Saturday, 31 December 2016

NO SCIENTIST SHOULD BELIEVE THAT COMPLICATED MODELS CAN PREDICT THE FUTURE

This article poses the idea that  no scientist really believes that complicated models with lots of variables can reliably predict the future. It goes on to suggest that no non-scientist can evaluate the claims of climate science because BOTH sides look 100% convincing to the under-informed. In a detailed argument the writer's  assessment is that a bright, well-informed non-scientist has no realistic chance of reaching an independent opinion on climate change that is better than a guess.

I can see where he is coming from, but what is his definition of a non-scientist? Does he mean someone with no scientific understanding at all, or does he mean someone who is not a climate scientist? I could go further than the writer and say that even an expert climate scientist is guessing when he makes claims about the future because the known science to make such predictions simply does not exist, as the writer himself states at the beginning when he states "no scientist really believes that complicated models with lots of variables can reliably predict the future".

Of course we make lots of decisions based on guesswork, though to make it sound more respectable we don't use that word, preferring to use "balance of probabilities", or "best estimate", etc. to give an illusion of greater knowledge. In the end if that is all we've got then we have no choice, as decisions have to be made. Even deciding to do nothing is a decision, and often it is the best decision as it is the least expensive.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Judith Curry explains why, here...
https://judithcurry.com/2011/02/10/spatio-temporal-chaos/

There isn't even a theory to base calculations on, let alone any methods for finding solutions.

Derek Tipp said...

Hi Anonymous. Thanks for the link, but I fear it is beyond the grasp of most readers (including me!), but it does give an idea of the enormity of the task of understanding the climate.