Artificial Intelligence Implies Artificial Stupidity

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Over at “SkepticalScience”, which is neither skeptical nor scientific, they’re hyping a new “Artificial Intelligence” (AI) tool developed by John Cook et al. to identify “denialist claims”. The paper laying out this foolishness is in Nature Scientific Reports in an article with the most sciency title of “Computer-assisted classification of contrarian claims about climate change“. The Washington Post reports what they want to do …

“Ultimately, our goal is the Holy Grail of fact-checking, which is being able to detect and debunk misinformation in real time,” said Cook, who partly developed the framework previously at George Mason University. “Ideally, I would have social media platforms using it to detect misinformation in real time.”

Their hope is to use it to censor views that disagree with theirs “in real time” … can you imagine anything more anti-scientific and totalitarian than wanting to disappear scientists who disagree with you before anyone can even read their ideas?

In the Nature paper, Cook and the Cookies describe their work as follows:

Let’s start with a quick, 10-word introduction to climate change. There are 5 key facts that summarize everything you need to know about climate change. And they are:

1. It’s real

2. It’s us

3. It’s bad

4. There’s hope

5. Experts agree

We’ve developed a taxonomy of denialist claims that aim to cast doubt on climate science. Climate misinformation can be broken into five main categories, which we call super-claims. They’re the opposite of the five climate beliefs: it’s not real, it’s not us, it’s not bad, experts are unreliable and there’s no hope.

1. It’s not real

2. It’s not us

3. It’s not bad

4. Experts are unreliable

5. There’s no hope

When I saw this, I broke out laughing. Why? Because in total contradiction to point 4 immediately above, that experts are not unreliable, one of the finest physicists of my lifetime, Richard Feynman, famously said:

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”

Feynman is 100% correct. If no one ever questioned the claims of “experts”, science would come to an immediate halt. Einstein questioned Newton. Wegman questioned immobile continents. Science is the slow process of overturning the “scientific consensus” by scientists who question the beliefs of the experts. Feynman was right.

So clearly, the folks putting together this ludicrous “artificial intelligence” tool have no idea how science is supposed to work … and with that as its basis, there’s no hope for this tool.

Look, I’ve been programming computers for fifty-seven years now, longer than John Cook has been alive. And one thing I’ve found to be true, at times to my cost:

Computer programs are nothing but a physical embodiment of the understandings and more importantly the misunderstandings of the programmer.

And as a result, when you start out by programming “artificial intelligence” with a profound misunderstanding of science, as John Cook and his workmates are doing, you’ll end up with artificial stupidity every time.

In any case, here is a full list of the sub-categories of the five main categories of “denialist claims” listed above. Headers are in bold. (And in passing, anyone using the term “denialist” is not a scientist—they’re pseudo-scientists trying to discredit their opponents by a personal attack rather than a scientific falsification of their opponents’ ideas … but I digress.)

1     : Global warming is not happening
1.1     : Ice/permafrost/snow cover isn’t melting

1.1.1     : Antarctica is gaining ice/not warming
1.1.2     : Greenland is gaining ice/not melting
1.1.3     : Arctic sea ice isn’t vanishing
1.1.4     : Glaciers aren’t vanishing
1.2     : We’re heading into an ice age/global cooling
1.3     : Weather is cold/snowing
1.4     : Climate hasn’t warmed/changed over the last (few) decade(s)
1.5     : Oceans are cooling/not warming
1.6     : Sea level rise is exaggerated/not accelerating
1.7     : Extreme weather isn’t increasing/has happened before/isn’t linked to climate change
1.8     : They changed the name from ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change’
2     : Human greenhouse gases are not causing climate change
2.1     : It’s natural cycles/variation

2.1.1     : It’s the sun/cosmic rays/astronomical
2.1.2     : It’s geological (includes volcanoes)
2.1.3     : It’s the ocean/internal variability
2.1.4     : Climate has changed naturally/been warm in the past
2.1.5     : Human CO2 emissions are tiny compared to natural CO2 emission
2.2     : It’s non-greenhouse gas human climate forcings (aerosols, land use)
2.3     : There’s no evidence for greenhouse effect/carbon dioxide driving climate change
2.3.1     : Carbon dioxide is just a trace gas
2.3.2     : Greenhouse effect is saturated/logarithmic
2.3.3     : Carbon dioxide lags/not correlated with climate change
2.3.4     : Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas
2.3.5     : There’s no tropospheric hot spot
2.3.6     : CO2 was higher in the past
2.4     : CO2 is not rising/ocean pH is not falling
2.5     : Human CO2 emissions are miniscule/not raising atmospheric CO2
3     : Climate impacts/global warming is beneficial/not bad
3.1     : Climate sensitivity is low/negative feedbacks reduce warming
3.2     : Species/plants/reefs aren’t showing climate impacts yet/are benefiting from climate change
3.2.1     : Species can adapt to global warming
3.2.2     : Polar bears are not in danger from climate change
3.2.3     : Ocean acidification/coral impacts aren’t serious
3.3     : CO2 is beneficial/not a pollutant
3.3.1     : CO2 is plant food
3.4     : It’s only a few degrees (or less)
3.5     : Climate change does not contribute to human conflict/threaten national security
3.6     : Climate change doesn’t negatively impact health
4     : Climate solutions won’t work
    : Climate policies (mitigation or adaptation) are harmful
4.1.1     : Climate policy will increase costs/harm economy/kill jobs
4.1.2     : Proposed action would weaken national security/national sovereignty/cause conflict
4.1.3     : Proposed action would actually harm the environment and species
4.1.4     : Future generations will be richer and better able to adapt
4.1.5     : Climate policy limits liberty/freedom/capitalism
4.2     : Climate policies are ineffective/flawed
4.2.1     : Clean energy/green jobs/businesses won’t work
4.2.2     : Markets/private sector are economically more efficient than government policies
4.2.3     : Climate policy will make negligible difference to climate change
4.2.4     : A single country/region only contributes a small % of global emissions
4.2.5     : Better to adapt/geoengineer/increase resiliency
4.2.6     : Climate action is pointless because of China/India/other countries’ emissions
4.2.7     : We should invest in technology/reduce poverty/disease first
4.3     : It’s too hard to solve
4.3.1     : Climate policy is politically/legally/economically/technically too difficult
4.3.2     : Media/public support/acceptance is low/decreasing
4.4     : Clean energy technology/biofuels won’t work
4.4.1     : Clean energy/biofuels are too expensive/unreliable/counterproductive/harmful
4.4.2     : Carbon Capture & Sequestration (CCS) is unproven/expensive
4.5     : People need energy (e.g., from fossil fuels/nuclear)
4.5.1     : Fossil fuel reserves are plentiful
4.5.2     : Fossil fuels are cheap/good/safe for society/economy/environment
4.5.3     : Nuclear power is safe/good for society/economy/environment
5     : Climate movement/science is unreliable
5.1     : Climate-related science is uncertain/unsound/unreliable (data, methods & models)

5.1.1     : There’s no scientific consensus on climate/the science isn’t settled
5.1.2     : Proxy data is unreliable (includes hockey stick)
5.1.3     : Temperature record is unreliable
5.1.4     : Models are wrong/unreliable/uncertain
5.2     : Climate movement is alarmist/wrong/political/biased/hypocritical (people or groups)
5.2.1     : Climate movement is religion
5.2.2     : Media (including bloggers) is alarmist/wrong/political/biased
5.2.3     : Politicians/government/UN are alarmist/wrong/political/biased
5.2.4     : Environmentalists are alarmist/wrong/political/biased
5.2.5     : Scientists/academics are alarmist/wrong/political/biased
5.3     : Climate change (science or policy) is a conspiracy (deception)
5.3.1     : Climate policy/renewables is a hoax/scam/conspiracy/secretive
5.3.2     : Climate science is a hoax/scam/conspiracy/secretive/money-motivated (includes climategate)

Let me wander through and comment on a few of these. I’ll start with their very first “denialist claim”, the top of the list:

1.1.1     : Antarctica is gaining ice/not warming

Nature Magazine, a premier scientific journal and a huge defender of the anthropogenic climate change hypothesis, has an article on the subject which says:

The Antarctic continent has not warmed in the last seven decades, despite a monotonic increase in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases.

Ooops …

So clearly, Nature Magazine is a secret nest of climate “denialists” whose claims should be censored before anyone can be misled by them … and while that example alone should be enough to totally discredit their artificial stupidity, it’s just the first of many.

1.3     : Weather is cold/snowing

So it’s gonna identify articles pointing out that while heatwaves are always explained as climate change, cold spells are just plain old weather …

1.6     : Sea level rise is exaggerated/not accelerating

I’ve shown that sea-level rise is both exaggerated by improperly splicing satellite data to tide gauges, and is not accelerating. See “Inside The Acceleration Factory” and “Munging The Sea Level Data“. Those are scientific analyses of the subject, not “denialist claims”. I deny nothing—I investigate and report back, wherein I demonstrate and cite and support what I find.

1.7     : Extreme weather has happened before

Seriously? This is a climate denialist claim? Are they truly trying to say that there’s never been extreme weather before? How about this?

Pointing out that 200-year drought is not “denialism”. It’s science.

2.3.6     : CO2 was higher in the past

This is widely accepted scientific fact … why is it somehow a mark of “climate denialism”?

3.1     : Climate sensitivity is low/negative feedbacks reduce warming

Both of these are the subject of active scientific debate and dispute. One of the huge failures of mainstream climate science is their inability to determine climate sensitivity. Pretending this is settled is unscientific to the core.

And as is obvious from the name, negative feedbacks reduce warming … the scientific question is not “Do negative feedbacks reduce warming.” The question, about which there is little agreement, is “How much?”

3.2     : Species/plants/reefs aren’t showing climate impacts yet/are benefiting from climate change

For most species, including humans and coral reefs, a change of a degree in average temperature over fifty years means nothing. We see more temperature change than that every day, month, and year. Here are the noted “climate denialists”, National Geographic, in a piece entitled These 38 Coral Reefs Are Thriving, Despite Threats.

And in general, plants have benefitted from the additional carbon dioxide, leading to the “global greening” noted by NOAA. But heck, they’re just a government agency, so they must be closeted “climate denialists” too …

3.2.1     : Species can adapt to global warming

Protip: Species are amazingly resilient. If they weren’t, they’d have gone extinct millennia ago. Adaptation is what they do, 24/7/365.

3.2.2     : Polar bears are not in danger from climate change

This is absolutely true, beyond dispute. They are thriving. Why is this still in question?

Well, by chance I got an example of why this is in question. I was listening to an ad from the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) today, and guess who their poster child for fundraising is?

Gosh, you got it first try … polar bears. You too can “adopt” a polar bear for a mere $60.

And why haven’t the WWF folks noticed that the polar bears are doing quite well, thank you very much? Well, as Upton Sinclair said,

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

Sure ‘nuf …

4.1.4     : Future generations will be richer and better able to adapt

Again, this is obviously true … how on earth is this “denialism”?

4.2.2     : Markets/private sector are economically more efficient than government policies

Um … duh. Markets and the private sector have penalties for inefficiencies. Governments have no such constraints, which is why the California “train to nowhere” that was supposed to cost $33 billion and be finished by 2020 is now up to $100 billion, unfinished, and the cost is still rising.

4.2.3     : Climate policy will make negligible difference to climate change

Yes, we’ve all seen how amazingly effective climate policy has been to date.

4.3.1     : Climate policy is politically/legally/economically/technically too difficult

Some is, some isn’t … but “Net-Zero By 2050” is all of those things.

4.5.2     : Fossil fuels are cheap

Again, duh … it’s why we use them.

4.5.3     : Nuclear power is safe/good for society/economy/environment

Nuclear power is all of those things. It is also the only carbon-free baseline power source available. If you think carbon dioxide is a problem and you don’t support nuclear, you’re either a virtue-signaling poser or an idiot.

5.1.1     : There’s no scientific consensus on climate/the science isn’t settled

I turn again to the amazing Richard Feynman, a hundred times the scientist that these artificial stupidity proponents will ever be, who said:

“If you thought that science was certain, well, that is just an error on your part.”

Feynman was a true genius and an honest scientist.

5.1.2     : Proxy data is unreliable (includes hockey stick)

Proxy data is indeed unreliable, which is why different proxies for the same variable often differ by so much. And as for the Hockeystick, that’s a scientific joke. See Steve McIntyre’s extensive falsifications here, and my own comments on it here.

5.1.3     : Temperature record is unreliable

Ummm … since the temperature records from Berkeley Earth and JMA and UAH MSU and HadCRUT and RSS MSU and GISS all disagree with each other … just which one of them are we supposed to believe is “reliable”?

5.1.4     : Models are wrong/unreliable/uncertain

As noted above, the models cannot even agree on an equilibrium climate sensitivity … so it’s clear that either all or almost all of them are wrong. And despite that, they all do quite well at hindcasting the past. How can that even be possible?

5.2.2     : Media (including bloggers) is alarmist/political/biased
5.2.3     : Politicians/government/UN are alarmist/political/biased
5.2.4     : Environmentalists are alarmist/political/biased
5.2.5     : Scientists/academics are alarmist/political/biased

Double duh … it would take a double-dose either natural or artificial stupidity to not have noticed that.

5.3.2     : Climate science is a hoax/scam/conspiracy/secretive/money-motivated (includes climategate)

I try not to ascribe to malice what is adequately explained by ignorance … but regarding Climategate, I was forced to make an exception. You see, I knew what was actually happening because I was the first person to make a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to Phil Jones and the rest of the liars at the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit. I describe their conspiratorial conniving in my post called “Freedom Of Information, My Okole“. And here’s the irrepressible James Delingpole with Climategate 10 Years On – The Bastards Have Got Away With It!

So … those are just a few of the clearly true and totally defensible scientific claims that will demonstrate to the Artificial Stupidity Program that you are an eeeevil climate denialist …

The only good news out of all of this?

Clearly, James Cook and the Cookies are getting desperate … because when you actually think your scientific claims are solid, there’s no reason to conjure up some bogus “AI” program to automatically censor your scientific opponents.

Here in our lovely forest, we’re expecting three days of rain. It’s only December, but we’ve already gotten two inches (5 cm) more rain than all of the last rain year (which around here goes from October to September). Of course, last year was a drought year, which as the graph above demonstrated is quite common in California. And again of course, everyone was blaming the drought on “CLIMATE CHANGE! WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE! EVERYONE PANIC!” … but this year not a word.

How come climate change is so one-sided that it only gets blamed for the bad weather and is never credited for the good weather?

And so, having now firmly established my “climate denialist” credentials, all I can do is wait until the Artificial Stupidity program engages the Climate Thought Police to disappear my heresies … because everyone knows that’s how science works.

My best to all,


As Is My Wont: I ask that when you comment, you quote the exact words you are referring to, so we can all be clear just what and who you are discussing.

via Watts Up With That?

December 11, 2021 at 12:46PM

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