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The Victims of Climate Alarmism

Climate “scientist” Kate Marvel has posted another of her infantile rants at “Scientific” American. With the excuse of Halloween, it’s even sillier than usual.

In 2018, the idea that we need a special holiday to be scared feels a little strange. Zombies, vampires, and werewolves don’t seem so frightening when the real world provides us with Vladimir Putin, white supremacists, and greenhouse gas emissions. And trust me, as a climate scientist, I’m frightened every day. Watching our best projections of future climate is like watching a horror movie you can’t walk out of. And the worst part is the willful ignorance of the characters. I mean, who could be so stupid as to walk straight into a house they know is haunted?

These “best projections” apparently include the ratpocalyse:

The hallway teems with rats, some the size of human infants. Climate change, it has been pointed out by skeptics, will be good for some species. And this turns out to be true, just not for humans. The shorter winters mean longer breeding seasons for urban rats, and they’re manifestly enjoying themselves. In these increasingly ideal breeding conditions, two rats can, within three years, turn in to almost half a billion.

It’s an amazing coincidence, I’ve noticed, that climate change is so discerning in its effects on wildlife — anything cute and cuddly, like say, to choose such an animal at random, a koala, is going to be threatened by climate change, but any nasty animal like a rat is going to increase catastrophically in just a few years.

Now of course it’s easy for us to laugh at charlatans like Marvel, and the organisations that are so keen to give people like her a platform.  But the point of this post is not just to ridicule another so-called scientist making things up (“There is no beer”) to promote her political agenda.

The serious point is that because scientists are generally regarded as trustworthy, the actions of people like her have serious consequence for other people’s mental health. Some people, unfortunately, perhaps those who are more vulnerable, have less understanding of science, or less experience of previous bogus scare stories, really believe this nonsense, and are terrified.

Here are a few comments posted from the website reddit, all from different people, all within the last month:

Will civilization soon come to an end due to climate change and are there any estimates when? … I want to try and enjoy my time with my family and friends, but i’m afraid of not having enough time and things getting crazy really soon. I’m 20 years old and i’m scared i’m going to be alive when stuff gets really bad.

Hey everyone, I’ve lurked on this sub a little bit, but this is the first post I’m made, so I’m sorry if this gets asked a lot. But with so many studies saying that there aren’t enough resources to go around, humans can’t undo changes they’ve made at this point, carbon capture is still years away etc. is there reason for hope? Do we really have a chance or should I just pack up shop and set up a bunker. I’m sorry if this sounds like a joke but honestly I don’t know what to do. This shit has me so worried it consumes almost every thought I have. How do you all cope?

With the consequences of climate change playing out in real time, would it be inhumane to intentionally father a child?

How Should I Live When Facing Catastrophe? I, like many people, read the most recent climate report and kind of freaked out. I spent the evening ranting to my wife that I didn’t know what we were supposed to do.

Is there no hope? I feel like a lot of what I’m reading is really getting at me as a depressive person, and with how idiotic the political climate here in America is as a person concerned about our climate change issues I can’t help but feel hopeless and depressed about the future. I don’t know if I’ll want to live 20 years from now if what I’m reading is any indication of our future outcome… am I only seeing one side? Is my worry being blown out of proportion? Is there any hope? Could you guys maybe enlighten me a bit? I’m having a real anxiety and depression attack right now and could use some more informed opinions…

Collapse is making me depressed. I watch Paul Beckwith and Guy Mcpherson, and other cynics like Chris Hedges every day. I keep telling my self its over, and its time to enjoy myself… But that concerned part of me keeps coming back.

How do you cope? So I always knew that climate change was a problem, but I’ve been falsely assuming that the government would fix the issue. When the IPCC report came out a few weeks ago, I was directed to this sub and that is when it all hit me. I’ve been researching this issue non-stop, and the more I find out, the more I realize how fucked we all are…
My question for you guys is if this has caused you to feel depressed and hopeless, how do you motivate yourself to get up everyday and keep on going? How do you keep on fighting even when you know it won’t matter?

How do climate activists like Kate Marvel sleep at night, with all this on their conscience?

196 thoughts on “The Victims of Climate Alarmism

  1. Reading Marvel’s article reminds me of The Doors, ‘The End’. She’s about as whacked out as Morrison was:

    This is the end
    Beautiful friend
    This is the end
    My only friend

    The end
    Of our elaborate plans
    The end
    Of everything that stands
    The end
    No safety or surprise
    The end
    I’ll never look into your eyes
    Again

    Can you picture what will be
    So limitless and free
    Desperately in need of some stranger’s hand
    In a desperate land

    Lost in a Roman wilderness of pain
    And all the children are insane
    All the children are insane
    Waiting for the summer rain, yeah.

    The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on
    He took a face from the ancient gallery
    And he walked on down the hall
    He went into the room where his sister lived, and…then he
    Paid a visit to his brother, and then he
    He walked on down the hall, and
    And he came to a door…and he looked inside
    “Father?” “Yes, son.” “I want to kill you.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Indeed. Being going on for many years, apparently with many of the environmental and climate front line professionals themselves affected first, sometimes to the point of needing treatment. See the excerpt below from a series at WUWT back in 2014, ‘Wrapped in Lew Papers: The psychology of climate psychologization – Part3’. This is what happens when avid belief collides head on with reality. But it is to be doubted that the ‘climate prophets’, which label even von Storch used and he’s no skeptic, lose any sleep at all over such consequences. They believe avidly too, so they think they are striving to do the noblest thing, so the only issue that’s likely to keep them awake at night is: ‘are they doing enough to save the world’?

    —-excerpt—-

    In another recent series of messages from environmental scientists in Lewandowsky’s homeland of Australia, at Scared Scientists (h/t WUWT),the emotive focus shifts from a sympathy-grabbing sadness and bewilderment to a straight pitch at fear, as one might gather from the label of these guys and gals. Each of 8 messages (1 from each scientist) is headlined in capitals ‘FEAR: XYZ’, where XYZ is the particular fear each scientist claims is their particular biggy. Aside from the usual parasitical memes of alarm getting a cozy living once more, overall the transmission of misinformation about the certainty of various dooms, plus the certainty in the simplistic solution, is quite something to behold. This is a very strong pitch indeed; it seems these scared scientists haven’t seen the research threads mentioned in post 2 (from within the Consensus!) pointing out that fear-based appeals don’t work and tend to turn people off. Or maybe they ignored that; the whole exercise has more than a whiff of desperation. The kind of desperation folks feel when the real world crashes into the serious cultural bias one has been soaked in for years, or maybe decades; in this case, the culture of catastrophe founded upon the misinformation of certainty.

    In the article ‘a climate of despair’ from the Syndey Morning Herald, we learn that climate depression (aka “ecoanxiety” or “doomer depression” or “apocalypse fatigue”) is apparently not uncommon, and on the rise. Psychologist Susie Burke is quoted in the article:
    ∙∙∙∙∙∙“We can be very sure that many people in the field of climate change are distressed – highly distressed – and it can have a significant psychosocial impact on their wellbeing.
    The article highlights the case of one sufferer, biologist and ecologist Nicole Thornton, who slid towards some kind of breakdown after the failure of the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference. In her own words:
    ∙∙∙∙∙∙‘“Every time I talked about environmental issues, I would start crying, which I think is a really unusual response,” she says. “I’m a scientist, so I like to break things down – to drivers and causes – but I was confused. I had never heard of anyone who had something like this.”
    Fortunately Thornton sought help and is much improved, now using her experience to help others.
    ∙∙∙∙∙∙‘Thornton, 41, is currently on a break – of sorts. She is part of a fellowship program with the Centre for Sustainability Leadership, with 49 other aspiring change agents. She is using her time in that program to create an online health and wellbeing hub, catered to cases like her own. “Peers have talked to me about burnout, anxiety, panic attacks, complete disengagement, and frustration leading to despair and, when you think about it, this stuff is always around you in the environmental field. It’s notorious. They get so involved, and they’re so passionate and they don’t take breaks.

    The really interesting thing is that there appears to be an awful lot of folks needing help, and some of the symptoms discussed in the article are serious. Yet this is exactly what one would expect from a clash of reality with cultural bias. ‘Apocalypse fatigue’ is a highly appropriate term. The Consensus has massively oversold the certainty of apocalypse, leading to bewilderment and despair, and worse, within its ranks as they perceive the world is not reacting sufficiently. In the minds of these unfortunate folks, we are driving towards a brick wall at high speed, why wouldn’t they be stressed?!

    There is not a whiff of skepticism in this Sydney Morning Herald article; all is pitched from a Consensus viewpoint regarding attitudes to climate change. For instance early this year, Burke presented on mental health and the environment at one of Al Gore’s Climate Reality shindigs. Yet despite they are trying to help, apparently no professionals have even started to question, at a fundamental level, why their ‘weary campaigners’ are falling over like ninepins. Instead, they seem to be concentrating on sticking plasters:
    ∙∙∙∙∙∙‘Burke has gone so far as to release “tip sheets” to help people face the reality of climate change without a sense of dread – a kind of step-by-step guide for managing feelings and changing behaviour.
    She and her colleague, Dr Grant Blashki of the Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne, have even been called on by organisations that need help dealing with the overall melancholy affecting their troops.

    Actually sticking plaster is probably a very kind description. Most of the webpage for the tip sheets is about changing behavior to be more eco-conformant, not in any way that might address one’s actual psychological problem. The sticking plaster sections recommend taking a break from news and TV, spending time with loved ones (well fine, but this is a ‘sugar meme’), being optimistic (good) and being well-informed (great… but An Inconvenient Truth is suggested). Hmmm… given a high court judge ruled regarding An Inconvenient Truth that nine key errors arose “in the context of alarmism and exaggeration”, and that the “apocalyptic vision” presented in the film was politically partisan and not an impartial scientific analysis, does anyone think this would be a good cure for one’s eco-anxiety or apocalypse fatigue? Even if there were zero errors in it, would yet another apocalyptic vision be a workable cure? The ‘change your behavior’ parts of the webpage (by far the majority) include many eco-friendly things one is advised to do, plus other behaviors such as ‘associate with like-minded people’ and ‘encourage others to change’. Depending on the eco-policies supported this may or may not be good for the planet (some eco-policies seem to be causing more distress and damage than good, for instance the bio-fuel debacle), but either way this isn’t going to actually address a sufferer’s core psychological problem. And any cult leader would recognize a basic formula beneath the gentle and erudite words here: perform the acts of faith, associate with the faithful, convert the unfaithful. Even if all this was provably and unquestionably ‘right’ regarding the bigger picture, such advice is all about helping the cause, not about helping the individual.

    Other supposed healers such as psychotherapist Rosemary Randall, take the same ‘change your behavior’ approach in an attempt to cure ‘climate anxiety’ using discussion groups:
    ∙∙∙∙∙∙‘Through conversation, we have a lot of material which we use in the groups which show people where the emissions are and what the actions are that they can do to affect that. We talk about what the obstacles are, and what the process is of making those changes.
    This is all much too reminiscent of telling shell-shocked troops to simply pull themselves together, believe in the next big push, and get back in the trenches to carry on fighting; recommendations given before shell-shock became a recognized medical condition. There appears to be a similar and sizeable gap in understanding here; a major inconsistency with how mental trauma would be analyzed and addressed in non-climate domains.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “How do climate activists like Kate Marvel sleep at night, with all this on their conscience?”
    This question has a false premise. Activists are not to blame. In fact they ask the same question of us deniers. “All this” is not on their conscience at all, it should be on the conscience of people like us. They are on the side of the righteous, they can sleep soundly.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kate Marvel and her colleagues are troubled souls and need help before they disturb too many others. Here is what is needed:

    Fortunately, there is help for climate alarmists. They can join or start a chapter of Alarmists Anonymous. By following the Twelve Step Program, it is possible to recover and unite in service to the real world and humanity.

    Step One: Fully concede (admit) to our innermost selves that we were addicted to climate fear mongering.

    Step Two: Come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves causes weather and climate, restoring us to sanity.

    Step Three: Make a decision to study and understand how the natural world works.

    Step Four: Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, our need to frighten others and how we have personally benefited by expressing alarms about the climate.

    Step Five: Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our exaggerations and false claims.

    Step Six: Become ready to set aside these notions and actions we now recognize as objectionable and groundless.

    Step Seven: Seek help to remove every single defect of character that produced fear in us and led us to make others afraid.

    Step Eight: Make a list of all persons we have harmed and called “deniers”, and become willing to make amends to them all.

    Step Nine: Apologize to people we have frightened or denigrated and explain the errors of our ways.

    Step Ten: Continue to take personal inventory and when new illusions creep into our thinking, promptly renounce them.

    Step Eleven: Dedicate ourselves to gain knowledge of natural climate factors and to deepen our understanding of nature’s powers and ways of working.

    Step Twelve: Having awakened to our delusion of climate alarm, we try to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Hey, my post of 10:16 just disappeared, doesn’t even say ‘in moderation’ now! Here’s what I think I said as close as I can remember:

    Indeed. This has been going on for years, and apparently first affected the environmental and climate front line professionals, to the extent that some of them needed treatment. See the excerpt below from the 2014 series at WUWT, ‘Wrapped in Lew Papers: The psychology of climate psychologization – Part3’. This is what happens when avid belief collides with reality. However, the ‘climate prophets’, a term used by Von Storch and he’s no climate skeptic, will not lose any sleep over this consequence. They are avid believers too, so the only thing they are likely to lose sleep over is, ‘am I doing enough to save the world?’

    Just in case, this time I’ll put the excerpt in a separate post below, and with all the embedded links stripped out too…

    Like

  6. —-excerpt, this time with all the embedded links taken out—-

    In another recent series of messages from environmental scientists in Lewandowsky’s homeland of Australia, at Scared Scientists (h/t WUWT), the emotive focus shifts from a sympathy-grabbing sadness and bewilderment to a straight pitch at fear, as one might gather from the label of these guys and gals. Each of 8 messages (1 from each scientist) is headlined in capitals ‘FEAR: XYZ’, where XYZ is the particular fear each scientist claims is their particular biggy. Aside from the usual parasitical memes of alarm getting a cozy living once more, overall the transmission of misinformation about the certainty of various dooms, plus the certainty in the simplistic solution, is quite something to behold. This is a very strong pitch indeed; it seems these scared scientists haven’t seen the research threads mentioned in post 2 (from within the Consensus!) pointing out that fear-based appeals don’t work and tend to turn people off. Or maybe they ignored that; the whole exercise has more than a whiff of desperation. The kind of desperation folks feel when the real world crashes into the serious cultural bias one has been soaked in for years, or maybe decades; in this case, the culture of catastrophe founded upon the misinformation of certainty.

    In the article ‘a climate of despair’ from the Syndey Morning Herald, we learn that climate depression (aka “ecoanxiety” or “doomer depression” or “apocalypse fatigue”) is apparently not uncommon, and on the rise. Psychologist Susie Burke is quoted in the article:
    ∙∙∙∙∙∙“We can be very sure that many people in the field of climate change are distressed – highly distressed – and it can have a significant psychosocial impact on their wellbeing.
    The article highlights the case of one sufferer, biologist and ecologist Nicole Thornton, who slid towards some kind of breakdown after the failure of the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference. In her own words:
    ∙∙∙∙∙∙‘“Every time I talked about environmental issues, I would start crying, which I think is a really unusual response,” she says. “I’m a scientist, so I like to break things down – to drivers and causes – but I was confused. I had never heard of anyone who had something like this.”
    Fortunately Thornton sought help and is much improved, now using her experience to help others.
    ∙∙∙∙∙∙‘Thornton, 41, is currently on a break – of sorts. She is part of a fellowship program with the Centre for Sustainability Leadership, with 49 other aspiring change agents. She is using her time in that program to create an online health and wellbeing hub, catered to cases like her own. “Peers have talked to me about burnout, anxiety, panic attacks, complete disengagement, and frustration leading to despair and, when you think about it, this stuff is always around you in the environmental field. It’s notorious. They get so involved, and they’re so passionate and they don’t take breaks.

    The really interesting thing is that there appears to be an awful lot of folks needing help, and some of the symptoms discussed in the article are serious. Yet this is exactly what one would expect from a clash of reality with cultural bias. ‘Apocalypse fatigue’ is a highly appropriate term. The Consensus has massively oversold the certainty of apocalypse, leading to bewilderment and despair, and worse, within its ranks as they perceive the world is not reacting sufficiently. In the minds of these unfortunate folks, we are driving towards a brick wall at high speed, why wouldn’t they be stressed?!

    There is not a whiff of skepticism in this Sydney Morning Herald article; all is pitched from a Consensus viewpoint regarding attitudes to climate change. For instance early this year, Burke presented on mental health and the environment at one of Al Gore’s Climate Reality shindigs. Yet despite they are trying to help, apparently no professionals have even started to question, at a fundamental level, why their ‘weary campaigners’ are falling over like ninepins. Instead, they seem to be concentrating on sticking plasters:
    ∙∙∙∙∙∙‘Burke has gone so far as to release “tip sheets” to help people face the reality of climate change without a sense of dread – a kind of step-by-step guide for managing feelings and changing behaviour.
    She and her colleague, Dr Grant Blashki of the Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne, have even been called on by organisations that need help dealing with the overall melancholy affecting their troops.

    Actually sticking plaster is probably a very kind description. Most of the webpage for the tip sheets is about changing behavior to be more eco-conformant, not in any way that might address one’s actual psychological problem. The sticking plaster sections recommend taking a break from news and TV, spending time with loved ones (well fine, but this is a ‘sugar meme’), being optimistic (good) and being well-informed (great… but An Inconvenient Truth is suggested). Hmmm… given a high court judge ruled regarding An Inconvenient Truth that nine key errors arose “in the context of alarmism and exaggeration”, and that the “apocalyptic vision” presented in the film was politically partisan and not an impartial scientific analysis, does anyone think this would be a good cure for one’s eco-anxiety or apocalypse fatigue? Even if there were zero errors in it, would yet another apocalyptic vision be a workable cure? The ‘change your behavior’ parts of the webpage (by far the majority) include many eco-friendly things one is advised to do, plus other behaviors such as ‘associate with like-minded people’ and ‘encourage others to change’. Depending on the eco-policies supported this may or may not be good for the planet (some eco-policies seem to be causing more distress and damage than good, for instance the bio-fuel debacle), but either way this isn’t going to actually address a sufferer’s core psychological problem. And any cult leader would recognize a basic formula beneath the gentle and erudite words here: perform the acts of faith, associate with the faithful, convert the unfaithful. Even if all this was provably and unquestionably ‘right’ regarding the bigger picture, such advice is all about helping the cause, not about helping the individual.

    Other supposed healers such as psychotherapist Rosemary Randall, take the same ‘change your behavior’ approach in an attempt to cure ‘climate anxiety’ using discussion groups:
    ∙∙∙∙∙∙‘Through conversation, we have a lot of material which we use in the groups which show people where the emissions are and what the actions are that they can do to affect that. We talk about what the obstacles are, and what the process is of making those changes.
    This is all much too reminiscent of telling shell-shocked troops to simply pull themselves together, believe in the next big push, and get back in the trenches to carry on fighting; recommendations given before shell-shock became a recognized medical condition. There appears to be a similar and sizeable gap in understanding here; a major inconsistency with how mental trauma would be analyzed and addressed in non-climate domains.

    Like

  7. OK that worked. Have to say it was nicer with all the embedded links still in to click on. I thought that the original version would just need digging out of moderation, but it has entirely disappeared 0:

    [PM: WordPress put it into the spam folder with all the ads for trainers! It’s been liberated now.]

    Like

  8. Paul,

    It sounds like Dr. Marvel hasn’t had a chance to contemplate why Dr. Nisbet thinks “We have focused too heavily on public mobilization and exposing denial, ignoring other strategies likely to accelerate societal change.” (1)

    This afternoon Santana’s “Evil Ways”(2) was playing on the radio. It’s been years since I head the tune about the “need to change.”

    1) https://medium.com/wealth-of-ideas/the-ipcc-report-is-a-wake-up-call-for-scholars-advocates-and-philanthropists-36415d4882f

    2) Santana – Evil Ways 1969 “Woodstock” Live Video Sound HQ

    Like

  9. The anti-rational stupidification it takes to cling to an apocalyptic vision, no matter how many times the deadline for the apocalypse is moved is, as Dr. Marvel so aptly demonstrates, mind boggling.
    That she weaponizes her faith by spreading scary crap stories is more of misery loving company.
    All Lent and no Easter indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. There’s a sad sort of clanging
    From the clock on the wall
    And the bell on the steeple too,
    And up in the nursery an alarmed little bird
    Is popping up to say cuckoo –
    Cuckoo, cuckoo-
    Oh, cuckoo!

    Like

  11. Well, I suppose the likes of Kate Marvel can also be seen as victims of the scaremongering. But victims who go on to become scaremongerers themselves may be the hardest to help, and I presume many of them deliberately demonise those who would help them as ‘evil deniers’. That provides them with something else to galvanise themselves with in the face of widespread lack of panic in the general population.

    But other vulnerable people who are victims could perhaps be more readily helped. Some modest but still appreciable chunk of all who have been through, or are in, primary and secondary education in the last 30 years or so. Possibly in most countries. Some pastoral care for these folks would be ‘good works’ in my book.

    Good post Paul.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Maybe we could just stress that it was a Halloween post and that it ended with

    We don’t have to live in a horror movie. In fact, if we focus only on scary things, we miss the true meaning of Halloween, which is to force small children into humiliating costumes for our amusement. My own toddler insists that he wants to be “a squid that helps people,” which mystifies his parents and reveals a poor understanding of cephalopod biology. But that kind little squid, and his pirate and dragon and pumpkin and monkey friends, are going to grow up to live in the house we build for them. I think we should at least try to chase the demons out first.

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  13. ATTP

    “Maybe we could just stress that it was a Halloween post”

    We could, but stressing the self-explanatory is a mental-health red flag.

    “and that it ended with…”

    Followed by suggestions that we’re variously living in a horror movie, and on a planet in the grip of a case of demoniasis. Having claimed that the Earth had a fever, this is the next step down on the spiral staircase of horror-comedy histrionics, I suppose.

    Were you hoping to make a point, ATTP? (I mean, a point in favor of your side, not ours?)

    Or were you just being neighborly? In which case, nice to see you. Trick or treat to hide the decline!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. ATTP:

    Halloween, or any other festival, is no excuse to misrepresent the mainstream position on CC. No skeptic position / support is even needed to know that this is wrong. And adding hope to the fear of catastrophe (described in terms of a horror movie you can’t walk out of, or any other metaphor like driving off a cliff or all the very many other variants), does not negate this misrepresentation, but augments it. As noted long ago by climate communication studies, fear memes in isolation tend to cause backlash and / or hopelessness in many folks (in fact true generically, not just in the CC domain). So adding hope to the narrative (often done at the message ending, as a psychological sugar drop), reduces these negative effects and increases the overall persuasiveness of the narrative. But the inappropriate fear isn’t thereby removed (unless literally taken out, not so in this and many other cases), instead its digestion is strongly aided by the hope element. Fear + hope combos are a classic emotive cocktail (among others) employed by cultures, very familiar from religions (sin + salvation variants). This does not imply any dishonesty by Marvel or any other propagators. Merely passionate belief (so overriding high confidence) in horrendous (heh, as it is Halloween) outcomes, which confidence is not supported by mainstream science, and which adherents propagate in highly urgent / emotive ways, because this is the behaviour that strong cultural belief invokes in humans.

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  15. I wonder if any of those spreading climate fear ever become worried that they have been instrumental in spreading despondency amongst those unable to do anything about the problem. I ask because I once received a letter from a former student’s partner who cautioned me about the effects some of my teaching (not on climate change). Her partner had become obsessed with searching the news for indications and making preparations. She was warning me to tone down my teaching so as not to unduly influence over-sensitive students. I did make what I considered appropriate changes.
    So are climate activists even aware of the mental havoc they may be causing, and if they are, do they care. Is it just collateral damage?

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  16. Alan:

    ‘So are climate activists even aware of the mental havoc they may be causing…’

    There have been a number of climate communication studies over the years that address this issue. All the researchers have an orthodox PoV on CC, but do acknowledge there is a problem. As far as I recall at least some (probably very few) activists have knowledge of same (e.g. have referenced the studies). But even if this knowledge became much more widespread, it probably wouldn’t have much impact on the fear propagation, and for sure the above studies certainly haven’t so far. This is because no-one is in conscious control, so to speak, of the propagation. Those memes with highest emotive persuasiveness spread the most, upon the vehicle of passionate propagators. Having said that, per above to ATTP, if emotive cocktails other than ‘pure’ fear work even better, they will preferentially spread and become more dominant. However, in these end they still carry the fear, even if they carry hope or joy or inspiration or whatever also (the apparent contradictions in such messages by no means decrease their chances of digestion / re-transmission, quite the opposite!)

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  17. Marvel is the sort of fundamentalist extremist that in the US runs a “hell house” instead of a Halloween haunted house to show the dangers of hell to those who fail to agree with her faith. Because for the fundie, not bothered by historical literacy, Halloween is a satanic celebration. For the climate extremists, each weather event, and every season is proof of their nonsensical “climate change”. No historical context is honestly considered. Just increasingly creepy hype. It is all just worse and worse. No holiday or celebration can just be for fun to the fundamentalist. It has to be a lesson, and a scary lesson at that, to push their extremist claptrap.
    My daughter and her boyfriend are in Mexico to celebrate Halloween and especially the Day of the Dead, on November 2nd. Now that’s old school, lol. I wonder how the climate creeps will work to ruin the modern version of the ancient Mexican celebration?
    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://m.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3D8FHrhH9k-PY&ved=2ahUKEwjdreWBkbPeAhXSY98KHYVACGIQt9IBMBV6BAgJEEg&usg=AOvVaw3WwX4SPdfhzPQG3l54qtY3

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  18. To those (supra) who think the alarmist scientists believe in their own narrative

    How do you reconcile this (let’s call it the Sincerity Hypothesis [SH]) with the fact that they avoid debate at all costs (while we salivate, decade after decade, for the chance to publicly pit science and reason against their lies in a symmetrical ordeal)?

    Is it really plausible to you that a person who believed ze or zer was…

    1) correct about the climate
    2) in possession of overwhelming evidence of their correctness
    3) infinitely smarter, more informed, mentally healthier and better at science than the sleaze-stained merchants of doubt who were standing in the way of unanimity

    …would pass up the chance, any chance, to publicly pit their science and reason against our lies in a symmetrical ordeal?

    Oh, and did I mention: the planet is going to become a ‘horror movie’ infested by ‘demons’ unless they succeed in publicly discrediting all opposition to their agenda by midnight/next month/2035.

    Yet you invite them to do exactly this and they slam the door on you, then publish elaborate excuses in The Conversation about why debating is bad.

    Something is wrong with this picture.

    For what it’s worth, I have a different hypothesis. One that actually has the advantage of consistency with human psychology, common sense and the observed behavior of the alarmists:

    they’re perfectly aware that they’re full of shit.*

    Change my mind.

    *I’m only imputing mens rea to the alarmist scientists, since we all know there are non-scientists who have honest-to-God been taken in by the scientist’s shit, and are therefore victims, rather than perpetrators, of the most heinous pseudoscientific scam in history.

    Also, I’m referring to the ringleaders as ‘scientists’ purely out of courtesy.

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  19. Yes Andy, but were those studies essentially evaluations of the effectiveness of using fear to spread the message or gain acceptance, or were they evaluations of the morality of using fear mongering? My guess would be the former. I was questioning the latter (as was the partner of my student who wrote to me).

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  20. Brad. I have an alternative to your speculative hypothesis – “they’re perfectly aware that they’re full of shit”. Harkening back to an earlier discussion, perhaps, instead of certainty, climate doom spreaders are occasionally beset by doubts that they are full of shit, and restore their equanimity by “upping the anti”.

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  21. By the way, unless I’ve forgotten how to reason, the SH is disproven by the words the pseudoscientists write when they think nobody else is going to read them. This post, for instance, contains a whole magazine of silver bullets if I say so myself. Is there any reason we shouldn’t officially declare the Sincerity Myth [un]dead at this point? I’m prepared to call it if you guys are. Pass me the death certificate and that pen over there, would you?

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  22. P.S. the ‘problem’ is not typically framed as one of sympathy for the damaged recipients of fear messaging, but one of ‘inefficiency’, i.e. it undermines the very support that was being sought. Hence ‘solutions’ are geared to finding more efficient means to get the (same high confidence in catastrophe) message across, typically re-framed to always include a +ve element also, e.g. green jobs or whatever. The fear element is also personalised in some re-framings, which apparently makes despair less likely and determined action more likely. One recommendation I saw was for communicators to mention the future health of *their own* children, who are ‘threatened by climate change’, which hence invokes great sympathy and also then the parental instinct in support, rather than despair. Yet front-line climate troops in practice, frequently cannot hold back their own emotions and many still go over the top with heavy fear elements, despite recommendations on framing.

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  23. You raise a fascinating question.
    Did certain Germans, of a certain generation, ever debate with those certain people they decided had to go? Or was their scapegoat’s wickedness so apparent in their full of shit state that it was beneath discussion, and that dehumanizing them (in the most extreme ways possible) was just what the Herr Doktor ordered?
    Those certain Germans were certainly full of shit, but history leads one to believe that they just thought they were filled with enlightenment, and who doesn’t want to be filled with enlightenment?
    And protecting that enlightenment by ignoring anything and dismissing anyone who might challenge that enlightenment is vital to those who confuse their shit with enlightenment.

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  24. Alan:

    ah, I just saw your 11:57 above after my P.S. As you can see from that P.S. definitely the effectiveness, not the morality. As I think you have noted above, and several more of us too, the morality is never in question for those folks who are culturally convinced. Same as religion, or extremist politics. It is right by definition. Ditto for climate catastrophism.

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  25. Alan, you seem to assume that they’re TROUBLED by the awareness, at the back of their minds, that there is no climate crisis.

    Why? Only honest people would have a problem with that. Charlatans regard such details as regrettable only to the extent that their audience might discover the truth. Since the climate narrative is essentially unfalsifiable (within our lifetimes, at least), what do the charlatans have to worry about?

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  26. Hunter,

    Judenhass isn’t a factually-adjudicable ideology though, is it? I don’t really see how a Nazi could debate a Jew in such a way as to decide whether or not the latter deserved the gas chamber. They killed the Jews because they hated them; why waste time convincing them that they hated them? Didn’t everybody on both sides of the barbed wire know this already?

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  27. Brad: ‘Change my mind.’

    Let’s start with what Hunter said 🙂 . I think that unless you are merely playing devil’s advocate here, you are making the strategic error of trying to understand motivation as though it is based on reason by the parties involved, which also implies an individualist approach, whereas some behaviours are emergent at group level.

    All the characteristics you mention above are typical of emergent (strong) cultural behaviour, e.g. per religions or extremist politics, and occur whether or not the culture in question is entangled with or partly or wholly triggered by a science topic. Eugenics was a big part of the case Hunter mentions above.

    The behaviour is so emphatic (and so seems so stark to non-adherents), because our brain architecture is literally co-evolved to support it. This means that we are all vulnerable to such beliefs, which are per domain. So for instance someone could have huge religious belief, but none in climate catastrophism, or vice versa, or may believe in both or neither. And ditto for a whole bunch or other cultural / culturally entangled domains. So to a fully objective outsider who has no domain biases (which in fact is nobody), their apparent reasonableness will hence change dramatically with domain.

    Per some of my older posts you read (depending in which ones), rising cultures impact the law, morals, they can tilt the whole landscape of what we think is wrong and right, and especially who even we are prepared to discuss ‘wrong and right’ with. After all, the main job of a cultural consensus is to define the in-group, so that we know who *not* to extend our altruism to, those beyond the pale who instead must be shunned or even demonised.

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  28. Brad:

    ‘Judenhass isn’t a factually-adjudicable ideology though, is it?’

    Of course it is. And eugenics was one of the main ‘modern’ justifications used for it. A ‘scientific’ justification, which gave it the right authority backing. Although like many other such justifications (including climate catstrophism), it was merely culture wearing the cloak of science.

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  29. For someone who professes to be a climate scientist, she is seriously ill-informed about the processes she inputs into her models. No wonder she is so seriously disturbed, she really does believe this stuff:

    https://onbeing.org/blog/kate-marvel-we-should-never-have-called-it-earth/
    “The warming is not immediate. Delays are built into the system: there are different forms of inertia here. The air warms first, then the land, then surface winds mix the shallow surface layer of the sea and finally the abyssal reaches of the ocean. The heat slowly trickles down to the deep, churned by slow overturning ocean currents. The ocean is slow to warm, but it will receive the message in time.

    We have left to our children a time bomb of warming. Even if we somehow managed to halt the increase in greenhouse gases, freezing them at today’s levels, the planet’s temperature would continue to rise as the heat trickles into the deep, slowly creating a new equilibrium. The ocean will eventually know what we have done to the atmosphere. The process is slow, but inexorable. We have committed ourselves to this warming, a legacy to future generations. We continue to burn fossil fuels and the gases they make continue to trap heat, warming the air, the land, the shallow seas [uh?]. The heat is mixed deep into the ocean, a long slow slog to equilibrium. There is no way to stop it.

    What do I tell my son? A monster awaits in the deep, and someday it will come for you. We know this. We put it there.”

    The comments on her site support Paul’s concerns and she is popular with the media: https://www.npr.org/2018/10/20/659122551/a-climate-scientist-on-slaying-the-climate-dragon?t=1541077707618

    The late Oceanographer Robert E. Stevenson, was Secretary General of the International Association for the Physical Science of the Oceans from 1987 to 1995, and worked as an oceanographer for the U.S. Office of Naval Research for 20 years. He had a lifetime career of hands-on ocean research.

    http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/ocean.html
    “The atmosphere cannot warm until the underlying surface warms first. The lower atmosphere is transparent to direct solar radiation, preventing it from being significantly warmed by sunlight alone. The surface atmosphere thus gets its warmth in three ways: from direct contact with the oceans; from infrared
    radiation off the ocean surface; and, from the removal of latent heat from the ocean by evaporation.

    Consequently, the temperature of the lower atmosphere is largely determined by the temperature of the ocean.

    Inland locations are less restrained by the oceans, so the surface air experiences a wider temperature range than it does over the oceans. Land cannot store heat for long, which is why hot days are quickly followed by cold nights in desert regions. For most of the Earth, however, the more dominant ocean
    temperatures fix the air temperature.

    Because of the high density/specific heat of sea water, the entire heat in the overlying atmosphere can be contained in the top two meters of the oceans. This enormous storage capacity enables the oceans to “buffer” any major deviations in temperature, moderating both heat and cold waves alike.

    Sunlight penetrates the water surface readily, and directly heats the ocean up to a certain depth. Around 3 percent of the radiation from the Sun reaches a depth of about 100 meters.

    The top layer of the ocean to that depth warms up easily under sunlight. Below 100 meters, however, little radiant energy remains. The ocean becomes progressively darker and colder as the depth increases.

    Thermohaline circulation is responsible for the formation of the bottom-water masses in the world’s oceans: the North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) originates basically in the region of the Labrador Sea; the Weddell Sea is the source of the deep-water in the circumpolar Southern Ocean; and the Pacific Deep Water originates in the Ross Sea. In many other places in the oceans, and seas, as well, surface waters are carried into the depths by thermohaline circulation.

    So, it is not surprising that those modellers who “need” to get warm surface waters to move into the depths of the oceans, and remain sequestered there for long periods of time, would turn to the physical mechanism of this vertical circulation system. Their hope (claim) is that there can be occasions when
    salinity, rather than temperature, is the prime determining factor in the density of the surface waters. Then, warm water, made dense by an increase in the sea’s salt content, would sink. It does not happen!

    The oceans, by virtue of their enormous density and heat-storage capacity, are the dominant influence on our climate. It is the heat budget and the energy that flows into and out of the oceans that basically determines the mean temperature of the global atmosphere. These interactions, plus evaporation, are quite capable of cancelling the slight effect of man-produced CO2.”

    As Paul says, others pick up on the stuff from “scientists” like Marvel and believe the end times are here:
    https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2018/10/28/are-you-interested-in-going-to-jail/

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  30. Andy,

    I can’t see how any trained scientist would be in any danger of being ‘culturally’ (or otherwise) convinced that there’s a climate crisis, UNLESS he or zhe has spent 30 years studiously avoiding all exposure to the climate-scientific literature and has forbidden zimself to indulge in even the most superficial reflection on the things ze’s heard about it on the news. In other words, the scientist in question would have to keep zitself as climate-ignorant as a hairdresser or greengrocer or musicologist (thus rendering it rather immaterial that s/h/it happens to be a scientist on weekdays).

    If ze or zim DOES follow The Science, then the utter bankruptcy thereof is impossible (for zim or zer, as a scientist) to miss. It’s a trivial task, when one is a scientist, to detect when a hypothesis lacks even a shred of support. It’s not the kind of situation that takes hours to notice, or could be accidentally overlooked. It stands out like a dead dingo’s donger.

    Sure, if there were evidence on both ‘sides’, THEN it might be time-consuming (or even impossible) to ascertain which was more plausible. But on this issue there isn’t. There is NO evidence of a climate crisis, and NO scientist is so scientifically-illiterate as to have trouble noticing this. Like other canids, the male dingo is endowed with a bone called the os penis, so you can imagine how a desiccated dingo cadaver might sport the superficial symptoms of concupiscence.

    Any scientist who claims

    1. to have studied the subject
    2. and to be losing sleep worrying about global warming

    is necessarily lying about at least one of those things.

    ….it would seem to me. Am I wrong in any respect?

    PS thanks for making me see that I was wrong to dismiss the factual contingency of the Final Solution. Lack of imagination on my part. You’re obviously right—racists might (and historically, do) justify ethnic cleansing on objective, if false, grounds e,g, on scientistically proven biological superiority/inferiority.

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  31. Brad. “Alan, you seem to assume that they’re TROUBLED by the awareness, at the back of their minds, that there is no climate crisis.”
    Yes of course I do. I believe any scientist worth their salt, even if they are also an activist, will have some doubts that they are correct. Perhaps I am (again) mistaken and my own experience is not universal. But no-one will have been 100% correct. You are supposed to learn from mistakes. You cannot believe that your current understanding and beliefs are always correct, all the time. Even if you get your material published you cannot be 100% sure you have not erred.

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  32. Brad, regarding the catastrophe “not in our lifetime”, you may have noticed the zealots have moved forward the day of reckoning in their latest missive. Accountability for false alarms will now fall upon experts before they can retire (a first for IPCC). Here’s their outlook scenarios:

    The blue line is CO2 in ppm observed at Mauna Loa. The linear regression line shows the continuation of the 1.53 ppm per year rate projected to the end of this century. As noted above the blue line is already exceeding the earlier rate. The orange line shows CO2 hitting 430 ppm in 2032 at the 1.53 rate, or earlier if more recent rates continue. For example, if the 2.14 ppm per year rate continues, 430 ppm is reached by 2028. The red 450 scenario is reached in 2045. Both scenarios presume zero additional CO2 after those dates.

    And here is the demand they are making:
    https://i1.wp.com/redd-monitor.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/2018-10-10-153523_987x1040_scrot.png?resize=567%2C512
    The graph illustrates the problem very clearly. Since 1992, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has met 23 times. These UNFCCC discussions have utterly failed to reduce CO2 emissions. Yet from 2020, emissions have to drop dramatically, if we are to stand a chance of keeping global warming below 1.5°C.

    https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2018/10/21/ipcc-freakonomics/

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  33. Andy, your cultural analysi/es is/are compelling and informative.

    My point is that scientists are special in that they’ve been taught not to fall for certain claims which you’d need to fall for in order to buy into CAGGWism. All professions, being cultures, teach their members this kind of skill.

    No doctor on Earth can watch half an hour of House MD and still be agnostic as to whether or not it is a historical dramatization of actual cases.

    Similarly, no scientist on Earth can spend a day looking into the physical case for/against CAGW without noticing that there isn’t any.

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  34. Alan,

    We’re talking at cross purposes. I suspect you may have skimmed my comment without reading every sentence. Perfectly understandable in the present medium, of course, but it has caused you to rebutt a position I didn’t express.

    Briefly: I didn’t suggest that alarmist scientists are uncritically confident that their thesis is right. Quite the opposite. They know it’s make-believe (as is obvious from their private conversations) but they don’t care. Why would they care? Why would it matter to them that the climate alarm is scientifically baseless?

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  35. Brad .” it has caused you to rebutt a position I didn’t express.” Not at all. I was careful to quote you, thus

    “Alan, you seem to assume that they’re TROUBLED by the awareness, at the back of their minds, that there is no climate crisis.”

    This quote assumes that climate activists know they are wrong, continue with spreading their falsehoods and don’t care. In other words they are evil.
    I don’t believe this, I think they genuinely believe there is cause for concern about climate change, but must (if they are behaving as scientists or are anything like me) from time to time have doubts. These they presumably suppress or reason out.

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  36. Postscript for Alan:

    Michael Mann will be “worth his salt” the day he’s reincarnated as a slug, not one day earlier.

    The same goes for any other participant in a science that doesn’t work. Even if he were a morally redeemable person, Mann would still be a climate scientist, and climate science stopped adding to human knowledge years ago, so Mann would still owe the taxpayer a full refund of the millions of dollars he’s earned under false pretenses. You can’t invoice someone for a job you never did and expect to keep the cash in perpetuity and with impunity. Except in climate science, apparently.

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  37. Alan,

    We’re talking at cross purposes. I suspect I may have skimmed your comment without reading every sentence. Perfectly understandable in the present medium, of course, but it has caused me to rebutt a rebuttal you didn’t rebuttify.

    Yes, nicely put: I’m suggesting they’re evil. (Not “climate activists,” to be clear: I’m talking only about climate activists who profess to be in the scientific profession.)

    You may not like to believe it, but the evidence afforded by their own actions is difficult to ignore.

    Incidentally, would you accept that there are evil people somewhere on the planet? And if so, that it’s not prima facie unbelievable that they should happen to be working in climate science? Where else should evil people congregate?

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  38. Follow-up question: alarmist scientists are wont to rend their shirts in flamboyant despair for the future of the weather when the mirophone is switched on.

    Behind closed doors, they don’t seem to care. Not if the thousands of emails we’ve read are anything close to representative.

    None of this perplexes me. This is exactly how you’d expect them to behave, if I’m right about their gangrenous souls.

    The banality of…. well, you know.

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  39. Brad. Think positive. Even a toe-rag like Mann, and like Lysenko before him, will ultimately cause some good. Without him, there would have been no incentive for others to produce the evidence that has shown his ideas to be incorrect and due to a manipulation of the evidence. Ultimately you have to believe that science is self correcting, and that toe-rags are identified for who they are. If you weigh the harm they cause, relative to an ultimate good, I must agree that the former greatly outweighs the later.

    I caught the link between my scientist not being worth their salt and your identification of Mann as a slug. No really subtle.

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  40. Alan, in case you’re suggesting otherwise:

    a person’s career may have good consequences, but it doesn’t follow that he’s good. (The converse also applies.) To say there is no good in Mann does not require that no good result from Mann’s existence.

    If you already know this, pls disregard.

    I know science is self-correcting. The corollary is that in obstructing every attempt by McIntyre and others to correct the math in MBH98, Michael Mann—who spent SEVEN YEARS withholding enabling details and making replication of, and progress upon, his work impossible—proved himself to be an anti-scientist, in the dictionary definition of the word. An opponent of science. You get the picture, I think, so I won’t belabor the obvious by indicting Phil “I’d rather delete the data than let anyone see it” Jones of the same crime. I’ll leave that to the black-capped judiciary at Klimanürnberg.

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  41. Brad
    “Incidentally, would you accept that there are evil people somewhere on the planet? And if so, that it’s not prima facie unbelievable that they should happen to be working in climate science?”

    Sure, there may be some genuinely evil climate scientists, especially activists, but I suspect relatively few. Their evil is probably also low rank – doing the dirty on others to gain prestige or unearned advantage, nothing in the Mengele league.
    Science is hardly an environment where evil can flourish. Rewards from evil are greater in fields other than science. I think the image of the evil scientist is overworked.
    Finally, evil is another attribute in the eye of the beholder.

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  42. A notable common thread of the deadliest ideologies is that they claim to be scientific.
    That claim is used to silence critics and enforce compliance.
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/paul-william/pamphlets/1918/scientific_socialism.htm
    And of course scientific Naziism
    https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/.premium.MAGAZINE-how-hitler-won-germans-over-with-his-scientific-religion-1.5474185
    It seems to me that when science is used to serve humanity, great things can happen.
    But when people serve science as ideology, terrible nightmares become reality.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. “How does one prepare their children for the extintction [sic] event we are witnessing? How long before it impacts us all to the point where it is a matter of survival? Is it best to be ignorant at this point and not tell them that [sic] will not see their adulthood?”

    An apparently un-ironic comment I found and saved a couple of years back at Arctic News – under an article predicting that Arctic sea ice would be gone that year (2013). Personally I’ve always thought that diminishing ice was less threatening than expanding ice.

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  44. Hunter,

    ICYMI I rethought your interesting German/Jew analogy, which now makes more sense, as I acknowledged to Alan. Good to chat with you after my long and unexplained absence, by the way. Don’t be a stranger!

    Ron, Dennis,

    in case you’re feeling left out, thanks for your contributions too, which are every bit as good as the rest of the thread. Now I remember why I love hanging out here.

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  45. My laymans take is that scientists don’t believe that apocalypse is a certainty, but they do believe upheaval is a possibility, particularly in relation to the environment. Their belief in the certainty of apocalypse, however, is bolstered by their belief in the righteousness of their proposed solutions. Their anguish is rooted far more in the rejection of their certain righteous solutions than the possibility of apocalypse, and the time limit they are facing is that reality isn’t a team player and constantly needs “support”.

    They don’t like debate purely because they have bugger all hard evidence to support the apocalypse narrative, beyond its highly unlikely possibility, which is not something they want widely known.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Alan,

    the many are complicit in the evil of the few if they don’t lift a finger to stop them. I’m not a coward, so I have trouble relating to the explanations cowards tend to make post facto (or post bello) for their dereliction of the duty every human owes to every other. I’ve suffered in the defence of principles, and it’s always been a tiny price to pay. So I can’t even begin to identify with the false economy that goes through the “brains” of the silent bystanders.

    But I’ve never had to risk my life for what’s right, and I wouldn’t expect anyone else to. I’m not asking for French Resistance-level, physical courage here. I’m not asking for a Climate Irene Sendler to do the right thing at the risk of arrest and torture. But it WOULD be nice if someone, somewhere in the climate academy had the integrity to risk a bad performance review in order to blow the whistle on the routine betrayal of the scientific method before it becomes normalised.

    Vandalizing science—damaging the machinery of epistemic progress—is obviously a crime against humanity. To take the most infamous case: when Oreskes lobbies to reduce science to a kind of paper-divining necromantic ritual, she becomes inimicus humani generis. I wouldn’t hesitate to kick the chair out from under such a person at Klimanürnberg. Admittedly, I’m unusual—most people don’t have the stomach for such work, though I doubt anyone would shed a tear if I did it on homo sapiens’ behalf.

    I can’t remember what we were talking about.

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  47. DaveJR,

    yes, this is the only possible inference, methinks:

    “They don’t like debate purely because they have bugger all hard evidence to support the apocalypse narrative, beyond its highly unlikely possibility, which is not something they want widely known.”

    As a human being, I think I know a bit about what human beings do. One thing they DON’T do, ever, is retreat from debate when they have the courage of their convictions. In my experience. As a human being.

    I also note that you’re accusing “them” of what would amount to institutional, en-masse evil, as I did upstream.

    Again, no innocent explanation has been offered. Our suspicions could be wrong, but nobody seems to be able to explain how.

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  48. Brad:
    You can tell I’m having a leisurely day today 😊

    ‘My point is that scientists are special…’

    This is key; scientists are definitely NOT special. As even Lewandowsky knows, and is pretty much universally accepted, “being human, scientists operate with the same cognitive apparatus and limitations as every other person”.

    There are as you imply various cultural associations with the enterprise of science itself, including elements that are both good and bad for that enterprise. A culture of encouraging objectivity is good, for instance. A huge culture of blind belief in the authority of science in the modern world, is not so good; this causes many to believe in that which is successfully characterised as science, even when it is abject nonsense. The culture of objectivity is very weak compared to the strength of a full-on religion or extreme political ideology / philosophy, even when the latter are entangled with a science issue, perhaps especially so. It’s even weak compared to moderate in-domain group-think. Hence science is very fragile to cultural hi-jacking, which writ small or large happens constantly. In the long term, it may win out, but long could be generations, and for instance several centuries of modern science have not yet placed religion into the minority, and very many scientists are religious too. Because science is highly cellular, especially in modern times where disciplines are broken down to tiny branches of each subject tree, most scientists know jack-shit about the other branches. Their culture of ‘being a scientist’ (so, fraternal) often works to undermine objectivity regarding the branches their colleagues are working on, which makes the arrangement peculiarly vulnerable to cultural takeover in a way that is more not less likely than for non-scientists. They are more likely to believe the abject nonsense if it is ‘science’ from a different branch. The increasing kudos of the ‘scientist’ label, especially in super-star domains like climate science, hugely exacerbates this problem, just one source of bias among many.

    I’m glad you brought up the medical profession. Medical professionals also have scientific training, plus a stronger professional culture than generic science, centred upon the Hippocratic oath, due to the nature of their domain and need for objective compassion (e.g. they are meant to heal an enemy as well as they would a friend). An example of how such seemingly firm constraints can so easily be twisted by a major culture, is the self-motivation of local doctors regarding the killing of disabled children in 1930s / 40s Germany. Armed with sanction from Hitler obtained using the single letter from a father asking to euthanize his disabled baby, chief of the chancellery Philipp Bouhler instigated a pseudo-legal system requiring 3 doctors to fill in a form agreeing to the euthanizing of disabled babies. This system extended and evolved (lower thresholds, increase from babies to children) over the years through actions of the doctors themselves. There was no further instruction from Hitler, no more from Bouhler, whose forms were eventually dispensed. The doctors themselves simply created a virtually industrial level system and decided themselves who to kill, putting ‘measles’ or some such on the death certificate. They genuinely thought that they were ‘cleansing the race’, doing great (net) good for their society, and they wanted to please officials like Bouhler, who wanted what he thought would please Hitler, all of which was part of the current cultural alignment. There was no imposition from above, no threat from authority, the action was utterly counter to their oath, yet their objectivity was so compromised they felt it was still, on balance, the best course to take (with eugenics supplying most of the ‘scientific’ underwriting). Compared to this, the case in climate science is far more easy to comprehend, and far less contradictory, yet the underlying mechanisms are the same. While the triggering and detailed configuration happens in software (culture), the basic sense of right and wrong, of perceiving evidence and balance and such, is altered in hardware. If the h/w has a red filter, you won’t see green evidence or blue morals or yellow law.

    Am I wrong in any respect?

    I think mainly misfiring rather than wrong. In mainly tilting at climate scientists as individuals you are drawing our attention to only 5% of the issue, whereas the main cause and hence all the understanding that flows from seeing that cause, occupies another 95%. If we focus so much on the 5%, and especially if that focus is emotive, we will miss the 95% and we will never understand; we will only rage at a few climate scientists, which will not only achieve nothing, it’ll probably make things worse. It’s so easy for them to characterize such behaviour as a feature of the denial some would like it to be. Some parts of the 95%, in no particular order and not comprehensive:

    1) It’s an emergent phenomenon, an (endemic) characteristic of societies from our evolutionary history…
    2) …so is deeply built into our behaviour
    3) The great majority of climate scientists do NOT support the notion of a climate crisis (e.g. per AR5)
    4) The culture of climate catastrophe is centred outside of climate science
    5) Most Western (up to the exception of Trump) and much World authority propagates climate catastrophe narrative
    6) Those in 5) *falsely* attribute climate catastrophe to mainstream science
    7) No sceptic position is even needed to know 6) is the case
    8) The scientists in 3) do not push back regarding the issue in 6), probably due to cultural pressure
    9) There is a small minority of climate scientists, at the opposite fringe to sceptics, who *do* propagate catastrophe narrative
    10) Those in 9) are cultural adherents, their objectivity is compromised at the deepest levels
    11) Climate science output is an onion: WG papers – nearer reality, Summary for policy makers – less so, official press releases – tending towards calamity but often not there, interpetable, hype around the press releases and verbal quotes from associated authority plus mainstream media – typically full on catastrophic.
    12) The later stages of the onion in 10) are written more by adherents than folks who are objective on this issue, whether scientists or not; they include all the memetic width they have swallowed, which makes catastrophe perfectly interpretable from the texts even when it may not actually say so.
    13) Far more non-climate scientists and science /policy interfacers, especially in the area of ecology, propagate climate catastrophe. They are motivated to care about the environment and due to the cellular thing above, are easily co-opted by strong culture.

    I’ve learned that in a highly conflicted science topics, especially if it’s immature, scientific knowledge is little help (I have a degree in physics, no use whatsoever for the wicked climate system). There is huge width for uncertainty, and even the science of uncertainty is disputed and the levels of need or otherwise of the precautionary principle. It is more objective to ignore all the domain data. My position on the issue does not stem from scepticism of physical climate science, and to avoid bias I try not to delve there. My position comes from the social data, which says that climate catastrophism ticks every box for a strong culture. Therefore it is wrong, because the main narrative of all strong cultures are wrong.

    You can’t notice or not a case for something if the very equipment you’re using for noticing has a pre-determined conclusion, operating in fundamental ways which you are not conscious of, and for sure the complexity of climate science is easily broad and deep enough to allow such mechanisms to triumph in scientists, albeit a small minority currently propagate a narrative of the catastrophic. The very same equipment tells the owner that those who ‘interfere’ *must* be nefarious. I think you are partly wrapped around the axle on the issue of culpability, which is very secondary I think. There won’t be a Nuremburg if the culture wins, or even if it morphs to something else and eludes our probing on the original issues. Nor have the great majority of those scientists propagating the narrative done anything legally wrong (with a very small number of exceptions). Morals are a different thing. Those doctors above made up their own laws; had Germany won we’d all agree by now that their morals were ok too, and indeed leading edge for the time. Given they lost, we can hardly imagine anything morally worse. The case for climate scientists going too far due to their strong beliefs is enormously less stark than this, and even if the culture collapses prosecutions would not be in order. The negative impacts on society are not due to them, they are driven as much as driving, it is due to the whole phenomenon, most of which sits outside of science anyhow. We’d much more usefully rail against the mainstream (who *don’t* believe) for their failure in 8) above. Although there is much debate in social psychology about whether propagating group deceptions is lying or not, the current tentative position is not; our hardware is reconfigured, and in any case the brain is a choir not a solo singer, so which singer inside is lying to which other singers, is the real investigation. Insomuch as the law survives the cultural wave (I hope so), and professional codes / ethics (some definite transgressions there!) likewise, everything should be thrown at transgressors. But a tiny focus on this for a few climate scientists is likely counter-productive; the challenge / trampling of huge swathes of law regarding renewable energy or facking or whatever is a much more immediate issue.

    ‘But it WOULD be nice if someone, somewhere in the climate academy had the integrity to risk a bad performance review in order to blow the whistle on the routine betrayal of the scientific method before it becomes normalised.’

    This is *hugely* relevant. It is ever the case that cultures self police themselves through fear of the sanction of peers. The most influential catastrophe narrative comes from a large raft of world leaders, who per above falsely (they are not lying, they believe this) claim the mainstream support of science. It takes bravery indeed to push back on that. Many scientists would have to band together, but for the first few it would be, it is, ugly. Which doesn’t mean that I sympathise with the silence of the majority.

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  49. An annoying game many climate committed play: When confronted with their alarmism, they simply deny it.
    I see it as an offshoot if the underlying refusal to debate.

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  50. The other side of the Green Snake-oil industry is the notion that there is an effective and inexpensive cure for your imaginary ailment, and the MSM now seems to give this a totally free pass. The marketing department needs to win awards for its brilliance, such as the masterstroke of providing a free (in the same sense that smart meters are free) battery with every renewable installation, solving (for the useless MSM) the “issue” (newspeak for problem) of coherent intermittency.

    The war is lost, “greens” can invent any problem they like and force us all to pay for the solution.

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  51. Andy,

    “…even the science of uncertainty is disputed..”

    Stripped down to its essentials, CAGW is a speculation regarding a future state of a system. As with all such speculations, there is uncertainty. In fact, there are a great many uncertainties of varying importance and extent. Determining an appropriate set of policies requires an understanding and accurate assessment of such uncertainties. From my reading of the IPCC’s ARs, I have gained the view that those who have been entrusted with the achievement of this do not have a sufficiently sound understanding of the conceptual framework surrounding uncertainty and risk. Furthermore, those who have entrusted in such experts do not have the slightest clue that this is the case. I think any observations regarding the relative impacts of culture and the scientific method have to be made with this fundamental failing in mind.

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  52. Andy, scientists are humans. Obviously. They’re special humans, in the specific sense that they understand the scientific method (and ipso facto can tell if someone in a white lab coat is really following it or just pretending), and other people don’t. That’s it. I didn’t claim superhuman, let alone Vulcan, powers of cognition for them.

    Quickly, on the medical topic, most people would be surprised to learn that:

    – the Hippocratic oath is only mentioned once in a typical med school, in passing, during a pre-prandial Dean’s Welcome To New Students lecture on day 1 of O-week. It’s never heard from again, though its ethical payload (and other values) are continually, implicitly inculcated in students over the next 5 years via incremental immersion into the world of actual medical practice, a job whose logic *requires* the budding doctor to exhibit (and hopefully internalize!) virtues like non-harm, objective compassion, holism, etc. Your phrase “need for” hit the nail on the head.

    – doctors are “scientifically trained” only in so far as one of the uncountable topics they’re examined on during med school was EBM (evidence based medicine), a discipline which—if they manage to retain it by the time they start their internship—should in theory equip them to adjudicate for themselves a medical controversy on the basis of the literature. It’s about being a scientifically-literate CONSUMER, but not producer, of journal articles, metaanalyses and systematic reviews thereof. That said, it’s MORE than enough to enable a first-year intern to spend a couple of hours looking into the case for CAGW and see unambigiously that there is no case for CAGW. Sure, it’s outside their domain, but that’s no major obstacle, because the rules of evidence in science transcend subject matter.

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  53. John R:

    ‘I have gained the view that those who have been entrusted with the achievement of this do not have a sufficiently sound understanding of the conceptual framework surrounding uncertainty and risk. Furthermore, those who have entrusted in such experts do not have the slightest clue that this is the case.’

    You may well be right; this is certainly along the lines of Curry and others, the Uncertainty Monster. And for sure many influential a-list authorities wrongly perceive what mainstream science says right now, let alone what it might say after a re-considered approach to uncertainty, i.e. they haven’t even gotten as far as the uncertainties that *are* expressed.

    ‘I think any observations regarding the relative impacts of culture and the scientific method have to be made with this fundamental failing in mind.’

    I think it’s kind of the other way around. Once culture has hi-jacked science, a primary expectation is the major mistreatment of domain uncertainties (for which there is more scope in climate science than some other domains). The main job of a culture is to define an in-group, which is done via a policed consensus around a core narrative, which in order to succeed must exclude uncertainty. Yet the current human grip on navigating deep uncertainty via sound methodology is likely nascent anyhow, which makes that hi-jack job easier, and objections to it less easy to mount / sustain upon the grounds of said mistreatment. Which doesn’t mean the objection shouldn’t be made, via appropriate expertise. But anyhow, such a fundamental failing is consistent with a cultural hi-jack, though on its own not proof.

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  54. PS, Andy,

    I hope you find this heuristic or ‘sanity check’ useful:

    If you ever find yourself suggesting that Lewandowsky knows something I don’t about human psychology, that’s a five-chilli alarm—you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere. All you can do is go back and audit your reasoning. Nine times out of ten you forgot to carry a 1. It happens to the best of us.

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  55. Brad:

    ‘They’re special humans, in the specific sense that they understand the scientific method …’

    Unfortunately, regarding human vulnerability to strong culture and even the entanglement of culture and science, this makes them not very special at all. However as noted above, the great majority of climate scientists do *not* support the social consensus of a catastrophe, and it is maybe even their knowledge and training in the scientific method that has helped with that, although the pressure of bias and the level of objectivity seems still to be continually eroding. One would expect a distribution, with the most vulnerable (for whatever reason, may just be their affiliations) to succumb first. Those in the centre may be subject to bias but largely holding ground, those at the opposite fringe will be skeptics. The stronger the cultural rise, the more the overall impact.

    ‘on the medical topic…’

    During my university career, several of my good friends were medics. I’m very familiar with their training regime at least back as was then, with indeed as you say a constantly inculcated ethic that is strong compared to most other professional or scientific regimes that I know of, and indeed is scientifically based too so relies for instance on objective evidence, and indeed attempting to get that evidence from a patient who may not themselves be objective. My point is that such an ethic is not a barrier to a strong enough culture, and for ordinary jobbing climate scientists the barriers to resist cultural pressure that bids them take shortcuts or whatever, are likely rather lower.

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  56. Brad:

    On your P.S. I often use data from Lewandowsky and various other social psychologists plus other experts, who support the consensus: 1) because bias is domain dependent and outside the CC domain their work is fine, 2) if one uses the more basic ‘universal truths’ of such fields, but quote it from a climate orthodox supporter, it insulates very well indeed from accusations of denier sources and makes come-back much harder compared to quoting the exact same principle from a sceptic sympathiser 3) everything in social psychology and relevant fields, including universals noted above, screams that CC is a culture; only the biased view that CC catastrophe is hard science has mislead the field.

    Admittedly in Lews case one has to acknowledge, to say the least, a failure to meet the standards . But this is a feature of recent years also, and older work seems fine. It is a five chilli alarm that someone thinks only of the name associated with a principle, and not the evidence for the principle.

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  57. Andy,

    Admittedly, the cultural hi-jacking of an ostensibly objective pursuit of knowledge can lead to confusion and misrepresentation. However, simple incompetence will have the same effect. In the presence of such incompetence, I think it makes more sense to attribute the resulting confusion and misrepresentation to the incompetence, rather than to any cultural hi-jacking that may be encouraged by such incompetence. In this instance, the central issue is that of uncertainty, and little of any value can be concluded whilst the concept of uncertainty is misunderstood – with or without cultural hi-jacking.

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  58. John:

    Agree there’s plenty of grey between incompetence and bias. However, in the absence of systemic strong bias, over time the total enterprise of science will likely fix incompetence for anything that is deemed important enough to actually need fixing, e.g. by experts stepping in to help from elsewhere. However, incompetence helps open the door to systemic bias, and if it does become both strong and widespread enough, the enterprise of science will not be able to fix it, as outside help will not only be declined but demonised, a la McIntyre and others.

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  59. Andy,

    this is frustrating. I don’t understand you when you talk about ‘strong cultures.’ I don’t understand the ontology, let alone the argument. It’s all Greek to me. Not because it’s incoherent, but because *I NEVER LEARNED GREEK.* I have little doubt that it makes perfect sense to a native speaker. But not to me.

    You don’t understand (and also, you apparently MISunderstand) what I mean when I talk about the special skill set of scientists and how it allows them—nay, forces them whether they like it or not—to notice that the CAGW narrative and its exponents are wholly, irredeemably pseudoscientific, apotheosizing the entire checklist of signs and symptoms of pseudoscience, bar none.

    I know I’ve failed to understand—and in all likelihood, I’ve also MISunderstood—your thesis.

    I hope the selfsame insight (mutatis mutandis) has occurred to you too.

    Suppose you and I watched a movie featuring an Australian character who was, however, portrayed by a British actor. I’m sure you can imagine how I might cringe at the actor’s accent and/or word choice even though you noticed nothing amiss with the performance. There are shibboleths that I, but not you, not only CAN perceive, but can’t help perceiving. No cultural force known to man is able to prevent my noticing things like that. I could PRETEND not to notice, if, say, the actor were a friend of mine and I wanted to spare zis or zer feelings. But I’d just be pretending, and I’d be conscious that I was just pretending.

    Now substitute “Ian” for “Brad” and “Brad” for “you” and “British” for “Australian” in the above allegory and you’ll see how I can call Australians special without for a moment considering them SUPERIOR.

    I can (and must) detect things a British person can’t. They can (and must) detect things I can’t. No force of will can make any difference to this, because it’s direct perception.

    That’s all I mean by “special.” I mean “special” in the banal and admittedly truistic sense in which every population is “special,” because it knows things other populations don’t know.

    With me so far?

    Now try this one on.

    Suppose a supposed “scientist” called Michael Mann is giving a lecture to a mixed audience of scientists and non-scientists. What would you predict happens when Mann blurts out—as he is pathologically wont to blurt—something no scientist would ever say, thus flunking a shibboleth and exposing his impression of a scientist as pure theatre? Answer: the scientists in the room would cringe. They couldn’t HELP it. They might PRETEND not to notice that Mann is a pseudoscientist and charlatan, and lamentably there seem to be several faculty-loungesful of scientists who are dishonest enough to take this path, but at Climate Nuremberg they can’t ask the jury, with a straight face, to accept a plea of ignorance.

    Meanwhile the non-scientists in the room nod sagely and never feel the slightest need to revise the premise that Mann is exactly what he claims to be: a scientist. This, after all, is a pretty sensible default assumption about anyone you meet.

    Remember, pseudoscience is defined as looking like science to people who don’t know what science is supposed to look like.

    I’ve got news for the average person: dear average person, you may think you know what science looks like, but you don’t.

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  60. PPS Lewandowsky’s incompetence certainly transcends the porous borders of the “climate” topic. Recall all the trouble he had telling an item of footwear from a human being during the Alene Composta Embarrassment. We’re surely entitled to expect a psychologist to know when he’s being sockpuppeted for larfs, aren’t we?

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  61. The unflushable Lew even manages to get “conspiratorial” and “conspiracist” mixed up—not just in spontaneous speech but most notoriously in the title of a professionally-made video on YouTube. That vulgar solecism doesn’t bespeak a rigorous mind, does it?

    I’d be wary of the Gell-Mann Effect if I were you. If Lewandowsky is a nutjob on climate (a topic you’re competent to assess), then you should err on the side of disbelieving him when it comes to topics you’re NOT qualified to judge.

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  62. Brad. there are major problems with your fairytale/analogy of a lecture room filled with scientists and non-scientists being addressed by Mann.

    Firstly, on current evidence Mann is mostly believed and respected by the scientific community and has been repeatedly honoured by scientific organisations. In your hypothetical lecture room there might only been one or two who would question Mann’s competence, and it is most unlikely that they would risk the ire of the crowd by objecting to what Mann might have said.
    Secondly, you cannot treat all non-scientists as incompetent to make informed judgement on scientific matters. Some will have trained reasoning minds (lawyers, engineers &c), whereas others will be true scholars – learned but not practising. My guess, based on experience of giving talks to local communities, is that members from this community would be likely to question Mann, and would give no quarter.

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  63. Andy,

    It occurs to me that my previous response was simplistic. In fact, when it comes to CAGW and calculations of uncertainty, three categories of technical error have been made:

    a) Errors that facilitate the cultural hi-jacking of the science. For example, when the IPCC treats expert consensus as a variable that is independent of the quality of evidence (ref. “The IPCC AR5 guidance note on consistent treatment of uncertainties: a common approach across the working groups” (2011)).

    b) Errors that result from the cultural hi-jacking of the science. For example, when cognitive scientists recognise the importance of cognitive biases in decision-making and the evaluation of uncertainty or risk, and yet exhibit a total professional disinterest in those biases that unreasonably promote belief in CAGW.

    c) Errors in which the cultural hi-jacking of the science is irrelevant. For example, the failure to appreciate the limitations of probabilistic techniques in the assessment and propagation of uncertainties.

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  64. Brad:

    Your argument supports my case more than your own 😉 The reason the British / Australian cloaks appear so thin as to be embarrassing, is because culture is strong, affects everything people do, and expresses itself in all sorts of modes and biases that simply cannot be disguised, even by someone with great skill who is trying to wear such a cloak. The ‘specialness’ of science otoh has no such deep behavioural characteristics, and can very easily be worn as a cloak which will be believed by anyone who’s *already culturally convinced*. And even by very many who aren’t unless they have the significant time and skill to delve into great detail, especially if (e.g. for the CC case), despite not being directly aligned to climate catastrophism, they nevertheless as a primary algorithm believe everything that is touted as mainstream science (this itself being a cultural downside of the enterprise of science). The situation in your lecture room is as Alan describes (thank you Alan); the great majority of climate scientists in there are already culturally convinced; the few who aren’t feel oppressed by the cultural majority (which has great power and scope to affect all aspects of their career / life). Depending upon the country in which the lecture is held, the non-scientists will mainly be split by affiliation (where support versus innate+reasoned scepticism has become aligned to older cultural conflicts), or more arbitrarily split (where support versus innate+reasoned scepticism has not so aligned). So as examples of the former, in the US the non-scientists will mainly be split along Dem / Rep lines. In Germany, support will be from centre right folks, and opposition from the left and the far right. In the UK, both support and opposition will cross all main political party lines. I also agree with Alan regarding non-scientists more generally; after decades of soaking in scientific fiction / fact programs / events / books, with massive university attendance in the modern era and a huge push on stem for years, they typically know well enough what science is and they will give much more push-back than the scientists in the room (this is part of the reason why so few such sessions occur that are open to the public). BUT, push-back will only be from those sections of the audience who are aligned in opposition.

    I’m not qualified to ‘judge’ any topics, even climate science, and I don’t. As far as I can determine climate catastrophism ticks all the boxes for a culture, hence my proposition is that it *is* a culture, and I’ve done various posts (mostly at Climate Etc) in support of this proposition. Years ago Lewandowsky did great work (with others) on misinformation. This work applied to the climate domain, shows in every way that climate catastrophe narrative is indeed misinformation. So I did apply it in detail, as a series over at WUWT a few years back. This is far more useful, and far, far less easy to defend against, than merely calling out Lew as loony. Part of the reason he’s had to try and turn all of psychology on its head is to avoid this clash, a major cognitive dissonance for him.

    There is no magic way to tell if ‘science’ is really science. The great majority of climate scientists are not catastrophists (albeit searching only in English, I find only 8 out of 831 AR5 WG authors publicly propagating catastrophe narrative). The majority of what those who do believe in and propagate this narrative are doing, would look just like science, unless one stands over their shoulder all day every day to spot occasional passing incremental bias incidents. The culture of catastrophism lives mostly outside of science, and for those adherents still on the inside cultural defensiveness (which means co-ordinated at a deep level) will not let anyone stand over their shoulder, indeed it needs years of forensics a la McIntyre to see the decay of long unaddressed systemic bias – cultural bias. There are also many good scientists in the wider climate / ecology domain, who due to the cellular thing are nevertheless convinced – do you really think that thousands and thousands of scientists are all liars or evil because they believe? And all their work thereby invalidated – not science? Is Steven Hawking’s work on the evaporation of black holes gibberish because he said the Earth would become like Venus if we didn’t meet emissions policy goals? I may be putting words in your mouth here, yet that is the line you seem to be implying above. It is worth noting too, that all of the scientists who are at the fringe end and for sure are supporting / propagating catastrophe, absolutely and fully believe that they are indeed good scientists, which makes it a hell of a lot easier for them to present as exactly that.

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  65. John:

    I think you’re trying to rather too clinically separate cause and effect, which after decades of intertwined growth is not so easy to do. However…

    a) yes, among others, but unless cultural bias had already gotten a pretty deep foot in the door, this kind of definition would likely never have been proposed, or at least never approved, in the first place.

    b) yes. But there is much more in this category and from the physical sciences too, of which…

    c) I think highly relevant. The failure to appreciate this issue is, as noted above, an expectation of cultural bias. If culture has one job, it is to create certainty around a cultural narrative whose propagators are its in-group. It therefore (literally) disables the cognitive apparatus that would perceive (let alone embrace) anything threatening such artificially created certainty. For which threats within the climate change domain at least, among many other suppressed / de-emphasised issues, this one would be paramount.

    As noted above, and notwithstanding a potential start from incompetence, if not subject to systemic bias the fuller enterprise of science should in time fix anything deemed worth fixing. Climate science is these days not only deemed important, it may well be deemed as *the* most important science. And climate science has also had an unprecedented trillions pumped into it for funding of any research it deems necessary to get a grip on the better understanding of the climate system. Plus super star status has existed for very many years now, attracting lots of bright young minds and the attention of many other over-lapping fields. Had systemic cultural bias *not* existed, uncertainty issues, along with much else that languishes, would have been addressed in every which way by now, maybe even in ways we can’t even guess at currently. The reason this has not happened is because there is widespread and deep systemic bias, which stems from a culture that at a fundamental behavioural level throughout the entire enterprise, actively prevents such things occurring, because they would threaten the in-group narrative.

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  66. Andy,

    “I think you’re trying to rather too clinically separate cause and effect, which after decades of intertwined growth is not so easy to do.”

    I’m sure you can’t have been expecting me to agree with that accusation! On the contrary, I don’t think we are talking about cause and effect, so much as what constitutes a cause. Since everything happens within a cultural context, it will always be possible to identify cultural influences. That doesn’t mean to say that such influences should enjoy primacy when deliberating over the explanation for a particular outcome. Take, for example, my own area of professional interest – safety engineering. The importance of safety culture has long been understood when analyzing the pre-conditions and relevant precursors for a given safety incident. However, if one is not prepared to occasionally scope one’s investigations it becomes too easy to resort every time to platitudinous explanations such as ‘the accident was caused by the existence of a dysfunctional culture’. For example, sometimes it is more relevant (or interesting) to focus in upon the respect in which lack of competence led to errors.

    As far as the uncertainty analysis surrounding CAGW is concerned, I see evidence that the experts on the IPCC had too narrow a background to enable them to properly employ the techniques available to the wider community of uncertainty analysts. I see no particularly interesting cultural ‘explanation’ for this. There are plenty of people outside of the IPCC, but still within climatology, who are not making the same mistakes. Therefore, I have no need of the ‘cultural aversion to the recognition and acceptance of uncertainty’ explanation – if one were to use the correct techniques, one would soon find that the uncertainties increase. I think it is just a case of having the wrong people on the job. The IPCC is not the elite squad of intellectual behemoths that it is cracked up to be.

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  67. Alan,

    Thanks for replying. If I had to quibble with your eloquent response, the main problem is that you don’t understand my argument. (Note the otherwise-inexplicable fact that you don’t agree with it.)

    “there are major problems with your fairytale/analogy of a lecture room filled with scientists and non-scientists being addressed by Mann”

    “Fairytale?” It’s a quotidian, real-world phenomenon. It happens. Mann has addressed mixed audiences in lecture rooms before and, unless we as a society wake up and take the hard actions today, it’s going to happen again. How soon, how often, how bad—these details are still being fleshed out by the people who study this stuff for a living. But one thing that’s NOT up for debate is that under a business-as-usual scenario it WILL happen.

    “Analogy?” It wasn’t an analogy, it was an everyday allegory (with which my cinema analogy was analogous).

    You then acknowledge that scientists are afraid to say what they really think of Michael Mann.

    You also opine that scientists think highly of Michael Mann, your evidence for this belief being… ummm…. what they say about him.

    Did I miss something? (One of us apparently did.)

    “In your hypothetical lecture room there might only been one or two who would question Mann’s competence, and it is most unlikely that they would risk the ire of the crowd by objecting to what Mann might have said.”

    I should have been more specific: it’s not a question of incompetence—I’ve never claimed it was (say) Mann’s incomprehension of the uses and limitations of principal component analysis that would make his colleagues cringe (although for all I know, it might elicit a groan from the more statistically-literate among them).

    What I actually had in mind, and I should have been clearer about this, was his antiscientific ethics. A scientist wouldn’t be caught dead expressing the following attitude to methodological transparency:

    “Giving them the algorithm [on which my famous, career-making graph depends] would be giving in to intimidation tactics.”

    No Royal Society prizes for guessing the source of that quote.

    Concealing your working is an affront to 300 years of modern science—which is why, if you or any other scientist were in the room when Mann said the foreggoing, you would cringe (among other physiological reflexes), wouldn’t you?

    The following is an important point, which I have always agreed with, and I’m sorry if my comment made you feel it was necessary to inform me of this:

    “Secondly, you cannot treat all non-scientists as incompetent to make informed judgement on scientific matters.”

    That’s right. SOME non-scientists are competent to make informed judgements on SOME scientific matters.

    For instance, there are so many things fatally wrong with the CAGW fairytale that almost any professional demographic is bound to have their own killer argument against it. You can disprove it from a scientist’s background, or a sociologist’s, or a cult psychologist’s, or a historian’s.

    On the other hand, a sufficiently-slick presentation of the myth is (demonstrably) capable of fooling a sufficiently-receptive non-scientist.

    Analogously, everyone can tell when someone is doing a REALLY BAD job of faking an Australian accent.

    But you’d have to be an Aussie to reliably detect a SKILFUL pseudo-Aussie.

    To put it another way:

    Non-Aussies pretending to be Australian can fool some of the people some of the time, but they can’t fool Australians any of the time.

    So, need I spell out the ways in which pseudoscientists are like pseudo-Australians or do you see where I’m going with this?

    “My guess, based on experience of giving talks to local communities, is that members from this community would be likely to question Mann, and would give no quarter.”

    Now that’s really encouraging news. It’s grounds for hope. (That’s notwithstanding the disturbing implication: that at this point in cultural history, the average person does a better job of skepticism than a scientist.)

    Thanks for making it a little bit easier to “think positive,” my friend.

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  68. “Brad:

    Your argument supports my case more than your own 😉”

    Cool. I still haven’t figured out what your case is, but I’m glad to know my arguments are even more useful to you than to me. Feel free to appropriate them when making your case, adapting as necessary! No need to credit me. and no need to thank me; helping our fellow skeptics is our duty.

    “The reason the British / Australian cloaks appear so thin as to be embarrassing, is because culture is strong,”

    But I was discussing accents. I’d humbly suggest that a [psycho- / developmental] linguistics model, not than a culturological one, is more likely to be the one that succeeds in explaining the ease with which humans can tell foreigners from compatriots by listening to their speech.

    If “culture is strong,” isn’t it vacuous or at best pleonastic to speak of “strong cultures”? If culture is strong, what on earth is a “weak culture”? (Is it a bit like a koala bear, military intelligence, climate science, and so on?)

    “The situation in your lecture room is as Alan describes (thank you Alan); the great majority of climate scientists in there are already culturally convinced;”

    Ouch.

    If you’re right, that’s a damning indictment of their intellectual capacity to do science. Anyone who can be “culturally convinced” of the truth of a hypothesis about the likely mean kinetic energy of molecules in the Earth’s fluid envelope 50 years from now might want to consider a less demanding career in garbology. Science requires a certain cognitive rigor which is, apparently, far from a universal birthright of homo sapiens.

    In any case, “the vast majority of climate scientists in there” would be a tiny fraction of the audience. If you read my comment again you’ll see that the room was (half-)full of scientists, a very different population from climate scientists. (In fact it is not even clear that the two sets overlap.)

    “I’m not qualified to ‘judge’ any topics, even climate science, and I don’t.”

    Forget my judicial metaphor. All I meant (and Gell-Mann no doubt put it better) is that you know enough about the climate debate to tell that Lewandowsky is lying about it, but you don’t necessarily know enough about other topics to know when he lies about them.

    “Years ago Lewandowsky did great work (with others) on misinformation.”

    Isn’t that a judgment?

    “There is no magic way to tell if ‘science’ is really science.”

    No, but there is a scientific way.

    If a text or argument or investigation conforms to the logic of the scientific method, it’s science. If it doesn’t, it isn’t. Simples. The only hard bit is understanding what “the scientific method” means. That’s something one needs to be taught. At university. You can’t pick it up from TV. I’ve only seen one show in my life that accurately depicts the scientific method—Mythbusters, if anyone is interested in such things—and a hundred that travesty it beyond recognition.

    “The great majority of climate scientists are not catastrophists (albeit searching only in English, I find only 8 out of 831 AR5 WG authors publicly propagating catastrophe narrative).”

    But hang on, according to Prof N Oreskes, who teaches at Harvard the fact that nobody bothers endorsing it is the best possible evidence that it’s so well established as to be taken for granted! (Source: Oreskes’ authoritative takedown of notorious denier Martin Schulze.)

    That’s why you don’t hear biologists propagating cell theory anymore. They don’t have to.

    Harvard, Andy.

    Harvard.

    “Is Steven Hawking’s work on the evaporation of black holes gibberish because he said the Earth would become like Venus if we didn’t meet emissions policy goals?”

    WOULD Earth become like Venus if we didn’t meet emissions policy goals? If not, then Hawking was wrong about something he probably shouldn’t have been opining about in the first place. Celebrity got to his head and he overreached.

    “I may be putting words in your mouth here, yet that is the line you seem to be implying above.”

    Not only am I not implying such a non-sequitur, I don’t even seem to be implying it, in my opinion (having double-checked what I actually wrote).

    “It is worth noting too, that all of the scientists who are at the fringe end and for sure are supporting / propagating catastrophe, absolutely and fully believe that they are indeed good scientists,”

    Why do you believe they believe that, and why do you believe I should believe they believe that?

    Data data data please! I cannot make bricks without clay!

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  69. Andy, the last comment was for you.

    BTW, as a reminder, if you want to convince me that someone believe the things they say (and yes, I’m open to persuasion), then simply quoting the things they say cannot possibly carry any weight, can it? At best it simply begs the question.

    And yet, unfortunately, without mind-reading technology, their words are probably the best window we have into someone’s beliefs.

    So if you’re going to quote the alarmist scientists, remember that the only kind of data that matter is the corpus of what a lawyer would call their unguarded, excited or self-incriminating utterances—and of these, virtually all the examples we have are found in the CRU emails.

    The only other approach I can think of would be to analyse their actions.

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  70. Andy:

    “do you really think that thousands and thousands of scientists are all liars or evil because they believe? ”

    Obviously not.

    I’ve repeatedly argued that they DON’T believe.

    If any of them are genuinely dimwitted enough to believe in CAGW, that’s not a crime, it’s just a bit embarrassing.

    And if such an inept scientist did exist, then it wouldn’t be a crime for zim or zer to EXPRESS said belief.

    Far from it. It’d be a moral duty.

    When someone from any walk of life is gullible or unlucky enough to have bought into alarmism, then they’re to be ADMIRED for speaking out to raise the alarm. There’s something seriously wrong with anyone who would keep such grave (if misguided) concerns to himself.

    So ‘alarmism’ is not only ethically acceptable, it’s incumbent on them…. WHEN IT’S SINCERE.

    My point, however, is that it’s never sincere when scientists do it. Because even the dunces of the scientific world surely (surely!) would have to know better.

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  71. One last trivium, Andy, in case it helps:

    As a matter of public record / empirical fact, no known scientist has converted to alarmism from skepticism upon closer inspection of the climate evidence for themselves.

    Richard Muller claimed to have done so, making him a poster child for the alarmists, but then a year later he admitted to HuffPo that he’d been an alarmist all along. Seems he was lying to promote his shitty book. (All alarmist scientists are dishonest, so this isn’t exactly news.)

    Any number of scientists have converted the other way, though, and a fraction of them have even had the courage to say so.

    Does this law of nature (in a scientist, skepticism always increases with examination of the climate literature) suggest anything to you about how science, and scientists, work?

    Or is it all just a freak, thermodynamics-defying coincidence?

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  72. John:
    “I’m sure you can’t have been expecting me to agree with that accusation!”

    Hmmm… I wouldn’t call that an accusation, but maybe I’m missing its import. At any rate I had no expectations either way.

    “Since everything happens within a cultural context, it will always be possible to identify cultural influences.”

    Yet a) there are good and bad influences and very bad influences and b) we can rank them, and in fact it’s usually only necessary to observe whether something in the ‘very bad’ category is in play, as is the case in the climate domain. Most influences are too weak and / or act do not act coherently, so will have no overall impact of note.

    “That doesn’t mean to say that such influences should enjoy primacy when deliberating over the explanation for a particular outcome.”

    Of course not, except when they do happen to be shown to be prime. Or at least when the observed negative end effects (we’re really only interested in ‘very bad’) match exactly what we’d expect from such primacy, and especially when no other explanation is a good fit.

    “Take, for example, my own area of professional interest – safety engineering”

    I’m fairly familiar with this as it happens, particularly wrt to flight safety. While I have no experience of the investigation side, I’d be pretty dismayed by an accident report that said only ‘caused by the existence of a dysfunctional culture’. Imo that’s not a report. If it said what that culture was, its features and depth and specific spread across employees, plus how it managed to creep into the organisation(s) and grow, how long it had been growing, what were its policing functions and peer rewards and interconnections, what was the level of recognition and who and how had anyone been opposing it, etc etc. plus most critically regarding any particular accident (though in a bad situation several could be ‘waiting to happen’), where were all the places in order of precedence where such culture had compromised or overridden the flight safety procedures that govern every level of design, implementation, test, maintenance, repair, inspection and operation of an airframe and every single participating subsystem and component within it, and how had these compromises added up to cause a serious evasion of the multi-layered nets setup to catch issues, then I’d consider it a reasonable report that had correctly identified a cultural issue. If a report could find little of note regarding systemic negative culture and consequent compromising of procedures (or potential future compromising yet to hatch) per above, yet there was still a major flight failure, then we’re likely looking at a new phenomenon whether technical or organisational or whatever that was not anticipated by current design or operation or whatever procedures, and such need updating for future prevention. This can happen as aircraft design evolves, especially the rapid changes towards ‘fly by wire’ in recent history, and further changes for instance in the military such as total artificial all sky vision.

    Flight safety procedures are geared to be acultural. In principle, following them to the letter with no culture at all, +ve or -ve, will result in safety. A ‘safety culture’ is primarily to ensure adherence to the endless tedious procedures (and vastly increased expense), because humans don’t gel well with tedium, plus we can never make procedures that could anticipate everything since we’re simply not clever enough. So a culture of safety takes the spirit of the procedure and also goes the extra mile, especially for newer areas where the procedures aren’t always a best fit, hopefully volunteering to contribute to appropriate committees to update or gain peer approval from outside / oversight orgs before committing to flight, and inserting extra tests / safeguards / prototype hours etc. A lack of competence is not something that should ever fall through these procedures in any way; this is not a new problem its one of the oldest, and the design procedures (where competence issues would normally impact most) are geared for it. Which doesn’t mean to say that anyone believes the procedures to be completely bullet-proof in that respect, for instance regarding the determinism ( = predictable safety) of multi-core processors as flight control computers, which has taken years and years to work through the system and (for 4 cores at least) is just about there. For such a new and highly challenging area, incompetence from say Intel designers (who are not designing for flight and therefore not working to flight safety procedures), could get through the procedural and overall system design filters that are intended to mitigate the use of ‘commercial off the shelf’ silicon for flight. But many folks are all over this, bright minds and much money and big orgs and years and years of incremental progress. If it goes wrong it very likely won’t be because of incompetence, though that could be an element. It’ll be because of the cultural failure that allowed the incompetence to get through. For instance many of the DERs and FAA / EASA committee members and industry contributors and flight consultants and such, are all in a pretty small community who all know each other and who interchange or share roles not infrequently. It is just possible that they could all convince themselves over years that it works, and gear their procedures accordingly, when in truth there’s actually still a hole somewhere. But such a peer / pals culture, (very mild) danger though it is, has miniscule strength compared to the heroine powered culture of climate catastrophe (to borrow from Steve Ms comment on bristlecone treemometers).

    “As far as the uncertainty analysis surrounding CAGW is concerned, I see evidence that the experts on the IPCC had too narrow a background to enable them to properly employ the techniques available to the wider community of uncertainty analysts.”
    Absolutely.

    “I see no particularly interesting cultural ‘explanation’ for this. There are plenty of people outside of the IPCC, but still within climatology, who are not making the same mistakes. Therefore, I have no need of the ‘cultural aversion to the recognition and acceptance of uncertainty’ explanation – if one were to use the correct techniques, one would soon find that the uncertainties increase. I think it is just a case of having the wrong people on the job. The IPCC is not the elite squad of intellectual behemoths that it is cracked up to be.”

    And I’d agree the IPCC is not the top squad it should be either, although it’s contributing scientists will span a range from very mundane to very bright and indeed cover a large scope of work areas too. I’m not sure why you think I’m equating calamitous climate culture with the IPCC (which appears to be the case, correct me if I’m wrong). The largest adherence to the culture of climate catastrophe is not even in science, it is outside, and though it leans very heavily upon the science and induces huge bias (and indeed there is a small minority of adherents ‘on the inside’), this is why the IPCC working group papers do not in fact support the notion of a high certainty of global catastrophe (absent major emissions reduction). However the aforementioned huge bias, while it hasn’t caused the majority to sign to catastrophe yet, does affect the whole of climate science and pretty much all ecology and many other disciplines too. Think religion, which crosses political and job functions and many other boundaries. This is the scope of climate catastrophism, albeit it is still a pup compared to Catholicism. I feel I’m repeating myself now but I’ll try to keep it simple. This is touted to be the biggest problem in the world, likely has the most scientists engaged on it (if you cover all aspects), legions of new bright talent, has previously unheard of and eye-watering levels of funding, and due to this high profile the attention of all scientific disciplines including pretty much all the expertise in the world, who I’m sure in most cases would be only too eager to help. Yet you think *only* mere incompetence is holding up this entire show? And for 30+ years (climate sensitivity is no more bounded over this timescale, let alone more subtle issues)? Given all those parameters above, why on Earth do you think that incompetence could possibly survive all this time? For an issue touted as existential for the planet never mind a bit of flight safety. It survives, along with a narrative of catastrophism that defies even mainstream science never mind anything sceptic, and IPCC group-think and such compromised procedures as Brad frequently refers to and all the rest of the circus, because a culture is *maintaining* all these. Without that cultural maintenance, the proper addressing of uncertainty along with all the rest, would have happened long ago and certainly long before we reached a spend of trillions. What’s your own theory of why help on the issue of uncertainty and other issues too, has not only been declined but demonised, over decades?

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  73. Andy,

    The IPCC was set up to be an expert authority. So one should not be surprised when it behaves like an expert authority. One does not need a cultural explanation for its over-confidence – the problem is inherent in the concept. Furthermore, it was set up to establish a consensus and so one should not be too surprised by its obsession with consensus as a metric for uncertainty.

    I’m sorry if this response does not address all of your points, but I have neither the time nor appetite to be drawn into a battle of death-by-word-count. Suffice it to say, you appear to be inviting me to defend a position I do not hold. I am not arguing against the view that CAGW is, in essence, a cultural movement, I am simply saying that, when it comes to the IPCC and its treatment of risk and uncertainty, there is much that can be explained without recourse to a cultural thesis. In that, I include the undue and damaging influence of a relatively small group of expert authorities whose authority outstrips their expertise. If there is an overarching cultural influence, it is an expectation of deference to appointed experts.

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  74. John,

    “Suffice it to say, you appear to be inviting me to defend a position I do not hold.”

    I feel your frustration. (Understatement of the year.)

    But I’m confident that Andy doesn’t do it maliciously, or even recklessly. He’s an honest person putting real effort into reading (and even MORE effort into writing) comments in an attempt to understand the reasoning processes of skeptics on the other side of the Sokal chasm.

    That’s very, very hard. For both sides.

    Mutual incomprehension, recrimination, gridlock and continual semantic impasses are all but inevitable given the high degree of difficulty of the dyadic dance we’re dancing.

    The bane of transsokalian dialogue is that non-scientists have no idea (but tend to think they DO know) how scientists think, and scientists can’t remember what it was like to think like a non-scientist, so they assume non-scientists not only think like scientists, but know how scientists think.

    Serenity now. Serenity now, my cissokalian friend.

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  75. John,

    Even *cissokalian* dialogue is fraught with error if it involves people unfamiliar with each other’s arguments.

    (Not only have most people never heard me make my arguments, they’ve never heard ANYONE make my arguments, because most of my arguments are original to me. I’m continually coming up with ways to debunk CAGW that nobody on the Internet has articulated yet. So you can imagine how hard it is teaching people these methods. I wager I’m a veteran of even more furrowed-brow impasses than you!)

    Witness the way I struggle to get my position across (without loss or distortion) to Alan above, even though he’s a scientist. Is it any wonder you have so much trouble having a dialogue with someone who *isn’t*?

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  76. Alan,

    “Was a scientist, was.”

    But unless you get dementia the logic of the scientific method will be second nature to you, I expect, as long as you live.

    For example, how do you score on Hal Lewis’ criterion (or shibboleth)? To paraphrase, he proposed that [part of] the definition of a scientist is: someone who feels revulsion upon reading the Climategate emails?

    The test is far from perfect, to be sure:

    – it lacks specificity, in that plenty of non-scientists would presumably pass (false positives)

    – you personally feature in the corpus of emails, a detail which might contaminate your physiological response!!

    Nevertheless, please test yourself and sate our curiosity.

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  77. Brad,

    “Mutual incomprehension, recrimination, gridlock and continual semantic impasses are all but inevitable given the high degree of difficulty of the dyadic dance we’re dancing.”

    One of the attractions of the great ‘future or fireball’ debate is the number of perspectives one can take, each offering a tantalizing insight. If only to maximize the entertainment value, I will often catch myself jumping from one perspective to the other, and this may give the impression of inconsistency. On this occasion, I have attempted to move away from the perspective of cultural influence to focus purely upon the potential malfunctioning and technical aberrations of a body that purports to be ‘the’ expert authority. I believe this is both useful and perfectly possible without being inconsistent with, or unfaithful to, the cultural perspective – but Andy appears to be unconvinced. The problem I have found, however, is that sometimes debating with Andy feels like one is struggling in an intellectual quicksand – the more you wriggle the deeper you get sucked in. Their comes a point when lying still and playing dead starts to look like the best strategy.

    No offence intended Andy, in case you are looking in.

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  78. John, could you take a moment to explain what Andy (and you?) mean by a culture versus not a culture, a strong versus a non-strong culture, “culture is strong,” “all strong cultures are wrong” (I’m mangling that from memory, sorry), “does [organization X] have the features of a culture? yes it does”, etc.?

    As I blurted in frustration when my best friend persisted in mispronouncing Ashton Kutcher’s name:

    “When I hear the word Kultscha I reach for my gun.”

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  79. Brad there surely is no need to inquire, the answer is self-evident. However, I deny you victory, I deny that the Hal Lewis’ criterion has any validity. You yourself admit that many non-scientists score as if they were scientists.

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  80. Brad:
    Apologies for the delayed answer. After the reply to John above I departed to an event at which I drank a very large quantity of wine. This has mysteriously caused the whole world to be moving about twice as fast today.

    “No need to credit me and no need to thank me…”

    Your generosity is boundless 😉 .

    “But I was discussing accents.”

    Your example was cringeworthy detection, including specifically ‘word-choice’, i.e. what people say, not just how they say it. And language is a feature of culture, albeit for two close / recent branches of English and in an international world where they mix muchly, not a particularly distinguishing factor, yet indeed just enough to be cringeworthy.

    “If culture is strong, what on earth is a “weak culture”?

    Point well taken. Strong like full-on religion especially in an up phase, very modest like some group-think within an organisation, very weak indeed such as when all your buddies play a drinking game you don’t want to do but feel compelled to. My (entirely sub-text point that hence you are forgiven for missing), is that when culture clashes with science, the latter pretty punches low on the scale regarding which is going to win in the shorter term. It’s a persistent little fighter in the longer term though, fortunately.

    “If true, that’s a pretty damning indictment of their intellectual capacity to do science.”

    Not in the slightest. It is not a comment on their scientific ability at all, either for better or for worse. Merely a confirmation that scientists are human like the rest of us. Their scientific abilities will be whatever they are, so for around 50 scientists say in your lecture scenario, likely a range from great to very mundane, plus a bunch in-between.

    “Anyone who can be “culturally convinced” of the truth of a hypothesis about the likely mean kinetic energy of molecules in the Earth’s fluid envelope 50 years from now might want to consider a less demanding career.”

    They are not culturally convinced of the details. Cultural narratives don’t work like that. They are culturally convinced (which means NOT cognitively, but emotively) of the end result. The details (e.g. kinetic energy of molecules) regularly evolve in a manner that maintains the maximum credibility relative to the constraints of the moment. This provides the interesting spectacle of defending different details at different times, even to the extent that at some point over a long enough period of time, this can involve contradiction. And humans are all culturally convinced of all sorts of nonsense; it is no reflection whatsoever on their cognitive abilities within domains where cultural influence doesn’t impact / moderate them.

    “Science requires a certain cognitive rigor which is, apparently, a far-from-universal birthright of homo sapiens.”

    I’m not sure I quite understand your sentence here regarding birthright. But presumably your emphasis on cognitive ability means that this feature is central to your argument. There is a load of research exploring the connections between our emotive equipment and our reasoning equipment and especially the consequent impacts of the former on the latter, the vast majority with which I’m not familiar. However, I don’t think anyone is saying that they aren’t connected at all. Yet if I have it right this seems to be an implication of your line of argument. I.e. you propose that a particular cognitive ability should be invariant whether or not immersed in culture (hence the emotive engagements via which cultures work). Is this your argument?

    “…the room was (half-) full of scientists, a very different population from climate scientists.”

    Point taken, and it would make a difference. But maybe not so much as it ought to, so to speak. Some scientists whose fields are not climate related will presumably act like members of the public (so their affiliations etc will count). They ought to act like this, given they know little / nothing of the topic. Yet others, feeling the camaraderie of science, which is claimed by presidents and prime ministers and UN elite and various other authority figures, will stand by their brothers in the trade, data unseen. This is likely a big factor in the statements on climate change by so many scientific (and even some engineering) bodies, plus much support in the media from high-profile scientists, of which the late Hawking just one. The climate catastrophe narrative is highly persuasive, yet even so will often meet resistance in a frontal assault, so to speak, so it may instead penetrate via other cultural channels, e.g. the alliance in the US with Lib / Dems, and via the brotherhood of science, or belief in the authority of science. Even though some of these channels may be weak, they may give enough leverage for a foothold, and cultures can be cumulatively persuasive over time once they’ve got a foot in the door.

    “…but you don’t necessarily know enough about other topics to know when he lies about them.”

    Yet neither do you know what topics I’m familiar with.

    “Isn’t that a judgment?”

    No. It’s an opinion based on reading his papers, which are also in the context of a much less controversial area than climate change (and in which Lew’s contributions are incremental / uncontroversial). You’re welcome to read the papers and form your own opinion. Some of them are linked in my series at WUWT mentioned above.

    “No, but there is a scientific way. If a text or argument or investigation conforms to the logic of the scientific method, it’s science. If it doesn’t, it isn’t. Simples. The only hard bit is understanding what “the scientific method” means. That, you need to be taught.”

    If this were truly so, then there would be no conflicted areas of science ever, because you personally, along with everyone else who knows the scientific method, would simply be able to tell very quickly which side of any conflict is ‘the science’, and which is ‘the BS’. Yet society is constantly riven by conflicts related to science issues, and indeed the enterprise of science itself is constantly riven by conflicts on its own topics that don’t make it out to wider society, and the defenders of all positions in all such conflicts claim (and nearly always believe too) that *they* are indeed demonstrating the scientific method, and can show so too. Often, and especially for immature science areas, there is far too much complexity and way too much uncertainty for any definitive opinion to actually be formed, which gives group-think its foot-hold, which may possibly grow to full-on culture if the topic in question is perceived to be one of high social impact. Fortunately, most topics are not perceived to have high social impact, and reams of good science just get done under the cultural radar. Yet even then this is no guarantee; e.g. the tectonic plate debacle, which held back geology for about 50 years and into the modern era (my geology teacher was to some extent a victim of consensus action during his own training). Within all this, the detection of some duff science (we are all fallible), or even some duff scientists, does not show a whole ‘side’, composed of many thousands of contributors, for instance, is wrong, and typically in any large conflict there will less than stellar efforts on both sides, good efforts on both sides, and even a few dire efforts on both sides. Of course if one side is enormously bigger, there is much more scope for variety there. Such realities are helpful in allowing cultural take-over to survive blows one would think ought to be fatal, yet when culture has also turned blind eyes to max and extended demonization barbs to ‘interference’, then survive scandals they frequently do.

    “But hang on, according to Prof N Oreskes, who teaches at Harvard…”

    Really not a bad argument, is it. No doubt she completely believes it too. Cultural conviction is nothing if not inventive. And many who hear it will believe it too, why wouldn’t they? However, it does rather bely the fact that as noted, even mainstream science clearly and obviously doesn’t support the catastrophic, which can be seen from AR5 WG papers, for instance. No skeptics required. But when this argument is made not in favour of the catastrophic, but only in favour of, say, ‘strong consequences’, which terminology might also be vague as to those consequences, then I for one don’t have enough knowledge to challenge that, and neither do most other folks, scientists (in other fields) or not. While a culture of catastrophe (which is wrong as all strong cultural consensuses are wrong) has fuzzy adherence edges and will move many folks in one direction whether or not they all arrive at a belief in the catastrophic, that’s very different to knowing whether or not the science (as determined by future history) still says there is a serious issue.

    “Harvard, Andy.”

    Appeal to authority is indeed a typical characteristic of cultures 🙂 .

    “WOULD Earth become like Venus if we didn’t meet emissions policy goals? If not, then Hawking was wrong about something he probably shouldn’t have been opining about in the first place. Celebrity got to his head and he overreached.”

    Indeed cultural persuasiveness caused Hawking to overreach in an area he probably knew jack-shit about, which is what legions of other scientists are doing too.

    “Not only am I not implying such a non-sequitur, I don’t even seem to be implying it, in my opinion (having double-checked what I actually wrote).”

    Good. So Hawking’s work on Black Holes and such is still relevant and not undermined by his over-reach. By extension, you accept then the principle that scientists generally can be supportive of CAGW (or other cultural phenomena, e.g. religion), without this necessarily meaning that their science, and hence their cognitive abilities with which they executed that science, are flawed in any way?

    “Why do you believe they believe that, and why do you believe I should believe they believe that?”

    Because a) while there is much debate on whether group deceptions [cultural narratives are such, and actually invoke specific parts of brain architecture that evolved in tandem with successive cultures], when propagated by adherents, are lies, the current leaning is that they are not. The brain, it seems, according to at least some of the theories probing this stuff, is a choir, and in the case of cultural deceptions it seems that some singers are lying to the others internally, yet the net result from the PoV of the consciousness of the individuals concerned, is that they are being honest. Indeed passionately, fervently honest, like the religiously inspired, for instance. And anecdotally, this is exactly what we see in the climate convinced; they display all the symptoms of being subject to a group deception, and typically* none of the body language signs of lying (unfortunately there is not a formal survey on same, because all the relevant surveyers belief the strong CC narrative is hard science, so why would they do this). *=there will be some bad apples in every barrel of humans, of course, I speak of the big majority here, plus those at one fringe who are so fervent / frustrated they will be driven to noble cause corruption, which form another small minority. Should the debate on these issues (it is immature science) lean back towards lying, and think we’re certainly at the stage where it would have to be deemed a very special form of lying that is not what we normally think of with this word. Some very early work with brain scans suggests that group deceptions utilise the same machinery that hypnotists take advantage of to appropriate someone’s will, leading to the suggestion that this is why such hardware exists. b) the alternative is not only that thousands and thousands of folks are lying, not only climate scientists but many others, but that all these liars are consciously co-ordinating with each other over decades and as many new folks enter the field too. I think belief in that would deserve the kind of label that Lew likes to hand out. In cultures, the co-ordination is achieved at the fundamental behavioural level, everyone sings off the same hymn sheet at the level of instinct, with cues constantly reinforced by endless retransmission of the cultural narrative and its subordinate clauses.

    “…if you want to convince me that someone believe the things they say (and yes, I’m open to persuasion), then simply quoting the things they say cannot possibly carry any weight, can it?”

    Indeed not, if you mean it in some sort of sense of self-evident. Social phenomena such as CAGW, such as religions or extremist politics, are *group* phenomena. We are group thinkers (e.g. per Michael Gazzaniga), and these phenomena can only be understood at the group level, but including the parts of the brain architecture that specifically evolved to support group thinking, aka cultures, write small or large. The best you can say about a single individual, is whether their quotes and actions are consistent with cultural belief or not. Even if they are, there is great danger to attributing too much to an individual (e.g. Oreskes per your above example). While we are group thinkers, we are not uniform group thinkers, we have thoughts in all sorts of directions, and culture comes along like a wave and pushes the mass of folks in a particular direction (or opposite direction, cultures always cause some polarization). This is made worse by the fact that several cultures are doing this at once and some of them interact. So a particular individual could be anywhere on the map, for instance, could be an inveterate liar, could be whatever. And its also true that cultural waves offer all sorts of opportunities for a parasitical living both for those who are not conscious of their modus operandi and for some who certainly are. The CRU emails, which rightly appalled even some on the orthodox side (e.g. Monbiot, albeit he seemed to stage a recovery), are a great insight into the middling stages of a culture already exerting enormous moral pressure, certainly enough for noble cause corruption, and certainly enough for the hockey team to genuinely believe that folks such as McIntyre were fossil-fuel backed shits of the first order, despite they may have found ‘one or two useful points’, which they made ‘far too much of’ (I paraphrase). In the absence of culture (whether you view the tiny core domain action in isolation so as group-think, or in the wider context of the whole CAGW social juggernought). Look at this quote regarding Enron:

    “Groupthink, therefore, increases the risk of corporate dishonesty. Just as individual dishonesty is always a part of trying to preserve or negotiate our self-image, so group dishonesty is fundamentally linked to preserving the corporate image. As McLean and Elkind wrote in the context of Enron: “Enron’s accounting games were never meant to last forever . . . The goal was to maintain the impression that Enron was humming along until Skilling’s next big idea kicked in and started raking in real profits . . . In Skilling’s mind, there was no way he was going to fail. He had always succeeded before, and his successes had transformed the company. Why would it be any different [now]?”

    The ‘corporate image’ and therefore the ‘corporate culture’ of very many organisations and teams, e.g. the IPCC or the UK Met Office, or various whole branches of science, has become almost synonymous with climate change being a very major problem, albeit still not always officially catastrophic, yet that spectre is emotively pushing them all. One might speculate regarding climategate and also during some panic around the pause and pause-busting series etc, for instance: ‘their data accounting games were never meant to last forever . . . The goal was to maintain the impression that Climate Change was humming along until the next big temperature upswing kicked in and started raking in the real rewards and recognition.’ And the cultural persuasion and power of CAGW utterly dwarfs the kind of bad corporate culture that led to Enron’s group-think; after all once it’s inside your head, look what’s at stake! Which means you aren’t just getting a few intermittent pulses from the brain architecture that supports this stuff, it’s full-on max power all the time, for the core adherents.

    “I’ve repeatedly argued that they DON’T believe.”

    Then, speaking generally about many individuals rather than focusing on any particular people, don’t you need an alternate theory about why they all do what they do which doesn’t disappear into a whole creaking tower of conspiracy theories? But it’s also true we should check what we both mean by ‘believe’ here. I mean it in the ‘religious’ sense, if you will (indeed religions work on the very same mechanisms). Hence WITH all the many contradictions this brings (suppressed for the believers). Belief in this sense is NOT arriving at a conclusion through reason, and indeed reason will be brought into service in order to shore up the belief position by any means possible (along the lines of Kahan), plus all sorts of filters and emotive behaviours will be fully in play.

    “…And if such an inept scientist did exist…”

    I think we agreed, per the Hawking example above, that citing belief in CAGW does not mean a scientist is inept, and in fact says nothing about the quality of his own execution of science.

    “Far from it. It’d be a moral duty.”

    Indeed, which is why so many do express belief and verge close to or into activism and policy rather than just science.

    “My point, however, is that it’s never sincere when scientists do it.”

    Hmmm… which unless I’ve misunderstood you here flies in the face of the clear passion expressed by very many scientists in support of the CAGW phenomenon, and your agreement that they’re obviously not all liars, plus contradicts the above agreement on Hawking, who is only 1 example of those many.

    “As a matter of public record / empirical fact, no known scientist has converted to alarmism from skepticism upon closer inspection of the climate evidence for themselves.”

    I’ve seen mention of several cases other than the (non) case of Muller, though I’ve never followed them up. For sure it’s consistent with all my above (which is not to say I would ever have predicted it ): As noted above, many scientists may only be pulled into nominal support through weak cultural links, such as the fraternity of science, but if they should look into it for whatever reason, and they’re far from already emotively convinced, they may indeed be very unhappy with what they see. The problem with those who for whatever reason become more emotively committed *before* they start such a search, is that their search itself and their trust of sources they’re using to ‘validate’, will be hugely biased, and for instance they may pass over McIntyre or read aggressively his work (e.g. some very knowledgeable commenters have and still give very credible challenges over there, which gives Steve a lot of work to carefully unravel, however usually not convincing the challenger). Hence one would not expect an avalanche of scientists to become skeptic unless the whole culture hits a crisis point, most would be too emotively committed before they peek in. There is another expected route to skepticism though; all cultures create a sceptical backlash (it’s a balance mechanism). This is seen in all publics, whether or not it aligns to other pre-existing cultural boundaries While this is a cultural mechanism itself and not based on reason, with all the attendant issue of that, it could be that a small number triggered into innate scepticism are themselves scientists, and hence when they start looking they will already be biased to look *more* at sceptical sources, not less, and with a greater bias to believe those sources. I think it much less likely that those who’ve detected the religious nature of the CAGW phenomenon will go the other way, but for sure atheists sometimes get religion, and I wouldn’t rule it out especially for individuals who happen to be very emotively pressured in the right ways.

    My brain is still slow, I need a rest…

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  81. John: “The IPCC was set up to be an expert authority. So one should not be surprised when it behaves like an expert authority. One does not need a cultural explanation for its over-confidence – the problem is inherent in the concept. Furthermore, it was set up to establish a consensus and so one should not be too surprised by its obsession with consensus as a metric for uncertainty.”

    Absolutely it was setup to establish a consensus. This consensus owing a great deal to culture; as noted above it is the ‘job’ of culture to create (and spread) a consensus, brooking no uncertainty. If you think the consensus is not culturally derived, where did it come from? I think we both agree that it did not come from the scientific method.

    ‘Suffice it to say, you appear to be inviting me to defend a position I do not hold’

    Apologies if it comes across this way, this is most certainly not the case.

    ‘I am not arguing against the view that CAGW is, in essence, a cultural movement’

    Yes, I got that fine 🙂

    “I am simply saying that, when it comes to the IPCC and its treatment of risk and uncertainty, there is much that can be explained without recourse to a cultural thesis. In that, I include the undue and damaging influence of a relatively small group of expert authorities whose authority outstrips their expertise. If there is an overarching cultural influence, it is an expectation of deference to appointed experts.”

    For sure culture does not explain everything. And there is massive tension within the IPCC regarding pressure to conform to culture at one end and folks attempting to exercise the scientific method in papers that are hoovered into it at the other. However, I’m simply proposing that the IPCC consensus and its particular treatment of uncertainty and indeed an over-emphasis on deference to authority too, are best explained by noting the heavy cultural influence that always pushes for socially enforced consensus. This is maybe not so much ground between us anyhow, but whether or not that’s the case I guess we can agree to disagree.

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  82. Brad,

    I wouldn’t like to speak for Andy, but when I use the term ‘culture’ I use it in the sense defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, i.e.:

    “The customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group.”

    That said, the alternative definition relating to institutions and organizations also has pertinence:

    “The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.”

    The latter definition, perhaps, has more pertinence when contemplating a group that identifies itself through adherence to an ideology. I don’t think I would use expressions such as ‘strong culture’ or ‘weak culture’ and I can’t help you with the assertion that ‘all strong cultures are wrong’.

    For me, it isn’t the cultural dimension so much as the social dimension that matters. It is the fact that science is a social enterprise that needs to be kept in mind, since it is the social dynamics that tend to subvert the objectivity of the scientific method. Perhaps I shouldn’t be referring to ‘cultural movement’ but instead to ‘socially underpinned ideology’.

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  83. Jhn:

    “…I have attempted to move away from the perspective of cultural influence to focus purely upon the potential malfunctioning and technical aberrations of a body that purports to be ‘the’ expert authority. I believe this is both useful and perfectly possible without being inconsistent with, or unfaithful to, the cultural perspective – but Andy appears to be unconvinced”

    I’m not unconvinced at all. I think such an exploration is a great and useful one to do, and as you note is not inconsistent with a cultural causation anyhow. I merely think it’s assisted by tracing where the will for closing down uncertainty and manufacturing a consensus comes from, and hence the influence of same on those issues. But a) I by no means meant by that comment we should close down / avoid exploring all the gory detail of IPCC malfunction, and b) even if you did agree with this more nuanced point (it seems not), the whole cultural thing only informs in a very generic manner anyhow. It can’t possibly tell you detail on which poor science is going to be done by which particular folks lacking in what particular skills or whatever, so this all still needs expression anyway.

    “No offence intended Andy, in case you are looking in.”

    None taken 🙂

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  84. Brad:

    re: ‘the core narrative of all strong cultures are wrong’ and similar wordings.

    The evolutionary purpose of cultures, and the brain architecture that grew to support them, is to define an ‘in-group’. If we don’t know who is the in-group, we can’t apply that other deep instinct, altrusim. It is only applied to the in-group, and the out-group don’t get our precious help and goodies, and indeed to ensure there’s a strong demarcation to *ensure* they don’t get our help and goodies, the out-group are generally shunned or even demonised. So culture provides, on a constant and constantly updated basis, via a cultural narrative (actually a set underneath an umbrella theme), cues for who is in-group and who is not, which triggers at a deep behavioural level in us whether we are going to b nice to them or not, whether we believe anything they say or not, whether we will help them or attack them, etc etc.

    So via the cultural narrative banner ‘yahweh is our one and only God’, beneath which is the detail we call the Old Testament, including such stuff as that he is a super being and created the universe etc, is created an in-group. As this in-group became very large, it split to competing sub-groups called Judaism and Islam and Christianity, each with their own rule book variants, but this is a detail. The point being that the narrative is complete BS. There is no God. It’s a ‘group deception’ that serves to trigger the deep behaviours in us that keep the in-group and hence its altruistic advantage together, and fend off / attack other such groups. This example seems obvious, but…

    …the reason why the cultural narratives are wrong is that to work they have to be utterly certain, and because the world (pre-science and hence experiment) had no certainties you could usefully hang a group on, they had to be invented. And indeed, even now, it’s essentially impossible to get everyone to agree to a single way to steer their lives when there is actually immense complexity in both the real world and also within the immense range of social possibilities that we could explore. The solution is simple and culture provides it, an arbitrary basic belief that everyone can buy into, and sufficiently interpretable that everyone sees what they want to see in it, yet at the same time heavily enforced and brooking no uncertainty. Committing to these seemingly contradictory beasts is built into our deep instincts, yet in order to satisfy the many constraints of achieving this apparent miracle, including that the beliefs must be above all question (hence as far from reality checks as possible), that have to be untrue.

    So just like the real purpose behind narratives such God and the bible is to make an in-group, which if it sticks around long enough will create detailed ‘rules for living’ for the group, ‘our group’. But the core narrative, i.e. God himself, the angels, the devil and all that paraphanalia are just cultural co-ordination amd identity for the group. Similarly for the social phenomena of CAGW. Even without reading AR5 and noting that a high certainty of global climate catastrophe is not supported, one knows that CAGW is wrong because it ticks all the boxes for a culture. So it is just a flag saying who this new in-group is, and all the sub-narratives are just co-ordination and more identity details and indeed starting to accmulate ‘way of living’ for this group. Whether ACO2 is good, bad, or indifferent, this in-group flag, this narrative, is wrong like all the endless others throughout history.

    Re strong or weak, this is best done by example; I gave some above. Even the kind of group-think that destroyed Enron (so very significant impacts) is very weak compared to say a major religious culture or an extremist political one, or indeed CAGW.

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  85. Andy,

    “However, I’m simply proposing that the IPCC consensus and its particular treatment of uncertainty and indeed an over-emphasis on deference to authority too, are best explained by noting the heavy cultural influence that always pushes for socially enforced consensus.”

    I too note the push for socially enforced consensus and I regret that it is not better appreciated by those who choose to pontificate upon the credibility of the IPCC. However, maybe we should shy away from using expressions such as ‘best explained’, but ask ourselves, instead, whether it provides the full explanation. I don’t think it does, simply because there is both conspiracy and cockup in the IPCC’s treatment of uncertainty, and I wouldn’t wish the cockups to be overlooked. If you think even the cockups are the contrivance of a conspiracy, then perhaps that is where we must agree to disagree, because I think some are and some are not*. I note your observation that the nature of, and inclination towards, cockup can be culturally influenced, but I think this is what I meant when I said all things happen within a cultural context.

    * By ‘conspiracy’, I would not wish to be taken literally. We are not necessarily talking about conscious subterfuge. I am referring to the propensity for cultures to conspire toward, or contrive, the creation of social cohesion.

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  86. John:

    ‘…but ask ourselves, instead, whether it provides the full explanation.’

    Granted, put that way, I agree it doesn’t.

    ‘…and I wouldn’t wish the cockups to be overlooked…’

    Likewise agreed. And while I think cock-ups can sometimes open a window of opportunity for cultural penetration, and existing biases can sometimes encourage cock-ups too, for sure I agree that cock-ups are sometimes exactly what they seem at the surface, without any underlying agency. Especially within a loose environment like the IPCC (as opposed to say a flight cert environment). People can just screw up.

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  87. Alan,

    “I deny that the Hal Lewis’ criterion has any validity. You yourself admit that many non-scientists score as if they were scientists.”

    I myself admitted that the test has poor specificity—still, it does have good (100%) sensitivity, so nobody can deny it has “any” value, not even the most skilled denier on the internet. I don’t care if it’s a 13-year-old kid who just denied his first science yesterday, or a veteran of a thousand denials like you. Heck, a Grand Dragon of Denial with a black belt in hardcore, Operating-Thetan-9-grade denial could spend 12 hours with it in an interrogation room and you know what? He’d go home believing it. I know…. because that was me.

    Plenty of state-of-the-art, modern medical tests would kill to have poor specificity but 100% sensitivity if only they could kill. But they can’t. Medical tests don’t kill; hospitals do.

    So it’s practically valid, which is how we usually evaluate tests. It’s useful.

    But it’s not LOGICALLY valid, so if that’s what you meant, then deny away. I’d be the first person to agree with you, even before you did. That’s how fast I’d agree.

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  88. Andy and John,

    thanks so much for your primers on the culture concept. FWIW I was raised to think of ‘culture’ by contrasting it with ‘nature’ as the two big transmitters of our traits, behaviors etc, which is comparatively simplistic but it was all I needed to understand in order to deflate puffed-up blowhards conflating ‘race’ and ‘culture’ for a living.

    Andy,

    Apologies, I forgot that I’d added “….and word choice,” a detail that makes the phenomenon perfectly tractable by a culture-istic account, as you point out. Word choice and accent are transmitted and distributed and enforced in radically different ways, so I probably should never have used them in the same analogy in the first place. (You’ve heard of the classic study of language drift in the half-electrified town, I imagine, which showed that kids absorb vocabulary/”dialect” from TV, but not accent?)

    Whoever asked me “don’t you essentially have to believe in a conspiracy among scientists”, the answer is yes and no. There is an empirically obvious passive conspiracy going on, a conspiracy of silence, omission and inaction, that involves an appallingly large quantity of individuals, each of whom has chosen omerta (from the Italian for “mortgage”) over truth in an unforgivable violation of whatever scientific values their field still pretends to hold dear. By truth I mean, in this case, honest communication with the other 8 bn people on the planet: the muggles. If you don’t believe me, you can’t explain the rise and rise of Oreskes, whose entire modus operandi is to miseducate everyone who’ll listen to her about how science works, and whose sole opponent in the science-education wars is YOURS FUCKING TRULY. I would dearly like to see someone with academic clout denounce Oreskes as a traducer and enemy of science. That might even redeem my vestigial faith in humanity. But I’m still waiting. In the meantime, it’s up to me—a person nobody has any prima facie reason to take particularly seriously—to bust a Harvard Prof’s vile myths. Pro bono. Not only pro bono, but at a measurable opportunity and financial cost to me per annum.

    It’s left to the reader to identify 5 other conspiracies of silence that obtain across broad swathes of academia, and whose existence is proven by the kinds of shit our enemies get away with, not just with impunity but without a decibel of protest from anyone “serious.”

    These people are not as good as the ‘good Germans.’ Ordinary people under the Third Reich had to choose between being killed and letting others be killed. That is a hard choice. There could be good people on both sides of that choice, and I assume there were good people that stayed silent, while other people, who were (not necessarily, but probably) better than them, spoke up.

    No such excuse can save the scientists who’ve passively watch their colleagues delude eight billion people about how science works.

    They are bad, or at best ethically valueless, people. Not necessarily bad, but not even slightly good. They haven’t had the micro-courage to voluntarily assume a piddling career risk in order to help arrest the dismantling of an entire generation’s understanding of science, and counting. As I said, such cowards might not be evil, but for all the good they’ve done they might as well not have been born.

    If I sound unreasonable, I can only beg your pardon and remind you that, being courageous, I cannot comprehend the alibis of the lily-livered. My empathic powers, normally reliable, might well be blocked in this case by the psychological distance between a moral person and a moral non-entity.

    But fuck’ em. I say to such pygmies:

    “Unless you risked assault or assassination, you have no excuse for not speaking up. Don’t tell me your sinecure in climate [insert Greek stem] ology was at stake, because nobody cares. That was a complete wank anyway, a glorified welfare scheme for the most unemployably-dim percentile of PhDs. You’re lucky we’re not asking for a refund of the hundreds of thousands of pounds you embezzled pretending to be a scientist despite adding nothing to human knowledge. Keep whining and we might have to rethink our lenience.”

    But active conspiracies? Conspiracies to go out of one’s way and lie? These seem to me very limited in scope, where they exist. Very few scientists ARE lying. But that’s all it takes to keep the rort going. The vast, nameless, talentless bulk of climate-science backup dancers don’t have to do or say anything (including science), they just need to collect their cheques every month.

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  89. The IPCC is a think-tank.

    Taking IPCC reports more seriously than warmists would treat a Heartland “paper” is surplus to the requirements of honor, sportsmanship and sense.

    And it’s a strateggic own goal.

    There is only one thing we should ever have told people about IPCC reports:

    DON’T LOOK FOR SCIENCE THEREIN. Science resides in scientific papers written under the rules of the scientific method.

    It comes from the literature. It doesn’t come from blogs. Or Fox News. Or Summaries For Policymakers.

    We should have said this, and nothing else, and repeated it as necessary, 30 years ago.

    Better late than never though, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  90. Brad:

    I think we’re very much reaching common ground 🙂 It may indeed be detestable ground, yet concentrating upon the crazy antics of out-there individuals or abhoring the silence of the majority in the face of a cultural rise (which regrettably seems to be a thing at the moment as twitter mobs tear undeserving folks to pieces without push-back), only serves to divert our thought from the clinical how and why of it all. It’s probably no-where near enough to say that the silence is prompted by a deep subconscious instinct that does fear death, even when for most instances (certainly the climate change case), this would of course not be the consequence of speaking out. But for most of human history, getting labelled as out-group probably did mean death.

    Somewhere in our heads if we can form a little cell where that frustration and rage at such towering injustices can run free yet without leaking out to taint our investigation, then by all means we can let rip within that cell. Yet it’s a trick I’ve never managed; when I was younger my passion at injustice would not be boxed, and it was a big disadvantage to clarity. These days I try to treat it all as though it’s happening to an ant colony somewhere (although even then I still sometimes have an epic fail); when it works as intended, I don’t know whether that makes me less human, or more what humans should be to outgrow the issues anyhow (and if so, probably in a world I wouldn’t like very much for different reasons, i.e. a lack of passion). I guess life is a dilemma.

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  91. Andy,

    no time to punctuate but thanks for yet another detailed, thoughtful comeback

    in no particular order:

    i missed the religious sense of your “belief = evil” question. there’s nothing wrong with belief. If you believed nothing, you would know nothing, because knowledge is a form of belief

    (faith has connotations of irrationality; belief does not)

    in sane people with a background in the scientific method (henceforth “scientists” for short), culture and science don’t compete for the power to shape their beliefs

    (I mean beliefs ABOUT NATURE, which the laity calls “scientific beliefs”, a bad term for it)

    understanding The Method results in knowing which “voice” to listen to exclusively

    and in questions about nature the ONLY source, I should probably repeat that, the ONLY source of information a person can use to form justifiable beliefs is scientific evidence (because that’s the ONLY type of information that actually works—the rest are useless)

    i’m sure you’re nodding and saying “yeah yeah we all know that,” but if by the end of this you still don’t get why my thesis is logically obvious it’s because you’re just SAYING you know this, but you don’t actually take the “knowledge” all that seriously: so let me repeat it, because this is not a mere cliche or an aspirational slogan or a cute ideal or a thing you pay lip service to, and it’s not something you can SOMETIMES respect and SOMETIMES get away with ignoring, it’s an AXIOM without which no science for the last 300 years would exist, in any form anywhere, and that means we’re all superstitious peasants with a life expectancy of thirty

    so, again:

    the ONLY source of information a scientist (or anyone, by the way—you and your dog and your hairdresser and the Queen of England included) can make use of in arriving at justifiable beliefs about nature is scientific evidence (because that’s the ONLY information that has ever worked, or will ever work—and all the other voices are as worthless as hallucinations, and as dangerous as delusions if you take them seriously)

    every scientist understands this, and they live and breathe it in a way that not only makes it too obvious for words but resists verbalization

    so very few scientists would be able to explain this as well as me (and I’m not doing that great a job of it)

    they won’t tell you this stuff, not only because it’s very very hard to put into words, but they have no idea whatsoever that you need to be told it in the first place!

    it never occurs to 99.9% of scientists that an educated person could fail to know all this as a matter of course

    it took me a LONG time to figure out that people on the so-kalled “other side” are completely missing this, and a few other, premises that “our” so-kalled “side” takes for granted

    but as I said: they may not be able to put it into words, but ALL scientists understand this stuff

    there’d have to be something clinically wrong with a scientist’s brain if cultural factors were able to override scientific evidence

    for instance, try naming a “scientific belief” I hold because cultural forces made me believe it in the face of scientific evidence pointing the other way

    you won’t be able to, because there’s nothing (very) wrong with my brain

    most of my beliefs are wrong or at best inexact, as are everyone’s, which is why I try to avoid having them when I can help it, but my “scientific beliefs” are based on [my knowledge of] the scientific evidence, which justifies them without by any means guaranteeing that they’re right.

    but none of this applies to Hawking example. why not? because he didn’t follow the climate debate. so his opinions about it were wild-ass guesses, influenced no doubt by the CULTURE of signalling virtue by endorsing carbon taxes, and ipso facto were unjustified grey-lit rubbish

    and just to show i’m even handed, his statements would be no better justified if he’d guessed correctly and scoffed at CAGW (though that’s improbable—a TV scientist would be crazy to do that in our culture, wouldn’t he?).

    no shortage of people on our “side” deny CAGW in a non-scientific (and almost always fallacious) manner all the fricking time. people who move from ‘Socialism sux” to “AGW isn’t real” are best ignored. Yes, culture culture culture is at work in these people. of course. obviously. but people like that aren’t reasoning, and their “ideas” don’t matter, and they’re a million miles from being scientific.

    anyway hawking shouldn’t have said anything when people nudged him to comment on stuff he hadn’t studied.

    it was unscientific to give in to the temptation to answer.

    it is not a hanging crime. it’s sign of na overweening vanity and moral frivolity. feynman would have said the right thing (nothing), i like to think. it’s like signing a petition you don’t understand or know anything about because everyone else does.

    “clear passion in what the alarmist scientists are saying”

    What’s clear is that you can’t tell passion from pseudopassion. That’s not a criticism of you. Nobody can tell (when the charlatan is a good actor/writer) unless there are other clues.

    “I.e. you propose that a particular cognitive ability should be invariant whether or not immersed in culture (hence the emotive engagements via which cultures work). Is this your argument?”

    no. I have no view on whether that is the case or not, and I didn’t argue that it is. I’m not fully dsure what it means anyway.

    i merely said that a scientist would need to be dumb—very dumb—as in, brain damaged following a motor vehicle accident—to study a certain body of evidence and somehow fail to notice something every scientist is trained to look for. it’s implausible in the extreme. it wouldn’t actually happen. this is not a matter of IQ differences. it’s a matter of GCS (Glasgow Coma Scale) differences. Any non-blind, non-comatose, non-sleeping, non-inebriated scientist would notice there was no evidence for CAGW if they looked for it. Hawking didn’t look for it, the git, so he should have shut his git mouth.

    BTW, in terms of your own arguments, you are still making some (incorrect) assumptions about the way scientists reason about natural questions— try removing from your arguments ANY assumptions about how they think and we can build on whatever’s left

    “Yet neither do you know what topics I’m familiar with.”

    Yes, but I’m pretty sure you’re not familiar with EVERY topic Lewandowsky has worked on.

    “If this were truly so…”

    It is truly so.

    “… then there would be no conflicted areas of science ever,”

    Yes there would, because scientific evidence is normally (as in ALMOST ALWAYS) ambivalentddd.

    CAGW is a very special case, because there is ZERO evidence for it.

    If that statement seems impossible to take literally, and reminiscent of fundamentalist/zealous rhetoric, it should!

    But it isn’t.

    What you need to recall is that all scientific evidence comes from hypothesis-testing. You need to test hypotheses to get evidence pro/con.

    But what if you spend thirty years NOT TESTING the hypothesis, but instead studiously doing everything BUT what a proper scientist would do?

    Then you could spend thirty years yelling at everyone who doesn’t believe you, building an international political movement to act on what you’re claiming, go to tropical hotels every couple of years etc. etc. without ever getting any scientific evidence to back up your yelling.

    Guess what.

    That’s what they’ve done.

    It’s appalling and stunning to me. Daylight robbery. I’m not aware of any precedent, though I might have to look into eugenics history a bit more.

    Anyway, in non-pathological, non-international-trillion-dollar-fraudulent science, winners and losers aren’t decided by evidence-free yelling, but by a gradually-coming-into-focus body of evidence.

    Even when one “side” turns out to be wrong in the end, it did boast SOME evidence suggesting it might be right.

    “because you personally, along with everyone else who knows the scientific method, would simply be able to tell very quickly which side of any conflict is ‘the science’, and which is ‘the BS’.”

    No.

    In normal (pre-climate-science) science, neither side is “BS”. Everyone obeys the scientific method and acts like scientists. So every paper they come up with, no matter which “side” it seems to support, is science. It’s all science.

    If one side is “right”, it’s because the scientific evidence taken as a whole—not cherry picked—makes that side more plausible.

    But this whole idea of two “sides” is wrong anyway. Science doesn’t work that way. Climate science does, but science doesn’t. (Which is one reason why the former doesn’t work at all, and the latter does.)

    When you’re a scientist, you don’t have another scientist who “opposes” you.

    You don’t have to beat anyone to get a Nobel Prize.

    I suppose the closest thing you have to an “enemy” is the null hypothesis. But that’s being poetic.

    Let’s talk about a proper, functioning, non-comatose, non-corpse field of science. Any of them. Doesn’t matter which.

    If you advocate a hypothesis (which you should only do AFTER you’ve begun testing it, and assuming it’s survived the tests thus far, unless you want to embarrass yourself), other scientists are nevertheless free to remain “skeptical” (doubtful) of the idea.

    But those naysayers don’t have to say “nay” out loud. Doubters are under no obligation whatsoever, and nobody is ever expected, to advocate their doubts, i.e. to promote the complementary position (Andy’s idea is wrong).

    The null hypothesis needs no advocate. It needs no champion. It can speak for itself, thanks very much. It can stand up for itself.

    Why not?

    Because res ipsa loquitur.

    If you’re wrong, nature—the data—will prove you wrong.

    “Skeptics” (in the sense in which we’ve been cast in the climate debate) play no part in scientific debates.

    They don’t have to present a case. They don’t have to do one measly bit of research. They don’t even have to turn up to the debate.

    They don’t even have to exist. You could have ZERO opponents/unbelievers/naysayers of your idea.

    You still don’t get to declare victory UNLESS AND UNTIL NATURE AGREES WITH YOU, and you can only declare victory to the extent that this endorsement by nature (in the form of empirical data observed by testing the hypothesis) is definitive.

    When you fail—and chances are you will, because a hypothesis is just a guess and most guesses, by their very nature, are wrong—it won’t be some other scientist who defeats you in some adversarial, TV-courtroom-drama-style contest of beliefs.

    It’ll be your own experiment that debunks your idea.

    And so what? No big deal. You go back to the drawing board. You’re not a bad scientist just because you eliminated a possible explanation. Far from it. That’s your job.

    Most hypotheses fail.

    Not 50%, not sixty, not seventy. NINETY EIGHT PERCENT or so fail, either straight away or a few years after they’re first proposed. (The quicker the better, though, so that you can move on to a better one.)

    That’s why scientists—as opposed to climate scientists—try not to get too attached to their hypotheses.

    It’s not even a matter of “your” or “zis” or “zeir” hypothesis. The hypothesis is out there—you happen to be the one who thinks of it, and decides to test it.

    Very rarely, if you made a very lucky guess, the idea doesn’t fail. That’s great. You’ve advanced human knowledge a lot. Even more than you would have if your idea had been wrong.

    Let me say it again, in case you’re like most people and you had trouble making this paradigm shift straight away:

    forget about the climate wars. in REAL scientific controversies/contests of ideas/dialectics (and we’re talking about actual sciences, the fields that actually work, like every science before c. 1988), there is no role for any actor corresponding to the “skeptic/denier/disbeliever/naysayer/refusard.”

    In a real science, Our Side doesn’t need to exist. CAGW would still be every bit as ignominious a failure even without a single voice raised to dispute it.

    The alarmists are playing us like a ukelele. We walk right into their trap when we behave like “opposing counsel” by “advocating” our “case.”

    It sends the message to the muggles:

    Oh, look, there you go, apparently science works like Boston Legal, LA Law, or any other TV courtroom classic. It’s not arcane or complicated or mysterious after all. You know the rules by now. It’s a competition between two teams who promote their mutually opposite ideas and then the jury (consisting of 12 muggles like me) votes on the winner.

    Once a person is miseducated thus, they’re 50% likely to accept CAGW, oblivious to the fact that there is 0% of a bee’s anus worth of scientific evidence for it.

    And 50% is all the charlatans need to keep their rort going.

    “No doubt Oreskes believes her laughably transparent fallacy” (sorry, paraphrasing you)

    No doubt??

    Grave, grave doubt. In fact it’s impossible to believe that.

    Read her articulation of the “argument.”

    Only a mental defective or a mental patient could think it is even slightly cogent.

    Such people do exist, but Oreskes is neither of those, as far as anyone can tell.

    She’s an adult of normal intelligence who made most of her millions selling a conspiracy novel to mental defectives. (She didn’t even make up the plot, she just lifted it from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.)

    It’s presumably the case that SOME people, like priests, sometimes whip themselves into a suggestible state in which it’s possible for them (as grownups) to believe some of the most childishly febrile rhetoric imaginable.

    But Oreskes is no thundering, zealous, charismatic mystic. She is calculated, educated and endowed with a low, bubonic cunning. She’s an intellectual mediocrity par excellence, to be sure, but that still entails more than enough intelligence to feel insulted by the “logic” on display.

    She’s also unrepentantly dishonest, as we have seen independently of this episode.

    Oh, and she’s not even consistent in pretending to subscribe to the “logic” she articulates. She forgets the whole thing within a few years, telling a completely different fib in the 2014 MOD movie.

    Oh, and she only pretended to come up with this Silence Equals Consensus gibberish *after* trying to make the opposite argument (only to have it rebutted to smithereens by Schulze).

    How convenient.

    And as I think I mentioned, we have prior knowledge that she’s a lying piece of nightsoil.

    So advancing a psychiatric explanation, as you must do if you want to believe she actually thinks her own argument is an example of logic, is certainly an innovative approach.

    But it’s a bit like diagnosing a patient with a novel, cold-like strain of ebola when they present with the symptoms of a cold.

    It would explain the data, but so would an infinitely more mundane and statistically likelier hypothesis:

    Oreskes, a well-known liar, is lying.

    On a positive note, Richard Feynman explained the Method in 60 seconds. But if you’re not a scientist you probably can’t bring yourself to believe that’s what he’s doing in his famous minute-long video.

    You might find it easier to believe me when I say (truthfully) that Mythbusters illustrates everything that matters about the scientific method in 60 minutes. Jamie and his team are actually the most scientific people the average muggle has ever seen at work, though few realize it.

    So invest the 60 minutes.

    Then ask me any follow-up questions you have about it.

    Like

  92. PS:

    I was being mordantly ironic about “Harvard”.

    As in: how hard authority hath fallen!

    As in: weep, weep for the future of America.

    Like

  93. Kate Marvel really tries to make her message stick home:-

    But the most horrifying thing here is the refrigerator. Heat stress and drought associated with climate change have reduced global yields of barley and pushed up prices. There is no beer.

    That link takes you to an article in “Nature Plants“, published on October 15th. Only this article is about projections for 2010-2100, not an analysis of past history. It takes the output of the RCP models, processes through a “process-based crop model” coupled with a “global economic model (Global Trade Analysis Project model)”. The model outputs are devoid of any common sense. Three examples.

    First, is under the RCP8.5 scenario in 2100 barley yields are projected to reduced by 17% on average globally compared to 2010. But in parts of Montana on the Dakotas yields are projected to double because of climate change. Some farmers in that region will not only get this for free, but get much higher prices. They are assumed too dumb to increase output.

    Second, after allowing for different taxes the price of a 500ml of beer is projected to rise by >$2 (>£1.50) more in Ireland by 2100 than in the UK. The beer is often out of the same brewery, and most is of international brands. It is assumed no-one has the wit to see the opportunity to make a fast buck by shipping a few containers of beer to Ireland.

    Then there are the costs. One of the cheapest beers in the UK is a 4% alcohol lager costing £3.29 for 10*250ml bottles. Of this £2.54 is VAT and excise duty. £0.75 covers packaging, manufacturing overhead, transport, supermarket overhead as well as raw materials. 10p or less is the barley cost. Yet a 17% fall in barley yields over 90 years on its own will raise the price of those ten bottles to £5.00 or more.

    The way to stop a child’s ghoulish nightmare is to get them to wake up and turn the lights on. But in the world of “climate science“, turning on the light of understanding is verboten. The scary output of expert computer models, in peer-reviewed journals is the only “reality” allowed. That the “peers” of a biology journal have no understanding of economics or costs is irrelevant.
    I looked at the paper in more detail a couple of weeks ago.
    https://manicbeancounter.com/2018/10/18/australian-beer-prices-set-to-double-due-to-global-warming/

    Like

  94. Brad:

    Science has been around for the blink of an eye, culture since long before we were homo sapiens sapiens, and easily long enough to have co-evolved with our brain architecture. They entangle in various ways, and the whole of history demonstrates that the cultural modes which have dominated humanity for so long, are still easily able to impede or override science for longer or shorter periods. Especially that science which is perceived to have high social impact. Hawking is not a one off; because science is highly cellular, most scientists don’t see inside the other cells.

    For some reason you seem to think I’m unfamiliar with the scientific method. This is not so. I have a degree in physics and a whole career in a technical industry either in, or later associated with, design and development. I’ve seen Feynman’s excellent video long ago, and refreshed on occasion since. My position is absolutely not because I don’t understand what scientists do, and I am a huge supporter of science too and believe it can (eventually) crack everything, including how the most complex things we know (us) work. My stance is in light of this knowledge plus my aspirations for the triumph of science, but is especially also because I know something about the complex science of ‘us’, i.e. cultural evolution, social psychology, anthropology, evolutionary studies, etc. Everything this science has uncovered over 150 years points to the fact that being human, with all the attendant behaviours including in-group / out-group etc, can and constantly does at the group level, impede or trample over or straight-out hi-jack science, and at the individual level this does not imply in any way that scientists caught up in such wars are dysfunctional in any way, they are merely human.

    I still don’t get what your proposition actually is. Yet it seems to include that all scientists worth the name who get sucked into what future history will call the wrong side of the above wars, are all (as opposed to a very small minority) *consciously* betraying their calling in some manner. This seems incompatible with your agreement above that they are obviously not all lying. At any rate, such a view seems to defy history. Until recent times all scientists were religious. Many still are. The eugenics thing, the miasma thing, the tectonics thing, the recent saturated fats thing (a group-think consensus collapsed after 50 years, has likely adversely affected the health of hundreds of millions of people), and many more such. Plus of course the CAGW thing, involving thousands of scientists who do not raise sceptical questions, some indeed maybe because they do have inklings but are afraid to pursue these through fear of being called a denier (so from cultural pressure), far more because they are emotively swayed and have no reason to doubt and haven’t delved, and some because they more actively ‘religiously’ believe (and no, I do not equate ‘religious’ belief to evil, it is just the easiest way to express in a form everyone recognizes, the kind of cultural belief we are talking about). If we are to fully understand this historic and current battleground, we must pursue the science that unravels it; yet it seems to me that your approach would end up sacrificing this critical quest for a very unexplanatory, albeit maybe a more satisfying prospect, of individual blame. While certain individuals no doubt deserve to have the book thrown at them, pursuing that should not mean throwing away the findings of 150 years worth of scientific progress on understanding our minds and societies, which is starting to get a grip on much of this. That would indeed be a betrayal of the very enterprise you and I support.

    I could say a lot more, but I have already said enough I think. Probably far too much as some are fearing to lose themselves in intellectual quicksand. Fortunately the world can and does accommodate multiple approaches 🙂 Long may Bradology prosper.

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  95. Brad. I very much enjoyed your 8.45am post (verging on rant against that O woman). However, through much of it you proselytized for the “scientific” method or mindset, possibly without realizing what a crock of ordure those concepts, as they are usually conceived, actually are. As commonly conceived, the scientific method means deliberately abandoning a cherished hypothesis and deliberately testing it to death by searching for data or argument that will cause it to stillbirth. This deliberate murder is supposed to prevent a scientist becoming over fond of any explanation they may have conceived. I know of no scientist that works this way – quite the opposite. Commonly there are several explanations for data, and adherents to the different explanations. Do you really believe that each scientist strives to demolish their favoured interpretation and thereby give succour to their opponents?
    The common method of doing science is to concoct a hypothesis from part of the data, then use the remainder to determine if it is consistent with the hypothesis. Suppose it isn’t; do you think a scientist throws away the hypothesis? Of course they don’t, they search around for reasons to ignore or modify one’s understanding of the offending data, so preserving the integrity of the favoured hypothesis. Sometimes this reaches ludicrous heights as when temperature sonde data failed to find the “hotspot” and wind-speed data was used to infer temperature differences that favoured the original hypothesis.
    When I did my small bits of science, I admit I searched for confirming evidence for my interpretations. Why should I waste time deliberately searching for contrary evidence? That doesn’t mean that if I found contrary evidence that I deliberately suppressed it.
    I’m sorry Brad, but the scientific method as usually described, and as I believe you are using it, is not that put into practice.
    And we haven’t even started to discuss what the scientific method does with “uninteresting” data or hypotheses.

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  96. Brad P.S. I forgot to add that, when writing up research for publication you pretend that you followed the strictures of the so-called, but mythical, scientific method in order to maintain the fiction.
    At the present time justification for awarding grants commonly is based upon predicting results ahead of time. Hardly the scientific method in full flow.

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  97. “…some are fearing to lose themselves in intellectual quicksand.”

    Perhaps not lose so much as become entombed 🙂

    Like

  98. ‘Perhaps not lose so much as become entombed’

    Try to think of it as a pleasant hot mudbath – I’m sure your toes would soon have touched bottom 🙂

    Like

  99. Pingback: Brad Keyes Does Angry | Climate Scepticism

  100. BRAD KEYES (01 Nov 18 at 1:57 pm )

    I didn’t suggest that alarmist scientists are uncritically confident that their thesis is right. Quite the opposite. They know it’s make-believe (as is obvious from their private conversations) but they don’t care. Why would they care? Why would it matter to them that the climate alarm is scientifically baseless?

    I once listened in to a conversation between two university medical researchers (who happened to be married to each other.) One mentioned a PhD student who had done a study which showed that mothers who smoked during pregnancy had heavier and healthier babies than non-smokers:

    – The sample was only thirty, but I checked the results, and couldn’t see anything wrong
    – I can think of a few reasons why that might be the case…
    – Of course, she didn’t publish the results..

    Nice people. Not scientists? Who am I to witch hunt them out of a job?

    Anyway, I’ve reproduced one of Brad’s posts here in a new post
    cliscep.com/2018/11/04/brad-keyes-does-angry/
    and humbly suggest that the discussion continue there, since it’s without doubt one of the most interesting we’ve ever had, but not relevant to Paul’s point about fragile minds, about which there is quite a lot to say.

    Like

  101. Here’s the whole of Kate’s post at Scientific American

    Who Needs Halloween?
    Climate change will bring plenty of tricks and very few treats

    In 2018, the idea that we need a special holiday to be scared feels a little strange. Zombies, vampires, and werewolves don’t seem so frightening when the real world provides us with Vladimir Putin, white supremacists, and greenhouse gas emissions. And trust me, as a climate scientist, I’m frightened every day. Watching our best projections of future climate is like watching a horror movie you can’t walk out of. And the worst part is the willful ignorance of the characters. I mean, who could be so stupid as to walk straight into a house they know is haunted?
    We know a little bit about the horrors that await us in the climate haunted house – we did, after all, build it ourselves. Walk in to the entrance. Above the door is that most frightening of instruments – but not just any thermometer. THis one is wrapped with a wet washcloth. It’s measusring something called the “wet bnulb” temperature: a combinatiojhn of heat and humidity – a quantity that’s predicted torise dramaticallyas the climate changes.. When the wet bulb temperature gets too high, it restricts the human body’s ability to cool itself off by sweating. When it exceeds above 80°F, people working outside run the risk of dangerous overheating. When it’s higher than 95°, you – even if you are healthy, lying down, and naked in the shade (and why would you not be?) would be dead in six hours.

    The hallway teems with rats, some the size of human infants. Climate change, it has been pointed out by skeptics, will be good for some species. And this turns out to be true, just not for humans. The shorter winters mean longer breeding seasons for urban rats, and they’re manifestly enjoying themselves. In these increasingly ideal breeding conditions, two rats can, within three years, turn in to almost half a billion.

    The hallway leads back to the kitchen. It’s not well-stocked. Climate change has disrupted the food system. Earlier springs mean blooming fruits are more vulnerable to the occasional frost. Summers are longer, hotter, and drier, causing more crop failure. Heavier downpours carry agricultural runoff to already polluted lakes and ricvers. But the most horrifying thing here is the refrigerator. Heat stress and drought associated with climate change have reduced global yields of barley and pushed up prices. There is no beer.

    Off the hallway is the living room, where the TV blares news of war, conflict, and massive refugee movements. It’s made worse by the rise of demagogues who exploit even small-scale adversityu by blaming large groups opf other people. Why did we think “adaptation” to climate change would mean “carefully considering the facts ,and making sober, scientifically-informed decisions”? Based on historical precedent, that was always a long shot.

    Walk through to the bedroom, wher you’ll find the greatest horror of all. On the bed lies a person who, at first, looks healthy and serene. But she stares at the ceiing apathetically and does nothing. After walking through the haunted house, she’s toào terrified to do anything. She’s never called her representative or senators. She’s never marched or petitioned or organized in her community. She didn’t even vote in the last election; and then you realize; the bedroom is an optical illusion, a hall of mirrors. Te person in the bed is you.

    We don’t have to live in a horror movie. In fact, if we focus only on scary things, we miss the true meaning of Halloween, which is to force small children into humiliating costumes for our amusement. My own toddler insists that he wants to be “a squid that helps people,” which mystifies his parents and reveals a poor understanding of cephalopod biology. But that kind little squid, and his pirate and dragon and pumpkin and monkey friends, are going to grow up to live in the house we build for them. I think we should at least try to chase the demons out first.

    By reproducing the whole article I’ve no doubt broken some copyright law dear to Scientific American. But luckily this is America, and if they want to make a thing of it we’ll be able to argue that according to some constitutional amendment or other, if some hysterical female wants to shout fire in a cinema, she can’t shut up anyone who wants to repeat her shrill cries. Tomorrow I may do the same thing to her previous article. Or comment at her blog, where she hasn’t posted since 2015. Does the planet care? Probably not. Can Ms Marvel be persuaded to see the error of her ways? We shall see.

    Like

  102. Kate has a blog which starts like this:

    Kate Has Things to Say
    I’m a climate scientist. My favorite planet in the entire Universe is the Earth and I can’t believe how lucky I am to study it for a living. Obviously nothing I say reflects on my long-suffering employers.

    Her most recent post dates from 8th December 2015. Here it is:

    Political science
    I am a good American.  I love large portions, the open road, and initiating highly personal conversations with strangers.   I would rather watch romantic comedies about exploding cars than the classics of world cinema, which all seem to feature wealthy Europeans with protracted and deeply boring marital problems.  I do not care for stinky cheese.  A British person (named Nigel, as many of them are) once referred to me as  “terribly vulgar” and meant it.  I’m grateful my frankly disreputable forebears were permitted to immigrate, and hope that others will be afforded the same opportunity and the same welcome.  

    But there are things about this country that I don’t love.  We may be a democracy, but I suspect that, like “bloody” or  “pants”,  the word is used differently here than in other English-speaking countries.  Grueling campaigns in other nations seem to consist of, at most, three episodes of organized frowning at the opposition on television.  In America, however, we conduct a perpetual, tawdry, and cruel search for the least qualified among us, and then convince these people to run for office or appear on reality TV (sometimes simultaneously).  Elections here require the expenditure of vast sums of money on things such as hysterically inaccurate polls, bad slogans, and truly excellent television commercials.  This money must be raised by appealing to “special interest groups” (environmentalists, hamster enthusiasts, “women”) or by coincidental and wholly disinterested meetings with friendly billionaires.  The result is dysfunction akin to imperial Rome, but without the extras like gladiator matches, deep-fried dormice, and vomitoria that, I assume, made life more bearable back then.

    One manifestation of this malaise seems to be a rejection of science, at least by the more opportunistic of our politicians.  I take this personally.  Not only am I a professional scientist, but I enjoy the benefits of science in my everyday life.  I love the internet, mostly.  I love motorized transit and antibiotics and not having smallpox.  There are more intangible things, too.  Barring major, irresponsible advances in experimental physics, black hole thermodynamics will not solve the climate crisis.  Dark energy is probably not going to make anyone rich.  Literally no one will die if we don’t quantize gravity soon (although this would be an excellent plot for the next Bond movie; I am available to write and/or star). But still, how wonderful it is to belong to a species that thinks about such things.  We can’t be all bad if we can land probes on comets and other planets, sequence genomes, and contemplate the multiverse even while sober.  

    For me, though, the most wonderful thing about science is that it lets us talk to each other.  We all experience the outside world through the prism of our own tastes, experiences, and biases.  Some people have a rough time of things; others are sheltered and coddled.  Some people like red; others prefer purple.  Some people love dogs; other people are wrong.  There has to be some way to engage with the reality we share, some way that we can all agree on what’s true enough to get on with.  I don’t know that what I call “blue” is the same as what you see, but we can agree that the molecules in the atmosphere preferentially scatter particular wavelengths of light.  Science is simply the least bad way to identify things that are the same for all of us: things on which we can agree.   It gives us common ground.  How else am I supposed to share a country with people who voluntarily eat at Applebees or listen to jazz?

    But sometimes this process tells us things that are disappointing, depressing, or downright frightening.  I don’t like being reminded I’m going to die someday.  I’m sad I’ll never travel backward in time, or have a fulfilling conversation with my dog, or acquire superpowers beyond the ability to eat an entire large pizza in one sitting.  I wish we weren’t changing the climate by emitting greenhouse gases.  I hate the second law of thermodynamics.   But denying science doesn’t make these things any less true or real.  And, more than that, by rejecting any semblance of shared reality, it alienates everyone else who has to live there.  

    So why do our politicians insist on saying silly things about science?  Is it our fault for communicating badly?  I don’t think scientists are any worse at talking to the public than anyone else.  However, we persist in the endearing but misguided belief that yet another extended report on subjects guaranteed to fire the public imagination (“Bayesian model evaluation”, “tropospheric specific humidity”) will somehow make everyone believe us.   And we’re not immune to jargon.  I imagine I am not alone in believing “stakeholders”, instead of being “engaged” or “integrated”,  would be more productively put to use in fighting vampires.  

    It strikes me, though, that there are deeper things at work here.  Denying science is fundamentally polarizing: if you lead people to a fantasy world through magical thinking, those of us left behind are less able to understand anything you say.  This is a powerful way to elevate the subjective tastes and ideologies that divide us above the realities, however imperfectly grasped, that unite us.  By rejecting the scientific method or the results that emerge from it, politicians can create useful cliques: impenetrable to outsiders, and bound together by a powerful shared untruth.  It’s not surprising that many of them use such an effective tool, but it makes me sad that they do.

    My Dad’s politics are somewhere rightward of Attila the Hun, but, despite the shame he feels at fathering a vegetarian, we are very close.  Among the many lessons he’s tried to impart over the years (everything tastes better with hot sauce, it is better to die with honor than to ask for directions) is that sometimes it’s possible to get along with, even love, people with whom you disagree.  But I don’t think this would be possible if there weren’t at least some common ground.  We agree that the sky is blue, the earth is round, the Universe is expanding, and the climate is changing.  Science and reason make it possible for us to live together, in the same house or the same world.  It gives all of us something to agree on, at least until new discoveries overturn or supplement what we thought to be true.  We need more to live together: art, music, the ability to listen to each other.  But acknowledging reality is a bloody good start.
    Posted 8th December 2015 by Kate

    Is this not someone we could have a discussion with? Many of us here may be of the same age as her dad “somewhere rightward of Attila the Hun.” My politics are nearer those of Spartacus, but others here are probably closer to Cicero, Crassus, or Coriolanus.

    A quick survey of her blog reveals someone interested in dinosaurs, bored by clouds, eager to defend climate models, and, in her final post three years ago, puzzled by politics. And then Scientific American hired her to blog about science. Aren’t we fellow sceptics? Shouldn’t we bond?

    Liked by 1 person

  103. Andy

    Apologies and thank you for pointing out that you DO know how science works. My attempts to explain it at great length must therefore have seemed patronising, at best. Oops!

    I can only plead, by way of explanation, to having suffered, until you set me straight, an (unusually vivid) false memory syndrome whereby the curriculum vitae of a certain similarly-erudite critic of climatism, whose only crime is to lack a science degree, was somehow attributed to you in my mind. I won’t tell you who I had you mixed up with (although the conflation is far from insulting to either one of you).

    But having once slotted you into that incorrect schema, I seemed to find confirmatory evidence in your arguments (and no doubt missed much falsifying evidence). But I’ll have to read them again before pressing you further on it.

    On your substantive points…. cross purposes strike again, I’m afraid. The cause of our latest needless disagreement is that we have been insufficiently careful to distinguish normative from descriptive characterisations of [how] science/scientists [work].

    You point out, incontrovertibly, that scientists do not always adhere to the scientific method.

    I know. I plead no contest. I’m neither inclined nor able to dispute it, let alone when it’s redundantly backed up by your episodic knowledge.

    In other words, how science is done and how it should be done are materially different things.

    I’m more interested in the latter, since the Method is what separates us from the 16th century Transylvanian peasant.

    So whenever I talk about “how it wotks,” I’m talking about “how it has to work in order to deserve to be called science.”

    Talking about the thousand little betrayals of the method that scientists commit every day doesn’t interest me much. Of course we can’t and shouldn’t pretend they don’t happen. But since nobody pretends that, I don’t see how any further benefit is likely to emerge from having an entire “sociology” of the human-all-too-human condition of carbon-based flesh-and-blood scientists.

    Their deviations are regrettable and necessarily deleterious to the quality of the work. There’s no POINT or PURPOSE in deviating, they don’t do it FOR anything, they do it BECAUSE of human weakness and laziness and forgetfulness and status-lust.

    So I’ve never understood why people are fascinated by the subject of these deviations. They’re unfortunate. That’s it. Not interesting, just regrettable.

    Yawn.

    These deviations can NOT account for how one of the smartest species on earth managed to come up with the climate religion.

    The climate religion arose because of soi-disant scientists who didn’t even PRETEND to try to follow the scientific method.

    It’s one thing to fall short in your adherence to a norm. It’s another, more interesting and dangerous thing when scientists STOP TRYING to adhere to it.

    Entire faculties of climate science have *abandoned* the scientific method. Not *fallen short of its ideals*, but JETTISONED them. Renounced them in favor of what they euphemise as a Post-Normal pragma, but which is in truth a return to the Pre-Scientific, with all its bullshit magical-thinking rituals incapable (by design) of producing knowledge or human progress of any sort.

    Well, OK, they might march us boldly towards a political goal, but not towards “the truth” (or knowledge thereof).

    It is rather uncontroversially (I would’ve thought) a “crock of ordure” to imagine that real-life human beings can INFALLIBLY EMBODY the ideals of the scientific method. We’re not robots… yet.

    (But who imagines, or would have anyone else imagine, that this is what happens?)

    But those ideas/ideals are not a crock of ordure. All scientists are expected to adhere to them to the extent humanly possible FOR GOOD REASON.

    Those ideals are the reason you didn’t years ago from an ingrown toenail or appendicitis. Those ideals are why I know better than to believe in the demonic aetiology of mental illness, or spontaneous generation, or witches, or geocentrism. or the literal truth of Newtonian mechanics.

    So I hope you don’t consider them crocks of ordure.

    That would make you Naomi Oreskes.

    “Do you really believe that each scientist strives to demolish their favoured interpretation and thereby give succour to their opponents?”

    You’re asking: do I really believe scientists are saintlike in their Feynmanian devotion to Mut?

    Er, no. Of course not.

    I’m not high, dude!

    All anyone can do is try to approximate that ideal—but (importantly) the closer they get, the more scientific their science is.

    Oh, and I don’t believe in “opponents” (in science).

    There are competitors for the glory of backing the winning hypothesis. But in the end, it’s about deciding who’s right, or who wins. That’s a social, tribal side-effect of the scientific method. That’s not the purpose of it, from humanity’s point of view. That’s got nothing to do with why we value and invest in science.

    Nobody but the scientists cares which scientist is correct.

    The other 8 billion of us just want to know WHAT’S correct.

    The latter is the point of science. The former is just a byproduct, destined for the landfill of posterity.

    “Yet it seems to include that all scientists worth the name who get sucked into what future history will call the wrong side of the above wars, are all (as opposed to a very small minority) *consciously* betraying their calling in some manner. ”

    No, Andy, listen. Look. Feel.

    I’m alleging these, and only these, things:

    – it’s trivially obvious—to any scientist with mens sana who investigates the CAGW debate for zimself—that the hypothesis has ZERO evidence in its favor, which is practically an all-time record for conjectural baselessness

    – once he or ze becomes aware of this, a scientist is NOT allowed to claim otherwise. Perhaps they don’t have a positive duty to *oppose* alarmism unless it’s relevant to their research, but if they *endorse* alarmism they have betrayed my goddess Mut, and their blood is upon their own heads, even unto the fourth generation of their line, that the destruction of their house may be as an example to all nations.

    – silence is not morally defensible, mind you, if they’re climate scientists, because in that case they know damn fucking well that their field is a cancer on the taxpayer, because it’s scientifically too obvious for words that their field DOESN’T add to human knowledge [any more], so for all I care, these little Eichmanns can rot in debtors’ prison until their families ransom them out (by getting together enough money/jewelry/expensive paintings to refund the taxpayer, with interest). Embezzlement must not be allowed to pay.

    – any scientist who knows what Oreskes is up to has an active moral duty (having earned the white labcoat of professor /. doctor scientiae, WHICH MEANS ‘TEACHER’) to speak out and arrest her vandalism of the public understanding of science, for infinite reasons but primarily SO THAT I DON”T HAVE TO WASTE ANOTHER MINUTE OF MY OWN FUCKING LIFE CHRONICLING HER CRIMES

    – the seven times seven thousand wicked men that know, and say nothing—while the public is systematically made to believe in an infantile and libelous caricature of the scientific method—are villains and apostates, and Mut shall make crocodile food of their sons and give their wives into slavery and then, and only then, will She grant them the mercy of the axe

    After such knowledge, what forgiveness? —TS ELIOT

    “This seems incompatible with your agreement above that they are obviously not all lying.”

    They are obviously not all lying.

    Most are just sitting (possibly working on their own, unrelated research of no importance to our generation or any other) on the sidelines. Silently, knowingly adding their bodies to the popular illusion of “all these millions of experts who all agree.” And collecting a cheque for it every month. It’s the perfect racket. Nice little earner, as one would cynically put it in Oz.

    “At any rate, such a view seems to defy history. Until recent times all scientists were religious.”

    Until recently there were no scientists. There were, at best, protoscientists like Ibn al Haytham (“Alhazen”), in whose writings one can, in some cases, also find proof of a disdain for the ruling theological paradigm.

    The Method was only perfected—to the point of working—about three centuries ago, when, coincidentally, educated people were also fantasizing about strangling the last king with the entrails of the last priest.

    So I’m finding it hard to believe there’s ever been a time when scientists were ALL religious.

    Liked by 1 person

  104. Andy,

    you said “don’t get me started on publication bias” or words to that effect.

    Knock yourself out. Hurry up, get started.

    If I might presume to volunteer a Foreword to what I’m sure will be a fascinating comment:

    Publication bias is ubiquitous in science, common to every field and research institute in the science world. Every scientist worth zis or zer salt is publication-biased.

    But common practice and standard practice are not the same thing.

    Publication bias is anti-scientific.

    Wait, wha? How can I possibly know this? On what basis can I possibly say something EVERY SCIENTIST DOES is not scientific?

    Simple. By understanding the logic of the scientific method. That’s how I know SCIENTIFIC BEHAVIOR from HOW SCIENTISTS BEHAVE.

    There’s really no excuse for mixing up the descriptive and the normative.

    Which is why every scientist worth zis or zer salt is embarrassed by zis or zer publication bias.

    Not embarrassed enough to do anything about it, of course, but embarrassed enough to lower their gaze when acknowledging its pandemic prevalence in science.

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  105. BRAD KEYES (05 Nov 18 at 2:32 am)

    Talking about the thousand little betrayals of the method that scientists commit every day doesn’t interest me much. Of course we can’t and shouldn’t pretend they don’t happen. But since nobody pretends that…

    What, no-one? I know of an ex-President of the Royal Society who pretends that. One of his favourite homilies is that science is self-correcting, and that there’s a Nobel prize for anyone who can show that Michael Mann isn’t God. Well, possibly. But what’s the use of a Nobel prize if Bob Ward won’t allow you to be interviewed on the BBC about it?

    Talking about the thousand little betrayals of the method that scientists commit every day is what we sceptics do best. It would be nice if we could get further in understanding the underlying reasons for the thousand little betrayals, and what to do about it, but we’re doing what we can. What you can do, and have done on this thread, makes Feynman seem half-hearted and boring in comparison.

    Liked by 1 person

  106. Marvel’s amazing displays of delusional non-science (nonsense?) do remind that my decision to unsubscribe from “Scientific” American was on balance a good choice.
    Now giant rats are going to overrun us, all due to CO2…
    In my youth I worked in a hospital as a respiratory technician delivering breathing treatments.
    From time to time it was required to read the chart histories of the patients to confirm the Attending Physician’s orders (pre-compter). I had to go to the locked mental ward occasionally to perform my duties.
    Once I had to read the file of a deeply psychotic patient. The account of the delusions that poor soul was suffering from were different Marvel’s only in that the patient’s world was being overrun by crawly bugs, not rats.

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  107. Every now and then I start reading a post that begins “Marvel’s done this or said that, and my mind flashes to comics, and I have to mentally reset. I’m finding this reset more and more difficult as Marvel’s commentary becomes stranger and more comic like.

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  108. Brad:

    ‘You point out, incontrovertibly, that scientists do not always adhere to the scientific method.’

    This is not what I have stressed, I think you may be confusing me with Alan. It’s true of course, as you note. Yet even if the scientists themselves believe that they are executing it perfectly (which Alan points out that they very usually know that they are not so doing), my points about how humanity works (at the deepest levels, gene-culture co-evolution) and what that means for science and culture wars, still stand.

    “you said “don’t get me started on publication bias” or words to that effect.”

    I did not. You are definately confusing me with Alan here.

    “On your substantive points…. ”

    hmmm… I’m afraid you don’t really seem to addressing any of these as far as I can tell. To reiterate my own response on one of your own…

    “– it’s trivially obvious—to any scientist with mens sana who investigates the CAGW debate for zimself—that the hypothesis has ZERO evidence in its favor, which is practically an all-time record for conjectural baselessness”

    It is not. If this were true, phenomena such as CAGW could not exist. Clearly they do, and have done throughout history, and from aeons before science when it was merely generic reason they were hi-jacking and not the more formal child that is the scientific method. You remove a main strut that supports phenomena like this, and yet have no explanatory replacement. It is wrong because if a scientist (or anyone else) is emotively infected (albeit we must take care regarding the literal meaning of that word) before they start investigating, their brain hardware is literally switched such that they’ll only be able to see those things which are consistent with orthodoxy. So then they won’t be lying to us about what they find, parts of their brain have lied to the conscious them, who then relate to us what they believe is the truth. And I suspect CAGW is not a record in this respect either, it has wider complexity skirts to hide behind than some other socially disputed science issues. Hint: the way to challenge this response is not to simply repeat that any scientist who looks into climate science must and can only find a crock.

    Geoff says: “…It would be nice if we could get further in understanding the underlying reasons for the thousand little betrayals…”

    We have about 150 years of scientific progress across multiple disciplines which goes a long way to telling us how the whole show works. Including the thousand cuts, the publication bias, a raft of other biases, and why it is that even if / when scientists themselves think they are doing their very best and are at least avoiding most of what can be consciously avoided in Alan’s list of imperfections, the cultural hi-jacking of science would still occur (albeit needing particular circumstances to get started; a topic having high social impact and which also has high uncertainty).

    back to Brad…

    I’m familiar with some medieval Islamic science, mostly medical. Early science, even the earliest proto-formal efforts from ancient Greece, had some distinct advantages as well as disadvantages relative to science execution in modern times. One of the advantages was that you didn’t need a large enterprise – a large enterprise level effort needs co-ordination amongst many, and the chief means that humans have for co-ordination, is unfortunately, culture. Hence a major opening for biases and even hi-jack. Another problem in modern times is a symptom of success, a public belief in science that is strong enough to become a cultural issue itself, i.e. believing any old nonsense *if* the messaging that it is science gets locked in before the truth can catch up. Well all the debacles in climate science and medicine and the misapplication of statistics just about everywhere, may end up solving this problem for us soon.

    To cut what might be a long response short, I think you seem to have completely missed my points and position 0: But indeed we may be exchanging in Greek versus Urdu. I’m applying the relevant science of how we and our societies work to get insight on the social phenomenon of CAGW, and seems to be a pretty damn good fit to expectations too. What science are you using? If you are using none, why would you throw overboard all the hard-won findings that the enterprise we both so admire has rooted out over generations against some of the heaviest resistance science has faced, this being because humans generally don’t take very kindly at all to the prospect that their thoughts and actions can be ‘dissected’ (as they might put it), by science. And indeed what we know so far can be pretty uncomfortable regarding what we like to believe about ourselves, as the title of neuro-scientist Michael Ganzzaniga’s book intimates (Who’s in Charge?) BUT… we must follow science wherever it leads, however uncomfortable.

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  109. Geoff,

    No-one *here* pretends scientists are immaculate servants of Mut.

    When Doctor Nurse (with whose works I’m beginning to wish I were more familiar) does so, the understandable reflex is to say:

    Wait, Nurse, come back! That’s not quite true now, is it? Aren’t we forgetting the sins that even so saintly a physicist as Feynman committed, in his heart, against the Scientific Method to whose worship he consecrated himself, with the best of intentions, every morning as he dressed for work? Physicist, physick thyself!

    This, I put it to you, is just what the Nurses want us to argue.

    It allows them to concede, after another couple of decades of this shit, that OK, sure, scientists are heirs to Adam’s error after all, and (quelle surprise) they don’t ALWAYS live up to the ideals of the Method. But not to worry, erring may be human but science Herself is self-correcting.

    Which gets us nowhere, and buys Them another couple of decades of this shit.

    The point is NOT that climate scientists, having 46 chromosomes, sometimes forget to be as scientific as we’d like.

    The point is that entire faculty loungesful of them have ceased to even try. They’re scientists in suffix only. They’re wolves in scientists’ skins. They’re apostates and traitors to Mut.

    That would explain the rise of CAGWism and Pre-Normal Antiscience à la Oreskes.

    Human imperfection would NOT.

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  110. Andy,

    I can’t rule out the possibility that you, Alan and the third party I alluded to above have been recruited, through no fault of your own, into a perverted triage à trois of mistaken identities in my imagination.

    So let me apologize on the assumption that that’s exactly the sordid situation.

    I still don’t understand what precedents you (or whoever I’m confusing you with) are suggesting there are for CAGWism.

    Consider just one phenomenon (and by no means the most notorious in this dark episode) that, to me, seems to be hapax:

    Remember the “hide the decline” email? Five scientists received it. None of them reported it, or cautioned Phil Jones against confessing to acts of mass deception in writing, or even expressed their disapproval, as far as anyone knows. Michael Mann sees fit to claim responsibility for the “trick” in his own CV. All of this was subsequently blown wide open like the swollen, gaseous whale carcass it is.

    Nobody lost his job.

    When have we seen this before? (That’s a rhetorical question—I, for one, never have.)

    Now, maybe such conspiracies of dishonesty exist in the sloppier sciences, and maybe they exist with impunity, but have they ever been exposed in public without the slightest professional repercussion to the culprits? I mean, has the world’s population ever before been doubly deceived like this: first by the deceptive graph, and then by the complicity of the scientific and political and academic establishments into thinking it’s perfectly kosher for scientists to do this?

    If this debate has been debated in the past, how did our skeptical forebears debate it? And why aren’t we doing a better job of it, given that there’s nothing new here (in your view)? What are the ‘hard-won insights’ we owe to the science of pseudoscientific folies à plusieurs, and why don’t they seem to be helping us this time? Or am I missing something? (That’s a rhetorical question—evidently I am.)

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  111. As to what “science” I use to understand the current impasse, I haven’t found it necessary to use any. Logic, plus a smattering of folk psychology (not pop psychology, just the basic theory-of-mind stuff we’d all mastered by the age of 4), plus the publicly-verifiable history of the climate debate, have so far been entirely sufficient to explain every major aspect of the situation. I never find myself confused (appalled, disappointed and exasperated, yes, but not confused) by how badly this “debate” is going for those of us who value the truth over agreeing with our cultural affines.

    Not only does my model explain everything I’ve seen so far (whether or not I’ve “explained” it very well to other readers of these august pages being another matter entirely, of course!) but it doesn’t make any of the counterfactual predictions you seem to think I should be expecting. My account doesn’t lead to any contradictions, in other words, notwithstanding your persistent suspicion that it does. I can only attribute your impressions to my poor articulation of my argument.

    To generalize upon a tip I once gave you or Alan or someone else: if you find yourself suspecting me of contradicting myself, that’s a red flag—please go back and check your reasoning. Either you’ve forgotten to carry a 1 somewhere (90% frequency) or I’ve made an egregious hash of saying what I mean (rarely the case, but not unheard of by any means). Remember, my words sometimes contradict each other—being but imperfect angels of my divine mind—but We don’t contradict Ourselves.

    (By the way, as people will have guessed, We’re on holiday in Canada right now, hence Our unusually rich range of personal pronouns. Today I’m identifying as two males. Hatred be upon zim who denies Our civil right to do so.)

    It’s entirely plausible that you understand the contemporary clusterfuck too—using your own preferred analytical tools—but I have the impression (entirely fallible, of course) that your understanding relies on the premise that well-paid “scientists” and “professors of scientific history” are suffering from the kind of phantasmagorically delirious flights of cognition you or I would seek medical attention for. Not only are they committing the most gigantic, throbbing purple fallacies in their own head of heads, they’re proceeding to commit these TO WRITING in national newspapers and Science essays and Nature editorials for all to read, despite being insulting to the intelligence of an intelligent child. (And nobody in the editorial chain has the compassion to stop them embarrassing themselves.)

    And all this is being done, in your view, WITHOUT MALICE? As a result of involuntary glitches in human cognition? Biases to which you or I or anyone might be enthralled at this very moment without even realizing it, and (ipso facto) to which we can’t really be blamed for succumbing?

    Is this a fair (not complete by any means, but true so far as it goes) characterization of your model? (Probably not—but what have I misunderstood?)

    Because if you ask me, these people are just priests in a different (but not very different) line of work, lying their asses off at the expense of a flock of unintelligent children and credulous adults.

    Priests exist. I’m not sure the kind of people your theory posits exist, but again, that’s probably because I don’t understand your theory.

    I too thought we were reaching common ground for a while there, Andy. Then we passed each other in the night and this morning see that we have each staked out a decidedly uncommon position. Not that that’s a criticism. Of either of us.

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  112. Brad, Andy. There may be some confusion about the scientific method, a topic that you both seem to think I was discussing in terms of how scientists fail to adhere to its principles. I wasn’t, I was making the case that, for most of the time, it is the opposite of the method that is deliberately used. Only at the end of any research might there be an attempt to strengthen conclusions reached by subjecting them to stress testing.
    Much of “big” science is done by groups. Can you imagine what could happen if each group member was attempting (by employing the scientific method too early) to undermine conclusions being reached by other group members? Collaboration and mutual support must be the name of the game and would be enforced with rigour by an efficient team leader. Brad focus your vitriol on climate change team leaders, not so much on the foot soldiers.
    Come not to criticize Harry, but to praise him.

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  113. ‘So let me apologize…’

    It would be extremely useful to get some focus, even on the right person let alone the points would be nice 😉 Alan’s points may or may not be consistent with mine at times, but even when they happen to be consistent they do not by any means constitute my line of argument, and likewise my points no doubt do not constitute his.

    ‘When have we seen this before?’

    In every single religion that has, before and after the inventions of email or printing or writing, clashed with the systems of morality and law and what was considered reasonable before it arose, plus clashed with more basic realities in whatever era. Ditto for every single extremist political movement including whole hosts of them now forgotten that crashed into existing law and reason and morality. In every single instance where dogma and the heavy head of enforced consensus has prevented science from getting to the real solutions, for years or maybe generations (the internet is your friend), whether entangled / pushed by culture writ larger per above (as was the case per eugenics as Hunter reminded us above), or merely via smaller scale group-think that nevertheless even on its own can do tremendous damage (e.g. the saturated fats thing and the health of whole nations). Very many cases of group-think bringing down businesses and business institutions (I quoted the Enron case above, where climategate behavioural parallels are apparent). You have to remove from your head the domain specifics, e.g. religious, political, science or business, or which flavour of same. Regarding the similarity of group-think behaviour in every domain, it is literally written into our DNA. Technology such as writing and printing and email appears to help with detection of ethical issues, yet at the same time it helps with the reach and reactive speed of cultural enforcement. It helps both sides. The social phenomenon of CAGW is the first ‘biggy’ that has most of its rise recorded in the age of email and the internet, yet the internet is awash with scandals in other less high-profile areas (some overlapping, some not), such as second-hand smoking science, insecticide science, the saturated fats thing (though unfortunately much of the early rise in the 50s to 70s before internet), or whatever. The scale and public availability of detail in CAGW just reflects the sheer size and resource profile of the cultural wave (and hence also efforts opposing it via FoE or any other means). But throughout history such scandals frequently don’t bring down a culture because adherents are all looking at them with pre-configured h/w in their heads, and what’s done for the cause gets very wide latitude indeed. Including issues that are a consequence of similar behaviours but are not science entangled, the huge scandal of priests and paedophilia is obviously a pretty well documented one by now. This has gone much further than climate science transgressions, only happening because the law and moral safeguards that are supposed to be in place were disabled / blind-sided by the supposed moral stance of the culture. Will it bring down the two millennia old culture of the Catholic church – no way. Will most adherents continue to believe as they did before? Yes. Will it cause damage? Yes. The social phenomenon of CAGW can likewise survive much damage; how much has to be accumulated to reach critical failure, well we aren’t able to measure that.

    “If this debate has been debated in the past…”

    The scientific disciplines that look into the workings of humans and human society, in-between fighting each other endlessly on territory and theoretical and ethical differences, debate this stuff all the time, and while always fraught at the leading edge, have a kind of frothy but fairly common wake in their background for things that are nominally agreed over a long period of time, having comported to history and evidence better than the alternatives.

    “..why aren’t we doing a better job of it, given that there’s nothing new here (in your view)?”

    Because humans are the most complex system (we think) that we know of, and recursive investigation is also the hardest (ultimately, we are investigating the machinery, at both individual and group level, that is doing the investigations). And we did only start about 150 years back. You might as well ask why it is that after 350 years or so of formal physics, why is it that we’ve only just discovered that we have little clue what 85% of the universe is actually made of, and so to hide our embarrassment we invented the labels dark energy and dark matter. I think at least that the science of the human condition, still struggling with many issues as it is, is not in such a difficult place.

    “What are the ‘hard-won insights’ …”

    My posts at Climate Etc. would be a starter. Come to that some of my points in this thread too! But you should never rely on me or anyone as single source, spring-board only – jump in 🙂

    “…why don’t they seem to be helping us this time?”

    Is this a serious question? Just because some tiny number of folks know some useful knowledge about the complex realities of life (whatever is that knowledge), doesn’t automatically mean they have a good solution to address it (e.g. without unforseen consequences). And even if they did, this doesn’t mean that society will believe the knowledge or will be at all happy with the solution (in fact the specific knowledge here tells us that they won’t, or at least they will be polarised). And the solution could take centuries. Indeed the first problem is that pretty much all the guardians of this knowledge think that climate science is simply an output of physics or similar hard science having ‘immediate’ provable evidence, and hence they aren’t thinking to apply any of their knowledge. Their presidents and prime ministers told then this. In other words, they are victims of the very effects they have investigated. This is why I’m in a vacuum most of the time. However, the only route that matters is the route that always triumphs *in the end*. Use science. Follow the science. The more people who eventually get it, the better things will be, because even without a ‘solution’ per-se, it will cause everything to pause, maybe sufficient pause for the culture to fall in a hole. And meanwhile such understanding should in theory lead to a much better, much more efficient, game play in opposing the culture at the front-line, so to speak, pending a wider realisation, although I don’t partake in this personally, that isn’t my motive. And the disciplines that look into this are indeed going to get it big time one day, it’s inevitable; the problem being, when?

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  114. Alan:

    Thanks, I got this. And working in groups, especially large, introduces its own dangers, mentioned above. But in essence the entanglement of science and culture is only tilted rather more by the conscious imperfections, so to speak. Even if everyone thought they were doing the ideal best that was actually possible, cultural mechanisms can still override (in the right circumstances).

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  115. Brad:

    “As to what “science” I use to understand the current impasse, I haven’t found it necessary to use any.”

    The best that science can offer and the minimum passion gives the best protection against mistakes and bias. Maybe this is an opportunity.

    “…but I have the impression (entirely fallible, of course) that your understanding relies on the premise that well-paid “scientists” and “professors of scientific history” are suffering from the kind of phantasmagorically delirious flights of cognition you or I would seek medical attention for.”

    Then you are completely wrong. We need to move away from any individuals, which your ‘professor of scientific history’ alludes to, because for any particular individuals, we *cannot say anything at all*. Given the sheer size of the CAGW phenomenon and the number of believing scientists (of whatever discipline and including the climate sciences), it’s an absolute cert that some of them will either need or already be taking medical (by which I assume you mean psychological) help. But speaking more generally about that population, mere belief in the narrative of climate catastrophe does not by any means imply any delusion or dysfunction or disability or dishonesty, any more than is the case for being Catholic.

    “I too thought we were reaching common ground for a while there, Andy. Then we passed each other in the night and this morning…”

    So did I. But pretty much every time you say something about what you think that I think, like above, it seems to pretty much be the opposite of what I actually think. As for what you think, I still haven’t grasped any consistent model of what it is 0: Apart from outrage at a few individuals, of course. But while we might all feel some outrage, its less use than an ashtray on a motorbike regarding both understanding and attempts to move the needle, it’ll probably just blind us.

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  116. Climate alarmism doesn’t always cause despondency. Some people get off on it. Embracing the eschaton makes them part of an elect. My current favourite climate alarmism quote:

    I suppose I’m lucky to have been engaged with the problem of catastrophic climate collapse and human extinction for quite a long time. I’m not as panicked by it as people who are just coming round to the concept now, so I can at least offer a relatively calm perspective.

    Wake up, sheeple! Accept that human extinction is imminent and one day you too might be able to boast that it’s all old hat and you’re pretty OK with it now. (But don’t wait too long or we’ll all be dead.)

    That quote is from someone who, until last week, helped organize Extinction Rebellion, the mostly Quaker effort to get people arrested so that our evil capitalist overlords will think twice about their deliberate plans to make humans extinct. Just before ER’s Monbiot- and Lucas-speeched pre-launch happening in Parliament Square, he quit helping ER because he reckoned its efforts to recruit salaried staff were a betrayal of the campaign’s core aim of stopping climate change killing everyone everywhereshowing that dole-funded anarchists should be taken seriously.

    (Thanks for the link to ‘This Is How Scientists Feel’, Andy. Added to the archive.)

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  117. Vinny:

    Yep, fear and hope, sin and salvation, climate calamity or the ‘ideal society’ we need to fix it. Some folks end up at one end of the dipole, some at the other.

    ‘eschaton’ I learned a new word 0:

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  118. “eschaton” gosh! I thought it was a typo for something I really didn’t want to know about. Then it happened again with “immanentize”.

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  119. Kate thrives on climate doom (aimed at children especially by the prose, is this the demographic SA is now aiming at?).
    just look at the previous post she made at SA (sorry if this has been covered already?) –

    “Slaying the Climate Dragon – A fairy tale whose ending, still unwritten, is by no means guaranteed to be happy”

    what more can I say.

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  120. TED talk by Kate – “Climate change is real, case closed” is the opening quote from Kate, who then goes on to talk about clouds (will they buy us some time to get our act together – no) & climate models. khttps://www.ted.com/talks/kate_marvel_can_clouds_buy_us_more_time_to_solve_climate_change

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  121. Andy,

    “We need to move away from any individuals, which your ‘professor of scientific history’ alludes to, because for any particular individuals, we *cannot say anything at all*.”

    Who was it—was it you? I think it was you!—who said something about the particular individual called Naomi Oreskes:

    “No doubt she believes [her own schtick]”

    And if she “believes” it, however delusional, then her falsehoods are promulgated WITHOUT MALICE.

    So I submit (with all due respect) that your own sayings belie the agnosticism you profess (“we cannot say anything at all”).

    Either I can say something about individuals, or neither of us can.

    My “outrage” at individuals—never mind that privately, most of my disgust is felt for their enablers—is a more sensible response than you give it credit for, IMHO.

    It’s an individual (Ben Santer) who concocted The Consensus. It’s an individual (Naomi Oreskes) who designed a pseudo-study to pretend that 100% of scientists were on board. It’s an individual (Al Gore) who made an Academy-Award-winning, Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning infomercial for his own carbon-trading company—an infomercial which is still foisted, to this day, on schoolchildren everywhere as a documentary—in which one of the two killer pillars of persuasion is a misrepresentative citation of Oreskes’ fraudulent essay. (The other, equally dodgy pillar of his sales pitch being the CO2/temp graph that uses Mike’s Nature trick to hide the lag.) It’s an individual (John Cook) who repeatedly steals my country’s top science-education cash prizes, despite the psychotic fictitiousness of everything he has ever “taught” the public about science, while I piss against this tidal wave of pseudoscience pro bono.

    These individuals would get the hatred and ridicule they deserve if not for an army of apologists.

    But I can’t fight these armies directly, so all I can do is make the individuals they’re defending even more obviously indefensible.

    As Alinsky pointed out, an individial hurts faster than an institution.

    So I humbly put it to you that we need to move away from institutions, because against any particular institution, we *cannot do anything at all*.

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  122. Finally, Andy,

    was it you (no, it was probably someone else) who disputed my observation that there is zero scientific evidence for CAGW on the grounds that, in whoever’s words I’m paraphrasing, “if that were the case, then [some counterfactual would be factual, which it’s not, or alternatively: how come some fact is true, which it shouldn’t be if you were right]?”

    Whatever the reductio was, I seem to recall that I wasn’t convinced it DID follow from my claim, however. (Sorry for not remembering the details.)

    In order to falsify my claim (if it’s false) it would surely be simpler and more effective to say something of the form:

    “Brad, you say there isn’t a scintilla of scientific evidence for CAGW, but here’s some….”

    …followed by the name of one [1] single scientific paper that scientifically tests the scientific hypothesis (and scientifically shows that it passes the scientific test).

    No alarmist has ever been able to point me to this Holy Grail paper, but then, just because they’re the most interested advocates of their postition, I suppose it doesn’t follow that they’re the most competent ones.

    So I’m open to ANYONE who can set me straight on this.

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  123. Andy,

    “Is this a serious question?”

    ¡Tranquilo, carnal!

    All my questions are serious, and all answers (however self-explanatory and redundant they may seem to their authors) are appreciated.

    Even when I ask someone to explain a phenomenon everybody “understands”, which by the way was NOT what I was doing here, the aim is to encourage people to put their intuition into words, an exercise that often reveals weak links—and if it doesn’t, so much the better.

    In this case, my question might have been an argument (if we’ve seen this before, surely we’d be doing a better job of fighting it); or it might have been a mere question (if what you’re suggesting is true, then what’s wrong with us? why aren’t we making better use of this deja vu?).

    You took it the latter way and gave a serious answer I whose details I wouldn’t have guessed myself—so, thank you. Even without accepting the premise, I enjoyed the explanation.

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  124. There is a new article at Buzzfeed about the victims of climate alarmism.

    “A new branch of psychology known as ecopsychology is emerging to help those who are dealing with feelings of grief, despair and hopelessness as a result of global warming.”

    This relates to the post John Ridgway recently wrote on ecopsychology.

    So we have one large industry busily creating this scare story, and now another growing industry helping people to deal with the terror the first one has caused. Wouldn’t it be a bit simpler, and kinder on the victims, not to create the bogus scaremongering in the first place?

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  125. Brad:

    You brought up Oreskes in one of your responses to me, regarding a particular tack that she was taking. Granted, I then made a speculative statement on her thoughts about that tack, one which has no evidential basis whatsoever. Indeed it is so tempting to do such things. You’re right it’s inconsistent too, and I shouldn’t have.

    However, none of my above texts mean that we shouldn’t be chasing the tails of anyone who has done fraudulent work or sharp practice. Of course not. The forensic chase a la McIntyre mode, especially, which I have mentioned more than once above. Nor am I recommending in any way that we concentrate on institutions instead for such chases, whether or not that might be useful (I have no idea). I mean only that we have to get away from individuals when we are seeking the explanations for all this (which is what we were doing above), and I think my context was pretty clear. Yet it’s also true that any such chase is severely uphill, due to…

    “These individuals would get the hatred and ridicule they deserve if not for an army of apologists.”

    More accurately like several allied armies within different functions of society. Cultural explanations illuminate why such things happen, why they’ve always happened throughout history. It seemed to me that SR15 awakened quite a bit of speculative feeling in the media that it could all just be a doomsday cult, albeit nowhere near as much of course as the usual strident calls for yet more efforts to decarbonise more quickly. This is interesting. Notwithstanding per above that it is always good to chase down fraud and I would never recommend not to do so, attempting to go 135 rounds each with a whole bunch of individuals who are protected as you note by armies, is long and punishing to say the least. And what then? The cultural explanation suggests that if those fights in aggregate haven’t damaged the culture enough, it will just morph its position a bit and rotate in another set of individuals. Cultures can be rather like a hydra. Yet if it could be demonstrated to the public that the catastrophic is indeed cultural, the whole platform upon which all the individuals and armies stand, would unravel. Not at all easy either, I agree, yet far more effective if it could be done (although this is not a personal goal either, for me). And one approach doesn’t prevent the other anyhow, they can progress together.

    “Whatever the reductio was…”

    I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about. I have never defended (or in fact attacked either) any of the evidence about physical climate change, in this thread or anywhere, whether such evidence is presented by those who believe in catastrophic outcomes, middling negative outcomes, or benign outcomes. My stance comes from social data, and is that whether ACO2 is good, bad, or indifferent, the narrative of catastrophic climate change is wrong, because it is cultural. Hence I wouldn’t expect any supporter of the catastrophic to be able to present you with incontrovertible evidence supporting their position; it cannot exist because their position rests on a *cultural* consensus. But I also don’t know why you are lapping around this here anyhow; isn’t it one of the things that we are both agreed upon all the way through, albeit maybe via somewhat different routes?

    ¡Tranquilo, carnal!

    Sorry, the question just took me rather by surprise.

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  126. Paul:

    Being going on for years, see the links within below. But I’ve noticed before a definite preponderance of Australians suffering from (and so addressing too) this, which your above link is likewise consistent with. I’ve no idea why this would be so.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/11/09/wrapped-in-lew-papers-the-psychology-of-climate-psychologization-part3/

    ‘So we have one large industry busily creating this scare story, and now another growing industry helping people to deal with the terror the first one has caused.’

    More employment 😉

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  127. Vinny,

    “Some people get off on it.”

    Indeed, the frisson of the eschaton belies the casual, asexual pretense of the embrace.

    Not for nothing are chiliasts known for suffering the mouth-feel of a face full of Mace gladly. They seem to be willing to swallow anything. If there’s a gag-point to their sadomasochism, it hasn’t been measured on the Scoville scale yet.

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  128. Andy,

    ¡cálmate, cabrón! By…

    ““Whatever the reductio was…”

    …I meant nothing more than “whatever the second step in that argument was (since I can’t seem to remember it),” referring to the argument I’d paraphrased as “If there is no sci. evidence for CAGW, then how come [the bit I can’t seem to remember]?”

    You say “this” has happened before, and provide countless good analogies from the religious and other ideological realms.

    But what I actually meant was “when has this kind of thing (IN SCIENCE) happened before?”

    At the risk of sounding scientifically-exceptionalist…. science is special.

    We expect imams and bishops and gurus to lie—that’s in their job description. We expect politicians and other ideologues to lie—that’s in their job description.

    We do NOT expect, or pay, or want, scientists to lie to us.

    Well, OK, apparently we do…. now. But when has a population ever before been so servile as to not only tolerate a liar like Phil Jones (IN SCIENCE) but to reinstate him after his lies are exposed, and in an email confessing to the deception, no less?

    I know some scientists have always been dodgy, and gotten away with it, but only because we DIDN’T discover their misdeeds.

    AFAIK, l’affaire CRU was unprecendented (IN SCIENCE) to that extent.

    You also mentioned the enemy’s option to “morph its position a bit and rotate in another set of individuals.” Not an unreasonable prediction.

    Interestingly, though, they seem to be unable to do that here (in the CAGW wars).

    I’ve rarely seen anyone on the enemy team throw Mann under the bus—the lying media whore Richard Mueller being the only “mainstream” scientist I can think of who had enough integrity to do so.

    Or Lewandowsky. (One opponent—not an enemy as such—once admitted to me privately that Lewandowsky was “an idiot”, but this was surely the euphemism of the year.)

    Or Oreskes. No, never Oreskes.

    I suspect they don’t because they can’t.

    I’m a bit time-poor so I’ll have to paste a comment I wrote to Kristi Silber (opp.) expressing my darker thoughts on this. Excuse the countless polemical excesses—I didn’t express myself *nearly* as carefully here as I would strive to do in a less-adversarial, potentially productive dialogue….

    Kristi,

    if Your Side wants skeptics to move on and quit bashing Michael Mann with a stick of his own making, all you have to do is disavow him.

    He’s a poster child for bad science, so what have you got to lose?

    Continuing to defend the indefensible makes Your Side looks ridiculous, which is why we enjoy putting you in that position and watching you squirm. It’s one of the better tactics we employ, because the public doesn’t have to understand adiabatic lapse rates to draw the obvious conclusions about Your Side when they see you circling the wagons around self-evidently dodgy “science.”

    Your Side routinely claims that Mann’s “sloppy” [h/t: legitimate, mainstream, respectable scientists] research doesn’t matter, because you have so many independent lines of evidence all adding up and pointing clearly to the same one single [1] conclusion: that only a progressive tax on an industrial metabolic byproduct will save our kids’ kids’ kids from being burned alive by acidic oceans, or something.

    But if you had anything else, you’d throw the really bad scientists under the bus.

    The fact is, if you jettisoned the overtly repellent eggs like Mann, Jones, Lewandowsky and Oreskes, there’d be nothing left in your basket. (Prove me wrong, please—I beg you.)

    The rotten eggs are the only eggs you’ve got.

    People aren’t (infinitely) dumb: when they see Your Side insisting its schtick doesn’t stink, they grasp the corollary.

    So, no. You can implore us all you like but we’re never going to give Mann et ilk a pass. There is no statute of limitations on pseudoscience.

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  129. To clarify, Andy, I didn’t mean to accuse the Other Side of having no scientists who aren’t rotten.

    What I was suggesting to Kristi is that the rotten ones are the only ones doing the “lifting” for their side. If you got rid of the overtly corrupt scientists, there may well be thousands of comparatively-honest ones left… but THEIR work wouldn’t have advanced the catastrophist narrative an inch. You couldn’t get CAGWism to survive as long as it has without the fraudulent findings (consensus science, MBH98, skeptics are conspiracy theorists, etc.)

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  130. “when has this kind of thing (IN SCIENCE) happened before?”

    I gave some examples above. To be a little more expansive, for instance the consensuses on: static continents, the motion of blood, miasma, cause of ulcers, doctors and ‘superfluous’ hand washing, Ptolemaic system, saturated fats cause heart disease, and obesity plus diabetes, eugenics, bloodletting. These were not perceived as interim concepts to evolve from (I guess there must be many thousands of those). These consensuses were enforced, socially promoted, clung to and defended against evidence (much of which in retrospect seems blindingly obvious), sometimes over generations and sometimes with much damage. There are more purported such behaviours in modern times on various conflicted issues, which I have not pursued, so for instance within the second hand smoking conflict and various insecticide science disputes including the one about bees and neocotinoids. Some seem to match, yet because controversies on most of these modern ones are still raging, it is indeed very difficult with only a brief look to know whether the enforced consensuses are indeed scientific or cultural; the social profile of such disputes are only a tiny fraction of CAGW so there is effectively no social data to work with that could prove a cultural consensus was operating. As another example, I have tended to go with the majority view on DDT over the years (why wouldn’t I?), but the long ban was recently lifted for bounded use, the entry in rationwiki looks like it was written by what in the climate domain we might call an ultra-orthodox (‘Horrifically stupid wingnuts and experts for hire will sometimes imply that a supposed worldwide ban on DDT has killed millions of people by giving them malaria’), and rather worryingly Oreskes waded in to defend the consensus against Lomborg and others. Do you know on which side science stands? Both sides accuse each other of flawed papers, cherry picking, etc. the usual list. The involvement of Oreskes should not bias our view if we are ‘special’ scientists, determination should only be via strict analysis of the (highly conflicted) data, but it probably will. There’s a good case to make that the negative impact of eugenics has so far exceeded any damage caused by CAGW, certainly in terms of direct deaths. And if you’d lived in times past I think those various hugely wrong medical science consensuses might have bothered you. What all these have in common is not ‘a few dodgy scientists’ as you allude to above, they are systemic failures and most supporting the consensuses were doing so in good faith. As you also intimate, many similar such failings have probably never made it to the public ear.

    Science is an anti-cultural enterprise, it disproves the myths upon which culturally enforced consensuses are based. Yet it’s a war that goes both ways. Scientists are human, and are not special at all regarding proof against the behavioural effects associated with cultural belief and in-group / out-group narratives. We know this because the science of humans and human societies tells us so, as noted above. There are very many theories and big bun fights about all the whys and wherefores (a comforting sign of a lack of enforced consensus!), but no-one I know of is saying that our reasoning machinery is *not* affected significantly by our emotive machinery, of which part of the latter is engaged by culture and indeed evolved to support cultures for in-group / out-group enforcement. So generally speaking over a confluence of various disciplines, science agrees that scientists are not special. You can’t conform to the scientific method if your hardware has been reconfigured without your knowledge; those afflicted to a greater or lesser extent by cultural influence are not lying about their findings, parts of their brain are lying to their conscious (noting per above various caveats such as liars are bolted onto any human enterprise that is large enough, etc), which they relay honestly.

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  131. A bit OT, perhaps, but fans of Rupert Read might like to know that this evening he’ll be doomwanking in front of a live audience at Churchill College, Cambridge. Theme: ‘This civilisation is finished: so what is to be done?’

    https://www.chu.cam.ac.uk/events/shed-light-rupert-read/

    His antics will be livestreamed here from 17.15:

    You can be sure that Read knows his stuff because ‘Recently [2015], his work was cited by the Supreme Court of the Philippines in their landmark decision [reversed in 2016] to ban the cultivation of GM aubergine.’

    It’ll probably just be an hour of him abusing the precautionary principle yet again but, who knows, perhaps he’ll take a break from that to juggle some organic eggplants.

    Like

  132. Brad:

    You also mentioned the enemy’s option to “morph its position a bit and rotate in another set of individuals.” Not an unreasonable prediction. Interestingly, though, they seem to be unable to do that here (in the CAGW wars).

    There hasn’t been the slightest need too! The folks you mention are still a major net benefit to cultural expansion, which is blind, it has no connection to the truth, working only via a selection of the most penetrating memes. This same blindness would cause any individuals to fall in favour of others, should their stories be significantly net negative. Per above if you ‘took out’ particular individuals via 135 punishing rounds, this could indeed trigger such a demise. Yet even McIntyre’s efforts have failed to manage this. What is true does not matter to a culture, only those narratives and sub-narratives (with associated propagators) that keep the acquisition of adherents rolling in. You proposition that particular folks be thrown under the bus is based on logic, but cultures don’t run on logic.

    ‘enemy’ is an entirely inappropriate phrase. Highly emotive and polarising, so as it spreads in the wild, just as likely to end up labelling the wrong people as the right ones. And the social phenomenon of CAGW probably boasts hundreds of millions of adherents now, the vast majority of whom are acting in good faith (with ‘faith’ being particularly relevant); these folks are not enemies.

    “Or Oreskes. No, never Oreskes.”

    hmmm… I think you may be rather obsessed with this person.

    ” I’ll have to paste a comment I wrote to Kristi Silber…”

    It seems a reasonable comment, if rather rudely presented, which will significantly detract from its purpose. Why do you keep presenting me with things like this or the ‘Holy Grail’ thing above as though you think they are somehow inconsistent with my position? In the Holy Grail case an absolute core of my position is that there absolutely cannot be any incontrovertible evidence of the catastrophic that they could present to you, because it is only a fairy story. I’m flummoxed as to why you haven’t got this from the beginning. You even asked *why* this was (as in why ‘are all strong cultural consensuses wrong’), yet then appeared to forget that it ‘was’ at all. Re the Silber comment, I was aware of the dynamics that it addresses and other similar attempts (usually more polite) to point them out, about 10 years ago (started looking at the climate domain about 11.5 years ago). Very many such messages aimed at the the most swervable individuals might, should, make a difference. We can hope the effects build some cumulative guilt. Yet the very fact that the phenomena of CAGW has rolled on from strength to strength despite such appeals, is completely consistent with everything I’ve attempted to relate to you above.

    Like

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