What is it with journalists and AGW?

I managed to get blocked by Peter Hitchens last night. Apparently I’m an intolerant, arrogant, fanatic, who was a little bit patronising. The irony was that the exchange started with him ranting at me was because I had the temerity to suggest that maybe rather than missing the evidence about AGW, he simply didn’t understand it, and it ended with him asking me – at 10pm on a Saturday night – to explain two papers I had sent him. Well, not only was it late, but if someone is going to get upset when I ask if maybe they misunderstand the evidence, then I’m going to assume that that’s because they do understand the evidence; I shouldn’t then have to then explain it to them, especially when being called an intolerant, arrogant, fanatic.

What was interesting was watching a Twitter exchange between Chris Colose and Peter Hitchens. Chris was trying to explain the basics of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) to Peter Hitchens, who seemed to suggest that he regarded what Chris was saying as being wrong, while – at the same time – appearing to not even understand the terminology that Chris was using. Of course, people can hold any opinion they like, but how can someone have an informed view about AGW if they don’t even understand the concepts of energy conservation and radiative transfer? These are fundamental, so having a view about AGW would seem to at least require understanding that these concepts exist and why they’re relevant.

Peter Hitchens isn’t, however, alone in this respect. There seem to be a number of journalists; Rose, Booker, Delingpole, Ridley (yes, I know he has a PhD, but in this context he’s a journalist) who seem to think that they can have their own view about the credibility of AGW, but don’t seem to even understand the basics that underpin this scientific concept. They presumably would not do this when it came to other scientific concepts. Do they publicly dispute the existence of dark matter, the Higgs Boson, black holes? No, of course not, that would be silly. However, somehow they feel qualified to dispute the reality of AGW and either argue with scientists who try to explain this to them, or block them (and it isn’t just me, Gavin Schmidt has been blocked too).

I realise that the reason is probably because of the potential consequences of AGW being real, but it still seems a little bizarre. Surely bright people can distinguish between the scientific position, and what that scientific position might suggest. One should be able to accept the reality AGW and still argue against wind turbines, for example. That many journalists who typically argue against AGW also dispute its reality, makes me think that deep down they know that if they do accept it’s reality, then their arguments against addressing it collapses. Maybe as an exercise they could try to see how their basic arguments would change if they did accept the reality of AGW, or is that just too much to expect?

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65 Responses to What is it with journalists and AGW?

  1. That many journalists who typically argue against AGW also dispute it’s reality, makes me think that deep down they know that if they do accept it’s reality, then their arguments against addressing it collapses.

    For social Darwinsts another reason may be that rejecting the science is more socially acceptable as the real reason why they are against mitigation.

  2. Victor,
    I’m not sure I follow. Are you suggesting that they need a reason to argue against mitigation and hence reject the science?

  3. Having watched Peter Hitchens on Sunday Morning Live, it is possible that I’m being a little unfair in this article. It seems that he feels comfortable disputing the evidence in areas other than climate science. A polymath?

  4. Marco says:

    ATTP, you say “Do they publicly dispute the existence of dark matter, the Higgs Boson, black holes? No, of course not, that would be silly”.

    It’s not because it would be silly, but because they do not consider it important enough for their ideology.

    For example, Hitchens *will* dispute the existence of the Higgs boson, if it were to challenge his (in this case religious) beliefs. Hitchens already played an important role in the MMR vaccine = autism controversy, somewhat ironically still suggesting that although proof is missing, the NHS should change its vaccination scheme anyway to be sure. When it comes to climate change we apparently need to be 100% sure, and if it is up to him, we will never be.

    Delingpole would do the same – remember e.g. his completely incompetent claims about asbestos throughout the years. Evolution does not quite have Booker’s approval, he prefers to believe the IDers (more commonly known as cdesign proponentsists). In other words, you *will* see several of these same journalists deny science in other realms than climate change.

  5. Marco,
    Yes, fair points. Watching him on Sunday Morning Live an hour or so ago, he seemed to make arguments about addiction that were similar to those I’ve seen made against AGW. Even when a neuro-scientists showed brain scans with areas affected by overuse of addictive substances, Hitchens responded with the brain being so complex, that we really don’t understand what that means. Again, a non-expert projecting their ignorance onto everyone else.

  6. I don’t read journals written by journalists who think the world isn’t warming. On the other hand, I always thought the controversial points were the climate sensitivity, the viability of solar and wind as fossil fuel replacements, whether climate models can be expected to make useable 100 year forecasts, etc. These are subtle points most journalists can’t grasp.

  7. Fernando,

    I always thought the controversial points were the climate sensitivity

    Only contrioversial in some circles, I think. Also, that we can’t constrain it precisely, doesn’t mean that we can’t make decisions based on the range that we have.

    the viability of solar and wind as fossil fuel replacements

    Except, this isn’t climate science specifically. Our ability to replace fossil fuels, or not, does not influence how our climate will respond to increasing anthropogenic forcings.

    whether climate models can be expected to make useable 100 year forecasts, etc.

    Again, this is more controversial in some circles than others. Our understanding of future climate is not based on climate models alone.

    These are subtle points most journalists can’t grasp.

    Why not? They’re not that difficult to grasp.

  8. ATTP: “I’m not sure I follow. Are you suggesting that they need a reason to argue against mitigation and hence reject the science?”

    Social Darwinists do not need a reason, they have one, climate change will hurt the poor and vulnerable most the liberals who communicate climate change tell them. But to say you like that is not a nice reason to voice in public. The reputation loss would nowadays be larger than for the claim not to accept the science.

  9. Fernando Leanme, no the journalists mentioned are not that subtle. Surely you still remember Booker from The Telegraph:

    But only when the full picture is in will it be possible to see just how far the scare over global warming has been driven by manipulation of figures accepted as reliable by the politicians who shape our energy policy, and much else besides. If the panel’s findings eventually confirm what we have seen so far, this really will be the “smoking gun”, in a scandal the scale and significance of which for all of us can scarcely be exaggerated.

  10. Victor,
    Okay, I think I see what you mean.

  11. lord sidcup says:

    I recall being riled by Hitchens pronouncing on AGW on R4 about a decade ago. He dismissed all climate science from a position – it is apparent now – of near total ignorance. At least with Rose, Booker and Delingpole you know they go to blogs and think tanks for their “information”. Hitchens doesn’t even seem to rely on those sources but is still confident he knows best – yet he calls other arrogant. Quite remarkable really.

  12. lord sidcup,

    yet he calls other arrogant. Quite remarkable really.

    Yes, it was quite a remarkable exchange. I particularly like this one, after he’d pretty much called everyone who disagreed with him warmon fanatics

  13. You have consistently demonstrated you don’t understand the climate plus you have attacked those like Salby who do understand it. So I’m not at all surprised he blocked you as I’ve often felt like doing the same. How can anyone now argue against the overwhelming evidence against warming (like growing Antarctic, global sea ice normal, etc.) and the concrete evidence of tampering of temperature data by NOAA and NASA?

    We sceptics have been proved right time and time and time again, and you as someone trained as a physicist are more culpable than most for ignoring the simple physical and political evidence showing us sceptics are, and have always been, right.

  14. Scot,
    I wasn’t going to post your comment, as it is bizarrely ill-informed, but I couldn’t resist responding to this.

    So I’m not at all surprised he blocked you as I’ve often felt like doing the same.

    You have.

  15. bill shockley says:

    Black is white. Up is down. Trade is Free.

    The GOP is a radical insurgency; it’s no longer a political party

    Noam Chomsky

  16. lord sidcup says:

    Maybe I should elaborate on why Hitchens riles me (a non-scientist) so much.

    The typical scientist does a doctorate, does post-doc, forgoes the income highly numerate and technically competent people can earn outside science. Some spend months at a time working in difficult environments like the Arctic or Antarctic. Years of training, long hours, not much money, but Hitchens has spent years dismissing them as ‘warmists’ in newspapers and on air. There are few things that are more offensive than that, but not many. Can’t Hitchens see that?

  17. lord sidcup says:

    There are a few things… (oh for an edit button)

  18. Soosoos says:

    Oh yes, Scottish Sceptic, who describes himself thus:

    This is the blog of Mike Haseler and what you may wish to know about me is that I am a Climate Scientist as I am more of a scientist than most who work on climate.

    It’s really quite sad.

  19. BBD says:

    We sceptics have been proved right time and time and time again

    Oh my sides.

  20. BBD says:

    and the concrete evidence of tampering of temperature data by NOAA and NASA?

  21. Given that I’d really rather not have to feel obliged to post any more of ScotScep’s comments, maybe we can leave it as it is. I really just posted it because I found his claim that he’d considered blocking me amusing, given that he has.

  22. BBD says:

    Peter Hitchens hates the left and like many others, has conflated physical climatology with left-leaning politics. He also appears to be something of an authoritiarian. The resulting intellectual mess over climate change is inevitable and probably unfixable.

  23. izen says:

    For reasons indirectly connected with the events in Paris I have just finished a Hitchens binge-watch on YouTube.

    The other one.

    I am reminded of the speech in Hamlet to Gertrude, Act III scene 4
    http://shakespeare.mit.edu/hamlet/hamlet.3.4.html
    ” Look here upon th’s picture, and on this,
    The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.”

  24. izen says:

    @-BBD
    ” He also appears to be something of an authoritiarian.”

    He rejected left-wing politics in his 30s to declare his belief and adherence to a Christian Faith.
    I think the rejection of evidence based knowledge for supernatural ‘revealed’ knowledge is not only a key characteristic of favoring and authoritarian mindset, but imposes an epistemology of rating an ‘opinion’ derived from a theological or ideological dogma above an ‘opinion’ derived from physical evidence.

    This is often the major underlying contradiction between the two ‘sides’ in this dispute. (And others)
    One side values the unchangeable and absolute revealed knowledge of a dogma and regards physical evidence as a secondary, less credible source of gaining understanding, except when it confirms what is already known from superior sources…

  25. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    We sceptics have been proved right time and time and time again, and you as someone trained as a physicist are more culpable than most for ignoring the simple physical and political evidence showing us sceptics are, and have always been, right.

    Political evidence?
    Now that’s impressive.
    Did Lamar Smith show you his secret climate data?
    Did Marc Morano tell you the Real Truth about CO2?
    Did James Inhofe hand you some stone tablets?

    There is a word for this scientific position: “narcissism”.

    Help is available.

  26. There is quite a revealing interview, of Peter Hitchens by Owen Jomes, which starts by exploring PH’s family background [a lack of parental influence and his rivalry with his brother give an inkling into his wayward character]. He is asked about his use of the phrase “the hated Peter Hitchens” in blog posts …

    The following is what follows [see 16:30 – 20:00 minutes into the video]

    which I transcribe key fragments of below. When asked if people really hate him, PH replies:

    “There are people who hate me … [because] I am unapologetic about being a moral and social conservative … my problem is I don’t know my place and my other problem is that I use against my opponents the very raucous and slightly rude methods they use against me … I don’t accept that I’m fundamentally wrong …”

    Does this upset him? Not really.

    “What upsets me far more is the inability to communicate … that you simply cannot get some very simple things across to people and you feel after a while – always treat a mind as open until you’ve discovered otherwise … you feel after a while after a few exchanges that what you’re dealing with is a mind that is hopelessly closed and the person is unable to respond to arguments so you make a point and they neither rebut it nor acknowledge it. I don’t mind, they can do either … arguing with [these] people is like play chess with a squirrel.”

    It’s all your fault people, not knowing how to communicate! I think this reveals a mind that is closed, but succeeds in projecting this onto anyone he disagrees with. His bunker mentality speaks volumes.

    Watch him on BBC Question Time and he is all bluster, rising rhetoric and self-righteousness.

    No doubt in his school debating society days he had to argue in favour of a preposterous idea, just to show how to marshall an argument, and look like he believed it. Unfortunately, he continued in that vein, despite having lost the short trousers decades ago.

    Having said more or less the same thing now for longer than we care think about, I suspect that even he now believes the fact-free tosh he utters.

    He believes he has a right to offend, and I suspect will continue to exercise that right at all costs. After all, that’s what he gets paid to do, so why would he stop?

  27. He believes he has a right to offend, and I suspect will continue to exercise that right at all costs.

    Indeed, based on our exchange, this would seem to be the case. It was interesting that when I pointed out that his tirade was a bit ironic given that he was complaining about how people respond to him, he then tried to suggest that I should imagine what it would be like to be on the receiving end of endless drivel. I pointed out that I didn’t need to imagine it.

  28. I take it back … he never lost the short trousers.

  29. mt says:

    Hmm; there are at least two issues here possibly being conflated. The first is why people believe what they believe. (reason and/or motivated reasoning) The second is what they tell themselves about why this is what they believe. (rationalization)

    For some people there is a third question – what they are willing to say about what they believe but I don’t think that’s relevant here. (positioning)

    It is one thing to say that a person believes something on a specific issue (e.g. AGW) because to believe otherwise threatens their larger beliefs about the world. It is another to try to convince that person of that fact, because they presumably have internal defended their beliefs on other grounds.

    Putting myself in the shoes of one of these people, of course my beliefs about how humans should organize themselves should not affect my beliefs about “AGW” or “CAGW” or whatever you crazies believe. But they don’t. My beliefs about “CAGW” are based on the flimsiness of the evidence as I perceive it. Of course, that flimsiness is coherent with the way I believe the world is put together, but I do not see the reasoning as based there.

    So if you tell me that my politics and the evidence based science are independent, I will not disagree. This will not make me any better qualified to understand or accept the evidence.

  30. MT,
    Indeed, I think you make some good points. My bigger point here was why is it that journalists, who should – one might think – be aiming to investigate our understanding of a topic by talking to experts, think that somehow they can draw their own conclusions about something like AGW? I don’t have an answer to this. Maybe it is that some really think that climate scientists are fanatics (as Hitchens appears to think) and that there is some kind of massive conspiracy that they hope to uncover, or think they already have. Maybe others really can’t differentiate between climate science and climate policy. Maybe something else altogether.

  31. John Samuel says:

    Cranks act crankily. Expecting them not to throw their toys out of their prams when challenged is simple over-optimism. Annoying cranks does mean you are doing something right.

  32. dana1981 says:

    I don’t know much about Hitchens but he writes for the Mail, right? Personally I don’t consider those who write for the Mail to be journalists. Propagandists is more like it. And that’s consistent with his behavior here.

  33. John,
    Indeed. What I find personally interesting is that two years ago I would have been furious if something like this happened. Now I don’t care and it’s pretty much what I expect. The down side, though is I have no expectation of any of those interactions being productive, which is probably a self-fullfilling prophecy. Might be nice to still live in that world where I believed it was possible to explain this topic to people.

    Dana,
    Mail on Sunday, I think, along with David Rose. You’re right, it’s hard to describe those who write for the Mail as being journalists.

  34. BBD says:

    ATTP

    Might be nice to still live in that world where I believed it was possible to explain this topic to people.

    I understand the sentiment, but it is better to understand what you are really dealing with.

  35. semyorka says:

    ” Do they publicly dispute the existence of dark matter, the Higgs Boson, black holes?”
    Booker does have form on attacking evolution.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/4550448/Charles-Darwin-zealots-have-made-science-a-substitute-religion.html

    As does Hitchens.
    http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2010/02/can-bears-turn-into-whales.html

    Delingpole is a DDT conspiracy theorist as well
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/9917408/Rachel_Carson_environmentalisms_answer_to_Pol_Pot/

    And while not science and probably off topic, Rose was a huge proponent of “Saddam did 9/11”
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/nov/11/terrorism.afghanistan

    Riddley, Booker, Delingpole and Hitchens all went to prestigious private schools (cant find details on Rose), they are all upper class and are deeply infected with the belief they are born to rule. They look down on science practitioners are mere artisans while they are imbued with a more noble purpose and understanding rooted in the Classics, philosophy and their innate superiority. I believe this is why they tend to be attracted to science controversies as it offers them a chance to dismiss the “peons” as wrong and to berate them for muddling with data instead of a “big picture” overview. You can certainly see this in Delingpole’s interviews (interpreter of interpretations)

  36. semyorka,
    Yes, I’m starting to realise that their hubris isn’t confined only to AGW.

    While we’re on the topic of Class, there is a recent Ridley article about left-wing libertarianism in which he says

    They believe in small government because they trust people, distrust elites, are suspicious of Leviathan and value freedom.

    but in which he appears to fail to mention that he’s a Viscount.

  37. izen says:

    @-ATTP
    “The down side, though is I have no expectation of any of those interactions being productive, which is probably a self-fullfilling prophecy. Might be nice to still live in that world where I believed it was possible to explain this topic to people.”

    Be not downhearted! It’s progress.
    Part of the process that sorts the rational contributors from the dogmatic cranks. Your discovery that some of those involved on this issue are beyond the reach of evidence based arguments is an advance. That is knowledge gained, observed and disseminated. However ‘nice’ it might be to believe that people, like the universe, are capable of holding rational explanations it is better to recognise the reality.
    That only the universe is rationally explainable.
    People… not so much.

  38. semyorka says:

    You can throw Lawson, Monckton and Owen Patterson into that basic grouping of private school educated, upper class and self assured that that the oiks doing the science are too stupid to understand the actual science.

  39. Mal Adapted says:

    Victor Venema:

    For social Darwinsts another reason may be that rejecting the science is more socially acceptable as the real reason why they are against mitigation.

    I’m with Victor. For support, I offer Roy Spencer:

    Radical environmentalism is interested in seeing more people dead than alive. I don’t care what their press releases say. I’ve debated enough of these folks to know that their biggest complaint is that there are too many people in the world. They have told me so.

    IMHO, it’s reasonable to suggest that Spencer is projecting his own inadmissible interest onto the straw man of “radical environmentalism”.

  40. Ethan Allen says:

    “A journalist is a person who collects, writes, or distributes news or other current information.”

    I actually don’t know what a journalist is anymore, perhaps I never really did.

    I’m sort of thinking “opinionist” for this form of communication.

    Now, on the other hand, I know a scientist when I see one, their the ones wearing the white lab coat, holding a clipboard and appear to be writing stuff down on that clipboard (it’s actually rather hard to write with a drinking straw but the people viewing the photograph never seemed to notice). Wearing the Einstein wig was optional attire where I worked.

  41. BBD says:

    Mal Adapted

    IMHO, it’s reasonable to suggest that Spencer is projecting his own inadmissible interest onto the straw man of “radical environmentalism”.

    Actually I think one has to be careful with that. First, it is *true* that some environmentalists express the view that there are too many people on the planet. Second, I have no idea what Spencer’s views on optimum global population size are. He may very well be sanguine about the top end of the projections.

  42. Semyorka – you are not necessarily wrong about a anti-science bias in the British establishment (which of course Peter Hitchens claims he is not a part of). Alan Turing went to a public school, helped shorten the war, and was hounded by the same establishment he came from, because he was a homosexual. It’s complicated. Let’s not use crude stigmatisation to try to explain the behaviour of some scientifically illiterate people in the media (and dare I say, BBC). Many brilliant scientists in UK came from privileged backgrounds, others not. Brilliance is classless.

  43. Richard,
    Yes, I agree. We have to be careful of generalising. There may be an anti-science bias in some sectors, but that doesn’t mean that being associated with that sector makes one anti-science. Maybe one comment I will make is that the impression I have of the independent school sector in the UK is that one of its strengths is that it helps to make people more confident about their abilities than is sometimes warranted. Of course, if they are genuinely brilliant, then this may well be a strength. They problem is when they aren’t, but don’t seem capable of realising this.

  44. I guess maybe the real issue isn’t that Independent School instil confidence in their pupils, it’s that we (UK society) haven’t worked – or bothered to work out – how to see through this. We still seem to value average people who think they’re brilliant, over brilliant people who think they’re average.

  45. Phil says:

    Might be nice to still live in that world where I believed it was possible to explain this topic to people.

    I comment frequently (under a pseudonym) on climate change articles in the Guardian, and have, on a number of occasions left the conversation with the impression that I have made a significant shift in their understanding. It is, of course, hard to know, since they will never write back “oh yes, I was wrong”, and it seems an incredibly inefficient way of doing things.

    Mail on Sunday, I think, along with David Rose. You’re right, it’s hard to describe those who write for the Mail as being journalists.

    I corresponded with the Mail on their nonsense editorial about Rachel TIllings cryosat2 paper this summer. Their replies left me convinced that they regard reporting Climate Change as a debating game rather than the reporting and analysis of scientific evidence.

  46. Phil,
    Well, if you have had success on the Guardian, then you’ve done better than I have. Of course, one problem I now have is that my expectations are so low, that that becomes evident in my comments, which probably reduces the chance of any kind of success.

  47. semyorka says:

    “Let’s not use crude stigmatisation to try to explain the behaviour of some scientifically illiterate people in the media”

    Firstly how do you think they got their positions in the media and politics? Connections, right back ground, right politics. The list of names I have offered only really misses Montford and Peiser among the most well known of UK luke warmists\deniers etc.
    Second I am not saying everyone from an upper class background is a denier. Zak Goldsmith would be a public school educated, right wing, upper class individual who clearly is not a denier.
    If you have a look at the lot of them most of them have similar education, political and social backgrounds.
    David Rose, History Oxford.
    Chris Monckton Classics Cambridge.
    Delingpole English Literature Oxford
    Hitchens, Philosophy and Politics York.
    Lawson Politics, Philosophy, Economics, Oxford
    Booker History Cambridge.
    Patterson History Cambridge.

    Riddley stands out by a mile as having a qualification in Zoology (Oxford).

    You look at the UKs leading public skeptics and the hit rate of upper class, public school, oxbridge, humanities, right wing has to mean something. The fact that so many of them seem to have all manner of “interesting” side views on issues like evolution, MMR, DDT etc and the tone that so many of them take to their opponents also seems to be broadly similar.

    There are other cliques of deniers out there with differing backgrounds like the very bizarre group around the ex Living Marxism\Revolutionary Communist Party that includes Martin Durkin and Brendan ONeill. But the list of journalists offered in the OP together with prominent GWPF names all have a striking similarity that is not “journalism”.

  48. Ethan Allen says:

    “Radical environmentalism is interested in seeing more people dead than alive.”

    Well these people think that there are 108 dead humans today …
    How Many People Have Ever Lived on Earth?
    http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2002/HowManyPeopleHaveEverLivedonEarth.aspx

    Woy really needs to get to work, it’s a really tough job, but somebodies needs to do it.

    But hey, using atmospheric CO2 and AGW as a proxy for what a certain species growth is doing to Outhouse Earth works for me.

    World population stabilization unlikely this century
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/346/6206/234.abstract
    http://demog.berkeley.edu/~jrw/Eprints/gerland.etal.2014_Science.pdf
    http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/about/director/pdf/March2015_GlobalDemographicProjections_WorldBank.pdf

    UN database …
    http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/DVD/

    So, for example, if those numbers are to be believed, adding 7.21B people between 1954 and 2054 (1954 = 2.70B) really shouldn’t be much of a problem.

    I sort of got stuck in population land right about the time you all were talking about Lomborg. Well actually that and COP21 and the EDGER CO2 database.

    Those that don’t believe what the underlying cause really is are … what’s that word I’m looking for … living in … it begins with a capital “D” and ends with “ville” … damn, just can’t think of what that word is at this very moment.

    PC Principal told me not to say this stuff … because then he would beat me up … because this stuff is so …. 60’s type of “neo-Malthusian” thinking.

  49. Ethan Allen says:

    Oops, “108” should be “108B” and “EDGER” should be “EDGAR” we now return you to your regular scheduled programming.

  50. Eli Rabett says:

    The churnalists really, really don’t enjoy being called out as Eli discovered. They think they are the special ones.

  51. Phil says:

    There is a distinction to be made, I think (although whether it’s a useful one I’m not sure). Delingpole, Booker and Hitchens are all columnists, and as such, are expected to opine on anything and everything, and of course that self-selects, so you would probably expect such people to be over-confident about their own judgements (and to be hired to being so). Rose is a specialist editor (I think), and as such he should be a bit more inclined to defer to subject expertise (although, on Climate Change he clearly doesn’t – apart from Judith).

    I do wonder to what extent the partisan media (broadly US TV and UK “print”) consciously reflect their core readership – in which case the whole thing becomes a self-fulling circle: The Daily Telegraph is read by conservatives, Climate change has become a “liberal/social democrat” issue (because of all those “Stealth Taxes” / world governments the Exxon shills go on about at WUWT) , and so the Telegraph will keep its core readership of conservatives if it has someone putting the boot into Climate change.
    In this logic the whole issue of veracity becomes sidelined; the only consideration is keeping/expanding your market share (as an outlet). To do so the outlet employs journalists who don’t accept the science, and the journalists know the line they have to tow.

    ATTP:

    Well, if you have had success on the Guardian, then you’ve done better than I have.

    Yeah, well as I said the acknowledgement is almost non-existent. And you need lots of patience. I recently had to explain CO2 degassing at the end of ice ages to the same person twice (who also felt that climate scientists were incompetent because they’d “moved weather stations”) . I’ve just reviewed his comment history at the Guardian; immediately after our exchange he wrote the following to another commentator

    My last words – the best I can do for you – you may be right that we are the primary cause of warming.

    and has not commented on Climate Change in the two weeks since then.

  52. semyorka says:

    “, Climate change has become a “liberal/social democrat” issue (because of all those “Stealth Taxes””
    Has it? Merkel and the CDU are very active on climate as were the Gaullists in France under Sarkozy. Cameron made climate a keystone of his “detoxification” and Turnbull in Australia has made it a part of his break with Abbot.

    There is a faction in the anglophonic right that is anti action on climate science. Understanding who they are, what motivates them and how to separate them from the rest of the right is important.

    From the UK perspective pointing out that denialism is a tendency among outmoded patrician elites with little scientific understanding and not a part of a broader, global right wing works.

    Understanding who promotes the message of denialism then being able to frame them in a way that isolates them from the mainstream left and right is very useful in my view.

  53. Phil says:

    Has it?

    I don’t know, but its not germaine to my argument whether it has or not, my proposition is that the Daily Telegraph (or the Mail) think it has and behave accordingly, irrespective of whether it really has.

  54. Nick says:

    “I think we probably will see 1.5 degrees of warming. The point is most people think 2C is when it turns catastrophic. That’s not right. The literature is very clear; 2C is when we start to get harm. Up until then we get benefit,” he said.

    From the BBC today, the unmistakeable tone of the opinion writer’s infallibility complex, from the most infallible of them all….

  55. Nick,
    Indeed, I’ve seen that. How much can he get wrong in a single paragraph?

  56. Eveningperson says:

    Let’s face it, the overwhelmingly majority of the prominent ‘sceptics’ come from a particular area of politico-economic theory. That economics has come into serious doubt recently with the state of the economy from 2007 on, but it was always very iffy. It’s because their economic theory has no ability to suggest mechanisms to cope with the consequences of global climate change, that the ‘sceptics’ mostly have to deny that such a thing is is happening, or could have negative consequences.

  57. Magma says:

    It’s difficult not to notice that a majority — possibly a large majority — of the more public of the ‘skeptics’ fall on the right of the political spectrum, and some on the extreme right. I don’t know where Lomborg and Tol fit in here, but it’s a broad observation that permits some exceptions.

    But between the original post and nearly 60 replies not a single explicit mention of the Dunning-Kruger effect yet? Well, *I* can’t resist, so consider it mentioned.

  58. I love skeptics

    “You have consistently demonstrated you don’t understand the climate plus you have attacked those like Salby who do understand it. So I’m not at all surprised he blocked you as I’ve often felt like doing the same. How can anyone now argue against the overwhelming evidence against warming (like growing Antarctic, global sea ice normal, etc.) and the concrete evidence of tampering of temperature data by NOAA and NASA?”

    The Skeptic argues for settled science.

    1. It’s settled that there is overwhelming evidence against “warming”
    a) Antarctic? It’s hardly settled that
    1. AGW theory says anything consistent about this part of the planet
    2) That growing ice in the SP is inconsistent with the fundamental tenents
    of the theory.
    b). Etc? that’s a good list and a reminder to people of the proper use of etc

    2. Its Settled that NOAA and NASA tampered with data?
    really?, then why do we get the same answer if we use data THAT ISNT TOUCHED
    by either agency?.
    These agency’s make adjustments to data. They document them. you can see exactly
    what they did. Their adjustments have been verified by others using entirely different
    automated, data driven approaches to adjustment. THAT is evidence of NO TAMPERING,
    rather than evidence of tampering.If I tell you ” I am adjusting this data upwards because
    of a sensor change.. that is Adjusting. You can argue with that, but you cant call it tampering. If I secretly change a value… then you have the begining of a case for tampering

    In short, skeptics are never skeptical enough. they never question their own shoddy analysis.

    “We sceptics have been proved right time and time and time again, and you as someone trained as a physicist are more culpable than most for ignoring the simple physical and political evidence showing us sceptics are, and have always been, right.”

    It’s weird how a skeptic thinks that there is proof. In science there is just “the best explanation”
    if we had proof we would call it math or logic and not science. Its weird how their care and discipline for the “truth” get toss out the window when it comes to their own claims.

  59. Mal Adapted says:

    BBD:

    Actually I think one has to be careful with that. First, it is *true* that some environmentalists express the view that there are too many people on the planet. Second, I have no idea what Spencer’s views on optimum global population size are. He may very well be sanguine about the top end of the projections.

    Well, I did cover myself by saying “IMHO, it’s reasonable to suggest” ;^). I think it is, though. In that blog post, Spencer clearly implies that anyone who supports mitigating AGW by reducing CO2 emissions is a radical environmentalist who is interested in seeing more people dead than alive. What motivated him to make that false and malicious association?

    It gets worse: in his most recent blog post, he has this to say:

    If terrorism is such a minor, contained threat (as Obama just stated yesterday), and global warming is really the overriding threat facing humanity, how can we consider cancelling – or even postponing – COP21?

    After all, isn’t COP21 our last, final, last chance to Save the Earth?

    Just ignore centuries of history which demonstrates that the strict followers of the Koran have a holy mandate to take over the world for Islam, killing anyone who will not submit.

    This is a man consumed by hatred, and everything he says has to be interpreted with that in mind.

  60. Kevin O'Neill says:

    Dr Woy could just as easily have written: Just ignore centuries of history which demonstrates that the strict followers of Christianity have a holy mandate to take over the world for Christ, killing anyone who will not submit.

    As the good book says, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

    How quickly Dr Woy forgets an American President responding to a terrorist attack with the memorable line, “…this crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take awhile.”

  61. Jay Alt says:

    ATTP- The reason such blogs is not for the understanding of evidence. They function as Lie Factories by using comments (by the uneducated and expert alike) to feed the continuous stream of misinformation, faulty hypotheses & bad ideas. The worst are plucked out then spread far & wide.

  62. andrew adams says:

    And while not science and probably off topic, Rose was a huge proponent of “Saddam did 9/11”

    In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, David Rose was constantly fed dubious information by the security services to support the case for war, which he faithfully reproduced in the Observer – as the piece linked to by semyorker shows.
    To his credit, he has since admitted that he was at fault and has apologised for it, and AFAIK it was down to him being overly credulous towards his sources rather than any deliberate dishonesty on his part.
    Unfortunately he seems to have found another cause to support and is showing similar credulity towards its proponents, and this time given his frequent blatant misrepresentations of his sources it’s hard to be as charitable about his intentions.
    One thing which does separate him from other “skeptical” journalists though is that he doesn’t appear to be motivated by right wing ideology – I’ve occasionally come across him on Twitter on subjects unrelated to climate and he seems to have pretty liberal views. He’s also written stuff on subjects such as miscarriages of justice and human rights which I would normally be very sympathetic to, but for obvious reasons I tend to be a bit skeptical, which is a shame.

  63. Andrew,
    Yes, every now and again David Rose does seem to write something reasonable, or appears to want to be seen as taking this seriously and being genuinely skeptical, and then he resorts to quoting Judith Curry and claiming that sea ice has recovered.

  64. semyorka says:

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Igon_Value_Problem

    I came across this looking for something else.
    ” The Igon Value Problem is a way of summarizing the lack of depth often encountered in modern journalism that focuses on esoteric subjects in which the journalist (or any writer in general) is not an expert themselves. The problem states:
    “”When a writer’s education on a topic consists in interviewing an expert, he is apt to offer generalizations that are banal, obtuse or flat wrong.”

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