Rupert and the Mystery Denier

Rupert Read teaches philosophy at the University of East Anglia, chairs the Green House thinktank and was “Green Party 2015 MP-Candidate for Cambridge.”

He was twittering the other day:

BBC Radio wanted to have me on today to debate a climate-denier in the context of the drought/heatwave. I said NO. I told them it was a disgrace that they still give climate-deniers airtime at a time like this. I won’t be part of such charades any longer. Please RT if you agree.

Miles King asked: “who were they putting up as a denier Rupert?”

And Rupert replied: “Don’t know, don’t care. It’s time to draw a hard line in the sand, as the tide rises…”

Mat Hope joined in asking for more information as he’s going to write it up at DeSmog Blog, and Mark Maslin, professor at UCL and author of Global Warming: A Very Short Introduction, piped up lending his support:

I agree with you. I have not done an interview with ‪SkyNews since they set me up during Copenhagen – they only told me as I sat down for the interview!

After more supportive tweets, Rupert signed off:

Worry not; because of getting 22000 RTs for this tweet, I will have a platform in the Guardian on Friday. A bigger fish than Radio Cambs.

Bigger and fishier.

A philosopher, think tank chairman, politician, and would-be M.P. who won’t debate with people he disagrees with would seem to be somewhat handicapped in his professional activities. Luckily Rupert has KommentMachtFrei where he is free to express his wilting lily opinions without fear of contradiction. His Guardian article is headlined I won’t go on the BBC if it supplies climate change deniers as ‘balance’” and in it Rupert really lets himself go:

this Wednesday, when I was rung up by BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and asked to come on air to debate with a climate change denier, something in me broke, and rebelled… I turned it down. I told it that I will no longer be part of such charades. I said that the BBC should be ashamed of its nonsensical idea of “balance” … From a public service broadcaster, this is simply not good enough… I will no longer put up with the absurd notion that a straight debate about the science can be justified… BBC Cambridgeshire is based in Cambridge, the science capital of the UK. I expected better from it… In August 2018, this is unacceptable and it seems that quite a lot of people agree with me.. [followed by a link to the Twitter thread.]

In the comments thread below the article someone suggested that he really should have gone on the show in order to demolish the arguments of the denier. Rupert replied: “No! Shan’t!” stamped his foot and had to have his nappy changed by Guardian Environment Editor Damian Carrington.

[Cliscep Ed: Why do you always have to ruin a perfectly decent article with infantile toilet humour?]

The radio programme in question is a three hour talk and music spot on Radio Cambridgeshire and can be found here.

Dr Emily Shuckburgh and Chris Smith the Naked Scientist are both interviewed at length during the first forty minutes. If a denier was interviewed, it must have been for less than thirty seconds, because I zapped through the whole three hours looking for the beast. Doesn’t Rupert know they only come out at night, and turn to stone in the cold (or warm) light of day?

100 thoughts on “Rupert and the Mystery Denier

  1. Ever since Rupert Read campaigned for NATO intervention in Libya and refused to explain why to anyone who brought the examples of adverse effects of such interventions in Iraq or Afghanistan, I suspected he was one of those high-minded folk who enjoy other people shedding blood for their causes. Especially if they have not enjoyed academic privileges like him. For a philosopher, he really struggles to put together a cogent argument. I believe he went to East Anglia University but it would be wrong to downgrade an entire university on the basis of one intellectually inadequate product

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Rupert Read has co-authored a paper on the precautionary principle with Nassim Taleb. According to his Wikipaedia article he’s best known for having been in trouble with the sex censors for his views on transgenderism.

    He doesn’t seem to do much philosophy, except of the “Wittgenstein goes to Hollywood” sort. His three most recent articles, going back to 2011, are marked “Draft – under review.”

    He doesn’t seem to write much about climate either; though here he is in February 2017:
    View story at Medium.com
    It’s a long, much referenced article, though as far as I can see, none of the references are to scientific papers.

    For example, in support of his statement that “it has been shown beyond reasonable doubt that anything remotely like a Business As Usual path puts us on course for climate-nemesis” he quotes an article at cleantechnica.com by Sandy Dechert, who quotes James L. Powell, “director of the National Physical Sciences Consortium and whistleblower on climate change denial” as saying:

    The 97% is wrong, period. Look at it this way: If someone says that 97% of publishing climate scientists accept anthropogenic global warming, your natural inference is that 3% reject it. But I found only 0.006% who reject it. That is a difference of 500 times.

    How quoting a professional denier-chaser as saying that Naomi Oreskes is bat-crazy demonstrates that we are on course for climate-nemesis is not clear.

    But not only. He also quotes a video and a blog article by Dr Kevin Anderson and an article at SkepticalScience
    https://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-scientific-consensus-intermediate.html
    which doesn’t exist.

    Then, in support of his statement that “Ever-worsening man-made climate change is not a potential ‘black swan’ event. It’s a white swan, an expected event.” he cites a video of a talk he gave to first year students at UEA
    http://www.ueapolitics.org/2016/10/17/rupert-read-addresses-ueas-new-students-with-a-shock-message/
    in which: “He gives a stark warning about the future of the environment and argues that they should be ‘very angry with the current generation’ because of short-term, reckless policies.”

    There’s a transcript of the talk this philosopher and would-be MP gives eighteen year olds about the anger they should be feeling. I think I’ll take a look.

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  3. It shows how much I’m out of the climate scene, mentally, that I read this title as Rupert meets a chap who denies mysteries. That sounded really cool. It’s terrific you keep pointing to such fatuities Geoff (and Paul, Jaime, John and co). The nappy change was called for. Somebody has to do it.

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  4. Delicate little fundamentalist ignorati are the ones who can’t withstand critical thinking challenging their infantile extremism.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Geoff. I took a look and wasted both time and brain cells. What arrogance to think his manufactured angst was worth recording. I sympathize with his original victims (18 year olds being welcomed to their university) as they became aware of their fate and what a huge mistake they had made. And this wonk is a Reader. How, why????

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  6. Richard,

    I think Jaime’s latest post is a case in point. It hardly matters whether Jaime’s analysis is correct or not. The point is that Jaime took the trouble to look into the claims made by the study to see if they stood up to close examination. This is a job that journalists and scientists should be doing, but they don’t! What is at stake here is not the future of the climate, it is the legitimacy of scepticism and the protection of freedom of speech.

    Liked by 8 people

  7. It’s a really dangerous precedent John. What’s happening on so-called transgender rights is similar. Jonathan Jones once warned me about that in the pub in Oxford long ago, talking of Wikipedia, of which he was a big editor behind the scenes. There was only one subject worse that climate for dogma and daggers drawn, in his experience. And that has extended into the supine denizens of the MSM and of government, just like climate. Except that Janice Turner at the Times and James Kirkup at the Spectator, and elsewhere, have begun to ask much needed questions. The Christopher Booker and David Rose of the scene, so to speak. Except that one is a woman. The MP David TC Davies has also shown great courage in both areas.

    I said a while back climate was a gateway drug for a very mediocre elite (with these honourable exceptions). We see the effects now in a multitude of other areas. I meant what I said about the worth of what you, Geoff and others are doing on Cliscep.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Alert readers will note that this post was liked by Scepticus. Which is me: the person who has finally managed to reset the password for Scepticus. To say more about my ‘real identity’ in the ‘real world’ would be embarrassing. We need some mystery, whatever that Mystery Denier says.

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  9. JOHN RIDGWAY (04 Aug 18 at 7:47 am)

    Jaime took the trouble to look into the claims made by the study to see if they stood up to close examination. This is a job that journalists and scientists should be doing, but they don’t! What is at stake here is not the future of the climate, it is the legitimacy of scepticism and the protection of freedom of speech.

    This is a very important point. I’d quibble about “protection of freedom of speech” though, since, strictly speaking, no-one is stopping us from expressing ourselves; rather, every effort is made to marginalise and “weaponise” our views. I’d say something like “respect for rational enquiry.”

    A couple more examples from the Guardian in the past few days to illustrate what’s happening:
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/aug/03/qanon-conspiracy-theory-trump-rallies
    is about Trump and “deep state” conspiracy theories. In the middle of a description of the QAnon phenomenon, the journalists inserts, for no apparent reason, this:

    “As fantasies go, it is not nearly as popular or as damaging as, say, climate change denialism, but it is a lot more colorful.”

    More serious is the Guardian’s latest “long read”
    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/aug/03/denialism-what-drives-people-to-reject-the-truth
    which is “adapted from Denial: The Unspeakable Truth by Keith Kahn-Harris, which will be published by Notting Hill Editions on 13 September.”
    The subheading of the article gives a flavour:

    From vaccines to climate change to genocide, a new age of denialism is upon us. Why have we failed to understand it?

    Climate change denial is mentioned 21 times, always in association with Holocaust denial, the AIDS/HIV controversy, the anti-vaccine movement, flat-earthers etc.

    There’s a thesis, vaguely Freudian, to the effect that deniers secretly desire the thing they’re denying, and a warning about the rise of post-denialism, where denialists express the desire to bring about the thing they’re denying (e.g. Holocaust deniers expressing the desire to kill Jews.

    The writer is serious, the thesis is not stupid, but you can see where it’s taking us.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The Green Blob has been refusing to participate in broadcasting media discussions with climate change sceptics for at least 10 to 15 years to my knowledge, so Rupert Read’s story isn’t really very newsworthy. It would be more newsworthy if he had decided to participate.

    Here’s an example of this kind of thing from 2007 where Iain Dale tried to set up a climate change debate involving Dominic Lawson and a representative from Greenpeace:

    http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2007/05/how-enviro-fascists-are-trying-to-close.html

    Dale published the response he got from Greenpeace, stunned at their lack of respect for democracy. Greenpeace indicated that they might participate if Lawson could be replaced by Bjorn Lomborg, who wasn’t an AGW sceptic as such, but was sceptical of the wisdom of spending money on climate change when other more worthy causes were available. Later on Lomborg became a renewable energy sceptic, arguing that renewable energy (in its current state of development) would never be able to replace fossil fuel, and that seems to have led to Lomborg losing his strange favoured status as being the only climate sceptic that the Green lobby were prepared to tolerate.

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  11. Dave: The reason one can date the boring cowardice to 2007, and even to around May 07, is, in my view, the Intelligence Squared debate in New York in March of that year, in which Gavin Schmidt and two others were handed their hats by Lindzen, Stott and Crichton – and by the liberal NYC audience, who swung heavily in the sceptics’ favour. Still a fun watch.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. DAVE GARDNER (04 Aug 18 at 9:04 pm)
    You’re right that an academic nobody refusing to appear on a debate on local radio is not newsworthy. But that he then instigates a twitter campaign to get the BBC to ban debate from happening (and seems to have succeeded in this case, since I don’t think a “denier” appeared on the show) and claims 20,000 retweets in support, and gets an article in a major mainstream news outlet the next day – well, I suppose that’s not newsworthy either, since it happens all the time.

    But he has also had himself filmed addressing first year students, Joordan Peterson-style, saying:

    I have to tell you…: I don’t envy you. And the reason I don’t envy you is because, as I look around the room, with very few exceptions, most of you are significantly younger than me. And I think there is a very real possibility that the later part of the lives of most of you in this room is going to be grim or non-existent.

    Apart from the idiocy of a philosopher uttering a phrase like “the later part of your life is going to be non-existent” there’s the moral question of whether a teacher should use his first encounter with his students to warn them that they’re likely to die young, while offering no evidence at all for this claim.
    Read has written a couple of papers with Nassim Nicholas Taleb about the precautionary principle. I’ve got a philosophical argument for him:

    1) When an influential group demands the suppression of basic rights like freedom of expression for some minority, and the state condones and even accedes to that demand, we’re well on the way to fascism.

    2) However unlikely that result might seem, it is so extreme in its implications that the precautionary principle demands that we taken any and all possible measures to nip the movement in the bud.

    I’m not suggesting that Rupert Read should be assassinated. I’m just pointing out that, if I believed in the precautionary principle, I can see no logical reason why I shouldn’t.

    Cut off their goolies, I say.

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  13. Geoff. Brave words “Cut off their goolies, I say.” And if you’d offered this advice against a powerful group in the past, say in Germany in the 1930s?

    Some people said I was brave when I supported sceptic views and gave lectures to that effect in UEA. Well I wasn’t. Throughout I was supported by individuals, including heads of school and teaching, who encouraged controversial topics being taught so long as it was supported by evidence. When the second climategate furore broke, and the university once again came under attack, especially in BH and WUWT, I spoke out in its defence. And I was howled down. The brave heads of School and Teaching who supported me were caught up in the mele. Not just CRU but the entire University was blamed. I see the same thing happening again over at WUWT in reaction to this Read affair. All the old epithets get dusted off like UEA = University of Easy Access. Some sceptics are reprehensible, and if you protest you get labelled a “commie” (not here). It is sometimes difficult to be in the middle.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Do have a look at Rupert’s video, or read the transcript which is linked in a comment below it. He doesn’t give any evidence for his belief that his students are going to die young, except to say that if you get UEA climate scientists to talk informally in a bar, they’ll tell you that they think it’s going to be even worse than they think it is.
    I just posted this comment under the video. It hasn’t appeared yet.

    Rupert’s statement to first year students that the actions of my generation is [sic – silly me] directly responsible for cutting their young lives short is not supported by any rational scientific argument. Is he willing to outline why he believes that “the future, well within your lifetimes, is going to be unrecognisable, and unrecognisably worse”?
    Would he be willing to engage in a debate at our sceptical website cliscep.com?

    Just a few minutes ago this Sunday morning he was tweeting a link to this article published a month ago
    https://greenworld.org.uk/article/climate-breakdown-civilisation-breakdown
    in which he recommends planning seriously for civilizational decline and collapse by e.g.:

    crafting values and a spirituality for a more local and Earthly future; creating seed-banks; learning to grow food; and getting yourself and your loved ones a knife-proof vest.

    Prescient, or what?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. ALAN KENDALL

    What was the “second climategate furore”?

    Yes, I was provocative, but careful. I am not advocating any policy other than dialogue. I think it’s clear that I don’t seriously want to cut off anyone’s goolies, and it’s equally clear that Rupert really does want to prevent us from being allowed to express our views in the media. In the Green World article I link to he says: “we all love to hate climate change deniers.” Isn’t that a bit odd?

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  16. Rupert appears to be more than a bit like a faux intellectual dressed up as academic but who is in reality a cowardly thug.
    Sadly he bears evidence of a mental illness, delusionally believing things are getting worse despite no evidence supporting, and much evidence countering, his obsession.
    I wonder if he is serious contender to be a winner for the MP seat he is running for?

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  17. I wish Rupert had taken part – he’s very transcribable (totally a word), as per this exchange:
    https://sites.google.com/site/mytranscriptbox/2017/20170423_rr

    “When Brexit is all done and dusted, people will turn back to the great issue of our time – dangerous climate change. And we must never forget that UKIP are the party of climate denial, just like Donald Trump. And climate change denial is vile and despicable – it amounts to kicking our children in the teeth.”

    For those people who are child-free, I suppose he’d say it would amount to kicking someone else’s kids, which doesn’t sound quite as bad. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Perhaps mocking the intellectual cowards like Rupert would be one way to show just how cra-cra,they really are.
    Youtube videos of skeptics debating empty chairs or a plaid jacketed mannequin, or a mannequin in an academic robe wearing a dunce cap comes to mind.
    Or a mannequin dressed up as a cry baby with a petulant face….

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  19. Geoff. The climategate emails were released in two phases a year apart resulting in two separate phases of indignation. There was a later third phase involving UEA’s vice chancellor Ed Acton when the investigative panels were set up and reported. I got hammered a second time when I argued that his job was to defend his university whatsoever and that the person to pursue was the ex CRU pro vice chancellor whose advice Ed Acton followed. I was asked for my input but that advice was totally ignored – it never stood a chance.
    Throughout I was a minor league player, but excepting the final phases I was in the thick of it. I believe the Head of School was afraid of what I might say or do. Often it was very difficult to play honest broker. I cared scarcely a jot what CRU thought of me, excepting Keith Briffa, who I admired and we remained colleagues and friends.

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  20. I always think it good to try to stand in someone’s shoes, to try to understand their motivations and reasoning. For someone like Rupert, who I have never met and knew nothing about until a few days ago, his words and suggestions seem particularly shallow. Nevertheless in his shoes with green-tinted glasses and access to high-powered climate scientists across a bar, I would not think highly of anyone who might challenge any small part of the climate change consensus. In fact I might get downright irritated by them – they refuse to accept the word of the foremost experts in the field about a subject clearly supported by massive evidence (for God’s sake just look around you this summer). Every academic group worldwide supports the consensus, yet these deniers come back repeatedly with their nonsense. Arguing with them produces nothing, they keep coming back for more, changing the argument when it suits them. They are evil and damage our efforts to remedy the dire situation we find ourselves in. I will have no truck with them nor will I agree to give them airtime to spread their blasphemy.
    Calling such people names does no good, attacking their basic beliefs does no good either. But then they believe the same about us.

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  21. Of course. If we were in the age of rational debate, tolerance and civilzed discussion that would what is called for.
    However the shoes are this and many others wear are the intellectual equivalent of jack boots. Skeptics seem to hope that those in the jack boots will not continue engage in kicking. That they will come to their senses.
    This cretinous intellectual moron is teaching children, influencing public policy and may even sit in Parliament.
    And he is cra-cra.

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  22. But Hunter you must recognize that when I taught children (?) at the same university sceptical arguments about CAGW, I was probably considered a “cretinous intellectual moron” and therefore “cra cra” (whatever that means). Unfortunately you and I are in a real minority. We need to do more than splutter in impotent rage and call people names. Even rational argument gets drowned out. I repeat a comment I have made here before: the argument will not be won until Nature herself intervenes. Unfortunately this summer she is far from cooperating.

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  23. Excellent point, Alan.
    For me the journey out of the climate consensus begins with helping people learn to laugh at the consensus.
    Look at the pretense and self-declared seriousness of the brave consensus warriors.
    Look at the flip flops the consus hypesters seamlessly make in their post hoc arm waving.
    ….Once people start seeing how funny the consensus is, even in small ways, a door is open for lookibg at other foibles.
    That is why cowards like Gore or the intellectual hack we are discussing flee from debate. They pretend moral outrage as a camoflage to hide their true colors, those of the coward.
    Your classes were apparently the diametric of what the consensus cowards do: you challenged students to critically think, to analyze, to deconstruct and test evidence.
    The consensus requires strict orthodoxy and conformity. A narrowing and degradation of thinking. A blind acceptance if dogma and rationalization away of data and critical thinking.
    You seem to have challenged students to broaden and seek context.
    Which you admirably do here as well.
    To borrow and possibly misuse an old proverb, “The devil hates to be mocked”.
    Mocking the consensus as effectively as Monty Python mocked the British status quo of their day with humor and wit.
    Certainly the climate consensus edifice is at least as ripe for a coordinated humorous review as 1960’s and 70’s Britain.

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  24. Hunter, mocking aspects of the consensus to those not part of it sometimes works but try doing that to a fully paid up member and what you’ll get is resentment and a determination never to be put in a humiliating position again. I suspect this is the real reason people like Rupert refuse debates. They know they are right and cannot bear (🐻 note choice of word here) to fail again. This excuse of not giving deniers (note the insulting use of this word) airtime is just what it is – an excuse to avoid losing.

    Getting students to do their own research by giving them access to both consensus and sceptical sources was always my preferred teaching method (almost no effort on my part). If someone stayed with the consensus I never argued, that person was never going to to diverted from the dark side.

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  25. If a denier was interviewed, it must have been for less than thirty seconds, because I zapped through the whole three hours looking for the beast.

    I think the person being referred to is Philip Foster. Starts at about 22 minutes into the programme.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Many thanks ATT Physics. You’re right. Foster is a member of the group that wants to repeal the Climate Change Act and is involved in a pretty useless discussion with Chris Smith between 22 and 29 minutes. He starts by denying that CO2 is responsible, thus missing the much easier goal of pointing out that temperatures are just not rising fast enough to be worrying. Chris Smith goes off at a tangent about how little time humans have been around, and how many species we’ve destroyed. To the 97% argument Foster replies that science is not democratic, which is true, but again, a simpler argument for the listeners at 7.30 in the morning might be that the figure is just false, based on a tendentious interpretation of a sample of 78 handpicked respondents. Then Smith goes off on a another tangent explaining in some detail how the GRACE satellites work, and how many cubic kilometers of ice are missing from Greenland and how catastrophic the melting is – another easy goal missed since Foster doesn’t manage to get in the fact that sea level rise is not increasing. Disappointing.

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  27. ALAN KENDALL
    You’re right that being rude is counterproductive – and also rude. I couldn’t be rude at the Guardian or the Conversation because it’s against the rules, so I wasn’t, and I got banned anyway. I let myself go with Rupert a bit, because of him being a philosopher. I mean. A philosopher proudly tweeting how he stood up to the BBC in favour of censorship and against freedom of speech, and getting thousands of favourable retweets and an article at the Graun. Not some craven little shitkicking green-spittled eco-activist with delusory plans to save the world by upending the British constitution, but a real philosopher, author of books about Wittgenstein.
    I’ve left comments at three of his articles, but it’s all quiet in Nutwood so far.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Alan Kendall “I repeat a comment I have made here before: the argument will not be won until Nature herself intervenes. Unfortunately this summer she is far from cooperating.”

    When Nature does intervene it is weather, caused by Global Warming.

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  29. The Foster conversation illustrates the point that skeptics deserve to be well equipped when the opportunities arise to actually be heard.
    Something is better than nothing, but effective somethings are better yet.
    The hypesters have spent decades dumbing down and radicalizing the likes of the Ruperts of the world.
    Getting academics to be not only censorious reactionaries but idiotic as well took a long time.
    Helping rational voices tool up and prepare to face the dumbed down reactionaries will not be done at the snap of the fingers.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Philip Foster is one of an informal group of us who have been known to go off for a drink after GWPF meetings. He’s an ordained C of E vicar but not to be confused with Bishop of Chester Peter Forster, who’s on the GWPF board of reference but comes to the pub less often. (I always do get the names confused.) Josh the cartoonist, Peter Gill and Latimer Alder are other people that may be around. Piers Corbyn maybe. Delingpole and Peter Lilley joined in after Christopher Booker’s presentation at the House of Lords earlier in the year, which was enlightening for me in a number of ways.

    But, much though I like Philip in person, and without listening to any part of the three hours, I accept Geoff’s criticisms in full. How much does such ineptness on media matter? I find I’m less of a purist than I used to be on that. The superb arguments of Lindzen, Stott and Crichton in NYC in March 2007 – what use were they? I know I don’t know. And I’m likely to become a silent member of the Cliscep ‘core team’ again from early this Monday morning. The two thoughts are probably related.

    Good interaction here though, thanks Geoff, Alan, hunter and others.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Geoff
    feeling better now? I had forgotten the therapeutic effect of calling out the klimatnumbskullen.

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  32. In one of the climategate emails Rupert Read and Andrew Boswell are told off by Mike Hulme, for writing a misleading alarmist letter to a Norfolk magazine.

    Subject: sexing-up evidence

    Dear Rupert and Andrew,

    Sexing-up evidence is so easy to do, isn’t it?
    Reading your letter in the EDP today makes me wonder who your source inside the Tyndall Centre was supplying you with such exaggerated evidence?
    Surely it wasn’t me, was it? Treating Dick Lindzen with the esteem of flat-earthers; could this claim have been inserted by politicians seeking to make a dramatic point to their audience? Or was it really what the experts in the Tyndall Centre think? Perhaps we need an enquiry….

    They send him an apologetic reply:

    Dear Mike,
    On behalf of Rupert and myself, first, we would like to apologise. We appreciate the witty approach of your email, but also acknowledge the seriousness of its message. We clearly want anything which bears our names to be fully in line with the scientific evidence, and not to offend or embarrass you and other colleagues at UEA….

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  33. Pedantic POI. The EDP is a local newspaper rather than a magazine. It used to have a sceptical column but it is many years since I have read it.

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  34. An interesting feature of Taleb and Read’s paper on the precautionary principle (pp) is that they advocate that it should only be applied when the posited risk involves an infinite negative impact, i.e. the pp applies to existential risk. It is the existence of such infinities that render the alternative (utility theory) inappropriate (the mathematics of utility theory cannot handle infinities). For Taleb and Read the level of uncertainty is not the issue. However, the more orthodox view is that the pp applies whenever the uncertainties are too high to calculate [objective] probabilities, and that is why utility theory cannot be applied.

    I mention this because it goes somewhere towards explaining Read’s abject intolerance of scepticism. He thinks it is immoral and irrelevant to speculate upon uncertainties when the real issue is the existential nature of the threat. His biggest problem, however, is that he has been hanging around with Taleb too much.

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  35. Has anyone ever seen any analysis of what the impact of advocates policy changes might
    be if they are wrong? i.e. it seems absurdly naive to assume that the advocated ‘precautions’
    will have no undesirable impacts themselves. Let’s face it, we humans don’t exactly have a
    stellar record when it comes to ‘fixing’ things at this level e.g. Yellowstone.

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  36. This was my tweeted reply to Rupert:
    https://mobile.twitter.com/ncdave4life/status/1025482603363749888

    Here’s a screenshot:

    Unfortunately, @Twitter shadowbanned it, as they do many conservatives, so you can only see it via that direct link. It is not visible among the replies to Rupert’s tweet:

    I also tried tweeting replies to someone else’s tweet which replied to Rupert’s tweet, but those aren’t visible to viewers of Rupert’s tweet, either:
    https://mobile.twitter.com/ncdave4life/status/1025658456605433857

    Twitter insists that they never shadowban. They lie.

    Shadowbanning is widely & rightly considered underhanded. Twitter has publicly claimed that they never shadow-ban anyone’s tweets. Here are two news articles about Twitter’s claims that Twitter never shadow-bans:

    1/11/2018 FoxNews article (by Christopher Carbone):
    http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2018/01/11/twitter-responds-to-project-veritas-allegation-that-it-can-share-trumps-direct-messages.html

    Excerpt:
    The company also pushed back on the notion that it uses “shadowbanning” as a way to block certain opposing viewpoints on the site:
    “Twitter does not shadowban accounts. We do take actions to downrank accounts that are abusive, and mark them accordingly so people can still to click through and see these Tweets if they so choose.”

    1/12/2018 Forbes article (by Kalev Leetaru):
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/kalevleetaru/2018/01/12/is-twitter-really-censoring-free-speech/

    Excerpt:
    However, when asked about the specific claims made in the video regarding content moderation, Twitter would provide comment only regarding “shadowbanning,” saying “Twitter does not shadowban accounts. We do take actions to downrank accounts that are abusive, and mark them accordingly so people can still to click through and see these Tweets if they so choose” and referred to its Help Center regarding “Limiting Tweet visibility.”

    I am never abusive. My tweets are never offensive. Yet some of my replies are hidden, and even someone following the person to whom I replied to cannot see my replies.

    @Jack Dorsey’s Twitter censors conservatives to enforce his left-of-center ideology and keep people confused.

    [Ironically, this post got held up by wordpress because of the large number of links – Sorry Dave!]

    Like

  37. PAUL MATTHEWS says:
    06 Aug 18 at 8:11 am

    I am always amused by Mike Hulme and his “I am not an alarmist” stance. He started the Tyndall Centre on alarms and it helped to bring in the funding.

    Some examples from Tyndall Press statements:

    7 November 2000
    What can we do about climate change?

    “As Britain battles through floods and major transport disruption, and the nations gear up for the UN climate conference at the Hague, how can responsible businesses and organisations prepare for climate change?

    Dr Mike Hulme, the Centre’s Executive Director, said: “Society is at last waking up to climate change. What might once have been considered unusual weather conditions for the UK – the recent storms and flooding, for example – are likely to be much more frequent occurrences.”

    5 September 2001
    At Risk from Climate Change: Wildlife, Plants … and Scotland

    “Earlier research carried out by Dr Hulme for the Scottish Executive modelled the possible effects of climate change on Scotland: “over the coming century warming of up to 3 degrees Celsius could take place across Scotland; this would be accompanied by increases in average wind speeds at all time of the year and increases in rainfall intensity, especially in winter. ”

    4 April 2003
    Climate change – can the natural world cope with the damage already done?

    “Global climate change poses a different type of threat: the rate of warming already exceeds anything experienced in the last 10,000 years. But can we survive this dramatically changing climate and are the Earth’s ecosystems resilient enough to survive in their current form given the other pressures they are subjected to by human development?

    This is the major challenge laid down today by Professor Mike Hulme, a senior climate change scientist at an international conference on Global climate change and biodiversity at the University of East Anglia, Norwich.

    Some of the risks associated with a rapidly changing climate may be quantifiable, many of them may not. Doing nothing is not an option,” Professor Hulme concluded.”

    Wednesday 30th November 2005
    “UK’s Tyndall Centre further funded for its groundbreaking work on climate change solutions
    Professor Mike Hulme is pleased to announce a further three years funding from the UK’s Research
    Councils to support the unique mission of the Tyndall Centre in doing high quality climate change science
    that is truly useful for both scientific theory and for policy practice. “We will continue to break new ground
    in innovative research on several national and international climate change themes and be a world
    exemplar for doing joined-up science for society” said Professor Hulme.”

    03 May 2006 for immediate release
    Archbishop of Canterbury launches Tyndall Centre’s new climate change research strategy

    “Climate change is not only about science and technology” says Professor Mike Hulme, Founding Director of the Tyndall Centre and Professor at the University of East Anglia. “Climate change raises profound questions about ethics, justice and equity affecting this and future generations and about humanity’s relationship with the planet.”

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  38. Alan comments – “…they refuse to accept the word of the foremost experts in the field about a subject clearly supported by massive evidence (for God’s sake just look around you this summer).”

    if you mean the UK, then I have lived long enough to remember a similar summer back in 75/76?
    but I never remember the jet stream being part of the forecast/reason then (may have missed it).
    how do you explain that if it’s the rising level of CO2 that is the culprit ?

    “I cared scarcely a jot what CRU thought of me, excepting Keith Briffa, who I admired and we remained colleagues and friends.”

    remember at CGate Briffa was unwell.
    as you say in another comment “I always think it good to try to stand in someone’s shoes, to try to understand their motivations and reasoning”

    from the emails he came across well in my eyes.

    Like

  39. DFHunter
    In my 05 Aug 18 at 12:00 pm post, from which you quote, about trying to step into another’s shoes, I tried to do this with Rupert. I did not think I needed a sark notice. To have a part of that effort quoted back at me as if it were genuinely my own (which in one sense is true) is very weird. Are you now asking me or this imagined Rupert? Who do you wish to reply?

    Regarding Keith Briffa’s illness: as far as I remember (and that’s uncertain as dates begin to unravel) at the time of Climategate Keith had been diagnosed but I, and other members of the School were not told. I do not know if his CRU colleagues knew. Looking back around this time, he withdrew from co-teaching with me, sending young researchers in his stead. My students chewed them up. Keith always commanded respect.

    Like

  40. In reply to Richard Drake – on the reasons why the Green Blob is not keen on participating in broadcasting media discussions with climate change sceptics:

    (a) The main reason I would say is that they want to close the whole climate change debate down. The leading figure in the idea of closing down the debate has been Al Gore, who about ten years ago was coming out with stuff like ‘the science is settled’, and dismissing any opponents as being either in the pay of Big Oil or serial conspiracy theorists who also thought the moon landings were faked. The Blob are just following the lead of their spiritual leader, Al Gore.

    (b) Another reason is the one you suggest, that they could have a fear that they might lose the debate with AGW sceptics.

    (c) Another reason which might apply particularly to Green NGOs like Greenpeace, is that they may be nervous about being involved in a future legal liability situation. A significant component of the work of Green NGOs seems to be to plan legal challenges against companies and governments, and they may be nervous, or at least their lawyers might be, that legal challenges could be mounted against them in the future. In the event that AGW science was overturned in the future, or a climatic event not helpful to AGW like a new Little Ice Age started up, their lawyers might think it would be better for them if there was no TV footage in existence which had them defending dodgy climate science against AGW sceptics. If they defend climate science in a TV discussion, then they take more responsibility for it being correct.

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  41. Dave,
    There is certainly some truth to (b). We don’t determine the credibility of some scientific ideas through formal debate. Hence if you engage in a formal debate about a science, it can end up that the party that appears to win is the one whose scientific ideas are not credible.

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  42. ATTP
    How you work out that one can “appear to win” a debate by putting forward ideas (scientific or otherwise) which are “not credible” requires explaining. You do come here, so one can hardly accuse you of shying away from debate. Perhaps if it were a bit more current on your side of the fence, you might not say such things.

    Like

  43. Geoff,
    My point was that the audience are often not experts. Therefore you can make an argument that appears convincing to non-experts, but that isn’t actually credible. As I understand it, it is indeed one reason why some scientists do not wish to engage in debates with those who dispute mainstream climate science. They are concerned that they may end up legitimising scientific views that are not actually credible.

    You do come here, so one can hardly accuse you of shying away from debate. Perhaps if it were a bit more current on your side of the fence, you might not say such things.

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by this. In this context I mostly see myself as a blogger who engages in discussions about this topic. Sometimes I do so here. I don’t have any particular goals when I do so. What do you mean by me being a bit more current on my side of the fence?

    Like

  44. Geoff wrote to Ken (ATTP), “You do come here, so one can hardly accuse you of shying away from debate.”

    I disagree with that. Unfortunately, Ken does, indeed “shy away from debate” — not here, but on his blog, by censoring people he disagrees with. Example:

    http://sealevel.info/ATTP_deleted_comment_125320.html

    That’s a shame, because Ken is far more knowledgeable than most alarmist climate bloggers, which would make for much better discussions, if he would permit them.

    I prefer to hear from and engage with both sides of the debate. For a long time, Peter Sinclair’s Climate Crocks blog was the only significant climate alarmist blog that would permit my participation, without censorship. When he, too, finally cracked down on heretics, I was left with nowhere on the alarmist side of the debate where I was welcome.

    I had high hopes for Ken’s ATTP blog, and even added a link to it on my web site. Alas, he disappointed me.

    That’s one of the striking differences between the climate realist blogs, like WUWT, and the climate alarmist blogs: Most of the climate realist blogs welcome participants from the other side of the fence, as long as they behave civilly. But the alarmist blogs are censored to enforce the Party Line. I am not aware of any high-activity Climate Movement (alarmist) blog which permits skeptics of climate alarmism to express uncensored polite disagreement with the blog owner’s viewpoint.

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  45. Dave Gardner: Thank you for the response, which I see has led to a five-way interaction, now that I’ve joined back in! I agree Al Gore has been crucial as leader and exemplar. I often point back to the same things on climate blogs and here’s another hoary example: the Boston Globe account in May 2010 on how Richard Lindzen first got involved in the AGW caper, in the context of a very interesting discussion of his evolving relationship with Kerry Emanuel:

    In 1988, he began questioning an emerging environmental issue: Man-made climate change. An economist had written him, saying he had been interrupted by then-Senator Al Gore at a Washington lunch for daring to suggest that there was uncertainty about the case for global warming.

    “That’s when I thought, wow, things have gotten really out of hand,’’ Lindzen said recently.

    He reviewed the evidence and came away a skeptic about the projections of future catastrophe. He came to see opportunism in some of those loudly sounding the global warming alarm — especially as they raced to obtain a piece of the growing pot of federal research funding on the topic. The professor who once cast his presidential vote for Democrat Michael Dukakis became a Republican.

    Back then, Emanuel agreed there wasn’t yet enough evidence. Computer models that tried to project future warming were woefully inadequate. Temperature data showing recent warming didn’t demonstrate a clear trend.

    Note how Gore was already trying to close down debate in 1988 – debate with an economist in Washington DC, implying, in the process, that there were no economic issues to be aired, because of the certainty of what the ‘science’ said. (Ben Pile would not be alone is his guffaw at this.) But, note also, in 1988 Emanuel agreed with Lindzen that “there wasn’t yet enough evidence”. So what on earth was Gore on?

    Gore was driving it, in a pre-emptive bid to use political clout to end the debate. Lindzen decided to fight back. I think we owe a great deal to the second guy. And I think this one story from 88 gives the lie to ATTP’s oh-so-reasonable sounding comments in 2018.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. ATTP:

    “We don’t determine the credibility of some scientific ideas through formal debate. Hence if you engage in a formal debate about a science, it can end up that the party that appears to win is the one whose scientific ideas are not credible.”

    This is clearly misleading nonsense from our Ken. The only scientific ideas whose credibility generally (but not always) does not benefit from formal debate are those ‘scientific ideas’ which have become generally accepted, established ‘facts’ – Newtonian mechanics, Einsteinian relativity, Maxwell’s electromagnetic equations, the foundations of quantum mechanics etc. They have all been tried, tested and verified by experiment and practical application and hence are credible.

    Ken then makes it plain that he is actually talking specifically about climate science (or purportedly established aspects thereof) as examples of those ‘scientific ideas’ whose credibility cannot be established by formal debate (especially when the audience – and presumably some of the debaters – are not ‘experts’):

    “My point was that the audience are often not experts. Therefore you can make an argument that appears convincing to non-experts, but that isn’t actually credible. As I understand it, it is indeed one reason why some scientists do not wish to engage in debates with those who dispute mainstream climate science. They are concerned that they may end up legitimising scientific views that are not actually credible.”

    I put it to you Ken that the aspects of climate science which you deem non-debatable are in fact eminently debatable, precisely because they have not been exhaustively legitimised by experiment and practical application. I further put it to you that you do not necessarily have to be an expert in the very wide field of climate science to point out inconsistencies and holes in the theories and assertions (many of them made with the precise attempt to communicate climate science to a non expert audience) of climate scientists.

    What you are in fact saying Ken is that scientists who make arguments to a non expert audience should be exempted from having to deal with the counter arguments put forward by certain members of that non expert audience, in full view of that non expert audience, because this may well give credibility to their non-scientific counter-argument (which cannot possibly be credible because climate science is established and not open to debate)!

    What I think you mean is that poor science and poor scientists should not be challenged when the future of humanity is possibly – very likely – at stake (according to that poor science and those poor scientists). What I think you mean is that scientists are less concerned with non experts illegitimately giving false credibility to counter arguments to mainstream climate science, far more concerned that the weaknesses in their arguments will be exposed by engaging in debate with the general public.

    Liked by 3 people

  47. ATTP,

    I appreciate the predicament you have outlined. However, I fail to see how debating with non-experts can be avoided, given that the key issue here is how to react to the scientific evidence, and it falls to non-experts to decide upon and support such a reaction. It is inevitable that within the community required to decide and support policy there will be some who will take some convincing and will seek to convince their peers that their scepticism is well-founded. Under such circumstances, scientists cannot spit their dummy out and simply refuse to engage in further debate, no matter how ignorant they assume the onlookers to be. Taking such a position may do more harm than good because you risk alienating your audience. Gavin Schmidt and his colleagues did not lose the infamous IQ2US debate because the audience were beguiled by the sceptic’s rhetoric and pseudoscience; they lost it because Gavin had the brass neck to accuse his audience, to their face, that they were the sort that would be so easily fooled. If you don’t believe me, watch the video and listened to the audible gasps from the audience when he attempts to make your argument.

    Liked by 3 people

  48. It has long and often been said that if you cannot explain your science to a lay person, that you don’t fully understand it. One might pose a corollary, that if you cannot convincingly expose the falsity of an opponent’s argument, then you don’t know your science sufficiently. Good and HONEST climate debators, Keith Briffa was one, are an absolute pleasure to debate. They make you think and rearrange your arguments.

    Liked by 2 people

  49. John,
    I wasn’t so much arguing that it should be avoided, I was more presenting my understanding of why some avoid taking part in media events in which they would end up debating someone who holds a position that is at odds with the available evidence.

    Alan,

    It has long and often been said that if you cannot explain your science to a lay person, that you don’t fully understand it.

    Yes, I agree with this. There is, in my view, a difference between spending time explaining scientific ideas to lay people and debating others who hold views that are at odds with the available evidence.

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  50. Alan,
    Just to add something more. I think having discussions about science with people who disagree with you is great, if it can remain pleasant and respectful. As you say, it does indeed make you think about it more deeply. However, the context here is a situation in which you get a couple of minutes (at most) to put forward some complex science. It’s not really the same as a situation in which you have time to think carefully and respond to what the other party is saying.

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  51. ATTP,

    “…I was more presenting my understanding of why some avoid taking part in media events in which they would end up debating someone who holds a position that is at odds with the available evidence.”

    This is an obvious begged question. The policy of avoiding debate could only be justified if the position you refer to is true, but the truth of the position would be the subject of the debate! You are basically saying, “why debate when you know you are right?”

    You are concerned that the truth may fall victim to rhetoric. But you seem unconcerned that the truth may fall victim to censorship.

    Liked by 3 people

  52. Ken
    How condescending.
    “There is, in my view, a difference between spending time explaining scientific ideas to lay people and debating others who hold views that are at odds with the available evidence”.

    Most debates concern what exactly is the available evidence and what it means.

    Thus translation: “I will only debate (= discuss) with those who agree with me”

    Liked by 2 people

  53. John,

    But you seem unconcerned that the truth may fall victim to censorship.

    That seems a rather hyperbolic interpretation of what I’m saying. I think those who hold views that go against the mainstream should be entitled to present them, and should be entitled to make their case. I do think, however, that serious media outlets are not obligated to present contrarian views just for balance. That’s not to say that they should never be presented, but if it is a minority view then it seems reasonable to present it far less often than the majority view. Bear in mind that we’re talking about views that are, ideally, influenced by the evidence, and are not simply people’s opinions. The media doesn’t need to include a contrarian every time they discuss a topic. I would argue that doing so does the public a disservice as it may give them the impression that the contrarian view has as much weight as the mainstream view, which would not be the correct – IMO – impression.

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  54. ATTp. Sorry I cannot reasonably be expected to incorporate a response to a comment of yours that you wrote after my post was submitted. Or are you doing really well in your physics department on time travl?

    I feel really sorry for young turks if your dictum takes hold. Anyone with original ideas (= minority positions) will automatically be relegated a lesser position. A really good way to stifle science. No wonder you don’t wish to debate and give up what you perceive to be a built in advantage.

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  55. ATTP,

    “That seems a rather hyperbolic interpretation of what I’m saying.”

    May I remind you that you had expressed empathy with someone who would “avoid taking part in media events in which they would end up debating someone who holds a position that is at odds with the available evidence”.

    There is no hyperbole in suggesting that this is censorship. There is no exaggeration in suggesting that the truth may suffer as a result of such avoidance of debate. I note, also, that you have subtly switched the debate to the question of whether one should obligate “serious media outlets” to provide a contrarian view, or whether such views are disproportionately represented.

    Can we please stick to debating what you said, and not what you would now like me to believe you had said? We still need to explore the logical difficulty in downgrading an opinion that is “at odds with the available data” when the opinion concerned relates directly to what is, and is not, at odds.

    Liked by 1 person

  56. John,
    I’m failing to see how individuals choosing not to engage in a debate is a form of censorship. Insisting that they did would seem to violate their right to choose, wouldn’t it? The comment about media outlets seems entirely relevant. We’re talking about them choosing to put contrarians up against mainstream scientists; that’s essentially the issue. Many regard that, justifiably in my view, as a form of false balance.

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  57. Let’s cut to the chase ATTP. The refusal to debate and the justification for not doing so, is not confined exclusively to non expert ‘contrarians’, It applies equally to sceptical scientists. I quote: the Union of Concerned Scientists refuses to debate Professor Roy Spencer because doing so would be a “public disservice” and “give his extreme ideas credibility” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYKggC5VOzA 1’20” onwards). Gavin Schmidt then proves the point by refusing to publicly debate with Prof Spencer! It’s cowardice pure and simple; the knowledge that by engaging in a debate, they personally might come off worse and thereby lose face but, more importantly, the science upon which global warming alarmism rests might be proved to be lacking in certain key areas when subjected to rational, straightforward, intelligent and informed interrogation.

    Liked by 2 people

  58. ATTP,

    When scientists make statements regarding the importance of evidence, and then expect society to invest hugely in a course of action that relies entirely upon the veracity of such statements, you’re damned right that they have no prerogative whatsoever to refuse to engage in a debate requested by those who remain unconvinced. As for the question of censorship, the serious media outlets, as you put it, are under increasing pressure not only to restrict publicity for contrarians (as befits the level of scientific consensus) but to deny such publicity altogether – sometimes under protest by petulant laypeople such as Rupert Read, whose only credentials on the subject seem to be his willingness to accept scientific consensus uncritically.

    The bottom line is that there are some who are so entirely convinced of their own position that they take for granted that alternative views are false – hence no need for debate, and therefore no need to take the unnecessary risk of losing the debate to a silver-tongued naysayer.

    I’m still waiting for you to actually address the point I (and Alan and Jaime) have made regarding the illogic of predicating the redundancy for debate upon a position that the debate is supposed to address.

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  59. Hence if you engage in a formal debate about a science, it can end up that the party that appears to win is the one whose scientific ideas are not credible.

    The horror!

    The certainty, however, of not debating is that the non credible scientific idea will win. Us sceptics have gained much ground by virtue of green intransigence.

    If one wants ‘scientific ideas’ which are ‘credible’ to prevail, one must risk debate. Eschewing debate loses the opportunity to understand the counterposition, to improve the argument, and to convince those open to persuasion, even if it risks seeming to lend credibility to the counterposition.

    Why so much hand-wringing about credibility?

    The broader expectation of establishment environmentalism is deference, or more crudely: obedience. The point of elevating expertise is to create a new layer of governance between government and governed. You can scream and shout as much as you like that ‘climate change is happening’, but this increasing distance is the significantly more necessarily true fact. It follows also, that whether or not the climate is changing, those who have invested political capital in the idea of it for good or bad ends, also need it to be true. We do not have to look hard to find ‘science’ put to nefarious ends.

    Sadly, there is also the phenomenon of the ‘scientifically credible’ not taking to task the purveyors of convenient bullshit. To which it may be replied that the ‘scientifically credible’ are no more obliged to correct rampant alarmists than rabid deniers. Which is fine, as long as you’re not hoping to convince anyone of anything.

    Democracy is inconvenient. And so are other people.

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  60. I’ve been lurking without commenting for a while, but this debate piqued my interest more than most.

    Superficially aTTP’s position has merit, but only superficially. Although I think all of the criticisms of it made here are valid, I think John Ridgway hits the nail on the head. Climate scepticism is about so much more than just questioning the science and the models with their alarmist predictions. It includes (but is not limited to) questioning the often expensive policy prescriptions that are increasingly predicated on the alarmist interpretation of the science; and includes questioning the validity of claims that are made around the generality of the policy prescriptions (e.g. questioning the utility of the Paris Agreement; e.g. pointing out that the UK could go 100% renewable – assuming that’s actually possible – but that so long as China, India etc carry on with their own population growth and energy policies it will provide no meaningful benefit at all, even assuming one accepts the alarmist position). Etc, etc. Refusing to debate those issues is cowardly and undemocratic when at the same time demanding that the money be spent and the policies adopted without question.

    The NHS is close to a national religion in the UK, but even there I cannot imagine anyone advocating investing £10s or hundreds of billions in it without being expected to debate and justify the expense. Ditto any lawyer who said the Court system was falling to pieces and that £billions need to spent on it; or indeed anyone advocating any particular position. All – however specialised their claims and however complex their arguments and however great their expertise – would be expected to debate their claims in order to justify them. Why should climate science get a free pass? Why is it so special?

    Liked by 1 person

  61. The climate debate is the rest of politics, in microcosm.

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  62. I’ve always surprised that intelligent people fall for this (ATTP’s backpedaling
    and dissembling). Every. Single. Time.

    My impression is that most regular posters on here value a free society where
    anything and everything is up for debate. There is an ideological divide
    which gets convolved with the science and evidence of climate change more
    so than anything else currently I would say. Using ‘consensus’ and ‘the science
    is settled’ is just used as a weapon to justify not debating with ‘contrarians’
    and to coerce societies into agreeing to policy decisions that are almost certainly
    not in their best interest.

    I’m surprised Cliscep is not yet classified as an Al-Right site so it can also be
    dismissed.

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  63. Jona. I don’t entirely agree with you. ATTP commonly acts like a bacterium and Cliscep’s immune system does spring into action. However, this is not just a mindless reaction. Look at the responses this time, each is a reasoned argument, rebutting what has been proposed. ATTP provides a useful service, toning up our responses to climate bullying. If you are correct then I am guilty and I am pleased to be.

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  64. I say ‘apparatchik’ only half jokingly. After all, Ward is policy and communications director at the CCCeP.

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  65. I think the climate twitterati provide excellent evidence for the
    infallibility of their arguments…

    A cursory look indicates an inverse correlation of knowledge of
    economics and political history to belief that global coercion
    and wealth redistribution will save the planet.

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  66. You’re right, Jon. Which is why the London School of Economics and Political Science makes a perfect host for them. Giddens and the late Beck, Stern… Their motto is if at first you don’t succeed, shout louder about the Apocalypse.

    It’s not unlike the phenomenon of Rupert the Philosopher @UEA, who knows more about climate change than philosophy, because any philosophical claim can be evaluated with respect to its position on climate change.

    It’s enough of a phenomenon to wonder what the epidemiologists might have to say about it. Except I hear they’re busy working out how to promote the Paris agreement to the under 12s.

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  67. I must admit that I’ve somewhat lost track of what the whole point is here (I’m clearly wrong, but I’m not quite sure whether I’m wrong about what I actually said, or what some people think I said, or what people think I mean even though I didn’t actually say it). Going back a few steps, the basic point is about someone refusing to go on the radio to take part in segment that would include someone who they regarded as holding scientific views that were wrong (as do I). I think they’re entitled to make that decision. Others were asked and the segment went ahead anyway. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone criticise those who elected to take part (other than the person they regard as holding incorrect scientific views), so this is simply about an individual making a decision about their own participation. Clearly they also regard the inclusion of that other person as a form of false balance. I think that we should be willing to consider all views. I don’t think, though, that all views should be included at all times. Partly because this is clearly not possible and partly because the media has some responsibility to present the public with some sense of what views are regarded as credible by a majority of experts, and what views are not.

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  68. this is simply about an individual making a decision about their own participation.

    If Ken would read the post, he would see that Read and others were campaigning to persuade others not to engage with recalcitrant climate voices. They make an ‘ethic’ of not appearing against sceptics, and ultimately threaten not to participate if broadcasters feature sceptics at all.

    That, not ‘an individual making a decision about their own participation’ is what is at issue.

    That Ken cannot recognise that that is the issue raises a new question about individuals’ competence to participate in debate.

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  69. ATTP. Oh from what a lofty perch you do pontificate. I suppose it never enters your head that you could be wrong about any part of your climate mantra? A little bit of humble would not go amiss.

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  70. Geoff — Rupert Read has co-authored a paper on the precautionary principle with Nassim Taleb.

    Such a disappointment. Read is surely the epitome of an IYI. And GM is Taleb’s blind spot.

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  71. Alan,
    I often worry that I’m wrong, and often am wrong. Not sure what that has to do with this particular situation. I think people are entitled to decide to not participate in media activities if they wish not to do so, and I think it’s fine for people to campaign against media outlets giving an undue voice to scientific views that are in the minority (and that many would argue are not supported by the evidence).

    Let’s be clear about something. This is simply about the science. This is not arguing that those who oppose climate policy, or have different policy options, should not be heard. I think many regard that as exactly the point. We should be debating the things that are uncertain (what should we do, given the scientific information available to us?) not the things about which we’re reasonably certain (are humans causing global warming?)

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  72. From N N-Taleb’s collaboration with Read:

    http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/climateletter.pdf

    This leads to the following asymmetry in climate policy. The scale of the effect must be demonstrated to be large enough to have impact. Once this is shown, and it has been, the burden of proof of absence of harm is on those who would deny it.

    … And then they will not debate and not listen to the reply to the challenge, willingly received. So much for ‘burden of proof’.

    NNT can be found making sensible comments about environmentalism elsewhere, however.

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  73. This is simply about the science.

    The question whether or not to debate has nothing whatsoever to do with science.

    Liked by 1 person

  74. It does if the question is “should we debate the science?”

    It doesn’t, because, a priori, ‘should we debate the science’ is not science, and within science, science is not possible without something at least analogous to debate. But more to the point, the problem for your claim is that ‘science’ is a fig leaf, albeit one that blew away, long ago.

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  75. An explanation of my aggressive stance at 2.59pm. I get really, really p!ssed off when people like Ken write things like “Oh where were we”? or “Oh I’ve lost track”, but show their utter contempt for us because attached to these is the hidden comment ” but I just cannot be arsed to read your responses. Here, however are more of my wonderful thoughts for you to consider (= waste your time upon)”.

    Liked by 1 person

  76. This…

    But when you write blatantly insulting comments, that’s okay? Others aren’t allowed to get p!ssed off by those?

    … is not science.

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  77. ATTL. Please do get p!ssed off. At least you would be paying attention, which you appear to be admitting you couldn’t be bothered with previously. I note that you are leaving gaping holes in your responses. Debating skills not up to it?

    Liked by 1 person

  78. ATTP,

    You can remonstrate as much as you want regarding the presupposed prerogative not to debate, and whether anyone on this site has truly understood what you had meant by what you said, but that does not alter the fact that you have still to comment upon the following central issue:

    A refusal to debate with those who believe that the evidence does not support a given position cannot be justified by claiming that the evidence does support a given position. To do so is the very definition of a begged question. Do you agree or not?

    The reason why I am anxious to hear your views on this question of logic has nothing to do with what I think you are doing. It has, however, everything to do with what I think is happening when the likes of Rupert Read behave the way they do.

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  79. aTTP again makes a reasonable-sounding statement, but on analysis, again it does not stand up to scrutiny:

    “Let’s be clear about something. This is simply about the science. This is not arguing that those who oppose climate policy, or have different policy options, should not be heard. I think many regard that as exactly the point. We should be debating the things that are uncertain (what should we do, given the scientific information available to us?) not the things about which we’re reasonably certain (are humans causing global warming?)”

    As a statement that’s mostly unexceptionable; it’s the last few words that are the problem (“We should…[not] be debating…the things about which we’re reasonably certain (are humans causing global warming?)”).

    In what other field could you expect to get away with saying you should not debate the things about which we are REASONABLY certain (i.e. in respect of which, by definition – given the use of the word “reasonably”, rather than the word “absolutely” – there is some uncertainty)? It also begs the question about the EXTENT to which humans are causing global warming. That extent plays directly into the debate about climate policy and different policy options. aTTP says debate about those latter are legitimate – but any such debate would be facile and incomplete without debating the former.

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  80. John,

    A refusal to debate with those who believe that the evidence does not support a given position cannot be justified by claiming that the evidence does support a given position. To do so is the very definition of a begged question. Do you agree or not?

    If such a debate/discussion/scientific enquiry had never happened, then I would agree with you. However, it has happened and has largely been resolved. You can’t expect the scientific community to keep revisiting scientific ideas just because a small fraction want to do so. This doesn’t stop them from continuing to investigate, on the off chance that the scientific community is wrong, but the community overall doesn’t need to continue engaging with these ideas if they regard them as almost certainly wrong.

    Mark,

    In what other field could you expect to get away with saying you should not debate the things about which we are REASONABLY certain

    Biology (evolution), astronomy (flat earth), physics (someone claiming to have shown Einstein was wrong – although his ideas are still being tested). I think there are many disciplines in which there are views held by some minority that are not regarded as credible by the majority.

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  81. aTTP:

    “Biology (evolution), astronomy (flat earth), physics (someone claiming to have shown Einstein was wrong – although his ideas are still being tested). I think there are many disciplines in which there are views held by some minority that are not regarded as credible by the majority.”

    And how many of those areas involve demands that humankind changes the way it lives at great expense and inconvenience?

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  82. Mark,
    That’s a different question. I would still argue that scientists are not obligated to engage with scientific ideas that they regard as having been thoroughly tested and rejected. This doesn’t preclude those who still regard those ideas as credible continuing to work on them and continuing to try to convince others of the possibility that the ideas are indeed credible. They should do the work. They shouldn’t – in my view – simply expect others to engage with their ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

  83. aTTP

    You and I seem to have established a modus operandi these days. Where scientists’ work leads into demands to incur financial obligations of a potentially enormous amount, then I believe the 2 aspects (science and policy) are inextricably linked, and one cannot meaningfully be debated without the other.

    As so often, we shall have to agree to differ.

    Liked by 1 person

  84. John — To do so is the very definition of a begged question.

    Climate activists do not like to be held to any logic, especially their own. So they refuse to admit to what their own claims ought to bind them to. To adhere to a logical principle would bind them in the same way that providing real substance to climate claims would deprive Read (and Taleb) for example, of the Precautionary Principle.

    This is why greens prefer ‘ethics’. They are a moveable feast. After the population bomb, resource depletion, acid rain, ozone depletion and then global warming, the same claims are merely transposed. ‘Really, you don’t care about starving children/future generations/polar bears/ancient forests/…?!’ To be sceptical of the claims is to invite the catastrophe. Which is ‘unethical’.

    Logic is a great leveler. You can’t hide behind logic in the way that you can hide behind ‘ethics’ like saving the planet. Read makes an ethic out of not debating with sceptics after having placed the burden of proof on them, because to debate the fact of the heatwave is to give credence to the idea that ‘climate change is not happening’, even if it isn’t the subject of debate. He turns the ethic into a campaign. And then Ken says ‘oh, it’s his personal choice’.

    Even their ‘ethics’ don’t apply to them. Read could have organised a march, founded a political party, and written a manifesto all about not participating in debate, and Ken would still claim that Read’s non-participation was merely the expression of personal preference rather than the expression of a deeper problem with the ‘pro-climate’ perspective — its ‘ideology’.

    To argue with Consensus Enforcers is to confront an interminable cascade of whingeing self-justification and special pleading.

    Liked by 1 person

  85. Here is the video of Gavin Schmidt refusing to debate, linked to above by Jaime…

    There is sufficient ‘data’, then, to make the case that the refusal to debate is ideological. It reflects both the climate activists’ strategy and their formulation of a political order — a hierarchy, if you will.

    Frankly, I hope they keep it up. Because ultimately they will alienate themselves — their entitled, intransigent petulance epitomised by Schmidt (which seems to be the default personality type of climate activists, in fact) will become more visible.

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  86. Notice that with Roy Spencer, Read, Ken, or Schmidt cannot say ‘it’s about science’. Because what is disputed is not ‘climate change is happening’.

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  87. ATTP,

    “If such a debate/discussion/scientific enquiry had never happened, then I would agree with you.”

    No, you would agree with me if my logic was correct. You would disagree if my logic was incorrect, i.e. if I had misunderstood what a begged question was. You say that the debate has already taken place and has been settled (presumably because there is consensus within the scientific community), but that is just another claim that is subject to the debate.

    A debate isn’t settled when one party decides they have won. You might be confident that there is no harm on this occasion to beg the question, but the fact remains that the question is begged – unless, of course, you would like to redefine this logical term for your own purposes.

    I appreciate that you have sincerely attempted to answer my question but, in the words of the Bard: “Fetch me a better answer.”

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  88. it has happened and has largely been resolved

    What debate? What was resolved? When? By whom?

    The imprecision of the climate warrior’s claim is its only strength. It can mean anything.

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  89. Perhaps my final comment yesterday evening was a little too emollient. I could, and perhaps should, have said that the science is not settled. I accept that greenhouse gases emanating from mankind’s activities may be affecting our climate. I’m not a scientist, and I’m not in a position to do anything other than accept what most scientists tell me in this regard.

    However, there are other scientific – or at least quasi-scientific – issues that are very much up for debate, for example, but not limited to the following:

    To what extent are man-made GHGs affecting the climate and/or temperature?

    Does this outweigh natural climate change?

    Can we truly say we fully understand the temperature record? By this, I mean that there are many adjustments made to the record, and much homogenisation and reliance on proxies (that old debate) due to the paucity of accurate records both in time and place. Are those adjustments and homogenisation 100% understood, accurate and reliable? Ditto proxies.

    To what extent is the climate influenced by other man-made activities, such as forest clearance, and is this more or less important than the release of GHGs?

    Is there really a “tipping-point” and if so, do we really understand when, if at all, it will be reached?

    All these questions involve scientific or quasi-scientific areas where nothing is settled, but where some climate alarmists would like the public to believe there is nothing left to discuss. And that’s before we start to discuss the policy issues emanating from the science.

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  90. Ben,

    “What debate? What was resolved? When? By whom?”

    That is precisely the point. The debatable issue is “Is there anything outstanding worthy of dispute?” The likes of Rupert Read say this debate shouldn’t take place but the reason they give is that there is nothing outstanding worthy of dispute, blithely ignoring that the reason given is worthy of dispute. When ATTP says that the debate has already been held and settled he is, in my opinion, making the same logical error. I think he mistakes certitude for certainty. But then, I would say that wouldn’t I?

    Your point that the claims of resolution are too vague is also well taken. Until one gets down to specifics one cannot make any progress.

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  91. JR – Until one gets down to specifics…

    It would be an interesting exercise to attempt to enumerate all the problems that emerge from Read (et al), including Schmidt and our pal, Ken, as they have been raised here. I suggest the following outline…

    1. Logical problems. Begging the question and so on.

    2. Political/’ideological’ problems. What is implied or stated ‘must be done’. I.e. censor debate, refuse to participate, lobby the BBC.

    3. Ethical problems. Normative claims (for thee, typically), which aren’t necessarily for category 2.

    4. Truth/fact claims. Claims such as ‘the debate has been had’.

    We could turn it into a post when completed.

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  92. While people mull that over… This just in from the only-expressing-a-personal-preference-nobody-is-arguing-for-censorship department…

    https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2018/08/15/bob-ward-complains-to-ipso-and-loses/

    Bob Ward took umbrage to this and decided to complain to IPSO, the Press Regulator, firing off a typically long winded, rambling and inchoate multipage letter.

    Ward was particularly vexed that Booker should listen to a “mere blogger”, rather than NOAA or the Met Office! But his ramble boiled down to just two simple points, which he claimed had been inaccurately reported: […]

    Another complaint to the censor from the Ward. And another rejection.

    But who needs debate about what kind of world climateers want to create, right?

    We can take their beneficence for granted. They are the ethical ones.

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