July 12, 2009
There's an old geek joke. A professor asked three students (math, physics, computer science) the same question: Prove or disprove the theorem that all odd numbers are prime.
The math student said, "1 is prime, 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is not prime so the theorem is false."
The physics student said, "1 is prime, 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is experimental error, 11 is prime, 13 is prime, and that's enough data for a conclusion. The theorem is true."
The computer science student said, "1 is prime, 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is prime, 11 is prime, 13 is prime, 15 is prime, 17 is prime, 19 is prime..."
The physics student wasn't the primary butt of the joke, but that attitude towards experimental data keeps coming up. And it seems to me that these days the proponents of the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming are firmly in that camp.
It's been cold here. We had a few warm days a couple of weeks ago, but for the last week the weather here has been more like what I expect from March than what I expect from July. June was just as bad. Overcast and lots of rain, and really cold.
I didn't go out today, but if I had I'd have had to wear a sweatshirt. That's how chilly it was outside.
Does this, or data like it, disprove AGW? Of course not, its proponents will say. It's just anecdotal. Or it's experimental error. Or Hey Look! The guy who is offering us that information once bought a tank of gasoline for his car, so obviously he's in thrall to the oil companies. You can safely ignore him.
But if this summer were blazingly hot, well, that would be unimpeachable evidence. Any anecdote which is consistent with AGW is pounced on by its proponents.
Inconsistent? Of course. But AGW is about as scientific as Creationism is.
And while in many cases the proponents of the AGW hypothesis (it ain't a "theory") have been more like that physics student, these days they're more like the CS geek, caught in a loop.
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Also, I hate unsolicited suggestions and advice. (Even when you think you're being funny.)
At Chizumatic, we take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately.
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