Richard Lindzen: Climate Science – is it currently designed to answer questions?

Posted: March 16, 2013 by tallbloke in Analysis, methodology, Philosophy, Politics

This an excellent paper from Dick Lindzen, published in 2010, and roundly ignored by the people who need to read it and think about it most:


For a variety of inter-related cultural, organizational, and political reasons, progress in climate science and the actual solution of scientific problems in this field have moved at a much slower rate than would normally be possible. Not all these factors are unique to climate science, but the heavy influence of politics has served to amplify the role of the other factors. By cultural factors, I primarily refer to the change in the scientific paradigm from a dialectic opposition between theory and observation to an emphasis on simulation and observational programs. The latter serves to almost eliminate the dialectical focus of the former. Whereas the former had the potential for convergence, the latter is much less effective. The institutional factor has many components. One is the inordinate growth of administration in universities and the consequent increase in importance of grant overhead. This leads to an emphasis on large programs that never end. Another is the hierarchical nature of formal scientific organizations whereby a small executive council can speak on behalf of thousands of scientists as well as govern the distribution of ‘carrots and sticks’ whereby reputations are made and broken. The above factors are all amplified by the need for government funding. When an issue becomes a vital part of a political agenda, as is the case with climate, then the politically desired position becomes a goal rather than a consequence of scientific research.

This paper will deal with the origin of the cultural changes and with specific examples of the operation and interaction of these factors. In particular, we will show how political bodies act to control scientific institutions, how scientists adjust both data and even theory to accommodate politically correct positions, and how opposition to these positions is disposed of.

  1. wayne says:

    Thanks for the ref TB, I had no idea this cancer was so embedded into every single area of control. Climate ‘science’ has a much darker history than I ever imagined. Don’t spend much time reading on the political end and it seems I should.

  2. Bart says:

    Ain’t that the truth! Verdict first, trial afterwards, spake the Queen of Hearts. And, so the Wonderlandian adventure which has enthralled us (literally) for the past two decades + was launched.

  3. Roger Clague says:

    Lindzen’s analysis how politicians and scientists misuse evidence is good. And he has been brave in his opposition to the excessive policy reactions to claims of dangerous warming.

    However his model of the greenhouse effect is the same as Willis’s steel greenhouse.


    In his model the atmosphere in fig.1

    Has no mass and heat
    Is thin and has large conductivity
    Is separated from Earth by a vacuum

    Which is nothing like the real atmosphere and gives a wrong result for surface temperature.
    So his climate science is also not answering the important question.

    His fig.2 is more interesting and nearer to how I see it, as it refers to the lapse rate. It is the raising emission height theory. But it is still wrong.

  4. michael hart says:

    The Queen of Hearts
    She made some tarts,
    All on a summer’s day;
    The Knave of Hearts
    He stole those tarts,
    And took them clean away.
    The King of Hearts
    Called for the tarts,
    And beat the knave full sore;
    The Knave of Hearts
    Brought back the tarts,
    And vowed he’d steal no more.

  5. Bob Tisdale says:

    Thanks, tallbloke. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve read that paper. I enjoyed it then, and I enjoyed it again.


  6. hro001 says:


    It’s always a pleasure to read Richard Lindzen’s views. And I enjoyed re-reading this as much as I enjoyed reading it the first time you shared it with us



  7. tallbloke says:

    Nice one Hilary. I must be working too hard. 😕
    Anyway, well worth a repost. 🙂

  8. NikFromNYC says:

    I got out in the late ’90s. I didn’t yet then know about climate fraud, but the way hype had replaced curiosity meant there were few young role models that I could relate to except miserable ones. That I’ve been doing art and design since then instead of inventing desperately needed cancer treatments, well, sorry guys, it’s not just me who went Galt, it’s *thousands* of top notch independent thinkers every year being lost by academic science because science is no longer a noble calling. A healthy backlash against climatology in popular culture will go a long way towards restoring vigor in academia. Lindzen’s paper is an important statement. It is also important to appreciate that students in their 20s are decidedly unimpressed with physical sciences that lack a bleeding edge frontier other than faster iPhone development. The most important frontier being ignored, the equivalent of a genome project, is the probing of higher consciousness with drugs in human volunteers that was shut down in the 70s. Interesting questions aren’t even being asked, for to do so is still the kiss of death of an academic career.

    -=NikFromNYC=-, Ph.D. in carbon chemistry (Columbia/Harvard), with lab work on genetics, organometallics, and microfabrication.

  9. oldbrew says:

    ‘progress in climate science and the actual solution of scientific problems in this field have moved at a much slower rate than would normally be possible’

    Moving backwards? Steve McIntyre exposes another climate science turkey.

  10. I suggest a moratorium on the use of “science” and especially “Science” and reversion to the application of “-ology” to describe the activities of various clubs of interested and ‘qualified’ (ie. admitted to membership after tests of fidelity to the cause) people who study various topics. The halo of “Science” is so well established in the public mind that it portrays a kind of revealed certainty about the way things are that cannot be challenged by people who are not members of the club in question. Darwinian selection determines which clubs are successful in garnering followers and resources. The clubs are autonomous self-exciting and self-replicating – autopoietic social systems. The ‘truth’ or ‘falsity’ of their beliefs is irrelevant.
    Climat-ology is a well funded and well followed belief system that survives because it generates economic activity and has become autopoietic. Deniers are outliers, disorganised and incapable of using any weapons but evidence and argument. Deniers cannot appeal to possible futures only to the effects of Climat-ology on the present and cannot appeal to the emotions, particularly that of virtuous feelings and fear. Thus, unless and until there is a real Reformation of “Science” superstitious belief in the adverse effects of human activity on the future of mankind will persist. Deniers need their own “-ology”.

  11. Roger Andrews says:

    McIntyre’s expose is astounding. Compared to Marcott et al. Michael Mann is a rank amateur when it comes to creative data manipulation.

    Stay tuned. This one has “legs”.

  12. It appears that they found a good use for the heat from the 30’s and 40’s they have been trying to hide. The spike at the end of the graph seems to be the heat from the dust bowl years, with the “before present 1950” cutoff date used to hide the decline back into the “Ice age scare from the 60’s and 70’s”

    So the spike we should be so afraid of is behind us 80 years already!

  13. Lindzen is brilliant as usual. Right up there with his presentation to the UK Parliament.

    Click to access RSL-HouseOfCommons_2148505a.pdf

  14. Lindzen at House of Commons – did anyone turn up? Any feedback from those who did?

  15. tallbloke says:

    CG3 email from Phil Jones:

    “Back to our ZOD, reducing the size is difficult, but it is something we will have to come to grips with. and also in a lesser sense to 2-4. The authors have to deal with Fu et al explicitly instead of saying it is controversial. I didn’t succeed in getting some of Dick Lindzen’s comments removed. Chapter 6 was a complete mess.
    It did seem odd that our review will get published – why, when the final report will be quite different.”

  16. oldbrew says:

    @ mitigatedsceptic

    So-called deniers can market themselves as the Resistance. Remember who the wartime French Resistance were opposing… 😉

  17. Coldish says:

    Lindzen has been writing good sense about climatology for a long time. See for instance his 1992 article ‘Global warming: the origin and nature of the alleged scientific consensus.

  18. It is simply not true that the “politically desired position” is the goal of climate science. Otherwise, surely I (a government scientist) would not be allowed to publish papers like this one which showed that CO2 effects on plants may reduce the effect of drought, or publish papers on land use effects with Roger Pielke Snr, or write blog posts like this one which warned against over-selling the scientific arguments used for the 2 degree target.

    My funders (DECC and Defra) want independent scientific advice and absolutely do not prescribe the results they want to see. Quite the opposite in fact – the explicit instructions I have received from Defra is (and I quote) “you must do what is scientifically correct”.

    Neither my funders nor my employers (Met Office) have ever tried to influence my research outcomes.

  19. tallbloke says:

    Hi Richard, nice to see you drop by again. Given climate science such as that produced by Michael Mann and Marcott et al, and the outcomes at the EPA and DECC, and the resulting policy decisions, you might forgive Lindzen (and me) for seeing (some of) your work as examples of the exceptions which prove the rule.

  20. tallbloke says:

    Ed Davey talks to Met Office symposium: 34mins