Scientists Often Pigeonholed by Political Debates

by Judith Curry

This post takes its title from the NPR interview with Richard Muller, Director of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project.

Other sites that are discussing Muller’s interview include:

My favorite excerpts from the interview:

CONAN: And is it accurate to describe you as a climate change skeptic?

Prof. MULLER: I don’t think so. I’m just a scientist. People want to pigeonhole everybody in this field just to simplify the argument. They want you to be either a warmist or a skeptic or something like that. And that tends to make the argument sound like it’s a case of law in which you have lawyers arguing both sides. In fact, scientists need to be properly skeptical, and the debate is never closed. A scientific issue should always address questions that are raised and some of the skeptics raised very good questions, and I wanted to answer them.

CONAN: How much of that is attributable to humans? But do you agree that at least – does the data show that at least some part of it is attributable to humans?

Prof. MULLER: Yes, yes. It’s us. People call me a skeptic, because I drew attention to many of the exaggerations that in – is in former Vice President Al Gore’s movie. But I think a scientist has to recognize when there are exaggerations and settle down on what is solidly known. Temperature has been rising over the last 100 years. That’s pretty clear. How much is due to varying solar activity and how much due to humans is a scientific issue that we’re trying to address.

CONAN: And when this testimony came out, did you come to the impression that you had been expected to say something else?

Prof. MULLER: No, I didn’t. I have created a new project here in Berkeley – we call it Berkeley Earth – that is doing a reexamination of the global warming issue. We are addressing all of the issues that have been raised – all the legitimate issues that have been raised by the people called the skeptics. And there are some legitimate issues there. Because we listen to the skeptics, we got misclassified as a skeptical group. We’re no more skeptical than any other scientist should be skeptical.

CONAN: Do you find that, though, there is a lot of ideology in this business?

Prof. MULLER: Well, I think what’s happened is that many scientists have gotten so concerned about global warming, correctly concerned I mean they look at it and they draw a conclusion, and then they’re worried that the public has not been concerned, and so they become advocates. And at that point, it’s unfortunate, I feel that they’re not trusting the public. They’re not presenting the science to the public. They’re presenting only that aspect to the science that will convince the public. That’s not the way science works. And because they don’t trust the public, in the end the public doesn’t trust them. And the saddest thing from this, I think, is a loss of credibility of scientists because so many of them have become advocates.

CONAN: And that’s, you would say, would be at the heart of the so-called Climategate story, where emails from some scientists seemed to be working to prevent the work of other scientists from appearing in peer-reviewed journals.

Prof. MULLER: That really shook me up when I learned about that. I think that Climategate is a very unfortunate thing that happened, that the scientists who were involved in that, from what I’ve read, didn’t trust the public, didn’t even trust the scientific public. They were not showing the discordant data. That’s something that – as a scientist I was trained you always have to show the negative data, the data that disagrees with you, and then make the case that your case is stronger. And they were hiding the data, and a whole discussion of suppressing publications, I thought, was really unfortunate. It was not at a high point for science

And I really get even more upset when some other people say, oh, science is just a human activity. This is the way it happens. You have to recognize, these are people. No, no, no, no. These are not scientific standards. You don’t hide the data. You don’t play with the peer review system. We don’t do that at Berkeley.

CONAN: And Richard Muller, that’s – you get to the point where – obviously policy decisions are involved in this and people do have a stake in how it comes out and they do care very much what the science says.

Prof. MULLER: Well, I think the key thing here is for scientists to stick with the science. I don’t know – I don’t have personal experience with scientists who have been silenced. I think, in fact, most people on the field of global warming have been well-heard.

CONAN: On all sides.

Prof. MULLER: Yes, on all sides. And the one thing that I think really I would encourage is that one should not play this credentials game in which you say ignore so and so, he has no credentials in this field.

In fact, in science, no matter who raises the question, it’s a valid question. Whether it’s a citizen, another scientist or a politician, you have to be able to address these questions. And if they are scientific questions, genuinely they can be addressed. I believe that what makes science separate from many other disciplines is that in the end we all agree on the science. It’s that small realm of knowledge on which knowledgeable people will in the end reach agreement.

Prof. MULLER: Well, I agree. And I’d like to draw the distinction between a scientist and a layman. A layman is someone who is easily fooled and even fools himself. A scientist, in contrast, is someone who’s easily fooled and even fools himself and knows it and takes measures to undo that. Science has to be objective. We can’t be advocates. We have to objective. And to the extent we’re not, we’re no longer being science – scientists.

I thought the Michael Crichton book actually raise a lot of issues. I have some sympathy for the people in the field because they’re working really hard. The other groups that have measured global warming are working – many of them are working very, very hard to try to update and get better measurements, and they’re besieged with questions. It’s a full-time job, if you’re going to do nothing other than just answer the blogs and answer the public criticism.

But I felt the Crichton book raised some good issues, and there are issues that need to be addressed. We’re trying to address them maybe in more detail than other people have because we have a fresh start. We have the full set of data and we’re doing a new analysis.

CONAN: Well, given the analysis that you reached, aren’t there urgent policy decisions that need to be made?

Prof. MULLER: Oh, that’s the irony. The policy decisions are so urgent that people tend to abandon the scientific method. It’s ironic that when something’s important, they sometimes feel they have to not be so candid and unbiased because it’s urgent. I think just the opposite. When things are urgent, that’s the time the scientist has to settle down and show – do things using the unbiased methods that they’ve been taught.

JC summary: very well said Professor Muller!


258 responses to “Scientists Often Pigeonholed by Political Debates

  1. Thank you, Professor Curry, for bringing up this issue.

    We seem to be “wired” for simple answers, just like computers: yes/no, 1/0, good/bad

    We each have to fight that tendency to “pigeonhole” others.

    • Indeed. Like “do you believe in AGW”? We’re never going to have a prayer of a chance of getting useful answers until we can properly formulate the question. And I have yet to see the question well formulated. the properly formulated question not only involves climate, but biology, geochemistry, economics, and technology forecasting. And those last two are buggers.

      • Scientists have been trained to pigeonhole challenges to mainstream dogma, like “do you believe in SSM” (Standard Solar Model)?

        No, it is absolute nonsense promoted by government-funded solar physicists who almost all used the same computer programs to examine helioseismology data — everyone, that is, except Peter Toth [1] and Carl Rouse [2,3].

        1. Peter Toth, “Is the Sun a pulsar?” [Nature 270, 159-160 (1977)].
        http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v270/n5633/abs/270159a0.html

        2. Carl A. Rouse,”Evidence for a small, high-Z, iron-like solar core. II. Agreements with observed frequencies of oscillation in the five minute band” [Astron. Astrophys. 149, 65-72 (1985)].
        http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1986SoPh..106..205R

        3. Carl A. Rouse, “Calculation stellar structure. IV. Results using a detailed energy generation subroutine” [Astron. Astrophys. 304, 431-439 (1995)].
        http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1995A%26A…304..431R

        The brilliant work of these two solar physicists [1-3] continues to be ignored by mainstream scientists and government research agencies, even after space-age measurements revealed irrefutable evidence of excess lightweight isotopes in the solar wind and excess lightweight s-products in the photosphere from mass fractionation.

        http://www.omatumr.com/abstracts2005/LunarAbstract.pdf

        Conclusion: Government science (astronomy, astrophysics, cosmology, biology, climatology, geochemistry, economics, nuclear and particle physics, solar and space science, etc.) became the tool of government propaganda, just as Eisenhower warned might happen in his farewell address to the nation on 17 January 1961.

        With kind regards,
        Oliver K. Manuel

  2. With regard to “I don’t have personal experience with scientists who have been silenced…”. I do. I got a quote I would love to use to promote The Hockey Stick Illusion…a lovely bit of blurb from a well-known academic with sterling credentials. However, the commenter asked for privacy…not wanting to incure the wrath of the “team”. He already had trouble when straying from the activist playbook on another matter…and did not want to repeat the unpleasant experience. It will be a great day when more establishment academics feel safe in revealing their true opinions.

    • Heh, I suspect as this develops, that Muller will become aware of more scientists who’ve silenced themselves. Muller himself did so, until the mess became too egregious to ignore.
      ============

  3. I’m beginning to think this Muller dude might be alright. He has now specifically rejected the most common alarmist interpretation of his Congressional testimony, that is that his 2% sample shows anything relevant. I’d not heard that from him before.

    But, a question from a more brief quote of his that Judy put on another thread. He speaks of ‘solid science’ backing the AGW proposition. I’d like to know what he calls ‘solid science’. Is it the radiative effect of CO2 as demonstrated in the laboratory? Surely it’s not the net effect of CO2 in the atmosphere. Surely it’s not the output of the models. Neither of these is ‘solid’.

    So what is solid?
    =======

    • kim,

      I think he may be saying that it’s solid science that the greenhouse effect warms the lower portions of the earth’s atmosphere and surface, CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that as concentrations of CO2 increase, the greenhouse effect will increase.

      From a qualitative standpoint, that’s a fairly robust model for explaining the long-time series increase in globally averaged temperatures. There is far from quantitative agreement with most recent generation Global Circulation Models, however, as you point out.

      The next question becomes, why do we care about globally averaged anything when accounting for people’s lives and safety? I’m still waiting the storm that conversation is going to start.

      • This is referring to the missing trophospheric hotspot yes?

        “CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that as concentrations of CO2 increase, the greenhouse effect will increase.

        From a qualitative standpoint, that’s a fairly robust model for explaining the long-time series increase in globally averaged temperatures”

        except it blithly ingore the inherant complexities and feedbacks of a missive, chaotic system.

      • Labmunkey,

        ‘except it blithly ingore the inherant complexities and feedbacks of a missive, chaotic system.’

        Yes, and to get quantitative agreement, you probably have to get those right.

        For a better example of the utility of this reasoning, one can ignore relativistic coupling between the orbital and spin angular momenta of an electron in a hydrogen atom to get qualitative agreement with emission spectra. That is, the energy levels calculated ignoring spin-orbit coupling are good with respect to the experiment within 90%.

        So we can ignore the chaotic nature of climate to get a good qualitative picture of how human emitted CO2 affects globally average temperature for long times. I also pointed out above that I don’t find this conclusion very meaningful because no one lives in a globally averaged world.

      • Interesting- but wouldn’t that only apply if the chaotic aspects were at least roughly predictable? You can say that for electrons, but not i’d wager for climate.

        Or did i miss the point? :-)

      • Labmunkey,

        I’m saying that for a low order, qualitative understanding of the hydrogen atom energy levels, we can ignore higher order relativistic effects.

        Similarly, to get a qualitative understanding of atmospheric dynamics, we can ignore chaotic effects over long times. I’m beginning to think that 30 years is not long enough, but maybe 100 years is.

        This assumes that chaotic effects average out, of course, with which you may have a point to contend. But so far do not have a firm grasp on a physical mechanism whose inverse frequency is on the order of several decades that is not the sun and its total output.

        I’ve always wondered how fluctuations (possibly chaotic) in the spectral output of the sun affect climate, but that’s only at the speculation stage at this point. Those fluctuations also likely have much shorter time scales.

      • “From a qualitative standpoint, that’s a fairly robust model for explaining the long-time series increase in globally averaged temperatures. ”

        Please define “long-time sseries”. With no extra CO2 we warmed out of the LIA.

      • mkelly,

        ‘Please define “long-time series”.

        The last 100 years is what most people mean in this context. That is also what I meant.

      • So what caused the almost 3000 years of warmer temperatures in the early Holocene (Holocene Optimum).

      • I don’t know.

    • He has now specifically rejected the most common alarmist interpretation of his Congressional testimony, that is that his 2% sample shows anything relevant.

      The “warmist” argument is that his testimony was an announcement of preliminary results – that are consistent with previous analysis of temperature records.

      You know, kim, just because you hear “believers/convinced” saying things in your head, it doesn’t mean that they’re actually saying those things.

      What is ironic here, is that I read many “skeptics/deniers”‘ hyperventilating about Muller’s testimony – an indication that they were considering it to be of some deep significance.

      • Damned Skeptic

        Isn’t this the kind of arguing that this blog is trying to get away from? It’s just more provoke, defend, attack. Kim’s claim that there is a most common alarmist interpretation seems no more likely than your implication that no believers/convinced are spinning Dr. Muller’s testimony to give it significance that it doesn’t have.

      • Yeah – you may be right about that. Muller is pretty heavily attacked from both sides, but I just paid a visit to Climate Progress, which has this fairly misleading sentence:

        Last week, the deniers were unhappy that climatologist Ken Caldeira emailed me that BEST’s initial results “confirm the reality of global warming and support in all essential respects the historical temperature analyses of the NOAA, NASA, and HadCRU.”

        So they are out there. It’s misleading to say that initial results “confirm the reality of global warming.” Still, those same folks spend a lot of time assailing Muller’s credibility.

        It’s fair to say, I think, that it’s a mess all around.

      • Damned Skeptic

        I couldn’t tell if the draft Ken Caldeira referred to is the 2% test run, but the Climate Progress narrative about the BEST study is a good example of spin. Feb. 14 it’s a story about the implosion and death of a not bad idea; March 21 BEST raises from grave and confirms reality of global warming; March 29 defend the recently resurrected BEST against attack by Anthony Watts. If Climate Progress is “The Web’s most influential climate-change blogger”, then Gaia have mercy on ours souls.

  4. I thought this question was really interesting,

    ‘Well, given the analysis that you reached, aren’t there urgent policy decisions that need to be made?’

    It assumes that science prescribes policy, which is something that we’ve come to assume for reasons that are still hard for me to understand. If there were no warming, would that mean we shouldn’t decarbonize the economy?

    Not necessarily in my opinion.

    And given the complexity of the current situation, because there is some warming doesn’t mean we can even do anything about it in terms of policy for the US or the developed world.

    But I think that Prof. Mueller is correct in his final assessment. It’s when the stakes are the highest that a scientist’s perspective must remain as objective as possible. That’s when the science itself has to be as good as it can be.

    I agree that was well said. I hope more researchers buy into that idea.

    • Well, your larger point is a good one, but I’m not sure that I agree that the question assumes science prescribes policy–at least if “science” is taken to mean the scientific method, rather than simply a name for a particular interest group made up of people for whose livelihood depends on research dollars. In fact, wasn’t Muller’s response pointing out exactly that?

      I think I was in 7th grade or so when I noticed that people took things Carl Sagan said seriously, even when they were neither scientific propositions, nor having anything to do with his area of expertise. My freshman year, when people asked me why I was a physics major, I told them, “Because I want to be able to tell people things and have them believe me for no good reason.”

      Scientists largely replaced priests in our civilization, because their methods proved better at predicting the future in certain demonstrable ways. But civilization hasn’t really embraced science, per se. It’s just exchanged one set of priests for another.

      • Q,

        we live in a democracy. As such, all actors have a right to voice their opinion on action. That sets up science as a way to assess risks that society or portions of society faces. The political system then determines how to manage those risks based on popular support.

        Also, even if the science is done with the utmost certainty and the most rigorous method, I still don’t think it picks out a policy prescription.

        Look at smoking. It has been causally linked to cancer and higher care costs, yet many different states have taken different policies toward managing smoking in the public. Some have banned it and others have not. The science is there, but different people have different incentives for different behaviors and those play out in the political system, not the lab. Nor should they play out in the lab.

      • Yup–that’s what I took as your larger point. Of course, there are at least two reasons for this. One is that the project of governing human beings is too complex to be reduced to even a large set of questions that are suitable for scientific investigation. (But that’s at the root of our disagreement on another thread.) But the more important, I think, is that reductionist analysis is inherently limited to providing contingent answers. In some cases, a policy choice may be shown to be better or worse for entirely practical reasons, but in most cases policy choices are ultimately dictated by our tastes in objectives.


    • ‘Well, given the analysis that you reached, aren’t there urgent policy decisions that need to be made?’

      It assumes that science prescribes policy, which is something that we’ve come to assume for reasons that are still hard for me to understand.

      I think that’s how it’s presented as part of selling the “fix”. Assume a problem that supports your fix, shuffle it out to “experts” (can be scientists, but doesn’t have to be) to get your statement that there is a problem, then go do what you wanted to to begin with. Maybe that’s suing over breast implants, maybe it’s cap and trade, who knows. In journalism, all you have to do is select quotes.

      Scientists and Doctors are used because they are both highly regarded professions, with a certain air of knowledgeable impartiality.

      • Harold,

        ‘Assume a problem that supports your fix, shuffle it out to “experts” (can be scientists, but doesn’t have to be) to get your statement that there is a problem, then go do what you wanted to to begin with.’

        That might be the case with some involved in this issue, but it’s still interesting to me. When I look at the climate change issue, even if I were convinced the science to be correct unequivocally, I still wouldn’t agree that the most robust decision would be to cut emissions. If we are exposing ourselves to more risk associated with natural disasters, which seems to be the main risks we would run in the near term (a couple hundred years) based on the mainstream AGW arguments, then I would support more funding to defend against the risks of natural disasters. Not reducing emissions.

        So it may very well be that the ends (decarbonization of the economy) are driving the means (climate change), but I just wonder if some of these folks haven’t heard the old saying that ‘there’s more than one way to skin a cat’. Because the means in the case could produce a different end.

        Then what?

      • Maxwell-
        “When I look at the climate change issue, even if I were convinced the science to be correct unequivocally, I still wouldn’t agree that the most robust decision would be to cut emissions. If we are exposing ourselves to more risk associated with natural disasters, which seems to be the main risks we would run in the near term (a couple hundred years) based on the mainstream AGW arguments, then I would support more funding to defend against the risks of natural disasters. Not reducing emissions.”

        Sorry about the long quote. I agree on all points. Natural disasters have excellent (low uncertainty) numbers to use for decision making. One of my concerns about allocating money for unlikely events (the precautionary principle) is there are a quite a few unlikely events. We’re basically faced with a “gambler’s ruin” type of situation, where we have a probability of “going broke” before we solve the correct problem(s). In my first industry job, the R&D budget for my area was relatively small. There was no chance to evaluate all the possible technological improvements which could be incorporated into the next product cycle. The solution to this was to do small R&D efforts on the competing potential improvements – just enough to have the background to be able to put together a crash program to catch up if the choices we made were wrong. The majority of resources went into pursuing the improvements / innovations we already committed to.

        I’m all for dams to prevent flooding and similar efforts. Hydro could even be put into the dams. Regulations, however,

      • OOPS! My cat hit the post button (honest). To finish the last sentence – regulations are causing dams to be removed. There’s a list of dams slated for removal nationally – two dams close to me are being removed.

    • andrew adams

      Maxwell,

      I don’t think it does assume that science prescribes policy. The fact that one concludes that there are “urgent policy decisions that need to be made” does not in itself mean that one is advocating specific policies, merely that the issue in hand has potentially serious implications and we need to consider how we will respond to the particular threat.

      Which is not to say that scientists should not have opinions on the merits of specific policies, or that they shouldn’t have input when “scientific” solutions are proposed.

      • andrew,

        ‘…merely that the issue in hand has potentially serious implications and we need to consider how we will respond to the particular threat.’

        That’s a policy prescription.

        Here’s the point I’m making. We face many ‘threats’. Most of the ‘threats’ from climate change would actually exist without a human-forced increase to the greenhouse effect. Hurricanes, floods, droughts, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes will continue to occur under any climate scenario. Yet, those scientific facts are not enough to necessitate ‘urgent policy decisions’.

        So it’s the science of climate change and the human influence of it that is pushing some in the media and many in the public to the notion that ‘something’ has to be done. To me at least, that is a specific scientific conclusion prescribing ‘action’.

        Now you may have a point that the reporter here is not saying explicitly that the ‘policy decisions’ involved deal with emissions. I assumed that was what the reporter meant. But given what many in the media (especially NPR) frame this issue in their stories, I don’t think that’s a bad assumption.

        I think your comment is a good case where we can read the same thing and make two ‘good’ conclusions as to its meaning. I also think that such a situation can be very effectively mapped onto the ‘policy decision-making’ vector space to show just how individuals use their background knowledge to reach a conclusion. And I don’t think one of us is more right or wrong in that instance either.

        That is the essence of politics. An essence most in our political system seem to ignore.

  5. Yes, a number of skeptics have been silenced. It is my understanding Steve McIntyre has submitted a number of papers which have not been published. Knowing Steve, it is not because the papers do not have merit. John Christy has also written about a paper he wrote the team silenced. I believe Roger Pielke has as well. Silencing skeptics is a big part of the game plan but it has had only mixed success. A number of skeptic papers have been published and more are being published. But the field is still lop-sided.

    • There’s silencing and there’s goal tending. I’d call what is being done goal tending – keep the paper out of the prestigious climate research journals. I view this as the editors’ fault, there’s no way they don’t know what is going on.

  6. They were not showing the discordant data. That’s something that – as a scientist I was trained you always have to show the negative data, the data that disagrees with you, and then make the case that your case is stronger.

    Indeed.

    Since coming here, I have been told that it is not necessary to show negative data and prove that your case is stronger.

    In fact, someone linked a clip where we were told that science works in exactly the opposite way: that scientists invariably, actively disregard negative data as they try to prove their theses, and that objective analysis is only achieved after they’ve died and (potentially) been disproven by someone else.

  7. It’s not just scientists who are pigeonholed. Everyone seems to want to be able to wrap people up in nice little packages. Convinced and unconvinced fall across political, religious, and ethnic lines. It’s rather simplistic to expect all white male libertarians to be skeptics (hmm…wonder who does that). Likewise, it’s equally naive to equate recognition of warming and anthropogenic influence to being a card-carrying Stalinist (you know who you are). If it’s “with us 100% or against us”, that’s a lot of “against”.

  8. Prof. MULLER: Oh, that’s the irony. The policy decisions are so urgent that people tend to abandon the scientific method. It’s ironic that when something’s important, they sometimes feel they have to not be so candid and unbiased because it’s urgent. I think just the opposite. When things are urgent, that’s the time the scientist has to settle down and show – do things using the unbiased methods that they’ve been taught.

    Bravo.

    • I seriously doubt that many scientists’ first inclination in that kind of situation is to lie. I think what Muller is not talking about is the presence of non-scientist activists in this drama. I strongly suspect that the “fib to save the planet” notion was whispered into many ears by people outside of the science professions. They thought it effective and expedient. In the end, there’s a lesson in social psychology in all of this. And that lesson is the vox populi is a lot more discerning that the vanguard understand them to be. Both ways.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        He wasn’t talking about people lying. A scientist may not dream of lying, but he may be willing to diminish the importance of results which contradict a position if he thinks supporting that position will help “save the world.”

      • There’s a reason why witnesses in court have to swear to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”. It became obvious to barristers a long time ago that the truth by itself wasn’t good enough. Even bent truth ceases to become truth. At what point it becomes a lie is semantics.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        It may be semantics, but it is an important issue. I’ve had to do a number of public debates, and while I would never lie in one, it is neither practical nor expected for me to tell the whole truth.

      • Understood. That’s why people don’t trust public speakers, either.

        The climate debate would benefit from less truthiness and more “whole truth and nothing but the truth”.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I’ll have you know, I was considered a very trustworthy speaker. Nobody really liked what I had to say so they tended not to agree with me, but still…

      • “The whole truth” on any complex issue is more than anybody can tell. A complex scientific issue cannot be described listing all facts as can be done in the court when telling the whole truth. There are different ways of reacting to this. Some want to hold to maximal objectivity and avoid the temptation of trying to convince the audience on the view held most likely by the speaker – others choose differently.

        Scientists should be open on uncertainties and rather overemphasize them than belittle them, but this is obviously a situation, where some scientists turn issue advocates. We don’t need much of that to lose much from the credibility.

        Even when they believe strongly on something that they cannot justify objectively, they must admit that their strong belief is subjective.

      • Brandon’s take is mine as well. Omissions may be “well intentioned”, but will ultimately come back to bite the omitter. Those listening will either feel betrayed when they learn of what they weren’t told or worse, the ill-intentioned will take the over-sold message as a blank check for their own ends.

      • “A scientist may not dream of lying, but he may be willing to diminish the importance of results which contradict a position if he thinks supporting that position will help ‘save the world.’”

        Scientists, like any other profession, are people. Being people, they are subject to the same human frailties as everyone else. Every group of people, scientists, teachers, priests, astronauts, doctors, lawyers French, Brazilians, Episcopalians, atheists, Zoroastrians, whatever, has among it those who will lie, or cheat, or steal, or pick their teeth at the table, etc.

        Suggesting that people of a given profession would not dream of lying just doesn’t reflect the human condition. The suggestion that climategate was some aberration from a golden age of science is just false. There have been false claims, inflated results, and all other manner of human misdeeds in science since there was a scientific method. Not because scientists are bad people, but because they are people, just like the rest of us.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I don’t see how anything I said suggests no scientist would lie. My comment simply explained the difference between lying and refraining from admitting the whole truth on a subject. It did so by discussing what “a scientist” might do. Other scientists could obviously be different. In fact, I could easily offer examples of scientists involved in the global warming debate who have clearly lied (I won’t name names here though as it wouldn’t be appropriate).

        I didn’t think it was confusing, but I apologize if it was.

    • Note that only the “science” says it’s urgent. It may not be urgent, who knows.

  9. What I find interesting is “JC summary: very well said Professor Muller!”

    There is absolutely nothing in Prof Muller’s statements that I did not have hammered into my head when I studied Physics 101 at Cavendish Labs, over 60 years ago. These are the values that my mentor, and gentleman who later became Prof. Sir Gordon Sutherland, taught me.

    Why is it that someone like Prof Judith Curry finds this message to be so important? I suspect the answer is that science has been so badly abused by the proponents of CAGW, that when someone like Prof. Muller states the obvious, it becomes a matter of great importance.

    I wonder how long it will be before science recovers from what the proponents of CAGW have done to it.

    • yes, that is exactly the point. why is making such statements “news”? i asked the same questions of my post climategate statements about integrity and transparency in climate science.

      • Completely agree with Dr.Curry on this.

        It’s a sad state of affairs that this has to be said now but it needed to be said. I hope now climate science can start with a clean sheet and much needed restoration of proper scientific methods.

      • Craig Loehle

        Integrity definition: when it is pointed out that you are using a proxy upside down or doing your statistics wrong, you admit it and issue a correction immediately. If you think you have never made a mistake you lack integrity because all scientists make mistakes.

    • Jim Cripwell-

      Few programs I’ve encountered in the past few decades have been very rigorous on these topics. For a number of years I had put on a short training program in the context of experimental work for my new reports covering this, as well as 5 basic rules for success in position. The first topic for experimental work was understanding the question you would like to answer and what could actually be answered experimentally. The first rule was “Don’t be stupid”, which related to critical examination of plans and actions. College new hires don’t generally know any of this, and even more experienced people may not.

      Without excellence in education, it’s more difficult to have excellence in Science.

  10. Muller:

    ….as a scientist I was trained you always have to show the negative data, the data that disagrees with you, and then make the case that your case is stronger.

    Feynman:

    Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can–if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong–to explain it.

    http://bit.ly/hiD0JD

    Climategate:

    There is no reason to give them any data, in my opinion, and I think we do so at our own peril!

    http://bit.ly/bn5Js8

    The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK it has but it is only 7 years [IT IS 13 YEARS NOW!] of data and it isn’t statistically significant.

    http://bit.ly/6qYf9a

    • Here’s what’s interesting. In fact, you don’t “show the negative data,” in your post.

      The argument they were presenting is that there is “no good reason” to show “them” the data because “they” will not use it in a good faith analysis.

      You may believe that in fact, the reason they didn’t want to provide the data is because they were simply concerned that they couldn’t disprove a valid, contradicting scientific analysis. You might also feel that they should have “show[n] the negative data” regardless. Both valid arguments. But your post suggests to me that you aren’t practicing what you preach.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Joshua | April 13, 2011 at 11:44 am | Reply

        … The argument they were presenting is that there is “no good reason” to show “them” the data because “they” will not use it in a good faith analysis.

        Here’s what’s interesting. You still don’t get it, Joshua. There isn’t any valid reason to refuse showing your data. You are making the same arrogant mistake as Phil Jones when he refused to show his data to Warwick because Warwick might try to find something wrong with it.

        Whether someone is going to use your data in a good faith analysis, or a bad faith analysis, or use it to wipe their nether regions, is immaterial. If you want to be a scientist, you HAVE TO SHOW YOUR DATA.

        The idea that it is the scientist himself who gets to decide who gets to see his data is a very dangerous misunderstanding of the scientific method.

        w.

      • Actually, Willis – in my post I said that arguing that all data should be made available is valid.

        I think there are valid arguments for limiting access to data (valid in the sense that a conclusion is a logical derivation from the starting premise), but in balance I disagree with them, and feel that ultimately more availability will lead to better science.

        My point is that I think that people have a responsibility to present the negative data and argue against them. I am generally not impressed by conclusions that are argued without that step being included. That would imply also making one’s own data available, as you would need to use those data in arguing against the analysis of a “naysayer.”

        I am struck, however, by the irony of your point, as in response to Muller’s testimony you were arguing that Muller violated principles of confidentiality, and was guilty of bad faith usage of Watts’ data.

        First, if you make data available, then they aren’t confidential. Second, inherent in making your data available is the possibility that they might be used in bad faith.

      • More specifically. I disagree with the argument made by climate scientists that their data shouldn’t be made available to people they feel are seeking to use it in bad faith. I think that in the end, you need to trust the scientific process and let the analyses stand on their own merits.

        However, simply stating that those climate scientists said they wouldn’t make their data available, without making their stated rationale for their beliefs clear, doesn’t present a full analysis, IMO.

        Instead, I think arguments should be presented that show the flaws in their rationale. In this case, either because those seeking their data were actually not working in bad faith (an argument I would view as relatively weak because it is a tacit agreement with their criterion for releasing data), or because data should be made available regardless of the intentions of those who want access (an argument I view as stronger but still somewhat problematic, as sometimes making data available to all can create counterproductive short-term obstacles).

      • “I am struck, however, by the irony of your point, as in response to Muller’s testimony you were arguing that Muller violated principles of confidentiality, and was guilty of bad faith usage of Watts’ data.

        First, if you make data available, then they aren’t confidential. Second, inherent in making your data available is the possibility that they might be used in bad faith.”

        The issue between Watts and Muller was not “principles of confidentiality,” it was the existence of an express agreement to keep the information confidential. And of course making data available under a confidentiality agreement includes the possibility of bad faith by the person you are trusting. But what does that even mean? Is that supposed to be a defense of bad faith?

        “if you make data available, then they aren’t confidential….” Don’t tell my clients that. All sorts of limited disclosure can be made without losing “confidentiality.’ That is precisely the purpose of a confidentiality agreement. Sometimes we need to think a little longer before we type.

        The whole issue of confidentiality between Watts and Muller in this context is a red herring any way. No one, not even Joshua, believes that all scientists should make public all their data and code before they publish.

      • steven mosher

        Joshua if you want a real treat go look at posts that folks have done at WUWT without posting code or data. or go try to request code and data from SPPI papers.

        glass house, stone thing

  11. Muller:

    “I have created a new project here in Berkeley – we call it Berkeley Earth – that is doing a reexamination of the global warming issue. We are addressing all of the issues that have been raised – all the legitimate issues that have been raised by the people called the skeptics.”

    Judith,
    I thought they were just looking at the land temperature record. Is their work more extensive than that? This seems to imply a much broader look at the climate issue? What else does the remit include?

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      There are two main possibilities. The first seems most likely, and that is he misspoke. People slip up during interviews, so that would hardly be shocking.

      The other possibility is Berkeley Earth is different from Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST), and Berkeley Earth intends to investigate many more things. I haven’t heard anything to suggest this, but I guess it is possible.

  12. Muller defines three types of people in this process;

    1. Exaggerators
    2. Skeptics
    3. Deniers

    Muller also states, “We are addressing all of the issues that have been raised – all the legitimate issues that have been raised by the people called the skeptics”

    So who are the skeptics?

  13. I suspect that Muller is still making the same mistake he made when he originally accepted the “science” of Mann and the rest of the Climategate crew. He is now assuming that the rest of the climate science reported by the IPCC is solid and that Climategate is the only aberration from quality science. Eventually, he may come to realize that Climategate-type corruption and bias is found throughout the climate assessments.

  14. Might be a duplicate post. Sorry. Still working on the protocol. ;-)

    I think it is unrealistic and unnatural to expect anyone — even a scientist — who has seen something that she suspects might cause some horrific impact to be completely analytical and not become some sort of an advocate for public response. If a scientist observes something far off that looks a little like a guy packing a van with ammonium nitrate and wiring up some kind of mechanism, I would hope she would call the feds before doing months of validating analysis.

    But the Catch-22 is, as this thread says, that this advocacy hurts the credibility of the scientist. When his credibility gets questioned he becomes more strident in his advocacy. This is natural but not helpful and definitely not scientific, as Muller says. This process continues to worsen until the advocacy becomes an orthodoxy where even minor hints of any small doubt is demonized and every labeled heretic is accused no matter what. (A selected quote related to Muller’s testimony from another blog, “…“watching Muller try to reinvent climate science….” – another Curry?”) I think AGW has become orthodox, and very little if any further progress and understanding is difficult — unfortunate, especially given the stakes. If the scientific world would follow Muller’s (and by context, Currie’s) prescription we might have a chance to figure this all out. But, for example, as long as the poster child/scientist of AGW headlines his Congressional testimony by declaring oil company CEOs ought to be jailed, we have a very long row to hoe.

    Just my thoughts. I’ve offered this as serious helpful suggestions to some strong AGW proponents, a very dangerous activity!

    • I agree with the first point, that a scientist seeing something that concerns him should peak on the issue. But I disagree that it is the simple fact of becoming an advocate that diminishes the credibility of the scientist. The issue of lost integrity rises because of how a scientist (or anyone else) advocates, not because he advocates.

      Dr. Muller continues to make clear his support of the overall AGW hypothesis. Yet most skeptics still see him as quite credible. On the other hand, Michael Mann could never say another word, and no skeptic will likely see him as credible ever again.

      If Muller were to start hiding data and code after promising to release it, improperly massaging data, inflating results, or defending dishonest behavior by other scientists, his credibility with skeptic woulds disappear. However, if he finally publishes the BEST results after they are actually completed, along with the data and code as promised, and their findings support AGW, skeptics may or may not disagree with his results, but there would be no reason to question his integrity.

      Where science crosses public policy, there is no reason for scientists to muzzle themselves. They just need to be honest advocates.

      • And I’ll say it one more time. There are a thousand shades of gray of “support of the overall AGW hypothesis”. You can talk all day about GMT and global impacts, of glaciers and ice sheets and sea level rising, but the thing that actually places you on the map is the policy recommendations you buy into. Whether you think that GMT is going up 2 degrees or 6 degrees by 2100 by itself doesn’t mean diddly.

      • <blockquoteYet most skeptics still see him as quite credible

        Where is your evidence for that? Are you saying that multiple posts at WUWT, which assail Muller’s credibility, are uncharacteristic of skeptics in general?

      • I was using the word credible in the sense of integrity, not accuracy. It is possible to believe an honest man is completely wrong. It is also possible to believe a man who is correct on a particular point is a liar by disposition.

        The only post I saw at WUWT questioning Muller’s personal credibility was by Willis Eschenbach (that shrinking violet of the skeptic camp). He wrote:

        “I must confess, I’m mystified by all of this. With his testimony, Dr. Muller has totally destroyed any credibility he might have had with me. He might be able to rebuild it by explaining his strange numbers. But to give that kind of erroneous testimony, not in a random paper he might written quickly, but to Congress itself, marks him to me as a man driven by a very serious agenda, a man who doesn’t check his work and who pays insufficient attention to facts in testimony.”

        Even here, Eschenbach is not questioning Muller’s integrity (which is perhaps the word I should have used), but his accuracy. He is accusing Muller of being sloppy due to his predisposition (“doesn’t check his work”), not dishonest.

      • Gary – you just shifted from saying that skeptics didn’t question Muller’s credibility to saying that when Willis said that Muller lacked credibility, he wasn’t actually questioning Muller’s credibility.

        C’mon, Gary, read these comments:

        Perhaps someone who knows Dr. Muller could ask him to explain his cheerleading before Congress. I call it cheerleading because it certainly wasn’t scientific testimony of any kind I’m familiar with.

        It’s just unsubstantiated and unverifiable testimony.

        And when he foolishly uses his bully pulpit to push claims with no data and no code, sorry, that’s agenda driven.

        Dr. Muller has gone out of his way to misuse Anthony’s work and to make very public unsubstantiated and unverifiable claims that Anthony’s work shows nothing.

        Yeah, that’s the real truth about con men, they’re all innocent as the driven show. It’s not their fault that you take their opinion as fact. They’re just putting it out there. If you don’t dig under the surface to find out it’s a scam, way down to the bottom because you can’t see it from the top, then it’s your fault for getting fooled …

        Steven, I hope you are kidding. If not, I sure hope you notice how patronizing your post sounds.

        According to you, then, there’s no problem with misrepresenting the facts, because it is the responsibility of the person hearing the lie to determine if it is a lie … and if not, well, then as Mosh says “That’s their mistake.” According to you, it’s no problem that Muller gave incorrect information about the warming. After all, I noticed it was bad info, and if the Congressmen got fooled into thinking the globe warmed by 1.2°C, that’s their mistake …

        He is clueless about the temperature records, he gives incorrect information about the simplest stuff, he presents no results of any type nor any data of any type … why is he up there?

        The obvious answer is, somebody wants his “results” trumpeted to the world, despite the fact (and indeed perhaps because of the fact) that they are unsubstantiated and indeed unverifiable, … and you see no problem with that.

        Everything we’ve seen to date is adequately explained by hubris, foolishness, incompetence, and desire for power. Add to that the panic caused by sunlight, and you have the perfect Congressional storm …

        Given that he has not made public either his code or his data used for the analysis, it was highly improper to use his fifteen minutes of fame to attack Anthony’s work. It was shabby and mean-spirited. It was the act of a conniving bureaucrat, not a scientist, and certainly not a polite man.

        His Congressional testimony was also colossally stupid public theater.

        To me, Zeke, that’s underhanded and deceptive and bad behaviour on a host of counts, personal and professional.

        Your claim that he had no options is just a sad attempt to rescue him from his own stupidity. He opened Pandora’s box, when there was no need to touch it at all. And while you might think that’s appropriate, I find it a massively stupid action that has come back to bite him savagely

      • You really have trouble with the English language don’t you?

        “Gary – you just shifted from saying that skeptics didn’t question Muller’s credibility to saying that when Willis said that Muller lacked credibility, he wasn’t actually questioning Muller’s credibility.” So when I expressly state that Eschenbach was questioning Muller’s credibility, I was saying he wasn’t questioning his credibility? That is simply dishonest of you. Or let me use the active voice so it is clearer for you. You were dishonest when you wrote that. I won’t rehash what I actually wrote, it just isn’t that hard to understand.

        If you don’t start criticizing what I actually write, rather than what you want to re-write for me, it will get so tiresome that there will be no point in responding to you any further.

        My original comment was “Yet most skeptics still see him as quite credible.” Admittedly it would have been clearer to use the word integrity, as I wrote and you ignored above, because credible can also mean just believable. But otherwise I stand by my original comment. Most skeptics still see Muller as having integrity. Few if any have accused him of lying.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        GaryM, as a general rule, I would refrain from calling people dishonest. Rarely is it accurate, and even more rarely does it accomplish anything. Confusion is far more likely than dishonesty.

        That said, Willis Eschenbach has definitely questioned Muller’s integrity. Eschenbach has also acted like a loon regarding this whole issue. I don’t think one should look at him when gauging the reaction to Muller.

        Personally, I haven’t seen anything to make me question Muller’s integrity. I have seen enough to (slightly) question his credibility.

      • Gary – Willis questioned Muller’s credibility.

        You argued that the meaning of credibility and integrity can be used synonymously, and ascribed the meaning of integrity Willis’ comments about Muller’s credibility. The words are not generally used as synonyms, so I don’t really buy your interpretation that Willis had the meaning of integrity in mind when he spoke of credibility. But even still, lets grant you that; I provided you with comments where Willis questioned Muller’s “integrity” also: Willis analogized Muller to a con man, of being agenda-driven, of underhanded and deceptive …behavior on a host of counts, personal and professional, of acting out a desire for power, of acting as a conniving bureaucrat, not a scientist, of cheerleading of being mean-spirited.

        None of those attributes or motivations would be consistent with integrity.

        <blockquoteIf you don’t start criticizing what I actually write

        Go back to the thread about Muller’s testimony on this very site. Among other comments from skeptics questioning Muller’s credibility (and integrity if you prefer), you, yourself, said this:

        If his goal was PR for the CAGW camp, his testimony makes great sense….He just took advantage of a high profile platform to preempt the coming publications of the surfacestation.org project. He acted like an advocate, not a scientist….His eagerness to get out a preemptive pronouncement about Watts’ data shows only a concern for PR, not science.

        You said his testimony showed “only a concern with PR, not science,” and that it he was trying to “preempt” coming publications. That isn’t questioning his credibility and his integrity?

      • Frankly, I think Muller suffers from the same tribal ambiguity that the owner of this blog does. A lot of people get most upset when they can’t pigeonhole someone. It makes it hard to calibrate a tirade when you don’t know where the target is.

      • Brandon Shollenberger,

        I don’t use the word dishonest very ofter either. Although it is a word that is applicable to much more commentary than some would like to admit. That was the impetus behind my comment above criticizing your statement that a “scientist may not dream of lying, but he may be willing to diminish ….” I am usually not reticent to call a spade a spade, although I try to keep the tone more moderate in a setting like this.

        I used it in this context because the habit of expressly misstating others’ comments is becoming an increasingly frequent habit for some. There is more than enough to debate about around here without that. When it is done by someone who does not appear to understand the issues in general, it is easy to ignore. But that was not the case here. The example above was just too clear. I said dishonest to make a point, and in hopes of elevating the dialogue. I have no idea whether it will or not.

        I did not see where Eschenbach questioned Muller’s integrity (though he is certainly able to speak for himself). Neither inaccuracy nor bias are the same as dishonesty. Do you have a quote in mind?

      • Gary, I seem to recall Nixon having a sanitized term for lying. Credibility gap.

        Maybe we can settle this by saying that scientists never lie, but sometimes have issues with credibility gaps. Does that fix everything?

      • in·teg·ri·ty
        noun \in-ˈte-grə-tē\
        Definition of INTEGRITY
        1: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values

        “You said his testimony showed “only a concern with PR, not science,” and that it he was trying to “preempt” coming publications. That isn’t questioning his credibility and his integrity?”

        No.

        Nor would anyone else who understands the English language think it does. Being political, engaging in public relations, nor even disseminating propaganda is not immoral. Lying is. If I wanted to call the man a liar, I would have.

        For the morally challenged, a lie is the intentional making of a false statement that you know to be false. Being wrong (and I know this is hard for progressives to grasp) is not immoral, no matter how loud you are about it.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        GaryM, he used words like “conniving,” “deceptive” and “con man.” All of those go to integrity.

        Joshua, integrity and credibility are quite related. One’s integrity helps determine one’s credibility. If someone has no integrity, they also have no credibility. In this manner, the two words are used synonymously at times. It’s imprecise, but that’s true of many things.

      • Joshua,

        Stop while you are behind.

        “The words are not generally used as synonyms, so I don’t really buy your interpretation that Willis had the meaning of integrity in mind when he spoke of credibility.”

        and
        “You argued that the meaning of credibility and integrity can be used synonymously, and ascribed the meaning of integrity Willis’ comments about Muller’s credibility.”

        Twice you claim I wrote that Eschenbach “had the meaning of integrity in mind when he spoke of credibility.”

        This is the comment you were responding to: “Even here, Eschenbach is not questioning Muller’s integrity (which is perhaps the word I should have used), but his accuracy.” my point, again, is the exact opposite of how you misrepresent it.

        Maybe you’re just dyslexic.

        Nah, I’ll stick with dishonest.

        I’m done with your dishonesty disguised as semantics. I wrote what I wrote, I clarified myself after your initial comment, which was fairly made, and stand by what I wrote. The rest is filibuster.

      • Brandon Shollenberger,

        Yes, those terms do go to morality, and therefore integrity. I didn’t say Eschenbach didn’t question Muller’s integrity, just that what I had read I did not interpret that way. My original comment, which I stand by, is that most skeptics do not questions Muller’s integrity. Which I still believe to be true.

      • Sorry, Gary. This statement was confused:
        <blockquoteso I don’t really buy your interpretation that Willis had the meaning of integrity in mind when he spoke of credibility.

        What I should have said is that I don’t really buy your interpretation that Willis meant to distinguish between the connotations of credibility and integrity when he wrote is comments – in the sense that you interpreted his comments to make that distinction. The point being, that even if we limit our analysis, Willis seems to be questioning Muller’s integrity as well as his “accuracy.”

        You disagree, obviously. So be it. But I wanted to correct my earlier statement nonetheless.

      • Gary – offering scientific testimony as an advocate with no concern for the science, for the purpose of “pre-empting” someone else’s publication is not lacking in integrity? It isn’t breaking a “moral code?”

        Interesting.

      • Gary,
        I don’t think Pro. Muller is criticizing advocacy. I take him to be saying that if the public does not accept what the scientist is advocating the scientist should not try to be a better advocate but a try to be a better scientist

      • Gary M, good point. I agree it’s not the advocacy itself, but the character of it that causes the problem.

  15. It’s hard to put my finger on the exact reason but I’m not expecting too much from the good professor. He’s obviously enjoying his 15 minutes and is just a bit too smooth on the PR front for my liking.

    Pointman

  16. “And because they don’t trust the public, in the end the public doesn’t trust them.”

    So very true.

    And his last bit, rejecting “urgency” as a valid excuse to short-circuit the scientific method, was also right on point.

    I don’t know what they’re going to come up with. I suspect it won’t satisfy the hard-core (and mostly non-scientific) wing of the skeptics, but then it doesn’t need to either.

    But I like his attitude, and I think he might have the character and instincts towards transparency to make a valuable contribution over time.

    And here’s a prediction. Their “version 1″ won’t be perfect, and will be open to credible criticism on multiple issues.

    Because that’s just the way it is with “version 1″, and it’d be flat-out amazing if they avoided it with their product. The real key is how well they do at understanding and assimilating valid criticism and moving on to “version 2″ incorporating it in a timely fashion.

    • As far as ‘urgency’ goes…

      The activists worried about a climate crisis would have a lot more credibility if they showed more of a sense of urgency themselves. Not only is there a tremendous lack of a sense among the most visible advocates of impending doom as indicated by their lifestyles, but the flippant attitude toward nuclear power, which is as of this moment, the only thing we know how to do on the kind of scale that we’re talking about, tells me that they’re less than petrified.

      I believe someone like George Monbiot when he tells me that he’s concerned about a climate crisis, because he’s not willing to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. He’s willing to jump into nuke, warts and all, in an attempt to do something about climate. That looks like a sense of urgency to me. Big Enviro? Not so much.

  17. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all just agree, “Well said, professor,” learn from his remarks and move on without further proving him right?

    Well, I think what’s happened is that many scientists have gotten so concerned about global warming, correctly concerned I mean they look at it and they draw a conclusion, and then they’re worried that the public has not been concerned, and so they become advocates. And at that point, it’s unfortunate, I feel that they’re not trusting the public. They’re not presenting the science to the public. They’re presenting only that aspect to the science that will convince the public. That’s not the way science works. And because they don’t trust the public, in the end the public doesn’t trust them. And the saddest thing from this, I think, is a loss of credibility of scientists because so many of them have become advocates.

    ..

    And I’d like to draw the distinction between a scientist and a layman. A layman is someone who is easily fooled and even fools himself. A scientist, in contrast, is someone who’s easily fooled and even fools himself and knows it and takes measures to undo that. Science has to be objective. We can’t be advocates.

    I’m no scientist, but even I recognize my own folly and take measures to at least improve my folly to a higher level.

  18. Prof. MULLER: “I think, in fact, most people on the field of global warming have been well-heard”.
    “CONAN: On all sides”.

    Prof. MULLER: Yes, on all sides”.
    At this point, I stopped believing about everything Prof. Muller said.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Is there any particular reason for this? First off, it seems strange to dismiss what someone says because you disagree on a single issue. Second, what makes you disagree with him? He never denied some people have been ignored. That most people have been heard is hardly contentious. The problem is the people who haven’t been heard are largely on one “side,” and as such, that “side” hasn’t been properly heard.

      Think of it this way. If 80% of people agree on an issue, and they ignore everything the other 20% have said, most people are still being heard.

      • The “most people” clearly applies to those on BOTH sides of the debate. He is saying that most people on the alarmist side and most people on the skeptic side have been “well-heard”.

        This proposition is so ridiculous, it impugns his credibility. Remember that he also gets the facts wrong in his discussion of “hide the decline” in the video that was making the rounds recently. He gets the gist of what the Climategate crew did, but he clearly isn’t up to speed on the details.

        He appears to be someone who hasn’t invested anywhere near the time that a lot of folks who lurk on blogs such as this have. He obviously has no familiarity with Climate Audit. I would bet that he would find an afternoon talking with Steve McIntyre to be seriously disturbing. Because he seems to be an honest, if not quite up to speed, scientist, I think he’d be shocked and appalled.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Your comment here basically just says, “You’re clearly wrong.” Can you actually provide some sort of explanation as to how I am in error?

      • Most people on all sides is clearly stating that every side has had a majority of its people heard from. To assume it only means most people, even if all from one side (your 80% side), renders the use of “all sides” completely superfluous. And since there is a special emphasis to include “all sides” in both the question and answer, to construe it as unnecessary is a bit convoluted.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Hm… Maybe you’re right. Of course, this raises the question of who isn’t getting heard? I have no doubt there are people being ignored. Steve McIntyre has been “heard” in the sense people know he has said things, but he hasn’t been “heard” in the sense people haven’t paid attention to what he has said.

        On the other hand, how many people are there who have received that sort of treatment? How many people who have spoken up didn’t receive it? Other than anecdotal evidence, what evidence do we have as to the ratio between these two?

        Personally, I suspect the problem is more that people aren’t speaking up. There is no need to silence those who refuse to talk.

      • Brandon, do you agree that “climategate” is now a serious problem for all of climate science? If you don’t forget the post. If this is true, why when it was presented to the media was it pretty much ignored? On that token, why is a hurricane that happens with regularity in the Atlantic watched so closely with the “hope” that it will develop into a horrible storm? Why are none of the news media reporting that it actually might be cooling instead of “hold on to your hats, the heat is on it’s way”? I don’t know what world you live in, but the built in bias is so bad I can’t believe folks aren’t committing suicide because of their CO2 output.

      • If this is true, why when it was presented to the media was it pretty much ignored?

        You seriously think that “the media” “pretty much ignored” climategate?

        And if so, I guess you disagree with all the statements we’ve seen about the massive impact of climategate in undermining the public’s confidence in climate scientists, science in general, the peer review process, and theories that GW is probably A?

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Joshua, I’m not sure exactly how much the media covered Climategate, but I see no problem in saying it “pretty much ignored” it. There were no in-depth articles over it. There was no serious effort to analyze the e-mails. The amount of (displayed) investigation by mainstream media into the issue amounts to less than I would have done for high school journalism.

        As for your second post, it is complete rubbish. There is no need for the mainstream media to do anything for there to be a massive impact on the public’s view of any issue.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Er, “post” should be “paragraph” in the first sentence of my second paragraph. I would so love a preview/edit feature.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I’ve never been clear on just what “Climategate” refers to. Is it the release of the e-mails, the contents of the e-mails, or what has happened/been discovered through the release of the e-mails.

        Either way, I have been critical of the climate science community since before Climategate happened. The release of the e-mails didn’t tell me much I didn’t already know. If the media wasn’t going to cover the issues before, why would it focus much on them after? The institutionalization of global warming is bound to try to ignore anything like this. The primary significance of the release of those e-mails is the shock factor it caused which led (some) people to reconsider their beliefs. That’s pretty much over.

        So is Climategate a problem for all of climate science? That depends. The behavior those e-mails show is certainly bad, but it doesn’t seem the climate science community minds it. Given that, and the fact the PR effect is pretty much over, I’m not sure it is a problem. It certainly should be one, but…

        As a side note, there is no reason the media should say “it might be cooling.”

      • I will have to admit I was busy making a living until some really good friends mentioned that my wife and I should see and “Inconvenient Truth” because they were very worried about their future.
        I tried to explain that Al Gore might not be the best source of information to look for” science” and admit to an irrational bias against Gore. Just prior to “climategate” I was interested but nothing more.
        When it broke and I got a chance to see the code and how it was to put it polity “massaged”, I honestly could not believe scientists would do that.
        I’m an old self taught industrial process control engineer and work in automation. What I saw was cheating. Call me old fashioned, you can because I am old :)…. but you just don’t cheat in science.
        I would have been fired from every job I’ve had if I had done what the folks in the climategate emails did.
        I looked around after the posting of the emails and there was almost nothing said. You know, move along here, nothing to see. That’s when I REALLY got involved and have been since. I know there are two sides or more to every issue and try not to be naive, but once you loose my trust by deceit, you can go somewhere else.
        As to the side note, why not say it “might” ? Are you saying it will not?

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        No. I’m saying it is stupid for the media to talk about what “might” happen when there is no particular reason to believe it will. They may as well start publishing articles like, “Aliens might invade Earth tomorrow!” There is (at the very least) nominal reason to believe the Earth will warm as time goes on. It is possible something may happen to throw that reason into question, but we don’t have any indication of such.

        Now then, if the media were heavily involved in publishing information about science, it would make sense for it to say things about how the current temperatures aren’t changing like expected (with caveats regarding fluctuations and statistical significance). But it’s not.

        (And yes, I know the media does say things “might” happen in the same sense on a regular basis. It’s stupid, and they should stop doing it.)

      • Thanks for the conversation. I enjoy reading and replying to you folks of above average intellect as it keeps me thinking. This site offers that. There are some very talented writers here (people that know how to us the English language and have a vocabulary) that make eloquent points. I lack this skill and admire it. Again, thanks for the exchange, have to get back to my real job.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I’m always glad to have conversations with new people, so thanks to you too. As for eloquence and writing skills, I wouldn’t worry about them too much. There is nothing wrong with speaking simply. In fact, the world would be better if people did it more often. As long as you can make people understand you, it doesn’t matter how plainly you may speak.

        That said, I will never give up my oddly-structured sentences and esoteric word choices. I can’t imagine life without them.

        Good luck with work!

  19. This debate tends towards polarity, and scientists will sometimes gravitate to these poles.
    Sometimes the poles attempt to enlist or publicize scientists that seem to fit the bill, which can backfire. This seems particularly troublesome for skeptics, when figures like Muller (or Curry) depart from the conventional wisdom of the “camp” (for many skeptics, this seems to include stating that there has been 20th C warming, or that humans likely had something to do with it).
    There are also examples on the AGW side, but not as prominent, possibly because there are far more expert voices to choose from (but again, I think the Judith Curry narrative can be instructive).
    Then there is the separate issue of the public’s or media’s apparent desire to simplify the debate into two opposing sides, which makes it difficult to frame a Muller or Curry.
    Both problems are troublesome, but entirely understandable given the highly politicized situation and conventional media framings.

  20. Given that essentially everything he got from the press person wwas leading questions I thought he handled himself well.

  21. “What is ironic here, is that I read many “skeptics/deniers”‘ hyperventilating about Muller’s testimony – an indication that they were considering it to be of some deep significance.”

    Which is precisely the problem in my opinion. By fighting over fractions of a degree of warming, the skeptics are giving the strong impression that those fractions are of critical importance in the debate. This is unfortunate. If Muller generally confirms the existing temperature records it’s going to be hard to convincingly turn around and argue, “Oh, well, they don’t really matter after all.”

    It’s the wrong battle to be fighting in my view.

    • That’s the real irony here. Presumably, neither “side” thinks that the the accuracy of existing analysis of a limited dataset, given the full range of relevant data and given the variety of other types of relevant data, is terribly meaningful in the full context of the debate. Yet, both sides look to the outcome of Muller’s analysis to be generalizable and to confirm categorical denouncements of anything the other side has to say.

    • I leave the temperature chasing to the believers. It is fun to watch them get so worked over so little.

  22. “People want to pigeonhole everybody in this field just to simplify the argument.” Well of course, there is a synonym for what are disparagingly called “pigeonholes” or labels – nouns. They make discussion much easier. Try forming a coherent argument without them.

    I find this obsession with pigeonholing and labeling on the left fascinating.
    (I don’t recall ever seeing a true skeptic complain about being pigeonholed or labeled as a skeptic. Similarly, I don’t recall ever seeing a true conservative complain about being “pigeonholed” or labeled as a conservative.)

    People either accept the consensus (CAGW or AGW) or they don’t. There are many reasons why people accept the consensus, just as there are many reasons others do not. But it seems curious to me to object to using simple descriptive terms to describe those basic positions when discussing the topic.

    Before the poll testing and focus grouping began in earnest (when the consensus progressives began losing the public debate), there was a fairly standard description of the nature of the debate. Those who agreed with the IPCC consensus were referred to as the “consensus” or CAGW proponents. Those who disagreed with that consensus, for myriad reasons, were skeptics. Those who agreed with the fundamental AGW hypothesis but were “skeptical” of the certainty of the degree and catastrophic potential of the warming, were lukewarmers. Now, we are supposed to have dozens of terms to describe the various nuances of the varying positions? It’s not proper to “label” people? Sez who?

    It is also true that the consensus and luke warmer positions were generally peopled by those to the left of center, while skeptics were for the most part to the right. The division was by no means uniform, there are many exception in both camps. But I think it would difficult to argue with that general description. And the issue of political motivation, in a topic that has become inseparable from politics, is fair game. So once again, accurate, descriptive labels facilitate the conversation.

    Piegonholing and labeling are just fine. As long as they are descriptive and accurate. “Denier” is neither. “Warmist” is not descriptive (it suggests someone who advocates warming). But skeptic, lukewarmer, CAGW, AGW, activist, proponent, conservative, progressive/liberal? All of these are descriptive terms, are not insulting, and make conversation easier. Which is, in my opinion, why those who currently seem to be losing the debate object to them.

  23. “Yet, both sides look to the outcome of Muller’s analysis to be generalizable and to confirm categorical denouncements of anything the other side has to say.”

    Exactly. It’s become a PR battle with all the subtlety of a political campaign. I’ve all the respect in the world for Anthony Watts, but this could do us (skeptics) much more harm at least in the short run, than many seem to realize. The gloating just from P. Krugman alone was enough to make me physically ill after Muller’s 2 percent testimony. Just imagine the field day the warmists are going to have when Muller and company “officially” pronounce the temperature record valid…

    • Just imagine the field day the warmists are going to have when Muller and company “officially” pronounce the temperature record valid…

      Still they have to respond to the issue that the recent warming is not unprecedented as we had a nearly identical warming both in magnitude and duration about hundred years ago as shown in the following graph.

      http://bit.ly/eUXTX2

    • pokerguy

      Let’s say your suspicion is correct, and Muller will simply fall into line and provide a complete white-wash to the way the temperature records have been collected, analyzed and reported.

      The “mainstream” loses, except in the eyes of an ever-decreasing circle of hardliners, who will give a sigh of relief and say “I told you so!”. Everyone else will simply say, “another white-wash!”, and that will be the general public opinion, further eroding the credibility of the “mainstream” scientists.

      If his committee provides real transparency in the records and finds serious flaws in the way data have been collected, adjusted, manipulated or corrected “ex post facto”, the credibility of the “mainstream” also loses, despite the howls of outrage that are sure to come.

      Will James E. Hansen, Phil Jones or Tom Karl be pilloried?

      Probably not. They will just be taken less seriously.

      But, in the second case, the public gains.

      So, as I wrote earlier, I think this whole exercise is a “lose-lose” situation for the “mainstream” group, and I cannot figure out how this group would have been politically ignorant enough to even allow this audit to happen.

      Max

  24. “Still they have to respond to the issue that the recent warming is not unprecedented as we had a nearly identical warming both in magnitude and duration about hundred years ago as shown in the following graph.”

    If they’re not responding to challenges to their “unprecedented warming” orthodoxy now, what makes you think they will later? Especially on the heels, if it happens, of the biggest PR coup since Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick graph.

    Understand that these people do not play fair. Muller himself admits as much.

  25. Do you also mean the way you, Spencer, Lomborg, the Pielke’s, and others have been treated when you refer to pigeonholing?

  26. For those of you who are fans of Martha, you won’t want to miss her analysis of yours truly and Climate Etc. at Greenfyre
    http://greenfyre.wordpress.com/2011/04/13/science-spice-etc/

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Oh my god. That was too funny, especially the sexism section.

      And for what’s it’s worth, I know I don’t imagine you dressed in leather.

      • I never have until now. Will this change things?

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I don’t know. Maybe she would look good in biker gear?

      • Yes, I know, Brandon.

        To unburden you from reading, I thought you guys might at least be able to follow along in pictures. But apparently that doesn’t help you, either.

      • Martha- if you ever actually posted something meaningful it would be interesting to discuss the issue with you, but so far you have not.

        What do you believe the highest risks are to the United States as a result of potential climate change? What actions do you propose to be done to mitigate those risks and what do you estimate the actions would cost the USA?

      • To unburden you from reading, I thought you guys might at least be able to follow along in pictures.

        I see you’ve adopted the same philosophy that Eli seems to find fascinating. How ethically flexible of you.

    • You’re a double-plus ungood nonperson now.

    • Dr. Curry

      How very tabloid.

      Which one in the picture are you?

      • Mel B (scary spice), I guess

      • A tasteful and balanced choice.

        If one gets to choose one’s pigeonhole, may as well go for gold. ;)

      • The post is encouraging thinking about political and economic articulations of gender and class in relation to climate change denial. No one cares anymore about continuing to discuss all the errors in science discussions that you lead. All that is left to discuss is why deniers gather here for milk and cookies (uhm… not Spice). :-)

      • No–you post is mindless dribble typical of what you write. You continually write inaccurate statements such as:
        ” No one cares anymore about continuing to discuss all the errors in science discussions that you lead.”

        So now Martha decides what everyone cares about? Obviously you are wrong in your conclusion since many people are reading and commenting.

      • No, Martha. Your post is a pathetic attempt to discredit a scientist with whom you disagree. Your hypocrisy is unbelievable.

      • Martha,
        YOu are fulfilling the analysis of the link I left in comment at your pile of offal at Greenfyre.
        You actually think you are adding something and not coming across as a very obsessed, sadly complicated cyber stalker.
        Your self image reminds of working with anorexics, who at 5’4″ and 86 pounds were convinced that if they could only lose another 20 pounds they would be in great shape.

      • Martha,
        As to your last question- skeptics post here because cowardly believers like yourself and the host of greenfyre or RC or Joe Romm cannot allow a full and free conversation on matters of faith.

      • Martha,

        I think that your post shows not much more than that you’re willing to stoop to the level of those you decry. It is, in no way, serious commentary on Judith, this blog, or the climate debate climate in general.

      • Joshua,
        Martha is just a typical true believer posting what is popular with a great deal of the faithful, judging by the support she is getting in the community.
        Skeptics have gotten no where near what a good believer does as a matter of course.
        Seeking symmetry in this debate in this issue is not going to fly.

      • I disagree, Hunter. Joshua’s remarks are well meant and honest. You should applaud him IMHO.

      • Skeptics have gotten no where near what a good believer does as a matter of course.

        hunter – I have seen post after post at “skeptic/denier” websites analogizing “true believers” to Eugenicists, saying that they’re willing to sacrifice “millions” for their statist fantasies about One World Government, blah, blah, blah.

        I know that you think that seeking symmetry in this debate won’t fly. That is apparent from most any of your posts that I’ve read.

        Here’s what else I see.

        “Skeptics/deniers” trying to tell me that when they compare Muller to an “agenda-drive” conman, who gave scientific testimony to Congress with no interest in the science but purely for propagandistic purposes to perpetuate a myth of climate change, who can be explained by “foolishness” and “incompetence,” who is guilty of “deceptive ” and “underhanded” “bad behavior,” they aren’t questioning his credibility.

        I get why you don’t see any symmetry, hunter.

      • Martha, your greenfyre post provided some comic relief from our serious discussions over here. Yes, your post does articulate some issues regarding gender and class (i.e. yours).

      • Martha

        Meanspirited and spiteful, an ad hom attack that carries neither weight nor persuasive force, your essay reflects poorly on yourself while doing nothing to advance the discourse or the science.

        Perhaps half the topics posted by Dr. Curry and maybe comment in fifty at Climate Etc. are of much use, in my opinion, which is an order of magnitude improvement over most sites, and two or more orders of magnitude better than WUWT or the Idsos used to be (although I am assured WUWT has greatly improved lately) when I took the time to look them over.

        If you’ve found sites you like better, more power to you. If you contribute to those sites in better ways than you’ve demonstrated in this particular essay, well done. From time to time you have interested things to say, but this.. this was seriously beneath you.

      • well written

      • The thing is, I would have thought your article was BRILLIANT if it had been written by, say, P.J. O’Rourke. But, as always seems to happen, no matter how absurd the parody, its seems there’s always someone on the left who actually thinks its a legitimate and serious position.

        It’s like when I collect signatures for a petition to ban hydroxilic acid. I know it’s mean, but it’s just so frickin’ funny.

      • Martha: All that is left to discuss is why deniers gather here for milk and cookies

        Far more interesting is why scientific cleansers like Martha come here.

    • “quasi-pornographic perceptions of her,” “envisioning her in leather,” “a grown woman who likes to play mischief-making little girl to a group of dissatisfied men….”

      Would it be too much to suggest that Martha may have…ummm…issues…that…uhhh… transcend climate?

      Somebody is just a wee bit obsessed around here.

      That was a nice picture of the Spice Girls though.

      • Dear Gary M, try not to play so much with scissors. Try:
        “I don’t think there is any of the usual quasi-pornographic perceptions of her going on in their defense of her: I don’t think they are diminishing her by envisioning her in leather. However, there is something perhaps even more unsettling about a grown woman who likes to play mischief-making little girl to a group of dissatisfied men.”

        Scroll down for the matching picture. When you get to the lollipops, you’re there. :-)

      • I see you’re back seeking attention again, little girl.

    • John Carpenter

      Man I needed a good laugh today… thanks for the link. I see she has a big following with all 2 comments left so far. Maybe that says more about greenfyre…

      • would have been 3 comments but it looks like greenfrye can dish it out but can’t take it. My comment was tounge in cheek, (so to speak) a bit sarcastic (and naughty) and played with the exact language used in the post. Childish abuse?? I agree, but that is was I was responding to.

        In addition, I was expressing my blog lust for Dr. C;)

    • Martha’s wrong on a critical point. I’m not a dissatisfied old man, I’m a crank – there’s a big difference. As for her experiences being somehow attacked on this blog, she misinterprets the school boy “dip her pig tails in ink” infatuation as disliking her.

      Loved her writing style, too. She could be in PR…

      • Yes! That’s what I couldn’t put my finger on, at first. It’s just so bizarre to see that juxtaposition of genuine writing skill with ideas that are pegged at “11” on the luniometer.

    • Martha says a lot more about herself in this piece and here in her clear obsession with Dr. Curry than any analysis she has attempted of Dr. Curry.
      And what Martha says is pretty……eccentric.

    • I pray that this inspires a cartoon by Josh
      maybe climate journal, centerfold, turn-ons acknowleging uncertianty, turn-offs pigeonholing

      I can think of a dozen punch lines off the top of my head

    • Priceless.

      Humorous — exhibiting an excess of one humour.
      In this case green bile.

      (Okay I know it should be yellow bile, but allow me a bit of poetic license)

      Honestly. The time to really worry is when you find someone like that agreeing with you!

    • It’s boring, irrelevant and childish attention-seeking.

    • Martha

      She gives herself no guidelines for being accurate or honest, and her support of efforts to deny the scientific consensus on the extent of human-caused climate change and its significance are based on the deliberate use of ideology to downplay the communication of the science and mask obedience to Bush-era politics.

      The scientific “consensus” was reached by deleting data, by hiding data and by rigging the peer review process as demonstrated by the climategate emails:


      1) I think we have been too readily explaining the slow changes over past decade as a result of variability–that explanation is wearing thin. I would just suggest, as a backup to your prediction, that you also do some checking on the sulfate issue, just so you might have a quantified explanation in case the prediction is wrong. Otherwise, the Skeptics will be all over us–the world is really cooling, the models are no good, etc. And all this just as the US is about ready to get serious on the issue. …We all, and you all in particular, need to be prepared.
      http://bit.ly/eIf8M5

      2) Yeah, it wasn’t so much 1998 and all that that I was concerned about, used to dealing with that, but the possibility that we might be going through a longer – 10 year – period [IT IS 13 YEARS NOW!] of relatively stable temperatures beyond what you might expect from La Nina etc. Speculation, but if I see this as a possibility then others might also. Anyway, I’ll maybe cut the last few points off the filtered curve before I give the talk again as that’s trending down as a result of the end effects and the recent cold-ish years.
      http://bit.ly/ajuqdN

      3) The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK it has but it is only 7 years [IT IS 13 YEARS NOW!] of data and it isn’t statistically significant.
      http://bit.ly/6qYf9a

      4) I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1000 years ago. I do not believe that global mean annual temperatures have simply cooled progressively over thousands of years as Mike appears to and I contend that that there is strong evidence for major changes in climate over the Holocene (not Milankovich) that require explanation and that could represent part of the current or future background variability of our climate.
      http://bit.ly/hviRVE

      5) Whether we have the 1000 year trend right is far less certain (& one reason why I hedge my bets on whether there were any periods in Medieval times that might have been “warm”, to the irritation of my co-authors!
      http://bit.ly/ggpyM1

      6) The verification period, the biggest “miss” was an apparently very warm year in the late 19th century that we did not get right at all. This makes criticisms of the “antis” difficult to respond to (they have not yet risen to this level of sophistication, but they are “on the scent”).
      http://bit.ly/ggpyM1

      7) I’ve chosen 0.15 here deliberately. This still leaves an ocean blip, and i think one needs to have some form of ocean blip to explain the land blip (via either some common forcing, or ocean forcing land, or vice versa, or all of these). When you look at other blips, the land blips are 1.5 to 2 times (roughly) the ocean blips — higher sensitivity plus thermal inertia effects. My 0.15 adjustment leaves things consistent with this, so you can see where I am coming from.
      http://bit.ly/8SPNry

      8).. the fact is that in doing so the rules of IPCC have been softened to the point that in this way the IPCC is not any more an assessment of published science (which is its proclaimed goal) but production of results. The softened condition that the models themself have to be published does not even apply because the Japanese model for example is very different from the published one which gave results
      not even close to the actual outlier version (in the old dataset the CCC model was the outlier). Essentially, I feel that at this point there are very little rules and almost anything goes.
      http://bit.ly/afSp5h


      Martha, how is an honest person going to interpret the above other than “corruption” of climate science?

    • I get the impression she REALLY does not like you :)…

    • Martha’s psycho-sexual analysis makes sense in context, not that it makes sense as science. The (mistaken) question she is trying to answer is this: “Given that there is no real scientific debate, how do we account for the wild success of Dr. Curry’s blog, with 60,000+ more or less technical posts to date?” This is just a special case of the general problem that the alarmists now face (which is failure), and we see them turning to psychological theories in droves. Dr. Curry’s sex is in fact rather unique in this context so it is an obvious target for the controlling independent variable. Sort of like CO2 in that regard. The irony is rich.

  27. ian (not the ash)

    My god what a spiteful diatribe! Judith if the powers that be ever institute a ‘Climate Inquisition’ and she is elected ‘Grand Inquisitor’, I suggest you recant and bloody quickly.

  28. Yeah, the HuffPo with snark! No doubt that Mann or Weaver would sue for less, in my mind.

  29. “Yes, yes. It’s us.” says it all, I think. Muller is touting the strategy of acknowledging skepticism so as to refute it, as opposed to the previous strategy of ignoring skepticism. He criticizes the zealots because he does not think zealotry is necessary in order to defeat skepticism. The funny thing is that he is wrong.

    • Muller is ignoring the elephant in the room.

    • Refuting is exactly what should be done. That is how arguments get resolved. Name calling and ignoring doesn’t resolve anything. Regardless of what conclusions he has reached up to this point, as long as he uses the appropriate thought process to reach those conclusions then he is engaging the topic in good faith. I think a lot of skeptics believe minds can be changed completely over night. I think minds change incrementally and eureka moments are few and far between. The best that can be expected of any person is that they approach the topic with an open mind and reach the best conclusions they can with the available information. If that conclusion is different then that reached by others there is always room for honest disagreements.

      • The only way to refute skepticism is to explain climate change, which has yet to be done. Skepticism is not a theory to be refuted; it is a set of questions to be answered. Muller appears to be oblivious to this need. Nor has he shown any serious understanding of skepticism. All we have from him are a steady stream of preconceived conclusions. Every time he opens his mouth it gets worse. We do not need another committee of bishops explaining protestantism away.

      • actually, Muller makes this statement in the NPR interview:

        ” In fact, scientists need to be properly skeptical, and the debate is never closed. A scientific issue should always address questions that are raised and some of the skeptics raised very good questions, and I wanted to answer them.”

      • It would be helpful if he described at least one of these “very good questions” that skeptics are supposed to have asked. I have yet to see word one from him that suggests he has any idea what the skeptical questions are. Moreover, I read his “I wanted to answer them” not as inquiry but as refutation. How is what Muller doing different from http://www.skepticalscience.com, which is all about answering the skeptics?

      • Let me put it this way. If Muller wants to ‘answer the skeptics’ there are three possibilities.
        1. The skeptics have important unanswered questions. Anyone who believes this is a skeptic. Muller says he is not a skeptic.
        2. The skeptics have unimportant unanswered questions. Answering them is a diversion at best.
        3. The skeptics have important questions but they can easily be answered. This appears to be what Muller believes, but it is false.

      • 4. Muller is a scientist who sees his role as investigating stated questions by studying evidence to add to the body of knowledge in his field.

        Skeptics state questions, by definition. Anyone who doesn’t state questions may be better described as a rejector, though their rejection may itself be stated as a question.

        By the law of large numbers, sooner or later any skeptic might ask an important unanswered question of interest to a scientist.

        There are enough skeptics, rejectors, statements and scientists that the law of large numbers applies.

        Thus 3 above appears to me to be false.

      • Bart R: Are you agreeing with me in saying that #3 is false, or disagreeing with my claim that it is false? I do not understand how your #4 differs from my three. Nor how the so-called law of large numbers even applies here.

      • David Wojick

        I’m suggesting that for Muller, it appears the premises of your options 1-3 are irrelevant to his presumptive reasons.

        Muller’s a scientist. He does what scientists do independent of the madding crowd.

        Skeptics do what skeptics do, often independent of science.

        There’s some overlap between questions skeptics produce and questions scientists seek to answer, and Muller commented on it.

        He might have just drawn a Venn diagram instead.

        It may be useful to have non-scientific skeptics throw a spotlight on some questions, but the yet-to-be answered questions really would remain unanswered whether a skeptic stated them or not.

        Thus the ease of answering skeptics isn’t necessary to frame Muller’s point. He may believe that answering skeptics, incidental to the work of science, is the hardest thing in the world, but as a scientist it’s his chosen vocation to take on questions.

        See the difference? In my 4, Muller’s simply dispassionately acknowledging the existence of skeptics, as one might acknowledge the existence of toadstools or false advertising. I don’t especially see his remarks as a measure of utility or an overture of affection.

      • I see, Bart R. Apparently you are claiming that the questions raised by skeptics are not important scientifically. Indeed your phrasing suggests that you think there are no skeptical scientists either. You are wrong on both counts. However, Muller may agree with you. Most AGW proponents will. Yours appears to be a variation on the argument that the science is settled. Good luck with that.

      • David Wojick

        Wow. You’re able to read my answer and think it says that? Mindboggling.

        And yet, mine would be the skeptical appraisal, as it calls into question the baseless assertions in your claims.

        Indeed, I think by sheer coincidence the questions raised by many skeptics are scientificially important and not yet answered.

        By dint of reflection, hard work, hard study, dedication, brilliance and insight, many skeptical (and even credulous) laymen do ask scientifically important and yet-to-be answered questions, too.

        However, in my experience, most questions from most skeptics — like most initial questions from most scientists — have the properties of duplication, poor framing, flawed underlying assumption and insufficient background to know what questions are interesting and which are pointless.

        The difference Muller explains is that scientists recognize this in themselves and do something about it.

        A skeptic still asking all and only the same questions skeptics and scientists asked four decades ago is a dull-witted bore, if he’s made no efforts to discover for himself what answers the past forty years have advanced, and what more interesting questions can be asked because of these four decades of science.

        A dyskeptic who falls for the premise of every answer suggested in the past 40 years has furnished would likewise be a dimwit.

      • Bart R: Sorry if I misunderstood you, as it was just a guess. I find you unintelligible. (And I am an expert on incoherence, with a diagnostic system of 126 kinds of confusion.)

        If anyone can explain what Bart R is trying to say to me I would appreciate it.

      • David Wojick

        More hilarity.

        I’m quite proud that it takes work to decipher what I say, that it requires thought to put the two and the two together from what I say and get .. whatever the answer is.

        He is a bore who reveals everything, to quote Voltaire.

        So you calling me unintelligible is praise indeed.

        Sadly, you I find entirely intelligible what you do here.

        Repeating Big Lies, ellipses, argument from authority, straw man, cherry picking, abduction?

        It didn’t take me any more advanced education than high school debate society to be able to recognize the techniques of invalid argument by logical fallacy.

        It’s what we were told to do when we had no chance to defeat our opponent on the facts, so long as we didn’t expect the judges of our debate to be very experienced.

        You’re transparently setting out to refute professor Muller without grounds, for the reason one must suppose of discrediting the very sound and reasonable things he has said and conclusions he has produced or might produce.

        I can’t guess what Muller’s BEST will produce, but from the efforts you’re putting in here, one must believe that you believe BEST will cast into serious doubt some article of faith, some indispensible claim, that you hold too dear to part with.

        At a guess.

      • Here’s the part that I think people are having a problem with:

        some of the skeptics raised very good questions, and I wanted to answer them

        That’s a little like a judge saying “let’s have this fair trial so we can get to the hanging”, no?

    • David,
      In what way is Muller wrong? Are you saying zealotry is necessary to defeat skepticism? If so, why? Why couldn’t good science alone defeat skepticism?

      • Because good science supports skepticism. Skepticism is basically just the call for good science.

      • I hate semantics. Yes, a good scientist is always skeptical. But if AGW theory was correct and knowable, then good science should be able to persuade climate skeptics. There is no need for zealotry.

      • I am talking about here and now today. Muller seems to be pursuing the pro-AGW strategy that says the good science exists here and now today to defeat skepticism. He is wrong.

        I am not calling for zealotry.

      • Oh, noes. Anti-semanticism.

      • Ron,
        Your question is perhaps and hopefully mis-phrased. If skepticism is ‘defeated’, then good science is dead.

  30. D.W. wrote: “Yes, yes. It’s us.” says it all, I think. Muller is touting the strategy of acknowledging skepticism so as to refute it, as opposed to the previous strategy of ignoring skepticism. He criticizes the zealots because he does not think zealotry is necessary in order to defeat skepticism. The funny thing is that he is wrong”

    I’m with you right up til that last line.

    Agreed that the “yes, yes, it’s us.” is all you need to know concerning his essential beliefs. But I think his strategy is brilliant, or at least much smarter than what we’re used to seeing from many of the principal AGW actors. Maybe I’m a cynic (in addition to being a skeptic). Maybe he really is a completely honest, fair-minded fellow. That’s certainly how he presents himself.

    BUT, I simply have a hard time trusting someone who supposedly has taken a good, close look at both sides of the discussion, and can still come away saying, “Yes. yes. It’s us.”

    • He is an honest, fair minded person who has accepted AGW. He is wrong if he thinks that an honest look at the science will defeat skepticism. But I doubt he is capable of such a look, since his mind is clearly made up.

    • I always thought the value of BEST’s work was in the availability of real raw data. Will it matter what Muller thinks if anyone can access the code and the data and actually make accurate criticisms?
      For example, if a series of (real) rural stations with a long reporting history were to show little to no warming before adjustments wouldn’t this be useful to know?
      If the raw data were to show that warming is largely a night time phenomenon that is being averaged into the entire record, wouldn’t that be useful to know?

      Am I misunderstanding what BEST is actually going to make available to everyone?

      • We already know that there are many stations, and regions, that show no warming, and even show cooling. The global warming only appears in the aggregations (the Jones-type statistical models), which is why the method of aggregation is the crucial issue. This is nowhere mentioned.

        Then too, the mere fact of warming, if it exists, in no way confirms AGW. It merely introduces the vast issue of natural variability, or why climate changes? Warming is almost a minor issue, except of course if it is not warming slowly then AGW is immediately falsified. Muller seems to have this wrong too.

  31. Judith,

    Scientists have choices to say “We don’t know”. But then that is a threat to credibility and funding. This line of thinking spawned a great many taught and like minded scientists into the theory that does not look at physical evidence for one that is looking for a temperature pattern.

    Keeping heat and CO2 linked together instead of separating them. So now we have a society that believes EVERYTHING is giving off CO2 and is the major heat threat. There certainly are many more gassings and heat sources.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Many years ago, I learned that “We don’t know” is a perfectly valid answer, especially if it is followed by “But we are trying our best to find out”.

      This is a much more straightforward answer than,

      “Well, we’re not sure, but the data we’ve been able to gather so far suggest…”

      And, IMO an even worse answer is (when the knowledge is not clear and there are no real-time empirical data),

      “Our overall scientific understanding has improved, leading to very high confidence that…”

      Worst of all IMO (when the same is true) is, “Crystallizing scientific data and analysis reveal that…”

      Being honest and straightforward is the best approach, rather than engaging in “spinsmanship” or trying to “sell snake oil”.

      Max

  32. “And the saddest thing from this, I think, is a loss of credibility of scientists because so many of them have become advocates”

    This is partly true SOME scientists have become advocates (and remain scientists perhaps leading to the perception of a conflict of interests) BUT there has been a loss of credibility of scientists because of specific campaigns promoting disinformation, which have had a far bigger impact. There are, of course, ctivists and particularly those on the left, the perception of scientists not doing enough to explain the urgency of the problem, thus an impatience with scientists.

    By the way, thanks Judith for providing yet another useful post, which I would have been unlikely to have stumbled on.

    http://mitigatingapathy.blogspot.com/

  33. One thing that is underemphasized in this thread is that scientists (at least hard scientists), indeed (hard) science, in addition to the option to hold a view and advocate for it, or to not know and reserve judgement, also have the historic tendency and philosophical mandate to change their mind, and thus their advocacy, when the evidence leads to major revision in the view of the body of knowledge behind a field.

    Other types of advocates are more known for ‘to the death’ support for discredited or outdated views.

    Professor Muller speaks of recognizing one’s own folly and taking steps about it.

    Far more admirable in my view to be an advocate in the wrong who knows they may be wrong and takes every measure to hear out opposite views, examine opposing evidence, consider contrary systems of knowledge and be ready to retrench to a new position, than to be the last standard bearer of some untenable idea.

    Foreknowledge that either one or the other is not just possible, but given the track record of the development of human knowledge probable for at least some views one holds may lead to the sort of humility that steers one away from calling others nasty names, accusing them of incompetence or lawbreaking, or dressing up in dolls clothes advocates for other viewpoints and making salaciously poisonous comments based on personality, not science, or in one extreme case leaving one’s job and moving across country to stalk and harrass a person of the opposite view.

    Though to be practical, it may serve the public interest more to be nasty than to be humble, if full and forthright advocacy is to most rapidly resolve questions by spurring all sides to rally to the defense of their side by thorough and complete investigation and presentation of the best evidence and argument available.

    So in my view, either nasty or nice, the more appropriate response to this situation is to experiment, research, observe, apply the best mathematics and logic, statistics and myriad other methods to improve the body of knowledge, rather than to drag in lawyers except at the extremes.

    • Bart, I have to disagree with you.

      Advocacy has no place in science (as Muller has clearly stated).

      Once a scientist becomes an advocate, he/she has lost his/her scientific objectivity and the rational skepticism that is an inherent part of the scientific method.

      An advocate soon “comes across as selling snake oil” (to use Judith’s words).

      Max

      • I think we all know the story about how Einstein didn’t accept quantum mechanics and set out to disprove it, or at least disprove the Copenhagen interpretation. It’s an interesting story because it shows that:

        1. A scientist can understand the mathematics, and still feel that something is fishy,
        2. His gut told him that there was something else to be found, even though he understood Heisenberg’s and Bohr’s and Dirac’s math perfectly,
        3. He followed his gut feel until he finally ran out of energy to pursue it any further.

        One thing he never did was try to argue that the math was wrong, or the experimental evidence was wrong.

        So one the one hand, you could say that he was an advocate for a particular belief (arguably irrational), but on the other hand he maintained his scientific integrity to the end. In the end, he failed at his mission, but he kept his integrity. The critical line that he never crossed was trying to deny the evidence itself, or the logic of the math behind the Copenhagen interpretation. He understood that line, and it’s importance.

        If he had succumb to that temptation, and crossed that line, he’d now be derided as another brilliant crackpot instead of revered as one the all time masters of science. He failed to find the flaw with Copenhagen, but succeeded at something much greater.

      • What Einstein did was more clearly state the problem, something very important. The EPR (Einstein, Poldowsky(sp?) Rosen) paper is the basis for quantum computing and many other application.

        Einstein was one of the people of that time who knew the most about quantum mechanics, not some guy offering his opinion from left field.

      • That’s a surprising claim.

        Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen contributed perhaps to discussions that has later led to quantum computing, but they were presenting doubts on the theory that prevailed, while their conjectures have been found false. Thus their possible contribution comes through the success of their opponents.

        My thinking is that Einstein was so unwilling to accept all consequences of QM, because QM and General Relativity are so different in concept that joining them to one theory is extremely difficult. Einstein spent a long time trying to solve this problem, but failed. Even now we have only some unsatisfactory attempts on solving the problem. Some people think that the physicists are now close to solving the problems, but many are quite doubtful. The string theory is certainly not such a beautiful theory of quantum gravity that Einstein was trying to find, but it remains to be seen, whether it offers a real way forward, or whether we need something completely different.

      • Thus their possible contribution comes through the success of their opponents.

        There’s a lesson in there somewhere for climate scientists. In science, even when you lose the battle, the war advances. Sometimes you make more progress when you decisively lose and then move on than when you decide to die on a certain hill.

      • Almost all of the discussion about quantum epistomology (for example Bell) and the experimental investigations (starting with Aspect) are based on the EPR paper. Quantum computing and signalling all grow from these seeds. Einstein offered a choice, action at a distance (qm) or qm was incomplete (read hidden variables). He chose the latter on esthetic grounds, fair enough, because there was no experimental evidence. The considerable amount of experimental evidence which has since been gathered shows this to be the wrong choice (well multiple worlds is still open, see Gell-Mann) but Einsteins statement of the dilemma was great physics.

      • It was certainly influential that a scientist of Einsteins caliber presented reservations on QM, but the point of EPR paper is very closely related to much of the earlier discussion on QM. The paper proposed that hidden variables might be a possibility, which was contrary to the ideas of QM. While few took that idea seriously, even when presented by Einstein, it turned out that direct experimental evidence was not available in a form that could not explained also combining hidden variables with some implausible but still remotely possible additional processes. Their implausibility is the reason that the hidden variables remained a proposal not taken seriously by many. David Bohm’s book “Quantum Theory” from 1951 was one of the few places where hidden variables theories were promoted.

        John Bell realized in 1964 that direct tests that would exclude the hidden variables theory of EPR type are possible. He derived an inequality that every hidden variables theory of the type discussed by EPR must satisfy, but which is violated by QM. Experiments were later made, and they supported always QM.

        It’s purely speculative to guess, whether all the above had anything to do with the development of quantum computing. I don’t think it has, as all the features of QM related to quantum computing where a central part of the description of QM already before the EPR paper. The EPR paper had only marginal influence on QM or its interpretation, it was only a side track that didn’t lead anywhere – or that’s at least, how the situation appears today.

        In a extensive text book of QM by Albert Messiah from 1967 it is written in a footnote:

        The interpretation under discussion here is the statistical interpretation of the Copenhagen school. .. After violent controversies, it has finally received the support of the great majority of physicists. However, it had (and still has) a number of die-hard opponents, among which one should notably list Einstein, Schrödinger, and de Broglie.

        Messiah was probably unaware of the work of Bell, as he expressed the opinion that the issues cannot be resolved through experiments, but are philosophical. He mentions in his book also the hidden variables theory on a few lines. Most of QM text books of that time didn’t even mention any of these issues, but Messiah spent a fair amount of space on historical considerations.

      • Since quantum computing is all about entanglement which is action at a distance, why yes, you can clearly see the seeds of quantum computing in EPR –> Bell –> Aspect –>

        What EPR did in a spectacular way was to point out the implications of qm for action at a distance.

        Otherwise we pretty much agree now.

        (Took qm first time using Messiah, it was not, even then, the bleeding edge)

      • My favorite was Dirac’s “Quantum Mechanics” originally written in 1930, but my edition is 4th from 1957. I didn’t like our textbook (Mandl), but found Dirac to be the right for me. Later I have read Messiah, Schiff, Merzbacher, von Neumann, and other more specialized presentations, mostly in preparing lecture courses, but also for curiosity.

        Messiah was not my favorite and somehow too much bound to outdated thinking (much more than Dirac), but it also tells more about the development of QM.

        Concerning interpretation of the entanglement, I believe it was fully present and central already in the 1930 edition of Dirac’s book.

      • And where did I say that? I thought I was pretty clear when I said that he understood QM perfectly. That was part of the point. He understood it perfectly, but it gave him the creeps. You know, God, dice, all that stuff.

      • “Understood” maybe isn’t the right word, but I think you get the idea.

      • Yeah.

        That Albert Einstein guy, what a con artist he was.

      • Did you actually read the comment?

      • I should have gone with Biruté Mary Galdikas (http://www.orangutan.org/dr-galdikas-bio), Dian Fossey (http://gorillafund.org/dian_fossey/), or Jane Goodall (http://www.janegoodall.org/study-corner-biography), I suppose.

        Though in this crowd, people might have not gotten it as satire.

      • ChE

        Actually, my comment was posted before I read yours, to Max.

        It appears to have gotten hung up in my browser.

        You and I went to Einstein by sheer coincidence.

        What are the odds?

      • “What are the odds?”
        Cosmic, my friend. Cosmic.

      • Or comic.

      • ChE

        Every deck of cards needs a couple of jokers.

        Then again, it’s already got dozens of cards.

    • Bart R: When you refer to “when the evidence leads to major revision in the view of the body of knowledge behind a field” are you saying that most scientists tend to change their mind when most others do? If so I agree but what does that have to do with the present situation? If not then what are you saying? I am just not clear what you mean by “the view of the body of knowledge behind a field.”

      • David Wojick

        On my reading of the history of the sciences, I’d read of ‘changes of mind’ on various theories taking considerable time in some cases, and to be virtually overnight in others.

        We often hear 1905 described as a wonderyear, but forget that it took years before Einstein was vindicated by experiment on even the simplest of his five papers, and thereafter remained the subject of contentious serious debate up to.. well, up to now, at the very least.

        Which is as it ought be, so far as I am concerned.

        Complete agreement pretty much is the death knell of progress in any field.

        Marie Curie pretty much singlehandedly overthrew the idea that women were unsuited to the hard sciences in the minds of many, though she was hardly the only or first, and even today in the present situation we still see silliness like Martha’s retrogressive Spice Girls romp.

        But to speak of the body of knowledge of a field of science, let’s look at your own field, which you participated in significantly advancing. Did your colleagues and yourself have a body of knowledge that you drew on when you applied yourself to various projects, or did you always start fresh from first principles, rebuilding all concepts from the ground up? When new colleagues joined any of the researches you undertook, did they do so shuttered entirely from everything that came before them, or were they expected to learn and know these prior fundamentals at least to some degree, regardless of how clever they were?

        Advanced mathematics, techniques of investigation and observation, knowledge of what has been tried before and rejected and why, things no layman or novice could be expected to know, make up the special knowledge of an expert research group and spread from small bodies to the whole field over time.

        There’s a thermodynamic effect of transmission of such knowledge from greater lights to lesser, sparking them up until they glow in turn.

        Zrozumieć?

      • I repeat, what does any of this have to do with the present situation? What point are you trying to make?

      • David Wojick

        If the present complaint is that advocacy by science is doing harm, then the present solution is to do science that overthrows the findings that scientists presently advocate because of.

        Then the advocates will have to start advocating something else.

        If you aren’t doing even-handed primary research, funding primary research, backing primary research and promoting primary research, your basis for complaining about the advocacy of those whose primary research is the foundation of their advocacy has the appearance of hypocrisy.

        Now, the opposite case, those whose ‘research’ is based on their advocacy, that I’m all for deprecating, once clear evidence of bias is demonstrated to have significantly affected outcomes.

      • Bart,

        ‘…then the present solution is to do science that overthrows the findings that scientists presently advocate because of.’

        I don’t think you understand. ‘Science’ does not advocate. ‘Science’ merely uses tools to try to understand the world around us.

        We may discover that an asteroid is going to hit earth. The ‘science’ of that discovery would not demand that we either shoot nuclear weapons at it or shrug our collective shoulders and congratulate each other on a ‘good time’. We have to make that decision on our own.

        People, on the other hand, advocate. Scientists advocate and should as members of a democracy.

        What is unfortunate about some situations is that some researchers try to advocate as members of a democracy while simultaneously appealing to their own authority as scientists. You seem to find this an acceptable scenario. However, in the process, they produce shoddy science that appears to ‘prove’ the necessity for the policy for which they are advocating.

        But to assume that we merely have to change ‘science’ to change people’s advocacy, including that of some specific scientists, undermines the scientific process. I think that’s part of the problem Prof. Mueller identifies above.

      • maxwell

        I’m not really in favor of shoddy science, except where it produces happy accidental discoveries like penicillin, guncotton, laughing gas, dynamite and the microwave oven, or as amusement. I do so miss the good ol’ Journal of Irreproducible Results.

        While there is clear crossing of lines by people (as they’re people), and they ought be called on it always, in many cases this is abused. For example, in all cases brought to light by McIntyre that I am aware of, the lines aren’t crossed nearly so far as is claimed by McIntyre.

        The Hockey Stick in its original published form was covered with prominent and clear descriptions of things that should have made any reader say, “Well then, they have a pretty but not very significant picture, but at least it gives me a context for just how really ludicrous it is to credit any claims about global temperatures prior to 1840 with any sort of confidence.”

        Later uses of the image, yes, absolutely many of those cross the line and ought be held up to the light of scrutiny on every occasion. But because there’s so much noise, there are so many invalid, puffed up, specious accusations, it’s easy for the many mistakes to be brought under the shield of the few but significant appropriate uses.

        So no, I’m not saying to change Science. I’m saying if you’re unhappy with the conclusions of scientists, then be one, do the work of a scientist, produce persuasive and correct results and present them; if you — like I — lack the aptitude, then promote the work of actual objective primary research in whatever way you can.

        Doing less, especially undercutting the work of those who seek to do such scientific research, because you fear what they advocate or think they make unfair use of the slim authority of their titles.. that’s not scientific criticism, and it’s not skepticism.

        It’s just Marthaism.

      • In six words or less, Kimism.

      • Bart: The Hockey Stick in its original published form was covered with prominent and clear descriptions of things that should have made any reader say, “Well then, they have a pretty but not very significant picture, but at least it gives me a context for just how really ludicrous it is to credit any claims about global temperatures prior to 1840 with any sort of confidence.”

        Yes, and Mann himself went to great lengths to stress just how ludicrous it was to give any credit to the Hockey Stick, and begged Gore, other politicians, the IPCC and the general public not to believe it. For McIntyre to selectively overlook all this obvious integrity, and just focus on data hiding, DIY principal components analysis, and deleting incriminating emails, really is beyond the pale.

        I can only hope Bart will now furnish the good netizens here with further watertight examples of McIntyre’s undue criticisms.

      • Bart: …if you’re unhappy with the conclusions of scientists, then be one….
        Doing less, especially undercutting the work of those who seek to do such scientific research, because you fear what they advocate or think they make unfair use of the slim authority of their titles.. that’s not scientific criticism, and it’s not skepticism.

        Yes exactly. Hiding data, hiding declines, etc, is all part and parcel of bona fide scientific research. If you don’t have a post-doc in government-funded Climate Science, you just won’t understand this, so please just listen and accept and keep your taxes flowing. Those who from their armchairs undercut attempts to hide data and declines are ungrateful nobodies whose ancestors probably helped make the Holocaust such a success.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Bart R, your comments about the original hockey stick are nonsense. MBH said 1998 was the warmest year in centuries so it is absurd to suggest people looking at it’s temperature reconstruction would have thought it indicated low confidence in temperature values prior to 1840.

      • Secret Lemonade Drinker

        Subsidies for fossil fuel:

        > $3.2 billion to ethanol/biofuel
        This is fossil fuel? Isn’t it a (misguided) green project to get *away* from fossil fuels?

        You cite more examples of alleged subsidy to fossil fuel, with the compaint that the companies that benefit are rich. Yes, but their customers who buy what is now a cheaper product aren’t.

        And of course this is all chicken feed compared to the estimated $100 billion that has been poured into trying to get government scientists and universities to prove agw. To say nothing of the untold trillions in new taxes and increased energy costs the world will have to bear if agw politics goes ahead.

      • Bart,

        ‘I’m saying if you’re unhappy with the conclusions of scientists, then be one, do the work of a scientist, produce persuasive and correct results and present them…’

        Again, I think you’re missing my point. I am not saying that I disagree about the scientific results (most of them at least) as many climate scientists believe them to be. I also do not think that specific scientists should not advocate, like all participants in a democracy, for specific policy actions.

        I am saying that there is not a direct line between a specific scientific interpretation of reality and and a policy response to that interpretation. Scientific interpretation of results, whether I or anyone else agrees with them, are useful for making decisions related to them, but they are not a sufficient condition for a specific policy.

        I used to example of smoking policy in an above comment. The science of smoking is rather straightforward. Yet, even with universally accepted science, states have a broad spectrum of responses with respect to smoking taxation and policies related to smoking in public places. The people of those states have different incentive structures and cultures that inform them on how to respond to the science on smoking.

        Climate change is no different. I can agree with a particular scientist’s interpretation of the science and the correctness of results, but still not agree with his/her idea of ‘good policy’. Those two things are unrelated to one another. For good reason at that.

      • maxwell

        I can entirely agree with your last.

      • “I can only hope Bart will now furnish the good netizens here with further watertight examples of McIntyre’s undue criticisms.”

        Bart : [opines luxuriently, zero examples provided thus far]

      • Bart R. The problem I have with you is that every time you purport to explain yourself what you say has no discernible connection to what you said before.

        As for the hypocrisy you accuse me of, the AGW proponents have controlled the $2 billion/yr US research budget, and no doubt the rest of the countries’s budgets, for the last 20 years. It is no wonder that skeptical science is missing. Spencer has testified on this several times I think. Give me the money and I will give you the findings. They are there for the picking. For example, I am quite sure that I can build a GCM that shows that all the warming is natural.

      • David Wojick

        “AGW proponents have controlled the $2 billion/yr US research budget, and no doubt the rest of the countries’s budgets, for the last 20 years.”

        Wait.

        What?!

        Who controls which budgets?

        Be specific.

        Name some names.

        Give some dates.

        Explain yourself, because that has the stink of utter hogwash about it.

        Are you sure you’re not confused about the amount of ‘research’ funding in the US that goes to ADM to turn animal feed into car fuel that boosts oil industry sales volumes and encourages building of high capacity, inefficient engines?

        In Europe, you can replace corn with palm and cane, and ADM with whatever multinational corporations that ‘need’ subsidies for ‘green’ research in ‘green’ biofuels, I’m told.

        Most government budgets for most energy research goes somewhere other than AGW, and that somewhere usually turns out to be the pockets of shareholders in agro aggregators or fossil.

      • Secret Lemonade Drinker

        Bart R,
        Governments are subsisiding fossil fuel rather than green energy? Do you have details?

      • Shhh. Don’t harsh a good narrative.

      • Secret Lemonade Drinker

        Go ahead and ruin the narrative all you like.

        For a brief, incomplete list of government subsidies in 2007:

        http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/servicerpt/subsidy2/pdf/subsidy08.pdf Table ES6, Energy Subsidies Not Related to Electricity Production: Alternative Measures.

        See my post http://judithcurry.com/2011/03/10/climate-stabilization/#comment-55088.

        Or let me summarize:

        $3.2 billion to ethanol/biofuel, which anyone who can read and do math knows is not green energy overall.. and which if one follows the money goes into the pockets of large multinational agriculture aggregators. This is a subsidy to the wealthy who once grew animal feed and now just increase the volume of product in gas tanks.

        Almost $2 billion to Natural Gas and Petroleum Liquids. That’s subsidy in one single year. By the federal government alone, in this one specific type of direct subsidy of cash. To profitable petroleum and natural gas companies. Does that make sense?

        Over half a billion to coal, refined coal, and coal gasification (which they’re calling ‘Hydrogen’ apparently).

        That’s approaching six billion dollars in one single year in one single category of federal subsidies to rich corporations for putting stuff in your gas tank or burning coal in new and exciting ways.

        Some argue that this is good money to spend for worthy causes. Which it may. So those rich corporations — which were caught doing bad things that brought about the need to spend this good tax money in worthy ways — are getting paid tax money because they got caught doing wrong.

        How backwards is that?

        In total for just this one table, the Lamar Alexander-sponsored study found over eleven times the federal subsidies to established wealthy corporations in fossil and agricultural co-factors to fossil than were spent on all other alternatives of that non-electricity category.

        And then go ahead and look at table ES5, tallying almost another $4 billion in federal subsidies — not payment for goods, mind — to fossil in just one year for electricity generation.

        Then look at table ES4. And ES3..

      • Punksta

        “I can only hope Bart will now furnish the good netizens here with further watertight examples of McIntyre’s undue criticisms.”

        Isn’t the point rather that many people already believe they have done this, and buttress themselves by these arguments, and gain credibility from these arguments?

        All they need to do is build a persuasive enough straw man by attacking the most over-the-top accusations, and the most credible and reasonable claims caught in the same halo will be caught in the same net.

        I’m not arguing that no one’s ever come up with a valid criticism of any application of the Hockey Stick.

        I’m saying that too many who have made too many invalid criticisms make themselves into caricatures, and their own arguments into self-parody.

        One third of what McIntyre says is remarkably insightful, apt and accurate. It’s a pretty good track record overall.

        It’s the five percent over-the top that hurts the appearance of his arguments.

        Judith Curry, by comparison, has about fifty percent better a track record so far as insight vs. over-the-top.

        Look at Chief Hydrologist. While he’s some sixty percent insight, accuracy and aptitude, he’s one hundred-percent over the top otherwise. Makes him less easy to follow, and hurts his case… Though I suppose by this standard, I’m not doing so well myself.

  34. Judith Curry

    I agree with your five-word summary.

    For me, Muller’s key statements were:

    On human versus solar cause for observed warming

    Temperature has been rising over the last 100 years. That’s pretty clear. How much is due to varying solar activity and how much due to humans is a scientific issue that we’re trying to address.

    On trust between the public and scientists

    I feel that they’re [scientists] not trusting the public. They’re not presenting the science to the public. They’re presenting only that aspect to the science that will convince the public. That’s not the way science works. And because they don’t trust the public, in the end the public doesn’t trust them. And the saddest thing from this, I think, is a loss of credibility of scientists because so many of them have become advocates.

    On the need for scientists to be objective, not advocates

    Science has to be objective. We can’t be advocates. We have to [be] objective. And to the extent we’re not, we’re no longer being science – scientists.

    He is definitely “talking the talk”.

    And I certainly have no reason at this time to believe that he will not also “walk the talk”.

    Max

    • But there are several ways to read these key statements. That 20th century warming is partially anthro and partially solar is the IPCC position. That we should trust the public and not be advocates sounds like the position that the skeptics have no case so we merely need to honestly present the science. Given that Muller is not a skeptic what else can he mean?

  35. I must be missing something. All this talk about honest, fair-minded scientists, or scientist anyway, who accepts the premise that the last 50 years of GW is A in nature. “It’s us,” opines Muller.

    But how does a supposedly honest, fair-minded scientist feel justified in making such a leap when there are no studies that come close to ruling out natural drivers? And when, despite the increasing levels of CO2 over the last 15 years, GW has slowed down if not stopped entirely?

    This to me is a profound mystery. Because I’m not a scientist my instincts are to say, “well there must be a bunch of evidence I’m not aware of.” But what is this evidence, and how is it strong enough to rule out natural climate drivers?

    In fairness Muller admits that the proportion of A driven GW has yet to be determined because natural drivers do play a part, but if I’m reading him right he’s scientifically certain that the A part of GW is substantial enough to be a major concern.

    But how can he be so certain? What am I missing? Can someone explain this to me?

  36. We keep discussing pigeon holing as if it were lonly dr. Muller who isgetting treated like this.
    What about our host?
    What about Dr. Pielke, Sr.?
    Lomborg?
    Spencer?
    What about Hansen? He is no friend of open inquiry, but he has been pro-nuclear power for sometime.
    How many people have been defined too narrowly?

    • McIntyre…

    • Further to your point, a lot of resistance to the “team” has less to do with disagreement on the overarching matters than it does with the nastiness shown to people who stray from the four corners of the orthodoxy. And it doesn’t matter whether the straying has to do with physics, economics, biology, or technology. Even somebody like Monbiot gets shunned and run through the muffin monster for heresy, even though he’s a very orthodox warmist in most ways.

      I’m speaking of the larger political realm, but the “team” kind of exhibits the same tendencies on a microcosmic level. I don’t think it’s been terribly productive for people with genuine concerns for climate change, when the gut reaction is to want to burn heretics at the stake, rather than try to get to the bottom of the objections first.

      “Martha” comes to mind.

      • ChE, excellent summation of the problem, IMO. As I said earlier, there is nothing wrong with advocacy — it’s actually desirable and natural even by scientists. But as GaryM pointed out it’s the character of the advocacy that can get nasty and unhelpful. The advocates get ever more strident and entrenched to the point that, as Lindzen says in his reference, the advocacy replaces the science as the goal and the science is replaced with strict orthodoxy. I think this is predominately (though not universally) the current case for AGW proponents. This extraordinary and critical situation has fallen into high school pissin’ contest. Hopefully Muller, Curry and others can help get us out of it, preferably before they burn.

      • andrew adams

        Rod,

        You think Lindzen is not engaged in advocacy?

      • Advocacy?

        What, do you mean when he compares environmentalists and climate scientists to Eugenicists he isn’t being scientifically neutral?

      • The words you’re looking for are “scientifically accurate”, Joshua.

      • Who’s pidgeonholing now?

      • No, I think Lindzen is an advocate, too, though mainly from a defensive reaction.

      • Secret Lemonade Drinker

        Lindzen an advocate?
        If A identifies B as an advocate, does that thereby make A an advocate too? If so, then Yes.

  37. Prof. MULLER: …The policy decisions are so urgent that people tend to abandon the scientific method.
    Mmmm … carts and horses …. wasn’t the starting point the abandoning the scientific methods, the whole purpose and effect of which was to give us the impression that policy decisions are urgent?

  38. Judith,

    This is Lindzen view on the current climate situation.
    A good read.

    http://climatephysics.com/2008/08/31/lindzen-climate-science-is-it-currently-designed-to-answer-questions/

    • Joe Lalonde

      The paper by Richard Lindzen you cited is an excellent summary of what has unfortunately happened to climate science today.

      Lindzen cites specific examples of a corrupt process in climate science today, largely as a result of political manipulation by the IPCC who has been instrumental in introducing fear as a basis of support for climate science, which has become agenda-driven.

      He mentions many of the well-known examples of data manipulation, such as the hockey stick, but also brings up some lesser known instances of bending the data to fit the models.

      One interesting point was how the paleo-climate data from the Eocene (~50 million years ago) and the Last Glacial Maximum (~18,000 years ago) were adjusted and manipulated in order to bring the data into agreement with the models.

      It is a good read and an eye-opener.

      It should make all honest climate scientists out there (and I am sure that there are many of these including our host here) very angry at how a corrupt political process has smeared their integrity by default.

      Max

  39. Yes, both science and advocacy are both needed.

    A problem only arises if the latter masquerades as the former.

    Which covers most climate ‘science’ as we know it today. Which is really not too surprising, given that close to 100% of the funding of climate science is political, ie from an institution whose very nature is advocacy.

    To expect a politically-funded ‘science’ to NOT have a pro-political advocacy bias such as Climategate revealed, is pure pie-in-the-sky. The burden of proof is on those who believe this conspiracy-of-integrity to support it. And until someone does, we but assume the bulk of the profession is as bent as the Climategate Crooks, given their deafening silence on the matter.

  40. I discovered Mullers website a few years ago. It contained two curious elements. One was a fervent belief in AGW. The other was a page showing short and long term graphs showing the climate optimum, roman warming,medieval warming and others which argued convincingly against AGW.

  41. I like what he’s saying. So what’s the fuss over at WUTT?

  42. Sorry, meant WATT? Anyway, Anthony’s site.

  43. Does Anthony see him as stalking horse? I remember, not so long ago, you where seen the same? Remember?

  44. A simple solution to understanding what’s the fuss over at WUWT is to read the post from Anthony about why he was upset with Muller’s testimony. Wilis alos wrote two posts about that. Or you could read Willis’ posts in the thread about Muller’s testimony.

  45. Secret Lemonade Drinker

    .. $3.2 billion to ethanol/biofuel
    This is fossil fuel? Isn’t it a (misguided) green project to get *away* from fossil fuels?

    You’d have to read harder, to get to the point where I explained that ethanol is plainly not green to anyone capable of reading and doing math; we’re agreed that it’s labels have it as a green project, but since it’s a subsidy to big corporations, it’s still a subsidy. I don’t particularly care what color it is.

    You cite more examples of alleged subsidy to fossil fuel, with the compaint that the companies that benefit are rich. Yes, but their customers who buy what is now a cheaper product aren’t.

    Actually, my complaint is that it’s a subsidy at all.

    The aggravating factor of the subsidy going to the wealthy is merely gravy.

    And really, who cares who their customers are and how they’re harmed more, me or you?

    Their customers get offered a distorted price that gives them an invalid reason to vote with their money at the time they make the buying decision.. that distortion coming from the taxes these customers pay.

    We all know the expression, “bribed with our own money.”

    This distortion makes the economy less efficient, and ends up costing jobs and utility, satisfaction and increased misery, inflation or stagnation.

    And of course this is all chicken feed compared to the estimated $100 billion that has been poured into trying to get government scientists and universities to prove agw.

    Let’s compare some apples to apples here, now, hoss.

    I cited approaching $10 billion from just the US federal government in just 2007, out of perhaps a century of ongoing, escalating direct subsidies. I didn’t include state governments, indirect subsidies, subsidies to producers of the machines that use the fossil fuels or the infrastructure that supports them, or subsidies to universities.

    So far as I can tell from the length of time your vague $100 billion claim has been floating around the Intertubes unverified and unexplained, it appears to be not just a total of all past spending but also to include all future spending, worldwide, of this money. And then some.

    If you can provide an official US government report, as have I, that provides details of your $100 billion claim, that’s all well and good. But I suspect you can’t.

    To say nothing of the untold trillions in new taxes and increased energy costs the world will have to bear if agw politics goes ahead.

    Now there’s a funny thing. Lomborg tried to make a claim like that, but retracted it.

    Lords Monckton and Lawson make some sort of similar claims, but can’t back them up.

    The only way to get to these untold new trillions is to expect the people in control of spending decisions in the future are irresponsible, corrupt, stupid and gullible.

    It’s not a bad expectation to have, based on past behaviors, one supposes.

    However, if the decisions are internalized to the market, then the people making the spending decisions will be everyone, one at a time, individually, based on undistorted prices.

    Then the outcome will be our fault, and not the fault of our governments.

  46. Secret Lemonade Drinker

    You need to read what you write harder Bart – you clearly gave ethanol as an example of subsidizing fossil fuels.

    With your anti-rich anti-big-corporation socialist stance, interesting that your complaint is against all subsidies. But does that also include subsidies to the poor, to small corporations, and subsidies/taxes to promote non-fossil-fuel energy too?

    How much has been spent promoting agw? More or less everything that is spent on climate science and its academia.

    And you really are dreaming if you think a switch away from fossil energy won’t cost trillions. Or that the chief impetus for agw is anything but a ruse to get more government and taxes. Which is of course its appeal to many, yourself included it seems.

    • LSD

      I gave ethanol as an example of a subsidy to fossil fuel because it clearly is, if you follow the money and how it affects the fossile industry.

      And yes, I’m against subsidies to the poor where they — like the subsidies we are discussiong — can be shown to be against the public interest. There are many historical cases of supposed ‘for the poor’ subsidies doing the poor more harm than good.

      Likewise, in my experience the small corporation that succeeds due to the merit of its product and its entreprenuerial spirit is often only fettered by some state bureaucracy that imposes its money and its practices on the business. I know many small businessmen who routinely turn up their noses at public money for such reasons.

      And.. If I really believed the subsidies allegedly used to promote non-fossil fuel energy were necessary, then I’d certainly resort to them last after first cutting out every penny of subsidy that promotes fossil fuel, and certainly only after establishing I wasn’t looking at yet another scheme like the ethanol/biofuel scam. I would resort to such behavior-altering taxes for behavior-altering purposes long before subsidies, and only with great care and deliberation.

      But revenue-neutral CO2E taxes? That’s just paying people what they’re owed by charging users for what they take. That’s simple capitalism, and an end to state-sanctioned theft.

      How much has actually been spent ‘promoting agw’? By whom? When? Where? You’re the one saying it’s happened, the onus is on you to source your claim and demonstrate your auditable records, now that I have shown you the courtesy of providing an official US government report to support my figures as you have demanded of me.

      The same for your trillions claim.

      Put up, or shut up.

  47. Secret Lemonade Drinker

    Bart
    > I gave ethanol as an example of a subsidy to fossil fuel because it clearly
    > is, if you follow the money and how it affects the fossile industry.
    Well in that case, since virtually all products and services use energy produced from fossil fuel, then following the money, you’ll be arguing that every subsidy for anything at all, is also an indirect subsidy for fossil fuel. Not very useful.

    So you’re against subidies. As I said before, an interesting choice for someone who is in other respects a rabid statist, fanatically anti-capitalist and fixated on coercing ‘progressive’ behaviour on others, taxes being your bludgeon of choice you say.

    > But revenue-neutral CO2E taxes? That’s just paying people what they’re
    > owed by charging users for what they take. That’s simple capitalism, and
    > an end to state-sanctioned theft.
    This further pretense at capitalist leanings really is hilarious. Tax is of course theft by the state. How is this any better?
    Revenue-neutral tax? That’s even more hilarious. The money will go into the big socialist pot. Which is of course what you and the other supporters want, and is the real motive for agw scare-mongering.
    And even if revenue-neutral taxes and flying pigs come to pass, how will the level of the tax be set? And the subsidies needed to give the money back again to maintain neutrality?

    > How much has actually been spent ‘promoting agw’? By whom? When? Where?
    As previosly mentioned, for starters consider that all the taxes spent in climate science in universities are effectively spent promoting agw. Plus on other government departments like the EPA on the agw bandwagon.

    > The same for your trillions claim.
    So you persist with the fiction that switching from fossil fuel will not be hugely expensive? What technology do you have in mind exactly?

    > Put up, or shut up.
    Just as soon as you commence talking some sense.

    • LSD

      The slope is not as slippery as you claim. Your argument is invalid.

      Does seem odd, doesn’t it, to be anti-subsidies more than anti-tax, from the point of view of a simpleminded understanding of what’s wrong with taxes and subsidies.

      Between the two, subsidies are always the greater evil, as not only do they require taxes (or government borrowing, which as it introduces a drag on the market by making money more expensive) to pay for in the first place, but they are a direct assault on the democracy of the market.

      So if you want to tag me as a statist, rabid or otherwise, for supporting the fundamental principles of capitalism to require the government fulfill its basic role in the marketplace: enforce fair price is paid for scarce resources by such means as standards of weights and measures, enforcing laws against theft and fraud, and in such cases as the bandwidth that is the basis of the cell phone business and the budget of CO2E, fostering entry to the market based on a fair price.

      A revenue-neutral CO2E tax that returns income not to the state at all but to the owners of air — individual people — per capita is as capitalist as you can get, and is not significantly different in principle from selling bandwidth.

      It seems you’re accusing AT&T of being socialist.

      You may want to take that up with them.

    • Secret Lemonade Drinker

      bart
      > The slope is not as slippery as you claim. Your argument is
      > invalid.
      What a convincing hand-wave.

      > Does seem odd, doesn’t it, to be anti-subsidies more than anti-tax,
      > from the point of view of a simpleminded understanding of what’s
      > wrong with taxes and subsidies. Between the two, subsidies are
      > always the greater evil, as not only do they require taxes (or
      > government borrowing, which as it introduces a drag on the market
      > by making money more expensive) to pay for in the first place, but they
      > are a direct assault on the democracy of the market.
      Yes your view is rather simple-minded, now that you mention it. For one thing, taxes are more visible and measureable to the public, and hence harder to impose.

      > So if you want to tag me as a statist, rabid or otherwise, for
      > supporting the fundamental principles of capitalism
      I encourage you to take a look at them sometime.

      • LSD

        “taxes are more visible and measureable to the public, and hence harder to impose.”

        In the USA, corporate taxes generally exceed 35%, and growing, invisible to any who don’t work in corporate accounting. Mexico is lower, and Canada’s corporate taxes are less than half that of the USA!

        In the USA, government borrowing has reached such staggering levels as to raise questions that the credit rating of the US Treasury is in serious danger of being downgraded; this produces a huge drag on the cost of money, an invisible tax on every aspect of the US economy.

        Tax is too easy to impose in the US, invisibly and unaccountably.

        And yet, subsidies are still worse.

        How can I be anti-corporate tax and still more anti-corporate subsidy?

        All corporate taxes do is lower employment and raise prices in oligopolistic or monopolistic situations, reducing economic efficiency overall.

        Subsidies do the same, but also distort individual buying decisions, stealing the democratic choice from individual buyers, invisibly and unmeasurably.

        Don’t bring folk economics to a Bartronomics debate.

      • I think it’s SLD.

        A nice nickname, you gotta admit.

  48. How much money is spent on climate change research?

    The U.S. government apparently spent $79 billion from 1989 to 2009, with around $50 billion of this from 2000 to 2009.
    http://www.mahalo.com/answers/how-much-money-was-spent-on-global-warming-research-between-2000-and-2009

    The 2011 budget for climate change research for seven U.S. agencies alone is $2.5 billion.
    http://climatequotes.com/2011/01/08/how-can-climate-scientists-spend-so-much-money/

    Another estimate puts the total U.S. spending for climate change related research at $4 billion this year.
    http://www.thegwpf.org/the-climate-record/2239-how-much-money-are-us-taxpayers-wasting-on-climate-change-try-106-million-a-day.html

    Has the global total reached $100 billion to date?

    Max

    • Max

      Who am I to trust, Joanne Nova or an official report of the US government?

      Rock and hard place time.

      Allow me to rephrase my original question. Wildly inaccurate, vaguely defined, ill-founded and clearly biased guesstimates aside, can you provide a reliable source to back up your figure?

  49. Secret Lemonade Drinker

    How much tax money is spent on global warming propaganda?

    As a first approximation, whatever it costs to run all the climate science and related university departments and programs.

    • LSD

      I don’t doubt your claim of promotion of agw as a subject of discussion from the pro-agw side of your +/-agw debacle, up to perhaps one tenth of one percent of your highly inflated claims.

      Are you seriously calling all Earth Science, Meteorology, Computer Science, Civil Engineering, Geology, Oceanography, Hydrology, Economics, Physics, Astrophysics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biology, Botany, Zoology, Forestry, Agronomy and related fields propaganda?

      Well, I can understand Economics. And Meteorology. And Civil Engineering. And Hydrology. ;) But the rest of them?

      Science spending is generally worth something, so long as the science meets standards of scientific inquiry, which is independent of the judgement of any government or bureaucratic decision-making body not itself grounded in science.

      How much tax money is spent globally on promoting or co-promoting fossil industries?

      I’ve adequately demonstrated from bona fide government records that the figure is tens of billions a year at the level of the federal government on just the tiniest and most explicit slice of direct subsidy.

      Using your arm-waving, non-time-limited, sourced-in-fiction methods, I could claim the total figure is in the gazillion dollar range.

      But I don’t.

      I just say that $1 of such subsidy is always too much.

      Everything else after that is just compounding the error.

    • SLD,
      A little too broad.

    • Are you seriously calling all Earth Science, Meteorology, Computer Science, Civil Engineering, Geology, Oceanography, Hydrology, Economics, Physics, Astrophysics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biology, Botany, Zoology, Forestry, Agronomy and related fields propaganda?
      Well, I can understand Economics. And Meteorology. And Civil Engineering. And Hydrology. ;) But the rest of them?

      Only true to the extent these others deal with climate, obviously.

      Science spending is generally worth something, so long as the science meets standards of scientific inquiry, which is independent of the judgement of any government or bureaucratic decision-making body not itself grounded in science.

      Close to 100% of climate science is funded by government, and thus behoven to it, thereby completely failing this basic test of independence. That’s why it is little more than one-sided CAGW propaganda and riddled with fraud – CAGW being such a brilliant way to push the totalitarian political agenda, a cracking justification for ramping up the state via more taxes and regulations. Little wonder then the political Left are devout believers in CAGW.

      How much tax money is spent globally on promoting or co-promoting fossil industries?

      If there’s any truth in your claims, the benefits would obviously also accrue to all users of fossil energy, however indirect. But Yes, should just be scrapped if true.