The BBC and its balance!

I happened to have a look at the Bishop Hill Blog and discovered that Andrew Montford (who writes the blog) was interviewed, together with Paul Williams from the University of Reading, on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Stephen Nolan show. If you want to listen, the show is available for the next 5 days, and the segment starts at about 12 minutes.

The actual segment is fine. I thought Paul Williams did well. Andrew Montford was okay, but it was the standard; climate models are running too hot, uncertainties in the aerosol forcings, we can’t model clouds properly, etc. Nothing too outrageous, just the normal there’s too much uncertainty to be sure, type of argument. Judith Curry would have been proud.

In my opinion, though, there’s something much more important to consider; which is this: if the BBC wants to interview someone about how climate models work and about the uncertainties associated with climate modelling, why do they choose to interview a blogger who – as far as I’m aware – has no formal research experience, has never published a peer-reviewed paper, and has never used a complex climate model? Why don’t they interview a professional, experienced climate modeller?

Could it be that if you did interview an experienced climate modeller, it just might not be controversial enough? They might say :

Yes, the global surface temperatures are now falling outside the 90% confidence interval of the models, but we expect that to happen about 10% of the time, so it’s doesn’t yet indicate an issue with the models. If the surface temperatures never fell outside the 90% confidence interval, we’d eliminate the models that were outliers, which would reduce the confidence interval until the surface temperatures fell outside the 90% confidence interval about 10% of the time.

Maybe that’s just too dull and agreeable. Maybe it’s better to have someone who makes it sound like this is a big issue. An actual climate modeller might also say :

Yes, the mean model trends are higher than the observed surface temperature trends, but the observed trends fall within the range of the model trends. Also, there could be a number of reasons for this. It’s possible that the models are predicting faster warming than will actually happen, but it’s also possible that natural variability has produced some cooling in recent decades and so the observed trend is slightly smaller than it would be without this cooling influence. It’s still too early to really know if the model trends really are too high.

Maybe an actual climate modeller would say :

Yes, the models didn’t predict the recent slowdown in surface warming. However, it’s very difficult to predict such variability, and what’s presented is typically ensemble averages of the model runs, which tends to smooth out short-term variability. Also, these models are not designed for decadal predictions, and so short-term mismatches are not particularly surprising.

They might add :

Yes, it’s possible that model predictions for climate sensitivity are too high, but the range is very similar to that estimated using other methods. Hence, it would be very surprising if climate sensitivity does turn out to be very different to that predicted by climate models.

They could also add that our understanding of climate change and global warming does not depend only on climate models. There are many independent lines of evidence – as pointed out by Paul Williams in the interview – that are largely consistent. Also, a major part of global climate modelling is to make predictions about how climate change will effect different regions of the globe. Of course, I’m not a climate modeller, so I can’t really say what one would actually say. I would be surprised, however, if they didn’t provide some context and didn’t illustrate the significance/relevance of the various uncertainties.

So, it’s possible that if you were to interview an actual climate modeller, it might just be too dull and uncontroversial. Maybe if you want to improve your ratings and make it more interesting, interviewing a blogger with no formal experience is better. On the other hand, if you actually want to present an informed view of our understanding of climate models and climate modelling, that may not be the best strategy. Personally, I’d rather the BBC went for the latter strategy, but maybe I’m alone in thinking this.

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898 Responses to The BBC and its balance!

  1. jsam says:

    Being political for a moment, the BBC is criticised by both right and left. The right is more vociferous, in my estimation. Yet the only data, instead of anecdote, I’ve seen shows a strong rightward bent. https://theconversation.com/hard-evidence-how-biased-is-the-bbc-17028

    Back to anecdotal mode, those I know who work in media say the same. The BBC leans right – perhaps in self defence. The Tories would love to have a go at them. The other parties are more benign. Adopt the protective colouration of your attacker.

    Again anecdotally, those who work on the Mail lean left. How odd.

  2. Steve Bloom says:

    Also, UKIPers and the like are a significant segment of the British population, and the Beeb has a duty to represent their views, right?

  3. Joshua says:

    jsam –

    Both sides claim victimization at the hands of “mainstream media.” Seems more like confirmation bias to me than anything else.

  4. Steve, well 5 – 10% maybe, so similar to the fraction of climate science papers that argue that global warming isn’t anthropogenic 🙂

  5. BBD says:

    Personally, I’d rather the BBC went for the latter strategy, but maybe I’m alone in thinking this.

    The lazy complicity of the media with the pseudosceptic PR machine is appalling. We can’t do anything about the right wing press, but every time the BBC does this it fundamentally breaches its own core values as a public broadcaster. It is ****** unforgivable and those editors responsible have behaved reprehensibly and should be sacked.

  6. Steve Bloom says:

    What jsam said, also.

    Re the DM, consider that the vast majority of the (very large relative to the other print outlets) staff must be involved in producing more or less apolitical gossip material and taking all those lovely pichurs. Is there a message in the unprofessional sloppiness of much of the climate denial-pandering coverage?

    Speaking of DM pichurs, I am reminded that during a recent UK major flooding episode (summer 2012 IIRC) the representative photo chosen to lead on the DM India sub-site featured some emergency personnel and what was to all appearances an inflatable sex doll caught up in the high water. Based on that, one may imagine a certain amount of self-awareness and cynicism at play among the staff.

  7. BBD says:

    Joshua

    Seems more like confirmation bias to me than anything else.

    Seems more like the view from nowhere to me.

  8. I have nothing against having climate ostriches in the media. It is an opinion that should be represented.

    However, it should not be in a program about science.

    That would give the wrong impression and is also not done when it comes to other topics. In a report on a new cloned cat, they do not ask a creationist to debate. In an item about gravity measurements of soil moisture, there is no comment from someone from the flat Earth society. In a program about a new cure for diabetes, we do not have a herbal witch giving medical advice. I see no reason, why climate should be treated differently.

    But a human interest piece about a climate ostrich would be interesting, trying to understand how they came to that opinion. I am still at a loss and almost start to wonder if they know it themselves. The BBC also have program about how it is to be homeless or an illegal immigrant, about Scientology and whatever. That is all okay and interesting.

    I do not think we can explain such debates with grabbing attention and being good for the number of viewers. It does work that way, the more controversial, the more human conflict posts on my blog are read a lot more than the pure science posts.

    However, if that where the only consideration of the BBC, then you would have similar debates on other scientific topics. On other topics the BBC would suffer a large reputation loss with such nonsense. It has unfortunately become sufficiently normal to debate climate ostriches that the BBC apparently does not fear for their reputation sufficiently. No idea what to do about this.

  9. johnrussell40 says:

    On Friday and Saturday, BBC Radio4 broadcast the usual, live, ‘Any Questions’/’Any Answers’ shows. Two of the questions related to climate change: the current flooding and Prince Charles’ ‘headless chickens’ comments. On ‘Any Questions?’ none of the panel members (mainly politicians) had any background in science and the responses were pretty feeble. And then on ‘Any Answers’ (a ‘phone-in show) we were treated to members of the public having their say, representing both ‘sides’ of the ‘climate debate’. On both shows the most used phrase—which started almost every comment—was, “I’m not a climate scientist, but…”. As you can probably imagine, overall It was a total waste of time and most frustrating to listen to.

    I’m not going to accuse the BBC as a whole of having an agenda—though I know there are individual producers and presenters who do. Instead, I accuse the BBC of not being informed on the subject and allowing themselves to be swayed by the pressure of lobbyists and politicians. I’m guessing they would say they’re reflecting the general state of the debate in society and it’s difficult to disagree with them over this, however their role as a public broadcaster is to “entertain, inform and educate”; and part of education is to understand the subject at hand. The only way they can do this is to call on the only people who understand the subject: the scientists. They have a close, working relationship with the Met Office and I cannot understand why they don’t turn to that organisation to provide the expertise they so desperately require.

  10. Victor,
    Yes, I agree. This isn’t about objecting to “climate sceptics” in the media, it’s about who best to interview on a complex topic.

    John,
    I got into a brief Twitter discussion with Tamsin Edwards about BBC Any Questions. Apparently someone had argued that because the climate has changed before, changes now can’t be because of man. I don’t know if that is precisely what they said, but that was the gist of it based on my brief discussion with Tamsin. Barry Woods then responded to say it was a Strawman, which was odd given that someone had supposedly actually said that. Apparently Barry rarely encounters that argument amongst “sceptics”. Makes me wonder what he’s actually reading.

  11. BBD says:

    Clearly not SkS 😉 Where “climate has changed before” is #1 in the Most used climate myths chart.

  12. John Mashey says:

    With good reason, some of us compare tobacco anti-science with climate anti-science, where the front people that get interviewed and sometimes get asked to testify for government hearings are connected, directly or indirectly with thinktanks. Fred Singer famously wrote an article attacking the EPA on secondhand smoke. In the UK, you have many less of these than in the US, but they are well-connected, as for example GWPF. Unlike the specialist GWPF, the big general UK thinktank seems to be IEA.

    Try search IEA for global warming and IEA on tobacco, or IEA on e-cigarettes, then Familiar Thinktanks Fight for E-Cigarettes.

    It is as crucial for listeners to learn about medical research from economists, lawyers, political scientists, pundits as it is to learn about climate science from a nonscientist with strong views who has falsified/fabricated history and based much of a book on unsupported claims in a dog astrology journal, i.e., as explained here.

    Anyway, surely the BBC can run discussions between medical researchers, who will tell you there is very little data on the chemistry of vaping, (except that it is not just water vapor), and essentially no data on long-term effects …and non-researchers who can speak with great certainty about the harmlessness of it, and how good it is for smoking cessation, especially given that one can order vaping fluids with different concentrations of nicotine down to 0, letting people reduce their usage.

    Of course, they might not want to talk about that feature of fluids like Gummy Bear, presumably to wean the hard-core 12-year-old smokers off their habit, but that question need not be asked. Anyway, this topic deserves equal time with climate at the BBC, with a similar approach.

  13. Barry Woods says:

    anders.. I reading you.. (and Michael Mann , who seems to be very much a policy advocate, even challenging the President of the USA, a whole other discussion)

    the ‘strawman argument’ I thought was – climate changes naturally in the past, therefore not man.. where the is an odd sort of myth (to even a casual observer) because climate has changed before, the sceptic argument, is how do we know, and what proportion of climate changing in the last 150 years or so, is man-made vs, natural, and what proportion going forward. so sceptics not one vs the other, but both are at play, CO2 since the 50’s (plus other AGW factors) and also going forward.

    I though I explained that on twitter, but twitter is a very limited medium 😉

    As for SkS saying climate has changed before -No 1 Myth..

    Skeptical Science creating strawmen myths like this, (for soundbites) is not helpful, even or perhaps especially to themselves, though I’m sure you can finds some uninformed armchair sceptic commenter on some website somewhere to support this. (as a comparison, Mosher came across a 9/11 truther website, that was also a climate concerned website)

    It does not represent Watts, view, Montford’s, mine, Jo Nova’s, etc and many others. ‘sceptics’ I know, think climate changes, has done in past, will in future, and that man can/is a contributor, but the question is ‘how much’.. SkS either know this, and ignore it for soundbite purposes, or don’t perhaps read much themselves.. 😉

    bedtime for kids now, may catch up later (have got to ebay some stuff first – Dell Zino Win 7 Pro mini PC if anybody is interested.)

  14. andrew adams says:

    Sorry Barry, but I’ve seen that particular argument made a number of times – mainly on Judith Curry’s blog (the only skeptic blog I usually read) but also on WUWT the few times I’ve been there.

  15. Barry,

    anders.. I reading you.. (and Michael Mann , who seems to be very much a policy advocate, even challenging the President of the USA, a whole other discussion)

    Not quite sure what you’re getting at here.

    Maybe I mis-understood your strawman comment, but you seemed to be suggesting that noone would claim that climate having changed in the past meant it can’t be man now. Given that someone apparently said that on Any Questions, it would appear that some would indeed claim exactly that.

    You may well be right that this is not an argument you, Watts, Nova, Montford would make, but I’m sure I’ve seen others make exactly this argument on their sites without it being challenged.

    but the question is ‘how much’.

    I’m aware that this is what you think. I would just like to hear a coherent argument from you as to whether or not you think ECS can be less than 2oC and if so, why?

  16. andrew adams says:

    I’ve no problem with non-experts discussing climate change on Any Questions/Any Answers – it’s a political discussion show and there are important political issues around the subject of climate change which in the end all of us who take part in the political process have a stake in. Of course it’s still better if at least one of the participants has some knowlege of the subject and can correct any misapprehensions on the part of others.

  17. andrew adams says:

    The problem with BBC using the likes of Montford in a scientific discussion on climate change is not just false balance, it’s also false authority – what actual expertise does he bring to the table? From what I’ve seen he doesn’t know any more on the subject than I do and a lot less than some commenters here. No disrespect intended, I wouldn’t suggest for a moment that I should be invited to take part in such a discussion either, but it does seem to be a bit disrespectful to real climate scientists – it’s as if the BBC does not trust them to give a properly balanced account of the science themselves.

  18. jsam says:

    “The climate has changed before” is repeated by many cranks on many forums. I also get the line “no sceptic believes CO2 is not a GHG”. All you have to do is read the comments in blogs disputing that.

    Assuming they’re not getting this from Nature, I wonder where they might be getting it from?

  19. Andrew,
    I agree, and I don’t really understand what the BBC is thinking. I agree that it seems disrespectful to real climate scientists and I have a feeling that that a lack of trust may well be part of the issue. Because some are very vocal about their concerns about climate models, the BBC thinks that they should be included and possibly also think that maybe the scientists can’t be trusted to give a balanced view.

    Something I do find a little strange is that I haven’t seen more complaints about this from the scientists themselves. Why would they be happy with Nic Lewis being called in front of the select committee and why would they be happy about Montford appearing – more than once – on the BBC to talk about climate models. Do they not mind, or is it difficult to speak out?

  20. Joshua says:

    Barry –

    “It does not represent Watts, view, Montford’s, mine, Jo Nova’s, etc and many others. ‘sceptics’ I know, think climate changes, has done in past, will in future, and that man can/is a contributor, but the question is ‘how much’..”

    Reposted from a comment I made elsewhere:

    So what do the data say?

    http://environment.yale.edu/climate-communication/files/Climate-Beliefs-November-2013.pdf

    Some 27% of the public thinks no warming is occurring, and some 14% don’t know.

    Some 33% believe that they don’t need any more information to inform their opinion on global warming.

    Of the “doubtful” and the “dismissives,” 80% and 50%, respectively think that if warming is occurring, it is occurring mostly due to natural environmental changes.

    So there is some ambiguity there – but I’d say that it is a safe bet that there are large numbers “skeptics” who think that either no warming is taking place, or that ACO2 is not causing any warming.

    I often read “skeptics” here at Climate Etc. and at places like WUWT who argue, with great certainty, that there is no detectable influence of ACO2 on our climate – not simply that the magnitude of the effect is uncertain.

    And then we have “skeptics” who argue about the basic physics of the GHE – that it either there is no such thing or that the effect could not be detectable (“trace gas”)…. Although some “skeptics” like to sweep them under the rug, they do exist.

    And then we have “skeptics” who argue that they don’t doubt the physics of the GHE or that adding ACO2 affects the climate in ways that are detectable (although uncertain in magnitude), but who then turn around and argue that although we’re putting more AOC2 into the climate “global warming has paused.”

  21. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    “Seems more like the view from nowhere to me.”

    I don’t know what that means.

    IMO, the “mainstream media” is pretty much middle-of-the-road. I have yet to read much in the way of conclusive evidence that shows a particularly strong bias in one direction or the other (particularly since the very definition of “mainstream media” is vague. Are Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly and the WSJ and the Washington Times, and MSNBC etc. not part of “mainstream media?” If not, then what are the inclusion and exclusion criteria used to define what is and isn’t “mainstream media?”)

    Not only to I consider the assertions of media bias and the influence of media bias to be mostly observer bias (I like to listen to sports talk radio, and find a similar and amusing phenomenon where fans of different teams are completely convinced that national announcers are biased against their teams), there isn’t even solid evidence that if there were a predominant bias in the media, it would have a significant impact of altering opinions:

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2013/8/8/partisan-media-are-not-destroying-america.html

    Meanwhile, assertions of media bias become a convenient way for both sides bolster their sense of victimization.

    I’d say that most likely, media bias does not explain much w/r/t public opinion, but that public opinion explains a lot about the range of media coverage. The media coverage reflects public opinion, opinion that is primarily driven by identity politics, short-term weather phenomena, and economic conditions.

  22. badgersouth says:

    I encourage everyone participating in this discussion to also read the excellent op-ed, “Prince Charles is right about climate change” by Paul Vallely, visiting professor of Public Ethics at the University of Chester, posted in today’s edition of the Independent.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/prince-charles-is-right-about-climate-change-9101543.html

  23. Barry Woods says:

    jsam – I specifically said ‘no sceptic I know’.. if you look hard enough in comments you can find anybody that believes in anything on the climate concerned side as well (and I gave an example)

  24. Barry Woods says:

    Joshua – apple and oranges? (ref Yale survey)

    surveying the general public. who are largely apathetic and ignorant of most issues (whether pro/sceptical) , vs ‘sceptical bloggers’ and ‘concerned bloggers’, who at least have heard of M Mann, McIntyre, etc,etc..

    I would love for there to be a decent survey of sceptical bloggers and concerned bloggers to find out what this group of people really think (the public don’t really know much – either way)

    I think there might be a surprising amount of agreement. (not at either fringe)

    (like many I struggle for an appropriate term for the ‘believer’ side – ie scientists do not like ‘believer’ label, is ‘concerned’ OK?)

  25. Not the same claim, but a more extreme, that there was even no natural warming, can be found below the WUWT post I discussed last.

    “Does this explain most (or all) of the warming since the 1930s?
    Or, are we really cooling since the 1930s, keeping in mind the NOAA adjustments chart”

    “What the scientists who still do real science are basically saying is what most people realize intuitively. It is not getting warmer. At best, we are holding our own, and not slipping into another LIA.”

    Pretty typical for WUWT and Co, in my experience.

  26. Joshua says:

    Barry –

    Yes, of course it’s apples and oranges. “Skeptical” bloggers make up a tiny fraction of the public. Their opinions are insignificant relative to the general population. They are outliers, and basically, fanatics.

    But even among “skeptical” bloggers: (1) ironically, even though “skeptics” often argue that “skeptics” are not monolithic (most certainly they aren’t), some “skeptics” tend to then turn around and diminish just how much diversity there is, by arguing how “most skeptics” don’t doubt that there is any measurable influence of ACO2 on the climate. I read many, man “skeptics” who argue that there is no valid demonstration of any signal of ACO2 on the climate and, (2) even further, there is a basic flaw if someone argues that they don’t doubt that ACO2 has a measurable influence on the climate (the only question is one of the magnitude), and then turns around and says that there has been a “pause in global warming” even though we have added ACO2.

    And, of course, then there’s the problem where “skeptics” say that they have no doubt that the climate is warming, and yet argue that there are no valid metrics that show global warming, and indeed, that there is no such thing as average global temperatures and that it is not even a measure that is scientifically feasible.

  27. Something I do find a little strange is that I haven’t seen more complaints about this from the scientists themselves. Why would they be happy with Nic Lewis being called in front of the select committee and why would they be happy about Montford appearing – more than once – on the BBC to talk about climate models. Do they not mind, or is it difficult to speak out?

    If scientists would complain, that would be similar to saying the your own group should be heard more. That can be much more effectively done by non-scientists.

    Who to invite is furthermore a very political topic. Scientists are naturally more comfortable with more scientific comments, such as explaining the scientific findings or pointing to errors in the interpretation of their research by the ostriches, if they engage at all.

  28. OPatrick says:

    “I’m not a climate scientist, but…”

    It makes you want to weep in frustration doesn’t it? Simon Heffer went to some length to establish his lack of credentials, emphasising just how little he understood science then, almost unbelievably, said ‘I haven’t seen any convincing evidence that humans are responsible for the current warming’. So when an enormously detailed review of the available evidence establishes with more than 95% confidence that humans are responsible for more than half the observed warming someone who freely acknowledges that he has no ability to understand the science for himself is willing to dismiss this evidence on national radio. It’s pitiable that there are people defending this.

    Jenny Jones felt, I think, that it was better to ignore Heffer’s floundering and focus on pushing Eric Pickles, who appears quite reasonable on this issue and clearly embarrassed by the extremes of his party, to comment on Owen Patterson’s position. It’s a shame she didn’t take a moment to point out the absurdity of Heffer’s comments.

  29. BBD says:

    Joshua

    IMO, the “mainstream media” is pretty much middle-of-the-road.

    Sure, averaging out the “mainstream media” does give your result. But this is about the BBC. False balance. Piss-poor editorial decision-making. Political bias. Political pressure. Etc.

    Meanwhile, assertions of media bias become a convenient way for both sides bolster their sense of victimization.

    While you have a point, it isn’t the point, which concerns miserable editorial decisions at the BBC and WTF is going on with the public broadcaster.

  30. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    No doubt – I can’t speak to the BBC specifically. I do know that I read on “realist” blogs that it is most certainly biased in one direction, and then read on “skeptical” blogs that it is just as obviously biased in directly the opposite direction.

    So, again, I can’t speak to the specifics, but when I see that pattern, and knowing the more general pattern how the media becomes, basically, an ink blot for people to project their own biases, and knowing how I, as a leftist tend to assume media bias without validated evidence and largely because of my own orientation it is hard for me to believe that there isn’t, at least to some degree, a similar process going on w/r/t the BBC.

    Admittedly, without solid evidence, there is a big flaw in my reasoning there.

  31. dana1981 says:

    BBC is going downhill fast. They should no longer be considered a reliable source of climate information/news, in my opinion. They’ve regularly succumbed to false balance on the issue, and have even admitted as much (BBC editors saying that we need to hear from ‘skeptics’). The BBC agreement Clause 44 says,

    “The BBC must do all it can to ensure that controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality in all relevant output.”

    http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/about/how_we_govern/agreement.pdf

    I’d say that by giving disproportionate coverage to climate contrarians, it’s failing to meet that agreement.

    “Skeptical Science creating strawmen myths like this”

    Keep dreaming Barry. The ‘most used climate myths’ list is based on hard data – reports submitted via the SkS Firefox plug-in. Deny it all you want, but ‘climate’s changed before’ is the #1 argument made by contrarians.

    Also the logical flaw is the same in ‘it happened naturally in the past therefore it’s natural now’ and ‘it’s happened naturally in the past therefore we don’t know what proportion is natural now.’ Both arguments are non sequiturs. We know it’s humans now, and we know approximately what proportion is human-caused now, because climate scientists have researched that question. The fact that climate changed naturally in the past is completely irrelevant to the question of anthropogenic attribution. Climate scientists use data from past climate changes, of course, but just saying ‘it changed naturally in the past’ (which contrarians do all the time) doesn’t tell us anything useful.

  32. OPatrick says:

    Joshua, I agree with BBD on this one, about the view from nowhere. You can look at this in a genuinely sceptical way and still, I think, conclude that the BBC are not being equally biased in both directions. I may be wrong of course. But as a challenge can you, or anyone, come up with examples where they have oversold the science on climate change? I noticed that Richard Betts for example, when trying to make this case, had to go back some 6 years to this article, which in the scheme of things isn’t that bad anyway.

  33. OPatrick says:

    Dana, if I appear to agree with Barry Woods it signifies absolutely nothing about my view of his credibility, but it may be worth changing the wording of the Sceptical Science response to that myth to make it clearer that the ‘sceptic’ arguments tend to focus more on the uncertainty that past climate changes mean about the causes of the current observed changes.
    The first sentence:

    A common skeptic argument is that climate has changed naturally in the past, long before SUVs and coal-fired power plants, so humans can’t be the cause of the current global warming.

    might be better expressed as something like:
    A common skeptic argument is that climate has changed naturally in the past, long before SUVs and coal-fired power plants, so there is lots of uncertainty about whether humans are the cause of the current global warming.

  34. jsam says:

    ABC – Anything But Carbon.

    Has anyone seen a moderator at Watts or Nova et al correct a “it can’t be CO2” poster? It could be that I’m just unobservant, of course.

    (Very modest credit, for he has much to be modest about, to Watts for disavowing Sky Slayer and Pattern Recognition in Physics.)

  35. John Mashey says:

    Again, pseudoskeptics have hijacked the label skeptic, just as creationists have tried to be called evolution skeptics. Note the difference:
    a) “I reject X” (dismissive, denier, contrarian, creationist (especially YEC), anti–vacc, etc)
    vs
    b) “I am a skeptic, and have looked carefully and I reject X.” (pseudoskeptic)

    Group b) seems to be a vocal subset of a).

  36. BBD says:

    Joshua

    So, again, I can’t speak to the specifics, but when I see that pattern, and knowing the more general pattern how the media becomes, basically, an ink blot for people to project their own biases

    Yes, you are right.

    it is hard for me to believe that there isn’t, at least to some degree, a similar process going on w/r/t the BBC.

    If I’m being a fierce bulldog, I would say that this is argument from ignorance and from incredulity. If I’m being a cuddly bulldog, I’m only able to say that this is disputed.

  37. Joshua says:

    That’s fine. It’s an argument from ignorance and incredulity. But I’m acknowledging uncertainty.

    All I would need would be evidence to convince me of a counter argument.

    But this is about the BBC. False balance. Piss-poor editorial decision-making. Political bias. Political pressure. Etc.

    Argument by assertion?

    Views largely grounded in your own presumptions and/or biases? Is it false balance merely because it doesn’t match where you think the balance should be? Is the decision-making “poor” because you don’t like the decisions? How is balance, or false balance, measured and defined? How do we determine proper decision-making? How do we determine bias? How do we weigh the influence of different sorts of political pressure?

    I would make the same argument to a “skeptic” making the same assertions as you are making except in reverse (as we can see happens constantly).

    In lieu of evidence, we have speculation – which may be correct, or may be fallacious. There is an underlying logic to argument from ignorance, from incredulity, or from argument by assertion. They become fallacies when they are stretched too far. The way to prevent that from happening is with evidence. Evidence that is carefully validated. Evidence that controls for bias.

  38. johnrussell40 says:

    I think one of the things Barry Woods has inadvertently highlighted here is the ‘layering’ of climate change denial, starting with those in outright denial at the bottom of the heap—the “there’s no such thing as the greenhouse effect” brigade—right the way through the, “it’s natural cycles” crowd, to the pseudo-scientific, “it’s cosmic rays” shower, and finally to the “yes, it’s happening but climate sensitivity is low” and, “it won’t be bad” camp. Barry seems to be firmly in the last of those layers and despises—much as we do—all those who make up the lower layers. He even goes to the extent, which he’s been proud to point out to me on previous occasions, of arguing with those below him in the informal heirarchy.

    What’s really interesting is there is no equivalent observable layering on the ‘climate concerned’ (yes, I’ll accept that label, Barry) side of the divide. Sure there are layers of knowledge; but no contradicting beliefs held by disparate groups all vying to push their pet theories. No, the consensus side of the fence is characterised by a coherent picture, backed up with evidence and peer-reviewed research that explains the effects being observed on the climate of our planet. If it wasn’t for the noise of denial, fuelled by powerful vested interests, we could just ignore them.

    Look on the bright side: it must be highly irritating for the pseudosceptics to see just how harmonious those concerned about climate change all are. I think the frustration of those in denial often shows in the tone of their comments. I keep telling myself it’s just a matter of time…

  39. When it comes to political questions around climate change, you can talk about balance and false balance. Here it would be strange if the BBC would only let the Green or only the UKIP talk about climate policy. And both the greens and the UKIP likely feel the current programming is unbalanced. Probably for every topic.

    The problem at hand is, however, the reporting about the science. That is not a matter of opinion. And the science reporting on climate should have the same standard as the science reporting about any other topic. No matter what kind of bulldog one is.

  40. Tom Curtis says:

    Joshua:

    “I’d say that most likely, media bias does not explain much w/r/t public opinion …”

    Most mainstream media is funded by a billion dollar industry that think you are wrong. I am not well informed on the science behind that, but I know there is an extensive science behind it; and that advertisers pay for extensive psychological research on the effectiveness of different types of media in convincing consumers to buy their product. I also know that those same advertisers will pay a premium to have their advertising material partly, or wholly disguised as editorial comment or straight reporting. On the assumption that Madison Avenue perpetrates a bigger con on consumers than on their paymasters, media is crucial with respect to public opinion.

    Indeed, need I remind you that several corporations and private individuals have sunk tens, potentially hundreds of millions of dollars on the very issue of climate change and the assumption that you are wrong.

  41. Joshua says:

    Tom –

    Most mainstream media is funded by a billion dollar industry that think you are wrong.

    First, the industry of media is interested in attracting viewers. To attract viewers, they give viewers what they want. The 50% of the public who express relatively more concern about climate change, would presumably, want coverage that reflects their views. The other 50% would want the reverse. If we’re going to reverse engineer from assumptions about the interests of the media industry – I would think that it would result in a mixed type of coverage, not coverage that has an overwhelming bias.

    I am not well informed on the science behind that, but I know there is an extensive science behind it; and that advertisers pay for extensive psychological research on the effectiveness of different types of media in convincing consumers to buy their product.

    Of course. So what can we conclude about climate change coverage from that?

    I also know that those same advertisers will pay a premium to have their advertising material partly, or wholly disguised as editorial comment or straight reporting. On the assumption that Madison Avenue perpetrates a bigger con on consumers than on their paymasters, media is crucial with respect to public opinion.

    But again, how does that lead to conclusions about bias in coverage? Suppose the media affects public opinion by confirming biases? By giving people reporting that comports with their beliefs. In that case, it isn’t so much media creating opinions but opinions creating media. In other words, there is the “echo-chamber” effect. I found the article I linked above about the data on effects of partisan media to make a solid argument for an effect that is different than what most people (on both sides of the debate) assume based on their common sense logic.

    Indeed, need I remind you that several corporations and private individuals have sunk tens, potentially hundreds of millions of dollars on the very issue of climate change and the assumption that you are wrong.

    At this point, corporations have varied interests w/r/t climate change. There is a green industry. There are profits to be made from corporations appearing to be “concerned” about climate change. Corporations are investing money in ways that are consistent with an acceptance of climate change. I’m certainly not suggesting that the world of corporations is, lockstep, investing in ways that would be consistent with acceptance of climate change, or that there are no corporate interest in maintaining the status quo of fossil fuel usage – far from it, but that IMO there is a high bar that would have to be cleared to prove some overwhelmingly prevalent bias in either direction.

    The biggest problem for me is the lack of evidence for a convincing mechanism by which bias would be manifest. I have had this argument for years with rightwingers that are so totally convinced of a leftwing bias in the media. The argue about liberals dominating the media. The argue about liberal ideology dominating among scientists. There is a basic factuality to those arguments. But what is missing is clear evidence of a mechanism. How is it, exactly, that liberal bias would become manifest in the mainstream media? Do editors tell all reporters to skew their reporting? Do all reporters accept such orders w/o assembling evidence and whistle blowing?

    IMO – the media industry clearly has a biasing interest to sell media – but they do that by reflecting the opinions of the public. IMO, reporters and editors most likely, have a prominent bias to do their jobs well, to be professional. IMO, belief that there is some widespread phenomenon whereby news professionals jettison their professional standard to chase the buck reminds me of what “skeptics” say about scientists, and has the same flavor or implausibility and lack of supporting evidence.

    Most of the public are relatively non-partisan about climate change. In that case, I would expect most media coverage to reflect that non-partisan orientation, primarily. I would also expect those who are highly partisan on each side to feel that the media is biased in favor of the other side because its coverage does not reflect their own sense of “balance.” Such claims of bias are made by those at the extremes of any politically-tinged and polarized issue; gun control, taxes, religion, etc., and climate change has become a very politicized issue. We could argue that the corporate world, writ large, might have a dominating interest on any of those issues. But I have been looking, for years, at evidence about media bias. Not in a scholarly fashion, but as an interested observer. The meta-analyses I’ve seen do not suggest strong conclusions one way or the other. My assessment is that in general, on average, the media is pretty much middle-of-the road and I haven’t see evidence to prove a solid case otherwise. I don’t see a logical reason why coverage of climate would be an exception.

  42. jp says:

    It’s hard not to see that there is bias on the side of ‘sceptical’ coverage in certain media, especially the Murdoch media. By definition, going out of your way to misrepresent what the science says and only publishing the views of non-experts or a few “experts” with questionable competence is clear evidence of bias. A study was conducted in Australia on the coverage of climate change issues _ from memory I think it looked at the Murdoch press especially _ and the finding was that the number of “sceptic” articles clearly outnumbered the non-sceptic ones. Deltoid ran a series of “The Australian’s (the newspaper) war on science”, shining the torch on factually and/or logically wrong articles mainly dealing with climate science which were published by that Murdoch paper; at my last count it numbered into the 60’s. Now, you don’t continually print flawed, spurious articles which are designed to make the science look bad if there’s no agenda behind it.

  43. badgersouth says:

    JP: The study that you are recalling is summarized in the article:
    “The Media & Global Climate Science Communication” by Brian Purdue, Skeptical Science, Dec 21, 2011
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/media-climate-science-communication.html

  44. dana1981 says:

    OPatrick, as John Russell notes, there are ‘layers’ of contrarians, some who make the ‘past climate change was natural so this one is natural too’, and some like Barry who argue ‘past climate change was natural so we can’t tell how much of this one is natural’. I suppose the myth language could be tweaked to address both, but as I noted above, there’s no difference from a practical standpoint, as both suffer from the same non sequitur logical fallacy.

  45. Tom Curtis says:

    jp, The Australian’s War on Science is now up to 81. That is probably on the low side as Tim Lambert has, to all intents and purposes, only been posting a monthly open thread for the last year. Had he still been an active blogger, he would easily have had enough material to sustain his average rate of 14.8 blogs per anum in the series.

    The study by Robert Manne may have been the one you were thinking of.

    With regard to The Australian and bias, I mark the demise of the formally great paper to the 1998 election. Prior to that election, it had a number of senior journalistic staff and frequent columnists from across the range of political opinions. They frequently wrote columns with opposing points of view, and relied (regardless of their position on the political spectrum) on rational arguments in support of their perspectives. I had a high regard for all of those columnists, even those I greatly disagreed with. In 1998, however, all of them always supported the GST in their columns, regardless of what you might have conjectured their opinion to have been from prior experience. It was very obvious that they were writing support of a opinion mandated by Murdoch, regardless of their individual opinions. In the following years, the more left wing journalists and columnists started to disappear from The Australian’s pages; while new, and more idealogical right wing columnists took their place.

    This progressed until at one stage, with Tom Switzer as opinion page editor, every day over more than a year, the Australian featured at least one, and sometimes two opinion articles on climate change. The odd thing is that only a smattering of those opinion pages were from those who accepted the science; and that smattering were articles not in support of the science, but in opposition to the Labor Party’s then proposed policy of a cap and trade scheme to limit emissions.

    This is not the only example of transparent bias by The Australian, but is certainly relevant. I now consider The Australian, once without question the best newspaper in Australia, as not even suitable to wrap fish.

  46. Marco says:

    I’m surprised Barry is arguing that he knows no “sceptic” who argues climate change is all natural, considering his own run-in with the Dragon Slayers, who argue it is all natural…

  47. Steve Bloom says:

    It’s the “No true Scotsman” fallacy, Marco.

    Joshua, the primary problem with the media is the amount of coverage. Placement is also key. Consider e.g. the number of front page above-the-fold climate articles in the NYT in a given month. This massive shortfall sends a message that climate change is simply not important. Sure, lots of readers may prefer not to read about such an unpleasant topic, but that’s no excuse at all. Anyway, given this overwhelming lack I have to say I find arguing about the quality of the tiny sliver of existing coverage to be not very interesting.

  48. Steve,

    I find arguing about the quality of the tiny sliver of existing coverage to be not very interesting.

    Yes, that’s interesting. I hadn’t thought of it that way.

  49. OPatrick says:

    Steve, I’d add to that the problem with compartmentalisation of the coverage. Whilst financial and economic sections of the news ignore this issue it cannot be being given appropriate coverage. We still get, for example, coverage of new oil discoveries reported as though they were unambiguous positives.

  50. Barry,
    Dana makes an interesting point. You seem to be suggesting that we don’t know how much of the warming could be natural. Well, we essentially do (we have scientific evidence that indicates how much can be natural). Consider the IPCC attribution figure. The 90% confidence intervals show that 0.15oC of the warming since 1950 can be natural/internal variability. So, that means that there is only a few percent chance that more than 23% of the warming could be natural. If you convolve this with the anthropogenic influences, then it drops to only a few percent chance that more than 15% could be natural.

    Also, there is a non-negligible chance that natural/internal variability has produced cooling since 1950. So, it’s quite possible that anthropogenic influences have essentially produced more warming than we’ve seen.

    So, do you still assert that we don’t really know how much of the warming is natural, or do you agree that it is extremely likely that it can’t have contributed much to the warming since 1950 (i.e., no more than 25%)?

  51. Barry Woods says:

    Marco – I don’t ‘know’ any dragon slayers, besisde meeting JS once, who thought an a###, same goes for Monckton, met once argued, thought #### not least because his ego took over and he felt compelled to write about it, breaking other people’s confidences..

  52. Barry Woods says:

    dana1981 – the scientists can’t tell how much warming in the 80-90’s was natural vs man made, need I quote Sir Brian Hoskins, and Dame Julia Slingo, saying , now thinking natural variability was a bigger factor than previously thought, during that period..

    maybe they could be added to your ‘climate misinformation’. page as well at Skeptical Science

  53. Barry Woods says:

    O’Patrick

    ref your suggestion:

    [SkS myth] might be better expressed as something like:
    A common skeptic argument is that climate has changed naturally in the past, long before SUVs and coal-fired power plants, so there is lots of uncertainty about whether humans are the cause of the current global warming.

    that would, I think be a much fairer (thought not perfect) reflection of what a lot sceptics think, but I also think it very unlikely that Skeptical Science will make that change….

  54. Barry,
    Sure, but I think those are two different issues. We have the issue of explaining decadal variability which is clearly influenced by natural variability. I don’t think anyone here would dispute that natural/internal variability could have contributed to the faster warming during the 80s and 90s and to the slower warming during the 2000s. That’s entirely reasonable and quite likely.

    However, as I point out above, the IPCC attribution statement clearly indicates that it’s unlikely that natural/internal variability could have produced more than about 20% of the warming since 1950 (and, in fact, quite possible that it contributed to cooling during that period).

    So, just because natural variability can influence the surface warming trend does not mean that natural variability can contribute to long-term warming. The only way it can do this is if the natural influences change our energy imbalance and hence change the equilibrium temperature. If you think that Julia Slingo and Brian Hosklins accepting that natural influences could have contributed during the 80 and 90s somehow means that natural influences can drive long-term warming, then I think you’re sorely mistaken and have taken what they said out of context.

  55. OPatrick says:

    The page was written some 6 years ago, I think, so it may well just be out of date – demonstrates how ‘scepticism’ morphs over time.

    Why do you think it unlikely that Sceptical Science will make the change? What advantage is there in them not doing so?

  56. Barry,

    A common skeptic argument is that climate has changed naturally in the past, long before SUVs and coal-fired power plants, so there is lots of uncertainty about whether humans are the cause of the current global warming.

    Do you actually believe this argument has merit? I think it’s pretty ridiculous myself, but maybe you could convince me that I’m wrong.

  57. Barry Woods says:

    I merely said it is better, a long long way from being perfect.

    As brief example would be late 20th century warming was put down as primarily AGW,

    yet similar periods and rates of warming were observed in the instrument record, early 1900’s for example.. and the question is how do we know the second is AGW, when we know the first was primarily not.. and the cooling period in between, has always been put down to aerosols.. (recently there are question that aerosol had a weaker effect, seeking some other explanation for this period , and current ‘supressed warming’

    Typically we might find sceptics responding with ‘climate has changed in the past’ in response to claims that warming is unprecedented, and all down to man..So perhaps if you perceive it more as a question, rather than a counter, there would be better understanding.

    the then SkS response (and others), that is a silly sceptic myth, I think just alienates anyone coming new to a debate, who for themselves think it is a perfectly reasonable question, and they end up asking themselves why the hostility/ridicule, and another new sceptic gets born..

    My personal example, is on reading about climategate and the run up to Copenhagen, I asked a climate scientist friend about claims about 2m to 6m of sea level rise (for 2C), she gave a response that was actually 59cm worse case scenario, and that wasn’t that likely, pointing out, that 2m – 6m in the next 90 years (implied in a lot of media articles ) was just totally implausible, with no science behind it. She then directed me to look at RealClimate, who like WUWT I had never heard of either, so I went there in total good faith on the recommendation of a good friend. I asked what I thought were reasonable questions (and was instantly singled out as yet another ‘denier’ and deleted into oblivion. You can find similar observations under the Reader Backgrounds at The Air Vent, and the Denizens thread at Climate Etc.

    Which sounds like a communication problem to me.

  58. Barry Woods says:

    ‘scepticism morphs’

    I think you would understand it better, or at least consider the possibility, if you consider that scepticism is a reaction to the ‘climate concerned’ so if it ‘morphs’ it is merely responding to whatever current news of the day.. it is reactive not morphing, if the old topic was still current, hyped up in the media, then sceptics would still be reacting to it..

    the concerned view, is that sceptics are keep changing there tune, others might see it as the concerned keep putting a new story out there, and the sceptics responding.. perceptions…

  59. Barry,

    Which sounds like a communication problem to me.

    Quite possibly. I don’t think you’ve really answered my question. The IPCC clearly concludes that there is only a very small chance that natural influences can have provided more than about 20% of the warming since 1950. Do you agree with this or not?

    Also, I don’t think that suggestion that the warming in the early 1900s (by which I think you mean that couple of decades of fast warming prior to 1950) was not anthropogenic is quite correct. The solar flux rose during that period as did CO2 concentrations. Combined, these produce a forcing similar to the change in forcing we’ve seen during recent decades. So, we can explain these different periods and very little contradicts our understanding of how the surface is warming.

  60. Barry,

    I think you would understand it better, or at least consider the possibility, if you consider that scepticism is a reaction to the ‘climate concerned’ so if it ‘morphs’ it is merely responding to whatever current news of the day.. it is reactive not morphing, if the old topic was still current, hyped up in the media, then sceptics would still be reacting to it..

    That doesn’t sound particularly convincing then. If I’m concerned (which I am) it’s because of my understanding of the scientific evidence. Most of those who are concerned are similar, I think. There may well be extremists who don’t help the debate, but any increase in general concern is because (in my opinion at least) the scientific evidence has got stronger.

    If you’re suggesting that changes in “skeptic” behaviour is a response to changes in the behaviour of those who are concerned, then that would seem to weaken their position quite substantially. If it’s simply a response to another group, rather than based on the actual scientific evidence, then that would seem to be an argument for marginalising them even more, rather than an argument for taking what they say into more consideration.

  61. Barry Woods says:

    Opatrick, call me a cynic.. but SkS moving closer to a response that more accurately reflects sceptic views, vs one that doesn’t.

  62. OPatrick says:

    I think I’d rather call you a ‘cynic’.

  63. OPatrick says:

    the then SkS response (and others), that is a silly sceptic myth, I think just alienates anyone coming new to a debate, who for themselves think it is a perfectly reasonable question, and they end up asking themselves why the hostility/ridicule, and another new sceptic gets born..

    Can you point out either where the ‘silly’ comes from and where the hostility/ridicule is in Sceptical Science’s response to this myth? What do you think might be born by your own repeated claims about Sceptical Science?

  64. Barry Woods says:

    And I disagree, they do argue on the evidene.. they respond, saying what is it, lets look at it, show us the data (and complain when scientist like Phil Jone’s come out with no) lets lok at all the evidence, lots of one hit wonder press releases for new papers, and other scientist disagree, or opposing papers, – sea level being one.

    ie some daft claim 2m-6m seal level rise, they look for the evidence, assertions that warming is unprecedented, they look for the evide. claims that 300k people are dying, they look for the evidence. and when they look at the actual science, vs the media misrepresenations and caveat free alarmism, they find the science does not support that.

    again, I feel you are distorting or misrepresenting my point, whether that is unconscious or deliberate I have no way of telling.

    It is NOT: responding to a group, without having any scientific evidence..

    it is responding to a group who make claims, asking to see the evidence, and looking at the evidence to see if those claims that are put forward are correct.

    very different, but if you want to think tat way, and SkS continue to think that way, they will continue to fail to understand why they are failing to communicate. I see very little understanding, or attempts to understand what sceptics actually think, just preconceptions.

  65. Barry Woods says:

    co2 emission did not cause the rate of warming between 1910’s and 1940’s? only thought as a big factor in 80’s-90-‘s..?

    lots of plausible explanations, but which is correct?
    as my example above more recent thinking that the PDO contributed more to warming in 80-90’s, than previously thought, which leads to possibility for it doing the same in the 1910’s-1940’s and in cool phase for the period in between.

    the oceans used to be considered a big factor, this went away, and this is now being revisited.
    mainly by events, the Met Office were predicting (strongly) in 2007-2009, that temps would warm by this year by 0.3C, massive rise, in several years vs only 0.8C over the previous 150.

    That was based on evidence and understanding and models at the time. Only now, is the PDO being considered, as a reason for this not occurring, and a ‘pause’ continuing’, because of observations in the last 7 years.

    http://www.nature.com/news/warming-jpg-7.14906?article=1.14525

    Nature’s comment:
    http://www.nature.com/news/climate-change-the-case-of-the-missing-heat-1.14525?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20140116
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2013EF000165/pdf

  66. Barry,
    I was responding to what you said. If I misunderstood what you were saying, you could clarify without suggesting that I was distorting what you said.

    I may actually agree that “skeptics” do argue the evidence. All the evidence? I don’t think so. Not from what I’ve seen. Do they understand the evidence. No, not from what I’ve seen. Do they understand basic science? No, not from what I’ve seen.

    Here’s a blunt question for you? Do you really think that a bunch of largely scientifically untrained pseudo-skeptics understand climate science better than 1000s of climate scientists? You may think that I’m appealing to authority here, but I’m not. I’m just puzzled by how anyone can sensibly think that people with virtually no formal training are somehow seeing things that professionals are not.

    Similarly – given the topic of this post – are you happy with Andrew Montford being interviewed by the BBC about climate models? If so, why?

  67. Barry Woods says:

    I’m not the best person to ask about SkS. I’m obviously non-neutral, for varying reason’s not least because of the ‘Recursive Fury’ issue. I’m trying to honestly put across my perceptions, try and see if they have any merit, without your own preconceptions of me or SkS.

  68. Barry,

    co2 emission did not cause the rate of warming between 1910′s and 1940′s? only thought as a big factor in 80′s-90-’s..?

    Show your scientific credentials and provide a citation please.

    Rough numbers. Incoming solar flux increased by about 0.6 Wm-2 between 1900 and 1950. Do a Google search and you can find a figure. Divide by 4 to give the average increase across the globe. So, an increase of solar forcing of about 0.15 Wm-2. Atmospheric CO2 increased from around 300ppm to 320ppm. CO2 forcing therefore increased by 5.35 ln(320/300) = 0.35Wm-2.

    So, external forcings increased by about 0.5 – 0.6 Wm-2 during the first half of the 20th century. At least half of this was CO2. Therefore, one can explain the early warming as a combination of increased Solar forcing and increased CO2. Maybe also some internal/natural variability. However, if you think CO2 played no role, then I think you’re wrong and are simply repeating a typical “skeptical” argument without applying even a modicum of actual skepticism.

  69. Barry Woods says:

    if you can’t even allow yourself to call sceptics – sceptics, but just use the Sks framing of sceptics, or ‘fake sceptics’ I see little point continuing here:

    ref this (another strawman?)

    “Do you really think that a bunch of largely scientifically untrained pseudo-skeptics understand climate science better than 1000s of climate scientists? You may think that I’m appealing to authority here, but I’m not. I’m just puzzled by how anyone can sensibly think that people with virtually no formal training are somehow seeing things that professionals are not. ”

    but there are not 1000’s of scientists, on the key attribution issues, or key areas of robust discussion. Prof Mike Hulme, made the same observation, ie 1000’s do not agree on each bit, the ocean experts focus on oceans, paleo on paleo, smaller groups of people.

    His response itself was distorted as well in the media (by media, and some sceptics)

    as he says it is much more nuanced. and explained
    http://mikehulme.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Correcting-reports-of-the-PiPG-paper.pdf

    let us be clear.. do you think I am a ‘pseudo-sceptic’ or ‘fake sceptic’?

  70. Barry Woods says:

    ref Andrew Montford.. I would like the BBC to interview somebody that put forwards the issues with ‘climate models’ I think Andrew did a reasonable job.. the best person to?
    What I would perhaps like to see 2 climate scientists (or more) discussing this on the BBC, in the same manner as they asked virtually all the same questions at the #RSclimate debate. or the BBC leading this discussion, in a similar debate.

    the person perhaps best to ask, was the scientist who went on the BBC with Andrew, ask him whether Andrew was asking reasonable questions. if he had no problems (or if did explained why)with Andrew, that would be good enough for me for the BBC’s responsibility

  71. johnrussell40 says:

    Barry. What do you think your views would be now if that first time you went to RealClimate you’d been received in a more ‘understanding’ way?

    I think it’s true to say that some people who are very knowledgeable about a subject can be very patronising when talking to someone just starting out in that subject. But, as a beginner, you also need to be quite circumspect when asking what might be taken to be ‘dumb’ questions. It also works both ways because if you question, however gently, the views of those on denial sites you will often be ridiculed, forcibly.

    I think what I’m suggesting is perhaps you need to think hard whether you over-reacted to your first experience at the hands of RealClimate or whether your question was asked in as much innocence as you think it was. Can you provide a link to it so that we might ponder upon it?

  72. Tom Curtis says:

    Barry Woods, before you prattle on about “silly skeptic myths”, read the SkS 2nd law page comments from beginning to end – all 1426 of them. Any site defending climate science at a basic level must defend it not only against the more sensible versions of skepticism, but also against the ridiculous versions. And ridiculous versions are out their in abundance. I think my favourite would have to be the recurrently argued claim that global warming is caused by radar.

    The reason SkS has to continuously rebut these silly myths is because “skeptic” sites won’t. Even the most absurd theories can get a hearing at popular “skeptic” sites with little fear of rebutal. Five years after Miskolczi published his nonsense, for example, A Watt’s was still supporting it. Admittedly, a year later he put the dragon slayers to bed, but only because, in the words of Fred Singer, they were “…Giving Us Skeptics a Bad Name”. (Of course, having sworn of dragon slaying, Watts started promoting the equally intellectually indefensible Salby.)

    Skeptic arguments are not limited to those you wish skeptics employed. They are certainly not limited to those you say they employ.

  73. Steve Bloom says:

    Anders, why in the world are you still engaging with Barry? Is there something you still don’t understand about his behavior? Or do you actually expect him to change in some way? I’m very curious.

  74. Barry,

    if you can’t even allow yourself to call sceptics – sceptics, but just use the Sks framing of sceptics, or ‘fake sceptics’ I see little point continuing here:

    It infuriates me that a bunch of people who are being completely unskeptical, get to call themselves skeptics. There is no way I’m going to acknowledge such people as real skeptics. They aren’t. Whether you choose to continue here or not is entirely up to you.

    As far as the 1000s goes, you’re dodging. The question is really whether or not you think a group of scientifically untrained people have somehow noticed something that professionals have been missing.

    As far as what you are, I really can’t speak for your intent. Do I think you understand climate science sufficiently to have a public voice (about the science specifically)? No, I don’t.

  75. Steve,
    I really don’t know the answer to your question.

  76. Barry Woods says:

    Tom – trust is hard won and easily lost… ref John Cook, you and I know that he failed to publish Lewandowsky’s survey, yet covers Lewandowsky for his ‘mistake’ – which is why I’m not a ‘neutral’ party on this, and have declared myself so.

    Similarly, ethics and conflicts of interest, are something he does not understand, there is no way on earth that I would research him and yourself for a psychology paper (both for ethics and conflict of interests – reasons) about the climate blogosphere – yet he fails to see that implies to himself (and Marriot and Lewandowsky) .. – so lack of judgement come into it as well.

  77. Barry Woods says:

    And Steve Bloom approach works…. 😉

    If you want to understand sceptics -talk to them, discuss, no one is watching just a relative few people on a blog (though a pub lunch would be better, we could go halves)

    Is Steve saying stop doing this, people might see what I have got to say? and possibly even give rise to a risk, albeit, even a tiny, tiny bit, that they might find one tiny point I make agreeable,
    and that that is not to be (or should not be ) allowed…. ? 😉

    I could be spending all my time writing articles for WUWT, but I would rather try to engage and discuss. I did say ages ago, I would prefer one to one chats, as ‘peer pressure’ and other commenters get in the way.

  78. Barry,

    If you want to understand sceptics -talk to them, discuss, no one is watching just a relative few people on a blog (though a pub lunch would be better, we could go halves)

    Always happy to consider a pub lunch, but I’m not specifically interested in understanding sceptics (by which I mean sceptics as you mean it, not how I mean it). Why? I’m partially interested in how a group of people with no formal scientific training can be so arrogant as to assume that they know better than the professionals. I’m also partially interested in how they’re managing to get such a strong voice in this discussion (given how little they appear to actually understand climate science).

    At the end of the day, there’s the scientific evidence and it frustrates me that it get’s pushed to one side so easily in these discussion. As an example, you said

    co2 emission did not cause the rate of warming between 1910′s and 1940′s? only thought as a big factor in 80′s-90-’s..?

    I then presented some basic calculations to show that CO2 forcing likely contributed at least half of the warming during that period. You’ve completely ignored this and moved on. Do you stand by your statement? Did I misunderstand your statement? Do you agree with what I’ve said? Do you disagree with what I’ve said – if so, why? You’ve provided a statement with no evidence and then completely ignored my response which attempts to show that CO2 likely did contribute to that earlier warming (cause, maybe not, but a significant contribution).

    As for Montford on the BBC, as I said in the post, he was fine. He didn’t say anything that was strictly incorrect. Would one have listened to that and been able to learn something about climate models and the significance/relevance of the uncertainties in the modelling. From what Montford said, no I don’t think you would. You say

    I would like the BBC to interview somebody that put forwards the issues with ‘climate models’

    Well, I would like the BBC to interview someone who actually understand climate models and can present an overall picture of their strengths and weaknesses, not someone who only presents their weaknesses.

  79. Barry Woods says:

    Anders I asked about me – not people generally..

    do you se ME, as a ‘pseudo-sceptic’ or a ‘fake-sceptic’?

    No doubt there are lots of people out there who are just plain wrong, and they probably do not know it.. calling them ‘pseudo-sceptic’ or ‘fake sceptics’ actually backfires I think..

    Equally there are large numbers of concerned commenters that are ‘wrong’, or angry.

    an example, I saw Skeptical Science and Guardian contributor GPWayne actually called a ‘sceptic/denier’ in the comments of the Guardian the other day, for making a nuance argument, and his reply was brilliant!

    http://discussion.theguardian.com/comment-permalink/31467026

    WRONG and explaining why, will come across much better to the public observing, I think, – labels like ‘pseudo sceptics’, like ‘sceptics’ in quotes, like ‘fake-sceptics’ like ‘anti-science’ or thinking like the ‘Republican Brain’ I think get perceived by public as political rhetoric used to dismiss a political opponent.

  80. Barry,
    I agree with you about the labels. It doesn’t help, but it’s hard to have such discussions without using labels of some kind or other. So, I know “denier” is disliked, therefore I try not to use it. I won’t use skeptic without quotations because, in my opinion, those who I’m referring to are not actually sceptics. I could use contrarian, but you knew what I meant.

    Do I think you’re actually sceptical in the sense that I mean it. No, I don’t. I don’t think you get to decide that climate sensitivity is likely low. If you’ve decided that (as I think you have) then I think you’ve cherry-picked the evidence and I would not regard that as being skeptical. Could you end up being right? Yes, of course there’s a chance that climate sensitivity will be on the low side; the range is quite large. Is it likely that you will be right. I would say no, simply because – statistically speaking – it’s more likely that climate sensitivity will be in the middle of the range than at either extreme.

    I think get perceived by public as political rhetoric used to dismiss a political opponent.

    You may have a point, but that doesn’t mean that the labelling isn’t appropriate.

  81. Barry Woods says:

    I cross posted, and I had though I had answered.
    I did say, more warming caused by co2 in 80-90’s than 1910-1940’s, & not none in 10’s-40’s?
    I also have no problem with half of warming being thought of due to co2 in the 80-90’s.
    But if I were to say now, ‘maybe’ only 40% due to PDO, would that be wrong to even consider it..

    Actually that is a very good question to put to Julia Slingo and the Met Office..

    with reference to – Royal Society – Julia Slingo, October 2013

    “…it’s a great presentation about 15 years being irrelevant, but I think, some of us might say if you look at the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and it’s timescale that it appears to work, it could be 30 years, and therefore I think, you know, we are still not out of the woods yet on this one. …

    If you do think it’s internal variability, and you say we do think the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is a key component of this, and it’s now in it’s particular phase, but was previously in the opposite phase, could you not therefore explain the accelerated warming of the 80s and 90s as being driven by the other phase of natural variability?” – Julia Slingo – Q/A session

    audio 44min 50s
    [audio src="http://downloads.royalsociety.org/events/2013/climatescience-next-steps/marotzke.mp3" /]

    responding to Prof Jochen Marotzke of the German Max Planck Institute of Meteorology

    http://royalsociety.org/events/2013/climatescience-next-steps/

    So – What proportion of the warming do we consider due to natural variability and AW in the 80’s and 90′. ie the IPCC’s ‘more than half’ of warming since 1950’s , allows a range of from say 51% – 100%

    Do the Met Office think in the 50’s %, do NASA think 90’s %. (or vice versa, )It would be a very interesting question to ask.

  82. Barry Woods says:

    No one is saying it is I, that GETS to say ‘climate sensitivity is low’

    I am saying I think, that is likely to be low, at the lower end of IPCC range, and my reasoning is the longer the ‘pause’ continues the more the models get constrained in this direction. I equally say, should the rate rise, or start meeting the projected rises, that would also vindicate the models and show a higher sensitivity.. this is not something say R Betts disagree with me on. see video of me and Betts discussing this at the Met Office..

    so when you say, that I GET to say….

    I think you are misrepresenting me, I’m not claiming to GET to say anything, beyond expressing my opinion (and explain why)

  83. Barry,

    So – What proportion of the warming do we consider due to natural variability and AW in the 80′s and 90′. ie the IPCC’s ‘more than half’ of warming since 1950′s , allows a range of from say 51% – 100%

    No it doesn’t. The IPCC attribution statement is that it is extremely likely that anthropogenic influences contributed more than 50% of the warming since 1950. This doesn’t mean the range is 51% – 100%, it simply means that they are 95 – 100% certain that it was the dominant factor since 1950. As I pointed out above, if you actually look at the attribution figure it’s clear that they conclude that there is a 95% chance that it contributed between 80% and 120% of the warming. The chance that it contributed only 51% is vanishingly small (i.e., it would be a 5σ chance).

  84. Tom Curtis says:

    Barry Woods:

    “but there are not 1000′s of scientists, on the key attribution issues, or key areas of robust discussion. Prof Mike Hulme, made the same observation, ie 1000′s do not agree on each bit, the ocean experts focus on oceans, paleo on paleo, smaller groups of people.”

    Except that Mike Hulme did not say that. Mike Hulme made the point that:

    “it is the chapter lead authors – say 10 to 20 experts – on detection and attribution who craft the sentence about detection and attribution, which is then scrutinised and vetted by reviewers and government officials. Similarly, statements about what may happen to the meridional overturning circulation (MOC) of the ocean are crafted by those expert in ocean science, statements about future sea-level rise by sea-level experts, and so on.”

    So he was talking explicitly about the IPCC process only, while you are making a more general claim about the population of relevant experts in the discipline. That immediately expands the numbers by a factor of 10 or more. If you then include experts in closely related fields such that they have a professional interest leading them to read the relevant papers, and sufficient expertise to judge the methods used in the papers, and the conclusions drawn – then thousands do indeed agree on the consensus, and do so from a basis of personal knowledge and appropriate expertise.

  85. Barry,
    I didn’t mean that you get to say that it is low. I meant that that is what you say is likely. I’m saying that this statement

    I am saying I think, that is likely to be low, at the lower end of IPCC range, and my reasoning is the longer the ‘pause’ continues the more the models get constrained in this direction.

    implies that you’re no sceptic. In other words, the evidence you’re using to conclude that it is likely on the low end is flawed and isn’t evidence (or particularly strong evidence) for climate sensitivity likely being on the low end.

  86. Tom Curtis says:

    Barry:

    “Tom – trust is hard …”

    I note that you are uninterested in responding to my post about SkS and “silly skeptic myths” and are busy trying to distract from the issue you originally raised. Your failure to remain on topic, and your attempt to deflect the argument to another point are, I believe, typical of you, and why I do regard you as a pseudo-skeptic.

  87. Barry Woods says:

    well you did say – Get to say:

    “I don’t think you get to decide that climate sensitivity is likely low. If you’ve decided that (as I think you have) then I think you’ve cherry-picked the evidence and I would not regard that as being skeptical.”

    and as you just quoted, I said ‘I Think’ (not decided for sure)

    I said ‘I Think’ and explained why I thought that. and I also said if the evidence changed my reasoning would follow the evidence…. which shows I had not DECIDED, but could be moved by evidence, is that not ‘properly sceptical’ –

    I could ask do you GET to say who is ‘sceptical’ or not? 😉

  88. Barry,
    I know I said “get”. I didn’t mean it how you interpreted it though. I meant “get” as in “get to decide” (i.e., you’ve decided that climate sensitivity is low). No, I don’t get to decide who’s sceptical or not. I do, however, get to have my own opinion. I may, of course, be wrong.

  89. Steve Bloom says:

    Barry’s reading way too much into that material (well of course), but is this the same Julia Slingo who couldn’t have been more wrong about Arctic sea ice volume? It does make one wonder about her physical intuition.

    Re the attempt to read too much into the PDO, this is relevant.

    Anyway, the big picture that Barry avoids is long-term climate commitment. Pliocene data leaves little doubt as to the nature of that.

  90. Barry Woods says:

    Tom.. I have read a lot of SkS…

    If SkS did less ‘defending’ and more talking and discussing, they perhaps would not be so polarising, they are a cause of the problem.

    if SkS ‘defended’ the science form lots of eco silliness about the science, and even publically agreed with the odd sceptic, as Robert Way seemed to ‘privately’ about McIntyre, things would be better. But I did not respond too much earlier, as I thought our host would not want to go to much into that, happy to chat about this on your blog?

    I note you equally did not respond here, to my concerns about ethics, judgement or trust…
    which ‘perhaps’ I equally believe is typical of you?

  91. Marco says:

    Barry, you were commenting on the climategate website run by John O’Sullivan for months! Also, you’ve met Roger Tattersall, who has gone as far as deny the existence of the greenhouse effect. That already makes it two who you’ve met in person(!) who claim climate change is all natural, with CO2 playing no relevant role.

  92. Marco says:

    Tom Curtis, Watts may have supposedly put the dragon slayers to bed, he has no problems giving them a forum on his blog. Just look for Tim Ball’s opinion pieces.

  93. andrew adams says:

    Barry,

    A couple of points.

    First of all I don’t really buy the “if you only met skeptics you’d understand them” argument. Apart from the fact that it is physically impossible to meet everyone you argue with on the internet in order to make a personal judgement about them, if we choose to create an online identity for ourselves then we should be prepared to be judged according to our behaviour in the various online platforms, forums etc where we choose to engage. Or TL;DR being a nice guy in real life doesn’t get you a pass for being an arse on the internet (this applies to all of us – it’s not specifically directed at you).

    Secondly, the examples you give about claims made by the “concerned” which require evidence seem to me to be at the rather extreme end of the scale. For example who exactly is saying that we will see 2-6m sea level rise in the next 90 years? That is certainly not the IPCC position. I’m not saying that extreme claims aren’t made or that you shouldn’t challenge them, you certainly should, but the case for AGW being a real problem which requires action doesn’t rest on such claims, it is justified by the mainstream scientific view as put forward (somewhat conservatively some might say) by the IPCC.

  94. On the topic of sea level, this post by Aslak Grinsted appears to be suggesting that the worst case is quite a bit worse than one would conclude from AR5. Maybe not quite 2m, but not far off (~ 1.7m).

  95. andrew adams says:

    Anders,

    Yes, I agree that some people certainly think the IPCC estimate is conservative and I don’t think that 1.7m as a worst case scenario is outrageous given the uncertainties surrounding the ice sheets, but that’s still a long way from 6m.

  96. Barry,

    If SkS did less ‘defending’ and more talking and discussing, they perhaps would not be so polarising, they are a cause of the problem.

    Here’s a serious question for you. I’ve tried talking. Maybe you disagree, but I think I’ve tried and I’ve tried to remain pleasant. However, with a few notable exceptions, I’ve found contrarians unpleasant. If their behaviour in real life is anything like their behaviour online, I have no desire to get anywhere near them.

    Additionally (and this will sound condescending and arrogant, so apologies in advance) they appear scientifically illiterate. How much time should I spend talking to people who appear not to even understand the basics? It’s a waste of my time. Again, some exceptions, but the norm seems to be people who don’t understand the basics physics well enough to actually have an opinion about climate science.

    So, here’s my question. How would SkS talking more help? I can’t see how it would. It’s no good talking more if the people you’re talking to don’t understand the basics well enough to know when they’re wrong.

  97. Andrew,
    Yes, you’re right. I had thought that Barry had only mentioned it being as much as 2m, but he did indeed say 2m – 6m. So, yes, that is rather extreme.

  98. andrew adams says:

    Regarding the early 20C warming the following paper is interesting

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0442%282004%29017%3C3721%3ACONAAF%3E2.0.CO%3B2

    OK, it’s 10 years old so there may be other more recent papers which are considered more reliable, but the conclusion seems to be a combination of solar, volcanoes and GHG, with the latter obviously much more of a factor towards the end of the century.

    Regarding attribution, I’m once again drawn to a comment I made in a previous thread that drawing conclusions about the amount of warming caused by CO2 by discussing the PDO and other “natural” influences is all very well but it seems silly not to take into account our understaning of the warming properties of CO2 itself. I mean even if we accept a value for climate sensitivity at the lower end of the IPCC estimates CO2 would still account for the majority of observed warming.

  99. Andrew,

    drawing conclusions about the amount of warming caused by CO2 by discussing the PDO and other “natural” influences is all very well but it seems silly not to take into account our understaning of the warming properties of CO2 itself. I mean even if we accept a value for climate sensitivity at the lower end of the IPCC estimates CO2 would still account for the majority of observed warming.

    I agree.

  100. Barry Woods says:

    not even Roger, thinks aerosols, etc has no effect, nor John Sullivan.

  101. Barry Woods says:

    I’ll have to check, but I don’t think even those 2 think CO2 has no effect whatsoever.

  102. Barry Woods says:

    new AVOID report today: (Tundal, Walker, Grantham, Met Office)
    ref sea level:

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/r/m/Key_findings_of_the_AVOIDing_Dangerous_Climate_Change_research_programme.pdf

    “While it’s not possible to rule out increases in sea level in
    excess of 1 metre by the end of the century, it is more likely to be less than this.”

    the friend I mentioned earlier (a contributor)

  103. Barry,
    As far as I’m aware, Roger thinks Einstein’s wrong and that there is an aether. I really wouldn’t take Roger’s scientific views particularly seriously.

    As far as sea level goes, sure, I wasn’t trying to suggest that it will be almost 2m. I was simply pointing out that some credible people think the IPCC has been conservative and that the worst case scenario is actually worse than one would conclude from the IPCC report alone.

  104. Barry Woods says:

    right, so when a arguably ‘consensus of scientists’ (ie the Walker Institute, the Grantham Institute, the Met Office Centre Hadley and the Tyndall Centre) advise the DECC and government about sea level..

    a few people become important?

    John Cook:( 2010)
    “The science tells us warming of 2C will raise sea levels 6 to 9 metres. How people respond to this is an interesting exercise in cognitive dissonance. Because it takes a valiant feat of psychological gymnastics to be comfortable with that piece of knowledge.”

    2010: My ex IPCC friend, Ex Met Office modeller, DECC advisor and AVOID contributor, said to me in 2010, worst case 59cm (1metre not ruled out but very unlikely)

    and when I look at the ‘science’ I see for myself that is what the science and IPCC say.

    who would you go with, if you were I…
    I trust the science, sadly far to little of it gets in the media, when it does the caveats, are ignored and single paper worst case very unlikely’s somehow become facts.

  105. Barry,

    a few people become important?

    I don’t understand the context of this comment. If people are mis-representing the scientific evidence then that would be objectionable, whoever they are.

    John Cook:( 2010)
    “The science tells us warming of 2C will raise sea levels 6 to 9 metres. How people respond to this is an interesting exercise in cognitive dissonance. Because it takes a valiant feat of psychological gymnastics to be comfortable with that piece of knowledge.”

    I think John Cook is correct, but he’s talking about what would happen over many centuries if surface temperatures were to rise by 2oC. He’s not talking about what would happen by 2100. Happy to be corrected if I’m wrong though.

  106. Barry Woods says:

    this surfaced in the Inconvenient Truth, and elsewhere comparing where sea levels were in the past when the world was at 2C…

    what is annoying, is that 2m-6m is mentioned, without ever offering the timescale to the public, leaving perhaps the plausible denialbility, that they did not mean any time soon (public assume by 2100)?

    BBC’s Richard Black:
    “Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth received some criticism for implying that a rise of 20ft (6m) was possible in the near future, although it did not give a definite timeframe. ”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7598861.stm

  107. Tom Curtis says:

    Barry:

    “I did not respond too much earlier, as I thought our host would not want to go to much into that”

    Then you should not have raised the issue in the first place. Raising an issue and then not defending it out of politeness looks to me very like an attempt have ideas up that you cannot defend, and know that you cannot defend. Avoiding the issue by first raising an entirely separate issue that you will likewise not be able to defend out of politeness makes it look like a very deliberate strategy.

    “I note you equally did not respond here, to my concerns about ethics, judgement or trust…
    which ‘perhaps’ I equally believe is typical of you?”

    As I have responded extensively to you on exactly those issues on other blogs, and in private emails; and as you began those private discussions with me because I had independently raised those issues (on which I agreed) at SkS in the first place, you know for a fact that it is not typical of me.

    What you may have noticed is also typical of me is a disinclination to endlessly recycle with you the same conversation, which you seem to want to do, apparently because you have no interest in actually discussing the science.

  108. Barry Woods says:

    the Guardian ramping up hype Cop15 time?
    (scientists I know, at the time thought this irresponsible utter b~~~~~~)

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/dec/16/ipcc-sea-level-rise-temperatures

    “Study forecasts 9m sea-level rise if temperatures meet 2C threshold
    Hundreds of millions of people around the world would be affected as low low-lying coastal areas became inundated

    Global sea levels could rise by up to 9m in the next few hundred years, even if the world manages to stabilise average temperatures to 2C above pre-industrial levels, according to a new study.”

  109. Barry,
    That criticism may well be justified. In fact, if they did not make this clear, then it is justified in my opinion. However, that does not change that a 2oC rise in temperatures will eventually result a 6m – 9m rise in sea level. You implied that John Cook was wrong (or, at least, this is how I interpreted your comment). I presume that you’re now accepting that he wasn’t.

  110. Barry,
    What’s wrong with the article? I don’t know if a few hundred years is correct or not, but if it is, are you implying the article shouldn’t have said that.

  111. Barry Woods says:

    hi Tom.. I do appreciate your honesty and sincerity with the survey. but it is still not resolved, the paper remains uncorrected. Lewandowsky has still not thought to acknowledge it and correct it, then going after critics with Fury was just unethical beyond belief. I gave every opportunity (so did Geoff) for them (Cook/Lewandowsky) to say oh yes, a mistake easily corrected, thank you, but they defended to the death, rather than be shown to be wrong (by a ‘sceptic)
    Then Cook and Marriot were the ‘independent’ researchers that used to name Geoff myself and other critics in the follow up paper.

    even Michael Tobis saw the problem there:
    http://planet3.org/2013/04/03/recursive-fury-backfires/
    and WMC thought it a ‘mess’

  112. Barry Woods says:

    I’m saying the scientists thought it very, very very unlikely, utter ######### and thousands of years.

  113. Barry,
    I’ll take your word for it. I don’t know enough to know myself. Great to see scientists criticising alarmist reporting, isn’t it?

  114. Barry Woods says:

    not publically. chat over dinner.

  115. Did you criticise them for not doing it publicly then?

  116. johnrussell40 says:

    I just did a search for that quote from John Cook to see the context, Barry. All that came up were examples of you spreading that quote around the web. Nothing from John Cook. Please point us to where he said that. Or are you paraphrasing?

  117. badgersouth says:

    andthentheresphysics:

    Why have you let Barry Woods hijack this comment thread? Very few of his posts have anything to do with the OP.

  118. andrew adams says:

    The only issue I have with the Guardian report Barry mentions (and this is a common gripe) is that it doesn’t have a direct link to the study in question. Other than that it is perfectly reasonable – it makes the timescale perfectly clear that and puts the estimate from Kopp’s study in the context of the IPCC’s estimates and another recent study. Seriously, this is not “alarmist” reporting.

  119. badgersouth,
    Because I’m soft, I think 🙂

    To be honest, I think it’s partly because Barry is about the only dissenting voice left. Admittedly, it would be nice if he actually stuck to the topic and I should probably have done a better job of insisting on that. I’ve never claimed that keeping control of a comments thread was one of my strong points 🙂

    I do think, however, that what people say says something about their credibility. Others who read this can judge for themselves how credible Barry’s views are.

  120. andrew adams says:

    If you want an example of scientists criticising “alarmism” then see the arguments over the “methane bomb”. Plenty of criticism there from all quarters.

  121. BBD says:

    I see Barry still flatly refusing to answer any questions about physics. This evasive behaviour makes Barry a fake sceptic.

  122. OPatrick says:

    Why have you let Barry Woods hijack this comment thread?

    I think it’s interesting and informative to see how weak the examples of supposed alarmism are – this is valuable context. Barry is criticising the Guardian for correct reporting of a paper published in Nature. The worst that can be said is that they haven’t actively sought out views from scientists who may be critical of the conclusions of the paper. Unless this can be shown to be a consistent problem (and I don’t think it can – indeed in my experience the opposite is true, that media such as the Guardian and the BBC bend over backwards to accomodate dissenting voices) all it does is expose how thin the available examples are.

  123. Joshua says:

    Hmmm.

    Personally, I don’t think that anyone can “hijack” a comment thread. Hijacking happens by force, and no one here is forced to respond to Barry. I have often been accused of “hi-jacking” comment threads – and in fact have been exiled from WUWT under that explanation, but in reality I am looking for an exchange of views.

    So, I don’t really want to contribute to the thread going in places that other people don’t want it to go, but I have found that Barry, at least it seems to me, tends to duck out of convos in a way that I would typically expect an exchange of point and counterpoint, and Barry responded to a comment of mine, but seems to have lost interest after I responded to his response. As I mentioned, it seems to me he has done this sort of thing previously. I find it kind of annoying.

    Barry –

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/the-bbc-and-its-balance/#comment-13430

  124. badgersouth says:

    Here’s a current example of a prominent climate scientist calling out a major mass media outlet in his country for biased reporting.

    Stefan Rahmstorf concludes his Real Climate post, “Global temperature 2013” with the following critique:

    “The German news site Spiegel Online presents these facts under the headline Warming of the air paused for 16 years (my translation). The headline of the NASA news release, NASA Finds 2013 Sustained Long-Term Climate Warming trend, is thus completely turned on its head.

    “This will not surprise anyone who has followed climate reporting of Der Spiegel in recent years. To the contrary – colleagues express their surprise publicly when a sensible article on the subject appears there. For years, Der Spiegel has acted as a gateway for dubious “climate skeptics” claims into the German media whilst trying to discredit top climate scientists (we’ve covered at least one example here).

    “Do Spiegel readers know more (as their advertising goes) – more than NASA, NOAA, Hadley Centre and the World Meteorological Organization WMO together? Or are they simply being taken for a ride for political reasons?”

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/01/global-temperature-2013/

  125. Joshua says:

    Steve Bloom –

    “Joshua, the primary problem with the media is the amount of coverage. Placement is also key. Consider e.g. the number of front page above-the-fold climate articles in the NYT in a given month. This massive shortfall sends a message that climate change is simply not important. Sure, lots of readers may prefer not to read about such an unpleasant topic, but that’s no excuse at all. Anyway, given this overwhelming lack I have to say I find arguing about the quality of the tiny sliver of existing coverage to be not very interesting.”

    Yes – I agree that there is a potential for amount of coverage and placement to be influences… but I think that most members of the public are most significantly influenced by the degree to which climate change has a clear and direct impact on their lives. I think there’s a fair amount of research that supports that view. I also think that to the extent that amount of coverage is a factor, it is likely to be mitigated by more underlying influences. For example, more above the fold coverage at the NYT will increase concern among “realists” and increase “skepticism” among “skeptics.” More coverage at Fox News (because it would likely be handled quite differently than coverage at the NYT) will likewise, increase “skepticism” among “skeptics” and increase concern among “realists.”

    I don’t buy the “deficit theory” because I think it fails to account for more predominating influences that underlie the impact of more information.

  126. Barry Woods says:

    thread hi-jacking! – that is hardly fair, when i was actively discussing with the host of the blog..!

    and responding too others.. as I am typeing a reply, I do not always see comments made in between my comments, so I’m sorry if it feels like I’m not responding. I have gone back on more than one occasion when someone said not responding and tried to, because of this.. then the ‘thread h-jacking gets thrown in..

    Also, I have work to do. so I duck in and out. have just picked 3 kids up from school. and swimming lessons and homework to do. so no more comments for quite a while.

  127. Barry Woods says:

    Joshua.
    ref this..
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/the-bbc-and-its-balance/#comment-13430
    “I read many, man “skeptics” who argue that there is no valid demonstration of any signal of ACO2 on the climate and, (2) even further, ”

    i had thought this whole comement was a statement (ie ref ‘many’ ) directed at skeptics in general, but not a question directed specifically at me?

    I will have to take a proper look later…

  128. dana1981 says:

    “the scientists can’t tell how much warming in the 80-90′s was natural vs man made … maybe they could be added to your ‘climate misinformation’. page as well at Skeptical Science”

    It’s only misinformation if somebody says it (preferably a lot of people). A lot of people make the ‘climate changed in the past, therefore…’ argument. I’ve never seen anyone say we know exactly how much of the 80s-90s warming was man-made, though we do have some idea. I’ve actually got a blog post later this week that discusses this very point, that natural variability almost certainly contributed to the accelerated surface warming in the 90s, and to the slowed surface warming over the past decade. That’s what the peer-reviewed literature indicates. So I don’t know what myth you’re suggesting we address here.

    “I’m not the best person to ask about SkS. I’m obviously non-neutral, for varying reason’s not least because of the ‘Recursive Fury’ issue.”

    Your likely misconceptions of the Recursive Fury paper aside, Skeptical Science had nothing to do with the paper.

    “publically agreed with the odd sceptic, as Robert Way seemed to ‘privately’ about McIntyre”

    Wow, just, wow. I believe you’re sincere in your beliefs Barry, but dang, you’re also extremely biased, and that clouds your judgment, as in this comment about Robert.

    Also ATTP is right about there being a significant anthropogenic component to the early 20th century warming. Probably bigger than solar, but volcanic was significant too.

  129. dana1981 says:

    “I think John Cook is correct, but he’s talking about what would happen over many centuries if surface temperatures were to rise by 2°C. He’s not talking about what would happen by 2100. Happy to be corrected if I’m wrong though.”

    You’re correct. I haven’t verified Barry’s quote, but John has several times in the past talked about the sea level rise the paleoclimate record indicates we’ll experience for various degrees of warming. But those are long-term sea level rise figures, not by 2100, nor did John ever claim otherwise. So Barry seems to be criticizing him for making entirely correct statements (this seems to be a habit of Barry’s).

    Also the 59cm max by 2100 figure comes from AR4, which *everybody* (except contrarians of course) agrees underestimated sea level rise. AR4 itself made a point of saying they were excluding the effects of dynamic processes, for example causing ice shelves to calve. And as a result, the AR5 sea level rise estimates are much higher than in AR4. So Barry keeps focusing on a figure that was explicitly an underestimate, then criticizing John Cook for making an accurate statement about what we can expect for long-term sea level rise based on paleoclimate data.

  130. JasonB says:

    Barry:

    She then directed me to look at RealClimate, who like WUWT I had never heard of either, so I went there in total good faith on the recommendation of a good friend. I asked what I thought were reasonable questions (and was instantly singled out as yet another ‘denier’ and deleted into oblivion.

    One of the problems faced by those of us who try to correct misunderstandings and misrepresentations of the science is that we are exposed to the full range of “skeptics” — including those that many on the “skeptical” side deny actually exist, even when their comments are intermingled on the same comment thread. (My favourite example is one commenter at WUWT saying something like “of course nobody denies global warming, the question is only how much is human caused” while another is busy claiming that it’s all due to “adjustments” and the world is actually cooling…)

    As a consequence of having to deal with the full gamut of crazy, and a seemingly endless supply of people who come to sites like RC and SkS to ask “innocent” questions, only to quickly turn nasty when they are answered, people tend to get very sceptical of the true nature of new people who suddenly turn up to ask an “innocent” question, especially when it is already clearly answered (sometimes in the OP).

    So you may have been truly innocent and accidentally mistaken for a troll. Heck, even I have been once on RC (and, as you showed, so was GPWayne at The Guardian). But you know what the difference was? I didn’t make up my mind based on how well I was treated. I didn’t choose sides based on how nice they were to me. I examined the evidence.

  131. Barry Woods says:

    John Cook is Skeptical Science’s founder. One of the issues is all about a survey at skeptical science. A content analysis of skeptical science by Cook. Provided to lLewandiwsky. And Cook was co-author of the 2nd paper.. but as you will.. nothing to do with SkS. . Nothing at all.

    That said I thought I would be perceived as non neutral about SkS, because of all that. Not that SkS, presumably meaning other contributors there, we’re not involved. Though My Marriot another co-author is also SkS contributor/rebuttal writer.

    kids still swimming. So attempting to type coherently on a smartphone

  132. Marco says:

    Barry, to quote Roger Tattersall “I think I agree with Markus that the overall effect of ‘greenhouse gases’ is to cool planets”.

    And O’Sullivan is co-author on the Slayers’ book, so yet another example of “it ain’t CO2!”

    Your moving goalposts if you state that they may think aerosols do have an effect.

  133. Barry Woods says:

    My comment at RC got deleted after i merely suggested as a goodwill gesture that they might link to Steve McEntire, Pielke and Lucia, for example, under ‘other Opinions on their blog roll. And that it might help them not to be perceived as an advocacy site. Eric Steig’s reply was noticed by those concerned, and my replies not allowed.
    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/extreme-climate/
    By the way Dana. I don’t make up my mind by the way that I’m treated. Evidence commenting here.
    kids getting changed. Bye for now

  134. Phill Somerville says:

    “Yes, the global surface temperatures are now falling outside the 90% confidence interval of the models, but we expect that to happen about 10% of the time, so it’s doesn’t yet indicate an issue with the models. If the surface temperatures never fell outside the 90% confidence interval, we’d eliminate the models that were outliers, which would reduce the confidence interval until the surface temperatures fell outside the 90% confidence interval about 10% of the time.”

    It ain’t necessarily so…
    If the models are modelling without the necessary ‘art’, that is to say, they are operating with implicitly wrong assumptions and internal representations then all you are doing is culling the ‘least wrong’. The effect of which, may be to reduce but not necessarily right the wrong.
    & the divergence continueth…

  135. Can I ask that we don’t turn this into a thread about SkS. In particular I would rather we didn’t discuss the Lewandowsky paper as I know virtually nothing about it and have no great desire to learn about it. I believe it has no actual bearing on climate science itself.

  136. Phil,
    Sure, but the points is that just because the observed temperatures are falling outside the 90% confidence interval does not mean that the models are wrong. It would need to do so for quite some time before one were to conclude that, based on that alone.

  137. Barry Woods says:

    Oops mixed up my people, reply to JasonB above. Small phone and I do need varifocals

    Additionally ref sea level. The AVOID doc is post AR4, 2013.
    I quoted my best information available at the time 2010 a climate scientist at a reputable institution, who would be up to date from AR4.

    And since then AVOID does not support 2m or above either, it states that 1st possible but unlikely.
    See quote and link earlier.
    kids ready, got to go.

  138. Barry,

    My comment at RC got deleted after i merely suggested as a goodwill gesture that they might link to Steve McEntire, Pielke and Lucia, for example, under ‘other Opinions on their blog roll.

    Having been involved in this debate for quite some time now, I think that was a rather silly thing to suggest. I’m not that surprised they deleted your comment. Why would a site run by professional climate scientists link to sites run by others who have virtually no actual scientific experience (and, yes, I would include Pielke in that description).

    And what does goodwill have to do with science?

  139. dana1981 says:

    I think this is a great example of your bias, Barry. You use a paper you don’t like – which had nothing to do with SkS except that it was one of the several blogs that gathered data for the paper, and John Cook is associated with both – to dismiss the entire website. Meanwhile you seem to enjoy WUWT, which is a cesspool of anti-science garbage, and CA, which for example engaged in an abhorrent attack on Robert Way (which you cite approvingly).

  140. jsam says:

    Just out of interest, on “the models are wrong” concern. Am I correct that the models are attempting to predict heat upon the surface? Being very naive and stupid, my climate science being of the internet variety, is this more a partitioning problem? The surface is but one component of the energy retention system. Then there’s the ocean. And the other atmospheric layers.

    Presumably, without discussing Hiros or sneezes, there’s a total energy that needs to be divvied up (partitioned) across the components. What’s the overall total – and is everyone reasonably confident with that number? What are the sub-totals? And do they add up?

    There’s lots written about the components. But I’ve not seen much about the overall and how it cleaves. The critical aspect is the conservation of energy. It seems clear that no matter how the increase manifests itself the unrelenting increase is not good. Where it ends up, surface, ocean or atmosphere, is only a temporary problem as the system will move towards equilibrium.

    And if someone redirects me to a good explanation along the lines of http://climatekids.nasa.gov/ my embarrassment will be complete.

  141. JasonB says:

    Barry:

    I am saying I think, that is likely to be low, at the lower end of IPCC range, and my reasoning is the longer the ‘pause’ continues the more the models get constrained in this direction. I equally say, should the rate rise, or start meeting the projected rises, that would also vindicate the models and show a higher sensitivity.

    I’m intrigued by this reasoning.

    Clearly, if the temperature trend remained low for a long period of time, that would be evidence of a low climate sensitivity, provided there were no other forcings to explain that trend. (Then we’d just have to explain why the calculations derived from paleoclimate, etc., were wrong.)

    But you say that it is likely to be low now, based on evidence already in. Why do you think that (whatever you think the ‘pause’ is) is enough to provide evidence despite being not only a transient feature of past warming but even something exhibited by models with quite large climate sensitivities?

    I think the modern temperature record is a very poor constraint on climate sensitivity, and this belief is supported by the relatively large error bars on sensitivities calculated that way. Models with wide ranges of sensitivities can reproduce the 20th-21st century record.

    The best constraints are calculations based on the Last Glacial Maximum, because even though the error bars on the actual values are larger, the change in forcing and change in temperature is so large that the derived sensitivity is more tightly constrained.

    Paleoclimate is the next best, for a similar reason. The best fit is about 2.8 C/2xCO2.

    It’s even more intriguing because of how much of the so-called ‘pause’ can be explained simply by ENSO timings (e.g. see John N-G’s fantastic graph). Add in some forcings (sun, etc.), the fact that the temperature records don’t all include the fastest-warming part of the planet (well-known even before Cowtan & Way’s excellent work), the fact that oceans have been accumulating heat, and the fact that the internal variability of models readily generates ‘pauses’ of up to 20 years even without those other factors — i.e. even if none of those things were true we could still have even a negative trend for 20 years and it wouldn’t prove anything — and I’m struggling to see why anybody would seriously think that this means that sensitivity is likely to be low.

    I think it’s likely to be about 2.8 C. Why? Because that’s the most likely figure you get when you combine all the evidence. I wish it was less, but the evidence so far isn’t in our favour.

  142. dana1981 says:

    “Can I ask that we don’t turn this into a thread about SkS. In particular I would rather we didn’t discuss the Lewandowsky paper”

    Whoops sorry ATTP, saw this too late 🙂

  143. jsam,
    The models try to do it all, but you’re right – in my opinion – that they tend to focus (publicly at least) on that one aspect and don’t present much of the rest. There is the figure from the SPM that shows the different regions, and the oceans, that does a better job of that.

    I agree about the conservation of energy issue. If they’re getting that about right, then aspects like ECS should be quite good, even if the TCR might be slightly off (for example).

    There’s a Hansen paper (Hansen & Sato I think) that suggests that they are getting the ocean response rate a little wrong and that what’s “saving” them a little is that they’re underestimating the influence of aerosols and so getting the surface warming approximately right.

  144. JasonB says:

    Barry,

    Your comment wasn’t deleted. Here it is:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/06/what-do-climate-scientists-think/comment-page-2/#comment-178909

    I think that the suggestion of linking to “luke wamer blogs” because “it might reduce the criticism of advocacy” was a little odd for the first post of an “innocent” person new to the scene; eric’s reply explained their position. The deletion of follow-ups would be consistent with what gavin said to you elsewhere: “Off topic digressions are moderated.”

    Ray Ladbury’s reply was direct but he didn’t call you a denier and I can see why they would delete the follow-ups that you posted elsewhere that showed you arguing the point with them about who they choose to link to.

    I see that they have allowed (and responded to) subsequent comments of yours and I still didn’t see any claims that you were a denier. “instantly singled out as yet another ‘denier’ and deleted into oblivion” doesn’t seem as nuanced as the situation appears to be.

  145. Dana,
    That’s alright. I was just trying to avoid this going off at a tangent.

  146. jsam says:

    For public consumption, Hansen and Sato, and their ilk, need to be dumbed down. Remember, we’re dealing with laypeople who talk of a “pause”. Explanations of more than a very few small words will come across as word salad, no matter their veracity. Denierdom communicates with a combination of soundbites and masses of blogscience (never mind the quality, feel the width). We may need a few, scientifically based, soundbites.

  147. Barry Woods says:

    JasonB as I said my replies were deleted…. Ray was allowed to respond to me, but not I, to Ray

  148. Barry Woods says:

    Dana – I said I ‘might be perceived as being non -neutral about Sks, because of Cook/Lewandowsky, if you don’t perceive me as non-neutral about SkS, because of that, great!

    as for the abhorrent attack, well it is sad, that you see only that, I’m not responsible for comment there, or Mcintyres writing. just observed that Way was saying McIntyre was not wrong on many issues.

    Robert seemed to agree with much of McIntyre’s work, why can’t this agreement be celebrated, rather, than SkS insiders thinking McIntyre is hard to take down, best to avoid trying.
    If he is right say so publically, and you will win a lot of people over, which was my point about the Steig comment calling McIntyre dishonest. (and Lucia of all people!)

    Also rather than write article at WUWT, or even comment there much, I thought for a long while why not try to talk to the perceived other side. I haven’t blogged at WUWT for ages, nor on my own blog. But I see that it is unlikely, I will very bridge this gap..

  149. Barry Woods says:

    Ref: “And what does goodwill have to do with science?”

    because people are the practitioners,

  150. dana1981 says:

    Speaking of off-topic, I’m not going to go into stolen, quote-mined, out-of-context material meant to attack an honest graduate student because he had just published an excellent paper – material which you’re selectively reading with your usual bias, and which overall actually reflects very poorly on McIntyre.

  151. Barry,

    because people are the practitioners,

    Not the ones you think goodwill should be shown towards.

    Seriously, this is a huge issue, in my opinion. Reading your comments here, you seem to think that it would improve things if everyone were to talk with each other. You said to Dana it is unikely, I will bridge this gap. I don’t see the point in bridging this gap. The science presented by Nova, Watts, McIntyre, Tallbloke, … is largely nonsensical. In a world where we have thousands of people who have spent years studying and doing research, why do we really think that the dialogue would improve if Gavin Schmidt (for example) spent more time talking to Jo Nova (for example).

    You may well be the most reasonable “skeptic” that I’ve met, and yet you’ve dodged most of the science questions and haven’t illustrated that you understand the basics. Your view that climate sensitivity is probably low appears to be based on something that can’t really be used as evidence for climate sensitivity. You continually repeat that we don’t know how much of the recent warming (since 1950 say) is anthropogenic, when we essentially do (or, at least, we have an estimate of the range).

    So, if you’re the most reasonable “skeptic” and a scientific discussion with you is largely pointless, how would a discussion with others be any better. From what I can tell, the reason you want to be engaged in this debate is not so that you can learn, it’s so that you can present alternatives. Do I really believe Jo Nova, Watts, Tallbloke, McIntyre, … would want to learn if they had a discussion with Gavin Schmidt (for example). No, they’d probably just want to use it to present their alternatives which, as far as I can tell, are nonsense.

    So, I don’t see why we should bridge any gaps. We should stop listening to “skeptics” who have no formal training or research experience and who don’t seem to understand the science associated with climate change. I think people will look back at this era with amazement.

    Of course, if we were discussing policies, then everything might be different. But we’re not. We’re talking specifically about science and I don’t understand why we would benefit from professionals engaging with amateurs who don’t appear to be willing to actually listen.

  152. BBD says:

    From what I can tell, the reason you want to be engaged in this debate is not so that you can learn, it’s so that you can present alternatives.

    And use your blog to peddle them, to the steadily-increasing irritation of several commenters here.

  153. BBD says:

    We should stop listening to “skeptics” who have no formal training or research experience and who don’t seem to understand the science associated with climate change.

    Which brings us back to the media. Peddlers of fake science and fake scepticism should not be given the microphone. They are misinformers. They should never, ever be enabled by the MSM. They should be shut out of the discourse forever. They have done enough [self-edit]ing damage already. If they are too stupid to understand the pernicious consequences of peddling dangerous nonsense then tough. The doors still slam. Enough is enough. If I never see another Montford interview on the BBC it will be too soon.

  154. izen says:

    @- jsam
    “Presumably, without discussing Hiros or sneezes, there’s a total energy that needs to be divvied up (partitioned) across the components. What’s the overall total – and is everyone reasonably confident with that number? What are the sub-totals? And do they add up?”

    I am no climate scientists but……
    (grin)

    In trying to ‘follow the energy’ as a means of understanding the climate issue {well it works in biology…and follow the money in politics!} I think the answer is yes, the total is quite well defined with low uncertainty. When climate modellers discuss problems it is not with the core radiative transfer bit.
    Sometimes when discussing evolution with creationists it is useful to see if they at least accept the basic chemistry of genetic coding. In the climate field determining if they accept MODTRAN as a accurate representation of physical reality is a similar test. As far as I can grasp that gives the basic energy imbalance at TOA and is the basis for the thermodynamic core of any climate model. Everything else is a response to that. It can be a rise in temperature at the surface, or a change in surface albedo that reduces the solar input to balance the energy budget.
    It depends how that energy is partitioned and as ever the devil is in the details.

    Although it looks very unlikely that tropical cloud irises or any other convenient homeostatic feedback system is going to prevent the extra energy from rising CO2 causing a further rise in surface temperatures.

    I agree that the NASA-for Kids site is rather good – (grin) – but unfortunately sometimes you have to plough through the word salad, and simple algebra/calculus at somewhere like Science of Doom to get a realistic glimpse of what mainstream science does understand about the thermodynamics of the climate.

    Meanwhile if you want to get a feel for the bleeding edge of models, how far behind they have left the basic – how much energy – question, and are grappling with a phase changing fluid on a rotating globe this can provide an insight.

    http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/blog/isaac-held/2013/10/21/42-aqua-planet-hurricanes-and-the-itcz/

  155. jsam says:

    Dear izen – that was a learned response. And I think I learned from it (and I do draw that distinction). In terms of mass media though it hasn’t quite the same ring as “no global warming for 17 years”. I quite like Hiros and kittens – but they’re still too elaborate. Maybe I shall find what I need when I pop out to the unicorn shop. 😦

  156. Anders, you wonder why the BBC would give a voice to Andrew Montford because “he has no formal research experience … and has never used a complex climate model”.

    Later you embellish this in the comments by saying “We should stop listening to “skeptics” who have no formal training or research experience”.

    I, on the other hand, often wonder why the professional climate scientists you are so in awe of choose to give a platform to so many amateur scientists who had no formal background in the field before becoming strident climate activists.

    In some cases these amateur “scientactivsts” have actually been invited to add their names to “peer reviewed” papers, using fictitious institutional credentials to give them a false appearance of authority.

    Some examples:-

    John Cook.

    Ex self-employed cartoonist with no publication record in any scientific field until his activist website raised his profile to the point where he became a useful PR tool for “the cause”.

    Now accorded academic status despite not even holding a doctorate in any relevant field.

    Dana Nuccitelli

    Ex Berkeley green activist & small time journalist who used to write reviews for green car magazines before joining Cook at SkS. Earns his living working for US consultancy group whose activities include environmental clean-up operations & oil/gas infrastructure.

    No prior scientific publication record but now accorded a platform as the Guardian’s primary scientific source in climate matters.

    Grant Foster [Mod : minor edit]

    Folk musician, amateur astronomist & statistician who came to prominence via his satirically titled [Mod : Given that I believe the person you’re referring to would prefer to separate their blog and other activities, I’ve edited out the name – probably an open secret to most though] blog.

    Qualified statisticians hold a dim view of his real competence in the field …….Andrew Gelman, Professor of Statistics at Columbia University said of him …”.if you look carefully, the blogger was writing from a position of ignorance of the statistical literature. It’s fine to be ignorant of the statistical literature, but it’s not so fine, I believe, to not recognize your own ignorance.”

    Nevertheless, activist scientists like Rahmstorf of PIK have invited him to add his name to peer reviewed papers, boosted by the institutional affiliation “Tempo Analytics”…. which appears to have no traceable academic history and an address that resolves to a hut in a forest in the wilds of Maine.

    Kevin Cowtan and Robert Way

    Both were vociferously involved in Cook & Nuccitelli’s activist group before publishing their recent paper attempting to mitigate the “pause” in the Hadcrut 4 record by infilling missing arctic temperatures.

    Cowtan’s field is X-ray crystallography and he describes his climate interest as a “hobby”. Way is a Geography Phd student – neither has a prior publication record a publication record in climate science.

    Their paper is, by all accounts, an interesting and reasonably executed piece of mathematical speculation about missing temperature data – but it does seem extraordinary that mainstream scientists like Gavin Schmidt and Stefan Rahmstorf are now promoting it as having equal billing with the major temperature datasets which full-time climate scientists have spent decades and millions assembling.

    One has to ask the question – if their calculations had resulted in a slightly lower temperature outcome than Hadcrut 4 would the paper ever have seen the light of day?

    The point of this post is not to denigrate the work of all these enthusiastic amateur climate scientists but simply to point out that they were all only invited into the climate science establishment because of their activism.

    Andrew Montford is also an activist and he has written a very well argued book on some generally agreed deficiencies in the climate field – so I really can’t understand why you would want to deny him a chance to express his views in public.

  157. Rachel says:

    I’ve only just managed to listen to this interview and I found it really disappointing. Andrew Montford had the upper hand throughout in my opinion and I don’t blame Paul Williams for that because I imagine radio interviews such as these are quite tough. You really need some debating skills and so probably George Monbiot would have been a better choice. At least, like Montford, he is not a scientist and so the playing field is more even. But I do agree that the best option would have been not to interview Andrew Montford at all.

    I was surprised that Andrew Montford said there “is no evidence of man-made influence [on the climate]”. He accepts that the climate has warmed and that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and presumably, that CO2 emissions are rising thanks to us, and yet somehow, we’re not responsible for the warming.

  158. BBD says:

    He is clearly lying.

  159. Tom Curtis says:

    Rachel, Barry Woods repeatedly assures us above that that sort of silly statement represents a strawman argument invented by SkS, and is not the position of any serious “skeptic”, least of all Montford. Therefore he cannot have said that (18:26). Nor can Tallbloke have said that CO2 cools the atmosphere, nor O’Sullivan that the greenhouse effect is saturated so that current increases in CO2 concentration cannot increase surface temperature.

    It’s all in our imagination /sarc

  160. Reich.Eschhaus says:

    @Tom Curtis

    “but I know there is an extensive science behind it; and that advertisers pay for extensive psychological research on the effectiveness of different types of media in convincing consumers to buy their product. ”

    That’s what they are led to believe. It is not the case though. Some buzzwords are put up to marketeers and they will then use it to convince their companies that this is the way to go. An elaborate scam basically. What is known: 1. Any publicity is good publicity (people remember the brand name) and 2. (already less certain) sex sells.

  161. Rachel says:

    BBD,

    I want to refer you to the moderation policy, specifically this bit: “Libel/defamatory: If you’re going to accuse someone of something, either have evidence or make it very clear that it is your opinion.”. So I’d like you to clarify your comment – “He is clearly lying” – by adding that this is your opinion.

    The reason I’m starting to get fussy about this is because I recently read that it’s not just the author of an actionable defamation who is liable but also, in this case, the blog owner. See Can I be liable for material posted by others on my blog post?.

  162. jsam says:

    Anything But Carbon. That is the unifying rallying cry of spewdo climate sceptics.

    I fully accept the risk of being moderated and admonished. 🙂

    Al Gore!

  163. Rachel says:

    Tom,

    You forgot to mention that Jo Nova never said, “If CO2 is having an impact on our atmosphere it is impossible to say with any certainty what that effect has been.” And it was not said less than two years ago.

  164. dana1981 says:

    Saying there’s no evidence for human influence on the climate is straight-up denial. There’s an immense amount of evidence, and it’s not hard to find. 30 seconds on Skeptical Science disproves it. You can dispute the evidence (you’d be wrong, but you can dispute it), but to say it doesn’t exist is either ignorance at a level that somebody discussing climate science on the BBC should not exhibit, or it’s hardcore denial, or it’s lying.

    Of course if we were to call Montford a liar or a denier, all hell would break loose. But in any case, it just goes to show, BBC is doing their listeners a disservice by bringing Montford on.

  165. dana1981 says:

    I just listened too. Also ridiculously wrong from Montford:

    “we haven’t seen very much warming for getting on 20 years now …. we haven’t had any warming at all for the last two decades”

    We’ve had 0.3°C surface warming over the past 2 decades (even ignoring the immense buildup of heat in the oceans, which is very relevant to human-caused global warming). 0.15°C per decade, pretty close to the mean climate model projections. Just ridiculous. And unfortunately he wasn’t called on this. Williams seemed rather overwhelmed. He made some good points, but he also let Montford get away with a lot of crap. Tough situation to be in – this is why you don’t ‘debate’ contrarians.

  166. JasonB says:

    Barry:

    JasonB as I said my replies were deleted…. Ray was allowed to respond to me, but not I, to Ray

    Right. Ray answered your question about why RC doesn’t link to “skeptical” blogs. Your subsequent replies were simply arguing the point and I can see why they’d be deleted as off-topic. Many sites will simply delete comments that argue with them about what they should and should not post because if they didn’t it’d be a very effective way for trolls to derail any actual discussion.

    I just find it interesting how you interpret the events as being “instantly singled out as yet another ‘denier’ and deleted into oblivion” and talk about alienation.

    To put this into perspective, on multiple occasions I have had comments deleted at SkS that I spent several hours writing (I like to reference sources and generate graphs, which takes a long time) not because of anything wrong with what I wrote, but purely and simply because it was regarded as “dogpiling” — i.e. against SkS’s policy of not allowing too many on the science side to respond to a “skeptic” at once because it might make them feel intimidated. This is despite the fact that I was actively engaged in a conversation with the “skeptic” at the time, and that my deleted comments were in response to comments the “skeptic” had made to me as part of that conversation, effectively allowing them to have the final word and leaving me unable to reply.

    Now, I freely admit that after the last time it pissed me off so much that I decided not to bother commenting there again after they didn’t respond to my (privately emailed) request for clarification of the rules so I had a shot at being able to predict when my comments would be summarily deleted and when they’d be allowed to stand, but it didn’t cause me to doubt the reality of AGW — merely to go elsewhere.

    Seeing first hand how far SkS is willing to bend over backwards to ensure a “non-hostile” environment for genuine “skeptics” to engage in — even to the extent of deleting perfectly acceptable comments purely to avoid the “skeptic” from feeling overwhelmed — it’s rather ironic how they are portrayed in the “skeptic” world. I’ve engaged with many “skeptics” who refuse to even follow a link to an SkS posting on a subject because they believe it’s so heavily biased that they won’t even look at it, presumably because that’s what they’ve heard.

    Strangely, I’m not afraid to actually look at “skeptical” sites to see what they are trying to argue, although I am occasionally concerned that my head will explode when doing so. 🙂

  167. JasonB says:

    While waiting for Barry to explain the reasoning behind his belief that the recent ‘pause’ is enough to conclude that climate sensitivity is at the low end of the IPCC’s range, I thought this post by Tamino on Kosaka and Xie would be worth reading.

    In particular, the “POGA-H vs Observed Temperature” graph shows just how well one of the fastest warming climate models (0.317 C/decade on CMIP3, according to Tom Curtis) matches the modern temperature record when the actual ENSO record was used as a constraint.

    If only low sensitivity models were able to reproduce the record then the recent temperature trend might be useful for constraining sensitivity, but that does not appear to be the case.

  168. Ian Forrester says:

    I agree with Dana and BBD, we should call a spade a spade. Why have so many scientists pussy footed around this whole issue. We all know what [Mod : deleted] people the likes of Montford, McIntyre, Woods, et al. are. We have allowed them to set the rules and have allowed them to be called in terms which they approve instead of the honest terms we are barred from using. No wonder many people listen to “those who cannot be named” since they are made to look innocent. and we cannot call a spade a spade.

    Appeasement didn’t work for Neville Chamberlain and it wont work for climate science.

  169. Tom Curtis says:

    Ian Forrester, exactly!

    That is why it is important to clearly identify deniers as deniers. We will never have time to respond to every point in their never ending Gish Gallop. Not even on our own forums, let alone theirs, or in the media. We can, however, clearly identify practitioners of pseudo-science as such; and make it an issue as to why purportedly reputable media organizations are giving pseudo-scientists a national or sometimes international voice.

    (As an aside to BBD, that is also why it is important to distinguish between actual practitioners of pseudo-science, and those who merely disagree with the consensus, in either direction.)

  170. izen says:

    The sort of statements made by ‘sceptics’ that minimise or deny the human role in climate change are so far outside the scientific mainstream that it is no longer even marginally credible as a coherent evidential argument about the human understanding of the climate.

    Such statements have become mere tribal flags, signifiers of adherence to an ideological position. The issue has matured to the point where it is well known by both sides where the mainstream science is. There is less and less direct refutation of those denier tropes and memes because they have little relevance for the science. the only purpose of making such outlandish statements is to advertise your membership of the shrinking minority who share this anti-science stance for political reasons.

    The same transition happened some time ago in the evolution-v-creationist field. There is very little discussion of evolution left because when a rare YEC does post outside the creationist enclave they are doing so to proclaim their religious purity, not to make a credible argument on the biology.

    With the recent AR5 and the observable changes in the climate such denialist posts merely identify the poster as a crank who rejects mainstream science. Arguing against the mainstream science is just a political stance, not relevant to any discussion of the real processes observed in the climate system.

  171. Foxgoose,
    I wasn’t sure whether to post your comment or not. Discussions with you have never been particularly constructive. I don’t know why you think I’m in awe of climate scientists, probably because you think that’s a clever little dig.

    In some cases these amateur “scientactivsts” have actually been invited to add their names to “peer reviewed” papers, using fictitious institutional credentials to give them a false appearance of authority.

    I think this is a massive claim you’ve just made. I would say provide some evidence, but I doubt you can do so.

    All the names you mention are people who have published papers on climate science. John Cook is a research fellow and PhD student in Queensland. Kevin Cowtan is a physicist in York. Robert Way a PhD student in Canada. I don’t know much about Grant Foster. Dana Nuccitelli, has published a few papers, but I’ve also heard him claim that he does not regard himself as a climate scientist.

    To be quite clear, I wouldn’t regard them as being the best to interview about climate science either, but at least they all have publication records. This isn’t about Montford versus other high-profile people in the social media. This is about whether or not a major media outlet should be interviewing bloggers or actual experts. I would go for actual experts.

    why you would want to deny him a chance to express his views in public.

    I don’t. Let’s make that very clear, and even you should have been able to work this out. What I fail to understand is how he is someone who should be interviewed when discussing the details of climate models. Yes, he clearly is someone active in the climate science debate and there may well be situations in which he would be a perfectly suitable interviewee. An expert on climate modelling, he is not though (in fact, not really an expert on climate science at all, in my opinion).

  172. Tom Curtis says:

    anders, Grant Foster is an accomplished statistician that has published textbooks on the subject, and was employed for much of his career (not that long as he is still fairly young, I believe) as a statistician for an national amateur astronomy organization (during which time he published on statistical analysis in astronomy). He is, in other words, a professional statistician of substantial qualification.

  173. Tom,
    Thanks, I was aware that he had a background in statistics, but didn’t know much of the details. Maybe Foxgoose should realise that you can always find someone willing to criticise the work of others.

    Foxgoose,
    Just to be clear. If you make another comment with various unverified assertions, I’m just going to delete it.

  174. Tom Curtis says:

    foxgoose sees fit to post Gelman’s comment about a blog post by Tamino without providing a link. I presume that is because if we had a link we would have read his follow up comment that:

    “Looking at the blog entry more carefully, though, I realize I’m being a bit unfair…”

    I would say he was more than a bit unfair in that he took the post out of context (by is own, later admission), and because he does not appear to appreciate that precise technical language cannot be emulated in popular expositions for the simple reason that they will not be understood, and may actively mislead. Tellingly, when challenged he was unable to point to a single statistical error in Tamino’s post. At most he had an objection regarding terminology. That objection ignored both the entire tenor of the post, and the target audience.

  175. Anders

    I didn’t make any unverified assertions.

    If you would like to point to anything you feel may fall into this category – I’ll supply the necessary references.

    I think you also missed something rather important in my post.

    The point was that these amateur scientists were invited into the inner circle of climate science after, and presumably because of, the reputation they had established for activism.

    Quoting bits of academic work they attached their names to after joining “the team” isn’t really relevant to that point.

    You say – “This is about whether or not a major media outlet should be interviewing bloggers or actual experts. I would go for actual experts.”

    The point is all the people I mentioned were bloggers – before they appeared in any published work on climate science.

    Just for the avoidance of doubt – do you consider any of them “experts” in the terms of your above statement?

    If you do, then surely Montford is just as much of an “expert” as Nuccitelli.

    If not – how do you feel about Dana’s regular appearance in the Guardian? (Assuming you consider it a “major media outlet”).

  176. BBD says:

    @ Rachel

    So I’d like you to clarify your comment – “He is clearly lying” – by adding that this is your opinion.

    By all means. Given the amount of scientific evidence that CO2 is an efficacious climate forcing and that human-caused emissions have increased the atmospheric fraction of CO2 from ~280ppm to ~400ppm, in my opinion, Montford’s claim that “there is no evidence for a human influence on climate” is clearly a lie.

  177. Foxgoose,
    As far as I’m concerned, this is an unverified assertion

    have actually been invited to add their names to “peer reviewed” papers, using fictitious institutional credentials to give them a false appearance of authority.

    This is slightly better as you add the word presumably

    The point was that these amateur scientists were invited into the inner circle of climate science after, and presumably because of, the reputation they had established for activism.

    Maybe they were included because they actually did something and hence were entitled (and should be) authors on the relevant papers.

    No, I don’t think I would regard the people you mention as experts at climate science. Some of them are starting their careers. Others have expertise elsewhere. I was referring specifically to people who would be regarded as professional and as experts at the science itself. I’m not even suggesting that Montford has no expertise. I’m simply suggesting that he does not appear to have the kind of expertise that would make him someone who would typically be interviewed about the details of climate models and climate modelling.

    If you do, then surely Montford is just as much of an “expert” as Nuccitelli.

    Given that I don’t, no real need to answer this. However, based on what Dana has written and what Montford has written, Dana’s understanding of climate science far exceeds that of Montford, in my opinion at least.

    If not – how do you feel about Dana’s regular appearance in the Guardian? (Assuming you consider it a “major media outlet”).

    I don’t think this is the same. In the Guardian Dana is acting as a reporter, not someone being interviewed. The correct comparison might be with Delingpole who, as far as I can tell, understands climate science even less than Montford.

    I probably should have avoided responding to this, because I don’t really want another series of exchanges like we’ve had before and like I had yesterday. You’re largely building strawmen. This isn’t about Montford versus Nuccitelli (for example). This is about whether or not a major media outlet should be interviewing recognised experts. You’ve introduced all the other names, not me. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve clarified my position sufficiently, so if you want to continue in this discussion make sure your next comment is relevant and, ideally, constructive.

  178. Tom Curtis says:

    anders, the following claim by foxgoose is demonstrably false, on a number of counts:

    “have actually been invited to add their names to “peer reviewed” papers, using fictitious institutional credentials to give them a false appearance of authority.”

    1) First, all, or nearly all of the relevant papers have been for work that the respective bloggers initiated, and brought to a high standard by themselves. In some cases established climate scientists were then invited on as authors to help bring the work to publishable form, while in other cases no established climate scientist became involved as authors. In either case, the bloggers were not “invited on” to work from others. Rather, they published their own work, with or without the assistance of published climate scientists.

    2) No case of “fictitious institutional credentials” exists. That is a simple libel by foxgoose.

    As I established regarding the Gelman quote, and as you know from experience – foxgoose plays vry fast and loose with the facts when it suites his argument. He is one of the more disreputable deniers I have had the displeasure to encounter.

  179. Tom,
    Thanks.

    As I established regarding the Gelman quote, and as you know from experience – foxgoose plays vry fast and loose with the facts when it suites his argument. He is one of the more disreputable deniers I have had the displeasure to encounter.

    This is indeed consistent with my own experience. In fact I’d kind of forgotten about Foxgoose’s previous interactions on this blog.

  180. jsam says:

    Fictitious credentials do exist. John O’Sullivan. http://www.aaskolnick.com/global_deniers/website.htm

  181. Barry Woods says:

    perhaps the sceptics can just retire now?

    https://theconversation.com/science-cant-settle-what-should-be-done-about-climate-change-22727

    “As climate scientist Professor Myles Allen said in evidence to the committee, even the projections of the IPCC’s more prominent critics overlap with the bottom end of the range of climate changes predicted in the IPCC’s published reports.” – Hulme

    Dana and John might want to read what he says about the 97% paper

  182. Barry,
    I think Dana and John know what he thinks about their paper. I was contemplating writing about that article. I agree that the solutions will come from politicians/policy makers. However, they’re going to find it hard to make any difficult decisions if there are still disagreements about the science, as there clearly are.

  183. Barry Woods says:

    I think the article shows establishment science ‘allowing’ sceptics at the policy table..

  184. Barry,
    I shall have to read it more carefully. I have no issue with anyone being at the policy table. My main issue is with who should be at the science table.

  185. BBD says:

    An absolutely WTF? moment from Mike Hulme at the Conversation:

    The sight of speakers known to dispute the scientific evidence supporting climate change being called to speak at a parliamentary select committee on the latest IPCC report last week has raised certain commentators’ blood pressure.

    Some have gone so far as to claim that the climate change debate in Britain has become “as depressingly unscientific and polarised as it is in the United States”.

    I disagree. The debate about climate change needs to become more political, and less scientific. Articulating radically different policy options in response to the risks posed by climate change is a good way of reinvigorating democratic politics.

    But MIKE! We have just witnessed yet another attempt to mislead and misinform policy makers *about* the science. Lewis claims S is absurdly low, Lindzen claims it is absurdly lower and LaF claims the IPCC is misrepresenting and misinforming policy makers. How the hell can misinformed politicians be better than well-informed ones when it comes to making tough policy decisions?

  186. BBD,
    Yup, that’s the bit that confuses me about his article. Surely you need coherent, sensible, consistent scientific advice before you can start making sensible policy decisions.

  187. jsam says:

    From Barry’s link The spewdo-sceptics are gradually catching up with the science. They have had their Muller moment. That’s what allows them at the table. “What matters is not whether the climate is changing (it is); nor whether human actions are to blame (they are, at the very least partly and, quite likely, largely); nor whether future climate change brings additional risks to human or non-human interests (it does).”

  188. Tom Curtis

    I can live with the unpleasant ad homs that you and Anders feel you need to incorporate in responses to me – but I’m not going to let you get away with outright lies.

    1. Fictitious institutional credentials.

    I can immediately think of two instances – I’ll add others when they come to mind.

    As I explained in my earlier comment – Grant Foster attaches the name “Tempo Analytics” to his name in peer reviewed papers as his institutional affiliation. Its postal address appears to lead to a forest road in Maine. No one, as far as I am aware, has ever been able to trace any evidence of a scientific research entity bearing that name.

    In Lewandowsky’s infamous Recursive Fury paper – one of his co-authors was a certain Michael Marriott who works as an administrator in a Melbourne law office and runs an activist blog called “Watching the Deniers”. In the peer reviewed paper his institutional affiliation appears as “Climate Realities Research”. Again – no one has ever been able to trace any research institution bearing this name.

    Jo Nova has commented more fully on Marriott’s background here:-

    http://joannenova.com.au/2013/02/lewandowsky-dismisses-bloggers-but-they-are-his-research-team-who-is-mike-hubble-marriott/

    It seems clear to me that some amateur scientists invent names for non existent institutions to give the impression, on published papers, that they are not simply participating as individuals but have an affiliation with some kind of larger research entity.

    If you, or anyone else can find evidence that these two names represent bon-fide institutions with a scientific function I’ll be happy to retract and apologise. Otherwise, I think my conclusion is entirely reasonable.

    2. Gelman quote.

    I did not “play fast and loose with the truth” as you put it. The quote was 100% accurate as written by Gelman at the time. The fact that he subsequently softened his comment slightly by saying elsewhere “I might have been a bit unfair” doesn’t come anywhere near a retraction of his original comment.

    Even if he had retracted it – it would not, of course, affect the truth of my accurate quotation.

    I’ve always thought, Tom, that behind your rather wordy pomposity you had a streak of integrity.

    If you have, you can prove it by apologising for twice falsely accusing me of lying.

  189. Barry Woods says:

    catching up… no.. these people were always there…

  190. Foxgoose,
    I’ll post your comment, given that you think Tom and I have made unpleasant Ad Homs. You should probably look up the definition. I don’t want to get into a long discussion with you. It won’t be constructive. You’ve barely attempted to be pleasant yourself. You should probably grow some self-awareness before accusing others of being unpleasant. You’ve had your say. I’ve had enough.

    Tom can decide whether to apologise or not. I certainly won’t. Last time you commented here you complained about people associating you with Scientology about half an hour after your referred to this blog as being like a Scientology cult. I don’t really care, to be honest, but that’s the basis of my response to Tom.

    Unless you can actually construct a coherent, constructive comment I wouldn’t bother commenting again. You can run off to your mates on other blogs and on Twitter and complain again about your treatment here. That’s what you did last time, if I remember correctly.

  191. OPatrick says:

    The sight of speakers known to dispute the scientific evidence supporting climate change being called to speak at a parliamentary select committee on the latest IPCC report last week has raised certain commentators’ blood pressure.

    is anyone frustrated because of these speakers appearing rather than because of what they have said? I suppose there was some frustration in advance because of the inevitablility of what they were going to say, but that was entirely justified by the reality of what they did say.

  192. Barry,

    catching up… no.. these people were always there…

    Either you and I are referring to different people when we refer to skeptics, or your ability to understand what people say and write is severely limited.

  193. Barry Woods says:

    Seriously?! – Ian Forester
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/the-bbc-and-its-balance/#comment-13600

    “We all know what [Mod : deleted] people the likes of Montford, McIntyre, Woods, et al. are. ” – Ian

    Why…?
    Do you ALL know that…?
    Does the silence, indicate approval…?

    Why am I a despicable person in your eyes? I don’t think I have ever met you, and you clearly know nothing about me..
    Or am I merely tto be thought of as despicable, because of commenting about climate science and policy, and I’m really lovely on every other issue.

    but Ian goes on to say!!

    “Appeasement didn’t work for Neville Chamberlain and it wont work for climate science.” Ian

    and Tom Curtis seems to agree with Ian (what all of it?!)
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/the-bbc-and-its-balance/#comment-13605

  194. Barry Woods says:

    Anders.. do you approve of Ian’s comment?

    this the real you

    “or your ability to understand what people say and write is severely limited.”

    a good rule of communication, is if you think the person is stupid, never lett hem know it, or attempt to belitle them before an audience, as your conduct gets noticed..
    I practice this a lot.

    i was the sceptics that were always there, Lindzen, low sensitivity, Montford, Watts, believes in climate change, earth warmed, CO2 a greenhouse gas, etc, Jo Nova, the same, all concerned damaging policies..

  195. Barry Woods says:

    I said was, that the …

  196. jsam says:

    Really, Lindzen, Montford, Nova and Watts (one scientist in that list) overlap with the IPCC estimates on warming? Do tell more.

  197. It would be interesting to hear exactly what Ian meant by his comment about Chamberlain, and what he is calling for, and what he thinks will be gained by this. Also whether Wotty thinks this is a helpful contribution to the debate.

  198. geronimo says:

    My, my Wotty, no protection for the “enemy” here.

    By the way, if climate modellers were the only ones allowed to talk about climate models they may just, just, be a trifle prejudiced, and highly unlikely to be critical. Is that what you want a science that goes unchallenged? and scientist who defer to SkS as the font of all knowledge? Well you got ’em.

  199. BBD says:

    Well, Barry, some people react strongly to what they perceive as a deliberate and sustained attempt to inject misinformation into the public consciousness. Some are parents of young children, some are scientists, some are activists and some are simply appalled bystanders – but all are revolted by the organised denial industry. Occasionally, distinctions are blurred between the professional misinformers and the useful idiots; those who volubly and incessantly aid the professional misinformers in their work.

    Perhaps you should consider that others regard what you are doing as actively – if perhaps unwittingly – pernicious.

  200. andrew adams says:

    I can’t speak for Ian but I thought his meaning was clear. Those of us who are in favour of action on climate change will not achieve it by trying to make peace with those who are opposed to such action.

  201. Barry Woods says:

    I am also a parent of young children, I am a member of the public, I’m as scientifically trained as the next person,

    I am not abusing people, or making vaguely threatening statements..

    Chamberlain tried to talk to a a enemy,…. if not ”appeasement’. What, bad language, abuse, trolling me on twitter, Cook and Marriott keeping tabs on what I say, misquoting me in psychology literature and labelling me, with psychiatric disorders (oh wait, THAT all ready happened)

    I have never called anyone despicable, here, or anywhere, not even when I’ve actually met somebody and got to know them..

    Andrew:
    “Those of us who are in favour of action on climate change will not achieve it by trying to make peace with those who are opposed to such action.”

    so tell me, Andrew what will you do?

  202. What is the rule being applied here for who gets given a platform to comment on climate science? I also get concerned when high-profile criticism of science is made from a position of ignorance – but this does not only come from the side which is opposed to climate policy. It also comes from the side which thinks current climate policy doesn’t go far enough, eg: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmenvaud/60/60we04.htm
    The author of that submission to a parliamentary has some deep misunderstandings about climate science. Should he get a voice?

  203. Tom Curtis says:

    Foxgoose:

    “Michael Marriott who works as an administrator in a Melbourne law office and runs an activist blog called “Watching the Deniers”. In the peer reviewed paper his institutional affiliation appears as “Climate Realities Research”. Again – no one has ever been able to trace any research institution bearing this name.”

    Which is terribly odd given that Marriott publicly announced is formation of Climate Realities Research on the very blog you mention … in 2010. That is, Climate Realities Research was in existence for two years before it was supposedly manufactured as a fictitious affiliation. Grant Foster, in the mean time, has repeatedly published reports for Tempo Analytics. Tempo Analytics may well be Foster’s own company/think tank just as Climate Realities Research is Marriott’s own company/think tank. In both cases, using them as their institutional affiliation is no more untoward than Anthony Watts using IntelliWeather as his.

    In all three cases, the declaration of such more or less unknown entities as their institutional affiliation declares plainly (for anyone who cares) that the authors in question do not have an affiliation with any established university or research institute. The purported motive you claim for the actions is self defeating. Perhaps you assume that when you see an affiliation with a name you have never heard of before, the person is affiliated with a high powered prestigious research institution. I think scientists would be more inclined to think it means the author has no prestigious affiliation.

    “Even if he had retracted it – it would not, of course, affect the truth of my accurate quotation.”

    If he had retracted it, you knew of it, and yet you quoted it without mentioning the retraction, you would have been guilty of intellectual fraud. Not mentioning that Gelman’s opinion was based on a superficial reading of Foster’s post, without understanding the context of the post (both by his own admission) represents a purposeful withholding of relevant information that, frankly, destroys the rhetorical effect you were aiming at with the quote. The only question here is did you know of the qualification and admissions by Gelman, or not? If you did, you deliberately lied by omission. If the later, you were merely extraordinarily careless in quoting. In either case my description of you as playing “very fast and loose with the facts” was justified.

    Finally, you again justify that claim by trying to purport that I said that you lied. I said no such thing. I merely indicated that you either take little care to ensure what you say is true, or lie outright (one or the other) and do not bother correcting your errors. As the idiom is defined:

    “play fast and loose
    To behave in a recklessly irresponsible or deceitful manner”

    (My emphasis)

  204. Ian

    Since you’re bringing in historical analogies, I suppose you think the Good Friday agreement and subsequent peace talks in Northern Ireland were a bad thing then? You think two deeply divided parties should not attempt to find any common ground in order to make progress – just keep on fighting from entrenched positions?

  205. andrew adams says:

    Barry,

    If we manage to achieve action on climate change it will be by winning the argument in the wider political sphere, just like with any other political issue. And like any political issue that won’t happen by persuading those who are opposed to our goals to change their minds, it will happen through persuading the wider public and policy makers. And it will also depend on having policy makers who are willing to step up and show some leadership.

    That doesn’t mean that we can’t or shouldn’t debate with skeptics, such discussions can be interesting for their own sake, I just don’t think they have much practical value in terms of helping us to achieve our goals.

  206. andrew adams says:

    Actually, I’ll modify my last sentence slightly. There is certainly an argument that by debating with skeptics we might persuade those who are following the conversation but are themselves unconvinced.

  207. jsam says:

    If Barry lays claim to “sceptic” I lay claim to “realist”.

  208. Barry,
    No, I don’t approve of Ian’s framing of his comment and should have moderated it sooner. My apologies.

    Also, when I said

    “or your ability to understand what people say and write is severely limited.”

    I wasn’t really trying to imply that you were stupid, but you seem to be either ignoring or overlooking many of the arguments made by skeptics. I don’t understand how you can think they were always there. Generally speaking, as far as I can tell, they’re not even close.

    Personally, I don’t really want to defend what Ian said. I would be very keen on a better dialogue. I’m unconvinced that it is possible.

  209. Tom Curtis says:

    Barry Woods, absolutely all of it with a slight question mark with regard to you. You continue to strive hard, however, to remove that question mark.

    If you want to be taken as a legitimate critic of climate science, criticize it scientifically and give climate scientists due respect. I have not seen either from you. Alternatively, if you want to debate the policy, just stipulate to the IPCC AR1 findings (with the full uncertainties in both directions), and argue your case.

    As it is, the behaviour of climate “skeptics” gives a very strong impression that they want to argue policy, but know they cannot successfully do so if the facts are acknowledged. The facts are therefore denied out of necessity to support their preferred policy, and the evidence manipulated to justify that after the event.

  210. So Andrew and Ian are calling for violence?

  211. Barry Woods says:

    ‘member of the public” no other label than that from now on please.

  212. Richard Betts,

    What is the rule being applied here for who gets given a platform to comment on climate science?

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by this. I’m certainly not suggesting that there should be any rules. I don’t know how one would define them. I’m certainly not suggesting that someone’s view should determine whether or not they have a voice. You say,

    but this does not only come from the side which is opposed to climate policy.

    but this post has not been about who has a voice with regards to policy. I think I’ve been quite clear that my views relate to science and not to policy. Also, this post is simply my opinion and I’m not proposing that we strive for new rules. Maybe you disagree, but my view – FWIW – is simply that if a major news organisation would like to interview someone about climate models and climate modelling that I would rather they interviewed someone with credible experience of climate modelling than a blogger.

  213. Tom Curtis says:

    A slight modification to my prior post. When I double checked on Ian’s comment, a phrase had been “[mod deleted]”, so I cannot verify whether or not I agree with that phrase in particular.

  214. geronimo says:

    You know what Wotty, I occasionally read climateaudit and the “evil” McIntyre wouldn’t let the sort of comments form Tom Curtis and, of course BBD on his blog. You are trying to look even handed, but you don’t appear to be. BTW all this sucking up to Dana1981 and Tamino is, well, vomit making I suppose.

  215. andrew adams says:

    Paul Matthews,

    Please highlight where I called for violence.

  216. jsam says:

    I’m still intrigued by “sceptics” overlapping with the IPCC. “Really, Lindzen, Montford, Nova and Watts (one scientist in that list) overlap with the IPCC estimates on warming? Do tell more.” Do you, Barry, overlap with the IPCC?

    Regards, a member of the public (concerned)

    And Richard Bett’s point reinforces ATTP’s. A scientific discussion between a duck and a scientist is amusing. And the audience will applaud the duck. But it’s not helpful now, is it?

  217. Tom Curtis says:

    I believe that Paul Matthew’s deliberate and provocative misrepresentation of Ian and Andrew’s comments should recuse him from the conversation. Unless, of course he is willing to ‘fess up to being too stupid to understand a metaphorical use of the language, in which case his gaffe might be attributed to incompetence.

    There is no point pretending you can have a conversation with people who so willfully mispresent what others are saying!

    The same, I might add, may well be the most appropriate response to Richard Betts (northern Ireland reference).

  218. andrew adams says:

    Richard,

    I don’t think Aubrey Meyer would be an appropriate person to either testify in person in parliament or be interviewed by the BBC as some kind of authority on climate science.

  219. Richard Betts,

    You think two deeply divided parties should not attempt to find any common ground in order to make progress – just keep on fighting from entrenched positions?

    I don’t know what Ian thinks, but here’s my issue (and I would be interested in your views as you are a credible climate scientist who has experience in engaging). I’ve tried, I think, to remain pleasant and to engage as honestly as I can. I may not have always succeeded and there are some commenting here at the moment who may disagree with how I’ve characterised myself (and maybe they’re right, who am I to judge myself). However – for whatever reason – I’ve failed and I can’t see how to succeed. What I see are two sides who are entrenched. However – maybe you disagree – one of those sides (and I know using the term “sides” isn’t ideal, but you know what I mean) actually has the scientific evidence on its side. The other does not, in my view at least. So, if one side can’t move without accepting views that aren’t consistent with the evidence and the other side won’t move despite the evidence being against them, what do you do? To be clear, I’m talking here only about science and not about policies and I’m also not talking about disagreements about the details (which is normal).

    I’d be more than happy to have more discussions and more dialogue, but I’m yet to really have one that doesn’t disintegrate into an unpleasant exchange. FWIW, Barry is one of the more reasonable involved in this discussion and I am sorry that I didn’t moderate some of the exchanges earlier, but even there I can see why people get frustrated. And even this has degenerated as the recent comments prove. The fundamental point about this post was “interview an expert, not a blogger” and yet it’s turning into another one of my comment threads that I’m having trouble moderating.

  220. Andrew you said peace wouldn’t work. Ian made the Chamberlain analogy which is presumably a call for a declaration of war.

  221. Joshua says:

    Just perusing this recent activity – which I think is the worst I’ve seen yet at this blog, I will say to the “realists” that I think that you have essentially handed a victory here to the “skeptics” by allowing the discussion to be reduced to such a level. This is disappointing.

    I think that you’re fantasizing that somehow by engaging at this level you are “preventing” “skeptics” from doing anything at all. You talk about not “allowing them to set the rules” and not responding to gish gallops and not allowing hijacking, yet you are responding to rules they are setting, responding to gish gallops, and actively participating in the replacement of a reasonable discussion with schoolyard banter.

    And I also think that if the only way that you can prevent such exchanges from taking place is by banning “skeptics,” it will essentially handing them a victory.

    Andrew Adams is one of the most reasonable participants in these discussions I’ve come across, but when he says something like what he wrote in his 1:42, I just shake my head because I read it as some kind of endorsement of Neville Chamberlain analogies – what I consider to be tantamount to the Goebbels or Lysenko analogies so commonly found at “skeptical” websites.

    Andrew – what are you proposing as an effective alternative to “making peace with those who are opposed” to action on climate change? Using Chamberlain analogies?

  222. jsam says:

    If you’d like to depress yourself over the state of the discussion, head over to Mike Hulme’s latest post, http://theconversation.com/science-cant-settle-what-should-be-done-about-climate-change-22727

    Tallbloke, Brad Keyes, Mike Haseler, etc.. In my opinion none of these add value to any discussion. They are there to disrupt the conversation, to make it adversarial. I know Mike is a mild Curry, but the conversation is neither civil nor factual.

    (And, in my opinion, it’s not helped by Mike’s unsubstantiated clickbait of the word “infamous”.)

  223. Foxgoose says:

    Anders

    You said – “I’ll post your comment, given that you think Tom and I have made unpleasant Ad Homs. You should probably look up the definition”

    Earlier you quoted Tom Curtis as saying:-

    “foxgoose plays vry fast and loose with the facts when it suites his argument. He is one of the more disreputable deniers I have had the displeasure to encounter.”

    …. and followed it with your own words…

    “This is indeed consistent with my own experience. In fact I’d kind of forgotten about Foxgoose’s previous interactions on this blog.”

    Now you’re trying to pretend these are not unpleasant ad homs.

    I’ll let others judge.

  224. Joshua,

    Just perusing this recent activity – which I think is the worst I’ve seen yet at this blog, I will say to the “realists” that I think that you have essentially handed a victory here to the “skeptics” by allowing the discussion to be reduced to such a level. This is disappointing.

    Sadly, I probably agree. Not a great comments thread.

    I think that you’re fantasizing that somehow by engaging at this level you are “preventing” “skeptics” from doing anything at all. You talk about not “allowing them to set the rules” and not responding to gish gallops and not allowing hijacking, yet you are responding to rules they are setting, responding to gish gallops, and actively participating in the replacement of a reasonable discussion with schoolyard banter.

    The intent, though, wasn’t for it to degenerate. It just has a nasty habit of doing so.

  225. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    “What is the rule being applied here for who gets given a platform to comment on climate science? I also get concerned when high-profile criticism of science is made from a position of ignorance – but this does not only come from the side which is opposed to climate policy. It also comes from the side which thinks current climate policy doesn’t go far enough”

    This is exactly the kind of comment that leads down the road to same ol’ same ol’

    The question here is really whether Montford is a suitable person to be interviewed about climate modeling. Whether person X, Y, or Z might or might not be likewise suitable is actually a separate discussion.

    Do you think that Montford is suitable? Yes or not. Simple answer.

    I suggest to the “realists” here that before you get engaged in a protracted discussion of whether person X, Y, or Z would be suitable, you hold Richard accountable for first expressing an opinion on the primary question. If he chooses not to answer, so be it.

  226. Foxgoose,
    Tom’s characterisation was consistent with my experience of dealing with you. I’m always happy to be proven wrong, and to apologise accordingly. Feel free to prove me wrong.

  227. andrew adams says:

    Paul (and Joshua),

    There are plenty of politcial “battles” being “fought” on a variety of issues in this country, on issues like welfare cuts, immigration, civil liberties, etc. Climate change is another one. It requires an absurdly literal interpretation of such language to infer that this means that people are either engaging in or advocating violence in order to resolve these issues.

  228. Joshua says:

    AA –

    I did not interpret it as an endorsement of violence.

    I see it as a silly comment. It’s the same garbage, IMO, as the Lysenko nonsense. If you extend the analogy, it is saying the people who disagree with your opinions about climate change are analogous to Nazis. I react so strongly because I see reference to Chamberlain all the time here, coming from rightwingers, to argue that negotiation and discussion is analogous to “appeasement.”

    On top of being a useless analogy (useful analogies are used to better clarify a point you’re trying to make, not score some kind of rhetorical point), it can’t possibly lead anywhere but down.

  229. Barry Woods says:

    Joshua.. you are correct, the lack of self awareness of some commenting here, is fascinating, but;

    please explain to the others here. I could be writing a monthly, weekly, even daily article at WUWT, seen by tens of thousands of people around the world… yet they think, trying to talk here, is in anyway productive.. they still believe in organised ‘denial industry’, on a blog that nobody really knows exits.

    I originally said to the blog owner, I would love to chat, but commenting maybe a problem, as I might get piled on, and it descends to an Ian level of abusive, and vaguely worrying ambiguous statements, (and the usual ‘climate very concerned’ suspects will turn up) and so it proves.

    just throwing ‘gish gallops’ around, when a discussion gets started, with people disagreeing, is just a lazy way of disengaging. I do see it is pretty pointless commenting here..(for everyone)

    Maybe I should be writing those WUWT articles instead?

    But I’ll stick to my comment, that the only label I will accept from now on is – ‘Member of the Public’ and leave it at that.

  230. Joshua,

    it can’t possibly lead anywhere but down.

    This may be true, but it also seems that very few are willing to tone down their rhetoric and reign a discussion back into sensible territory. One it starts going down, there seems to be no way to apply the brakes.

  231. Joshua says:

    jsam – you forgot to mention Ben Pile. 🙂

  232. Ian Forrester says:

    I can’t believe what I have read concerning my post.:

    “So Andrew and Ian are calling for violence?”

    Please brush up on your English comprehension skills. No wonder deniers have such a hard time understanding science when they twist every word they read to antagonize who ever wrote it.

    As for Woods’ comments about me, well he should look in a mirror and ask himself the question of why he supports such dishonest people as those whom he chooses to support. They cannot be supported based on what they say about climate science and climate scientists.

  233. Joshua says:

    Barry –

    “Joshua.. you are correct, the lack of self awareness of some commenting here, is fascinating, but;”

    This comment is on the same level as that of Richard above.

    Disagreement does not equal lack of self-awareness (how would you judge their self-awareness having never me them?), and your comment implies that somewhere else in the climate blogosphere is somehow characterized by better commenting. I haven’t seen such a site.

    In fact, I have felt that this site has, generally, been characterized by a higher level of engagement, generally speaking – and that is why this thread is particularly disappointing, IMO.

    So as for “piling on,” I think that if you think more clearly about your own input, you could reduce the extent to which that happens. I hope that my short critique above might prove somewhat useful in that regard.

  234. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    “One it starts going down, there seems to be no way to apply the brakes.”

    Yes. It’s very difficult – that whole “There’s someone wrong on the Internet” thing is a very powerful force.

    Actually, honestly, I think that it similar to addictions, and I wouldn’t doubt that brain chemistry analysis would find some strong parallels.

  235. badgersouth says:

    andthentheresphysics: Do you have an official Comments Policy for this blog site? If so, where is it posted?

  236. jsam says:

    Barry, I hope you don’t overly mind if I ask, for a third time…with some modification of terminology…

    I’m still intrigued by “Members of the Public” overlapping with the IPCC. “Really, Lindzen, Montford, Nova and Watts (one scientist in that list) overlap with the IPCC estimates on warming? Do tell more.” Do you, Barry, overlap with the IPCC?

  237. badgersouth,
    Well, yes. There’s a page link beneath the banner. The existence of such a comments policy, however, doesn’t mean I always get it right, as this particular thread may well aptly illustrate.

  238. Rachel says:

    There is way too much testosterone in this thread.

    I am the one who let Ian’s comment through as I was awake on the other side of the planet when it arrived and I nearly edited it, but my first thought was, who doesn’t want to be Despicable [Me]? And I so I let it go. I am the Minion after all. 🙂

    So please accept my apologies. I also have no idea who Neville Chamberlain is and am quite happy to leave it that way. So please, let’s return to the topic of the post…..

  239. My ear is tingling:

    What can I do for you, AndThen?

    Barry peddles the same concerns since I know him, which has been a few years now. You can deal with that. As for badgersouth, if he can’t see that the comment policy and that he’s about to play the ref. There’s not much to do about that.

    Be thankful for their concerns and be done with it.

    PS: I have not read the thread.

  240. andrew adams says:

    Joshua,

    As I’ve objected to Chamberlain references elsewhere (different blogs, different topics) I suppose it would be hypocritical to defend such references here, and that wasn’t what I was trying to do anyway. What I was actually trying to do (obviously unsuccessfully) was address the argument Ian was making without becoming embroiled in arguments about the kind of language he used.

  241. BBD says:

    Barry Woods

    I am also a parent of young children

    Then you should consider the likelihood that your actions are pernicious. Think of your grandchildren a little bit harder. Not only do you have *no* evidence for your endlessly peddled super-low sensitivity meme, you are actively evasive when asked to engage in any scientific discussion on this beloved topic of yours. That reeks to high heaven of the worst kind of intellectual dishonesty.

    Now think of your children again.

    What if your are wrong, Barry? What if everything you have done, so diligently, so relentlessly for the last several years is in service to the wrong masters? Has this never crossed your mind?

    I really don’t know what else to say to you.

  242. andrew adams says:

    I would add though that is still ridiculous to suggest that Ian was actually advocating violence against anyone.

  243. izen says:

    @-jsam
    “If you’d like to depress yourself over the state of the discussion, head over to Mike Hulme’s latest post”

    When accused of uncritically endorsing every warmist/alarmist authority on the AGW ‘side’ I use Mike Hulme as an example of a scientist on my ‘side’ who I gladly disown. His structural-sociological ‘science embedded in society’ nonsense is the sort of spewdo-science claptrap that makes me compare that field to real science as pigeons to statues.
    They sit on the shoulders of giants and….

  244. Joshua says:

    AA –

    That makes sense to me.

  245. > if he can’t see that the comment policy […]

    … is right up in the menu bar, next to the moderation policy.

  246. Andrew

    I would add though that is still ridiculous to suggest that Ian was actually advocating violence against anyone.

    I agree, and likewise against yourself. I also think that the general view that Ian was expressing is, sadly, largely consistent with my own – at the moment at least (i.e., I don’t see a sensible way in which to engage in constructive dialogue or how it would help given the positions people seem to hold).

    I haven’t moderated this thread particularly well (maybe I forgot that Rachel’s in a different time zone now 🙂 ). I should have moderated Ian’s characterisation of Barry earlier. I’ve now done so and have apologised to Barry. Has Barry responded in any way to that apology? Maybe I’ve missed it.

  247. > [T]hat is still ridiculous to suggest that Ian was actually advocating violence against anyone.

    That’s because as a warmist you have no humour, Andrew.

  248. badgersouth says:

    andthentheresphysics: Thanks for your response. I should have done a better job of scanning your home page for the buttons. Given that your Moderations Policy is similar to the SkS Comments Policy, you may want to ask Daniel Bailey to assist you and Rachel moderate the comment threads.

  249. badgersouth,
    Thanks, I’ll give that some thought. I probably do need some help, but after this post I may take a few days off.

  250. O Bothe says:

    @jsam have a look at this exchange

    I think I remember Barry more or less agreeing with that range.

    Otherwise:
    The game of “the poor old chap who can’t pay for his heating” (UK-skeptics?) vs. “the horrors of the Datum-earth of my grandchildren” (those called alarmists by the skeptics) isn’t really leading anywhere. It’s on both sides purely emotive. Can we change the discussion? Well it would require to truly engage with the “other side” which seems not to be on the agenda of both ‘tribes’.

    I think we don’t have to agree on the amount of warming to discuss potential policies. Is it really important which value TCR or ECS have if we assume that we might be closer to
    RCP 8.5 than anything else? Do we have to reach consensus over the value or should we discuss what impacts are acceptable under how much uncertainty (cf. risk). And please stay away from playing the emotions-card.

    Also as someone who thinks “there is a problem” there is also always the chance of being wrong or of over-(/under-)estimating the risk.

    I know it’s hard, but one possibly should try to see climate skepticism as at least as heterogeneous as “warmism”.

    It’s also interesting how easily everybody falls for the provocations thrown at him/her.

  251. Marco says:

    I’ll judge!
    “foxgoose plays vry fast and loose with the facts when it suites his argument. He is one of the more disreputable deniers I have had the displeasure to encounter.”
    This is not an ad hominem. This is a description of how someone is perceived, which, regardless of its negative content, does not make it an ad hominem.

    And if Foxgoose DOES consider it an ad hominem, we can easily come with very similar quotes from himself about others:
    “scientactivsts” (sic)
    “a useful PR tool for “the cause”.”
    “Both were vociferously involved in Cook & Nuccitelli’s activist group”

  252. Marco says:

    Anyways, to return to the topic of the thread: it is perhaps telling that the BBC could not find anyone with expertise in the field as proper ‘counterweight’ to someone with experience with climate modeling.

    It reminds me in a strange way of this incident:

  253. OPatrick says:

    “One it starts going down, there seems to be no way to apply the brakes.”

    Yes. It’s very difficult – that whole “There’s someone wrong on the Internet” thing is a very powerful force.

    Actually I think Joshua you’ve done exactly that and have done so exceptionally well. (Which probably means everyone will now get bored and wander off, leaving the many interesting questions unanswered.)

  254. Oliver,

    Can we change the discussion? Well it would require to truly engage with the “other side” which seems not to be on the agenda of both ‘tribes’.

    Possibly it’s not in the agenda of either tribe. In fairness to Andrew Montford, he at least answered Ed Hawkins’s question, which is better than most. In fairness to Ed Hawkins, he pointed out that Andrew Montford had chosen a range almost half that of the IPCC range and that was the lower half of that range.

    But there is where I find it confusing. How’s does one continue such a discussion? One could stop at that point, having learned something of the other person’s views. In itself, quite a good thing. One could go further. But, you’re then in a discussion in which one side appears to have decided that the lower half of a range is more likely than the upper half of the range. Do they have reasonable evidence for this? I would think not, but maybe they do. If they don’t, what do you do if they already know that they’ve chosen the lower half over the upper half. I can’t see it going well, but maybe I’m wrong.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make (not very well, maybe) is how will engaging with people who seem comfortable simply deciding that something is more likely than something else (without any convincing evidence) be constructive? Maybe I’m just getting too negative. Maybe, however, that’s justified.

  255. Oliver,

    I know it’s hard, but one possibly should try to see climate skepticism as at least as heterogeneous as “warmism”.

    I would dispute this, but maybe I’m biased.

  256. Joshua says:

    OPatrick –

    “Which probably means everyone will now get bored and wander off, leaving the many interesting questions unanswered.”

    🙂

  257. jsam says:

    Thank you, Oliver, for your responding on behalf of Barry and “Members of the Public” everywhere. ATTP’s point is a good one – on what basis is the lowball opinion formed?

    As to heterogenity, I too disagree, and find myself agreeing with ATTP. Realists (! – remember I ceded sceptics to Barry) agree manmade CO2 is affecting climate.

    Sceptics (! – as per Barry’w request) range from we need more CO2 top prevent the incipient ice age and it’s good for us, through to it’s not CO2, with reduced sensitivity in the middle. They may have an average, but they also have a larger standard deviation.

  258. johnrussell40 says:

    To be objective I think very few people commenting on this or other climate blogs suffer under the delusion that they’ll change the ‘other side’s’ views. Let’s face it, we all—realists and sceptics alike—comment on the ‘other side’s’ blogs because we want to ensure that any ‘don’t know’s’ that wander by are aware that there is an alternative viewpoint. Unfortunately because we have science on our side, we realists are not as good as the sceptics at scoring debating points (ie spreading propaganda): probably because we feel the need to be constrained by what the science actually says, which is inevitably complex and doesn’t lend itself to snappy sound bites. This is why they are able to make such a noise and manage to get themselves invited onto BBC panels. We, instead, prefer ‘our case’ to be presented by real working scientists, many of whom are not the best communicators.

    Frankly the best investment we could make as realists would be to offer every working climate scientist training in handling the media, getting their points across and making themselves more attractive as interviewees. I speak from experience as I’ve interviewed thousands of scientists over a working life of 40 years.

  259. dhogaza says:

    “As I explained in my earlier comment – Grant Foster attaches the name “Tempo Analytics” to his name in peer reviewed papers as his institutional affiliation.”

    Grant Foster runs a (one person, AFAIK) consultancy specializing in time series analysis. While I’m not 100% certain that “Tempo Analytics” is the name of his personal business, it certainly fits the business he is in. He’s made comments that make it clear he lives in New England, again, this is consistent with a rural Maine address. He’s not associated with an academic institution. Listing one’s business association is perfectly legitimate. Where would petro geologists be if it weren’t?

  260. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    How’s does one continue such a discussion? One could stop at that point, having learned something of the other person’s views. In itself, quite a good thing. One could go further. But, you’re then in a discussion in which one side appears to have decided that the lower half of a range is more likely than the upper half of the range. Do they have reasonable evidence for this? I would think not, but maybe they do. If they don’t, what do you do if they already know that they’ve chosen the lower half over the upper half. I can’t see it going well, but maybe I’m wrong.

    I will take a stab at this:

    Keep in mind that you’re not likely going to convince them that the science underlying their estimate of the range is “psuedoscience.” Just won’t happen. You might be able to engage them further in the discussion of the science, but they view their opinions as being scientifically-based, and they are not ignorant of the related science. They have read the arguments on both sides. This is not a matter of an “information deficit.” Just simply telling them that they are ignorant, obviously, will not alter the dynamic, it won’t wrest some kind of control over the discussion from their hands, as we have seen claimed.

    I’m not saying that discussing the science behind different estimates is irrelevant (as might Hume?), but that you need to honor the build-in parameters of that discussion. You can’t just will away their opinion, or disable their ability to express that opinion and hence, have some public influence.

    Beyond that, then the discussion needs to move to risk assessment, and then policy options based on risk assessment. Risk assessment will be a similarly vexing discussion to the discussion of the range estimates. In other words, something like “So you say that the likely range is X to Y with a Z% probability range. So, then, lets discuss the issue of what you think might be improbable outcomes (outside your probable range at the high end), but likely of very significant impact. Can we just dismiss those improbable but potentially extremely dangerous outcomes?”

    You have to move forward in the discussion from accepting that their opinions are their opinions. If you expect to move forward by dismissing their opinions, then there can’t be a discussion. You have to decide if you think there’s any point in engaging. If you think that there is, then you can’t just dismiss their views. If you think there’s no point, then the question might be what do you think that you’re going to benefit, since you aren’t the God of the climate change debate, and you can’t simply change how they are going to view the issues.

    And after unlikely event that you could have a reasonable discussion along those lines related to risk assessment, you could get to a cost/benefit analysis of different policy options in the context of risk assessment that includes addressing potentially improbable but deeply impactful outcomes.

    I look at this as being informed by (but not reduced to) conflict resolution (sorry, BBD) and principle of participatory democracy. You have to get people to delineate between positions (that diverge) and interests (which can be shared). The point is to identify common interests rather than arguing about positions (which will get absolutely nowhere). At that point, you can begin to discuss convergence on policies targeting shared interests. People have to own policy options with a sense of ownership. The concept of stakeholder dialog in a non-hierarchical framework is the way to go, IMO.

    Two important caveats. First, setting up that kind of dialog is an immensely difficult task. Perhaps it is logistically impossible – in which case you have to figure out what to do as an alternative. Second, stakeholder dialog requires that participants are committed to reaching shared ownership over policy outcomes. If participants are more interested in their “positions” prevailing over those of their counterparts, it won’t work.

  261. dana1981 says:

    Since it’s been brought up here (hopefully not too far off topic), I found Hulme’s article total totally bizarre. The strawman attack on the consensus paper just baffles me – I know he doesn’t like communicating consensus, but we never claimed that communicating the consensus will help with the policy debate. Consensus messaging helps us get to the policy debate he wants to have.

    Of course the debate should be about policy and the points that he raises, but what does that have to do with consensus or our paper specifically? He should be talking to the political conservatives who keep denying the science and thus obstructing the policy discussion (with the aid of Montford, Curry, Lindzen, etc.), not those of us who are trying to help move the discussion past the science denial phase.

    I’ve never understood Hulme on this issue. But it may be a British thing, where many seem to assume ‘skeptics’ are sincere folks with good hearts, so it must be ‘our side’ that’s doing something wrong (e.g. Tamsin). And if Montford were on BBC discussing policy that would be fine, but he’s there denying science. I think Hulme is way off base here.

  262. Joshua,
    The interesting thing about your point is that you moved very quickly into risk management and policy options. Maybe I haven’t made it clear enough, but most – if not all – of what I’ve been referring is improving the dialogue about the scientific evidence. So, yes, I agree that the big picture will involve discussions about risk management, policy options etc. I just can’t see how that can be done sensibly if some parties are just deciding that various possibilities are more/less likely than the scientific evidence suggests.

    Like Dana, I found Hulme’s article odd in that it seemed to be suggesting ignoring the science, rather than accepting the science. Okay, it was slightly more nuanced than that, but I have to go and meet my son’s school teacher now, so have to rush off. Please can everyone try to moderate the discussion appropriately.

  263. dana1981 says:

    I should also say I don’t appreciate Hulme calling our paper “infamous”, which by definition has negative connotations. WTF is up with that?

    My Guardian work has also been compared here to Montford being interviewed on BBC. First of all, I’m infinitely more qualified than Montford. I just had my 4th climate paper accepted for publication, and I understand basic climate science. Montford has zero climate publications and doesn’t understand the basic science.

    That said, I wouldn’t expect the BBC to interview me about climate science either – I would expect them to interview a climate scientist. At the Guardian I’m a journalist/blogger. They don’t interview me when they’re looking for an expert take on a climate story, they interview climate scientists (as do I). It’s not a paralell situation to Montford being invited on a BBC radio show alongside a climate scientist to talk about climate science. He has no business there, and the BBC did their listeners a disservice by bringing him on that show.

  264. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    The interesting thing about your point is that you moved very quickly into risk management and policy options. Maybe I haven’t made it clear enough, but most – if not all – of what I’ve been referring is improving the dialogue about the scientific evidence. So, yes, I agree that the big picture will involve discussions about risk management, policy options etc. I just can’t see how that can be done sensibly if some parties are just deciding that various possibilities are more/less likely than the scientific evidence suggests.

    I think that Hulme has a point, even if his argument was hyperbolic.

    I read, often, in the “skept-o-sphere,” that the problem with “post normal science” is that it accepts that policy outcomes and “normative” science are inherently linked to scientific analysis. Well, I think that they are inherently linked. There is no such thing as science in some pure and abstract form, and scientific analysis should not be held hostage to some fantasized notion of “pure science.” In fact, science tells us that our cognition and reasoning are infused with subjective influences.

    So I think that we can’t expect to create some clear distinctions between dialogue on scientific evidence and the linked risk management and policy options. We can try to make the distinctions, be in the context of understanding that there are no absolutes, and we shouldn’t hold discussion hostage to some imagined concept of absolutes.

    That said – if we try to delimit the discussion only dialog on the scientific evidence, we still have to understand that this is not a matter of an information deficit. Such an approach can not lead to discussion. A thesis must be arguable. It can’t simply be a statement of fact. If something is arguable then you have to engage with and interrogate alternative perspectives. Full agreement will never be reached on range estimates. Greater agreement will not likely be reached without significantly more data – not for, I’d say, at least another hundred years. Whether you think that there is sufficient data now to lock down range estimates or not, you will not convince “skeptics” otherwise. So it seems to me that the scientific dialog should consist of defining terms and outlining the points of disagreement, and outlining the points of agreement. That would not be unlike that exchange of tweets – but I find it would be kind of amusing if the only way that kind of dialog can take place is through a medium where discussion is reduced to 140 characters at a time.

    What I am struck with is how little effort there is on outlining points of agreement and disagreement. so as to then set a stage for discussion of risk management and policy (the point being that you will never resolve all points of disagreement, and then where are you left? You are left flinging Jell-O and never proceeding to dialog about risk and policy). As much as I am critical of Curry’s efforts, I have at least seen her attempt (it was a while ago, and I see her recent input to be quite different in nature) to create that kind of dialog.

  265. JasonB says:

    If I could interrupt for a moment, I really would like Barry to respond to the question I asked earlier about the logic behind his conclusion that the so-called ‘pause’ in global temperature records implies sensitivity is at the low end of the IPCC range.

    I think the answer would be insightful and steer the conversation onto a more scientific basis.

  266. @ Joshua, February 4, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Do you think that Montford is suitable? Yes or not (sic).

    Yes – in the way it was done here, i.e.: a debate. I certainly wouldn’t think he’d be suitable to be the sole interviewee on the subject, because he’s not an expert and also he does (as he has said himself) discuss the issue of climate change from a particular partisan perspective – but that wasn’t the situation here. There was a real expert, Paul, and Andrew’s role was to challenge the expert and put forward some of the questions that people do ask. He wasn’t presented as an expert by the BBC – he was described as a blogger. If he hadn’t been there then the journalist would have done the challenging, and to be perfectly honest I think Andrew did a great job at putting the scientist on the spot. Of course I disagree with much of what Andrew said, but Paul was given the opportunity to counter his points. Without in any way wishing to criticise Paul – I know from experience that it’s really, really hard to think on your feet on live radio or TV – I did think he missed a couple of chances to really put Andrew right. e.g. when Andrew mentioned clouds, Paul could have cited the recent Sherwood et al paper which uses observations and reanalyses to constrain cloud feedbacks and climate sensitivity. But that’s easy for me to say from a comfortable position several days later, so as I say, I’m not criticising. My point is, it was someone’s role (either the interviewer or another participant) to challenge the expert and make sure he can back up what he’s saying. I don’t have the slightest problem with that – if we’re right, this should (generally speaking) come through. If it comes down to debating skills, well, that’s a different issue.

    Of course you can now all wait for me to get my turn to go on the radio up against Andrew or Barry or someone, and then pull apart my performance afterwards…. 🙂

    In fact, you can see me and Barry on a Met Office here. Is there a difference between this and the BBC debate with Paul & Andrew?

  267. That should have said “Met Office video“.

  268. JasonB says:

    Yes – in the way it was done here, i.e.: a debate.

    Does everything need to be a debate?

    If there are questions that “people do ask”, then isn’t it the job of a journalist to inform themselves of those questions and then simply ask them? Since when did the profession of journalism descend to merely being debate moderators? Why does there need to be a 3rd party in order to interrogate someone effectively?

    Finally, if you really want a debate, why not find someone from a competing modelling group to argue about which model is better and why?

  269. OPatrick says:

    Without in any way wishing to criticise Paul – I know from experience that it’s really, really hard to think on your feet on live radio or TV – I did think he missed a couple of chances to really put Andrew right.

    For me what this shows is that the ‘debate’ format is the problem, not necessarily who was interviewed. It isn’t realistic for Paul Williams in that situation to respond fully to every comment Andrew Montford makes, so given that Montford’s goal is, in my opinion, to increase doubt about the science, he ‘wins’ by having questions unanswered.

  270. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    Thanks for that answer (and for the sic).

    I don’t disagree with what you wrote, and I think that it is a reasonable counter to the argument found above that the show was evidence of a “bias” on the part of the BBC.

    So then the next question might be, if you will indulge another question, do you think that it is important to balance the information provided to the public through some other form of program in addition to the one under discussion – where a scientist is interrogated by a non-scientist who has a strongly partisan orientation?

    I am wary of presenting an endless list of questions, particularly rhetorical questions – it can turn into a sneaky form of gish gallop – so if at any point you think that the questions diverge from encouraging you to elaborate on your perspective, please feel free to point it out.

  271. dana1981 says:

    Richard makes an interesting point, that Montford was just there to challenge Williams, and if he hadn’t, that’s what the BBC host would have done. However, the host probably wouldn’t have interrupted Williams several times, wouldn’t have repeatedly falsely claimed there’s been no warming for 2 decades, and so forth. I think Williams was put in a particularly tough spot because he was peppered with so many issues by Montford, some valid (aerosls, clouds, etc.), some not. This is why we have professional journalists to conduct interviews.

  272. Joshua says:

    OPatrick –

    As an educator, I think that debate can be a very effective educational tool. So I would ask you if there isn’t a place for debate, even if it should not stand as the only vehicle for science communication.

    Gotta run.

  273. @Dana1981

    But it may be a British thing, where many seem to assume ‘skeptics’ are sincere folks with good hearts, so it must be ‘our side’ that’s doing something wrong (e.g. Tamsin).

    For me it may come from living in a village, where you have to get on with everybody irrespective of differences such as political views. For example, you may be aware that a few years ago there was a big debate over fox hunting here in the UK, and it was banned. In my village in Devon there were very strong views on this on both sides, but we haven’t split into 2 factions who never speak – we just get on with life, and people still socialise quite happily. Similarly, some of my neighbours don’t buy AGW, but it doesn’t stop me going to the pub with them. I think everyone just needs to chill out a bit and get a sense of perspective on life.

  274. Richard, [Mod: please avoid personal attacks, thanks]. And this “If we’re right, this should (generally speaking) come through”? Seriously? Prof. Schellnhuber words comes in mind: “imagine Einstein having to defend the theory of relativity on a German TV talk show. He wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell”.

  275. JasonB says:

    In fact, you can see me and Barry on a Met Office here. Is there a difference between this and the BBC debate with Paul & Andrew?

    That wasn’t a debate, it was an interview, and I’m guessing it wasn’t aired on BBC?

    Interestingly, everything you said was correct, and at the end of it Barry seemed to get the point when he said “I think we agree that the next decade or so of observed temperatures will go a long way to constraining the projections or validating them”.

    But in this thread he has said “I am saying I think, that is likely to be low, at the lower end of IPCC range, and my reasoning is the longer the ‘pause’ continues the more the models get constrained in this direction”. I’ve asked him for clarification a few times now but it certainly seems to me that he’s made the judgement that the current data support the conclusion that CS is likely to be low. IOW he doesn’t need another decade or so to infer CS is likely to be low, despite your clear explanation of why he does.

  276. JasonB says:

    So then the next question might be, if you will indulge another question, do you think that it is important to balance the information provided to the public through some other form of program in addition to the one under discussion – where a scientist is interrogated by a non-scientist who has a strongly partisan orientation?

    Surely to be “balanced” we’d need one “skeptic” non-scientist and one “doomsdayer” non-scientist both interrogating the scientist from opposite sides?

    By having only the “skeptic” the scientist is painted as being on one side whereas in reality there are extremes on both side and most scientists are actually somewhere in the middle.

  277. @Saulius Saulaitis

    Don’t bother quoting John Schellnhuber against me, he and I are old friends. If I’m on the wrong track I’m sure he’ll let me know.

    @Dana1981

    Hi Dana, thanks for your response. But have you seen Jeremy Paxman in action? 🙂

    Would you have been happy if Andrew Neil had been the interviewer?

  278. PS. I’ll try to respond to other points later.

  279. JasonB says:

    Montford’s assertion that “there is no evidence as such for man-made influence” is not something that I would expect in a serious interview. Note that he didn’t challenge the depth and breath of the evidence, or the way it was used to arrive at the conclusion, he simply denied its very existence.

    A reporter could have asked the question “is there evidence for human influence” and then been illuminated by the answer, but in this “debate” format it was simply hurled in as an unchallenged assertion, as was the repeated claim that this so-called ‘pause’ has serious implications for the accuracy of models in complete ignorance of the simple fact that models exhibit exactly the same behaviour.

    I don’t think this is a good way of informing the public.

  280. dana1981 says:

    “Hi Dana, thanks for your response. But have you seen Jeremy Paxman in action?”

    No, was that the BBC radio host?

    “Would you have been happy if Andrew Neil had been the interviewer?”

    Only if the discussion had been restricted to policy. Neil is clueless and biased when it comes to the science. I suspect he would have sounded a lot like Montford.

  281. BBD says:

    Oh this is utterly absurd and bloody infuriating as a consequence. If there was to be a “debate” for the BBC, it needed to be between scientists. Higher vs lower TCR etc. There is no justification whatsoever for giving the microphone to a libertarian blogger with an attitude and a huge contrarian axe to grind. This point has been made over and over again and is still being ignored. It remains true. This ridiculous editorial behaviour provides a platform and a megaphone for fringe views and it needs to cease.

  282. johnrussell40 says:

    Richard Betts says, “I think everyone just needs to chill out a bit and get a sense of perspective on life.

    When Richard writes something like that I once again get the impression that he doesn’t see that the work he does points to the strong possibility that in 50 years or so the world could really be in serious difficulties due to climate change. Surely if he did he’d become more concerned about the way the self-styled ‘sceptics’ try constantly, by fair means and foul, to sway policy towards doing nothing. I guess what I’m saying is that for me this is not a game.

  283. OPatrick says:

    As an educator, I think that debate can be a very effective educational tool.

    As an educator, I largely disagree 🙂

    A debate can encourage those involved to think about the issues in greater depth, but more often they encourage them to entrench their positions irrespective of what they believe or what they find the evidence points towards. For those observing the debate the format does not provide a particularly good way of evaluating the strength of the evidence, particularly when the time given to the two sides is balanced. In the case of Williams and Montford, as Paul Williams said there are multiple lines of evidence all pointing in the same direction. If he had had the chance to present this evidence in full then the debate might have been fair – if somewhat exhausting.

    I do think there is a place for the right sort of debate – but that would have to be one recorded over a long time, possibly days even rather than hours, where those involved would have a chance to look at evidence to respond to points made and where they could insist, with the help of a good moderator, that points raised are either addressed or conceded before their opponent moved on.

  284. Barry Woods says:

    Jason .It was 6 hour of filming. And we had a long off camera chat and we dhave chatted before.I’m on the side of tbe cientists at the Met Office’s. But not always on the ‘side’ of the Met Office.
    and we were pretty much in agreement to start with about what was discussed!
    I was just doing a sum up for the camera, not explaining how Richard had put me straight.
    He is quite correct, people here should chill. I recall saying to our host chatting over lunch is much more productive than blog commenting.

  285. pbjamm says:

    Debates are fine for matters of opinion but a terrible way to discuss matters of fact.

  286. OPatrick says:

    When Richard writes something like that I once again get the impression that he doesn’t see that the work he does points to the strong possibility that in 50 years or so the world could really be in serious difficulties due to climate change.

    Yes, I thought this too – it’s difficult to see what other perspective I should be bringing to this than a very real threat to the safety and comfort of my children’s lives. I’m not quite sure how this could compare to concerns about fox hunting. If someone repeatedly and knowingly misinforms people on this issue I’m fairly clear myself about what perspective I have on this. Given what we see on these threads, and in the media, every day I think we are all being rather restrained, assuming others share the same frustrations.

  287. johnrussell40 says:

    I understand and share your frustration, BBD. However I also understand how the editorial decisions occur within broadcast companies and unless the editor has a particular interest and knowledge of climate change—or there is a directive that comes down from higher up the organisation—the decision who they invite on will simply come down to, “who can we get that will produce a lively debate?” For them it’s just another story and as soon as it’s over they’re on to the next. For us, in the long term, we know it might mean life and death for future generations, but they don’t get that yet.

    Our only chance of having the science-guided coverage we want is to influence those in policy decision-making positions to get them to understand the science. Some do, but there are still too many who either fence-sit or are actively in denial. It will be only when there’s an overwhelming majority who ‘get it’ that things will change, for then the politicians will have to come on side or face being unelectable.

    I sense the weather in many countries is now starting to influence the debate. It won’t take much longer before the man in the street realises that what scientists have warned about is starting to happen. I only hope for humanity’s sake that it will sway people before it becomes too bad and things become irreversible.

  288. OPatrick says:

    He is quite correct, people here should chill.

    Is he correct in this because it suits the outcome you want to see? I think people should be deeply concerned and should be expressing that concern with ever greater urgency, with the caveat that this should be done in as effective a way as possible. That does not mean slapping each other on the back and saying how civilised we all are for being so polite about something we disagree on.

  289. Barry Woods says:

    No.. The outcome I want to see is people that disagree can civilly discuss things…

  290. Steve Bloom says:

    Re Paxman and Neil, the BBC does seem to have a commitment to what has been called “infotainment” mixed into its news coverage. It’s about ratings and being seen to represent the entire political spectrum, not about doing a good job with the science. I expect the programmers there would say that’s what the science shows are for. Not useful IMO.

    “Don’t bother quoting John Schellnhuber against me, he and I are old friends. If I’m on the wrong track I’m sure he’ll let me know.”

    I take that transparent dodge as a complete admission of the point JS was making.

  291. Steve Bloom says:

    Yes, all Barry wants out of this is a grant of credibility from scientists and climate activists. That and inaction.

  292. OPatrick says:

    Why? I don’t understand that as an outcome. I can see that it might be a mechanism for a particular outcome, or indeed for a broad range of outcomes, but what is the point of having that as your goal? Unless of course you want nothing to change. In which case lots of polite talk is a very effective method.

  293. Barry,

    No.. The outcome I want to see is people that disagree can civilly discuss things…

    Sure, that would be nice. However, it works both ways and I can’t currently name a single “skeptic” who has remained civil during a discussion. That may be true for both “sides”, admittedly. I also think that there’s much more to discussions than remaining civil. There’s engaging honestly. Acknowledging errors. Admitting when things are beyond your expertise. Simply saying “chill out, stay civil” isn’t enough if the discussion isn’t a good faith discussion in the first place.

    I have to also say that I agree with others here who don’t seem to see the benefits of scientists being debated in the media. Richard mentioned Paxman and Neil. Well, they’re political interviewers. I certainly would like them to challenge our politicians and policy makers. Not only is that their expertise, policy makers are also planning on implementing policies that will effect us now (months/years), and they’re are unapologetically ideological. They are elected and are expected to defend their decisions.

    That’s not, in my experience, how science works. Not only are the interviewers not sufficiently knowledgeable to actually challenge most scientists, scientists aren’t trained to defend themselves in a debate. If we want the public to learn about science then, in my view, scientists should be interviewed (about science) in the media in a different way to that of politicians. Of course, if you just want it to be a lively debate (as JohnR points out), then go ahead.

  294. Joshua,
    I’ll have to read and digest your 5.19pm comment before responding in more detail. Not feeling quite wide awake enough at the moment to quite take it all in 🙂

  295. dana1981 says:

    Naomi Oreskes has argued that one reason people don’t grasp the urgency of the climate threat is that there’s a disconnect between the ‘alarm’ indicated by climate science research and the calm tone of climate scientists when discussing the issue. It’s frowned upon when scientists express emotion, but then people get the impression that they’re not really worried about the problem. The ‘chill’ comment reminded me of that, and also Williams on BBC was very calm while Montford displayed more emotion.

    I understand that’s the expectation and norm for scientists, but as we also see in the comments here, it can be frustrating for those who are trying to address the climate threat.

  296. Steve Bloom says:

    O. Bothe much above:

    The game of “the poor old chap who can’t pay for his heating” (UK-skeptics?) vs. “the horrors of the Datum-earth of my grandchildren” (those called alarmists by the skeptics) isn’t really leading anywhere. It’s on both sides purely emotive. Can we change the discussion? Well it would require to truly engage with the “other side” which seems not to be on the agenda of both ‘tribes’.

    I think we don’t have to agree on the amount of warming to discuss potential policies. Is it really important which value TCR or ECS have if we assume that we might be closer to
    RCP 8.5 than anything else? Do we have to reach consensus over the value or should we discuss what impacts are acceptable under how much uncertainty (cf. risk). And please stay away from playing the emotions-card.

    O., you seem to have chosen to continually miss the point, which is that climate policy “skeptics” start and end there (with policy, that is), IOW one cannot have a discussion with them of the sort you want. Put another way, their null hypothesis is that there’s no serious evidence for negative near-term effects of AGW, and that complete certainty about such must be shown in order for meaningful policies to be considered. In its own way, it’s quite self-consistent and rational.

    But if you think you can manage to make some progress in such a debate, by all means march right over to Bishop Hill and give it a try. I’ll make popcorn.

  297. John Mashey says:

    Re: Andrew Montford: one more time, read this comment on the Hockey Stick Illusion.
    One of the key propositions of HSI was based on an unsupported claim by an interesting person in an essay that thought Michael Crichton’s “State of Fear” was good science, published in a dog astrology journal. Then Montford made a false statement about Lindzen confirming Overpeck (which Lindzen was forced to withdraw in 2012), and either showed he could not read papers or was (as we’d say in US falsifying or fabricating, which if in academe, can rise to academic misconduct. I don;’t know the rules in UK, and in any case, Monford is not an academic.)
    Montford cited Huang(1997), ignorign the fact that Huang & co and repudiated exactly the uses McIntyre & co had made of it later.
    Montford relied heavily on McIntyre & McKitrick(2005), although many of its problems were well-known by 2006, and whose fraudulent (and I know what it means) 100:1 cherry-pick was found later in 2010. He also relied on the Wegman Report, which was academic fraud from one end to the other, and even turned out to have used US Federal funding from inappropriate sources,.

    But, if the BBC wants to give him a platform, why not?

  298. Barry Woods says:

    Anders:
    I have always, I think engaged honestly, are you implying ‘indirectly’ here, that you think I am not..

    “There’s engaging honestly. Acknowledging errors. Admitting when things are beyond your expertise”

    I am a little tired of what I perceive to be misrepresenting of my motives, (Steve Bloom, BBD amongst others, here and elsewhere,) I’m always unclear with this is deliberate tactic or unconscious preconceptions, I try to give the benefit of the doubt, if it were the former, I would not be bothering here.

    You asked me earlier why goodwill had anything to do with science, (I might add trust to that)

    it is because people are the practitioners of science, with all our failings. I trusted Richard and the Met Office, not to cut and edit that video, to misrepresent me, and I trust Richard’s motivations for why he bothers to talk to whoever he wants to. For the record, the Met Office showed me the first cut of the video, which I was not completely happy with, as it cut out a lot of context of my question, and they happily added 40 seconds worth back in..

    Now I know, the reason it was originally shorter, not to make me look silly or anything, merely because the video editor wanted a short snappy, vid for the Met Office – MyClimate and Me website..

  299. Steve Bloom says:

    Richard, I have a few comments about the Aubrey Meyer submission you linked:

    I wouldn’t worry too much about his testimony either way until such time as he grasps the utility of executive summaries. :/

    Sure he’s alarmist, but as Ray Pierrehumbert says we ought to be alarmed. But the actual science he refers to seems to be taken largely from Jim Hansen and Kevin Anderson. If your problem is with the scientific views of the latter, why not address them directly?

    Re the Met Office’s missing feedbacks, which issue seems to be the crux of Aubrey’s submission, are you actually disagreeing with the general point? To repeat a question you avoided directly answering several months ago, how could it be otherwise so long as the models (broadly speaking) can’t manage the transition from current to a mid-Pliocene-like climate state? Your response was to note that GCMs can’t actually be tested in that way (insufficient computer capacity), and thus that it’s unfair to your new high-sensitivity model in particular to hold it up to such a standard. (This is from memory, and Steve Easterbrook may have been the one saying some part of this.) Maybe so, but no simplified model has been able to manage it either, and it remains that cryospheric feedbacks especially, in particular ice sheet response and permafrost, can’t be correctly incorporated in your model since those remain known unknowns.

  300. jsam says:

    In the last episode of Soap
    “geronimo says:
    February 4, 2014 at 2:14 pm
    You know what Wotty, I occasionally read climateaudit and the “evil” McIntyre wouldn’t let the sort of comments form Tom Curtis and, of course BBD on his blog. You are trying to look even handed, but you don’t appear to be. BTW all this sucking up to Dana1981 and Tamino is, well, vomit making I suppose.

    geronimo probably hasn’t read the comments here http://climateaudit.org/2012/05/26/myles-allen-and-hide-the-decline/. He probably should.

  301. Barry,

    I have always, I think engaged honestly, are you implying ‘indirectly’ here, that you think I am not..

    No, it was just a general comment about what I’ve experienced in trying to hold discussion with some. No, I don’t think you engage dishonestly. Do I think you understand the basics of climate science particularly well? No, I don’t.

    I am a little tired of what I perceive to be misrepresenting of my motives, (Steve Bloom, BBD amongst others, here and elsewhere,) I’m always unclear with this is deliberate tactic or unconscious preconceptions, I try to give the benefit of the doubt, if it were the former, I would not be bothering here.

    Yes, people are showing frustration. Would it be nicer if they didn’t? Maybe. Is this is an emotive topic in which it’s hard not to get frustrated? Yes. Do you show frustration? Yes, you seem to. Do you think about ways in which you could engage that didn’t get others so frustrated? I obviously don’t know the answer to this, but it might be worth some thought if you don’t.

  302. BBD says:

    Barry Woods

    I am a little tired of what I perceive to be misrepresenting of my motives, (Steve Bloom, BBD amongst others

    Oh, no. You aren’t getting away with that. I have never misrepresented you.

    Let’s see some quoted evidence or a withdrawal of this claim.

  303. BBD,
    To be fair to Barry, I let that stand because he said perceive to be. He’s free to perceive something to be, without necessarily being right.

  304. BBD says:

    But he isn’t free to say it in comments here unless he can support his perceptions. I know he cannot, which is why I am inviting him to do so. This false claim is an example of Barry’s intellectual dishonesty that can stand alongside his incessant evasions when asked to justify his peddling of the low S meme with some actual physics.

    Plus I’ve had about enough of Barry’s self-serving nonsense and he has now crossed the line.

  305. BBD,

    But he isn’t free to say it in comments here unless he can support his perceptions. I know he cannot, which is why I am inviting him to do so.

    Fair enough, but I’m only just starting to wind down after trying to deal (not very well) with the earlier comments. I’ll call a halt to it if it starts to get out of hand, if only for my own sake if nothing else.

  306. badgersouth says:

    andthentheresphysics:

    Suggest that your next ATTP post be on Tom Engelhardt’s excellent, thought-provoking, essay, “Ending the World the Human Way: Climate Change as the Anti-News.”

    http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175801/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_the_end_of_history/

  307. jsam says:

    The old timers will recognise this. How many times has a spwedo sceptic sent you to geocraft – to either “prove” temperature leads CO2 – or to tell you CO2 isn’t the problem?

    Take the sciency test. Are you sciency enough? http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/GlobWarmTest/Q1.html

  308. Joshua says:

    OPatrick –

    As an educator, I largely disagree 🙂

    Yes, I wasn’t thinking very deeply when I threw out that comment.

    A debate can encourage those involved to think about the issues in greater depth, but more often they encourage them to entrench their positions irrespective of what they believe or what they find the evidence points towards.

    I have used debate to good effect for those involved in the debate when I have asked students to research the debate from all angles in preparation for being assigned to defend positions other than those that align with their personal positions.

    For those observing the debate the format does not provide a particularly good way of evaluating the strength of the evidence,

    That depends. It does not necessarily provide a way of evaluating strengths of the evidence, but it at least does offer the possibility. What would a good alternative be? How can I evaluate the strengths of opposing positions without hearing the respective positions explicated?

    particularly when the time given to the two sides is balanced.

    I look at this as a debate between stakeholders. I don’t see some formula to use to apportion time differently to different stakeholders – and even if I did, how could that be carried out?

    I do think there is a place for the right sort of debate – but that would have to be one recorded over a long time, possibly days even rather than hours, where those involved would have a chance to look at evidence to respond to points made and where they could insist, with the help of a good moderator, that points raised are either addressed or conceded before their opponent moved on.

    Agreed.

    Again, my main points are that debate is one piece of the puzzle, it can be of use, and anyway, how would one propose eliminating debate from the process of science communication. I see no practical way of doing so. I hope that was better thought out.

  309. OPatrick says:

    Barry, what I perceive you doing is repeatedly making accusations about attacks on ‘sceptics’, such as David Whitehouse supposedly being unfairly attacked by Mark Lynas, and criticisms of Sceptical Science in particular, such as your claim above that they alienate people by dismissing ‘sceptic’ arguments as being silly and using hostility and ridicule, but ignoring or brushing off the clear evidence that shows your perception to be incorrect. As a result I am sceptical of the honesty of your engagement.

  310. Steve Bloom says:

    “I look at this as a debate between stakeholders.”

    Well, there’s part of your problem.

  311. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    Put another way, their null hypothesis is that there’s no serious evidence for negative near-term effects of AGW, and that complete certainty about such must be shown in order for meaningful policies to be considered. In its own way, it’s quite self-consistent and rational.

    I often see inconsistent rhetoric: On the one side I see it argued that the science is uncertain and on the other side I see it argued that there is no serious evidence for negative near-term [or even long-term] effects of ACO2 (an argument that relies on certainty).

    I think that combination of arguments is neither self-consistent or rational, and I think that is where the discussion should be focused, if there really is a discussion to be had. Whether there is one to be had remains an open question. No doubt there is much evidence to suggest that there is not a discussion to be had.

    I think that “skeptics” can be asked to reconcile the inconsistency between their arguments about certainty and their certain arguments. The way that they often try to reconcile that issue is by mischaracterizing the uncertainty in the arguments made by “realists.” As one example, how often can you read “skeptics” say that climate scientists say that “the science is settled.” First, practically no climate scientists say that, and second, the expression is inherently ambiguous (what science is settled, and what does settled mean?).

  312. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    Well, there’s part of your problem.

    I don’t think that “I” have a problem. I think that the problem is a shared problem. If you’re going to insist to condescend, have at it – but AFAIC, it would be, essentially, the same thing as when I engage with “skeptics.”

    In point of fact, they are stakeholders. No amount of wishful thinking will change that. You can insist on dealing with the situation as if they aren’t, as if by decree you can dictate that they aren’t stakeholders – but you will only spin your wheels.

  313. @dana1981

    Naomi Oreskes has argued that one reason people don’t grasp the urgency of the climate threat is that there’s a disconnect between the ‘alarm’ indicated by climate science research and the calm tone of climate scientists when discussing the issue.

    I actually think it’s exactly the opposite – continual banging-on about climate doom actually puts people off. There is nobody who is unaware of the issue of climate change (whether they believe it is a problem or not is a different matter – everybody at least knows about it). Everybody who is likely to be convinced through shrill cries of imminent catastrophe is already convinced. There is also a group who will never be convinced no matter what anybody says. In the middle there is a majority who aren’t particularly bothered either way, but will ask intelligent questions about it when the opportunity arises. Many such people simply roll their eyes when told, yet again, that they must do this and that in order to ‘save the world’ – they regard it as insulting to their intelligence. They also see straight through claims of over-stated certainty of climate doom. (Don’t misunderstand me here – yes, there are indeed enormous risks posed by climate change, but also deep uncertainties, which are easy enough to recognise once you start looking into it). However, a proper conversation which distinguishes what we know with confidence from what we are less sure about, and which allows people to make their own judgements and choices, is more likely to get some of the disinterested folk to actually engage with the issue.

    To make a risky analogy which I’m sure will upset somebody and come back to bite me, think about secondary school teachers who are successful in engaging a class of teenagers. Those who just shout at the students and threaten them with sanctions to make them listen are not, in my experience, particularly successful – and they certainly lose all respect from the students. Similarly for those who just talk at the students without getting them to participate. But those who actually make things interesting and capture the students’ imagination tend to get more respect and an engaged class.

    Well that’s what I think anyway.

  314. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    I will, again, repeat how struck I am by the similarity in your approach to the debate with the approach I typically encounter among “skeptics.”

  315. Steve Bloom says:

    Too subtle, I guess. My comment was to imply that the origin and typical uses of the “stakeholder” term make it perhaps less than useful when it comes to climate change. It’s a bit of a luxury, as is the idea that this is some sort of debate in a scholastic sense. It’s a nice illusion, while it lasts.

  316. Joshua says:

    Richard and Dana –

    Naomi Oreskes has argued that one reason people don’t grasp the urgency of the climate threat is that there’s a disconnect between the ‘alarm’ indicated by climate science research and the calm tone of climate scientists when discussing the issue.

    and

    I actually think it’s exactly the opposite – continual banging-on about climate doom actually puts people off. There is nobody who is unaware of the issue of climate change (whether they believe it is a problem or not is a different matter – everybody at least knows about it).

    The evidence suggest that neither is the case. Most folks in the public don’t even know what climate scientists say in much of any depth. The manner that climate scientists use to express their opinions is largely irrelevant to public opinion.

    We have evidence that informs us as to the most significant influences on public opinion w/r/t concern about climate change: Primary is probably political orientation and group identification. Mix in short-term weather phenomena and the state of the economy.

    All this back-and-forth about the effect of what climate scientists do or don’t say is based on evidence-free speculation.

  317. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    . It’s a bit of a luxury, as is the idea that this is some sort of debate in a scholastic sense.

    I’m not talking about a “scholastic” sense. I’m talking about in the sense of: (1) the general public understanding the science and, (2) public policy development and implementation.

  318. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    Well that’s what I think anyway.

    You are a scientist, and I think that accordingly you should base opinions on these matters on more than just what seems like common sense. There is a “science” related to evidence for how public opinion w/r/t climate change is formed. It is far from a perfect science, but I would suggest that it is considerably better than just common sense reasoning.

  319. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    Too subtle, I guess.

    I’m not as bright as you. You need to explain things to me clearly. Sometimes I can catch subtlety and nuance, but you can’t count on it.

  320. OPatrick says:

    how would one propose eliminating debate from the process of science communication

    This depends of course on how we are thinking of, or defining, ‘debate’. I don’t see that the sort of discussion involving Montford and Williams adds anything to science communication. It doesn’t need to happen in that way for people to get a flavour of the uncertainties and disagreements in a field. A much better format would be something like ‘In Our TIme’, where non-adversarial discussions allow for, I think, far better communication. But even just good journalism could be sufficient. There was no need for Montford to be involved directly in the discussion; a good journalist could have identified the legitimate concerns Montford has and raised them in the interview. Debate of some form can, and will, take place on many levels, including extended comments threads on blogs, it doesn’t need these adversarial set-ups to happen. I don’t pretend for a moment there is any realistic chance that they won’t continue to happen.

  321. Steve Bloom says:

    Sure, Joshua, if forced into a formal debate over this, stakeholder a stakeholder, the first thing I’d do is lose by pointing out the absurdity of pretending that we can treat climate change in such a manner. Of course it’s a very common perception that this is so, IMO part and parcel with sticking our collective head in the sand.

    I don’t know what level you teach at, but given present trends do you think your students have much of a chance of living out what is commonly perceived by older generations as a normal life? If your answer is no, have you communicated that to them, and in what way? If the answer is yes, I’d be curious as to your reasoning, bearing in mind what’s happening in Syria right now in consequence of a relatively minor drought. That latter is their likely future. But, er, no worries, right?

  322. OPatrick says:

    Many such people simply roll their eyes when told, yet again, that they must do this and that in order to ‘save the world’ – they regard it as insulting to their intelligence.

    Many other people roll their eyes when told, yet again, that they are being told what they must do in order to ‘save the world’ – they regard it as insulting to their intelligence. I am highly sceptical of your assertion that there are many ‘claims of over-stated certainty of climate doom’. As I noted above it is telling, I think, that in a previous discussion on this issue you had to go back some 6 years to find an example of an article which over-stated the science, and even then it didn’t seem to be particularly egregious.

  323. Steve Bloom says:

    “All this back-and-forth about the effect of what climate scientists do or don’t say is based on evidence-free speculation.”

    Well, sure, as it’s an experiment that hasn’t been attempted yet. But even so the hypothesis may be supported by evidence from observations in the present. Maybe consider what that evidence might be. Social change theory is interesting, especially when expanded to incorporate evolutionary psychology.

  324. Joshua says:

    OPatrick –

    I don’t pretend for a moment there is any realistic chance that they won’t continue to happen.

    Well, yes, there’s that. It will continue to happen. Again, they are stakeholders and no one is in a position to determine which stakeholders will get a voice. So the abstracted discussion of how things should be if the world were a better place becomes fairly moot.

    I would argue, however, that if you’re going to get people invested in policy outcomes, then there has to be a lot of sausage making. It can’t be achieved otherwise. Montford or the like, I would say, do have to be a part of the discussion simply because they are out there. “Realists” will not be able to develop and implement policy simply by discussing the issues with only those they want to be in discussion with, and only in the manner in which they deem fit. Now I’m aware that you haven’t said that, and I don’t want to build a straw man, but I think it is important to adapt a well-thought-out and practical approach to the reality that, as you said, there is no realistic change those sorts of debates won’t continue to happen.

  325. Richard Betts,
    I don’t know enough about what works best to really know whether I agree with Naomi Oreskes’ quote or not. I do agree with much of what you say. For example,

    However, a proper conversation which distinguishes what we know with confidence from what we are less sure about, and which allows people to make their own judgements and choices, is more likely to get some of the disinterested folk to actually engage with the issue.

    is exactly right, in my opinion. In my – admittedly limited – experience, however, this is much harder than it seems. I would argue, for example, that the radio interview that sparked this post, failed to do this properly. It’s also exactly this type of discussion that I thought might be possible, and which I know think isn’t, unless it’s with people who largely agree anyway.

    I’ll make a personal observation, though. I started this blog entirely by chance – spur of the moment. A decision I may live to regret 🙂 My understanding of the science comes from a background in physics, the ability to read scientific papers, and from reading and judging what others have written or said. Apart from comments made on the blog, I haven’t directly engaged with climate scientists. Possibly I should have tried harder to do so, but deciding to remain anonymous probably made that harder than otherwise, and the opportunity hasn’t really arisen. Also, I didn’t really expect anyone to take this all that seriously, so didn’t give it all that much thought.

    Here’s my observation : I see yourself and others commenting, for example, on BishopHill. I think that’s commendable and, in a sense, is kind of what I had hoped might be possible, but have failed to do myself. Then I read other comments on that site that openly denigrate climate scientists. Comments that just seem beyond the pale. I get confused. What do I make of climate scientists commenting on such a site without seeming to be bothered about what others on the same site say about their colleagues (at least in the sense of being climate scientists too). Do those comments have merit? Am I confused about our scientific understanding? Are you just being pragmatic and avoiding engaging where you won’t have any chance of success?

    So, maybe the general public really doesn’t notice. And, to be clear, I think trying to engage is commendable and I hope you and others who are trying continue to have much more success than I’ve had. However, whether you like it or not, how you choose to engage does have an impact on what others think (or at least it has in my case) and it does confuse me that despite the scientific evidence (or at least my understanding of the evidence) there are people who should know and understand it extremely well, who don’t seem terribly bothered – both about the future impacts and about the public discourse.

  326. andrew adams says:

    Richard,

    I understand the point you are making re Montford, and I agree that in his absence you would want a well informed interviewer asking pertinent questions – you want him to represent the man in the street and raise the kind of concerns the average layman might have. I certainly don’t think it needs to be a Paxman style interrogation, Paul Williams isn’t a politician. But Montford doesn’t represent the man in the street, he’s a guy with an agenda of his own and by bringing him in the situation immediate becomes confrontational, which may make for more entertaining listening but I don’t think does much to enhance the understanding of the audience.

  327. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    Well, sure, as it’s an experiment that hasn’t been attempted yet. But even so the hypothesis may be supported by evidence from observations in the present. Maybe consider what that evidence might be. Social change theory is interesting, especially when expanded to incorporate evolutionary psychology.

    I think that there is evidence, quite a bit in fact, based on carefully evaluated observations.

    What do you see as the implications of social change theory, particularly expanded to incorporate evolutionary psychology?

  328. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    To add to Anders’ 9:54 post – what evidence do you have that the sort of engagement you participate in at Bishop Hill has any significant impact on public opinion, or in any way counters what you see to be a negative effect of “continual banging-on about climate doom “ from climate scientists?

    Consider that the “continual banging-on about climate doom,” is a mischaracterization of certainly all but a few climate scientists, and perhaps even any. A climate scientist saying that there is a high probability of significant impact from ACO2 does not fit your description. You seem to me, to be adopting the same mischaracterization of the uncertainty expressed by climate scientists as I see among die-hard “skeptics.”

  329. OPatrick says:

    But those who actually make things interesting and capture the students’ imagination tend to get more respect and an engaged class.

    And with regards to this I am unclear how it supports your claims concerning climate. In the long term the successful teachers are the ones who can communicate a passion for learning, although consistency and the skill to tailor explanations and target work to students’ abilities are also essential in the classroom. You don’t do this just by pandering to what the students want to hear or what they want to engage with – you might bring some of these things in to the classroom but it’s also important that as a teacher you maintain control, control over what is taught and how it is taught. We have expertise and understanding that students don’t yet have and they can learn from our expertise and experience our passion for the process of learning.

  330. Steve Bloom says:

    “I think that there is evidence, quite a bit in fact, based on carefully evaluated observations.”

    I’m happy to answer, but I’d appreciate a pointer to that evidence first so I can consider it in my reply.

  331. Steve Bloom says:

    Anders, you quote with approval this from Richard:

    However, a proper conversation which distinguishes what we know with confidence from what we are less sure about, and which allows people to make their own judgements and choices, is more likely to get some of the disinterested folk to actually engage with the issue.

    The difficulty is the temporal aspect of the problem, which can be accepted but then used as a basis for rejecting action in the present. Given this, can we have any confidence that a primary reliance on public responses will be sufficient to the challenge? IMO it’s much more likely that scientists and activists will have to convince policy makers to undertake sweeping action even though it doesn’t poll well.

  332. Richard (9:32) gets it. And the reason he does so is nothing to do with him being a scientist. It’s because he has spent a lot of time listening to what the sceptics are saying and trying to understand them.

    [Mod: Snipped the last bit because it is inflammatory and likely to provoke. I want to keep the peace.]

  333. dana1981 says:

    “I actually think it’s exactly the opposite – continual banging-on about climate doom actually puts people off.”

    I see very little banging-on about climate doom, and I can’t recall seeing any from climate scientists. I certainly see a lot of stories talking about climate risks and impacts and the fact that we’re not doing enough to mitigate them, but not about climate doom. It’s also true that people rarely hear from climate scientists at all, and when they do it’s often in a false balance setting, like with Montford and Williams on BBC Radio. When they do hear from climate scientists, I think Oreskes’ point is very valid. It often sounds very calm and creates the perception that they’re not concerned.

  334. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    I’m happy to answer, but I’d appreciate a pointer to that evidence first so I can consider it in my reply.

    I think that I have referred you to Kahan’s blog in the past, but will do so now, also. Searching there for relevant evidence on how the public forms views on climate change is a fairly simple task. The blog can serve as a good porthole into the larger domain of relevant literature.

  335. Joshua says:

    Paul –

    Richard (9:32) gets it. And the reason he does so is nothing to do with him being a scientist. It’s because he has spent a lot of time listening to what the sceptics are saying and trying to understand them.

    I’ve spent a lot of time listening so “skeptics,” outside of this [Mod: removed reference to this word from the earlier comment], and I disagree with much of Richard’s 9:32 comment (see my 9:37).

    I think that the cause-and-effect attribution you outlined is not particularly applicable.

    [Mod: removed part of an earlier comment to which this referred so have removed it here also]

  336. Steve Bloom says:

    Nothing more specific, Joshua? I do read the blog. To clarify, I’m asking for evidence about the utility of increased vehemence (however characterized) in galvanizing social change. I don’t recall seeing any such from Kahan.

  337. Joshua says:

    Dana –

    When they do hear from climate scientists, I think Oreskes’ point is very valid. It often sounds very calm and creates the perception that they’re not concerned.

    While I share your basic critique of Richard’s statement (see my 9:37), I think that your analysis is no better founded (see my 9:37).

    In fact, your argument is self-contradictory. On the one hand you say that people rarely hear from climate scientists at all, and then you turn around and attribute a large impact to the calm demeanor of climate scientists when talking about risk.

    Where is your evidence that so convinces you that somehow things would be significantly different if climate scientists spoke about risk with a greater sense of urgency. Where is your evidence that your own strident style in talking about the risks from climate change has been effective? I’m talking about real evidence – not seat-of-the-pants speculation about what you consider to be common sense.

  338. Rachel says:

    I agree with Oreskes. What we are being told about climate change by scientists is quite alarming and yet the scientists I have seen communicating the impacts do so with little passion and emotion. They discuss sea level rise in the same manner as they would discuss what to cook for dinner. There are exceptions of course. James Hansen does a pretty good job I think. So I agree with Dana on this.

    I also think there’s an element of condescension when you assume that the public can’t handle the truth be it doom and gloom or not. I’ve never liked the idea of putting a positive spin on something to soften a blow. If there’s going to be a blow, I want to be prepared for it. So from my perspective, “banging on about climate doom” is not off-putting at all.

  339. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    To clarify, I’m asking for evidence about the utility of increased vehemence (however characterized) in galvanizing social change. I don’t recall seeing any such from Kahan.

    He has written quite a bit about the weakness of the “information deficit” approach to the debate. He gives a pretty compelling argument, IMO, why focusing on filling in the information deficit won’t alter the basic dynamics of public opinion formation – because people filter “expertise” to confirm their biases on issues that are polarized. I think that is directly related to thinking that increased vehemence will net a positive benefit in altering public opinion.

    Further, he has spoken directly to the impact of what he describes as “polarizing” messaging from climate scientists, in that it drives people into preexisting group identifications in polarized fashion on issues where most people actually don’t know much about the related science.

    Now I happen to disagree with him about that later part, because I think that people are polarized to start with and that the actual impact of what climate scientists do or don’t say is minimal, at best.

  340. Steve Bloom says:

    “On the one hand you say that people rarely hear from climate scientists at all, and then you turn around and attribute a large impact to the calm demeanor of climate scientists when talking about risk.”

    No contradiction. They’re different albeit complementary. We need more, and louder.

  341. Steve Bloom says:

    Thanks, Joshua. I’m familiar with and disagree rather strongly with at least parts of his “deficit model” views, but will try to address them insofar as they’re directly pertinent to the point we’re discussing. Not today, as I need to look some things up and am out of time anyway.

  342. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    No contradiction. They’re different albeit complementary. We need more, and louder.

    I disagree. He is saying that the current method of communicating is part of the problem – because people are hearing climate scientists speak in what he considers to be an insufficient manner. But he also says that people rarely hear them speak.

    But at any rate – I get your point, so to move past what is probably more a semantic difference than anything else, where’s your evidence that “more, and louder” will have a beneficial impact?

    I mean solid evidence. Something better than Richard’s seat-of-the-pants speculation that runs in the other direction.

    I think that both arguments (Dana’s and Richard’s) have a certain intuitive logic about human nature – but I see neither as being supported by the evidence.

  343. Steve Bloom says:

    To be clear, I think the volume aspect (i.e., more scientists talking more) is more important than the tone they take.

  344. Ian Forrester says:

    I think it is time everyone re-read the infamous API memo which started all this nonsense about “unsettled science”.

    Here is a quote from the memo:

    Charlton Research’s survey of 1,100 “informed Americans” suggests that while Americans currently perceive climate change to be a great threat, public opinion is open enough to change on climate science. When informed that “some scientists believe there is not enough evidence to suggest that [what is called global climate change] is a long-term change due to human behavior and activities,” 58 percent of those surveyed said they were more likely to oppose the Kyoto treaty.

    This sowing of doubt is, of course, straight out of the tobacco lobbying playbook.

    The memo can be found at:

    http://www.euronet.nl/users/e_wesker/ew@shell/API-prop.html

    My view is that we are all far too late in pushing back against the fossil fuel lobby and their dishonest supporters, we should have done something 12 or 13 years ago. We are now left with the prospect of Governments not doing anything until the consequences are so very obvious that even they can no longer turn a blind eye.

  345. Joshua says:

    Dana –

    W/r/t where I agree with you, see my 10:03 also. I find it disappointing to read Richard adopt the “continual banging-on about climate doom,” mischaracterization so ubiquitious on “skept-o-sphere” blogs.

    I wonder how Richard feels about the “continual banging-on” about economic damage we’re in store for because of the “AGW hoax” that I am quite sure he had read quite a bit over at Bishop Hill.

  346. andrew adams says:

    Richard,

    In the middle there is a majority who aren’t particularly bothered either way, but will ask intelligent questions about it when the opportunity arises. Many such people simply roll their eyes when told, yet again, that they must do this and that in order to ‘save the world’ – they regard it as insulting to their intelligence. They also see straight through claims of over-stated certainty of climate doom. (Don’t misunderstand me here – yes, there are indeed enormous risks posed by climate change, but also deep uncertainties, which are easy enough to recognise once you start looking into it). However, a proper conversation which distinguishes what we know with confidence from what we are less sure about, and which allows people to make their own judgements and choices, is more likely to get some of the disinterested folk to actually engage with the issue.

    I agree that the kind of conversation you mention is important, and that this should recognise the deep uncertainties. But those uncertainties lie in both directions, and different people will have different views of the severity of the risks involved – some might be more pessimistic than others but still not be outside the limits of I guess what we could call legitimate, scientifically justifiable opinion. And while it’s important not to be unduly “catastrophic” it is equally wrong to give people a false sense of security.

    And yes, there will be some (largely from outside the climate science community itself) who will make catastrophic sounding claims which are exaggerated or based on misunderstandings of the science. I’m as “warmist” as they come but I still recognise such claims on occasions. But what genuine skeptics do is try to sift the good information from the bad, distinguish reliable sources of information from unreliable ones. They realise that we are naturally inclined to mistrust information which challenges our preconceived ideas and seems to go against our self interest, and realise that just because something sounds unwelcome or just implausible it isn’t necessarily so.

    Ultimately we are all responsible for our own opinions and for how we process information. We have a choice whether to listen properly and to react in good faith. Yes we might decide that certain voices aren’t worth listening to, so why not seek out those who are, at least if it as an issue which could have a profound effect on our planet and our society.

  347. andrew adams says:

    Richard (9:32) gets it. And the reason he does so is nothing to do with him being a scientist. It’s because he has spent a lot of time listening to what the sceptics are saying and trying to understand them.

    Like Joshua I’ve spent a lot of time at at least one skeptic blog and can’t say I’ve found what they have to say particularly enlightening, and certainly not convincing. And I’m sure that goes both ways. So how much effort do you really put into listening to what climate scientists are saying and trying to understand them? It’s not just about you you know.

  348. Steve Bloom says:

    Popping back on to link this PBS News Hour video segment on a major new US Food & Drug Administration campaign to reduce teen smoking. I just heard the last half or so, and the link is clogged at the moment, but as far as I could tell lots of people must not be listening to Kahan. Presumably there will be an array of social science research backing up this approach, which I’ll have a look for later this evening.

  349. andrew adams says:

    One more point for Richard,

    One way it occurs to me that scientists can be open about the real risks that climate change poses but still not sound too doom laden is to be optimistic about the possibility of doing something to stop it. “If we start acting urgently we can both avoid the worst consequences and make the whole process less costly” sounds much better than “We must do something right now or we are all doomed”. But of course for some people that would stray too far into the realms of advocacy.

  350. Joshua says:

    Steve –

    but as far as I could tell lots of people must not be listening to Kahan.

    First, it is important to consider whether the issue being discussed is one that overlaps with political or other group identifications (and as a result stimulates identity-protective or identity-aggressive types of motivated reasoning) – thus comparison to campaigns to reduce teen smoking is not particularly relevant.

    Second, whether or not “lots of people” are listening or not is also not particularly relevant. There certainly a lot of people on both sides of the climate change wars who don’t listen to what Kahan says about the influence of motivated reasoning. So what can we glean from that?

  351. dana1981 says:

    “and then you turn around and attribute a large impact to the calm demeanor of climate scientists when talking about risk.”

    No, I didn’t say it’s a large impact. I don’t know how large it is – probably not terribly large because most people don’t hear from climate scientists. My point is that when they do, climate scientists generally sound very calm and unconcerned, like they’re discussing what to cook for dinner, as Rachel put it. Thus those who do hear interviews with climate scientists are generally going to come away with an impression of a lack of urgency. It’s just one contributing factor (probably a small one) to the public failing to grasp the urgency of the situation.

    I think false balance from the media is a much bigger contributing factor, like the BBC Radio interview that’s the subject of this post. I think that sort of thing is one of the biggest problems. Putting people like Montford on the a big media outlet like BBC, spouting nonsense about how the planet hasn’t warmed in 20 years and climate models are way off so there’s nothing to worry about – that’s going to give people the perception that it’s not an urgent problem. But at the same time, climate scientists being emotionless when discussing the subject (as Williams was) likely contributes as well. You come away from the BBC show thinking Williams isn’t worried and Montford says there’s no problem at all, so everything must be hunky dory.

  352. JasonB says:

    Barry:

    I was just doing a sum up for the camera, not explaining how Richard had put me straight.

    You said: “I think we agree that the next decade or so of observed temperatures will go a long way to constraining the projections or validating them” (Emphasis mine.)

    Whether he managed to convince you of that point during the six hours of filming, or you already had that view beforehand, or you were merely summarising his statements and didn’t share his view despite what you said, it actually doesn’t matter — the point is that you now claim that CS is likely to be at the low end of the IPCC range based on existing observations, ignoring what Richard explained and apparently ignorant of the fact that the instrumental record is a terrible constraint on the upper limit of CS (the LGM and paleoclimate studies are much more effective at eliminating the “fat tails”, and combining them all together a la Annan is even better).

    What’s more, as you keep reminding us, you are very chummy with a whole bunch of these guys and their interactions with you would presumably serve as a perfect example of the right way to engage with “skeptics”.

    And yet, in spite of six hours of filming, long off-camera chats, and chats before then, he still can’t even convince you of something as basic as the fact that short term variations in the temperature record say very little about the underlying warming trend and therefore about climate sensitivity? A fact so basic that it is essentially captured in its entirety by the SkS “Escalator” graphic?

    It’s an interesting data point on the value of Richard’s approach.

  353. Joshua says:

    I’d like to know whether Richard thinks that he has changed any “skeptics'” view on anything of substance related to the science of climate change, and if so: who was it, and what was the change?

  354. OPatrick says:

    I’d like to know whether Richard thinks it’s important to consider how you frame the debate when discussing the issues with those who accept the consensus, or if it’s only one side that needs to be mollified in this way?

  355. BBD says:

    JasonB

    Yet again, nail on head.

  356. jsam says:

    By way of analogy, the facts alone do not win debates. http://ncse.com/blog/2014/02/how-bill-nye-won-debate-0015369

  357. jsam says:

    Continuing the analogy of creationism versus science. If you’re going to debate, be a showman. The debate is not won by facts so much as it is won by the performance.

    Or don’t debate. A debate lends credibility to the credulous. http://www.salon.com/2014/02/01/new_atheisms_big_mistake_debating_creationists_solves_nothing/

  358. Hi folks

    Sorry to leave the conversation last night – here in Devon we had a power cut literally 30 seconds after I posted my last comment!

    @Joshua February 4, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    Most folks in the public don’t even know what climate scientists say in much of any depth.

    Yes, I totally agree.

    @Steve Bloom February 4, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    To be clear, I think the volume aspect (i.e., more scientists talking more) is more important than the tone they take.

    Yes, I agree with that too. And I’ll tell you why I think this doesn’t happen (and before anyone asks for evidence, the following is based on personal experience from being surrounded by 150 other climate scientists every day for the last 20 years….)

    The reason many (indeed most) climate scientists don’t engage with the public is because the debate is too polarised and heated. If you come out and express an opinion then you’re pretty much guaranteed to get someone having a go at you. Obviously if you raise the (very real) issue of climate risks, you’ll draw fire from sceptics. But also if you call out exaggerations, or even suggest caution in uncertainties, you draw fire from the other side. You also draw fire if you’re perceived as “breaking ranks”. If we want the best-informed people to take part in the public discussion, we need to defuse it and not inflame it further.

    (Incidentally, that’s why I support the stated aim of this blog of “trying to keep the discussion civil” – well done and thank you Anders for starting it and persevering!)

    Telling scientists that we must be more emotional and raise the alarm is not going to get more of us to engage.

    @Joshua February 4, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    I wonder how Richard feels about the “continual banging-on” about economic damage we’re in store for because of the “AGW hoax” that I am quite sure he had read quite a bit over at Bishop Hill.

    I find it much of it equally tedious and off-putting. When someone is going on about economic damage etc, if this same person has previously demonstrated deep ignorance of climate science then I’m naturally inclined to discount their views on economics. However, if they’ve demonstrated a good understanding of climate science then I’m also more likely to take their views on economics more seriously. So, for example, I’ll listen to the views of Richard Tol (amongst other economists who have different views) but I take most Bishop Hill commenters’ opinions with a large large pinch of salt.

    @andthentheresphysics February 4, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    I see yourself and others commenting, for example, on BishopHill. I think that’s commendable and, in a sense, is kind of what I had hoped might be possible, but have failed to do myself. Then I read other comments on that site that openly denigrate climate scientists. Comments that just seem beyond the pale. I get confused. What do I make of climate scientists commenting on such a site without seeming to be bothered about what others on the same site say about their colleagues (at least in the sense of being climate scientists too). Do those comments have merit? Am I confused about our scientific understanding? Are you just being pragmatic and avoiding engaging where you won’t have any chance of success?

    Thank you, glad you think it’s commendable. No, such comments don’t have merit, and you’re correct that I don’t (or rarely) respond because I know when it’s not worthwhile. I have actually tried this a couple of times, and it just turned into an impossibly frustrating discussion. So, now I try to stick to specific scientific points – if colleagues are bothered by being talked about then they can come and defend themselves if they wish. (But also see my comments above about scientists not engaging in the polarised debate.)

    However, similarly to my point above, if I see someone on Bishop Hill being vindictive about scientists then I’ll naturally tend to discount their views on other things. I’m astonished that some of those guys don’t realise how badly they present themselves sometimes, and how they damage their credibility.

    In fact it’s exactly the same as the point I made last night – getting all worked up and angry just alienates your audience, whether you’re a warmist or sceptics.

  359. Richard,
    Thanks, and I appreciate the lengthy response. It’s roughly what I had thought, but it’s useful to have it clarified. Having chosen (for better or worse) to engage in this topic, I do understand why avoiding challenging those who make vindicative and unpleasant comments is entirely reasonable. I’ve tried and failed and I can see why you would choose not to do so yourself.

    As for trying to keep the discussion civil I should probably have put the trying in bold. It’s not easy and I fail more often than I succeed. It’s probably also unfortunate that the number of dissenting voices is quite low, but I don’t really know what to do about that while still trying to keep the discussion civil.

    The reason many (indeed most) climate scientists don’t engage with the public is because the debate is too polarised and heated.

    Tell me about it. This I can completely believe. I do find it unfortunate and as much as I would like to see more climate scientists engaging, I appreciate that this is not necessarily their forte and is not an easy topic in which to engage publicly.

  360. [Mod : Actually, I did originally decide to post this, but it is clearly off topic and I’ve spent enough time moderating this post without the introduction of another contentious topic, so it’s been snipped. ]

  361. verytallguy says:

    [Mod : Point taken 🙂 ]

  362. BBD says:

    ATTP

    Having chosen (for better or worse) to engage in this topic, I do understand why avoiding challenging those who make vindicative and unpleasant comments is entirely reasonable.

    You could just not publish their comments…

    As for the topic, there seems to be entrenched confusion. The point is that fringe contrarians are fringe and should not be given a platform by the MSM. There is no point in “debating” with them or listening to their rubbish. They have nothing substantive to say and much that is damaging to the public understanding, so they need to be excluded. I still fail to see why anyone, from scientists on downwards, would wish to engage with pseudo-sceptics when they should be ignored and marginalised according to their marginal status. Nor will they learn, so there’s no point in wasting time trying to educate them.

    So why all this talk about “engaging” with pseudo-sceptics when the issue is or should be about disengaging with them?

  363. According to Scopus, Grant Foster has a few papers to his name on spectral methods in time series analysis. These methods are, of course, irrelevant for the non-stationary series that dominate the climate debate. He never published in a statistical journal. Tom C claims he published “textbooks” but these are not known to Amazon.

  364. OPatrick says:

    But also if you call out exaggerations, or even suggest caution in uncertainties, you draw fire from the other side. You also draw fire if you’re perceived as “breaking ranks”.

    I’m not convinced this is true at all. I’m certainly not convinced that it balances out the challenges you get from the ‘scpetics’ when you raise the issue of climate risks as you imply. Can you give examples of where you have ‘drawn fire’ for doing this? (As opposed to reasonable expressions of disagreement about the science or people criticising you for the tone in which you are saying these things.)

  365. @JasonB February 5, 2014 at 3:40 am

    It’s an interesting data point on the value of Richard’s approach.

    @Joshua February 5, 2014 at 5:13 am

    I’d like to know whether Richard thinks that he has changed any “skeptics’” view on anything of substance related to the science of climate change, and if so: who was it, and what was the change?

    I think there’s some assumptions here about what my aim is. I don’t for a minute think that I’m going to change people’s views on the science simply through a few good-natured chats. But I hope I can inform their views on scientists, which is an important part of a discussion on a scientific issue. As a first step, I’m simply happy to be someone who is openly disussing climate science in a forum where many people have a somewhat distorted view of climate scientists, in order to promote a more positive view. This is personally important to me just as a matter of general public engagement, irrespective of whether this is “fringe” or “mainstream”. Moreover, although BBD describes (presumably) Bishop Hill as a “fringe contrarian”, some people who read that blog do have influence (even if they rarely comment). See, for example, the crowd-sourcing of material for Parliamentary Questions to be tabled by members of the House of Lords. Having a voice of a climate scientist in the melee is, I think, important when many other people there are presenting climate scientists in a distorted way. Also, taking opportunities to correct innaccurate information is also important. (I don’t do as much of this as I’d like, mainly because of lack of time.)

    There are loads of other people who read but don’t comment. They tend to have more nuanced views than the noisy commenters.

    A number of Bishop Hill readers and sceptic tweeters have told me (either by email, on twitter or on blogs, eg. Tamsins) that they seem me as someone they trust & respect. (Admittedly some have also said the opposite though!).

  366. @OPatrick February 5, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Can you give examples of where you have ‘drawn fire’ for doing this? (As opposed to reasonable expressions of disagreement about the science or people criticising you for the tone in which you are saying these things.)

    Yes, see the link to Aubrey Meyer’s submission to a parliamentary enquiry I linked to above, which basically claims that the Met Office misled parliament. It’s not a reasonable disagreement about the science because he totally fails to understand models or the carbon cycle.

  367. verytallguy says:

    Richard Betts,

    Telling scientists that we must be more emotional and raise the alarm is not going to get more of us to engage.

    This brings three interesting questions on dissonance. You’ve already disagreed with Oreskes on the first, so I won’t go down that route. Even more troubling to my mind is this:

    There is a huge dissonance between the portrayal of climate change as a specific topic (big, serious), and the utter lack of joining the dots when other topics are covered. Just for instance, airport expansion and North Sea oil exploration, both of which are portrayed as unalloyed good things, and don’t raise so much as a mention of climate change despite being entirely incompatible with our climate change act. Why don’t climate scientists respond to the media portrayal of these issues? There would be no need to be emotional, merely raising the issue repeatedly and consistently would suffice.

    Finally, I’ve come to the conclusion that any attempt to engage on sceptic blogs is entirely counterproductive. As ATTP says, it implicitly endorses the abuse they level on science in general, and scientists in particular. I think engagement really should mean the MSM.

  368. Richard Tol,
    It might not be on Amazon, but it appears to be available elsewhere. Maybe you’d like to buy a copy 🙂

  369. Everyone else,
    I think this discussion is going quite well. I’m certainly gaining a new perspective on things. Maybe everyone could just bear in mind that it’s entirely possible (especially when discussing something like public engagement) that we can have an interesting and constructive discussion even if we don’t all agree about what works and what doesn’t, and what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

  370. [Mod : off topic and not particularly constructive.]

  371. guthrie says:

    I personally think that it is a waste of time for all but the most calm minded people to comment on denialist blogs. Leave them to be their own echo chamber.
    However it is important to have as much input into the media and their comment threads as possible. If denialists dominate the discourse in a comments thread or letters to the editor, normal people will get the impression that there’s something to their bletherings. If however people argue back and demonstrate with as many facts as possible that the denialists are wrong, then your average reader will at least come away with the idea that either things aren’t settled or that the denialists are wrong.

    It is also blatantly obvious that rhetorical tactics that work on one person will not work on another, so however you answer denialists, you’ll probably put off someone. E.g. I recall reading an ex-creationist and evolution denier saying how the continued arguments and evidence, along with vitriol, from the pro-science side, eventually spurred him into taking a closer look and he realised creationism was wrong. On the other hand I’ve seen people comment about a normal enough forum I post on and know well, that they don’t post there because people are argumentative. We’re talking a forum where swearing is at a minimum, many people know each other in real life and really it’s nothing compared even to this thread, although this thread is more polite. Basically their tolerance for disagreement and argument is extremely low.

  372. Marco,
    Yes, indeed, that is better.

  373. Barry Woods says:

    Verytallguy –
    I actually agree, I would like more scientist to be engaging with the MSM, correcting things where they see fit. (ie Honest Brokers, as the public want to see them) commenting on any blogs ‘sceptics/concerned is useful, but the bigger picture is the MSM, where most of the public hear about anything

    As Richard and others, in a personal capacity, have done in the past…

    However, when they correct, in ways that are perceived to be ‘off message’ they get put under pressure by a few (a vocal few) that consider them as being off message or giving ammunition to sceptics, and they get warned of, which I’m sure discourages others from doing the same..

    I equally find it frustrating that when scientist do engage on sceptic blogs – an opposite equivalent vocal few, dump on them for all the ‘perceived sins’ of climate science.. I’m sure Richard, could give examples of both extreme fringe sides doing this (and Tamsin Edwards and others, like Ed Hawkins, Mark Brandon could also give examples)

    I’ve also said to scientists like Richard in the past, if there was more correcting of the media by scientists (or much better by organisations like the Met Office, Walker Institute, etc ) then there would be a lot less sceptics – who are reacting perhaps to a media version of science (caveat free, or hear the latest single paper press release, hyped up by media as a ‘doom’ story – or a ‘scientists wrong’ story – much to the frustration of scientists in the actual field..

    ie Greenland ‘melted’ story, and Times Greenland 15% ice loss story, as examples.

    But I don’t think there is any budget (or perhaps focus on) for this type of work, engaging with MSM?

  374. Richard Betts,
    I thought I might make a comment about this,

    Telling scientists that we must be more emotional and raise the alarm is not going to get more of us to engage.

    So, it’s happened before that something I said (well, more correctly, something I retweeted) was perceived as trying to tell climate scientists how to behave. It ended up in a lengthy and somewhat frustrating discussion in which I tried to explain (unsuccessfully, largely) that even though that was a reasonable interpretation of what I’d retweeted, that it really wasn’t my intent.

    So, I agree completely that we shouldn’t be trying to tell scientists how to behave and how to engage. For example, I wasn’t a big fan of Kevin Anderson’s suggestion that a lack of engagement was implicit endorsement of the status quo. On the other hand, I have found it interesting (in a way) that climate scientist do sometimes seem to object quite strongly to suggestions that they should engage more. I understand that it is a hot topic and I fully support those who decide not to engage because they just don’t want the likely abuse (I sometimes wish I decided that 10 months ago myself). However, it does seem a pity that some seem to perceive the suggestion that more engagement would be good as an attempt to tell scientists how to behave, rather than as an indication that if they did engage more they would have support from those who are encouraging it.

  375. andrew adams says:

    I think scientists should in general do what comes naturally to them. There will always be some who are more comfortable with speaking out than others, and of those who do there will be some whose message is more “concerned” than others – I think that’s fine as long as everyone sticks to what can be backed up by the science itself. I think that climate scientists generally do so and that there is a perfectly good range of voices from the climate science community.

    Also, as I wouldn’t generalise about what scientists should do I think it’s wrong to generalise about how the public will react to different kinds of message. I keep reading for example that people are turned off when scientists send out messages hwich are too negative in nature, but there are a great many of us who do accept that climate change is a real and serious threat so those messages obviously had the desired effect on us.

    I would also reiterate a point I made earlier in the thread – communication is a two way process and where there is a communication failure it is sometimes germane to consider how much the person on the receiving end might be responsible.

  376. Finding a balance between “keeping the discussion civil” and “letting people speak their mind” is tricky, but a worthwhile endeavour imho

  377. Warren,
    Indeed, I would like to think so. I might change the is tricky to [Mod : expletive deleted] difficult.

  378. verytallguy says:

    Barry,

    your comment is rather confused, so I’m not really sure what you’re getting at to be honest.

    However, on

    I’ve also said to scientists like Richard in the past, if there was more correcting of the media by scientists … …then there would be a lot less sceptics

    I think you are absolutely and entirely mistaken. Scepticism is not driven by the science – it’s driven by political ideology and economic fear. Nit picking the science is a convenient way to avoid addressing the reality.

  379. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    Thanks for all those responses. I appreciate you taking the time.

    A number of Bishop Hill readers and sceptic tweeters have told me (either by email, on twitter or on blogs, eg. Tamsins) that they seem me as someone they trust & respect. (Admittedly some have also said the opposite though!).

    I think that respect and trust are important prerequisites for productive discussion – but in the end the goal has to be to find some way to move the scientific discussion forward so at to be able to get to the policy discussion. One problem that I see is that if you, as someone that they trust and respect, seem to be pointing to the attitude of scientists as a main issue of concern, their takeaway is a sense of vindication from the position of tribalism. They feel justified in concluding that the problem is fanatical, activist scientists – not fanaticism in their own camp, and perhaps more importantly, not whether their views are grounded in a full and unbiased examination of the science. While I respect your focus on trust and respect – the question is what have we gained if you are achieving that on a personal level but in a larger sense, you are not helping or perhaps even making worse the personal politics aspect of the debate. I am not saying that I think that you should participate in any way other than with fits with your values w/r/t science communication. It would be absurd for me to say that you shouldn’t engage in a reasonable way in discussions with people who disagree with you about the science. But I do wonder if, by focusing on those called “activist scientists” you are reinforcing for “skeptics” who seek to exploit the style and substance of the climate scientists that they don’t respect and trust in order to avoid, rather than accept that the style and substance of their own input is at least equally part of the problem.

    That is why it disturbed me to read your comment about “continual banging-on about climate doom “ – because while I might question the rhetoric of some climate scientists or other “realists,” I see a comment from you there as quite problematic. Please see, if you missed it before:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/the-bbc-and-its-balance/#comment-13781

    And along similar lines:

    But also if you call out exaggerations, or even suggest caution in uncertainties, you draw fire from the other side.

    I am not in a position to judge your personal experience, but I see, often, where “skeptics” exploit any uncertainty that is expressed by climate scientists, or outright ignore when those uncertainties are expressed. My favorite example was when “skeptics” claimed that Mojib Latif was predicting “global cooling” because he talked about the probability that short-term trends might mask long-term warming.

    Obviously, I don’t have an answer, but I do think that it is important to hold “skeptics'” feet to the fire and to be careful about reinforcing attitudes about “skeptics” that are more a part of the problem than the solution. That you have gained respect and trust is important, IMO, but not if it comes at the expense of reinforcing the strength of their tribalsm. This is my criticism of Judith Curry; while I think that her focus on tribalism and uncertainty are important, I think that she undermines the value of her advocacy in that regard by consistently utilizing a double-standard. In the end, I think that is likely to only create defensive responses from “realists” and reinforce a sense of justification among “skeptics” and both sides will only dig deeper into their foxholes and redouble their grenade launch rate.

  380. Tom Curtis says:

    Anders has linked to Foster’s popular book on statistics, Marco to (one of) his textbook(s). There remains only to link to his ‘hybrid’: Analyzing Light Curves: A Practical Guide. By my count that makes two text books, and a popular guide on statistics.

  381. andrew adams says:

    Barry,

    I’ve also said to scientists like Richard in the past, if there was more correcting of the media by scientists (or much better by organisations like the Met Office, Walker Institute, etc ) then there would be a lot less sceptics

    Sorry, I’m not buying this. I mean let me put it this way, if I was to suggest to most skeptics that they are maybe making judgements based on reading unduly “alarmist” reports and if they made an effort to understand the mainstream (IPCC) position they might take a different view how do you think they would react? I think they would see that as rather patronising and say that they understand the mainstream position perfectly well thank you very much. And the fact is that many of them, including you and Andrew Montford clearly don’t accept the mainstream view, you think iy is overly “alarmist”, so in that case you can hardly claim that your skepticism is due to “alarmist” and unscientific reporting of climate change.

  382. @Wotts
    And that link leads to a textbook in statistics?

  383. Richard Tol,
    No, but others have produced better examples than I did. Your comment did just say “textbook” I think. Anyway, what point are you actually trying to make? This is getting rather off-topic. The only reason for mentioning his books was to show that he has some kind of record in a relevant field. I’m not really interested in a long discussion about this. If you’re really trying to support Foxgoose’s earlier claim that “activists” are added to papers simply to increase their credibility, then I’d really rather you did that somewhere else. If you’re just trying to make some snide comments about others, you’ve done it.

  384. Joshua says:

    Barry –

    I’ve also said to scientists like Richard in the past, if there was more correcting of the media by scientists (or much better by organisations like the Met Office, Walker Institute, etc ) then there would be a lot less sceptics – who are reacting perhaps to a media version of science (caveat free, or hear the latest single paper press release, hyped up by media as a ‘doom’ story – or a ‘scientists wrong’ story – much to the frustration of scientists in the actual field..

    Like VTG – I am very “skeptical” about that. I think that there is very solid evidence that because climate change has become such a politicized issue, people on both sides of the debate actively filter information so as to conform with their preconceptions and biases. Even if what you describe might be the operative mechanics for a few, it does not provide a valid explanation for the larger dynamic taking place, IMO.

    What is frustrating for me is that people promote common-sense reasoning such as that you stated above, w/o dealing with the contradictory evidence.

    It happens on both sides of the debate. Neither side, in my experience, has an answer for the basic influence of motivated reasoning – which is a phenomenon that is solidly supported by quite a bit of evidence.

  385. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Anyway, what point are you actually trying to make?

    Perhaps he’s trying to point out that Richard Betts should not put so much trust in Richard Toll’s views on the economics?

  386. OPatrick says:

    Richard, I’m sorry for pushing this but I don’t feel that Aubrey Meyer’s comment is really an example of the ‘drawing fire’ that you’d described when you said:

    The reason many (indeed most) climate scientists don’t engage with the public is because the debate is too polarised and heated. If you come out and express an opinion then you’re pretty much guaranteed to get someone having a go at you. Obviously if you raise the (very real) issue of climate risks, you’ll draw fire from sceptics. But also if you call out exaggerations, or even suggest caution in uncertainties, you draw fire from the other side. You also draw fire if you’re perceived as “breaking ranks”. If we want the best-informed people to take part in the public discussion, we need to defuse it and not inflame it further.

    This implied to me an element of personal criticism, which I didn’t see in Meyer’s comment, though admittedly I only skimmed it. Do you really think that what Meyer wrote would deter scientists from engaging?

  387. jsam says:

    The self-policing and restraint of the sceptic community is well known.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/02/04/quote-of-the-week-cru-scientist-disses-cooks-97/

  388. Barry Woods says:

    indeed… 😉
    Perhaps Hulme should have been more restrained when he said this….
    (worse than ‘infamous’?)

    Mike Hulme also made his feelings very clear about his thoughts on the ‘limitations’ of the Cook et al ‘97% paper’ to the Making Science Public blog a few months back..

    Mike Hulme July 25, 2013 at 6:39 am:
    http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2013/07/23/whats-behind-the-battle-of-received-wisdoms/#comment-182401

    “Ben Pile is spot on. The “97% consensus” article is poorly conceived, poorly designed and poorly executed. It obscures the complexities of the climate issue and it is a sign of the desperately poor level of public and policy debate in this country that the energy minister should cite it. It offers a similar depiction of the world into categories of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ to that adopted in Anderegg et al.’s 2010 equally poor study in PNAS: dividing publishing climate scientists into ‘believers’ and ‘non-believers’. It seems to me that these people are still living (or wishing to live) in the pre-2009 world of climate change discourse. Haven’t they noticed that public understanding of the climate issue has moved on?”

    and he clarified further in response to some questions:

    Mike Hulme July 25, 2013 at 4:00 pm
    http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2013/07/23/whats-behind-the-battle-of-received-wisdoms/#comment-182771

    “Steve – my point is that the Cook et al. study is hopelessly confused as well as being largely irrelevant to the complex questions that are raised by the idea of (human-caused) climate change. As to being confused, in one place the paper claims to be exploring “the level of scientific consensus that human activity is very likely causing most of the current GW” and yet the headline conclusion is based on rating abstracts according to whether “humans are causing global warming”. These are two entirely different judgements. The irrelevance is because none of the most contentious policy responses to climate change are resolved *even if* we accept that 97.1% of climate scientists believe that “human activity is very likely causing most of the current GW” (which of course is not what the study has shown). And more broadly, the sprawling scientific knowledge about climate and its changes cannot helpfully be reduced to a single consensus statement, however carefully worded. The various studies – such as Cook et al – that try to enumerate the climate change consensus pretend it can and that is why I find them unhelpful – and, in the sprit of this blog, I would suggest too that they are not helpful for our fellow citizens.

    Mike

    p.s. I’d be interested to know what Emeritus Chair I’m about to be offered!”

    I have seen a few comments that Hulme like:
    http://theconversation.com/science-cant-settle-what-should-be-done-about-climate-change-22727

    “shows Mike Hulme’s inexorable slide towards Curryism…”

    and from Rob Painting this:

    “I am also a co-author of Cook (2013), and I object to the use of the word ‘infamous’ in Hulme’s article. In common usage it means to be known for some bad deed or bad quality. Should The Conversation be encouraging the use of such perjorative terms? Do facts and evidence not enter into the equation here?

    Mike Hulme can scarcely conceal his dislike for our paper. For example: “John Cook and colleagues published in May 2013 claimed that of the 4,000 peer-reviewed papers“. On the one hand Hulme is claiming our paper is largely irrelevant yet he chooses words apparently intended to cast doubt on its veracity.

    Hulme is welcome to write whatever he likes on private blogs, but by publishing his insinuations you at The Conversation are giving them a false sense of legitimacy.” – Rob Painting

    Are not even Mr Climategate’s (Hulme) himself, thoughts legitimate now?!,
    if ‘off message’ or for daring to publically criticise SkS’ work..

  389. @verytallguy February 5, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Just for instance, airport expansion and North Sea oil exploration, both of which are portrayed as unalloyed good things, and don’t raise so much as a mention of climate change despite being entirely incompatible with our climate change act. Why don’t climate scientists respond to the media portrayal of these issues?

    Well for me personally there is a very simple answer – as a civil servant, I am not allowed to comment on government policy which is made on the basis of my scientific advice. It’s not acceptable for civil servants to do this, as it may undermine the current government or the next one. But that aside, scientists are aware that policy is always formulated on the basis of many complex factors, and getting involved in commenting on it requires more than a superficial understanding if one is to avoid damaging one’s credibility. I expect many scientists simply don’t feel qualified to comment.

    Incidentally, in the Met Office we provide climate advice to the air travel and offshore oil industries. Both use our advice for planning in the context of adaptation to climate change and variability. I think it would be hypocritical for me to help advise air or oil companies on their strategic planning by day but then question their existance by night. I prefer to advise people (whoever they are) on what I know about, and leave the complexities of politics to others. But that’s just my personal view.

    As a general response tosome other comments:

    A couple of comments have drawn parallels with creationism. In the case of someone claiming that the greenhouse effect does not exist, this would be a fair comparison. However, in the BBC programme that started all this, Andrew Montford did not do this. He acknowledged the greenhouse effect and the role of CO2 as a greenhouse gas. His disagreement is with the IPCC view of the likely range of climate sensitivity, which as we know is much harder to pin down. And yes he does very obviously favour papers by, say, Lindzen or Lewis rather than those by, say, Sherwood or Hansen . But like it or not, the former have been published in the peer-reviewed literature, so it’s fair enough to discuss them. I don’t think disagreements on climate sensitivity are on a parallel with creationism.

    Montford’s other main argument is on uncertainty, which again is a fair point to discuss. But as has often been pointed out, uncertainty works both ways, which is exactly what motivated me to write my paper When could global warming reach 4°C?, because I felt this issue was not given sufficient prominence in the coverage of the IPCC AR4 report. I also presented it at a conference in Oxford immediately following John Schellnhuber (you can listento our talks here if you like).

    Incidentally, this also reminds me of something of relevance to the manner in which science is presented, both in terms of the “raise the alarm” discussion and being even-handed and objective, and why I think my approach is effective. My presentation at the Oxford conferene was filmed for the BBC 10 o’clock News and broadcast as a major item. Beforehand, David Shukman grilled me very thoroughly on what I was going to say and whether I could really back it up or not. Although I was a boring, unemotional scientist, I believe my objectivity and non-alarmist approach were an important factor in this being taken seriously enough to be given a substantial slot on prime time TV on one of the world’s major broadcasters. Shukman himself has since encouraged me to continue with my approach. So, that’s what makes me think it works as a way for a working climate scientist to directly reach a mass audience.

    I also worked backstage at the Live Earth rock concert, discussing climate science with the bands and comedians if they wanted to know more about the issue they were getting involved in. Similarly I was invited to attend the premier of the movie Age of Stupid, and was invited to comment on stage in front of the audience afterwards. (The audience was largely politicians and celebrities). I also took part in several panel discussions for various screenings of that film around Devon, and similarly for An Inconvenient Truth. Again, all this happened because I was viewed as an objective “voice of authority”.

    However, if anyone else here has also achieved worldwide exposure for climate science on primetime TV or before major global communicators in popular culture, raising the prospect of major climate changes in future, I’d be happy to discuss the relative merits of our approaches 🙂

  390. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    That seems like an odd thing to say…

    So should I judge the relative merits of Rush Limbaugh’s or Inhofe’s approaches to communicating about the science of climate change on the basis of their having widespread media exposure in doing so?

    I wonder if, at Bishop Hill, you make similar appeals to your own authority on the issue of science communication?

  391. BBD says:

    Montford’s other main argument is on uncertainty

    Except that he’s very certain that Lindzen’s discredited attempts to argue for very low S and Lewis’ attempts to demonstrate this from “observational” estimates are correct and the mainstream view (~3C/2xCO2) is wrong. Just one of many, many reasons why BH is fringe. Diverting onto creationism is not going to get around that fact.

  392. Tom Curtis says:

    Barry Woods:

    “Are not even Mr Climategate’s (Hulme) himself, thoughts legitimate now?!,
    if ‘off message’ or for daring to publically criticise SkS’ work..”

    It is comments like that which require me to maintain a question mark over whether your are a legitimate critic, or just trying to manipulate the debate. Rob Painting and Mike Hulme disagree. That has got little to do with personalities, or past history, or membership in any particular organization. It is simply a disagreement. In this case I think Paintings comments are far more accurate than Hulme, who demonstrates in his comments that (at best) he did not understand the paper – which he appears to be criticizing primarily because it does not fit into his strategy. You, however, try to take that disagreement and turn it into a cudgel against SkS and imply that Painting endorses saying or doing things because of their rhetorical effect (ie, that they are “on message”) which is entirely false.

    Such repeated, and tendentious misrepresentations of the debate inevitably call your integrity into question. That you are riffing on a theme irrelevant to the topic, and which was only introduced by you with a snide and irrelevant comment above. If you are going to perpetually act like just another boring, misrepresenting “skeptic” attack dog, you are going to be considered as just that and nothing better.

  393. jsam says:

    Thank you, Barry. You have illustrated multiple concerns. I shall focus on just the one.

    I liked Jim Butts’ comment, “Isn’t increasing CO2 (the life-enabling trace gas) in the atmosphere a good thing?” and notice no-one has corrected him.

    Mike Maguire’s was even more intriguing, “Hitler would have admired the way that so many humans on our planet were so brainwashed with the idiotic notion that CO2=pollution.”

    There are yet more delights. Citations from the Orwellian Friends of Science and the oxymoronic American Thinker.

    Perhaps if the sceptics policed their community more strongly they’d have greater legitimacy asking scientists to monitor the media.

  394. Joshua says:

    I would like to make a request. This thread got somewhat back on track. Is there any chance that folks might resist the temptation to take up Barry’s invitation to turn this discussion to yet another back-and-forth about the 97% consensus paper? No doubt, we have all read many back-and-forths about the 97% consensus paper. I doubt that further discussion of that paper is likely to change any views. (Although I will point out that folks like Barry, who seems to think that the discussion related to the prevalence of opinion among experts is a “largely irrelevant,” yet seems to be focused on exactly that discussion).

    Did I just fail to comply with my own request? Keep in mind, someone on the Internet is wrong.

  395. verytallguy says:

    Richard,

    thanks for the response, very interesting. I think I’ve not made my point very clearly, I’ll maybe try to clarify.

    I wasn’t at all trying to suggest that scientists should argue against specific policies. Rather that I’d expect a reaction against the ignoring of the context of climate change in media discussion of these. For instance that the discussion of airport capacity is all around how essential it is, and therefore where it should happen, and nobody points out the elphant in the room that this level of expansion is entirely incompatible with our climate change commitments.

    As an aside, I am intruiged by the concept of advising the aviation industry on adaptation. I can’t imagine what that advice would be?

  396. jsam says:

    I thought I’d pick up Barry’s “no true Scotsman denies CO2” and the “you scientists need to better monitor disinformation coz we’re good at it” in one hit. 🙂

  397. BBD says:

    With absolute predictability, Barry Woods is once more peddling frantically but has not responded either to me here or to JasonB here.

  398. Barry Woods says:

    jsam – there is no ‘sceptic’ community to police. just individuals.

  399. Richard Betts,

    But like it or not, the former have been published in the peer-reviewed literature, so it’s fair enough to discuss them. I don’t think disagreements on climate sensitivity are on a parallel with creationism.

    Yes, I agree with you completely. Lewis and Lindzen are worthy of discussion (as an aside, having read Lewis (2013) it appears that his ECS range changed from 2.0 – 3.6 to 1.0 – 2.2 by adding 6 years worth of data. If that had been me, I would have stopped everything, assumed a major error, and tried to work out why. I’d be very surprised if the latter result isn’t wrong – I could wrong myself though). As you mention yourself, though, the issue is how other papers suggesting higher CS’s are ignored or down-weighted.

    I will add that some of what you have done appears to be very impressive. An issue may be a lack of awareness of what some climate scientists are doing, rather than anything else. As I mentioned earlier in another comment, maybe we should trying to do more encouraging than criticising.

  400. Richard Betts

    I’m impressed that you made yourself available as an “objective voice of authority” at screenings of The Age of Stupid and An Inconvenient Truth.

    If we sceptics were to organise screenings of The Great Global Warming Swindle at locations convenient to you – would you provide the same service?

  401. Foxgoose,
    But if you had climate scientists at screenings of The Great Global Warming Swindle, then you’d also need them at The Day After Tomorrow and other movies like that. There probably aren’t enough climate scientists to go around 😉

  402. @Wotts
    I’m indeed reinforcing Foxgoose’ point about double standards. Bishop Hill is an intelligent, well-informed layperson. So are others. If you think that Bishop Hill does not deserve to be interviewed by the BBC, then logically you should argue the same for many others — including yourself.

  403. verytallguy says:

    Foxgoose,

    I can’t imagine that climate sceptics would be interested in a film that claims something so obviously wrong volcanic eruptions emitting more carbon dioxide than fossil fuel burning. Surely they’re not that gullible? Are they?

  404. Richard Tol,
    Let’s deal with strawman here,

    If you think that Bishop Hill does not deserve to be interviewed by the BBC.

    I did not argue for that at all. In fact, you could even try reading this comment where I make it very clear that this issue is only with Montford being interviewed about climate models, not simply about Montford being interviewed. This isn’t a complicated concept. Care to try again, this time – maybe – without making accusations of double standards.

    As far as me being interviewed is concerned, absolutely, I do not have sufficient expertise to be interviewed on a major media outlet about the details of climate science (or any desire for that, to be quite honest).

  405. @Joshua February 5, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    What you said is even odder, given that I just told you how I was on TV telling the world that 4 degrees within a human lifetime is a possibility. Why compare me with those guys?

    All I’m saying is, what I do and how I do it works for me. That’s all. Others can do what they like.

    @verytallguy February 5, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    As an aside, I am intruiged by the concept of advising the aviation industry on adaptation. I can’t imagine what that advice would be?

    Be careful about building new runways near sea level…. 🙂

    They also wanted to know about changes in convective activity. Tricky one.

  406. johnrussell40 says:

    Richard Betts has come here to engage and offer himself for questioning, which is highly commendable and something I’ve always liked about him—even though he has a tendency to play the ‘uncertainty card’ in only one direction. However, let’s remember Richard B is not Richard T, who has come across to me as rather a nasty piece of work; which might be a bit strong but is based on his only contribution to this thread being an attempt to rubbish Tamino.

    So what I am saying is, let’s go easy on RB and make his visits here more enjoyable than those to self-labelled ‘sceptic’ sites, which I know from his tweets sometimes get to him.

  407. johnrussell,
    Yes, seconded (although I’m not sure that it’s fair to say that RB plays the uncertainty card in only one direction). My earlier comment was an attempt at a subtle version of what you’ve just written. Maybe I should try to become more direct and less subtle 🙂

  408. johnrussell40 says:

    I don’t know: this thread is moving so fast than no sooner has one written something that it’s overtaken by events. Richard B: it’s only my impression that you tend to play uncertainty downwards. And Richard T has now made a comment not about Tamino’s competence (though it doesn’t change my view of him based on what he says).

  409. john,
    I was debating whether or not to slightly moderate your earlier comment. I didn’t because you made it clear that it was your opinion and because one thing to Richard T’s credit is that although he can be very direct (another way, possibly, of saying what you said) he seems capable of both taking it as well as dishing it out (although I’m not encouraging this thread to descend into that kind of territory).

  410. verytallguy says:

    Richard Betts,

    Be careful about building new runways near sea level….
    They also wanted to know about changes in convective activity. Tricky one.

    Doesn’t the dissonance in this strike you as utterly bizarre?

    We’re thinking about the minutiae of how turbulence will change aircraft movements, yet ignoring the fact that continuing to expand the usage of those very aircraft is at the forefront of setting off a transformation of the world’s environment.

    It seems somewhat reminiscent of civil emergency planning in the cold war. Potential annihilation by thermonuclear weapons resulted in ‘a rational and understandable sham … in terms of the government’s overall defence policy, a necessary facade’

  411. johnrussell40 says:

    ATTP. I say ‘RB tends to play uncertainty downwards’ because of my take on it. Which is that, as someone who is concerned about risk, what happens if we under-estimate sensitivity is potentially catastrophic, while what happens if we over-estimate sensitivity might be just inconvenient.

  412. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    All I’m saying is, what I do and how I do it works for me. That’s all. Others can do what they like.

    That wasn’t how I read your comment, hence my response. When you said:

    However, if anyone else here has also achieved worldwide exposure …I’d be happy to discuss the relative merits of our approaches

    It seemed to me that you were saying that one’s status for discussing the relative merits of different approaches was proportional to the level of worldwide exposure they had attained. Of course, that would be in contrast to the simple fact that you are here discussing the relative merits of different approaches with people who have nowhere near the level of exposure that you’ve had — which is why I felt it was an odd thing for you to say.

    I was not comparing the specifics of your commentary on the science of climate change to the specifics of theirs – obviously, their quality of input is vastly inferior to yours, but I was making the point that I don’t think that level of exposure grants special status w/r/t discussing various approaches.

    It was not meant to detract, either, from the value of what you have learned from your experiences.

    If I misinterpreted you, apologies extended.

  413. jsam says:

    Barry has failed to address the point about policing by hiding behind terminology. His Iron Layish “there is no ‘sceptic’ community to police. just individuals” is so transparently evasive my dog started at my guffaw.

    He has failed, on three occasions in just this thread, to respond to whether or not he overlaps with the IPCC. https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/the-bbc-and-its-balance/#comment-13683.

    In foxgoose for real?

    I’m available for Radio interviews on economics. I once took a university course.

  414. Joshua says:

    jsam –

    “Iron Layish?” Iron Lady(ish)? Something else?

  415. jsam says:

    Iron Ladyish was intended, yes. Oh, for the ability to edit one’s posts – but that is a privilege oft abused. 🙂

  416. jsam says:

    That collection of sceptic individuals (never a community) does not censor CO2 craziness or Hitler allusions. But it does moderate, http://variable-variability.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/wuwt-and-co-not-interested-in-my.html.

    Has Barry told Mike Haseler that there is no sceptic community yet? Mike will be disappointed.

  417. dana1981 says:

    Richard, this is not strictly true, and you’re giving Montford far too much credit:

    A couple of comments have drawn parallels with creationism. In the case of someone claiming that the greenhouse effect does not exist, this would be a fair comparison. However, in the BBC programme that started all this, Andrew Montford did not do this. He acknowledged the greenhouse effect and the role of CO2 as a greenhouse gas. His disagreement is with the IPCC view of the likely range of climate sensitivity, which as we know is much harder to pin down.

    Montford also said there’s been no warming in 20 years (twice) and there’s no evidence of a human influence on the climate. Those two statements are not much better than denying the greenhouse effect exists. It’s essentially indirect denial of basic science.

  418. Joshua says:

    jsam – I still don’t understand the reference, though. How was Barry’s comment Thatcher-like?

    W/r/t “no skeptic community,” – I always find it amusing how many times I see that claim right along side claims such as that “almost no “skeptics” doubt that ACO2 affects the climate.”

    It reminds me, also, about how often I read that “alarmist warmists” are doing to destroy capitalism and cause billions of children to starve. If you get my drift.

  419. jsam says:

    Joshua – I was attempting to draw the parallel between Barry’s “there is no…community” and Thatcher’s “there is no such thing as society”. Both statements are wrong and both are evasive.

    And then I made a typo and derailed myself. Sigh.

  420. @John Russell
    I responded to Tom C’s claim that Tamino is an “accomplished statistician” (he is not) who has published “textbooks” (he has not).

    @Wotts
    You indeed never argued that Bishop Hill should not be heard; you only argued that he should not be heard ABOUT CERTAIN TOPICS. Invoking Kant, you should extend that argument to others, including yourself.

  421. BBD says:

    jsam

    Barry has failed to address the point about policing by hiding behind terminology.

    That’s not all Barry has failed to address which is damning for him.

  422. Barry Woods says:

    jsam. I thought O’bothe had settled that, as I had already said earlier.

  423. @RichardTol,

    I responded to Tom C’s claim that Tamino is an “accomplished statistician” (he is not) who has published “textbooks” (he has not).

    Personally, he seems quite good. As far as I can tell, he has published books on statistics. Maybe you’re being pedantic about whether or not they’re actually textbooks. If so, go and be pedantic somewhere else (my current favourite rallying cry for climate “skeptics” is pedants of the world unite) .

    You indeed never argued that Bishop Hill should not be heard; you only argued that he should not be heard ABOUT CERTAIN TOPICS. Invoking Kant, you should extend that argument to others, including yourself.

    Actually, I expressed an opinion about who I would rather have interviewed by major media outlets when it comes to discussions of complex science (in this case, climate modelling). So, I don’t really need to do anything else. I stand by my opinion. On the other hand, I have extended it to myself. I’ll also extend it further (which, technically, I have already). Here you go

    “If the BBC or other major media outlet would like to interview someone about climate modelling, they should – in my opinion – interview an experienced, professional climate modeller”.

    One could replace “climate modelling” with other examples of complex science topics. Happy now? You can assume my final question is rhetorical if you wish.

  424. verytallguy says:

    @Richard Tol

    Rather than invoking Kant in your posts, could I suggest you eliminate cant from them?

  425. Tom Curtis says:

    anders, Tol is not being “pedantic” about whether or not they are text books. One clearly is, and another gives every appearance of being a textbook. Tol is merely practicing his own form of “accomplished statistics” in which he examines data known to contain no signal on a particular matter, to find information about that signal, and where (here) he merely declares contrary data points non-existent the better to establish his point.

  426. BBD says:

    Barry Woods

    Your claim that I “misrepresented” you was false. You have not substantiated it as I requested, so I expect you to admit that it was self-serving nonsense. And I am getting fed up with waiting.

  427. [Mod : Sorry, not really interested in your assertions that have no actual evidence.]

  428. Joshua says:

    Richard:

    You say:

    He acknowledged the greenhouse effect and the role of CO2 as a greenhouse gas.

    and Montford says:

    The world should be warming at 0.2 per decade, and we haven’t had any warming at all for the last two decades.

    This bothers me.

    If someone acknowledges the effect and role of CO2 as a greenhouse gas, then logically they would have to agree that adding ACO2 to the atmosphere would have to result in “warming.” Yet Montford says that there hasn’t been “any warming at all.” He specifically does not say, “We have seen a reduced rate of increase in GATs” – which could be a statement that is entirely consistent with a belief in the effect and role of CO2 as a greenhouse gas. IMO, this is a logical inconsistency that reflects a lack of accountability in argumentation.

    Typically, when I point out that logical inconsistency to “skeptics,” they have responded with something like “Well, it’s the warmists own damn fault, because they’ve been prattling on for decades about the rapid increase in GATs.” Such a response, while it may touch on an interesting point, also reflects a lack of accountability.

    I find your defense of Montford in this case to be willing to absolve him of accountability. He is making a logically contradictory argument. How can you take his “acknowlegement” of the effect and role of CO2 as a greenhouse gas seriously if he then turns around and says that “we haven’t had any warming at all for the last two decades?”

  429. badgersouth says:

    It’s interesting to observe how quickly comment threads such as this one devolve into a modern day version of the “Punch & Judy” puppet show. At the end of the day, what have the participants accomplished?

  430. badgersouth,
    Actually, I thought this one wasn’t going too badly, but maybe some recent additions have rather the progress made earlier.

  431. verytallguy says:

    [Mod : You’re too quick for me. I removed FG’s because I’m not really interested in a discussion about how to get your name on a scientific paper. To avoid confusion, I’ve removed this comment too.]

  432. badgersouth says:

    I will grant you that there have been a number of “value-added” posts amongst the bashing posts. I, however, find it extremely disconcerting to have to wade through all of the muck in order to find them. Other than the people participating in this thread, who is likely to read it?

  433. badgersouth,
    Agreed, but that’s something I need to give some thought to. What’s this for? I don’t really know at the moment.

    Actually, in a sense I do kind of know what it’s for. It’s just my blog and if I start trying to contemplate something more significant, I think it would just be taking it too seriously, which I’m kind of trying to avoid. The side effect, though, is sometimes things just get a bit out of hand.

  434. jsam says:

    Barry, O’bothe stated. “I think I remember Barry more or less agreeing with that range.” If you do indeed agree with that, the next question was then on what basis you low-ball? What evidence have you that sensitivity is in low in the range?

    In the meantime, it seems the scientists are doing a better job of moderating the media after all than the “sceptics” do of moderating their collection of individuals. They could hardly do worse.

  435. andrew adams says:

    I am greatly enjoying the mental picture of Anders hitting Richard Tol around the head with a string of sausages.

  436. andrew adams says:

    Oh, and just to avoid any confusion I am still not seriously advocating violence against skeptics.

  437. OPatrick says:

    At this point I was going to write a comment trying to summarise and explain my dissatisfaction with Richard Betts comments and approach – which is not to say that I think I have anything notably new, interesting or insightful to say, nor that what I say should carry any weight with anyone, just that I wanted to clarify it for myself as much as anything. However, before I (maybe) do that I thought I’d ask a couple of questions, of Richard but also of others:

    To what extent does your role at the Met office – “Richard is Head of the Climate Impacts strategic area, which includes climate impacts research and also the climate change consultancy unit. “ – include expectations of public engagement? Does the Met Office being publicly funded make such engagement more of an expectation? Are there others within the organisation who’s role would suggest they have equal or greater expectations of engagement?

    If you were not engaged in media communication in the examples you’ve given above would other people have been engaged instead or would no voices from climate science have been heard?

  438. Barry Woods says:

    BBD

    well sometime you just have to wait. I don’t see every comment and your esrlier ones, don’t actually give me much reason to read you anymore.

    Sorry you are ‘tired’ But life. Work, Children swimming lessons and Brownies come first..

    look back on your comments here..

    where you accuse me of deliberately spreading misinformation.

    Why don’t you go to your own blog. Where I will happily dicuss whatever you want. Without us hi jacking this one. You can post links to your blog wherever you like, and anybody that is interested in what you say. Can follow you there.
    I look forward to it. I trust as moderator of your own blog,you will allow my comments

  439. JasonB says:

    Barry, I’ve mentioned the question I asked you a few times now but perhaps you missed that as well?

    I’d really like to see your reasoning.

  440. OP
    1. Public engagement is encouraged in academia.
    2. It is not really associated with particular roles.

  441. jsam says:

    Knowing full well that the wrath of the moderator will be upon me, but finding the chance at humour irresistible – and knowing Jason and BBD might enjoy it.

    [Mod: snipped.]

    I accept the moderator’s punishment. 🙂

  442. @Tom C
    An accomplished statistician has a bunch of theorems to her name.

    Now where can I buy Tamino’s textbook?

  443. OPatrick says:

    1. Public engagement is encouraged in academia.
    2. It is not really associated with particular roles.

    Is that consistent with the Met Office description of the areas Richard Betts heads?

    The Met Office’s climate change consultancy area works directly with end-users in a wide range of sectors, to ensure climate change information is used effectively for decision-making. This end-user contact also informs our research direction to keep it relevant to user needs.

    I’m not sure who the ‘end-users’ are, but do they in general public?clude the

  444. Pingback: What’s it for? | And Then There's Physics

  445. BBD says:

    Barry

    where you accuse me of deliberately spreading misinformation.

    No, that is not true. [Mod: snipped, ad hom]

    Your response is unsatisfactory. You made a silly, self-serving and false claim that I “misrepresented” you, which you have since refused either to substantiate or withdraw despite being asked repeatedly. This shows you up in a very poor light indeed.

    I add this little episode to the stack of evidence that you are not acting in good faith.

    (There is an ultimate purpose to this exercise which might suit you, so pace Badgersouth).

    Why don’t you go to your own blog. Where I will happily dicuss whatever you want. Without us hi jacking this one.

    I don’t have a blog. As for commenting frequency, are you joking? You have been all over this thread – I have contributed a fraction of the number of comments you have plastered up here. More bad faith, Barry.

    I trust as moderator of your own blog,you will allow my comments

    No, I would ban you for meme-peddling and your constant refusal to engage when requested in any substantive discussion of the physical mechanisms underpinning your claims, specifically low S.

  446. BBD says:

    @ Badgersouth

    Sorry – that aside should be separate, eg:

    (There is an ultimate purpose to this exercise which might suit you, so pace Badgersouth).

  447. JasonB says:

    Richard:

    But I hope I can inform their views on scientists, which is an important part of a discussion on a scientific issue.

    I suspect your efforts to inform their views extends to their view of you in particular but probably does not transfer to their views on climate scientists in general. I also suspect that some of them would also see you not calling out their — let’s say, “criticisms” of other scientists, as a tacit endorsement of those criticisms, reinforcing their view that those other scientists are “bad” scientists, not like you.

    Finally, I would not be surprised if even their positive view of you in particular only survives as long as you avoid seriously challenging their beliefs; the good will you have earned could evaporate very quickly if you started saying things they didn’t want to hear. (Thinking of Richard Muller in particular here, who quickly went from “skeptic” darling to someone who tricked them and was never a “skeptic” to begin with…)

    But what would I know? I’m just an anonymous commenter on a blog. I certainly haven’t achieved worldwide exposure for climate science on primetime TV.

    FWIW, I like Brian Cox’s approach:

  448. Barry Woods says:

    BBD. I said US hijacking.. not you.
    I’m sure the blog owner is tired of US discussing. I perceive all the accusation are coming from one direction. I will comment here as long as I’m welcome by the blog owner not you. I will try to just ignore what you say, but I will respond here, if I feel a lacked by you here. Which is why I suggested that WE (not just you) take this somewhere else, to keep US out of the moderators hair.

  449. jsam says:

    Gosh, what a high hurdle we set for the word “accomplished”. Now you need theorems named after oneself. I am an abject failure.

    There was me thinking accomplished meant “highly trained or skilled in a particular activity”, as per many a dictionary. How silly of me.

  450. Barry Woods says:

    Typo – lacked = attacked

  451. I’m sure the blog owner is tired of US discussing. I perceive all the accusation are coming from one direction.

    I’m concerned about the direction this is going, so would rather it didn’t continue.

  452. JasonB says:

    I didn’t expect WordPress to embed the first YouTube link like that. Sorry if that’s against the rules, ATTP. The second is very short and to the point but the first is a very good talk that does include some relevant comments.

  453. JasonB says:

    An accomplished statistician has a bunch of theorems to her name.

    I’m with jsam on this one. Are you suggesting that’s the definition Tom Curtis used?

    He does has an algorithm (Google “CLEANEst algorithm”) to his name. Does that count?

  454. Actually everyone, I’m kind of tired of trying to discuss things with Richard T. It’s bad enough trying to have a discussion with someone who is confused about the fundamentals of science/physics, but a discussion with someone who has their own special dictionary just seems impossible.

  455. jsam says:

    It’s a bit like arguing with people who say a tax reduction is not a subsidy. Not that anyone wood do that.

    Definition of ‘Subsidy’

    A benefit given by the government to groups or individuals usually in the form of a cash payment or tax reduction. The subsidy is usually given to remove some type of burden and is often considered to be in the interest of the public.

  456. badgersouth says:

    Barry Woods: Out of curiosity, why didn’t you invite BBD to continue your dialogue on your website?

  457. Oh no, let’s not start the whole “subsidy isn’t a tax break” debate now 😉

  458. jsam says:

    We woodn’t want to do that, would be ATTP? 🙂

    But it is worth highlighting how the “sceptic community” redefine words to suit their purposes.

  459. > . Is it really important which value TCR or ECS have if we assume that we might be closer to
    RCP 8.5 than anything else?

    Only insofar as we market concerns that look sciency.

  460. Barry Woods says:

    Because. I’ve virtually abandoned it. I even had to get it to remind me of my log in password.

  461. badgersouth says:

    Barry Woods: So why did you abandon your website?

  462. dhogaza says:

    Tol:

    “An accomplished statistician has a bunch of theorems to her name.”

    I guess y’all can stop listening to McIntyre now …

  463. jsam says:

    We need a Like button! Or emoticons. dhogaza gets a Bazinga!” from me.

    Do economists get theorems named after them?

  464. I rather decided to avoid like buttons after the experiment over at WUWT.

  465. Barry Woods says:

    Because what’s the point of another blog.. gathering a small group of commenter and the risk of insular group think. (Smaller the blog. Bigger the risk? ) I’d rather try to engage with people that have different and / or a wide range of opinions.

    Making Science Public blog is good for this. With very fair mods

    also. If i really want to blog. I’ve a guest author log on at WUWT, where would not have the hassle having to do moderation.

  466. badgersouth says:

    The following statement bears directly on one of the many issues being addressed on this comment thread:

    “The nay-sayers insist loudly that they’re ‘climate sceptics’, but this is a calculated misnomer – scientific scepticism is the method of investigating whether a particular hypothesis is supported by the evidence. Climate sceptics, by contrast, persist in ignoring empirical evidence that renders their position untenable. This isn’t scepticism, it’s unadulterated denialism, the very antithesis of critical thought.”

    Source: “Denying climate change isn’t scepticism – it’s ‘motivated reasoning’ ” by David Robert Grimes, The Guardian, Feb 5, 2014

    David Robert Grimes is a science writer and a physicist at Oxford University. He blogs at davidrobertgrimes.com. On Twitter he is @drg1985

  467. badgersouth says:

    Opps!

    The url to “Denying climate change isn’t scepticism – it’s ‘motivated reasoning’ ” is:

    http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/feb/05/denying-climate-change-scepticism-motivated-reasoning

  468. badgersouth says:

    For the record, I agree completely with David Robert Grimes on this matter.

  469. @Dana1981, @Joshua

    I’m not defending what Andrew Montford said, as most of it does not represent current scientific conclusions. I just think it’s not on a par with creationism – nobody needs to use phrases like “extremely likely” for the Earth not having been created a few thousand years ago by a god. But I guess the question of “On what level is Andrew Montford wrong” is probably the sort of philosophical question that scientists would enjoy discussing over a beer – I can see that this blog is not the place for this.

    @JasonB

    I guess you haven’t actually read my comments on Bishop Hill, Climate Audit or WUWT? I don’t pretend to agree with them by any means.

  470. Richard Betts,

    But I guess the question of “On what level is Andrew Montford wrong” is probably the sort of philosophical question that scientists would enjoy discussing over a beer – I can see that this blog is not the place for this.

    Hmmm, I think that would be a very interesting discussion to have.

    Maybe I’m mis-interpreting your comment, but I get the impression that you’re not that pleased with some of the comments directed at you here. Would I have preferred if people had been less critical in some of what they said? Sure, I do understand how difficult it can be to engage with the public and this topic in particular is a bit of a minefield. Do I disagree with what they’ve said? Not entirely, but I think I do understand why you’ve chosen to engage in the way you have and I certainly don’t know if it’ll work or not. I hope it does, and I don’t see any real reason not to give it a chance. Not much else is working, as far as I can tell. I also do appreciate the comments you have made. They’ve been interesting and I’ve found the discussion – in general – quite useful.

    So, if you really do feel that this is a site where a serious discussion about “on what level Andrew Montford (for example) is wrong” isn’t possible, then that is a pity. Of course, this is just a blog written by some anonymous person with unknown credentials, so maybe you’re right.

  471. Tom Curtis says:

    Thanks to jsam, JasonB, and Dhogaza for showing how nonsensical is Tol’s latest. It remains to add that Tol has overlooked three links to a location where he can by Tamino’s textbook. Sometimes I get the impression that ignoring contrary data is what Tol does best.

  472. @Tom C
    So, Tamino self-published three books.

  473. Joshua says:

    I hope that Richard Betts has not been discouraged from continuing to comment here, and if he was, I hope that my comments did not significantly contribute to that development. It wasn’t my intent. I appreciate his contributions thus far, and hope that he will continue. I think that his input is likely to notably elevate the discourse in these threads.

    In case Richard has not given up….

    I’m not defending what Andrew Montford said, as most of it does not represent current scientific conclusions.

    Ok, but you did indicate that Montford argues from a perspective of not doubting the GHE of ACO2. In my view, an argument that “there hasn’t been any warming at all for the last two decades” is inconsistent with acceptance of the GHE of ACO2.

    On the one hand, what I’m pointing to could be a semantic argument – that what Montford actually meant was ““We have seen a reduced rate of increase in GATs” – but at some point I think that “skeptics” should be accountable for repeatedly conflating those two statements.

    So my question to you is, do you agree? Do you agree that if someone like Montford continuously says, “there hasn’t been any warming at all for the last two decades” he should be held accountable for the incompatibility of that statement with a statement that he doesn’t question the GHE of ACO2?

  474. dana1981 says:

    I don’t see why Montford’s wrongness wouldn’t be discussed here. But it’s difficult to compare wrong statements about two different subjects and determine which is wronger. Is claiming there’s no evidence for human-caused global warming really less wrong than Creationsim? You could argue that Montford is generally not as wrong about climate science as a Creationist is about evolution, but he nevertheless made some very wrong comments on BBC.

    In any case, the real problem is that the guy who can be expected to make wrong statements, given that he’s not a climate scientist and rejects the expert climate consensus (and is usually wrong about climate science), was brought onto BBC Radio to begin with.

  475. Rachel says:

    Richard Betts,

    Telling scientists that we must be more emotional and raise the alarm is not going to get more of us to engage.

    Possibly this is directed at me. Or possibly not. But in any case I want to clarify that I do not mean to tell scientists how they should or shouldn’t communicate with the public. I just want to say that for me, if someone is saying something alarming, without appearing alarmed themselves, then it’s easier to dismiss what they say as not being particularly important.

    I also think there’s a tendency amongst scientists to repress their emotions for the reason that they will not be taken seriously. I think this is wrong and a little old fashioned.

  476. Rachel says:

    Richard Tol,

    Bishop Hill is an intelligent, well-informed layperson.

    I’m just wondering how this statement of yours fits with Montford saying in the BBC radio interview linked to in this post that, “there is no evidence of man-made influence [on the climate]”?

  477. @Rachel

    My comment was actually a response to Dana, not you – but not in a cross way! I appreciate the discussion here.

    @Joshua

    No, I haven’t given up. Thanks for clarifying where we had got our wires crossed. Yes, you did seem to misunderstand what I was getting at, but it’s entirely possible that I just didn’t express myself very well. As Anders says on the more recent thread, this is only a blog.

    As for Andrew’s statement – well, I don’t want to get into defending him, because overall I disagree with his general argument, but for accuracy’s sake, he didn’t say there had been “no warming at all” for the past 20 years, he actually said “we haven’t seen very much warming for getting on for 20 years”. It is correct that warming of global mean surface temperatures has been slower recently, and although it is possible to cherry-pick certain dates to exaggerate this, it is true that surface warming has been slower lately. The key point of course is whether this really matters, and most people who’ve looked at the bigger picture would conclude that of course that other indicators do continue to suggest a warming world – sea level rise, ice melt, increased ocean heat content etc – it’s all in the IPCC WG1 report. Also we do expect periods of slower warming to happen at times anyway. But Andrew plays a political game, and he’s said so himself. It’s up to the person he’s up against to counter him.

    I’ve been trying to avoid using this cliche, but my point here is that I disagree with what Andrew Montford says, but I defend his right to say it. As long as he’s not promoted as the sole spokesperson for climate modelling, which he was not, then as far as I’m concerned that’s fine. If we start censoring people just because they say silly things in the company of someone who is perfectly qualified to point out where they are being silly, that worries me. We are talking about really big stuff here with huge implications, so we’d better make sure we get it right. If it takes someone to come along and say “hey, are you really sure about this…?” then that’s fine with me. The fact that the basics of anthropogenic climate change still stand up even under repeated questioning makes the case stronger, not weaker.

  478. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    Thanks again for the response.

    Actually, Montford said two different things. He said what you said he said earlier in the show – but listen to what he says at about 22 minutes in:

    “The world should be warming at 0.2 degrees per decade, and we haven’t had any warming at all for the last two decades.”

    I am not talking about the issue of cherry-picking, but with the argument about whether or not “most” “skeptics” agree that ACO2 has a greenhouse effect. Yes, many say that they accept the GHE effects of ACO2 – but: (1) at times, that statement of belief is not logically consistent with the rest of their arguments (for some of them) and (2) I read a lot of “skeptics” who flat out reject the physics of the GHE or who flat out state that no effect from ACO2 would be substantial enough that it could be detected (e.g., the “trace gas” argument). Of course, there are a series of other inconsistent arguments that they often present – but you have defended Montford as accepting the GHE effects of ACO2, and the problem is that his arguments (and those of many other “skeptics” who argue about the “pause”:) are not consistent with that statement.

    It seems that you believe that Montford should, somehow, be distinguished from “sky dragons” and the like, and he should be put into a category of a more rational “skeptic.” Well, OK – then he has to make logically coherent arguments.

    I get tired of “skeptics” claiming that they are unfairly being categorized for having irrational beliefs, and that “most” “skeptics” are not irrational – when they then turn right around and offer incoherent arguments. I mean I’m not for categorizing anyone as irrational, but if they present an irrational argument we shouldn’t just look past that because we agree that treating them with condemnation is, if anything, counterproductive.
    I listened to it a few times to confirm.

    I agree with you that Montford has a right to say what he says. Of course he does. I disagree that putting him on the air is a reflection of “bias” on the part of the BBC (if you read further upstairs you will read me arguing that point).

    And IMO – he, and people who think like he does, are stakeholders and therefore must absolutely be part of the discussion.

    But by the same token, I think that they should be asked to be accountable for what they say.

  479. JasonB says:

    Richard:

    I guess you haven’t actually read my comments on Bishop Hill, Climate Audit or WUWT?

    I have.

    I don’t pretend to agree with them by any means.

    I never said you “pretended” to agree with them. I said that I suspect that some of them would see you not disagreeing with their comments about other scientists as a tacit endorsement of those criticisms, reinforcing their views. This was in response to your comment that you don’t respond to those kinds of comments when you know “it’s not worthwhile” and your view is that the recipients “can come and defend themselves if they wish”.

    I also have no doubt that when you actually say that you agree with something they say, you are not pretending to agree. I suggested that they may think that you were “pretending” all along should you ever seriously challenge their beliefs, as they did with Muller.

  480. JasonB says:

    Richard:

    But Andrew plays a political game, and he’s said so himself. It’s up to the person he’s up against to counter him.

    Is that really fair on the scientist pitted against him? Should the scientist be challenged by someone who actually understands the science and can ask meaningful questions so the public ends up better informed at the end of the discussion, or should he be challenged by someone who is playing a political game and either knows that what he says is not true or isn’t qualified to be pontificating on the issue?

    As I mentioned earlier, it’s all very well and good for a journalist to ask a question that’s on the general public’s mind and have the answer explained; but I don’t think it’s a good way to lead to an informed debate on policy when you have someone flat out denying the very existence of evidence for man-made influence or that we’ve had any warming for the last two decades, as a way of advancing the political position that we shouldn’t do anything about AGW, being treated on an equal basis as the actual expert by virtue of the fact that they’ve been invited onto the program by the BBC to be interviewed alongside the actual expert.

    Worse than that, several times he talked over the quietly-spoken scientist and, at the end, the interviewer didn’t allow the scientist to respond to his final comments.

    Would an uninformed listener have a better grasp of the science following that interview than before?

    If we start censoring people just because they say silly things in the company of someone who is perfectly qualified to point out where they are being silly, that worries me.

    I think there’s a whole continuum of possibilities between “censoring people” and “inviting them to participate in a debate with an actual expert on the national broadcaster”. Mischaracterising the objections raised in the OP do not help further the discussion, in my view.

  481. Tom Curtis says:

    Richard Betts says:

    “But Andrew plays a political game, and he’s said so himself. It’s up to the person he’s up against to counter him.”

    He further attests to his experience in the public communication of science; so if anybody is up to his strategy of countering the misinformation it should be him. Never-the-less, this is what you hear on the show (22:30 forward; transcript cleaned up to eliminate stutters, an minor interjections):

    Montford:”Ok, [the climate models] may agree with each other, but they don’t agree with what is happening in the real world, and this is the point, that the world should be warming at naught point two degrees per decade, and we haven’t had any warming at all for the last two decades.”
    Betts: “Well …”
    Montford: “You could argue that that’s just natural variation, and warming will pick up again later, but at the moment it looks extremely unlikely that that is the case. I mean if it is natural variation, maybe the warming we saw at the end of the last century was just natural variation as well.:
    Betts: “Well, it’s important to remember, or course, as well, that the last decade has been the hottest in human history despite what has been called a ‘pause’ in the warming. If I …”
    Montford: “It’s plateaued. It’s plateaued at the top. But that’s fine. We agree on that.”
    Betts: “Yeah, yeah, but, I mean, it’s untrue that climate models don’t simulate occasional pauses in the warming. If you attempt a simulation of the twentieth century climate using an individual climate model it will stall for a few years at a time, but then it will get back to the increases …”
    Montford: “Yeah, I mean, there was quite a prominent climatologist, Hans Von Storch, who said at the end of last year that the kind of pause in warming that we have had appears in less than two percent of climate model runs, so it is extremely unlikely. I mean, normally once you get below five percent the statisticians say its disproven …”
    Nolan: “OK, we’re going to have to leave it there, but thank you very much indeed …”

    So, Monford has asserted that:
    1) Climate models don’t agree with what has happened in the real world;
    2) There has not been any warming at all for two decades;
    3) Temperatures have plateaued at the top;
    4) Betts and he agree that temperatures have plateaued at the top;
    5) That pauses such as we have had only occur in 2% of model runs; and
    6) From a statistical point of view, that amounts to a disproof of global warming.

    In response Betts has manage to rebut (1) only by asserting that they occasionally happen in individual model runs, but only for “a few years” (compared to the purported two decades of the purported plateau). He has also managed to agree that temperatures have plateaued at the top, and thereby implicitly agree that there has been no warming for two decades.

    This, I am sure, is not due to lack of knowledge by Betts. I certainly do not think he agrees that there has been no warming for twenty years, or that temperatures have plateaued at the top, rather than plateaued on the way up (which is an entirely different concept). I’m not sure given time to reflect he would even call it a plateau, which is not the sort of language your normally use for a part of the slope barely differing from the average slope different (over the full twentieth century record), and only half of the steepest section of the slope.

    If I was scoring this as a competition, Montford would get 6.5 points, and Betts, 0.5, ie, half each on point (1), but with a bonus point to Montford for Bett’s own goal on point (3).

    I also do not think it was due to incompetence in communication. He simply faced a well excecuted Gish gallop. It took more time than he had to rebut any given point, and Montford made sure he piled them on. Further, Montford increased his advantage by clever manipulation of time. Strategic interjections ensured that Betts only got time enough to make points he had an immediate counter for, or to take advantage of Betts’ unfortunate habit of starting each thought by saying, “yeah”, to maneuver an apparent agreement. I especially enjoyed the mastery in the repeated stuttering of “its” in his final sentence to ensure all time was used up so that Betts had no time to counter his final, and strongest point.

    The point if this is that if Betts, with his avowed experience, cannot carry out his own strategy, how can he recommend it as a general strategy? IMO, he needs to stop talking about creationism (which he obviously knows little about) and actually start talking to scientists involved in the creation wars about how to effectively communicate science when it is under political attack by people who are prepared to use irrationality as a weapon.

  482. Rachel says:

    I’m a little bit confused by your comment, Tom. The BBC interview is between Andrew Montford and Paul Williams (i.e. not Richard Betts). But I agree with your point scoring and would have given about as dismal a score to Williams as you have done.

  483. Tom Curtis says:

    Sorry, My mistake. And apologies to Richard Betts. Clearly my comments about his not being able to implement his own strategy are not appropriate, although I would certainly like his description of how he would have done better on the spot.

  484. badgersouth says:

    andthentheresphysics: Have you communicated the concerns you raised about the subject BBC interview to anyone in the BBC?

  485. badgersouth says:

    To those commenters who share ATTP’s concerns about the subject BBC interview communicated those concerns to anyone at the BBC?

  486. badgersouth says:

    To those commenters who share ATTP’s concerns about the subject BBC interview, have you communicated those concerns to anyone at the BBC?

  487. badgersouth says:

    To those commenters who have critiqued Paul Williams performance in the BBC interview, have you communicated your constructive criticism to him?

  488. JasonB says:

    badgersouth:

    I don’t think what happened was Paul Williams’ fault and I think very few genuine scientists could have done much better when subjected to that. If he had tried to respond in kind, making the kind of forceful statements that Montford did, no doubt he would have been derided by the “skeptics” for hiding the uncertainty in his answers as they spent years going over every part of his statement. If he had tried to talk over the top of Montford, he would have been accused of arrogance and trying to censor the “skeptic”. So instead he simply tries his best to provide a balanced view.

    The point is that this isn’t the best way to inform the public, and it’s about time that institutions that are supposed to be informing the public came to realise that.

    My view is that if we’re going to spend taxpayers money on researching these things, then I bloody well want to hear what it is that they found. I don’t want to hear someone willing to play fast and loose with the truth badger them into submission with rhetorical tricks.

  489. Richard Betts,

    I’ve been trying to avoid using this cliche, but my point here is that I disagree with what Andrew Montford says, but I defend his right to say it.

    Indeed, and I agree with this in principle. As others have pointed out there’s the issue of whether or not it’s fair to put a scientist up against someone who is playing politics. Additionally, the BBC (and parliamentary select committees, for example) are not obliged to invite someone to present their views simply because that person feels that they have the right. So, I too would defend his right to say what he wants while at the same time criticising the BBC for inviting him. I don’t see anything inconsistent in that approach. I think I’ve been consistent in this (but it’s hard to remember with all the comments). I’m certainly not criticising Andrew Montford here. If he gets invited to present his views somewhere, he’s quite entitled to accept. My criticisim is only that the BBC invited him to talk about something when, arguably, they could easily have invited someone who was much more of an expert.

  490. JasonB says:

    One of the funniest things about Montford’s claim “we haven’t had any warming at all for the last two decades” and that “It’s plateaued at the top” is that it’s not just playing on uncertainties (like saying “the warming hasn’t been statistically significant”), it’s actually excluded as a hypothesis by the global surface temperature reconstructions. According to the SkS Trend Calculator, the trends since 1994 are:

    GISTEMP: 0.127 ±0.097 °C/decade
    NOAA: 0.107 ±0.092 °C/decade
    HADCRUT4: 0.112 ±0.094 °C/decade

    Not one of them can exclude the hypothesis that the warming rate of the two decades prior of about 0.16 °C/decade has continued on unabated, while every single one of them rejects the hypothesis that there has been no warming since 1994 at the 2σ level. Indeed, all three of them get almost exactly the same trend from 1974-2014 as they do from 1974-1994, and I don’t just mean the ranges overlap — the trends themselves are almost identical (to three decimal places in the GISTEMP case).

    Perhaps he mis-spoke and he meant to say 1998 instead (somewhat reducing the rhetorical impact of the phrase “two decades”). In that case neither hypothesis can be excluded if we ignore the fact that 1998 is deliberately chosen as a starting point because it was an outlier.

    But it would be strange to highlight the fact that it cannot exclude the hypothesis of no warming when that’s purely because the time span is too short for it to do so, while ignoring the fact that as soon as the time span is lengthened to reduce the uncertainties, it’s the “no warming” hypothesis that’s excluded, not the “warming as usual” hypothesis.

    I think Tamino’s recent post along these lines is worth thinking about for those who think Montford had a point, although the result shouldn’t really have been a “surprise” to anybody.

  491. @Rachel
    People aren’t dumb just because they disagree with you.

    I like this blog because it so clearly and vividly displays all the things that are wrong with contemporary environmentalism:
    1. Playing hard and loose with facts.
    2. Confusing differences in values with differences in facts.
    3. Intolerance.

  492. @RichardTol,
    That must be one of the most ironic comments I’ve seen in a long time. I blocked you on Twitter because of your infantile behaviour. Maybe I should ban you here for the same reason? I know there are people who regard you as someone worth have discussions with. Maybe you could put some effort into proving them right rather than making me wonder how they could possibly think that.

  493. Rachel says:

    Richard Tol,

    People aren’t dumb just because they disagree with you.

    I did not say that and I definitely do not think that. In fact, I would say that Andrew Montford is a good deal more intelligent than I am.

    Perhaps I should rephrase my question to you. How does your assessment of Montford as a “well-informed layperson” fit with him saying “there is no evidence of man-made influence [on the climate]“? Because this is not something I would expect someone who is well-informed about climate change to think.

  494. @Wotts
    Do ban me to demonstrate your tolerance.

  495. BBD says:

    Since you are here, Richard, and making contentious remarks about “environmentalism”, could you confirm that you are on the advisory board (or similar function) for De Groene Rekenkamer?

    Thanks

  496. @Rachel
    Montford makes two points. (1) Statistically, the jury is still out. I think that is a bit of a stretch (but I’m biased, given that I was one of the first to publish statistical evidence) but he has a point in that the debate has continued to this day (cf. Perron v Watson, Beenstock v Hendry). (2) The other main line of evidence use models that are at the point of invalidation.

    I would have added data quality.

    While I disagree with Montford’s interpretation, I have no reason to revise my opinion about him being both well-informed and intelligent.

  497. @BBD
    I am indeed. Do you think they would lie about that?

  498. BBD says:

    @ Richard

    Not at all, but since I cannot find a list published by DGR itself stating who is on its advisory board I preferred to check personally with you. Thanks for your response.

  499. @Tom Curtis February 6, 2014 at 4:12 am

    I would certainly like his description of how he would have done better on the spot.

    Please re-read my comment above at February 4, 2014 at 5:26 pm:

    Without in any way wishing to criticise Paul – I know from experience that it’s really, really hard to think on your feet on live radio or TV – I did think he missed a couple of chances to really put Andrew right. e.g. when Andrew mentioned clouds, Paul could have cited the recent Sherwood et al paper which uses observations and reanalyses to constrain cloud feedbacks and climate sensitivity. But that’s easy for me to say from a comfortable position several days later, so as I say, I’m not criticising.

    You will see that from the comfort of my office, having had time to reflect, I could think of things that could have been said, but I don’t necessarily think I would have done better at the time because these situations are very hard. Having said that, Paul did do quite a good job, and kudos to him for going on the radio against someone who he knew would take that approach. Paul, if you are reading this, well done!

    Oh and while we’re here, you (Tom) said at February 4, 2014 at 2:18 pm:

    There is no point pretending you can have a conversation with people who so willfully mispresent what others are saying!

    The same, I might add, may well be the most appropriate response to Richard Betts (northern Ireland reference).

    I didn’t misrepresent anybody, and I made the N Irelend reference because Ian Forrester had made a WWII reference (and you agreed with him). I don’t see why my Ian’s historical analogy is OK but mine isn’t.

  500. @RichardTol,
    I’m disappointed. I thought you could be subtler than this. Aren’t you meant to push my buttons so much that I’m eventually forced to ban you and then you run off to your anonymous friends on Twitter and complain about intolerance and censorship. You’re not meant to make it obvious that that is your intent. 🙂

    I grant that your later comment is much more in line with what I’d expect from someone who is worth having discussions with. So, if you really are putting some effort in, then I thank you. I would argue, however, that the consequences of the surface temperatures falling outside the 95% confidence interval of the models is not quite as simple as you seem to be implying. I don’t think the modellers would regard the 95% confidence boundary as a pass/fail boundary. Maybe you should have a chat with Doug MacNeall about the significance of such an occurrence. Additionally, these models are actually projections, not predictions, and so it’s not obvious that such a test makes sense, given this. I will grant you, however, that there is a suggestion that the models are indeed running too hot, so I’m certainly not suggesting that there aren’t any problems with the models. I’m simply suggesting that a simple pass/fail test isn’t adequate.

    While I disagree with Montford’s interpretation, I have no reason to revise my opinion about him being both well-informed and intelligent.

    I think you’re the only person who’s implied anything with respect to how well-informed or intelligent Montford is. I’ve seen little to suggest that he understands the complexities of complex science, but that doesn’t imply that he’s not intelligent or well-informed in general. I’ll take your word for it that he is indeed well-informed and intelligent. Nothing I’ve seen to suggest otherwise, to be honest.

  501. @ATTP

    I guess a key question is, if the BBC want to have a discussion between a climate scientist and someone who will challenge them on climate models and the evidence for climate change, who would be the best person for the second role, and what are the criteria for deciding this?

    Nic Lewis? (non-scientist, published a couple of peer-reviewed papers on climate, but not on climate models)
    Jonathan Jones? (professor of physics, but not a climate scientist)
    Lenny Smith? (scientist, extensively published on climate science but highly critical of models, and sometime co-author with Nick Stern)

    Other suggestions and reasoning?

  502. Richard Betts,
    That’s an interesting question, and I don’t have a good answer. The three you mention may be okay but I have issues with all three but no actual evidence to suggest that they wouldn’t do a perfectly good job.

    Let me put a slightly different question to you. Why would we benefit from such an exchange? In any other field, the media would typically not decide to have a debate about the scientific conclusions/details. Maybe there are examples where they do this, but I can’t really think of any. Scientist will come onto TV and radio shows and be interviewed. My sense of why people think that climate modellers should be debated in the media (for example) is because of some apparent lack of trust. We can’t trust them to present it honestly by themselves (or, maybe, more correctly there is a concern about this).

    Personally I think this is wrong. I have no reason to think that a typical, experienced climate modeller wouldn’t present a perfectly balanced picture of what the models are indicating and their strengths and weaknesses. So the issue I have with the debate format is that it allows the media to suggest that they’ve provided balance (when I think they probably haven’t) and it gives those who are “skeptical” a chance to publicly make it appear that there are bigger issues with the climate models than maybe there actually are.

    I’ve kind of lost track of what my question was but, it’s something like : do you really think the public would benefit from such a debate (i.e., would the debate be something that would actually provide a realistic and honest representation of our understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of climate models)?

    I’ll add something more though. When I wrote this post, I did not perceive this interview as a debate. I perceived it as an interviewer (Stephen Dolan) with two guests who were to talk about climate sclence/climate models. My impression is that a typical listener would have seen it the same way. An interview with two experts, one of whom happened to be a blogger. If it had been presented more explicitly as a debate between two sides, one of whom has a tendency (as you said yourself) to play politics, I may have been less critical. I still don’t think it’s a good format if the goal is to present a balanced picture of something as complex as climate modelling, but at least it would have been more explicit.

  503. Louise says:

    Would we think it acceptable to have an Intelligent Design commentator every time genetic science is reported?

  504. Barry Woods says:

    Good people for the BBC?

    Ask Prof J Jones – why he FOI’d CRU (and won)
    Dr Don Keiller (he did the same as J JOnes, and took it further)

    Reader of mathematics – Paul Matthews. has been very critical of IPCC maths (started with IPCC AR4 ‘accelerated’ warming graph)
    https://sites.google.com/site/globalwarmingquestions/howtheipccinventedanewcalculus
    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2012/3/23/accelerating-global-warming.html

    he has submitted a number of times to parliament, and has now started his own blog
    https://ipccreport.wordpress.com/2013/11/20/the-skillful-predictions-of-climate-science/
    https://ipccreport.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/submissions-to-government-ipcc-inquiry/

    Dr Ruth Dixon, an academic blogger (and Jonathans wife)
    and has also submitted to parliament
    http://mygardenpond.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/the-oceans-are-not-more-acidic-now-than-in-the-past-300-million-years/
    or some other people who submitted to Parliament (links to Ruth’s here, and others)
    https://ipccreport.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/review-of-submissions-to-ipcc-inquiry/

  505. Tom Curtis says:

    Richard Bets:

    “You will see that from the comfort of my office, having had time to reflect, I could think of things that could have been said, but I don’t necessarily think I would have done better at the time because these situations are very hard. Having said that, Paul did do quite a good job, and kudos to him for going on the radio against someone who he knew would take that approach. Paul, if you are reading this, well done!”

    Thank you for this admission. I in fact agree with you that it would have been very hard to do better than Paul Williams, except in hindsight. But that is the point. Your strategy depends on scientists doing better than Williams in fact did – but by your own admission,it is unreasonable to expect that in the circumstances. A general communication strategy that relies on repeatedly placing people into situations where they must follow a tactic it is unreasonable to expect them to succeed at is not a sensible strategy. Rather, it is a recipe for failure.

    So, yes. Kudos for Williams for trying, but isn’t it time to take stock and recognize that the primary effect of this try was to give Montford unwarranted stature by appearing to have the better of a debate with a climate scientist; and to further propagate some denier myths by not only misstating facts, but having those misstatements, not only unrebutted, but in one instance apparently confirmed by the climate scientist.

  506. Tom Curtis says:

    Richard Betts:

    “I guess a key question is, if the BBC want to have a discussion between a climate scientist and someone who will challenge them on climate models and the evidence for climate change, who would be the best person for the second role, and what are the criteria for deciding this?”

    The criteria are simple – they must be a climate scientist with extensive experience with climate modelling, and they must not have made statements that clearly indicate they are no approaching the issue rationally (such as those by Dick Lindzen here).

    An obvious example in this case would have been Hans von Storch.

    Of course, if the BBC cannot find somebody who is both truly expert in the field, and willing to challenge the consensus position (ie, the statement which attracts least disagreement from all relevant experts); then a challenge to that consensus is not a legitimate story, nor a legitimate basis for criticizing various policies.

  507. Barry,

    All I would say with respect to the people who you mention, is that I’d love to hear them interviewed and for them to be challenged on their views. I certainly don’t see them as some select group who would be the ideal people to be debating other climate scientists.

    Of course, sadly maybe, few – if any of them – are actually talking to me anymore. Maybe they fall into the category of those I mentioned on my most recent post as being those that I’ve annoyed 🙂 . Of course, I don’t feel that they’re obliged to talk to me, it would just be interesting to have a better understanding of their views and why they hold them.

  508. Barry Woods says:

    Jonathan was invited by Tamsin to be on a panel debate with her at the Cheltenham sci festival, and I thought they were both very good communicators. Ruth would be good too, issues came across, not personalities, etc.

    Having worked with teams of computer programmers on major projects, it is usually very beneficial to have someone with expertise, (but outside that particular group ) discuss and perhaps challenge group pre-conceptions.

  509. BBD says:

    All I would say with respect to the people who you mention, is that I’d love to hear them interviewed and for them to be challenged on their views.

    I’d certainly like to see Ruth Dixon in a room with a marine biologist. Perhaps they could help her understand that – as she writes – the rate of pH change not (yet) the absolute pH change is the problem.

    Everywhere you look at “sceptic” discourse you see the same fundamental misconceptions and general wrongness.

  510. andrew adams says:

    Yeah, I’m with Tom – I don’t see why a discussion on the merits and limits of climate models has to be framed in the way Richard suggests. I don’t pretend to be any kind of expert on climate modelling myself but most pieces I’ve read by people actively involved in the field have been perfectly open and honest about the limitations and difficulties involved. Get a couple of scientists with slightly different backgrounds, perspectives etc. and an interviewer who is reasonably well briefed and you should get a perfectly good and informative discussion. FWIW my “dream team” would be Gavin Schmidt and Tamsin Edwards.

  511. BBD says:

    andrew adams

    Get a couple of scientists with slightly different backgrounds, perspectives etc.

    I said this about a thousand comments upthread. It was ignored.

    I also said that libertarian ideologues had no place being interviewed on climate modelling and the BBC was culpable in this respect. That was largely ignored too.

    Frankly this thread has been more mystifying than enlightening. Too much talk and not enough clarity.

  512. JasonB says:

    I guess a key question is, if the BBC want to have a discussion between a climate scientist and someone who will challenge them on climate models and the evidence for climate change, who would be the best person for the second role, and what are the criteria for deciding this?

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to have someone challenge them with facts?

    Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but I think that if there is something actually wrong with the models, then that should be highlighted. Instead we have someone making claims that simply aren’t true, speaking over the scientist trying to respond to those claims, and playing rhetorical games to completely misconstrue the scientist’s actual view. Williams got verballed.

    If there are real problems with the models then we’re still none the wiser. The “skeptical” community should be just as annoyed that the opportunity was wasted to highlight any real problems.

  513. Steve Bloom says:

    Jim Hansen. By himself.

  514. “I’m eventually forced to ban you and then you run off to your anonymous friends on Twitter and complain about intolerance and censorship.”

    physicsboy, you give yourself too much credit. The ‘complaints’ are not about your intolerance or censorship but about your cowardice. If you had guts, you would write blog posts with your own, original material and build your own audience. 90% of your posts are evidence-free opinion linking to other blogs which carry audiences whose comments you and your aide proceed to butcher.

  515. Shub, I see. Okay, thanks for clarifying. I might suggest reading a bit more of what I write, but since I don’t really care what you think of me or the blog, I wouldn’t put too much effort in.

  516. Just in case it’s not obvious, everyone should probably just ignore Shub. The irony of “hey, you’re a coward and an idiot” followed by “hey, why did you moderate my comment?” is lost on him/her.

  517. Barry Woods says:

    BBD – yes – would like to see a PhD chemist educated (Ruth) discuss ocean acidification with a marine biologist – as it might be enlighteneing and they might both learn something, and I;’m sure they would both be very polite..

    more to the point of the linked above article, she corrected Fiona Harvey’s mistakes in the Guardian (so we have an academic, successfully and constructively engaging with the media, a good thing, like here
    http://mygardenpond.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/the-power-of-a-tweet-two-examples/

  518. BBD says:

    Well, according to the sources, Shub Niggurath does inhabit an alternative universe…

  519. BBD says:

    The point, Barry, is that it is the rate of pH change that presents the challenge to marine ecosystems. Ruth’s correction of someone else’s journalism has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual point. Please try to understand the nuance between relevance and irrelevance here.

  520. Barry,
    I largely agree with BBD. If I remember correctly, the title of the Guardian article was wrong and was quite rightly corrected. Was it good of Ruth Dixon to do so. Absolutely, let’s try to get things right. Was it a big deal and did the article actually present anything that was misleading. No, I don’t think so. It was a mistake that was corrected and as BBD is saying, ocean acidification may be one of the biggest threats that we face in the coming decades. An error in a newspaper articles title doesn’t change that.

  521. johnrussell40 says:

    To try and look at the original question dispassionately, it might be helpful to look at the problem as follows.

    Broadcasters have news stories they have to cover and the conventional approach, because the subject is more often than not political, is to have two people or more to cover the range of views. So person/s A says the answer is Black and person/s B says the answer is White. They’re accomplished debaters and give as good as they get; and the audience gets to choose whether they side with supporters of Black or White.

    So now we look at the subject of our changing climate. The broadcasters are usually no more than lay people in terms of their knowledge and interest in this subject so, lacking any overall editorial policy or guidance from above, they find someone to cover the subject area. Then, because the convention is to have a second person with different views to ‘provide balance’/’create debate’ (which out of context I think we’d all agree are good things), they cast around and a researcher digs up someone who speaks well and has ‘lively’ and opposing views. Let the debate commence.

    The scientist says the computer models project that the answer is not likely to be White nor is it likely to be Black, but is probably a shade of Grey. The ‘I’m not a scientist, but…’ (INAS,B) says, “no the models are wrong, the answer is definitely White”. The scientist says “well, White is not at all likely. It is possible it could be a light shade of Grey, but the models point to it being a darker shade…” INAS,B says, “No definitely White. There’s no evidence. You must agree there are very large uncertainties…, etc.” The scientist responds, “well, agreed, there are uncertainties, though…” and so on. I’m sure everyone here can fill in the rest.

    So how does this look to the viewer used to siding with the proponents of either Black or White but who knows nothing about this particular subject? The chances are they end up siding with INAS,B because 1) he was so sure of himself; 2) because he had sciency sounding answers for everything; and 3) because the scientist lacked conviction.

    Coming back to the thread. The question is not just who is the right person to put on to provide a good foil for our scientist’s views. The question is how do we make sure broadcasters decide intelligently about who to invite on as studio guests in such discussions. Believe me when I say they are probably as disappointed as we are that the debate ends up one-sided. The problem is that at the moment broadcasters are clueless. At the very least, on matters science, where we’re talking about just what the science is saying, the only legitimate participants are scientists. When it comes to policy discussions it’s another matter. Any climate policy discussion has to start with an agreed position on the science, otherwise any television or radio debate with a limited time slot is bound to turn out as a shambles.

  522. johnrussell40 says:

    About wrong titles on Guardian articles. The Guardian have a history of doing this. Let’s be clear what happens. A contributor writes an article and submits it. A sub-editor glances through the article and comes up with a snappy headline. Article is published. If the headline doesn’t reflect what’s in the article someone complains and if you can get to the right person they’ll look at it and change it. My experience is that sometimes the author of the article knows the headline is wrong but rather than complain themselves, they just shrug their shoulders, saying “huh, newspapers”.

    I’ve been through the situation of having someone else’s Guardian climate article’s headline changed, so it’s been confirmed that what I’ve just written is correct.

  523. andrew adams says:

    BBD,

    Yeah, I’m sure I’ve made the same points previously in the thread myself without any response. Probably because most seem to agree on these points, which makes me wonder quite how this discussion has gone on for 500+ comments 😉

  524. Jeff Harvey says:

    Richard writes some utter tosh: “I like this blog because it so clearly and vividly displays all the things that are wrong with contemporary environmentalism:
    1. Playing hard and loose with facts.
    2. Confusing differences in values with differences in facts.
    3. Intolerance”

    Talk about pot calling the kettle black. What about contemporary anti-environmentalism Richard? The way in which the anti-environmental lobby distorts and mangles science to promote a pre-determined worldview is miles worse than anything the environmental lobby does. And to top that off, many of the anti-environmental organizations receive a lot of funding from think tanks and corporations. Environmental groups for the most part rely on public funding. Andrew Rowell wrote about this in Green Backlash; Sharon Beder also covered it well in Global Spin.

  525. andrew adams says:

    It’s pretty standard for headlines to be written by sub-editors, not the author of the article. It’s not just the Guardian. So “headline doesn’t properly reflect the content of the actual story” is hardly news. It’s fine that the Guardian corrected it but it doesn’t make Ruth Dixon some kind of crusader for accurate science reporting.

  526. This Guardian article may well put put what we’re discussing here into the correct perspective.

  527. Jeff Harvey, still with the poor quality of argument I see. Your points about funding about environmental groups and other think tanks has nothing to do with the quality of argument environmental groups make. Ironically enough, where they do have connection, it comes to supporting their favored policies through exaggeration, and intolerance of dissent in an attempt to project a water-tight ‘science is settled’ image. More people would listen to Greenpeace if they were not being stooges of Netherlands and/or other interests and making fools of themselves clambering on to oil platforms and destroying experimental crops.

    [Mod : I’ll let this one through, but it’s very close to being uncivil and it’s full of assertions stated as fact, rather than opinion. I don’t want this thread de-railed, so you’ve had a chance to express something, if it carries on in this way, I’ll just starting moderating/deleting more heavily.]

  528. Joshua says:

    It’s quite amazing how difficult it is to keep things civil.

  529. Joshua,
    It is, and I’m also falling into the trap of allowing those who complain about my moderation to comment, rather than simply deleting their comments, which would not only be justified but probably quite wise. Maybe people could bear that in mind if they choose to respond to certain comments. Some comments speak volumes by themselves and don’t always need a response, in my opinion at least.

  530. Joshua says:

    Richard Betts –

    Above, we exchanged some posts about what Montford said. I said that his argument was not logically consistent with the acceptance of the GHE of ACO2. You offered that I misquoted him, and I pointed out where he said exactly what I said he said.

    I realize that you got caught up with others, but I am hoping you might go back to this point.

    Montford said that there hasn’t been any warming at all for the last two decades. Such an argument dismisses any warming that might be evident in the measurements of GATs (disputes about those measurement notwithstanding). But it also dismisses, as a statement of certain fact, any warming that might have occurred in the oceans. It ignores evidence such as melting ice and rising sea levels.

    In point of fact, if someone accepts that there is a GHE from ACO2, then if we add ACO2 to the atmosphere, there must be warming (even if it might be less in magnitude than the scale of natural variability during that period).

    I am harping on this because “skeptics” often contend that they are being misrpresented as presenting more extreme arguments than what they really present. They often claim that it is misleading to say that they “deny” the GHE of ACO2, and that in reality they are only arguing about the magnitude of those effects.

    And you, essentially, discussed the veracity of Montford’s interview based on centering around that point. I don’t think that you should have to “defend” anything that Montford said – but I do think that it is worthwhile to point it out and hold him accountable for making arguments that are logically inconsistent with his stated beliefs.

    So, I am going to ask you again. Don’t you think that Montford should be held accountable for the logical inconsistency in his argument?

  531. badgersouth says:

    Joshua: Out of curiosity, how do you propose to hold Montford accountable for the logical inconsistency in his argument?

  532. Barry Woods says:

    ref the media – but it can be a bit more about just getting the headline wrong..

    I mentioned the Times Atlas Greenland ice loss story earlier,
    which scientist helped correct (via crysosphere and B Hill)

    John Vidal had written an article, with headline, ‘New Atlas shows extent of climate change’
    stating that Greenland had lost 15% of ice in the last 10 years..
    A simple sanity check, would have made him think, hang on, we know if Greenland melted we would have 7 metres of sea level rise, if 15% had melted 10 years, that’s 1 Metre….!

    Vidal is the Guardian’s environment editor! – not a jobbing ill-informed hack….one might ask in his enthusiasm to get a climate message out, where was his – dare I say it journalistic scepticism?

    Myself, Andrew Montford and R Betts had quite a time, on twitter with Leo Hickman trying to get the Guardian to take it seriously (he initially said, just contact Reader editor)
    Richard added a comment at B Hill:

    Richard Betts (at the time)

    “I’m not happy. I wrote the climate change section for this Atlas and didn’t say any of that Greenland rubbish!

    I have contacted the editors.”

    Vidal is the Guardian’s environment editor! – not a jobbing ill-informed hack….one might ask in perhaps his enthusiasm to get a ‘climate message’ out?, where was his -dare I say it journalistic scepticism?

    He seems to have merely churnalised a press release.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14969399
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/09/19/atlasgate-deepens-nsidc-rebuts-being-a-specific-source-of-the-times-atlas-15-greenland-ice-loss-claim/
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/09/17/complaints-over-false-info-in-new-times-world-atlas-grow/

    if recall the real figure was betweet 0.05-0.1% loss over that period (but Tamsin is the best person (Ice2sea project) to ask, she also brought it to the attention of Bishop Hill)

    This is what the scientist said about the Guardian:

    “Dear Cryolisters, especially media people ‘listening’ in: No doubt this ‘news’ story and Atlas are going to be repeated far any wide. THIS IS NOT WHAT IS HAPPENING. THIS IS NOT SCIENCE. THIS IS NOT WHAT SCIENTISTS ARE SAYING. Greenland specialists, people like Michele Cittero, Peter Ahlstrom, Leigh Stearns, Gordon Hamilton, Waleed Abdalati and many more have documented what actually IS happening in Greenland, and it involves some incredibly rapid changes, mainly increasing melting, thinning, and retreat; and slight thickening in some sectors, but overall Greenland is a story of massive, rapid retreat. Special dynamics are at play, and probably climate warming as well.

    However, this Guardian story is ridiculously off base, way exaggerated relative to the reality of rapid change in Greenland. I don’t know how exactly the Times Atlas produced their results, but they are NOT scientific results.

    Therefore, media be warned: play on this story at your own serious risk of losing credibility. I am certain that the scientists mentioned above, and many others,will respond with actual data, throughly peer-reviewed publications, and lots of data to show what is happening.It is a dramatic story, many dramatic stories. But don’t believe this Guardian article.

    Sorry, Guardian. I used to just grin and bear it when things like this happen.

    But the IPCC fiasco and the whole’sad chain leading up to it, where media played on media and NGO’s played on each other, without actual science in the loop, leads me to believe that there is no such thing as being too critical with the media.

    This Greenland story is not science; did I say that already? OK, now somebody can figure out where the new brown or the loss of old white came from. Not from proper treatment of data, that’s for sure. Thanks to Jim Torson and Graham Cogley for bringing this new ‘news’ to my attention.

    It is a crisis of misinformation only if the media or politicians fail to consult with scientists.” – Cryosphere

    The scientist’s comment on the IPCC, media and NGO’s are worth reflecting on even now , I think. plus, it seems to have happened a lot (bad science in the media – see ‘grin and bear it’)

    Why?
    Ben Webster of the Times, has said (on at least 2 occasions) too many environmental journalist are’ sleeping with the environmentalist’

  533. BBD says:

    badgersouth

    Perhaps it is more feasible (as you suggest upthread) to make the editor responsible for the decision to interview AM accountable for the error of his or her ways. Joshua’s highly cogent question to Richard Betts would be part of that process – but it does require an answer for even-handed treatment to be assured.

  534. BBD says:

    Another bomb from Barry. Ho-hum.

  535. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    I think that “banning” in blogs is a fascinating issue. It tells us quite a bit about the nature of how people communicate – particularly when there are basic difference of opinion that overlap with cultural, political, and social identity groups.

    Personally, I think that banning is only called for in the most extreme of situations. Comments like those from Shub or Richard Tol above will affect no one’s opinion of you. People will read those comments and file them away based on their previous take on the character of Shub’s comments, and Richards’s comments, and your comments. They have no actual effect, other than they might annoy you and give them some rather bizarre sense of satisfaction.

    But on the other hand, it’s your blog. You have the hammer. The notion of “censorship” is ridiculous. Shub and Richard can say whatever they want. If you don’t allow them to say it on your blog, it is essentially like you telling them that you don’t want them to enter your house and insult you and your family. No one would call that censorship, and no one would say that it is “unfair,” or an indication of your intolerance.

    Don’t let Richard Tol bait you. Don’t let Shub bait you. Personally, I’d say let them post comments and ask people not to respond. If people do respond, who cares? IMO, the complaints about having to read those comments are silly, also. Anyone who finds their comments annoying can just scroll right on past them. There is a bit of an issue – since there is no nesting here – where a convo that person A is having with person B can kind of get buried under juvenile posturing, but anyone seriously interested in maintaining a convo can do so (and nesting has it’s own set of problems).

    This kind of stuff happens on every blog. There is no solution because it is an intrinsic attribute of the format. But I will say that banning someone is not a sign of intolerance, and it is not a statement on whether you are civil or not. I have been watching what goes on here, and I am quite certain that neither is the case. You are dealing with an intractable dynamic, for which there is no solution. It is part of the experience of running a blog. You can’t have the one w/o the other.

    Sorry for the rant.

  536. badgersouth says:

    I suspect that Montford went to the BBC interview with a set of well rehearsed talking points and hammered those home during the interview. Paul Williams, on the other hand, went to the interview expecting to engage in a civil discourse. Perhaps it is time for Paul Williams, and other climate scientists to be trained on how to effectively communicate the science in a radio and television “interview” environment.

  537. O Bothe says:

    Any climate policy discussion has to start with an agreed position on the science

    If that refers to “discussion in society” then good luck with any debate occurring.

    If that refers to a panel (TV, radio, public) then I generally agree but would modify it that it has to start from an “what if the position X is correct”. Where X may stand for IPCC central estimate or catastrophic or lukewarm (let’s say IPCC low estimate). However, the preferred X would be the full range of IPCC estimates. (Still six weeks until WG2-SPM.)

  538. O Bothe says:

    Apropos:
    Re: Tol’s 3 points: I agree with the general thrust of them. Just to have said it. I’m aware that may derail this thread once more and I’m sorry, so you’re encouraged to ignore this post.

  539. Barry,
    Sure, I wasn’t suggesting that it’s always only the headline. I was suggesting that in the case of the Ocean acidification, it was mainly the headline. The problem with where this discussion is going is that we can all find examples where the media have got it wrong. I can point to articles by David Rose and Matt Ridley. You can point to articles John Vidal and others. I certainly don’t dispute that the media often get things wrong. Something that you accept as a scientist who engages with the media, is that the media will almost certainly get something wrong. Sometimes you correct them (as I’ve done myself) sometimes you go “well, close enough. The could have explained it better, but the issue is in the details”. So, I think it is good to correct outrageous errors. I don’t, however, think it necessarily means anything.

    The error in an article about ocean acidification doesn’t mean ocean acidification isn’t likely to be a problem in the coming decades. An error in an article about Greenland ice loss doesn’t mean that Greenland ice loss isn’t an indicator of global warming and that it won’t lead to rising sea levels in the coming decades. Of course, if the error makes something seem much more alarming than it actually is, then it should be corrected. Similarly, if an article makes it appear that there is no cause for alarm, it should also be corrected.

    The point I’m making is that striving for a media that correctly presents the scientific evidence is an excellent thing to be working towards. That we have a media that doesn’t do a very good job (at times) doesn’t mean that the scientific evidence doesn’t exist or is wrong. It just means the media isn’t very adept at presenting science clearly and honesty (and they do sometimes, so this is a generalisation). In some sense, the goal that the media should present the science as accurately as possible is the premise of this post.

  540. Oliver,
    Just to clarify, you agree with Tol that this blog (I guess what I write) plays hard and loose with facts, confuses differences in values with differences in facts, and is intolerant?

  541. Joshua says:

    badgersouth –

    Joshua: Out of curiosity, how do you propose to hold Montford accountable for the logical inconsistency in his argument?

    Yes. Good question. It’s one I kept asking myself as I was writing those comments.

    We could try a public flogging, but I think that Shub and Tol might think that would be a sign of intolerance, so maybe that wouldn’t be a good idea. 🙂

    I think what I’m asking is for Richard Betts to acknowledge that Montford’s argument is illogical in a substantially fundamental way. He seems to have an ongoing relationship with Montford, so he could have a discussion with Montford about that fundamental logical inconsistency, and as such, it could serve a model for all “skeptics” who respect and trust Richard, but who continually put for a logically inconsistent argument w/r/t their acceptance of the basic physics of the GHE and their use of the “pause” as “proof” that the GCMs are wrong, or the degree to which the flattening-out of the slope of the GATs tell use something about the probabilities of ACO2 affecting our climate.

    I am asking Richard Betts – as someone who has gained a degree of influence in Montford’s circle, to personally hold Montford accountable in a public forum. IMO – that is the potentially meaningful outcome that might come from that radio show. It is great that Richard is liked and respected by many “skeptics” – but what advantage does that give if the respect and trust cannot be translated into the scientific discussion – in a way so that we can move on to discussing the policy implications based on a clear distinction of where there is agreement and where there is disagreement on the science.

    How could I move forward in a discussion about the science with a “skeptic” when he/she states that he/she has an opinion and then follows that with arguments that are logically inconsistent with that opinion?

  542. Joshua says:

    If that refers to a panel (TV, radio, public) then I generally agree but would modify it that it has to start from an “what if the position X is correct”.

    I agree with this. The problem is that the disputants on both sides of the debate cannot get to that point, and in fact reject out of hand the possibility of framing the discussion in that manner.

  543. Barry Woods says:

    my main point with Vidal, was not that it was wrong, but asking why he of all people, environment is his brief, didn’t spot it…. ‘motivated reasoning and ideology’ perhaps 😉 ?

    he also uncritically publicized, the GHF’s 300,000 climate change deaths a year, uncritically, which was used to drum up climate action (google 300,000 climate deaths) hugh media attention and public misinformation. (see Peilke atthe time, and Revkin – on their blogs)

    yet, the science says not based on rigorous science, (5 year’s on, not even Greenpeace or Franny Armstrong use it anymore. ) the scientists (or science as an institution) I think would be best served spending a lot more attention on the MSM than blogs.

  544. “Don’t let Richard Tol bait you. Don’t let Shub bait you. Personally, I’d say let them post comments and ask people not to respond.”

    This is not your blog. So keep your rules to yourself. Rachel and physics set the rules here. Not you.

  545. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    I take it all back. Please ban Shub for that 2:29 comment. 🙂

  546. Instead of delegitimizing your opponents, getting them off the airwaves and deleting their comments, throw your efforts into countering their arguments.

  547. Shub,
    Sure, but all blogs have moderation policies. This isn’t a public service. I have no issue with a sensible debate. I do have issue with someone who thinks it okay to come here and call me cowardly and then expect me to debate them. A little self-awareness would be appreciated.

  548. verytallguy says:

    Barry,

    – An atlas got something wrong.
    – A trust owned media outlet (the Guardian) replicated it.
    – People pointed out this was incorrect.
    – The Guardian corrected the original article
    – The Guardian posted a new article exploring the reasons for the mistake

    Now it would obviously have been better to get it right to start with, but that seems like a pretty good way to handle a mistake to me. The obvious lesson is that of media ownership.

    I suggest you take your concerns to outlets peddling uncorrected of skeptic myths owned by libertarian billionaires (Rothermere, Barclays, Murdoch etc)

    And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

  549. badgersouth says:

    andthentheresphysics: If this were my blog site, I would have a “no graffiti” ban included in the comments/moderation policy. I would also strictly enforce the ban by scrubbing any and all comments that I perceived to be graffiti.

  550. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Here’s why I don’t really favor banning.

    Shub and Richard come on here to pass judgement on your character.

    Presumably, they have never met you. They know nothing about how you live your life, about the real kinds of interactions you have with people, anything about the nature of whether you are “brave” or “cowardly” or “tolerant” or “intolerant.”

    Yet, they see fit to come on here and make those kinds of claims.

    That speaks to their reasoning. It speaks not to their ability to reason (I’m quite sure that both are much smarter than I), but to the degree to which they allow motivated reasoning to bias how they draw conclusions.

    In fact, that is information. It is information that isn’t dispositive w/r/t the quality of their reasoning on other matters – but it is information that I can use, as an observer of more technical discussions that I don’t have the brain power or technical background to judge the discussions on their technical merits.

    Perhaps rather than banning Shub or Richard – you could write a macro to hotlink those comments of theirs every time they write a comment of actual substance on a technical issue – so people can access them easily as background information.

  551. Barry Woods says:

    my suggestion is that I have far less access (ie member of public, very little), than institutions like The Met Office, to any and all media. and I would welcome a budget, for them to correct all science errors, in the media, whoever is doing it.

  552. BBD says:

    VTG

    Amen!

  553. Barry,
    I would too be happy for the met office and other climate science research organisations to have some role in educating the public about our understanding of climate science.

  554. @Jeff H
    I agree that both sides of the climate debate engage in silly and sometimes despicable behavior.

    My point was aimed at those whom I consider to be on my side of the argument (that is, those who favor climate policy). Such tactics only work to undermine the credibility of the environmental movement.

  555. Barry Woods says:

    Anders. and what better way for scientist to reach the public and educate, than getting accurate information reported in the MSM (be it Mail or Guardian)

  556. Joshua says:

    Such tactics only work to undermine the credibility of the environmental movement.

    What evidence do you use to reach that conclusion, other than your seat-of-the-pants, common sense logic?

    Those who are inclined to not give credibility to the “environmental movement” (whatever that means), will filter basically any information they have to confirm that bias.

    Those firmly ensconced on the other side of the debate, would look at the nonsense you often post, and consider that as information to strengthen their trust in the “environmental movement.” I certainly know that is the effect of your comments on me.

    There is, in fact, related evidence that could inform this discussion of how public views are influenced. Have you read it?

  557. jsam says:

    Barry – Why don’t you take care of WUWT? It is a major contributor to errors. No budget is required.

  558. johnrussell40 says:

    O Bothe; Joshua. Re: “any climate policy discussion has to start with an agreed position on the science”

    Yes, I was referring to a TV debate. I realise arriving at an agreed position on the science might not be an easy thing to achieve as a precursor to a policy debate, however that’s not the point. Unless the editors of a programme can get the participants to agree on a position then the resultant debate will be a shambles as far as discussing any policies goes. Furthermore if the resultant policy debate is to avoid being a shambles and is also to be meaningful then—to agree with O Bothe—the starting point needs to be the consensus science position from the IPCC.

    [On a different subject: it has also been my experience that bullies are always cowards. Staying civil in the face of bullying requires self-control, which in turn requires the opposite of cowardice.]

  559. guthrie says:

    Joshua – any forum that doesn’t ban or disemvowel people who disrupt it, descends into a bear pit and normal folks stop taking an interest. This is pretty much an iron law of the internet; the question becomes simply what level of disruption is the blog owner willing to put up with.

    In the case of personal insults from random anti-science weirdos on the internet, banning is entirely appropriate, unless the main reason for this blogs existence is to reach out to them and provide a space for them to vent their spleen.

  560. johnrussell40 says:

    Yes, Barry, to pick up on jsam’s suggestion; write a post for WUWT called, “The basic facts about climate change as I understand them”. I’m sure it’ll go down really, really well.

  561. Steve Bloom says:

    Tol says stuff like that just to be provocative, Oliver, but are you truly so naive as to believe it? I ask that as a contemporary environmentalist, of course.

    BTW, you neglected to reply to my response to your prior comment above.

    Speaking of Tol, here’s the title and abstract of his latest paper (with co-authors):

    Coastal flood damage and adaptation costs under 21st century sea-level rise

    Coastal flood damage and adaptation costs under 21st century sea-level rise are assessed on a global scale taking into account a wide range of uncertainties in continental topography data, population data, protection strategies, socioeconomic development and sea-level rise. Uncertainty in global mean and regional sea level was derived from four different climate models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5, each combined with three land-ice scenarios based on the published range of contributions from ice sheets and glaciers. Without adaptation, 0.2–4.6% of global population is expected to be flooded annually in 2100 under 25–123 cm of global mean sea-level rise, with expected annual losses of 0.3–9.3% of global gross domestic product. Damages of this magnitude are very unlikely to be tolerated by society and adaptation will be widespread. The global costs of protecting the coast with dikes are significant with annual investment and maintenance costs of US$ 12–71 billion in 2100, but much smaller than the global cost of avoided damages even without accounting for indirect costs of damage to regional production supply. Flood damages by the end of this century are much more sensitive to the applied protection strategy than to variations in climate and socioeconomic scenarios as well as in physical data sources (topography and climate model). Our results emphasize the central role of long-term coastal adaptation strategies. These should also take into account that protecting large parts of the developed coast increases the risk of catastrophic consequences in the case of defense failure.

    Hmm, what do you suppose Montford thinks of this? And those pesky contemporary environmentalists?

  562. johnrussell40 says:

    That’s a really interesting comment from R Tol: “My point was aimed at those whom I consider to be on my side of the argument (that is, those who favor climate policy).

    As far as I’m aware almost everyone who thinks the climate is changing is in favour of a climate policy. The problem is getting everyone to agree to the underlying science, for without that agreement any discussion of policy is going nowhere. Isn’t that why the GWPolicyF spend most of it’s time trying to undermine the IPCC position on science?

  563. Steve Bloom says:

    Ever Their praises, and abundance to the Black Goat of the Woods. Iä! Shub-Niggurath!
    Iä! Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young!

  564. Joshua says:

    guthrie –

    I come at this from perhaps something of a unique angle – having been the target of maybe hundreds of calls for “banning” over at Climate Etc. That experience have given me an appreciation for the high level of subjectivity on display in discussions about blog monitoring.

    I come here, in part, to read and discuss a variety of perspectives. I actually think that’s why someone like Shub, in his heart of hearts, comes here also. So why does the discussion break down so easily? Why is a construction for good faith dialog so fragile?

    IMV – “banning” people is sometimes an admission of defeat. I liken it to when teachers feel that the answer to cheating is to punish students for cheating rather than examining why students think that empty knowledge is the goal of education. “Banning” people is a band-aid to cover over a larger problem. The aspect of it being an admission of defeat is, to some degree, validated when folks like Schollenberger and Shub dance victory laps after they’ve been banned – but I think of it as defeat because the goal of “keeping it civil” has been lost.

    These are tough issues. I don’t accept that “banning” people is a solution – because what have you created if you find yourself frequently banning people who disagree with your point of view? I say, instead, engage them in a respectful manner, and if that becomes impossible, then ignore them for a while and try again later. If they really persist in interfering with ongoing attempts at good faith exchange, in extreme cases then ban them with no remorse and laugh at their wails about “unfairness,” “intolerance,” “cowardice,” etc.

    My understanding is that Anders started this blog with a rather specific intent, an intent to create a vehicle for discussion that differed from others that are already abundantly available. I think that he should hold on to that goal and steer a steady course, and realize that the blustery and foul gases will blow over in time. For example, I’ve had Shub be uncivil to me, only to later have him acknowledge his imprudence.

    BTW – I like disemvowel.

  565. Joshua,

    IMV – “banning” people is sometimes an admission of defeat. I liken it to when teachers feel that the answer to cheating is to punish students for cheating rather than examining why students think that empty knowledge is the goal of education. “Banning” people is a band-aid to cover over a larger problem. The aspect of it being an admission of defeat is, to some degree, validated when folks like Schollenberger and Shub dance victory laps after they’ve been banned – but I think of it as defeat because the goal of “keeping it civil” has been lost.

    There’s some merit to this. I block people on Twitter without remorse. There’s too little bandwidth there to engage in anything sensible. There are, however, people I’ve blocked on Twitter who still comment here, and I have no problem with this.

    There are actually only three people that I’ve banned. I won’t say who or why, but I have my reasons and they know who they are (well one doesn’t, but they’ve never commented here anyway – although they’ve tried). Everyone else, I’d be more than happy to post their comments if they were reasonable and attempted to abide by the moderation and comments policy. It’s really not about reaching agreement or trying to convince someone that they’re wrong, or about silencing people with different views. A good faith, honest exchange with attempts to remain civil and clear evidence provided for any statements that aren’t expressed as opinions is really all I would be looking for. Maybe some restraint if discussions do start to get out of hand and an ability to know when to call it quits and agree to disagree would also be an advantage.

  566. badgersouth says:

    I concur with Peter Dykstra’s take on the value of “debates” between scientists and deniers as articulated in his Daily Climate Op-ed, “Debating arch-creationists and climate deniers is a bad thing for science, and maybe even for ‘debate.’ ” posted today. I also believe if Dykstra were posting on this thread, he would make the same point about the BBC interview cited in the OP, i.e., “As a scientist debating the scientifically undebatable, Bill Nye is doing far more harm than good.”

    To access Dykstra’s Op-ed, go to: https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/the-bbc-and-its-balance/

  567. badgersouth,
    I think you mean this one. I would agree that it’s doesn’t do much good for science. I would add that even if the Nye debate had been effective, Bill Nye has a career’s experience in public engagement. He’s probably in a tiny minority that has the ability to undertake such a debate. Expecting it to be the norm, or even to be quite common, would – in my opinion – be very damaging to how science was perceived by the public.

  568. andrew adams says:

    Barry,

    I remember the Times Atlas thing – Real Climate made much of it at the time and were instrumental in getting it corrected. I didn’t know about John Vidal’s story, it was obviously sloppy and it’s good that it was corrected, but it’s worth making the point that in both of these cases mainstream scientists were complaining, as they have also done for example about exaggerated stories about the “methane bomb”. It wasn’t as if it needed the likes of Montford to do it. So scientists do in fact complain about exaggerations on both sides, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen Montford complain about silly “skeptical” articles by the likes of David Rose.

  569. OPatrick says:

    Barry, do you think the greenland article wouldn’t have been corrected if it had’t been for you, Montford and Betts? Speaking personally, and I know it applies to many others here too, I resent anything that misrepresents the science or exaggerates the problems being published in the media, which cannot easily be defended. There is no reason for it and it does nothing but provide talking points for ‘sceptics’. I certainly ask for corrections on anything I see that I know is incorrect, and so do many others who defend the science.

  570. OPatrick says:

    always worth refreshing before posting!

  571. O Bothe says:

    Steve, I also think that he’s provocative and I also can’t follow many of his provocations. But that doesn’t hinder me to agree with the main thrust that the interactions here show a problem. Not sure whether it’s the right expression, but it’s going in the direction of (self-)righteousness.

    And if you insist and since I also react when others insist:

    O., you seem to have chosen to continually miss the point

    Do you think that encourages a reply?

    Could it be that you ([snark]as representative of contemporary environmentalists[/snark]) miss the point?

    , which is that climate policy “skeptics” start and end there (with policy, that is), IOW one cannot have a discussion with them of the sort you want. Put another way, their null hypothesis is that there’s no serious evidence for negative near-term effects of AGW, and that complete certainty about such must be shown in order for meaningful policies to be considered. In its own way, it’s quite self-consistent and rational.

    What do you want. Exclude them, ignore them? The debate of the science doesn’t work – you might have noticed that. The implication of the possibility of catastrophe doesn’t work as well.

    Anyway, I don’t think Hulme’s point is about discussing with them on blogs, twitter. And my point is to stop going on about WG1. One more blog-post about sea-level rise at Tamino’s doesn’t change a thing. Quantify the possible risks under a 1 to 1.8 TCR degree scenario especially if we’re on a path beyond doubling. If they evade that you can point out the inconsistency. And if they engage you can confront them with the impacts for higher values. And no this isn’t necessarily meant to be a discussion on Twitter and in blogs but rather in the MSM and in society. But maybe those with the relevant expertise want to stay quiet – and the MSM uninterested. And I don’t have the expertise.

    Once more, sticky ideas evoking pictures of death and destruction are IMO not helpful.

    And I think you (plural) know that I’m as annoyed by many of the ‘there’s not a problem’-arguments than any other here.

    But if you think you can manage to make some progress in such a debate, by all means march right over to Bishop Hill and give it a try. I’ll make popcorn.

    See above, and I’m certainly not going to do that. Sorry to disappoint you, my tolerance for the noise there is lower than Richard Betts’ or Tamsin’s which some apparently don’t understand.

    ###########################

    @Anders: I agree in so far as the blog (and the blog primarily consists of the comments) isn’t objective in how it discusses things. However, impartiality isn’t required or expected. To put it more generally, the green side of the debate is easily dismissive against positions which do not agree with our prior reasoning but we assume that we are less pushy and more open-minded and more factual then the “there’s-no-problem”-side (See above the “(self-)righteousness”). And now you can flip the sentence and it’s still true. And I include me on the green side and in the description.

    I could continually head-desk if I was regularly reading all “there-is-likely-a-(rather-big)-problem”- and all “there-is-likely-no-problem-(at-all)”-comments (on blogs or twitter).

    It’s IMO a possibility that science and the chance of implementation of climate policies suffer from such an impression.

  572. Ian Forrester says:

    Richard Betts, please check on your UK history. What I was discussing happened prior to WWII. I used that analogy to show what happens when you allow those “who cannot be named” try to take over and spread their “new science”. Scientists should have moved in to correct it whenever it appeared, it is way too late now.

    Climate scientists should refuse a debate if they know that there is a pseudo-scientist who will be debating them. Tell the BBC, or whoever, that that is not how science is done and offer to present a 30 to 60 minutes session on the real science as opposed to junk-science.

    Those”who cannot be named” will be upset and have angry words on their blogs but that is no worse than allowing them to spread their misinformation to a much larger audience than blogs.

  573. Joshua says:

    Anders – from your link:

    The main problem with shoving science through the meatgrinder of showbiz is that it validates the central theme of “Merchants of Doubt,” the landmark book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway: The longer you “debate” a science issue where there’s no scientific room for debate, the more you enable doubts about the basic truths of science.

    Here’s what I don’t get….

    I don’t believe that the prevalence of “skeptics” and/or creationists increases as the result of this kind of debate. For example, before such a high profile debate, the #’s of creationists has remained quite stable (and I would say high) in the US for quite a period of time. If there has been some growth, it hasn’t been because of high profile debates, but because the # of high profile creationists has grown in a context where there have been few high profile debates.

    Where is the evidence that that kind of debate causes harm (as defined by increasing the #’s of people who hold creationist views, a definition that I have a bit of a problem with)?

    By way of analogy, this reminds me of the arguments in the US about whether holding discussions with Iran “legitimizes” Iran and in turn leads to its theocratic leaders gaining in power. I have never understood that argument either, because they had already attained a great degree of power despite that there no talks taking place. Again, it seems to go back to fundamental beliefs about whether engaging in discussion is tantamount to “rewarding bad behavior.”

    If we dig into beliefs about evolution, the picture gets pretty murky. Kahan argues that there is abundant data that belief in evolution vs. intelligent design is not a matter of scientific literacy, but much more a matter of group identity. Now that isn’t quite the same thing as extending the argument to saying that there is no association between scientific illiteracy and Young Earth Creationism – but IMO, if you’re worried that engaging in public dialog with YECers will somehow legitimate their views in the eyes of some significant % of the public – there is a much larger issue to be addressed, and focusing on the existence or lack thereof of public debates is like putting a band aid on a gunshot wound, or “banning” “trolls” on blog commenters (on a much smaller scale).

    I think that if you’re focusing your concern on the existence of public debates, or the ability of Mathews to engage with Montford’s poor science, you’re not addressing the underlying mechanisms of what creates the problem – and instead you’re limiting yourself to a kind of paliative treatment for the symptoms of the problem.

  574. Oliver,
    It sounds like you’re not implying that I play hard and loose with facts, confuse differences in values with differences in facts, and is intolerant – or at least, not specifically, I guess.

    So, do you have a point about some of it? Yes, probably. I find it extremely difficult to get the right balance. If you want the discussion to be moderately civil, you end up moderating people until they don’t come back. I would be very pleased if Shub and others could come here and not instantly accuse me of cowardice. I’ve moderated some who are on my “side”. If people don’t like it, they can try again and try to stick closer to the moderation and comments policies. Some understanding of how difficult it is to get the balance right would probably also be appreciated.

    My one issue with your comment that you appear to be associating this blog with the green side of the debate. Why? This post is about whether or not media organisations should interview scientific experts or not? My previous one was about Lewis (2013). I wrote one about the the IPCC review. I did a recent one about error analysis. I don’t think I’ve written many posts that I would regard as environmentalism. I’m not saying I’ve never written anything that could be regarded as environmentalism, but I don’t think it’s common. So, I get the impression that you assigned me to a side without necessarily having read much of what I write. Maybe you’re basing it on the comments, rather than on the posts, but even then I’m not sure that that would be strictly accurate.

    Of course, you’re free to have whatever opinion you like about me, the blog, the comments, but I’m not entirely convinced that it’s actually based on reading much of what’s written here. I might be wrong, and – of course – I’m not the right person to judge it myself, so maybe your assessment is entirely fair.

  575. Joshua,

    I think that if you’re focusing your concern on the existence of public debates, or the ability of Mathews to engage with Montford’s poor science, you’re not addressing the underlying mechanisms of what creates the problem – and instead you’re limiting yourself to a kind of paliative treatment for the symptoms of the problem.

    Possibly, but my response to badgersouth was broader. It’s possible that the Nye debating was entertaining, did no damage, and maybe did work. My point was that he’s an expert at public engagement and may well be suited to that kind of scenario. My broader point was then even if that debate wasn’t damaging, expecting scientists in general to cope with that style of engagement is unrealistic.

    So, yes, maybe you have a point that there is a deeper problem but I don’t think my argument’s ever been that stopping scientific debates in the media will solve the problem. It’s simply that having scientific debates in the media is unlikely to prove beneficial.

  576. Joshua says:

    O Bothe —

    To put it more generally, the green side of the debate is easily dismissive against positions which do not agree with our prior reasoning but we assume that we are less pushy and more open-minded and more factual then the “there’s-no-problem”-side (See above the “(self-)righteousness”).

    I think that by identifying those as attributes of Greens, or their “opposition” backgrounds the reality that these are human characteristics that become foregrounded when we debate about issues that touch on cultural, social, or political group identifications. Both sides want to argue about whether they are exclusively or disproportionately characteristic of the other side, when the science tells us that they are products of fundamental attributes of our cognition and psychology. Instead, IMO, what should be foregrounded are the underlying causes for why people get distracted by identity-protective or identity-aggressive positioning, and instead the focus should be on how to control for those tendencies in order to establish common interests.

    Yes, it is important to acknowledge those behaviors on “my side,” but only within the context of looking at the larger issues at play.

    Positions versus interests.

  577. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    My broader point was then even if that debate wasn’t damaging, expecting scientists in general to cope with that style of engagement is unrealistic.

    I think this is tantamount to “playing the ref.” The setup is at it is. It is reality. It won’t change. And I would argue that it shouldn’t be changed. Scientists need to make the argument convincing enough to counteract the effect of the rhetoric of someone like Montford. There are different layers of stakeholders. Scientists would be one. Libertarian activists like Montford would be another. As would Green activists or liberal activists. Politicians. Citizens of low-lying countries at greater risk for sea level rise. Citizens of rich countries that have better resources to direct towards adaptation. Citizens from high per capita ACO2 countries and those from low per capita ACO2 countries.

    I don’t think that it is either realistic or desirable to try to reach resolution based on some abstracted notion of what would be right or equitable or fair, because those are always subjective evaluations. “Skeptics” are entirely convinced that they are Davids staring down Goliaths, just as “realists” are fully convinced that the media is in the tank to create a “false balance” between scientists and “snake oil salesment” like Montford. If you embrace the notion that there is some justified sense of hierachy, by definition some will feel they are getting the short end of the stick, and they will lose investment in policy outcomes. IMO, the discussion needs to be engaged on a non-hierachical platform where all stakeholders feel some ownership.

  578. Barry Woods says:

    O’patrick. .

    Guardian were very slow to respond. Did you see the Cryosphere commentary above. What changed the Guardian. Is no doubt pointing out that he wrote the Greenland chapter in the Atlas! And the press release totally misrepresented it..
    my point is not how fast or slow they were to correct, but so quick to push a climate change impact story. They forgot to see if it held up.. ‘misding’

  579. Joshua says:

    OK. I’ll give it a rest now. Sorry for monopolizing the discussion. It is one of the reasons I am so often called a “troll.”

  580. badgersouth says:

    As to be expected, the Nye-Ham Creationism debate is drawing a lot of attention in the US MSM and in the blogosphere. Here’s yet another review:

    “Bill Nye’s Creationism Debate Not a Total Disaster, Scientists Say” by Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience, Feb 5, 2014

    http://www.livescience.com/43127-nye-creationism-debate-response.html?cmpid=556402

  581. Barry Woods says:

    Jsam.. The public. Don’t know that WUWT, or any climate blogs, exist.

    Richard and I also corrected the BBC. When they had a story that had people believing. That Met Office predicting there would be as much warming in the next 7 years. Equivalent to sbout half the rise in temp since 1850. Ended up on prime BBC with graphics. +0.43C by 2017. Guardian ran with it. Other journalists as well.

    BBC journalist , corresponded with me to check whether or now.
    The silly thing is the Met Office Web page the story was based on clearly stated. Compared to baseline average. Ie temps about the same as now.

  582. BBD says:

    ATTP

    My one issue with your comment that you appear to be associating this blog with the green side of the debate. Why?

    A good question and one that has come up before. It is a commonplace of this debate for people to arbitrarily and mistakenly conflate physical climatology with green politics. An understandable mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. It is a favoured rhetorical gambit of contrarians, so I am surprised – actually disturbed – to see it done by O. Bothe.

  583. BBD says:

    Barry

    I can only speak for myself, but I had thought your concerns about media inaccuracy had been comprehensively addressed above. Consequently, I at least am finding your incessant and insistent repetition of this concern increasingly tedious.

  584. jsam says:

    Barry – before you bitch about the mainstream media, clean up your mini Aegean stables at WUWT. Set a good example before whinging. Then head over to the Daily Mail – it has the larger circulation and the bigger mess with David Rose. Then have a go at Delingpole and the Telegraph. Heck, start with Lawds Monckton and Lawson. Correct the GWPF. There is much to do, and more to do, on “your side”.

    When you’ve made a start then we can talk. 🙂

    Based upon his last intercession, actually, maybe Monckton is asking for some time in the Tower of London. What a t@sser.

  585. @Joshua

    Thanks, I hadn’t picked up on the second version of the phrase.

    I’ve asked Andrew Montford to clarify which version represents his real view, plus a couple of other questions on other things he said.

    Feel free to join the conversation there (I’m out this evening so won’t be online).

  586. Joshua says:

    Thanks Richard. Appreciated.

  587. Barry Woods says:

    Opatrick – Betts pointed out..

    typing ( unsuccessfully it seems) on my phone

  588. badgersouth says:

    Joshua: You used the word “stakeholders” in a recent post. Who do you have in mind? Thanks.

  589. Joshua,
    I’m slightly confused by this

    I think this is tantamount to “playing the ref.” The setup is at it is. It is reality. It won’t change. And I would argue that it shouldn’t be changed. Scientists need to make the argument convincing enough to counteract the effect of the rhetoric of someone like Montford.

    It doesn’t seem typical for the media to present science in a debate setting. It seems prevalent mainly in climate science. So, it’s not clear to me that it’s quite right to say it’s playing the ref. It might be a form of reality but one can certainly make an argument that the media is doing us a disservice by often presenting climate science in a way that they wouldn’t for other sciences.

    So, to me, there might be two ways to look at this. One is that the media would actually like to present climate science in a better, more representative way (i.e., in a way that results in the programmes better presenting the science, rather than better presenting all the possible views). Hence one could argue, as I have, that this particular style isn’t optimal if you want the listeners/viewers to get a reasonable understanding of the science.

    On the other hand, one could say that it is reality and that scientists have to be more prepared. So, yes if this is how it will be, then scientists should become more adept at this style. Of course, becoming more adept would be good anyway because, ideally, they should be able to present a convincing argument whether they’re in a debate setting or not.

  590. Richards,
    Thanks for posting the comment on Bishop Hill. I’d certainly be interested in the answers.

    Feel free to join the conversation there (I’m out this evening so won’t be online).

    I suspect that I may not be particularly welcome which – if true – is unfortunate but probably partly my own fault. 🙂

  591. BBD says:

    I am banned outright at BH, so I will not be permitted to join the “conversation”. Not that there is one – I have just checked and not a single response.

  592. BBD, if only you were on Twitter then you could be complaining bitterly about your banning at BH, just as Foxgoose is doing about his moderation here 🙂 . Of course, he’s not actually banned. He just needs to have a good read of the moderation and comments policies.

  593. Rachel says:

    Can you read his tweets, AndThen? I thought you’d blocked him?

  594. I can work it out from the ones I see from others, but I can see his tweets if I actually search for them. It’s not something I typically bother doing, though.

  595. > why people get distracted by identity-protective or identity-aggressive positioning

    Because it’s the main ball played by Climateballers, it can’t really be a distraction, can it?

  596. Our beloved Bishop (who has blocked me over Twitter) will answer Richard Betts’ questions in a short moment, he might be away dining or something:

    > Feb 6, 2014 at 5:27 PM | Richard Betts

    Crickets.

    Feb 6, 2014 at 6:57 PM | willard

    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2014/2/1/the-headless-chickens.html?lastPage=true#comment20762960

  597. Joshua says:

    badgersouth –

    Yes, the term “stakeholder’ is a bit jargon-y.

    Basically, I mean anyone who has a vested interest in climate change mitigation/adaptation policies. Pretty much everyone. I realize that the term is so broad as to potentially become not useful.

    I borrow it from the concept of participatory democracy – this document gives a reasonable overview:

    http://www.idea.int/publications/dll_caucasus/upload/English_paricipatory%20democracy.pdf

    Part of the concept is that there needs to be some steps to create a non-hierarchical framework for sharing the responsibility for gathering and disseminating information. Part of the problem for “realists,” IMO, is that many of them want there to be a hierarchical flow of information. I understand the reasoning behind that, but I think that an inevitable consequence for such a structure in a polarized context is that people will pick and choose their “experts” on the basis of how they align with the oppositional “positions.” People will have a “stake” in the positions of their “experts” and disown any “stake” in the positions of the “experts” they aren’t aligned with. One principle of participatory democracy is that you incorporate information from “experts,” but you do so in a non-hierarchical structure.

    I think that there needs to be a bi-directional flow of information – and that’s where someone like Montford – as a spokesperson for an affinity (or stakeholder) group comes into play. The debate about climate change is particularly vexing because of the disparity between “experts” that represent the two largest affinity groups – and thus it stands to reason that “skeptics” will turn to non-credentialed “experts” as their representatives. If they have relatively few scientists as their representatives, how will their views as stakeholders be voiced?

  598. Tom Curtis says:

    Richard Bett’s:

    “I’ve asked Andrew Montford to clarify which version represents his real view, plus a couple of other questions on other things he said.”

    Let’s first have a look at the two views. First is:

    “We haven’t seen very much warming for getting on to twenty years now.”

    The problem there is that we have seen 0.226 +/- 0.19 C over the twenty years from Jan 1994 (HadCRUT4). That compares to the 0.859 +/-0.018 C since Jan 1901. That is, we have seen 26.3% of the warming in 17.7% of the time – more than a quarter of the warming in less than a fifth of the time. So even his first version is a misrepresentation of the facts. In global terms, 0.226 C warming in twenty years is substantial warming.

    Consequently, Richard’s question is not which version he believes, but first, why are you either downplaying the actual warming, or outright denying it? And only then, which do you actually believe – that we have had more than a quarter of the warming in less than a fifth of the time since the start of the twentieth century? Or that there has been no warming at all over the last twenty years?

    And even that is a waste of time. Montford will just say that the first comment reflects his real view (without agreeing on the description); and the next time he is on radio he will play the same game of sliding 15 years out to 20; a slowdown into no warming; and generally misrepresenting the actual facts.

    If Richard doesn’t want to waste his time, he should be asking for, and expecting a clear acknowledgement of the misrepresentation, and correction of the facts from Montford on his blog.

  599. badgersouth says:

    Joshua: Thank you. From my perspective the entire human race is a stakeholder. There is no Planet B.

  600. badgersouth says:

    From The Denier Roundup section of the Climate Nexus Hot News eBulletin of today (Feb 6, 2014):

    Cook ’13 takes imaginary collateral hit

    Deniers are jubilant over a piece in The Conversation in which Dr. Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate and Culture at King’s College London, suggests the climate change conversation shouldn’t even be about the science, it should be about solutions. Hulme asks: “What policies are we going to implement to solve the climate problem?”

    Now you may ask, “Why would deniers link to a piece that not only acknowledges the reality of climate change but takes it a step further by focusing on actual solutions?”

    The answer is because Dr. Hulme says the “now infamous” Cook ’13 paper (which is the most recent study finding 97% scientific agreement on human caused climate change) is largely irrelevant. He argues the issue is instead what we should do about climate change, not what scientists think about it.

    So the deniersphere is having a field day. Bishop Hill has a post titled “The Infamy of John Cook,” while WUWT has the post “Quote of the week – UEA/CRU scientist disses Cook’s 97%.” JoNova went with the wordy headline “Hulme tries to throw all scientists under a bus. It’s just ‘the debate is over.’ Cook, consensus take collateral hit.”

    Detractors imply that Hulme meant “bad” when he said “infamous.” We think maybe he was referring to the fact that Cook ’13 was tweeted by President Obama and was the 11th most talked about study of 2013, according to Altmetric.

  601. OPatrick says:

    Guardian were very slow to respond.

    Possibly so – it wouldn’t surprise me if they were defensive as I am sure they get plenty of criticism that is unwarrented and they may be sceptical of any genuine criticism at face value. But the point is that they did respond and they corrected and discussed their correction.

    Did you see the Cryosphere commentary above.

    Yes. I’m not clear what relevance you think it has. No-one is defending the Guardian’s story, including the Guardian themselves. What you are highlighting is someone else correcting the Guardian.

    What changed the Guardian. Is no doubt [Betts] pointing out that he wrote the Greenland chapter in the Atlas!

    No doubt? Really? Are you saying that no-one else would have been able to persuade the Guardian to make the changes? I think someone else has already pointed to RealClimate addressing the issue – perhaps they might have been able to influence the Guardian too?

  602. Tom Curtis says:

    Joshua:

    “If they have relatively few scientists as their representatives, how will their views as stakeholders be voiced?”

    The validity of the science does not depend on anybodies stake. Consequently renegotiating the science is not part of representing stakeholders views. Rather, representing differences in values, and in preferred strategy options is. So, every stakeholder should have a voice (or their representatives voice) heard in relation to policy decisions, but no stakeholder qua stakeholder has privileged rights to challenge the science.

    Further, Joshua, it is plain that Williams was not acting as a stakeholder on the show, but trying to represent what the science said. So the question you should be asking, on your view, is why were only the stakeholders represented by Montford’s view given a voice? Where was the socialist stakeholder’s representative? Or the environmentalist’s? Or the Liberal-democrat’s? And given the global nature of the issue, where was the Bangladeshi stakeholder’s representative? And so on.

    Your view does not exonerate the BBC of a charge of bias. Rather, instead of merely choosing an inexpert “expert”, it means they have given privileged access to a very select group of stakeholders, while not allowing the majority of stakeholders a voice.

  603. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    It doesn’t seem typical for the media to present science in a debate setting. It seems prevalent mainly in climate science.

    It would be interesting to have some data on how unusual it is – and if it is unusual, what characterizes those issues that are disproportionately covered in some kind of a debate format.

    I see the debate format as pretty commonplace – although I could be wrong. Perhaps what distinguishes the climate change issue is that when the debate is presented, it is more often in a form of “scientist vs. non-scientist” than other contentious issues – because with the climate change debate, there is a fairly unusual disparity in the number of scientists on the two sides.

    The debate about evolution would be similar – but the debate about evolution does not have the same extent of implications to questions of public/government policy – and therefore it doesn’t garner as much attention through a debate format.

    So, it’s not clear to me that it’s quite right to say it’s playing the ref.

    The reason that I say that it is, because it appeals to some sense of fairness when: (1) there is no arbiter of fairness and, (2) fairness is in the eyes of the beholder. In the end, the point is to play the game as the ref calls is. No one cares whether the ref was fair except the fans, and of course, both sides will always be convinced that the ref is in the pocket of the other team.

    It might be a form of reality but one can certainly make an argument that the media is doing us a disservice by often presenting climate science in a way that they wouldn’t for other sciences.

    I guess that would have to depend on what you think are the mechanisms behind the unfairness of the refs. I dispute the contentions (so ubiquitous on both sides) that the structure of the game is because the refs are unfair. I think the structure of the game reflects the public’s sense of the game. That can’t be change. “Skeptics” are stakeholders and they want their voices heard. Montford is a star player for their team. “Realists” might think that he’s a Conrad Dobler: