Ongoing ignorance of experts 1

I’m going to try to divide this up into a series of reasonably digestible chunks, beginning with Dr Matthews’ clever ploy of mostly posting tweets. Let’s start with this guy on the first day of November:

Who had prompted that? This fellow:

The Canadian was comforted in his loss by his long-term collaborator:

What is Jacobson up to now? A meteorologist explains:

And that of course prompted Ridley’s comment.

I want to come back to the Enlightenment part. But McIntyre and McKitrick’s ridicule back in June is important to me in this week of remembrance and ties in with something that resonated in the run-up to the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik coup in Russia:

I agree with Benjamin and Dalrymple on the evil of communism in practice in enforcing humiliation (this came through to me strongly as a teenager in the writings of Richard Wurmbrand and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn) but I’d not seen anyone make the connection with the utter stupidities of climate consensus enforcement. (For which Geoff Chambers’ latest post provides a hilarious, typical yet tragic example.)

You need Nigel Lawson’s insistence on classifying climate moronity as a subset of political correctness, restated with force at the launch of Rupert Darwall’s new book at the House of Lords ten days ago, to fully appreciate the connection I guess. But for me humiliation is the common thread, for the purpose of control. How deeply it makes me appreciate all sceptics, those who refuse to conform.

I’m going to take Jacobson as a sample ‘expert’ but also Ridley. More on that pretty soon. Feel free to discuss anything that comes to mind as a result of this hasty first cut.


  1. Richard Should your title not be “[The] Ongoing Ignorance of SOME Experts? or have I missed something important? In making your argument you clearly accept and use the arguments of some experts. Personally I don’t accept that it is the words of experts that overwhelmingly dominate others, it’s the exercise of pure unadulterated power. Jacobson is not relying upon his words, he’s using power (via the courts). I haven’t looked it up, but I would imagine that some scientific controversies were settled by duel. Perhaps Jacobson’s suit can be considered a throwback. Certainly raw power was exerted by the Climategate Clan in their treatment of certain editors.

    BTW want my money back. My clip of powerful care bears doesn’t work. Are they renewables?


  2. My best hope is that the climate fanatics turn on each other and self expose tgeir anti science claptrap.
    This lawsuit is a small step in tgat direction.
    I hope the bloviating fanatics behind it are heard loud and clear.


  3. Figure 4 in the Clack paper

    says it all.

    The historical rates of installed electric-generating capacity per capita (watts per year per capita) for China, Germany, and the United States… It shows that the 100% wind, solar, and hydropower power plan requires installation of new capacity at a rate more than an order of magnitude greater than that previously recorded in China, Germany, or the United States. The rate would have to be continued indefinitely because of replacing generation as it aged.

    Well, it doesn’t really, because no-one will see it except us. The press, politicians and activists can go on ignoring reality, thereby keeping the public ignorant. That doesn’t make me feel humiliated and emasculated, possibly because the undoubted attempts to humiliate and emasculate in the Brexit and climate debates are not backed up with threats of summary execution and the Gulag.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Alan: My thesis, in line with Feynman, is that all experts are ignorant, including Feynman. It’s just that some handle it better than others. Wanna guess who I rate more highly of Jacobson and Ridley on that score? Plot spoiler, huh 🙂

    Hunter: I was struck as I scrolled through tweet streams about Jacobson by this:

    The revolution eats its own. That didn’t stop Stalin’s oppression though but cemented it. Which brings me to…

    Geoff: The lack of execution and Gulag is of course a crucial element not mentioned so far. I was going to, promise. But the inspiration of your relentless, reliable ridicule in the face of “attempts to humiliate and emasculate” was never more appreciated than as I penned these inadequate thoughts.


  5. ‘I haven’t looked it up, but I would imagine that some scientific controversies were settled by duel.’

    I had a google and this was the closest I could find:

    Two doctors disagreed about the best way to treat smallpox. One thought that patients should be given laxatives, the other that they should be made to vomit (preferably by tickling their tonsils with a feather). Their arguments got more and more heated until one day unforgivable insults were flung – ‘You, Sir, are too, too sick-making!’ ‘And you, Sir, are a big smelly poo!’ (or something like that) – and they got the swords out.

    It doesn’t really qualify, alas. The controversy certainly led to the duel but the duel wasn’t about settling the controversy. It wasn’t even a proper duel. Mead and Woodward hated each other personally, professionally and politically (Tory and Ancient versus Whig and Modern) and one day things got out of hand, is all.

    But it’s a fascinating story with several modern echoes – blog wars (and how to win them: ‘As the Book is unanswerable, nibble at the Style, and cavil with Words’), arrogant university-educated elites, humourless lefties versus chortling righties, publish or perish (‘Wagstaffe ridicules the anxious attempts…’) and the right and wrong way to conduct a scientific argument.

    Plus lots of scatology, a bit of geology and the surprising fact that Billingsgate was already a byword for salty language in 1719.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Vinny. Perhaps scientists were too logical to become involved in duels. The only one I could find was Tycho Brahe who lost his nose.


  7. Vinny and Alan: We leave this key research area in your capable hands!

    As for me, having gone to see The Death of Stalin around lunchtime, I felt the need at the end of Sunday to watch this morning’s Andrew Marr Show, to learn about the views of one impressive expert, James Dyson, on Brexit and electric cars, and the latest thoughts of Theresa May’s Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, who was once considered to have kicked off new vistas of expert scepticism. I feel the need for a little time to digest how the latest from re-imagined Moscow in 1953 and Westminster in 2017 may fit into my little series. Perhaps only a day. No delay is required for anyone else.


  8. Richard.
    “My thesis, in line with Feynman, is that all experts are ignorant, including Feynman. It’s just that some handle it better than others”.

    I suspect this particular space has more axes than you (and Feynman?) envisage. To degree of ignorance and how ignorance is handled there are other axes such as the degree of ignorance recognition and type of ignorance (extensive, minor, all encompassing, patchy, basic, details etc). One could also question if the “how ignorance is handled” axis is not multiple. Some of our favourite CAGW hucksters have low scores across the board.

    BTW good debating tactic getting Feynman on your side from the out.


  9. It would be interesting to observe the evidence that both sides in this Legal Dispute choose to rely on, about the reliability of the 100% dependability on the Renewable Energy claim.


  10. Twitter has suspended Owen Benjamin, meaning, strangely, that in my main post you can currently see his words but no longer his quote from Theodore Dalrymple:

    In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is…in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.

    I got that from Goodreads this time. Owen commented “Read this quote if you want to understand purpose of political correctness. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.” And now control has been exercised another way and he’s been disappeared from Twitter and YouTube. As he explains gamely on Facebook. The wiping out both of history and of future revenue is a strong stick we can give these sites to beat us, if we so choose.

    No doubt some of the language Benjamin used was offensive to those with whom he disagreed. But the cutting off of all history as a result is surely a bug not a feature, if these sites manage to think straight, even just about their own interests.


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