Socially constructed silence?

There’s an interesting article discussing some research that seems to suggest that there is a socially constructed silence. The basic suggestion seems to be that

[t]he scientific community is profoundly uncomfortable with the storm of political controversy that climate research is attracting.

This is based on interviews with 6 UK-based climate scientists and the article is simply a summary of what they claim to have found. The sample seems a bit small and the arguments seem a but apocryphal, but it is still an interesting issue; are climate scientists really reluctant to speak out and, if so, why?

One of the suggestions is that many climate scientists still identify with the idealistic view that they should undertake their research dispassionately. Consequently, many are uncomfortable with how their research is becoming societally/politically relevant. I, of course, think that researchers should aim to be objective and unbiased, but dispassionate? I think most researchers are passionate, even if their aim is to be as objective and unbiased as possible. Although I can understand why many may be uncomfortable with implications of their research, I don’t think that there is much one can do about that. We (researchers) don’t do research purely for our own benefit; we do it to gain understanding, and we have an obligation to make that public; by publishing our results, speaking at conferences, and communicating with the public and – if necessary – policy makers.

I, of course, don’t think that all researchers should be obliged to engage publicly; some aren’t very good at it, and others probably don’t enjoy it much. However, they still have an obligation to publicise their results; that’s why we fund research in the first place. As long as they present it as clearly and honestly as possible, they aren’t responsible for how it could be used. They also can’t stop it from being used; they have no control over how it might be used once public.

The other suggestion in the article is that those who do engage publicly end up being attacked by the media, and – in some cases – also by their own colleagues. There is certainly a theme in some parts of the media that those scientists who do engage publicly are advocating, and that their research is now suspect; that they’ve illustrated their lack of objectivity and their inherent bias. It also seems that the one thing that many researchers fail to agree on is how best to publicly communicate science. Either what was presented exaggerated the results, or it over-emphasized the uncertainties, or it didn’t present the whole story, or it gave too much credence to unlikely alternatives, or….. It certainly seems that there is some merit to this suggestion and I can certainly see why many might prefer not engaging publicly for these reasons.

I actually find this quite an interesting issue and some of what is suggested in this article seems quite plausible. My own view is that, for climate scientists, engaging publicly can be a bit of a lose-lose situation. If you choose to do so you run the risk of being attacked in the media and, possibly, by your own colleagues. On the other hand, if you don’t, but think this is a serious issue that we’re not addressing adequately (as the article suggested that many climate scientists do) then you run the risk of being criticised in future, if the impacts do turn out to be severe and it becomes clear that we should have acted sooner. I don’t think the latter possibility would be fair (I think there is plenty of information out there), but I can see it happening anyway.

Personally, I think each should do whatever they think is right and what works for them, and the rest of us should maybe put a bit more effort into recognising that communicating science to the public is difficult, and that there isn’t only one way in which to do so; most are simply trying to do their best to communicate a difficult, and complex, topic, and just because we might disagree with how they did so, doesn’t mean that what they did was wrong.

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160 Responses to Socially constructed silence?

  1. Morbeau says:

    Where I work we have professional communicators whose job it is to present the facts, the context and the desired outcomes such that everyone in our organization and the public understands what’s going on. It’s a thankless task that somebody has to do, and even the pros don’t always get it right.

    I’ve met scientists who were good communicators, and some who were not. Typically, their audience and channels are narrow, and we must think they’re also superhumans who can jump into public media and news organizations and communicate effectively while carrying on with their work. (As an aside, one of my friends is a professor of “Communications” who is a very difficult person to communicate with in writing. For whatever reason, he has a hard time with online discussions about social issues and, well, communication. Weird but true.)

  2. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Here’s a long-standing issue that should also be part of this discussion…

    In what has been called a “life changing decision,” the European Union’s ministers of Science, Innovation, Trade, and Industry have decided to give individuals free access to science papers by 2020.

    EU Announces That All Scientific Articles Should Be Freely Accessible by 2020 by Jolene Creighton, Network Society/Futurism, May 30, 2016

  3. Harry Twinotter says:

    I guess if someone feels the outcome of a particular discussion on climate change (or other subjects with a manufactured controversy) will be unproductive, then probably the best not to start it. I is a question of being pragmatic.

  4. Steven Mosher says:

    “Ultimately, the commitment rests on three main tenets: “Sharing knowledge freely,” “open access,” and “reusing research data.”

  5. Ron Graf says:

    Built in protective protocols of open data, embedded or concurrent adversarial Red teams, and blinds where possible, would insulate investigators from accusations of bias as well as allowing all scientists to rely on the reuse of such certified results.

  6. Magma says:

    (Advance apologies for a long post.)

    If you read the summary and look at the PowerPoint presentation of the work by Hoggett and Randall carefully, they interviewed both climate scientists and climate activists, and correctly distinguished between the two. Few activists are scientists and few scientists are activists. So, with respect to the last, why is that? There are a few fairly obvious reasons, listed below in no particular order.

    Concerning their research, most active scientists are more concerned with the opinion of their peer group than that of the general public, and value their research activities more than public outreach. They are also, in some ways, extremely conservative and hate to risk making bold public statements that could turn out to be wrong. Much safer to hedge and qualify and carefully constrain their words, which often leads to statements that are virtually incomprehensible to the public…
    IPCC: It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in GHG concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.
    Public: Uh… what?
    IPCC translator: We caused almost all the warming of the last 60 years.
    Public: Why didn’t they just say that?

    Engaging with the public requires time, interest and preparation. Many may not feel it’s worth their effort, especially if they lack confidence in their communication skills. (All too often this is justified, as anyone who’s been to a conference can attest.)

    The subject of climate science has become heavily politicized. (Duh.) Unlike almost any other field apart from GMOs and maybe evolution in some backward areas, any English-speaking climate scientist of note with a public profile can almost count on being publicly attacked and defamed. These attacks rarely if ever take place on a researcher’s strong grounds of scientific debate and interpretation, but involve personal attacks on motives, competence, character and professional ethics. Data and facts become items to be ignored or misrepresented.

    In brief, climate scientists/activists/communicators should have
    1. A high level of expertise and recognition within their field(s) of specialization.
    2. A strong desire to communicate with the public, and an ability to communicate complex concepts to non-experts in a clear and punchy manner. Charisma helps.
    3. A thick skin and a high level of self-confidence, and a willingness to endure multiple forms of targeted harassment when sticking their heads over the parapet. (Katharine Hayhoe noted she routinely receives death threats, and Ben Santer’s marriage reportedly broke up under the strain. They are certainly not the only ones.)
    4. A willingness to openly confront false claims made by contrarian colleagues, PR and media types, and politicians, including some who may be in positions of power and authority.
    5. A willingness to risk the disapproval or scorn of colleagues who see them as ‘oversimplifying’, overstating their case, or forcing data to fit models rather than the other way around. (I’m thinking of reactions to James Hansen here.)
    6. The energy, time and resources to dedicate to these outreach tasks.
    7. The security of knowing that their organizations will provide solid support, whether financial, legal or moral, including understanding that this could cut into research or teaching time and draw on the organizations’ own legal and professional resources.

    This is not an easy checklist, and it’s asking a lot of an individual to meet them all. James Hansen, Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt stand out as examples, and probably the late Stephen Schneider as well.

  7. Ron Graf,

    Built in protective protocols of open data, embedded or concurrent adversarial Red teams, and blinds where possible, would insulate investigators from accusations of bias as well as allowing all scientists to rely on the reuse of such certified results.

    For-profit prestige journals with a reputation to protect has been part of the certification process for some time now. We’ve already got plenty of adversarial Red teams running external audits sans gummint funding.

    “Certified results” sounds ominous. Perhaps you meant “certified data”?

  8. Magma,

    They are also, in some ways, extremely conservative and hate to risk making bold public statements that could turn out to be wrong. Much safer to hedge and qualify and carefully constrain their words, which often leads to statements that are virtually incomprehensible to the public…

    Saved me from writing it thanks. When I see carefully qualified statements with appropriate indicators of uncertainty, I actually find them to be more credible. Others consider it weaseling.

    Perhaps the better way to think about it is that a qualified statement is an explicit reminder that the conclusions are most likely somewhat wrong, which leaves one’s mind open to accepting future revision. I think we can probably all agree that’s what’s *supposed* to happen.

  9. “the idealistic view that they should undertake their research dispassionately”

    The ideal is that you should be dispassionate about the result. Passion about the method is fine (although we do have something to say about those who fall in love with their model).

    Being dispassionate about the result is easy if you work on disk accretion, a topic about as separate from politics and values as you can get.

    It is not easy if you work on climate.

  10. Marco says:

    “Built in protective protocols of open data, embedded or concurrent adversarial Red teams, and blinds where possible, would insulate investigators from accusations of bias as well as allowing all scientists to rely on the reuse of such certified results.”

    I am sure there are some who would indeed stop their accusations, but for most contrarian/dismissive people, it really has nothing to do with transparency. As long as the results are undesirable, accusations will fly. Just look at how easily people accuse the people at GISS or NCEI or CRU of all kinds of bias and nefarious data handling, even though all the raw data is available (minus Poland in the case of HADCRUT), allowing anyone to do their own analysis. And when a “red team” did so (Hi, Steven!), the results were so unwelcome that this “red team” just became a new part of the Grand Conspiracy. Watts’ response to BEST was typical – first announcing he would accept anything that BEST would come up with…only to reject it when it didn’t fit his preconceived idea of what the results should have been.

    At the same time you will gladly find those same accusers positively refer to UAH (and until recently, RSS), even though finding the actual data is in itself hard enough – but then finding out how that data has been processed is almost impossible (yes, yes, I know, there’s the papers, although we’re still waiting for that new UAH paper, despite Spencer already promoting the new version(s) heavily).

  11. Brigitte says:

    I agree with ATTP when he says “I think most researchers are passionate, even if their aim is to be as objective and unbiased as possible.” From my experience, that’s one of the things they are rather passionate about.

  12. I would be very surprised if the campaign of the mitigation sceptical movement to politicise climate science is successful in silencing scientists in the Anglo-American countries. In all the other countries of the world where the fact that humans cause climate change is accepted like the fact that the sky is blue, there are not more climate scientists doing outreach.

    At least my impression is that in The Netherlands and Germany there are less climate scientists who actively communicate with the public than in America, the UK or Australia. And when they do, the often aim at the anglo-american problem countries and not at their own. If anyone has data on the fraction of time scientists spend on outreach in the different countries, I would be much obliged.

    It would also make sense because in the rest of the world the media mostly performs its role to inform the public and there is no need for scientists to step in, perform the duties of the media and correct the misinformation in the media.

    The suggestions in the above comments that better science or more open science would help appease the mitigation sceptics is almost funny. Mitigation sceptics support findings they think they can spin into a case against mitigation and attack findings that they think weaken their political case. The strength of the evidence, the quality of the research and the openness of the data has no explanatory power.

    Many mitigation sceptics have asked me for the data of my benchmarking study of homogenization algorithms. When I told them were they could find it, they were no longer interested.

    We should working towards more open data policies because it helps science, it will not do anything to stop the mitigation sceptical war against inconvenient science.

  13. Richard,

    The ideal is that you should be dispassionate about the result. Passion about the method is fine

    The exact line in the article was “the job of scientists is to get on with their research quietly and dispassionately.”

    Being dispassionate about the result is easy if you work on disk accretion, a topic about as separate from politics and values as you can get.

    Hmm, I don’t think you’re really getting the point. This is not a surprise.

  14. Victor,
    That’s an interesting point. It may well be that there are more engaging with the public in those countries where there is less acceptance of the mainstream view than in those countries where there is not. As you say, it would be interesting to know if anyone has looked at the numbers.

  15. Brigitte says: I agree with ATTP when he says “I think most researchers are passionate, even if their aim is to be as objective and unbiased as possible.” From my experience, that’s one of the things they are rather passionate about.

    Passion is important. The passion for science, a desire to solve your problem(s), keeps you going, keeps the back of your mind occupied with solving the problems you are working on 24/7. Being able to control this passion is also useful. You have to be able to step back and evaluate “dispassionately” whether you are on the right track. Similar to needing to be able to switch between free creative thinking and analytic testing of the new ideas.

    (My last comment is stuck in moderation.)

  16. (My last comment is stuck in moderation.)

    Should be out now.

  17. Tim Roberts says:

    I’ll state up front that I’m not a climate scientist although I did do some undergraduate research into NOx pollution near schools, but will comment on “are climate scientists really reluctant to speak out and, if so, why?”.
    I’d suggest that the utterly despicable comments and actions of various politicians (usually from the right from what I read), would be enough to put significant fear of retribution into the heart of any climate scientist, especially if they are in a publicly funded institution.
    In my darker moments I hope that some of those brainless denial mouthpieces actually have something happen to them or their family, directly related to climate change/sea level rise/storm intensification.

  18. izen says:

    Scientists get paid/funded to do research and publish the results. The additional task of engaging in public communication of the science when it becomes politicized is not part of the job description, even if some are motivated to do so.

    But any additional work should attract additional recompense. I see no discussion of payment for those scientists who do engage with the public dissemination of science. The assumption of activism is easier to make if a person is willing to do the work for free.

    Perhaps we could ask the economeretrician who posts here whether his public outreach, most recently on the Peabody energy case, was the result of activism or payment.

  19. izen,

    But any additional work should attract additional recompense.

    It’s not so much that they don’t get paid extra, it’s that they don’t get recognition for doing it. If someone does public outreach and – as a consequence – carries out a bit less research and publishes less, they will typically find it more difficult to progress in their careers, compared to someone who decided to do no outreach and to focus on publishing as much as possible.

  20. The article seems to be wank to me. For example “after the fiasco of COP 15 at Copenhagen… climate change became a taboo subject among most politicians” is clearly drivel, as the most recent Paris summit showed. As to the poor dahling little scientist who was “attacked” by her colleagues – from what is quoted, you can’t tell if that was an “attack” or, as rather more likely, constructive criticism.

    I think the article falls into the trap that many denialists do – that most “climate scientists” are working directly on the “big picture” of human-caused GW. But they aren’t; that’s a commonplace illusion, but its wrong. Most “climate scientists” are working on small pieces of the puzzle and would have nothing in particular to say to the meeja anyway. FWIW, when I was at BAS, mgt and the PR dept were desperately happy whenever anyone got their research into the press, or indeed any work-related activity, as long as it wasn’t buggering penguins.

  21. Marco says:

    “Being dispassionate about the result is easy if you work on disk accretion, a topic about as separate from politics and values as you can get.”

    That last thing in itself can be a problem also – because if it isn’t on the radar of politics and has no impact on values, it may be considered useless science. Spending money on something that doesn’t have any impact on our society? Get rid of it! (this is sarcasm, by the way)

    See http://www.flake.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/03714fa3-e01d-46a1-9c19-299533056741/wastebook—the-farce-awakens.pdf and a comment from one scientist about the funding for his work being called wasteful:
    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/confessions-of-a-wasteful-scientist/

  22. Marco says:

    Relevant to William’s comment is the case of Lennart Bengtsson, who whined loudly (perhaps with some ‘help’ from certain media) when he received comments from colleagues who informed him his decision to join the GWPF was a bad idea. I am quite certain that many of those comments were constructive criticism, pointing out that joining a political thinktank may not be a good idea if you supposedly want to warn about the supposed political nature of the debate.

  23. There is certainly a tendency to describe criticism as an attack. It’s also true that most research organisations typically are very happy to see their research in the media.

  24. Dibble says:

    I think that some of the most effective communication is through scientific bodies such as the national academies and also open letters with multiple signatures. Providing safety in numbers and reinforceing the consensus.

    I realise it must be hard to get the wording of these kinds of statements agreed and published but ,when they do appear, they provide a powerful interjection into the discussion.

  25. Richard Tol wrote “The ideal is that you should be dispassionate about the result.”

    Demonstrated, for instance, by being keen to verify and correct any error pointed out in your work in a timely manner? ;o)

  26. @marco
    I have no problem whatsoever with curiosity-driven research, or blue-skies research, or fundamental research, or whatever you want to call it.

    I do think, however, that it is less than useful when someone who is engaged in policy-irrelevant research, expresses strong opinions about policy-relevant research.

  27. Richard,
    That doesn’t make any sense. Why would it be less than useful when someone involved in policy-relevant research expressed views about policy-relevant research?

  28. There is a very nice discussion between the host Jim Al-Khalili and this week’s guest, Marcus du Sautoy, who has a wonderfully straightforward and open approach, on ‘The Life Scientific’ this week on BBC Radio 4.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07dlww4

    Marcus du Sautoy talks about “the risk of putting your head above the parapet” (in relation to moving into the public communication of science); “I am not a natural writer … the sub-editor of The Times taught me …”; “I wasn’t sure this would be an acceptable move in our scientific community and I was a little bit nervous”; etc. … worth a listen.

    Whether for a ‘controversial’ topic such as global warming or genetically modified crops, or for something less so, the instinct to focus on the latest research and next funding application, rather than put these at risk must be great.

    But Marcus du Sautoy said that he got a lot of encouragement from the Royal Society who realised that many problems were being caused by the lack of scientists be ready to “step up to the plate”. He mentions the House of Lords “Jenkins Report”, which I must admit I haven’t read but will do so now, which contains some practical recommendations.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199900/ldselect/ldsctech/38/3801.htm

    To close, I loved the story Marcus du Sautoy told of doing an performance/ lecture at the Royal Opera House using Mozart’s The Magic Flute to talk about the mathematics infused in the music. A masterclass in communication methinks. Something to aspire to.

  29. Willard says:

    Yet again, Richie’s baiting you about authority, AT.

    You’re not the first – cf. his passionate plea for Peabody against Polasky.

  30. @wotts
    Note the “ir” in front of the first “relevant”.

  31. ATTP –

    Apparently Richard Tol is creating rules on who is allowed to expression an opinion on policy-relevant research, and if you are an astronomer, apparently that excludes you (whereas I have never seen any economists resist the temptation to comment on anything that takes their fancy, being the new princes at the court of politics, they seem to feel they have a license to).

    But continuing on Marcus du Sautoy. He said on the programme that perhaps only 10 other mathematicians on the planet truly understand the subtleties of his work on group theory, yet he is also Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. Having an ability to communicate with some transferrable skills and turning out to be successful at it.

    I think that ATTP has transferrable skills just as MdS does. Amply qualified to comment on the science and its implications as evidences by his popular blog. The fact that they are policy relevant simply adds to the need to be both rigorous in thinking and clear in expressing oneself.

    I think ATTP is doing pretty well. Keep accreting good ideas!

  32. @Richard E
    Anyone is free to express an opinion about anything. But perhaps an astronomer should wonder whether she has anything useful to add to a discussion about policy-relevant research.

  33. Richard T.,
    Ahh, I did indeed misread that. Should probably avoid responding to comments on my mobile.

    Recognising that Willard has probably hit the nail on the head, let me at least try and clarify what you mean. In your view, to express an opinion about policy relevant research and for that to be not less than useful, you must

    1. Be undertaking policy relevant research.

    2. Be undertaking no research.

    3. Both 1 and 2.

    4. Something else altogether.

    A serious response is not expected.

  34. Richard,

    But perhaps an astronomer should wonder whether she has anything useful to add to a discussion about policy-relevant research.

    Indeed, but maybe an Economist should wonder why they seem so bothered by an astronomer expressing views about policy-relevant research.

  35. Marco says:

    “I have no problem whatsoever with curiosity-driven research, or blue-skies research, or fundamental research, or whatever you want to call it.”

    Nice of you, but your opinion doesn’t matter. You are not a policy maker with respect to funding of science. In fact, why do you even express a strong opinion on this matter? It is less than useful…

  36. Richard Tol wrote “Anyone is free to express an opinion about anything. But perhaps an astronomer should wonder whether she has anything useful to add to a discussion about policy-relevant research.”

    Sorry Richard, in science it is the correctness of the argument that matters, not the authority of the source (we have moved on a bit since the renaissance). Ideally the same should apply in politics.

  37. I have to say it is quite funny that “consensus messaging” is so often criticised as an appeal to authority (it isn’t), and yet apparently we shouldn’t speak out unless we have authority! ;o)

  38. If this is going to turn into yet another tedious Tol-contra-mundi I’m going to unsubscribe. Come on people, find something else to talk about.

  39. @dikran
    This is not an appeal to authority, but rather an appeal to academic duty. Academic freedom has that we can freely present any finding we can support. Academic duty has that we should refrain from expressing views on things we know nothing about.

    Our dear host has 20+ years of experience at star-gazing. I understand that you need to be quite passionate our astronomy to keep it up for so long, and there is no risk that Wotts’ political views or other passions affect his results on disk accretion.

    However, in the opening post, Wotts blithely extrapolates this to other fields of research. That is naive at best.

  40. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    >>>>> Come on people, find something else to talk about.

    How about something from way back in 2009 that seems relevant even today?:

    In 2009, Australian scientists contributed to an important research paper, “Limiting global warming to 2 °C is unlikely to save most coral reefs”, which found that preserving more than 10% of coral reefs worldwide would require limiting warming to below 1.5°C.

    On the 6 July 2009, the Royal Society, the Zoological Society of London and the International Programme on the State of the Ocean facilitated a Coral Reef Crisis meeting to identify key thresholds of atmospheric carbon dioxide needed for coral reefs to remain viable. It concluded that:


    To ensure the long‐term viability of coral reefs the atmospheric CO2 level must be reduced significantly below 350 parts per million carbon (ppm). In addition to major reductions in CO2 emissions, achieving this safe level will require the active removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.

    Pioneer Australian coral researcher Charlie Veron told that meeting: “The safe level of atmospheric carbon dioxide for coral reefs is ~320 ppm (and) sets the safe limit for a healthy planet during a time of abrupt greenhouse-driven climate change.” Today’s level is 400 ppm and rising.

    From:
    http://www.climatecodered.org/2016/05/saving-reef-triumph-of-politics-over.html

    Anyway – in 2016 thousands of new jobs are a step closer!

    http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2016/4/3/carmichael-mine-approvals-put-thousands-of-new-jobs-step-closer

  41. The only way I can see this not turning into another Tol-thread, while also avoiding accusations of censorship and having my university tweeted to complain about having comments moderated/deleted, is to ignore Richard T’s comments.

  42. MartinM says:

    …ignore Richard T’s comments.

    Yes, a bit of socially constructed silence would do wonders here.

  43. Willard says:

    > This is not an appeal to authority, but rather an appeal to academic duty.

    We’re been there too, dear Richie:

    > AAUP 1940, clause 2

    Let’s quote that clause from the American Association of University Professors, [Richie]:

    Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject. Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment.

    http://www.aaup.org/report/1940-statement-principles-academic-freedom-and-tenure

    Your notion of academic duty is quite thin, if only because it’s negative: “should be careful not […]”

    There’s also a note:

    Second 1970 comment: The intent of this statement is not to discourage what is “controversial.” Controversy is at the heart of the free academic inquiry which the entire statement is designed to foster. The passage serves to underscore the need for teachers to avoid persistently intruding material which has no relation to their subject.

    http://www.aaup.org/report/1940-statement-principles-academic-freedom-and-tenure#4

    Now, if you please, [Richie], let’s revisit what you said earlier:

    Our academic duty is to refrain from expressing opinions that are unsupported by research.

    It thus seems to me that you transmuted “should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject” into “refrain from expressing opinions that are unsupported by research.”

    I duly submit that this transmutation fails your own notion of academic duty.

    That’s a bit rich, [Richie].

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/a-little-surprised-it-took-this-long/#comment-73563

  44. Magma says:

    MartinM @ 2:20 pm

  45. @willard
    No need to repeat. I take a stronger view on academic duty than the AAUP.

  46. L Hamilton says:

    “Yes, a bit of socially constructed silence would do wonders here.”
    Second that.

  47. I’m not sure it’s working 😉

  48. BBD says:

    and having my university tweeted to complain about having comments moderated/deleted

    That oversteps the mark.

  49. BBD,
    I have every confidence that it was given all the attention that it deserved.

  50. Joshua says:

    ==> That oversteps the mark. ==>

    I don’t know…censorship can’t be tolerated. Anders moderating comments is akin to Lysenko putting people in gulags and McCarthy bringing charges of treason.

  51. BBD says:

    ATTP

    🙂

  52. Eli Rabett says:

    Cripes, who called Bettlejuice?

  53. Richard Tol wrote “Academic duty has that we should refrain from expressing views on things we know nothing about.”

    First to deal with your behaviour towards ATTP, it is very clear that he knows rather more about the physics of climate than most academics, so to portray him as knowing nothing about the subject is (a) insulting and (b) obviously incorrect (and hence foolish). I should point out that for an astronomer with an interest in exoplanets, which may well include topics such as whether they may be earthlike and potentially support life, then an understanding of the basic physics of climate might be rather useful (I know of climatologists with interested in exoplanets, so I suspect the interest goes in both directions). Physics is also a transferrable skill, which can be transferred to other topics, provided you do your homework and learn what has gone before, as ATTP has evidently done.

    It is possible for an academic to have expertise in topics for which they have no formal qualifications, most of us need to pick up new skills through the course of our research without having those skills assessed, other than via our publications. In short, just because someone doesn’t have “climatologist” in their job description, doesn’t mean they know nothing about climate.

    If you want to judge someone’s knowledge of a subject, then the best way to do so is to pay attention to their arguments and see if they are sound. For instance you seem to have a rather weak grasp of statistics, given that several of your papers we have discussed here have substantial statistical flaws (for example, piecewise linear models of small datasets with no analysis of the sensitivity to outliers, the use of the marginal assumption when conditionals are clearly required etc.), which have also been pointed out to you by others.

    I don’t really agree with this, at least in the way your wrote it. There is no problem with academics having views on things (e.g. Stephen Hawkings recent comments about Trump and climate). The thing you should not do is present yourself as an authority on a topic on which you have no expertise. That is not the same thing.

  54. Willard says:

    Nobody did, Eli. Richie just found a Dutch book:

    (1) Find a way to make it about AT, e.g. in this case his authority [1];
    (2) Play the ref, e.g. to go peddle elsewhere how AT is censoring him.

    All it takes him is a few effortless jabs.

    [1]: Yes, Richie – appeals to duty are ad hom and are related to authority.

  55. Richard wrote “No need to repeat. I take a stronger view on academic duty than the AAUP.”

    well if you take an extreme position (beyond the consensus represented by e.g. the AAUP) and are unwilling to justify it further, then don’t be surprised if nobody agrees with you.

    Personally I think it is a hoot that someone that took several weeks to find the five minutes required to check an error in his research that had been pointed out to him in great detail should boast of a stronger view on academic duty! ;o)

  56. Willard says:

    > I take a stronger view on academic duty than the AAUP.

    Oh, and since you repeat the same argument, dear Richie, please note that the AAUP was supposed to be your authority on duty matters:

    [R] Our academic duty is to refrain from expressing opinions that are unsupported by research.

    [W] Citation needed for this comment supported by your research, Rich.

    [R] AAUP 1940, clause 2

    [W] I duly submit that this transmutation fails your own notion of academic duty, which is a bit rich.

    [R] I take a stronger view on academic duty than the AAUP.

    Auditors might refer to what you did at the time and perhaps this do as a kind check kiting, for in the end, it’s quite clear you’re your own authority on authority matters. This may indicate that you have issues with the concept of authority.

    As ever, thank you for your concerns.

  57. Steven Mosher says:

    “I do think, however, that it is less than useful when someone who is engaged in policy-irrelevant research, expresses strong opinions about policy-relevant research.”

    Richard, I expect people will miscontrue this. ( oh look they have).

    “Apparently Richard Tol is creating rules on who is allowed to expression an opinion on policy-relevant research, and if you are an astronomer, apparently that excludes you (whereas I have never seen any economists resist the temptation to comment on anything that takes their fancy, being the new princes at the court of politics, they seem to feel they have a license to).”

    Tol’s argument: It is less than useful
    Objection: Tol is creating rules about who can express opinions.

    It’s very easy to get wrongfooted about arguments.

    The argument is “It is less than useful”
    The counter argument
    A) should not mention Tol or anything about Tol.
    B) should show how it is Useful to have experts in one subject matter express opinions
    on a different subject matter.
    C) could also explore the evidence for the assertion. or argue we have no reason
    to believe it is useless.

    why do I feel like I am grading freshman papers in composition.

  58. RickA says:

    Just for fun I am posting my comment from Lucia’s and would ask that you stop banning me:

    ATTP:
    I don’t mind being moderated.
    However, Willard (I think) put me on some list so my posts are automatically deleted.

    [Playing the ref. -W]

  59. Steven Mosher says:

    “Richard Tol wrote “Anyone is free to express an opinion about anything. But perhaps an astronomer should wonder whether she has anything useful to add to a discussion about policy-relevant research.”

    Sorry Richard, in science it is the correctness of the argument that matters, not the authority of the source (we have moved on a bit since the renaissance). Ideally the same should apply in politics.”

    1. Tol’s argument: ATTP should wonder if he has anything USEFUL to add to a discussion
    about policy relevant matters:
    2. Objection: Science is not about authority.

    Ah well, Tol isnt making an argument about science. His argument
    1. It is less than useless for non experts in policy relevant matters to express opinions on them
    2. ATTP is not an expert on policy relevant matters
    3. ATTP should wonder if he has anything useful to add.

    Its basically the DK argument .. not sure if its more or less offensive than the DK argument.
    “BUT science,” is a pretty weak response, and off target.

    1. Science is not about authority.
    2. Science is about being correct.
    3. ATTP should wonder whether he can make a useful contribution to a subject he is not an expert in.

    I dont find Tol’s position to be controversial. If Tol tried to express opinions about astronomy
    I would tell him he would be better off, and more useful, if he stuck to his knitting.
    I would tell him thank you for your concerns about astronomy Dr. Tol.

    too funny.

  60. RickA,
    Your comment ended up in spam. I don’t know why. It had nothing to do with Willard.

  61. If someone with qualifications in English Literature and Philosophy tried to express opinions about how to BEST measure the Earths temperature, I would listen to what they have to say and judge it on its merits (rather good AFAICS). If Richard had any views on astronomy, I’d not dismiss them just because he is an economist.

  62. I think it is clear that people with qualifications in English Literature and Philosophy do have useful things to say about climate. It is clear that ATTP does have useful things to say about climate, hence our presence.

  63. Willard says:

    > [Richie]s argument: It is less than useful

    It’s not really an argument – it’s just a claim with a vague pronoun predicated by an euphemism. There is no need to offer any counter argument. It’s just a claim, which should be backed up.

    That claim has been backed up with this distinguo:

    This is not an appeal to authority, but rather an appeal to academic duty[:] we should refrain from expressing views on things we know nothing about.

    Since this kind of duty directly implicates authority, Richie’s distinction is rather empty. Also note the switch to “it is” from a “we should” – Richie’s “is” is rather an “ought.” Academics should talk about what they know.

    Notice, however, the switch to ad hom mode, starting with “our dear host.” This switches from “what AT knows about” to “what AT studied for 20 years.” This non sequitur (one’s line of work doesn’t limit our overall knowledge) invalidates Richie’s argument. If you can call it that – it’s more of an excuse to peddle in his usual “but AT.” Then of course Richie dogwhistles that AT knows nothing about climate change because, you know, he is “star gazing.” Step (1) of Richie’s Dutch book, i.e. try to make it about AT, is complete.

    Interestingly, the last part of Richie’s bait and switch has completely been omitted by our grader. Freshmen ought to wonder why.

  64. Joshua says:

    ==> “it is less than useful when someone who is engaged in policy-irrelevant research, expresses strong opinions about policy-relevant research.”” ==>

    Why is it less than useful? How is it less than useful? How is usefulness being measured? On whose opinion is this determination being made?

    For god’s sake, what does “less than useful” even mean?

    ==> I dont find Tol’s position to be controversial.”

    Controversial? No. It’s sameosameo.

    Useful? I don’t find his position useful. Is it less than useful? What does that mean?

    ==> I would tell him he would be better off, and more useful, if he stuck to his knitting. ==>

    Better off? Why? More useful? Why? Does having opinions on astronomy affect someone’s ability to knit?

  65. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    I dont find Tol’s position to be controversial.

    It’s not controversial, just boring.
    You know, like numbered lists that summarize previous comments.

  66. John Hartz says:

    Ultra-conservatives in the U.S. have created a new propaganda machine that may deter climate scientists from publicly speaking about their work. It is, to say the least, a revolting development.

    A secretly funded propaganda site called Core News is publishing stories attacking environmentalists, scientists, and politicians who warn about climate change.

    New Site For Climate “News” Shows The Future Of Oppo Research by Dan Vergano, BuzzFeed News, June 7, 2016

  67. Steven,
    I think there are two ways to interpret Richard’s comment.

    1. It is not useful for non-experts to have an opinion about the details of policy-relevant research. Partly true, but there are clearly many who do not undertake policy-relevant research who could have useful opinions about this research.

    2. It is not useful to have opinions about the results of policy-relevant research. Well, this is odd because research is published so as to inform and to allow people to have opinions that are informed by research, rather than simply made up.

    Of course, I suspect what he really means that it isn’t useful that I have opinions about policy-relevant research. This may, or may not, be true, but that he thinks this is not a surprise.

  68. @wotts
    I meant to say that your opinions on how to do policy-relevant research are useless since you do not speak from experience. The key point is that too much passion blinds objectivity.

  69. Richard,
    Ahh, I see. I’m confused as to why you think you have sufficient expertise to make such a judgement and also at what point one is qualified to have opinions about policy-relevant research?

    Given that we have failed to avoid a Tol-thread it would be appreciated if you treated the above as rhetorical.

  70. Richard wrote “I meant to say that your opinions on how to do policy-relevant research are useless since you do not speak from experience.”

    Ah, so it is just about authority then, how dull.

  71. Willard says:

    Let’s generalize Richie’s concern – one’s opinions on P is useless unless one speaks from experience.

    Therefore:

    (1) AT’s opinion on Gremlins is useless because he can’t speak from experience.

    (2) Richie’s opinion on Gremlins is useful because he speaks from experience.

    I can live with that kind of concern.

    ***

    Of note:

    [D]istinguishing between research with significance for policy and research that is policy actionable — promoting realistic policy actions — can bring analytical clarity to the concept of policy relevance and help enhance efforts to bridge the gap.

    http://warontherocks.com/2015/06/what-is-policy-relevance/

    Any researcher who got grants to do research has at least some experience with policy relevance. OTOH, I’ve yet to see anything from Richie that could be called policy actionable, unless this expression encompasses Gremlins still sold by contrarian think tanks.

    Maybe it’s a vocabulary thing.

  72. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    I meant to say that your opinions on how to do policy-relevant research are useless since you do not speak from experience.

    I may agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your duty not to say it.
    – Evelyn Beatrice Tol

  73. RickA says:

    Thank you ATTP.

    I look forward to being part of the conversation going forward.

  74. BBD says:

    Given your behaviour at Greg’s, I cannot share that enthusiasm, RickA.

  75. In other news, a Judge (core discipline, the law), has reached a ruling against Peabody Coal’s case, which was endeavouring to override Federal estimates on the social cost of carbon The case was supported by contrarian witnesses Spencer, Happer, and Lindzen. It is unclear if Professor Tol (would have) had anything “useful” to say, even though this might be regarded as his area of expertise. In any case, the weight of evidence related to all the claims and ensured Peabody lost the case.

    This was a policy-relevant judgment writ large, but it would be ridiculous to demand that the Judge be a reseracher in GCMs or IAMs, or effects on agriculture, etc., for them to be qualified to come to ‘useful’ conclusions, and a clear verdict.

  76. BBD says:

    I thought Richard was involved in the Peabody case.

  77. BBD,

    He was:

    Richard E., thanks for that article.

  78. PS — perhaps I overstated. Tol’s work was at least cited in the Peabody case.

  79. izen says:

    In well ordered modern societies there is an established system of governance that monitors scientific research for policy relevant implications. Activist scientists may also try and alert government to the importance for policy their research has. There is a whole well oiled bureaucracy of expert scientific advisor that can alert the political system of health, environmental or economic research results that might require policy action.

    In mature systems of governance many subtle paths have developed to enable the quangos and committees to succumb to regulatory capture. In young less formalised governmental organisations simple bribery may suffice.

    Discussion of policy relevant science by the in-expert, those lacking the relevant involvement in the subject or expertise in translating policy relevant science into advice for those with the political power, is a side-show. It may constrain policy by altering what is politically acceptable. But the place where science meets political power is in the experts, advisor and civil servants that the government employs to advise it.

    The mechanism governments have for responding to policy relevant science tend to be reactive. After a flood disaster they review the flood provisions and seek scientific advice. And then ask the economeretricians if they can afford it. Myopia and economics tends to prevent governments from proactive responses to warnings from science.

    Sometimes the system works. Sir Crispen Tickell was advisor to Margaret Thatcher and credited with alerting her to the threat of Global warming. The result was the major speech before the UN calling for global action in 1989.

    Unfortunately scientific advisor can be chosen for the message by some economic and political power groups. Some scientists may be more passionate about the policy their message provides than the science that supports it.
    I see you have caught up with the Tol-Peabody connection…

  80. Willard says:

    Compare and contrast Richie’s Dutch book against AT with his passionate plea for Peabody against Polasky:

    [Richie] states that you have provided testimony “outside [your] area of prior experience and expertise.” […] What response do you have?

    A. [Richie is] incorrect.

    http://www.desmogblog.com/sites/beta.desmogblog.com/files/S.Polasky.20159-113910-02.pdf

  81. Willard says:

    I’m not sure what you overstate, BrandonG:

    Peabody Energy Corporation (Peabody) sponsored the following witnesses:

    Dr. William Happer […] Dr. Richard Lindzen […] Dr. Robert Mendelsohn […] Dr. Roy Spencer […] Dr. [Richie] […] Dr. William Wecker […]

    http://www.desmogblog.com/sites/beta.desmogblog.com/files/Findings.ALJ_.20164-120135-01.pdf

  82. I’m not sure what you overstate, BrandonG

    Thanks Willard, I should have read harder.

    In other other news related to SCC, Judith Curry goes hunting for Uncertainty Monsters and misses a few. No assessment of approaches to actually address the problem itself … apparently because there “is a raging debate on the discrepancy between climate model estimates of ECS (which the NAS report supports) versus the values derived from historical observations using simple energy balance models [which are more difficult to criticize because I support them].”

    She didn’t really say that last bit. No, not really at all. Far from it.

  83. RickA says:

    A quote from the cited article:

    “For instance the two degree target on climate change…Well the emissions are going up like this (the scientist points upwards at a 45 degree angle), so two degrees at the moment seems completely unrealistic. But you’re not allowed to say this.”

    My view is that a scientist should be able to say this and I am sure many do.

    Perhaps the scientist in question was indicating they would be attacked for saying it – which is certainly possible.

    Certainly a scientist can say something like that in a scientific journal, but they can also say it to policy makers (in testimony for example) or in an interview, etc.

    I agree with ATTP – people should be allowed to say what they are comfortable with.

    Some will stick to journals, while others will advocate (push for policy, testify for or against particular policies).

    Those that advocate should expect a wider audience than just other scientists and perhaps more scrutiny.

    But that is to be expected on such an important and controversial topic.

  84. John Hartz says:

    Once again, a comment thread crosses over into the Twilight Zone. 🙂

  85. Willard says:

    Thanks to Richie and his Dutch book, I’ve added Mendelsohn’s “efficient adaptation” line to the Contrarian Matrix:

    https://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com/future-is-bright/

  86. Steven Mosher says:

    “This was a policy-relevant judgment writ large, but it would be ridiculous to demand that the Judge be a reseracher in GCMs or IAMs, or effects on agriculture, etc., for them to be qualified to come to ‘useful’ conclusions, and a clear verdict.

    its useful by definition. The problem is that if the judge had found the opposite what would
    your argument be?

    We dont want people with no knowledge of climate science deciding science issues. Do we?
    The good thing is he didnt decide anything about science. he decided whether or not decisions
    made by others were reasonable. As a judge his area of expertise is determining whether or not
    conclusions are reasonable. Its rather funny because we dont want jurors on murder cases who have committed murder..

    That said, the actual report is quite good.

    it contains numbered paragraphs.. in case those bore you or anyone else

    https://mn.gov/oah/assets/2500-31888-environmental-socioeconomic-costs-carbon-report_tcm19-222628.pdf

    Read to the end to see what he decided exactly.

  87. john mashey says:

    magma:
    “probably the late Stephen Schneider as well.”
    In this case, “probably” means “certainly.” Steve was one of the absolute best I’ve ever seen at communication:
    a) Although skills vary, experts can usually communicate to other experts.
    b) Some experts are also good at speaking for the general audience.
    c) It is really, really hard to speak to a large audience that’s a mixture, because a) will push baack against overly-simple analogies tailored to b). I’ve seen Steve do this wonderfully.

    Unlike some, this really came naturally to Steve, who “emerged from the womb speaking to anyone who would listen.”

    Tol was added to support the Peabody gang in Minnesota case, but didn’t have great influence on the outcome.

  88. Eli Rabett says:

    ATTP, how much do you pay Tol for the drive bys? Just askin

  89. Eli,
    As far as I’m aware, he’s doing it for nothing.

  90. RickA,

    Perhaps the scientist in question was indicating they would be attacked for saying it – which is certainly possible.

    Bearing in mind that the angle of a trend is dependent on the aspect ratio of the plot, I’d say the probability of a climate researcher being attacked simply for publishing the result in a refereed journal is 1. Same for the pal reviewers themselves. This has been going on at least as early as MBH98 and presently happens every time someone Karlizes the past — no additional activism required.

    Anders,

    As far as I’m aware, he’s doing it for nothing.

    Well then he’s clearly overpaid.

  91. Magma says:

    @ john mashey: Based on Schneider’s writings and reputation that doesn’t surprise me in the least, but I never saw him speak in person and have only watched two or three short videos featuring him. That was the only reason for my hesitation; I really should watch more clips when I have a chance.

  92. Steven Mosher,

    The problem is that if the judge had found the opposite what would your argument be?

    Activist judge is among the possible responses along the lines of responses your tu quoque seeks.

    The good thing is he didnt decide anything about science. he decided whether or not decisions made by others were reasonable. As a judge his area of expertise is determining whether or not conclusions are reasonable.

    I agree with your last statement. First statement I question; from p. 116:

    11. The Administrative Law Judge concludes that a preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that the FSCC underestimates the negative effects that increased warming will have on human health.

    12. The Administrative Law Judge concludes that a preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that the IAMs damage functions do not account for a significant number of important environmental impacts which will occur as a result of climate change.

    13. The Administrative Law Judge concludes that, based on unreported and underreported health and environmental impacts, along with the IWG’s acknowledgement that the FSCC is not based on the most current research, the preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that the FSCC understates the full environmental cost of CO2.

    More where that came from. Preponderance of evidence may be more slippery than usual because of the unavoidable reliance on forward-looking models.

    This also caught my eye:

    [p. ] 43. The Administrative Law Judge concludes that the Agencies and CEOs demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that, given the increased scientific certainty of the link between CO2 emissions and climate change, uncertainties such as the potential danger of a “tipping point” catastrophe reasonably require an initially high SCC until more is known about such uncertainties.

    [pp. 126-7] Even if the Commission understands the 1997 Order to be based on an implicit adoption of Judge Klein’s “conservative cost value” approach, this Administrative Law Judge respectfully recommends that the Commission not follow that approach in this proceeding. Judge Klein did not explain the reasoning underlying his statement that “the possibility of utilities paying more for resources than their environmental benefits justify is just as bad as paying less than their benefits justify.” Judge Klein did not say why the Commission should have been more concerned about risking an error that would cost more money than absolutely necessary to avoid environmental damage than an error that would cost more damage because too little money was spent. Perhaps, in 1997, the science was less clear than it was by 2015 about the consequences of allowing climate change to continue.

    … or perhaps Judge LauraSue Schlatter agrees with me that “but uncertainty” as an argument for SCC on the order of zero or less is bonkers. Was there anything else toward the end you think I missed?

  93. At the risk of making a further pest of myself, here is an example of RickA kidnapping a discussion:
    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2016/06/02/mark-steyns-latest-trick/

    Some here were involved in that discussion, and aTTP is nothing if not courteous; it s unfortunate that he has found another place to spread his distractionalist wings. Perhaps the responses will be informative, and even more perhaps, RickA will open his mind and learn something.

  94. izen says:

    @-“As far as I’m aware, he’s doing it for nothing.”

    Must be passion-fuelled activism then…

  95. John Mashey says:

    If people look at the DeSmog post mentioned earlier:
    1) There’s a link to the ALJ’s page, definitely she, not he.

    2) There are links to most of the key testimonies and briefs, of which many are annotated/shaded copies.

    3) The ALJ’s. findings didn’t spring from nowhere, there are thousands of pages of testimonies, briefs, and Issues Matrix.

    4) Among other things, there were 2 NAS Members for relevant subjects (Polasky and Hanemann) who explained why they thought danages were underestimated, and the ALJ obviously deemed them and their testimony more credible than Mendelsohn and Bezdek.

  96. MarkB says:

    The documents for the Minnesota Department of Commerce Social Cost of Carbon hearing are directly available from their website as indexed here: here

    Tol’s submittal, for instance is here: here

    [Mod: changed to links because of overlong lines]

  97. “It’s not really an argument – it’s just a claim with a vague pronoun predicated by an euphemism. There is no need to offer any counter argument. It’s just a claim, which should be backed up.”

    It’s weird that you think claims should be backed up.
    It’s obviously not true for all claims ( unless you are a foundationalist who thinks there
    is some epistemic bedrock that everything must stand on.
    Dr. Tol gets to have his opinion without requiring any defense or rational.
    He actually gets to think that you are ugly or dumb or that your opinion is useless.
    Moreoever, he doesn’t need to justify that belief to anyone. He can choose to.

    “That claim has been backed up with this distinguo:

    This is not an appeal to authority, but rather an appeal to academic duty[:] we should refrain from expressing views on things we know nothing about.”

    Since this kind of duty directly implicates authority, Richie’s distinction is rather empty. Also note the switch to “it is” from a “we should” – Richie’s “is” is rather an “ought.” Academics should talk about what they know.

    It doesnt implicate authority. It implicates a contract that academics have freely consented
    to or submitted to.

    Notice, however, the switch to ad hom mode, starting with “our dear host.” This switches from “what AT knows about” to “what AT studied for 20 years.” This non sequitur (one’s line of work doesn’t limit our overall knowledge) invalidates Richie’s argument. If you can call it that – it’s more of an excuse to peddle in his usual “but AT.” Then of course Richie dogwhistles that AT knows nothing about climate change because, you know, he is “star gazing.” Step (1) of Richie’s Dutch book, i.e. try to make it about AT, is complete.

    Interestingly, the last part of Richie’s bait and switch has completely been omitted by our grader. Freshmen ought to wonder why.

    If you want me to grade Dr. Toll just ask. My goal is to see if I can amend his argument,
    strip it of the obvious flaws, and get to a core issue. Take its strongest form That is, practice charity.

    So lets get to that.

    Assignment for folks.

    Do academics have special obligations to the public when they communicate about a subject matter where they have no accredited expertise.

    We can reframe that question. Should ATTP put trigger warnings on his posts about policy
    relevant science so that Dr. Tol does not get upset?

    Examples: When a politician says “I’m no scientist”. When a scientist says “Im no economist, but ” ( I’ll find the hansen video ),

    An interesting discussion ( one devoid of references to Dr. Tol or Dr. ATTP) could be had
    on the following subjects

    1. The rhetoric of disclaimers… I’m no scientist but, I’m no lawyer but,.. included in here
    would be the situations where one “speaks as” For example in the recent GMU
    FOIA case, where academics have to take care in separating their public work
    from private advocacy.

    2. or… one could frame Dr. Tol’s concerns in this
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/an-update-on-cp-snows-two-cultures/

  98. Brandon

    ‘… or perhaps Judge LauraSue Schlatter agrees with me that “but uncertainty” as an argument for SCC on the order of zero or less is bonkers. Was there anything else toward the end you think I missed?”

    There was a ton of interesting stuff in the document. Some real gems. I think if you had the time
    it would make a really interesting piece to do a synopsis of. As you know I’m rather fond of telling skeptics that they dont get to decide policy, and they dont get to decide what evidence policy makers get to use and how they get to use it. I think it would really interesting to go through the judge’s decision.. what is actually being judged and how. Perponderance didnt bother me.. that would be my basic point against skeptics. Let me unpack that. Skeptics will often argue that we can use GCM for policy because they are no fit for purpose. Well, if the purpose is making policy, then they seem fit for purpose. Policy doesnt require 95% confidence or guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Going through the judges decision would be really interesting.. Imagine the fights with Brandon S you could have.

    Psst I’m glad you read it somebody could write up a really interesting piece using that as a grounding. Lots of different angles.. I would suggest a Flame war title: How skeptics lost the debate. haha

  99. Willard says:

    > It’s weird that you think claims should be backed up. It’s obviously not true for all claims […]

    It’s true of arguments:

    [Richie]s argument: It is less than useful

    Richie actually backed up that claim using a bogus distinction.

    It’s weird that our grader etc.

    ***

    > He actually gets to think that you are ugly or dumb or that your opinion is useless. Moreoever, he doesn’t need to justify that belief to anyone. He can choose to.

    Then don’t call it an argument.

    So weird.

    ***

    > It doesnt implicate authority. It implicates a contract that academics have freely consented to or submitted to.

    First, that contract doesn’t really exist.

    Second, Richie’s opinion goes beyond the authority he cited:

    I take a stronger view on academic duty than the AAUP.

    Third, Richie’s sense of duty clearly implies authority, for here’s Richie again:

    I meant to say that your opinions on how to do policy-relevant research are useless since you do not speak from experience.

    Richie’s argument therefore goes from experience to authority, and from authority to duty.

    ***

    Interestingly, the last part of Richie’s bait and switch is again completely been omitted by our grader. Freshmen ought to wonder why.

    Weirder and weirder.

  100. In my broad acquaintance with scientists the best ones do it for love of truth in its broadest sense, as far as I know. Certainly true of my father (PW) and Feynman.

    Unskeptical “skepticism” has muddied the waters and made it nasty, which is hard on climate specialists in the public eye, but they still do it because it is interesting, in many cases useful, and worth doing.

    Something like one of my reasons for choosing art: a problem I can never quite solve, that keeps opening doors. My best drawing students (MIT) were often also the best [scientists]; they had open minds and knew how to work, with very little ego.

    One of the deepest tragedies of the politicization of factual explorations and the pursuit of truth is the corruption of this ideal.

  101. @William Connolley

    As to the poor dahling little scientist who was “attacked” by her colleagues – from what is quoted, you can’t tell if that was an “attack” or, as rather more likely, constructive criticism.

    In Cambridge you are insulated from this kind of thing. What it you were in Texas and it was your baby? This was after Rush Limbaugh and others had pressured Newt Gingrich into deleting a chapter he’d had her write on climate change during his presidential campaign.

    I got an email the other day so obscene I had to file a police report. They mentioned my child. It had all kinds of sexual perversions in it – it just makes your skin crawl, but I take heart from the fact that my colleagues have gone before me – this is not unusual.

    and

    Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University, who does outreach with evangelical Christians, says she can receive up to 200 emails and letters a day following a media appearance, telling her she’s a fraud and a liar, threatening her family and challenging her religious views. People have also shown up unannounced and agitated at her office to confront her about her scientific views.

    “One email I got said something like, ‘I hope your child sees your head in a basket after you’ve been guillotined for all the fraud you climate scientists have been committing,'” Hayhoe said.

    “There are people who become dedicated to following you, who have Google alerts set up on your name, who stalk your Twitter and Facebook accounts, who essentially make a career out of ridiculing and vilifying you,” Hayhoe said.

    http://insideclimatenews.org/news/11122015/climate-change-global-warming-denial-ugly-side-scientists-hate-mail-hayhoe-mann

  102. Steven Mosher says:

    “Then don’t call it an argument.

    So weird.”

    I will if I want to, its a perfectly reasonable use of the term.

  103. Thanks for the repair; so quick! 🙂

    One more, Kerry Emanuel (also threatens his family). Mike Mann is also attacked:

    Similar attacks have been leveled against MIT scientist Kerry Emanuel following his speech at a forum for Republicans concerned about climate change. The “frenzy of hate” he’s received include threats to his wife.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-valk/katharine-hayhoe-gingrich_b_1202490.html

  104. Steven Mosher says:

    “> It doesnt implicate authority. It implicates a contract that academics have freely consented to or submitted to.

    First, that contract doesn’t really exist.”

    Sure it does. A contract doesnt have to be explicit or signed to exist. One of the things that explains verbal constructions and disclaimers like “I’m no scientist” is that we expect people who speak with authority in one field to acknowledge when they are speaking outside their area of expertise. Of course Dr. ATTP or you or I can say, “look, I don’t accept that, I never signed on to that, but pretending these expectations dont exist is just a sort of denialism.

  105. > This was after Rush Limbaugh and others had pressured Newt Gingrich… I got an email the other day so obscene I had to file a police report

    But that has nothing to do with her colleagues.

  106. Steven Mosher says:

    “Second, Richie’s opinion goes beyond the authority he cited:

    I take a stronger view on academic duty than the AAUP.

    Huh? he states his view. That’s hardly an appeal to authority. I read this charitably.
    Dr. Tol believes that academics have agreed to abide by certain rules with regard to
    discourse. I will say tha when I have reviewed private discourse between academics
    or attended private meetings with academics a fair amount of the discourse centers
    around how they should speak publically. It’s rather common for people in business
    or people in academia to differentiate betweeen their institutional speaking or public
    speaking and their private speaking or speaking as a private person. What Dr. Tol
    says is true. it looks like he takes a stronger view on academic duty than Dr. ATTP.

  107. Steven Mosher says:

    “Third, Richie’s sense of duty clearly implies authority, for here’s Richie again:

    I meant to say that your opinions on how to do policy-relevant research are useless since you do not speak from experience.”

    I don’t read it that way at all. Let’s just say there were countless times I was informed that doing
    blog posts and comments on blogs about science was useless, because that is not how science
    is done. That looks like an appeal to authority when it fact its just an appeal to how the world works. And again what dr. Tol claims seems to be consistent with the facts. If you dont do policy relevant research, then your opinions on how to do it are pretty useless. They are useless to the people already doing it, and useless to folks who consume this research. Now of course, lightning
    could strike and someone outside a field could say ” you are doing it all wrong!’ yes yes the Mcintyre’s of the world exist. There are outsiders who can spot things insiders miss. And yes there are unicorns like Dikran who have skills that can be useful across many fields.

    So you have a paper that you think totally upsets the way policy relevant science is done.
    and you show it to two Dr’s

    1. A Dr. who specializes in policy relevant science
    2. A Dr. of rhetoric

    if you know nothing which Dr.s opinion is going to be more useful? on average.

  108. izen says:

    @-“For example in the recent GMU FOIA case, where academics have to take care in separating their public work from private advocacy.”

    That would seem to be a clear case of a socially constructed silence.

    Although in reading of the case I am still unclear if it is ANY use of taxpayer funded time and facilities that is the offence, or if it was the particular advocacy they colluded in that makes them culpable.

    If the same scientists had been communicating on any private matter (how are the kids?) would it attract the same legal challenge, or is the advocacy the transgression?

    Public work and private advocacy…
    “…illustrates everything that is wrong with climate research. Studies are praised because the results are politically expedient rather than scientifically valid. Research scandals are covered up. Whistleblowers are vilified.”

  109. Willard says:

    > One of the things that explains verbal constructions and disclaimers like “I’m no scientist” is that we expect people who speak with authority in one field to acknowledge when they are speaking outside their area of expertise.

    Yet:

    It doesnt implicate authority. It implicates a contract that academics have freely consented to or submitted to.

    You can’t make this up.

  110. > or if it was the particular advocacy they colluded in that makes them culpable

    Pardon? All that happened was that their sent-from-work-account emails were FOIA’d. No-one credible has said they are culpable of any offence.

  111. John Mashey says:

    One can go directly to the Minnesota case… ~550 documents, in reverse irder chronologically, sometimes with corrections or replacements.
    Or ine can go to DeSmog post, which actually organizes the key files by structure, either with:
    1) Links directly to unannotated files at MN.
    2) Links to annotated copies of files, each of which starts with a link to the unannotated originals. Especially important are the cross-referenced/annotated Issues and Findings files.

    But people can feel free to start from scratch and spend a few weeks sorting through documents and reading a few thousand pages.

  112. Willard says:

    > Huh? he states his view. That’s hardly an appeal to authority.

    Richie stated a view that is stronger than the authority he cites to back it up, and he injected “policy-relevant research” to include him and exclude AT from those who should opine publicly and authoritatively. The last part of Richie’s bait and switch has again been omitted by our grader. Freshmen ought to wonder why.

    Parsomatics exercices should be left for Lucia’s.

  113. Eli Rabett says:

    WRT the Minnesota case it is important to keep in mind that the administrative law starts with the presumption that the state working group’s proposed rulings are reasonable. Thus the coal companies to win had to show that they were not reasonable, a very high barrier.

    That the plaintiff’s were reduced to using Happer and Lindzen is a pretty good indication of how bare the cupboard is on that side.

  114. Steven Mosher,

    Some real gems.

    I did find it eminently quotable.

    I think if you had the time it would make a really interesting piece to do a synopsis of.

    If only for my own benefit, I think so too.

    Imagine the fights with Brandon S you could have.

    lol. Thanks for that demotivation — I don’t need to write an entire article for that; a paragraph would suffice.

    I would suggest a Flame war title: How skeptics lost the debate.

    Yes, that could be good for a larf or two, but I think it’s been used. Actually, I think it’s been overdone.

    As you know I’m rather fond of telling skeptics that they dont get to decide policy, and they dont get to decide what evidence policy makers get to use and how they get to use it.

    Another inconvenient reality; this skeptic doesn’t like it either. I’m of the mind that Congrisscritters’ offices are as an important workspace for domain experts as their labs are. They clearly can be effective on the witness stand.

    Perponderance didnt bother me.. that would be my basic point against skeptics.

    Sure. My point was that mostly helps understand the past and present, but is rather silent on the future. Which nicely segues into …

    Policy doesnt require 95% confidence or guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Yup, it only requires enough of the right peoples’ signatures. To restate one of your main points: this looks to be a case study in how properly skeptical thinkers evaluate opposing claims when they themselves lack domain expertise.

  115. @Dr. Connolley: I was trying not to put in too much; I think the connection with Dr. Hayhoe was that she knew others had suffered similar treatment (multiple abusive attacks, granted, to a large extent only written; you get ’em too, I’ve seen your borehole). It’s the torture and death threats on the families that I didn’t think merit “poor dahling” … The Limbaugh-Gingrich history is a snapshot of our US mess, out of date.

    Moving on, policy and who gets to decide: I think I linked earlier to Congress defunding climate science: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/u-s-congress-aims-to-cut-climate-science/

    It’s troubling; Rep. Lamar Smith and Senator Cruz are respective heads of science committees in our Congress, and are using Christy, Happer, Curry, Steyn, and others (Pielke Jr. used to be a regular, and they’ve also used Monckton, but not recently)) along with right-wing attack dog Judicial Watch to claim the climate record is criminal collusion with Obama and Democrats. I have a hard time keeping my temper about this. Unfortunately, your Cameron/Osborne don’t seem to be far behind in the hypocrisy department, though in a more civilized appearing sort of way. My opinion, Drax is a scandal without excuse, too.

    (Sadly, I can’t seem to help mashing up science/result/policy which can be messy and unhelpful at times, particularly watching the careful patient work some of you do.)

  116. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Steven Mosher wrote “I don’t read it that way at all. Let’s just say there were countless times I was informed that doing blog posts and comments on blogs about science was useless, because that is not how science is done. ”

    I disagree, the medium via which science is achieved is largely irrelevant, what matters is the methods. There is no reason whatsoever science can’t be pursued via blogs, the new forms of on-line open review are basically doing just that.

    “If you dont do policy relevant research, then your opinions on how to do it are pretty useless. are useless to the people already doing it, and useless to folks who consume this research.”

    No, that depends on what the opinions are and whether they are correct. Human beings are great at self-delusion and if we use a lack of authority as a means of avoiding addressing an inconvenient argument then we have taken a step on a very slippery slope indeed.

    “There are outsiders who can spot things insiders miss. And yes there are unicorns like Dikran who have skills that can be useful across many fields.”

    I’m not a unicorn (not a marsupial; a wombat perhaps). There are plenty of people with skills useful across many fields, physicists, mathematicians, statisticians, computer scientists, engineers. There are also plenty of people with hubris who merely think they have skills useful across many fields, such that they don’t feel the need to do their homework when moving into a new field. It isn’t restricted to blogs though, just human nature.

    Ultimately RIchard is wrong, authority shouldn’t matter, only the validity of the argument; ATTP clearly does have useful things to say.

    I should point out that another way in which bloggers can contribute to the science is in science communication, not everybody has the skills both to understand the science and to communicate it to the general public. In some senses, the experts in a particular topic are not necessarily the best people to do this as they often don’t have a good appreciation of the misunderstandings that the general public are likely to have (as they themselves understand the issues to the point of it becoming second nature).

  117. @Steve Mosher
    Thanks. That is indeed the point. Like many others, I have a keen interest in astronomy and pensions policy. However, my recognized expertise lies in climate change. So, in public, I keep mum about other topics dear to my heart because (a) I don’t think anyone should be interested in my opinion and (b) chances are I’ll make an embarrassing mistake.

    Others are free to draw the line on public engagement elsewhere.

  118. Richard,

    chances are I’ll make an embarrassing mistake.

    You seem to think that this only applies to subjects about which you have no apparent expertise.

  119. Richard,
    Just to be clear. Anthony Watts writing a blog is fine? Andrew Montford? Marc Morano? But I should avoid it because, by being an academic, I have some obligation to not make public comments about a topic that is not directly related to my research? Again, feel free to treat this question as rhetorical.

  120. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Richard Tol wrote “However, my recognized expertise lies in climate change.”

    No, your recognised expertise lies in environmental economics.

    “chances are I’ll make an embarrassing mistake.”

    What like use null ritual statistical tests where we know a-priori that there will definitely be a difference (so the test is meaningless), or using marginal probabilities where conditional probabilities are clearly required, or perfoming an analysis of a small dataset using a piecewise linear model and not investigating the consequences of obvious outlier candidates (which happen to be your own previous work), having errors in your spreadsheet? Making mistakes ought not to be too embarrassing (we all make them), at least not compared with the endless evasion when we try and discuss them, or appeals to your own authority and questioning that of others, or taking weeks to find the five minutes required to check errors in your spreadsheet after they have been pointed out in detail.

  121. ATTP

    I gave Richard Tol’s (RT) ‘Rebuttal’ to the Peabody hearing (linked to earlier in this thread) an admittedly quick read. A few things caught my eye. Firstly lines 174-176:

    174 Professor Mendelsohn’s testimony in this case used discount rates between 3% and
    175 7%, and climate sensitivity values between 1.0 and 3.0. My Table 1 above shows the results
    176 of the FUND model using various discount rates.

    Now clearly his primary concern is with the discount rates used, but I am surprised he did not say something like …

    “But of course, the IPCC range for ECS is in the range 1.5 to 4.5 (Centigrade), and I will now present the 176b full 1range for the SCC given this ECS range.”

    (Note: in his chat with Roger Harrabin he said “I mean the two degrees target is a past station, right? We should be looking towards three, four, five degrees”)

    I was at a dinner with some old Darwin College buddies a few weeks back and was asking someone who has worked in energy policy and economics about IAMs. He said to me “if you think GCM’s are difficult in respect of uncertainties then IAM’s are much much more problematic.”

    I am not sure RT shares this perspective. He seems to believe that the output of IAMs can be presented as a simple $ value, and driver of mitigation (or not) policy, but then to not miss an opportunity to knock GCMs – to assert or imply that assessing the physical changes to the climate from increased CO2 is so problematic it should be treated with suspicion at best e.g.:

    233 A change in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide leads to a change in
    234 radiative forcing of the atmosphere. However, the change in radiative forcing depends on
    235 radiative forcing itself.
    236 A change in radiative forcing leads to a change in climate. This change in climate
    237 sets in motion a number of feedback effects, each of which lead to further climate change and
    238 many of which vary with climate itself.
    239 This makes it rather difficult to estimate the climate effect of carbon dioxide
    240 emissions, and indeed that effect varies over time and is contingent on human choices within
    241 the domain of climate policy (e.g., emissions, land use) as well as outside that domain (e.g.,
    242 fertilization).

    … and compounds this with a perhaps unwisely replaying his 97% consensus view (i.e. trying to suggest there is no such consensus). This is bordering on disingenuous, I would say, because RT has conceded (somewhere in this parish) that the consensus is greater than (what was the figure) about 90%? He could have said in his ‘rebuttal’ that he was critiquing the methodology (right or wrong), not the essential conclusion: “… but there is clearly an overwhelming consensus amongst climate scientists that man-made emissions are causing global warming”.

    But again he seems to want to muddy the waters with ..

    187 … Accordingly, current models do not disaggregate the
    188 effects of human-induced warming and natural variability, and work on that issue is just in its
    189 infancy.

    Implying that at least the impact of anthropogenic contributions and natural ones are likely to be similar over the relevant period (e.g. up to 2100), whereas we know that the former will dominate in terms of physical effects, and thereby, economically.

    And what of externalities that the IAMs naturally struggle to quantify? Is this mentioned in the rebuttal? Take a guess.

    I am no economist, but externalities seem to have been highly discounted. If so, is that not an egregious omission?

  122. @wotts
    Yes, you should behave differently because you are no longer an anonymous blogger but rather an identified university professor. For starters, you should read Amartya Sen on agency.

    @Richard E
    Because IAMs consider a much larger part of the climate problem, they have all the issues with GCMs plus a whole lot of other issues.

  123. Richard,
    I think you should behave differently too, but I have no doubt that you have no interest in my views about that or that you are likely to ever do so.

    Also, obviously I should behave differently to Watts, Montford, Morano,…. and would like to think that I do. Most of what they promote is nonsense. The question was why you seem to think an academic should be discouraged from engaging in this topic. Personally, I think anyone should be free to do so and that one should argue against what they say, rather than who they are. The latter is typically referred to as an ad hom.

    no longer an anonymous blogger but rather an identified university professor.

    I’m not sure what difference this makes. I started blogging 3 years ago and commenting elsewhere, and that’s what I still do. People now typically know who I am, and I’ve published a few papers along the way, but I see no reason why that should change what I do here.

    Again, I’m not expecting any kind of reasoned response from you and I don’t really regard this as a discussion worth having. I just find it interesting that you seem to think that it is.

  124. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Richard, that is absurd, so academics are allowed to comment if they do so anonymously, but have to be silent if their identity is revealed by others? In other words those who don’t like the message can silence it by discovering the identity of the anonymous source and revealing it? Of course that would then leave them open to the criticism that they were speaking anonymously rather than being open. Ideal opportunity for having cake and eating it.

    As I said, as long as the academic doesn’t present themselves as being a recognized expert on a topic where they do not actually have that expertise there is no problem.

  125. Dikran Marsupial says:

    ATTP wrote “Richard, I think you should behave differently too,”

    I certainly agree there. The constant evasion of criticism that Richard engages in is a far worse abrogation of “academic duty” than that actually being discussed (and especially the hyperbolic version that Richard espouses).

  126. In other words those who don’t like the message can silence it by discovering the identity of the anonymous source and revealing it?

    That Richard has been credited with helping to identify who I am is – of course – purely coincidental.

  127. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Richard, Freeman Dyson is an academic, without substantial recognized expertise in climate change AFAICS (but I am willing to be corrected of course if you have evidence to the contrary), do you think he should publicly express his opinions on that topic?

    How about William Happer?

  128. John Mashey says:

    Eli:
    “WRT the Minnesota case it is important to keep in mind that the administrative law starts with the presumption that the state working group’s proposed rulings are reasonable. Thus the coal companies to win had to show that they were not reasonable, a very high barrier.

    That the plaintiff’s were reduced to using Happer and Lindzen is a pretty good indication of how bare the cupboard is on that side.”

    It’s more complicated than that.
    1) MN is pretty good on public policy, and the PUC wanted a contested court case up front. I.e. The CEOs and Agencies basically said FSCC is as good as we’ve got, is at least reasonable, despite any issues with climate models and especially IAMs.
    The FSCC = methodology, which produces a set of SCC values.

    2) The bar was really: show FSCC wasn’t reasonable, and propose a better methodology.
    Peabody provided multiple answers, by running IAMs (DICE and FUND) with parameters rather different than usual, and their bottom lines (3-handed economist style) was that SCC should be zero ir negative, but certainly no more than the existing low numbers.

    3) Peabody also used Spencer (satellites uber alles) and to some extent Bezdek on science arguments.

  129. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    I notice that you didn’t address this question from Anders:

    ==> Ahh, I see. I’m confused as to why you think you have sufficient expertise to make such a judgement…?

    I am also wondering if you might describe your background in researching how the public forms opinions on issues such as climate change. If I’m not mistaken, you have expressed views on that subject, under your name, at this blog, without qualifying you’re opinions with an explanation that you have no expertise on the topic. So, given your standards, you must have such expertise, and I’m curious to know what that expertise comprises.

  130. Willard says:

    > So, in public, I keep mum about other topics dear to my heart […]

    Richie’s tweeterer might be enough to disprove that.

    ***

    Is there some kind of academic duty that would prevent Richie from handwaving to a citation that doesn’t support his own position?

  131. Eli Rabett says:

    Since the damage function in dice is an arbitrary quadratic, that is a bit much. Given that too, it is hard to regard DICE as more than a spitball on the issue of SCC.

  132. Joshua says:

    FYI. It seems that a large % of my comments are ending up in moderation (one just did). I know you’re big time into “censorship,” but this is just to much to endure.

  133. @wotts
    As I said, a good starting point is Sen’s work on agency. It is obvious from your remarks that you have not read it.

  134. Richard,
    I haven’t read it, but I did look it up. I suspect you should familiarise yourself with the concept of a Straw man argument.

  135. I shouldn’t rely on wikipedia, but this was interesting.

    That is, in order to be agents of their lives, people need the freedom to be educated, speak in public without fear, express themselves, associate, etc.; conversely, people can establish such an environment by being agents.

    Maybe Richard can clarify if this is a reasonable representation of what is presented in Sen’s work about agency, and in what way I’m doing something that isn’t consistent with this idea. As usual, Richard is welcome to treat this as rhetorical. We have clearly failed – once again – to have a thread that isn’t dominated by Tol.

  136. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Richard, are Ian Plimer, Freeman Dyson and William Happer recognized experts on climate change (note all are on the academic advisory council of the GWPF and all have expressed their opinions on climate change which are at variance with the mainstream scientific view)?

    Did you attempt to assist or advise others in exposing the identity of ATTP?

  137. @wotts
    No, that’s capability rather than agency.

  138. rconnor says:

    One wonders whether Tol, as an academic, has the expertise in agency and choice theory required, in a Tolarian sense, to publically comment on Sen’s work (which appears “less than useful” given the context).

    (Note: I have not broken a Tolarian rules in this comment. As a non-academic, and an anonymous one at that, I am free to publically make this comment, regardless of my level of expertise on agency, choice theory or mind reading.)

  139. @connor
    I’ve taught Sen for 15 years, and have published in welfare economics for 20 years.

  140. Phil says:

    Notable, to someone who mostly lurks here, that Richard Tol seems unable to answer Dikran’s question about Plimer, Happer and Dyson. One could also, on a slightly different tack, throw in the name of Richard Muller, who clearly wasn’t a recognised expert on climate change before starting BEST. Does Richard think he is now and if so how does Richard think he got there ?

  141. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Phil, I think Muller had done some climate work some time ago, but again I don’t think it would be reasonable to describe him as a recognized expert on climate change, although he has a better case than the others. The point is of course that Richard seems to be rather asymmetric in his criticism. I very much doubt he would directly criticize any of those named in the way that he has criticized ATTP, I shouldn’t have thought the GWPF would be too pleased with him!

  142. Richard,

    No, that’s capability rather than agency.

    Odd, because the next line says

    In summary, the agency aspect is important in assessing what a person can do in line with his or her conception of the good.[9]

  143. Willard says:

    > I’ve taught Sen for 15 years, and have published in welfare economics for 20 years.

    In other words, Richie hasn’t published anything on Sen, and mainly published on economics of climate change, using for the most part the very basic welfare specifications in his FUND model.

  144. Willard says:

    I’m not sure exactly how Sen’s theories are supposed to buttress Richie’s ad hominem, AT, but you might be interested in that backstory where the name of Sen has been mentioned:

    Here is an interesting book to start on the fact/value dichotomy:

    http://www.amazon.com/Collapse-Value-Dichotomy-Other-Essays/dp/0674013808

    Blurb:

    > Hume’s and much 20th-century moral philosophy contrasted moral with factual judgments and led people to conclude that the former, unlike the latter, are subjective in the sense of not being rationally supportable. Putnam (philosophy, emeritus, Harvard) believes that the contrast is ill conceived and that the conclusion is both unwarranted and false. He acknowledges the usefulness of the fact/value distinction but denies that anything metaphysical follows from it. Indeed, he goes so far as to assert that knowledge of facts presupposes knowledge of values. He grounds his argument in Amartya Sen’s discussions of non-self interested human motives and of “capabilities” people rationally value and enjoy freely exercising.

    It costs less than **The Honest Broker**. I am an honest broker: I won’t tell you to buy Putnam book instead, only point out it’s cheaper and that the blurb mentions Sen 😉

    Here is an interesting analysis from Lars Bergström, showing what a “review” looks like in contemporary analytical philosophy:

    http://www.philosophy.su.se/texter/putnam.htm

    Interestingly, in that episode Richie was accusing MT of being an authoritarian.

  145. Interestingly, in that episode Richie was accusing MT of being an authoritarian.

    Yes, I remember that. I think he has tried something similar here, but I can’t quite find it.

  146. rconnor says:

    Dr. Tol,

    And in those 15-20 years, how many were spent discussing Sen’s views on the impact anonymity has on one’s academic duty to only speak publically on one’s area(s) of expertise (which was the context you brought up Sen here) and not Sen’s economic theory (which is irrelevant here)? Your relevant expertise on Sen, in this context, is what I’m unclear on (as well as the relevancy of Sen’s work, in this context…).

    The fact that you’d choose to answer my ponderings while ignoring Dikran’s direct (and repeated) questions may violate some non-Tolarian rules of discourse.

  147. @connor
    I’m not aware of Sen’s opinion, if any, on speaking in public. I deduce from your remark that you have not read his work on agency either.

  148. Willard says:

    Regarding Richie’s authoritativeness on social welfare functions, here’s the abstract of a review of the kind of work Richie does:

    This paper reviews the application of social welfare functions (SWFs) in welfare-maximizing climate policy analysis. We identify several methodological inconsistencies, analyze their policy implications, discuss the theoretical questions raised by them, and provide recommendations for future studies. Our review finds that several SWFs applied in climate policy analysis are internally inconsistent. In particular, different methods for calculating the present values of alternative policy options lead to vastly different cost estimates. This topic has not been discussed in the literature despite the large attention that the discounting problem has generally received in the climate change context. The close link with the index number problem implies that there is no single ‘correct’ method for comparing the present values of alternative climate policies or other long-term policies involving significantly different economic trajectories. We also find that the uncritical combination of different SWFs can lead to erroneous results since they aggregate differently across time, population groups, states of the world, and components of economic output. We conclude that the translation of non-monetary welfare differences into monetary units is not generally possible. In particular, we show that no discounting scheme for certainty equivalents is consistent with expected discounted utility, which limits the use of certainty equivalents to account for risk aversion in intertemporal problems. Finally, we provide recommendations for avoiding the problems identified here in future climate policy analysis and show how the disregard of these recommendations in some recent studies has lead to artefactual results.

    A snapshot:

    Nevertheless, if I ever needed a GRRROWTH guru, Richie would be my man.

  149. Willard says:

    > I’m not aware of Sen’s opinion, if any, on speaking in public.

    That’s interesting, for here’s how this sub-game started:

    Yes, you should behave differently because you are no longer an anonymous blogger but rather an identified university professor. For starters, you should read Amartya Sen on agency.

    While parsomatics afficionadoes may wonder why AT would need to read Sen because he’s not anynymous anymore, I interpreted Richie’s lip service to Sen as a way to support his distinction between pseudonymity (anonymity being another thing, dear Richie) and identified persons. In other words, I got the feeling Richie was informing AT that Sen’s concept of agency (it’s not really his alone, but let’s play along) would help him mansplain why pseudonym commenters don’t have agency, while identified commenters had some.

    Maybe it’s a vocabulary thing.

  150. Dikran Marsupial says:

    Richard here is a reminder of the questions you are ducking, despite being reminded by Phil, a reminder you surely saw as you responded to his comment:

    Reminder #1 Richard, are Ian Plimer, Freeman Dyson and William Happer recognized experts on climate change (note all are on the academic advisory council of the GWPF and all have expressed their opinions on climate change which are at variance with the mainstream scientific view)?

    Reminder #1 Did you attempt to assist or advise others in exposing the identity of ATTP?

    I ask the first question to see if this really is about academic duty, or just rhetoric seeking to prevent ATTP from making criticisms of your argument. If this is not partisan rhetoric, there is no reason why you should not comment on Plimer, Dyson or Happer.

    I ask the second question because it would be deeply shabby to suggest that ATTP needs to change his behavior now that his pseudonym no longer provides anonymity if you were involved in breaking that anonymity. It would suggest that again, this is just a rhetorical argument designed to silence ATTP rather than being about academic duty. You can make your involvement clear by giving a direct answer to the question, of course you may not want to do that.

  151. izen says:

    @-William Connolley
    ” All that happened was that their sent-from-work-account emails were FOIA’d. No-one credible has said they are culpable of any offence.”

    Only the incredible?

    That they were FOIA’d indicates
    1) They are not in the public domain
    2) Incredible people think they SHOULD be, because taxpayers..
    3) There would be no point in FIOA’ing the work emails unless the incredibles thought there was evidence of an offence.

    If the sent-from-work emails can legitimately contain private matters, including arranging climate advocacy, then the content would be irrelevant and FOIA’ing would make no sense.

    It is a specific case of a socially constructed silence.
    Either it is totally legitimate for the scientists involved to use the work emails in this way, or they have committed an offence of misusing the work emails by discussing non-work related matters.
    Is that ANY non-work related matter, or is the climate advocacy the issue of misuse?

  152. Willard says:

    > I think he has tried something similar here, but I can’t quite find it.

    Perhaps here:

    The object of the game, as I see it, is either to make you “lose it”. There are many ways to make you lose it. Attacks on your competence, your integrity, your relevance, your probity, etc. Or just waste your time chasing squirrel after squirrel, i.e. dragging you on any topic except the one you chose to discuss.

    The actual strategy is to portray you as a radical. The hints may be subtle to you, but they’re there. Notice how Richard hints that you’re a SkS clone on his Twitter feed.

    How ClimateBall ™ changes in almost 3 years – RonG’s even playing squirrels as we speak on the other active thread.

  153. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    Please add this to your list of questions to answer:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2016/06/07/socially-constructed-silence/#comment-80962

    After you’ve answered Dikran’s, of course.

  154. rconnor says:

    Dr. Tol,

    I’m not aware of Sen’s opinion, if any, on speaking in public.

    Same here. So I’m not sure why you recommended ATTP to read Sen on the subject.

    Joshua,

    He’s already answered that question – he’s taught Sen for 15 years!

  155. Joshua says:

    ==> He’s already answered that question – he’s taught Sen for 15 years!

    Yes, how could I have missed that?

  156. John Hartz says:

    Food for thought and perhaps a new OP…

    Scientific knowledge is vital but on its own will never change our environmental behaviour. The key to that is to incorporate skills from the other side of the traditional science-humanities divide, say Trinity College academics

    The art of changing the climate debate by Paddy Woodworth, Irish Times, June 11, 2016

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