Alice Is At It Again

The release of the IPCC Pixie-Dust-in-the-Eyes-for-Important-Persons Report has led to a lot of discussion as to What Should be Done in the blogosphere.

One of the most interesting discussions I’ve come across (and no doubt there are others. Please let me know if you find any) was Mike Jackson’s at

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/discussion/post/2206359

(which has just been visited by Richard Betts of the Met, and may therefore get even more interesting. Or not.)

My not very original idea was to try to re-engage a dialogue  on the left wing media  blogs which would be my natural habitat, if it weren’t for the fact that  all the people of my age, class, race, geographic origin, and social class seem to have turned into green bonkers climate catastrophists.

So I left a comment or two at the Conversation (see the previous post) the New Statesman, and at Alice Bell’s post at New Left Project.

Me and Alice go back a long way. I was rather rude about her delivery at a Guardian/Greenpeace debate which I transcribed at

https://sites.google.com/site/mytranscriptbox/home/20121002_bf

and commented on here

https://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/greenpeace-suffers-serious-graun-injury/

I realised my original comment could be interpreted in a sexist fashion so I changed it. My rude comparisons of Alice’s delivery with the works of James Joyce and Virginia Woolf stand.

When Alice turned up as the environmental editor at New Left Project, tnis led to some interesting discussions, for instance this one at:

http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/blog_comments/climate_change_and_the_left

Then there was an unfortunate incident when Alice, who wanted to allow our sceptic comments, was overruled by editor Dave (“call me David”) Spart, and the environment page went dormant for a few months.

Yesterday I found that Alice was At It Again, with a long article on the history of Climate Science

http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/a_brief_history_of_climate_change

So I left a comment, which duly appeared. Alice’s prompt reply included a long quote from Professor Hoskins about climate sensitivity, and Alice’s comment:

“Please stop telling me what to write Geoff. It may well frustrate you a lot that NLP doesn’t take a similar to line to your friends at Bishop Hill, but this is our space and those are our choices.”

There followed comments by Dr Reiner Grundmann and Barry Woods. Barry quoted Steve McIntyre, which led Alice to reply:

“People reading this are welcome to follow his link to Climate Audit, but probably worth noting that Steve Mcintyre is a climate sceptic. If you know the science and politics of all of this well enough to weave through it yourself, you may well find it interesting. But if you are still learning about the topic, that’s probably not the best place to start.”

Barry replied: “Steve McIntyre is also on the record as saying, that if he were a politician he would have been following the IPCC advice..”

to which Alice replied: “I don’t know if McIntyre is wrong or not. I don’t pretend to be an expert on it. Yet again I find people in comment threads of climate pieces trying to get me to say one thing or another, and I find it a bit objectionable.”

Now, when people criticise what you say, I suppose that can always be interpreted as meaning that they want you to say something else. Maybe they want to tie you up and whip you until you admit you’re wrong and promise to recant. Maybe.

I wrote a conciliatory comment, then another which I intended to be a kind of general proposal for an amnesty. On Alice’s blog it appears as an unreadable slab of prose, but here it is, as I wrote it:

Alice

From your replies to Barry Woods and me, I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding as to why we sceptics come here. I can’t speak for Barry or anyone else, beyond saying that I don’t think any of us are under the illusion that we are going to convert NLP fans into BishopHill fans with a few comments. Nor would I want to.

I’ve been thinking about what it is that separates us and makes dialogue so difficult. It seems to me that there is a fundamental difference between the thinking of Greens/”warmists” and sceptics which has nothing to do with the traditional left/right cleavages. I’ll try  to explain without being offensive. 

What strikes us sceptics most is the passive acceptance on the warmist side of the authority of scientists, or rather of “The Science” – a passivity which sits oddly with the traditional libertarianism of the green movement and a major part of the left (at least in Britain). Sceptics, on the other hand, are only too willing to pick quarrels across the front lines, between “official” and contrarian scientists, between conservatives and “liberals”, between private sector entrepreneurs and ivory tower academics, between “old white males” and tree-hugging hippies, etc.

 Most of these quarrels are banal and unenlightening. Most of my “colleagues” at BishopHill are happy with a vision of the world in which the BBC and the Guardian are nests of Trotskyists, warmists are watermelons, etc. I’m not.

In my opinion, nothing could be worse for the political decision-making process, and for our society in general, than for the debate to degenerate into a sterile left/right ,treehugger/Big Oil slanging match. To avoid that, it is important that contact be made across the front lines. If academic bloggers can’t facilitate that, who can? There needs to be a profound reflection on the history and sociology of this socio-political cleavage. 

I note the presence of Reiner Grundmann on this thread, who once quoted a principle of sociological analysis (I think in his paper on Climategate, but I’m not sure) to the effect that any analysis of beliefs and attitudes must start from a postion of neutrality. It is not for warmists to analyse the psychology of deniers or vice versa. Perhaps his presence here could facilitate the kind of contact I’m talking about.

I repeat: I’m not particularly interested in the science of global warming. I wouldn’t lose a moment’s sleep if I learned tomorrow that  Hansen was right and Lindzen was wrong, and I’d join in to man the lifeboats like anyone else. In the meantime, I plead for a discussion, debate, or at least a space outside UKIP and the Daily Mail where where we can air our differences.

Here is Alice’s reply:

You may not intend to, but not for the first time, I felt you were pushing me to say a particular thing and I didn’t like it. You may not intend to come over as concern trolling, but you do.

You may think “such his views are of interest to anyone involved in the history or sociology of science” and pompously say so (and it does sound pompous, ever so pompous, even if you don’t mean it to) but I will decide where to place my own energies thank you. There are many, many things that interest me, and many more that maybe should. But time is limited.

And I apologise if I appear over-sensitive to your comments, but having not published several comments from you in the past due to sexism and racism (as well as being part of what can only be described as cyber bullying of the most childish kind) I think I have reasons to be more than sceptical of your desire to find “common ground”.

As to my assumptions over why you and Barry and others come here, I don’t assume it’s for the same reason, and am sure I’m wrong about it. What I can say is that in reading Bishop Hill and a few other places to try to understand why you do try to engage here, I find a lot of really quite crazy make believe and willful assumptions made about me, the Guardian and NLP. So you might want to think about that too, before pointing fingers.

On the point about academic bloggers and your ref to Prof Grundmann discussing neutrality (he maybe meant the tenants of the strong programme?) you maybe misunderstand my role here, which isn’t as an academic. It’s hard to divide work and non-work on this area, but this is something I do in my spare time. I don’t see it as academic work. It’s sometimes informed by it, but it’s not it.

Alice

I wrote back:

AliceYou accuse me of sexism, racism and “cyber bullying of the most childish kind”. Could you explain? 

You say: “you maybe misunderstand my role here, which isn’t as an academic.” 

Does that mean you are not to be held to the normal academic standards of rational debate? Or what?

and Alice replied:

Geoff,

question 2) I don’t think there is such thing as “normal academic standards of rational debate” nor should there be as such admonishments are usually used to silence people.

question 1) the main strand of bullying including several fanciful and offensive comments from you has been taken down by its instigator, but there are traces if people want to find them. I’m not linking. As for the racism and sexism, I nearly put “light” but I don’t feel the word light is appropriate for sexism and racism. You may not have meant them as such, but I have felt uncomfortable about publishing several of your comments before, not just because I felt personally offended but because I worried it would offend others. I knew that was an inflammatory thing to say, but equally I don’t see why I should keep these sorts of things quiet just because it’s not polite. You should think more about how your language might offend.

Can we end this childish debate here? It’s very off topic.

Alice

Beat me! Beat me again! I love it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqrzi-3IBl4

 

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5 Responses to Alice Is At It Again

  1. Will Bolton says:

    I think you need to give up on Alice Bell. She reminds me of a character from a Roald Dahl book that I read as a child. Can’t quite put my finger on it. She’s very self-righteous and reacts badly to criticism.

    Her problem with you is that you are significantly more intelligent than her and your criticisms hit the target more often than not. She can’t handle that — simply cannot compute it — and thus either moderates you or smears you. She has no insight into how dishonest and self-serving her behaviour is.

  2. alexjc38 says:

    Alice has used the word “childish” twice, but her own responses seem to be a little reminiscent of the playground; decoded, I think her message could be interpreted as “I’m not talking to you because you’re part of the nasty group – go away!”

  3. It is strange, as has been noted before, that an academic seems unable to cope with the concept of having a discussion with people who don’t share her views.

    I have put in a comment (about how historically, warming was thought to be a good thing until quite recently).

  4. Jules Maigret says:

    you stated :
    “Alice’s prompt reply included a long quote from Professor Hoskins about climate sensitivity”

    Would that be Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, CBE, FRS is the Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College and Professor of Meteorology at the University of Reading. His research expertise is in weather and climate processes. He is a member of the scientific academies of the UK, USA, and China.

    and prominent Member of the UK Climate Change Committee, and associate of Professor Jim Skea, et al ?

    [www.theccc.org.uk/about/structure-and-governance/committee-on-climate-change]

  5. Skiphil says:

    I have not followed nearly all the exchanges on NLP etc. but I find it hilarious and also pathetic that Alice Bell is so overwrought about comments which (so far as I can tell) simply express contrary views for consideration, with some appeals to evidence and reasoning. However much she may disagree with BH folks (of various political orientations), Alice and her NLP friends are the ones who appear to be severely deficient in reasoned inquiry and argument, frightened at the mere idea of dialogue and discussion. Alice is the one who strikes me as childish too much of the time….. oh, puerile, even. Open your minds and think, Alice and friends! Oh, whoops, I suppose that must be another sexist appeal to rationality.

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