Not 100% sure?

by Judith Curry

The drunk notoriously searches for his keys not in the dark where he dropped them, but under the lamp-post where he can see. This is an apt metaphor for much of what is written on the subject of risk management.

John Adams  has a chapter in the new book “Successful Science Communication” that is entitled “Not 100% sure? The public understanding of risk”  From a post at Adams’ website:

It begins: “Where knowledge (belief) relates to potential future harms or benefits, as it usually does in situations where science communication is seen as problematic or contentious, the issue can be framed as one of risk communication.”

And concludes: “The problem for science communicators is that we, scientist and non-scientist alike, do not respond blankly to uncertainty. We impose meaning upon it. The greater the uncertainty the greater becomes the influence of perceptual biases. These biases have deep cosmological roots and are not easily shifted. Perhaps the best that a science communicator can hope for is that introspection might assist recognition of one’s own biases, and an awareness of the inevitability of different biases in others. Self-knowledge and an ability to stand metaphorically in the shoes of others are key ingredients of the empathy essential to effective communication.”

The aspects of this chapter that struck me were specifically related to understanding risk (rather than communication).  Some excerpts:

On different kinds of risk:

Some risks are visible to the naked eye. We manage them using judgment. We do not undertake a formal probabilistic risk assessment before crossing the road; some combination of instinct, intuition and experience usually sees us safely to the other side.

Others are perceptible only to those armed with microscopes, telescopes, surveys, scanners and other measuring devices, and the data they produce. This is the realm of quantified risk assessment. In this realm uncertainty comes with numbers attached in the form of probabilities. 

Virtual risks may or may not be real – scientists disagree – but beliefs about them have real consequences. The uncertainty is liberating; if science cannot settle the issue people feel free to argue from their beliefs, convictions, prejudices or superstitions. Here we are thrown back, as in the first circle, on judgments that cannot be objectively validated.

On perceptual filters:

It is commonly alleged by people struggling to put across scientific messages that ‘the public’ craves certainty and cannot cope with the provisional nature of scientific knowledge. This seems unlikely. The public after all buys millions of pounds worth of lottery tickets every week and a significant number regularly visit bookmakers. A more likely explanation of the difficulties encountered by those charged with communicating scientific information to the public is that there is no such beast as ‘the public’. There are many publics and they perceive and respond to uncertainty differently.

[A] typology of commonly encountered responses to risk developed in a branch of anthropology called cultural theory. These are caricatures, but nevertheless recognizable types that one encounters in debates about threats to safety and the environment.

  • Individualists are enterprising ‘self-made’ people, relatively free from control by others, and who strive to exert control over their environment and the people in it. Their success is often measured by their wealth and the number of followers they command. They are enthusiasts for equality of opportunity and, should they feel the need for moral justification of their activities, they appeal to Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand which ensures that self-interested behaviour in a free market operates to the benefit of all. The self-made Victorian mill owner or present-day venture capitalist would make good representatives of this category. They oppose regulation and favour free markets. Nature, according to this perspective, is to be commanded for human benefit. They are prone to top-loop bias.
  • Egalitarians have strong group loyalties but little respect for externally imposed rules, other than those imposed by nature. Human nature is – or should be – cooperative, caring and sharing. Trust and fairness are guiding precepts and equality of outcome is an important objective. Group decisions are arrived at by direct participation of all members, and leaders rule by the force of their arguments. The solution to the world’s environmental problems is to be found in voluntary simplicity. Members of religious sects, communards and environmental pressure groups all belong to this category. Nature is to be obeyed and respected and interfered with as little as possible. They are advocates of the precautionary principle and prone to bottom-loop bias.
  • Hierarchists inhabit a world with strong group boundaries and binding prescriptions. Social relationships in this world are hierarchical with everyone knowing his or her place. Members of caste-bound Hindu society, soldiers of all ranks and civil servants are exemplars of this category. The hierarchy certifies and employs the scientists whose intellectual authority is used to justify its actions. Nature is to be managed. They are devotees of cost–benefit analysis and nervous in the presence of uncertainties that preclude the possibility of attaching uncontested numbers to the variables they are supposed to be managing.
  • Fatalists have minimal control over their own lives. They belong to no groups responsible for the decisions that rule their lives. They are non-unionised employees, outcasts, refugees, untouchables. They are resigned to their fate and see no point in attempting to change it. Nature is to be endured and, when it’s your lucky day, enjoyed. Their risk management strategy is to buy lottery tickets and duck if they see something about to hit them.

JC comment: interesting categories, but I would have no idea how to characterize myself in this scheme.

In our report we explained to the HSE that in the terms of this typology they were statuary Hierarchists; they who make the rules and enforce the rules. For the foreseeable future we predicted they could expect to be attacked from the Egalitarian quadrant for not doing enough to protect society, and from the Individualist quadrant for over-regulating and suffocating enterprise.

Occupants of all four quadrants are all familiar with the concept of uncertainty but respond to it very differently.

From the section What Kills You Matters:

Acceptance of a given actuarial level of risk varies widely with the perceived level of control an individual can exercise over it and, in the case of imposed risks, with the perceived motives of the imposer.

With ‘pure’ voluntary risks, the risk itself, with its associated challenge and rush of adrenaline, is the reward (e.g. mountain climbing). 

With a voluntary, self-controlled, applied risk, such as driving, the reward is getting expeditiously from A to B. But the sense of control that drivers have over their fates appears to encourage a high level of tolerance of the risks involved.

Cycling from A to B (I write as a London cyclist) is done with a diminished sense of control over one’s fate. This sense is supported by statistics that show that per kilometre travelled a cyclist is much more likely to die than someone in a car. This is a good example of the importance of distinguishing between relative and absolute risk. Although much greater, the absolute risk of cycling is still small – 1 fatality in 25 million kilometres cycled; not even Lance Armstrong can begin to cover that distance in a lifetime of cycling. And numerous studies have demonstrated that the extra relative risk is more than offset by the health benefits of regular cycling; regular cyclists live longer.

While people may voluntarily board planes, buses and trains, the popular reaction to crashes in which passengers are passive victims suggests that the public demand a higher standard of safety in circumstances in which people voluntarily hand over control of their safety to pilots, or bus or train drivers.

Risks imposed by nature – such as those endured by people living on the San Andreas Fault or the slopes of Mount Etna – or by impersonal economic forces – such as the vicissitudes of the global economy – are placed in the middle of the scale. Reactions vary widely. Such risks are usually seen as motiveless and are responded to fatalistically – unless or until the risk can be connected to base human motives. 

Imposed risks are less tolerated (e.g. consider mobile phones). 

Even less tolerated are risks whose imposers are perceived to be motivated by profit or greed. 

Less tolerated still are malignly imposed risks – crimes ranging from mugging to rape and murder. 

Which brings us to terrorism and Al Qaida. The malign intent of the terrorist is amplified by governments who see it as a threat to their ability to govern. To justify forms of surveillance and restrictions on liberty previously associated with tyrannies ‘democratic’ governments now characterize terrorism as a threat to Our Way of Life.

JC comment:  The climate change issue is a complex one by this categorization, including risks from nature, motivated by profit and greed, and a thread to Our Way of Life.

From the section Who’s to Blame?

Risk is a word that refers to the future. It has no objective existence. The future exists only in the imagination. There are some risks for which science can provide useful guidance to the imagination. The risk that the Sun will not rise tomorrow can be assigned a very low probability by science. And actuarial science can estimate with a high degree of confidence that the number of people killed in road accidents in Britain next year will be 2500, plus or minus a hundred or so.

But these are predictions, not facts. Such predictions rest on assumptions; that tomorrow will be like yesterday; that next year will be like last year; that future events can be foretold by reading the runes of the past. Sadly, the history of prediction contains many failures – from those of stock market tipsters to those of volcanologists seeking to predict eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis. In the area lit by the lamp of science one finds risk management problems that are potentially soluble by science. Such problems are capable of clear definition relating cause to effect and characterized by identifiable statistical regularities.

On the margins of this circle one finds problems framed as hypotheses, and methods of reasoning, such as Bayesian statistics, which guide the collection and analysis of further evidence. As the light grows dimmer the ratio of speculation to evidence increases. In the outer darkness lurk unknown unknowns. Here lie problems with which, to use Medawar’s word, we are destined to ‘grapple’.

JC comment:  I really liked this article, and they way it attempted to untangle different types of risk and people’s perception.  It provides an interesting framework for thinking about the complex and diverse public response to the risks associated with climate change and the proposed solutions, and the role of uncertainty and unknown unknowns.  The objective of the essay is to frame scientific communication for publicly controversial topics as a challenge in risk communication.  I think this is exactly on target.  Re communication:

Perhaps the best that a science communicator can hope for is that introspection might assist recognition of one’s own biases, and an awareness of the inevitability of different biases in others. Self-knowledge and an ability to stand metaphorically in the shoes of others are key ingredients of the empathy essential to effective communication.

221 responses to “Not 100% sure?

  1. Judith,

    Who has the right and authority to point out errors in the multi-billion dollar scholastic endeavors?

  2. People’s differences are not biases. Moreover, there is a huge difference between risk as a probability and risk taking judgments by individuals, which variy widely. Science can communicate the former (with great uncertainty in many cases) but not the latter. This essay confuses the two, assuming in effect that there is only one correct judgement in any given case. This is a fallacy.

    • David,

      Scientists by way of their position and supposed expertise is suppose to give society an informed and unbiased assessment of research on our planet.
      They are not paid to be uncertain.
      If they are paid to be uncertain then a monkey can be of the same objectivity. :-)

      • Actually they are paid to be uncertain, in the sense of identifying new questions that are worthy of research. More broadly, I think the uncertainties in climate science explain the debate. It is not a communication failure, but a communication success.

      • “They are not paid to be uncertain.”
        They are not paid to lie about lack of certainty (or anything else).

      • Norm Kalmanovitch

        Science is a profession of using certainty (in the form of established laws and physical data) to investigate uncertainties and provide society with more certainty about everything that affects our daily lives.
        Politics is a profession of using uncertinties masked as certainties to have society accept a political agenda.
        It is a certainty that global warming ended by 1998 and it is a certainty that the world has been cooling since 2002. It is also a certainty that CO2 emissions have been increasing rapidly since the end of the Second World War and have still been increasing for the past decade as the world cooled so it is a certainty that there is no evidence that CO2 emissions are causing global warming.
        It is also a certainty that there is a political proclamation that global warming poses a serious threat in spite of the scientific certainty that no such threat exists.
        Science is based on fact and politics is based on beliefs so the 100% certainty is that the climate change issue is not based on science which leaves a 100% certainty that climate change is based on politics.

    • ceteris non paribus

      Excellent point. Probabilistic risk analyses are very different from the judgements that we might make based on them. The former are (one hopes) grounded in empirical facts, whereas the latter almost always involve normative biases, social conventions, and good ol’ rules of thumb.

      Good example of this is the often-crazy debates over nuclear energy. The general public perception of the hazards involved is completely out of proportion to the quantifiable risks.

      • Good example of this is the often-crazy debates over nuclear energy. The general public perception of the hazards involved is completely out of proportion to the quantifiable risks.

        The article does discuss this when it looks at the relationship between control and risk perception.

      • I’d better go hangout on a greenpeace blog. it’s getting to the point where I want to put a nuclear power plant in my garage, just for the sake of it.

      • ceteris non paribus

        BillC:
        Small confession – I used to be a Greenpeace member.
        I left the org years ago primarily because of their uninformed policies on nuclear energy. More of a ‘Nature Conservancy’ guy now.

      • Bill C,
        Speaking of having a nuclear reactor in your garage, how would you like to live in a society where some people keep tactical nukes as part of a comprehensive home secutiry system?
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ungoverned
        the trickle down and dramatic reductions in the costs of high tech in general has some interesting implications.

      • BillC,

        Oregon State and Toshiba are developing reactors that will (almost) fit in your garage. OK, that’s a bit exagerated, but we do have small reactor designs that could fit almost anywhere, or be clustered, under a modular drop in concept. I have doubts I’ll see one put into operation in my lifetime though.

      • Hunter,

        I came across Verner Vinge just last year. Read Marooned in Realtime and one other. Have a third book waiting for me at home.

        I’m not that hot on the idea of people having their own nuke weapons, but I do believe that ownership of a belt fed machine gun is to be encouraged.

      • I suggest that the word “risk” is being both written and read ambiguously as between “risk” as danger to an individual with which the able and clever individual may successfully cope with an alert discretion; and “risk” as objective probability of injury to some random selection of members of a group with which only a superstitious confidence in accidental good fortune can cope. When we drive, most of us believe that we can avoid becoming one of the deaths that are statistically inevitable by the exercise of due care and the ability to perceive the dangerous situation starting to develop and acting accordingly. That belief makes us more willing to take the risk. When we fly we know its a crap-shoot and we just hope that our number is not up. I conjecture that people willingly run much greater risks when they enjoy what is perhaps the illusion of control.

      • I’m getting to to the point point that I wouldn’t mind just having a ‘bit of a nuclear meltdown’ in my backyard just so I can get rid of my nosy,meddling neighbors.

    • Taking risk, the moon not to fall on the planet… it’s bigger risk the moon to fall than GLOBAL warming to happen in 100y; because moon / earth both have puling power, nothing in-between.

      Preventing risks, guided by the Warmist theories is much more stupid and costly. Example: investing in dams, to prevent Pakistan of flooding again, is good. Those dams can produce lots of hydro electricity. That water saved – farmers can use and prevent droughts. After that water evaporates from the farms – benefits as moisture in the air the vegetation that nobody irrigates – when is turned into water vapour – because the planet spines eastwards fast – that same water vapour goes west – west of Pakistan is the Horn of Africa = minimises the drought, where millions of children are starving. BUT UNDER THE WARMIST MYTHOLOGY, WATER VAPOUR SUPPOSED TO BE BAD FOR THE CLIMATE AND FOR THE phony GLOBAL warming. If preventing damages is based on their mythology, squandering money…

      REAL SCIENCE IS: CHECKING AND DOUBLE CHECKING – to see that is something not overlooked. Franticly trying to silence my proofs / facts and formulas is the new anti-science; tarnishing the science in the honest professions. Eli Rabbet and Steven Mosher are the best examples; what science shouldn’t be. If they were into medicine – would have being already in jail for malpractice.

  3. Judith, I think you are now an individualist. That happens to many folks, they become more individualistic with experience. The joke, “It is hard to soar with the Eagles when you work with turkeys.” comes to mind :)

    Since I am an individualist. I prefer to determine my own relative risk/reward which makes me a contrarian, (see the turkeys joke).

    That also makes me doubter. I doubt simplistic reasoning of risk/reward proposed by others.

    That make me egotistical. I value my own opinion.

    Which makes me somewhat embarrassed that I didn’t make Web’s Crackpot theorist list.

    So for Web, http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2012/01/coming-ice-age-illusion.html

    Now I am a egotistical, contrarian, individualist, crackpot with a humorous theory of climate change :)

    • Captain,

      Are you sure your not a humorist?
      Good reasoning skills…I like that.
      Doubt is good at keeping bad science in check.

      Unfortunately, we started out with bad science which no one had the balls or authority to confront it/them.

      • Humorist? Naw, mother nature is the humorist. She can make a lot of very smart people chase their tails :) Fat or skinny, don’t matter, a tail is a tail and it is not worth chasing your own :)

    • Capt. Dallas,
      At the peak of the eugenics movement one of the epitaphs used by eugenicist supporters to describe just how terrible skeptics of eugenics were was “individualist”.

      • Had the “Science Spoken” back then?

      • capt.,
        Yes the science had spoken clearly. Defectives and undesirables were holding the world back from enlightenment and good managed evolution.
        That the undesirables happened to be of ethnic and racial groups the elites disliked, well that was just obviously good science.
        Only crank individualists and reactionary religious kooks would dare stand up to the settled science of eugenics.

    • John Costigane

      Cap’n,

      Individualism is my ideal, since the herd is usually wrong. There is also a good v evil drive, outside religion. Take climatology, the political/scientific interface is liable to corruption. We go from Judith’s uncertainty to the politics of certainty. Only strict adherence to the scientific method can resolve this ‘evil’ situation.

  4. ceteris non paribus


    JC comment: interesting categories, but I would have no idea how to characterize myself in this scheme.

    You are probably a Gemini, or perhaps a closet Libra.

    Aren’t identity-politics fun?

  5. The taxonomy of stereotypes is fairly limited in the sense that it is very much from a Western perspective.

    That said, I think that the discussion of how control affects risk perception is very much relevant to the climate debate.

    As an example. I am much more willing to consider international agreements to help poor countries deal with potentially disproportionate impacts of climate change because I feel that such agreements are within the control of our citizenry.

    Rob Starkey is less willing to consider such agreements because he thinks they would be “forced” upon our citizenry.

    I think that I typically think of the differences in our perspective as being a different perception of the risk – almost assuming that we’d have a similar perspective on what should be done if we had a similar perception of the risks.

    in fact, the origin of the difference in our views may actually lie in how a different perspective on “control” affects our perceptions of and attitudes about different responses to the risk.

    • I think it would be fun to characterize me. I could give a rat’s fanny about whether or not we enter into some international agreement or have carbon taxes or whatever. I do think it’s fun to do cost-benefit analysis to try to get at the truth. I guess I’m somewhere between a hierarchist and a fatalist. Maybe there is some non-Western culture that explains this.

      • BillC -

        I do think it’s fun to do cost-benefit analysis to try to get at the truth.

        Translation = you’re a control freak; you want to have perfect information before making a decision. (I’m using “control freak” in a limited sense – not in the sense that you need to control the actions of others.)

        I’m the same way. Drives my girlfriend freakin’ crazy. I’ll write spreadsheets before buying a toaster.

      • Nah, I don’t like to do it w/r/t my own life. My wife does that.

        They need a “Dilbert” category to explain me.

      • ceteris non paribus


        Drives my girlfriend freakin’ crazy. I’ll write spreadsheets before buying a toaster.

        At the risk of stereotyping your girlfriend, might I suggest you try writing spreadsheets before buying a diamond necklace, opera tickets, or a new dining room suite?

      • At the risk of stereotyping your girlfriend, might I suggest you try writing spreadsheets before buying a diamond necklace, opera tickets, or a new dining room suite?

        Shoes. Ain’t enough closet space in the universe!

        Probably mulit-universes.

      • why am I not surprised at certain disclosures. issues josh, you got issues.

      • Johsua,
        Would you like some brie with that whine?

      • Hunter, Mosher, Don,

        You guys make it sound personal sometimes. It’s the internet. If you want to rip him to shreads when he spouts jibberish, fine. However this time I don’t see that.

      • tim,

        When a disingenuous little twit tries hijack every thread, he pretty much opens himself up to being ripped. Besides, he says the “insults” don’t bother him. We don’t know what he is whining about, but the “insults” don’t bother him. Are we clear now, tim?

    • Well, josh is back from RC repaired and re-inflated, but still tattered. Looks like Rob Starkey has been chosen at random to be his first strawman of the day. And we all have to read a book. Stay tuned to josh’s Channel ClimateEtc. All josh, all day. Any minute now he will falsely accuse someone of calling him an anti-Semite. Boy craves attention.

      • Don -

        You’ll have to understand that given the constant stream of insults you throw my way (including when you were on your binge of referring to my being Jewish along with calling me self-loathing), sometimes I might get mixed up between racist, misogynist, idiot, blah, blah. Apologies. I’ll have to start putting together a spreadsheet so I can properly cross-reference you insults.

        As for mosher:

        Steven Mosher | November 3, 2011 at 4:46 pm |

        in case you are wondering, there was somebody using your name who made an anti semetic remark to Lindzen up thread. It’s been removed.
        something about eugenics

      • Oh, and Rob Starkey wasn’t a random reference. He and I had a protracted discussion about whether the term “forced” was appropriate given the context of international treaties w/r/t climate change policies.

        But your noble stand against negative characterizations is admirable.

      • Josh

        I did reply to your ORIGINALquestion to me on the radical essays thread and ALSO to your follow up when you thught I hadnt replied. It was a car crash of a thread with replies all over the place. Didn’t want you to think I had ignored you :)

        As regards shoes, I once saw the shoe collection of Imelda Marcos once. A small palace is big enough.
        There’s no need to reply to this…
        tonyb

        tonyb

      • tony –

        I did see that. Thanks. I didn’t really buy your response (I think that you’re downplaying the question of whether or not you have a working theory), but appreciate it nonetheless.

      • You are definitely mixed up, josh. What is your point/insinuation with the mosher quote? Are you claiming that he called you an anti-Semite? You need some counseling, josh. Just curious, did you make the offending remark that had to be removed, or was it an impostor using your name?

        OK, I can see why you set Rob Starkey up as your strawman on this thread. You had a conversation with Rob in the past and you know enough about how he thinks to use him as your sock puppet. Or are they calling it a bot now? Anyway, it was an interesting conversation between you and Rob, even though he doesn’t seem to be around.

        You have too many comments on this thread already, josh. One of the many reasons nobody likes you. Give it a rest.

      • What’s really funny is that Josh doesnt know that it was a Jewish person who complained about his remark. Wasn’t me. I just heard about it.
        He should be sent for sensitivity training. not forced of course.

      • outstanding Don. Keep it up:

        Steven Mosher | November 3, 2011 at 4:46 pm |

        in case you are wondering, there was somebody using your name who made an anti semetic remark to Lindzen up thread. It’s been removed. something about eugenics

        Right. He says that my post, discussing Lindzen’s analogizing environmentalist to Eugenicists was an “anti semetic” remark, but he wasn’t saying that I’m anti-Semitic?

        Too funny.

      • steven -

        What’s really funny is that Josh doesnt know that it was a Jewish person who complained about his remark. Wasn’t me. I just heard about it.

        Read your comment again. You said that my remark was anti-Semitic. You didn’t say that someone else said that my remark is anti-Semitic.

        Look – it’s really beside the point – I could choose any of a long list of insults you’ve thrown my way -no doubt, from insight you’ve gotten from gazing through your “window into [my] soul.”

        I take no offense. You and don can insult me ’till the cows come home. You don’t know me. You have never met me. None of your insults reflect anything that anyone who knows me has to say about me.

        The point I’m making is that you (regularly) substitute insults for arguments. You think you can pass judgement on the character of someone who you have never even met.

        That habit serves as evidence for how sometimes your critical thinking is influence by your tribalism.

      • And btw, steven -

        At the time I asked you to clarify how my comment could be considered as anti-Semitic. You chose not to respond. Just as you have chosen not to respond when I asked you how you’ve “measured” my comments – with your experience and training in deriving motivations from text – to conclude how I have “issues” with a “particular class” of women.

        Go for it, big fella. Gaze through your “window into [my] soul” and tell me what you see – and how you’ve “measured” it.

        Too funny.

      • Steven,

        You should not have assumed that the removal of josh’s anti-Semitic comment, on the request of an offended Jewish person, gave you any justification for mentioning that his anti-Semitic comment had been removed . And don’t think for a minute that your insults are bothering little josh. As he has pointed out about 400 times, you ain’t got no window on that boy’s soul. The people who know him in his intermittent real life and have not seen his trash on message boards, think he is a real sweety. He assures us. What a freaking crybaby.

    • Joshua

      You have misrepresented my perspective. I wrote that I equate being “forced” as being the same as being “obligated” when it comes to paying taxes.

      I do not believe that the US owes any debt to other countries due to our CO2 emissions therefore I believe it is inappropriate for our citizens to be obligated to pay such a fee or tax. I believe that countries are responsible to build and maintain the infrastructure necessary to protect their citizens and their property. The fact that many countries have not done so was not caused by the US and we have no obligation to fix their problem.

      The key point or question is what net harm did the US cause that justifies that our citizens should pay something (a fine) to those in another country.

      • Rob –

        I apologize if that’s a mischaracterization. You did, in fact, use the term forced, multiple times IIRC. But when I pressed you on it you said that by “forced” you meant “obligated” and you are the judge of what is an accurate characterization of your meaning.

        That said, I’ll amend my comments to obligated (if I could edit them I would).

        But also, that said, I don’t see how you’re distinguishing “forced” from “obligated” there. Could you explain more? Perhaps it would be clearer if we think of another context. Do you think that you are “forced” or “obligated” to pay taxes? Depending on what answer you choose, what would the other situation look like?

      • Joshua

        I believe I explained in the comment below. I would comply with the law as passed and try to get it changed if I disagreed enough. I do not see the relevance of the difference between forced, obligated, required, etc. in this situation. The US government spends money in many ways I wish they didn’t, and I still pay my taxes per the law.

      • Rob -

        I do not see the relevance of the difference between forced, obligated, required, etc. in this situation.

        I don’t see much relevance to the difference either. So I’m trying to understand why when I used “forced” you said it was a mischaracterization, and clarified that you meant “obligated.” It seems those terms do have a very different meaning for you in the context I used them.

      • Oh, no! Joshy misrepresented you, and set you up as a strawman. That’s just how he rolls. How did I know that before you even showed up? I have a window on the little putz’s soul.

      • Josh,

        Rob has it correctly. Whether or not you use the term “obligation” in reference to paying taxes, the fact is that the threat of force is what underlies the act of taxation. Don’t believe me? Try not paying your taxes and see what happens.

      • tim -

        Try not paying your taxes and see what happens.

        I do consider not paying my taxes, but I don’t follow through. Why? Because I feel the benefits I get from my taxes justifies them in the long run – even though I’d rather hold on to the money. Traveling in countries with less functional governments (yes, as hard as it is to believe, they are out there) has convinced me of that.

        If I felt differently, I’d move to another country without such widespread statist tyranny. As i turns out, just about every other country I’ve been in that I’d consider living in has even more “statist tyranny” than we do.

        Somalia just doesn’t appeal to me.

      • Joshua -
        You make a fair point here. I’ve been doing some research on Norway and Sweden recently. Civilised prosperous places with lunatics that really are the exception. Cultured, modern. And in both places the state takes a ballpark 100% more tax than it does in your country. But here’s an amazing thing – you get quite a lot of stuff for free!!

        I could seriously find a problem with it……..except from the fact that [apart from seeming to 'work' quite well] they have chosen it. Are they any less free?

      • Anteros –

        Are they any less free?

        That’s one question.

        And another question is are they more free? For example, I’d love to have the “freedom” to take public transportation more easily and relatively inexpensively to more places in this country as I’m able to do many places in Europe or in Japan.

        Relatedly, I’ve traveled by auto in Namibia – where there are relatively few good roads, where some of the better roads are private roads but they are expensive, only available in a few limited places (because elsewhere in the country they would never be profitable), and only available to a tiny % of the population.

        We had a very limited interstate and intrastate road network in this country prior to a massive initiative to publicly fund a better road network. Private investors simply weren’t interested. Not enough return on their investment in a desirable period of time. Americans love their ability to drive their cars on the open road. Many discuss the “freedom” and independence associated with driving their cars. Wouldn’t have happened without being “forced” or “obligated” (Rob still hasn’t explained how he can think using one of those terms in a mischaracterization yet still think that the difference between the terms isn’t relevant, so I don’t know which term to use) to pay taxes.

        Do drivers in this country, driving on publicly built and maintained roads (don’t believe the hype about “user fees” paying for all of our national, state, and local roads building and maintenance, let alone funding the origination of our interstate highway system), have less “freedom” than drivers in Namibia? Do they have “more freedom?”

      • I certainly think Norway and Sweden have much to recommend them, but have no idea how much that has to do with having a large state – not much I think. It’s a large state that works and is democratic. North Korea’s isn’t so benign.
        You’re right to question freedom. I think it is both hard to know, and easy to be fooled.
        I have a friend who is obsessed by the “Americans think they’re free but they’re more rigidly controlled than everyone else!” meme. Maybe though he’s referring to social conventions and the like.

        I’m not sure. My over-riding impression from the month or so I spent in the States last year was that the vast majority of Americans were ultra respectful of the ‘law’ and myriad prohibitions. Apart from the 2 million un-law-abiding who were obliged to live in ‘another place’…… Of course a lot of that says things about my expectations.

        Overall I think I agree with you. Pursuing outright and obvious freedoms and ‘liberty’ is no guarantee that what you end up with is ‘freedom’

      • Anteros -

        re: Norway and Sweden – having such an homogenous population doesn’t hurt.

        My over-riding impression from the month or so I spent in the States last year was that the vast majority of Americans were ultra respectful of the ‘law’ and myriad prohibitions. Apart from the 2 million un-law-abiding who were obliged to live in ‘another place’……

        Yeah – we have an extraordinarily high incarceration rate. What is it – 5% of the population and 25% of the prisoners? Go figure. (Blame the absurd “war on drugs” for most of that).

        In Philly, we cross the street pretty much regardless of the traffic light. Just as long as we can make it across more or less safely, we go for it. In California they give you the evil eye if you try crossing against the light.

      • Joshua -
        Fair point about the homogeneity – the books I’ve been reading never mentioned that!
        *
        And trying to treat a big chunk of a continent as a ‘country’ is always going to give you a few headaches.
        *
        Is it politic to mention the European observation that incarceration has a noticeable correlation with colour (and wealth)? The wealth thing is true here but I think the skin colour not quite so much.

      • Anteros -

        Both of those correlations are very strong – no doubt. You’ll get all kinds of arguments about causation from Americans, however.

    • Joshua

      As a citizen of the US, if the US entered into such a treaty that we agreed to pay other countries for the “harms” we have done to them because of our CO2 emissions- I would pay my taxes as I have always done. I would also work to get a change of goverment implemented so that such a treaty would not be implemented or voided.

      Just to make it more clear

    • Joshua

      BTW—When you wrote-
      “I am much more willing to consider international agreements to help poor countries deal with potentially disproportionate impacts of climate change because I feel that such agreements are within the control of our citizenry.”
      You really misunderstood the difference in our views.

      When I wrote “forced to pay higher taxes” in regards to the US paying other countries because of our CO2 emissions, I was not thinking in terms of literally being forced under threat of physical harm or that citizens do not control our government. I don’t know that you have any different view than I about the control of the government by our citizens.

      You do seem to have a different view as to whether such a payment should be authorized by our government based on the net harms the US has caused, and whether the limited resources of the US could be better spent helping the US vs. sending funds to other countries.

  6. The idea that scientific knowledge has a provisional nature seems to contradict much of what I hear, see and read in regard to the ability of science to discover truth, and the intransigent positions so many people seem to take on scientific issues. There should be a huge disclaimer to this effect on the front cover of Nature, New Scientist, Scientific American, and every other journal or popular publication that sets out to `educate’ the public.

    I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told off by other people for disagreeing or being sceptical of scientific “facts” that are in the public domain. It seems to me that people have a completely mysterious faith in the integrity of the scientific method, even though everything they know about the Human condition should tell them to beware.

  7. I found the article interesting. I would add two words about what psychologists have found about biases in risk assessment.
    The use of rapid and almost intuitive assessment in day-to-day decisions such as crossing the street has been highlighted by the very interesting experiments of Gerd Gigerenzer. See for instance his books “Reckoning with risk”, “Calculated risk”, “Gut feelings”, and “Adaptive thinking: Rationality in the real world”, and most especially his book with Nobel prize winning Reinhard Selten, “Bounded rationality: The adaptive toolbox”; he underlines the importance of so-called “frugal” decision rules applied by people to complex decision problems under uncertainty encountered in their ordinary lives. He found most of the judgments made in such manner are right (relative to the outcome, or compared with the most mathematically sophisticated procedures to achieve such decisions) , even if the people are not aware of what is going on in their minds.
    On the other hand there is the quite interesting work of Nobel-prize winning Daniel Kahneman, especially his pioneering work with the late Amos Tversky, on biases and errors of judgment in problems involving probability calculus. They may not agree with Gigerenzer on all aspects, but I think they are complementary. For instance, they have studied the very common error of doctors that miscalculate the odds that a person is actually infected with HIV after two successive tests give a positive answer (even highly trained professionals such as doctors fail to understand the rules of accounting for false positives and false negatives).. Gigerenzer emphasizes that these mistakes are not commonly made in ordinary life, when people is not confronted with probability figures and with the need of probability computing, but easily arise when people are confronted with probabilities, error margins, confidence intervals and levels of significance. Our mind, apparently, has not evolved the ability to intuitively deal with the latter kind of problems, and thus “mistakes are made” very often in those situations. Major works by Kahneman and his school include his seminal papers with Tversky in 1972 (“Subjective probability: A judgment of representativeness”, Cognitive Psychology 3:430-454) and 1973 (“On the psychology of prediction”, Psychological Review 80:237-251), and several other papers in the 1970s and 1980s. Also the books edited by Kahneman, Slovic and Tversky (“Judgment under uncertainty; Heuristics and biases”, CUP 1982); by Kahneman and Tversky (“Choices, values and frames”, CUP, 2000) and by Gilovich, Griffin and Kahnemann (“Heuristics and biases: The psychology of intuitive judgment”, CUP 2002). A recent book by Kahneman summarizes his findings in a less technical way (“Thinking, fast and slow”, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, New York, 2011).
    The failure of scientists to consider opposite hypotheses or to bravely and critically explore the weaknesses of their own pet theories is also well documented, including egregious examples as the fruitless fight of Einstein against quantum physics or his fruitless search for a cosmological constant, not to mention Agassiz principled objections to evolution and many others.

    “Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases” (CUP), ,

    (“Intuitive prediction: Biases and correcting procedures”,

    • He found most of the judgments made in such manner are right (relative to the outcome, or compared with the most mathematically sophisticated procedures to achieve such decisions) , even if the people are not aware of what is going on in their minds.

      Along different but related lines, I have found it interesting to read studies that show that people who make decisions among various options relatively quickly are generally happier in the long run with their choices (in that sense, make “better” choices) than people who spend a lot of time going over minute details before making their choices. I think this may relate to the question of how perception of “control” affects perception of risk. People who spend a lot of time going over the minute details are control freaks, and probably have, in general, a different attitude towards risk (are more risk adverse).

      I’m in the process of reading this book:

      I would suggest that Judith assign it as required reading for her “denizens.”

      • The failure of scientists to consider opposite hypotheses or to bravely and critically explore the weaknesses of their own pet theories is also well documented, including egregious examples as the fruitless fight of Einstein against quantum physics or his fruitless search for a cosmological constant, not to mention Agassiz principled objections to evolution and many others.

        The patterns of thinking you’re speaking about are not exclusive to scientists. Certainly, a knowledge of statistics does not necessarily change how all scientists explore all issues, but neither does a knowledge of statistics set apart the analysis of scientists from anyone else

      • The difference being, when you’re Einstein, there’s not much of a precedent to look for to try to figure out whether or not to spend your life on the fruitless search.

      • ceteris non paribus


        I have found it interesting to read studies that show that people who make decisions among various options relatively quickly are generally happier in the long run with their choices (in that sense, make “better” choices) than people who spend a lot of time going over minute details before making their choices.

        Interesting. Are the people who make ‘quick’ decisions happier because they make better decisions – or because they are better at post-rationalization?

      • Interesting. Are the people who make ‘quick’ decisions happier because they make better decisions – or because they are better at post-rationalization?

        Heh. Could be. I’m not sure whether they tried to use some “objective” measure of the quality of the decisions.

        Related to your point – my personal experience is that I tend to be less happy with my decisions – a “buyer’s remorse” – because I do a thorough evaluation of all the pluses and minuses or each option – so I’m very familiar with the downsides of whichever choice I make. So yeah – I don’t think it’s a matter of being worse at post-rationalization, but it’s a related phenomenon.

      • i’ve been reading about this also, will probably do a post on it

      • Joshua,

        I too have found that folks process information in different ways. I came across “Experiential Learning Theory” a few years back
        http://iteslj.org/Articles/Kelly-Experiential/ and I found it helpful when trying to communicate with scientists, engineers and management groups.

      • Mark M -

        Thanks for that link. I use a lot of very similar material (exploring in an ESL-like context working with people from different cultures/nationalities on the interconnections between culture, language, nationality, learning and cognitive styles, and communication).

        I’m a big believer in the importance of experiential learning (and related work on meta-cognition) in educational contexts.

      • ceteris non paribus

        From what little I’ve read on this – post-rationalization figures heavily in most people’s assessment of their own decisions, particularly those decisions whose outcomes are not easily reversible. We hardly ever talk about our Bayesian priors, and game-theoretic decision matrices after having made a decision. Perhaps this post-hoc strategy could have adaptive benefits over the ‘remorseful worry-wart’ approach.

        But in the context of science, decisions ought to be constrained less by personal assessment and reflection than evidence and arguments.
        I suppose the challenge in many cases is knowing where the science ends and personal opinion begins.

      • A related consideration:

        Although intuitive processes are critical for effective strategic decision making, there is little in the way of applied research on the topic. Apart from many popularized treatments of intuition in the literature today, there are only a handful of serious scholarly works on the subject. The majority of them are essentially theoretical in nature; field research in management settings is virtually nonexistent. This study examined this neglected but important process in strategic decision making. We surveyed senior managers of companies representing computer, banking, and utility industries in the United States and found that intuitive processes are used often in organizational decision making. Use of intuitive synthesis was found to be positively associated with organizational performance in an unstable environment, but negatively so in a stable environment.

        http://hum.sagepub.com/content/53/1/57.short

        Related:

        Faculty from 4 universities, including Stanford, conducted 4 studies involving over 230 students. Participants were asked to make decisions based on a feeling‐focused, reason‐focused, and no specific strategy.

        Findings: “Results indicated that focusing on feelings versus details led to superior objective and subjective decision quality for complex decisions.”

        http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&ved=0CFoQFjAG&url=http%3A%2F%2Fcontentdm.umuc.edu%2Fcdm%2Fsingleitem%2Fcollection%2Fp15434coll5%2Fid%2F1071%2Frec%2F12&ei=az4YT7ieK4ng0QHmlam-Cw&usg=AFQjCNECB6JMAutne9y4Lgb7OBdtN5F18w

        I recently heard about an interesting technique: to incorporate the positive influence of intuition in decision-making, flip a coin when you’re considering two options that seem more or less equally valid. Then try to see how you feel, intuitively, about the outcome of the coin flip and decide based on that feeling (not the outcome of the coin-flip itself).

      • ‘people who spend a lot of time going over minute details before making their choices.’

        I know one dude who does spreadsheets before buying a toaster.
        He’s got issues.

      • I know a guy who constantly insults me in blog comments and thinks he has a “window into [my] soul.”

        Does he have issues?

      • Joshua,

        I have a dog eared book in my library by Henry Mitzberg http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Strategic-Planning-Henry-Mintzberg/dp/0029216052 that I pull out everyone in awhile that you might find of interest. I thought Mitzberg does a good job in getting to the why/how knowledge synthesis is different then analysis… or “that strategy cannot be planned because planning is about analysis and strategy is about synthesis. That is why, he asserts, the process has failed so often and so dramatically.”

        During my breakfast out with my wife this morning, at a favorite local spot of ours, I had a chance to read our local (regional not my town) paper the Sacramento Bee. Like you I’m a big “believer in the importance of experiential learning.” I am a firm believer in prototypes as they are one of the fastest ways to get some experiments in to test out how things work in the real world. For me the faster I can get to the feedback loop of experiential learning the better. So what does this have to do with the Sac Bee and my breakfast: well our state, like others in the USA is trying to figure out what to do next to improve things for our residents. Governor Brown just finished up his state of the state address. I found the option piece by Dan Walters http://www.sacbee.com/2012/01/19/4198219/dan-walters-jerry-brown-puts-his.html entitled- “Governor puts his contradictions on display” to be a rather interesting look at strategy and risk. As Dan says…” If he (the governor) pulls it off, he’ll go down as a visionary. If it fails (his strategy), he’ll go down as a narcissistic daydreamer.”

        So stay tuned to see how things work out for us out here in CA. Personally, I don’t think the 30+ year development of the hardware and software technological advancements that have given us the IT revolution, noted as an example by the governor, is a good analogy to the energy field- intuitively. Working out why I feel this will take a little contemplation…. http://psychology.about.com/od/behavioralpsychology/ss/behaviorchange_4.htm

      • The spreadsheet / toaster one was pretty funny.

      • Somebody said, “I know one dude who does spreadsheets before buying a toaster. He’s got issues.”

        IT’S NOT A TOASTER! It is a Hamilton Beach countertop convection oven with rotisserie, large enough for TWO 12″ pizzas for Pete’s sake. :)

      • <IT’S NOT A TOASTER! It is a Hamilton Beach countertop convection oven with rotisserie, large enough for TWO 12″ pizzas for Pete’s sake.

        White, or chrome? ‘

        DON’T TELL ME YOU WENT WITH THE WHITE!!

    • “For instance, they have studied the very common error of doctors that miscalculate the odds that a person is actually infected with HIV after two successive tests give a positive answer (even highly trained professionals such as doctors fail to understand the rules of accounting for false positives and false negatives)….”

      Absolutely.

      People are often tripped up by this one.

  8. Sorry, two titles I had copied in a draft for my comment got unnecessarily printed at the end. No great harm done, I guess.

  9. Science communicators? Why? The most important is the communication between natural phenomena (reality) and scientists.

    Science doesn’t need propaganda.

    • ceteris non paribus


      Science doesn’t need propaganda.

      True.
      But “science communication” does not equal “propaganda”.
      Unless you are a fundamentalist, an anti-vaxer, or a post-modernist.

      • cnp,
        Others, as well as myself, have pointed out for years that what AGW claims is ‘communication’ actually fits the description of propaganda much better.

  10. Risk assesment does not exist alone. It’s always coupled with benefit assesment – risk vs. benefit for the contemplated action (like crossing the street).
    In climate policy the equation is simple: there is no benefit in the recommended policies (wind and solar energy). Not even risk reduction. (Risk of climate related damage). These policies are totally ineffective, so there is no need for deep soul searching and kvetching.

  11. Interesting stuff.
    Following Joshua’s example I think Dan Gardener’s ‘Future Babble’ should be required reading for all denizens – and lurkers and passers by and everyone’s spouses too. Crikey, even Web can read it ‘cos it has lots of numbers in it not just anecdotes. The take-home for me was that experts are at least as bad at predicting the future as the man on the Clapham omnibus.

    Unless I skimmed over it, something I felt missing from the above article was the fact that in many important areas of our life the subject of our risk perception is also something not quantifiable – it needs a meaning assessment too. We’re not always in the position of thinking like the London cyclist about the risk of a fatality [or in my case, as a London motorcyclist, how many cyclists I'm likely to kill before I reach my destination]

    For instance, in the climate debate many people have worries about ecosystems, and feel that a change in an ecosystem is synonmous with damage or destruction. A very different view – and my own as it happens – is that ecosystems are generally vulnerable to damage in the way that clouds or rivers are ie not at all. A relatively short time ago, the Great Barrier Reef was…… a eucalyptus forest, and maybe the locals had a long enough view to see the changes as they occurred (and are still occurring). Some might have seen natural, interesting, even energising change; others may have witnessed the damage and destruction.

    So, when we talk about the future and ‘risk’, we may find that it is not only our risk perception that differs from our fellows, but our meaning perception too.

    • ceteris non paribus

      I’ll second a recommendation of anything by Dan Gardner.

      BTW – He’s one of the few columnists with the Ottawa Citizen who is not certifiably insane.

      For a painful lesson in contrast, read the navel-gazing of David Warren:
      http://www.ottawacitizen.com/columnists/lessons+history/5942772/story.html

      • You’re right – painful indeed.
        Although I had to laugh when he talked about “a new psychotic kim”…

      • A reference to our much-beloved kim? So, Warren reads Climate Etc.?

      • ceteris non paribus

        I’ll have to grant that “new psychotic Kim” is pretty funny.

        At least until you realize that Warren’s world-view would actually fit perfectly in North Korea – if the name “Kim” were changed to “Ratzinger”.

      • Poor Kim. I like Kim. Now Kim is not only a ‘bot but psychotic to boot. This is drive-by character assasination!

    • “The take-home for me was that experts are at least as bad at predicting the future as the man on the Clapham omnibus”.

      And just what is wrong wity me catching the Clapham omnibus home from work?

  12. I have Dr. Curry as a marginal Hierarchists with doubts. The focus on “communication” is at best amusing since she hides her core views and uses the subject of communication to rationalize control of the topics at hand.

  13. Looking for keys under a lamp post may be a good way to describe the state of climate science. Since green house gases are “high school physics” and easy to model on a global scale, they get the attention in the models. Meanwhile, clouds, precipitation, ocean cirulation, the coupling of the ocean circulation atmoshere, etc, (the really hard stuff) gets parameterized. A decade from now, if the temperatures cool slightly as those who ascribe the 20th century temperature cycles to ocean circulation predict it will, the desire to attribute all changes to what is easily modeled (looking for keys under the lights) will be seen as the reason climate science went off track and took a pause in advancing climate understanding.

    • I agree. Climate science badly needs bolstering.

    • ceteris non paribus


      A decade from now, if the temperatures cool slightly as those who ascribe the 20th century temperature cycles to ocean circulation predict it will, the desire to attribute all changes to what is easily modeled (looking for keys under the lights) will be seen as the reason climate science went off track and took a pause in advancing climate understanding.

      A fascinating account of a future retrospective of climate change attributions based on an ease-of-modelling parameterization.

      And if the temperatures don’t in fact “cool slightly” what will the reason be that climate science went off track?

      • If the temperature doesn’t cool in the next decade when many natural factors are stacked up against warming then there may be more to AGW theory than skeptics like me think. Mother nature gets the only vote to determine whose theory best fits the data..

      • ceteris non paribus

        sean:
        Thanks for being a skeptic that might be willing to change his mind in ten years. I just hope you weren’t saying the same thing ten years ago.

      • cnp,
        I was a believer in AGW who became a skeptic about ten years ago.
        Where does that fall in the current believer cosmology?

      • Actually, 10 years ago we were all looking at the hockey stick graph and going, holy crap there really is a problem. Then a meteorologist who made very good seasonal predictions based on ocean temperature distributions and a couple of other parameters said, as soon as the PDO returns to its cool phase, the temperatures will stop rising. So far, his predictions have held up better than a lot of climatologists. These guys also predicted before the fact that we’d have nasty violent weather this past spring and summer because of these same ocean set ups and a cold PDO. When they came to pass, the climatologists who had not predicted these ahead of time, claimed climate change was to blame. Well climate change may just be the culprit but its more likely due to large temperature contrasts from cooling that’s taking place. I trust people who make good simple predictions rather much more than those who make exquisite rationalizations after the fact.

      • ceteris non paribus

        hunter asks:

        I was a believer in AGW who became a skeptic about ten years ago. Where does that fall in the current believer cosmology?

        and sean declares:

        Then a meteorologist who made very good seasonal predictions based on ocean temperature distributions and a couple of other parameters said, as soon as the PDO returns to its cool phase, the temperatures will stop rising. So far, his predictions have held up better than a lot of climatologists…. I trust people who make good simple predictions rather much more than those who make exquisite rationalizations after the fact.

        As I said to Dr. Curry upstream “aren’t identity politics fun”?

        Good luck finding your science “comfort zone”, guys.

      • cnp,
        One tell of someone with no real case is to answer straightforward questions with gibberish.
        Perhaps you can make yourself clearer?

      • When you were all lookimg at the hockey stick 19 years ago, did none of you even wonder about whether tree rings were likely to be good proxies for temperatures? None of you ever thought about rainfall? Or lived in a hot dry area? Pondered on what ‘teleconnections’ might be?

        Or were you all so wrapped up in statistical shenanigans that you never bothered to think at all about the physical mechanisms supposedly involved in all your supposed discoveries.

        Because in my one-time branch of science – chemistry..the very next question after ‘what does it do?’ is usually ‘how does it do it?’.

        Do climatologists not have that particular question always in mind? So long as they can ‘find’ a pattern in some data (or torture it far enough as to ‘find’ it), does their curiosity stop? ‘It’s there and that’s all there is to it’ is good enough?

        And when the supposed discoverers don’t produce the data and the code so that others may share in their revelations, does nobody stop to wonder if everything is all as it should be?

        Because if all these things are true, then you must all be a very, very incurious bunch. I have this very nice perpetual motion machine, lubricated by oleum viprum I might be persuaded to sell at the right price….

      • Oops

        10 years ago….

  14. Risk assessment is one area where we all fall flat on our faces.

    For example, asked to assess the risks of various types of energy generation, nuclear power always comes out as the riskiest, and things like solar least risky. Look at the actual stats and the picture inverts.

    The question people ask is ‘who or what is imposing this risk on me?’. There are three types of imposition:

    (1) If I’m voluntarily climbing a mountain or installing a solar panel on the roof using a dodgy ladder, that’s ok. I’m in control of my risk level.

    (2) If other people are imposing this risk on me (Mr Burns threatening me with awful hidden radiation) that’s not ok. I must be fearful and protest.

    (3) If the impersonal forces of nature are imposing the threat (my life is ‘nasty, brutish and short’ and I am in danger of dying every day from disease and poverty) then I want to get rich, even if this increases the risks of type 2.

    The source of the ‘risk’ matters as much as the perceived level of risk.

    Normal climate change would be type 3. We would try to mobilise our resources to put ourselves beyond the reach of cruel natural fluctuations such as the LIA.

    AGW has turned the risk into type (2), so people protest. It’s brilliant propoganda to co-opt the weather in support of the ‘man = evil; nature = good’ viewpoint, which is the preserve of those who have seldom been exposed to natural dangers. And if the risk can be constantly exaggerated by some scientists and the political structures built up around them, so much the better.

    • cui bono -

      AGW has turned the risk into type (2), so people protest. It’s brilliant propoganda to co-opt the weather in support of the ‘man = evil; nature = good’ viewpoint, which is the preserve of those who have seldom been exposed to natural dangers. And if the risk can be constantly exaggerated by some scientists and the political structures built up around them, so much the better.

      You are ignoring the differences in perception w/r/t “control.”

      For example: One might say that the fossil fuel industry is, without my having any measure of control, imposing a risky experiment on the globe even as it defouls the environment.

      The point is that people “protest” selectively, based on myriad reasons and personal and historical antecedents, and a perception of control is one of those reasons.

      • Hi Joshua,

        In a way the whole purpose of AGW is to change the perception of risk. Or at least the source of the risk, from nature to man.

        When in 1976 the UK fried up in a 6-month rainless heatwave, people said ‘bloody weather’.

        Now they would say ‘curse Big Oil, and its paid accolytes on Climate Etc!’

      • cui bono -

        In a way the whole purpose of “climate skepticism” is to change the perception of risk. Or at least the source of the risk, from anthropogenic CO2 to an elitist/eco-Nazi/socialist/fraud scientist/mistake-making/pal review gate-keeping/statist/AGW cabal.

        When scientists started noting the physics of introducing CO2 into the atmosphere, people said “bloody anthropogenic CO2.”

        Now they would say ‘curse those scientists and those tyrants at RealClimate, silencing me forever by striking my comments from one blog’

    • cui bono,
      Good take. There is the misanthropic stench associated with so much of AGW over the years.

      • ceteris non paribus

        hunter:
        Please note that some people can and do admit to themselves that their decisions sometimes have negative consequences – without immediately dissolving into a shallow puddle of anti-human self-hatred.
        They’re called “adults”.

      • cnp,
        Best wishes in getting more adults involved in the AGW believer side of the issue. ;^)

  15. tony -

    I am a chronicler, why is that so hard to believe-its a job that very few other people do and therefore broader historical context is lost as regards climate. I like history and I like context.

    I buy all of that. I also think that you have a working “theory”: that being, your historical (and anecdotal?) data disproves the theory that recent warming is anomalous (a “counter-theory,” as it were). Otherwise, as I see it, your collection of anecdotes would be incoherent within the context of the climate debate. It’s really a rather superficial/unimportant question, and it may hinge on a semantic argument about what “theory” means.

    That isn’t to diminish the value or interesting nature of the data you are collecting – but it is to question how to quantify its value within the climate debate context.

    • Joshua

      Tell you what, why don’t you and Web Hub telescope come up with a theory for me? I favour dinosaurs and aliens so I can truly earn WHT crank status.
      tonyb.

    • you’ve just destroyed the usefulness of the term theory.

      AGW has a theory: Add more GHGs and the planet will warm.
      It has evidence for that theory. one bit of evidence is that it is warmer
      now that it has ever been in the past 2000 years.

      I accept the theory. I do not think that evidence is correct or relevant to the theory. Tonyb does not have a counter theory. he has facts which he would like the theory to account for.

      Please stop abusing the language and go do a toaster spreadsheet

      • you’ve just destroyed the usefulness of the term theory.

        Another error in your thinking, steven. I haven’t “destroyed” anything. The usefulness of the term has not changed one iota by virtue of anything that I’ve said in a blog post. You’re tribalism and lack of clarity in thought are showing again.

        Tonyb does not have a counter theory. he has facts which he would like the theory to account for.

        I’ve explained my rationale for why I interpret tony’s contributions to be evidence that he has a counter-theory: that his anecdotal? evidence disproves a theory of anomalous warming.

        He says he doesn’t have a theory, and you concur. So be it. That’s why god invented blog comments.

      • Theories can be provided on demand.

      • steven mosher

        I’d add to your comment that tonyb does not have to have a theory.

        As a reporter of climate history, he can simply list the information he has been able to gather and use it to question climate theories that are out there.

        If his data show that there have been significant fluctuations in our planet’s climate long before there was any real industrialization, he can raise the question whether or not industrialization (and CO2 emissions resulting from it) has really played a major role in shaping our more recent climate, without having to propose an alternate theory of why these changes occurred.

        Besides, he has the knack for making a pretty dry and boring topic, such as past climate, interesting by tossing in anecdotal information tied to the time period he is studying. Makes his reports good reading in addition to being informative.

        Max

      • Max et al -

        I’m on the non-theory side. I like too the idea that a body of information can be coherent, and asking to be taken into consideration by a theory, but not itself be a theory. And it can also be asking if it doesn’t cast some doubt over that theory without necessarily being an alternative or ‘counter’ theory.

        In fact I’ll volunteer a post on -

        “Does the historical climate research by tonyb (and its manner of presentation) constitute a theory?”

        And we’ll all come to the happy realisation as to why the best synonym for ‘academic’ is ‘irrelevant’.

        Doesn’t stop it being interesting tho’

        BTW. Where is kim these days? I sincerely hope that sock puppetry didn’t cause a bot-implosion.
        Turing test or not, kim is a +

      • The Miss Anne Elk identity has already been taken up by the one and only HAP, who wrote in this blog’s comments the other day:

        “Comparing two different Curve Fits of temperature data does not have anything to say about my Theory. No one should care if an astronomically based curve fit is better or worse than a general circulation curve fit. Actual Ice Core Data supports my Theory. Every time it gets warm and opens the Arctic, it then gets cool. Every time it gets cool and the Arctic closes, it then gets warm. “

        (My emphasis for the hearing impaired) So HAP not only does a passable Chauncey Gardner, he also does a Miss Anne Elk impression, making him all purpose. See the clown list for a deeper analysis.


        As far as the theory of using subjective, qualitative data, yes that is a theory and it is known as qualitative reasoning in AI and cognitive science circles. The application to a specific domain, such as understanding historical data trends, is only as good as the underlying data inferencing method it uses. Since qualitative reasoning is still a research topic, it really only works well if the enumerated states, such as “high temperature”, “nominal temperature”, amd “low temperature” are well calibrated. Any subjectivity, bias, or drift screws up the entire analysis, which means it is hopeless to do any kind of verification or uncertainty analysis if nothing is calibrated.

        However, if you want to apply it to the social sciences, go ahead, as researchers will try just about anything to make any headway.

      • there is no theory of anomalous warming Joshua. As I explained its a piece of evidence used to bolster the AGW theory.

        Stop mangling our science and go hi jack a thread

      • there is no theory of anomalous warming Joshua.

        Really? My bad.

        I thought that a theory that anthropogenically emitted CO2 would cause warming (even to a very small degree) would be a theory of anomalous warming – since before humans emitted CO2 into the atmosphere there was no anthropogenically emitted CO2, and thus any anthopogenically emitted CO2 would cause anomalous warming.

        But hey, what do I know?

        .

      • Joshua -
        If you only accepted that Mosher is one of your own (AGW believer, self-described non-skeptic and advocate of judicious actions to limit Co2 emissions) you could be gaining some serious kudos for increasing your balanced criticism reputation.

        I don’t know what it would mean, but I thought it worth pointing out..

      • Anteros –

        I “accept” all those things about mosher. I think that he obviously knows the science quite well – and from what I can tell (without the intelligence or expertise needed to evaluate comprehensively), he reasons well when he’s discussing the science.

        What I don’t “accept” is the laughable reasoning that he displays at times when he addresses me, and sometimes others. I appreciate his loyalty to Judith and his friends, and I admire his pluck – but his propensity to reduce himself to juvenile insulting just is what it is.

      • dear god Joshua, that is a CONSEQUENCE of the theory, not the theory.

        The theory is that if you add GHGs to the atmosphere, then temperatures will rise all other things being equal.

        Evidence for that is the current temperature rise.
        more evidence of that is that the apparent rise is likely to be unprecedented when compared to past temperatures.

        please. toaster spreadsheets. chop chop

      • steven -

        The theory is that if you add GHGs to the atmosphere, then temperatures will rise all other things being equal.

        Precisely. Which means that the theory is that anthropogenic CO2 would cause anomalous warming – i.e., warming that is not “normal,” or “standard” as defined by the entire history of the planet prior to humans emitting CO2.

      • Personally I have no interest in whether tonyb’s research equates to a “theory”. The only interesting question (for me) is “does tonyb’s research contradict the theory that increasing GHGs will warm the planet and the predicted consequences of that theory?”. To which the answer is “no”, although that does not mean his research is not interesting or useful.

      • steven mosher

        “Precisely. Which means that the theory is that anthropogenic CO2 would cause anomalous warming – i.e., warming that is not “normal,” or “standard” as defined by the entire history of the planet prior to humans emitting CO2.”

        Wrong. that is not what the theory implies. C02 will cause anomalous warming IF all other things are equal. So, for example, if the sun were brighter, much brighter, in the past, then dimmed, C02 may or may not give you warming that outpaced warming of the past.

        In fact, if you go back far enough you will find periods were the planet was much warmer. Those observations confirm the theory.

        You continue to mix up the theory ( which is math that describes how physical process work ) with predictions, reconstructions, and observations.

        The theory is the math and nothing but the math. the abstract equations.

      • steven -

        That’s impressive. You manage to completely contradict yourself in two consecutive posts:

        The theory is that if you add GHGs to the atmosphere, then temperatures will rise all other things being equal.

        and

        You continue to mix up the theory ( which is math that describes how physical process work ) with predictions, reconstructions, and observations.

        Not to mention, steven, there CO2 causing warming and anthropogenic CO2 causing anomalous warming are two distinct theories.

        Anyway, as I said above and as andrew concurred, this debate is really even less meaningful than most blog debates. If your content that directly contradicting yourself in consecutive posts means you win the debate, more power to you. I’m done on this topic.

      • You poor man Josh, you really are impervious to the absolute ridicule that statement deserves.

        “The theory is that if you add GHGs to the atmosphere, then temperatures will rise all other things being equal”.

        Screw Einstein, he was a goose. E=Mc2.

      • Uh,oh! Steven. The semantic quibbler with all the strawmen has attempted to actually discuss the science. Last report is that he has declared himself victorious and he is done with you. He must be drinking early this fine Friday. He claims to have a “girlfriend” now.

      • Josh, go back to school, after you are taught that heat is a manifestation of energy, come back and you can discuss issues with a little bit more intelligence.

  16. I suspect all scientists have at least one paper that they never ever forget.
    Here’s one of mine on this topic, given to me by a member of my academic comittee when I was a grad student. Alas, it is not free, but it ought to be.

    Communicating statistical information.
    Hoffrage, Ulrich;Lindsey, Samuel;Hertwig, Ralph;Gigerenzer, Gerd
    Science, Vol 290(5500), Dec 2000, 2261-2262. doi: 10.1126/science.290.5500.2261

  17. It is reasonable to point out that AGW has an obsession with communication. However communication, like so many words in the AGW lexicon, is used in ways not normally thought of. “Communication” in AGW-speak means “silence critics and get our way in the public square”. and especailly to silence them when the failures of AGW predictions and policies threatens to be discussed.

    • It’s just a version of broader LiberalSpeak. From economics prof at Newmark’s Door: “little recognized but true: when a Liberal calls for an “overdue debate” he actually means that conservatives are wrong and need to shut up now.”

      http://www.newmarksdoor.com/mainblog/2012/01/a-few-words-on-one-of-the-dopiest-criticisms-of-a-politician-in-my-lifetime.html

      An even better line (though unrelated) from the same post — “that Republicans Gingrich and Perry echoed this dopey criticism is really discouraging. I’d be happy to trade them both to Cuba for $19.95 and a Commie to be named later.”

    • That’s very correct Hunter. Sadly, Dr. Curry supports the “coded speak” all the time. In a way it’s like a farm subside to the Robert, Martha, Joshua sheeple who would have a harder time enduring in an honest but decoded debate. This is why liberals always talk and agree with each other FIRST and how “consensus” really means “we decided before you arrived”. “Settled science” means the same thing.

      Again, it’s all in “1984″, Word Destruction and New Speak. AGW is filled common example like AGW itself being reinvented from “Global Warming” and then being sent to a Memory Hole to be reinvented as “Climate Change” with an altered narrative once again. The goal of course is to obfuscate the poor predictions of the past when co2 and greenhouse gas predictions were central.

      Very few people I can think of call Dr. Curry out when she evades and I take grief from skeptics all the time when I point it out.

      • cwon14,
        I see Dr. Curry as one of the good guys. I don’t understand why you are on her case so hard and so often. Frankly I see her taking real risks with her standing and her career in going as far as she does. Additionally, she is a gracious and interesting hostess.
        Her social ‘delta vee’ is leaving that which we both correctly see as flawed and moving towards a reasonable and nuanced view of this. My view towards that is to support her in that, and to be civil towards her out of appreciation and respect for work in this blog site.

      • hunter,

        You gotta wonder why he doesn’t take his act over to RealClimate, where he can incessantly lambaste some real villains. Or maybe he already tried that and got the proverbial boot up the butt.

      • Hunter,

        Asking a question that is very basic to the core public debate isn’t uncivil. She chooses not to reply to the topic, she finds regretably finds skeptical support for the decision. I’ve gotten pretty beat up of late on the point.

        It’s a progress stopper. The stakes are too high to pretend this is an obscure academic/science dispute. It’s a massive social agenda with very identifiable players involved. Refusal to utter their names or groups is a subside of the worst sort of political correctness. I can only ask you to reconsider but that’s the way it goes. I’m unchanged….it’s too important a point. That a bogus consensus controls the narrative is appauling enough, to pretend and cave in that their political associations and preferences are removed from questioning given the last 25 years is spineless and bedwetting skepticism at best.

        This isn’t even centrally about her politics for the record, as if this is a sacred civility cow of some sort. Which it isn’t. She can’t state the obvious that the core AGW followers and climate science nucleus share an eco-left center of gravity? That crosses a line?

        Small wonder the scam reached these levels. The blog is in a bubble if you think many people off the reservation don’t share my views on direct and honest political disclosures. It’s like excusing repression in China because
        they aren’t as bad as they use to be. A poor comparative relational value system if there ever was one.

        Think about it.

    • randomengineer

      Go check out “thehill.com” where you will find that 6 dems have proposed a “reasonable profits board” aimed at oil companies.

      I’d say that THAT is communicating.

      • I wonder if the proposed board will be able to tell if Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq- those countries that can extract a barrel of oil for about 2 bucks- are making reasonable profits.

      • Another co-oped word? Consider what Clinton did with the word “fair”??? Another permanently corrupted word in the liberal lexicon.

  18. As Mark Levin says about utopianism in his new book, Ameritopia, “Radical egalitarianism or the perfectibility of mankind is an ongoing process of individual societal transformation that must cast off the limtis of history, tradition, and experience for that which is said to be necessary, novel, progressive, and inevitable. Ironically, inconvenient facts and evidence must be rejected or manipulated, as must the very nature of man, for utopianism is a fantasy that evolves into a dogmatic cause, which, in turn, manifests a holy truth for a false religion. There is little or no tolerance for the individual’s deviation from orthodoxy lest it threaten the survival of the enterprise.” The foregoing has not been approved by Al Gore.

    • Wag,

      When I see stuff like that quote, it reminds me why I have one of those inspirational posters in my office titled “The M67 Fragmentation Grenade – when “F*%# You” simply isn’t getting the point across.”

  19. Judith Curry

    John Adams’ treatise: Not 100% sure? The public understanding of risk is a good read.

    It starts off by separating risks into three separate, but partly overlapping categories: those “perceived directly”, those ”perceived through science” and ”virtual risks”.

    The first two categories are essentially the same. Both are fairly strong risks as they are both based on empirical evidence, with the distinction that scientific training is needed to perceive the first category.

    The third category, ”virtual risks” are weaker risks in that they are not based on empirical evidence perceived by actual physical observations, but rather on theoretical deliberations.

    Adams described what he calls the ”risk thermostat” – a safety/danger analysis with built-in ”perceptual filters”, which influence the ”propensity” to take risk. He states:

    The greater the uncertainty the greater becomes the influence of perceptual filters

    Let’s look at the premise that there is a risk of CAGW resulting principally from human CO2 emissions, as postulated by IPCC (and the “mainstream consensus” climate scientists).

    This falls into Adams’ category of “virtual risk” rather than either ”risk perceived directly” or ”risk perceived through science”. It is not supported by empirical evidence derived from actual physical observations or reproducible experimentation, but rather on computer model simulations backed by theoretical deliberations and assumed storylines and scenarios.

    In addition, the uncertainties relating to the existence or extent of this risk are great.

    In other words, the “perceptual filter” will play a major role in how the public understands and assesses this risk.

    IMO, Adams ignores one key aspect, which has played a decisive role in the case of the ”public understanding” of the risk of CAGW: TRUST.

    The Climategate, etc. revelations of data manipulation and other shenanigans by the IPCC and the “mainstream climate scientists” have dramatically changed the public trust and confidence in the IPCC message that CAGW represents a real potential risk. The premise that a risk exists has further been undermined by a lack of warming over the past decade despite CO2 levels reaching record highs.

    In effect, this has short-circuited Adams’ “risk thermostat” by introducing ”lack of trust” as an overriding ”perceptual filter” in evaluating whether or not there even is a risk in the first place.

    Max

    • Max, good post, but I was puzzled by your statement that risks ““perceived directly”, and those ”perceived through science” were essentially the same category.

      Surely the first category includes all sorts of risks that are scarcely, if at all, informed by science. Like the risk of war, or the risk of being caught in bed with your neighbour’s wife. Surely this is an important distinction.

      But your post raised another issue that I see pertinent to the CAGW craze, and its predecessors, like Y2K, BSE, etc. That is, I suspect that humans are adapted to a certain level of circumstantial risk, and that for about half a century much of the western world has been experiencing considerably lower level of “perceived risk” than it finds comfortable. This shortfall of “perceived risk” leads to a condition of angst (rather like Durkheim’s anomie), which manifests as a compulsive guilt/penitence complex. In the long run western man has made good the shortfall in “perceived risk” from “virtual risk”, and has if necessary, manufactured it. This is a gloomy analysis, since it suggests that once CAGW belief collapses under the weight of its own absurdity, it will either need to be replaced by some other “virtual” risk, of equally dubious probity to warmism, or by an elevation of the perceived risk level, by something like warfare – or being shot by your enraged neighbour.

      Of course, in this analysis the well-known propensity for people’s concern for “virtual risk” to evaporate when, say the economy turns sour, is not merely a case of people fickly discarding long-term safety for short-term comfort. All that has happened is that now they have something real to worry about, people’s “risk account” is no longer in deficit, and no longer needs to be stuffed with hokum from the druidical classes. But the catastrophists can take heart – as soon as the good times return, so will the risk deficit, and following it the guilt and the need to repent, and they’ll be back in business.

      • TomFP

        To your question: In reading through the essay by John Adams, it appeared to me that there were two main categories of risk: perceived risk and virtual risk, where the former category is split into those for which a scientific component is required in order to be perceived (em>” perceptible only to those armed with microscopes, telescopes, surveys, scanners and other measuring devices) and those where this is not the case (”visible to the naked eye”).

        I go from the following definitions of perceive:

        - discern
        - realize
        - become conscious of
        - recognize

        so that these risks are based on some observed empirical evidence , which has been seen or recognized..

        Virtual risk, on the other hand is suggested or imagined risk, for which there is no such empirical evidence.

        Relating these concepts to climate science, specifically to the premise of potentially catastrophic AGW, I would classify this risk as a virtual one, as it is not based on empirical data backed by physical observations or reproducible experimentation but rather by model simulations based on theoretical deliberations.

        Adams does show that there are areas of overlap between the categories, so everything is obviously not “black and white”, but that is my understanding of the differentiation between the categories.

        Max

  20. The new paradigm of climate reasoning, and I haven’t been able to disprove it’s logical structure..

    1) The atmospheric composition is COMPLETELY irrelevant; water vapor has no impact on ATE and the proof is in the fact that all planets follow the same pressure curve (Fig. 5) despite the vast differences in atmos. composition and that, of all planets, water vapor only occurs on Earth;

    (2) the atmosphere does not slow down Earth’s cooling as claimed by the current GH theory; it ENHANCES the energy provided by the Sun thanks to pressure;

    (3) The thermal enhancement effect of pressure has nothing to do with convection, water cycle or any other transport mechanisms. It is a manifestation of the physical force that pressure represents (since, by definition, pressure is a force per unit area!).

    Skeptics have won. Rejoice.

    • I haven’t been able to disprove it’s logical structure.

      Well, that’s easy to do. The missing logical steps are as follows.

      1. The argument that because all planets obey essentially the same dependence of temperature on pressure therefore no other factor can influence their temperature uses the same reasoning as the argument that because all humans obey essentially the same blood pressure law therefore no other factor can influence blood pressure. If that were true pills for hypertension would be nothing but placebos. There are many ways a single parameter can have multiple independently-behaving influences.

      2. This one doesn’t even offer a reason, it’s just an unsupported statement.

      3. Here you’re getting into the physics of lapse rate, which as Pekka has pointed out in the past is tricky to get right. In fact convection has everything to do with lapse rate, since in its complete absence the air column would (very slowly!) settle into an isothermal state from top to bottom.

      Temperature only tracks pressure perfectly when the pressure of a parcel of air changes perfectly adiabatically, meaning with no exchange of heat with the environment outside the parcel. In a stable column of air the pressure varies only with altitude and not with time. In this situation temperature is no respecter of pressure, and in time it will equalize itself along the entire height of the column, just as it does eventually in a block of wood that was initially warmer at the bottom than the top. Both are poor thermal conductors, which is why the equalization takes so long.

      There is no such thing as a convection-free atmosphere, but even if there we would still not see the air column become isothermal because during the day massive amounts of IR are being pumped into the bottom of the atmosphere from the sun-drenched surface, which is what keeps the lower troposphere warm.

      Convection enters when that warming, which is highly nonadiabatic when the air is still, raises the environmental lapse rate, ELR, above the adiabatic lapse rate, ALR. This is the necessary condition for hot air to rise, which it does in the form of thermals. These take the form of large bubbles of heated air, each one rising like a very large hot-air balloon, cooling essentially adiabatically as it rises despite the IR still being pumped into it from the ground since the adiabatic cooling is happening much faster than the heating from the surface IR. The morning is spent warming the ground and the thermals don’t really get going until the afternoon. If thermals were people they wouldn’t be considered Type A material.

  21. When I read about improving communication I wonder how truth is affected by the improvement. A truth of uncertainty is this simple rule: “If uncertainty exists, I don’t know the truth.” How do you improve that message without losing the truth in it? Danger – there be dragons in the answer to that.

    Knowing this does not prevent people from leaping over the stone wall of ignorance and spreading the biases of advocacy.

    A conversation:
    Them: Here is what we know. And here is what we think it means. This is what we need to do about it.

    Me: Sir – you have told me more than you know – that is, you have told me you don’t know when to stop.

  22. When commentators write lengthy explanations for their reasoning, its usually because they are trying to convince themselves that their untruths are true.

    • Agreed. However the converse need not be true: one can write short yet unsound arguments, as you did in your post immediately above (arguments (1)-(3)). (1) seems to be arguing that any process that follows a law cannot have any other influence; if so planes would be obliged to obey the law of gravity and fall to the ground. (2) gives no reason. (3) repeats a well-known fallacy that Pekka discusses here from time to time, namely the false belief that lapse rate depends only on pressure and does not need convection.

  23. Dr. Curry,
    You say you like this article but “…I would have no idea how to characterize myself in this scheme.” I couldn’t characterize myself either because, like the characterizations in astrology, I identify myself as having elements from many signs. Frankly, I find this article and astrology have much in common and both of are little value. I’m not sure why you like the article since you can’t apply it to your own task of introspection.

    “Perhaps the best that a science communicator can hope for is that introspection might assist recognition of one’s own biases, and an awareness of the inevitability of different biases in others. Self-knowledge and an ability to stand metaphorically in the shoes of others are key ingredients of the empathy essential to effective communication.”

    This assumes that the issue is to find the key to communicate climate science to all kinds of people. It also means the problem isn’t with the message or the messenger but rather the public who must be studied and accommodated to be able to receive the message properly. What about answering the hard questions that have been asked about climate science and the scientists who are in charge of the project?

    In the past you stated that you understood the trust issues. Why pursue the subject of successful advocacy rather than cleaning house and clearly defining the areas of climate science agreement, not just within the inner circle (the “Team”) and the areas of uncertainty needing more study? How about defining “the cause” so we are all on the same page concerning goals? Let’s sweep away the science “facts” that we now know were mistaken, such as the statement in the IPCC report that Himalayan glaciers will be gone entirely by 2030. We need a loud, clear and comprehensive statement and an agreement to abandon restating what we know to be false by scientists, activists, politicians and skeptics.

    Don’t find better ways to convince the public. Instead, restore trust, so the public can believe the results of studies. My father was a scientist. I trusted him because he was recognized as competent in his field, never lied and openly corrected himself when he found he was in error. I never had reason to question his motives. I’d like to have that confidence that science and scientists can and will solve problems that will improve our lives again.

    • Laurie, Dr. Curry doesn’t do the “Hard questions” which are about political cultures in her science area and AGW consensus. She hides in abstracts about “advocates” as if they might be one thing or another that isn’t common knowledge to most in the room.

      We have every reason to question eco-green academic enclaves and research areas. Owning up to reality would improve communication but validate the critics, too high price it seems even if it is the truth of the situation. It’s too humiliating to give up the platform and the image of unbiased objective experts.

      Most can’t be converted, they simply need to be defeated. Some deserve to go to jail but it’s sad that some could walk to the Rubicon (where the truth of AGW excess is exposed) but fail to cross it. Dr. Curry knows better, tells us in deniable code (for the sake of her peers I imagine) but will not outright refute the core sham of political driven AGW agenda setting.

  24. People process information differently. This has been known in the labour market for years.
    Advertizing uses this to leverage their products. The best example is the personality dimension tests. These separate people into style “types”. Each type is a different colour. Each person will have a blend of two or more colours. True colours is another test similar to PD. After taking the test, you read the descriptions for the colours that you score high in. This will give you insight into how you “think.”

  25. Chief Hydrologist

    It’s a toaster – it comes with a warranty. If you are a woman, the most important consideration is if it matched the refrigerator. If you’re a guy the most important consideration is nuclear scale wattage. Then you can do experiments in exploding eggs, ditto all day suckers, ditto mixtures of sugar and caustic soda, ditto etc. If the warranty is voided – there is always the transient satisfaction of mindless destruction.

    There are hundreds of garage scale nuclear reactors out there – and these are getting better, safer and cheaper all the time. Apropos of nothing – I’d be more concerned with the human urge to push the big red button and see what happens, jump off really high things, attach jet engines to their Chevrolet, sit on a huge roman candle and get flung into space, etc.

    It brings me to the essential difference between people – as opposed to the objectivist classifications above. The difference is between insane optimists who are certain that everything will be just peachy and the ‘catastrophists’ who are insanely certain that utter calamity is just around the corner. To me it comes down to risk versus reward. I would happily sit on a huge roman candle but have trouble with flights to the next city. Even if everything goes horribly wrong with the rocket ship – it’s just a hell of a way to go whereas dying in a plane crash is just so mundane. For instance, if the message this morning is any indication our IT guys are optimists. “Security alert – nothing to worry about.” It could easily have been – “security alert – it’s a jungle out there.”

    Communications bounce between these two extremes. The “She’ll be right mate” school of thought and the catastrophic collapse of ecosystems, ice shelfs, societies, etc memes. Both sides are insanely convinced that they can point to the big red button that should be pushed or alternatively not pushed. Ultimately it comes down to risk management and I would opt for multiple red buttons that are not connected to anything in particular but must be pushed (or not pushed) at the same time by different people. A team building exercise that makes them feel important without the risk of causing any lasting damage.

    Robert I Ellison
    Chief Hydrologist

  26. CWON14,
    Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I wouldn’t expect that Dr. Curry would be the one to answer the hard questions.

    “Owning up to reality would improve communication but validate the critics, too high price it seems even if it is the truth of the situation.” Saddening. At this point, validating critics shouldn’t be a concern. Silence alone does that.

    • Laurie,

      They really aren’t hard observations to make or confirm to the objective on the basis of fact. It is an illustration of just how powerful political correctness really is on the subject of AGW with in the consensus group.

      That silence makes much of the stated efforts of the blog fruitless. It also encourages the irrational who are well represented here clinging to ancient AGW narratives and dogma and undermines Dr. Curry’s claims regarding “communication”.

  27. cwon14 and Laurie

    IMO it is not reasonable to bash our host here for being too “PC” regarding expressing doubts of the IPCC AGW dogma.

    She has explicitly gone on record that
    - the magnitude of AGW is uncertain, as we are unable today to clearly differentiate between natural and anthropogenic past warming
    - even in its worst incarnation AGW will not become an existential problem over the next century
    - we should better clear up all the uncertainties before we rush into mitigation actions whose unintended consequences we cannot foresee

    These statements (which were made under oath to a congressional committee) may sound too “PC” to some.

    While I also would like to have heard more explicit skepticism of the IPCC “mainstream consensus” view, I realize that (in view of her position and the high level of sensitivity here) she has been cautious in her choice of words. [This may prove to be the best approach in the long run.]

    Her recent formal challenge of the IPCC “most…very likely…” claim on attribution of late 20th century warming is another indication that she is not going along with the PC mainstream flow.

    I’d give her the benefit of the doubt – as I think she can do more good for exposing the real truth as a questioning insider than as a challenging outsider.

    Just my take on this.

    Max

    • Max,

      I’ve heard all this before. The science nuances are beaten to death here, they are interesting at times but we are talking about very small variations in a real world where it could always be something else, you never get to “all else equal” reality. We have been in the circle for 25 + years about what we really don’t know or can prove. There are no linear rules with proofs to build on at all. I don’t fault her position except there really is no co2 evidence or fingerprint at all. It’s all opinion and that leads to the bigger problem about those with opinions and who gets market a consensus of opinion as “SCIENCE”.

      You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to notice how the “advocates” all or many to share a rather noticable political cultures and spectrum that for whatever the reason seems completely taboo for our host to acknowledge other than abstractly and remotely. How is this fair, honest or truthful in a debate where huge social stakes are involved??

      Why would people who engage in this level of obfuscation of the political demographics of their own peer groups garner “trust” as a starting or finishing point????

      It’s both relevant and required if people wish to be taken seriously to acknowledge what is obvious about who is involved in the debate and what their general world view is politically. As too how political enclaves start and finish socially is interesting to talk about. That they can’t be identified in this case or can only be acknowledged as unaffiliated “advocates” is preposterous in scale and distortion.

      Sorry Max, if the place is open for discussion and we are talking about “uncertainty” of climate impacts and UN projections this topic isn’t a special case or decorum violation when it’s rather obvious who and what the political nature is of Dr. Curry’s peers and that of the greater eco-pro-AGW wing. They share a very identifiable political culture. There would be of course a huge consequence within Dr. Curry’s peer group if she stated the obvious. That’s the nature of political correctness, in the long run it fails. You were either for or against the Berlin Wall, sadly that was a topic that could never be discussed openly for many years in within another politically correct protocal. If a party refuses to admit directly and specifically, political associations, cultures and trends in a very narrow “consensus” area of science study how is that crediable? It isn’t.

      • Hmmm…..projection much?

      • “I’d give her the benefit of the doubt – as I think she can do more good for exposing the real truth as a questioning insider than as a challenging outsider.”

        There is no evidence to support this belief. It’s just wishful thinking. The status quo remains and Dr Curry is still the same and the AGW Machine rolls on.

        Andrew

      • Andrew,

        Exactly.

      • cwon14 and Bad Andrew

        Yeah. “The AGW Machine rolls on”.

        It is a gigantic juggernaut – a “Titanic” or “Costa Concordia” if you will – with all the momentum that hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money (and the promise of even more) can fuel.

        A huge collusion of separate special interests – from expansionist politicians seeking more tax revenues and power, corporate leaders seeking more profits, hedge fund operators and other money shufflers looking for a fast buck, media moguls hoping for increased circulation or viewer quotas, media darlings looking for more public exposure, enviro-lobbying groups looking for more influence, green activist loonies seeking to save the planet, climatologists who suddenly see themselves as politically influential – some openly becoming activists while others simply looking for research funding, sociologists, psychologists and other academics bloviating ad nauseam about psychological communication strategies and sociopolitical impacts of the climate crisis, left-wing ideologues hoping to empower a global government, corrupt politicians and strongmen from underdeveloped nations vying for mega-handouts from the rich nations – all have jumped on the gravy train as it rolls along.

        Times were good and everyone was basking in glory – a politically motivated Oscar plus Nobel Peace Prizes were handed out to the purveyors of the impending disaster message. The “science was settled” and it became “non-PC” to even question the mainstream dogma.

        But wait!

        Are the wheels of the rolling behemoth beginning to wobble?

        A few influential climate scientists have begun to question the science supporting the hysteria – and have immediately been denounced by the “mainstream consensus” group as heretics.

        Climategate I and II, plus other revelations of IPCC falsifications and data manipulation have eroded the public credibility of the “mainstream consensus” scientists (and, in the process, of climate science itself).

        Climate Summits (Copenhagen, Cancun, Durban) have all failed to produce any kind of globally unified approach – with the major CO2 emitters simply ignoring the call for reductions and everyone scrambling for the best deal for himself – meanwhile a bemused public sees that large sums of taxpayer money are being squandered to fly climatologists and bureaucrats from all over the world to resort hotels for these global boondoggles that achieve nothing.

        The US House of Representatives has shot down the proposed new cap and trade legislation for the USA. China and India have both declined to cut back on CO2 if it slows their economic growth, Japan has opted out, as well, unless China joins in and only the EU, Australia and New Zealand are still committed to reduce CO2 emissions.

        The media have slowly started to drop climate catastrophe as the main headline issue, as other topics become sexier and global warming loses its appeal.

        And – most damaging of all – Mother Nature has stopped playing along.

        After a period of significant warming, with an unusually high level of solar activity (highest in several thousand years) and many El Niños (including a record El Niño and warm year in 1998), the pattern has begun to reverse itself. Solar Cycle 24 has started off with very low activity and warming El Niños have been replaced with cooling La Niñas.

        Since January 2001 (or January 1998, depending on how you look at it) the global atmospheric temperature has stopped warming (or even cooled slightly), both at the surface and in the troposphere, despite the fact that CO2 levels have reached record highs.

        And worst of all – the ocean has also cooled (instead of warming, as predicted) since the new comprehensive system of more accurate ARGO devices were installed in 2003. In other words, the planet has lost heat instead of warming as predicted by the IPCC experts

        The “mainstream consensus” scientists are scrambling to find (or rationalize) the “unexplained lack of warming” – one referring to it as a “travesty”.

        To make it even worse, large parts of the northern hemisphere have had a series of harsher-than-normal winters with heavy snowfalls, where mild, snowless winters had been predicted.

        A few climatologists even tried to blame the cold, snowy winters on man-made global warming – but this absurd rationalization obviously did not fly with an already skeptical public.

        The calls by a few activists for immediate action to save the planet are falling on deaf ears as a doomsday-weary public has lost interest in view of many other more urgent problems.

        All of this is causing the wheels of the rolling juggernaut to start creaking and wobbling – and it appears now to be only a matter of time until they fall off and the gravy train ends up in the ditch.

        I personally predict that it still has enough momentum to keep rolling for another four or five years until it finally comes to a screeching halt, however if there is continued low solar activity and La Niña activity leading to continued “lack of warming”, this could accelerate the process.

        Will our host here play a role in the demise of the CAGW juggernaut and, if so, how important will this role be?

        I can only guess based on the recent past, but I believe the record shows that she is looking for a way for climate science to regain its independence from a corrupted IPCC “consensus” process and thereby to re-establish its public confidence and trust. And I believe by her recent actions that she is actively working in this direction.

        I think she (and other objective climate scientists like her) can play an important role in bringing “science” back into “climate science” by exposing the weaknesses of the “mainstream consensus” position

        And I am convinced that this, along with the pressure from an increasingly better informed general public, will eventually cause the wheels to drop off and the CAGW bandwagon to come to a lurching halt.

        Just my thoughts on this (but, what-the-hell, I may be an optimist)..

        Max

      • Climategate I and II, plus other revelations of IPCC falsifications and data manipulation have eroded the public credibility of the “mainstream consensus” scientists (and, in the process, of climate science itself).

        Oy Vey. I love how “skeptics” who are concerned about validating assertions about cause and effect, blithely repeat this kind of statement over and over and over without any validated quantification of the effect they’re describing.

    • Well said Max. Judith has stalkers to the left of her, and stalkers to the right. I don’t know why the girl doesn’t kick a few of them out of her house. That right there should tell them something about her motive and sincerity. But they gotta keep up the tug of war over her affections. It gets tedious.

      • Don,

        I couldn’t care less about “her affections”. By obfuscating the “AGW science” political culture by refusing to be honest about what those “advocates” are really part of is why each and every thread makes little or no progress in “communication”. It’s a limited PC protocal you may choose to accept but I and others find “tedious”.

      • steven mosher

        Don,

        Kicking them out would defeat the purpose. What you get to see is that her critics are not really motivated by the ideas she has. Their behavior indicates that something else, something personal, is afoot. We usually cannot say with confidence what this is, but we can recognize that their behavior stands apart from others. Rattling their cages will over time reveal more.

      • You know how much I hate to correct you Steven, but I did not say she should kick them out. I said, I don’t know why she doesn’t kick some of them out. Girl is very tolerant. I don’t know why she doesn’t kick me out. (she likes me)

        Well, let’s keep up the rattling. Somebody got to do it.

  28. The content of the post raises questions about contemporary modes of power influencing the harmful polarization of many issues.

    Unfortunately, the domination of this thread by Cwonism is not value added.

    Cwonism and quasi-Cwonism frames the issues as if there is one world to defend, with ‘enemies’ who believe there is a world to win. That view is a fiction. So is the related facile conception of ‘left’ and ‘right’.

    In reality, social and historical change is often relatively unpredictable and there are many potential challenges to the organization of power and knowledge, as well as many oppressive contexts for continued polarization.

    While nothing speaks for everyone, it is also the case that individual consent is not needed for social or historical change. Please someone tell Cwon14, but let him down easy. :-(

    • These must be “advocates” Martha, what kind are they?;

      Christian Science “advocates”? No, I don’t think so.

      Animal rights “advocates”? No, I don’t think so.

      States rights “advocates”? No, I don’t think so Martha.

      Eco-left, radical pro-warming advocates Martha? Is it really that hard to admit? You’ve buried yourself in the most sort of denial and one that is made for a distorting purpose. Take your EU socialist blathering to another post, we can expect no contribution or logical admissions from you. You live in a fantasy world and your distraction is an admission of your bias and embarressment which should really be shame. Your worse than a Gaianist Martha by a long shot, you’re a hardcore Greenshirt with nothing to say. The lowest on my list of social sterotypes found here;

      A. Gaianist- think smoking pot at an Earth day rally listening to the Grateful Dead and babbling about going back to nature before they drive their Subaru back to home they inherited.

      B. Zombies- The working tools who accept the party line on most anything including warming propaganda with little thought. Often with willful little thought but they know doctrine and can actually be naive in real life.

      C. Greenshirts- Know better (sometimes, I’m talking about how phony their own talking points really are), meaner and far more corrupted. Crave money and or authority in large quantities. The lowest on my list. It’s from this pool that will require jail sentences and social vilification.

      You are a definate type “C” Martha.

      No need to whine for reinforcements Martha, speak for yourself. Inane as that may be.

      • cwon -

        In the name of greater self-awareness, would you mind telling me which of your groups I belong to?

      • I don’t think he is paying attention to you josh. Even though you are fellow judith stalkers. I will help you. You are straddling B. and C. Too effete and pompous for A. That crowd is too crude and rowdy.

      • You may be flattered Joshua, you’re another type of creature with some of the qualities of A+B+C. I think you are sincere as can be found in some Zombies.

        Don is right, you are of little interest to me as a rule.

        Stick around for fun though, Don, who I generally like his comments labels me a “stalker”. Sadly, I’ve concluded Don is a “House Slave” to the AGW consensus willing to take table scraps with a smile. That the road here leads to nowhere under the conditions he accepts but is the current reality. We should all stop pretending this is honest blog where the moderator is forth coming and straightforward. She isn’t as her silence on the key question indicates.

      • cwon,

        Your problem is you don’t know who your friends are. Internecine warfare is counter-productive. Judith is your ally. She is doing far more damage to the consensus dogma than you ever could. You should occasionally show some appreciation for the soap box that she has graciously provided for you to incessantly lambaste her. I bet you really hate the climate scientist who run RealClimate. Why don’t you go give them a piece of your mind?

      • cwon -

        Don is right, you are of little interest to me as a rule.

        Here’s a koan for you:

        Why is it that I read so many comments saying that people find me of little interest?

      • More House Slave talk Don.

        I’m more in the Knights Templar wing of the skeptic movement. I want to do to the UN and Warmist establishment what they want to do to you; kill you and reeducate your children to worship consensus thought and the state. They also want your children steralized to meet the population cap goals.

        Dr. Curry has plenty of minions here Don. I wouldn’t have thought you so mushy and I’m not disrespecting you on your threads. Why can’t you just explain why Dr. Curry can’t identify her peers politcal culture and that of the Consensus in plain English?

        Think of me as the James Delingpole factor for the board. You would miss me if I was gone.

      • @joshua

        ‘Why is it that I read so many comments saying that people find me of little interest?’

        Rampant egomania? Self-absorption? Loneliness? Because you try to dominate the thread? Lack of anything else in your life? Because the authorities block your access to more exciting sites?

        Some or all of the above.

      • Latimer -

        What percentage of your posts here recently are focused on how much you don’t like my participation on this board? How about we just take today, as one example?

        Do you attribute your focus on me to my egotism – or is it explained by one of the other denigrating characterizations you slung in my direction?

        Seems to me that you might consider holding yourself responsible for your own actions

        FWIW.

      • And Latimer -

        Perhaps you missed the koan-like nature of the question? Your response suggests that perhaps you did.

      • cwon,

        No I wouldn’t miss you. Even though I agree with the gist of about 82% of your basic political philosophy, I usually don’t read your comments to avoid your monotonous diatribes about Judith’s impurity. But you have been particularly active lately and I peeked to see what had got you so agitated.

        That house slave BS is right out of the left-wing looney playbook. You are a mirror image of our idiot tractor Robert. You purist right-wing nut job types are going to cause four more years of Obama. Come on boys. Form up the circular firing squad.Stop the house slave Romney at all costs! Right, dummy.

        Why are you constantly picking on Judith? You should be over on RealClimate railing at Gavin and his accomplices. Are you afraid of the men?

        I am not interested in joining your circular firing squad and shooting myself in the foot, so that’s all I the time I have for you. Carry on with your foolishness. Ron Paul, or nobody! Peace out.

      • “Why are you constantly picking on Judith? You should be over on RealClimate railing at Gavin and his accomplices. Are you afraid of the men? ”

        The first question is obvious but you ignore the point. That RC ban’s anything that undermines the political link is obvious as well, why ask such a dumb question? You know exactly how that site is operated don’t you?

        Yes, I guess you are spineless in the face of the AGW terror state that has been proposed. Dr. Curry gets a free pass and the consensus gets exactly the cover it wants from such weakness, no questioning their political affiliations directly. Maybe you can join the “it’s about science” mantra with Joshua and Robert next. Useful idiot does come to mind but I know that is harsh, you do good work as well.

        It’s middling that will make the risk of an Obama second term that more likely. It will be on your Kerinsky moderate ilks hands not mine.

        No more conversations though it will spare both of us.

    • @Martha

      Thanks, but I think I’ll wait for the English translation……

      I don’t want to die from boredom trying to figure out what ‘many oppressive contexts for continued polarisation’ is supposed to mean.

      My mates in the Dog and Duck say it sounds like somebody who knows very little trying to sound clever like on the telly. And failing.

      • Latimer,

        You are a more patient man than I.

        I gave up trying to penetrate the confused turgid prose in Martha’s comment at “The content of the post raises questions about contemporary modes of power influencing the harmful polarization of many issues.”

        Huh?

    • “The content of the post raises questions about contemporary modes of power influencing the harmful polarization of many issues.”

      This vacuous drivel just reminded me where it was I last encountered Martha:

      http://www.streetfire.net/video/108-top-gear-peel-p50-microcar_185950.htm

      (towards the end)

  29. “The green movement is about the opposite of liberty, and that’s why it will fail.”

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/columnists/qa/s_736972.html

    I don’t dislike everyone across the pond by the way, just the Eurocrat PC snivellers.

  30. ceteris non paribus


    I don’t dislike everyone across the pond by the way, just the Eurocrat PC snivellers.

    So noble. So brave. So relevant.

    I’ll be sure to let the non-snivellers know that they have been approved by a Real American.

    • Relavant regarding Martha who routinely inflicts her Euro sophisticate (in her own mind) personna on these boards, spits in the face of all who oppose her authoritarian assumptions about what she perceives as required. She’s made her share of anti-American diatribe well known here also, she can stuff it.

      • cwon -

        She’s made her share of anti-American diatribe well known here also, she can stuff it.

        Just curious…

        (1) what % of the American public do you think that your typical “anti-left” diatribe targets?

        (2) What % of the American public would a diatribe hypothetically have to target to be considered as anti-American?

      • Joshua,

        Expecting a spreadsheet & spagetti chart on past Martha statements where she condescends toward various American tendencies and groups? (You aren’t saying she hasn’t are you Joshua?)

        Try to be honest Joshua, you haven’t seen this projection from Martha? Which is fine, as is my response. That she may flatter you and your ilk has little relation to why I point it out. Move to France if it makes you happy Joshua, take Jim Hansen and Paul Krugman with you when you go.

        I really don’t want to go down your usual ten thousand strawman and hyjack side points Joshua. It was Laurie and I that exchange notes. The main point is Dr. Curry can’t own up to the political culture that there is in the video of just a few posts up. Why is that?

        No sidebars, strawman, distractions Joshua. Just a simple question that historically drives you crazy. You seem to have this fantasy that you and Dr. Curry don’t vote for the same people and aren’t culturally and politically linked. Like warmists are victims here because skeptics aren’t kicked off and censored. I guess when you get off the RC reservation the world looks this way to you. I find it more sad that Don Monfort is willing not to have a simple but important question replied to for such a low price as not being censored for being a skeptic, even suggesting I be censored for pointing it out the limited range of disclosure THAT REALLY DOES MATTER. The AGW Skeptic House Slave syndrome. Groveling to consensus authority to frame any aspect of the debate on any terms offered. Small wonder in the face of such spinelessness the AGW TEAM advanced as far as it has over the years.

      • ceteris non paribus

        “…who routinely inflicts her Euro sophisticate (in her own mind) personna on these boards, spits in the face of all who oppose her authoritarian assumptions about what she perceives as required.

        You are obviously a very special Real American.
        One might even say precious.


        She’s made her share of anti-American diatribe well known here also, she can stuff it.

        You’re starting to come across as somewhat… authoritarian.
        It’s called free speech.
        No one is forcing you to read Martha’s posts.

      • cwon -

        Nice duck.

        Ever play dodgeball as a kid? You’ve got skillz.

      • ceteris non paribus

        Joshua:

        A duck you say?

        I could have sworn I saw it goose-stepping to the tune of “America the Beautiful”.

  31. Joshua
    I will try for the last time. On a prior thread I wrote that US citizens should not be “forced” to pay higher taxes in order to provide funds to other nations due to the US’s prior CO2 emissions.

    You then replied something to the effect that people are not “forced” to pay taxes, that they could leave the country, etc. You wrote that the citizens may make the choice to provide such aid to other nations.

    I indicated that by “forced” I meant that US taxpayers would be “obligated” and I do not think the US government should commit to make such payments based upon our prior CO2 emissions.

    I would be interested in WHY you seem to think such payments are justified. I have asked you before what nation you think “deserve” such aid, and what it should pay for. I may have missed your answer, but I doubt it.

    • Rob, I don’t think you’re that new to this site. Joshua is a troll who will never stay on a point that exposes his culture for what it is. We don’t have the ignore feature on this board so it is what it is. the InTrade odds of getting a straight reply to your post are about 3000 to 1.

      Yes, Joshua is a collectivist more Zombie like warmist with a tinge of Greenshirt in him. He doesn’t wear Gaia on his sleeve you can judge just so much on the internet. If you found him unwashed at an OWS rally wearing Tie Die denouncing “the 1%” it wouldn’t surprise me and he is far from the worst here. He will never address your tax question, that is another AGW warming taboo taught at the very first youth camp.

      Since I’m getting grief today anyway, here is my scorecard from the moderately to most annoying regulars;

      * WHT, annoying cardboard box leftist screed but easy to avoid. Peak oil fetish. Tin foil fitting required.

      * Joshua, if we could recycle his strawmen we could cut oil imports in half. Very active and harder to avoid. Not especially mean spirited.

      * Robert, a pure angry warmer. greenshirt inclined. Largely avoidable.

      * Martha, EU statist, greenshirt, fake academic personna. Fingernails on a blackboard. Even in small doses it’s like the 1000000 on the Scoville chilli scale of painful encounters.

      Of the posters I like or at least respect;

      Hunter, Bad Andrew, Random Engineer, Jim Cripwell, Laurie, Manacker
      and Don Monfort who wants me banned. Hope this helps.

  32. “I could have sworn I saw it goose-stepping to the tune of “America the Beautiful”.”

    Busy testing a strawman are we Ceteris? Note how neither you or Joshua can stay on the point. I’m not on your thread changing the subject am I? Right, you’re on my exchange with Laurie. Troll away.

    • ceteris non paribus

      cwon:

      Here’s a clue about the internet. No one owns threads.
      Certainly not you, with your cowardly “stuff it” and “troll away”.

      And I’d be willing to “stay on the point” if only you had one.

      This got started because Martha’s opinions frighten you. Why?
      Is it that her language isn’t sufficiently packed with patriotic tropes and references to Chicago-School capitalism?
      Or is it simply that they force you to admit that not all people are just like you?
      Not that the answer matters.

      • Latimer Alder

        Martha’s language is incapable of frightening anyone, since it is so turgid and impenetrable as to be incomprehensible to all bar a very few academics who have spent years in their futile efforts to decode it.

        So I think your starting proposition is pretty flawed.

      • ceteris, we might have spoken more sooner and I could have added you to the list above. Any time you see a point you don’t like you type “you have no point” or go through the usual troll behaivior of changing a topic.

        Do what you want, I’m trying to walk away. Obviously my political identification theme always annoys warmist and even some skeptics as Don Monfort who I respect greatly is waving a finger at me.

        Go follow the thread, if you can’t get the central question try night school and feel no obligation to reply.

  33. Latimer Alder

    @joshua

    You ask:

    Is my dislike caused by your egoism?

    Not solely – though that is undoubtedly a strong contributing factor.

    The main spring however is the impression you give of being a snotty clever-clever thirteen and three quarter year old attention seeker with no judgement, zero social skills and very little common sense.

    An intellectual genius in your own mind, but, sadly in nobody else’s.

    In UK we have words rhyming with ‘right little banker’ to describe such an individual, but they may not translate across the pond.

    G’night

    • Latimer Alder

      Meant as a reply to Joshua upthread

      Got out of sequence somehow. But I think it stands alone quite well anyway……..

  34. The 1st sentence of this article is mercilessly on-target.

    Something I’ve quoted & shared in the past at Climate Etc., WUWT, & the Talkshop (i.e. tallbloke’s):

    “On comprend, mais cela équivaut à chercher ses clefs au pied d’un réverbère parce que c’est là qu’il ya de la lumière.”
    http://www.pensee-unique.fr/theses.html#lod

    Google Translation:
    “It is understandable, but it is like looking for his keys at the foot of a street lamp because that’s where there’s light.”

  35. Wikipedia “Ellsburg Paradox” – a behavioral economic type study showing that people associate different risk preferences to:
    1. random sampling (from an urn)
    2. ambiguity of the sample space (inside the urn)
    although these can be shown to be mathematically equivalent.

    The ambiguity of the urn’s contents somewhat remind me of the idea of the Earth’s true feedback parameter, and our idea of how “the universe” (as new-age-y people like to say) is built to reward/punish human society.

    I think many Greens see the climate as ruled by the God of the Old Testament, bent on punishing the tower of babel our modern society has built. Take the ridiculous M Night Shamalan movie where the trees start releasing toxins to kill humans, which is apprently their attempt to save the planet from our destructive ways.

  36. I’m the only one sure what I say; because I use the laws of physics for guidance. THE LAWS OF PHYSICS DON’T WORK ON 90% POSSIBILITY. When any Swindler states: 90% possibility; for him /her the other 10% are only important – as a ”back-door exit”

    If it can happen – it will happen. But GLOBAL warming cannot happen; because my formula and the laws of physics say so. 100% proven, guaranteed. People that are avoiding my website / my work – ”THEY ARE 100% SURE THAT THEY ARE WRONG”!!! People that are silencing / ridiculing me – are the ones that they can see that I have real proofs; but differ 100% from their own knowledge. May the truth win.

  37. Well, this thread’s a mess. By the way, I never suggested Dr. Curry should out all the wrongs of climate scientists and skeptics alike. What good would that do? No, I only expressed concern about what appears to be advocacy raising skills although we seem to have plenty of that (!) and a desire to see the “offenders” clean up their act. Dr. Curry can’t do that for them. To regain trust, they must do it themselves.

  38. Good grief. You mean scientists are just now discovering this? It’s been well known to statisticians, reliability engineers, and hazard analysis folks for a while now.
    http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa335.pdf

  39. It should be 110% sure

  40. Have you ever wondered how you could help those who are less fortunate than you?