127 Responses to Effective Science communication?

  1. jsam says:

    Sometimes it is a relief just to call a dick a dick.

  2. jsam,
    Indeed, and it’s one problem I have with the whole “get our of your bubble” narrative, because it seems to include suggestions that you avoid seeming pompous, engage with other views, but somehow also managing to treat those with whom you’re engaging with respect (because you’re the scientist) even if they’re not doing the same to you.

  3. Fully agree. If I could I would push the like button 10 times.

    While Jon Tennant’s piece started hopefully by pointing out the echo chambers and how the mitigation skeptical movement has isolated itself, the rest ignores that this is mainly an Anglo-American problem. If it were a science communication problem, that is a weird pattern. I see no reason whatsoever why science communication should be worse in these countries and at least it is more wide-spread and more professional.

    There is some anecdotal information that people can snap out of denial due to information. Thus the information should be there at the moment that people open their mind and start searching themselves for information.

    I do not know of any evidence for engaging people who have made denying climate change their identity being effective. Certainly not for details like specific communication styles. I would also argue that if you talk to these people you do so for the onlookers, not for the deceivers.

    I am looking forward to Jon Tennant convincing some internet mitigation skeptics that they are wrong based on his valuable advice and his report on his successes. Until then I would prefer that people stop victim blaming when someone does their best to communicate science.

  4. it simply leads to you slowly developing a thicker skin.

    Not everyone wants to become such a person. If that is necessary because of the disgusting elements that populate the internet, I can fully understand that people are not willing to engage.

  5. Victor,

    Not everyone wants to become such a person. If that is necessary because of the disgusting elements that populate the internet, I can fully understand that people are not willing to engage.

    Exactly, scientists should not have to put up with this, and science communication should not simply be by those willing to be insulted on the internet.

  6. Willard says:

    I’m not even sure how to make sense of Jon’s question Does ‘open science’ have an echo chamber problem?, since “open science” ain’t really a place.

  7. I took that to mean discussing science in a more public forum (social media) and that that might essentially be an echo chamber, but that might be wrong – it wasn’t obvious.

  8. amyhuva says:

    Hi, I think you’re missing a part here where you recognize the audience. There is no ‘public’ that is a single homogenous group that can be communicated to in a single way. There are many publics and they each have their own concerns, interests, in-group values etc. Debating with deniers is always just going to be flinging facts at each other and never budging because if you got a denier to admit they were wrong you’d shatter their whole world view.

    However (and I think this is the point Jon Tennant is trying to get at) if you are working with an audience for whom climate change is not their number one issue, it’s possible to bring them around to agreeing that climate change is an issue but only if you do it in a way that allows them to step down without losing face (the don’t be a dick about it part). The tricky part is that you have to do it in a way that’s going to make them care about it, because otherwise you’re fighting a battle where it’s like you’re trying to convince someone to follow your football team except that they don’t watch football.

    He’s right though – facts don’t change people’s minds and humans are not rational and we don’t make rational choices instinctively. We are much more ruled by psychology and in-group loyalty. A great example of this is religion – simply presenting facts to a conservative Catholic who doesn’t believe in evolution will never change their mind, because changing their mind comes with the risk of excommunication and losing their entire community, family, social standing etc. That’s what you’re working against- not just facts and being rational – what the person you’re arguing with has to lose from admitting they’re wrong.

    >

  9. T-rev says:

    and the flip side is ? Aren’t ‘deniers’ in an echo chamber ? When I first watched Fox News I thought it was parody ah la The Office, but alas not, these folk are serious. Have you ever “debated” a creationist for example. You will not change thier mind. The irony is no amount of evidence will persuade “deniers’, in fact quite the opposite, it entrenches their view point.

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/antivaccination-parents-dig-in-heels-even-after-receiving-medical-info/

    So “science” really has nothing to offer here IMO. “Deniers” (of any ilk) didn’t arrive at that view point using logic and evidence, no amount of logic and evidence will move them from it. It’s a job best left to psychologists and behavioural experts to explain why and perhaps nudge Governments to change school curriculum to try and enge with younger folk so the foolishness is not perpetuated … but outside that ? 🙂

    Also, what echo chamber ? I though science (as opposed to individual scientists) were about correcting “wrongs”, when they’re found via experiment, evidence etc. I thought this a good essay by a once Professor of Biochemistry, published in, of all things “The Skeptical Enquirer”

    http://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/RelativityofWrong.htm

  10. Willard says:

    > I took that to mean discussing science in a more public forum (social media)

    As opposed to politics. I see. It still lacks a locus.

    Meanwhile, a mix of science and politics:

  11. amyhuva,
    Of course the audience matters, but that still doesn’t change – in my view – that this is a difficult topic in which to engage and that there isn’t some kind of obvious single strategy. The irony in Jon Tennant’s post is that his audience is science communicators and yet he decided to essentially call those who engage in a manner with which he disagrees “twats”.

    He’s right though – facts don’t change people’s minds and humans are not rational and we don’t make rational choices instinctively.

    Yes, I’m well aware of this, as are many who engage publicly. I find it quite irritating to have this continually pointed out as if noone else realises this. That this is true does not immediately indicate how one should communicate this topic; it mostly means that it’s difficult.

  12. Susan Anderson says:

    Just for the record, you, aTTP, are one of the politest, most considerate, most thoughtful people in all this discussion. In addition, you are our host, and it behooves us to accept the salt when you lay the table.

    I do point out to these self-designated critics that if their health, their plumbing, or anything else they depended upon (bridges, automobiles, airplanes) were in question they would want the best experts. They would not have a “consensus” problem with mainstream science. And, honestly, if their fake skepticism was about something that didn’t threaten the very future of humanity on earth, including younger members of their and my families, I’d let ’em rip.

    I’m shifting, I think, for the time being, to religion, which is something with which I have odd peculiar experience due to my age and time. Because many scientists are fed up with superstition, they give this all a miss, and tend to be rather condemnatory about it. But as a peculiar “seeker” I’ve spent many years trying my best to touch on the joy and difficulty of creation from a conventional religious point of view. In the end, I had to let it go and return to avoiding specific deities, but the problem is, by definition, these people who call themselves Christians ignore the teachings of their hero Jesus, who appears to have been a wise and radical thinker.

    My point, I’m not sure, but I think it goes something like this. No matter what you believe, you need to be internally consistent. And this means being kind and participating in the community of humankind, and doing your best, and respecting those who have done the hard work of discovery.

    That said, fake skepticism should never be legitimized. Look to your hearts and the future, my fellow humans. Hatred is most definitely a deal end, and we don’t all want to end up dead, which is the dreary disgusting end of victim-blaming.

  13. hvw says:

    The Does ‘open science’ have an echo chamber problem? bit is related to the social media community that is all exited by ‘open access’, ‘open data’, ‘open science’ and whose enemies are ‘the publishers’, who, allegedly, inhabit the complementary echo chamber.

    The article is well meant, a bit superficial and sloppy perhaps. And with ‘climate denial’ the author totally picked the wrong illustrative example. I think protohedgedog to us comes across like a twelve year old lecturing the war veteran about gun safety rules.

    ‘Echo chambers’ aka ‘communities’ (good thought!) exist. And if we go there it is just because we don’t experience permanent bubble-bursting. Nobody ever changed his mind about climate change because of a tweet, or a blog article, or a discussion in the comments. You know that, I know that, because we tried. This is climate change. Other topics are different. Generalizations are almost always wrong.

    It is important to make up your mind whether the job at hand is to educate and to clear up misunderstandings or to win a fight.

  14. Susan Anderson says:

    I wouldn’t bother with my typo, except that it bears repeating. “Hatred is most definitely a dead end.” Or as one of my heroes, not in my eyes a deity but a fine human: “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

  15. The arrogant science “twat” is a silly strawman argument and the real problem (bubbles) is much tougher to solve

  16. ATTP – these assertions (from Jon Tennant and others) frustrate the hell out of me.

    Let’s consider Darwinian Natural Selection. It is as well proven as any science ever created. It has benefited from brilliant science communicators like Prof. Steve Jones, whose books are accessible to anyone who can read and has a minimal level of curiosity about the topic.

    But, …

    Would Steve Jones convince a ‘young earth creationist’? No.

    Should we base our assessment of Jones’s capabilities as a communicator on the success of convincing said creationist? No.

    Should we label the community of molecular biologists an ‘echo chamber’ because they agree with Jones and not with some crazy from the creationist community? No.

    Conclusion: the problem is not with the likes of Steve Jones (but one must say, he can teach all scientists in ways to make science communication informative, fresh and engaging).

  17. russellseitz says:

    Unfortunately , both the narrative principles of science communication and the dark arts of advertising can be almost as well applied to factoids as facts, witness Delingpole’s defense of Ebell ‘s recent GWPF press conference, which hinged on the Christy’s famously bogus model & instrument graph

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2017/01/havent-we-heard-that-somewhere-else.html

  18. Magma says:

    In four years, I can’t recall a single discussion with a “skeptic” that I would regard as having been worthwhile and constructive. Maybe some were worthwhile from the perspective of someone else observing the exchange, but that’s hard to know, or quantify. — ATTP

    Same here, and for about twice as long, though mostly on mainstream media comment sites or social media.

    I still find climate blogs and forums geared towards scientists and knowledgeable amateurs very useful and informative. But I gave up on skeptics years ago. For the most part they revel in their ignorance and cannot — will not — be educated

    On the bright side, they’re dying off now, though not without having left a wide swath of avoidable destruction behind them.

  19. In four years, I can’t recall a single discussion with a “skeptic” that I would regard as having been worthwhile and constructive. Maybe some were worthwhile from the perspective of someone else observing the exchange, but that’s hard to know, or quantify. — ATTP

    Each year now there is more CO2 around us. With the CO2 comes heat, ocean acidification, extreme weather etc. We can wait out the skeptics if we want, but that’s hard because the delays the skeptics create are deadly. Some things are outside our control. Maybe that should be, a lot of things are outside our control?

    I think it’s a complete waste of time to work with online trolls and personalities who are committed to the conflict, the give and take, etc. They are not interested in communication and sharing/increasing knowledge imho, they are in it for the kicks they get from moving the goalposts and creating friction and distress.

    If you are going to talk to a conservative face to face, remember to frame the discussion so they can hear it: http://www.pnas.org/content/113/52/14953.abstract

    I think progressive and scientist types don’t realize that when we talk about global warming and future impacts, we are engaging in dog-whistle conversations, some conservative folks hear almost nothing they can process in that conversation. Folks will say, yeah, but that’s not the way it should be… yes, that’s right and the rest of the universe and creation is so orderly, right? I got a sub-atomic particle to sell you if you think the universe does not involve some pretty strange stuff.
    Mike

  20. Paul says:

    There is no point trying to change the mind of someone like Roberts, or Curry or Watts or any of their rusted on supporters. The aim is to convince the uncommitted and the wavers on both sides..
    If being riude to other people was a route to failure then Donald Trump would not be POTUS.

  21. anoilman says:

    smallbluemike: Yeah, but this guy on the internet said there was some data that says global warming was wrong. You can’t explain that! Give it a rest! Case closed!

    🙂

  22. Andrew Dodds says:

    I think that the elephant in the room is paid climate denial – at the root of it, there are institutions that deliberately create and push climate denial memes, and they are doing it for money, basically.

    You are not going to argue them around, because denial is their job. No matter how you communicate.

    And these memes are designed to appear to conservatives, who will then repeat them. But if there was no source, I suspect that climate denial would gradually die. Something not dissimilar happened with CFCs, when the chemical companies involved realized that they could make more money out of CFC substitutes that were still in patent.

    The only way I can see around this is to make this kind of lying for money actually illegal, which may be impossible to do without hitting free speech. But if people are prepared to use ‘free speech’ to destroy the very environment that supports them.. what are you meant to do? Would it have been fair and reasonable comment for the engineers on the Titanic to have denied that water was entering the ship?

  23. Andrew,
    In a sense that’s one reason why I find the “facts aren’t enough” narrative a bit irritating. It often ignores that those presenting the “facts” are doing so in an environment flooded with mis-information, some of which is quite convincing to some. It seems possible (to me at least) that even if facts aren’t enough, presenting them is still a crucial part of countering the misinformation. In some sense, the scientific community is constrained to mainly present facts (although they can clearly find more effective ways ot doing so). Others, on the other hand, can find more direct ways to fight the misinformation.

  24. izen says:

    Science communication does not convert the committed believer in an alternative narrative to Evolution or AGW.
    The role of good science communication is to remove any vestige of scientific credibility from the Creationist or Climate change contrarian position. You will never convince the opposition, but you can make it evident that they are adopting their views for reasons other than scientific doubt.

    The best that even the best of science communication can achieve is to make it evident that anyone that denies evolution, AGW or the moon landings is choosing that position for reasons entirely other than the known science.

  25. geronimo says:

    Q. Is this statement a fact: “In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible. The most we can expect to achieve is the prediction of the probability distribution of the system�s future possible states by the generation of ensembles of model solutions.”

    If you believe it is why don’t we start the discussion on you prognostications on the results of climate change from there. If you don’t believe it, what do you believe and we’ll start the discussion from there.

  26. geronimo,
    I think the end of that quote is the point. We can’t predict the future climate state, but we can determine a probability distribution that represents the range of possible future climate states. The probability distribution presented also doesn’t suggest that it has to fall within that range (it’s normally a 66%, or a 90%, chance of doing so) but the range still represent where it is most likely to fall.

  27. verytallguy says:

    Other than the entirely gratuitous dig at Brian Cox (perhaps a little celebrity envy going on there), it’s actually quite a good article.

    The twitter plot (which I don’t properly understand), seems to show that Trump supporters are in a much more tightly closed bubble than Hilary supporters. That doesn’t surprise me – or confirms my prejudices through motivated reasoning, if you prefer.

    He fails, I think, though, to acknowledge the sheer difficulty of engaging with the internet based anti-science brigade.

    I think there is something here whereby group identity is built through the mechanism of rejecting facts; the act of rejection in itself binds you to the rest of the group. So accepting facts is akin to rejecting your group; that is a very high hurdle to pass.

    You can see this, for instance, in the quite amazing gyrations Judith Curry performs in her attempts to avoid acknowledging the anthropogenic nature of the CO2 rise here:

    https://judithcurry.com/2015/05/06/quantifying-the-anthropogenic-contribution-to-atmospheric-co2/#comment-702513

  28. izen says:

    @-“Q. Is this statement a fact:- we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

    No, it is not a fact.
    It is a claim about the ‘system’ that conflates and confuses specific states with boundary conditions. Which ‘system’ is being described as chaotic etc?
    Like the Moon, the Earth is closely constrained by the basic thermodynamics of energy in and out. The chaotic non-linear bit is weather, climate is the envelope of possible states. Prediction of those states is possible because of thermodynamic limits. The Moon shows one extreme, Venus the other.

  29. Andrew Dodds says:

    geronimo –

    If we look at the last 5000 years of global temperatures, pre-1900 or so, what we see is not a chaotic system, we see a highly stable system, with a total range of perhaps +- 0.3 degrees. There is no evidence of attractors in this data, no evidence of random walks, nothing.

    At a regional level there may be oscillations on a decadal timescale or longer, but that’s generally just a distributional thing. Temperature is tightly controlled by the energy balance between incoming and outgoing radiation.

  30. Phil says:

    My 2p on Tennant’s comments on Cox:

    The occasion that Tennant uses is an appearance on the TV program “Question Time”. In these shows the goal is to put forward your own views and propositions to try to convince the audience. The goal is not to convince another member of the panel. It would appear that Tennant has either missed this distinction or doesn’t think it important (i.e. he believes the same tactics are appropriate for both). Whatever reason, it doesn’t, IMHO, say much for Tennant’s communication skills.

  31. Phil,
    Indeed, and that’s certainly my impression too. I don’t know why Jon Tennant thinks Cox was trying to convince Roberts, because he almost certainly was not. Also, Roberts wasn’t some kind of member of the public who was interested in understanding more; he’s a senior Australian politician who is promoting nonsense and should really be better informed. Making a member of the public seem silly might be a poor communication strategy; making an ill-informed politican seem silly may not be.

  32. izen says:

    @-“Making a member of the public seem silly might be a poor communication strategy; making an ill-informed politician seem silly may not be.”

    The role of science communication on that occasion was to show that there is no scientific basis for the position taken by the politician. That they have, to use Ebell’s phrase, “rejected the expertariat” and are relying on ‘alternative facts’ to show their memebership and fidelity to a theological, ideological or financial group. Brian Cox was maximally successful on those criteria.

    OT (un)topical news; The mother of the Trump nomination to the supreme court tried to block the removal of lead from petrol when made EPA head by Raygun in 1981. Even telling a refinery to continue including lead because she would personally stop new regulations. When it was found she had left out the medical evidence for the harm caused, and the economic evidence for the cost in morbidity she had to resign.

  33. BBD says:

    What utter elitist, arrogant, and naive bullshit.

    It’s long been my impression that many (most) of those who critique scientists engaging in science communication are communicating their own resentments and insecurities by proxy.

  34. Bernard J. says:

    Many of the points that I was going to make after reading the OP were made in the comments above, so I’ve spare the thread the repetitions.

    One thing though that I think that is worth stressing is that with most controversial issues of science the root problem has, as far as I’m concerned, never actually been about science communication. It’s been about vested interest interference, or ideological opposition, or lack of media competence and/or integrity, or the perversities of the psychology of ignorance (spanning the spectrum from simple lack of awareness through to fulminating Dunning-Kruger). And in some cases there’s an element of psychopathology.

    But a profound and systemic failure of science communication? No. Whilst many scientists are not great science communicators (and after all, that’s not really their job – unless they’re teachers or reporters, in which case they should be appropriately trained) there are enough avenues for the public to learn the facts at an accessible level that blaming scientists in general is not an excuse. Nor is blaming science communicators. What is telling is that even when science is communicated at the very best levels there seems to be no discernible change in the targeted audiences, whether they are vaccine deniers, evolution deniers, or climate change deniers.

    This is not to say that there’s not a problem: of course there is. But it’s a problem of psychologies of one sort or another, that permeates through to the policy machinations of our societies, and not really a problem of the scientists themselves – or their agents – revealing to the world the understandings gleaned from scientific research.

    One can lead a horse to water, but one cannot make it drink…

    And these problems of psychology are fundamental to us as a species. They’re manifestations of evolutionary adaptations (or lack of adaptation…) that are not adequate to serve us, at the species level, in the context of our staggering contemporary development of technology using what is in essence a brain designed simply to enable groups of bipedal apes to throw sticks and stones at quadrupedal prey.

    Whether we have it in us to train ourselves to pypass our adaptive shortcomings will be seen in the fullness of time: hominids underwent step-wise evolutions in what appears to have been sychrony with periods of rapid and significant climate change, so perhaps the Anthropocene will see the deselection of the propensity for excessive selfishness and Dunning-Krugerism. Or perhaps evolution will eventually just give up on the Homo experiment altogether.

  35. geronimo says:

    Izen

    “No, it is not a fact.
    It is a claim about the ‘system’ that conflates and confuses specific states with boundary conditions. Which ‘system’ is being described as chaotic etc?
    Like the Moon, the Earth is closely constrained by the basic thermodynamics of energy in and out. The chaotic non-linear bit is weather, climate is the envelope of possible states. Prediction of those states is possible because of thermodynamic limits. The Moon shows one extreme, Venus the other.”

    Andrew Dobbs

    “If we look at the last 5000 years of global temperatures, pre-1900 or so, what we see is not a chaotic system, we see a highly stable system, with a total range of perhaps +- 0.3 degrees. There is no evidence of attractors in this data, no evidence of random walks, nothing.

    At a regional level there may be oscillations on a decadal timescale or longer, but that’s generally just a distributional thing. Temperature is tightly controlled by the energy balance between incoming and outgoing radiation.”

    I didn’t make it up it comes from the IPCC TAR 14.2.2

  36. geronimo,
    I don’t really know what you’re suggesting. The bit you’re quoting isn’t suggesting that any future climate state is possible. It is suggesting that we can’t predict it with certainty, but we can produce estimates for the probability of various states. As izen says, it is constrained by the basic thermodynamics of energy in and energy out. The equilibrium temperature to which we will tend depends on the energy coming in, how much is reflected back out again, and the composition of the atmosphere. Although the actual temperature can vary about the equilibrium point, it can’t vary wildly because of the heat capacities of the various parts of the system. To get a substantial change in temperature, you need some change in either the albedo, the Solar insolation, or the atmospheric composition. It can’t just be random.

  37. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    Climate models make projections not predictions. There is a difference.

  38. izen says:

    @-“I didn’t make it up it comes from the IPCC TAR 14.2.2”

    Context matters.
    The quote comes from a section discussing the difficulties that modelling faces with regard to TIPPING POINTS. Here is the subsequent discussion after that initial sentence.-

    Reducing uncertainty in climate projections also requires a better understanding of these non-linear processes which give rise to thresholds that are present in the climate system. Observations, palaeoclimatic data, and models suggest that such thresholds exist and that transitions have occurred in the past …
    Here, we briefly summarise non-linear changes that have captured attention in the recent literature and that have been assessed in this chapter:

    The Northern Hemispheric atmospheric circulation exhibits different regimes that are associated with the North Atlantic Oscillation. Recent analyses of observations suggest that relatively rapid regime changes are possible (see Section 7.2.6) and that they may have happened frequently in the past (Appenzeller et al., 1998). Several studies suggest that the recent changes may be a response to anthropogenic forcing, but our understanding of the processes generating NAO is not sufficient to have confidence in whether this is the case.
    Observed variability of ENSO suggests that a transition to more frequent El Niño occurred around 1976 (see Section 7.6.5.1). Current understanding of ENSO processes does not yet permit a distinction as to the extent this is a response to anthropogenic forcing versus part of the long-term natural variability of the tropical atmosphere-ocean system, or both (see also Chapter 2, Section 2.6.2).
    Results from most climate models suggest that the Atlantic thermohaline circulation slows down in response to global warming; some models simulate a complete shut-down if certain thresholds are passed (see Section 7.3.6 and Chapter 9, Section 9.3.4.3). Such a shut-down is in general not abrupt but evolves on a time-scale which is determined by the warming, i.e., a few decades to centuries. Processes for such an evolution are increasingly understood. As model resolution increases and high latitude processes are better represented in these models (sea ice, topography), additional feedbacks influencing the Atlantic THC will be investigated and their relative importance must be explored. This will lead to a better quantification of the overall stability of the THC.
    Large polar ice masses, ice shelves or even complete ice sheets may be destabilised by sea level rise (see Section 7.5 and Chapter 11, Section 11.3.3), thereby contributing to further sea level rise.
    Warming in the high latitudes may lead to significant reductions in sea ice and associated feedbacks may accelerate this development (see Box 7.1).
    Large-scale and possibly irreversible changes in the terrestrial biosphere and vegetation cover are thought to have occurred in the past when anthropogenic perturbation was negligible (e.g., the development of the Saharan desert, Claussen et al., 1999). These changes may be interpreted as non-linear changes triggered by slow changes in external forcing and thus cannot be excluded to occur in the future. Knowledge on these phenomena, however, is not advanced yet.

  39. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==>
    I can’t recall a single discussion with a “skeptic” that I would regard as having been worthwhile and constructive.

    […]

    Maybe it’s just me and others would have more success than I did.
    ==>

    I would be curious to know whether any of your readers could point to an online exchange which they consider to have been worthwhile and constructive. I would be even more interested in knowing whether any of the “skeptics” who participate here can point to a convo they’ve had here which they might consider worthwhile and constructive. If none of the “skeptics” here can do so, a follow-on question I would be interested in knowing the answer to is then why do they continue to comment here?

    ==>
    I just don’t think they really had any more success than I did and my overall conclusion is that this is not easy, and that there isn’t an obvious way in which to best engage in discussions about this topic.
    ==>

    Just to underline the obvious, it is important to not generalize about the nature of the overall exchange of views based (more or less exclusively) on engaging in online exchanges, observing online exchanges, or observing only exchanges between people who are heavily ideologically-invested in their views on the effects of ACO2 emissions. That said, I suspect that more and more, what we witness in the “set” of on-line exchanges is becoming more congruent with the larger “set” of exchange more generally. I don’t know whether (or how we might measure whether) in some overall sense, interpersonal communication in our societies has become more vituperative – but it does seem reasonable to me to guess that (1) in general, on-line exchanges are more vituperative than face-to-face exchanges and, (2) on-line exchanges are making up an increasingly larger portion of overall interpersonal exchanges that take place.

    I followed a link from over at Climate Etc. today that I think directly relates to the discussion here:

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/feb/01/facts-are-the-reason-science-is-losing-in-the-current-war-on-reason-science-communication?CMP=twt_a-science_b-gdnscience&utm_content=buffer3136f&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    Considering that article, the “echo-chamber” article you linked above, and the general implications of the DE effect, I suggest that considering how to better understand ” effective science communication” (I’m still very much unconvinced that “science communication” in any way deserves a distinct category than any other form of communication – or even more specifically, whether “science communication” on polarized topics is in any meaningful way different than communication in any polarized area) may be, more or less, inevitably, a band-aid approach to addressing an underlying mechanism in how humans communicate.

  40. Joshua,

    I would be curious to know whether any of your readers could point to an online exchange which they consider to have been worthwhile and constructive.

    I’ll clarify this a little. I’ve had discussions that have been okay, in the sense that they don’t denegenerate. I don’t think I’ve had one with someone who strongly disputes the mainstream position that I’ve felt achieved anyting particularly constructive. Mostly things just go in circles; as soon as you think you’ve clarified one thing, you’re back trying to clarify something you’re pretty sure you’ve discussed before.

  41. BBD says:

    Context matters.

    Oh yes. Snip! Snip! Snip!

  42. Joshua says:

    Sorry….that should be DK effect, not “DE effect.”

  43. Susan Anderson says:

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I think patience and tolerance and forbearance from insult do matter, especially to possible lurkers.

  44. Joshua says:

    Bernard J. –

    I strongly agree with your 1:37. I attempted to make similar points in my 6:53, if not as clearly or powerfully.

  45. remember, time is on our side. It gets harder every year to deny and not look like a compleat idiot. The deniers will come to our side more quickly and easily if we don’t press too hard on how stupid they have been up to that point. It’s true, but counterproductive if effective response to AGW is the goal. There are some stupid folks out there. We seem to be consolidating a bunch of them in Congress. Too bad we can’t dock their retirement benefits if they turn out to be dead wrong on a lot of important stuff.

  46. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Seems to me there may be two basic categories of outcomes w/r/t meaningful or constructive exchanges .

    In one category: Have you had any exchanges that you felt resulted in you understanding the science more deeply, becoming more aware of uncertainties or complexities you had neglected previously, more aware of flaws in your own reasoning, more aware of your own biases, etc?

    As for the other basic category – regarding the impact of an exchange on other participants, consider that in the end, you aren’t really in a position to judge. You referred to the unknowability of that outcome above w/r/t observers – but in I’d say that unknowability applies to interlocutors as well.

  47. I agree completely, Susan. Patience, tolerance etc. and don’t waste time and bandwidth on the trolls. If it is clear that someone is trolling, toss them. Uncertainty and lack of knowledge is one thing, subtle trolling is another thing. We can troll a troll, can’t we?

  48. Joshua says:

    I guess part of what I’m saying is that part of the problem is that people are measuring the effectiveness of “science communication” more or less exclusively by assessing outward signs of someone’s views changing. Although I think that is an important metric, it is certainly a problematic one to measure, and it may be a limited way to measure “effectiveness.” Perhaps, somewhat paradoxically, one measure of “effective” science communication should be a measure of how/whether someone’s opinion has become more uncertain – you, along the lines of “the more you know, the more you know you don’t know,” or a reverse DK measure if you will. What seems particularly vexing is the pattern that the more people exchange views with people they disagree with, the more fixed they become in their disagreement. This is, as Bernard J. said so well above, very much a generalized human characteristic (although I think that the degree of that tendency is a bit of a cultural artifact – more predominant in some cultures compared to others).

  49. izen says:

    @-“we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

    One of the issues that is raised about the difficulties of model predictions in this 2001 statement is the future decline in sea ice. It includes a graph of the measured change, and prediction of the GDFL model at that time. –

    I have added the actual observed loss since.

    This is the sort of problem with long-term predictions that the isolated quote is referring too.

  50. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “I would be curious to know whether any of your readers could point to an online exchange which they consider to have been worthwhile and constructive. ”

    Almost all of them.
    But almost entirely in your first category rather than your second I suspect.

  51. Susan Anderson says:

    Oddly, I’ve learned a lot from long expositions (I won’t call them arguments, as they are often quite one-sided with the arguer providing a lengthy appearance of substance as assertion: a little knowledge is a dangerous thing). But I’m already convinced that science works, so I’m interested in the material, and a careful argument provides me with material sometimes missing from more sophisticated material, so don’t need persuading. Sometimes, as Joshua did, I find a relevant link in the material as well.

    Petty technical note: on posting links, you can delete everything after the “?” and usually the “#” (except in videos) as that is mostly material that allows the publication to track you. Like this (good article, too):
    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/feb/01/facts-are-the-reason-science-is-losing-in-the-current-war-on-reason-science-communication

  52. jamesannan says:

    As a rule of thumb, if you don’t remember usenet and weren’t on sci.environment then the chances are you’re not bringing anything new to the table with “how to do science communication” and “if only you all did it my way then everything would work out fine”. Some of us were tired of that crap 20-odd years ago.

  53. Joshua says:

    In which Judith criticizes Obama for “politicizing the science” but argues that Trump calling climate change a “Chinese hoax” is not related to science but related to Trump’s focus on the “economic consequences.”

    http://www.ronpaullibertyreport.com/?

    Fascinating how Judith’s evaluation works – whereby Trump calling climate change a “Chinese hoax’ is excluded from the act of politicizing the science.

    There’s more that’s interesting as well.

  54. Rachel M says:

    I haven’t found a way to communicate with climate change deniers and yes I don’t bother avoiding the use of that word now since my efforts in the past were fruitless. Deniers dislike anything that might be seen as left-wing or “green” and so they dismiss climate science with this illogical bias. Nothing will convince them and I think we will have to go along with that saying about change happening one funeral at a time. Most of the younger generation accept the science.

  55. Willard says:

    > We can troll a troll, can’t wee?

    Hard to tell. Let’s suppose so. What’s the end result?

    Think of a proof by contradiction where you disprove a negative claim. Have you proved its opposite? Not if you abide by constructiveness.

    Paradoxically, to troll may be the only constructive exchange with a troll. You cooperate by reciprocation. But then one has to wonder if trolling is not the product of a co-creation. The flame and the troll becomes akin to the chicken and the egg.

    In any case, please note that I say “echange,” not “conversation.” ClimateBall is first and foremost a word placement discipline:

  56. Pingback: Statcheck - Ocasapiens - Blog - Repubblica.it

  57. Bob Loblaw says:

    What jamesannan said at 7:47 pm.

  58. PhillipW says:

    As someone who started out as a skeptic, but has moved towards the lukewarm position, I do believe it is possible to have a civilized discussion, and have done so many times. I find particularly interesting discussions of alternatives such as technological solutions rather than regulatory responses.

  59. For the statistics: With the mitigation sceptical side I cannot remember any interaction that seemed productive. I have the feeling that effective, in the sense of educating the audience, is to be very strict in staying on one topic. That makes clear how weak the arguments are and how little knowledge and necessary skills the mitigation sceptics have.

    Interestingly with the alarmed side I do have good experiences, not always, but mostly it says civil and sometimes one even gets a thank you. Pointing out the Climate Feedback on Peter Wadhams to people alarmed by his articles, for example, or after the election catastrophe I noticed much anxiety among Americans on climate change and wrote a post explaining that that is not the end of the world because the USA is not that important and the rest of the world will continue fighting climate change. Several people replied they valued that post and that it had changed their view.
    http://variable-variability.blogspot.com/2016/11/climate-nightmares-in-america-dreams-in.html

    What I should try more often is to ask questions. I makes clear how little people know. Today someone claimed that the consensus on climate change was not as big as people claim. So I simply asked for his estimate and the evidence for it. It did escalate quickly, but it was fun seeing how he could not answer the question and tried to avoid answering it.

  60. Willard says:

    I personally have had many constructive exchanges with contrarians, the last one being with Chief:

    [Chief] oh it ain’t willard – it’s Geoff – where are yu willard…

    [Willard] I’m here, Chief. And here’s your missing citation:

    http://research.atmos.ucla.edu/tcd/PREPRINTS/Ghil-A_Met_Soc_refs-rev'd_vf-black_only.pdf

    Note that your favourite figure comes from Ghil’s older work.

    I’m not sure how going from a fixed point to an attractor helps the contrarian case. More wobbling means more risks. Risk turns into money.

    I should be thankful for Chief’s concerns, for otherwise I may never have read Ghil. That he’s reading too much out of him (if he read him at all, see the rest of the exchange) is secondary. Chief is Chief. There’s nothing we can do about it.

    Or take Patrick Brown‘s spat with teh Frank. I’m sure it made him work a bit, if only to come up with an explanation of Frank’s errors that is clear and concise. That’s worth something at least more to me than flaming, contempt, or worse.

    As long as there’s something for you in your ClimateBall exchanges, I don’t see why there shan’t be something for you in the end.

  61. angech says:

    Joshua “What seems particularly vexing is the pattern that the more people exchange views with people they disagree with, the more fixed they become in their disagreement.”
    The echo chamber.
    Basically you are testing the boundaries of your world view like a child. The unpleasant bits, well you don’t go there except to reinforce that you don’t go there.
    Re your constructive exchanges, I have had both instructive exchanges where I have been wrong scientifically and learnt the reason why and destructive exchanges where a little cherished belief has been chiselled away but it does not generally effect my world view.
    The funny thing with echo chambers is that the people in them do not generally realise they are in them. People who exchange views are a step further on in that they do realise they could be in an echo chamber like the people they are trying to converse with/ convert.
    Sadly I think it is echo chambers all the way down.
    On the bright side this is a great concept to discuss at a level removed in part from the climate wars.

  62. Phil says:

    Joshua:

    I would be curious to know whether any of your readers could point to an online exchange which they consider to have been worthwhile and constructive.

    I would point to this discussion I had with a Dutch gentleman in May 2016 with regard to temperature anomalies on The Guardian. I joined mid conversation after a number of people (including, sadly, someone who comments here) had given some poor responses, which he had rightly criticised.

    Some points:
    1. I don’t believe F Gerard Lelieveld was/is a “denier” i.e. someone who persistently rejects the science out of hand; he had seen something that didn’t (to him) add up and that therefore put into question the integrity of the science.
    2. He is (up thread from my link) “wooed” by a persistent “denier” – user “PheasantEater”
    3. I did go to some trouble for him, producing and uploading the GISS anomaly map for the appropriate baseline.
    4. At the end of the thread he is still angry about the initial response: “thing[k]s(sic) up all kind of shit to discredit someone who notices something wrong with a map.”. Despite that, to me, he does seem genuinely accepting of the explanation.
    5. I wish I’d got back to him to gently point out that there was, in fact, nothing “wrong with the map”, just to be sure.
    6. Down-thread he refers to Dutch climate denier as a “Climate Nut” (i.e. idiot)
    7. A major reason I took on the conversation was because of the initial response which branded him a “denier” without much justification, which understandably riled him, along with the fact that his subsequent posts suggested he was a critical thinker amenable to reasoned argument. I saw it as something of a “rescue job”.
    8. Since he had raise what I thought to be a valid and interesting point, I wanted to ensure for my own satisfaction that what I thought was the explanation (differing baselines) did actually pan out.

  63. Willard,

    As long as there’s something for you in your ClimateBall exchanges, I don’t see why there shan’t be something for you in the end.

    Indeed, this is a good point. I’ve learned a lot over the last few years, so discussions with those who strongly dispute the mainstream position can still be useful.

  64. JCH says:

    I learned a great deal in the prior exchanges with the water chef. His references are great. That he believes temps are going to remain flat can mean only one thing. He doesn’t read his own stuff. Neither did Tsonis, nor Curry. The stadium wave arrived; the modes worked as predicted; the wave did what it could; it left. They didn’t even notice it.

  65. Willard says:

    Most of Chief’s suggestions to tackle AGW look sensible to me, JCH, even if I find his confidence in Ostrom a bit over optimistic. There are limits to the slogan Think Globally Act Locally. One can find online worse lionization than that.

    Considering teh Donald’s latest fiasco, it might be the good day to build bridges:

  66. Joshua says:

    angech –

    I’m not quite following. When you say:

    ==> The echo chamber. Basically you are testing the boundaries of your world view like a child. The unpleasant bits, well you don’t go there except to reinforce that you don’t go there. ==>

    I’m not getting where “there” is…

    But your comment got me to thinking about how problematic even the notion of “echo chamber” is. It is usually accepted that an “echo chamber” is some concretely manifest phenomenon, some externalized reality…usually seen as people who largely agree participating in a discussion…but I’m thinking that an “echo chamber” is actually an internal phenomenon. For example, there is no physical law of the universe that says that if a “realist” comes here they only hear echoes, or that if a “skeptic” goes to WUWT they are only hearing echoes.

    ==> Re your constructive exchanges, I have had both instructive exchanges where I have been wrong scientifically and learnt the reason why and destructive exchanges where a little cherished belief has been chiselled away but it does not generally effect my world view. ==>

    I’m hoping that you could link to examples.

    ==> The funny thing with echo chambers is that the people in them do not generally realise they are in them. ==>

    Again, that reinforces my thinking that echo chambers are an internalized phenomenon. A realist commenting here may or may not be hearing only echoes. And…

    ==> People who exchange views are a step further on in that they do realise they could be in an echo chamber like the people they are trying to converse with/ convert. ==>

    People who exchange views may, indeed, be hearing only echoes. I believe that I have encountered people who seem to think that they are exchanging views, but IMO, are merely hearing echoes.

    ==> Sadly I think it is echo chambers all the way down. ==>

    Again, I think that is true to some extent, but then again it depends a bit on how you are measuring what are and aren’t echoes. It can be very hard to know whether someone has internalized some knowledge of what it is that they don’t know, some greater appreciation of uncertainty. I think that you can’t just take people’s word for it. You need to have, IMO, a more sophisticated means of measuring. Just because someone doubles-down on an expression of their original belief is, IMO, probably a unreliable metric.

  67. Phil says:

    Apologies if this has already been said elsewhere, but

    Apropos of effective climate change science communication, I’ve been promoting (unsolicited) this website – since I think it is.
    Gavin Schmidt was, I understand, promoting it on his twitter feed at the back end of last year, but you can also follow her directly here

  68. If there was one interesting aspect about Jon Tennant’s post it was pointing out that you can also call echo chambers communities and that communities are not necessarily a bad thing. His first figures showed that the mitigation sceptical community is more closed than the science-based community. Which was previously shown by a survey of climate bloggers and the main blogs they read, but that was based on only a bit of data, this new plot shows it clearer. It also fits to my own impression; even if a mitigation sceptical blog links to mine, nearly no one follows the link.

  69. Joshua (and angech),
    As far as echo chambers go, where do you draw the line? There are certain things I don’t wish to allow people to promote here. Does that make it an echo chamber? Maybe, but then I’m fine with that and it would then seem to be a rather meaningless phrase. Also, even though I can’t think of an exchange with someone who strongly disputes the mainstream position that I thought was constructive, there have been some (with, for example, angech) that I have found to be perfectly pleasant discussions, even if I don’t really think much was achieved.

  70. Susan Anderson says:

    I agree that angech is willing to engage and civil, and that he (or she) is working on understanding (that’s a compliment). For me, I’m learning all the time, but this displacement activity takes up time that could be spent in more active and perhaps more useful pursuits (setting aside the usefulness of clarifying thoughts and improving writing).

    There’s a missing part here in the “echo chamber” accusations, which is the selective condemnation of parts of science using other parts of science. It seems to me, ‘bred en bawn in a brier-patch’ (science), that (at least in the US) education is no longer getting kids to understand that science as a method of study and knowledge is the foundation of all their toys and preferences, their health, their computers, their plumbing, their electricity and everything that makes modern life so indulgent. They feel free to selectively condemn the rather broad and extended realms of science (never mind conclusive and mounting physical evidence) that confirm conclusions about climate change/global warming/physics because of politics, while missing entirely that the activities are also the foundation of the very ability to make those condemnations and cluster in communities that support these biases.

  71. angech says:

    Victor Venema (@VariabilityBlog) says: February 2, 2017 at 5:46 pm
    If there was one interesting aspect about Jon Tennant’s post it was pointing out that you can also call echo chambers communities and that communities are not necessarily a bad thing.
    This is a very good point
    Joshua said
    ” your comment got me to thinking about how problematic even the notion of “echo chamber” is. It is usually accepted that an “echo chamber” is some concretely manifest phenomenon, some externalized reality…usually seen as people who largely agree participating in a discussion”

    Showing that the term has multiple meanings and interpretations, language and hence communication is very hard to nail down. I would have said people who totally agree participating in a discussion.

    ATTP February 2, 2017 at 5:57 pm helps nail a definition
    “As far as echo chambers go, where do you draw the line? There are certain things I don’t wish to allow people to promote here. Does that make it an echo chamber? ”
    Actually it refutes it being an echo chamber as soon as any alternative or opposing view is discussed.
    Joshua again
    “I’m thinking that an “echo chamber” is actually an internal phenomenon.”
    I would say that an echo chamber is a completely closed off phenomenon.
    Nothing in an echo chamber is bothered by the outside idea even though it helped shape and define the chamber.
    Like the phrase “don’t think of an elephant”.
    Victor ” His first figures showed that the mitigation sceptical community is more closed than the science-based community”
    Perspective issue perhaps on his part.

  72. Susan Anderson says:

    Try this (and the rest of the series, the following one about Texas is also relevant).

  73. russellseitz says:

    ” I find particularly interesting discussions of alternatives such as technological solutions rather than regulatory responses.”

    I adduced such a discussion in a Republican policy journal in 1990. In the decades following , the Republicans produced few solutions and the Democrats added roughly twenty thousand pages of regulations to the Federal REgister

  74. JCH says:

    And the Republicans added not a single page… outside of the bedroom. We won’t touch the advances since 1990 in bedroom technology.

  75. BBD says:

    Russell

    Absent techno-fixes, regulation is necessary.

    This is especially true when what is being regulated is industry’s will to serve itself at the expense of everything and everybody else.

  76. lerpo says:

    Effective science communicator:

    2017 Canadian Mennonite University Scientist in Residence Dr. Katharine Hayhoe – Named to TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World list for 2014,

    Hayhoe may be best-known to many people because of how she’s bridging the broad, deep gap between scientists and some Christians—work she does in part because she’s a Christian herself.

    http://www.cmu.ca/about.php?s=events&p=sir

  77. As far as echo chambers go, where do you draw the line? There are certain things I don’t wish to allow people to promote here. Does that make it an echo chamber?

    Hume wrote that reason is and can only be a slave to passion.

    This is probably a natural evolutionary state we all share.
    But it is also the basis of confirmation bias – we tend to use reason only to make a point, and reject reason which is contrary. The theory of trial by jury is that passionate use of evidence by both defense and prosecution arrives at the truth. If this is an effective model, unfortunately, self-segregation into echo chambers tends to work against the truth.

    I have participated in discussion about global warming since James Annan’s usenet days. In some ways, those discussions were better, because, though they included a lot of noise, they were not segregated, and thus devoid of perspective.

  78. BBD says:

    If this is an effective model, unfortunately, self-segregation into echo chambers tends to work against the truth.

    The truth isn’t decided in blog comments and the insinuation that scientists operate in an echo chamber is just the same old baseless contrarian rhetoric that sibilates within contrarian echo chambers.

  79. izen says:

    People engage in forming communities (or echo-chambers) with others that share their view of the world. That is inevitable whether the interest is in Climate, Creationism or the Kardashians.

    But while the subject of the Kardahsian can maintain interest without contrarian views, it is notable that other subjects seem to require a small percentage of contrarians to the prevailing POV to maintain a dynamic discussion. Angtech here, Nick stokes at WWUT…

    Since the usernet days discussion forums are rarely monotonic. Even the Briebart moderaters are savy enough to let through a ‘libtard cuck’ every 100 or so posts, in the knowledge that it will elicit another page of spittle-flecked vitriol/virtue signalling.

  80. russellseitz says:

    Izen. the Great Regulator lately departed outperformed 43 in inflating the Federal Register by upwards of 20,000 pages a year.

    Could you please figure out the ratio of reguations falling on industry, and those burdening
    ” everything and everybody else?”

  81. russellseitz says:

    Sorry Izen- my column scanning fault-
    regulationball in BBD’s court

  82. BBD says:

    Russell

    Do you really believe that industrial regulation is vindictive and baseless?

  83. anoilman says:

    BBD… russellseitz… Regulations are your friend. If given an opportunity, business men will do all kinds of immoral things. Its cheaper, and profit is their only goal. That’s the law.

    I don’t know how many pages of regulations are out there or being added, but I don’t think its that bad, and I work with equipment in explosion proof environments. (I was also the authorizing engineer.)

    We have an increasingly complex industrial world. It should be no surprise to expect increasingly complex industrial regulations to keep it safe.

    We are also seeing similar technology driven issues in the law. There’s an internet… now there’s a lot of effort, laws, and agencies dealing with the problems it brings. Removing all those laws and agencies would make everyone’s life easier.. including child predators. 🙂

    Do regulations really cost you anything? I don’t think so. ROHS regulations come to mind. In fact its more expensive and difficult to build something that isn’t compliant.

  84. izen says:

    @-russellseitz
    “Could you please figure out the ratio of reguations falling on industry, and those burdening
    ” everything and everybody else?””

    About the same as its always been.?

    http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/periods/tudors/elizabethan-social-and-economic-legislation

    “Social and economic legislation occupied a great deal of time in Elizabethan Parliaments and was considered, after the granting of taxation, to be the primary function of the House of Commons. Hundreds of bills were initiated concerning industries such as the manufacture and trade of cloth, leather, and iron; poverty, unemployment and vagrancy; agrarian regulation of land use especially for grain and timber; and the enforcement of morally acceptable behaviour.”

  85. Jim Hunt says:

    It seems I’m a bit late to this party, but I stumbled into Senator Roberts’ Twitter conversation with ATTP, Kevin Anderson, Bob Ward et al. yesterday. Needless to say Malcolm has thus far ignored my suggestion that he reads an IEA tome on some of the unfortunate side effects of burning fossil fuels.

    Coincidentally, however, I have just submitted an abstract to the recently launched Journal of Alternative Facts on the very topic of why “facts are never enough”. Since the JAF article guidelines insist on peer review by politicians I’ve invited a few local, national and international politicians to comment on my draft paper:

    Please feel free to pass on the message to your local politicians. Further information is available on ResearchGate:

    https://www.researchgate.net/project/Alternative-Facts-in-the-Arctic

  86. Magma says:

    @anoilman

    Good points. I understand the rules and regulations in the commercial/industrial fields I’ve worked in. They may seem complex or arcane to someone from another field — as might theirs to me — but that is irrelevant. They were developed to address real issues, usually in concert with a variety of stakeholders, and those that deal with them learn them.

    It’s hardly as if a group of bored politicians and bureaucrats decided to flex their muscles and exercise arbitrary authority one day by, say, writing thousands of pages of regulations on commercial aircraft maintenance requirements.

    In contrast, right now Trump is providing counter-examples of badly drafted and legally shaky executive orders based on an authoritarian view of presidential powers and with little or no input from agencies, stakeholders and experts.

  87. Magma says:

    The parallel with AGW deniers rejecting a vast, complex body of scientific fact and study in favor of simple-minded catch-phrases (“the climate is always changing”) should be clear enough.

  88. Susan Anderson says:

    Sideways to recent comments but on topic for communication, I came across a useful article. (This morning I’m feeling some despair on my side of the pond, as the awful multiplies; and the connections with our Kochtopus and Theresa May highlighted by Monbiot are also depressing.
    https://thinkprogress.org/numbers-numb-stories-sell-the-key-messaging-lesson-from-trump-s-win-c1bff0a79bea “Numbers numb, stories sell” (Joe Romm)

    For a dystopian but entertaining view of how we sold ourselves down the river, <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/23/how-jokes-won-the-election&quot; Tragedy Plus Time: How Jokes Won the Election.

  89. I think Russell Seitz is trolling with his suggestion of more tech solutions and less regulation. Here is a situation to consider:

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/03/fukushima-daiichi-radiation-levels-highest-since-2011-meltdown

    There is a lot of regulation of things nuclear. I would be more inclined to support deregulation if the techies would jump in and clean up a single large scale mistake with the technology. The techies and engineer groupies often seem quite irresponsible to me with their “deregulate and let me run with it” appeal.

    I will probably just “hush” senor seitz. I have heard this pitch before. It’s morning in america, right? No regulations, no unions, just hard-working americans making great things happen.

    Does the term Glass-Steagall ring a bell? Meaningless regulation? Turn the banks loose and prosperity will rain down on us all. Sure, that happened, didn’t it?

  90. russellseitz says:

    Oilman, as we do not have your playbook in hand, could you please remind us whether:

    “Do regulations really cost you anything? I don’t think so. ”

    comes before, or after, “I for one welcome our new Conehead masters”?

  91. russellseitz says:

    As to Susan’s New Yorker link, here’s my perspective on the President’s rhetoric of motives:
    [Mod: your link isn’t to a webpage]

  92. russellseitz says:

    Failed image post- sorry

  93. izen says:

    @-russellseitz

    There’s that thing about history, ignorance and repetition…

    Here is another quote from the article (linked above) on the History of the Elizabethan Parliament. The moment in time when government intervention and regulation of trade enabled the English expansion in the second half of the 1500s.

    “A significant percentage of social and economic legislation was the product of increasingly sophisticated lobbying by interest groups, especially London companies such as the Clothworkers, who were prepared to devote considerable resources towards securing the enactment of favourable measures, sponsoring bills in successive Parliaments over a period of decades. … There was also increasing concern about the passage of too many laws; standing committees for the continuance and repeal of old statutes became a regular fixture by the end of the reign.”

  94. russellseitz says:

    “standing committees for the continuance and repeal of old statutes became a regular fixture by the end of the reign.”

    What a capital idea ! Some nation with a written constitution might do well to revive it.

  95. BBD says:

    What would you like Trump to dismantle, Russell?

  96. Let’s see, we don’t want onerous regulations like requiring financial planners to work for their clients. Ridiculous. I mean c’mom, how’s a guy supposed to make a buck if he can’t slip in a few junk bond, penny stock, or financial derivative trades in as a favor to a friend every now and then?

    And who says we don’t want coal slurry in our watershed? Did they ask anyone? Personally, I’m cuckoo for coal-coal puffs!

  97. russellseitz says:

    “What would you like Trump to dismantle, Russell?”

    Revolving doors that open on to K-Street.

  98. anoilman says:

    Russell, I do have a lot of respect for you… Over the years, I have come to respect the libertarian ideology of ‘less is more’. However regulations are good… you need ‘a practice’ in order to do something, why not set a minimum? Could you at least provide your source for the claim that 200,000 pages of regulations per year?

    Do you, or do you not think we live in an increasingly technological world? Wouldn’t you expect regulations follow that embrace of technology? (Lag, not lead.) Has this not always been the case regarding technology?

    There is one aspect where regulations become a problem, namely jurisdictional overlap. In the US you’ll find each separate state may have a complex series of regulations on very similar things to their neighbors. That can be very messy and annoying to deal with. The solution of course is to submit to a singular regulatory agency, however you’ll find that is fraught with danger, namely, the final agency in question may not have your interests at heart, or worse become a captured agency.

    There are many reasons why regulations come into play, but more often than not, its a failure of the industry in question to do the right thing. Other times its an aid or protection to streamline business, or even a hurdle for foreigners in the name of protectionism.

    Do you have any idea what would be in your food if we didn’t regulate it? Why worry about Franken Food when we serve Fracking Food up here.

  99. Jim Hunt says:

    I figured the “Skeptical Senator” must be up to something, and now I know what:

    According to David Rose:

    Karl’s ‘Pausebuster’ paper was hugely influential in dictating the world agreement in Paris and sweeping US emissions cuts. President Trump, above right, has pledged to scrap both policies – triggering furious claims by Democrats he is a climate ‘denier’ and ‘anti-science’.

    Thanks to today’s MoS story, NOAA is set to face an inquiry by the Republican-led House science committee.

  100. izen says:

    Are they going to investigate the recent paper that found other methods confirm the results?

    If you want to define the years after 1998 as a pause in the long term trend then the three record years 2014-16 have more than reversed it. temperatures have risen above the level if the long-term trend was extended.

  101. JCH says:

    I excited to see my PAWS animated.

  102. Jim Hunt says:

    How about in stereo JCH?

    then click through.

    izen – On past performance I don’t forsee “the Republican-led House science committee” doing a whole lot of in depth science reading!

  103. Marco says:

    “Karl’s ‘Pausebuster’ paper was hugely influential in dictating the world agreement in Paris…”

    This does not even reach the level of “alternative facts”, it is so inanely stupid. Oh wait, this comes from David Rose. What else can we expect?

  104. Martin says:

    ATTP wrote: “In four years, I can’t recall a single discussion with a “skeptic” that I would regard as having been worthwhile and constructive. Maybe some were worthwhile from the perspective of someone else observing the exchange, but that’s hard to know, or quantify.”

    I feel sorry but completely understand that you and many other AGW-concerned bloggers/commenters feel this way. I must assure you however that people like myself, who rarely comment or engage in any debates on blogs, really really appreciate you taking the time to comment/debunk/refute claims on “skeptic” blogs, even if you can never convince the people you argue with.

    I always like to hear different views on any issue so I sometimes go to “skeptic” blogs just to keep updated on the latest denier memes and to hear the opposing views. Unfortunately I don’t have the skill set myself to debunk many of the “skeptic” claims so I am often dependent on the more knowledgeable people to do the debunking for me. I suspect there are many more people out there that are like me. The people I tend to listen to the most are people with a humble and friendly but clear and fact based way of reasoning. Just as Susan, I also think ATTP is one of the best ones in this regard. Katharine Hayhoe is another brilliant communicator in my mind.

    I think the strong polarization we have in politics and the society in general is a big problem causing people to lock themselves into bubbles and echo-chambers. This is exploited by “skeptics/deniers” because the polarization prevents people from listening to others and changing their views. If people easily could change their views they would tend to go in the direction of truth and hence the scientifically most sound view. Polarization is in a way a natural phenomenon that will never completely go away but we have to continuously counteract it and make as many people as possible comfortable in changing their views on various subjects. Deniers will never be converted, but the silent majority can be, if given the right opportunity/environment to do so. It will take time and patience though.

    So remember, even though it is impossible to quantify the impact you have on the silent majority, you have at least influenced me and it has inspired me to also communicate with friends and family on AGW in a humble and friendly but clear and fact based way.
    I am extremely grateful for your efforts!
    Thank you very much and keep up the great work!
    Best wishes!
    /Martin

  105. Martin,
    Thanks, good to know someone appreciate it 😉

  106. Jim Hunt says:

    izen – I’m rather publicly promulgating your Paws GIF:

    It’s in a good cause, so I hope that’s OK with you?

    It looks to us as though the nth iteration of “Climategate 2” barely made it out of the starting gate. However Mr. Rose’s loyal army of “rebloggers, retweeters, plagiarisers and other assorted acolytes” and that “Republican-led House science committee” may of course have other ideas?

  107. Jim Hunt says:

    Martin – Hear, hear!

  108. izen says:

    @-Jim Hunt

    I am most flattered.
    Wish I had spent more time on it now…!

  109. russellseitz says:

    AnOilman asks:
    “Could you at least provide your source for the claim that 200,000 pages of regulations per year?”

    No, because I did not make that claim: here’s what i wrote upthread,

    “In the decades following , the Republicans produced few solutions and the Democrats added roughly twenty thousand pages of regulations to the Federal REgister”

    Checking for more accurate stats did reveal an interesting correllation:

    As surely as UNEP says 14 of the 15 hottest years have occured since 2000,
    12 of the 15 longest Federal Registers in American history were produced by the last two Presidential administrations.

    The Register topped 90,000 pages in Obama’s last year in office, ( a steal at $ 900 for umpteen volumes from the Government Printing Office), fully 10,000 pages longer than what Bush could manage.and regulatory inflation sailed past 20,000 pages sometime in Obama’s first term.

    The Wiki has lots more , but here’s the intro to the primary source:
    https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/tutorial

    As to the FR itself don’t even think about downloading —

  110. BBD says:

    Russell

    You said you wanted to see an end to the tight links between government and the lobbying industry and who could not agree with that? But you appear to imply that it was an issue with the late Democrat administration when it is in fact at least as great a problem with the Rs if not more so.

    It really is necessary to regulate capitalist enterprise or it can very easily get out of hand. There are numerous examples. So, absent ‘technical fixes’, regulation is the proper business of responsible government. Criticising the last administration for doing a decent job of containing the worst excesses of industry is nonsensical.

  111. russellseitz says:

    BBD, I beg to disagree, as I think the proper business of representative government includes Representatives being responsible enough to read the regulations they legislate before imposing them upon us..

    I doubt any living member of Congress has read the Federal Register.
    Have you? Taking 90,000 un-peer reviewed pages l on trust falls some what short of the criterion of reality-based policy.

  112. Russell writes: “I think the proper business of representative government includes Representatives being responsible enough to read the regulations they legislate before imposing them upon us..”

    This seems a rather well-worn and in some quarters popular sentiment. I lump it in with similar canards; “that government governs best that governs least” and “We know better than some bureaucrat in Washington.”

    Of course the government that governs least is no government at all, just anarchy. We typically refer to those places as “failed states.” The local control idea is similarly reduced to absurdity. Why should some I follow speeding laws set by some bureaucrat in the state capital? *I* know best what speed I should drive. It’s the same as the “govern least” argument with different wording.

    The read the regulation canard has been around also since forever. Of course it suffers from a similar absurdity. It begs us once again to achieve failed state status. I suspect Russell knows this, but propaganda is easier to write than cogent criticisms.

  113. anoilman says:

    Russell.. Love that picture…

    You work in a university. I’m pretty sure there is very little if any regulations imposed on you. Maybe your health care plan is required to cover carpel tunnel now? 🙂 Don’t leave the Americium out between tests in the nuclear lab anymore?

    Most new regulations supersede and replace older regulations. Furthermore many new regulations also include large appendices explaining in detail how certain numbers are calculated. Furthermore they become quite fragmented as slight adjustments are allowed for each separate variant in an industry. This is because the regulators actually engage with the industries in question. (The documents with Q&A between the EPA and oil interests are incredibly large, and slow reading.)

    The reason industry complains isn’t that the regulations are too big and complicated (that’s like saying they can’t read), but because they actually are expensive to comply to. Its the law (in Canada) that pipelines have to have backup power supplies in order to shut valves in an emergency. That’s not cheap.. .but that’s OK because no one checked. But secretly deep down inside don’t you think that’s a good regulation? The ability to shut off in an emergency seems like a good idea to me.

    As for legislators actually reading regulations… not sure where you’re going with that one. There’s no requirement that they are educated to even get their jobs, and therefore no guarantee they understand what they read. But as I said, the regulators do engage, and work directly with industry incumbents.

    One last point Russell, but I’ve seen what happens first hand when thing f*ck up in industry. I’ve gotten the call when things went sideways at a well. In oil, everyone just copies everyone else, monkey see, monkey do. Its not like they don’t care… they just don’t know what they are doing.

  114. Russell, if I’ve misunderstood your position there is the possibility I’m a poor reader and the possibility you have not stated your position clearly. I have reread the thread and have not changed my interpretation of your remarks. This you have no control over. Sorry. You do have control over restating your position with a clarity that I cannot misunderstand.

  115. russellseitz says:

    Really, Anoilman, have you lost another californium source down a dry hole ?

    “I have reread the thread and have not changed my interpretation of your remarks. ”
    Show a little backbone, O’Niell surely you can manage a misinterpretation. better than your first.

  116. BBD says:

    Russell

    Taking 90,000 un-peer reviewed pages l on trust falls some what short of the criterion of reality-based policy.

    In essence, this is an argument from ignorance and personal incredulity. As such, it collapses on fallacious foundations.

  117. russellseitz says:

    In essence yours is an objection founded on personal credulity . Get real and reflect on how the synergy of bureaucration turf building and regulatory mission creep is inflating Federal expenditure at the expense of the economy.

  118. Facts may never be enough, but time and facts can be persuasive. William Nordhaus is sounding bullish on carbon tax now and says the current agreement will allow temp rise of 2.5 degrees or more.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-01-31/a-climate-change-economist-sounds-the-alarm
    The Nordhaus flipflop fits with my sense that every day the case for delay in addressing AGW becomes more ludicrous. We can help by communicating effectively, but the ideological barriers are daunting. Time and facts will bring the deniers to our side. It’s very late, of course, but look at Nordhaus, he moved all the way to criticizing the Paris agreement as inadequate. Nordhaus is 75 and I suspect he is probably looking at protecting his legacy as important economist. History is not going to look kindly on the folks who rejected the facts over and over. The serious Nordhaus flipflop is probably a model for denialists and go-slowers to adopt when they throw in the towel and start worrying about their legacy. Flop all the way to the other side so you don’t look too bad in a decade or two when the time frames and positions seem more ambiguous.

    atta boy, Bill Nordhaus. You are now a believer. Welcome to the reality-based community, such as it is.

  119. Willard says:

    You call that effective? Here’s effective:

    This asymmetry is what’s so impressive about the modern Republican Party. It’s not just that they’ve won, but that winning has put them in a position to enact an extraordinarily ambitious and radical agenda, one which will in the course of a few months destroy pillars of American government that have stood for fifty years or more. If Democrats are ever to be in a position to pass their own agenda (or merely to undo the damage that’s about to be done), they need to play close attention not only to how the Republicans won in 2016—a question over which much ink has been spilled—but to how the Republicans transformed themselves over a much longer timeline into a party that could transform the country when it won.

    The lesson is this: in modern American politics, having an ideologically coherent and disciplined party is an advantage, not a liability.

    https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/01/why-republicans-are-impressive

  120. BBD says:

    In essence yours is an objection founded on personal credulity . Get real and reflect on how the synergy of bureaucration turf building and regulatory mission creep is inflating Federal expenditure at the expense of the economy.

    And now you add argument from assertion to a tripos of logical fallacies.

    Well done!

  121. anoilman says:

    russell: We build Pulsed Neutron Sources so we don’t have to deal with export regulations. As they are 75 feet long, they are also hard to misplace. They are however much more lethal.
    http://petrowiki.org/Pulsed_neutron_lifetime_logs

    The regulatory issues to design, test, and ship these little beauties is dead simple. Probably the biggest issue is meeting local construction guidelines. (The containment tank weighs a lot, and will crack the foundations of most buildings.)

    Look… All I’m seeing from you is hand waving, and there’s a lot of regulations, and its bad. I’m seeing anything concrete to say, wow there are lot of time wasting regulations. I work directly with and or am impacted by regulations, and I don’t see what you are seeing. That’s all I’m saying, and that’s where I’m coming from.

  122. russellseitz says:

    This administration must be catching on in the popular imagination : you just asserted a tripos of alternative facts.

  123. BBD says:

    you just asserted a tripos of alternative facts.

    No, I didn’t. Now you are making *more* nonsense up as you go along. Please read Oily’s final paragraph above; he nails it exactly: you are just saying stuff.

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