Rude and touchy

I’m off on holiday tomorrow. Just somewhere local, but it will be nice to get away and relax for a week. Some walking, some cycling, some relaxing and doing nothing, maybe a bit of eating good food and drinking nice wine; just what you need after a busy year. I don’t plan to do much blogging but I can’t help highlighting a recent article that reports on an interview with Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee for Climate Change.

What caught my eye was what he said with regards to Matt Ridley and Nigel Lawson:

Their influence is less and less I am happy to say. The facts of science, life and measured views of people like Pope Francis are undermining them. They have become just rude instead of arguing and they are so touchy.

I’ve discussed Matt Ridley and his views on a number of occasions and, in particular, how he can become rather touchy when criticised.

To be fair, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Matt Ridley being actually rude, but he does seem to make a habit of making fairly basic mistakes and then complaining when criticised. For someone with a background in science, he also seems to rather ignore some of the basics of the scientific method.

So, I’m obviously quite pleased to see someone with actual influence criticising these rather typical tactics: make stuff up, get criticised, whine if the tone isn’t absolutely perfect while completely ignoring the substance of the criticism. I note that Andrew Montford has also commented on the article, complaining that they’re smearing Matt Ridley because he doesn’t actually own a coal mine, he only owns land on which there is a coal mine; okay, that makes all the difference! The good thing about Andrew Montford’s article, though, is that it nicely illustrates the point that Lord Deben is making.

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92 Responses to Rude and touchy

  1. Rachel M says:

    I read that Lord Deben article too and was pleased for the same reasons. Enjoy your holiday!

  2. I guess Lord Deben gets to see Lord Ridley face-to-face on a regular basis in the H of Lords.

    Thank the Lord we don’t have to meet some of the climate denial wallys who we interact with on blogs. I’m acquainted with only one person who’s a proper denial-blog-reading ‘skeptic’ and when we’re working together he can’t help but bait me. Luckily his views are formed by the articles on WUWT so he’s quite easy to rebut, though his kelly-doll-ish ability to regurgitate memes is something to behold. I should add that I’m usually forced to counter him because there are other people present. Luckily he’s known as being something of a conspiracy theorist.

  3. The interesting thing about Lord Deben is that he’s a Conservative, illustrating – at least – that one’s views on climate change are not uniquely defined by one’s politics.

  4. Jim Hunt says:

    As luck would have it I was a fly on the wall at Portcullis House on Tuesday when Lord Deben made a stirring speech and Alan Whitehead staged a modest rebellion:

    More from me on all that in due course, once appropriate permissions have been obtained! For the moment I can reveal that amongst other things Lord Deben said:

    I want every MP, every week, to have at least one person in his or her surgery saying “What are YOU doing about climate change? What are YOU doing about energy efficiency?”. If everybody here made sure that they went to their MP between now and August 1st that would make a hugely important impact at this point.

  5. Re: Ridley’s coal mine. Did you see further down the BH thread someone posts a link to an interview where Ridley apparently says, “And it’s true that I have got personal investments in coal mining near my home; in fact, my family has been in it one way or another for a couple of hundred years. So, maybe I have a vested interest in carbon dioxide emissions.” [ http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2015/06/matt_ridley_on.html ]

    Clearly this admission undermines (excuse pun) Montford’s entire post. More importantly it explains why Ridley is in denial. Criticising fossil fuel emissions is criticising him and generations of ancestors.

  6. verytallguy says:

    …some cycling…

    just make sure you look after your tan lines in that Scottish sunshine

    Tan lines should be cultivated and kept razor sharp.

    http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/#7

  7. victorpetri says:

    I haven’t read much from Ridley where I thought him to be particularly rude.
    And despite owning land where coal is mined, he repeatedly argued against coal (in favor of gas).
    “You can’t possibly have confidence in a man who thinks he can improve the Pope’s ethics.”
    Is he a very religious person?

  8. john,
    That Andrew Montford’s post lacks comsistency is no great surprise. Be more of a surprise if it didn’t, to be honest.

    vtg,
    That sounds like golf too 🙂

    vp,
    I have no idea if he is religious or not.

  9. victorpetri says:

    @attp
    He must be religious as he seems to ascribe a certain papal monopoly on ethical thinking. People who think you cannot approve on the pope’s ethic sound quite dogmatic themselves.

  10. vtg,
    Did you see Montford’s response to Brendan Montague?

    The bigger the wayleave, the more reputable Ridley would be, because he is arguing for gas. That’s why your attempts to smear him are so dishonest. Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?

    Seems like a rather childish taunt to me. But, once again, no great surprise.

    vp,
    I have no idea what you’re on about and have no great interest in finding out.

  11. Jim Hunt says:

    Intriguing. It seems that weird sh1t does in fact happen from time to time:

    I wonder if these things come in threes?

  12. The interesting thing about Lord Deben is that he’s a Conservative, illustrating – at least – that one’s views on climate change are not uniquely defined by one’s politics.

    Outside of the Anglosphere it is normal for conservatives to accept the science. They still value their reputation and prefer not to make fools of themselves. Lying is also not part of the moral core of conservative thinking. They do see it as less important to do something about and easily find problems in legislation to solve to problem, but that does not necessitate acting like an idiot.

  13. verytallguy says:

    ATTP,

    I think your last was for JR40 rather than me. I can repeat my vents on Ridley from previous threads if you like, but I’m not sure if it would add anything 😉 Dignifying Montford with a response? No.

    Back to important matters. Any hills planned on the steed for that holiday?

  14. vtg,
    Yes, you’re right, it was John. Venting any further would probably be unnecessary and we certainly don’t want to degenerate to the level of BH 🙂

    Still working on those hills.

  15. Magma says:

    Touchy and rude, sure, but I thought the more substantive criticism was where Deben pointed out Lawson’s demonstrated past indifference to the same poor that he now uses as a prop.

  16. Magna,
    Indeed, and I think this is the crux of the matter. The argument that Ridley (and those who think that he talks sense) is essentially making is that the poor should be given the opportunity to become wealthier and that the only way to do this is to give them access to fossil fuel-based energy sources. There is no, as far as I’m aware, suggestion that anything pro-active should be done to help the poor; they should just be given the opportunity to help themselves. I don’t specifically disagree with the latter sentiment, in the sense that it should be the ultimate goal. I disagree, however, with the claim that the only possible way to do so is via fossil fuels and I particularly dislike the rhetoric that is typically associated with Ridley’s preferred ideas – “every other possible option will harm the poor and those who support those other options actively want to harm the poor”.

  17. Willard says:

    > I’ve ever seen Matt Ridley being actually rude

    Here’s Matt King Coal mindprobing:

  18. Willard says:

    Here’s Matt King Coal using the T word:

  19. Willard says:

    Here’s Matt King Coal quoting someone who uses the label “eco-pessimist”:

  20. Willard says:

    I could go on for hours. Matt King Coal retweeted this:

    Polite quips don’t hide Matt King Coal’s rudeness very well, at least from this side of the pond.

  21. Willard says:

    Badassociation:

    [T]he great thing about science is that it’s self-correcting. The good drives out the bad, because experiments get replicated and hypotheses put to the test. So a really bad idea cannot survive long in science.

    Or so I used to think. Now, thanks largely to climate science, I have changed my mind. It turns out bad ideas can persist in science for decades, and surrounded by myrmidons of furious defenders they can turn into intolerant dogmas.

    This should have been obvious to me. Lysenkoism, a pseudo-biological theory that plants (and people) could be trained to change their heritable natures, helped starve millions and yet persisted for decades in the Soviet Union, reaching its zenith under Nikita Khrushchev.

    http://www.mattridley.co.uk/blog/what-the-climate-wars-did-to-science.aspx

    Matt’s the new Galileo.

  22. The argument that Ridley (and those who think that he talks sense) is essentially making is that the poor should be given the opportunity to become wealthier and that the only way to do this is to give them access to fossil fuel-based energy sources.

    Not really a matter of “giving access”:

    As Modi sez: India Won’t Bow To Western Pressure On CO2 Emissions

    Which raises interesting questions.

    If undeveloped nations increase emissions, how are you going to stop them? sanctions on the poor? go to war over emissions?

    Now, I think India may be short-sighted increasing coal more than natural gas, because I think the same effects that make natural gas so cheap in North America will prevail world wide and I think natural gas will be cheaper in India, but when that happens they will probably switch.

    Fortunately, after achieving economic development, the pattern is back toward falling emissions, largely from market efficiency, also from slowing population growth. It appears that more and more countries already have falling CO2 emissions:

  23. Here’s a fun one.
    Look at the chart below and see, without any other information, if you can identify:

    1. the year that China was granted “Most Favoured Nation” trading status with the US, and
    2. the year that the working age population of China ( those aged 16 to 65 ) started declining

  24. TE,
    You’ve rather misunderstood my point. My point was simply that the basis of the Ridleyesque argument is not that we should actively help the poor. It is simply that he regards fossil fuels as the only way to help the poor and that anyone who disagrees is essentially arguing for policies that will harm the poor. Typically the latter quickly morphs into “such people actively want to harm the poor”.

    If undeveloped nations increase emissions, how are you going to stop them? sanctions on the poor? go to war over emissions?

    This is pure hyperbole. I really thought you were capable of avoiding misinterpreting what’s being said?

    Fortunately, after achieving economic development, the pattern is back toward falling emissions

    This is BS. I’ve never understood how someone as intellectually capable as yourself can sprout so much nonsense. There is no evidence for falling emissions.

  25. Fortunately, after achieving economic development, the pattern is back toward falling emissions

    This is BS. I’ve never understood how someone as intellectually capable as yourself can sprout so much nonsense. There is no evidence for falling emissions.

    You’re not looking at the data.

    Look again at the chart – the economically developed nations, ( Annex 1 the blues and greens ) have falling emissions. The same economic factors at work apply to developing nations as well.

  26. TE,
    Oh, so you’re referring to the small drop in emissions in developed economies which could well be due to outsourcing some of their emissions to the developing world. Globally emissions are rising – apart from 2014 that was, apparently, the same as 2013. That it might be possible to reduce emissions once an economy has developed, does not change that if we continue as we are, globally emissions will increase.

  27. Joseph says:

    Fortunately, after achieving economic development, the pattern is back toward falling emissions, largely from market efficiency, also from slowing population growth.

    TE, How long do you think it is going to take to achieve global economic development comparable to the industrialized nations, when we have around 4 billion people in poverty? I think they have very long way to go.

  28. Jim Hunt says:

    Just in case anybody else in here wants to do their bit to assist Lord Deben’s noble cause, the campaign continues:

    Any chance of some more “Retweets”?

  29. matt says:

    JR,

    > “Criticising fossil fuel emissions is criticising him and generations of ancestors.”

    I don’t think the latter is true (and I’m guessing you would agree). Were you trying to say – MR might believe “Criticising fossil fuel emissions is criticising him and generations of ancestors”. Or do you believe that “Criticising fossil fuel emissions is criticising him and generations of ancestors”. Hmmm… does not read well. Trying to make the point that fossil fuel advocates/profiteers (some of whom are MRs ancestors) cannot be criticised for unknowingly creating a a significant problem. Intent is important.

  30. matt says:

    Not that I am saying MRs intent is bad. Only he knows. But he should be criticised cos he actively promotes nonsense against a wealth of scientific knowledge. His ancestors did not have such knowledge.

  31. @matt.
    I’m struggling to see your point. I’ll clarify what I meant.

    When Matt Ridley hears people criticising his involvement in mines I’m saying that, because it was an inheritance, he interprets that criticism as also a reflection on family members such as his father. I’m suggesting that’s probably putting him on the defensive and is one of the reasons for his denial.

    And to clarify further. I don’t think anyone can be blamed for any actions that produced emissions prior to the mid 1990s. It just wasn’t anything that was discussed much in those days. That all changed once scientists started coming out with warnings and denial started to raise it’s head.

  32. “measured views of people like Pope Francis”

    The sudden conversion of environmentalists to the Catholic cause is a constant source of amazement and merriment.

  33. Richard,
    Well, yes, in a sense I agree. If I was you, though, I wouldn’t be too smug. I suspect many people laugh at what you say and do too.

  34. Jim Hunt says:

    Richard,

    According to Wikipedia at least, Lord Deben “converted to the Catholic Church in 1992, having previously been a practising Anglican and a member of the General Synod of the Church of England.”

  35. @Jim H
    I was not referring to John Gummer.

  36. verytallguy says:

    Richard Tol,

    I find myself in strong agreement with you, both on your 4.23 *and* your refusal to adopt the lickspittle feudal conventions of the antidemocratic British upper house of parliament in your 6.01

    You may wish to reconsider your views?

  37. Jim Hunt says:

    Richard,
    You did quote him however . Who could you possibly have been thinking of if it wasn’t Lord Deben?

  38. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    ==> “The sudden conversion of environmentalists to the Catholic cause…”

    Do you have any actual evidence of any “conversion” to “the Catholic cause?”

    I man any?

    At all?

  39. Sam taylor says:

    Tol appears to be confused. It’s the conversion of the pope to the cause of environmentalism that people approve of. Such a basic misunderstanding causes me amazement and merriment.

  40. @verytallguy
    No. I do not change my opinion because someone else does or does not share it.

    @jim h
    I assume that people are well-read.

  41. Richard,
    I may be wrong, but I don’t think VTG actually expected you to do so.

  42. verytallguy says:

    Well Richard, that’s pretty fucking selfish if you don’t mind me saying so.  

    You aren’t man enough to change *your* opinions,  so now I have to uproot *my* entire belief system and start again.  I obviously can’t be agreeing with the likes of you.   I clearly need something catholic – this lot look pretty authentic and should have a very low carbon footprint:

    http://www.trappists.org/

    (terrible confession of a miserable sinner – may not be unrelated to an upcoming trip here http://chimay.com/en/ )

    [Note to mod – rude & touchy enough yet? I could try harder. ..]

  43. Steven Mosher says:

    I am puttting all your comments through this

    http://the-digital-reader.com/2015/07/19/ibm-watson-tone-analyzer/

    Imagine a plugin that would adjust tone

    or one that could fix climateball

  44. Steven Mosher, nice try the IBM tone analyser, but my last post has almost the same tone as the last Tim Conspiracy Ball WUWT post. As long as the tool does not see the difference, I would say there is work to do. 🙂

  45. BBD says:

    Steven

    Perhaps a little less high horse about ClimateBall from the author of Climategate: The CRUTape Letters would be appropriate here.

  46. Jim Hunt says:

    Dear Richard,

    Getting back to Lord Deben and energy efficiency for a moment, and as the There’s Physics resident economist, can you explain to me the rationale (economic or otherwise) behind this bit of the so called “Productivity Plan”?

    The government does not intend to proceed with the zero carbon Allowable Solutions carbon offsetting scheme, or the proposed 2016 increase in on-site energy efficiency standards.

    Thanks in anticipation,

    Jim

  47. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    ==> “==> “The sudden conversion of environmentalists to the Catholic cause…”

    I’m still waiting for some evidence to support your statement. Without providing that, you might run the risk of people thinking that you were merely posting a baseless antagonistic comment just to rile people up – and you certainly wouldn’t want to besmirch your stellar reputation and elevated status as a serious academic.

  48. verytallguy says:

    Joshua,

    “The sudden conversion of environmentalists to the Catholic cause…”

    Imposing a literalist interpretation on RT seems, well, overly touchy.

    The meaning seems very clear to me, and the point is reasonable. Does it need spelling out?

  49. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Jim
    I don’t know why the government decided this, as I am not privy to their discussions.

    There is an acute shortage of affordable houses in this country, so it makes sense to make house-building cheaper and faster.

    I would not list as a measure to improve productivity. It does in a statistical sense: Cheaper houses allow for lower wages. Productivity is defined as output per worker over wage per worker, so lower wages mean higher productivity. However, we would normally focus on higher output, because that would allow for higher wages.

  50. dikranmarsupial says:

    Even if you disagree in general with some group you ought to still be able to give praise where it is due when they say something with which you agree. Indeed, it is an indication of you own irrationality if you can’t or are overly reticent in doing so. Trying to use an example of this as implied criticism doesn’t add much to the discussion AFAICS, it is just more empty rhetoric IMHO. “The sudden conversion of environmentalists to the Catholic cause…” is just a hyperbolic misrepresentation of the reality, i.e. “Catholics have been saying things about climate change that environmentalists largely agree with (news at 11)”.

  51. Joshua,

    you might run the risk of people thinking that you were merely posting a baseless antagonistic comment just to rile people up

    I think that ship has sailed.

    dikran,
    Yes, I agree. Dismissing the encyclical simply because it is from the Catholic Church would qualify as an ad hom. That would be like dismissing Matt Ridley’s views because he was Chairman of the first UK bank to have a run on its finances for more than 100 years. That’s certainly not why I dismiss what he says; it’s mainly because it appears to be mostly cherry picking evidence to suit his policy preferences. I agree, too, that claiming that environmentalists have suddenly converted to the Catholic cause is a bizarre way to present this; it’s clear – as you say – that the Catholic Church is now saying things that environmentalists largely agree with.

  52. anoilman says:

    BBD: Is anyone at all still falling for the garbage about so called climate gate? I thought that was relegated to conspiracy theories and tin foil hats at this point;

  53. When it comes to the subject of risk management I’d contend dismissing Matt Ridley’s views because he was Chairman of the first UK bank to have a run on its finances for more than 100 years, is quite appropriate. 🙂

  54. verytallguy says:

    Dikran/ATTP,

    Yes, it’s good that the Catholic Church is behaving rationally on this front and that should be acknowledged.

    However, the general tenor has been, “People should now support this because it carries the moral authority of the Catholic Church”. Here, for instance, is Damian Carrington in the Guardian:

    “… the moral force the pope brings to bear may kindle that most fragile necessity: political will. Second, his declaration of the atmosphere as a common good, owned by all for all, may help settle the enduring argument about which nations have the responsibility to act. The rich owe the poor, he says.”

    Well, I’m sorry, but for me, the Catholic church is all over the place morally on environmentalism, and has been roundly opposed for its stance on birth control by many of the same people now attempting to use its moral authority as a lever on climate change.

    Fundamentally, the Catholic Church does not derive it’s teachings from scientific facts – which is the whole basis of the movement to limit CO2 emissions.

    Caveat emptor.

  55. Willard says:

    > I would not list as a measure to improve productivity.

    It would be possible, though: among the many measures to improve ClimateBall productivity, a tol could measure the number of points a drive-by commenter succeeds in ignoring.

  56. vtg,

    Well, I’m sorry, but for me, the Catholic church is all over the place morally on environmentalism, and has been roundly opposed for its stance on birth control by many of the same people now attempting to use its moral authority as a lever on climate change.

    Yes, I agree completely. I’m pleased that the Catholic Church is taking this issue seriously, but arguing that it should be taken seriously because it carries the moral authority of the Catholic Church is very weak. In fact, I was trying to think of a way to explain my discomfort with this whole issue, and I think you’ve just articulated what I was thinking but couldn’t quite put into words.

  57. OPatrick says:

    arguing that it should be taken seriously because it carries the moral authority of the Catholic Church is very weak

    I don’t believe that is what Damian Carrington is saying. He’s making two points: first that the Pope is putting forward a clear, moral case; secondly that the Pope does have significant influence on questions of morality, by virtue of being the leader of a multinational faith. He is not, in my view, taking a position on whether the Pope’s influence on questions of morality is justified.

  58. Jim Hunt says:

    Thanks Richard.

    Your explanation seems to tie in with the only one Alan and I could come up with in the heat of the moment. An unthinking knee jerk reaction to “cut red tape” whilst remaining wholly ignorant of the unfortunate side effects of so doing.

  59. dikranmarsupial says:

    VTG as far as I can see, the paragraph you quote does not say “People SHOULD now support this because it carries the moral authority of the Catholic Church” but instead implies “People MAY now support this because it carries the moral authority of the Catholic Church”, which is not the same thing.

    Science cannot settle the moral argument of what to do about climate change, it is just outside it’s remit and I think it is better to make a clear distinction between the science and moral aspects of the discussion (no problem with discussing them together). Hume’s book on why we disagree about climate change is well worth reading on this topic and makes many useful (if moderately obvious points) [although most of his subsequent writing* in the media/blogs seems pretty misguided to me]. We need both scientific and moral levers; we need to get the science right (so that we know the likely outcomes of different courses of actions) and we need to understand the moral/political/social issues so that those who bear the responsibility are correctly identified and come to realize they ought to do something about it (rather than leaving it to those who are most affected). The moral/political/social aspects are not nearly as straightforward as the scientific aspects IMHO.

    I largely agree about birth control, but it is not really fair to say that “the Catholic Church does not derive it’s teachings from scientific facts “, it derives SOME of its teachings on this from scientific facts, and others from its theological tradition; history won’t be changed overnight, and hostility to positive moves is unlikely to make it change any faster. The current Pope seems to be a rather good one (and not just on the environment).

    * for example if we shouldn’t mention consensus, how should we respond to those making the argument that there is no consensus (which evidently is an effective strategy in the public debate on climate change).

  60. Joshua says:

    vtg –

    ==> “The meaning seems very clear to me, and the point is reasonable. Does it need spelling out?”

    I think that it does need spelling out – as I think that Richard’s comment amounts to a polemic and an ad hom, as opposed to an actual argument. It’s broad stroke, guilt-by-association. So that brings us to this:

    ==> “…and has been roundly opposed for its stance on birth control by many of the same people now attempting to use its moral authority as a lever on climate change.”

    I think that “attempting to use its moral authority as a lever…” needs some specificity. Who, specifically, are you accusing of being hypocritical? What are they saying that you find hypocritical?

    Of course, someone can disagree on moral terms with an institution’s doctrine on one issue and agree with the moral frame of that institution’s doctrine on another. That is distinguishable from criticizing an institution’s moral stance on one issue and then in contradiction elevating that institution’s moral stance to be infallible because of alignment on another issue.

    Can I only legitimately reference the moral authority or people or institutions that I consider to be infallible?

    It is also distinguishable from pointing out that others, who hold an institution’s moral authority as being inherently superior, are then being hypocritical by failing to abide by that institution’s moral authority w/r/t another issue (because of ideological disagreement on that issue).

    The bottom line, IMO, is whether a rhetorical approach advances or detracts from good faith discussion.

    You think that Richard’s point was reasonable. Do you think that it advances discussion? I disagree. I think that it, essentially, trashes a useful discussion in a juvenile manner.

  61. verytallguy says:

    Dikran, Joshua,

    two long replies which I apologise, I simply don’t have the time to do justice in replying to. I’ll have to leave you to it. Sorry.

    Dikran, I’ll see if I can get Hume’s book for holiday reading.

  62. On the Pope, Christianity has always been divided between dominion and stewardship. That someone who called himself Francis comes out on the side of stewardship should not surprise anyone (although Laudato Si took it to a new level with Universal Communion). Francis’ Bolivarian sympathies have long been apparent too.

    At the same time, Francis maintains the traditional position on birth control, sexuality and gender, while making haste slowly on matters of abuse.

    I find it amusing that people who would normally strongly disagree with the Pope now cite him as an authority.

    And no, Laudato Si did not put forward a new argument or new evidence. The passages on climate change and the environment are just standard fare that could have been written 20 years ago.

  63. “Perhaps a little less high horse about ClimateBall from the author of Climategate: The CRUTape Letters would be appropriate here.”

    high horse?
    I prefer a low pony.

    It would be cool to create a climateball bot. The tactics of climateball are not limited to climate.
    they pre exist it and never go away. I’d like to automate and perfect it.

  64. Richard,

    And no, Laudato Si did not put forward a new argument or new evidence. The passages on climate change and the environment are just standard fare that could have been written 20 years ago.

    So what? Did you really expect the Catholic Church to present new evidence? How could they? The significance – IMO – is that they’ve publicly presented the position that they have, not that it’s somehow new. Presumably your basic argument is that this has all been said before and it didn’t do much then, so why will it be any different now? The problem with that argument – IMO – is that you need to also consider the role of organisations that present mis-information and actively try to prevent us from addressing this issue? The Global Warming Policy Foundation being one of those organisations.

  65. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard Tol wrote “I find it amusing that people who would normally strongly disagree with the Pope now cite him as an authority.”

    I don’t think anybody is citing him as a *scientific* authority though, and are aware that he is just better advised than some. There isn’t really anything ironic about this (as I explained earlier), it is just that these “people who would normally strongly disagree with the Pope” are just demonstrating that they are reasonable and rational, rather than dominated by partisan animosity. Well done them.

  66. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richad Tol wrote “And no, Laudato Si did not put forward a new argument or new evidence. The passages on climate change and the environment are just standard fare that could have been written 20 years ago. ”

    You could say much the same about a lot of what it is in the IPCC reports – how much do you think the basics of climate physics has changed over the last 20 years?

    Now the idea that the Vatican should be a source of new evidence on climate change IS ironic!

  67. Rob Nicholls says:

    “It would be cool to create a climateball bot.” I agree, although I find that I often struggle to understand things that people write on blogs; teaching a machine to parse this kind of stuff is beyond me. I thought about developing an automated climate change denial article generator a while back, but that seemed quite challenging. Most of the fairly straightforward software projects that I try in my own time don’t really work, and this is a bit more difficult.

  68. dikranmarsupial says:

    It could be the basis of a Turing test – the ability to produce BS indistinguishable from that of a human.

  69. I’m sure Richard Tol knows damn well that no one from a science perspective has cited the Pope “as an authority”. Rather they, and I, simply welcome his intervention because of his huge influence: for maybe he’ll convince some of the people who’ve been more influenced by the denial lobby than by scientists.

    When all is said and done I, for one, only want action on climate change. Then when the whole world is singing from the same hymn sheet I’ll be happy never to think about the science again. I’ll leave that to the experts: climate scientists.

  70. “Steven Mosher, nice try the IBM tone analyser, but my last post has almost the same tone as the last Tim Conspiracy Ball WUWT post. As long as the tool does not see the difference, I would say there is work to do.”

    I would have to see how they were generating the ‘tone” markers. Tone is really hard even for humans to read ( see sarcasm which is befuddling automated content analysis of twitter and FB) One may have to start by doing a “topic” analysis first as the tone of a word can change as a function of topic.

    Hmm.

    Long ago.. ( like 1985) I was trying to work on NLG or natural language generation which is the flip side of natural language processing.. waay too early.. The motivation strangely enough was to demonstrate that you could generate a text ( in my case poems) that could fool a reader.
    Even with strange texts ( posted on my door ) people would come along and assume a human had written them and start ascribing intention to the author.. when in fact there was no ghost in the machine just a set of rules for picking words. Hmm one of my profs at NU did his own twist on this.
    http://oak.conncoll.edu/cohar/Programs.htm

    Hmm conceptually I was seeing language as a virus. trying to explain how this plays into a theory of texts and reading.. well beyond the scope of a comment here.

    Any way, the idea was to represent the process of generating a texts a process of various choices. I can say that the mid 1980s was the wrong time to try to bring math and language together. The notion, back then, that you could bring math or stats to bear on creative texts was .. well.. kinda out there.. Today… its a different story

    So, you start with a chomsky style Tree Grammar which gives you a blank tree to fill in and then you choose words from a vocab. Think about a million monkeys choosing letters.. except this monkey knows the structure of language and has vocab of words that can be selected.. and then he has buckets of words that fit certain subjects and certain tones..In other words.. you cant just randomly select letters to generate a text, rather you choose from buckets of words in a certain order.. you could use a markov process with transitional probabilities or a tree grammar with node probabilities…

    here is an interesting talk on topic modelling. in this case modelling science. where the question of how one models the data generation process is discussed.

  71. Joshua says:

    vtg –

    In lieu of you having the time to respond…a few thoughts…

    Look at this:

    ==> “I find it amusing that people who would normally strongly disagree with the Pope now cite him as an authority.”

    First, note that despite the repeated requests for evidence, what we get instead is repeated, evidence-less hand waves to assign guilt-by-association. Who is “cit[ing the Pope] as an authority?” An authority on what?

    Second, note the implied arguments:

    (1) we can only reference someone’s moral authority if we agree with them on all issues and consider them infallible
    .
    (2) we can’t value, let alone note, the influence of someone who is considered by many to be in a position of moral authority unless we agree with that person on all issues and consider them infallible.

    If there weren’t a history of Richard making similar, vacuous and rhetorically divisive comments, then maybe it would be easier for me to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one. IMO, you’re straining a bit too hard to link up the reasonable issues you and Anders began to discuss with anything “reasonable” in Richard’s comments.

  72. Willard says:

    > I’ll see if I can get Hume’s book for holiday reading.

    Here you go:

    http://www.18th.eserver.org/hume-enquiry.html

    For Hulme’s book, there are chapters lying around on the Intertubes.

  73. “(1) we can only reference someone’s moral authority if we agree with them on all issues and consider them infallible”

    There is another extreme here that lives in the same space.

    http://www.livescience.com/20107-heartland-climate-change-billboards.html

  74. BBD says:

    Steven

    I don’t really follow this. Who or what exactly are you criticising and what for?

  75. “I don’t really follow this. Who or what exactly are you criticising and what for?

    bad assumption.

  76. BBD says:

    Steven

    As I said, I don’t see what you are trying to say, so some clarification would be welcome. Just batting back doesn’t really help.

  77. FLwolverine says:

    BBD, I think he’s trying to express the concept that if you think someone is despicable and evil and you condemn things they’ve done, then you can’t agree with them on anything.

    But I could be wrong. I could really use a translator for a lot of things that are said on here.

    But while I’m commenting – aTTP, I enjoy your blog, even when I don’t understand it all. I hope you will continue it. I appreciate your attempts to maintain civility, although on occasion I think you are too nice.

  78. John Hartz says:

    Pope Francis is an agent of change on many fronts. That is whay those with a vested interest in maintaining BAU are wagaing a propaganda campaign against him and his inititaitves.

    Here’s an example of how the Pope is mobilizing world opinion on climate change and eradicating poverty…

    Anyone who thought that Pope Francis was going to issue his climate change manifesto, and then recede quietly into the background on the issue was sorely mistaken.

    In fact, judging from his agenda this week, it’s clear that Francis intends to be a major player in spurring leaders to combat global warming, which he sees as inextricably linked to efforts to lift the plight of the world’s poor.

    This week, the Vatican’s science committees will host two days of meetings with 50 mayors and governors from around the world; they will discuss ways to implement policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, boosting resilience to climate extremes and eradicating poverty.

    Pope Francis convenes world’s mayors to discuss global warming by Andrew Freedman, Mashable, July 19, 2015

  79. guthrie says:

    BBD et al – I think he’s actually having a go at Tol, following Joshua’s point re. the stupidity of Tol’s arguments.

  80. russellseitz says:

    Before condemning Matt Ridley’s technostalgia, recall that the first exibit confronting visitors to the Crystal Palace in 1851 was a 24 tonne lump of the Northumbrian coal that besides running all the steampunk mechanical exhibits, furnished the gas that lit the place.

    If ATTP really wants a vacation from the Climate Wars , he might consider Pluto.

  81. Rob Nicholls says:

    Dikran Marsupial: “It could be the basis of a Turing test – the ability to produce BS indistinguishable from that of a human.” that sounds difficult enough to me, although for a real challenge see http://xkcd.com/329/

  82. Eli Rabett says:

    As everybunny, Eli agrees with the Pope on some things and disagrees with others. The agreement ratio has increased with Francis as against Benedict. Why this should bollix Richard is one of those things that only Richard can explain.

    Oh yeah and there is reason to believe that Francis may have had enough training to evaluate the scientific arguments on some level. However, wrt, the past previous Popes, they appear to have selected excellent scientists for the Pontifical Academy and that must be given due diligence too

  83. John Hartz says:

    Here’s another conundrum for Richard:

    Almost 60% of Africans believe that climate change is the single-most important threat facing the continent. They place this issue above fears about the economy or terrorism, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.

    Chart: Africans think climate change is a bigger threat than economic instability by Omar Mohammed, Quartz, July 15, 2015

  84. russellseitz says:

    If the Papal Academy has become an extension the Potsdam Institute by other means, the process began under Cardinal Ratzinger.

  85. Jim Hunt says:

    Russell – A bit like this you mean?

    http://econnexus.org/pope-benedict-on-climate-change/

    Perhaps reluctantly, we come to acknowledge that there are scars which mark the surface of our earth – erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world’s mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption.

  86. dhogaza says:

    John Hartz:

    “Here’s another conundrum for Richard:

    Almost 60% of Africans believe that climate change is the single-most important threat facing the continent. They place this issue above fears about the economy or terrorism, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.”

    I don’t think this will be a problem for Richard. There’s a long history of Europeans believing that they, rather than Africans, know what is best for Africa.

  87. Andrew Dodds says:

    Rob Nicholls –

    [Comment contains live bobcat]

  88. Rob Nicholls says:

    Thanks Andrew Dodds. I’ll still give you a good feedback score.

    Steven Mosher’s comment on natural language generation makes me wish I knew more about Artificial Intelligence in general. I’ll do some reading.

  89. Eli Rabett says:

    Russ: As Eli said, in much the same way as the RS and the NAS, the memberships of the PAS has always been pretty distinguished if a bit fusty.

  90. Andrew Dodds says:

    Rob –

    I’ve done a few online courses in AI, the best being Geoffery Hinton’s :

    https://www.coursera.org/course/neuralnets

    I’m not sure the course is being run again, GH seems to have been acquired by the Google Not-Evil-Honest-Guv AI division. (Motto: Don’t mention Skynet).

    It is quite interesting/scary as to what they can do. And what may be slightly unexpected is that running a trained neural network is not very expensive in computational terms (which is why your mobile phone can do speech recognition); the hard bit is training the things.

    Regarding language processing, try this kind of thing:

    http://karpathy.github.io/2015/05/21/rnn-effectiveness/

    Fundamentally, any attempt to do this deterministically will fail (i.e. with known categories of words), because that’s not how humans do language.

  91. Jim Hunt says:

    Richard,

    It appears that many of the great and the good in Great British business agree with your recent “productivity” analysis:

    Should we impeach HM Treasury & BIS?

  92. Johnl says:

    As Dr. Rabett implies a list of Nobel prize winning members includes some highly respected names:
    Ernest Rutherford (Chemistry, 1908)
    Guglielmo Marconi (Physics, 1909)
    Alexis Carrel (Physiology, 1912)
    Max von Laue (Physics, 1914)
    Max Planck (Physics, 1918)
    Niels Bohr (Physics, 1922)
    Werner Heisenberg (Physics, 1932)
    Paul Dirac (Physics, 1933)
    Erwin Schrödinger (Physics, 1933)
    Peter J.W. Debye (Chemistry, 1936)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontifical_Academy_of_Sciences#Nobel_Prize-winning_members

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