The “truth” matters

There’s been a lengthy Twitter exchange about the Harvey et al. paper. In case you don’t remember, it was a paper essentially arguing that those blogs that tend to be dismissive of the risks associated with anthropogenic global warming (AGW) tend to also regard Arctic sea ice as often in recovery and tend to promote views suggesting that polar bears are not under threat because of retreating summer Arctic sea ice. In the latter case, they also tend to use a single source who promotes views that are at odds with those of experts who study polar bears.

The Twitter discussion involved, amongst others, myself, Bart Verheggen (one of the authors of Harvey et al.), Roger Pielke Jr, and Jean Goodwin, a Professor of Communication. The criticism varied from Harvey et al. being an attempt to delegitimise a scientific colleague, to it lacking intellectual hospitality, to it violating scientific norms, to it being a pointless attempt to address misinformation, to it potentially backfiring.

I’m not actually a fan of the tone of Harvey et al. I think they could have presented it in a way that may have resulted in less backlash (admittedly, it may also have resulted in less publicity). However, this does not change that it presents information that I would regard as broadly true. It does seem clear that there is a subset of blogs that use short-term variability in Arctic sea ice extent to argue that it is recovering. Similarly, the same subset tend to argue that polar bears are not threatened by retreating summer Arctic sea ice and use a single source to justify these claims. Although this source has a background in a related field, they appear to have little, if any, relevant formal expertise when it comes to polar bears, but present themselves as being an expert and promote views that are at odds with those of recognised experts in this field.

In my opinion, it’s important to recognise these “truths” even if one disagrees with the manner in which they’ve been presented. If one continually criticises attempts to address misinformation because of the tone of the presentation, then it will be hard not to interpret this as defending misinformation. Even if that isn’t the intent, it will probably still be used to some to suggest that it is.

As far as the possibility that something may backfire, it is worth people thinking about how their presentation will be received, but that something may not be received as one might hope is not really a reason to avoid presenting it. If anything, scientists shouldn’t really let the societal implications of their research influence what they publish (other than always being very careful, especially if the implications are potentially serious).

I think scientists (well, myself at least) look at this whole issue in quite a simple way. Maybe there are ways to present things that are effective at influencing public opinion. Maybe there are things we should simply avoid doing because they might be ineffective, or might backfire. Sometimes, however, it’s simply worth addressing misinformation even if doing so achieves little, and might – on occasion – backfire by giving undue attention to those presenting misinformation.

One could also argue that those criticising Harvey et al. because it might be ineffective and might backfire, should also consider that the same applies to their criticism. How people perceive attempts to address misinformation will also be influenced by the criticism that these attempts receive. The “truth” should matter, irrespective of the manner in which it is presented.

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193 Responses to The “truth” matters

  1. Willard says:

    Consistency also matters, but perhaps not among honest brokers:

  2. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    As far as the possibility that something may backfire, it is worth people thinking about how their presentation will be received, but that something may not be received as one might hope is not really a reason to avoid presenting it.

    I’m not sure that is, precisely, relevant. It seems the question is is not whether it would be a reason not to present it, but whether it would be a reason to present it in a more effective manner.

    OTOH – I still think that there is a big assumption (at least in what I’ve seen) being made that even if there were a more effective manner to present the same basic information (a big “if,” IMO), presenting the same information in a more effective manner would have a measurable net benefit. IMO, that assumption is rather dubious, to say the least.

    And on the 3rd hand, there is another aspect – related to the following part of your post:

    One could also argue that those criticising Harvey et al. because it might be ineffective and might backfire, should also consider that the same applies to their criticism

    I am equally dubious that the criticism moves the needle in the real world in the other direction, either. I think that the lay of the land is pretty well set – and in fact, I think there is a lot of evidence that is the case. Designing a methodology for changing people’s views on climate change-related topics seems like a “wicked problem,” to me.

    So then I would ask, just what do the criticizers think they’re achieving from their criticism – besides making themselves feel that they’re better than otters?

  3. angech says:

    “As far as the possibility that something may backfire”
    “I’m not actually a fan of the tone of Harvey et al. I think they could have presented it in a way that may have resulted in less backlash”
    Dr Mitchell Taylor, booted off the board of the PBSG after 20 years of service, ” If you don’t believe that climate science is settled, you can’t be a member of the PBSG,”‘
    has some interesting things to say.
    I did write over at Bart’s that this article should backfire.
    not least because of this pertinent comment by Taylor.
    “I have been active in polar bears since 1978. I didn’t recognize 12 of the 14 names on the paper written criticizing Susan for publishing an article about polar bears because she does not have any direct experience in polar bear research or management.”
    Thank you for raising the matter again.
    I feel the paper goes strongly against a lot of the things that you stand for as a scientist and I am sorry you have to defend it,

  4. KiwiGriff says:

    Imagine being on fire, running up to a firefighter screaming for help, and they hook their hands in their pockets and say, “Actually, before we start, I think you should say you’re violently oxidizing. Not all oxidization is bad. I mean, some of my cells are performing oxidation right now, and I think it would be better if we …
    —Cracked[1]

    A concern troll visits sites of an opposing ideology and offers advice on how they could “improve” things, either in their tactical use of rhetoric, site rules, or with more philosophical consistency. The “improvements” are almost exclusively intended to be less effective.

    One common tactic of concern trolls is the “a plague on both your houses” approach, where the concern troll tries to convince people that both sides of the ideological divide are just as bad as each other, and so no one can think themselves “correct” but must engage in endless hedging and caveats. This preys on a willingness to debate critics and allow dissent; everyone wastes time discussing the matter and bending over backwards, so as not to appear intolerant of disagreement, all to the great amusement of the troll.

    https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Concern_troll

  5. Willard,
    Yes, I noticed that too.

    Joshua,
    I don’t know what the critizers think they’re achieving. I think some do genuinely think that they could help to improve how to engage. I don’t think these people appreciate quite how difficult this is, or some of the background. Others are, I think, just appealing to their audience.

  6. Steven Mosher says:

    “However, this does not change that it presents information that I would regard as broadly true. It does seem clear that there is a subset of blogs that use short-term variability in Arctic sea ice extent to argue that it is recovering. Similarly, the same subset tend to argue that polar bears are not threatened by retreating summer Arctic sea ice and use a single source to justify these claims. Although this source has a background in a related field, they appear to have little, if any, relevant formal expertise when it comes to polar bears, but present themselves as being an expert and promote views that are at odds with those of recognised experts in this field.”

    It’s a bit weird. If the paper is merely about what is broadly, or obviously true, a mere observation
    that
    A) there exist a set of blogs that argue X
    B) those same blogs argue Y
    C) those blogs all cite one source W.
    D) W has no acknowledged direct expertise in Y.
    Then it’s not at all clear what the purpose, intention, goal, of publishing the paper is.

    Is it just to record things that are broadly true? dogs have 4 legs. Humans have 2 arms.

    I just consider my own feild. I am sure I could go around to all the skeptical blogs and find that
    at one time or another they all post a graphic by T. heller.

    A) there exist a set of blogs that argue global warming is not real
    B) those same blogs argue that adjustments are a hoax
    C) those blogs all cite one source, heller.
    D) heller has no acknowledged direct expertise in adjustments.

    I cant think fo any group of experts in my feild thinking that such a paper was worthwhile, of any scientific merit, or any merit whatsoever.

    When scientists do something that has no scientific merit, people get to ask why? and they get to speculate. WRT to backfiring. Seems to beg the question of whether there was any clearly though out purpose to begin with.

    Lets do another example. Nic Lewis. When Nic wrote his first paper on ECS it was picked up by a
    lot of skeptical blogs.

    A) there exist a set of blogs that argue global warming is not real
    B) those same blogs argue that ECS is low or zero
    C) those blogs all cite one source, Nic
    D) Nic has no acknowledged direct expertise in ECS, only one paper.

    Can you imagine anyone writing a paper pointing this out and having it accepted? Nope.

    truth matters. the truth about ice. the truth about bears. the truth about what is scientifically important. the truth about what authors were intending to do.

    All these skeptical blogs doubt the declining ice. They also doubt the threat to bears.
    They also cite susan. Susan is a woman.

    If I wrote this you might wonder why I am pointing out the fact that she was a woman. And you
    might percieve some sexism on my part. In my defense I would say what I wrote is broadly true.
    no pun intended.

  7. Steven,

    D) Nic has no acknowledged direct expertise in ECS, only one paper.

    Can you imagine anyone writing a paper pointing this out and having it accepted? Nope.

    Despite how some people present it, I don’t think Nic Lewis’s work is really all that inconsistent with the “mainstream” results.

    In a sense, whether or not it was wise to publish Harvey et al. is independent of whether or not what it presents is correct.

  8. If someone has no acknowledged direct expertise on some subject, that means that we should be cautious in accepting them at face value without investigating further (c.f. Salby “wow”, and indeed my comment on Essenhigh’s paper). It doesn’t mean that the arguments can be dismissed on the basis of the source of the argument rather than the content (i.e. an ad-hominem) and I don’t think anybody is arguing that, either in the case of Dr Crockford, Nic Lewis or T. Heller (although showing the content is wrong is usually trivial in the last case, but the volume of nonsense means it is a “war” of attrition [if RPJr doesn’t object to the analogy]). The problem is that Dr Crockford is apparently presented by lobbyists etc. as having expertise she doesn’t have, which means the listeners may not apply the caution mentioned in my first sentence. That is why setting out the facts is important in this case.

    At the end of the day, the twitter exchange made it very clear that there was no real interest in criticising the content of the paper, or the science, just the tone of the debate. I suspect that is what happens when you need to defend a position, but don’t have a substantive issue where you think you are right.

  9. Does anyone claim that Nic has acknowledged expertise in ECS? It seems to me the value he brings to the science lies in expertise in Bayesian analysis, which he quite evidently has, although as previous discussions here show, I don’t agree with him on every aspect of it.

  10. angech,

    Dr Mitchell Taylor, booted off the board of the PBSG after 20 years of service, ” If you don’t believe that climate science is settled, you can’t be a member of the PBSG,”‘
    has some interesting things to say.

    Booted off? Interesting? Do you have a source? You forgot to mention that Mitch Taylor is also a Heartland Institute Expert.

  11. “I have been active in polar bears since 1978. I didn’t recognize 12 of the 14 names on the paper written criticizing Susan for publishing an article about polar bears because she does not have any direct experience in polar bear research or management.”

    This is a pretty silly objection because it is primarily a paper about science communication, rather than polar bears specifically (as you can tell from the title). How many polar bear experts do you need to show that Dr Crockfords arguments are incorrect/misleading? Steven Amstrup is obviously and expert on Polar bears, as is Ian Stirling is that not enough? Note that he said he only recognized two of the fourteen, but he didn’t comment on whether those two would be well placed to comment on Dr Crockford’s arguments, which they evidently are.

    The other authors seem to have a mix of expertise in science communication/education, climate, ecology, species adaption (in general, not specifically polar bears). That seems to me to be quite reasonable given the topic of the paper.

  12. Apparently he wasn’t “Booted off”, just not invited, because of his statement on climate change, not polar bears. Rather ironically the Wikipedia section concludes with the quote from Derocher I would note that Dr. Taylor is not a trained climatologist and his perspectives are not relevant to the discussions and intent of this meeting.. It isn’t too clear what he has actually said on climate from that page, but having signed the Mantahhan declaration suggests the quote is not unreasonable.

  13. sorry, obviously having a bad day with tags again. I hate computers, all of them! ;o)

  14. Steven Mosher says:

    “In a sense, whether or not it was wise to publish Harvey et al. is independent of whether or not what it presents is correct”

    this of course gets to the question of what it presents. looks like they wanted to bash a girl. and then walk it back to… the paper is only about the mundane fact that skeptics all cite one non tagger of polar bears.

    personally id love to have dk look at the model the experts used. I trust him. but in general i would not sweat skeptic using susan. nothing too see much less write about.
    but lots of grad students got published with harvey.. good for them.

    they were grad students right?. i dont recall

  15. JCH says:

    When it was clear that bear numbers were rebounding from intensive hunting in the past, and were they were that rebound to suggest scientists were wrong? I believe that is a yes.

  16. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    I think some do genuinely think that they could help to improve how to engage.

    Yes. Good point. I’m sure that is undoubtedly true. Bad Joshua for over-generalizing.

  17. Dave_Geologist says:

    SM

    the paper is only about the mundane fact that skeptics all cite one non tagger of polar bears.

    No, it’s that the skeptics like her contrarian take on polar bear ecology and AGW and put her forward as an expert on same. Despite her expertise being limited to performing DNA analysis on millennia-dead bears. IOW greater than mine (by a minuscule amount) but less than that of some random Inuit with no biological training. It would be a different matter if she was arguing from DNA that we don’t have to worry about loss of polar bear habitat because pizzlies. Polar bears and grizzlies have a history of merging into one population when there’s no ice and splitting when there is ice, so the genes for polar-bearness will be preserved and they will re-emerge in 100,000 years when weathering has recycled our pollution back the ocean floor. Then she’d have expertise. But then she wouldn’t be quoted because they’d have to admit to the sea-ice loss.

    I see Harvey et al. as attacking the scientific hypocrisy of the skeptics and deniers, ignoring the mass of evidence and only repeating what they want to hear. And also a further endorsement of the 97%. Skeptic and denier blogs must know they’re setting themselves up for this sort of attack, and would quote a plethora of sympathetic sites if they could. That they can’t speaks volumes.

  18. jac. says:

    Where I live, the Harvey et al study made it to the regular press, giving rise to an article on how some blogs are organised in deliberately spreading misinformation. I think it is good the general public was made aware of that. By that standard, I would consider Harvey et al. effective (if they wanted to influence public opinion).

    And if Harvey et al. were being a bit rough on people who deliberately engage in misinformation, I cannot be bothered, really.

    jac.

  19. izen says:

    @-SM
    “the paper is only about the mundane fact that skeptics all cite one non tagger of polar bears.”

    As Dave_G suggests it may be ‘about’ rather more than that.

    But it IS about the fact that skeptics all cite one source is considered ‘mundane’.
    It is the distinguishing characteristic of the skeptic(?) in all fields of science in which they appear.

    The polar bear – Susan stuff is only a mundane example of the common asymmetry in the amount of work the two sides reference.

    Whether it is Creationists , anti-vaxxers, or back-radiation doubters. One side cites a vast network on inter-related work that by following citations can cover thousands of scientists on the six degrees of separation principle.
    The identifying fingerprint of the fringe, is that it cites a very small loop of the same few ‘authority’ figures they have. finding six is difficult.

  20. izen says:

    This references the previous thread, but probably fits here better.

  21. When Harvey et al was first published, I looked for expertise among the authors in social network analysis. I didn’t find any.

  22. Kestrel27 says:

    Don’t you just love these endless discussions of second and third order issues? Well, actually no I don’t, not really. Here are the matters in relation to which, in the context of this post, the ‘truth’ is important, and, yes, I do realise that most regular contributors to threads on this blog think they know the truth in relation to all of them:
    1. Is the planet warming and, if so, are humans largely responsible?
    2. Is arctic ice decreasing?
    3. Is the polar bear population decreasing and, if so, is that attributable to a decrease in arctic ice?

    There is little point in me talking about the first two so I will stick to the third. Crockford has particular views on polar bear populations and how the bears behave when faced with a reduction in sea ice. She may not have the same academic expertise as others but it is clear that she knows a lot about polar bears, more, I would hazard, than anyone who has contributed here. Her views might be right and they might be wrong; others who may be more expert, disagree with her. But all that really matters is who is right. The Harvey paper largely attacks her credentials, and makes a lot of the fact that she is often cited by contrarian blogs but this is all second order stuff; the authors are playing the person rather than the ball.

    I realise this is just one example: there seems to be something close to an academic industry involved in analysing why contrarians are contrary and what psychological processes and personality traits result in them being unable to accept that the consensus is right. The resulting papers, which must I think be financed ultimately by the taxpayer, certainly provide discussion material for this blog and others on both sides of the fence but in the end it seems to me that they belong in the box labelled ‘idle speculation’.

  23. Willard says:

    > Don’t you just love these endless discussions of second and third order issues? Well, actually no I don’t, not really.

    Well, actually, seems that you do:

    ***

    > There is little point in me talking about the first two so I will stick to the third.

    There is little point in talking about the third either.

    Thank you nevertheless for your concerns.

  24. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    Thank you nevertheless for your concerns.

    I would like to engage Kestrel27 on his comment, but take your comment to suggest that you’d consider it responding to tr*lling?

  25. Willard says:

    Joshua,

    The topic of this thread is not H17. Nor is it SusanC. The topic of this thread is why it matters to describe and to try to explain how contrarians megaphones operate.

    The easiest way to bypass this topic is to return to H17 or SusanC, Krestrel’s argument and others have been covered for a few months already at BartV’s:

    https://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/there-once-was-a-polar-bear-science-vs-the-blogosphere/

    There is also:

    https://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2017/12/22/how-blogs-convey-and-distort-scientific-information-about-polar-bears-and-arctic-sea-ice/

    No need to rehash them once more.

    Idle speculations may not be the best way to criticize idle speculations.

  26. Steven Mosher says:

    dave

    “No, it’s that the skeptics like her contrarian take on polar bear ecology and AGW and put her forward as an expert on same. Despite her expertise being limited to performing DNA analysis on millennia-dead bears. ”

    is that what the paper proved…

    the authors disagree with you about the point of their paper. maybe a quote from the paper will help settle this.ya know exegesis.

  27. verytallguy says:

    Truth?

    Here it is, fom the Orwellian sounding “Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow”:

    http://www.cfact.org/2018/03/13/two-co2-climate-change-myths/

    Is it important to show how such material comes about? Sure. Did Harvey ’17 do it in a perfect way? Of course not. There is no “perfect “.

  28. thomaswfuller2 writes “When Harvey et al was first published, I looked for expertise among the authors in social network analysis. I didn’t find any.”

    Google scholar works rather better: Steven Amstrup and Ian Stirling. They seem to have written papers with other people working in the field.

  29. SM wrote “is that what the paper proved”

    I don’t think the paper was intended to prove anything, but to illustrate (“show”) something. Giving a concrete example is quite a good way of “showing” something. I suspect that if a concrete example wasn’t given, we would be hearing the complaint “O.K. so why can you not give one concrete example”.

    Papers outside maths rarely prove anything.

    I note you missed the key part that I think Dave was trying to get across (but I may be mistaken of course:

    “No, it’s that the skeptics like her contrarian take on polar bear ecology and AGW and put her forward as an expert on same. Despite her expertise being limited to performing DNA analysis on millennia-dead bears. ”

    I note Dave even put that bit in italics, rather than bold, perhaps not emphatic enough. From the paper:

    Approximately 80% of the denier blogs cited here referred to one particular denier blog, Polar Bear Science, by Susan Crockford, as their primary source of discussion and debate on the status of polar bears. Notably, as of this writing, Crockford has neither conducted any original research nor published any articles in the peer-reviewed literature on the effects of sea ice on the population dynamics of polar bears. However, she has published notes and “briefings” through a conservative think tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), and is described by them as “an expert on polar bear evolution.” Similarly, the Heartland Institute, another conservative think tank that downplays AGW, describes her as “one of the world’s foremost experts on polar bears.” Prominent among blogs giving Crockford’s blog disproportionate attention are WUWT and CD, suggesting that her blog reaches a large audience.

    It seems to me the point in raising Dr Crockford’s expertise is to cast doubt on her findings but because her expertise has been incorrectly inflated (perhaps not Dr Crockford’s fault or responsibility) when her research is promulgated. I don’t see a problem with pointing that out, as perceived expertise is a reasonable heuristic for the general public to use in forming an opinion, and hence it ought to be correct.

  30. Doh “It seems to me the point in raising Dr Crockford’s expertise is to cast doubt on her findings” should of course have been “It seems to me the point in raising Dr Crockford’s expertise is not to cast doubt on her findings”. Obviously haven’t had enough coffee yet this morning.

  31. @thomas, sorry, mis-parsed your post.

  32. Steven Mosher says:

    Sorry DK, I am not seeing the paper observe

    “No, it’s that the skeptics like her contrarian take on polar bear ecology and AGW and put her forward as an expert on same. Despite her expertise being limited to performing DNA analysis on millennia-dead bears. ‘

    Did the paper observing that her expertise is limited to performing DNA analysis? Dunno
    I’ll have to re read it. I read it mostly looking for whether or not any of the authors were experts in content analysis?
    are they? I dunno?

    I thought this was a fair synopsis of the paper

    “However, this does not change that it presents information that I would regard as broadly true. It does seem clear that there is a subset of blogs that use short-term variability in Arctic sea ice extent to argue that it is recovering. Similarly, the same subset tend to argue that polar bears are not threatened by retreating summer Arctic sea ice and use a single source to justify these claims. Although this source has a background in a related field, they appear to have little, if any, relevant formal expertise when it comes to polar bears, but present themselves as being an expert and promote views that are at odds with those of recognised experts in this field.”

    But if Harvey’s paper specifically notes her expertise with DNA.. then I think dave’s would be more correct.

    Hmm. quick read.. oh my this will be fun

  33. SM sorry, I don’t think I understand what you are saying

    “I read it mostly looking for whether or not any of the authors were experts in content analysis?”

    Is content analysis some specialist field? If so, I don’t think it is really necessary for the comment in the paper:

    “No, it’s that the skeptics like her contrarian take on polar bear ecology and AGW and put her forward as an expert on same. Despite her expertise being limited to performing DNA analysis on millennia-dead bears. ‘

    to have a specialist author. It is clear that Dr Crockford is presented as an expert on polar bears (the quotes given are explicit and unambiguous), and it is equally clear from her publications that she is not (and even then, there are authors that are experts on polar bears who would be able to make that judgment). It is a bit like statistical hypothesis testing, if the difference is too small to be of any practical significance, it adds nothing to the analysis to actually perform a formal test.

    I agree with the synopsis as well. My main problem with the paper is use of “denier” etc. While I wouldn’t disagree that denial (in the psychological sense) is not an unreasonable term, that doesn’t mean it is a good idea to actually use it. It would have been better if the discussions with skeptics had focused on whether the fair synopsis was actually fair and what could be learned from it, rather than evade the question by fixating on how nasty the “mini-mind” “consensus enforcers” are with all their name-calling.

  34. Q: How many experts on the carbon cycle were on the author list of:

    Gavin C. Cawley, On the atmospheric residence time of anthropogenically sourced carbon dioxide, Energy & Fuels, volume 25, number 11, pages 5503–5513, September 2011.

    A: None.

    Q: Does that cast doubt on the correctness of the arguments contained therein?

    A: No, whether they are correct depends on the content of the arguments, not the source.

    Q: Should we me more cautious in accepting the paper than if it were written by a genuine expert (say Prof. Caldeira)?

    A: Yes, of course, but you still need to identify a problem with the content before you reject the arguments, not just judge by the source.

    Q: Is that a problem then?

    A: No, because I don’t present myself as an expert, so I am not encouraging the reader to be less cautious about my paper than they should be.

  35. zebra says:

    Willard,

    “The topic of this thread is not H17. Nor is it SusanC. The topic of this thread is why it matters to describe and to try to explain how contrarians megaphones operate.

    The easiest way to bypass this topic is to return to H17 or SusanC, Krestrel’s argument and others have been covered for a few months already at BartV’s:”

    While others may choose to ignore your second paragraph, I will comment on the first.

    Two points:

    1. “Describe and try to explain”… to whom? What would be the target audience?
    2. I’m not an expert on the blogosphere (praise the lord), so I wonder if there is (or why there isn’t) some kind of “peer-review” site (meta-blog?) that uses objective criteria to characterize the efforts of the partisans.

  36. Marco says:

    “I read it mostly looking for whether or not any of the authors were experts in content analysis?
    are they? I dunno?”

    Meena Balgopal is, in the sense that she has published papers using content analysis and ongoing research using content analysis.

    I think it will be really hard to find a journal more suitable than BioScience to publish a paper like this, considering the variety of topics within biological science and its connection to the ‘outside’ world that BioScience publishes. It has quite a few ‘social sciences’ papers focusing on social networks and on public policy.

  37. Willard says:

    > I will comment on the first.

    You did not. You simply asked leading questions. And you won’t comment, as it’d be playing the ref.

  38. Dave_Geologist says:

    Tom

    When Harvey et al was first published, I looked for expertise among the authors in social network analysis. I didn’t find any.

    Did you know what to look for? I suspect that the peer reviewers did.

  39. Dave_Geologist says:

    SM

    Did the paper observing that her expertise is limited to performing DNA analysis?

    No. I observed it. In her publication record. That part of my post was what was called a narrative a topic or two back. Now maybe she has a pile of unpublished material just going through peer review and she’ll be acknowledged next year as a world expert. Meanwhile, contrarian organisations label her “an expert on polar bear evolution” and “one of the world’s foremost experts on polar bears.” Do they have precognition?

    TL;DR version: (1) skeptics claim her as a expert on polar bears (published paper); (2) based on her publications she may be on their genetics (not many papers but perhaps it’s a small field), but not on their present-day numbers or ecology (my independent research – not taking the paper’s word for it, checking if she does in fact have the credentials as an expert on the topic to hand).

    That’s not to say she’s unacceptably bigging herself up as an expert (her blog posts notwithstanding), but that the skeptics are bigging her up, probably without her knowledge or encouragement.

    The interesting thing is that self-proclaimed skeptics are demonstrating the exact opposite behaviour to that of a true skeptic.

  40. Steven Mosher says:

    Did you know what to look for? I suspect that the peer reviewers did.

    i expect as a minimum to see the protocal they used to train the coders. I expect to see that the coders are not authors especially when one of the authors has written the science being coded.. other things as well, but thats a start.

    that said none appear to be experts in the specific feild of content analysis of blog posts on polar bears. but credentials are not that important. I think bart finally coughed up the data..not all of it,but enough to see they didnt screw up the observation of the obvious. the paper probably wasnt published to merely note the obvious. Im still looking for the detailed account of each author contribution, especially for the co authors who have no other publications.

    the paper needs a special prosecuter or stolen emails so we can play some major league climateball.

  41. Steven Mosher says:

    dave…

    its not part of your narrative its your first point to counter my synopsis…which is nothing different than attps.

    “the paper is only about the mundane fact that skeptics all cite one non tagger of polar bears.

    No, it’s that the skeptics like her contrarian take on polar bear ecology and AGW and put her forward as an expert on same. Despite her expertise being limited to performing DNA analysis on millennia-dead bears.”

    seems to me that harvey wanted to nitpick
    about her area of expertise..had to correct it..
    as for her study of millium old bear dna..
    i have no idea what that has to do with the species being able to survive climate change..

    i will have check if they put her forward as and expert on AGW as well.

  42. Willard says:

    > i expect as a minimum to see the protocal they used to train the coders.

    In that context, the “coders” are the authors themselves.

    ***

    > credentials are not that important

    Credentials matter as soon as someone touts them. In our case, contrarians megaphones did elect SusanC as their authority in most things Arctic. If someone ever says that Dikran is an authority on carbon cycles, reminding that someone that it’s false would matter. It wouldn’t be that important, but it’d still matter.

  43. Dave_Geologist says:

    SM

    that said none appear to be experts in the specific feild of content analysis of blog posts on polar bears. but credentials are not that important.

    Do they need to be? Seriously? This isn’t string theory you know. Even the denizens of those blogs can tell “skeptic” blogs and content from science ones (although they don’t recognise the latter for what they are, they do recognise them from what they’re not). And they have no problem identifying their enemies. Are you going to claim that the usual suspects are really endorsing mainstream science and quoting mainstream scientists, but their language is too abstruse for a lay person to parse them Really? Have you read them? A fourteen-year old could parse them

    as for her study of millium old bear dna..
    i have no idea what that has to do with the species being able to survive climate change..

    Nothing whatsover. But as that’s the limit of her professional polar bear expertise (at least on the published record), it’s kinda the point.

  44. Willard says:

    > Are you going to claim that the usual suspects are really endorsing mainstream science and quoting mainstream scientists

    As long as your comments can be exploited to peddle Richie’s concerns in this thread, I don’t see why not, DaveG. Not that it would be needed. Wondering about, having no idea if, seeming that, checking how could suffice.

  45. “Q: Should we me more cautious in accepting the paper than if it were written by a genuine expert (say Prof. Caldeira)?”

    One time NYC punk musician Ken Caldeira wrote at least a couple of peer-reviewed papers with former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold on climate change.

    More interesting is that Myhrvold wrote a paper on asteroid detection that received lots of pushback from NASA

    https://physicsworld.com/a/nasa-hits-back-at-millionaire-in-asteroid-spat/

    Last Suday the earth had a “near miss” with a Tunguska-sized asteroid that wasn’t detected until the day before it whizzed past within the Moon’s orbit. The only video I have seen of the fly-by was taken by an amateur astronomer Michael Jager.

  46. Steven Mosher says:

    willard . dave seems to think contrarians clain she is an agw expert.

    truth matters.
    do they?

    personal attacks should be precise. and accurate.

  47. Willard says:

    > dave seems to think contrarians clain she is an agw expert.

    Does he?

    Accuracy and all that jazz.

  48. izen says:

    @-SM
    “i will have check if they put her forward as and expert on AGW as well.”

    ‘They’ did not claim she is an expert on climate change, but that her observations on lack of polar bear decline show that Arctic changes are not happening and THEREFORE AGW is not happening as claimed.

    ‘They’ do not need her to be a climate expert because ‘they’ use her observations to confirm that AGW is not happening.
    (or at least not to the extent the Alarmists claim)

  49. I suspect that SM is referring to DtG’s comment “No, it’s that the skeptics like her contrarian take on polar bear ecology and AGW and put her forward as an expert on same.“. People tend not to write blog comments with the focus that the (ought to) put into writing papers, and sometimes minor inaccuracies are introduced (for me it is mainly when I go back and alter something I have already written, before submitting).

    It probably would have been more efficient for SM just to have quoted DtG, and point out that the article doesn’t claim she is presented as an expert on AGW, just polar bears, but being a bit cryptic seems to be the fashion these days.

    “personal attacks should be precise”

    Ironically, I don’t think DtG is making a personal attack (at least not on Crockford by pointing out he lack of expertise). The problem with expertise here is not in not having the expertise, but in others presenting you as an expert. “Accuracy and all that jazz.”?

  50. Was I personally attacking myself earlier by pointing out I wasn’t an expert on the carbon cycle?

  51. The problem I have with the idea of this being a personal attack is that someone with some expertise of academia should understand that if you step out and make strong claims without apparently having much in the way of relevant expertise, people are probably going to point this out. If you want people to seriously consider your claims, then you do need to present them in a setting where people are likely to consider them (peer-reviewed paper, conference presentation, seminar, for example).

    I’ve changed fields more than once (in the sense that I’ve gone more than once from publishing in one area to publishing in another where there is little overlap in terms of topic of in who works in these fields). It takes quite some time before people start taking you seriously. This is good thing; you should be required to put some effort in before people start to put some effort in to considering what you’re presenting. Simply being controversial isn’t really enough.

  52. Steven Mosher says:

    “It probably would have been more efficient for SM just to have quoted DtG, and point out that the article doesn’t claim she is presented as an expert on AGW, just polar bears, but being a bit cryptic seems to be the fashion these days.”

    Sometimes Im crycptic on purpose and sometimes because I am texting on a phone during a quick break or boring part of a conversation.

    Hmm how to think about the expert thing. If I dont have the time to check something for myself I would defer to the expert. If I am checking for myself then I dont care about credentials.
    The hilarious thing for me is that skeptics want to play both sides of this reputation /credentials game.

  53. The Dunning-Kruger effect affects scientists as much as it affects anyone else. Indeed it could be that having become used to being a respected expert in one field may lead you into thinking you don’t need to start with the basics if you switch topic, or that your natural aptitude will necessarily carry over to that as well. Humility and self-skepticism are an important part of being a scientist (as are self-confidence and pride – but you need to get the balance right).

  54. Steven Mosher says:

    I dunno willard

    ‘“No, it’s that the skeptics like her contrarian take on polar bear ecology and AGW and put her forward as an expert on same. Despite her expertise being limited to performing DNA analysis on millennia-dead bears. ”

    Perhaps you can read “expert on same” differently, “same” is a little bit vague.

  55. Given that she is not a polar bear expert, but presented as such, does it matter whether she is presented as an expert on AGW (you would need some expertise on polar bears to put forward a view on their ecology)? Does it really deserve this amount of discussion, or just noting and moving on?

  56. Steven Mosher says:

    “Approximately 80% of the denier blogs cited here referred to one particular denier blog, Polar Bear Science, by Susan Crockford, as their primary source of discussion and debate on the status of polar bears. Notably, as of this writing, Crockford has neither conducted any original research nor published any articles in the peer-reviewed literature on the effects of sea ice on the population dynamics of polar bears. However, she has published notes and “briefings” through a conservative think tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), and is described by them as “an expert on polar bear evolution.” Similarly, the Heartland Institute, another conservative think tank that downplays AGW, describes her as “one of the world’s foremost experts on polar bears.” Prominent among blogs giving Crockford’s blog disproportionate attention are WUWT and CD, suggesting that her blog reaches a large audience.”

    Hmm. no footnotes for either of those quotes. That seemed weird. Anyway if you go looking through everything the GPWF has published you will finds, presee releases, Notes, and essays.
    In the Press releases the references to her qualifications never claim expert status.
    To find those references you have to read the actual briefing reports and read the “about the author” section. In the majority of the cases they dont refer to her as a polar bear expert.
    But there is one version of the boilerplate ‘about the author” that mentions bears

    Here is what I found, search all the GPWF stuff

    ‘Dr Susan Crockford is an evolutionary biologist and has been working for 35 years in archaeozoology,
    paleozoology and forensic zoology.1 She is an adjunct professor at the University of
    Victoria, British Columbia, but works full time for a private consulting company she co-owns
    (Pacific Identifications Inc). She is the author of Rhythms of Life: Thyroid Hormone and the Origin
    of Species, Eaten: A Novel (a polar bear attack thriller), Polar Bear Facts and Myths (for ages
    seven and up, also available in French and German), Polar Bears Have Big Feet (for preschoolers),
    and the fully referenced Polar Bears: Outstanding Survivors of Climate Change,2 as well as
    a scientific paper on polar bear conservation status.3 She has authored several earlier briefing
    papers and videos for GWPF on the subjects of polar bears and walrus.4 Susan Crockford blogs
    at http://www.polarbearscience.com.”

    ‘Toronto, 27 February: In a new report published by London-based think tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, zoologist Susan Crockford says that predictions that climate change is bringing about the demise of these iconic creatures have proven to be far from the mark.”

    And in the foreward to a publication called a “Note” circa 2013 and 2014

    ‘Dr Susan Crockford is an evolutionary biologist and an expert on polar bear evolution.
    She has been working for 35 years in archaeozoology, paleozoology and forensic zoology
    and is an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
    She works full time for a private consulting company she co-owns (Pacific Identifications
    Inc.) and is the author of Rhythms of Life: Thyroid Hormone and theOrigin of Species.
    She blogs about polar bears past and present at http://www.polarbearscience.com.”


    In a GWPF video released today, Dr Susan Crockford, a Canadian wildlife expert, documents the latest findings about rising polar bear numbers.

    ‘In the paper ‘The Arctic Fallacy’, Dr Susan Crockford, an expert in Arctic mammals,”

    ‘Dr Susan Crockford is an evolutionary biologist and has been working for 35 years
    in archaeozoology, paleozoology and forensic zoology. She is an adjunct professor at
    the University of Victoria, British Columbia, but works full time for a private consulting
    company she co-owns (Pacific Identifications Inc). She is the author of Rhythms of
    Life: Thyroid Hormone and the Origin of Species and of briefing papers for GWPF on the
    subject of walrus haulouts and polar bears. She blogs at http://www.polarbearscience.com.”

    ‘However, in a new briefing paper published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, zoologist Dr Susan Crockford reveals that the long-term recovery of polar bear populations continues apace. ”

    “Dr Susan Crockford is an evolutionary biologist and has been working for 35
    years in archaeozoology, paleozoology and forensic zoology. She is an adjunct
    professor at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, but works full time for
    a private consulting company she co-owns (Pacific Identifications Inc). She is
    the author of Rhythms of Life: Thyroid Hormone and the Origin of Species and
    of an earlier briefing paper for GWPF on the subject of walrus haulouts.1 She
    blogs at http://www.polarbearscience.com.”

    ‘London, 20 October: A briefing paper published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation refutes claims that Arctic walruses are in distress and danger due to global warming.
    The paper, written by Canadian zoologist Dr Susan Crockford, assesses the recent mass haulouts of walrus females and calves on the beaches of Alaska and Russia bordering the Chukchi Sea. The events have been blamed by US government biologists and WWF activists on lack of summer sea ice, amplified into alarming scare stories by news media around the world. ”

    Dr Susan Crockford is an evolutionary biologist and has been working for 35
    years in archaeozoology, paleozoology and forensic zoology. She is an adjunct
    professor at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, but works full time for
    a private consulting company she co-owns (Pacific Identifications Inc). She is
    the author of Rhythms of Life: Thyroid Hormone and the Origin of Species. She
    blogs at http://www.polarbearscience.com.

    heartland? I’m not finding the quote Harvey used.
    The definitive description heartland has for her

    http://climateconference.heartland.org/Speakers/susan-crockford/

    ‘Susan J. Crockford is an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria, B.C. and co-owner of a private scientific consulting firm called Pacific Identifications. She is a zoologist with a Ph.D. and specialties in evolutionary theory, archaeozoology, paleoecology, and forensic taxonomy. Crockford brings a unique “big-picture” perspective to the issue of polar bears and climate change. She has published many peer-reviewed papers on a range of topics, including polar bear evolution and climate change in the Arctic. She is an acknowledged expert on marine mammal ecology and evolution, and is a proficient science writer. In 2006, she wrote a book for non-scientists about evolution that features polar bears called Rhythms of Life: Thyroid Hormone and the Origin of Species, and in 2012 started a popular blog called PolarBearScience. She has written several magazine articles and opinion pieces on contemporary polar bear issues and recently released two short books on polar bear ecology and conservation: one is a summary volume suitable for children (Polar Bear Facts and Myths) and the other is a fully-referenced volume aimed at adults and older teens (Polar Bears: Outstanding Survivors of Climate Change).”

    from articles
    ‘On International Polar Bear Day, it’s time to celebrate some good news: the truth about polar bears and sea ice. Zoologist and polar bear expert Susan Crockford, Ph.D., takes us through a number of myths about polar bears, disputing every one.

    weird. When it comes to the claim in the paper that she is refered to as a polar bear expert. there are two quotes, neither footnoted. Looking atthe actual texts you see that GPWF makes no claims of her expertise in its pres releases and in one case in a publication in the front material they do mention expertise in polar bear evolution.

    heartland? I couldnt find the quote.

    Maybe the blogs called her an expert and the paper just didnt quote them

  57. Steven Mosher says:

    ‘Given that she is not a polar bear expert, but presented as such”

    Hmm the paper gives two quotes about expert status.. one I cant find and the other looks cherry picked.

  58. Steven,
    Do you really think that the claim of expertise needs to be explicit? Surely quoting someone on a topic is sufficient to imply that they’re regarded as an expert?

  59. Given that one is the GWPF and the other is the Heartland Institute, both vocal political lobbying bodies, I think two is enough to make the point. Also it isn’t difficult to find more quotes, for instance Dr Crockford self-identifies as a polar bear expert:

    I am a different kind of polar bear expert than those that study bears in the field but having a different background means I know things they do not and this makes my contribution valuable and valid.

    That was on the first page Google brought up from the query “Crockford polar bear expert”.

  60. The GWPF quote was easily Googlable, the Heartland one less so, but here is the Heartland Institute describing her as a polar bear expert (although less emphatically):

    On International Polar Bear Day, it’s time to celebrate some good news: the truth about polar bears and sea ice. Zoologist and polar bear expert Susan Crockford, Ph.D., takes us through a number of myths about polar bears, disputing every one.

    So it doesn’t appear to be much of a cherry pick.

  61. LOL, if you listen to the podcast, it quote in the paper is a direct quote from the introduction.

  62. zebra says:

    ATTP,

    “Surely quoting someone on a topic is sufficient to imply that they’re regarded as an expert?”

    I raised this earlier, and I hope I will not be moderated out, since the question seems fair and on topic : Who is the audience?

    For some, the quote provided by Dikran…

    I am a different kind of polar bear expert than those that study bears in the field but having a different background means I know things they do not and this makes my contribution valuable and valid.

    …would be sufficient.

    So, who are you convincing with your argument? Who is your audience when you raise the issue of actual expertise? The “other side” does a very good job of understanding and targeting its audience, which consists of people for whom critical thinking is not a plus.

    Unfortunately, I have yet to see a real answer on this question over many years of discussion.

  63. “I am a different kind of polar bear expert than those that study bears in the field but having a different background means I know things they do not and this makes my contribution valuable and valid.”

    is a pretty interesting statement, one wonders what it is about researching in the field that prevents an expert from knowing what Dr Crockford knows. Also having a different background does not mean that your contribution is valuable or valid. Prof. Essenhigh had a different background (combustion – and was obviously a well-regarded expert on that topic) from most people working on the carbon cycle, but his contribution was not valuable (except perhaps negatively so) or valid.

  64. zebra, the point is that the audience of the GWPF and Heartland Instutute communications is being misled by an incorrect statement regarding expertise. You can add some blogs to that as well (including Dr Crockford’s).

    The audience for the Harvey paper seems to be scientists, to help them with understanding the public debate and with their public communication of science.

  65. zebra says:

    Dikran,

    Very good points, well reasoned, difficult to refute. Have you tried them on any Trump voters lately?

    This is the problem I am talking about– her statement isn’t meant to convince anyone here, and all the rational protestations just play into the “persecuted Galileo” meme. Win-win for the other side.

  66. zebra says:

    Dikran,

    (missed your second comment)

    “is being misled”

    No, you are not getting it. They would be “misled” if they thought like we do.

  67. Zebra,

    and all the rational protestations just play into the “persecuted Galileo” meme. Win-win for the other side.

    Well, if everyone who accepted that the criticism of Susan Crockford was warranted (i.e., thay she is indeed presenting misinformation) agreed that this was happening, then maybe we could achieve something. I’m not really in favour of the idea that we should avoid pointing out truths because they might backfire.

  68. zebra if you tell somebody something that isn’t true, you have misled them if they took it to be true. It is pretty obvious that the audience of the GWPF and HI will include people that would have accepted the claim that Dr Crockford was an expert on polar bears. Lets not have another thread devoted to the meaning of words.

    “her statement isn’t meant to convince anyone here” of course it isn’t and I don’t think anybody has claimed that it is.

  69. zebra says:

    ATTP,

    The backfire question is less important than the first point I made…which, again, people seem reluctant to address.

  70. Zebra, I have to say, I really don’t appreciate people playing silly rhetorical games with me. You asked a question,

    So, who are you convincing with your argument? Who is your audience when you raise the issue of actual expertise? The “other side” does a very good job of understanding and targeting its audience, which consists of people for whom critical thinking is not a plus.

    and I gave you an answer:

    zebra, the point is that the audience of the GWPF and Heartland Instutute communications is being misled by an incorrect statement regarding expertise. You can add some blogs to that as well (including Dr Crockford’s).

    The audience for the Harvey paper seems to be scientists, to help them with understanding the public debate and with their public communication of science.

    The response

    Very good points, well reasoned, difficult to refute. Have you tried them on any Trump voters lately?

    is evasion as Trump voters are not the audience for my answer to your question. The paper isn’t about that, it is about helping scientists to improve their communication by understanding the “battlefield”. Of course I know that while the answer may be hard to refute that doesn’t mean it would be accepted by partisan participants in the discussion, however my answer wasn’t addressed to them, it was addressed to you (and anyone else reading).

  71. zebra says:

    Dikran,

    It is only about the meaning of words if you don’t follow the point I am making.

    It only matters if they believe she is “an expert on polar bears” if they understand “an expert on polar bears” the way you and I do. So, why not address that point instead of digressing about “mislead”?

    Are you a Trump voter? If not, perhaps you should acknowledge that your worldview and theirs are not necessarily congruent.

  72. zebra wrote “No, you are not getting it. They would be “misled” if they thought like we do.”

    zebra wrote “So, why not address that point instead of digressing about “mislead”? ”

    You initiated the digression by picking up on one word that I wrote. As I said, I really don’t appreciate these stupid rhetorical games.

    “It only matters if they believe she is “an expert on polar bears” if they understand “an expert on polar bears” the way you and I do”

    I’ve just checked back through your previous posts, in none of them have you made that point. Again you are playing games, which is not appreciated.

    Are you a Trump voter? If not, perhaps you should acknowledge that your worldview and theirs are not necessarily congruent.

    Not everybody is American. Not everybody’s politics is easily divisible into the equivalents of “Republican” and “Democrat”.

  73. zebra says:

    Dikran,

    Our comments seem to be crossing. It is also the case that you are using terms like rhetoric and evasion with some degree of reflexive hostility, for no reason I can see. Take a breath.

    “Who is the audience?” applies to ATTP, and the other scientists who are being “helped to communicate” by the Harvey paper. You can’t “communicate” without characterizing your audience.

    Who is the audience when you point out the flaws in the quote you gave from Crockford? Me? I certainly don’t need convincing.

  74. zeba “Take a breath.”

    more games. Go wind up someone else.

  75. As I pointed out earlier, I am not an expert on the carbon cycle, and I don’t think anyone has ever introduced me as such when discussing my paper. For instance my bio on the Denial 101 MOOC says:

    Gavin Cawley is a computer scientist, with a background in electronic engineering, and research interests in machine learning. He has worked on a number of research projects with the School of Environmental Sciences and the Climatic Research Unit at UEA, during which he developed an interest in predictive uncertainty in statistical modelling. In 2011, he published a paper in the journal Energy and Fuels addressing the misunderstandings of the carbon cycle covered in his lecture. For Denial101x, Gavin will discuss some common misunderstandings of the global carbon cycle that persist in the public debate on climate change, even though there are multiple lines of evidence that very strongly support the mainstream scientific position.

    None of which is claiming more expertise on the subject matter than I actually have. If I noticed someone calling me an expert on the carbon cycle, I would hope that I would quickly correct them. That just seems to me to be standard operating practice for scientists (I don’t think I am the only one), and sort of illustrates the point.

  76. Zebra,
    I have a rather simplistic view of this. I don’t see Harvey et al.as helping me to communicate. I simply see it as highighting something that is essentially true. That’s about all.

  77. It looks like WUWT have picked up on the story SM mentioned earlier.

    I’ve only skimmed the paper, but I if I were a climate skeptic, I don’t think I’d be drawing attention to it, I’d be worrying about my attitude to science.

  78. Dikran,
    Not only that, but it’s suggesting that Republicans are more persuasive with Republicans than scientists.

  79. zebra says:

    ATTP,

    “highlighting something that is essentially true”

    Sure. But that only has value to a minority of the population. So, apparently, the answer to my question about the audience is: “the choir”?

  80. BTW, FWIW the GWPF quote is from one of their “Notes” “TEN GOOD REASONS NOT TO WORRY ABOUT POLAR BEARS”. It appears on page 1:

    Dr Susan Crockford
    Dr Susan Crockford is an evolutionary biologist and an expert on polar bear evolution. She has been working for 35 years in archaeozoology, paleozoology and forensic zoology and is an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She is the author of Rhythms of Life: Thyroid Hormone and the Origin of Species.

    I suspect that Dr Crockford wrote that, but GWPF documents include the text “Views expressed in the publications of the Global Warming Policy Foundation are those of the authors, not those of the GWPF, its Trustees, its Academic Advisory Council members or its Directors.”, which I think is decidedly shabby as it seems clear that they want the reader to believe it (do they release any notes that do not support their political/economic position?) but don’t want to have to defend it, despite having an academic advisory board.

    Of course Harvey et al. would be better for giving the source of the quote, but I don’t think it is too big a deal, it wasn’t hard to find, and the HI quote only a little more so.

  81. Zebra,

    So, apparently, the answer to my question about the audience is: “the choir”?

    Possibly, but then I don’t claim about special communication expertise. I just write stuff on a blog.

  82. ATTP no groupthink or echo-chambers here, no sir! ;o)

  83. ATTP, I don’t think it is as simple as there being a choir and those heckling the choir, the audience also includes those who have not made up their minds and are sitting there listening, or in this case those who may have made up their minds but are not as familiar with the nature of the public debate on climate as those who are already actively engaged in it. It isn’t difficult to think of scientists whose initial forays were perhaps ostensibly a little naive, but well-intentioned. Harvey et al. seems to be aimed more at them than us.

  84. angech says:

    “I don’t see Harvey et al.as helping me to communicate. I simply see it as highlighting something that is essentially true.”
    It certainly does that.

  85. Willard says:

    > But that only has value to a minority of the population. So, apparently, the answer to my question about the audience is: “the choir”?

    So a minority of the population is now “the choir.” That’s just great.

    ***

    > It is also the case that you are using terms like rhetoric and evasion with some degree of reflexive hostility, for no reason I can see.

    You really don’t see that you’re concern trolling, zebra?

    You must be new to commenting. Say what you think. Don’t ask otters to speak for you. One does not simply “make a point” by asking a rhetorical question and expect to be well received in Mordor.

    Thinking about one’s audience starts home.

  86. izen says:

    Some people are born experts
    Some achieve expertise,
    other have it thrust upon them….

  87. … sometimes by themselves (but then it tends to fall off again)

  88. “One does not simply “make a point” by asking a rhetorical question and expect to be well received in Mordor.”

    I’m not being *that* grumpy today, .. am I? ;o)

  89. jeangoodwin says:

    Thanks for this reasonable overview of the discussion. I’d like to lodge an objection to this one bit, though:

    “If one continually criticises attempts to address misinformation because of the tone of the presentation, then it will be hard not to interpret this as defending misinformation. Even if that isn’t the intent, it will probably still be used to some to suggest that it is.”

    As someone who could be seen as “continually criticizing attempts to address misinformation” (especially if the work I’ve done on appropriate strategies is ignored), I don’t really care if “some” foolish people suggest that I’m “defending misinformation.” However, I would care if you suggested that, or colleagues generally.

    There are other ways to interpret “continual criticism,” right? E.g., a person might be interested in seeing policy action, and think that continual poor communication choices over the past twenty years have contributed (a tiny bit) to the current unfortunate communication environment.

    As far as I can see, the only way someone could infer “defense of misinformation” from “criticism of attempts to address misinformation” were if they believed that there were only two groups of people in the world, and that criticizing group 1 on any basis places the criticizer in group 2. I’m hoping that the academy (or the Republic of Letters, or however you’d like to see the larger enterprise we both participate in) is not yet to that extreme point of Manichean political polarization.

  90. Willard says:

    Ok. Seems that I missed more comments than I thought. Two things.

    First, questioning SusanC’s authority can very indeed be taken as an ad hominem argument. And of course it’s important to be accurate when making things personal, if only because one could risk getting sued. To me it’s a matter of basic decorum.

    The reverse of appealing to authority (e.g. “I’m not a climate scientist”) is therefore ad hominem too. Sometimes it works as an appeal to common sense. Sometimes it works otherwise. Mileage varies.

    Second, making a claim requires work. It needs to be backed up by the person who makes it. In the expression “burden of proof,” to me the operative word is burden, not proof. There are two ways to reverse that burden that is relevant to this thread: suggesting some seeming and asking leading questions. One is more evasive than the other. Both are annoying because they make otters work for you.

    Suppose one wants to claim that H17 is preaching to the choir. How can it be established? We already know that contrarians are tough nuts to crack. Beliefs are social entities – they are calibrated according to our peers, our folks, our area of responsibility, etc. No one is an island, nor should one be. Hence why the “but tribalism” is so underwhelming to me.

    Now, this claim also begs two dubious ideas.

    There is the idea of a “choir,” which makes little sense for a paper published in the lichurchur and for such a complex topic as AGW. It takes a few days of reading this blog to see that everyone disagrees with one an otter all the time. (Witness the first point about ad hominem arguments.) I’m not even sure me and AT agree on the main point of H17. To me, it’s about following citations, which is a very specific way to pay due diligence to truth.

    There is also the idea that unless a paper can help convince contrarians, it preaches to the choir. I don’t buy that inference. It presumes that the first obligation of researchers is to address contrarians directly. (Even if the paper aimed to speak at contrarians directly, we know that Republicans would be better at convincing contrarians than scientists.) There’s no need to wonder about the specific audience of H17 to see that the whole “what’s your audience” line of questioning is misplaced. Take this recent video:

    By zebra’s logic, this proof of concept would only preach to the choir because it won’t convince those who’d be interested in using AI to put words into people’s mouth.

  91. Jean,
    Thanks for the comment.

    I understand your objection, but I still think what I said has some merit. If what we choose to say publicly, and how we choose to say it, can influence people’s acceptance of something, then this should – in my view, at least – apply to anyone who engages publicly, including those who choose to critique how communication attempts are framed. I don’t think that those who choose to comment on science communication get to place themselves outside the public sphere.

    I don’t really care if “some” foolish people suggest that I’m “defending misinformation.”

    Except, these *foolish* people may well be the very people who are susceptible to the misinformation and who would be the ones who are impacted by the potential backfire. If you don’t care about how what you might say is interpreted by some, then why should those doing science communication care? I do have some sympathy with this view because I do sometimes think that we shouldn’t worry too much about how fringe elements might misinterpret what we say. The problem, though, is that if you follow this argument, then you could argue the same for Harvey et al.

    However, I would care if you suggested that, or colleagues generally.

    Absolutely, I would too. There is more that could be said here, but I’ll maybe come back to it later.

    The key point I’m getting at though, is that if one should think the impact of what one says publicly, then this should apply to all who communicate publicly. I don’t think that people with expertise in communication get a free pass to ignore how their critiques might influence the acceptance, or not, of what was being communicated.

    Anyway, I’m off to a show this evening so will be out for a while, but will happily discuss this further.

  92. Willard says:

    I forgot to add that there are levels of authority, i.e.:

    H17’s problems may be related to the fact that their lead authors reached Comic Sans level.

  93. “Except, these *foolish* people may well be the very people who are susceptible to the misinformation and who would be the ones who are impacted by the potential backfire. ”

    It seems to me that confirmation bias (to which we are all susceptible to some extent) mean this is quite likely to happen, if only from the “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” angle?

    For those who have seen the film idiocracy, someone needs to tell the president that plants prefer water to Brawndo (“The Thirst Mutilator”). Misinformation does need to be addressed. I personally have no problem in complaints about the tone of the discussion, provided it is also accompanied by agreement that the misinformation is misinformation.

  94. izen says:

    @-jeangoodwin
    “E.g., a person might be interested in seeing policy action, and think that continual poor communication choices over the past twenty years have contributed (a tiny bit) to the current unfortunate communication environment.”

    A random spread of good and poor communication choices over the past decades would be expected from the vagaries of individual human disposition.
    A continual pattern of poor choices indicates a systemic, or situational constraint on the opportunity to make good choices. Are people making the same poor choices, or have new errors emerged as the communication environment has changed?

    It may be that ‘the unfortunate communication environment’ over the past twenty years is the cause of the poor choices.
    [Thirty] years ago the communication environment was apparently rather different.
    https://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/107817

  95. Jean,

    E.g., a person might be interested in seeing policy action, and think that continual poor communication choices over the past twenty years have contributed (a tiny bit) to the current unfortunate communication environment.

    Do you have any evidence that some “better” communication choices would have contributed to policy action? Also, can you define what this means?

    I’ll provide some context. I often see people comment on effective communication, but less often do I see people define what they mean. For example, what would define effective communication? If it is communication strategy that leads (quite directly) to some kind of policy, is this reasonable? Should scientists really be thinking about how to influence policy, rather than simply thinking about how to provide information? My own view is that, formally, the latter is the main role.

  96. For me, while I think we do need to do something about climate change, the thing that is really important is that the political decisions that are taken are not based on misinformation. The main problem is that misinformation about science is being used to avoid talking about the real reasons why people disagree with climate change, which are political/social/economic, etc. I don’t see how you can deal with this without correcting the misinformation, even if that isn’t the only thing we do. If this were Vulcan, we would have stopped talking about the science long ago (at least in the public debate) and got on with doing something (having said which, if we were Vulcanian, we would probably find the Earth a bit damp and chilly, so perhaps not ;o).

  97. Thinking a bit more about “effective communication”, the world’s governments appear to have accepted both the reality of climate change, and have agreed to do something (Paris, for example). The problem is that little is actually happening. One might, however, argue that science communicators have done their job remarkably well. It’s now the job of others to communicate about possible ways in which to move policy forward. This isn’t really the remit of physical scientists.

  98. Lesson in effective communication?

  99. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Re your 8:05: indeed. It does seem that there’s a rather problematic formula in play:

    “skeptics” exist = there must be a problem with how scientists are communicating = let’s reverse engineer from how they communicate to figure out what that problem is.

    The weakmess with that is, IMO, that it effectively ignores the many possible causal explanations for the existence of “slepticism.”

  100. zebra says:

    ATTP,

    You are (almost) answering your own question. How do you know that you have communicated “effectively? By observing some effect, just like in the physical sciences.

    However, as in the physical sciences, there are confounding factors and measurement issues which reduce our certainty of the outcome. But then, at the same time, there are also fundamental principles and best practices, which bolster our confidence.

    At this point, I don’t see how you can take a position “above the fray” and say that you have “communicated effectively”. Governments (which you now seem to claim as your audience) “appear” to do a lot of things. How do you say that scientists have “done their job” communicating the urgency of the problem, at the same time you say “little is actually happening”?

  101. Joshua says:

    That isn’t to say, however, that scientists shouldn’t look at the evidence that exists regarding effective communication.

  102. Joshua says:

    zebra –

    At this point, I don’t see how you can take a position “above the fray” and say that you have “communicated effectively”.

    Considering Anders’ content above, how to you take a position that scientists haven’t communicated effectively? Where is your scientific evidence for a causal mechanism to explain the state of public opinion – which implicates how scientists communicate and which controls for confounds?

  103. zebra says:

    Joshua,

    “skeptics exist”

    We’re back to the problem of the audience.

    If by “skeptics”, you mean Trump voters– more generally, the Authoritarian Right in the USA and other countries– then you are ignoring science, because science tells us that they are not affected by the communication of rational information.

    If by skeptics you mean people commenting in the blogosphere, who fit the t-word, either as individuals or State/Corporate actors, well… you know the answer.

    So, who is the audience, and what is the test you apply to see if you have communicated effectively?

  104. Willard says:

    Some evidence:

  105. Joshua says:

    zebra –

    then you are ignoring science, because science tells us that they are not affected by the communication of rational information.

    ?

    I’m suggesting that the science (that I’ve seen) suggests a related phenomenon: The manner in which scientists communicate doesn’t explain their existence.

    That said, you are being tribal, IMO, when you isolate “skeptics” when you discuss responses to communication to rational information. “skeptics” aren’t likely unique in that regard, IMO.

  106. Communication is a co-operative exercise, transmitting effectively doesn’t mean that the message will be received efficiently, especially if the receiver is deliberately jamming the signal. The problem isn’t all with the transmitter. You can’t measure the effectiveness of the transmitter by looking at the effect on the receiver as that is measuring both the transmitter and receiver.

  107. zebra,

    At this point, I don’t see how you can take a position “above the fray” and say that you have “communicated effectively”.

    I certainly wasn’t implying that I had. I have no idea if I have, I just write a blog and tweet.

    Governments (which you now seem to claim as your audience) “appear” to do a lot of things. How do you say that scientists have “done their job” communicating the urgency of the problem, at the same time you say “little is actually happening”?

    All I’m suggesting is that it would appear that scientists have managed to get a broad acceptance that climate change presents risks that should be addressed. It’s not their job to provide information as to how to do so, etc. That governments have agreed to do something, but haven’t actually done anything, isn’t – in my view – an indicator that science communication has been ineffective.

  108. Willard says:

    > science tells us that they [the Authoritarian Right] are not affected by the communication of rational information.

    Unless one would expect or even require climate scientists to start communicating using non-rational information, this test carries no weight.

    Not all authoritarians (assuming this is the defining characteristic of Republicans, which I doubt) are equal:

    https://www.vox.com/2015/12/16/10246986/republican-donors-climate

    Money is to politics what citations are to science.

  109. Joshua says:

    I’d David Hogg communicated better, Alex Jones and Laura Ingraham either wouldn’t exist, or would want to ban all guns.

  110. zebra says:

    ATTP,

    By “you” I meant your evaluation of the effectiveness of the consensus community on climate.

    Well, still unanswered is what your criterion is for successful communication, other than governments appearing to “agree to do something.” There’s that old saying from the Soviet Union days, which I understand still applies in Russia, and applies here– “they pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work”.

    The question of what changes are necessary is already pretty well answered; of course that’s not the professional business of climate scientists.

  111. zebra says:

    Joshua 10:39,

    I’m not getting what skeptics you are referring to there. Can you elaborate?

  112. “Governments (which you now seem to claim as your audience) “appear” to do a lot of things. How do you say that scientists have “done their job” communicating the urgency of the problem, at the same time you say “little is actually happening”?”

    Because whether governments take action on climate change is not solely predicated on their perception of the scientific urgency, but on whether the required policies will be popular with the electorate. It isn’t simply an issue of science, but also political/social/economic considerations. It also isn’t as simple as skeptics-v-mainstream, is suspect that the issue is not a priority for the majority of the electorate, they are the most important audience for communication.

  113. Dave_Geologist says:

    “No, it’s that the skeptics like her contrarian take on polar bear ecology and AGW and put her forward as an expert on same.“

    Thanks dm, izen, you are correct. Poor wording on my part. For clarity, the expertise claim (by “skeptic” blogs and thinktanks) refers to polar bears, not AGW. The AGW views I’ve seen directly attributed to her are of the it’s-doing-no-harm-to-Arctic-animals variety rather than the AGW-isn’t-happening variety. Of course her thinktank and blog promoters will happily use “it’s real, but nothing to worry about” and “it’s not real, Chinese hoax, whatever” without addressing the contradiction. And trumpet the former as evidence that AGW is not real (which it isn’t, even if true, because thermometers).

    Having said that, she presumably has some editorial control over her GWPF briefing papers. It would provide helpful clarification if she opened a piece about walrus or polar bear behaviour by saying AGW is real and disproportionately affecting the Arctic, but large mammals are not (yet) suffering from it. If I accepted the physics of mainstream climate science, but thought adverse impacts were exaggerated, I’d want to make that distinction clear. Especially if people were using my posts/briefings to to deny that AGW is happening at all. The GWPF would presumably still publish her briefings. After all, they have other advisers who explicitly take the “it’s real, but the impact is overstated” line.

    Last Crockford from me!

  114. Dave_Geologist says:

    ATTP: changing fields

    Simply being controversial isn’t really enough.

    Too true. Early in my career I took a detour into computer graphics. I saw that CG could bring new insights to some of my previous work on finite strain analysis and presented a conference paper. I gave it a provocative title which contained an implict contradiction, but explained in the abstract it was apparent rather than real. I got three questions at the end, from people who obviously hadn’t listened to the talk or even read the abstract. Presumably they’d been so incensed by the title that they came with prepared questions and jumped in before anyone else could formulate theirs.

    I did get some useful one-to-one discussion afterwards and made a start on writing a paper. But then as I read around the field I realised that I’d hit the zeitgeist, but too late. There were already two or three papers published or in press, and as mine was conceptual rather than an application of the technique, I had nothing new to say.

    Lessons learned: (1) don’t be a smartass, it can backfire; (2) even if you’ve only been out of a field for a few years, put in the work to get back up to speed before deciding whether you have something new to contribute. All the more so if you’re new to a field.

  115. Joshua says:

    zebra –

    The definition you were referring to in the excerpt I posted.

    Please answer my question to you, above.

  116. Dave_Geologist says:

    dm re GWPF

    it seems clear that they want the reader to believe it (do they release any notes that do not support their political/economic position?) but don’t want to have to defend it

    No surprise there. They’re experts at having their cake and eating it. Climate change ‘sceptics’ breached charity rules. When they were told their political activities broke charity rules, they hived them off into a Forum, which by coincidence has the same acronym. GWPF political lobbying? – no, no, that’s not the Foundation, it’s the Forum. GWPF tax deductibles challenged? – no, no, that’s not the Forum, it’s the Foundation.

  117. izen says:

    @-zebra
    “Well, still unanswered is what your criterion is for successful communication, other than governments appearing to “agree to do something.””

    I think that IS a good critterion for succesful communication with governments. Getting beyond policy agreement to actual policy enactment in politics usually takes a LOT of money. If it did not, big Pharma and the Energy businesses and others would not spend $3.3 billion last year in the US alone.
    https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/
    See Willards graphic above about how in the US Republican party, policy follows the money.

  118. Zebra,

    Well, still unanswered is what your criterion is for successful communication, other than governments appearing to “agree to do something.”

    That was sort of the question I was asking. When people critique science communication and suggest that it is ineffective, what do they mean? What they define as effective communication and why? All I was pointing out is that it’s quite remarkable that we have got such global agreement, even if that agreement hasn’t really lead to major concrete policy actions.

  119. Dave_Geologist says:

    dikran: “Lesson in effective communication?”

    In miscommunication, probably. AFAIK, the RSPCA doesn’t have a position on beavers. All I could find on Google was a couple of cases of them rescuing lost or injured animals. FoE, OTOH, is pro beaver reintroduction. They don’t just hug trees. Still, Viz is a comic so no requirement to tell the truth 🙂

    The exact origin of the Devon beavers is unknown, but they are thought to have escaped from local breeding centres and met up in the wild.

    Cool. Beaver Blind Date!

    I felt compelled to look for the “local breeding centre”, hoping I wouldn’t find they were being farmed for their fur. Although at least then I could whistle “The Great Escape”.

    It’s a captive breeding colony. Since 2011, Devon Wildlife Trust has been running a beaver project on a securely-fenced, private site in western Devon. Oops, as they say in the movie business, “never work with small children or animals”. Hmmm, fences, burrowing rodents, what could possibly go wrong?

  120. I’m reminded of the quote from Deming “It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – a costly myth.”. We don’t need a measure of effectiveness of communications to think about whether the way we communicate is appropriate, we also have common sense.

  121. zebra says:

    Joshua,

    If I am understanding the overlapping comments correctly, your question is the same as my question.

    From my comment to ATTP: “How do you know that you have communicated “effectively? By observing some effect, just like in the physical sciences”

    The question is: What is the effect you are measuring?

    In order to answer that, you have to first identify the audience: Trump voters? Blog commenters? Governments? and any other identifiable class.(I’ve asked for that previously.)

    So far, AT says that Paris is an indicator of successful communication by scientists– and I would say that this is too imprecise a metric. Of course some people in some governments take climate change seriously, whether because they trust the scientists or because they have enough understanding to evaluate the information presented themselves. But, clearly some don’t (e.g. Trump), and probably some don’t but are pretending to go along for other reasons.

    So, what is your metric?

  122. Zebra,

    So far, AT says that Paris is an indicator of successful communication by scientists– and I would say that this is too imprecise a metric.

    I’m not necessarily saying that it is an indicator of successful communication. I’m mainly asking what more would be expected by those who think science communication has been ineffective?

  123. Willard says:

  124. D_G Viz is at least a more reliable source of scientific information than the GWPF ;o)

  125. TonyLurker says:

    while I’m somewhat sympathetic to what the attempts by those pushing for better communications strategies, I’m often put off by their own poor communication strategies when talking to scientists. Complaining that the scientists are ignoring you and that things would be better if they only had started listening to you years ago is a poor communication strategy. I don’t understand why I keep seeing it used by those trying to convince scientists to improve their communication strategies when engaging the public.

  126. zebra says:

    ATTP,

    If there were any indication that mitigating climate change is a major concern of the public– and that means voting as well as polling– I would say that scientists had successfully educated the public. Is educating the public the proper role for researchers? You have to decide.

    Note: I am talking about intensity here; I don’t mean changing tribal identity, which I have pointed out is highly unlikely.

    With respect to governments, I have also pointed out in the past that some will oppose and delay and sabotage action, whatever they may say in Paris. This is not the responsibility of scientists, obviously– Exxon’s scientists communicated clearly, and we know the results.

  127. “You have to decide.” Why does AT need to decide? He is not the one telling people how to communicate more effectively.

    BTW if you are an academic, rather than just a researcher, then educating the public is probably pretty much what you do for a living. It is a large part of what universities do.

  128. TonyLurker,
    Yes, that’s – in some cases – been one of my issues too. If someone like myself (a scientist who communicates publicly) is the target of those who have expertise in communication, then I would expect them to somehow demonstrate that by communicating in a way that is effective. A particular bugbear of mine is people who claim that the deficit model has failed and try to convince others of this by claiming that there is all sorts of evidence to support this. Well, if facts aren’t enough (the deficit model has failed) then why are their facts somehow meant to be convincing?

  129. zebra says:

    ATTP,

    “if facts aren’t enough…”

    Because they are addressing scientists, but scientists are addressing the public, so the two situations are completely different.

    Am I missing something?

  130. Zebra,
    Well, yes, but scientists are people too. Bear in mind that accepting a fact doesn’t mean acting in the way that the person who presents the facts thinks you should. If there are reasons why one might need to communicate in a way that doesn’t simply try to fill some kind of knowledge deficit, I don’t see why this shouldn’t also apply to those trying to communicate with scientists about effective communication strategies.

  131. Willard says:

    > Am I missing something?

    Yes. There are a few things to consider:

    1. When a scientist talks to another scientist on a public forum, the audience is not the other scientist, but the public.

    2. The deficit modulz is usually not restricted to a non-scientific population.

    3. The death of truthtelling as a mean to convince people may have been exagerrated:

    4. The whole debate around the (strawmannish) deficit modulz smacks of illiberal status competition.

  132. zebra says

    With respect to governments, I have also pointed out in the past that some will oppose and delay and sabotage action, whatever they may say in Paris. This is not the responsibility of scientists, obviously– Exxon’s scientists communicated clearly, and we know the results.

    However zebra earlier said

    At this point, I don’t see how you can take a position “above the fray” and say that you have “communicated effectively”. Governments (which you now seem to claim as your audience) “appear” to do a lot of things. How do you say that scientists have “done their job” communicating the urgency of the problem, at the same time you say “little is actually happening”?

    Seems somewhat inconsistent. We can say “little is actually happened” because scientists have been effective in communicating the urgency, but those who oppose and delay and sabotage action have, err… opposed, delayed and sabotaged action.

  133. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    I find it interesting that we rarely seem to discuss the role of journalism / journalists in public education regarding climate change.

    While I agree with dikranmarsupial when he says:

    if you are an academic, rather than just a researcher, then educating the public is probably pretty much what you do for a living. It is a large part of what universities do.

    it’s also the case that most people are not academics, and that most of the people who attend universities do not do so to study science.

    Most people go to news media to get what they believe is non-fictional information. And, increasingly, that’s become a problem.

    Modern journalism is a highly competitive, profit-making enterprise.
    Media corporations have a legally-binding fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder value.
    There is no similarly binding duty to communicate the truth.
    The metric against which news items are measured is profitability, not accuracy.

    That, when combined with the fact that most science reporting is done by journalists with little or no science background, means that reporting the truth has become an increasingly occasional by-product of the business model.

    Witness the rise of “churnalism”.
    https://www.theguardian.com/science/the-lay-scientist/2010/sep/24/1

    In my own country, even the usually-sane national public broadcaster, CBC seems to promote ye olde false-balance narrative where climate science is concerned…

    CBC News ran this story last fall:

    More than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries issue ‘warning to humanity’
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/15000-scientists-warning-to-humanity-1.4395767

    Three days later, CBC News editors felt obliged to run this:

    Scientists accused of scaremongering, ‘overheated claims’ with warning to humanity
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/warning-to-humanity-scientists-scaremongering-1.4403246

    ATTP’s regular readers will recognize the authors of that second piece.
    Here we see a juxtaposing of two (2) dissenting scientists, sourced from the same Institute, against the voices of more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries, And it’s worth noting that the dissenting voices do not even attempt to critique the science behind the report they dismiss – but are content to speak of the warning document signed by thousands of scientists as “scaremongering”, “overheated claims” and a “crisis narrative”.

    Thanks, at least in part, to the editors at news corporations, 47 percent of Canadians “think the science of global warming is unclear” and 31 percent “don’t understand, believe in, or trust science reported in the news.” (Leger poll of 1,514 Canadians, Sept. 2017)

    Is it any wonder that vaccines cause autism??

  134. zebra says:

    ATTP,

    Yes, that’s the point I’ve made repeatedly before.

    If scientists, who go through a long process designed to create respect for facts, objectivity, and so on, ignore evidence when presented to them, then what hope is there?

    As Rev H points out, few people are educated scientifically. Often, even if there is an un-biased and un-falsely-equivalent presentation, it is by a journalist, who is also not an educator, as well as not having a firm grasp of the subject matter.

    To be honest, I think many scientists just aren’t good educators for the population in general; they are too immersed in their subjects, and too used to conversing with their peers.

    So, the problem goes back to the point you haven’t answered: Are scientists educators, and should they be, in your view? That might mean they need to be educated about education, though.

  135. Joshua says:

    zebra –

    If I am understanding the overlapping comments correctly, your question is the same as my question.

    I don’t think so. My point is that, it seems to me, people are making determinations about scientists’ communication on climate change w/o taking the time to check the validity of their evidence (i.e., that it measures what they say it’s measuring) they’re using to make that determination.

    I think it kind of goes like this:

    1) We can tell that scientists’ communication isn’t effective because “skeptics”: (a) criticize their efforts, (b) say that they feel attacked by it, (c)say that scientists’ communication is the reason for their “skepticism,” etc.

    Well, I think there are other reasons that better explain those phenomena (a, b, and c). Basically, I think that identity aggressive/protective reasoning explains all three of those phenomena rather well.

    2) We can tell that scientists’ communication isn’t effective because the deficit model doesn’t always convince everyone that we should do something about climate change.

    Well, I happen to think that it’s true that the deficit model doesn’t offer a particularly effective method for convincing the public about climate change, but the problem, as I see it, is that people reverse engineer from a, b, and c above as evidence of scientists ineffective communication. That doesn’t work for me. IMO, the problem there is that the determination of “ineffective” is meaningless w/o being placed in the context of what might be a relatively more effective model. Based on some absolute standard (i.e., “skeptics” complain, or the deficit model doesn’t convince everyone), any communication method might be judged as ineffective. Absent some model that would convince more people that ACO2 emissions should be mitigated, saying that scientists’ effort is ineffective seems rather meaningless, to me.

    The question is: What is the effect you are measuring?

    Well, Anders offers one measure. I think that we could be reasonably assured that there would be no thing such as the Paris Accords if scientists weren’t communicating about the effects of ACO2 emissions. Can we assume from the Paris Accords that their efforts are optimally effective? No. But neither can we point to the fact that we haven’t yet stopped using fossil fuels as evidence that their efforts are ineffective.

    In order to answer that, you have to first identify the audience: Trump voters? Blog commenters? Governments? and any other identifiable class.(I’ve asked for that previously.)

    I agree. Defining the audience is a key prerequisite of assessing the effectiveness of scientists’ communication efforts. In fact, a failure to do is, IMO, a problem with many of the criticisms that I’ve seen offered.

    So far, AT says that Paris is an indicator of successful communication by scientists– and I would say that this is too imprecise a metric.

    Well, it’s evidence. No single metric is perfect. And all metrics need to be views in context, with consideration of the audience and consideration of the relationship between absolute measures and relative measures.

    So, what is your metric?

    I can’t answer that question unless you’re more specific as to (1) audience and (2) specific communicative effort and, (3) which other efforts you’re using as a comparison.

  136. “it’s also the case that most people are not academics, and that most of the people who attend universities do not do so to study science.”

    They do educate the public about other things as well science though. Mary Beard, Janina Ramirez, Helen Castor, Bettany Hughes and Simon Schama are all academics and communicate history to the public very well, but I don’t think they are communicating it at an academic level. Likewise most science documentaries are generally only presenting the science at a very basic level. Unfortunately if you want to decide whether the science is correct, you can’t do that based on the sort of surface understanding you get from a TV documentary. I don’t think it is fair to criticize climate scientists for their public communication of science when they have to go into a far deeper level than you normally find in “public understanding of science” activities.

  137. zebra says:

    Joshua,

    Your (1) is covered by my earlier reply to AT:

    If there were any indication that mitigating climate change is a major concern of the public– and that means voting as well as polling– I would say that scientists had successfully educated the public. …

    Note: I am talking about intensity here; I don’t mean changing tribal identity, which I have pointed out is highly unlikely.

    (In case it isn’t clear, the target audience is “non-Trump voters”, or internationally, the “not-Authoritarian Right.”)

    I don’t see any need for 2 and 3 at all. I just told you my metric (level of concern) without saying anything about methods or alternative methods. Why would they be relevant to yours?

  138. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    dikranmarsupial says:

    I don’t think it is fair to criticize climate scientists for their public communication of science when they have to go into a far deeper level than you normally find in “public understanding of science” activities.

    Agreed.
    In addition to that, I’m sure that a great many climate scientists would be very bad at public-level communication of their work. Not everyone is a Katherine Hayhoe (who, perhaps not coincidentally, is a political scientist as well as an atmospheric scientist.)

    That’s why good science-journalists (and truth-motivated editors) are worth their weights in gold.

  139. TVRJH: “That’s why good science-journalists (and truth-motivated editors) are worth their weights in gold.”

    and apparently almost as rare as hen’s teeth! 😦

  140. zebra,

    If scientists, who go through a long process designed to create respect for facts, objectivity, and so on, ignore evidence when presented to them, then what hope is there?

    I’m not suggesting that they’re neessarily ignoring evidence. Accepting some evidence doesn’t immediately tell someone what they should do. I sometimes get the sense that what those with expertise in communication think motivates science communicators isn’t what actually motivates them. Similarly, what the evidence suggests should be done, may not really be possible for someone who is simply committing a small amount of their time to science communication.

  141. zebra says:

    ATTP,

    If someone is not motivated to spend a lot of time on educating the public, or on becoming more adept at educating the public, that’s fine with me. You seem to finally be answering my question about scientists being educators of the public, in the negative, albeit indirectly and somewhat equivocally.

    It doesn’t make someone a bad person, and, as I said, and Rev H said, there’s no reason to expect the majority of scientists to be effective at it.

    So, wearing the shoes of the concerned citizen rather than the research scientist, what is to be done? How can scientists help those who would do the actual educating?

  142. Zebra,
    Tell you what. Why don’t you back and read the comments again, and think about them a little. I’m not saying what you seem to think I’m saying, but I’m not that interested in trying to explain this all again.

  143. Willard says:

    > You seem to finally be answering my question about scientists being educators of the public, in the negative, albeit indirectly and somewhat equivocally.

    I love you, zebra.

    Pray tell more about “being an educator of the public,” which in your socratic monologue is the secret ingredient that replaces the usual ClimateBall concern about scientific communication.

  144. izen says:

    @-zebra
    “How can scientists help those who would do the actual educating?”

    They can’t, or at least, very little.
    The science has been established since at least 1989. Since then all that has been added is a little more detail and a sign that several factors were underestimated (sea ice loss and level rise) or far more unpredictable than realised, (local extreme weather events).

    Given the unfortunate communications environment, what is required is a balancing of the funding and resources that are devoted to educating people in the known science compared to the promotion of misinformation. More science is low on the list of factors that would alter the effectiveness of public communication.

    A unanimity from the leading opinion formers (politicians, news media) that matched the consensus of the scientific community would be nice as well.
    Can you imagine a Right-wing leader of the G7(+n) making the sort of speech now, that I linked above from 1989?

  145. angech says:

    147 comments on S Crockford and the truth, much more than I had hoped for but not as much as Bart had on his post [comments closed].
    Any chance of Bart making a comment here?

  146. Bart is, of course, welcome to. However, he may have had enough of discussing this topic.

  147. zebra says:

    izen,

    more science is low on the list” (my bold)

    Agreed– there has been enough science for quite a while, as you say.

    I would say that the opinion-formers would be helped by having a well-constructed message that is tailored to the audience, which they would be consistent in delivering. This has certainly been lacking– not a condemnation of the scientific community, as I said above, but a reflection of the nature of the scientific project and its practitioners.

  148. Zebra,

    I would say that the opinion-formers would be helped by having a well-constructed message that is tailored to the audience, which they would be consistent in delivering.

    And my point is that this message should not necessarily be being delivered by scientists. So, what I see are a combination of scientists being criticised for not presenting an effective message, while at the same time criticising those who try, for stepping outside their area of expertise.

  149. zebra wrote “I would say that the opinion-formers would be helped by having a well-constructed message that is tailored to the audience, which they would be consistent in delivering. “

    What do you think the IPCC reports are for (especially the summaries for policy makers)?

    Its rather ironic that zebra wants consistency, when he continually shifts the goalposts ;o)

  150. zebra says:

    ATTP,

    There’s a difference between “criticizing scientists” and offering a critique of the situation, which is what I’m doing. Being a good scientist and being a good teacher are orthogonal. Izen mentions Thatcher, who was trained a scientist and also a successful politician, and then there’s Merkel, but these are rare birds indeed, even if they weren’t also women.

    What I’m not clear about is what you mean by “delivered by scientists”. Delivered to whom? Are you talking about scientists giving political speeches, or broadcast interviews to journalists, or making you-tube videos?

    And I don’t know which “expertise” you are talking about– expertise in climate science, or expertise in education? Everyone thinks that they are “experts” at educating people, and that is rarely correct.

    So, yes, if you want to achieve the goal of motivating people on climate change, it would be helpful if most people, whatever their scientific background, would just shut up. Not going to happen in the current environment, but if the politicians and journalists delivered a consistent, well-designed, message, as I said, that would be a positive.

  151. Zebra,
    I get the impression that either I’m not explaining myself very well, or you’re not willing to give what I’m saying any thought. Neither possibility indicates that there is any point in continuing this.

  152. zebra wrote “Being a good scientist and being a good teacher are orthogonal.” absolute rubbish when applied to teaching science. The ability to teach well requires depth of understanding, which is also a requirement for being a good scientist. The idea they are uncorrelated is just assertion without evidence. Citation required there, I think!

  153. zebra says:

    ATTP,

    I think that you are not explaining yourself very well. You have resisted elaborating on whatever you are trying to say in any detail, which may be because you are being defensive, but it may be because you are not clear yourself on the issue.

    If I hadn’t given what you said any thought, how would I come up with the questions you are unwilling to answer? It’s not a trap– I’m just trying to get some clarity and specificity.

    Why would you not explain what you mean by “message delivered by scientists” if you actually want me to understand, for example?

  154. “If I hadn’t given what you said any thought, how would I come up with the questions you are unwilling to answer? ”

    ATTP has answered your questions, they just weren’t the answers you wanted.

  155. I think the questions may have been based on a misapprehension of ATTP’s position, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that the answers to the question were not as simple as perhaps expected.

    “I think that you are not explaining yourself very well.” no, the problem can’t possibly be at my end, no sir! ;o)

  156. Zebra,

    I think that you are not explaining yourself very well.

    Possibly, but then you’re the one professing expertise in how to communicate effectively. How well do you think it is going?

  157. Willard says:

    > You have resisted elaborating on whatever you are trying to say in any detail

    I love this, zebra.

    You claim that scientists might need to be educated about education. That education you consider relevant should target the authoritarian right. Yet we have evidence that it’s not education that will convince them. In fact, the more educated they are, the less likely they are to believe in AGW. This effect varies according to the wedge issue:

    DanK’s research, of which I’m quite confident you’re aware of, obtains the same results.

    This contradicts your claim that right authoritarians, if again we accept the claim that it corresponds to Republicans, cannot be reasoned with. The alternative is that they can be reasoned with, but not in the direction you’d expect. We also have evidence that consensus messaging even works on Republicans. It’s not a great effect, but considering that confirmation bias increases with education and interest (see the party donations), there’s little more to wish for. See above.

    The idea that scientists would need to educate authoritarians is shaky at best. The claim that scientists should educate people on which rational information doesn’t work is self-defeating. Your own ClimateBall performance so far on this site leads me to conclude that resisting rational information is not the hallmark of authoritarians.

    ***

    Now, about that concept of authoriarian. You opposed it earlier to “not authoritarian.” That looks incomplete. What would be the positive descriptor of “authoritarian” you prefer? I know that there are many options on the table. I want to know which one you think fits best.

  158. zebra says:

    Willard,

    “The idea that scientists would need to educate authoritarians is shaky at best. The claim that scientists should educate people on which rational information doesn’t work is self-defeating.”

    That’s what I said– read my comments before reflexively being oppositional.

    Responding to Joshua: “(In case it isn’t clear, the target audience is “non-Trump voters”, or internationally, the “not-Authoritarian Right.”)”

    But you are probably incapable of admitting that you got it wrong.

  159. zebra wrote “That’s what I said– read my comments before reflexively being oppositional.”

    zebra wrote “But you are probably incapable of admitting that you got it wrong.”

    I’m glad the world is not going to run out of irony any time soon! ;o)

  160. Willard says:

    > That’s what I said

    I don’t think so, zebra, so a quote might be nice. Even if you did, how do you reconcile your suggestion that scientists need to be educated about education with the fact that education may not work on the audience of interest? This inconsistency obtains when switching from communication to education.

    I’m still interested on your favorite positive descriptor opposite to authoritarian.

  161. zebra says:

    ATTP,

    I avoid Nirvana thinking; I have never expected every student to respond to the process. So, I don’t think your non-response says much at all about the validity of what I am doing.

  162. How very rude (and arrogant)!

  163. zebra says:

    Willard,

    “so a quote might be nice”

    There is a quote right there!— are you having some kind of “episode” or what?

  164. Willard says:

    > I have never expected every student to respond to the process

    What process, zebra? Contrarians are nobody’s students. We’re not in your class room. You are not Socrates.

    So far, you evaded every single counter-argument, you declined every request to clarify your position, and you offered not one single piece of evidence.

    I am very interested on your favorite positive descriptor opposite to authoritarian. Third time now I ask you this.

    Your next response better meet that request.

  165. “There is a quote right there!— are you having some kind of “episode” or what?”

    is than an example of being reflexively oppositional? ;o)

  166. Willard says:

    > There is a quote right there!—

    Here it is:

    “(In case it isn’t clear, the target audience is “non-Trump voters”, or internationally, the “not-Authoritarian Right.”)”

    That does not correspond to this claim: the idea that scientists should educate people on which rational information doesn’t work is self-defeating.

    I know that you claim that rational information doesn’t work on authoritarians. I twice pointed out that this was false. You might not be working with a correct model of rationality.

    What I don’t know is why you suggest that scientists should educate themselves on education, when by your own logic education won’t work.

    What I do know is that you’re the one who’s introducing education.

    I do think that education can work on contrarians, including authoritarians. Just as I think that sooner or later you’ll learn proper ClimateBall manners. I rather like the learning by doing approach.

    More on that after you clarify what positive descriptor you oppose to authoritarians.

  167. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    We also have evidence that consensus messaging even works on Republicans.

    Which evidence are you referring to there?

    Anything specific not mentioned here?:

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2016/4/19/new-strongest-evidence-yet-on-consensus-messaging.html

    It’s not a great effect,

    From what I’ve seen, it isn’t so much that the effect ain’t so great as that the evidence of the effect ain’t so great.

    And from that link, have you seen this?:

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0151469

    A study that, because of my bias towards studies that collect longitudinal data, I think relatively valuable.

  168. Joshua says:

    From the article that spawned the graphic Willard posted above:

    About one in four Republicans with only a high school education said they worried about climate change a great deal. But among college-educated Republicans, that figure decreases, sharply, to 8 percent.

    This relationship persists even when pollsters pose different kinds of questions about climate change – when Republicans are asked if they believe global warming “will never happen,” if they think it poses “a serious threat to way of life in your lifetime” or if it is caused by “natural changes in the environment.”

    This may seem counterintuitive, because better-educated Republicans are more likely to be aware of the scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to climate change.

    Not sure if the part I bolded was based on evidence or just an assumption.

  169. Willard says:

    > Which evidence are you referring to there

    This one, which I cited earlier:

  170. Willard says:

    Joshua,

    The “likely” in better-educated Republicans are more likely to be aware of the scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to climate change indicates it may likely be an assumption. I find it reasonable. It fits my own ClimateBall experience when dealing with scientists, engineers, doctors, economists, etc. It’s only a subset, but it’s one that shows that contrarians can be rational. That more educated people can grow more confident in their own judgment is par for the human course. It’s not even incompatible with the DK effect if you interpret it as applying to what lies beyond your area of expertise.

    While I’m skeptical of education in general, I think that people learn to adapt and accomodate their viewpoints with their inner circle. It’s hard to change one’s mind, our kids’ mind, or one’s spouse’s mind. Nevertheless, something permeates from our interactions with one another. This thread should be enough to show that learning takes time.

    The most educated contrarians will change their minds by doing science themselves. Just like Richard Muller did:

    This may not be enough for those who have vested interest in what the ROP sells. OTOH, I think we should distinguish between investing in a party that sells authoritarism and being authoritarian. The populist playbook is after all only a playbook, and someone who recommends that scientists should shut up sounds no less authoritarian than a Donald supporter.

  171. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    That more educated people can grow more confident in their own judgment is par for the human course.

    This is one of the places where my opinion diverges from Dan’s. In my experience, less educated people are just as confident in their options as more educates people. Although, sometimes, it may vary by topic. For example, on average less educated people in the US might be more confident in their opinions about whether Brady or Manning or Elway is the GOAT than more educated people. I find no lack of confidence in the opinions of people like Sarah Palin or Joe the plumber.

    Dan thinks that more educated people (and what he considers to be “smarter” people) are more capable of rationalizing their views so as to confirm biases/conform to identity orientation. I’m dubious about that, also.

    And even if it were true, I suspect that we’d likely have to address that whole: differences between means of the two groups, respectively, is small in comparison to within group variation thingy.

  172. Willard says:

    > In my experience, less educated people are just as confident in their [opinions] as more [educated] people.

    The confidence level may be the same, but more educated people have the cognitive means to turn these opinions into justified beliefs. A big part of education is dedicated to developing some know-how about one’s belief formation. My point wasn’t about feeling confident about the content of one’s beliefs inasmuch as feeling attuned to one’s metacognitive powers.

    Take two extreme examples. Freeman Dyson is surely a good thinker. That he’s most probably wrong is not a matter of rationality or metacognition, but only related to the content of his beliefs. By contrast, Donald doesn’t look like a good thinker, and the confidence he displays about his beliefs are independent from the beliefs themselves. What teh Donald says matters less than the confidence he’s showboating. Neither are irrational, although in the latter case we may need a very minimal conception of rationality.

    I should check to see what would be the most appropriate terminology here. This kind of preoccupation is commonplace in the analysis of propositional attitudes such as beliefs.

  173. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    … but more educated people have the cognitive means to turn these opinions into justified beliefs.

    This seems to me like Dan’s argument. I’m dubious. And my skepticism is exacerbated when it is put forth by highly educated people.

    Less people, IMO, have no less of a sense of justification for their beliefs. One of their justifications is often that well-educated people lack common sense, for example. Perhaps, a parallel to more educated people thinking that less-educated people’s views are not as well justified because of their lack of education.

    As someone sympathetic to “multiple intelligences,” I’m skeptical of arguments based in metrics of “cognitive means.” I’m not sure we have the cognitice means to validly measure cognitive means.

  174. Joshua says:

    Less educated people, IMO, have no less..

    Btw, it seems to me that the “thingy” I mentioned above should have a “name” (like common fallacies have names). Do you know of one?

    [Fixed. -W]

  175. Joshua says:

    Dagnabbit.

    Meant to put an end italics after “educated” above.

    I think people who can’t use html tags effective are less able to justify their beliefs.

  176. zebra,

    I have never expected every student to respond to the process.

    Indeed, and the same could be said of science communication. So, why do you get to excuse your communication failure on your audience, while science communicators cannot? I’m also trying to understand in what way you’re demonstrating effective communication. As far as I can see, you’re not. If anything, you’re doing many things that I thought should be avoided. Being condescending, arrogant, rather unpleasant, insulting your audience, not really engaging with what they’re saying, etc. Maybe your intent wasn’t to be effective, or maybe it was to demonstrate what not to do?

  177. Joshua says:

    By contrast, Donald doesn’t look like a good thinker, and the confidence he displays about his beliefs are independent from the beliefs themselves. What teh Donald says matters less than the confidence he’s showboating.

    Does this contain an assumption that his showboating is not a product of his thinking (i. e., employing a strategy, e. g., that showboating is an effective means to achieve his goals)?

    What teh Donald says matters less than the confidence he’s showboating

    What if Donald were boasting that he’s the most crooked and divisive and morally bankrupt man to ever get elected president?

    (Actually, as I wrote that, I began to wonder whether that might not be an accurate description of his boasting.)

    At any rate, I’m not sure that Freeman’s (form of) boasting and confidence is any less a part of his effectiveness within the climateball arena. I think of his fans (RickA?) saying that they trust his expertise because of his claims that his expertise has more expertiness than other experts’ expertise.

  178. BBD says:

    But you are probably incapable of admitting that you got it wrong.

    Nope, that would be you imagining that you can dump MV onto a grid constructed of kV lines and it not melt.

    Remember that?

  179. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “Less (educated) people, IMO, have no less of a sense of justification for their beliefs.”

    The difference may not be in the intensity (sincerity?) of the belief, but in the supporting network of ideas that the better educated have acquired. As well as what Willard called ” feeling attuned to one’s metacognitive powers.”

    With education come capabilities to link more knowledge and the (meta)belief this increases the strength of your justifications. It is not that education teaches you how to justify beliefs you already have, but that it establishes a different criteria of justification for those that have more.

    @-“I’m skeptical of arguments based in metrics of “cognitive means.” I’m not sure we have the cognitice means to validly measure cognitive means.”

    How about a metric like the number/diversity of citations. Not a metric of cognition, but of the references a person uses to justify their belief. Dyson has confidence, as do others in his statements, because he can reference a vast body of established knowledge. Donald has confidence because he said it. Notice how rarely he refers to the ideas of others, or claims they were his. Like the RP’s the request for justification gets a limited(?!) response, or is – see our earlier work on this subject.

  180. izen says:

    @-zebra
    “I would say that the opinion-formers would be helped by having a well-constructed message that is tailored to the audience, which they would be consistent in delivering. This has certainly been lacking– not a condemnation of the scientific community…”

    It is not a condemnation of the scientific community (how could you think such a thing!) because it is wrong about science failing to deliver a well-constructed consistent message tailored to the audience.
    That is exactly what mainstream science HAS been providing since at least 1989.
    The only change in the message has been one of increasing certainty.

    It is opinion formers, media and political tribalism that have failed to remain consistent, the GOP used to acknowledge AGW and accept the need for a response…

    “Addressing Climate Change Responsibly
    The same human economic activity that has brought freedom and opportunity to billions has also increased the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. While the scope and long-term consequences of this are the subject of ongoing scientific research, common sense dictates that the United States should take measured and reasonable steps today to reduce any impact on the environment. Those steps, if consistent with our global competitiveness will also be good for our national security, our energy independence, and our economy. Any policies should be global in nature, based on sound science and technology, and should not harm the economy.

    The Solution: Technology and the Market
    As part of a global climate change strategy, Republicans support technology-driven, market-based solutions that will decrease emissions, reduce excess greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, increase energy efficiency, mitigate the impact of climate change where it occurs, and maximize any ancillary benefits climate change might offer for the economy.”

    That is the 2008 party platform of the GOP.

    @- “…but a reflection of the nature of the scientific project and its practitioners.”

    Projection, not reflection.
    (Although I think you may have reached full Willard so I have little expectation of a response)

  181. angech says:

    “In fact, the more educated they are, the less likely they are to believe in AGW.”
    ” And my skepticism is exacerbated when it is put forth by highly educated people.”
    “The confidence level may be the same, but more educated people have the cognitive means to turn these opinions into justified beliefs.”
    “I think people who can’t use html tags effectively are less able to justify their beliefs.”
    I think that using justified and belief together is not quite right.
    And like Joshua that educated cognition has nothing to do with the justification of the belief.
    Both highly educated people and deplorables can have beliefs as easily as each other.
    Since a belief does not have to have any proof associated with it there is no need for justification for the person holding that belief.
    Would shareable justified be a better terminology?

  182. Joshua says:

    izen –

    The difference may not be in the intensity (sincerity?) of the belief, but in the supporting network of ideas that the better educated have acquired. As well as what Willard called ” feeling attuned to one’s metacognitive powers.”

    Yes, Willard made a similar point. I won’t argue that point,but I’m not sure what it translates into. So what if someone has a larger? supporting network of ideas. What does that mean? That as an objective observer we might judge their ideas as being more well-founded?

    It goes back to what Willard said about “justified beliefs.”. How do beliefs become more or less justified. Who makes the assessment? Does am outside observer make the assessment on the basis of counting the supporting informational density or size?

    I’m a big believer in metacognitive as a feature of education. More metacognitive = better learner in my hook.

    But Willard also said this:

    That more educated people can grow more confident in their own judgment is par for the human course.

    Which I connect to Dan’s argument thst with more education comes more “polarization.”

    I think a whole lot of “skeptics” who don’t K ow a whole lot about climate change are quite polarized on the topic and quite confident in their beliefs on the topic.

  183. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “That as an objective observer we might judge their ideas as being more well-founded?”

    I doubt we are ever objective observers, that’s a paradigm that can only be approached asymptotically.
    Rather that education includes the teaching that a greater network of knowledge is of more value. If we share that social assumption, perhaps by also sharing that educational experience then we might also regard that network of knowledge as more well founded. Without any objective justification, although there may be arguments why that is of pragmatic value.

    @-“How do beliefs become more or less justified. Who makes the assessment?”

    Social convention ?
    The idea that having more knowledge is valuable has a long history, and some evidence of utility.
    The idea that expanding our knowledge base beyond the ‘Classical’ established corpus seems to have evolved during the enlightenment. It may be the defining characteristic.

    @-“Which I connect to Dan’s argument thst with more education comes more “polarization.”

    Perhaps polarization results in more education being used to seek stronger justification for existing credos. (Theology, apologetics, Gemarah, Sunnah ?) Or at least, a pattern of justification that is more valued by the more educated.

    @-“I think a whole lot of “skeptics” who don’t know a whole lot about climate change are quite polarized on the topic and quite confident in their beliefs on the topic. ”

    A confidence matched by “warmists” who are equally ignorant of the topic but have an (equal and?) opposite polarization.

    It is impossible to measure the confidence, sincerity or subjective strength of any belief, but it is possible to map the status, scale, and extent of the sources that are advanced to justify that POV. For some, Al Gore, or Christopher Monckton are all that is required for epistemic closure.

  184. izen says:

    @-W
    “More on that after you clarify what positive descriptor you oppose to authoritarians.”

    Egalitarian ?

  185. angech says:

    @-“How do beliefs become more or less justified. Who makes the assessment?”
    There is individual belief, the individual believes ; reasons may be given but are not required.
    justification is nice but not needed.
    There is group belief, which may or may not be motivated by reason but has a much higher chance of involving reason and hence perhaps justification.
    This is where trying to decide what is true [believable] and what is truth [justification?] come in.
    Group think can be a gestalt of like belief which again may not involve reason and hence not need justification. Or it can be a belief that is testable and tested [justified].
    What gets me is that nearly every one here has the brain power, education,ability and desire to discuss most issues in an agreeable way.
    Yet when we come to a true disagreement basic win at all costs thinking comes into play. Whether we support different football teams, religions or not, etc. If we are not open minded then to stay true to our own own beliefs we do not justify them [we know they are right!] we attack the people and position on the other side.
    Hence here the best paper, which I would have preferred to have seen, would have been Bart with the 2 experts presenting the actual polar bear facts, the actual ice facts, link in where they match and and where they think they are going. No need to mention SC.
    Helps to sometimes have a look from the other sides perspective.
    Unfortunately not a good survival trait I guess.

  186. Steven Mosher says:

    “Steven,
    Do you really think that the claim of expertise needs to be explicit? Surely quoting someone on a topic is sufficient to imply that they’re regarded as an expert?”

    huh, I thought one of the big footstomper observations of the paper was that the blogs were juicing up her resume and calling her an expert when she was not. I think it is actually in the coding
    protocol.

    Any way it seemed weird to me that the only real bits of evidence that people refered to her an a polar bear expert were two quotes with NO FRICKIN FOOTNOTE or citation number
    ( jeez gotta love the content analysis experts on this paper). PLowing through all the GWPF stuff
    I find in there most prominent publications– the press releases, they dont refer to her as a polar bear expert. In the published reports in the front matter ( ya know that part you skip) you will find that On occassion they refer to her an expert on polar evolution..

    Any way. I decided to get the data for the paper, and found that they dont provide a corpus.
    There are two piles of data they compare: science articles ( most written by one of the authors –perhaps a coder– ) and the second pile is articles from dozens of denier sites.

    But there is no record of Which posts on the denier sites they “read” and coded.

    So, How do I check their work? What did they DO. we know the coding categories but what was the protocol? Did they go to all these websites, download every article and have the coders read them and code them, and then pass to a second and third coder? Any way i started to dive in.
    I picked one of the websites they used from denierland.

    Guess what? Yes the site used the word “expert” in the articles about susan.. Question
    how did they use it? They cast her a CRITIC of know it all experts. They did not refer to her as an expert, they called her a critic of experts.

    I am wondering did they actually read every article on all those blogs or if they just used search tools to search for instances of certain words. hmm .. man I dont want to read all 40+ of those blogs.. where is the corpus of all the articles from those blogs they coded?

    They had one job: Collect the web articles. Establish a coding protocol. Code the articles.
    Keep a record of the articles, the coding scores, and then analyze that data.

    I cant see that they did the work in a professional way. But since their paper is mostly a mere observation of stuff that is rather obvious — denier blogs tend to cite single sources that differ with the consensus– I dont want to go re do the work .It’s “right enough” for social science.. done by biologists and some dude with no brackground whatsoever.

    If it had been done properly it would have been more interesting.

    The TYPICAL denier trope is “NON EXPERT schools EXPERTS”. In the case of susan they may have used a secondary narrative ( outcast expert, schools the in crowd experts). A better paper would look at the use of those two differrent tropes across a variety of topics.

    Deniers run both games and I think that would have made a more interesting paper than the paper the 14 of them ( holy effing featherbedding) wrote.

  187. izen says:

    @-SM
    “If it had been done properly it would have been more interesting.”

    How well does the paper compare with other work in the field ? From your insight into this area of content analysis and the usual and proper methodology and format of papers in this field, can you link to published work that by comparison did a good, or more interesting job on a similar topic ?

    Sometimes of course, it is the errors that are most interesting.

  188. zebra says:

    izen,

    “full Willard”

    Far from it, if you mean how you are expressing your disagreement. I welcome disagreement when it is coherent and sharp but polite. Part of my communication strategy, in fact.;-)

    When I say that being a scientist is orthogonal with being an educator, able to communicate with the public, why do you see that as some kind of personal attack on scientists? You yourself said that it is up to the “professionals” like politicians and journalists to perform that task.

    Is your understanding of “the nature of the scientific project and its practitioners” congruent with your understanding of “politics and journalism”? Or even with formal education of the vast majority of citizens?

    My take on this is hardly controversial, and I think even here Joshua (?) said something similar.
    Scientists do what they do in their professional environment, and the training, skills, and practices, are not the same as what politicians, journalists, and educators, do.

    With respect to the “consensus message” since 1989: This needs to be parsed carefully. Over the decades, I have thought the presentation, as it filtered out to media, has not been all that clear. Is this because of how scientists communicate with journalists, or because journalists, or because scientist got baited by “contrarians” and politicians? Probably all of the above.

    Things have gotten better, no doubt. That doesn’t mean that the issue of the target audience and the metric that I specified above has been resolved.

  189. zebra says:

    Steve M,

    Your effort is appreciated.

    The TYPICAL denier trope is “NON EXPERT schools EXPERTS”. In the case of susan they may have used a secondary narrative ( outcast expert, schools the in crowd experts). A better paper would look at the use of those two differrent tropes across a variety of topics.”

    Somewhere above I asked about the existence of some kind of “factchecker” type blog/meta-blog/blog peer review, …whatever. The point being that, for me, one of the most serious obstacles in making progress is that the public is just not very well educated about the most basic stuff of science, valid reasoning, quantitative thinking. But, they might be receptive to the kind of cross-discipline approach you suggest, where it isn’t exclusively part of the climate wars.

  190. Willard says:

    What would be your favorite positive descriptor opposite to authoritarian, zebra?

    Fourth time now I ask you this.

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