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« Wind in the doldrums | Main | Selfie Mann - Josh 294 »
Friday
Sep262014

Watts up with Mann?

This is a guest post by Katabasis.

It’s been an interesting few days, having attended both the Cook and Mann talks and have some valuable meetings (many for the first time) with other climate sceptics. I wanted to share a perspective that deviates somewhat from what appears to be an emerging – er – ‘consensus’ among a number of the people I had the pleasure to spend time with over the last week or so. There has been discussion in person, here and over at WUWT regarding the pursuit of some kind of rapprochement with the mainstream of climate science and climate scientists. A significant feature of the conversation thus far appears to be concern over the fractious nature of the debate, especially online. In particular there have been concerns raised regarding the effect on, and perception of, sceptics more generally as a result of the more angry and impassioned amongst us.

I want to offer something of a counterpoint. I want to, instead, make a few points in defence of angry sceptics.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sympathetic to the arguments made thus far in favour of maintaining calm, polite discourse. However, I think it’s important to remember that you can’t control other people’s reactions – and that’s where most of the anger resides, anger in response to perceived provocations. Moreover I don’t think the anger is going to let up any time soon, even if some of us ‘angry sceptics’ mellow somewhat – new sceptics are joining the fold every day, and many of them are pissed off from the moment they’ve ‘turned’ to climate realism.

Why?

Let’s review the two Cabot Institute talks. First we had Cook repackaging his “97% consensus” propaganda for the hapless Bristol audience. I say ‘hapless’ because at no point in his presentation was there even the slightest acknowledgement that his work – and the prior efforts that had inspired it – had come under such severe and comprehensive criticism that it was holed below the waterline. If one of my papers had received that kind of criticism I think I would have been embarrassed to even mention it in public, never mind carry out high profile presentations of it, hoping that mere repetition of memes would carry me through.

As I mentioned over at WUWT,[1] I found the whole presentation highly offensive. Cook continues the proud tradition of the ‘team’ where they paint a cartoon image of a sceptic in crayon on the wall and then go through a clown-dancing performance of `dialogue' with the gurning visage of primary colours they’ve splattered in front of them. Just the criticisms and points Cook received in the Q & A afterwards should have shattered that image of ‘sceptics’ as defined by the Skeptical Séance team for the undecided in the audience. Or at least one would hope. His presentation was largely fact free drivel and assertion that his research was right. It was the classic ‘team’ bait and switch of asserting an authoritative consensus over a modest area (the ‘basic physics’ of CO2) and then arguing through direct implication that this applied to an astronomically wider domain (catastrophic outcomes).  This is despite his work having been comprehensively monstered by José Duarte[2] and many others.  I even cited Duarte’s work in my own question to Cook, highlighting the inclusion of numerous, ridiculously inappropriate, papers in the measure of the ‘consensus’.  A point which, like all of the others, he airily dismissed whilst going on to trail the politician’s path of answering the question he would have preferred you had asked.

Then there was Mann. There has already been significant commenting here and elsewhere regarding the bizarrely short Q and A at the end. James Delingpole[3] has noted that Mann even posted about it on Facebook. As I noted in the comments, Mann and his sychophants  are backslapping eachother over how it `speaks volumes',  that `there were no questions at all from the climate change denier contingent that supposedly had come out in force'. There weren’t many hands up it is true, but I know for sure that mine and Barry’s were two of them.   I noticed that Mann had also taken the liberty of deleting Barry’s perfectly polite and reasonable replies on that thread.

The primary thrust of Mann’s talk, prior to slating as many perceived enemies as he could, was ‘going large’ on the bait and switch I mentioned above. He even used an identical slide to Cook on the `many lines of evidence' that support AGW. He emphasised the venerability of the ‘basic science’ and then machine gunned the audience with imagery of extreme weather. Every single damn point he made about extreme weather from then on in, as far as I can tell, is unsupported by AR5. And yet the audience lapped it up. There must have been dozens of academics in the audience who just swallowed it uncritically. There was no mention of the ‘hiatus’ (his x axis stopped shortly after the year 2000 on temperature graphs); Cook on the other hand explicitly denied it using the famous Sceptical Séance ‘escalator graph'.[4].  This is despite the fact that the ‘hiatus’ is now a major topic of discussion in the ‘mainstream’ of climate science – I can verify this personally as it was brought up regularly by the IPCC scientists present at the ‘RSclimate’ event last year.[5]

Cook, Mann and many of the other members of ‘the team’ are wilfully deceptive. They should have been laughed off the stage, not applauded. I’m not willing to accept the ‘Noble cause corruption’ narrative and neither, it seems, are some others.  This isn’t just individual failure, it’s institutional. And that’s where it really sticks in the craw for me. And it drives much of my anger, as well as that of the people who I have successfully introduced to climate scepticism/realism. 

The wellspring of that anger deserves proper articulation. There’s a quote attributed to Martin Luther King that I have always liked that is apposite:

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

If any of those reading consider themselves part of the ‘climate mainstream’, then I urge you to meditate on the above carefully when reading what follows as it applies to you on several levels.

When I am introducing someone to the sceptical range of views an exercise I often use  is to give them a link to the IPCC WG1 report (now AR5, previously I linked them to AR4). I then invite them to pick three chapters at random – any three whatsoever (other than the Summary for Policymakers (SPM)) – and skim them (or read them in full if they have the time) and come back to me with their impressions. I experience the same response every time and indeed, it matches my own. Reading the report’s individual chapters (sans the SPM), one comes away with the impression of a scholarly, ponderous document. Lots of caveats, uncertainties, doubts, gaps and so on are clearly articulated. In short, it is what one generally expects from academic output. Then the anger flows in. It is a painfully sharp contrast to the mainstream narratives. Within those there’s disaster lurking at any moment, around every corner. It’s always ‘worse than we thought’. The climate science establishment are unanimous in agreeing that thermageddon is imminent – they’re 95% certain, in fact! About every aspect of the topic!

At this point the brakes screech. The red lights start flashing. As I get older each year, the people I introduce to sceptical books, blogs and insights become ever younger.  They move ever closer to that group of young men and women just entering adulthood who have not seen global warming for their entire lives. Yet they’ve been indoctrinated right from the very start. Many come out of our education fearful for the future, as our host has amply demonstrated.[6]

They are told incessantly that the world is dying, there isn’t much hope without urgent and extreme action, and it’s all their fault for living with some creature comforts.  We’re drowning in something, but it isn’t rising sea levels. It’s prognostications of doom in a legion of screaming litanies that continually fail to occur as advertised. Why hasn’t action been taken? It’s those evil ‘deniers’ and their tobacco/oil/[insert idiocy] industry backing spreading doubt and preventing action. Except it isn’t. The ‘mainstream’ of climate science is chock full of doubts, including about the hysterical prophecies of the reverend Al Gore and sychophants. The heart rate rises, respiration increases. A state of low level adrenal emergency is entered.  Why didn’t they tell us? Why have our school teachers, our media, our parents, our climate science establishment not reined in the irresponsible activist-scientists and their supporters in advocate groups? Angry? You bet.

And that’s just among the general public. What of those of us who have, or have had, a continuing relationship with academia? Some of the reactions I’ve witnessed there have eclipsed even my white hot reaction.

Of my friends and family who take an interest in sincere discussion on these issues, those with a more political bent I sent to Pointman’s blog.[7] Those of a more philosophical to Ben Pile’s.[8] For those of my friends pursuing academic careers however, I sent them to Duarte’s holdout. Duarte does two things particularly well – he provides a comprehensive and scholarly critique of recent Cook and Lewandowsky offerings. He also proffers a very particular kind of outrage. That of the academic betrayed.

I felt exactly the same when I turned fully to climate scepticism/realism. As I discussed this week with Barry Woods and Richard Drake, I was working in a lab at the time. I still regarded the scientific and academic establishments as the last hold out for hope. It didn’t matter that political and economic wrangling was hopelessly fragged. Science and the quest for an ever clearer insight into the ways of the world, led by paragons of integrity, would see us through. Or so I naively believed.  Discovering that a substantive area of science had let itself be presented in such a monstrous form in the public eye was an extremely bitter pill to swallow indeed.

I discovered that being a climate sceptic in the ivory towers was dangerous. It’s why I maintain a veneer of pseudonymity still. I can’t express the anger or bitterness at the sense of extreme betrayal in the written word, though I’ve often burst my top with expletives on the subject online and off. To find that the bladder bursting conniptions of our literati concerning our imminent doom as a result of our carbon sins is in fact an exaggeration of the facts off the scale even when compared to the famous UK ‘dodgy dossier’ on Iraq was, for a budding academic, the worst betrayal.

I didn’t sign up for this. Duarte didn’t sign up for this. Nor did any of my friends and colleagues in my age group who planned a career either in, or closely related to academia. The covenant has been broken. It’s precisely this kind of hyperbole that they should exist in order to rein in, to let cooler heads prevail. But there’s no ponderous pontification here, the overheated chicken littles run the roost whilst the ‘mainstream’ of climate science appears to sit comfortably, keeping eggs warm for the future.  I’ve met a few of you in person now. You tell me, quietly, that you don’t agree with the hysteria at all, and that it’s clear from your published work.

Not good enough.

Some of you may remember from my report on the ‘RSclimate’ event that I challenged Mat Collins on this issue.  That’s the same Mat Collins who is the Joint Met Office Chair in Climate Change.  When I asked why he and others didn’t attempt to rein in the hysterics, who do not represent what the IPCC actually says, he said it wasn’t his responsibility. More recently, at the Walker Institute annual lecture, on climate change communication, myself and Barry Woods questioned none other than the government’s chief scientific adviser himself, Mark Walport. I put it to him that AR5 did not support catastrophic conclusions with any certainty. He responded that when he said climate change was going to be ‘bad’ he did not mean ‘catastrophic’. He failed to provide a definition of ‘bad’. This was the keynote lecture for a climate change communication outfit. If he can’t communicate something so important that is so very easily misconstrued into the worst case scenario to someone like myself who is relatively well informed on the topic, what hope the general public?

In short, there seems to be no stomach amongst the ‘mainstream’ climate establishment to do anything very much to counter the incredibly pernicious effect of our Cooks, Manns, Lewandowskys and Hansens. You don’t seem to realise that the public already lumps all of you together and some of us who know better are at the end of their tether in trying to maintain that distinction.  The effort is a law of diminishing returns – why should we attempt to lift you out of a hole you continue to keep digging deeper? History won’t care what your inscrutable paywalled article actually said. Neither will the general public. They’ll care that you didn’t speak out when you should have. That you allowed everyone who raised objections be painted as part of some shady conspiracy funded by billions in filthy lucre.  That you allowed their children to be terrified by a vision of monstrous and hopeless futures. The anger is going to continue to grow until a significant portion of the climate mainstream steps up to the plate, and would be well advised to do so before the leash well and truly snaps.

Whilst I’m loathe to use a Socialist Worker Party slogan here, this one is entirely apt:

If not us, then who? If not now, then when?

Well?

 

[1] http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/09/20/my-report-on-the-cook-talk-in-bristol-attendees-are-invited-to-leave-their-impressions/

[2] http://www.joseduarte.com/blog/cooking-stove-use-housing-associations-white-males-and-the-97

[3] http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/09/24/Professor-Michael-Mann-shows-his-true-class

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96MoYbVeD0M

[5] http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2013/10/2/a-report-from-the-royal.html

[6] http://www.thegwpf.org/climate-control/

[7] http://thepointman.wordpress.com/

[8] http://www.climate-resistance.org/

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Reader Comments (139)

EM,

Can you please try to help me out by explaining how one can establish a global average of temperature?

What meaning does this have?

Sep 26, 2014 at 11:58 PM | Unregistered Commenterjones

Katabasis' post is well articulated but his point has been blindingly obvious for well over thirty years. I suppose "venting" helps him to feel better but it achieves nothing else

There is nothing practical to be done - betrayal of scientific honesty by those who know what they are doing is real and completely entrenched now

Like the Inquisition of the Middle Ages, this will simply have to burn itself out over many years and decades to come

Sep 27, 2014 at 1:38 AM | Unregistered Commenterianl8888

95% of skeptics are cowardly low testosterone pacifists, similar to pathetic male feminists in being proud of their insufferable nice guy syndrome, while 95% of climate “scientists” are quite simply careerist hacks, studying mostly natural warming, allowing peer review to remain corrupt, destroying the legitimacy of the entire field, their own work included. Skeptics failed to realize that Lewandowsky is not an emperor and that raised voices spoken out of turn trump sniveling complaints after the fact. Were this the field of genetics, AIDs, or cancer, not only would these charlatans be fired and banned from funding, but many also arrested. It's about that simple.

-=NikFromNYC=-, Ph.D. in carbon chemistry (Columbia/Harvard)

Sep 27, 2014 at 2:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterNikFromNYC

I've only just caught up with BH and this sparkling piece by Katabasis. I really enjoyed meeting the guy for the first time on Friday last and Tuesday and I regret I can't use his first name in saying so. More on that anon, so to speak.

I love anger, one of the great emotions that makes us human. I was asking myself after reading this which expression of anger from a climate dissident I've most appreciated in the last year. Here it is:

I have never shied away from controversy, nor — for example, as Chancellor — worried about being unpopular if I believed that what I was saying and doing was in the public interest.

But I have never in my life experienced the extremes of personal hostility, vituperation and vilification which I — along with other dissenters, of course — have received for my views on global warming and global warming policies.

For example, according to the Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, the global warming dissenters are, without exception, "wilfully ignorant" and in the view of the Prince of Wales we are "headless chickens". Not that "dissenter" is a term they use. We are regularly referred to as "climate change deniers", a phrase deliberately designed to echo "Holocaust denier" — as if questioning present policies and forecasts of the future is equivalent to casting malign doubt about a historical fact.

It's because Nigel Lawson's anger is so deep, so well targeted and so well expressed. And because I know the name of the person so expressing it. If it doesn't sound angry enough to you you're not reading carefully enough. Skiphil, as often, has more to teach about this.

My favourite example of anger in the last hundred years? It has to be this confrontation in a German courtroom after the failed July 1944 plot to kill Hitler:

Ewald von Kleist-Schmenzin … stopped Freisler in his tracks when he said 'Yes, I have pursued high treason since 30 January 1933, always and with every means. I have made no secret of my struggle as a commandment from God. God alone will be my judge.' At that point proceedings were halted by air raid sirens. American bombs flattened the courthouse walls, and Freisler was killed by falling masonry. Kleist's trial was resumed in February 1945; he was executed in early April.

That's from page 715 of Michael Burleigh's The Third Reich - A New History. Again, it helps that we know Kleist-Schmenzin's name. Anger without that can seem rather tame.

Sep 27, 2014 at 2:28 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

ianal8888 snored: “There is nothing practical to be done....”

This pathetic fatalism is why I alone am the *only* seasoned skeptic on one of the highest traffic news sites of all, VICE.com, chock full of young rebellious and highly cynical adults and college students, high school students even, with very light moderation. If there are about 30,000 daily readers of WUWT that puts me in the 0.003% percentile of skeptics who actually go out onto such news sites and POST facts. I even suspect so many voices of moderation are false flag activism by Gorebots. Another site with near zero seasoned data ready skeptics is Phys.org. There is also Gizmodo.com and BoingBoing.net. Exactly because I have been so isolated on such hipster young adult sites is why it’s so easy for ban campaigns to indeed get me banned. I stick out like a maverick, no matter how reasonable I am, thanks to you thirty thousand pacifists.

Sep 27, 2014 at 2:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterNikFromNYC

That something like this has been peddled is scary in itself.
Some people seem to get afraid of getting tagged. You are in struggle you'll get tagged.

For me it is even bizarre how skeptics websites give such importance to Lewandowsky & Co.

We should not be afraid what they tag us with, instead they should be afraid what we tag them with.

Sep 27, 2014 at 4:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterLL

LL you've missed the point. We're not angry because we've been labelled. Nobody was particularly bothered that Lew wrote a load of rubbish. Twice. The issue was that despite being total tosh the papers still got published anyway. Once they were published they should have been laughed off by honest warmists. The anger is the abasement of science (started well before Lew) and the whole edifice of stupidity built upon it. I'm also assuming you've missed the hint from certain quarters that we're at the point of peace talks and that this is a hint that we're not all there yet no matter how nice and reasonable some of the other side might be.

Sep 27, 2014 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

[snip- venting] Go TEACH. Stop filling Curry’s blog with useless omage. Go to the front line.

Vice.com...

Sep 27, 2014 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterNikFromNYC

We'll do what we want to. We're all to bloody minded to respond to react favourably to that sort of goad.

Sep 27, 2014 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Actual Truth, public perception, media-bods perception, decision-makers perception & green-activists perceptions are all different.
- When is angry grees are making "drama" in a public space online or in a lecture some of the peopple in the audience are laughing at their arguments. However it is often the case that seeing theose arguments unchallenged a media-bod just accepts them and amplifies them in wider public forum, where they are picked up by the decision-makers. so NikFromNYC is right to argue skeptics should speak up

- Yes there are situations where both media-bods and decision-makers are also laughing at the arguments, but the dynamics of "green" mean it's better not to tell the truth. The dynamics with human situations are not balanced e.g. people feel positive to a con man who promises them a $1000 profit, yet if you sit down and explain how the scheme is a scam and thus save the same people the $1000, their gratitude is not of the same magnitude. So skeptics don't get well rewarded for speaking up.

Sep 27, 2014 at 2:06 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Stew: Yes, thanks, it's highly complex. Some anger is understandable and a subset of that anger is good. But, of course, as Anders Breivik shows us, not all anger is good. In what Lawson writes above he gives good reasons why dissenters are annoyed but he doesn't sound to me as if he's ranting. To a deep green perhaps he does. You can't soothe everyone. It's not an easy balance to strike, especially in the multiple contexts you begin to tease out. We need to give significant freedom to each other to come to the balance that seems right for us. That was my reaction when I read about Roy Spencer wanting to call repeat offenders of the holocaust denier smear global warming Nazis. The denier smear is still the area I feel we should be angriest about - on behalf of the real victims first and foremost. But how to "be angry and sin not," as the apostle Paul once put it? There are no easy answers to that.

Sep 27, 2014 at 5:07 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am not for others, what am I?
And if not now, when?

Hillel the Elder, died 10 CE

He was definitely not a socialist.

Sep 27, 2014 at 9:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterDizzy Ringo

skiphil, I have a different take on what happened when you got angry enough to start stirring up the university administration about a scandal.

The fact that they didn't want to engage with you directly, or have a public bloodbath, doesn't mean that your anger was counter-productive. It was very likely still the trigger for them to do something. They probably figured (from my long experience in bureaucracies) - hey, this guy is really fired up, and doesn't look like going away. It could be embarrassing. How can we fix this issue with minimum public drama?

I have seen exactly this phenomenon occur many times in bureaucracies and in politics. Of course, sometimes the response is to try and shoot the messenger, either openly or behind the scenes. Its a risky strategy for the angry whistle-blower to pursue. But it is not necessarily ineffective, especially if said whistle-blower is credible and has at least a modicum of job security.

We need a spectrum of responses in order to be effective, and anger is an important component of that spectrum. But there is also scope for those people who prefer to be the calm "voice of reason" in the debate.

That said, as Anthony Watts found out when he trusted the Berkeley crowd on a joint research project, trusting your opponent is a mistake. You can engage civilly with people without trusting them at all. That is the world of international diplomacy in a nutshell!

Great article and subsequent discussion, BTW.

Sep 27, 2014 at 10:09 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Utterly splendid post.

Just at the end-----there is a difference between loath and loathe.

Sep 27, 2014 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMatt

There are many good comments on this thread but as I'm reading from the end at this point please allow me to further support in your comment immediately above and in its entirety.

I agree with you. Pardon the expression but sometimes it is necessary to "slap the bitch in the face" to get their attention. It's risky but often effective. That said, you better be right.

Sep 27, 2014 at 11:17 PM | Unregistered Commenter@ johanna

I don't know who "@johanna" is, but it's not me!

Did the poster mean that they were referring to my comment, perhaps?

Sep 27, 2014 at 11:24 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

With regards to my comment above tagged/authored as "@ johanna" I most sincerely apologize. I am eyesonu. Time is limited and I hurriedly post a comment before dinner.

My apologies again.

Sep 27, 2014 at 11:37 PM | Unregistered Commentereyesonu

No probs - I assumed it was something like that.

Sep 27, 2014 at 11:45 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna
Sep 28, 2014 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

JamesG (Sep 26, 2014 at 1:18 PM): what make you think that Katabasis is a “right winger”? Surely, his position of the football field has little to do with his argument?

Perhaps you refer to his political affiliations, though why questioning the thoughts of the Socialist Workers Party is “right-wing” (thus, by implication, wrong) is a question that you should ask yourself. If following the path directed by common-sense, and allowing the views and opinions of others to be expressed without let or hindrance, even if at odds with your own, while persisting in the pursuit of truth and accuracy, and minimising the removal of people’s hard-earned money by threat (as taxation is) is right-wing, then yes, I am proud to be a “right winger”, along with Katabasis.

Your own political leanings come loudly to the fore in your post, perhaps diminishing the ideas that you may be trying to put over, as you actively separate the readers into two camps, neither of which they may be comfortable with.

Sep 28, 2014 at 1:34 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

JamesG's entire post amounts to a simple argumentum ad hominem. Interestingly, in doing so, he reveals that he is swayed by his ideological bent in the same way he accuses katabasis, adding hypocrisy to his own faults. Of course, JamesG's "content" merely consists of assuming motive (presumably because it disagrees with his own, though maybe his was altruistic), whereas katabasis provides clear examples that support his argument - people are unabashedly stating that capitalism is the cause and socialism is the cure now.One does not need to be a "right winger" to see this everywhere. Indeed, even 90% of the so-called left sits to the right of the worst offenders (offenders they are). Sad that our education systems produces such a lack of ability to formulate cogent, rational arguments.

Mark

Sep 28, 2014 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark T

Yes, a very effective essay but, as usual, we are preaching to the converted. Why hasn't anyone drawn attention to the fact that the "learned" societies" are also converted to the heresy? The Royal Society is notorious for its role, but my own Institution of Chemical Engineers is also committed (I can't speak for other learned bodies); even our current President published an article (on CCS) in the last journal that was absolute nonsense. It seems to me that most of the Bish's followers are members of one or other of the learned bodies why don't we all try to make some impact by directly addressing them.

Sep 28, 2014 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterVernon E

The British Interplanetary Society of which I'm a Fellow has no position on climate change IIRC but it's not unusual to hear skeptical comments among the guests at its various lectures.

The Pasadena based Planetary Society came out long ago with bilious articles against evil skeptics, and lost a long-time member.

Sep 28, 2014 at 4:44 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

"Sad that our education systems produces such a lack of ability to formulate cogent, rational arguments."

I basically agree Mark T having worked for significant time in academia and the real world. From experience I think academia is held back loads from having to pick from a pool who have done well academically at school/university etc.. it gives you a very specific set of people. Since working in the real 'capitalist' world where you don't have a job if your company doesn't make money I've met a huge number of incredibly bright people who left school at 16 and could easily do what the academics do if trained and brought up to speed. I don't think they would enjoy the environment though. One of the things that annoys me most is the 'elitism' of the people with academic qualifications against people they have no concept of how different (and generally much better) working in industry really is.

As an academic my IT skills were fairly poor 20 years ago and at the standard of 'Harry README' etc... I'm amazed that the IT in Meteorology basically has stood still in lots of aspects in those 20 years. As an industry it has transformed massively (not all positive IMO) but interestingly it is good to see that very little of this progress is academically driven. I'm a huge advocate of Open Source software bit it is the commercial companies themselves that push this along still, not some tax funded boondoggle or academic 'initiative' which I find a very positive thing.

Sep 28, 2014 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Here's one way to do battle - the impact cannot be measured, but I'm having fun!

Whenever I see an obviously agenda driven fact-free or incorrect alarmist article I write a letter to the editor and send a copy to the writer citing facts from 'impeccable' sources. It's surprising how often these articles ignore IPCC findings!

To make sure that the writer pays attention I copy the Public Editor and ask for a correction. When the publisher's email address is available he also gets copied.

Occasionally, just to make sure that the paper can't ignore me, I also copy the Press Council. Funding for the Press Council comes from the papers so they find a way to weasel out of the case but they do have to publish the complaint.

Having decided to be a pain in the a$$, I try to make it hurt as much as possible by making it difficult to deal with the complaints.

Very few corrections get made, but at least everyone involved knows that they are deliberately misleading the public - this gives me some satisfaction. The often sanctimonious Public Editors (Ombudsmen) have a tough time explaining how this type of devious agenda driven reporting squares with the papers' lofty published principles dealing with the need for credibility and fairness with the public.

I'm presently comparing the deafening silence on Arctic and Antarctic ice extents with the 'Oh my God, it's worse than we thought' articles in 2012 and asking the papers for an explanation for the difference.

Sep 28, 2014 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterPolitical Junkie

Every little bit helps, PJ!

Sep 28, 2014 at 9:22 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

"If not us, then who? If not now, then when?" Socialist Worker Party slogan? Please:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillel_the_Elder

Sep 28, 2014 at 10:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeR

@ CharmingQuark
<I>I think Skeptics have managed to escape the biggest ravages from the alarmists. Think of:

Roy Spencer, Roger Pielke senior and junior and Judith Curry - they all have been met with severe venom</I>

I think your observation is biased from the "Streetlight Effect". You see skeptics that have survived, if not prospered, under slings and arrows and conclude the survival rate must be high.

What about the cohorts of skeptics who careers have stalled?
What about the skeptic whose voice has been silenced and smothered?
What about the students who were persuaded to choose another field?
On more than one occasion J. Curry has said she is glad to have tenure.

If we choose to examine the dark alleys away from the streetlights, the body count may be quite high.

Sep 29, 2014 at 8:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Rasey

Stephen Rasey: The trouble with trying to imagine what may have happened 'away from the streetlights' is that it's unverifiable but can still make us angry. I'm not denying that some of what you describe has gone on. But its scale? Best to concentrate on real evidence. There's enough.

Sep 29, 2014 at 12:19 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

It is essential for prominent skeptics to demand rigorous main stream public scientific debate, if and when the alarmist pretend to make conciliatory "we generally agree on many things statements". (This, avoidance of the question; is anthropogenic CO2 catastrophic? is the essence of the 97% studies, despite many other fatal flaws)

This will force the alarmist back into their attack mode, because they cannot stand the light of reasoned public debate. (The few that occurred were failures to the "cause" and none were shown to the MSM.)

BTW, the title of the debate must be, "Is anthropogenic CO2 emissions catastrophic to human life on earth?" .

Sep 29, 2014 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid A

" ...BTW, the title of the debate must be ..."
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oh, grow up, David A. You will never be able to dictate the terms of any debate.

Please start dealing with reality, or else go back to playing the computer games that I strongly suspect that you are very fond of.

Sep 29, 2014 at 6:30 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Martin Luther King, quoted above : In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Judith Curry used the term "deafening silence" in relation to Climategate and the ensuing official coverups.

Sep 30, 2014 at 7:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterTuppence

Katabasis, a well written and enjoyable article. Are you the same person who had a blog of that name? As for the Manns et al of this world it is my view that rather than being Scientists they are rather Sciolists and should henceforward be referred to as such.

Sep 30, 2014 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohn in cheshire

“Radical Rodent”
Your quote on education is an example of a form of “package deal” and of outright mis-representation.

A common game is that anything old is bad (as in your quote) or that anything new is bad – whichever suits the utterers agenda.

Certainly education could be improved, but not by throwing out principles of knowledge. (See educator Lisa VanCamme’s article “The Hierarchy of Knowledge: The Most Neglected Issue in Education:, in the Spring 2006 issue of The Objective Standard. www.TheObjectiveStandard.com/issues/2006-spring-hierarchy-of-knowledge.asp.)

Certainly government could be improved, but not by eliminating the principles that history shows work for humans.

Perversely, the source of the ideology most environmental activists have subsumed ignored results of the progress he was living amongst and invented a logically indefensible notion that more resembled the Dark Ages in Europe.

Karl Marx was living in London England, where advances in individual freedom had provided worker mobility compared to feudal times and the knowledge and creativity of the Agricultural Revolution and Industrial Revolution, which provided aids to life including efficient weaving. (For example, affordable cotton panties for hygiene and durable blankets, known in Canada and the US as “Hudson’s Bay” blankets, which were used as a covering while walking around – large one on adult, half of one wrapped around baby.)

Sep 30, 2014 at 6:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith Sketchley

There’s a negative view of humans underlying Marx’ theories – uncreative (thus fixed pie economics) and untrustworthy (thus drive-to-the-bottom ethics). The combination gives exploitation theory.

That’s why environmentalists claim that humans are eliminating all the trees and more, in ignorance of what is outside their windows – abundant gardens planted and tended by humans, and what is well known outside of urban areas – planted forests. It’s why they ignore the clean water and good sewage disposal that helps their health.

Their basic method of knowledge leads them to the nastiness this thread points to, as they have nothing but emotions to fall back on when their way isn’t working – deep down they know they cannot persuade by logic and facts.

The question is why so many people believe the apocalyptics. That’s psychology, the only way I know of countering in the short term is to point to the results of human activity that I mention above. In the long term, teaching critical thinking skills in school.

While those interested in the science want to get academics on the right track, the best use of limited resources in the short term is to educate the media and politicians.

Sep 30, 2014 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith Sketchley

Keith. Name one l Marxist environmentalist.

This is the only left wing book on AGW I know. It's sceptical.


GREEN CAPITALISM: Manufacturing Scarcity in an Age of Abundance by James Heartfield --


"In other words, green capitalism is not a passing fad adopted by a few corporate bosses, too spineless to stand up to the hippies; it expresses an essential feature of the social system. As Heartfield reminds us, the origins of modern environmentalism lie in the 1970s when the elite industrialists of the Club of Rome commissioned The Limits to Growth report. As the long post-war boom ended, arguing that the world was running out of resources was another way of saying that there was nothing left to redistribute, and that trade unions must settle for lower wages (p27). (Needless to say, the Club of Rome’s predictions about the exhaustion of natural resources were all confounded [p13]).


http://www.culturewars.org.uk/2008-03/heartfield.htm

Sep 30, 2014 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterE. Smiff

@Richard Drake 9/29 8:06 am
'away from the streetlights' is that it's unverifiable....
.. Best to concentrate on real evidence. There's enough.

This situation is akin to the survivor sampling bias pitfall of the "Planes That Come Back" story from WWII.

In this case, we are looking at the battle damage of the skeptics that are still flying. We must not treat these survivors as a representative sample of all the skeptics that entered the fray.

Oct 1, 2014 at 1:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Rasey

Stephen: Sorry I only spotted this five days later. It's a great and instructive example you cite. We're in agreement that some of these things cannot be known. What we surely all need, like the RAF pilots of WWII, is courage. An overactive imagination, as can be triggered in such cases, may not help. Either way, we need to fight.

Oct 6, 2014 at 12:04 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

@Richard Drake 10/6 12:04pm
We're in agreement that some of these things cannot be known.

Yes. But observations can be made. Courageous pilots made reports of others shot down.

Where do we hear of research papers and data sets that are in editorial limbo for months on end?
For instance, would we know about
"An area and distance weighted analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends" - Watts, E.Jones McIntyre, and Christy, 2012-2014?
if Watts had not done an unusual public draft peer-review in July. 2012? It is over two years now. Whatever flaws it may have had, whatever additional analysis the subject needs, should we not be reading the fourth generation of this work and these observations rather than awaiting the first?

Think of the authors that are forever first-timers because their papers don't get published and therefore give up trying. Think of the authors that do not come back. Yes it is an unknown quantity, but it is not zero.

Thankfully, there are now blogs to serve as a safety valve an extra avenue of communication. It does take Courage to report the work of your peers missing in action.

P.S. Robert G. Brown has a piece at WUWT today: "Real Science Debates Are Not Rare"
... In climate science, however, the ClimateGate letters openly revealed that it has long since become covertly corrupted, with most of the refereeing being done by a small, closed, cabal of researchers who accept one another’s papers and reject as referees (well, technically only “recommend” rejection as referees) any paper that seriously challenges their conclusions. Furthermore, they revealed that this group of researchers was perfectly willing to ruin academic careers and pressure journals to fire any editor that dared to cross them. They corrupted the peer review process itself — articles are no longer judged on the basis of whether or not the science is well presented and moderately sound, they have twisted it so that the very science being challenged by those papers is used as the basis for asserting that they are unsound. ...

Oct 7, 2014 at 6:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Rasey

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