Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« The BBC's covert funding of greenery | Main | Having a laugh »

Diary dates: sceptic edition

Some interesting lectures upcoming at the University of Nottingham. I hope they stream these or otherwise make them more publicly available:

Thursday, February 6th: 1-2pm, Law & Social Sciences (West Wing), A100
Amelia Sharman (London School of Economics and Political Science) 
“Mapping the climate sceptical blogosphere”
Amelia highlights three key climate sceptic blogs’ focus on the scientific aspects of the climate change debate, their status as alternative sites of expertise, how they contribute to the contestation and delegitimisation of expert knowledge and how they engage members of the public previously unengaged by the mainstream knowledge process.

Friday, February 7th: 1-2pm, Law & Social Sciences, B62
Mike Hulme (Professor of Climate & Culture, King’s College London)
“The public life of climate change: The first 25 years”
Since 1988, science, politics, culture and ethics have exerted changing influences on the idea of climate change. The ways in which climate change is deployed in public life have diversified and proliferated. This lecture describes some of these changes that have taken place over the last 25 years.

Friday, February 21st: 4-5pm, Sir Clive Granger Building, A40
Simon Gosling & George Swann (University of Nottingham)
“Myths & controversies about climate change”
The past decade has seen a number of myths and controversies about climate change played out in the media. In this talk, Simon and George will present both sides of the argument, from the standpoint of: 1) general media portrayal and sceptics; and 2) the scientific consensus, respectively. They will cover recent issue such as the hiatus (slow down in global warming) and Climategate.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (29)

I wrote about Amelia Sharman’s paper (not very politely I’m afraid) at

Jan 14, 2014 at 1:05 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Surely Mike Hulme, Simon Gosling and George Swann are all part of the mainstream (climate change grant addiction) climate consensus, so I fail to see what new insightts they will bring. Sadly.

Jan 14, 2014 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

contribute to the contestation and delegitimisation of expert knowledge

AKA - the scientific process.

Jan 14, 2014 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

"how they contribute to the contestation and delegitimisation of expert knowledge"

Wow...we are such devious and evil swine, are we not?

Jan 14, 2014 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

Further evidence (if needed) that climate change is the gift that keeps on giving.
The weather or climate or whether it is doing this or that (or not) has become totally irrelevant. A bandwagon of pseudo-intellectuals (or do I just mean 'pseuds'?) rolls on making a comfortable living talking about, writing about, thinking about (but not very much) any aspect of sociological study which can by any stretch of the imagination be linked to people's opinions about climate change.
And of course it all serves to keep the pot bubbling away until 2030 when the next phase of the 60-year cycle will start to warm up again — they fervently hope!

Jan 14, 2014 at 1:28 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Another diary date, 12th February, will be live streamed I think and podcast (organised by Dr Joe Smith)

An Inconvenient Tweet: How social media is transforming the communication of, and engagement with, climate change

The next Mediating Change workshop explores how social and other online media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and blogging have altered the landscape of communication and engagement around climate change science and policy in recent years.

A few familiar (pleasant) faces

Mark Brandon
Warren Pearce
Tamsin Edwards

and a.nother ;-)

Jan 14, 2014 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Me too, Geoff Chambers. The last time Amelia Sharman mapped the "climate sceptical blogosphere" for us I wrote:

I find the ratio of words to data off putting. Without appropriate comparators in the tables with numbers, it is difficult to assess the data presented in an appropriate context. I shouldn't have to wade through the text to find meaning in the data. What is figure 1 (the only figure) supposed to tell me? It just looks like a web spun by a spider on PCP. Sorry. Sep 8, 2013 at 12:02 AM

I hope it has improved since then.

Jan 14, 2014 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered Commentermichaelhart
Jo Nova and other Australians are amazed that this piece got into the 'left-leaning' Sydney Morning Herald.
'Cookster' confirms that it is in the print edition.
One possible explanation is that Gina Rinehart has been increasing her holding above her recorded 15% and is insisting that 'Climate' reporting is more balanced.
We shall see.
Andrew Bolt, who might have enlightened us, appears to be on holiday in New Zealand unfortunately.

Jan 14, 2014 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered Commentertoad

A standard test of bias is to ask if the same language would be applied to another side in a debate
e.g. placing the word "activist" where they use "sceptic"

Amelia highlights three key climate activist sites (including the Guardian Enviro/CIF, SkS) focus on the scientific aspects of the climate change debate, .. how they contribute to the contestation and delegitimisation of expert knowledge ...
Note other framing and assumptions :

Simon Gosling & George Swann
"present both sides of the argument" - trying to assert a false dichotomy
" the scientific consensus" - is there one ? it has never been formerly defined or tested, respectively
" the hiatus (slow down in global warming)" - hiatus doesn't mean a slowdown
..Warmth has slowed down from what it was 17 years ago to exactly the same as it was 17 years ago (accounting for margins of error) That is a temporary halt not a slowdown
BTW Climategate is hardly recent .. would you say "I recently finished University" if you were 34 ?

Jan 14, 2014 at 2:01 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen
Here's Alex White's original Grauniad piece bemoaning the fact that Fairfax Media are allowing sceptics a voice.
Beneath the photo he mentions that Gina Rinehart now holds 'nearly 19%' of the shares, but doesn't explain why.
I think readers are meant to make the connection.
Those who've followed the saga of Gina and Fairfax Media will understand.
(see my comments above)

Jan 14, 2014 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered Commentertoad

Bish, many thanks for this post. When I have news on the lectures appearing online, I will let everyone know.

@ Mike Jackson - are you saying that, ultimately, people's opinions are not worth researching (in matters of science/observation)

@stewgreen - I will take responsibility for mangling Amelia's abstract while editing it down. You have come up with a nice research project there btw... Finally, take your point about Climategate - perhaps we can say that it is recent compared to the timescales we should adopt when studying climate change... :-)

Jan 14, 2014 at 2:19 PM | Registered Commenter@warrenpearce

Guardian churnalists are clearly very familiar with the concept that the owners of a newspaper can influence the content of that newspaper. I wonder why that could be?

Jan 14, 2014 at 2:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

I'm sorry I can't meet Amelia. I had quite a bit of fun going through that paper.

Skeptically mapping why Big-government research is often a waste of money

Here's a snippet:

Firstly, we’re mapping the skeptical world using what… blogrolls? Maybe that works for big corporate bodies with committees that keep those things up to date, who have time to consider and ponder, but, and I hate to say it, but for this this solo operator the blogroll is a low priority. I forget it’s there. Let me just say (trying to be kind) it’s better than reading tea-leaves. Though the result resembles them (see that graph) and if you ask me what this means, I’d say it means tax dollars should be better spent.

Secondly, the magic mud that is post-modern science makes an appearance early on. It essentially says that climate science can never be resolved. It’s not a rational debate: "this “rational-instrument” approach whereby science is seen as providing ‘verifiable facts about reality on which rational policy decisions can be based’ (Gulbrandsen 2008: 100) is inadequate."

In short thanks to academia, Amelia has been sold a bag of rocks. The climate is not “values laden”. The rain falls or it doesn’t, there is no parallel reality where it is raining on free marketeers but not raining on socialists. It’s not about whether the rain has the right to fall, or whether we should be pro-choice about rainfall. With atmospheric physics there is an answer. If climate science cannot be resolved by observations, then it is not science....

Jan 14, 2014 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterJo Nova

Hmmph. The "delegitimisation of expert knowledge" would seem to be one of the great "triumphs" of the CAGW crowd. Typical inversion.

Jan 14, 2014 at 3:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

I wonder if Mike will mention just how much grant mileage can be obtained from a mere 0.6K per century of (mostly natural) warming.

Once again the word 'expertise' is misused. If they had actually predicted the pause, rather than deny it's existence then downplay it's importance with a series of contradictory exxcuses then they might have some claim to the word - as opposed to overblown, baseless, pessimistic speculation. A blindfolded monkey throwing darts could have done better.

Jan 14, 2014 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

I'm still struggling to make up my mind whether we are supposed to think "delegitimisation of expert knowledge" is a good or a bad thing.

Jan 14, 2014 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterShotover

are you saying that, ultimately, people's opinions are not worth researching (in matters of science/observation)
Don't be disingenuous. You know perfectly well what I'm saying.

Jan 14, 2014 at 4:10 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

It is interesting that in the AGW community a body of knowledge that has failed repeatedly to accurately predict- or even describe- the focus of its work be called "expert knowledge".

Jan 14, 2014 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

I suppose the reason climate alarmists and their sociologist sympathizers need to study the skeptical climate science blog-o-sphere is because that's the arena in which they're having their own lame asses handed back to them on platters, cooked to well-done. The skeptical blog-o-sphere is where repeatability and falsification are still respected; where emoting, political activism masquerading as science, cronyism and academic rent-seeking are exposed and skewered; where, on balance, honesty, openness, tolerance, circumspection, good humour (spelled in the British manner, out of respect for our host) and integrity still guide the search for objective truth.

So, thanks Andrew, Steve, Jo, Anthony, Judith, Geoff, Roger, Donna, Lucia, Lubos, etc., etc.

Jan 14, 2014 at 4:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterMickey Reno

Not sure they'd write that Einstein contributed to the contestation and delegitimisation of Newton's expert knowledge...

Jan 14, 2014 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterAC1

Not sure they'd write that Einstein contributed to the contestation and delegitimisation of Newton's expert knowledge...
They might have done if they'd know what the hell it meant. For sure my spellchecker doesn't!

Jan 14, 2014 at 4:52 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Consider how the following phrase in the abstract - "how they engage members of the public previously unengaged by the mainstream knowledge process" - almost entirely misses a core audience of the technical climate blogs. I perceive the audience of Climate Audit to be scientists or professionals from other fields who are "engaged in mainstream knowledge process" and who are interested in climate science. From time to time (e.g. Jeff Id, Judy Curry), there have been threads in which readers have been invited to describe their background, yielding respondents with impressive professional credentials. Not people "previously unengaged by the mainstream knowledge process". Indeed, most such respondents have more impressive credentials than Sharman herself.

While I haven't done a similar thread at Climate Audit, the most influential commenters are very much part of the "mainstream knowledge process" and, indeed, in my opinion, have far more impressive statistical credentials than the academics that have been criticized, whose statistical competence is frequently the subject of derision. While Climate Audit has frequently been critical of articles by climate scientists, I do not regard it as criticizing "expert knowledge", but articles that are neither "expert" nor "knowledge", Such articles are typically statistical analyses, written by academics with poor training in statistics and who are overconfident in their own ability. To the extent that such analyses contain errors, as far too many do, they are obviously not "knowledge".

Jan 14, 2014 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve McIntyre

This looks like an interesting series of talks. If anyone is coming up and would like to meet up before or after, do get in touch. I may not be able to come to the Sharman talk as I have to give a calculus lecture (unless anyone would like to volunteer to cover?).

Maybe some calming down might be in order. Remember what Oscar Wilde said - "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

Steve M, yes, on Jeff's thread, 25% have a PhD, and another 48% have some type of degree. And this is the main point made in Amelia's paper - that the sceptic blogs focus on the science.

Jan 14, 2014 at 5:31 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Another call for true believers to rally to 'the cause '
Good . because as long as they fail to understand why their failing to win public support, and the longer they continue to consider that insults and BS make for a winning argument. The better off AGW sceptics and their position will be.

Jan 14, 2014 at 7:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterKNR


I find the ratio of words to data off putting

…I think a kind of pseudoscience, social science is an example of a science which is not a science.
R. Feynmann

... Just thinking.

Jan 14, 2014 at 8:22 PM | Registered CommenterPatagon

Paul Matthews at 5:31 PM

this is the main point made in Amelia's paper - that the sceptic blogs focus on the science.
Yes. And she came to this conclusion thanks to a technique called “degree centrality and node betweenness tests from social network analysis”. I’m all for sociologists studying us sceptics. Using standard social science techniques (on-line self-completion surveys at Jeff Id’s, WUWT, BH, and Climate Etc) she could have quickly discovered that many readers and commenters here have scientific qualifications, while others, like me, are not exactly stupid. There is no necessity to illustrate this fact with cobwebby diagrams.
I was somewhat inhibited in my criticism of Amelia Sharman’s paper because of Paul Matthew’s recommendation in comments to my blog, where he invited me to overlook the kowtowing to authority which one must apparently perform in a peer-reviewed paper.
My rudeness is addressed, not to Amelia Sharman, who comes to the perfectly legitimate conclusion that Wattsupwiththat, Climate Audit, and JoNova are popular blogs interested in science. My criticisms are addressed to a peer-review system which apparently obliges her to cite John Cook twice in her first two sentences before coming to this conclusion. Cook is a proven liar. Most of the other papers she cites simply fail to support her conclusions.
This is a parody of science. Social science doesn’t have to be this bad. You’ve got Marx, Mill, Weber, Durkheim, for goodness sake. Why try and ape Lewandowsky and Cook?

Jan 14, 2014 at 8:48 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

' a peer-review system which apparently obliges her to cite John Cook twice in her first two sentences before coming to this conclusion.'

Not sure if peer-review in general or just a case that this area of 'study 'which you seems to be required to state your 'loyalty' to the cause and pay homage to its 'prophets ' to ensure future funding and publications .

Jan 14, 2014 at 9:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterKNR

So good to hear from Steve McIntrye. Climate Audit is a regular read for me and I am looking forward to your efforts in 2014 whatever they may be. I am hoping you'll take a look at Sherwood's recent paper bat warming by 4 degrees C this century. That figure seems to be at the high end of IPCC projections.

Jan 14, 2014 at 11:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterWB

To add to the fun here's a jolly freebee for the uninitiated or to confirm the prejudices of the faithful:

I particularly enjoyed this quote from the course materials

We have reached a real tipping point in Earth climate systems. For example, the Greenland ice sheet is melting, raising sea levels, and there's simply no going back.

Jan 16, 2014 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterBraqueish

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>