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Discussion > I have no idea what the skeptic cause is

The Sceptic Cause is to acknowledge the usefulness of Cartesian Doubt, to use it and admire it in others, and to encourage and support those part way through the process. And for those who avoid it, the unthinking Recipe Worshippers and worshippers of Authority, treat them with suspicion:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartesian_doubt

René Descartes
“Doubt is the origin of wisdom”
“In order to seek truth, it is necessary once in the course of our life to doubt, as far as possible, of all things.”
https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/36556.Ren_Descartes

Oct 2, 2015 at 9:28 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

TinyCO2:

I think you'll find the newspapers print all sorts of stuff that is considerably worse than those things. By and large they just quote the people who say or do them but every now and then they have a guest who is allowed to spew any amount of lies and filth.

Quoting a person or having a person on during a segment is not the same as running a piece by them. In both of the examples you describe, the organization can give a response to show they do not agree or endorse the position of the person. Quite often, they'll bring a person on just to show they think the viewpoint is absurd. That's fine.

But please don't pretend that is remotely comparable to running a piece by someone without any disclaimer or response to indicate any sort of disagreement.

While the issues are all shades of grey, when it comes to choosing a side there really are only two colours. The consensus or the sceptic side. The sceptic side is everyone who doesn't accept everything on the consensus side. It won't matter how reasonable you are, or if you only hang out at technical sites like Climate Audit, you are on the sceptic side whether you like it or not.

I'm pretty sure that's not how it works.

Oct 2, 2015 at 8:11 PM | Registered CommenterBrandon Shollenberger

Radical Rodent:

Apologies for not giving you the required link. Mind you, as you have already totally dismissed the theory, it would be fair to presume that you knew what it was. It would be interesting to know why you have dismissed it, especially as you seem to insist you have no idea what it is. Please show some consistency.

Are you an idiot? Whether or not I know what something is has nothing to do with whether or not it is okay for you to demand people respond to it without providing a link to it, much less explaining what it is.

You should probably note that others might also have noticed that you have evaded answering any of my questions, and might be wondering, “Why not?” Rhoda sums up the best attitude that we should all follow, with a rather fitting null hypothesis.

Evaded answering what questions? You demanded I address arguments you were too lazy to link to, much less explain. Do you really think people ought to respond to that sort of behavior with anything other than ridicule? If you actually took the time to explain an argument and asked me for a response to your explanation, I'd respond. I'm not going to respond to your laziness though. Anyone can make a vague reference to some idea they heard, or maybe offer a link after being repeatedly pressed on the matter, but that doesn't mean they're actually contributing to a discussion.

Also, please show a bit more scientific rigour to your observations, and stop inserting assumptions where there is no information – where have I denied the “greenhouse effect”? (That is the implication to be drawn from your final paragraph; I am sure you will correct me if that is wrong.) I question it, am sceptical about it, consider that it might possibly be a lazy misnomer, but I have not denied it.

You said a theory which claims to disprove the greenhouse effect has been verified. On Earth, no less. Are you seriously going to say you think the greenhouse effect has been disproven but claim you don't deny the greenhouse effect? Or are you saying a theory which claims to disprove the greenhouse effect has been verified, but the greenhouse effect hasn't been disproved? Seriously, I want to know.

I want to know how you say a theory which claims to disprove the greenhouse effect has been verified yet claim to not deny the greenhouse effect.

Oct 2, 2015 at 8:23 PM | Registered CommenterBrandon Shollenberger

Dunno what you are looking for here, Brandon. I am not the blogs I read. I demand no loyalty from anybody else, I don't require other readers of the same blog to have any particular code or cause. Possibly some or all of the alarmists have a cause. Possibly they really believe they are contributing to saving the world. I don't know why that would cause them to circle the wagons around a person who brings the cause into disrepute. I don't see anybody on the sceptic side doing that. There are folks I disagree with but if the espouse the planetary atmosphere stuff or are dragon-slayers, they are there to be argued out of it, not to be excluded from polite society.

I know the Bish and Anthony may both put up posts which are about things that are controversial. I don't think by that they are espousing or endorsing the post. If sometimes the post is provocative red meat for the more exciteable sceptics, so what? It can't spoil our cause, it can't bring our cause into disrepute because we don't have a cause. I report to no-one as far as my climate opinions are concerned. My schtick is still to ask questions, and my conclusion is that the answers that never come are the most significant of all.

Oct 2, 2015 at 8:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Rhoda

I do not think that there many if any BH regulars who do not respect you and welcome all of your posts, you were always a feisty opponent in any debate and courage was always an issue when deciding whether to disagree with you ^.^
However you stated that we do not have a cause and I am not sure I agree with that anymore. It is true that there is no single factual issue that we all agree upon but you actually include our cause in your post :)
"My schtick is still to ask questions"
Our cause really is to seek the truth and accept nothing until it is proven and you are as strong as anyone in proving that.
I was going to construct an argument for Brandon but having read all his posts, I decided he was not worth the effort and I wonder why he is on BH?

Oct 2, 2015 at 10:23 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Mr Shollenberger: let me repeat the ONLY questions I have asked of you:

Some time back I decided I am not a "skeptic" because I refuse to self-identify with the group.
What group?
…self-identified skeptics don't act like skeptics should. They often don't even follow the standards they say people should follow.
And how should sceptics act? What standards should people follow that these “skeptics” are not following?

Finally:

…where have I denied the “greenhouse effect”?
A question you have answered, but in a rather obtuse way, with the strange idea that considering one theory to have greater credence than another means that you deny the lesser theory. Sorry, but I am sure that having one theory that appears to be more correct than another does NOT mean that you have to discount the other out of hand. I merely observed that the Maxwell theory can be verified, the “greenhouse effect” has not, yet – I certainly have NOT stated that the Maxwell theory disproves the greenhouse effect. Mind you, I do consider that the term “greenhouse effect” is not fully correct, but is being used as a term of reference for those less interested in the subject (i.e. most of humanity). There are probably far better terms that could be used, but I can offer no suggestions.
The so-called theories you claim have been verified have not been verified as they're complete bunk...
Now, if you have no idea what I am talking about, how can you dismiss them with such confidence. Oh, and where are the “demands” that you insist I am inflicting upon you? I had thought that I was merely presenting an alternative argument, in the hope that you might respond with a counter argument for me to consider. All you are doing is responding in high dudgeon to my attitude. Why? Because I am not fully convinced by your side of the argument? Or is it because I am not holding you in appropriate awe? Should I be putting on my dumb blonde voice: “Gee, Brandon, you are so-o smart…”?
Are you an idiot?
Possibly, but for reasons which might be beyond you.

Oct 2, 2015 at 10:31 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Penfold

"Some time back I decided I am not a "skeptic" because I refuse to self-identify with the group"

He is more interested in his image than any issue :)

Oct 2, 2015 at 10:39 PM | Registered CommenterDung

hey radical, "are you an idiot?"

#facepalm

Anyway, while skeptics don't necessarily from a cohesive group, they do have common traits and share some bonds. So it may seem out of order when one of them does something the others are not expecting he would.

Oct 3, 2015 at 1:11 AM | Registered Commentershub

"Brandon Shollenberger" seems quite excitable.

Oct 3, 2015 at 9:04 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Thank you, shub – no need to rub it in.

Who is Brandon Shollenberger, anyway? A brief scan by Google seems to give the impression that he (assuming Brandon is a he, not a she – it is difficult when the given name is not of an obvious gender, as so many assume about me. Oooh, there are photos… he probably is a he, as he does sport a beard – but am I stereotyping too much?) is a subtle troll, if there can be such a person. Comments left by him tend to be long and rambling, heaping criticism on the hapless poster without offering any critique of the argument, or responding with anything constructive.

Martin A: I suspect his excitability is a consequence of him not agreeing with what is being said, but not having a rational argument to counter it. I suspect we are unlikely to hear from him for a short while, as he composes more lengthy posts.

Oct 3, 2015 at 9:47 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

RR - yes.

I have been reading a book "The True Believer. Thoughts on the nature of mass movements" by Eric Hoffer (1951).
There is a lot in there that seems to apply to the church of CAGW and its believers. Also been re-reading some of "Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds" which also is relevant to CAGW (as a mass popular delusion).

If I find the time, I'll try to write something coherent about the asymmetry between CAGW belief and CAGW skepticism.

In brief, it seems to me that CAGW belief is a "cause" to its True Believers, where they got caught up in the way that some people, overnight, "get religion".

Whereas, skeptics seem either to have seen that it was rubbish all along, or, like me, they slowly worked out for themselves that it was far from "settled science" and that CAGW is at best just a theory for which the actual evidence (as opposed to "97% of scientists believe") is essentially nonexistent. That does not constitute a cause - any more than not believing there is a Sky Fairy constitutes a religion.

Bottom line: CAGW skepticism is not "a cause".

Oct 3, 2015 at 10:29 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A - we all get quite excitable from time to time.

Radical Rodent, Brandon is as legit as any of us and more than most. He seems to inhabit the uncomfortable ground in the middle.

Oct 3, 2015 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

I'd agree, Martin A. It's not a cause for me. I'm just making use of the internet to exercise my right to disagree, while I still can. Most other politics doesn't exercise my concern enough for me to bother.

When I first heard about it in the 1970's (back when when ice age scares were still popular), I simply thought it unlikely that models were good enough to make any useful forecasts. Nothing has occurred since to change my mind. Quite the opposite. The real world data is making the Cassandras look increasingly foolish, even as they get more shrill.

I was quite happy to let the catastrophic global warming proponents rabbit on about it to their heart's content, as long as they were ignored by people who matter. Harmless enough doom and gloom, such as is routinely trotted out by those with a mission to 'save the planet'.

But politicians and powerful people attempting to implement sweeping changes to the world economy based on bad predictions and wholly unproven assertions of harm means the matter has become serious and needs to be rebutted.

I comment largely to give further encouragement to the good people such as the Bish who are making a public complaint and pushing back at the pompous and arrogant. Too many of the wrong people have had hold of the microphone for too many years. Self appointed saviours and authorities on what others should think and do. Prof Phil Jones regrets that the internet now makes it easier for people who disagree with him to learn that they are not alone. Well, I guess he would, wouldn't he?

Oct 3, 2015 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

anyone that has been threaten with legal action - by John Cook and his university (as Brandon has) , is pretty certain not to be an agent provocateur!!

Oct 3, 2015 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

The Skeptic cause is to end the cynical use of Green House Theory in the Corruption of Public Life in both Science and Politics.

Science Funding Hype Presige ,Restricting Coal Oil Gas Exploration and use (Recently Redcar Steel Works Closure and 1700 job redundancies outsourced to India),Unsustainable Subsidies for Renewables leading to Fuel Poverty they are the issues.


I

Oct 3, 2015 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

@Barry Woods

I am quite willing to believe that Mr Shollenberger is undecided but I then question his attitude to Danger Mouse's trusty sidekick?

Oct 4, 2015 at 12:33 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Of course I see Brandon on other climate blogs. Obviously he is intelligent and capable. What makes him stand out is his stand against bad behaviour no matter who is doing it. Some of us tend to give our own side an easier time. Not Brandon, he demands high standards from all sides. Possibly here he is expecting some sort of standards from 'us'. But we are not signed up to any standards in terms of a climate cause. If you put your cause in terms of the search for truth here and elsewhere it is well to accept the Brandons of the world as necessary. Yes what he posts is sometimes uncomfortable to me, but I have to wonder whether that is down to my own tribalism, my own human failings. Even if he is a little irascible at times, he is OK by me.

Oct 4, 2015 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Rhoda

Talking about tribalism and your human failings says a great deal about you ^.^ and all of it is good. Self analysis is something that most people never do and are not even aware of and it leads to huge areas of discussion hehe.

Oct 5, 2015 at 3:31 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Radical Rodent:

A question you have answered, but in a rather obtuse way, with the strange idea that considering one theory to have greater credence than another means that you deny the lesser theory. Sorry, but I am sure that having one theory that appears to be more correct than another does NOT mean that you have to discount the other out of hand. I merely observed that the Maxwell theory can be verified, the “greenhouse effect” has not, yet – I certainly have NOT stated that the Maxwell theory disproves the greenhouse effect.

You did not say "the Maxwell theory can be verified." You explicitly said it "is a theory that has been verified on Earth and on Venus." If the theory has been verified on Earth, then it must disprove the greenhouse effect. A theory cannot have been verified and fail to disprove a theory it contradicts.

That you seem to have changed your position from being that this theory has been verified to merely being that the theory can be verified does not change the fact you explicitly said the theory has been verified. If you misspoke earlier, then you are free to say so. What you are not free to do, however, is criticize me for responding to what you said rather than what you might wish you had said.

Now, if you have no idea what I am talking about, how can you dismiss them with such confidence.

Again, I've been aware of the subject to which you've referred all along. As I said before, I've known who this person is for something like five years now. That's only by chance though. Most people participating in a discussion would not have known who this person was or what his theory was. You had no reason to expect me to know who he was or what his theory was. As such, it was wrong of you to expect me to respond to him and his theory when you didn't explain what it was or even provide any sort of link to it.

The simple reality is if you don't explain a theory, nobody has any reason to rebut it as you're putting an unfair burden on them. It would require them put far more effort into the discussion than you're putting into it. If you don't even provide a useful link to the theory, then you're just being obnoxious, as you're not even attempting to contribute to the discussion while demanding they put a significant amount of effort into it. That might as well be trolling.

If someone wants me to explain why I believe the theory you refer to is wrong, I will when they explain why they believe it is right.

Oct 5, 2015 at 6:06 AM | Registered CommenterBrandon Shollenberger

rhoda:

Dunno what you are looking for here, Brandon.

I'm not looking for anything here. I didn't make this topic. I didn't ask for it. I started posting here because the topic referenced me and I had already been personally attacked in the topic. That's all.

I don't know why that would cause them to circle the wagons around a person who brings the cause into disrepute. I don't see anybody on the sceptic side doing that.

Then you haven't looked at the example I gave before, Richard Tol. Tol made significant, undisclosed changes to the latest IPCC report without any external review to heavily promote his own work. Nobody "on the sceptic side" has made a peep. They all know about the story, something I've made sure of, but they just won't talk about it. This site is pretty much the only site on the skeptic side which has even mentioned it.

And as though that's not bad enough, skeptics haven't found a single good story about the IPCC AR5. With AR4, skeptics came up with a number of talking points because of errors and other such things in the report. With AR5, they've come up with nothing. They have a good story they refuse to talk about, and they can't come up with anything to talk about instead.

On top of that, skeptics happily promote Tol and his criticisms of the Cook et al paper even though many of those criticisms have been bad and wrong, allowing Cook et al to paint their critics as fools. The result is Tol is well-received in the skeptic community even though his work is as bad as anything Michael Mann has ever published, and he uses dishonesty to promote it, and skeptics have missed out on a great story they could be pushing.

Dung:

He is more interested in his image than any issue :)

That's funny. I've been told, on more than one occasion, I'm making myself look bad by talking about certain issues.

I am quite willing to believe that Mr Shollenberger is undecided but I then question his attitude to Danger Mouse's trusty sidekick?

You mean the person who believes a theory which disproves the greenhouse effect has been verified and shown valid? The person also believes it reasonable to talk about the theory as though it should be accepted despite him being unwilling to explain the theory or even provide a link to it? Who falsely accused me of attacking him as a person, then refused to even attempt to back up his accusation?

I'm pretty sure that's who you're referring to. Assuming so, the way I see it is simple. Saying a theory which claims the greenhouse effect is wrong has been verified is all sorts of bad. And if you accuse me of attacking you as a person when I haven't, well, maybe I should start.

Oct 5, 2015 at 6:58 AM | Registered CommenterBrandon Shollenberger

I am a sceptic. And I know what my objective is. First of all I am sceptical of the "science" and the "evidence" of global warming. The science because, to me at least, it's self-evidently flaky. Sure CO2 is a greenhouse gas (although I don't read many of them I don't object to people putting forward papers trying to prove otherwise, in the words of Richard Feynman, "Just in case."), but the climate is a chaotic interacting entity and the notion that you could take two elements of such a system and claim that they, exclusively, interact to cause changes in temperature doesn't resonate with me. The "evidence" turns out to be glaciers, sea ice (when diminishing), the Arctic and Antarctic, non-existent droughts and non-existent extreme weather conditions both caused by human induced warming, receding glaciers that have been receding for 200 years or so and pretty much anything that can be attributed to the recent increase in temperature. I think that's flaky too. And I can think that, as others can believe it sound, we look at evidence and draw our own conclusions.

Secondly I don't believe anyone, no matter how smart their computers, no matter how many PhDs they have, can foretell the future. Moreover, when that person, or persons, tells me the future will be uniformly ghastly if I don't change my ways and adopt precautions which they prescribe I smell a rat. It's a well known rat, one that's been used throughout out human history to get people to conform to prescribed behaviours.

Finally what is my objective? It seems a little self-important to have a personal objective, especially when you don't believe you have the slightest influence on what is going on, but if I could say what would make me happy, and what I would see as a sound way of proceeding given we can't tell what's going to happen in the future, then I would be delighted if we took a pragmatic approach and adapted rather than mitigated. Why? Well, adaptation is the least painful way of proceeding when you don't know where your going, and mitigation won't work, it hasn't so far, and it won't into the future because other countries are moving towards the life-style we enjoy here in the industrialised world and their leaders would be mad to stop that progress. And their leaders aren't mad.

Oct 5, 2015 at 8:59 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

"Tol made significant, undisclosed changes to the latest IPCC report without any external review to heavily promote his own work. Nobody "on the sceptic side" has made a peep. They all know about the story, something I've made sure of, but they just won't talk about it."

That's quite a leap, "They all know about the story..." I'm assuming you mean "important" sceptics, not the myriad of nobodies like myself who've heard it mentioned for the first time today?

"Tol made significant, undisclosed changes to the latest IPCC report without any external review to heavily promote his own work." You know this how? Not that he made undisclosed changes (which I am assuming you have evidence for) but what his motivations was? Do you have evidence which will prove your allegation that he was motivated to make the changes in order to heavily promote his own work?

Oct 5, 2015 at 9:08 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Mr Shollenberger: perhaps I have an erroneous idea of science and its nomenclature; if a theory has been verified by others, then it can be verified by anyone who wants to see for themselves. I was not aware that the Maxwell theory was in contradiction to the Greenhouse theory; my understanding was that two theories of a phenomenon – especially one as potentially complex as atmospheric dynamics – do not have to be contradictory; they could even be complementary. However, if one holds better than the other, it is probably closer to reality – but that does not necessarily mean that it is correct, nor does it “prove” the other wrong. One of the good things with the Maxwell theory is that the data is there for anyone to work with, something that the “Greenhouse effect” theory does not seem to have. Another is its simplicity, something else the greenhouse theory does not have. Simple application of Occam’s Razor leans me towards the former – but that does not mean that I am right, and I am quite prepared to be corrected.

As for me not providing a link – yes, that was remiss of me, but surely it would have been a bit less antagonistic to have asked for it, rather than go off on the diatribe you did (while, at the same time, berating the hapless Mr Huffman, who has had no personal part of the conversation, for displaying similar traits to your own)? You might have a different dictionary than I, but the term “obnoxious” would be more accurately placed with reference to your posts against me than to my own errors in omission.

You complain about being personally attacked in this thread, ignoring that you gave the first slap, then berate me for being “obnoxious”. I am sorry, Mr Shollenberger, but I would rather you provided some interesting discussion on the merits or demerits of scepticism rather than picking up on every perceived slight against you, while happily handing out insults to anyone and everyone. If you do want to continue in that mould, never mind; you can be sure that you can insult the English to your heart’s content, but no true English person will ever take offence.

While I am obviously failing to argue my point of view, I would say that Geronimo has managed to encapsulate it, above, far better than I have, to date.

BTW:

Tol made significant, undisclosed changes to the latest IPCC report without any external review…
And your link is… where? Or are you being deliberately obnoxious?

Oct 5, 2015 at 10:51 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

"It would be interesting to know why you have dismissed it, especially as you seem to insist you have no idea what it is."

This has been explained many times. Harry argues that "Venus is closer to the Sun, and gets proportionally more power from it." but this ignores the influence of albedo. Venus is illuminated by more energy, but considerably more is reflected straight back into space by the total cloud coverage, and so Venus actually absorbs *less* energy than the Earth.

By carefully including some factors and neglecting others, you can construct a model that sorta fits, but it doesn't answer the fundamental physics point: the power of black body radiation from the surface of Venus is *far* in excess of the amount Venus absorbs. If the atmosphere was transparent to infrared and all that radiation escaped to space, Venus would cool (or you would require some massive violation of the first law of thermodynamics, or something). It's not possible for the surface of Venus to be the temperature it is unless the atmosphere is IR-opaque. End of story.

We had the sky-dragon debates endlessly several years ago, until everybody else got fed up with them. They derailed every thread on every other topic with their obsession. Even some of the most patient and principled blog-owning proponents of free debate ended up banning them, because it meant that every single comments thread on every topic degenerated into the same fruitless argument and started driving sensible people away. That's why they get ignored.

If they've got something new, and you want to give a succinct summary of the essential physics of the argument addressing all the previous objections, and you keep it relevant to the topic of the post where there is one, then by all means. But until then, don't bother asking us why nobody replies to their comments, because they wore out their welcome years ago through their behaviour.

Scepticism requires that you be sceptical of arguments with conclusions you *like* as well.

Oct 5, 2015 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba

Radical Rodent says:

Mr Shollenberger: perhaps I have an erroneous idea of science and its nomenclature; if a theory has been verified by others, then it can be verified by anyone who wants to see for themselves. I was not aware that the Maxwell theory was in contradiction to the Greenhouse theory; my understanding was that two theories of a phenomenon – especially one as potentially complex as atmospheric dynamics – do not have to be contradictory; they could even be complementary. However, if one holds better than the other, it is probably closer to reality – but that does not necessarily mean that it is correct, nor does it “prove” the other wrong. One of the good things with the Maxwell theory is that the data is there for anyone to work with, something that the “Greenhouse effect” theory does not seem to have. Another is its simplicity, something else the greenhouse theory does not have. Simple application of Occam’s Razor leans me towards the former – but that does not mean that I am right, and I am quite prepared to be corrected.

I'm done with this exchange. A person who claims to believe two theories don't have to contradict one another while providing a link whose second paragraph explicitly states:

Surprisingly to most, there is no greenhouse effect at all, and you can prove it for yourself.

Is just beyond hope. Which goes back to the sentiment I've expressed from the beginning. Anyone who seriously claims the greenhouse effect does not exist is a fool. It's fine to question the greenhouse effect because you don't know, but if you look into the issue, you must find the greenhouse effect is real. Any serious examination of the issue will quickly show the greenhouse effect is sound science.

And that's all I have to say on the subject. I'm not going to waste my time or anyone else's on the subject any further.

Oct 5, 2015 at 1:53 PM | Registered CommenterBrandon Shollenberger