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Discussion > Message to the BishopHill Township

The Conversation, a university financed blog with a monthly readership of 2 million, has recently extended its reach from Australia to the UK, and now to the USA. It's going all out on climate change: there have recently been articles by Thingy and Mann, and Whatsit and Lewandowsky. It's called the Conversation because it encourages civilised debate between authors and commenters, and it works rather well. Professor Thingy and Doctor Whatsit were both quite charming and polite in their replies, and a professor of philosophy from Glasgow thanked Brad Keyes and me when we explained some of the arcane details of Lewandowsky's work.
I've explained why I think commenting there is a good thing at
http://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/the-conversation/
A certain Raff commented:
“If you want to destroy the ability of sceptics to comment at all you are going the right way about it. By encouraging others to pile in on an article … you are provoking exactly what you are complaining about.” [i.e. censorship of sceptics.]
I replied at length to him under my article, but I realise I left out the essential:
What's the difference between the demand of sceptics to be heard in the media and the demand of Blacks in the American South for the end of segregation? What's the difference between Raff's reply and the observation that, by demanding the right to sit in the front of the bus, blacks would only make things worse for themselves?

The latest article at the Conversation, by Simon Buckle, Policy Director at the The Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, is at:
https://theconversation.com/stark-ipcc-climate-report-shows-the-time-for-talking-is-over-33650
I've commented, as have Barry Woods and Paul Matthews, and Simon Buckle has responded promptly. The Conversation is a place where dialogue is possible.

Think of it from Simon Buckle's point off view. You work at a top university; you place an article at a respected blog; you're putting your reputation on the line - a bit like University Challenge. Colleagues and rivals may be watching. He has every reason to engage in constructive dialogue. The site is paid for by the taxpayer, after all. A failure to engage with constructive criticism might be interpreted as an affront to the taxpayer who funds the site and a challenge to academic freedom. I therefore assert my freedom of speech in encouraging Bishopshill's Angels to manifest themselves. Everyone to the front of the bus.

What do y'all think?

Oct 31, 2014 at 8:49 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I think it sounds a really important opportunity. But I've already asked some questions privately. Feel free to share those and your answers if it helps.

Oct 31, 2014 at 9:01 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Warmist doesn't want sceptics commenting on blog. Now why could that be?

The sites they control are all well known for deleting anything which runs contra to the party line (and we know which party). Can't have Inconvenient Truths seeing the light of day elsewhere, particularly in a venue that can't be dismissed as a "denier site".

They are really scared of freedom of speech when that speech doesn't say what they want.

Oct 31, 2014 at 9:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

geoffchambers: "What's the difference between the demand of sceptics to be heard in the media and the demand of Blacks in the American South for the end of segregation? What's the difference between Raff's reply and the observation that, by demanding the right to sit in the front of the bus, blacks would only make things worse for themselves?"

[snip -venting]

The United States Declaration of Independence starts:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,..."

The Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776, contains the wording:

"all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights..."

The Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, says:

"Article I. All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights;"

The apartheid system of the southern states violated the founding principles of the United States. It was offensive to all right thinking people.

Your "demand of sceptics to be heard in the media" is baseless. It has the same strength as a demand by chiropractors, homeopaths, natural cure enthusiasts or alien abductees to be heard: none. If you want to be heard, do some original research and publish - if what you publish has any worth, you will be heard.

Nov 1, 2014 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

I did post a couple of times - I don't remember which Conversation it was UK, or Aus or US. The comments were not deleted. It *was* encouraging.

Nov 2, 2014 at 10:04 AM | Registered Commentershub

I have posted a few times. The only one that responded was Richard P. Allan. In fact, we exchanged pleasant emails. I will let you make up your own minds if his answers were satisfactory.
My current one is on a Pancost/Lewandowsky post on uncertainty. No response from the man himself of course, but am having a great time nevertheless.
The reason I engage is not necessarily to get a response from the authors, but to learn through engagement.
From Richard Allan's article I learnt how to calculate how long it take for 4 Hiroshima bombs a second of heat would take to warm the oceans by a whole degree centigrade - answer is about 600 years.
From an article on Sea level rise in Florida I learnt more about the IPCC's sea level rise projections and how a climate "experts" exaggerated <del>opinions</del> forecasts may be getting Miami-Dade to enact expensive and unnecessary policies.

Nov 2, 2014 at 8:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

The Conversation's 'Stark IPCC climate report shows the time for talking is over' and 'Why climate ‘uncertainty’ is no excuse for doing nothing' threads are still going strong with some lively, polite and interesting discussion - and, so far as I can see, no moderation or other problems. All very encouraging - and no sign (NW) that they 'don't want sceptics commenting' or that they're 'really scared of freedom of speech'. BTW, I agree with Kevin about learning through engagement.

I agree with Geoff: Everyone to the front of the bus.

Nov 2, 2014 at 9:54 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Kevin Marshall:

The reason I engage is not necessarily to get a response from the authors, but to learn through engagement.

That's very much my experience on earlier fora I took part in like Bryan Appleyard's blog. Thanks for articulating.

Nov 2, 2014 at 10:05 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Nov 2, 2014 at 9:54 PM | Registered Commenter Robin Guenier

No moderation is a good sign. But they seem to have sent in a designated "dismisser" - aka Canberra's Felix MacNeil who may (or may not) be the twitterati's Felix MacNeil

YMMV, but I have not been able to ascertain any "scientific" (or other relevant) credentials for MacNeil. IOW, in my view, he's nothing but a dutiful little foot-soldier (and/or reasonable facsimile thereof) doing his very best to discredit those whose views do not accord with those of the oh-so-dedicated climateers.

Nov 3, 2014 at 9:04 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Funny how people like Geoff Chambers are keen on free commenting but don't apply the same logic to their own website. After what I though was a nice conversation with Geoff he has stopped allowing my comments. This comment, http://snag.gy/7oshQ.jpg went into moderation and has now disappeared: http://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/the-conversation/#comment-9754.

Here's what I replied to:

If an editor or webmaster is bombarded with letters from Jehovah’s Witnesses or Moonies of course he has the right to bin them. The readers of BishopHill I was encouraging to write in are not like that.

and
...The Conversation will censor you if you refer to the world’s most popular scientific website. Isn’t that absurd?

My reply read

Geoff, why do you consider Jehovah’s Witnesses and Moonies not deserving of the same treatment as contributors to BH? When you say BH readers "are not like that" what are they not like? As an atheist I have no love of religion, but you seem very inconsistent there. Do you know for sure that these religions don't also have a "wide range of interesting views on the subjects discussed at the Conversation"?
I'm not saying you should not be heard, but that sites have legitimate concerns for what (including how much of any particular point of view) is published under their name and a consequent right to apply editorial decisions, taxpayer funded or not.

Your description of WUWT as "world’s most popular scientific website" appears wildly inaccurate. Where did you find it? At http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/science-websites you can see a list of science websites that have vastly more traffic that Watts. Go to https://www.quantcast.com/wattsupwiththat.com and add in a comparison of any of the science websites listed on the previous link and Watts is but a fraction. These metrics are of course questionable, but WUWT as the most popular? - it just can't be right.

I've seen people at BH linking to WUWT as if they think it means something to anyone outside the sceptic "community". It doesn't and it never will unless Watts stops publishing articles that are laughed at by people who have the expertise to dissect what he and his collaborators write. Go to Hot Whopper at http://blog.hotwhopper.com/ if you haven't seen the amusement that Watts generates.

Whats Up With That, eh?

Nov 3, 2014 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Oops, I was hasty, it is now up.

Nov 3, 2014 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Sorry Raff and Kevin Marshall.
Your comments were trapped in moderation, probably because Wordpress does that to any comment with more than one link, and I didn't see them. I'll reply there when I have time to read them – not just now.
I apologised to Raff after his first comment, since I agreed that my comparisons with segregation, townships etc. were over the top and could be seen as insulting to people who had known real suffering, and I was rather hoping this thread would disappear into oblivion.
The point about making use of the possibility of commenting where we can engage with authors and interested onlookers remains though. I've often argued (unsuccessfully) for some kind of sceptics' organisation, an idea which has been roundly rejected, and so I'm interested to see a kind of symbiotic relation growing naturally on certain threads between sceptics without any kind of prior conspiratorial consultation. It's not an organised frontal attack, as Raff imagines, but more of a natural opportunistic invasion of a favourable ecological niche by an alien species with superior survival traits.
As I've often said about Guardian CiF, I don't think the moderators are under orders from the journalists. The Conversation muddied the waters after the famous “We had to destroy the thread to save it” débâcle, and they have the right to censor you if you quote a source they consider unreliable. But you can make your voice heard.

Nov 3, 2014 at 3:36 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Robin Guenier, I was referring to the quote:

A certain Raff commented:
“If you want to destroy the ability of sceptics to comment at all you are going the right way about it. By encouraging others to pile in on an article … you are provoking exactly what you are complaining about.” [i.e. censorship of sceptics.]

which was the attempt to stop sceptics commenting, precisely because of the perceived risk that the blog in question would allow their comments and they wouldn't be grossly outnumbered by the warmist faithful.

Nov 3, 2014 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

NW, as I said elsewhere, if sceptics were not in a tiny minority, people like Geoff wouldn't have to ring around their friends (so to speak) nagging them to support his one man campaign.

Nov 4, 2014 at 8:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Raff, and if you weren't in a minority of one you wouldn't be here. The logic's the same. I've given you conclusive proof.

Nov 4, 2014 at 8:52 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Raff,

1) why you feel it is necessary to discourage people here from joining discussions at "The Conversation" is more a matter of understanding the psychology of your propaganda than a contribution to rational discussion. Anyone who thinks they have a contribution to make and who wants to do so can disregard your specious imperative to publish scientific articles, etc. Just who do you think you are to dictate how people here choose to expend their time and energies?

2) The fact that you offer such a high endorsement of that scurrilous garbage heap called "Hot Whopper" tells all readers enough about your lack of credibility. "Hot Whopper" is run by a vicious ignorant charlatan and it is one of the last climate sites anyone should waste time on. The HW obsession with yapping at Watts and WUWT just shows how pathetic that site really is.

Nov 4, 2014 at 11:56 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

You speak in riddles Richard. Again, I have no idea what you mean.

Nov 4, 2014 at 11:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

Skiphill, you misunderstand. What a surprise!

I don't want to poor cold water on your passion, but merely to point out that, if you thread-bomb a blog, your ardour will likely be rejected. Sceptics are a minority - if you suddenly appear in numbers, editors know that you are coordinating your activity and will react negatively. Or I would, anyway.

I suggest you publish some papers because that would show that you have better grip on things than playground arguments like "Climate science isn't proper science 'cos it has 'science' in its name. Nah, nah, ne nah nah!".

On HW, the lack of credibility is at WUWT, except with people like you who probably think what they read there is "real science". Your assault on Sou seems unfounded. But maybe you can substantiate it, so please show me where Sou is "vicious", where she has been "ignorant" (as opposed to simply mistaken) and in what way she is a "charlatan". HW "yaps" at WUWT because, as everyone knows - even many here, Watts and co publish such tosh.

Nov 5, 2014 at 12:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterRaff

wasn't it Lewandowski who said that his only conversations with "sceptics" would be through peer-reviewed literature? Is Raff Lew in disguise?

Nov 5, 2014 at 1:05 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Raff (11:57 PM): At last you've encouraged me.

Nov 5, 2014 at 1:10 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

After one response, Simon Buckle has gone very quiet. Though I suppose this is marginally better than the Pancost/Lew article where neither of them commented at all - Prof Hugh Mclachlan says "Is it not rather strange that neither of the authors of this piece seems interested in joining in this discussion?"

[Raff, thank you, "if you thread-bomb a blog, your ardour will likely be rejected", hilarious self-foot-shooting!!]

The latest misleading climate article seems to be this one
https://theconversation.com/how-does-the-ipcc-know-climate-change-is-happening-33704

Nov 5, 2014 at 9:41 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

The article Paul Matthews mentions above is by a professor from UCL, which is a founding partner of the Conversation.
There's also an article at
https://theconversation.com/will-all-the-ethical-social-scientists-please-stand-up-33508
by someone from the University of Western Australia, which is also a founding partner.
Even if the authors don't reply, there's often a response from someone, usually polite and well-informed. For example, Matthew Nisbet at
https://theconversation.com/fox-news-seeds-climate-doubts-but-liberal-media-also-distort-33565
in a comment under his article links to an article of his at
http://climateshiftproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Nisbet_EngagingSciencePolicyControversies_PCSTChapter_Forthcoming.pdf
which looks fairminded.

Nov 5, 2014 at 8:35 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Raff would say...please do not criticise or else you will be excluded....LMAO

Nov 6, 2014 at 12:24 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Raff

I appreciate your input. No I actually do. It illuminates so much.

You say:

I suggest you publish some papers because that would show that you have better grip on things than playground arguments like "Climate science isn't proper science 'cos it has 'science' in its name. Nah, nah, ne nah nah!".

Putting aside the last bit I've heard this argument before: whatever you say about climate science is only relevant or valid if it's peer reviewed.

So you want us to peer review common sense?

Nov 6, 2014 at 8:52 AM | Registered CommenterMicky H Corbett

The peer reviewed argument is nonsense. If I hear a bad note from a violinist I'm not expected to play it properly for him!

Nov 6, 2014 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Schofield