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Discussion > Children's Science books

Raff, writing on behalf of "anyone else", I would suggest that climate science, and it's models are unreliable, rather than uncertain, and attempts to predict/project based on the models should therefore not be relied upon.

Obviously I have no mandate to write on behalf of "anyone else", but no politician or climate scientist has ever received a mandate from the population to enforce policies based on unreliable models either.

Climate science has proved catastrophic, for the damage it has caused. The weather around the world, has continued to be as (un)reliable and (un)predictable as it ever has, but 5-day weather forecasts are more accurate than they ever have been before. Their accuracy is now unprecedented.

Mar 24, 2016 at 1:04 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

How come Raff that when I read your question in your 10:43PM post I was first reminded of the devil's temptation of Christ?

However, we might be getting somewhere because I do recognize the magnitude of the concession you are making when proposing that the uncertainty of models be included. Would you perhaps also allow information about how extremely complex the topic being modelled is - perhaps comparing the task with predicting outcomes from global economic modelling or perhaps, more aptly, predicting plasma turbulence within fusion reactors; both tasks being conspicuously difficult and unsuccessful?

No I would not DESCRIBE possible outcomes, but I would include a sentence similar to your own that MENTIONS those outcomes.

So are we getting somewhere? Can we begin to agree, almost line by line?

To everyone else: come on in, the water's fine (so far).

Mar 24, 2016 at 6:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

Mr K, my respect for you just keep going up!

Mar 24, 2016 at 10:05 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Radical Rodent 10:05


(But I am not mandated to write on behalf of anyone else.)

Alan Kendall, the water is warming up a bit, just like it does every spring.

Mar 24, 2016 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Raff, it's been awhile, but I wouldn't presume to suggest you might be reassessing your position

golf Charlie, is the water temperature rise undergoing a pause?

Mar 30, 2016 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

So what would people want in a children's science text book? Here's what I would want.

1 Lots of illustrations and graphs to make data accessible.
2 Lots of facts - that is descriptions of unquestioned observations.
3 Lots of hypotheses that explain the observations.
4 Lots of questions - like a choose your own adventure book - where the reader is challenged to pick a hypothesis,
5 Lots of challenges to the choices (all the choices) that the reader is invested in defending against.
6 A section stating the current correct hypothesis.
7 A section where the reader is challenged to create a new hypothesis that fits the facts.

That should be fun. Because that is doing science.
That is practising the scientific method.

Mar 30, 2016 at 11:04 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

M Courtney 11:04

The world's leading Climate Scientists are not going to approve of your idea, and they seem very enthusiastic about controlling information.

Item 1 no information should be made available, in case the errors are found

Item 2 facts will only be allowed, if they can not be checked

Item 3 climate science is SETTLED. No alternative hypotheses are allowed

Item 4 no questions are allowed, on pain of death or life imprisonment

Item 5 challenges will be treated as questions, refer to Item 4

Item 6 refer to Item 3

Item 7 for heresy, refer to Item 4. Persistence WILL lead to death.

This is the way Climate Scientists will execute their duties, and opponents. It is known as 'Survival of the Fattest Salaries', is enshrined by UN IPCC Diktats, and does cost the Earth's population their lives and livelihoods.

Mar 31, 2016 at 2:22 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

M. Courtney, 11.04 pm. 30 Mar

Might I comment on some of your suggestions? I assume that you would want any commentary to be about a book's climate change content.

1) loads of illustrations yes, but would need to be careful about graphs and they would have to be fully explained. I would not use them at all for younger children
2) yes, and this should form the majority of the coverage.
3) not sure about this. Personally I would subsume this into your (4)
4) yes but accompanied by stimulating help in formulating the questions.
5) yes
6) NO, NO A THOUSAND TIMES NO. The "current correct hypothesis". No such thing, currently accepted science perhaps.
7) possibly too difficult at this stage.

May I also suggest that in future we differentiate between introductory books targeted at younger children (pre GCSE) from those used as GCSE or A-level textbooks.

Mar 31, 2016 at 8:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

Alan Kendall, I confess I was thinking of a book aimed at 11 to 14 year olds (before GCSE) where the facts are still new but the reasoning is there. At that age they can use graphs (hopefully). It is a good point that we are distracted by the difference between dinosaur picture books for 5 year olds and a popular science book that an adult could also enjoy (like this, for example).

I would distinguish between questions and hypotheses. "What does light look like on train travelling at the speed of light?" is a good question. It is not a hypothesis. Whether questions come before hypotheses is a matter of style. My plan was for the questions to lead into challenges. But that's just my taste.

You seem to take against my term "current correct hypothesis". Perhaps I used awkward language. Science is not settled - that is why it is "correct" only currently. I do think that the reader ought to know what the most commonly held conclusion is. My meaning was the "currently accepted science".

And as for creating new hypotheses? That's easy. Anyone can do it. They might be obviously flawed hypotheses but that's no reason not to ask the reader to try. Science is not a passive activity. It is creative.

Finally, thanks to you and Golf Charlie for responding. This thread has gone on for weeks with the original question getting more and more distant. This was my answer to the long lost main theme.

Mar 31, 2016 at 10:15 AM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

Good start, M Courtney!

'children' is too vague a term for a specific text - we'd need age groups and possibly aptitudes as well, but maybe that comes later.

I'd want to see upbeat stuff on the massive leaps forward we have made in monitoring climate and weather thanks to the development of radio, radar, sondes, satellites, and instrumented buoys. I'd also be upbeat on the progress made in coping with climate variation - through increased wealth, industrial development, international trade, better buildings, better agriculture - generally more options all round. Overall picture: climate variation/bad weather have always been a threat, but we are better at dealing with them than any generation before us. Lots of affordable energy being one of the keys to that.

For teachers and parents, and perhaps senior pupils at high schools, I'd like to see guidance about countering the scaremongering that has been going on. Pastoral care of current pupils is important, and that includes protecting them from nutters of many kinds. Those who have already been through their basic education might also benefit from help in this area when it comes to climate matters and the flood (or relentless drip drip dripping - choose your preferred metaphor) of scary stuff generated around it.

I agree with Alan Kendall about your phrase 'correct hypothesis'. The term 'consensus' has been tainted by the abuse of it by campaigners, but might still be useful, perhaps qualified by 'current'. Children should learn that part of the excitement and interest of science is that anyone at all can challenge ideas with new observations, and come up with theories of their own. It is out of that turmoil that with patience, humility, open-minded persistence, and attention to detail that successful theories emerge. I would hesitate to apply any of those virtues to modern climate science in general!

Mar 31, 2016 at 10:18 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Alan Kendall, M Courtney, John Shade

Would a book written for 11-14 year olds be too technical for many practising Climate Scientists?

Could a panel of 11-14 year olds write some textbooks on science, to educate Climate Scientists?

Mar 31, 2016 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I haven't read every comment here, so my apologies if I'm late to the party, but Raff's derision at the term 'trace gas' seemed a little harsh. Most lay people would reach for Google if unsure, and would then read Wikipedia's definition, which seems reasonable to me (although it's curious that they assume we are talking about the atmosphere!):

A trace gas is a gas which makes up less than 1% by volume of the Earth's atmosphere, and it includes all gases except nitrogen (78.1%) and oxygen (20.9%). The most abundant trace gas at 0.934% is argon.

Like Raff, SkS bridle at the term, but they are both confusing a simple phrase that helps define a (small) quantity and the claimed effects. A trace amount of arsenic will kill you, but it's still a trace...

Mar 31, 2016 at 5:51 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

jamesp, do you think that SKS educated raff on what to bridle about?

It is almost as though there is a 'dirty tricks' consensus on how to defend climate science's honesty and integrity, with lies and deceit. Climate science seems to have given up on science.

Mar 31, 2016 at 6:18 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

GC, I think of it as not so much a consensus, as a shared state of mind.

An adjective or adverb which is not alarming has no place in the green vocabulary. It's like the salvation army without a congregation or an enemy.

If one dislikes the religious metaphor then there are others: One doesn't go to a restaurant and not eat. Or a pub and not drink. An environmentalist cannot exist without complaining that some aspect of human behaviour is damaging to the environment. Therefore the use non-scary words is generally verboten.

Mar 31, 2016 at 9:04 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

jamesp, there's nothing wrong with the term "trace gas". It is what use you make of it that matters.

Alan Kendall, "it's been awhile, but I wouldn't presume to suggest you might be reassessing your position"

Why? You seem to think that I should be uncomfortable with discussion of uncertainty in text books. But with climate change, uncertainty is not our friend.

Apr 1, 2016 at 12:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Uncertainty is what gamblers like to bet on.

Global Warming is a failed gamble. That is why Green businesses keep going bust. Unfortunately taking taxpayer funds with them, because most financial institutions are not that gullible, and have shunned Unreliable technology

The spate of UK Green financial failures that have resulted from cuts in grants, subsidies and price fixing, only prove the Unreliability of Green Financial Models, when climate models fail to deliver any information that anybody should rely on.

Nobody likes paying Tax, but being asked to gamble on certain failure, is now the guaranteed certainty of Green. Climate science has peaked, and the tipping point gets closer. Taxation fraud was Al Capone's downfall, and climate science is going the same way.

Taxpayers don't like uncertainty, but the certainty of Green failure is worse.

Apr 1, 2016 at 1:45 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Raff (12.42am) my comment was, I thought, a not so subtle reminder that you yourself did presume when implying that I had reconsidered my position following a similar length pause in our "correspondence". Don't do subtle, huh?

Apr 1, 2016 at 7:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

So I did, although I had to look back a page to find it. In doing so I reread what you wrote about UEA and that the CRU faculty "taught consensus climate change as settled science". You also listed various subjects that you saw as "completely accepted by all rational people" and other parts of science that are "settled", with a final group
that are "far from settled (even if there is a majority position)". Climate science (or the parts of science to do with climate) spans all three, some parts being indisputable, some being merely settled and some being uncertain. Which parts of CS do you think UEA treated wrongly (in the wrong categories)?

Apr 1, 2016 at 2:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Phil, a partial cop out, but I cannot address your question definitively because I never attended in full the final year undergraduate module given largely by CRU staff. However, I did experience first-year lectures given to impressionable young students and occasional lectures offered in a final-year interdisciplinary module. I also talked with many students over the years and with very different outlooks. Based upon this I would judge that much of UEA's climate science supported the hockey stick and AGW, with tinges of CAGW and tipping points. Much of the module then moved onto economic and political implications and some coverage of biological changes. However, with reference to the basic science, I believe those that taught it considered they were teaching settled science. Little attempt was made to offer critical views and evidence employed by sceptics was dismissed with contempt (witness the second tranche of climategate e-mails dealing with my teaching). In my view much (most) of what they were teaching was contentious and thus unsettled science and should have been treated as such. However the small number of students who took the climate change module (usually c. 20) were in my estimation already full blown converts, so it was a matter of teaching to the already lost.

I doubt if UEA were unusual in any way (except perhaps in the "star quality" of its teaching staff).

Apr 1, 2016 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

"Little attempt was made to offer critical views and evidence employed by sceptics was dismissed with contempt (witness the second tranche of climategate e-mails dealing with my teaching). "

Which evidence do you think should have been presented more sympathetically? And did the climatgate emails discuss you (or your teaching) directly?

Apr 1, 2016 at 7:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Raff. I am getting the increasing impression this is an extended wind-up.

I refuse to play.

Resume discussing books or give it a rest.

Apr 1, 2016 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

Resume discussing books or give it a rest.

I was. I wanted to get at what you thought should be in the books that isn't (or vice-versa). Specifics, not just a general throwaway like "critical views and evidence employed by sceptics", as you must (I hope) acknowledge that such evidence is hugely variable ranging from greenhouse effect denial (everywhere) to force X from outer space (Jo Nova).

Apr 1, 2016 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff


>there's nothing wrong with the term "trace gas".

I’m so glad you think so. The word ‘trace’ is simply useful shorthand for small components below 1% of the whole, so it must be the other Raff on here who says things like:

>Ah, the old "trace gas" chestnut. Some people are so attached to the stupid arguments.

Apr 1, 2016 at 8:57 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Alan Kendall, professional climatrollogists never admit defeat, they just try to find something for which they have a carefully rehearsed and scripted set of responses.

Climate science represents a revolution in scientific thinking. Attack and destroy any perceived threat, to the one true faith.

Somehow, I get the impression you may have worked this out, and not recently either.

Apr 2, 2016 at 12:26 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

golf Charlie

One last post. You are probably right about my having worked it out previously, but obviously I am slow on the uptake. I have enjoyed our encounters on different threads, but apologize if I have bored you and others with my feeble wit. I really thought you enjoyed playing.

Just who is "Rabid Rat": the Bishop's Grand Inquisitor? A joker or the real thing? I can't be arsed to find out.

Keep up with the zanyness, I'll be keeping a watching brief.

Apr 2, 2016 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall