Why we don’t need academics*…

(* – well, not quite so many of them, anyway).

To the extent that academia is a place of prestige, Twitter is a great leveller. We can peer over the walls… And, oh my, what a sight…

In an era of astronomical salaries for senior university administrators, we should expect unkempt topiary on university property — that being the subject of most of the thousands of comments about Dr. Victoria Bateman’s naked anti-Brexit rant-a-thon. But it is the failure to maintain other, non-horticultural standards that most marks the decline of Western academia.

Brexit places Britain on the yellow brick road. Along the Way we’re going to meet a lion. We’re going to meet a scarecrow. Probably a tin man as well. It will be a long and arduous journey. Probably a very dangerous one as well. When we get to the Emerald City, what will we find?

If Dr Bateman had a point, she lost it, not only when she decided to frame her argument — presumably intended for adult ears — in the terms of children’s literature, but when she took her clothes off. Her nudity adds no more to her point than it would if any high profile Brexiteer did the same. Yet she hides from criticism of her performance by claiming that women’s bodies are have been covered up because of society (‘patriarchy?) having made an equivalence of female flesh and ‘sin’.

There is *so* much to be gained by challenging the notion that women’s bodies are sinful – & by standing up to the presumption that if a woman’s body is on show, she is trashy, stupid, worthless & deserving of less respect. That’s why I for one will *not* be told to cover up.

Then I will not take you any more seriously than I would take a naked Nigel Farage, Dr Bateman. And neither has anyone else.

Taking your clothes off to make arguments about Britain’s economic future — Dr Bateman’s alleged field of expertise — makes about as much sense as wetting your pants to win an argument about high energy physics. It is an infantile, attention-seeking gesture. What it exposes, not unlike the fable of the naked emperor, is a wholly undue sense of entitlement.

At the same time as academics demand a greater role for themselves in society, I find them increasingly preposterous. Far from being a place of great learning, the university seems to be ever more the opposite; a place where contempt for others is nurtured into art forms.

The second tweet comes from “Concerned world citizen and professor of mathematical statistics (in that order)”, Olle Häggström. According to the translation of the following tweet, Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg is his “main role model right now”.

And Häggström is in ‘good’ company.

The two things I most doubt about the spectacle of a child lecturing the world — and academics rushing to bask in the glory of the skiver-turned-planet-saver — are the sincerity and authenticity remaining on the world stage.

The symbolism here is important. For the great and the good, the indoctrinated, indulged and, frankly, inarticulate offspring of wealthy, well-connected and equally self-indulgent parents are symbols of ‘sincerity’ and ‘authenticity’. And they have been for quite some time…

Here’s Severn Cullis-Suzuki, daughter of wealthy academic-turned-media-celebrity-environmentalist, David Suzuki, at the 1992 Rio Summit.

But the symbolism is not universal. They may see pure innocence, speaking truth to power. But I see the cynical exploitation of that symbolism.

Nobody is attacking children. They’re ‘attacking’ the adult moral cowards who brainwash the children, nurture their narcissism, manufacture a bogus inter-generational grievance, and then hide behind them.

That is to say Schmidt hides behind Thunberg, to take a cheap shot at Lomborg.

There are two more implications from the symbolism, seen from this side of those waving it…

First, academics seem to be saying ‘to hell with education and research’. A child speaks for them.

Second. The symbolism is all the more offensive for the fact that children can be selected to speak, to shield the entire shower of bastards from criticism, while nobody else, adult or child, gets to speak at the events Thunberg gets red-carpet invitations to. In terms of ‘symbols’, that is as big an F-U to the rest of the world as it is possible to manufacture and transport to Davos.

Finally, not on twitter, but from academia…

Bruno Latour: the philosopher fighting to save science from itself

Today, as disinformation flourishes, critics argue that the work of “postmodernists” such as Latour has – intentionally or not – encouraged a dangerous nihilism that plays into the hands of climate denialists. If facts are socially produced, what is to stop people from believing that the truth is subjective?

Latour’s intention was never to undermine public trust in science, though. Indeed, his most recent book, Down to Earth, accepts climate change as an urgent fact. As he put it when I recently spoke to him from Paris: “The more we show how science is made, the more we can talk with credibility about what it achieves.”

Odd. I have never seen anyone move from lit crit to argue that polar bears are just another narrative. But since the 1990s, plenty of postmodernism’s victims — most of them on the campus — have sought to identify themselves with climate change. You need to have to have popped a pomo pill to produce stuff like feminist glaciology. The article continues,

If anything, our post-truth politics affirm Latour’s ideas. In an era of conspiracy-thinking, the fragility of facts and forms of expertise we once exalted is being shown. As Latour writes in Down to Earth, “facts remain robust only when they are supported by… institutions that can be trusted”.

For people to believe in a shared set of facts, they have to inhabit a shared world – something Latour argues that mounting inequality and the erosion of social safety nets have thwarted. Brexit and Trump voters, he writes, aren’t suffering from “cognitive deficiencies”. Liberals’ great error is to assume that populists simply don’t have the right information at their disposal.

As true as the point about liberals’ errors is, the notion of science being grounded in scientific institutions defeats what was hitherto the motto of the oldest scientific institution: ‘Nulius in Verba’. Climate change has turned that motto on its head, and turned many other public institutions besides, against the broader public. And it gets weirder…

Down to Earth frames the politics of the past 50 years through the lens of climate change. Stratospheric inequality, the retrenchment of the welfare state and the spread of climate change denial are all part of a single phenomenon: a ruling elite that has sought to escape the impending climate crisis while at the same time denying its existence. This fantasy of escape extends to both the technophile millionaires buying up pastures in New Zealand and to the new cadre of right-wing politicians who deny climate change while erecting borders and walls to shut out the world.

The ruling elite are at Davos and UNFCCC meetings, hiding behind autistic children, and taking climate change extremely seriously. It is the rest of the world that thinks its bullshit. If they save the planet by making energy and transport too expensive for us hoi polloi, they will need their New Zealand pastures to escape to.


Of course, there are more than three or four academics in the world. And not all academics are as pointless, entitled and crazy as the four discussed here. But I think we can make an argument that an outbreak of some form of collective madness might be the consequence of overpopulation.

Tamsin Edwards’ illness is real, and perhaps of interest to some of the people who follow her writing. But Kate Marvel’s aggressive, narcissistic political campaigning is not a trait that helps anyone believe that ‘scientists are people, too’. When normal people act like entitled pricks in ordinary life, they get arrested for indecent exposure or punched in the face, no matter how ‘vulnerable’ or ’emotional’ they are. Putative experts are appointed for their putative expertise, not for their ‘humanity’. That academics no longer feel that with prestige comes decorum, and that they must be able to account for their behaviour and their ‘research’, suggests some reflection on ‘academics’ function in society is overdue. One doesn’t need to be a naked economist, an autistic skiver or a vapid postmodern philosopher to see it.


  1. Spot on Ben, it’s all “look at me, look at me”. Similar with the SJW issues, all vying to move up the “caring league table” by knocking those above them off their perch (Liam Neeson’s accusers a good example). Twitter is Strava for the SJWs.


  2. I will not take you any more seriously than I would take a naked Nigel Farage…

    Project Fear gets nasty. Some things are hard to unimagine.


  3. As a counterbalance there is Camille Paglia writing in Quillette:

    “Most established professors in the 1970s probably believed that the new theory trend was a fad that would blow away like autumn leaves. The greatness of the complex and continuous Western tradition seemed self-evident: the canon would surely stand, even if supplemented by new names. Well, guess what? Helped along by a swelling horde of officious, overpaid administrators, North American universities became, decade by decade, political correctness camps. Out went half the classics, as well as pedagogically useful survey courses demonstrating sequential patterns in history (now dismissed as a “false narrative” by callow theorists). Bookish, introverted old-school professors were not prepared for guerrilla warfare to defend basic scholarly principles or to withstand waves of defamation and harassment.”

    “The poisons of post-structuralism have now spread throughout academe and have done enormous damage to basic scholarly standards and disastrously undermined belief even in the possibility of knowledge. I suspect history will not be kind to the leading professors who appear to have put loyalty to friends and colleagues above defending scholarly values during a chaotic era of overt vandalism that has deprived several generations of students of a profound education in the humanities. The steady decline in humanities majors is an unmistakable signal that this once noble field has become a wasteland.”

    “What I see spreading among professional middle-class women is a bitter resentment toward men that is in many cases unjust and misplaced. With divorce so easy since the sexual revolution, women find themselves competing with younger women in new and cruel ways. Agrarian women gained power as they aged: young women were brainless pawns whose marriages, pregnancies, childcare, cooking, and other chores were acerbically supervised and controlled by the dictatorial crones (forces of nature whom I fondly remember from childhood).”

    “In short, #MeToo from a historical perspective is a cri de coeur from women who are realizing that the sexual revolution that many of us had once ecstatically embraced has in key ways devalued women, confused their private relationships, and complicated their smooth functioning in the workplace. It’s time for a new map of the gender world.”
    Paglia article is here: https://quillette.com/2018/11/10/camille-paglia-its-time-for-a-new-map-of-the-gender-world/
    My synopsis with some reflections is here: https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2018/11/15/is-emotional-intelligence-an-oxymoron/

    Liked by 6 people

  4. A fine and wide-ranging rant against narcissism and post-modernism in the academy, with particular reference to climate. On the use of young Greta, and Gavin’s endorsement of such, Rupert Darwall kicked off another Twitter thread five days ago. I hesitated to get involved after the child soldiers of the Khmer Rouge had been used as an illustration. And then I did, soon coming back to Lomborg and climate:


    I didn’t get the last word, needless to say. But the inability of my adversary even to say the words “deaths from extreme climate events” I found pretty suggestive. The censorship of everything that doesn’t fit the catastrophe narrative goes deep.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. “…some reflection on ‘academics’ function in society is overdue.”

    Such reflection has been going on for while. Ron Clutz in his comment above links to a 2015 article of his which offers us a PDF of Tom Wolfe’s article from 2000 “In the Land of the Rococo Marxists.”

    And Allan Bloom’s “Closing of the American Mind” covered the same ground at greater length and with less jokes – in 1987.

    Both highly recommended.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. An example of the kind of thing Ben is writing about (the entitlement mentality at any rate, not the nudity) – here are two of the academics behind the recent Lancet Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change report, discussing said “global syndemic”:

    “The lack of government actions is what we call policy inertia, which is industry opposition to policies, government reluctance to implement policies and a lack of public demand for those policies.”

    So these are policies that neither industry, government nor the public want. Virtually nobody wants these policies! If there’s no demand, how can they be implemented? Where’s the mighty groundswell of opinion crying out for them?

    Oh, here we are: “The current report provides a blueprint for how to transform those systems that are driving the global syndemic – for example, we need a 1 billion dollar fund to support community activation to demand policy action.”

    Aha, so that’s how spontaneous bottom-up grassroots movements are supposed to work, they need a billion dollar “community activation” fund – who knew? Clearly, amateurs like the gilets jaunes are doing it all wrong.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Alex
    A billion dollars to fund “community activation”? Wouldn’t it be cheaper simply to bribe the politicians into doing what the Lancet authors want? Isn’t that what the fossil fuel companies do? But then funding community activation creates a lot of jobs I suppose, for community activators, and for academics studying the effectiveness of community activation.


  8. For me the message lying within stunts like promoting children to proselytize or promoting the naked to perform, is that academics simply believe they have lost status, are no longer considered the font of knowledge, and are rapidly losing their raison d’etre. They need to pull stunts or co-opt others in order even to be noticed. Unfortunately (for them) these artifices lower their status even further, requiring even further demeaning of one’s self.
    The fifteen minutes of “fame” gets ever harder to achieve.


  9. Can we expect the imminent return of Brad to these pages if Prof. Naomi Oreskes decides to puff up her message by doing a Dr Victoria Bateman?


  10. “feminist glaciology.”

    Are they saying that feminists are frigid?

    This was Thunberg being paraded at Katowice:


  11. Years ago I excercised at a gym next to a large hospital with a psych ward.
    One night while leaving the gym, a woman burst out of a fire escape exit. She was walking rather purposefully on the sidewalk front of me, and it took me a moment to realize that my headlights were illuminating a bare naked lady walking apparently purposefully down the street. I realized, after a moment’s surprise, that this bare naked lady was most likely a clever patient of the psychiatric ward who had managed to sneak out for an aux naturale stroll.
    I decided quickly that my personal intervention to persuade this lady to stop would be potential disaster. So I stayed in my car, called the police, and slowly followed this troubled soul hoping that she would stay on the sidewalk and not try to dart out into traffic or head for the large freeway less than a quarter mile away.
    Fortunately, a few minutes later nurses, with blankets, arrived and took the unfortunate soul back into care and the hospital.
    So my question is, where was the nursing staff and some desperately needed blankets to return this tragic lunatic impersonating an academic to the psychiatric ward she escaped from?
    And what voyeur posted a video to forever remove this poor soul’s dignity by filming her irrational rambling claptrap?

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Re Greta’s messaging, ‘the voice of innocence’ is a powerful emotive persuader. Adults don’t like to be morally upbraided by children, this induces guilt among other emotions. Praising the message and the messenger assuages any negative emotions. Another example of this messaging is below. But such deployments are a double-edged sword; the more potent these are, the more polarizing they also are, i.e. while they emotively persuade more people who already lean a little the ‘right’ way, they also add to the backlash from those who don’t, and who will only (in the case of this particular narrative variant) be much more persuaded that a cause which subverts our strong instincts / feelings for children, must be deeply flawed.

    64 children from 20 countries attending the Children’s Climate Conference in Sweden, presented a communiqué to the Swedish Environment Minister (Ms. Romson) to take to COP21. 3 children from the conference actually travelled to Paris themselves to present the document to world leaders. Via the Manitoulin Expositor (2015): ‘The communiqué, or ‘Children’s Demands,’ was written and signed through thumbprints by the 64 children who attended the conference. The document called on the adults of the world to ‘act like a kid.’

    ‘“We are the kids, and we will fight to save the world,” starts the communiqué. “We are kids, and we see our schools float away in rising water. We see the ice melting, and starving polar bears in our land. We see our water wells drying out. And we see black smoke killing people. But we will fight to save the world. We see kids, and we see typhoons hitting our home. We see big people cutting down trees, and we feel how the air sometimes is hard to breathe. We see how the forest is burning. But we will fight to save this world.”
    “We are kids, and we like to play,” continues the communiqué. “We like to draw, play football and read books. We like to sing and dance. But now we will fight to save the world. We are kids, and we have to pay for mistakes that we haven’t made. You adults are giving us a world in chaos, and we are scared. But our future children should live in a better world than this. So we will fight to save the world! We are kids, we’re still young and have a lot to learn. But this is the last chance to save our planet, and we don’t have the time to grow up. Our planet is dying slowly. This has to end. That’s why we’re here to tell you adults: act like us kids – and fight to save the world!”’

    ‘the voice of innocence’ is essentially a variant of ‘engaging anxiety for children’, yet with the message placed into their own mouths. In my big list of ~180 catastrophe narrative quotes from authority and scientist sources, linked on other threads here, about 10% feature ‘engaging anxiety for children’, some of which are extremely emotive forms. E.g. two snippets from scientists, first Eric Holthaus: “…why the hell would someone of procreating age today even consider having a baby? It feels like an utter tragedy to create new life, fall in love with it, and then watch it writhe in agony as the world singes to a crisp…” who nevertheless had one, apparently because of some hope of avoiding the crisp scenario, and second Stephan Rahmstorf, who in response to science communicator Joe Duggan’s question ‘how do you feel about climate change?’, answers: “Sometimes I have this dream. I’m going for a hike and discover a remote farm house on fire. Children are calling for help from the upper windows. So I call the fire brigade. But they don’t come, because some mad person keeps telling them that it is a false alarm. The situation is getting more and more desperate, but I cant convince the firemen to get going. I cannot wake up from this nightmare.” In line with Ben’s thoughts here, and even for supporters of mainstream climate science, how can anyone possibly conclude that the science from these individuals is objective? i.e. is free from emotive bias?


  13. Climate news is almost always “PR not news”
    Likewise although arguments should be with reason, you can’t do that with political greens cos they are “unreasonable”
    Instead of sticking to reason, they pile in with ad homs, dramaqueening, and appeals to emotion like “Think of the children”
    ..hence the term DramaGreens

    The media are a particular problem, cos instead of playing a gatekeeper against all this, by calling it out
    ..they actually play along with their megahorns from large platforms ,
    … whilst we skeptics are denied those platforms and wave our placards from the ground.
    However given time more and more of the public pick up on our message istead of just believing what comes out of media platforms.


  14. Jaime, that’s astonishing. Looking at Nancy Pelosi being called a climate denier by Eric Holthaus yesterday, and the extreme radicalisation shown by many on Twitter in justifying this, plus the “out-and-out insanity” of the left on the trans issue (as I called it on 15th January – and I don’t recant), it seems that there is a competition now to be as barmy as that minister in Munich in 1919 I cited:

    Of these men, only the Foreign Minister was clinically insane, cabling Lenin and the Pope about the whereabouts of the key to the lavatory door.

    That extreme left regime, created because the more reputable SDP had vacated the building (and Munich) because of lethal violence, and other excesses like it, didn’t last long, but it did, in the end, lead to the masses voting for Hitler. In my judgement. We are in dangerous territory – and some, at least, of the insanity we see has the tacit backing of international institutions that didn’t exist in 1919. Rees-Mogg is beautifully courteous and has a great sense of humour, with no need to remove his well-tailored garments for added effect. We deeply need this kind of example and alternative.


  15. Richard, the Left are now I believe. clinically insane, in large numbers. This in response to Kimberley Strassel tweeting about laughing her head off after reading the Green New Deal:

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Yep. But (forgive me) I just edited my comment to add this:

    some, at least, of the insanity we see has the tacit backing of international institutions that didn’t exist in 1919

    Something Ben has really majored on – though not so much in this post. (There’s too much to be comprehensive. Rants are sometimes the best way.) Plus we have the internet and twitter, its crack cocaine, amplifying the insanity as well as providing places for this kind of pushback (but with a propensity to ban transgressors like yourself, very unevenly).

    I’m trying to figure it out, as I guess we all are.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Here’s some interesting background information re the Greta Thunberg story:

    The website is extremely anti-capitalist, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea, here in climate sceptic land. Nevertheless, some food for thought:

    “…there is much emphasis from the international media to establish the idea that Thunberg’s speech was spontaneous. As we will illustrate, it was not. This is merely an example of effective story-telling being put into practise, as orchestrated by the NGOs and corporate alliances that are handling Thunberg.”

    The case the authors are putting is that ‘the “frontline youth” energy is strategically being mobilized by a highly organized and sophisticated climate campaign. This same energy is being captured, then channeled back to save, strengthen and expand, the capitalist, hegemonic system that promises to destroy the future for these very same youth.’

    I don’t agree with the last bit or the authors’ overall conclusions, that capitalism is going to “destroy the future” for young people; if anything, it’s obvious that on balance, capitalism has succeeded in making life a lot better for humans young and old, and on a global scale.

    But their point that Greta Thunberg is being cynically manipulated to serve a narrative, that I find plausible.


  18. Interesting times..

    the next generation of climate activist.. have just emerged from youth and are very scared of climate change.. and they will start calling the previous generation of scared climate activists – climate deniers..

    I went to a Extinction rebellion event..

    utterly nuts.. but a very, very sure of himself 25 year old leader.. lots of demands, but when pushed no solutions and the most passive aggressive person I’ve ever met.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. What is Doug McNeall on nowadays? I took him to be a reasonably down to earth, calm, sober, together sort of guy who was a scientist. Tamsin Edwards communicates science (and uncertainty) effectively, always has done, always will I hope, in spite of her evident humanity, in spite of her evident emotional and physical turmoil following a diagnosis and treatment for a particularly deadly form of cancer. Kate Marvel used to do a fairly commendable job of communicating science; lately, she has most effectively communicated her increasing emotional instability and immaturity. There is very little comparison between the two now. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that Richard Betts doesn’t go loco when all around him, his colleagues are losing their heads!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Dr. Bateman is demonstrating that it is not only the Emperor who got snookered into a special set of clothes. Her arguments, like her clothes, are absent. The reality of what she offers as argument is as mediocre as her physical presence.
    There is that saying about keeping one’s mouth shut in order to not remove all doubt about one’s foolishness that has an apparent corollary regrading clothes. Dr. Bateman demonstrated both simultaneously.


  21. Alex,
    If you think of the “climate consensus” as a ruling class (and their Toadies) obsession/entertainment then the critique makes perfect sense. The kid and all others who can be used to satisfy the imperialist and financial interests seeking to profit from “climate change” and the other ruling class diversions will be used as much as possible.
    Think of a royal court, jesters, zoo, jugglers, entertainers, morality plays, etc….


  22. Tony Thomas has a piece in the Australian Spectator, describing what is happening there with the mobilisation of young children in the “climate wars”.


    “The Schoolstrike4climate site says some students will strike not just on the Friday but for a week or a day per week, or ongoing.

    The strikes are inspired by the one-girl Swedish strike of Greta Thunberg, She told a TED talk on December 12 that because of politicians’ inaction against fossil fuels, she suffered depression at 11, stopped eating and talking and lost 10kg. (Lose weight with climate change?)

    The renewed kids’ strikes are part of the assault against the Coalition in the 2019 election, plus the Adani coal project in Queensland. The March 15 organisers blame global warming for local heat waves and (strangely) for flash flooding in cities, and in their rallying email claim, ‘Half of the Great Barrier Reef is dead.’ They write, ‘We are in the thick of the climate crisis. Prolonged drought is crippling farming communities. Catastrophic bushfires and severe cyclones are threatening people’s homes. Heatwaves are sweeping the nation.’

    All strike text is in ad agency dialect. So who’s writing the script? The media-savvy Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), was official helper-in-chief for December’s strike. But it’s now on a near-invisible profile to preserve the kid-power narrative. AYCC is a registered charity with 70 staff, 1,000 volunteers and a budget of $2.9m.

    Victoria’s green spiderweb illustrates why conservatives are in a sorry state. Immersing oneself in this Green success story is like entering a post-sane era. Only a placard from the previous kids’ strike lightened my mood:

    ‘Sorry I can’t tidy my bedroom, I have to save the planet’.”

    Some of the groups and organisations he mentions reflect some of Al Gore’s groups in the US, eg RePower Australia mirrors RePower America. Gore has been a frequent visitor and Potsdam is well established in partnership with Melbourne University, feeding constantly into the alarmist narrative.

    I love this comment from Judith Curry on her site:


    “Thinking that catastrophes like major hurricane landfalls, massive forest fires etc. will be ‘cured’ by eliminating fossil fuel emissions is laughable. Well its not really funny. Thinking that eliminating fossil fuel emissions will ‘solve’ the problem of extreme weather events is very sad, sort of on the level of doing rain dances. Every thing that goes wrong, they blame on fossil fuel driven climate change.

    Imagine how surprised they would be if we were ever to be successful at eliminating fossil fuel emissions, and then we still had bad weather!”


  23. Jaime:
    “I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that Richard Betts doesn’t go loco when all around him, his colleagues are losing their heads!”

    Too late Jaime, I’m afraid:


    “Global heating” is a more accurate term than “global warming” to describe the changes taking place to the world’s climate, according to a key scientist at the UK Met Office.

    Prof Richard Betts, who leads the climate research arm of Britain’s meteorological monitoring organisation, made the comments amid growing evidence that rising temperatures have passed the comfort zone and are now bringing increased threats to humanity.

    “Global heating is technically more correct because we are talking about changes in the energy balance of the planet,” the scientist said at the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland. “We should be talking about risk rather than uncertainty.”

    “Things are obviously proceeding very slowly,” said Betts. “As a scientist, it’s frustrating to see we’re still at the point when temperatures are going up and emissions are going up. I’ve been in this for 25 years. I hoped we’d be beyond here by now.”

    This is puzzling, because in 2005, just before Tony Blair’s “Ramp It Up” Exeter Conference on Dangerous Climate Change, Richard Betts was co-author of a publication dated January 2005, called:

    “Stabilising climate to avoid dangerous climate change — a summary of relevant research at the Hadley Centre” January 2005, Prepared by Geoff Jenkins, Richard Betts, Mat Collins, Dave Griggs, Jason Lowe, Richard Wood.

    From the summary:
    “What constitutes ‘dangerous’ climate change, in the context of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, remains open to debate.

    Once we decide what degree of (for example) temperature rise the world can tolerate, we then have to estimate what greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere should be limited to, and how quickly they should be allowed to change.

    These are very uncertain because we do not know exactly how the climate system responds to greenhouse gases.

    The next stage is to calculate what emissions of greenhouse gases would be allowable, in order to keep below the limit of greenhouse gas concentrations. This is even more uncertain, thanks to our imperfect understanding of the carbon cycle (and chemical cycles) and how this feeds back into the climate system.”

    Professor Betts has clearly now decided on the correct temperature for the earth and no longer has any doubts about how the climate system responds to greenhouse gases and has rectified his lack of knowledge regarding the carbon cycle, so the science is once more “settled”.

    We are in good hands.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Richard,
    Thank you for your comment on my post.
    I went to the Rebel site, and at first I thought it was a skeptic site when I read their first demand:
    Government tell the truth about climate change.
    I bet that more than a few in government wish they had told the truth years ago before the alarmist delusions became so widespread.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. JRM has inimitably declined Victoria Bateman’s invitation to debate naked by professing that his birthday suit is not double breasted ….

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Richard; local Reading group.. they are trying to make Reading Council declare a climate emergency (and to put daft policies in place, and they will likely succeed)

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Another academic, Professor Howard Frumkin of Our Planet, Our Health program, Wellcome Trust:

    “I trained as a primary care physician, taking care of individual patients one by one, but I realised at a certain point that if we don’t take care of people’s habitat, if people don’t have good places to live, they can’t thrive. Every zoo keeper realises this – the first thing you think about, as a zoo keeper, is “How do I create a good habitat for the animals so that they can thrive?” We need to think about humans the same way…”

    Coming soon, a Lancet guide: How to Take Care of Your Humans. “Humans are classed as exotic pets, but they can thrive, as long as you enforce some basic rules… Feed them a calorie-restricted, plant-based diet… Don’t water them too much… Give them plenty of vigorous exercise… No cars or air travel… Don’t let them get too comfortable… No fossil fuels…”

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Barry, did anyone at the meeting mention the schism in XR? Some prominent XRers think that the campaign is focusing too much on climate change. These include co-founder Stuart Basden (who it seems has now quit XR in a huff) and whoever runs the Twitter account for Rising Up!, XR’s parent body. (Or what was its Twitter account. It was rebadged as ‘Return of the Yedi’ at the end of last year and a few days ago it was moved to a new address, @ReturnYedi.) The dissidents want non-human extinction to get more attention. Some of them also want XR to tone down some its more extreme climate alarmism. As the dissidents are all full-on climate catastrophists, I suspect that much of the dissent is really about animosity towards an academic* called Roger Hallam, an innumerate self-described ‘numbers man’ who is credited with first coming up with with the idea for XR.

    This Twitter poll posted by the grumpy bloke** who devised the logo used by XR catches the mood:


    Also this thread:


    *I’m just trying to make this comment on-topic. He’s a PhD student. Does that make him an academic? The Graun has described him that way but I’m not convinced.

    **Years ago he blocked me on Twitter and called me a climate denier because I had pointed out that a seabird’s population decline that he had blamed on climate change was in fact due to overfishing at the birds’ breeding grounds. (I think crabs came into it too, somehow. I do remember that Michael Tobis stuck up for me.) These days, he tweets such things himself:





  29. Sorry. The link to the Twitter poll should have been:


  30. Here’s something that ought to fit in with this thread. Harrison Ford just went off the deep end with the video in this post:


    Here’s a direct quote (and caption) at the end:

    “Join us and The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment at the World Government Summit.

    Harrison, get a grip! Hop in one of your planes, go find a nice burger joint and have a cheeseburger.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Harrison Ford: ‘What does living in a four-degrees-warmer world look like? Freshwater shortages, higher greenhouse emissions…’

    Oooh nooz! So now the cause is also an effect in its own right!

    The End really is Nigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Somebody in academia loves us.
    “Climate Change Scepticism, A Transnational Ecocritical Analysis” is written by three academics; one from Bath University.
    It’s got a 50 page chapter on Scepticism in Britain. The Publisher wants 73 quid for a watermarked ebook version. Google is offering it for 55 euros. In the free extract available at Google there ‘s a page of quite acerbic comments about Lew, and another about Monbiot and the D word.

    Liked by 4 people

  33. Geoff, interesting and probably worth a new post.

    “… when we embarked on writing this book in 2016, there were sound scientific, technical, cultural and economic reasons for thinking that the long, difficult transition from fossil fuels had begun. What a difference a year makes. The assumption that climate sceptics have been left on the wrong
    side of history’, as the complacent phrase has it, has proven to be premature.”

    They then launch into a rant about Brexit and Trump and even “neo-fascists” and their own “anxiety and bafflement”. I wonder what they would make of your campaigning work on behalf of the Communist Party? Perhaps that would only increase these poor people’s bafflement.

    Very soon after comparing us to neo-fascists, they claim that they “set out deliberately to
    understand climate scepticism, not to vilify or even overcome it.”

    They then devote numerous pages to Cook, Lewandowsky, Rahmstorf, McCright and Dunlap, (yes, while claiming to be trying to understand scepticism), and when the do eventually get around to mentioning a sceptic, they get his name wrong, “Marc Murano”.


  34. I wish I had been in the audience for Dr. Victoria Bateman’s “talk.” I would have been throwing $100 bills up on the stage, and shouting “Put it on, baby! Put it on!”

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Geoff, “leading academics”. LOL. Professors of sustainability, interdisciplinary humanities, and German and European culture, and then there’s poor Stephanie, a humble associate professor whose contribution comes from beyond the grave!


  36. Stephanie Posthumus lives! (Not making this up, honest):

    “At the intersection of several contemporary critical streams, Stephanie Posthumus’s research focuses on the representations of the non-human, or more-than-human, in contemporary French literature as well as across European literatures and cultures.”

    “…Prof. Posthumus has been leading a research project on the convergences of the digital and the environmental humanities. Awarded a SSHRC Connections grant in 2013, she brought together scholars interested in exploring the ways in which digital technologies can be used to disseminate cutting edge research in the environmental humanities.”

    “Prof. Posthumus examines the philosophical assumptions upon which the human/machine binary has been built. In this way, she continues to develop a posthumanist approach that seeks to rethink the human in light of contemporary thinking about animals, machines, and nature’s others.”

    Truly vital and cutting-edge work, in other words. Or it could be Godfrey Elfwick up to his tricks again…


  37. “As Prof. Posthumus argues in several articles, ecocriticism, while based on a concern for global environmental problems, is not transferable from one national literature to another. The traditions, philosophies, and representations of the non-human world that influence and are influenced by literature create important cultural differences that do not allow for a global ecocritical perspective.”

    So, apart from being dead/not dead, a Posthumus and a posthumanist, one of the co-authors has views which would appear to contradict the title of the book she contributes to: ‘Climate Change Scepticism: A Transnational Ecocritical Analysis’!



  38. Actually, thinking about it, postHUMUS probably has much in common with posthuman, being that which comes after the decomposition of plant and animal matter. Sorry, so many opportunities though to engage in satirical eco-loon criticism here.


  39. It seems to be going well, acknowledging doubts and the importance of respecting opponents etc but then takes a respectful look at Skeptical Science, not noticing that the debunked talking points are not really valid examples of sceptical viewpoints. Then again it is disappointing that they make the clumsy error of using “climate change” as a synonym for CAGW. And finally, they don’t seem to recognise that, for many people, scepticism comes from a belief that a lot of climate scientists are either not very good at doing science or, like the Rahmstorf crew, deliberately twist and distort their findings with dubious statistical methods.


  40. I’d like to read the ‘ecocriticism’ – I only read the free bits. However, it struck me once again that it’s yet another attempt to “understand” climate scepticism without actually going anywhere near what climate sceptics actually say. Lew-bashing and the criticism of Monbiot is fine — well deserved. But I’ve only ever been asked once by an academic what I believed, and that didn’t really get to the bottom of any views on climate or politics. Very odd.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Ooh-err, I can just see it now: a BBC documentary featuring eco-critical, eco-vegan, eco-nude academics lecturing Brexit-voting climate sceptics on why they’re stupid, irrational, science-denying xenophobic Nazis, whilst roasting their bits beside an EU Eco-Design compliant Gove-Stove – because it’s winter outside, and it’s bloody cold.


  42. Dennis, re. your comment 09 Feb 11.14am,

    Yes, I remember that comment from Richard, which started a brief Twitter exchange. Sadly, I can’t recall what I said now and all my Twitter conversations are deleted forever. Not one of Richard’s brightest ideas I think.


  43. Re the ‘ecocriticism’, I’ve only read some of the available parts. I think there is much to like in those, for instance:

    “Nonetheless, we are prepared to apply techniques of rhetorical critique equally to ‘warmism’ as to ‘scepticism’, finding that both positions represent themselves as ‘David’ to the opposition’s ‘Goliath’, for example.”

    …which indeed is generally the case for the wider conflict. The goliath for the orthodox being the fossil fuel industry corrupting via money and the Merchants of Doubt. But they immediately go on to say:

    “At the same time, we impartially bracket out scientific ‘styles of explanation’ of beliefs about climate change, even though we consider one set – embodied in the IPCC reports – true and the other false.”

    Well if they’re all equally bracketed out they can’t *theoretically* affect the analysis. But in a proper frame analysis NO frame must be assumed as true relative to any others, no matter its mode of expression (and the IPCC itself has tiered modes in this respect). Doing so reveals a bias towards certain frames that cannot be kept out of the analysis come what come may, because that’s how bias works. Nor have they sufficiently considered their own frame, of which they say:

    “It seems unlikely, in any case, that many people will notice our fragile neutrality.”

    A good attempt it may be, but not only does the above reveal that they consider ‘neutrality’ to be the IPCC position, to which their own frame is thereby aligned, the title of the work reveals a worse framing bias, because a framing analysis can only draw reasonable conclusions about the domain if *all* frames are equally considered. This not only means treating the IPCC just like any other frame, but also spending as much time and analysis depth on all the main frames (which first one has to decide ‘what constitutes main’). Although I’ve only read a very small proportion so far, the title and introduction, while for sure not ignoring orthodox and warmist framings, essentially starts off by assuming that sceptic framings represent the main domain ‘issue’ that is most needful to investigate / analyse, which is working backwards. A proper frame analysis would work forwards, to see which framings seem to have the strongest cultural characteristics, and only then look at why and the detail of what drives these and why culture dominates reason more so within these frames than others.

    Another good thing is quoting the great research by Dan Kahan:

    “Finally, it has become clear that cultural identity, not scientific knowledge, determines the stated beliefs of Americans, at least, when it comes to climate change. Challenging the meaning of results of opinion polls carried out on Americans, Dan Kahan observes that ‘whether people “believe in” climate change, like whether they “believe in” evolution, expresses who they are. ’(Kahan 11) Using a survey that deliberately seeks to measure knowledge as opposed to identity, Kahan found that the ostensibly large differences in climate change beliefs between Democrats and Republicans disappeared. He concludes that: ‘unless one engages citizens in a manner that avoids identity threat, no amount of knowledge about climate science will forestall divisive cultural conflict on global warming. Not only did the item-response profile for “belief in” human caused climate change fail to display the characteristics of a valid indicator of climate-science comprehension. Those respondents [with the] highest level of such comprehension were also the most polarized in their “beliefs in” human -caused global warming.

    …which is fantastic and far ahead of the typical Lew bucket of bias so often seen in this climate psychology writings. But they immediately follow that with:

    “In other words, climate sceptics cannot be dismissed as dummies who reject science, and they are unlikely to be persuaded by more, and more brilliantly communicated, science.”

    Which betrays their supposed neutrality again, i.e. the skeptics do still need persuading they are wrong. But the authors should only assume skeptics need persuading if their framing analysis (assisted by Kahan’s data) pointed to these as the chief source of cultural bias. And this work from Kahan does not say who is who, i.e. who is right. Indeed the paper then says:

    “Indeed, warmists surveyed by Kahan were just as likely to have scientifically unsupported views about climatic risks, such as that global warming would increase skin cancer or reduce photosynthesis (20)”

    Which should tell them that despite throughout they’re assuming one frame to hold truth, the above shows only that there is culture on both sides in the US. Hence the next task is to show where the *root* culture is, which a truly neutral and holistic framing analysis could potentially reveal.

    Of course Kahan also thinks the consensus science is correct, but in the sense of what the data is actually telling him withholds more judgement than this paper I think. For instance, some secondary effects don’t pan out, it’s still a work in progress for him, despite he currently thinks he knows what the answer would be. (However, in summary if one assumes 3 cultures, i.e. Rep / Con, Dem/ Lib, and Climate catastrophist, all the inconsistencies disappear, and the alliance of the latter two pulls the former into alignment with skeptic positions, hence culture on both sides in the US, but *Rep/Con* culture not ‘skeptic’ culture). See this long ago post for how Dan’s data is great but his analysis falls to his bias from priors: https://judithcurry.com/2015/01/30/climate-psychologys-consensus-bias/

    I haven’t progressed enough to know whether they’ve put significant work into analysing the orthodox and warmist framings in as much depth as the skeptic framings, plus whether indeed the alignment of their own frame does sufficiently get in the way to bias the process even if this occurred. But this looks like a major issue so far. To fail to notice the huge cultural drive in the orthodox side, which is far and away its biggest public characteristic, to the point whereby the dominant narrative from very many (and many of the highest) authorities over many years doesn’t even remotely match the IPCC, let alone anything skeptic, would be a considerable feat of frame blindness. But this is not uncommon, see here for exactly the same issue, albeit on a less ambitious / more bounded analysis: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/01/27/cagw-bias-in-academia-lesfrud-and-meyer-2013-revisited/

    Liked by 2 people

  44. Supergirl has arrived on the climate scene. I bet her parents are an amiable, simple, rustic couple who came across her one day in the woods and decided to adopt her because she was such a sweet young thing – who managed to push their old car out of some mud it was stuck in.


  45. We at cliscep stand accused of being dismissive of experts, but the experts are clustering like bees around honey to a 16 year old girl, who professes to know all about the “climate crisis”, in the apparent hope that the world will listen to her, if not them. How very odd.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Rahmstorf is doing a fantastic job playing Wormtongue.

    He corrupts politicians, Popes, and now the young girls he apparently admires so much…


  47. Here’s Bateman’s husband:

    A possible profile pic for the next incarnation of Elfwick/Titania, no? (What’s going on with that hair? A tsunami? A roadkill badger?)

    Apparently at the moment he’s London’s fifth most successful professional gambler, losing only 6.5% of his clients’ money so far this year:


    This longer-term judgment is less positive, however:


    Overall, performing about the same as the peer group composite. However, over a fairly lengthy track record, the manager has under-performed the peer group more often than not. stock picking has not really benefited results, which have not been particularly exposed to falling markets.

    Oh well. I’m sure he’s still earning enough to buy his wife some clothes.

    Liked by 2 people

  48. Nudity redux. Here’s an academic (well, a graduate student) showing how not to use a chainsaw:

    That seems to have been coursework for a Master’s in Fine Art from The Slade, Britain’s top-ranked art school. I am posting it not because I am a dirty old man but to prevent others making the same potentially dangerous mistakes. As well as the lack off safety gear, she cuts the notch in the wrong place, the chain is obviously very blunt, she stands in the wrong place and she (eventually) makes the notch far too big.

    Don’t art schools have health and safety officers?


  49. Vinny,
    That pathetic Darwin Award candidate is such a sad commentary.
    Only not in the way she apparently intended.


  50. Read Ben’s link at the economist and see why sometimes aggressive rudeness is the only possible response. It’s a different solar powered mud hut from the one I featured in an article a couple of years ago about a scheme by Oxfam, Electricité de France and Bank of America to bring Africa into the early twentieth century and turn it into a kind of Shire inhabited by contented low carbon brown hobbits, ready to work hard by LED light to provide us with cheap cut flowers, but the sentiment is the same.

    And on the subject of paedolatry, Professor Runciman of Cambridge, who has discovered the Rosetta Stone of Scepticism, proving that we’re not only conspiracy theorists but knuckle dragging Brexiteers, thinks the vote should be given to six-year-olds.

    Liked by 1 person

  51. JAIME JESSOP says:
    10 Feb 19 at 2:34 pm
    Dennis, re. your comment 09 Feb 11.14am,

    “Not one of Richard’s brightest ideas I think.”

    Betts has been “predicting” for a long time:

    “An average global temperature rise of 7.2F (4C), considered a dangerous tipping point, could happen by 2060, causing droughts around the world, sea level rises and the collapse of important ecosystems.

    “The Arctic could see an increase in temperatures of 28.8F (16C), while parts of sub Saharan Africa and North America would be devastated by an increase in temperature of up to 18F (10C).

    “Britain’s temperature would rise by the average 7.2F (4C) which would mean Mediterranean summers and an extended growing season for new crops like olives, vines and apricots.

    “However deaths from heat waves will increase, droughts and floods would become more common, diseases like malaria may spread to Britain and climate change refugees from across the world are likely to head to the country.

    “Dr Richard Betts, Head of Climate Impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre, said the new study showed how important it was to try and reduce emissions.” The Telegraph 27 Sep 2009

    The date of this report is even closer to the piece I quoted above from 2005, noting the significant uncertainty and knowledge gaps acknowledged by Hadley. I suppose when your job title is Head of Climate Impacts, you have to come up with some…

    Liked by 1 person

  52. Ben pile,
    The Economist is always promoting imperialism.
    Now it is promoting energy/climate imperialism.
    Imagine the UK, powered only by hut size solar cells. People in Kenya rolled their eyes when Obama touted the same sentiments as the Economist.


  53. There’s so much of it about.


  54. Vinny, I do agree about that young lady and the chainsaw. To add to your points about her blunt saw and dreadful technique, I noted that she had not cleared the immediate surroundings of her tree in order to provide a quick escape route if things went awry. She was foolish and lucky, and her nudity just made her seem silly albeit somewhat bold. Dr Bateman’s nudity, on the other hand, was I thought quite successful. It somehow gave her more gravitas.


  55. A cumulative theoretical framework?

    What I think the “replication crisis” is down to is far less semantically impenetrable.

    1) Results are required to succeed.
    2) “Exciting” results are required to excel.
    2) A huge amount of the slog work is carried out by students whose entire future rests on getting results, the more exciting the better, but nearly everyone in the chain is emotionally invested in obtaining those results.


  56. Suffer the little children. No, not when they’re bunking off school to promote Green garbage and global warming nonsense I won’t. They should be in school, learning, and preferably not having their heads filled with yet more Green garbage and left wing liberal propaganda, which they can recycle in public and at the school gates to any unfortunate ‘scabby children’ who turn up with the intention of actually attending class, who really aren’t that bothered with ‘saving the planet’.


  57. First it was university undergraduates. Indoctrinate them to become climate warriors , sweeping all logic and scepticism before them. Now it’s schoolchildren, enthused with climate fervour and equipt with quasi-adult slogans – saving the planet (and polar bears). Encouraged by their green parents to press their government. Watch politicians grovel with their compliance.
    What next? kindergartens? Are print shops tooling up to provide little green readers? Or maybe the ultimate – maternity wards will be redecorated so that all, from the moment of birth will be fully immersed in the true green faith.


  58. From Guido Fawkes, this is not the first Victoria Batemen has gone naked for a political cause. The examples given, with links are:-

    – She herself commissioned and posed naked for a life size portrait to “raise questions” two years before Britain voted to leave the EU.- She walked in naked to a faculty dinner to defend prostitution.- She walked in naked to a meeting at the Faculty of Economics in protest against the results of the EU referendum.- She filmed a video naked to “promote economists taking feminism into account.”- She tweeted a video of herself naked to protest the immigration bill.- She filmed another naked video to stand up for women’s rights.- She delivered an hour long nude lecture against Brexit then asked the audience to sign her naked body.

    She looks to be something of an exhibitionist.


  59. Bring back good old fashioned streakers exposing bums, tits and all in football stadiums packed with goggle-eyed men. At least they were honest about their exhibitionism.


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