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?

197 thoughts on “The Victims of Climate Alarmism

  1. Andy,

    ” 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.”

    The word “incontrovertible” was never part of the deal, Andy.

    Illegitimate Insertion! Help, Bristol constabulary! That man just attempted nonconsensual seepage!

    “I’m flummoxed as to why you haven’t got this from the beginning.”

    Because you, or someone easily confused with you, didn’t seem to believe me when I said there was ZERO scientific evidence for CAGW.

    A measly scintilla of evidence for it would, at this point, be tantamount to discovering that miraculous goblet which once held the wine Longinus spilled at Golgotha.

    As we both know, incontrovertible evidence (if by this you mean something like ‘proof’) would be… the Holy Hand Grenade? The Holy H-Bomb?

    We may never fully persuade each other (to the small extent that we disagree to begin with)—that might prove impossible—but there is no good reason why we should be flummoxing each other.

    So any time I do so (or have done so) unto you, please let me know. Preferably in bite-sized paragraphs, since I can’t read long slabs of text even when they’re NOT set in italics *cough* *Geoff* *cough*



  2. Andy,

    Believe it or not, the snarkiness of my comment to Kristi Silber made it more effective, I think at any rate, since its purpose was 99% cathartic—after all, no matter how I’d phrased it, surely it’d have Buckley’s chance of actually eliciting a change of mind in anyone involved.

    (Could you have written it in such a way as to persuade Kristi of anything? I don’t see how I could have.)


  3. “Illegitimate Insertion!”

    And ‘Holy Grail’ evidence isn’t a metaphor for incontrovertible? Well okay, accepted, but even if it’s only a metaphor for amazing evidence, the point still stands. Even if it’s a metaphor for ‘very good’ evidence, the point still stands. Even if it’s a metaphor for ‘some significant’ evidence, the point still stands. By the time you are down to ‘a measly scintilla’, then likely in any complex domain such is going to be challengable in multiple ways anyhow, merely much better fodder for cultural positions; but for sure I don’t think ‘Holy Grail’ is usually equated with measly.

    “Because you, or someone easily confused with you, didn’t seem to believe me when I said there was ZERO scientific evidence for CAGW.”

    I have definitely and very clearly said all along, that the narrative of catastrophe must be wrong because it is cultural. Given that the acronym ‘CAGW’ includes the catastrophic, my clear position on same covers it. What evidence that comes out of mainstream science has nothing to do with a high certainty of global catastrophe (absent emissions reduction), as I have remarked more than once above already regarding AR5, which by no means supports this, let alone any skeptical science. This does not mean that there aren’t a few scientists at the opposite fringe to skeptics who propagate catastrophe narrative, and claim proper scientific backing, Hansen among others. You must take up theoretical details up with them, but such nevertheless does not change my own position above, which is that it cannot be true because the catastrophe narrative is cultural. So if you are confusing me (yet again) with someone else, please stop doing that, it is unreasonable.


  4. Andy,

    on throwing the bad eggs under the bus, you say

    “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.”

    I agree entirely. But press the individuals. Get an opponent one-on-one in a blog thread. (Here I don’t use the word “enemy”, you’ll be glad to see, because our “enemies” are a small subset of The Other Side, a subset among which I rarely have reason to place the Kristis of the world.)

    Notice their discomfort when you make them defend Gleick, Mann, Jones, etc. Granted, I’m mind reading here, but don’t you get the clear impression (as I do) that they’d love to cut these Indefensibles loose, if only The Cause allowed it? Surely no individual could *enjoy* the contortions they have to execute in order to avoid admitting Gleick/Mann/Lew/Jones are too dishonest to be scientists?

    To reiterate, while I think it’s naive to deny we have enemies, I certainly don’t regard the average believer as my enemy, and I don’t even think the average blog apologist for CAGWism (for all their frequent disingenuity) is an enemy. Even “adversary” seems too strong a word, perhaps because I was brought up to use it as one of the titles of Satan.

    I always try to be careful to distinguish “opponent” (or plain “believer”) from “enemy.”

    In the case in point, though, I thought “enemy” was apt because I thought you were talking about a top-down strategy of rotating the opposite team’s lineup (if that’s how the sporting metaphor works). And if it comes from the top, it comes from penthouses invariably leased out to bona fide, mala fide enemies like Gore and Ilk—people who (in contrast to the footsoldiers who carry out their strategies) really ought to know better. People with mens rea.

    PS Some of my best friends are opponents, FWIW. Some of my best parents are believers!

    (Yes, I know that these days that’s not considered an alibi when accused of the emotion of hate. But of course it’s a perfectly cogent one. Eichmann didn’t have any Jews as his best friends, did he? Torquemada wasn’t best friends with any conversos or other heretics, was he? You can’t reasonably be suspected of hating a class of people if some of your best friends instantiate that class, can you?)


  5. re Kristi, I can make no comment on particular persons re how it may be received. However speaking generically, snark is always very unhelpul indeed, being merely another in-group / out-group flag that tells the person’s subconscious that you are ‘the enemy’, hence not worth reading anyhow, before her conscious has even started digesting any meaning there might be in the text, which digestion will thus be enormously biased even if it occurs at all. Notwithstanding which, unconvincing the culturally convinced, is indeed tremendously difficult even if your message was much more optimised.


  6. ‘But press the individuals. Get an opponent one-on-one in a blog thread. ‘

    I have never recommended against this. In fact above, I recommend for it. And indeed pressing on the weak points of cognitive dissonance can sometimes be productive (albeit sometimes it also causes a doubling-down). I only point out that the cultural explanation tells us this will be extremely slow and very limited in impact, as indeed the last decade and more has demonstrated.

    “I always try to be careful to distinguish “opponent” (or plain “believer”) from “enemy.” ”

    Good, but the problem is that if you use ‘enemy’ for anyone at all, it will soon escape your control, and folks will say you are using it inappropriately even if this is not the case. Such is always the case in narrative conflicts, and why one must opt to be conservative. Plus, the term has a tendency to cast a world of greys into black and white, such that, after a while, we may become blind to those important shades.

    “I thought “enemy” was apt because I thought you were talking about a top-down strategy of rotating the opposite team’s lineup”

    No. Once again we are mis-communicating. Culture can indeed achieve this, but it is neither top-down nor conscious. It is a completely blind process, bottom up via meme selection, and neither sentient nor even agential, yet the way it evolves often looks similar to a thought strategy. Hence whatever we think logically, the ‘players’ who are still on the team are indeed those who are producing the maximum benefits for the culture (or at least were until very recently, there is some time lag in the process). It is the same as how polymorphic width in a species is drawn upon to adapt to new challenges in the environment, promoting or demoting specific genes or gene combos, and for sure we don’t think there are team coaches making such choices.

    “You can’t reasonably be suspected of hating a class of people if some of your best friends instantiate that class, can you?”

    Welcome to the world of cultural clashes, where religions and nationalist fervour frequently tears families apart or rips into the prior consensuses of older cultures to cause new divisions. I don’t know about Eichman et al, but there are frequent cases of cultural bigots in some big movement letting off their brother or mother-in-law or whatever, all very secret of course and never to the point of allowing them to prosper, merely to escape or survive beneath the radar in much reduced circumstances or whatever. Probably justified internally by some kind of special pleading, there are studies on same, I believe.


  7. Andy,

    It’s not clear to me why your agreeing with me (that there is ZERO scientific evidence for CAGW) followed self-explanatorily from your view that CAGW is necessarily false due to cultural considerations. I thought you believed it was obviously (to you) fantastical, yet put it in the same category as past scientific blunders that seemed to have at least SOMETHING going for them evidence-wise.

    I’m glad to know you do agree, in any case.

    I’m not going to waste your time telling you about the comment that made me think you didn’t, because it’s irrelevant now.

    I apologize that my imagery (‘Holy Grail’) had non-measly, indeed silver-bullet-like, connotations, when all I meant was to (mordantly? ironically?) call attention to the sheer evidentiary bankruptcy of their case. To a starving man who’s spent 30 years looking for a crust of bread, even a CRUMB of bread would be a miracle, woudn’t it?

    In any case, why hasn’t the man starved to death by now? As far as I can see (and i hope you can make allowances for my paragraph-blindness), the other examples of science-ish mass delusion you’ve cited seem to be different from CAGW in one important way: in every case, there was SOME scientific excuse for believing in the false idea, whether or not it was a particularly good excuse, wasn’t there? Isn’t it fair to consider CAGW the first science-ish fairy tale to survive on nothing—literally nothing—but the smell of an oily rag for decades on end?

    (Not a rhetorical question—I know I might be wrong about this, so go ahead and say so 🙂 )


  8. “…as past scientific blunders that seemed to have at least SOMETHING going for them evidence-wise…’

    Some or none is irrelevant if a culture takes over. What it usually means is that even in perfectly good faith (i.e. before the culture took over), there certainly appeared to be some at one point in time, which in the normal order of things would eventually have been disproved later as science ground forward. But because a culture did take over, it became fossilised as a useful part of its unchallengable consensus. That consensus is still cultural and still wrong, and the process via which it takes over is identical, this is just a nuance in its starting conditions, albeit it is a common complication for folks who would like to know which side is right before they get old, and have little hope of doing so. Plus cultures are adept at re-framing correct things such that they appear to support the cultural case; the labyrinthine ways of culture are a big challenge to our understanding. (For instance a very simple example: we both agreed above that AGW might well be just fine, and in my wholly unsupported opinion is fine to some unknown strength, so will be used as a first credibility step in a cultural persuasion on CAGW). There are few cases where one can be definitive based on social data alone (you cannot use physical data on the actual domain issue – you don’t know what is right!) The social phenomenon of CAGW is one because it is so big and has such a high social profile, plus a lot of its action is recorded on the internet. But for somewhat different reasons, we can be definitive about creationism too, so even if we were a robot from Mars that knew nothing about evolutionary theory at all, if we knew how to make the cultural test we would still know that creationism is wrong. This is a useful validating benchmark.

    “To a starving man who’s spent 30 years looking for a crust of bread, even a CRUMB of bread would be a miracle, woudn’t it?”

    Indeed I think you are resorting to a crumb 😉

    “in every case, there was SOME scientific excuse for believing in the false idea, whether or not it was a particularly good excuse, wasn’t there?”

    To start with, see above. Also, for the older ones we didn’t live in the times. For the newer ones the domains are too closed to us (or at least in my case, I presume for you too), and would remain opaque without years of insertion, and even then the available social and domain data is never going to match the case for the social juggernought of CAGW. So we are not in a good position to make any judgement on the relative credulity factor for each conflict / consensus. But there are some insights available from history and social studies, plus I have an anecdotal gem from an ex-teacher who I think I mentioned above, who opined that (in similar mode to yourself) one would have to be crazy to believe in the static continents theory, which nevertheless ruled for 50 years and across his own training; he had to bow to it or get no qualification. From all such hints I don’t think CAGW is really any different, and certainly not regarding the underlying causes. Cultures are strong enough to make essentially everyone (in only recent history) believe in nonsensical fairy-tales of various kinds so deeply and passionately, that they go around skewering each other or burning each other at the stake for only minor differences of orthodox interpretation (endemic when a culture splits in two); they’re still doing it now. Regarding such persuasive power, the uncertainty that by definition accompanies the many leading edges of science, is easily enough to act as a host for a cultural start-ups if the topic is one of high social impact. And for nascent science if something (catastrophe, miasma, whatever) can’t be definitively *disproved*, then that’s plenty enough ground to cite ‘evidence for’ if such is framed in the right way, which then folks like us can’t ever unravel in the vast majority of cases. Obviously no case is identical, but I think it’s special pleading to say this one is different, and in any case diverts us from what really matters, the common causes of them all, which happen also to be the common causes of all the non-scientific ones too.


  9. If cultural constraints are so all encompassing I wonder how the scientific method ever
    developed or a justice system which judges crimes on the basis of human responsibility.
    Oh and critical argument as above with it’s assumptions that the other side may change
    views on the basis of logical discussion, why do it?


  10. P.S. Brad:

    “I’m not going to waste your time telling you about the comment that made me think you didn’t, because it’s irrelevant now.”

    Had a bad cough for days and it’s this screen or the TV in bed. I’m happy to uncover the reasoning, which I guess because it is not simple might have caused you somewhere up-thread to detect a whiff of the complexity beneath, and baulk. And I know you like things to be black and white, but there are caveats to everything in this game. The cultural thing tells us that the narrative is outright false, and also that this narrative existed long before AR5, within which there are mentions of abrupt climate change *possibilities* (e.g. regional methane clathrates induced), yet nevertheless *not* support for a high confidence of global catastrophe (which is what the narrative claims). I normally don’t like to incorporate any science output into my positions, because the cultural result is both clear and unbiased (there is no domain data in it, only social data), whereas weighting an answer from the science output can introduce some domain bias. However, I’m comfortable that adding this *mainstream* AR5 result (i.e. not a fringe result from either side) to the cultural result, is equivalence to ‘zero evidence’, though the cultural result alone cannot speak to this directly. Plus, output from the small minority of non-mainstream scientists at the opposite fringe to skeptics (they are generally very vocal about their approaches) looks currently to be a clear case of sexing up later possibilities to try and match their original cultural narrative, so just due to rampant bias. Yet this whole situation may not remain the case for AR6 and associated messaging which both may become more sophisticated regarding these possibilities, say, which at some point via mainstream effort / approval might well make it onto your measly scale. This wouldn’t change the fact that the catastrophe claim is cultural, so it is still (i.e. in terms of claimed high confidence) completely wrong, and indeed still pre-dated the science that is supposed to support it. Yet while the IPCC AR6 position is likely to be mildly incremental at most, there is an outside chance that abrupt change possibilities and potential cascade possibilities may be addressed further for AR6; and there do seem to be more scientists lately complaining of extreme IPCC conservatism on these fronts, so they may try to move the needle, indeed may also be biased enough to sex that stuff up more. Of course it makes no difference to the big picture, but measly is not zero, and that could happen. It’s also the case of course that any future sexing up may be challengable with relative ease or could be very difficult to challenge, and of course some *could* be true, but either way certainly only via intricate domain knowledge, so this becomes one more part of the conflict, and a part I do not have expertise for so the backstop for me is then the cultural result only. Or in short the science could go more fuzzy, it may stump up apparent non-zero evidence, whether due to bias or real work, the social data won’t be able to say, although either way the cultural narrative it purports to support will still be flat wrong. So for sure I wouldn’t maintain the zero claim once AR6 is out, unless and until it has been thoroughly dissected by folks of all views and shown not to have moved from AR5 in this respect (indeed I waited to see a range of AR5 opinion in the past), and this is also why I always point to AR5 as well as the cultural result if folks want the comfort factor that mainstream science says it’s bunkum too. For me personally though, knowing that the narrative of catastrophe is cultural, is enough; everything that happens in the domain is explainable from this single fact, and the physical science details are moot because it is not the science that rules the roost.


  11. Beth:

    “If cultural constraints are so all encompassing…”

    They are not all encompassing, and I’ve not said so in this thread or anywhere else. Cultural behaviours certainly loom very large in our lives, and much more more so in the deeper past, yet science and the law and to a smaller extent political systems like democracy, are anti-cultural engines. Science being the strongest, the law less so because it is founded at the deepest level on moral principles and morals are to a large extent cultural values. A huge amount of science happens fine without the notice of major culture, beneath the radar so to speak, because it is not perceived to have social impact. So you’ve only got some minor scale group-think to avoid, a perennial annoyance but by no means majorly damaging overall. Other topics are high profile, conflicted, like climate change, GMOs, and others. And critical argument works fine where strong cultural biases are not in play. The interesting thing here is that we all have different biases related to the several cultural affinities we possess, hence someone may be really biased about subjects that challenge their religion, but not at all biased on climate change, or vice versa, ditto regarding other conflicted topics. So there are always people who are not particularly biased on any given topic, and critical discussion can hence typically progress despite the presence of some (differently) biased folks in the room (though no-one has literally zero bias in all domains). But yes its often a war too, and polarization is common at times, like in the US now. And while science erodes cultures, they can fight back so to speak (they are not alive of course), and seriously influence or outright hi-jack science. So culture looms large, but by no means is everything a slave to cultural behaviour, most folks hardly even think of it most of the time I guess, even though it guides *some* of what they do and think is important. However having said all that about our times, which you may or may not have wanted to hear, regarding how all these anti-cultural things developed, the current opinion is I believe still that the Ancient Greeks were the main folks kicking them all off. This is because they observed from all their different islands and other places they sailed to, that ‘truths’ were relative to place, each place had it’s own creation story and way of living, how it was ‘right’ to behave etc. The critical leap for them is therefore realising that these apparently invariant systems are not absolute after all, they are relative. So they started to develop critical reasoning and formal skepticism, to try and weigh all these different systems they encountered, and classify them, and hopefully find beneath them more universal truths that they could live by. This made more objective and sophisticated simple law codes that already existed, plus birthed formal science as an investigation tool for universal truths.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. P.S. and this also lead to the first political classifications, democracy, tyranny, oligarchy, aristocracy, probably more I can’t remember.


  13. Andywest,

    So nice, the Greek revolution, observng ‘that ‘truths’ were relative
    to place’ … and a journey from there to seek truth in nature instead.

    I read Kahneman re system 1,we’re prone to think fast and loath re system 2,
    to think slow-it’s not easy, but disagree with his ‘ we’re ‘machines; for jumping
    to conclusions.Fight or flight response made evolutionary sense but in other
    problem situations where there’s a will to investigate the facts we sometimes
    rise to it.

    Maybe its my serf Scottish Protestant background telling me that as scientists
    have been trained in scientific method, so they know what they do if they perform
    nature tricks, cherry pick data, destroy archive records that reveal their workings,
    or open windows on hot days and turn down the air conditioning while arguing their
    case for global warming. Games people wittingly play.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Andy, miscellaneous question:

    are cultures things that people are members of? If so:

    Can you be a member of multiple cultures?

    I ask this because I’m thinking of the twelve-angry-men (or lack thereof) problem, in which juries reach unanimity much more often than you’d expect if you (naively) thought the 12 people were voting independently.

    Specifically, when you enter the deliberation room with 11 strangers, do you all become part of a new micro-culture consisting of twelve people?

    If you’ve ever been the odd (or angry) one out on a jury, you’ll know the immense psychological pressure to conform NOT with whatever your usual peers or circle of friends would say/do, but with what the 11 people in the room are saying/doing.


  15. Beth,

    are you inclined to agree with me that even if academics in all fields are prone to self-deceive and deceive each other and reach conclusions determined by their partisan politics rather than the domain they’re actually studying, it’s fundamentally worse when SCIENTISTS do this, since they are trained only to consider evidence, and must betray their training (wittingly) in order to be as dishonest as other academics?


  16. Andy,

    re “enemy,” I don’t have whatever cognitive talents it takes to know when to pre-emptively Nerf my own language as a safeguard against other people’s misappropriation or (deliberate) misunderstanding or misquoting of what I say. But I’ve never envied this ability since I’m also suspicious of the logic behind any attempt to do this, because it seems to me that one is thereby making one’s own freedom of speech a hostage to (rank guesses about) the ill intentions of others.

    My philosophy is: call an enemy an enemy and a spade a spade and if someone distorts my meaning, I’ll cross with that bridge when I come to it.

    Since there ARE a handful of dictionary-definition anti-scientists in this debate, and since anti-scientific activity is a crime against humanity (science being our species’ most priceless jewel), that means there will be times when I don’t see any alternative but to call someone an inimicus humani generis, and a fortiori MY enemy.

    Who do you regard as the worst human being in the CAGW controversy, and what status do you grant him or here? Mere opponent?

    Opponents, to me, are people who help us by honing our skills. I like my opponents, mostly. I don’t like my enemies.


  17. Yes, Brad, I am so inclined. )

    And how else does the word ‘honest’ have correspondence to human activity where no
    line may be drawn in the sand, where no such human state is possible? Who might invent
    such a word? … Beware the post-modernist cop-out, I say, that we are unable to extend
    beyond Greek Revolution stage 1, recognizing that different cultures see the world via
    their distinct cultural biases.


  18. Andy. I very much suspect the explanation you adopt for explaining why the Greeks developed your anti-cultures (that they travelled to different islands and experienced beliefs different from their own) is incorrect. If it were true, why not the Carthoginians? Or the Polynesians? Or even the Vikings?

    On another point, I find it strange that the “greek culture” most most people value and debate why and how it developed almost uniquely there, you consider under the heading “anti-culture”. I can tell you my head spins as I diligently strive to extract your meaning from posts.


  19. Beth:

    “…turn down the air conditioning while arguing their case for global warming.”

    I would never argue that such an act is subconscious in itself, of course. But highly likely subconsciously driven, nevertheless, i.e. noble cause corruption.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Andy,

    Beth’s retelling is approximate. Wirth and Hansen sabotaged the air con (as The History of the Debate records, they “broke in to the Senate hearing room and set the air conditioning to the right balance of honesty vs effectiveness.”) on the eve of the latter’s historic testimony so that when the big day came, it didn’t work at all.

    Obviously not a subconscious act, we’re agreed, but I’m not sure what “subconsciously driven” means either. Can you elaborate?

    Noble cause corruption is letting them off too lightly.

    As a supposed scientist, Hansen must have known that there is no such thing as deceiving people for the sake of science, since, when you go down that road, the means contradict everything the end stands for. The idea of tricking people into accepting the truth may make sense in other domains (indeed Picasso said that was the whole point of art), but in science it’s incoherent. Oxymoronic. Indefensible.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Brad:

    “are cultures things that people are members of?”

    Yes. Their main reason for existence is to create the in-group definition (so of course who is out-group too).

    “Can you be a member of multiple cultures?”

    Absolutely. So a religious, xyz party, believer in catastrophic climate change, is a member of at least three, and will likely have some kind of national / regional identity culture too and maybe others. A difficulty comes if the values of some of these cultures clash, so more normally of course folks are led into cultures that have broadly compatible values. If there’s enough dual membership and exchange between 2 cultures, they can be said to be in alliance, as CAGW is with Dem / Libs in the US, which hence pulls in the opposing culture, Rep / Cons, in on the other side. So most folks in the US public don’t believe or oppose the narrative of climate catastrophe because they’ve looked into the science and either accepted it or rejected it on the basis of some reasoned assessment. They believe or oppose based simply on their political affiliation, i.e. (a big portion of) their identity. As noted up-thread, even if they do go off looking at domain information, their search and trust in sources will on average be tremendously biased from the get-go if they’re already emotively persuaded via their cultural affiliations.

    “Specifically, when you enter the deliberation room with 11 strangers, do you all become part of a new micro-culture consisting of twelve people?”

    I don’t know enough to answer this question with much more than vague (plus anecdotal – I have served on juries a couple of times) knowledge. But I think it can happen, and I also had some corporate training from experts warning of group-think that can so easily spring up in a bunch of people even when thrown together (so techniques to avoid it like red / blue team etc.) If the people are all diverse I assume it’s less likely because their cultural values will be all over the map and so less likely to align well. But yes we endemically cycle through the usual rituals of establishing group identity (or not), and to some extent in the specific case of a jury this is in part what one needs to happen to even get the 12 to come to a conclusion. Because although we have acultural help from the evidence and via the judge’s objective recommendations etc. (and some cases are pretty simple lets face it) these folks know jack shit about the law and in reality are simply finding the least worst common comfort spot that best comports with all their cultural values. The default human means, the hugely ingrained means, of finding a consensus, is culture, so there has to be some cultural negotiation to get a result. So if you were the odd man out, for sure this may explain heavy psychological pressure.


  22. That we ‘re prone to subconscious drives, Jung and Freud have so exposed,
    but nevertheless, in a court of law, assessing the act of climbing through a
    window at night with malfeasant intent, is deemed a conscious criminal act,
    (heck, even a simple serf might deem it thus. ).


  23. Brad:

    The question of allocation of blame for stepping over legal, moral, corporate, and science, rule books due to strong cultural influence, is highly fraught to say the least, because the whole topic is fiendishly complicated. Part of the complication comes from the fact that we don’t fully know what’s happening in the brain, yet we do know it is deeply architected and appears to be involuntary. Another part is that the cultural rise that caused the individual to act the way they did, is usually busy pushing legal and moral and corporate code in its own favour and so the ground the offender stepped upon is often therefore shifting anyhow, or artificially bulged, e.g. a court system and the judges may have excess sympathy not really due according to the letter of the law, because they too are influenced by the rising culture. Science is different in that culture can’t really change its rules, yet because of the uncertainties in all nascent science (not to mention usually great complexity and required enterprise level co-ordination), and because culture reprograms the brain h/w scientists’ are actually using to execute their work, there is still ample scope for ‘offending’ the ideal of science in all sorts of ways, big and small. Yet most science ‘offences’ are not viewed as serious by society anyhow, and those climate scientists stepping up a grade to break the law are tiny in number (Hansen for obstruction in rallies, Gleick for wire-tap, although I’m not sure he’s even a climate scientist as such). In the end, the great majority of them are working in good faith and believe that they are doing a good job even where they are strongly influenced by the narrative of catastrophe (perhaps especially so). It is difficult to allocate blame to such folks, they are just being human, even the ones who preach the catastrophe gospel, like say Hayhoe or Marvel (we rightly don’t sanction catholic priests just for being priests, despite their narratives are nonsense). However a larger minority (albeit still small), are those driven by noble cause to bend or break the science rules even if not the law, be it on say hiding data (that they fear the ‘deniers’ will ‘misuse’), helping keep the ‘deniers’ out of the journals, or whatever other transgression. And they aren’t lying about whey think ‘deniers’ represent. I think we should apply the maximum sanction and public proclamation of sanction that is possible to such folks, yet as you noted cultural armies protect them, they even protected Gleick, whose actual legal offence became almost a badge of honour and no hinderance to his career after a modest pause for the sake of appearances. Scattered across these cases are those of many folks placed in intolerable conditions (a bit like your jury experience but all the time – the real case of the good Germans is very highly informative in this respect), and a few who would likely behave badly anyhow whatever trade they’re in and whatever culture they belong to, and some who are just tempted by greed (not cultural) for money or positional reward and take advantage of cultural cover (which hence is not due to cultural influence, it is still just greed). The whole thing is so big now we can expect every possible scenario to turn up.

    In general society penalises the crossing of ‘big’ lines even if it is due to the particular self-deception invoked by cultural influence (think of it as partial hypnosis, there is little chance the individual could truly recognise their deep reconfiguration or defeat it), for instance the euthanizing of the disabled in Germany by medics (who egged each other on to do this as a team for the cultural good, they were not ordered top down to do it). However, even then I point out that had Germany won, they would not have faced sanction. Sanction is culturally relative. Society typically does not penalise the crossing of ‘small’ lines that is due to the particular self-deception invoked by cultural influence, even where the culture that caused it fails to become dominant or alter the rules in its favour. This is a recognition that the ‘semi-hypnotised’ state of the offender was the major factor, and in the end there wasn’t a clash between this and any of the ‘big’ lines. There’s a lot of grey ground in there though, and if the culture does become a biggy, the chief problem is not what sanction ought to be applied, but rather that bias within the law / corporate system / moral adjudication, will mitigate or skip the sanction anyhow. So… I for one am not going to come out with any judgement about scientists in general – look at each individual case objectively on its details – but for the fickle finger of fate we ourselves might be under such a judgemental gaze. No-one on Earth has a magic protection against falling to cultural bias, perhaps falling far, and this includes scientists.


  24. Beth:

    “climbing through a window at night with malfeasant intent, is deemed a conscious criminal act”

    Absolutely. Which is why I said ‘and some cases are pretty simple lets face it’, so likely all 12 will very swiftly agree. But many cases are not so simple, and may have heavy cultural consequences, which is why the fight to get control of the supreme court in the US was so bitter, they are ultimately a cultural arbiter as well as a legal one. Even below supreme court level, a challenge say to subsidies to wind energy that opponents think cross the line of financial legality while supporters think not, plus the latter are in the midst of changing those rules anyhow, has a large cultural component which may well end up deciding the case above the letter of the law (even if that is clear enough regarding complex detail).

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Brad:

    “…because it seems to me that one is thereby making one’s own freedom of speech a hostage to (rank guesses about) the ill intentions of others”

    All life is a balance. We neither want to antagonise or become hostage, obviously. For sure there’s no reason not to use our intelligence to optimise that balance, but it isn’t just intelligence either, and maybe your balance is simply in a different place to mine.

    “Who do you regard as the worst human being in the CAGW controversy, and what status do you grant him or here? Mere opponent?”

    I regard the CAGW phenomenon as a process, hence maybe all of its believing participants as something like lobsters, to inappropriately steal from Mr Peterson, in respect of their part in that process. Yet everyone is human too, and should it be necessary to come down to individual considerations (for sure this will big-time be the case for those who have set themselves a kind of operational oppositional role, which is not me), then I would view them as I would view any human, including the good bad ugly and whatever else that individuals expresses, at least to such extent as I have info, with their proclivity to lobsterness in mind also, to see whether that is or isn’t sufficient explanation for what they do. Hansen chains himself to railings to protest his cause, well so did suffragettes; whether he will be a bronze statue in 100 years or an unfortunate wiki entry in ‘what goes wrong with science’ depends on whether CAGW culture is still riding high then. I know zip about him as a person. But if people have behaved badly, e.g. obvious bad faith in debate (not just bias), fraudulent science, whatever, then this is still bad; you can be a believer without doing these things. I’m not sure why I would need ‘opponents’, but I guess it’s okay in the right context. I think ‘enemy’ causes more harm than good, it’s an out-group label so becomes part of the problem. If a person is acting bad it’s because they are acting bad, not because they are an ‘enemy’.


  26. Brad:

    “Obviously not a subconscious act, we’re agreed, but I’m not sure what “subconsciously driven” means either. Can you elaborate? Noble cause corruption is letting them off too lightly.”

    I literally do mean noble cause corruption, which can explain far worse acts than this. I’m familiar with the story and I believe Wirth told it as being his own idea (though much later, he’s even denied that it ever happened and said the whole story was just a joke). Hansen was not doing fraudulent science here or something, he was (even if eagerly, I don’t know) merely following the lead of a politician who might get him more attention, via some play-acting which for all anyone knows might be quite common (there certainly seems to be an awful lot of silly play-acting in the UK parliament). So do I think this is right? Absolutely not! Do I think Hansen’s normal judgement was disabled by a belief in catastrophe narrative and that he was a messiah? Yes. But heck our movies are full of the good guys using cheat props to get authority to save the world, we laud this constantly. And there are certainly cases in real life where cheat-prop heroes (or heroines) have come out on top and saved something or other, which we also laud; the downside being they tend to be skewered if the cause is lost. So do I think Hansen sold his scientific soul to the devil on this one (in the context of the norm of our societies’ judgements for similar), well no.


  27. Alan:

    ‘I very much suspect the explanation you adopt…’

    Well indeed it’s not my explanation, neither am I versed in this area. But I have come across this in some histories of science and philosophy, and as I said to Beth I think that it is still current opinion (notwithstanding simple summaries usually hide much more beneath). To verify yes or no on that, you have the internet. So while it’s still my working model unless something else comes along, this is very short of ‘adoption’ because I’m not invested in the area at all, one word by one expert could knock it over for me, so fine. However, if you look at sequential maps of the emerging spheres of the ancients (I recommend the Penguin atlas of history series by McEvedy), it seems clear that the Greeks visited far more places than the Carthaginians, and also more places that were much more developed (thereby having more sophisticated and diverse cultures). Plus the Greeks were inherently more diverse to start with, due to their island dispersal and (researched) different cultures on various ones, whereas the Carthaginians (originally from Tyre) were much more culturally homogeneous (incidentally I visited an early Carthaginian site in Sicily two years ago). A great deal of the Polynesian expansion (it came in phases, and the original population probably out of Taiwan), reached places with no existing population or very undeveloped populations, so much less cultural diversity / grist for the mill. It also started when they themselves we not too developed, stone age, hence less precursors. It also took an inordinately long time, so the contrasts of different contacts would mostly miss on a temporal scale, nor did culture flow backwards so much or between all the founded satellites (distances too large). It was more like an outward wave. Very unlikely candidate by comparison. The Viking expansion was well over 1000 years after the Greeks, from where (by virtue of a nearby Roman border for centuries) some of the concepts had already spread, and the western / southern expansion was into lands much more soaked in these Greek concepts by one route or another anyhow (even part of the eastern expansion when you get near the Black sea). So while there may be great evidence from somewhere to tear the story down (go for it!) I think you’re doomed regarding your challenge so far.

    “I find it strange that the “greek culture” most most people value and debate why and how it developed almost uniquely there, you consider under the heading “anti-culture”. ”

    I consider some aspects of it ‘anti-culture’, i.e. the law, science especially. But as discussed in another thread at great length, the vernacular meaning of culture just includes everything about a particular society, in this case the Ancient Greeks, so obviously inclusive of the proto-science they developed. Seems to me your head is spinning less and it will I’m sure stop at some point with the realisation that words can mean different things in different contexts, even if the choices seem less than optimum (I didn’t make them!)

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Andy,

    thanks for contributing so much to this thread.

    Are you open to the idea of using more frequent paragraph breaks, or is your current algorithm for paragraphing an integral and valued part of your style (in which case it’s pointless for me to keep requesting)?

    I can’t think of a movie with a cheat-prop scenario, and if I saw one I can’t imagine myself approving of its use by characters of either hat color. Can you supply some examples? The closest that comes to mind is the white-walker-in-a-box gambit in season 7 of Game of Thrones, but there was nothing dishonest about that stunt.

    Movies (and HBO series) tend to be about people facing imminent existential threats, who might therefore have the excuse of urgency. Hansen and Wirth had no such mitigating circumstance. I tried to satirize such rationalizations in my History:

    “….next morning, Hansen urged sweaty lawmakers to do something about the 170-year-old problem of global warming, calling any delay ‘criminal.'”

    Perhaps Sen. Inhofe should have dialed down the thermostat without anyone’s knowledge instead of bringing a snowball to a PR fight. I’m sure that would have been forgiven by our opponents as a clever rhetorical technique undeserving of a cyclical schedule of outrage 🙂


  29. Andy and Beth,

    “climbing through a window at night with malfeasant intent, is deemed a conscious criminal act”

    Yeah but he thought he was literally saving the world by biohacking the Senate so they’d subliminally find Hansen’s claims more plausible.

    More like feasant intent if you ask me. Mens surrea.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Andy,

    ‘Science is different in that…’

    Welcome to reality. No, you’re not late—I only got here five, ten minutes before you.



  31. Andy,

    “there are frequent cases of cultural bigots in some big movement letting off their brother or mother-in-law or whatever, all very secret of course and never to the point of allowing them to prosper, merely to escape or survive beneath the radar in much reduced circumstances or whatever”

    You don’t get to choose your “brother or mother-in-law or whatever”, and if you could, you’d presumably avoid choosing members of any class you plan to exterminate.

    By contrast, your friends—whom you DID choose, except insofar as you simply inherited them from a younger version of yourself—CAN tell us something about the classes of people you DON’T detest.

    Which is why “some of my best friends are….” is actually a cogent point.

    Which is why the standard counterpoint is to jeer ‘n’ sneer.


  32. Brad:

    Golly, I don’t recall any of the names. But just in one genre you must recall the endless list of maverick police / investigators / agents that beat up a minor bad guy to get intel that leads to the boss, that burgled suspect premises without sufficient evidence to obtain a warrant because they ‘knew’ there was something incriminating in there, that dealt out street justice because they knew that the courts would give the ‘wrong’ answer, this and many similar stunts are all illegal! And this is from the supposed enforcers. As a side-branch of that genre (less bad yet more like the Wirth trick) where the hero / heroine are a lawyer / pathologist or other part of the legal system, breaking of court timing / procedure but in a dramatic and ‘right’ way that gets them the emotive clincher out of the judge / jury, breaking legal ethics to talk to witnesses for the other side or someone else they’re not supposed to, in a secluded spot somewhere, slowing their work to allow the ‘right’ line of investigation to catch up, even conniving to extend the freedom of the ‘wrong’ suspects so that they can help prove their own innocence, etc. These are sometimes illegal and sometimes just ethical transgressions, but would warrant firing if found out (and extra drama is generated in some series of course by them occasionally being found out, yet then miraculously reinstated on special pleading). This is all just in the crime genre, but it spreads out to other dramas. You surely have seen?? It’s not only a norm, it’s pretty much an aspiration. I presume this common meme is to feed our sense of frustration at the apparent clumsiness of due process, and comfort us that some folks who know the real ‘truth’ out there will fix it for us. But in the real world there is no such truth of that kind. Come to think of it few of the super-heroes work with the law too, some are basically just vigilantes. Even in Gotham city, where the police dept typically asks for help with the bat signal, making Batman an auxiliary officer, he breaks all the rules of evidence and practically everything else the state would normally have to conform to. In the real world, it is often necessary to break the law to make progress, like Rosa Parks on the bus, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, etc. ‘New’ culture hits the law and morals (and sometimes science), head on, but ‘new’ can be viewed by future history as good or bad. It is only the future history that can judge; as I noted above there’s a (vanishing small, thankfully) chance that there’ll be a bronze statue of Hansen one day, with his hand pulling the plug on an aircon unit – not because of climate catastrophe, but because the culture lasted long enough to claim victory. We like the inflexibility of the law when it impedes culture we don’t like (many didn’t like what Rosa Parks represented); we dislike it when it impedes the newer cultural values we aspire to. Indeed there are memes on film too saying how those who stuck to the letter of the law under tremendous psychological and moral pressure not to, somehow ended up saving the day too (don’t force me to come up with names!) Life is a balance, which we find somehwhere between those opposing meme sets. I think the lack of paragraphs is stream of consciousness, I could put them in afterwards but I’m too lazy.


  33. Brad:

    Regarding special pleading for either friends or mothers-in-law: this is when the cultural wave rises long after your choices, so such bigots who rise on the crest find themselves with embarrassing connections from way back when that they need to de-emphasise yet without applying full sanction to their once close mother-in-law or just good buddy. An issue even for ordinary folks in heavier cases. E.g the very swift rise of Serbian nationalism when the Balkans fell apart, which became very racial and religious-separatist very quickly, whereas for a very long period under Tito, race / religion had become only a minor friction in some areas and no issue at all in others. The wave in 1930s Germany was similarly swift, prompting much frantic shifting of social priorities for those with Jewish friends or family, yet special pleading under the counter too.


  34. Brad:

    ‘No, you’re not late—I only got here five, ten minutes before you.’

    Very unfortunately the ideal rules of science being static, is no protection whatsoever from all the cultural effects upon the enterprise of science and scientists as discussed up-thread. A bummer I know ):


  35. Andy,

    don’t be humble—you made it! You’ve arrived!

    You acknowledged that ‘science is different’ [in some specified way], which is what matters. 🙂

    Interestingly, one way science differs from other epistemologies (including forensic/legal ones) is that it’s nonsensical, IN SCIENCE, to say “I KNOW it, I’ve just got to find the EVIDENCE.”

    Cops on TV say this all the time. (No need to name the shows, I’ve seen them too.) Heck, *scientists* on TV have been known to say it.

    But that’s absurd because, IN SCIENCE, knowledge is the cart, evidence is the horse.

    So the scientific equivalent of planting evidence on the suspect you “know” is a baddie would NOT be a heroic or admirable act or even a debatable ethical grey zone. It would be wrong, by definition—it would make you a baddie.

    That’s because IN SCIENCE the aim isn’t to share truth, but to share knowledge, which is conditioned upon evidence.

    Consider why we damn Phil Jones for “hiding the decline.”

    Some opponents have told me, apparently sincerely, that they don’t see what the big deal was—after all, they say, the proxy signal was wrong after 1960, so why mislead the audience with incorrect data? Jones did the only honest thing: he replaced a segment he knew was false with a more accurate signal. And you deniers are crucifying him for his honesty!

    Consider why that reasoning, however well-meaning, is scientifically-illiterate. I think it illustrates a profound difference between how the Sokal sides see things—but although you’re on the sci-literate side, can you relate to the other side’s logic?


  36. Brad:

    But the difference is not one that provides you the afore-wished magic protection, not one that makes scientists special in any way, nor prevents any of the cultural impacts I noted above. It is one which provides the enterprise of science with stronger weaponry than the reasoning algorithms of the law in the efforts of both to constrain culture (which efforts have had great success in the sense of a very long-term grinding war, but with massive regional or global defeats over the generations too). I acknowledged this from the very start in the described precedence order of Science, The Law, and Political Systems regarding their strength in such battles, and why. Don’t get all excited that this means anything different to that description, it doesn’t! You can get all excited if you are viewing this as the source of strength of science, acknowledged all along; for sure this is its means to wrap chains around the cultural beasts, even as they rips out chunks of its innards.


  37. ‘although you’re on the sci-literate side, can you relate to the other side’s logic?’

    I think even the “other side” can often relate to the “other side’s” logic when an identical situation occurs in a different domain that doesn’t challenge their cultural values. But such close equivalence can very rarely be presented, and even if it is their bias rules out them ‘seeing it’ if the presenter is a BS denier, because everything they say is a lie anyhow. This is a danger of thinking about ‘sides’; the behaviour is much more correlated with domains than with persons.


  38. Andy

    I know. I’m just teasing you friendlily [?] for having objected to ‘science is special,’ only to later state that ‘science is different.’ 🙂

    But of course, the word ‘special’ differs from ‘different’ in special ways, even if the difference between ‘different’ and ‘special’ is largely specious, or something 🙂


  39. Andy,

    it’s Humanities graduates who write the shows in which the scientists say, “I KNOW it; now I’ve got 7 hours to PROVE it before President Freeman orders the air strike.”

    Science graduates (if they could write) would never write such scientifically-incoherent dialogue.

    The CAGW episode has furnished countless examples of unwittingly sci-illiterate reasoning by the Humanitarian commentariat.

    For instance, in the wake of Climategate, Jon Stewart admonished the dodgy scientists:

    “Come on, guys, what you’re trying to do is so important, the world desperately needs to be shown the truth, so don’t cut corners and undermine the very evidence you’re trying to present”

    or something like that.

    Which is epistemologically abortive. To make any sense at all, Stewart himself would have to know The Truth already, even though by his own admission The Scientists are still scrambling to find the evidence for it. In other words, he knows they’re headed towards The Truth, he just wishes they wouldn’t cheat in their haste to get there. This raises more questions than it answers (or than someone of Stewart’s intellect could ever answer).


  40. ‘This raises more questions than it answers’

    Yes, some of the responses to climategate were more revealing about bias than climategate, the only problem being that the biased can’t see the bias and few of the unbiased want to risk a ravage by their near and dear plus the hordes.


  41. Geoff

    Should we attempt to bond with Kate despite our periodically-incompatible valences? Hmm.

    I don’t know much about Ms Marvel but you accuse her of having an eclectic (if not attention-deficient) intellect, understandably restless within the moister cloisters of climate science.

    All of which makes her a sympathetic figure, to me at least. Who wouldn’t be bored by clouds?

    But then, in my own hyperactive skim-reading of the primary data, I spot the phrase “….to the right of Attila the Hun,” which suggests Ms Marvel’s superpower is shooting brain-dead cliché from her eyes.

    Ah, Attila, that notorious Tory. Who can forget the great Hun’s antipathy to progressive taxation, his pro-life convictions, his hard line on illegal immigration, his support for choice in schooling, instinctive distrust of trade unions, free-market fundamentalism, law-of-the-jungle welfare cuts, Bible-based moral conservatism and suspected enthralment to the gun lobby?

    Only one known phrase in the English language is more jejune: “….to the right of Genghis Khan.”

    To answer your question with a question: is it even possible?


  42. Pingback: Pielke and Lomborg accused of “fact mongering” | Climate Scepticism

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