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Climate Dog of Neil deGrasse Tyson
by Douglas Moreman
Climate and Epistemology


In this video, Neil Tyson, popularizer of science,
A) asserts that weather is not predictable but climate is predictable, and
B) explains that assertion via an analogy with a man-with-a-leash, Climate, walking a dog, Weather, along a beach.

Tyson, more than once, asserts that climate is a "long-term average." I presume he means a running average, of each of several features of weather.
But this assertion contradicts the Man-with-a-Leash analogy. The man is not being pulled hither and yon by the Dog, as the average would be.

The Climate is not actually represented in the video's analogy. This can be seen in that the running average of the position of the Dog need not be at the Man.
For example, the Dog could stay to the left of the Man, and, the average would remain to the left of the Man. Thus we see that the Man is NOT the average of the Weather. Hence, the Man is NOT the Climate. But, if the analogy is fundamentally wrong, why do people accept it without question?

What Tyson probably really has in mind by the Man is hinted at by some of his other assertions. He believes, it seems, that climate is controlled by a mechanism, call it M, of factors including sunlight and greenhouse gases. The dog, Weather, averages into Climate which moves along the beach, unseen.
The Man-with-a-Leash is not the average of his dog, the Weather. The man is the unknown mechanism M that controls the Weather. In a sleight-of-hand, the video has substituted the unknown M for objectively observable Climate. The Man is observed, so our mind is fooled into thinking he is Climate.

We watch the video, and before we can figure out what it is nagging the back of our minds about the dog, Tyson slips in a Belief as if it were a fact. He assures us that M is known and he suggests that this hypothetical process M is making correct predictions about Climate, as a running average of Weather. But, though visibly represented by the man, M is not really known.

There must be some interesting socio-psychology behind Tyson getting away with asserting to a nation-wide audience pretty much the opposite of the experience of Everyone.

Out, Out, Damned Spot.

A) The relevant part of Climate "science" does NOT, to my knowledge, pass the test of Science by routinely making predictions that are testable in practical time. No mechanism M, implicit in the video, is known. By contrast, Weather is predicted everyday, often with some success, in thousands of locations. Tyson says the opposite.
B) Climate has no man-with-a-leash. A far more correct, but still questionable, dog-analogy is this: Weather is the position of an unleashed, fat dog chasing random butterflies in a multi-dimensional prarie and Climate is a running average of the position of the dog. That the dog is fat smoothes out his path enough to where, for very short intervals of time, his path is predictable. Still, Climate is chaotic enough to not be predictable much further ahead in time than is Weather. Tyson asserts something different.

Perhaps, in Tyson's mind and analogy, the Man-with-a-Leash is a theory that our
Globe is warming due to demonstrated steady increases in atmospheric CO2. This
is science so bad as to be in the realm of myths and oracles and various phenomena of mass-movements such as the Children's Crusade or the Tulip Mania -- but Tyson seems to believe it. It seems to me that no such predictor of Climate exists.

Can Tyson testably predict climate? We have
New York City will be flooded by 2015 (ABC, 2008, Bob Woodruff).
But, seriously. Can Tyson predict something small and easy? Can he, or anyone else, simply correctly predict, on some day, the number that will be the running average of the next two months of rainfall in my town, Baton Rouge?
I bet you cannot do that, Dr. Tyson. By contrast, the local weathermen here will, within some probability, correctly predict that the rainfall for the next day, and for the next few days.
If I am wrong in any of this, please show me.
doug@DolpinInspiredSonar.com

Otherwise:
Bad dog!