William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Crisis: Vatican Burns with Global Warming Enthusiasm (And Temperature Fiddling)

pova

Today’s post is at Crisis. The title the editor John Vella wrote is AUs—parsecs, even—above mine. His: “Vatican Burns with Global Warming Enthusiasm“. Mine? “The Church Burns To Jump Into Global Warming”. Yuck.

Worse than Yuck. Title writing is more art than skill. Skill can supply titles, but only art can make them sing. Putting strings of words together into readable sentences, as Your Host is doing at this very moment, isn’t the same. Titles are poetry, essays are—well of course they are—prose. Oh, the pic above is theirs, too.

My opening salvo:

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences had its one-day global warming conference yesterday. Not unlike a certain synod, it ended with the issuing of an anticlimactic pre-prepared climatic document “Climate Change and The Common Good: A Statement Of The Problem And The Demand For Transformative Solutions.”

Gist: we are soon doomed unless we “do something.”

I do two things: say why the Church might be involving itself in the politics and science of global warming and the religion of sustainability, and why the Pontifical Academy of Science really has no idea what that science is. They have some real whoppers in their summary document.

Go there to read the rest.

Fiddling

Many, many readers sent me the Telegraph article “Top scientists start to examine fiddled global warming figures: The Global Warming Policy Foundation has enlisted an international team of five distinguished scientists to carry out a full inquiry.” Thanks to all!

Article’s cute. And shows what I’ve said all along. That you must carry forward all uncertainty. They always present to us temperatures as if they come from on high, yet what we see are the result of models. And therefore must have plus-or-minuses attached. They never do. This is why we do not even know with any real certainty what’s happening (in many places), let alone that we’re doomed.

The problem does not only exist with temperature data, it exists everywhere statistics are used. We are condemned to this kind of rampant over-certainty because of the scourge of hypothesis testing, perhaps the worst practical philosophical invention of all time. Can you think of other candidates?

That’s a strong claim, but I can back it up, and have, and will. My book is now 221 pages and nearing completion. Stay tuned.

More on that another day. Meanwhile, add Crisis to your regular reading.

18 Comments

  1. Why did the Vatican even put on this “show?” Why not just release their statement that was prepared before the conference? The conference itself was nothing.

  2. Let us pray …

  3. “Can you think of other candidates?”

    Sure: Marxism, Astrology, Polling, …

    That Telegraph blurb had a lot of gosh-gee-who’d-have-thunk-it reporting about it. I believe, however, that the facts are far worse than you’d guess looking only at what’s been reported so far – that the source data has been relentlessly edited to cool the early part of the last century while warming the last quarter. This is why I don’t agree with your comments about the models being bunk because their predictions are so wrong – the models are somewhat simple minded, but cannot be said to be wrong until calibrated against correct data and then tested and that has not been done.

  4. … and my brother, who wrestles with the Church’s stance on gay marriage, will very likely embrace the Church’s stance on CAGW …

    Feelin’ a bit like Alex P Keaton, here

  5. I’m putting a comment, verbatim, from a blog where I noted there were no error bars on a graph that clearly should have had them:
    ““Un-adjusted” (actual thermometer readings) show the 1930s much warmer.”
    Here we see the ‘reasonableness’ of deniers: it’s always a conspiracy when they don’t like the numbers.
    oh…. and
    Error bars my pilonidal cyst-encrusted a**! None of you people in the denierosphere understand statistics at all.
    Error bars! Jesus H. Christ.”
    This pretty much says it all when it comes to the believers.

    My own comment
    Answer as to why the Church is doing this: Liberation theology rises from the dead? Plus, the current Pope was very big into social work, which by it’s very nature demands governments reapportion money to those who do not work from those who do. Perhaps one should not have gone with a person already predisposed to forcibly take money and redistribute. It really was not hard to see this coming. The current pope seems far more interested in people than in God. That’s kind of odd for a pope.

    I’m not sure I like the idea of attacking “fiddling” with temperatures. It would be more accurate to point out the database is complete garbage and we don’t have enough data to actually come to any conclusion. You can only duck tape a mess for so long, then you just have to start over and do it right.

  6. Sheri, with regard to Pope Francis, one might keep in mind the following.
    First, he is not as well educated or as knowledgeable as his predecessors, Benedict XVI and st. JP II. He knows only three languages, Spanish, Italian and Latin.
    Second, he is an Argentinean and has grown up in an environment where state control (Perons, etc.) is the usual thing.
    Third, he is a Jesuit and therefore does not follow a conservative line (witness “AMERICA”, the Jesuit publications which consistently endorses pro-choice liberal Democratic candidates, even though their positions are in opposition to Church doctrine).

  7. Bob …

    kinda forget that sorta thing…

    He “lived” Evita.

    That doesn’t explain the PAS, though

  8. Bob: That does explain in part why he does what he does, but it still does not help me understand how/why he was elected Pope. Those doing the electing had to know what his leanings were yet they chose to go with this person. In the past, it seemed that while a Pope made appearances, we heard often that said individual was locked away in hours of prayer. I haven’t heard of Pope Francis doing the same—he seems out there with people, not inside with God. I’m just trying to understand why this choice was made. I read somewhere that Pope Francis was rejected in the past when a new Pope was needed. If so, why accept him now? No better candidate? Or the church wanted a socialist Pope who would get out there and tell people wealth redistribution is morally correct? All of this is very confusing to me. I can go with people make mistakes and so does the church, but only if the church admits it was a bad choice. So far as I know, this has never happened.

  9. Sheri:

    We can’t REALLY TRULY know HOW a Pope is “elected”. In fact, I dare say the term “elected” is NOT properly used here (certainly NOT in the sense of a democracy or even a representative democracy, since it is the Cardinal representing the Church doing the “choosing”.

    And if the Church is to be believed, the Cardinals are NOT doing the “choosing”, it’s the Holy Spirit through the actions of the Cardinals.

    If you are familiar with Luke’s Acts of the Apostles, the Apostles felt that they should replace the “missing” Judas “chair” with another “12th Apostle”. They cast lots and chose “Matthias” by “casting lots”. The interesting thing is you never hear of Matthias again – at least in the NT scripture (I’ll grant that there may be extra-canonical mentions of Matthias and later PAUL comes on the scene claiming Apostleship.

  10. Sheri, the answer to your question, why was Francis elected Pope, is complicated. As Catholics we assume the Holy Spirit guides the assembled Cardinals to choose the right man. (Note: the Pope is infallible only when he pronounces officially, “ex cathedra”, on matters of dogma–faith and morals; such pronouncements do not necessarily include encyclicals, news conferences, etc. , although it is incumbent on every Catholic to examine his conscience in considering whether to follow such.)
    Now the election of a Pope is, despite the office he holds, very political. There are factions–conservative (doctrinally and liturgically) and liberal (ibid); conservative (socio-economically) and liberal (ibid); (the doctrinally conservative and socio-economically conservative overlap, but don’t coincide); geographic (Italian vs the rest of the world, European vs. the rest of the world, African, Asian, etc.), Indeed, in the recent conference on marriage and family the German and Low Country Cardinals–accounted a liberal faction–were strongly opposed by the African Cardinals–accounted a conservative faction. Pope Francis is considered to be doctrinally conservative (despite all that’s made of his news blips on homosexuals and gay marriage) and socio-economically liberal.
    So you can see the election can be quite a balancing act. The question of age also enters in; an elderly Pope can be elected as sort of a holding action to keep things going for a while if agreement can not be met on a younger candidate who does not meet with the approval of several factions.
    As you note, the story has it (and I’m not sure how anyone can be sure of this since violation of confidentiality in the election process is a cardinal sin–that was partially a pun!) that Bertoglio was second to Ratzinger in the last papal election. But he had this going for him: pastorally his record is impressive and as an administrator he reformed the Jesuits in Argentina. (It’s interesting to note however that seminary enrollments declined under his archbishopric.)
    If you’d like to read a fascinating novel that describes the electoral process I recommend “The Vicar of Christ” by Walter Murphy. The electoral process is described in detail–the elected Pope is an American, a Korean War hero, a former Supreme Court Chief Justice, who also assumes a papal name of Francis, and whose socio-economic principals are even more to the left than those of the current Pope.

  11. John (B) and Bob: Thank you for your answers. It helps me understand a little better. I hadn’t thought about the confidentiality aspect of the last Pope’s election—interesting if the information was leaked out. Maybe it’s just a rumor.

  12. Can you think of other candidates? (worst practical philosophical invention of all time)

    Well “hedon” must be in the running somewhere…

  13. You know the temperature calculations are junk when the AGW zealots calculate temperatures to a thousandth of a degree. When I was an undergraduate the engineering department gave us a paper explaining significant digits, precision and measurement error (accuracy). Electrical engineering components typically have tolerances of 10 percent or worse. If we had turned in calculation showing three digits behind the decimal point we would have been failed. I have seen platinum thermometers which can measure to a few hundredths of a degree but I don’t know of any thermometer which can measure to a thousandth of a degree. Maybe NIST has one.

  14. Sorry for the slightly off-topic post. But to clarify:

    *As Catholics*, per se, we need NOT “assume the Holy Spirit guides the assembled Cardinals to choose the right man” to be the Pope. As Catholics we are under NO obligation to assume anything of the kind.

    Leaving aside Pope Alexander VI (a Borgia, numerous mistresses, at least 4 acknowledged children), and various other popes who plainly were nonentities at best, and/or major sinners and/or were ‘elected’ by patently corrupt means, there is the rather more serious matter of Pope John 22nd. (NOT the Pope John 23rd of Vatican II. I’ve removed the tradition Roman numerals in their titles [XXII vs XXIII] to make the distinction between them more plain.)

    Pope John 22nd taught heresy. Heresy that virtually everyone else in the Catholic world recognized as heresy. While he was Pope:

    “At first there were only vague, disquieting rumors, but by the end of 1331 the theological world was rent by the certainty that the Head of the Church was really preaching against a Catholic teaching which had long been considered as practically of faith divine, the denial of which was tantamount to heresy. ”

    SOURCE

    Heck, Our Lord Himself chose St. Peter, who rather quickly managed to publicly deny Him three times.

    In a word: you will NOT find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or in any other authoritative source, that, as Catholics per se, we “assume the Holy Spirit guides the assembled Cardinals to choose the right man” to be the Pope.

    At best, that is a private pious hope.

    That’s enough from me within a post on Global Warming, I should think.

  15. JohnK

    definitely NOT off-topic (it may be presumptuous of me, but the Pope nor Catholicism is ever off topic at Briggs).

    In this case, the post IS about Global Warming AND the Pope.

    So questions about the papacy and how that works is appropos.

    My answer and Bob’s answer about the choice being of the spirit assumes a perfect world. Which it isn’t. There have been five Popes “elected” since I (and Sheri as well, I believe) was a child. I certainly don’t remember John XXIII, but remember John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis.

    Having been raised Catholic, I guess my radar was honed in on the process. Sheri’s apparently been interested only as late.

    You are more right than I am:
    http://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/Papal-Elections

    However, there are three forms of papal elections, one of which is by acclamation, and this form is akin to selection by the Holy Spirit:
    http://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/acclamation-in-papal-elections

  16. The Vatican’s business is god and they don’t know diddly about that they know even less about climate science.

  17. Based on our local bishop, you are not a true Catholic if you don’t obey the Chuch’s teaching completely; and the Church’s teaching authority is exercised by the Pope.

  18. JH, I guess, by your Bishop’s definition (and he, I believe, does hold unusual views) there are a lot of untrue Catholics, particularly amongst politicians.

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