THEY SAY science advances one discovery at a time.
But climate science doesn’t discover anything any more, so people like William ‘Stoat’ Connolley can only advance by gloating over the death of one skeptic at a time.
Connolley’s hit post on the legacy of Professor Robert Carter, 74, reminds me of Phil Jones’ cretinous remark upon learning that John Daly—gentleman and scholar and skeptic—had been felled by his first heart attack at just 61:
In an odd way this is cheering news !
It appears that on the moral front, certain folks haven’t advanced an inch.
The title of Stoat’s gloat (Science advances one funeral at a time) pays homage, in a dull and obvious way, to Max Planck’s theory of the reluctant progress of physics.
Fortunately, that whole paradigm died with Planck, allowing science to move on.
Or at least the normal sciences. But there’s nothing normal about climate science, which—if Herr Stoat is to be believed—is so pathologically sclerotic that whatever passes for progress can be delayed indefinitely by the mere existence of a scientist with a different opinion. How many more voices of dissent will need to be snuffed out before the decrepit locomotive is finally free to shudder its way spastically, millimetrically forward? (Maybe someone will give Tara Smith a grant to gather this vital strategic intel.)
I’ve struggled to think of one good thing that comes out of this sad news. The best I can come up with is:
Now that the wickedly-smart, world-bestriding, widely-respected Bob Carter’s life-support system has been switched off, he finally qualifies in the same weight class, intellectually, as the alarmists who have spent years refusing to debate him.
Those with too little stomach, or too much sense, to patronize William’s whacked-out world of weaselry might prefer to visit the Rabbett warren instead, where somebunny called Brian has posted what is probably the most decent obituary the other ‘side’ is capable of. You might even want to leave a comment applauding the denizens for their comparative chivalry and humanity.
I would, but I’ve been blocked for debating them too well. ▪️
The sloppy science, atrocious data management, and political schemings of scientists, geographers, and others pushing alarm about our CO2 emissions are bad enough. But we have also endured no end of opportunistic jumping-in by politicians and vested interests to amplify the wailings and prescriptions. And as if that wasn’t enough, their dramatic success has also attracted lickspittles who strut and sneer under the presumption they have picked the winning side. There sure is a lot of turpitude out there. Connolley has just added another tuppence worth.
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Were you similarly up in arms when James Delingpole wrote a lengthy, vitriolic, and error filled post on the death of Steven Scheider? I come to bury Schneider not to praise him – James Delingpole.
Is hypocrisy one of those turps? Seems you’ve just added to the pile.
No, of course not. Because:
1. I wasn’t aware of James’ excellent obituary until now—many thanks.
2. Schneider was an utter winker. Get back to me if you can quote Bob Carter giving a wink and a nod to “find[ing] the right balance between truth and effectiveness.”
As a side note, I’m just glad to have contributed, in however modest a way, to this supposed “pile” of turpentine—a powerful cleansing agent also known as nature’s metho.
So glad, I’m not even going to ask how it’s physically possible to make a pile of a volatile liquid.
Connolley: ‘Today brings us news of another such advancement in science, with the reported death of Robert Carter. ‘ Followed by condescension, and the peculiar solipsistic argument that Carter cannot have mattered much because, he, Connolley, had not bothered to attack him.
Delingpole: ‘Stephen Schneider – who recently died of a heart attack, and God rest his soul …’ and later in the same piece ‘So Schneider – RIP, sympathy to his grieving relatives and all that …’ And his article is focused on Schneider’s political work, and gives several quotations from it, with commentary to make it clear that he, Delingpole took Schneider’s efforts seriously and regarded them as disingenuous, dangerous and destructive.
So, while one of them celebrates a sudden death as contributing to the advancement of science, and proceeds to view it via the narrowing lens of his own narcissism, the other one gives no hint of celebration, and focuses on not the deceased but on his work and expresses reasonable concerns about it.
I think the O’Neills in Wisconsin have got themselves into a bit of a muddle about the meaning of turpitude, and about the contrasts between the two pieces of writing here.
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I believe Max Planck did have a point. In science people tenaciously hold onto ideas even if they have been falsified by the evidence or (as more often happens) they are supplanted by better ideas. Where the existing ideas form an institutionalized consensus, discrimination has occurred against those with the hypotheses can undermine that consensus. It can be that the new research paradigm can only gain prominence when the numbers dwindle in the old paradigm. As a result knowledge
To combat this innate conservatism in ideas I propose four ideas.
First is to promote methods of evaluating competing theories that are independent of consensus or opinion. In pure science that is by conducting experiments that would falsify a hypothesis. In complex concepts, for which experiment is not possible and data is incomplete and of poor quality, like the AGW hypothesis or economic theories, comparative analysis needs to be applied based upon independent standards.
Second is to recognize institutional bias by promoting pluralism and innovation.
Third is to encourage better definition of concepts, more rigorous standards of data within the existing research paradigm to push the boundaries.
Fourth is to train people to separate scientific endeavours from belief systems, whether religious, political or ethical.
The problem for William Connolley is that all his efforts within climatology – such as editing Wikipedia to his narrow views, or helping set up Real Climate to help save the Mannian Hockey Stick – are with enforcing the existing paradigm and blocking any challenges. He is part of the problem that Planck was talking about.
As an example of the narrow and dogmatic views that Connolley supports, here is the late Bob Carter on his major point about how beliefs in unprecedented human-caused warming are undermined by the long-term temperature proxies from ice core data. The video quality is poor, probably due to a lack of professional funding that Connolley and his fellow-travellers fought so hard to deny.
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I posted this comment at your site before seeing that you’d made the same point here:
I don’t see how anyone could disagree with your four ideas, and that’s the problem. Universities and other institutions will say they’re already applying them.
For example, you say: “comparative analysis needs to be applied based upon independent standards”. But who gets to decide the standards, and independent of what?
The university system should in theory be able to apply your ideas within its existing structures. Philosophers of science are on hand to deal with your fourth point; pluralism and innovation are encouraged by human curiosity. Who wants to spend five years researching a subject where the end result is already known? (Don’t all answer at once).
Connolley is a symptom of something wider. His wicked Wiki ways were discovered and punished. Yet this had no further repercussions, and the same goes for Gleick, Lewandowsky, Cook. How did this come about in a free society, where colleagues, rivals, the media, etc., normally perform a continual check on truth and rationality? Why has this system broken down in the case of climate?
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“Why has this system broken down in the case of climate?”
I think it’s because the end justifies the means. The cause of saving the planet from incineration at the hands of the evil deniers is is so righteous that lying about the deniers or fabricating their documents, things that normally would not be acceptable, become justified in this special case.
… But here’s a counter-example. The Plain Stupid vandals who broke into a Heathrow runway have been found guilty and told to expect prison.
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Faking quotes is dishonest. You know that, so why are you doing it?
> I would, but I’ve been blocked for debating them too well
> Faking quotes is dishonest. You know that, so why are you doing it?
Because it’s funny. I would’ve thought my satirical, non-literal purpose was clear (but then you may not be as familiar with my oeuvre as I am!). Do you want me to de-quote you?
No, that’s true.
> Because it’s funny
Essentially, you’re lying about what I said. If this is just a joke site where you post for lulz then I’ve no complains; but I won’t trouble myself by taking you seriously.
And no, you’re not blocked at my site. And judging by the standard here, I can’t believe you’ve ever been blocked for debating too well. Can you supply any examples?
> Essentially, you’re lying about what I said.
Essentially? That’s *exactly* what I’m doing, albeit in a way that surely couldn’t deceive anyone, because it’s not something you could plausibly have said. (Is it?)
However, to repeat: if you feel the made-up quote has deceptive power, as opposed to mere non-veracity, then I’ll happily remove it as a matter of principle, regardless of whether or not you deign to “take [me] seriously.”
> If this is just a joke site where you post for lulz then I’ve no complains;
Hey, don’t judge the whole blog by *my* contribution.
> but I won’t trouble myself by taking you seriously.
Ah, but I never flattered myself in the first place to imagine such a personage as yourself could possibly take me seriously—especially not when you ostentatiously failed to take Bob Carter seriously. I don’t matter a fraction as much as he did, surely.
So as threats go, that’s not one.
> And no, you’re not blocked at my site.
And I never claimed to have been. How carefully do you read?
You should remove the faked quote, for your sake, not for anyone else’s.
> And judging by the standard here, I can’t believe you’ve ever been blocked for debating too well. Can you supply any examples?
You forgot that bit.
> You forgot that bit.
No, I just didn’t trouble myself to take it seriously, since the entire thing is predicated on your misreading of my penultimate paragraph.
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Note to all:
William is complaining about the second paragraph, which read:
“But climate science doesn’t discover anything any more,” explains William ‘Stoat’ Connolley, “so we can only advance by gloating over the death of one skeptic at a time.”
I personally thought that was funnier than the new version, but what do I know.
(He’s separately complaining about the last para, because he failed to read the second-last para properly.)
William Connolley is well known for editing Wikipedia to against those who opposed the climate pseudo-science and associated authoritarian politics.
This is him in 2008 replacing a complimentary comment in Bob Carter’s biography with a sleaze-ball one.
Here is Connolley on 22nd January 2016 deleting a quantification of the research papers published.
In both cases it is an example of a dogmatist trying to make those he dislikes appear lesser than he is. The Stoat should try to raise himself up rather than bring others down.
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No it isn’t. I removed nothing with that diff. That quote was removed later (https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Robert_M._Carter&diff=382734462&oldid=382733932) but not for obviously good reasons. Perhaps I’ll restore it.
You’ve also failed to notice that it was me who added his pubs (https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Robert_M._Carter&diff=prev&oldid=212454696).
> deleting a quantification
ZOMG! In that case, the quantification has no real source. If you can find one, feel free to re-add it.
You also failed to realise that I added his Science paper, which is one of the highlights of his career. But that doesn’t fit your narrative, of course.
Nitpicking on somebody else’s argument to cover up one’s bigger failings is something as old as the hills. Matthew 7:4-5 is the correct response.
Complaining of nitpicking when someone blows a fundamental hole in your story, ditto.
You people are so unbalanced. You can’t see anything except what supports your viewpoint.
Aanyway, you’ll be delighted to know that following your prompting, I have re-added the deleted text (https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Robert_M._Carter&diff=701650806&oldid=701164725).
Another way at looking at the Wikipedia editing issue is to compare it with a criminal investigation. Police officers would be taken off a case where they have an emotional involvement. A judge is obliged to stand down on a case where they personally know the accused, or have an interest in which way the verdict goes. By the great William Connolley, who revels in the death of moral and intellectual superior feels no compunction about editing the biography of the deceased.
Changing the subject; another great idea. But if you’re complaining about people writing in areas that they have emotional involvement in, then you (and our host) shouldn’t be writing about RC, since you clearly have an investment in his imaginary greatness that you can’t help influencing you. He wasn’t great, of course. In climate terms his research was negligible. In the geology side he appears to have been unexciting, as evidenced by neither you nor our host nor any of the other hagiographers (well, I’ve looked at WUWT, and JoNova) having the least clue about what he did. Nor a single reference to any idea he originated. https://www.heartland.org/robert-m-carter just about notices that he studied Cenozoic sediments but again, there’s no hint as to why.
I would have got back to you earlier, only I got side-tracked. You are quite right to try to cut through my vague waffle. Take the term
“comparative analysis needs to be applied based upon independent standards”
You might get the impression I believe that science needs something like an Accounting Standards Board, with committees spending years producing lengthy and incomprehensible tomes. I had in mind something far more basic.
For instance, a basic comparison is one word definitions. With two competing arguments, one based on definitions that the author makes up and the other where the author relies on the authority of the dictionary, which would you rate more highly?
Another form of basic independent standards is basic distinctions. For instance, making the distinction between the following
– positive and normative statements (facts and value judgements / opinions)
– trivial and non-trivial statements
– strong and weak evidence
– relevant and irrelevant evidence
Beyond that, evaluation can be furthered by consideration of the null hypothesis; necessary and sufficient conditions; false positives and false negatives.
I covered these aspects in more detail a couple of years ago. The key is not rigid rules, but general principles to aid understanding. It is not rocket science, but would considerably raise the standards and tone of climatology.
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William, even if I knew nothing else about Bob Carter, the mere fact that he held back the progress of the thing you call “science” would be reason enough to eulogize him.
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Clive James writes regular little personal pieces for the Guardian. The latest
mentions Bob Carter. Clive James talks about his “cool bravery” and says:
“The climate change orthodoxy can be a tough proposition to be sceptical about if you mind being accused of betraying the future of the human race. Carter knew how to maintain a gentlemanly vocabulary even when the guardians of dogma were calling him names. It’s a hard trick to work: sometimes it’s just easier to join in and call your persecutors intensely dense. But Carter always behaved as if they might have had a point. Perhaps he was working on the principle that politeness is an argument in itself.”
It takes a certain “cool bravery” to write that in the Guardian. Thanks Clive.
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