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onsdag 17 oktober 2012

Resurrected Boosted Scientific Method

Feyerabend describes in Against Method a collapse of 19th century science based on the idea that there is a "scientific method" capable of leading scientists to discover "truths" about the World. Feyerabend describes 20th century science as a science without "method" where "Anything Goes",  connecting to Kuhn's analysis with "method" replaced by "fashion".

Feyerabend thus describes a change at the turn to the 20th century from rational positivism of enlightenment and modernity into postmodern pessimism, which is essentially the change from classical physics into modern physics.

But to give up rationality and "method" if it is not really necessary, may be stupid and so it is important to understand (i) the limits of the "method" of classical physics and (ii) what caused the collapse into modern physics.

Classical physics can be described by combinations of
  • Lagrange equations of rigid body mechanics (Newton's equation of motion)
  • Navier's equations of solid mechanics
  • Navier-Stokes equations of fluid/gas mechanics
  • Maxwell's equations of electro-magnetics.
The equations express balance of forces and constitutive relations describing material properties as sets of partial differential equations and the "method" consist of finding the constitutive relations by theory or experiment and then solving the equations. 

Combined with the computer this "method" is today used on a large scale in science and engineering as a rational approach to simulating, controling and understanding the world. Combined with the computer classical physics does not seem to have any real limits. Nothing of this can be described as "Anything Goes".

The collapse of classical physics around 1900 was caused by two perceived paradoxes:
  • The ultraviolet catastrophe of blackbody radiation.
  • The Michelson-Morley paradox of perceived non-existence of an ether medium for propagation of electromagnetic waves.
The ultraviolet catastrophe led to quantum mechanics and the ether paradox to relativity theory, the two pillars of modern physics, both representing the "Anything Goes" of Feyerabend as physical theories beyond rationality and human comprehension. 

But both paradoxes may be solved essentially within the "method" of classical physics as I seek to show in Mathematical Physics of Blackbody Radiation and Many-Minds Relativity

If I am right, then maybe scientific method can be resurrected, not as limitation but as an effective tool of both rationalization and discovery combined with an open mind of "Anything Goes" as a door to both invention and understanding. 

The computer thus boosts the scientific method of classical physics into a formidable tool and opens to a new modern positivism following postmodern pessimism. The introduction of the iPad 100 years after the collapse of classical physics, may well come to signify the new modernity of resurrected boosted scientific method. After all, an iPad app is nothing but computational mathematical physics created by an inventive mind using the "method".

As an example of resurrected boosted classical fluid mechanics, discover The Secret of Flight. 

söndag 14 oktober 2012

From Pessimism to Positivism in Aerodynamics/Science

The Enigma of the Aerofoil: Rival Theories in Aerodynamics 1909-1930, by David Bloor, 2011, describes the initial British criticism of the German circulation theory of lift developed by Kutta and Prandtl in the beginning of the 20th century, which resisted the attack in the absence of something better and became the leading theory propagated in text books still today (see previous post).

The book can be read as an expression of the pessimism of science resulting from the collapse of classical rational science caused by certain apparent contradictions or paradoxes at the turn to the 20th century, which forced physicists to abandon causality/determinism and fundamental concepts of space and time in the formation of the modern physics of quantum mechanics and relativity theory. For perspectives on this astounding story check out Dr Faustus of Modern Physics.  

Bloor describes a similar collapse in aerodynamics away from the British rationality of the (Navier)-Stokes equations, because the equations could not be solved analytically and not computationally 100 years ago,  into a German "practical engineering solution" with lift trivially generated by circulation without description of the generation of circulation.

In the last chapter Pessimism, Positivism and Relativism: Aerodynamic Knowledge in Context, Bloor seeks to rationalize the drift away from positivism or "truth" into relativism with many truths or pessimism with no truth at all, as an inevitable process characterizing modernity:
  • Those who point to the airplane as a symbol of the truth of science, the power of technology, and the reality of knowledge are therefore right—but do they know what they are saying?
  • The successful strategy involved the deliberate use of known falsehoods in artful balance with accepted truths. The supporters of circulation theory showed how simple falsehoods could yield dependable conclusions when dealing with a complex and otherwise intractable reality. This is the real enigma of the aerofoil.
  • The enigma of the aerofoil is the enigma of all knowledge.
This expresses a breakdown of rational science into black magic, where simple falsehoods could yield dependable conclusions.

But today it is possible to solve the Navier-Stokes equations computationally, and this changes the science of aerodynamics from pessimism back into positivism and "truth", based on the original seemingly correct fundamental idea that all of fluid dynamics emerges as solutions of the Navier-Stokes equations. This brings a major change into aerodynamics as evidenced on The Secret of Flight, which may be representative for other areas of physics, as further elaborated on The World as Computation.

PS The philosophy of science reacts to the development of science with a certain delay. The logical positivism of the 1920s may be seen as an expression of classical rational science at its peak in the late 19th century, while the postmodern relativism and pessimism of e.g. Feyerabend in Against Method, expresses the collapse of rationality in modern physics.

An attempt to combine relativism with rational positivism is made in Many-Minds Relativity and Many-Minds Quantum Mechanics. I argue that relativism with different views of different observers who do not share a common "objective" view, is compatible with rational logical positivism.

tisdag 26 oktober 2010

Scientific DoubleThink

Orwell describes in 1984 DoubleThink: 
  • The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them....To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary .
DoubleThink is practiced a lot in politics, where it may be a necessary ingredient, but is it also present in science, in physics as the foundation of science? 

Yes, it seems that also physics requires DoubleThink, at least in the fundaments of physics of quantum mechanics and relativity theory, where it has been elevated to Principles:
To Orwell DoubleThink was the end of democracy and science. Is it?

For a perspective without DoubleThink, see Many-Minds Relativity:
  • Different people may have different views depending on position, while each person follows coherent SingleThink.

Science Poker

In poker you can stay in the game even if you have lousy cards by continuing raising the bet.
As long as your bet is not called, you are in the game and have not lost. 

In science this strategy is practiced a lot: If your theory cannot explain anything and is questioned because it is absurd and contradictory and does not fit with observations, raise the bet to an even more absurd and contradictory theory claiming that it might explain something, and so on....Some examples:

  • If you cannot explain what an atom is, claim you work on a theory for protons and electrons.
  • If you cannot explain what protons and electrons are, claim you work on a theory for quarks.
  • If you cannot explain what quarks are, claim you work on string theory.
  • If you cannot explain what strings is, claim you work on superstring theory.. 
  • If you cannot explain what superstrings are, claim you work on ???
  • If you cannot explain how the Solar system was created, work on a theory for galaxies.
  • If you cannot explain what a galaxy is, work on a theory for the Universe.
  • If you cannot explain what the Universe is, work on a theory for a Multiverse.
  • If you cannot explain what a Multiverse is, work on a theory for ???
  • If you cannot explain why an airplane can fly, claim that you work on a boundary layer theory which can explain why an airplane can fly.
  • If the boundary layer theory does not explain why an airplane can fly, claim that the boundary layer is not thin enough because the viscosity is not small enough.
  • If you still cannot explain, claim that making the viscosity even smaller will give an explanation.
  • If it still does not work, claim that it will if only the viscosity is made small enough...
Climate Science: 
  • If you cannot explain variations in global temperature, claim that you work on a theory explaining global warming by carbondoxide.
  • If carbondioxide does not explain anything, claim that global warming comes from methane.
  • If methane does not explain anything, claim that global warming comes from human metabolism or ???
But there is always an upper limit to the bet you can make, and it seems as if this upper limit is near in the above examples ???

fredag 22 oktober 2010

Science or Non-Science?

The scientific method has an experimental and a theoretical aspect. Basic theoretical science is expressed in the language of mathematics and relies on the methods of mathematics of logical reasoning (axiom-definition-theorem) and symbolic/digital computation.  Experimental science concerns observations of real phenomena,

Mathematics is used to construct mathematical models of real (or imagined) phenomena, which then can be simulated by letting the model transform input data to output data by computation, with input data from observations (or invented).

Typically the mathematical model consists of differential equations expressing basic physical laws such as conservation of mass, momentum and energy. A basic example is Maxwell's equations describing all of electromagnetics in four differential equations. It all started with the Calculus of Leibniz and Newton initiating the scientific revolution in the late 17th century.

Understanding of real phenomena can be achieved by understanding the mathematical model, 
which is open to inspection, while reality is not, as formulated by Edsger Dijkstra:
  • Originally I viewed it as the function of the abstract machine to provide a truthful picture of the physical reality. Later, however, I learned to consider the abstract machine as the true one, because that is the only one we can think ; it isthe physical machine's purpose to supply a working model, a (hopefully) suciently accurate physical simulation of the true, abstract machine.
The true abstract machine is the mathematical model, which according to Einstein: 
  • should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
A too simple model would then represent non-science, rather than science.

Let us now consider a specific area of science: climate science. The mathematical model describing global weather with climate being global weather averaged over time, is the Navier-Stokes equations expressing conservation of mass, momentum and energy, describing the thermodynamics of atmosphere and oceans, combined  with a model of the radiative warming by the Sun and radiative cooling into space. In short: Navier-Stokes with radiative forcing as a thermodynamics model, which is as simple as possible, but not simpler. 

In climate science another model, Stefan-Boltzmann's Radiation Law, forms the basis of the CO2 climate alarmism advocated by IPCC by supplying a starting value for climate sensitivity of 1.2 C (upon doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere), which is boosted by feed-backs to an alarming 2-4.5 C. 

However, this model is too simple, because thermodynamics is not included, only the simple algebraic Stefan-Boltzmann Radiation Law. This argument is developed in more detail in Climate Thermodynamics.

We conclude that the basic postulate of CO2 alarmism of a climate sensitivity of 1.2 C, is not verified using the scientific method, and thus has the role of an ad hoc assumption, which until properly verifed represents non-science.  Without this basic postulate feed-backs have nothing to feed on and alarmism collapses.

fredag 2 juli 2010

Dark Age of Science

In my work I have found that
share the following features representing a Dark Age of Science:
  • many fake understanding 
  • nobody understands
  • original scientific sources obscure
  • collective consensus supposed to replace genuine individual insight
  • suppression of skeptics, criticism intolerable.
The discussion following the two previous posts gives direct illustration of these features 
as concerns AGW and my homepage, this blog and  Book og Knols give more evidence, for those interested in analyzing and understanding these aspects of 20th century science. 

It is natural to connect these signs of decline of science to the economical decline of Europe and America relative to the BRIC countries as observed in a recent talk by Vaclav Klaus. Collective fake of understanding of an economy without rational basis, may not be so functional.

onsdag 14 april 2010

Penguin Logic of Oxburgh

The International Panel set up by the University of East Anglia to examine the research of the Climatic Research Unit lead by Lord Oxburgh of Liverpool did not find anything wrong motivated by the following excuse:
  • CRU accepts with hindsight that they should have devoted more attention in the past to archiving data and algorithms and recording exactly what they did. At the time the work was done, they had no idea that these data would assume the importance they have today and that the Unit would have to answer detailed inquiries on earlier work. 
Lord Oxburgh and his Panel does not understand that this argument uses Penguin Logic, which is surprisingly popular in particular among scientists, but still is not correct logic of science. 

A result which is not documented cannot be an important scientific result. To say that a result without documentation can be an important scientific result requires Penguin Logic, and that 
is not correct logic of science. Scientists using Penguin Logic are often unaware of doing so and are seldom willing to understand that it is incorrect scientific logic.  

No wonder that the credibility of science and scientists is suffering; Penguin logic is not
logic of science, even if it is used by Lords and Royal Societies.

tisdag 6 april 2010

WSJ: Science is Dying

WSJ expresses in Climategate: Science is Dying in WSJ  from Dec 3 2009:
  • Science is on the credibility bubble. If it pops, centuries of what we understand to be the role of science go with it. 
  • What is happening at East Anglia is an epochal event. 
  • As the hard sciences—physics, biology, chemistry, electrical engineering—came to dominate intellectual life in the last century, some academics in the humanities devised the theory of postmodernism, which liberated them from their colleagues in the sciences. 
  • Postmodernism, a self-consciously "unprovable" theory, replaced formal structures with subjectivity. 
  • With the revelations of East Anglia, this slippery and variable intellectual world has crossed into the hard sciences.
But the credibility of  science was eroding long before Climategate and postmodernism,
in particular among young people entering education and chosing careers: Mathematics, physics, engineering and hard sciences was in decline and economy, politics and why not, postmodernism on the rise.

So, when did then the decline of  science start? Was it when
  • the Cold War ended in 1989? 
  • Einstein became four-dimensional in 1915 preparing the eleven dimensions of string theory?
  • statistical mechanics and its offspring quantum mechanics coined coin-tossing as science?
  • set theory became the basis of mathematics in Principia Mathematica in 1910?
  • Cantor introduced his transfinite numbers in the late 1900s?
  • the Lebesgue-integral replaced the Riemann-integral in the early 1900s? 
  • Prandtl became the father of modern fluid mechanics in the early 1900s?
  • set theory took over elementary school education in the 1960s?
  • the pocket calculator made long division powerless? 
  • Big Bang became the one and only cosmology starting in the 1960s. 
  • chaos theory could be used as explanation of the unexplainable?
  • Wikipedians took command of scientific truth? 
  • the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences endorsed IPCC?
Some of these questions are discussed in my My Book of Knols and previous blog posts. Or was
it not until IPCC showed that climate models were reliable? Compare Washington Post's Scientists' use of computer models to predict climate change is under attack.

söndag 21 mars 2010

What Is So Funny, about Einstein, and Science?

My Knol Science and Scientists in Cartoons has now received 50.000 views. My idea is to
illustrate truths about science and scientists by studying how science and scientists are
depicted in cartoons. It is based on a "theory" that says that what makes a cartoon funny is that it tells a truth, which is so non-conventional that without a joke it would only be bad taste to say it.

A key example concerns Einstein, who in cartoons generally is described as stupid, unhappy and lonely, which is supposed to be funny, in particular by the cartoonists making the cartoons.

Is this then the truth about Einstein? What is the opinion of the cartoonist? Stupid or clever? I have recently been in contact with one cartoonist who did not like the theory of the Knol, (and also claimed that I violated copy-right by presenting a cartoon of his in support of the theory).

The cartoonist was upset because I had misinterpreted his cartoon as indicating that Einstein
was stupid, when in fact the idea of the cartoon was the opposite. So the cartoonist made a cartoon which was ambigious as concerns stupidity-cleverness, which was what made it funny,
but it was based on a belief of the cartoonist that Einstein was very clever, not stupid. When I
interpreted the cartoon as indicating that Einstein was stupid, then the cartoonist got upset.
Funny, isn't it?

Is this then a counter-example to the theory that says that a carton tells a truth, in this case that Einstein was stupid?

Not necessarily, because the theory also says that the cartoonist acts as a sensor to subtle vibrations floating around, a sensor to true vibrations. The theory thus says that a cartoon tells a truth, irrespective if the cartoonist is convinced about the truth or not.

Is this a correct theory? Was Einstein stupid, unhappy and lonely, or the opposite?

This is an important question in the aftermath of climategate: Is science a joke? What science?Are scientists stupid? Which scientists? If Einstein in fact was stupid, who can we believe in?

The answers do not seem to be so clear...

torsdag 3 december 2009

A Dependent Investigation of Climategate

The allegations of scientific fraud at CRU led by AGW alarmist Phil Jones will be investigated by an Independent Review headed by Sir Muir Russell. The investigation should include also The Royal Society supporting CRU. Sir Muir became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh RSE in 2000. RSE states on its webpage:
  • The science that indicates that climate change is resulting from greenhouse gas emissions is well established, with the only real uncertainty being the scale of the future changes. Even if an ambitious international settlement can be achieved at the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit, Scotland will need to adapt to the climate change that is already inevitable.
In other words, RSE is on the same bandwagon as CRU and The Royal Society. Is it credible that Sir Muir can make an independent investigation without also leaving RSE and including also RSE in the investigation?

Compare with previous posts on The Royal Swedish Academy and The Royal Society

Another chief AGW alarmist Michael Mann is also under inquiry, by Penn State or State Penn.
Mann claims that skeptics consistently "badgered" Jones to try to distract him from his research. Amazing, what a clever plot by skeptics!

Meanwhile Americans are getting increasingly skeptic: Just 26% say it’s not very or not at all likely that some scientists falsified data. 

And Al Gore cancels his major Copenhagen lecture: Climate Conclusion. Why? Maybe because he concluded something by listening to Nigel Lawson in the Munk debate of Dec 1: I believe in reason.  During my long life I have never seen such a big difference between political rethoric and action as in climate politics. The debate changed the score from predebate: pro 61% and con 39% to postdebate: pro 53% and con 47%.  Evidently Lawson did a good job. 

The Gore cancellation is motivated by unforeseen changes in Al Gore's program for COP15. What is his program there, if not to lecture?

  • no more talk that science is settled
  • climate science has gone to bed with advocacy
  • climate science has shown to be a subbranch of climate politics
  • the stink of intellectual corruption is overpowering
  • climate science needs its own reset button.
What would happen if The Royal Swedish Academy, and why not The Royal Society, dared to listen to the crushing analysis of Rex Murphy? But The Royal Swedish Academy probably only listens to the state-controled Swedish Television SVT and Radio SR ordered to send an alarmist message to support Reinfeldt in his mission at COP15. SR reports today through Johan Rockström:
  • accellerating trends, tipping points, irreversible
  • climate science confirms global warming exactly as predicted by climate science, more or less
  • we stand between dangerous and catastrophical global warming
  • we can trust climate scientists: bit after bit is added to the knowledge puzzle
  • some Climategate emails do not change anything:
  • all universities, all scientific academies all over the globe, all agree on AGW.
Amazing! But the order of sending an alarmist message is fulfilled! Good job!

Sciencegate of Fluid Dynamics

The origins of the collapse of climate science now unfolding in Climategate can be traced back to the basic scientific discipline of fluid dynamics, because the global climate is created by the fluid dynamics of the coupled system ocean and atmosphere driven by the Sun and the rotation of the Earth.

The truth is that, which is hard to believe at first sight,  fluid dynamics collapsed as a science in the beginning of the century along with the collapse of classical mechanics as observed in The Age of Unreason and Reason, when Ludwig Prandtl presented a resolution of d'Alembert's paradox from 1752 of zero drag and lift in slightly viscous flow. 

d'Alembert's had shown that theoretical fluid dynamics predicted that an object would move through air without any force acting on the body from the fluid. Thus wings could not generate lift to carry a bird or airplane and there would be no resistance to motion. This made fluid dynamics into a mystery since start. 

This mystery lasted until the beginning of the 20th century, because a rational resolution of the paradox seemed impossible, but then the came the collpase of the Age of Reason which openend to irrational resolutions: Ludwig Prandtl quickly cooked up an explanation for drag and the mathematicans Kutta and Zhukovsky for lift, which lasted uncontested through the 20th century. But both explanations were physically incorrect, which was understood but kept secret in order to maintain scientific credibility. 

This was precisely what the Pythagoreans did with the irrationality of the squareroot of two, which threatened their school based on natural numbers. But the secret was revealed by a whistle-blower and the geometric school of Euclid took control, until Descartes resurrected numbers and initiated the scientific revolution leading into our digital world.

But the truth implicit in presentations by NASA is that:
  • The fluid dynamics of generation of lift by a wing is unknown!
  • The fluid dynamics of generation of drag is unknown!  
NASA presents three incorrect theories of lift, but no correct theory! Read and check! NASA does not seem to know more than Leonardo da Vinci, but is kept as a secret.

But there is a new resolution of d'Aembert's paradox which resolves these issues as shown in Why It Is Possible to Fly. The new resolution is published in a refereed journal of high class Journal of Mathematical Fluid Mechanics. It has massive mathematical, computational and experimental support. But it is suppressed by the scientific journal controlling the minds of fluid dynamicists in the World: Journal of Fluid Mechanics JFM. 

Unfortunatley science is extremely authoritarian: What the chief editor JFM says dictates the beliefs of all fluid dynamicists on the globe, more effectively than the Pope controls all catholics.

This breathtaking story is told in my previous blog posts under theory of flight including
and interviews with key actors such as NASA and JFM. I hope you will read and get amazed, by scientific fraud and real science, just as in Climategate! It is a good story! 

In short, since fluid dynamics is a mess, no wonder that climate modeling is a mess. And the moment when this will be acknowledged in "I was wrong" from Al Gore or Michael Mann or Jim Hanson seems to be approaching...Or that The Royal Society and The Royal Swedish Academy say "We were wrong".

A key question is the heat transport from ocean through the troposhere by turbulent convection to the stratosphere and out by radiation. It should be possible to simulate this process with the new fluid simulators now available, as well as ocean circulation. We are gearing up to this challenge ...hopefully filling some space left free in the aftermath of Climategate...

onsdag 2 december 2009

From Cimategate to Sciencegate

The scandal of scientific fraud at East Anglia University is a symptom of a wider crisis in science, politics and media identified e.g. by Andrew Orlowski in The scandal we see and the scandal we don't see by Frank J. Tipler in Climategate: The Skeptical Scientists View on The Resilient Earth and in my post on The Age of Unreason and Reason and The End of Anonymous Peer-Review in Science. Or some of the other 18 miljon Climategate hits on Google. 

The main question is how it is possible that the distorted view of a small group of scientists can come to dominate both science, media and politics? We know by experience from the 20th century in particular, that if in a society everybody is led to run in the same direction by a certain propaganda pretending to be scientific and rational, things can go seriously wrong. 

Wall Street Journal identifies the problem to be Climategate: Science Is Dying:
  • The East Anglians' mistreatment of scientists who challenged global warming's claims—plotting to shut them up and shut down their ability to publish—evokes the attempt to silence Galileo. The exchanges between Penn State's Michael Mann and East Anglia CRU director Phil Jones sound like Father Firenzuola, the Commissary-General of the Inquisition.
  • Everyone working in science, no matter their politics, has an stake in cleaning up the mess revealed by the East Anglia emails. Science is on the credibility bubble. If it pops, centuries of what we understand to be the role of science go with it.
Yes, the main responsibility of scientists in a free society is to guarantee that false science is detected and kept under control. When The Royal Society and The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and many other scientific societies uncritically endorse IPCC, they fail to live up to this responsibility. The conclusion can only be that modern science is in a deep crisis in front of a Sciencegate leading out into empty space.

A main responsibility of media, in particular public service, is to report objectively without preset one-sided agenda. When Swedish Television adopts a preset policy of climate alarmism along with the main Swedish newspapers DN and SvD,  this responsibility is given up. The conclusion is that a form of Berlusconi media politics has taken over both public service and the free independent press in our democratic society.

The crisis seems to be pretty serious...according to blogosphere but not classical yet another indication of the crisis of science and media.

But there is hope: Jon Stewart: Science debunked. As long as you can laugh there is hope. Has Jon not heard about KVA? And there is CBSNews:
  • It looks like climate change skeptics have finally found their voice. And scientists and politicians endorsing dramatic limits on economic growth to limit carbon dioxide have been reminded where the burden of proof properly lies. 

But the score for US television is as poor as Swedish: 12 Days, 3 Networks and No Mention of Climategate Scandal. And so comes the crushing Editorial in Nature:

  • Nothing in the e-mails undermines the scientific case that global warming is real — or that human activities are almost certainly the cause. 
  • Denialists often maintain that these changes are just a symptom of natural climate variability. But when climate modellers test this assertion by running their simulations with greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide held fixed, the results bear little resemblance to the observed warming. 
  • The strong implication is that increased greenhouse-gas emissions have played an important part in recent warming, meaning that curbing the world's voracious appetite for carbon is essential 
  • The harassment that denialists inflict on some climate-change researchers, often in the form of endless, time-consuming demands for information under the US and UK Freedom of Information Acts. Governments and institutions need to provide tangible assistance for researchers facing such a burden.
  • The e-mail theft also highlights how difficult it can be for climate researchers to follow the canons of scientific openness, which require them to make public the data on which they base their conclusions.
  • The pressures the UEA e-mailers experienced may be nothing compared with what will emerge as the United States debates a climate bill next year, and denialists use every means at their disposal to undermine trust in scientists and science.
These statements expressing evidently deeply felt convictions of an Editor of a main scientific journal, show that scientific values and principles are in a state of free fall "undermining the trust in scientists and science". This is serious, because the World needs trustworthy scientists and science. The alternative is state-controlled lysenkoism or tabloid truth.

tisdag 1 december 2009

The Age of Unreason and Reason of Fredrik the Great

The respected former British chancellor of the exchequer Nigel Lawson writes in his book
  • ...those worried about imminent environmental catastrophe, as compared, for examples, to nuclear terrorism or even large meteoric collisions, need not worry about saving this planet. They are already living on another one ... We appear to have entered a new age of unreason ... It is from this, above all, that we really need to save the planet.

Yes, it appears that we live in an age of unreason, but why is it so? Don't we still live in an Age of Reason as a continuation of the Age of Enligthenment in the 18th century? 

Why have politicians jumped on an alarmist train threatening to push human civilization to the brink of ruin? When did the Age of Reason end?

The answer is: In the beginning of the 20th century when modern physics was born as a reaction to an apparent collapse of classical rational physics which had served as the foundation of the Age of Reason for 200 years. At the same time classical art and music collapsed into cubism and atonal music. I describe this in 
In short, with the modern physics of relativity theory and quantum mechanics, physics became irrational, incomprehensible, unreasonable and magical. This opened to irrational and unreasonable politics throwing humanity into a 1st World War and then a 2nd. We have not yet recovered from these shocks. 

So there we stand. What role can reason play in an Age of Unreason? Is it possible to again make physics rational, reasonable and understandable and build a society and politics on that ground?

Maybe, because in the long run we can expect reason to be more functional than unreason.

For example, suppose one more EU politician than Vaclav Klaus would say: Since science gives no evidence to alert an AGW alarm at enormous costs, let us be reasonable and call off Copenhagen and do something meaningful and reasonable instead to make it possible for the people on this planet to live reasonable lives in an Age of Reason. 

Suppose Fredrik Reinfeldt in dream got this idea, got convinced that it was reasonable and determined to sell it to EU and the World. That could make him a new enlightened Frederick the Great!  So Fredrik,  take a nap and see if the dream least try for 10 minutes...

Remember Fredrik that Frederick also aspired to be a philosopher-king like the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius and stood close to the French Enlightenment, admiring above all its greatest thinker, Voltaire, with whom he corresponded frequently. Listen to these wise words
of him:
  • I have no fault to find with those who teach geometry. That science is the only one which has not produced sects; it is founded on analysis and on synthesis and on the calculus; it does not occupy itself with the probable truth; moreover it has the same method in every country. 

måndag 30 november 2009

The End of Anonymous Peer Review in Science

Wall Street Journal expresses its Opinion on Climategate in The Web Discloses Inconvenient Climate Truths: The world cannot trust scientists who abuse their power:
  • The emails showed how the global-warming group stifled dissent. They controlled the peer-review process, keeping opposing views unpublished, then cited "peer review" as evidence of their "consensus." 
  • ...scientists who suppressed others "must have felt that this secrecy was their best weapon: to censor differing opinions, to develop 'trick' procedures, to 'balance' the needs of the IPCC, and even to 'redefine' peer review."
  • Why are scholars who review papers allowed to remain anonymous? 
  • Reforming scientists and lawmakers might put the question more concretely: How many of the anonymous reviewers who spiked skeptical scientific papers over the years are the people who wrote these emails detailing how they abused peer review to block contrary evidence?
  • Science was one of the first disciplines to insist on transparency in order to foster competition in data and ideas. In the case of global warming, transparency is better late than never, as policy makers now have the chance to review the facts. 
  • Facing up to high-profile flaws is hard for any profession, but honest scientists will cheer how in our digital era eventually the truth will out, and will accept that no scientific hypothesis can be viewed as sacred or can be proved in secret.
Yes, Climategate has put the finger on the weak spot of science: anonymous peer-review.

Science requires open debate between living scientists with faces and names in order to guarantee that arguments and facts can properly be scrutinized, compared and evaluated.  If in a scientific debate or controversy, one side is allowed to be anonymous and hide the cards, a call cannot be made and the game is unfair. And the result of an unfair game of science can be unfair incorrect science. Just as if you were allowed to cheat in sports. It seems clear that the peer-review process has to be redefined. 

tisdag 24 november 2009

Secret Societies of Science

As Climategate is now unraveling, I see aspects of science which I have had to struggle with in particular during my later career. This is the Dan Brown Da Vinci Code or Umberto Eco Il Nome della Rosa syndrome of secret control by secret societies, which scientific societies and journals have come to practice with considerable ingenuity in our time, in particular IPCC, as exemplified by the post on Pielke's blog Beware Saviors! by Demetris Koutsoyiannis. 

More details on secret societies of science, see Pielke on The IPCC Turf. 

One of my own experiences of this trait is recorded in: 

KVA, Nobel Prizes, Statement on AGW, IPCC and Nobel Humbug

To The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences KVA 

KVA awards the Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry and to maintain the high prestige of these prizes, it is necessary that KVA gives an impression of scientific competence to the World. 

As the scientific credibility of IPCC is now being seriously questioned, KVA cannot continue to rely on IPCC without losing credibility itself and thereby damage one of the cornerstones of the Kingdom of Sweden. KVA therefore must revise its statement on AGW and express a scientific view independent of IPCC, or withdraw the statement and say nothing. The Nobel Prize ceremony is coming up in two weeks, and neither the King nor the people wants to make it into a joke.

As long as KVA keeps silent, Swedish media will do the same, since in Sweden nobody dares to question Nobel Prize authority. But an Emperor without clothes easily loses credibility...see video clips e.g. the debate between Chris Horner and Howard Gould.

The very essence of science is in jeopardy, and KVA must rethink: In its Message to the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference KVA states:
  • Time is of the essence for radical urgent changes to the global energy system. The  world has been increasingly powered by fossil fuels over the last 150 years and now this trend will  have to be reversed in a much shorter time period. Huge changes that will affect and concern  society and individuals will have to take place in a well thought-out manner. The political decisions  made over the next few years will profoundly affect future generations. 
This is a statement of a scientific society with a political agenda of "huge changes". But the mission of scientific society is science, not politics. Unfortunately,the climate science of KVA is the climate politics of IPCC,  as expressed by Alfred Nobel:
Aldous Huxley warned in Brave New World for scientific dictatorship as a world government managed by functional elites and scientists, as did Bertrand Russell in The Impact of Science on Society. The analysis of Huxley and Russell seems to be as actual and relevant as ever.

No reactions 25/11 from KVA on my letters of 3/11 and 22/11. I suggest KVA listens to e.g. Alex Jones Part 1 and Part 2 or James Inhofe and for a moment tests the hypothesis that what is being said is true, and if the answer is yes, KVA takes some action.

onsdag 4 november 2009

Science as Religion

  • An executive has won the right to sue his employer on the basis that he was unfairly dismissed for his green views after a judge ruled that environmentalism had the same weight in law as religious and philosophical beliefs.
  • In a landmark ruling, Mr Justice Michael Burton said that "a belief in man-made climate change ... is capable, if genuinely held, of being a philosophical belief for the purpose of the 2003 Religion and Belief Regulations".
  • The executive, Mr Nicholson, hailed the Employment Appeals Tribunal ruling as "a victory for common sense" but stressed climate change was "not a new religion" and said:
  • "I believe man-made climate change is the most important issue of our time and nothing should stand in the way of diverting this catastrophe.
Mr Nicholson does not believe that climate change is a religion, even if the judge does so. Can that be taken as a new reason for dismissal? Or is  to believe that something is science and not religion, also a form of religion?

What is in fact the difference between science and religion? If  God is Mathematician, which many scientists and mathematicians believe, does it mean that mathematical sciences are religion? Compare Taking Science on Faith.

Can insisting that curved space-time of eleven dimensions is the most important issue of our time, be a reason for dismissal?

onsdag 21 oktober 2009

The Political Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences made a statement on October 16 entitled The Scientific Basis for Climate Change including:
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group 1 (The Physical  Science Basis) has given a broad, systematic summary of the scientific literature on climate  change and has concluded that the anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gases has led to an  increase in the surface temperature of the Earth.
  • The relationship between climate forcing and the response to climate forcing is complex and  can only be reliably identified for periods of several decades and for hemispheric and global  domains. This is supported by both empirical and modelling studies. Trends of shorter periods  are unreliable and masked by the chaotic behaviour of the climate system. However, based on  detailed theoretical and modelling studies, IPCC concludes that the observed warming of the  climate from around 1970 is in broad agreement with the increase of greenhouse gases and  aerosols and consequently considers this to be the most probable main cause of the present  global warming.  
  • IPCC has undertaken modelling studies to estimate the effect of anthropogenic greenhouse  gases and aerosols on climate during the next 100 years based on different emission scenarios.  These studies indicate a global surface warming at the end of the 21st century of 1.5-3.5 °C  compared to present-day conditions. A large part of this warming is related to positive feedback  from water vapour that increases rapidly with higher temperature.  
  • Regrettably, we are not yet in a position to determine with any precision what is going to  happen.  
The Academy repeats what can be seen as a form of UN political propaganda by IPCC, which is a political and not a scientific organization, without an independent evaluation of the scientific truth and significance of what IPCC says. 

The statement is concluded with a graph of temperature anomalies, without any comment, as if the graph itself tells us the truth, whatever it is.

One may ask why an Academy of Sciences is urged to make a statement without a clear scientific content and meaning? Does the Academy support the findings of IPCC based on independent research performed within the Academy? Does the Academy accept the IPCC report without any independent critical evaluation? Is the Academy critical to the IPCC report? Is the statement political in support of Borg and Carlgren in their mission to close a climate deal, or scientific? 

Andreas Carlgren stated Oct 21 after the EU environment ministers agreed on Council Conclusions in the area of climate ahead of the meeting in Copenhagen:
  • The EU is now sending a forceful and clear signal to other countries in the run-up to the climate meeting in Copenhagen. We are prepared to show the political leadership necessary to save the climate and reach an agreement in Copenhagen that will keep global warming to under two degrees Centigrade.
  • Long-term targets for the EU of 80-95 per cent emissions reductions by 2050 compared with 1990 levels.
  • Clarification of EU demands on industrialised countries and developing countries alike. Industrialised countries are to reduce their emissions by 25-40 per cent by 2020. The reductions of developing countries will be 15-30 per cent compared with a situation in which no measures had been taken.
Fredrik Reinfeldt and Andreas Carlgren of The Kingdom of Sweden and EU, supported by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, is now leading the world into a new carbonfree order...The King of Sweden cannot make political statements, but it appears that his Royal Swedish Academy can...

To better understand I have sent the following letter to the Academy:

To The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

I have commented the statement on climate change by the Academy on my blog, and would like answers to the following questions posed there:
  • Has the Academy made an independent evaluation of the science presented by IPCC, and if so what is the result?
  • If not, why does the Academy as a scientific academy make a statement only repeating what IPCC says?
I will report on the answers by the Academy. The Academy is a "statlig myndighet", or governmental institution, and thus according to Swedish law has to answer...

No yet an answer on Nov 1. Is the Academy thinking or sleeping?

tisdag 20 oktober 2009

The Safe Disappointing Success of LHC

Steven Weinberg in a recent talk states concerning the scientific reasons behind investing billions of dollars in the Large Hadron Collider:
  • Many of us are terrified that the LHC will discover a Higgs particle and nothing else. That would just confirm the standard model, which everybody believes already. It would not point the way to further progress in solving a deeper problem that physics faces—how to add gravity to the unified theory of the other forces.
  • It would be much more exiting if the Higgs particle is not found rather than if it is found.
  • The Higgs is well within the reach of the LHC.
  • It would be ridiculus to say that LHC was designed to discover the Higgs.
  • No-one will ever see a Higgs particle. What will be seen is its decay particles.
  • It is highly likely that the Higgs will be found.
  • If the Congress had not had the imbecility to cancel the Superconducting Super Collider in 1993, it would have been discovered long ago here in Texas. 
As an scientist, amateur particle physicist and taxpayer I get very intrigued by statements like this: LHC would be a success if the Higgs is found, although a bit disappointing, and even more successful if it is not found, although also a bit disappointing...

torsdag 8 oktober 2009

Sociology of Science

J. Bradford DeLong gives on his blog in The State of Economics in the 2000s Analogized 
to another major recent case in which an academic discipline went completely off the rails, namely English departments' swing into postmodernism in the '80s and early '90s, characterized by
  • In both cases, the people involved maintained, credibly, that you couldn't really assess the work in question without putting a lot of effort into understanding it.
  • In both cases, that required mastering difficult stuff. (In econ, all the math and models; in pomo lit stuff, mastering the literally incomprehensible language in which a lot of that stuff was written.)
  • In both cases, that deterred a lot of people on the outside who were generally puzzled and skeptical, but didn't want to spend years getting into a position in which they could credibly say: yes, this is, in fact, nuts.
  • So in both cases practitioners were largely insulated from criticism they had to take seriously.
This also describes several branches of modern physics including the theory of relativity and string theory, but also classical fields like fluid mechanics. The sociology of fluid mechanics be can experienced in my blog interviews with Editors of Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Glenn Research Science, Bryon D. Anderson: Sailing Expert, Anderson-Eberhardt: Flight Experts. See also Fear of Flying. 
DeLong concludes:
  • Relatedly, in both cases it took shocks from the outside to expose the problems in this (in the case of English, things like the Sokal hoax; in the case of econ, the near-collapse of the global economy.)
  • Both cases involved a lot of arrogance, and a generally dismissive attitude towards other approaches. Since, in both cases, practitioners were able to seize significant amounts of control over a discipline before their approach crashed and burned, this did real damage to the disciplines in question (leading to, e.g., large chunks of previous disciplinary history being forgotten.)
  • Both cases involved significant political motivation.Of course, it's possible that I only think this would be fun to write, and/or read, because it would tweak the Chicago economists to be compared to pomo English professors. ;)
Is this also the fate of classical fluid mechanics?