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REPORT: Latest Cook et al. paper “probably terrible”

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Nature’s most libido-killing sight: you’re at a nice café with a date, amiably debating the existence of average weather, when John Cook butts in (using his face, pictured).*

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.—A major report, announced today by a multinational team of skeptic researchers, finds a new article by the prominent climate alarmist John Cook “highly likely [to be as crap as, or even] crapper than his usual fare,” concluding that “there would be little to very little point (90% confidence range)” reading it.

CliScep is a collaboration of climate analysts, commentators and academics from the UK, US, the French left, and to some extent Australia. The Abstract of their scathing metastudy reads simply: “You’ve probably heard about John Cook’s latest paper by now. Well, so have we, and we can confirm that if rumors are to be believed, it’s every bit as piss-poor as we’ve been told.”

The authors estimate that the climate dysangelist’s latest exertion could be worth as little as an F+ in their custom grading system. According to CliScep’s website this denotes work which is “slightly more defensible than ‘Fury'” (the 2013 paper that’s become a synonym for intellectual nullity).

Penned by Cook, a blogger at George Mason U., with the adult supervision of five or so peers in mental mediocrity, the article at the centre of this firestorm of tittering and eye-rolling is probably titled ‘Here’s What’s So Remarkable: You Don’t Even Need to Know Anything About Climate Skepticism to Know It’s a Tissue of Fallacies,’ or words to that effect.

The skeptics were not able, however, to rule out the possibility that it was called ‘Engagement: Not a Solution But a Tremendous Waste of Time,’ or even ‘Critical Thinking: Don’t Try it at Home, Say 97 Oncologists.’

The metastudy has been almost three days in the making, but head critic Brad Keyes is optimistic that it will live up to global expectations. His team opted for an online-only publishing model, he says, “because time is brainas they say on the emergency ward—in the race against public misinformation.”

Keyes has no regrets about the controversial “double-blind” methodology the panel chose to adhere to.

“That’s the first thing the media wants [sic] to know,” he says: “Couldn’t you just skip the guesswork and read Cook et al. [before sodomizing it with a chainsaw], they ask?”

The idea makes a certain amount of naïve sense, he concedes.

“Sure: for every hole we blew in the paper, imagine how many other flaws we could have identified if we knew what it said. I won’t pretend I wasn’t tempted—constantly—to take a peek. A sentence or two of the Abstract couldn’t hurt, right?

“Wrong. Any such knowledge would have constituted an unfair advantage,” he explains. “Remember, Mr Cook is [psychopathologically] incapable of reading our [skeptics’] arguments, so if we were going to claim our analysis was valid, it was crucial to avoid reading his.

“Religiously, you might say.”

Keyes estimates that “in his latest waste of paper, Mr Cook spends four to eight pages […] ’debunking’” the best objections to climate catastrophism he and his friends can make up off the top of their heads—then tries to pass this farce off as evidence in the hypothesis’ favor—at least if his previous contributions to the quote-unquote scientific literature are anything to go by.

“Medieval Scholastics used to agonize over what I thought was the worst question humanly possible: can an omniscient, omnipotent God create a rock so heavy He’s unable to lift it?

“Apparently Cook2018 asks something even dumber: can an ignorant, impotent blogagogue come up with a ‘climate myth’ so true, he can’t prove it isn’t?

“Er, no. Word on the street is he can’t.

“The real issue,” says Keyes, in an uncannily-poor impression of Stephen Fry at Hay, “is so fucking what?

“I wonder if it even occurs to Cook that maybe, just maybe, this is an indictment of his own feeble powers of skepticism—not a reflection on skepticism itself?

“Wait, no I don’t,” he snorts.


* Relax—as long as you don’t deny climate, you need fear no such appetite-ruining gaucherie. (You’re also safe if you do deny climate, because Cook has learnt the hard way that he’s only fit to argue with people who agree with him.)

*

Nor does he snort alone. A growing number of CliScep contributors haven’t read Cook2018 either—or been remotely impressed by it.

Independent analyst Geoff Chambers, an independent person who is not the same person as Keyes, agrees with him—correctly, in Keyes’ view.

“They say,” says Chambers, “that one man’s modus ponens is another man’s modus tollens. What they forget to say is that one of those men is wrong, and the other one is right (if he’s lucky).

“I guess what I’m suggesting is that exactly the same data can be interpreted in totally different ways, depending on how intelligent you are. Take the banal and predictable news that—unless he’s had a major, Flowers-for-Algernon-style breakthrough since I last read his blitherings—John Cook can’t think of a single valid criticism of climate alarmism.

“What is this supposed to mean? That there isn’t a single valid criticism of climate alarmism?

“Or that John Cook can’t think?”

Co-author Ian Woolley chuckles, but begs his collaborators not to judge Mr Cook by the standards to which society might hold, say, a competent adult.

“Like all weaklings, climate millennialists have to choose their opponents carefully. The list of people John Cook can make a fool of in open debate might be a short one, to put it politely, but it does include John Cook. So who could blame him for spending an entire paper jousting with straw-men of his own half-arsed erection?

“I’d probably do the same thing if I were an idiot. It’s genius.”

Mr Chambers is less inclined to lenity. He has special reason to dislike Cook2018, he explains in the Left Bank garret he occupies while his citizenship application to North Korea is finalized. (Like all climate skeptics, Chambers is still fighting the Cold War in his head [Oreskes 2010], desperate to somehow, magically change the outcome.)

As the lyrical soul of the CliScep Institute, it’s Comrade Chambers’ job to find le mot juste that forever consigns pseudoscholarship like Cook’s to the shudders and snickers it deserves, without the possibility of parole.

“The problem is, [Cook’s] little theatre of self-rebuttal doesn’t even rise to any known standard of crapademia. What template, what metaphor would do justice to such non-research?

“It’s a kind of catechism—except the congregant is also the priest. Maybe it’s ventriloquism—except the heckler and the proctologist are one and the same dummy. Or is it onanism? No, that would make [Mr Cook] the butt-plug and the Kleenex.

Masochism, maybe… if you can’t tell the massacred from the hastily-dug masshole?”

He’s in little doubt as to why Cook2018 has proven so indigestible.

“Because people don’t publish stuff as stercoraceous as this. They might write such shite, they might even scrape together the cost of a postage stamp and send it to the relevant dog-astrology journal, but that’s why we have peer review, isn’t it: to make sure the unsuspecting public will never have to read it.

“I just count myself lucky I didn’t.”

“OIC,” Mr Keyes interjects via a technology skeptics have dubbed tele– or video-conferencing, which allows them to save the 710,000 air miles racked up by the average climate activist per annum.

According to Urban Dictionary, the laconicism stands for ‘only in Climate™.’ Young people apparently use it (always as a sentential atom) to bemoan the uniquely low standards of scholarship, and the unprecedented dereliction of peer review, for which the climate-hyphenated arts and sciences are now infamous.

“Geoff’s right,” says Keyes. “The paper shouldn’t even exist, from the sounds of it. If I wanted to see Cook’s abortive brainchildren I’d go to the circus, not the legitimate newsstand. Certain things belong in jars, next to the pickled foetuses of the other monsters. If there is a God, a Darwin or even a Lysenko, he’ll have the decency to make Cook2018 a hapax phenomenon.”

“Why Mother Nietzsche allowed such a teratoma of a paper to see the light of day in the first place, mankind may never know,” Ian Woolley chimes in. “Especially without reading it.”

Jaime Jessop, one of CliScep’s countless female contributors, has the final word on the topic. “IWBTIIWSH,” she texts.

Her fellow skeptics murmur in agreement: yes, it would be tragic if it wasn’t so hilarious.

*

Among CliScep’s many rôles in the debate, the group maintains a database of the feckless “arguments” thought to be popular with climate believers. This authoritative list (Keyes likes to call it their ‘Hall of Lame’) is updated daily to reflect what real skeptics think real believers are saying.

The many supporters of the think-tank would hardly be surprised to learn, if it’s true, that Cook2018 faithfully regurgitates these repeatedly-refuted “zombie” talking points, reënacting seven or eight of the top ten crimes against logic in swift succession.

“At the top of this grisly Hit Parade, I bet,” says Keyes, “is the believalists’ all-time favorite manoeuvre: what if I told you pedophilia was good for children? Ergo, ‘carbon’ should be taxed prohibitively!”

This tactic, which has been in continuous use ever since it was first hatched by Aussie science presenter Robyn Williams in 2012, gets its appeal from its superficial validity.

“But as skeptics, it’s our curse to look deeper, beyond the epidermis of reasonability. If the deduction were really as sound as it sounds, then how come Robyn Williams isn’t a developmental psychologist?

“Why don’t his fellow DJs and radio personalities seem to take his scientific conclusions seriously? Why does every single pediatric body of national or international standing reject what’s amusingly called the science? And why isn’t Williams rolling in rich-kiddie-fiddler dollars? After all, there’s a Nobel Prize just sitting there, waiting for anyone who can overturn the consensus against diddling children.”

Believalists have never managed to answer these simple questions, says Keyes, who no longer bothers asking.

“Yet I’d be surprised if it takes [the authors of Cook2018] more than five pages—excluding diagrams—to start stooping to such crapscience,” he notes.

“And could any paper I haven’t read by John Cook be complete without the classic goalpost-shift? ‘OK, maybe pedophilia is real, and harmful, and maybe it’s caused by humans, but we still need to stop climate change before resource pressure forces Aryans to drink from the same water-fountains as the mud races.’”

Every non-skeptic on the planet thinks this way, he explains, whether or not they say it to your face.

“And again, it all seems rather sensible…. unless you’ve been ‘immunized’ to recognize the tiny flaw. It turns out that by using such ‘logic,’ believers fall foul of something we call the Fallacy of Being A Racist Deplorable.

“British and other Old World philosophers would say ‘Deplorable Racist,’ of course, but never mind—it’s not a good look in anyone’s language.

“Unpack virtually any of the the big believalist tropes and you’ll find this same, unifying theme, upon a sufficiently fine-grained analysis: that if we could just return to the good old days of Jim Crow, then America—and by extension the UK, Siam and Burma—would be ‘great’ again, whatever that means.

“One struggles to think of a single example of pro-[carbon-]mitigation rhetoric that doesn’t reduce, when it really comes down to it, to plain old white chauvinism,” he points out.

“Privilege. Entitlement. Fear of the Other.”

*

It’s now understood that one reviewer was kicked off the CliScep team for knowing the exact names of Cook’s coauthors. Whether she was cheating or just unlucky when she glanced at the list, the damage to the project was “more or less basically limited,” in Brad Keyes’ judgement.

“Fortunately, this individual didn’t email [the Chicago-style citation to] too many others. In fact she barely contaminated half the team. So we decided to press on as if nothing had happened. Nobody got anywhere in the [climate] world by being a stickler for methodological probity!

“Just between us, this incident wasn’t the first breach of our research protocol as advertised, and it wouldn’t be the last. In the end there were too many violations to bother listing [in our report]. All in all, though, I’m satisfied that our little exercise was ‘Good Enough For Government Work,'” he says, “to quote the deathless words carved in sandstone at my local university’s climate school.”

*

For his part, Mr Cook has lashed out vocally at the report, demanding chapter and verse for some of the more inflammatory “arguments” that are being attributed to him. In the words of his attorneys, CliScep “must either prove [Mr Cook] has endorsed pedophilia in any way, shape or form; or, failing that, retract said smear with a proportionate apology.”

“In other words, put up or shut up,” Keyes paraphrases.

“Basically he’s saying—if you’ll excuse the language: shit or get off the shitter.

“This is a guy who smugly advertises his Christianity—and in the next breath he’s swearing like a sailor! I hate to say it, but this kind of hypocrisy is par for the course with Cook.”

Needless to say, CliScep has rejected Cook’s demands, and for good reasons: medical reasons.

“This is Inoculation 101. Basic, basic Backfire Theory,” sighs Mr Keyes.

“We couldn’t quote the offending statements [by Mr Cook] if we wanted to, because that would only reinforce them. The scientific consensus of evidence [sic] is crystal clear: even if you only cite your opponent’s lies as a prelude to debunking them, the mere act of repeating misinformation is enough to weaken the public’s grasp of the truth. Ask almost any reputable psychologist.

“So our hands are tied, I’m afraid,” he explains. “Cook can beg for quotes as stridently as he likes, but that won’t overturn 200 years of accepted research in the science-communications sciences, which all points to a single overwhelming conclusion: falsehood is a communicable disease.

“If we were to reprint, say, Cook’s denials of the link between pedophilia and being bad for kids, that would make us every bit as irresponsible, culpably irresponsible, as people who parrot Dr Michael Mann’s ravings about the flavor, smoothness and safety of Camel cigarettes, or the infamous Dana Nuccitelli diatribe against the evils of miscegenation.

“Pardon me, but I won’t be complicit in spreading hate, emphysema or child abuse, and I make no apology for this. Sorry,” he shrugs.

But what if this doesn’t satisfy Cook, I ask?

Keyes answers as unhesitantly as any skeptic can answer any question. If, in the face of so much consensus science, Cook persists in demanding a specific quote, he’ll stand exposed as that basest subspecies of climate believer: an inoculation denier.

“Somewhere, in somebody’s attic, a portrait of John Cook is getting handsomer and handsomer by the day,” he adds, “and the SS insignia are gleaming ever more brightly.”

Keyes seems to think he’s being funny, but all I feel is a vague sadness. This sort of praeter-necessitatem, ad-hominem non sequitur only detracts from an otherwise compelling case. If anything is capable of arousing sympathy for a crook like Cook, it’s his county-fair-winning unattractiveness. By bringing it up you risk making him human, or at least apelike.

Skeptics often make this mistake with Naomi Oreskes too. So the great bitch isn’t exactly photogenic so much as scotogenic; is that her fault? (What did they expect the sow that birthed John Cook to look like… Venus? Rebecca Romijn-Stamos?) Her one-woman war on Western epistemology: now that’s her fault.

If I could presume to offer Brad Keyes one piece of advice, I’d say: stick to imitating celebrities way outside your vocal range. Humor is supposed to be painful, not hurtful.

—B.K.

26 thoughts on “REPORT: Latest Cook et al. paper “probably terrible”

  1. have Judith Curry and Nick Lewis looked into Cook’s fat tail?

    I don’t know, but Dr. Lew has, and he liked what he saw.

    Following the best practice of peer reviewed blogs like ours, I haven’t read Brad’s article, but I believe it’s another demonstration of Lewandowsky’s Fundamental Law of the Fat-tailed Distribution, that the less you know about something, the more likely it is to be wores than you thought.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. The problem I have is that Mr Cook’s papers have really been so bad that I am still not sure if your article is satire.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I have skim read your report and…
    scatological nonsense wins outright…..
    Brad K re-emerges from an Australasian hibernation rampant…
    but Cook is like phlogeston, universal, operatic….
    Do your bit and carry on……..
    Valantinian discordance will…….
    So there.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. LOL.

    I suspect that Cook and Lew will find it hard to fit that long comment into a category.

    Personally I think it could do with an Ikea style instruction manual to work out how to assemble it. Insert sentence B into paragraph 2D and twist to the right. But maybe that would aid Cook too much if he got to the end of the instructions to discover he’d assembled a big joke. Of course Dr Lew would offer his more senior psychologists advice by saying ‘it’s one of those magic eye denier posts, where you have to unfocus your eyes to see the oil funding’.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I use qualitative analysis, a recognized technique which allows me to achieve the results I want. You should try it on Cook. Here’s a quote from one of my papers:

    “Qualitative analysis of President Obama´s speech, given at the United Nations on September 24th, has been performed using word count statistics and my own bias as points of departure. Social psychology principles allow qualitative analysis without statistical data. This includes observation and interviews. Qualitative research should emphasize the analysis may not be extended to a general population when the sample is small (Hsieh 2005).

    Content analysis of President Obama´s speech was carried out using WORDTM software. This powerful tool allows the systematic analysis of political speech. As Stemler wrote: “It also allows inferences to be made which can then be corroborated using other methods of data collection. Krippendorff (1980) notes that “[m]uch content analysis research is motivated by the search for techniques to infer from symbolic data what would be either too costly, no longer possible, or too obtrusive by the use of other techniques” (Stemler 2001).

    The raw statistical analysis of the President´s speech yielded results which confirmed the author´s previous bias. The speech mentioned America or Americans 26 times. This was followed by the word “war” (24 times). Words associated with the Middle East (Iraq, Syria, ISIL) merited 25 mentions, and Israel/Israelis 6 mentions. On the other hand, Energy was mentioned twice, oil wasn´t mentioned at all.”

    If you want to I can do a full qualitative analysis of anybody you want to dissect. I’m working on a new slicing and splicing technique which allows me to build what I call “synthetic strawpersons” I can debunk at will.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. If John Cook and co-workers have claimed to half self-innoculated themselves against Sceptic arguments.
    Are they qualified to proscribe such treatments?
    Is it ethical to self-proscribe?
    Have the treatments being properly tested for side-effects?
    Obtuseness, selective deafness, repeating meaningless mantras and incapacity for rational thought seem to common ailments of the innoculated.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Manic,

    ” Is it ethical to self-proscribe?”

    If we apply the tears-shed test, then yes: little (if any) harm would be done to the Republic as a whole if Cook et company were to post their own names at various high-traffic sites within the local forum or agora, licencing any Roman male to confiscate their property, land and slaves with impunity (over their stabbed bodies, perforce).

    But I’m a utilitarian so maybe I have a bias in the affirmative direction.

    Like

  8. Fernando,

    I’m tempted to contract your analytic services, but I’m afraid *dissecting* Cook would be letting him off easy.

    Do you also offer vivisection?

    I’d pay handsomely. (I can only give you a few bucks, but I’m really good-looking.)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Bravo. Way to kill the thread, Brad. You’ve really done it this time, with your crap puns.

    (Note to self: if you’re going to tell crap jokes, make sure they’re *good,* FFS.)

    Sometimes I think I’m my own worst enema.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Brad @ 16 Feb 18 at 2:10 pm
    To answer my question ” Is it ethical to self-prescribe?”, it depends. If you have flu, it quite alright to take one of the over-the-counter preparations so long as you follow the instructions, and are aware of any allergies that you might have. Just remember if you the sub-strain of Man Flu, it will not work.
    But is John Cook competent to “self-prescribe”, let alone recommend treatments to fellow believers?
    Consider this statement from Cook et al  2017.

    The issue of climate change has been particularly impacted by misinformation. There is an overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming (Cook et al 2016), with a number of studies converging on 97% agreement among publishing climate scientists or relevant climate papers (Doran and Zimmerman 2009, Anderegg et al 2010, Cook et al 2013, Carlton et al 2015). However, there is little awareness of the scientific consensus among the general public with only 12% of Americans aware that the consensus is above 90% (Leiserowitz et al 2017).

    How can any competent person who understands the subject believe that the banal beliefs of academics is evidence of a huge potential problem? There seems to be a huge lack of collective self-awareness in the climate community. Rather than tackle the root causes, the paper tries to blame it on the others. It is like a teenager shouting to his parents.

    “You do not understand the real issues. All my friends understand me, ask them.”

    “Well John (or Stephen, or Micheal, or Naomi, or Dana), if you would take time to actually explain to us what the problem is, then we might start to understand. But it can be a conversation if that helps.”

    “You are blinded because you are old and cling to outdated selfish notions. After all, failing to give me the latest iPhone after days of asking, makes me appear so last year to the people who matter. You are in denial of that fact.”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. brad’s deeply moving peristaltic humor aside, it seems that manicbeancounter hits nail on head: the entire “97%/skeptics are brain defective” oeuvre of Lewandowsky and his mini-me Cook is actually little more than childish responsibility avoidance and whiny blame avoidance couched in the academic version of verbal diarrhoea.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. There is a common thread here – enemas, crap puns and verbal diarrhoea. Cook should be reprimanded for inciting such bathroom humour, although truth be told this is an improvement upon his climate (so-called) humour.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Alan – ‘phlogiston’, please! It may not exist, but it should be spelt right/

    Like

  14. Phlogiston deniers!

    You and all who share similar disbeliefs are the biggest scourge in today’s society, and should therefore be horse-whipped with the biggest horse-whips modern society can produce. And not just ordinary novelty oversized horse-whips either. No—white-hot ones, fresh out of the autoclave, where they have been whipped into a thermal frenzy by my secret ingredient: liquid caloric so hot, it’s turned into gaseous caloric, at such a high pressure that it immediately condenses back to liquid caloric.

    Let’s see you persist in denial when your lives have become a phlogistical nightmare.

    Like

  15. Alan, pointing out errors like this is my principal (some would say only) talent. Certainly touch-typing is not one, or my signature would have read something like:

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Dear I Merely Propose, It Is God Who Disposes,

    I fully relate.

    Don’t you hate it how people write about das Fuhrer, Obersalzburg, Ümlauts and uber-geeks with impunity…

    because if you’re good enough to correct them, you just know they’ll repay your altruism by asking what are you, some kind of German Nazi?

    Like

  17. Brad, it’s so great to have you back! All is right with the universe again. Well, most of it is, anyway…

    Liked by 1 person

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