Science managed to get it right

Science managed to get it right

It is interesting that no one is taking issue with scientists predicting an eclipse. No one is saying, "scientists have been wrong before, so I'm not going to trust them on this". No one is insisting that it is all part of some massive conspiracy. No one is claiming they can predict eclipses better than scientists because of something they read online. Indeed, everyone seems quite comfortable to admit that scientists are competent and have a really good understanding of the physical world. Everyone Implicitly admits that scientists know more about science then they do.

So why is it that on topics like climate change , vacciness, evolution, etc. suddenly everyone thinks they know more than the scientists do?

rgrant | 22. August 2017

While I'm very much in the pro-science camp there have been too many well publicized instances of scientists being on the wrong side of history for us to have blind faith in every word that is claimed to be scientific.

Science has been abused to cover up the dangers of smoking, lead in petrol, global warming. And to defend things such as eugenics.

If these kinds of things had stopped a long time ago then I think we'd be in a better place, but it still goes on today and worthy scientists work is made harder because of it.

Shock | 22. August 2017

It's a bit of a stretch to say that since scientists predicted an eclipse--something they have done many times before and constantly gotten right--we can then assume they are always right. In fact, that's unscientific.

carlk | 22. August 2017

"Science has been abused to cover up the dangers of smoking, lead in petrol, global warming."

But those are not real science just something wrapped under the cover of science. The most basic requisite of a scientific report, which all of them are lacking, is it has to be subjected to peer review process and has to be reproducible by anyone. Real science has always able to prove those fake ones wrong.

SO | 22. August 2017

So what if the scientists have been wrong in the past? Error on the side of caution. Especially when we only have one habitable planet to live on. I guess people prefer to react rather than be proactive. Sad....and lazy.

Dramsey | 22. August 2017

Since SCCRENDO's actually someone with a scientific background, I'm surprised that _he's_ surprised. But since he asked...

Nobody's an "eclipse skeptic" because scientists have been accurately predicting eclipses for literally thousands of years-- since around the time of Ptolemy, 100AD or so, according to the Interwebz.

And I don't think I "know more" than climate scientists do about climate science. In fact, although I am scientifically trained, I know nothing about climate science. But you don't need training in the field to notice that when a scientist makes a prediction and that prediction fails to come true. And climate science has racked up a decades-long record of failed predictions.

The mystery, to me, isn't why so many people are climate skeptics. It's why more people aren't. One needs no expertise in climate science to note that snow in England had not become "a rare event" by 2010, as predicted in 2000 by East Anglia CRU senior research scientist Dr David Viner; that we haven't been inundated by "50 million climate refugees by the end of the decade", as the United Nations solemnly warned us in 2005, nor has the North polar ice cap vanished by now as Al Gore predicted. Et cetera so on and such forth.

Also, to Joe Sixpack, going back and "adjusting" historical temperature records, inevitably in a direction that increases the perceived warming trend, just seems skanky. And it looks very much as if the people who most loudly declaim that we must make immediate and drastic changes to our lifestyles to SAVE THE PLANET are the ones who don't actually believe what they're saying, given that their carbon footprints are dozens or hundreds of times larger than those of the people they're lecturing. (Admittedly this group consists primarily of former politicians and celebrities. But still. They make a lot of noise and get noticed.)

Note that here I'm not taking any stand on the question of man-made climate change per se. You asked why people believe in eclipse predictions but are skeptical about climate change. This is why.

SO | 22. August 2017

Because other people do it, we can do it. Got it.

sklancha | 22. August 2017

Solid science is solid science. Predicting the future is a lot more difficult, particularly when multiple variables are at play.

Scientist can prove beyond any doubt that drug A kills germ B. They then can predict that they can cure you of a germ B infection by giving you drug A.

-some people will be allergic
-comorbidities can alter outcome
-drug may not be able to reach the germ
-the patient might die, despite treatent

SCCRENDO | 22. August 2017

@Dramsey. You know the title was pure sarcasm.
Interesting how the anti science crowd totally misses the point. The science that predicts the exact path and time of an eclipse is the same as all other science. Climate change and vaccines are also peer reviewed. Our vaccine science is as predictive as eclipse science. We know there will be a small failure rate and side effect rate but cannot tell for sure in whom it will happen. Believe it or not climate science is not a world conspiracy but the same rigorous peer reviewed process. That AGW is real is as certain as eclipse prediction. How quickly it will happen and how much we need to reduce CO2 is the source for debate. Yes science is not perfect but the degree of perfection can only be judged by those who understand the science. The deniers will use a strawman that states if science is not 100% perfect every time it has to be wrong>

Should_I | 22. August 2017

But just a few years ago they weren't saying that the moon coming between the sun and Earth would make things brighter.

Just a few years ago they were saying man was causing an ice age..........

Predicting movement of celestial bodies is vastly more exact than making educated estimates of human pollution then guessing at the impact of said pollution. There are scientists who disagree with mainstream climate science, I have never heard a scientist claim the date or effect of an eclipse was predicted wrong.
We need to treat the planet better but claiming a guessing game is hard science doesn't convince people to do that.

Mike83 | 22. August 2017

If anything scientists are the most conservative and that is what scares me. They have underestimated the damages of the greenhouse effect. We are seeing more climate change, ocean acidification, animals and plants becoming extinct and moving to different altitudes, and so on.
I find the deniers may just want to avoid thinking and I actually don't blame them but please don't attach politics or religious beliefs to logic. It just ain't so.

mscott | 22. August 2017

Funny, as we were waiting for the eclipse to begin, I was telling my wife about my fear of the converse of this hypothesis. What if they screwed up the eclipse calculations and it didn't happen when or where they said it would? If that had happened, science in the United States would be DEAD, DONE, an EX-SCIENCE (to butcher some Monty Python). That wouldn't have meant that our underlying understanding of eclipses was wrong, just that the math got messed up. But can you imagine the reaction of Dramseys of the world then?

FFS, name one thing, just ONE thing that has done anything even 1/1,000th as much for humanity as has science. Language, writing, and agriculture paved the way, but w/o science, we would still live pretty much as we did 5,000 years ago. No thank you.

RedShift | 22. August 2017

Dramsey and the conservatives who like to not acknowledge that AGW is real, always talk about the lack of accuracy of the climate models.

Never mind the melting glaciers.
Never mind, in a closed system, increasing the amount of something harmful upsets the balance.
Never mind the overwhelming expert opinion that says we should take this problem very seriously.
Never mind, if we cannot Model weather perfectly, getting climate models to be PERFECT is probably very difficult if not impossible.
Never mind common sense and responsibility to future generations. That's all liberal hokum/hysteria/conspiracy.

No, they want 100% ironclad proof. They don't want Al Gore or anyone to PROFIT from this, only the fossil fuel barons are allowed profit/subsidies They want the arguments to be in the TONE they like.

They are like some grand potentates dictating we provide them with things they ask for, otherwise they will kindly point out that they aren't convinced.

No wonder a large number of these folks went for Trump. There is a certain mindset that is paranoid about 'liberal' agendas. That mind is at constant war with liberals. Always wants to 'win' the war against liberals. AGW is a liberal agenda to them.

There is NO POINT arguing with these folks. Waste of time.

SCCRENDO | 22. August 2017

@Should_I. Seriously. Glad you accept some science such as scientists can predict the exact path of an eclipse and the exact time. But if they cannot give you the exact date and time that the oceans will rise to a certain level and at what exact temperature it must be wrong???? The same science that predicts eclipses has predicted that man cause CO2 levels to rise. The higher the CO2 level the higher the global temperature and the more ice that will melt. The more land ice that melts the more the sea level will rise. And cities such as Miami will flood. What is wrong with the science and what is not to understand. The main question is Should I use my brain to understand these things or reflexly regurgitate the first thing that comes into my mind?

Mike83 | 23. August 2017

There are over 1,000,000,000 cars in the world each emitting 6 tons of carbon per year. 6 BILLION TONS of carbon dioxide each and every year. You think it doesn't AFFECT the atmosphere they you are fooling yourself.

Tesla-David | 23. August 2017

@RedShift +1, well said!

J.T. | 23. August 2017

@RedShift>>>>There is NO POINT arguing with these folks. Waste of time.

But that never seems to stop you. :-)

RedShift | 23. August 2017


Cant go cold turkey!

rgrant | 23. August 2017

@SCCRENDO - what shocked me was sea level rise just from volume expansion due to warming oceans! It doesn't even need ice caps melting for there to be catastrophic inundation.

SCCRENDO | 23. August 2017

@rgrant. It looks like warming oceans causing water expansion may account for half. At face value it seems surprising.I would have thought it would be more land ice melting. I will check other sources later.

PrimeTime | 23. August 2017

In 1715, Edmond Halley (he of the comet fame), a scientist, predicted the London solar eclipse. He was wrong in the timing of the onset by about four minutes. He was wrong about the location by about 20 miles.

As to predicting eclipses for thousands of years, yes, but not with today's accuracy. The point is the science is good and gets better and is fundamentally right. It is not wrong because it misses by 20 miles.

DTsea | 23. August 2017

SCCRENDO- this statement:

The science that predicts the exact path and time of an eclipse is the same as all other science.

Is obviously not true. Celestial mechanics in the few body case is very nearly deterministic- chaotic events only show up after millions of years, not thousands. Predicting the weather (not the climate) is highly chaotic, with predictions fading to noise after at most 5-10 days. The argument of climate science researches is that global climate trends are less chaotic than the weather (that seems reasonable) so they are making predictions about long term trends..... but the level of precision and reliability of those predictions is FAR less than celestial mechanics (which even on a non-computational, purely empirical basis have thousands of years of data).

SCCRENDO | 23. August 2017

@DTsea. I was referring to scientific principles. I understand that the science itself is different as regards Eclipses, climate change and vaccines. The point is that climate science is as rigorous as as all the other sciences in its appication. There are indeed a lot more variables. What is undeniable is that man made CO2 as a greenhouse gas is the major cause of global warming and climate change. What is subject to variability is the timing and actual temp change that would be detrimental to the planet. This is not an all or nothing but rather a continuum and the more the temp rise the worse the consequences. We definitely will need to adapt to some adverse consequences. The degree and the amount of variability is what is debated. These debatable points are what deniers use to claim that the all the science is poor. As a physician I make continual decisions that could be life or death on science that may be incomplete or even debatable. But we make these decisions based on our expertise and the best available scientific information available.

SCCRENDO | 23. August 2017

Scientists have now discovered volacanoes under Antartica. Climate change and melting ice may increase volcanic activity and increased volcanic activity will cause more ice to melt. This is preliminary but I bring this up to show you that conclusions on climate change are obtained scientifically. If climate change deniers would debate the science and the conclusions then we would call them sceptics and have some interesting debates. However they just deny the science and thus they are more accurately called deniers

Remnant | 24. August 2017

@Mike83 (August 23, 2017)

<< There are over 1,000,000,000 cars in the world each emitting 6 tons of carbon per year. 6 BILLION TONS of carbon dioxide each and every year. You think it doesn't AFFECT the atmosphere they you are fooling yourself. >>

Just a reminder that natural sources of CO2 are still predominant.

sklancha | 24. August 2017

Please just don't equate conservatism with AGW deniers. It is like equating Muslim faith with terrorist.

I am conservative, as are many of the [health science] researchers I work with, yet (using my best Forrest Gump accent): I may not be a smart man, JenNAY, but I know what science is.

And while I am feeling particularly ornery; )... even if a person isn't completely convinced that the experts and researchers know more than them- wouldn't it still make more sense to presume they are right until proven otherwise. The risk/benefit ratio...

SCCRENDO | 24. August 2017

@sklancha. I do have a tendency to do this so If I said it I apologize. One should never generalize. I agree with most of the liberal platform but there are aspects I disagree with as well. In this country denial is much more prevalent in the Republican Party and is part of their platform. Many of their congressmen are strong advocate deniers. Their reasoning may be financial related to the economy but it also relate to fossil fuel funding that they receive. I guess it would be the same as saying that all conservatives support Trump. So again I apologize.

SCCRENDO | 24. August 2017

Remnant. For once you are indeed correct that most CO2 comes from natural sources. But its disposal has been in balance for millennia. Although we only add relatively small amounts, this additional CO2 is not being taken away and builds up causing global warming through its Greenhouse effect.

DTsea | 24. August 2017

Sccrendo, rigorous and principled.... sure. But so is psycholigy.... yet predicting or modifying human behavior, effectively, is hit or miss at best.... the system is too chaotic (mathematically) to model effectively. I believe the earths climate system, similarly, is more complex by many orders of magnitude than the simulations used to estimate its future behavior.

Mike83 | 24. August 2017

The earth revolves around the sun and the earth is NOT the center of the universe. Copernicus and Galileo got in arguments with the religious groups who said, IT isn't so. NO.
Mixing up science and religion makes for a confusing life. Many people haven't grown up yet.
This is why deniers are so argumentative; its not based on reality.

SCCRENDO | 24. August 2017

@Dtsea. Indeed it is more complex. And that's why it would be dishonest to give an exact temp rise an exact date and time and exact location where climate change will impact. But the qualitative and semi-quantitative aspects of climate science predictions are reliable. As mentioned earlier. I didn't mean to create the perception that the quantitative aspects of climate science and eclipse prediction were totally equal. However the approach of deniers is to deny the science precisely because it cannot be as accurate as eclipse predictions. One needs to look at the individual aspects and grade them on the quality of the science. As in medicine. We understand cancer and understand how medications work against it but cannot give 100% guarantees that they will work and be side effect free. But we still use them.

darmiejr | 24. August 2017

I think there's a difference between a mathematician and a scientist.

SCCRENDO | 24. August 2017

@darmiejr. There is indeed. And they need to work together. Eclipse prediction does involve mathematics and science and so does climate science. The scientific experts in each field perform the scientific studies and the mathematicians then perform the calculations.

Mike83 | 24. August 2017

Well. If you can't understand that the pH is the negative log of the hydrogen ion concentration in moles per liter and that the pH of the ocean is DECREASING due to excess carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels than you don't know mathematics or science. Maybe scientists need to write in parables to get through.

sklancha | 24. August 2017

I actually like the eclipse parallel, and I think it fitswell despite the fact that their are way less variables to address.
Consider this:
Scientist can state as a fact, when and where a solar eclipse will take place [AGW is a fact]. Scientist can tell us which places will get it first, second, etc [order of effects of global warming]; scientists might recommend where we should go to see the total eclipse, based off the scientific data they have, but thunderstorms, wildfires, forest canopy, etc. etc. can prevent us from being able to see the eclipse [hard to think about global warming, freezing your socks off in a Wisconsin winter]...

DTsea | 25. August 2017

Sklancha, that isnt how science works.

DTsea | 25. August 2017

Oops, hit send too soon.

Facts are things that can be measured and have already happened or already exist.

What science does is take observed facts, and use them to build models and simulations and predictions. So when a scientist predicts an eclipse, he does that with a very high degree of probability of the right outcome, because we've made many projections of eclipses in the past and refined those models overtime.

When another scientist makes a prediction about the climate, the error band is much much broader because there have not been many successful predictions of the past (ie models not refined) and because the number of variables and the inherent complexity and chaotic nature of the physical problem is very very difficult to model precisely- it may be impossible to model it accurately because the system may be sensitively dependent on initial conditions- that's what chaos theory is.

sklancha | 26. August 2017

@DTsea you missed my point. I realize it is not an exact parallel, but the scientists in both groups start with proven facts, that are not in question- or at least shouldn't be.
If a 'denier' just accepts the existing scientific knowlege, and stops there, they should at least upgrade from denier to skeptic... which is a good start.

PrimeTime | 26. August 2017

Not all Republicans are deniers.

But, the fact that MOST deniers are Republicans is a clue.

Remnant | 26. August 2017

@sklancha (August 24, 2017)

<< AGW is a fact >>


AGW is just an aleatory, or conclusory, construct – a theory, at best – based on mathematical models of interactive climatic factors, a figment whose supporters like to pass around as real, or fact, because they love the Apocalyptic narratives and public money grants they can derive from it.

rxlawdude | 26. August 2017

While the carpet scrap attempts to use fancy words to obfuscate the total lack of credibility...

SCCRENDO | 26. August 2017

@sklancha. The flaw of our 2 party system is that it is a whole platform. In general when we vote we weigh up our priorities and decide what is more important to us. Pretty much nobody agrees with the whole platform of either party. Hillary was far too conservative for me but was my best choice. I am more aligned to Bernie but didn't think he was electable.

Climate change denial is an integral part of the Republican platform. As best as I can understand the Koch brothers give a fortune of money to Republican candidates and they believe that their success in getting elected requires the money and with it climate change denial. Republican also have been the big business company. It is in the interest of oil companies to suppress alternate fuels and even the car companies. They are trying to adapt to reality and producing EVs. However this has always been half hearted. We all have seen "who killed the EV." I have walked into a Nissan dealership to talk about a Leaf and immediately got redirected towards other Nissans.

Republicans now need to do some serious introspection. Their party has been hijacked by an uncouth racist barbarian. They need to weigh up whether it's time to renounce Trump or form a new party that is fiscally conservative but renounces all forms of bigotry and climate change denial.

On the terminology skeptic. I am a skeptic. Scientists are by definition skeptics because they are always questioning the science. The people who deny climate change are not skeptica they are all deniers to varying degrees. They either do not know or understand the data, or ignore the facts they dont like. To be a skeptic you have to understand the stand and evaluate it a critical manner.

sklancha | 26. August 2017

There is a huge difference between being a skeptic and being a denier. I agree with you, @SCCRENDO- A skeptic- one who understands the facts and evaluates it in a critical manner, adds value in the discussions, and helps keep scientific rigor in check.

What I don't understand about skeptics, is why many are against actions that are designed to decrease the carbon footprint of humans.

In medicine, we also have deniers and skeptics. The denier is more likely to refuse immunizations, antibiotics, chemotherapy, etc. The skeptic might question the doctor.. maybe get a second opinion, but is inclined to still take the advice of the experts...just in case they are right, especially if ignoring them has a catastrophic risk. How is it that skeptics of AGW are more inclined to behave like deniers?

BTW- are you sure that there are more Republican deniers than Democrat deniers? Considering there are far more democrats, it wouldn't be unreasonable for there to be just as many, I'd not more, Democrats (by count, not percentage) that are AGW deniers. In my professional realm, most people I've talked to- apolitical, Dems, and republicans- believe the science. In my hippy beach town, very few have an opinion one way or the other. In the last election, we voted in more republicans, but we also voted for solar and for industrial recycling measures. I also haven't been able to find a platform description that includes a specific stance- one way or the other- on global warming. ...and for my sake, I sure hope you are wrong.

SCCRENDO | 26. August 2017
J.T. | 27. August 2017

I don't know what label I'm going to have chained around my neck for this one, but if humans are the main contributing factor to climate change are there any models showing how a reduction in humans would slow or perhaps mitigate the problem entirely?

sklancha | 27. August 2017

@JT- I don't know if any models say that humans are the main contributing factor, but I believe just about all models show that human behaviors are contributing to the significant uptick. If we, theoretically, chose to ....eliminate... humans instead of decreasing our carbon footprint, we would probably need to start with the biggest culprits, i.e. cow chomping, Audio driving, Americans ;)

hophan331369 | 28. August 2017

[url= how the anti science crowd totally misses the point.

Remnant | 28. August 2017

@hophan331369 (August 28, 2017)

<< how the anti science crowd totally misses the point. >>

By "anti science crowd" you mean the AGW bigots/liars/worshipers, don't you.

Hope so, because otherwise, you might just be missing the point.

SCCRENDO | 28. August 2017

@Remnant. How things going? Read any good picture books or comics lately??