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How Much Wrong Can Joe Romm Be? That Moon Hoax Again…

I have already blogged some time ago about the flawed comparison between AGW skeptics and people believing in the Moon landing hoax. It takes just a sentence: the Apollo mission are historical events (i.e.: they belong to the past, they have already happened), global warming is a forecast projection (i.e.: it is about the future, it has not happened as yet).

Or to explain it the way of Donald Rumsfeld: arguing if an apple that is already on the ground, is on the ground, is absolutely different than arguing if apple that is still on the tree, will or will not eventually be on the ground.

With the usual bottom scraping and blatant headline-following that characterizes his blog, it is now Joe Romm’s turn to recycle the same logic-free pontificating, on the back of the 40th anniversary of the first Apollo lunar landing. Only this time, the point appears to be about an “overall conspiracy“.

According to Romm in fact, claims for a “large conspiracy” would be needed to keep AGW skeptical arguments alive, just as they are fundamental to all Moon-hoax accusations. Citing Harold Ambler by way of Anthony Watts, Romm writes:

Watts approvingly reprints denier manifestos that claim global warming “is the biggest whopper ever sold to the public in the history of humankind” — see here. As I’ve written, such a statement is anti-scientific and anti-science in the most extreme sense. It accuses the scientific community broadly defined of conspiring in deliberate fraud

But that is simply not true: it is just a form of reductio ad absurdum (as if one needed any more evidence of Romm’s inability to properly argue a point without infantile rhetorical attempts).


In general, the fact that people sell a “whopper” does not necessarily mean they are knowingly participating in a conspiracy and/or committing fraud: otherwise, jails the world over would be full of astrologers, wizards, sorcerers, and most probably experts in homeopathy and chiropractic practitioners.

And very pertinent to the AGW skepticism case is that the history of Science is full of examples where quite large “whoppers” have been “sold to the public” by scientists building up and then defending a flawed consensus. Perfectly honest scientists, one can safely assume, with a deeply-held belief that their consensual understanding of the world was the right one.

We know now that such a “consensus” attitude has hindered the scientific careers of scientists, among them Galileo Galilei, Alfred L Wegener, J Harlan Bretz, Sir Gilbert WalkerJohann Ludwig Wilhelm Thudichum, Reg Sprigg. Recent Nobel Prize winners Barry Marshall and J. Robin Warren may have been just lucky to see their consensus-busting findings recognized whilst still alive.

Still, the fact that scientists fall repeatedly and across the centuries in the trap of “consensus” needs no conspiracy. It cannot be interpreted in any other way than as demonstration that scientists are human beings and that like all other human beings they introduce their subjective feelings, emotions, tribal drive, and who knows what else in the purportedly objective scientific process.

Nobody needs a “large conspiracy” to explain why it is so difficult to publish anything that does not include the customary “this may be caused by global warming” statement. All it takes is a large enough amount of scientists and science-related people convinced of the “truth” of Anthropogenic Global Warming, determined to read and to support only whatever confirms their prejudices.

The “consensus” behavior in AGW is exacerbated further by so many AGWers living under the impression that they are saving the planet. Under those circumstances, the esprit de corps is understandably as strong as it can be (this explains the existence of anti-skeptic rants such as Romm’s).


All in all, it is deeply ironical to find that it is Romm’s statement the one “anti-scientific and anti-science in the most extreme sense“, deep in its core. Because if there is one thing everybody in the scientific community should be well aware of, it is that whatever they will tell the public, it is likely to be wrong one way or another. As per this Bertrand Russell quote:

Although this may seem a paradox, all exact science is dominated by the idea of approximation. When a man tells you that he knows the exact truth about anything, you are safe in inferring that he is an inexact man. Every careful measurement in science is always given with the probable error… every observer admits that he is likely wrong, and knows about how much wrong he is likely to be.

AGW Data Omniclimate Science Skepticism

Global Warming and the Apollo Moon Hoax

(these are my responses to a blog first published on LiveScience by Robert Roy Britt about a year ago, and that I have “rediscovered” today. RRB clumsily tried to put all global warming skeptics together with the Apollo-is-a-hoax people: sort of the lowest of the low in scientific circles. I have put out a series of challenges at the time, all of them still unmet.)

February 2nd, 2007 at 8:26 am

How about this for logical fallacy: the Apollo mission are historical events, global warming is a forecast (i.e.: it is about the future).

Shame to the scientific mind that is not skeptical of the future!

I am also aghast at your sudden penchant to follow “governments”. From a scientific point of view, who cares what governments have to say about astronomy or particle physics or biology or chemistry or or or?

One wonders what you had to say about Kansas politics deciding the scientific merits of Evolution and intelligent design

So unless you are going to rename this website “LivePolitics”, please do try again at making an intelligent point on climate change

February 6th, 2007 at 5:32 am

I am satistied to see that nobody has picked up the challenge of explaining why, if the evidence of climate change is so unquestionable, we had to get 113 governments approve the first IPCC report after 4 days behind closed doors.

Too bad we have to wait now several months to get to see such “evidence”. One of the few things we have for certain is that, whilst a large number of hurricane experts signed a statement saying there is no definite link between climate change and hurricanes, the IPCC did not think that worthwhile of consideration

Also, nobody has explicitly defended the absurd comparison of climate change skeptics to Moon hoaxers.

What would IPCC supporters say about the lack of difference between Intelligent Design (”there is a God as there are things we cannot explain in biology”) with Anthropogenic Climate Change (”there is human-induced climate change as we cannot explain our data with known mechanisms”)?

Here’s a more serious challenge: find a weather pattern that has changed IN_THE_RECENT_PAST anywhere in the world due to climate change. Rain bands, prevailing winds, weather fronts’ paths, anything would do really.

Now, that would finally give climate change some historical evidence…

Happy hunting!

March 5th, 2008 at 12:07 pm

Just to report that when the evidence did come out (IPCC Fourth Assessment Report – Working Group 2 (AR4-WG2), Chapter 1), we’ve learnt that 96% of the reported changes concern just the continent of Europe.

Actually, there are twice as many European changes incompatible with warming, than worldwide changes compatible with it.

Europe, by the way, occupies just 2% of the Earth’s surface.

The “whole picture” on global warming is unbelievably far from complete. Why don’t the IPCC and climate and environmental scientists push for a truly planet-wide assessment?

ps no, the results of a model cannot be used as “evidence”.