by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The book, The Plague of Models: How Computer Modeling Corrupted Environmental, Health, and Safety Regulations by Kenneth Green, I banned by Amazon. I don’t think Amazon bans many books. They don’t have time to read them all. …
… The Plague of Models is a wide-ranging attack on a broad spectrum of government regulation and policy, including alleged cancer-causing substances, air pollution, and doomsday predictions like global warming, acid rain, and the ozone hole. It is also an attack on the scientists who use computer models incorrectly to generate scientific results, better known as the computer slogan “Garbage In Garbage Out ‘ (GIGO).
Scientists want to generate important-sounding, even sensational results. They want to be famous and enjoy the benefits of higher social status. That desire leads to stretching or breaking the rules. For example, hunting through data for a supported hypothesis, or data dredging, is a temptation that breaks the statistics. There are many other temptations.
I think Green is a bit soft on the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The doomsday climate models used by the IPCC accept climate inputs for previous decades and output a simulated climate. The closer the past simulated climate is to the past measured climate, the better the model, according to their methodology. The models are then run with estimated future climate inputs in order to generate a projected future climate. The official projected future climate is obtained by averaging together results from a dozen or so climate models, models that strongly disagree with each other.
The danger is that models that have many adjustable parameters are primarily doing curve fitting to make the past climate projections agree with past measured climate. If the models are little more than very complicated curve-fitting engines, their predictive power would be nil.