Concern Trolls

I’m on a roll. I’ve been hitting the fake “skeptics” where they live by showing just how stupid is the stupid shit they’ve been saying.

How can I tell that the fake skeptics are feeling the heat? Simple: the concern trolls are coming out of the woodwork.


You know the type. The kind who will proceed to lecture me about how the data are so noisy that “Everything else really has too much noise to put forth anything but a tentative suggestion of what is happening overall.” About sea ice data, no less. The detailed analysis on which such claims are based? It usually amounts to “My own view of the data.”

Then they end by telling me to skip the insults.

They rarely get around to mentioning what insults. I’ll get specific. When I’ve presented detailed analysis of some data (like sea ice, for instance) based on decades of experience analyzing time series in the physical sciences (including inventing useful new methods), then you come here and disparage my conclusions based on your “view of the data” or “a few minutes looking at the data,” that is an insult. It insults me, it insults the intelligence of my readers, and it sure seems to be based on nothing more than your grossly inflated ego. The stupidity and arrogance with which the ignorant assert their nonsense, could well be considered a far worse insult than anything I’ve ever said about any of the fake “skeptics.”

So here’s my plea to the concern trolls: Keep ‘em comin’! For one thing, when you fake-skeptics-in-disguise say “ouch” I know I’ve hit the bulls-eye. For another thing, you will often serve as the best “foil” I could possibly have asked for. Thank you.

As for the “fawning uncritical thinkers” who frequent this habitat, I urge you remember this maxim: All trolls are wrong … but some trolls are useful.

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45 responses to “Concern Trolls

  1. The trolls of the beast, a carefully built apparatus of lies…

  2. Or, as a street preacher once observed, “Th’ow a stick into a pack of dogs, ain’t none of ‘em yelp if they don’ get hit.”

  3. Tamino, I’m concerned that your hostility and profane rhetoric might undercut your message and play into their hands.

    [Response: I’ll credit you with courage; it can’t have been easy to post that particular comment on this particular thread. I’ll also credit you with not polluting your comment with scientific nonsense. So … it’s possible that you’re concerned, but not a troll.

    If that’s the case, then stick around. As my regular readers know, most of what we do here is science. If you find something puzzling, or something you disagree with, say so. You might be surprised how civil we are with those who don’t insult us or try to shove nonsense down our throats.

    But be advised, I call things by their right names and I don’t worry about being “politically correct.”

    To the rest of the readers, if you think I’m naive to hope Shelama might be sincere you’re entitled to your opinion. But until I see evidence of insincerity, lay off.]

  4. ROFLMAO! You tell ‘em, Tamino-sama!

  5. Ho Ho Ho. The

    Taradiddles
    Revisited
    Obfirm
    Logical
    Lacunae
    Systematically

    They typically Talk Rubbish Occupying Lengthy Lines to which
    a Taciturn Response of Limited Lepidity is required!

    Tamino finds their Turgid Rabelais Obscuring Lucid Logic and so must coax them out from under the bridge (so to speak) and challenge them to submit their Tabula Rasa Of Laughable Lucidity Involving No Good to proper scrutiny. Of course they always refuse!
    .
    Instead they sprout Purposefully Insouciant Sentences Saying Awfully Negative Things Revealing Undisguised Biased Blather Implying Stellar Hypocrisy.

    Or else Patently Ignorant Sentences Saying Awfully Nitwitted Things Revealing Undisguised Biockheaded Blather Indicating Stellar Half-wittedness

    But Tamino Recognises Obvious Logical LemmingS for what they are and calls their Blogorrhea Utterances Listing Logical Silliness Hardly Impyling Truth for what it is

    You can tell them to Try Reasoning on Logical Lines but they are Differently Equipped Logically Utilising Distinctly Exasperating Diatribe and so must be
    labelled as a Doubter Understanding No Climate Evidence.

    Go Tamino – love the Blog

  6. I just got a beautiful comment on my blog from “Scottisch” “Sceptic” aka Mike Haseler: Perhaps the best way to put it is this. If you are an academic you are almost certainly being paid through taxes paid by most sceptics. As such you have a duty to do a good job and not to attack your paymaster. So when we find scientists attacking those who fund them, then sceptics rightly feel their money is not being well spent.

    I hope I do not have to translate what his vision of science would do to scientific progress.

  7. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse

    Concern trolls?
    No…
    Advocates for the integrity of science!

    The world needs more of those…

    [Response: In my opinion, the greatest threat to the integrity of science is actual scientists who participate in promulgating nonsense. They should be called by their right names.]

    • The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse

      Agreed.

      In threat units: 1 Curry = 1 megaMonckton.

    • The Good Reverend needs to look at some of the jibes by Wolfgang Pauli.

      Ridicule is a perfectly reasonable response to the ridiculous.

      • The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse

        Indeed it is.

        “I do not mind if you think slowly, but I do object when you publish more quickly than you think.”
        ― Wolfgang Pauli

  8. I see either two or four bracketed tools now, depending on where the cursor is: [hush][hide comment][kill]​[hide comment]
    If that’s displaying as it should be, an explanation or a pointer to one, kept handy somewhere in the sidebar, might encourage appropriate use.

    The idea behind killfile is to let each of us choose not to see (something — a topic, or a userid) when we’ve decided that’s wise, because we know it would trick us into making an unproductive response (“feeding a troll”).

    Killfile has been meant for those who choose to keep the conversation focused. It’s a self-control device carried over from Usenet News (and invaluable, when used).

    But I can’t quite tell how it’s working
    or meant to work
    in WordPress here.

  9. Tamino, My own experience as a science blogger and avid social network participant is that in these days, if you tell someone it is ignorant (directely or indirectely), he perceived that as an insult. I do not count the number of time I tried to correct some very basic erronous concept in science and have been told that I was insulting. It appears that for some person, if you disagree on one point you are against them and if you agree on one point your are on their friend.

    In a completely different topic, what would be your book suggestion on time serie analysis? I starting a new career as a consultant, and data analysis is part of my expertise. I am pretty good, but there is still many thing I can learn.

    [Response: I’m hardly current with textbooks, but Shumway & Stoffer’s “Time Series Analysis and its Applications” is pretty good.

    After I finish my set on Fourier analysis, I’m planning to finish my book on “Time Series Analysis for Physical Scientists.” But it’ll be a while.]

    • Thanks for the suggestion. If you need a reviewer for your book on Fourier analysis, I would be pleased to give a hand. I have worked for a company that making Fourrier transform spectrometer. I was part of the algo group. I am somewhat rusty, but I understand many of the subtleties of the field.

  10. When one is publicly representing an organization such as a university or government department, standards of forced civility and tolerance may be higher.

    But if not, don’t hesitate to go for the jugular. I’m a sold believer in both tit-for-tat and understanding your adversaries. (The main focus on data and solid interpretation remaining unchanged, of course.)

  11. “Keep ‘em comin’!”

    My version is “Keep Talking, Wingnuts.”

    The idea that we should be nice to people who’s actions will lead to less being done to combat the largest disaster in the history of the world is sickening to me. They should be ridiculed mercilessly every chance we get.

    • Ridicule is the nicest thing such people should expect, they’ll hopefully get (and deserve) pretty short shrift later when things really fall to pieces.

      [Response: I’m often an unforgiving critic of misinformers. But when things really fall to pieces, that’s when it will be most important for us to be forgiving.]

  12. “never get in a farting match with an asshole”

  13. > ridiculed mercilessly

    That allows the delayers to step into a pose of reasoned sincerity.

    I’ve seen this work quite effectively on many occasions, first in the 1960s, when DuPont had fake scientists going to colleges to “debate” the mostly young and passionate biologists who were raising concerns about DDT.

    Be careful moving toward ridicule.

    There are always young people coming along who won’t know who’s lying, and aren’t yet well enough educated to understand the facts and the arithmetic.

    Passion for facts works.

  14. Tamino, you sure have ‘em bovvered. Good work!

  15. I’m with Hank and Tamino on this one. There has to be room for Rubes like me to find friends, because when you’re seeking after fact, in the early stages it can be a very lonely place. Generally, it’s easy to spot a CT because they proffer thinly disguised denialist BS as the basis of their ‘concern’, whereas genuinely confused Rubes just ask dumb-ass questions in all innocence. Also, when asked, a Rube may actually go and read the source material, soething I’ve never seen a CT do, or surprisingly, pretend to have done…

  16. There are plenty of places for concern trolls to visit if they want to promulgate their wares and gum up an otherwise scientific discussion. But this is not what they want.

    They know that Tamino is scoring palpable hits against their nonsense and they want to muddy the waters here too (because heaven forbid that their crud is somewhere shown to be the nonsense that it is) but their glass jaws can’t handle the truth. I’m all for calling a spade a spade, and if more people called them out (yes, politely is always good* in the initial stages if they’re not obviously mendacious) then there’d be far less pollution of discussions about the science of global warming.

    Onya Tamino.

    [*Sou’s another who’s on the ball and nice about it. She attracts a lot of such traffic because she’s out there popping the miasmatic bubbles of Watts and Co, and indeed there’s a bit of concern trolling occurring right now by ‘Grieg‘, who is concerned that we aren’t sure enough about the effects of warming to be able to act without damaging our Economy. I invited him here to restate his case, just to see if he has the testicular fortitude to restate his position in the face of Tamino’s challenge.

    I am not optimistic.]

    [Response: I consider myself reasonably well-informed about the science. But my knowledge of policy options is poor.]

  17. About your righteous and correct beeotching about those who come here, with no expertise, and diss yours…

    http://thefederalist.com/2014/01/17/the-death-of-expertise/

    • By golly, HarryWiggs, that is a fantastic article. Sums up most of what is wrong with trying to interact with (most) people on-line today.

      DK seems to rule the roost these days, especially at places that are not well moderated. Rational people just get shouted down in the comments by the know-nothings. It really is the on-line equivalent of playground bullies who can’t stand the smart kid. Just what we feckin’ need when we thought those episodes in our lives were all behind us.

      As always, though, the burning question is: what can we do about it?

  18. [Response: I consider myself reasonably well-informed about the science. But my knowledge of policy options is poor.]

    I think that in Grieg’s case his position is that we shouldn’t deviate from current economic policy at all, given his claim that there is a “lack of quantification in the consensus” on the “quantification of the rate and degree of warming that we are likely to experience in the future”. He’s even overt in his concern trolling, with his claim that “[c]oncern for wealth is actually far more important [the responding to climate change] to the world’s poor in developing countries, who are attempting to emerge from poverty”.

    Apparently preserving a habitable planet roons (roons I say!) economies and prevents the giving of assistance to the world’s poor – at least, that’s effectively the policy argument from Grieg…

  19. As I’ve discovered, its remarkably hard to be a concern troll on “skeptic” blogs. Their troll antennae are highly evolved:-)

  20. I sometimes get told I’d “catch more” with honey than snark. It’s complete BS of course.

    There have been some classic threads where people are busy accusing all and sundry of being “warmist, commie, fascist, nazi, lysenkoist, cultists etc etc” and worse, so as to avoid discussing science – only to have those same people take offense when someone uses the word “skeptic” in inverted commas.

    Diplomacy has it’s place but I prefer plain speaking as a rule.

  21. Keep it up, Tamino, when you get that sort of attention you know they are hurting.

  22. Plain speak is good. Is it effective?

    The contrarian strategy succeeds by creating (managing) perceptions, not by a neutral exposition of the science. Do we expect to counter that effectively by serving up the facts with a generous garnish of contempt for the intellectually bankrupt? I think it plays well to the home crowd, but I’m not sure that will appeal to the fence-sitters, the inquisitive dissenters and the disengaged who wander by. Isn’t that who we should be persuading?

    Sou, do you believe you catch more people with snark than with honey?

    • Do we expect to counter that effectively by serving up the facts with a generous garnish of contempt for the intellectually bankrupt?

      That’s not what Tamino did, of course.

    • Tamino was speaking generally in the post above and so am I. Examples abound here and elsewhere.The contempt ‘fake skeptics’ inspire is usually well-deserved. I can even enjoy reading some of it, as it voices my years-long frustration with the irrationality and mendacity of ideologues. But if persuading the unenrolled has any importance it’s probably counter-productive.

    • Hard core deniers will never change their mind, but ridiculing their nonsense does make a difference I reckon. It makes it more boring. Plus snark is much more fun that pretending to be polite and nice and charming and forgiving about the idiocy that passes for “science” at WUWT.

      How many “it’s the insects” have we seen lately? Okay – the “russian steam pipes cause global warming” and “airport UHI disease” were close. On the other hand, there have hardly been any “ice age cometh” articles in the last few months. There hasn’t been nearly as much mockery of individual scientists lately either – tho WUWT-ers continue to deride any and all published papers.

  23. Every morning, I check in at the 18 AGW-related sites I have bookmarked.

    My favourite site is this one -for pretty much the same reason Judith Curry’s site is my least favourite. Curry has nary a harsh word to say about anybody, but one need only check out her blog roll and half a dozen posts to see there is a definite agenda underneath the veneer of politeness. You have to read Curry closely (I think Roger Pielke Jnr is similar) before it’s clear enough where she stands -at least at WUWT, it takes about 30 seconds to see the site is a sack of cut snakes.

    Given Curry’s education, the kinds of science-bashing she allows at her site under the pretense of ‘democratising science’ is far more offensive than Tamino telling someone he’s full of shit.

    It’s surely a good thing that there are sites with a high standard of scientific information and a more ‘gentile’ tone than this site, (Victor Verema, And then there’s Physics, RealClimate, for example) but there must always be a place within the spectrum of science education, for the expert who will treat public-bar intellectualism the way it would be treated in a bar. Why not go all ‘Good Will Hunting’ on their dumb-asses?

    I’ve been involved with political with political parties and groups for 27 years…the tone here is pretty laid back.

    • “Given Curry’s education, the kinds of science-bashing she allows at her site under the pretense of ‘democratising science’ is far more offensive than Tamino telling someone he’s full of shit.” I could not agree more.

  24. Horatio Algeranon

    Concerning Trolling

    The science here lately concerns me greatly
    I mourn the day when bunk held sway
    And nonsense ruled and folks were fooled
    And graphs were tiny and posters whiny
    And short-term trends were means to ends
    And physical laws gave way to pause
    And claims of fraud were to applaud
    This blog, once swell, has gone to hell
    So let’s get back to science hack
    Shall we?

    • Marvellous. Horatio, I enjoy these poems almost as much as I enjoy (fawning uncritically over) Tamino’s expert analyses.

  25. Horatio Algeranon

    “FIQs and FAQs”
    — by Horatio Algeranon

    Finance IQ’s are really high
    On Wall Street, where they touch the sky
    But here on earth, they don’t mean squat
    Cuz temperature ain’t a random trot