bunch of hippie liberals

 January 26, 2015

The dangerous problem of vaccine denial is getting more and more attention — thanks, sadly, to an outbreak of measles (an extremely contagious, vaccine-preventable disease) that began at Disneyland in southern California late last year.

At the same time, research is focusing on how clusters of people who don’t vaccinate their kids pose perhaps the greatest risk — a new study in Pediatrics finds that many of these clusters are in very politically liberal areas of California like “northern San Francisco and southern Marin County.”

Here’s the thing, though: We shouldn’t leap from this evidence to the assumption that refusing vaccinations is a special phenomenon driven by the ideology of the political left. There are also religious groups with low vaccination rates that have seen measles outbreaks, for instance, such as theAmish in Ohio and Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn — not groups that you could reasonably call “left wing.” And then, there’s rejection of the HPV vaccine in particular, which tends to be associated with the religious right.

And here’s a chart that went with the article:

PoliticalAntiScience

The great power line scare

We did this one back in 1995:

Paul Brodeur has been a writer for The New Yorker for 35 years, and has published several books on issues of environmental hazards, including Currents of Death, The Zapping of America, and Asbestos and Enzymes. His book The Great Power-Line Cover-up (Little, Brown and Company, paperback, 351 pages, $12.95) was published in 1993, and an updated edition was released earlier this year.

The story according to Brodeur begins with “The Calamity on Meadow Street.” Two hundred and fifty yards long with only nine houses, Meadow Street in Guilford, CT, has had more than its share of cancer cases since the 1970s. It didn’t take the residents long to spot the culprit, a prominent electric substation on the street. After explaining the travails of the Meadow Street residents, the author spends the remainder of the book detailing his evidence that man-made electromagnetic fields in general and power lines specifically are a cause of cancer in humans.

grid

An item from Canada is more recent:

Federal Liberals jump on power line controversy

The federal Liberal election campaign wasted no time including health concerns from the controversial new power lines in Tsawwassen.

Finally, liberals and nuclear power

I go to Science Blogs for the following posting:

Are liberals against nuclear power more than conservatives? Yes

Posted by Razib Khan on July 25, 2008

Because of the increased prices in gasoline and the perception of scarcity in terms of power, there has been a lot of talk about nuclear. There have been many comments of late from the Right that the Left is opposed to the utilization of nuclear power, and often gleeful the observation that many European countries such as France and Sweden are highly reliant on this technology. But is it true that liberals are more averse to nuclear than conservatives? I checked the GSS for the following questions:

– Nuclear power dangerous to the environment?
– Likelihood of nuclear meltdown in 5 years?
– Nuclear power a danger to my family?

The tables below show the proportion of various ideologies in terms of responses to these questions. The responses to the left are more nuclear skeptical than those to the right.

LiberalsNuclearPower-01

LiberalsNuclearPower-02

LiberalsNuclearPower-03

UPDATE 11 March 2016

Alternative medicine

Apparently liberals embrace alternative medicine to some degree. Bernie Sanders, even Hillary Clinton have shown support in the past:

Although Sanders avoids mentioning alternative medicine in his current campaign literature, his long history of support of alternative medicine is pretty clear.  As Time magazine has reported, Sanders has adopted alternative medicine since he started his political career in Vermont.

An article in the journal Integrative Medicine (definitely an alternative medicine promoting journal ) bemoaned the fact that in 2015, the loss of the US Senate to the Republicans would lead to Bernie Sanders losing his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

What’s this got to do with alternative medicine you ask? The article states that “Bernie Sanders … is credited with inserting the licensed complementary and alternative medicine professions into the workforce Section 5101 of the Affordable Care Act. He’s also a strong advocate for vast expansion of access to integrative services across the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).”

The Age Of Embarrassment

Second in a series

This is cross-posted from Skeptical Analysis

I got started on this topic (see above) through a note that was passed to me by a former classmate from high school. If you have not already, take some time to read through the initial post. It’s about a local climate report from 1922 telling of exceptionally warm weather around Spitzbergen Island, Norway. The gist is we were expected to conclude from reading this 93-year-old report that warming climate has been with us since before the consumption of fossil fuels kicked into high gear. Therefore, there is no basis for claiming that current human activities are contributing to unwarranted global warming.

I posted a link on Facebook and was pleased to get some response. I reconstruct the conversation below. I stated:

Thanks to an old school chum for sending me this:

And I posted a link (see above) to the original post. The remainder of the dialog continues:

Dan Haha!

Don’t forget the 60s – 70s scare about Global Cooling, and the Population Bomb.

John Blanton How can I forget. Unfortunately, anthropogenic global warming is no scare. Some are beginning to be impacted already. Check your friends who live in the Marshall Islands.
http://hi.water.usgs.gov/studies/kwaj-serdp/

USGS Pacific Islands Projects: Impact of Sea-Level Rise and Climate Change on U.S.…
HI.WATER.USGS.GOV

Dan What’s the proof this is man-caused?

CO2 is 1.4 times heavier than air, so it can’t be that.

John Blanton Excuse me. Is that your argument?

Dan That is 1/12 of it.

Is that your answer to my question?

John Blanton Maybe we need to start over. Do you have an argument/statement to make? If so, let’s see it. We will go from there.

Dan Your statement was that Anthropogenic Global Warming  is no scare. I reacted to that.

John Blanton I will elaborate. As opposed to a scare, AGW is a for real thing. Hopefully that clears things up.

Dan It clears up your beliefs.

Thank you.

John Blanton Dan, Thank you for thanking me. But back to the topic. The post on Skeptical Analysis was about the failed assault on climate science, and my position is that climate science comes down in favor of the fact that human activity is causing global warming, along with many of the consequences discussed elsewhere.

Your position is either 1) you agree with my position, or 2) you disagree, and you are about to give me the reasons why. You mentioned “CO2 is 1.4 times heavier than air,” which is not strictly true, but it does get across the idea that CO2 is denser than air. Then you continue, “…so it can’t be that..”

My background on the density of CO2 is not relevant to the discussion. The number 1.4 is not correct, but Dan’s point is pertinent. CO2 is denser than air. The problem is that Dan never connected this to any argument about the validity of AGW. Given the opportunity, I am sure he will make his point in the future. I continued my response:

If you have evidence that human activity is not responsible for global warming, now is the time to lay it out. You can also post your response as a comment to the blog post.

Remember, my post on Skeptical Analysis pointed out that there is a crowd of people who object to the conclusions of the climate scientists, but they never give any evidence that human activity is not responsible.

Dan You call yourself (or associate yourself with) a skeptic. However, your response appears mostly emotional:

1. The burden is on one positing an assertion to support it. Proving a negative is not required, if it’s even possible (e.g. prove there is no God).

2. When you say “the climate scientists,” it implies those are the only ones, or the only ones that matter. That is not the case. There is a huge and growing group of climatologists who see huge flaws in “Global Warming.”

3. You did not refute the evidence I did give. Why should I supply more?

4. On which other Earth-like planet is CO2 a “greenhouse gas?”

5. If “Global Warming” (meaning anthropogenic) is happening, why have the key researchers been caught three times cooking the numbers? How many times were they NOT caught (not asking for a number).

6. If GW is true, why have they again changed the name? Now, it’s “Climate Change?”

7. On that note, what exact change are they denoting, or (as we’ve seen) do they squeal loudly at any supposed anomaly? Obama recently blamed ISIS attacks on “Climate Change” with ZERO scientific support.

8. If GW is true, what is the proper average temperature that we should be experiencing now, and on what basis is that number calculated?

9. The current “deviation” of temperature is statistically insignificant. That is, it’s well within the plus/minus 3% of a GOOD (that is, not cooked) statistical sample of temperatures. As we’ve seen, we DO have a cooked study, so the margin of error is higher.

10. If GW is true, why won’t the IPCC release details of its model so other climatologists can examine its validity?

11. How, exactly, will paying a tax to Al Gore’s “Carbon Exchange” in England save the planet? The exchange was moved from Chicago after that exchange’s political connections were exposed.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrybell/2013/11/03/blood-and-gore-making-a-killing-on-anti-carbon-investment-hype/

I have more, but how’s that for a start?

Blood And Gore: Making A Killing On Anti-Carbon Investment Hype
FORBES.COM|BY LARRY BELL

As can be seen, the conversation initially took an erratic path. A bit of back and forth got it back on track, resulting in an excellent response from Dan. I will diagnose pertinent parts of the conversation in turn.

1. Dan posted a short chuckle and a comment concerning some history, likely not relevant: “Don’t forget the 60s – 70s scare about Global Cooling, and the Population Bomb.”

I responded and attempted to get the discussion back on line: “Unfortunately, anthropogenic global warming is no scare. Some are beginning to be impacted already. Check your friends who live in the Marshall Islands.” And I posted a link to the problem in the Marshall Islands.
http://hi.water.usgs.gov/studies/kwaj-serdp/

2. Dan asked, “What’s the proof this is man-caused? CO2 is 1.4 times heavier than air, so it can’t be that.”

I was confused about what Dan was referring to. I was unable to find the antecedent to “this” as in “this is man-caused.” I was also confused about the statement that CO2 is 1.4 times heavier than air. It is not.

I asked Dan if that was his argument. He replied that was 1/12 of it. At that point I put in some ground work to restart the dialog, and Dan responded with his 11 points. I will go over those points, each in turn.

The first point is unnumbered:

You call yourself (or associate yourself with) a skeptic. However, your response appears mostly emotional:

Yes, I do call myself a skeptic. To do otherwise would be disingenuous. I will leave it to readers to determine whether my response is mostly emotional.

1. The burden is on one positing an assertion to support it. Proving a negative is not required, if it’s even possible (e.g. prove there is no God).

Dan’s point is well made. Proving the absence of AGW is proving a negative. A couple of points in response:

The original Skeptical Analysis post is not about proving the absence of AGW. It is about people who claim AGW does not exist and the methods they employ. Emphatically, the post is about the methods they employ.

My position is that AGW is real, and I am prepared to demonstrate good evidence it is.

2. When you say “the climate scientists,” it implies those are the only ones, or the only ones that matter. That is not the case. There is a huge and growing group of climatologists who see huge flaws in “Global Warming.”

When I say “the climate scientists” I do intend to imply these are the scientists who count. My observation is that there are relatively few actual scientists who doubt the reality of AGW, while the vast majority of climate scientist agree with the reality of AGW.

Dan asserts, “There is a huge and growing group of climatologists who see huge flaws in ‘Global Warming.’” He needs to justify that statement in a manner that does not require redefinition of the word “huge” and maybe even the word “growing.”

Here is a (possibly incomplete) list of scientific organizations taking the position the AGW is real:

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Chemical Society
  • American Geophysical Union
  • American Medical Association
  • American Meteorological Society
  • American Physical Society
  • The Geological Society of America

Discount the AMA if you want, but the remaining on this list involve studies directly related to AGW. Add to that the United States National Academy of Sciences, some others, and 197 other organizations listed at this link.

Anticipating that Dan will respond to the foregoing that science is not a democracy, and scientific fact is not determined by majority vote, I will remind him that he is the one who introduced the argument incorporating the words “huge and growing group of climatologists.”

3. You did not refute the evidence I did give. Why should I supply more?

I did not refute the evidence that Dan gave, because I was unable to locate said evidence in Dan’s comments. At this point I ask Dan to remind me what evidence he posted.

4. On which other Earth-like planet is CO2 a “greenhouse gas?”

Dan has me there. I am unable to answer that question. Neither am I able to answer the question, “What’s the average weight of the American bald eagle.?Both are equally relevant. I will be permitted to bypass this point of Dan’s.

5. If “Global Warming” (meaning anthropogenic) is happening, why have the key researchers been caught three times cooking the numbers? How many times were they NOT caught (not asking for a number).

Two points in response to this:

  • Dan needs to demonstrate the factuality of his premise that “key researchers been caught three times cooking the numbers.”
  • This is not a statement, rather a question. Dan needs to employ a statement of fact, supposed or otherwise, rather than ask a question. For example: “Key researchers been caught three times cooking the numbers.” Then there will be something to debate. What Dan is doing is what I discussed in the original post. People who deny AGW are not presenting factual arguments. Instead, they are putting forward peripheral issues, many of which do not bear on the validity of AGW.

Regarding that last, if opponents of the science behind AGW want to prove their case, they have ample opportunity to do so. All they need to do is to demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • Carbon dioxide, methane, and other such gases do not trap heat from solar radiation in the atmosphere.
  • The concentration of these gases is not increasing and has not been steadily increasing for the past 50 years (and more).
  • Human activity is not contributing significantly to the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
  • Events beyond human control are alone responsible for the warming.
  • The temperature of the combination atmosphere and hydrosphere is not increasing and has not been increasing for the past 50 years and more.
  • The increase in global temperatures has had little or no impact on human well-being.

That last point may be superfluous to my argument. My argument is that the AGW is real. It’s impact on human well-being is another matter.

6. If GW is true, why have they again changed the name? Now, it’s “Climate Change?”

See above. This is a question and not an argument. Also, were it posed as a statement of some kind, it would still not be relevant.

7. On that note, what exact change are they denoting, or (as we’ve seen) do they squeal loudly at any supposed anomaly? Obama recently blamed ISIS attacks on “Climate Change” with ZERO scientific support.

A statement this time, but again one that is not pertinent. Dan needs to elaborate on the statement before I can attempt to address it. How about some actual quotes?

8. If GW is true, what is the proper average temperature that we should be experiencing now, and on what basis is that number calculated?

Again a question and not a statement. Dan needs to argue his point. That aside, these two questions will be addressed later in this post.

9. The current “deviation” of temperature is statistically insignificant. That is, it’s well within the plus/minus 3% of a GOOD (that is, not cooked) statistical sample of temperatures. As we’ve seen, we DO have a cooked study, so the margin of error is higher.

Point number 9 and finally a statement of fact. If Dan will be so kind as to supply some references I will check them out.

10. If GW is true, why won’t the IPCC release details of its model so other climatologists can examine its validity?

Again a question. If I may be permitted to offer assistance, I recommend this point be posed as a statement. For example: “The IPCC refuses to release details of its model. This does not allow other climatologists to assess the validity of the model.”

As it is, Dan’s point 10 is a classic example of “begging the question.” The question is posed in such a manner as to state a conclusion, the conclusion being that the IPCC refuses to release details of its model. It could be the IPCC has refused to release these details, but Dan does not state that, and, further, he does not cite any references to support this in the event it is factual.

11. Dan’s point 11 is again an irrelevant question. The fact is that Al Gore is a politician and does not remotely resemble a scientist. His views on the matter have no bearing on the validity of AGW. The absurdity of associating Al Gore and the validity of AGW is exemplified in a collection of memes I posted a few months ago. Here is one.

Leo blog : The Heartland Institute conference billboard in Chicago

Leo blog : The Heartland Institute conference billboard in Chicago

The summary of Dan’s excellently-composed comments is that he has followed the example of those I sought to pillory in my original post. Tom Vittrup wanted to portray AGW as baseless, and his means was to post an irrelevant story from The Washington Post in 1922. Breitbart News Network wanted to portray AGW as baseless, and their means was to post a fact-deficient item about scientists cooking data.  The Washington Times wanted to portray AGW as baseless and their means was to imply NASA was hiding data. None of the sources I presented in my previous post made any effort to disqualify AGW using scientific data. This despite the excellent opportunity to do so by demonstrating any of the cases I mentioned previously (disprove carbon dioxide traps solar energy, etc.).

That dead horse now well beaten, I do need to address a very legitimate point made by Dan. That is, I should not only charge others to disprove the validity of AGW, I need to demonstrate its factual basis. This cannot be done exhaustively in just a few paragraphs, so I will, instead, demonstrate some points bearing on the basis of AGW. I have previously posted on this matter, and I will refer back to that post rather than completely rehash the issue. I said this:

What is it about otherwise intelligent people that bubbles the stupid to the top the moment they get the hots for public office. Do they feel the need to plumb the depths of the electorate gene pool? Possibly.

Presidential candidate Jeb Bush was commenting on the science behind AGW:

“Look, first of all, the climate is changing. I don’t think the science is clear what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted. And for the people to say the science is decided on, this is just really arrogant, to be honest with you,” he said.

“It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t even have a conversation about it. The climate is changing, and we need to adapt to that reality,” he said.

At that point I started a discussion of the science behind AGW. I will go over a few points that post touched. First, is carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere rising? The answer is yes. The data plot below is called the Keeling Curve.

875px-Mauna_Loa_Carbon_Dioxide_Apr2013

The Keeling Curve is a graph which plots the ongoing change in concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere since 1958. It is based on continuous measurements taken at theMauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii that began under the supervision of Charles David Keeling. Keeling’s measurements showed the first significant evidence of rapidly increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Many scientists credit Keeling’s graph with first bringing the world’s attention to the current increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Charles David Keeling, of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, was the first person to make frequent regular measurements of the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration, taking readings at the South Pole and in Hawaii from 1958 onwards.

Examine this data plot. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has been rising since Keeling started making measurements in 1958. The wiggles in the curve reflect fluctuations in CO2 concentration due to the greening of foliage in the Northern Hemisphere. This planet’s northern hemisphere holds the abundance of green plants, and during the spring and summer in the Northern Hemisphere these plants suck up a lot of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The drop in the concentration of CO2 is plainly visible in the plot. In the Northern Hemisphere’s cold season deciduous plants drop their leaves, and CO2  absorption decreases (evergreens keep sucking up CO2). Also, the leaves that have dropped during the current season and in previous seasons continue to return their carbon content back to the atmosphere as CO2.

If there were no decades long increase in CO2 concentration, this curve would be nearly horizontal except for the yearly fluctuation shown. This is called a steady state condition. The continual rise demonstrates the atmosphere is not in steady state.

Further, observe the scale of the rise. It starts at 320 parts per million (ppm) in 1958 and approaches 400 ppm in the current decade. The concentration in October 2014 was 396.21 ppm, and in October 2015 it was 398.70 ppm. This was last updated 7 December of this year. This is a more than 50-year trend. Were it to be extrapolated back in a naive manner, then a few centuries ago there would have been no CO2 in the atmosphere. This is obviously not the fact, so at some point in the past the CO2 began its inexorable rise. Here is a plot obtained from ice core data:

CO2LongRangeTrend

Data source: Reconstruction from ice cores. Credit: NOAA

The same source notes the November 2015 concentration was 402.23 ppm. The CO2 concentration has fluctuated wildly the past 400,000 years, but since about 1960 it has remained higher than it ever was before during that period.

So much for CO2 concentrations. What about the average yearly temperatures? Here is a plot of these temperatures for the past 135 years. The Earth has been growing warmer during the time the CO2 has been making its sharp rise.

800px-Global_Temperature_Anomaly.svg

What about the argument that other factors besides human activity are to blame? What could these be?

  • Variations in Earth’s orbit
  • Volcanic activity
  • Fluctuations in solar activity

The following plots are from a Bloomberg site titled “What’s Really Warming the World.”

OrbitComparison

Volcanoes

SolarWarming

In all three of these the heavy black line is global temperature, and the relatively horizontal, wiggly line is the phenomenon against which the temperature is tracked. In all cases it is obvious Earth’s temperature is tracking none of these. Readers are encouraged to visit the Bloomberg link and get a better view of the plots.

Besides these, I have data and scientific principles to demonstrate the relationship between human activity and the recent rise in average global temperatures. Many of these have been pulled into a presentation from earlier this year for The North Texas Skeptics. I am always happy to explain and to expand on any of the points. I will attempt to do so by means of a follow-up post in order to give the matter as thorough a treatment as I can make it.

Keep reading.

The Age Of Embarrassment

This was previously posted on the Skeptical Analysis blog. It is being reposted here to generate interest and some conversation on the topic. A follow-up post will appear tomorrow.

I have neither the time nor the energy to scout out all the topics discussed on this blog. I rely on a network of friends, and some not so friendly, to remind me which way the earth rotates. Much thanks to all.

Here is something forwarded by a classmate from high school:

From: Tom Vittrup

Sent: Tuesday, December 15, 2015 8:27 AM

The Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consulate, at Bergen , Norway.

Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone.Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds. Within a few years it is predicted that due to the ice melt the sea will rise and make most coastal cities uninhabitable.

* * * * * * * * *

I must apologize.

I neglected to mention that this report was from November 2, 1922, as reported by the AP and published in The Washington Post – 93 years ago.

This must have been caused by the Model T Ford’s emissions or possibly from horse and cattle flatulence?

I don’t know who Tom Vittrup is, but I suspect his motive for forwarding this. It’s a dig at anybody who accepts the science behind anthropogenic global warming. Tom Vittrup believes, and he wants others to believe, that the science is flawed. The reasoning goes like this:

  • Scientists have been sounding the alarm over global warming for only the past 50 years.
  • Although the Industrial revolution of the 19th century kicked off use of fossil fuels on a grand scale, their use did not shift into high gear until the advent of the automobile, little more than 100 years ago.
  • Symptoms of global warming were beginning to be manifest as far back as 1922, well before Saudi Arabia tapped into its vast oil reserves.
  • Conclusion: If global warming is happening now, it must be due to something that has been going on for more than 100 years.

Setting aside for the moment whether this argument has a leg to stand on, it’s interesting to note a number of other things.

First, there was such a news item in The Washington Post. Here is a clipping.

globalwarming

Second, Tom neglected to put the Post article into perspective. The article is based on an item in Monthly Weather Review, a publication of the American Meteorological Society. Here is the original article from the AMS:

THE CHANGING ARCTIC.

By GEORGE NICOLAS IFFT.

[Under date of October 10 1922, the American consul at Bergan Norway, submitted the following report to the State Department, Washington, D.C.]

The Arctic seems to be warming up. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters, and explorers who sail the seas about Spitzbergen and the eastern Arctic, all point to a radical change in climatic conditions, and hitherto unheard-of high temperatures in that part of the earth’s surface.

In August, 1922, the Norwegian Department of Commerce sent an expedition to Spitzbergen and Bear island under the leadership of Dr. Adolf Hoel, lecturer on geology at the University of Christiania. Its purpose was to survey and chart the lands adjacent to the Norwegian mines on those islands, take soundings of the adjacent waters, and make other oceanographic investigations.

Dr. Hoel, who has just returned, reports the location of hitherto unknown coal deposits on the eastern shores of Advent Bay—deposits of vast extent and superior quality. This is regarded as of first importance, as so far most of the coal mined by the Norwegian companies on those islands has not been of the best quality.

The oceanographic observations have, however, been even more interesting. Ice conditions were exceptional. In fact, so little ice has never before been noted. The expedition all but established a record, sailing as far north as 81° 29′ in ice-free water. This is the farthest north ever reached with modern oceanographic apparatus.

the character of the waters of the great polar basin has heretofore been practically unknown. Dr. Hoel reports that he made a section of the Gulf Stream at 81° north latitude and took soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters. These show the Gulf Stream very warm, and it could be traced as a surface current till beyond the 81st parallel. The warmth of the waters makes it probable that the favorable ice conditions will continue for some time.

Later a section was taken of the Gulf Stream off Bear Island and off the Isfjord, as well as a section of the cold current that comes down along the west coast of Spitzbergen off the south cape.

In connection with Dr. Hoel’s report, it is of interest to note the unusually warm summer in Arctic Norway and the observations of Capt. Martin Ingebrigtsen, who has sailed the eastern Arctic for 54 years past. He says he first noted warmer conditions in 1918, that since that time it has steadily gotten warmer, and to-day the Arctic of that region is not recognizable as the same region of 1868 to 1917.

Many old landmarks are so changed as to be unrecognizable. Where formerly great masses of ice were found, there are now often moraines, accumulations of earth and stones. At many points where glaciers formerly extended far into the sea they have entirely disappeared.

The change in temperature, says Captain Ingebrigtsen, has also brought about great change in the flora and fauna of the Arctic. This summer he sought for white fish in Spitzbergen waters. Formerly great shoals of them were found there. This year he saw none, although he visited all the old fishing grounds.

There were few seal in Spitzbergen waters this year, the catch being far under the average. This, however, did not surprise the captain. He pointed out that formerly the waters about Spitzbergen held an even summer temperature of about 3° Celsius; this year recorded temperatures up to 15°, and last winter the ocean did not freeze over even on the north coast of Spitzbergen.

With the disappearance of white fish and seal has come other life in these waters. This year herring in great shoals were found along the west coast of Spitzbergen, all the way from the fry to the veritable great herring. Shoals of smelt were also met with.

The Snopes site provides additional information.

As interesting as this nearly century-old article might be from a modern perspective, however, it isn’t substantive evidence either for or against the concept of anthropogenic global warming. As documented elsewhere, the warming phenomena observed in 1922 proved to be indicative only of a local event in Spitzbergen, not a trend applicable to the Arctic as a whole.

The link is to an article by Tom Goreau from 8 January 2010 titled Long Term Arctic Ice Trends and Global Warming:

Those who seek to deny global warming constantly use transparently obvious tricks, selecting data from a single time, a single place, or both, to deny the larger long-term global patterns. This is easily done as climate is constantly fluctuating, so picking out the mean patterns and trends requires that one integrates the data over the largest time and space scales possible. So if one dishonestly wants to misrepresent the larger patterns, one can always find a particular place at a particular time that does not agree with the all the rest averaged together. This is sometimes referred to as the “It’s a cold day in Wagga Wagga” approach, and is repeatedly used by the climate change deniers to fool people who haven’t looked at the data themselves. The changes in Arctic Ice are no exception!

Good data mapping the entire Arctic Ice Cap from space satellites is fairly recent, only since 1979, but the trends are absolutely clear:

Tom Goreau provides the following chart:

ArcticIce

He further states:

But note that there are year to year fluctuations of about 1 million square kilometers, due to annual weather variations. These spatial variations have been used by deniers who simply look at changes since 2007, an exceptionally warm year in the Arctic, to suggest that the Arctic is cooling down! In other words they are simply picking ONE point that falls a bit off the trend of ALL the data to deny the long-term trend.

Another good example of this is a recent posting of the newspaper version of a report made in 1922, that there was much less sea ice than normal at a few places in that year:

And he cites the example of the 1922 MWR report. Tom Goreau’s report contains additional data charts, and I have retained a copy in case the original ever gets moved. Readers are encouraged to read the report and to do their own fact checking.

Snopes concludes:

As interesting as this nearly century-old article might be from a modern perspective, however, it isn’t substantive evidence either for or against the concept of anthropogenic global warming. As documentedelsewhere, the warming phenomena observed in 1922 proved to be indicative only of a local event in Spitzbergen, not a trend applicable to the Arctic as a whole.

All of this is fairly recent. Trying to run this story to its source I came across a reference in theWashington Times from 2007:

Inside the Beltway

– The Washington Times – Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Before Gore

D.C. resident John Lockwood was conducting research at the Library of Congress and came across an intriguing Page 2 headline in the Nov. 2, 1922 edition of The Washington Post: “Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt.”

The 1922 article, obtained by Inside the Beltway, goes on to mention “great masses of
ice have now been replaced by moraines of earth and stones,” and “at many points
well-known glaciers have entirely disappeared.”

“This was one of several such articles I have found at the Library of Congress for the
1920s and 1930s,” says Mr. Lockwood. “I had read of the just-released NASA estimates,
that four of the 10 hottest years in the U.S. were actually in the 1930s, with 1934 the
hottest of all.”

Worth pondering

Reacting yesterday to word that certain European governments and officials are
suddenly trying to abandon their costly “global warming” policies, Royal Astronomical
Society fellow Benny Peiser, of the science faculty at Liverpool John Moores University
in Great Britain, recalls the teachings of Marcus Aurelius: “The object of life is not to be
on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”

The Washington Times is not to be confused with The Washington Post. The Post publishes Pulitzer-winning journalism, while the Times is an organ of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon:

The Washington Times is a daily broadsheet published at 3600 New York Avenue NE,Washington, D.C., United States. It was founded in 1982 by the founder of the Unification Church, Sun Myung Moon and was owned by News World Communications, an international media conglomerate associated with the church, until 2010 when it was purchased directly by a group led by Moon.

The paper is noted for supporting conservative causes, including creationism and denial of climate science.

What, then, to make of this thinly-disguised gem of propaganda? A bigger question is why does a considerable element in American society put forward items like this in opposition to some basic science? My answer is this means of persuasion is all there is. If a legitimate argument opposed to global warming were available, then that would be put forward. To date, none has—a compelling indication that none exists.

Andrew Breitbart (1969 – 2012) was a writer for The Washington Times. He founded the conservative Breitbart News Network, Breitbart.com, which carries on Breitbart’s cause. One such cause is opposition to climate science. The conversation is concerted and strident:

Global Warming ‘Fabricated’ by NASA and NOAA

by JAMES DELINGPOLE 23 Jun 2014

Scientists at two of the world’s leading climate centres – NASA and NOAA – have been caught out manipulating temperature data to overstate the extent of the 20th century “global warming”.

The evidence of their tinkering can clearly be seen at Real Science, where blogger Steven Goddard has posted a series of graphs which show “climate change” before and after the adjustments.

When the raw data is used, there is little if any evidence of global warming and some evidence of global cooling. However, once the data has been adjusted – ie fabricated by computer models –  20th century ‘global warming’ suddenly looks much more dramatic.

This is especially noticeable on the US temperature records. Before 2000, it was generally accepted – even by climate activists like NASA’s James Hansen – that the hottest decade in the US was the 1930s.

As Hansen himself said in a 1989 report:

In the U.S. there has been little temperature change in the past 50 years, the time of rapidly increasing greenhouse gases — in fact, there was a slight cooling throughout much of the country.

However, Hansen subsequently changed his tune when, sometime after 2000, the temperatures were adjusted to accord with the climate alarmists’ fashionable “global warming” narrative. By cooling the record-breaking year of 1934, and promoting 1998 as the hottest year in US history, the scientists who made the adjustments were able suddenly to show 20th century temperatures shooting up – where before they looked either flat or declining.

But as Goddard notes, the Environmental Protection Agency’s heatwave record makes a mockery of these adjustments. It quite clearly shows that the US heat waves of the 1930s were of an order of magnitude greater than anything experienced at any other time during the century – far more severe than those in the 1980s or 1990s which were no worse than those in the 1950s.

For some reason this headline-shattering news from Breitbart failed to clear the fold in such publications as The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. It could be these front-line news sources are part of the global conspiracy of scientists promoting global warming for the sake of sucking up grant money. Or it could be these publications are concerned with printing what is true rather than what is sensational. One publication that is not holding back is The Washington Times. The headline reads:

And there is more.

The preceding excerpts depict an ongoing campaign to mine fringes of the global warming story and to paint a picture at odds with the facts. A coarse reading of various such references finds little in substance of fact. The adversaries of climate science bring to mind the creationist movement of the past 90 years. Lacking any valid supporting research, the creationists manufacture controversies without basis and generate more thunder than lightning. And they wage a constant war of fanciful pleadings and anecdotal irrelevancies.

It’s a world foreign to real science. It’s a world of purported intrigue and imagined motives. It’s a world of pronouncing baldly what is obviously untrue. And—like schoolboys kept after class—passing amusing stories around the Internet.

Skeptical Honesty

NeildeGrasseTysonScienceTrue

An Editorial

First, I want to express my gratitude to fellow skeptics for allowing me to post to the NTS site. At this point I will take advantage of that privilege to express some personal thoughts. These are mine and do not necessarily represent those of the NTS Board of Directors.

The North Texas Skeptics is organized as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit educational and public service corporation. We do not get involved in politics, and officially we do not engage in religious disputes. That philosophy is not, however, a surrender flag on our intellect. Skeptics have always been and should always be able to call out religious stupidity.

While skeptics may step around religious statements of faith, there are still issues painted over by religion that we can and must dispute. If somebody tells us his faith in Jesus is a comfort to his life, then we nod, not necessarily approvingly, but knowingly. However, when statements about the creation of the universe, the age of the Earth, the origin of the human race conflict with known facts, skeptics must step up to the challenge. We have done that before.

Thirteen years ago James Cunliffe presented a talk on biblical historicity. The sum of it was that the Bible lacks any amount of factual content. This should not be seen as an attack on religious faith. Faith does not rest on fact. That’s why it’s called faith. We will continue to confront areas where faith conflicts with reality. Notable topics are:

  • Creationism
  • Faith healing
  • Biblical historicity

All the while, skeptics must take care to understand that people of faith are not the natural enemies of truth. Science, and rational skepticism, have many friends in the world of faith. One of the staunchest defenders of modern theories of biology is Professor Kenneth Miller, author of biology text books and a reliable defender of biological evolution. His testimony against creationist arguments has been invaluable.

All that said, the notable defenders of science in the face of religious objections have been prominent atheists. To name a few:

  • Richard Feynman
  • Carl Sagan
  • Richard Dawkins
  • Lawrence Krauss
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Bill Nye

Yes, Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Bill Nye, who turned 60 last month, graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. His popular show Bill Nye the Science Guy ran from 1993 to 1998 and went a long way toward popularizing science for young people. More recently he has taken his honed TV personality on the road, giving lectures, delighting audiences, and at the same time continuing to educate the public on science.

Which brings us to today’s topic:

Waco Tribune did *not” pull its Bill Nye the Science Guy story

A Washington Post journalist sends this email:

I saw this posting today on Facebook — that the incident happened isn’t very surprising, but is it true that the Waco Tribune took down its story about it (mentioned at the bottom of this post)? I’d be interesting in knowing what really happened.

The emailer links to a ThinkAtheist.com piece from 2009 that’s apparently making the rounds on Facebook. It reports that Bill Nye (“The Science Guy”) “managed to offend” a Waco audience “when he suggested that the moon does not emit light, but instead reflects the light of the sun.”

The post adds that “this story originally appeared in the Waco Tribune, but the newspaper has mysteriously pulled its story from the online version, presumably to avoid further embarrassment.”

Wrong! says Waco Tribune editor Donnis Baggett. He tells Romenesko readers:

The story was published on April 6, 2006, and is still posted on our paid subscription website. Therefore, it’s available only to readers who pay for access.

Additionally, for arcane reasons connected to a change in site hosting two years ago, sometimes the story is erroneously labeled as having been removed. This has apparently led some to believe we pulled it because of
pressure, when in fact we have not.

I’ve copied the story from our site and am attaching it below for your reference.

Here is an excerpt from the Tribune-Herald article by Tim Woods:

The Science Guy is entertaining and provocative at MCC lecture

Author: Tim Woods Tribune-Herald staff writer

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Waco Tribune-Herald on April 6, 2006

Audience members who expected to see Bill Nye “The Science Guy” conduct experiments and wow their children received quite a surprise Wednesday when Nye spoke at McLennan Community College.

Nye instead addressed such topics as Mars exploration, global warming and energy consumption, particularly oil and gas. He even ruffled a few religious feathers along the way.

The problem came when Bill disputed the Genesis story of the creation of the sun and the moon as two great lights, one to do during the day time and the other to serve at night. Bill observed that the moon is not a light unto itself but serves only to reflect light from the sun. He could also have pointed out the moon shines during the day when its light is not needed, but that would have been superfluous.

Anyhow, some people objected to this as anti-religious and walked out. And the Tribune-Herald did not subsequently delete the story from their Web site. Like all their news, it eventually went behind their pay wall, as seen above.

And the Tribune-Herald did not pull the story in deference to the Science Guy. They could possibly have pulled it in deference to the fools who objected and walked out, but reputable news sources do not do this.

I have a separate blog that treats religious and political areas where the North Texas Skeptics must not venture. I do this so the NTS won’t have to. In the mean time there is no area of religious irrelevancy I will not avoid on behalf of the North Texas Skeptics, and these observations will continue to be posted here.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Your drive could get shorter.

We ran this story five years ago:

How come we did not see this one coming?  How clueless can you get?

It took a headline from The New York Times:1

HOUSTON — A Texas higher education panel has recommended allowing a Bible-based group called the Institute for Creation Research to offer online master’s degrees in science education.

The action comes weeks after the Texas Education Agency’s director of science, Christine Castillo Comer, lost her job after superiors accused her of displaying bias against creationism and failing to be “neutral” over the teaching of evolution.

That was news.  The last we heard the ICR was out in Santee, California.  Did we miss something?

We have followed the doings of the ICR for over 20 years, and it’s been a fun ride.  If you want to see creationism in its purest form, here it is.  You want to embrace the golden calf?  Ankle, and thigh, and upper half?  Here it is – I mean here it is. 2

Creationist Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., formed the ICR as an offshoot from the Creation Science Research Center in 1972.  Their principal entity previously was the Museum of Creation and Earth History in Santee.  The museum featured dioramas recreating the story of Genesis and especially the flood of Noah.  An upper level school was in the same building, and here students of a creationist bent were expected to achieve college-level training in science that conformed to Biblical teachings.

The ability of the ICR school to offer college-level degrees was initially approved by California, but subsequently there was a back and forth tussle that resulted in a lawsuit, in which the ICR prevailed and was awarded monetary damages. Ultimately the ICR was given a religious exemption from California’s post-secondary school requirements. 3

Founder Henry Morris died in 2006, and in 2007 the decision was made to relocate to Dallas because of its more central location and because Dallas offered logistical and demographic benefits.  Ironically, Dr. Morris was a native of Dallas.

The move to Texas has meant starting the accreditation process over, meeting stiffer resistance in Texas (surprise).  So far, Texas education officials have denied the ICR recognition of its degree program by a slim vote margin.  The tussle continues.

ICRDallas2010

Our cup does overflow. For you this holiday season come great tidings:

Creationists expanding institute to include the ‘Dallas Museum of Science and Earth History’

The Institute for Creation Research, which teaches there’s scientific proof that God created the earth in six days, is ready to expand its headquarters in Northwest Dallas, adding a museum and “3D planetarium” to its existing facility at Royal Lane and Luna Road. But first the proposed Dallas Museum of Science and Earth History needs to stop at Dallas City Hall.

The item from The Dallas Morning News comes with a video clip:

ICRMuseumVideo-01

There are a few road bumps on the ICR’s path to museumship. The land at Luna and Royal is zoned for industrial research, meaning a variance will be needed from city zoning. Skeptics, will you join me in wishing the ICR the best of success. We can hardly wait to see this icon of human stupidity coming a short drive away. It’s the kind of thing what gets us going in the morning.