Bullseye

In the wake of the misrepresentation of the views of Gavin Schmidt, regarding his decision not to attend the so-called “reconciliation” conference, I’m impressed by a comment by Chris Colose at Judith Curry’s blog. It pretty much sums up the present situation of the “debate” and of the so-called “skeptic” approach.


Chris Colose | December 4, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Reply

What is clear to me is that climate scientists are now being held to standards which are not typical of any scientific discipline, or for that matter, held to standards which skeptics do not want to put upon themselves.

On the first point, it is now apparently perceived as “bad” when scientists come to a conclusion that is robust enough to be well accepted by the majority. I have never seen claims of the sort that “gravity people” are engaging in indoctrination, or the indoctrination of cell theory, the indoctrination of soil science, or the dogma of electrons. Strangely, this only applies to conclusions about climate change, or maybe evolution (and especially in America).

In most fields, consensus is thought of as a consequence of a convergence of evidence over time in a particular subject-matter, and one goes to authorities (doctors for medical diagnosis, lawyers for legal advice, etc) for insight. Most people seek the explanation with the most support, which is then echoed by the experts in the field. Some, on the other hand, will leave 100 doctors that give them a certain diagnosis, and then approve of the one that tells them to meditate, take secret forest herbs, and pray five times a day to cure their illness. People go to calculus textbooks to learn calculus, and yet no one goes to an sociologist to learn by the segments of the heart and brain. However, in climate science, apparently ‘authority’ is a logical fallacy, and textbooks and classrooms can be replaced by random opinions on a blog.

What’s even more startling, is that the personal communiation of scientists through e-mails can actually change the laws of physics!

What all of this shows is that many people simply cannot think rationally about climate change, nor do they have the capacity to diagnose proper information from nonsense. And once they pursue nonsense, it is very difficult to convince them that they are wrong. You cannot convince such people that Pat Michaels, Singer, Marano, etc don’t actually have anything to say, or that WUWT is a disinformation source. It’s not that the information to show they are nonsense is unavailable, it’s that the information MUST be wrong.

It is also clear to me that climate scientists must now become babysitters to every half-baked idea out there, otherwise they are being dogmatic. They must write detailed responses to people who think the greenhouse effect isn’t real.

It is also clear to me that the so-called ‘skeptics’ are allowed to make up whatever they want at will without consequence, and create a large but ill-thought out laundry list, and that we must play this game or else we’re being ‘dogmatic.’ If a climate scientist make one mistake, or a date gets screwed up in the middle of a 1000 page document about glaciers, it will receive international attention. However, if ‘skeptics’ toss out 8 conspiracy theories, 10 logical fallacies, and 17 arguments with ZERO thought put into them, then it is a good thing that we get to hear all sides. Then, when one item on the bucket list is knocked down, they can just jump tot he next item. In the meantime, they are just as valid as everyone else’s idea, since the criteria for acceptance is 101% certaintly in everything.

Bullseye.

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98 responses to “Bullseye

  1. Also impressive was Chris’s comment on Eric Steig’s comprehensive debunking of the O’Donnell et al paper – “63.Did someone send an invitation to the loons? Looks like the bore hole will be opening up”

  2. “… nor do they have the capacity to diagnose proper information from nonsense.”

    That’s key for me: how to develop that capacity in people?

  3. I have never seen claims of the sort that “gravity people” are engaging in indoctrination, or the indoctrination of cell theory, the indoctrination of soil science, or the dogma of electrons.

    I’ve heard three of the four. I’m sure there’s someone out there who really dislikes soil science, but I’ve yet to encounter them.

    • Funnily enough, a pioneer of soil science, Hugh Hammond Bennett, had to pull every trick in the book of politics to bring the Great Dust Bowl to an end. One stunt he pulled on the Senate would have had Inhofe calling for him being tried for treason. But Bennett was right.
      http://www.soil.ncsu.edu/about/century/hugh.html

      • Timothy Chase

        Tried to delay his presentation before Senate until just before a dust storm due to loss of topsoil rolled through. A bit like Hansen having the airconditioning turned off back in 1988 — but a bit more risky with regard to timing. Maybe Hansen was taking his que from Hammond?

      • I think Hansen [and other climate scientists] have much in common with Bennett, as well as Tsunami Smith who can be read about HERE and HERE as well (not Tilly Smith, but she deserves her own special mention).

      • But But, Bennett’s soil is socialist soil. Its tainted. If its not libertairian -anti-gumint soil I rather none at all.

    • On the electron thing, google Black Light Power, or any of a number of i don’t believe in quantum mechanics cranks

  4. Well put by Colose.

    It is not just that engaging with the likes of the WUWT choir is futile; it is destructive to science: they are time wasters.

    Gavin Schmidt’s wisdom in dismissing the foolish Lisbon conference should be an object lesson to all in how to deal with the Tallblokes of this world and, alas, the Judith Currys as well. People who have never acted in good faith cannot be trusted to become suddenly honest in any context.

    There is no reconciliation possible between science on the one hand and deceit, ignorance and cynical distortion on the other. Making such attempts achieves nothing besides conferring a patina of respectability upon liars; better to let them dangle and devote the time to constructive work.

  5. Jeffrey Davis

    Carnak predicts —

    Colose’s words will be followed by a train of comments completely illustrative of the sad accuracy of his remarks.

    [Response: Your prediction is actually a postdiction.]

  6. Brilliant summary of the current situation.

  7. I think the word theory may be part of the problem. A lot of people don’t know what goes into a scientific theory. Evolution is the prime example of that. The its only a theory idea makes it way as high as the white house. We can live with that though because not believing in evolution only hurts our education system. AGW could be dangerous for everyone. So I see the scientists becoming more vocal not just as scientists, but as human beings.

  8. It’s particularly frustrating when you see intelligent, well-intended people doing that king of nonsense.

    I recently enganged in a quite civil, yet fruitless, debate with a political science professor. He apparently learned about climate change reading the Heartland Institute website, and regarded himself as being someone reasonable, well-informed and moderate person. Therefore, he “wasn’t saying skeptics or alarmists were right or wrong, it’s just that he was against all this fearmongering and catastrophism that took over people.”

    I think I shook his beliefs a tiny bit when I suggested he read what real research institutions like NOAA or MetOffice had to say about the subject. It looked like this was something he had not thought about before.

    Anyway, it is shocking to see how far the disinformation works.

    • But that is why it IS necessary to continue to engage with these people, however unpleasant and apparently fruitless the task. Your political science professor was presumably neither stupid nor evil, yet without the intervention by someone such as yourself was liable to be misled into erroneous beliefs. There are dire political and social consequences of large numbers of people becoming so misinformed, in addition to the implications for dealing with global warming.

    • Igor Samoylenko

      A quote from the famous demolition of Teilhard de Chardin’s The Phenomenon of Man by Peter Medawar springs to mind:

      “How have people come to be taken in by The Phenomenon of Man? We must not underestimate the size of the market for works of this kind, for philosophy-fiction. Just as compulsory primary education created a market catered for by cheap dailies and weeklies, so the spread of secondary and latterly tertiary education has created a large population of people, often with well-developed literary and scholarly tastes, who have been educated far beyond their capacity to undertake analytical thought.”

      This shouldn’t apply to a university professor of course; he *should* know better.

      • Exactly. How does anyone acquire an advanced degree without some level of critical thinking?

      • TrueSceptic asks: “How does anyone acquire an advanced degree without some level of critical thinking?”

        Critical thinking is most definitely NOT a prerequisite for an advanced degree. All you have to do is “original research”. The thing this requires more than anything else is persistence. And it certainly doesn’t require an understanding or appreciation of any field outside your own. Many PhDs are trained more than educated.

        [Response: Amen, brother.]

      • TrueSceptic –

        Well, I was able to spend 7 years studying science at some decent universities.. and not once did I have to confront the question:

        ‘How do we know what we say we know?’

        And I’m not making this up; it was only through encountering creationists (first) online that I realized the extent to which you need to go to genuinely be sure of something; to nail the case down, as it were.

        So I’m not surprised that even apparently highly educated people can end up with very erroneous beliefs, especially when exposed to a sophisticated denialist campaign that also happens to appeal to their own personal politics.

      • Igor Samoylenko

        Ray said: “Many PhDs are trained more than educated”

        Quite. According to Gibson’s law: for every PhD, there is an equal and opposite PhD.

        I used to say to denialists who would quote some guy with a PhD in a completely unrelated field “disputing” AGW: I also have a PhD in a completely unrelated field and don’t dispute the science, so does my PhD cancel his out?

        The most depressing thing of course is that it is not just PhDs – a lot of seriously smart people seem to forget how to apply analytical thought when it comes to assessing the climate science, as the examples of Laughlin, Dyson, Motl and others amply demonstrate…

        Going back to the opening post of this thread: I always find Chris Colose’s posts very educational. He writes well and explains things in a way and in enough detail that I (tend to) understand (or at least easy to follow up). His efforts and those of all the other scientists who spend their time on the blogs educating the public (as opposed to muddying things up) are greately appreciated.

      • Andrew Dodds wrote:

        So I’m not surprised that even apparently highly educated people can end up with very erroneous beliefs, especially when exposed to a sophisticated denialist campaign that also happens to appeal to their own personal politics.

        I have to wonder at the extent to which their personal politics and perhaps even specific brand of religious beliefs may have been the product of earlier campaigns of denialism. The funding of libertarianism reaching back to the 1970s and leveraged effect it has had through think tanks on conservativism in the United States.

        And I have to wonder about Richard Mellon Scaife’s funding the creation of the Religious Right during the 1980s. Have they found it useful to encourage an Us vs. Them mentality rooted in politics and religion, fighting a cultural war where such minds are immune to objectivity and scientific fact? Was Young Earth Creationism a model for this sort of approach?

        Somewhat tentatively I find myself answering all of these questions in the affirmative. And I have to wonder at the extent that my country has been manipulated — and the reach of such manipulation beyond our shores.

      • “And I have to wonder about Richard Mellon Scaife’s funding the creation of the Religious Right during the 1980s. Have they found it useful to encourage an Us vs. Them mentality rooted in politics and religion, fighting a cultural war where such minds are immune to objectivity and scientific fact? Was Young Earth Creationism a model for this sort of approach?”

        I feel a lot less tentative about my affirmative, even invoking norms of ursine behavior in sylvan areas. (Trying to keep it sort of classy here.)

      • Yes, Timothy, I believe rightwingers in the US have had a deliberate training campaign and it certainly extends into Canada. Many Conservative politicians have ties to the US right: one MP, Rob Anders, used to work for Inhofe. The rightwing think tank Fraser Institute started in Canada and has spread like a bad rash into the US, and it runs “education programs”. This Canadian writer who follows the religious right notes:

        [blockquote] One does not have to agree politically or theologically with these individuals and organizations to respect the networks that have been built and the growing influence that they appear to have with government. Political and religious progressives, should they be aware of this activity, must be envious indeed. [/blockquote]

        [blockquote] George Lakoff, the well-known American linguist, describes in his book Don’t Think of an Elephant how political conservatives in the United States made a conscious decision in the 1970s to spend the money to build an intellectual culture for the right. Donors included the Coors family – famous for their breweries and their right wing politics. Lakoff says these wealthy people set up professorships and scholarships at many universities, including Harvard. “These institutions have done their job very well,” Lakoff writes. “The conservatives support their intellectuals. They create media opportunities . . . Eighty per cent of the talking heads on television are from conservative think tanks.” Lakoff adds, “Nothing like this happens in the progressive world, because there are so many people thinking that what each does is the right thing.” [/blockquote]
        http://dennisgruending.ca/pulpitandpolitics/2009/03/17/harper-promotes-religious-rightists/

    • So, a political science professor is incapable of performing the most basic research into the validity of sources, or if he has done so, he lacks the critical faculties to make the necessary judgements? What an appalling state of affairs for someone with an advanced degree!

      • I had a “high school degree” in electronics (sorry, non-native speaker here), then studied law in the university.

        It’s a huge contrast between the so-called “hard” and the “social” sciences. Maybe not so much in law school, but economics and sociology are so ideology-driven that people seem to forget to look for evidence, or data. At least here in Brazil, with people I know.

        So to me, this professor did not stand out (!!) as being particularly incapable of checking sources and data. Sadly.

      • Thanks for the various replies. I’m obviously somewhat naive.

  9. Many ‘alarmists’–a term I’m willing to embrace, since I am in fact ‘alarmed’ by both the science and the politics of all this–can also claim the successful prediction of a rash of ‘it’s been cooling since 2010′ hoopla. (BTW, that would include Gavin Schmidt, as of August 26, 2010.)

  10. I see there appears to be a book coming out on this topic.
    http://www.amazon.com/Inquisition-Climate-Science-James-Powell/dp/0231157185/ref=pd_ys_ir_all_6

    I doubt that anyone that really should will read it though.

  11. Judith has highlighted it herself in her latest post.

    She offers this alternative:

    An alternative explanation is that climate scientists have been put into an impossible situation by the existence of the IPCC (e.g. Ross McKitrick’s analysis). Your thoughts?

    Mostly that Curry’s an idiot, but I suppose a more nuanced response might be more useful.

    • Boy, she has a lot of repellant commenters. What an embarrassment her blog is.

      • Oh, it’s getting better, she’s putting up a string of posts apparently intended to more or less show that mainstream climate science has been thoroughly eviscerated.

        Check out her “denialists vs. alarmists” post as an example of her increasing delusion.

        She’s following up with a post on cloud feedbacks … can’t wait for that.

        Tallbloke’s sense of self-importance was greatly heightened by the fact that he was invited to a Real International Climate Science Conference (TM).

        Curry’s sense of self-importance seems to have been heightened to an extent that makes tallbloke look downright amateurish in comparison.

      • I wonder how running her blog is affecting Curry’s job? Curry cannot teach, conduct research, meet her committee work requirements, supervise students, and write proposals etc. while running her blog the way she has been. I am concerned that her students may be suffering as a result.

        If the world is fair, her blog will self destruct very soon. It really is not worth paying attention to them other than to occasionally satisfy one’s morbid sense of curiosity.

        Her blog is a fascinating social experiment though. The people who frequent her blog are for the most part delusional, D-K cranks. They walk amongst us of course, but their ethics, and cognitive skills dwell in some dark menacing corner somewhere. It seems that they live in this cyber microcosm where they can make themselves be anything they want and convince each other of anything they want, and trump up their importance. To say they are out of touch with reality would be an understatement. Denialism is truly scary, scarier than I imagined in fact.

      • Boy, she has a lot of repellant commenters.

        When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

        What sort of crowd did she think she would attract? Grateful, open-minded truth seekers yearning for “balance”? Her blog reveals the lukewarmers’ true constituency.

      • MapleLeaf,
        Do you really think she puts enough thought into her blog to take much time from her other duties? If she does, it is not evident.

      • Judith Curry is interesting in a way. She clearly made an conscious decision to “engage the skeptics.” I think she’s getting way more than she bargained for.

        I pop in there every so often and the other day I was amazed. A really nothing article she posted had over 300 comments after only a couple of days.

        I don’t know, her blog strikes me the same as deciding it would be a great idea to open up the septic tank in the back yard because maybe it needs to be aired out.

      • I think Fred Moolten and Jim D and Pekka and maxwell, and many I’m forgetting, do a lot of good on the technical threads. I never really wanted to learn the innards of radiative forcing, but now I follow those discussions with relative ease. She likes this Tomas guy. They think we are in a “shift”.

      • I don’t know, her blog strikes me the same as deciding it would be a great idea to open up the septic tank in the back yard because maybe it needs to be aired out.

        Or lifting the nearest sewer manhole cover because rats are such interesting creatures …

      • I’d feel better if the person who was “engaging” with the skeptics had a better grasp of the science herself.

    • That sentence is the pluperfect essence of Curry chum. And then mt wades in as the sharks circle.

      It makes me – and I do mean this quite literally – a little sick to my stomach. This is how the world ends… not with a bang but a WordPress.

      • I love how they spell out to MT under what conditions he and other climate researchers will be allowed to work.

        Remember the Revolution is usually followed by scientists, doctors, and engineers being lined up against the wall …

        (the libertarian engineers always tend to forget that engineers are lumped with the other intellegencia when the bullets start flying…they always imagine themselves to be on the shooting rather than last cigarette side of the battle)

      • OMG, the comments were painful to read.

      • “the libertarian engineers always tend to forget that engineers are lumped with the other intellegencia when the bullets start flying…they always imagine themselves to be on the shooting rather than last cigarette side of the battle”

        Wrong analogy, were closer to Chille 1973 or Spain/Italy 1930’s not Russia 1910’s. Even Rome 400BC would be closer than Russia 1917.

      • Correction, that would 400AD not BC

  12. Rob Honeycutt

    I have to agree with Slioch. As fruitless and frustrating as it is, I think it is immensely important for as many people as possible to continue to shoot down the anti-science. It’s important for this reason:

    The number of readers greatly exceeds the number of posters. When ever you’re on a blog or new site posting keep this in mind. You’re never going to change the mind of that one person who is the hard core denier. But for each hard core denier there are 20 or a 100 or potentially many more people out there silently reading the exchange. THAT, my friends, is your audience.

    Give the denier a good fight. Point out where he is wrong even if you have to repeat yourself 500 times. Do it politely. Do it with the confidence that real research is on your side. And remember that the person you are educating is not the denier, it’s the silent fence-sitters lurking where you don’t see them.

    As Gavin Schmidt pointed out the other day, the deniers are a very small crowd. All we have to do is raise our collective voices just a little in order to drown out their noise.

    • I joined a business forum recently and spotted a thread on climate which was going the way of the Daily Mail. But I just explained a few things at length, got none of the usual abuse, a couple of recommends, and one even said she was off to discuss it more on Facebook as she had no idea about things like 97% versus the Three Percenters, the tobacco school of anti-science, etc. I didn’t even have to link to anything.

      Mistakenly, I thought the same could happen at what claimed to be a collegial discussion blog. Turned out be a hornets nest of neo-libs. You know the rest ;) In all honesty I blame the MSM; controversy sells.

      • Something else I noticed when I posted a bunch of reference videos for a debate on communicating the science and the politics at Bart V’s. When I was looking for the vids (Richard Alley murdering Johnny Cash while explaining subduction, Naomi Oreskes, Gavin Schmidt, etc) it struck me later that while it was easy to find the likes of Kerry Emanuel talking to schoolkids in the search results on Youtube, this was in stark contrast with the likes of Pat Michaels et al who overwhelmingly seemed to crop up in clips of news interviews. It was like a measure of how the mainstream scientists are more interested in educating, while the denialists are more interested in propagandising.

      • J Bowers… You’re totally right. They have a huge megaphone but we have sheer numbers and the real research to back us up. If our numbers will just raise their voices I think we can swamp their megaphones.

      • Ray… I’ve actually had quite a lot of success with posting on smaller denier sites. I just try to remain very polite even if people attack me and I just try to present the science as I understand it (mostly researched from Skeptical Science). I’ve had a number of people contact me and tell me that I helped change their mind on the issue.

    • I agree. Every piece of zombie BS is an invitation to educate–not the poster so much as the lurkers.

    • “But for each hard core denier there are 20 or a 100 or potentially many more people out there silently reading the exchange. THAT, my friends, is your audience. “

      I think sometimes we mistake the most persistent pathological sceptics, that we get into arguments with, as genuinely arguing with us – trying to counter our points with their sincerely held (but mad/wrong/stupid etc) anti-science views. As Mr Honeycutt writes, there are vastly greater numbers of silent readers. The pathological sceptics are probably actually really writing at, and to convince, the silent onlookers – that would explain why, when we shoot down a piece of nonsense, with some well researched but complex material they don’t actually seem to notice. Their answers are not really made to counter our arguments but rather are made to fool the onlookers that the “debate” is at least equally balanced.

      When we argue back, we are fighting against some who simply don’t care whether they are wrong or not, just as long as they seem convincing to the general public. In short, propagandists.
      l

      • Nick and Rob, I’d love to think you were right. I see no evidence of it, though. The lurkers have pretty much made up their minds because they don’t want to accept that their drive to comfort is creating a living hell for their progeny. Somehow, we’ve raised a generation of idiots, and they just happen to be the generation in power when the critical decisions need to be made.

      • I dunno, Ray. Based on my posts in our local rag or arguments on FB, I’ve had lurkers tell me they’ve learned something. If nothing else, they don’t accept the “skeptical” argument uncritically.

        BTW, in he middle of a discussion on a FB thread started by an ex-FredCo county commissioner, the son of this guy challenged me to debate an expert from the other side on his radio show. I declined, citing the fact that the better rhetorician has the advantage and that scientists are bound by the truth. He responded with a classic Gish gallop, which I duly pointed out.

      • Whoops, posted my comment on the wrong line…

        Ray… I’ve actually had quite a lot of success with posting on smaller denier sites. I just try to remain very polite even if people attack me and I just try to present the science as I understand it (mostly researched from Skeptical Science). I’ve had a number of people contact me and tell me that I helped change their mind on the issue.

  13. Horatio Algeranon

    ‘skeptics’ are allowed to make up whatever they want at will without consequence,

    This is the end
    Beautiful trend
    This is the end
    My only trend, the end…

    The End

    (Sorry Jim..Hansen, that is)

  14. David B. Benson

    This is the way the world ends.
    This is the way the world ends.
    Not with a bang but a whimper.

    — T.S. Elliot

  15. Say not, “The struggle nought availeth,
    The labour and the wounds are vain,
    The enemy faints not nor faileth,
    And as things have been they remain.”

    If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
    It may be, in yon smoke concealed,
    Your comrades chase e’en now the fliers,
    And, but for you, possess the field.

    For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
    Seem here no painful inch to gain,
    Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
    Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

    And not by eastern windows only,
    When daylight comes, comes in the light;
    In front, the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
    But westward, look, the land is bright!

    Authur Hugh Clough (1819-1861)

  16. Rattus Norvegicus

    At last Knappenberger admits what he’s up to.

  17. David B. Benson

    Its not a skeptic approach, its a crank approach.

    Climate cranks, that’s all they are.

  18. [edit]

    [Response: Please, no embedded video in comments.]

  19. sadly, this isnt just a climate science problem, this is why the democratic countries will eventually collapse due to inefficiency

  20. Sounds a lot like what the medical field has had to endure wrt Supplementary, Complementary and Alternative Medicines (SCAMS). Treatments like homeopathy can be invented by divine inspiration, bypassing all the rigorous procedure of real medicine, yet millions of $ are expected to be spent to ascertain the validity of theories that obviously violate physics, chemistry and biology. (thanks to Mark Crislip and his Quack Cast)

  21. Interesting that the skeptics are attempting to portray the climate science community as a commercial industry that needs to show profit to maintain itself. I am coming from the peak oil analysis side where no funding exists and no real academic discipline stands behind it. All you really have is amateurs working it. So instead of getting branded as heavily-funded elitists, oil depletion analysts get the crank or kook tag and the brush-off.

    • Well that idea has some currency among the mouth-foaming segment of the pseudoskeptic groundlings. More attractive to the “lukewarmers” and others angling for the status of the principled opposition to the climate science priesthood is the not-a-conspiracy conspiracy posited by McKitrick in Curry’s chum at the end of that post. In it, McKitrick analogizes the entire mainstream of the climate science community – encompassing a range of perspectives – to the New Keynesian school of contemporary economics: in essence suggesting the consensus view is a fad elevated to groupthink by the IPCC.

      This is congenial to Curry’s drift of making the institution the bad guy rather than any one individual, but conveniently ignores that there was no “school” of climate science prior to the UNFCCC that held that climate change was caused by sunspots, or didn’t exist, or whatever.

      • Uh, so how do they explain that outside panels by, oh, obscure organizations like the National Academies, have weighed in on the side of the climate scientists…the real ones, I mean? How the f*** does this sort of BS not get laughed right out of the Overton window.

      • Many people have probably never heard of the National Academies, and would not understand what they do.

      • Holly, I fear you are right. I really wonder what happened to people in the US to make them think reality was negotiable.

      • There are certainly a great many people who don’t know who or what the National Academy is. It’s the perfect opportunity to educate someone.

  22. Raf, I have news for you–it’s not just the democracies that are going to collapse.

  23. Was wondering who started to class the “decline of invitation” as a “Refusal” by Dr. Schmidt. Seen it now on at least 3 (Real) climate blogs.

  24. Sekerob:

    Was wondering who started to class the “decline of invitation” as a “Refusal” by Dr. Schmidt. Seen it now on at least 3 (Real) climate blogs.

    This sense of obligation has been there from the beginning, though not necessarily as explicit as “refusal”.

    Thinking about it, though … viewing it as an obligation rather than opportunity makes the misrepresentation of his reasoning much more compelling … “he refused to come because he insists the science is settled and there’s nothing to discuss”.

  25. Interesting discussion. It occurs to me that the denialists that fail to be swayed by the science have a fundamental flaw in their way of thinking scientifically. They basically engage in anomaly hunting and outlier detection (similar to the way that alternative medicine types seek out anecdotal evidence). While these are important ways to start the scientific process, they must then be turned into a testable hypothesis. The lesson ultimately comes from the test of the hypothesis, not the anomaly.

    When engaging with denialist arguments, I think it may be helpful to teach that process in the hopes that some will engage in the true scientific method. So, when someone says, “yes, but this glacier is advancing” the response should be to turn that observation of an anomaly into a hypothesis. “It is impossible for a glacier to advance in a warming environment” “If global warming exists then a sampling of 50 randomly selected glaciers worldwide will yield more that are receding than advancing.” These are testable hypotheses the answers to which will make scientists take note. Until you move beyond just pointing to anomalies, your argument is meaningless. This is the point that has to be driven home.

    [Response: Well said. Well heeded.]

    • One for Willard, I imagine.

    • I think you have highlighted a critical insight here–that the scientific method is more than simple empirical investigation. It is model-driven empirical investigation. It is the interplay between theory and experiment that produce the ultimate product of the scientific method–understanding.

      I hope people read and take heed of what you’ve written, because I think it is critically important–as well as being clearly argued.

  26. A-fucking-men. Good god he hit it on the head. I’m all for testable hypotheses and discourse with people that might or might not be interested in the same. But every once in a while it’s a spiritual gift to read something as cogent and persuasive as Chris C’s excerpt above. Pass go and collect your $200.

  27. I think that Curry has booted me off her blog…*sigh*

    The way I see it – climate denial blogs like hers are like porn for the denialists. Curry acts as the fluffer – when the flow of denial slows down, she comes in, flutters her eyes and coyly invites her boys to play. A quick tickle here on “uncertainty”, some stroking on “IPCC” and what was a flaccid post comes back to life! They eat this stuff up, getting each other more and more aroused as the lunacy increases. Say “the IPCC is a cover for the NWO” or “Al Gore is working for the Chinese” and climax is reached !

    • Really? What happened to her almost-no-moderation policy?

      I guess you were raising too many points she can’t answer.

      • Well, I’d say heavily moderated is now the norm.

        In the true spirit of “post normal science”, I was challenging their orthodoxies and presenting my own version of scientific enquiry.

        They had a special post from a sewerage engineer on ‘clouds’ – he styles himself after a cartoon character. I pointed out that a better role model was Spongebob Squarepants and they took offence…

  28. LOL it Curry the fluffer…

    For another amusing read, a chap on FB just posted this

    Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science
    Robert L. Park, Ph.D

  29. It is not uncommon to read completely incorrect statements in peer-reviewed and published scientific documents, esp. review papers, where mistakes tend to become compounded. I just read one today (Verspoor, Stradmeyer and Nielsen, Blackwell, 2007) regarding Atlantic salmon, which states that landlocked Atlantic salmon naturally existed in New Hampshire. They didn’t. The primary editor is from Europe and must have carelessly read the primary texts. This stuff shouldn’t happen, but it does happen. I only caught the mistake because I have the primary, cited text sitting next to me.

  30. Ewww. I think we can do without comparing Curry to porn actors. Pretty tasteless, guys.

    [Response: I just looked up the meaning of "fluffer." I agree we can do without that analogy.

    We can be just as brutally honest, with a lot more class. Please.]

  31. Good call tamino. Other than making me feel like a degenerate because I didn’t have to look the word up.

  32. Yup. Trolling. Don’t let’em claim they’re coming from here.

  33. Susan Anderson

    re fudging and fluffing – I think I may have been the original sinner on this. In the early days when Gavin Schmidt was trying to get some real science into the discussion with Judith Curry, I started labeling what I saw her do “fudging and fluffing”. My reference was to a quote in some novel by some woman saying “don’t fluff” to which the guy said “I’m no fluffing”. It had to do with pretending to know something when you don’t, and supporting your information with bogus authority. This meaning is common in English literature of a certain period, kind of board-school-ish. Using the language in this way is entirely appropriate IMNHSO, but since anything we do can be misconstrued, I will desist and admit the definition might be different in different contexts. However, “fluffing” will forever be associated in my mind with creating hot air to avoid answering a question, and I believe this is also a correct definition.

    One more suggestion as we are discussing tactics with lurkers when answering obvious denial propaganda. It is important not to accuse these people of base motives, whether or not it is true. If they are innocent and misled, they will know that they are not paid or otherwise venial in their pushing out of the party line. I know opinion is stubborn, but making accusations that the person knows are untrue is a certain way to close their minds to what you are trying to convey.

    My specialty is teaching drawing from life to beginners, and the first thing is to get rid of the “mist” of fear and preconception that prevents straight sight. I found scientists excellent at casting away mists of illustion, more than any other group. Science is, no matter the fashion of the moment, ultimately interested in what is and what is provable. That’s the important thing. It also must be moved out of its reductionist limitations.

  34. Being proper and ladylike and older, I’ve never before come across the term ‘fluffer’. I am familiar with Susan’s use of the term ‘fluffing’.

    Reminds me of a word that Bart edited out of one of my posts, when I surmised that Curry was going bonkers (ie off her rocker, loony, crazy, losing her mind). I think he may have confused the word with ‘bonking’ as that term is commonly defined in the UK.

    Does the English language have too many different meanings assigned to similar roots? (pun intended :) )