Concluding Thoughts on Polar-Bear-Gate and Censoring Opposing Thought

Update: Well, don’t you just hate it when Christmas cheer pre-empts the climate wars and amity breaks out like a rash… After my laments about censorship and taking the opportunity to get a bit self-righteous about it all, Bart published my comment and made a cordial response below. Thanks Hans Erren for pointing this out.

Bart Verheggen is an aerosol scientist who has maintained a weblog called ‘My View On Climate Change’ for about a decade. He is a staunch supporter of the climate consensus, but has always been friendly and amenable to conducting a vigorous debate in the comments section of his weblog.

He is also one of the authors of an execrable piece of junk science, a paper called “Internet Blogs, Polar Bears and Climate-Change Denial by Proxy.”

At Bart’s weblog is he busier than he probably wants to be defending the paper, with two posts here and here. Sadly, after a decade of open participation by all in discussion of climate science, Bart is now selectively deleting comments from his critics. Here’s one:

“Before I forget, Bart–Merry Christmas to you and yours!

On with the discussion, then.

1. What nobody has disputed is that among the authors of this paper are two gentleman who have produced a prodigious number of papers on polar bears. Those papers come to decidedly different conclusions than Dr.Crockford about the near and long-term health of the species.

2. Because their disagreement is related to climate change the dispute carried over into the blogosphere, with appropriate side choosing by different blogs.

3. One of the conceits of this paper is that the authors feel qualified to label publications as equivalent to denying the Holocaust occurred. This might possibly be taken as evidence that the authors are just a bit biased towards a certain outcome.

4. The two prolific authors who also participated in this exercise constitute the bulk of the consensus position. Weblogs that link to them are considered ‘science-supporting.’ Weblogs that link to Dr. Crockford’s work are considered ‘Denialister Spawns of Satan,’ or some such appellation. Again, it is easy to see how this might inspire criticism from the contrarians among us, or at least another paper from Dr. Lewandowsky (I can suggest a title–‘Re-Ursus Furry.’)

4. The charged nature of the climate change debate is a sufficient predictor of which side of the dispute between Crockford, Sterling and little in the way of mathematics is required to identify the different groups in advance. In any case, argumentation is assuredly circular–citing scientists who support one’s position being common to either side.

5. It is pernicious to use political labeling as an apparent result of a scientific investigation. Calling your opponents deniers does more than open yourself up to accusations of bias. It also denigrates and perhaps defames those you criticize. There has been a concerted effort for 12 years to associate those who dispute the consensus with those who denied the Holocaust occurred. A good portion of the conversation about the use of the word has occurred on this weblog. As you do not define the term it is just name-calling. As you characterized the weblogs prior to analyzing the polar bear issue, it amounts to using insults as confirmation bias.

6. I run (ran–it is mostly inactive) a weblog called The Lukewarmer’s Way. Would you, Bart (or did you) classify the blog as a denier blog? I ask because I discussed polar bears on occasion there. When I did so, I certainly tried to offer both sides of the issue for examination. One example from 2015: “The ‘consensus’ view is here, a skeptical view here and what may be a synthesis view here. Readers are warned that I personally believe each of those views are more political than anything else.” (https://thelukewarmersway.wordpress.com/2015/11/19/polar-bears-antarctic-ice-and-the-silence-of-the-lambs/)

7. As a lukewarmer, my reaction to the conclusion of your paper is pretty much ‘duh.’ Contrarians link to a contrarian position expressed by a scientist. Consensus supporters link to positions expressed by consensus scientists. The consensus group is larger than the contrarian group and is published more widely. Hence the consensus weblogs have a wider range of publications to refer to.

8. It appears clear that the decisions you reached in the formulation of your study prejudiced your examination, that the body of publications you researched is too small to support the types of mathematical analysis you attempted and that the paper suffers mightily as a result.

9. The fact that political supporters of your political point of view have arrived to insult their opponents is unsurprising, but hardly edifying.

Bart, I have harshly criticized this paper on your weblog and elsewhere. I have been (and remain) dumbfounded that someone I respect as much as I respect you could be associated with it. It eerily reminds me of Stephen Schneider’s association with Anderegg, Prall et al PNAS 2010. I would like you, if you have time, to explain your thinking about why you participated in this exercise.

Most importantly, again–Merry Christmas to you and your family.”

A confident consensus doesn’t need to suppress opposing points of view. The proprietor of a weblog certainly has the right to choose who gets to comment on their site. However, both readers and commenters surely deserve to know who is permitted (and more importantly who is forbidden) to comment.

internet-censorship

28 thoughts on “Concluding Thoughts on Polar-Bear-Gate and Censoring Opposing Thought

  1. Bart is showing evidence i having sold something that at one time he held in great value and may well do so again.

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  2. I think Harvey et al 2017 has provoked the response it was contrived to achieve.

    Is there a correlation with “approval” provided within the blogosphere to Gergis 2016 (and 2012)? Gergis 2016 has not been retracted, so the Consensus must support it, flaws and all.

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  3. Tom, I saw your excellent comment at Bart’s. Here’s my contribution there.

    One thing that is so striking about arguments like this is how small, petty, and largely irrelevant they are. They are part of a far larger consensus enforcement strategy that is deeply rooted in political and policy beliefs that are not really scientific. And that’s why it seems so out of place that seemingly serious scientists should be spending so much time on it. You know its petty when Willard has more comments on a thread than anyone else. Despite denial here about it, I think that’s largely what the criticism of Harvey et al is about too.

    Of vastly more importance (and thus not responded to by Climateballers) is the replication crisis in science and what should be done about it. There is a robust argument going on in the real world of science about peer review and open review journals. Climateballers simply double down on peer review and engage in the very denial they accuse others of. It’s petty and self-serving and mostly a waste of time.

    Of more importance are issues like the new work on aerosol forcing estimates, convection, and GCM’s. There are some relatively new and potentially negative results about the large influence of convection parameterizations and clouds on their projections. Zhou et al 2016 is very worthwhile for light reading. These results are not too shocking to experts on CFD, but definitely contradict the consensus enforcement doctrine about GCM’s. I even found a 2005 Real Climate post about aerosol forcing and its influence on energy balance methods of estimating ECS and essentially debunking a very alarmist Nature paper on the same subject. It foreshadowed some of Nic Lewis’ work which tends (outside the pigpen of Climateball) to lend it credence.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Setting aside the silly censoring – and Willard’s wonky woo (I can’t believe I read through that whole thread!) – in addition to the very valid points you’ve raised, Tom, I think there may be a few other factors which led to the generation of this particular “execrable piece of junk science”.

    These are perhaps best summarized by Susan in a video,The Death of a Climate Icon, which she did for the GWPF at the end of August. It’s a little over five minutes long and has had well over 17,000 views. If you haven’t seen it, it is well worth a watch:

    And while I’m here … Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2018 🙂

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  5. Sorry, hit send too soon … also meant to mention that it occurs to me that the timing of this particular “execrable piece of junk science” may be a too convenient for comfort distraction from two new books that the alarmists are probably not too happy about: Bernie Lewin’s Searching for the Catastrophe Signal and Rupert Darwall’s Green Tyranny: Exposing The Totalitarian Roots Of The Climate Industrial Complex

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That’s a fascinating comment thread over at Bart’s. One could almost write another blog post about it! In essence, it reveals rather more about the characters of the people commenting than the issue of whether Harvey et al is (or is not), a steaming pile of poo. I’d just like to quote a comment from Bart, quoting Roessingh, who was in turn responding to Richard Tol, who said that “I do not believe that your analysis or data support your conclusion”. I’m not sure what the conclusion is other than that Susan Crockford is a science-denier and that she is the ‘go-to person’ for science-denier blogs whenever they wish to try and refute the consensus position that global warming is melting sea-ice and seriously imperiling polar bears. Richard qualifies his statement by saying “I neither agree nor disagree with your “conclusion”, as you do not have one. A conclusion requires data and analysis.” This kind of sums up the paper really. It doesn’t have a conclusion: it clearly has a motive and it clearly has a target – the PCA seems to have been included merely to make it look like a more legitimate ‘scientific’ analysis, which it’s not. Here’s Bart’s comment:

    “Folks, why don’t you all take a deep breath and think whether you have something constructive to say before commenting?

    Co-author Peter Roessingh sums it up very well in an earlier comment:

    “All piecharts and graphs, including those made by the critics of Harvey et all. tell the same story: the positions taken by the contrarian blogs is very different from that taken by the science based blogs and the peer review literature. That is the main conclusion from the paper. It has not been challenged in any meaningful way yet.”

    If someone has a good reason, or better yet, evidence, to believe our conclusion to be wrong, I’d be curious to hear it.”

    Two points:

    1. As Richard says, there is no conclusion, just poor data and a shoddy ‘analysis’ of that data.
    2. Roessingh uses the term “contrarian blogs”. the paper which he co-authored uses the term “science-denier blogs”. You can’t really reconcile these two positions without appearing to be disingenuous in your whole approach to scientific research. One describes blogs which take a view contrary to the consensus view, the other is an unsubstantiated insult, made even worse by the association with Holocaust denial.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. When push comes to shove, the climate consensus enforcers admit they are in it to impose their ideology, not to advance science.
    Bart chose to leave science and to instead participate in a gang assault on Crockford.
    The neverwuzzers like Len are clearly thrilled to egg it on.
    We are not at a low point yet, but we are clearly in the downhill slope, accelerating.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. “Concluding thoughts” is a misnomer: This will run for a while.

    Verheggen’s current behaviour is indeed out of line with his previous. Ditto for Roessingh.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I happened to notice that Bart was also promoting the ironically named “March for Science” earlier this year. That might have been around the time this Harvey 17 started taking form amidst the panic that the US would pull out of the Paris Accord and perhaps dump its renewals friendly policies.

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  10. Being mutually aware of the frog and scorpion story, a frog and a scorpion trying to get to Baffin Island for a Friends of Science conference decide to call Uber and ask for a polar bear to run them across, because scorpions can’t swim, and frogs hate sea ice.

    The bear shows up , and they agree on the fare, but as the bear is very thin and feeling peckish, he demands that they stop at Sealburger King and buy him a meal to fuel up for the trip. As the bear is finishing his flipper pie, he notices the scorpion’s sting, and asks him:

    “Mr Scorpion, that’s a lethal weapon you’ve got there ! How do I know you won’t kill me if I let you climb on my back ? ”

    ” Chill, Mr. Bear- if I stung you I’d surely drown, and besides my word that I won’t sting you, I’ll ride on top of the frog so you’ll be safely out of stinger range.”

    The frog nods in agreement, they climb on , and the bear starts swimming north. After half an hour, the bear starts to feel ill, but he hasn’t felt a sting , so he keeps on swimming.

    After another half hour the bear howls in agony , dies of a heart attack and rolls belly up, the frog nimbly hopping around to the up side as the late bear capsizes.

    “Well done, partner .”says the scorpion , texting Uber Heli’s to send a Sea Stallion to retrieve them and their prize, ” Pelt like this should be worth twenty grand in Calgary !”

    ” It’s a great racket” says his partner ” We can keep it up forever if we never tell anyone the scorpion and poison arrow frog story.”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lest not forget.. Lewandowsky, Cook did a similar attack,discredit paper, with Prof Ian Plimer the target last year.. with is usual headline grabbing paper title. This is a pattern of behaviour. To single out and attack opponents. (Moon Hoax, Fury, sceptics in general)

    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11229-016-1198-6

    They even had in in the media months before the paper was published

    https://www.opendemocracy.net/conspiracy/suspect-science/stephan-lewandowsky/alice-through-looking-glass-mechanics-rejection-of-climate-science

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  12. Thanks Barry for the reference. It’s a disturbing trend to use the scientific literature for essentially political attacks on people. Given all the recent revelations about the severity of the replication crisis, I’m starting to think that 90% defunding of science is the only thing that will work. If the science establishment can’t purge itself of Lew, Cook, Mann, its very corrupt. Here’s a good read on the problem that I think is worth considering even though I don’t agree with everything.

    http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/ees.2016.0223

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Barry, I spent a little time reading the Springer paper you link ad its just complete tripe. They repeatedly misrepresent climate science. For example they say skeptics say both that ECS is low but that “small” changes in solar forcing caused the ice ages. This is a simplistic misrepresentation. Orbital changes can result in huge changes in insolation at high latitudes triggering ice sheet growth. It’s the nonlinear slow feedbacks.

    To find contradictions, they must of course rely on the fact that any large group of people will have lots of disagreements. It’s just one giant fallacy.

    Science has descended to the gutter.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Ah, ‘ the gang assault ‘ on Susan Crockford, …
    the ol’ rules for radical trick, ” Pick your target,
    freeze it, personalize it and polarize it.” Cut off
    the support network and isolate the target from
    sympathy,go after people and not institutions.
    People hurt more than institutions,

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  15. Perhaps it’s also worth noting that the dynamic duo of Lewandowsky and Mann had teamed up as early as November 2013 – albeit with a mere 3 co-opted co-authors, rather than the little army on their latest confection.

    Their cheesy whine on that occasion, as I had noted:

    This article surveys some of the principal techniques by which the authors have been harassed; namely, cyber-bullying and public abuse; harassment by vexatious freedom-of-information (FOI) requests, complaints, and legal threats or actions; and perhaps most troubling, by the intimidation of journal editors who are acting on manuscripts that are considered inconvenient by deniers. The uniformity with which these attacks are pursued across several disciplines suggests that their motivation is not scientific in nature. [emphasis added -hro]

    Talk about a classic exercise in psychological projection, eh?!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thanks Barry (25 Dec 17 at 9:43 am) for reminding us of Lew’s anti-Plimer paper, and thanks BeththeSerf for the best summary of the Lew strategy:

    Pick your target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy, go after people and not institutions. People hurt more than institutions.

    though if that’s “the ol’ rules for radical trick,” call me a reactionary.

    If GOLF CHARLIE (24 Dec 17 at 6:32 pm) is right and only Verheggen and Roessingh have responded, that’s most interesting. Don’t Harvey et al. care what people are saying about them? Or is Lew preparing a new Recursive Furry paper?

    There, I’ve announced my conspiracy theory. And the only way Lew can prove me wrong is by not writing about the reaction to this paper.

    But is this paper about blogs, in which case it’s to be filed under Media Studies, or about the aims of blog owners, as mentioned in the abstract? In which case it’s a psychology paper. It’s clearly not about polar bears, or else the polar bear experts among the authors would have explained where Crockford is wrong, instead of arguing that she must be wrong, because the wrong sort of people agree with her.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Geoff Chambers, Harvey et al 2017 is an attempt to destroy the credibility of Crockford AND those that quote her.

    It is worth pointing out that very few Climate Scientists are prepared to support or quote Mann, or his Hockey Stick.

    Mann wilts, as Polar Bears thrive.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. @geoff, golf
    Over at ATTP, Jeff Harvey has responded (as JeffH). Remko Kampen pops up and there (as cRRkampen).

    Mr Kampen is a strange one to criticize Ms Crockford for her lack of credentials. He has published one paper only, on economics, in a predatory journal, co-authored with the editor, while he was doing his master’s at a fourth rate business school.

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  19. Richard S J Tol, thank you for the update.

    The Chinese have created a successful and unique business model out of “saving” Pandas.

    The WWF have done very nicely out of models and scientists predicting the demise of Polar Bears.

    The Chinese have managed to restrict the supply of Pandas, WWF and Climate Scientists have failed to restrict the supply of Polar Bears.

    Kampen seems to have concentrated on the business models of WWF and Climate Scientists with this attempt to reverse the public’s perception of Polar Bear over supply, as it rises towards a crash in value.

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  20. Can’t post comment @ above last post on poley bears, computah says ‘no.’
    So herewith to Alan, @10.10 am. ‘He who has a why to live for can bear any how.’
    Thus spake Friedrich Nietzsche.

    Like

  21. Pingback: Comment on Harvey et al submitted | Climate Scepticism

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