Scientists need to….

There was a recent article by Roger Highfield called Scientists need to ditch tribalism and stop shouting down outsiders. It was mostly an interesting interview with Hannah Fry who said

I think that scientists and science supporters often close ranks on people when they present an opinion that goes against accepted theory. It can get a bit tribal, I’ve seen ‘outsiders’ shouted down and belittled, and I don’t think it helps the situation.

I think there is some truth to this and I have a lot of respect for those who are able to remain civil even when discussing a contentious topic. It’s something I strive for, but don’t always achieve.

However, I also wanted to highlight a twitter thread from Andrew Dessler that provides – in my view – some context. It starts with:

and ends with:

I think many scientists who engage on social media would very much like to be able to politely discuss science with others who are interested. However, many have experienced things that have influenced the manner in which they engage. Maybe it would be good if many could remain civil despite this, but scientists are human too and there’s only so much that some can take.

I’m actually not really sure what conclusions I’m trying to draw here. I would be very pleased if it were possible to discuss contentious scientific topics without it getting tribal and without the discussions becoming unpleasant. However, I don’t think that the reason this isn’t always achieved is simply because scientists, and science supporters, have a tendency to be tribal and to shout down outsiders. If there is such a tendency, I think it is also a consequence of the manner in which some choose to engage with scientists on social media.

Do I have any suggestions as to how to improve this? No, I don’t. My own plan is simply to do the best that I can and to avoid telling others how I think they should behave.

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107 Responses to Scientists need to….

  1. This has been pretty much my experience as well. It has resulted in me not being very keen to bother commenting on blogs even when interesting things are being discussed because inevitably it will end up with people being rude or trolling. Fortunately I am not a climate scientist, so don’t have anything really important to say about it, but it is unsurprising that some scientists have difficulty maintaining their sang froid.

  2. Magma says:

    Andrew Dessler’s recent experience is just one more drop in an overflowing bucket. One way to look at this to ask whether the stereotypical behavior of climate ‘skeptics’ would be considered in any way acceptable if displayed by students or fellow scientists in universities or other workplaces or in conference halls.

    The question more or less answers itself. I don’t think scientists should blame themselves for a failure to change the minds of motivated opponents acting in many cases in bad faith, or at a minimum with smugly impenetrable ignorance.

  3. what magma said…

    2+2=5 and we are supposed to not bat an eye. Sure, that might be right in another corner of the universe.

    The frame of discussion about how scientists communicate from the “be civil” side is all about playing the man/woman rather than playing the ball. stay on topic, bring your math and science and be prepared to show your work.

    If you say something ridiculous and you have nothing to back it up, then you should be ridiculed, banned, ignored.

    If you say something ridiculous and you have something to back it up, you will get an analysis of your position and work. That’s a potential learning/teaching moment for lots of us, but if you are ridiculous and not interested in learning, then you are a troll. You should be banned, rediculed and/or ignored.

    In the interest of fairness and the possibility that trolls can change, a comment ban for a week, second and subsequent bans of 30 days.

    Mike (of the sciency tribe)

  4. I would love to see Hannah Fry engage online with a flatearther. Again, show your work. After all, flatearthers are really just outsiders, right?

  5. I think people should stop telling scientists how to communicate. Let them first show the evidence that the problems in American are due to science communication and not due to a corrupt political system fuelling a culture war. Then let them show their evidence which communication style works best. As far as I can see both requests will not get a satisfactory answer.

    Thread/discussion

  6. skimmed the article. on Trump, Fry says:
    “I don’t think I’d bother saying anything. I used to get very worked up and upset about the Trump Whitehouse, but then I read Fire and Fury and – somehow – it managed to cure me of my anger at the situation. As a man, he is so ridiculous, so devoid of reason, and so desperately out of control that I can’t bring myself to be emotionally invested in the rollercoaster anymore.”

    So much for Fry’s commitment to engage with the outsider. We all hit our limits with the outsiders and then we are done in one manner or another. Only a masochist will continue to engage with folks who are ridiculous, devoid of reason and out of control.

  7. John Hartz says:

    Victor Venema: Two thoughts in response to your post:

    1. The better one communicates, the more likely the message will be correctly understood.

    2. The only way to win a propaganda war is through counter-propaganda.

  8. Victor,
    Yes, I saw your thread. I largely agree with you. I think people are well meaning but I don’t think they appreciate quite how much these suggestions buy into the narrative that the problem is simply that scientists are not effective communicators, rather than it being a very complex communication environment.

  9. JH,
    I think the problem is that scientists don’t really see themselves as the people who should be engaging in a propaganda war. I think there is value in countering mis-information, but I don’t really think that scientists should be engaging in a way that would be regarded as propaganda, counter or other-wise.

  10. I very much like Eli Rabett’s subtitle: “Eli tried to behave but there were way too many options”.

    I understand the civility thing, but I think, too, that there’s a serious communication problem with (even?) those who heartily accept human responsibility for Change. These problems range from too ready acceptance of apocalyptic outcomes (so “What’s the use trying?”) to joining too many issues with “climate justice” (the latest is immigration policy and before that threatened species preservation: forgetting that the probability of two events combined cannot be greater than the probability of either one), to unrealistic expectations about people’s reduction in energy consumption, to non-quantitative assessment of solutions.

    Personally, I think it’s necessary to find solutions despite popular sentiment or knowledge of anything.

    This doesn’t only affect climate change mitigation. You see it in solid waste management, too.

  11. Willard says:

    One does not simply test civility on contrarians themselves. The target audience is the eavesdropper. The public may reward smackdowns. It may also penalize ridicule. Momentary pleasures carries risks. Anyone can regret going too far, including the most immune to social cues.

    By the same token, contrarians’ concerns oftentimes become weapons. The Editor’s post obviously serves a ClimateBall function. It itself breaks the first maxim about politeness – never use politeness as a club.

    Civility, like politness, simply isn’t something one talks about without breaking from the actual exchange. Unlike politeness, civility just isn’t about manners, nor is it simply PC:

    When one’s lack of civility prevents from moving one’s ClimateBall forward, then there’s a real problem. Focusing on shaming can lead astray. Bloggers with attitude ought to beware, but then in-groups reward them. Their brands and their businesses thus change accordingly. Provocation sells well.

    And then everyone wonders why we have the social media we currently have.

  12. Andrew Dessler says:

    My view is that the nastiness of skeptics is a strategy. If you think about it, when confronted with someone who obviously knows a lot more about the topic then they do (i.e., a practicing climate scientist), the climate skeptic has only a few options. They could admit that they know less then the scientist, but then it’s hard to continue arguing their point. Or they could try to rationalize why their view still has merit even though someone who knows a lot more about it than they do disagrees. The most obvious way to do the latter is to accuse the scientist to being biased or corrupt. So that’s why these discussions always end this way.

    In any event, the idea that climate scientists could change the debate by engaging is pure Pielke-ian fantasy.

  13. John Hartz: “1. The better one communicates, the more likely the message will be correctly understood.

    My impression is that American scientists already communicate much better than their colleagues elsewhere. Still the problem is in America.

    John Hartz: “2. The only way to win a propaganda war is through counter-propaganda.

    Like ATTP said, scientists are not interested in this and a bunch of scientists will never fight a stronger war tweeting in their free time than the mercenaries of oligarchs fighting to enrich themselves even more by manipulating the political process. It is a better idea to change the rules and call on Americans to finally fight back against when they nearly unanimously hate: the perversion of politics and media by Big Money.

    Wolf-PAC.com

  14. Dave_Geologist says:

    I very rarely see scientists being uncivil, tribal or shouting down outsiders. Politely pointing out that no, 2 + 2 ≠ 5 is not being uncivil. Making a snappy retort after being called a liar, cheat, shill, whatever multiple times may be a bit uncivil, but blaming the scientist is false balance. When the same outsider has made the same wrong or not-even-wrong point multiple times in multiple forums, and been corrected multiple times, it’s reasonable to doubt (a) their ability to learn and/or (b) that they’re acting in good faith.

    I enjoy the Rutherford & Fry podcasts but they tackle quirky rather than hot-button issues. And as a mathematician she probably doesn’t have much day-to-day experience of the sort of stuff climatologists and evolutionary biologists face. IIRC they sometimes do a roadshow and take audience questions. She should do one on the greenhouse effect (climate change is too big, the episodes are short and snappy). It might try her patience. 😉 .

  15. Willard says:

    > It is a better idea to change the rules and call on Americans to finally fight back against when they nearly unanimously hate: the perversion of politics and media by Big Money.

    Big Money does not end at the American frontier. Some argue it permeates the anglosphere:

    The concept of an Anglosphere reflects the long-held belief that Britain’s best interests lie in forging closer relationships (and perhaps even some kind of institutionalised alliance) with those countries that have broadly similar political structures and systems; and that also tend to cherish the values of parliamentary government, individual liberty, the rule of law and the free market. The membership list of this club varies quite considerably depending on the author but at its core are the English-speaking “Five Eyes” countries of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. Each of these was once a British colony and can readily be situated within an imaginary horizon of a group of countries united by a shared political and economic culture, nourished from the roots of British parliamentary institutions, economic liberalism and Protestantism.

    https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/02/rise-anglosphere-how-right-dreamed-new-conservative-world-order

    Otters might argue the Eastern Europe is joining forces. The germanosphere isn’t immune to similar Realpolitik. Recall for instance that OliverG’s think tank once suggested to fight Iran with non-military means.

    Whatever the extent of the political fight that lies ahead, it’s important to realize that civility is exactly what will help solve it:

    Civility comes from the word civilis, which in Latin means “citizen”. Civility is more than the individual’s actions as a citizen. When civility functions properly usually there are many citizens performing their civic duties by taking part in the political process (voting, governance), which is also known as civic engagement.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civility

    Considering that the only alternative may be force, I duly submit we should take civility more srsly.

  16. Everett F Sargent says:

    “What would you do?”

    Nick Stokes has set the gold standard IMHO. I can only wish to be more like NS.

    But alas, I suffer from at least one personality disorder. Not trying to playing the victim card or blaming others, but at 65 it can be rather hard to chance one’s patterns of behavior. (you can delete these last two sentences if it is TMI).

  17. John Hartz says:

    Victor: I am not advocating that scientists directly engage in a propaganda war unless they choose to do so. Their findings do however provide ammunition to those who are engaged — Bill McKibben and 350.org are a good example of how this plays out.

  18. John Hartz says:

    Victor: I do not blame the communication skills of scientists for the current impasse about taking decisive actions to mitigate manmade climate change. I do, however, believe that most people, including scientists, could and should improve their communication skills.

  19. JCH says:

    Has Nick Stokes changed any minds at WUWT or CA or Climate Etc.?

  20. JCH no, but he does a god job of showing the lurkers how unreasonable most of the commenters at WUWT (and indeed Watts himself) actually are (I agree with what Willard wrote earlier about this, although I would advocate civility for its own sake, even if it is difficult to find the energy after a while).

  21. ATTP writes: “… and to avoid telling others how I think they should behave.”

    Why should we not tell people we expect honesty ! ?

    Why should we not DEMAND that people truthfully represent their opponents and the scientific position ! ?

    Why not get indignant when truth gets trashed and faith-based delusion and childishly wishful thinking demands to be given the same weight as physical reality?

    Why isn’t there more dissection and exposure of the fraudulent ( – not to mention childish and disconnected from physical reality – ) arguments and deceptions climate science contrarians depend on?

    Incidentally:
    “Earth Centrist ponders, polite or honest?”
    https://confrontingsciencecontrarians.blogspot.com/2018/07/earth-centrist-ponders-polite-or-honest.html

  22. Everett F Sargent says:

    “In any event, the idea that climate scientists could change the debate by engaging is pure Pielke-ian fantasy.”

    I decided to opt into the J’s twitter feed, don’t ask me why, because I can’t remember. But oh boy, The Honest Broker, whew, his twitter feed (via gmail) has now recommended just about everybody who currently lives in Denierville.

    Yeah, I have Facebook and Twitter accounts (just so that I can login and read stuff in passive radar/sonar modes only, I still think they are the proverbial Twin Towers of Babel).

  23. citizen,

    Why should we not DEMAND that people truthfully represent their opponents and the scientific position ! ?

    I’m referring more to telling people how they should engage (tone), rather than criticising the veracity of what they might say.

  24. Jonathan T says:

    Apologies if this point has already been made. I am no longer a research scientist but I have worked in Sci Comms for over 7 years. My perspective on this is that you must always realise that you aren’t actually responding to the person you are talking directly to, you are responding to the people who are observing. The person challenging you is just one, the people observing are many (and they aren’t always the same for each response you provide to that ‘one’). It’s the observers of your discussion that you should always keep in mind.

    If the other person is behaving like an arsehole, they will notice this. If you behave like an arsehole back, they will also notice this. But if you behave as though you are treating that arsehole with the civility you would treat anyone in real life who has never heard your viewpoint or your knowledge before but they are interested enough to hear it, they will notice that too. Speak to that person when you respond. Not the arsehole you are replying to.

    Another way of looking at it is, respond as if you were talking to your grandmother. She doesn’t know anything about your field but she’s interested enough in you to want to know what you do. She may not fully understand what you say but she sure as hell would understand it if you were insulting her with your reply. Don’t insult your gran.

  25. Jonathan,
    Yes, those are perfectly reasonable points and I think many who engage publicly recognise this. This doesn’t change, in my view at least, why some scientists may not be as patient and civil as might be hoped. I’m not arguing that this is a good thing. I’m mainly pointing out a reality. In my opinion, those who feel in a position to give advice about how scientists should engage publicly should be aware of this.

    There is also another thing to consider. If people go around saying “scientists need to be more civil” then there’s a good chance that others will say “see, the problem is these scientists who aren’t civil”. This ignores that many others are not engaging in good faith. We also have to be somewhat careful of deficit model thinking – “if only scientists were more civil…”.

  26. jacksmith4tx says:

    When I have watched online debates, not just climate related, the ones which tend to be more civil are almost always when people can’t hide behind anonymous screen names. When your online behavior is directly tied to your real world identity and reputation it can temper your words.
    This won’t prevent jerks and psychopaths from spewing insults and threats but it would raise the S/N ratio. I don’t know how to enforce transparency but maybe this would be a good place to use blockchain technology.
    Maybe this could be a partial solution but then it leads to this: Is being anonymous a basic human right? This problem of anonymous entities (people/bots/sock puppets) on the internet is one of the main sources of social-media fueled unrest worldwide.

  27. It is also worth bearing in mind that “aresholes” are rather good at intemperate discussions, it is what they like and they know how to handle them. Scientists, on the other hand, generally resolve arguments by being, if not actually civil, then at least honest and straighforward. They tend not to be used to intemperate rhetorical discussions, and as a result often don’t handle them very well because they don’t get the practice, and so are more easily goaded into intemperate behaviour. If you are going to fight, make it on a battlefield of your choosing, rather than theirs, and stick to the science. would be my advice.

    Sadly I don’t have the energy to be civil to those who are rude anymore and I don’t want to be uncivil (it encourages cognitive biases if nothing else) so I comment rather less than I used to.

  28. At least in Germany being anonymous is a basic human right. It is called “informationelle Selbstbestimmung“. It was not written in the constitution directly, but our constitutional court introduced it recognising its importance for the other human rights. The right to organise, freedom of speech and the ability to stand up against power.

    I would prefer to fight the problems of anonymity by making sure that someone feels responsible for a discussion. In case of blogs that would mean good moderation. In case of Twitter I feel that someone should be able to delink a reply to one of their tweets, to make the reply into its own conversation the readers of the earlier tweet do not have to see. If people want to follow the asshole they should be able to do so and see such replies, but their hatred and vitriol does not have to make my world worse.

    You can clearly see that the discussion on moderated blogs is more civil.

  29. Willard says:

    For what it’s worth, here’s a yearly reminder on what MarcM should fear the most:

    You want to know who should debate [MarcM]? A comedian. Why is that? Because when one person is not constrained by the truth in a debate, the discourse becomes irrational. And as soon at that happens, a rational person is at a hopeless disadvantage. So you know what you want then? You want someone who can meet that irrationality with an equal and opposite amount of irrationality. And you know who has that capability? A comedian.

    Last year I tried to talk to a group of scientists/environmentalists about the idea of having a panel discussion that would include a climate skeptic and a comedian. They ridiculed the idea. They were … SUCH scientists with everything they said. So literal minded.

    Well, now let me SHOW you EXACTLY what I was talking about.

    Sometimes, the audience reacts positively to incisive mockery. It can influence people, and even help make friends. But then what goes around comes around. In the ClimateBall court, everything you say or do can be used and done against you.

  30. Joshua says:

    I think many scientists who engage on social media would very much like to be able to politely discuss science with others who are interested.

    My suggestion is that if you want polite discussions about science, don’t look towards engaging on social media.

    Where do you see polite discussions (in particular in a open forum where there are likely to be people of being viewpoints involved), particularly in contentious topics) , that are “polite?”

    Honestly, I think that any expectations for polite discussions on social media (among those with differing viewpoints on contentious topics) would be nuts.

    Blaming scientists for impolite discussions on social media is, IMO, likewise nuts.

  31. jacksmith4tx says:

    Victor,
    While I fully support the notion of anonymity for citizens the reality of anonymity on the internet is mostly an illusion. Try and threaten to murder or assassinate someone in the upper caste and see what happens. There must be a dozen government and commercial entities that can unmask any user when presented with the dreaded NSL (National Security Letter). While I know that’s an American legal instrument I suspect similar tools exist in most countries.

  32. Joshua says:

    Jack –

    This won’t prevent jerks and psychopaths from spewing insults and threats but it would raise the S/N ratio.

    I get the common sense logic, but I’m dubious. Just turn on TV or read what politicians or pundits have to say… there is no shortage of people who are are likely to be impolite with their name attached. I love the logic of someone like Anthony Watts or Willis insulting people using the argument that anonymous people are insulting because they’re anonymous.

    I’d like to see some science on this.

  33. Joshua,
    Yes, you’re probably right that social media platforms are not optimal for polite discussions. As you say, it doesn’t really make sense to expect scientists to somehow buck this trend, or to blame them for it not really being possible.

  34. Joshua says:

    IMO, impoliteness as seen in social media exchanges is a symptom of a larger, underlying dynamic. You can’t diagnose or treat the underlying dynamic by focusing at the level of the symptom.

    Why are people impolite? Which kinds of people tend towards impoliteness? What kind of mediums of exchange tends towards impoliteness (or politeness).

    In order to have good faith exchanges you have to have people who are actually interested in good faith exchanges (and not, fur example period who are interested in identity-aggressive and identity-defensive behaviors) engaging in a forum that is condusive for good faith exchange.

    If you’re involved in the climate-o-sphere or other similar fora, I would suggest an intent of something other than good faith exchange (not to say that you can’t have such with some people in that environment). If you keep engaging in social media with a proximal goal of good faith exchange, I would suggest some introspection.

  35. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    .. or to blame them for it not really being possible.

    Impoliteness on social media is ubiquitous. Social mrdia is huge. Blaming scientists for the impoliteness in the tiny, tiny percentage of social media where scientists comprise a (slightly?) higher % of the participants seems like poor logic, to me.

  36. Harry Twinotter says:

    “Scientists need to ditch tribalism and stop shouting down outsiders”
    The title of the article is bizarre, I wonder what the author uses for comparison. If scientists do start “shouting”, it is because of the torrent of factually-incorrect arguments and insults they have to endure. Go the comments section of most articles or posts on Twitter concerning Climate Change to see this in action.

  37. Steven Mosher says:

    Reading the actual text

    “And I think there’s a third reason (which I’m sure isn’t going to make me particularly popular). I think that scientists and science supporters often close ranks on people when they present an opinion that goes against accepted theory. It can get a bit tribal, I’ve seen ‘outsiders’ shouted down and belittled, and I don’t think it helps the situation. It can seem like we’re not willing to listen to the points raised by the other side, which – I think – can sometimes serve to solidify the anti-science sentiment.”

    1. scientists and science supporters DO often close ranks on people when they present an opinion
    that goes against accepted theory– even when the person is someone like wadhams.
    2. it Can get a bit tribal
    3. I dont doubt her personal observation.
    4. She thinks that this doesnt help.
    5. It can give the appearance of being unwilling to listen.

    Of course depending when you come into a fight, you dont see everything that led up up to it.
    ya, sometimes you come into a climateball fight and watch willard gun down a defenseless
    denier, say he caps a Peilke. And to many outsiders it looks like deniers lives do not matter.
    Good thing he wears a body cam and we can watch from the very begining.

    back on topic. What she says is not insane.

    Bottom line: she suggests being more like Tamsin.

    I like her style. beats Tamino style. day in and day out. hands down.

    There are a handful of people who have good styles ( they talk to dumb people without a hint of arrogance). They listen too

    Tamsin
    Zeke

    come to mind

    Sadly all cannot all be fucking saints.

  38. Steven Mosher says:

    and sadly fewer can be Bill Maher, even Bill has a hard time being Bill

  39. Willard says:

    > gun down

    That’s not how I’d describe clean checks on puck carriers, but to each one’s own.

    Somewhat related:

    What is going on here? One explanation might be that as a sizable part of the western world tumbles into crisis and serial assaults on basic liberal values, eloquence fails us, and an entirely justified rage takes over. But the story surely runs much wider than that, into a whole attitude of mind founded on the platforms via which we not only communicate but also understand just about every facet of our collective existence.

    Put another way, if swearing, Nazi analogies, decreasing interest in other sides of the argument and a tendency to get lost in explosive rows now define an increasing share of political discourse, we all know where that change is fundamentally rooted. It begins and ends online – where, as the US tech pioneer Jaron Lanier puts it, the algorithms that decide whether something gets pushed towards prominence or is buried in the digital undergrowth are “neither liberal nor conservative … just pro-paranoia, pro-irritability, and pro-general assholeness”. (He swears, too.) The only real beneficiaries are the northern Californian billionaires who have built advertising empires on annoyance and misanthropy.

    Online spats generate clicks. Overclicking impoverishes almost everyone.

    Only artfulness can counter that loss.

  40. Dave_Geologist says:

    You want to know who should debate [MarcM]? A comedian. Why is that? Because when one person is not constrained by the truth in a debate, the discourse becomes irrational. And as soon at that happens, a rational person is at a hopeless disadvantage. So you know what you want then? You want someone who can meet that irrationality with an equal and opposite amount of irrationality. And you know who has that capability? A comedian.

    Sometimes, the audience reacts positively to incisive mockery. It can influence people, and even help make friends. But then what goes around comes around. In the ClimateBall court, everything you say or do can be used and done against you.

    From yesterday’s Guardian (comedian Stewart Lee):

    I spent the weekend at the Latitude festival in Suffolk with my children, Nelson and Mandela. [I’m guessing the names are a Poe, but that it went over the heads of a certain brand of commenter.] Like a good metropolitan liberal elitist, I had all my tastes and prejudices confirmed, and all in a safe family-friendly environment.

    daffyddw
    I assume you got paid to go to latitude to give the smarties a chance to chuckle knowingly and give themselves yet another pat on the back?

    TonyCurrie66 daffyddw

    Actually, his wife was performing. And very excellent she is too. So I guess her family went with her. And your problem with that is what? Btw, are you disdaining the ‘smarties’ as one of, and on behalf of all thickoes? Those smart people, eh?

    An example (1) of self-deprecating humour, (2) of uncivility and (3) of a fact-based response carrying a hint of uncivility, but much less and it was provoked. I know which is which. YMMV.

    Being the Guardian, I’m sure most readers reached the same conclusion I did. But. Betcha daffyddw isn’t ashamed. Betcha he’s proud to have punched a hippy. Betcha the rest of the band of dedicated trolls, who go there to punch hippies, were cheering him on even after it became clear he’d made an ass of himself (I’m assuming it’s a man, misogyny is a regular feature of the usual suspects’ work).

    Incidentally, on the first page where I googled him to find out if I knew his wife’s work (I do, Hillary would like her, Donald, not so much 😉 ).

    Why I walked out of a Stewart Lee gig – Telegraph
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/comedy/…/Why-I-walked-out-of-a-Stewart-Lee-gig.html
    9 Nov 2013 – Stewart Lee’s contempt for his audience is becoming a grimly unedifying … Stand-up comedian Stewart Lee – a ‘grim spectacle’ Photo: REX.

    For those who don’t know the DT, it’s the Dail Mail for posh people. James Dellingpole is a regular. Need I say more?
    Interesting (a) because it shows comedians can’t always cut through and (b) it suggests that even comedians can generate an antagonistic, tribal response. Otherwise, why is that piece of hippie-punching (I assume an alt-right comedian would have got a favourable review, despite likely being more extreme) still click-bait four years later?

    And of course the standard response of comedians to hecklers is to pick on them for the rest of the show, making them the butt of every joke. A tad uncivil, perhaps? Although I guess that is reflected in the last sentence of the OP. What goes around, comes around.

  41. Dave_Geologist says:

    Try and threaten to murder or assassinate someone in the upper caste and see what happens. There must be a dozen government and commercial entities that can unmask any user

    No doubt jack. But outside conspiracy-theory-land, most people recognise that those powers are by and large used to protect ordinary citizens against people who want to randomly mow them down, not just the “upper caste”, whatever that is. Since the US doesn’t have a hereditary aristocracy, I presume it means billionaire hedge-fund managers and bankers, or their scions. Kinda like Trump’s cabinet, which I presume does get special protection, but not because they’re rich, because they fall into the Secret Service’s remit.

    There have been intelligence failures in the UK. One of the failures was an MP, who at least in terms of temporary power was upper caste. The thwarted cases were all about random killing IIRC. Sometimes about killing a random member of the armed forces or police, or their work or classmates, but not the Commissioner or a General. The one guy who did attack Parliament made sure he’d killed a bunch of random civilians first, presumably because he rightly expected to be shot before he got inside. All he achieved there was killing a random beat cop.

  42. Steven Mosher says:

    “That’s not how I’d describe clean checks on puck carriers, but to each one’s own.”

    the beauty of the instant replay and immutable records

  43. Steven Mosher says:

    “And of course the standard response of comedians to hecklers is to pick on them for the rest of the show, making them the butt of every joke. A tad uncivil, perhaps? Although I guess that is reflected in the last sentence of the OP. What goes around, comes around.”

    My friend Joe had a perfect reponse to hecklers.

    Its the analog of do your own science

  44. Has Nick Stokes changed any minds at WUWT or CA or Climate Etc.?

    Have you changed your mind about anything?

  45. Dave_Geologist says:

    Interesting, So is the message that do-your-own-science is unlikely to be more successful than do-you-won-comedy? Even if you’re a scientist in an unrelated field and haven’t taken the basic rookie-error-avoidance step of reading an undergrad textbook?

    Comedy was one of the tests in the original Kruger & Dunning study IIRC. They deliberately chose some non-intellectual tasks, because the subjects were college students earning beer money so no-one was really dumb. Hence the paper’s title is “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments”. Not, as it often paraphrased, “Dumb people don”t know how dumb they are”.

  46. you know, I didn’t think much of this idea that outsiders get shouted down until SM mentioned Wadhams. I have often thought that the “mainstream” scientists treat Wadhams and McPherson with unnecessary contempt. They may be wrong, they may be on the extreme end of their scientific field analysis, but I don’t think they are doing the 2+2=5 thing and they don’t engage in the range of “move the goalpost” activities that are the hallmark of the true ideological science troll, so in that sense, I don’t see why they can’t be treated a little more courteously. If that is happening on the alarm end of the scientific spectrum, it is probably happening on the luke warm end of the scientific spectrum as well. Maybe the range of considered opinions and discussion ought to be extended a bit? I think the bad faith poster/scientist is categorically different from the good faith poster/scientist who may just be out on one end or the other of the spectrum of scientific analysis and communication about our situation.

  47. JCH says:

    Has Nick Stokes changed any minds at WUWT or CA or Climate Etc.?

    Have you changed your mind about anything?

    LMAO. Have you?

  48. izen says:

    @-” I’ve seen ‘outsiders’ shouted down and belittled, and I don’t think it helps the situation.”

    I recognise this framing, but have trouble identifying any good examples in the climate science field.
    Can anyone cite a clear instance of this happening ?
    (it is rather easy to find examples of outsiders shouting down and belittling scientists.)

    I would not accept that the various position statements made by all the major National science bodies about climate science constitute shouting down and belittling outsiders.

    As the paradigm of the ‘Outsider’, Lord Monkton would seem to be the obvious target of belittling and shouting down by scientists. Has this happened ?

  49. izen, the only example I can think of is an insider (response to Wadhams prediction of an imminent ice-free Arctic).

  50. @Willard,

    … where, as the US tech pioneer Jaron Lanier puts it, the algorithms that decide whether something gets pushed towards prominence or is buried in the digital undergrowth are “neither liberal nor conservative … just pro-paranoia, pro-irritability, and pro-general assholeness”. (He swears, too.) The only real beneficiaries are the northern Californian billionaires who have built advertising empires on annoyance and misanthropy.

    Actually, this notion is very out-of-date. Most Internet bandwidth and most advert earnings these days come from video and, less, audio content pushed to set-top boxes and smart phones. Sure, there is still clickstream revenue from ads, but, frankly, it doesn’t generate as much as reselling information about interest in products and such.

    Also, social media is not predominantly used for arguments and annoyance: It’s used for stuff like cut cat videos and sharing photos of friends and family, soliciting and receiving comments, and just keeping in touch.

    And, as far as “privacy” regarding the latter goes, people on the Internet have made their choice. They strongly oppose paying service fees for access to sites, so, as the saying goes, if they don’t pay for a product, they become the product.

  51. …and Then There’s Physics says:July 22, 2018 at 7:48 pm: “I’m referring more to telling people how they should engage (tone), rather than criticising the veracity of what they might say.”

    Fair enough, although guess I’m more concerned with substance.

    FYI – JULY 8, 2018 – Earth Centrist ponders, polite or honest?

    “… Science on the other hand is humanity’s recipe for learning about the physical world and its processes as honestly as possible.

    Learning is the goal, fidelity to physical facts is the gold standard.

    Science is a world where Free Speech doesn’t mean it’s okay to lie and slander with malicious intent.

    Informed constructive skepticism is the rule.

    Dishonest bluster and bullying is a crime. …”

    ————–
    Joshua says:July 22, 2018 at 9:36 pm:”In order to have good faith exchanges you have to have people who are actually interested in good faith exchanges …”

    Right! and if they’re disingenuous game players we have a duty to dissect and expose their malicious games!
    (https://confrontingsciencecontrarians.blogspot.com/2018/07/revisiting-steele-landscapesandcycles.html)
    ————–
    Harry Twinotter says: July 23, 2018 at 12:25 am: “If scientists do start “shouting”, it is because of the torrent of factually-incorrect arguments and insults they have to endure.”

    Can I get an Amen sisters and brothers :- )
    —————
    Dave the Geologist says July 23, 2018 at 9:48 am: “Kinda like Trump’s cabinet, which I presume does get special protection, but not because they’re rich, because they fall into the Secret Service’s remit.”

    Please, we need to constantly remind ourselves why that happened. Because a deluded (disconnected from reality) nation handed over our government to people who promised to vandalize the hell out of it. Why did that happen?, because they happy listened to blatant lies when it feeds their fancy. Which should be quite the indictment of rationalist inability engage and inform.
    ————–

  52. izen says:

    @-JCH
    “Has Nick Stokes changed any minds at WUWT or CA or Climate Etc.?”

    Almost certainly yes.
    But that is offset by the increase in partisan opposition it breeds.

    Any tribe needs a tolerated and token enemy within to drive controversy and engage the members of the tribe. It is a protection against internal dissension and schism. And a trade-off between allowing the dissident to shift the Overton window and motivating a response.

    The ‘grit in the oyster’ theory.

  53. @Turbulent Eddie,

    Can’t speak for ATTP, but I change my mind on something at least once a week, typically when I learn something new. With respect to climate, I think the biggest thing I learned in the last couple of years was when Dr Glen Peters corrected my calculation of how much CO2 needs to be captured via clear-air-capture (CAC) geoengineering. He revised it upwards to 2.5x my estimate, because I forgot that atmosphere is in equilibrium with oceans and soils. As a result, if CAC is hard and expensive given CO2 content in air, it’s really difficult considering the full amount.

    Professionally, the biggest change-of-mind I’ve had in the last year and a half is learning the potency of boosting and Bayesian regression trees.

    As a counsellor once suggested to me, if you don’t change your mind, you’re essentially dead.

    As I said, I can’t speak for ATTP, and he may chime in, but I very much doubt he’s ossified in the way you suggest.

  54. @smallbluemike,

    My assessment of what’s wrong with McPherson’s view is he’s not doing risk assessment properly, nor is he calculating expected time-to-event correctly. Other than that, his science seems okay.

  55. jacksmith4tx says:

    The Art of Persuasion.
    I was watching a C-SPAN BookTV presentation by Ken Auletta who wrote a new book called “Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else)”.

    During the Q&A he revealed that the Ad Council (the industry’s main lobbyist) is going to be launching a big campaign in support of climate change. Segment starts at 0:35:43:
    https://www.c-span.org/video/?447369-1/frenemies&start=2143#

    How devious! The guys who’s entire existence depends on promoting unbridled consumption are now going to use their incredible power of persuasion to encourage conservation. This will be very interesting to watch what techniques and strategies they come up with.

  56. Joshua says:

    1. scientists and science supporters DO often close ranks on people when they present an opinion
    that goes against accepted theory– even when the person is someone like wadhams.
    2. it Can get a bit tribal
    3. I dont doubt her personal observation.
    4. She thinks that this doesnt help.
    5. It can give the appearance of being unwilling to listen.

    Well, sure. Then again:

    1. scientists and science supporters pretty much an particular group we can think of DO often close ranks on people when they present an opinion
    that goes against accepted theory– even when the person is someone like wadhams.
    2. it Can get a bit tribal

    […]

    5. It can give the appearance of being unwilling to listen.

  57. izen says:

    @-hyperg
    “As a counsellor once suggested to me, if you don’t change your mind, you’re essentially dead.”

    The classic version is,
    If you can’t change your mind, you probably don’t have one.

    People change their minds most often in an incremental, evolutionary process.
    Pauline revolutionary conversions are uncommon.

  58. McPherson may not be doing risk assessment or time-to-event well (and I sincerely hope he is not), but I agree with you that his science is somewhat reasonable. I think he is primarily a habitat biologist and sees shrinking habitat as a serious threat to planetary diversity and he thinks that collapsing planetary habitat and diversity are a very serious problem. Yet, in the frame of this thread, Guy Mac’s name rarely comes up without creating significant pushback (shouting down) by the mainstream scientists. Why so little tolerance for positions outside the mainstream if they are proposed in good faith?

    I think the answer to that question is that folks like Wadhams and Guy Mac fuel the pushback from lukewarmers and outright trolls which means that the scientific community pushes these folks out of the conversation to keep the bounds of the conversation within a certain slightly narrowed range.

    I think the discussion should be bounded by good faith endeavor rather than a narrowed bell curve range of acceptable ideas, proposals and suggestions. I guess that means in theory I have to be willing to tolerate more lukewarmers than I would like if they post in good faith and will engage in critical thinking and analysis. in that sense, Tom/Tedpress does not make the cut for me because he posted dishonestly here from the get go, but I think Steven Mosher does make the cut. I think SM is stubborn and has a political bias (takes one to know one, right?) but is generally honest and posts in good faith.

    I have changed my mind about this post during the comments exchange. It happens.

  59. Dave_Geologist says:

    re Wadhams

    The Times: “A Cambridge University professor has been accused of “crying wolf” by predicting the imminent disappearance of Arctic ice. Peter Wadhams has been criticised by scientists who fear that he could undermine the credibility of climate science by making doom-laden forecasts.”

    NTZ: “Charlatans Of The Arctic… Laughing Stock Ice-Free-Arctic Predictions”

    WUWT: “Whacky Peter Wadhams Doubles Down”

    Daily Caller: “The Arctic Was Supposed To Be Ice-Free In 2016 — That Didn’t Happen”

    ScienceNordic “Most scientists agree it will happen sometime this century, but have roundly criticised the most recent claims by British scientist, Professor Peter Wadhams in the Guardian newspaper that the Arctic is likely to become ‘ice-free’ as early as next year.”

    Climate Feedback

    The Guardian published an interview with Peter Wadhams, who discusses the consequences of human-induced global warming on Arctic climate and opines that “Next year or the year after, the Arctic will be free of ice”. This claim appears not to be supported by proper scientific argumentation based on evidence and a physical understanding of how that forecast would realize, either in the article or in previously published scientific papers.

    The scientists who have reviewed the article indicate that while some statements are science-based, several claims are inaccurate or are opinions unsupported by current science. Most of the scientists tagged the article as ‘alarmist’ (meaning that “it overstates or exaggerates the risks of climate change”) and most indicated that the title of the article is not properly supported by its content. Widely publicizing this kind of guess, which has a low probability of turning out to be true, risks undermining public trust in science.

    Dana in the Guardian:

    There are genuine climate alarmists, but they’re not in the same league as deniers

    Deniers have conservative media outlets and control the Republican Party; climate alarmists are largely ignored

    Peter Wadhams gets most climate science right, but has been alarmist in his predictions about how soon the Arctic will be ice-free.

    Hmmm. Shouted down? Que de politesse.

    And ask yourself, which of these comments passes the civility test?

  60. Willard says:

    > Sure, there is still clickstream revenue from ads, but, frankly, it doesn’t generate as much as reselling information about interest in products and such.

    Which you get from clicks anyway. No click, no behavior to trace. But you made me look:

    Twitter earns 86 percent or more of its revenue from advertising.

    https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/120114/how-does-twitter-twtr-make-money.asp

    It could be a figure of speech for all I care.

    ***

    > social media is not predominantly used for arguments and annoyance

    I know there’s life beyond ClimateBall. Nature bats last, and there’s even a universe beyond life, which will survive anything that happens on Earth. That’s largely beside my point, which is to remind that the Internet is the closest we may ever reach of eternity. We might act like it. Art is the only way out of this.

    Sometimes, artfulness can reach biblical proportions:

  61. Dave_Geologist says:

    Oh, and Wadhams has been shouted down so successfully that he’s published a book. I should be so lucky 😦 .

    From the Guardian review on the same day as the article (no cherry picking, lead comment from each successive sub-thread):

    franksw 21 Aug 2016 8:43
    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs.

    krnlgmp 21 Aug 2016 10:24
    Wadhams is at one end of the scale of predictions. But don’t kid yourself that the sea ice is in any way doing OK.
    This will happen, it just might take a few more years. Prediction is hard, particularly when it comes to individual years. But the downward trend is clear and the actual volume of ice (as opposed to how much area of sea it covers) is so very much lower than as few decades ago that it is really quite scary.
    The ice is much thinner nowadays

    morbius50 21 Aug 2016 12:39
    So, he paints a picture of doom and then releases a physical copy of a big co2 causing hardback book. Then we have the problem of shipping, delivering/fetching these big heavy books. Why not just release it for free on the internet, instead of being a money grabbing hypocrite like a most alarmists.

    intonsus 21 Aug 2016 14:48
    Anxiety inducing, but is it anthropogenic?

    ID5922107 21 Aug 2016 15:01
    I would like him to tell us how Big Oil caused a lightening strike to kill one of his friends as he claimed. This could be valuable military information.

    ID5922107 21 Aug 2016 15:03
    Wadhams thanks Ernest Hemingway for his title.
    Another fiction book.

    Interesting. A civility test might be in order here too. And perhaps a grammar and spelling test. An imperfect measure of intellect, I know, especially in hastily typed comments, but still interesting, as JC would say. Before sorting them into science-deniers and science-accepters of course. Wouldn’t want to bias the results 😉 .

  62. Willard says:

    Since the context of the above tweet may not be clear for those who don’t click to trace it back:

    This morning, Clive has been chiding Katharine for blocking people. He argues (mostly by assertion) that this isn’t kosher for ethical, pragmatic, and scientific reasons. So far, he quoted two verses.

    For those in the back who missed their Bible studies, Tim 2:23, which Clive omits, is simply:

    Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.

    Mat 7:6 is the pearls and swines bit, Mat 19:13 is about kids, and Mat 10:34 is about swordsmanship.

  63. “Shouted down? Que de politesse.”

    I don’t think Wadhams viewed it that way. Rashomon…

  64. Have you changed your mind about anything?

    Yes, before I got in the US culture war I thought climate “sceptics” were sceptical.

    I used to think that transparency and clear metrics were good, after hearing this lecture I value trust.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/reith2002/lecture1.shtml

    And I have naturally often changed my mind on the scientific topic I work on. That is the job description of a scientist. I am sure you noticed reading my blog. The most interesting change is almost published, but you read the manuscript here:
    https://eartharxiv.org/mqagw/

    I must admit that I not changed my mind about scientific problems due to comments of politically radicalised ignorant people yet.

    What have you changed your mind on?

  65. JCH says:

    I initially accepted the argument that an increase in aerosols likely explains mid-century cooling: ~1944 to ~1970. Now I think changes in low clouds in the Eastern Pacific are a more likely cause.

    Recently at RC –

    Eastern Pacific:

    Aerosols:

  66. John Hartz says:

    A new sliver of light…

    On Saturday, hundreds of teen-agers—loud, pensive, stubbornly determined—marched through Manhattan. They represented a movement that other teen-agers had started, last year, called Zero Hour. They were gravely concerned about politicians doing almost nothing for climate justice, and they had created a list of demands—including, most importantly, achieving negative carbon emissions by 2030. All across the country, other kids were marching, too, with the biggest group in a rainy Washington, D.C., where the movement’s founders led the way down the National Mall, around the Capitol, before ending with a rally in Lincoln Park. In New York, the route wound through midtown, from Columbus Circle to the United Nations headquarters, below some of the luxury skyscrapers that account for only two per cent of New York’s nearly one million buildings but a full half of the city’s emissions.

    The Teen-Agers Fighting for Climate Justice by Carolyn Kormann, The New Yorker, June 22, 2018

  67. Magma says:

    And perhaps a grammar and spelling test. — Dave_Geologist

    I don’t know. Many of the D-K skeptics I battle with on my favorite news sites get very touchy about this. I can’t imagine why…

  68. Willard says:

    There’s better than spelling tests:

    Since February our readers must pass a mandatory quiz to comment on our articles. But the world famous quiz has found another use too.

    https://nrkbeta.no/2017/08/10/with-a-quiz-to-comment-readers-test-their-article-comprehension/

  69. Steven Mosher says:

    “Why are people impolite? Which kinds of people tend towards impoliteness? What kind of mediums of exchange tends towards impoliteness (or politeness).”

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2007/12/16/spotting-weather-stations-at-agu-in-sfo/

    A while back I was at an AGU. Anthony came up. He pointed to weird looking guy and said
    “thats rabbit”
    I told Anthony. “Ok, lets go talk to him, I need to apologize”
    Rabbit was nice
    he accepted my apology and said it wasnt necessary.
    charming fellow, much nicer than rabbit.

    Glad he had an open door.

    Long ago on Slate’s Fray we used to have debates about the differences between the meat world and the pixel world. Some folks of course see a sharp divide betwen the meat world and the pixel world. Where the pixel world is a place where we get to wear masks and play. meat world people of course think the pixel world is no joke. pixel world fans think meat worlders are far too serious.
    sticks and stones and all that.

    Now of course people get fired for tweets. so much for the sharp divide between meat and pixel.

    any way, keep the door open.

  70. Steven Mosher says:

    “There’s better than spelling tests:

    Since February our readers must pass a mandatory quiz to comment on our articles. But the world famous quiz has found another use too.’

    Go google hash cash

    and then you will understand the relationship between controlling spam and unwanted comments
    and bitcoin.

  71. jacksmith4tx says:

    Steven,
    I’m in the market for some trust. Did you say you used a U2F key? I’m looking to get one so I would appreciate any suggestions.

  72. Willard says:

    Here could be a good example for the point I made earlier about civility. Take the Sleeping Giants campaign. Its idea is very simple:

    In action:

    So far, 3,928 advertizers made arrangements so that their ads are not shown at Breitbart’s anymore. The recipe is so effective that the Gateway Pundit doxed its founders. The project is still going strong.

    Now, I suppose that it would be possible to find instances of tweets that were not as polite as requested by the project. Yet the campaign to make bigotry and sexism less profitable is exactly what civility ought to be about. Politeness is only one mean civility could take.

    There are many ways to be polite without really be civil.

  73. Steven Mosher says:

    “U2F key”

    No. I dont use one. But I wil be looking at this market ( for possible products)
    If I find anything or make anything of interest I wont be shy about letting yall know

  74. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Long ago on Slate’s Fray we used to have debates about the differences between the meat world and the pixel world.”

    There isn’t one. Your on-line self is the real you. IMHO it is a bit like “in vino veritas” if someone is an “arsehole” on-line (where there is a less of a chance of serious repercussions) it is because they are an “arsehole” (but may try to hide that in the “real” world). If you want to put on masks and play a role, then set up some forum where that is the agreed community expectation, but that shouldn’t be the expectation everywhere on-line.

  75. citizenschallenge said:

    “Learning is the goal, fidelity to physical facts is the gold standard.”

    True.

    One of Dessler’s latest tweets:
    “It’s worth remembering that successful predictions are the gold standard of science. “

    One of the problems is that too many think that predictions are the only way to make a mark. So that’s why Wadhams is even talked about. Working backwards from observation to theory is what usually happens in science, unfortunately that doesn’t make as big an impact.

    This latest bit of media attention being paid to octonions:

    “But rather than seek mathematical answers to the Standard Model’s mysteries, most physicists placed their hopes in high-energy particle colliders and other experiments, expecting additional particles to show up and lead the way beyond the Standard Model to a deeper description of reality. “

    Clearly they are working backwards at this point.

  76. JCH says:

    OT, new paper:

    Drivers of the Low Cloud Response to Poleward Jet Shifts in the North Pacific in Observations and Models

    Abstract

    The long-standing expectation that poleward shifts of the midlatitude jet under global warming will lead to poleward shifts of clouds and a positive radiative feedback on the climate system has been shown to be misguided by several recent studies. On interannual timescales, free tropospheric clouds are observed to shift along with the jet, but low clouds increase across a broad expanse of the North Pacific Ocean basin, resulting in negligible changes in total cloud fraction and top-of-atmosphere radiation. Here it is shown that this low cloud response is consistent across eight independent satellite-derived cloud products. Using multiple linear regression, it is demonstrated that the spatial pattern and magnitude of the low cloud coverage response is primarily driven by anomalous surface temperature advection. In the Eastern North Pacific, anomalous cold advection by anomalous northerly surface winds enhances sensible and latent heat fluxes from the ocean into the boundary layer, resulting in large increases in low cloud coverage. Local increases in low-level stability make a smaller contribution to this low cloud increase. Despite closely capturing the observed response of large-scale meteorology to jet shifts, global climate models largely fail to capture the observed response of clouds and radiation to interannual jet shifts because they systematically underestimate how sensitive low clouds are to surface temperature advection, and to a lesser extent, low-level stability. More realistic model simulations of cloud-radiation-jet interactions require that parameterizations more accurately capture the sensitivity of low clouds to surface temperature advection.

    more here on Zelinka and Zhou

  77. Michael 2 says:

    “I would be very pleased if it were possible to discuss contentious scientific topics without it getting tribal and without the discussions becoming unpleasant.”

    Substitute “religious topics” in the place of “scientific topics”, consider the past few thousand years how successful it has been. Anglicans broke from Roman Catholics. So did Eastern (Greek) Orthodox. Sometimes over matters that seem relatively inconsequential.

    Climate science schisms also exist with different factions espousing different Transient Climate Responses (for instance).

    Pleasant people will converse pleasantly and withdraw from conversations where civility is simply not on the table. But they still VOTE and that is something sometimes overlooked when gauging public sentiment by how much noise is created by this faction or that.

  78. Willard & Dave the Geologist should rethink their criteria for debating Marc Morano-

    Though their numbers are few, the disinformati hunt in packs

  79. Bob Loblaw says:

    On being civil, just using polite words and avoiding personal statements is not enough to be considered civil if you are also constantly stating falsehoods and using non-logical rhetorical and emotional triggers. As others have pointed out, scientific discussion usually expects a significant degree of honesty.

    To create a tangent from the comedic side, I was catching up on episodes of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on the weekend. Last Wednesday’s episode included segments honoring the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela. They had a film clip from Mandela’s early days that included the first half of this quote:

    There are thousands of people who feel that it is useless and futile for us to continue talking peace and non-violence — against a government whose only reply is savage attacks on an unarmed and defenceless people. And I think the time has come for us to consider, in the light of our experiences at this day at home, whether the methods which we have applied so far are adequate.

    https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Nelson_Mandela

    In other words, civility wasn’t getting very far with an opponent that only wanted civility from the other side, without honoring it themselves.

  80. @RussellSeitz,

    I agree regarding Morano.

    But, further, I believe online discussion is being seriously compromised and abused, in the spirit of 45‘s latest don’t-listen-or-pay-attention-to-anything-you-read-or-see-in-the-media rant, instead “Trust me.” Whether it’s that or Russian bot trolls, relying upon stuff seen online is increasingly difficult.

    This is cybercrime moving up in the world. On the retail fraud end, there are simulations of clicks against Web sites which are ARIMA models of human click patterns, designed to evade bot detectors. CAPTCHA? Really? ML algorithms have learned to defeat those readily. We’re not there yet, but there is appreciable concern that combinations of mashups from videos and high fidelity synthetic digital video can create scenes where political opponents are placed giving compromising speeches or in compromised situations.

    The how-do-you-tell-it’s-a-real-person research hasn’t kept up.

  81. Steven Mosher says:

    “There isn’t one. Your on-line self is the real you. IMHO it is a bit like “in vino veritas” if someone is an “arsehole” on-line (where there is a less of a chance of serious repercussions) it is because they are an “arsehole” (but may try to hide that in the “real” world). If you want to put on masks and play a role, then set up some forum where that is the agreed community expectation, but that shouldn’t be the expectation everywhere on-line.”

    I went to a movie once. A character pulled out a gun. Someone in the audience shouted
    “he has a gun!” I was amused.

    The pro pixel people would argue that you can never take the mask off. There is only ever options of which mask to wear. ie no true self.

    Some people thought nabokov was a pervert.

    any way the debate went on. and yes there were folks who argued that you were all your presentations. the surface is the depth. ya. heard that one. hard to falsify.

  82. Steven Mosher says:

    there appears to be little research on it

    https://phys.org/news/2010-05-online-personas-rarely-real-life-behavior.html

    anecdotally, I learned to never construct expectations about the meat world behavior
    of someone I met on line: Best example was tallbloke, second was eli, third was Gavin,
    Lief svalgaard was also different, as was Willis. some were consistent.

  83. dikranmarsupial says:

    michael2

    Substitute “religious topics” in the place of “scientific topics”, consider the past few thousand years how successful it has been. Anglicans broke from Roman Catholics. So did Eastern (Greek) Orthodox. Sometimes over matters that seem relatively inconsequential.

    cherry-picking, you fail to mention the ecumenism of many churches, which means there is quite a lot of constructive dialog between religions/churches.

    Climate science schisms also exist with different factions espousing different Transient Climate Responses (for instance).

    This is simply nonsense. Sure different studies, using different methods, produce different estimates of TCR, but that does not indicate any real schism. I would hope that most climatologists would understand the structural uncertainties involved. Note in the discussions here people have generally not been dismissive of the work of Nic Lewis (and rightly so as it is good work, if perhaps the presentation is a little overstated at times – IMHO).

    If you want my opinion on what causes intemperate discussions, it is sophistry, which always creates a bad impression in a scientific discussion. As Bob rightly says:

    On being civil, just using polite words and avoiding personal statements is not enough to be considered civil if you are also constantly stating falsehoods and using non-logical rhetorical and emotional triggers. As others have pointed out, scientific discussion usually expects a significant degree of honesty.

  84. dikranmarsupial says:

    I went to a movie once. A character pulled out a gun. Someone in the audience shouted
    “he has a gun!” I was amused.

    That is a non-sequitur. A movie isn’t real life, it is a fiction created to entertain. On-line discussions are as real life as any discussion you have at the pub or conversation with friends and colleagues. The main difference is that (i) you may be anonymous and (ii) the repercussions of your behaviour are more limited. Unless other ground rules are agreed by the participants first.

    The pro pixel people would argue that you can never take the mask off. There is only ever options of which mask to wear. ie no true self.

    That seems like sophistry to me. In that case your “true self” is the sum of your behaviour wearing all of the masks. Also what we perceive as being our “true self” probably isn’t, just a presentation provided to us by our sub-conscious, which may not truthfully represent our true motivations, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a “true self” either.

    hard to falsify.

    Not every question is a scientific question. The opposing position is equally hard to falsify.

    Personally I think all this mask wearing business is an excuse for behaving badly. It’s not a very good excuse IMHO. If you want to play at being an “arsehole”, try D&D.

  85. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Online personas rarely match real-life behavior, observers say”

    Our real-life behaviour doesn’t always match our real-world personas either (c.f. Rashomon). If living up to our standards was easy, we would all be doing it! ;o)

  86. Steven Mosher says:

    “That is a non-sequitur. A movie isn’t real life, it is a fiction created to entertain. On-line discussions are as real life as any discussion you have at the pub or conversation with friends and colleagues. The main difference is that (i) you may be anonymous and (ii) the repercussions of your behaviour are more limited. Unless other ground rules are agreed by the participants first.”

    You might want to question some of your assumptions. Is fiction created to entertain, or to delight and instruct. Some people respond to art as if it were real. A good example would be that over pornography. Where some argue that its fiction and the audience would never imitate what it sees, while others argue that audiences will imitate what they see.

    This argument goes back a long time. Ancient Greek stuff. It’s not obvious that any online discussion should not be treated as collaborative theatre.
    Improv if you will.

    As for repercussions. The repercussions dont differentiate the two. Anonymity. A stranger walks into the bar.

  87. Steven Mosher says:

    “That seems like sophistry to me. In that case your “true self” is the sum of your behaviour wearing all of the masks. Also what we perceive as being our “true self” probably isn’t, just a presentation provided to us by our sub-conscious, which may not truthfully represent our true motivations, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a “true self” either.”

    If you argue that the true self is the sum of all appearances then it’s hard to act out of character.
    You are getting closer with the insight that you might not have privileged access to a thing we would call a true self.

    I would avoid all talk of true selves and other metaphysical notions and just say if you try to predict offline behavior from online behavior there will be a class of people you get horribly wrong. In both directions.

  88. Steven Mosher says:

    “Not every question is a scientific question. The opposing position is equally hard to falsify.

    Personally I think all this mask wearing business is an excuse for behaving badly. It’s not a very good excuse IMHO. ”

    True. And because it’s not a scientific question, where we have agreed upon methods, one perhaps might be more circumspect when reaching judgements. As I noted the discussion has gone on for a while. Maybe there is a reason for that.

    But the mask wearing is also for good behavior.

    Hmm. Willard once posted a list of typical personality types you encounter online. Can’t find it, maybe he will post it.

  89. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Is fiction created to entertain, or to delight and instruct. “

    Irrelevant to the point.

    “As for repercussions. The repercussions dont differentiate the two. Anonymity. A stranger walks into the bar.”

    A stranger that walks into a bar and acts like an arsehole is more likely to feel the repercussions than someone being an anonymous arsehole online.

    “If you argue that the true self is the sum of all appearances then it’s hard to act out of character.”

    not really, that would be an outlier, still part of what you are, just a rarely seen part.

    “You are getting closer with the insight that you might not have privileged access to a thing we would call a true self. “

    This is why your on-line behaviour is part of the real you – it is revealing something that you might normally hide because of social repercussions that you might get from a face-to-face meeting.

    “I would avoid all talk of true selves and other metaphysical notions and just say if you try to predict offline behavior from online behavior there will be a class of people you get horribly wrong. In both directions.”

    Again, that is missing the point. Having apparently inconsistent on-line and off-line behaviour doesn’t mean that they are not both equally representative of the same person in the same way alluded to in “in vino veritas”. BTW I don’t think there is anything metaphysical about “the real you”, it just means the balance of motivations and checks that govern our behaviour in different contexts. If you are an “arsehole” when the checks are removed, it means that you are an “arsehole”, but you suppress that part of your nature where it has sufficient negative social repercussions. Different behaviours in different contexts, but a consistent underlying model for both. Some people are “arseholes” but choose to suppress it (with varying degrees of success) even when there are no negative social repercussions – I’d say that was more commendable than not being an “arsehole” to begin with, but from the outside we can’t tell which is which, even with consistent on-line and off-line behaviour.

  90. dikranmarsupial says:

    “True. And because it’s not a scientific question, where we have agreed upon methods, one perhaps might be more circumspect when reaching judgements. ”

    The point was more a sort of Montaigne type introspection. We shouldn’t fool ourselves that on-line mask wearing means that your behaviour doesn’t say something about the real you. It isn’t about “judgement”, I don’t think I have said anything about what the “punishment” should be, or that anybody else is any better or worse than I am, just trying to see things as they are.

    “But the mask wearing is also for good behavior. “

    Indeed, like those who suppress their negative behaviours even when there is no external pressure for them to do so. But that is part of the “real you” as well, just a good part, perhaps the conversation would have reached agreement faster if we’d focussed on good mask wearing.

  91. Dave_Geologist says:

    Though their numbers are few, the disinformati hunt in packs

    I’m well aware of that Russell. I’m a fan of George Carlin.

    Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

    But I’ve also read The Unpersuadables. The Monckton chapter is particularly instructive (assuming he wasn’t pulling a Poe on the interviewer). TL;DR: everything librul since WWII has been fomented by Soviet sleeper agents, who kept on working for decades after their masters disappeared in a puff of reinforced-concrete dust, because they’re doing it for The Cause, not for money.

    Some people can’t be reasoned with. For the sake of humanity, not for the benefit of any particular party, they just have to be defeated. When they win, don’t give up. The winners in the 1930s lost big in the 1940s. Not only did their dreams crumble, but many of them faced a noose or a bullet. In the case of two famous ones, alongside their wife or mistress. It inoculated the West for a generation or two, aided by the spectre of their equally nasty mirror image across the Iron Curtain. Times can change for the better, as well as for the worse.

    And no, I’m not saying that Trump is in that league. But he’s a symptom, not a cause. We all need to be alert to the possibility that it’s pneumonia not flu.

  92. Willard says:

    > A stranger that walks into a bar and acts like an arsehole is more likely to feel the repercussions than someone being an anonymous arsehole online.

    This may undermine the idea that people tend to act the same in person than by way of a screen:

    http://www.flamewarriorsguide.com/

    My online persona is more likeable than I really am.

  93. Bob Loblaw says:

    People can learn to hide their natural tendencies in situations where they realize that their actions can come back to kick them in the butt. Alcohol and the internet tend to shut down the “maybe this isn’t a good idea” restraints, and their inner nature comes out. The “mean drunk” is a good example.

    And since we’ve compared reality to entertainment, there is always the Star Trek episode “Mirror, Mirror”. Kirk. McCoy, Scotty, and Ohura end up switching places with their counterparts in a parallel world with an Evil Empire instead of a benevolent Federation. The good Kirk et al manage to fool the people on the other Enterprise long enough to find a way back, but the bad Kirk et al are obvious to the good Enterprise crew and are more easily contained. It turns out that good people can easily act bad, but it’s really hard for bad people to act good.

    http://www.startrek.com/database_article/mirror-mirror

  94. @Bob_Loblaw,

    IMO, but with some scientific justification, we are each 30-40 personalities (Minsky’s Society of Mind, or Pixar’s Inside Out) and possibly more, each with their own concerns and needs, each influenced by basic needs. We are structured by society (else Lord of the Flies), and, if pressed, could be capable of murder and more. This is our genetic heritage, there because times and circumstances haven’t all been so civil, despite thinking we are uncivil now.

    The injury we do ourselves forgetting our deep evolutionary connection is to forget all this, and relegate people to being just instances of categories.

    But, that said, humanity has a lot to answer for, both for what it has done to the biosphere, and the resources it consumes at an outrageous pace. As David Suzuki points out, we are large animals, there are many of us, and we constitute a lot of biomass, way more than if we relied upon natural means of sustaining ourselves. It is simple perspective, then, to think we are all out on a collective limb, and, with the world being as nonlinear as it is, it would not take much to blast most of us back to a more stable equilibrium.

  95. Eli Rabett says:

    Some odd comments.

    The way to think about Wadhams IEHO is the inverse of LIndzen. Clever guys with interesting ideas that make you think and are wrong. Such people are useful for moving science forward but you have to start by understanding the basic principle. They are wrong

  96. Eli Rabett says:

    All Eli will say to Steve Mosher, is that he left a couple of things out amongst which are Willard Tony’s insistence that Eli cut him for dead. The Bunny has no memory for faces, even in the morning while shaving. There were some other amusing issues raised.

  97. Eli Rabett says:

    Finally something on humor. When somebunny is trying to sell an idiotic idea, you can call him an idiot or better, you can simply show he is one by pointing out the consequences. If you can do this in an amusing way and get the other guy riled up, you will have an effect. Fantasy is a weapon.

  98. @Dave_Geologist,

    And, meanwhile, back at the ranch …

    That’s from

    Susan Solomon, Gian-Kasper Plattner, Reto Knutti, and Pierre Friedlingstein, 2009, PNAS, “Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions”

  99. “The way to think about Wadhams IEHO is the inverse of LIndzen. Clever guys with interesting ideas that make you think and are wrong. Such people are useful for moving science forward but you have to start by understanding the basic principle. They are wrong”

    Is inverse the right word to use here? Should it be complement?
    To me, Lindzen certainly is an enigma. One of his early ideas that I recently came across was that the rings of Saturn would show dynamics that were tidally driven by the planet’s moons.

    Resonant tidal excitation of planetary atmospheres and an explanation for the jets on Jupiter and Saturn, AGU 2017, robert.h.tyler@nasa.gov
    “These results are then used to show strong support for the hypothesis by R. Lindzen that the regular banding (belts/zones/jets) on Jupiter and Saturn are driven by tides. The results also provide important, though less specific, support for a second hypothesis that inflated atmospheres inferred for a number of giant extra-solar planets are due to thermal or gravitational tides.”

  100. Dave_Geologist says:

    hyper, I’m familiar with the Solomons paper. it was a while ago but I assume this is in connection to my mentioning the Myhrrvolds papers?

    The distinction is between going to zero emissions, instantly; and following curves like Solomons’, all of which feature multi-decade declines. Obviously instant cold-turkey is impossible but I do think it’s a useful thought experiment. If you do that, in most models, temperature either flattens (until long-term ESS feedbacks kick in, but the models don’t do that because those feedbacks are omitted). In some it goes up a tiny bit before it declines, but on the scale of the graphs you linked, it would hardly show. It’s useful because:

    1) It’s familiar to me because extracting the impulse response is routine in seismic processing. You can then, in principle, convolve it with any input (= forcing) to get a real-world response. But that’s probably just useful to me because of my background. And it works in seismic because the strains are small, slow and elastic so everything is linear. It doesn’t work so well with sonic logs, because the frequencies are high enough that the response is frequency- and material-dependant. Climate less so because of non-linearities, although I have seen papers on it. I would regard it as a useful model in the sense that it teaches you things about the system and prompts questions to ask, not because it would provide a super-fast climate projector compared to finite-difference models.

    2) It puts the responsibility fairly and squarely with us, and is a counter-argument to “no point rushing at it, 30-50 years of additional warming are locked in whatever we do”. We could stop global warming in its tracks, but it would be so disruptive no-one should advocate it. The analogy I would draw is with an alcoholic going into rehab. “I can’t go cold turkey, it would kill me, I need to be tapered off gently”. Actually you can go cold turkey and it wouldn’t kill you. If you were stranded on a desert island you’d have no choice, and you’d have a really hard time for days, weeks or months, but as long as someone fed and watered you, you wouldn’t die. The papers with Myrhvolds as a collaborator do both the impulse-response version, instructive but unachievable, and then a more realistic set of emissions curves. The impulse-response version can be used to say: “actually, every Gt counts and every 0.01°C rise counts, right here and now”. So every incremental effort will deliver an incremental gain.

  101. Steven Mosher says:

    thanks willard.
    i appreciate that.

    weirdly you rarely meet these characters in the meat world.

    makes one wonder if personality isnt socially constructed. but i do recall one student who i would classify as a troll.

  102. Steven Mosher says:

    Eli i dont have a clear recollection of what anthony said and would not disagree with you if you did.

    my clearest recollection is that you were charming. that i can swear to.
    the same for tallbloke and nick stokes.
    gavin was warm and helpful.
    tim palmer was humble and earnest.
    hans von storch was passionate.

    oh, heller was an ass in the real and pixel world. i imagine dk would be congruent.
    attp, congruent.

  103. @Dave_Geologist,

    No, actually, the comment with the Solomon et al work wasn’t in response to anything specific, just an expression of impatience with discussions of style regarding how these problems should be discussed and solved versus actually solving them. This wasn’t the only place these links were shown. I also shared them with a number of Massachusetts environmental activists who, properly, are urging the conference committee on Beacon Hill to adopt more of the energy bill that passed the Senate here versus the House version which is basically milquetoast. The trouble is that the same activists are hitching provisions about immigration and ICE and social justice to the same. Now while I am no fan of ICE and the present government’s immigration policies, and social and climate justice is important, it is also abundantly clear that the adoption of aggressive zero Carbon energy targets is an uphill climb, one which isn’t helped by piling on an additional 30 pounds of issue irrelevant to the primary case.

    The point of Solomon et al is that stopping emissions freezes rate of damage in place, and delays mean we deal with a higher hazard rate. In fact, given the poor if understandable lack of appreciation for this and for systems with lags, if the day were to come that emissions were zeroed, I wonder if the Publick would not soon think the climate thing was a hoax, for they would not see improvement. Moreover, probably for 10-20 years, things would get worse before leveling out due to inertia.

    It’s just that we are running out of time. And as unlikely as it is, if we are serious about containing this hazard, we need to start thinking about retiring new fossil fuel assets early.

  104. Dave said:

    “It’s familiar to me because extracting the impulse response is routine in seismic processing. You can then, in principle, convolve it with any input (= forcing) to get a real-world response.”

    Climate scientists have a good understanding of impulse responses. Currently I am working on some examples that give counterintuitive results.

  105. Dave_Geologist says:

    Paul, I wasn’t saying climate scientists have a poor understanding of impulse responses. Far from it. Just that while it has the merit of simplicity, it can be misleading in the face of non-linearities. Rather like the discussion a few weeks ago about the relative methods of mathematically elegant, closed-form solutions which give the wrong answer (or more charitably, answer a not-at-all-useful question), and numerical solutions which have their own limitations but at least honour the physics much more closely.

    You can derive the Earth impulse response from an airgun and apply it to model the response to vibroseis input (actually better to do it the other way round, because vibroseis lets you tune the frequency range and power spectrum, so you can focus on the parts that are important or hard to resolve). If you used it to model the response at the kilohertz frequencies of a sonic log, you’d get a counter-intuitive answer. Which would also be the wrong answer, as is easily demonstrated by firing up a sonic tool and seeing whether prediction matches reality. Even for shear waves, which might seem counter-intuitive because at those displacement magnitudes, it’s pore fluids that cause the problem and shear waves can’t pass through fluids*. These characteristics are exploited in multi-receiver, multi-frequency tools like the Sonic Scanner (TM), where you can derive a lot more rock properties and map them at different distances from the borehole. I don’t know how much of that is linearisation and how much numerical brute force, because the algorithms are trade secrets. The major vendors do have test facilities where they can demonstrate that they give an acceptable result in a hole with a known set of properties.

    It’s probably counter-intuitive and wrong for earthquakes too, because gravity has to be taken into account, the strains are too large to be elastic, and there are typically material-property-changes due to heat, grain-crushing and fluid reactions.

    * The key point is that although the sound doesn’t pass through the pore fluids, if the pore throats are small enough and the fluid is viscous enough, the pore fluid stays in its original pores and moves laterally with the pore walls. That increases the effective density of the medium, and density comes into the equation for shear wave velocity. You can demonstrate that in your bathroom with a loofah (I didn’t invent this explanation). Hang it downwards, dry, and wiggle it sideways until you find a resonant frequency. Now dip it in bathwater and repeat. You should find a different resonant frequency. And splash the walls 😦 . When only some of the fluid moves through the pore throats, it gets very complicated. In principle, you could probably linearise everything and still use convolution. In practice, it’s probably easier just to jump to a numerical model

  106. Dave_Geologist says:

    My misunderstanding hyper.

    Yes, it’s tough explaining complicated things to the public. And tougher still persuading politicians to look farther ahead than the next election 😦 .

    “We’ve been conned, we made the sacrifice and it’s still warming” is a risk. So, BTW, is the too-positive spin (IMHO) that was put on Paris by the, shall we say, friendly press. I don’t think most people realise that we haven’t yet committed to (in domestic action) the 2°C target, and when countries do start to take action it needs to be very clear that these aren’t 1.5°C commitments. Otherwise we’ll get “fooled me once, shame on you….” when we implement the next tranche. Although in reality I’ve given up on 1.5°C. I think the best we can hope for is to do the things we should be doing now, which could have led to 1.5°C, but years too late so the best we can hope for is 2°C.

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