Thursday, November 8, 2012

Strange Reactions


There's a certain dietary supplement that my doctor advised me to take, to correct a certain medical issue. I know very little about this area, but some quick Googling revealed that there are some medical experts who believe this supplement to be entirely unhelpful, and possibly even harmful. I've even heard that some medical scientists, who stressed the importance of this supplement, had been bought off by a drug company.

Still, the overwhelming majority of medical experts - the people to whom I entrust my life - clearly believe it to be helpful. Now, it's certainly possible that they are all mistaken - working under a mistaken paradigm, or something like that. But it seems to me that most sensible thing to do would still be to follow the overwhelming majority of opinions in medical science, which rate this supplement as beneficial and important. Sure, there may be some advocates who were bought off or committed scientific fraud or whatever, but it seems highly unlikely that all the advocates were. And yes, those advocating for it may all be operating under a mistaken paradigm, but then so too could be the case with its opponents. With me knowing next to nothing about this field, but having to make a decision, the most sensible approach is to go with the general consensus of medical experts. Since the scientific method, while imperfect and sometimes leading to mistaken conclusions, has demonstrated its validity on many occasions - putting man on the moon, curing many conditions, making countless predictions that prove correct - it makes sense to go with the consensus on this issue, too.

So far in this post, I would think that most people either agree with my reasoning, or are sympathetic to it. Sure, I know people who don't give their kids vaccinations, due to the one or two voices claiming that they are harmful. I know someone who believes that diet soda is part of a global conspiracy to test poisons, and claims that to be the reason why Obama doesn't drink it. But, in general, I think that most people operate in the same way. If you have to make a decision regarding a field that you know very little about, you follow the majority of experts in that field, barring some very special reason not to do so.

In light of this, the reaction to my post of Sunday is extraordinary. I mentioned that I don't think that there is any basis for attributing Hurricane Sandy entirely to climate change caused by man. I mentioned that I don't think that there is any basis for attributing Hurricane Sandy entirely to climate change caused by man. (Yes, I just wrote that sentence twice, because many people apparently didn't read it the first time.) I further wrote that it seems plausible - not certain, but plausible - that Sandy was exacerbated by changes to the environment caused by man. And that's when people went berserk.

I didn't allow all the comments to be posted, because several were written by people who were apparently so consumed with rage that they didn't notice the sentence on the comment form, written in bold capital letters, that ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE POSTED. But the comments were astonishing. First is that many people assumed that I was saying that the hurricane was caused by climate change, when in fact I specifically said that I didn't think it was caused by it; merely that it's plausible that it was exacerbated by it. Then is that many people insisted that I was not only incorrect for believing that man-made climate change is plausible; I was entirely unreasonable, even foolish, and demonstrating low IQ! One person accused me of "worshipping" scientists, and of demonstrating "sheer arrogance."

It's incredible. The exact same approach that I would use for assessing the medical benefits of a dietary supplement - that almost everyone would use - is considered here to be absolutely wrong, utterly foolish, and demonstrating theological and moral deficiencies!

It reminded me of certain aspects of the Great Torah-Science Controversy of 2004-5. Many people were up in arms over my acceptance of evolution. I was accused of "worshiping the gods of science." I was frequently accused of being ignorant of real science (!). I was accused of blinding myself to the atheist bias of scientists (apparently even the religious ones), and to the hoaxes and frauds that have been perpetrated by evolutionists.

One aspect of this that always puzzled me was, why did people care so much? Many of these people had no real interest in this topic, let alone expertise. It's not as though evolution poses any serious theological problems; certainly much less than are posed by kabbalah. True, evolution is untraditional, but then so too is much of charedi Judaism. And there are many more serious intellectual challenges to Judaism, which few people seem to care much about. Why do people care about evolution so much?

Eventually I realized that it has very little to do with either science or theology. Rather, it was about the social aspects. For various historical (but not theological) reasons, evolution has become the signature area of battle between religion and atheism. It's "us" versus "them." My own involvement led to even more emotional social struggle: Loyal Followers of The Gedolim, versus Jews who are Against The Gedolim. This battle wasn't about science or theology; it was about personal identity. No wonder emotions ran high.

I think that the same is true here. For many people, climate change is not simply another scientific issue, with advocates and detractors. Rather, it epitomizes the fundamental divide in society: religion vs. atheism, conservative vs. liberal, Republican versus Democrat. Why are many Americans with no interest in or knowledge of biology, such as Ann Coulter and Jonathan Rosenblum, so caught up in fighting evolution? Because it's identified with liberalism and Democrats. Likewise with climate change; anyone even hinting that they find it remotely plausible is supporting Them.

Perhaps I should have prefaced my post with the following fact: I am deeply upset that Obama was re-elected, for lots of reasons. Primarily is that to my mind, Iran is the single most important issue in the world. Obama is severely ineffectual on that front, which could lead to the greatest threat Israel has ever faced. See? I'm a Republican!

Of course, I don't expect that admission to really change anything. Nobody consciously admits that their thinking on this issue is centered around social identification. Human beings excel at believing that they have arrived at conclusions for rational reasons even if such is not the case.

At least, that's what modern science says. (Rav Elchonon Wasserman, too.)

(UPDATE: If you're looking to find some scientific arguments against climate change and evolution, reader Raffi Bilek wryly pointed me to a new book: "The Truth About Nonsense!" by Chawnaw Hershel Kahn. It promises to show "how pathetically easy it is to refute evolution, the Big Bang, an old planet, mutations, global warming and ozone depletion!" Plus, it "features new scientific theories; why do we get old, how crystals grow and the real speed of light! Don't miss the frauds! It's all such nonsense!" You can read a preview at this link and purchase the book here.)

65 comments:

  1. The floodgates have been opened!

    Now get ready for a torrent of comments by people too un-self-aware to entertain the main point of your post: that the beliefs they hold might have something to do with their social identity/affiliations...

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  2. So well said. In order to support their pre-conceived notions and ideological biases people get instant PhDs form Google University and then proceed to preach their gospel with the all the authority of a seasoned professional in the field. Ironically, when, most of the actual experts are far more humble about what they know.

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  3. 1) Interesting. I explicitly did not comment on that post precisely because I saw the sentence in which you state that it is plausible, rather than certain...

    I am skeptical that climate change caused Sandy but I don't think I could say that it is implausible. That's why I didn't comment.

    2) As for the subject of this post: Following the majority makes sense all else being equal. But not everything is equal. After one reads for a while and talks to enough people, one gets a certain sense of who to trust more.

    You're in academia. If you had to rely on someone for information, are you going to tell me that all academics are equal in your eyes? Don't you get a sense that certain academics are more careful and trustworthy than others?

    If your own father (or thesis adviser) held a minority opinion is his field of research, would you not be more likely to trust him?

    Unfortunately, when it comes to climate change and a whole bunch of other issues, there are ideological components to them, and a lot of us mistrust people because we suspect that ideology is influencing the scholarship or the interpretation of the scholarship.

    (Incidentally, and ironically, one of the reasons I liked "Mysterious Creatures" when I first read it is because I could see that you took the charedi objections seriously and dealt with them, unlike MO writers who generally dismiss them out of hand. Knowing that you had listened to the otehr side's objections and had responded made me trust you more.)

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  4. Yeah, that's more or less what I was saying in my last comment on the previous article.

    My apologies for not reading your initial statement more carefully; for some reason, in my mind, you had made a stronger linkage between AGW and Sandy than you actually did.

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  5. A difference between climate change denial and other ideologies of denial is that climate change gets harder and harder to deny as the years go by. The ice continues to melt, the seas continue rise, the heat waves get hotter and more frequent...

    I wonder what their denial will look like two decades from now.

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  6. "If you're looking for find some scientific arguments against climate change and evolution,"

    "To," not "for." We all make writing errors while knowing better. So if you were seriously criticizing over writing you would do well to check yourself.

    As for following always following the majority of doctors, it's not what most people feel should be done. You'll have better luck finding out from your doctor what the issue is and then making a decision. Your way involves no intellectual effort. Just follow the majority. Do you ask your doctor if you are being told what the majority of doctors say?

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  7. It's interesting you mention dietary supplements. Because it's so close to an issue in which we find so many scientists behaving badly-- nutrition. A big portion of the reason the scientists were behaving badly in this context is because since the 1970s, the government decided to tell its citizens how to eat. George McGovern held hearings on this and dictated the brand new "consensus" over the objections of the scientists on his committee.

    Take a look at Gary Taubes's book Good Calories Bad Calories or his article "What if it's all been a big fat lie." from the NYT. Better yet, the entertaining documentary Fat Head is available on Hulu. It's all there. On video and in documentary evidence.

    All of these sources go to show how our consensus on nutrition was reached. That consensus is that eating fat makes you fat and that we should base our diets or carbohydrates. This consensus was reached for poor reasons. I've been eating low carbohydrate and high fat for two solid years. All of the results promised in the above-mentioned sources came true. Just like Gary Taubes said they would.

    So, I have risked my health in believing the consensus wrong. And I was rewarded for it handsomely.

    I'm glad you mentioned nutrition to illustrate your point about consensus in science. But I think it only serves to illustrate my point about disbelieving the consensus on "climate change" for me.

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  8. You'll have better luck finding out from your doctor what the issue is and then making a decision.

    Nobody has the expertise to make properly informed decisions in all areas. I'm not a doctor. I'm also not a meteorologist.

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  9. ...A more important difference is that climate change carries moral responsibility. Our behavior has already brought "intense human suffering," and continuing this behavior will bring even deeper suffering.

    The opinion leaders who deny the problem are delaying the changes and preparations we urgently need to start making. History won't remember them kindly for it.

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  10. Here's the irony that got people so upset. During the Great Slifkin Controvery (GSC) your opponents would attack your position by insisting that "all the great authorities" held like they did, leaving you to painstakingly point out that they were wrong and that lots of authorities held like you. It must have been very frustrating to deal with such statements that were clearly wrong.
    When you said "climate change caused by man" you unwittingly did exactly what your opponents do. Climate change, if it's happening, may or may not be due to human activities. By simply saying "caused by man" you took a position and the tone of the paragraph implied that is was the only position to take.
    That's what frustrated so many people.
    Now, what's the supplement?

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  11. The book excerpt to which you linked was painful to read. Even more painful is that it will probably be used in kiruv and to "set straight " questioning teens.

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  12. This battle wasn't about science or theology; it was about personal identity. No wonder emotions ran high.

    I think this is a crucial point. I recently wrote an article about why Orthodox communities Cover up sexual abuse in which I was going to include exactly this point about the evolution "debate", but decided not to mix the topics. But I think the mentality is very related. The topic itself is less the reason for the uproar; it's much more about the meaning the controversy holds for people's identity and self-esteem.

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  13. Ironically though, the basis for your statements about evolution is the scientific method, which uses the preponderance of the evidence to determine the veracity of a given theory. Scientific theories can be strong or weak based upon the amount of supporting evidence but the standard is not reasonable doubt, it is the preponderance of the evidence. The same sort of thing exists for climate change. The vast preponderance of the evidence suggests that man is responsible for at least part of the change in climate. Is there reasonable doubt as to that theory? Sure there is, but the preponderance of the evidence supports it.

    Thats why the vague statements you make are so off putting.

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  14. Rabbi -

    You and this post rock! However, I believe it is unfair to dislike Obama over Iran. He has united the Western World in backing some of the most severe sanctions against Iran. Why isn't this enough? Why would war be better/more effective/less problematic?

    Wasn't GW Bush far worse for the region, with a terribly destructive war that (1) completely destabilized and (2) gave Iran the UPPER HAND in the region?

    I believe that many Israelis just don't trust an American president who has Muslim ancestry, and this is shameful. Judge him regardless of his background or religion. I am proud to have voted for Obama on the strength of his character (a far more moral person than Bill Clinton, a "friend" of Israel) and of his moderate stance on a variety of social and economic issues.

    Also, the term "climate change" may distracts folks from the fact that humans do abuse and ruin this planet by burning fossil fuels and dumping mercury and other toxins into the air and water! Indeed, the existence of the entire modern industrial world is based on burning FFs! The question is: how long can the Earth continue to tolerate this abuse before it "spews" us out a la Leviticus?

    You write: "It's not as though evolution poses any serious theological problems" Oh, but it does! Evolution proposes a model of human development that is directly at odds with Genesis 1 and 2, where every creature is fully formed at creation, and humankind are created as humans without any intervening stages. Maybe your use of "theological" means something different, but it's very difficult to claim that Genesis 1 and 2 describe a fundamentally different reality than is explicitly stated in the verses.

    Kol Tuv,
    Michael Singer

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  15. Garnel: it's extremely important to know if current climate changes are caused by man or not. If it's caused by man, humans need to change their behavior to avoid bad consequences.

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  16. Dr. Ironheart,

    This what R. Slifkin wrote:

    "So now for the serious discussion. I don't think (as far as I can gather) that there is any basis for attributing Sandy entirely to climate change caused by man. However, the idea that it was exacerbated by changes to the environment caused by man seems entirely plausible. Furthermore, from a religious Jewish perspective, it seems perfectly reasonable and appropriate to draw such a conclusion (if there is adequate scientific basis)."

    This is exactly NOT the point you're making. Halevi the religious fanatics who attacked Rabbi Slifkin had been so equivocal. Alas, religious fanaticism leaves no room for such moderate language.

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  17. Menachem Lipkin:

    Bertrand Russell said it best:

    “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.”

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  18. The ideological issues with climate change affect both sides of the debate.

    1. Believers in AGW have a tendency to significantly over-attribute any extreme weather activity to climate change and conveniently ignore extended periods of normal weather (i.e. claims it's plausible that AGW contributed to Sandy, but no claims that it's plausible that AGW contributed to the overall calm 2006-2012 hurricane seasons).

    2.The personal behavior of the most public AGW activists (celebrities, politicians, NGO honchos) does not reflect the message they are preaching. Harping about driving a Prius and the need for shared sacrifice while owning large mansions and flying around the world in private jets (even/especially to global warming conferences) exudes faux concern. As Glenn Reynolds says, "I’ll believe it’s a crisis when the people who tell me it’s a crisis start acting like it’s a crisis."

    3. The bulk of the 'solutions' suggested by AGW activists are a jumbled mess of activist policies that reflect socialist, statist and other progressive goals more than a focused effort on reducing greenhouse emissions. AGW activists ignore simple, viable and incremental change supported by technological and economic reality in favour of pie-in-the-sky ideas and complicated government intervention. For example, most economists agree that a simple burner-tip-based carbon tax is the best way to drive greenhouse reductions but as this would be regressive, the AGW lobby has more or less rejected the idea in favour of complicated carbon credit schemes that allow for massive subsidies for special interests.

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  19. RNS, the problem was your hypocrisy, not your original post. Your entire fight against the rabbinic establishment is predicated on the fact that the majority is not the only ones that have a say, and that there are plenty of experts who take the rationalist position. That is precisely the same thing as the debate between climate believers and climate realists. Yet when this was pointed out, you claimed in response that science is one unified system of thought, but orthdox study of Torah is not - a patently absurd distinction.

    You love to wrtie satirical posts, in which you take someone's words on one topic, and apply them to another, in a way to make him look foolish. Believe me, it would be the easiest thing in the world to take your post above and do the exact same thing. Yet your personal negiah makes you incapable of apprehending what to most other people is blindingly obvious.

    To me, at least, and I have to presume others, that's what's so upsetting. If an intelligent person like yourself is so entrenched in his position that he can't perceive obvious problems, how on Earth will anyone not already pre-convinced buy into your rationalism argument. They will simply dismiss it the same way you dimiss your opponents. It makes your blog, which most of us rather like, quite quixotic, and makes one wonder what's the point of it all.

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  20. Natan Slifkin said...

    "Nobody has the expertise to make properly informed decisions in all areas. I'm not a doctor. I'm also not a meteorologist."

    Well I feel a doctor can dumb down things for us to make informed choices. Still your opinion did not appear out of nowhere. It is a widespread viewpoint. Live and be well.

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  21. Your entire fight against the rabbinic establishment is predicated on the fact that the majority is not the only ones that have a say, and that there are plenty of experts who take the rationalist position. That is precisely the same thing as the debate between climate believers and climate realists.

    No, it's not remotely the same, for multiple reasons. One is that those who accept climate change are not denying the right of others to believe differently!

    Yet when this was pointed out, you claimed in response that science is one unified system of thought, but orthdox study of Torah is not - a patently absurd distinction.

    No, it's a perfectly valid distinction. The difference between the rationalist and mystical approach to Torah is like the difference between Eastern and Western approaches to healing. Completely different epistemologies.

    I honestly don't see how your point makes any sense whatsoever. What are you claiming - that I say in science, one must follow the majority, but in Torah I do not? That's a ridiculous charge for multiple reasons. I don't say that in science one MUST follow the majority! Just that if one doesn't have an informed opinion, it's reasonable to do so. And in Torah, if one doesn't have an informed opinion, OR a personal mesorah/rebbe, it is certainly reasonable to likewise follow the majority. I myself happen to have an informed opinion in Torah/science issues, as well as a personal mesorah/rebbe, and furthermore the majority of experts in Torah/science do indeed agree with me!

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    1. "Those who accept climate change are not dennnying the right of those who don't to believe differently"

      Yes, they may believe differently but they will be scorned as "rabid republicans" (is that different from a plain republican?) Or an idiot that's in denial I guess, and oh yeah, we also have to pay for all the expenses associated with the political agenda that those who accept human-induced climate change attach to the utopian fixes they dream up. Not to mention the auto-shattering and poisonous light bulbs which save the planet since plain bulbs are illegal now. Thomas edison must be rolling in hs grave.

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  22. Rafi said "A difference between climate change denial and other ideologies of denial"
    In the spirit of R' Slifkin's essays, how about if we use the word "skepticism" instead of "denial"?

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  23. RNS, I will respond, but will leave any further reply to you, should you wish to do so. Surely we will henceforward just have to agree to disagree.

    That the climate changers dont deny the right of climate realists to think differently is a meaningless distinction. Theology is about belief, which is not germane to science. You may as well say that the mystics dont try to keep rationalists off university science faculties. The true question is whether the one side tolerates, or respects, the other as a legitimate viewpoint. And in both cases they do not, making the comparison apt indeed.

    Likewise your claim that the divide between rationalists and mystics is different than the divide in science. In science, one presumes, everyone starts with the same facts, and proceeds to interpret them differently. That is no different than mystics and rationalists, all of whom start from the same starting point - the Torah. In both disciplines - in all disciplines, in fact - the question of what evidence can be included, or what weight of authority do we ascribe to others, comes into play. There is no real difference between the two, such that you can mock climate realists for not following the majority, but turn around and say that in Torah its OK to do just that. It's a stark contradiction.

    Finally, no one accused of actually SAYING one MUST follow the majority in accepting global warming. But you implied here, and many other times, that anyone who doesnt is either a religious fanatic, or a "rabid republican." It never seems to occur to you that people can and do examine the evidence for themselves, and decide accordingly. For someone accused so often of heresy merely because he sees the facts differently than the majority, its infuriating that you cant seem to apply that lesson to the climate debate.

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  24. You may as well say that the mystics dont try to keep rationalists off university science faculties. The true question is whether the one side tolerates, or respects, the other as a legitimate viewpoint. And in both cases they do not, making the comparison apt indeed.

    This discussion started when you compared the banning of my books to climate change. Climate scientists, and myself, acknowledge that there are opposing views. These opposing views are not banned, as my books were.

    In both disciplines - in all disciplines, in fact - the question of what evidence can be included, or what weight of authority do we ascribe to others, comes into play. There is no real difference between the two, such that you can mock climate realists for not following the majority, but turn around and say that in Torah its OK to do just that

    You keep distorting my position. I don't mock climate skeptics for not following the majority. I criticize them for mocking those that do.

    And I repeat, the epistemologies are entirely different. There is only one Western scientific method. But when it comes to Torah, there are radically different epistemologies. Do we rely on reason or on tradition? Do we follow Rishonim or Gedolim?

    But you implied here, and many other times, that anyone who doesnt is either a religious fanatic, or a "rabid republican."

    I didn't use the word "fanatic" or "rabid." And I'm sure that there are SOME deniers of climate change whose position is genuinely based on their objective view of the evidence. But the vast majority of such people do so as part of their religious/Republican identity.

    It never seems to occur to you that people can and do examine the evidence for themselves, and decide accordingly.

    Sure they can - although again, just because they believe themselves to be making an objective, fully-informed analysis, doesn't mean that they are actually doing so. But again, my problem is not with people who deny climate-change. It's with people who think that it's stupid or arrogant to believe in it.

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  25. Pliny, you can call it skepticism if you want, and I'll still say that it's empirically wrong and morally irresponsible.

    “In the spirit of R' Slifkin's essays” — I'm not trying to personally attack those who won't believe that mankind is changing the climate. That group includes people I love and respect. But I am confident that their opinion is empirically wrong and morally irresponsible, and I am confident that history will judge it the same way.

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  26. > Climate scientists, and myself, acknowledge that there are opposing views.

    Actually, global warmers do worse. They define "credible scientist" as one that believes that global warming is a man-made phenomenon and then write off any scientists who disagree with them in one fell swoop. This allows them to say things like "All credible scientists agree..."

    You don't do that so don't lump yourself in with them.

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  27. Rabbi Slifkin,

    The problem is, most people are not trained to think.

    It's now universally accepted that smoking is dangerous to one's health. But for decades, the tobacco industry funded studies that showed "no conclusive evidence" that smoking was dangerous.

    Sure, there are individuals who smoked 2 packs a day, and lived to 100. And there are people who work out 4 times a week, and drop dead of a ehart attack at 43.

    Similarly with climate change.

    The polar ice caps ARE melting. The average temperatures ARE rising. But most people think if we have a cold winter, that it "disproves" global warming.

    And the oil companies - just like the tobacco companies before them - will fund studies that, surprise, surprise find "no conclusive evidence" that carbon emissions are a cause.

    And if you think Phillip Morris has deep pockets, it's chump change compared to Exxon Mobil!

    Ezra

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  28. After reading that the beginning of the link I worked out why you put it up because it is so patently and obviously full of nonsense and distortions but which may convince a reader who has no knowledge of the subject at all.

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  29. Thank you, Rav Slifkin,

    I am so grateful for your views, as they so often mirror mine.

    I'd like to point out additionally that as a person who tries to raise consciousness about the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism to the West, Jews and Christians, and the degree to which the Muslim Brotherhood has made great inroads in this country politically and with the administration, it is personally dismaying to me that quite a few prominent Islamists -- Egyptian Imams and others -- have similarly claimed to KNOW that Hurricane Sandy was the punishment for Americans dissing islam or allowing homosexuality, etc.

    The similarity between the Islamists' pronouncements and those of some in the Chareidi community to divine the causes are uncomfortable for me.

    Some Christian fundamentalist ministers got burned on these type of issues in the press a number of years ago for similar pronouncements for a number of natural catastrophes several years ago and since have become much more circumspect.

    I think H' has ample reasons to be upset with us and cause destruction, but not taking care of the earth He gave us and changing its natural conditions so that storms naturally take a particular course isn't really all that debatable or irreconcilable.

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  30. I find it very plausible that this hurricane was due to warming, with rising water temperatures enabling storms to feed off the energy of warmer waters into higher latitudes. And we should expect that this will happen more frequently, as these

    Further, as a person who tries to raise the consciousness of the dangers of Islamization to the West, Jews and Christians, I try to be aware of what's happening in the Islamic world.

    Not too surprisingly, a number of prominent Imams claimed to know why the U.S. was being punished with this hurricane -- dissing Islam, allowing gay marriages, etc. A little unsettlingly familiar?

    I'm sure H' has ample reason to be angry with lots of things, but we can't overlook our actions -- e.g., our insatiable appetite for fossil fuel energy -- that causes changes in the natural world and think that there won't be any consequences from that either.

    Conservation of our vast array of resources, including clean air to breath, clean water to drink and a clean environment for all inhabitants of life that H' bestowed as a blessing on us should be a Conservative issue, and it is a folly and a shanda that most Conservatives have gone the opposite direction on this issue, in a knee-jerk fashion for the reasons R. Slifkin has said.

    Not only that, every time we use Arab and Iranian oil, we are 'fueling' our own demise with petrodollars for terrorism, Islamic studies departments at prestigious universities, Stealth Jihad, and more.

    Coal has great environmental and health costs. Nuclear plants make great targets for terrorism and no adequate places for disposal of spent rods now exist nor are planned.

    Clean, renewable energy SHOULD be a politically Conservative, Orthodox Jewish issue. We are stupidly denying the truly undeniable giving this to the liberals, instead of owning up to the problem at our own peril.

    Insurance actuary tables are taking into account the predicted sea rise and numerous other consequences of Global Climate Change, and to them, money is the bottom line.

    We are shooting ourselves in the foot by adopting an irresponsibly uninformed response to this reality, instead of embracing it for manifold reasons and going forward with it.

    Thank you, R. Slifkin.

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  31. Dietary supplements, hmmm. Ask someone that has diagnosed with cancer l"e whether they rely on majority of doctors. They turn over every last stone, consult with many doctors, and learn everything they can about the disease before coning to a decision on approach.

    As a rationalist, this leads me to conclude that someone following the majority of experts does not care enough to do their own due dillegence into the matter. Their strongest oppenants however presumably have done their dillegence if they are taking such a strong viewpoint.

    Other than that i agree with you on the plausibilty of man impacting climate (mostly because i don't care enough to do my own due dillegebce)

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  32. When I see a post titled 'Theology of Sandy' I expect a discussion of theology to follow. For example, Guide 3, 12 has a rational explanation of the theology of natural disasters. I don't understand the depth of that chapter and would think that people who read this site would bring it up an contribute to its understanding. Instead, a usual disappointment. Enough said.

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  33. What I see as being even more strange is.

    Why should anyone object to protecting the environment from becoming more polluted?

    Forget climate change and global warming if you will.

    What about our health?

    Who would want to breath toxic air and drink contaminated water?

    Is it not a statistical fact that as the more toxic the environment becomes the higher the cancer rate?
    E.g. look at the cancer rate in China with their zero environmental regulations policy.

    Or is it believed that the decline in our health is a natural trend, and there is nothing we can do about it regardless?
    o

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  34. I've many comments, so hopefully I can be brief enough to say something here.

    First off, as you pointed out, the climate-change controversy is irrevocably tied up in right-vs-left politics. The environmental movement (for whatever reason) has aligned itself with socialist and even further left-wing groups, who use climate change as an excuse for promoting extreme left-wing policies that have nothing to do with the climate. Hence the reason why most "solutions" involve moving a lot of money around but without actually reducing anybody's emissions.

    A great book on this subject is Blue Planet In Green Shackles by Czech President Václav Klaus. It discusses this subject far better than I ever could.

    As for climate change itself, because of the political issues (not the least of which is that researchers who dispute the dogma find themselves unable to get any government funding - which creates a strong impetus to not even try to disagree) it is nearly impossible to find unbiased research. It's worth noting that the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report where the summary on the cover describes a conclusion that is not borne out by the body of the report. And when the contributing scientists objected, the IPCC refused to take their names off of the report. So not only don't we know what's going on, but we really have no clue how extensive this consensus might or might not be.

    As you might have guessed by now, I don't agree with the IPCC or others who believe in man-made global warming. The book that most clearly explains my opinion is Unstoppable Global Warming by S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery.

    In this book, the authors present very solid evidence that although there is currently a warming trend, it is part of a natural cycle with a period of approximately 1500 years (which is based on the convergence of several independent solar cycles.) This cycle's most recent low point was in the early 16th century (during what's known as the "little ice age" - a period that officially ended in about 1850 - the point which most climate-change supporters use for baseline temperatures.) The previous peak was in the 8th century - the peak of the so-called "medieval warming period" where the polar ice caps were almost non-existent and Vikings had vineyards and dairy farms on what is today known as Greenland. The warming trend we are currently in will continue until approximately the 22nd century, where it will slow and gradually become a cooling trend. Human activity has nothing to do with any of this, human activity is powerless to stop it. Instead of trashing the global economy trying to stop nature, we should be spending our limited resources working on ways to minimize climate change's impact on human civilization - a task which is far simpler and more cost effective than trying to prevent the climate from ever changing again.

    Of course, this opinion is not widely presented in either circle. Instead, you are asked to choose between "it's all humanity's fault and we have to fix it" and "the climate isn't changing". The third opinion of "it is happening but we can't do a thing about it" is lost in the noise. If you can't score political points, nobody cares what you think.

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  35. Shamino—

    So you would stake the climate of this planet on your belief that a couple of books you read are right, and that every major scientific organization in America with a position on the matter (e.g., NAS, NASA, AGU, AMS) is wrong?

    I don’t think I have much chance of convincing you, but I want future generations to know that I voiced my view as clearly as I could:

    The belief that humanity is not responsible for global warming is empirically wrong and morally irresponsible.

    The fact that this issue has been polarized along liberal/conservative lines is bad news for conservatives’ credibility. They will lose the debate as the planet keeps getting warmer. That's partly why I feel a need to speak up about it as an Orthodox Jew, given the hillul ha-Shem I perceive when global warming skepticism is heard from our community.

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  36. sure climate change caused sandy...
    we call it weather!

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  37. The late historian Harris Coulter once wrote that it seemed to be a law of medicine that has held true for centuries that medical authors consider that medicine became truly scientific at around the time they received their medical training.

    Apropos of nothing, a former patient of mine, who is something of a kochleffel, asked her mother's orthopedic surgeon if there was any dietary and supplement regimen that her mother should follow in the months leading up to her knee replacement, to be told that if there were anything like that he would have learned about it in medical school.

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  38. I think to a great degree the Jewish debate on both evolution and climate control is virtually identical to the same among gentiles. ie. "Give me that old time religion" from Inherit the Wind.

    This fact strengthens your overall point: it's not really a Jewish issue per se. We just can't get caught being less frum than religious goyim. Same goes (and I digress) for abortion. If the Catholics forbid it, then kal vachomer we must and to the same degree.

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  39. >"So you would stake the climate of this planet on your belief that a couple of books you read are right, and that every major scientific organization in America with a position on the matter (e.g., NAS, NASA, AGU, AMS) is wrong?"

    You've obviously read nothing of any of the discussion on the past two comment threads, let alone any of the literature on the subject. Either that, or nothing has penetrated. To reiterate for the thousandth time - it is well more than a few books who dont believe climate change, it is thousands of scientists. And they are just beginning to emerge, as they come to realize that more and more of them dont beleive it, and they give each other courage to dissent from what they were told was "settled" science. These include scientists within the organizations you mentioned, as someone already pointed out, as well as without. It also includes millions of well-educated laymen, who may not be profesional scientists in this field but who are FULLY capbale of examining competing claims and judging for themselves. So get over yourself. We can't predict the future, but given the history of how fads in science always play out, in a few decades you will look as silly as the Newsweek cover from 4/28/75 predicting "The Coming Ice Age". Just so you can see how wrong scientists were back then, and how the global warming science today completely contadicts what they said then, here are some excepts from the story:

    There are ominous signs that the Earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production – with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth. The drop in food output could begin quite soon, perhaps only 10 years from now. . . .

    To scientists, these seemingly disparate incidents represent the advance signs of fundamental changes in the world’s weather. The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. . . .


    (Needless to say, food production actually tripled in the 80s. So much for climate change.)

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  40. To the person whose comment is still not appearing: You are still posting anonymously! Also, perhaps you could explain exactly why my approach to climate change reflects "sheer arrogance."

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  41. Motive vs. Motive = profit.

    There are two strong opposing side to this issue.

    But, What may we ask are these motives ?

    On one side you have people concerned with the health of the planet at any COST.

    On the other side you have those who are concerned only with the COST for a healthy planet.

    The profit of the side in opposition is self evident, for it means not investing money for something they care less about.

    On the other hand. What profit is there for 97% of prominent scientists to jeopardize their reputations with false claims, if it were the case ?
    o

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  42. "To reiterate for the thousandth time - it is well more than a few books who dont believe climate change, it is thousands of scientists. "

    No, it's not. Unless you mean scientists who are not in the field - in which case their being scientists is not relevant.

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  43. Rabbi Slifkin;

    That is not correct. A good part of the climate change argument is statistical , and statisticians are the ones who have seriously challenged the majority view.

    Stephen McIntyre is a Canadian ,a former mining engineer. He also has a very solid math background , and was disturbed by the `hockey stick` look of one of the graphs-he found it looked too much like a sales pitch ( He is Canadian, after all) , too smooth. He ,together with Ross McKitrick wrote papers taking on the global warming view .

    I`m inclined to believe that the world is warming, but it`s awfully hard to prove anything without putting the globe in a control group and controlled input-not likely. My point is that since the argument is mathematical, people with a solid math and historical grounding can have something valid to say.

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  44. I am struck by the confidence with which some opinions here are offered. Perhaps the expert readership of this blog can next turn to illuminating discussions of multiple universes or the nature of time.

    First, request bloggers refrain from use of “denial” or “deniers” as terms describing those whose scientific assessment does not reflect the claimed “consensus” . it is a characterization that evokes holocaust “denial” or similar off-the-wall and always disreputable crankiness. In truth, many scientists dissent from this consensus, scientists of unquestioned professional competence, integrity and a deep technical grasp of the issues at play. Some of them number amongst the most elite scientists in the world. They are not “deniers”, and it is wildly inappropriate for lay bloggers here to treat those with such implied contempt. Kind of like the local chess patzer airily dismissing a pawn move by gary kasparov on a complex game board.

    Herr Snoobler said.....The vast preponderance of the evidence suggests that man is responsible for at least part of the change in climate. ..

    Really? The vast preponderance of evidence? You are familiar with the “preponderance” and know it’s vast? You understand the - I guess it must be – insignificance of no temperature increase at all the past decade as CO2 continued to increase? You understand how the machloqes re positive or negative feedback is now settled science? Do copy me when you email Dyson, Lindzen, Happer...

    Rafi said...But I am confident that their opinion is empirically wrong and morally irresponsible.. ,I don’t think I have much chance of convincing you, but I want future generations to know that I voiced my view . ... They will lose the debate as the planet keeps getting warmer.

    one trouble is the planet is NOT getting warmer, at least it hasn’t for, by now, more than a decade. (and that too is the “consensus”) So from whence comes such morally righteous “confidence”? off-putting enough when scientists descend to the apodictic form of argumentation, but from lay blog commentators..?

    As for the moral dimension – is it really so self-evidently “moral” to divert, ultimately, trillions of dollars from economic growth and fighting poverty and disease for imperfectly understood technological fixes of doubtful efficacy and continuously changing goals?

    R. Slifkin: No, it's not remotely the same, for multiple reasons. One is that those who accept climate change are not denying the right of others to believe differently!

    Alas, even that is not true. No one who has read even a sampling of the climategate email trove of scientists behaving badly and mounting campaigns against the unbelievers could possibly endorse R. Slifkin’s idealized/naive(?) view here. Academicians up for tenure or employment have felt the heat (groan). Peer review has been compromised in numerous instances by a bias against publication etc.

    For the record – is the planet getting warmer? Possibly, although it certainly hasn’t for more than a decade and before that it went through a multi-decade cooling cycle even as CO2 continued to rise. The climate is always in flux and nobody, I mean NOBODY, with any scientific grasp ever disputed the fact that climate changes. But the correlation of major change with monotonic CO2 growth in the last century is tenuous (and is the only mechanism suggested for human activity playing a role), and over deep time – hundreds of millions of years – even worse.

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  45. It is unfortunate R. Slifkin provided a link to the work of that fellow who has taken it on himself to disprove all known science. It is an all but explicit invitation to ridicule some poor fool and seems pathetic. Kind of like making fun of people who are ill. Personally, I do not find the foolish “scientific” essays of R. Moshe Shternbuch or that R. Miller fellow from Canada to be much higher on the scale of respectability, but (happily) you haven’t invited issued snarkey invitations to ridicule them.

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  46. I quote

    "As for the moral dimension – is it really so self-evidently “moral” to divert, ultimately, trillions of dollars from economic growth and fighting poverty and disease for imperfectly understood technological fixes of doubtful efficacy and continuously changing goals?"

    I would love to know where, when, and by whom will this money, (trillions) if ever, be spent ?

    Furthermore, have you ever heard of the greenhouse effect ? And do you deny it's principals ?

    What about NASA, do you deny their scientific authority ?

    Here is a link to NASA's web site,

    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20120119/

    Where you will find the following article.

    "NASA Finds 2011 Ninth Warmest Year on Record"

    It starts off by saying.

    "The global average surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880, according to NASA scientists. The finding continues a trend in which nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000."
    (so much for your statement. "...one trouble is the planet is NOT getting warmer, at least it hasn’t for, by now, more than a decade.")

    For anyone to deny all this is not to be called a denier, then what are they to be called ?
    o

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  47. I didnt follow the link, but dont need to. Do we lack for fools? There are blockheads on both sides of the debate.

    Seems to me these last few blog posts are an excellent case study demonstrating how darn near impossible it is for one to suddenly shift one's paradigms. I should not (above) have expected RNS to see - at this time - the obvious similarity between his own rational/mystic issues and the believers/skeptics in the global warming issue. All I can ask is that you broaden your horizons. You may well still end up believing that man is causing global warming, but you will at least realize the debate is a lot more robust than you seem to think.

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  48. I quote Isaac: "what about NASA, do you deny their scientific authority?"

    Now I quote the Washington Examiner:

    In an unprecedented slap at NASA’s endorsement of global warming science, nearly 50 former astronauts and scientists–including the ex-boss of the Johnson Space Center–claim the agency is on the wrong side of science and must change course or ruin the reputation of the world’s top space agency. . . .

    “With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from (NASA’s) Goddard Institute for Space Studies leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled,” they wrote.

    Let me just add, that I was a member of the American Bar Association, and they habitually made statements me and countless other lawyers disagreed with. People in many government agencies I work with professionally have told me in confidence that they disagree with statements their agency heads have made. Heck, people in the Agudah will tell you privately they sometimes differ with their own Moetzes. So dont tell me that NASA, or any other agency, private or public, speaks for all of their employees. An official statement represents only the official view of the handful of guys on top

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  49. Regarding Mechy's first comment:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/stagnating-temperatures-climatologists-baffled-by-global-warming-time-out-a-662092.html

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  50. RNS - I don't necessarily disagree with your analysis but the analogy is somewhat imperfect as you neglected to posit that the medicine referred to is prohibitively expense, negatively impacts other parts of your body and that so long as other people around you aren't taking the same medicine for the same condition (and they aren't and they're a rapidly increasing percentage of the population), your taking the medicine will not really help you.

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  51. Isaac said...
    I quote "As for the moral dimension – is it really so self-evidently “moral” to divert, ultimately, trillions of dollars from economic growth and fighting poverty and disease for imperfectly understood technological fixes of doubtful efficacy and continuously changing goals?" I would love to know where, when, and by whom will this money, (trillions) if ever, be spent ?

    That seems to be a lot you wish to know. Perhaps before entering a debate you might trouble to learn a little of a subject about which you hold passionate views. But the short answer to your question is that trillions of dollars is the estimate of macroeconomic models that have looked at the issue. Thus, referring only to the full cost of implementing the – universally agreed to be ineffective – Kyoto protocols, a prominent Yale model predicts the US would bear an economic cost of almost $6 trillion. (see e.g. http://nordhaus.econ.yale.edu/kyoto_long_2005.pdf) And oy vavoy the much larger cost for carbon reduction to levels they assume would be effective. (note. The economic models are all predicated on the notion that “it’s the CO2, stupid”. And of course that is the heart of the scientific dispute. But this is economics, not physical science).

    Isaac: Furthermore, have you ever heard of the greenhouse effect ? And do you deny it's principals ?

    Ah, the greenhouse effect. Don’t know how I missed that. Thanks for reminding me. Now that you mention it, it does seem to twang a faint memory chord from my checkered educational past, and I don't deny its principles (the principal is your pal-also from my checkered edu past). Speaking more seriously, the problem of course is that way more is going on here than just a greenhouse effect in isolation. Otherwise temperatures would always continue to rise with increased greenhouse gas loading. But since this is demonstrably untrue (see e.g. 1940-1970, 1998-2012. Not to mention 450 Million B.C.E, and 150 Million B.C.E), ergo other stuff happens.

    Isaac: What about NASA, do you deny their scientific authority ?

    This might have been the point where I would lecture you on the role of “authority” in scientific discussions. But let it suffice to say p’soq halochoh may appeal to authority, science may not (or at least should not). But we are not now having a scientific discussion, and one of us might be incapable of participating in one.

    Isaac: Here is a link to NASA's web site, http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20120119/ Where you will find the following article. "NASA Finds 2011 Ninth Warmest Year on Record"
    It starts off by saying. "The global average surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880, according to NASA scientists. The finding continues a trend in which nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000."
    (so much for your statement. "...one trouble is the planet is NOT getting warmer, at least it hasn’t for, by now, more than a decade.")

    I do not mean to be unkind, but I suggest if you read the sentences more closely and apply your analytic faculties just a bit more carefully, you will realize that both the assertion in this NASA article and my own assertion about the lack of any temperature increase in more than a decade, are simultaneously compatible. Indeed, they’re both true.

    Isaac: For anyone to deny all this is not to be called a denier, then what are they to be called.

    Perhaps, in many instances at least, a highly competent professional scientist of unimpeachable scientific integrity?

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  52. R. Slifkin: "To reiterate for the thousandth time - it is well more than a few books who dont believe climate change, it is thousands of scientists. " No, it's not. Unless you mean scientists who are not in the field - in which case their being scientists is not relevant.

    You have now made this assertion in various forms a number of times. But you are wrong and making much too much about this. It is particularly egregious for you – also a non-professional – to parrot the line “their being scientists is not relevant”. Without deconstructing what it means to be “in the field” (what, some guy who goes around measuring old tree rings as avatars for lack of thermometers is “in the field” but a guy who publishes on radiative atmospheric turbulence or understands the art form of running large and complex rad-hydrocodes on non-climate systems is not?), many of the scientists who have expressed doubt about IPCC assessments do so out of a deep familiarity with the scientific method and the basic physics involved, an understanding of the compromises, extrapolations, and uncertainties associated with large scale numerical modeling of sub-grid phenomena, an understanding of what these codes include and much more importantly what they do not, the difficulty and sensitivity of capturing all sources, sinks and feedback mechanisms, and an awareness of contradictory data. Dismissal of the measured opinions of such seasoned professional as outside the club is rather a tactic of the sorts of scientists that produced the climategate oeuvre. Not a pretty sight and an issue you would be well advised to avoid joining, unless you have some reasonable basis for an independent opinion in a matter where machloqes persists.

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  53. I quote.
    "Now I quote the Washington Examiner:"
    &
    "In an unprecedented slap at NASA’s endorsement of global warming science, nearly 50 former astronauts and scientists–including the ex-boss of the Johnson Space Center–claim the agency is on the wrong side of science and must change course or ruin the reputation of the world’s top space agency. . . ."


    The Washington Examiner is a free daily newspaper and is distributed only in the Washington,D.C. metropolitan area.

    Free because no one will pay a single red cent for it is not truly news.

    The paper is owned by Philip Anschutz, and it is described as
    "a megaphone for Anschutz's right-wing views."
    It is as far right, and conservative as one can get. i.e. Very partisan, and partial.

    Forbes ranks Philip Anschutz as the 34th richest person in the U.S. with an estimated net worth of $7 billion as of October 2010.

    This means he can afford to say and publish almost anything he wants.

    Furthermore the article has one big problem besides it not being truthful, it does not list any of the names of the 50 former so called astronauts and scientists.

    One would think that listing their names would give the artical a great deal of credibility.

    Here is the link to the artical.

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/article/469366

    As you further investigate (being a fine and efficient lawer) you will discover the reason why their names were not listed, is that these signers are not scientists in this field if at all scientists. They may in fact had (pass tense) been employed by NASA, but not exactly as astronauts or scientists.

    NASA is 100% funded by the government, and being the government's makeup is of both Right and Left wingers, they have to be extremely careful to be as impartial as can be.

    With literally billions of dollars of funding at stake it is not worth it for NASA to destroy it's reputation.
    o

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  54. I quote.
    "Now I quote the Washington Examiner:"
    &
    "In an unprecedented slap at NASA’s endorsement of global warming science, nearly 50 former astronauts and scientists–including the ex-boss of the Johnson Space Center–claim the agency is on the wrong side of science and must change course or ruin the reputation of the world’s top space agency. . . ."

    The Washington Examiner is a free daily newspaper and is distributed only in the Washington,D.C. metropolitan area.

    Free because no one will pay a single red cent for it is not truly news.

    The paper is owned by Philip Anschutz, and it is described as
    "a megaphone for Anschutz's right-wing views."
    It is as far right, and conservative as one can get. i.e. Very partisan, and partial.

    Forbes ranks Philip Anschutz as the 34th richest person in the U.S. with an estimated net worth of $7 billion as of October 2010.

    This means he can afford to say and publish almost anything he wants.

    Furthermore the article has one big problem besides it being totally misleading, it does not list any of the names of the 50 former so called astronauts and scientists.

    One would think that listing their names would give the article a great deal of credibility.

    Here is the link to the article.

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/article/469366

    As you further investigate (being a fine and efficient lawyer) you will discover the reason why their names were not listed, is that these signers are not scientists in this field, if at all scientists. They may in fact had (past tense) been employed by NASA, but not exactly as astronauts or scientists.

    NASA is 100% funded by the government, and being the government's makeup is of both Right and Left wingers, they have to be extremely careful to be as impartial as can be.

    With literally billions of dollars of funding at stake it is not worth it for NASA to destroy it's reputation.
    o

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  55. Isaac - that's the best you can do??

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  56. DF, If my comment can not be debunk, then there is no need to do better.
    o

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  57. DF, What can be better then the truth ?
    o

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  58. I mean, instead of responding to the article, which pulls the rug right out from your already-dubious your "NASA says so!" "argument", all you can do is impugn the messenger?? Very weak. Besides, the same story was reported in scores of media outlets you would presumably accept as kosher. [Not the USA Today, because that's given away for free, a psul in your books. Come to think of it, the Wall Street Journal, which somehow we get for free too, must also be treif.] But I'm having fun. The point is, if you can't respond to the argument, dont resort to name-calling. Dude, dont be like that.

    Also note you didnt respond to Mechy Frankel's much more devestating points, which pretty much destroys everything you said. Sorry, buddy.

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  59. DF, If you are referring to the Washington Examiner and NASA as the messengers.
    Then they are the source and subject of the article.
    Which makes them legitimate targets, and open to criticism.
    As a lawyer you should be very well aware of this.

    Furthermore if you would have read my comment carefully you would have noticed I did address the article itself.

    As for name calling, I fail to see where I am guilty of this, (is Dude, and buddy considered name calling ? ) but if you are offended, maybe it is because you were proven wrong.
    When in a debate, one should prepare themselves for realizing that their truth may not be the real truth.

    USA Today, I fail to see why you mentioned them. They did not run the article on NASA ( at least I was not able to find it, Post the link, if you find it ) But they do have a very interesting article on "Carbon tax".
    It is a strong, and one of the main motives why most of the millionaires and billionaires want us to disbelieve and deny golbal warming.

    Here is the link to it.
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2012/11/14/global-warming-climate-change-carbon-tax/1704787/

    And here are some excerpts from the article as well.

    "A carbon tax works by making people pay more for using fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas that produce (atmospheric) heat-trapping carbon dioxide."

    ".....many in the Republican party deny the existence of man-made climate change, despite what scientists say."

    "Climate change worries have had a high profile in New York, post-hurricane. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had not planned to endorse a presidential candidate, changed his mind after Sandy struck, throwing his support to Obama and citing climate change as an issue."

    "Princeton University climate and political scientist Michael Oppenheimer likes the attention the issue has suddenly gotten, but isn't optimistic that a solution will be struck.
    Given the paralysis in U.S. politics, I really wonder if we're up to the challenge," Oppenheimer said. "And regrettably, it might take more than one Sandy to get people awake."

    This does not sound like the USA Today is denying the reality of global warming.

    And as for the Wall Street Journal. I have only this to say.

    It is owned by Rupert Murdoch who also owns the Fox News Channel.
    If you have not heard of Rupert Murdoch, of his Fox News, and of his political views then you haven't been around.

    Mechy Frankel, I see you are so strongly committed to your beliefs at this time in your life, whatever my response would be to you, would not convince you not one iota.

    97% of prominent scientists support the claim that climate change and global warming is a reality and to some degree caused by man.

    Ask yourselves one question, If 97 doctors tells someone they must follow a described remedy, and 3 doctors say otherwise, who's advice would you trust ?
    o

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  60. Mechy Frankel, I see you are so strongly committed to your beliefs at this time in your life, whatever my response would be to you, would not convince you not one iota.
    97% of prominent scientists support the claim that climate change and global warming is a reality and to some degree caused by man.
    Ask yourselves one question, If 97 doctors tells someone they must follow a described remedy, and 3 doctors say otherwise, who's advice would you trust ?
    o

    Look, spouting this kind of nonsense simply leaves a bad impression of you, and the juvenile psychologizing a bad taste. My advice, get an education and never debate people who actually know something about a subject when you don't. Meanwhile, continuing this interaction is undignified. Good luck with that education thing.

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  61. Mechy Frankel, Very interesting advice you have given.
    So where would you recommend I go for this education you say I should seek.

    Would you recommend I go to the same University where you received your education ?
    And where may that be ?

    Why not share it with everyone, so we all can benefit.
    Thank You.
    o

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  62. ...the most sensible approach is to go with the general consensus of medical experts.

    There is a slight problem problem with explosive questions like the cause of climate change. The politics spreads to the core of discussion and then determining who are the experts becomes impossible. Ideally you would find a group of unbiased people knowledgeable in the field who are not vested in an outcome and able to conduct a rational discussion on the subject in question (e.g. in scientific journals etc.)

    I believe such people do exist, but in a heated issue like this it is impossible for me to clean the data, find a "clean" set of experts and poll their opinion without investing significant time into researching the people around the issue, a task much less pleasant (to most people) than studying the science itself.

    In a thoroughly politicized scientific issue, once the government (or some parts or members of it) take a preference, all later findings are tainted because the government ultimately pays for most of the research.

    Actually, unsettled medical questions often have similar problems with bias and conflict of interest among the "experts", but since the politicians are not as deeply involved, in most cases it is still possible to discern who stands to gain and pays for the research. Besides, in medicine it is not the government who pays for most research, at least in the United States.

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  63. I find R' Natan's viewpoint most reasonable, and note that the comments largely confirm his thesis about emotional, poorly informed reactions. I am disappointed that a knowledgeable scientist like Mechy (who, by the way, does have credentials as a retired senior gov't physicist who has worked on large computer codes for the Dept. of Defense) has seen fit to weigh in on this issue with a one-sided approach. That is his privilege, but, still, disappointing. None of us, including Mechy - I believe, can truly claim expertise on the matter of climate change.

    My own view, is similar to R' Natan's, but with additional supporting evidence. I don't wish to argue the point about global surface temperature data this last decade showing or not showing a systematic increase. I would observe only that a surrogate and integrated approach to this subject can be found in more easily obtained data on sea-level rise. such rise, which has occurred linearly in the past decade (2 inches based on tidal measurements and sattelite data) is due primarily to an overall and steady increase in ocean temperature during that period (the other factor is runoff from melting sea shelves and glaciers, which is also an indication of a surface temperature increase). While this decadal sea level rise is very modest, there is an important positive feedback mechanism to increase its magnitude in the future. Already we see an instability in the huge West Antarctic ice sheet which is melting and moving seaward in an alarming fashion (the huge Greenland ice sheet is moving similarly). Already we have seen large breakups of the adjoining sea shelve. While the 'calved' sea shelf doesn't directly contribute to sea-level rise (other than the introduction of lighter unsalty water into the sea), its breakup can only increase the seaward movement of the land based ice shelf into the Antarctic ocean which will raise those sea levels. A rise of that level by several inches may not be very disruptive (although Sandy may argue otherwise), but a rise of several meters will certainly be so (the increase that is expected to occur should the above ice sheet move out to sea). While projections as to when such an event could occur are quite uncertain, the argument that global surface temperatures are not increasing and that global warming and its consequences are largely imaginary are most unhelpful.

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