I’d Bash That: Geek goddess Naomi Oreskes [pictured] may be the hottest date on the climate scene right now, but mental mediocrity is her number 1 turnoff. Only superuser-level nerds need apply, she told Playdork Australia.
Who can afford to wait in line for such a ripe pluck? Here’s your back door pass for unlimited ‘root access’ to the comesome Miss Oreskes… pun very much intended! Don’t beat off, beat the crowds:
bash: sudo -scientist & alt/historian/../naomi/bin/oreskes
The unwinnable “climate debate” has it all. Unimpeachable felons. Untouchable heroes. An unaffordable cure for an imperceptible disease. An unquenchable bonfire of irreplaceable wealth. Irreproducible “work” by unemployable jerks. The irredeemable Oreskes. The unflushable Lew.
And David Appell, the science journalist who’s as ineducable as he is ineradicable.
At Judith Curry’s blog he recently depressed the following keys—my emphasis:
And by that of course, I mean he hit ⌘C ⌘V.
Appell’s second sentence is textbook Hockey Stick Determinism (the so-called Mannifest Destiny doctrine): from first principles alone, given any big ball-shaped system, surface temperature anomaly must approach a hoccobacilliform trajectory over time as t approaches 2018 A.D.
I didn’t know anyone still said this. The meme is on the IUCN Red List, so it was an awesome privilege to see a specimen up close before they all go the way of recovered-memory theory and Lamarckianism.
I decided to leave it alone for a moment, so others could enjoy it too, and went after a garden-variety pest instead: the one that infests Appell’s first sentence.
“The hockey stick has been confirmed many times by now, using different mathematical techniques. ”
If only you knew how you sound to a scientifically-literate person!
The fact that they don’t just pick the right mathematical technique and stick to it has never set off the faintest alarm bells for you, has it?
You think it actually makes the results more convincing the more they chop and change their algorithms from paper to paper, don’t you?
To you, the fact that these people apparently have a whole smorgasbord of data-analytical techniques to select from makes for better science, doesn’t it?
What I was getting at, of course—but refused to repeat since It Has Been Explained To Him Several Times Already in our earlier encounters—was that the absence of standard practices for crunching observations is a recipe for vindication bias and reality evasion. To put it so einfach wie möglich: unless scientists agree on statistical tools in advance there’s nothing to stop a paleoclimatologist repeating the penultimate step of her study (raw measurements → analysed, illustrated data) with one tool after another, and choosing the one that gives the most politicogenic graph.
And when I say “there’s nothing to stop her,” I mean nothing but her [don’t laugh] integrity.
Now that Appell’s stupid beliefs lay in mercurial giblets like a zombiesected T-1000, I added a few stanzas of personal abuse for my own entertainment.
The possibility that you’re oblivious to your own incompetence on scientific topics isn’t one you’ve wasted much time considering, is it?
You’re never going to figure out why a scientist might find your quote [above] so amusing, are you?
Doing things in this order illustrates one of the key habits of effective debaters: kick the ball all’a pieces first, then the man. Leaving the fun bit for dessert gives you two things.
Primero, an incentive to finish off your greens. Or in Dave’s case, your fruit (har har).
Secunditer, plausible deniability if anyone whinges about your ad hominem.
The latter gambit is not for the ethics aficionados. (I, for example, have far too much integrity—and have never really felt the need—to avoid credit for my own rhetorical excesses.) But in case of emergency, let’s see how it’s done.
Remember Naomi Oreskes’ anti-science Science article, way back in 2004?
(I hope so, because it’s only the one  singlemost foundational text of the climate mythos. And it’s a grand total of one page long—commensurate with its scholarly rigor—so there’s no excuse for a skeptic not to read it.)
Dr Martin Schulte rebutted it, then Oreskes rebutted his rebuttal.
Well, almost. In a farcical, Only-In-Climate sort of way, she doesn’t purport to rebutt the paper, but a description of it according to one or more Blogs Which Shall Not Be Named For Some Reason. Quoth the gorgon:
… I AM RESPONDING TO THE CHARACTERIZATION OF THE SCHULTE PAPER AS MADE PUBLIC ON THE INTERNET.
Anyone interested in gauging the honesty of Oreskes’ critique is thus encouraged to read what she’s critiquing for him- or herself, which can be found ON THE INTERNET. Simply open your browser and ask google for the web address of THE INTERNET (all caps, no spaces).
Anyway, the surreal exercise climaxes with a bullet-point impugning Schulte’s standing on, hilariously, credentialist grounds:
6) The blog reports describe Mr. Schulte as a medical researcher. As a historian of science I am trained to analyze and understand scientific arguments, their development, their progress, etc., and my specific expertise is in the history of earth science. This past summer I was invited to teach a graduate intensive course at Vienna International Summer University, Vienna Circle Institute, on Consensus in Science. I do not know why a medical researcher would feel qualified to undertake an analysis of consensus in the earth scientific literature.
Um: because medical researchers can count? Getting warm? Is it… because they once attended a two-hour in-service on using Google Scholar?
I kid. We all know medical science is perfectly respectable in its own small way, but it’s not brain surgery. Even brain surgery isn’t exactly brain surgery. Sorting papers into piles: that’s brain surgery.
Finally Oreskes attempts to commit a sequitur, without luck.
7) Contrarians have been trying to refute my work for three years. A previous claim, also circulated and cited by Marc Morano, was subsequently retracted by its author.
I’m told the Wienerzirkl Institut—where Oreskes not only learned how to analyze and understand scientific arguments, their development, their progress, etc., but how to realize it’s okay to be scared, because giving yourself completely to a masked Andorran duke is supposed to be scary when you’ve shut yourself off from the possibility of love for so long—has now made two semesters of Stringing Two or More Ideas Together Coherently compulsory for all BSciCon candidates, so that its alumni can lead the world in making sure nothing like bullet point #7 ever happens again.
Can you imagine having to peer review this childishness?
“A claim, you say? Which was previous to something else? Well, that’s all the clues I need. Please, anonymous authors, don’t get up—you’ve obviously been working so hard all day on this manuscript. Don’t trouble yourself to narrow down the nature of the claim, the general topic, quote it, cite the source, quote Marc Morano’s circulations and/or citations thereof, cite them, cite the retraction, quote the retraction, hint at the reason it was retracted, name the author, or anything like that. Strong recommend! Immediate publication!”
Meanwhile, on the website housing Oreskes’ metarebuttal,* the consensus of commenters—including those she once called follower—seems to be that her “obnoxious credentialism” was an ad hominem, and to that extent not worthy of a serious historian and scientist. (Heck, it’s not even worthy of Oreskes).
But one of the subhuman shits who runs interference for her, a true follower, overrules this objection on the grounds that Oreskes only descended to the personal after her other talking-points:
Ad hominem: your argument is false because you are an idiot.
Not ad hominem: your argument is false because of A, B, C, D, E, F, G and, oh by the way, you are an idiot.
Hope this helps.
So, here’s my question for commenters: notwithstanding the undeniable flair with which this apologia is proffered, it’s wrong. Can anyone explain why a personal insult can constitute an ad hominem even when it’s delivered as a Parthian shot?
As for my crumbly interlocutor, I was just going to let him stew—but then I recalled the Core Appell Belief, as announced on his very own blog:
[Memory is funny, isn’t it? It must have been another alarmagogue who banned me from his alarmoblog for—how did he put it?—asking too many questions.]
Very well, here’s a bonus round for you, Dave:
How does it feel to be the only climate warrior on the ‘net (any more) who’s familiar with the science of A-Priori Hoccobacillography?
What’s it like when you tell a guy like Michael Mann or Ray Bradley that pretty much his entire career in paleoclimate reconstruction was a waste of time? Paint the scene for us.
When you sit down with him and show him how to derive the Hockey Stick deterministically, rapidly, without spending a cent on lawyers and using nothing but the laws of physics as pieced together by a blogger, I imagine he takes the news pretty hard at first, yeah?
Do these guys ever get to a place, mentally, where they’re able to look back and have a laugh at the absurdity of life? Has a climate scientist ever called you back to thank you, and offered to buy you a drink to make up for the one they threw in your face?
Cool. And would you say you’ve now become friends as a result? [Nods interestedly.] Uh-huh. Go on.
Finally: have you thought about what you’re going to do with all the Nobel money?
(Since you probably want my advice, if you’re anything like most idiots, here goes> One point four mil buys a sweet little fully-provisioned eco-bunker your great grandchildren’s great grandchildren’s great grandchildren’s distant descendants will get many hours of enjoyment and not-dying from.)
To David, Dunning-Kruger is a paper company in Scranton, PA. If only he knew it was the name of a cognitive debility. An all too real one.
I’ve never told the Internet this before, but I’m a member of the DK community myself.
For as long as I can remember I’ve always underestimated myself and my competence, viewing everything I do as little better than excellent. What’s astonishing is that such a distorted self-perception is virtually incorrigible, impervious to feedback. I could ace a hundred exams in a row and still expect to get a B-minus on the next one. ■
* Nicely Illustrating one of the Six Characteristics of (Science) Denial, Oreskes has been known to bypass the peer-reviewed literature and publish her alternative theories online, frequently on blogs frequented by people frequently criticized as “flawed” by mainstream scientists.