Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pascal Bruckner Against Environmental Panic ???

I've read a few writings by a popular media philosopher named Pascal Bruckner who spends a lot of time insinuating motivations onto other's - but, never establishing any sort of firm case.  I am offended that he has chosen to attack science in a most childish manner, dressed up behind fancy words and fanciful notions that are never supported with any sort of case study grounded in real world events.  

Heck, Pascal clearly demonstrates he doesn't even understand the difference between substantial and insubstantial, see ¶3.  Though it doesn't slow down his distain for the professionals who study our planet and the information they share.

Last year over at I wrote up a detailed critique on "Essay: Carbon footprint as 'original sin'."  I've now come across another article based on his book "Fanaticism of the Apocalypse."  Here again Bruckner weaves a cynical tale supported by nothing but his own muse.

Bruckner displays not the slightest understanding of what Earth scientists do, or the information they gather, nor the real life implications of that research.  Instead he feeds right into the Libertarian/Republican handbook of smug disregard for down to earth facts with an astounding amount of unjustified self-certitude.

Since Pascal Bruckner has decided to become a pawn in their strategic attack on science and rational learning - his words deserve to be examined and exposed for the farce they are.
Admittedly I'm no scholar, and it would be great if someone of more credibility take on the task - but until then, here is this layperson's critical review of Pascal Bruckner's fantasy as displayed in his The Chronicle of Higher Education article "Against Environmental Panic

{originally published at my}  
{I have informed The Chronicle of Higher Education... 
no response so far.}
{If anyone wants, feel free to copy and use as you see fit.}


June 17, 2013
Against Environmental Panic

By Pascal Bruckner (4200words)

¶1  In Jesuit schools we were urged to strengthen our faith by spending time in monasteries. We were assigned spiritual exercises to be dutifully written in little notebooks that were supposed to renew the promises made at baptism and to celebrate the virtues of Christian love and succor for the weak. It wasn't enough just to believe;

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Human Knowledge, Reliability and Fallibilism by Mariano Artigas

Reposted from WUWTW:

In doing some research on my next post I came across an essay by  Mariano Artigas.  Although not intended as such, it is an eye opener to the various ways contrarians have been able to misrepresent Popperian philosophy with their disingenuously contorted "necessary and sufficient falsifiable hypothesis statements" argument.

I am reposting the following essay complete and unaltered {except for adding paragraph #s, some line breaks and highlights} and hope some will find it informative and helpful in their own educational process.

For a look at Mariano Artigas' larger body of work regarding Popper visit:

The Ethical Roots of Karl Popper's Epistemology 

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This article appears at the website of the 
University of Navarra Group of Research on Science, Reason and Faith (CRYF)

Reposted under authority of CreativeCommons license NC-ND3.0 
along with much thanks to the University of Navarra.

"Human Knowledge, Reliability and Fallibilism"

by Mariano Artigas 
Napoli, 1992

¶1  One of the main subjects that we must face when we consider the image of man in our scientific age is the value of human knowledge which, in its turn, appears to be strongly dependent on our evaluation of empirical science. In this context, questions about the reliability of science occupy a central place. J├╝rgen Habermas has written that if we were to reconstruct the philosophical discussion of modern times as a judicial process, the only question that should be decided would be this: how can we obtain reliable knowledge? [Habermas 1968, p. 11].

¶2  It is well known that fallibilism is one of the main ideas of the Popperian philosophy and that it implies the negation of any kind of reliability.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Port Authorities waking up to rising sea levels

While climate science denialists continue cranking out their increasingly disconnected con-jobs on the public, folks that have to deal in the real world are starting to appreciate the increasing impacts manmade global warming is having on the infrastructure our society depends on.  
On the front line we have Port Authorities who know they must accommodate the reality of sea level rise, or find themselves underwater and out of business in the not too distant future.  It's real and it's happening and I'll let John Englander take it from here . . .
Climate Change / Ocean Impacts Blog

SEAPORTS Magazine feature about Rising Sea Level and Superstorms
John Englander on Sat, 07/12/2014

SEAPORTS Magazine has a feature article by Dr. Austin Becker and me, "Superstorms and Rising Sea Level Present a New Challenge for Ports"* in the Summer 2014 issue. Austin Becker teaches as the University of Rhode Island. His PhD thesis from Stanford was about Ports and vulnerability to climate change. 
* Becker and Englander on Superstorms and Rising Sea Level Present a New Challenge for Ports 
Austin Becker / Becker Group News, NEWS / 
Dr. Becker teamed up with John Englander to contribute an opinion piece to the American Association of Port Authorities. 
Download it HERE.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Climate Change 101 - The Human Connection

In my continuing effort to share solid informative sources I have a nice concise description of the known fundamentals of our global warming situation that was put together by the NCSE.
The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is a not-for-profit, membership organization providing information and resources for schools, parents, and concerned citizens working to keep evolution and climate science in public school science education. They educate the press and public about the scientific and educational aspects of controversies surrounding the teaching of evolution and climate change, and supply needed information and advice to defend good science education at local, state, and national levels.
I've listen to various interesting YouTube talks and an interview given by their Executive Director Eugenie Scott and recommend them to anyone interested in defending science against faith-based ideologues.
I asked for and received their kind permission to reprint their article in full.  If you like the NCSE approach please visit their webpage at
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How Much Does Human Activity Affect Climate Change?
  • January 5th, 2012
The Earth’s climate is changing rapidly. Scientists trying to find out what’s causing climate change work like detectives, gathering evidence to rule out some suspects and to ascertain just who is responsible. It’s clear, based on over a century of scientific investigation, that humans are responsible for most of the climate change we’ve seen over the last 150 years.
Humans are not the only suspects. The climate has changed throughout the Earth’s history, well before humans evolved.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Prof Kerry Emanuel - What We KNOW About Climate Change

Recently Professor Kerry Emanuel PhD gave a talk for the MIT Club of Northern California were he did a nice job of reviewing the many lines of evidence that make clear that we and our society are changing our global climate in threatening ways.  I liked the talk enough to think it deserved the time and effort to make short notes with time signatures for easy reference.  

Feel free to copy and share.

Kerry Emanuel - Lorenz Center, Department of Earth, Atmosphere, and Planetary Sciences, MIT


3:25 - The something that get's lost is how intellectually exciting climate is.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Catmando: Dr. Richard Feynman's Primer For Deniers

While going over the comments to Hans Clusters "Is Climate Science falsifiable" I came across the obligatory (yet misleading) appeal to Dr. Richard Feynman's authority.  Probably the most charismatic and hip atom bomb building physicist there was, kids and lefties loved him.  Back in the day, I read a couple of his books and he did a wonderful job of explaining science, plus his own life story was quite fascinating.  To top it off, one of his last big acts was to bust open the Challenger Shuttle disaster investigation with a simple demonstration that highlighted the foolishness of blasting off a rocket early after a freezing night with icicles still dangling off the gantry.

His name has now become a favored among the contrarian crowd.  You see, Dr. Feynman gave a great many lectures and was loved for his provocative approach to teaching physics and his copious legacy has become a motherlode for the quote-mining debate loving crowd.  

Then, looking up more background information I was reading Victor Venema's interesting article "Falsifiable and falsification in science" over at his Variable Variability blog, I found out that a few months ago Catmando took the time to find some Feynman quotes that shed a more realistic light onto his thinking about the scientific process than the disingenuous curve balls our contrarian debate mates toss out.  

Catmando has been kind enough to give me permission to repost his article in full - and both of us give you permission to copy and pass along - but please do give him credit for his work and link back to

I also want to invite anyone who knows of other Feynman quotes worth contemplating please do share.

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A Richard Feynman Primer For Deniers

Thursday, 20 February 2014 ~ IngeniousPursuits.blogspot

Deniers love Richard Feynman.  He was everything that they could hope for, successful, witty, a hit with the ladies, a bona fide genius and Nobel laureate.  They love to quote him because he seems to support what they are aiming at: science is uncertain, some bits of science aren't true, etc.

But I sometimes wonder what Feynman would have made of the denialists.  Since he died in 1988 it isn't possible to ask him and I don't have to hand his collected works so I can't interrogate them either.  But he left some interesting quotes, the sort that the deniers usually don't bother with, that give us an idea of what he might have thought, for instance, of climate change denial.

First exhibit:
“Ordinary fools are all right; you can talk to them, and try to help them out. But pompous fools - guys who are fools and are covering it all over and impressing people as to how wonderful they are with all this hocus locus - THAT, I CANNOT STAND! 
An ordinary fool isn't a faker; an honest fool is all right. But a dishonest fool is terrible!”
I can think of some examples of the dishonest fools that Feynman might mean here.  In the interests of keeping lawyers unemployed, I shall not name names but leave it to the reader to guess who I might have in mind.  Some of them are peerless, others not so.

Second exhibit:
"So my antagonist said, "Is it impossible that there are flying saucers? Can you prove that it's impossible?" "No", I said, "I can't prove it's impossible. It's just very unlikely". At that he said, "You are very unscientific. If you can't prove it impossible then how can you say that it's unlikely?" 
But that is the way that is scientific. It is scientific only to say what is more likely and what less likely, and not to be proving all the time the possible and impossible.”
 Climate was less of an important topic when Feynman was alive but UFOs were.  The point of this quote is clear - Feynman was a true skeptic.  The fake skeptic denialists are certain they have shown anthropogenic climate change is impossible.  The proponents of AGW have demonstrated the idea beyond reasonable and scientific doubt.  

Third exhibit:
“A philosopher once said, "It is necessary for the very existence of science that the same conditions always produce the same results." Well, they don't!” 
Deniers put unreasonable demands on scientific evidence.  Just like Feynman's hypothetical philosopher.

Fourth exhibit:
“Of course, I am interested, but I would not dare to talk about them. In talking about the impact of ideas in one field on ideas in another field, one is always apt to make a fool of oneself. In these days of specialization there are too few people who have such a deep understanding of two departments of our knowledge that they do not make fools of themselves in one or the other.” 
In other words, unless you are truly expert, don't act as if you were.

My opinion is that Feynman would have laughed the deniers out of court. He would have educated himself first, read some key literature and found out what was true, what was known and what uncertainties there were.  But he would have come down on the side of science against anti-science. He understood as well as anyone that science does find things out that are true and that plenty of science is settled.  He wasn't stupid, like the ordinary fools he met on many of his working days.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Prof Camille Parmesan - Biodiversity and Climate Change

      March 19th, 2014 Professor Camille Parmesan* gave the first Annual Plymouth Lecture, presented jointly by the Plymouth University and the Linnean Society of London, hosted by Dr Malcolm Scoble (Scientific Secretary Linnean Society of London)  Dr Parmesan's talk was titled, "Biodiversity and Climate Change - Connecting the Past to the Future"

The video is followed with short descriptions and time-signatures for easy reference. 

Video is posted at YouTube by Rich Boden - Plymouth Linnean Lecture

"2014 - Prof Camille Parmesan - Biodiversity and Climate Change"

Texas Academy of Science's  2013 Distinguished Texas Scientist