The myth of ‘settled science’

march 2015 national geographicNational Geographic’s latest cover story has generated lots of attention because it sneers at those close-minded Americans — mostly conservatives, of course — who do not accept scientific “facts.” Only 40 percent of Americans (according to Pew Research Center) “accept that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming,” and the magazine finds it “dispiriting” that so many “reasonable people doubt science.”

National Geographic compares global warming doubters to those disbelieve NASA’s moon landing and those who think water fluoridation is an evil plot. How could so many dismiss “established science?”

Well, here’s one reason: The public has come to distrust government warnings and the scientific experts; they are often wrong.

Ironically, National Geographic’s sermon on settled science could have hardly come at a more inopportune time. In recent months, leading scientists have reversed themselves and have admitted their expert findings and advice were wrong on eating fat. After decades of telling us not to do so, we now learn that fat can be good for your diet and for weight loss. What we all thought to be true based on the expert testimonies, turned out to be precisely the opposite of the truth. Oops.

Forty years ago the experts warned of a coming ice age, now they are absolutely certain the earth is warming — and some of the same “experts” were onboard both scares. National Geographic even acknowledges this inconvenient fact, but it explains that this somehow actually helps make the case for global warming. If a scientific theory isn’t refutable — i.e., warming and cooling both prove climate change — then how is it science?

The magazine is incredulous that so many skeptics “believe that climate activists are using the threat of global warming to attack the free market and industrial society generally.”

Wait. Climate change activists are using the issue as a means of attacking free-market capitalism. This past summer major environmental groups gathered in Venezuela to solve leading environmental problems like global warming, concluding: “The structural causes of climate change are linked to the current capitalist hegemonic system.”

How is it paranoia to believe that the climate change industry wants to shut down capitalism when the movement plainly states that this is its objective? And how can a movement be driven by science when its very agenda violates basic laws of economics? I am no scientist, but I’m highly skeptical of a movement whose first advice is to steer the U.S. economy off a cliff toward financial ruin.

National Geographic’s next scientific claim is that “Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, one of the most powerful Republican voices on environmental matters, has long declared global warming a hoax. The idea that hundreds of scientists from all over the world would collaborate on such a vast hoax is laughable.”

Laughable? The entire history of the green movement is full of grand hoaxes and even catastrophic advice, dating back to the modern-day birth of this movement with Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.” This was the green anthem that played a big part in the banning of DDT around the world — a move that contributed to millions of Africans losing their lives from malaria.

As for the claim that scientists would never “collaborate on a hoax,” what about the Climategate scandal, which the left to this day pretends didn’t happen? Shouldn’t the fact that some the leading climate change researchers were caught red-handed manufacturing evidence and suppressing data cause some degree of skepticism by even the media and the scientific community as to the validity of the “science”?

Nearly every environmental scare of the 1970s backed by hundreds of scientists as well as media, like National Geographic, was proved to be a hoax. We were assured then by the “experts” that the world was overpopulated, running out of energy, food, water, minerals, getting more polluted, and that the end result would be massive poverty famine and global collapse. Every aspect of this collective scientific wisdom was spectacularly wrong.

In 1980 top scientists in the United States government issued a report called “The Global 2000 Report to the President,” which was a primal scream that by 2000 the world would run out of oil, gas, food, farmland and so on. Just a few brave souls such as Julian Simon and Herman Kahn dared to contradict this conventional wisdom. They were disparaged then — just as climate change skeptics are today — as dangerous lunatics. Yet on ever score, these iconoclasts were right and the green scientific consensus was wrong. Start with the fact that hundreds of millions of Chinese — mostly girls — are demographically missing today because of the barbaric one-child policy, which the greens all supported as a way to save the planet.

The final insult of conservatives by National Geographic is this: “It’s very clear, however, that organizations funded in part by the fossil fuel industry have deliberately tried to undermine the public’s understanding of the scientific consensus by promoting a few skeptics.” So everyone who dares question the climate change theology has been bought off by industry polluters, but the climate change research brigades are pure as snow. Really?

In 2010 the Climate Depot identified more than 1,000 international scientists doubting the science of global warming. Are 1,000 scientists “a few,” and are they all bought off by the Koch brothers?

No doubt industry is funding some of these skeptics, but it is also true that the U.S. government and private foundations are funding to the tune of billions of dollars — President Obama wants $8 billion this year — for climate change research and activities. The best way to get defunded and to go unnoticed is to conclude global warming isn’t happening. Would anyone want to fund the green-industrial complex if the earth’s temperatures weren’t thought to be on a catastrophic path of warming or cooling?

What is most offensive and delusional about the National Geographic screed is that this magazine, which purports to be scientific, concludes that there is no room for debate on climate change — period, end of argument. This “settled science” argument isn’t meant to advance scientific inquiry and understanding, but to shut it down. What is the left so afraid of that it wants to cut off all debate and disparage all who question the consensus? Once liberals believed they should “question authority.” Now they insist on universal allegiance to every conventional wisdom.

One lesson of history is that scientific truth is the first casualty in ideological crusades like climate change. I am in no position to know whether it is happening or not, but as with half of Americans, I question this settled science, if only because of the Stalinistic approach that commands everyone to believe. Here again we see the intolerance of the left refusing to tolerate a minority opinion. By disparaging skeptics as imbeciles, stooges of industry and right-wing Republican ideologues, National Geographic isn’t advancing science — it is abusing it. For shame.

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Comments (16)

  • Avatar

    Amber

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    Did global cooling also get a front page on the National Geographic when they were pumping those tires in the 1970’s ?

    30,000 scientists signed the Oregon Petition
    disputing the exaggerated claims of failed climate models and the scary global warming industry .Does that that sound like the science is settled to the National Geographic ?

    What is science to the National Geographic ?

    • Avatar

      Drewski

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      Oregon Petition?!?

      Ha ha ha ha ha

      Good one.

      • Avatar

        Gator

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        It’s a [i]great[/i] one!

        So much for consensus.

        Do you have a list signed by over 30,000 scientists refuting the Oregon Petition?

        Nope!

        Do you have that stack of papers you have lied about for years?

        Nope! 😆

      • Avatar

        Gator

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        [i]Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.[/i]
        – Michael Crichton

  • Avatar

    GR82DRV

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    What was a first class lay journal of science has become nothing more than a political screed for global warming activists. My wife still insists on a subscription and I cringe each month after nearly every single article has an obligatory warning about MMGW cause-and-effect regardless of the far flung subjects.

    Honestly, the editors must be hard pressed to keep straight faces as they somehow link topics like reptilian tooth decay and urban bridge rust to MMGW. It’s clear to see who pays the bills these days at NGS.

    The frontal assault of this cover story, equating global warming skeptics as scientific neanderthals is at best juvenile in its motive and at worst offensive in its recklessness to anyone who believes in scientific principles and process.

    The old adage remains true; you can spot the party losing a debate, as they are the ones resorting to name calling as facts and logic fail them.

  • Avatar

    Gerry

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    Canceled National geographic, Scientific American and other subscriptions years ago because the BS stories got to be too much.

    Here’s a gem for ya!
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/03/150316-isis-beheadings-egypt-pictures-photos-family/

    “A photographer finds that many family members “were very happy”—they felt that their loved ones had become martyrs.”

    ISIS is making the Christians happy……….really! I feel better already.

  • Avatar

    JB

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    That finishes National Geographics with me. Subscription cancelled, don’t call again.

  • Avatar

    Drewski

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    This is why I just LOVE CCD and their articles written by ideological non-scientists:
    Author: “In recent months, leading scientists have reversed themselves and have admitted their expert findings and advice were wrong on eating fat. “
    Drewski: So many, in fact, that you don’t name a single one. And fat?!? What in God’s name does that have to do with climate?
    Author: “what about the Climategate scandal, which the left to this day pretends didn’t happen?”
    Drewski: Actually, it was a number of official investigations including by the 2 most prestigious scientific authorities on the planet plus a few unofficial investigations that said there was no scientific fraud or tampering.
    Author: “blah blah green-industrial complex blah ideological crusades blah Stalinistic blah.”
    Drewski: The last 12 months were the warmest in the historical record and Arctic ice extent is now the lowest it has ever been measured for this date.

    • Avatar

      Gator

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      [i] Where do matters now stand? Returning to the five issues raised at the start, we can say that the evidence
      points to some clear conclusions.
      1. The scientists involved in the email exchanges manipulated evidence in IPCC and WMO reports
      with the effect of misleading readers, including policymakers. The divergence problem was
      concealed by deleting data to “hide the decline.” The panels that examined the issue in detail,
      namely Muir Russell’s panel, concurred that the graph was “misleading.” The ridiculous attempt
      by the Penn State Inquiry to defend an instance of deleting data and splicing in other data to
      conceal a divergence problem only discredits their claims to have investigated the issue.
      2. Phil Jones admitted deleting emails, and it appears to have been directed towards preventing
      disclosure of information subject to Freedom of Information laws, and he asked his colleagues to
      do the same. The inquiries largely fumbled this question, or averted their eyes. Despite being
      asked by Parliament to conclusively resolve this issue, Sir Muir Russell did not attend the
      interviews with Jones and, as reported in UK media, his inquiry did not ask Jones if he had
      deleted emails.

    • Avatar

      Gator

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      3. The scientists privately expressed greater doubts or uncertainties about the science in their own
      professional writings and in their interactions with one another than they allowed to be stated in
      reports of the IPCC or WMO that were intended for policymakers. Rather than criticise the
      scientists for this, the inquiries (particularly the House of Commons and Oxburgh inquiries) took
      the astonishing view that as long as scientists expressed doubts and uncertainties in their
      academic papers and among themselves, it was acceptable for them to conceal those uncertainties
      in documents prepared for policy makers.
      4. The scientists took steps individually or in collusion to block access to data or methodologies in
      order to prevent external examination of their work. This point was accepted by the Commons
      Inquiry and Muir Russell, and the authors were admonished and encouraged to improve their
      conduct in the future.
      5. The inquiries were largely unable to deal with the issue of the issue of blocking publication of
      papers, or intimidating journals. These ended up being subjective, he-said-she-said disputes, and
      in some cases the documentation was too sparse. But academics reading the emails could see
      quite clearly the tribalism at work, and in comparison to other fields, climatology comes off
      looking juvenile, corrupt and in the grip of a handful of self-appointed gatekeepers and bullies.
      There remain two other questions needing to be addressed:

      6. Is the IPCC a reliable source of information on climate change? In light of the answer to

      question 3, and the findings of the IAC that fundamental reforms are needed, the answer is that,
      even if one assumes that the existing problems did not compromise the validity of previous IPCC
      reports, as of the present, the IPCC should be viewed as unsound until and unless fundamental
      reforms are implemented. It has become tendentious and conniving, and its review process is
      compromised.

      7. Is the science concerning the current concerns about climate change sound? Many people,

      starting with the members of the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee,
      had hoped this question would be answered during the inquiry process, and there is a frequent
      refrain in the media that the investigations affirmed the science. But the reality is that none of the
      inquiries actually investigated the science. The one inquiry supposedly set up to address this,
      namely Lord Oxburgh’s, actually operated under a different remit altogether, despite multiple
      claims by the UEA that it was a science reappraisal panel. Sir Muir Russell’s team had no
      mandate to assess CRU scientific work, though they nonetheless ventured into making
      superfluous claims in support of the conventional view. The IAC made clear that they were not
      investigating or commenting on the scientific issues. The House of Commons inquiry and the
      Penn State inquiries were also too limited in focus to examine the scientific issues. Consequently
      none of the inquiries addressed the question.
      Climategate raised legitimate doubts on enough specific issues to put into question the process by which
      climate research is done and presented to the public. Over the course of the five reviews, a few
      complaints were investigated and upheld, such as the problem of data secrecy at the CRU and the
      misleading nature of the “hide the decline” graph. And the IAC leveled enough serious criticisms about
      the IPCC process to substantiate concerns that the organization is unsound for the purpose of providing
      balanced, rigorous science assessments. But many other concerns were left unaddressed, or slipped
      through the cracks between the inquiries, or were set aside after taking CRU responses at face value. The
      Muir Russell inquiry was particularly frustrating in the way it kept restating and shuffling the allegations
      until they were rendered into either innocuous or irrelevant terms, at which point any findings they did
      offer were largely beside the point. The world still awaits a proper inquiry into climategate: one that is
      not stacked with global warming advocates, and one that is prepared to cross-examine evidence,
      interview critics as well as supporters of the CRU and other IPCC players, and follow the evidence where
      it leads.[/i]

  • Avatar

    CarlG

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    I know that almost everyone will cringe, because I have thought for many years now that the real root of all of this, global warming scare, climate change scare, DDT banning, hug a tree, too many people on the planet, running out of oil, etc., the real root is “Tenure” at all universities, or should I call them “Indoctrination Centers”.

    The argument is always, “we need to preserve the free flow of ideas”. Which of course we all know, only applies to those professors who toe the correct political line.

    Outlaw Tenure to actually return education to our education system.

    • Avatar

      Gator

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      No cringing here. In every position I have ever held, I have had to produce real value, or be replaced.

      Only Academia rewards being present, above all else.

      The man with the highest IQ ever tested, Christopher Langan, said that “academia is a breeding house for parrots”.

      Parrots have Degrees (PhD).

  • Avatar

    Greg Taylor

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    THE fundamental aspect of science is that it must be falsifiable, i.e. one example is enough to disprove any hypothesis. One photon of light traveling in a vacuum at greater than 186,000 miles per second is enough. Pseudoscience, on the other hand is never falsifiable, the manifestation of its claim constantly changing. Is AGW falsifiable: No warming for 20 years? Nope. No major hurricanes hitting the US for several years? Sorry. No increase in catastrophe weather events in several years? Not enough. CO2 effect is logarithmic? No. So to any AGW believers, what would falsify the hypothesis? And to those who call for silence, skepticism is a hallmark characteristic of science.

  • Avatar

    Warner Athey

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    Is there any real proof of global warming? They claim there has been a temperature increase of seven tenth of one degree in the last 100 years. How do they know with high accuracy what the temperature was 100 years ago? One hundred year old thermometers didn’t even measure in tenth of a degree. How and where did they take the readings 100 years ago? We want some straight answers. Do the left wingers really want it colder of do they have another agenda?

  • Avatar

    amirlach

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    [quote name=”Warner Athey”]Is there any real proof of global warming? They claim there has been a temperature increase of seven tenth of one degree in the last 100 years. How do they know with high accuracy what the temperature was 100 years ago? One hundred year old thermometers didn’t even measure in tenth of a degree. How and where did they take the readings 100 years ago? We want some straight answers. Do the left wingers really want it colder of do they have another agenda?[/quote]
    We have things like this. The Central England Temperature Series. Which goes back to the 1700’s.
    [img]http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-OEdgny5flYo/UZUoP5jhMFI/AAAAAAAAFKE/hLzGOoHTMG8/s1600/ScreenShot3459.jpg[/img]

    And there are actually some 100+ year old thermometers that have been in constant use.

    As for the Left Wingers agenda, they say it best themselves.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/11/18/ipcc-official-%e2%80%9cclimate-policy-is-redistributing-the-worlds-wealth%e2%80%9d/

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