Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Predictive capacity matchup: global warming models versus Ptolemaic astronomy

My husband, who doesn't blog nearly often enough, copied me on a fascinating email, which he's given me permission to post here (with a few very minor tweaks). The subject: Ptolemy's model of the solar system/universe and how it compared, in predictive value, with the models predicting catastrophic, anthropogenic (man-made) global climate change. (Spoiler: Ptolemy's model, completely inaccurate as we now know it to be, comes out way ahead.)

"Global warming orthodoxy reminds me a lot of the Catholic Church's involvement in the debate over the Earth-centered model of Ptolemy and the heliocentric model of Copernicus.  Church dogma attached itself to one model, which made the other heresy.  Statist and communitarian dogma has attached itself to CAGW.  The parallel is actually fairly close.  Most people tend to think of the Geocentric model has hopelessly flawed.  In reality, it had a LOT of empirical data supporting it.  Galileo's work, especially with Kepler's insight into orbits being elliptical, gave the advantage to the Heliocentric model.  The fact that Kepler was nominally Protestant may have been a factor in his not being molested by authorities the way Galileo was.  Perhaps the reception of heliocentrism in Protestant Europe was as much a part of the rejection of everything associated with Catholicism as it was the scientific arguments in its favor.  But I digress...

"The funny thing is that Ptolemy's model, unlike CAGW, ACTUALLY WORKED.  It was very accurate at predicting astronomical events.  Over time, however, it began to diverge from the empirical data.  Also, the problems with Mars' orbit observed by the last great eyeball astronomer, Tycho de Brahe, created more difficulties.  However, the degree of predictive rigor of the Geocentric model was orders of magnitude better than the global circulation models relied on by CAGW today - at least 2 orders of magnitude better, based upon the number of years Ptolemy's system worked versus the GCMs, which can't even hindcast accurately.  Here's the other thing.  To the extent that Occam's Razor is a workable rule (more correctly, a rule of thumb) in science, it must be noted that Ptolemy's model was actually simpler - had fewer cycles - that Copernicus'.  Also, Copernicus' system had a big problem in the lack of an observed parallax.  The Catholic Church's treatment of Galileo and heliocentrism makes a lot more sense on the basis of the EMPIRICAL DATA THEN AVAILABLE than the treatment meted out to CAGW skeptics by the bureaucrat-scientists and their political toadies based upon the data available today.  Consider, the Inquisition only showed Galileo the instruments.  RFK Jr. wants people who reject CAGW tried for crimes against humanity and imprisoned (or executed - that's implied though I don't think explicitly stated).  CAGW predictions based upon the GCMs fail the .05 level of significance test.  Ptolemy's system was way better than that in its day."