NASA Data Pit Scientific Method Against Climate Astrology
James Taylor – Forbes – 08/03/2011
The Scientific Method is a beautiful thing. By requiring that scientific hypotheses be testable and subject to objective verification, the Scientific Method distinguishes the pursuit of objective knowledge (science) from faith-based principles and circular logic. The Scientific Method was instrumental in pulling Western Civilization out of the Dark Ages. Yet 1,000 years later, regarding one of the most scientifically and politically important issues of modern times, the Scientific Method is being sacrificed on the altar of Climate Astrology.
The Scientific Method is simple and straightforward. If you formulate a hypothesis, make predictions according to that hypothesis, and then identify facts or results that would objectively disprove the hypothesis, you are practicing science. If you leave out any of these steps, and most importantly if you leave out the final step, you are not practicing science.
To qualify as science, the scientist who formulates a hypothesis must as rigorously as possible test the hypothesis.
Moreover, he or she must welcome and encourage other scientists to rigorously test the hypothesis as well. If the hypothesis fails, this is not a discredit to the scientist who formed the hypothesis. To the contrary, scientific knowledge advances because scientists are able to narrow the list of potential hypotheses that may be true.
The Scientific Method was in full display last week when the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing published the results of an important study conducted by Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite. With access to NASA satellite data measuring the amount of heat escaping the earth’s atmosphere into space, Spencer compared the NASA satellite data to the amount of heat loss predicted by computer models relied upon by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in support of IPCC’s assertion that humans are causing a global warming crisis. Spencer found that the NASA satellite data reveal more heat is escaping into space than IPCC computer models have predicted.
Spencer’s discovery confirms prior heat-loss data reported by another set of NASA satellite instruments. Together, the NASA satellite instruments provide a 25-year record of real-world atmospheric conditions contradicting IPCC computer model predictions.
According to the Scientific Method, when real-world facts contradict a postulated hypothesis, the hypothesis fails. In this case, the failure of IPCC computer models to accurately predict atmospheric heat loss provided strong evidence that the IPCC computer models are based on faulty assumptions.
Rather than celebrating the advancement of knowledge provided by the NASA data and Spencer’s study, government employee “scientists” with a dog in the global warming fight viciously attacked Spencer and chastised the media for reporting this important scientific discovery.
Gavin Schmidt, a vigorous champion of the IPCC computer models and a government employee at NASA’s Goddard Institute (in a different branch of NASA than Spencer), protested the attention given to the NASA data by telling the press, “Climate sensitivity is not constrained by the last two decades of imperfect satellite data.”
This is a truly remarkable statement. Schmidt would have us believe that when 25 years of objective NASA satellite data contradict IPCC computer model predictions, we are supposed to ignore the real-world data and believe the discredited computer models instead. What are we supposed to do, pretend that the laws of physics have gone on a 25-year vacation?
Schmidt’s comments to the press are illustrative of a person whose taxpayer-funded paycheck is dependent upon the continuation of a failed global warming hypothesis. So long as the federal government operates under the assumption that we must study and address dangerous global warming, Schmidt’s job is secure. On the other hand, when scientists like Dr. Spencer report objective facts that falsify key components of global warming predictions, Schmidt’s government-provided paycheck is jeopardized and Schmidt lashes out.
Schmidt’s attempted denial of the NASA satellite facts is merely another example of global warming activists promoting faith-based principles and circular logic in contradiction of the Scientific Method. When it rains a lot, we are told this proves humans are creating a global warming crisis. When it doesn’t rain a lot, we are told this, too, proves humans are creating a global warming crisis. When temperatures are hot, we are told this proves humans are creating a global warming crisis. When temperatures are cold, we are told this, too, proves humans are creating a global warming crisis. In short, global warming activists have presented a theory for which they identify no set of facts or circumstances that could possibly disprove their theory – not even 25 years of objective NASA satellite data that directly contradict what their computer models say should be happening.
The faith-based circular logic of Schmidt and other global warming activists may be a lot of things, but it is not science. Some have described it as religion, but that is doing a disservice to religion. Religion dictates that when a self-professed prophet’s predictions fail to come true, that person is identified as a false prophet.
A more accurate description of the factual denial practiced by Schmidt regarding the NASA satellite data is Climate Astrology. Astrologers, after all, make all sorts of vague predictions such that anything that later occurs can be alleged to have been predicted in advance. “This could be the moment to take a relationship one stage further” is to National Enquirer astrology what “the null hypothesis should be that all weather events are affected by global warming” is to Climate Astrology. Ironically, Kevin Trenberth, the same government employee “scientist” who said “the null hypothesis should be that all weather events are affected by global warming” is the same government employee who lashed out against the Spencer-reported NASA satellite data by telling the press, “I cannot believe it got published.”
Jeane Dixon famously spent decades making astrology predictions in the pages of the National Enquirer. Many of Dixon’s astrological predictions were so vague that they could not be disproven. For the astrology predictions that could be objectively compared to real-world events, most were proven false. Roy Spencer’s study of NASA satellite data was deservingly published in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. Look for Schmidt and Trenberth’s Climate Astrology to soon appear in the pages of National Enquirer.