by Judith Curry
Commenters occasionally ask questions about my editorial decisions, in terms of topics and papers I select for discussion, and the rationale for occasionally deleting comments. Such questions are beginning to dominate the Salby thread, so I am starting a new thread to clarify and and provide a forum to discuss such issues.
I believe Dr. Curry is very angry at the IPCC leadership because she believes they betrayed her and other scientists who took the IPCC conclusions on faith, repeated them, and then found out that some in the leadership had been cooking the books. That made her and others feel foolish, and she appropriately resented it. She still accepts many basic climate science principles but no longer believes that the most important IPCC conclusions should remain unchallenged. She routinely issues those challenges in the form of the topics she posts, and the implicit challenge that all of us should make our judgments without blind acceptance of the pronouncements from authority or their implied certainty, just as she is prepared to do based on her own expertise.
But she is saying, “Well, if you believe that, can you effectively refute THIS CHALLENGE, and THIS ONE, and THIS NEXT ONE? Which is why we see many of the posts that appear here. Well, can we? Almost certainly yes – not in the minds of anyone with unalterable opinions, but in the perception of readers who come here looking for answers rather than arguments. It is those readers who are our audience, and to whom, in my mind, we have an obligation to be well informed, truthful, and as objective as possible.
JC comment: Fred, a thoughtful post, but not really on the mark. I don’t really do “angry.” It is not so much that I am angry at the IPCC leadership, as having become convinced that the IPCC’s consensus seeking approach is absolutely pernicious to climate science, not to mention for policy making. Making progress on science requires discourse and continually challenging our hypotheses and the status quo beliefs. I have spent the last 18 months or so trying to figure out how climate science got into this mess and how we can fix it, and thus I have spent considerable time reading relevant literature from the social science, humanities, legal, communication etc. literature.
Interesting point about readers coming here to look for answers versus looking for arguments. There are very few “answers” in climate science, and this site is really intended as forum for discussion and arguments. So the “truth merchant” approach to climate blogging (such as RealClimate) is emphatically what this site is not about. This site is about discussing issues at the knowledge frontier, where discussion of uncertainty and ignorance is paramount.
I have always respected you and your insight, but you are giving this blog too much credibility; this is another of Judith’s whole charade of “this is interesting! Maybe I will put it on my blog and reserve judgment to avoid any criticism of myself, but pretend it has validity.”
I pointed this out with Loehle’s piece too. It is a dumb game she plays and everyone else sees it.
JC comment: Chris, the technical science papers that I discuss here generally fall into one of four categories:
1. Papers that are viewed as important by some segment of my audience, about which I clearly state my own strongly negative opinions. Skydragons is the archetypal example here, where it can by argued that my highlighting this book and its flaws has marginalized the skydragon group in the broader skeptical community.
2. Papers contributed by a Denizen, preferably one that has been published, that are on a relevant topic, and for which the authors are prepared to actively engage in discussion. The Loehle and Scafetta paper is the latest example, and I think that everyone learns a lot when the authors actively engage in the dialogue.
3. Papers that I spot that I think are important, the latest example being the Villarini papers. (this category seems to fit the type of paper you think I should be posting.
4. Papers, articles, testimony or presentations in the news that I deem to be interesting, the latest example being Salby’s presentation. These are presented more for discussion than any sort of “truth judgment” on my part, although I will take a stand on a paper if it is squarely in my area of expertise and/or I have been asked questions by the media (e.g. China coal). Often these papers are on topics that I don’t know too much about. A good example is the solar snooze discussion thread, where I personally learned alot from the discussion (and I assume the Denizens did also).
Chris, when you mature as a scientist, you will come to understand that science is process, not a collection of facts, especially on a topic as complex as climate science. I hope that you don’t let advocacy get in the way of maturing as a scientist.
Can you please state for the record what *specifically* you found “sufficiently important” about this “that we should start talking about” it?
Thanks in advance.
JC comment: The fact that Murry Salby is a former colleague of mine and definitely a scientific straight shooter initially caught my attention on this. If correct, his hypothesis has far reaching implications on both AGW science and policy. His presentation was extremely lucid and well done (even without availability of the plots.) The topic he addresses was one that I thought was squarely in the “what we know with confidence” category; this presentation synthesizes and opens up issues at the knowledge frontier on this topic. Fascinating stuff. So if you are irritated that “deniers” will use this talk (and the fact that I featured it on my blog) as ammo in their war against CO2 stabilization policy, well that is too bad. I for one am not going to let your irritation get in the way of having a good discussion here where we all stand to learn something.
The frustration that the “warm” bloggers (e.g. RC et al.) seem to have with Climate Etc. is that I stray from the party line of the consensus. They seem to view their role as explainers of the consensus and arbiters of climate “truth.” I am striving for something different, sort of an e-salon where we discuss interesting topics at the knowledge frontier.
With regards to moderation, Climate Etc. has been getting 300-500 comments per day. I scroll through all of them and at least glance at each, and read selected ones (from commenters i find interesting, check links, etc.). About 20 posts per day land in spam (not just the obvious viagra kind of stuff, but stuff that was posted with intent here). Some land there for no discernible reason. Others land there for issues of length or number of links. These posts are released from spam as soon as I spot them. Other posts trigger a “no-no” word, either on the wordpress list or a list of words that i have compiled. Every comment that Christopher Game posts lands in spam, presumably wordpress flags “game.” I read each of the posts with “no-no” words, and release those that otherwise have some redeeming value or at least don’t actively insult one of the commenters. If a post with “no-no” words has no value at all to the discussion it is trashed. I also respond to emails from commenters about objectionable posts.
Some questions have been asked about perceived uneveness in moderation. If the post has a moderation note at the end, I will be rigourously enforcing moderation (both topicality and civility). Moderation for civility is most stringent on threads with high activity. There is a delicate balance between non-censorship and stupid trash talking, the judgments are not always easy. For the most part the participants behave, but today has been a definite challenge. Thank you all for your continued and stimulating participation.