Sociology of science: Keep standards high

by Judith Curry

The rise of digital media has revolutionized the management of information and created opportunities for broader involvement in science’s production. 

Jerome Ravetz has a comment published in the latest issue of Nature entitled “Sociology of science: Keep standards high.”  The comment is available online [here].  The comment is short, here are some excerpts:

Some trends are apparent. The rise of digital media has revolutionized the management of information and created opportunities for broader involvement in science’s production. Collaborations are growing ever larger, transforming the concept of authorship. Prepublication discussions of research on blogs dilute a principal author’s claim to discovery. And the public is increasingly involved.

As a result of these developments, the product of research is becoming more fluid. The journal is losing its status as the sole gatekeeper — simultaneous guarantor of quality, certifier of property, medium of communication and also archive. 

In response to these trends, some individuals are becoming self-appointed gatekeepers. During the polarized ‘climategate’ debates in 2010, for example, climate scientists stepped in to defend the work of a reputable colleague from criticism by a ‘mere’ mining engineer. That critic, Steve McIntyre, claimed on his blog simply to be applying the standards of the business world to climate data.

Although scientific expertise presents a bar to interference, concerned outsiders have a legitimate and useful role. The setting of policy priorities is one such example. 

Whistle-blowing is another vital form of intervention. 

In some circles, gatekeepers are being done away with. Many high-technology sectors already operate along communitarian lines. For example, ‘open source’ and ‘creative commons’ enterprises handle intellectual property collaboratively. Signatories publish their specifications freely, allowing others to copy and adapt the work, as long as people credit it and there is mutual access to ideas. These sound like the ideals of science as based on the work of US sociologist Robert Merton: communalism, universalism, disinterestedness, originality and scepticism.

As more people become involved in online debates, quality need not fall by the wayside. It is encouraging to see that well-conducted discussions of points of contention between the scientific mainstream and critics are emerging, as the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study demonstrates.

Scientists have a special responsibility, but also a special difficulty. When their training has been restricted to puzzles with just one right answer, scientists may find it hard to comprehend honest error, and may condemn those who persist in apparently wrong beliefs. But amid all the uncertainties of science in the digital age, if quality assurance is to be effective, this lesson of civility will need to be learned by us all.

Jerome Ravetz is well known to WUWT and Climate Etc. readers:

The comments on the Nature piece are interesting, in response to concerns about blogospheric civility, Ravetz states:

There are important climate-science blogsites of a generally critical or questioning orientation where the courtesy rule is respected. Judith Curry initiated the courtesy rule in the course of a debate over the significance of Hurricane Katrina for global warming, and it is maintained on her website, see http://judithcurry.com. Anthony Watts’ site http://wattsupwiththat.com has vigorous discussions but again well within the limits of courtesy and mutual respect. That may be one of the reasons that it has been named ‘Best Science Blog’ last year and previously. Although talking (and listening) to bad people is well recognised as essential for the resolution of power-political disputes (see Northern Ireland and South Africa), it is, I recognise, a very new and strange idea for science-political disputes.

Well I wouldn’t go so far as to say the discourse at WUWT and Climate Etc. is courteous, but I think it is sufficiently civil for useful dialogue to occur.

JC comments:  I am a fan of the concept of “extended peer community” put forth by Funtowicz and Ravetz.  Also, Ravetz’s phrase “the radical implications of the blogosphere” has definitely stuck in my head.  Re the civility issue, I agree some level of civility is needed.  Some think that Climate Etc. is to raucous (a not infrequent complaint made at collide-a-scape).   A fair place for an honest debate might not be especially courteous.  But the blogosphere enables a range of different types of fora and moderation rules.  The challenge is to extract signal from the noise.  I am pleased that sociologists are studying this.

249 responses to “Sociology of science: Keep standards high

  1. Heh, compare with Stevie Mac’s latest.
    ===========

  2. Of course, it only gets’ “raucous” when discussing policy/technology. The scientific discussions are usually pretty bland. Until the usual suspects start blowing smoke, anyway.

    • As you can see from the CSPAN video recording:

      http://judithcurry.com/2012/01/05/error-cascade/#comment-156094

      1. Scientific discussions were not bland in 1998 when Dr. Dan Goldin, NASA Administrator, admitted experimental data had been withheld from the 1995 Galileo probe into Jupiter:

      2. The full implications of hiding excess Xe-136 in Jupiter,
      http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/metsoc98/pdf/5011.pdf

      3. As predicted in a 1983 paper on the Sun’s composition,
      http://www.omatumr.com/archive/SolarAbundances.pdf

      4. Aroused suspicions that were confirmed in late 2009 by:
      a.) The release of Climategate emails, and the
      b.) Response of leaders of nations and sciences

      5. As Climategate unfolds, the public will learn:
      a.) Earth’s climate and our lives are powered by
      b.) A force between neutrons that was displayed
      c.) On the cover of a ACS Symposium Proceedings
      d.) Organized by Nobel Laureate Glenn T. Seaborg
      e.) Published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, and
      f.) Ignored by government scientists, spending public funds trying (unsuccessfully) to meet future energy needs with fusion reactors operating like their unrealistic models of the Sun.

      Whether or not Climategate unfolds as suggested, leaders of the US NAS, the UK RS and the UN IPCC will not be able to continue to ignore data and experimental observations that accumulated like water behind an earthen dam while they preached AGW dogma as a scientific fact.

    • The bias is becoming destructive when we see blatant discrimination and firing people when they do not toe the party line over politically correct positions on “climate change”. See:
      Ben Stein Sues: Ad Agency Replaced Me Over My Global-Warming Position

  3. incandecentbulb

    In other words, the curtain has been pulled back and we’re seeing that while nominally the sun powers the climate, the global warming debate is powered by predatory liberal fascism.

    • Joshua – over here, please.

      • Thanks Anteros -

        I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that.

        BTW – did you see this one? I thought you’d like it.

        http://judithcurry.com/2012/01/06/the-new-climate-dice/#comment-156997

        The culture of applying haphazard assumptions as occurs notably in the fields of economics, physics, & mathematical statistics is potentially a grave threat to our society & civilization.

      • Joshua -
        I appreciate the link but can’t make head nor tail of the lunacy. Or even where it came from.

        But you’re right, it’s one straight out of the the doomers-mad-handbook.

      • Sorry Anteros -

        I appreciate the link but can’t make head nor tail of the lunacy. Or even where it came from.

        Wrong link. Here’s the correct one.

        http://judithcurry.com/2012/01/06/the-new-climate-dice/#comment-156829

        I guess there is a rationale – although it requires more suspension of disbelief than I typically am able to muster.

      • Joshua -
        Now its just the technical stuff I don’t understand ;)

        Funny though; this kind of end-times thinking comes from frustration with (the perceived failings of) other people.

        Isn’t that, in a way, some of the explanation for the frequency (or power) of doom-laden thinking generally and climate debates in particular? It’s that we’re heading for a disaster because so many people don’t take the issue seriously. In other words, the vehemence comes because the disaster is only a consequence of the misunderstanding of people – otherwise it would be avertible.

        I don’t know, but it feels that the emotions attached to the issue are to do with human relations (politics, if you like) and not very much to do with the actual composition of the atmosphere. We conjure visions of disaster as weapons in our arguments with our adversaries. “This is what your stupidity will lead to….

        FWIW I’d agree that Paul Vaughan’s example is a spectacular construct of irrational imagination. I won’t be able to ridicule fears of species extinction with quite the same enthusiasm in future… they suddenly seem very reasonable in comparison.

      • Anteros -

        In other words, the vehemence comes because the disaster is only a consequence of the misunderstanding of people – otherwise it would be avertible.

        That’s essentially why I think a great deal of the debate boils down to the debaters’ social/political/cultural identity and their need to grasp with their sense of identity through debate. The concept of needing to assert one’s identity by identifying “the other” is a fairly powerful piece of psychology that I think helps explain a lot of what we see.

        But I will also say that I think that much of the doomsaying is probably less heartfelt than what seems if you look at the comments at face value. These doomsayers (at least for the most part) aren’t the Chicken Littles who wander in the streets warning people that the sky is falling; I think that most of them are basically passionate and partisan folks, who actually think quite deeply about issues, but who fall into the trap of accepting facile ways out of deep and vexing conundrums.

      • Yes, Joshua, but think of the poor.
        Or the overall Economy.
        Or the loss of our Freedom.
        No doom there.
        Only gloom.

    • er. “…. the need to grapple with their sense of identity through debate…”

      • Remember Joshua, Hltler was a social scientist and he was crazy but he was still able to get a three book with deal with some publisher that made him rich too. I wonder who his agent was? Who do you think it was? You know a lot.

      • Joshua -
        I’ll agree with you on the whole – the doomsaying has many functions and needn’t be taken at face value all the time.

        Do you genuinely extend your “most of them are basically passionate and partisan folks, who actually think quite deeply about issues to the Cwons and Dons and stereotypical Tea Partiers?….. I’d read many of your comments in a slightly different way if that were true!

      • Anteros -

        Do you genuinely extend your “most of them are basically passionate and partisan folks, who actually think quite deeply about issues to the Cwons and Dons and stereotypical Tea Partiers?….. I’d read many of your comments in a slightly different way if that were true!

        If you promise not to tell them, I will admit that actually I do. I find their face-value ludicrous comments useful for pointing out to Judith (and skeptics who are open to debate) that their isn’t an asymmetry in the debate as she has constructed. But I don’t really believe that they’re likely to be as lunatic as they seem from their comments on their face value. When libz call Tea Partiers or the like “proto-Nazis” or some such nonsense I think it no more valid than when Lindzen analogizes environmentalists to Eugenicists. I don’t think that GaryM hates “progressives” as much as it might seem from his blog posts. Willis keeps misconstruing my observations of tribalism and inaccuracy in his analysis to mean that I think he’s an “evil man.” I have no reason to judge him in such a manner.

        People get worked up in blog comments and I think there is some value in that. It’s a good intellectual exercise to stretch your thinking beyond what might be circumscribed by prudence or caution. Overly passionate ranting can be a good way to check your own analytical processes. If cwon or Gary really felt the way about me that they often say they feel about me, they wouldn’t engage me in any form of discussion – even in discussions where they regularly insult my intelligence or impugn my motivations, values, etc. They’d be picking up one of their beloved assault weapons and joining a right wing militia (after completing their bunker, of course). I mean they’re really not posting from their militia headquarters or from their bunkers, are they?

        Uh…. Are they?

      • (Whistle!!) Joshua, close your italics :( You are banned from italics and emoticons for two posts. :)

      • Stop showing off your facility with emoticons!

      • Can’t 8-O it is required when blogging in the bunker.

        A quick regulatory backfire quiz question. Which produces more mercury per unit energy, coal or non food crop related biomass ?

      • A quick regulatory backfire quiz question. Which produces more mercury per unit energy, coal or non food crop related biomass ?

        I wouldn’t have any idea except that from knowing your tribal orientation, you wouldn’t be asking the question if the answer weren’t food crop related biomass.

        That is an interesting fact, however I hope that you don’t fall into that extremist libertarian trap that leads one to think that since one aspect of fossil fuel reduction has unintended consequences therefore all efforts to limit fossil fuel usage are inherently socialist/communist/eco-Nazi/capitalism-destroying/third world chldren-starving plots of the “climate community.”

      • I would never do such a thing Joshua. Actually, I tend to be fairly laid back. The answer though is a toss up. It depends on the land the biomass is grown on. Coal did get that mercury from the organisms what made it you know.

        I predict some interesting conversations on the energy side of the debate in the not too distant future.

      • Yeah. :evil:

      • Who needs debate; when the people get to see stuff like this for free, why pay $2.50 for printed pages of even more of lies? We understand logic.

        http://bigjournalism.com/jjmnolte/2012/01/09/johnny-depp-gate-what-did-the-mainstream-media-know-and-when-did-they-know-it/

        Joshua, why do you & Romney, like these 10k bets?
        I know, this is probably just another ‘chicken or the egg’ thing.

    • the global warming debate is powered by predatory liberal fascism

      On behalf of those of us fomenting predatory conservative fascism, PCF, I deeply resent your implication that we are powerless to influence this debate.

      (But I equally deeply appreciate your playful spelling of “incandescent.” Wish I’d thought of that.)

      • We need to have laws with more teeth.
        Powerful, intact teeth.
        Our very salivation is at stake:

      • Finally, willard, turbine generators useful for baseload. Harness the staying power of true belief.
        ==========

      • Mr. willard, thank you for letting us see what became of those little munchkins of OZ. Ta

      • Honest brokers rightly claim
        We will be saved no matter what
        By means they could barely imagine.

        Even kim might not have guessed
        Zombies as our way out of oil
        And friendly fascim as the solution.

      • Um willard, did you mean to say fascism or fashion?
        It is a mad world today, eh?

      • I am unsure if I meant “fascism”, Kilroy, as I am unsure Mr. Supreme really meant “friendly fascism”.

        I am quite sure Mr. Supreme said it, though, as I am sure you agree that we finally have a candidate that shows some vestimentary taste.

    • David Bailey

      “In other words, the curtain has been pulled back and we’re seeing that while nominally the sun powers the climate, the global warming debate is powered by predatory liberal fascism.”

      I think it can be a mistake to interpret what has happened in “climate science” just in terms of politics. I mean, suppose the CO2 threat had been real, or suppose instead we were faced with an imminent asteroid collision, we would want the world to pull together and do something about it!

      The root of this problem lies in science, which has allowed itself to cozy up to governments and let them gradually distort the scientific process. People are also ringing alarm bells more generally, that for example, a very high percentage of medical research papers are not reproducible.

      Somehow we need to get back to a world in which researchers don’t need to publish so frequently, but are held to account if they publish rubbish. Perhaps we also need a process that demands certain qualifications from anyone wanting to contribute certain types of research:

      Statistical qualifications if you want to publish heavily statistical papers.

      Botanical qualifications for those wishing to deduce stuff from tree rings.

      Some sort of computer science and modelling qualification from those wishing to contribute computer models.

      The qualifications might consist of a short course and exam, they need not be an actual degree.

      • “the global warming debate is powered by predatory liberal fascism.”

        “The root of this problem lies in science, which has allowed itself to cozy up to governments and let them gradually distort the scientific process.”

        David, neither statement isn’t without merrit but alas vast movements and conflicts at many levels can’t be reduced in either fashion and be considered complete. It would be progress for Dr. Curry to address the very specific ideology of AGW advocacy rather than avoid through euphemisms and “this or that” false equivalence of the different sides. AGW is a total aggressive policy agenda largely centered on expanding central authority, skeptics are a confederacy of resistance with no central agenda at all. “Experts” can rent seek from either side but broader vast stakes of AGW would favor the AGW advocates and the minions who follow the ryhming collectivist result of AGW belief. What’s missing on this site is a very clear acknowledgement of the consensus science community, liberal political cultures and influence by the moderator. You can’t get to the truth of AGW (the science support being claimed included) with the assumption the science community was generally “above” such a corrupting force. Dr. Curry tries to maintain a false etiquette regarding poltitical motivations, most notably to that of of her peers and the Team itself.

        Dr. Lindzen;

        http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0809/0809.3762.pdf

        “When an issue becomes a vital part of a political agenda, as is the
        case with climate, then the politically desired position becomes a
        goal rather than a consequence of scientific research. This paper will
        deal with the origin of the cultural changes and with specific
        examples of the operation and interaction of these factors. In
        particular, we will show how political bodies act to control
        scientific institutions, how scientists adjust both data and even
        theory to accommodate politically correct positions, and how
        opposition to these positions is disposed of.”

  4. I really do like this, but I do want to know if anyone really changes their mind about anything they really believe.

    • John Carpenter

      Yes I have. Early on I thought I was more skeptical of the science than I actually ended up being. I have determined, based upon my education, work experiences, reading this blog (and a few others), interacting with commenters and reading thousands of comments that I am more in agreement with the ‘consensus’ science behind AGW than I thought initially. I remain very disappointed in the behavior evidenced from the climategate emails and remain very concerned whether the science is being dispensed by those in power equitably, i.e. full disclosure of all uncertainties, gatekeeping, etc… I remain very skeptical of the accuracy of GCM’s, but accept they have an important place in understanding the climate. I would not base policy based on their projections at this point in time. I am in favor of taking steps to reduce fossil fuel use where practical and economical. I believe we need to advance our energy production technologies to fossil fuel alternatives because inevitably, they will run out or become too scarce. I am not alarmed or afraid that our climate is changing dangerously or that humans play a part in it. We are, after all, part of the natural world and are not the only species who impact their environment.

      I believe if you change you mind about issues or aspects of climate science to something other than what you once had, it is not a sign of weakness or caving…. rather it’s a confirmation you are learning and understanding the material better. I do not appeal to authority, but I am also not questioning if the entire field is wrong about the overall observed trends. What is causing and by how much are the big questions and where all the action is IMO. Both sides exaggerate claims to their benefit. That’s natural, you have to navigate the positions and track them over time for their overall credibility. If you are advancing new theories, ok with me… but you need to back it up with hard data and evidence to gain acceptance… that goes for all sides of the of the debate. I firmly believe there is still a lot to debate about.

      • John -

        Nice post.

        It seems that you and I are closer in perspective than I had originally thought )although not exactly congruent) – so I guess in it’s own small way that is an example of change in my perspective.

      • John, human is on the top of the food chain / no predators to cul him. Population explosion in other critters follows by population explosion in their predators / rule in nature; that doesn’t apply for human. Crude oil depletion will do the job (maybe is blessing in disguise?) For long time they were predicting that population will level at about 2050; because was predicted that by then oil will dry. We are using much more oil than those predictors were calculating on = that date is getting closer and closer… most probably by 2025.

      • The observed facts on population growth are that the extremely rapid growth rate of the late 20th century has already slowed significantly in the new century:

        1960: 3.039 billion
        2000: 6.083 billion
        Compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) = 1.75%/year

        2011: 7.000 billion
        CAGR = 1.25%/year

        The UN projects that this will slow down even more over the rest of this century, to a population of between 9.0 and 10.5 billion by 2100.

        This represents a CAGR of 0.29% to 0.45%/year, respectively (or 1/4 to 1/6 of the exponential growth rate of the late 20th century).

        The WEC estimates we have enough “inferred possible fossil fuel resources in place” to last us 300 years at current usage rates (or maybe 150 years at projected future rates). Coal, oil and natural gas can be considered to be fully interchangeable based on currently available technology, so we should look at ALL fossil fuel resources, not just oil.

        I do not believe that there is any evidence to support the notion that population growth rates are constrained by the availability of fossil fuels. It appears that the constraint is rather one of affluence: i.e. as per capita GDP increases, population growth rates decrease.

        Max

    • Mr. Herman Alexander Pope, Hollywood may think that WE, ‘can’t handle the truth’ but they are obviously wrong. Our leaders need to tell it to us before they will ever know if we are able. Hurry up now.

    • steven mosher

      Yes there are plenty of people who would have objected to the behavior we find in the mails. However, since the world is at stake, they “adjust” their thinking. Lets take hide the decline. Before its exposure many would object to the trick. After its exposure, they change their tune.

      Then comes a day when somebody like pat michaels conjures a similar trick, removing lines from a chart. Sudden;y this trick is not so acceptable.

  5. postnormal age? Why do I always think Young Frankenstein and Abby Normal?

    It is a bit abnormal to have non-scientists reviewing science. It is really abnormal for non-scientists to be correcting scientists in peer reviewed literature. Is that postnormal?

  6. I’m generally quite a fan of Jerry Ravetz, but much of this strikes me as lazy and woolly. He is clearly unfamiliar with Climate Etc if he thinks the courtesy rule is ‘maintained here. I agree Dr Curry that the blogosphere enables a range of different types of fora and moderation rules, but with a virtually unmoderated site like this, ‘courtesy’ is always going to be conspicuous by its absence. You don’t necessarily have to bemoan that fact, but it is embarrassingly naive to deny it.

    In a similar vein, to insist that civility is a lesson that ‘needs to be learned by us all’ is a little like saying we are all going to have to drive at the speed limit…. Er, no we don’t – and no, we’re not.
    Why bother to write such a sentence in the first place?

    To confirm that Ravetz was out on the sauce the day before he wrote this article he says -

    “The blogosphere holds great promise for free information sharing. But….some see it as a possible vehicle for a scientific demagogue like Soviet biologist Trofim Lysenko.”

    When he refers to ‘some people’, does he mean some lunatics? Some people unconnected with reality? James Hansen?

    Other than these minor quibbles, he’s spot on as usual…

    *******************

    Oops. I’ve just re-read the article and come across this, where Ravetz is talking about relaxing the quantification of expertise by publication and citation. He says -

    Quality assurance could be achieved by a societal consensus and professional gatekeepers.

    This is something that would have suited Aldous Huxley in one of his chemically-altered visions of how society will be different in the future. A total fantasy, which would require human beings to be something radically different from that which they are. In one direction an amorphous epiphenomenon of ‘consensus’ mysteriously creating an unspoken assurance of quality, and in the other, some ‘professional gatekeepers’ (perhaps appointed by the United Nations?). Brave New World indeed!

    I think Jerry Ravetz has had better days – or perhaps just doesn’t know how human beings behave in the blogosphere?

    • incandecentbulb

      Everything would be different if, for example, we all noticed a full moon for an extra few days. There would be no debate and the challenges to our understanding of reality would be palpable. The reason for the AGW debate is because nothing unusual is actually happening except in the minds of debaters. That is why the socio-psycho aspects of global warming alarmism trump all other fields of scientific inquiry.

      • Ah-ha, but in the minds of half of the debaters, some very terrible things are going to occur very soon. And, if you sort of squint and look through the bottom of a pint glass, you can see the signs beginning to appear.

        Of course, if anybody refuses to acknowledge this nearly observable ‘reality’, they are despicable deniers and should be demonised without mercy.

      • AKA the placebo effect.

      • incandecentbulb

        Simply step outside the jiggery-pokery of Western civilization and the fairy tale of rivers running red do not exist.

      • Anteros -

        Ah-ha, but in the minds of half of the debaters, some very terrible things are going to occur very soon

        You may be right that it’s 1/2 of the debaters, but I suspect that you’re wrong in your method of calculation.

        Some portion or “realists” think that very terrible things are going to occur very soon, and some portion of “skeptics” also are doomsayers. Please note the quote I excerpted for you above. It is not particularly unusual.

        So, some “warmists” and some “skeptics” might make 1/2 the debaters – but it doesn’t make 1/2 of the public who are interested in the topic let alone 1/2 of the public who have opinions.

        I’d say that the vast majority of people who have some opinion/awareness of the climate debate do not fit your description – although perhaps 1/2 of the climate fanatics might who show up in climate blog comments might..

      • incandecentbulb

        … half of he believers and half of the deniers are insane therefore half of all debaters are insane but the other half are not insane, is that it?

      • … half of he believers and half of the deniers are insane therefore half of all debaters are insane but the other half are not insane, is that it?

        No. That’s not it. I’m not sure that it’s 1/2, but many of the debaters are motivated by strong partisan interests that tends to push their reasoning beyond what can be described as objective and sensible analytical reasoning. That doesn’t make them insane. It makes them human.

        There is some portion that could probably be fairly labeled as insane. I can think of a few in particular, in fact – but I’d say it is a relatively small minority.

      • incandecentbulb

        You apparently believe that a scientist who is not a ‘realist’ is not insane. Ok but then surely you will at least admit they cannot be honest.

      • Joshua -

        Fair point indeed. The portion of the doomers that are talking about the end of civilisation as a result of a change in taxation (or whatever) are those I tend not to hear.

        And ‘half’ was just a loose expression..

        I can’t really disagree, except that isn’t the dooming you quoted just a bombastic way of saying ‘your standards are very low’ like the way people say ‘I don’t know what the world is coming to’? It was nonsense, but did P Vaughan, or you, or me think that he believes that civilisation will fall? Really?

        I think Hansen’s ‘Coal is the greatest threat to civilisation and all life on the planet is different because he genuinely believes it. Isn’t that a different order of panic from just thinking the economy is going to go to the dogs?

      • You apparently believe that a scientist who is not a ‘realist’ is not insane. Ok but then surely you will at least admit they cannot be honest.

        I had a little trouble understanding that comment, but if I got it right (did you mean to say that you think I think that a scientists who is not a “realist” is inasane?), you misunderstand my views. I don’t believe that I’ve ever posted anything that would support such an interpretation (as I interpreted your comment), but I could be wrong about that. If you’d like to explain further what I’ve said that would support such an interpretation (If I got it right) I’d be happy to clarify.

      • Anteros -

        That’s a fair point also.

        Perhaps there is an imbalance in those who truly believe that a disaster is coming on the different sides of the debate (i.e., that there are more who are sure that global warming is leading to the deaths of millions than there who are sure that there is a liberal/socialist/AGW-cabal with intent to destroy capitalism with total disregard for the millions who will die as a result). It’s hard to know for sure but I’d say that it’s at least somewhat likely that there is an imbalance there as you describe.

        Still – I think that there are many among the “warmist” doomsayers who are not exactly predicting doom but expressing concern about the potential for catastrophic impact of global warming unless serious efforts at mitigation are made quickly. That isn’t exactly doomsaying, and I think that you tend to see it as such. It’s like the ubiquitous claim among “skeptics’ that “realists” say that the “science is settled.” There is actually only a tiny percentage of people (let alone scientists) who say that, and “the science is settled” is distinctly different than saying that it is some 90% likely that more than 50% of recent warming is anomalous and attributable to anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

      • Anteros

        Pardon me for chiming in, but this sentence caught my eye:

        The portion of the doomers that are talking about the end of civilisation as a result of a change in taxation (or whatever) are those I tend not to hear.

        Agreed.

        Whether these are telling us our civilization (as we know it) will end if we DON’T levy a global carbon tax or they are telling us it will end if we DO, does not make much difference.

        Both are loony.

        Max

        PS To your other point about doomers warning us that terrible things are going to occur very soon, I believe that there are two types in this category
        - those who REALLY believe this themselves and are motivated by FEAR (one of the strongest of all emotions)
        - those who do NOT REALLY believe it, but are simply attempting to fear-monger for some ulterior motive

        It is almost impossible to distinguish between the two on a site like this.

        Of course, there are also many, who believe that some negative effects may come from AGW, but do not believe that this will lead to a catastrophe – I would not call these doomers.

      • Joshua -

        I think that there are many among the “warmist” doomsayers who are not exactly predicting doom but expressing concern about the potential for catastrophic impact of global warming unless serious efforts at mitigation are made quickly. That isn’t exactly doomsaying…..

        I don’t know if we’re encroaching upon pedantry, but ‘catastrophic impacts’ have quite a doomy ring to them to me – especially if they’re purported to be in the offing unless serious efforts at mitigation are made quickly

        Catastrophe; disaster; doom…. take your pick. I think this is where I have a fundamental disagreement with you [unless you're indulging in playful rhetoric] because I can’t, with any kind of conscience, ascribe these future visions to someone who calls themselves a “realist”. They are words of alarm, used by people who are alarmed, to alarm others. Genuine realists are surely those unencumbered by too much irrational fear who are also aware of the human propensity to imagine fearfully – on non-existent pretexts. Surely there are people who believe (with varying degrees of panic) that deeply troubled times are ahead of us and those who don’t. Whatever you want to call those who see life continuing very much as it always has, it seems unnecessarily demeaning to effectively say they are fakes – which is what putting inverted commas around “skeptic” does. If it wasn’t obvious, there is a false equivalence in “realist” because there simply isn’t the current accusation of somebody being a ‘fake realist’. Putting inverted commas around “realist” just makes it look a little odd. “Skeptic” is perjorative because there is the feeble [and prescriptive] attempt to say that the word does or should mean something other than “not believing in a coming catastrophe” – which is what the word actually means i.e how it is used.

        Until ‘catastrophe’ comes under the purview of science [which isn't going to be in a millennium anywhere near us], somebody speculating about terrible portents seems poorly labelled as a “realist”.

        My central contention throughout the whole climate debate is that where many calim to see ‘evidence’ for something terrible about to happen [cf catastrophe, disaster] I see imagination run riot, and the lessons of Paul Ehrlich’s doom-mongering very much unlearned.

      • Max -

        I agree with you about fear. Not only the most powerful, but the essential root of all negative emotions. It baffles me that it isn’t obvious to most people that the future, in its uncertainty and un-knowability is the quintessential fear-inducer.

        If half the population is worried about the future, everything is pretty much normal in the world – it doesn’t require there to be any evidence of the future being any different than the present.

        I don’t know about the proportions of people that genuinely believe in a coming catastrophe and those who merely act ‘as if’, but I think fear is quite amazingly prevalent. Michael Tobis, and the Roberts and Hollys of the world seem fairly convinced that we’re surrounded by the omens of a coming apocalypse.

        And agreed too, that those who think there may be some negative consequences of increasing Co2 concentrations, are not necessarily doomers – realists and sensible people mostly.

  7. “These sound like the ideals of science as based on the work of US sociologist Robert Merton: communalism, universalism, disinterestedness, originality and scepticism.” Amusing series of words, I can’t for the life of me imagine any institution that I’ve been involved in–marriage, warfare, academia, business, and a passing knowledge of the history of science and sociology–that didn’t require some of the opposite qualities listed above: individualism, specific “facts” inductively arrived at by an interested person covering the hereto for mundane to the horrific with a healthy taken for granted belief in current explanations for the phenomena. Surely the “thought experiment” is a better description of Einstein’s life of discovery at the Swiss Patent office than Ravetz and “communalism.” I’m sorry, but Merton reads like the idyllic ideals underlying the routines for the United Nations, circa 1946, pretty much a rerun of the League of Nations only with world wide proxy wars instead.

  8. Over past months I’ve developed a real admiration for the thought process found in the comment strings on Judith’s posts. The discussion here would be more fruitful if in addition to wrestling with the issue of civility in blogs and on the internet, it focused on the fundamental problem of how civility can coexist with the scientific method and peer review. Ravetz suggests, correctly, that trust is vital. His earlier writings as well as thought dating back to Francis Bacon suggest that love as well as trust may be also beessential. More at http://www.livingontherealworld.org/?p=513.

  9. Personally, I think that the issue of “civility” per se is basically irrelevant. I find a lack of civility to be generally distasteful (well, of course with the exception of when I’m the person being uncivil), but that isn’t to me what really matters in the debate.

    To me what matters is how facile reasoning is so often present in the blogosphere – and that is also the problem, as I see it, with Judith’s views on the value of the “extended peer community”; she steadfastly refuses to differentiate between the contributions of value from skeptics in the blogosphere and the tribalisitic and facile contributions of “skeptics.” (In contrast, she does focus a lot of her energy on tribalism from the “realist” side of the debate).

    It’s a difficult question because I do agree that the blogosphere and related technologies offer a positive influence to the analysis of complicated issues, and simply noting uncivil comments is not a way to create that differentiation between poor and valuable contributions. Monitoring comments for civility will not leave only valid reasoning behind, and moderating comments for civility will not, in itself, remove all those comments that reflect facile or tribalisitic reasoning.

    But there is a middle ground between moderation for civility and a high school cafeteria food fight. The only possible explanation I can come up with for why Judith steadfastly refused to call out the obviously tribalistic and facile reasoning of some of the “skeptics” that post here (while she does tend much more to call out such attributes in comments from “realists) is that she allows her own biases – no matter what their genesis might be (I think that there is insufficient evidence to speculate about her motivations) – to create an imbalance that in the end works in the disinterest of raising the overall level of dialog.

    • John Carpenter

      Joshua, I find Judith has offered a forum that all views climate science can (and do) participate in. Judith is a legitimate, main stream, first rate climate scientist and so gives this site a great deal of credibility. Maybe I’m not understanding your point so well, but her offering this forum to all, including a great number of skeptical and alarmist crackpots…. without naming names… allows them a visible platform for them to comment without the threat of heavy handed moderation. It becomes very evident after reading over time who understands what the debate is and who doesn’t. If you observe long enough, and you have, you know who here are educated about the science and who aren’t. The beauty is you get to make the call, not Judith. She may call out ‘realists’ (your term) more because they hold the upper hand wrt to how the science is meted out to the general public and she is wary of it post climategate 1.0. She is in a position to try to change that. Really simple. It definitely helps the overall level of dialog.

      • John -

        Points taken. However, I still see it somewhat differently. Judith says that there’s an imbalance in her approach that is merely an inverse reflection of the imbalance in power in the debate, but I don’t quite accept that explanation. As I see it, the imbalance in her approach is likely reflective of her own biases – and I believe that I have been specific in my reasoning there on a number of occasions.

        And here is what I see as the problem with that: The scientific benefit and outcomes of the debate are generally lowered by tribalism on both sides which creates facile memes that get repeated over and over and over with no movement towards reasoned solutions. As such, I see Judith’s imbalance as contributing to the tribalism by making those on one side feel justified just as those on the other side feel victimized. She sees her uneven approach as addressing the tribalism to bring the debate into better balance (at least that’s how i think she sees it), but I see the unevenness in her approach as only exacerbating the problems.

        Sure, one more jr. high school cafeteria of jello-flinging one way or another doesn’t really make that much of a difference (this is one hell of a big food fight), and I wouldn’t characterize the debate that takes place here as entirely negative. But I was first attracted to this site because I found value in Judith’s discussion of the impact of tribalism on the climate debate, and I believe that it could add greater value if she were more balanced in her approach.

      • John Carpenter

        “Judith says that there’s an imbalance in her approach that is merely an inverse reflection of the imbalance in power in the debate, but I don’t quite accept that explanation. As I see it, the imbalance in her approach is likely reflective of her own biases –”

        Yes Joshua, the imbalance in power is believable. It becomes more believable everyday… see the most recent post at CA. The AGW message has been made imbalanced by many. The emails continue to reveal this… Judith has been influenced by them…. she has said so, many times. It has biased her thinking, she used to think differently, her thinking about how the climate message has been delivered to the public and by the IPCC has changed because what the emails revealed and continue to reveal. So both explanations are true. Her approach to balance the message, IMO, does not exacerbate the problem. It opens the debate to a larger audience. This should not be a closed knit debate with the types of policy ‘solutions’ on the table. It is a messy debate and should be. There are a lot of opinions and sides. She gives them all a place to speak here. It’s going to take a lot of this type of hashing out of ideas to try and form a middle ground necessary to forge good policy. Don’t expect the answer to come tomorrow.

      • John -

        Yes Joshua, the imbalance in power is believable. It becomes more believable everyday

        All of the Republican candidates running for president have decided that the most politically expedient position to take on climate change is the assertion that AGW is a hoax being promoted by librul scientists intent on lining their pockets and/or destroying capitalism. Those positions are founded on the work of “skeptics” in the blogosphere and a small minority of scientists working in the field. Those positions are also supported by a concerted effort from non-scientist rightwing partisans who present their political agenda wrapped in a pseudo-scientific cover.

        Here, take a look at this:

        If you look past some questionable rhetorical flourishes, you will see evidence of powerful forces at play, promoting non-scientific and motivated analysis. It is absurd, IMO, to diminish the power of a perspective being promoted by many of the people who stand to hold the most powerful executive office in the world in a few months.

        Judith tries to cleave some distinction in the power calculus by a false dichotomy (IMO) between the science and the non-science (the overlap makes that impossible, IMO) even as she speaks of what sees as invaluable contributions from non-scientists in the “extended peer review” community to the scientific debate. The logic seems incoherent to me. From what I see, she conveniently:

        (1) dismisses the impact of the tribalism of “skeptical” non-scientists on the debate about the science, even as she praises their scientific input.

        (2) dismisses the evident tribalism among “skeptical” scientists (Lindzen analogizing environmentalists to Eugenicists, Christy speaking to his political agenda, McKitrick using pure speculation about motives to call a scientists a “grovelling, terrified coward,” etc.)

        (3) Dismisses the exacerbating effect of tribalism among “skeptics” upon the tribalism among “realists.” Essentially, her argument in defending tribalism among “skeptics” seems to be “The warmists made them do it,” or “The warmists did it first,” but she doesn’t extend the same bilateral impact of tribalism when it comes to understanding the tribalism among “realists.” For years, the “climate community” was under tribalistic attacks (i.e., claims of “scientific cleansing” against a Jewish scientist from those who take deep “offense” to the term “denier) prior to such events as climategate, yet Judith seems to view the tribalism she sees evident in climategate as being unconnected to any past – like some immaculate conception.

        For “skeptics,” she sees the context and history as relevant for rationalizing tribalism, but not so when it comes to “realists.” Although I agree that it is too simplistic (inaccurate) to say that “big oil,” or even political agendas are what’s behind all climate “skepticism,” I feel that Judith discounts, inaccurately, the extent to which they do influence the debate as she calculates her “vast asymmetry” in some theoretical science-only arena, let alone the reality of the partisan agenda-infused scientific debate as it exists in the real world.

      • Joshua

        You seem to want to decide the reasons certain candidates reject the conclusion that immediate and expensive actions are necessary to reduce CO2 emissions in the US. I am not a republican but I do not think the actions often proposed make sense for the US. I notice that the current administration is not promoting the idea of higher taxes on fossil fuels to try to reduce CO2 emissions either.

      • Our trolls now not only are wandering off into people’s heads, they know the motives of….basically everyone. All skeptics, this blog’s propietor, candidates for Presidency and entire political parties.
        Amazing.
        And of course our trolls know that there is no distinction between AGW as a social movement and climate science.
        So as well as being experts on tax policy and climate, they are experts on psychology and human nature itself.
        CO2 belief brings great emlightenment indeed.

      • “I notice that the current administration is not promoting the idea of higher taxes on fossil fuels to try to reduce CO2 emissions either.”

        You’re not paying attention, are you? The EPA is trying to do that through rulemaking precisely because the legislative route is foreclosed. Make no mistake, carbon taxes are alive and well in the Obama administration.

      • PE

        Please note I wrote “promoting”. I agree that the EPA is pushing for thing to reduce CO2 and greatly am concerned of what they might be able to do over the next 4 years

      • Joshua

        Thanks for “Climate Denial Crock of the Week” video clip.

        What I liked best of all was the sign-off quote:

        The hucksters of climate denial will continue to peddle their poison for as long as the fossil fuel industry keeps calling their tune

        Huh?

        (“Crock of the Week”, indeed.)

        Max

      • Max

        Didn’t you get your check this week from the oil lobby? LOL Maybe the oil lobby was so busy writing bad things about Web’s book that they are late in getting all those checks out.

      • John Carpenter

        “All of the Republican candidates running for president have decided that the most politically expedient position to take on climate change is the assertion that AGW is a hoax being promoted by librul scientists intent on lining their pockets and/or destroying capitalism.”

        Ok Joshua, you are going into silly land. I have to admit up front that I have not watched a single one of the Republican debates yet. Having said that, I don’t think for a minute that all of them take the position that AGW is a hoax. I don’t think any of them take that position… including Perry, but I could be wrong. To further place the blame on skeptics in the blogosphere for their AGW position is a bit, well… beyond the pale. While I think CA may scientifically be the best ‘skeptical’ blog and WUWT may be the most viewed, I don’t believe the candidates are getting their opinion on the matter at those sites. CA isn’t really a ‘skeptical’ site anyway, SM fully agrees with AGW. Though those two hardly exhaust the number of sites, I look at them as the most influential…. potentially.

        “It is absurd, IMO, to diminish the power of a perspective being promoted by many of the people who stand to hold the most powerful executive office in the world in a few months.”

        Tell me another one… there are countless political positions where this statement could be used… illegal alien policy, middle east policy, war on terror policy, health care policy, war on drugs policy, abortion policy,…. do I really need to go on?

        What makes you think there is no dichotomy between the science and the non-science (policy) parts of the CC debate? You recognized it… it’s there, she sees two parts… I guess you see one, oh well, difference of opinion. That’s allowed.

        WRT tribalism… I think the ‘vast asymmetry’ Judith sees is; those in power to disseminate the scientific information upon which climate change policies may be made, via the IPCC model, are not represented equitably in the reports and thus for policy. Your tribal argument amounts to saying… if you aren’t a climate scientist and your shut out of the process you can’t be frustrated about it (McIntyre, McKitrick, Watts). You can’t make an opinionated remark (Lindzen). You can’t have a political position (Christy). Basically, if you’re not in power, you can’t have a champion to help your cause (Curry). Joshua, if you are in the power position… you don’t need a champion because your it. It is not an equitable position and I don’t beleive it necessarily can be one. But if you think the blogosphere gives equitable power to those who have no IPCC power, I think your wrong. If you don’t think the rise of the blogosphere skeptical positions (plural) on climate change is not a response to the inequity of power… I think your wrong. I don’t get where your tribalism argument gains any traction.

      • All of the Republican candidates running for president have decided that the most politically expedient position to take on climate change is the assertion that AGW is a hoax being promoted by librul scientists intent on lining their pockets and/or destroying capitalism. Those positions are founded on the work of “skeptics” in the blogosphere and a small minority of scientists working in the field.
        #########
        evidence for All
        evidence for All making the assertions you ascribe to them
        evidence that it is driven in each by the blogosphere

      • “All of the Republican candidates running for president have decided that the most politically expedient position to take on climate change is the assertion that AGW is a hoax…”

        Change the AGW to CAGW and you might actually have a point. But where’s the fun in being a progressive luke warmer if you can’t misrepresent conservative skeptic’s positions?

      • John -

        Having said that, I don’t think for a minute that all of them take the position that AGW is a hoax.

        Ok, after further review my call on the field has been reversed. I fumbled the ball on that one. Not all of the candidates are hoaxers.

        Bachmann and Cain were, but they have dropped out. Only Ron “”the greatest hoax I think that has been around for many, many years if not hundreds of years has been this hoax on the environment and global warming” Paul and Rick “A substantial number of scientists [have] manipulated data to keep the money rolling in,” Perry are hoaxers among the remaining candidates. Romney, Gingrich, and even Huntsman to some extend seem to all have miraculously changed their interpretation of the available data since hitting the campaign trail (quite a coincidence, isn’t it, that all of them had time to review all that science even while spending so much time campaigning?) – but they aren’t full-on hoaxers as I described.

        I don’t believe the candidates are getting their opinion on the matter at those sites.

        No, not exclusively directly from those sites, but sites like WUWT are the leading propogandists of the hoax meme although certainly, Fox News and the Marshal and Heartland Institutes do much of the heavy lifting also.

        Tell me another one… there are countless political positions where this statement could be used… illegal alien policy, middle east policy, war on terror policy, health care policy, war on drugs policy, abortion policy,…. do I really need to go on?

        Not sure what your point is here. My point is that climate change is a political issue not unlike those issues, and that the partisan propagandists on both sides affect the debate and should be marginalized by those interested in serious discussion. That paragraph seems to indicate that you agree with me, yet the rest of your argument seems to be in disagreement.

        What makes you think there is no dichotomy between the science and the non-science (policy) parts of the CC debate? You recognized it… it’s there, she sees two parts… I guess you see one, oh well, difference of opinion. That’s allowed.

        Not sure what your point is here either. My point is that there is much overlap between the two, thus making it false to see them as dichotomous.

        WRT tribalism… I think the ‘vast asymmetry’ Judith sees is; those in power to disseminate the scientific information upon which climate change policies may be made, via the IPCC model, are not represented equitably in the reports and thus for policy.

        Policy makers get their information from a variety of sources. Given the partisan breakout of our governmental system, I think it’s fair to say that there is no “vast asymmetry” in the sources of information relied upon by the majority of our policy-makers. For example, do you think that Romney is more aware of the details of what Fox News and/or Rush Limbaugh has to say about climate change, or the details of what Michael Mann has to say about climate change?

        Your tribal argument amounts to saying… if you aren’t a climate scientist and your shut out of the process you can’t be frustrated about it (McIntyre, McKitrick, Watts). You can’t make an opinionated remark (Lindzen). You can’t have a political position (Christy).

        That’s not what I’m saying at all, John. I have no problem with any of them venting their “frustration.” I just think that people who are interested in countering the effect of tribalism, or the influence of poorly qualified certainty on the debate, should do so evenly. When one aligns to point fingers at tribalism on one side and equivocate about tribalism on the other side, it only exacerbates the tribalism by further entrenching the tribalists on one side and helping the tribalists on the other side to feel justified in their tribalism.

        But if you think the blogosphere gives equitable power to those who have no IPCC power, I think your wrong.

        The blogophere is a part of a larger system that gives “skepticism,” much of it ridiculously lame “skepticism” a lot of traction in the climate change debate. The blogosphere also has the potential to contribute positively to debates about the actual science. To the extent that people like Judith marginalize the lameness, that goal will be furthered. To the extent that she equivocates about “skepticism” and tribalism among “skeptics,” while focusing her input on what she feels are the manifestations of tribalism on the other side, I see her efforts as counterproductive in balance, and that’s a shame because I think that her focus on better quantifying certainty would be beneficial in a general sense otherwise.

        If you don’t think the rise of the blogosphere skeptical positions (plural) on climate change is not a response to the inequity of power…

        I see the rise of the “blogosphere skeptical positions” as being a mixture of concern about scientific analysis and lame “skepticism” put forth by people who create a false victim mentality about an imbalance in power in order to serve a partisan agenda. It’s unfortunate that some people who are serious from the science don’t distance themselves from the partisan blather.

      • Sorry – just realized another error I made.

        Cain and Bachmann haven’t dropped out, they’ve only “suspended” their campaigns.

        Too funny.

    • What you miss Joshua is that it is not up to you, or anyone, whose reasoning is facile or tribal. What you consider poor may actually be the best.

      • David W -

        What you miss Joshua is that it is not up to you, or anyone, whose reasoning is facile or tribal. What you consider poor may actually be the best.

        Of course it isn’t up to me to make a determination. However, I have a perfect right on a blog to make it clear when I think someone’s thinking is facile – as long as the blog owner extends to me that privilege.

        What’s interesting about that comment, David, is that history tells me that you are far more likely to say to someone “You are wrong.” than I am. I try to say to people “I don’t think that’s correct.” or “I think you’re reasoning is facile on that point,” although I’m not a consistent as I’d like to be in that respect.

        Judith certainly lets “realists” know when she thinks their reasoning is facile, or when they haven’t sufficiently clarified their certainty, etc. She doesn’t let humility or a concern about being overly didactic prevent her from differentiating between what she feels is sound or facile reasoning in those situations.

    • Joshua, when you write:
      “Personally, I think that the issue of “civility” per se is basically irrelevant. I find a lack of civility to be generally distasteful (well, of course with the exception of when I’m the person being uncivil), but that isn’t to me what really matters in the debate.”…

      Hollywood, feels the same way when they are put on the spot. Ask HW, about what he thinks about the United States sometime. I saw Harvey on Utube once and could not believe my ears. He is a Big friend of the Left too. Stars are smarter then the regular folks out here in fly-over country.
      Look at all the free advertising they get for their movies on the boob-tube every day; it is news you know. Maybe if you turn them into the IRS you could make more than 10K on another side bet. You need to be the judge though. Could be dangerous, I know, I read the Inquirer. Are they 503c or whaterver? Who cares, they do more than you or I.

      • Tom -

        I know, I read the Inquirer.

        The National Inquirer or the Philadelphia Inquirer?

      • Joshua, what difference does that make today?
        All we get is smoke & mirrors, anyway…

        “Hypokrites”
        The word “hypocrite” is an interesting word. The English comes directly from the transliteration of a Greek word, hypokrites which means “to play a part, to act out, to feign.”

        In the early days of Christ, most of the drama that occurred on the stage was done by actors who had masks in front of their faces. You might have seen the traditional icon of the stage that consists of two masks. One mask is a man with a deep frown and the other is a man smiling a broad grin. That emanates from the Greek stage.

        The masks hid who the actors really were, and allowed them to act as if they were someone else. The word “hypocrite” eventually came to mean someone who is acting as if they are someone or something else. A person may look spiritual, but it is just an act. Or they look moral, but it is a mask hiding dark secrets.

        By God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be authentic Christians. Honest, humble, full of grace and truth as we depend on God and His Word. Integrity and evangelism are powerful companions!

        Thank you for your well written definition of ‘actors’.
        Mr. JMW

      • Joshua, scientists involved in ”stopping the climate from changing” have tarnished the scientist community in the honest professions; unjustifiably. Even there are lots of good people in Meteorology. Climatology shouldn’t be put together with astrology – astrology is entertainment – the real damages climatology is doing is a precedence; cannot be matched with any other evil force. For the simple reason that; in the past wasn’t electronic media; to reach large number of ignorants

  10. The production of science: adherence to a stated methodology, quantification of materials including assumptions, and providing the results are best left to scientists. The scientist’s major contribution should be in the integrity of the materials and numerical results. Any tinkering with the materials or results; adding, subtracting, adjusting should have a very clear trail.
    Analysis on the other hand, can and should be done by many. Beginning with the introduction and restating the question that is being addressed as well as providing another unique discussion are subject to quantitative analysis where people with expertise outside of the scientist can provide assessment. Those not involved in the data collection can provide a resource and critique that is eminently faster than the peer-review process.The Hockey Stick Team, on the other hand, provides a concrete example of data exclusion, statistical confabulating, “reaching” in the conclusions and just plain chutzpah. Science went off the rails, and if these scientists had been left to their own devices, their “doings” would not likely have been known, at least in a relevant time frame.
    As far as the blogosphere is concerned, it is the speed of analysis that is mind-blowing. Speed can kill a good idea by carelessness, but also speed can have a paring process to get to the meat of this issue. Broadening the base of analysis, can lead to incremental understanding, providing a more polished product.
    The concern of scientists that they have to control the whole process to assure a plausible product, negates what others can contribute because in truth, the scientists end up with the non-sequetor, “we can’t think of anything else” as the General Circulation Climate models well illustrate.

  11. “the challenge is to extract signal from the noise”.

    I’ve noticed the robustness (noise) is challenged by those making comments, so much so, by the end of a thread signals become clear. I’ve also noticed that without robustness in the discussion the signals end up as group think.

  12. In this thread, the BEST study is cited as a good way of extending peer review to knowledgable types in the digital media. I agree with this principle entirely, but in the months since BEST was published on the net, it’s still unclear to me:

    (1) Whether it has been updated significantly to take account of feedback.
    (2) Whether it has been officially peer-reviewed .
    (3) Whether the results and techniques are completely open
    (4) Whether use of the BEST studies is still verboten for 3rd parties because of “bugs” and features

    In summary, has anything happened differently by it being posted on the net for public perusal that would not have happened if it was still sitting around awaiting comments from selected reviewers?

    Dr Curry (or Steven Mosher, or anyone) – could you clarify?

    • Paging Ross McKitrick – have you heard yet?
      (last time Ross was here he indicated he was still waiting for a response from the editors having submitted his comments)

    • Thanks Bill.

    • Perhaps they will wait until their ocean component is finished, then submit again for blog histrionics, and only then submit for peer review.

      • JCH – I doubt it. I think it will be a long time before the ocean component is finished. And there is value in the land record as long as we remember what it represents. Comparison to the other indices, sensitivity analysis between methods, etc. etc.

      • And there is value in the land record as long as we remember what it represents.

        Yes, imsmc, that would be the elimination of any rational basis for AGW skepticism!

      • I don’t know whether it is a weakness for absolutes, JCH, or ignorance that informs your 11:10 comment.
        =============

      • Captain Kirk, once said to a Big Brain computor: ‘Everything I say is a lie and that’s the truth.”

        http://www.reuters.com/article/comments/idUSTRE80814T20120109

        Turn Left, warp speed 6, Mr. Check-off.

    • Since the publication on the web, I’ve talked with briefly with Robert and a couple of the other authors. It’s hard to tell what difference the web has made without being on the inside of the team. I can say that the work Zeke and Nick and I put out at AGU has been changed by the web. Basically, for me, I listen to ALL the arguments. I separate the good from the stupid and try to answer accordingly. I dont really care who makes the good argument, I especially like harsh critics. I also find that answering stupid arguments can lead to improvements. this is my experience.

      Robert and I were supposed to get together around the holidays. That didnt work. So, I’ll give him a call and try to get over to berkeley this week or next.

      To the questions you ask

      (1) Whether it has been updated significantly to take account of feedback.
      Not to my knowledge
      (2) Whether it has been officially peer-reviewed .
      That is in process, the have reviews back
      (3) Whether the results and techniques are completely open
      Not yet.. but we need to define OPEN
      (4) Whether use of the BEST studies is still verboten for 3rd parties because of “bugs” and features
      I wouldnt use it quite yet, be more specific

      • What exactly is BEST supposed to settle anyway? The surface station controversy, like most small pieces of this puzzle, isn’t that important a link. It (like the hockey stick and several other pieces) is a red herring for political activists to wave. One way or the other, it’s not a very persuasive “multiple line of evidence”. None of these things are, even taken together.

      • Thanks Steven.

        On usage by 3rd parties (point 4), the BEST team originally warned:
        “This release is not recommended for third party research use as the known bugs may lead to erroneous conclusions due to incomplete understanding of the data set’s current limitations.”

        On a thread here you wrote in response
        http://judithcurry.com/2011/11/12/peer-review-is-fed-up/#more-5816
        (November 13, 2011 at 12:43 am)
        [What they are saying is] “if you are going to use this data to do your own independent work, then stop. you better wait for verion 2. IF you want to check our work, then this is the data we used in our work.”

        Is this still true in your opinion?

        And by ‘open’ (point 3) , I guess I meant that the methodology is transparent enough to rigorously and constructively critique the results they have published. Can you or anyone actually check their work?

        My general question is how useful has it been putting BEST on the net? Dr. Curry thought it a good idea, and many others (inc myself) agreed, but after the initial hoopla a deafening silence descended. So how useful was it, and if the answer is ‘not very’, why so?

      • steven mosher

        PE:

        “What exactly is BEST supposed to settle anyway? The surface station controversy, like most small pieces of this puzzle, isn’t that important a link. It (like the hockey stick and several other pieces) is a red herring for political activists to wave. One way or the other, it’s not a very persuasive “multiple line of evidence”. None of these things are, even taken together.”

        There was and is set of lingering concerns about the surface station controversy. Some of this has to do with the data sources, some has to do with the methods. Broadly speaking the issue was the independence of the results. CRU,GISS and NCDC are not really independently sourced. You basically have different methods on the same data, which give you a glimpse of the structural uncertainty. I can get into all the little arguments that BEST was supposed to settle. but thats a whole long post

      • Mosher, my point had more to do with the big picture. Does the theory of AGW hang on the surface temp measurements? Not really. Does it hang on the hockey stick? Not really. If BEST is able to finally settle all these little brush fires, the war will still remain. They’ll just switch to sea level or ice, or ocean heat, or…

      • steven mosher

        cui bono

        “Is this still true in your opinion?

        And by ‘open’ (point 3) , I guess I meant that the methodology is transparent enough to rigorously and constructively critique the results they have published. Can you or anyone actually check their work?

        My general question is how useful has it been putting BEST on the net? Dr. Curry thought it a good idea, and many others (inc myself) agreed, but after the initial hoopla a deafening silence descended. So how useful was it, and if the answer is ‘not very’, why so?

        #################################

        It is still my opinion that the BEST data is not ready for use by third parties, except small bits like the station list. But my standards are really really high. I want total transparency and reproduceablity. Speaking with Robert I know this is his goal too, but I will tell you that all station databases are a huge task to organize in a way that makes everybody happy. I will know more when I get some time to spend with Robert and the team. Hopefully if I have time to help I will,

        Can their work be checked. I believe they have published the Matlab.
        I will need to learn that language and then I can answer your question. I would perfer R, and so I would decline to answer this question until I have personal experience with it. Matlab gurus are free to weigh in. Again, this is a better situation that struggling to get code in the first place. Lets say its checkable in principle. When I am able to check it in person, then I can answer in a way that avoids speculation and supposition. So, checkable in principle ( code is there ) checkable in practice? I need to make time and do work before I say anything.

        How useful was putting BEST on the net?

        They did not optimize their effort. If you like I can elaborate, but to do so I am drawn into criticizing the good faith efforts of people I respect. As long as that criticism is seen for what it is — a constructive set of recommendations for future efforts– I have no problem describing how Steve would have done things differently to maximize the usefullness to others. Their goal was to publish papers And make the process open.
        Switch those priorities around. focus on making it open and useful first and foremost.

        that changes the language you use
        that changes what you publish first
        the first order of business, in my world, would have been the publication of a new database. Open, traceable, using open source tools, complete with a citizen effort at checking and verifying.

        Hard to get money for that boring project.

      • Thanks for a very full reply Steven.

      • “Hard to get money for that boring project”

        I guess it comes down to value for money. The people who have a clue seem to realize that the work Hansen, Jones and others have done is competent and that throwing more money at the subject is unlikely to yield bang for buck.

        It’s mainly only a cadre of diehard clueless bloggers that claim gistemp and hadcrut are questionable (even as they use hadcrut for their “cycles” and “no warming since” posts without caveat)

        I mean if I had to decide what to fund, could I justify spending it towards yet another surface record just to appease such people who probably would rather hold on to their conspiracy theories than be proved wrong?

        In my opinion Muller only undertook BEST because he was effectively “tricked” into doing so by falling for certain conspiracy arguments made against GISTEMP, etc.

      • PE
        “Mosher, my point had more to do with the big picture. Does the theory of AGW hang on the surface temp measurements? Not really. Does it hang on the hockey stick? Not really. If BEST is able to finally settle all these little brush fires, the war will still remain. They’ll just switch to sea level or ice, or ocean heat, or…”

        we agree. AGW as a theory doesnt hang on the temperature record or the HS. If I was asked to justify the concern ( my concern) with these two issues it would come down to eliminating the possibilty of error cascade starting in those regions of the evidence. I expect to find small mistakes. I expect normal science to fix those errors. I dont expect those errors to propogate and undo the whole of radiative physics. Aint gunna happen.
        I take a modicum of comfort in the fact that I have proved this to my own satisfaction.

        And yes they will just switch to another topic. The best approach is to welcome and encourage the citizen investigation of these areas that we know are solid. Thats kinda ben my argument. dont hide the data, dont hide the code, invite skeptics to do co authored papers on these areas.
        In my world, Mann would invite Mcintyre to work together. Steig would co author with odonnell. etc.

        I think you would be surprised at the result. The bottom line is arguing and fighting on blogs hasnt worked. gatekeeping at journals hasnt worked.
        Some brave soul will try a different path. Then we can judge.

      • lolwot

        That is not what Muller said, when he explained his motivation to me.
        I take him at his word

      • Thank you Mr. Mosher for that explosion of rationality. More and more I have come to agree with your approach of logical positivism as a way out of our tribalist dilemma.

        Although a big downside is diminished respect for social sciences and qualitative analysis (which IMO are essential to full understanding), it would seem that rejection of the unintelligible and acceptance of the undeniable regardless of the source will set the proper boundaries for Climate questions and answers.

        Hope I haven’t extended your points too far.

        bi2hs

  13. I posted the following on this topic at klimazwiebel:

    Any civilized discussion needs a consensus of shared values, but physical science (to be fundamentally distinguished from sociology) needs to be continually focused upon the physical facts, not theory which too easily slides into unsupported or even wrong speculation. The idea of “theory” is just that of nascent, or hopeful, dogma, and the idea of “established theory”, just unquestioned dogma. If it is true to the physical reality, the facts, all well and good; otherwise, as we see in climate science (and across the board in science, especially in the earth and life sciences), it becomes actual tyranny, a false consensus of opinion, rather than a consensus of knowledge (real understanding).

    • Is the above message based on facts or does it present theory in the pejorative sense used in the message?

      I don’t think that wide agreement will be reached on the answer to my question. Most climate change skeptics may accept the message as based on facts, the other side of the discussion certainly not.

  14. For better or worse we have crossed over that invisible line in the West from the Age of Abstract Values, by which worth is measured, to the Age of Concrete Regulation, by which actions are measured, e.g.:

    “If we do not frame Occidental rationalism from the conceptual perspective of purposive rationality and mastery of the world, if instead we take as our point of departure the rationalisation of worldviews that results in a decentred understanding of the world, then we have to face the question, whether there is not a formal stock of universal structures of consciousness expressed in the cultural value spheres that develop, according to their own logics, under the abstract standards of truth, normative rightness and authenticity. Are, or are not, the structures of scientific thought, post-traditional moral and legal representations, and autonomous art, as they have developed within the framework of Western culture, the possession of that ‘community of civilised men’ that is present as a regulative idea?” (Habermas)

  15. If we read sociology in the tradition of Robert Merton (who has been dead for a decade) we see that Judith Curry says pretty much mostly what her audience expects – no more, no less – and that this is a cultural bias just as sure as any institution of science.

    Climate science has its experts but she is now a denialist expert. YOUR expert, as opposed to THEIR expert. ;-)

    Not much difference, from the perspective of the sociological study of cultural bias. Robert K. Merton can help with these necessary insights.

    For current work in the tradition of Merton, there is Bruno Latour, Sheila Jasanof (Nature), Emily Potter or Candice Oster — among many others.

    Mike Hulme’s book is heavily influenced by an understanding of these sociological perspectives.

    So was the previously discussed work of McCright, whose cultural examination of 10 years of Gallup polls showed that conservative American males have been heavy on ideology and light on knowledge, in their response to climate change.

    I agree, these sociological perspectives help us to question both societal structures and our own subjective view of the world. :-)

    • Martha

      Personally I come to this site because it allows the unfettered exchange of information with other people. The exchanges are uncensored and very fast. At other sites this is not true. Real Climate and Skeptical Science both moderate comments and exclude those they disagree with very frequently. I find in interesting to exchange ideas with opinions that differ from mine as is can lead to a change in my perspective if I get additional information. I have not read anything from anyone with your views that would lead me to think it makes sense for the US to take many of the actions proposed to reduce CO2 emissions. I don’t really care what Judith thinks of believes, but I am interested in the reasons or data to support those views.

      • Hi, Rob,
        Well, fair enough. However, a post about sociology is going to raise questions about what, besides ‘facts’, is at play in these “exchanges”, as you put it ( including e.g. differing visions of the future, and what is ethical.) because that’s precisely what sociology does. :-)

      • Martha

        Do you still think that it is necessary for people in developed countries such as the US to be forced to provide funds to people in less developed countries because of AGW?

    • Martha dear, you are going to need another hanky after your last list of blow-hard. Feeling better now?

    • steven mosher

      I dunno, this libertarian american male responded to climate change with the following ideology.

      1. Science claims advertised in papers should be backed up by making
      code and data freely availble to the public that funded the science.
      2. Independent checking of science claims is a good thing.
      3. Scientists, like others, should follow the law, especially laws like FOIA designed to protect the public’s right to know

      What I found was that the science I was able to check ( when people gave their code and data ) was generally correct. On the other hand, I found that individual scientists and some institutions acted as if they were above the law. I found that people with political ideologies different from mine, did not mind the lawless behavior of some scientists. I found that they defended a power structure that acts in their ideological favor. I found that they engaged in motive hunting with regards to others but never with regard to themselves.

      • Steve
        What is it about a warmer world that you think might be the most harmful to humanity overall over the long term? I get the idea in reading some comments that you are most concerned about potential sea level rise, but I may be wrong on that.

      • May I also add that what Steven, has written about those involved in the CAGW sciences, has been observed as well, and it’s been repeatable. Sad to say. But they are the facts as I read them.

      • For once, FWIW, I completely agree. My experience exactly.
        Why, ‘if the science is settled©’ do they behave as they do?

      • steven mosher

        Rob,

        I would have to hunt around for the reference, but I recall that the largest damage mechanism is from rising sea level. Back of the envelop it stands to reason since a large proportion of humanity lives in coastal areas.
        However, since I havent studied it in depth I’m open to being educated.

      • Hansen’s latest claims a sea level rise rate of 3 mm/yr. It’s going to be a while before Manhattan is under water at that rate.

      • Hansen’s latest insanitary claim is that AnthroCO2 will prevent the next glaciation. Gad, I hope he’s right.
        ===================

      • Hey Jimbo, clickety-clack clickety-clack, see the Life Trains pass before your eyes, quickening gack, quickening gack.
        =============

    • Martha,
      Calling our host a “Denialist expert” leaves you with nothing but a bigot’s screech. You call her that simply because in your shallow reactionary clinging ignorance you cannot imagine an academic differing from your pretentious politically correct orthodox.
      Not that this is a new development, but it is nice for you to make clear why no one who actually thinks about stuff looks at you with anything approaching respect or support.

      • Heh, ‘reactionary’; I luv it, me Nirvo. First as tragedy, then as farce.
        ============

      • “You call her that simply because in your shallow reactionary clinging ignorance you cannot imagine an academic differing from your pretentious politically correct orthodox”

        What I said refers to what you and others have created, rather than a role she has created for herself. It’s about the social construction of knowledge. It reflects the sociology of Robert Merton, which is a main topic of the post we are discussing.

        I’m critical of prevailing political correctness and orthodoxy; and academics often disagree with me. Somehow, I not only imagine this but live with it. ;-)

      • Martha,
        Broadening your target of reactionary ignorance does not make you less ignorant or reactionary. You do not see what is in front of you; you are too blinded by your bigotry.

  16. Ravitz wrote: “That critic, Steve McIntyre, claimed on his blog simply to be applying the standards of the business world to climate data.”

    In my opinion, Steve McIntyre is applying mathematics (i.e. statistics) to the climate data. Maybe this is the standard of the “business world”, but the scientists (climate scientists) have a different way of processing data (a “new” mathematic)…. maybe. But I suspect Ravetz doesn’t understand neither business nor science.

    • Jacob

      Not all “climate scientists” are alike, but some of them seem to be following practices that do not follow principles that are founded and proven in engineering. Please look at the development and use of the models (GCMs) used to form many of the conclusions. See if you can determine what these models are designed to be able to predict within what margin of error.

      • “See if you can determine what these models are designed to be able to predict within what margin of error”

        They aren’t designed to predict anything in particular. They are designed to show what emerges when you plug all the knowns together.

      • lolwot said, “They aren’t designed to predict anything in particular. They are designed to show what emerges when you plug all the knowns together.”

        Finally, case closed, we can move on to the NFL playoffs! How about that Tebow?

      • lolwot-

        How do you decide if the model is meeting its design specification? Do you have any experience in model development and use? Have you read that the same model will provide different results depending on the number of times it is run? Have you looked at the output of the current models, and then read the analysis of those model runs? It is difficult to have a meaningful exchange if you don’t know the basics.

    • steven mosher

      The standards Jerry is talking about is the disclosure of adverse results.
      Mc has referred to this many times and it was a focus of his at Lisbon
      where he and Jerry met.

      You dont understand Steve or Jerry. Take a backseat, read and study.
      Then comment

      • Steve McIntyre

        My impression is that Ravetz has placed me into a “frame” of his own making and that he hasn’t actually read much, if anything, that I’ve written. Nor, to my recollection, did I spend any time with him in Lisbon.

        Nor do I recall describing what I do at Climate Audit as applying methods of the business world to climate data. It’s not a form of expression that I recognize. Obviously my approach is influenced by experience in business, and, in particular, in the speculative mining business, but I wouldnt say that Climate Audit “applies” business techniques. Other than, perhaps, not believing everything that appears in print. Or, for that matter, assuming that it’s wrong either.

        ,

      • So “disclosure of adverse results” is a business practice that is not used in science ?

      • Steve, I think the key point is that you’re applying the standards of business to climate science. That part is seriously rocking the boat.

      • More like applying the standards of science to climate science. Not to mention the standards of decency, integrity and curiosity.
        ===============

      • steven mosher

        Steve in your opening discussion at Lisbon you talked about disclosing adverse results and used an example from business ( I dont recall which)
        I would think he used those few comments to frame your concerns.
        .

      • The question, moshe, is does J. misunderestimate or misoverestimate the meaning of ‘business’.
        =========

      • Steve McIntyre,
        Mosh appears to be correct. Ravetz is conflating your comparison of the standards of securities disclosure to Climate Science® to standards of the business world.

        I think it is all summed up in this early post,

        http://climateaudit.org/2005/06/28/full-true-and-plain-disclsoure-and-falsification/

        and as we have watched through the years, it only appears worse for the practitioners of Climate Science®

      • Im not sure Kim
        Steve Mc defies simple description

        So, I cut Ravetz some slack.

        Judiths “watchdog” is similarly “wrong”
        auditor is wrong

        Being unique leads to this.

    • He may simply be referring to the concept of “auditing,” which is a business practice. In science it is akin to replication.

      • What Steve McIntyre does is checking the math in team papers.
        A really “unique” thing…
        Nobody did it before. No scientists ever though about it… it takes business standards.

  17. Dry as the desert.

  18. Judith Curry

    The challenge is to extract signal from the noise.

    Yep (but it’s there).

    Max

  19. Theo Goodwin

    Hijackers who are energetic can send just about any post into the ditch. The only way to have “fair opportunities for discussion” is to prevent hijacking. The only way to prevent hijacking is to warn hijackers and to ban those hijackers who persist after being warned. WUWT is an excellent example of a blog that is very good at warning and banning hijackers while permitting posts from relatively harmless trolls.

    • Theo -

      Isn’t it true that WUWT has its own defence against the dark arts of hijacking, by not being nested? It has a powerful dampening effect on discussion as well as diversion – outrageous hijacks tend to elicit a couple of replies and then get lost in the linearity of the comments.

      Here, on the other hand, the nesting positively encourages sideways threads and discourse heading down byways and cul-de-sacs. I think it cuts both ways, but I agree that the lightest of moderating hands could have a great impact. I simply don’t think Judith is interested – or has the time – although it might be worth offering some moderating time yourself if you’re interested. You’re welcome to my vote [in return for moderating Robert down to one trollish comment a day ;) ]

      I agree that hijacking is a pain, but isn’t it possible (with some self-discipline) to seek out and hold useful discussion despite the distractions? When I put the effort in, I tend to find what I’m looking for here, and if you like, I find out what I’m looking for by what I get.

      • Anteros, yesterday’s China vs EU thread led to a lengthy discussion of peak oil, plus people posting energy blog sites, both off topic. Do you propose that this sort of thing should be blocked? I favor natural discussion, where at single word can trigger a new thread.

      • David -
        I agree, which is what I meant by ‘it cuts both ways’, and why I’d favour moderation ‘with a very light hand’ – even lighter than at CA where almost all threads are technical.
        I do like the branching and heading off into mutually interesting areas. I suppose I’m going to disagree with someone who says the difference between hijacking and an interesting branch in the discussion is a matter of perspective. I don’t think it is – any half decent moderator could judiciously separate the interesting from the tediously (and repetitively) obnoxious or irrelevant. Judith used to snip many of Oliver’s and Joe Lalonde’s comments, but stopped (I think) because they don’t actually do any harm.

        I think on a personal note I favour some moderation for excessive snark and abuse, just because I don’t enjoy it when I get sucked in myself, but I accept that that’s my problem.

      • No enjoyment? Well, lie back and think of the Queen.
        ===========

      • Anteros, yesterday’s China vs EU thread led to a lengthy discussion of peak oil, plus people posting energy blog sites, both off topic.

        Didn’t you even read the top-level post? At the end she asked a question: ” Note, I am looking around for good energy blogs.”
        So people responded.

        Note to Wojick: This is not your blog.

      • Gee Web, I was defending your tangents.

  20. I haven’t read the previous 100+ comments (who’s got the time, or the … interest? Kudos, Dr Curry!) but my feeling would be summed up in comments by the Mosh (Steven Mosher, who intervenes above, for those who’ve been fortunate enough to avoid confrontation!) … (paraphrasing freely) this is the Interwebs (whatever) – it’s robust. Live with it! Courtesy? Bah! Civility? Don’t expect tea-time at Grandma’s.

  21. Steve McIntyre

    “Full, true and plain disclosure” an obligation under securities legislation when dealing with the public. It includes disclosure of adverse results. Obviously businesses do not always comply but it is nonetheless a legal obligation and offers a form of action in case of offences. In transactions with sophisticated investors, the requirements are not as strict.

    In a discussion of disclsoure in 2010, Pielke Jr said that disclosure of adverse result was not mandatory in academic publications (it was merely “fudging”).

    This is a large and important topic, but, despite Steve Mosher’s comment, I am very dubious that Ravetz had anything remotely like this in mind in his article.

    • I have no idea what Ravetz had in mind but this is your standard business practice analog.

      • steven mosher

        Ya my sense is that he trying to frame various roles and perspectives for extended peer review. Its a narrow view of Steve’s approach to say that it is all about full and plain disclosure or about disclosing adverse results, but the generic description “checking the math” doesnt do justice to it either. Ravetz, one could argue, literalizes some of the metaphors or analogs we have used in talking about steve’s work. We analogize it as being a “watchdog” or auditor and ravetz literalizes those roles.

        That is not necessarily a mistake.

      • If the conversation between Ravetz and McIntyre did not exist, we would have to invent it.
        =============

      • steven mosher

        Kim my discussions with Jerry were all big framing discussions. almost no detail of particular science issues. More about how PNS was being misunderstood. And philosophy of course, friends we may have shared in common, particular authors. Some interest in why climate skepticism was a “right wing” movement in the US, how could we be so anti authoritarian… interesting how they thought it should be a left wing movement.

      • Good luck with that…

      • Populist creativity is a border province, a buffer state; big wheel keep on turning.
        ================

    • randomengineer

      In a discussion of disclsoure in 2010, Pielke Jr said that disclosure of adverse result was not mandatory in academic publications (it was merely “fudging”).

      How is this even possible? If a theory doesn’t cover ALL of the data, it’s not a very good theory.

      • random,
        Pielke, jr. is referring to something that should make us pause and wonder at how much bs we are funding in academia.

  22. I wonder how a sociologists would interpret this blog comment that was elevated to a post. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/09/strange-new-attractors-strong-evidence-against-both-positive-feedback-and-catastrophe/#comment-859091

    I happen to agree with the good Dr. (PHd)

  23. “Martha, Do you still think that it is necessary for people in developed countries such as the US to be forced to provide funds to people in less developed countries because of AGW”

    Rob,
    I wonder why the question isn’t more along the lines of whether this kind of obligation will help solve the problem. Anyway, while it’s less than ideal, only a part of any initial and overall strategy, and I view it as ‘being responsible’ and assisting people rather than “being forced” – yes. Yes, I still think this.

    Your thoughts, these days?

    • randomengineer

      Your thoughts, these days?

      I realize you didn’t ask me specifically, but the take-it-to-the-bank practical answer is “hell will freeze over first.”

      • There are current funding pledges, but the issue is the policy to back it up. I wonder if you would be surprised to learn how much foreign aid is already being provided. The question is really one of going beyond existing aid, when governments are already feeling constrained by the global financial crisis; rather than whether or not aid is and will continue to be provided (it is, it will).

        Apparently, without hell freezing over. ;-)

      • randomengineer

        Martha

        While there are obvious cases of humnitarian aid foreign aid is a policy mechanism designed for a long term strategic view where “long term” and “strategic” are contextually limited to US business and security interests.

        I always enjoyed the accusation of Iraq war being a war for oil. That’s because it was, although not really in the vein said accusors are wont to think. The US derives some oil from the middle east but not enough for middle eastern stability to be of vital self-interest. Rather, it’s US trading partners (e.g. NATO countries) who buy that oil therefore the indirect benefit of middle eastern stability is a more stable europe.

        And so on.

        The notion that climate thinking has bearing on foreign aid is daft.

      • Random

        I think you will find that Japan and China rely upon the oil coming from the middle east even more than the EU.

    • Rob –

      “Martha, Do you still think that it is necessary for people in developed countries such as the US to be forced to provide funds to people in less developed countries because of AGW”

      Have you considered the possibility that not everyone needs to be “forced” in order to agree to such action.

      As a related example, Americans have for decades decided that they prefer to collectively pay for healthcare for poor children rather than send a parent with a sick child back onto the street to fend for themselves. Individual Americans might view that as being “forced” to pay for other people’s healthcare, but the fact of the matter is that they have every right in the world to go to a country that doesn’t implement such policies (Somalia stands out as a particularly good example) – so they are not being forced.

    • Martha

      I would tend to believe that the idea of getting funds from developed countries is not just a part of the overall strategy, but is an essential part of the overall strategy. You wrote a question as to whether it will help solve the overall problem. I would dispute that there is any reliable evidence that there is an “overall problem” for the US or the world overall over the long term.

      I do not see any “responsibility” for currently developed nations to provide funds to less developed nations. From what I am able to determine, virtually all the potential harms that might be caused due to the world becoming warmer can be adapted to by the construction of proper infrastructure. The reasons that this has not been one in less developed countries is cultural and not because of other nations. I do not see the justification for 18 year olds in the US to be forced to pay higher taxes to pay for something in Pakistan (for example). If individuals wish to donate to that cause, I think that is their right, but not a government forced obligation.

      • Rob -

        I do not see the justification for 18 year olds in the US to be forced to pay higher taxes to pay for something in Pakistan (for example). If individuals wish to donate to that cause, I think that is their right, but not a government forced obligation.

        First – the justification is that those are policies that are implemented by an elected body of representatives. Disagreeing with the policies (some where I disagreement would overlap) doesn’t not mean that the policies aren’t justified.

        Second – it isn’t a forced obligation. You have every right to opt out of the system.

      • Joshua

        My understanding is that the UN proposed that developed countries be obligated to provide funding. Is that not the case? Are you suggesting that funding would only be provided via donations?

      • Rob -

        My understanding is that the UN proposed that developed countries be obligated to provide funding. Is that not the case? Are you suggesting that funding would only be provided via donations?

        There’s the question of the likelihood of such a proposal being adopted – and more to the point, whether it would be adopted given the requirement of developed countries being signatories.

        This is similar to the argument of folks who object to their taxes going to pay for the healthcare of children born into poverty. No one is “forced” to pay those taxes. Anyone who objects is free to move to a country where no such requirements exist. No one will stop them.

      • Joshua

        And a more realistic approach is to try to avoid getting the proposed expense approved if it does not make sense to the welfare of the citizens. It appears I was mistaken in the belief that your were actually wanting a meaningful discussion on the merit of such a proposed tax.

      • Rob -

        And a more realistic approach is to try to avoid getting the proposed expense approved if it does not make sense to the welfare of the citizens. It appears I was mistaken in the belief that your were actually wanting a meaningful discussion on the merit of such a proposed tax./blockquote>

        It’s not an either/or. Part of the path towards a meaningful discussion is to extract partisan (and false) rhetoric about what it means to be “forced” to do something.

        I’m all for discussing the merits of such an idea. I think that there are reasonable arguments on both sides of the issue. But in balance, my perspective is that I’d like to see those countries that generally can absorb potential negative impacts from climate change, and that in theory would disproportionately contribute to the existence of those negative impacts, agree to help countries whose populations are less well-equipped to absorb the negative impacts.

        If it could be established without question that such an effort would lead in the long run to greater suffering among a larger number of people, I certainly wouldn’t be in support.

        If you can find your way from there to engage in a reasonable discussion – without pearl-clutching about people being “forced” to do things that they won’t be “forced” to do (either theoretically or practically) – I’d be interested.

      • Joshua
        In my opinion, it appears that what you are striving for is a one world government where resources are allocated for the betterment of the overall world population. While this may seem to be a reasonable goal, Imo it is not logical to try to make government policy based upon how you wish the world should be. The planet is governed by 200 different nation states with very diverse goal. Government policy should be based upon that reality.

      • Rob -

        In my opinion, it appears that what you are striving for is a one world government where resources are allocated for the betterment of the overall world population.

        Actually, that’s not what I’m striving for.

        What I’m saying is that it isn’t accurate to assume that countries whose governments consider disproportionate contributions to global problems, and the disproportionate abilities of countries to deal with the impacts of those problems, are being “forced” to make that consideration.

        Discussion about the cost and benefits of various responses to those considerations are entirely reasonable, IMO.

      • Joshua

        Perhaps you could point out a country where the situation justifies the US taxpayer paying more so that they can receive funds? If I am understanding your perspective, it would seem to be the same as a cost benefit analysis for any foreign aid.

      • Rob -

        Perhaps you could point out a country where the situation justifies the US taxpayer paying more so that they can receive funds? If I am understanding your perspective, it would seem to be the same as a cost benefit analysis for any foreign aid.

        No – unless you consider the U.S. as disproportionately creating conditions that require other countries to need aid – and put that into your reasoning. That doesn’t seem to me to be part of the calculus that the U.S., let alone other countries that contribute greater % of GDP to foreign aid that we do – perform to justify policies of giving foreign aid. Foreign aid is given for a variety of reasons: moral considerations, political reasons, and perhaps self-serving interest in improving conditions in other countries, but to my knowledge a view that the aid-givers have created the conditions necessitating aid is not part of the rationale except in very particular situations where reparations are given.

  24. A followup from Armed and Dangerous on junk science clues;

    http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=3974

    8 for 8 regarding AGW.

    • cwon14,
      The list you post that link to is fascinating:
      Science by press release. It’s never, ever a good sign when ‘scientists’ announce dramatic results before publishing in a peer-reviewed journal. When this happens, we generally find out later that they were either self-deluded or functioning as political animals rather than scientists. This generalizes a bit; one should also be suspicious of, for example, science first broadcast by congressional testimony or talk-show circuit.

      Rhetoric that mixes science with the tropes of eschatological panic. When the argument for theory X slides from “theory X is supported by evidence” to “a terrible catastrophe looms over us if theory X is true, therefore we cannot risk disbelieving it”, you can be pretty sure that X is junk science. Consciously or unconsciously, advocates who say these sorts of things are trying to panic the herd into stampeding rather than focusing on the quality of the evidence for theory X.

      Rhetoric that mixes science with the tropes of moral panic. When the argument for theory X slides from “theory X is supported by evidence” to “only bad/sinful/uncaring people disbelieve theory X”, you can be even more sure that theory X is junk science. Consciously or unconsciously, advocates who say these sorts of things are trying to induce a state of preference falsification in which people are peer-pressured to publicly affirm a belief in theory X in spite of private doubts.

      Consignment of failed predictions to the memory hole. It’s a sign of sound science when advocates for theory X publicly acknowledge failed predictions and explain why they think they can now make better ones. Conversely, it’s a sign of junk science when they try to bury failed predictions and deny they ever made them.

      Over-reliance on computer models replete with bugger factors that aren’t causally justified.. No, this is not unique to climatology; you see it a lot in epidemiology and economics, just to name two fields that start with ‘e’. The key point here is that simply fitting historical data is not causal justification; there are lots of ways to dishonestly make that happen, or honestly fool yourself about it. If you don’t have a generative account of why your formulas and coupling constants look the way they do (a generative account which itself makes falsifiable predictions), you’re not doing science – you’re doing numerology.

      If a ‘scientific’ theory seems tailor-made for the needs of politicians or advocacy organizations, it probably has been. Real scientific results have a cross-grained tendency not to fit transient political categories. Accordingly, if you think theory X stinks of political construction, you’re probably right. This is one of the simplest but most difficult lessons in junk-science spotting! The most difficult case is recognizing that this is happening even when you agree with the cause.

      Past purveyers of junk science do not change their spots. One of the earliest indicators in many outbreaks of junk science is enthusiastic endorsements by people and advocacy organizations associated with past outbreaks. This one is particularly useful in spotting environmental junk science, because unreliable environmental-advocacy organizations tend to have long public pedigrees including frequent episodes of apocalyptic yelling. It is pardonable to be taken in by this the first time, but foolish by the fourth and fifth.

      Refusal to make primary data sets available for inspection. When people doing sound science are challenged to produce the observational and experimental data their theories are supposed to be based on, they do it. (There are a couple of principled exceptions here; particle physicists can’t save the unreduced data from particle collisions, there are too many terabytes per second of it.) It is a strong sign of junk science when a ‘scientist’ claims to have retained raw data sets but refuses to release them to critics.

      • Thanks Hunter, it’s interesting Dr. Curry would select a post from Armed and Dangerous and then ignore and minimize the bulk of the broad messaging involved. It’s a pretty crushing list and the “Error Cascade” had so much more to say and comment on as well.

        The other thing about this and the next thread is the huge investment the Gaianists, Green Shirts and Zombies make when an abstract about subjective turf comes up. In this case “quality”. There is simply no limit to the pompous foaming at the mouth to claim the tactical but crazy to assume high ground and authority of claiming they are correct, more knowledgeable or here dominating “quality” and they all agree in a private room (consensus) as to this utility. It’s like being tied to the chair in a “Clockwork Orange” or being forced to watch MSNBC, I can’t say which would be the worst of the two. It’s just part of the cultural left and AGW debate and this site smells of it all the time. Joshua and Martha (among others of the cult) just jumped the shark on these recent threads.

        It’s always ironic for the side that mumbles under its breath 24/7 “it’s about science” when very clearly it’s about emotions, collectivist bonding (day dreaming) and group think at the most raw levels. “The Cause”……………etc. etc.

        You can also think of the rabid hatred expressed toward religion under the cover of “intelligent design”debates, the certainty of Darwinism as a confirmation of atheism and Marxist goals, the belief in peer (leftist)expert authority, superior intellect in the self-selected ideological grouping of any kind etc. All this and Dr. Curry refuses to identify and characterize a single group other than “skeptics” and the “consensus” in the most vague terms.

  25. This just in. If economists can embrace public disclosure, then perhaps scientists intent on influencing public policy can do so also. I, for one, would like to see who “voted” in that famous 2500-person “consensus”. :-)

    Casselman, Ben. 2012. “Academic Economists Set Rules on Disclosure – WSJ.com.” Wall Street Journal, January 9, Home edition, sec. Education. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203436904577148940410667970.html?KEYWORDS=economist+ethics

    “A leading group of academic economists has adopted conflict-of-interest rules in response to criticism that the profession not only failed to predict the 2007-2008 financial crisis but may actually have helped create it.

    “The new policy stops well short of the broader ethical guidelines demanded by some in the field.

    “Many economists serve as consultants to companies, governments and other groups outside of their formal academic work. Critics both inside and outside the profession have argued those relationships—often lucrative and sometimes undisclosed—may have influenced economists’ work, leading them first to miss signs of the impending crisis and then to recommend policy prescriptions that served their clients’ interests, at the expense of the economy as a whole.”

    • Dixie Pooh, if we want to expand the topic to another clear field of junk pseudoscience in their own hearts Keynesian economic fits the bill. You can bet dollars to donuts the usual AGW orthodox crowd will all lineup with the Keynesian orthodox, disassociate all failures of that policy in relation to global imbalances and credit excess that reared their ugly head most notably since 2008 and in the EU welfare state failure which in progress as we speak.

      In itself, disclosure rules can help but it’s a far cry from reforming partisan enclaves found in economics or climate science. It wasn’t “relationships” that make most economists predictions useless. It’s that the Keynesian model is statist and authoritarian by design and most economists tow the line. Yes, very much like the Climate consensus.

      • <blockquote.It’s that the Keynesian model is statist and authoritarian by design and most economists tow the line. </blockquote.

        I certainly hope that line ain't too heavy, otherwise towing it could be very tiring. Do they use tow trucks?

      • Spoken like a true zombie Joshua.

      • I’m tellin’ ya, there’s a cure for our energy needs in harnessing the true believers. The torque is immediate, and never-ending. Perpetuum mobile.
        =========

      • How is your online gambling project going, josh? Have you got some mediators lined up yet?

  26. Rob and Joshua, I am finding your discussion, above, extremely interesting. I appreciate that you are both articulating your reasoning, and remaining open to one another.
    “200 different nation states with very diverse goal. Government policy should be based upon that reality” Rob S

    So now I have a question for Rob.. It is 15 or 20 countries are currently responsible for around 3/4 of emissions. Efforts to share responsibility and provide aid and to cut emissions are global, as a result of this social reality. My view is that given this global social reality, countries are trying to cooperate and need to cooperate, in relation to both responsibility and assistance e.g. emissions cuts, adaptation, new technologies, and that this is evidenced among other things by unilateral and bilateral agreements and continued attendance of these countries at COP sessions.

    Without cooperation, it seems reasonable to think that some countries will have a free ride at the expense of others. Yet, Rob, you don’t seem to see it that way. I’m wondering why resisting cooperation, feels right, to you? Or maybe my question is, why does this not describe the realities of cooperation to you, and instead implies some kind of one-world government agenda?

    Also, the advantages that developed countries have had are not “cultural”, as you suggest: they have to do with who has controlled global monetary infrastructure, such as the World Bank and IMF.

    • Martha
      I believe that you are in error on several points.
      1. I see no reliable evidence of a problem for the US or for the world overall over the long term.
      2. I disagree completely that there is a global effort to cut emissions. There is some effort by a small minority of nations, so I see no evidence of the social reality you believe exists. If there was a social reality, wouldn’t there have been verifiable treaties signed as a part of a plan that would combine all of the key issue impacting the issue. (CO2 emissions, size of the country, historical emission levels, population and population control, etc.)
      3. You point on the IMF is simply wrong. It is not the IMF that allowed the US and other developed countries to do things like build proper infrastructure to protect their citizens from bad weather. That was a cultural decision of those countries citizens. As an example of how other countries operate, the IMF has estimated that 90% of funds loaned to India for infrastructure construction goes to graft and not the construction. India is a much older culture than the US. Why has it not built and maintained infrastructure to protect its population? It does not seem to be a US problem to get involved in resolving.
      I would not resist cooperation if there was sufficient evidence to show a problem and if a sufficient percentage of the world’s population were adhering to the same plan. Neither is true today!

      • 1) Pass at this point.
        2) I think this is better viewed as a process. Since almost two hundred countries were present at COP-17 and they approved an extension of Kyoto through 2017 and decided on a new protocol before then to include GHG targets for all countries, I don’t see how you can say that. The framework for this process (UNFCC) is an international environmental treaty.
        3) The IMF and World Bank’s standard policies involve prescribed cutbacks to social and health support in poor countries, and developing economies are expected to compete with major economies (which of course is only possible if they pay the most minimal wages possible to sustain a human being and develop no infrastructure). Wealthy investors benefit, but the public — not so much. Since American government interests and influence signficantly shape IMF agreements ( evidenced among other things by how large the IMF loans are to governments allied with the U.S.) resulting disparities in infrastructure are an aspect of how the IMF operates. It’s a problem. The U.S. is involved in that problem. Is it a “U.S. problem”? Depends on how you look at it, I guess: but I wonder if the resulting infrastructure problems for some developing economies are more tied to to American interests and power and perhaps less to “cultural decision-making” or autonomy, than you think.

      • Rob -

        1. I see no reliable evidence of a problem for the US or for the world overall over the long term.

        It seems to me that is primarily what you’re really saying, and my interest is in enlarging the discussion.

        A hypothetical for you. Say at some point you become convinced that: (1) AGW will create harmful climate change, (2) it just so happens to create more significant harmful climate change in countries that have fewer resources to deal with those changes (this part of the hypothetical could be eliminated from your consideration as I think it is a secondary point), (3) it is clear that the U.S., by virtue of emitting more CO2 per capita and in absolute terms has created a disproportionate amount of the cause of the harmful climate change, (4) representatives of the U.S., appointed by elected officials, sign on to international treaties whereby the U.S. agrees to provide aid to those countries that will be disproportionately affected and that have fewer resources to deal with the problems and have contributed less in absolute and per capita terms to the problem.

        Would you feel that as a taxpayer, you were being “forced” unfairly to contribute to the aid? If so, would you do anything about that other than voice your objection and vote for candidates who would be likely to appoint international representatives that would overturn the signed treaties?

      • It’s only naive left-wing nanny staters of Western European origin, who are even playing at being serious about CO2 mitigation. We have the EU, with their feckless foolishness, we have the Australian government that lied to get elected and then imposed carbon tax, and we have the left-wing loonies in California, with their plan to eviscerate the local economy. The rest of the world is being more pragmatic.

    • Joshua

      If the US government makes any policies, either domestic or foreign; that I disagree with strongly, I would try to see that those responsible for the policies were not reelected.
      If a large enough percentage of the population supported the policies, I would reexamine my position on the policy question. If I thought my position was correct, I would communicate my position and vote for people that agreed.

      I do not believe the US owes anything to developing countries due to prior CO2 emissions because during the times the emissions were made, the result of those emissions led to a net benefit for the world overall and in all probability to those countries specifically.

      Martha
      Kyoto was a deeply flawed treaty and the way the treaty was actually written is evidence of the lack of worldwide commitment to reducing CO2 emissions.

      Playing the hypothetical game- if it was agreed that additional CO2 really was a terrible thing, a worldwide treaty would need to be agreed to that established a worldwide standard for CO2 emissions by country with agreed upon processes for verification. The difficulty in establishing a real treaty is multi-fold.
      It would need to consider per capita emissions, but not reward a countries uncontrolled population growth, and it needs to account for the realities of a demographics, the size of a country its state of development etc. Another major sticking point is reliable verification, since without it the treaty is useless and promotes distrust and conflict. Kyoto failed because it did not accomplish the above.

      Regarding the IMF and the World Bank- think you misunderstand both. There is a limited amount of funds available to provide to developing countries. Again, reality gets in the way of what people would like. In the real world there is only so much something for nothing that can be provided. There comes a time when local cultures need to take responsibility for their own welfare and development. It does not seem like you have travelled to world very much, but I have and grew up living in the Middle East. People around the world do not view things the same way or as people in the EU do.

      • Rob,

        I do not believe the US owes anything to developing countries due to prior CO2 emissions because during the times the emissions were made, the result of those emissions led to a net benefit for the world overall and in all probability to those countries specifically.

        But the benefits to those countries directly responsible for the CO2 emissions have been far greater than the tangential benefits to those not responsible for them, so even if you take the benefits to the latter into account the balance of responsibility would still lie overwhelmingly with the former.

      • Rob -

        Missed this earlier:

        If the US government makes any policies, either domestic or foreign; that I disagree with strongly, I would try to see that those responsible for the policies were not reelected.
        If a large enough percentage of the population supported the policies, I would reexamine my position on the policy question. If I thought my position was correct, I would communicate my position and vote for people that agreed.

        That’s about what I figured. So where does “forced” come into play here?

        My point is that using “forced” obviously implies autocratic fiat, where your rights as a citizen are denied. I think that using such language creates an unnecessary polarization in the discussion – a polarization that becomes extremely difficult to get beyond. As I see it, the implication is that if I support a policy whereby the U.S. – by virtue of higher standards of living and more resources to adapt to climate change; and proportionally greater responsibility for CO2 emissions – contributes direct aid to countries with lower standards of living, fewer resources to adapt, and proportionally less responsibility for emissions, I am thereby supporting “statist,” and autocratic regimes that would deprive you of your rights.

      • Andrew

        I do not understand the logic of your point. Did people in the US benefit more by the emissions that did to people in SW Asia? Yes that is true, but it is also obvious. The people in the US did the work, too the risks and benefitted as a result. What is also true is that people around the world also benefited from the US emissions more than they were harmed. Since they already benefitted more than they were harmed, the US does not “owe” them anything additional.

      • Rob,

        The logic of my point is that up to now the effect of burning fossil fuels has been beneficial but there will be costs to pay in the future as a result. The same countries who have made by far the largest contribution to emissions have also gained by far the most benefit from them, so whichever way you want to slice it they should bear more of the cost.

        I would also point out that just as the third world benefitted to an extent from the industrialisation of the west it is also the case that the west has benefitted from the industrialisation of the third world.

    • randomengineer

      It is 15 or 20 countries are currently responsible for around 3/4 of emissions.

      [Interjecting]

      Martha, that same set of countries are also responsible for 4/5 of the world’s aid to poorer nations as well as the provider of the technologies that allow 4/5 of those countries to lift themselves from poverty. The 4/5 are the beneficiary of a century of western invention ranging from medicines to agricultural implements and disease resistant crops.

      As the 4/5 never contributed to the development of these things and now seem to think it’s OK to shake down the 15/20 for cash, this seems cynical at best. “Hey, we want to benefit from your hard work AND we want you to pay us for it too.”

      Another way of looking at this is that the same 4/5 have had ample opportunity to join the western world and did not. Why? Mostly because of corrupt government. So, what is being advocated here is knowingly handing cash to corrupt governments with an undisputed history of not helping their citizens and expecting that somehow a different result will happen.

      Essentially, besides being bankrupt by definition the practical result isn’t likely to be of much benefit to “the world.”

      When I read what you say it comes across as the same deep well of thought that Miss Universe is likely to intone — “whirled peas.”

      Joshua

      The notion of “if you don’t like it then you’re free to move” is no different than the far right web site commentary where the militant christians pine for a return to a mythical days of yore when men were real men etc and the US is once again a bastion of imagined christian strength and propriety — “America love it or leave it.” [and so on]

      I don’t know how this is much different than the binary Bush “you’re either with us or against us” bit that the left railed about either.

      Obviously this notion needs to be thought through again.

      • random,
        Your perspective is not uncommon.

        Foreign aid assistance is often regarded, as you suggest, as generous and ‘wasted’ on corrupt governments.

        Unfortunately, I see no knowledge, on your part, about how aid has actually provided, or with what conditions – so that we can explore questions of who benefits, and how, in an objective manner (even if we are certain to disagree in our evaluation of these things).

        Both the relatively small amount of aid and the accountability of donor nations should be understood in the context of conditions that deny market access for poor countries, while flooding poor countries with the goods of wealthy countries.

      • R.E. -

        Martha, that same set of countries are also responsible for 4/5 of the world’s aid to poorer nations as well as the provider of the technologies that allow 4/5 of those countries to lift themselves from poverty.

        Assuming that your equation is accurate (you leave out any other possible impacts from developed countries that might contribute negatively to conditions in undeveloped countries other than CO2 emissions – i.e., other negative environmental impacts, geo-political impacts that empower autocratic dictators, etc.), you seem to be assuming some sort of zero sum gain here.

        That 4/5 aid and technological contributions are to some degree (although not completely) independent of impact from disproportionate CO2 emissions. Subtract the CO2 emissions and the aid and non-related technological contributions remain.

        Further, that 4/5 aid and technological contributions are not directly proportional to the level CO2 emissions: The U.S. “contributes” CO2 emissions in greater proportion compared to other developed countries than it contributes to foreign aid – although it might be argued that the ratio of technological contributions to CO2 emissions is proportionally inversed.

        I don’t know how this is much different than the binary Bush “you’re either with us or against us” bit that the left railed about either.

        First – I want to note the difference in your mode of discourse in that statement from that typically found in your comments addressed tome. It suggests an intent of sharing viewpoints rather than an intent of characterizing me as an evil distracter from the noble goal of protecting the world from AGW conspirators.

        To the point of your comment: The similarities are not lost on me. But there are differences of significance: I’m not saying that people shouldn’t voice objections — with the implication that doing so is somehow not “patriotic” as is the point of the “love it or leave it” meme. “Love it or leave it” is a command. I’m not making a comment let alone offering a binary set of choices. My point is focused on the accuracy of the assertion that American citizens are “forced” to contribute to foreign aid: I’m not saying that you have to “love” it (or leave it). You can be against foreign aid and still be “with us” by accepting that by living in a democratic country you are agreeing to accept the good with what you see as the bad. I don’t want anyone to “leave” the country because they object to foreign aid, I’m noting that leaving is an option available – thereby contradicting the statement of being “forced.”

      • Sorry – obviously that first paragraph was a quote from you not a statement directed to Martha.

      • randomengineer

        Unfortunately, I see no knowledge, on your part, about how aid has actually provided, or with what conditions – so that we can explore questions of who benefits, and how, in an objective manner (even if we are certain to disagree in our evaluation of these things).

        I can see that. However, note that neither of us really “knows” much at all given a lack of reliable numbers. What I am going on here is the mile high viewpoint of looking at the overall results and making a sweeping and general assessment. (i.e. did some poor benefit from aid? Of course.) I think part of the problem (the problem that people like me have regarding the perception of viability of handing out cash) is rooted specifically in not having hard cold numbers and exacerbated by the obvious governmental failures. The 3rd world is the 3rd world and has been so despite efforts at aid, therefore, this is likely to continue.

        I’m thinking Haiti here as my poster child. Lots of US federal aid, lots of christian (and other private) funding and rebuilding, etc. Yet the anticipated result (one that could range from rainbows and strong and viable Haiti to the 3rd world hellhole it currently is) says that despite helping until numbers of needy people, the long term result vector points more to 3rd world hellhole than not. This isn’t due to a lack of trying, but a longer term sociopolitical issue that monetary aid simply can’t address.

        Bear in mind that I’m concentrating here on the practical stuff, not arguing the merits of Whirled Peas and Climatalogical Rainbows. This is aside from the arguments re “reparations” (for want of a better term) and looking at what the results are likely to be.

        Let’s stipulate that you and your “side” are correct, that reparations are in fact warranted and the west 15/20 are guilty as hell for raping the planet and so on. If the reparation aid is known to be a waste of effort that will not do what is intended, perhaps the better answer is to use this same aid in a different manner.

        I’m thinking specifically of spaceborne solar. Say the aid amounts to $400 billion over a few years. Why not simply use this money to create the hardware and install it where it needs to go? This way “the people” (citizens of e.g. Haiti etc) are benefitted directly with emissions free energy and the money was not simply pissed away.

        Again, what I’m concentrating on is merely the practical, not arguing with you regarding merits and/or lack thereof.

      • randomengineer

        Joshia — I don’t want anyone to “leave” the country because they object to foreign aid, I’m noting that leaving is an option available – thereby contradicting the statement of being “forced.”

        The notion of forced as per some posters is partly libertarian in that tax is not levied voluntarily, ever, but at the point of a gun. Fail to pay tax and the government will take it from you, and if necessary, violently so. This is not disputable that I know of; it’s a simple fact of life. In an ideal world we would all tithe say 10% of our incomes to work for the common good, to build roads and schools and so on. But this doesn’t happen, and it doesn’t happen because there is no agreement on what the common good entails. The abillity to tax trumps agreement, and tax is violent by definition.

        Forced also is rooted in the notion of sovereignity where the typical call for aid etc is somehow imposed by a world court or the UN or whatever where the citizen is completely unable to vote NO. If the US voters decided to hand the GDP to (e.g.) Zimbabwe and we all had a say in it, then as Starkey says naysayers would be compelled to re-examine their stance. But as far as I can tell this is not what is being asked for, the voters being lobbied to all get together and vote for it. Rather, it’s being pitched as an imposition from outside, and if you don’t like it, your only real options are to GTFO or go full monty Kevorkian? No, no implied violence there. :-)

      • R.E. -

        Nice post: (11:54)

        If the reparation aid is known to be a waste of effort that will not do what is intended, perhaps the better answer is to use this same aid in a different manner.

        Taking a risk of speaking for Martha, I don’t think that anyone is in disagreement with that.

        As you described, we have a problem of a difficulty in analyzing what would have occurred absent what aid has been given (i.e, what is “known” to conclude wasted effort?), but the problem I have is that existence of some clear unintended consequences or unsatisfactory levels of absolute progress due to past efforts is not (necessarily) a reason to form absolute conclusions about the impact of future efforts.

        Say the aid amounts to $400 billion over a few years. Why not simply use this money to create the hardware and install it where it needs to go? This way “the people” (citizens of e.g. Haiti etc) are benefitted directly with emissions free energy and the money was not simply pissed away.

        Again, what I’m concentrating on is merely the practical, not arguing with you regarding merits and/or lack thereof.

        Bingo.

      • BTW- I find this exchange with martha and Joshua much more relevant than the discussions on the physics. I study physics (EM) as a hobby and like the math, but find it to be a minor point to the overall issue. Posters want to weigh in on what will be proven or unproven by models that actually accurately predict future weather or don’t.

      • R.E. -

        The notion of forced as per some posters is partly libertarian in that tax is not levied voluntarily, ever, but at the point of a gun.

        I suspect that we’re just going to continue in a circular argument here, but one last time:

        No one is forcing you to pay taxes. Assuming that you have the resources available to leave the country, you do have other options.

        The abillity to tax trumps agreement, and tax is violent by definition.

        I do not feel violently compelled to pay taxes. I agree to pay taxes in return for the benefits gained. The U.S. can be a signatory on International agreements or not. At the point where some One World Government is threatening to invade the U.S. because our representatives in international associations don’t agree to devoting some tiny % of GDP to foreign aid, I will grab my assault weapon and head to my bunker, and in that case I’ll offer you one of my extra rooms. Bear in mind, however, that most of my provisions are in the form of bacon.

      • randomengineer

        Joshua — I agree to pay taxes in return for the benefits gained.

        My point is relative to when you don’t agree that you are seeing a benefit, as in — try not paying your taxes. At the most fundamental level, it’s governmental violence.

        Do note that I am not saying that this is necessarily WRONG. But it is what it is, and it’s OK to acknowledge that. Don’t worry; nobody will mistake you for a libertarian.

      • Joshua

        I think the argument that- “well if you don’t like it you can move to another country” as being weak and unpractical. Yes, a person could move, but it is not a very practical solution. “Forced” is or can be exchanged with “obligated” in terms of taxes. I would be obligated to pay higher taxes, and I would think that was a bad allocation of limited resources for our country

      • R.E. -

        My point is relative to when you don’t agree that you are seeing a benefit,..

        I’ve traveled a lot in 3rd world countries, have you?

        If I didn’t feel I saw a benefit, (with the options available to me to express and/or act upon my disagreement with how taxes are spent) I’d move somewhere else where I wouldn’t be taxed. Why would anyone with the sufficient resources act differently?

        At the most fundamental level, it’s governmental violence.

        I support your right to feel victimized. What I object to is your absolute analysis. I do not feel victimized. Now you might attribute that to my lack of intelligence. Much has been attributed to my lack of intelligence in these here threads. In that case, I’d ask you what enabled you to attain your relatively elevated status? Virtue?

      • I think the argument that- “well if you don’t like it you can move to another country” as being weak and unpractical.

        I actually agree. I think the important thing is not that people can leave the country but whether democratic mechanisms exist so that if people believe the level of taxation is too high or don’t like the uses to which it is put, and if they can persuade enough other people, they have a chance of changing the situation. Which doesn’t neccessarily mean they will succeed – there wll always be disagreement and there will never be a solution which everyone is happy with.

  27. The reasons for the differing levels of wealth between the developed and developing worlds are many, varied and often open to controversy. In some ways the actions of rich western countries have helped others to make progress, in other ways they have hindered them. Similarly, some developing countries have helped themselves more than others. But there are also underlying factors which are outside anyone’s control – for example one doesn’t have to fully subscribe to Jared Diamond’s thesis as propounded in Guns, Germs and Steel to consider that it’s not a coincidence that walthy countries seem to be clustered in certain parts of the world and poorer ones in others.
    To say that the US and other rich countries have prospered because they are somehow more virtuous than poor countries or that the latter are in the situation they are in merely because they choose to be or that it’s just down to them making bad decisions is simply not a serious argument.

  28. randomengineer

    To say that the US and other rich countries have prospered because they are somehow more virtuous than poor countries or that the latter are in the situation they are in merely because they choose to be or that it’s just down to them making bad decisions is simply not a serious argument.

    Then it’s a good thing nobody actually makes that argument. ;-)

    The actual argument is that as a practical matter poorer countries tend to be inflicted with corrupt governments; handing them cash doesn’t and can’t fix corrupt governments.

    I think we all have neighbours who are escapees from bad places who are good and decent and smart people, so yes, you’re correct that the west is more virtuous argument (that nobody makes) is crap.

    Diamond IMHO is wrong. The problem seems to be more of the luck of the draw concerning decent government. Good government is a blessing; it seems to be rare.

    If we confine discussion to the practicalities of government, where are we?

    • R.E. -

      Then it’s a good thing nobody actually makes that argument. ;-) /blockquote>

      Perhaps no one hear has not made that argument, but there is much evidence that many people in this country attribute our advanced standard of living, directly, to our greater virtue (and more generally, prosperity to virtuousness).

      • Lots of trouble with the tags lately (the homonym problem is long-standing).

      • My ex always thought prosperity was virtuous. I always thought brains were more important than beauty. Boy did we have great makeup sex!

      • randomengineer

        Joshua — …but there is much evidence that many people in this country…

        Don’t you know it. Many in the 15% to 20% of the GOP who make up the far right crowd think they were handpicked by god to be successful and that the US is a christian country. American Exceptionalism takes on a whole new (and perverse) meaning.

        On the plus side this is a distinct minority of the GOP much less the electorate as a whole, and they’re nowhere near as influential as they want to think. Why do I think this? SD is a red state, the 99% caucasian everybody goes to church red state of red state kind of place, and even there the fundie culture warrior social issues aren’t voted in (e.g. attempts to make abortion illegal are always voted down.) If the fundies can’t get their way in a state where everyone goes to church, why…

        In short, the virtuousness argument is weak enough to be invisible since serious commenters aren’t making it.

      • R.E. -

        On the plus side this is a distinct minority of the GOP much less the electorate as a whole, and they’re nowhere near as influential as they want to think.

        I would dispute that. The evidence I’ve seen is that a fairly large segment of the American public think, at least to a large degree, prosperity is a direct function of virtue. Given human psychology, it stands to reason that people born into a more prosperous environment would tend to think that prosperity is attributable to virtue.

        The belief in American exceptionalism may not be exactly congruent with such a belief – but I think that the broad appeal to American exceptionalism as seen in the political arena is reflective of a view that those who attain success do so because they are morally, intellectually, or in some other way superior to those who don’t. Given that, it’s tough to evaluate your assessment of the degree of influence. American exceptionalism has long been a huge force in American politics.

        That isn’t to say that I think that anyone who believes in American exceptionalism is cold-hearted and indifferent to the plight of others. I think it’s a highly nuanced issue.

    • Joshua

      When you reply to Random with the comment

      “I’d ask you what enabled you to attain your relatively elevated status? Virtue?”

      Based on his/her other comments on the thread, don’t you upon further consideration; that your comment does not increase your understanding of other position and only shuts down potential understanding of others positions.

      • Rob -

        Fair enough.

        “Mommy, mommy, he did it first” is an unacceptable rationale, but by way of explanation, R.E. has been quite insulting to me in the past and as a result I slipped into petulant blogger mode.

      • Joshua writes
        “The evidence I’ve seen is that a fairly large segment of the American public think, at least to a large degree, prosperity is a direct function of virtue.”
        Imo, people can frequently misunderstand the results when reading the summary of various polls. In you point above, what is meant by the word “virtue” to those responding to the question? If it meant to that person that Americans have generally worked hard (or harder) than people in much of the world to better themselves by educating themselves and building things that improved their society- would you find the person to be as much of a loon as the person who believes “God loves America more than other countries?”
        I see VERY little support or belief in the US that “God loves America more than other countries?”

      • Joshua

        I have only been reading this exchange. I think between Randon and I (we do generally seem to agree) we have openly communicated the position of many who do not support many IPCC recomendations as being reasonable. By my reading, we have provided a pretty good case.

      • Rob -

        If it meant to that person that Americans have generally worked hard (or harder) than people in much of the world to better themselves by educating themselves and building things that improved their society- would you find the person to be as much of a loon as the person who believes “God loves America more than other countries?”

        I haven’t called anyone a loon.

        The biggest predictor of economic success in this country is the income level of the family into which you are born. It correlates better than any other variable I can think of. Having worked construction and in corporate and academic environments, and living in a mixed-income community with many very hard working people who have trouble making ends meet, I would say that the degree to which success is a function of “hard work” is very questionable although there is some correlation, no doubt.

        I think the question as to how many people think that “God loves America more than other countries” is an interesting one – but I don’t see evidence that backs up the confidence you have in your assessment.

        That said:

        Imo, people can frequently misunderstand the results when reading the summary of various polls.

        I think that is true; that is what I meant when I said that American exceptionalism and a belief that prosperity is a direct function of virtue are not exactly congruent. I do think that there is more overlap than you seem to think, however.

        Much of my perspective on this issue comes from many years of working extensively with people from other countries. In a very general sense, I feel that Americans tend, relatively, to attribute success to virtue. Asians, in particular, are much more sanguine about that connection. Have my anecdotal experiences influenced how I examine the available evidence? Of course.

  29. randomengineer

    In that case, I’d ask you what enabled you to attain your relatively elevated status? Virtue?

    I must say that your “lead the witness” style is presumptuous to say the least. In the spirit of taking the high road, the following is my direct answer —

    Capitalism and good government coupled with luck of the draw. My own situation isn’t unlike Asimov’s bio, where he discovered to his great surprise he was born elsewhere and at age 3 moved his family to the US.

    • I meant your relatively (relative to me) elevated intellectual status. You have demeaned my intelligence on more than one occasion.

      Of course, Don (and quite a few other “denizens”) would point out that you were simply making accurate statements when you did so.

      Anyway, snark withdrawn. Rob’s right. It’s distracting when there’s an actual discussion afoot.

      • randomengineer

        Joshua — You have demeaned my intelligence on more than one occasion.

        True enough. I was wrong to do that. My apologies. Better?

      • R.E. -

        My apologies. Better?,

        That depends. I’m a bit wary.

        Is that a “Sorry if I hurt your ‘aery-fairy’ feelings” better?

        Or is it a “I agree that the discussion is more fruitful absent insults” better?

      • Joshua

        If someone believes “God loves America more than other countries?” I consider tham to be a loon. My words and not yours.

        BTW- I have been self supported since age 16- paid my own way through school (undergrad anyway) and am completely financially independent today. I disagree that being born to wealth is anymore of the largest factor to sucess in the US than in other countries.

      • Rob -

        I disagree that being born to wealth is anymore of the largest factor to sucess in the US than in other countries.

        That seems to be a misunderstanding of my point. My point was that Americans tend to attribute success less to birth SES (and more to virtue) than do people I’ve encountered from other countries (with the caveat, as always, that individual variability is greater than variability in comparing different groups). I have more than once had people from other countries ask me why Americans consider success to be so attributable to virtue. I have also had foreigners tell me that before they came to this country, they assumed that our standard of living was directly attributable to one virtue or another (say, superior business efficiency) only to find once they spent time here that the causal relationship they saw previously didn’t exist in reality.

        Of course, I think that measures of social and class mobility as correlated with family SES rate the U.S. lower than most Americans assume – but perhaps that isn’t precisely the point that you’re asking?

      • Joshua, if you & willard, can tare yourselves away from the pressing needs of science long enough, you will see that even a persons death can not prevent ghosts from voting in NH.

        http://dailycaller.com/2012/01/11/video-nh-poll-workers-shown-handing-out-ballots-in-dead-peoples-names/

        More mashugana from the unwashed. When will we ever learn?

      • Joshua, you yourself said that you werent smart enough to discuss the science, and the science is pretty basic.
        So instead you focus on peoples motivations. Not a wise move.
        And now your peddling anecdotes about other topics.

      • Thread jackers always complain about other thread jackers

      • steven -

        Once again, you’re wrong.

        In point of fact, you’ve become largely obsessed with posting about my movitations – your recent late night exchange of armchair psychological analysis of me with Don being a good example. That is when you aren’t calling calling me a racist, and anti-Semite, a bigot, opining about my views of women, demeaning my intelligence, etc.

        In point of fact, I’m not speculating about motivations.

        But as always, thanks for reading. I especially appreciate you reading my anecdotal stories. I feel so honored that someone of your vastly superior intelligence would take the time to read my posts, let alone actually take the time to respond.

        So frequently.

      • steven, don’t you just love freedom of speech? Here is an Eye-full…
        I believe you guys are right about Americans being arrogant about their position & influence in the World today. You need to know though that there are many of us who still love our country, These United States. When the FED started printing their $1 Bill, with the ‘All seeing eye on top of a pyramid which then follows with “The United States of Am-Eric-A ( Abel/vero possumus), We should just read it and weep.
        Vote for:
        Vespucci Land, if you don’t like the United States.

        Let’s all see, just how far that will get us in the end?:o)

        Still more mashugana, we know. Blame it on our low GPA scores, and those poor school councilors.
        We will keep trying though.

      • Joshua,
        You complaining about people discussing your motives is a hoot.
        Thanks.

      • hunter -

        I think you’ve misinterpreted my posts. I’m not complaining about someone speculating about my motives. I think it’s hilarious, and telling.

        For example, did you catch the series of posts where steven discussed me at length with Don, and concluded that my criticism of Judith was motivated by some deep seated issue I have with women?

        He concluded this on the basis of one set of examples of my blogospheric interactions with a woman, without considering other examples of my blogospheric interactions with women, and in spite of my similar interactions with male bloggers in the “skeptical” blogosphere (such as Anthony and Jeff Id).

        Now I wouldn’t want to speculate about steven’s motivations, so why do you think that someone who considers themselves to be as smart as steven obviously considers himself to be would use such facile reasoning to draw conclusions?
        \
        He thinks he has insight into my psychological makeup on the basis of one example only, and formulates a theory in spite of contradictory evidence? Don’t you agree that’s hilarious?

        Is it because of some motivation of his, or is it because there is something else that clouds his brilliance?

        What do you you think motivates his obsession with me?

      • Joshua,
        I would suggest that you have missed the point, and with rich irony and much hilarit and that you are still doing so.
        Thanks,
        hunter

      • steven mosher

        Joshua I said nothing about your MOTIVES
        I talked about your behavior with a certain class of women.
        Your motives are not relevant.
        please learn to read.

      • steven mosher

        My my, lets keep Joshua honest.
        The person who seems overly concerned with motivated reasoning, cannot even get the basic facts straight.

        Here is what I wrote

        “witness Joshua. He doesn’t even see how his language, tone, and style of argumentation changes when he addresses Judith. Having observed more than my share of otherwise competent young males dissolve in the face of a particular class of female, I’m utterly amused at his lack of self knowledge and awareness.”

        Here is how he characterizes this:

        “For example, did you catch the series of posts where steven discussed me at length with Don, and concluded that my criticism of Judith was motivated by some deep seated issue I have with women?

        He concluded this on the basis of one set of examples of my blogospheric interactions with a woman, without considering other examples of my blogospheric interactions with women, and in spite of my similar interactions with male bloggers in the “skeptical” blogosphere (such as Anthony and Jeff Id).”

        I didnt say you had a deep seated issue with women. Here is what I said

        “Don,
        It’s one of those things that people trained in noting shift’s in style can spot in an instant. It’s also notable in some of his metaphors. The choices people make in this area are seldom conscious and provide a nice little window to the soul. The boy clearly has/had issues.
        That doesnt make him wrong, but it is entertaining to watch.”

        Entertaining. not deep seated issues with women. a shift in style when confronted witha particular class of female ( its not even an issue with women )

        I continued:

        “Joshua. This is not about your sexuality or your motives.

        Mostly its about your style.

        Even your retort here fits the pattern perfectly. Do you not see how your language changes measureable ways when you engage males as opposed to females? Other people dont exhibit this changes in style as dramatically as you do Joshua. You have a style issue. Now, in my experience that is often coupled with certain personal issues”

        So, you dont see how your style shifts ( yes I see you on WUWT and I see you on Jeff Ids ) and you dont get what that signifies.
        Its not about a issue with women you DOPE, it arises when you engage a certain class of female.

        Its fun to watch. not a deep seated issue.
        hehe.. was there something you wanted to tell us

      • If this obsession with responding to the serial non sequitors of the most prolific, content free commenter on this blog keeps up, Dr.Curry should consider renaming her blog Joshua.etc.

      • steven -

        Sorry if my paraphrasing of what you said is inaccurate. Allow me to correct for that by being more careful.

        When I am speaking of “motivated reasoning” – I know this is a shock to you – but I’m speaking of reasoning. “Motivated” functions as an adjective to modify the gerund of reasoning. It would be, in a grammatical sense, similar to saying fallacious reasoning (perhaps a more appropriate adjective in your case). I don’t speculate about Judith’s motivations or those of her “denizens.” In fact, I recently criticized Fred for doing just that. I don’t typically speculate about the motivations of people I’ve never met. Instead, I observe where their reasoning appears to be motivated, as in evidenced by bias in how they evaluate evidence (such as a confirmation bias).

        Once again, steven, I’m not smart enough to understand the science related to the climate debate, but I am sometimes capable of recognizing illogical reasoning when I see it, and in your case it is unfortunately too often quite obvious. Just because you are so much more intelligent than I, doesn’t mean that the illogic of your reasoning isn’t often obvious to me when you are not directly addressing questions related to the science.

        The recent late-night speculation of yours about my “dissolv[ing] in the face of a particular class of female,” is just the latest in a string of fallacious reasoning on your part.

        You have vaguely referred to something that you’ve observed in my “tone” in how I respond to a “particular class of female,” yet when I asked you for something more specific, you said bubkis. Are Martha (whom I have, once or twice, criticized for the tone of her comments) or Louise a different class of female than Judith? Is my “tone” different when I interact with them from when I interact with others? Is it the same when I address them as when I address Judith? If so, how is that the case? How about your bud Lucia, who once on noconsensus I credited with observing an illogical aspect of my reasoning. Is she a different “class of female” than Judith? Did I address her with the same “tone?”

        How is my tone different with Judith different than my tone with Anthony or with Jeff Id? Certainly, your proclaimed experience and expertise in analyzing text to derive motivations (as you said elsewhere), enables you to spell out in more specific detail what you can discern from my changes in tone as you so describe. Enlighten me as to what you can see from your fantasized “window into [my] soul” (which, of course, isn’t speculating about my motivations. Too funny).

        And as for this, my friend:

        Joshua I said nothing about your MOTIVES

        Despite your sophisticated use of all caps, you’re wrong yet again. You have called me, among other insults, anti-Semitic, racist, and bigoted. That is questioning my motives; for example that I am motivated by hatred towards Jews.

        Do you not see how your language changes measureable ways when you engage males as opposed to females?

        Spell it out, big fella. Your lack of specificity might lead one to think that you have nothing of substance to back up your conclusions. What are your “measurements?” You obviously read my posts carefully and commit (at least some of what I say) to memory – as you often bring up things I’ve said in the past. I know it will be hard for you to reduce your thinking to a level low enough for someone of my limited acuity – but I don’t think it’s beyond you judging from someone of your skills, expertise, and experience.

      • Gary –

        I have to say that your series of “non-responses” to me via criticizing others for responding to me, or explaining at great length why you think I shouldn’t be responded to, are among my most favorite of denizen contributions to Climate Etc.

        Keep up the good work.

    • randomengineer

      Joshua — …I think that the broad appeal to American exceptionalism as seen in the political arena is reflective of a view that those who attain success do so because they are morally, intellectually, or in some other way superior to those who don’t.

      I’ve always heard the AE argument contextually limited to form of government. How is it that we hear the same argument and are hearing it so differently? It’s almost like a psychology class venturing into the “methinks thou doth protest too much” territory.

  30. Joshua
    Personally I believe Americans tend to be arrogant about our position of influence in the world. Imo, a high percentage of Americans tend to view the world from a US viewpoint and to greatly lack understanding that the rest of the world does not think that the US is as important as they do.

    I bring these points up really to better understand the case for what you believe should be accomplished.