Expertise

Judith Curry has a new post about the Death(?) of Expertise. It’s based on an article by Tom Nichols in which he discusses the death of expertise. I saw the article myself and had been tempted to write a post of my own. I, however, couldn’t really construct a post that wasn’t going to sound a bit self-serving, so I just gave up.

As basic summary of what I would probably have written : it is – indeed – very tempting to sometimes respond with something like “I have a PhD in physics; I’ve taught undergraduates and graduates; I’ve got lots of research experience; I’ve published lots of papers; I’ve refereed lots of papers; I’ve submitted and received research grants; I’ve reviewed research grants; I’ve sat on a grants panel; I know what I’m talking about; you don’t”. The problem with this is that it’s very clear that simply having the credentials/expertise does not mean that you know what you’re talking about. However, if I was uncertain about my doctor’s diagnosis, I wouldn’t challenge him/her with a diagnosis of my own; I’d change doctors.

So, there’s a big difference between distrusting an expert and distrusting expertise in general. In the context of climate change/global warming, the latter seems quite prevalent. There are also many who, without any real credentials, seem to think they know more than the experts. I don’t know how prevalent this is in other areas, but it does seem that – in climate science at least – there is a distrust of experts by some, and there are some who seem to think that all they need in order to understand climate science is their own common sense. A generous interpretation would be that they know so little about science that they really don’t realise how absurd their pronouncements are. There are, other, less generous interpretations.

As part of her discussion on expertise, Judith’s post highlighted the upcoming UK Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change IPCC AR5 Inquiry. Those presenting evidence to the committee are

  • Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, Grantham Institute
  • Professor Myles Allen, Oxford University
  • Dr. Peter Stott, Met Office
  • Professor Richard Lindzen, MIT
  • Nicholas Lewis, Independent Climate Scientist
  • Donna Laframboise, journalist.

The top 3 are arguably genuine experts (based on their credentials at least). Richard Lindzen certainly has the credentials, but appears to not be particularly well regarded by his peers. Donna Laframboise is a Canadian journalist who has written very critically of the IPCC. Nicholas Lewis is a self-professed independent climate scientist who has published a couple of papers about climate sensitivity, but seems to have the academic credentials of a good PhD student or a junior postdoc. That doesn’t mean that he’s not an expert, but would imply that the term has become rather inclusive.

I was, however, rather critical of Nic Lewis’s written submission to this inquiry. It comes across as an exercise in self-promotion and appears to be him complaining about the IPCC not taking his publication more seriously, and also arguing that the only appropriate method for determining climate sensitivity is that used by him. It also appears that his desire to do science is driven more by his concerns about the policy implications of the existing scientific evidence, than a genuine desire to improve our understanding of climate sensitivity.

Judith, however, says that his work will probably stand the test of time better than will the AR5 assessment of equilibrium and transient climate sensitivity. Really? Firstly, the IPCC’s assessment is based on a large number of published works. Is she suggesting that his paper is really so much better than any of the others? Also, as far as I’m aware, his paper was a new statistical analysis of existing data. He didn’t – I don’t think – generate new data from which he could then estimate the climate sensitivity. He simply used existing data and determined a much lower value than that determined by others. I don’t know whether his analysis is good or not, but this is a rather surprising result.

Judith then concludes with a comment about Donna Laframboise and Nic Lewis :

Their expertise on this particular topic does not derive from traditional paths, but nevertheless their expertise is acknowledged by many, and now by the UK Parliamentary Committee!

Personally, I think the make-up of the panel is a classic example of false balance. We have 3 experts likely representing the majority/mainstream view and 3 contrarians representing what is likely the minority view. It’s probably also slightly worse than this in that the first 3 will likely present a balanced view that will include some criticisms of the IPCC (which is clearly not perfect). The latter 3 will very likely have very little positive to say about the IPCC. Without knowing some of the background, the committee could conclude that there are many more problems with the IPCC than they would if they had chosen the witnesses more carefully.

If anything, the makeup of the witnesses to this committee is – in my opinion – an illustration of the death of expertise. It seems that if you want to be regarded as an expert (in climate science at least) choose to be a self-promoting contrarian. Being in a minority will allow you to be noticed more easily than if you were to simply try to quietly contribute to furthering our understanding of climate science (which includes the possibility of doing paradigm-shifting research). I don’t think that if you were to poll a large fraction of the climate science community about who they regarded as experts on the IPCC, I don’t think that Richard Lindzen, Donna Laframboise or Nic Lewis’s names would be prominent.

So, I’ll finish with a question. If a large group of doctors were to write a lengthy report about what we should do to treat a particular medical condition, and a parliamentary committee were to hold an inquiry into this report, would they invite a doctor who said the condition was not a problem and didn’t need treatment, someone who presented themselves as an independent medical consultant, and a journalist who equated what the doctors were suggesting as equivalent to a bank heist?

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199 Responses to Expertise

  1. Brad Keyes says:

    Great post.

    One of the most embarrassing things for me as a climate skeptic is how many people on my “side” have apparently never heard the definition of science: “Science is the belief in the knowledge of experts.”

  2. Brad, thanks. At least we seem to agree on some things 🙂

  3. guthrie says:

    I think the politicians have a lon ghistory of packing committee witnesses with people who aren’t experts or cleave to their desired side of the story. THe broader issue with the death of expertise is in wider society, where basically you can now trust the expertise of whatever lying lunatic you want (e.g. Mr Wakefield, the daily mail) no matter the consequences.

    Membership of the committee is:
    Member Party
    Mr Tim Yeo (Chair) Conservative
    Dan Byles Conservative
    Ian Lavery Labour
    Dr Phillip Lee Conservative
    Mr Peter Lilley Conservative
    Albert Owen Labour
    Christopher Pincher Conservative
    John Robertson Labour
    Sir Robert Smith Liberal Democrat
    Graham Stringer Labour
    Dr Alan Whitehead Labour

    It would take more work to find out the best person to throw some useful questions to, e.g. critiques of Lewis that would enable someone to ruin his credibility in short order.
    Topics to be covered are:

    IPCC AR5 key findings on climate change;
    Consensus and uncertainty about climate change;
    Reliability of climate models used by the IPCC;
    Areas of scrutiny (climate sensitivity, the hiatus etc.); and
    The structure and practices of the IPCC.

    You’ll not that part of that is not really science, which would also explain how a journalist can get to give evidence. At least they haven’t invited BishopHill or Tallbloke!

  4. Guthrie,
    Yes, I’m sure that the politicians are choosing the witnesses carefully (i.e., to suit the story they’d like to hear). I also agree that having a journalist giving evidence is not – in itself – something that I would necessarily question. Who that journalist is though, does make quite some difference.

  5. chris says:

    Politicians are potentially in a difficult situation with respect to climate science and its policy implications, especially in the UK where decisive decision making of the sort that world-leading countries make (compare policy response to global warming science in Germany for example), is avoided out of a sort of tremulousness.

    So I suspect that the sitting UK political parties would like to consider that interpretation of climate science is still very much up in the air with respect to policy implications, and so any policymaking can be based on political considerations rather than being driven by scientific imperatives. In that scenario it makes sense to have this sort of rat-bag mixture of the expert and the self-regarding individuals with scientifically-unjustified contrary views, so that the situation retains a pretence of lack of clarity.

    That’s my impression. It may be that the committee consider that they need to engage with some contrary points of view, and perhaps we’ll be fortunate enough to find that they have sufficient nous to recognise dismal arguments when they see them.

  6. Joshua says:

    So, there’s a big difference between distrusting an expert and distrusting expertise in general. In the context of climate change/global warming, the latter seems quite prevalent

    The distrust of experts is selective. One of the more interesting aspects of Dan Kahan’s work is where he studies how people come about their trust in expertise. Not surprisingly, he finds that people tend to trust the experts that align their their cultural, political, and social identificaitons, and distrust those who don’t. Basically – what he shows is that if someone doesn’t know the orientation of an “expert’s”: advice, they trend to trust that advice, but if they find some way of orienting that same expert as being outside their group, that same advice now becomes untrustworthy.

  7. Joshua,

    if someone doesn’t know the orientation of an “expert’s”: advice, they trend to trust that advice, but if they find some way of orienting that same expert as being outside their group, that same advice now becomes untrustworthy.

    I sometimes find myself doing the reverse. I find myself wondering about the political orientation of those who make climate-skeptic-like statements. Particularly in the UK, where there seems to be a link between UKIP and those who are vocally “skeptical” of mainstream climate science.

  8. geronimo says:

    Wotty I suggest you read Brad’s post again and think of Richard Feynmann.

  9. Tom Curtis says:

    Anders, I suspect Brad Keyes was having a go at you by misquoting Richard Feynman, who said, “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts”

    Of course, if Keyes really accepted that dictum, he would reject the dictum because (after all) his only evidence for its truth lies in the expertise of Feynman.

    A far wiser dictum is that by Werner Heisenberg, who modified an earlier dictum to read,

    “An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them.”

    This dictum avoids the cult of expertise by recognizing that experts can be wrong, they can make mistakes. They just know how to avoid some of the mistakes – the real clangers. But unlike the misuse of Feynman’s dictum, it does not erect a cult of ignorance. Expertise has real value because experts do know how to, and typically do avoid the real clangers. In contrast, amateurs (including experts in their own area, but outside their area of expertise) generate clangers at an alarming rate.

  10. chris says:

    On the death of expertise:

    One needs to be clear about which particular expertise any particular “expert” has. Scanning the Tom Nichols article you link to, it’s clear that Nichols is a self-professed expert in (his words) “a particular area of human knowledge, specifically social science and public policy.” That’s fine. However this doesn’t mean that Nichols is necessary a go-to person for expert advice on public policy, for example. No doubt he would be an ideal person for advice on current thinking from a social science perspective, or on contemporary themes in social science, and such like.

    Scientific expertise is completely different in this respect. Because scientists engage directly with the natural world, their expertise bears directly upon the precedents and consequences of effects in relation to the phenomena that they study. So the go-to people to address, for example, policy implications concerning a particularly nasty uncharacterised hospital-acquired infection and its potential spread would be microbiologists and molecular biologists that have the expertise to identify strains and determine their pathogenicity and transmissibility, epidemiologists and so on.

    Climate science and its policy implications is rather similar obviously. To understand the science it’s foolish not to consider the expertise of climate scientists; and when great numbers of the latter go to enormous lengths to produce a detailed summary of the science to date, it’s rather curious to then “decide” on the validity of the latter by consultation with assorted individuals with a seeming agenda to misrepresent the science.

  11. Geronimo and Tom,
    Yup, he caught me out there. I should have realised after his recent WUWT post, but I make the mistake of not being sufficiently critical sometimes. Brad and I had an interesting exchange over at Making Science Public and so I think I had thought that maybe that had resulted in us being able to engage honestly. I should have stuck to my earlier impression that Brad is really just a bit of an [Mod : deleted].

  12. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    I don’t think that’s really the reverse. I think it is the same thing.

    Such a pattern is based in fundamental components of human psychology and cognition – and is not likely conditional depending on where the person doing the evaluating orients on the question of whether ACO2 is concerning.

    What I find myself doing is looking at someone’s opinion, figuring out where the opinion fits within my matrix of beliefs, and they trying to either prove or disprove that opinion (to myself) based on how that opinion jibes with my own ideology. But that is human nature, and I think that science gives us tools for controlling for those biases – but only if we first acknowledge that motivated reasoning is a fundamentally human characteristic, and not simply a characteristic found in those we disagree with.

    I actually find it pretty funny that so many people in this debate think that motivated reasoning predominates only in those they disagree with. Such thinking is, for me, one of the biggest “tells” for motivated reasoing.

  13. Joshua says:

    Of course, if Keyes really accepted that dictum, he would reject the dictum because (after all) his only evidence for its truth lies in the expertise of Feynman.

    The trust of “skeptics” in the expertise of Feynman is one of the funniest aspects of the climate wars.

  14. geronimo says:

    Which of the three experts you want us to bow our knees to has more skill in foretelling the future than our cat? Nobody is challenging their expertise in what they do, we’re challenging their expertise in foretelling the future. And as such having three people who are denying their ability to foretell the future state of the climate isn’t false balance because it isn’t within their expertise to do so. Geddit now.

  15. Joshua,

    I don’t think that’s really the reverse. I think it is the same thing.

    Yes, you’re probably right. I do sometimes think “that’s a very odd view to take with respect to climate science, maybe they’re a UKIP member”. So, yes, you’re right that I’m probably trying to explain their different view as being ideological and hence finding a reason why I can dismiss it.

  16. Geronimo,

    Geddit now.

    No.

  17. Brad Keyes says:

    And the humorlessness of “non-skeptics” is another.

    Quite contrary to some of the literal-minded deductions developed upthread, I don’t *actually* believe Feynman’s definition on the basis that Feynman was such a legend. In fact my standard comeback to people who quote it—as you can see by checking out my Twitter feed—is:

    “What would Feynman know?”

    Of course all such twitticisms depend on ignoring a number of subtleties, least subtle of which is the difference between ignorance of how nature works (a condition endemic within science, and pandemic without science) and ignorance of how science works (a disease once thought to have been eradicated within science, but now tragically resurgent in some regions thereof).

  18. Brad,
    I thought my response to Tom and Geronimo pointing out the subtlety in your earlier comment was quite funny 🙂

  19. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    I think of how I read a journal article. I read through enough to orient the thesis within my existing views. If the thesis is in accord, I read just a bit more to check that the view of supporting evidence is congruent with my own (to check if the path to the thesis is different than my own), and then move on.

    If the thesis is not in accord with my own views, I then set about looking for information about why that person is arguing a view that is counter to my own. I begin to filter their reasoning through the patterns of my own reasoning to see where the fundamental incongruencies get stuck in the filter. One very important incongruency is often found in starting premises. Looking for the political roots in someone’s opinion in the climate wars is usually (although not always) a short cut for evaluating starting premises.

  20. Joshua says:

    Brad makes an excellent point:

    And the humorlessness of “non-skeptics” is another.

    One of the first things I noticed when I first started paying attention to the climate wars is how much funnier “skeptics” are than “realists.”

  21. Brad Keyes says:

    Ms Wotts,

    It shows integrity on your part to acknowledge Richard Lindzen’s expertise:

    “Richard Lindzen certainly has the credentials,”

    It’s scurrilously irrelevant that unquantified “peers” lack the same integrity:

    ” but appears to not be particularly well regarded by his peers.”

    If their enthrallment to motivated reasoning causes them to have such low regard for the expertise of someone who doesn’t agree with them, that’s their funeral. Or their cult of ignorance, as Tom puts it so finely.

    Thankfully there are still scientists, like yourself, with the intellectual honesty to give credit where credit is due.

  22. Brad,
    More irony from you? I don’t think that “his peers” would dispute his credentials. I also don’t think that not being well-regarded by one’s peers necessarily implies motivated reasoning. From what I’ve seen of his work on climate sensitivity, it appears to be very poor. I think he came up with the Iris hypothesis, for which there is – as far as I’m aware – no evidence.

  23. Brad Keyes says:

    Joshua,

    your chivalry goes a bit too far:

    “One of the first things I noticed when I first started paying attention to the climate wars is how much funnier “skeptics” are than “realists.””

    Climate humorlessness is more symmetrically distributed than I might once have thought—see the difficulties that arose among Watts’ readers on the page “The man behind ‘climate nuremberg’ explains why he thinks ‘sensationalizing’ climate claims is justified,” for example. There seems to be something uniquely witless, or stultifying, about the debate itself, no matter which “side” one is on.

  24. Joshua says:

    Brad –

    your chivalry goes a bit too far:

    You failed to recognize your own game,. 🙂

  25. Brad Keyes says:

    Ms Wotts,

    “I don’t think that “his peers” would dispute his credentials.”

    Nor do I—I’m sure they’re perfectly aware of how eminently-qualified, formidably-credentialed, extraordinarily-well-published and enviably-accomplished Lindzen is—they just don’t care.

    It’s as if they have no respect for expertise.

    “From what I’ve seen of his work on climate sensitivity, it appears to be very poor. I think he came up with the Iris hypothesis, for which there is – as far as I’m aware – no evidence.”

    1. you don’t need evidence to come up with a hypothesis. (Feynman, who was an expert, calls the process of hypothesis formation a “guess.”)

    2. you’re of course entitled to your view that Lindzen’s work on climate sensitivity “appears very poor,” but Lindzen’s extensive list of expert credentials makes it impossible for any rational, expertise-respecting person to trust your advice over Lindzen’s.

  26. Brad Keyes says:

    Joshua,

    fraid not.

    *YOU* fail to recognize that I recognized it but pretended not to. You know, ironically.

    🙂

  27. Brad,

    It’s as if they have no respect for expertise.

    I disagree. Something that I thought I made quite clear in the post was that someone’s credentials doesn’t guarantee that they’re an expert – or, at least, an expert worth listening to. So, it’s entirely reasonable to dismiss an individual despite their credentials. Dismissing an entire discipline, though, would be unprecedented.

    but Lindzen’s extensive list of expert credentials makes it impossible for any rational, expertise-respecting person to trust your advice over Lindzen’s.

    Strawman? I’m certainly not arguing that anyone should take my advice over Lindzen’s. If I’m suggesting anything, it’s that one could find a better expert than Richard Lindzen if one wanted advice about climate sensitivity.

  28. *YOU* fail to recognize that I recognized it but pretended not to. You know, ironically.

    Wish I’d thought of that when I responded to Tom and Geronimo!

  29. Brad Keyes says:

    It’s easier to “think of” comebacks if they’re true. If you have to make them up, you’ll usually wind up discovering how much of a bitch (if you’ll excuse my French) esprit d’escalier is.

  30. Brad,
    I note you said easier, but not that it wasn’t possible to think of them if they weren’t.

  31. Brad Keyes says:

    “I note you said easier, but not that it wasn’t possible to think of them if they weren’t.”

    No, of course it’s possible.

    But you have to be good.

    Most people aren’t.

  32. Brad Keyes says:

    ” So, it’s entirely reasonable to dismiss an individual despite their credentials.”

    Excellent—see, we can agree on stuff!

    “Dismissing an entire discipline, though, would be unprecedented.”

    Two in a row! Yes, nobody has ever done that. (Unless one counts bogus disciplines like phrenology, eugenics etc.) In climate science it would, indeed, be unprecedented.

  33. Brad Keyes says:

    You can read Dutch, Anders? I’m impressed.

  34. Joshua says:

    *YOU* fail to recognize that I recognized it but pretended not to. You know, ironically.

    Not plausible.

    You seem to forget that what started this chain was your ridiculous comment about the humorlessness of “non-skeptics.”

    At least Anders had the integrity to recognize that s/he failed to pick up on your irony.

  35. Fragmeister says:

    This is one quote you don’t see the climate science skeptics quote very often (sorry it’s long)

    There is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. … It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty — a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid — not only what you think is right about it; other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked — to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

    Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can — if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong — to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

    In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.

  36. Brad,

    You can read Dutch, Anders? I’m impressed.

    ?????

    Fragmeister,
    Yes, that does appear to be a very apt quote. Thanks.

  37. Joshua says:

    brad –

    Yes, nobody has ever done that.

    I know that you read comments threads in the “skept-o-sphere.”

    I read, quite often, where “skeptics” dismiss the entire field of climate science.

  38. Brad Keyes says:

    “”You seem to forget that what started this chain was your ridiculous comment about the humorlessness of “non-skeptics.””

    A comment I stand by, notwithstanding its alleged ridiculousness. “Non-skeptics” are humorless about climate-change issues. Even worse than “skeptics” (though the margin isn’t as wide as I once thought).

    “At least Anders had the integrity to recognize that s/he failed to pick up on your irony.”

    It takes integrity to own up to a very-slightly-embarrassing mistake now?

    Besides, if I apologised for failing to pick up on your irony, Joshua, it would hardly be an act of integrity, so much as lying. False confessions are considered perjury for a reason.

    [Mod : I’m really not keen on a Bradathon, so let’s drop this particularly topic.]

  39. Joshua says:

    Brad –

    A comment I stand by, notwithstanding its alleged ridiculousness. “Non-skeptics” are humorless about climate-change issues.

    My whole point was that you “stand by” such an obviously biased perspective. That you fail to share someone’s perspective on what is humorous does not mean that they fail to have a sense of humor.

    If I go to a “realist” blog, I see many jokes about how ridiculous “skeptics” are. Just as at “skeptical” blogs, there are jokes about how ridiculous “realists” are. Cartoons abide on both sides.

    Your failure to see the absurdity of your original comment only reinforces your lack of sense of humor.

    False confessions are considered perjury for a reason.

    Perjury?

    You think maybe you’re taking this a tad too seriously? You know, with an insufficient sense of humor? Your not on trial, Brad. These are blog comments, for god’s sake. Don’t take it so seriously.

  40. Brad Keyes says:

    “This is one quote you don’t see the climate science skeptics quote very often (sorry it’s long)”

    Guilty as charged—we (if you’re referring to us) don’t quote it very often. Because. It’s. Long.

    But we do quote it—or, more often, link to the original.

    I, for one, regularly invoke it as an antidote or palate-cleanser to follow the non-skeptic quote:

    “On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.”

  41. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Apologies. I didn’t see your “mod” before posting (same problem of not reading the entire post before responding).

    I’ll drop it now.

  42. Brad,
    And Stephen Schneider’s quote ends with

    This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.

    And he has a point. If I talk to the public about my research, I don’t tell them every little thing. For starters, it’s probably just too complicated and why would they want to hear me talk about all the caveats, rather than just presenting what’s interesting (and I don’t mean interesting in a deceitful way). However, my research papers are as honest as I can make them. Also, if it seems appropriate to mention caveats in my public engagement I do so. It’s always about balance and what you’re trying to do. It’s non-trivial and one always has to use an element of judgement.

  43. Brad Keyes says:

    Anders,

    ” You can read Dutch, Anders? I’m impressed.

    ?????”

    My comment makes total sense unless:

    1. you *didn’t* retweet a Dutch tweet, as your timeline led me to believe

    2. you *don’t* always read tweets before retweeting them. (I know, I know—”Retweeting Does Not Imply Comprehension,” as everyone says.)

  44. Brad Keyes says:

    Anders [wouldn’t “Andrea” be a more logical nickname?],

    “For starters, it’s probably just too complicated and why would they want to hear me talk about all the caveats”

    For starters, because as a scientist you are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that you must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts.

  45. Tom Curtis says:

    Anders, don’t confuse Brad by giving the quote context. How is he supposed to maintain his hate if he doesn’t misrepresent Schneider?

    As an aside, this is what Lindzen says about the expertise of other climate scientists:

    “One suggestion I’d make is that we stop accepting the term ‘skeptic’. As far as I can tell, skepticism involves doubts about a plausible proposition. I think current global warming alarm does not represent a plausible proposition. For 20 years – more than 20 years unfortunately, 22 by now, since ’88 – of repetition, escalation of claims does not make it more plausible. Quite the contrary, I would suggest the failure to prove the case of 20 years makes the case even less plausible, as does the evidence of Climategate and other instances of what are essentially overt cheating. “

    So, according to Lindzen 97% of other climate experts (based on credentials) are making obvious blunders (or worse), ie, they are not expert by Heisenberg’s dictum. Yet Keyes thinks it outrageous for that 97% to suggest the same.

    Given Lindzen’s penchant for mistatement of fact, and reluctance to abandon long refuted hypotheses, we can acknowledge that he is credentialed on climate, but he has sold out on his expertise.

  46. geronimo says:

    What I’ve got from this post so far:

    1. Experts can be challenged;
    2. Expertise cannot;
    3. People who describe themselves as independent scientists aren’t very good because of lack of publications (Seem to have forgotten about that patent clerk in Zurich haven’t we?);
    4. People who have 200+ publications under their belt aren’t widely respected by their peers, so must be what? Useless? Ergo Richard Lindzen joins Freeman Dyson and any other previously distinguished scientists on the scrap heap of physics because they’ve had the unmitigated gall to challenge the nonsense coming from Michael Mann and his fellow geniuses.
    5. Richard Lindzen won’t have anything nice to say about the IPCC. Foretelling the future. (He described WG1 work as a tour de force);
    6. Any old climate scientist will know more about the IPCC than a lady who has spent years studying it and published a book on it (so much for respecting expertise);
    7. Richard Feymann was a dumbo;
    8. The IPCC sensitivity must be right because it was based on more papers than Nic Lewis’ (ignoring the fact that the IPCC forecasts are wildly wrong and Lewis’ fit the observations).
    9. Some sceptics dismiss the entire field of climate science! (Joshua I see you’re into phsycological mumbo jumbo about bias etc, Take another look at what you said). How on earth can anyone dismiss a science that has 100s of disciplines within it. Back to your mumbo jumbo, that’s what you want them to do, they don’t do that Joshua there are literally thousands of lines of scientific investigation in climate science that go unchallenged and indeed admired by sceptics.

    So the only experts who have the expertise are those that agree with Wotty and her pals, all the others are faux experts with no expertise? Have I got that right? You could have saved yourself a lot of time trying to pretend you were being even handed if you’d just said that Wotty.

  47. Geronimo,
    I’m not convinced that you’re engaging honestly (actually, I’m fairly convinced you’re not).

    1. Experts can be challenged;
    2. Expertise cannot;

    1. of course. 2. No, I don’t see how that can be different from 1 – the distinction I was making was between an individual and a large group.

    3. People who describe themselves as independent scientists aren’t very good because of lack of publications (Seem to have forgotten about that patent clerk in Zurich haven’t we?);

    No, that’s certainly not what I’m saying. If you can find where I said that, go ahead. I think I said something like having the academic credentials of a good PhD student. Not very often they get called as experts in from of a parliamentary inquiry, but many are very good.

    4. People who have 200+ publications under their belt aren’t widely respected by their peers, so must be what? Useless? Ergo Richard Lindzen joins Freeman Dyson and any other previously distinguished scientists on the scrap heap of physics because they’ve had the unmitigated gall to challenge the nonsense coming from Michael Mann and his fellow geniuses.

    Nope, that’s your interpretation. It’s related to 1. Having many publications doesn’t guarantee that you’re an expert at something and that you should be regarded as someone who’s advice is worth listening to. Lindzen has credentials. I don’t think he is respected (scientifically at least) by the majority of mainstream climate scientists. Happy to be corrected if that’s wrong and it doesn’t immediately imply that he’s useless.

    5. Richard Lindzen won’t have anything nice to say about the IPCC. Foretelling the future. (He described WG1 work as a tour de force);

    Agreed, I was foretelling the future and I may turn out to be wrong.

    6. Any old climate scientist will know more about the IPCC than a lady who has spent years studying it and published a book on it (so much for respecting expertise);

    Again, I didn’t say that. Don’t think anyone else has either. Lamframboise appears to have some rather extreme views about the IPCC, though.

    7. Richard Feymann was a dumbo;

    Don’t know where you got that from.

    8. The IPCC sensitivity must be right because it was based on more papers than Nic Lewis’ (ignoring the fact that the IPCC forecasts are wildly wrong and Lewis’ fit the observations).

    Don’t know where you got this from either. I certainly didn’t say any of this. Are you just making stuff up as you go along.

    9. Some sceptics dismiss the entire field of climate science! (Joshua I see you’re into phsycological mumbo jumbo about bias etc, Take another look at what you said). How on earth can anyone dismiss a science that has 100s of disciplines within it. Back to your mumbo jumbo, that’s what you want them to do, they don’t do that Joshua there are literally thousands of lines of scientific investigation in climate science that go unchallenged and indeed admired by sceptics.

    I think Joshua meant “mainstream”, but maybe he should clarify.

    So, as far as I can tell what you got from this post is nothing like what I saying or intending to say. I guess you can take whatever you like from it. Would be nice if it was actually based on a proper reading of what’s been said but, hey, we can’t have everything.

  48. Brad,
    I don’t remember retweeting a Dutch tweet, but maybe I did. Could have been for a figure.

    For starters, because as a scientist you are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that you must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts.

    Nonsense, if I’ve got 2 minutes on radio interview, 10 minutes in from of a class of 10 year olds, 25 minutes to a group of adults, there’s only so much I can tell them. So, no I can’t include everything. It’s impossible to do so. Hence, you have to use judgement. If I thought you had any scientific credentials, or any scientific experience, maybe I’d give some consideration to your statement of how I should behave. Since it appears that you do not, I’m really not going to.

    Brad, as I’ve already mentioned, I’m not interested in a Bradathon. You’ve made more comments than anyone else. I’ll look through the rest of them and see if they’re worth posting. If not, I won’t. Also, I have an unwritten moderation rule. I don’t guarantee to post comments from someone who I’ve publicly stated to likely be just a bit of an [Mod : deleted].

  49. BBD says:

    geronimo

    the nonsense coming from Michael Mann and his fellow geniuses.

    I thought it was all perfectly clear:

    Lindzen’s various failed attempts to demonstrate physical mechanisms for a low climate sensitivity have damaged his credibility specifically in regard to claims of expertise in climate science. His incessant misrepresentations of same, alongside his unshakable insistence that S is low despite serially failing to make his case scientifically make him an exceptionally poor choice of “expert”.

    Nic Lewis has provided what is likely to be an under-estimate of TCR using methodology calculated to get a very, very low value and is now loudly claiming that everybody else is wrong, which should set alarm bells ringing.

    Donna LaFramboise has no credibilty whatsoever.

    All three are exceptionally poor choices and doubtless reflect the political goals of certain members of the panel. Mentioning no names, Graham Stringer.

  50. Joshua says:

    How on earth can anyone dismiss a science that has 100s of disciplines within it. ….

    and

    I think Joshua meant “mainstream”, but maybe he should clarify.

    If you read “skeptical” blogs, you often read comments that dismiss “climate science.” That isn’t my language, but theirs.

    My reaction is very similar to Geronimo’s – that those dismissals of climate science reflect notably unskeptical thinking.

    That’s one of the reasons why I find that many of the arguments I find at “skeptical” websites to be entirely unconvincing. Not only to I read such fallacious arguments often, I also rarely read challenges to that fallacious thinking – such as that Geronimo just offered here (unless there happens to be a “realist” hanging out there also).

  51. A new WP plugin is being developed as we speak.

    It will prompt the commenter:

    Sorry, before you can comment we just have to make sure you’ve read the post.

    It will be possible to check a box so that the plugin checks for humanity too.

  52. Brad Keyes says:

    “If I thought you had any scientific credentials, or any scientific experience, maybe I’d give some consideration to your statement of how I should behave.”

    Actually, it was Stephen Schneider’s statement of how you should behave. I just repeated it.

    To repeat, Stephen Schneider states:

    ““On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts.”

    And since you admittedly apportion consideration to ideas on the basis of the “scientific credentials, or any scientific experience” of the person bringing said ideas to your attention, perhaps you should be less cavalier in sneezing at Schneider’s advice. 🙂

    Why does a thread—which began with us agreeing—have to get so confrontational and non-constructive?

    “Also, I have an unwritten moderation rule.”

    How convenient. What, may I ask, is the point of *writing* your moderation rules when the ones you use as an excuse for censoring me always seem to be the additional, made-up ones?

    Smiley-face 😀

  53. Brad,
    If you were quoting Stephen Schneider, then it was likely out of context. Of course, in publications and scientific presentations one does present everything. I was referring specifically to public engagement, which has many different forms.

    How convenient. What, may I ask, is the point of *writing* your moderation rules when the ones you use as an excuse for censoring me always seem to be the additional, made-up ones?

    You’re threading-bombing. That’s the moderation rule you’re skirting. The one I made up was just to be snarky – Smiley-face 🙂

  54. I’m amazed Scottish Sceptic hasn’t contributed his tuppence on who are experts and who aren’t. Thankfully.

  55. jsam says:

    The reason for including spewdo sceptics i is down to, as LBJ said of J Edgar Hoover, “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.”

    The Conservatives have to pander to their own anti-intellectual tendency, and the threat of You Kip’s. The real action isn’t, of course, at a toothless Select Committee. It’s more likely to be found here, and I quote Fox News without the slightest hesitation as they’re fair and balanced*, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/01/24/bono-cameron-say-at-ap-debate-that-efforts-to-combat-poverty-climate-change/

    (Commenting is a privilege, Brad, not a right. Start your own blog.)

    * “fair and balanced” as in “flailing and unhinged”

  56. Kit,
    ScotScep is no longer welcome here, for reasons that I won’t go into at this stage.

    jsam,
    Brad has his own blog.

  57. > Why does a thread—which began with us agreeing—have to get so confrontational and non-constructive?

    Beware your wishes, Brad.

  58. Anders, thanks for picking this up. Great article by Tom Nichols. Curry’s take is rubbish.
    The comittee choice is a picture perfect example of false balance. Rather than representing the mainstream view fairly balanced (97 to 3), they make it 50 to 50. It’s just insanely ridiculous.

  59. P.S.: And on the one side they couldn’t even find 3 genuine experts (only Lindzen was in the past). It’s getting more and more ridiculous by the minute if you really think about it.

  60. Brad Keyes says:

    Anders,

    Thank you for explaining what you mean when you disapprove “thread[ing]-bombing”:

    Thread-bombing: As much as I enjoy getting comments on my posts, try to avoid bombing a thread with lots of unrelated comments. Try to stick to one conversation at a time.

    So I shall respect that and stick to the “one conversation” you and I have been having, which is about telling “promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but.”

    To avoid redundant arguments about imagined disagreements, I’d like to understand your position with absolute, adamant clarity. Who do you think is telling the truth about what scientific ethics demand:

    Feynman, when he says that, “you must do the best you can — if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong — to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it.”

    or

    Schneider, when he says that, “we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.

    I know you’re not one of those intellectually-vapid people who tries to pretend they’re both right. They can’t be. They’re contradicting each other about as explicitly as anybody could possibly contradict anyone else. So, as a scientist, you must have chosen a side.

    (Of course, credentialism would be a nice heuristic to fall back on here, if I believed in it. Feynman was 100 times more accomplished and decorated and brilliant than Schneider. But that doesn’t automatically mean Feynman is right.)

  61. Joshua says:

    willard –

    A new WP plugin is being developed as we speak.

    It will prompt the commenter:

    Sorry, before you can comment we just have to make sure you’ve read the post.

    That would cut down my comments quite a bit.

    Imagine what would happen if I were asked whether I let facts get in the way of formulating my opinions. I’d be reduced to hardly a whisper.

  62. Brad,

    I don’t see why I need to have a side, because I don’t know the context of both quotes. Here’s a link to Stephen Schneider’s article that includes the quote you mention, but also the caveat that I mentioned earlier. Also, I think what you’re asking me to do is to agree with your interpretations of those quotes, which may not be the same as my interpretations. As a summary, I think we should all be honest and we should not present anything in a way that doesn’t properly represent the best evidence available.

    Let me explain how I see my position, which isn’t all that complicated. If I’m presenting my research in a publication, then I should include as much detail as I can. I should cite other works that are relevant, including those that may disagree with what I’m presenting. Of course, there are far too many papers to include all possible papers. Hence, I have to use some judgement, but I should be able to justify my decisions. If I present my work at a conference, I should also be honest. However, a lot depends on how much time I have. If I’m giving an invited 30 minute talk, I can present much more than if I were giving a 10 minute contributed talk. Again, some judgement is required.

    If I’m talking to the general public, then it very much depends on who I’m talking to and what the reason is. Precisely what I tell a bunch of schoolkids, will differ from what I would tell adults. What I tell adults would depend on whether or not they had any expertise in my field. Also, why am I talking to them? If they’re just interested in recent developments what I present would be different to what I would present were I ever in front of a parliamentary inquiry.

    At the end of the day, I can’t see how you avoid making judgements. There’s too much information to present it all. Should someone talking to a parliamentary inquiry mention Lewis (2013)? It’s a bit of an outlier. By the same token, they’d be being dishonest if they only focused on the recent Sherwood paper. If they said, the range for the ECS is likely (extremely/very) between 1.5oC and 4oC, that would seem like a fair and honest thing to say, They might add that most studies suggest a mean value of around 3oC. Again true. They certainly could mention Lewis (2013) and that some studies suggest values below 2oC, but then they should say some suggest values well above 3oC. Overall, I can’t see how it’s actually possible to present every possible bit of evidence.

    So, let’s see Feynman’s quote. Is Lewis (2013) evidence that other estimates for ECS are wrong? It’s a piece of evidence, but does one paper that disagrees with most others suddenly become evidence for them being wrong? Not obviously so. What about Schneider’s any doubts comment. Well, as scientists we always have doubts. However, if we believe the evidence for an ECS around 3oC is strong, should every scientist always say but maybe we’re wrong whenever they present their research.

    So, to be clear. I agree with what I think Feynman is trying to say – be honest. If Schneider is saying lie so as to have an effect then I disagree, but I don’t think he is. I think he’s saying that we have to show some level of certainty when communicating to the public even if there is a small chance that we could be wrong. Saying “we think the ECS is 3oC, but it could be 1.5oC” is not very effective and would give the wrong impression as to what most would regard as the most likely value. However, if you said “the expected range is from 1.5oC to 4oC, but it is probably about 3oC”, then that would present the range, while still presenting something more concrete than would be the case if one showed more doubt.

    I don’t know if that clarifies anything.

  63. BBD says:

    So tell me, Brad, how does Schneider vs Feynman falsify a large chunk of radiative physics? Or just about everything we know about paleoclimate behaviour? Because unless Schneider vs Feynman can do that, it’s a red herring and I’m bored with fish.

  64. Rachel says:

    Great topic and great article by Tom Nichols. Yes of course we need experts and yes they’re likely to know a great deal more about their area of expertise than your average Joe. Specialisation is one of the reasons our society has been so successful. We can develop and hone our own craft whilst others develop theirs and then we trade. But this doesn’t mean we can’t question experts or that they’re some kind of infallible God. They make mistakes too but this doesn’t mean they can’t be trusted or that everything they say is wrong. I personally am more likely to trust an expert who questions his own judgement and acknowledges his own mistakes. And I see this all the time from you, AndThen, on your blog. I am more likely to dismiss an expert who is arrogant or who lacks humility.

    As for the panel of experts the Select Committee has put together. It is quite unbalanced but perhaps this is a good thing. It will give the contrarians one less thing to squawk about later.

  65. Marco says:

    So we’ve come to yet another blog where Brad decides to come with his interpretation of Schneider’s words and demand (implicitly) that all agree with that interpretation. Brad especially doesn’t like being reminded of the sentence that follows right after the part he quotes.

    But more damning: Schneider himself once wrote a lengthy piece explaining all the distortions (which includes Brad’s), which can be found here:
    http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Mediarology/Mediarology.html
    (scroll down to “The “Double Ethical Bind” Pitfall”)

  66. OPatrick says:

    Who do you think is telling the truth about what scientific ethics demand:

    Feynman, when he says that, “you must do the best you can — if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong — to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it.”

    or

    Schneider, when he says that, “we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.”

    Brad, out of interest how do you perceive Judith Curry’s evidence to the senate committee in the light of these two quotes?

  67. Joshua says:

    OPatrick –

    Indeed.

  68. Wotts, I got a message from him so have some background now.

  69. Kit,
    So, you understand why he’s no longer welcome then?

  70. The specific details were not divulged, and I had no interest in asking for them, but generally I find he holds some quite unpleasant (and irrational) views. It would not surprise me if you felt the same and for that reason alone wanted him kept off your blog.

  71. Ian Forrester says:

    Anyone who does not understand Lindzen’s misuse of scientific evidence should read this article at Skeptical Science which outlines the many many distortion of facts which Lindzen uses when speaking to politicians:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/lindzen-london-illusions.html

    No doubt this current appearance will be as dishonest as his previous appearances.

  72. Daniel Kahneman might help make sense of Schneider’s quandary:

  73. Kit,
    Probably best to leave it there 🙂

  74. Brad Keyes says:

    andthentheresphysics:

    Yes, most of what you say looks reasonable to me. Unlike Schneider’s statements, you don’t seem to have said anything that will require lengthy subsequent reclarifications, vertiginous apologetic spin or other damage control.

    Are your various questions about ECS papers alluding to Judith Curry’s testimony?

    If so, they went over my head because I didn’t hear or read Curry’s testimony.

    If not, I assume those are the kind of questions you’re saying would go through your mind when communicating the science. I believe you overcomplicate things. In arriving at your own estimate of ECS, did you take into consideration ? If so, then of course you should mention it. But if it’s a paper you didn’t read, how and why would you try to explain the paper to anyone? Your ethical obligation begins and ends with saying “there’s , but I didn’t read it because .”

    If Schneider is saying lie so as to have an effect then I disagree, but I don’t think he is.

    Schneider is saying “offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have” to have an effect. Schneider is obviously and unmistakably (if you speak English) saying be less-than-100%-honest to have an effect:

    This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.

    If you speak English, which you do, then you know Schneider is giving ethical acquiescence to a tradeoff between honesty and effectiveness. (That’s what the word “balance” means.)

    But as I’ve already pointed out, Schneider is wrong—there IS a trivially-simple formula solving this imagined “double bind”, and every real scientist knows it, so I needn’t repeat it.

    Marco:

    Brad especially doesn’t like being reminded of the sentence that follows right after the part he quotes.

    Au contraire, mon frere. I like it so much, I was kicking myself for forgetting to include it, and shall include it now just to remind everyone:

    This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.

    The call for “balance” is even more infamous in the soi-disant “skeptical” community than the section I did quote! If you haven’t seen me quoting it, you don’t follow my work nearly closely enough. I also make oblique references to the quote in my humorous works—e.g. on WUWT, where I complained about

    what I’ve gone through today and yesterday as a result of daring to stand up for scientific honesty, effectiveness and the balance between them.

    O’Patrick:

    Brad, out of interest how do you perceive Judith Curry’s evidence to the senate committee in the light of these two quotes?

    I don’t perceive it, as I didn’t hear or read it. (Being a classic skeptic, I pay more attention to what people who disagree with me say. Climate calmist evidence is of relatively little interest to me.) Sorry.

  75. Brad,

    ethical acquiescence to a tradeoff between honesty and effectiveness.

    But “I hope it means both” fairly simply means he “hopes it means both”.

    But as I’ve already pointed out, Schneider is wrong—there IS a trivially-simple formula solving this imagined “double bind”, and every real scientist knows it, so I needn’t repeat it.

    Maybe I’ve missed you make it, but I’m not convinced it’s as trivial as you imply. it may well be simple in some sense (be honest) but I don’t think there is a formula that doesn’t involve making a judgement about what to say/present and hence involves making some decisions that could be criticised. Your honesty is probably more determined by how you respond to the criticism (if you get them) than by almost anything else.

    Climate calmist evidence is of relatively little interest to me.

    By saying that, you’ve presumably made some judgement about it though. However, I think it is relevant to this discussion as I think many would argue that she did not present a balanced view of the evidence. What she presented painted a much more optimistic/calmist picture than many argue the evidence would suggest. Whatever you think of the evidence, you can’t simply ignore huge swathes of it just because it suits you to do so.

  76. Brad Keyes says:

    Bloody hell. Tag problems. I meant:

    If not, I assume those are the kind of questions you’re saying would go through your mind when communicating the science. I believe you overcomplicate things. In arriving at your own estimate of ECS, did you take into consideration [such and such a paper]? If so, then of course you should mention it. But if it’s a paper you didn’t read, how and why would you try to explain the paper to anyone? Your ethical obligation begins and ends with saying “there’s [such and such a paper whose conclusions (dis)agree with mine according to the Abstract] but I didn’t read it because [I do/don’t bother reading papers that are outliers / [dis]agree with my own interpretation of the weight of the evidence / are written by (non)experts who do(n’t) enjoy the high regard of RealClimate contributors].”

  77. Steve Bloom says:

    Logic salad from Brad: “If you speak English, which you do, then you know Schneider is giving ethical acquiescence to a tradeoff between honesty and effectiveness.”

    That’s only true if one ignores the immediate;y following sentence: “I hope that means being both.” Trivially, it’s clear that Schneider believes it can be done.

    That self-description of yours is of denial, not skepticism, BTW.

    Let’s try applying your method:

    Brad: “(D)on’t follow my work.”

    Excellent advice!

  78. BBD says:

    So another endless insinuation by BK that “climate scientists” are not honest. No evidence, no retracted papers, no torn-up paradigms, no nothing. Baseless insinuations. Spin. Polemic. There are stronger terms.

  79. Brad Keyes says:

    AndThen:

    “Whatever you think of the evidence, you can’t simply ignore huge swathes of it just because it suits you to do so.”

    Clearly not. I agree.

    “Maybe I’ve missed you make it, but I’m not convinced it’s as trivial as you imply.”

    I made it. I wrote the mathematical solution to Schneider’s no-brainer. Looking upthread, though, I see you didn’t publish it. (FWIW my solution stated, in symbols, no more or less than what Gavin Schmidt has publicly expressed in words.)

    Ian Forrester:

    Anyone who does not understand Lindzen’s misuse of scientific evidence should read this article at Skeptical Science which outlines the many many distortion of facts which Lindzen uses when speaking to politicians:

    Was this “article” you speak of written with input from Dana Nuccitelli, who’s yet to retract his false and defamatory claim that Lindzen denies the link between smoking and lung cancer?

    No thanks.

    Anyway, I don’t want to thread-bomb by getting drawn into a second conversation, so enough about Lindzen.

  80. Steve Bloom says:

    “you can’t simply ignore huge swathes of it just because it suits you to do so.”

    Um.

    May I suggest following Sou’s example of how to deal with someone engaging in 100% transparent sophistry?

  81. Rachel says:

    Brad,

    Being a classic skeptic, I pay more attention to what people who disagree with me say. Climate calmist evidence is of relatively little interest to me.

    To my mind, being skeptical means having an inquiring, reflective attitude and some self-doubt. Someone who does not question their own conclusions, or the conclusions of those they say they agree with, is not demonstrating skepticism. But please do not take this as an invitation to discuss the meaning of the word skepticism.

    This thread is awful to read. So here is my attempt to inject some humour – and this video feels appropriate – into we humourless folk:

  82. Rachel,

    This thread is awful to read.

    Yes, not one of the better ones.

  83. Steve,

    May I suggest following Sou’s example of how to deal with someone engaging in 100% transparent sophistry?

    Since this was a post about expertise and related things, I had thought that some of the earlier comments were relevant. It has, however, rather degenerated into a debate about various quotes that have probably been debated to death in the blogosphere, without it really achieving anything constructive.

  84. John Mashey says:

    Please don’t give Mortons-Demon-ridden pseudoskeptics the honorable label of skeptic, classing them with folks like Martin Gardner or Carl Sagan. Scottish (pseudo)Skeptic states:
    “This is the blog of Mike Haseler and what you may wish to know about me is that I am a Climate Scientist as I am more of a scientist than most who work on climate.”

    Dunning-Kruger remains relevant.

    One might apply similar thinking to medical researchers: ignore the evil cabal of medical researchers who invented fake statistics to link smoking and tobacco so they could get more grants. Better to listen to thinktank pundits with no medical training, who must be more credible because they are not experts. 🙂

    In the real world, people try to find real experts are and listen to them, knowing perfectly well any can make mistakes. Some people are lucky to work with or have frequent access to experts and learn from them. Others must surely live in milieu impoverished of expertise or choose venues (like pseudoskeptic blogs) displaying minimal levels of science knowledge or critical thinking.

    Some people are lucky enough to live near research universities where they could attend seminars and talk to experts firsthand … but do not avail themselves of such opportunities. Of course, some of us are luckier to have regular interaction with real experts.
    Friday had a nice reception for 25-30 of us, with a panel including Stanford Professors Chris Field and Steve Chu. Gee, why would anyone talk to people like that when one can learn all about and energy from blogs? 🙂

    Next up: Lindzen,

  85. Brad Keyes says:

    Rachel,

    I hope you don’t mind my agreeing with you on all of this:

    “To my mind, being skeptical means having an inquiring, reflective attitude and some self-doubt. Someone who does not question their own conclusions, or the conclusions of those they say they agree with, is not demonstrating skepticism.”

    Nevertheless, when people like JC articulate evidence supporting a position I’m already convinced the evidence supports, there’s little to be gained by hearing my own views reinforced. I’m much more incentivized to listen when someone articulates evidence that would, if it checks out, problematize my position.

  86. Joshua says:

    Rachel –

    To my mind, being skeptical means having an inquiring, reflective attitude and some self-doubt.

    Indeed.

    I bolded to show an element I find often lacking, on both sides of the debate. It’s a big part of the reason I put “skeptics” in quotes, as being skeptical demands a reflective engagement with self-doubt.

    It’s part of why I find Anders approach refreshing, because s/he doesn’t just pay lip service to exploring self-doubt,.

    And I dare say it’s why it can be a waste of time to engage with some “skeptics,” who lock into a pattern of deflecting self-doubt.

    I usually refer to it as a lack of “good faith” engagement, but your comment makes me think about that a bit more – as it isn’t really an expression of a lack of good-faith engagement with their interlocutor, but a lack of good faith engagement with their own self-doubt.

  87. Steve Bloom says:

    Sorry, didn’t scan all of the comments until just now and so had missed this poignant irony from far, far above:

    “[Mod : I’m really not keen on a Bradathon, so let’s drop this particularly topic.]”

  88. Brad,

    Nevertheless, when people like JC articulate evidence supporting a position I’m already convinced the evidence supports, there’s little to be gained by hearing my own views reinforced.

    But I’m unclear as to have this qualifies as skepticism. None of this indicates that you’ve actually put any real effort into establishing if the position that you’re convinced is supported by the evidence actually is. I think most active, publishing climate scientists would argue that even though much of what JC presented was probably factually correct, the picture one would draw from her testimony is not a picture that is actually supported by the evidence. Saying “sea levels have been rising for thousands of years” may be true. Failing to point out that it is currently rising about 4 times faster than it has been for most of those thousands of years would seem to be missing out a vital bit of evidence.

  89. OPatrick says:

    I don’t perceive it, as I didn’t hear or read it. (Being a classic skeptic, I pay more attention to what people who disagree with me say. Climate calmist evidence is of relatively little interest to me.) Sorry.

    Odd, because I would have thought from the way you are writing that what Curry has done, in the opinion of most here at least, is fundamentally at odds with your stated beliefs – that one should present all of the evidence, for example. Can I suggest you read it, it doesn’t take long. If you are willing to ignore the faults of people who you believe share your position then I posit that you are not a classic sceptic, though I will agree that you would be a classic ‘sceptic’.

    If you speak English, which you do, then you know Schneider is giving ethical acquiescence to a tradeoff between honesty and effectiveness.

    And you will also know from the context that this is about how best to communicate honestly with different groups. This really is not a difficult concept to understand. Using the language of science in communication with non-scientists is not effective communication. What another scientist will understand by your honest words is not the same as a non-scientist would understand by them.

  90. Brad Keyes says:

    Anders:

    since I haven’t listened to JC’s testimony, I have no idea whether she presents a good or a bad argument in favor of what I already believe. But even if her arguments are appallingly fallacious, tendentious and generally invalid, that won’t tell me anything, since hers are NOT the arguments that convinced me. I can see why YOU would be interested in listening to her, but you should likewise understand that for ME there is nothing at all at stake. (Assuming JC arrives at a calmist interpretation of the evidence, as people tell me.) The existence of a million BAD arguments in favor of a particular view would NOT mean the view itself is in the slightest trouble.

  91. Brad,
    Well I find that a remarkably unsatisfactory response. This post was about expertise and highlighted those giving testimony before a UK Select Committee. You then managed (through my poor judgement probably) to divert this into a discussion of quotes by Feynman and Stephen Schneider, the latter both being taken out of context by those who first quoted him and by you here. So, we’ve discussed your view of Stephen Schneider based on one set of quotes published in media articles (and not discussed his or any science) and yet want to ignore JC’s testimony to the Senate committee as you can’t seem to be bothered. That would seem far more relevant to this thread than anything else we’ve discussed.

    As far as I can tell, if your view is largely consistent with what JC actually presented, then whatever arguments convinced you are almost certainly arguments that are not very consistent with the scientific evidence and you should probably consider no longer pontificating about science and how it works to the rest of the blogosphere.

  92. OPatrick says:

    I can see why YOU would be interested in listening to her, but you should likewise understand that for ME there is nothing at all at stake.

    This is extraordinary. Someone is trying to argue a position that you hold is important and correct and utterly undermines that argument by doing exactly what you are criticising others for here, yet you think this is irrelevant to you? I have to wonder why you engage at all if you really don’t care about the outcomes. Surely you do care and you therefore do care if Curry is arguing your position in such a way that people are going to be justifiably more sceptical about those arguments after seeing the way she has presented them.

  93. Brad Keyes says:

    Anyway Brad would rather not have a Wottsathon (much as I enjoy our conversations) so I had better go, unless anyone else would like to say something false or illogical about my comments, obliging me to correct them? No? OK, great!—good night all!

  94. Marco says:

    Well, Brad, if you rather read stuff that problematizes your position, how about reading the link I gave to Schneider explaining his statements? It will problematize your position to the extent that any honest person would admit that he’d been misinterpreting what Schneider said for ages, despite numerous people telling him time and time again he was misinterpreting it. Are you an honest person, Brad?

  95. Joshua says:

    Observe:

    To my mind, being skeptical means having an inquiring, reflective attitude and some self-doubt.

    Compare and contrast:

    I hope you don’t mind my agreeing with you on all of this:

    and

    so I had better go, unless anyone else would like to say something false or illogical about my comments, obliging me to correct them? No? OK, great!—good night all!

    ’nuff said.

  96. BBD says:

    Another thread Braddled.

  97. Rachel says:

    Josh,

    ….as it isn’t really an expression of a lack of good-faith engagement with their interlocutor, but a lack of good faith engagement with their own self-doubt.

    I think you are right. I generally quite like debates, not the kind we have had in this thread though, but the sort that challenges my views and makes me think. But you can’t have these sorts of debates without some self-doubt.

  98. Rachel says:

    Just to avoid confusion, I know who AndThen is and he is a he.

  99. Joshua says:

    Thanks for that info, Rachel. It’s funny how hard I had to work to catch myself from making that assumption.

  100. Brad Keyes says:

    Marco,

    you ask,

    “Are you an honest person, Brad?”

    Obsessively so. I even broke my promise of doing something else, less Wotts-related, with my evening in order to read Schneider’s lengthy apologia without delay.

    Unconvincing. This kind of excuse is particularly lame…

    First, consider a movie theater marquis selectively quoting a critic as having said a movie was “spectacular,” when the critic might have actually written: “…the film could have been spectacular if only the acting wasn’t so overplayed and the dialog wasn’t so trite…” You get the idea. We see this kind of distortion in sales and advocacy, by citizens and politicians, from businesses and ideologists, in the public and private sectors.

    …since I’ve never judged his views on the basis of a single adjective, or even a phrase, or even a clause, or even a sentence, but several paragraphs of coherent text.

    I don’t see what any honest person could find ambiguous about Schneider’s ethics as revealed in his lengthy Discover talk. I found them quite clear. Wrong, but clear.

    Rachel,

    For some reason I thought AndThen = WottsUpWithThat = a female scientist and science teacher.

    Thanks for correcting me. “Anders” it is then, not “Andrea”!

    “I generally quite like debates, not the kind we have had in this thread though, but the sort that challenges my views and makes me think. But you can’t have these sorts of debates without some self-doubt.”

    And you can’t have them when the other side is only allowed to hear a fraction of what you say. *cough cough*

    Now if you’ll kindly join me in making the rest of the thread Brad-free,

    I shall bid you all a good night,

    BK

  101. Brad,
    I find this part of your comment unfortunate

    I don’t see what any honest person could find ambiguous about Schneider’s ethics as revealed in his lengthy Discover talk. I found them quite clear. Wrong, but clear.

    Well, I don’t think there’s anything ambiguous about Schneider’s ethics. Let’s leave it at that though. Good night.

  102. John Mashey says:

    Steve Schneider was a friend and his untimely death a big loss. We thought he’d dodged a cancer bullet, but he was working too hard and flying too much and it caught up with him. He was quite often misquoted, either maliciously or by those who didn’t bother to check for context or partial-quotes. He also had a great collection of hate mail, but when police wanted a copy, their spam filter kept bouncing it for obscenities.

    He was the best I’d ever seen at being able to explain complex issues to both expert audiences or general public, or the really hardest challenge, large mixed audience, because one needs simple analogies that don’t over-simplify too much to cause expert heartburn. He used to give great public lectures on the lawn outside the Cantor Arts Museum at Stanford, no slides, still great talks. That us really hard… But people still misquote him.

  103. Marco says:

    Brad, your inability to understand what Schneider wrote is no surprise. The claim you want to read things that “problematize” your ideas is actually a lie. You just interpret anything such that it *does* fit your preconceived notions. Et voilà, even less to worry about.

  104. Tom Curtis says:

    Brad’s repeated misrepresentation of Schneider is boring. It is also “dishonest” (in Schneider’s sense of the term). You see no attempt from him to “…do the best [he] can — if [he knows] anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong — to explain it.” Nor to “…put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it” regarding his interpretation of Schneider’s quotation. Nor does he include “… all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts.”

    Had he done so he would have noticed that Schneider expresses a desire to be effective, and then merely itemizes the characteristics of “effective communication” in modern media without endorsing it. He would also have noticed Schneider’s extended discussion of communication in depth as a means of being both scientifically honest (on which he agrees with Feyneman as to what is involved) and effective in communication. Nor does he provide examples of Schneider being dishonest to his interpretation of Schneider’s words is correct (for the fairly obvious reason that he will find no such examples).

    As on so many other topics, his analysis of the Schneider quote starts and ends with his determination to condemn climate scientists with whom he disagrees.

  105. dana1981 says:

    It should be pointed out that the link in the above post regarding Lindzen (to a Guardian post I wrote) doesn’t focus on the fact that Lindzen’s peers don’t think highly of him (though that’s true). It focuses on the fact that Lindzen has been wrong on every major climate argument he’s made over the past 25 years. He has credentials in the sense that he’s published a lot of papers, but at the same time, he’s been wrong *a lot*. If a mainstream climate scientist were wrong anywhere near as often as Lindzen, contrarians wouldn’t allow him to maintain any credibility. But there’s obviously a massive double standard on this issue. Climate contrarian credibility is entirely independent of climate contrarian scientific accuracy, in large part because there are so few to choose from (the beggars can’t be choosers effect). Lindzen is in fact probably the best the contrarians can do, which says a lot.

    Nic Lewis has no business being considered a climate expert. He’s published a couple papers on one subject. But again, beggars can’t be choosers. His comments on the IPCC are absolute nonsense by the way. The IPCC lowered their lower bound ECS estimate based only on the results of his paper and a couple others. If anything they gave his research way too much consideration. To argue they gave it too little is absolute absurdity.

    As for Curry, she takes an article that complains about the collapse of the divide between actual experts and fake experts, and then celebrates Donna Laframboise being treated as an expert? Well, that’s Curry for you. Absurdity coming from her has sadly become the norm.

  106. Brad Keyes says:

    Joshua,

    here is a whole article about a climate-concerned standup comedian’s groundbreaking efforts to get us to laugh about climate change, and the possibilities that CC-related humor might open up:

    http://www.rsablogs.org.uk/2014/socialbrain/laughing-climate-change/

    The article doesn’t give a single example of a CC-related joke.

    Probably for the best, really.

    I’ll happily change my mind if you can point me to some comedy on your “side.” It doesn’t have to be laugh-out-loud, http://www.climatenuremberg.com grade hilarious—just funny. Anything.

    Thanks and sorry for the digression, Mr Wotts

  107. John Mashey says:

    Lindzen makes false, defamatory comments in published articles, apparently when he thinks he can get away with it. Search each of the 4 versions of this paper @ arXiv for Demming (sic). The falsehood about Jon Overpeck get added in v3, and was carried into Euresis. He was challenged, had zero evdence for his false claim that Deming’s essay had specified Jon Overpeck, so instead of retracting or apologizing like a person of the slightest integrity, he replaced it (in v4, but not in Euresis) with an out-of-context cherry-pick from CRU emails, where the chronology makes not the slightest sense.

    In 1995, Lamb(1965)’s big MWP sketch was long gone from real climate science or the IPCC, and there was no big marketing campaign to try to present that as truth, so that Deming’s 2005 claim of a 1995 quote made no sense. Such a campaign started around 2000 and was in fever pitch by 2005, even used by the Wall Street Journal. Scientists were concerned about that, then, not in 1995, when they were just doing science, not fighting a well-coordinated anti-science PR campaign..

    Of course, the Adoration of the Lamb continues to this day.

    Somebody in Europe might want to tell Euresis that they published false claim about Overpeck, possibly rising to defamation.

    Maybe it was just honest error that Lindzen claimed that Deming’s essay specified Overpeck?
    if anyone believes that, please contact me, I have a fine collection of bridges around the world I can offer at great prices. 🙂 One should never say real skeptics have no humor.

  108. geronimo says:

    What I wrote was what I took from your blog and the posts of your supporters. If you choose to write in a style giving you plausible deniability of bias, that’s fine, but I’m telling you what I read and it was bias dressed to look thoughtful.

    As an example the three alarmist scientists (is alarmist insulting for people who are telling us the world is going to hell in a hand basket? or would “prophetic suit them better? Whatever handle you want to give them that doesn’t upset their sensibilities is OK with me) are said to be innocent men of science and expert in the IPCC, who will be only too willing to criticise the IPCC’s shortcomings should there be any. This will of course weaken the case for the IPCC because these men of the highest probity (I believe Prof Hoskins did indeed profess not to have any expertise in the papers presented to him by the CRU for consideration by the Oxburgh committee, but went on to give the Royal Society imprimatur of independently chosen papers – reluctantly I’m sure). On the other hand we have three sleaze bags (I know you wouldn’t say such a thing Wotty, nor even think it, but then you’ve got Mashey and Nuccitelli to do it for you) who will slag the IPCC off for all their worth. One a has-been professor whose published 200+ worthless papers on climate, they must be worthless because he’s “not particularly well regarded by his colleagues”. The second an “independent” scientist with a small number of publications behind him (note the double whammy, a lot of papers, not good because Gav and the boys don’t like him, too few papers not scientifically heavyweight enough). And finally the only witness who can claim any expertise in the IPCC, Donna LaFramboise who has spent years studying the IPCC and published a book on it. She’s dismissed because her many years of study have led her to believe it was telling lies about the peer review and the quality of the scientists and innumerable other shortcomings too many to mention here.

    We can have a discussion about the IPCC and its strengths and shortcomings on another day, but to be honest Wotty your character assassination of the three witnesses who had criticisms is unbecoming of you ( and now with Mashey and Nuccitelli weighing in on your side must be doubly embarrassing for someone whose image is of impeccable scientific impartiality).

    Now to “geddit” the three profs will tell the Committee that the IPCC, although there are minor flaws produces the best estimate of the knowledge climate science available at the point of publication. And they will be correct within the bounds of the IPCC which is:

    “The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.”

    I’ll bet my pension that none of these three upstanding, honest, men of honour will mention that the best estimates of the knowledge pertain only, and solely, to “understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change”. In other words it’s about human induced climate change only and this gives the Lead Authors an open remit to ignore any papers that suggest that climate change isn’t human induced. In the IPCC WG1 SPM there are a whole bunch of predictions about the future state of the climate, none forecasting a better state, all forecasting doom. They’re “projections” to the scientists and “predictions” to the politicos, and they have no more basis in fact than my prediction for next week’s lottery numbers. The three honest, open, men of science have no expertise in predicting the future but the panel will be given the impression that they can by a sort scientific mumbo-jumbo about “probabilities” and “most likelys”.

    The three sleazebags you described in your article will, of course, tell a pack of lies,
    (I don’t believe in plausible deniability I go for your meaning).

    Well I’ve got news for you Wotty, you could send in Curly, Larry and Mo to represent the supporters of the IPCC and Maxwell, Einstein and Pauli to oppose them, and the committee would still come down on the side of the IPCC. It is, after all, politics, and the committee chairman earns around £166k a year “advising” companies on climate change. So you see there’s no need for you to denigrate the opponents and big up the supporters, it’s a slam dunk anyway.

    Jeez I feel slimed being on the same thread as Mashey and Nuccitelli ( who only week ago made up a prediction by Lindzen and then rubbished it. Quality people.)

  109. Geronimo,

    What I wrote was what I took from your blog and the posts of your supporters. If you choose to write in a style giving you plausible deniability of bias, that’s fine, but I’m telling you what I read and it was bias dressed to look thoughtful.

    I write pretty much what I think. You can read as much or as little into it as you like (that’s your right as a reader) but don’t pretend that your interpretation isn’t extremely badly disguised bias.

  110. John Mashey says:

    IUOUI = Ignore Unsupported Opinions of Unidentifiable Individuals
    But given that geronimo is a frequent commenter at Bishop Hill, run by HWQDAJ, I’m deeply disappointed – others there have generated more innovative insults, as during the Woods/NAS affair:

    “John Mashey is a repugnant individual. He is one of the most repulsive compulsively dishonest people around chronically posting at various sites.
    … . I can’t even bear to read his name. Aug 6, 2011 at 6:48 AM | NICO”’

    I had not realized I had a Name of Great Power, like something out of fantasy stories. The same thread did include Shub (or Shub Niggurath sometimes), who is unfond of me also. I can understand why *he* might have a bad mood.

    But epithets from the anonymous are rarely worth noticing. Those by Will Happer and Ed Wegman were more fun, as were some of Monckton’s. I suspect {Fred Singer, Joe Bast, Murry Salby and others} have some choice ones as well, but I haven’t seen them, to add to my collection. 🙂

  111. Brad Keyes says:

    [Mod : Sorry, I’m not interested in a third party discussion about something that someone who happens to comment here has said somewhere else. ]

  112. John,

    IUOUI = Ignore Unsupported Opinions of Unidentifiable Individuals

    That’s a good one, but I have to be slightly about the irony of me using that 🙂

  113. Brad Keyes says:

    [Mod : Sorry, I’m not interested in discussing my position either. I don’t have to defend what others say and I don’t have to allow others to question what is said elsewhere. Don’t play the ref.]

  114. Tom Curtis says:

    Geronimo wants to rewrite fantasy as fact. Specifically, Donna Laframboise wrote a book in which, among other things, she chastised the IPCC for over reliance on non-peer reviewed literature. The citations of “non-peer reviewed literature” included:
    1) Citations of old scientific papers prior to the existence of peer review (such as Arrhenius 1896);
    2) Citations of earlier IPCC reports to compare current developments with previous knowledge;
    3) Citations of WG1 by WG2;
    4) Citations of WG1 and WG2 by WG3;
    5) Citations of white papers;
    6) Citations of major reports on climate change conducted by major scientific organizations, such as the Charney Report.

    Such “non-peer reviewed literature”constitute the vast majority citations of “grey literature” by Laframboise. She, however, tries to treat all of these as equivalent to citing Green Peace publicity material.

    Anybody familiar climate science, or any science with public policy implications, will know that such material is:
    a) Academically equally, or more respectable than a typical article published in a peer reviewed journal; and.
    b) Typically undergo more severe and thorough going review by peers than do journal articles, but are not “peer reviewed” only in the sense of not having been published in a peer reviewed journal.

    They would also know that academic rigour requires that you cite articles or books that you mention, even if only to dismiss the argument or to report the historical development of an idea.

    In other words, Laframboise’ methodology to test the academic qualities of the IPCC was irrelevant, and based on a clear misunderstanding of the nature of the scientific literature, and academic standards. It would not itself have passed peer review, and never has.

    The only way that Laframboise can be considered an “expert” on the IPCC given this is if she was aware of the gross misrepresentation she was perpetrating. That is, she is only expert if she is not completely incompetent (as appears), but actively dishonest. Active dishonesty with respect to your subject matter is hardly a sterling recommendation for your views to be taken seriously. So on neither interpretation is she suitable as “an expert” to comment on the IPCC.

    Geronimo is now welcome to demonstrate his own incompetence with regard to academic standards by defending Laframboise criteria for critiquing the IPCC. Alternatively, he can admist that hwich is painfully obvious to everyone else – that Laframboise has not been called before the enquiry based on her expertise, but because she is guaranteed to say something negative about the IPCC, and those calling her don’t care whether she is qualified or justified in making those statements.

  115. Brad Keyes says:

    “She, however, tries to treat all of these as equivalent to citing Green Peace publicity material.”

    Does she? In what way?

    By the way, if grey literature is perfectly respectable, why did Rajendra Pachauri spend years reassuring international media that such sources weren’t good enough for inclusion in IPCC reports?

    Finally, if I didn’t know better I might almost think this was an attempt to redefine peer review:

    ” Typically undergo more severe and thorough going review by peers than do journal articles, but are not “peer reviewed” only in the sense of not having been published in a peer reviewed journal.”

    Sorry, Tom, but if they’re not peer reviewed, they’re not peer reviewed. Scare quotes around the phrase will not avail you.

  116. Brad,
    I feel like you’re twisting Tom’s comment. Even if we wish to define peer-review very precisely, do you at least agree that there is a big difference between a previous IPCC report (which, for argument’s sake, let’s define as not peer-reviewed) and GreenPeace publicity material?

  117. Brad Keyes says:

    Yes.

  118. Brad Keyes says:

    But Tom accuses LaFramboise of concealing, eliding or denying the difference between them. (If anyone is guilty of having promoted a blanket devaluation of all non-peer-reviewed literature as being worthy of “the dustbin,” in his own words, it’s the Chairman of the IPCC.) I’d simply like some clarification about why Tom suspects LaFramboise (but apparently not the Chairman of the IPCC) of such a dodgy manoeuvre.

  119. Brad,
    Great example of trying to divert the discussion away from the crucial issue. Tom is not presenting evidence to a parliamentary inquiry. Donna Laframboise is. Donna Laframboise is known for highlighting that a reasonable fraction of the sources used by the IPCC are from the grey-literature. She is not known for pointing out that much of this grey literature are old papers (pre-peer-review), other IPCC reports, white papers, .etc. Donna Laframboise is also known for claiming that this proves/suggests that there are major issues with the IPCC procedures. Hence, she is using that they cite grey literature as a judgement. Is this justified? If most of the grey-literature is as Tom describes, then I would say no. So, let’s stick to this, rather than diverting onto something else, as that seems to be a standard strategy in these discussions and I don’t have the time or the energy to play climateball today.

  120. Rachel says:

    Geronimo tells us that “three alarmist scientists” are saying the “world is going to hell in a hand basket”. The language here is biased and misleading. As evidence, I present this really good interview with Miles Allen from the Thin Ice film (great film btw). Towards the end of it, Allen specifically says, “I don’t worry that we’re all going to get killed by this thing (climate change). I do worry that our children are not going to thank us for the headache we’re going to give them if we continue on the path we’re following because if we don’t get out of this, they’re going to have to.” I’m typing this on my phone so hopefully I got that quote correct but I do recommend watching the four minute clip.

  121. Brad Keyes says:

    [Mod: you’ve already made your point now and I don’t want any rinsing and repeating so let’s move on, thanks.]

  122. Tom Curtis says:

    Brad Keyes, care to provide a quote from Pachauri in which he says the IPCC reports only cite peer reviewed literature? Or are you trying to confuse the distinction between “citing” and being “based upon”?

    The confusion between “cite” and “based on” ignores the difference between correct academic reference and the logical underpinnings of the report. Thus, in citing Arrhenius regarding the history of the theory of the greenhouse effect, the IPCC is not basing its findings on Arrhenius. It is merely providing historical context in an introduction, and as per academic standards, citing the relevant sources for that context. Likewise when they cite the Charney Report for the definition of Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity, they are not relying on the Charney Report in determining the value of ECS, only giving due credit for the useful concept. This distinction seems to pass you by completely.

    Further, even if we allow, for example, that the IPCC WG3 relies entirely on WG1 for the assessment of the “scientific basis”, and cites WG1 for that purpose – that does not mean in those citations that it is not basing itself on peer reviewed science – for the WG1 report is based on peer reviewed science. In like manner, when relying on White Papers, Reports by major scientific organizations, etc, the IPCC is again relying on peer reviewed science because those reports also rely on peer reviewed science.

    This does not mean that the IPCC has not “relied” on genuine grey literature, ie, literature that not only has failed to be published in a peer reviewed journal, but has failed to have significant review by scientific peers in its process of publication. It has so relied, however, only in WG2 (to a limited extent) and in WG3. Pachauri was simply wrong in his less careful statements. However, Laframboise does not distinguish these genuine cases of reliance on potentially (and in one case certainly) unreliable material and those other cases in which the IPCC was working to the very highest standards. Rather, she blurs the distinction. That is either because she cannot make the distinction, ie, is incompetent on the subject of her supposed expertise; or because she can make the distinction and chooses to conceal it, all the better to tar the IPCC, ie, she is dishonest.

    So Brad, seeing you have bought into this – can you make the distinction? If so, say so and state clearly that Laframboise is not after all expert on the IPCC. Or alternatively, say the distinction is not relevant, and show that you are incompetent on this subject as well.

  123. Marco says:

    “but are not “peer reviewed” only in the sense of not having been published in a peer reviewed journal”. Read that again, Brad. The IPCC reports are not published in a peer reviewed journal, and it is therefore that the citizens audit declared the IPCC reports “not peer reviewed”. But of course the IPCC reports *were* peer reviewed. It was thus a very narrow definition.

    Brad also tells us that “Pachauri spend years reassuring international media that such sources [grey literature] weren’t good enough for inclusion in IPCC reports”. This is, and are we surprised to learn that?, yet again a Brad Keyes misinterpretation of what someone, in this case Pachauri, has said. At no time has Pachauri claimed that the grey literature was not good enough for the IPCC reports. Of course, grey literature is often also peer reviewed, albeit again in different ways than the peer reviewed journals do.

  124. Brad Keyes says:

    Marco believes that…

    “At no time has Pachauri claimed that the grey literature was not good enough for the IPCC reports.”

    …despite the extremely easily-googled fact that the IPCC Chairman had made all of the following statements:

    People can have confidence in the IPCC’s conclusions… Given that it is all on the basis of peer-reviewed literature… This is based on peer-reviewed literature.

    I’m not sure there is any better process that anyone could have followed. That’s the manner in which the IPCC functions.

    We carry out an assessment of climate change based on peer-reviewed literature, so everything that we look at and take into account in our assessments has to carry the credibility of peer-reviewed publications, we don’t settle for anything less than that.

    IPCC studies only peer-review science. Let someone publish the data in a decent credible publication. I am sure IPCC would then accept it, otherwise we can just throw it into the dustbin.

    IPCC relies entirely on peer reviewed literature in carrying out its assessment. The IPCC doesn’t do any research itself. We only develop our assessments on the basis of peer- reviewed literature. This is the key document on climate change, and from now on you can forget any others you may have read or seen or heard about. This is the one that matters. It is the tightly distilled, peer-reviewed research of several thousand scientists. The [IPCC] process is so robust – almost to a fault—that I’m not sure there is too much scope for error. Where there are gaps we are very candid in admitting we don’t know enough about this subject. This is based on peer-reviewed literature. That’s the manner in which the IPCC functions. We don’t pick up a newspaper article and, based on that, come up with our findings.

    IPCC relies entirely on peer reviewed literature in carrying out its assessment… The IPCC bases its work on papers that have been published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. The IPCC does not do scientific research itself, but builds its assessments on peer-reviewed and published scientific papers.

    Marco will always believe the IPCC leadership has never made the above claims; I will always quote the above claims to Marco; and so it will always go, until the days of the last men and the heat death of the World-tree as foretold by the great physicists.

    By the way, nobody in the IPCC makes the above genre of claim anymore. If I didn’t know better I’d almost interpret this as proof that LaFramboise’s work proved the IPCC leadership’s advertising false, the leadership knew it, and adjusted its rhetoric accordingly.

  125. Tom Curtis says:

    Marco, Pachauri has said some fairly dubious things about the IPCC and peer review. Typically, he is careful and states only that the IPCC is based on peer reviewed science – which is correct. Once or twice, however, he has said that it has only used peer reviewed literature, which is not correct. It is also in disagreement with the stated IPCC procedures, which allow for the use of non-peer reviewed literature. On one occasion he even said that a review article could not be included in an IPCC assessment because it was not peer reviewed, which is again not correct. It is also beside the point regarding Laframboise either inability or unwillingness to make two crucial distinctions (between mere citation, and actual reliance; and between high quality, and heavily reviewed literature that happens not to be peer reviewed according the the specific formal process used in journals, and potentially low quality literature in the form of journalistic articles, and NGO reports).

  126. Just for interest, I think that some of the quotes that Brad includes is from this speech. As Tom points out, though, it may well be that Pachauri has not always phrased things as clearly as he could have. Personally, I don’t really care. To quote my moniker : and then there’s physics.

  127. I’m starting to think that a suitable rallying cry for climate “skeptics” is pedants of the world unite. I can just imagine what they’ll be saying in 10/20/30 years time : “Yes, we know the world has warmed as expected and we accept that we should have acted sooner, but Pachauri said they only used peer-reviewed papers in the IPCC reports and they didn’t”.

    Apologies if that seems unduly snarky, but I have a headache from discussing all these largely irrelevant aspects of this topic.

  128. Rachel says:

    Contrarians do seem to waste an awful lot of energy analysing isolated quotes from various people and very little time discussing the actual science: “But Schneider said…”, But Pachauri said…”, “But Dana said….”. It’s very trivial really when compared to the bigger picture and is just a distraction.

  129. Lars Karlsson says:

    After reading (most of) Donna Laframboise’s first book, I would characterize her as a propagandist rather than as an expert.

    A quote:

    “No matter what they said the problem of the moment was – over-population, ozone depletion, acid rain, global warming – environmentalists have long advocated the same basket of solutions.
    These solutions amount to humanity forsaking industrialized society and a good measure of individual freedom. Apparently the answer is a return to Eden – to a slower, greener, more, ‘natural’ pace of life that embraces traditional values rather than mindless consumerism.”

  130. verytallguy says:

    I have a headache from discussing all these largely irrelevant aspects of this topic.

    A suggestion: moderate first, discuss later. At the moment you seem to be drawn to discussion before moderating, which allows easy thread-jacking.

    On topic, I think I’ve said before, but it perhaps bears repeating, that there is a very clear, simple and effective strategy to discredit climate change ongoing in UK politics. Osborne, Lawson, Lilley are front and centre, Paterson alongside.

    The false balance in the attendees is obvious and the choice of witnesses will give excellent soundbites for the Mail, Telegraph, Sunday Times and other publications owned by oligarchic press barons, all of whom are themselves notable climate change deniers (Rothermere, Barclays, Murdoch)

    What price democracy? We’d know from the accounts of the charity(!) GWPF if they published their donors.

    Yours curmudgeonly etc…

  131. verytallguy says:

    Lars.

    I would characterize her as a propagandist rather than as an expert.

    Yes, that’s *why* she’s been invited. And an excellent quotable polemicist to boot. Perfect for Lilley.

  132. Brad Keyes says:

    As to the notion that “what he said” and “what she said” are red herrings, and that (now that I’ve proved my point) we should never have digressed from “the science” in the first place, I’ll simply say:

    There is no science without honesty.

  133. OPatrick says:

    It’s remarkable that we still manage to get sucked in to these discussions after all this time. Everyone of us knows exactly how it goes – any possibility of a crack into which a knife edge can be forced will be exploited for all it’s worth. It is obvious from the first comment how this would go. So, ignoring utterly my own words….

    Brad asks of Tom:

    “She, however, tries to treat all of these as equivalent to citing Green Peace publicity material.”

    Does she? In what way?

    I’d say that is exactly what she is doing here:

    Contrary to statements by the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the celebrated 2007 report does not rely solely on research published in reputable scientific journals. It also cites press releases, newspaper and magazine clippings, working papers, student theses, discussion papers, and literature published by green advocacy groups. Such material is often called “grey literature.”

  134. followthe$ says:

    I’m with Brad.
    Anyone who gets their beliefs challenged will get upset.
    The game is up – more so now with the inevitability of a cooler world.

  135. Brad,

    There is no science without honesty.

    Nonsense.

    followthe$

    more so now with the inevitability of a cooler world.

    Also nonsense.

    VTG,

    A suggestion: moderate first, discuss later.

    Good idea.

  136. Just to be clear, after my rather curt previous response, of course science requires honesty and good science is honest. Showing, however, that something that someone said may not be 100% accurate does not immediately invalidate all of science, or any science. Saying there is no science without honesty is just a trite soundbite from someone who appears to have no scientific training or experience whatsoever. Even in real science, you don’t disprove someone’s science by showing that they have a tendency to be dishonest. You do so by showing that their scientific ideas are wrong.

  137. Steve Bloom says:

    Anders, if you keep allowing these *frequent* garbage threads I’m just going to stop viewing the comments at all. Too bad, since there’s often much of interest.

  138. followthe$ says:

    Nonsense?
    A one-word refutation.
    Peer reviewed obviously and you are the peer.

  139. BBD says:

    Even in real science, you don’t disprove someone’s science by showing that they have a tendency to be dishonest. You do so by showing that their scientific ideas are wrong.

    Which is why the contrarian leitmotif is an endless insinuating whine that there’s dishonesty tainting “climate science”. Contrarians have no scientific counter-arguments whatsoever; no science showing that the standard position is wrong; nothing. So insinuations of dishonesty are all that remain. It’s pathetic, really, but also very nasty.

  140. verytallguy says:

    To further build on ATTPs comments on honesty.

    There is *no* assumption in the scientific process that scientists are honest. Indeed, the opposite is true – the generally held requirement that results should be repeatable is intended to capture dishonesty, as well as the much more likely incompetence.

    There is also no reason that scientists should be expected to be nice people. We in fact have a long and inglorious history of scientists behaving extremely badly, exemplified by the most influential scientist of all time, Isaac Newton, who appears to have been an obnoxious grudge bearing sonofabitch.

  141. BBD says:

    followthe$

    ATTP is correct. Please see Feulner & Rahmstorf (2010).

    Some discussion here.

  142. followthe$
    Firstly, I used two words “also nonsense”. Secondly, that was much more than a comment saying “the inevitability of a cooler world” deserved.

  143. Joshua says:

    Brad –

    I’ll happily change my mind if you can point me to some comedy on your “side.”

    1) Your argument is absurd on its face value. Those arguing on both sides share vastly more attributes of human nature than those they don’t share.

    2) Your request displays a weak approach to logical discussion. Pointing to “some comedy on [my] side” would not make a logical argument, it would make an exchange of anecdotes as a poor substitute.

    So that all said, I see little point in responding to your request.

    However, because you seem to be stuck in an overly-serious mindset w/r/t this discussion (i.e., your hyperbole about “perjury”), I will leave you with a couple of entirely unrelated and hilarious video clips to cheer you up a bit:

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-january-6-2014/war-on-carbon

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-january-6-2014/war-on-carbon

    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/431918/january-07-2014/donald-trump-and-fox—friends-vs–global-warming

  144. followthe$ says:

    Thank you BBD for the link and your reassurance of ATTP’s fidelity.
    I have read through the article and subsequent comments.
    I have to say that many of the commentators are not as confident as you appear to be.
    “Correct’ is not a scientific term; Nothing is certain until it’s certain.
    Even then it is not ‘certain’.
    I am encouraged that the ‘Anthropogenic CO2 is killing us’ meme is not as obvious in this article as it is in other reviews.

  145. followthe$ says:

    “Firstly, I used two words “also nonsense”. Secondly, that was much more than a comment saying “the inevitability of a cooler world” deserved.”
    AATP, really … I apologise, you are right. It was a two word sentence in which you dismissed my contribution. I’m not sure what you mean by “deserved”?

  146. BBD says:

    I have to say that many of the commentators are not as confident as you appear to be.

    Then they need to look again at the relative forcing change that results from a Maunder-type minimum and from >500ppm CO2.

    I found this interview with Mike Lockwood about the LIA and solar minima for you. Lockwood’s research confirms F&R10.

  147. verytallguy says:

    ATTP, the dissonance of :

    inevitability of a cooler world.

    and

    Nothing is certain until it’s certain.
    Even then it is not ‘certain’.

    whilst comedic, might be reasonably considered in breach of

    Being disruptive:

  148. followthe$,
    Seriously? Partly, because this has been one of those irritating threads where very little constructive has been achieved and so I’m feeling rather stroppy. Also, because there is virtually no evidence to support the statement “the inevitability of a cooler world” unless you mean “there will be years in the future that are cooler than years today” which is likely to be true, but only trivially so. If you mean that we will enter a lengthy phase of global cooling, then there is virtually no evidence. For that to happen would require us to substantially reduce our CO2 emissions, or for the Sun to get less luminous than it has been for centuries (ever maybe), or for radiative physics to be wrong in some relatively major way, or something we’ve haven’t considered/predicted might happen (maybe a major volcanic eruption or asteroid impact). None of this would seem to support the “inevitability” that you used in your statement.

    If you wish to have a serious discussion about the science associated with global warming (or cooling) then that would be encouraged. If you’re simply going to make statements that appear to have no basis in scientific reality, then expect short responses – if anything.

  149. John Mashey says:

    ATTP: on IUOUI
    “ATTP” is easily identifiable, not to a meat-world identity, but as an owner of a blog with a long track record in virtual world.
    I am reasonably confident that the blog posts and comments made under ATTP or early Wotts are all the same person, that the posts support a claim to be a physicist, and that there is a consistent approach to factual data.

    Internet identity and meat-world identity are not the same, and pseudonyms have a long history of being able to build reputations for better or worse.
    Some Internet handles tie directly to clear real world identities, or at least via some consistent mechanism to the same {Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook} account.

    Some handles may in fact be real names … But useless:
    billsmith doesn’t help much.

    billsmith963 might at least build an Internet identity, especially if they have a blog or website, too, but even if they comment often enough.

    bill may be correct, but almost totally useless, because several different people in the same thread may use it, and it is really hard to correlate between blogs.

    Anonymous is even worse: threads with 2-3 of them degrade fast, and I stopped reading anything posted that way, because they wont even bother giving a unique handle, so I assume they just want to waste people’s time.

    I may have no idea of someone’s meat-world identity, and still consider their Internet handle to be usefully identifiable and accumulate credibility assessments, plus or minus.

    I’ve just been going through this analyzing the hundreds of commenters on the SalbyStorm, especially when trying to cross-compare between a handful if different blogs. There are some ambiguous cases, where I really can’t tell if posts are made by the same person. There’s at least one case where I am sure the same person used two different handles in different blogs, with very different styles.

    So, ATTP is far from unidentifiable … for someone who had to deal with computer identity issues starting 40 years ago and is find of Vernor Vinge’s True Names.

    Unidentifiable better fits some of those I’ve once described as, akin to the modern version of “Dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.” Ie:
    As the Abrams tanks roll through the desert, while lost in the dunes, unnamed rabid, toothless Chihuahuas howl their rage and fury at the tanks. The tanks roll on.

    Of course, “unidentifiable” is not required to decide some handle is worth ignoring forever after. In the USENET days, I accumulated a large KILLFILE, for which I set a high bar for entry, but once in, never removed a name. I’ve been on online public discussions for nearly 30 years, and one has to manage the signal-to-noise ratio.

  150. Brad Keyes says:

    Anders,

    This is self-explanatorily true:

    “Showing, however, that something that someone said may not be 100% accurate does not immediately invalidate all of science, or any science.”

    But because the practice of science requires honesty, a dishonest person is incapable of science. So there’s no need to check their science to confirm that they’ve failed to do it properly. They can’t possibly do it properly, so we can safely skip the tedium of hunting for lies in their work.

    Therefore, if a “climate denier” (for example) were to claim that a prominent “climate believer” was a convicted human trafficker, yet this claim had zero evidentiary excuse for being made, yet the “denier” refused to back down from it when asked for evidence, then we would know to a certainty that the “denier” in question had no internal psychological compunctions against lying. (We would then be under no obligation to even read anything the “denier” published, inside our outside the scientific literature.)

    Psychology is a great time-saver.

  151. followthe$ says:

    Well it looks as if it’s all settled then.
    Not much point in introducing anything into your cosy club as it may be ‘disruptive’.

  152. andrew adams says:

    followthe$,

    If you make an assertion and provide no evidence or even an argument to support it then why is anyone obliged to provide evidence to refute it?

  153. jsam says:

    Maybe followthe$ could tell us who funds the GWPF.

  154. Brad,

    But because the practice of science requires honesty, a dishonest person is incapable of science.

    This is only true if they’re dishonest always and about everything. Simply showing that an individual has a habit of being dishonest does not immediately mean that they are incapable of solving one of the greatest scientific puzzles of all time. So, I disagree. Psychology as used to determine if one should consider if someone’s science is sound is not a time saver at all. Why? Because you’d have to do the psychology and then still show what was actually wrong with the science (unless it’s so obviously wrong that it can be ignored, which you could do without the psychology anyway).

    I also don’t understand your human trafficker analogy. If someone makes a claim that they can’t back up with evidence, it fails because there’s no supporting evidence, not because the person was potentially lying.

    followthe$

    Well it looks as if it’s all settled then.

    No, not really. Maybe all of radiative physics is wrong. Then again, maybe (probably) not.

  155. BBD says:

    Even if you do provide evidence, its validity is *denied* – without any actual analysis and substantive counter-argument. See above. Waste of time.

  156. verytallguy says:

    Brad:

    This is self-explanatorily true:

    Anyone who has ever lied is dishonest
    Everyone has lied
    All scientists have lied
    We should ignore science

  157. Joshua says:

    VTG –

    If I might offer an alternative – to extend Brad’s logic.

    Anyone who has lied is dishonest
    Everyone has lied
    All scientists are people.
    All scientists are dishonest
    There is no such thing as science.

  158. Marco says:

    Brad (and Tom), grey literature can be peer reviewed and thus part of the peer-reviewed literature. The Fourth International Conference on Grey Literature (1999) definition of grey literature has as the only major difference to scientific journals that the publication is not controlled by commercial publishers. To be precise, it defines grey literature as “That which is produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats, but which is not controlled by commercial publishers.”
    Nada about “peer review”. Heck, the IPCC reports are grey literature, and anyone denying they are peer reviewed has a few screws loose.

    It should be noted that LaFramboise went yet another step further and proclaimed any and all books “grey literature”, which simply does not fit with the definition and my own experiences of having my book chapters reviewed (and getting those of others reviewed when I was Editor). So, these peer reviewed items have become LaFramboisian “grey literature”.

    In other words, before people start making blanket statements about grey literature they might want to explain how they define grey literature and also make sure this fits with the definition used by the person they attack.

  159. Brad Keyes says:

    “I also don’t understand your human trafficker analogy. If someone makes a claim that they can’t back up with evidence, it falls because there’s no supporting evidence, not because the person was potentially lying.”

    Yes, but when the “denier” persists in making such a heinous allegation despite [knowing there is] no evidence that it’s true, he or she exhibits his or her freedom from the conscientious constraints all honest people are governed by.

    I take your point—and I stand corrected—that this psychopathic defect is no obstacle, in and of itself, to the “denier’s” validly solving a great scientific puzzle. (So I should have thought this part through a bit more carefully—the deduction is rather more involved than I thought.)

    However, importantly, a psychopath is, by definition, also free to “solve” puzzles dishonestly—by cherry-picking, false reporting, or an almost infinite variety of means unavailable to those of us who are handicapped by our ethical faculties. A “denier” has no internal disincentive against cheating if he’s a psychopath—though the risk of eventual exposure (in a healthy, self-correcting science) is sometimes an effective external disincentive.

    The upshot is that any “solution” proffered by a “denier” is just as likely to be bogus as kosher if he or she happens to be a psychopath. (In fact, the harder the problem, the more likely it is to be bogus, all other things being equal.)

    This means that the existence of the “solution” itself provides only weak evidence that the problem has been “solved” at all. To simplify, it is “impossible” for us to “trust” any aspect of a psychopath’s science. Not only would we be compelled to suspect human error at every turn—as we do for any paper by any scientist—but we’d have to wonder if deliberate falsehoods were introduced on top of them! Not only would we be obliged to ask whether the Conclusions followed logically from the Observations, a question we must ask with any paper, but we must also wonder whether the “Observations” were ever “observed” at all.

    In short, if the “denier” is a psychopath, then it would virtually be just as quick for us to redo the whole study from scratch as to satisfy ourselves that it should pass peer review.

    So if a “climate denier” is a psychopath, he might nevertheless be able to “do” science, but his work will never be particularly *useful,* because no properly skeptical reviewer could “believe” anything it said in good conscience. Sure, full-scale replication of the study could settle the matter of whether the original was falsified—but if we need to go to that much effort, what’s the use of the original at all?

  160. Brad,
    I take your psychopath and raise you the scientific method.

  161. Brad Keyes says:

    Joshua,

    we seem to be talking at cross purposes. I do NOT question the received wisdom whereby climate “believers” are thought to be multidimensional beings who probably share more than 99% of their DNA with normal people, and even exhibit virtually as good a grasp of humor as the general population, though I do understand why glib generalisations on my part, like “your side has no sense of humor,” would have led you to read my views otherwise!

    All I meant—and I trust you’ll find this prejudice somewhat less gobsmacking—is that when it comes to the topic of climate change people on your “side” are even less capable of reading and writing jokes than people on my “side.” Not on any other topic—just on this one. I know, for a fact, that some of my favorite comedians are climate-concerneds. Mitchell and Webb make no secret of it. And my favorite comedians are brilliant comedians—in fact, they’re the most brilliant comedians of all, which is why they’re my favorites. They just can’t tell a joke about climate change if their lives depend on it… unless, of course, the joke takes my “side’s” point of view, in which case it’s occasionally quite good. I do remember a few effectual gags by Jon Stewart on climate change—all of them “skeptical” in their implications.

    Thanks for the links—I’ll be very relieved to acknowledge that I was wrong as soon as I encounter an example of a joke that is:

    1. funny
    2. about climate change
    3. “concerned” rather than “apathist” in its gist

    Granted, there is some small element of subjectivity in these criteria. (Just in case there is some suspicion of inter-rater variability, you can tell me specifically what jokes YOU consider to meet these conditions, and we can hash it out from there.)

  162. Brad Keyes says:

    Joshua:

    this premise isn’t true:

    “Anyone who has lied is dishonest”

    It’s much too simplistic.

    First, it elides the difference between past bad acts—didn’t we all lie when we were kids?—and present character.

    Second, it’s context-blind. Lying to one’s spouse—in furtherance, say, of a vast, family-wide conspiracy to surprise him or her on his or her birthday—does not taint a scientist’s honesty qua scientist. It doesn’t count against it in the slightest.

    By contrast, any scientist who lies about nature, the scientific method, his or her science, another scientist, another scientist’s work, or anything along these lines, whether in the lab, in a paper, in a grant application, in public speaking or debate about nature/science, etc. is clearly compromised in a way the surprise-birthday-conspiring spouse isn’t.

  163. Brad Keyes says:

    Anyway, guys, it’s been a blast and but I must love you and leave you. I wish you a happy post-Bradathon!

  164. Brad,
    But isn’t that a great illustration of the complexities of this (or any) topic. We can define “lying” as not telling the truth, but we all accept that there are occasions where it would be acceptable and others where it is not. Defining these is what is hard. Similarly, we can define gray literature but deciding which is acceptable to use by the IPCC is non-trivial. So, any attempt at a black and white definition of what is acceptable and what is not will stumble when we encounter a subtlety where it’s no longer trivial to determine if something was acceptable, even if it satisfies one of our original definitions.

  165. Joshua says:

    Brad –

    All I meant—and I trust you’ll find this prejudice somewhat less gobsmacking—is that when it comes to the topic of climate change people on your “side” are even less capable of reading and writing jokes than people on my “side.”

    Not really. It suffers from the same confusion of fact and opinion, and reflects a similar display of poor logical reasoning. Your anecdotal observations, in particular given your partisan alignment, should be viewed in the context of it’s obvious implausibility. You need to collect the evidence first, in a way that controls for your bias, to support statements such as those that you’ve made. Post hoc attempts to winnow the context don’t solve the basic logic problem.

    For example, you acknowledge the subjectivity of your terminology – but try to reduce it’s importance in a non-scientific manner.

    Let’s look at one specific:

    3. “concerned” rather than “apathist” in its gist

    That is entirely subjective, and on top of that particularly problematic because you don’t even offer a definition of terms. The definition of those terms lies at the very root of your claim (the distinction of side).

    Granted, there is some small element of subjectivity in these criteria.

    “Small element of subjectivity?” Seriously? They are subjective at their very root. By definition.

    Is Jon Stewart not “concerned?” Your argument makes it clear that you have determined, with total certainty, that he is not (because if he were, then your entire argument fell apart before you even started to construct it). How do you know this to be true? How do you define “concerned” in such a manner as to support your confidence? How did you measure his “concern” and find it completely absent? And all this on top of: (1) the subjectivity of determining what is funny and (2) the subjectivity of moving between what is “funny” and whether or not someone has a sense of humor, (3) how to objectively determine whether they have a sense of humor on one subject that differs from their sense of humor on other subjects, (4) how you objectively determine whether one is funny, or whether they have a sense of humor, based on limited evidence that obviously comprises only a tiny, tiny fraction of what they communicate

    And that is only one specific. There are many similar in your argument.

    Brad – this is absurd. You engaged in hyperbolic overreach. It isn’t a big deal. It doesn’t define you. It doesn’t define your logical abilities. It doesn’t define the logical character of your participation in these debates (which I agree with more often than you probably realize). It makes you human. Fess up. Remember, it isn’t so much the crime (hyperbole, brad, you didn’t really commit a crime – I’m not taking this seriously, these are only blog comments for god’s sake), it’s the coverup that’s the problem. You’re trying to put a finger in the dyke to stop a massive breach. It won’t work.

  166. Joshua says:

    Brad –

    this premise isn’t true:

    “Anyone who has lied is dishonest”

    Yes, of course. That was the whole point.

  167. Joshua says:

    How many times does this make, now, that Brad has “left?”

    One of the funnier aspects of the climate wars is how often people claim to “leave” only to very shortly thereafter prove that they haven’t.

    You do agree that is “funny,” don’t you, Brad?

  168. Joshua says:

    Brad –

    “And the humorlessness of “non-skeptics” is another.”

    Post-hoc winnowing.

    It’s always the coverup.

  169. Brad Keyes says:

    Joshua,

    Of course I admit my generalisation was gross in truthiness, anecdotal in provenance, subjective in nature and unscientific in genre.

    Also, yes, I’m fully aware of where Jon Stewart sits on the climate-change issue, and it isn’t on my “side.” But he apparently has a diverse writing staff. Someone who supplies his material is evidently rather cynical about the climate cause, because Stewart has told some good “skeptical” jokes about it. Has he told any good “concernedist” jokes? Not that I’m aware—but again, I’m open to finding one. (As soon as I can tear myself away from here.)

    I don’t think my generalisation was *wrong*.

    I’ve never seen, and nobody’s even asserted the existence of, “concernist” climate humor anywhere near as good as Iowahawk’s David Attenborough piece. Have you read it, and do you think it has any equal on the “concerned” “side”, in your necessarily subjective, idiosyncratic, intangible, unmeasurable assessment?

    Finally, why is it a priori implausible to you that “warmist” comedy should be so lacking?

    Do you find it a priori absurd when I submit that atheists tell better jokes about religion than religious people tell about atheism??

    Because it’s not. It’s not even incorrect. It’s a fact.

    We’re not talking—I repeat—about a difference in GLOBAL humorfulness between the two “sides.” We’re talking about their ability to say funny things IN THIS CONTEXT, an ability which is constrained by many factors, including taboos, solidarity to a cause, social consequences, employment ramifications, etc.

  170. Brad Keyes says:

    Joshua,

    this premise isn’t true:

    “Anyone who has lied is dishonest”

    Yes, of course. That was the whole point.

    Great. Misunderstood. Debating on plural fronts at the moment.

    One of the funnier aspects of the climate wars is how often people claim to “leave” only to very shortly thereafter prove that they haven’t.

    You do agree that is “funny,” don’t you, Brad?

    No, the phenomenon itself isn’t funny (few are), but I can certainly imagine someone with an aptitude for humor saying something funny about it.

    I keep coming back because people keep asking me things or expressing confused opinions of my writing. If you people could somehow stop thinking about me and change the topic, I’d be doing what I planned to do with my night. Easier said than done, of course—and I don’t have the answers. I know how electrifying people find me. Maybe you could talk about the weather?

  171. Joshua says:

    Brad –

    Finally, why is it a priori implausible to you that “warmist” comedy should be so lacking?

    I find a great many reverse engineered gross characterizations made in the climate wars to be highly implausible for two basic reasons:

    (1) what we know about human nature (and that humans are not easily divided by superficial characteristics in ways that align with particular beliefs on controversial issues that overlap with political, cultural, and social identifications

    (2) what we know about motivated reasoning, which leads people to make implausible gross generalizations related to superficial characteristics of human beings in ways that align with particular beliefs on controversial issues that overlap with political, cultural, and social identifications.

    It isn’t the particular generalization that you’ve made that I find problematic, it is the pattern where smart and knowledgeable people on both sides of the debate stare down well-established science related to how people reason in these types of polarized contexts and still make generalizations that ignore abundant evidence and that display a lack of application of their analytical capabilities.

  172. Brad,
    This very funny cartoon may be appropriate at this juncture.

  173. Brad Keyes says:

    Anders:

    “We can define “lying” as not telling the truth, but we all accept that there are occasions where it would be acceptable and others where it is not.”

    The difficulty of adumbrating a crystal-clear line between “acceptable” and “unacceptable” does not imply any difficulty in saying which side of the line almost any example falls on.

    We don’t need to philosophise about minutiae to know, without hesitation or doubt, that a “denier” who knowingly persisted in falsely accusing a “believer” of being a warlord, heroin dealer or human trafficker (or, more relevantly, serial pederast) would by definition be a dishonest person.

    If (hypothetically) Nicola Scafetta repeatedly and unrepentantly libeled Michael Mann in such a fashion, he’d obviously be forfeiting his claim to be a scientist, which is an honesty-based profession, wouldn’t he? And you would be well within your rights to take Scafetta’s science much less seriously, wouldn’t you?

  174. Joshua says:

    Brad –

    Do you find it a priori absurd when I submit that atheists tell better jokes about religion than religious people tell about atheism??

    Depending on what you mean by “submit,” of course I do. That should be abundantly obvious from what I’ve been arguing.

    Because it’s not. It’s not even incorrect. It’s a fact.

    So now it seems that by “submit,” you mean state as fact. Actually, what you “submitted” is inherently subjective. You are confusing fact with opinion. You haven’t defined terms, assembled evidence, validated that evidence, and disproven alternative interpretations. And you are confusing an assertion of a fact with a statement of an opinion.

    Now Brad – I am going to leave it here (ironically, I broke my promise to Anders to do so earlier). AFAIC, you are willfully refusing to acknowledge the difference between fact and opinion. You have repeated to do so, and I have no reason to believe that you will stop doing so. There’s really nothing more for us to discuss on this issue.

    Anders – apologies again.

  175. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    It is a fact that the cartoon you linked is not funny, and evidence that you are humorless.

    Oh, shit, I just broke my promise again, didn’t I?

  176. badgersouth says:

    Also see:

    IPCC hearing brings UK closer to US polarisation on climate change by Bob Ward, The Guardian, Jan 27, 2014

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2014/jan/27/ipcc-hearing-uk-us-climate-change

  177. BBD says:

    That’s why they’re doing it, Badgersouth. All part of the plan – politicise, polarise and paralyse.

  178. maybe somebody should write a book: “How Ideologically challenged journalist was mistaken for the world’s top climate expert”?

  179. badgersouth says:

    BBD: I am quite aware of the strategy. I just wanted to bring Ward’s Guardian article to everyone’s attention because it nicely supplements the OP of this thread.

  180. Badgersouth,
    Thanks, it does supplement very well and I think he makes a good point about polarisation.

  181. John Mashey says:

    The cartoon of course is a classic, the logical complement of “On the Internet nobody knows you’re a dog” which gets back to the question of identities and assessment of signal versus noise.

    Physicists who do climate blogs might consider adapting the ideas of borehole at RealCLiamte or various Internet animal’s burrows … perhaps “black hole” would work, at least for astrophysicsts.

  182. > perhaps “black hole” would work

    Or a greyer hole, if you’re Stephen Hawking:

    http://www.nature.com/news/stephen-hawking-there-are-no-black-holes-1.14583

  183. Brad Keyes says:

    Despite being a “denier,” by the way, I’m absolutely empathising with your frustration. Don’t you hate how, whenever a new piece of the scientific puzzle snaps into place, some conservative immediately tries to politicise the issue?

  184. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    @badgersouth
    @&Dan

    Nice to see an on-topic comment now and then 😉

  185. BG says:

    Maybe you should rename your blog JSTTP (Just Stick To The Physics) and moderate accordingly.

    BG, POGVP (Plain Old Garden Variety Physicist)

    🙂

  186. BG,
    Maybe I should modify my tagline to “Trying to be civil and trying to stick to the physics”.

    Willard,
    That article’s very interesting. Apparently this means we shouldn’t listen to scientists.

    Since we’re on the topic of black holes, time dilates as something moves closer and closer to the event horizon of a black hole. This means that a clock closer to the black hole will run more slowly than one further from the black hole (well, any mass – Einstein’s theory of General Relativity). So, an observer watching something falling into a black hole will never actually see it cross the event horizon because time on the object falling in will move slower and slower. The observer will also see the object get redder and redder because of gravitational redshift. It will eventually disappear as the photons get redshifted to an infinite wavelength.

    One of the best questions I’ve ever had in a lecture was a student who asked “if time dilates as an object falls towards a black hole, how does the object ever cross the event horizon?”. I don’t know the answer, but maybe Hawking has answered it 🙂

  187. BBD says:

    A sort of Zeno’s dichotomy paradox for the astrophysical age…

  188. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Thank you for that link. Spectacular.

    “Actually, Dr. Hawking, our biggest blunder as a society was ever listening to people like you,” said Rep. Bachmann. “If black holes don’t exist, then other things you scientists have been trying to foist on us probably don’t either, like climate change and evolution”

    One for the ages. I’d like to suggest that instead of “Trying to keep the discussion civil” you modify your tag line to:

    “Trying to foist on you blunders.”

    BTW – in all fairness, I have to say that article does provide much evidence for Brad’s contention that “skeptics” are funnier than “realists.” Bachmann is flat out the funniest person to ever talk about climate change.

  189. Joshua,
    Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

    I should really give a hat-tip to Alice Bell for the link (via Twitter).

  190. Joshua says:

    And I forgot to add The Onion to my sources on research to evaluate the sense of humor among “skeptics” and “realists,” respectively.

  191. BG says:

    ATTP,

    Speaking of trying to remain civil… Eli’s link in his blog to three comments (by Way, Eli and Tamino) in Curry’s blog caused me to go to the latter for the first time ever last night. Absolutely horrible, hard to imagine a self-respecitng scientist allowing that type of discussion to proceed on his/her blog.

    POGVP

  192. Tom Curtis says:

    Anders, time dilates as you approach the event horizon (or whatever its equivalent is under Hawking’s new theory) for the external observer. For the unfortunate approaching the event horizon, their clocks run at normal speed for them, and they experience themselves accelerating ever more rapidly towards the singularity. For them, all external clocks away from the blackhole accelerate as the light becomes increasingly blue shifted.

    I am puzzled about one point in Hawkings theory (and probably simply don’t have the maths to understand the rest). At the event horizon of a relativistic black hole, no light can escape. That condition is satisfied when light emitted tangental to the direction of the singularity is drawn into at tight orbit around the black hole. As any solid matter drawn into the black hole is torn apart by tidal forces, and becomes involved in multiple collisions at high velocity, there will be a very large quantity of x-ray radiation having that orbit. Is that not sufficient to demark the event horizon, and to toast any unfortunate drawn into it? Is Hawking’s new theory, which provides an explanation of the failure to demark the event horizon therefore properly motivated? (I of course have no chance of actually answering these questions coherently; and am only interested in answers from those who can actually follow the equations.)

    Finally, given that Hawkings became famous in physics by showing that black holes are not truly black, but radiate at a rate proportional to the curvature of the event horizon, ie, that they are “fuzzy”, Bachmann’s comments are singularly uninformed, even by his standards.

  193. Tom,

    For the unfortunate approaching the event horizon, their clocks run at normal speed for them, and they experience themselves accelerating ever more rapidly towards the singularity. For them, all external clocks away from the blackhole accelerate as the light becomes increasingly blue shifted.

    Yes, those falling in would see the external clocks running faster and faster. In a sense, though, they’d see the rest of the universe pass before they crossed the event horizon.

    As for the rest of your question, I’m not an expert but can maybe shed some light. Yes, material falling into a black hole will indeed become very hot and emit in the x-rays. You can use variations in timings (l = ct) to estimate the size of the region that is emitting the x-rays and this has, I think, been done. There is, however, something called the last stable orbit which is at around 3 Schwarzschild radii, but I’m not sure what impact this has on the material orbiting the black hole. So, I’m not sure if one would expect the x-ray emitting region to extend all the way to the event horizon.

    I’m not sure that Hawkings new ideas has any real impact on material orbiting a few Schwarzschild radii from the black hole, but I could be wrong and may well have reached the limit of my very basic knowledge.

  194. At the event horizon of a relativistic black hole, no light can escape. That condition is satisfied when light emitted tangental to the direction of the singularity is drawn into at tight orbit around the black hole.

    The last stable orbit Anders referred to was at 3 Schwarzschild radii; lower orbits are unstable because the centrifugal force actually reverses direction for spooky general relativistic reasons. The “photon sphere” at 1.5 Schwarzschild radii is where light is drawn in to a tight orbit around the black hole. It’s above the event horizon.

    As any solid matter drawn into the black hole is torn apart by tidal forces, and becomes involved in multiple collisions at high velocity, there will be a very large quantity of x-ray radiation having that orbit. Is that not sufficient to demark the event horizon, and to toast any unfortunate drawn into it?

    Though I’d need to learn general relativity to really understand black holes, I muddle along with Newtonian approximations to try to understand. The force of Newtonian gravity varies as M/r^2, the black hole’s mass divided by the radius squared. Tidal forces are local variations in gravity, so take the radial derivative to see that tidal forces are proportional to M/r^3. For a specified tidal force, the radius is proportional to the cube root of the mass.

    The (alleged) event horizon is at 1.0 Schwarzschild radius, and it’s proportional to mass (which grows faster than the cube root of mass). So bigger black holes have smaller tidal forces at their event horizons. You could pass through a supermassive black hole’s event horizon without feeling anything, but a measly 8 solar mass black hole would spaghettify you long before you got close to its horizon. John Baez’s physics FAQ is very relevant to this conversation.

    Regarding Hawking’s recent statements, I don’t have the expertise to offer an informed opinion. Katie Mack is an astrophysicist; her twitter feed might be enlightening.

  195. Pingback: An Anatomy of Denialism, Part 1 | Climate Nuremberg

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