(Ir)responsible advocacy by scientists

by Judith Curry

Advocacy by scientists seems to be the issue of the week.  What (if anything) constitutes responsible advocacy by scientists?

AAAS

Several years ago, A AAS held a Workshop on Advocacy in Science, under the auspices of the AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program.

Two extensive papers were written by Workshop participants:

Science Advocacy is an Institutional Issue, Not an Individual One

Daniel Sarewitz
Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes
Arizona State University

Responsible Advocacy in Science: Standards, Benefits, and Risks

Nicholas H. Steneck
University of Michigan

Both of these papers are very good.  A summary report was also prepared, excerpts:

Based on those meetings, Committee members and staff were able to derive the following observations that would eventually inform subsequent work:

  • Defining advocacy is both important and elusive, as the term can mean quite different things to different people and institutions;
  • Scientists are increasingly being encouraged by people inside and outside science to become engaged with the public policy process;
  • A subset of scientists is already “doing” advocacy, with varying degrees of skill, enthusiasm, and support;
  • Some younger scientists, including those in graduate school, are expressing increasing interest in how their work will affect the larger society, and are seeking guidance on how best to engage the policy process;
  • There are few educational/training materials and venues for learning about and doing advocacy;
  • There is also little ethical guidance on how to engage in “responsible advocacy”;
  • There are few empirical studies in the literature on advocacy in science and what exists is mostly concentrated in a few disciplines.

In the public arena, a definition that generated wide agreement was that advocacy is attempting to influence a specific outcome, to tell an external stakeholder, “This is what you should do!” It is a deliberate, purposeful public expression of an opinion or point of view. In this understanding, it is using one’s scientific position and expertise to accomplish a specific policy goal, whether the advocacy is directed at the public or at a policymaker. Although not a popular view at the workshop, one participant likened it to a salesperson selling a product: in both instances you stress the data that support your opinion and disregard data that do not. An implication of this definition is that “science” and “advocacy” are clearly separable activities: When you “do” science, you investigate, report, explain, and interpret; when you urge a course of action, you are “doing” advocacy, not science.

With respect to advocating for policy, one view expressed was that it is one thing to bring scientific expertise to bear on an issue of public interest but altogether different to recommend specific legislation or a specific policy outcome. In the public’s mind, the latter might be considered “lobbying” and viewed negatively. Further, when scientists “cross the line” between advising and advocating, it can confuse both the science and the policy. However, after further consideration, even the distinction between advising and advocating became muddy. Sometimes expressing an opinion on a matter of public interest obviously points to a particular policy outcome, that is, the science and a specific policy are so close, the listener (the public) will not know the difference. Further, as someone noted, scientists might become embroiled in advocacy “accidentally,” as when they or others realize the results of their scientific research have crucial consequences.

Sarewitz described a situation in which scientific information and societal values become entangled. This led participants to note that advocacy is only troublesome when disputed values are central to the policy dilemma and the science is uncertain, and that scientists have to be careful not to try and “scientize” a policy debate when what is really at issue is values.

The science “trademark” has great value and is used by advocacy organizations, as in “science shows that….” Many workshop participants held the view that, paradoxically, when scientists themselves are perceived as advocates, their views are often discounted, even if they are being objective. Further, that discount can threaten the perceived legitimacy of the advocate’s field.

In addition to muddying the waters between science and policy making, workshop participants acknowledged another way that advocacy can be problematic for scientists because it poses the temptation of distorting or tainting the science or substituting a personal opinion for a scientific one. Most seriously, if scientists become advocates they risk losing their good name as scientists. One participant put it bluntly, “If you want to be seen as a scientist, act like a scientist.”

 If the hallmarks of science are accountability, fairness, and honesty, then those traits may be incompatible with effective advocacy. Guidelines for scientists, such as codes of conduct, include the principles of honesty, accountability and fairness. When scientists communicate with the public, good practice requires being clear about uncertainties, presenting competing views or interpretations of data, and stating the limitations of the data you present. However, communicating is not necessarily advocacy. In fact, advocacy can best be thought of as a subset of communication, given the earlier definition of advocacy as urging a particular policy course.

Steneck’s guidelines for responsible advocacy:

  • Limit science advocacy to your area(s) of expertise and be clear when you are presenting a personal opinion not based on your formal expertise or professional experience;
  • Present information clearly and avoid making exaggerated claims;
  • Be aware of any conflicts of interest – for example, financial interests that you or members of your family have or affiliations with advocacy organizations – and make them clear; 5
  • Point out the weakness and limitations of your argument, including data that conflict with your recommendations;
  • Present all relevant scientific data, not just that which supports a particular policy outcome;
  • Be aware of the impact your advocacy can have on science; and
  • Make clear when you are speaking as an individual scientist as opposed to acting as a representative of a scientific organization

Scientific societies are already playing an advocacy role, with most of that effort appearing to be advocacy for science. This advocacy includes measures that affect scientists directly, such as R&D funding for their own disciplines, as well as for other scientific disciplines, “elevating public policy discussions” by trying to make certain that science is included in policy deliberations, and gaining respect for scientists’ views. Additionally, societies can educate and prod policymakers to call on scientists for help in understanding complex technical issues.

Participants noted several ways in which the society as advocate has certain advantages. First, colleagues sometimes “look down their noses” at scientists who enter the public realm, and when scientists are on every side of an argument an atmosphere of personal attacks can be generated. Societies can provide cover for individual scientists by standing behind their opinions and recommendations. Second, in some policy advocacy, the involvement of a scientific society may reduce the appearance or reality of bias. Further, societies – particularly the larger ones – have an infrastructure and resources more conducive to skilled advocacy than do individual researchers. And, as one society representative said, “There’s something to the imprimatur of a society.” But is there? Are societies viewed as authoritative and trustworthy? Some participants suggested this may not always be the case, especially when they engage in overt advocacy on policy issues.

JC evaluation of RS, AGU and AMS statements

Let’s evaluate the statements on climate change made by the RS, AGU and AMS, based on  Steneck’s  criteria:

Limit science advocacy to your area(s) of expertise and be clear when you are presenting a personal opinion not based on your formal expertise or professional experience;

Consider how the three societies selected the panel to write the statements:

RS:  Fellows of the Royal Society were appointed to prepare the document, and another group of Fellows reviewed the document. JC grade:  A

AMS:  Volunteers from the society effectively self-selected themselves to be on the committee.  JC grade:  C-

AGU: The AGU Council appointed the drafting committee, which by design included one skeptic (Pielke Sr).  The expertise on the committee does not seem to match the topics in the statement:  only a few experts on detection and attribution, and only a few experts on climate change impacts.  JC grade: B-

Present information clearly and avoid making exaggerated claims;

RS:  JC grade A.

AMS:  JC grade B

AGU:  JC grade D.

The AMS and particularly the AGU are downgraded owing the use of ‘urgent’, ‘imperative’ re the need for action in terms of CO2 mitigation.

Point out the weakness and limitations of your argument, including data that conflict with your recommendations;

RS:  JC grade A- (explicitly lists the areas where knowledge is uncertain).

AMS:  JC grade C (makes some mention of areas where science is uncertain)

AGU:  D- (emphatic certainty; only mentions skeptic arguments so that they can emphatically dismiss them).

Present all relevant scientific data, not just that which supports a particular policy outcome;

RS:  JC grade B+ (mentions natural variability)

AMS:  JC grade C (doesn’t really mention the broader issues that influence climate)

AGU:  JC grade D (seems to cherry pick the points to support a policy agenda)

Be aware of the impact your advocacy can have on science; 

AGU:  JC grade F.  There seems to be a complete lack of awareness, as the AGU travels headlong (and blindly) into policy land

Make clear when you are speaking as an individual scientist as opposed to acting as a representative of a scientific organization

AGU:  The statements of AGU Director Christine McEntee deserves comment here. McEntee’s background is nursing and public health, and before joining AGU she was CEO of the American Institute for Architects.  McEntee is speaking out on climate change (in an advocacy role), wearing her AGU hat, in spite of the fact that she has no climate science expertise and it is doubtful that she paid this issue much attention prior to joining AGU a few years ago.

JC summary:  Based upon my grading, RS gets a very high score, and AGU stands out as very poor among professional society statements in terms of responsible advocacy.

A moral obligation?

Jaime Jessop has an interesting post A sensitive issue and why advocacy is not a moral imperative.  The punchline:

We may argue that, as human beings, scientists are morally obliged to communicate their findings to the general public. I wholeheartedly agree. Some of course, may be better in this role than others. I vehemently disagree that the form of this communication should be in advocating policy ‘solutions’ because this compromises their roles as scientists. What they should be doing, if they are able, especially in the contentious field of climate change, is communicating honestly and impartially their actual research such that it is accessible to the public and then letting the public decide for themselves whether the policy solutions advocated by politicians, green groups and renewables industry executives, justify the measures being taken. This is the role of the truly responsible scientist; no more, no less.

Google Hang Outs

Coming tomorrow:

Tomorrow, August 7, 6:00 AM PDT

Events like Tamsin Edwards’ recent op-ed (goo.gl/Q37ukH) and the even more recent AGU statement on climate action (goo.gl/lu3ZaR) have renewed the debate regarding just how active scientists should be in shaping, directing, and supporting climate policy.The Sustainability Media Lab has invited 3 prominent climate scientists to discuss the following question: should scientists advocate for policy?
Featuring:
Gavin Schmidt | Climate scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies |@ClimateOfGavin| Full bio: goo.gl/zykkhM
Judith Curry | Professor and Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology | Full bio: goo.gl/BLTu2W
Richard Betts | Head of the Climate Impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre |@richardabetts| Full bio: goo.gl/U029Wo
Moderated by:
Kathy Zhang | Sustainability Media Lab | Student at Columbia University
Alexandra Boghosian | Sustainability Media Lab | Researcher at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory
Join the conversation! Tweet your questions to @SustMediaLab+#ScienceAdvocacyDebate or post them to this Google+ page. The panel will take public questions before and during the Hangout!
.

JC comments

The issue of policy advocacy by scientists is looming in importance for the climate community.  Given the overall lack of effectiveness of climate policy advocacy by climate scientists to date, scientists should reconsider what the heck they are doing in this regard.  The irresponsibility with which the AGU is proceeding with its advocacy has the potential to seriously harm not only AGU’s image and credibility, but also the science itself.

Policy advocacy by scientists can in principle be done effectively and responsibly. In practice, too many scientists, and worse yet professional societies, are conducting their advocacy in a manner that is neither effective or responsible.

JC advice to scientist-advocates:  take some time to understand the pitfalls of advocacy, learn about the policy process, and make sure you understand what is considered responsible advocacy.

409 responses to “(Ir)responsible advocacy by scientists

  1. The concluding remarks of the Royal Society statement – which JC gives an overall “A’ mark to are as follows

    “There is strong evidence that changes in greenhouse gas concentrations due to human activity are the dominant cause of the global warming that has taken place over the last half century. This warming trend is expected to continue as are changes in precipitation over the long term in many regions. Further and more rapid increases in sea level are likely which will have profound implications for coastal communities and ecosystems.

    It is not possible to determine exactly how much the Earth will warm or exactly how the climate will change in the future, but careful estimates of potential changes and associated uncertainties have been made. Scientists continue to work to narrow these areas of uncertainty. Uncertainty can work both ways, since the changes and their impacts may be either smaller or larger than those projected.

    Like many important decisions, policy choices about climate change have to be made in the absence of perfect knowledge. Even if the remaining uncertainties were substantially resolved, the wide variety of interests, cultures and beliefs in society would make consensus about such choices difficult to achieve. However, the potential impacts of climate change are sufficiently serious that important decisions will need to be made.”

    In other words, as most serious scientists know – it is beyond reasonable doubt that Global Warming is real and we are the culprits. Whilst we cannot say exactly how warm it will get or fast it will warm we CAN say with certainty that there are REAL risks that it will get warm enough, fast enough to cause significant problems on a global scale that could potentially radically disrupt our way of life.

    We can also say with fair certainty that the longer we wait to take action, the costs of action, should warming be severe and.or rapid, are likely to be much higher and more difficult that taking action earlier

    Yet this site, and JC’s own comments, routinely give succor to those who would seek to deny these conclusions.

    What gives?

    The only sensible debate ought to be about appropriate policy prescriptions for action that mitigate these risks and impacts without too high an immediate penalty. That’s where the focus for legitamte debate belongs

    • My point is that the RS statement met the criteria for ‘responsibility'; this does not mean that I personally agree with every statement made by the RS.

    • simon abingdon

      “Global Warming is real and we are the culprits”

      culprit (definition) “a person who is responsible for a crime or other misdeed”

      • “it is beyond reasonable doubt that Global Warming is real and we are the culprits.”

        What’s that in the distance? It’s the pounding of native drums. Can you hear it?

        Andrew

      • simon abingdon | August 6, 2013 at 3:16 pm said: ”“Global Warming is real and we are the culprits”

        YOU are, I’m not!!! because I don’t believe in the phony GLOBAL warming – I’ve clean consciences.

    • Francis, you write “Yet this site, and JC’s own comments, routinely give succor to those who would seek to deny these conclusions.
      What gives?”

      What gives is simple. You are wrong to conclude that “we CAN say with certainty that there are REAL risks that it will get warm enough, fast enough to cause significant problems on a global scale that could potentially radically disrupt our way of life.” We deniers/skeptics claim that science, physics, cannot ever prove that this statement is true, and what little emipirical data that we have, gives a strong indication that it is false. That is what gives

    • Francis
      Imo, you have read the RS statement and then personally determined that the statement supports taking the actions that you believe is appropriate. I disagree with your conclusions about the actions that should be taken, but do not view the RS statement as being inaccurate.
      Imo, the most interesting portion of the statement by the RS is “Further and more rapid increases in sea level are likely which will have profound implications for coastal communities and ecosystems.”
      Again, imo; this statement is true, but of insufficient fidelity to warrant drastic mitigation actions. When will the rate of sea level rise increase and by how much? The answers to those questions (which remain unknown) are what determine if the issue is of a serious concern—or not. Another issue is whether or not the proposed actions will have a measureable impact (and when) on the forecasted negative conditions. Do you believe that the US implementing a carbon tax would measurably effect the rate of sea level rise in a meaningful amount?

      • Well said Rob.

        Accelerated SLR is an impact that could have truly devastating implications. Yet is also an area where we have reasonable good records and where we would quickly notice a change.

        Therefore it is a part of the RS’s statement which I believe is open to a challenge.

      • +1

    • While one can quibble or even reasonably argue with parts of that statement, it is fairly reasonable. One reason I say that is their use of the word potential. If there is a definition of the term denier, it should include the conviction that there are no possible bad scenarios from an increasingly warmer world. Perhaps my biggest problem with folks who are so worried and constantly predict doom is the fact that they refuse to accept the possibility there could be positive impacts. To believe the possibility of negative impacts is just as short sighted.

      That said, formulating policy which tries to deal with the potential negative impacts needs to be solidly anchored in the real world. Among other things that means cost / benefit analysis.

    • How do you propose we conduct an evidence based debate about policy options? Decision analysis?

      • My comment was meant to be addressed to Francis Guy.

      • Yes, that would be rational. Although agreeing the evidentiary basis for the construction of the decision tree alternatives, their probabilities and their impacts is likely to be problematic, since this will inevitably involve speculation at some point (even if rationally and evidence based)

    • Francis Guy,

      I agree. I’ve been thinking about this for a while. The hardest part, IMO, is to estimate the probabilities that a policy option will succeed and deliver the expected benefits. For example, what is the probability that carbon pricing would deliver the expected benefits?

      I started looking at these three options:

      The choice is between three alternative policy options: ‘No GHG Emissions Controls’, ‘International Treaty’ or ‘Free Market’.

      1. ‘No Controls’ – adaptation but no policies to mitigate global GHG emissions. This is the baseline policy against which the other policies are compared;

      2. ‘International Treaty – Legally binding international agreement(s) to global GHG emissions reductions;

      3. ‘Free Market’ policies – No legally binding international agreement. Each country acts in its own best interest. Global emissions reductions are achieved by removing the impediments that are preventing the world from having low emissions energy cheaper than fossil fuel energy. Developed countries develop the technologies and sell them to developing countries in commercial transactions. The process could be facilitated by freer trade and removal of restrictive regulations that thwart the development of cheaper, low emissions technologies.

      I used Nordhaus estimates of costs and benefits for the sixteen policy options he investigated with his DICE 2007 model (and updated in DICE 2012 and RICE 2013) to provide the abatement costs and benefits for various input assumptions.

      I was just playing, but I believe it would provide a way forward and would encourage people to argue about the inputs that are relevant an important for rational decision making.

    • If the situation is as important as suggested , what matter most getting it done right or fast ?
      For as any engineer will tell you there very different animal s.
      Of course if the urgency is around the fact that as climate reality continues to fail ‘the models ‘ so political will slips away from ‘the cause ‘ you can see why the later idea of doing it fast is attractive to those wishing to use this theory to push political stances and why some are getting their noses in the bucket as deep and as fast as they can before it’s taken away.

      • It’s actually too late to choose right over fast. Not than the mistake can’t be compensated for, but oh what a burden has been put on our children and grandchildren.
        ================

  2. I have said it before, let me say it again. The right way to do scieintific advocacy was “invented” by Robert Watson-Watt, when he appointed Harold Larnder to advise the RAF on how to use RDF (now RADAR); in 1938. That was the start of Operations Research. If scientific advocacy is to be done correctly, it can only be done by scientists who work for and are paid by, the organization to which they are giving their advice. Nothing else works. Period.

  3. I don’t really see a case for advocacy. The moment you ‘advocate’ you’re not conducting science. The independence of science is predicated on the fact that the scientific method requires only that we theorize and criticize. It says nothing at all about advocacy, or promotion, unless it is in the form of criticism.

    Science is conducted outside of the voluntary economy. It must be. And it can only be conducted outside the the voluntary economy, if we produce theory and criticism, and refrain from advocacy.

    Advocacy is the domain of politics. There is no way out of it. if you engage in politics you will be treated as though you engage in politics by those of us who practice politics. Politics is a debate over who will forcibly take what and give it to whom in exchange for what else. There is nothing honest, scientific or ‘true’ about it.

    This movement has damaged the scientific community. And damaged our ability to repair our planet. That was because the movement engaged in advocacy in the anticipation of a gold rush from a budget hungry public sector. And in that gold rush allied with one set of parties. Which spun up the entire machine on the other side.

    Advocacy is the domain of politics. If you want more budget and attention then find some other way.

    • Curt, you write “I don’t really see a case for advocacy. The moment you ‘advocate’ you’re not conducting science.”

      I spent the majority of my career doing Operations Research. I can assure you from personal experience that large organizations have a requirement for scientists who work for them, to do precisely that; advocate what the science indicates is the best thing for the organization.

      • Jim.
        Thanks. :) I think, the context we’re all discussing here, is political advocacy, of political policy issues, (where failure is not responsibility of the actors, and monies are involuntarily obtained) rather than advocacy that takes place in the competitive market (which can fail, and for which the experimenter pays the price of failure ).

      • “advocate what the science indicates”

        But the science has to be done first, if you are a scientist, unclouded by other concerns.

        Andrew

      • Curt, you write “I think, the context we’re all discussing here, is political advocacy”

        My instinct tells me you are wrong, and that, in the end, all scientific advocacy is the same. But this would be an extremely long discussion, and I dont think Climate Etc. is the place for it

      • Actually, my intent is to focus on public policy advocacy by scientists on topics that are directly related to their expertise.

      • Judith, you write “Actually, my intent is to focus on public policy advocacy by scientists on topics that are directly related to their expertise.”

        My point still stands. Advocacy by a scientists outside the organization being advised, will never work.

      • Ok, well the U.S. government funds a lot of climate science, so in one context government funded research lives within the government, and the government owns it in some sense.

      • “curryja | August 6, 2013 at 5:47 pm |

        Ok, well the U.S. government funds a lot of climate science, so in one context government funded research lives within the government, and the government owns it in some sense”

        Hell no.
        We serve the people, we serve humanity, we do not serve governments.
        The taxpayer, the citizenry is our paymaster and not the politician or the bureaucrat. The cab-driver, golfer and hairdresser are who I serve, not the state.

      • Doc,

        If you get sacked, is it the golfer who does it?

      • In your case Michael, probably not.

    • > The moment you ‘advocate’ you’re not conducting science.

      Indeed, see for yourself:

      That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying
      science in school–we never explicitly say what this is, but just
      hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific
      investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now
      and speak of it explicitly. It’s a kind of scientific integrity,
      a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of
      utter honesty–a kind of leaning over backwards.

      http://www.lhup.edu/~DSIMANEK/cargocul.htm

    • Plus 1000. (lol)
      Beth – the – serf

    • Thought fer Terday:
      “The moment you advocate you are not conducting science.”

    • While reading the post, I was thinking that here was an issue on which I really had to comment. Fortunately, you said it all. My only exception to your remarks is that I approve of both advocacy and science. I’ve done both professionally at different times. I emphatically agree that you cannot do both at the *same* time.

    • Curt Doolittle | August 6, 2013 at 2:31 pm |

      Tell you what. I’ll give you all a week to compile a list of great scientists, Nobel prize winners, people who have elements or laws or principles named for them, and the like, who never advocated in their lives.

      I’ll take the same week to compile a list of those who did advocate.

      Then we’ll compare lists, and see which contributed more to science.

      And to sweeten the pot, I’ll let you include the 3% of scientists alive today who actively advocate against action based on the evidence. You can even keep Stevenson and Gray on your side.

      Fair deal?

    • I am reminded of a Rush song, and I don’t care for Rush.

      Even if you choose not to advocate, you are advocating.

      If those who have the expertise refrain from advocating, that leaves the arena to those who do not have the expertise, and that seems to me to be a recipe for disaster.

      I worked for a while in the electrical generation industry and let’s just say that deregulation left a sour taste in my mouth.

  4. Steven Mosher

    Judith

    ‘.The Sustainability Media Lab has invited 3 prominent climate scientists to discuss the following question: should scientists advocate for policy?”

    wrong question.

    The argument will go

    1. They have a right
    2. They have an obligation
    3. You cannot empirically demonstrate a harm

    you can’t deny 1, challenging 2 will result in a game of outrage, and however you attempt to establish 3 will be met with all the rigor of scientific skepticism which as we both know can find uncertainty everywhere.

    That means you will have to invoke the pre cautionary principle and argue that some harm is possible, therefore, we need guidelines for responsible advocacy, and then the real issue is what good are guidelines without police.

    Lets take an example.

    1. Gleick, of course, has a right to say most anything he likes about climate policy.
    2. He believes he has a moral obligation to not only speak out on climate policy but to engage in criminal acts against people who see things differently. Its a Noble cause.
    3. You cannot empirically show any harm from his extreme advocacy

    4. whatever guidelines there are for ethical advocacy are toothless.

    In the best case you’ll be able to argue for some stronger guidelines. Big nasty guidelines that will look like sharp teeth, but nobody will ever feel them.

    Me, I’ll suggest that scientists be forced to wear costumes when they talk as scientists, and costumes when they advocate

    Scientist costume

    http://www.costumecraze.com/TRAD339.html

    Advocate costume

    • Bill Nye wears the same costume no matter which hat he wears. Because everybody trusts a nerd in a while lab coat and nerd glasses.

      Maybe in a decade, nobody will trust any scientist unless he/she wears Google goggles.

    • I personally have problems trusting people who wear their underwear on the outside. If they can’t get that right, what else are they not getting right?

    • Mosher, climate scientists do wear a costume, they wear lab coats to appear like laboratory scientists and medics, they attempt to steal the authority and reputation of others.

  5. The big elephant in the room is that so much of what the ‘science’ says is incompetent garbage. The scientists, even Pielke, will never admit it, but the skeptics are proving all the time that there simply is not any quality process involved.

    An honest scientist would recognize that the entire scientific enterprise claims an expertise that is wholly undeserved for purposes of making policy.

    • And yet policy needs to be made

    • All of these science bodies show themselves, it has to be said, completely ignorant about real world physics. What science history will have to say about them..?

      What is, I think, a more interesting question, is what will happen to them when everyone finds out they have been conned by these people actively producing fake fisics or by default accepting its use while all these draconian measures are being put in place?

      Those in the background financing them are not on the front line..

  6. True Scotsmen may wish to be represented in that hangout.

    • If I stick to the maternal side, I go back 4 generations to Scots. But who knows what bastard blood has dine. That the freckles and red tinged hair remain tells me the women of Scotland are just as strong as the men.

  7. Does responsible advocacy cover responsible advice?

  8. Mosher,

    I agree with your comment, but wonder about this:

    “You cannot empirically demonstrate a harm.”

    The science establishment (agencies, professional associations) have taken strong positions about the odds of global warming and resulting severe climate change (of varying degrees). However conclusive the evidence, the odds that this will happen is not 100%. What happens if they are wrong?

    They are wagering their credibility, and that of science — the public’s confidence in them. They expect they will be proved right, like most people who gamble what they cannot afford to lose.

    Have they thought about consequences if they are wrong?

    • “You cannot empirically demonstrate a harm.”

      Half my field is devoted to doing just this.
      Double-blind, crossover trails and in/post utero longitudinal studies.

  9. “3. You cannot empirically show any harm from his extreme advocacy”

    I may not be able to demonstrate it, but I think that both Betts and Curry will agree that the potential harm is very real. A hefty chunk of non-scientists think of climate research the same way they think of various squishy pseudo-sciences: “who knows if we can take these guys seriously?”

    Too many climate scientists don’t seem to understand what Climategate did to them. Not misconduct, that was not the point. The point was, these are politicians instead of scientists.

    • Steven Mosher

      “I may not be able to demonstrate it, but I think that both Betts and Curry will agree that the potential harm is very real.”

      That is why I said the fall back position will be based on the precautionary principle. The damage that advocacy might do.

      In the end scientists will advocate, they will break into businesses and forge documents, and those who defend their right to advocate will say “tsk tsk”
      and move along or give them an award.

      lets put this another way, if folks think that scientists advocating will destroy science somehow,and if they dont like climate science, then they ought to ENCOURAGE mann and gleick and other clear partisans to advocate more.

      • That’s twice so far in this thread you have represented Gleick’s actions as somehow being representative of climate scientists as a whole and of “advocacy”.
        I suppose Climateball is fun sometimes, but it can also be very tedious.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        In general, people on his “side” don’t condemn Gleick’s actions. He hasn’t been punished in any meaningful way. He still serves as an advocate for his “side.” He’s even promoted and praised by members of it.

        With a group stands by someone, they get painted with the same brush as him. That’s just the way things are. If it actually bothered you, you’d complain when people on both sides do it. You don’t. You only complain about this when it’s convenient.

      • Brandon,

        I’ve seen plenty of people on my “side” say that Gleick was wrong to do what he did, but I don’t see why we should keep on condemning him forever or disassociate ourselves with him completely for a single error of judgement. As for his “punishment” well that’s a matter for the authorities – they investigated and decided no action should be taken, if they had decided otherwise I wouldn’t have complained and I can understand that people might think he got off lightly. But it’s over and done with and his work is still relevant and there is no reason he should not be praised (or indeed criticised) for it, regardless of what else he has done.

        Personally I try to avoid guilt by association and will-you-condemn-a-thons but I don’t doubt that I sometimes make unfair generalisations about the skeptics and give people on my “side” more leeway than my opponents. In other words I sometimes behave like every single other person debating on the internet.

      • A “single error of judgement”? First there is ID Theft. Then there is fraud. It was not a single error. It was multiple, and all very illegal. And yes, he could be forgiven. If he ever repented. However he has not. So no, since he has not repudiated his illegal behavior, there is nothing to forgive.

      • Note, aa, that even people on ‘your’ side recognize the evil. Say it again, say it again, louder, louder.
        ===============

      • But following on from my previous post there is a difference between saying that scientists are guilty of not sufficiently condemning Gleick’s actions and insinuating that they are actually guilty of those same actions themselves.

      • Kim,

        I might be tempted to “say it again” if I had the faintest idea of what you are on about.

      • Yeah, I know; you got softer, softer. Shall I capitalize ‘Evil’? Would scare quotes help?
        ===========

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        andrew adams, it’s nice to know you think the only sort of punishment one should have to deal with for committing fraud to mislead people as part of one’s advocacy is the legal sort. You’ve basically just said it’s okay for global warming advocates to lie and cheat as long as they don’t break the law. Actually, it’s more like as long as they don’t get caught and convicted for breaking the law. As long as they manage that, you think they should be free to be part of the public face of global warming concerns.

        A standard like would be great. Evil deniers could start hacking like they keep being accused of, and as long as they do a good job, you’d welcome them into discussions.

      • moshe, there is no need to encourage the behaviour. It is inherent, part and parcel of the package, inevitable, very old-fashioned, and aa its latest exemplar.
        ===========

      • No, I didn’t say that.

        But since you are intent on having an argument with purely imaginary statements of mine I don’t really see any need for me to be involved at all.

      • kim,

        What might help is you clearly making a point and not just trying to be “enigmatic”. If I want enigmatic I’ll stick with Willard, he’s much better at it.

      • You’ve basically just said

        it’s okay for global warming advocates to lie and cheat as long as they don’t break the law.

        Heh. You may not have said it, but in Brandon’s world, you “basically” said it.

        Let me try that…

        Brandon “basically” just said that no matter what you actually say, he can make something up and say that you “basically” said it.

        This is fun.

      • Simples. You justify evil and you justify silence in the face of evil. Your face is an enigma.
        =============================================

      • That Joshua laughs gilts the enigma.
        ==============

      • kim “basically just said” that when he can’t actually formulate an argument, he thinks that attacking the person is a valuable substitute.

      • kim,

        Ah, OK. That’s makes sense now.

        I guess the reason I didn’t get it is that it bears no relevance to what I actually said.

      • or she.

      • Heh, J ‘basically just said’ that if he doesn’t want to address the argument, he’ll divert from it. Or words to that effect. Or not.

        What’s behind your green masque?
        ==============

      • Heh, J & aa, struck dumb at Kabuki.
        ==========

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        andrew adams, Peter Gleick is still doing PR for the global warming cause. He recently gave an invited speech at an AGU conference. I say that’s wrong. I say when a person gets caught committing fraud to advance their cause, they should lose their position in the discussion.

        Society punishes people in hundreds of ways that don’t involve legal punishments. I say some of those ways should have been used against Gleick. You say no. You say punishment is “a matter for the authorities.”

        I say Gleick should be shunned in discussions. I say Gleick should be barred from giving speeches in professional communities. I say Gleick should be mocked and ridiculed. I say society should punish him in these ways and others. You disagree. You say his punishment has already been handled as far as it should go.

        So yes, you did say what I claimed you said. You just didn’t bother to try to understand me. And naturally, Joshua didn’t either.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        andrew adams:

        But following on from my previous post there is a difference between saying that scientists are guilty of not sufficiently condemning Gleick’s actions and insinuating that they are actually guilty of those same actions themselves.

        There’s a difference between larceny and facillitation. That doesn’t mean we should worry about specifying that a fence isn’t a thief.

        That’s like saying Skeptical Science isn’t dishonest when they intentionally promote inaccurate claims about their work in order to exaggerate what they did. The fact they didn’t say the untrue things themselves in no changes the fact they were dishonest. It just changes the way in which they were.

        By the way, I picked this example partially because Skeptical Science blindly promoted Gleick’s fraud and never tried to undo the harm they helped cause. And they promoted his AGU speech. And they’re considered a major resource for the global warming cause.

      • Brandon –

        So yes, you did say what I claimed you said.

        There is a fundamental difference between what someone says and your interpretation of what someone “basically” says. It is fascinating that once again, we seem to have run up against your ability to see that fundamental difference.

        The one is objective and verifiable. The other is subjective and only verifiable if you take the time to gain clarification. For example, you might say something like – “Am I correct in interpreting the meaning of what you just say to imply that you think….XYZ?”

        I have pointed out before to you that you have a habit of confusing fact with opinion. What someone does or doesn’t say is fact. Your interpretationof what they “basically said” is opinion. I could very well have a very different interpretation of what they “basically said” – but there can’t be any difference in determining what they did or didn’t say.

        Now as it happens in this case, although you didn’t bother to verify AA’s meaning was before telling him what he “basically said,” he did nonetheless make it clear that you misinterpreted his meaning. He made it quite clearly that you mistaken, and that what you think he “basically said” was not what meant, let alone what he said.

        It really doesn’t have to be complicated. If you’re actually interested in discussing with people their opinions, and you aren’t sure exactly what they mean, then ask for clarification – don’t just state what they “basically just said” as if that were fact and not your opinion. If you’re actually interesting in scoring empty points in Climateball, then do, please, continue.

      • Actually, I just realized I was wrong about something. I’m embarrassed by my error, and I apologize for getting someone so obviously wrong.

        It isn’t that you’re scoring empty points, but own goals. Again, please accept my apology.

      • Oh geez. I just realized I made yet another obvious error.

        Not just own goals, but spectacular own goals. So embarrassing.

        Again, apologies.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Joshua, I made a specific claim as to what andrew adams said, and I explained the basis for it. You call this topic objective, meaning if people wanted to, they could determine whether or not I was correct.

        You chose not to even try. Instead, you called my verifiable statements on an objective matter my opinion, hand-wavingly dismissing it with nothing more than your empty prattle. You then used this to insultingly claim I often promote my opinion as fact.

        Your pathetic attempt at character assassination is nothing but petty bias propped up by begging the question. If I was wrong about what I said, your first step should have been to show how I was wrong. I’d have acknowledged my mistake if you had shown one existed.

        You spewed drivel across three comments instead of doing anything to have an actual discussion. Only willful delusions could convince anyone your responses contribute anything of value.

      • Brandon –

        The problem is that you are denying the obvious. You try to build a bridge between what AA said and your subjective interpretation of what he said by inserting the modifier of “basically.” The problem is that doesn’t work. Saying “basically” doesn’t change AA’s words.

        Since you seem to want me to spell it the obvious in greater detail, here goes (although I’m quite sure that if you just think about it, you’ll be able to understand w/o me going into greater detail):

        You’ve basically just said it’s okay for global warming advocates to lie and cheat as long as they don’t break the law.

        That isn’t what AA said. It is your interpretation of what he said. What he did or didn’t say is a matter of fact, and easily verifiable. Your interpretation of what he said is opinion, an opinion that could be better informed if you asked for clarification instead of confusing the fact of what he did or didn’t say with your subjective interpretation of what he said. You are continuing to confuse the two.

        As for this:

        Your pathetic attempt at character assassination…

        Let me be clear. I have never met you. I have no idea as to your character. I have no reason to assume that you have anything other than a wonderful character. Pointing out a flaw in your thinking is not trying to assassinate your character. Not even pointing out that you’re acting like a drama queen would be equal to trying to assassinate your character. I think that many people with a tendency to over-dramatize matters still have perfectly fine character.

        Not only do I have no interest in assassinating your character, I’d suggest that you are attributing far too much weight to blog comment interactions. In fact, independent of whether you find an value in my input, it would be basically impossible for anyone’s character to lie dead at the foot of a blog comment. Your comments speak for themselves, Brandon, as do mine. You should relax in the knowledge that anyone who thinks they can judge someone’s else’s character by the nature of their blog comments is forming conclusions without sufficient evidence. You can’t prevent them from fallaciously drawing conclusions about your character, but in the end, their fallacious conclusions amount to nothing of any value in the real world outside of the ephemeral and abstract blogosphere.

        What I am pointing out here is that you are confusing your opinion with fact. I am also saying that I have noticed that you have a tendency to make that confusion. Actually, that is something that a lot of us do. That tendency is a manifestation of the nature of how humans reason – particularly in the face of controversy around issues related to social or cultural identifications. That trait is not something that distinguishes your “character” from anyone else’s character, although it is my observation that you are notably resistent to accepting that tendency in yourself. Not a big deal, really, and an insignificant trait in comparison to the many traits that in aggregate form someone’s character. Don’t take yourself so seriously.

      • Steven Mosher

        andrew adams | August 7, 2013 at 3:12 am |
        That’s twice so far in this thread you have represented Gleick’s actions as somehow being representative of climate scientists as a whole and of “advocacy”.
        I suppose Climateball is fun sometimes, but it can also be very tedious.
        ##########

        I am not claiming it is representative of all climate scientists. I am making a different claim. please pay attention.

        The claim is this

        1. The discussion over advocacy will devolve into a argument over protecting science; the harm that advocacy might do. That argument will be inconclusive.

        2. People will then argue about guidelines or rulz for advocacy, to prevent potential harm

        Now, at this stage of the debate I point out that GUIDELINES ARE MEANINGLESS WITHOUT ENFORCEMENT

        and i raise Gleick as an EXAMPLE of how the community at large refuses to establish guidelines or enforce guidelines

        Bottom line: ANYTHING GOES.

        Nobody cares what Gleick did. That means, either everybody expects this kind of unethical behavior from climate science ( the damage is already done) or nobody cares about climate science

      • > will-you-condemn-a-thons

        I might steal that one, Andrew.

        You might enjoy:

        http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/tagged/BeingTested

        ***

        Also note that the main effect of the current will-you-condemn-a-thon not to associate scientists with Gleick.

        It burdens you with having to deal with Gleick.

        If you dissociate yourself from Gleick, you have to talk about Gleick, which is the subject will-you-condemn-a-thonians inserted in the conversation.

        If you don’t, then that shows you are unwilling to cross some imaginary green libel

        The best strategy is to acknowledge:

        > Gleick’s actions were suboptimal.

        Then you go on with what you were talking about, because challenging this may trigger many kinds of suboptimal behaviours, some of them will-you-condemn-a-thonians might not wish introduced.

        All my gratitude goes to RyanO for having introduced the concept of suboptimality.

        ***

        Also note that before Gleick, the usual whipping boy was Jones.

        All it took was to have lots of people acknowledging that Phil’s actions were suboptimal.

        The will-you-condemn-a-thonians’ behaviour of the time was suboptimal too, for they continued to pretend that people did not spoke against Jones’ actions, when in fact they did. Would you call this a misrepresentation?

        Not unlike Brandon’s suboptimal blaming game, incidentally.

      • Hmmmm.

        Nobody cares what Gleick did. That means, either everybody expects this kind of unethical behavior from climate science ( the damage is already done) or nobody cares about climate science

        First, “nobody cares?” Really? Is that a claim about all climate scientists? If so, is it accurate? Is it a claim about everybody? If so, is it accurate?

        Second, even if your statement is true, seems to me that you are inaccurately limiting the alternative outcomes. Are there not more than the two possible outcomes that you described? Remember – binary thinking does not match reality very well.

      • Steven Mosher

        AA

        you’ve made some fundamental mistakes in your interpretation of my point. and stepped into a neat little trap. see the end

        My point was NOT to condemn all climate scientists. My point was to point out that there is NO POINT to establishing guidelines when there is

        A) no enforcement mechanism
        B) a HISTORY of rewarding people who do violate the law, much less guidelines.

        So lets go through your comment

        “I’ve seen plenty of people on my “side” say that Gleick was wrong to do what he did, but I don’t see why we should keep on condemning him forever or disassociate ourselves with him completely for a single error of judgement. ”

        1. I have seen no official statement from the AGU or any other body
        condemning what he did
        2. I see no consensus, no attempt to establish a consensus or measure a consensus on his actions.

        3. Youve seen plenty condemn. I’ve seen many applaud.

        4. Do you think it was a single lapse in judgement? you forget the lie to cover up his forgery.

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

        “As for his “punishment” well that’s a matter for the authorities – they investigated and decided no action should be taken, if they had decided otherwise I wouldn’t have complained and I can understand that people might think he got off lightly. But it’s over and done with and his work is still relevant and there is no reason he should not be praised (or indeed criticised) for it, regardless of what else he has done.”

        1. If a community cannot take action against this clear case,
        then they are hopeless.
        2. Did you write the officials and demand that something different be done? no

        Put another way, the argument is made that advocating is OK as long as one follows certain guidelines. Well, whatever those guidelines are I think stealing should fall outside the guidelines. When folks refuse to do anything in the extreme case of gleick, you can expect them to look the other way in tougher cases. the guidlines are window dressing, they are covering your ass, they are meaningless.

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

        Gleick suffered no consequences because guidelines dont matter. Guidelines for responsible advocacy are set up to provide cover for people and when somebody violates the guidelines there is no mechanism for enforcing them and factually no consequences for violating them. They are for PR only.

        If you want to understand tribalism read this. in this case the climate scientist was actually convicted

        “Lasaga was one of the world’s most renowned geochemists. He received the Mineralogical Society of America’s award of the year in 1998 and was considered by one peer to be “Nobel Prize material.”

        During the sentencing, Lasaga’s academic peers advocated leniency because of the expertise that would be lost to the scientific community by imprisoning one of its luminaries.

        For example, the Hartford Courant reported that Heinrich Holland ’46, a Harvard University earth sciences professor said, “All of us in science are expendable, but the loss of the most capable are felt the most strongly.”

        In response to the professors’ courtroom comments, the prosecutor David Strollo said after the trial, “In all my years as a prosecutor, I have never heard people deliver comments so disconnected with reality.”

        of course he was doing work on global warming. give him a pass

        http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2002/2/19/professor-asks-leniency-for-child-molester/

      • Brandon,

        You drew conclusions from my coments which went far beyond what I actually said. You could have avoided this kind of argument by actually quoting my words rather than trying to paraphrase them.

        Still, to answer your points, I certainly agree that what is ethical and what is legal are not necessarily the same, it’s actually a point I’ve made all along in discussions on this topic. The law is not equipped to deal with all kinds of undesirable behaviour so I accept that people may sometimes face sanctions outside of legal penalties if their behaviour is unacceptable in some way. But I’m also wary of the lynch mob mentality which can develop in some cases when a person’s behavour upsets others and people’s inerpretations of others’ behaviour may legitimately differ.

        In Gleick’s case he acted in a dishonest way. You claim he “committed fraud”. Well there are laws expressly formed to deal with such behaviour so it seems to me to be entirely reasonable to let the relevant authorities be the primary arbiters of what kind of punishment he should face. They investigated and decided to take no action, which doesn’t mean his actons were acceptable but suggests that they might not be as serious as you and others claim.

        Of course we still might consider that his actions were sufficiently serious and damaging to his status that he should no longer be allowed to be an active participant in the public debate on climate change. Alternatively one might consider it a one-off aberration for which he has expressed remorse and not sufficently serious in itself to prevent him making a contribution to the debate. It won’t surprise you that I’m in the latter camp, I think everyone deserves a second chance.

        I think you are genuinely entitled to your opinion on this, there’s no “right” answer, so feel free to advocate for him not being invited to give speeches, you can try mocking and ridiculing him even – he certainly strikes me as someone who can look after himself.

        You seem to be acting as if there are only two possible opinions on this though – what he did was so serious that he should be permanently barred from any involvement in climate science or the wider debate on the subject, or what he did was fine. There’s actually a lot of space in between.

        And it’s still wrong for Mosher to insinuate that climate scientists as a whole are not just tolerating or even condoning his behaviour but are (or are likely to) actually replicating it.

      • Steven Mosher

        Joshua

        Joshua | August 7, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
        Hmmmm.

        Nobody cares what Gleick did. That means, either everybody expects this kind of unethical behavior from climate science ( the damage is already done) or nobody cares about climate science

        First, “nobody cares?” Really? Is that a claim about all climate scientists? If so, is it accurate? Is it a claim about everybody? If so, is it accurate?

        1. yes, nobody cares. I’ll believe somebody cares when action is taken.
        words dont count as action.
        2. Really? yes really

        3. Is this a claim about all scientists? yes. You wont find a single one who is actually did something about it. go ahead find the person who cared enough to take action. or even advocate action.

        4. Yes, its accurate

        5. Is it a claim about everyone? No. I know one person who will take action. we will see how it goes. I will let you know.

        6. Yes, thats accurate.

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

        “Second, even if your statement is true, seems to me that you are inaccurately limiting the alternative outcomes. Are there not more than the two possible outcomes that you described? Remember – binary thinking does not match reality very well.”

        If you have a third or fourth alternative or 5th or 6th SERVE THEM UP.

        ALL MODELS ARE WRONG, a binary model will be wrong. Thats never the question. No model will match reality so pointing out that binary thinking doesnt match reality is silly. No model matches reality. Models are tools for understanding. If you have a better model, SERVE IT UP and I will use that model to prove my point. Offer up any model you like and I will use it to prove my point.

      • Steven Mosher

        willard,

        unlike audits condemn-ithons are easy to end

        punish the guilty.

        or you cant keep your nixons around for people to kick.
        you can keep your Wiener in the race

        when you join the world of advocacy you are playing by different rulz
        this isnt academia where folks are polite an all.. This is politics.
        you dont like ugly dirty fighting?

        stay out of the dark alley and let Santer handle it

      • 1. yes, nobody cares. I’ll believe somebody cares when action is taken.
        words dont count as action.

        Heh. Yes, if you limit your world to one where caring and taking action are the same thing, and further that only a specific kind of action equals action, then yes, binary thinking is just as good model for the world as non-binary thinking, because you have reduced all possible outcomes to just two.

        Tautological arguments are tautological.

      • Also, please notice another binary construction in the service of trying to make binary thinking stand up to scrutiny.

        That means, either everybody expects this kind of unethical behavior from climate science ( the damage is already done) or nobody cares about climate science

        What is missing? What is missing is the possibility that nobody thinks that climate science, like anything else in the world, will be free from the actions of individuals that do not justify guilt-by-association. In other words, yes, nobody expects climate science to be free from that kind of behavior. So yes, “everybody expects this kind of behavior from climate science” (as if “climate science” can behave?) – because they don’t have a binary mentality and they realize that individual actions cannot characterize a diverse group, and they realize that climate science comprises flawed individuals just like any other group.

      • Willard,

        I didn’t coin the phrase “will-you-condemn-a-thon” myself but they are certainly quite popular on certain political blogs I frequent.

        See

        http://decentpedia.blogspot.co.uk/2007/08/will-you-condemn-thon.html

        Which makes it all the more inexcusable that I still managed to walk into one myself

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Joshua and andrew adams, you’re both insisting I’m wrong without offering the slightest explanation as to how I am. I made a simple claim. I offered a straightforward explanation justifying it. Neither of you has addressed that explanation in any way.

        Joshua, you’ve simply pretended it doesn’t exist. You then repeat the claim I’m conflating my interpretation with fact. If you willfully ignore the explanation I offer for what I say, it’ll appear I’m just stating an opinion. That’s because you’re willfully misreading what I say.

        On top of that, you claim it isn’t character assassination to repeatedly make the same insulting remarks over and over, in many different places, painting me in a negative way. That’s exactly character assassination. Heck, you do the same thing in conversations I’m not even involved in!

        You follow that up by drawing all sorts of conclusions about my mental state. Lacking telepathy, you had no basis for any of your views of my mental state other than your ability to interpret my words. You were wrong on each of them. That’s fascinating as you are doing exactly what you claim I do.

        andrew adams, you portray me as wrong because I paraphrased you rather than quoting your words. You then proceed to completely ignore the explanation for what I said. In fact, you offer absolutely no reason to believe I was wrong.

        You may not have meant to say what you said. That’s fine. People misspeak. It happens all the time. All you have to do is say you didn’t mean it. We’d move on. But as long as you continue to insist I was wrong, especially if you blame the fact I didn’t quote you, the issue stays alive.

        You two can repeatedly claim I’m wrong, but so long as I’m the only person who has offered any explanation on the issue, I’m right by default. And if we can’t agree on what simple sentences mean because you refuse to have actual discussions, you’re shutting down the discussion. You’re not talking with me; you’re talking at me.

        You don’t have to agree with me. I could have been wrong. But as long as you insist I’m wrong with nothing but fallacious arguments by assertion, you’re fools.

      • Steven,

        You said
        In the end scientists will advocate, they will break into businesses and forge documents, and those who defend their right to advocate will say “tsk tsk” and move along or give them an award.
        But scientists did not obtain the Heartland documents by deception, Gleick did. Your comment certainly seems to me to imply that others either have or would carried out similar actions. And Gleick’s actions fall way outside what anyone is talking about in he current discusions about what are the limits of advocacy by scientists.

        I’ve said about as much as I want to about my view of Gleick’s actions in my reply to Brandon. I accept that some have defended his actions – I think this is misguided but not necessarily unprincipled. People have applauded the almost certainly criminal actions of the climategate hacker, I think this is also not necessarily unprincipled. Sometimes it can be a good thing that information not meant for public consumption is made public even if it is obtained by underhand means.

        As for the extent to which scientists should police other scientists behaviour, I think their should be clear guidelines for conduct directly relating to their scientific work. As far as advocacy goes, I think it’s up to individual scientists where to draw the line. That doesn’t mean it’s OK to break the law if someone thinks it’s justified but then Gleick has not been charged, let alone convicted, of any offence and I’m not sure how far the scientific community should go in policing actions which don’t fall within a scientist’s immediate scientific work.

        But the basic problem we have here is that others, even if they believe Gleick was wrong to do what he did, don’t see his actions in as serious a light as you do. You are asking others to act in a way that assumes they share your judgement. I don’t see how that’s going to be resolved.

      • Steven Mosher

        Joshua

        ‘Heh. Yes, if you limit your world to one where caring and taking action are the same thing, and further that only a specific kind of action equals action, then yes, binary thinking is just as good model for the world as non-binary thinking, because you have reduced all possible outcomes to just two.

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

        note, I dont make the claim you assert I do

        caring and taking action are not the same thing.

        Try again.

        or think about this. I cannot determine if you care about anything.
        I can read your words but your words are just behavior. If you engage in other behavior I can be more certain about your caring. So its not the case of identifying caring with action. Its the case of being more certain about your caring by watching what you do. .

        You tell me you care about the environment but then you pollute. what is a good explanation of this? what explanations are warranted, what explanations are rationally justifed? what explanations are we entitled to make. do we have to justify our explanations?

        I conclude that the failure to act can simply be explained as the result of people not caring. they might say they care, thats just a piece of evidence. people say all sorts of shit. I look at their actions and say.. hmm, actions speak louder than words. But Maybe not in all cases,

        Lets think of some.. civil rights? ya caring was way more important than acting?
        equal rights? ya caring was way more important than acting

      • > I made a simple claim.

        Remind the readers which one, Brandon.

        Your constant handwaving is obnoxious.

      • Steven Mosher

        AA

        ‘But scientists did not obtain the Heartland documents by deception, Gleick did.
        Your comment certainly seems to me to imply that others either have or would carried out similar actions. ”

        1. Stop drawing conclusions that are unwarranted.
        2. Since some defended his actions, its clear that others might
        consider similar actions.
        3. Others have violated the law.

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

        And Gleick’s actions fall way outside what anyone is talking about in he current discusions about what are the limits of advocacy by scientists.”

        THIS IS MY POINT.

        1. there are guidelines
        2. What he did falls waaay outside those guidelines
        3. Nobody cared enough to do anything.

        therefore, arguing about guidelines to prevent milder abuses is
        silly. Put another way. If your mother tells you and your brother not to shoot heroin and not to eat cookies from the cookie jar and you confess to shooting heroin and your mother does nothing, should ur brother take her rule about cookies seriously

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

        “I’ve said about as much as I want to about my view of Gleick’s actions in my reply to Brandon. I accept that some have defended his actions – I think this is misguided but not necessarily unprincipled. People have applauded the almost certainly criminal actions of the climategate hacker, I think this is also not necessarily unprincipled. Sometimes it can be a good thing that information not meant for public consumption is made public even if it is obtained by underhand means.”

        huh?
        yes some defended him. See your comment above. do you wonder why people might think others would do likewise?

        Not unprincipled? is that your guideline. very funny, you prove my point.

        the climategate hacker. He should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law regardless of his principles. But the same folks who defend Gleick for his “not unprincipled” actions are unwilling to extend the same get out jail card to the hacker.

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

        “As for the extent to which scientists should police other scientists behaviour, I think their should be clear guidelines for conduct directly relating to their scientific work. As far as advocacy goes, I think it’s up to individual scientists where to draw the line. That doesn’t mean it’s OK to break the law if someone thinks it’s justified but then Gleick has not been charged, let alone convicted, of any offence and I’m not sure how far the scientific community should go in policing actions which don’t fall within a scientist’s immediate scientific work.”

        if its up to each scientist to draw the line, then what is the point of guidelines about speaking outside your area of expertise?
        What is the point of requiring people to disclose conflicts of interest?
        You note that folks can draw their own line, but then you refuse to say that its wrong to break the law while advocating.

        As for Gleick being charged. He admitted to the crime.

        Finally you fail to get the point about policing. the community is unwilling and unable to police scientists behavior INSIDE science when they violate scientific norms and OUTSIDE science when they engage in advocacy and activism. Its unable and unwilling.
        Therefore, it makes no practical sense to talk about guidelines, even your guideline : ‘decide for yourself’ is just a pointless exercise.

        Scientists will advocate. Some will break the law. 99.9% wont. You cant stop them from advocating. Guidelines wont do any good. basically anything goes— thats a principle

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

        “But the basic problem we have here is that others, even if they believe Gleick was wrong to do what he did, don’t see his actions in as serious a light as you do. You are asking others to act in a way that assumes they share your judgement. I don’t see how that’s going to be resolved.”

        wrong. I am NOT ASKING THEM TO SHARE MY JUDGMENT
        I am noting that they dont share my judgement. And I’m saying
        Talking about guidelines for advocacy with people who DONT SHARE MY JUDGEMENT is silly. They have already demonstrated through their actions that anything goes, so why in gods name would I discuss the limits to advocacy with people who refuse to action in a case that clearly required action.

        I conclude that they will never do anything about advocacy or activism and that in their world as a pragmatic fact anything goes.

        To recap: Judith was invited to a hang out to discuss responsible advocacy

        My position: this will end up in a discussion over guidelines and that discussion is futile since nobody takes the guidelines seriously. Evidence that guidelines are not serious can be found by looking at the Gleick case

        Your suggestion; “make up your own guideline’ is ANOTHER EXAMPLE of pointless guidelines, unless you beat yourself when you disobey your own guidelines

      • Andrew Adams,

        You see how it works?

        I will never advise you to simply say “Gleick’s actions were suboptimal” and wash your hands of this appearance of conversation.

        I will not tell you what I would do either.

        I’m just telling you what I did and that it worked.

      • I don’t see why we should keep on condemning him forever or disassociate ourselves with him completely for a single error of judgement

        Error of judgement? It was a lotmore than an error of judgement – it was a deliberate, calculated act, and there are plenty of people in jail for having done a lot less.
        And, having shown what he’s made of, why should anyone trust him again – ever?

      • To add to Mosher’s comments, let us not forget Peter Gleick was head of the AGU Ethics committee. That is a statement all on its own.

        As to comments about him not be charged – Andrew, perhaps you should bone up on how the US Attorney’s offices work. They have a fair anount of latitude with regard to what cases they bring charges on. Elements in this decision process include case load, available resources, probability of conviction and politics. The Glieck / Heartland incident would have to come out of the Chicago office (I believe it is technically the District of Illinois). Leaving aside any theories involving politics, there is the fact of the Chicago office having a lot on its plate. When you have multiple political officials, including a US Representative (and I believe a former governor or two) you are either investigating or prosecuting, the Peter Glieck case barely rises to the level of attention. But that most certainly should not be considered as cover for what he did.

        It is pretty simple. Glieck stole and lied. As my dad told my brothers and I growing up, “the three things you never want to give people cause to call you are a lier, a thief or a cheat.” For those who think honor is an outdated concept, brushing his actions aside as not much should be easy. But for some of us, it is inexcusable.

      • Brandon,

        You said

        You’ve basically just said it’s okay for global warming advocates to lie and cheat as long as they don’t break the law. Actually, it’s more like as long as they don’t get caught and convicted for breaking the law.

        I did not say at any point that it was OK to lie and cheat.

      • It is only necessary that good men do nothing. Heh, and we know that Fitzgerald is not even a good man.
        ================

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        andrew adams:

        I did not say at any point that it was OK to lie and cheat.

        I’ve shown how what you wrote says exactly that, at least as far as any sort of punishment goes. You can continue to ignore what I’ve written if you want, but that won’t make it go away. And it won’t make you right. It’ll just make you look like a fool.

        If you misspoke, you misspoke. That’s not a big deal. You can just admit it and the topic dies. Alternatively, if I was wrong, you could show I was wrong. Do that, I’d admit I was wrong, and the topic dies.

        The only way this discussion continues is for you to continue to dismiss what I say without addressing it. Do you want this to continue? If so, keep failing to hold a simple discussion.

      • Steven,

        Let’s step back a bit. The discussion over the last few days has been about the extent to which it is appropriate for scientists to advocate for specific policies and how this affects the public’s perception. Tamsin complains that by seeming to go further than their expertise allows scientists lose the trust of the public. Others such as Gavin Schmitdt disagree and take the view (which I share) that in general scientists should be free to say what they like and it is up to individuals to decide for themselves the extent to which they take part in policy debates. Others have expressed views somewhere inbetween – it has been an interesting and nuanced debate.
        In practice Gavin’s view will prevail because scientists don’t in general have the right to dictate to other scientists what they should or shouldn’t do. There aren’t any formal guidelines for advocacy of the kind you seem to suggest do or at least should exist, other than those which may be laid down by the institutions for which they work, and I don’t think there should be.
        That doesn’t mean that “anything goes”. Obviously scientists should be honest in their advocacy and abide by the norms of civilised behaviour – the underlying issue here is the public perception of scientists and the public will judge whether their activities undermine their credibility and trustworthiness. They are also accountable to their employers, to scientific societies to which they belong and of course at the extremes they have to act within the law like the rest of us.
        It’s not the job of individual scientists to “police” other scientists’ political activities though. They are certainly entitled to criticise others if they feel their political activities are actually damaging to the interest of science, or indeed if they just think they’ve behaved badly, but I don’t think they are obliged to express a view.
        Going back to Gleick, his actions clearly transgressed the ethical standards I mentioned above and were legally dubious at best. His actions were not representative of climate scientists as a whole and I think you exaggerate the extent to which other other climate scientists have supported his actions – the large majority of people I have seen supporting him have been non-scientist blog commenters and with maybe one or two exceptions all of the climate scientists I have seen commenting on the issue have said he was wrong to do what he did. I certainly haven’t heard anyone involved the current debate suggest that what he did falls within the bounds of acceptable advocacy so I’m not sure it helps the debate to drag him into it.

      • Brandon,

        I’ve re-read what I wrote and I still don’t see that implies that it’s OK to lie and cheat – I merely pointed out that those who actually had power to take action against him for for doing so had decided not to pursue the matter.
        But if it makes you happy then I don’t think that generally it is OK to lie and cheat or that failure to be punished for certain actions is necessarily a justification for them.

      • timg56,

        Thanks for your suggestion as to why Gleick may have escaped prosecution for his actions, it sounds reasonable. My first thoughts when I learned about his actions was that he had most likely broken the law, although it’s also true that journalists and others obtain non-public information by deceptive means and seems to keep on the right side of the law (I appreciate that they would not impersonate real people to do so). I agree though, as I said to Brandon, that the fact that he escaped prosecution does not itself justify his actions, and I don’t think that it’s appropriate for scientists to stoop to the same methods of journalists (which I think are sometimes justified).

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        andrew adams:

        I’ve re-read what I wrote and I still don’t see that implies that it’s OK to lie and cheat

        Did you read what I wrote when I explained how you said exactly that? If so, what part of it do you disagree with or not understand? If not, why not?

        I offered a simple and straightforward explanation. I then referenced it multiple times. You could settle this entire dispute by simply addressing it. Why haven’t you? Why have you discussed everything except it?

      • …when I explained how you said exactly that?

        Really – spectacular, Brandon. Just goes to show how people can convince themselves of almost anything.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Joshua, I’ve gone to lengths to explain why I said what I said. If you don’t have any response to my explanations, you’d be better off not saying anything. Insisting someone is wrong while adamantly refusing to address the reasoning they provide is just pathetic.

      • Speak of the devil Oops – wouldn’t want to be accused of “character assassination….

        Joshua, I’ve gone to lengths to explain why I said what I said. If you don’t have any response to my explanations,…

        Brandon – I have responded to what you said. My response was that what you said was demonstrably false. You first claimed that AA “basically” said something that he didn’t say and I pointed out that your interpretation was subjective although you treated it as fact. In response to my pointing it out, you then went further to claim that your interpretation was “exactly” what he said. So you’re moving forward into the wrong direction.

        If you back up and acknowledge your error, then it might be useful to move on and discuss why you said what you said – and in so doing confused opinion with fact. The why behind why you confuse opinion with fact is an interesting question. I think the discussion might be instructive for you, but to get to that point you first have to stop insisting on things that are demonstrably false. That is the starting point.

      • Anyway, Brandon – all the stuffing has fallen out of my handbag. Maybe I’ll catch you on another thread.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Joshua, you’re full of it. You say:

        Brandon – I have responded to what you said. My response was that what you said was demonstrably false.

        You have never done anything to show my claim “was demonstrably false.” You merely asserted that. Over, and over, and over. In the process, you ignored the explanation I gave for my claim, and you repeatedly made claims like:

        your interpretation was subjective although you treated it as fact

        The reality is I treated my interpretation as fact because I offered simple, straightforward reasoning to justify it. This reasoning has never been addressed in any form or fashion by you or andrew adams. Instead, you have both repeatedly insisted I was wrong while ignoring the justification I offered for what I said.

        You’re insulting me based upon nothing but your hollow claims that I’m wrong. You’ve offered nothing but arguments by assertion. Quite simply, you’re making things up while ignoring what I say in order to belittle me.

        If you have a shred of integrity, you’ll address the explanation I’ve given. My guess is you won’t.

      • > You have never done anything to show my claim “was demonstrably false.”

        Brandon never did anything to support this claim.

        See how easy it is to armwave negative existentials.

        For more on negative existentials, cf.

        http://www.jstor.org/stable/2023455

      • > andrew adams, it’s nice to know you think [...]

        Basically think, I surmise.

  10. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    This week’s irresponsible advocacy:

    • The NRA’s professional-grade creepy pro-lead website

    • Anthony Watt’s professional-grade creepy JC SNIP of SkS JC NOTE: AW claims that the accusation of hacking is not true

    • Willis Eschenbach’s professional-grade creepy sexist attacks on scientists

    It’s heartening to watch the denialist community imploding into ever-creepier bubbles of ever-more-egregious stupidity!

    What’s amazing is that so much of this week’s creepy denialism is professional-grade. Your average citizen couldn’t create a creepy website as professionally polished as the NRA’s, or creepily hack other folks’ directories as skillfully as Anthony Watts, or creepily slur scientists in Willis abusive-yet-expressive style.

    Conclusion  Irresponsible professional-grade denialist creepiness will greatly diminish in coming years, as special interests stop subsidizing denialist creeps!

    Because creepy denialism just doesn’t work, eh?

    \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • Fan

      Welcome back! No doubt you have been spending your time wisely researching all manner of scientific aspects of climate change and are now a full blown sceptic.
      Tonyb

      • Tony,
        I’m beginnin’ ter think yer did yer Masters in Irony. )
        Funnily enuff, I was jest thinkin’ the other day, ‘Now
        where;s that ol’ fan of *more* discourse got to?’…
        and here he is. G’day fan.
        Beth the serf.

      • Tell us something new regarding Willis’s letter-to-the-editor. We all knew that Willis could creep people out. Check out his “autobiographical” guest posts on the famed “science” blog WUWT :

        wattsupwiththat.com/2013/02/24/behind-bars-again/
        “At the time I was s_xually involved with three women. ”

        Read the whole thing and you will understand why he has no awareness or muzzle on what he is saying.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      LOL … greetings and best wishes to you, TonyB!

      Mainly, I’ve been contemplating the time-honored scientific tradition that, when civilizations are confronted by grave long-term threats, residual scientific doubts must eventually yield to the moral imperative of scientific advocacy.

      Conclusion  If it was right for Einstein and Szilard to speak out in 1939, then it is right too for Hansen and Mann to speak out in 2013.

      That is why (as it seems to me) Judith Curry needs to reflect upon (and reference) the long history of scientific advocacy, especially in her Climate Etc posts on this topic.

      Isn’t that plain common-sense, TonyB?

      • Hey Fan! Where you been keeping your passionate, thoroughly exasperating, always entertaining self? Good to see you back!

      • Fan,

        as someone with experience with nuclear weapons, their impact if utilized was at least sonewhat well known. Care to tell us what well known impacts from a warmer world we can count on?

      • Pokerguy,

        way to make me puke.

      • To mention the Einstein and Szilard letter, 68 years to the day on which 90,000–166,000 Japanese were killed by the first use of a nuclear weapon is tasteless.
        Bainbridge witnessed the Trinity shot and he turned to Oppenheimer and said, “Now we are all sons of bitches.”
        Be very, very, careful what you wish for.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        DocMartyn, your concerns have three disturbing implications:

        • it was wrong in 1939 for Einstein and Szilard to be scientific advocates, and

        • it is wrong in 2013 for Hansen and Mann to be scientific advocates, and

        • it is wrong for citizens to praise scientific advocacy as practiced by Einstein, Szilard, Hansen, and Mann.

        In respect to the above three concerns, it seems (to me) that you — and Judith Curry too — are plainly on the wrong side of history.

        Because whenever long-term consequences are grave, and strategic controversies sharp, is precisely when scientific advocacy is *most* valuable.

        Isn’t that plain common-sense, DocMartyn?

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • Heh, Fan’s ‘long term consequences’. The long term consequences, greening and warming the world, will be beneficial. You need ‘advocacy’ to paint them otherwise.
        ==============

      • Oppenheimer, Einstein and Szilard were intellectual giants. Mann and Hansen are intellectual pygmies.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Kim, in respect to the purported “benefits” of global warming, all conservative-minded citizens may reasonably object to:

        • Big Carbon’s unilateral determination that “warming is good”, and

        • Big Carbon’s promulgation of this self-serving thesis by methods of pseudo-science, denialism, slurs, and creepy hackery.

        Conservative common-sense demands that ordinary citizens recognize, denounce and reject Big Carbon’s creepy denialist propaganda, right Kim?

        Because that’s how rational democratic discourse works!

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • What would we do without Fan’s example of rational discourse?
        =============

      • You love using false analogies. Einstein was not speaking out on a belief in science, only what he thought the Nazis (er, excuse me, SkS) would do with the existing science. he was not advocating a new form of religion, as is being done now.

        A false god is a false god, no matter how you want to sugar coat it. And all you do when advocating for it, is sacrifice a few pretty young women for nothing. Seems we had the same religion thousands of years ago, in all parts of the world. Did not do any good then either.,

      • Matthew R Marler

        A fan of *MORE* discourse: If it was right for Einstein and Szilard to speak out in 1939, then it is right too for Hansen and Mann to speak out in 2013.

        I agree. I think it is fundamentally self-defeating for a group of self-appointed or academy-appointed or government-appointed “experts” of some kind to rule on what constitutes “responsible” and “irresponsible” advocacy. The only thing that can work in the long run is for all advocacy to be challenged and debated openly by all advocates.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Doc Martyn: To mention the Einstein and Szilard letter, 68 years to the day on which 90,000–166,000 Japanese were killed by the first use of a nuclear weapon is tasteless.

        “Taste” is in the mind of the beholder. This is nothing more than a dramatic instance of the concept that scientific advocacy can have a different effect than what was intended. What was intended was to prevent Nazi Germany from obtaining a nuclear weapon first before it could be defeated; what happened was that the defeat of Japan was accelerated. The story gets much more complicated. This is the perfect time to draw attention to Einstein and Szilard with respect to scientific advocacy.

      • If it was right for Einstein and Szilard to speak out in 1939, then it is right too for Hansen and Mann to speak out in 2013.

        By the same token, would it have been right for German scientists to have spoken out as advocates of nuclear armament during WWII?

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        The enduring lesson — and the enduring shame — of Germany’s scientific, mathematical, medical, engineering, and religious communities is that too *FEW* professionals spoke out.

        That is why calls for the muzzling of professional advocacy (like Judith Curry’s) are just plain wrong.

        Conclusion  The Pope knows how to do scientific advocacy right!

        `Cuz those Catholics definitely understand history, ain’t that right phatboy?

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • There’s little shame in not speaking out when to do so would likely lead you and your family to be lined up against a wall and shot, isn’t that right, fannie?

      • …besides which, that was a case of speaking out against unspeakable evil, rather than speaking out against people who dare to question your pet hypothesis – huge difference, eh fanny?

    • Fanny, it doesn’t take a “professional grade creepyasshacker” to find pictures in the google cache. Just junior-level internet skilz. There are millions of 3rd graders who could have found those pictures.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse | August 6, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Reply
      “This week’s irresponsible advocacy:
      • Anthony Watt’s professional-grade creepy hacking of SkS ”

      Afomod; you should one day warp your head around the concept of a publically visible folder on a webserver. Or how web publishing works in general. You’d be surprised.

      Apologies if you were just making a joke.

      • Scott Basinger

        Fan is constantly joking. Can’t you tell?

      • ROTFL!!!! Hacking? Who does the typing for Fan? And speaking of “creepy”, can any of the alarmists explain why you guys were keeping photoshopped (hopefully you guys weren’t playing dress up) pics of you guys in Nazi outfits? I mean sure, an alarmist is also a misanthropist, but, that’s taking it a bit far!!!

      • Just jealous, these ham-handed propagandists.
        ========

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      It may be that Anthony/WUWT did not know that WUWT’s “anonymous” contributor was probing the SkS website for vulnerabilities using professional-grade hacking techniques and/or software tools.

      If Anthony/WUWT *did* know that, then no doubt Anthony/WUWT would have informed SkS of its web-site’s directory-listing vulnerability. Because collegiality is an important protection against hacking, right?

      Conclusion  Perhaps WUWT’s anonymous contributor should have a candid discussion with Anthony? Regarding WUWT’s code-of-conduct?

      \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • LOL!!! Yeh, that’s what happened!!! Or, more likely Cook is a noob and doesn’t know how to manage his site, as has been demonstrated before. The problem isn’t “professional hackers and software”. The problem is amateur net admins. Fact is, you can tell when you’re being crawled by software. But, knowing files are there is entirely different than having access to them.

        conclusion: SkS is run by a bunch of weird noobs who have a strange fascination with National Socialists.

      • They are the ones advocating returning to the past practices (tattooing skeptics, gassing them, etc.).

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        To make the above point more concretely, Anthony should have asked his contributor (whose identity is known only to Anthony)

        “Did you use hacking techniques to determine that the SkS server hosted a vulnerable directory tree rooted in “http://www.sksforum.org/images/user_uploaded/”. And if not by hacking, then how *did* you learn the name of that directory?”

        Remark  Gosh, it would be mighty interesting to know the professional identity and/or technological tool-set and/or contractual engagements of Anthony/WUWT’s source!

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • Remark: Look in the mirror.

      • It’s magic.

      • Here, Fan. Here’s a clue. Don’t say I never did you any favors:

        Ric Werme says: “Hey, a11g0n3 is leet-speak for allgone. Oh Lord, there be idiots over there.”

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Seriously? It was a subdirectory of a directory one is directed to when visiting the login page for the site. That doesn’t take a “professional-grade hacking technique” to find. It takes looking at the URL of an image on the page you’re viewing.

        That said, I don’t mind if we consider what was done here “professional-grade hacking.” It just means you should pay me to do things like it.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Thank you for contributing your web-site hacking methods, Brandon Shollenberger!

        Your post is instructive too regarding the elastic limits of hacker/denialist ethics. When mail is delivered to your house by mistake, then you feel justified in reading that mail […] isn’t that what the hacker/denialist ethical code amounts to?

        Suggestion  Perhaps you and Anthony Watts might both beneficially reflect upon the strengthening public condemnation of hacker/denialist ethics in climate-change skepticism

        Because the ethical principles associated to rational public discourse are well-worth thinking about, isn’t that right Brandon?

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        So… you’re insane? Publicly viewable folders are publicly viewable. There is no hacking involved with looking at them. That’s like claiming I hacked into my neighbor’s apartment because I looked in his window as I walked by the side of my house.

        By the way, I can assure you the identity of Anthony’s source is known to more than just Anthony.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Hmmmm … Brandon, are you receiving complaints in regard to your predilection for window-peeping? There *are* folks who regard such behavior as “creepy”, yah know!

        Your recent posts (and recent WUWT/Anthony posts too) are entirely correct, however, in vigorously asserting that creepy denialist/hacker practices are *not* illegal!

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • They are indeed legal. No one had to hack any passwords to gain access. The owners made the directory open to the public. That is legal. And it is also legal for the public to view the contents. There was no warning, no disclaimer, and no restrictions.

        In other words, you have no clue what you are talking about.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        What is wrong with you? How do you conclude I’ve been “vigorously asserting” anything isn’t illegal in my recent posts when I haven’t said a word about anything being legal or illegal in over a month?

        You don’t need to bother answering that. I’m sure anything you’d say would be as mind-bogglingly wrong. I don’t intend to respond to more of your delusions.

      • The hive is desperate and mad; this dancer has them all over the terrain, and no flowers.
        ===========

      • “There *are* folks who regard such behavior as “creepy”, yah know!”

        It’s not our fault that you don’t understand computer technology. There used to be people who thought a camera would steal their souls. That’s not the fault of the photographer. Maybe we should establish a nature reserve for people like you where there are no electronics.

      • When a fool is making a fool of himself, you do not interfere. You merely allow him to proceed.

        Maybe you should not have photoshopped pictures.

      • How do you conclude I’ve been “vigorously asserting” anything isn’t illegal in my recent posts when I haven’t said a word about anything being legal or illegal in over a month?

        How timely.

        Brandon, fan is just telling you what s/he thinks you “basically just said.”

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        philjourdan claims  “They [WUWT actions] are indeed legal. No one had to hack any passwords to gain access. The owners made the directory open to the public. That is legal.”

        Here are two points for you to ponder, philjourdan.

        (1) “Legal”, “Moral”, and “Collegial” are three different things, ain’t that right?

        (2) The question previously asked

        “Did [WUWT] use hacking techniques to determine that the SkS server hosted a vulnerable directory tree rooted in “http://www.sksforum.org/images/user_uploaded/”. And if not by hacking, then how *did* WUWT learn the name of that directory?”has not been answered (by you, or by anyone), ain’t that right?

        Conclusion  WUWT’s (never-disclosed) web-hackery was definitely uncollegial, arguably immoral, and potentially illegal. Continued evasions and quibbling are making WUWT’s actions look less-and-less sober-minded.

        Thank you, philjourdan, for helping to clarify these matters!

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • Fan, I only spoke on what you spoke on – the legality. Now you want to move the bar. Sorry, I do not play with straw men. So play with yourself.

        Since the files were public, there was no hacking involved, there was no illegality.

        Try again. And keep your silly games to yourself.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        philjourdan, it’s good that neither you, nor any WUWT/Anthony defenders, nor WUWT/Anthony himself, are attempting to argue that WUWT’s actions were collegial or moral!

        As for legality, it’s interesting that neither you, nor any WUWT/Anthony defenders, nor WUWT/Anthony himself, have ever answered the question posed above:

        If not by hacking, then how (specifically) did WUWT/Anthony determine that the SkS server hosted a vulnerable directory tree rooted in “http://www.sksforum.org/images/user_uploaded/”?

        Would you care to try again, philjourdan?

        Because if you have a concrete answer, then you could do WUWT/Anthony a considerable service by posting that answer, right?

        \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

      • Fan, I told you I will not play your childish games. Your first argument was that it was illegal. I refuted your opinion. And showed you were it was not illegal. I have not commented on any other aspect of what transpired.

        If you want to argue your opinion over the other issues, when you have already been proven wrong on the initial issue, that is your game to play.

        But do not put words into my mouth, nor speak for people who value facts over opinion, and you have no earthly idea what they think know or do.

      • > © Copyright 2013 John Cook

        http://www.skepticalscience.com

        Do we have any evidence that Willard Tony claims fair use?

    • The Norwegian Armed forces are in the process of being sued because the lead free bullets and metal free propellants they switched have causes serious lung problems in up to 5% of their users.
      I know that the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment are running trials on the health effects of ‘green bullets’ at the moment to try to stave off a massive lawsuit.

    • The best part of that post is Willis’ response to the criticism.

      Absolutely hilarious.

    • WebHubTelescope (@WHUT) | August 6, 2013 at 10:29 pm said: ”Tell us something new”

      G’day Mr. Telescop, lots of greetings from Australia

    • Un, einstein, you cannot HACK what is publicly available. Did you leave your brain by your bedside?

    • Matthew R Marler

      a fan of more discourse: • Willis Eschenbach’s professional-grade creepy sexist attacks on scientists

      Was it professional grade?

      I grant that it was an easy target for effective biting mockery and derision, but I think it was demonstrably amateurish.

    • Sigh…. Here we go again. The quality of Climate, Etc. comment threads was notably higher during the recent absence of this bizarre creepy semi-psychotic hyper-ventilating “Fan of Malicious Discourse.”

      Blog software needs a kind of “permanent ignore” button for users — I would not bother to notice anything from FOMD if it did not clog up the threads. I will go back to ignoring any comments posted by FOMD, because they are typically not accurate, rational, and worthy of discussion.

    • Science creates ‘green’ bullet cancer rounds…

      http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/04/toxic-tungsten/

      to propel the next wave of doctors.

  11. Scientists can do all the advocacy they like. You cannot deny them this privilege. Engaging in advocacy take time and distracts you from your scientific work, but if that’s what you wank – fine.

    What scientists should not do is produce garbage like the hockey-stick and claim that this is science and not advocacy.
    Do the science right, based on facts and data, publish your data and code, don’t hide the decline or do clever tricks, admit what you don’t know, correct errors, don’t collude to prevent publication of dissenting views, don’t do pal-review, don’t cherry-pick.

    The problem with climate scientists is not that they do advocacy, it is that that they do nothing but advocacy, that advocacy drives their “science”, that the science is lousy.

  12. When scientists communicate with the public, good practice requires being clear about uncertainties, presenting competing views or interpretations of data, and stating the limitations of the data you present
    [...]
    [From Steneck guidelines:]

    Be aware of any conflicts of interest – for example, financial interests that you or members of your family have or affiliations with advocacy organizations – and make them clear;

    Point out the weakness and limitations of your argument, including data that conflict with your recommendations;

    Present all relevant scientific data, not just that which supports a particular policy outcome;

    Good to know that you will be one of the participants, Judith. Since Richard Betts will also be there (and, as a Lead Author of AR5, is probably the closest to an approximation of a representative of the IPCC) perhaps you could highlight the above for him, because he (and the IPCC) seem to be blissfully unaware of such concepts!

    For example, apart from the fact that the IPCC fails to identify the advocacy affiliations of those on the writing teams (or to comply with any of the above guidelines), I remember a few years ago when Donna Laframboise had identified a number of IPCC-niks who were also members of WWF’s so-called “Science Advisory Panel” for their “Climate Witness Program”. The verbal gymnastics in which Betts had engaged in the hope of finding some reason which would exonerate the choice these IPCC-niks had made were quite amazing to behold!

    It will also be interesting to see if Gavin Schmidt has learned any lessons since his rather childish performances on Fox not too long ago, when he refused to sit at the same table as Roy Spencer.

    OTOH, perhaps both Betts and Schmidt could both learn something from Doug McNeall who, in very stark contrast, definitely seems to get it:

    Engagement

    I do not think that being actively policy neutral means that we shouldn’t engage with the public, with politicians, with the media, and even in policy debates. Scientists should be seen to be human, should show their (sometimes messy) working, should be able to point out their own biases, and their ignorance when it comes to (e.g) policy. Yes, I know that increasing carbon dioxide concentrations will have an impact on the planet’s climate. No, I do not know if a carbon tax will work to bring those concentrations down. Yes, you should be robust in pointing out when someone is wrong. No, I do not approve of you calling someone a denier, you are polluting my communication environment. [emphasis added -hro]

  13. I think the primary problem is so much government funding. Such largess always leads to corruption, and just as bad, deeply biased thinking.. Can’t ever remember if it was Sinclair Lewis or Upton Sinclair who said, “It’s almost impossible to get someone to understand something when their salary depends on their not understanding. ” (Or words to that effect.)

    I don’t know how we can separate well intended calls for action from motivated self interest. If the urgency of the problem goes away, so does the money, and the careers, and in some cases the “oh so reluctant” super stardom of egomaniacal jerks like Mann.

    I don’t know enough about the workings of science to make a recommendation. But I do know that government almost always causes at more problems than it solve when they start throwing money at things.

    Liberals never can see this for some reason. I know, because I used to be one.

    The global warming/climate change fiasco has it’s roots in wasted tax dollars, not Co2

    • Conquest’s third law:
      3.The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.

      A reformulation of the Law Of Unintended consequences…

  14. > In the public arena, a definition that generated wide agreement was that advocacy is attempting to influence a specific outcome, to tell an external stakeholder, “This is what you should do!” It is a deliberate, purposeful public expression of an opinion or point of view.

    This excludes the kind of advertizing where someone says “this is what I do!”.

    To make sure they don’t advocate for anything, scientists who would like may prefer to say “this is what I do!”

    • Not following, Willard. Examples?

      • Thanks for asking, pokerguy.

        Here might be a recent example:

        Others ask “what should we do?” At my Cheltenham Science Festival event Can we trust climate models? one of the audience asked what we thought of carbon taxes. I refused to answer, despite the chair’s repeated requests and joke (patronisingly; his aim was to entertain) that I “shouldn’t be embarrassed at my lack of knowledge”.

        http://judithcurry.com/2013/07/31/tamsin-on-scientists-and-policy-advocacy/

        Do you think that, by telling us what she does, Tamsin advocates for anything in particular?

      • Weird Willard,

        that you now use Tasmin Edwards as an example when you were basically ridiculing her on the thread about her experiences.

      • Let’s see, between Tamsin and willard, pick the one making themselves ridiculous.
        ===========

      • Where did I did what you claim I did, timg56?

      • perhaps I misunderstood your 5:25 comment. It appeared to me your Tasmin reference was of a positive note – re a good example.

        The manner of your comments have gotten rather – well, strange, for lack of a better word. They sure seem to lack the sharpness you previously exhibited. Instead its mostly evading points or questions and hard to follow phrasing.

        At least you are not lon winded like Joshua.

        Plus fan is back. You can take a break while he posts idiotic stuff to distract us.

    • Steven Mosher

      Yes,

      One might well distinguish between

      1. this is what I do: I don’t drive a car
      2. this is what you should do: dont drive your car
      3. This is what we should do: ban driving

      I suppose they are all advocating in the weakest sense of the term.

  15. Having worked with NASA and other government agencies over a period of forty years, I learned that you not only need to get the science right to a certain extent but you must get the politics correct without exception. The government activity, which serves as the customer and or funding source in most US scientific endeavors is first and foremost a political entity no matter what you may wish to be the case. To think otherwise is to be naive. Scientist who succeed in the long term must keep the gravy train running and learn to set aside absolute rules and create clever definitions (hold their noses so to speak) to assure that their efforts play to the politics of the funding entity so that they can obtain grants and or contracts. Similarly, reports submitted must never embarrass the sponsor; the government has a long-shared memory. I don’t mean to imply that all scientific work is judged politically. Nevertheless, I do wish to state unequivocally that those projects that can serve political means or purposes must be expressed in politically acceptable terms to succeed therefore it is much easier for scientists to obtain funding from likeminded sponsors then it is for scientist with a different point of view to gain any form of consideration. Climate science related issues where advocacy is expected seem to be more like the later than the former. This is a conundrum that working scientist must consider. Skeptics of the PC science must seek other venues to be heard and/or funded.

    While it is interesting to play nice with academic essays about science vs advocacy, where the rubber meats the road and contracts and grants are awarded, you had best set aside every feeling of personal purity and strive for success. Politics is not interested in pure science and never has been.

    Now that I am retired I can say what I’ve known for a long time.
    Ben

  16. This topic is so difficult because advocacy involves framing in some deliberately chosen ‘best light’ that necessarily understates contrary scientific information and overstates scientific certainty. (Presuming that for interesting policy questions the related science is not unambiguous).
    Mosher’s humorous costumes suggestion does not solve this problem. Scientists (or their official spokespersons via their societies) wearing their lab coat costumes and saying “the science is settled” when it manifestly isn’t are precisely this problem. What that form of disguised advocacy does is severely damage all scientific credibility, as now with the AGU that richly deserves your failing grade on the criteria above.

    One solution is for scientists to refrain from advocacy, but that costs society the loss of valuable perspectives and legitimate opinions. We should care what Tamsin thinks. Another solution is to be mindful and clear about the distinctions (a version of “costumes”), but that does not fully solve the shaded uncertainty problem in individual scientific judgement.
    Another solution is presented by this blog (and more generally free speech amongst informed adults), by hashing the issues out openly, a process demonstrably subverted by the AGU, APS, or the IPCC (which insultingly even pretends the opposite). Metaphorically the best disinfectant for scientific rot is information sunshine. Also works on politically correct party lines like the bunkum AGU statement.
    One problem with this ‘information freedom’ solution is biased or poor MSM information dissemination, with many examples given in The Arts of Truth. But MSM are ever less relevant, as the sale of WaPo, and the rise of inexpensive ebooks and informative blogs vividly shows. Another is information overload, requiring reliable mechanisms to sort wheat from chaff. This presumes some modicum of intelligence, and some personal effort. Not a solution for sheeple.

    CAGW is interesting from this process perspective because it is one of the great policy issues, begun in the era of information control (by experts like IPCC and MSM like NYT and WaPo) but ending in the Internet era of information freedom. The AGU just tried to co-opt Pielke Sr’s voice, and it isn’t working out so well for them. Shouting louder (SkS trick) or tweeting more often (Mann trick) or deleting contrary comments (both) simply does not work in an era of copy, save, forward where hundreds or thousands of informed minds can chew on the evidence. (Although it only takes one, as Steve McIntyre has repeatedly shown).
    Thanks for providing a forum for informational sunshine; the etc. part may have more lasting impact than the climate part.

    • Many good comments, Rud. I do not mourn the increasing obsolescence of media outlets like the NYT’s, whose coverage of the global warming climate change issue has been nothing less than propagandistic.

      How many pieces have they done on this or that heat wave, all but outright claiming via the same few scientists whose careers and reputations have been built on this issue, that they were caused by global warming, only to see 6 months later, study after study showing that they were merely the outcome of natural variability.

      Do we see follow-up pieces to pass this important information on? Of course not. It’s fine and dandy to print what amounts to speculation that is supportive of the CAGW cause, but facts that are not in support are verboten.

    • Very insightful and educational read. I guess my big problem with the advocacy of climate science in particular, is the enormous cost of this one issue ~ 2 trillion dollars or thereabouts for a “problem” that up to now is still dwarfed by present world health, clean water, stagnant third world economies, war and other violence, and real environmental issues that have been shelved while we render ourselves bankrupt and possibly face our own economic collapse because of one issue. Is it sane to make the single issue of CO2 the pre-eminent concern of mankind? Apparently a lot of people think so.

      I have bemoaned, along with many others the terrible cost but this was before I was blown away by a post on Climate Audit

      http://climateaudit.org/2013/07/26/guy-callendar-vs-the-gcms/#comment-429654

      that revealed the 1938 work of what might be the first modern climate scientist, Guy Callendar, a steam engineer, whose hand drawn temperature model outperforms by a very large difference almost all modern climate models (every one on the warm side). He had an ECS of 1.7, a number we have been working towards for decades, starting at ECSs from IPCC authors of 5-10 and finally having reached ~1.7 after a terrible amount of fighting and angst, only this year (I believe). He also foresaw improvement in agriculture and a host of other matters that I thought were of only recent finding, but still not acknowledged by our advocating brethern. He saw the role of clouds and that they had a negative feedback! This is still to be rediscovered by IPCC authors although it will take a skeptical scientists to “discover” this inconvenient truth. Indeed, what has been marginally discovered since then by thousands of climate scientists, with all the marvellous tools at their disposal and at cost of 2 trillion dollars, not counting the billions for the satellites, but counting the idiocy of measures to save the planet from a problem that no one can actually provide real evidence for. Yeah, advocacy by scientists might be a good thing, but climate science is certainly not the right example for that.

      • It’s very plain that advocacy ruined climate science, but explication of the mechanism will be useful, perhaps even therapeutic.
        ================

      • The internet ruined “climate science,” just like video killed the radio star.

      • Gary,

        Great comment. Whatever threat global warming represents, to date the evidence supporting that threat has been minimal, while real issues negatively impacting people are at risk of being ignored or at least being made to compete for resources with what is basically runs of model outputs.

        That is why I keep asking the folks who claim we are facing a real problem to show me. Provide evidence of what you say us really happening. Because I can provide evidence for real world problems we should be addressing.

      • Gary P, re spending on alleged CAGW: one of Australia’s best economists estimated in The Australian today that our anti-emissions spend would ramp up under the present government from $A19 bn this FY to $A22 bn in 2019. I’ve just returned from a presentation on cutting edge medical research at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra hospital, a world leader in some fields. A neurosurgeon remarked that she could apply newly-developed techniques to only eight desperately ill research patients in the last year because of the difficulty of getting funds. Priorities? Mmmm …

      • Good to see Callendar getting a mention.

        Hey Koldie, have you read it?

        “Few of those familiar with the natural heat exchanges of the
        atmosphere, which go into the making of our climates and weather,
        would be prepared to admit that the activities of man could have
        any influence upon phenomena of so vast a scale.

        In the following paper I hope to show that such influence is not
        only possible, but is actually occurring at the present time.” – GS Callendar

      • Callendar expected our influence to be beneficial, and it will be.
        ===========

      • Koldie sees a global cooling calamity around every corner.

        Cooler is good.

        It cools 15-20 deg C every night here – what’s a few degrees!

        Skiing is fun.

  17. I am a bit familiar with the AICPA and their Code of Professional Conduct. “The opening principle of the code is that membership, and therefore adherence, to the code is voluntary. This means that an accountant is never under a legal responsibility to adhere to the code, and can renounce the code and membership in the AICPA at any time.”

    While ‘Voluntary’ strengthens the situation in my opinion, it does sound a bit overbearing. Part of the point of their code is to protect the profession which includes amongst other things, having the public’s trust.

    I think we can say that CPAs operate within bounds. There are State Boards (our license renewals), the IRS, State tax authorities, the SEC and others. We agree to these bounds and they do seem more rigid than what Climate Scientists have to deal with.

    There is at least one upside to bounds on CPAs behavior. Holding the middle ground (within the bounds) which can be used as a defense if someone is legally pressing the CPA. Following Generally Accepted Accounting Principles tends to strengthen a CPAs position.

    I am not a Scientist and am not suggesting bounds for Scientists. But perhaps looking at the AICPA model and developing a similar organization for Scientists if one does not already exist. Using only voluntary bounds. Trying to do this would be an opportunity to provide definitions. It would not be easy. Their Code of Professional Conduct is lengthy and it has to deal with many sometimes difficult issues. Addressing gray areas of conduct can be challanging.

    From the Communications section of their mission statement: Promotes public awareness and confidence in the integrity, objectivity, competence, and professionalism of CPAs and monitors the needs and views of CPAs.

    • Yes Ragnaar, but don’t be so tentative about it. Why would a code of ethics be restrictive for scientists. Doctors and engineers have one, like the CPAs but it has the force of statute. No one want’s an unscrupulous engineer building a bridge across a river knowingly using inferior cheap materials. It is also protection from unscrupulous clients who may want you to compromise excellence. Avoidance of conflict of interest, maintenance of competence and skills, etc are prescribed and there is a disciplinary board in the professional engineers associations to enforce it. A distasteful requirement, perhaps, that when noted, is it is incumbent upon an engineer to report substandard practice of another engineer. It is no accident that the infrastructure and facilities needed for a modern society tend to work so well. I believe scientists are long overdue for this type of structure. They are no longer the self-motivated searchers for truth in this high stakes modern game and this lack of stucture is certainly a part of the reason why losing public trust is such a concern.

      • Professional codes of ethics are a joke. Lawyers are subject to federal, state, county and local court ethical codes. The landscape is thick with laws and regulations to ensure integrity, drafted by those who know all the tricks.

        But we live in a country where the president of the United States, a lawyer, perjured himself in a federal court proceeding, and half the country yawned. Yes he lost his license, but only after he had safely completed his presidency and was busy collecting millions in speaking fees.

        And so here we sit, reading vague pronouncements on how to get people to be more honest.

        Yawn.

      • I have always liked this one from the code of ethics for forensic scientists

        “We hold that the forensic scientist, practicing a craft beyond the capability of a non-forensic to evaluate, is professionally liable for his findings ”

        You report it, you own it, and if you are wrong then you personally are liable for all the costs resulting from your claim.

      • Maybe you shouldn’t encourage me Gary Pearse.

        The AICPA
        Principles of Professional Conduct
        The Public Interest:

        A distinguishing mark of a profession is acceptance of its responsibility to the public. The accounting profession’s public consists of clients, credit grantors, governments, employers, investors, the business and financial community, and others who rely on the objectivity and integrity of certified public accountants to maintain the orderly functioning of commerce. This reliance imposes a public interest responsibility on certified public accountants. The public interest is defined as the collective well-being of the community of people and institutions the profession serves.

        In discharging their professional responsibilities, members may encounter conflicting pressures from among each of those groups. In resolving those conflicts, members should act with integrity, guided by the precept that when members fulfill their responsibility to the public, clients’ and employers’ interests are best served.

        Those who rely on certified public accountants expect them to discharge their responsibilities with integrity, objectivity, due professional care, and a genuine interest in serving the public. They are expected to provide quality services, enter into fee arrangements, and offer a range of services—all in a manner that demonstrates a level of professionalism consistent with these Principles of the Code of Professional Conduct.

        All who accept membership in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants commit themselves to honor the public trust. In return for the faith that the public reposes in them, members should seek continually to demonstrate their dedication to professional excellence.

        I think they made a number of points in a short amount of time thankfully. They’ve had a long time and a more boring situation to hone their rules.

  18. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Instructive examples of scientific advocacy:

    Responsible Scientific Reporting  The Peregrine Fund’s web-page Conservation Challenge: Lead Poisoning

    Responsible Scientific Advocacy  The scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives publishes Health Risks from Lead-Based Ammunition in the Environment

    Grotesquely Irresponsible Denialism  The National Rifle Association denialistically headlines Peregrine Fund Joins Growing Opposition to Lead Ban

    ————————-

    Conclusion  The grotesquely irresponsible (even creepy), factually incorrect, willfully ignorant, special interest-sponsored, ideology-driven practices associated to lead-poisoning denialism strikingly resemble the grotesquely irresponsible (even creepy), factually incorrect, willfully ignorant, special interest-sponsored, ideology-driven practices associated to climate-change denialism.

    \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

  19. “Limit science advocacy to your area(s) of expertise”
    This is rather a difficult one. If you work in an interdisciplinary field one tend to ‘drift’ and end up working in areas outside ones higher degrees. Clinical scientists can end up being very good biochemists/molecular biologists or statisticians. At the other extreme you can have people who work in a pit and are specialists, indeed ‘the’ expert in a very narrow area.
    Kinetic analysis and thermodynamics are universal, describing steady state changes in any process uses the same maths, control theory is control theory, and one can criticize models or make models across disciplines. I found that economists use the same type of analysis measuring wealth in an economy as biochemists use to describe fluxes through cellular pathways.
    The whole advocacy can be broken into four;
    I know (and have cast iron experimental proof), I believe (have some evidence, but it is not proven), I suspect (I have a credible hypothesis that has much supportive evidence) and I suggest (it really isn’t a good idea to dump mercury into the biosphere).

    • Expertise is not solely defined by one’s degree. For example, Steve McIntyre very legitimately claims expertise in the application of statistical analysis to climate data and paleoproxies. Let me amend my statement to “areas of claimed expertise.”

      • You need to keep amending, Judith – give the “authority” that you put in Freeman Dyson’s views on climate change, an area where he has explicitly stated that he claims no expertise.

        Once again, I would suggest that you look again for selective reasoning in your arguments.

      • Jeepers; those of us from the physics part of the spectrum probably put more stock in Freeman Dyson’s “lack of claimed expertise” than in the expertise of someone in the field. Anyhow, he’s just being modest.

        The issue is simple: Has the person spent the time and effort to study the final details of the field, working through the math, or has he not? If not, he has no business taking a position, even if he has a popular blog. If he has (as Dyson has), I don’t care if he has published with peer review or not. Obviously, within the “in” group some are always going to be more expert than others, but that has nothing to do with degrees or peer review either.

      • Mike –

        Judith’s attitude about “expertise” and advocacy, IMO, are selective.

        Certainly, Dyson does not limit his advocacy w/r/t climate change to those areas that are directly related to his field of expertise. As the most obvious example, he is certainly stepping beyond is area of expertise when he advocates on the policy implications of climate change, his knowledge of physics notwithstanding.

        Please don’t misunderstand my point. I think that Dyson’s genius absolutely gives him some authority to weigh in on any even tangentially related issue. In fact, I’d say that his genius gives him some authority when weighing-in on issues almost completely unrelated to his field of expertise – such as policy issues. His views are information, data, to be taken seriously although not considered dispostive,.

        My point is w/r/t to the selective reasoning Judith (and many of my much beloved “skeptics) applies in her positioning on the role of scientists and advocacy. First it’s OK for Dyson to advocate in areas where he has no expertise, then scientists shouldn’t advocate in areas where they have no expertise, then it’s OK as long as they claim expertise.

      • The point being – the one constant seems to be that the justifiability of advocacy is contingent on whether Judith agrees with their perspective on the science.

      • Joshua,

        Credit where credit is due- at least Judith has moved on form her ridiculous position of saying that scientists can’t advocate, while all the while engaging in advocacy herself,

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Dyson was an early advocate of observational based climate science – an early climate scientist concerned with mass balances of CO2 – as opposed to numerical modelling. He is right of course. Unless there are good observations – and good models – modelling is pointless. Even then there are chaotic processes that ensure only probability functions are feasible.

        He is in fact concerned with leading edge solutions of land management. The mitigation problem is relatively simple and only the intransigence of pissant progressives clouds the picture.

        Cant resist.

        Here’s the other father of climate science.

        ‘The climate system has jumped from one mode of operation to another in the past. We are trying to understand how the earth’s climate system is engineered, so we can understand what it takes to trigger mode switches. Until we do, we cannot make good predictions about future climate change… Over the last several hundred thousand years, climate change has come mainly in discrete jumps that appear to be related to changes in the mode of thermohaline circulation. We place strong emphasis on using isotopes as a means to understand physical mixing and chemical cycling in the ocean, and the climate history as recorded in marine sediments.’ http://www.earth.columbia.edu/articles/view/2246

        Wally Broecker focuses on solutions as well. They are both right.

      • Thank goodness. Else all those highly paid MBA consultants would be worth nothing. Sort of sarc, since I used to be one of the most highly paid of their ilk. Yet found that on occasion, added demonstrable value beyond compensation. Like saving Harley Davidson from liquidation in 1977, or inventing a $400 million/yr business (zero to full revenue about two years) for MOT in 1991-2, or …
        Expertise is like books. Don’t judge by the cover. Steve McIntyre is just a hard rock geologist? Mann, Lewandowsky, Cook, Gergitz, Marcott, and many others all regret having made that (false) assumption.
        Expertise is defined by what you know plus how you can integrate the worlds facts into perspectives based on that knowledge. Facts are easier to come by in the Internet age (as are falsehoods), leaving knowledge integration as the defining trait of intelligence. DocMartyn, right on.

      • Joshua, don’t misunderstand _me_. Dyson is an expert on climate science. That is the nature of genius; if he made pronouncements about it, it’s because he did enough studying to be able to. And, as I said, those of us who grew up in physics will give a lot of weight to his opinions.

        It’s like Feynman and the Challenger accident – it wasn’t his “area of expertise”, but he was Feynman.

      • Joshua, I have always liked Norman Rockwell;

        Freedom of religion means we have to put up your evangelical fever, but Freedom of speech means we can question the fundamentals of your faith.

      • Josh,

        it is almost impossible to miss your point.

        You either have a schoolboy crush on Judith or you were not paying attention when your mom was trying to teach you how to act like a gentleman.

        (Seeing as how you generally disprove the latter, whenever you are not on one of your Judith tirades, my money is on crush.)

        My advice. Send flowers.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      It is a little problematic in Environmental Science where all sorts of discipline boundaries are routinely crossed from science of all brands to economics, sociology and politics. The approach is multi-disciplinary teams with team members having enough of the language to effectively communicate across disciplines. The objective is optimal triple bottom line outcomes and it is always approximate.

    • > The whole advocacy can be broken into four; I know (and have cast iron experimental proof), I believe (have some evidence, but it is not proven), I suspect (I have a credible hypothesis that has much supportive evidence) and I suggest (it really isn’t a good idea to dump mercury into the biosphere).

      Notwitstanding nits (e.g. there are no “proofs” in science), on principle, I agree. I would suspect that this hurly burly basically is a way to rediscover Gricean maxims. I would believe that these concerns will never stop spinmeisters from promoting their Lunzian dystopias.

      ***

      We could extend the analysis, though:

      > I [insert your favorite advocating modality] that C

      where C can also include many types of claims, i.e.

      “It is the case that snow is white”, “We should not eat pigs (as they are more intelligent than 3 yos)”, “It might not be advisable to dumping CO2 in the atmostphere like there’s no tomorrow”, “I will draw a straight flush”, etc.

      ***

      Also note that the subject also carries some weight:

      – I believe that C
      – We know that C
      – Some may suggest that C
      – Many may suspect that C

      It might not be impossible to advocate something without speaking in one’s own name.

      • “Notwitstanding nits (e.g. there are no “proofs” in science)”

        Yea?
        If I starve your brain of oxygen for three minutes, at normal body temperature, you will suffer permanent brain damage.

        If I starve your brain of oxygen for three minutes, at body temperature of 15 degrees centigrade, you will suffer little to no permanent brain damage.

        Proof is easy with binary outcomes. Medicine and biochemistry is based on proofs, we can prove all sorts of things. Then again, we are experimentalists and don’t sophistry, word play, mumbo-jumbo crap.

      • What you say of my brain may not apply to all the brains that were, are, and will, Doc. A logical proof could go as far as to prove things that applies in all possible worlds.

        You’re not the first white shirt I’ve seen trying to play tough, you know. The concept of “proof” has been borrowed by experimentalists mainly to intimidate researchers from other fields or research programs.

        I like it when people tell I do sophistry, word play, and mumbo crap when I make a logical point.

        Please continue.

        Search for “justified true belief” if you’re really interested to know more about what you’re saying. Try to stand in front of a philosophical crowd. You should see quite fast how tough you really are.

    • Science is a process and scientific knowledge is collective knowledge. The closest to known or certain is that on which there is an almost total consensus – the extent of consensus is the only quantitative measure of the certainty of a specific result of science. Good examples of results that are certain enough for all practical purposes can be found from textbooks of physics and other well established sciences.

      • That’s very practical for governments indeed. That way they can control our perception of reality simply by directing the funding one way. May I call you the next Immanuel Kant?

  20. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Instructive (and concrete) examples of scientific advocacy:

    2011  James Hansen and colleagues predict “acceleration of the rate of sea level rise this decade.”

    Remark:  the above prediction was made during a four-year “pause” in the sea-level rise-rate.

    2013  Sea-level rise rate accelerates to an unprecedented 11 mm/year for the period 2011-2013 (an acceleration that more than tripled the historic sea-level rise-rate).

    Remark:  the satellite record contains no previous acceleration of sea-level rise-rate approaching this magnitude.

    ————————-

    Question  Does the predictive strength of James Hansen’s climate-change science rationally justify the vigor of James Hansen’s climate-change advocacy?

    Answer  Yes. That’s plain common sense (both scientific and moral), eh?

    ————————-

    Summary  The strength of Hansen’s climate-change science rationally justifies the vigor of Hansen’s climate-change advocacy.

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    • Chief Hydrologist

      Did you work that out by yourself? Mummy will be proud.

      http://www.cmar.csiro.au/sealevel/sl_hist_last_15.html

    • • 2013 Sea-level rise rate accelerates to an unprecedented 11 mm/year for the period 2011-2013 (an acceleration that more than tripled the historic sea-level rise-rate).
      Or if I cherry pick the curve – 2010 sea level deceleration accelerates a to an unprecedented 11mm/year. And I know that that particular year is significant why?
      Really, this is your idea of science and advocacy? Why should anyone believe anything you say?

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        It’s not complicated, DayHay!

        The year 2011 is uniquely singled-out as the start-year of Hansen’s predicted “acceleration of seal level rise this decade” (working link).

        So far the data are looking mighty good for Hansen and his colleagues, eh?

        Good on `yah, James!

        Because science is all about prediction, right DayHay?

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      • You can plot fantastic trends with a single point. Does not mean a thing, but I guess you have yet to learn about statistical significance.

    • Y’all don’t even have a clue what the much ballyhooed global average temperature is at any given time.

      I’ll pay attention to the claims of mm precision global average sea levels when I get confirmation from the Easter Bunny of the GAT.

    • dennis adams

      Fan_ It has already topped out just like it did in 98 and now we will have a few down years just like we did before this latest anomaly. It is called natural variability Fan. Dont hold your breath thinking this very short term rise will continue. Look at the last 150 years of data and there have been many instances that short term spurts were followed by short term drops. Check back in a few years to see how it is going

    • Fan,

      Why does the graph you link to say 3.2 mm/yr and not 11 mm/yr?

  21. Scientists are having to come out advocating because no-one else is.

    We have a general apathy and denial in the society. Half the US population don’t even believe the world has warmed.

    Scientists must speak out because they can see what is happening and there must be a warning. Our greenhouse gas emissions are not even stabilizing, they are increasing and it is almost certain that this will dominate climate of the next 100 years, taking the Earth outside the bounds of the holocene.

    So it’s quite understandable why so many scientists are taking the moral route of warning the world about this. If they don’t stand up and warn the world, who will?

    • lolwot, “We have a general apathy and denial in the society. Half the US population don’t even believe the world has warmed.”

      Why should they? In the US today’s temperatures are not much different than the temperatures in the 1930s and the economy looks like it is going there too. Half of the US are trying to make ends meet while fuel prices stay high and all the politicians seem to think is that higher fuel costs will fix some problem that half of the US don’t have on the top of their to do list.

      http://www.gallup.com/poll/1675/most-important-problem.aspx

      Find climate change or global warming on that list.

    • “Scientists are having to come out advocating because no-one else is.”

      Someone must have written this post before I published the guidelines for advocacy immediately below. Don’t lie.

      No else is advocating for reducing green house gas emissions?

      There is no legislation in force int he EU, the US and Australia designed to limit emissions? Hundreds of billions of dollars aren’t being thrown away on “green” energy boondoggles across the western hemisphere? The politicians in Europe and the US haven’t been using every legislative and regulatory tool at their disposal to take ever more control of the energy economy? The progressive politicians on the US Supreme Court didn’t side with CAGW hysterics on regulating carbon? Hollywood hasn’t produced multimillion dollar climate porn epics like An Inconvenient Truth and The Day After Tomorrow?

      It’s funny how the CAGW alarmists want to argue both that they have already won the debate, and that no one is saying anything in their favor, the poor dears.

      Want a guideline on how to advocate honestly? Don’t follow lolwot’s example.

    • It goes back to the ancient cliche’ of: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time”.

      AGW is trying for the 3rd and failing. No amount of advocacy is going to change reality.

  22. “There is also little ethical guidance on how to engage in ‘responsible advocacy.’”

    Baloney. Anyone who needs a guide on how to be a “responsible advocate” is just looking for a rule book to know how much he can get away with and still claim to be honest.

    Here’s a guide:

    1. Don’t lie. (Don’t listen to Stephen Schneider’s horrific advice on advocacy.)
    2. Don’t lie by leaving out that which would make your statement honest. (don’t hide the decline).
    3. Don’t lie by pretending that what you are saying is fact when it’s opinion. (Don’t say “WE know… when the truth is you believe.)
    4. Don’t lie by using deliberately misleading terms. (Don’t use AGW/global warming/climate change when you mean CAGW)

    And since 2 through 4 are just variations on one, it all distills itself down to:

    Don’t lie.

    There is nothing new in the climate debate, including the need for honesty.

  23. OMG – Judith has come over to the dark side!!!

  24. Chief Hydrologist

    ‘Though the results of drug studies often make newspaper headlines, you have to wonder whether they prove anything at all. Indeed, given the breadth of the potential problems raised at the meeting, can any medical-research studies be trusted?

    That question has been central to Ioannidis’s career. He’s what’s known as a meta-researcher, and he’s become one of the world’s foremost experts on the credibility of medical research. He and his team have shown, again and again, and in many different ways, that much of what biomedical researchers conclude in published studies—conclusions that doctors keep in mind when they prescribe antibiotics or blood-pressure medication, or when they advise us to consume more fiber or less meat, or when they recommend surgery for heart disease or back pain—is misleading, exaggerated, and often flat-out wrong. He charges that as much as 90 percent of the published medical information that doctors rely on is flawed…

    Simply put, if you’re attracted to ideas that have a good chance of being wrong, and if you’re motivated to prove them right, and if you have a little wiggle room in how you assemble the evidence, you’ll probably succeed in proving wrong theories right. His model predicted, in different fields of medical research, rates of wrongness roughly corresponding to the observed rates at which findings were later convincingly refuted: 80 percent of non-randomized studies (by far the most common type) turn out to be wrong, as do 25 percent of supposedly gold-standard randomized trials, and as much as 10 percent of the platinum-standard large randomized trials.’

    Advocacy starts with the research process and the results are selectively appropriated by activists who have a wider social, political and economic agenda. Sometimes they are one and the same.

    In one sense – and only one – the science is simple. We are adding appreciable amounts of climatically active substances to the atmosphere. Without much of a clue about outcomes.

    The policy response seems equally evident. Technological innovation coupled with social, economic and environmental progress. Are we ready for some real solutions? Or are we just going to keep arguing about ‘the science’ as a proxy for a culture war?

    O/T – Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited has been voted somewhere as the best album of all time. Idiosyncratically I would vote for Blood on the Tracks.

  25. > Based upon my grading, RS gets a very high score, and AGU stands out as very poor among professional society statements in terms of responsible advocacy.

    This presumes that rating RS, AGU and AMS is a representative exercise.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      In principle, changes in climate on a wide range of timescales can also
      arise from variations within the climate system due to, for example,
      interactions between the oceans and the atmosphere; in this document,
      this is referred to as “internal climate variability”. Such internal variability
      can occur because the climate is an example of a chaotic system: one
      that can exhibit complex unpredictable internal variations even in the
      absence of the climate forcings discussed in the previous paragraph.’
      RS climate summary. It is a statement owing much to Tim Palmer I presume.

      http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1956/4751.abstract

      Well – some science must be right.

      There must be some way out of here, said the joker to the thief,
      Theres too much confusion, I cant get no relief.

  26. Most scientist like to think that science has a special status among sources of information. Many non-scientists surely agree. Maintaining such status requires that scientist abide to stricter rules of honesty and openness that others. Scientists have the right to be advocates, they may a moral duty to sound alarm based on their special knowledge, but they must do that in a way that helps science maintain its special status.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      ‘Simply put, if you’re attracted to ideas that have a good chance of being wrong, and if you’re motivated to prove them right, and if you have a little wiggle room in how you assemble the evidence, you’ll probably succeed in proving wrong theories right.’

      It is called shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted Pekka.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘There is light within a man of light, and he lights the whole world. If he does not shine, there is darkness.’ The Gospel of Thomas – said to be a source document from the early oral tradition of Christianity.

        The light is God and the darkness is all ours. But for every witch burned a 1000 poor were fed and clothed – for any sinner tortured in the chambers of the inquisition – a 1000 sick were cared for. Murder, torture and genocide were far more clearly secular institutions in the 20th century. We can more clearly blame socialism than religion for the rivers of blood that flowed.

        Morality I feel is not a set of principles – 10 commandments were OK for the Old Testament. Unless you actively seek the inner light through spiritual exercise – it is easy to fall into darkness. Christianity provides a bulwark against darkness for the many but you don’t need a church as Martin Luther long ago affirmed – you do need to attune yourself to the inner light. You do need prayer and meditation to be a man of light.

        ‘Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.’ Yoda

    • “Maintaining such status requires that scientist abide to stricter rules of honesty and openness that others.”

      No, scientists just need to be as honest as other people. But being people, many of them will fail.

      The weaknesses of man used to be common knowledge. The old seven cardinal virtues and seven deadly sins type of thing.

      The only reason so many of you are at sea with how to understand and limit human behavior is, most of you have been sold a bill of multicultural goods that the Judeo-Christian ethic is passe’. You consider yourselves too sophisticated for traditional religion based morality, and so fumble around looking for some secular equivalent. Then you are shocked, shocked when others act in ways you disapprove.

      • Skeptics need to be honest, but being people, many will fail.

      • You consider yourselves too sophisticated for traditional religion based morality,…

        Heh, The “traditional religion-based morality,” Which superior traditions of morality does GaryM speak of, I wonder? Those that led to the Inquisition? Burning “witches” at stakes? Religious wars? Genocidal oppression of “heathens?”

        I’ve got news for ya’ Gary – a person’s morality is not explained by their level or religiosity. It is explained by their level of, well…morality.

      • Michael,

        But of course.

      • GaryM & Chief, morality is key, each of us must seek and nurture that “inner light.” You don’t need an organised religion or belief to do so, but the core of morality seems to have been identified in many religions as well as elsewhere.

      • Chief Hydrologist,

        “Morality I feel is not a set of principles….”

        Morality without principles is a contradiction in terms. Literally (and I hate that word).

        mo·ral·i·ty; noun; \mə-ˈra-lə-tē, mȯ-\
        2 a doctrine or system of moral conduct
        b plural : particular moral principles or rules of conduct
        3: conformity to ideals of right human conduct

        Principles, standards, rules, morals – no matter what you call them, if you get to make up your own, you aren’t talking about morality at all.

        Too many of you want the benefits of morality, without the restrictions on your own conduct. It just doesn’t work that way in the real world.

        If you want to quote Martin Luther, try this one: “Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell.” Not the mamby pamby, feel good, no rules christianity lite preached by so many today, huh?

        And by the way, Martin Luther didn’t teach that you don’t need a church. (His concern was the sale of indulgences to finance the building of St. Peter’s, not the existence of the Church as the proper place of worship.) He ultimately did teach that you don’t need a pope though.

        Which gives rise to my favorite way of distinguishing between protestants and atheists:

        Protestants are much more humble than atheists. A protestant just wants to be his own pope. An atheist wants to be his own god.

      • No, GaryM, I just think that whether or not there is a god or gods, each of us is responsible for our own volition and conduct, we have to develop our own understanding and behaviour. You can start with a guide, a code of conduct – my Christian upbringing with a highly moral (non-conformist) mother has been of great value although I gave up God and religion when I was 13 – but ultimately you have to internalise it by understanding and dealing with the drives, the conditionings, the ignorance, which lead to behaviour harmful to oneself and to others. It’s a process of purification which means that your behaviour is naturally moral, rather than being driven by adherence to an external code.

        As it happens, I do follow a strict moral code, at one time there were tensions because I was behaving in particular ways in order to adhere to the code rather than because it was inherent, but that ceased to be the case many years ago.

        (That’s why my underpants say “St Michael.”) (British joke.)

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Luther ultimately taught that an intermediary between a person and their God was not merely unnecessary but unwelcome and unhelpful.

        ‘They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.’ Romans

        I take this quite literally. We are not talking codes but seeking the light. It comes from the deeps of our being.

    • And another thing…. (Not to pick on Pekaa, but his brief comment has so much that is symptomatic of the problems with this whole debate)

      “Scientists have the right to be advocates, they may a moral duty to sound alarm based on their special knowledge, but they must do that in a way that helps science maintain its special status.”

      No, scientists should not be honest to “maintain science’s special status.” They should be honest because it is wrong to be dishonest. Gleick wasn’t wrong because getting caught in his lies cost the CAGW movement. He was wrong because it is wrong to lie.

      As long as you all flee from the concept of objective morality, you are just a bunch of suckers waiting to be taken.

  27. I’m a simple guy, with simple thought processes. It seems to me that one of the more important values that good scientists always must be striving for is objectivity. Isn’t this, or shouldn’t it be, part of an operational definition of what makes good science? Put another way, how can we trust a scientist who’s advocating policy…which is to say practicing politics…to be an effective, trustworthy man or woman of science?

    I realize I’m speaking idealistically, and in practice, given that scientists are human beings, objectivity is impossible. Generally scientists are very likely rooting for certain results. But blatant public advocacy it seems to me, is manifestly incompatible with science we can in some degree trust.

    To be honest and blunt about it, I find the practice unseemly. Michael Mann is a good example of what can happen in extreme cases.

    • pokerguy,

      As a confirmed skeptic, and a conservative, knuckle dragging, mouth breathing Catholic skeptic at that, I don’t see why scientists should give up their right to participate, even loudly, in any policy debate in which they have an interest.

      I have no objection to Richard Lindzen of Freeman Dyson advocating calm and rational decision making on CAGW.

      I have no problem with Gavin Schmidt or Kevin Trenberth advocating legislation they feel is necessary because of what they believe is impending catastrophic global warming.

      Imagine an astronomer has perfected a new model that locates and projects the trajectory of asteroids. His latest model run shows an Earth impact of a massive asteroid in ten years. But there are uncertainties in the nature of his model and the data on which it is based. He consults other scientists in other fields and they agree the only possible response is to attempt to divert the asteroid at great cost.

      Should he just publish his results and then shut up? Should he conceal the uncertainties in his data and hide the code of his model? Should he misrepresent the source of the data and the intrinsic failings of those instruments?

      Or should he say what he believes, as loudly and as often as possible, while also disclosing all the frailties and defects in his data and model?

      Integrity is not complicated. What complicates it for so many is the vanity which makes them believe that others should not be given all the information because, being so inferior, they might not reach the “right” conclusion.

    • Put another way, how can we trust a scientist who’s advocating policy…

      I’d put it another way – how can we trust a scientist who claims that they are free from any advocacy in an area as politically polarized as the debate about climate change?

      So, then…

      I realize I’m speaking idealistically, and in practice, given that scientists are human beings, objectivity is impossible. Generally scientists are very likely rooting for certain results. But blatant public advocacy it seems to me, is manifestly incompatible with science we can in some degree trust.

      Why is it that blatant public advocacy would be the criterion we should choose to distinguish trustworthiness when as you say, objectivity is impossible. Given that no scientist is objective, why would denying subjectivity should be the reason to be stamped trustworthy?

    • Put another way, how can we trust a scientist who’s advocating policy…which is to say practicing politics…to be an effective, trustworthy man or woman of science?

      But why would they be inherently more trustworthy because they kept quiet and kept their opinions to themselves? Just because someone does not express strong views on political issues it doesn’t mean they don’t have them.

      • Andrew, to me it’s mostly a matter of optics. My natural human inclination is to be less trustful of someone involved in an enterprise in which some modicum of detachment is preferred, who’s revealed a passionate preference for certain outcomes…The analogy is far from perfect, but if you were being tried for pot possession, who would you prefer a judge who’s made public statements to the effect that he considers grass a “gateway” drug, or one who’s made no such public statements?

      • PG,

        I think the point about the judge is an interesting one and it did make me think. But what we’re talking about there is the perception of someone letting their personal views affect their professional judgement. In the case of climate scientists we’re taking about people drawing conclusions from their work about the wider impacts on society and making judgements on that based on their own values, which I think is a different thing. I don’t think that scientists being objective and impartial in their work means that they then can’t express personal views about the consequences of their work.

  28. Excellent post Dr Curry. I particularly liked Steneck’s guidelines. I have never had a problem with making it clear as to when I was providing data or expertise based information, and personal opinion. Believe it or not but simply stating “This is my personal opinion” or “Speaking as an individual, and not representative of my position or employer” usually is all it takes. People are generally not stupid and as pointed out in previous threads, pretty good at identifying whom has credibility and when someone is speaking in a professional capacity or personally. In fact it is so easy I have to question the motives of those who can’t do it. My first choice is to assume they are poor communicators. No sin there. But after awhile you can differentiate the poor communicator from the dissassembiler.

    • Well said, and spot on.
      Much of the apparent angst is because many scientist advocates apparently want to dissemble while appearing not to. There are many vivid contemporary examples from this blog: ‘Hide the decline’ Mann comes readily to mind, as does ‘unprecedented uptick’ Marcott, even ‘no peak problem’ Maugeri.

      • “Hide the decline’ Mann”

        Rud,

        Try to get your talking points sorted.

        Tim – largely agree, which is why I find Judith’s ‘ advocacy will discredit science’ to be nonsense

    • Thanks Rud,

      getting positive feedback from people such as yourself and Faustino leads me to believe I am more than just another smartass. (which there is no doubt about my being a smartass.)

      It provides a sense of warm feeling that almost matches that of having Springer call me a retard.

    • Michael,

      As someone who is of the opinion you usually offer shark, but little of substance, I have to admit to being a bit nonplussed (assuming I understand that word correctly).

      So, taking you seriously, why do you think a concern over advocacy is nonsense?

      While acknowledging Mosher’s comment on Dr Hansen’s trait of easily changing hats, I am generally of the opinion that he has at least made some attempt to differentiate when he us speaking as a scientist and a citizen. That he resigned his position attests to this.

      On the other hand one can look to Dr Mann. Even if I knew nothing of the hockey stick, it would not take long to recognize that his advocacy is foremost in his world and science is second.

      On second thought, science is third, advocacy is second and promotion of brand Mann is first.

      With Michael being my middle name – from my coal miner grandfather – and having a nephew bearing the name, with 3 deployments overseas, I find Dr Mann’s continued referral’s to being on the front lines and in the trenches as a bit insulting. He hasn’t a clue as to what real conflict is like. What is perhaps worse, the concept of honor appears to be beyond his grasp.

      • I think you meant ‘snark’, but, on reflection,I like the idea of offering ‘shark’ a bit more.

        The think it’s nonsense for pretty much the reasons you outlined. If Mann or some other scientists said they supported a carbon tax as a method to reduce CO2 emissions, I don’t think many people would be confused into thinking that the study of the climate shows that carbon taxes are a good idea. Trying to be clear on the differences is probably a good idea.

        I think that attemtps to push certan politicl/policy ideas under the guise of science is far more likely to be damaging to science (eg efforts likethe NIPCC, GWPF etc)

  29. I think there is a clear line in some areas where science stops and advocacy starts. For example, a central estimate might be that each 2000 Gt CO2 burned leads to 1 C global temperature rise. This number is something science can provide. Of course, multiple courses of action may be advocated following from that from (a) do-nothing/cheap-energy/warming-much to (b) taxing the CO2 to raise funds to pay for damage to (c) finding ways to minimize the burning and maximize leaving carbon in the ground, etc. Unfortunately being a global problem in both cause and effect means that no individual nation can do much.

  30. A simple serf says advocacy isn’t science and vice versa.
    ‘Science’ is what scientists do. Let yer hypothesis’ observations
    and tests speak fer themselves and let the plebs and polytishuns
    do the advocacy.
    Simple serf.

    • Beth Cooper | August 6, 2013 at 9:25 pm |

      Right.

      Because fully engaging one’s brain is punishable by disenfranchisement in the democratic process, and the republic is best ruled by those without the wherewithal to understand the physical world.

      Is that what you’re saying?

      Because it sounds like that’s what you’re saying.

      • No restrictions on voting Bart , but seems ter me once a
        scientist takes on advocacy he / she can easily find himself
        / herself ) on the slippery slide of justification and persuasion
        and not confronting, but avoiding, even hiding, uncertainties
        in the data or methodology
        Bts

      • Chief Hydrologist

        …the republic is best ruled by those without the wherewithal to understand the physical world…

        You seriously propose that this is not the case.

    • Beth Cooper | August 7, 2013 at 1:18 am |

      Pot. Kettle.

      Everyone faces that slope.

      Scientists at least have the means to recognize and overcome it better than most. Which is how they get results that differ from confirmation of their biases.

      You love uncertainties so, but you can’t even formulate a rigorous mathematical statement of what uncertainty is. This argument from ignorance doesn’t elevate you to judge who ought not have the right to voice their views. It merely illustrates how natural your instinct to tyranny is.

      Chief Hydrologist | August 7, 2013 at 1:36 am |

      I don’t propose that there isn’t malaria or cancer extant in the world; I hardly go around promoting those, either.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        The richness of the El Nino behaviour, decade by decade and century by century, testifies to the fundamentally chaotic nature of the system that we are attempting to predict. It challenges the way in which we evaluate models and emphasizes the importance of continuing to focus on observing and understanding processes and phenomena in the climate system. It is also a classic demonstration of the need for ensemble prediction systems on all time scales in order to sample the range of possible outcomes that even the real world could produce. Nothing is certain. http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1956/4751.full

        Nothing is certain. Let me morph that into a rigorous mathematical statement.

        If politicians – and even yourself, the public, informed individuals, and ‘97% of climate scientists’ – are ignorant of the core behavior of climate then the Republic may be best served by people who have the wherewithal but it ain’t goin’ to happen.

      • Yes Bart , everyone does face that slippery slope.

        No Bart, I don’t love uncertainties but i acknowledge
        we live with them…. I cannot say with any certainty that
        the sun will rise termorrer :(

        No Bart, I don’t consider myself elevated ter judge who
        is allowed ter voice their views, why do you think i call
        meself a serf?

        I could be wrong in this, I’m jest a serf after all, but i
        consider that the scientific method is a crowning
        achievement of western civilization and I like ter think a
        scientist’s conjecture doesn’t have ter be defended by
        the scientist adopting persuasive rhetoric.
        Beth the serf.

    • Beth Cooper | August 7, 2013 at 4:13 am |

      If you cannot say with certainty that the Sun will rise tomorrow, (which of course is anthropocentric but still true), then you really need to explore your worldview, and maybe turn down your uncertainty a few notches.

      What good is a confidence level if it’s set below zero for everything? What good is the word Uncertainty if you use it to mean existential angst like some whinging goth tween nihilist? If nothing means anything, then you have nothing of meaning to add.

      Labelling what a scientist has to say rhetoric every time it disagrees with how you want the world to work has no role in the scientific method, and let’s face it, you haven’t presented any evidence you could discern the scientific method you claim to admire from the mad science of a gothic romance.

      You’re not a serf. You are a bully and a tyrant.

      You’re not simple. You’re simply in the way.

      • It really is an Aussie mockumentary that unfolds each morning in the comments.

        Beth is playing the role of the Aussie ocker. The Chief is the yobbo.
        All style and no substance.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘Lorenz was able to show that even for a simple set of nonlinear equations (1.1), the evolution of the solution could be changed by minute perturbations to the initial conditions, in other words, beyond a certain forecast lead time, there is no longer a single, deterministic solution and hence all forecasts must be treated as probabilistic. The fractionally dimensioned space occupied by the trajectories of the solutions of these nonlinear equations became known as the Lorenz attractor (figure 1), which suggests that nonlinear systems, such as the atmosphere, may exhibit regime-like structures that are, although fully deterministic, subject to abrupt and seemingly random change.’ http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1956/4751.full

        Uncertainty in climate models arises from nonlinear equations interacting with a feasible range of values in parametization, data, processes and couplings. This leads to the necessity for probabilistic forecasts – but with little confidence yet as to veracity of outcomes.

        Uncertainty in climate arises from ‘regime like structures’ in ocean and atmospheric circulation. At about 0.5% of incident radiant flux the forcing from well mixed greenhouse gases are – thus far – a minor component of the global energy dynamic. The radiant flux at toa changes on an interannual basis by multiples of the nominal forcing since 1850. The decadal changes in the satellite era are – on the data – of similar magnitude to the nominal forcing since 1850. However, I would remiss not to say that small changes are significant in a nonlinear coupled system such as climate.

        We are currently in a cool global mode with cloud cover that increased in the 1998/2001 climate shift. The modes tend to last 20 to 40 years in long term climate proxies. Nor does it seem certain that the next climate shift will be again to a warmer mode. There is a 1000 year pattern that suggests that warm modes such as the modern era are relatively uncommon and short lived.

        See for instance this ENSO proxy based on salt content in a Law Dome ice core.

        http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/Vance2012-AntarticaLawDomeicecoresaltcontent.jpg.html?sort=3&o=70

        Moy’s (2002) proxy from a South American lake suggests this 1000 year pattern over many millennia and much more fundamental change to the system some 5,000 years ago. It shows extremes of hydrological variability that we have not nearly approached in the modern era.

        http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/ENSO11000.gif.html?sort=3&o=129

        The cool mode seems likely to persist for a decade to three more. Beyond that the potential is for mooted thermohaline changes to kick in with even more unpredictability. These seem fundamental considerations that are certainly beyond purblind space cadets.

      • The mockumentary is airing repeats, today

        Episode 3: Lorenz and the Cherry-Picker

      • Chief Hydrologist

        I quote real science rather than endlessly linking to climate trivia on a loser blog site. Try reading the paper. You are an ultimate joke whose only response is to mock science that you are far from even wanting to understand. This extends to both nonequilibrium thermodynamics and nonlinear processes in climate as well as much else that you remain stubbornly ignorant of.

        ‘Finally, Lorenz’s theory of the atmosphere (and ocean) as a chaotic system raises fundamental, but unanswered questions about how much the uncertainties in climate-change projections can be reduced. In 1969, Lorenz [30] wrote: ‘Perhaps we can visualize the day when all of the relevant physical principles will be perfectly known. It may then still not be possible to express these principles as mathematical equations which can be solved by digital computers. We may believe, for example, that the motion of the unsaturated portion of the atmosphere is governed by the Navier–Stokes equations, but to use these equations properly we should have to describe each turbulent eddy—a task far beyond the capacity of the largest computer. We must therefore express the pertinent statistical properties of turbulent eddies as functions of the larger-scale motions. We do not yet know how to do this, nor have we proven that the desired functions exist’. Thirty years later, this problem remains unsolved, and may possibly be unsolvable.’ http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1956/4751.full

        You remain a buffoon with neither style or substance.

  31. if scientists are advocates; solicitors should be climatologist

  32. First, kill all the avocats.
    ========

  33. > Further, when scientists “cross the line” between advising and advocating, it can confuse both the science and the policy.

    What would be an example of sciencific advising?

    Is there a science of advising?

    • Steven Mosher

      Simple:

      Scientific advising. Lets take Reagans SDI for example. A science advisor might tell the president. Lasers are better than missiles.
      An advocate might use his science prowess to argue that we should spend billions on lasers

      Kinda like

      http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/8950/title/Teller-on-SDI–Competitiveness/

      an advisor might say “the china syndrome is a remote possibility”
      and advocate would say, the remote possibility is too large to risk. Dont build nuclear plants.

      In any case it would be a good thing to study what the liberal and conservative tribes thought of Edward Teller’s advocacy

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Teller

      This would be a good test of people’s principles.

      And also we could discuss Dr. Strangelove

      • Or you might spend the time productively discussing the details supporting the supposed risk and what could be done to lessen the harms in question vs. veering off into dissusions of various pieces of fiction

      • > Or you might spend the time productively [...]

        By bringing me a cup of coffee.

  34. A factual report:

    Over the past decade IT employment has gradually increased, but it only recovered to its 2000–2001 peak level by the end of the decade.

    Wages have remained flat, with real wages hovering around their late 1990s levels.

    For every two students that U.S. colleges graduate with STEM degrees, only one is hired into a STEM job.

    http://marcorubioamnestyman.com/Home.html

  35. > Many workshop participants held the view that, paradoxically, when scientists themselves are perceived as advocates, their views are often discounted, even if they are being objective.

    Calling one’s adversaries advocates might be tempting, then.

    More so that honest brokers have decreed that anti-science was the new Godwin.

  36. > If the hallmarks of science are accountability, fairness, and honesty, then those traits may be incompatible with effective advocacy.

    Not if one sells accountability, fairness, and honesty.

    How big is the market of self-righteous hindsight?

    Perhaps Bezos knows best:

    Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, told reporters today that his reported purchase of the Washington Post was a “gigantic mix-up,” explaining that he had clicked on the newspaper by mistake.

    “I guess I was just kind of browsing through their website and not paying close attention to what I was doing,” he said. “No way did I intend to buy anything.”

    Mr. Bezos said he had been oblivious to his online shopping error until earlier today, when he saw an unusual charge for two hundred and fifty million dollars on his American Express statement.

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/borowitzreport/2013/08/amazon-founder-says-he-clicked-on-washington-post-by-mistake.html

  37. Notes and comments about:
    Science Advocacy is an Institutional Issue, Not an Individual One, by Daniel Sarewitz

    (pg 1)Advocacy is a condition not of the behavior of individual scientists, but of the political and institutional context for science. Advocacy in science becomes an issue when there is both uncertainty about facts and disagreement about values.
    (pg 5)in political or policy debates, the demand for, and authority of, scientists derives not from their capacity to articulate what is known and agreed upon, but from their authority in advocating for one particular fact-based interpretation of the world over another.

    (pg 10) The position I want to advance in the remainder of this paper is that our most effective tools for managing advocacy are found in the arrangement of our democratic institutions, not in the governance of the behavior of individual scientists, or of scientific organizations.
    (concluding bullet points pg 11-12)
    • Premature political closure is likely to heighten the incentives for post-normal science advocacy. (Climate change provides another depressingly vivid illustration of this reality.)
    • Traditional, formal institutional approaches (judicial, legislative, administrative) to managing adversarial processes do not tame post-normal science advocacy. [ They feed and breed it. ]
    • Voluntarist approaches and early stakeholder engagement can help reduce the incentives for post-normal science advocacy.

    I am not impressed by this paper. It is superficial. It is like an unbalanced statics force diagram. He describes the causes of Advocacy correctly, but is misguided on how individuals and institutions should deal with Advocacy.

    Advocacy is an issue when there is disagreement about facts OR values. One or the other fuels advocacy. I would also include philosophy and mental models in with values and there is fertile ground for disagreement in philosophy. To start with, “Do the Ends ever Justify the Means?”

    “Premature political closure” does not heighten advocacy. The desire to prematurely close a political issue is the driver of advocacy. The political battlefield is where advocacy is waged. Urgency and Advocacy are in a positive feedback loop.

    His third bullet point (Voluntarist…) is the weakest and totally ineffectual if almost any party has standing to sue and a judiciary, executive or legislature receptive to petition by 3rd parties who consider themselves indirect stakeholders.

    The lesson of the AGU statement is that Advocates of like mind should take over institutions, including scientific institutions, so that political issues are closed (prematurely if possible) on their terms.

    His focus on institutions means he neglects, and possibly absolves, the individual from dealing with the Advocacy from themselves and others.

    • “Advocacy is an issue when there is disagreement about facts OR values” or where vested interests/perceived interests are at play.

      • Vested interests are a disagreement about values.
        That is why the “OR” is needed. There can be complete agreement on facts, but with disagreement about values, there will be advocacy.

  38. michael hart

    I followed a link given up-thread to the Earth Institute at Columbia University, profiling Wallace Broecker. On the side-bar there was a video advert for a “Master of Science in Sustainability Management” at Columbia.

    In this context, I consider that course title to be advocacy by Columbia University. I suspect it will attract students with a pre-determined interest in advocacy that is greater than their interest in science.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      II was going to answer seriously but then I noticed who it was. I have a Masters in Environmental Science – and in fact linked to Wally Broecker.

      I always suspect true sustainability is far more triple bottom line than otherwise.

  39. Advocate as much as you like as long as that advocacy does not include denying others the same opportunity.

  40. I think Seneck giges better advice, AGU goe too far into advocacy for ny liking.

  41. Nice post, Dr Curry. The AAAS summary report was a pretty comprehensive list of issues.

    One thing that should be highlighted is that a good policy analyst provides options, with positive and negative consequences for each. Being an advocate for a particular policy is not the same as being a professional policy adviser.

    When a scientist (or anyone else) simply advocates a particular course of action, that is not policy advice. It is just their opinion, and should be seen as such. And that includes very broad advocacy along the lines of wanting to reduce CO2 emissions as a high priority.

  42. Once you cannot let the ‘facts speak for themselves’ you stop doing science and are doing religion or politics instead.
    Lest suggest that you fully believe that a course of action will be benefit to to humans , you do the actual the research with this in mind . However not only do the results of the research not support this idea , that actively undermine it . Now what, you invested much personal and professional effort and resources and you firmly believe in its ‘rightness’ but letting the ‘facts speak for themselves’ is going undermine your ’cause ‘

    While good science would require you to publish and be dammed , but as we have seen to often their are always was to ‘make the facts ‘ give the result you ‘need’ . And its that latter approach that is rampant in climate ‘science’ When its leaders call their own work ‘the cause ‘ you know that they long ago give up on doing good science for doing that which is ‘needed’

  43. In the 1850’s, a physician, John Snow determined that the cause of a cholera outbreak in central London was due to polluted water from a street pump in Broad Street.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1854_Broad_Street_cholera_outbreak

    John Snow advocated that the pump be shut down. His advocacy was right and that is self evident. The benefits from his discovery that cholera was not due to bad air resulted in the saving of millions of lives.
    Climate change nee Catastrophic Global Warming Alarmism, advocated by The Hockey Team, is not self evident and the advocacy / corruption of science and promotion of a discredited theory is therefore both wrong and perverse.
    Of course one could argue that the monies wasted on this could have been used to ensure that clean drinking water was available to the majority of the world’s population and hence the advocacy has been responsible for many deaths?
    A pox on all their houses.

    • Of course, Snow was abused and ridiculed for going against the prevailing wisdom that a “miasma” in the air caused disease, but his finding eventually led to a massive sewage system being installed, eliminating most contamination of drinking water, most of which continues to serve London.

      • “Snow was abused and ridiculed for going against the prevailing wisdom that a “miasma” in the air caused disease”

        Much like clmate scientist are abused by some now for suggesting that the ‘plant food’ CO2 could cause a problem.

      • Michael,

        I have found that the abused climate scientist storyline seems to be pretty much made from whole cloth. What evidence to we have regarding abuse?

        There is certainly Michael Mann’s regular complaining about being attacked by Big Oil, though with no proof being provided to back that up.

        We have the “death threats” against certain Australian scientists, which David Appell keeps sticking to, even though the emails suppossedly constituting these threats have been made public and require significant contortion to get within miles of a threat, death like or otherwise.

        I guess one could point to the large amount of criticism directed towards John Cook, Peter Glieck and Stephan Lewandowski. But then none of them is a climate scientist and two get criticized primarily for shoddy work and the other for engaging in essentially illegal activity. I continue to be amazed at the amount of effort that goes into defending any of these three gentlemen. A reasonable person, no matter their opinions on climate change, would get as much distance as possible from them.

  44. Browsing The Economist’s latest blogs, I somehow came across a piece from 2010 which casts light on some of the issues discussed at CE. It concerned criticism of Larry Summers. <Quote:

    … But this isn't what I wish to focus on. At the centre of Mr Ferguson's piece is a deep, under-appreciated truth:

    By now we are all familiar with the role of lobbying and campaign contributions, and with the revolving door between industry and government. What few Americans realize is that the revolving door is now a three-way intersection. Summers's career is the result of an extraordinary and underappreciated scandal in American society: the convergence of academic economics, Wall Street, and political power.

    This is spot on. Yet Mr Ferguson's inability to spy daylight between Larry Summers and Ludwig von Mises—his apparent conviction that orthodox academic economics as such is a hothouse of laissez-faire ideology—leaves him unable to offer the most plausible account of this corrupting three-way intersection of elite economics, Wall Street, and Washington. Let me try to help.

    John Maynard Keynes claimed to be as comfortable at Whitehall as Cambridge, or so it is said. If we wish to understand Mr Ferguson's intersection, and Larry Summers' frequent trips across it, we need to look at it through a Keynesian lens.

    Larry Summers wasn't a proponent of laissez-faire economics when he worked for Bill Clinton, and he isn't one now. It's true: if anyone embodies the consensus of elite, orthodox academic economics, it is Larry Summers. But that consensus wavers only ever so slightly between conservative and liberal versions of neo-Keynesian economics. Mr Summers is not just another neo-Keynesian economist. He is neo-Keynesian royalty. He is a nephew of two of the 20th century's greatest left-leaning economists, Paul Samuelson and Kenneth Arrow. Due to the immense influence of his textbooks, Mr Samuelson was second only to Baron Keynes himself in promoting the now-familiar role of the macroeconomist as the technocratic steward of the national economy. And Mr Summers is second to none in embodying the role of elite Keynesian guru.

    This role is the key to Mr Ferguson's troubling intersection and it is essential to Keynesian ideology. Keynesianism tells us market economies will run themselves into the ground without expert government intervention. This strongly encourages the idea that elite academic macro- and monetary economists constitute a sort of secular priesthood. Only they are privy to the mysteries of the business cycle. Only they are armed with the esoteric knowledge necessary to tame an otherwise disastrously turbulent economy. It's only natural that these same men and women should be granted positions of considerable powers within government. It's only natural that they should be called upon as invaluable, and thus handsomely compensated, expert advisers to the nation's largest private financial concerns. And this is a recipe for corrupt and/or dangerous conflicts of interest. …

    Mr Ferguson is right to shine a light on the corrupting confluence of elite academic economics, the financial industry, and national politics. But the problem just isn't Larry Summers's ideological aversion to government intervention. The problem is that the Keynesian ideology of expert intervention makes a fattened aristocracy of economic experts inevitable.

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2010/10/corruption_economics

    • As for Keynesianism, I wrote to the Oz on Saturday:

      “Peter van Onselen is talking nonsense when he refers to “the good work Rudd and others did in preserving the Australian economy throughout the global financial crisis (“Little to cheer no matter who wins,” 3-4/8). He should speak to Tony Makin and other macroeconomists before making sweeping statements outside his area of expertise.

      “Before Rudd’s initial stimulus payment, I pointed out in The Australian the perils of Keynesian counter-cyclical approaches which have never worked in any country, and I have been totally vindicated. Australia has borne, and will continue to bear, enormous costs in allegedly dealing with a North Atlantic crisis which had little impact here. Rudd’s response indicated the vacuity of his policies, not their success, as Henry Ergas and Judith Sloan make clear (“The $250bn cost of Kev,” 23-4/8).”

      I copied this to Makin, a macroeconomic professor who occasionally writes in The Australian, who replied: “Well said, Michael. Why the media don’t recognise how disastrous Keynesianism has been for Europe, the US and here continues to amaze.”

      • +1

      • Neo-Keynesianism is dangerous because it is such a good fit with political opportunism. It promotes the notion that spending public (or even worse, borrowed) money is a benevolent gesture by caring politicians who want to spare us economic hardship. Simultaneously, the pollies get to sling money at favoured sections of the business community.

        And yes, in Western countries, the extent of this kind of thinking varies only by degree in most academic institutions and treasury departments. There are a few lonely souls in both institutions who dare to dissent, but they are vastly outnumbered by the priesthood who know best how to throw around our (and our children’s) money.

      • A serf asks does this have relevence ter Schumpeter on
        capitalism morphing into socialism via vote buying. :(

      • Peter Lang,
        I’m awarding it +100
        Bts

      • Beth – it is certainly part of Schumpeter’s theory. A great man, pity they don’t teach more of him and less of the Keynesians in economics departments.

  45. The Economist may also be practising irresponsible advocacy. It promotes some research to suggest that climate change promotes conflict. Here’s my post, starting with the article’s intro:

    “EARTH’S climate is changing, whether you like it or not. As it does, other changes—like rising sea levels or falling crop yields—follow. It is easy to see how this might lead to conflict.”

    I don’t have the data to hand, but I think that overall, crop yields have been rising. This might lead to peace. As might ceasing the practice of driving up crop prices by using food crops to produce fuel. Etc.

    Climate always changes, and by and large humans move, adapt and innovate to deal with it. The use of CO2-emitting fuels has led to a huge increase in global well-being over the last 60-70 years, this must have made a major contribution to peace. Or did I sleep through World War III?

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2013/08/climate-and-conflict

    • The economist is shill for the banking cartel –

      http://www.agricorner.com/how-goldman-sachs-created-the-food-crisis/

      “How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis
      BY FREDERICK KAUFMAN | APRIL 27, 2011

      “Don’t blame American appetites, rising oil prices, or genetically modified crops for rising food prices. Wall Street’s at fault for the spiraling cost of food.

      “Demand and supply certainly matter. But there’s another reason why food across the world has become so expensive: Wall Street greed.

      “It took the brilliant minds of Goldman Sachs to realize the simple truth that nothing is more valuable than our daily bread. And where there’s value, there’s money to be made. In 1991, Goldman bankers, led by their prescient president Gary Cohn, came up with a new kind of investment product, a derivative that tracked 24 raw materials, from precious metals and energy to coffee, cocoa, cattle, corn, hogs, soy, and wheat. They weighted the investment value of each element, blended and commingled the parts into sums, then reduced what had been a complicated collection of real things into a mathematical formula that could be expressed as a single manifestation, to be known henceforth as the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI).

      “For just under a decade, the GSCI remained a relatively static investment vehicle, as bankers remained more interested in risk and collateralized debt than in anything that could be literally sowed or reaped. Then, in 1999, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission deregulated futures markets. All of a sudden, bankers could take as large a position in grains as they liked, an opportunity that had, since the Great Depression, only been available to those who actually had something to do with the production of our food.”

      continued on: http://www.agricorner.com/how-goldman-sachs-created-the-food-crisis/

  46. Ian Blanchard

    I’ve posted this before, but it has some parallels within the situation under discussion here. Below are some extracts of the guidelines that are applied for Expert Witness evidence in civil proceedings in the UK. These reflect a rather different approach to that used in many other countries, where Experts are allowed a much greater role in advocating for their ‘side’. UK rules were changed about a decade ago because too many Experts were acting as ‘guns for hire’ and giving partial and sometimes simply inaccurate evidence to support their client’s case.

    http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/part35/pd_part35

    Expert Evidence – General Requirements
    2.1
    Expert evidence should be the independent product of the expert uninfluenced by the pressures of litigation.
    2.2
    Experts should assist the court by providing objective, unbiased opinions on matters within their expertise, and should not assume the role of an advocate.
    2.3
    Experts should consider all material facts, including those which might detract from their opinions.
    2.4
    Experts should make it clear –
    (a) when a question or issue falls outside their expertise; and
    (b) when they are not able to reach a definite opinion, for example because they have insufficient information.
    2.5
    If, after producing a report, an expert’s view changes on any material matter, such change of view should be communicated to all the parties without delay, and when appropriate to the court.

    Form and Content of an Expert’s Report

    3.2
    An expert’s report must:

    (4) make clear which of the facts stated in the report are within the expert’s own knowledge;

    (6) where there is a range of opinion on the matters dealt with in the report –
    (a) summarise the range of opinions; and
    (b) give reasons for the expert’s own opinion;
    (7) contain a summary of the conclusions reached;
    (8) if the expert is not able to give an opinion without qualification, state the qualification; and
    (9) contain a statement that the expert –
    (a) understands their duty to the court, and has complied with that duty; and
    (b) is aware of the requirements of Part 35, this practice direction and the Protocol for Instruction of Experts to give Evidence in Civil Claims.
    3.3
    An expert’s report must be verified by a statement of truth in the following form –
    I confirm that I have made clear which facts and matters referred to in this report are within my own knowledge and which are not. Those that are within my own knowledge I confirm to be true. The opinions I have expressed represent my true and complete professional opinions on the matters to which they refer.

    http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/part35/pd_part35

    • Ian, that is the kind of standard required as a basis for the kind of spending required for GHG emission abatement policies. But costly policies have been initiated without it.

  47. I don’t see a problem with scientists being advocates. The real issue comes in when determining how to advocate. There is no double ethical bind for scientists. You give the facts as you know them. If you think there is a double ethical bind for scientists perhaps you will forgive your heart surgeon for insisting you need open heart surgery when perhaps some of the data he had indicated a stent may have been sufficient. He found himself in a double ethical bind. He knew what he thought was best for you and decided to pad the information to lead you in the right direction. Forget the differential diagnosis. No need for a list of possible treatments with prognoses. No need to get a lawyer and we certainly wouldn’t want the ethics board to take his right to practice away from him.

    • “…We are forced to be selective in our disclosure of facts, or we risk being ignored. However, intentionally distorting the likelihoods of certain outcomes is just dishonest. Balancing the need to be effective in sound-bite situations with the responsibility to be “honest” (i.e., fully disclosing complexities) is what I call the ‘double ethical bind.’ ” – Stephen Schneider

      If a tree falls in a forest and no one hear’s it, does it make a sound?

      If a scientist does not act as an advocate, can the scientist make any news?

      This is a Prisoner’s Dilemma. Given there are more than one scientist involved in an issue, the scientist that least advocates will be most ignored. That is the problem with Scientists as Advocates. The situation is Positive Feedback for the growth of advocacy in science.

      The prescription to prevent runaway Advocacy is for a general and widespread ethic that Advocacy is incompatible with Science. Scientists can and should be Advisors, careful to communicate facts, uncertainties, unknowns, competing hypotheses, and options.

      • The risk of being ignored by disclosing all the facts could be an indication that being ignored is what your advocacy is worthy of. It doesn’t hurt to advocate anyway as long as you understand that there is a chance you will be ignored not because you are wrong, although that is always a distinct possibility, but simply because the data isn’t there yet to support your advocacy. Scientists advocate all the time. Many professions do including mine. Those that advocate in ways the public perceives as honest, such as medical professionals, have high trust ratings with the public. Those professions that advocate in ways the public perceives as less than honest, such as lobbyists and politicians, have very low public trust ratings. The question boils down to how much can climate scientists advocate for before their trust rating collapses and that is what they need to consider should they ever wish to be convincing. Lose too much trust with the public and no amount of confirming data will ever change minds.

      • The risk of being ignored by disclosing all the facts could be an indication that being ignored is what your advocacy is worthy of.

        That statement is opposite of what Schneider discusses. Advocacy requires the selective disclosure of facts, dancing on the threshold of dishonesty.

        Lose too much trust with the public and no amount of confirming data will ever change minds.

        The “public” is not monolithic. You can lose trust with part of the public, yet cement your reputation with another part.

        “You can fool some of the people all of the time,
        and all of the people some of the time,
        but you can not fool all of the people all of the time. ”
        – Abraham Lincoln

        For the moment, let us assume Lincoln was right. Irresponsible Advocates do not have to “fool all the people all the time”. They only have to fool people long enough for a favorable decision to be made.

        Would you have confidence in his or her statements if the scientist said that “each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest”? – Steven Schneider.

      • My initial comment started off with a dig at the Schneider quote so I don’t agree with him and I would be skeptical of anything someone with that sort of opinion had to say. It doesn’t change my mind that you can be an honest advocate. You might not be an effective advocate but that isn’t my worry. I notice you say you can advise yet not advocate. If I tell you that flossing every day helps prevent periodontal disease and you should floss every day am I advising you to use floss or advocating the use of floss? Is it really possible to draw a line as to which is which? If it is I’d like to hear how you divide it.

      • steven,
        I think my answer is best expressed near the bottom of the thread in a reply to Arno at August 8, 2013 at 9:32 pm

        It is boiling down to a difference without a difference as a boundary condition. If you can be an honest advocate, then you are no different than an advisor.

        You can be a dishonest advocate. The temptation rises with the stakes. We agree this is to be avoided.

        It is tough enough to be an honest advisor. But an advisor is more concerned with defining options, pros and cons.

        Is there a difference between an Advocate and an Advisor? Oh, there most certainly can be. An advocate pleads for a cause with balance as a second priority. An advisor puts priority on the balance of facts and does not plead a cause.

        Is it possible to be an Advocate, as opposed to an Advisor, and not flirt with dishonesty? It is a mindset. Once you say, “I will advocate…”, then can you possibly avoid the coloring and shading of facts and rhetoric?

        1. “I will advocate.”
        2. “I will advocate honestly.”
        3. “I will advise.”
        Aren’t these three different behaviors? 2 and 3 might be the same, but are they?

        Is it really possible to draw a line as to which is which?
        Maybe the problem is there isn’t just one line. The safest is 3, not crossing the line into advocacy. But if you must opperate in an advocacy role, then you and the people you interact with must assure the honest component to keep you from crossing the line into 1. 2 is more work than 3.

      • What is a “Dishonest Advisor”?
        Can it be anything else but an Advocate?

      • I suspect those that believe they are in a double ethical bind when advocating a position will find themselves in the same bind when giving advice and those that don’t won’t. Telling them they can advise but not advocate is unlikely to change behavior since this is a matter of ethics not semantics.

      • Here is a comment that really alarms me:

        Txomin | August 7 at1:17 am
        Advocate as much as you like as long as that advocacy does not include denying others the same opportunity.

        That is one solution to the Prisoner’s Delemma. But it is not optimal from societies point of view.

        from ABA code of conduct:
        2.1 Advisor 4 lines.
        But look at “Advocate” Rules 3.1 through 3.9, all of them long. These rules do say that it is not acceptable to present evidence you know to be false. But there is no compunction to present evident that harms your case.

        If it is socially acceptable for a scientist to advocate, and legal advocate is the subtext, then we implicitly say it is ok to be a scientific advocate and not show the data that runs counter to the theory and action you advocate.

        The scientific community must come to terms with advocacy. Yes you can advocate, but the cost to your reputation must be high. For an advocate is under no compuction to tell the whole story. That means an advocate makes other scientists do more work to bring out more of the story.

        Unfortunately, the scientific community on balance is making heros out of advocates.

      • Txomin | August 7 at1:17 am
        Advocate as much as you like as long as that advocacy does not include denying others the same opportunity.

        That attitude toward the acceptance of advocacy in science is a race to the bottom.”

  48. Roger Pielke Snr. makes it clear that he is not a climate sceptic. In which case it seems no sceptic was involved in drafting the AGU’s statement.

    • Heh, he’s skeptical of the climate at the workshop, er maybe just of the weather there.
      ============

  49. Huh – just watched the hangout. Gavin twice said that the AGU statement _does_ cover uncertainty properly. And several more times said that it’s essential to be honest in advocacy.

    And here’s all that the AGU statement said about uncertainty: “While important scientific uncertainties remain as to which particular impacts will be experienced where, no uncertainties are known that could make the impacts of climate change inconsequential.”

    Not proper coverage at all. Move along, nothing to see here… So neither Gavin nor the AGU were honest in their advocacy.

    See, that’s the problem. It’s hard to be honest. When you’re busy advocating, could be it’s impossible.

    • I saw the beginning, and it seems to me that Prof. Curry was unprepared for this sort of debate. Gavin’s point was predictable, and a good answer would have been a quick interjection of “fig leaf” or something similar. Of course, I’m second-guessing here, and I would be reluctant to participate in such a debate because I doubt I’d do as well as she did.

      • my preferred venue is the written word. i am not real clever with the rapid riposte, which seems to be what is needed for such exchanges.

      • I didn’t mean to sound critical Prof. Curry. I strongly suspect Gavin had been briefed by a rhetorical team, with all the likely points and his counterpoints discussed. AFAIK that’s what it takes to participate in a battle such as this one, and battle is what it was.

        Actually, the uncertainty point could have been a nasty trap for Gavin, in light of what miker613 pointed out. It’s a matter of dialectic (in the sense discussed in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance): The goal is to “win” the debate by making your enemy look bad/silly/dishonest to the audience.

        Of course, most of the AGU are scientists, so in their eyes he may have trapped himself without your help. How many of them will be doing the same ref checking miker613 did? But they’re only a small part of the audience for a battle/debate like this one.

      • Judith,

        One of the advantages of being a life long smart ass is the rapid riposte becomes second nature. (I don’t know if this helps, but I also fenced in college. )

        It was almost a requirement during my submarine days, where one’s fellow shipmates could be brutal. Some time spent around the dinner table with my brothers and I would have you shreding people in no time.

        My guess is you have a reasonable nature and cutting people up in a discussion or debate is not something you would want to do. In one way it mirror’s my fencing experiences. If I remember correctly I ended up just one win over .500. I did pretty good against the guys, mainly because I was aggressive. I sucked against the women. The aggression simply wasn’t there. And as the women generally had better technique, I was hosed.

        I miss fencing though. And basketball. The knees are no longer up to it.

    • Was there any talk in the Hangout about the AGU statement, with less than unanimous consent, went public without an opportunity for comment by the AGU membership?

      Advocates are giving everyone the “Bum’s Rush”. Facts don’t matter. Uncertainty doesn’t mater. Ethics don’t matter. Honesty is tossed overboard. Objectivity? Balance? Fa-get-about-it! The writes of the AGU statement, and the AGU executive have dropped all pretense at objectivity.

      Winning the political fight while it is still possible, while the political advocates are still in place, is all that matters.

      • AGU statement was mentioned, Betts hadn’t paid much attention to it, Schmidt admitted it was an advocacy statement but claimed that it adequately treated uncertainty (as much as could be done in a 1 pager).

      • Let me rephrase the questions.
        The AGU statement was not unanimous within the 15 members of the committed. It is obviously one of advocacy and admittedly so by Schmidt.

        Was there any discussion in the Hangout about how that committee statement went public as an “AGU Statement” without the AGU membership first given the opportunity of comment or objection?

        When did the AGU membership give their proxy on the subject of Climate Change these 15 members?

        Did you, Judith, ever agree that these 15 could speak for you?

  50. The second biggest irresponsibility in the American Republic is to fail to participate in its democracy so fully as you are able.

    The biggest irresponsibility is to stand in the way of another American who seeks, however totteringly and haltingly after a lifetime of something else from breaking into the light of civil discourse and citizenship.

    While the second biggest sin against civil duty is understandable and forgivable, the first? That’s a crime.

    So if you’re advocating _better_ policy involvement, more evolved and mature interest in and action, that’s great. But that isn’t what I see here in the main.

    I see a patent campaign to disenfranchise the AGU and its membership and blunt their will by devious and underhanded means.

    For shame.

    • Bart, couldn’t follow. Could you explain? Who’s trying to disenfranchise the AGU? Curry? Or the AGU council that drafted a statement that many members of the AGU may not agree with?

    • Bart,

      It is times like this I wonder if you bother to differentiate between Bart world and the one the rest of us reside in.

      Dr Curry provided her opinion on the three statements. By most standards, I think she has a good case that the one by the AGU comes off as third best. Now exactly how does that constitute a campaign, patent or otherwise?

      • timg56 | August 7, 2013 at 6:07 pm |

        It appears your opinion is sharply divided from Beth Cooper | August 6, 2013 at 9:25 pm |

        What possible other rational conclusion could one draw from Dr. Curry’s assessment than Beth Cooper’s ironclad logic?

  51. Advocacy by a group (“Real” climate scientists) which includes an important leader who said “why should I share my data with you. You’ll only try to find something wrong with it.” is pointless and ridiculous. A lot of people don’t yet realize it, but they will eventually, when more alarmist predictions fail to come true, and the high priests of the religion of CO2 doom keep sliding out the dates of the alleged impending disasters. The liberal mass media in the Western World has been complicit in this tendentious CO2/CAGW activism pretending to be science.

  52. > Be aware of any conflicts of interest [...] and make them clear.

    For more transparency, Climateballers might state their interests in the About pages of their blogs.

    By interest, I don’t mean True Scotch whiskey, knitting or squash.

  53. JCurry: make sure you understand what is considered responsible advocacy.

    What if “responsible advocacy” is an empty set? Yes, yes, Steneck’s criteria is excellent. But are they ever used by people performing advocacy?
    Anyone who abides by Steneck is no longer an advocate, but an advisor.

    Sarewitz got at least one thing right.

    In political or policy debates, the demand for, and authority of, scientists derives not from their capacity to articulate what is known and agreed upon, but from their authority in advocating for one particular fact-based interpretation of the world over another. Those successful in advocacy gain power by being in demand for politicians who share points of view.

    …Through passion, I gain strength.
    Through strength, I gain power.
    Through power, I gain victory. …..
    (from the Code of the Sith)

    Advocacy is the “Dark Side” of Science.

    Those who believe that Advocacy can be used responsibly are making the same mistake as Anakin Skywalker.

    Supreme Chancellor: Remember back to your early teachings. “All who gain power are afraid to lose it.” Even the Jedi.
    Anakin: The Jedi use their power for good.
    Chancellor: Good is a point of view, Anakin. ….

    Anakin to Padme:…I am becoming more powerful than any Jedi has ever dreamed of, and I’m doing it for you. To protect you. … Don’t you see? …. I am more powerful than the Chancellor, … I can overthrow him! And together, you and I can rule the galaxy! We can make things the way we want them to be!

  54. JCurry: make sure you understand what is considered responsible advocacy.

    What if “responsible advocacy” is an empty set? Yes, yes, Steneck’s criteria is excellent. But are they ever used by people performing advocacy?
    Anyone who abides by Steneck is no longer an advocate, but an advisor.

    Sarewitz got at least one thing right.

    In political or policy debates, the demand for, and authority of, scientists derives not from their capacity to articulate what is known and agreed upon, but from their authority in advocating for one particular fact-based interpretation of the world over another.

    Those successful in advocacy gain power by being in demand for politicians who share points of view.

    …Through passion, I gain strength.
    Through strength, I gain power.
    Through power, I gain victory. …..
    —(from the Code of the Sith)

    Those who believe that Advocacy can be used responsibly are making the same mistake as Anakin Skywalker:

    Supreme Chancellor: Remember back to your early teachings. “All who gain power are afraid to lose it.” Even the Jedi.
    Anakin: The Jedi use their power for good.
    Chancellor: Good is a point of view, Anakin. ….

    Anakin to Padem: … I am becoming more powerful than any Jedi has ever dreamed of, and I’m doing it for you. To protect you. … Don’t you see? …. I am more powerful than the Chancellor, I… I can overthrow him! And together, you and I can rule the galaxy! We can make things the way we want them to be!

    • How difficult is to understand that one’s inalienable right to freedom from oppression applies to the other also…?

      Such a profound concept cuts through all the conceits. But not only is the outcome of such thinking barely taught, the one nation that actually chose it for its own newly minted constitution has all but destroyed it.

      Common Law no longer taught in the general education system even of those countries which still have it, and a judge ruling the constitution is whatever he says it is, and a constitutional professor saying Warren Court gave the blacks civil rights..

      ..it is a mess.

  55. Judith Curry,

    ” If the hallmarks of science are accountability, fairness, and honesty,…”
    To me this means that the scientists are held to the same standards of accountability, fairness, and honesty.

    It seems to me that proponents of AGW have no observable accountability. If they are wrong about human origins of global warming, then their retort is that the world is better off with a reduction in fossil fuel use saving fossil fuel for generations to come. There is no accountability for human suffering perpetuated, ie, those living on $2/day not having cheap energy to lift themselves from poverty.

    All we will get: “I am really sorry, I thought I was correct.”

    It seems to me that the warmist position is a win win for themselves, and loose loose for those whom they do not see.

  56. Just listened to the YouTube video. As usual Schmidt was the defender of the faith and a little pushy. Has Gavin ever really entertained doubt about anything important?

  57. Can we expect this group to be the next in line with irresponsible advocacy?

    Rebranding Climate Change as a Public Health Issue
    Why medical professionals may be the best messengers for global warning right now

    But what if climate change were instead about an increase in childhood asthma, or a surge in infectious diseases, or even an influx of heat-induced heart attacks? Would that hold more resonance for the average citizen of the world? That’s what some climate change experts are hoping, as they steer the conversation about global warming toward the public health issues it raises.

    http://healthland.time.com/2013/08/08/rebranding-climate-change-as-a-public-health-issue/

  58. I see no problem with advocacy per se. I do see a problem with keeping it honest. Fact is, there is much dishonest advocacy around and we lack any means of either checking or correcting it because it is done under political cover. Unfortunately the bureaucracy we have developed makes this possible. Theoretically, if someone doubts someone else’s work the direct way to check it is to repeat the experiment. There are big problems with that in practice. First, If you get a different result you may not be believed because the bureaucracy feels they need to defend themselves and very effectively suppresses it. The work that Ferenc Miskolci did in proving the non-existence of the greenhouse effect falls into that category. He has been very effectively made a non-person whose work is not to be discussed by anyone. In the past, such edicts were handed out by a cardinal or a commissar with no science training. Today we have a self-serving bureaucracy allied with compliant scientists in this role. They control the finances and reward cooperation with them monetarily. Two examples I know about are James Hansen and Stephen Schneider. Hansen was awarded the Heinz Prize worth $250,000 specifically for his presentation to the Senate in 1988. That was the hearing where the air conditioning was not working and everybody sweated it out in the Washington heat. The Heinz Prize was followed by the Sophie Prize worth $100,000 and by a Soros Prize worth $720,000. In 1990 Stephen Schneider was an editor on the first assessment report by the IPCC. He received a $290,000 MacArthur Fellowship Prize in 1992 for having rewritten a part of the SAR. That shows the muscle of the puppet masters. They obviously have had a climate warming agenda and the means to manipulate key people who support it. If you doubt this consider the cover-up of the hockey stick affair. High level people were recruited to set up a sham investigation that cleared Mann of wrong-doing. Same with Climategate. Just like the cardinals who insisted that the earth was the center of the universe. Galileo was lucky and got away with just house arrest but Giordano Bruno got burnt at stake on the streets of Rome.

    • Who pays the piper
      (from revenue) calls the tune,
      in ‘sci-fi’ communes.

    • I see no problem with advocacy per se. I do see a problem with keeping it honest.

      What if I said, “I see no problem with nuclear power per se, but I do see a problem with keeping nuclear reactors safe.”?

      I, too, see a big problem keeping advocacy honest. It is such a problem that I think advocacy itself must be distrusted and held in disrepute. It is tough enough to stay honest in an advisory role.

      Once you venture into the mode of advocacy, then the ethic ought presume dishonesty, at least until you explicitly satisfy Steneck’s guidelines for responsible advocacy Judith included in the top post. Frankly, life it to short to make checking the guidelines practical. It is safer to agree that advocacy per se is dangerous ground.

  59. Sorry, SAR>>FAR

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  61. Its not just doing advocacy rather than science but the lack of ‘honest advocacy ‘ .
    In science the idea that the data should speak for itself , can be reflected in advocacy that the what is being pushed for is good for that in need not just for those pushing the idea . And as many of these statements read more like grant hunting statements or sales pitches , complete with unsupported statements of doom and certain , it’s in the later ‘dishonest advocacy ‘ they belong .

    • No, they are honestly advocating. The difference is a “scientific” versus engineering perspective. They are honestly concerned with the low probability of some point on the fat tail which is already based on “ideal” or chain of perfect storm events. They have a China Syndrome movie concept of risk.

      About one C per doubling is a perfectly reasonable estimate of WMGHG impact.; 4C would require 100% efficiency in a system that has never demonstrated better than 30% efficiency. They expect perfection. When they advocate a solution, they expect perfection.

      To an engineer, that is insane, but to them, purely rational.

  62. Honesty cannot reliably be self-judged. Honesty is judged by others. That is why there are trials by judge and jury and we do not rely upon individuals to self-impose punishment for transgressions of honesty.

    I do not accept there are different criteria of honesty depending whether someone is a scientist, engineer, or short order cook.

    Is there a criteria for honesty for lawyers different from engineers? Yes there is, but only if a lawyer is hired as an advocate for a client. According to the code of ethics, lawyers even acting as advocates, may not present evidence they know to be false. But it is acceptable to present evidence they don’t know is false but whose veracity is weak.

    Rule 3.3 Candor Toward The Tribunal
    (a) A lawyer shall not knowingly:
    (1) make a false statement of fact …..
    (3) offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false. … A lawyer may refuse to offer evidence, …. that the lawyer reasonably believes is false.

    The last sentence of (3) is revealing. If a lawyer reasonably believes evidence is false, but does not know it to be false, the lawyer has the option (“may”) to present the evidence.

    But advocates are entitled to say nothing about facts they know to be true but do not help there case. Is that being dishonest? Well, let us say it is at least “not honest”. Candid it is not.

    “Advocate” is an official role of a lawyer hired by a client. Scientist as Advocate implies that it is acceptable, even admirable, to behave as a lawyer for a client, using the above code of ethics. Scientist as Advocate is no scientist I trust.

    Scientists should stick to the role of advisor. Lawyers have a rule for “Advisor”. It is very short and simple (unlike Advocate).

    Rule 2.1 Advisor (the entire rule)
    In representing a client, a lawyer shall exercise independent professional judgment and render candid advice. In rendering advice, a lawyer may refer not only to law but to other considerations such as moral, economic, social and political factors, that may be relevant to the client’s situation.

    Candid :
    1. Free from prejudice; impartial.
    2. Characterized by openness and sincerity of expression; unreservedly straightforward.

    Scientists should be candid.
    Advocates cannot be candid.

  63. My wife is an attorney. In discussing the roles of advisor or advocate as it applies to scientist and lawyer, she brought up an additional point that I repeat here.

    In a criminal proceeding, the Prosecution acts as an Advocate for the State. But since the Prosecution has the resources of the State, the State’s Advocate has the duty and obligation to present ALL evidence to the Defense in Discovery. The Advocate for the Defense is under no such obligation.

    Scientists who receive State funding and resources, should be no less ethically constrained, no less candid, no less forthcoming than a prosecuting attorney, the State’s Advocate, during Discovery.

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