Certainty and meaning?

There’s a new paper in Nature Climate Change by Greg Hollin and Warren Pearce called Tension between scientific certainty and meaning complicates communication of IPCC reports. You can read more about it in this Making Science Public post. Let me start by saying that it’s possible that I’m just confused, but – in my opinion – the premise of this paper is rather confused. It appears to be arguing that, during the IPCC press conferences, those engaging with the press/public focused on the certainty of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and underplayed the significance of things (like the so-called “pause”) that introduce a level of uncertainty. In doing so, they undermined their message.

If this is what is being suggested, then there is an alternative possibility. Maybe there is a great deal of certainty about AGW, that things like the so-called “pause” do not reduce this certainty and, therefore, that the scientists involved in the press conference were trying to present our best understanding of this topic, irrespective of the views of a bunch of journalists and social scientists.

So, why do I think the article is confused? Consider the following comment:

During the press conference, the IPCC speakers attempted to make climate knowledge more publicly meaningful by repeated reference to temporally local phenomena such as short-term temperature change. However, as described above, there are more uncertainties around the causes of these phenomena and whether they are indeed attributable to AGW.

Who has ever suggested that short-term temperatures are – or even could be – attributed to AGW? The significance of short-term variability is that, when considering the surface temperature record, we expect there to be this kind of variability, even in the presence of increasing anthropogenic forcings. The article continues with

Furthermore, these phenomena are of a kind with other uncertain, temporally local phenomena such as ‘the pause’ that do not incontrovertibly support the AGW hypothesis.

Huh? This is, essentially, the wrong way around. The so-called “pause” would be significant if it were inconsistent with AGW; but it’s not. That’s probably why the speakers were not giving undue significance to these short-term variations. To be fair, this doesn’t mean that the recent surface warming slowdown wasn’t a surprise, that there weren’t communication failures, and that there isn’t much to learn about this period, but that doesn’t mean that they were underplaying the significance of something like this.

The premise of the article can probably be summed up by the following comment

In this press conference, the IPCC speakers failed to acknowledge this diminishing certainty, dismissing journalists’ questions about ‘the pause’ precisely because the phenomenon is uncertain

Again, the authors seem to be asserting that things like the “pause” introduce an uncertainty that the speakers failed to properly acknowledge, without recognising the possibility that what the scientists were presenting was a reasonable representation of our best understanding. One of the journalist whose question was dismissed was David Rose who asked

how much longer will the so-called pause or hiatus have to continue before you would begin to reflect that there is something fundamentally wrong with the models?

This was dismissed as being an ill-posed question, leading – apparently – to David Rose being regarded as scientifically illiterate. I guess one could provide an answer to David Rose’s question, but it is a largely ill-posed question, and although scientifically illiterate may be a little harsh, from what I’ve seen of David Rose, it’s not far off. Sure, if the so-called “pause” did continue for many decades, while we continued to increase our emissions, it would make it more likely that there was something fundamentally wrong with the models. However, so much physics would have to be wrong for that to occur, that it really isn’t a question worth answering – well, not without providing caveats and a great deal of context.

There’s probably a great deal more that I could say, but I’ll finish by quoting the final part of the paper.

If IPCC speakers are to avoid this certainty trap in the future, they must be better availed of the competing tensions between scientific certainty and public meaning, and the particular difficulties faced by scientists when trying to communicate their findings in a meaningful fashion. In particular, public dialogue has a key role to play in making climate science knowledge meaningful. We should strive for an approach to climate change that breaks free of the certainty trap to better include public dialogue, values, visions and beliefs

I’m not even entirely sure of what this is getting at, but it seems to be suggesting that public values, visions and beliefs should influence scientific certainty. If so, I fail to see how this is a good idea. Our scientific understanding should strive to be objective and not be influenced by a public perception of the scientific information. It’s one thing to suggest better ways in which to communicate our scientific understanding, but appearing to suggest that we should adapt our scientific understanding to suit a public position, just seems bizarre.

Of course, I’ve been told before that my understanding of the whole Science and Technology Studies field is poor, which is possible. Maybe there is some significance to this paper that I’m failing to get. If so, maybe someone who does get it could explain it to me in a way that I can understand.

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88 Responses to Certainty and meaning?

  1. I’ll make a quick extra comment as this post got rather long and convoluted. I can quite easily see social scientists helping scientists to better communicate our scientific understanding. What I don’t see as feasible is social scientists trying to define the scientific message, which is what this paper appears to be suggesting.

    For example, there was a rather odd (in my view) comment in the paper

    The problem for the press conference speakers was that, although they clearly thought that the certainty of AGW demonstrated the need for public action, it is not entirely clear why that argument should have been publicly persuasive given that literature in the social sciences strongly suggests that little public meaning has been successfully attached to this aggregated, abstract notion of climate

    What does this even mean? If the public doesn’t understand the concept of climate, or the significance of our current scientific understanding of climate change, then surely we should be aiming to improve that, rather than suggesting (as this appears to be doing) that this lack of “meaning” should influence what information is presented in a public setting? We can improve how it’s communicated, but we can’t change what we should be communicated.

  2. Although I haven’t read the paper due to the paywall, from your descriptions and the abstract it appears to be suggesting that the IPCC’s presenters of the science to the public at press conferences should adapt their language and explanations to meet the levels of understanding of the public, much like a teacher adapts their language and simplifies the message in order to present a complicated subject to his/her pupils. This is not suggesting distorting the science, just distilation. Surely this doesn’t mean this communication requirement should influence the scientists who do the work?

    David Rose was considered scientifically illiterate, I would guess, because the form his question took assumed knowledge and at the same time showed he didn’t understand models. It was also pregnant with mischief. In other words, Dunning-Kruger with nefarious intent.

  3. john,
    It is possible that I misunderstand the paper, but it does seem to be suggesting that the press conference presented an inconsistent message. That they unpderplayed the uncertainty associated with short-term variability, while also using short-term effects to illustrate their certainty about AGW.

  4. Rachel M says:

    Isn’t it a bit ironic that a paper about how best to communicate climate science to the public in a way the public can understand is itself indecipherable? I haven’t read the paper but the excerpts you provided are wordy and unclear.

    I don’t believe in using obscure words when simple ones will do and I’ve always felt that shorter sentences are better than long ones. The famous French mathematician, Blaise Pascale, once said, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time”.

  5. Brigitte says:

    I think the paper wants to alert scientists to certain communicative pitfalls that might lurk in press conferences. So raising awareness of how miscommunication or misunderstandings might occur between the relatively abstract level of climate science and the more concrete need for meaningful messages is quite useful. If it makes people reflect more on how they talk about long term and short term trends, about certainty and uncertainty and about variability, that should be a good thing.

  6. In communicating it’s not enough that the message is consistent based on the knowledge that the experts have, it must be perceived as consistent by the audience. How to achieve that for a large enough fraction of the audience is the problem (succeeding with everyone is not a realistic goal, therefore I refer to large enough fraction).

  7. There is what an electronic engineer would call an “impedance mismatch” between the scientists and the public, which means the signal transfer has below optimal power. We could ask the scientists to increase their impedance to better match that of the public, or the public to lower theirs to match the scientists. Alternatively we could use the journalists as a “transformer” to match the impedance of the source (the scientists) to that of the sink (the public) and thereby maximise “signal power”). In other words, we could do with journalists that were good at understanding the science and communicating (translating) it to the public. Or better still, we could do all three.

    Basically what I am saying is that the problem isn’t just with the scientists, it is also with the science journalists (or at least some of them) and the public, and we all need to work at communicating in a clear manner (I realize that some ironyometers may need re-calibrating at this point ;o) and being able to critically interpret what we read.

  8. Brigitte,

    If it makes people reflect more on how they talk about long term and short term trends, about certainty and uncertainty and about variability, that should be a good thing.

    Thanks. I agree that that is a good thing. I guess my confusion comes from the paper appearing to argue that there was an actual inconsistency, rather than an apparent inconsistency.

    Pekka,

    In communicating it’s not enough that the message is consistent based on the knowledge that the experts have, it must be perceived as consistent by the audience.

    Indeed, but that’s possibly a communication failure, rather than an indication that the message was actually inconsistent.

    Dikran,

    Alternatively we could use the journalists as a “transformer” to match the impedance of the source (the scientists) to that of the sink (the public) and thereby maximise “signal power”). In other words, we could do with journalists that were good at understanding the science and communicating (translating) it to the public. Or better still, we could do all three.

    Agreed. There appear, however, to be some journalist (David Rose being one) who seem to think that they have a role in actually determining what science is credible and what isn’t, rather than a role in presenting what is the most credible scientific position. For example, he asks a question that is dismissed and instead of considering that his question was ill-posed, is annoyed that it wasn’t answered and that that indicates a reluctance to answer inconvenient questions.

  9. ATTP, if you plug a transformer in back to front, it will make the impedance mismatch worse. Perhaps Rose would communicate the science better if he faced directly away from the keyboard? ;o)

  10. aTTP,
    I interpreted the blog post of Warren Pearce as describing mainly communication failures and the case, where the message has been perceived as inconsistent rather than really been inconsistent, although I admit that it’s difficult to tell for sure. (I haven’t read yet the actual paper.)

    It’s also an unfortunate fact that the most meaningful results are usually not the most certain. Finding the right balance, where both the level of certainty and meaningfulness combine best may be difficult, requiring further that the message can be communicated effectively adds to the difficulty.

    When several people contribute to the communication, each of them makes different judgements on, how to solve best the above problem. That’s one more factor that leads to inconsistent communication.

  11. Having now read the paper…

    (i) The only example of a short term (“temporally localized”) climate change mentioned in the paper is “the decade 2001 onwards having been the hottest, the warmest we have seen” is not actually a short term change. The reason the decade starting in 2001 was the warmest is the long term warming trend since 1960 the dominant cause of which is attributed to anthropogenic GHG emissions. It is a statement about a decade, but it isn’t a statement of “temporally localized” climate change. If this is the only example (or even the clearest), then it seems to me the paper is based on a misunderstanding of climate science. I am surprised the reviewers didn’t question this.

    (ii) The idea that climate is an “abstract notion” seems a little odd. It isn’t that complicated; climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.” sums it up tolerably well.

    (iii) I am not at all sure about “the variable effects of …, climate sensitivity, …”!

    (iv) It seems a somewhat circular argument to suggest that Rose’s question was “well founded” on the grounds that it “exposed how attempts during the press conference to increase public meaning undermined the very scientific certainty that representatives were trying to communicate, and then leverage, to procure public meaning.” given that the question was plausibly intended to undermine scientific certainty.

    (v) I am not convinced it is the job of WG1 to translate certainty into meaning in the sense of what “arises from personal experience embedded in the local contexts within which people create and value their lives”. Science can tell us what is likely to happen if we follow a particular course of action, but it can’t tell us whether we should follow that course of action as that depends on our values and how we view the likely outcome. The purpose of the IPCC reports seem to me to help politicians decide a “meaningful” course of action informed by what science and economics suggest are the plausible range of outcomes.

    (vi) I agree with Rachel, it is ironic that a paper intended to get scientists to communicate better to the public was written in a style likely to be rather opaque for an audience of scientists (but presumably transparent to an audience of social scientists).

  12. Pekka,
    As I said in the post, I do find it all a bit confusing. My reading of the paper is that it is implying an actual inconsistent message, rather than an apparent inconsistent message. Also, the two bits I quote about AGW and short-term variability just seem confused and would seem to indicate that they’re inferring more significance to this variability (wrt AGW, at least) than many would regard as reasonable.

  13. chris says:

    I’ve only had a quick perusal of the Hollins/Pearce paper but this statement is pretty astonishing:

    “Jarraud offered just such a dismissal to Rose’s question, which he claimed was “from a scientific point of view… what we would call an ill-posed question” (L827–828), essentially dismissing Rose as scientifically illiterate.”

    If someone asks an “ill-posed” question it doesn’t mean that they’re “scientifically illterate”! It means they’ve asked an ill-posed question.

    The question: “…how much longer will the so-called pause or hiatus have to continue before you would begin to reflect that there is something fundamentally wrong with the models?” is ill-posed since there isn’t an answer to the question other than “it depends”. It depends on the occurrences of natural/stochastic variability (volcanic eruptions, ENSO, solar output. In fact Thomas Stocker explained that in response to Rose’s ill-posed question…

    ..unfortunately Hollins/Pearce seem to have preferred to construct a mountain out of what is more of a molehill – and in doing so have rather garbled the very thing that they profess to be addressing, namely the transmission of meaning

  14. Dikran,
    Thanks, that’s roughly sums up my view. You make a good point about the hottest decade; it’s relative to the instrumental temperature record, and so is not focusing on short-term changes.

    Something I didn’t discuss in the post was the focus on this statement by Michel Jarraud

    In a particularly passionate passage, the World Meteorological Organization’s Michel Jarraud (see Methods for further information on speakers’ organizational roles) argued that “[The] report demonstrates that we must greatly reduce global emissions in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change”

    It seems as though the authors see this as ascribing some kind of value, but it isn’t really. The scientific evidence indeed suggests that to avoid the worst effects of climate change we should greatly reduce global emissions. Whether we choose to do so, or not, would be a value judgement. That this is what would be required to do so, is not.

  15. Joshua says:

    The problem with “the message has been perceived as inconsistent’ is that it consider a “perceiver’ as some kind of generic person. Unless the article provides evidence as to who is perceiving this inconsistency, and importantly, controlling for the infuence of motivated reasoning on the part of the “perceiver,” I can’t see how this analysis adds any real value. To add real value, IMO, it would need to distinguish between those who see inconstency because of some intrinsic quality of the communication effort and those who see inconsistency because they’re looking for it to appear.

  16. Joshua says:

    Yo. “Censoring” me again? What are you so afraid of? 😃

  17. Maybe I’m just trying to wind you up? 🙂

    I actually can’t work out what words you’re using to end up in moderation.

  18. Joshua says:

    I think that there is a mor3me basic problem at play, and that there is evidence that the current efforts to asdress that problem are not having a beneficial effect in some absolute sense (we don’t know if the current efforts are mitigating the eftext of “anti-consensus” messaging in a relative sense).

    The problem is that people will be “uncertain” about the risk of climate change until they feel the effects unambiguously. We know this from how people approach risk on a distant time horizon. Blaming that kind of in uncertainty on how climate scientists communicate about the “pause” seems weak, to me. In the other side, however, I think also that thinking you can address that uncertainty through “consensus-messaging” is also not an evidence-based conclusion.

  19. Chris, “If someone asks an “ill-posed” question it doesn’t mean that they’re “scientifically illterate”! It means they’ve asked an ill-posed question.”

    I agree, now you point it out, it does seem a rather speculative and nuanced interpretation. If I thought someone was scientifically illiterate, I certainly wouldn’t tell them their question was “ill-posed” as they wouldn’t be likely to know what I meant by the phrase!

  20. Joshua,
    Yes, there does seem to be a tendency – amongst some – to suggest that because efforts to address the problem have been ineffective, that there is something wrong with the message, or how it’s being presented. This seems to ignore that there has certainly been quite a lot of effort to prevent addressing the problem, or that the message is clearly presented, but being ignored, or dismissed.

    Dikran,

    Chris, “If someone asks an “ill-posed” question it doesn’t mean that they’re “scientifically illterate”! It means they’ve asked an ill-posed question.”

    I agree, now you point it out, it does seem a rather speculative and nuanced interpretation.

    Yes, that’s why I put apparently in the post. I wouldn’t quite describe David Rose as scientifically illiterate, but I’m not impressed with what I’ve seen so far.

  21. “It is a statement about a decade, but it isn’t a statement of “temporally localized” climate change. If this is the only example (or even the clearest), then it seems to me the paper is based on a misunderstanding of climate science. I am surprised the reviewers didn’t question this.”

    the point is this. talk about the warmest decade appears to be talk about a short period.
    that is the scientist has the appearance of using a short time period to bolster the case.
    On the other hand, when the issue of the pause is raised, they dismissed it as being too short a period. hence the appearance of confusion.

    Of course if we take more time to explain why the warmest decade really isnt a comment about a short period, then the apparent confusion diminishes.

    I dont find the paper as objectionable as the rest of you.

    An analogy I like is the presentation of evidence in a case like the OJ case. Suppose you have 10 pieces of evidence. Blood, genetics, timelines…. and the glove. You might think that adding that last piece of evidence actually helped your case. But if push came to shove and you had to pick only one piece, you wouldnt use the glove. As it turns out, your weakest evidence tends to be the one that can destroy the case, even though logically it should not. there is a similar effect in say something like the HS. Its not central to the case. Its certainly not as good as fundamental physics for making the case of AGW, and the inclusion of it actually, practically, on the ground, causes more issues than its worth. One way to think of this is as follows: if their case is so good why are they including this evidence? From inside the science of course people see no problem with citing all the evidence weak and strong.

  22. aTTP,
    Reading your post and the post of Warren Pearce makes me relate the observations to what I have observed myself both in net discussion and in direct contacts. As Joshua has repeatedly pointed out, such personal observations are not necessarily representative, but that’s what I have. (Social scientists have produced some interesting related results, but failed to find anything conclusive as far as can judge.)

    My view is that it’s essential to understand, why communicating about climate change is difficult, and to admit that reasonable people may for various reasons be attracted by the arguments of moderate skeptics. Condemning them for their views, as some people do, may very well be counterproductive. We must accept that everyone has the right to form her views based on what she perceives and understands. It’s a ubiquitous property of today’s societies that people understand a very small part of what science has found out, not only about climate science but also about climate science. In democracy their views count, right or wrong. (People who present intentionally views that they don’t believe themselves are a different issue, but their number is not very large.)

    My own impression of the presentation of WG1 results in Stockholm was that it didn’t go well. There was, indeed, some appearance of inconsistency. In my view the correct message would have been that the main conclusions from WG1 had changed very little since AR4. There were some issues related to the hiatus, but there were at least equally strong factors in the opposite direction. The attempts to justify statements about increased certainty seemed to fail, however.

  23. Steven,

    the point is this. talk about the warmest decade appears to be talk about a short period.
    that is the scientist has the appearance of using a short time period to bolster the case.

    Well, yes, but it’s not that hard to realise that it is the warmest decade relative to all other relevant decades.

    The rest of what you’re saying appears to be a discussion of optimal communication, and I largely agree that there may be better ways to communicate. That seems somewhat different to what this paper is suggestion; which seems to be that there was an actual inconsistency, rather than an apparent inconsistency. Once we accept that the warmest decade refers to the warmest since 1960 (or the warmest in the instrumental temperature record) the real inconsistency goes away and – at best – it is an apparent inconsistency, and possibly a communication failure, rather than some kind of fundamental error.

  24. chris says:

    ATTP, the point is that it is Hollins/Pearce who are equating the asking of an “ill-posed” question with “scientific illiteracy”…this sentence is from the Hollins/Pearce paper:

    “Jarraud offered just such a dismissal to Rose’s question, which he claimed was “from a scientific point of view… what we would call an ill-posed question” (L827–828), essentially dismissing Rose as scientifically illiterate.”

    It’s a very odd thing to say – asking an ill-posed question is just an indication that one might have not grasped a partucular subtlety of the particular subject – it doesn’t mean that one is “scientifically illiterate” – I expect I ask ill-posed questions quite often! We can understand why David Rose chose to highlight this statement in his newspaper column – he’s a journalist (of a particular bent!). But why would academics create such a false and unmeaningful correspondence (i.e.: asking an ill-posed question equals “scientifically illiterate”)?

    If find this a little disturbing since meaning can be extracted from scientific results/ reports/statements. One can understand why David Rose might wish to garble meaning in support of his particular journalistic agenda. But why Hollins/Pearce? Their whole raison d’etre seems to be about the conveyance of meaning in a scientific context. Why not focus on Thomas Stocker’s response to Rose’s question which seems to me to have explained the issue quite well. Or why not make an effort to understand why Rose’s question was ill-posed outwith the confines of a question/answer session…

  25. Chris,
    Yes, I agree, and I did realise that. It is a little strange that they would infer this, rather than – as you say – try to understand why the question was ill-posed (I get the impression that they think it wasn’t) or maybe focus on Stocker’s response.

    Pekka,
    I agree that communicating climate science is difficult and that some might see “skeptic” arguments as reasonable, even if they aren’t. I certainly agree that condemning such people would be counterproductive. As for the WGI press conference, it may well not have gone well, but my view would be that there is a vast difference between a possible communication failure/apparent inconsistency, and them actually presenting an inconsistent position. Communicating this is difficult. Finding ways to improve communication would be valuable. I’m not sure that this is quite what this paper is doing.

  26. Joshua says:

    ==> ” That seems somewhat different to what this paper is suggestion; which seems to be that there was an actual inconsistency, rather than an apparent inconsistency.”

    Worse than that. it is blaming the supposed perception of uncertainty on the part of some generic person on how climate scientists communicate, while ignoring well-documented patterns in how people relate to evidence in highly polarized contexts involving risk perceptions in the face of uncertainty. Without reading it, I wonder if this paper’s conclusions aren’t best explained by confirmation bias. It isn’t as if we haven’t seen similar opinions expressed by at least one if the authors prior to publication of this paper.

  27. Joshua says:

    Near as I can tell, this paper draws a conclusion about cause-and-effect without providing actual evidence to support causality.

  28. I’ve just noticed Sou’s post. Sou has gone to the effort of actually reproducing the responses to Rose’s question. Stocker gave a response to the question. It was then asked again, and Jarraud said

    From a scientific point of view, your question is what we would call an ill-posed question. And it is based on somewhat a misunderstanding of how the model works.

    and then gave a lengthy explanation as to why. To suggest that Rose’s question was dismissed, seems remarkably disingenuous.

  29. Joseph says:

    I don’t see what is wrong with stating there is uncertainty around short term trends at the same stating that the last decade was the hottest on record. To me it seems that the thirty year trend is more certain that the decade trend, but the fact that the last decade was the hottest reinforces the notion that the trend is reliable.

  30. chris says:

    Yup disingenuous … or perhaps an an unwillingness to resist the opportunity for constructing seductive false narratives. What’s particularly concerning is that Hollins/Pearce profess to be particularly interested in the conveyance of meaning in a scientific context. And yet they seem to be either unequipped or unwilling to properly extract meaning from what are often rather carefully considered statements from others (especially scientists).

  31. Joseph says:

    Back to my previous comment, here a chart with decade averages (up to 2010). Seem to reinforce the overall trends to me.

  32. Michael 2 says:

    It is a worthy question to me and perhaps any on-the-fence skeptic as to how long observations must deviate from the models before the models are considered wrong. That estimate is doubtless personal but perhaps the field of statistics has an answer in terms of standard deviations and that sort of thing.

    It is exactly the kind of question a non-scientific, but interested, person will and must ask. It pertains to significance of the event, or in this case, non-event.

    When is global warming going to resume?

  33. Michael 2 says:

    chris says “Their whole raison d’etre seems to be about the conveyance of meaning in a scientific context.”

    I have a doubt that science exists for that purpose or that it is equipped to do that. “Meaning” is inherently subjective and emotional. It cannot be measured or quantified (IMO).

  34. chris says:

    I might just point out a couple of other instances in which Pearce, Pearce/Hollin rather blatantly misrepresent meaning:

    Pearce “Faced with these questions, scientists insisted that short-term temperature changes were irrelevant for climate science:” referring to:

    “we are very clear in our report that it is inappropriate to compare a short-term period of observations with model performance.” (Stocker L794–796).

    http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2015/06/08/ipcc-press-conference/#comments

    Hollin/Pearce: “This striking incoherence was noted by Alex Morales of Bloomberg News who asked why 15-year periods are considered by the speakers if they hold no scientific value (L965–969).” referring to:

    “You acknowledged, I’m down here right in front of you ((laughs)), you acknowledged that a fifteen year period is less relevant from looking at a climate point of view and thirty years is what you would normally look at.” (Morales L965)

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate2672.html

    In each case a rather nuanced (but not difficult to understand) argument concerning the appropriateness of considering particular short term periods in a particular context, are misrepresented as indicating that these periods are “irrelevant for climate science” or “hold no scientific value”…

  35. chris says:

    Incidentally, it’s “Hollin” and not “Hollins” as I’ve just realized.

  36. Sou says:

    The paper is all about David Rose (that and a mixed up message about some uncertainty monster that the authors were flogging). It’s leading up to David Rose and it’s framed around David Rose’s dumb question. (It wasn’t just an ill-posed question IMO, it was also a loaded denier question, and quite silly). If you read the transcript or watch the video, you’d think the paper was about some other press conference altogether. Except that David Rose features.

    The questions asked by journalists showed that they had a much better grasp of climate science than do the authors of this paper. The authors don’t even know the meaning of an “ill-posed question” from a scientific perspective, as Chris pointed out. And as Michel Jarraud explained at some length (in his reply to David Rose).

    I did not see any “incoherence” in the transcript. If Warren and Gregory couldn’t follow the science then all that means is that they aren’t as up to speed with the science as the journalists were. Some journos asked quite searching questions. (In their press release Warren and Gregory even said that temperatures declined during the “pause”).

    I agree that the message needs to be framed to the audience. However the purpose of the press conference was to inform *informed* people about the report, not the readers of the Mail. It’s then up to the journalists to write that up in a manner that suits their various audiences. The Mail has quite a different readership to the Guardian, for example. If David Rose were any good, he’d not have been feeding his readers disinformation, he’d have been translating the science into a simpler message that Mail readers could understand. (That’s not what the Mail is about, I realise. So he’s probably doing what he’s paid to do quite well. Sensationalise as much as possible, even if that means getting the science wrong.)

  37. Steven Mosher says:

    “Well, yes, but it’s not that hard to realise that it is the warmest decade relative to all other relevant decades.”

    Apparently it is hard for some people.
    #####################
    The rest of what you’re saying appears to be a discussion of optimal communication, and I largely agree that there may be better ways to communicate. That seems somewhat different to what this paper is suggestion; which seems to be that there was an actual inconsistency, rather than an apparent inconsistency.
    #################

    I dont disagree with that. They see the inconsistency as real. its not. Which kinda re inforces my point. it is hard for some people to see that talk about the warmest decade is talk about a short period.

    communicating in this environment is crazy hard.

  38. Willard says:

    Breaking news:

    It is “not just 2050 or the end of the century, but 2030, the kind of targets we are talking about will require a transformation in our energy sector,” the prime minister said.

    “We should not fool ourselves. Nobody is going to start to shut down their industries or turn off the lights. We have to find a way to lower carbon emitting energy.”

    http://news.nationalpost.com/news/world/harper-catches-a-break-when-g7-discussion-on-climate-change-reduced-to-half-an-hour-isil-discussed-instead

    ***

    More importantly, it’s 2-2 between the Black Hawks and the Lightning in the 3rd period of the 3rd game of the Stanley Cup.

  39. Michael 2 says:

    Sou says “So he’s probably doing what he’s paid to do quite well.”

    Yes; and my earlier comment speaks somewhat to this. You can take advantage of a reporter’s manipulative questions and use them as a springboard for what you want to say; or you can mimic a typical politician’s response which is to say whatever is scripted regardless of the question, or you can do what was done and refuse to discuss the topic or so it is made to seem and while your followers will always support you, the public, or as you put it, readers of the Mail, probably won’t.

    Reporters and journalists aren’t at your disposal. They aren’t “transformers” of the Message. They represent their readers and only their readers. The exception is common enough, when the owner of the publication wishes to push a message.

  40. MikeH says:

    @Willard

    This from Winston Churchill seems appropriate

    Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

    Quite significant for Australia given that Canadian PM Stephen Harper is Australian PM Tony Abbott’s international “bestie”

    Although his children will not likely be around to see it, Prime Minister Stephen Harper committed fossil-fuel rich Canada Monday to ending all production and use of carbon-based energy by the end of the 21st century.

    And go Black Hawks

  41. redbbs says:

    In 2010, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously copped flack for correctly stating that the Affordable (health) Care Bill (ACA) had to be passed into law so as to find out what’s in it.
    It was a statement of the bleeding obvious – society changing health policy had to be enacted so its efficacy can be tested and if necessary adjusted through regulation or amending legislation. That’s been the experience of every piece of universal health care legislation ever enacted on the planet.

    Nature Climate Change has misappropriated the Pelosi doctrine in its publication of this social science paper. It has published Hollins and Pearce, paywalled it, and it’s now waiting to discover what’s in it.

  42. OPatrick says:

    What is the ultimate consequence of never including your weakest piece of evidence?

  43. chris says:

    It’s clear that Pearce/Hollin have got rather caught up in the excitement of their own manufactured “thesis” which they are determined to pursue in the face of reality.This caught my eye is this in “Supplementary Data C: Extended Analysis of debate concerning ‘the pause’ during the press conference” (lines 62-65):

    “Stocker said, in response to a question on the cause of the pause that “I’m afraid to say there is not a lot of published literature which allows us to delve deeper at the required depth of this emerging scientific question” (L568-571) and also that “it is unfortunate that measurement systems do not yet permit a comprehensive and full global coverage” (L436-437). “

    However Stocker didn’t say that “in response to a question on the cause of the pause” at all. That’s simply a fabrication. Stocker made that comment in his opening statement – it wasn’t “in response to a question on the cause of the pause” and in fact has nothing to do with “the pause” at all as can be easily determined by reading the transcript. Note also that Pearce/Hollin have removed the last part of Stocker’s sentence from which they quoted (line 430-439 of the transcript):

    “This is the face of the surface of our planet, if you look at temperature. It is red. The world has been warming. The trend that you see is clearly given as colours of red, but we are also quite open to say that not in all locations of this planet we are able to make a robust assessment. These are the areas where you see no colour. It is unfortunate that measurement systems do not yet permit a comprehensive and full global coverage, not only about temperature but also about, on important variables such as precipitation.”

    I expect this isn’t dishonesty (false precis/ deliberately manufactured association of one statement with a concept to which it doesn’t belong). However at best it speaks of appalling scholarship (Pearce/Hollin is an academic paper not a blog post or a newspaper article). It says rather a lot about the two authors….

  44. chris says:

    I should make it clear if it isn’t obvious that the misrepresentation refers to the second of the two Stocker quotes (the first L568-L57) was in response to a question about the pause).

  45. Steven Mosher wrote “the point is this. talk about the warmest decade appears to be talk about a short period.”

    I agree, it might appear that way, but one would have hoped that science journalists covering the story would know enough about the scientific background not to make that mistake (e.g. by reading at least the summaries in the AR5 report itself). As I said, we need science journalists that understand enough of the science to be able to translate it into an appropriate form for the general public. Scientists should have appropriate training as well, but at the end of the day it is the science journalist job to communicate science, and we should be able to expect more from them than this.

    Having said which, I don’t think ill-posed questions should be simply dismissed; I think it is better to explain why it is ill-posed and try and answer the question as well as possible. However, given the rather nuanced report of this in the paper, I’d want to read the transcript to see exactly how Rose’s question was answered before agreeing that it was just dismissed.

  46. Chris,
    The L568 – L571 portion is a response to a question from Roger Harrabin. The L436-L437 does seem to be part of the opening statements, though.

  47. Dikran,
    I don’t know if you can access the Supplementary Information, but it’s lines 768-862. Dismissed in 100 lines 🙂

  48. Chris,
    Okay, I wrote my comment before your clarification.

  49. Michael 2 “It is a worthy question to me and perhaps any on-the-fence skeptic as to how long observations must deviate from the models before the models are considered wrong.”

    It is a reasonable question, but I suspect that part of the problem is a lack of distinction between “deviation” and “inconsistency”. I would say that if the observations lay outside the spread of the model runs for a year or so, and that this couldn’t be explained by deviations of the forcings from those of the scenario, then you might conclude that the models were substantially wrong. IIRC Gavin Schmidt has performed an analysis of this nature. However, even then it would not be clear that the models are wrong because they over-estimate warming, or because they under-estimate the plausible effects of internal variability, or a bit of both,

    Part of the problem is that the journalists and public often want simple answers to questions like this, but that is often an unreasonable expectation (which is why we have climatologists in this case).

  50. ATTP cheers,

    “TS: I may not be able here to give you a number. Certainly if we experience for the next twenty years constant temperature. I would say with great confidence that this is not an option given the emissions of greenhouse gases that we measure every year, at levels unprecedented, record emissions, and the relationship between warming and these emissions of greenhouse gases is a very robust one. But it is clear there are phases of natural variability, for example if we have a large volcanic eruption next year, or a couple of years from here, then we would expect, of course, cooling. “

    Is as direct an answer to Rose’s question as anyone could reasonably expect. And the answer from MJ certainly doesn’t just dismiss the question as ill-posed, as you say it is explained at length.

    I didn’t greatly object to the paper on first reading it, but having seen this, I do now. You would never guess how fully the question was answered from the description given in the paper (which is all most people would actually read, especially if they were inclined to agree with the argument made – we are all subject to confirmation bias). “disingenuous” is a remarkably restrained description IMHO.

  51. I think Sou has nailed it: http://blog.hotwhopper.com/2015/06/scientifically-illiterate-david-rose.html

    It’s useful to know a bit about the background to the authors of this paper. Sou describes them in her own inimitable style…

    “The paper is by one of the UK “deniophiles” called Warren Pearce, together with a post-doc at his university called G. J. S. (Gregory) Hollin, who looks to be studying autism. This unlikely pair somehow got their unlikely paper accepted and published in Nature Climate Change. I don’t know what the editors were thinking.”

  52. BBD says:

    Exactly my thoughts, John Russell.

  53. Sou says:

    The paper was rife with errors and misrepresentations, some of which Chris has picked up. I’ve added a couple more to my blog article. Who reviewed the paper is one question. (They should be avoided in the future – or maybe their reports were ignored.)

  54. To be fair, I’ve just had a reasonable Twitter discussion with Greg Hollin where he may have recognised that comparing decadal averages over a 160 year record (since 1850) isn’t short-term in the same sense as determining the trend for a period much less than 30 years.

  55. BBD says:

    Better late than never, I suppose…

  56. Willard says:

    > What is the ultimate consequence of never including your weakest piece of evidence?

    You can’t. Think about it.

    ***

    > [O]ne would have hoped that science journalists covering the story would know enough about the scientific background not to make that mistake (e.g. by reading at least the summaries in the AR5 report itself).

    One would expect that scientists can spell out mistakes without having to speculate on scientific background.

    ***

    > I agree [that talk about the warmest decade appears to be talk about a short period], it might appear that way,

    A decade is a short period. A decade is also shorter than da paws. The only way out of an accusation of a double standard is to explain how the double standard does not hold.

    One would have hoped that ClimateBall players have enough critical thinking background to see this, and comment accordingly.

    ***

    If you don’t like that last sentence, stop using that kind of sentence yourself.

  57. ATTP

    Who has ever suggested that short-term temperatures are – or even could be – attributed to AGW?

    Well…. the IPCC kind of gave that impression in earlier reports, at least for 15-year periods…..

    In the First Assessment Report published in 1990, the SPM says:

    Much of the warming since 1900 has been concentrated in two periods, the first between about 1910 and 1940 and the other since 1975

    This was published in 1990, so “since 1975” refers to a 15-year period.

    It then talks few sentences later about “the pattern of global warming since 1975”

    So back in those days, “global warming” was used to refer to surface temperatures over periods as short as 15 years. Obviously more recently the emphasis has correctly been on longer periods and a wider range of metrics, but nevertheless the IPCC itself sowed the seeds for a short-term focus on surface temperatures.

    Also this was not limited to just the first report. AR4 included a figure comparing model projections against observations over a 15-year period. This clearly seems to send the message that 15 years is a useful period to look at. Moreover, they (well, we!) presented multi-model means for the next 20 years which showed a clear upward trend of about 0.2C/decade, and although uncertainty bars were added on the side, these only reflected uncertainties in climate response and not internal variability. So, an open goal for easy criticism if variability happened to act against the anthropogenic forcing for the next decade or so (which it looks like it did).

    Of course statements on the role of variability are included elsewhere in the reports, and you can never completely mitigate against people who ignore (or don’t bother to read) such caveats in order to build a strawman argument, but nevertheless I think earlier IPCC reports did make it easier for people to criticise. Also, the scientific understanding has moved on, while that of some of the critics arguably has not…. but the unfortunate consequence of things moving on is that it can be construed as moving the goalposts. But there’s very little you can do about that other than taking great care to be transparent and objective.

    In AR5 I believe we did a much better job at comparing models against observations – see the Technical Summary box TFE.3.

  58. Willard says:

    > It’s useful to know a bit about the background to the authors of this paper.

    Why?

  59. Ceist says:

    Ironically, for an article about communication, it was very poorly communicated.

  60. Michael 2 says:

    redbbs says “In 2010, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously copped flack for correctly stating that the Affordable (health) Care Bill (ACA) had to be passed into law so as to find out what’s in it.”

    Correct, yes, but not right. I am dismayed that Congress passed a bill, well sort of not exactly passed, it was “deemed” to have passed, without knowing what is in it.

    Now the United States is doing it again! Passing a trade bill when hardly any members of Congress have bothered to read the super secret bill. Is that how democracy is supposed to work? Of course not.

  61. Richard,
    Thanks, but isn’t there a difference between discussing periods of warming/cooling and being specifically able to attribute that to AGW? That’s the distinction I was going for. The surface temperature datasets clearly show a warming period between 1910 and 1940, and another that starts in 1975 or so, but I still don’t think anyone has actually formally attributed a short period of warming to AGW – I think.

  62. ATTP

    You’re right, short periods of warming have not formally been attributed to AGW, and in the First Assessment Report no such attribution was possible (even for longer periods) as the models weren’t up to it until the SAR.

    However there has been bit of a habit of sometimes hinting at the connections, through the means I described above. eg. talking of “global warming since 1975” (admittedly without “anthropogenic”) and comparing the trends of anthropogenically-forced climate projections with observations over 15 years.

    This does relate to the confusion over the definition of the “hiatus” and whether “warming has slowed” and the kind of phrases that Lewandowsky et al were concerned about in their “seepage” paper. It comes down to what is meant by “global warming”. If it means simply runs of global mean surface temperatures for a few years or a decade or so, without any attribution, which is perfectly consistent with the phrasing in IPCC FAR, then yes the warming has been slower in the last 15(ish) years than 1975-1990 (as referenced in FAR) and 1981-2005 (as referenced in AR4). However if one specifically refers to anthropogenic global warming then this requires a focus on a longer period, 30 years or more. This is why, in my view, most of the “hiatus” debate is semantic.

    Having said all that, I don’t think the AR5 WG1 press conference panel did talk about short-term trends did they? They referred to the 2000s as “the warmest decade” but that’s about multi-decadal trends not a short-term trend. So they referenced the recent decade in the context of a longer term trend, but did not make claims about the significance of any short-term trend (as far as I remember – I’d have to go back and look at the transcript again).

    So I am kind of with you that the IPCC panel were not as inconsistent as Hollin & Pearce seem to think, but I can also see why (as someone says above) a non-expert audience might get a bit confused and perceive an inconsistency even when there was not one.

    Basically this does all go to show that communication of complex issues is really tough and sometimes you have to take pains to really spell things out. But as I say above, sometimes there is only so much you can do….

  63. Willard says:

    > AR4 included […]

    For the Rose episodes, AR4 is where to look. The AR5 did not exist at the time. The zeroth order draft existed, however. Another interesting ClimateBall episode. That’s when RichardB met the Auditor, I believe.

    ***

    Speaking of the Rose episodes, here would be my favorite:

    The ‘facts’ such as they exist, are the data; in this case the latest release of HADCRUT4. This is new data, so people haven’t yet had much time to analyze and interpret it. However these data end up being analyzed, the trend since 1997 is very small, much smaller than the decadal trend of 0.2C that we have been led to expect by the IPCC for the early part of the 21st century. The whole issue of cherry picking start and end dates is a red herring, as I’ve argued in my previous post Trends, change points and hypotheses. It depends on what hypothesis you are trying to test. If you are using data to evaluate the IPCC’s projection of 0.2C/decade warming in the first two decades of the 21st century, with plateaus or pauses at most of 15-17 yrs duration, well then you can pick whatever start date you want. It will be very interesting to see what Press Complaints Commission comes up with regarding Rose’s article

    http://judithcurry.com/2012/10/21/sunday-mail-again

    There’s much to say about that paragraph. I’ll simply observe for now that Judy’s conception of fact conflicts with mine. Data point to facts, they are not facts. The notion of fact is far from being unproblematic from an epistemological standpoint.

    Can’t blame journalists this time.

  64. anoilman says:

    Michael 2 says:
    June 8, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    “When is global warming going to resume?”

    Huh? There’s been no slow down or stop in global warming. I actually wonder if this year’s El Nino will result in a new trend from the denial community; “It hasn’t warmed since 2015!”

    Anyways, in answering your questions, we have yet to begin deviating. Please be sure to let me know if that ever starts to happen;
    http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/6/4/044022

    As for error margins, Hmm… Not too concerned. The models all show the possibility for monster climbs in temperature, and even monster declines during the inexorable rise in temperature. If we push outside the 95% confidence interval, I wouldn’t sweat it. All models show trends that push outside the confidence intervals of the ensemble averages.

    The trick will be if we can’t explain why its happening. And so far… we know. Please view the above graph again.

  65. Richard,
    Thanks.

    Having said all that, I don’t think the AR5 WG1 press conference panel did talk about short-term trends did they? They referred to the 2000s as “the warmest decade” but that’s about multi-decadal trends not a short-term trend.

    Exactly, and this seems to be the crux of what Hollin & Pearce have suggested.

    So I am kind of with you that the IPCC panel were not as inconsistent as Hollin & Pearce seem to think, but I can also see why (as someone says above) a non-expert audience might get a bit confused and perceive an inconsistency even when there was not one.

    Yes, this is true, but they were talking to journalists who – presumably – are interested in this topic, and Hollin & Pearce are from an STS background, so you’d think they could get this.

    Basically this does all go to show that communication of complex issues is really tough and sometimes you have to take pains to really spell things out. But as I say above, sometimes there is only so much you can do….

    It is tough, and sometimes there is only so much you can do. Make it too easy and you end up being criticised for patronising your audience. Make it too difficult and you get criticised for not being clear enough. Sometimes you just have to go for it and just do your best. Constructive criticism can help.

  66. Eli Rabett says:

    If you can get a fisking of a press conference published in Nature Climate Change, Eli and ATTP have been wasting their time.

  67. I suspect that this isn’t the only illustration that I’ve been wasting my time 🙂

  68. John Hartz says:

    From the horse’s mouth, so to speak …

    “The most meaningful things are often the least certain things and so that potentially leads to difficulties because scientists are being asked to make their results really meaningful, while being incredibly certain. And there are instances when that leads to real tensions,” Dr Hollin told The Independent.

    Climate change scientists urged to be more open to the public about uncertainties by Tom Bawden, The Independent, June 9, 2015

  69. BBD says:

    Sigh. Might as well be:

    Climate change scientists urged to stop hiding stuff from the public

  70. I tweeted Tom Bawden with the line numbers in the transcript, and a link to the transcript, where David Rose’s question was answered. Haven’t heard back from him.

  71. Michael 2 says:

    Willard says “Data point to facts, they are not facts. ”

    An interesting philosophical consideration. It is these non-fact data that move billions of dollars.

    By the way, I commend your awareness of the plural nature of “fact” and using correct verb agreement. In a few more years you and I will be “wrong” for doing so.

    Anything that exists is a fact (IMO), therefore a datum is itself a fact since a datum exists (once instantiated by recording it), but it represents something about something else. It is a token — a photograph, some words, a measurement. The token is handled, published, shared, argued as a proxy for the real thing, the “fact”.

    I suspect you know all this but it is a good reminder that this whole shebang revolves around tokens, measurements and models; which represent reality but is not itself reality. This also is a fascinating aspect of the “NF” personality trait; INFP in particular sees fantasy as real and reality as fantasy and if you want to communicate to such a person you enter their fantasy — if not, you don’t exist.

    Climate change has risk but I do not “feel” the danger; not like I feel it standing at the edge of a high place (thrilling and dangerous) or with a snarling rottweiler dog (not thrilling and very dangerous). Others obviously “feel” the danger of climate change and for them the danger is every bit as immediately threatening as a snarling dog. I comprehend the possibility but I have no “switch” to turn on (or off) my fear or lack thereof.

    In the absence of feeling fear, I must use my intelligence to discover the existence of danger and that requires evaluating claims of fact, or these tokens or proxies of fact, which for the bloody sake of convenience let is just call them “facts”.

    The question at hand, when is the pause going to end. Correctly guessing when the pause ends will build public confidence that the models are useful or “skilled”; failing to make a prediction, or refusing, or insisting there is no pause when clearly there is, or predicting incorrectly all have the consequence of suggesting that no skilled prediction is possible; either not yet or maybe ever.

  72. Michael 2 says:

    Richard Betts says “a non-expert audience might get a bit confused and perceive an inconsistency even when there was not one.”

    I suspect not as many are confused as you think; instead observing that press conferences tend to seek advantage or advocacy where it is convenient. In the past ten years or so it seems a great many reports of flood, drought, hurricane, snow or lack thereof blame it on or attribute it to “climate change” when it is convenient to the Message; but “weather” when inconvenient to the Message.

    This leads to easy dismissal — is there anything that cannot be blamed on, or attributed to, climate change? I doubt it — the list of things attributed to global warming is lengthy and at times amusing.

    That being the case then “climate change” is as natural as any other phenomenon that is as ubiquitous as day and night so learn to deal with it; it’s here.

    Scientists can do very little about it. It was never about “science.” Billions of dollars have never been spent on “science”; there’s always a social or political goal. Kennedy’s goal was to land a man on the moon — an American, specifically. Great politics and a huge stimulus to American industry.

    Inconsistencies exist because climate science is being used to pursue different goals; most of these goals require the science to be portrayed as “certain doom” unless “__”. I’ll admit that certain doom probably exists in one form or another; but that’s not the motive for moving billions of dollars (and skimming a bit of it while moving).

  73. BBD says:

    Thank you, ATTP. Filthy work, but someone has to do it.

    Sloppy (lazy) journalists f**k me right off.

  74. John Hartz says:

    Another article about the findings contained in the Hollings-Pearce paper…

    Climate Scientists Helped Create a Spurious Pause in Global Warming by Gayathri Vaidyanathan, ClimateWire /Scientific American, June 9, 2015

    The teaser for this article:

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change may be responsible for confusion about recent global warming

  75. Steven Mosher says:

    D.

    “I agree, it might appear that way, but one would have hoped that science journalists covering the story would know enough about the scientific background not to make that mistake (e.g. by reading at least the summaries in the AR5 report itself)”

    stop hoping. Either that or stop talking about the “warmest” stuff. More than a few times when we have discussed ( at staff) what kind of monthly and annual reports we should do, its been my position that we should just report the numbers and leave all of the ‘record warmth” stuff for other folks to do. Like ranking of years. My sense is I want people talking and thinking about the long term trends and the long term consequences.. So “its warmed x.yC since 1850.

    I know people want to ferret out every possible argument and pile up as much evidence as possible. Its what one does. ( I’m a coherentist– ask willard about quine ) . But I’m not so sure that works..

  76. JCH says:

    It has not warmed since March 2015. Really.

  77. Too bad about the mishap involving a reputable science journal.

    I think that much of this discussion would become moot if the variability of phenomena such as ENSO would become better understood. Of course the gang of intrepid physicists and mathematicians at the Azimuth Project are making progress in revealing the underlying causal behavior. So perhaps there is some daylight at the end of the tunnel for being able to compensate ENSO variability and therefore smooth the temperature signal.

    A couple of other denialist offshoots have also claimed to pin down ENSO but are hiding behind intellectual property excuses to not reveal exactly what they are doing. Would it be embarrassing for climate science to get scooped by denialists? Yes, and that’s why I completely fisked what one denialist fellow is claiming for his ENSO model. The tricky part is to figure out whether they are naively fooling themselves or fabricating these models on purpose.

  78. redbbs says:

    Publish and be damned careful.

  79. russellseitz says:

    ” I’ve been told before that my understanding of the whole Science and Technology Studies field is poor, which is possible.”

    Buck up– you’re talking less about a field than a samll magazine spin-off that make Bruno Latour look good., and Alan Sokal better.

  80. Willard says:

    > a field than a samll magazine spin-off that make Bruno Latour look good., and Alan Sokal better.

    Social Text is not an STS journal, and using Latour’s name to tar a whole discipline may not abide by Sokal’s content myth:

    What matters is never the origin of an idea, but its content […]

    http://www.physics.nyu.edu/sokal/le_monde_english.html

    I wonder if Alan ever explained what he means by “content” and if he did so in a way that would meet his own analytical standards of rigor. He usually handwaves to physics and exploits his audience’s naive conception if it. Herbert Simon once referred to a similar habit as theorem envy.

  81. Willard says:

    > If you can get a fisking of a press conference published in Nature Climate Change, Eli and ATTP have been wasting their time.

    This presumes that being published in Nature Climate Change wastes little time. This assumption can be disputed, and will, sooner or later. Some, including me, may argue that blogging should take precedence, in general when dealing with communication issues, and in particular for fisking press conferences. Here would be some arguments.

    Warren is now stuck with his blunders.

    Nature Climate Change is pay walled, and what’s not free is not worth being cited.

    The PR circus provides a light that overshadows what research really is.

    Formal publications foster the curse of knowledge:

    http://stevenpinker.com/publications/sense-style-thinking-persons-guide-writing-21st-century

    ***

    I could think of other arguments (it’s before breakfast here), but I have a Lego hotel to build.

  82. izen says:

    The beauty of the question:
    ‘how much longer will the so-called pause or hiatus have to continue before you would begin to reflect that there is something fundamentally wrong with the models?’

    is that it invites an answer – ‘when the temperature and model AGW predictions diverge significantly’
    – and the question batted back;

    ‘How much longer does the existing trend have to continue before you accept the AGW theory predictions as robust?’

  83. redbbs says:

    Michael 2
    How on earth can you compare the transparent legislative journey of Obama Care (ACA) to the recklessly fast tracked TPP? You may as well compare AR5 WG I to the George C. Marshall Institute.

  84. russellseitz says:

    As to The Great Naval Bucket Race , I can but agree

  85. Michael 2 says:

    redbbs says: “Michael 2: How on earth can you compare the transparent legislative journey of Obama Care (ACA) to the recklessly fast tracked TPP?”

    They share the unique property of “You have to pass it to find out what is in it.”

    Your definition of “transparent” seems to differ substantially from mine. A democracy cannot function if people do not know what they are voting for.

  86. Michael 2 says:

    Inasmuch as I have some meaningful comments here stuck in moderation for the past four days I wonder at the direction ATTP is taking. I am reminded of that STNG episode where a shrinking bubble universe existed with Beverly Crusher trapped inside; except she didn’t know it was a bubble universe.

    REDBBS’ comment suggests a drift into unreality when he calls “you have to pass it to find out whats in it” to be a “transparent legislative journey”. I fear my I.Q. might drop just reading stuff like that. Fortunately for me, Willard’s comments elevate my IQ as I contemplate the deep meanings hidden in his few words.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remember_Me_%28Star_Trek:_The_Next_Generation%29

    “Eventually, no one but Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and herself remain on the ship, but Picard believes that the situation is normal.”

  87. redbbs says:

    OK Michael 2 I’ll take you through it step by step.

    The Affordable Care Act started out as a Bill.
    All aspects of its scope and application are governed by things called words.

    Speaker Pelosi drawing on experience from universal health programs in the UK, Rwanda, Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Libya, Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa, and Tunisia, New Zealand, Australia, Bhutan, China, India, Singapore, Thailand, Austria, Denmark, France, Germany…..you know the rest….. needed to see how the WORDS in the the legislation did justice to its intent in complex applications (aka American society)

    Did you really expect the Congress to model all aspects of the ACA before passing it when the best way to model it is through IMPLEMENTATION.

    The future of the ACA is in the hands of SCOTUS as we type because some arsehole at the George Washington University was paid by the GOP to discover that the word State should only apply to states and not the State as in the federa…..you get my drift.

    No universal health care law (including my cherished Medicare in Australia) has ever been unmolested by amending legislation .
    Nothing was hidden within the Affordable Care Act.
    Everything is hidden by the fast track motion brought by the congressional GOP and downed on Friday by Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats in the Senate.

    If you can’t see the difference then you are incapable of determining difference.

  88. Pingback: Clarity of meaning | …and Then There's Physics

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