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Ask The Skeptics: The Cottage Ghost, Global Warming PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   

(Editor's Note: If you wish to contribute a question to Ask The Skeptics, please write an email to Swift@Randi.org. Questions may be edited for brevity, and frequently asked questions may be edited together so that the resulting query is representative. All questions shall be published anonymously. If you have an answer for this week's questioners, please supply it below.)

 

Dear Swift:

My mother has always been a hard-headed realist. (She does attend Methodist church off and on, but that's more a matter of upbringing than anything else.) She is a stubborn, no-nonsense lady and a hard worker, and she's always kept her wits about her. She is also twice-widowed - the first time when my father died in 1976 (sudden heart attack), and again when her second husband, Rupert, died in 2007 (another heart attack). Mother is 74 now and just beginning to slow down, and I'm concerned about a habit she's developed since Rupert's death.

Rupert died in the fall, just after he and mother returned from their summer cottage in upstate New York. She was crushed, and she stayed that way. In 2008, mother forwent her usual trip to the cottage and stayed home in New Jersey. This year she decided she wanted to go again. She thought it might shake her out of her grief -- which, troublingly, hadn't abated much in the nearly two years since Rupert's death. I joined her there in July for a week and a half, and discovered a distressing thing: she was having nightly, hour-long conversations with what she believed was Rupert's ghost. These conversations weren't merely monologues. They were full-fledged, apparently reciprocal dialogues.

My mother has never believed in ghosts before, which is the first thing that disturbs me. The second thing that disturbs me is that, before, she would have disapproved of anyone making such fanciful claims, but she is completely unembarrassed about this now -- she is frank about Rupert's presence in the cottage and doesn't see why anyone would think it's weird. Third, I am disturbed because mother has effectively stopped grieving. Where she was depressed, she's now almost ebullient. Manic, even. Mother has never been manic before.

So I'm torn. Half of me wants to think that mother has suddenly embraced irrationality, and that this is an intellectual thing that demands frank, skeptical discussion. The other half of me suspects that this may be an actual medical issue. If it's the latter, I'm worried that I've already mangled the situation by trying to talk mother out of her delusion last summer. Have you or anyone at the JREF ever encountered a similar situation?

Thank you,

- Concerned About Mom

 

Dear CAM:

No, we haven't encountered a similar situation. Which is why you should get in touch with a medical professional or grief counselor before spending our two cents.

If you do wish to spend our two cents, here they are: Abandon "frank skeptical discussion." Your mom doesn't sound like someone who's lived her life prancing through the intellectual wilderness, waiting for a noble skeptic to whisk her home to terra firma. She sounds like a lady who's behaving this way because she needs to. Which isn't to say the present situation is acceptable. I'm just saying that what she requires isn't a dose of skepticism.

This is surely an extremely painful situation for you, and objectivity will not come easily. Watching a parent change so profoundly, so quickly, can make one feel completely unmoored from anything solid or sure. So be careful. Try not to behave rashly, or try to force your mother into waking up and seeing reality because it would be more comfortable for you if she did so. She's not talking to Rupert's shade because she's made a carefully considered conversion to spiritualism, and she won't cease because of a carefully considered conversion to skepticism.

The one bright spot: your mother seems willing to talk. At the moment, she's talking to a dead person. But maybe, slowly, you can convince her to talk to you instead. After you speak with a professional, try to set aside a goodly amount of down-time where you and your mom can chat, shoot the breeze, and discuss whatever might come up in a low-pressure environment -- precisely the kind of environment that you couldn't create earlier this year, when you were so surprised by your mom's sudden turn that you tried arguing Rupert's ghost out of the summer cottage. Ignoring that subject completely, ask your mom how she's feeling, what life is like without Rupert, what she misses, what she likes. If she can drop the manic thing and talk with you about what's really going on, maybe all will turn out for the better without too much professional intervention. In the meantime, stay cool, stay calm, watch her carefully, remain available, and seek help. That probably won't make the problem disappear all at once, but it's the best way to encourage its diminution over time.

(And remember: If she does suddenly lose faith in Rupert's ghost, her grief will likely return full-force. Be prepared for that.)

 

Hey! Why the **** don't you turn all that skepticism of yours towards the farce known as Anthropogenic Global Warming? Guess your liberal bias prevents you from questioning your lefty party line. Too bad!

- One Of The Gazillion Well-Meaning Earthlings Who've Sent The JREF Profanity-Strewn Letters On This Topic


Dear Earthling:

You're not asking for advice, so technically your letter shouldn't appear here. However, we get a lot of letters like yours -- every day -- and it might be best to put the issue on the record and have done with it. Here's what Randi has to say: "It's not our purview, and it's outside our area of expertise. The end!"

I'll elaborate on that by drawing what will hopefully be a meaningful contrast between Anthropogenic Global Warming and the reading of Tarot cards, or "cartomancy."

Although millions of people all over the world believe in the efficacy of cartomancy, to our knowledge there are no cartomancers who are serious scientists. Nor are there serious scientists for whom cartomancy is a primary area of study, because there is no controversy within the scientific community surrounding the efficacy of cartomancy. Belief in cartomancy's efficacy is silly on its face, because not a single reputable source has ever offered data suggesting that cartomancy works, and because no one has ever hypothesized even a half-rational mechanism by which cartomancy might work. So the JREF has an opinion on cartomancy: it is probably a waste of your time. (And if you believe otherwise, you should click here.)

Now, hundreds of millions of people all over the world believe in the reality of Anthropogenic Global Warming, and some of them are serious scientists. There are many scientists for whom AGW is a primary area of study, and there is considerable controversy within the scientific community surrounding AGW's reality. Belief in AGW may be silly, as far as we know, but it is not silly on its face, because the thin (and fragile) envelope of gas surrounding our homeworld is mysterious even to those who study it, and those who do study it seem to argue a lot. Since people who are more scientifically literate than we cannot agree about AGW, we have no official opinion on it, save this: Be skeptical of everything.

That said, Earthling, you should bear in mind an old country saying: whenever you point a finger, there are three pointed straight backatcha. Are you a climatological genius for whom the workings of the planet's atmosphere are clear as... air? If so, please collect your Nobel immediately. (And why aren't you writing for us?) If you're not a climatological genius, try being a little less smug. Seriously. You sound like a jerk.

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@CAM
written by CasaRojo, December 06, 2009
My mother is 77 and while I am unaware of her actually conversing with spirits she does have some, let's call it, diminished capacity. And yes, it's very concerning. A friend of mine that knows about these things has suggested that there may be some sort of dementia involved. I have been reading about dementia and how to deal with disturbing situations and one thing is not to make a big deal out of them to my mom. IOW don't argue or try to correct them if what they're doing is not physically endangering anyone. You may want to simply play along. so to speak. Ask her questions about what she's experiencing and accept what she tells you as her perceptions. Yes, speak with a professional about your specific situation and I wish the best for you and your mother.
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written by sailor, December 06, 2009
With regard to your comment on AGW, the effect of your answer is to give the impression that AGW is a highly controversial subject with a large number of scientists on both sides of the issue. This is not exactly what you said, but that is the emotional effect of your reply.

As far as I can tell this is far from the situation, from everything I read the vast majority of climatologists believe the evidence of AGW is overwhelming, at least to the point they seem able to say that the chance of AGW not being real is probably not much more than 10%

I think it is entirely reasonable, since there some uncertainty, to say it is outside Purview, but I don't think you should give the impression that scientists are evenly split on the issue.
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I HAVE seen similar cases to the Cottage Ghost...
written by Pinkymcfatfat, December 06, 2009
I've been in the med game for years, and I HAVE seen similar cases to the lady who is seeing and speaking to a ghost...In my opinion, you really need to take her to a Doc.

I can't give you a diagnosis, but, off the top of my head, it could be anything from Alzheimer's to a brain tumor.

My own mother in law (a brilliant former early education specialist) has vascular dementia at the ripe old age of 55. She 'sees' people coming in and out of her house and yard stealing things from her and being verbally abusive toward her. Some of these folks are LONG dead, others are dopplegangers of her own children. Just two months back she had a particularly bad patch in which she claimed my husbands younger brother (a scientist currently living in Ghana) appeared in her house in Pennsylvania, yelled at her and stole articles from her safe (it's been empty for a decade).

She proceeded to call the state police...My father in law is at his wits end. He himself is a retired scientist and this has thrown him for a loop. He's used to finding solutions and his wife is beyond any help that can currently be given for her condition.

I feel for you. Dealing with someone who is ill is bad enough, but when their mental status has changed, it's MUCH more complicated. Please realize though that if she does have a mental illness, you probably will NOT be able to talk her out of her delusions. If there is any good news in this, it's that her delusion is pleasant...If their isn't anything that can be done about it, I say go with it. Let her talk to Rupert and DON'T argue about it.

I remember when delusional patients were constantly 'reoriented to reality', it only made them upset and bewildered. Now, if someone is 'out of it' or 'pleasantly confused', we let them go with it, as long as it is not harmful. I had a patient under my care for almost 4 years who was delusional and insisted I was her only daughter who had died in the 1970's (we did have a certain amount of physical resemblance). It brought her great comfort that 'Karen' had suddenly returned to care for her. I did not correct her and let her call me 'Karen'. As our relationship continued over the next few years, I bought her Mother's Day cards, birthday cards, and when I was pregnant with my first child, I let her be excited in what she perceived to be her first grandchild, and she did attend the christening. When she was on her death bed I was the only one their with her and it made her happy.

It's odd to those who have never cared for a person who reality has fled from, but sometimes the truth realy does hurt an individual.
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written by MadScientist, December 06, 2009
Like Pinkymcfatfat, I've seen a lot of similar behavior to CAM's mom - mostly in war veterans and accident victims. Some just seem to clam up and invent their own little world. It is very distinct from various forms of dementia, so I doubt it is dementia at all. I would suggest finding someone reputable who deals with this phenomenon for a living, and someone who works scientifically and publishes in recognized scientific journals. There are far too many quacks out there pretending to have a cure for post-traumatic stress disorder and just about anything else.
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written by Kajabla61, December 06, 2009
Read the JREF motto at the top of the web page.

AGW does not rely on any paranormal or supernatural ideas for any explanation of cause or effect. It also is not based on a pseudoscience, climatology is a well established branch of geology.

You have been told, on more than one occasion, that JREF does not take a stand on developing issues of science.

Grow up and stop harassing people with your politically motivated spam.
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Sorry...
written by Kajabla61, December 06, 2009
previous post was supposed to be titled: Angry, Childish Earthling
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Unfinished business
written by jcwept, December 06, 2009
Your mother's need to continue to speak with Rupert overrides any other consideration. Remember the stages of grief; ie denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance - then mourning. Like many bereaved people, your mother is stalled at the denial stage. If I were in your position, my approach would be to acknowledge her need to act out her unfinished business with Rupert, while making it clear that I wasn't 'humoring' her. I would facilitate her roleplay in the hope she would recognize it for what it is. Ask her about her discussions with Rupert, if she wishes to share them: presumably they are rational.

At least she isn't in the same state as drmab99.
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written by Otara, December 06, 2009
Stages of grief are pop psychology terms and generally trying to be a counsellor for family is asking for trouble, let alone for issues like this where significant mental health issues may be present.

I agree a professional would be the best move, but wouldnt worry too much at this stage, theres a range of possibilities. Just because she says she's 'really' taking to him, doesnt mean she necessarily really believes that.
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Test, observe, report
written by gee4orce, December 06, 2009
Whatever is happening here I think it's a coping mechanism that's seems to genuinely have helped this lady come to terms with her grief. What is worse - confront cold, hard reality, or live out ones remaining years in a conformable delusion ?

My great-grandma used to say that at night she could hear voices of people who were long dead - she didn't find this frightening, but instead took comfort from it. I don't really see the benefit of trying to convince this lady that she's actually loosing her mind…

Also, I think Rupert presents a unique opportunity to test whether or not there is something genuinely paranormal going on.

Would it be possible to research Rupert's history and find a fact about his past that your mother would be unlikely to know ? Then as her if she can remember such-and-such, and ask her to ask Rupert if he knows. If the answer you get back is correct then it's possible you may be encountering a genuine paranormal phenomena.

We should be sceptical - but remember that doesn't mean blind to new possibilities and truths. We just need to be convinced by the evidence.
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written by Lee, December 07, 2009
@Concerned About Mom:
It is saddening, but possible, that your mother is falling prey to senile dementia or similar. Simply put, she may have mentally retreated to a more comfortable time, a time when Rupert was still alive. Does she acknowledge his death? Of course, if she knows she is speaking with a dead person, then my theory flies out the window; but it goes to show that this is the primary weapon for the John Edwards' of the world: grief.



Moving on to the topic of AGW:
With regard to your comment on AGW, the effect of your answer is to give the impression that AGW is a highly controversial subject with a large number of scientists on both sides of the issue. This is not exactly what you said, but that is the emotional effect of your reply.
This is actually close to the truth. When you cut out all the politicians and other vocal but non-knowledgeable windbags, there is actually a very intense debate regarding the science of the issue. This debate is of course integral to scientific method itself, but has recently come to a head with the release of a large swathe of emails from the CRU (the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, England) which make mention of 'hiding the decline' on temperature reconstructions from proxy data (tree rings and the like), a 'trick' of mixing proxy data with real temperature measurements is order to give the impression of a sharp increase in temperatures, suppression of requests for source data, removal of such events as the 'medieval warm period' from historical reconstructions... even an email with the subject celebrating the death of a climate sceptic (John Daly).

In short, there is debate aplenty revolving around AGW, on numerous aspects of the science.

That said, this forum is not the ideal place to debate this, I only bring it up because it saddens me to see genuine scepticism presented in a manner that makes said scepticism appear as nothing more than a conspiracy theory.



And what's wrong with pop psychology on a public forum? It's a lot more helpful than your post, sweetie.
One brand of non-information is just as useless as any other. Otherwise, we may as well endorse any old grief counselling method... including spirit talking crap.
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written by Otara, December 07, 2009
Not that this ever helps a conversation online, for what its worth I'm a psychologist in real life, and you'll note I am very carefully _not_ trying to diagnose what the real story is here, particularly given its probably outside my area of expertise even with that qualification.

This is a skeptical forum, giving advice here is generally expected to be based on research rather than things like pop psychology which is generally mild and sometimes extreme quackery. 'First do no harm' is also the primary rule when giving advice about potential mental health or medical issues, so 'saying nothing' other than to suggest consulting a professional is often the best course of action in these situations, particularly given the limited information and the public setting.
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written by Rustylizard, December 07, 2009
Randi’s statement that anthropogenic global warming is "not our purview, and it's outside our area of expertise. The end!" makes good sense. For those interested in the subject, information can easily be found elsewhere.
For example, BBC has an article at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/sci...76286.stm. It covers ten related topics (views by skeptics and skeptics skeptical of skeptics). A large selection of related web sites and blogs is listed there as well.
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Apologies
written by Rustylizard, December 07, 2009
For some reason, the link I posted above does not take me to that web page. If interesed, you can go to the main BBC news page (www.bbc.co.uk/). The article is under a heading called Copenhagen Summit 2009, and it is entitled The main Challenges Raised by Climate Skeptics. Sorry. smilies/tongue.gif
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written by Mark P, December 07, 2009
I am also strongly of the opinion that AGM is a beat-up, but JREF's interest should only extend to woo and anti-science. There are proper forums for debating on the scientific evidence.

I vote all Global Warming material be deleted as soon as it appears. It is only going to lead to drive-by flamings.
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written by Steve Packard, December 07, 2009
On the topic of Global Warming, I think you could call me a skeptic on that topic. I'm not saying that I don't believe it is happening (it clearly is) or that humans contribute to it (human activity is undoubtedly a part), but a lot of the claims being made about the upcoming disastrous effects in the near term, are at the very least, overstatements or cherry picking of the data. That includes Al Gore's rhetoric. It's not that it's outright lies, but he tends to use very slanted data.

The one thing I've concluded, based on what I've read of the research and science is that there are very few in the public movement willing to admit that there is an enormous degree of uncertainty in the projections. Climate is inherently chaotic and the projections make a lot of assumptions. Predicting what will happen in 30 years is not easy. A few factors could change things a lot. We can extrapolate how things are going now, but what if there is an economic collapse in China and a huge volcanic eruption and a few major El Nino cycles. That would change everything, and you can't predict those kind of things.

The fact of the matter is that as things currently stand, they can't even reliably predict the El Nino/La Nina cycle, and that's trivial compared to global climate.

That is not to say that we should not do things to try to mitigate human contributions, but anyone who tells you we need to get X number by X date is lying, because we don't have that kind of confidence. Anyone who says that by year X we will have the sea level rise by X feet and X numbers of hurricanes is also lying. They don't know.

One thing nobody wants to talk about is that the current proposals for emissions cuts don't actually do much of anything. The amount of greenhouse gas that human society contributes in a year is actually fairly trivial. It adds up, so that the amount contributed in a century is huge, but cutting it by 20% per year only means that what would have taken 8 years to do will take 10 instead. That's not an enormous difference. Current proposals would limit emissions to something like 2004 levels for the industrial world. That's not a huge cut. Consider the growth of those excluded, and the total net reduction does not mean spit.

Most of the warming we will see in the next few decades to come is a result not of new emissions into the atmosphere but of what is already there. The UN panel on Climate Change concluded that we're already "committed" to 2 degrees at least. There is a delay in the effects of greenhouse gases, in part due to the thermal mass of the atmosphere and water on earth. If we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, all together, we would still see continued warming. The total effects of the emissions from all the way back to World War II have not yet been fully realized.

Nobody wants to be the one to say "it's too late." It's true that we may be able to change things a little, but only a little. Nothing we do now is going to change the fact that there's more warming lined up in the queue thanks to what we did years ago. What we do not will impact how much things change in years to come, but the results won't be for a while, and the magnitude remains unclear. We're still not sure how much we've already "committed" to.

But then there's yet another topic, which involves whether or not most of the "solutions" offered really mean anything. Most don't. They're feel good things, but a lot of major sources of Co2 emissions and other greenhouse gas emissions go unnoticed because they're not as "sexy." You hear a lot of people complaining about airplanes, don't you? How about cement manufacturing? Or underground coal fires? Don't hear so much do you? Those are both bigger sources than aviation. Non-energy sources get almost no attention. Wind and solar power claims are largely inflated. There is so much bull in that area, it's hard to know where to even start.
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written by Otara, December 07, 2009
Wats the best way to guarantee a topic will be discussed to death on the internet? Say its offtopic.

I dont particularly care whether its on topic or off topic for the entire forum, what I mind is when people keep inserting it into topics that clearly werent related to it and then hijack the original topic as a result.

But the only way that kind of thing gets stopped is by active moderation or extreme flames. Im kidding about the flames, they tend to guarantee it will be discussed forever.
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It really concerns me...
written by Alencon, December 07, 2009
It really concerns me that so many people continue to view Global Warming as a matter of political opinion.

That the earth is warming is an observable fact. Just check the retreat of the glaciers. What's unclear is (1) whether human activity is having any significant effect on the warming trend, (2) if so, what can we do about it and (3) should we do anything about it or would the cure be worse than the disease?

Recently #1 appears to be less and less a question. The prevailing opinion by the experts appears to be that greenhouse emissions are having an impact.

Yet I continue to see people get violent over this thing as if it's some sort of political conspiracy. It's sort of like deciding the aircraft mechanic that tells you your airplane needs an overhaul or you're going to land VERY hard the next time is a dad blamed socialist because his conclusion is inconvenient to your travel plans.

When did it become acceptable in this country to replace expert analysis with uninformed opinion? I make it a rule to listen to my dentist,doctor and lawyer. Why won't we listen to the experts on this topic?
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written by Lee, December 08, 2009
That the earth is warming is an observable fact. Just check the retreat of the glaciers.
Not quite, the temperature has plateaued since about 2001 (prompting many climate model modifications), and while various glaciers are retreating, others are advancing:

http://www.iceagenow.com/List_of_Expanding_Glaciers.htm
(of particular note is the article showing a fjord being cut off from the sea by the Hubbard Glacier)

Also, regarding your numbered points:
1) is the subject of intense investigation, due to the fact that human contributions are a tiny fraction of the total available CO2, and also because CO2 does not even have much impact on the warming of the atmosphere. Of far higher 'warming power' is water vapour, which is vastly more prevalent in the atmosphere (up to 4% or so of the atmosphere, though highly variable by location) and also exerts more influence molecule for molecule.

As you note, this is not a matter of politics, but your points numbers 2 and 3 are. These are the sources of the flame-fests and political wranglings, but until #1 is better understood, the debates are largely academic. At least, they should be.
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written by monkeybutler, December 08, 2009
Oh dear, Lee. Not those two old chestnuts.

This article:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=seven-answers-to-climate-contrarian-nonsense
should put you straight on the water vapour issue (and is good reading on a few other common misconceptions too, including the 2001 plateau issue - or non-issue, as is actually the case).

And this one:
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/05/himalaya-glaciers-growing-global-warming-climate-change-study.php
should cover why growing glaciers in one location are actually very good evidence of warming elsewhere.

And with regard to your earlier post, I am afraid you are wrong again. The consensus among scientists is that AGW is real. There is no real "debate", just smoke and mirrors blown up by those with ulterior motives*. Such as the cherry-picking of phrases from the East Anglia emails to paint things in as worse a light as possible. Why did the data need to be manipulated? Because if it was presented as is, deniers would cherry pick at that too. I don't agree with the way they handled things, I admit, but I can see why they did it - because some people will stop at nothing to try and get people to believe there's nothing to worry about because it suits them to do so.

Climate change is an incredibly complex issue, which is why I can see why it's so easy for confusion to arise and why most people won't want to sift through argument and counterargument. People see cold weather and can't accept that warming is taking place, or hear that some glaciers are growing and can't understand how that's possible. But at the heart of it is some good, solid science and once you grasp the full picture it's as likely real as homeopathy is false.

*And that's real ulterior motives such as the continued sale of fossil fuels and maintenance of the status quo, not paranoid delusional motives such as suggesting it's all a global left-wing conspiracy to raise taxes and make everyone live in caves. For example, It's no surprise that oil-rich Saudi Arabia are now claiming the case for AGW is "in tatters" after the email leak. Of course it isn't, but they'd be more than happy for everyone to believe that. Follow the real money, not the conspiracy money, see who's backing what mouthpiece, and it pretty soon becomes apparent that those lobbying against AGW might not always be doing so from a purely altruistic position.
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Don't rule out bi-polar disorder
written by tkmiller67, December 08, 2009
Dear Concerned About Mom,
I am in my early 40s and have bi-polar disorder which was misdiagnosed as depression and treated incorrectly for about the last 10 years. One of the defining characteristics of untreated bi-polar disorder which for me developed recently and made me seek further diagnosis was seeing and hearing things that others didn't. Not big things like I thought I saw a ghost but small, fleeting shadows and sounds. Medications used to treat Alzheimers, depression and bi-polar disorder like Abilify actually help this unusual symptom so I agree with the several here who say please take your mother to see a doctor and or psychiatrist who is qualified to treat dimentia and depression.
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written by parmel, December 08, 2009
My wife is a psychiatrist and she has often spoken to me about grieving people who have descended into severe depression. And severe depression can present present as psychosis. When seen by untrained personnel (non-psychiatrist M.D.'s like internists, or "grief counselors") the diagnosis they come up with is senile dementia - strange how often untrained personnel come up with that diagnosis in older people after the loss of a family member. I'm not qualified to say but most likely your mother doesn't have Alzheimer's disease, a brain tumor, or senile dementia. And most likely she can be substantially helped with an anti-depressant or some other drug. Please take her to a psychiatrist, not a psychologist or grief counselor - they probably won't be able to help her. Good luck.
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@monkeybutler
written by Lee, December 09, 2009
The fact that your first link actually contains the phrase 'contrarian nonsense' should be your first warning. Remember, scepticism is integral to science itself, and thus anything can be questioned without such name calling. No one gets to say 'this is so' about any theory. Reading on, I see the trend continues with all climate sceptics dubbed 'contrarians, naysayers and denialists'. Apparently, the author is fine with disbelief of anything except climate science; to my mind, this displays a bias.

A bias which is exemplified in his language: generalising said people that disagree with AGW as either being uninformed, or having 'weak, long disproven arguments about supposed weaknesses'. Look at that loaded language! By using the words 'supposed weaknesses' he assumes the weaknesses not to exist. Worse yet, he commits a common logical fallacy: by saying "What distinguishes the true naysayers is an unwavering dedication to denying the need for action on the problem", he is 'begging the question' - by dismissing those making the criticisms as 'naysayers' he is assuming that there is a genuine need for action, i.e. he is dismissing the critics by assuming they are wrong. Remember, if the science behind the issue is flawed, then the 'need for action' is nonexistent.

I am not going to refute the article point for point, but will look at the first as it directly counters my statement re water vapour. Most of the test makes no mention of H2O, instead hyping the impact and anthropogenic source of CO2. Thus, most of it does not address the assertion that water vapour is the bigger contributor. what it does say includes "Contrarians frequently object that water vapor, not CO2, is the most abundant and powerful greenhouse gas; they insist that climate scientists routinely leave it out of their models. The latter is simply untrue: from Arrhenius on, climatologists have incorporated water vapor into their models." Note that the author only attempts to refute the latter claim. Unfortunately, the rebuttal is incorrect, as the common statement that CO2 forms 388ppm (0.04%) of the atmosphere is based on an assumed dry atmosphere. Also note the article then states "water vapor may “approximately double the increase in the greenhouse effect due to the added CO2 alone." Weasel words!

Additional reading on H2O in the atmosphere: http://wattsupwiththat.com/200...-on-temps/

As for the temperature plateau, Have a look at the following URL, demonstrating the outright tampering occurring with the original data. What you see is a plateau manually adjusted to become a steep increase.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/08/sticky-for-smoking-gun-at-darwin-zero/

As for your next comments, in any field of science there is ALWAYS debate; the very concept of a consensus is anathema to science. This relates back to the sceptical nature already mentioned. Moreover, dismissing the criticisms as irrelevant or incorrect demonstrates the fact that the debate is real, otherwise there would be nothing to refute.

You say "Why did the data need to be manipulated? Because if it was presented as is, deniers would cherry pick at that too." You have missed the point here. Data MUST be examined or 'cherry picked' as you put it for flaws. Science therefore MUST be transparent. The fact that it was hidden at all speaks to the illegitimacy of the practices used, and your justifications of this hiding and manipulation (and your dismissive, condescending language in general) speak eloquently of a non-sceptical view here.

Apologies for the excessively long post to those that are sick of the issue.
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written by monkeybutler, December 09, 2009
Lee,

You've completely misunderstood what "cherry pick" means in scientific terms, and certainly in this sense. I'm not suggesting that data not be seen - I'm as keen on full disclosure as anyone else. But with the caveat of full *understanding*. Critiquing points in data/text is not cherry picking - publishing ONLY those points without full explanation and understanding would be. What has occurred with the East Anglian emails is that phrases have been cherry picked to make it appear that there was some sort of subterfuge going on and suggest the entire case for AGW is fraudulent, whereas it was in fact merely efforts to present the data in the best way to make the case (there is nothing fraudulent in that, though as I said I would rather the unit had just presented everything in raw format at the time as well complete with explanations of why x appears to refute y but is in fact not - as I say, I can see why they didn't because then the AGW sceptics would railroad the debate into constantly looking at anomalies). For example, many AGW sceptics have leapt on the phrase "trick" that was in the emails, suggesting that somehow this means there is an illusion being done. No such thing. It's merely a way of saying this is a certain method of presenting the data in an eloquent way. Same with the tree ring issue. People have jumped all over that, saying that if it is being left out for certain eras but not others = the whole case is a sham. Of course that's not true at all - we know full well why tree ring data is unreliable for certain time periods and that it is reliable for others (and bear in mind that the tree ring data is just one source of info contributing to an overall picture, not the sole source). To leave out perfectly valid data would be ridiculous. To leave in data that is known to be corrupt (and the reasons why it would be corrupt) would be ridiculous. But the AGW sceptics want it all left in or left out - the former because they actually want to use known corrupt data to support their case, and the latter because they want known sound data ignored because it doesn't support their case. That's not good science.

This is the problem with AGW deniers - they claim to want all the evidence, yet always stop reading at the point where there's anything they can grasp to support their cause. Unfortunately, that's rarely the whole story. And to be honest, I'm not sure I'd base your research on one climate change sceptic's blog. Sure, read them too but also read around - there are lots of blogs and sites that will indicate why articles such as the WUWT ones are flawed. Such as this one, which points out the specific problems in your link (and notes that the author has been shown to be unreliable in the past, which always sets the alarm bells ringing about bias):

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/12/willis_eschenbach_caught_lying.php

Oh, and one final request - please don't use arguments such as having to say something is incorrect indicates the debate is real. That's absolute nonsense. If I claimed a refridgerator was a dog and you told me it wasn't, would that make debate over what it was "real"? Of course not.

I echo the apologies for long posts, however.
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written by Stanfr, December 11, 2009
As an atmospheric scientist, it makes me want to vomit how the AGW 'debate' has been politicized. To keep this as brief as possible, I have just a couple short comments:
1) If you get all your information about AGW from internet sources written by people with major axes to grind, you're a fool.
2) Instead, I would highly recommend that you pay a visit to Alaska or your foavorite arctic location, and see for yourself how dramatic the changes are, then speak to the locals and ask how they feel about the changes. Or, just look at the loal changes; the huge pine beetle epedemic for example, which is largely a function of much warmer winters. When you can fully appreciate just how drastic these events are, you hopefully can begin to see through common sense that this is more than just a cyclical natural occurence.
3) Then, get yourself a couple texts in Physical Meteorology, and start reading. There is a common misunderstanding by those who have never done the reading or who didn't understand what they read, that becuase the atmosphere is "ridiculously complex" and the science so "poorly understood", that climate models just can't predict these events. That's a fallacy. You can roughly calculate the average temperature on earth with an extremely simple physical model involving just a few layers and some basic calculus. The physics/chemistry/math of radiative forcing is rock solid. While models won't necessarily be perfectly accurate, when the overwhelming results match what is happening via observations, you have to take notice...unless you have an axe to grind.
BTW, any discussion of CO2 ought to also include a discussion of the effects of rapid deforestation, which is another irrefutable fact.
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written by Aaron, December 12, 2009
JREF and the skeptical movement should be speaking out more about global warming anti-science. JREF and others weigh in on evolution all the time, but they're afraid of boldly standing up for science on climate change. Oil and coal companies, their front groups and the politicians who are in their back pocket are waging a tobacco-like misinformation campaign against science. We need skeptics to stand up for science and scientists.
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The irony
written by Diverted Chrome, December 17, 2009
Ironically, the troll writes
"Guess your liberal bias prevents you from questioning your lefty party line"
write after writing the word "global".

Makes it look like this person isn't smart enough to acknowledge the 191 other countries who share the atmosphere but for whom American party lines mean nothing. And where was this person before he overtly politicized what is, in the end, a scientific issue regardless of politics? Probably blissfully unaware. Some people think that sudden governmental awareness of a problem means a)The problem is new b)The problem is merely political. Jeez, have some sense dude.
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