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Lord Monckton’s Climate Testimony Before Congress

Lord Christopher MoncktonHere’s an enjoyable piece of testimony from May 6th, 2010 by Lord Christopher Monckton before Congress. For the pdf of his testimony, go here. His point about science not being a matter of consensus is well taken and was stated even more eloquently by Michael Crichton in his 2003 Caltech Michelin lecture (go here). Also important is the point Monckton made about science functioning as a monopsony (one buyer for many sellers; in monopoly there’s one seller for many buyers). The buyer, according to him, is the public, but properly speaking it’s the government funding agencies that take our tax dollars. As effectively the only funder, it can dictate the type of product made, in this case, climate research that supports anthropogenic global warming (thereby keeping at bay all “sellers” who challenge AGW). Science as a monopsony also impacts the ID controversy. This is a point worth exploring.

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22 Responses to Lord Monckton’s Climate Testimony Before Congress

  1. I’m working on a significant project at work using LS-DYNA, which is arguably the most sophisticated, well-proven, and empirically verified FEA (finite element analysis) computer program ever created (originally at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the 1970s for nuclear weapons development and research — so I guess in some sense I’m walking in my father’s footsteps, since he worked on the Manhattan Project during WWII).

    The dynamic, nonlinear, transient systems we are attempting to simulate are utterly trivial compared to climate, and all the physics, material properties, etc., are well documented and proven in our case, and can be represented with mathematical and empirical precision (Young’s modulus, F=ma, Poisson’s ratio, etc.).

    Yet, with all of this, and countless millions of hours of engineering time devoted to such simulations over many years, we never accept the results without empirical verification.

    The computer simulations of climate developed in the 1990s — on which the global-warming hysteria of the last decade have been primarily based — have been empirically invalidated. They were based on false assumptions about positive feedback mechanisms which turn out to be negative feedback mechanisms. This should have been obvious through simple logic, since unabated positive-feedback forcing would have resulted in runaway warming in the distant past, and we wouldn’t be here.*

    Those who are interested in this topic should check out MIT’s Richard Lindzen and view his lectures, available on the Internet.

    With all this in mind, anyone who thinks that computer simulations have any relevance to biological evolution through the mechanism of random errors filtered by natural selection has checked his brain at the front door of the church of Darwin.

    * Simple logic should have also resulted in the conclusion that the universe had a beginning. If the universe were infinitely old it would have suffered heat death an infinity ago. In addition, if the universe were infinitely old, today would never have arrived, because an infinity cannot be traversed.

  2. On monopsony of scientific research.

    It clearly is not true of science in general. To quote wikipedia:

    “In the OECD, around two-thirds of research and development in scientific and technical fields is carried out by industry, and 20% and 10% respectively by universities and government”

    It may be true of climate science – (although the fossil fuel companies have the money to fund their own research should they think it worthwhile) but nevertheless sceptical scientific papers appear in peer-reviewed journals (including Nature) and some are referenced by the IPCC (indeed Monkton says that he has been using peer-reviewed papers to support his argument). So the buying power of research agencies is not preventing the sceptics voice from being heard.

    When it comes to life sciences the funding comes from a wide variety of sources with pharmaceutical and biotech companies being major sources e.g. the human genome project.

  3. Dear Mark,

    You are a fine, courteous, and transparently intelligent gentleman, whose posts I enjoy reading. But the information age has left you in its dust, and relegated you to attempting to defend the indefensible, based upon naïve 19th-century assumptions about the creative powers of materialistic mechanisms and hopelessly inadequate probabilistic resources.

    Darwinian mechanisms represent the wrong category of explanation for sophisticated information-processing systems.

  4. #3

    GilDodgen

    Thank you for the compliments (it is ironic that the information age should have left me behind when I spent most of my career working for IBM). I am sure most of the contributors to this forum would be courteous if they met face to face. The internet can do funny things to people’s behaviour.

    What inspired your comment? I cannot see any relationship to my comment #2 above which is about funding.

  5. GilDodgen –

    Simple logic should have also resulted in the conclusion that the universe had a beginning. If the universe were infinitely old it would have suffered heat death an infinity ago.

    While the bulk of your post would be one argument, I would take issue with this part. The steady state universe proponents of the mid 20th century were certainly aware of this problem, and conjectured various ways to address it. One of the more popular explanations was the idea of a ‘creation field’, as posited by Fred Hoyle. This held that the universe was continually regenerating matter within itself – new galaxies in-between existing ones, but at a rate too slow for human measurement. He used the analogy of lenticular altocumulus clouds, which spontaneously renew themselves at mountain tops. At the time this seemed as plausible as the notion of the ‘everything came from nothing’ scenario of a big bang to many people, and got around the problem you describe. Unfortunately for Hoyle he was unable to provide a mechanism for this ‘renewal’ hypothesis, and he was already being criticised for arguing by false analogy, later compounded by his infamous ‘tornado in a junk yard’ simile.

  6. Michael Crichton’s essay “Aliens Cause Global Warming” (see link above) is well worth reading and analyzing, since it has profound implications on modern science & politics, including the evolution & Darwinism debate. (In fact, most of Crichton’s essays, speeches and testimonials are worth reading and pondering.) As far as the modern peer review and consensus:

    “Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

    There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

    In addition, let me remind you that the track record of the consensus is nothing to be proud of. Let’s review a few cases. …”

    Perhaps there is some good in this Global Warming confusion and fiasco — perhaps it will finally be the turning point, or else the mankind will be doomed by this stupid modern “science” that has evolved, quoting Crichton again:

    “…we can expect more and more problems of public policy dealing with technical issues in the future-problems of ever greater seriousness, where people care passionately on all sides. “

  7. Mark Frank: What inspired your comment?

    Your unwavering support for the creative powers of the Darwinian mechanism on this forum, despite the obvious logical, mathematical, probabilistic, empirical, and archeological problems that continue to mount in contradiction to the hypothesis.

    The institutionalized suppression of legitimate scientific dissent within the publicly funded academy is ubiquitous and undeniable concerning both orthodox Darwinian evolutionary theory and global warming alarmism.

    Monckton’s central point applies to both disciplines. Science is not about consensus. It’s about measurement, rigorous logical and mathematical analysis, and inference to the best explanation based on what is known, not fanciful speculation and unverified models. Michael Behe has done the measurements in nature, and the Darwinian mechanism can’t do very much. Richard Lindzen has done the measurements through the ERBE (Earth Radiation Budget Experiment), and the positive-feedback mechanism assumed by warmist computer modelers has been empirically falsified.

    As you undoubtedly know, I was once in your camp concerning Darwinism, but changed my mind on the basis of reason and science, despite a lifelong philosophical commitment that was in direct contradiction to the conclusion I eventually reached.

  8. Gil, perhaps if you had rebutted Mark’s response first time around rather than just jumping down his throat, things might be a little more civil over all.

  9. #7 GilDodgen

    Actually I rarely write about the case for evolutionary theory as I am not qualified. I am more interested and better qualified to comment on the logical fallacies underlying intelligent design.

    The role of consensus in Science is interesting. Obviously it is not the same as proof and from time to time a maverick is dismissed by the consensus of experts and turns out to be right all along. However, for every maverick that is right there are many, many more that are wrong. So it is reasonable:

    For experts to demand that the maverick make a particularly strong case.

    For government or business leaders to act on advice of the consensus of experts rather than the maverick.

  10. 10

    Mark,

    You are correct in the balance you describe between the consensus and the maverick. However, it only works if the weight of evidence is allowed to be the arbiter. Once that is gone – and no amount of evidence matters – then the balance no longer works.

    In any other subject matter, I am certain you would agree with that logic.

    Now place that in a scenario where any contradictory evidence is ruled out a priori.

  11. #10 UB

    I wonder if you are talking about AGW or ID? I know the ID crowd like to think the two are very similar, but I think they are very different. I don’t see a lot of AGW sceptic scientists supporting ID (I agree a lot of non-scientists support both positions).

    In the case of AGW I don’t think any evidence is ruled out a priori. Leading sceptics are published; their views are debated; and even included in IPCC reports. You may think the majority of experts have not weighed the evidence correctly – but it is weighed.

    ID is different. The debate is about what counts as evidence. As far as evolutionary theory is concerned noone is dismissing evidence a priori. Just today Cornelius has posted showing how evolutionary theory has changed in the light of evidence. For some reason he finds that a problem – but that is up to him. What is highly debatable is whether there can be evidence for “design” in the abstract or whether this is simply evidence against a particular evolutionary account dressed up in fancy maths.

  12. 12

    Mark, it never even occurred to me to parse the issue between AGW and ID.

    I was speaking purely about the balance between the consensus and the maverick. Either the balance works by virtue of the weight of evidence, or it does not.

    Parsing it further is an admission that the logic gate should be relative to the politics, not the evidence.

  13. 13

    But…now that you bring it up:

    When you say “In the case of AGW I don’t think any evidence is ruled out a priori” I don’t think you could possibly have your head more deeply buried in the sand. The attempt to control information was made quite clear.

    When you say “ID is different. The debate is about what counts as evidence. As far as evolutionary theory is concerned noone is dismissing evidence a priori” then you have completely disappreared in the sand. In biology, only one conclusion is allowed no matter what evidence is presented to the contrary.

    Have you found a single paper in all the kingdom of science where chemical compounds create an abstraction of their form and instantiate it in matter?

    If not, then why not? Since after all, that is the only conclusion which is allowed.

  14. #13 UB

    When you say “In the case of AGW I don’t think any evidence is ruled out a priori” I don’t think you could possibly have your head more deeply buried in the sand. The attempt to control information was made quite clear.

    Are you referring to the UEA e-mails? That was one body attempting to keep certain papers out of the journals and it failed. So the evidence was not ruled out.

    In biology, only one conclusion is allowed no matter what evidence is presented to the contrary

    What conclusion is that: natural selection? genetic drift? lamarckism? epigenetics? endosymbiosis?

  15. 15

    “Are you referring to the UEA e-mails? That was one body attempting to keep certain papers out of the journals and it failed. So the evidence was not ruled out.”

    Eh… Uhm…

    Wha…

    What could possibly be said to this kind of reasoning?

  16. The thing that makes “evolutionary theory” and immediately-impending-environmental-catastrophe theory (AGW being the latest variation on this theme) different, concerning scientific consensus, is a consistent and long-established pattern of claiming on a regular basis that “Final proof is finally here!” and then moving on to the next final proof.

    We see this regularly in the press with headlines like, “Missing link found! Evolution finally confirmed!” and then next month another headline, “Missing link finally discovered! Evolution proven at last!”

    End-of-the-world environmental catastrophes are also predicted on a regular basis (always caused by sinful human activity, of course), and when they don’t materialize on schedule (like the impending next ice age in the mid-1970s, caused by humans putting particulates into the atmosphere), the soothsayers just move on to the next prediction, and conveniently forget the last failed prediction that was confirmed by indisputable “scientific consensus.”

    This track record tends to make reasonable people skeptical about claims of scientific consensus in these two “scientific” disciplines.

  17. #15


    What could possibly be said to this kind of reasoning?

    You could say “I see your point. Contrary evidence is not ruled out in practice in the AGW debate – even though a few scientists try to stop some papers getting published.”

  18. #16

    Gildodgen

    Surely you know better than to use that “missing link” argument. The headlines come from newspapers not scientists, and the newspapers are seeking to make a story out every new fossil find by linking back to a cliche. It is inevitable that we will regularly find new fossils that are intermediate between known fossils of known species. Some will be more important than others. They can all be called “missing links” in the sense of filling in detail between known species.

    Do you really dispute common descent – at least among Eukaryotes?

  19. Mark Frank #18

    When materialists can’t even demonstrate a gain in functional information nor produce anything more than minor variation within kind, and yet the fossil record is replete with sudden appearance over and over again, why do you so readily accept gradualism as plausible? Why do you not you yourself demand rigor of your explanation?

    —————

    The “real work” of the beginning of the Cambrian Explosion may in actuality be as short as a two to three million year time frame (Ross: Creation as Science 2006) which is well within what is termed the “geologic resolution time” i.e. The time frame for the main part of the Cambrian Explosion apparently can’t be shortened any further due to limitations of our accurately dating this ancient time period more precisely.

    “The Cambrian Explosion was so short that it is below the resolution of the fossil record. It could have happened overnight. So we don’t know the duration of the Cambrian Explosion. We just know that it was very, very, fast.”
    Jonathan Wells – Darwin’s Dilemma Quote

    Bats – An Example of Sudden Origins in the Fossil Record
    Excerpt: Bats popped out of the evolutionary woodwork about 55 million years ago. They first appear as a radically new yet fully developed form, which was not in any way significantly different from modern bats. Their debut in the fossil record is sudden, complete, and lacks intermediaries. In 55 million years, they have changed little.
    http://www.jesusbelievesinevol.....ossils.htm

    “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology.”
    Stephen Jay Gould

    One would think the stunning lack of gradualism noted in the fossil record, by leading paleontologists no less, would falsify the evolutionary hypothesis, yet evolution has steadfastly resisted falsification by this method. The following article clearly points out how evolutionists are able to avoid falsification by the crushing lack of evidence for gradualism found in the fossil record:

    Seeing Ghosts in the Bushes (Part 2): How Is Common Descent Tested? – Paul Nelson – Feb. 2010
    Excerpt: Fig. 6. Multiple possible ad hoc or auxiliary hypotheses are available to explain lack of congruence between the fossil record and cladistic predictions. These may be employed singly or in combination. Common descent (CD) is thus protected from observational challenge.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....es_pa.html

  20. Do you really dispute common descent – at least among Eukaryotes?

    No. I dispute Darwinian gradualism through the mechanism of random errors accumulated by natural selection.

    The first claim is falsified by the fossil record, and the second claim is falsified by simple mathematical analysis of the available probabilistic resources.

    Refutation of these claims is trivial, based upon evidence and simple reasoning. The fact that the transparently absurd proposals of Darwinists — as the be-all and end-all of science concerning biological origins and development — have become “scientific” orthodoxy in the academy, should inspire reasonable people to ignore any of their pronouncements, no matter how authoritatively delivered.

    Snake-oil salesmen eventually lose their customers because of word of mouth that their product doesn’t deliver, and that’s what’s happening orthodox Darwinism in the information age.

  21. GilDodgen wrote:

    The first claim is falsified by the fossil record, and the second claim is falsified by simple mathematical analysis of the available probabilistic resources.

    Gil,

    I didn’t get an answer from you the last time I asked, so let me try again:

    What is the “simple mathematical analysis of the available probabilistic resources” that shows that NDE is “transparently absurd”?

    Please be specific, and don’t be afraid to lay out your argument in detail. After all, you’re confident that it will withstand critical scrutiny, right?

  22. #20

    I dispute Darwinian gradualism through the mechanism of random errors accumulated by natural selection.

    I don’t agree with the “simple mathematical analysis” that you say disproves the second half – but I don’t want to take on two things at once- so I will stick to the first half of your claim about gradualism.

    What do you mean by gradualism? Darwin was concerned to establish common descent (which you accept) and that every organism only differed from its parents by a small amount. This can still lead to change that is rapid enough not to show up in the fossil record and you don’t need the fossil record to establish the plausability of Darwin’s claim – just look around you. Point to any living organism whose parents were substantially different. Presumably you don’t think that once upon a time a fish gave birth to a frog?

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