Monday, December 21, 2009

Is Post Normal Science to Science what post Democracy is to Democracy.

When the technocrats presume to govern our lives have a problem with the population, they tend to ignore the population. (qv - The ratification of the Lisbon Treaty by Parliament's in France and Holland after conclusive No votes). This they describe as post-democracy. When the realities of governing get so complicated that the public cannot be allowed to influence policy as, they just wouldn't understand.

This position was put clearly by Peter Mandelson before becoming a European Commissioner whe he is reported as to have said
"The age of democracy is over. We are now in the post-democratic age"
during a speech in Poland.

Now it seems we have the scientific equivalent, Post-Normal Science. What do you do when the science doesn't add up, and the scientific method fails to arrive at your pre decided conclusions? Well you denounce science as out of date and invent a new concept.
"Post-Normal Science (PNS) is a new conception of the management of complex science-related issues. It focuses on aspects of problem-solving that tend to be neglected in traditional accounts of scientific practice: uncertainty, value loading, and a plurality of legitimate perspectives. PNS considers these elements as integral to science. By their inclusion in the framing of complex issues, PNS is able to provide a coherent framework for an extended participation in decision-making, based on the new tasks of quality assurance. "

You see the problem with climate alarmism is that it claims to be based on science, but when held to account under the traditional concept of the scientific method,
1. Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.
2. Formulation of an hypothesis to explain the phenomena. In physics, the hypothesis often takes the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.
3. Use of the hypothesis to predict the existence of other phenomena, or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.
4. Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent
experimenters and properly performed experiments.

It fails. So instead a new theory is required that allows for the problem of skewing evidence (qv The CRU emails).
The approach used by normal science to manage complex social and biophysical systems as if they were simple scientific exercises has brought us to our present mixture of intellectual triumph and socio-ecological peril.

So we need to change our comprehension of what distinguishes scientific truth. Got that?
"Under these new conditions, the appropriate style will no longer be rigid demonstration, but inclusive dialogue."

Yes, yes. Of course it will come as no surprise to discover that this paper in The Encyclopedia of Earth only refers to climate science,
"With PNS we are characterising the changes in science which will be necessary in this new century for our civilisation to become sustainable, and whereby worthy of survival".

So are the authors suggesting that anybody that fails to go along with their bowdlerisation of science as "worthy of survival"? Charming. And how do they propose my unworthiness should fail to survive? No doubt through drowning due to man induced sea level changes.

Methinks our civilisation doesn't need their approval, all it needs is the enlightenment method that has improved the lives of countless billons over the past few hundred years and will continue to do so.

Anyhow, who are these charlatans, these quack scientists?
Silvio Funtowicz is the lead author, and bugger me, what a surprise, when I google his name what do I find?
Silvio Funtowicz is a scientific officer at the Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen (IPSC), European Commission Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC).
His colleague is one Jerry Ravetz
Associate Fellow at the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilization at the University of Oxford. An organisation with Sir Crispin Tickell running its policy foresight program.
Better still its Director is
The Director is a lead author on Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
It hosts the Environmental Change Institute which is Funded through the EU'S Framework Program.

You get the picture.


Frank Davis said...

If you haven't already, you may like to read Beyond Debate? by Martin Cohen in a recent Times Higher Education Supplement. It touches on a number of the matters you're looking at here.

Frank Davis said...

I might add that the idea of a humanity "worthy of survival" reminds me of the Nazi concept of a "life not worthy of life".

Chuckles said...

An excellent post. The vacuity of Post-Normal Science requires a very bright spotlight.

Another oblique reference/admission to the genre here:

I commented at Bishop H the other day that much of the 'debate' in the comments on various blogs struck me as people talking past one another, and suggested that it was because the pro AGW set are talking from a Post-Normal viewpoint, while the non AGW set base their arguments on the scientific method.
There is little point in claiming that the scientific method is not being followed, when your opposite number has embraced that as a feature?

Gawain Towler said...

Chuckles, to be fair, it was in the comments at Bishop Hill I first heard of this bizarre concept. I sould have hat tipped, I meant to, my bad.

Chuckles said...


Not at all, happy you are posting on the subject. I believe the concept and its wider dissemination is important.



Budgie said...

So, science is the last frontier to fall? Philosophy, art, music, culture, religion, politics, have already succumbed to Hegel. Now instead of antithesis we have got synthesis even in science.

Our civilisation was built on 'cause and effect' (the 'enlightenment' mentioned by GT), or antithesis. When we truly give it up our civilisation's technological foundation will dissolve. And so our civilisation will be no more.

Post-Science said...

The follwoing is a brief introduction to Post-Science. For further information, please visit:
or the post-science student site:

Email: postscience (at)

An Introduction To Post-Science
Post-Science: The Minimum Knowledge For Being A Human

Post-science contains the solutions of value and software described in the patents: "Quantitative Supply And Demand Model Based On Infinite Spreadsheet" (Pat. No. 6,078,901) and "Completely Automated And Self-generating Software System" (Pat. No. 5,485,601). It also contains the solution of touch, collision without bouncing off. Today, no robot can touch; the robot finger bounces of a surface like a tennis ball bounces off a racket.

The solution of value is necessary for rational behavior. The solution of complete automated software explains life, which is characterized by complete automation and functions according the programming of DNA, a completely automated software.

Science has demonstrated the existence of non-violable laws of nature in physical science. The solution of value, being completely mathematically rigorous, is a non-violable law of nature in social science.

The solution of software imposes the requirement of permanent existence, which can be achieved through complete automation, specifically, through auto-updating in the completely automated software.

Without the guidance of behavior by the solution of value, human beings are not much different from animals and could even be considered the worst of all the beasts, having weapons from science. Ultimately, the meaning of life is in its value.

To understand the purpose of existence, human beings should know the design, or its absence, of their own creation or the origin of life. The discovery of the solution of completely automated software, of which DNA is a prime example, has made feasible the creation of living organisms by the programming of DNA.

Life science or the creation of life involves all the knowledge, particularly, physical and social sciences. For example, the value of a life, which is designed for permanent existence through the propagation of DNA, should be analyzed based on the expected consequences of its existence to infinity in time before its creation. Also, the solution of touch must be thoroughly understood before the creation of any living thing with the ability of touch.

In the process of their self-creation, humans will know from the design criteria the purpose of their existence. Self-creation is the ultimate wisdom of the universe, for what is self-created will be able to do anything the creators can do.

Budgie said...

Post Science - you are attempting "to get a conclusion in the imperative mood [values] out of premises in the indicative mood [facts alone] ... the thing is impossible" C S Lewis [brackets mine].

Hugh said...

Reply To Budgie and C S Lewis
”The earth is created as a paradise, but we have made it into a hell because of our ignorance of non-violable laws of nature. Nature teaches us these laws, NOT GOOD AND EVIL, and the requirement of permanence through pain and suffering or pleasure and happiness.” Post-Science vs. C. S. Lewis

"... judging what is good and evil, everyone considers his own advantage according to his own temperament..." Spinoza vs. C. S. Lewis

"Any mathematically rigorous relationship is a law of nature, but most relationships do not correspond to reality, which is infinite in time of space. Infinite future never arrives, value is not empirically verifiable. Value has to base its acceptance on mathematical rigorous derivation. This is Kant’s non-consequentialism." Post-Science Instructor

After over 40 years of post-science research and market testing, which predicted the S&L Crisis and the Subprime Woe, the post-science mood is getting imperative.

Student of Post-Science