Amelia Sharman: the Sociologist and the Horseleech

[Updated and slightly expanded 17-12-13 to clarify my objections to Sharman’s use of words]

Paul Matthews, In a comment to my last article, mentions “… a ‘new wave’ of sociologists who are starting to study the subject with objectivity and adopting a more scientific evidence-based approach.”

and cites as an example “Amelia Sharman, whose ‘Mapping the climate sceptical blogosphere’ is reasonably systematic and accurate, once you get past her kow-towing to the usual suspects in the introduction.”

I’ve just read Amelia Sharman’s paper. Her main conclusions are that:

– WUWT, Climate Audit, and JoNova are the most important climate sceptic blogs;

– they’re mainly interested in science, but also in policy and other things.

Well done Amelia. Only about a hundred thousand people knew that, namely WUWT’s regular readers (who are also readers of JoNova and Clmate Audit of course) but also possibly including one or two at the Grantham Institute.

Thanks to this paper, it will now be possible to say things like “WattsUpWithThat is a really popular blog, with lots of science in it (Sharman 2013)” in a scientific paper. Which would have been quite impossible, of course, before Amelia conducted her degree centrality and node betweenness tests from social network analysis”.

Though I agree with Amelia’s main findings, I’m puzzled by how she managed to arrive at them, given that almost everything she says leading up to her conclusions is confused, or just plain wrong.

She seems unaware of the meaning of the ordinary English word “knowledge”, which she uses as a synonym for “data” or “evidence” or “information” or even “opinion”.

Paul Matthews says, in a second comment:

“With the Sharman paper, and academic papers generally, it’s best to wizz past the introduction and get to the content. The purpose of the intro is to cite and flatter the people who are likely to review the paper. If she had started with ‘Cook et al is a pile of crap and so is Doran and Zimmerman’ or words to that effect, the paper would have had no chance of being published.”

which is an interesting comment on peer-reviewed science. I’m all for politeness and civilised discourse. But lawyers and MPs (who rate among the least trusted professions) though they address their adversaries as “my honourable friend”, are not obliged to pretend that they agree with them. If justice was administered after the manner of peer-reviewed science, defence lawyers would begin their summing up: “Though my client is obviously guilty (Cocklecarrot 2013)…”

Which is pretty much Amelia Sharman’s method. She starts off:

“Evidence supporting the reality of climate change and its anthropogenic cause is overwhelming in the peer-reviewed literature (J. Cook et al. 2013; Doran and Zimmerman 2009)”.

No it’s not. Cook and Doran have nothing to say about evidence for anthropogenic climate change. All they do is tot up, either  climate scientists’ opinions (Doran), or their own interpretations of what they think their opinions might be (Cook). There is no overwhelming evidence in the peer-reviewed literature, and neither Cook nor Doran claim that there is.

Her second sentence is:

“However, outside the paradigm of mainstream climate science and particularly in online environments, climate change knowledge is actively disputed (Corner et al. 2012; Hobson and Niemeyer 2012; Jacques et al. 2008; Poortinga et al. 2011; Washington and Cook 2011)”.

After the misuse of the word “evidence” for “opinion”, we have “knowledge” being used as a synonym for “opinion” or possibly “data” or  “theory” or “fiddling the figures” or who know what. Amelia ignores, or is possibly unaware of, the fact that knowledge is, by definition, true, so anyone disputing it is wrong. She starts her scientific paper by declaring that climate sceptic blogs are wrong because they dispute the truth. No amount of post-normal flattery thereafter can alter that fact.

But she gives five citations to support the statement that “climate change knowledge is actively disputed”. If you accept her loose use of the word “knowledge”, then the statement is such an obvious truism that it’s somewhat surprising to find that none of her five citations actually support her assertion.

Corner et al. 2012 establishes that if you show 190 Welsh teenagers phony articles from the Irish Times and the Scotsman which you’ve written yourself, they tend to believe them – though Corner et al are unable to explain why. (Their most interesting finding was that supporters of the Green Party were the most likely to be climate sceptics – but that’s not relevant to this story).

From the Hobson and Niemeyer; 2012 abstract:

“…this paper discusses research into public reactions to projected climate change in the Australian Capital Region. Using Q Methodology and qualitative data, it outlines five discourses of scepticism and explores the impact regional-scale climate scenarios and a deliberative forum had on these discourses. Results show that both forms of intervention stimulate “discourse migration” amongst research participants. However, migrations are rarely sustained, and sceptical positions are infrequently dispelled outright, suggesting the relationship between climate scepticism, broader beliefs, and the methods used to inform and debate about climate change, are pivotal to comprehending and addressing this issue”. [emphasis mine]

I think it’s fairly clear from the above that the purpose of Hobson and Niemayer was to find ways to stop sceptics from being sceptical, at least in the Australian Capital Region. But their abstract contains nothing to support Sharman’s assertion that “climate change knowledge is actively disputed”

The main finding of Jacques et al. 2008 is that:

”over 92 per cent of environmentally sceptical books published between 1972 and 2005 are linked to conservative think tanks … We conclude that scepticism is a tactic of an elite-driven counter-movement designed to combat environmentalism..”

An “elite-driven counter-movement,” eh? As a conspiracy theory, it has potential. As support for Sharman’s thesis, not.

The Abstract for Poortinga et al. 2011 starts:

“This study presents a detailed investigation of public scepticism about anthropogenic climate change in Britain… The study found that climate scepticism is currently not widespread in Britain.”

So no support there for the assertion that “climate change knowledge is actively disputed”. 

Washington and Cook 2011 is a book “Heads in the Sand” published in 2011.

The Amazon article says:

“Humans have always used denial. When we are afraid, guilty, confused, or when something interferes with our self-image, we tend to deny it. Yet denial is a delusion. When it impacts on the health of oneself, or society, or the world it becomes a pathology. Climate change denial is such a case. Paradoxically, as the climate science has become more certain, denial about the issue has increased. The paradox lies in the denial. There is a denial industry funded by the fossil fuel companies that literally denies the science, and seeks to confuse the public. There is denial within governments, where spin-doctors use ‘weasel words’ to pretend they are taking action. However there is also denial within most of us, the citizenry. We let denial prosper and we resist the science. 

“Climate Change Denial explains the social science behind denial. It contains a detailed examination of the principal climate change denial arguments, from attacks on the integrity of scientists, to impossible expectations of proof and certainty to the cherry picking of data. Climate change can be solved – but only when we cease to deny that it exists. This book shows how we can break through denial, accept reality, and thus solve the climate crisis. It will engage scientists, university students, climate change activists as well as the general public seeking to roll back denial and act.”

Nothing there about “climate change knowledge” being “actively disputed”. Lots about “denial” though. Cook is an Evangelical Christian, and it shows. But Cook is also a proven liar. And he’s cited twice in the first two sentences of this paper.

Sharman’s first sentence is clearly false, and not supported by the two citations. Her second sentence is certainly true, but not supported by the five citations.

Scientists, along with doctors, are among the rare professionals who are trusted by around 80% of the public. But the public is wrong. Journalists and politicians (who are trusted by around 15% of the population) are infinitely more trustworthy. If thay tell an outright lie, they get jumped on by their colleagues. If a scientist tells a lie, he gets cited by the people who disagree with him, just in case he is called upon to peer-review their article. Conservatives do not feel obliged to cite socialists to defend their positions. Dominicans do not  call on the support of Franciscans in every theological dispute.

And so to priests. If an Evangelical Preacher tells you that The horseleech hath two daughters, crying, Give, give.” and cites Proverbs, you expect to find the citation in Proverbs, and not in Deuteronomy.

Evangelical Preachers are a surer source of information than social scientists – at least those working for the Grantham Institute.

[The citation continues: “There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough: The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.”]

And, yes, it’s in Proverbs.

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86 Responses to Amelia Sharman: the Sociologist and the Horseleech

  1. alexjc38 says:

    One of the things that struck me reading the “Mapping” paper was what seemed like a genuine expression of surprise when Sharman notes that blogs such as WUWT and Jo Nova are focussed on the “scientific element of the climate debate”, rather than on ideology or anything else.

    It reminds me a little of Dan Kahan’s recent surprise at discovering that people who identified with libertarianism and the Tea Party showed a slightly higher than normal affinity for understanding scientific concepts. Or Adam Corner’s research which showed that “science-literate individuals are not necessarily the most concerned about global warming”.

    This epiphany could perhaps be summarised as: “People we had always assumed to be ignoramuses actually aren’t!”

    It highlights some danger ahead for the social scientists, I think. The more they expose themselves to blogs such as WUWT, Climate Audit or this one, in their quest for understanding, the higher the likelihood that they will happen upon an article that skilfully picks apart studies such as Cook’s or Doran and Zimmerman, and who knows where that might lead?

  2. I’m quite old and therefore saying all this boils down to the parlous state of education (in the west at least) is bound to sound like miserable old fartism.

    I do wonder, though, how much of it is due to us abandoning the idea of received wisdom – in favour of unrestrained, free-thinking creativity. When I can, I like to read the self-published profiles & bios of the young academics who push this post-modern approximation of science. Usually they combine massive self-confidence and assurance with almost negligible evidence of achievement in their chosen field.

    Postgrad students seem to be struggling through their thesis one minute and re-arranging the planet a couple of weeks later.

    I had a slightly alarming experience this week when`I popped into the Andthentheresphysics (formerly Wottsupwiththat) blog, where they were discussing Tamsin Edwards recent post on science communication. Barry was already joining in with his slightly less provocative style.

    It’s run by a guy who claims to be a physicist and includes among its regulars a few genuinely practicing climate scientists.

    They prattle on quite happily, about the imminent demise of life as we know it and the misguided notions of we denialist morons – but when one of us pops in and drops a pebble in the pond things tend to become quite alarming.

    For reminding one of the regulars of some of his previous statements, suggesting that we had seen a “pause” in surface temperature and, mildly objecting to their use of their favourite current “fake sceptic” epithet” – I was variously accused of being “unpleasant”, conducting a “hate-a-thon” and being possibly connected to the Scientology movement (the latter because I used the expression “fair game” – which is apparently a clear sign of Scientological tendencies. Who knew?)

    All of this from people who seemed otherwise reasonably educated & rational.

    I think it’s way past time we sceptics had our own Prof Lewandowsky. Perhaps an improved turbo model with an IQ in triple figures and a moral compass.

    When you’ve got half an hour, Geoff – have a read and see what you think.

    Maybe it’s just me.

    http://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/communicating-uncertainty/#comments

  3. Foxgoose:
    “Postgrad students seem to be struggling through their thesis one minute and re-arranging the planet a couple of weeks later.”
    …or in the case of John Cook, re-arranging the planet one moment, appointed associate professor the next, and only then studying for their PhD.
    Agreed. The abandoning of the idea of received wisdom corresponded roughly with the arrival of the internet, and the belief that anything written before about 1990 and not yet put on-line doesn’t exist.
    Who are theses strange people you’ve been frequenting?

  4. Well, some of them are apparently publicly employed climate scientists.

    One of them has a personal blog where he reveals a lot about “life, the universe and everything” – and his plans for re-arranging it all.

    http://dumbscientist.com/about

    I think you should assume the mantle of the thinking man’s Prof Lew and fill yer boots.

  5. j ferguson says:

    Do shake them out first.

  6. j ferguson says:

    oops, ignore earlier.

  7. Foxgoose
    Well, on your recommendation I’ve spent a half an hour on the site run by the anonymous person formerly known as Wott who’s blocked you and everyone else he doesnt agree with from his Twitter, and who declares in his latest post that Paul Matthews is
    “the most unpleasant, non-anonymous person I’ve encountered online”.
    That’s a pretty strange thing to say, don’t you think?
    I’ve only once been on a blog like that. It was James Annan’s. The same kind of anonymous academics with a superiority complex and a kind of shark-like biting wit and a real hatred of us poor things. They’ve referred to this site so perhaps they’ll continue whatever it is they think they’re doing. They sound like the sort of people who would like to meet us in a dark alley and don’t mind saying so.
    It’s the season of goodwill so I think I’ll leave it at that. Merry Chrstmas everyone.

    And Paul Matthews, if you’re reading this, careful crossing the road.

  8. Rachel says:

    Why does saying someone is unpleasant imply that you want to meet them in a dark alley? I’ve read all the comments that Paul Matthews has written on the andthentheresphysics blog and they were unpleasant and this is describing them politely.

  9. Rachel
    Thanks for commenting. I can’t comment on Paul’s comments at
    http://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com
    because I haven’t read them. I’ll come back when I have.
    The “Dark Alley” reference is to something Ben Santer said about Steve McIntyre in the “Climategate” emails which I’m sure you’re familiar with.
    The point I wanted to make – very briefly, and which I’ll come back to next year when I’ve had time to read more at your site – is that the most savage attacks on scepticism in my experience occur on blogs run by scientists, and not those run by campaigning journalists or deep green activists.
    This is surprising, and counter-intuitive, if true. The “standard model” of the spread of global warming alarmism is of rational, objective scientists imparting information to the media, where it is simplified and exaggerated by journalists and cherry-picked by green activists before being delivered to naive or corrupt politicians.
    It’s only a model, so bound to be wrong, in Tamsin Edwards’ felicitous formulation.
    It may be worse than just inaccurate, though. It may be that the rot starts at the head. Without knowing who people like andthentheresphysics and dumbscientist are, it’s difficult to tell.
    And who’s Anders, please?

  10. “Anders” is andthentheresphysics.

    (Formerly wottsupwithat – set up to destroy the dastardly Watts but self-destructed in the attempt)

    Rachel is his loyal guard dog lady who chops bits out of denier comments in case they upset the inmates.

    Ander’s speciality is snide provocation & insult on Twitter – followed by retreat to introspection, self-pity & victimhood on his blog.

    He has recently added Barry Woods to Paul Matthews & myself on his list of “unpleasant” people. Which must dismay Barry – since he is possibly the interwebs’ greatest exponent of “seeing the other chap’s point of view”.

    IMHO the blog reads like a therapy clinic for borderline insane cult members. I’m sure you’ll find fertile soil there for your psychology studies.

  11. Rachel says:

    I may be a lot of things, Foxgoose, but someone’s guard dog I am not.

  12. Thanks Foxgoose
    I’d worked out Wott was Anders by deduction but thought foolishly it might be his real name. I saw him as a rather unsmiling Scandinavian type, like Peter Cook’s alter ego Sven, the fish-obsessed Norwegian.
    Anders is certainly introspective, and he does say he wants to encourage dialogue with sceptics. I think there might be similarities between him and me, which is a bit disturbing, because he can be rather irritating, can’t he? But I saw him thank Barry once, which seemed to annoy some of his fans.
    I’ve only seen one thread with your comments, and one comment from Paul Matthews, and I’m back to October so far. Can you (or Rachel) point me to more? I can’t imagine Paul or Barry being rude.
    I don’t do twitter. I can never understand who’s talking to who or why. Some examples would be nice.
    I don’t do psychological studies, at least not Lew-like ones. Who could?

  13. Diogenes says:

    I find it intriguing that BBD shows up as one of the attack dogs on “Andthenthere’sphysics” – a gang of people with names like Marco, Verytallguy, OPatrick who seem to exist to throw abuse at people who do not believe the IPCC religion. Add in Steve Bloom etc and you have the same gang that flamed you on Annan’s generally rather smug, self-satisfied site.

  14. “Without knowing who people like andthentheresphysics and dumbscientist are, it’s difficult to tell.”

    If only someone had posted a link directly to my about page, where a real skeptic might notice the first link.

    “WattsUpWithThat is a really popular blog, with lots of science in it (Sharman 2013) … Cook is also a proven liar … I was variously accused of being “unpleasant”, conducting a “hate-a-thon” … a real hatred of us poor things. … They sound like the sort of people who would like to meet us in a dark alley and don’t mind saying so. … the most savage attacks on scepticism in my experience occur on blogs run by scientists … Rachel is his loyal guard dog lady … the blog reads like a therapy clinic for borderline insane cult members. …”

    Would y’all also describe this WUWT thread as savage attacks by lying borderline insane cult member guard dogs? If not… would a harsher description be required, or is it acceptable as long as the accusations of corrupt lying anti-American mass murder are aimed at a scientist?

    I’m happy to see that it’s the season of goodwill here. Merry Christmas.

  15. Geoff

    Here’s a sample of what we edgy young technocrats get up to on Twitter, culminating in Anders putting me in his little black book forever:-

    It’s an acquired taste.

    When you say you can’t imagine Paul or Barry being rude – am I being hypersensitive in suspecting my exclusion from the list is deliberate?

    I’ll have to seriously consider cutting you out of my life now.

    I think you’re too modest about your skill in psychology. As far as I know you’re the only member of the Big Oil Team with an ology of any kind – so I think you should get to work on Anders et al and find out what makes them tick (before they stop ticking and explode).

  16. Diogenes
    I didn’t recognise all those people, though I did recognise Willard, I think. That was a very uncomfortable thread for me.
    All those well-meaning warmists who recommend that scientists should get out more and talk to interested laypeople have no idea what they’re unleashing on an unsuspecting world. it’s like recommending care in the community for King Kong.

    Dumbscientist
    Apologies for having overlooked the very first sentence of your “About” page. I was so struck by the description of your affliction that I failed to notice the person afflicted. Unpardonable.
    The last people to run quotes by Foxgoose and me into other quotes, giving the impression of us saying things we hadn’t, were Lewandowsky and Cook in a peer reviewed paper that had to be withdrawn twice following threats of legal action.
    Of course, they did it by sheer incompetence, while you’re doing it deliberately for effect. And very effective it is, I must admit.

  17. Hmm.. threats of legal action, accusations of deliberately giving false impressions. This interaction seems unpleasant for you, which is why I asked if you think this WUWT thread was more or less unpleasant for me. No response?

  18. Geoff!

    My last comment’s stuck in moderation.

    Have you done an Anders & cast me into the outer darkness?

  19. Dumbsci

    You’re a complex fellow.

    On your website you witter about the importance of open minded debate – but when someone tries to debate with you you try to set conditions for every response.

    You then sprinkle abuse left right & centre and screech in agony at any resultant criticism.

    In your little collage of imagined insult above you include part of my comment -“…..I was variously accused of being “unpleasant”, conducting a “hate-a-thon”…….”.

    Apart from being true – I can’t see how anyone could construe this complaint by me as being some sort of attack – unless they were in a fairly advanced state of paranoia.

    I’m old enough to have had teenage children – enabling me to calibrate your emotional maturity as some where around thirteen and three quarters.

    Merry Christmas to you too.

    I hope Santa puts some carbon credits in your stocking.

  20. DumbScientist
    No, I haven’t read through the very long WUWT thread where your name appears over a hundred times. I note your perfectly justified criticisms of the “no human emissions” theory to the poor lady who was driven to despair by the catastrophist narrative, and your reply to Ferinand Englebeen that “atmospheric CO2 increased rapidly during the end-Permian extinction and the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. In both cases, the ensuing rapid warming stressed ecosystems and caused extinctions”.

    “Ensuing warming”, eh? Are you sure?

    Anyway, I’m not going to have time to go through that thread before Christmas, but I’m sure that you’re not a murderer. Apparently no-one on the thread said you were.

    (Why am I getting into this?)

    Anyone confused by the direction taken by this thread needs to refer to recent comments at
    http://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/communicating-uncertainty/#comments
    They refer back here, but using another URL.

  21. Foxgoose:
    “Am I being hypersensitive…?”
    Don’t come the wilting lily with me. Neither you nor I can play that game. May I quote in evidence the final four comments at
    https://theconversation.com/right-left-wrong-people-reject-science-because-18789

  22. ““Ensuing warming”, eh? Are you sure?”

    Based on the articles I linked in that WUWT thread (searchable via “PETM”), yes. It’s strange that humanity seems to think it’s a good idea to emit CO2 ten times faster than before the biggest mass extinction in history. That’s why the National Academy of Sciences concluded that “the need for urgent action to address climate change is now indisputable.”

    “I’m sure that you’re not a murder. Apparently no-one on the thread said you were.”

    Cool! I mistakenly thought RACookPE1978 accused me of being indoctrinated in CAGW belief-in-imminent-catastrophy-if-we-do-not-kill-millions-of-innocents and described the preferred murder weapons of the CAGW crowd.

    Thanks for clearing up this misunderstanding, and for Foxgoose’s stocking hope.

  23. Oops, I meant to say “That might be one reason why the National Academy of Sciences concluded” instead of the implicitly telepathic “That’s why the National Academy of Sciences concluded”. Sorry for the confusion.

  24. My correction is even more confusing without the original, which is presumably stuck in a spam filter because of links. So here’s a copy without links:

    ““Ensuing warming”, eh? Are you sure?”

    Based on the articles I linked in that WUWT thread (searchable via “PETM”), yes. It’s strange that humanity seems to think it’s a good idea to emit CO2 ten times faster than before the biggest mass extinction in history. That’s why the National Academy of Sciences concluded that “the need for urgent action to address climate change is now indisputable.”

    “I’m sure that you’re not a murder. Apparently no-one on the thread said you were.”

    Cool! I mistakenly thought RACookPE1978 accused me of being indoctrinated in CAGW belief-in-imminent-catastrophy-if-we-do-not-kill-millions-of-innocents and described the preferred murder weapons of the CAGW crowd.

    Thanks for clearing up this misunderstanding, and for Foxgoose’s stocking hope.

  25. Dumb Scientist
    I’ve corrected my comment to: “I’m sure you’re not a murderER”. I based my comment on an unsuccessful search of the 200+ comments on the WUWT thread for “murder” and “RACook”. Virtual deaths, whether from blackouts or increased extreme weather events, are a stupid argument, whichever side uses them.

    You didn’t answer my question as to whether you’re sure that the end of Permian warming was “ensuing” on the increase in CO2, rather than vice versa, but don’t worry.
    My problem is that the whole idea of basing the world’s energy policy on the fate of marine calcifers 200 million years ago seems slightly – weird – like determining your military strategy from chicken entrails. But I can understand how it would give a buzz to Bärbel Hönisch and his/her twenty co-authors. One minute you’re studying fossil snails, the next minute you’re saving the world, and without even having to pop into a telephone booth to strip down to your tights.

    And you continue to project mankind’s activity backwards to before our existence when you talk of us emitting CO2 “ten times faster than before the biggest mass extinction in history.” It’s not nit-picking to point out that 200 million years ago is not history. History starts with us. We make the distinction between history and prehistory precisely to avoid that kind of false reasoning. We gain in clarity what we lose in fantasies about Raquel Welch in a fur bikini doing battle with dinosaurs.

    Show us evidence that we’re doing something bad to the planet (I’m talking about big bad – extinction bad) and we’ll listen. We’re not monsters. A temperature rise of 0.14°C per decade since the start of significant CO2 emissions is not big and bad.

  26. “you continue to project mankind’s activity backwards to before our existence when you talk of us emitting CO2 “ten times faster than before the biggest mass extinction in history.” It’s not nit-picking to point out that 200 million years ago is not history.”

    Since I’ve already told you and others that human activity wasn’t responsible for the end-Permian extinction, and this is the second time you’ve wrongly claimed that it happened 200 million years ago rather than ~251 million years ago, I seriously doubt you’d listen.

    After all, you still haven’t approved my comment linking to the National Academy of Sciences’ conclusion that “the need for urgent action to address climate change is now indisputable.”

    So the odds that you’re genuinely interested in anything I have to say seem indistinguishable from zero. But as the only scientist dumb enough to comment here, I probably look ripe for my ~80th round of “punch the scientist”.

    No thanks. I’d rather do something more pleasant and constructive, like beat my head against the wall. If you want to learn science, the NAS has a great booklet and video series that could help. Maybe.

  27. Rachel says:

    Show us evidence that we’re doing something bad to the planet (I’m talking about big bad – extinction bad)

    Here’s evidence of something bad for you:

    Tropical species are unaccustomed to climate variability and are therefore more vulnerable to relatively small changes. The tropics hold the world’s greatest diversity of marine and terrestrial species and will experience unprecedented climates some 10 years earlier than anywhere else on Earth. Previous studies have already shown that corals and other tropical species are currently living in areas near their physiological limits. The study suggests that conservation planning could be undermined as protected areas will face unprecedented climates just as early and because most centers of high species diversity are located in developing countries.

    Rapid change will tamper with the functioning of Earth’s biological systems, forcing species to either move in an attempt to track suitable climates, stay and try to adapt to the new climate, or go extinct. ”This work demonstrates that we are pushing the ecosystems of the world out of the environment in which they evolved into wholly new conditions that they may not be able to cope with. Extinctions are likely to result,” said Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Ecology, and who was not involved in this study. “Some ecosystems may be able to adapt, but for others, such as coral reefs, complete loss of not only individual species but their entire integrity is likely.”

    Source: http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/mora/PublicationsCopyRighted/Mora%20et%20al%20Press%20Release.pdf

  28. Rachel
    That’s all very terrifying, but, like Amanda’s honeymoon in Noel Coward’s “Private Lives” – “It hasn’t started yet”.

    Anyone interested in the subject of this article, which is Amelia Scarman’s social network analysis of sceptical blogs, and more generally, how social scientists’ aping of the peer review format of the “hard” sciences leads them to utter truisms while spouting nonsense? It’s one thing to claim that God created the world and cite Genesis, but quite another to say the same thing and quote the telephone directory.

  29. alexjc38 says:

    Jo Nova has a good article about this study:
    http://joannenova.com.au/2013/11/skeptically-mapping-why-big-government-research-is-a-waste-of-money/

    One point Jo makes is that Amelia (like many other non-sceptics) seems to not quite grasp the nature of the blogosphere.

    “The paper uses “Social network analysis (SNA)” telling us that it “is a useful method to examine blogospheres as it provides a coherent mechanism to interrogate their structure.”All I can say is that “Structure” is the wrong word. We are looking at a random distributed network. If anyone was hoping to find the Grand-Poo-Bah of climate skeptics at the centre of the string-art puzzle in Black and White, I have bad news.”

    Re social scientists’ understanding of the physical science of climate change, my very general observations would be, a) they think that because they cannot understand the technicalities, it therefore becomes a question of “whose authority can we trust?”, b) however, they don’t seem to actively (and critically) look at what the scientists are actually saying/showing, and instead extend that “authority we can trust” to spokespeople from environmental NGOs, other social scientists, leaders of environmental quangos, and so forth, providing c) that said spokespeople are wedded to the worst-possible-case climate scenarios.

    It would be great if there were a different and independent group of social scientists who could look into and try to figure out why the first group of social scientists tend to think that way. Maybe by the 22nd century, enough time will have passed for this second group to establish itself. Or maybe some extraterrestrials will arrive, in the meantime, and provide that much-needed detached perspective.🙂

    A case in point: a new paper: “A New Agenda on Climate Change: Facing up to Stealth Denial and Winding Down Fossil Fuels” (h/t Bishop Hill):
    http://www.thersa.org/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/1536844/J1530_RSA_climate_change_report_16.12_V51.pdf

    It’s by Jonathan Rowson, head of the RSA Social Brain Centre. He’s also a chess grandmaster, and thus, we might assume, more than usually brainy. But read the paper. Brainy is as brainy does (or writes), as Forrest Gump didn’t quite say.

    “As indicated above, climate change is not about a few storms for unknown people in distant countries in the unimaginable future, it’s more about a whole planet that could become virtually uninhabitable within the 21st century.”

    Here’s an exercise, before reading the paper. Consider the recommendations you think Rowson is likely to make, based on what you know of social scientists in the climate debate, the sort of assumptions they use and the sort of outcomes and solutions they tend to go for. Then see if you were right… It’s a bit of a no-brainer, isn’t it.

  30. Diogenes says:

    Geoff

    Revenons a nos moutons!

    Does Sharman’s summary provide an accurate precis of her paper? I am not sure whether younactually analysed her summary or whether you went straight for the guts of the thing. If you did analyse her summary and found it so totally misleading, is that another nail in the coffin of the Cook consensus paper?

  31. Diogenes says:

    Racel

    You quote “Tropical species are unaccustomed to climate variability and are therefore more vulnerable to relatively small changes. ”

    Has the fairly simple experiment been performed – scooping up some species and transporting them to water a few degrees warmer and seeing how they coped? Just curious.

  32. Lewis Deane says:

    Laugh.

    Like the wanderer and his shadow,
    As tall as failure, you sit
    In this mythical age of functional living,
    Equality and race, god and his double,
    Exhaling words a match may allow
    Between cigarette and pen,
    Writing ‘arse’ for a cheap bit of realism.

    Lend me, you say, a message to hand over:
    So much is about yet you cannot see it –
    The heavy statues worked for others glory
    Will always fall, noticed only
    When the crowd is permitted a sacrifice,
    Exhibited, appendages missing.

    If all the flowers, herbs, trees of alien nature
    Had that smile as their misjudgement
    Could you still laugh at the folly of it all?
    The rabbits, the foxes, the salivating wolves
    Slapped as one slaps stone with the metal brightness
    Of a crowds disillusionment, spat upon,
    Could you be then still quite so curt
    With your honesty and as if the failure
    Was merely ordinary like a broken home?

  33. Lewis Deane says:

    Geoff, your irony is your best self and makes this thread a minor classic!

    foxgoose – Age will out. That is I believe in wisdom, knowledge and the search for Truth. The knock-needness of wisdom. If you don’t believe in yourself then, as my Grandma once said, no one else will.

  34. Lewis Deane says:

    Everyone should read ‘The History Man’ before reading Scarman. [Just as an aside the BBC version was filmed in my local Uni – Lancaster, built in ’67. And, my Trotsky Liverpudlian father was the electrical engineer for that project. Hence I was born here. Spurious but curious.
    Even more curious, it became one of the chief centres for East European studies and as soon as the wall came down that stopped. My mother had a tenant who disappeard in Czechoslovakia and we’ve never seen her since. But I ‘inherited’ all her books – the full Lawrence and Wishart (Progress Publishers) Marx, including ‘Theories of Surplus Value’, ‘Poverty Of Philosophy” , “German Ideology” etc etc. As well as Lenin, Trotsky etc. It was my ‘childish books’ at aged 12 and so forth. Dreaming under a tree, thinking of revolution – very corrupting!]

  35. Lewis Deane says:

    The sweetness of the winter months – buds beneath
    The mud and the eventual snow – just to lie down
    With the vodka and the rain is unreal? You
    Slide back home and the white behind your eyes
    Isn’t of yesteryear and the dames then when
    Hope hung on a mere glance and you staggered, again,
    Home, just to get away – your desperate, lonely freedom:
    Not those snows of yesteryear. But mud and insult
    And stumbling forward and back between that
    High dead tree on a high hill and you, in your dotage.

  36. Diogenes says:

    wow I just went back to the Amdthen place….those open-minded scientist types really hate rational debate/argument…I guess that ius because they are SCIENTISTS, so they are always RIGHT…they do not seem to realise that they destroy themselbves with that kind of self-parading showing-off

  37. Mooloo says:

    Would y’all also describe this WUWT thread as savage attacks by lying borderline insane cult member guard dogs?

    I would describe many WUWT commentators as being borderline insane cult members. On some threads they become the bulk of comments and the tenor is unbearable. I have commented many times there that they are actually doing a disservice to scepticism, ranging from cartoon portrayal of their enemies to conspiracy theories.

    What of it? Are you attempting to defend your own behaviour on the basis of the behaviour of the worst of your opponents? In most of the world that is a defence of the spoilt child — “but he did it tooooo!!!”

    Anthony Watts gets tarred on warmists sites for his fans, regardless of how he is personally, and to a certain extent he gets what he deserves in that regard. However Steve McIntyre runs a very tight ship on CA, editing out all rudeness. The response of the warmists is to treat him equally badly. The obvious conclusion is that it is the message that is the problem, not the delivery.

  38. Lewis Deane says:

    1992

    1

    The day that creeps its crepuscalar dawn.
    Behind me that toothless grin and, in front, a kind of Dover.
    I buy that one way ticket to romance and see
    The same shores that I left. The seas milky and churning
    The grey slate of my home. A long way back.

    2

    The tin can kind of alley. The special brew rattling
    With a copper sourness. My old friends have left me
    And all I have is a fake ‘broken arm’. We jump on
    The tube trains and quickly jump off. She congratulates me
    For my alacrity but I don’t understand her language.
    She understands mine. She is Cynical, like Diogenes
    In a barrel. No warmth. And rage. I move on.

    3

    Canelettos dream and waters crown. When Wordsworth sighed
    Over a London Bridge there was the smog of meaning.
    Obscuring all my friends, we came out of the mist. Such loneliness,
    I had not thought loneliness had undone so many. We laugh
    At you all. Like dogs, we sniff your stupid opulence.

    4

    I reject you. Your cuffs, your watches and your shoes.
    Your fine and fragrant daughters. That was a long time ago
    And besides the wench is dead. Worse, when you look at me.
    When you give me money. I’d rather steal than be a beggar
    To you. Give me your clothes. Give me your wife. Give me your money.

    5

    Not ‘culture’ so much as ‘kulture’. A place I’ve only entered
    To smell out its warmth. I used to steal books in order
    To sell them. I’d lord it over everyone. A fiver
    For a pint and a rum watching the pantomime
    Of tourist and clown and wondering who was which.

  39. What of it? Are you attempting to defend your own behaviour on the basis of the behaviour of the worst of your opponents? In most of the world that is a defence of the spoilt child — “but he did it tooooo!!!”

    Like Mooloo, many commenters here have claimed that my own behaviour is the same as that of WUWT who “did it tooooo!!!” Amusingly, no quotes have been provided to support these libelous accusations.

  40. Steve McIntyre runs a very tight ship on CA, editing out all rudeness. The response of the warmists is to treat him equally badly.

    I’m just a dumb scientist, so please excuse my ignorance: what’s a warmist?

    Anyway, at first I treated Climate Audit equally to WUWT because WUWT reposted Climate Audit’s article, so I just copied my comment from WUWT. After Steve responded, I said sorry for lumping him together with WUWT. Steve edits out more rudeness than Watts, but… “all rudeness”?

  41. Steve McIntyre runs a very tight ship on CA, editing out all rudeness. The response of the warmists is to treat him equally badly.

    To be fair, here’s an example of rudeness edited out by Steve McIntyre. My replies were (understandably) edited out as well, but these parts of my comments are relevant:

    “Nothing useful can come from interacting with people who break into private servers and shamelessly dissect private communication for public entertainment. … Those words were intended only as friendly advice to another scientist who’s been treated very unfairly by you, McIntyre, and many other commenters here.”

    Steve McIntyre writes articles that tend to be misrepresented. Not just by his opponents, as he told me, but his fans also tend to misrepresent his points. (See the comments on those two provided CA posts, or the comments on basically any website that discusses Mann’s hockey stick.)

  42. que sais-je says:

    Dumb Scientist says:

    But as the only scientist dumb enough to comment here, I probably look ripe for my ~80th round of “punch the scientist”.

    This demands a further explanation, and so I ask (all whom it may concern):

    What makes one a scientist? or: How do you define ‘scientist’?

    [These questions above were already posed in slightly different forms elsewhere; cf. “researcher” (here http://www.bishop-hill.net/discussion/post/1899426) and “peer review” (here http://www.bishop-hill.net/discussion/post/1899426?currentPage=6).]

    In addition to Dumb Scientist’s “punch the scientist” and the National Academy of Sciences’ stance on urgent climate change: I think it is faintly reminiscent of Immanuel Kant’s The Conflict of the Faculties (1798), respectively reminiscent of the sharp reply from Kant’s former undergraduate, the later Illminatus, Johann Gottfried Herder in Reason and Language. A Metacritique of the Critique of Pure Reason. Part II. (Zugabe. Neueste Nachricht von einer kritischen Facultät der reinen Vernunft) (1799). Kant writes grandiose (see The Conflict of the Faculties; Der Streit der Fakultäten, translated by Mary J. Gregor, Abaris Books 1979, pp. 44 .f {cf. Goethe’s Abaris}):

    The philosophy faculty can, therefore, lay claim to any teaching, in order to test its truth.

    …at which Herder comments, also boastfully (cf. Herder. Sämtliche Werke, Suphan XXI, p. 333; my translation; emphasis in the original):

    [The faculty] may do so if it can do it, i.e., if the faculty understands the science and knows how to prove it. However, the faculty does it not as a faculty and is neither instituted nor legitimised to do it; each member of these faculties does it on their behalf as an authority of science over which he judges, as a scholar. There can be no talk of the judicial “to resort to” in scientific matters; the disputant or contending writer is a combatant. The pankratiast is punched as soon as he takes up what he can not insist on, i.e., what he does not understand, and anyone inside or outside the faculty has the right and the power punch him.

    [Can we compare eventually Santer et al.’s IPCC report alterations NAS booklet?]
    [Herder was of the opinion that that paper “shows the source of the arrogance of these gentlemen” (“zeigt die Quelle der Arroganz dieser Herren” (Herder in a letter to his (former?) Illuminati brother Christian Heinrich Voigt on April 16th 1799)); Herder had written an early treatise on the influence of science on the government and vice versa (cf. for instance with regard to private citizens here (German language)].

    I think the educator and Illuminatus Christian Gotthilf Salzmann (as well as his Illuminati brother Joachim Heinrich Campe) had already then recognized correctly (cf. Carl von Carlsberg oder über das menschliche Elend (1783-88)):

    The establishment of our universities has been made at a time when the world was still poor in books, and a man who could read and write, was among the rarities. And for those times they might have been very useful. But in our days, they cut a miserable figure, just as a fortress that was built in the days of the Crusades, during a war, where one was used to build bombs and cannons to storm the fortresses.

    The Illuminatus Adolph Freiherr Knigge mentioned to the Illuminatus General Adam Weishaupt on March 22nd 1782 (see Reinhard Markner et al., Die Korrespondenz des Illuminatenordens / Januar 1782-Juni 1783: Band 2):

    wir wollen es nicht mehr wagen, uns auf das Ungewisse einzulassen. Wir sind mündig, können uns selbst regieren; zeige uns also, daß die Männer, die uns regieren sollen, würklich weiser, besser sind, als wir[.] Nenne sie uns, oder zeige uns ihre Werke.

    (my translation) “we no longer want to venture to get ourselves into the unknown. We are of age, can govern ourselves, thus show us that the men who shall govern us are really wiser, better than us. Name them to us, or show us their works.”

    It’s like Epictetus wrote in a pyrrhonist manner (Encheiridion, ch. 5):

    “It is not things that disquiet human beings but dogmas concerning things.”

  43. Mooloo says:

    I’m just a dumb scientist, so please excuse my ignorance: what’s a warmist?

    Why the opposite of a “denier”, of course! (Apparently these people exist, despite it being very unclear what they are denying.)

    Stop playing these silly games DS, it isn’t funny, it’s childish. How could “warmer” be considered a term of insult? I doubt anyone could be actually offended, as opposed to pretend offended, by such a mild term.

    And you make my point about Steve McIntyre more forcefully than I ever could. The man goes out of his way to try and lower the emotional temperature, editing out his supporters more forcefully than his opponents. Yet any mistake, regardless of how trivial, is evidence of his actual mean spiritness! Steve makes mistakes — we all do — but only people like you go on about them forever.

    (BTW, you who like to throw stones say “Like Mooloo, many commenters here have claimed that my own behaviour is the same as that of WUWT who “did it tooooo!!!”. Now where did I ever claim your behaviour was like that of the WUWT followers? I never said it, anywhere, anytime. I said your defence of your behaviour was a poor one. I never said how bad your behaviour was. And yet when Steve McIntyre makes an error like that you go on, endlessly, about how bad he is.)

  44. Why the opposite of a “denier”, of course! (Apparently these people exist, despite it being very unclear what they are denying.) Stop playing these silly games DS, it isn’t funny, it’s childish. How could “warmer” be considered a term of insult? I doubt anyone could be actually offended, as opposed to pretend offended, by such a mild term.

    Nobody mentioned being offended by the term “warmist”. I’m just a dumb scientist, so please excuse my ignorance: what’s that “d-word” mean? Is it an insult or a mild term? Could anyone actually be offended by it, or would that be pretend offense?

    I only commented here because y’all were using harsh (IMO) language to describe me, Rachel and Anders over at “And Then There’s Physics”. I asked if describing those WUWT and CA threads would require harsher language. There hasn’t been a direct answer, other than a few statements that seemed to imply equivalence. For instance, I mistakenly thought that Mooloo used the phrase “did it tooooo!!!” and implied that my behaviour somehow requires a defense.

    All this just distracts from the fact that we’re dumping CO2 into the atmosphere ten times faster than before the biggest mass extinction in history. That might be one reason why the National Academy of Sciences concluded that “the need for urgent action to address climate change is now indisputable.”

  45. Barry Woods says:

    the Guardian Style guide is your answer DS (ref ‘denier’)
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/mar/01/climate-change-scepticism-style-guide
    especially this bit:

    “Rather than opening itself to the charge of denigrating people for their beliefs, a fair newspaper should always try to address what it is that people are sceptical about or deny.” – Guardian

    And

    “We have been discussing such terminology, and some of my colleagues have suggested that Guardian style might be amended to stop referring to “climate change deniers” in favour of, perhaps, “climate sceptics”.

    The editor of our environment website explains: “The former has nasty connotations with Holocaust denial and tends to polarise debate. On the other hand there are some who are literally in denial about the evidence. Also, some are reluctant to lend the honourable tradition of scepticism to people who may not be truly ‘sceptical’ about the science.” We might help to promote a more constructive debate, however, by being “as explicit as possible about what we are talking about when we use the term sceptic”.- Guardian

    that an the likes of Monbiot, Lynas, Hari, (and others) equating climate sceptics to the moral equivalent of holocaust deniers. here was also Chris Hulne’s ‘Nuremburg trials’ for climate sceptics/deniers comments.

    further reading:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/02/sea-change-in-climate-journalism-the-guardian-and-the-d-word/

  46. alexjc38 says:

    I’m sorry, any imminent re-run of the Permian-Triassic extinction event will just have to wait until after I have my mince pies. Merry Xmas everyone!

  47. Mooloo says:

    I only commented here because y’all were using harsh (IMO) language to describe me, Rachel and Anders over at “And Then There’s Physics”. I asked if describing those WUWT and CA threads would require harsher language. There hasn’t been a direct answer, other than a few statements that seemed to imply equivalence. For instance, I mistakenly thought that Mooloo used the phrase “did it tooooo!!!” and implied that my behaviour somehow requires a defense.

    You should play wing for the All Blacks. A side-step like that is worth a lot of money these days!

    You have been caught making false accusations. You won’t apologise. Now you move on the next site where you will berate the likes of Steve McIntyre for exactly the same thing. You are a warmer, which can happen to even the nicest people, but you are also hypocritical scum.

    The direct answer to your question is that there are people on WUWT who behave worse than you. There are people on CA who do it too, although they are usually excised by Steve. That they are crud doesn’t excuse your consistent poor behaviour.

  48. You have been caught making false accusations. You won’t apologise. Now you move on the next site where you will berate the likes of Steve McIntyre for exactly the same thing. You are a warmer, which can happen to even the nicest people, but you are also hypocritical scum. The direct answer to your question is that there are people on WUWT who behave worse than you. There are people on CA who do it too, although they are usually excised by Steve. That they are crud doesn’t excuse your consistent poor behaviour.

    Sweet! Santa came early and left me a steaming pile of libelous accusations. Confusing libel, too, because Mooloo’s original complaint seems odd juxtaposed next to his phrase “exactly the same thing.” How amusing that Mooloo insists he never said how bad my behaviour was, right before describing my behavior as consistent[ly] poor.

    Still no definition of “warmer” or “warmist” or the “d-word” which might or might not be insults that could actually offend anyone. Fortunately, I know what hypocritical scum means, and am reasonably sure how to categorize it.

    Thanks everyone; this blog certainly made an impression on me. Again, I’m happy to see that it’s the season of goodwill here. Merry Christmas.

  49. I’ll try to return alexjc38’s good cheer: I don’t think a re-run of the Permian-Triassic extinction event is imminent, because we can still take action. I still think we can build a brighter future, perhaps by considering the plan endorsed by Art Laffer, President Reagan’s economics adviser. It can be summarized as “tax what we burn, not what we earn.”

  50. Diogenes says:

    breaking news…one dumb scientist reckons that the permian mass-extinction was caused by CO2……of course he can present no evidence and he just wants to scare people for no good reason. But he means well and l,oves his mommy. And he can present a report from some academy – without any support from the membership – that says his view is the nonly view that it is possible to hold.

  51. An objective observer might wonder how my mommy became a topic of discussion, or why libelous accusations like wanting to “scare people for no good reason” continue to be allowed here at Geoff Chambers’ blog. I shudder to imagine what would happen here outside of this “season of goodwill.”

    Diogenes ignores the evidence I’ve presented, and asserts without evidence that “some academy” presented a report “without any support from the membership.” Just to be clear, the National Academy of Sciences wrote that 2009 statement with a dozen other national science academies, based on a mountain of evidence summarized in this freely available booklet and video series.

    But there’s a slim ray of hope. By claiming without evidence that the NAS report is “without any support from the membership”, Diogenes implies that he might actually listen to the memberships of scientific organizations. Since I can’t include more than one link here, my “Crash course on climate change” article links to supporting statements from these organizations:

    The National Academy of Sciences,
    the National Aeronautics and Space Administration,
    the National Center for Atmospheric Research,
    the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
    the American Geophysical Union,
    the American Institute of Physics,
    the American Physical Society,
    the American Meteorological Society,
    the American Statistical Association,
    the American Association for the Advancement of Science,
    the Federation of American Scientists,
    the American Quaternary Association,
    the American Society of Agronomy,
    the Crop Science Society of America,
    the Soil Science Society of America,
    the American Astronomical Society,
    the American Chemical Society,
    the Geological Society of America,
    the American Institute of Biological Sciences,
    the American Society for Microbiology,
    the Society of American Foresters,
    the Australian Institute of Physics,
    the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society,
    the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO,
    the Geological Society of Australia,
    the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies,
    the Australian Coral Reef Society,
    the Royal Society of the UK,
    the Royal Meteorological Society,
    the British Antarctic Survey,
    the Geological Society of London,
    the Society of Biology (UK),
    the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences,
    the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society,
    the Royal Society of New Zealand,
    the Polish Academy of Sciences,
    the European Science Foundation,
    the European Geosciences Union,
    the European Physical Society,
    the European Federation of Geologists,
    the Network of African Science Academies,
    the International Union for Quaternary Research,
    the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics,
    the Wildlife Society (International),
    and the World Meteorological Organization.

    I’m skeptical that they’re all making statements “without any support from the membership.” Will Diogenes present evidence to support his claim?

  52. Oops, I mistakenly said the “d-word” hadn’t been defined because I missed Barry Woods’ comment. Perhaps my 2010 comment is relevant to Barry’s point, but in my opinion the physics are much more important.

  53. Mooloo says:

    the Royal Society of New Zealand,

    I was intrigued by this, as I didn’t know we Kiwis had such a thing. However. “You don’t need to be working (or have worked) in science, technology or humanities to become a Member – anyone can become a Member,” rather put me off them as a scientifically literate body. What’s the point of a scientific body that requires not even rudimentary scientific knowledge? Stroking egos, I guess.

    Our actual scientific climate body, NIWA, used to be very alarmist. Then they sacked the one person generating all the fuss (Dr Salinger, a keen Team member) and they’ve been very quiet since on the whole thing. Sure they tug the forelock when required, and no doubt their “official” position is that we are in imminent reach of Thermogeddon, but the passion seems to have gone out of them.

    The NZ MetService is appalling unconcerned about global warming, and it barely rates a mention on its web site. We had a trained TV weather person who was famously sceptic, but he’s since retired.

    If I were going to list NZ institutions whose views might matter, I wouldn’t list our “Royal Society”. NIWA and the MetService yes. I advise taking the Royal Society of NZ off your list DS, as it doesn’t advance your cause one little bit.

  54. Listen to “Mooloo”, or the Royal Society of NZ+? Decisions, decisions…

    Perhaps I missed Barry’s comment because it was trapped in a spam filter. Que sais-je’s fascinating and highly relevant comment also just escaped that spam filter.

  55. NIWA described the IPCC AR4 report like this:

    “The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) “Climate Change 2007” comprehensively assess policy-relevant scientific, technical and socioeconomic information relevant for the understanding of human induced climate change, potential impacts of climate change and options for mitigation and adaptation. It comprises three Working Group Reports, plus a Synthesis Report bringing together information relevant to the policy needs of governments and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report involved over 1200 scientific authors and over 2500 expert reviewers from more than 130 countries. These people are not employed by the IPCC; most work for independent scientific research organisations. The Fourth Assessment broadly supports the direction of the Third Assessment. In most areas, however, the scientific conclusions are now more certain.

  56. “In 2006 the MetService CEO, John Lumsden, said the latest report from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) confirmed the global warming trend. ‘The WMO preliminary report on the global climate for 2006 has just been released and it confirms that 2006 is set to be the sixth warmest year on record, continuing the trend of global warming. We are certain of this observation … In 2006 MetService chief meteorologist, Neil Gordon, added that MetService’s position on climate change is consistent with the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2001 report.”

    Thanks for your help Mooloo. I’m sorry for missing NIWA and the MetService.

  57. Diogenes says:

    Dumb scientist – I think it is well-known that the membership of none of these bodies was canvassed about the statement being made on their behalf. If you belong to any of these bodies, were you asked for your views before the report was issued?

    It is imprewssive to learn that the American Society for Microbiology, the Society of American Foresters, the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, the Wildlife Society (International) and the Soil Science Society of America, have views on climate change, but what possible expertise do they possess on the subject? Surely you have heard about prominent American physicists who have expressed concern about statements on climate change issued by official bodies with which they do not agree.

    You certainly appear to enjoy posting on the internet. Unfortunately, nothing you
    seem to post seems to contain any sign of real thought or judgment – you prefer to hitch your beliefs to authority figures. How’s your mother?

  58. Mooloo says:

    In 2006 the MetService CEO, John Lumsden, said the latest report from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) confirmed the global warming trend.

    That is something almost everyone, even the greatest “denier”, will agree with. We all know it has been warming over the medium to long past.

    The issues are whether the trend is accelerating, whether humans are primarily responsible and what we can do anything about it. Your quote says nothing about that at all.

    I hope the others in your list are rather more specific on the important matters. A list of organisations that agree that it has been warming and that man has played some part in it is useless.

    (This is one reason why “denier” is such a tricky term. What they are “denying” tends to move around alarmingly, based more on what the user of the term wants to achieve politically than what the person so accused actually believes.)

    As for picking my authority over that of the “Royal Society of NZ” — well let’s take the educational average of both. I have Masters level chemistry, with decent Physics, and have since learned quite a lot of statistics. They take people with no qualifications at all. I see no reason to defer to them on matters scientific. I would however defer to them about the purposes of joining useless organisations that sound pretty.

  59. Since the MetService’s position on climate change is consistent with the 2001 IPCC report, a real skeptic could quickly discover that the MetService’s position is consistent with:

    “There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities. … In the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely[7] to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.”

    A real skeptic could also read the 2007 and 2013 IPCC reports to see how much stronger the evidence has gotten since 2001.

  60. comments stuck in moderation by Alex and Dumb Scientist since the 17th and 18th just released. Sorry

  61. alexjc38 says:

    Was wondering where it had disappeared to…🙂 Seriously, the Rowson “Stealth Denial” paper has much of interest in it, and probably deserves its own blog post, at some point. For those of us who relish such things, it’s a regular Walpurgisnacht of the social-scientific behaviour-changers – Common Cause, MINDSPACE, Greenpeace, WWF, Kevin Anderson, Dan Kahan, Ro Randall, Sally Weintrobe, and Uncle Tom Crompton and all. Definitely one for the collection.

  62. alex (December 18, 2013 at 6:05 pm)
    Many thanks for the link to
    http://joannenova.com.au/2013/11/skeptically-mapping-why-big-government-research-is-a-waste-of-money/
    where she says (among much else which is well worth reading):
    “If perhaps she was hoping to uncover some secret structure that would reveal a coordinated chain of command, she must have been disappointed. To her credit, she called it as the results described it. However that post-modern education leaves poor Sharman wandering in the dark. I feel like such a killjoy. Usually when academics reach out to the skeptics to “study” us, it is to attack us. So I ought to be grateful that Amelia Sharman is one of the few who appears to be doing it more nicely — even impartially (sort of). It’s a big step up. But I can’t help it, the skeptic in me is … skeptical. It should be a badge of honor.”
    Thanks Jo, for giving Amelia credit for what she is oh-so- tentatively trying to establish, and for showing her where she is going so wrong. And thanks Amelia for at least trying to study scientifically something which is not scientifically kosher. (Imagine the reaction of Bob Ward, the Rottweiler of media coverage of science, if anyone at the BBC had dared to interview Amelia!)

    Lewis Deane (December 19, 2013 at 9:24 am):
    I approve of poetry, but I disapprove of stealing books

    Mooloo (December 19, 2013 at 7:27 am):
    I agree that many WUWT commenters can seem pretty weird. It’s a function of success. With 100,000s of daily hits, he’s bound to get a fair number of nutters. What is he or his moderators to do? Also, there’s still a touch of what the French call Primal Anti-Communism about much conservative comment in the USA, as if no-one had told them that Stalin is dead and the Berlin Wall is down.
    And success of the kind WUWT enjoys also means threads are so popular that conversation becomes nearly impossible. Blogging is in its infancy and no-one knows how to deal with this.
    To come back to Amelia: my real problem with her is that the blinkered hidebound format wwhich seems to be obligatory in peer-reviewed scientific papers prevents any useful analysis of what’s going on on blogs. I’ve nothing against “degree centrality and node betweenness tests from social network analysis” except that it’s vacuous, uninformative and irrelevant. I do a better job than Amelia of analysing what’s going on on sceptical blogs. So does Delingpole, so does just about any commenter here or on a hundred other blogs. But we don’t have the node betweenness tests that establish our credentials as authentic commenters. We’re not consecrated priests of the scientistic religion, in other words, authorised to distribute the bread and wine of peer-reviewed science.
    Time to nail our theses to the door, I think.

    que sais-je (December 19, 2013 at 7:40 pm):
    Your quotes from Epictetus and Herder are most interesting. English speakers are largely unaware or the fact that discussion of the nature of science dates from before Popper and his exile from Germany. My own knowledge of German philosophy is largely dependent on the work of those who left Germany in the 20th century (Wittgenstein, Isaiah Berlin, Popper). It’s shocking, but there we are. History forms us, (but no-one in England reads Hegel since Russell and Popper’s demolition). I promise I’ll look further into Herder and the pre-Socratics, but I can’t promise to look into the Illuminati. Maybe.

  63. Geoff, I agree with what you say but still feel I want to defend poor Amelia a bit. Yes her conclusions that WUWT and Jo Nova are major sceptic blogs and that most sceptic blogs discuss science are laughable, but at least they are true, and this fact alone makes the paper a huge step forward compared with most previous papers in the field.
    And one more remark about the introduction section of a paper – it is usually the bit written last, with the least amount of care and attention

  64. Paul Matthews (December 26, 2013 at 10:56):
    “I want to defend poor Amelia a bit.”
    And so do I. And so does Jo Nova, to whose article I link again
    http://joannenova.com.au/2013/11/skeptically-mapping-why-big-government-research-is-a-waste-of-money/
    though I disagree absolutely with its conclusion. Amelia seems to envisage the possibility of a dialogue. So do I. So does Jo.

  65. Lewis Deane says:

    Geoff, Sorry if I spammed you. When people give me a large goal, I tend to abuse it, at first, just, like a child, to see what happens. You can eliminate the YouTube links, that’s quite legitemate. And next, the bloody awful verse. Don’t hoist your blog by it’s own jaquerie! I do feel bad about it. I’m reading the triste tropiques for my punishment, though it is a rather delightful punishment. Merry Christmas and a happy new year, my friend.

  66. Mooloo says:

    Geoff, I agree that the popularity of WUWT causes it to lose some focus, and thereby allows the nutters freer rein. What gets my goat is the Green Commentariat who tar all sceptic sites by reference to its problems.

    Lumping Climate Audit in with WUWT is plainly ridiculous — they are chalk and cheese in terms of comments, and even when they discuss the same material it is from entirely different angles. Similarly we see Ben Pile, who barely ever even mentions climate science qua science as a “denier”,

    It was an eye-opener to me when started investigating climate to discover that (WUWT aside) that the anti-CAGW tended to behave better and have more reasoned arguments. Since then many people have mentioned a similar effect they felt. If the pro-CAGW sites had been a bit more open about the flaws in their arguments, and more forthcoming with accepting sceptical points, I suspect I would have been much more persuaded.

  67. Anonymous says:

    Geoff, I don’t withdraw my apology but when you have ‘que sais=je on’ quoting Kant and his obscure quarrel with Herder, I feel right at home. what I, sometimes, find annoying about Scientists is there lack of knowledge, there lack of History. To remember, to know, to be conscious and have a conscience (note the word! con and science!), would be all I ask. I get so tired of asking. Otherwise, it’s a couple of monkeys producing Shakespeare by hitting the wrong keys.

  68. Lewis Deane says:

    I’m hounded by horrors. ‘Harried by Elbas’ as a judicious writer, Hugh Kenner, on Pound, once said. The meanness of my spirit astounds me. I bleed for history and leave nothing for the present. I am that not-me. You must walk upon history, in order to know it. That special crunch of bones. That special wretch at the bottom of your stomach. So many and so horribly. The women, the children and the men. I’m not the only one, but I hear their voices. So forget and BE now. But I can’t.

  69. Lewis Deane says:

    We all live in the past. It is only that other ‘self’ that walks our legs, breathes our lungs, beats our heart (O terror!) and dreams our dreams that can and does live in the present. Hence, consciousness is superficial. But, paradoxically, remembering is profound and needs this ‘false’ consciousness in order to be. We walk in the day needing this cripples stick of being ‘aware’. Without it, the dead would not be present, as they are?

  70. Lewis Deane says:

    Dasien

    The malady of being there.
    That particular faltering step
    Towards what? A covert neon
    Or the moon, eclipse of the night.
    Like those long roads of understanding
    At the end of which only a fields
    Grubby grass, the twitch of a tree,
    Broken and misplaced alien nature.

    Rather, on the obdurate pavement,
    Ones feet grooved to a steady tread,
    Here in the town is one truly alone:
    Anonymous with the anonymous,
    Destructive with the destructive –
    Out there another world, ejected ghost
    Of a field that haunts our want
    Of substance, useless to intrude upon.

  71. Lewis Deane says:

    “Dasein (German pronunciation: [ˈdaːzaɪn]) is a German word which means being there or presence (German: da – there; sein – being) often translated in English with the word “existence”. It is a fundamental concept in the existential philosophy of Martin Heidegger particularly in his magnum opus Being and Time. Heidegger uses the expression Dasein to refer to the experience of being that is peculiar to human beings. Thus it is a form of being that is aware of and must confront such issues as personhood, mortality and the dilemma or paradox of living in relationship with other humans while being ultimately alone with oneself.”

    From Wikipedia, for what it’s worth.

  72. Lewis Deane says:

    ‘Communicating the message’? You’re no Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison. What a great poet can do is give back to his audience what his audience gives to him. Life is tragic only because it is shaped like a poem. A poets duty is to tell that poem.

  73. I know I should let this go but…. iclicked on the website of AMQUA, the American Quaternary Association – one of those august bodies that the dumb one clings to in his appeal to authority. I cannot actually find a statement on climate change or global warming on their site – perhaps the dumb one is lying? It nis not so strange. Everyone on the alarmist side lies as a matter of habit/custom/routine/policy (delete as appropriate).

    I did, however, find an article in Quaternary Times by some concerned alarmist (Dorothy Freidel), which includes the following quote:

    “As a side note, I think this effort must come from those with sufficient scientific background to present the real story. I am concerned that there are thousands of well-meaning folks who see themselves as climate-change experts after participating in a three-day training with a celebrity climate activist. They are charged with going out and speaking to community groups to spread the word. My two brief encounters with such activists, one several years ago and one yesterday, are worrisome. The first was a presentation at my university. The presenter was embarrassingly unprepared, and many in the audience walked out. It was painful to watch. The second trained expert began talking with me about the influence of aliens in archaeological constructions around the world. Yikes! ”
    http://www.amqua.org/quaternarytimes/

    No doubt that the dumb scientist (@dumbsci) will say I was snooping on private communications. I will just tell his mom.

  74. if someone has the patience or fossil fuel funding, it might be interesting to trawl @dumbsci’s list of august institutions, in order to check how many have made a statement on climate change. I would wager about 30%. These folks are professional liars.

  75. All this libel is boring, but at least it will show posterity who behaved better. Again, my “Crash course on climate change” article links to supporting statements from these organizations. The AMQUA’s links have apparently rotted since I made that list in 2011, but Wikipedia notes that the American Quaternary Association has stated:

    Few credible Scientists now doubt that humans have influenced the documented rise of global temperatures since the Industrial Revolution,” citing “the growing body of evidence that warming of the atmosphere, especially over the past 50 years, is directly impacted by human activity.

    By the way, studying climate change requires a multidisplinary approach. Physics shows that we’re warming the climate, but microbiology shows how this affects copepods; foresters show how the resulting pine beetle outbreaks affects forests; agronomy shows that rice grows 10% less with every 1°C of night-time warming; wildlife specialists show how rapid warming destabilizes ecosystems; and soil science shows how much longer soils will be net absorbers of CO2 rather than net emitters. Etc.

    Anyway, Prof. Freidel is right: real expertise can’t be obtained over a weekend. That’s why real skeptics learn science from AMQUA, NASA and the National Academies, etc. It’s encouraging that commenters here value expertise enough to consider reading all these organizations’ climate change statements. Perhaps that odyssey could begin with Prof. Freidel’s entire article, which might give a different impression than reading just the last paragraph. (To protect sensitive eyes, I’ve bleeped a word that might or might not be an insult that could actually offend anyone.)

    GUEST COLUMN: Climate change: the gap between science and policy
    —Dorothy Freidel, Sonoma State University

    Climate change and its potential ramifications are in the news on a daily basis. Although Quaternary scientists have been studying and thinking about scientific evidence for anthropogenic climate change for decades, as recently as 10 years ago one would have been hard pressed to find anything in the popular media on the topic, except for the occasional piece buried on the back pages of a newspaper. However, there is a surprising abundance of scholarly work going back to the mid-90s on the disjunct between public perception and scientific evidence regarding climate change. The experience I had in my climate-change course over a period of more than 15 years was that it was, for the most part, a topic new to students. That is, it was unfamiliar until climate change finally broke through and became a public issue after Hurricane Katrina (fall 2005) and the 2006 movie Inconvenient Truth , both of which changed public discourse—at least for a while. Yet even after an entire semester studying natural climate change and its drivers (using Bill Ruddiman’s excellent text) and then reviewing the IPCC AR4 WG 1 report, at least a quarter of my students remained skeptics regarding whether current warming was anthropogenic. Most of these students came from politically conservative backgrounds. At least part of the problem in the discourse of climate science, then, is how to reach past the barriers of culture, family, and community-based mindsets. These opinions and political positions vary not only through time and depending on the most recent severe weather events, but also on the geography of culture across the United States.

    Now, with the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and powerful tornadoes in the Midwest the past two years; heat waves, floods, and drought; and destructive forest fires in the West, the public seems once again to be increasingly concerned about global warming. Recent polls suggest that young people (younger than 35) are strongly concerned (66%), about climate change, and support controls on GHG emissions (Benenson, GS Strategy Groups, July 2013). Another poll this year indicates a majority of Americans (70%) say developing sources of clean energy and addressing global warming should be priorities for the president and Congress (Yale and George Mason Universities Centers for Climate Change Communication, April 2013). It’s interesting to note, though, that in general, support for these measures has once again dropped a bit since last fall when Sandy hit the East Coast.

    The public’s understanding of the science is still fuzzy, and still influenced somewhat by the climate de**ers and anti-intellectual/anti-science conservatives, on the one hand, and the group perceived to be catastrophists who anticipate the end of the world on the other. I recognize that these two positions represent the extreme ends of a continuum of opinions, but polling seems to indicate that as much as 30% of the voting public is along the skeptics end of the curve. Moreover, I believe this same group is inhibiting any progress toward a realistic climate-change policy in the U.S.

    So, what to do? The challenge is to educate the public to the point where our government responds with significant and effective policy measures. Efforts are certainly being made, but perhaps not enough to break through to actual policy changes at the national level. As I was writing this column this morning, I heard the voice of Tony Barnosky on NPR talking about an initiative he and a group of scientists have put forward called the “Scientific Consensus on Maintaining Humanity’s Life Support Systems in the 21st Century.” mahb.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Consensus-Statement-For-Web-6-02-13.pdf In this piece, California Governor Jerry Brown is quoted as saying, “There is a complete disproportion between the knowledge about and the magnitude of climate change and what it’s going to do to our way of life, and our response. The response is feeble compared to the challenge” (NPR Morning Edition, 8/26/2013).

    AMQUA is, by definition, an interdisciplinary organization. When its members come together to discuss the latest investigations of interest to the group, each disciplinary specialist invited to speak presents his or her ideas in the common language of science. The speaker can assume that the audience of scientists, albeit of diverse backgrounds, has an expert grounding in scientific method and reasoning as well as a good general understanding of most of the Quaternary disciplines. When one of these specialists is called upon to contribute to, say, the PBS Newshour or NPR, they simplify the scientific details of their discussion, but they assume a generally well-read, literate audience. I am sure that many of our members have given speeches and have written op-ed pieces for more-general audiences because they have developed the skills to communicate complex science concepts to non-scientific groups. A number of our colleagues have written interesting and accessible popular books on climate-change research, such as those by Richard Alley, Wally Broecker, Henry Pollack, Chris Turney, and David Archer, among others, and the entertaining illustrated guide to IPCC findings by Michael Mann and Lee Kump. I know these books make it into reading lists for college classes on climate change; I’m not sure about the reading public, however. There are also popular books written by climate skeptics and non-scientists that can be found on the same bookshelves, mixed in with the science-based books. The challenge to the reader is to differentiate between fact and fallacy.

    Bottom line: most AMQUA members are uniquely equipped to help bridge that gap between what we now know about global change and a proper magnitude of response from our representative government. As Tony Barnosky said on NPR this morning, “We’re tired of talking just to other scientists. Somehow the message has not made it out in a way that has resulted in meaningful action.” More outreach from our members could help with this task.

    As a side note, I think this effort must come from those with sufficient scientific background to present the real story. I am concerned that there are thousands of well-meaning folks who see themselves as climate-change experts after participating in a three-day training with a celebrity climate activist. They are charged with going out and speaking to community groups to spread the word. My two brief encounters with such activists, one several years ago and one yesterday, are worrisome. The first was a presentation at my university. The presenter was embarrassingly unprepared, and many in the audience walked out. It was painful to watch. The second trained expert began talking with me about the influence of aliens in archaeological constructions around the world. Yikes!

  76. Lewis Deane says:

    Man In A Barrel,

    Nice find. We are, perhaps, losing the fight for rationality? One attempts ‘lunacy’ out of curiosity, because one is ‘sane’ – at least one believes as such. To watch these cretins spoil our enlightenment is kind of ‘maddening’. ‘Sanity’ which, if abused, produces nausea.

  77. Lewis Deane says:

    That’s supposed to be “‘Sanity’ is a common language, which, if abused, causes nausea.” Sorry.

  78. Lewis Deane says:

    Dumb Scientist,

    ‘By the way, studying climate change requires a multidisplinary approach’ – this is doggeral, cliche. You give a pat series of phrases without really addressing the essence. Why call yourself a ‘Dumb Scientist’ since you obviously don’t believe you are. That false humility really is telling. ‘The challenge is to educate the public to the point where our government responds with significant and effective policy measures’ – don’t you know how superficial that is? The problem with you ‘dumb scientist’ is you know nothing of history. White and terribly proud, you want to teach the world to sing. Well, it’s got a different tune and it’s whistling right past you!

  79. Dumbscientist
    You didn’t have to reprint the article, since Man in a barrel has already linked to it. you could make your point by quoting the relevant extracts.
    It’s clear from Freidel’s article that she assumes that everyone she’s addressing will share her views that it’s the job of academics to “reach past the barriers of culture, family, and community-based mindsets” and persuade them that severe weather events like Hurricane Sandy are evidence of something. And she’s a geologist.
    And she’s cheered by a poll this year which “indicates a majority of Americans (70%) say developing sources of clean energy and addressing global warming should be priorities for the president and Congress”. (As opposed to 30% who either think they should be encouraging the development of dirty energy, or else realise that Yale and George Mason Universities are trying to con them with a phony biassed survey question).
    So yes, her article is good evidence that the AMQUA probably share her views on the way to conduct science. Do her fellow geologists torture rocks in the same way the social scientists she quotes with approval torture language in order to get the results they want?

  80. Lewis
    I took out the last three. I’m uncomfortable about removing comments, even the Pogues

  81. Since my point was that quoting extracts can (perhaps unintentionally) twist the meaning of an article, quoting extracts would’ve been counter-productive. Since there’s no productive response to accusations of conning Americans, torturing rocks or language, it’s probably best that I leave y’all in blissful peace. Have a nice day.

  82. Lewis Deane says:

    Thanks, Geoff – I’m a bit Dionysiac at times!

  83. Pingback: Goodbye to All That | Geoffchambers's Blog

  84. Pingback: Keep the Coal in a Black Hole and the Gas up Rusbridger’s Wassname | Geoffchambers's Blog

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