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Silly Sally psychoanalyst

Lots of people are emailing me about the BBC's Thinking Allowed programme (see here from 16 mins) in which a pschoanalyst called Sally Weintrobe waffles uncontrollably about "climate denial". There's some amusing background about Weintrobe here - she seems to be a rather touchy character and litigious to boot. It appears, however, that she doesn't actually think we're mad, although what she does think is a little obscure. As one reader who emailed me said of Weintrobe and her fellow interviewees on Thinking Allowed:

To be honest they're so painfully clever that I, as a mere Cambridge Uni Natural Sciences graduate, couldn't understand most of what they were saying.

No doubt this show was part of the BBC's ongoing commitment to "due impartiality" in the climate debate.

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Reader Comments (181)

Thanks. I did read the extract on Amazon. I also noted the limited range of opinions of the discussants. But in fairness to Reiner, who appears to have read Weintrobe's chapters, I would like to see if I can understand her argument and the evidence she has to show that her approach is likely to work. I generally find that the usefulness of a conceptual framework can be gauged by the quality, realism and representativeness of the empirical examples (or actual data) used to illustrate its application.

Jan 24, 2013 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie

"documentary evidence of a chain of finance leading FROM Anthony Watts, back through the Heartland Foundation to Exxon Mobil."

Gee I didn't think Exxon was so hard up it had to start hitting sceptics up for a donation. No wonder my sceptic cheque never turned up.

Jan 24, 2013 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Jan 24, 2013 at 12:21 AM | jaffa

Think of Americans as older children who once suffered abuse for not being up to date on the politically correct thing to say. The Bish's blog offers much more colorful language than what is found in the US today. That is sort of ironic because the US has the world's strongest protections for free speech. Maybe we have become weenies or maybe peer pressure is way out of hand.

Jan 24, 2013 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

“Talk about psychological coping mechanisms is so mainstream nowadays that this post looks out of touch with reality. Has Weintraub hit a nerve in this tribe?”
Jan 24, 2013 at 12:56 Reiner Grundmann

Well yes and no.

No, she hasn’t hit anything, she misses by a mile. Yes, I’m sure that there are a few people out there who are scared of AGW but most of them are card carrying believers. The majority of people are scared the same way they’re scared of ghosts or aliens. In other words, they’re scared when they want to be. Most people’s lives have far more immediate pressures to worry about than what might happen decades from now. Cutting CO2 might or might not be on their to do list but it’s not in the urgent pile.

It does hit a nerve amongst sceptics because she’s one in a very long line of people who’ve asked ‘why don’t people believe in AGW’ to which we answer ‘the science is unconvincing and the solutions don’t work’ but ‘no, what’s the REAL reason.’ Again and again and again, until you think ‘oh, no, not another of those time wasters’.

If people really wanted to know why people aren’t reacting to AGW why don’t they ask those individuals who can vocalise it? Pick a sceptic web site and ask the site owner to host a series of guest posts. Heavily moderated because there’s always the temptation to express your anger at the system at the nearest point and it would cloud the issue. Then ask people to walk through their route to scepticism. We’re chatty people who are largely in touch with our selves. Many of us could give credible accounts that should be of use.

While we don’t reflect all walks of society we do cover a wide range. Those who have worked in the power industry know that there is a wide scepticism there for the solutions to AGW. Those who work in business know how much or how little can be done to cut CO2. People who have experience with programming are aware of the limitations of modelling. Statisticians can spot data abuse when they see it. And most people have heard an ‘end of the world as we know it’ story before and lived to tell the tale.

Or maybe just look in the mirror and ask ‘why don’t I believe?’ Because people who believed in AGW should be buying a plot of land in Norway with a view to it being a tropical paradise in fifty to a hundred years. Your kids and grandkids will thank you… maybe. Or alternatively answer yourself honestly and admit that while AGW is a concern it’s not firm enough to uproot your very comfy life from a fossil fuelled country and gamble it on some cold and lifeless bit of tundra. You haven’t buried your head in the sand, you haven’t ignored the problem, you’ve made a risk assessment (based on the science as it is presented) and come down in favour of carrying on as normal. Join the club, you’re perfectly normal.

Jan 24, 2013 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

@tiny Co2

'Pick a sceptic web site and ask the site owner to host a series of guest posts. Heavily moderated because there’s always the temptation to express your anger at the system at the nearest point and it would cloud the issue. Then ask people to walk through their route to scepticism. We’re chatty people who are largely in touch with our selves. Many of us could give credible accounts that should be of use'

The 'Denizens' thread at Judith's provides approaching 200 such testimonies.

Last time I directed a 'believer ' there he opined that we were all being paid to lie !

Jan 24, 2013 at 6:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

I finally managed to get the radio player to play the last half of the show, and was stunned by the narrow breadth of "Silly Sally's" analysis.

Not once was there a hint of acknowledgement of public weariness and circumspection with regard to over-hyped stories of impending doom. Which is the theory that best explains (IMO) overall public skepticism about climate change. Those on the receiving end of doom and gloom peddled to them by public left-leaning media, have had to get charged up against Y2K, SARS, West Nile, Bird Flu, etc, etc. only to see their fears slowly dissipate into the ether when the dire predictions "continued to fail to come true." No one responsible for amping up their fears over these things ever says "I was wrong, I'm sorry." No one ever says, hey, let's try not to waste precious tax-payer dollars on doing stupid things which lead to none of the intended positive effects.

That said, I don't think this type of emotional weariness explains why skeptics who are well-informed about the science being peddled as supporting climate change doom generally behave the way they do. Their skepticism is fully due to the weakness of the science itself, from the corruption of it's methods, it's political tendentiousness, the logical breakdowns that presume correlation=causation, it's breaks with traditions of observation, falsification and replicability, not to mention selective manipulations of the supporting data / evidence.

Jan 24, 2013 at 6:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterMickey Reno

Entropic -

"The same propoganda memes come from a wide variety of websites, bloggers and media. If there is not a sceptic conspiracy or movement, all these independant activists show a remarkable level of coo-ordination."

In the spirit of the thread Entropic, can I suggest you give some thought to a "neck up check up"? I'm a bit worried you're projecting your own paranoias.... and AFA the non appearance of your Exxon funding Anthony evidence goes, you may also be into delusions too.

Jan 24, 2013 at 7:24 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet


"Interesting flurry of excited comments. Please make up your mind: either Weintrobe is obscure or wrong. You can't have it both ways."

Professor Grundmann - Surely one can be wrong and obscure?

Jan 24, 2013 at 7:35 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

I hope Prof Grundman will engage with the commenters here. He has posted quite provocative remarks, but has largely been received with courtesy and attention. A little more sharing of what he thinks and why would be very welcome. As would evidence that he has read and thought about the responses here at a bit more length. I'd say quite a few of them deserve that.

Jan 24, 2013 at 7:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

I’d like to second John Shade’s comment.
Reiner’s fellow social scientist Adam Corner (with whom I think he is associated) agreed to engage in dialogue with us, even after I’d been quite rude about him. It did him no harm, got his views a lot of publicity - here and at Judith Curry’s - and we’re still on speaking terms.
Talk to us.
(As in the Amoldòvar film, if you like. Think of us as fourteen-year-old virgins in a state of narcolepsy).

Jan 24, 2013 at 8:08 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Well up to a point. I'd be delighted to hear more from the Professor, just as soon as he realises that he is dealing with a set of independent intelligent and experienced adults and drops the arrogance.

' I posted on Klimazwiebel about it and could do so in more detail but at present I doubt there is much interest on this blog.'

just about sums up the patronising nature of many academics for me.

Drop the 'attitude' - explain yourself in clear, direct and unambiguous language and you'll get a good hearing. Try to baffle us with bullshit? - not so much.

Jan 24, 2013 at 8:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

MarkB at 12:31. Already in the sixtees/seventees Freud was denoted by professionals as the Viennese Charlatan. This is perhaps a better word than Fraud because he had not much data to fraud with. Spiritually interpreted, we live now in the Age of Charlatans, witness two Nobel Prizes for the best of them. Enjoy it since this period will not last forever.

Jan 24, 2013 at 8:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterMindert Eiting

@Jan 24, 2013 at 12:31 AM | MarkB
@Jan 24, 2013 at 8:21 PM | Mindert Eiting

If you haven't heard of it I have to recommend to you guys

Richard Webster: Why Freud Was Wrong .

A brilliant book.

Jan 24, 2013 at 8:56 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Jan 24, 2013 at 12:24 PM | geoffchambers wrote:

It’s not just Sally, is it? The hidden assumptions and ignorance of the nature of the debate revealed by Laurie Taylor in his introduction are breathtaking:
.... it’s increasingly clear that understanding human responses to climate change is just as important, if not more important, than understanding climate change itself. ...."

My guess is that Sally does not begin to understand climate change and has found herself forced to retreat to a more comfortable arena where her concerns are of so little interest that she is unlikely to face significant challenge.

Jan 24, 2013 at 9:47 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

The debate continues on twitter between @aDissentient and @ReinerGrundmann (in 140-chat snippets).

Jan 24, 2013 at 10:53 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Latimer @ 6:31PM
I doubt that Sally Weintrobe has visited many sites with an active skeptical audience. The self reports of the frequenters of Judy Curry's site provide a pretty good data set for exploring any hypotheses as to why many do not believe that the case for CAGW has been proven or is even justified. I suspect that Sally Weintrobe prefers essentially to construct strawmen and strawwomen so that there is little chance that her ideas will be tested.
I also agree on the need for Reiner to clearly say the merits of Sally Weintrobe's take on climate change denial.

Jan 24, 2013 at 11:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie

I think those who imagine that Silly Sally is just a Freudian psychobabble pedlar who's been naively sucked into the climate debate are being a touch naive themselves.

Sally has very recently taken to Twitter - and even the few tweets she's managed so far make it clear she's first & foremost a full-blooded climate activist with a hankering for direct action.

Seems a bit like the Adam Corner saga all over again.

Jan 24, 2013 at 11:21 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

oebele, when you stated, "I just finished reading "berlin diary 1934 - 1941" by a interesting broadcaster Shirer (1942)..." you rang a large bell. William Shirer wrote one of the famous history books of World War II, "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich". Recommended!

Jan 24, 2013 at 11:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Russell

michael hart

"Entropic Man, Tallbloke has previously offered you a guest post on his blog to present evidence of experimental results you claimed. How is that going?"

He threw me off as well. After that it didnt seem worth writing.

I seem to have a talent for saying things sceptic website operators do not want to hear.Since at least some of the people here have sensible issues to discuss, I an reluctant to get thrown off again.

Jan 25, 2013 at 12:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic Man

not banned here

Just a flavour.

"a project that I asked Heartland to help me fund. They found a private donor who was interested in my idea, and agreed to fund it. The amount of funding I received, based on the plan I submitted, was $44K,"

"The Heartland Institute received $736,500 from Exxon Mobil between 1998 and 2006, according to the group’s spokesman Jim Lakely,"

Jan 25, 2013 at 1:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic Man

michael hart

"Entropic Man, Tallbloke has previously offered you a guest post on his blog to present evidence of experimental results you claimed. How is that going?

He threw me off as well. After that it didnt seem worth writing.

I seem to have a talent for saying things sceptic website operators do not want to hear.Since at least some of the people here have sensible issues to discuss, I an reluctant to get thrown off again.

Judith Curry's blog "Climate Etc." is an excellent, high-volume, site which covers this area from the sociological to the highly technical (in which she has no small expertise).

Moderation is light. I think if Michael Mann had written his famous comment:
"I gave up on Judith Curry a while ago. I don't know what she think's she's doing, but its not helping the cause, or her professional credibility", then I think she would have left it there for all to read.

I have seen many assertions and accusations made there, with the authors being allowed to return on many later occasions. If you read some of the back-catalog you will find one apparently highly credentialed extremely regular commenter (often the first) who, time and again, repeatedly makes the same assertion which will, in all probability,comfortably dwarf any accusations of undue influence you can make.

Though she has recently lamented the decline in standards, you will find others with similar talents to yourself, as well as no shortage of knowledgeable people to disagree with.

Jan 25, 2013 at 1:30 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

What I have learnt from the BBC radio-clip is that psycho-Sally may think of me as being in disavowal, not denial.

So there we have it. People who disagree with her accepted "facts" are disavowalists. I quite like that term actually, but I'm still not going to buy her book.

Jan 25, 2013 at 1:37 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Entropic - from your 1st link:

"Heartland has agreed to help Anthony raise $88,000 for the project in 2011. The Anonymous Donor has already pledged $44,000. We’ll seek to raise the balance."

From your comment above:

"The Heartland Institute received $736,500 from Exxon Mobil between 1998 and 2006, according to the group’s spokesman Jim Lakely,"

So you've got a five year mismatch there - I'd call that a burb more than a flavour. Seriously, you are chasing shadows - go and have a lie down on Sally's couch and see if she can help you out.

Jan 25, 2013 at 2:30 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

@entropic man

Re: Watts

I read your post.

It was discussed at length during the Gleickgate affair last year.

Apart from being over a relatively trivial amount ($44K = abt £30K= one clerical appointment for one year), you dates are way out. The $44K was for 2011, your Exxon Mobil amount was 1998-2006.

Unless you imagine that the institute just kept back $44K for at least 5 years 'just in case Watts came calling', I don't think you have much of a story at all.

Try again.

Jan 25, 2013 at 5:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

My generic use of "you" seems to have provoked even more and I agree I should have been more specific. What I perceive are two reactions, one which says it is impossible to understand what Weintrobe says (psychobabble etc), the other that she is wrong in her statements. Both are united in their outrage. So I wonder where the outrage comes from in the first group (if you can't understand what someone says you should not feel offended). Is it the use of the d-word?

As for the second reaction I would like to see where exactly she is seen as wrong. Don't tell me that she doesn't get the science right. You have to grant that she has different research interest. This is to explain why different types of people react differently to available information. I don't think that catastrophic climate change is an established fact (as she seems to)- but neither is its categorical exclusion in the future (as commenters here seem to). I have similar discussions with alarmists where the belief in the science makes them blind to acknowledge uncertainty.

I can offer one critical observation myself: Weintrobe assumes that climate denial is a strong tendency in many countries. I think this is wrong. Opinion polls show a strong majority is concerned or very concerned about climate change, even in the US. Rather than addressing the 'unconcerned' (to avoid the d-word) one should try to build coalitions of those concerned, IF you want to develop effective climate policies. This is a big IF.

Who is Adam Corner?

Jan 25, 2013 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered Commenter@ReinerGrundmann

@reiner grundman

'What I perceive are two reactions, one which says it is impossible to understand what Weintrobe says (psychobabble etc), the other that she is wrong in her statements. Both are united in their outrage. So I wonder where the outrage comes from in the first group (if you can't understand what someone says you should not feel offended). Is it the use of the d-word?'

I think I';d probably put myself in the first category. And 'psychobable' sums it up well, If somebody is going to go on a long tirade about evil 'deniers' the least she can do is to make her points simply, clearly and that we can all understand it and have an opportunity to digest, consider and remark upon the thesis presented. But this contributor failed even that basic test. That she feels able to pass such commentary upon 'us' with seemingly no knowledge of our beliefs or the reasons for them and less ability to express it is indeed quite offensive.

And to answer your specific point, I do not find the use of the word 'Denier' offensive. Since nobody has ever come close to being able to suggest what I am supposedly 'denying' it is essentially meaningless to me. An empty label.

But it does serve to tell us something very helpful about the speaker. That they are able only to think in imaginary stereotypes. Just as use of the 'n' word tells us more about the attitudes of the speaker than about any attributes of the recipient.

I'm a great believer in clear, direct unambiguous communication. Ms Weintrobe failed this simple test when given a national platform to air her views. If really has something worth saying she needs to brush up those skills pronto. But I fear that will be beyond her capabilities.

Jan 25, 2013 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

"Latimer Alder" - more ad hominems from someone hiding behind a pseudonym? Should anyone take this seriously?

Jan 25, 2013 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered Commenter@ReinerGrundmann

@Jan 25, 2013 at 10:18 AM | @ReinerGrundmann
My problem with Weintrobe is that no matter how "correct" her obscure analysis or diagnosis may actually be it is patently clear she starts from an assumption of the existence of a widespread "anxiety" about climate in various populations and groups.

However if there is no "anxiety", or if it is barely stronger than "anxiety" about Northern Ireland, the EU or terrorism, then the rest of her analysis about the apparent lack of action or discussion of climate, she labels "disavowal", becomes almost pointless.

It seems to me she shows no curiosity to demonstrate the prevalence of this "anxiety" at any level in any place. In fact she seems to be deluding herself that the omissions of concern she sees are tangible "disavowals" and this proves there is something going on relating to "anxiety".

To be generous she may be just stuck in this circular reasoning.

If she shows no willingness to even open the box and check whether the Schrödinger's cat of "anxiety" exists at the level she needs, then she has only succeeded in securing herself a place in academia which has an indistinct unlooked-for basis.

OTH if the "anxiety" is posited to be an entity that is not overtly known by its sufferers, but something along the lines of Freud's psychic repression, then I suggest you look at my recommended reading of Richard Webster's book on Freud above to see how that idea impresses me ;)

Jan 25, 2013 at 12:09 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

My concern with the broadcast material is not merely over the babble, but with the complacent assumption that there is a CO2-driven crisis underway on a global and acutely threatening scale, and that criticism of that alarmism is somehow odd and requires to be 'explained'.

The C3 website has been gathering links, very often to peer reviewed-literature, refuting or otherwise showing the incompetence of climate models and sundry claims by climate workers designed to alarm us. See:

I have pulled out a couple of hundred topics from the list there. Published predictions on each of them have been shown to be wrong. Often several times over. Scientific theories fail when their predictions fail. And what is failing here are the speculations that further rises in CO2 will dominate the climate system and produce no end of troubles.

These failures do not speak to me of 'settled science'. A search for any of these topics at the link above will provide references to the literature.

Abrupt Climate Changes, Aerosols, African Eco-Climate, African River Flows, Africa's Daily High Temps, Africa's Lake Victoria Basin's Climate, Africa's Mosquito Population, Alps Plant Species, Amazon and Higher CO2 Levels, Amazon Droughts/Floods, Amazon For The Last 7 Decades, Amazon Threats, Antarctic Ice, Antarctic Ice Melt, Antarctic Ozone Hole, Antarctic species and Ocean Acidification, Antarctic Warming, Arctic Climate, Arctic Ice, Arctic Melt Season Length, Arctic Species, Asian Precipitation, Asia's Rivers, Atlantic Ocean Circulation Slowdown, Atlantic Ocean Current and Greenland Ice, Atmosphere Temperatures, Atmospheric Methane, Atmospheric Water Vapour, Australia Great Barrier Reef, Australia Great Barrier Reef's Health, Australia Sea Level Increases, Australia Severe Cyclones, Australia Severe Weather, Australian Drought, Avalanches, Bangladesh Losing Land, Bering Sea Warming, Biodiversity and Warming, Bird Extinctions, Boiling Oceans, Canada Forest Fires In Ontario, Central Europe Temperatures, Central Siberian Forest Fires, China Extreme Rain Events, China Hail Storm Frequency, China Snow, Vegetation & Deserts, China Tropical Cyclones, China's Medieval Warming Period, Chinese Precipitation Variations, Climate Refugees, Cloud Coverage, Cloud Impact On Temperatures, Coastal Species and Warming, Coastal Swamping, Cooling of Major Ocean Areas, Cooling Since 1995, Coral Reefs and CO2,Coral Reefs and Warming, Crop Failure & Starvation, Crop Health, Current Climate Observations, Cyclone Activity, Death Rates and Warming, Desert Areas Expansion, Disaster Losses, Diurnal Trends, Droughts, El Niño/La Niña Phases, Europe Southern Rainfall Variability, European severe weather, European Snowfall, Extreme Climate Events Since 1970, Extreme Precipitation Events, Finland Floods and Droughts, Fish and Ocean Acidification, Flood frequencies, Flood Predictions, Florida Reefs Warming, Food Crop Prospects, Forest Fire Incidents, Frogs and Warming, German Flooding, Global Ocean Warming, Global Precipitation, Global Sea Level Rise, Global Snowpack Levels, Global Temperatures, Greenland and AMO Variability, Greenland Ice Sheet Stability, Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Mass, Greenland Modern Ice Loss, Greenland's Glaciers, Hay Fever & Asthma, Heavy Precipitation Events, High Wind Storms, Himalaya Severe Rainfall, Himalayan Glaciers, Hurricane Irene, Hurricane Landfall, Hurricane or Cyclone frequency, Hurricanes, Ice Sheets Collapse, Illnesses, Increased Mudslides, India past 135 Years of Rainfall, Indian Ocean levels, Indian Rainfall, Infectious Diseases, Infrared Radiation, Intensity of Hailstorms, Japan Precipitation, Malaria Incidence, Malaria Regions, Maldives & Other Reef Islands, Maldives Sea Levels, Marine Life & Diversity,Marine Life and Warming, Max/Min Daily Temperatures, Methane Gas "Tipping Point", Methane Levels, Minimum Temperatures, Mountain Rabbits, Mud & Debris Slides, Namib Desert Greatest Floods, New Zealand Cooling, Northern Hemisphere Snow, Northern Hemisphere's Wind Reduction, Ocean Acidification, Ocean Acidification & Marine Life, Ocean Conveyor Belt, Ocean Cooling, Ocean Heat Content, Ocean Temperatures, Ocean Warming, Ozone, Ozone In Wealthy Countries, Pacific Islands Disappearing , Pacific Ocean Variability, Peat Bogs, Permafrost Behaviour, Positive Feedback, Precipitation Trends, Rainfall, River Discharge Volumes, Sea 'Dead Zone’,Sea Ice Growth Over Decades, Sea Level Increase Rate, Sea Level Over Last Decade,Severe Droughts Over Last 40 years, Severe Floods, Severe Hurricane Incidents, Severe Storms, Severe Tropical Cyclones, Severe Weather, Severe Windstorms, Shellfish and CO2, Siberian High Climatic Condition, Siberian-Arctic Tundra, Snowfall and Warming,Southern Africa Rainfall, Southern Hemisphere Cyclones, Species Extinctions, Spread of Malaria, Tasmanian Ocean Reefs, Tornados, Tree Lines, Tropical Cyclones and Warming, Tropical Fish and Warming, Tropical Hotspot, Tundra, Tundra Greenhouse Gas, UK Thames River Barrier, USA Cooling, USA California Mountain Snowfall, USA Canada Great Lakes' Water Levels, USA Canada Rocky Mountains Over Last 50+ Years, USA Cascade Mtns. Snowpack, USA Cooling, USA Droughts For Southwest, USA Droughts In Utah, USA Eastern Severe Winter Storms, USA Flooding, USA Eastern Flooding, USA Hawaii's Extreme Weather Events, USA Maple Syrup Industry, USA Mississippi River Floods, USA Temperatures Since 1900, USA Temps In 2008, USA Winter, Vegetation Growth, Water Vapour Feedback, Wildfires, Winter Precipitation, World's Plant Life

Jan 25, 2013 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

You are saying the same thing Lat Ald is: sullying one's opponent is not a valid form of argument.

Except, Weintrobe did it on her own, and Latimer only pointed it out first. Arguing about 'ad-homs' on the internet is useless. Let's address the points and move on.

Secondly, you Klimazweibel guys (this is me using a "you") want to portray sceptics and alarmists as being on opposite ends of one single spectrum the middle of which you fancy yourselves to be. This depiction is neither useful, nor valid. It is mostly a reflection of your own passivity and tendency to find ground to stake out, on ground that was prepared by others. So, sceptics see you accept their facts and analyses, use them in arguments against alarmists, but never acknowledge their source, and insult them to boot.

Jan 25, 2013 at 12:37 PM | Registered Commentershub

Another point. Surveys that poll for the question: "Are you worried about climate change/global warming?" almost always elicit high proportions for a 'yes'. This data *cannot* be used to conclude that large numbers of people are anxious about the climate. In surveys that probe the relative importance of global warming concerns in the large list of problems modern man worries with, 'climate change' nearly always figures last.

Jan 25, 2013 at 12:43 PM | Registered Commentershub

@reiner grundman

'More ad hominems'


You asked why we thought of her as spouting 'psychobabble'. I replied - hopefully with clear direct and simple language with an explanation.

How would you suggest one should respond to such an enquiry without making remarks specific to the person concerned?

'There may or may not exist a class of people that may or may not include examples such as Ms Weintrobe that may or may not on various occasions that may or may not be contemporaneous with the the current contextual date object talk a pile of ill-informed twaddle about a subject where it is clear that her own conceptual framework (or frameworks) where those images are defined and processed are derived more from multiple imaginary peer-group driven fantasisation than from any actual observational experience of the subject or subjects concerned'?

Jan 25, 2013 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Latimer Adler, not banned here

What worries me is not the details but the pattern. Down the years I've seen the same pattern of companies with an agenda financing overt or covert lobby groups, which then subcontract apparantly independant "experts" and convince "useful idiots" to spread the word for them.
The most common tactics are to spread doubt regarding the evidence, and attempt to ridicule or discredit those presenting it.
The same pattern has occured with car seat-belts, lead in petrol, tobacco and now with climate change.

As an example, go tto Heartland's own website at

I see that the Heartland Institute are using the same tactics, and even the same wording to defend their tobacco clients' interests as for their climate sceptic clients.

"Three credible and interesting people who write frequently on tobacco issues are Jacob Sullum, Michael Fumento, and Kip Viscusi. Joseph Bast, a coauthor of this essay, also writes frequently on the subject. You can find articles by them in PolicyBot simply by searching for their names in the Author search box.

Some very good Web sites on the smoking issue include,,, and Illinois Smokers Rights. The FORCES Web site includes a list of links to other sites.

The anti-smoking movement, fueled with billions of dollars a year in taxpayer dollars and grants from liberal foundations, also has Web sites devoted to attacking smokers. If you visit any anti-smoking sites, make a mental note to see how many of them link to pro-smoking sites. It should tell you something about their commitment to honest debate."

Change a few words and you could post that straight onto a climate sceptic website.

Jan 25, 2013 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic Man

Reiner is asking you to take Weintrobe's arguments seriously (as if they were true/valid ?) and respond to them.

He can correct me if I am wrong.

Jan 25, 2013 at 12:54 PM | Registered Commentershub

Anti-smokers (nannyism as will to power) may have successfully vilified tobacco smoke. I, for one, don't buy any of their arguments. How will your example/s work against someone like me?

Jan 25, 2013 at 12:58 PM | Registered Commentershub


Talk to an actuary in a life insurance company.

Life insurance is a bet with your insurer. He bets that you will live long enough to pay more in premiums than you receive when you die.

If you die young you win.

Smokers win this bet a lot more often than the rest of us.

Jan 25, 2013 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic Man

So Entropic - Nothing to support your initial assertions, just "a pattern" that you "see".

Have you read the blogroll here? At CA? At WUWT? ScienceOfDoom? The Blackboard? See the links to contrary views? Have you read the blogroll at RC? Spot the difference?

Btw 'here' = 'yet'?? Or is that just another Entropic vision?


Jan 25, 2013 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet


Read your essay about smoking and tobacco which you addressed to me. But I;m not at all sure what you are trying to say, nor why you are saying it to me.

FWIW I gave up the weed over 30 years go and have seen two dear friends die slow and painful deaths with smoking related diseases over the last decade.

But what the relevance to Anthony Watts funding or me for that matter has passed me by.

Jan 25, 2013 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder


'Reiner is asking you to take Weintrobe's arguments seriously (as if they were true/valid ?) and respond to them.'

Sure. And if and when he keeps his promise to explain what they are in understandable terms I'll be happy to do so. Until then I'm still baffled.

Jan 25, 2013 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder


"Rather than addressing the 'unconcerned' (to avoid the d-word) one should try to build coalitions of those concerned, IF you want to develop effective climate policies. This is a big IF."

What is your definition of "effective"? Please clarify what coalitions of concerned people have to do with making effective policy?

Jan 25, 2013 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

In case Entripox feels like starting to learn something instead of making it up:

(yeah sorry 'bout the spellin - me keyboard's all jumbrelled up, got the "r" between the "h" and the "u" an' all that...)

Jan 25, 2013 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

I don't want to discuss policy responses per se, I want to stop unwarranted policy responses based on a weak case.

Can't see what ad homs Latimer is guily of, and can't see what relevance his use of a pseudonym has, when he uses it consistently here and elsewhere and can be found at a pub do (plug @ Oxford, 12th Feb, see discussion thread) especially as he is only avoiding using his real name because it is the same as at least two players on the climate science scene.

So Reiner, do you want to tell us what she meant?

(She hasn't replied to my invitation, maybe too soon to expect it, maybe it went in the junk).

Jan 25, 2013 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Let me see if I've got this right:

Some people are not worried about climate change.

Sally Weintrobe is worried that that some people are not worried about climate change.

Most of the commenters here are not worried that Sally Weintrobe is worried that that some people are not worried about climate change.

Reiner Grundman is worried that most of the commenters here are not worried that Sally Weintrobe is worried that that some people are not worried about climate change.

As for me, I've got more important things to worry about.

Jan 25, 2013 at 1:54 PM | Registered CommenterDreadnought

Latimer Adler

My point is that the Heartland Institute learned its tactics lobbying for the tobacco companies. It is now using the same tactics lobbying for its climate change sceptic clients.

Having seen the reality behind Heartland's tobacco campaign, should sceptics be so easily persuaded by Heartland's climate change campaign?

The willingness of Anthony Watts to take money from Heartland makes his credentials as an independant sceptic suspect, from my viewpoint, if not from yours.

Jan 25, 2013 at 1:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic Man

@entropic man


I'm struggling to lose any sleep over this one way or another. There are lots of paid people and paid lobby groups on all sides of the climate debate. I don't find this very troubling...can't really see what all the fuss is about. Academics get paid, blogistas get paid, journos get paid, columnists get paid, weathermen and climate scientists get paid. Authors get paid.Even Josh the Cartooonist took a tenner off me for his calendar. Everybody gets paid bar me it seems.

Maybe once upon a time there was a time of the (very few) talented amateurs who had no ties whatsoever and could indulge their hobby completely independently (like I do at the moment). But to imagine that this was ever widespread is naive in the extreme. People have to earn a crust. Get over it.

Jan 25, 2013 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Entropic, we know who Antony Watts is, we know what motivates him, we know he has been doing what he does at this own expense with a tip jar for years and that he took the 44K for a specific job, which will involve the presentation of publicly-owned data on a site, not sceptic data, but US official data. All you are doing is putting out some vague smear. Let's pretend we are all grown-ups and can evaluate any input or opinion on its merits without having to think the source is tainted because we are on the other side. If the source of funding no matter how many years and steps on the way is supposed to taint any data or presentation thereof, there is nothing left. Certainly nothing in any IPPC report.

Jan 25, 2013 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Oh, while we are declaring interests, i don't get paid either, although entropic man might like to filter my opinions bearing in mind that Jonathan Jones paid for my plate of chips at the last pub meet and therefore I am beholden to the Physics department at the University of Oxford. A wonderful outfit which can do no wrong, especially in the area of quantum something-or-other.

Jan 25, 2013 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

"@reiner grundman

'More ad hominems'


You asked why we thought of her as spouting 'psychobabble'. I replied - hopefully with clear direct and simple language with an explanation."

On Grundman's apparent definition of "ad hominem" any criticism of anyone is an ad hominem. Mr. Alder is surely correct that he gave a polite criticism of the psychoanalyst's lack of clarity. The psychoanalyst is unclear in a serious way. Anyone who wants to defend the psychoanalyst in this forum must first offer a clear rendering of what she claims.

Jan 25, 2013 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

entropic man

the $44,000 was proposed money Anthony Watts w for a very specific (non WUWT) project to build a website to make public weather and temperature data more redily and easily accessible to the public and meteorologists... Heartland found a funder for this project.

there has been no funding for the WUWT blog by Heartland

what may I ask is your problem with that..

this is well documented, so you appear to be either in ignorance of this, or are fully aware but are using it to smear.. which is it?

as I write for WUWT,I take particular issue with false claims and innuendo

Jan 25, 2013 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Entropic Man, you speak of a "pattern down the years" and then fall into a very familiar one: A pattern of dragging the tobacco-lobby into an irrelevant discussion in an apparent attempt smear the motives of opponents'

We've heard it all before. It's very boring. I have even less interest in a small US lobby-goup with a tiny budget when compared to, say, Greenpeace. They are both legitimate, legal, lobby groups. So what?

Further up-thread you say "at least some of the people here have sensible issues to discuss." Why don't you join them? You are currently just insulting the intelligence of most of them.

Maybe there is a good reason why you've been kicked off at least two other climate blogs, as you claim?

Jan 25, 2013 at 2:56 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

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