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Discussion > A question of PR

A "mountain of abuse or worse" at CA? Are you kidding me?

Apr 8, 2013 at 12:16 PM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

Well this guy was not too amused at pictures of his family being posted...

Apr 8, 2013 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Thanks Geoff and TinyCO2: lots of interesting stuff.

Geoff: the analysis of the opinionocracy certainly resonates. But I'm not clear whether it excludes the idea of better PR. Do you think the members of the opinionocracy are driven by an ideology per se, or by idea that they should appear to hold the most fashionable views of the time? My hunch is it is the latter, and if so then there is room to get the message across. And this is where I would argue for better PR.

TinyCO2: great post, and it seems to articulate what I was thinking about much more clearly than I ever could! As Geoff pointed out, one sticking point is that many of those who set the agenda in the MSM (including my publisher) promote the warmist line and appear to be members of the opinionocracy. The same goes for the policitians who are all devoted to a "progressive" agenda. (Btw, anyone know John Gray's v interesting writings, esp. "Black Mass," on progressive politics and the search for utopia?)

So, as you suggest, the views of the majority are seldom heard. It is the views of the chattering clases/opinioncracy that count. (Geoff: does the new term "opinionocracy" infer something different from the traditional "chattering classes"?)

Tiny, I would argue that the only way to influence these people is through presenting the message in a different way. I imagine this could start by addressing a few questions:

1) Why have skeptics failed to get their message across?
2) How could skeptics do better at getting their message across?

My thoughts:

1) I'm not sure it's quite as simple as saying that it doesn't suit the opinionocracy's ideology. I'm not sure they are shame the same beliefs and that they are all equally narrow minded. I feel that it is more because the warmists have been able to divert attention away from the skeptics message by shouting their message louder, and by labeling skeptics loonies, conspiracists, deniers etc before even discussing the facts. Also, the warmists have had a far better organised and far more clear message in the past, although this might be unravelling a bit now.

2) Present the message in a rational way and stop butting heads: it only makes warmists' job easier, as they can just continue to say that skeptics are mad. In fact, as TinyCO2 pointed out before, this is already happening in the bloggosphere. The tricky bit is getting the message into the MSM and subsequently across to the opinionocracy.

And this is where I feel that PR comes into it. A clever PR company could analyse how the messages have been presented in the past use this info to help skeptics re-orient and organise their message, not only to get it across more clearly but also to take the wind out of the warmists' sails, eg, by cleaning up the skeptics' image – so that "denier" and its associated narrative no longer had any traction – and by setting it within a new narrative that makes it harder for the warmists to fight.

The science is out there. It's just a question of getting it out there in the right way.

The above might include a new group of respected, reasonable scientists – who don't have the reputation of Lindzen et al – to start engaging with the MSM and the public arms of universities, scientific societies, and other respected institutions to get their evidence/views heard in a rational, reasonable context. The idea, again, being to not only show that there is contradictory evidence but also that not all skeptics are loonies.

It would have to involve some coordination, but if it were done in the right way it would be very hard for publishers or events manager to resist the polite overtures of a group of well respected academics, particularly if they were, for example, fellows of the Royal Society looking to write a piece for the Society's website or to contribute to a lecture series or debate.

This may sound very naïve. But as far as I can tell the skeptics have made very little attempt to coordinate a media or any other kind of strategy. But then who are "the skeptics"? This lack of coordination means it's impossible to say what "the skeptics" believe.

Apr 8, 2013 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterE17

what's wrong with Lindzen's reputation?

Apr 8, 2013 at 4:23 PM | Registered Commentershub

I get the impression that he has become an easy target. Is that not right?

Apr 8, 2013 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterE17

I'd like some evidence that McIntyre posted photographs of anyone's family whether because he disagreed with a post of theirs or for any other reason.
If and when you can quote the precise circumstances I will believe it. Meanwhile I will happily call faustusnotes a liar. What I call someone who repeats defamatory comments like that with your evident glee and without bothering to check to see if they are accurate is not repeatable in polite company.
Debate at WUWT is robust; some of his commenters are clowns; when was the last time Watts refused to accept a contribution because it was from a known warmist?
I'm not holding my breath on either of these matters.

Apr 8, 2013 at 4:45 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

To clarify: if I put myself in the position of someone who wants clarity on the evidence and opinions I can find plenty of discussion of lindzen's work being discredited from a quick online search. So then what am I to think? A new batch of unsullied skeptics on the other hand...

Apr 8, 2013 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterE17

There are two ways effective PR will work, and none of it through any "paid" means...

a) Ridicule - where the holding of the position reduces their status in popular culture
b) Claiming back the term Environmentalist - "I am a true Environmentalist because..." one of the pale greenies biggest weakness is the "just because I wear green underpants, everything I paint green is gospel" trait. "I care about the environment that is why I oppose the policies of CAGW reduction..."

a) cannot be planned, but it takes a few prominent people in popular culture to start to do it and it will quickly have an effect. Greenies have nothing on their side, because Greens have no sense of humour (10:10 being a great example). A high risk strategy would be to reclaim the "denier" term... "Yes I am a denier, I deny..."
b) Requires political exposure - not paid for PR, but promoting under the guide of politics and policy. WHich is still paid for, but is perhaps the only PR that passes as "known vested interest".

CAGW is easy to subscribe to, no cost and I increase in social status. Once you start to shift the popular and political debate the bien pensant's will drop off quite quickly - they have no moral core, just a need for social status.

However, as the greenies control the media and Parliament and the higher levels of the civil service...

Apr 8, 2013 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

"Well this guy was not too amused at pictures of his family being posted...
Apr 8, 2013 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket"

This is an example of "what-about-ism" (©Rhoda) , a common troll tactic for continuing diverting a discussion, even though their previous point has been refuted.

Apr 8, 2013 at 5:11 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

Just so you know my background on this...

I know Hungary very well. It went almost overnight from a Socialist system to a Capitalist system.

The social status pricing changed so quickly. I met so many good Socialists who suddenly were good Capitalists.

And it might seem strange, but those senior Socialists, true card carrying ones, became some of the biggest bastards you could mention.

There was no social cost to being a Socialist, then suddenly there was. Without any shame the contradictions were squared.

And I mentioned a little earlier on the unthreaded about Maggie passing away. At these moments history is rewritten. The same will happen with CAGW. in 20 years time you will not a find person who seriously believed in it.

Apr 8, 2013 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Mike Jackson, don't distort. Unless you have trouble reading you will note that I said nothing about McI posting such photos, only that they were posted. And neither did Faustusnotes. Here is what he said:

(I don’t comment at CA because they’re thugs: the only time I did, they started posting photos of me and my family, so I’m never going back there).

and later

Let me repeat: photos of my family. Think about that. They didn’t take them down until I made a peace offering, either [in which I wrote a post on my blog that still showed how incompetent McIntyre is]. RomanM and (to a lesser extent) McIntyre play the straight man while their flying monkeys unleash all manner of rage; they contribute to their (false) reputation as reasonable men only by contrast with their commenters, who do their dirty work for them (let me repeat: photos of my family).

Apr 8, 2013 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Jiminy: I think you and I have a different interpretation of what PR means but I also sense we have different agendas so maybe it doesn't matter

Apr 8, 2013 at 6:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterE17

E17, I have no agenda, I just used to be work for global Management Consultant companies. So see things differently. Effective PR is not writing a contract with a Mac wielding chap from Hoxton, with white large framed glasses and who drinks smoothies all day.

The 10:10 thing was a result of that thinking.

You need authentic grass roots belief in this both politically and in popular culture. I do not believe the PR you have in mind will achieve that. CAGW can only be beaten with authenticity and PR is not that.

Apr 8, 2013 at 7:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

The faustusnotes name rang some bells in my head, and though I couldn’t remember the details, I was pretty sure it was something to do with the Lewandowsky threads. So I went back and checked. Sure enough, he first appears on this thread here: Very arrogant, very aggressive and bordering on abusive. He gets told to rein things in, but doesn’t get snipped or moderated out. This continues for the next few Lewandowsky threads, with his behaviour getting, if anything, worse. He taunts Steve and RomanM and JeanS and the rest regarding their understanding of statistical methods, giving the impression that he’s better qualified and has a better understanding than they do. He also claims, at both CA and other blogs, that he is being censored and that his posts aren’t being shown. It’s explained to him on more than one occasion that there is no pre-moderation at CA, but that use of certain words will get your post caught up in the spam filter and he just needs to be patient until someone gets the time to check and fish it out. It’s fairly obvious early on that both Steve and RomanM know exactly who it is they’re dealing with. However, neither of them gives any clue until Steve links to an entirely different paper whilst trying to get agreement with faustusnotes on the proper procedure for data collection and preservation (on this thread here: ). One of the other blog regulars puts 2 and 2 together and realises that one of the authors of the paper that Steve links to is faustusnotes himself. It is he that then “outs” him. There was a photo put up, but I’m pretty sure it was only the one of faustusnotes himself taken from his University website. I don’t remember there being one of his family, but I could be wrong and I stand to be corrected on that. After that, there was a deal of sorts struck and his photo and name were removed (I believe Steve would have removed it anyway, but of course I would say that and I have no way of knowing for sure). In the next Lewandowsky thread, he returns with links to his new analysis at his own blog. The difference in tone is remarkable. He makes a few further comments, but no-one takes any real interest as the analysis he links to is still flawed and despite his latest claim at Tamino’s, doesn’t prove McIntyre wrong at all. In fact it supports McIntyre’s claims more than disproves them. In my view, the real reason faustusnotes stopped commenting at CA was not so much to do with the posting of his photo(s) as it was to do with the fact that he was outed as being a statistician of little note (based on his body of work and his contributions to the field - not his qualifications (he has a master’s)) when compared to people such as RomanM.

However, having said all that, it was wrong to both “out” him and to post whatever photo’s were posted. It shouldn’t have happened, no matter how obnoxious faustusnotes was being. So I have to give you the point here BB. On this one you’re right. I still think Tamino should show the courage of his convictions and come out from behind the barricades to defend his work, but it is difficult for me to argue that position when things like this happen.

PS Apologies to E17 for the off-topic on his discussion thread.

Apr 8, 2013 at 7:32 PM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

"Let me repeat: photos of my family. Think about that. They didn’t take them down until I made a peace offering, either [in which I wrote a post on my blog that still showed how incompetent McIntyre is]. RomanM and (to a lesser extent) McIntyre play the straight man while their flying monkeys unleash all manner of rage; they contribute to their (false) reputation as reasonable men only by contrast with their commenters, who do their dirty work for them (let me repeat: photos of my family)."

I haven't missed a post on climateaudit for nearly ten years. As you can guess I've now gotten to know the regular posters there (not personally) and, by and large, they are expert statisticians, not flying monkeys. So BB tell us where these photographs were published, or retract this false accusation. BTW I've seen how you refer to the denizens of this blog when you think you're talking to your mates, so don't try to behave as though you respect us, you don't. So let's have the evidence, which if true I, and I assure you, the other aged curmudgeons on this blog, will go over and give the flying monkeys a hard time, as will Steve McIntyre, a man of impeccable behavioural standards. Unlike the sorry excuse for scientists that at whose feet you worship.

Apr 8, 2013 at 7:35 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Sorry missed Laurie Child's post, but let's have the evidence bitty.

Apr 8, 2013 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Could Geronimo and Laurie Childs take their conversation with whatsisname somewhere else? Why not start a discussion just for thingy?

Apr 8, 2013 at 8:06 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Geronimo is absolutely right to point out the calibre of those that frequent the comments section at CA. Anyone caring to follow the links I give and read the threads in question will undoubtedly see for themselves that faustusnotes’s hyperbolic “flying monkeys” is just that. Hyperbole. Indeed, faustusnotes shows that any who thought him to be a sad little individual would not necessarily be incorrect.

Apr 8, 2013 at 8:20 PM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

Quite correct Geoff. No more from me.

Apr 8, 2013 at 8:22 PM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs


Do you think the members of the opinionocracy are driven by an ideology per se, or by the idea that they should appear to hold the most fashionable views of the time?
All far-reaching belief systems can be termed ideologies, including for example my fervent belief in democracy, a belief which I can’t justify rationally.
Your second possibility, “... the idea that they should appear to hold the most fashionable views of the time” begs the question of why that idea should be the most fashionable one, and not another - and, most importantly, why it meets no opposition.
The fact that there is no countervailing view to CAGW, even outside the small world of leftwing media people, is really odd. After all, there are leftwing people who are not in the media, and media people who are not leftwing.
What remains of British industry is threatened by high energy prices, yet where are the trade unionists rallying to Lord Lawson’s GWPF? Economists know that the Stern Review was nonsense, but where’s the discussion in the specialised press?
Jiminy Cricket mentions ridicule as a weapon. Where’s the stand up comic or the Private Eye satirist who will stand up to and satirise the Greens? It’s not lack of courage, but something more profound, which means that in certain societies, certain situations, certain things can’t be said. This is why I look to the social sciences, who know about things like taboo and social conformism and so on. But of course the social sciences are as infected as every other part of the decision making classes.
An idea I’ve borrowed from the French sociologist Emmanuel Todd is this: that while universal literacy is a great levelling force leading to democracy, the generalisation of university education creates a rift in society. As long as the educated élite constituted a tiny proportion of the population, they were necessarily in touch with the uneducated majority. Once they constitute 20-30% they form a self-sufficient mass with their own beliefs and values.
It’s not birth or wealth or the football team they support or even political belief that distinguishes them, but some knowledge which separates them from the chavs. What better ideology than an aesthetic and ethical respect for our fragile planet, coupled with sufficient education to be able to appreciate the reasoning of a George Monbiot?
If I’m right, and it’s a complex social construct, you’re not going to beat it with PR. Anyone who stands outside the social norm, a Delingpole or a Matt Ridley or a Tim Worstall is by definition an outlier, an outsider, if not an outcast.

Apr 8, 2013 at 8:30 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I respect some commenters here more than others. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being high respect, you, geronimo, have to come near to 1. Laurie Childs, in contrast is way higher (sorry to spoil your street-cred LC ;-)

So now you've seen that LC confirmed that one or more photos were posted and later withdrawn, but you want proof from me... What do you want, the type of camera used, the focal length, the resolution, my respect rating for the photographer?

LC, to be fair, I don't expect the photo affair is at all related to T's failure to visit CA. Maybe he doesn't want to lend credibility to CA by making it the go-to place for statistics discussion - just speculating. As I said before, I think he has nothing to gain by talking at CA - McI and his flying monkeys are never going to admit that T is right about anything.

Geoff Chambers, Delingpole is an outcast, isn't he? I've seen no support for his latest rant over here...

Apr 8, 2013 at 8:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Actually BB you do raise an interesting point.

Delingpole is what he is. Depending on your viewpoint, hits and misses.

His latest Nuremberg piece should have been passed by someone. It was poorly/clumsily written in places.

But would you want him put through the PR mangle?

Is his "authenticity" part of the price to pay. If someone did say "James my boy I have rewritten this for you..." would it have a negative effect on his place in the "market".

Really though, perhaps it is a sad reflection (as Geoff points out) that James has so much of the focus, that he has few competitors on the sceptic side of the media market.

Ps. I have little sympathy for Faustos. His ego told him he was shooting fish in a barrel... the reality was a little different. Either put your ego in your pocket, or justify it. If you walk into the Saloon looking for a gunfight, make sure you the guns are loaded or buy everyone a drink. Faustos was no innocent walking in off the street.

Apr 8, 2013 at 9:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

who gives a * about whom you 'respect' and whom you don't? Don't mess with the topic at hand. If you want to rant non-specifically, why don't you start your own discussion thread and see how many show up. That'll tell you something about respect too.

Apr 8, 2013 at 9:29 PM | Registered Commentershub

Jiminy Cricket, quite true. Delongpole is all about Delingpole. Difficult to separate what he really believes from what he says in order to be sensational (or at least noticed). He's a good self-publicist, but in being controversial he risks narrowing his audience too much to be of value to the Telegraph.

Sub, well geronimo for one - 7:35PM. No I wont be starting threads; I have no ego that needs feeding.

Apr 8, 2013 at 9:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

So don't disrupt others' threads. If you find yourself talking a lot but don't have much to say, it is time to stop.

Apr 8, 2013 at 10:04 PM | Registered Commentershub