Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Matt Ridley let's debate your "What the climate wars did to science"

{edited for typos and some minor additions 19:30 MDT }

Matt Ridley I've been reading your "What the climate wars did to science" and I'll give it to you, it's one piece of work.  From the bizarre comparison of "Lysenkoism" with two centuries worth of climate science; to your championing that artful misinformer JimSteele (a person who regularly attacks scientists based on misrepresenting the facts, while hiding from debating the merits of his storyline.); then you pile on the malicious Dr. Parmesan slander campaign (while lying about what her paper actually says); etc.; finishing with that lofty plea to 'keep the debate alive'.  It really is too much, still I'm thinking you want a debate, Okay, let's have a debate!  

I believe I can explain why your words are such deceptive theater while outlining the difference between your brand of 'playing games for short term political gain' and scientists commitment to learning in order to understand reality as it is, rather than how we wish it could be.

I challenge you, Matt Ridley, to participate in this public "debate" by rationally explaining why you might disagree with my assessment.  I will post your comments unaltered - I'll even consider a "guest post" from you, if it contains a substantive rational response.

We'll see how it goes.  Since your blog post was six thousand words long and I have very limited free time these days, and people have limited patience, I'll be doing this is smaller segments.  Here I review your first 450 words.


What the climate wars did to science
Published on Sunday, July 05, 2015, updated Sunday, July 05, 2015 
by Matt Ridley - at the so-called  -  5950 words

Policy-based evidence making is all too frequent in climate science

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Recurrent Fury: Conspiratorial Discourse in the Blogosphere

Looks like a double-header considering the noteworthy article by Dana Nuccitelli that SkS shared this morning.  The reason is that I know all too well that implying a grand conspiracy, denigrating scientists and the reactionary dismissal of the significance of a "97% consensus" among actual experts regarding the causes and dangers of society's relentless injection of atmospheric insulation (read greenhouse gases) are about all we can get out of climate science contrarians these days, so I thought this was a must article to add to this collection.

It's about a new study:  "Recurrent Fury: Conspiratorial Discourse in the Blogosphere Triggered by Research on the Role of Conspiracist Ideation in Climate Denial"
By Stephan Lewandowsky, John Cook, Klaus Oberauer, Scott Brophy, Elisabeth A. Lloyd, Michael Marriott

Climate denial linked to conspiratorial thinking in new study

Posted on 8 July 2015 by dana1981

A new study has examined the comments on climate science-denying blogs and found strong evidence of widespread conspiratorial thinking. The study looks at the comments made in response to a previous paper linking science denial and conspiracy theories.

Motivated rejection of science

Three years ago, social scientists Lewandowsky, Oberauer, and Gignac published a paper in the journal Psychological Science titled NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science

The paper detailed the evidence the scientists found that, using survey data provided by visitors to climate blogs, those exhibiting conspiratorial thinking are more likely to be skeptical of scientists’ conclusions about vaccinations, genetically modified foods, and climate change. This result was replicated in a follow-up study using a representative U.S. sample that obtained the same resultlinking conspiratorial thinking to climate denial.

Of course science denial and conspiracies go hand in hand

This shouldn’t be a terribly shocking result. When confronted with inconvenient science, those in denial often reject the evidence by accusing the experts of fraud or conspiracies. We saw a perfect example of this behavior just a few weeks ago. When scientists at NOAA published a paper finding that there was no ‘pause’ in global warming, one of the most common responses from those in denial involved the conspiratorial accusation that the scientists had somehow fudged the data at the behest of the Obama administration.

Nevertheless, nobody likes being characterized as a conspiracy theorist, and so those in the denial blogosphere reacted negatively to the research of Lewandowsky and colleagues. Ironically, many of the attacks on the study involved conspiratorial accusations, which simply provided more data for the social scientists to analyze. For example, the authors were accused of everything from faked data to collusion between Lewandowsky and the Australian government.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Adam Corner, Announcing the "Uncertainty Handbook"

Adam Corner has written a helpful overview of a new handbook for folks who want to try their hand at communicating climate science to a broader audience.  I downloaded the "Uncertainty Handbook" this evening and found it concise, easy to read and filled with simple logical advice for anyone who want's to engage this important issue. 

I feel it belongs in this collection and thanks to's Creative Commons license I'm able to reprint it over here:


Announcing the Uncertainty Handbook

Posted on 6 July 2015 by Guest Author at

by Adam Corner
Have you ever struggled with the communication of climate change uncertainties? Are you frustrated by climate sceptics using uncertainty - inherent in any area of complex science - as a justification for delaying policy responses? Then the new ‘Uncertainty Handbook’ - a collaboration between the University of Bristol and the Climate Outreach & Information Network (COIN) - is for you. The handbook was authored by Dr. Adam Corner (COIN), Professor Stephan Lewandowsky (University of Bristol), Dr Mary Phillips (University of Bristol) and Olga Roberts (COIN). All are experts in their fields and have expertise relating to the role of uncertainty in climate change or how best to communicate it.

The Handbook distills the most important research findings and expert advice on communicating uncertainty into a few pages of practical, easy-to-apply techniques, providing scientists, policymakers and campaigners with the tools they need to communicate more effectively around climate changeDownload the report here, and check out our 12 principles for more effectively communicating climate change uncertainty

Sunday, June 21, 2015

In the shadow of "Seepage" considering our climate system

(final edit 12:30pm, June 21)
To appreciate "Seepage" within the climate science community we must first understand the fundamental scientific reality that the Republican / libertarian's strategic attack on science keeps drawing us further away from (while actively striving to replace honest curiosity and learning with ideological absolutism and rank tribal hostility towards serious climate scientists).

Goal of this article: A) To convey a recognition and appreciation of the fundamental components of our planet's climate system.  B)  To explain the difference between "Global Surface Temperature" and the "Global Temperature" (Something everyone conflates way the heck too often!).

Our Earth's climate is a global heat and moisture distribution engine consisting of three major components.

There's the atmosphere with it's distinctive layers, the lowest one is called the troposphere, it's where our weather lives.  The troposphere varies in height from around five miles at the poles up to around twelve miles at the equator.  

The troposphere is held in place and insulated from space by the stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and finally the exosphere topping out in the neighborhood of three hundred miles - actually, on the leeward side of Earth it goes way beyond, but that's a different story.

Fortunately for life, our atmosphere contains certain greenhouse gases that act to slow down the heat escaping from the surface thus acting as insulation that keeps our planet livable.  The troposphere holds pretty much all the water in the atmosphere, scientists calculate it adds up to a little over 3,000 cubic miles of liquid water.  If spread over the Earth's surface it would amount to an inch

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Considering the two species of debate.

          This was inspired by another comment over at Emily Blegvad's global warming documentary "The Science Behind Global Warming" a very nice effort by a high school student to explain our understanding of manmade global warming. 

Unfortunately the YouTube comments thread has been haunted by a few nasty characters who aren't at all interested in the video, or climate science, they just want to throw insults at us the "brainwashed", "=ucking gullible", and such lovely stuff.  As you can image, it's been a lively and weird comments thread and all sadly distracting from what Emily's documentary was all about.  

But, it does offer learning opportunities, here's a comment that makes for a perfect introduction into describing the anatomy of the two types of public debate.
  Emily, the ingredients to a good debate includes not joining in with herd mentality and siding with bullies that see it ok to attack people personally, that is actually "hate mongering", or are you still in kindergarten?  
And you never thought it was worth defending yourself from my original comments...which are now gone.*  
You see, in this world if you buy into things like this you have to be prepared to defend what you are promoting and not put your fingers in your ears and sing lalalalalala, you belong more to a cult than anything else sweetheart

As it happens I've given 'debate' lots of thought so let me share what I've learned.  (* Incidentally, I don't think anything was deleted.)

A debate is supposed to be about the information each side presents, it's examination and rebuttal - it has nothing to do herds or anything like that.  Also very important to understand is that there are two distinct kinds of debate.  

There's the Political/Lawyerly Debate where winning is everything.  Truth and understanding play second fiddle to winning.  In fact, quite often understanding is the enemy and much effort goes into confusing issues, rather than clarifying.

Then there's the Scientific/Learning Debate where each side argues their understanding using the evidence they have amassed.  You listen to your opponent,  you weigh their evidence according to your own understanding - then the 'other side' has their go at it.  There is an expectation to honestly relay ones evidence and yes, egos and good rhetoric play their part, but in the end it's all about the evidence and understanding the question as well as possible that matters.  

What that means is that if I am shown to be mistaken by the strength of the evidence, I accept it, bruised ego and all.  Because, learning from my mistakes give depth to my understanding of why things are as they are.    

The scientific community is all about a learning experience and always striving for better understanding our reality.  That's where the victory is.

It's not about ruthless defense of ego and ideology, it's about learning!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

and now the ugly side of the AGW dialogue.

{updated with comments June 18 evening.}
Here we have Lee Stamper, he's been commenting at YouTube on a video I featured over here on May 4th, he doesn't pretend to be interested in understanding climate science. He's just pissed off and likes verbally attacking "alarmists".   

Since there's no substance to discuss, the only reason I'm devoting a blog post to him is because his verbal abuse has just crossed over the line into the threat territory. Thus, I'll document it over here.

Lee Stamper you are welcome to comment over here, please explain why are you so over the top upset with me?
The Science Behind Global Warming (Documentary) 

Lee Stamper  3:30 PM | June 17, 2015  -  Writes: 
+citizenschallengeYT    now since you think you know everything about me I can see you have never been in the military bozo..if you know everything about me tell me how many Viet Cong I have notches on my knife for ? better look over your sholder you may piss the wrong person off next time

Hello Pascal Bruckner, two years and still waiting . . .

I was looking at WUWTW stats this morning and noticed that within the past day my review of Pascal Bruckner's "Fanaticism and the Apocalypse" received another 7 views (I never claimed to being a hugely visited site.) still in the two years since I wrote it, its received 2,165 views and all of one comment and that was a pathetic one-line drive-by. ( I don't call WUWTW a virtual dialogue for nothing ;- ).  

Still I'm constantly amazed that one of my most visited reviews involves the work of a "philosopher" who's bread and butter is weaving together fantastical head-trips that never need to touch on the actual physical realities of living on this planet.  Well, not beyond book sales, that is.

By coincidence, tomorrow is the second anniversary of that article so I figure I may as well give it a mention and remind Pascal I'm still waiting.  Who knows eventually maybe I can get a response.  Although I doubt it.  I imagine Pascal isn't the least bit interested in a critical review of his writing, or in actual constructive learning, nor in acknowledging the physical evidence.  Monsieur Pascal Brucker I invite you to show me where you believe I'm mistaken and that you are about more than selling books.

But, I won't be holding my breath.  If nothing else, this will serve as another reminder of the phoniness of his writings.

Pascal Bruckner's "Fanaticism of the Apocalypse" - A Citizen's Response
AGW denial industry, AGW educational links, carbon footprint as original sin, Pascal Bruckner, The Gallic Gadfly, WUWT

Pascal Bruckner a professional thinker who's been described as the "Gallic Gadfly" and "a goad, a self-declared man of the left who considers the influence of leftist ideology on contemporary France to have been, by and large, disastrous..." {see The Gallic Gadfly }.  

Thus it was odd to see Anthony WUWT embracing him, but who knows what's going on at WUWT these days.  In any event, I'm tired of stuff like this going unopposed so here's another critical review together with a few selected educational videos and links to sources that help describe some of the scientific aspects of climatology that Bruckner seems unaware of.  (link)

As for that comment: