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« The Cambridge conference - videos | Main | The two cultures of science »
Monday
Aug012011

A conspiracy of warmists

An extraordinary pair of postings at the Chronicle of Higher Education dealing with the machinations of some fairly prominent online proponents of the AGW hypothesis. The comments threads are particularly ugly, but I don't think they will have won many converts.

 

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Reader Comments (35)

Welcome back Bish.

I read the Peter Wood article and most of the comments. I kept going, 'Wow!', 'What?', 'WTF?', and so on as I read the comments, many from serious academics, it seems.

I'm half-way through the HSI (thanks to Kindle @ Amazon) and kept wondering if Peter Wood would dare to make any reference to you or McIntyre but it became apparent that his 'audience' already thought you both to be spawn of the Devil himself.

For all that, it their hagiographic defence of Mann, no one seemed to be aware that Mann deliberately withheld his data and code and used weasel words to get around this disgraceful corruption of science. But then, I'm sure they would have been quite happy to defend that in some way. Pity they couldn't cut some slack for Wegman, who seems to be their class A1 bogeyman. I expected a lot better from 'academics'.

Aug 1, 2011 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

Interesting find Bish (and welcome back). But which 'pair of postings'? I've read the Peter Wood of 30th June (and a few words of the comments - I quickly came to feel there were more important things in life). Was there another?

Aug 1, 2011 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Ah, too clever for me. The second is linked from 'pair' - Climate Thuggery. Looks well worth a read.

Aug 1, 2011 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Richard,
The two articles are an enormous lead. The Stalinist Football Club, in their baking of this layer cake of climatofanatical activism, have endorsed Peter Wood's original characterization. They just added another layer.

In an attempt to combat any form of questioning of the American Climate Establishment Orthodoxy - "Mann is an angel" - one of them carried out the same genus of activities that Wood raised to question in his original article,...against Wood himself. This is priceless. There is a name for their tactics - I put it out on my blog here. I don't want to repeat it here though.

I can even guess who, it might have been, that contacted Wood's offices sniffing for the trail of big oil money.

Ironically, Mashey provides links from desmogblog.com to support his position. Big Gambling versus Big Oil. Oooh! The excitement. Why desmogblog all the time? Anybody curious?

Isn't it ironical, that whenever Michael Mann's name is uttered on the Internets, it never comes unaccompanied by words like 'scurrilious', 'slander', 'libel'?

Aug 1, 2011 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

lol, My oh my! Some ruffled feathers over there! I particularly liked the

Scott A Mandia 1 month ago
Mann has a tattered reputation? Not with those that understand science or can read a T reconstruction plot. As I showed here (http://profmandia.wordpress.co...
DR. MANN’S WORK HAS BEEN VERIFIED BY MANY OTHER SCIENTISTS"

Scott has obviously not read your book Bish and probably uses RE rather than R2!

Aug 1, 2011 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Shub, almost too much information. I hadn't heard the phrase ratf**king but the first specific example I read about concerns a planted lie about Henry "Scoop" Jackson in the early 70s. (In fact it was more twisted than that and that's important too.) Jackson had a key role in the major political good of the second half of the twentieth century - the implosion of the Soviet empire. He put his finger on the business links that were propping up the totalitarian mess and actually did something about it. So it's striking indeed where Nixon's black ops concentrated their attack.

As for Peter Wood, what is remarkable is his self-control. He doesn't even criticise Mann in his initial post but John Mashey (an interesting figure to me, with the MIPS background). But you're right that the defenders interpret this as an attack on all they hold dear, with the traditional use of "'scurrilious', 'slander', 'libel'" even though Wood throughout steers an eminently reasonable course, not taking sides on AGW itself but calling thuggery by its name. Respect.

Aug 1, 2011 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

The posts by Peter Wood make excellent sense to me. I do have some sympathy for the argument that Climate Science is not a standard field of enquiry, due to its intense political relevance. This is doubtless one of the reasons why defensiveness, lack of openness, etc. occur. Take another example: Ed Wilson's (and other's) theories about biology, evolution, and human behaviour, called sociobiology, were very controversial in some circles at the time, to the extent that Wilson once had water poured all over him at a seminar. That kind of thing led to lasting animosity between pro- and anti-sociobiologists, which persist in some form now. As an aside, that's another argument that Steve Jones of BBC Review fame is involved in. By definition, it is easier to be dispassionate about things that people don't have strong feelings about. It is also worth noting that in the very politicized field of US academia, Peter Wood and the National Association of Scholars are not exactly sat bang in the neutral centre. So the people commenting on his posts may be doing so with additional vigour on those grounds.

But how amazingly vicious they are... Do they not see that by being so, they prove Wood's point for him, in spades? By the way, Anna Haynes is someone who tried to r*****k Jud Curry also.

Aug 1, 2011 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Harvey

Many of the comments copme from the same identifiable characters. The nasty, ill-humored, obtuse reactions to Peter Wood's article suggests to me that he has struck a nerve. Whatever Joe Romm has may be catching.

Aug 1, 2011 at 2:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie

"Isn't it ironical, that whenever Michael Mann's name is uttered on the Internets, it never comes unaccompanied by words like 'scurrilious', 'slander', 'libel'?"
Aug 1, 2011 at 1:01 PM | Shub

Help me out here Shub/Bish. I love the leads you both give us but I simply cannot understand after all this time and the unending list of the team's defenders using the "Libel" word why it has never come to pass.

Bish obviously must have had legal help on the HSI or is well educated with respect to the laws on this and I do understand there are subtle differences between the law in the U.S., the U.K. and blogs.
Its hard enough driving through the straw men, ad homs and appeals to authority without the libel camouflage!

Aug 1, 2011 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Welcome back, Bish!
The Peter Wood article is quite fair, but the comments from Mann's and the Hockey Team's supporters are quite illuminating as to the quality of reasoned discourse in some quarters. Quite funny in their sheer outrage at any person saying a word against the great Mann!

Aug 1, 2011 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

By the way, I do realize that we have the Michael Mann vs Tim Ball thing. Any news on that guys?

Aug 1, 2011 at 2:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Now I've read both articles and their comments, my all-time favourite comment has to the one from a TennyNaumer, who must rank as one of Mann's most loyal - and foul-mouthed - groupies. She says:

"John Mashey does not silence Dr. Mann's faux critics -- he merely exposes them for the low-life scum that they are. You [Peter Wood] also fall into that camp. You write here the most amazing bunch of lies. I still don't understand why the Chronicle permits you to post your slander here. I'd really like an answer to that one. Everyone knows what you are."

Bearing in mind that all Peter Wood was trying to do was encourage a more moderate tone in the AGW/Skeptic discussions, it seems the warmists camp feels it has a lot to hide. And perhaps, what they are trying to hide is the fact that Mann and is Team seem so coy about publishing their data and the sums they used to get the hockey stick.

Aug 1, 2011 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

Snotrocket:

Bearing in mind that all Peter Wood was trying to do was encourage a more moderate tone in the AGW/Skeptic discussions

One of the remarkable facets of the response (with 60 comments showing as I write) is that nobody refers to this passage from Wood:

This warning can be turned against some of the global warming skeptics as well. There is, for example, a blogger who writes as “The Hockey Schtick” who refers to Mann’s 1998 article in Nature (which introduced the hockey stick graph) as “the most thoroughly discredited paper of the modern age.” Rhetorical excess for rhetorical excess. Some of Mann’s defenders, however, much as they preen themselves as defenders of scientific rigor, are skating in the same rink.

If I were a warmist (such to the tune of "If I were a rich man") I would at once make a point of agreeing with Wood that this comment was out of order (Mann08 is not yet a world record holder in this regard) as a way of establishing common ground. But such basic (even biased) courtesy clearly has no place in the lexicon of the defender of climate orthodoxy. Complete moral as well as scientific superiority must be asserted at all times and no agreement entered into that casts this into doubt.

This is pathological as well as illogical, if you have any interest in convincing others. It's both rational and benevolent to want the power of such unstable and angry people to wane very greatly. It will do them good too.

Aug 1, 2011 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Like Jeremy I can see a lot to agree with, especially in the second article. In particular these quotes from the start


It surprises me, however, that proponents of AGW, or what might be called the climate orthodoxy section of AGW theory, often respond to criticism and dissent with a kind of fury. Far from welcoming discussion, they seek to suppress it. In doing so they jeopardize both their own authority and the prestige of the scientific community.

the middle

The hardball approach of his defenders is in large part a reflex of this loss of prestige and authority. The proponents of AGW, however, have chosen a very foolish tactic. Bullying skeptics and sneering at those who raise questions is no way to regain public trust.

and particularly the conclusions

The science will, in due course, be sorted out. Shoddy hypotheses will be discarded. Data massaged to accommodate models will prove discrepant with better observations. It could be that anthropogenic global warming will win out as a valid theory; it could be otherwise. I’m not taking sides on the science. But when it comes to efforts to silence debate and intimidate critics, I very much take the side of those who want to see science rid of such mischief.

almost sum up where I am coming from.


It is, of course, true that there are people on both sides behaving badly, but the sheer nastiness of the Hockey Team never ceases to amaze me.

Aug 1, 2011 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Jones

Jo Nova has a timely reminder of the relevance and nature of cults to the climate debate. I have emboldened two of the most relevant to this thread:

'Here are ten of this AGW ideology’s very specific characteristics, many of whose roots and lock-step influences can be found in Walter Martin’s and Ravi Zacharias’ definitive, award-winning 2003 book, “Kingdom of the Cults:”

Leadership by a self-glorifying, manipulative New Age Prophet — in this case, former Vice-President Al Gore, though he is possibly being supplanted by President Barack Obama.
Assertion of an apocalyptic threat to all mankind.
An absolutist definition of both the threat and the proposed solution(s).
Promise of a salvation from this pending apocalypse.
Devotion to an inspired text which (arguendo) embodies all the answers — in this case, Prophet Gore’s pseudo-scientific book “Earth in the Balance” and his more recent ”An Inconvenient Truth” documentary.
A specific list of “truths” (see the Ten Commandments listed below) which must be embraced and proselytized by all Cult members..
An absolute intolerance of any deviation from any of these truths by any Cult member.
A strident intolerance of any outside criticism of the Cult’s definition of the problem or of its proposed solutions.

A “Heaven-on-Earth” vision of the results of the mission’s success and/or a “Hell-on-Earth” result if the cultic mission should fail.
An inordinate fear (and an outright rejection of the possibility) of being proven wrong in either the apocalyptic vision or the proposed salvation.'

More, and more links, here: http://joannenova.com.au/2011/08/the-branch-carbonian-cult/

Aug 1, 2011 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Could it perhaps be the Climate Science Rapid Response Team at work?

The comments on the first article seem to both ignore the actual focus of the article (for me, commentary on practices in science and higher education, with climate science and John Mashey's tactics in particular, as an example, but YMMV), and to relentlessly 'prove' climate science, defend Michael Mann, and attack the poster and anyone else in sight. All while shrieking foul!!, libel!!!, slander!! et seq.
While this may be the norm in academia and academic debate, for many in the (vastly more numerous) 'business world', or perhaps more accurately 'general public', it is a guaranteed way to get your message ignored.
The trust has been lost, and is not easily regained, especially not by demanding it.

Interestingly, perhaps some of the faux outrage is due to a simple inability to understand english?
Peter Woods referred to John Mashey indulging in 'flyspecking', which is 'To examine closely or in minute detail; scrutinize', which sounds like a pretty good epithet to me. It was instead interpreted by the perpetually indignant as 'a flyspeck.'

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/07/peter_wood.php

Aug 1, 2011 at 5:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterChuckles

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Aug 1, 2011 at 5:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Wow! Thanks for bringing this to the fore. Some of these folk are genuinely, foaming-at-the-mouth rabid.

Aug 1, 2011 at 5:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterDiogenes

Pete H

It's worse than you thought! Scott A Mandia is a Professor of Physical Science, [Suffolk County Community College NY State since 1991] never misses an opportunity on realclimate to dismiss the slightest criticism of the "hockey team" [always in fairly unpleasant terms] and uses Cook's scepticalscience site as the basis for one of his courses.

He would no more read our host's book than try flying to the moon unaided. By the way welcome back Bish - weren't we well behaved in your absence?

Aug 1, 2011 at 6:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Hewitt

So where's the conspiracy as promised in the title?

Aug 1, 2011 at 7:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterHengist McStone

It's a reference to all the comments about Peter Wood's funding but I was also looking for a collective noun for the Masheys and Naumers of this world and "conspiracy" seemed like a good one, although it's already used - for ravens.

Aug 1, 2011 at 8:17 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Welcome back, Bish!

We've been behaving really well whilst you were away :-))

I've now read the two articles - and perused the comments.
All I will say is that the comments confirm my impression that AGW apologists will use ten sentences where one or two would have served.
In fact, I'm on the point of generalising: if a post is ten paragraphs or so in length, the writer is an AGW apologist.
Sorry, no data, no stats and no graphs ... just trust me!

Aug 1, 2011 at 8:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

'A Conspiracy of Ravens'

Good title for a book, My Lord.

Aug 1, 2011 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Some bile ducts are running on empty over there.

Aug 2, 2011 at 6:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

Perhaps those who claim Mann has a high reputation are unfamiliar with 1024334440.txt

Aug 2, 2011 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaulM

I have a post on this at Climate Etc
http://judithcurry.com/2011/08/02/trying-to-put-the-climategate-genie-back-in-the-bottle/

Aug 2, 2011 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterJudith Curry

"A conspiracy of ravens", I looked it up (I was confusing it with a murder of crows) and discovered that the other collective nouns for ravens are 'unkindness' and 'storytelling'......both seem equally appropriate in this contexr.
Welcome back by the way.

Aug 2, 2011 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered Commentermeltemian

context----fumble-fingers!

Aug 2, 2011 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered Commentermeltemian

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Aug 2, 2011 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterChuckles

To me, a lot of the advocacy for Mann's work looks like a sophisticated form of Astroturfing. Wikipedia defines Astroturfing as:

a form of advocacy often in support of a political or corporate agenda designed to give the appearance of a "grassroots" movement. The goal of such campaigns is to disguise the efforts of a political and/or commercial entity as an independent public reaction to some political entity—a politician, political group, product, service or event.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that a PR firm is having a few PR flacks pretend to be grass roots commentors, or to edit wikepedia entries, or do other forms of online participation, in order to create a false impression that Mann has more support that he actually has. The question is -- where's the money coming from?

Aug 2, 2011 at 11:32 PM | Unregistered Commentermpaul

mpaul,
More interesting information.

Just a few comments above, I asked: why does Mashey quote material hosted at desmogblog? I've asked questions about the desmog-Mashey 'link' many times. In my own scale, Mashey is a free individual , he can associate with whomever he wants, link up with Big Canadian public relations money, I don't care.

But, why should desmog be affected?

They are a bunch of Canadian public relations hacks, hired pens ...why should they, specifically, become upset when John Mashey is questioned, or criticized? Don't tell me he is such a lamb of virtue and uprightness etc - Mashey's tricks fall in the lowest form of activism possible. Nor is his personal reputation stellar - anyone who suggests lawsuits against every moving object (he suggested a suit, to be filed against Judith Curry, for criticizing Eric Steig), should indeed have a thick skin.

But yet, that is not how it works.

Desmog has responded with a post against Peter Wood.

In it, we are informed, that Mashey

... a ferociously energetic researcher, has created a 34-page report pondering Wood's own frailties and setting forth some possible explanations of why the (less credible) NAS president could be so far off the rails.

34 pages. Oh my God!

Anybody want to witness the spluttering, self-immolating destruction of climate activism, can click on this link at the end of the post for Mashey's pdf report. Strong warning though.

I assure you - 100% - you won't know how to react.

Jean Cocteau: Stupidity is always astounding; no matter how often one encounters it

Aug 3, 2011 at 3:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Just a few comments above, I asked: why does Mashey quote material hosted at desmogblog? I've asked questions about the desmog-Mashey 'link' many times.

Well, the DeSmog post celebrating Mashey's Science profile actually describes him as a "periodic DeSmogBlog contributor", though that seems to just refer to his comments: he's been commenting there since no later than 2007. But surely it's not suprising that Mashey quotes DeSmog? They're both among the relatively small number of prominent actors in the climate blog-war, and on the same side. To narrow it further, they both specialise in reverse-Wegman speculation/investigation, while RC for example is mainly focussed on how things don't matter. Why wouldn't they find themselves communicating, building on each others' theories, promoting each other and backing each other up? It doesn't seem to be necessary to posit a back-channel or unobvious connection - personal, institutional, financial or whatever - between the two. (Though of course that's not firm proof that none exists.) It's probably largely the same for the relationship between BH and Steve McIntyre, yes?

Also, Mashey's relationship with DeSmog doesn't seem to be all that singular. He's been commenting on sites like Grist RC and Deltoid too, also since at least 2007 (which is about the point when he started to dig into the climate debate, according to his 2011 talk). Deltoid has been running posts about him for about as long. (In fact, if I had to guess I'd say that Mashey might have first "got into climate" as a result of reading Deltoid, because he's another member of (to use your term) the "official skeptic" movement/subculture. "I have long read [CfI organ] Skeptical Inquirer and sometimes write articles" as he says in his response to Peter Wood. (His SI author page only lists this year's piece on Wegman, but I'm pretty sure it must simply be incomplete.) He's evidently never been a prominent public figure or clout-wielding insider in the movement, though, at least before his late fame.)

Aug 3, 2011 at 5:36 PM | Unregistered Commenteranonym

(And I certainly don't suggest he's controlled by telephone calls from Paul Kurtz, any more than by directions from Canada.)

Aug 3, 2011 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered Commenteranonym

Richard Littlemore has this to say about Mashey (all in the true spirit of scratching each others back, and simply making much of the scraps they have):

Mashey has become a teacher, friend and contributor to the DSB in more ways than one. Aside from the remarkable research papers that he has posted on our site in the last year, his was the greatest and most valued contribution to Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming.

Aug 8, 2011 at 2:48 AM | Unregistered Commentershub

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