On being a radical scholar

by Judith Curry

There are two problems with the current criteria for tenure: they don’t reflect modern, interdisciplinary scholarship, and they don’t include metrics to evaluate influence and perspective beyond peer-reviewed publications.

At Scientific American blogs:  Three things I learned at the Purdue Conference for Pre-tenure Women: On Being a Radical Scholar, by anthropologist Kate Clancy.

The broader context for this post is the challenges that female academics face in terms of raising a family, an issue that I have been very proactive at dealing with as Chair of an academic department.   The part of Clancy’s essay that struck me particularly was the radical scholar discussion, which I excerpt:

But those of us who insist on playing with our toys in the academic sandbox need to be radicals. And I do think a lot of the ways we need to be radical involves how we perform our job: we need to set boundaries so that we aren’t always doing the service work no one wants, we need to make our passions our scholarly interests in the face of some who would invalidate it, we need to perform our confidence in front of people who might undermine us. We need to get tenure.

But I think it also means reflecting critically on what it takes to get tenure, and whether the way it’s done is the way it should be done. There are two problems with the current criteria for tenure: they don’t reflect modern, interdisciplinary scholarship, and they don’t include metrics to evaluate influence and perspective beyond peer-reviewed publications.

More institutions are recognizing that interdisciplinary scholarship is a good thing, and some are even able to hire people with joint hires among the social sciences and ethnic studies, or biology and engineering. Yet these institutions that know they want their faculty to be twenty first century scholars use the same metrics to evaluate interdisciplinary scholars as they use to evaluate traditional ones. From conversations I had at the conference, they don’t know how to retain these scholars, or support them, and so many feel adrift, or don’t make it to tenure. And these faculty are very often from underrepresented groups – every one I met at the conference, in fact, was a woman of color.

Then there is the added issue of measuring influence and impact in a twenty first century society. At an R1 institution like mine, the criteria for tenure are to publish ten papers (thereabouts depending on the discipline, a book and some papers if you’re in the humanities), have teaching that doesn’t suck, and more or less pull your weight in terms of service. It doesn’t seem like much, until you consider the weeks, months and even years of work that go into each of those ten publications: writing and getting the grants (a near-impossible feat these days, with both NIH and NSF funding rates around 5%), advising the students, doing the research, analyzing it, hitting innumerable dead ends, drafting and revising, submitting and resubmitting. Publishing ten quality papers is hard work, and is in many ways a fine way to demonstrate one’s contribution to a field, perspective, and the beginning of one’s trajectory as a professor.

But are peer-reviewed publications, read and cited by only by a select group of those peers, the best way to assess influence and importance? They are certainly no longer the only way. My 2006 paper on iron-deficiency anemia and menstruation has been cited by six other papers; my 2011 blog post on this paper has been viewed tens of thousands of times and received almost sixty comments between its two postings. Some anthropology blogs have been responsible for starting entire new branches of the discipline, others show an applied side of anthropology that helps us see the impact of this field in our everyday lives; some ground their writing in a historical and evolutionary approach or move us with their perspective on war and poverty, where still others are not only influential, but regularly get more hits than the website for our main professional association. Some use their blog as a service to the discipline, and a newcomer is dispelling myths about milk (full disclosure: both of those blogs are by collaborators, kickass collaborators in fact). This is by no means an exhaustive list.

I’m not saying every academic needs to be interdisciplinary, or every academic needs a blog. But some of us are committed to thinking about scholarship in a different way, or being public intellectuals. We want to put time and effort into influencing our fields but also inspiring lay scientists and future academics. That is its own kind of professional impact.

So how does one be a radical when radical scholarship is hard to measure with current tenure criteria?

Be that radical anyway. Be the scholar you think you should be, bringing your whole self to the table, finding your passion and making it your scholarship, and having a plan that will help you become a leader in your field.

Every single female academic I have ever talked to about tenure has admitted to having a back-up plan. If I don’t get tenure, I’ll be okay because I can stay at home with the kids. I can go back to school. I can get back into my art. I can write. I can consult. If we’re going to all have these back-up plans (which, true to our impostor syndrome, are often better-defined than our actual plan to tenure) why not put it to good use? Live our lives, do our jobs the way we think they should be done, and try to get tenure that way. We already know what we’ll do if it doesn’t work.

And for goodness’ sake, don’t pull up the ladder behind you. That shit just ain’t cool.

JC comment:  I have been thinking about these same issues, and was delighted to come across this article, which I find to be exhilarating.  Universities and academics in arts and sciences are “keeping score” in a 20th century manner.  Many of the other academic disciplines are much more flexible in terms of what counts as scholarly output:  for example, consulting counts in the College of Management; patents and design and real world solutions are counted in the College of Engineering; starting companies counts in both.

The issue of the impact of blogging is an interesting one.  I’ll give some stats related to my own blogging and scholarship.  Over the course of my 30 year academic career, I have published about 170 refereed journal articles.  According to the webofscience, these papers have been cited a total of 5000 times, from 3200 different papers.  My single paper with the highest number of citations (634) was the Webster et al. 2005 paper on hurricanes in a warming climate. Note: webofscience (behind a big paywall) is the gold standard for counting citations from refereed journals, producing citation numbers that are about half that obtained from google scholar.   Now consider the stats for Climate Etc:  nearly 3 million hits, and well over 100,000 comments over the course of one year.  I suspect that my personal impact on the field of climate science has been greater over the past year than the preceding 30 years (although my impact during the past year would be diminished without the previous 30 years).  And even if traditional scholars in the field want to ignore me,  I am happy with “inspiring lay scientists and future academics. That is its own kind of professional impact.”

I guess being labeled a “heretic” and “turning on my colleagues” and taking to the blogosphere qualifies me for the title of “radical scholar.”  I have been able to afford to do this since I am tenured and a few years away from being able to afford to retire.  But what of the young scholars that Kate Clancy writes about? Perhaps 7 years of  conformity to get tenure is not unreasonable; however, academia may lose its potentially most exciting scholars that way.  There may be gender differences in the need to conform and get recognition from peers (I hypothesize that females are less interested in conforming and being blessed by their peers :))

IMO, all academics in the arts and sciences should be radical scholars.  In the field of climate science, the forces against being a radical scholar are particularly strong, enforced by the institutionalized consensus seeking/affirming process.  “Going emeritus” seems to be required to liberate academics from these shackles.   This should not be the case.

How to change this situation?  This article has motivated me see what I can do at my own institution (Georgia Tech).  Georgia Tech gets 5 stars for dealing with the interdisciplinary issue, and maybe 3 stars for dealing with nontraditional impacts, in the sciences anyways.    Communicating science is an emerging emphasis, so I think this is moving in the right direction.  I would be interested in hearing from other university academics on this.

228 responses to “On being a radical scholar

  1. Judith,

    I would have thought that society would realize that men and women think differently.
    Todays women really have it tough to get into tenure as it has been a boys club attitude with all sorts of traditions.

    • Yes, Joe, men and women think and act differently because of different internal motives and drives. That is an asset to science!

      Big Brother’s lock-step control of science was delayed by great female scientists, e.g., Marie Sklodowski Curie, Ida Eva Tacke Noddack, and Maria Goeppert-Mayer, especially in astronomy and solar physics:

      The astronomer who first discovered that the top of the Sun’s atmosphere consists almost entirely of H and He, Dr. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, later advised young people:

      “Do not undertake a scientific career in quest of fame or money. There are easier and better ways to reach them. Undertake it only if nothing else will satisfy you; for nothing else is probably what you will receive. Your reward will be the widening of the horizon as you climb. And if you achieve that reward you will ask no other.”

      http://www.ptep-online.com/index_files/2011/PP-26-12.PDF

      The above link will take you to a paper dedicated to several great female figures in astronomy and solar physics.

      It is no coincidence that a great astronomer, Dr. Virginia Trimble, was editor of our paper, “On the signature of local element synthesis” [Comments on Astrophysics 18, no. 6, 335-345 (1997)].

      Sexism and racism are tools of consensus science. One of the greatest astrophysicists of our time was a black male, Dr. Carl A. Rouse (PhD, Cal Tech, 1956), who published, “Evidence for a small, high-Z, iron-like solar core” [Astron. Astrophys. 149, 65-72 (1985)] and was sidelined for the rest of his life.

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel

  2. I’m not sure exactly why, but that reminds me of this paper

    http://medicalhypotheses.blogspot.com/2009/02/why-are-modern-scientists-so-dull.html

    “Question: why are so many leading modern scientists so dull and lacking in scientific ambition? Answer: because the science selection process ruthlessly weeds-out interesting and imaginative people. At each level in education, training and career progression there is a tendency to exclude smart and creative people by preferring Conscientious and Agreeable people. The progressive lengthening of scientific training and the reduced independence of career scientists have tended to deter vocational ‘revolutionary’ scientists in favour of industrious and socially adept individuals better suited to incremental ‘normal’ science.”

    • Thanks John, that is a very interesting paper.

    • Add “post” in front of “normal science” and you are right on the money.
      At heart, post normal science is banal.

    • John Kennedy

      What an interesting paper. I suspect your quote can be related to many areas of life such as teaching and politicians. I also suspect there is a greater amount of specialsm in most fields these days and the well rounded individual becomes less apparent in public life as Vanilla becomes the favoured flavour.

      Tonyb

    • This could also be a description of an environment lacking much low hanging fruit.

    • John Kennedy

      A very good article, which would apply across many professions, not only for scientists.

      Consider corporate employees.

      It has been written that there are 2 basic traits of importance which HR managers must consider in hiring new applicants: intelligence and assertiveness (or aggressiveness)

      1. Intelligent + assertive: Needed, but only in very limited quantity (for top management)
      2. Intelligent + non-assertive: Highly desirable. This group ends up across the whole management structure.
      3. Unintelligent + non-assertive: Very much needed. This is the bulk of the work force.
      4. Unintelligent and assertive: Unusable (these individuals often end up in prison for violent crimes).

      Looks like scientific organizations are also looking for “#2s”.

      Max

      • It appears that #3 is the bulk of the consensus science community.

        A very bright female scientists discovered that the top of the Sun’s atmosphere consists almost entirely of the two lightest elements, H and He.

        There were probably no or very few female scientists at the Bilderberg when they unanimously decided in 1967 that the interior of the Sun is also composed of H and He.

      • Where was that written? The companies that I worked for had plenty of intelligent and assertive people.

      • Latimer Alder

        And me.

        And assertiveness is NOT the same as ‘aggressiveness’. It is a big mistake to confuse the two.

      • Your number 4 catagory is more prevalent than one might think and they are the most dangerous person an organization can have. But intelligent vs. unintelligent is not quite the distinction, generally the job requirements weed out truely unitelligent people. It’s the ability to distinguish good ideas and bad ideas, logical thinking, and the ability to be self critical.

        And assertive is only part of it, it’s more like leadership skills, the ability to speak well, to champion your ideas, your organizational skills and working hard. So what you get is someone who who looks like a leader, who works very hard, is well organized and does a good job but they can’t tell a good idea from bad one. If they come up with a bad idea, they won’t think it through and kill it, they charge forward and if things go badly, they just work harder and make things worse. They can be very succesful, if they are directed (controlled) by a higher level intelligent person, if they are in a no lose situation or if they get things right accidentally. But if they are really looking to make a big splash or take the bull by the horns they can really screw things up.

        At my job we call these people energetic but stupid. It is also said that when you are going in the wrong direction, going faster doesn’t help.

        So to bring this to climate, do we have any people like this in the IPCC? Champions, strong leaders, people who are good at organizing and getting things done, pushing things forward the envisioned end game. But never get caught up in details like is this correct, are we being as accurate and thourgh as possible.

        I think your type 4 person is very common and very dangerous.

    • Question: why are so many leading modern scientists so dull and lacking in scientific ambition?

      Has it ever been different? Hardly anybody knows more than 2 of the members of the Royal Society when Isaac Newton was president. Balmer and Perrin were as dull as anyone in history, as was Albert Michelson. So, for that matter, was Robert Gallo, whose work on retroviruses earned him a “Golden Fleece” award (though not exactly lacking scientific ambition.) Anybody remember Guilleman and Schalley? In their day they were mostly conventional academic scientists; it was the decades worth of their accumulated work that mattered. Rosalind Franklin and Lisa Meitner did not strike most observers of science as geniuses, but rather as systematic plodders, but their work was integral to two Nobel prizes.

      I would suggest that the literal answer to a literal reading of the sentence is: there are so many scientists who are dull and lacking in scientific ambition because there are so many scientists in total and most just don’t shine as brightly as the upper 1%..

      Could anybody name the dull plodders who made Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or the Hubble Space Telescope actually work?

      I shall end with the dull plodder, hardly ever out of his lab over decades, Kekule. He required more that two decades of plodding lab work to figure out the structure of benzene, but he is remembered for a brief reverie. Without that reverie, he’d be remembered, if at all, as dull and lacking in ambition.

      The other answer to the question is: because the questioner is just not interested in most of the scientific work that will eventually pay off.

    • Answer: because the science selection process ruthlessly weeds-out interesting and imaginative people. At each level in education, training and career progression there is a tendency to exclude smart and creative people by preferring Conscientious and Agreeable people.

      Is that second sentence even true?

      It is worth remembering that Newton, Gauss, Einstein, Bohr and Feynman were all products of traditional education and all were promoted because they were really good at the standard math and science curricula. The same can be said of Lisa Meitner, Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin. And of countless others.

    • This may sound heretical but in my experience creativity is not the most important attribute of a scientist.

      It is of course important to have some creative individuals within the population, to generate the scientific revolutions that are essential for long term progress. But within those epochs between revolutions it is very important to have a massive population of bright, motivated, and extremely meticulous individuals who will incrementally lay the foundation for the next revolution.

      In my experience, it is the fields which have a higher proportion of “creativity” that spend more time proposing and abandoning theories with little overall forward progress.

      I define creativity here as a publication culture that encourages novel results and discourages replication and precise parameterization of known effects.

      So I would suggest that our current system is fairly adaptive in producing the right mix of scientists if it is discouraging fly-by-the seat of your pants personalities.

  3. Peter Webster

    Having been in academia for a few years longer than Judith, I am free to do research in almost anything I want as long as I can get funding for it. So, I can take on high-risk research like designing and implementing forecast and warning systems in the developing world. This may seem like a strange thing for a theorist and modeler to do but it is interesting and useful science. But, although funding has been difficult to obtain (and mostly from nontraditional funding sources) we have managed to accomplish quite a lot. My continuation as a professor is evaluated through a 5-year post-tenure review (sometimes called the “drool test”). These faculty committees appreciate high-risk and useful science by senior faculty. But this type of research is far too risky for a young untenured faculty member. There is endless travel. I have visited Bangladesh 17 times in the last decade and many more times to SE Asia. There have been seemingly countless attempts at obtaining funds and our decade of work in Bangladesh was supported by USAID (until the Bush administration came into power), then CARE and also Georgia Tech (who have been most supportive), and now we are identifying some in-country funding sources. But given the tenure battles that a young faculty has to engage in and the subsequent group building for the next promotion, it means that high-risk “useful” science is left to the curmudgeons of academia or the bland bureaucrats of government. The brilliance and energies of our young faculty cannot be part of this applied science. Simply, high-risk science is not conducive to frequent publications. Our Bangladesh work has garnered four publications in a decade. Fortunately, I have other “hobbies” and a productive group to fuel them. But there must be some way of allowing the young and bright minds to turn to useful, high-risk science and be rewarded and not penalized.

    • Can I haz yr air miles? :-)

      • Peter Webster

        You are VERY welcome!

      • Peter Webster

        I do wonder if the constraints of academia and gaining the funding required in order to progress a scientific career that John Kennedy alluded to above, may encase many of its participants in a hard cocoon of sobriety which, when they become successful or retire, they can slough off and behave more outrageoisly-Judith, this first verse of a poem on that theme may amuse you-it is defintely not intended to mirror your age or circumstances :)

        “When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
        with a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
        And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
        and satin candles, and say we’ve no money for butter.
        I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired
        and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
        and run my stick along the public railings
        and make up for the sobriety of my youth.
        I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
        and pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
        and learn to spit…”

        Jenny joseph

        http://labyrinth_3.tripod.com/page59.html

      • Peter Webster

        Thank you for the poem. It is years since I have read it. I worry, though, about the “sloughing” comment. I hope that doesn’t fit what I try and do. Strangely, I find myself working harder as I get older. I have a group of 4 post-docs/research students and 4 PhD students. I work both on my theoretical studies and on developing country adaptation. My point is a simple one: the latter is difficult for a young person to do and still chase the gold ring of tenure: the time scale is too long and we have yet in academia learnt how to award “good work in progress”. It is easier for me as a more senior faculty.

    • It is interesting that you point out that funding was cut out for your work in Bangladesh by the Bush administration. Why was that a bad thing? Why should the US tax payer be funding your work there?

      • Peter Webster

        Dear Mr. Starkey,

        The Clinton administration believed in capacity building and technological transfer to the less-developed world. The idea was to increase local resilience to natural disasters so that eventually they could start to look after themselves more fully. The Bush administration believed that post disaster relief was the better strategy. This is, of course, a philosophically different point of view and perhaps one could make arguments why the Bush doctrine is better. I believe, though, in the former approach as it is (i) cheaper and (ii) provides a process for internal development.

        I guess I am of the deep belief that handouts are not in anyone’s interest be it in the US or abroad. Far better to use funds to develop a resilience to natural disasters than to to wait for help to arrive after the disaster.

        Here are some reasons why I believe that “investment” in hazard research is important:

        (i) Self interest: I believe it is in the US interest to mitigate hazards in countries living on the edge. The US invests an enormous of money “mopping up” after disasters. I could give you the list. But if the country has a forecasting and warning system that allows mitigation of the impacts of disaster then the US investment following a disaster is less. A country beset with poverty can become a more radical (anti more-developed countries).
        (ii) Leads to the building of capacity for self-help
        (iii) I think it is the moral thing to do. If I (you, we) have knowledge that can help the poor of the world then I think we are morally obliged to pass this on.
        (iv) Interesting science.

        And here is an interesting point: the probabilistic flood forecasting and warning system we have introduced operationally in Bangladesh is far better than that which is available to the US and Europe. So lessons learned in the less-developed world can provide examples for the more developed countries. Can I point you to a paper:

        http://webster.eas.gatech.edu/Papers/BAMS_Webster_etal_2010.pdf

        that talks about what we have done. BTW, the 10-year program cost the US government and the tax payer about $400K.

        Peter W

  4. Very good article and female perspective, You may appreciate a male prespective :)

    http://ourhydrogeneconomy.blogspot.com/2011/10/science-as-contact-sport.html

  5. Hank Zentgraf

    Academic scholarly journals could use some competition from a journal system that promotes radical subjects, innovative approaches, and broad/open review. Perhaps some top notch emeritus researchers could take up this cause and get it organized. Non-government funding would be required to keep the process from being contaminated with a straight-jacket political correct mind set. I am convinced that the private sector would be interested in funding such an effort, especially to support more climate science based upon observation and less models.

    • Interesting suggestion

    • Journals are mostly funded by subscription (virtually none by government or industry) and many publishers are for-profit, so if there was a market for this stuff it would probably exist. Or feel free to try it. Journal publishers are always looking for new products. There is also a new wave of “author pays” open access journals where something like this might work. Some are becoming quite profitable. There was a recent start-up of a radical thought sort, but that’s all I know about it. But you still need peer review, and of course readers.

      • A radical Journal dedicated to dis-confirming, disproving, failing to replicate, and refuting. I bet it would have lots of buyers and contributors!

    • To Retain Radical Scholars: Develop radical measures.

      E.g., Develop measures of influence in communicating science

      15 Tools for monitoring a Website’s Popularity

      Rank in related field.
      Judithcurry.com At Compete.com
      e.g. in the top 4.

      1. climateaudit.org 8.12K

      2. pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com 6.62K

      3. bishophill.squarespace.com 3.45K

      4. judithcurry.com 3.00K

      5. rankexploits.com 1.94K

      “Climate, Etc.” “Judith Curry” 58,000 hits in Google.

      Though “Climate, Etc.” “Judith Curry” in Google Scholar only gives 12 hits.
      Judith Curry in Google Scholar lists 13,100.

      Alexa Reach for JudithCurry.com Rank
      Traffic 0.00132%
      Global rank 150,941 etc.

      Recommend someone research quantitative measures of radical influence in science as a measure for tenure, other than published papers!

  6. I think you are an inspiration, Dr. Curry.

  7. There should be a whole new suite of journals, too. One for each discipline, titled “XXXXXX Journal of Overdue Retractions”.

    >:)

  8. I read this witha growing sense of puzzlement. Academia must be one of the freest institutions ever to have existed. A university – and academics in general – can choose any way they like to organise themeslves..they can create etheir career structures in any way that suit sthem . And they are jealous guardians of these freedoms. …the hysteria over the intrusion of FoI is but one example.

    But with all that freedom..with almost zero legislative intervention, with no requirement to act in any particular way and (supposedly) with some of the best brains working there, it has ended up with a fairly bonkers career structure (as Peter Webster has pointed out), organisation that maybe fitted the world a hundred years ago and seemingly no mechanisms for correcting any of these failings.

    I worked for some years in an IT multinational. We too had plenty of smart people..and a few very very smart ones. But as part of ensuring the ‘corporate health’, all these aspects were actively reviewed on a regular (at least every two years) basis. And if they were found to be no longer fit for tomorrow’s purpose rather than yesterday’s, they were changed pronto. Mostly it worked..occasionally there were a few Snafus. But at least it meant that we weren’t trying to solve 2015′s problems with 1990′s tools. Sometimes the changes were a it personally uncomfortable, but we were good at adapting.

    And yet academia shows no signs of adaptability at all. I revisit my old Oxford college every now and see all the same organisational structures from the 1970s (and probably the 1870s) still in place…wireless capable and iPad equipped perhaps…but still the same old, same old under the surface.

    So it will be an interesting spectator sport to see if and how academia is forced to change in the next ten to twenty years. What is sure, and Judith’s remarks about influence and reach illustrate this very well, is that change it must. The days of the academic squirelling away on his or her own little corner of some obscure subject and publishing three papers a yeear read by only four others can never return.

    And – relevant again to the wider topic – does this give anybody any confidence at all that academics – with their insular and outdated working practices – are at all the best people to advise on what some still claim as ‘the greatest problem facing mankind’?

    Colour me unconvinced.

  9. “I guess being labeled a “heretic” and “turning on my colleagues” and taking to the blogosphere qualifies me for the title of “radical scholar””

    So I guess the label depends on what you think “radical” means. :-)

    What is the nature of your radicalism?

    Most radical perspectives take it to mean going to the root of the problem. On the contrary, it has been disconcerting how routinely you miss this mark and ignore the deeper questions raised — especially regarding your own world-view, ideas, or actions. At least for me, you have evidenced quite the opposite. :-(

    The problem may be an inability to bring to bear a coherent method for examining your thinking and raising questions.

    For example, sure, o.k., good, there are certainly questions of gender raised by tenure in relation to women with families. But climate change and gender – especially the disproportionately severe impacts for women and children (especially the poorest women and children) – is not even on your radar screen. Why?

    Or ask yourself why so few women – and certainly almost no radical women interested in climate science or climate change issues – comment on your blog at any time or wish to contribute here. Why? You seem to think you are misunderstood (by anyone who criticizes your analyses). That seems like quite the persistent victim stance on your part (either that or you would have see yourself as smarter than everyone else to see yourself as so profoundly misunderstood) and I suggest that another possibility is that there are many people who get you, your observations and actions, and are still critical; and that many of those are actually contributors to radicalism. Do you often have such thoughts and wonder why?

    Anyway, that is the kind of questioning/listening/observing/reflecting stance that is the basis of “radical scholarship”, and it should not be confused with the method of personal issues-making and superficial analyses and well-defended ideological view that has in reality made up the bulk of your blog activity. Sorry. :-(

    • Here’s a new definition for radical: Martha objects to what the person is saying :) And with Martha’s comment, my hope for females diminishes :(

      • Oh goody. I qualify too then. As do quite a few of the denizens here.

        I will have a T-shirt made..’100% Martha Approved Radical Sceptic’
        with ‘And Proud Of It’ on the back.

        Maybe Josh the Cartoonist can help us with a picture..

      • On reflection this won’t work. I think Martha objects to anything anyone says as a matter of principle. Being a ’100% Martha Approved Radical’ covers all the human race bar her.

        She is deliberately the only soldier on parade that is in step. And takes great delight in telling us all so.

      • Latimer,
        I don’t care if I ‘delight’ you (or not) so let’s be clear on that. :-)

        What’s more, I often ‘agree’ with the ideas or reasoning of other people. While it may not happen often here ( at least not in ways you might value or notice), it does happen, and at those times, I similarly give my observations and reasonso why.

        Why is it so important to you to agree or disagree?

      • Martha

        Have no fear that you will be ever in any danger of delighting me. You can rest assured that short of you having a personality transplant, it ain’t going to happen.

        And – as you may have seen – I often disagree with many here. But when I do, I advance some reasons other than just a turgid whinge about how Judith doesn’t do what you think she should be doing an dpaying enough attention to your favourite fixations. Seems to me like you have (maybe the first recorded) a bad attack of Blog Envy.

        You don’t like how Judith does it? Get your own blog and do it your way. See if you can attract a readership. But don’t just ponce around here like Groucho Marx complaining that you’d never belong to a club that would accpet you as a member. The door can be used both for exit as well as entry.

        As Mosh pointed out, without your enormous chips on each shoulder, it is sometimes possible to hold a near sensible conversation with you. Which does not necessarily mean agreeing with you. But your last ‘Bash Judith’ post is a sad regression to type.

      • Apologies for my misattribution. It was Hunter, not Mosh.

      • Radical means of, relating to or proceeding from a root/origin. In other words deep. Because human activities are very often superficial/shallow, it’s also very often falsely used to mean extreme. It’s actually the opposite of extreme. Radical is an antonym of extreme.

      • Thank you for such a pointless comment. It requires no reflection or attention. :-)

        “with Martha’s comment, my hope for females diminishes”

        Very few women and also very few men are looking to you for what you think or hope. :-(

      • lol

        However, she is just one of a large group. I know you overreacted on purpose. How do you copy/paste the little images? I want a smiley right here.

        Be of good cheer. You run a superior blog.

      • Latimer Alder

        Colon hyphen uppercase 0

        Like this
        :-)

      • hmm. didn’t work.

      • However, she is just one of a large group. I know you overreacted on purpose. :-O

        Thanks, Latimer Alder.

      • Latimer Alder

        Whoops. Uppercase zero – at least on a UK keyboard

      • However, she is just one of a large group. I know you overreacted on purpose. :-)

    • Martha,
      Just when you actually engaged in a reasonable conversation, you have to make such a regression.
      Your definition of ‘raidcal’ is basically a misanthropic hard core leftist stereotype dogmatic parody of real radicalism:
      Totally predictable, derivative and intolerant.

      • hunter,
        Of all the men here, you are among the most easily threatened by any questionoing (real or perceived) of what you know and how you see things.

        That’s unfortunate, because I would like to ask what you would say is ‘radicalism’, or ‘real radicalism’.

        Also your perception of my political beliefs is wrong. Instead of asking me about this or bothering to know what I have already said about this, and how it influences my understanding of climate change issues as these relate to social situations (including — and I make no apologies to you for having a special interest in this — the situation of poor women and children) or the non-mystery of my analysis of deeper, broader climate science dynamics, you prefer to make things up. Whatever.

      • Martha,
        That your poor vision would mis-perceive my ridicule of you as defensiveness speaks volumes of your inability to participate in the real world.
        You know nothing of me, of my position irt woman academics and with people in general.
        You are just miffed that someone stands up to your bogus stereotypical and unoriginal spew.
        As you say, “whatever.”

      • @ Martha …

        Most radical perspectives take it to mean going to the root of the problem. On the contrary, it has been disconcerting how routinely you miss this mark and ignore the deeper questions raised — especially regarding your own world-view, ideas, or actions. At least for me, you have evidenced quite the opposite.

        Just as not all plants have singular tap roots, not all problems have single “root causes”, or whatever you want to call them. And, for that matter, there are many problems, and one can be “radical” WRT one problem while not addressing others. As I perceive Prof. Curry’s concerns, they have mostly to do with the problem of the corruption of honest, objective science with political and ideological agendas that have nothing to do with the truth of the climate and how human activity influences it. Those agendas’ only association with our (culture’s) scientific evaluations (can’t say “models” as that word often means something different here) of climate etc. is the incentive they provide to distort, pervert, and corrupt those evaluations relative to what honest science would provide. Prof. Curry is “digging down to the roots” (or trying to) of that distortion, perversion, and corruption, presumably in the hopes that something will come to light to help remove that problem, the way you’d pull a weed from your garden.

        This sort of speech:

        So you decide the relevance of Europeans, Americans, and (all?) others who support democratic principles, for eveyrone [sic]. That is kind of interesting. How did you decide all this?

        and

        Tell me, what exactly are your political beliefs? What is your view of social democracy as it relates to climate science/climate change action?

        [My bolding] … gives a strong clue to the speaker’s ideology. It sounds just like one of the Marxbots out of Ayn Rand (Anthem or We the Living, IIRC). “[S]ocial democracy” is code for soviet socialism: the collective will/belief is determined by appointing a central committee (soviet) which in turn is subverted by ideologues for their own purposes (CF Lenin). Thus the IPCC is created to determine the collective opinion of “Science” regarding the disastrous human influence (notice how “disastrous” is assumed) on climate and what needs to be done about it. This in turn is subverted and turned to ideological purposes unrelated to climate.

        Given your language, I would assume your image of that purpose is essentially Marxist. Whether it is or not, you clearly support the perversion of Science for the sake of your political agenda: Prof. Curry has questioned the IPCC’s message and exposed its ideological underpinnings and you snark of “social democracy”: she shouldn’t question the majority consensus (as determined by the already corrupted IPCC).

        I noticed at the time how you jumped like you’d been stuck with a red-hot needle at the way she explicitly pointed out the “consensus building” process as part of the root of the problem. Clearly she’s a radical, since she’s going to the root of the problem. “Consensus building” has no place in Science, and if the “Scientific consensus” is to be of any use to anyone outside science it must be entirely spontaneous, formed in proper interactions with skepticism at many points. Your problem (I suspect) is that her radicalism is dedicated to digging out the root(s) of and removing the very weed your radicalism is dedicated to planting in Science.

        In a way, this is similar to how climate alarm fanatics accuse anybody who questions their dogma of corruption by taking money from “big oil” or whatever. “They couldn’t possibly be acting in the general interest because we’re acting in the general interest and they don’t agree with us.” Thus: “You can’t be a radical because I’m a radical and you don’t agree with me.”

        That’s religious fanaticism and has no place in Science.

    • Martha says “Most radical perspectives take it to mean going to the root of the problem.”

      To an ideologue, problems are ideological problems, and therefore the solutions are ideological solutions. You should recognize yourself in this. Having a B.A. provides vastly different training in thinking than advanced science degrees. While defining problems as the difference between the way you perceive the current state of things and the way you would like them to be is valid on a personal level, it’s laughable to believe that who you think Dr Curry should be vs who you perceive her to be is any kind of reflection on her, but it defines with certainty who you are.

      Thanks for taking the time out from working on press releases to post here; it helps remind me why I didn’t pursue a BA.

    • “But climate change and gender – especially the disproportionately severe impacts for women and children (especially the poorest women and children) – is not even on your radar screen.”

      Fodder for a future New York Times headline: “Climate Heats to Boiling Point Destroying All Life – Women and Minorities Hardest Hit”

      It would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous. Protecting women and the poor by killing the energy economy…I wonder who would be hardest hit if we actually allowed that to happen. You get one guess. And here’s a clue…it wouldn’t be white upper middle class progressive government funded scientists and academics (you know, the CAGW vanguard).

    • steven mosher

      “Most radical perspectives take it to mean going to the root of the problem.”

      I won’t abuse you for engaging in the etymological fallacy, rather lets accept your definition.

      What is the problem? Do you know the challenges that peter and Judith face and their unique way of addressing the problem?

      thought not.

      Go ask Joshua what he requires of his students. he requires them to be able to present their opponents arguments fairly. Since, he is not here to ask you to do this, I will.

      What do think Judith believes the problem is? and then Peter what about him.

    • steven mosher

      Marty,

      Judith is simply laying claim to the description laid out by somebody else. It’s pretty simple. They define being radical as two movements. First, is the convinction of ones passion in the face of adversity. Saying no to the power of the institution/tribe that you belong to:
      “we need to make our passions our scholarly interests in the face of some who would invalidate it, we need to perform our confidence in front of people who might undermine us.”

      The second part is moving beyond the institution, particular moving beyond the standard institutional structure of publication.

      basically, the original author argues that to be a “radical” you have to persue your convictions in the face of institutional opposition and you have to rise above that merely negative freedom by accomplishing the mission of the institution ( education for example) using methods and tools not currently endorsed by the institutions ( like blogs)

      pretty standard stuff as far as definition of radicalism or transformative.
      If you dont like this definition go argue with kate clancy

  10. –>”So how does one be a radical when radical scholarship is hard to measure with current tenure criteria?”

    First, successful women with something to say must not be bothered by being stabbed in the back by other women. Talk about powerful: I was watching Fox news after work about a week ago and saw a segment whre Laura Ingraham was filling in for Bill O’Riley and interviewing Ann Coulter. It gave me hope: hope that these Wall Street protester, 10 lbs. of crap in a dime bag Hippy-Crybabbies without a cause or even music (maybe we call them, “sleeze-baggers”?) might be out-manned by just a few gutsy women who are not afraid to speak truth to consensus.

  11. I actually study issues like blogging and interdisciplinary, but not the woman issues, as these are rather different. Blogging is part of a larger issue, that is very popular, namely what is the role of social media in science?

    Regarding blogging specifically, here is the problem. The present system rewards scientists for making discoveries. What is proposed by the radicals is an alternative, wherein scientists are rewarded for being publicly popular or controversial. So far the scientific community has not seen fit to accept this alternative and I doubt it ever will, because doing science is the core mission. There have always been popularizers and policy wonks, but they are not doing science.

    Disclosure: I blog about this sort of thing at http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org, the blog of the Society for Scholarly Publishing. The journal publishers, more than anyone, are concerned about this issue, because this is a multi-billion dollar industry. Many have experimented with blogging.

  12. Dr. Curry,

    You are indeed radical (deep).

    Sorry if this is off topic:

    U-M ecologist: Future forests may soak up more carbon dioxide than previously believed, helping to buffer climate change

    http://ns.umich.edu/htdocs/releases/story.php?id=8614

    News Release : Bacterial Communication Could Affect Earth’s Climate

    http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=7545&tid=282&cid=117830&ct=162

  13. Regarding interdisciplinarity, I think it is a fad, one that comes and goes. There are times when important discoveries emerge at the intersection of two disciplines, but they are rare. In fact they lead to new disciplines. But the idea that work at any arbitrary combination of two disciplines is likely to be important is just wrong. Even worse is the popular extreme of this doctrine, namely the idea that work at such intersections is actually superior to work within an established discipline. This is very wrong.

    The reason for all this is that disciplines are built around specific features of nature (including humans), important features which can be fruitfully studied in isolation. Combinations of such features may well not be important. For example, some people study prices, while others study bird wings, and both are important. But the study of the price of bird wings is not important.

    • David, the issue is the freedom to pursue research outside your discipline and get recognized for it, and to facilitate cross disciplinary collaborations. Further, institutional structures can foster innovative research that is outside of disciplines. At Georgia Tech, I am in the Environmental Science and Technology Building, which includes all of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Environmental Engineering, Ecology and Microbiology, Analytical Chemistry, and Chemical Engineering. This co-location has fostered many unanticipated collaborations: ocean ecologists and microbiologists working with a researcher on ocean eddies and turbulence (of particular relevance to the Gulf oil spill); scientists working on the aerosol indirect effect getting an infusion of technology from chemical engineering; chemical engineers working on CO2 separation and sequestration working with geologists and oceanographers on the sequestration problem; etc., these are just a few examples going on in my building.

      • A lot of what you are describing sounds like applied research. This does not get recognized by the basic research community, and should not be. These may be fine technical studies but they are not basic science, so the scientists working on them have left their fields to do applied work. But then a lot of people say this about environmental science generally, that it is not basic science. So you need to seek recognition from the applied science community, not the basic research community. Of course this makes a lot of sense for a school like Georgia Tech. That is what tech means.

      • By the way, I too made this transition. What I do is basically applied analytical philosophy. I was trained to spot conceptual confusion in philosophical issues, but I do it in policy issues, where there is a great abundance. I cannot publish this stuff in philosophical journals, only policy journals.

      • It’s important to distinguish between hybrid research & hybrid researchers. Given today’s predominant institutional structures, it’s feasible to come up unidisciplinarily and then engage in hybrid research; however, hybrids can’t come up *efficiently* as hybrids since each of the schools demands deep, narrow comps and insists that “no one is qualified to supervise” (which is an uncompromising obstacle to admission). The perception of which hybrids are most valuable shifts in time & space. While it is neither practical nor sensible for society to train and hold in reserve of an army of multifactorially multifaceted hybrids for every possible future scenario, it might be feasible for central controllers to engineer more streamlined pathways for them through mainstream structures, if for no other reason than to SAVE TIME & MONEY.

        Regards.

      • Paul, to my knowledge science does not have central controllers. It is a highly distributed social activity. In fact most scientists are small businesses. Unless perhaps you are referring to the federal funding of basic research. But even here science is spread across a great many different Congressional committees and Executive agencies, almost all of which have a mission other than science. So there are no central controllers.

      • Clarification:
        Central university controllers, as contrasted with distributed departments, which I know from firsthand experience are not equipped to streamline hybrids (not to be confused with hybrid research). Quite understandably & sensibly, departments have their tribes to look out for. *Efficient* hybrid traffic control through the resulting structural maze can ONLY be coordinated centrally.

        For the event that requested university streamlining remains predominantly unavailable to hybrids, viable workarounds exist and are operational for those opting to accept sacrifice.

        To reiterate a cautionary note:
        Hybrid people should not be confused with hybrid research, which may be a collaboration of pure specialists from different fields, something present university structures can efficiently support. Let’s be careful not to accidentally conflate and thus miscommunicate. It’s the hybrid people that universities can’t presently handle *efficiently*.

        Best Regards.

    • David, these are interesting observations.

      You know, there was a time when cultural theory seemed to imply, at least for awhile, the collapse of disciplines for epistemological (as opposed to practical) reasons — and more radically the idea that formal disciplines don’t really exist. Remember?

      But with the increasingly specialized and complex nature of areas of knowledge, I am finding that a lot of cross -disciplinary scholars just don’t have the breadth or depth for it. Sometimes I see better inter-disciplinarywork from individuals who are exceptionally critically reflective thinkers within their own main field. You have a background in philosophy so have seen how philosophy has in the past provided alot of the theoretical and critical frameworks for other disciplines: however, increasingly, this theory work is coming from really strong students and theorists from within disciplines post-cultural theory. On the other hand, some scholars who attempt cross-disciplinary or inter-disciplinary work are often struggling with their competence in other areas of knowledge. :-(

      It makes sense that collaboration is becoming a new paradigm despite its callenges and problems related to e.g. power, interests, and individual skills and maturity to engage in creative-collaborative problem-solving.

      But ongoing reflection on where and when cross-disciplinary learning works best and where it doesn’t (and why) seems needed, along with the benefits of strong inter-disciplinary knowledge for all.

      I don’t see that inter-disciplinary knowledge is something requiring special recognition, as Curry suggests: instead it is increasingly what complex, modern society requires highly educated people to offer, these days.

      cheers

      • Latimer Alder

        You mean being more than a one-trick pony is a good idea? Just took an awful lot of long words to say so?

        Perhaps you really are an academic, not just a comic stereotype of one.

        (I particulary like ‘post-cultural’ – only an academic could write it with a straight face)

      • Actually, I was referring to the period following the stream of thought known as cultural theory — so, post (after) ‘cultural theory’, not ‘post-cultural’ theory. David studies thought. The comment was for him.

        Yes, I am capable of using words to describe theoretical concepts in social thought and I use these words accurately. I can also fix a motorcycle and bake a pie. Your point? Are you even remotely interested in the actual content of posts or comments? Clearly not, so let’s end the interaction here.

      • Latimer Alder

        If they are writtten in clear and accessible language, have a structure and a point, I’m interested. But sentences like this teeter into self-parody:

        ‘It makes sense that collaboration is becoming a new paradigm despite its callenges and problems related to e.g. power, interests, and individual skills and maturity to engage in creative-collaborative problem-solving’.

        Or maybe you just talk like that all the time in academe? Lengthy verbiage to hide a paucity of real meaning? No wonder most acdemic papers are near unreadable.

      • steven mosher

        Martha
        ‘I don’t see that inter-disciplinary knowledge is something requiring special recognition, as Curry suggests: instead it is increasingly what complex, modern society requires highly educated people to offer, these days.”

        go argue with kate clancy. Get this, she wrote an article and Judith gets to respond. You got a problem with the claims made in the original article, go to kates blog and call her readers fascists. i’m sure they’ll enjoy your opinions

        “More institutions are recognizing that interdisciplinary scholarship is a good thing, and some are even able to hire people with joint hires among the social sciences and ethnic studies, or biology and engineering. Yet these institutions that know they want their faculty to be twenty first century scholars use the same metrics to evaluate interdisciplinary scholars as they use to evaluate traditional ones. From conversations I had at the conference, they don’t know how to retain these scholars, or support them, and so many feel adrift, or don’t make it to tenure. And these faculty are very often from underrepresented groups – every one I met at the conference, in fact, was a woman of color.”

      • Martha, I haven’t done academic work per se since the ’60s, although I have collaborated with academics on policy-related research. In economics, I often found that both academics and policy people were limited by having too narrow a perspective. Conversely, one of my strengths was that I had broad interests and knowledge and could synthesize material from different fields, e.g. for innovation policy. So I agree, while specialization is often necessary, even essential, it can be limiting. I was fortunate in that my teachers at LSE almost all acted as advisers to government and/or business, so that I saw economics as a tool for changing the world rather than as an abstract academic exercise. As such, you couldn’t be too narrow. I quoted myself here recently re an holistic approach to policy, I think this at times is also useful in academic work:

        “The success of growth-oriented [economic] policies in one area, such as competition policy, is often dependent on complementary and supporting policies in other areas, such as light-handed regulation of labour markets. A persistent failing in Queensland policy development is that policies in different areas tend to be developed in isolation from, and ignorance of, related or opposed policies in other areas. There is no unifying principle, no comprehensive strategic oversight of how policies interact. This has been referred to as the “silo” mentality.

        “For example, there is evidence of a relationship between education levels and productivity and economic growth. But this is not a simplistic relationship. … The driving force here is the opportunities for profitable investment and business growth, and extra schooling for students at the lower end of the spectrum will not significantly change this.”

    • Regarding interdisciplinary, I think it is a fad, Rubbish. Like with test pilots, most good research is done at “the edge of the envelope”. Often and increasingly, that edge intersects with the edge and even the interior of another discipline. Fields of study aren’t bubbles; more like Mandelbrot domains with complex! edges.

      When did climate and geology intersect? More than a century ago when geologists were documenting ice ages in the geologic column. How about Charles Darwin – interdisciplinary enough for you? Or Richard Feynman? Even Steve Jobs: the Macintosh computer had beautiful fonts because Jobs sat in on a Calligraphy class in school.

      Frankly, if you are not doing interdisciplinary research, how can you be on the cutting edge-of-the-envelope of any science? Getting appropriate credit for it from your enlarged set of peers might be another matter. But the fault lies with the introspective gate-keepers of the journals and the tenure committees.

      • Stephen Rasey | October 14, 2011 at 3:03 pm | wrote:
        “Fields of study aren’t bubbles; more like [...] domains with complex! edges.”

        Agree.

        Stephen Rasey | October 14, 2011 at 3:03 pm | wrote:
        “But the fault lies with the introspective gate-keepers of the journals and the tenure committees.”

        No, the fault lies with capable people who don’t find viable workarounds to such routine societal failures. We can take individual responsibility rather than beating the tired old drum of unconditional entitlement. In this case, taking personal responsibility most assuredly demands serious sacrifice.

        Regards.

      • Sorry, Paul, but I don’t see these societal failures. Science seems to be doing pretty well. But then, since I study science, I assume that science is what science does. If you can point these failures out I will be glad to look at them. Climate change is an exception of course, but the capture of scientific communities by political movements is rare.

      • David, honest, good people often make innocently naive mistakes. Rather than complain, we can try to help. Best Regards.

      • Stephen, you seem to be confusing interdisciplinarity with the fact that every scientist brings new ideas to the game, many of which come from other communities. Then too, scientists tend to be nomadic, moving from problem to problem, even discipline to discipline. But in this context interdisciplinary means having a team with members from distinctly different disciplines. The fashion is to claim that such research is somehow superior to focused research by one or more experts in the same thing. I think that general claim is mistaken, although there certainly instances where such teams do important work.

        But I do like the Mandelbrot metaphor because I have a fractal model of science. It is called the issue tree and is sketched here: http://www.osti.gov/ostiblog/home/entry/sharing_results_is_the_engine The self-similarity arises because the same sorts of questions are asked over and over, from one level to the next. Thus the logic is self-similar. The subdividing at successive layers also explains why science becomes ever more specialized.

      • I am not assuming that interdisciplinary research is better than specialized, but you seem clearly to believe that it is worse. I am merely open to the possibility that interdisciplinary research, whether by the individual or a team might get a short shrift in the established reward mechanisms.

        Hypothesis: there is a circular reasoning to your pro-specialization argument.

        It is argued in this thread that interdisciplinary work is harder to get recognized for tenure and acknowledged in the peer reviewed literature. It makes sense that papers that feature interdisciplinary work are less likely than specialized work to find a home to be published. There are rejection letters that suggest that “this isn’t the appropriate journal”, and I argue (without data) it is more likely to happen with an interdisciplinary paper, all other things being equal. Even if it gets published, is the best audience reading it? [1] If that tenuous argument holds any water, then interdisciplinary work is under-represented in the literature than in reality. Which can lead one to conclude that most work is specialized when looking at the litereature.

        It is a sampling bias toward specialization that is an artifact of the alleged lack of recognition toward interdisciplinary research.

        It’s a hypothesis without data for other people to consider in their personal experience.

        [1] A favorite example: Chaos Theory born in a weather journal.
        Lorenz 1963, “Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow Journal of Atmospheric Sciences.

      • Clarification. I did say that interdisciplinary research is more cutting-edge, not “better”. I still stand by that. I feel it is almost a tautology.

  14. As long as “the service work no one wants” isn’t teaching. I think the undergraduate experience of most students, and certainly mine, contains a high degree of experience with professors like one psych professor I had who proclaimed on the first day of class that teaching was not his job, and that there would be no office hours or contact with him outside of class. At the same time, a chemistry teacher (note the distinction) who was wildly popular among students and who actually learned the names of all 440 students in his class so he could call on you by name (I was stunned when he did that two weeks into class with me) was fired because his research wasn’t up to snuff, I guess. Institutions of higher learning are far too often institutions of higher research, in my opinion. This is not true of all, of course. The finest teacher I ever had was my honors calculus teacher. I learned a huge amount from him, and I think I profited greatly by not being taught by a TA.

  15. From James Lovelock:

    http://www-vortex.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/~alvarov/aacte/james_lovelock_1989.html

    “You may well ask, Whatever became of those colorful romantic figures, the mad professors, the Drs. Who? Scientists who seemed to be free to range over all of the disciplines of science without let or hindrance? They still exist, and in some ways I am writing as a member of their rare and endangered species.

    More seriously, I have had to become a radical scientist also because the scientific community is reluctant to accept new theories as fact, and rightly so. It was nearly 150 years before the notion that heat is a measure of the speed of molecules became a fact of science, and 40 years before plate tectonics was accepted by the scientific community.

    Now perhaps you see why I work at home supporting myself and my family by whatever means come to hand. It is no penance, rather a delightful way of life that painters and novelists have always known about. Fellow scientists join me, you have nothing to lose but your grants.”

    • “Fellow scientists join me, you have nothing to lose but your grants.”

      In the current socioeconomic conditions, food & shelter will also be risked without an independent financial backbone. Fortunately, there are funding options that don’t demand teaching & admin, activities which severely interfere with research. For those willing to make serious sacrifices, one option is to run lean – i.e. don’t raise a family, leaving incrementalism & status quo defense to more conventional folks (who are certainly not in short supply).

      Regards.

    • Consider Willis Eschenbach, an occasional visitor here, as in this mold. He puts up most of his work at WattsUpWithThat. I have made a modest effort to interest a few climate scientists in his most recent post (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/11/wrong-again/), and I started a line of analysis as a follow-on to 3 posts of his that began a couple months ago.

      I, alas, am merely unemployed.

  16. One of the reasons I write on this blog is that I have noticed that it is mostly men (or man sounding names anyway). I do my best to read through the long-winded arguments, scroll through the nonsense, and sometimes respond to a writer. But it is impossible to keep up each day.

    Rose
    (part of women scientist pipeline who has leaked away).

    • Better gender balance on this blog would be a welcome development. Thanks for sharing.

    • I haven’t noticed a primarily female climate blog. Certainly not RealClimate. Are there any? Is this one really so different in that regard?

      • I guess the big picture is that both science and popular change movements have tended to be male dominated, and this may appear more the case on the internet for various reasons.

        I suggest we keep in mind that the blogosphere is not equivalent to the internet, and I would challenge any assumption that the blogosphere is a key element in engaging the public. I don’t think it is, and have previously explained why.

        But regarding blogs, women are in fact more active at non-denier blogs and climate science sites. They are using the internet (not necessarily the blogosphere) to offer discussion, leadership and education on climate change.

        And there are many well-respected women scientists who are bloggers and also climate science bloggers, with a female support base.

        I have previously provided links to some blogs and internet sites providing climate change information and climate science leadership, from women.

        Or there’s always Google. :-)

      • “I guess the big picture is that both science and popular change movements have tended to be male dominated.”

        To this I have just two words in response, then I’ll run and hide behind a really big tree: Larry Summers.

        Good thing I’m not president of Harvard (on so many levels).

      • Gary M,
        Some of the many effective women posting on the internet regarding climate are:
        Donna Laframboise http://nofrakkingconsensus.com/
        Jo Nova http://joannenova.com.au/
        Jennifer Marohasy http://jennifermarohasy.com/

        But according to some bizarre self-declared intellectuals, women who do not agree with the progressive dialectic are not really women…..
        Of course for most, it is the intellect and not the gender of the person that ocunts the most. But Martha would disagree, so I should stop before she is compelled to post some lengthy rant.

      • Latimer Alder

        Perhaps a good opportunity to draw attention to Donna’s latest book..a devastating critique of the IPCC!

        http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2011/10/14/speaking-of-books.html

        Poor Martha

        Gives us a lecture on feminism in climate science and ends up promoting a demolition of the IPCC. That’s show biz I guess.

      • Thanks for the link to the book.

      • Latimer,
        I think it would be very intersting for Dr. Curry to see if Donna Laframboise would consider a guest post to discuss her work on the IPCC. It seems that her work and Dr. Curry’s experience regarding the IPCC are quite complementary.

      • steven mosher

        opps I forgot about jenniffer and dont forget about Lucia

      • Yes, I was aware of those sites, I look at Lucia’s in particular with some regularity. My question was directed more to the comment I was responding to with respect to whether the number of female commenters here is a draw for other women to comment. I just wondered if there is a significant difference. I don’t doubt it, I just hadn’t noticed before. But then, being a guy, I wouldn’t, would I? :-)

      • steven mosher

        a few. Lucia, JoNova, Donna

        http://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2011/10/13/a-book-is-born/

        For the most part male readership outnumbers female readership 2:1 roughly speaking.

    • In light of the earlier topic on Myers-Brigg types — I wonder how many women are INTJ, the type du jour of CE.

  17. At my institution, they got a big grant to fund ‘interdisciplinary’ graduate students. That is, they wrote a grant that sold in interdisciplinary idea, and then used it to finance students doing what they would have been doing in any case. The faculty were entirely dismissive of the effort – it was just a hoop they had to jump through to get the money.

    And then there were the tenured women who didn’t want to hear the whining from younger faculty. They succeeded – why shouldn’t you?

    And by the way – I’d be very concerned if someone was getting professional credit for Oscar’s comments. A blog is a two-edged sword. I’m a huge fan of Climate Etc., but blog popularity can be much like talk radio popularity – he/she who rants best wins.

    • MarkB | October 14, 2011 at 12:22 pm | wrote:
      “At my institution, they got a big grant to fund ‘interdisciplinary’ graduate students. That is, they wrote a grant that sold in interdisciplinary idea, and then used it to finance students doing what they would have been doing in any case. The faculty were entirely dismissive of the effort – it was just a hoop they had to jump through to get the money. “

      Exactly.

      Tribes look out for their own. TRUE hybrids are ADRIFT between tribes, particularly any who are UNIQUELY multifaceted. During “times of plenty”, enriching hybrids are welcomed in for temporary stays. The option of becoming a tribe member is offered, but TRUE hybrids NECESSARILY refuse.

      Best Regards.

    • I am familiar with the disciplinary structures and some of the practical disciplinary and inter-disciplinary issues that you, and also Paul, describe.

      Re. funding issues, the increasingly common formation of interdisciplinary partnerships, networks, departments, and institutions (as opposed to just programs) may be partly addressing this.

      Also, I am interested in more about what you are saying was the response of tenured women vs. younger faculty. Thanks.

  18. “More institutions are recognizing that interdisciplinary scholarship is a good thing, and some are even able to hire people with joint hires [...]“

    Recognition isn’t enough. It’s only SYMBOLIC. The PRACTICAL issue: Which department(s) should fork out the money to support the hybrids? There’s no escaping the STRUCTURE of a given institution. The politics gets “weird & complicated”. At most institutions, joints will be the first set adrift during belt-tightening rounds. They have no core allies if they are uniquely-multifaceted hybrids. In contrast, a math department, for example, is SURE to be an ENDURING structure.

  19. – Crackpot Index
    vs
    – Citizen Scientist

    Try treading that fine line. Make it into a hobby, do your best at trying to communicate. The internet will make a paper trail for you. In the grand tradition of science, it’s a classical experiment to see if anything comes out of it.

  20. Much of waht is being called “radical” here does not seem very radical at all. it jsut seem slike a description of good scholarship.
    Perhaps, upon reflection of the implications of the essay this thread is based on, another way to think about this would be to consider the term “Effective Scholar”.
    An “effectvie scholar” is one who is not going to be constrained by either a consensus or a dialectic. An effective scholar would be one who is willing to ask questions even in the face of strong opposition. An effective scholar is one who is dedicated to transparency of method and data and interests.
    An effective scholar would be one that avoids imposing arguments by authority and can engage with critics without relying on claims of conspiratorial resistance.

  21. “At an R1 institution like mine, the criteria for tenure are to publish ten papers (thereabouts depending on the discipline, a book and some papers if you’re in the humanities), have teaching that doesn’t suck, and more or less pull your weight in terms of service. ”

    “…have teaching that doesn’t suck…”

    I’ll leave the disastrous syntax alone for now. But does it take a nonacademic to notice that this comment sadly describes a major factor in why college students are graduating with tens of thousands of dollars and degrees that aren’t worth half that in the real economy?

    I”m sorry if some “professors” are upset with the amount of attention they get for following their interests down less traditional research paths. But how about raising that “teaching that doesn’t suck” bar a little higher on your own? How about more teaching period from the professional researchers who masquerade as professors?

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/want-to-know-why-professors-dont-teach/article1293548/

  22. 10/14/11, On being a radical scholar

    Strictly with regard to science, academics produce by far the greater number of publications when compared with their industrial counterparts. But scoring in economic terms of money, ratio of scientists employed, and innovation, the results are quite the reverse: it’s industrial science by a landslide. The dominating incentive for an academic scientists is to build the CV by publishing in conforming, peer-review journals. This is an objective quite alien to industrial science, where secrecy leading to working models, all for competitive advantage, is the rule.

    Since the dawn of the scientific method in the 17th Century (Bacon (1605), (1620); Descartes (1622)), the objective of the method, and hence of science, has been seen to be to postulate and demonstrate Cause and Effect. That continues inviolate today in industry. Incentives to industrial scientists go to knowledge gained about the real world, whether manmade or natural, which means classical model building. Models must predict, and those predictions must be validated. This is what Karl Popper called the theory of pragmatic utility, or pragmatism. Of this, he opined,

    Although I am an opponent of pragmatism as a philosophy of science, I gladly admit that pragmatism has emphasised something very important: the question whether a theory has some application, whether it has, for example, predictive power. Praxis, as I have put it somewhere, is invaluable for the theoretician as a spur and at the same time as a bridle: it is a spur because it suggests new problems to us, and it is a bridle because it may bring us down to earth and to reality if we get lost in over-abstract theoretical flights of our imagination. All this is to be admitted. And yet, it is clear that the pragmatist position will be superseded by a realist position if we can meaningfully say that a statement, or a theory, may or may not correspond to the facts. Bold added, Popper, K., “Objective Knowledge: A Realist View of Logic, Physics, and History”, [reported in "Objective Knowledge (1972), Clarendon Press] 1966, Section 4: Realism in Logic, p. 25 of 31.

    Popper explained,

    Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or to refute it. Testability is falsifiability; but there are degrees of testability; some theories are more testable, more exposed to refutation, than others; they take, as it were, greater risks. Bold added, Popper, Science: Conjectures & Refutations, 1963, p. 5.

    Falsifiability is essential to universally quantified statements, popularized by the example, All crows are black. Because this is induction, it requires an infinity of samples. Popper erroneously thought that science made such claims, a symptom of his bizarre opinion that definitions do not matter in science. Popper, 1966, p. 24 of 31. So where crows are defined as a certain bird that is always black, for Popper, a scientific model was needed to replace the definition. To test a universally quantified claim, a method was needed by which counterexamples could be shown not to exist. This is all philosophically rational, but scientifically silly, of course, because (a) definitions do matter, and (b) science is about Cause → Effect, a logic statement called modus ponens, Hypothesis &rarr: Conclusion. It is not about universal quantification or either logical or mathematical induction, it is not about ∀x, F(x).

    Regardless of these fine points about Popper’s prattling, academic science adopted it as a criterion for the academic version of the scientific method. This was not a case of pragmatism, for the first scientific model hypothesized by induction and with a falsifiability clause has yet to be discovered. Instead, adopting Popper’s philosophy was a way to reject pragmatic science in which Cause and Effect, that is, predictive power, was the ultimate criterion. After all, if a model proves so practical, does that not trump any considerations of peer- review and publication?

    So in academia, where the rule is Publish or Perish, the dominant tenets of the academic scientific method became the three Ps: peer-review, publication, and Popper.

    For example, when in 1993 the US Supreme Court reviewed federal standards for scientific evidence in Daubert v. Merrell Dow (509 US 579), it adopted the academic scientific method into law. The Court said,

    Ordinarily, a key question to be answered in determining whether a theory or technique is scientific knowledge that will assist the trier of fact will be whether it can be (and has been) tested. “Scientific methodology today is based on generating hypotheses and testing them to see if they can be falsified; indeed, this methodology is what distinguishes science from other fields of human inquiry.” Green 645. See also C. Hempel, Philosophy of Natural Science 49 (1966) (“The statements constituting a scientific explanation must be capable of empirical test”); K. Popper, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge 37 (5th ed. 1989) (“The criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability”) (emphasis deleted). 509 US 579, 593.

    The headnotes to the case summarize the full complement of standards set by the court:

    In determining whether a theory or technique is scientific knowledge that will assist the trier of fact, so as to be the basis of admissible evidence under Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence,

    (1) a key question to be answered is, ordinarily, whether the theory or technique can be and has been tested [Popper];

    (2) a pertinent consideration is whether the theory or technique has been subjected to peer review and publication , although the fact of publication, or lack thereof, in a peer-reviewed journal is not a dispositive consideration;

    (3) the court should ordinarily consider the known or potential rate of error of a particular scientific technique; [Popper, which relies on error; pragmatism relies on the demonstration or probability of success]

    (4) the assessment of reliability permits, but does not require, explicit identification of a relevant scientific community and an express determination of a particular degree of acceptance of the theory or technique within that community, as (a) widespread acceptance can be an important factor in ruling particular evidence admissible, and (b) a known technique that has been able to attract only minimal support within the scientific community may properly be viewed with skepticism; [Consensus] and

    (5) the inquiry is a flexible one, and the focus must be solely on principles and methodology, not on the conclusions that such principles and methodology generate. [Anti-pragmatism]

    Academic science, with consensus thrown in for good measure, has become the new guideline (ordinarily, consideration, permits but does not require, focus), and surely what will prove to be for most federal judges, the law. Gone from these guidelines, vanished without even honorable mention, is the centuries-old reliance on Cause & Effect (causality), on predictions, and on validation, the practical science of industry and innovation, and, one hopes, a few isolated scholarly departments around the free world.

    The writings of the IPCC (in many ways), its heavy reliance on peer-review from conforming journals, and the AGW model itself are evidence of the application and failure of the academic model of science and the scientific method. These authors and climatologists win my prize for the radical scholars of the First Decade of the 21st Century.

    • Sorry, but that is just too long an essay for a blog. Can you summarize it a bit?

      • rmdobservations 10/14/11, 4:45 pm radical scholar

        rmdo: Sorry, but that is just too long an essay for a blog. Can you summarize it a bit?

        Hmm. Compare your post above with the sum of your contribution to the IPCC discussion thread:

        rmdo: In my opinion, the IPCC has become too big. The reports are too long (the 1990 was 2 cm thick). rmdobservations, 10/7/11, 7:09 am.

        I’m sorry, too, but Dr. Curry doesn’t limit her blog to 140 characters or less, a Twitter for scientist wannabes and techies with stunted attention spans. I’m sorry; she’s clearly looking for substance.

      • I isagree, such contributions are one of the things which attract me to CE, they have a broadening effect (and we’re talking inter-disciplinary here) and have prompted be to broaden my library, e.g. with “The Black Swan” and “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.”

    • Thank you for thinking about science and leading us to an appreciation of our present state.

  23. Science comes after gender according to the Big Climax cosmological model of the universe. First these two celestial bodies are drawn together, giving rise to the concept of gravity. After coming together there is this rapidly expanding hot and sticky theory of creation which has been very well modeled many billions of times since the origin of the first Big Bang.

  24. Now consider the stats for Climate Etc: nearly 3 million hits, and well over 100,000 comments over the course of one year. I suspect that my personal impact on the field of climate science has been greater over the past year than the preceding 30 years (although my impact during the past year would be diminished without the previous 30 years).

    Two comments: 1, I am glad that you remembered to add the parenthetical comment.

    2. I doubt that your blogging has had any impact on climate science. And you run a superior blog, with a new and interesting paper, report or other presentation every day. There are scientists at a nearby university who serve as city council members, boards of directors of community organizations, church elders, provide help with the science fairs, and so forth. This blogging could be considered like some of that community service. But surely it can’t count very much toward tenure. Tenure is a great privilege: some of us have worked “at will”, having signed an agreement that our company, or boss, anybody above our boss, could fire us any time for any or no reason. And some of us have worked in companies where entire divisions were eliminated. Requirements for tenure must be demanding: demonstrably good teaching and research.

    You raised the thorny issue of grant funding. That relates to pay, as well as to the quality of the faculty. At a local university, you can have tenure without a salary; when I interviewed (for a non-tenure track position) one of my future collaborators said “Tenure isn’t what it used to be”, and that was more than a decade ago. Not just pay, but office space, lab space, and equipment depend on grant funding.

    Law Professor Glenn Reynolds of the University of Tennessee has sometimes addressed the contribution of blogging toward tenure, and pay, at his blog called “Instapundit”.

    • Latimer Alder

      Once upon a time there was such a thing as a ‘job for life’. It almost unheard of nowadays outside of academe.

      Is such a thing (tenure) desirable either for the subject, the institution or the individual? Apart from the obvious pay and rations aspect?
      Do you become a better researcher becasue you have tenure? Does the institution benefit or not frpom knowing that you are goig to be around for 25-30 years and can’t be sacked?

      It is not at all obvious to me that tenure is in fact a Good Thing apart for the tenured individual.

      Views?

      • There’s a relates issue that, among other’s Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit has been blogging about for years: the education bubble. According to Reynolds, And I think he’s right, all of academia is on the cusp of major and wrenching reorganization due to a number of factors, primarily economic and technological. In sure, if college students can no longer afford the tuition, they’ll stop buying the product. I’m not going to go into the whole thing here, which also related to changes in education that the internet will enable, but the current model for higher education is unsustainable, and must collapse within the next decade.

        Tenure will almost certainly be a casualty of this. If I had to bet, I’d bet that with a handful of exception, there will be no new tenure track positions created by 2020. The whole industry will have reorganized, and moved on to another model. The housing bubble taught us that if something can’t keep expanding, it won’t.

        And whether they realize it or not, these OWS protesters are a symptom of the academic bubble.

      • Add to that, for decades there have been “gypsy” teachers, especially in liberal arts, who go from one tenure-track position to another without ever earning tenure.

        Add to that, Harvard Medical School does not grant tenure to anyone. Or so I have heard, maybe it’s just to hardly anyone.

        One thing about tenure is that it separates the merely competent and hard-working from the exceptionally dedicated and hard working. The people I know who have gone through the process successfully have been unusually dedicated to their fields, and they continue to work productively after receiving tenure.

      • Latimer Alder

        Would they still have been unusually dedicaed without tenure?

        If so, why bother with granting it?

      • That’s got to be a record for [sic]. Behold what happens when you write a comment before the caffeine sinks in.

  25. “I doubt that your blogging has had any impact on climate science.”

    There’s a lag, due to scientific innertia.

  26. There has never been a battle over the admissibility of statistical evidence that global warming modelers have introduced over the years to make their case. To the contrary–all of it has been admitted with very little concern as to the weight or sufficiency of the statistical evidence.

  27. Judy – Regarding

    “Many of the other academic disciplines are much more flexible in terms of what counts as scholarly output: for example, consulting counts in the College of Management; patents and design and real world solutions are counted in the College of Engineering; starting companies counts in both.”

    In the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University (in the College of Engineering), the traditional approach of peer reviewed papers, reference letters, along with “okay” teaching and service were the criteria. Consulting, and even more so, startup companies and licenses, were very actively discouraged by the Department despite being in an Engineering College.

    I summarized this in the paper

    Pielke Jr., R.A., J. Abraham, E. Abrams, J. Block, R. Carbone, D. Chang, K. Droegemeier, K. Emanuel, E.W. Friday Jr., R. Gall, J. Gaynor, R. Getz, T. Glickman, B. Hoggatt, W.H. Hooke, E.R. Johnson, E. Kalnay, J. Kimpel, P. Kocin, B. Marler, R. Morss, R. Nathan, S. Nelson, R.A. Pielke Sr., M. Pirone, E. Prater, W. Qualley, K. Simmons, M. Smith, J. Thomson, and G. Wilson, 2003: The USWRP Workshop on the weather research needs of the private sector. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 84, ES53-ES67.http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/r-264.pdf

    “At Colorado State University, the “University encourages engagement in professional activities such as . . . appropriate consulting activities.” Consulting is “one means to facilitate the flow of information and development of technologies.” Each university requires disclosure of these outside activities, although the amount of financial remuneration is not required to be reported. Patents and the licensing of software and other intellectual property is another avenue for interaction between university faculty and the private sector. Faculty members are required to report commercially valuable products to the university, although this requirement is not generally enforced, although this requirement is not generally enforced. A lack of faculty participation would circumvent the goal of the 1980 Bayh–Dole Act (P.L. 96-517, Patent and Trademark Act Amendments of 1980) in which universities retain ownership to inventions made under federally funded research (see Gao 1998 for discussion). In return, universities are expected to file for patent and license protection and to ensure commercialization. Foundations affiliated with universities have been established to manage the commercialization process and to allocate royalties as specified. Colorado State University, for example, distributes 30%, 15%, and 15% to the inventor(s), tothe college(s)/department(s), and to the vice president for research, respectively, with 40% retained by the Colorado State University Research Foundation to support the technology transfer process and research.

    At the department level, however, there can be discouragements to participating in technology transfer. Faculty in the atmospheric sciences often feel that this activity is not appropriate for them or their colleagues, nor should it be included in their professional evaluations.\

    For example, at the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Colorado State University (CSU), a guideline limits outside consulting to 20 days per year with only rare exceptions, and the faculty “may not serve as named investigators on researchproposals from public or private organizations other than CSU; exceptions to this include serving as a member of a science experiment team or a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) arrangement in which forthcoming contractual or grant relationships with CSU would normally accompany such designation.” Policies that limit faculty interactions with business have the potential to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the Bayh–Dole Act. Finding an appropriate middle ground should be a high priority for academic institutions across the atmospheric sciences.

    At my trip two weeks ago where I lectured at the University of Waterloo in Ontario (the place where the Blackberry was invented and where the developer is funneling large amounts of money for new innovation) I was told that faculty and staff who develop patents and licenses keep 100% of the proceeds. This is an interesting motivational approach, as they then, as with Blackberry, feed funds for development to the University.

    • Hi Roger, what you state about Colorado State University jives with what I understand goes on at most major state research universities. Georgia Tech is different, which is why we continue to stay there. GT provided us with a business manager to help start our little company, including helping us network and exposing us to venture capitalists. Innovation and private sector applications and engagement are a key element of Georgia Tech’s strategic plan, see especially the Economic Development Institute http://www.gatech.edu/economicdevelopment/

      So in addition to giving Georgia Tech 5 stars for interdisciplinarity, i would also give 5 stars for economic development. Re blogging, I probably have the highest traffic blog of any faculty member at Georgia Tech. The administration seems fine with my blogging, but I have yet to try to get some sort of academic “credit” for my blogging.

  28. A young academic can be a radical, a nonconformist, or an inter-disciplinary team player provided that he or she brings home the bacon. Many science departments expect faculty to cover at least half of their salary through research grants, with a typical grant covering no more than one or two months of labor (at least in my discipline). This means that an academic, radical or not, must be a successful and energetic entrepreneur. If the ideas are radical but unfundable, it leaves unanswered the question of how the other half of his or her salary will be covered, and weakens the case for tenure.

  29. “There are three types of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened.” ~Mary Kay Ash

  30. Judith, Some thoughts on what defines a radical and an open invitation to gauge your impact:

    http://www.collide-a-scape.com/2011/10/14/the-radical-climate-scientist/

  31. There goes Keith trying to drum up traffic to his site so he can redirect that traffic to his new paid gig at the Yale Forum on Climate Change.

  32. Judith,
    I guess being labeled a “heretic” and “turning on my colleagues” and taking to the blogosphere qualifies me for the title of “radical scholar.”

    Why? Just because you are female? Regardless, I’d say you’ve guessed wrong there.

    Being radical means going to the root of the problem. On the climate question, your desire to spread doubt and uncertainty would seem to be designed to prevent just that.

    On the question of tenure, and indeed all job classifications, it would help everyone if family commitments were taken into consideration. Naturally female academics will lobby and organise themselves to protect of own interests. However, it should be remembered that universities employ many other female workers who are not members of the academic staff and who also face similar problems of balancing work and family commitments.

    So, it seems clear, by definition, if the actions of female academic staff are to be considered truly radical, to be trying to get to the root of the problem, they do need to relate their particular problem on academic tenure to the wider issues facing women generally in society.

    • And just what is the ‘root’ of the ‘problem’

      1. people asking the wrong questions
      2. shutting down discussions when we need every brain on deck
      3. thinking you can ignore people you disagree with
      4. thinking you know the answer, when you are ignorant

      • Steve, I had the good fortune to glimpse the “root of the problem” when I visited the old USSR in 1980 and then noted a remarkable similarity to the same “problem” in advocates of the AGW story:

        a.) World leaders,
        b.) Al Gore, and
        c.) The UN’s IPCC

        Mortals who want total control – like the historic Gods of volcanos, storms, fire and hurricanes – a flaw reflected in a common dislike of

        a.) Belief in a Higher Power.
        b.) Evidence of a Higher Power.
        c.) George Orwell’s book, 1984:
        __ http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/1984/
        d.) Citizen control of government.

        Selfishness, self-centeredness is the root of the problem. Unfortunately, the problem cannot be solved by anyone else.

      • See right wing type approving refer to George Orwell , usually in connection to one his his two novels Animal Farm and 1984, usually gets me started on my hobby horse!

        Whether George Orwell ( aka Eric Blair) was actually a Trotskyite is a debatable point. However, he certainly fought in the Spanish Civil War with the Trotskyite P.O.U.M , The Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification (Spanish: Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista).

        Read one of his other novels: “Homage to Catalonia” and decide for yourself.

      • tt,
        Cherry picking Orwell’s life and ignoring why he wrote Animal Farm and 1984 is no less than I would expect of a true beleiver.

      • Latimer Alder

        You might also care to reflec that he publshede

        Homage to Catalonia on 1938, Animal Fram in 1945 and 1984 in 1949. You will not fail, I am sure, to observe the evolution of his thought from wild-eyed enthusiasm to eventual disillusionment and active hostility to the Marxist/Trotskyist agenda during that period.

        People’s view change in the light of experence. You took great glee a while back in finding that Judith had changed her mind about something. Get over it – its part of life.

        And 1984 is a far far better book than HtC IMO.

      • Latimer,

        You don’t understand. Orwell didn’t change his opinion as you suggest.
        Anna Chen asks the question if Orwell was a “Literary Trotskyist” ?

        http://www.k-1.com/Orwell/site/opinion/essays/chen.html

        Animal Farm and 1984 and relate to the Russian revolution of 1917 and 1984 and the direction of World Communism after WW2 . They can be interpreted either as Trotskyite or Democratic Socialist critiques. I’d favour the latter.

      • Latimer Alder

        Well that’ll just have to be one of those points where we agree to differ.

      • That sounds fair enough. I can agree that we’ve differed.

        You were wrong and I was right!

      • tempterrain: I did read Homage to Catalonia (which is a memoir, not a novel), The Road to Wigan Pier, Down and Out in Paris, a fair number of his many, many essays, the Woodcock and Hitchens books on Orwell, as well as 1984 and Animal Farm.

        It’s true that Orwell remained a socialist to the end of his all-too-brief life (unfortunately, while in ill-health, he worked himself to death finishing 1984), but there is also no question he turned against Soviet Communism with a vengeance, even naming names to the British government.

        The Left imagines that Orwell’s 1984 is a suitable rebuke to any right-wing government that they dislike, but the real model for 1984 was Soviet. The Right applauds Orwell’s intellectual honesty and moral vision, as well as his stand against Soviet Communism.

        Neither side can fully claim Orwell, but in my view the Right gets Orwell right, while the Left misses Orwell’s point in many important ways.

      • Huxley,

        Yes you’re right. I did mistakenly refer to Homage to Catalonia as a novel- when it is a memoir , as you say.
        However, it is more important to look at what he said himself about his political affiliation. He always described him as of the left and in 1945 said so in the title of one of his essays. His view was that Soviet Communism wasn’t of the left and the Communists were keener on defeating than Trotskyite and Anarchist factions in Spain than on the Fascists themselves.

      • tempterrain: As I said, “It’s true that Orwell remained a socialist to the end of his all-too-brief life…”

        Your point?

      • Oliver

        When I read about your history it is difficult to respect what you write today.

      • My only quibble is with #4. May I modify? Thinking that there is AN answer. We are all ignorant to one degree or another.

  33. I would say that in general when any problem is to be addressed, when any decisions are to be made, the following would apply.

    1) There is no problem with anyone asking any questions.
    2) At some point it is necessary to make the transition from talking to doing.
    3) There will often be those in disagreement with any chosen course of action.
    4) No-one can get it right all the time. There is no such thing as a sure bet. You need to make the best decision possible and go with it. If faced with a choice look at the consequences of making the wrong choice. If that means total wipe out then you should probably take the other one.

    • steven mosher

      .

      1) There is no problem with anyone asking any questions.

      A. ask Peter Webster if he can get time on a GCM to ask the questions he wants to ask about natural variability?
      B. ask people who want to test the sensitivity of GCMs to different solar
      forcings if they can get time
      C. ask the wrong people for code and data and see what kind of answer you get
      There are any number of questions that cannot be asked primarly
      because the tools required are under the control of a few people.
      This first came to my attention when I was asked by a climate scientist
      ( you’d know his name ) if I could put together a system for him so he
      test his ideas on a state of the art GCM. That made no sense to me
      until he explained that he couldnt get any time to ask his questions.
      That became clearer to me when I talked to Judith and Peter. I became
      convinced when another scientist offered time on his system, but he could only allow one “experiment”. The funding effect. google it

      “2) At some point it is necessary to make the transition from talking to doing.”

      yes. And I thnk the people who should be in charge of the doing have to demonstrate that they at least listened to and answered the valid complaints. You know simple things like addressing breaking the FOIA law.
      People have known about the GHG problem for 2 decades or more. I think the people who fought against nucleat should be the ones to shut up and take direction. I think the people who have failed to bring a treaty home are the ones who should shut up and take direction. Action, yes, but not directed by those who make videos of blowing up their opponents.

      “3) There will often be those in disagreement with any chosen course of action”

      see above. yes, there are people who have stood in the way of adaptation what should we do with them.
      .
      “4) No-one can get it right all the time. There is no such thing as a sure bet. You need to make the best decision possible and go with it. If faced with a choice look at the consequences of making the wrong choice. If that means total wipe out then you should probably take the other one.”

      True nobody can get it right all the time. So you’ve had 20 years of doing it your way getting nowhere. Stop delaying and given the power to other people.

      • “A. ask Peter Webster if he can get time on a GCM to ask the questions he wants to ask about natural variability?
        B. ask people who want to test the sensitivity of GCMs to different solar
        forcings if they can get time”

        ?? GISS ModelE code is available, also models like CAM 3.0. Are you saying that GISS should provide him with computer time? It that a problem for him?

    • Steven Mosher,

      I think this better explains the point I was making previously. #4

      • Latimer Alder

        This the guy who went nuts in a chicken suit at some conference and retired from public life?

  34. Jon P:
    huh? It’s pretty common practice what I did here, announcing a relevant post and link. Judith herself often goes to other climate blogs and does the same. I hardly think she does it draw traffic from other places, since she’s got such a big established audience here.

    Try not to let your personal animosity for me get the better of you.

    • huh?. It is pretty common practice for people to post their opinions on a blog. You yourself have done this on other blogs. I hardly think you do it based upon a personal animosity.

      Try not to let your assumptions for other peoples motives get in the way of rational thought.

    • I think what Jon is trying to say, is that “you sir, have the boorish manners of a Yalie.”
      Look it up.
      And your collide-a-scape commenters are weak. I hope it doesn’t make you feel inadequate. Is it your fault that you can’t attract a higher class of clientele?

    • You can check out the purge at C-a-S: A whole host of participants, to be found at Bishop Hill or WUWT are missing. So is Eli Rabett. These people used to jump in at C-a-s at one time.

      Kloor is on record for censorship of material inimical to his friends at ClimateCentral.

  35. Judith,

    Joe Lalonde said, at the beginning of the comments, that men and women think differently. I agree, and will send you part of an address that touches on this question. The life situations of men and women in academia are different too. These are very important issues in our Western developed societies.

    • Don,

      “men and women think differently”

      This often said and there is even scientific research you could reference to support an argument that male and female brain functions are somewhat different.

      However, I would suggest that this is often a cover argument. It is an attempt to legitimise an underlying assumption that female cognitive abilities are inferior. Science doesn’t support such an argument. Boys fall prey to learning disabilities more frequently than girls. There is a preponderance of boys with dyslexia and ADHD. Boys are considered to have better spatial ability and mathematical skills but girls are considered to have better language abilities.

      Is this an inate difference between the sexes? Or are strong cultural factors involved? Are boys subtly dissuaded from taking an interest in languages and girls in maths and science? And how about those whose gender isn’t well defined according to traditional values?

      It’s difficult to know. And in any case there are so many exceptions to any general pattern. It’s fairer to put aside this “men and women think differently” argument, and treat individuals on their merits.

      • tt

        I generally agree with what you say. Another post coming soon, on this important and complex issue.

        I don’t in any way think that female cognitive abilities are inferior, just somewhat different, and the differences make women especially valuabe in organisational life.

        Don

      • Don,

        Your right. Males and female are cognitively equal. It is just how both think in terms of what is of importance and differ greatly in imaginative abilities. Females are more visual and have more difficulty in imaginative concepts which then they rely more on trust that an outcome of what they want will be achieved only in certain areas. Other areas they are highly imaginative and most males will wonder where that came from when other areas are difficult.
        I think it is what is of importance to the individual.

  36. Radical “scholar,” noun:

    • Latimer Alder

      Thanks

      Reconfirmed all my reasons to wonder why these guys don’t go out and do something useful instead.

  37. In an article I wrote for a ‘radical’ comic during the campaign in the ’80s by the Labour party in the UK to rid itself of the Militant Tendency cancer I commented that

    “the process (sieve) which candidates for political office have to endure ensures that anyone with drive, ambition, competence or skill will do absolutely anything else, leaving us with the dregs”

    Perhaps Martha missed her vocation!

    Encouraging/rewarding interdisciplinary interest has such obvious benefit that the institutionalised objector reminds me of the meteorological forecaster who refuses to look out of the window!

    • However Gras, the reality is that it takes consummate drive, ambition, competence and skill to rise to the top of the political system as with any of the major human systems. People who despise politicians despise democracy. Nor does this have anything to do with the issue of the value of interdisciplinary team science.

  38. Over at Collide-a-Scape, Nullius in Verba posted a comment that I like:

    http://www.collide-a-scape.com/2011/10/14/the-radical-climate-scientist/#comment-81294

    Nullius in Verba Says:
    October 15th, 2011 at 5:16 am
    I think what both Kate and Judith are talking about is not so much being “radical” as being a non-conformist, true to one’s own beliefs and aspirations. It’s arguably “radical” in the original sense, of going back to the roots of what an academic or scientist is supposed to be about. It’s a complaint about how the academic career structure forces people into doing things they don’t want to do, in ways they don’t want to do them. You have to publish papers in peer reviewed journals, you have to get them cited, you have to apply for and win grants, and along with that you have to fit in, not rock the boat, be conventional, enhance the institution’s reputation as a sound and serious scholar, make friends and influence people.

    Kate’s complaint, I think, is that the effort to be conventional in order to get tenure, especially for women competing in a male-oriented job, stifles the unconventional innovation that really ought to be your fastest route to tenure. Nobody does their best work when they’re unhappy. She’s saying do it anyway, concentrate on doing a good job the way you think it should be done and don’t worry about tenure, and you never know it might come anyway.

    Judith’s radicalism is the same sort of thing – doing things the way she thinks they ought to be done, not the way the Scientific Establishment expects and requires them to be done. She’s agreeing that she probably wouldn’t have dared do what she’s done if she hadn’t already got tenure, a reputation, and been financially independent. It’s still radical, even without the risk.

    Take blogging, for example. RealClimate do it the Establishment way: all comments are peer reviewed, and only those the editor approves are published. You have to agree with the right people and disagree with the right people to get on. You have to present your business as serious and professional, take the high ground. You don’t air your dirty laundry in public. You don’t break another man’s rice bowl, or let others break yours, and you circle the wagons against criticism of the profession/institution, by whatever means are necessary. And only those people and those words that pass peer-review are worth listening to; all others are by definition excluded from the debate.

    Judith has taken to heart the principles that science should be open – open to everyone to participate in, open to alternative views and new ideas, open to scrutiny, open to criticism when it goes wrong. These are the roots of science. She’ll let anyone comment with any view and let the reader decide whether the argument has any merit (which many of course don’t), rather than censoring/suppressing views she doesn’t agree with or think are worthwhile. She’s not defensive about the profession, although she clearly cares passionately for it. And she’s happy to try out speculative and half-formed ideas and have people argue with them, rather than trying to nail down every detail and paper over the weaknesses before letting anyone see.
    She’s trying to practice science the way she thinks it should be practiced. Climate sceptics might not agree with her on the science, but they do often agree with her on the philosophy.

    As for whether she’s a “bozo” and making unsubstantiated statements – so does everyone in this game. To err is human. The argument is not to say that Judith doesn’t make mistakes, the argument is with the claim that the paragons of the RealClimate in-group don’t. They also have made unsupported (and unsupportable) statements; published and given a pass to bad science and other nonsense. That’s OK; mistakes are a part of how science works. But people’s careers in the Scientific Establishment (and more recently their influence over national and international policy) have come to rely on giving the impression that they don’t – that they’re always professional and competent and rarely make unjustified mistakes. That’s where things have gone wrong.

    • This all sounds very good, but once again, the present system is designed to identify and reward those who do the most important research. If people want the scientific community to reward something else, they need to make their case to the community. Or if they think there is a better way to identify the most important research, they need to describe such a system. Rhetoric does not do it.

      • Well “reward” is the whole point. We don’t always know what is important at the time. And if the people who are judging what is important are white male academics that are 60+ years old that have been steeped in disciplinary research, then we come up with a different answer as to what is important than if “important” is judged by a broader group that is looking forward rather than looking backwards in the context of old traditions. The issue of importance in the context of academic reward systems should be defined in the context of impact, and there are multiple ways to have impact (beyond publications in journals that few people read).

      • This is not about old white guys. Getting funded, then published are just the first steps of recognition, and many reviewers are not old white guys. But the primary measure of importance is citations, which are a rough measure of how many other people are building on your ideas. This impact is a very democratic measure, as citations by young investigators count equally.

        Once again, you folks are arguing for valuing impacts other than contributions to the science per se, such as contributions to society. Such calls are not new, despite your “looking forward” rhetoric. I think science is wise to decline to make this change. What counts is advancing the science.

      • David, my point is that the the number of citations is only one measure of importance. To give an example that you might be able to relate to, there are many members of the National Academy of Engineering that have few publications and few citations. Their impact may have been in developing an important technology/patent, leadership in a technology industry, etc. In the climate field, how to do you count the impact of Steve McIntyre? If you count his publications and citations, you miss out on his impact. Etc.

        The whole issue of getting funded is fodder for a draft post, I might have time next week to finish that one.

      • Take blogging, for example. RealClimate do it the Establishment way: all comments are peer reviewed, and only those the editor approves are published.

        Blogging is not “Establishment” in any way.
        The question of any kind of participation has to be addressed in terms of Dunbar’s number. There has never been a satisfactory solution to finding a sweet spot of useful participation, other that it breaks down above about 150 people.
        David, you probably are well acquainted with this idea considering your own research specialty.

      • The first sentence addresses tenure. Patents and sales are the important criteria in industry. Big Pharma statisticians write many reports that justify FDA approval, leading to potential sales. Should patents, sales and reports for FDA count toward tenure? I would say “yes” to patents relevant to the field in which the instructor teaches. For a sociology teacher who invents a better bridle while on vacation? I’d probably say yes to all patents in all disciplines. How about for sales of the product derived form the patent?

      • “the present system is designed to identify and reward those who do the most important research”

        I note a similar system in use by brick layers – the one who lays the most important brick gets the accolades. Bonus points if they are building a wall around themselves, demerits if it’s a cathedral.

  39. Who is “Nullius in Verba” ?

    • Latimer Alder

      The other side of ‘tempterrain’. He’s probably an agranam of something undecipherable in Croatian or Swahili.

      • Jeremy Harvey

        I quite liked your comment on the same thread, also, Latimer. What is striking about that thread is that sharper00, Arthur Smith, thingsbreak, but also Keith Kloor, in the way he frames the question, seem deeply uncomfortable with the idea of a many many dialogue, which I think is really one of the virtues of Climate Etc. and the way Judith chooses to run it. They seem to approach Climate Etc. from the viewpoint of legitimacy – has someone approved of the blog?. Did its posts and comments get the imprimatur? It comes across as very condescending.

        To be frank, I often feel I don’t have time even to skim the comments here – but I find many of the posts very interesting, and many of the comments that I do look at seem to be thought-provoking. How anyone can doubt the usefulness of this blog seems beyond me. Why anyone can feel they have the right to allow or forbid it is even more beyond me. I think Judith is right to make a link between this topic and the role of academia. Expertise and track record are important – as she says, 30 years of research in the field does matter, and in terms of the quality of impact, it may still matter more than the 1 year of Climate Etc. But open debate and discussion matter also.

    • “Nullius in Verba” is the Royal Society’s motto: “Take nobody’s word for it.” NIV is an anonymous commenter on various climate blogs, who is quite an excellent and clear writer. It’s a treat to read him, or possibly her.

  40. Another interesting comment at collide-a-scape

    harrywr2 Says:
    October 15th, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Curry’s place is one of the few places where you can actually witness the full state of the public discourse on Climate change.
    Public polling is all fine and dandy but it doesn’t answer the question as to ‘why’ someone may hold a belief.
    Those who are tasked with ‘shaping public policy’ need to know not only how many people are for or against something, but why they are for or against something. Without the ‘why’ one can not effectively shape public attitudes or policy’s.
    Real Climate and Romm’s place are ‘shaping’ operations. As far as I can see they spend all their time fighting an invisible menace they don’t understand and can not see.
    They both rely on conspiracy theory to explain the enemy.
    It always has been and always will be that the human mind will fill the void of ignorance with a mysterious almost omnipotent force. Some variation of ‘Gods will’ or ‘It’s a conspiracy’. People with Phd’s in physics are just as susceptible as the rest of us.
    Curry’s ‘radicalism is that she has exposed the ‘mysterious omnipotent force’ to be real people with real questions and real concerns.

    • The generally free-for-all atmosphere here is what I love about the place. No real cutting comments of any camp. In many cases, they hoist themselves by their own petards.

    • Well it look’s like the comment quality at C-A-S is improving. I guess the advert here worked, well done Keith and nicely stated harrywr2!

  41. Curryja,

    “…….why they are for or against something. Without the ‘why’ one can not effectively shape public attitudes or policies. Real Climate and Romm’s place are ‘shaping’ operations. As far as I can see they spend all their time fighting an invisible menace they don’t understand and can not see.”

    I agree that Real Climate, particularly, don’t understand what they are up against. It strikes me they are of the opinion that if they just explain climate science well enough they’ll win the argument. Scientists are like that.

    But, that’s pretty unlikely. IMO. For the simple reason that > 99% of those who are opposed to the scientific argument have never understood even the basics of it anyway. They never will understand it. Even if they should have understood something, maybe they have some sort of scientific or engineering background, they’ll have decided first on some sort of political instinct ( see Jim Cripwell’s account in Denizens) and looked into the science for confirmation of their instinct later.

    • Nullius in Verba

      “For the simple reason that > 99% of those who are opposed to the scientific argument have never understood even the basics of it anyway.”

      A similar percentage of those who agree with it don’t understand the basics of it either. They’re told it’s what the experts say, it fits with their prior beliefs (political, ideological, whatever), and it doesn’t occur to them to doubt or examine the issue further.

      Scientists specialising in other fields will do it too, accepting the mainsteam line without examining the issue fully themselves. As one scientist said, when asked to endorse one of these statements: “I fear that some will endorse your letter, in the mistaken belief that you are making a balanced and knowledgeable assessment of the science”. It’s clear from the number of groups who have made supportive statements – either giving no reasons or just citing the consensus – that many have.

      If even scientists can believe without understanding, do you really believe that all those politicians and Hollywood starlets understand the physics? Or the man in the street? And yet, nobody objects to them speaking up in support. The message it sends is that you only need to understand the science if you want to oppose the mainstream; the standards are lower for supporters.

      You should also consider that a lot of people are sceptical not because of a detailed understanding of the physics, which I agree they are often in no position to judge, but because of the behaviour of the scientists and advocates, which in many cases they are. Scientists and engineers in other disciplines are well aware of the standards expected for conducting science, and even the educated layman can see what’s wrong with statements like: “It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically” or “So please don’t pass this along to others without checking w/ me first. This is the sort of “dirty laundry” one doesn’t want to fall into the hands of those who might potentially try to distort things” or “What the hell is supposed to happen here? Oh yeah – there is no ‘supposed’, I can make it up. So I have”. And if they can’t, statements like “In other words, what CRU usually do. It will allow bad databases to pass unnoticed, and good databases to become bad, but I really don’t think people care enough to fix ‘em” make it absolutely explicit.

      Apparently, we are told, these only look bad because they are “quoted out of context”. But we are never told what this context is, just the unsupported statement that all the issues have been examined and nothing wrong was found. Even people with no scientific education at all can draw their own conclusions from that.

      What RealClimate and Romm seem not to realise is that it will take more than repeatedly restating the conclusions of climate science to fix the credibility gap created by such issues. They have to take them seriously and do something about it. Judith has been trying to encourage them to do so, and it really is the best option for saving climate science from the pickle it’s in. But I think if it was going to happen it would have happened months ago.

      If you think AGW is a serious threat, then that should be of great concern to you. It’s going to mean that political support for action will fade away over the next few years, which will result in whatever it is you think is going to happen as a result of global warming. Is that what you want?

      • NIV,

        “A similar percentage of those who agree with it don’t understand the basics of it either.”

        But they don’t have to. They aren’t the ones disagreeing.

        For instance, I don’t have anything more than a hazy idea of how the RNA and DNA molecules work and how they relate to genes, chromosomes etc. But, yes, I do accept genetic science. I’d be a fool to deny it all just because it didn’t fit into some prior religious belief I may have held.

      • But AGW is not all there is to climate science. Climate scientists disagree and this disagreement is reflected at all levels of understanding. Skepticism exists because the science is unsettled. It is very simple.

      • Anyone who says “it is very simple” is either a fool or they are being disingenuous.

        All science is unsettled. We might have thought that Einstein had it all nailed with his claim that nothing can travel faster than light and then something pops up to makes us wonder if that is really true.

        The HIV/AIDs issue is unsettled. There are many scientists working on that. Apologies if you’ve heard it before, but I always say that I’d still advise you against indulging in unsafe casual sex.

      • Nullius in Verba

        All science is unsettled, but some parts are more unsettled than others. In physics, the light-speed limit has a lot of evidence going for it, dark matter is something we’re still suspicious of, string theory is a nice theory, and multiple universes colliding with one another in higher dimensional spaces is strictly speculative. Where on this scale is AGW? I’d suggest that it is a lot closer to the speculative end than people seem to think.

        That’s not a bad thing, and it’s not surprising for such a relatively young science in such a difficult area, but some people seem to be trying to claim it’s more solid than it is in order to get political support for action. That’s wrong.

      • Temp, the issue is the existence of widespread skepticism and it really is very simple. It is not due to esoteric factors like failure of communication, confirmation bias, mass delusion, energy industry campaigns, or hidden dark forces of corruption. The greens pushed a massive policy based on certain scientific claims, so great attention was turned on the science.

        It turned out that the science was not settled to the degree necessary to justify massive public action, which is what unsettled means in this context. The public now understands this simple fact. That is fundamentally all there is to it. (The fact that all science is unsettled in some sense is irrelevant and not what the term means here.)

      • It turned out that the science was not settled to the degree necessary to justify massive public action,

        In your opinion. Maybe. That’s not the general opinion which is that the dangers and risks of allowing CO2 levels to rise out of all control are too high to be acceptable.

        There will be always those like yourself who disagree.

      • Temp, so how else do you explain the existence of widespread skepticism?

      • “how do I explain the existence of widespread skepticsm”?
        In a word – politics. Climate skepticism being to right-wing politics as Evolution skepticism is to fundamentalist religion.

        Its not so much the science itself which cuts across rightish sensibilities, its the implications of an acceptance of AGW, which doesn’t at all fit in with the world view of those who believe in the concepts of minimum government and the paramount importance of the freedom of the individual.

        Therefore it is rejected out of hand.

        I’m sure most scientists never thought they’d ever get tied up in this kind of situation. Initially, they are ‘babes in the wood’, they didn’t really understand how they were going to be systematically misrepresented in the right wing media. They’ve learned but there is still some way to go I’d say.

      • Temp: “politics” is not a scientific explanation. I assume you mean political persuasion. People do not hold views because of their political persuasion, rather the opposite. Moreover, everyone has a position in the political spectrum, so it would follow that all belief regarding AGW, pro and con, is due to political persuasion. Are you claiming that scientific belief is all a matter of political persuasion? Or do you claim that right wingers are irrational while left wingers are not? Neither is tenable.

      • @ David,

        No. Left wing types have their problems with science too. On nuclear power and genetic modification for example.

      • “Moreover, everyone has a position in the political spectrum, so it would follow that all belief regarding AGW, pro and con, is due to political persuasion.”

        No, it doesn’t follow. Most people are happy to accept scientific findings, providing they don’t go against pre-existing commitments. So most creationist types wouldn’t have a problem with most science. Just those aspects which conflicts with their religious beliefs.

        Similarly with most Libertarian types who object to scientific opinion AGW and leftists who object to all forms of nuclear power. They’ll happily accept almost everything else.

      • Nullius in Verba

        Why do you think the standard of evidence should be any different for one side of a disagreement compared to another? How do you decide which is which, except by looking at the evidence?

        If you don’t have more than a hazy idea of how DNA/RNA works, isn’t the correct answer “I don’t know” rather than “I believe”?

      • Yes, I personally don’t know in genetic science is correct. I personally don’t know if the universe is expanding. I personally don’t know if AIDs is caused by HIV. There are lots of other examples I could give too.

        But why should I doubt them all? None of us have started totally from scratch. None of us can rely solely on what we know personally. We all stand on the shoulders of past geniuses to get a better view. That’s science!

      • Nullius in Verba

        “But why should I doubt them all?”

        Because that’s what scientists do – especially geniuses. Newton’s quip is quite true, but there was an awful lot that his forbears considered settled that he threw away. The art is in knowing which bits to keep, and that means considering them critically.

        Newton was also a more tolerant reader than many today. He built much of his work on that of Keppler, whose writings make some of our resident eccentrics here look positively mainstream. Today, Keppler would be rejected as an ‘internet eccentric’. Newton paid attention.

        Newton was also highly critical of his own work. Newtonian gravity requires instantaneous action at a distance to work, which he realised was a major problem. But if you try putting propagation delays in, it not only breaks the conservation laws, with action and reaction forces no longer equal and opposite, but it also renders the orbits of the planets unstable. Newton knew from the very start that it was wrong, but didn’t know how to fix it.

        -

        However, I am usually careful to distinguish two modes of belief – scientific belief, and what I’ll call everyday belief.
        For everyday belief, you can believe whatever you want, for whatever reason you like. Whether that’s because trusted authorities say so (teachers, scientists, politicians, priests, etc.), because correlation implies causation, because you read it in the newspaper, because it’s what everybody else thinks, because a dear little pixie told you – Freedom of Belief requires that we not set limits.

        For scientific belief, you have to follow the scientific method. If you want to everyday-believe in AGW because the experts say so, you can. But if other people want to *disbelieve* because people *they* consider to be experts say so, it’s no different. If you want to claim scientific justification for your belief, then you have to follow the scientific method, which means being sceptical of the claims of experts.

        Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts. Trust in experts is unscientific. From a practical point of view, especially for those not trained in science, it’s impossible to avoid doing it – but it’s not and never will be scientifically justified.

      • NiV,

        Agree 100%.

      • NIV,

        Having said that only “fools” and the “disingenuous” make claims like “it is very simple’, it further needs to be said that the same two categories, depending on what suits them at the time, make claims along the lines of ‘its all so complicated. Its all so uncertain. How can we trust these so-called experts?’

        The truth is naturally somewhere in between. Unless you are one of those people who deny even the natural GH effect, without which the Earth would be 33 deg colder than it is, it shouldn’t be too hard for everyone else to accept that doubling CO2 levels will increase temperatures by 3 degC. We should in fact consider ourselves lucky that it not much more.

        If you’ve got a more accurate estimate lets see your calculations. However, it will need slightly more than ” reading about it on and off for a few years now” for you to be able to overturn the general scientific opinion.

        You say geniuses doubt the conventional wisdom. Only sometimes though when they’ve thought it all through and they know they are on to something. So do fools, but with far less, if any, thought. For every one of the former there are thousands of the latter. If you talk the talk you have to walk the walk, as the saying goes.

      • Nullius in Verba

        Are you talking about whether climate science is very simple, or that the reason for scepticism is very simple?

        “Unless you are one of those people who deny even the natural GH effect, without which the Earth would be 33 deg colder than it is, it shouldn’t be too hard for everyone else to accept that doubling CO2 levels will increase temperatures by 3 degC.”

        The one does not imply the other. This is what I was talking about – you’ve got a range of claims ranging from “the greenhouse effect exists”, which it does, through to “doubling CO2 levels will increase temperatures by 3 C” which requires a lot more argument regarding feedbacks and other mechanisms. That I accept the one does not imply that I or anyone else must accept the other.

        The 20th century saw half a doubling (40%), and about 0.6 C warming. Less if you consider the LIA to have been below normal. With another half doubling should we expect 2.4 C of warming? Isn’t it obvious that there’s far more to it than just the CO2 greenhouse effect?

        And it isn’t necessary to provide a more accurate model to be able to claim that an existing hypothesis is unsupported by evidence. This would be like astrologers demanding that sceptics first provide a more accurate way to predict the future before their claims could be dismissed. The sceptics’ position might be that it is impossible to predict with the current state of knowledge.

      • temp, clearly you did not understand the “it” when I said it is simple. I was referring to the existence of widespread skepticism, which was the topic of the thread, not to climate science (which is far from simple). We are seeing a bunch of attempts to explain skepticism. They fail because they assume AGW is settled science, which is false. This is just another case of science, in this case social science, going in the wrong direction by assuming AGW. Physical climate science is doing the same thing.

        You might consider the following approach: if someone says something that seems obviously wrong or foolish then you may well have misunderstood them.

      • No left wing types have their problems with science too. On nuclear power and genetic modification for example.

      • 10/16/11, 7:58 pm, On being a radical scholar

        Computer tech support reports:

        Customer: My printer’s not working.

        Tech support: Are you running it under windows?

        Customer: No, my desk is next to the door, but that is a good point. The man sitting in the cubicle next to me is under a window, and his printer is working fine.

        On Climate Etc., a blog exploring Anthropogenic Global Warming:

        Poster: Left wing types have their problems with science, too. On nuclear power and genetic modification, for example.

      • “If you think AGW is a serious threat, then that should be of great concern to you. It’s going to mean that political support for action will fade away over the next few years, which will result in whatever it is you think is going to happen as a result of global warming. Is that what you want?”

        But its what climate science rejectionists want. They’ve not liked the message so they got to great efforts, and not without some success, to discredit the messenger.

        There’s been quite a bit of discussion on this blog on how to “improve” the IPCC and “improve” the standing of climate science generally. And of course it hard to say that things can’t be improved. Everything can always be better than it is. One person actually said they didn’t want that – they don’t want climate science to have any credibility at all. They sure don’t. The only thing they want is the IPCC saying there is no problem with CO2 emissions. Then it will be perfect, of course.

      • We reject CAGW, not science. And we would rather have no climate science than pro-AGW science, which is what we are getting now. I would zero the budget in order to start over. It is the only way to get the AGW zealots out of scientific power.

      • David Wojick,

        You can’t have it both ways. If the overwhelming scientific opinion is that AGW is a serious problem then you can either choose to accept that opinion or reject it. But if you do decide to reject it, it can’t be on just that particular issue. You’re displaying an anti-science mentality.

        The exception would be if you happened to be in a position to show that the consensus position was incorrect. Then, you’d be in line for a Nobel prize.

      • Temp, I did not say (and do not believe) that the overwhelming scientific opinion is that AGW is a serious problem. The serious problem is that the funding of climate science is controlled by an overwhelming handful of AGW proponents, specifically the program managers at the science agencies. As a result the primary research groups are also controlled by pro-AGW scientists, Hansen’s GISS being the most notable.

        I think there are a lot of scientists who would like to pursue non-AGW lines of inquiry, as this is clearly where the important questions now are. But the funding is still focused on questions that assume AGW, such as the carbon cycle, aerosols, CO2 sensitivity, and refining the existing models.

        Scientists do not study what they want to, they must study what the funders want to fund. Everyone is looking at the scientists, so they are looking in the wrong place. The program managers who control the research directions are invisible.

      • Nullius in Verba

        Some may, but a lot of us only want political support to fade away if that’s *the right answer*, which I think it probably is but I’m not totally sure yet. We can only have any rational confidence that we are right through examining the best arguments against our beliefs, and if those arguments are not good enough, it’s well worth trying to improve them.

        I’m also concerned for the sake of the science itself. I’d like to see it done right. Both because it’s the right thing to do, and because it will probably affect society’s trust in science – and while a little less blind trust would probably be a good thing, that sort of thing could easily go horribly wrong.

      • Nullius in Verba,

        You say “think it [the AGW issue] probably is [incorrect] but I’m not totally sure yet.”

        So you aren’t totally sure? And what does that mean exactly? I’m not a climate scientist, I’m an electronics engineer. I’m not in a position to to decide on the fundamentals. What about you? Are you working in the field of climate science?

      • Nullius in Verba

        “And what does that mean exactly?”

        It means that I haven’t seen sufficient solid evidence to support the belief, and the way they go about explaining it and researching it leads me to strongly doubt that such evidence exists – but their explanations are so confused that I might be missing or misunderstanding something, and it might be that the evidence is actually there but buried by all the bad science, nonsensical and exaggerated claims, and politics.

        That’s not to say that all climate science is the same. Many parts of climate science I think are correct. But you can’t jump from acceptance of the basic physics bits to automatic acceptance of the alarming conclusions. The greenhouse effect is real, although it doesn’t work the way most people think, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily anything to worry about.

        “I’m not in a position to to decide on the fundamentals. What about you?”

        I’ve been trained in physics, and I’ve been reading about it on and off for a few years now, ever since I decided it was an important enough subject that I wanted to have a scientific opinion on it. I think I would be in a position to be able to decide on fundamentals, as much as any non-specialist is; and that if it is as certain and well-developed a conclusion as claimed, then it ought to be possible to explain it for non-specialists to be able to understand.
        Feynman used to say that if you couldn’t explain some piece of science in non-technical terms to a layman, then you didn’t really understand it yourself.

        But I wouldn’t want anyone to take my word as an “expert” any more than anyone else’s.

      • “I’ve been trained in physics”

        That can mean anything from scraping a pass at GCSE (is it in the UK) to having a PhD or even a Nobel Prize!

        Its just that phrases like “I’m also concerned for the sake of the science itself” sound rather pretentious. Pompous even.

      • Nullius in Verba

        Yes, I’m being deliberately vague about my qualifications, because they’re not relevant to any of my arguments. Paying attention to qualifications is just another form of argument from authority. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether I know what I’m talking about.

        Concern for the sake of science has nothing to do with training – any citizen of the modern world understands what science has enabled us to achieve, and would be concerned by anything that could put that at risk.

        I’m not claiming any special insight into that. I think anyone could see what it might do to public trust in science if the entire global warming scare turns out to be bad science, and that the world’s scientists neither detected it themselves, nor did anything about it when it was revealed by others. And wouldn’t the public be quite right to do so?

      • Nullius in Verba, 10/16/11, 7:06 am

        NiV: I’m being deliberately vague about my qualifications, because they’re not relevant to any of my arguments. Paying attention to qualifications is just another form of argument from authority.

        Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. Go — before I lose my temper. Oz, 1939.

  42. tempterrain: It may seem unfair, but we live in a democratic society, and if climate scientists and their supporters want global action to counter global warming, then they must win over a majority of citizens for their cause. That’s just the way it is.

    The problem is that climate scientists prefer to handle this by winning the battle among scientists then expecting policy makers to implement the scientists’ recommendations. This is the infamous “A + B = C” that Dr. Curry spoke against recently.

    That might have worked four years ago when concern about climate change was at a peak. It probably would still work if climate change mitigation only cost, say, a few hundred billion dollars. However, mitigation is a far more vast, instrusive and expensive proposition which citizens won’t allow unless they are persuaded, and that will require repairing climate science’s credibility, as Nullia has been saying.

    • However, mitigation is a far more vast, instrusive and expensive proposition which citizens won’t allow unless they are persuaded…

      that mitigation is cheaper than adaptation. Which it is. But of course both will be necessary,

  43. …mitigation is cheaper than adaptation.

    tempterrain: I know you are certain of that, but many of us are not. It is up to your side to make the case.

    How are you going to do it? Or are you, like Dr. Lacis, going to be satisfied saying, “I told you so!” later?

    • ” It is up to your side to make the case.”

      Yes I’ve heard this said many times. Like somehow you guys have decided the ‘rules of the game’! Science doesn’t normally have sides in the political sense you imply. How about saying it’s up to everyone to make their case?

      Co2 levels are now 390ppmv. There is already a coherent case that it shouldn’t be allowed to pass 450ppmv and then needs to be reduced substantially from that.

      Those who claim it can safely allowed to rise higher than this, need to make their case too. Where is the evidence to support this view?

      • “Co2 levels are now 390ppmv. There is already a coherent case that it shouldn’t be allowed to pass 450ppmv and then needs to be reduced substantially from that. ”
        What are the consequence if it exceeds 450 ppm?

        What level of CO2 level is the best level?

        If CO2 levels were rising mostly due to natural causes do people have the right to higher levels of CO2? Farmers for example?

        Assuming one can determine the optimal CO2 level how much is it worth
        to have that level of CO2. What price should paid for that level of CO2.
        By which I mean if someone can develop a safe means of lowering global CO2 [such as enriching oceans] how much should such parties who do this be paid?

        If CO2 causes warming, and if you lower temperatures and if deaths and hardships occur, would victims have recourse of recovering damage and loss of life?

      • tempterrain: If we’re talking about America, refer to the US Constitution for how people are elected and appointed, laws and bills are passed, and monies are borrowed or allocated. Those are the rules of the game.

        If your side wants to change US policy with regards to climate and spend money on mitigation, you must work within our constitutional framework. The Waxman-Markey Climate Change Bill failed because your side didn’t have the votes. If you want votes to pass climate change bills, you must persuade more Americans to support your position on climate change.

        Those who accept the status quo aren’t required to win arguments.

  44. Huxley,

    As far as I know there is no serious study which has concluded that mitigation is unnecessary on cost grounds.

    On the other hand there are many which come to the opposite conclusion. Garnaut, Stern etc

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-limits-economy.htm

    • Stern? {Choke}

      http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21494

      Cost-benefit analysis by a toasty lukewarmist Yale economist. Stern’s and Gore’s solutions are the worst of all possible choices.

    • This guy is supposed to be an economist and yet he takes it upon himself to state that CO2 has a residence time of 12 years. I’d say he was wrong there. If he wasn’t sure he should have checked with someone who knew better. It doesn’t matter how good an economist he might be, if he doesn’t get the science right it is all quite meaningless.

    • temp

      Google “Suma Ching Hai Garnaut” (I’m not kidding). You’ll learn new reasons for stopping global warming.

    • tempterrain: Again, you miss my point. I’m talking about what is possible in terms of current US politics.

      I’m saying that if mitigation only cost a few hundred billion dollars, I believe that enough political support could be mustered in our government to make it happen and that’s because, ultimately, enough voters would accept that one-time expense.

  45. Here are my comments on radical scholarship. http://simonbatterbury.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/where-have-the-radical-scholars-gone/
    I make a distinction between radicalism ‘inside’ an academic field and ‘outside’ more generally, and like the authors above, I think radicals need to de-emphasise personal advancement in the workplace.

    • Simon, thanks for stopping by. I like your essay, I’ve flagged it for a future post.

    • Moderately precious. Were I radical I’d call it ungovernably precious. I particularly liked ‘rarely had their careers blocked because of their beliefs or actions’.
      ============

  46. I mean, compared to the McCarthy period where academic freedom was curtailed – and it is still is in some parts of the world.