Promising Crop of Climate Denial BS for 2013

They’re wheeling them all out, much of it in desperate response to the compelling Marcott et al graphics coming out:

I suppose each of these ought to be fisked. But who has time and can righteously do the fisking?

If there’s a single grain of sense in all this posturing I haven’t seen it. But it goes on. Remember, folks, what your National Academy says:

There is a strong, credible body of evidence, based on multiple lines of research, documenting that climate is changing and that these changes are in large part caused by human activities. While much remains to be learned, the core phenomenon, scientific questions, and hypotheses have been examined thoroughly and have stood firm in the face of serious scientific debate and careful evaluation of alternative explanations…

Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities.

Then consider why so much nonsense exists and thrives. It turns out to be important. And start collecting nominees for the 2013 Golden Horseshoe Award! It looks like it will be a crowded field again this year.

UPDATE: See also Peter Gleick’s reposting of the 255 signatory Science letter of 2010.


  1. You can nominate whoever you like, but you need to make a case.

    There are not two "sides", there are multiple camps. The simplification into two "sides" is polarizing and not helpful to the pursuit of truth.

    There is some argument that Marcott et al may have done something silly about the final uptick, which we know anyway from direct measurement is real. So that probably doesn't change the broad picture that is emerging from their work, which after all is unsurprising, pretty much is in line with what everybody else is finding. We should wait for their response, at least for a while, before drawing conclusions. Even at worst this is a very different class of BS than the anti-climatology zealots are so generously providing.

    I consider Stephan Lewandowsky a scholar and a gentleman, as well as a friend. That doesn't make him infallible, but I don't know of any major problems with his work.

    Both of them are addressing specific issues, as researchers ought to. There is no basis I can see for comparing them to obviously politically motivated sweeping attacks on the whole big picture.

  2. +1 mt

    However, I think in the end you will see why debunking a rebunk for the 100th or 1000th time is not a case of "But who has time and can righteously do the fisking?" but a case of no matter how often somebody does, it's not going anywhere.

    and this (not about any of the cleversides named in the post above, but their targets:

    Was it a terribly elitist and unkind thing to say? Sort of. Probably. But I’m not sure it matters, because none of those people are reading this column right now, or any column for that matter, because reading anything even remotely complex or analytical is something only 42 percent of the population enjoy doing on a regular basis, which is why most TV shows, all reality shows, many major media blogs and all of Fox News is scripted for a 5th-grade education/attention span. OMG LOL kittens! 19 babies having a worse day than you. WTF is up with Justin Timberlake’s hair?!?

    It is this bizarre, circular, catch-22 kind of question, asked almost exclusively by intellectual liberals because intellectual conservatives don’t actually exist, given how higher education leads to more developed critical thinking (you already know the vast majority of university professors and scientists identify as Democrat/progressive, right?) which leads straight to a more nimble, open-minded perspective. In short: The smarter you are, the less rigid/more liberal you become.

    Until you get old. Or rich. And scared. And you forget. And you clamp down, seize up, fossilize. And the GOP grabs you like a mold.

  3. Oops. Re Alternet extract, I do know some intellectual conservatives, and until recently was willing to make common ground with quite a few reasonable Republicans. So the blanket ID of ignorance with Republicans (or evangelicals either) is not helpful and exactly what I think mt is trying to get past. The point would have been better made without the slur.

  4. Not a regular reader but I've seen Morford be pretty good. But that rant was just mailed in, and indeed not helpful.

    I actually think about red America, as opposed to caricaturing it. It is not a culture of idiots as some urban folk like to make out. There is some ignorance, to be sure, and the fact of the anthrocene and its implications is certainly in that catgory. But the key to understanding the American right is that it has no patience for coherence. How you express yourself on any issue is a matter of ethnic pride, not of philosophy. They have no sense that they are "right" as opposed to "left", and when push comes to shove, "right" as opposed to "wrong". It's just "right" as in "the right stuff"; capturing the style of the culture.

    You don't make fun of Santa Claus in front of children, nor of the Bible in front of anyone, because it's just not the Way of Decent White Folk. Thinking is hubris, you just have to do what's "right".

    And though this is a very destructive path, it's based on love and a different sort of faith than credulity. It's faith in the culture and mores that have done this ethnic group so much good in the past. Which makes it easy for them to blame its inevitable and mounting failures on others. Which is tragic as much for them as it is for the rest of us.

    Also note that this sort of argument from loyalty, though particularly extreme in red America, is not especially invisible in other tribes!

    That's why we have to disagree from love, not from hate. And that's why we can.

  5. Professor Lewandowsky engaged with potential respondents to an online survey while the survey was still open. He and John Cook discussed the objectives of the survey and the desired outcome.

    This violates the norms of online market research as set forth by the Marketing Research Association, the UK MRS, CASRO and everything written on best practice and ethical conduct for online surveys ever written.

    And that is only the beginning of the misconduct engaged in by Professor Lewandowsky and his team.

    He presented different questions to different respondents depending on the site of origin of the respondent and merged the data. You cannot do that.

    Although he claims to have recruited from skeptic sites to find skeptics, in fact he recruited from climate activist sites. He had an assistant email requests to skeptic sites to put a link on their blog, but none did.

    His analysis of data is wrong. He attempts to use mathematical procedures on cell sizes of 4 respondents, etc. The lowest number amenable to the processes he wished to use is 38-and that has to be accompanied by an explicit explanation of the confidence interval and margin of error every time it is used.

    In his second paper he cherry picks comments and ends up calling Richard Betts of the UK Met Office a climate denier.

    There's more, but that's enough. Just the first item would be enough to throw both papers in the dustbin.

    Incendiary rubbish designed to prolong the flame wars.

  6. John Cook replies:

    The comments from Tom are very old. He's rehashing false talking points from last year that even most denier blogs abandoned months ago. For example:

    I had no role in the design or analysis of the "Moon Landing" research (LOG12). So claiming "He and John Cook discussed the objectives of the survey and the desired outcome" is a complete fabrication. Tom is imagining a conspiracy between Stephan and myself that doesn't exist.

    The LOG12 experiment employed counter-balancing, a common technique used by survey designers to ensure the order of the questions doesn't influence the result. Tom's comment "He presented different questions to different respondents depending on the site of origin of the respondent and merged the data" demonstrates that Tom lacks even this fundamental understanding of survey design. Recursive Fury documents how when Stephan posted the explanation of counter-balancing, climate denier blogs stopped posting the "different surveys to different sources" theory. Tom Fuller continues to post this outdated, debunked argument months later.

    Tom claims "Although he claims to have recruited from skeptic sites to find skeptics, in fact he recruited from climate activist sites". This issue was hashed out thoroughly online (and in our Recursive Fury paper), I find it incredulous that he persists with this line of argument. Stephan emailed 5 climate denier blogs an invitation to the survey. The climate denier blogs claim that Stephan never contacted skeptic sites is well documented in Recursive Fury.

    Tom demonstrates his understanding of statistics is even poorer than his understanding of survey design when he argues "His analysis of data is wrong. He attempts to use mathematical procedures on cell sizes of 4 respondents, etc." LOG12's results are based on a correlation between climate denial and conspiracy ideation across 1200 participants. Claims by critics that the result is based on a handful of extreme participants is false and demonstrates that they don't understand the methods employed in the paper. In actuality, you can remove the participants at the extreme end of the conspiracist scale and the correlation between climate denial and conspiracist ideation will still be statistically significant.

    Our paper does not even mention Richard Betts and to claim that we label him a conspiracy theorist is a misrepresentation. A comment by Betts is included in our raw data - the Supplementary Material that contains all the quotes we encountered that were relevant to various conspiracy theories. A quote in the raw data did not mean we are labelling the commenter a conspiracy theorist. We examine the quotes in more detail in our paper, identifying the various criteria associated with conspiracist ideation.

    [ via email. No idea how to get my avatar off the comment, sorry. - mt ]

  7. Mr. Cook, what you call 'counter-balancing' the rest of the world calls rotating responses, which is absolutely normal. Rotating questions is not, and if you use different questions for different classes of respondents you must note this and separate the data. That is survey hygiene 101. If skeptics quit busting your chops on it, it was from frustration, not satisfaction, with your reply.

    You and Lewandowsky discussed the survey online. And people who saw it had the power to then go and complete the survey. Lewandowsky cannot do that and remain an ethical practitioner. I don't care if you didn't co-author the survey. What Lewandowsky did was unethical.

    Your tapdancing on the invitation survey deserves everyone's contempt. It doesn't matter at all how many sites were invited to post a link. What matters is how many did. The survey respondents were recruited from your site and sites that share your point of view. Many pretended to be skeptics and fatally damaged the survey's results.

    And you are incompetent to even talk about this if you think the fact that you had 1200 respondents has anything at all to do with performing mathematical analysis of a cell with four responses.

    Why is Richard Betts complaining about your inclusion of his name (a violation of his privacy) in a prejudicial manner in your supplemental data is sleazy. You are obligated to protect the identity of all subjects in a social research project, whether they are respondents to a survey or not. The fact that you have names of real people in that Excel spreadsheet is a disgrace. You have joined the ranks of James Prall, which I'm sure doesn't bother you at all, but is just disgusting.

    I've spent a large part of my adult life trying to get people to accept online research as a methodology for getting data from respondents that they can rely on and trust. I've spent the same amount of time agitating for ethical practice and behavior by researchers.

    You're disgracing yourself and social science. You're also messing with the way I make my living. Either learn what the hell you're doing or stay the hell away from it.

  8. mt, Tom Fuller's comment is offensive.

    He does not speak for "the rest of the world" and he calls into question his own intentions when he joins the smear campaign to discredit SkepticalScience and John Cook.

    In particular, this particular member of "the rest of the world" finds this more than wrong.

    Nobody should have to answer this scurrilous campaign, which is simply an effort to discredit the success of SkepticalScience in crowdsourcing answers to common fake skeptics talking points in one convenient location over and over and over again.

  9. Ms. Anderson, whilst I certainly intended to confront Mr. Cook, I am sorry if you found my comments offensive.

    If you are a market research practitioner I assume you understand why I am offended by his actions. If you are not then perhaps you don't.

    By 'rest of the world' I meant those conversant with the principles and practices of market research. I definitely did not mean you.

    There is no 'scurrilous campaign' to 'smear' Cook and Lewandowsky. They did that to themselves. There are a number of people who object to being characterized as conspiracist deniers because they questioned, quite properly, Cook and Lewandowsky's incredibly shoddy survey work and analysis.

    Most of them are on the other side of the climate debate from you. That does not mean they are wrong on this.

  10. Scurrilous is a good word, and these guys have it down.

    Like most of them, I believe Tom Fuller is sincere, though. He's just motivated to be confused. As Feynman pointed out, the easiest person to fool is yourself. That doesn't mean the accusations hold water.

    I was torn as to whether to publish that. After all, the claims were substantive, and we want to create a space where it is safe to disagree.

    Fortunately John stepped up with a reasonable response and resolved my dilemma.

    I'm interested in where you think the line ought to be drawn. P3 has been moderating quite lightly and on the one hand, we've had excellent conversations. On the other, we still are far from critical mass, never mind a billion signatures.

  11. Tom, even presuming you have the details right, which I doubt, where do you suppose those "principles and practices" came from?

    I am not familiar with the details, but this seems like a "send in the clergy; they can move diagonally" type argument to me. Is it not actually plausible that a professor in psychology (and the peer panel reviewing his monograph) knows more about statistical reasoning than someone "trained in market research" does?

  12. For several weeks, the standard issue fake skeptics have been posting comments here there and everywhere claiming that John Cook and SkepticalScience are (a) incorrect, (b) corrupt, or (c) stupid (not much of this. It is organized. I see it from people I have never seen diverge from the careful party line in their pursuit of discrediting climate science. Their biggest success was the phony CRU hack interpretation, and they never fail to bring it up.

    As I've said before, I have been answering what we are not allowed to call deniers, for fear of hurting their little PC feelings since they prefer martyrdom - refusing the accept the dictionary definition of denial - for several years. When I see a campaign, I don't deceive myself that it is not. The campaign against SkepticalScience is organized and incredibly persistent. There are plenty of people willing to broadcast the main themes without knowing their source is corrupt. These are "only" venial.

    The purpose of discrediting SkepticalScience is because it does its job too well. Talking points repeated in multiple locations all over the map are intended to tie up a lot of energy and deceive a lot of people. When there is one organized source for rebuttals, it means a lot of hardworking people have more time to do the actual work they are qualified to do, rather than answering the same old falsehood or misinterpretation for the hundredth or more likely thousandth time.

    SkepticalScience is a crowdsourced effort, and a variety of the top people in the world are contributors. Its work is vetted and improved all the time.

    It is not trivial, and it is not innocent. Tom Fuller may just have bought into it, but this is not a useful activity. If I've seen it dozens of time, from the usual suspects, I'm not the only one.

    It is not only profoundly boring, but dangerous.

  13. All SkepticalScience articles are meticulously linked to the most recent and credible sources and author's qualifications are presented for all too see. Thus, anyone looking there is well able to see for themselves the primary sources of the material. Sites like Curry and WUWT tend to rely on specialist sites that lead people away from primary sources.

    "motivated reasoning" in this context is an almost perfect example of one common technique. Original resource is turned on its head and a likely sounding phrase is used exactly backwards to its intended meaning.

  14. The reason I'm hammering away at the campaign against SkepticalScience is that its purpose is exactly that same as the CRU hack, to turn the public against information that is useful and that they need to know.

    The usefulness of endless discussions with recalcitrant contrarians does not compare to the usefulness of a wonderful resources like SkS. It's being undermined. This is not good.

    And since somebody was about to say this is a party line, it's not. The party line is the reverse in this looking glass world confusionists are trying to maintain.

  15. If it were boring, it wouldn't be dangerous. If it were obviously wrong it wouldn't be dangerous.

    Cook and Skeptical Science are helping create this mess, not helping to solve it. The same is true for Lewandowsky. It has happened so often I begin to wonder if it's intentional. I have no idea what they gain from pissing off their opponents, but maybe there's something I'm missing.

  16. Yes! Looking glass English!

    Check this out for example:

    Tom's hands are not clean, and outside of climate, his politics are surprisingly sane. So his motivations for fooling himself are high.

    I have met Stephan, and John, and Jim Prall for that matter, and I know an honest scientist when I meet one. That doesn't mean they're infallible, nor that I agree with every decision they have ever made, just that they are nice, smart, interesting, decent hard-working folk.

    So their demonization looks to me utterly deranged. Loony tunes. Nuts.

    So there's no chance that any of this ad hominem stuff will carry any weight with me.

    But I do think we should bend over backwards to check ourselves for error, even if that leaves us vulnerable to attack. And I do think we're capable of error.

    The trouble is the resulting vulnerability. By being willing to give the questioner the benefit of the doubt as an honest fellow seeker of truth, we open ourselves up to tar pits of endless nitpicking, overblown accusations, errors forced and unforced, and confused impressions among the public. We are stuck playing a civilized game while the opposition is in a knife fight.

    But what can we do?

    I am seriously looking for advice on a comment moderation policy. Would anyone care to offer any?

  17. The whole idea of "opponents" is foreign to science. "Rivals", sure, but not "opponents". We are all supposed to be on the same team!

    When people think of one another as "opponents", what emerges is some horrible pastiche of a scientific conversation. That's not skepticism. It's subversion.

    This failure to have a fruitful conversation happens over and over and over again.

    Whose fault is it? Perhaps there is blame to go around. There's no serious history to guide us here. It hasn't happened before. We don't know what to do.

    Cui bono? Mostly the people who have carbon in the ground that they want eventually to dig up, as far as I can tell. That's the issue. How much do we dig up and how much stays in the ground? If that weren't the issue it's clear that none of this grotesque science-flavored crap-flinging would be happening.

    The fact that we have no more time for delay changes the nature of the argument. Sophistry is no longer affordable.

    Climate science has the worst relationship with its amateur community in the history of science. But that is not a coincidence. The attacks on it are not new. It's in the peculiar shape it's in largely because of the angry opposition, not despite it.

    We note that this is changing, when competent efforts like Muller's come along. Also as climate change becomes more obvious, things like Neven's Arctic Sea Ice community will emerge. This may be healthy for the scientific community, but on balance it's not exactly good news, is it? What we need is serious amateurs who do not actually start from a default position of hating us. But the relationship to the amateur community, while perhaps undervalued, is not crucial. It's the relationship to the public that matters. And this is what Susan is complaining about. Lobster chess.

    If we play by the rules and engage people who are just "opponents" trying to derail or embarrass us and at all events confuse the audience and delay any response, we are not only letting the climate community down. It's the whole world we're responsible to now. Playing to a draw is all the opponent wants, and the stakes are immeasurably higher than he lets on.

    For now, we will continue to moderate lightly. But it isn't clear that that is the right approach.

  18. You have a moderation policy. It appears at the bottom of each post. Or are you just looking for a way to strengthen the wall that shields you?

    I am being as constructuve as I can be. Darwin's comment about the value of correcting error lives at the top of my weblog, 'balanced by the Biblical rejection of Lukewarmism. Both here and t the thread you link to, you show no reason beyond faith to justify your condemnation of my position.

    Cook never returned to defend his position--there is no scientific defense. He left it to you to defend him via tribalism, leading to your regret at opening up your playground.

    I don't regret my moderation policy--don't swear too much,don't use the word denier to describe people.That's it. Amazingly,we still have some pretty good discussions. Matt Ridley got pissed off at me==I think he believed that Lukewarmers were advocates of a false balance who wanted to be very serious people, or some happy horsesh*t like that.

    We have a definite stance on climate issues. It is supported by mainstream science. We are not skeptics, we are not climate hawks.

    And we are not in the middle. We've moved ahead of the two tribes stalled by their battles. Lewandowsky and Cook, Prall and Mashey--they are keeping you lashed to your opponents like Ahab to his whale.

  19. "Recursive Fury: Facts and misrepresentations"
    By John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky
    Winthrop Professor, School of Psychology, University of Western Australia
    22 March 2013

    Our paper Recursive fury: conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation has been published. The paper analyzed the public discourse in response to an earlier article by Lewandowsky, Oberauer, and Gignac (LOG12 for short from here on), which has led to some discussion on this blog earlier.

    Refreshingly, the journal Frontiers makes all papers available for free with no paywall. Another unique feature of this journal is that readers can post comments directly beneath the abstract. Unfortunately this has led to the posting of a number of misrepresentations of the paper.

    In this post, I’ll be addressing some of these misconceptions (but being careful to practise what I preach, will adopt the principles of the Debunking Handbook when I debunk the misconceptions). So here are some key facts about the Recursive Fury paper:

    Conspiracy theorists are those who display the characteristics of conspiracy ideation

    Yep, just stating the obvious, right? Recursive Fury establishes, from the peer-reviewed literature, the traits of conspiracist ideation, which is the technical term for a cognitive style commonly known as “conspiratorial thinking”. Our paper featured 6 criteria for conspiratorial thinking:

    -Nefarious Intent: Assuming that the presumed conspirators have nefarious intentions. For example, if person X assumes that blogger Y colluded with the New York Times to publish a paper damaging to X, then X presumes nefarious intent on the part of Y.
    -Persecuted Victim: Self-identifying as the victim of an organised persecution.
    -Nihilistic Skepticism: Refusing to believe anything that doesn’t fit into the conspiracy theory. Note that “conspiracy theory” here is a fairly broad term and need not involve a global conspiracy (e.g., that NASA faked the moon landing) but can refer to small-scale events and hypotheses.
    -Nothing occurs by Accident: Weaving any small random event into the conspiracy narrative.
    -Something Must be Wrong: Switching liberally between different, even contradictory conspiracy theories that have in common only the presumption that there is something wrong in the official account by the alleged conspirators. Thus, people may simultaneously believe that Princess Diana faked her own death and that she was assassinated by MI5.
    -Self-Sealing reasoning: Interpreting any evidence against the conspiracy as evidence for the conspiracy. For example, when climate scientists are exonerated of any wrong-doing 9 times over by different investigations, this is reinterpreted to imply that the climate-change conspiracy involves not just the world’s climate scientists but also the investigating bodies and associated governments.

  20. Susan, apropos looking glass... Off-Topic, but now I need to tell you: I know you're an artist and one of the very rare non-scientists capable of beholding the complex system we inhabit. It is time for doing "global warming art". I've been thinking of you and such art since the days pre Sandy, when you were amoungst the few who watched it coming. Meanwhile new scary yet beautiful things are happening in the Arctic. Over at Neven's blog commenter "A-Team" has done some hilarious photoshopping which he is freely sharing. Perhaps you could team up with him? His latest stunt is combining Caravaggio's Narcissus with an image of broken Arctic sea ice: The mirror cracked from end to end... (view graphic seperately for full image)

  21. "There is some argument that Marcott et al may have done something silly about the final uptick, which we know anyway from direct measurement is real."

    If cut through all the BS regarding it and see what people who know what they are talking about say:

    richard telford
    Posted Mar 19, 2013 at 3:44 PM | Permalink | Reply
    Setting coretops to 1950 in the absence of other information is a common assumption. I have probably used similar assumptions. When you are mainly concerned with Holocene-scale features, this is a reasonable assumption, especially on cores with few dates. Had I been asked, I would have recommended setting coretops to 1950 in the absence of other information and then doing a sensitivity test.

    richard telford | March 22, 2013 at 8:19 am | Reply
    The re-dating step was essential but not optimally implemented. It will have induced errors, mainly in the last century, rendering the already fragile uptick very doubtful. These errors in re-dating will not have had a material affect on the rest of the reconstruction, as such re-dating is an irrelevant diversion, a mud-throwing exercise.
    It should be interesting to see where they go from here. My prediction is that everyone will still believe whatever they want to and go on a headhunting exercise that includes Marcott and anyone who attempts to defend him. McIntyre already went after William Connelly. Who's next? This should be a good test of how serious these people are.

  22. This discussion is so little, comes so late, and misses the vital point that the impact of unbridled global human population growth is the proverbial ‘mother’ of all human-driven global threats to future human well being and environmental health on our watch. This challenge must be acknowledged. For knowledgeable elders to continue to deny extant science is a breach of duty both to science and humanity. Scientists in large numbers have got to become more vocal and active in the public domain now. Their silence is a huge problem.

    Many too many scientists have unassumed responsibilities to accept and unfulfilled duties to perform when they refuse to report on all extant research of critical subjects like human population dynamics and human overpopulation. The mainstream media is full of preternatural thought and ideological idiocy that is presented as if such thinking and theorizing had the support of the best available science with regard to the skyrocketing growth of the human species in our time. The failure of so many self-proclaimed experts on matters regarding the human population to skillfully examine, carefully interpret, objectively evaluate, and openly share data is unforgiveable. How about joining me by acknowledging this problem and then doing something to overcome it….fast? Perhaps Pogo was right after all, ‘We have met the enemy and we are it.’ The continuing denial of Pogo’s understanding is proving ruinous of all we claim to be protecting and preserving.

    A note from a friend regarding the failures of scientists to respond ably to the challenges of our time…

    ” — They feel like they have done important science, and they leave it to the public and politicians to react.

    – They roughly agree that about half of their colleagues have just checked out – they see what is coming, see little to do about it and are resigned to doing their job and disengage from the issue.

    – researchers are keenly aware that US climate research funding is sadly below what other nations are doing (academic, satellite, computational).

    – And sadly that US governments agencies are squabbling factions of inefficiency.

    The deadline of known predictions of climate change events – such as sea level rise are proving correct. There are laws of thermodynamics rather than “theory” of melting ice. ”

    The problem appears to be that inevitable physical climate changes will unfold sooner than human evolutionary thinking and acting can mobilize to mitigate the changes. Just a theory.

  23. Thank you Martin. That is just drop dead gorgeous!

    Unfortunately, my "muse" doesn't work that way and I have many other all-too-human limitations. I have been encouraging all and sundry to get excited about all the animations now available and think a planetarium style room full of videos would be an amazing thing. My particular talents are limited, sorry to say, and block theme-based work in general. Excuses excuses - I hope when my family no longer takes the lion's share of my time to be able to give more time to my arts community here in Boston but thankfully others have moved on ahead of me in this realm. Artists tend open-minded and activist.

    I'm a huge fan of Neven but find the related forum too much material to take in - I do, however, make sure to read all the comments right through in the main posts and there are a bunch of amazing people doing that work. I love the dumbassic nozoic too.

    Here are some links:
    GOES east:
    GOES west:

    Thanks for the compliment - I have a lot of science training. Sandy's arrival was watched by a lot of people. What was most spectacular to me, was up to the last minute I found it unbelievable that it was going to make that acute western turn. It took less than an hour to turn more than 90 degrees! Our civilization may not be able to turn on a dime, but the weather can.

  24. This ties into a nugget of truth at the core of Roger Pielke Jr.'s vast cloud of ink.

    The idea is that science should be value neutral and policy neutral. If science as an institution is engaged, that puts its perceived objectivity at risk, and indeed ultimately puts its actual objectivity at risk.

    On the other hand, it seems to me that as long as this story stays on page seventeen, we haven't done the part of the job that is about not just objectively obtaining the results but also delivering them to those that need them in proportion to their importance.

    The whole model of science as neutral is drummed into us as a positive value, and should be. But that ethic developed in the absence of active generation of bullshit.

    Quoting again from someone I'm not entirely happy with, Revkin set up and briefly describes an interesting classroom debate. Solomon, who "staunchly refused to provide her personal view of the implications of global warming research despite the prodding of reporters" was acting on behalf of IPCC. This is not a matter of ducking out; it is a matter of personal responsibility. There is an argument that Pachauri's more active engagement is at odds with his responsibilities.

    I agree fully that "the problem appears to be that inevitable physical climate changes will unfold sooner than human evolutionary thinking and acting can mobilize to mitigate the changes." I also agree fully with Hansen that once one understands what is happening one needs to fully engage. The trouble is that we have no precedents. We don't know how to engage. And there are people actively trying to make it difficult.

  25. Thomas Fuller, you should know the reason I get my posts right through is I've been invited. I have been tempted by the hosting of your persistent bias to disinvite myself, since it is boringly familiar, but mt's stated belief that your assertions should be taken at face value rather than bunching them in with the whole sorry campaign to confuse, distort, and cause doubt and delay have kept me from doing so up to the present.

    In the mid oughts when I innocently joined in communities seeking positive action on demonstrably the most important issue of our day, I met a vast number of people bent on pointing away from the truth. I followed all those leads down various alleys, and having some training, I persisted to primary sources and read as much as I could (my calculus is limited). I found, for example, Marc Morano and Senator Inhofe, Exxon Mobil and Heartland, CEI, and the whole sorry boiling of a massive disinformation edifice, think tanks, bought scientists, and a few honest ones with contrarian leanings so strong they disbelieved anything that had a mild scent of mainstream scientific thought. The manufacturing of the CRU hack just in time for Copenhagen was typical if one followed it through. John Abraham did a neat and polite job of following Lord Monckton's sources and others have also done a good bit of heavy lifting.

    But all through this was my fascinating with world weather, and I did not need any scientist to take my lifetime's experience and see the parallels between predictions and developments in world weather.

    Ordinary people on the street are frightened and don't know what to do. They need leadership, not people telling them to ignore their lying senses.

  26. Questions from a friend for scientists everywhere, including Michael Tobis:

    1.Why are we driving our numbers and activity levels relentlessly towards the moon, in the face of clear and present dangers that should be obvious to everyone?

    2.Why is humanity as a global whole so impervious to behavior change when new knowledge is presented? Is there something about this particular set of behaviors that make us especially resistant to changing them?

    3.Why are we apparently so afraid of stopping (let alone reversing) our growth?

    4.Why does all of accessible human history, and the history of life and the universe itself, display constantly growing elaboration of structure, and why can we not prevent that elaboration from appearing within human culture, despite its deleterious effects?

    Comments from Michael, Susan Anderson and Others are welcome.

  27. Susan, if it's ever really you or Tom, let me know first. You are greatly valued here.

    It's a constant struggle when to cut someone off. The tradeoff between being interesting and being open is exasperating but real. Our goal here is to be so interesting and so kind that people actually want to participate, despite the fact that the problem is so daunting.

    Us old hippies know the problem with kindness. There is so much pain in the world that kindness can get used up very quickly. The vision can get diluted very quickly by people who are lazy or crazy. Yet that is no call for being unkind.

    One principle we need to carry from science is that conversation is ad argumentum and not ad hominem. I trust you ad hominem (or ad feminem if you prefer) and I do not trust Tom in that way. I don't have great confidence that his comments will be constructive or even well-intentioned. This is why he is moderated and you aren't.

    But that is different from saying he is incapable of contributing. Tom is very attached to a delusion about who and what climate science is, and is capable of some striking mistakes in other ways, but Tom is actually trying to do the right thing and is capable of being insightful. On his good days, he can craft a phrase with some elegance.

    (A similar example, far more credentialed and influential, and perhaps a bit more likely to be surprising, is Richard Tol.)

    Stephan's most recent paper argues that we should ignore harsh criticism from the blogosphere. I see the thrust of the argument and I think you are advocating the same. I can't say I'm comfortable with it.

    But ultimately, you, Susan, are very important here. You are representative of the sort of audience we want to reach.

    So rather than bending over backwards to be fair and then being as interesting as possible, I think the tradeoff goes the other way. A tighter moderation would be whether the editors find your comment interesting. This would eliminate much of Tom's contribution but not all of it. That's a change of policy but probably one that will be needed once we increase our readership.

    We still will post anything that passes the spam filter into "the borehole". Streamlining that process is a technical issue that we're working on.

  28. mt, sigh, that's not quite how I meant ... Not meant as a threat, only underlining the ho-hum quality of the rebunking process. I certainly don't want Tom Fuller thinking it's him or me - that would be a false bargain. Perhaps I should have parsed my words more carefully (post in haste and repent later). It was more a question of perspective. I will continue to be erratic due to outside pressures and competing interests but don't like wasting time with generic denial material.

    I also sense some personal animus. It is not surprising that quite a few fake skeptics have been disappointed by the "system" and look to blame somebody. This is perhaps out of line here, but it must be kept in mind that we are all human.

    I'm flattered that you value me, but please don't make a big deal of it; we are each at our own stage of our personal journeys, a la Pilgrim's Progress. We all have our reasons for being who we are.

  29. Dear Michael,

    The questions are for every human being on the planet who can think. This is not rocket science. The ecological science of human population dynamics and human overpopulation of the Earth is remarkably simple.

    For too long a time human population growth has been comfortably and pseudoscientifically viewed by politicians, economists and demographers as somehow outside the course of nature, somehow disconnected from the population dynamics of other evolved species on Earth. The possible causes of human population growth have seemed to them so complex, obscure and numerous, so they have said for too many years, that an adequate understanding of the cause of human population growth, much less a strategy to address the emerging and converging ecological problems posed by the unbridled growth of the human species, has been assumed to be unapproachable. Their preternatural grasp of human population dynamics has lead to widely varied forecasts of human population growth. Some forecasting data indicate the end to human population growth soon. Other data suggest the rapid and continuous increase of human numbers ad infinitum, and like the endless expansion of the global economy, without adverse impacts. Can any thinking person even imagine 'endless growth' of human numbers or the global political economy in the world we inhabit? How about the Second Law of Thermodynamics? The dogmatic adherence of so many politically correct experts to erroneous, unscientific theory regarding automatic population stabilization around the midpoint of Century XXI and a benign demographic transition to a good life for the human community at large cannot be accepted any longer as if it is based upon the best available evidence. This thinking is absurd on its face.

    Recent scientific evidence appears to indicate that the governing dynamics of absolute global human population numbers is knowable as a natural phenomenon. Despite all the misleading, intellectually dishonest and deliberately deceptive ‘scientific' research to the contrary, Homo sapiens can be shown to be, and now seen, as a species that is a part of and definitely not separate from the natural world we inhabit. Experts in politics, economics and demography have consciously fostered and continue obdurately to countenance a perilous disconnect between ecological science and political economy. Perhaps politics, economics and demography are themselves disciplines that are fundamentally disconnected from science. They appear to have more in common with ideology rather than science. To suggest as many too many politicians, economists and demographers have been conveniently doing that understanding the dynamics of human population numbers does not matter, that the human population problem is not about numbers, or that human population dynamics has so dizzying an array of variables as not to be suitable for scientific investigation, seems wrongheaded and dangerous.

    According to research of Russell Hopfenberg, Ph.D., and David Pimentel, Ph.D., global population growth of the human species is a rapidly cycling positive feedback loop in which food availability drives population growth and the recent, skyrocketing growth in absolute global human numbers gives rise to the misconception or mistaken impression that food production needs to be increased even more. Data indicate that the world’s human population grows by approximately 2% per year. All segments of it grow by about two percent. Every year there are more people with brown eyes and more people with blue ones; more people who are tall as well as more short people. It also means that there are more people growing up well fed and more people growing up hungry. The hungry segment of the global population goes up just like the well-fed segment of the population. We may or may not be reducing hunger by increasing food production; however, we are most certainly producing more and more hungry people.

    Hopfenberg’s and Pimentel’s research suggests that the spectacularly successful efforts of humankind to increase food production in order to feed a growing population has resulted and continues to result in even greater human population numbers worldwide. The perceived need to increase food production to feed a growing population is a widely shared and consensually validated misperception, a denial both of the physical reality and the space-time dimension, a colossal misunderstanding. If people are starving at a given moment of time, increasing food production and then distributing it cannot help them. Are these starving people supposed to be waiting for sowing, growing and reaping to be completed? Are they supposed to wait for surpluses to reach them? Without food they would die. In such circumstances, increasing food production for people who are starving is like tossing parachutes to people who have already fallen out of the airplane. The produced food arrives too late. Even so, this realization does not mean human starvation is inevitable.

    Consider that the population dynamics of humankind is not biologically different from, but essentially common to the population dynamics of other species. Human organisms, non-human organisms and even microorganisms have similar population dynamics. In all cases the governing relationship between food supply and population numbers of any living thing is this: food is independent variable and population numbers is the dependent variable. We do not find hoards of starving roaches, birds, squirrels, alligators, or chimpanzees in the absence of food as we do in many “civilized” human communities today because non-human species and what we call “primitive” human communities are not engaged in food production. Please note that among tribes of people in remote original habitats, we do not find people starving. Like non-human species, primitive human beings live within the carrying capacity of their environment. History is replete with examples of early humans and more remote ancestors of “civilized” people not increasing their food production and distribution capabilities annually, but rather living successfully off the land for thousands upon thousands of years as hunters and gatherers of food. Prior to the Agricultural Revolution and the production of much, much more food than was needed for immediate survival, human numbers supposedly could not grow beyond their environment’s physical capacity to sustain them because human population growth or decline is primarily determined by food availability. Looked at from a global population perspective, more food equals more human organisms; less food equals less human beings; and no food equals no people. The idea that food production must be increased to meet the needs of growing human population has been actually giving rise to skyrocketing human population numbers, not only since the Industrial Revolution but even more recently and intensively with the onset of the Green Revolution that began sixty+ years ago.

  30. Something is happening on Earth that appears to be driven by billions of human beings overconsuming, overproducing and overpopulating. Is that not what everybody is doing to one degree or another?Some overconsume; some overproduce and others overpopulate.And many do all of the above. All of this disntinctly human-induced activity is patently unsustainable on a planet with the size, composition and ecology of Earth. Well established scientific knowledge, human intuition and common sense are in agreement that the unbridled overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities cannot continue much longer, much less indefinitely.

    Perhaps necessary behavior changes toward sustainability are in the offing.

  31. An interesting case, but not entirely compelling. Unlike other species we have shown some capacity for extrapolation and planning. The whole point of this website and many similar enterprises is that we should pay attention to that capacity and increase it. In short, I can't say I agree with your idea of replacing economic fatalism with biological overshoot fatalism.

    We do have a choice.

  32. Relevant to the larger question at hand (though perhaps not directly to Mr Fuller):

    === quote:

    The Disillusioned Right is here to stay, unfortunately. There is no logic that will persuade its members. Reality, no matter how sharp, cannot pierce their bubble of self-delusion. Letting them sink under the weight of their own ignorance is tempting, but not really practical; they will drag the rest of us down with them. So what can be done?

    Ignore them.

    That is not to say their needs should be ignored, only their rhetoric. The Disillusioned Right is a mob, and as such has nothing of substance to add to the debate. The thinking majority will have to do what's necessary, and pandering to the Disillusioned Right will only make already difficult tasks impossible.

    === (end quote)

  33. OK, I'm not happy with this if my focus, language and personal insinuations have shut a door that had cracked open, I owe all and sundry an apology. It is hard to walk on these eggshells, where the truth is given less of a hearing than a wild profusion of assertions.

    The reason I got riled enough to engage here was and continues to be the all-too-familiar one-sided attack language of which I provide a couple of samples below, though I was already suspicious that Mr. Fuller's presence was more about his desire to discredit the current state of climate science and to attack the usual "suspects", and his attack on Skeptical cience, which I had noticed is gathering steam everywhere. Time is an issue for me, so this fit was a magnet for me to give it here.

    [in fairness, unincluded material in this comment included points made about confidentiality that may have some substance, though I suspect they were manipulated in a one-sided way to support the point:] I’ve spent a large part of my adult life trying to get people to accept online research as a methodology for getting data from respondents that they can rely on and trust. I’ve spent the same amount of time agitating for ethical practice and behavior by researchers.

    You’re disgracing yourself and social science. You’re also messing with the way I make my living. Either learn what the hell you’re doing or stay the hell away from it.

    [new comment:]
    Cook never returned to defend his position–there is no scientific defense. He left it to you to defend him via tribalism, leading to your regret at opening up your playground .... Lewandowsky and Cook, Prall and Mashey–they are keeping you lashed to your opponents like Ahab to his whale.

    IMNHSO, John Cook has better things to do than respond to somebody who is not listening.

  34. Jim Hunt has added to the collection! This kind of sampling requires skills with Photoshop or other editing programs. Very apropos:
    (he provides a link to a Devon art website where he has posted both images)

    You might also enjoy Russell's snark, though scrolling back a bit will hit my personal favorites:

    I also approve of the scythe metaphor:

  35. Steven Earl Salmony:

    Those are vital questions to which the only reply I can find is:

    We can't but we must. We must but we can't.

    Joe Romm, Mike Mann, Naomi Klein, and a host of others have young children. Falling in love and acting like a human being is so deep in our being that you cannot expect even those well informed on the issues to deny their humanity. One could even say their commitment to finding a way through this mess is greater because they have a future. I will be 65 soon and through an accident of fate and lack of desire for them am childless, but that does not make me superior, it makes me weird. I can now look back and say, perhaps it's not a bad thing that my future stops in 30 years or less, just when things are spiraling upon spiraling out of control.

    The only part of this where guilt is easily assigned is Bush and the immoral "moral majority" and the Pope's insistence on denying birth control to women worldwide. Other than that, you have China as a shining example of what not to do in controlling other people's lives. And even there it's all about money.

    If there is one thing I blame more than others, though, it's the takeover of marketing and infotainment, perhaps even the advent of TV. It has made us all passive consumers. And we enviros are not free of blame - we rely on "free" media that is far from free. We complain about the predominance of bad corporate citizens paying for our entertainment (fossil fuel and other exploiters, and a specific travesty is NPR's dependence on the Kochs) but here I am on the internet.

    I have two favorite tag lines at this present:

    Nothing ain't worth nothing, but it's free


    If not now, when?

  36. Tom Fuller, should you show up again, I have one word I'd like to add, even substitute for all the rest. Where is your curiosity?

    Why do you think so many top people disagree with you? If you really want to know, I suggest you read, or at least skim, this book right through. It's a mite out of date, but the facts have not changed much:

    Chris Mooney, The Republican War on Science

  37. Well, I was going to retire from this venue and leave it to you, Susan, but since you asked me a direct question, let me at least try and answer it.

    But first I'll need some clarification. On what do you think top people disagree with me? Climate change in general? Atmospheric sensitivity? Stefan Lewandowsky? Our host's tendency to err?

    Because frankly, I don't see that many top people disagreeing with me. If I may be presumptuous, I think it's possible that you don't have a good grasp of what I believe. That's understandable--anyone spending significant amount of time trying to plumb the depths of what one insignificant individual has written or currently thinks on any of those subjects would border on unhealthy obsession.

    But actually, I don't think my assessments of most elements of the climate debate fly in the face of what the top people say. Which of course would lead us into some dispute on who we can agree on are the top people.

    But when James Hansen says that global temperature averages have stalled, I agree. When James Annan says that the higher estimates of atmospheric sensitivity will probably be truncated off the graphs, I agree. When the scientific community resorts to embarrassed silence over Lewandowsky and Cook's latest paper, I at least sympathize. And when Michael Tobis repeatedly concedes that I show peer-reviewed literature supporting my position in every dispute we have had since 2009, why, I agree with that as well.

    The heat I take from Michael and others is caused by their taking offense at the fact that, if I believe that climate change is a serious issue that needs to be addressed now, lest future growth in energy consumption swamp us in CO2 in sufficient quantities to render discussion of any positive value for sensitivity meaningless, how can I oppose their policy prescriptions? For I do believe those things and I do oppose their policies. This tends to make some people angrier with me than they are with skeptics.

    But as for the science? No--my perceptions of climate change are well within the mainstream view.

  38. and when Michael Tobis repeatedly concedes that I show peer-reviewed literature supporting my position in every dispute we have had since 2009, why, I agree with that as well.

    [ --citation needed ]

  39. "I believe that climate change is a serious issue that needs to be addressed now, lest future growth in energy consumption swamp us in CO2 in sufficient quantities to render discussion of any positive value for sensitivity meaningless"

    Then what are we arguing about?

    "I oppose their policy prescriptions"

    But really the only policy prescription I have made with confidence is quite reasonably summarized as that "climate change is a serious issue that needs to be addressed now, lest future growth in energy consumption swamp us in CO2 in sufficient quantities to render discussion of any positive value for sensitivity meaningless".

    Admittedly, I really doubt this can be achieved without a treaty and a target all-time emission total. If you disagree on that, so be it. I'm pleased to have a calm reasoned debate with anyone who sees a way around that, and would love to be convinced otherwise, since it is a tall order.

    I don't agree that this is remotely close to the point of friction between us.

    The reason we don't get along is primarily that we disagree whether scientists are reasonable people and that there is an organized effort to tarnish their reputations, which is particularly convenient for the people who are economically motivated to argue that climate change is not a serious issue and/or does not need to be addressed anytime soon. Maybe that's a coincidence. In your case, I believe it actually is.

    You are loyal to your friends and I am loyal to mine. I think my friends include most of the people who do useful work and yours include most of those who do the damage to the conversation. I guess you believe the opposite.

    That's what we disagree about.

  40. Bishop Hill. Jo Nova. I took a quick look, and those were the first to hit me between the eyes. Not a guarantee of legitimacy. To me they are secondhand, second rate, and political. I do not see curiosity, which was my main point. I see people who don't want to see what is in front of them, and find it physicially, emotionally, and/or spiritually profitable to spread a fog. As far as I've been able to see what you have to say, this description fits you as well.

    First rate is Neven's blog, RealClimate, Tamino, RabettRun, NASA, NOAA, NCAR, AGU, all the world's authorities - every top academic agency (Royal Society, AAAS, PNAS, etc. etc.), the New York Times and BBC environment pages, the AGU, Stephen Schneider, Peter Sinclair, SKepticalScience (which is basically an aggregation service), ClimateCentral, Wunderground, George Monbiot, these are arbitrary and off the top of my head. I read The New Yorker, and their expose on the Koch brothers set the record straight. Newsweek had a cover story, I think it was in 2007, that covered the denial industry. Chris Hayes of Up on MSNBC has it straight.

    I see a whole of of lies masquerading as truth, but am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. But you are acting as a megaphone for opinions that are preventing a necessary conversation.

  41. 2011, C-a-S: Leaving aside the numbers (in particular, the $12/ton, which I think is too small to bother with), I agree with the general thrust of Tom Fuller&#39s policy suggestions. This is rather surprising.

    Only in it for the Gold, September 2010: Michael Tobis: "This is the whole point, Tom. This is completely, utterly wrong. The more you say it, the less it looks like a mistake and the more it looks like bullshit."

    Same thread, one day later. Michael

    OK, there is one result that shows growing ice, which although it actually OVERLAPS the zero line, we need to take seriously because it SUPPORTS Fuller, as opposed to the GRACE data which don't overlap the zero line but get close to it, which we are to ignore, because Fuller doesn't like it.

    Stipulate, then, that there is a study, somewhat on the early side, showing net growth of Antarctica. I would already have stipulated it, but Fuller has done us the kindness of identifying the study in question."

    Do you want me to go on, about floods in Pakistan, heatwaves in Moscow, the overthrow of the government in Egypt? In each of these cases you either made or repeated the claim that they were heavily influenced by climate change. In each case I showed you peer-reviewed literature that said the opposite. In each case you conceded that I had made the point--while still saying it didn't influence your opinion.

    The last time I looked at this we had nine specific instances of disagreement on specific issues. In each case I showed to your (dis) satisfaction that there was mainstream science backing my point of view, on subjects such as Stern's use of a population figure of 15 billion for his estimates of climate impacts.

  42. Are you sort of forgetting policy prescriptions like leaving all fossil fuels in the ground, or that emitting CO2 should be classed as morally equivalent to mugging old ladies? You've been fairly prolific in policy descriptions, actually. Perhaps you should take notes. Put them in a log somewhere you can refer to them. Make your electronically available to everyone on the web. But what would we call such a creation?

  43. I read both Bishop Hill and Jo Nova. But that's not where I get my assessment of the science. I am not a skeptic. I should note that I like both of their blogs, however. I like this blog, too. But this is not where I get my assessment of the science either--for the same reason I don't get it from BH or Jo Nova.

    You don't really need to give me the benefit of the doubt. I publish on the subject quite frequently. And between 3000 Quads and The Lukewarmer's Way I consistently make the case that we are sleepwalking into a future where our increased emissions pose a threat to development and developing countries in particular and that much of what is written in venues such as this one is counter productive, as it focuses on things like Xtreme Weather, which is currently mythical but a future problem, creating the scenario of the boy who cried wolf.

  44. Fisked:

    Does the "this" in 2010 correspond to the "thrust" in 2011? Links or it didn't happen.

    The misunderstanding in your GRACE story is obvious. I don't even need to look it up. "Early" studies predate not only the better measures BUT ALSO TEH ACCELERATION OF THE MELT IN ANTARCTICA. As I'm sure I tried to explain in the next paragraph.

    Now you've got me riled. Time for some pig wrasslin, cain't avoid it every time.

    Back up what you say or go away.

    Sticking to my guns on Pakistan, Moscow, and Arab Spring. See also our mutual inspiration Andrew Sullivan.

    As for "In each case I showed to your (dis) satisfaction that there was mainstream science backing my point of view"

    So everything in peer review is true? That would be awkward.

    In general once you get your hand on a garbled interpretation of something you stick to it with ferocity. It makes conversation rather pointless. I think you should loosen up and admit error once in a while, though the culture reviles it. It's 19th century Tex-Mex macho bullshit though. Own up to your mistakes and cooperate once in a while please.

    But meanwhile you have re-raised "nine" issues. Pick one, pard.

    I'd prefer your place but I'll give you a thread here if you want.

  45. 1) As much as feasible must stay in the ground; not "all", which is infeasible.

    2) Not morally equivalent; equivalent in the sense of being the appropriate goal for a society, obviously.

    These are the appropriate goals of a sustainable society. They are not "policy" prescriptions, which would be the rules that the rulemaking bodies would put into place to effect the goals. So the example doesn't sway me.

    I'm sure I've ventured an opinion now and again. Coal bad. Tar sands worse. Fracking an expensive approach to a small and equivocal gain. Sure; those are straightforward consequences. So those are engineering suggestions.

    I don't know enough about the rulemaking process to know of good ways to get to the goals.

    That all said, I suppose I personally have chatted about policy a bit. Point taken. Though I don't FEEL prescriptive about it. Not to say that no prescriptions ever run on this site. I don't edit Dan who is in practice an editorial equal, nor anyone else on the masthead who can take the stage any time without asking, though they tend not to.

  46. How about this: My venue, your choice. That way we won't have to worry about useless moderation and you won't be able to complain that I boned up on it.

    It's a travel day for me and I've got another international trip scheduled for next Thursday. So those are the natural parameters for this thought experiment.

    I think you're making a mistake in preferring to do this at TLWW. (Or would you prefer 300 Quads?) I thought you needed traffic? But it's cool...


    Pakistani floods of 2010
    Muscovian heatwave
    Texan drought
    Egyptian famine
    Stern's use of inflated population for Stern Review
    Extent of Antarctic ice melt

    I only wish I had time for them all.

  47. Steven: "Scientists in large numbers have got to become more vocal and active in the public domain now. Their silence is a huge problem."

    Perhaps you ask too much of scientists, who after all are only people like you. Leopold said (my emphasis)

    One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.

    Science can't made much headway against willful denial.

  48. Schopenhauer said it first. But Lewandowsky does rather well:

    -Nefarious Intent: Assuming that the presumed conspirators have nefarious intentions.
    -Persecuted Victim: Self-identifying as the victim of an organised persecution.
    -Nihilistic Skepticism: Refusing to believe anything that doesn’t fit into the conspiracy theory.
    -Nothing occurs by Accident: Weaving any small random event into the conspiracy narrative.
    -Something Must be Wrong: Switching liberally between different, even contradictory conspiracy theories that have in common only the presumption that there is something wrong in the official account by the alleged conspirators.
    -Self-Sealing reasoning: Interpreting any evidence against the conspiracy as evidence for the conspiracy. For example, when climate scientists are exonerated of any wrong-doing 9 times over by different investigations, this is reinterpreted to imply that the climate-change conspiracy involves not just the world’s climate scientists but also the investigating bodies and associated governments.

    In particular, note the specifics of the final category. This is not a million miles removed from the following, which needs some fleshing out when one has more time. I stole it from Wikipedia:


    The following lists the 38 stratagems described by Schopenhauer, in the order of their appearance in the book:

    The Extension
    The Homonymy
    Generalize Your Opponent's Specific Statements
    Conceal Your Game
    False Propositions
    Postulate What Has to Be Proved
    Yield Admissions Through Questions
    Make Your Opponent Angry
    Questions in Detouring Order
    Take Advantage of the Nay-Sayer
    Generalize Admissions of Specific Cases
    Choose Metaphors Favourable to Your Proposition
    Agree to Reject the Counter-Proposition
    Claim Victory Despite Defeat
    Use Seemingly Absurd Propositions
    Arguments Ad Hominem
    Defense Through Subtle Distinction
    Interrupt, Break, Divert the Dispute
    Generalize the Matter, Then Argue Against it
    Draw Conclusions Yourself
    Meet Him With a Counter-Argument as Bad as His
    Petitio principii
    Make Him Exaggerate His Statement
    State a False Syllogism
    Find One Instance to the Contrary
    Turn the Tables
    Anger Indicates a Weak Point
    Persuade the Audience, Not the Opponent
    Appeal to Authority Rather Than Reason
    This Is Beyond Me
    Put His Thesis into Some Odious Category
    It Applies in Theory, but Not in Practice
    Don't Let Him Off the Hook
    Will Is More Effective Than Insight
    Bewilder Your opponent by Mere Bombast
    A Faulty Proof Refutes His Whole Position
    Become Personal, Insulting, Rude (argumentum ad personam)

    Thanks for the italics instrux; would also like to know how to do boldface.

  49. Are you going to pick one? I think I ought to ask you to post it here as well. We could do the back and forth on my blog, but as I am convinced I'm correct I'd like to see you post it.

    I didn't say everything peer-reviewed was correct. I said I found peer-reviewed literature that supported my position.

  50. "I didn’t say everything peer-reviewed was correct. I said I found peer-reviewed literature that supported my position."

    This raises a number of issues in a short space:

    1) What was your position" (you wave vaguely at our long past history of discussions and leave me guessing)
    2) What literature did you find?
    3) Is it a crap paper demonstrating another instance of the not as uncommon as one would like failure of the peer review system?
    4) Is it a paper in a crap journal demonstrating nothing whatsoever?
    5) Is it a real paper that subsequent work has refuted?
    6) Is it a real paper that still could be true that you have misinterpreted?

    Steps 1 and 2 are up to you. If you don't take the trouble of starting the conversation with supporting evidence, your claims that somehow you have refuted me on multiple occasions are without supporting evidence.

    That all said, I am not ego-attached the way some people are. I welcome refutation because truth is more important to me than ego gratification. Planet3.0 is an attempt to build a community of people willing to challenge their own beliefs as well as others'. So please, convince me I am wrong. I consider that a service.

    I pick the Antarctic one. What was my claim, and what was your literature-supported refutation? URLs or it didn't happen.

    Question authority, yeah, but listen to the danged answer too!

  51. Time to read through comments on SkS article about all Lewandowski's work. Should provide both entertainment and irritation.

    To be fair, it is important to note that Tom Fuller declares he does not deny global warming. He keeps a lot of bad company, and appears to be unwilling to open his mind fully to mainstream climate science, but I don't know enough to know why this is or exactly how he got so closed-minded. In any case, his self-declared position of lukewarmer seems OK as far as it goes. My distaste for this stance does not make the claim itself invalid.

  52. Evidence and intervening events has made the "lukewarmist" position (which I myself arguably held twenty years ago) indefensible except as a form of denialism, as I tried to argue recently.

    Many intelligent people hold to this indefensible stance tenaciously.

    (I like the word "stance" which I recently picked up from Willard.)

    They are not able to process the information coming at them for some reason.

  53. Equal measures of both, Susan, though also informative.

    I'm still interested in discovering more specifics on the many articles at Skeptical Science that have been corrected by doubters. I can think of a couple of things that have corrected via comment input but nothing leaps to mind with regard to either bulky numbers or helpful input from doubters. Tom, was that remark simply a rhetorical flourish?

  54. Hi Doug

    No, but it is hearsay evidence. Skeptical bloggers and commanders have made the claim repeatedly. Some of them are by people I trust. Sadly I am unable to track them down due to demands on my time, so feel free to treat thus as an urban legend until it can be addressed at a later time.

    IIRC, both Cook and Dana have acknowledged doing this, but again I don't have a link.

  55. I presume this was slightly misfiled and intended as a reply to my "Evidence and intervening events has made the “lukewarmist” position (which I myself arguably held twenty years ago) indefensible except as a form of denialism, as I tried to argue recently."

    Did you follow the link and try to follow the argument there?

  56. It is in the nature of science to be continuously corrected to reflect new information and incorporate whatever is available.

    The idea that science should not correct its course continuously is contrary to the aims and goals of science, and its location in the midst of the reality-based world.

    The idea that correction is not a sign of open-mindedness, and that only the 100% truth for all time dare be spoken for fear of correction is insane and dangerous.

  57. Pingback: More False Claims from Lewandowsky « Climate Audit

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