Friday, September 16, 2011

PolyMath or Pretender

I like to read the New York Times articles by Paul Krugman: though pretentious, they are usually good for a few laughs. You see, Krugman is a Nobel Prize winner in Economics who yet adheres to Keynesianism, an outmoded and generally discredited economic theory. Although it has been clearly shown that Keynesian government “investment” actually prolonged the Great Depression, and that his theory utterly failed to explain Jimmy Carter’s stagflation, Krugman still clings to his childish belief that yet another “stimulus” is just what we need to cure the Obama recession.

Occasionally Krugman goes off the reservation and tries to display his scientific acumen. He is, after all, the guy who wrote an essay on the computation of interest rates on goods in transit near the speed of light. I kid you not. (See “Sixty-seven, and Smarter than Paul Krugman,” palosverdesblog, 5/5/09.) In his recent Times piece, “Republicans Against Science” (8/28/11), Krugman criticized Rick Perry for this “vile” statement: “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. And I think we are seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.” Yep, Krugman called that “vile.” Let us see if Mr. Krugman knows what he is talking about, or is he just a pretender.

What makes a scientific theory? Let me use an example to illustrate the concept. If I say that things fall down, that is true, but is not a scientific theory. If I add that things fall down because the Earth attracts them that is a hypothesis, still not a theory. If say that all the planets move in orbits because the Sun attracts them, that generalization is still less than a theory. When, however, I say that the force of attraction between the planets and the sun is proportional to the product of the masses and inversely as the square of the distance between them, then I am able to calculate the motion of the planets for comparison (and prediction). Now I have a scientific theory.

Thus a scientific theory is more than an idea. It must be descriptive, quantitative, predictive and testable. Thus, it must also be falsifiable. Newton’s gravity meets all these criteria. As an exercise for the reader, ask yourself if evolution does the same. Treat microevolution (Lamarck, c1800, which predates Darwin) and macroevolution (Darwin’s big idea) separately. Here I’ll put global warming “science” to the test.

The central premise of global warming theory is that man-made carbon dioxide emissions have been trapping heat in the earth's atmosphere and warming the earth. Since the beginning of the industrial age, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been increasing inexorably, from about 280 ppm in 1800 to 390 ppm today, an increase of 39%. Yet during that time the average global temperature has gone up and down. And during the Medieval Warming (900 -1300AD), before the advent of the industrial age, the global temperature was comparable to today.
Even overlooking the obvious fact that to base your science on one variable – actually a small proportion of one variable – is not science, the evidence does not even support the idea. Indeed, the global warming “science” - based on computer models - fails the criteria of a scientific theory. In the memorable words of physicist Wolfgang Pauli, it is “not even wrong.”

As for pseudo-polymath Paul Krugman, his theme song should be
“Yes, I’m the great pretender…”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article! I wish you were a CNN reporter, it would be refreshing to have them report facts (like you have done)
instead of quoting pretend science. Miss you!

love in Jesus,

3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a Pretender and a real jerk! Obviously, not a favorite of mine.....


3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indications are that we are in a dreaded liquidity trap—corporations have money but won’t invest, consumers won’t spend, interest rate is negative considering that banks charge corporations to park funds, as they have no borrowers. What to do!?


3:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your essay. I would like to suggest that you read "Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming" by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. M. Conway.

Brian Bailey

3:16 PM  
Blogger Bill Lama said...

Hi Brian,
Thanks for your feedback. I have ordered "Merchants of Doubt" from the library and look forward to reading it. May I suggest a book to you: "Scared to Death" by Christopher Booker and Richard North. The record of government identifying risks and supplying counter-measures is not good.

As for global warming, most of my information comes from scientists and from examination of the data. I am not convinced that CO2 is the driver, that humans are causing warming, that it will continue for long or that it will be catastrophic even if it does continue. Most of all, I am absolutely convinced that there is not a darn thing that the developed world can do about it. The CO2 emissions from China, India and the rest of the third world will dwarf emissions from the US and Europe for decades to come.


3:17 PM  

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