True courage(?)

by Judith Curry

True courage is knowing when you’re wrong but refusing to admit it. – The Onion

Courage (?)

I’m a big fan of The Onion, and I have been looking for an opportunity to incorporate some of their material into a post.  This new article provides such an opportunity:  True Courage is Knowing You’re Wrong But Refusing to Admit it.  Excerpts:

Courage requires us to remain steadfast in our beliefs. It asks that we stand by the convictions we express and never give an inch, no matter what the cost. However off base, wrongheaded, or patently false a position we’ve staked out may be, courage nonetheless demands that we blindly pound home our stupid fucking point, never letting up.

True valor is the moment in a conversation when you realize that what you’re saying is completely and utterly wrong, but you continue to say it over and over again anyway, only louder.

Another part involves having the mental strength to steel our minds against any reasonable argument that might challenge one of our beliefs. This means cultivating the ability to remain totally impervious to logic, so that when someone points out a blatant error in our line of thought, we can simply shrug and ignore them.

Anyone can fold in the face of facts, or listen to a well-reasoned argument and say, “You know what? You’re right, I never thought of it that way.” But that’s the coward’s way out. Listening carefully to a friend’s point, synthesizing the new information, and letting it influence your own perspective—these are all gutless acts.

Is courage scary? Sure. It can be terrifying. Do you think it’s easy to  suddenly realize that everything you’ve been saying is moronic, but to forge ahead anyway, no matter what bullshit comes flying out of your mouth?

No, that takes balls of steel. But courage has its rewards, too. Sticking to your guns means never, ever having to own up to your mistakes. And it’s hard to put a price on that.

Courage (!)

The Onion article triggered a memory of an article by Robert Socolow titled High-consequence outcomes and internal disagreements: tell us more, please.  This article was published in the special issue of Climatic Change on the IPCC and uncertainty. The particular statement that I recollect (and I quoted this in my paper No Consensus on Consensus) is this:

It will take courage to disclose lack of consensus, just as it will the courage to describe poorly understood high-consequence outcomes vividly.  But the coexistence of contending views (“low agreement”) is normal in science, not a cause for embarrassment, and users of the report need this information.

There is an underlying expectation (and pressure) for the IPCC not to pull back from its previous positions, and to increase the confidence level of its main findings.  One notable pull back occurred in the AR4 relative to the TAR, regarding the warmest years in the past millennia.  Jean Goodwin put it this way (again, quoted in my No Consensus paper):

Once the consensus claim was made, scientists involved in the ongoing IPCC process had reasons not just to consider the scientific evidence, but to consider the possible effect of their statements on their ability to defend the consensus claim.

When anyone asks me what I expect from the AR5 and what I will be looking for, I respond that I am looking to see (and understand) if they have changed their mind relative to the AR4 and to previous leaked drafts of the AR5.  If their mind is changed in the direction of reduced confidence or decreased alarmism, which seems to me to be justified by the evidence and observations over the past 5 years, then to me that would constitute an act of courage, particularly in face of sociopolitical and peer pressure to do otherwise.

Flip flopping

In U.S. politics, flip flopping has been used as a potent accusation against politicians, notably against John Kerry when he was a presidential candidate.  Personally I prefer some flip flopping in politicians; it is often a good thing when policy preferences change in response to new evidence, changing situations and political realities.

What about flip flopping by scientists?  In the climate debate, this doesn’t happen too often, and people that ‘switch sides’ is often newsworthy, notably Richard Muller’s  ‘conversion’ from skepticism.

Apart from the public debate, what about the more purely scientific debate?  I find it relative rare that a scientist who finds new evidence that is contrary to their previous finding actually provides the context of the new finding relative to what they previously thought.  One particular example that I recall, almost a decade later, is a statement that Kerry Emanuel made circa 2004/2005 regarding pulling out from a paper on the topic of hurricanes and global warming.  When asked about this, he said simply:  ‘I changed my mind.’  The stark eloquence (and rarity) of this statement has made it stick in my mind. A scientist changing his mind as a result of new evidence and different ways of analyzing the previous evidence:  this should be a routine occurrence. Its not routine in climate science, where post-hoc rationalization of inconvenient observations reigns.

My own emphasis on uncertainty in discussing climate science has been characterized as ‘wimping out’.  But a focus on the uncertainties, and not making overconfident statements, means that there is rarely a need to flip flop on a scientific judgment, and you avoid the bias inducing effect of feeling the need to defend a previous claim.

271 responses to “True courage(?)

  1. Good predictions are difficult things to make, especially about the future

    • The correct policy response to the non-problem of global warming is not to cap or tax carbon dioxide emissions. It is to have the courage to do nothing. (MoB)

      • For politicians, the easy thing to do may be nothing is something is a carbon tax.


        Australian gov’t faces carbon tax backlash at poll

        Share on twitter
        Share on gmail
        Share on stumbleupon
        Share on email
        Share on print
        More Sharing Services153

        Posted: Sep 06, 2013 10:07 AM CDT Updated: Sep 06, 2013 10:09 AM CDT
        By LUKE FUNK, Senior Web Producer –

        MyFoxNY Photos
        Gov. Christie Photos
        Photos of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
        Mug Shots
        See arrest photos, including some of the most unique and note-worthy mug shots.
        NJ House Explosion
        A house in Hunterdon County, N.J. exploded Wednesday morning.
        2003 Blackout Anniversary
        About 50 million people lost power Aug. 14, 2003, when a tree branch touching high-power transmission lines in Ohio started an outage that cascaded across a broad swath from Michigan to New England.
        Celebrities pose for PETA
        Celebrities pose nude for PETA.
        Man lives in dumpster
        A Brooklyn man bought a dumpster and turned it into his home.

        More>>

        By KRISTEN GELINEAU & ROD McGUIRK

        SYDNEY (AP) — The ruling Labor Party’s probable collapse in Australia’s next election is largely the consequence of its qualified success in the last one three years ago. To form the coalition she needed to stay in power, then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard reneged on a promise and agreed to place a carbon tax on major polluters.

        On Saturday, the bill for that bargain comes due. Voters have never stopped hating the tax and its effect on their electric bills. Longtime Labor Party supporters — even people who have helped cut pollution by installing solar panels at home — have flocked to the opposition.

        “Whoever gets rid of it will get my vote,” said Mark Keene, a 54-year-old maintenance worker from Sydney who, for the first time in his life, won’t be voting for Labor.

        Opposition leader Tony Abbott has declared the election a “referendum on the carbon tax” — a sure sign of confidence that most voters remain staunchly against it, with many believing that companies forced to pay the tax are simply passing the cost onto consumers.”

        http://www.myfoxny.com/Story/23359580/australian-govt-faces-carbon-tax-backlash-at-poll

    • Chief Hydrologist

      There are so many reasons for the Labor defeat that seems humungously certain today. These range from incompetence to corruption. They got rid of one Prime Minister who was deeply resented – replaced him with someone who was deeply unpopular – and then switched back. The essential problem is that Australians will not countenance economic incompetence and growing deficits.

      The carbon tax is almost irrelevant – it is so low as to be utterly ineffective. The real cost problem is the renewables target – 20% by 2020. It has not been an election feature – but hopefully this will be scrapped as well. This is not a matter of ditching mitigation entirely – but of tendering for mitigation proposals. You pick the cheapest of course and only pay for success. A new model for mitigation.

      I did note a new low for politics today – Tony Abbot kissing puppy dogs.

  2. “Anyone can fold in the face of facts, or listen to a well-reasoned argument and say, “You know what? You’re right, I never thought of it that way.”

    Of course, it’s quite the opposite. Hardly anyone can.

    “Personally I prefer some flip flopping in politicians; it is often a good thing when policy preferences change in response to new evidence, changing situations and political realities.”

    Ever the idealist, Judith. It’s almost always the case that this is done with an eye toward shifting political expediencies.

    ” In the climate debate, this doesn’t happen too often, and people that ‘switch sides’ is often newsworthy, notably Richard Muller’s ’conversion’ from skepticism.”

    Even a casual survey of old Richard Muller statements indicate he was far from a skeptic. Surely you know that? I’d have picked James Lovelock. Also, dare I say it, one Dr, Judith Curry (not that you’d see yourself as switching sides. Still, you’ve certainly evolved…)

    • pokerguy missed an opportunity to extol the virtues of The Bluff? People do it because it works. It works because people evaluate what you say by how confidently you say it, especially when they are not able to judge the validity of the statement themselves. You could also quote Chico Marx on this.

    • Diag, Well said with respect to the efficacy of the well executed bluff. In the words of the late, great Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke, “Yeah, well, sometimes nothin’s a real cool hand.’

      But “cool” is the operative word here. The truth of the matter is that it was the contemptuous, angry style of certain climate scientists that made me suspicious years ago when I was still a dewy eyed believer. My thought at the time was…”Hey, what are these guys so insecure about? What are they hiding?”

      • In poker terms, I decided to “call them down,” sometimes alternately stated as “look them up.”

      • This is exactly how I figured out what’s going on too. I’ve had endless political debates, and the least informed participants are always the most aggressive and demeaning. It is often – not always mind you – but often the mark of a political liberal/progressive to behave in this way when his/her beliefs are challenged.

  3. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse


    A scientist changing his mind as a result of new evidence and different ways of analyzing the previous evidence: this should be a routine occurrence. Its not routine in climate science, where post-hoc rationalization of inconvenient observations reigns.

    Exactly.

    This is why the IPCC has only ever issued one report.

    • Jeb,

      It isn’t the number of reports that matter, it is what is in them. Who is willing to bet AR5 is going to differ significantly from any of the previous reports? Particularly when it comes to confidence levels.

      • Um, that is rather Jeb ‘s precise point, tim. FAR and rehashes. And further, as Donna points out, WG3 editors doing post facto fixes of WG2 and WG1 material.

    • Very Reverend Jeb, what is your opinion on the natural variability thing again?

      http://redneckphysics.blogspot.com/2013/09/more-recovery-response-stuff.html

    • Interestingly when Overpeck gave instructions to Briffa for AR4 chapter 6 on paleo he asked that keith do a graph more compelling than the hockey stick.

      Keith fought and complained about succumbing to pressure from Solomon and Mann. He argued that our understanding hadn’t advanced since the TAR. In the end to handle a particularly thorny issue with regards to a unsettled dispute between Amman & Wahl and McIntyre, he would violate the guidelines explained to him by Overpeck and would include Wahl’s material in the chapter without attribution.

  4. Dr Curry, after the introduction, I had expected that you would write that you had listened to the posts at Open Mind and Climate Abyss changed your mind about Kosaka and Xie.

    • I agree. Nothing is more exciting than seeing the kind of agreement between a model and data that Kosaka and Xie have achieved. Granted, there is some self-circulatory to the fit, but this seems to be a watershed point in gaining an understanding to the source of variability in yearly global temperature.

      Are the auditors working on this?

      • I think nothing is more exciting than seeing this kind of agreement between the AMO and the IPWP

      • Oh don’t worry WebHubbleTelescope,

        When the auditor strikes, his righteous hand will be heavy indeed. I for one am eagerly awaiting it. Lying Lewandowsky is a greasy spot in the road right about now.

        I used your old handle because I remember you from theoildrum – I really enjoyed that site, w Ace Leanan, Heading Out and Gail Tverberg (the actuary.) I had her on my radio show discussing energy issues.

        I think that you have made a major mistake in thinking that your knowledge of energy depletion equates to knowledge of climate science. Being a peak oil skeptic is not the same as being a CAGW skeptic.

        Peak oil is a solid, simple, easy-to-understand scientific concept buttressed by plenty of historical data, and with no data that contradict it. Energy resources do get depleted, and it does and will cost more and more to access fossil fuel energy, and things are indeed worse than many skeptics realize. I am of the opinion that all or nearly all of the easy to reach fossil fuel resources have been tapped already.

        Climate science is a horse of another color entirely. We are far, far less sure of CAGW than we are of the realities of peak oil and dwindling access to cheap energy. You have hitched your wagon to a horse that is wild and not well understood at all. We just do not know climate science the way we know fossil fuel deposits and reserves, because it operates on a much much larger scale, being global, and has aspects, inputs and outputs that even mainstream climate scientists admit they do not understand. Further, it is quite simply a young science with few senior practitioners, and those are hardly independent of each other since they often review each others papers. Finally, many in the field are obviously activists with political agendas.

        Just because you are a smart person who understands peak oil doesn’t mean that you aren’t way out of your depth on this issue.

    • Victor, Why? She appears to be open to revising her “eyeball” estimate but didn’t find Tamino or N-G compelling enough to change her mind that “other” impacts in total may be greater than CO2 impact.

  5. So: John Kerry is brave, Obama is courageous, Al Gore has balls of steel?

  6. My ethic is a third one, from onion “keeping wrong”, and “don’t go too far, not to go back more”.

    My vision is pragmatic. Opinion is made to take decision, and to convince people to make decision.
    -Once there is clear doubt, it have to be said clear, and decision adapted to that.
    -Once there is a “good enough” position, it have to be said clear, decision taken, and risk of error admitted but neglected, except for backup solutions (always have a backup, for blackswan that are common, but where?).
    – Once you realize you make a mistake, you have to swallow the crow quickly, rebuild opinion, either new opinion, or clear doubt…

    Only shame is when you don’t change opinion when having the data, or when you don’t take a decision, while having the data.

    It is too comfortable to wait for the five-nine evidence while the house is burning. and if you are wrong, prepare to sweep the floor.

    the big errors on both side is that people refuse to stepback. in fact, if you follow the “black swan” theory, with good enough evidence you cannot be more wrong than with five-nine evidence… none is better than one or two-nine. Best is having a backup plan, no regret decisions, fast response, reversible actions…
    This is why there are social rule about things not to do even if you have strong evidence (like killing people to save others much later, wasting much today to save much later… procrastination is an instinct, not a problem , ask taleb). Because you can always be wrong, much more than what you imagine.

    You should never kill someone, ruin a life, because of one of your prediction says it can be fruitful. It should be clear, immediate and evident.

    Most prediction models are crime against humanity if you really believe in them.

  7. Mainstream science abounds with The Onion’s “True courage”

  8. I just took the Pew Research Quiz, which is supposed to test general knowledge.

    “You answered 11 of 13 questions correctly.”

    http://www.people-press.org/2013/09/05/what-the-public-knows-in-words-pictures-maps-and-graphs/

    How do the other ‘climateheads’ do?

  9. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Pekka Pirilä posts “Tomas, your criticism is misplaced and totally wrong”

    Judith Curry posts “Tomas definitely ain’t an amateur”

    Logical Conclusion  Tomas’ criticism is misplaced and professionally wrong!

    Hey, it happens!

    Seriously, Pekka Pirilä has been posting much good common sense relating to instability, chaos, statistics, and energy conservation.

    Perhaps Judith Curry should host a Climate Etc theme issue titled: the best of Pekka!

    Thank you, Pekka Pirilä!

    \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 – got your threads twisted?

      • Look out, Pekka; Hansen acolyte ahoy.
        ==============

      • Not to worry. Hansen’s at the top of Fan’s Pekking order. Hansen’s Fan’s Peking Duck. Hansen’s Fan’s … why doesn’t he just change hi nic to “Fan of Hansen”?

    • I renew my request for FOMTrolling to post pics of the Hansen shrine in the bedroom. Candles, wall collages, maybe a Hansen Bobblehead doll too? I wonder what the sacred text is? The one with all the mistakes crossed out? I’m also betting on a McIntyre voodoo doll that looks like a porcupine.

  10. “But a focus on the uncertainties, and not making overconfident statements, means that there is rarely a need to flip flop on a scientific judgment, and you avoid the bias inducing effect of feeling the need to defend a previous claim.”- JC

    ……says Judith, defending her focus on claims about uncertainties.

  11. Doc, 9 of 13 – and I had to guess as most of the US-centric questions.

  12. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Just remarking that Pekka Pirilä commonly posts well-reasoned scientific analysis, to which his opponents respond with fog and bluster.

    Heck, everyone can see *THAT*, billc!

    \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}

  13. Does anyone know where I can get a model for thermals fed by moist air that will run on my PC? Quad core AMD phenom 9850. 3.6 gig available memory.

  14. JC says

    “My own emphasis on uncertainty in discussing climate science has been characterized as ‘wimping out’. But a focus on the uncertainties, and not making overconfident statements, means that there is rarely a need to flip flop on a scientific judgment, and you avoid the bias inducing effect of feeling the need to defend a previous claim.”
    ______

    Judith, I wouldn’t call your emphasis on uncertainty “wimping out,” but I think you may be carrying it too far. Too much emphasis on uncertainty can be paralyzing, and result in doing nothing when action is needed.

    Sure, you don’t need to change your mind if your mind isn’t made up. You can go through life straddling the fence. On climate, however, I believe you lean more on one side of the fence. About all I see here are topics contrary to the consensus. Some balance in topics would give you more creditability as a fence straddler.

    • Max

      In case you haven’t noticed, Dr. Curry is leading the way into the new consensus.

      Certainty is a paralytic crutch for weak minded cowards that often leads to coffin corners and burst bubbles. Recognizing uncertainty spurs action to zero in on the regions of less uncertainty and better decision making.

      Remember your tortoise and hare fable as well as chicken little. There is a reason these fables have survived the ages.

      • Howard says
        “In case you haven’t noticed, Dr. Curry is leading the way into the new consensus.”
        ____

        If that happens, she will be in an uncomfortable position, which can be remedied only by flip-flopping.

      • Your slip is showing Max_OK

        I should hope Dr. Curry is uncomfortable and ready to flip-flop. Otherwise, she is a fool and a poser.

        Another tired cliche:”satisfaction is the end of desire”

      • No, it’s not. I find one beer so satisfying I open another one.

      • Why did the chicken cross the little road?
        To crown the retard tortoise as a toad.
        ===========

    • Max (who likes his climate just right),

      You do realize that Goldielocks has never been considered a deep thinker? You might want to remember that before offering advice to Dr Curry.

  15. David L. Hagen

    Courage, Valor, & Truth
    We need courage to seek objective truth.

    “One of the responsibilities for us as researchers is to have the courage to challenge accepted ‘truths’ and to seek out new insights,” remarks Tony Hey, corporate vice president, Microsoft Research Connections. “Richard Feynman was a physicist who not only epitomized both these qualities in his research but also took enormous pleasure in communicating the ideas of physics to his students.”

    The best most widely published example of courage, valor and truth in English literature is John Bunyan’s character “Mr Valiant for Truth” and “Christian” in Pilgrim’s Progress (1684).
    On truth, Bunyan wrote:

    May we but stand before impartial men, . . .
    That they will take my meaning in these lines
    Far better than his lies in silver shrines.
    Come, truth, although in swaddling clouts, I find,
    Informs the judgement, rectifies the mind;
    Pleases the understanding, makes the will
    Submit; the memory too it doth fill

    On valor and courage Bunyan wrote:

    Who would true valour see,
    Let him come hither;
    One here will constant be,
    Come wind, come weather
    There’s no discouragement
    Shall make him once relent
    His first avowed intent
    To be a pilgrim.

    From that, Bunyan wrote the poem from which came the hymn:

    He who would valiant be ’gainst all disaster,
    Let him in constancy follow the Master. . . .

    Some estimates are that more than 250 million copies of Pilgrim’s Progress have been printed with translations into 200 languages.

    The Onion’s perspective is quite the parody of courage and valor, inverting Bunyan’s standard:
    “Courage requires us to remain steadfast in our beliefs. . . . However off base, wrongheaded, or patently false a position we’ve staked out may be. . . . “True valor . . .when you realize that what you’re saying is completely and utterly wrong, but you continue to say it . . .”
    (Otherwise that is the most amazingly boneheaded distortion and misunderstanding of Western civilization I have yet seen).

    May climate scientists have the courage to seek objective truth, and be rewarded for their valor in doing so.

  16. Flip-flopping in science is necessary if using the multiple working hypothesis to solve geologic problems in real-time as you continue to collect data. Trial and error takes a lot of determinism to find the mechanisms of apparent randomness.

    Failing to be a spineless coward is only courageous in the self esteem universe. Doing your job is the minimum standard required: not heroic.

  17. As I recently commented elsewhere, it is increasingly difficult to discern the Onion news from the “real” news! Thanks for your courage!

  18. Judith, in discussing and focusing on all the important sources of uncertainty, you say this has been characterized as “wimping out.”

    Given the price you have paid, I characterize it as courage.

  19. The English language is beautiful, in that there are several words which express different levels of the same idea. In this case we have a progression of courageous, foolhardy, stupid and idiotic. I would describe what is dealt with in The Onion, not as being courageous, but as being stupid.

    Now there were a bunch of adventurers this year, whio seemed to have believed the forecasts of the hoaxsters of CAGW, that the NW Passage was going to be clear of ice this summer. WRONG. Over two days at the end of August, the easr exit was blocked with ice at Prince Regent Inlet, and lots of ice cluttered Cape Bathurst in the west. One yacht made a run for it, and just got past Cape Bathurst by the skin of it’s teeth. They were just foolhardy.

    But there was a set of rowers, in a totally inadequate boat, who made it as far as Cambridge Bay, before giving up and leaving their boat behind. Will they pay the expense of getting the boat out somehow? Or will they leave it behind to be just another piece of garbage, left by so called “environmentalists” giving publicity to the hoax of CAGW. I call these people foolhardy.

    Then there were the jet skiers. Surprise, Surprise. They ran into more ice than expected. Unfortunately for them, and us Canadians, their lives seem to have been in danger, and the Canadian Coast Guard had to rescue them. No word as to who pays the bill. I call these people idiotic.

    Then there are the deniers of CAGW. These are the people who have real courage.

    • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

      Jim said:

      “Then there are the deniers of CAGW. These are the people who have real courage.”

      Indeed, in exactly the way the Onion meant it.

  20. Heh, I always suspected that you have a “wicked” sense of humour. :)

    “Flip-flopping” is complicated. For politicians, when they do it purely for electoral advantage it is nearly always seen for what it is by the electorate. That is one of the main reasons why the Labor government in Australia will be out of office in 24 hours time. A lot of people, irrespective of their political predelictions, believe that they will say anything, and believe in nothing.

    OTOH, some years ago John Howard campaigned against a Goods and Services tax, and lost. Next time, he went back to the electorate and said that he he changed his mind, and won. Those who tried to criticise him for publicly changing his views were rewarded by his three successive election victories. I am no great fan of his, but the point is that the electorate recognised that he was (compared to the other lot) a man of his word, and someone who was prepared to admit that he was wrong.

    Rapid conversions tend to be the territory of people who are just as likely to change their minds again tomorrow. But, over and over again in accounts of people who have defected from the “Team” view of climate science is a process of learning, thinking and discussing. Most people don’t “flip-flop” on any important issue, even if there is a moment when everything crystallises. It doesn’t come out of nowhere.

    As for courage, I’m looking forward to some insights in the comments. I have seen reckless, pointless, even suicidal “courage” – very distressing – and how we distinguish it from the other kinds, and why, is an interesting topic.

    • joanna,

      “For politicians, when they do it purely for electoral advantage it is nearly always seen for what it is by the electorate.”

      The current president of the US has flip flopped on virtually every issue he has ever campaigned on, and was re-elected with a higher percentage of the vote than he gained in his first election.

      Some people want to be lied to, and expect their politicians to tell them what they want to hear.

      We call these people progressives.

  21. Climate Scientists have an absolutist position, and have painted themselves into that absolutist corner. Skeptics aren’t in that position. All they are saying is the evidence isn’t yet convincing, and think the debate should continue.

    In other words, skeptics can move to absolutist positions and there is no inconsistency with the previous position. But a warmist is completely committed to the position, and absolutely certain in their beliefs. Changing their position would like deciding a man wants to be a woman, or a woman a man. Now way to do that without damage.

    • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

      You are confusing the terms Ed. One can believe humans are very likely altering the climate and be Skeptic in the true sense of the word. Skepticism is an approach or way of acquiring knowledge. It is a tool.

      • Barbar does not understand science Gates. Science will paint anyone into a corner because the laws of physics can not be violated. All the data taken comprehensively points in one direction and must be self consistent across the board.

        Fake skeptics and deniers are free to float all sorts of garbage out there because no one does the self consistency checks, except for the Idiot Trackers nd Hot Whoppers of the world. Team Denier prefers that people remain quiet regarding krank theories, as that increases FUD, which is what Team Denier wants to see more of.

      • “Science will paint anyone into a corner because the laws of physics can not be violated.”

        No one has yet explained to me how an atmospheric sensitivity low enough to be benign in its implications for the future, does in any way violate the laws of physics.

        Since you’ve brought it up Web, this would be an excellent time to do so..

      • R. Gates, well said, I use skepticism in exactly that way.

      • Thank God we have WEB to judge who understands science and who doesn’t. Otherwise I’d be sooo confused.

      • “One can believe humans are very likely altering the climate and be Skeptic in the true sense of the word.”

        One can be, certainly. But no one commenting on this blog who supports the consensus is a true skeptic with respect to that political cause. Regardless of whether you spell it with an upper or lower case “s.”

      • Gary

        In the past, Gates has been highly skeptical that most proposed mitigation actions make any sense. It is difficult to be accurate with broad generalizations

      • Rob Starkey,

        Perhaps, but I haven’t seen it. I see lots of claims to skepticism, but no skepticism of the policies on offer by the CAGW movement. If he is opposed to “carbon” taxes, extensive regulation of the energy economy to reduce emissions, cap and trade, specifically, that would indeed be skeptical.

      • pg,
        Pick a sensitivity that is at the upper end of “benign” and then determine the probability of warming less than or equal to that.

        Science will paint you into a corner as you try to justify this number.

      • That’s fair enough. In fact, when it is put this way, what’s the difference between a warmist and a skeptic? I suppose the difference is that skeptics aren’t so certain the human influence is so great as to warrant immediate, drastic action. Warmists are absolutist on that, and can’t withdraw that position.

      • whut:

        “Barbar does not understand science Gates. **Science will paint anyone into a corner because the laws of physics can not be violated.***”

        That’s simply not true. Science is a series of human models that attempt to explain natural law, they are not knowable as natural law. In short, you can’t really “know” anything.

      • R. Gates, Certainly a Skeptical Warmist (or not)

        To be clear– I am extremely skeptical of most currently proposed forms of mitigation, because 1) the system is way too complex and the odds of making things worse are high 2) efforts may cause more suffering than the good they’ll do. I believe a more comprehensive approach from a complete Anthropocene Management perspective needs to looked at, and will eventually be looked at sooner or later. Preparing and hardening and focus on adaptation is probably a better use of efforts– as this can be useful no matter what kind of changes come– warm or cool. The human fingerprint on the planet is broad and increasing, and denial of this, or wishing it away is as foolish as half-back economic schemes that will cause more suffering and be generally ineffective. The time for humans to be the “reluctant” steward or accidental steward of this amazing planet has passed, and denial of our abililty and of our obligation toward Anthropocene Management truly makes us adolescent, cowardly and selfish.

      • Pick a sensitivity where ‘benign’ ends and then calculate how much colder we would now be without the warming effect of AnthroGHGs.
        ===========

      • lil kim lacks courage of convictions. Without GHG, a snowball earth. Higher concentrations of GHGs than we have now means that it will get hotter still.

        The rest is rationalization on lil kim’s part. It’s part of the rap act that gets old after awhile.

        No courage leads to rationalization and a tired old rap.

      • Yo Mama don’t dance, though with ants in her pants, and puddles of schmeer, schaum from a frakken the bakken and feelin.
        =================

      • R.Gates:
        “To be clear– I am extremely skeptical of most currently proposed forms of mitigation, because 1) the system is way too complex and the odds of making things worse are high 2) efforts may cause more suffering than the good they’ll do.”

        Pick your poison. The poison of slow down the winds with wind farms, move heat from hot places to cold places, and at extreme cost, is being rejected in warmist embracing nations.

      • ” I believe a more comprehensive approach from a complete Anthropocene Management perspective needs to looked at, and will eventually be looked at sooner or later.”

        That’s a “skeptical” hole you can drive a warmist truck through.

        Frankly, “a more comprehensive approach from a complete Anthropocene Management perspective” sounds more ominous than even decarbonzation. Like a climate final solution.

        I therefore remain extremely skeptical of R. Gates’ claim to skepticism.

      • “Anthropocene Management”

        Orwell award winner. Your prize is an English language bastardized beyond repair.

  22. R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

    Revealing the uncertainty is essential if you are communicating to policy makers, challenging what you or others hold as most certain is essential to advance the science.

  23. R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

    Never take a real stance on anything, adopt an “everything is too uncertain” attitude, and you”ll never have to flip-flop! Par for the course for many politicians!

  24. A philosopher took two of his best students for a walk along a country road. Stopping at a fencepost for a rest, they gazed out across the pasture and spotted a lone stallion contentedly grazing on the lush grass. The good doctor of philosophy asked the first student, “What color do say that horse is”?. The student thought for a moment and responded, ” I would say it is a Chestnut sir.” The professor turned then to the second student. “And your opinion please?”.

    After some time, the second student boldly announced, “Sir, that is a cow.”

  25. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Judith Curry posts “My own emphasis on uncertainty in discussing climate science has been characterized as ‘wimping out’. But a focus on the uncertainties, and not making overconfident statements, means that there is rarely a need to flip flop on a scientific judgment.”

    This risk-averse principle embodies the Roman virtues of gravitas and pietas, that when carried too far, regrettably yield climate-change science that is (in Wolfgang Pauli’s phrase) “not even wrong

    Young climate-change scientists are showing by their patterns of collaboration, their appreciation that this principle, embraced too restrictively, leads to mediocre-to-weak climate-change science.

    That’s Roman common-sense, Judith Curry!

    \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}

    • I have always been taken with Roman ethic’s; especially as they invaded so much of Europe and North Africa and murdering and enslaving the native populations. I suspect that my ancestors were less keen than you on the Roman ethical system and I find it a pity that Queen Boudica didn’t quite manage to get to the survivors of the XX Valeria Victrix before they managed to join up with and reinforce the Legio XIV Gemina.
      Less than a days march, Damn.

      • Doc

        Its one of those intriguing ‘what if’s’ isn’t it?

        Another is would ‘ the glorious Revolution’ have happened if William of Orange had been immediately confronted when he landed at Brixham (we passed his statue there today)

        Another is, what if D Day had been cancelled because of the weather, as much of the rest of June would have made an invasion impossible and by July the large build up of troops on the South Coast would have been noticed.

        We are geographically very close to the scene of the disastrous ‘Operation Tiger.’

        http://www.shermantank.co.uk/

        tonyb

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        DocMartyn [evidently dislikes Romans]

        Yeah! What have the Romans ever done for *us*?

        LOL … couldn’t resist!

        \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}

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      In great science as in all great creative enterprises, history teaches: Il nous faut de l’audace, et encore de l’audace, et toujours de l’audace

      This expression commonly is shortened to l’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace! Wrongly attributed by Gen. George Patton (and Hollywood!) to Frederick the Great, the expression in fact originated with the French revolutionary martyr Georges Jacques Danton

      Perhaps this snippet of history will serve to remind Climate Etc readers that foresighted scientific audacity — when it is justified by subsequent findings and provides solid foundations for further scientific advances — is a considerable virtue!

      \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

        Quite how you managed to slip in an article of Dr Hansen’s when we were referencing great historic events will remain-like the Marie Celeste-one of life’s great mysteries.

        Perhaps you can ask Dr Hansen why some of the world is cooling so fast despite co2 increasing?

        http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcet/

        tonyb

      • For those of you without much history, the phrase translates to: “We need audacity, and yet more audacity, and always audacity!”
        It was spoken by an architect of the French Revolution and one of the principal men to create and grant dictatorial powers to The Committee of Public Safety- the body that executed some 40,000 Frenchmen, ultimately including Danton.
        Thanks Fan for reminding us of the destruction progressives with audacity and a plan for social engineering can accomplish.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Somewhere in the world it is always cooling — to the delight of deniers, quibblers, demagogues, and cherry-pickers … the folks Wendell Berry calls “the gleeful yahoos who are destroying the world and the mindless oafs who abet them.”

        More wisely and responsibly, climate-change theory and observation agree that heat is increasing everywhere in the world — summed as a whole — and that humanity must summon the audacity to deal responsibly with this reality.

        To bear that responsibility requires *REAL* audacity, eh TonyB?

        \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 suggest you reread AR4 and then tell me how much of the world and where-they claim is cooling?
        tonyb

      • Ouch Fan. “Mindless oafs?” Good thing you were quoting, because I’m certain you would never use such a term.

      • Fan

        Your link (no, not the Hansen one again, does he pay you?) reminds me to ask if you have made our arrangements yet to attend the pontifical workshop in May?

        I am really looking forward to it
        tonyb

      • I recommend you watch Gérard Depardieu as ‘Danton’ in the French language version
        At the beginning Danton is enthusiastic about the slaughter of people, later when a fellow a condemned prisoner tells him how happy he is to find that Danton, the first president of the committee, is to be guillotined, and finally at the end, just before he climbs the steps to the guillotine a man spits in his face and asks him to remember all the men and women Danton has murdered in the same manner.
        Liberté, égalité, fraternité gave rise of the ‘Reign of Terror’ and he murder of 30,000 people. You start off by dehumanizing your opponents, claiming that everyone who is against your attempts to make the world better for humanity is against humanity, you project evil motives onto them, and in the end, the violence starts.

        I wonder how many people we could have saved if we spent the $1,000,000,000 on something useful.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Yeah! Us commie subversive-terrorist-progressives have one easy-to-understand goal in life: the demise of Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, and Will Smith

        Well, *some* folks think so, anyway!

        \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}

  26. Dog Experiences Best Day Of His Life For 400th Consecutive Day

    October 13, 2004
    SANTEE, CA—Family dog Loki experienced the best day of his life for the 400th straight day Monday, the black Labrador retriever reported. “I got to go outside! I got to sniff the bush!” Loki said, wagging excitedly. “I saw a squirrel and I barked at it and it ran up the tree! Then I came back inside, and the smoky-smelling tall man let me have a little piece of bacon and then I drank from the toilet!” Loki will experience the best day of his life once again tomorrow, when he digs a hole, chews on a slipper, and almost catches his tail.

    (The Onion)

  27. Love The Onion. But then, I loved Monty Python, Hekel and Jekel and the The Wittenburg Door too…Oh, and how could I forget The Marx Brothers?

    • You left out the Three Stooges. Monty Python for the unedumicated set. Nyuck nyuck nyuck.

      • Meh on the 3 Stooges. Even as a kid I found them slightly tiresome. But of course, I was not in any way a normal kid.

      • pokerguy,

        Being one of five boys, many a Saturday was spent imitating the grown men acting like 5 year olds on the Saturday morning television. Eyes, were poked. Faces were slapped. Prat falls were taken. I couldn’t sit through one today, but they were funny as hell at the time in a house where rough housing was as common as breathing.

  28. ” If their [the IPCC's] mind is changed in the direction of reduced confidence or decreased alarmism, which seems to me to be justified by the evidence and observations over the past 5 years, then to me that would constitute an act of courage, particularly in face of sociopolitical and peer pressure to do otherwise.”

    The IPCC ARs are no different from the old Soviet Union’s five year plans. They are political documents, crafted by politicians, with the help of their hired scientists, to paint a political picture, to achieve a political end.

    The probability of the IPCC putting out an objective scientific assessment that in any way undermines the political CAGW consensus now, is roughly the same as the chance in 1990 that the politburo would put out a 5 year plan predicting the imminent economic collapse of the Soviet Union.

  29. Muller’s conversion from “scepticism”. Don’t make me laugh. He was never a sceptic, he is an opportunist and self publicist.

    • What beliefs must one hold to count as a skeptic?

      1. what views on the temperature record?
      2. what views on C02, does it cause warming?
      3. what views on the hockey stick
      4. what views on GCMs.
      5. what views on carbon taces

      Consider the fact that Anthony is considered to be a skeptic,
      Consider the fact that Spenser is considered to be a skeptic
      mcintyre and monckton and mckittrick as well.

      your definition of what it means to be a skeptic should be testable. so, what makes a skeptic?

      • A skeptic is somebody who gets tossed in the skeptic tank.

        See: voting off island.

      • How about we get a mediator and agree that someone who said this in 2003 was not a skeptic when he wrote his famous NY Times op-ed??

        “Let me be clear. My own reading of the literature and study of paleoclimate suggests strongly that carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels will prove to be the greatest pollutant of human history.”

        We cannot afford to lower our standards merely because the problem is so urgent.”

        Why that almost sounds like he agreed with the political consensus, while being “skeptical” of the marketing efforts. Gee, who does this remind me of?

      • Interesting Gary. Now answer the questions.

      • Matthew R Marler

        Steven Mosher: What beliefs must one hold to count as a skeptic?

        That’s a quagmire, a tar baby, and quicksand.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I wish I knew what qualifies one as a skeptic. To this day, I still don’t know if I am one.

      • Steven, you write “What beliefs must one hold to count as a skeptic?”

        So far as I am concerned, I am a skeptic on two grounds. I am convinced no-one has proved that CAGW is anything more that a hypothesis. And I am convinced that what little empirical data we have gives a strong indication that adding CO2 to the atmosphere from current levels, causes a negligible rise in either global temperature or an energy imbalance.

      • 1. what views on the temperature record?
        Don’ trust error bars
        2. what views on C02, does it cause warming?
        About 1-2 degrees for 2x[CO2]
        3. what views on the hockey stick
        Tree rings do not record temperature, but are an indicator of local environmental conditions.
        4. what views on GCMs.
        Crap for predicting future global temperatures.
        5. what views on carbon taces
        The box models for the rate that atmospheric CO2 partitions into the oceans suck big time.

      • I have answered that question for you repeatedly. There is no single view that someone must hold to be a skeptic, in the sense that term is used in the CAGW debate.

        A skeptic in terms of the climate debate is not defined by just the scientific issues. There are many issues on which one can accept the actual science, and reject the inflated arguments of the consensus or their proposed solutions. Your list of Lindzen, Watts et al. being examples. A skeptic is one who, for any number of reasons,rejects the CAGW goal of decarbonizing, or otherwise using government to centrally control the energy economy.

        Last time I checked, no other skeptics elected me to speak for them. But I’ll give it another go, just for you. From my following of the debate, I would say that:

        1. Most skeptics, not including myself, accept that the modern temp records are in the ball park, but find problems with the models and adjustments, or lack thereof. There is no uniformity. (I think you all don’t have a clue what the GAT is to within a couple tenths of a degree.)

        2. Most skeptics also agree that, all other things being equal, CO2 would cause warming, but disagree on whether it has, the degree, the danger, etc. There is again no uniformity.

        3. I would guess that most skeptics think the Mann hockey sticks suck. But then, a lot of consensus types do too. Paleo-climate in particular being even less precise than modern temp records.

        4. Well, if anyone thinks the GCMs are accurate or precise enough, they probably have to accept their output. Which would leave out any skeptics I know. This is probably the closest one can get to a “consensus” on the skeptic side.

        5. Carbon taxes, well McKitrick and a number of others have proposed such taxes, but usually as an antidote to the more onerous taxes proposed by your tribe. No uniformity there either.

        Compare this to the lock step, rote regurgitation on each of those issues by the vast majority of CAGW consensus believers.

        1. The current temp record proves we need to decarbonize.
        2. CO2 causes dangerous, I mean catastrophic, no, I mean apocalyptic warming.
        3. Paleo-climate may have issues, but proves we are experiencing unprecedented warming.
        4. GCMs are the bomb. Sign up for cap and trade, massive taxes and decarbonization in general now.
        5. Carbon taxes are one way to decarbonize, but anything that strangles the energy economy will suffice.

        I won’t bother asking you to answer my question, though I asked first. It’s not in your obscurantist nature. You would just redefine any word necessary to further muddle the issue.

        The debate is whether to decarbonize the global economy. When the consensus gives up on that, get back to me about definitions.

      • You learn more here by accident than other places by design.

        Nice catch GaryM.

        “I would love to believe that the results of Mann et al. are correct, and that the last few years have been the warmest in a millennium.
        Love to believe? My own words make me shudder. They trigger my scientist’s instinct for caution. When a conclusion is attractive, I am tempted to lower my standards, to do shoddy work. But that is not the way to truth. When the conclusions are attractive, we must be extra cautious.” – Richard Muller.

        “THE SEIRENES (or Sirens) were three sea nymphs who lured sailors to their death with a bewitching song. The Seirenes were later encountered by the Argonauts who passed by unharmed with the help of Orpheus, the poet drowning out their music with his song. Odysseus also sailed by, bound tightly to the mast, his men blocking their ears with wax. The Seirenes were so distressed to see a man hear their song and yet escape, that they threw themselves into the sea and drowned.” – http://www.theoi.com/Pontios/Seirenes.html

      • I think climate skeptics tend to be the sort of people who for one example, did not let themselves get snookered by the real estate bubble that popped in 2006-2007. What might the latter indicate? It’s my sense that climate skeptics tend to question authority in a way most warmists don’t, and thus tend to be more intellectually independent

        This is course is an unfairly broad brush, yet I think it holds some validity. I’d like to see made some sort of survey to see if resistance to the real estate bubble, and the dot com bubble before it has some predictive value WRT to climate positions. Perhaps the best way to test this would be to find a way to question those whose climate beliefs are inconsistent with their general politics. So this would include liberals who consider themselves skeptics, and conservatives who consider themselves warmists…

        I’ve posed this question to warmists a few times …who’ve refused to answer. Make of that what you will.

      • Simple Steve, your a skeptic if you believe that little old life-giving CO2, while definitely a GHG, is not the dominant control knob to climate sensitivity.

      • “So far as I am concerned, I am a skeptic on two grounds. I am convinced no-one has proved that CAGW is anything more that a hypothesis.

        I agree

        And I am convinced that what little empirical data we have gives a strong indication that adding CO2 to the atmosphere from current levels, causes a negligible rise in either global temperature or an energy imbalance.

        I agree.

        Looks like I am a skeptic

      • ‘Bob | September 6, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
        Simple Steve, your a skeptic if you believe that little old life-giving CO2, while definitely a GHG, is not the dominant control knob to climate sensitivity.”

        Wow, Im a skeptic

      • 1. what views on the temperature record?
        Agree with you
        2. what views on C02, does it cause warming?
        Substantial overlap with you
        3. what views on the hockey stick
        Agree with you
        4. what views on GCMs.
        agree with you
        5. what views on carbon taces
        not sure havent looked at it.

        Well Doc, looks like Im a skeptic

      • Steve did you know that Grant Foster is a ‘skeptic’?

        In Environ. Res. Lett. 7 (2012) 044035 (5pp)

        Comparing climate projections to observations up to 2011

        Stefan Rahmstorf,Grant Foster and Anny Cazenave

        http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/4/044035/pdf/1748-9326_7_4_044035.pdf

        The authors state that, in line with IPCC projections, the temperature between 1990–2011 rose 0.3 degrees. Keeling has a change in CO2 from 354.3 to 391.6 during the period.
        Thus, the value for 2xCO2 induced climate sensitivity is 2.1 degrees.

      • 1. Most skeptics, not including myself, accept that the modern temp records are in the ball park, but find problems with the models and adjustments, or lack thereof. There is no uniformity. (I think you all don’t have a clue what the GAT is to within a couple tenths of a degree.)

        Agreed.

        2. Most skeptics also agree that, all other things being equal, CO2 would cause warming, but disagree on whether it has, the degree, the danger, etc. There is again no uniformity.

        Agreed

        3. I would guess that most skeptics think the Mann hockey sticks suck. But then, a lot of consensus types do too. Paleo-climate in particular being even less precise than modern temp records.

        Agreed

        4. Well, if anyone thinks the GCMs are accurate or precise enough, they probably have to accept their output. Which would leave out any skeptics I know. This is probably the closest one can get to a “consensus” on the skeptic side.

        Agreed

        5. Carbon taxes, well McKitrick and a number of others have proposed such taxes, but usually as an antidote to the more onerous taxes proposed by your tribe. No uniformity there either.

        Agreed.

        Hey I’m a skeptic

      • 1. The current temp record proves we need to decarbonize.
        disagree
        2. CO2 causes dangerous, I mean catastrophic, no, I mean apocalyptic warming.
        disagree
        3. Paleo-climate may have issues, but proves we are experiencing unprecedented warming.
        disagree
        4. GCMs are the bomb. Sign up for cap and trade, massive taxes and decarbonization in general now.
        disagree
        5. Carbon taxes are one way to decarbonize, but anything that strangles the energy economy will suffice.
        disagree

        Looks like I aint a warmist

      • Steve Mosher, Vicar of the Congregation of the Faith – Model Division, Protector of the BEST Temperature Record Around, and Acolyte of the Progressive Palace Guard, now disdains climate models, the temp records, and government.regulation of the energy economy.

        Of course, since Mosher can’t settle on a definition of the word “measure” (let alone words like “precise enough”), I suspect we are seeing less of a coming out than it would appear.

        Yes, Mosher is a good candidate for mediation. As long as by mediation you don’t mean – mediation.

      • Doc, the value of 2.1C is transient.
        Multiply it by 1.5 to get an idea of what the ECS will be.
        That number is reflected in the land temperature rise, which is closer to 3C.

        Ask Mosh with his BEST data how this works.

      • Steve, for part-time lurkers it is difficult to know when you are being facetious. Are you prepared to jettison your “lukewarmer” status? It really is unbecoming Steve, especially for a self-described libertarian. Take a stance, right or wrong. Declaring lukewarmerhood is equivalent to proposing a fuzzy null hypothesis. Don’t you agree?

      • Webster, “Ask Mosh with his BEST data how this works.”

        Too late, Mosh done gone skeptic :(

      • gary your problem is that you defined things in such a manner as to allow
        me to define myself as not a warmist.

        1. The current temp record proves we need to decarbonize.

        Nothing can be proved about policy choice from the record.

        2. CO2 causes dangerous, I mean catastrophic, no, I mean apocalyptic warming.
        Frankly I dont know, but I know enough to be concerned

        3. Paleo-climate may have issues, but proves we are experiencing unprecedented warming.
        Na, far too uncertain
        4. GCMs are the bomb. Sign up for cap and trade, massive taxes and decarbonization in general now.
        Nope. GCM are the best tool. they happen to suck. but they are better than nuttin.
        5. Carbon taxes are one way to decarbonize, but anything that strangles the energy economy will suffice.

        Not too keen on taxes.

        basically there is no coherent view of what makes one a skeptic or an alarmist.

        The terms are not useful. its better to just talk about individual issues.

      • Steven.
        No, my “problem” is that I pretended to take your questions at face value and provide a response, with a tinge of humor. I was not trying to narrowly define anything with respect to you, because it wouldn’t matter what I wrote, you would redefine something to quibble. That’s what you do.

        But at least you gave, at the end, a somewhat good faith response. Which you can do every once in a while, once your obscurantism is pointed out to you. See eg.:

        http://judithcurry.com/2013/07/15/why-libertarians-should-support-a-carbon-tax/#comment-344518

        “basically there is no coherent view of what makes one a skeptic or an alarmist.
        The terms are not useful. its better to just talk about individual issues.”

        Yes, that is the obscurantist’s central tactic. Let’s throw out silly things like nouns that frame the debate. Let’s make it virtually impossible to have a mature discussion about any real topic. No skeptic. No consensus. No global warming. No climate change. No catastrophe. No decarbonization. No…anything that might reveal the absurdity of the warmist political position.

        Nope. Not playing. Words mean things, even when you try to strangle them.

      • Alarmist:
        IPCC is basically correct, if a tad too conservative.
        Urgent action needed. Adopt “renewables” at any cost.

        Skeptic:
        IPCC is political propaganda
        Only “no regret” policies acceptable. Renewables don’t work.

  30. Marlowe Johnson

    “If their mind is changed in the direction of reduced confidence or decreased alarmism, which seems to me to be justified by the evidence and observations over the past 5 years”

    Seems justified? what evidence did you have in mind Judith? It would seem prudent to wait until AR5 from WG II is out before making such a judgement don’t you think?

  31. It’s unethical to persistently assert uncertainty where none exists. Ignorance of knowns that were previously unknown unknowns is an unacceptable excuse. Darkness we see.

    • I know that at least 30% of the stuff I ‘know’ is wrong, nothing is cut and dried.
      I am one of the few people who works on human primary cancer cells and normal human astrocytes. Human astrocytes are different from rodent ones, but you can grow huge amounts of rodent astrocytes, and so most of the data on what ‘astrocytes’ are is from rat, and most of the rest from mice. Human astrocytes are eye-wateringly expensive.

      A lot of people still do (rodent) mitochondrial work at 30 degrees C, even though they behave quite differently at body temperature.
      Not all mitochondria are the same, but most people still work with liver mitochondria as you can get so many.
      Uncertainty is everywhere until you step away from the cutting edge, and then the stuff is taught at High Schools.

  32. The whole ‘Scientists take and absolute position and never change their minds’ meme is rather irritating.
    Here is part of a year 2000 Nature paper

    Nature Genetics 25, 235 – 238 (2000)
    doi:10.1038/76118
    Estimate of human gene number provided by genome-wide analysis using Tetraodon nigroviridis DNA sequence
    Hugues Roest Crollius et al.,

    “The number of genes in the human genome is unknown, with estimates ranging from 50,000 to 90,000 (refs 1, 2), and to more than 140,000 according to unpublished sources. We have developed ‘Exofish’, a procedure based on homology searches, to identify human genes quickly and reliably…..

    Application of Exofish to the December version of the working draft sequence of the human genome and to Unigene showed that the human genome contains 28,000−34,000 genes”

    Last month we had this:-

    Moss Beats Human: Simple Moss Plants Outperform Us by Gene Number

    Aug. 5, 2013 — At the genetic level, mosses are more complex than humans: A group of German, Belgian and Japanese scientists, coordinated by Professor Ralf Reski from the University of Freiburg, Germany, published a new study where they describe 32,275 protein-encoding genes from the moss Physcomitrella patens. This is about 10,000 genes more than the human genome contains (22,000). Mosses are tiny plants with a simple body plan: They have no roots, no flowers and do not produce seeds. Therefore, they were for a long time they were considered to be simple organisms also at the genetic level.”

    We have no researchers look for the ‘hidden’ genes. We do not have a generation of young investigator waiting for the older ones to die off so that they can research on the actual 22,000 and not waste time measuring ‘hidden DNA’. People overestimated, and were wrong. Now the same people are looking at the added complexity of intron splicing and the impact of RNA silencing. There is no bitterness, no feuds and life has just moved on.

    • You mean you don’t have people arguing that even though there are probably fewer than 35K genes that it could be a dangerous 150K genes?

      You don’t have people arguing that even though the data show the number of genes is less than originally thought, that they are 95% sure that it is very likely that the trend is upward?

      • No one at either end of the prediction scale was treated as a leper.
        A lot of people had invested a lot of time and effort into their predictions.

  33. As I am a small boat sailor from an early age I’ve learned a thing or two about holding course and paying attention to wind and water.

    1) adjust to where the wind blows; anticipate wind changes by observing the ripples on the water and feel the breeze on your face.

    2) Continuously adjust your sails and shift weight according to the strength and direction of the wind.

    3) Know the depth of the water and the draw of your boat.

    4) When sailing through reefs, be prepared to to point higher or fall off the wind to make a safe passage.

    5) When the wind is too much for your boat and your skills, stay in harbor. One tends to learn about your boat and your skills through experience; ie, going out and breaking something.

    6) Staying the course is neither wise nor recommended except when gambling with your own life.

    Courage is doing the right thing when it is dark and you are uncertain.

    • “Courage is doing the right thing when it is dark and you are uncertain”
      Forethought is to listen to the weather forecast and have a full set of survival gear, and having a pair of flash-lights.

      • DocMartyn

        In the literal sense of darkness I would agree with you that some forethought and preparedness would be appropriate. Some might follow the stern light of the boat ahead into the harbor presuming they know where they are going. Unfortunately, this strategy more often than not leads you to places you did not intend to go.

        Figuratively, darkness can be in the sense of Churchill’s “darkest hour” or reflected in the novel by Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon, a novel about a Russian comrade caught in one of Stalinist 1938 purges. In these two scenarios, courage means in part, addressing the realities of your circumstances, knowledgeably steeling yourself for whatever is yet to come.

        Courage under the circumstances of descending darkness can mean listening to others, being mindful to whom you are listening; at times, relinquishing control. Or, and this is my favorite in doing the right thing: heave to, waiting for the first light of dawn (like more data, enlightenment); i.e., reduce uncertainty.

      • We have human and personal history to guide us; would I be ashamed if everyone I know and love knew I was doing this?

      • Doc Martyn

        Shame is the issue: totally personal; I am or am not ashamed by what I do. There is no hope in projecting a solution; rather, it is observing, and the family whom I value observing, that the solution is correct &/or plausible.

        In my case, I value the family I have adopted in accepting my perspective. I am strong in my opinion, it’s just that I am willing to listen and learn. Is there something you have to say that is contrary?

      • I was not being personal, the ethical ‘rule of thumb’ you have to work with, in my area at least, is would I be ashamed if what I was doing came to light?
        I have a paper going through revision a the moment hat has a lot of statistics. I did the whole damned thing myself, then went to the biostatisical unit with my flow diagram of exactly what I had done. There was no way I could post-hoc change anything after I had done my analysis and data dump.
        I like to be like Caesars wife, not only virtuous, but seen to be virtuous.

      • DocMartyn

        After an initial foray into doing my own statistics and then going to the biostat people I got my comeuppance. After eliminating all the things I wanted to say got nixed, I had learned to go to the statisticians early and often.

        I admit, appearances are important to the outside world. Something to think about when I look in the mirror and am trying to decide what to do.

  34. “Once the consensus claim was made, scientists involved in the ongoing IPCC process had reasons not just to consider the scientific evidence, but to consider the possible effect of their statements on their ability to defend the consensus claim. – Jean Goodwin

    Once you’ve staked out your position, you might now defend it. Exploring new territory, now may be secondary. A Scientist may ask themselves, am I a defender or an explorer? If I explore, will the defenders still consider me part of the consensus or will they lock the gates?

    I think Goodwin’s statement captures an operating change. From following the Science no matter where it leads, to one of caution and protecting the status quo. A limiting approach..

  35. timg56 offers up:
    Anyone curious as to what Minnesota dick tastes like?

    Uncle Tim has all the answers. Just ask him.

    • Not all of them web.

      And I’ve been wrong a large number of times. Just not as many times as I’ve been right. If you can fix more problems than you cause, you are doing pretty good.

  36. Matthew R Marler

    Professor Curry, that was a delightful post.

    Someone (J. M. Keynes? J. K. Galbraith) wrote, approximately, When confronted with new information, people will work 100 times as hard to refute it than to understand or learn it.

    • Keynes is often quoted as saying; ““When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” However, this may be apocryphal, I’ve never seen the origin of the phrase cited, and it doesn’t make it into the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. And I haven’t seen your quote attributed to him. Don’t know about Galbraith.

      Many people have made similar comments. Craig Silverman writes: ” When confronted by contrary information, we find ways to avoid accepting it as true. We are governed by emotion, not by reason. (Read more about these factors in Nyhan and Reifler’s “Misinformation and Fact-checking: Research Findings From Social Science,” a paper written for New America Foundation’s Media Policy Initiative.) http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reports/article/102762/A-New-Age-for-Truth.aspx

  37.  

    “Meanwhile, sea surface temperatures continue to fall.” ~Roy Spencer (October 5, 2010)

    And we know what that means. “If ocean cooling does occur, it DOES mean global warming as stopped during that time period.” Roger Pielke, Sr.

  38. “With global cooling underway, and while waiting around for solar maximum, my own research interest has moved on to understanding the transition to cooling. A recent report on the Canadian wheat crop has it down 20% this year due to a cold and wet start to the growing season. This is consistent with my view that, by the end of the decade, Canadian agriculture will be reduced to trapping beavers, as it was in the 17th century.” ~David Archibald

  39. I missed when Muller was a skeptic. I’d gone to the bathroom.

    • Well, maybe he will be back. As Churchill said “Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain ingenuity to rerat” On the other hand it takes even more ingenuity to not have ratted at all but just convinced everyone you have.

      • How gently, and askew, sits the crown on the King of Rats.
        ========

      • dennis, that reminds me of one of Australia’s most unscrupulous politicians, Billy Hughes (1862-1952) who changed parties five times. He was Prime Minister for a while in the early C20th.

        The only party he refused to join for political gain was the Country Party (whose members loathed him). His possibly apocryphal quote was: “Well, I had to draw the line somewhere.” This was used as a jibe at the CP for decades afterwards, but I suspect that, since they would never have had him (for good reasons), the joke has rebounded.

    • Moso, only do that during the ads. And avoid using American euphemisms. I do not believe that the room to which you refer necessarily includes a bath.

      • Faustino, you are proof that a pedantic English brain grows still more pedantic under brutal Queensland sun. I’ll leave you with a deep and cryptic comment from us voters in Lyne today: it’s going to be beautiful, but it’ll be beautiful in its beautifulness.

      • WC, to you.

    • He dissed Mann’s Hokey Schtick, probably in hopes of taking over his figurehead position. BEST was his leadership campaign. Hasn’t worked out, so far.

  40. wrong!
    Courage is not giving in when you know you are right.
    Courage is swimming against the avalanche of peer pressure.
    Courage is standing up against the abusers of science.
    Courage in climate science means risking your job and your mortgage payments.

    There is far to little courage in climate science: “I’ll better hold my head down so I’ll keep my grant money. “

    • You do know the Onion is a satire mag, don’t you? It’s published and edited by Alfred E. Newman of Mad magazine, in his spare time, of which he has a surplus.

  41. Well, it’ll be nice if they do find the courage to make some real progress.

    But the Emperor is not as forgiving as I am.

  42. True Courage is lying about the ”missing heat”

    True courage is, using ”proxy data” as factual…

    • And defining video game projections as data, and as predictions, and future fact without any need for anything other than slight overlap to produce a solid (thick as a brick) consensus.

      • Brian H | September 8, 2013 at 3:56 pm said: ”And defining video game projections as data, and as predictions, and future fact without any need”

        Brian H, you are spot on – BUT, we have to give them credit for being ”a genius con artists” to be able to get away with things like that… or… their opponents are indoctrinated in similar crap

  43. Courage is soething I’d rather not talk about. Those of us who were lucky enough to live through war have to reflect on our friernds who didn’t. Facing torture and inevitable violent death. you have to wonder whether your personal courage would be up to it. It is a scene one would prefer not to revisit.Because these events changed your life for ever, they are never far away and you can’t escape them. Enough of courage.

    • Mr. Alexander Biggs, You have remembered the very reasons why it is so important that you be here today, Tomorrow too.

    • Alexander,

      You address a reality that so many don’t understand and therefore abuse regularly. Today everything is a crisis and the most common call is to have a war on it. War on drugs, war on poverty, war on terror, war on gun violence, etc. For me that demeans those men and women, civilian as well as military, who have experienced the real thing.

      Which is why I think Michael Mann is such a self important twit with his constant referral to being in the trenches and on the front line, bravely battling big oil. Anyone else get the impression he might found under the bed with the dog during a really big thunder storm?

    • Kipling’s If also comes to mind in contrast to the Onion‘s parody.

  44. I have always thought that the saying “the captain goes down with the ship” was really because 1) its better than facing the court of inquiry that will follow and 2) he is not going to get another job. So sure, it takes courage to stick with a lost cause, but the IPCC people will never again be important, hence to them, it is better to go down in flames.

  45. On being wrong, this is what Bertrand Russell said:
    “I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.”

    • Worse, might not die.
      =====

      • No one gets out alive.

        My fave Berty-ism goes something like, “If the experts are agreed, it is not intellectually safe to be certain of the contrary opinion. If the experts are disagreed, it is not safe to be certain of any opinion.”

  46. A true lesson of courage that would be:

    WASHINGTON—As President Obama continues to push for a plan of limited military intervention in Syria, a new poll of Americans has found that though the nation remains wary over the prospect of becoming involved in another Middle Eastern war, the vast majority of U.S. citizens strongly approve of sending Congress to Syria.

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/poll-majority-of-americans-approve-of-sending-cong,33752/

    • Obama ran his mouth. Great Middle East policy that.

    • That would send a message.

      • So would a FB post.

        But let’s focus on courage.

      • Obama sold the pass with his initial speech to the Middle East, in Cairo early in his presidency (if memory serves). He offered a limp hand to those who respect only strength, I think that adversely changed the dynamics of the US-Middle East relationships. I’m not sure what could be achieved by intervention in Syria, but I know that Obama positing red lines then prevaricating when they are crossed is not in the world’s interest.

      • Law ill, hah hah. Funny prophet peculiah taqiyah.
        ============

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Nothing is to be gained by unilateral action by the global sheriff. We’re a bit over deputy sheriff as well.

        Strategically – talk tough, carry a big stick and blame the UN for inaction.

      • Another strong message from our sponsors:

      • Willard

        As a Swiss I am rather glad that the USA has all those foreign military bases rather than someone else I’d trust less.

        This time, I personally don’t think the US should attack Syria, since there is no apparent threat to the outside world from Syria (and the majority in the US seem to agree). If the government still wants to carry out this attack, despite the apparent will of its populace, one can only ask the question, “WHY?”

        Max

    • Yeah. And while they’re at it, send the President and his cabinet there, as well.

    • Just send Obama. On a cruise missile. Anywhere.

  47. More from The Onion on global warming here. I like the one about teaching Armageddon alongside Global Warming as an end-of-world scenario.

    http://www.theonion.com/topics/global-warming/

    • Jim D

      CAGW Doomsday and Armageddon are one and the same, Jim.

      Only difference is that one dogma is backed by ancient prophets in the Bible, the other by modern prophets of doom like Hansen.

      Seen one doomsday scare you’ve seen ‘em all, Jim

      Max

    • If we are already back to where we had to be, just to be safe… where is our share of the money that may one day be saved going to go NOW… or with that world with another Hope, that already came to us, free for nothing?

  48. I have a poor opinion of “The Onion.” Certainly, it can point out the big coordinated lies. But in general, I think it sours carefully considered effort. It boost the ego of the reader, into thinking every action is some for of demagoguery. By setting that expectation, it in fact enables it.

    Silent readers feeling superior. Sorry, I think it is an anti-truth site.

    But that’s because I think the bad people are winning, and they are.

  49. “Climate is never constant; it is always cooling or warming. Various things cause these trends. Ever since I began studying climate 40 years ago I have been looking for patterns along with possible mechanisms and explanations. I have not had great success; if fact nobody has, and we have all been wrong once or twice.” – Chris de Freitas

    True Courage?

  50. True courage is willingness to accept reality – Our dependence on a still mysterious object at the center of the Solar System:

    http://informthepundits.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/the-solar-polar-magnet-mystery/

    Selfishness (the human “ego cage”) and hyper-inflation of world-leaders’ sense of self-importance are fear-based responses that blind their/our awareness of the Sun’s influence on our lives.

    Human behaviour would rapidly change if our leaders realised our vulnerability to the next major Sun-flare:

    _ a.) A sense of service would rapidly replace the rapacious grasping of power and wealth that characterises all their/our actions.

    _ .b) A sense of gratitude would deeply invest every day, and perhaps a more caring version of humanity would rapidly emerge.

    {The above analysis was sent to me by a friend overseas.}

  51. Antonio (AKA "Un físico")

    In climate change dabate, all positions are wrong. They all know they are wrong. But no one of them would admit their mistakes. If you call it courage… that’s an opinion … I call it stupidity.

  52. Pingback: Verkligt mod - Stockholmsinitiativet - Klimatupplysningen

  53. Pingback: Courage | Make everyday Outstanding