Excerpts from Freeman Dyson’s interview in the 2017 documentary “The Uncertainty has Settled.“
Watch: The Freeman Dyson interview part of the documentary is from 1:09:00 – 1:14:00]
Dutch filmmaker Marijn Poels: Freeman Dyson, a living legend in the fields of mathematics and physics. 93 years old. He was one of the first scientists in the 70s who started to investigate climate change.
Dyson excerpts: I was there I think around 1970 to 1980. So this was a very active group of not just climate experts, we tried to measure everything and to see what the effects of carbon dioxide really are in the real world. Then there was another group of people, mostly in Colorado, who did computer calculations. Looking at the climate from a theoretical point of view. And then, of course, there became a political fight, which was these groups would get the money and so, in the end, everything is decided, of course, by who gets the money and, so the people in Colorado won. It’s a very dangerous game when you work with a computer model for years and years and years always improving the model. In the end, you end up believing it. It’s very difficult to remain objective.
Dyson: “In the end, everything is decided by who gets the money.”
They (climate models) are wrong. It’s very simple. They are wrong. They disagree with the observations. Nature ought to be the deciding voice. The observations should tell you in the end, who is right and who is wrong. But those people don’t look at the observations. They are in the world of their own and the climate model is a very good tool for understanding climate, but a very bad tool for predicting climate.
I don’t say they’re dishonest. I think they are inevitably influenced by the fact that they live by scaring the public, that if they did not scare the public they wouldn’t get support from the government.
Generally speaking, the two kinds of information there are observations. And there are theories. So generally speaking you can believe the observations. And you don’t have to believe the theories. I think that’s the most useful guide. The observations of the greening of the planet are very clear.
The theories of climate are very confused.
We’re evolved in small tribes hunting in the forest, competing with each other. And under those conditions, the most important thing was to have people who were totally loyal to the tribe. And whether their beliefs were right or wrong was not so important, as long as they believe the same things, they would survive.
To be with the herd, thinking the same thoughts as other people is built into our nature, and it’s still more important to build belong to the tribe than it is to speak the truth. Scientists are not different from other people. We have our tribes also.
Next Poels makes his way to Princeton where he meets with “living legend” Princeton physicist Freeman Dyson, one of the leading skeptic voices on man-made climate change.
Dyson has harsh, critical words for climate science and the models they rely on (1:10:30). He calls the science of climate modeling a “very dangerous game”, adding:
When you work with a computer model for years and years and years – always improving the model – in the end you end up believing it. […] It’s very difficult to remain objective.”
Models “wrong”…”disagree with observations”
On why we should not trust the models, Dyson says flat out: “Because they’re wrong. It’s very simple. They’re wrong.” Dyson says they “disagree with observations”. He then commented on modeling scientists:
Those people don’t look at observations. They are in a world of their own.”
“Scaring the public”
The 93-year old Princeton professor also notes that although the models are “very good tools for understanding climate”, they are a “very bad tool for predicting climate” and that these scientists “live by scaring the public”.
Climate theories are “very confused”
Unfortunately the thing has become so political it’s no longer science when you have strong political dogmas, as you say, on both sides.”
Overall Dyson advises that we need to believe the observations and pointed out that “the theories of climate are very confused.”
Herd, tribal mentality
He also told Poels a large sociological part of the problem is that climate scientists have in large part gotten caught in herd and tribal mentality.
It’s still more important to belong to the tribe than to it is to speak the truth.”
Freeman Dyson: Quotable Quotes: ‘We now have academic snobbery, the snobbery of people who think that just because they work at a university and have a Ph.D. after their name they are a superior breed and are entitled to despise others’