Friday, August 27, 2010

Neitzschean Deconstruction and Quantum Mechanics: The Solution to Global Warming

OK. The fun is over. (It was fun though!) Science sometimes has to be serious. And what more serious than the global warming issue. And I believe there may be a solution. And, after eating many helpings of humble pie, I have to say that the answer might lay in post modern methodology. (Yes, today it is post-modern, not post-normal, or could it now be post-normal-post-modern analysis.  Ah, enough - like I said, this is a serious matter.)
In 1982 Culler (pp. 86-88 Culler, Jonathan, On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralism). explained by example the tenuous nature of cause effect relations.

‘Suppose one feels pain. This causes one to look for a cause and spying, perhaps a pin, one posits a link and reverses the perceptual, or phenomenal order, pain ... pin, to produce a causal sequence, pin .. pain. The causal scheme is produced by a metonymy or metalepsis (substitution of cause for effect); it is not an indubitable foundation but the product of a topographical operation. [i.e. the experience of the pain causes us to discover the pin, thus causes the production of the cause.] Deconstruction reverses the hierarchal opposition of the causal scheme. The distinction between cause and effect makes the cause an origin, logically and temporally prior. The effect is derived, secondary, dependent upon the cause. The deconstruction upsets the hierarchy by producing an exchange of properties. If the effect is what causes the cause to become a cause, then the effect, not the cause, should be treated as the origin.’

In 1988, Aronowitz (Science as Power: Discourse and Ideology in Modern Society. p.331) addressed the same phenomenon in a more formal fashion:

‘Linear causality assumes that the relations of cause and effect can be expressed as a function of temporal succession. Owing to a recent development in quantum mechanics, we can postulate that it is now possible to know the effects of absent causes; that is, speaking metaphorically, effects may anticipate causes so that our perceptions of them may precede the physical occurrence of a “cause”. The hypothesis that challenges our conventional conception of linear time and causality that asserts the possibility of time’s reversal also raises the question of the degree to which the concept of “time’s arrow” is inherent in all scientific theory. if these experiments are successful, the conclusions about the way the time as “clock-time” has been constituted historically will be open to question.’

He also informed us that the physical reality is no more than a socio-linguistic construct (despite the fact that physical reality likely preceded language or human for that matter. But for now, simply bare with me.). Aronowitz also informed us that by questioning “time’s arrow” it is possible to suggest that effect can precede cause.

So my solution to global warming is quite simple: If we all stop talking about it, if those people who die in heat waves or floods or other extreme events would stop dying, then we would never discover the pin on the floor and climate change would not exist. Simple. Just get rid of the effects. We just need the Nietzschean deconstruction of causality and Bob’s your uncle.


_Flin_ said...

I don't get it. What is global warming?

Look, funny kittens!

_Flin_ said...

Works. Freaking cold outside. ;-)

co2fan said...

"So my solution to global warming is quite simple: If we all stop talking about it"

You've hit the nail (or pin) on the head.

Weather is causing the " heat waves or floods or other extreme events" and there is no human "cause" to look for.

Stop talking about GW and/or CC and the problem will go away. Of course so will also those cushy "research" jobs. Sorry.


ghost said...


it is, it is, freaking cold and rainy and dark. Where is the summer? it sucks.


not thinkin' about it... well, today I read about a tornado (I read several stories in the last two weeks or so) in Germany and the heavy rain in some areas, and I thought, oh my... and then I thought, is there a statistic about tornados in Germany. Does the frequency increase or not or whatever? Stupid, I know. But, but, but... Prof von Storch said: you shalt not feel, look to the data, or something like that.

I certainly have to listen to Dr Reinhard Böhm who wrote here: “Don’t worry – be happy” and take weather and climate as what it is: an interesting background of our lives but not the dominating one.

Reiner Grundmann said...

you are wrong: talk about global warming started long before effects were a topic. In true science mode, the talk was about theories, models, causes, and potential effects.

But of course, you are right: if this talk had not started some time ago, we would not have a (climate change) problem.

ingno said...

What worries me is that talk like "it is not a scientific question any more - it is all about politics" sort of degrades the seriousness of the whole thing. It is conflating reality with the public talk about reality. To call climate science a "post-normal" science sort of legitimises this take on things: "Ohh, thank God, I thought climate science was about some kind of reality out there. But now I've been told that it was really post-normal science. We do not have to understand the scientific discussion. Everything is just politics."

Hans von Storch said...

It depends how one defines PN - in my reading this is not implying in any sense that is climate shange would not be real or not man-made, but that this fact is undergoing a metamorphosis not only in the public as to optimize the utility of the fact political arena.
That we have a regional (not only global) warming is hardly contested; that any explanation (available at this time) has to include GHGs and that climate model projections are in terms of temperature conistent with present warming - all fine. But then comes the cultural construction that our windstorms are getting worse (because of GHG). This is PN at work.

ingno said...

Hans von Storch #7,

In parts of the humanities and parts of the social sciences, post-modernistic criticism has been used as an excuse for not doing real science anymore. I see similar signs in climate science; it is more important to influence the political agenda (activism) than to do some serious work on trying to find out how climate really works. It is easy to find examples of this in prestigious journals like Nature, Science and The Lancet for example. And it is even more obvious in the statemens of various academic societies around the world.

Suddenly this kind of publishing is OK. Why? Is PN-theory the new (old) philosophy that not only claims to explain it, but in fact also legitimize it?

Hans von Storch said...

Ingno, for me PN is an explanation, not an excuse. I have not seen any explicit efforts to employ the concept of postnormal science in the direction of "legitimization", and I would not expect most of the activist scientists to think about these issues. But who has read everything? Did you come across such scholarly texts? - Hans

Georg Hoffmann said...

But still it's Nietzsche not Neitzsche. Even if I dont speak about it.

Hans von Storch said...

Georg, that is the 2nd niedersächsische Vokalverschiebung, introduced by the English King Georg shortly before the Hannover Kingdom was disolved by Prussia. It applies whenever an English person is adding an "ean" to a noun. The response was the mentioned pronvincialization of Hannover.

ingno said...

HvS, #9,

Obviously, Jerome Ravetz is saying not only that PNS is a description, but that it is an appropriate way of doing research when "facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent.".
I have read some of his texts, and also from Hulme, and I have no doubt that their philosophy is meant to be a justification for downplaying the science and upbeating the activism among scientists.

Here are a couple of links that gives the gist of PNS-philosophy (seen through american eyes though)

Anonymous said...

@Hans Von Storch #11

Bingo! ;-)


Hans von Storch said...

Since Jerry is sometimes reading this blog, maybe he will answer himself? In any case, he is scheduled for a visit to Hamburg in may 2011, which will allow a direct exchange on this. When reading his booklet
> Ravetz, J., 2006: The no-nonsense guide to science, New Internationalist, Oxford, ISBN 10:904456-46-4, 132 pp
I did not fall over arguments in favour of post-normal science, but ideas about doing science once the science finds itself in a postnormal situation. Which is the problem we are facing now , since the postnormal situation will not disappear in the next years, maybe even decades. - Hans

Anonymous said...

On 3sat (german TV) Mr Von Storch says:

There have been exaggerations, also by climate scientists. (not the exact words)

Mr Rahmstorf says:

There have been no exaggerations at all. On the contrary things are much worse than we thought. (not the exact words)

My opinion:

One of the them doesn't tell the truth. And both are very popular climate scientists.

From a post normal point of view there is no doubt that sceptics must be silenced. Isn't it King George?


"Many consider post-normal science an attempt to ignore proper scientific methods in an attempt to substitute inferior methodology in service of political goals."

Trau schau wau ...


ingno said...

This discussion reminds me of the discussion with Thomas Kuhn. Kuhn claimed that he only gave a description of science, but the critics (Popper, Lakatos) claimed that it contained a a normative element. I think the critics had a point. I mean, suppose a young PhD student asked Kuhn how he or she should conduct science. Just by naming normal science "normal science" Kuhn cannot really avoid answering: "Do normal science!" So his description becomes normative.

So here are some questions for J. Ravetz: How should a young PhD student that is interested in climate conduct his or her research? Should it aim at finding out the truth about it, or is it "quality" that is central? If the latter, how is "quality" defined? As something that is rethorically persuasive, or as something that is well corroborated with observations?

Zajko said...

I agree there is a latent normative element in many social theories (for PNS it can also be explicit), but I would not go as far as to say that the PNS/Hulme (and I hesitate to lump them together) philosophy "is meant to be a justification for downplaying the science and upbeating the activism among scientists." Instead, as I see it, there is a recognition that science (especially PNS) cannot be so easily demarcated against other domains, that truth is not so straight forward.
Sure, this sort of theory grants science a lot less autonomy than the orthodox/mythic view. In that sense you could say it makes situations like politicized climate science less surprising, more "normal", and activism among scientists more understandable. I wouldn't go as far as to call it a justification though, and I seem to remember that a few authors who have cited PNS have also called, in various ways, for the depoliticization of climate science. Views such as those offered by Hulme, PNS, STS, make politicized science easier to spot. We expect to see it in a situation such as the climate debate, thus (ideally) it makes it harder for "experts" to hide behind the veil of objectivity. Even if we don't expect science to be entirely autonomous, we can still work to make it relatively so.
So yes, I'd say these theories are normative in a sense, but also a good tool for critique.
I'm going to leave the issue of "quality" vs "truth" alone for now though.

Werner Krauss said...

@ingno #12

the source you recommend is not a good one to learn about post normal science:

It's just stupid hate speech. Here on klimazwiebel we do not argue that all skeptics are paid by the oil industry and have a right wing agenda. Consequently, one should not argue that Mr. Ravetz is doing the dirty job of the Greens; that post normal science serves Mike Hulme's socialist agenda, and that post normal science is close to Hitler's, Stalin's and Machiavelli's understanding of science.
In case you are REALLY interested in post normal science, just try to find out its qualities. I am sure you will find something you didn't know before. This is a much more productive attitude than weaving those socialist-green-whatever conspiracy theories.

Georg Hoffmann said...

Hans, and after the war (yes, I mentioned the war) they didnt change this back? I mean the ei vs ie thing?