Lewandowsky and Mann in Psycho Pen


A new paper, Science and the Public: Debate, Denial, and Skepticism, has appeared in the Journal of Social and Political Psychology, whose URL psychopen may be interpreted in more than one way.

The authors are award-winning charlatan Stephan Lewandowsky and widely-respected fraud Michael Mann, with Nicholas Brown and Harris Friedman on board to give the venture some credibility. (If it achieves nothing else, the exercise will go down as a model for how pseudoscientists might fruitfully work with experts from outside the pseudoscience world.)

Alas, the article itself is basically a vehicle for Lewandowsky to increase his self-fertilisation index while regurgitating the familiar prejudices. It adds precisely zero to the climate conversation—something of a personal best for Steve, who’s better known for subtracting from it. As such we doubt this particular piece will be retracted. That it will be universally detracted, however, is on the cards.

The article climaxes with a patronizing list of guidelines for members of the public on how to communicate with academics. This is followed by a less-patronizing version for academics in case they ever wish to communicate in the other direction for some reason.

The authors put the central problem thus:

How can scientists facilitate debate but resist denial?

In other words: How do we host a big debate without risking the Negative team showing up?

In order to achieve this delicate balancing act, which has eluded science’s worst minds for days, the authors apparently turned to the world of blog censorship. From there they lift a number of constructs that will be all too familiar to victims of online climate deletionism. Phrases like constructive criticism and legitimate grievances (which can be put up with) are opposed to bad faith criticism and trolling (which can’t, because scientists are cowards). Further research is urgently indicated to determine what, if anything, these nebulous idioms mean; in the meantime we’ll just have to guess.

One gets the feeling—how to put it nicely?—that the authors didn’t think this through particularly well. Their Conclusions, for instance, begin with the inadvertent admission that

Science is debate.

I’ll be sure to remember this equation next time someone says “there’s no real debate in the climate literature” or climatologists “are no longer debating.” Algebra just got fun!

In terms of own-goals there’s an embarrassment of riches here.

Michael Mann on FOI, 2007:

I would not respond to this. They will misrepresent and take out of context anything you give them. This is a set up. They will certainly publish this, and will ignore any evidence to the contrary that you provide. … I have been talking w/ folks in the States about finding an investigative journalist to investigate and expose McIntyre, and his thusfar unexplored connections with fossil fuel interests.

Michael Mann on FOI, 2016:

Scientists should assume that requests for data or clarification are made in good faith and are reasonable. Scientists should also generally not be concerned about the motives of the requestor as simple disagreement must not preclude access to data.

Stephan Lewandowsky on the skeptical community, 2011:

Engagement, in my view, is not a solution but just an enormous waste of time.

Stephan Lewandowsky on the increasingly-skeptical community, 2016:

Scientists should assume that a constructive dialogue with an interlocutor is possible. We believe that most members of the public who approach a researcher do so with the intention of constructive dialogue.

Lord, make my enemies ridic—oh. Never mind.

If you enjoy Science and the Public: Debate, Denial, and Skepticism there’s a whole stack of other skepticism-promoting literature we can lend you.

117 thoughts on “Lewandowsky and Mann in Psycho Pen

  1. I’m bemused by journals (and in many more fields than climate or psychology).

    Papers are like the conceptual art of information. Highly prized, much discussed and bloody pointless tat. I venture that opinion based on more that climate or psychology. Drs Lew and Mann are like the Tracy Emin of their respective fields. I imagine their next work will be a tent with the embroidered names of all the sceptics they’ve screwed over.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, having now read this second Lew-Mann venture into the arts of self-promotion and creative writing …

    On the bright side, I suppose it is worth noting that there is no evidence in this particular article that Mann has chosen to rest on his faux Nobel laurels.

    That aside, there is also an interesting – albeit perhaps coincidental, but perhaps not – parallel between this piece and their earlier collaborative effort, noted above. In both joint ventures, they somehow succeeded in roping in two otherwise respected authors. In this regard, readers might be interested in what I would consider to be a far more complete and accurate take on the trials and tribulations of co-author Brown et al: Nick Brown Smelled Bull.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I tried reading it, but was suddenly reminded that there was some paint which I could be watching dry . . . .
    Isn’t this just an exceedingly tedious exercise in keeping the careers of two ageing and increasingly irrelevant Consensus Enforcers (Ben’s terminology) ticking over? Seems like it to me. *yawn*


  4. Nice link, Hilary!

    Losada’s “mathematical modeling of group behavior” ought to be a dead giveaway. Sounds too much like Hari Seldon’s ‘psycho-history’. What that episode shows is that you don’t have to be a recognised expert in the field to identify bullshit when it hits you.

    Either Mann and Lewandowsky didn’t know this saga or they didn’t understand it when they invited Brown on board. But then math has never been their strong point, has it?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice summary. I’d agree at my first glance through that this looks like a treasure trove of hypocrisy. And also they reference Diethelm and McKee to support the concept of denial / denialism, which is deeply flawed:


    Lewandowsky did some much more mainstream and reasonable work on emotive biases and misinformation before jumping off the deep-end into climate change and conspiracy ideation. Considering all the effects he helped to reveal occur within the climate change consensus, to which his worldview was and is very strongly aligned, it was either go through a St Paul style epiphany and reject the Consensus, or reduce cognitive dissonance by re-framing everyone who isn’t ultra-orthodox as very seriously misled or just crazy. He went for the latter. To pretend that the Consensus folks have been jolly nice and perfectly objective debaters all along, is an ultimate hypocrisy.

    I certainly agree with part of their conclusion: that daylight is the best thing to prevent the undermining of science. Yet the large-scale cultural biases to which they are in service are exactly what shield out the sun with a roof of authority, and an almost impenetrable certainty of calamity dressed as science. Thank goodness for what they consider fringe blogs, which have punctured a few holes. In response I’m sure it’s very handy indeed for Mann to be legitimized by psychology in thinking of Climate Audit, for instance, as a ‘denial’ site. Yet I have a feeling he may regret this alliance one day. Maybe he’s got nowhere else to turn.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for the link, Hilary. Dynamite.

    We can only hope Mann and Lewandowsky live to regret getting into bed with the McIntyre and McKitrick of psychology.


  7. Lewandowsky et al take their definition of Denialism from Diethelm and McKee, who take their definition from the blog of the Hoofnagle brothers. Yes folks, who we are (and therefore how we should be treated) has been defined by a lawyer (and his rather taciturn physiologist brother) on a blog. Remember that the next time they slap you up with “peer reviewed science”.

    The fact that Lewandowsky is a liar and a charlatan is so well established that it’s hardly worth restating. The fact that he holds the delusory belief that the opinions of experts can influence events in the physical world, and that he can prove it mathematically, is less well known, but it’s there in the references.

    The fact that the Royal Society paid for the trip abroad during which he met his co-authors is interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Geoff: ‘Lewandowsky et al take their definition of Denialism from Diethelm and McKee, who take their definition from the blog of the Hoofnagle brothers.’

    Indeed, and per the link above there is not even any theoretical causation underpinning this definition. The Hoofnagle’s emphasize dishonesty and ‘crankiness’ as cause. Diethelm and McKee wisely drop these, yet substitute in a single short paragraph a random string of quite different causes, with neither evidence or theoretical backup for any of them. Diethelm and McKee’s home domain is ETS; tellingly other experts in this domain (even those on the same ‘side’) have called out their paper as the nonsense that is it. And some have also accused them of deploying in that domain the very ‘denial’ techniques they outline.

    One can never distinguish ‘with relative ease’ (as the head post paper says), or at all, between skepticism and ‘denial’ if one has no idea of what the latter really is and the causation behind it. One of Lewandowsky’s more reasonable papers calls skepticism ‘the key to accuracy’, yet coupled with a flawed concept of denial that can be deployed by anyone against any cause, it seems he only means that skepticism about those topics he opposes is the key to accuracy. It’s ‘denial’ if his own causes are opposed.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Nick Brown wrote this about PACE trials… (On his blog-Dec 15)

    “The researchers’ argument also seems to conflate the presence in the CFS/ME activist community of some unpleasant people — which, again, for the sake of this discussion, I will assume is probably true — to the idea that “anyone from the CFS/ME activist community who asks about PACE is probably trying to harass us”. This is not good logic. It’s what leads airline passengers to demand that Muslim passengers be thrown off their plane. It’s called the base rate fallacy, and avoiding it is supposed to be what scientists — particularly, for goodness sake, scientists involved in epidemiology — are good at.

    A further problem with the arguments that a request for the data — whether it comes from patients with scientific training, or scientists such as Jim Coyne — is designed to be “vexatious” or to “lack serious purpose” or that its intent is “polemical” (all terms used by King’s in their reply to Coyne), is that such arguments are utterly unfalsifiable. Given the public profile of this matter, essentially anyone who asks for the data is going to have their credentials examined, and unless they meet the unspecified high standards of the researchers, they won’t get to see the data. (Yes, Jim Coyne — who, full disclosure, is my PhD supervisor — can be a bit shouty at times. But this is not kindergarten. Scientists don’t get to withhold data from other scientists just because they don’t play nice. Ask any scientist if science is about robust disagreement and you will get a “Yes”, but if that idealism isn’t maintained when actual robust disagreement takes place, then we might as well conduct the whole process through everything-is-fine press releases.)” -Nick Brown

    As the PACE trial researchers seemed to have borrowed these tactics from climate science,where Lewandowsky and Mann are leading practioners of these techniques.. The new paper is just very very puzzling.

    Also this technique. Which has been used against me by Lew

    “A further problem with the arguments that a request for the data — whether it comes from patients with scientific training, or scientists such as Jim Coyne — is designed to be “vexatious” or to “lack serious purpose” or that its intent is “polemical” (all terms used by King’s in their reply to Coyne), is that such arguments are utterly unfalsifiable. Given the public profile of this matter, essentially anyone who asks for the data is going to have their credentials examined, and unless they meet the unspecified high standards of the researchers, they won’t get to see the data. (Yes, Jim Coyne — who, full disclosure, is my PhD supervisor — can be a bit shouty at times. But this is not kindergarten. Scientists don’t get to withhold data from other scientists just because they don’t play nice. Ask any scientist if science is about robust disagreement and you will get a “Yes”, but if that idealism isn’t maintained when actual robust disagreement takes place, then we might as well conduct the whole process through everything-is-fine press releases.)” – Nick Brown

    I was point blank refused Lewandowskys data by both Bristol and UWA. Bristol even explained one of the reasons was because I was not from an academic institution,

    Lewandowsky/Bishop wrote the red flag paper putting all these hurdles/gatekeeper get in place to keep the public out.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Barry, thanks, as you say, he’s criticising the very techniques that he’s using! I also spotted this on his blog:

    “Daniel Kahneman’s warning of a looming train wreck in social psychology took another step closer towards realisation today with the publication of this opinion piece…”

    You couldn’t make it up.

    At least Nick Brown is publishing our comments on his blog. It will be interesting to see what develops.
    Maurizio says he thinks the comments will get deleted. Another possibility, that we’ve seen before, is that surprise will be feigned that the paper provoked such a reaction. And of course the third possibility is that the comments will be harvested and used as source material for the next paper as evidence of “denialism” or “conspiracist ideation” or something.


  11. “When scientists discover a planet in our Milky Way that is made entirely of diamonds (Bailes et al., 2011), public fascination and admiration are virtually assured.” No it’s not. There might be a small burst of interest but the public are increasingly sceptical by fantastical claims made by scientists. We’ve learnt that peer reviewed isn’t the same as true. Observe comments below each article now about medical breakthroughs. Excitement has turned to cynicism and they ask when the miracle cure will be available or affordable or vanish without a trace like all the other hyped claims.

    “By contrast, when the same scientific method yields discoveries that are closer to home but that touch on people’s lifestyle or worldviews, or that impinge on corporate vested interests, the public response can be anything but favorable.”

    What sick individual would react favourably to CAGW? Oh, I know, those people who greet each implausible climate claim with smug enthusiasm. The correct response is to side with those who question it. What person who is given a fatal prognostication for a never heard of disease and asked to write a blank cheque for treatment by people who have no track record of skill in either diagnosis or treatment, should accept the claim, let alone write the cheque? Nobody sane. The first response would be to question everything. The counter argument to this would be to appeal to consensus, however in the medical profession alone there has been a long track record of incorrect consensus. In respect to climate change are we at the MRI, proton beam therapy end of knowledge or cut you with a rusty knife and expel those bad humours end? How are we supposed to know without asking uncomfortable questions?

    “Media reports occasionally even proclaim that warming has stopped” and “Those propositions have no scientific support” the 2002-2015 global warming hiatus/pause call it what you will is one of those areas where there is no consensus. There are even a great many scientific papers to explain what others deny existed. Dr Lewandowdsky has tried to suggest that scientists were intimidated into claiming that there was a pause – something the climate scientists strenuously reject. It may not suit this paper’s agenda to deny the pause, but it existed (and may resume) in a great many respected researches. The internationally recognised temperature series of both land and satellites do not agree with each other. What are the public and even the media supposed to do when faced with such variety? Pick the most extreme? Be pessimistic? Or start to wonder what might be behind the different claims. No need to shout ‘conspiracy’ when ineptitude and uncertainty are the more obvious explanations.

    “What characterizes the public response to scientific discoveries that are “inconvenient”, or threatening to one’s lifestyle, livelihood, or deeply-held beliefs?” Whatever they want, including meek acceptance – because we don’t live in a military state. However the public’s right to ask questions has been stifled from the start. Scientists have been secretive, arrogant and aggressive with very little provocation. They’ve behaved like the worst kind of shyster when confronted by a wary customer.

    “how the triage between denial and skepticism can be achieved.” Don’t bother, the patient called ‘trust’ died ages ago and no amount of belated CPR can resurrect it. This paper is like negligent medical staff making a show attempt at revival to stave off the anger of the relatives but we’re not fooled as rigor mortis has set in and everything is beginning to smell.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. There is another recently published paper – yet how many hundred of people will read this, vs the 100s of thousands of people that read Lewandowsky’s ‘peer reviewed’ science in the media.


    “The notion that skeptics believed something so silly as the faking of the moon landing is yet another myth essentially concocted by the researchers.” – Lee Jussim

    Can High Moral Purposes Undermine Scientific Integrity? – chapter
    J. Forgas, P. van Lange & L. Jussim, Sydney Symposium on Social Psychology of Morality)

    extract from chapter:

    The Curious Case of Condemning Climate Skeptics as Conspiracy Theorists (Lewandowsky, Oberauer, & Gignac, 2013)

    Global warming may be one of the greatest social and scientific problems of our era. The potential disruption produced by melting polar ice, rising seas, expanding deserts, and increased extreme weather outbreaks is vast, and the evidence is overwhelming that humans have either created or exacerbated the pace with which warming has occurred (United Nations, 2014). Nonetheless, it is very difficult to get people, organizations, and especially, governments, to do anything to address the problem.

    Further compounding the problem are active efforts to thwart major policy changes by challenging the scientific basis for evidence of human-caused global warming. Thus, to some, fighting the “deniers” of global warming may have taken on a high moral purpose.

    Into this mix stepped Lewandowski et al. (2013) with a paper titled, “NASA Faked the Moon Landing – Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax” – which strongly implies that people who doubt global warming believe bizarre conspiracy theories. As Lewandowsky et al. (2013, p. 622) put it, “… conspiratorial thinking contributes to the rejection of science.”

    One possibility is that this was true – that a disproportionately high number of people who disbelieve climate science also believe in something as silly as the faking of the moon landing. Another, however, was that this was essentially trumped up in order to cast those who are most skeptical of the climate science as fools. Fortunately, and to their credit, Lewandowsky et al (2013) publicly posted their data, so we can evaluate these two alternative explanations for the claim in the title.

    Their evidence for these conclusions was drawn from 1145 readers of environmentalist blogs who completed a web survey asking about their belief in conspiracies and acceptance of scientific conclusions (HIV causes AIDs, burning fossil fuels increases atmospheric temperatures, etc.). Lewandowsky et al. (2013) subjected responses to latent variable modeling and did indeed find that “conspiracist ideation” negatively predicted (-.21, standardized regression coefficient) acceptance of climate science. So, where is the problem?

    The implication that climate skeptics believe in the faking of the moon landing is another phantom fact. Out of over 1145 respondents, there was a grand total of 10 who believed the moon landing was faked. Among the 134 of participants who “rejected climate science,” only three people (2%) endorsed the moon-landing hoax. The link asserted in the title of the paper did not exist in the sample. Correlations primarily resulted from covariance in levels of agreement among reasonable positions (i.e., people varied in how much they disbelieved hoaxes and in how strongly they accepted science). It would be fair to characterize their results as indicating “the more strongly people disbelieved hoaxes, the more strongly they believed in climate science” – people varied in how strongly they rejected hoaxes and accepted science, but almost no one believed the moon hoax.

    Understanding when people are and are not persuaded by science is an interesting and important area of research. But this curious case highlights the threat to scientific integrity that can stem from high moral missions. The notion that skeptics believed something so silly as the faking of the moon landing is yet another myth essentially concocted by the researchers. No matter how worthy the efforts to advance policy changes to combat human sources of global warming, the goal of “getting it right” is jeopardized when scientists claim their data shows their ideological opponents hold silly beliefs when they, in fact, do not. As such, this constitutes another example of high moral purposes undermining scientific integrity.

    http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~jussim/CanHighMoralPurposesUnderminescientificIntegrity.docx (draft)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. “health effects of tobacco” Seriously, that old chestnut? Surely a serious researcher could come up with another analogy, unless of course they liked it as a meme of good versus evil and were too lazy to make a serious point? The obvious hole in the tobacco ruse is that people still smoke. Surely the whole idea behind cutting fossil fuels is to stop an essential energy source being used, not to ensure that a dirty addiction be taxed more? Either come up with a better analogy or just a more original one or be deemed sloppy and derivative.

    “when climate change is labelled a “hoax” that is ostensibly perpetrated by corrupt scientists,” no, no, most serious sceptics think it’s a lot more complex than that. Noble cause corruption, poor procedure, bad record keeping, poorly trained statisticians, tribalism, belligerence, a whole heap of other understandable or ignoble features and even some truth. Sceptics very much consider a plethora of explanations, whereas we are viewed very much as 2 dimensional characters. ‘Hoax’ is most likely to be used as a description of what sceptics think about climate change and amusingly a lot of the public agree with that idea. An unintended own goal by the consensus side.

    “when an American corporate front group likens climate scientists to the Unabomber”. It was indeed an unfortunate single poster campaign but it was immediately and strenuously rejected by most sceptics. Of course there should be some sympathy for those who conceived the idea, as it was almost certainly a reaction against several campaigns from the other side. The ‘we know where you are, we know where you live’ threat by one of Greenpeace’s significant members; or the video of many planes diving into the Empire State building; or most significantly the No Pressure 2010 campaign that saw 4 adverts created by a large team of well known film makers that simulated sceptic individuals blown to bloody pieces by the person in charge of each scene. If we are to condemn a solitary poster that likens one group to the Unabomber, surely some mention of the opposite side fantasising in inglorious cinema technicolour, a classroom of traumatised kids dripping with the gore of two eviscerated climate sceptic class mates? One could be led into thinking that the consensus side are almost as mad as the Unabomber when they didn’t stop at showing a boss detonating a group of sceptic employees.

    “existing research permits its identification [between scepticism and denial] with relative ease because denial expresses itself with considerable homogeneity irrespective of which scientific fact is being targeted”. The papers quoted are as vacuous as this one and use the tobacco meme repeatedly instead of hard facts. Dr Lewandowsky is notoriously sloppy in his work and used extraordinary techniques to secure his data. To obtain sceptic opinions he canvassed obscure consensus sites, extremely hostile to sceptics and who openly discussed distorting the data. He didn’t spot the 32000+ old man in another work or the two underage respondents. I can’t even be bothered to rip Cook’s work to shreds, its inclusion is just an example of poor standards. Since there is a consensus on climate change (however vague and pointless) it would be hard not to prove it exists but Cook et al manage to botch even than simple exercise.

    “anti-vaccination”, “HIV-AIDS denial”, blah, blah, blah. Just because there is illogical rejection of any science, doesn’t mean that sciences don’t have flaws, even catastrophic ones. Sceptics widely believe the problem with CAGW is extremely bad work, not a conspiracy of knowing liars. It’s bolstered by idiot hangers on like politicians, celebs and psychologists who don’t even know what the debates are, let alone how to spot the truth. Dr Lewandowsky is so naïve about the subject of climate he accidentally suggested Dr Richard Betts was suffering from Recursive Fury in his data for finding fault with the moon landings paper. This gave sceptics much to laugh about as he is head of climate impacts at the Met Office. Oopse.

    Oh, and then we’re back to the tobacco meme again and ‘well funded’ deniers. All that money floating about and the biggest achievement is that climate change is a non issue on both sides of the US political debate. There is no campaign, nobody is interested in consensus or denial. Either that money has miraculously sucked the issue out of the Democrats or maybe, just maybe nobody gives a damn about it? Logic would suggest the money going towards conservative think tanks is for the great many other conservative issues and not the obsession of a small number of lone voices. If there is a conspiracy theory it is that deniers are silencing believers. The truth is that the issue is like so 2005.

    No matter what money might be doing to the debate in the US, you have to observe other countries like the UK, where there is a different political landscape. Think tanks have very little influence on the UK public and even politicians seem to be at odds with their electorate. One might almost think the public have a mind of their own. While they are continuously bombarded by green messaging, especially from the BBC, climate change is slipping off the agenda. While I’d like sceptics to take the credit, the reality is that it is the consensus side that has cooked its own goose. They successfully alarmed the public with early calls but have failed to back up with stronger evidence. On the contrary, issues that at first seemed clear indicators of alarm, turned out to be identical to natural variation. Statements that were once firm are now littered with provisos and qualifiers. Predictions have failed to materialise and arguments now sound desperate rather than authoritative. The only people who are still confident to ignore the problems building in the science are a few activists scientists and outsiders like Obama or Leonardo Di Caprio.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Prof Lee Jussim spoke about Lewandowsky’s Moon Hoax paper at a symposium..

    as reported:

    “It was Lee Jussim. He had come to the Sydney Symposium of Social Psychology to talk about left-wing bias in social psychology.”


    Jussim’s talk began with one of the most egregious examples of bias in recent years. He drew the audience’s attention to the paper: “NASA faked the moon landing – therefore (climate) science is a hoax.” The study was led by Stephan Lewandowsky, and published in Psychological Science in 2013. The paper argued that those who believed that the moon landing was a hoax also believed that climate science was a fraud. The abstract stated:

    We…show that endorsement of a cluster of conspiracy theories (e.g., that the CIA killed Martin-Luther King or that NASA faked the moon landing) predicts rejection of climate science as well as the rejection of other scientific findings above and beyond commitment to laissez-faire free markets. This provides confirmation of previous suggestions that conspiracist ideation contributes to the rejection of science.

    “After describing the study and reading the abstract, Jussim paused. Something big was coming.

    “But out of 1145 participants, only ten agreed that the moon landing was a hoax!” he said. “Of the study’s participants, 97.8% who thought that climate science was a hoax, did not think that the moon landing also a hoax.”

    His fellow psychologists shifted in their seats. Jussim pointed out that the level of obfuscation the authors went to, in order to disguise their actual data, was intense. Statistical techniques appeared to have been chosen that would hide the study’s true results. And it appeared that no peer reviewers, or journal editors, took the time, or went to the effort of scrutinizing the study in a way that was sufficient to identify the bold misrepresentations.

    While the authors’ political motivations for publishing the paper were obvious, it was the lax attitude on behalf of peer reviewers – Jussim suggested – that was at the heart of the problems within social psychology.”

    Liked by 2 people

  15. The Journal of Social and Political Psychology filed the subject article under “Commentaries”. IMO a more appropriate designation would have been “Ramblings of the Paranoid”.


  16. “But out of 1145 participants, only ten agreed that the moon landing was a hoax! Of the study’s participants, 97.8% who thought that climate science was a hoax, did not think that the moon landing also a hoax.”
    — Lee Jussim, address to Sydney Symposium of Social Psychology

    “Denial always involves an element of conspiratorial thinking”
    — Stefen “Stephe” Lewandowsky, born Esteban, in interview with Collin Maessen

    Every field in science has its own threshold for “always,” and Prof Lewandowsky was merely invoking the 2.2% standard conventional in climate psychology.

    He was also using the special, technical meaning of “conspiratorial,” i.e. “conspiracist.”

    Of course the layperson cannot be expected to have the competence to realize any of this, and is bound to misinterpret. Which goes to show scientists should probably give up trying to communicate the science to muggles. It does more harm than good.

    Liked by 5 people

  17. Over at Ken Rice’s sheltered workshop for the feebleminded, he and pet critter RachelM can both be seen characterizing the infanticide video as hilarious. They qualify their praise by noting that it is probably poor marketing, however.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’ve sometimes wondered if the kids (especially those blown up) were traumatised when what they thought was helping to save the planet was shown to be a massive and offensive mistake. From climate heroes they became stars of a video nasty that the makers wished they’d never made. I don’t know if I expressed sympathy at the time but I have always felt it.

    I know that this issue is a bit off topic but it’s an illustration of how old the climate debate is and how much people like Nickolas Brown may have missed if they were never involved. Unlike historical feuds, a lot of the facts are still there to be observed.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I was wondering if the choice of image for this post was a bit OTT.
    So I looked up the definition of psychopath.

    Uncaring: … The criteria for dissocial personality disorder include a “callous unconcern for the feelings of others.” Well, that fits. As Frontiers/Markram said, he “does not sufficiently protect the rights of the studied subjects” and that the studied subjects “did not give their consent to a public psychological diagnosis in a scientific study“.

    Shallow emotions: Psychopaths, and to a degree, sociopaths, show a lack of emotion, especially the social emotions, such as shame, guilt, and embarrassment. That fits too. Has he ever shown any remorse or apology for the abuse he has piled on others? Or any guilt or embarrassment over his bogus claims being exposed?

    Irresponsibility: … they blame others for events that are actually their fault. Hammer, nail. He feigned surprise at the reaction to his bogus smears in his conspiracy theory paper. Then did the same to the PACE people who reacted to his nasty piece in Nature.

    Insincere speech: Ranging from what the PCL describes as “glibness” and “superficial charm” to Cleckley’s “untruthfulness” and “insincerity,” to outright “pathological lying

    Overconfidence: The PCL describes sociopaths as possessing a “grandiose sense of self worth.”

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Part 3

    “In a democracy, calls for genuine debate are to be welcomed and must be taken seriously.” A bit late to say that. I was relatively late to climate scepticism having been a disinterested believer. However my engagement is now over 10 years and at no point has the debate been welcomed or taken seriously. ‘Fought tooth and nail’ would be a better description.

    “scientific debates must still be conducted according to the rules of science.” Even if the likes of Dr Lewandowsky recognised the rules of science or accepted debate, the public and policy makers are not tied to any such rules. Any negotiation with the public is usually a reluctant admission that they have a right (and ability) to interfere with the plans of their ‘betters’. Sceptics bloggers by and large HAVE used science against the consensus. They’ve also used statistics and dare I say it – facts. Not that we’d expect Drs Lewandowsky or Mann to admit that. Of course the uncomfortable thing about the public is that they don’t have to play by anyone’s rules and can just ignore stuff they don’t like the look of. No need for any debate when they steadfastly ignore the alarmists. And if the “rules of science” involve peer review then nobody needs to stick to those artificial rules at all. They’re a career hurdle of academics, not a requirement for real world decision making… no matter how many times scientists demand the right to be in charge. Sorry guys, your dreams of ruling an ordered world will never come to pass. Thank [insert deity or abstract swearing object of your choice].

    “We underscore that there is plenty of room for honest and vigorous debate in science” – muffled laughter. So you guys are allowed to have doubts about GMOs and climate models but the rest of us plebs aren’t? Sorry to disappoint but we don’t need your permission. Seriously, two of you have been suckered into writing a paper with two abysmal individuals – I’ll let you work out who’s who – about issues that all of you are relatively uninformed.

    The issue of FOI is clearly not a tale that immediately presents itself. The first FOIs that hit the news were about requesting the raw data from which the global temperature series is built by Phil Jones and the CRU. One of the first excuses to reject those FOIs was that the data was protected under international agreements not to distribute data to other parties. When those agreements were asked for, the request was rejected on the grounds that providing them all would be too onerous. Separate individuals then asked for 5 each. Ultimately of course those agreements didn’t exist and neither did the raw data because at some point it had been lost. I’m sure that Phil Jones wished he’d have admitted to something of the sort with the promise to recollect and then let the sceptics have it later. Instead he told porky pies and we all know how that ended. While Dr Jones’ behaviour wasn’t a conspiracy, even the FOI officer agreed it was in violation of the rules. How many incidents of bad behaviour counts as a conspiracy?

    “although even dread does not justify threats of physical violence against scientists who measure nuclear fallout.” Who says it does? No sceptic I know of has endorsed threats to climate scientists, just the opposite. Sceptics themselves have been victims of threats of anything from violence to RICO prosecution. Anthony Watts even met his own stalker who turned up at his work place. Rajendra Pachauri, former head of the IPCC wished that sceptics would rub asbestos into their own faces. What was the 10:10 campaign but a threat? Sceptics are by far and away more sinned against than sinning. The death threats are a mixed bag too. One Australian scientist claimed to have heard a sceptic threatening climate scientists by mentioning his gun. However it turned out to be two people who knew each other discussing legitimate kangaroo culling work and they were unaware of the nosy parker behind them.

    However, nice try to condemn by association.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Part 4

    “Opinion surveys regularly and consistently show that public trust in scientists is very high” relative to what? And are we sure that opinion surveys reflect reality? People don’t necessarily ‘trust’ engineers but we put our faith in their work every single day. The reason for that is that society demands all sorts of tests and regulations and penalties for engineers that are glaringly missing for scientific endeavour. We trust doctors and to a lesser extent banks for the same reason. There are systems in place to try and stop mistakes and fraud. Is peer review a similar level of security? Do climate scientists have personal liability insurance? Would universities be driven out of business if their products (papers) turned out to be flawed?

    “position of the scientist as the neutral, disinterested guardian of “the truth,” someone who is above ideological and financial considerations” – so you’re not paid for results? You have no professional pride to maintain? You’d be as happy to be wrong every day as right?

    Some argue that the first scientist to prove CAGW was wrong would be rich. By what method? The oil companies would never offer such a fee, not least because it would discredit the results. They certainly aren’t going to retrospectively fund published research. Institutions have received a lot of money to research dangerous climate. Which is going to celebrate the end of the money train? Which scientists wants to see the end of climate conferences and young, fawning green acolytes? What young researcher is panting to make their professors hate them by proving that climate science was overblown and turn it back into a scientific back water? Who would employ such a party pooper?

    “if psychologists are scientists” sorry but we don’t really think of you as scientists. That doesn’t mean you can’t do good work but it’s a lot more about guesswork than science should ever be about… actually climate suffers from the same problem but shouldn’t. This paper for instance isn’t science, it’s opinion. There is nothing scientific about it. There are no ways to measure the ideas ventured or prove them right or wrong. It has no more scientific value than a gossip column. The references to other papers merely attempt to resemble a science paper but don’t actually add anything measurable.

    “and where necessary two of the present authors have engaged in self-correction by publishing a corrigendum although the corrections had no impact on the conclusions of the respective articles” ha, ha, ha… oh sorry, you’re serious? Has it never occurred to you why two such interesting ‘scientists’ are hanging out with two guys who they’ve barely met before?

    “Finally, we believe that scientists, in any field, who may be tempted to cut corners in the interest of publishing something they “know” to be right” come guys, you’re now playing this for laughs.

    “And as we have shown in this article, critical members of the public can partake in this debate”. You’ve shown nothing of the sort. You’ve talked vaguely about the concept.

    “Being taken seriously is not an entitlement but a privilege that needs to be earned by participating in scientific debate by acting scientifically.” I think you’ll find that in the real world, people can be taken seriously in all sorts of ways, including by just ignoring so called superior advice. I’d have thought you’d have worked that out by now.

    “On the contrary, they demonstrably shy away from scientific debate by avoiding the submission of their ideas to peer review.” You haven’t demonstrated that they haven’t used peer review but even if they had, what member of the public will go to the trouble of extracting the data (usually by FOI) reworking the science to determine where the errors are. Formulating a rebuttal (in the narrow confines of journal rules) only to have it rejected out of hand or rebutted without the right of reply? You’re expecting people to have a second career just to point out crap research? However Steve McIntyre and several other noble sceptics do ALL THAT. Only to have idiot psychologists tell them that they’re evil deniers. Seriously, Read Climate Audit.

    “There is a growing body of scholarly literature in the climate arena which suggests that the aggressive efforts by contrarians have not only had a generally chilling effect on the academic community” but not on piss poor amateur psychologists like Oreskes and pals. More’s the pity.

    “For example, in a quantitative analysis of media coverage, Freudenburg and Muselli (2010) showed that the vast majority of findings that were reported subsequent to the last report of the U.N.’s panel on climate change (IPCC) revealed the climate to be changing faster than predicted.” However the IPCC reports themselves admit that almost all effects of climate are slower than previously predicted or even non existent. At an Environment and Public Works Subcommittee hearing when Senator Jeff Sessions asked four former EPA heads – point blank and I’m assuming under oath – whether they agreed with President Obama’s claims that climate was changing faster than predicted, all of them refused to support the President’s opinion.

    Which is more likely, that a small band of sceptics are intimidating the massed army of climate departments and scientists and their supporters from the World Bank to Prince Charles or, that their lack of confidence is genuinely down to the uncertain data and science? And you accuse us of conspiracy theorising?

    Liked by 2 people

  22. And finally-

    “First, legitimate public concern about a lack of transparency and questionable research practices must be met by ensuring that research lives up to modern standards.” Agreed but what standards? The poor standards of scientific publishing or those of a subject that matters like medicine or engineering? Hint – climate science and psychology are miles off.

    “initiative involving the use of peer review to enforce openness” lovely, however you’ll find two of your authors have actively engaged in the opposite.

    “Second, we believe that daylight is the best protection against politically-motivated maneuverings to undermine science.” Well yes, but how did two of you keep a straight face writing that?

    “The first part of this article is one effort towards such transparency”, no, it was inaccurate waffle.

    “provides editors and university administrators with the necessary understanding of the background and common strategies of attack with which scientists across multiple disciplines are targeted.” I must have missed any of that.

    “Finally, skeptical members of the public must be given the opportunity to engage in scientific debate.” What you mean is have a say before you ignore us. However thanks for the thought but we’ll take our own opportunity, whether you want us to or not.

    “None of their activities fell within the strategies and techniques of denial that we reviewed at the outset, clarifying that denial is not an “avenue of last resort” for members of the public who are desperate to contribute to science or even correct it, but a politically-motivated effort to undermine science.” Well ditto but I don’t expect you to agree. And for those who think that I’m a denier and shouldn’t be able to voice my opinion – swivel on it.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Tiny
    A couple of times today I felt inclined to comment. Now I’m glad I didn’t! Much easier just to keep,hitting the ‘like’ button and leave you to do the heavy lifting!
    Go, man, go! You’re inspired!


  24. Grin. I’d press the like button for all the great comments on this site but my settings are all wrong.

    The paper makes all the right noises but it’s as much a blog ramble as my comments. Knowing who two of the authors are makes it almost funny. It’s a very long winded way of saying ‘you don’t have to listen to any nasty peasant who pokes holes in your work unless they get through peer review and say please and thank you’. To which the reply is ‘wanna bet?’

    Dr Lew and many other alarmists spend a lot of time and effort denying that sceptics are important. That effort alone is proof that they think otherwise. There is of course a magic way to make us vanish – do good science. That would seem to be too much to ask.

    Ian Woolley, one of the reason I like to talk to warmists is so that I have to think about the ‘would you ignore your doctor’ type questions. There are good replies to most of the smug trip ups that warmists like to throw out but they’d be hard to remember when someone sticks a microphone under your nose. The most annoying of all is the suggestion that AGW is all or nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Oh dear, the consensologists have not called round as yet. I imagine that Lew thinks he is unassailable now. Maybe he is the next Serengeti target ™. I have ignored doctors, and the second opinions supported my scepticism. Medics have no short cut to truth, despite what inadequately qualified climate scientists say. It is basically an empirical trial and error thing. It is barely scientific. It is not much further on than chopping off a leg to stop gangrene progressing. Didn’t they do that to Tito and Andropov in the 1980s?state of the art science….. That is medicine.


  26. Tiny,

    Yes, I imagine the microphone under the nose is a completely different ball game and your wits, under pressure, more prone to deserting you. Maybe old-fashioned practice through repetition and drilling is the thing? Christopher Hitchens rarely let an argument go fully unchallenged/debunked (he slipped up against George Galloway in New York, though) and I bet he was the sort to mentally drill himself (as someone who thought learning poems off by heart was an important way of training the mind). Delingpole’s colleague Milo Yiannopolous also does well on tv seemingly through practice and repetition.

    Imagine if in that Nurse documentary it had been Jonathan Miller jousting with Nurse and his medical analogy – using your and Brad’s points, (and all the others pitched here https://cliscep.com/2016/04/24/dear-onco-analogists-your-imbecility-is-showing/ ) – Nurse would still be hunting for his legs. The clip would feature in a dozen viral #rekt videos, with the music and the sunglasses and spliff (forgotten what they’re called now, but you know what I mean.)

    I can talk. I can’t even remember what those videos are called.

    Edit: “Thug life” videos. Had to look it up.


  27. Steve McIntyre has just commented at Nick Brown’s website. All comments from us clisceppers have stayed up, as far as I can see. It would be great if TinyCO2 and others repeated some of the excellent comments they’ve made here at
    It seems to me important that someone like Nick Brown, who has achieved some fame as a layman challenging established science, should have the clearest possible idea of where we stand.

    Imagine yourself in his shoes, with evidence stacking up on his own website of the impossibility of his position. Something’s got to give.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Yes, it’s good to see Steve Mc commenting there – “particularly offensive”, “very disappointing and discouraging”. He says basically what I said yesterday, but it’s reassuring to have it confirmed from him.

    No responses to us yet from Nick Brown, or from any of the other authors, despite the fact that they seem to support “The Need for Vigorous Debate”, which is a little curious.

    Liked by 4 people

  29. Pingback: A Dummies’ Guide to ‘Debate, Denial and Doubt’ by Dummies, for Dummies | Climate Scepticism

  30. Geoff, I didn’t want to overload his comment section. He’ll either be interested and follow us here or he’s been brain washed by Dr Lew and Mickey and it won’t matter what we write or where. I’m sure that they’re typing ‘see, we told you they are all nuts’ right now.

    The paper is clearly part of Dr Lew’s plan to convince scientists not to dwell on the uncertainties in their work. Don’t listen to the nasty sceptics! He gets the others to wrap it up in fine ideals but he wants scientists to pull up the draw bridge (as if they were ever any different). What he doesn’t seem to appreciate is that they don’t rule the world. Ultimately other people get a say. If isolationism was working, there would be considerably higher acceptance of the science.

    The only warmist psych guy that I’ve come to respect is Dan Kahan. He keeps getting the right data, he just can’t understand it yet. But he always publishes what he gets, even though it doesn’t fit his model. He at least understands that the warmists can’t win by pissing off anyone who doesn’t believe in CAGW right now.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Is Jose Duarte a consensus supporter? Dan Kahan may eventually come to understand why sceptics think the way we do, even if he doesn’t agree with what we think. I can respect that. If CAGW is real, they’ll need to really understand scepticism and not listen to idiots like Dr Lew.


  32. Tiny:

    Kahan has come up with some great data (some of which I use myself) and putting all his workings up there at Cultural Cognition is admirable. But in higher analysis of this data in the climate domain, he introduces a hard prior that the consensus is correct, rather than letting the data itself speak as to which side is most ‘identity protective’, his (valid) means of determining whether a professed belief is more a matter of cultural defense than evidence. This assumption is so baked in I don’t know whether he’ll ever find a way around it, but I agree he’s doing lots of good things, so maybe in the future…

    As Brad notes Duarte believes in the climate consensus, and says this as to why:

    ‘”The reason I don’t buy skepticism is that I’m suspicious of overly convenient realities.”

    I replied at his blog:

    “which is the real heuristic here? The highly emotive ‘we’re all doomed unless [carte blanche for host of massive policies]’, or the effortful thinking around ‘we don’t know nearly enough’.”

    To his great credit this belief does not seem to have harmed his objectivity one iota, and so if he continues to be interested in the climate domain, maybe his inherent suspicion will turn to questioning the actual nature of the CAGW consensus one day. Whatever his conclusions, I figure that would be an investigation very well worth following 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  33. @TinyCO2 Many thanks for your refreshers on Lew’s creepy climb up the pseudo-credibility ladder – and on the disturbing 10:10 débacle. Your comments (and those of others) sent me off on a trip down my own blog-memory-lane.

    Back in the day when Lew was still climbing from his well-deserved obscurity, while letting his lies, dishonesty and mediocrity invariably shine through, one of the “cues” that subsequently surfaced – which you didn’t mention but which I believe is worth recalling – is that (as I had noted):

    Lewandowsky [claimed] that he was owed an apology by (amongst others) Steve McIntyre, because McIntyre (and others) had failed to find a 2010 E-mail invitation from Lewandowsky – that had made absolutely no mention of “Lewandowsky”, and in fact had been sent by his “assistant”, a Charles Hanich. Talk about chutzpah riddled with self-serving “revisionism”!

    And (fast forward to the present!) speaking of Steve McIntyre … I must first confess that while I was quietly lurking over at Nick Brown’s place, the thought did cross my mind that perhaps some were being perhaps a little too harsh in their attempts to enlighten a relative newbie to this particular battlefield.

    Having now read that SM had, in fact, provided Brown with ample evidence with which he could have informed himself, I must offer my apologies to all for such an undeserved thought on my part.

    My only hope, at this point in time, is that Brown’s current silence might suggest that he’s now taking the steps to better inform himself. Perhaps he’s even reading a long but much related – and well worth a full read, IMHO – article recently featured by Judith Curry, i.e.”Dan Sarewitz on Saving Science”

    But, notwithstanding any and/or all of the above … who knows what goes on behind closed screens, eh?!

    Liked by 3 people

  34. Tiny: ‘Dan Kahan may eventually come to understand why sceptics think the way we do…’

    P.S. you touch upon an absolutely critical question here, not just for the climate domain but for other domains too. What is the difference between inappropriate resistance to a promoted concept, and appropriate resistance to a promoted concept (i.e. skepticism)? What actually causes each, and are they or are they not related?

    Kahan is in the main coming at this from the ‘inappropriate’ side (easier to get a grip on that), with his identity protective defense. So, he has a theoretical base, which he tests in multiple domains, climate change domain being just one. Per above Diethelm and McKee (after Hoofnagle) utterly screw up a claimed test for the ‘inappropriate’ side that was supposed to work in any domain including CC, coming up with a seriously flawed concept of ‘denialism’ that in fact has no theoretical base whatsoever. Lew did some reasonable work on bias mechanisms and misinformation before jumping off the deep end into climate change and conspiracy ideation, noting from field tests that the ‘appropriate’ side, i.e. skepticism, is ‘the key to accuracy’ that helps folks resist systemic misinformation (ironic, huh?). As far as I recall, he also notes that you can issue information that sharpens skepticism, allowing it’s effect to be manipulated.

    I have my own perspective of course, but if anyone has the answer to the above questions yet, I haven’t come across them!

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Andy West “he introduces a hard prior that the consensus is correct”

    He comes from a deeper position that considers science to be the end product rather than the raw material. Climate science needed refining before it was dropped on the public, not as they go along. * If you think of it as a product, the concept might be brilliant but the public have got fed up seeing it fail and many won’t touch it with a barge pole. I’ve seen scientists and their supporters defend climate science ‘as the way science is done’. Well it may be but it’s a disaster as the basis of a multi zillion pound plan that might fail anyway. I could forgive them for pre 2009 incompetence but they learned nothing from being mightily embarrassed.

    * That doesn’t mean it has to be complete, it means that you are honest about the faults and have a plan to eradicate them.

    From my point of view, it doesn’t matter if the science is right (or partially). Its problem is the amateurish way it conducts itself. I was drawn to climate scepticism because of the whoppers I saw being told. The biggest being the ‘consensus’, a concept that clearly didn’t belong with such a novel, complex and expensive issue. Dr Lew and pals want the scientists to bolt the doors against the marauding public, but all they defend is their community, the science has to come out from the ivory tower where anyone can fight it or more damaging – ignore it. Far better to let the science get strong sparring with sceptics.

    Dr Lew thinks sceptics are a small band of obsessive loonies but everyone is a sceptic when it comes to how much we’re prepared to pay (money being the least part). Humanity is capable of the most amazing sacrifices but only when it knows the pain is absolutely necessary. Even climate scientists think less jet travel is a step too far. Gee, that’s some powerful evidence NOT.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Yes Hilary, Dr Lew has a long history of dodgy behaviour. His statistical abuses are nowhere near as weird as his less complicated actions. Asking his questions at warmist sites was clearly flawed. Like polling Jews at a neo nazi site. Sure, they may turn up and argue from time to time but it’s clearly hostile territory for them. Expecting 4 sceptic bloggers to remember the email from his assistant and link it to his name demonstrates self importance. He wrote that he deliberately used his assistant because thought people would remember him. And what? Know that he was trying to stitch us up? That suggests to me that he was even thinking of his own actions in those terms. As someone else has written, Dr Lew then proceeded to bait sceptics. Was it with a view to writing the next paper? How frustrating for him that his blatantly unethical behaviour got his paper withdrawn. If only he hadn’t included those names…

    Call me paranoid but I can’t help wondering if our comments will be used for his next paper. I wonder how his co authors would view that?

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Andy raises some interesting things WRT Kahan.

    Kahan replies to Sander L. van der Linden et al’s ‘The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change as a Gateway Belief: Experimental Evidence’ at PLosOne?

    It’s interesting because the GWB paper is a vindication, the authors claim, of ‘Consensus messaging’ — or consensus enforcement, depending which end you’re looking at it from. Kahan pops up in the comments, linking to his fuller reponse (‘re-analysis’)…

    As the re-analysis explains, the authors do not compare the responses of of the message-exposed subjects to the resposnes of the control group subjects on any variable *other* than “estimated percentage of scientists” who adhere to the consensus position on climate change.

    On key outcome variables–including belief in climate change & support for public action to mitigate climate change –message-exposed subjects did not revise their views to an extent that differed significantly, in statistical or practical terms, from the extent to which control-group subjects revised theirs.

    I also show that the authors’ structural equation model is clearly misspedified because it fails to examine whether there were experimental treatment effects on the posited “mediator” variables and whether the impact of the posited mediators on the outcome variable varied conditional on experimental treatment of the subjects (Muller, Judd & Yzerbyt 2005; Kraemer, Wilson, & Fairburn 2002).

    Lew’s favourite tool, Structural Equation Modelling — aka watch the pea — gets a pummeling in Kahan’s response paper, ‘The Strongest Evidence to Date…’: What the van der Linden et al. (2015) Data Actually Show.

    The first problem for the academic division of the Consensus Enforcers is that its own grasp of what the consensus is or isn’t seems weak. The second problem is that amongst that science’s own population, there seems to be no consensus about consensus messaging.

    In effect, the Gateway Belief paper seems to me a shallow attempt to justify a particular approach taken in the debate, so as to continue avoiding the debate, the 97% paper having failed to rouse the entire population’s climate anger to mobilise them towards supporting policy action.

    But I digress a bit. Andy points out that Kahan’s work has ‘a hard prior that the consensus is correct’ whereas Duarte’s position WRT the consensus, ‘does not seem to have harmed his objectivity one iota’. And it’s remarkable that it’s remarkable, if you see what I mean. Cog-scis intervening in the climate debate should be able to bracket the truth of claims from other domains.

    What is bizarre here is the spectacle of academics debating strategy in the debate, not an understanding of the debate.

    If research is about influencing the debate, one might think it would be enough to say, ‘okay, you can go down the gateway belief route if you want, but over here at cultural cognition campaign, we’re sticking with the attaching-the-climate-thing-to-other-things route’.

    It’s all ‘impact’ and no substance.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Ben,

    indeed. And as I keep telling Prof Kahan, even if consensus messaging were effective, that wouldn’t excuse its use, which is intrinsically immoral (because deceptive). If I invented a more effective form of napalm it wouldn’t suddenly become any less heinous. Since consensus means nothing in science, its continual invocation can only serve to miseducate the public into thinking it does mean something, at which point it becomes rather secondary whether the consensus happens to be “right” or not. You’re not allowed to trick people into believing something—even the truth—and call yourself a scientist.

    The argument doesn’t even penetrate as far as the first premise, alas. Kahan doesn’t get why “consensus means nothing.” Neither does José Duarte. Not coincidentally, they’re both worried about global warming.

    Their objection is that “if you can’t use consensus as a heuristic in science, then you have to personally repeat every experiment that’s ever been done from scratch.” It’s dispiriting how many people—on both ‘sides’—nod their heads sagely when they hear this fallacy.

    I’m open to ideas about how to most elegantly disabuse them of this confusion.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. When the evidence is good enough to justify a consensus, the science is good enough to not need it. There are loads of things they could do instead of prate on about a consensus but they’re fundametally too lazy and too arrogant to learn.


  40. Agreed, except the evidence doesn’t even need to be particularly good to justify (or produce, or attract) a consensus. Consensuses have occurred in all sorts of conditions, including the absence of evidence (e.g. the consensus against the possibility of quasicrystals). As Jo Nova told me, a scientific consensus (to the extent anyone has ever measured it) is more reliable as a proxy for funding than it is for physical reality.


  41. Yes, Brad, I noticed that two of the most notorious irrelevancies showed up and said nothing relevant to the topic of the post. They have taken to doing that recently. It looks rather silly and make them look like they are playing ClimateBall.

    Liked by 2 people

  42. David, yep, and against Laurie Childs’ good advice I rose to the bait and berated a certain igneous camp follower of Anders and Sou on the irrelevance and tediousness of its comment. Still in moderation.


  43. Interesting thoughts on the recognition / nature of consensus. My own tuppence worth:

    A consensus is an emergent social mechanism for creating common action in the face of the unknown, or at least the highly uncertain. In general, the more emphatic and socially enforced (peer pressure, emotive biases, rewards, gatekeeping, etc or even direct force), and complex is the consensus, the more uncertain is the scenario it aspires to address. Powerful and detailed religious consensuses masking the unknowns of origin and purpose are the classic examples. In this sense, not only is (per Brad) no evidence needed for a consensus, for a strong one you’d expect the evidence to be weak at best. The very weight of enforcement in the climate consensus speaks to the high uncertainty it masks.

    A near universal acknowledgement of long proven principles observed via evidence countless times, e.g. the basic principles of natural selection, and notwithstanding many secondary mechanisms and complexities that are still unknown, is also termed a (scientific) consensus. Yet this doesn’t have significant social enforcement, there is no need, as Tiny notes the facts are manifest. The social psychologists mistake the climate consensus for one of these, when in fact it belongs in the paragraph above.

    Natural selection is defended in the public arena (against creationists). This is not consensus policing, it is resistance to a cultural alternative. CAGW is defended in the public arena too, and social psychologists mistake this for a similar scenario. Their assumption is that ‘deniers’ are offering the cultural alternative. There are two ways to test the truth of this. 1. test which side within the public arena has the greater *cultural* based support (there are domain independent tests). 2. for supposedly scientific consensuses such as the natural selection principle and calamitous AGW principle, don’t just look at the public arena but see whether heavy social enforcement happens inside the scientific community itself, inclusive of the large range of mechanisms such as emotive biases etc. via which this occurs. Anecdotally: for evolution largely no, for CAGW largely yes.

    Kahan will never stop the consensus messaging. It is to some extent itself an emergent effect, which helps to give the impression that orthodox climate science is not socially enforced, but is a universal acknowledgement of long proven principles.

    However, persuading the social psychologists of this runs into a major problem as noted by Ben. They are not approaching this from the PoV of just one more domain to apply their tools to. But from the starting premise that climate orthodoxy must be true, and a full belief in it themselves. Hence their effort is immediately diverted into a) what must be ‘wrong’ with active skeptics plus stigmatizing them, and / or b) how best to communicate the ‘truth’ to an unexpectedly large number of passive but obstinate skeptics in the general public (so, strategy). This new Lewandowsky et al is a stigmatization job; real debate is fine if those pesky deniers would just go away.

    All the strategization is no better than missionaries figuring out the best way to persuade natives to the faith. Kahan attempts more (great!), actually deploying techniques used elsewhere to look at the fundamentals. Yet his type 1 test per above is still short-circuited by his hard baked prior, i.e. because climate orthodoxy must be true, the supporting side cannot (largely) be exhibiting identity protective behavior – hence given the polarization it *must* be the opposing side doing this. And his conclusion is despite some very odd consequences of such a force-fitting.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Tempting as it is to pile in and point out the idiocies of the comments (for example ‘magma’ not realising that the criticisms of the paper have nothing to do with climate science, despite the fact that Geoff has explicitly pointed this out), I am inclined to agree with the suggestion of Laurie over there and Tiny here that we should not pile in with excessive numbers of comments at Nick’s blog.


  45. Especially as Nick brown is not engaging in any form of debate on the substance of those comments. It’s just an opinion showcase. Magma’s comment is particularly moronic. Brown has pointed out in his paper that he is sceptical of the validity of climate models for informing policy, but there is Magma, pointing out that AGW science is settled, thus explaining the ‘vehemence of contrarians’ who are reduced to pounding the table rather than quoting facts. You couldn’t make it up.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. As the guy’s mentioned, he’s off on his holidays. No point trying to engage someone in that mode. Let’s see what happens when he gets back.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. PAUL MATTHEWS says:25 Aug 16 at 8:23 am

    Agree. There’s plenty over there to chew on. And if it’s not chewed on anyhow, piling more will not help and would probably hinder.


  48. Well I can’t take it back now hehehe. (Nobody else needs to say anything about Magma, as I covered all the points you’ve raised.) But Laurie was right, and you guys are right to have the Gandhi-like forbearance I lack.


  49. Dikran the wombat/kangaroo has now hopped/waddled into the fray, accusing us of encouraging harassment of Ken by mentioning Ken’s real name, which is Ken. Don’t ask me how that works. No clucking fue.

    In the course of this paranoid ideation, Dikran introduces the hilarious notion that he’s concealing his own name in order to ensure a fair fight:

    “Academics that post anonymously or pseudonymously (in my case) often have good reasons for doing so (for instance so that their arguments have to stand on their own merits, rather than on the academics [sic] reputation…”

    Right, because if we knew how many years Dikran had spent at university we’d be awed into overestimating the cogency of his reasoning. After all, if we skeptics are famous for anything it’s our unquestioning respect for credentialism. ROFL monoamine oxidase.

    Or maybe it’s because he’s writing about ethics:

    “…or because they are writing on a topic that it outside their field of direct expertise,”

    Yes, I can see why that would grant a moral licence to dissimulate. Wouldn’t want the muggles to know you were speaking whereof you kneweth not, eh Professor Marsupial?

    Or maybe it’s a third reason he can’t think of right now, so we’re supposed to imagine it for ourselves:

    “… etc.).”

    How, how am I supposed to not make fun of this? You people are asking me to show superhuman restraint in the face of such low-hanging fruit.


  50. Brad, yes, off-topic whining about that, the day after Nick had requested:
    “it would be nice if everyone could stay on-topic, which as far as I’m concerned is the article that appeared last week, rather than third-order discussions about historical episodes in a particular debate.”


  51. Or that if everyone knew was Dikran was actually also Gavin Cawley – part of the Skeptical Science – Crusher Crew -… where they just pile on when mates are being criticised. not very organised.. but a player.


  52. Barry, Having seen Cawley in action, I think he is really a short hitter. His ideas about model validation and falsification are just hopelessly impractical. He is really rather arrogant too in his tone of condescension and certainly machine learning is not even related to climate science, modeling, CFD, or any other relevant field.


  53. My favourite climate freak is Jeff Harvey, who is keen to let us all know how devoid he is of knowledge and reasoning skills over at the Deltoid open threads. Loads of publications, loads of kudos, almost zero brain power and self-awareness


  54. Is Jeff Harvey the insect economist (or something) who bursts a temporal artery if you accidentally call him an entomologist, when any sane person would feel flattered to have his systems-science credentials mistaken for a real scientific career?


  55. No idea, Brad but here is an example of his “thought” processes from the August 2016 open thread:

    “Capitalism, or at least the current incarnation of it, is destroying our ecological life support systems at a terrifying rate while pursuing global policies aimed primarily at rewarding transnational elites. TPP, TTIP and other alleged trade agreements like NAFTA (they are not actually trade agreements but aim to ensure investors rights) are just the latest nails in the coffin aiming to ensure that our political systems serve the proper masters.

    Thanks to your vapid ignorance, Stu2, I even assigned one of my Master’s students a literature review and essay to define the term ‘civilization’ and to evaluate whether our allegedly democratic countries are really ‘civilized’, focusing on ourvexploitation if natural systems across the biosphere in terms of sustainability. Given that the current dominant political-economic system us responsible for driving a mass extinction event along with climate change and other environmental destruction, actions that threaten our future survival, I think it’s clear that the developed world leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to being ‘civilized’. My student ID very excited about the assignment and I think there is every chance that a revised version can be published in a peer reviewed journal. ”

    Liked by 1 person

  56. Another gem (I won’t be posting any more):

    “The World Scientists Warning to Humanity, published to coincide with the World Biodiversity Summit in 1992, and signed by over 70% of the living Nobel Laureates at the time, starkly argued that humans and the natural world are on a collision course. The document went on to state that urgent changes were needed to avoid the dire consequences of this collision. “


  57. Same old message. We must act, for if we don’t act (or rather, if we don’t all act the same way), our activities will break the natural order. Our inaction got us into this mess, which we caused by our activities. The time for inactivity is over.

    Liked by 1 person

  58. I guess that the next time a consensologist tells us that “catastrophic” never appears in “The Science” ™, we could refer them to the blogging of Jeff Harvey


  59. MIAB

    absolutely. That denier strawman (“Catastrophic”) has even been known to crop up in some IPCC assessment report headings.

    They do hate to be held to account for their own hypothesis though, don’t they.

    (Memo to all: it’s consensuologist, consensualist, etc. With a U.)

    Liked by 1 person

  60. I wonder just how many Nobel prizes for climate change have been handed out – apart from the one to Al Gore. If it’s true that 70% of living laureates signed the paper, then I imagine that some signatories must have come from the Peace, Literature and Physiology categories. There are only 6 categories and surely they cannot all have come from Physics, Chemistry and Economics and nor would all prize-winners know anything about the nonsense spouted by Harvey.


  61. Tiny,

    “The paper is clearly part of Dr Lew’s plan to convince scientists not to dwell on the uncertainties in their work.”

    Are you adamant? I can’t be positive, but I’m pretty sure he wants to *exaggerate* the tenuous tendentiousness of the bow they’ve drawn. The more gaping the uncertainties, the more compelling the message—remember?

    It’s just maffmatics, innit?


  62. Tiny, this is such an important observation:

    “I know that this issue is a bit off topic but it’s an illustration of how old the climate debate is and how much people like Nickolas Brown may have missed if they were never involved. ”

    If you (or someone else) undertook the task of writing a history of the debate for the uninitiated—not a sarcastic one like mine but a serious educational tool—you’d be doing a great mitzveh. I’ve always believed that the best way to deprogram cultists would be to remind them of the contradictory path that led us to this absurd pass. Their faith depends on their amnesia.


  63. I’m just wondering if the Ken Rice Gavin Cawley incarnation of the denier town crier is almost played out. Both seem a lot more measured in their comments recently and have been very ineffective wherever they have appeared it seems to me. All they do is make irrelevant and vague statements or else whine about not being effectively anonymous anymore and the constrains that might impose on their otherwise less civilized behavior.

    Liked by 2 people

  64. Nick Brown is going to close comments on his blog this Sunday, because moderating comments is taking up too much of his time. LOL, with 57 comments already (plus at least one more in moderation – from me) I think he has been blown away by the response. Most of his other infrequent blog posts attracted no comments or just a handful.

    Liked by 2 people

  65. Jaime, That thread of comments is an illustration as what I see as the new kinder/gentler version of the Rice/Cawley team.


  66. Hopefully Brown will take those comments with him on a long vacation and seriously consider them.


  67. Brad Keyes “Are you adamant? I can’t be positive, but I’m pretty sure he wants to *exaggerate* the tenuous tendentiousness of the bow they’ve drawn. ”

    One of his previous papers or discussions was about how we (sceptics) had introduced the pause into scientists’ vocabulary by intimidation. The suggestion being that it never existed. Even Dr Betts balked at that suggestion. Of course GISS has eradicated it and HADCRUT4 is fast catching up but there must be a certain amount of nervousness that those adjustments are artificial and just postpone the point where they have to admit the temperatures haven’t risen much. Dr Lew hangs out with those who have pushed the high sensitivity track and he assumes that they are the consensus.

    Exaggerating was ok, when scientists expected the planet to catch up with their claims. Now it’s looking like a risky plan. That’s one reason why the ‘consensus’ has dropped out of favour. It takes away wiggle room but Dr Lew hasn’t twigged why it’s not popular and keeps banging on about it.

    Liked by 2 people

  68. Brad Keyes “undertook the task of writing a history of the debate for the uninitiated”.

    I had a go writing why people become sceptics but it reached 14 pages and even I was bored. I could send what I’ve got so far and someone could have a go editing it.


  69. Sure, let’s see it. I bet it’s not as boring as you modestly suggest!

    But what I had in mind was less of a personal history and more of a detached (and unavoidably somewhat ironic) overview of the “public” history of the debate. Your second-last comment raises a perfect example of why it’s sorely needed: Lew is trying to rewrite history by asking people to forget that the “pause” was already in the lexicon before we evil skeptics could possibly have concocted it. It’s an audacious ask, but there is no opposing view—nobody is insisting on historical reality—so he gets away with it. If that makes sense.

    He who controls the past controls the present, and all that.

    Liked by 1 person

  70. The issue is so big, it has books about small sections (eg Hide the Deline by the Bish). Most of the pages including the comments, at the top blogs are all history. Archiving them in multiple places would be the best record. History written by hundreds of hands from hundreds of places.


  71. I forgot about those episodic histories. Great point.

    What I don’t fully share is your optimism about the efficacy of distributed history. Yes, it’s all out there. And those of us who want to know it can find it. But how do we break through the studied incuriosity of someone who doesn’t? It would seem to me that giving them a book for Christmas that tells the story from sordid beginning to sordid end would be more powerful than sending them the URL of our favorite blog and suggesting that they binge-read it in chronological order.


  72. To be clear, I can’t doubt you’re right that distributed history—the narrative cloud—is “the best record” we can humanly hope for. It’s a richer record than any previous generation ever left behind.

    But I’m thinking from the point of view of a deprogrammer of cult members, not a scholar of history.


  73. I’m not sure that the history of the debate, what there is of it, is particularly edifying until you are already a sceptic. The actions of Dr Lew, while shocking are important only in respect that they’re a (probably unplanned) distraction from how little new stuff is coming out of the real science community. What is key about Al Gore is that he’s never successfully updated his now thoroughly incorrect movie. What was so staggering about Emma Thompson’s Newsnight* interview was that after so many years waving the CAGW flag, the staff of the BBC have no picture in their mind what the science really says. I’ve seen someone on TV quote the IPCC report and not only did nobody seem to know what that was, they thought it was the work of deniers. Dr Lew clearly thinks the IPCC report has been watered down, whereas the opposite is true. What Dr Lew sees is the removal of stuff that was embarrassingly wrong. Why are sceptics the only people to have objected to grey literature in that ‘world class’ report? Who couldn’t see that including a references to a climbing magazine and a schools leaflet was wrong? All those things are relatively trivial, but it’s the sheer weight of them that is so amazing.


    Here the idiots are crowing that man made CO2 has been affecting climate a lot longer than previously thought. Ha, if that was true and since 85% of man made CO2 has been emitted since 1950, it would mean that CO2 is having a rapidly diminishing effect. Either that or that our ‘natural’ temperature would still be stuck in the Little Ice Age and even slipping deeper into a real one. Why is it that so few people can make that connection?

    *Edit – Newsnight, not Newsweek

    Liked by 1 person

  74. Pingback: Week in review – science edition | Climate Etc.

  75. Barry,

    Jussim is wrong about one thing: something has corrupted Lewandowsky, but it’s not a “high moral purpose.”

    There’s nothing moral about “help my mates lie with impunity by pathologizing anyone who complains.”


  76. As Nick’s blog has closed the thread there, I thought I’d respond to one last point here, where David can read it.

    David Young wrote “Ken Rice and Gavin Cawley have a history of publicly advocating the idea that modern science is just fine and not in need of reforms.

    What I actually said was “The BEST [DM Note the instrumental GMST datasets have been independently replicated, including a by a group of skeptics] answer to such concerns is for people to go out and do the replication and publish journal papers, data and code (rather than just write about it on bogs). Note the code for NASA climate models and climate data are available, so that is all replicable, and there are others [DM note this was not a specific suggestion that anyone should go and do something with it, just pointing out that the replication ‘crisis’ is overstating things as there are plenty of models/data available that nobody does anything with!]. There is no “crisis”, just sub-optimality AFAICS.

    I clearly didn’t say that science is “Just fine”, and I don’t think “Just fine” is a fair paraphrase of “sub-optimality”. Science is not “just fine” and there are reforms that would be of benefit. I think making code/data available is a good thing to do, and have gone on record as saying so, but the costs involved need to be met (and often this goes against the pressure Universities [and Met Offices] also receive to exploit their IP to reduce the load on the tax-payer). There is a fair bit of ground between “Just Fine” and “Crisis”, and I don’t think hyperbole either way makes for a reasonable discussion of the issue, and nor does inaccurately paraphrasing someones position.


  77. > As Nick’s blog has closed the thread there ….

    Remarkable. The co-author of the paper calling for a robust public debate has closed the thread without responding to any of the issues raised or answering any of the questions. Blog post on this coming soon.


  78. Thanks for contributing, Dikran. You suggest the existence of a dilemma around ownership of code/data. It seems you’re positing a societal choice between expensive, not-for-profit, open science and less expensive, for-profit, mystery-meat science.

    I know which one I want our universities to do. Not just as a general principle, but particularly in the case of climate, where the cost to society could last generations if Teh Science gets the wrong answer and nobody’s able to audit it.

    Frankly I don’t see the dilemma. If a vice-chancellor receives the pressure you allude to and she doesn’t feel comfortable telling whoever’s pressuring her to take it and shove it where Trenberth’s missing heat is hiding, she has no business running a university. If she lacks the balls to defend the transparency that’s at the heart of public science, she’s in the wrong line of work.

    Liked by 2 people

  79. Brad Keyes “Frankly I don’t see the dilemma.” the dilemma is for society to decide what they want and how much they want to pay for it (and whether they want to pay for open research that is potentially then exploited by other nations) rather than for academia. You may want climate data to be made available (and much of it is), but you might have a different view on commercially exploitable IP in microelectronics (for example), so I don’t think a “one size fits all” approach is workable. Deciding which fields should be exploited and which should be made maximally open is for the government to decide in my opinion, rather than VCs, as it is the government to decide how tax-payers money should be used, and the reasons for making climate data/models available in particular is largely political (not that anyone tends to do anything with it when it is available, as I pointed out the NASA GISS models and data have been available for years).


  80. Brad, OK, I don’t so much object to Nick Brown closing the thread. Particularly in view of the fact that after he specifically asked people stay on topic, “it would be nice if everyone could stay on-topic, which as far as I’m concerned is the article that appeared last week, rather than third-order discussions about historical episodes in a particular debate”, UEA academic Gavin Cawley blatantly ignored his request, preferring to whine about historical episodes relating to pseudonyms.

    My concern is closing the thread without attempting to answer any of the points – the hypocrisy of calling for a debate but failing to take part in it.


  81. Paul Matthews “UEA academic Gavin Cawley blatantly ignored his request, preferring to whine about historical episodes relating to pseudonyms.”

    Actually it was the episodes of anonymity/pseudonymity that ocurred earlier in that particular thread. I was making a valid point, relating to the paper, respecting anonymity/pseudonymity is likely to foster constrictive critical engagement, disrespecting anonymity/pseudonymity is likely to discourage constructive critical engagement (for the reasons I pointed out are mentioned in Nick’s paper). As I related this directly to something Nick wrote in the paper, and I was referring to something posted earlier in the thread, I’d say it was on-topic.


  82. OK, but if we assume the best about him (i.e. that he was incredibly naive when he got into bed with a certain pair of syphilitic whores), then he’s gotta be be reeling from the unexpected hydrant of new information and perspectives, which makes it harder to blame him for opting to keep his mouth shut until such time as he can do some introspection and rediscover his footing in the debate, if any, if ever.

    Sure, he might disappoint us by never acknowledging anything he learnt from the experience. Or he might not.

    Call me an incurable optimist….

    Liked by 2 people

  83. I too think he deserves the benefit of the doubt for now. I also think he was surprised by the response he got. How many people realise the amount of passion there is about climate under the radar? He has the potential to jump either way. He might be emailing Lew and saying ‘I see what you mean, they pile on with very little provocation’ or he might be thinking ‘why are these articulate people so involved with a debate we are told is over?’


  84. Gavin C., I do appreciate you going on the record here and thank you for clarifying your position. My inference of your position was based on reading comments at Ken Rice’s where Ken has steadfastly refused to say anything specific except “there may be problems in medicine but they don’t affect physics”. Aside from publicly available data, what sort of reforms do you favor? What do you think is problematic about climate science, if anything?

    We I think disagree about how serious the issues with modern science are. My views are a result of 40 years of first hand experience in the field of CFD and my brother’s intimate knowledge of the medical crisis. I have a post on this issue that hopefully I will publish soon here going into great technical detail and very carefully sourced from the literature.

    I also think that paleoclimatology is a sad case and Steve McIntyre has done good work in exposing the poor track record. I also believe that numerous other incidents in climate science indicate the same problem. One obvious one was the use of uniform priors in estimating sensitivity. That seems to have been acknowledged now by most people, but blogs played a key role in the change. There is also a problem in the GCM area as well. The difficulty of the enterprise means I think the model groups themselves must step up and do most of the work and it seems they are going to do so given the recent model tuning paper.

    We also have some papers on this topic and I do detect some progress in CFD. So we are trying to make a difference in whatever forums are available. Being banned by Ken Rice, even while he stated at Judith’s that I was not banned is not helpful.


  85. Brad, Gavin’s point shows another of the serious problems in academia needing reform. Universities over the last 30 years have to a surprising extent become soft money machines. Promotion and compensation practices strongly reward the entrepreneur academic who builds a large group of students and postdocs while getting money from outside the academic system. There is also an attempt to monetize intellectual property. The evils inherent in this change cannot be overstated. It is perhaps worst at the best universities too. We have very real problems with top academics who are the most successful at empire building producing bad work that is not reproducible.


  86. David Young wrote “My inference of your position was based on reading comments at Ken Rice’s where Ken has steadfastly refused to say anything specific except “there may be problems in medicine but they don’t affect physics”

    It is probably better not to infer when assigning a position to others, as it is likely that your inference will not represent their true position, especially if you extrapolate. If ATTP said that the problems in medicine don’t affect physics, then by and large I would agree with him. One of the reasons for this is the commercial exploitation of IP in medicine that doesn’t affect large parts of physics (what profit is there to be made from e.g. cosmology?). Medicine also has the problem of variability in the subjects of trials, which make firm conclusions difficulty to draw, especially with the journals desire to publish only high impact studies (which means it is difficult to publish a negative result in a good quality journal, which then has impact on the way the researchers work is assessed…). Physics doesn’t have those problems.

    “Aside from publicly available data, what sort of reforms do you favor?”

    Mostly to do with funding, firstly there needs to be more of it, and I personally would rather more of it went in responsive mode grants and fellowships, but I have no real evidence that it would be the right thing to do.

    “What do you think is problematic about climate science, if anything?”

    The main problems with climate change are nothing to do with the science. Mike Hulmes book on “Why we Disagree about Climate” is well worth a read. It doesn’t say anything terribly surprising, but it sets out the issues clearly. The main problem AFAICS is that there are too many skeptics who complain about the science set out in the IPCC reports, but when the data are made available they don’t do anything with it, but keep on complaining. At the end of the day, there is no substitute for publishing in peer reviewed journals (c.f. Nic Lewis).

    ” Being banned by Ken Rice, even while he stated at Judith’s that I was not banned is not helpful.”

    I don’t think you have been banned at ATTPs, perhaps you should send him an email to the contact address given on the blog.


  87. “The main problems with climate change are nothing to do with the science.” dikranmarsupial

    In your opinion. Climate science is more like psychology (a step or six down from medicine) than physics.


  88. Gavin, Increased funding is unlikely nor will it in my opinion make any difference. One source of the problem in my opinion is the tremendous growth of the academic and science workforce over the last 30 years. There has been a tremendous proliferation of journals, many of them of little value. All those people have to justify their positions and the resulting competition creates incentives for dishonesty, and there is evidence that misconduct is increasing. Further, many studies are shaded toward a desired result as you perhaps realize. I can send you some references if you want some evidence of the depth of the problem.

    Blaming the profit motive for problems is a classic favorite of those on the left, but not really honest. The problems in science go far deeper and penetrate especially nonprofit think tanks and NGO’s and not for profit universities and government agencies.

    I actually think that Rice’s formulation about physics is really wishful thinking. Perhaps physics itself is not so bad, but climate science is a very long way from physics and I fell may be very bad. Even cosmology I think may rely heavily on CFD and Rice’s comments indicate he has an unrealistic view of the accuracy and value of such simulations for turbulent flows. Generally, there is tremendous overconfidence in CFD simulations especially among relative outsiders who may just “run” the codes. This penetrates many fields from cosmology to climate science to aeronautics to engineering.

    Trotting out the usual witches (skeptics) to blame as the worst problem in climate science is silly. Your fascination with “rebutting” them is largely an unproductive activity and changes nothing. Nic Lewis has shown that a lot of the previous work was not very reliable and his work is good. It has finally caused the kind of debate that was long overdue. We still in my view have a terribly dysfunctional paleoclimate community and one that is politically motivated.

    Any thought that GCM’s can be replicated by outsiders is also wishful thinking. The codes are too complex and the modelers must do it themselves. If people continue to apologize for them and claim there are not problems, they will not be motivated to do so. Any honest appraisal of the climate science community shows that they have been very defensive and even tried to obfuscate progress. It would be nice if you would become a stronger advocate for reform of science generally. You seem to be unaware of some of the evidence or else to be ignoring it. I’d be happy to help out here. There is plenty of easily accessible evidence.


  89. DM: “The main problem AFAICS is that there are too many skeptics who complain about the science set out in the IPCC reports . . . ”

    Nope. The main problem is the interpretation (political spin) and emphasis put upon the science in IPCC reports. The main problem is the science which is left out of the IPCC reports.


  90. David Young wrote “There has been a tremendous proliferation of journals, many of them of little value” I’d certainly agree there.

    “Trotting out the usual witches (skeptics) to blame as the worst problem in climate science is silly.”

    You are missing the point. If there are problems with the science, then those that disagree with the science need to do something about it, rather than just complain. They need to do the analysis, they need to publish papers. Nic Lewis actually provides an example of my point, he does the analysis, he writes the papers, his work has influence. It wasn’t blog articles that did it, it was the analysis and the papers.

    “Your fascination with “rebutting” them is largely an unproductive activity and changes nothing.”

    I don’t have a “fascination” with rebutting, it is a normal part of science and by and large the way science most often makes progress (at least between Kuhn’s paradigms). The main reason I have written a few rebuttals of flawed arguments is because I want the public discussion of climate change to be well informed and not spend time on ideas that can be shown to be incorrect. If this is an unproductive activity that changes nothing, then that is rather an indictment of those that hold the views being rebutted.

    As it happens, one of the reforms that would be good for science is to write more comments papers (what is the point of replicating if you don’t rigorously demonstrate it doesn’t work if that is what you find) and give incentives for it.

    “Any thought that GCM’s can be replicated by outsiders is also wishful thinking. The codes are too complex and the modelers must do it themselves.”

    You don’t have to rewrite the GCM, you can take the code and analyse it, and were there are modules that you think can be improved on then you can modify or rewrite those modules and slot them back in. One useful activity that wouldn’t need any rewriting would be to see how a GCM could be tuned to explain historical climate without GHG forcing and see if it can be done with parameterisations that are not obviously unphysical. But nobody has tried this experiment, even though the code and data are available.


  91. ” If there are problems with the science, then those that disagree with the science need to do something about it, rather than just complain. They need to do the analysis, they need to publish papers. ”

    No, actually we don’t. Any more than we have to design a better toaster if we discover that it’s faulty. We are the consumer, scientists are the purveyors. Since the scientists refuse to improve their product, we’re refusing to buy it.

    Liked by 2 people

  92. David Young “Blaming the profit motive for problems is a classic favorite of those on the left, but not really honest.”

    I don’t think anyone was blaming the profit motive, as I said I don’t think there is any “one size fits all” solution, in some fields commercial exploitation of IP seems a legitimate academic activity AFAICS, in some fields a more open “pro bono” approach is better. I have no real objection to met offices being required to maximise the value of their IP (e.g. data) provided that society views the reduction in the cost of running the met office as a reasonable recompense for the lack of open availability of their data (you can’t have your cake and eat it). If society changes its mind about these things, then of course change needs to follow, but neither approach is inherently right, AFAICS, it is a matter of pragmatic compromise.


  93. May I just say how refreshing and civilised I have found this discussion to be, compared to those in which ATTP participates. Thank you dikranmarsupial (and the others involved too).

    Liked by 1 person

  94. I second Marks point and thank Gavin for a good exchange. I will be pursuing this issue of bias in CFD and hope you will read and comment on my post when it is ready.

    Best Regards


  95. Yes Dikran, I agree that the problems with monetizing IP are a particular problem at Universities where this kind of thing is becoming a requirement for faculty to advance. Its not really the profit motive, but some strange bug that has infected University administrators and boards. It really distorts research. I have seen this particularly at MIT and Stanford where the propaganda is just over the top about their methods and codes. It retards progress and convinces laymen that CFD is a “solved problem.” It is really very dishonest to do this and I would argue pretty close to misconduct.

    Liked by 1 person

  96. BTW, We have tried to replicate some of these methods and the result is a complete failure. But the papers imply or say that things are great. It is shameful and a disservice to science and the public.

    Liked by 1 person

  97. “Yes Dikran, I agree that the problems with monetizing IP are a particular problem at Universities where this kind of thing is becoming a requirement for faculty to advance. ”

    That isn’t what I actually said. In some departments commercial exploitation of IP is appropriate, and in such cases it is a reasonable consideration for e.g. promotions committees, in other departments (e.g. cosmology) this is not the case and it shouldn’t be a requirement for advancement. Whether it is a problem depends on whether it is appropriate for the particular academic.

    “BTW, We have tried to replicate some of these methods and the result is a complete failure.”

    Then publish. One of the reasons that I think comments papers rebutting incorrect scientific ideas is important is that it should be part of the quality control process that helps science to be self-correcting. If you know that if you publish something that you know doesn’t work very well that there is a good chance that someone will publicly point it out in the literature, then that will tend to make you want to delay publication until you can demonstrate properly that it does work in a way that is hard to refute. Getting past peer review ought to be only the first step to acceptance of an idea, it certainly isn’t the last.


  98. Dikran, I disagree to some extent about the IP issue for Universities. It is rarely a good idea. We have one collaborator at MIT who does “sell” his codes, but the fee is very small and to those who promise to use them in important work, its free. That was the normal model 50 years ago in academia. There are others at MIT who as I say use propaganda to get soft money and whose codes simply don’t work. But they have the graduate students, the soft money and access to the top managers and funding agencies.

    Your proposed solution of publishing a note is not going to really work in general because the problems are structural. There is no funding usually for these replication studies and the reception is often hostile. It is simply easier for administrators and managers to try to avoid conflict and say “so what if there is a wrong paper out there? People will figure it out.” So the wrong paper (or as is often the case, scores of wrong papers) stays out there and some people continue to be fooled. I did publish a note once in a particularly egregious case and received nothing but criticism for doing so. The target of the note was very offended that I would do this. However, it really was an open and shut case technically.

    What is needed are structural reforms. And that is where you seem to me to be adopting the position of apologist for the current system. It’s a little like saying “If global warming is a problem, you just need to bicycle to work, turn your heat down, and set a good example.” It’s a delaying tactic in your terminology to avoid facing the problem effectively.


  99. Dikran,

    ‘“BTW, We have tried to replicate some of these methods and the result is a complete failure.”

    Then publish.’

    Sincere question: What’s in it for them if they do? It sounds like a thankless effort.


  100. Pingback: “The Need for Vigorous Debate” | Climate Scepticism

  101. dikranmarsupial – ” If there are problems with the science, then those that disagree with the science need to do something about it, rather than just complain.”
    The naivete here is incredible. After forty years, there isn’t any science .This isn’t environmentalism; the Malthusian organization that published the fact that they thought up the scam to get rid of people did that in 1972. Lewandowsky and Mann are .very well-paid psychopathic scam artists. Lewandowsky’s profession is perception manipulation. Don’t waste time on them. They’re in the same category of NWO brainwashing as the Soros-funded Ferguson riots. They’re selling 11,000 holocausts through a banker’s scam, and Rockefeller’s Club of Rome published the fact that they made up the idea of AGW to accomplish this in “The First Global Revolution”:

    Friday, July 15, 2011
    Edmund de Rothschild – World Wilderness Congress – The Global Environment Facility (GEF) – ‘Owning’ 30% Of The Earth – CO2 Is Now a Commodity
    Source: euro-med.dk

    “How Edmund de Rothschild Managed to Let 179 Governments Pay Him for Grasping Up to 30% of the Earth
    Summary: After Edmund de Rothschild’s statement, without basis, at the 4th World Wilderness Congress in 1987, that CO2 is the cause of a non-existent global warming – and that combating it needs money (our money), he founded the World Conservation Bank for this reason. In 1991 its name was changed to The Global Environment Facility (GEF). The purpose of this facility is to lend money to the poorest countries, printed by the IMF out of thin air, and with the guarantee of our governments. The facility takes wilderness areas with mineral riches as security. The GEF money is then to flow back to our governments as reimbursement for paid loans. I.e. We give away our tax money. For what? When a country cannot repay loans to the GEF it must give up a piece of its territory to the Rothschild banks (GEF, IMF, World Bank) – up to 30% of the Earth are meant. If land cannot be offered as collateral the country must starve (Haiti, Argentina and others). Rothschild´s stroke of genius was that he had his GEF smuggled into the UN system at the Rio UN Summit in 1992 by his friend, Maurice Strong.”
    think Edward Bernays
    AbelDanger July 15, 2011


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