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« Celebrating bad science | Main | Greens turn violent »
Saturday
Apr192014

Order of battle

Anthony has a interesting discussion thread, asking whether sceptics in the US need an organisation - like GWPF here in the UK - that can be the first port of call for those looking for a sceptic point of view.

People like Lewandowsky were able to make their claims stick because with climate skepticsm, it is all about that personal journey, there’s no organization, no policy statement, no cohesiveness of opinion that anyone can point to and say “this is what climate skeptics endorse”. While there’s strength in that heterogeneity, there’s also a weakness in that it allows people like Lewandowsky to brand climate skeptics as he sees fit.

So after some years of thinking about this, I’d like to ask this simple question:

Is it time for an “official” climate skeptics organization, one that produces a policy statement, issues press releases, and provides educational guidance?

Do we need a proper order of battle, or should we persist with guerilla warfare?

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Reader Comments (107)

Truth will out. Physics won't budge to politics . No need to lose one's sleep or fabricate our own Lew.

Apr 19, 2014 at 9:40 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

The big problem with being organised is that it gives your opposition a target to shoot down. Particularly if you struggle to agree on anything except that you disagree with Alarmists.

Especially when you have a group with such wide ranging views as climate skeptics.

How many other young (sub 30) British, Atheist, Liberal and very much in favour of alternative energy sources (when appropriate) minded climate change is not that big a deal style skeptics do you know?

How am I ever going to agree policy with some of the more Libertarian or Conservative Skeptics out there and be happy?

I actually think this is a problem the GWPF has. Lawson is the main spokes person, and they certainly say they are a multi-politcal group. And I do believe them, I'm evidence it's a opinion that crosses political borders. But how easy is it to dismiss them as a far right fringe group of flat earthers?

Rather than the reasonably minded luke warmers they actually are?

Apr 19, 2014 at 9:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterLiberal Skeptic

Herding cats?

Best if we all took a holiday for a couple of years.. Thus leaving no scapegoat for all the political/policy failures?
And reality having to be dealt with.

Apr 19, 2014 at 9:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Now, if it were possible to get some Big Oil funding....

Apr 19, 2014 at 9:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Barrett

The guerrilla phase is long over, time to work together. We’d be so much more effective.

http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/working-together/

Pointman

Apr 19, 2014 at 10:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

We are already a well-organised well-funded dishonest denial machine, apparently. I think we are doing OK as we are.

Apr 19, 2014 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

This has been discussed a few times here, and most recently at Geoff's blog. The answer is no, as is clear from the comments at WUWT. Previous efforts haven't got anywhere.

Apr 19, 2014 at 10:36 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

It's easy to talk. Putting together such an organization would be a huge burden on whoever takes the leap. And, besides, to move on this because of a nothing like Lewandowsky is bizarre. Let him have his 5 minutes of fame. Who cares, honestly.

Apr 19, 2014 at 11:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

No. Look at the ordure thrown at the Heartland Institute where climate change is only part of their overall policy analysis.

Apr 19, 2014 at 11:53 PM | Registered CommenterGrantB

L.R.S.G. for me.

Skirmishes, Skirmishes, Skirmishes.

Standing armies will all, ultimately, be defeated.

Viva LRSG... (The) Long Range Skirmishing Group.

Apr 20, 2014 at 12:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterTom O'Connor

It's the wrong question. The right one is "How do you get reasonable scientific opinion into positions of power?" Who has applied to be Chief Scientist at DECC for example? Of course, a reasonable scientist won't be selected by the DECC bureaucrats and Davey at this juncture, but it is important to be seen to try.

The left have already conducted a long march through the institutions: now they need to be marched out of them.

Apr 20, 2014 at 12:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Which particular brand of Skepticism would be promoted? we are already seeing turf wars beginning in the skeptical blogosphere with posts written that are specifically aimed at that other kind of skeptic.
Science will eventually make the appropriate correction and ego's on every side of the battlements will undoubtedly be dented.

Apr 20, 2014 at 12:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterGibo

Stick with the present formula. The growing numbers of sceptics will get the attention of the politicians. Who are beginning to understand their endless climate change rhetoric is political poison to their careers.

Apr 20, 2014 at 12:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterDave Broad

Do "sceptics in the US need an organisation"?

We don't.

Andrew

Apr 20, 2014 at 2:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

A strong 'NO' to any Organisation.
Many reasons. A big one is that others will put a brand on it like 'Owned by Big Oil.'
Besiides, diversity of arguument is valuable and it tends to be more active when personal rather than corporatised.
Scepticism tends to have more loners in its ranks.

Apr 20, 2014 at 2:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

How would you ever agree on anything? An example from a recent discussion is Martin A, a blog stalwart, who says all aid is bad for giver and receiver alike and yet other blog stalwarts like Richard Drake accuse people like me of complicity in murder by opposing World Bank aid that would builds fossil fuel power stations in the 3rd world. Those are irreconcilable positions. I imagine there are many other similar contradictions festering within your ranks.

Apr 20, 2014 at 3:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterChandra

Let's not try to coordinate. It'd be a large and likely wasted effort. I like to read GWPF, but only in much the same way as I read Bishop Hill, WUWT, Notrickszone, Jo Nova, Climate Audit, Tallbloke's, Lubos Motl's, etc. Diversity among sceptics is our strength. One of the benefits of this is we are a very blurry target. We sceptics are individuals, most are reasonably highly educated and literate, we align as best we can with good science and good values. But we rarely completely agree with each other. We learn and grow from each other, and we debate and argue. It's a different sort of cohesion and coordination. This sort of cohesion built on knowledge sharing, allowing freedom of thought and speech has not been seen before, happening in real time across the world, made possible by the Internet and blogs. Long may it continue.

Apr 20, 2014 at 4:19 AM | Unregistered Commenternzrobin

Wouldn't it be better to accentuate the negatives?

http://www.c3headlines.com/predictionsforecasts/

Apr 20, 2014 at 4:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterclipe

You obviously knock about with a perfectly homogenous crowd of wonderful people Chandra. It must be frightfully stimulating to sit around agreeing with each other at your little get togethers. A agreed with B who agreed with C who agreed with D who agreed back to A who agreed with himself. Sounds like lotsa fun Chandra, how do I join?

Apr 20, 2014 at 5:41 AM | Registered CommenterGrantB

Chandra:

other blog stalwarts like Richard Drake accuse people like me of complicity in murder by opposing World Bank aid that would builds fossil fuel power stations in the 3rd world

How about providing a direct quote that you think substantiates that ridiculous claim?

The point about belief or not in the efficacy of any kind of aid is a good one. But ascribing something this extreme to me, a person known by my real name, affects my reputation. Thanks for the immediate attention (and retraction) that I'm sure you'll give this.

Apr 20, 2014 at 6:23 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

As for a new organisation, I agree that sceptics (or skeptics) is the wrong term to start with. People like Steve McIntyre, Tom Fuller and Steve Mosher should be involved. So should Lucia (not sure how she classifies herself), Jo Nova, Andrew and Anthony (of course). And Nigel Lawson. And the normal posse of scientists. If such folks could agree on something that would be grand. The GWPF is doing a tremendous job and has a stellar academic board of reference. GWPF International?

Apr 20, 2014 at 6:30 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

The idea of a a British organisation for climate sceptics was raised by Chris M in November, 2012 at
http://www.bishop-hill.net/discussion/post/2012224
and at
http://www.bishop-hill.net/discussion/post/2012224
and shot down, as it has been here, with much talk of herding cats, etc..
My reason for promoting this idea is simply in order to get our message on to the BBC and into other authoritative media. The BBC recognises two criteria for talking to anyone; authority coming from specialised knowledge, and some kind of popular support. We have neither. Lawson is practically our only representative in the media because he was once elected and still sits in parliament.
Our organisation would have minimal organised activity. No need to worry whether you agree with anyone else. You pay your five quid, elect a treasurer, secretary and president – and, most importantly, a spokesman who will then have the authority to speak for us and a kitty to pay for his travel expenses back and forth from Scotland.
It's not about herding anyone or imposing anything on anyone. It's about getting our message onto the bloody BBC. How many more years do you want to hang round threads like this boasting about how you don't pay your licence fee? Do you want to actually achieve anything, or just sit around feeling smug?

Apr 20, 2014 at 6:40 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I feel that you idea is overly militaristic but we could do better in our endeavors if our vast and diverse resources were better coordinated.

What would be useful is a central repository of the successful, and worthy rebuffs and replies, or at least a list of indexed links to them. Indexed comprehensively so that their main topic and side issues could be easily seen. This would entail a lot of work and continuous maintenance. (Not cheap)
It is infuriating having to search time and again for information and data that you forget to bookmark or note.

Also what would be useful is cross-mirroring of web-sites that carry similar themes and topic - that way if one is lost due to technical issues a back-up is readily available. (requires coordination between website managers)

Lastly, at times posters stop and website fall into disuse, or their content changed, is there somewhere that these valued sources be retained?
How many dead links have you in your bookmarks?

How this is useful.

Tom

Apr 20, 2014 at 6:44 AM | Unregistered Commentertom0mason

Freudian slip -
not
How this is useful.
should be
Hope this is useful.

Apr 20, 2014 at 6:56 AM | Unregistered Commentertom0mason

I would try to avoid any kind of official skeptic position regarding the science of the issue as we don't know what the truth of the matter is either. It would be hugely discrediting to endorse something that is shown to be wrong later on.

The release of the bulk of the climategate emails also sticks in my mind... that the "priesthood" of the skeptic blogs got their hands on something that made them feel important... and kept it. That information should have been made public on principle. It damaged my trust in the leading figures that the sort of "openess and disclosure" they champion went out the window so easily when it gave them a monopoly on information.

Apr 20, 2014 at 7:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterMr Black

"GWPF International" would obviously need more funding. More controversy in the making. Leave it to those across the pond to solve as long as they don't steel away people already on the GWPF Academic Advisory Council.

Apr 20, 2014 at 7:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

OR even "steal away"

Apr 20, 2014 at 7:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

Martyn: Good point about funding. I would advise complete openness on funding for the new org. And that's it. I wouldn't try to restrict it at all. Just my 2d in old money.

Apr 20, 2014 at 7:41 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

rhoda
You forgot "secretly funded by Big Oil...."

Apr 20, 2014 at 7:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Did Lewandowsky make any 'claims stick'. Surely anyone with half a brain cell
can see he is spouting utter nonsense. The alarming thing is the lack of anyone in Academia to come out and say that, though I guess one of the main points of Academia is to get paid to do this kind of rubbish in the first place.

Apr 20, 2014 at 7:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Monckton......Boom !

Apr 20, 2014 at 7:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

No, we do not need national organizations to oppose global warming fanatics in every country. This was an international problem that was solved by the unselfish, brave actions taken by a 28-year old nuclear geochemist from the Imperial University of Tokyo in the closing days of the Second World War - Dr. KAZUO KURODA - sixty-nine years ago:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/2170881.stm

I am confident the master of Climategate was correctly identified yesterday on Steven Goddard's discussion of Climategate and "What should we be striving for now?"

http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2014/04/19/a-different-view-of-extreme-weather-from-1975/

Apr 20, 2014 at 8:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterOliver K. Manuel

Hhhmmm,

This sounds more political than scientific. We don't need additional organisations to center the scientific argument, we already have a body for that, it's called the Royal Society. The GWPF have the correct idea in taking the argument to them rather than trying to overturn hundreds of years of scientific debate by saying they are the equal of the Society.
If the science for AGW is overstated, as I believe it is, it will be corrected in time.
The problem we face is that political representation has been coerced by unsubstantiated social science. Politicians mostly want to be seen to represent the people, some do have their own agenda's but on the whole they satisfy the needs of the majority voters to maintain their position.The increase in voter apathy has meant that the educated. socially active, charity minded congregation within society has become the majority voter and their favour has been sort by the political class.
Want to make a change then start voting and get your families voting, and when the politicians come a knocking tell them what will win your vote.

Apr 20, 2014 at 8:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

I just voted Yes on Anthony's poll and that raised something interesting. Reading a fair number of the comments on WUWT before voting I assumed that there was a solid majority of readers against the idea. But the voting widget tells me the following:

Yes 62%
No 25%
Unsure 13%

Conclusion: those that contribute on blogs may not accurately represent the overall readership. The squeaky wheel can get more grease than it deserves. For me another argument for a new organisation. All the best with the idea, Anthony.

Apr 20, 2014 at 8:44 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

"The problem we face is that political representation has been coerced by unsubstantiated social science".

Actually I think political representation initially coerced the science which then snowballed out of control into a money pit.

Perhaps an advantage of having an American type GWPF is that it may tease out a few more uum honest specialist scientists who thus far are too worried about speaking out as an individual but care enough about the intergrity of their field and science as a whole who would jump at the oportunity of becoming a member of an American GWPF advisory board.

Apr 20, 2014 at 8:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

Martyn: Yep. And the more scientists out of the woodwork the better.

Apr 20, 2014 at 8:52 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

No.

We need less group think, not more.

Apr 20, 2014 at 8:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

What is needed is a blog where the wilder comments from the Guardian pages are simply posted without any editorial comment. As for instance this gem. This stuff is all too believable. Punish the deniers!

As 97% of scientists say, deniers are evil, anti-science, suffer from various psychological disorders and are only interested in serving their paymasters to perpetuate capitalism. However effective dealing with deniers as well as the bigger problem of climate change raises some ethical questions.
For instance, global, concerted action on a massive scale is needed to save the world from deniers as well as climate change. So is it right to wish for a major disaster to help catalyse such action? ( See Kampen’s views discussed at http://climatenuremberg.com/2014/04/11/communication-dilemmas-1-wishing-death-on-people-without-losing-them/) . On the other hand it seems wrong that many people have to die. But 97% of scientists believe that climate change will bring about “resource wars”. I fear that these could be nuclear wars. Even this cloud has a silver lining in that it could take out 100s of millions of potential polluters and the nuclear winter might mitigate global warming. Yet on the other hand it somehow seems wrong that so many people should die. So is Kampen’s wish the lesser of the two evils? Should there be an authority which detects and bans denialist papers? How will it be administered and how effectively?...
You see how rapidly we move to wondering aloud about mass extermination?

However, one fears that the mass extermination the writer has in mind will in the end turn out to be the deniers who are within reach, rather than some general population of the planet on some other continent.

Apr 20, 2014 at 9:00 AM | Unregistered Commentermichel

Chandra,

Forgive but I really don't recall Richard accusing you of colluding in murder.

Can you please back up that assertion?

Apr 20, 2014 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterJones

Whats group think? 178 National representative committees coming together or a handful of specialist scientists?

Apr 20, 2014 at 9:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

If he did I will also criticise him in equal measure to you.

Apr 20, 2014 at 9:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterJones

I didn't. But thanks for asking where on earth Chandra got the idea.

Apr 20, 2014 at 9:19 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

....Martin A, a blog stalwart, who says all aid is bad for giver and receiver alike ...

...other blog stalwarts like Richard Drake accuse people like me of complicity in murder...

Apr 20, 2014 at 3:23 AM | Chandra

I don't think I said that. In fact I remember that I specifically said that I was *not* saying that there were no examples of aid success stories.

And Richard says he did not say what Chandra attributes to him.

Chandra has a habit of imagining how he thinks things are and from then on treating what he has imagined as reality.

Chandra also has another habit of saying something like "...so you are saying xyz ?" (when the person involved actually said something different) and then, if they make no response, proceeding as if they had actually said xyz. When challenged, he says that the person had the opportunity to contradict him but did not do so.

I asked Chandra where he learned these unpleasant tricks but I don't think he made any reply.


I imagine there are many other similar contradictions festering within your ranks.

"festering"? A word that is quite revealing about Chandra's own viewpoint. Differences of views are entirely normal in a diverse group of people and are to be welcomed.

It is like expecting a group of people who are agreed that the sky fairy does not exist to have identical views on other entirely unrelated matters. Or even on related matters.

Apr 20, 2014 at 9:21 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

michel:

You see how rapidly we move to wondering aloud about mass extermination?

However, one fears that the mass extermination the writer has in mind will in the end turn out to be the deniers who are within reach, rather than some general population of the planet on some other continent.

A dead cert, to my mind, forgive the phrase. We are the focus of the dehumanising epithets, after all. But things don't need to reach that stage. Bringing these sentiments to light in the present - facing up to and opposing them - is a big part of ensuring they won't.

Apr 20, 2014 at 9:24 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

There are definitely chinks in the BBC’s armour; this morning, in a report about foodbanks in Scotland (don’t ask…), one of the reasons for the downturn in the local economy is the closing down of Dounreay power station which is being… (cut to pictures of turning windmills) … replaced by alternative methods which employs far fewer people! Hmmm... seems to be contradicting many of the claims for "green" energy, which will create "hundreds of thousands" of new jobs.

Not sure if this is in support of an organisation, but have a look at this entertaining half-hour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4v4Q9Wv10Ho. Warning: it’s Penn and Teller, so there is a lot of swearing involved. Very interesting conclusion, too, and one that many of us would agree with.

Apr 20, 2014 at 9:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Richard, indeed.

I continue firmly to maintain that Chandra is nothing like the troll that Zed continues to be but Chandra does have an unfortunate tendency to re/mis-interpret what is said and I'm honestly not entirely clear whether this is wilful or not.

I don't know whether Chandra really does hail from India or not but I am working on an assumption that English ( however well expressed in Chandra's case) may well be a second language and I am very aware that under these circumstances real meaning is simply lost on the recipient of the comment.

I have myself been constructively criticised by senior supervisors when addressing some deeply conceptual point to a "foreigner" when I truly believed I was being carefully lucid in my terms.

I was simply misunderstood.

Cheers.

Jonesey

Apr 20, 2014 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterJones

one that produces a policy statement

But the GWPF doesn't do this, and that's the point isn't it? On their reports, they are opinions
...of its authors, not those of the GWPF...

It's policy is one of non-policy statement:
The GWPF does not have an official or shared view about the science of global warming.

The GWPF - appears to me at least - as an organisation that protects the right of individuals to speak against consensus. It's the very policy statements made by powerful organisations that result in partisan bias that are part of the problem, not ones that don't have them. Nullius in verba as it should be understood?

Apr 20, 2014 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustin Ert

The GWPF does an excellent job from the science side. Politically it just needs to try to open up the spread of those involved to avoid accusation of simply being a right-wing body. If this were to include people from the US and elsewhere, so much the better.

Apr 20, 2014 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Abbott

Like Richard Drake, I voted "yes" on Anthony's poll. (And unlike most here.) But why?

First, a more centralized leadership - like in the UK, I believe - is not incompatible with guerrilla-style dissent.

Second, as in the UK a couple years ago, the US is facing a change election this year (the opposition Republicans are likely to capture the Senate, and thus be able to kill AGW-dumb funding - but only IF organized to do so!). The GWPF was founded in the wake of climategate, less than one year before the government of the UK changed. And maybe, with the next US presidential election, there will be two change elections in a row (if one thinks out to 2016).

In the US federal budget, global warming related research spending is SECOND only to medical research. This is INSANE. Now is the time for this measure - because it is important to think how to reorganize the failed, centralized, government funded parasitic AGW establishment that the US government created in the first place (in 1992, when Al Gore became Vice President, and "climate science" funding exploded 10 times).

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has a perch in Washington, DC DESIGNED to lobby for more federal monies. This means they've recently endorsed retro-alarmism of the 2005 to 2007 variety, not anything realistic after 18 years of a climate temperature "plateau." In other words, they are lobbying for a "science future" using all the failed rhetoric of many years past.

Third, because of this, it is increasingly important to prep science and administrative leadership to not just supplant and defund the old AGW-alarmist spouting idiots, it is important to think of how to supercede the IPCC/UNs increasing irrelevance to the real environmental problems we do face. We need people ready to head the federal machinery to put it to new, clearer, anti-orthodox purposes. For example, what would a Bjorn Lomborg styled-Copenhagen Consensus Centre look like for the US?

It could generate a new list of post-AGW-alarmism agendas, suitable for the entire world - not just the US. In other words, the long hijacked scientific talent and vast charitable funding domains (eg, think of the Bill Gates Foundations mega-billions), need leadership to solve real problems - not the pseudo-problem of man-made global warming.

If this New Agenda is not carefully developed and leadership not nurtured, then the same old anti-human and anti-industrial Paul Ehrlich-style (eg, think John Holdren, his co-author - President Obama's science advisor - think of the AR5 WG3 report!) enviro-Nazisim will continue to waste tens of billions of dollars annually - while other solvable problems go neglected.

Finally, let me remind my Algosphere brethren that time has shown that there is no real AGW-debate. Neither Marcel Croc nor other open-minded people, at least among those open to rethinking AGW-alarmism, have been able to show that there is any meaningful one. The serious choice is indeed binary: are you for AGW-alarmism or for sound science? There is no middle ground.

Therefore, in the US at least, there is a crying need to prepare for the Post-Al Gorical era of sound, skeptical science!
And that's why I voted "yes" in Anthony's poll.

Apr 20, 2014 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterOrson

On balance, I would vote no because an organisation is easier to attack than a diffuse set of informed sceptics. Such a group risks being mired in endless speculation about its corrupt sources of funding, its anti-democractic nature, its rightwingedness etc etc. Arming yourself with the truth doesn't work if your opponents believe in the essential nobility of their cause and happily subscribe to ideas like the good lie.

Apr 20, 2014 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered Commenteralan kennedy

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