Ethics Quote Of The Week: Charles Krauthammer

“I repeat: I’m not a global warming believer. I’m not a global warming denier. I’ve long believed that it cannot be good for humanity to be spewing tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. I also believe that those scientists who pretend to know exactly what this will cause in 20, 30 or 50 years are white-coated propagandists. “The debate is settled,” asserted propagandist in chief Barack Obama in his latest State of the Union address. “Climate change is a fact.” Really? There is nothing more anti-scientific than the very idea that science is settled, static, impervious to challenge.”

—Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, in a column titled “The myth of ‘settled science’”

"90% of the 95% majority of climate scientists think it's pretty likely that their models will prove to be sort of correct. See? Certainty!"

“90% of the 95% majority of climate scientists think it’s pretty likely that their models will prove to be sort of correct. See? Certainty!”

With one unfortunate exception, Charles Krauthammer’s recent op-ed about the absurd and discrediting certainty about future global warming and its cause is so logical, fair and reasonable that one has to wonder why no non-conservative has had the integrity to write a similar piece. He was moved, I assume, by the recent flurry of obnoxious assertions from the Obama administration and its allies in the media, most notably Secretary of State John Kerry, who said,

“We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific facts. Nor should we allow any room for those who think that the costs associated with doing the right thing outweigh the benefits. The science is unequivocal, and those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand. We don’t have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society.”

John Kerry’s powers of critical analysis have been demonstrably weak in his supposed areas of expertise, such as foreign relations (See: Syria), and I will accept bets as to whether he could make any sense out of a climate change projection model graph, or even be sure whether he was holding it upside down or not. John Kerry doesn’t understand climate change science, and hasn’t a clue whether it is “unequivocal,” proven by the fact that he would say such a nonsensical thing. The same can be said about President Obama. Krauthammer again:

“Obama ostentatiously visited drought-stricken California last Friday. Surprise! He blamed climate change. Here even the New York Times gagged, pointing out that far from being supported by the evidence, ‘the most recent computer projections suggest that as the world warms, California should get wetter, not drier, in the winter.”

But this is the pattern: science ignoramuses accuse anyone who doesn’t agree with their politically motivated “scientific” opinions of being a science ignoramus.

I was going to let Krauthammer’s column pass until I found myself gagging at CNN’s Reliable Sources, allegedly a show about the ethics of journalism. Host Brian Stetter (why can’t this program find hosts who are comfortable and competent on camera?) had a segment criticizing a “Meet the Press”  debate between Bill Nye “the Science Guy” and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican climate change skeptic, on climate change. Why? Because “the topic does not have two sides”! Yes, CNN’s ethics show actually began with this as the premise. In fact, climate change has at least a dozen sides. What was ethically wrong with the NBC “debate” is that Nye, who has some scientific credentials and presumably understands the subject and represented climate change cant, was on one “side,” facing off against Blackburn, who has no scientific background and whose skepticism on climate change has exactly as much credibility as Kerry’s climate change endorsement—that is to say, none whatsoever. Is Stetter really this dense? That kind of debate is rigged to make one side look ridiculous and the other side look like “the only side.” The issue isn’t “false balance,’ as Stetter claimed, but forum bias.

Thus we got CNN”s version of an ethical discussion of climate change. The guests were  incredibly smug climate scientist Michio Kaku from the City University of New York and Jack Mirkinson, Senior Media Editor at the Huffington Post, who knew no more about climate change science than Kerry or Blackburn, but who was damn sure it was “settled science.”

So was Dr. Kaku, and this, incredibly, was his definition of “settled” : 95% of climate scientists agree that that the earth is warming, and 90% of those agree that the cause is man-made.

Hmmmmm.

A book just published called “The Improbability Principle” explores why we shouldn’t be surprised when extremely small probabilities occur. As David Hand, mathematician and statistician, writes, “The Improbability Principle tells us that events which we regard as highly improbable occur because we got things wrong. If we can find out where we went wrong, then the improbable will become probable.”  Again, he is talking about tiny probabilities: the chances, based solely on scientific opinions (as summarized and over-simplified by Dr. Kaku), that the earth is warming due to man-made causes is 95% times 90%, or about 85%. That means that there is, even by Kaku’s biased numbers, which I doubt, about a 15% chance that the majority is wrong. “Settled” suggests certainty—that’s clearly how Kerry and CNN interpret it. But 85% isn’t certainty. If you tell me that there is a 15% chance I’ll be killed if I go out to get the newspaper off the sidewalk—I’m going without a newspaper that day.

If Kaku was interested in being honest with CNN viewers, and he wasn’t, he would have also pointed out that the climate change models of that “95%” consensus are not certain to be 100% accurate. In fact, they are certain not to be. Writes Krauthammer (100% accurately!)…

“these models have been “consistently and spectacularly wrong” in their predictions, write atmospheric scientists Richard McNider and John Christy — and always, amazingly, in the same direction.”

If there are not “two sides,” what side does that 15% of dissenting scientists represent? Why is it ethical, rather than incompetent, misleading and manipulative, for “Reliable Sources” to put on Kaku as its sole authority and not force him to defend his definition of “settled science” against, say, noted physicist Freeman Dyson, or even Krauthammer? Stetter revealed his own bias on the topic when he spoke of “skeptics or deniers.” Krauthammer:

“…the notion of settled science…is nothing but a crude attempt to silence critics and delegitimize debate. As does the term “denier” — an echo of Holocaust denial, contemptibly suggesting the malevolent rejection of an established historical truth.”

As for me, I’m with Krauthammer. I think it is likely that the Earth is warming, and that this isn’t good. I would be surprised if man-made activity wasn’t at least part of the reason. But the claims of scientists, and especially politicians, journalists, environmental activists and climate hustlers like Al Gore, that it is “settled science” what the extent of the warming will be, its results, its duration, and what need to be done about it are, as Krauthammer says, lies, propaganda and nonsense.

Kaku disgraced his profession, “Reliable Sources” betrayed its audience and its mission, and again I ask, why is there no liberal journalist with the integrity to be honest on this topic?

_______________________________

Sources: CNN, Washington Post1, 2,

25 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Environment, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Science & Technology

25 responses to “Ethics Quote Of The Week: Charles Krauthammer

  1. That 95%? It is actually an aggregate of several different levels of “support” for the “settled science”, from “fully believe it is due to human actions” to “partly due to human actions, but we don’t have any control over it”.

    And I’ll say it again – show me a model that has been correct, and I’ll listen to your theory. Until such time, shove off and stop trying to make heating my home cost more and food more expensive.

    Hey, wasn’t 2013 supposed to be the year there was no more polar ice? Seems to me that is a funny way of saying “record levels of ice”…

    • It was so obvious that this scientist was dumbing down his commentary. It was really extraordinary—the arrogance, the dishonesty, the deceit. We only need to persuade morons, so our explanations can be moronic. And CNN’s “ethics” guy just nodded his head.

      • I’ve lost a lot of respect for the likes of Kagu and deGrasse Tyson. They have contributed to a general dumbing down of science for years, and have thus made people dumber.

        Nova used to push your mind, and make you think – now it is just pablum for the ignorant masses.

        • Kaku, Tyson- and even Carl Sagan in his heyday- eventually came to suffer from the Celebrity Universe Scientist Syndrome (CUSS). The symptoms include an increasing tendency to talk down to your audience, mix leftist politics in with your science lectures and make a boring fool out of yourself on TV talk shows. Eventually, the central facet of your supposed profession (honest teaching and research) gives way to obtaining government grants for one’s self and one’s cronies, plus the obsession after big bucks from lecture tours and bookselling. Eventually, they devolve into garrulous old CUSSs that live on their royalties and refuse to admit (ever) that, for all their well-promoted expertise, they were more wrong in their predictions than if they’d simply tossed a coin.

      • It doesn’t help that a lot of ‘scientists’ are really just the High Priests of Leftism.

        • Thanks, Eeyoure! Tex brings up something that few comment on. Exactly how does one define the term “scientist”? If you go by the media, they’re the same guys out peddling “male enhancement”. That doesn’t work, either. (sob)

  2. When we see statements about how things are “settled” it’s almost always safe to assume that they are not at all settled. And safe to assume there is a reason people want you to believe it’s settled and that they are not going to reveal that reason unless under duress. This goes for car salesmen as well as the less reputable news people and politicians.
    California has much more to fear from invironmentalists than from global warming. And I don’t mind if you check up on the validity of that claim.

  3. Dwayne N. Zechman

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

    When someone says, “This is my theory, and here is a list of people who agree with me.”–that person is a politician, not a scientist.

    When someone says, “This is my theory, and here is my evidence to back it up.”–that person is a scientist, not a politician.

    And yes, established, accepted scientific theory can be dead wrong. The whole world of scientists can agree 100% on something for decades, and one man can come along with a different theory and be the only one who is correct.

    See “Conservation of Mass” and “Conservation of Energy” — and “Albert Einstein”.

    So SHUT UP about your “consensus”. Show your evidence like real scientists do or go home.

    –Dwayne

  4. Beth

    This debate is pointless. Even if you didn’t believe in climate change, we need to develop cleaner energies NOW — even if they are more expensive — so you can go on breathing air, drinking water, and growing food in soil. And heck, if it does turn out that it also keeps sea waters from rising and displacing millions of people, that’s just an added benefit.

    How much money do we give our security agencies to prevent terror attacks? Those aren’t quantifiable either, but we still do it.

    • Michael Ejercito

      This debate is pointless.

      I am sure some people said the same thing about Albert Einstein.

      Who was he to suggest time slows down the faster objects go?

      Even if you didn’t believe in climate change, we need to develop cleaner energies NOW — even if they are more expensive — so you can go on breathing air, drinking water, and growing food in soil.

      We have at least two sources of clean energy- natural gas and plutonium. They are about as clean as you get.

      • Hydroelectric, Michael! But, of course, the main trouble with Gaia Mantra of “renewable energy sources” is that the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine… for which wise people would thank God! You have to have a steady, reliable source of energy for most household and industrial uses. Even then, such sources are low producers with a high overhead. As for the dreaded “greenhouse gases” fable, the planet itself can deal with what little human enterprise emits quite handily. It handles volcanoes all the time and has since the beginning.

    • Then get to developing them.

      I’m no Freakonomics Fan, but this article is a good one.

      Best quote from it: “Even the moral argument is not without critique. With just a 1% real annual rate of growth, global per capita income rises from about $12,000 today to $77,000 by 2200. Even if climate change damages shrink the economy by 13% by 2200, as some have suggested, our distant descendants will be five times richer on average than we are. Are we to sacrifice our relatively modest wealth so they might be six-times richer that us?”

      You are self-described as one of the “wealthy people” of the country, I can understand how you’d be comfortable with saying “we can afford to pay more for clean energy”. Never mind the other 95% of the country that ISN’T fine with paying more for so-called ‘cleaner’ energy, especially lacking DEFINITIVE proof (that ISN’T clouded by political bias) that they are at fault for climate change.

      • Beth

        Tex, I have spent considerable amount of time in my career dealing with payments from Superfund sites. It’s not pretty. I’m talking about our health here — that’s the thing about pollution, it affects all of us.

  5. wyogranny

    We need to develop cleaner energies, yes, but in the meantime we need to have energy and an economy. If there is enough demand for clean energy we’ll get it. The energy sources we have now can be made cleaner and people with ideas respond to demand by developing things that work and satisfy the demand. Let people work on it not government.

  6. penn

    There not only weren’t two sides, there wasn’t even one whole one: “that the earth is warming due to man-made causes is 95% times 90%, or about 85%” has no relevance … unless you have a time frame for it. Hmmmm. Let’s see. If we have an 85% chance of 85% of the warming occurring within the next 850 years, discounting leaps and adjusting for the lunar new year as well as 85% of all possible environmental variables, we should arrive at an 85% probability — and a very high and reliable percent, that is too — that at least 85% of our descendants will be laughing uproariously at our statistical analyses.

  7. Bill G

    Look, if its “settled” can’t they at least “settle” on what they are going to call it? Is it Global Warming or Climate Change, or something else?

    If its settled, why do they continue to study it? If it were truly settled, why waste time and money pursuing the obvious?

    I agree with Beth – we need newer, better forms of energy as I doubt we can stay chained to the oil and coal beasts forever. However, quackery is a poor rationalization for anything: I think AGW/CC aficionados are actually hurting us on that front.

    • I agree with Beth – we need newer, better forms of energy as I doubt we can stay chained to the oil and coal beasts forever.

      We are not chained to those beasts so much as they happen to be the cheapest and most convenient sources of energy, even accounting for air pollution regulations.

  8. That was one of Krauthammer’s better columns, in my opinion. Related to the AGW/CC controversies, recently I read a Michael Crichton lecture. It’s a long read, but it held my attention. I found a few points to nit-pick, but it made some good points, too. I guess I could call it an oldie but goodie:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20050207040318/http://www.sepp.org/NewSEPP/GW-Aliens-Crichton.html

    • It’s terrific, and was one of my introductions to the topic. Miss Dr. C greatly. What a mind.

      • dragin_dragon

        Absolutely. “State Of Fear” dealt with this topic and as usual, he did a great deal of research for the book. His conclusion–we just don’t know. He was one of the few authors to include bibliographies in his fiction works.

  9. JutGory

    Jack: “If you tell me that there is a 15% chance I’ll be killed if I go out to get the newspaper off the sidewalk—I’m going with a newspaper that day.”

    I can’t tell if this is a typo, you have a death wish, you like living dangerously, or whether a 15% chance of death is a small price to pay to get the latest Ziggy cartoon (do they still make Ziggy cartoon?).

    -Jut

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