This old picture of myself and a fellow outlaw is given as proof of my deep anti-social propensities.
A friend of mine, long ago, would sit and listen to George Carlin’s FM & AM record album.
I could mimic Carlin’s delivery and voice, especially the radio bits. None of which is apropos of anything, except that during one joke, Carlin was teasing women who watch soap operas (do they still have them?). The ladies, he said in an exaggerated tone, called these “My stories.”
Well, this is my story. Which I’d ordinarily never bother anybody with. Except that the coronadoom panic is passing back to the lucrative global-warming-of-doom, now “climate change”, manufactured lucrative panic, which is lucrative. Many might not recall the old glorious global warming days, which lead to events which caused my expulsion from polite society, so a brief review is in order.
I was an Associate Editor of Monthly Weather Review (until 2011), and of course a member of the American Meteorological Society, including being on its Probability and Statistics Committee, and was in other suchlike organizations. I was, for one year, a forecaster with the National Weather Service. I spent a summer at NCAR. I was a named person. I won awards.
My BS “degree” was in meteorology and math. My MS “degree” was in atmospheric physics. I programmed my first climate-crop model in Fortran. I have had peer-reviewed papers in the Journal of Climate. Among others.
I went into weather because, while I was doing cryptography in the Air Force, the first global warming panic was underway. And I believed it. I even wrote one of the authors of the first IPCC report, and he graciously sent me a copy when I was overseas. I wanted to go into some kind of science after the service, and this field seemed especially important.
As I was doing my Masters, I realized that to understand what a forecast really was, and what distinguished good from bad ones, I had to figure out probability and statistics. So I did my PhD in those subjects. My dissertation was on model goodness—and badness.
I still believed global warming was important, like nearly every Expert, but the longer I looked at climate model performance, and especially models that are driven by climate model input, and their monumental failures and vast over-certainties, I became more and more disillusioned.
So I dropped out, so to speak, to think. Luckily, I was working outside academia and could do this. If you understand this paradox, you understand much.
Many people don’t know this, but to get a PhD in “science” (in the States), one never has to read or study any philosophy. At all.
This is not sensible, because in order to understand science, and uncertainty, one has to know philosophy. Most scientists wing it, absorbing field-dependent tidbits and myths (I use this word in its old-fashioned sense, and not as “something false”), and many even deny they have a philosophy—which is a philosophy.
After about ten years of reading—starting with Jaynes, then Jeffreys, then Stove, and then etc.—I came to realize what I didn’t know. Which was a lot. What I did know was that others must surely be as ignorant as I was about science. So I wrote Uncertainty (in 2016). Which maybe ought to be titled The Philosophy of Uncertainty. With something about Science in a subtitle. (I am a terrible title writer.)
Climate models aren’t that good. They run hot. They often don’t have skill. Persistence can beat them (persistence is saying next year will be like this year). Model hot flashes should be embarrassing. They aren’t. Why? Partly because scientists cherish models over Reality. But that’s not all.
It is a trivial truth that man influences the climate. All creatures do. And all things. It’s when you marry that triviality with something like a Gnostic or pantheistic belief that man is an evil presence that we begin to understand that many want, and even need, to believe there is a climate “crisis”.
Here’s one of several incidents that proves this.
A group of us—Christopher Monckton, Willie Soon, David Legates, and moi—wrote a paper describing a simple model of the climate. Why Models Run Hot: Results From An Irreducibly Simple Climate Model (update: link fixed). A peer-reviewed paper, and therefore above criticism. Yes? Never mind.
We said, in essence, yes, man will cause a slight warming, but it won’t be very large, and we’ll be fine.
What wonderful news! The world was not going to end in heat death. All would be well! We don’t need to panic!
What a relief.
What they call a “firestorm” erupted. My old site was hacked, Christopher was called every bad name there was. Willie and David suffered greatly. There were Congressional investigations, FOIA requests, hersteria, histeria, apoplexy, sputtering, protests, and other forms of lunacy.
It was discovered that we took no money, not a cent, not any form of compensation or consideration, to write the paper. This really rankled.
Of course, it wasn’t a surprise to us that we would be met by hostility. But because it was hostility, and not sane criticism, was all the proof we needed to understand the whole thing is not science, but something else.
Yes, our model could be wrong. Many models are wrong. I make many mistakes. But the possibility of our being in error is nothing to be angry about.
Besides, I ask you, whose model in the years since has matched Reality better?
What caused certain people to be furious was that if we were right, there was no need for them. No need for their “solutions”, or activism, or bureaucracy, or laws, or regulations, or for money or prestige or “oxygen” to be given them. That you are not needed is not a happy message. So I understand.
Along the way, I investigated many methods used to prove (P < 0.05) the sky is falling. The stuff done in the name of time series analysis, for instance, is black comedy. But there is also the deeply suspicious methods of temperature “homogenization”, falsifiability (ignore it!), the epidemiologist fallacy, how smoothing increases correlation and induces the false belief in causation, the extreme dangers of “trend analysis”, and many, many more.
You can search for those on the Classic Posts page. The search, unfortunately, is crude. One of these days, he said with something resembling a resigned sigh in his voice, I’ll clean this up.
Or maybe I won’t have to. Since all bad things come around, we’ll surely be doing all these topics again soon.
Anyway, once it became known I was a “climate denier”, I suddenly had fewer friends. I had a job lined up at Livermore lab in California, to run the stats group. When I got out there, I was met with “Briggs? Briggs who?” Seems I angered one of the true believers.
Pat Michaels, may he rest in peace, lined up a job for me at Cato. But I was fired, once again right before starting. Turns out I angered another true believer there. One of the VPs was not happy with my stance against “gay marriage”.
I had another job lined up with a prestigious consulting firm. A VP there said “I’m not going to work with a climate denier.”
Then, after connections got me back in academia part time, I was fired from Cornell. And then—
But you have the idea.
Long boring story later, and we discover that the same foundational problems in “climate change”, and the burning need to protect these problems from scrutiny, are found in every branch of science, to various extent. I don’t mean just woke and DIE, which are the most potent corrosives known to man. Woke and DIE will kill anything they touch, not just science.
The problem is deeper than woke. It’s also the Expertocracy, pervasive scientism and scidolatry, the mad expansion-team effect, peer review, the vast monies pumped into the system, and similar faults.
But the deepest problems are philosophical, and go to the misunderstandings of what science is, and what science is not, which science can do, and what it can’t. If we can’t fix these, we can’t fix anything.
Turns out there are still people who care about this—about which more shortly.
Buy my new book and learn to argue against the regime: Everything You Believe Is Wrong.