Mooney on Kahan on Skeptics

by Judith Curry

Chris Mooney has a new post up entitled “A little knowledge: why the biggest problem with climate skeptics may be their confidence.”  Mooney’s post responds to Kahan et al.’s new study entitled “The tragedy of the risk-perception commons: culture conflict, rationality conflict, and climate change.

The tragedy of the risk-perception commons: culture conflict, rationality conflict, and climate change

Dan Kahan, Maggie Wittlin, Ellen Peters, Paul Slovic, Lisa Ouellette, Donald Braman, Gregory Mandel

Abstract:      
The conventional explanation for controversy over climate change emphasizes impediments to public understanding: Limited popular knowledge of science, the inability of ordinary citizens to assess technical information, and the resulting widespread use of unreliable cognitive heuristics to assess risk. A large survey of U.S. adults (N = 1540) found little support for this account. On the whole, the most scientifically literate and numerate subjects were slightly less likely, not more, to see climate change as a serious threat than the least scientifically literate and numerate ones. More importantly, greater scientific literacy and numeracy were associated with greater cultural polarization: Respondents predisposed by their values to dismiss climate change evidence became more dismissive, and those predisposed by their values to credit such evidence more concerned, as science literacy and numeracy increased. We suggest that this evidence reflects a conflict between two levels of rationality: The individual level, which is characterized by citizens’ effective use of their knowledge and reasoning capacities to form risk perceptions that express their cultural commitments; and the collective level, which is characterized by citizens’ failure to converge on the best available scientific evidence on how to promote their common welfare. Dispelling this, “tragedy of the risk-perception commons,” we argue, should be understood as the central aim of the science of science communication.


Some excerpts from the Introduction:

The goal of this paper is to challenge this critique of the rationality of public opinion on climate change. Our motivation is in part to show how poorly supported the conventional picture of public dissen-sus is by empirical evidence: scientific examination does not bear out the premise that deficiencies in science education or defects in individual reasoning explain conflict over climate change.

After presenting our data, we will suggest that the rationality question should be asked and ans-wered at two different levels (McMahon 2001). The first is individual. For reasons that make sense from a variety of psychological perspectives, individuals behave as if they were trying to maximize correspon-dence between their own perceptions of societal risks and the perceptions that predominate within the cul-tural groups to which they belong (Sherman & Cohen 2006; Kahan, Braman, Gastil, Slovic & Mertz 2007). Individuals need to use a variety of cognitive faculties to attain this correspondence. Judged within this framework, the evidence suggests that individuals are displaying an impressively high degree of rationality in the formation of their beliefs about climate change.

Nevertheless, public opinion can be understood to be irrational at the collective level. This pers-pective sees society as the agent and maximization of the welfare of its members as the goal. What makes collective decision-making irrational, moreover, has nothing to do with limited scientific literacy or wide-spread cognitive biases; on the contrary, the source of the problem is just how exceedingly rational socie-ty’s members are at the individual level: The reliable capacity of individuals to conform their personal beliefs to those that predominate within their respective cultural groups prevents those groups from con-verging on beliefs that make all of their members materially better off.

This conflict between individual and collective rationality is not inevitable. It occurs only because of contingent, mutable, and fortunately rare conditions that make one set of beliefs about risk congenial to one cultural group and an opposing set congenial to another. Neutralize these conditions, we will argue, and the conflict between the individual and collective levels of rationality is resolved. Perfecting our knowledge of how to achieve this state should be a primary aim of the science of science communication.

From the section Public Irrationality thesis:

The first explanation can be called the “scientific illiteracy” theory. According to this view, skepticism about climate change can be traced to poor public comprehension of science. 

The second explanation can be called the “bounded rationality” theory.  The model posits two discrete forms of information-processing: “System 1,” which consists in rapid visceral judgments that manifest themselves in a collection of decision-making “heuristics”; and “System 2,” which involves conscious reflection and calculation—modes of reasoning that are slower but more accurate than the heuristical ones associated with System 1. Although System 1 works well for most of the contingencies in daily life, citizens’ predominant reliance on heuris-tic rather than more analytic modes of reasoning leads them to underestimate climate change risks, which are remote and abstract compared to a host of emotionally charged risks such as those associated with nuclear power or terrorism that the public in fact tends to overestimate. 

The third explanation is the “cultural cognition” theory. Drawing on concepts and methods from psychology, anthropology, and communication, this theory holds that individuals can be expected to form perceptions of risk that reflect and reinforce values that they share with others. Public dissensus over climate change, according to this view, originates in a more basic conflict between opposing groups whose members’ cultural outlooks dispose them to form opposing perceptions of environmental and technological risks generally. 

The conventional understanding of public opinion on climate change synthesizes these three explanations. In this account, a substantial fraction of the population is seen as lacking both the basic knowledge and the psychological capacity necessary to reliably interpret scientific evidence. As a result, they must rely on heuristic substitutes, which systematically bias their estimations of climate change risks. Cultural cognition—the conforming of beliefs to those that predominate within one’s group—is simply one of these heuristics. The result is the failure of the public—or at least a large proportion of it—to form the views of climate change risk held among more knowledgeable, dispassionate experts . 

We will call this position the “public irrationality thesis” or “PIT.” Our claim is that PIT is contrary to empirical evidence of who believes what about climate change. 

Section 3 describes the methodology and Section 4 an interpretation of results.

From the Conclusions:

Our study results belie the conventional view that controversy over policy-relevant science is rooted in the public’s lack of scientific knowledge and its inability to engage in technical reasoning. As ordinary people learn more science and become more proficient in modes of reasoning characteristic of scientific inquiry, they do not reliably converge on assessments of climate change risks supported by scientific evidence. Instead they more form beliefs that are even more reliably characteristic of persons who hold their particular cultural worldviews. Indeed, far from a symptom of how poorly equipped ordi-nary individuals are to reach rational conclusions on the basis of complex scientific data, disputes over issues like climate change, we’ve argued, are evidence of how remarkably well equipped they are to discern what stances toward such information satisfy their expressive interests. The high degree of rationality individuals display in forming risk perceptions that express their cultural values can itself inhibit collective welfare rationality by blocking citizens from converging on the best available scientific evidence on how to secure their common interests in health, safety, and prosperity. 

Resolving controversies over climate change and like risk issues requires dispelling this tragedy of the risk-perception commons (Hardin 1968). A strategy that focuses only on improving transmission of sound scientific information, it should be clear, is highly unlikely to achieve this objective. The principal reason people disagree about climate change science is not that it has been communicated to them in forms they cannot understand. Rather, it is that positions on climate change convey values—communal concern versus individual self-reliance; prudent self-abnegation versus the heroic pursuit of reward; hu-mility versus ingenuity; harmony with nature versus mastery over it—that divide them along cultural lines. Merely amplifying or improving the clarity of information on climate change science won’t generate public consensus if risk communicators fail to take heed of the cues that determine what climate-change risk perceptions express about the cultural commitments of those who form them. 

In fact, such inattention can deepen polarization. Citizens who hold hierarchical and individualistic values discount scientific information about climate change in part because they associate the issue with antagonism to commerce and industry. That association is aggravated when a communication identi-fies carbon-emission limits as the exclusive policy remedy for climate change (Kahan in press). Individuals are prone to interpret challenges to beliefs that predominate with their cultural community as assaults on the competence of those whom they trust and look to for guidance (Kahan, Braman, Cohen, Gastil & Slovic 2010). That implication—which naturally provokes resistance—is likely to be strengthened when communicators with a recognizable cultural identity stridently accuse those who disagree with them of lacking intelligence or integrity. 

It would also be a mistake, at this point, for information communicators not to take care to avoid accentuating the cues that sustain cultural factionalization. It isn’t the case, of course, that carbon-emission controls are the only policy response to climate change risks; technologies that furnish a substi-tute for and that offset the effects of greenhouse-gas-producing energy sources can contribute, too. Many of these alternatives, such as nuclear power and geo-engineering, are likely to convey cultural resonances that affirm rather than threaten hierarchical and individualist confidence in the power of human ingenuity to overcome environmental constraints on economic production. There are also many hierarchical and individualistic people who believe in the need to take action, of one form or another, to address climate change risks, and who can be counted on to make the case for doing so in terms that appeal to rather than alienate members of the public who share their outlooks (Kahan 2010). The cultural richness of the full range of potential policy responses and available advocates are narrative resources for opening minds (Jones & McBeth 2010; Verwij et al. 2006). It would be irrational for actors committed to disseminating sound scientific information not to make use of them. 

JC comments:  There are some important insights in this piece.  The most important insight IMO is that the study shows that skepticism at the individual level is more likely among scientifically literate and numerate individuals.  Dismissing such individuals as anti-science deniers is not only inappropriate, but such practice “accentuat[es] the cues that sustain cultural factionalization.”

The anti-science denier meme is the foundation for much of communication strategy for supporters of the IPCC consensus; for the latest example, see Al Gore’s recent piece in the Rolling Stone.

Chris Mooney’s take

This article has substantial implications for the communication of climate science and risk.  Chris Mooney has a post on this at DeSmog Blog, some excerpts:

The surprise—for some out there, anyway—lay in how the ingredients of this stew mix together. For citizens as a whole, more literacy and numeracy were correlated with somewhat more, rather than somewhat less, dismissal of the risk of global warming. When you drilled down into the cultural groups, meanwhile, it turned out that among the hierarchical-individualists (aka, conservatives), the relationship between greater math and science knowledge and dismissal of climate risks was even stronger. (The opposite relationship occurred among egalitarian communitarians—aka liberals).

This is bad, bad news for anyone who thinks that better math and science education will help us solve our problems on climate change. But it’s also something else. To me, it provides a kind of uber-explanation for climate skeptic and denier behavior in the public arena, and especially on the blogs.

In my experience, climate skeptics are nothing if not confident in their ability to challenge the science of climate change–and even to competently recalculate (and scientifically and mathematically refute) various published results. It’s funny how this high-level intellectual firepower is always used in service of debunking—rather than affirming or improving—mainstream science. But the fact is, if you go to blogs like WattsUpWithThat or Climate Audit, you certainly don’t find scientific and mathematical illiterates doubting climate change. Rather, you find scientific and mathematical sophisticates itching to blow holes in each new study.

Mooney then cites several other articles that suggest a relationship among more knowledge, skepticism and conservatism. Mooney concludes with this statement:

If you are a conservative or Republican, then increased scientific literacy, increased mathematical ability, increased education, and increased self-professed knowledge about climate change are all associated with being more skeptical of the scientific consensus, and of the notion that global warming is a serious risk.

To me, there’s an interesting way to read this. It can be expressed as a familiar aphorism, which is actually a slight misquotation of Alexander Pope: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

For the planet, anyway.

JC comment:  I was struck by the title of Mooney’s piece: “Why the biggest problem with climate skeptics may be their confidence.”   Mooney gets it exactly backwards:  the reason we have climate skeptics is because of overconfidence in the IPCC conclusions.

Understanding climate skepticism at the individual level

So according to Mooney, skepticism is dangerous for the planet.  Hmmmm.  Mooney doesn’t seem to have gotten the key point of the Kahan et al. article. Climate skepticism at the individual level is often (not always) rational.  So lets help Chris Mooney and others better understand skeptics and “deniers.”

Last March, there was an interesting article published by Bill DiPuccio entitled “Six Myths About Deniers.”  DiPuccio articulates six general myths/accusations about “deniers” and debunks them:

  1. Deniers believe that the climate has not warmed
  2. Deniers are not real scientists
  3. Deniers are a tiny minority of scientists
  4. Deniers are anti-environmental shills of big oil
  5. Deniers think CO2 is irrelevant
  6. Deniers believe humans have no impact on climate

At the level of individuals, I have collected a few blog posts over the past few days where individuals explain their skepticism:

Agnostic Submitted on 2011/06/26 at 7:40 am | In reply to tempterrain.

Well tempterrain, I do not think Jim is typical. I initially started surfing blogs in order to counter a skeptical family member – a retired engineer. I firmly believed in CAGW (as presented to me by MSM and science journals I liked to read) and I was extremely concerned by it. But in my efforts to anticipate the counter-arguments I knew would be thrown at me, my confidence that my perception of the issue was correct started to wane. At first it was pretty hard to ignore the data and evidence as presented by scientist skeptics, and their objections to how the pro-AGW case had been made, but then my trust in the orthodoxy was further undermined by climategate and the shenanigans of the team. It has since been further eroded by the manner in which the debate is conducted.

I was reading avidly as argument after argument posted (on various fora) in what was a completely reasonable way was passed over generally treated with scorn and not actually refuted. At the outset I googled and googled and jumped around from forum to forum trying to rebuttals and rebuttals of rebuttals.

A very typical and patronizing position I read predominantly from the “pro” side is that skeptics don’t understand the science. This understandably put me off. I pour all over reasoned and objective analysis particularly of the pro-AGW case in order to find a reasonable explanation in support of it that I can have confidence in. I have even downloaded my own data sets and had a go at reconstructions of NH snow and ice extent and how they compared with the orthodox narrative.

I could go on, but you must consider me to be a scientifically literate convert to skepticism, as much as it grates to concede that to my family member. At least for the time being. I would be quite willing to be ‘converted’ back if the evidence was compelling – although it might take some time given my current suspicions based on the way the debate has been conducted.

From a thread at collide-a-scape

Nullius in Verba Says:  June 24th, 2011 at 6:31 am

“Is that deliberately ambiguous?”
No.
“No, not from the point of view of the field that is under attack”
This may be part of the problem. I’m not thinking of it in terms of the climate science community, or how they feel about it. I’m thinking about it in terms of the world; its economy, governance, problems and solutions. Either way, the decision has a vast impact on billions of lives.

All three working groups represent the input of climate science to the policy process. All three are seen from outside as different aspects of “climate science”. All three need to be held to the same high standards.

“So it’s fair that we get plenty of skepticism, but is is not fair that we are undermined, attacked, and cast as villains in conspiracy fantasies.”
Do you know how many times my position has been undermined, attacked, or cast as the villain in fantasies of fossil-funded conspiracy? I’ve been connected to big tobacco, Exxon, and polluters, called selfish, stupid, ignorant, insane, told I’m deliberately destroying the future of my grandchildren and the poor of Bangladesh, opposed to science, opposed to rationality, and cynically operating to maximise short-term profits for fat-cat capitalists smoking their cigars over the dead bodies of baby polar bears…

The idea of mutual scepticism without all the undermining and attacks is exactly what I understand this peace proposal to be about.

“because to first order, the work of physical climate science in informing policy is complete.”
There’s one step left – you have to prove it. Meet the challenge of community peer review from a sceptical scientific community. Show your working. Be transparent. Exemplify the highest scientific standards, and ruthlessly cut out those parts that don’t meet them.

This is a big part of the problem you’re having. Besides all the detailed science issues, there are two big things that ring alarm bells for me – the refusal to openly acknowledge errors, and not acting as if they really believe this is a planetary emergency. The thing that first led me to investigate was Phil’s “Why should I make the data available to you…” comment, which was so outrageously anti-science that I couldn’t understand why the climate science community were not up in arms about it. That led me to the Hockeystick, which did not in itself bother me that much – bad science happens – but I found the way part of the climate science community defended and dodged and evaded out of all proportion, and the way the rest stayed silent about it did. And when it turned out that much of the reason was academic empire-building – that people refused to publish data because they wanted to get more papers out of it, or to defend IPR, or out of professional loyalty – it made me wonder if they really understood/believed in the significance of this. If I spotted a planet-buster asteroid hurtling straight for Earth, I’d refuse to share the processing algorithms because they were my intellectual property?! That’s too weird!

It is ironic that the efforts to defend climate science at all costs are what have done it the most damage in the long run. Seeing any criticism as an attack, rather than a useful check, has painted climatologists into a corner from which they cannot now easily escape. In case you’re right, then I really hope you’ll take the steps necessary to turn things around and restore confidence, as harsh as they may seem.

And finally this post from Agnostic that argues that the political stratification of skepticism is a U.S. phenomena and not what is seen in Europe:

Agnostic Submitted on 2011/06/26 at 4:17 am | In reply to Jim D.

I think it ought to be made more explicit that this political polarity wrt climate change is a predominantly US phenomenon. In my experience with the UK, Australia, and Switzerland, skepticism or alarmism on the issue tends to ignore political boundaries. While the AGW issue appears to lend itself to a US concept of left-wing politics, namely that of government regulation of emissions versus individual liberty, it is not framed in that way in the UK (IMO).

In Australia the current government is what you would call a left-leaning party, and it’s position on the debate is governed by political expedience rather than a given ideology on the matter. As it did not win an overall majority it had to cut deals with some independents whose position on the debate is of the ‘alarmist’ kind. Generally I have personally found no correlation with the political position of friends and family with a specific view on climate change.

Similarly in the UK. In fact, you may recall Graham Stringer MPs remarks regarding the Muir Russell enquiry and the climategate issue. He is actually labour (our version of the democrats), and i can think of a number of other political lefty’s taking skeptical positions.

In Switzerland, which has a political system that I doubt many in the US would fathom, could perhaps be described as ‘conservative socialist.’ That is to say, their disposition shows strong characteristics of both mainstream US political ideologies. They tend to be extremely conservative about many issues, yet very socially and (especially) environmentally conscious, that has everything to do with their history and cultural mind set. In fact you could possibly say they are the cultural manifestation of the ‘precautionary principle’. A long history of guarding against very real existential threats, they are both very conservative, and also strongly inclined to accept the possibility of CAGW and the need to take action.

I really wish our friends in the US could distinguish between their political tribes and the scientific debate. Arguing with my friends in the US about climate change is often met with their own observation that since the republican or democrat viewpoint is wrong on every single issue, and that since the other ‘side’ has appropriated a position on the debate, it must therefore be wrong.

I meet no such resistance elsewhere when discussing the issues and the science.

394 responses to “Mooney on Kahan on Skeptics

  1. Three cheers for the English major who just discovered that acquiring more familiarity with the science means becoming less gullible about climate change than English majors.

    • The problem with skeptics may possibly be their confidence (personally, I think it a strong competitive advantage), but the problem with agw believers is definitely their arrogance. Perhaps when they discover the difference between the two we can have a dicussion.

  2. What I found most interesting was that the study noted that the relationship they found between scientific literacy/numeracy and doubt (or lack thereof) about AGW was very slight, and notably less significant than the relationship they found between cultural values and doubt (or lack thereof) about AGW.

    It would be nice to have some data on whether or not “Agnostic’s” observations about left/right political orientation (as it exists in the U.S.) being less relevant in other countries stands up to scrutiny.

    For example, his observation that the “left-leaning” party’s position is governed by political expediency seems to me to be a rather meaningless observation. What political party’s position is not government by political expediency?

    • er…. “governed by political expediency….”

      • Joshua, we had a “hung” Parliment after the last election, neither side had the numbers to govern. The Labour Party (our Left) needed an agreement with the Greens to govern. To get this they agreed to things that they flatly denied they were going to do before the election.

        Political expediency is sometimes known as dancing with the Devil. :)

  3. With all due respect, the biggest problem with AGW promoters is their sense of confidence.

    This paper documents experimental data that were ignored on a minor detail – Earth Heat Source:

    “Neutron Repulsion”, The APEIRON Journal, in press, 19 pages (2011)

    http://arxiv.org/pdf/1102.1499v1

    • Unfortunately the unvarnished fact that science has revealed about Earth’s climate and our future are not at all reassuring to the inflated egos of scientists, politicians, and mankind in general.

      The Sun’s violently unstable neutron core gave birth to the Solar System five billion (5 Gyr) ago, including all of the material that comprises us and planet Earth.

      Continued emissions from the solar core now bathes us with photons, particles and fields (sunlight, heat and energy) that sustains us as intelligent, living creatures.

      Despite all of his knowledge and illusion of power and self-importance, mankind appears to be totally dependent on the forces of Nature.

      That is the unpalatable truth that I hope to be able to communicate in the summary of my research career, “A Journey to the Core of the Sun.”

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel

  4. I didn’t see anywhere in these excellent articles that many sceptics would likely have started out on the other side of the fence and therefore are aware of both sides of the argument.

    This gives an insight into climate processes that is lacking if you fervently argue the case as a believer in CAGW and have never known any other viewpoint.

    tonyb

  5. This from Mooney struck me as interesting:

    It’s funny how this high-level intellectual firepower is always used in service of debunking—rather than affirming or improving—mainstream science.

    The implication being that only affirmation is improvement?

    • I guess Mooney is not a big fan of falsification, or even testing. No surprise there, since CAGW is untestable and apparently unfalsifiable.

    • That really was the money quote for me as well. It really highlights the total lack of awareness many of the CAGW proponents have of the crucial role of falsification in scientific advancement. Chris Mooney doesn’t even suspect the depth of his own ignorance revealed in that comment.

    • My guess would be that his point is that someone like McIntyre seems only interested in using his skills to question studies that support theories that climate change is happening and anthropogenic.

      Steven Mosher offers the explanation (complete with the usage of all caps to drive home his point) that McIntyre is too busy reviewing peer reviewed publications to spend his time “auditing” anything other than pro-AGW, peer-reviewed publications. I find that hard to believe, given the amount of time he spends on things like examining IPCC reports for potential conflict of interest. I also think that it is inconsistent for “skeptical un-convinced/deniers” to complain that their work is rejected on the basis of a lack of peer-review and then turn around and say that the only work important enough to be audited is peer-reviewed work (another point of Steven Mosher’s emphasized with all caps).

      • “My guess would be that his point is that someone like McIntyre seems only interested in using his skills to question studies that support theories that climate change is happening and anthropogenic”.

        If so, then its a point not worth making. Indeed, I think that very point is made up front by McIntyre calling his blog “Climate Audit”. The point of an audit is to check whether all is kosher with the accounts (or in this case, the “settled science”).

        In anycase, I don’t think that was his point. I think he is just totally ignorant of the role of falsification in science, as as entirely understandable in a humanities graduate.

      • Joshua,

        Nit-picking may be hard work. And it’s probably not rewarding unless some nits can be inflated.

      • “that McIntyre is too busy reviewing peer reviewed publications to spend his time “auditing” anything other than pro-AGW, peer-reviewed publications”

        Huh. Let me recap my argument.
        1.McIntyre has become an expert in one field. Paleo recon. He was a reviewer on Ar4. He is published in the field.
        2. Nearly all of the papers in that field are non skeptical.
        3. He wisely chooses to spend his time on the stuff he is expert at.
        4. On occasion he has audited “skeptical” papers in that area. You missed that.

        If you would like to derail this conversation with an argument that makes no sense ( McIntyre should work outside his area of expertise) Then please go ahead and confirm your stupidity.

        What papers would you suggest that he audit? What grand skeptical treatise should he waste his time on? There are none. There’s junk that Tamino handles very nicely, there junk that gavin and others handle very nicely. What junk would you have him waste his time on? Since He believes that the policy makers should listen to the peer reviewed science, what junk should he waste his time on?

      • “If you would like to derail this conversation with an argument that makes no sense ( McIntyre should work outside his area of expertise) Then please go ahead and confirm your stupidity.”
        That confirms your cleverness! Nice one!

      • Sorry Steve, but when you don’t use all caps, the strength of your argument is weakened.

        Could you reference your point 4?

        You seem to have dropped the – he doesn’t have enough time to focus on non-peer reviewed, “consensus” studies – plank of your argument. Why would that be? Could it be because he obviously expends a great deal of his time and energy focused on issues that are not limited to peer-reviewed, “consensus”-supporting work – such as whether IPCC reports reflect a conflict of interests? Apparently, he doesn’t agree with your assessment that his “auditing” skills are so limited in their usefulness.

        Additionally, my understanding is that his skills are as a statistician. I am under the impression that there is a wide variety of work being done that is related to the debate and that contains statistical analysis – but that doesn’t focus specifically on paleo-reconstructions. Are you saying that his skills as a statistician can only be applied when auditing paleo-reconstructions? I guess maybe someone should inform his employers that hired him to do work other than analysis of paleo-reconstructions that he was stealing money from them?

        what junk should he waste his time on?

        Are you really saying that all the work being done that hasn’t been peer-reviewed and “consensus”-supporting is “junk?” Have you told Anthony Watts that you are of that opinion?

        Here’s the point, Steven. Whether you like it or not, the impression is out there that McIntyre is singularly focused in trying to disprove the work of “consensus” scientists, and that he is influenced by motivations other than a simple desire to “audit” science. Does he have a responsibility to address any lunatic ideas that people have about his motivations? No. But he is a key player and his credibility is important. It would be relatively simple for him to take some steps to prove his objectivity and thereby strengthen his credibility. Unless the work of anti-“consensus” combatants is uniformly perfect, he could point out statistical problems in some of their work. In doing so, he could earn trust and in establishing greater trust he could create space for reaching common ground. As it stands, his interest seems primarily to undermine the trust that anyone might have in any of the science that supports AGW. In the end, that will only re-inforce the tribal dynamic that is already an obstacle to dialogue. And in the end, the tribal warfare only retards progress.

        Finally – McIntyre is only one example. There are other people who seem only interested in using their intellectual firepower towards the goal of “debunking.” Does debunking strengthen the science? Sure. But when the focus is singularly on debunking, at some point it begins to seem that the end goal is actually to debunk rather than to analyze the science. This is particularly true when that same intellectual firepower is selectively down-graded to promote clearly “junk” science that supports an anti-“consensus” viewpoint. Is Anthony Watts stupid? No. Then why does he run a post about seal sightings in New England such a manner to suggest that it disproves widespread patterns of changes in animal behavior related to climate change?

      • 40 Shades of Green

        Some great business advice:

        Good News is No News. That is what you should be doing anyway.

        No News is Bad News. You are doing something wrong and don’t know.

        Bad news is Good News. You have found a problem and can fix it.

        The Bad News Steve McIntyre brings to the likes of Michael Mann should be regarded by Mann as good news.

        40 Shades

      • The original question stands: is Mooney seriously asserting that finding issues is not improving the science?

      • Billy Ruff'n

        Joshua,
        Where does the burden of proof lie? With those who are “prosecuting” a case that we must proceed at once with an enormously expensive restructuring of the global energy system on their suspicion that a crime is being committed against generations yet unborn, or does it lie with those who are “defending” the status quo (or perhaps only saying, “Hold on a minute, are you sure you’re right?”)

        Try thinking of McIntyre a pro-bono public defender who’s focus is on making the prosecutor prove his case beyond reasonable doubt before mankind is sentenced to a significant permanent reduction in it’s wealth and material standard of living. Without him and other highly talented individuals of similar persuasion the common man would be without adequate representation vs the governments of the world who seem willing to finance only one side of the argument.

      • Billy –

        My point is that in the end, the public would be better served, at least to some degree, proportionate to the the level of trust in all the major players. It would be relatively simple for McIntyre to help provide assurance of his credibility. That would diminish the destructive power of the tribalism.

        Arguably, he serves a useful role in auditing “consensus” work (if you accept the veracity of his analysis). To the extent that is easy to argue that he is partisan, he work in contrast to his putative goal.

      • sorry – I meant to type “…..assurance of his objectivity….”

        Gotta learn to preview my posts.

    • It’s funny how this high-level intellectual firepower is always used in service of debunking—rather than affirming or improving—mainstream science.

      Certainly implies there is a lack of intellectual “firepower” on the pro-AGW side ;-) With hundreds of climate scientists working full-time to affirm and improve mainstream science… Perhaps it is a lack of confidence that keeps the AGW believers from debating.

    • Near as I can tell, Chris Mooney is not a scientist and has very little scientific background. See the wiki.

      How he got acclaim as a science writer I don’t know.

      Look at who he writes for, look at the titles of what he writes, he is a political hack. Even here, it’s REPUBLICANS he discusses, because he cannot consider that there are Democrats that are skeptical.

  6. I think the greatest denier-creaters are the taminos and gavins and RC-s and skepticalsciences and climateprogresses of this world… And the thing I don’t understand is that they are extraordinarily smart people but do not realize what harm their behavior does to the cause they think that they are trying to advance. Here is my story (I wrote that on January 10, 2008 to the commentary of the December 19, 2007 article by David Whitehouse in The New Statesman “Has global warming stopped?” (the article that, if some of you remember, attracted an incredible more that 1200 comments that went until november 2008 when they were finally closed of by the magazine, the largest and longest commentary to an article that I have ever seen). I do not consider myself a denier (although I tend to lean more towards a skeptical side), I still do not know where we’ll end up and I’m afraid that since 2008 I have not been able to get any further to the “truth”.

    So this is from January 2008 (the few unfamiliar names are just participants in the discussion back then) I’m not sure that I’d stand by everything that I said back then, but as it was my very first comment on the climate issue after lurking around and reading stuff for a really long time, it gives an accurate picture of the birth of at least one skeptic:

    “As to the subject and being a computer scientist, not a climatologist – I do not hold any strong beliefs, have no vested interests. I did like Lomborg’s pragmatic approach (in both of his books), but I never took anything at face value from him either. I was waiting to see a real scientific debate on his views but what I saw was a fervent religious panic attack and ad hominem insults. So, I now think the nature of debate about AGW is really a terrible disgrace to science. And this is a shame. Before really getting into the subject I never doubted AGW or consensus about the science. I was convinced that the deniers are conspiracy theorists or people like creationists, intelligent designers or astrologers. Some time ago even The Skeptical Inquierer carried a long article attacking the AGW denialists! But after this article I really did a lot of surfing on the subject and the picture that opened was really horrible. Environmentalists and eco-folk who think of themselves and present themselves as soft and loving people with soft values seem to be one of the most aggressive and intolerant bunch I’ve ever encountered. Their behavior very much reminds me of the passion of faith of a religious sect or new agers who actively push away any evidence that might contradict their views. There seems to be no other subject in science where there would be so much ad hominem attacks, confirmation bias, scientific censorship or faith involved. A true scientist should be happy not only when he/she himself/herself or even someone else could confirm his/her findings, but even if they would be falsified. It should be in very nature of science! The closed and biased debate, demonisation of “denialists” (Lomborg, who is not even a “denialist”, was compared to Hitler by the chief of IPCC, not even to speak about he debacle that followed his first book!), confirmation bias, ad hominem attacks… And, standing in the middle, being interested in truth, it’s bad, very bad. And watching the debate, the most shocking revelation I made was that the supporters of AGW are much much more in violation of those principles of honesty of science than the opposing camp, though they are pretty much entrenched as well. Just read the guy called Tamino, especially on his own site, it’s full of arrogance, abuse, bullying and censorship towards anyone who even slightly disagrees with his position (he seems to be so much wiser than the people at the Met Office). Nelson, who does not seem to have any real understanding of the subject himself, but, like Tamino, seems to hold strong beliefs, has taken him as his guru without ever questioning anything. Why is that? Because he likes the outcome, not the science in the process. It confirms his belief!

    So, what I’ve come to realise by now is:

    a) any unbiased research on the internet shows that there really is no such thing a consensus on this matter, the debate is rather inceasing than deceasing and maybe the proponents of this consensus-assertion should be called “debate denialists”?!

    b) Met Office’s data clearly gives enough basis for Dr. Whitehouse to ask the question (after all, he only raised a question, I remind you, for god’s sake!). And what is most intriguing is that if this all would turn out to be true, there’s going to be something that might be verifiable with facts on the ground really soon, in a few years. And IF the trend will continue, let’s say for another 3 or 4 years, it’s going to be interesting how the AGW camp would be able to stop the frenzie and get out of the trenches. How the politics can be reversed?

    and so therefore

    c) (partly to Mr. Guernier) As even IPCC itself is saying that the whole business with CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is a really slow moving thing, that even if we could cut the emissons to zero today the results would not be seen before a some decades, why not wait for a few years for dust to settle on this temperature leveling and the reasons behind it. As said – it might be clear in a few years! And please – I’ve done my homework and I do not buy the tipping point argument in this context.

    But most importantly – science should be honest and based on scientific method. It’s the best we have!”

    • Sven

      Are you aware that the debate is still going on today, although posts have become more sporadic and are not as focused? Not surprising after some 14000 comments I believe.

      You can find it here;
      http://harmlesssky.org/

      Tonyb

      • Wow, no I did not know that. I just remember that it was closed by the magazine at some point in November and someone created a site where most of the guys moved over and I participated for a while, but I never realized that it would still be going on? So 3,5 years?! And they say it’s settled… One of the passionate debaters, I remember, was the proud-of-his-act (Lomborg’s face)pie-man who is now starting to open his eyes to the other side – Mark Lynas… But reading Judy’s references I just remembered that I wrote my first comment there and it was intersting for myself to go and see where I was back then…

      • Oh my god, it’s great to see the same guys from back then (like Brute for example) still being live and kicking on the same thread. Unbelievable! Thanks for the hint!

    • “And the thing I don’t understand is that they are extraordinarily smart people but do not realize what harm their behavior does to the cause they think that they are trying to advance.”

      They weren’t doing harm to their cause. Do you understand how close they came to getting what they wanted? Copenhagen was an unmitigated failure, but only because of a confluence of events: 1. Climategate rearing its ugly head about a month earlier; 2. the economy seriously tanking; 3. the lack of substantial warming extending too long to ignore; 4. even glaciergate making its first appearances on the internet; 5 and the Russians and Chinese saying nyet (and whatever Chinese say for no) to mass economic suicide..

      It was this perfect skeptical storm that scared the bejesus out of the progressive politicians and derailed their central planning nirvana in Copenhagen.

      The science is settled, hiding the decline, scare tactics, “creative” statistical graphs, magic pine trees, Al “Riefenstahl” Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, all were working. Billions, perhaps trillions were diverted to green research and green energy boondoggles, every western government was headed by pro-CAGW progressives…how were they hurting their cause?

      And the debate is far from over. The next election will likely tell the tale. As nasty as the debate has been, it is only going to get worse. There is just too much at stake, for both sides. Those who keep trying to convert this fight over the future of the economy into some genteel debate about radiative physics are suffering from severe memory loss.

      • The problem with Copenhagen (and every meeting since) is that it is about money, not climate or ecology. Edenhoffer made it very clear. This further disproves the canard to me – does anyone honestly think that if the delegates really, truly believed AGW was a problem that money would torpedo the affair? Nope. Nothing would be too expensive if the fate of the world really hung in the balance. Instead they dither while their ‘tipping points’ are approached, lunching on lobster bisque and finger sandwiches, hoping against hope that the west can be extorted to an acceptible level. The money aspects of AGW were the tell for me and continue to be so.

      • I fear GaryM may be right. The CAGW ‘debate’ may well intensify.
        As I tried to explain to a lay scientific friend a few years ago, “..there are just too many vested interests…” (I meant, in an all-out defence of the climate orthodoxy). She agreed, assuming I meant the vested interests of big oil and the like.
        There is a whole generation of establishment climatologists in universities and officialdom committed to defending the CAGW hypothesis. Their careers and their pride depend on it. It may be naive to expect the polarisation to end before that generation has left the scene.
        There will be a few important defectors, such as our esteemed hostess on this blog, but few of her erstwhile establishment colleagues will take the risk, no matter what inner doubts they may harbour. Bully to her!

      • GaryM, if you define their cause like that then I guess you are right. I was just naive enough to think that the cause of these sites was to “spread the word”, to win people over to their (AGW) camp… But I do not think that their gains that you describe are a result of Realclimate-like activities.

    • David Bailey

      Sven,

      Like you, I am an outsider observing the climate change debate, and like you, I just assumed that if the scientists engaged in climatology – to me, a rather boring science (sorry Judith!) said there was a problem, then it was so.

      It sounds as though you and I have been through something of the same ‘journey’ – you just can’t do science, if every time someone finds a serious technical mistake, the other side say, “well never mind that detail, there is lots of other evidence pointing in the same direction!”. I have seen variants of that excuse so many times – it is why am damn nearly certain that AGW science is flaky!

  7. Unfortunately Kahan et al’s analysis suffers from the usual pro-AGW bias, such that skepticism is a problem to be solved. More education will not do it so you have to speak to the skeptics culture. Skeptics are rational but their culture is irrational, and that sort of stuff. That much is just wrong.

    The part about the skeptic’s culture being irrational aside, I like their basic point that the climate debate is part of a deeper debate between two general cultural groups. That is, the debate is fundamentally ideological, not scientific. Zeitgeist’s at war. Both sides understand the science, equally well in fact (but the science is ambiguous at best, though they do not say this of course). Mooney’s “a little knowledge” misunderstands their findings completely.

    I like to think it is simply a debate between those who accept environmentalism versus those who do not. Perhaps it is even deeper than that but it is certainly that deep. AGW is just a pawn in the game, as was acid rain and stratospheric ozone, or underground storage tanks for that matter. The crucial point however is that both groups cannot be right. The debate is real. That Kaplan et al do not say.

    • Both sides understand the science, equally well in fact (but the science is ambiguous at best, though they do not say this of course).

      And

      The debate is real. That Kaplan et al do not say.

      Do not say or dare not say?

    • randomengineer

      I still think that the entire thing boils down to your view of the role of government. The left thinks government is the best way to solve all problems. In the US the right as per Reagan says government IS the problem.

      In the climate debate note that in the US the left’s solutions are based 100% on government imposition — whether it’s taxes, punitive price manipulation (i.e. a tax to $8 for gas), forced cap and trade, whatever, it’s pure top down approach where the government is dictating to the subjects. The right tends to view such impostion poorly, with the core belief starting from the notion that we are citizens and not subjects. Note that EU countries, all of which were monarchies for most of their existence, seem to see little improper with the notion of being a subject.

      This is what the US revolution was all about!

      • tempterrain

        The notion of being a subject is viewed with equal distaste in France as in the USA. Although having said that, many Americans seem to be just as fawning to British royalty as the Brits themselves – even when they may consider themselves to be ardent Republicans back home. What’s that all about?

        The notion of minimum government is related to Anarchism ( Google Proudhon for starters if you’re interested) and historically was essentially a philosophy of the left. The revolutionary leaders in the USA, motivated by the ideology of the American Enlightenment and concepts of liberalism, democracy, republicanism, and religious tolerance, would themselves have been considered dangerous radicals at the time and no doubt would have been hung from a very high gallows had they been unsuccessful in their revolution.

        True, the present day US tea party and wider libertarian movement in America is considered to be of the right. In some ways extreme libertarianism can be described as a form of right wing Anarchism and is quite a modern phenomenon and a reaction to the development of the modern liberal democratic state. The original tea party protesters were actually protesting that government should be bigger, not smaller, and should be expanded to include the representatives of the colonialists rather than exclude them.

      • live free or die

        To keep it short because it is getting off topic – but the original tea partiers were for smaller scope of government control. The ‘no taxataion without representation’ was a part of a belief that if their interests were represented, the unreasonable taxation and other measures would not have occurred. They may have been right or wrong on that, but they were definitely for smaller scope of government imposition.

    • Exactly. Kahan refers to “the views of climate change risk held among more knowledgeable, dispassionate experts,” meaning, it appears, “the team,” who are demonstrably not dispassionate. He allows no room for genuine scientific doubt, presumably being unaware that the sceptics include many people with highly relevant qualifications. His discussion is from a “the science is settled, why don’t people accept it?” perspective.

    • Yes, this is the latest “skeptics have irreversible brain damage” meme that is making the rounds. Mooney has been screaming this forever, and apparently being a Republican is prima facie evidence of brain damage.

      I wonder what Mooney will think of his own writing when he grows up? He makes some interesting points, but it is counter balanced by his inability to see and understand an alternate point of view. He strikes me as an immature individual who considers screaming louder and longer as evidence of being right.

      Earth to Mooney: Two sides of an argument can both be rational.

      This argument is not going to be settled until a lot more data is gathered and analyzed in the coming decades. And both sides could be wrong.

      You want to make in-roads with the opposition? Try giving them a little respect.

    • David

      I think it is interesting that we seem to have a subtle rephrasing of the motto of the venerable Royal Society ‘Nobody’s word is final’ which has become ‘Nobody’s word is final unless they’re a climate scientist.’

      I suppose it might be a case of noble cause corruption in the minds of those who think we know everything about the climate and no one should be allowed to debate the pronuncements handed down from on high as the problem is so urgent. Accordingly as the debate is over we must put into place the precautionary principle immediately.

      All the sceptics I know are very well informed. However there is a distinctly separate category of ‘deniers’ (lower case and non pejorative) They tend to dislike authority, taxes, regulation and are not necessarily aware of the science, they just know that ‘Agw is a scam’

      I think we all tend to get lumped together, although in truth irrational deniers irritate me as much as fervent warmists.

      tonyb

      • Tony, I see it as concentric circles of progressively lesser knowledge making the same point. People who know little saying it is not warming are not referring to the UAH versus HadCru debate. They are saying AGW is false, and I agree. These are rhetorical distinctions in the political language, not scientific ones.

    • David Bailey

      “I like to think it is simply a debate between those who accept environmentalism versus those who do not.”

      Environmentalists used to concern themselves with real, obvious problems. The destruction of the rain forests, problems with pesticides, over-consumption of resources, nuclear weapons proliferation. Somehow they have been tricked into leaving those urgent issues, to obsess over non-problems.

      • In the 1970s environmentalism became a political machine, generating the basis for new laws and regulations for EPA. In the 80’s Jones and Wigley came up with the surface statistical model showing global warming, while Hansen did the climate model showing catastrophic future warming. The response was rapid with the IPCC in 1988, USGCRP in 1990 and UNFCCC in 1992.

      • AGW was too late for the 1990 CAA amendments, the last big green law, except they put causing climate change in the definition of pollutant, as the Supreme Court recently noted.

  8. I majored in biology in the early 1990s, studied evolution, and spent the late ’90s in graduate school. I am skeptical of the wild claims of global climate apocalypse BECAUSE I have a science background. I am skeptical because I learned to be skeptical of every world and every punctuation mark when reading scientific papers.

    I haven’t studied climate science, but I have no reason to believe that much of it is perfectly solid work. I have no reason to doubt that CO2 can affect surface temperatures. I AM skeptical that the climate science community knows everything necessary to make predictions about future climate. And I am exceedingly skeptical of the reliability of GCMs.

    The fact that I find myself standing with a rat-bag of right-wing kooks is not my problem. I”m in favor of gay marriage and regulating the hell out of Wall Street. I’m a liberal, but that doesn’t require me to follow liberals when they jump out windows. I don’t deny the science – I want better science. I want what Steve McIntyre has called for – which is science done properly, like I was taught in Science 101. Show your work, allow your claims to be tested.

  9. “Rather, you find scientific and mathematical sophisticates itching to blow holes in each new study.”

    Mooney’s problem is not that us sophisticates attempt to blow holes in each new study, its that we succeed!

    He yearns for dumber critics. We year for less dumb AGW advocates.

  10. simon abingdon

    JC comment: I was struck by the title of Mooney’s piece: “Why the biggest problem with climate skeptics may be their confidence.”

    Bit like Rafael Nadal. (Hard luck on those with real problems).

  11. I find it interesting that psychologists, or at least people writing about human psychology, feel confident enough about climate science that they can claim skeptics are wrong. That is especially strange seeing as they also claim many skeptics are better versed in that science than they. It seems to me that the confidence problem rests with the psychologists not knowing enough about climate science to understand how little they actually understand.

    Hmm… Wasn’t there a blog about that recently?

    • GaryW,

      Hey, they had to write a paper. Careers depend on it. Might as well start from the scientific consensus of ‘mankind is responsible for everything that is wrong’

  12. which is characterized by citizens’ failure to converge on the best available scientific evidence on how to promote their common welfare

    The ‘best available’ scientific evidence has proven itself repeatedly to be a poor tool for achieving ‘common welfare’.

    • I’d suggest that it’s a bit presumptious to think that science could determine the optimum level of “common welfare”.

  13. Chris Mooney’s take
    “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

    That does fit in with the consensus scientists who say
    “The science is settled.”

    They have a little knowledge and believe science is settled.

    That throws every thing they say into doubt.

    When they acknowledge they don’t really know everything and are willing to discuss it with me and other skeptics, then we can make progress.

  14. Willis Eschenbach

    Well, I suppose that it is a step forward for Mooney to say:

    But the fact is, if you go to blogs like WattsUpWithThat or Climate Audit, you certainly don’t find scientific and mathematical illiterates doubting climate change. Rather, you find scientific and mathematical sophisticates itching to blow holes in each new study.

    And not only that, we do blow holes in them at a rate of knots, which must irk him immensely. It’s nice to be called a “scientific and mathematical sophisticate”, though, makes me want to put on a smoking jacket with leather elbow patches.

    The part I find hilarious is that Mooney thinks blowing bogus studies out of the water is somehow not a part of advancing science:

    It’s funny how this high-level intellectual firepower is always used in service of debunking—rather than affirming or improving—mainstream science.

    All that shows is that Mooney is clueless about what science actually consists of. Outing bad studies is how science progresses. Nothing can be proven in science, only falsified. Part of that is the falsification of erroneous or incorrect studies. This is just as important as original research, and arguably more important. The tree of science must constantly be pruned of the bad leaves to stay strong. So what he (incorrectly) terms “debunking” is most definitely “improving mainstream science”. How does Mooney think science gets improved, through bad studies that make it through pal-review?

    In addition, Mooney is 100% wrong that those of us on the skeptical side are not also doing original work in the field of climate science. In addition to taking the odd morning to do what the peer-reviewers should have done, Steve McIntyre, Ryan Maue, Ross McKitrick, Roy Spencer, Richard Lindzen, Anthony Watts, John Christie, and even I in my own humble fashion have added to the store of ideas, concepts, and understandings of science, both inside and out of the peer-reviewed literature.

    Also, many advances come up in the course of trying to understand where another scientist went wrong. The occurrence of Chladni patterns in the Steig Antarctica study is a good example, and would have been a better example had the peer-review board not been stacked against the truth coming out. See Climate Audit for the gory details.

    So Mooney’s claim, that somehow I am not using my abilities in the service of science, is an insulting crock of unscientific nonsense.

    No surprise there, of course.

    w.

    • Boy – now there’s a shock. Willis rights a comment largely about himself and his assurance of his superiority.

      Never seen that before.

      • superiority? I don’t see him saying that. But stay on topic.
        Did ODonnell advance the science? or do you disagree with Steig?
        Huh? simple question Josh, who is correct Mooney or Steig?

      • This my take. O’Donnell advanced the science of something he never would have looked at in a billion years if not for Steig’s advancement of the science. Where is O’Donnell now; where is Steig now? I’ll betcha at least one is advancing science.

        Maybe both, which would be great, but color me skeptical.

      • Ryan is working. I am not saying that Steig has not advanced the science. I’m not saying that he doesnt continue on this path. I am simply saying that Mooney is wrong. So now you get to answer the question; Who is right? Steig or Mooney. Mooney says that guys like Odonnel dont advance the science. Steig ( the scientist) says that Odonnell did.
        Who you gunna believe, Steig or the English major.

        You won’t answer that question.

      • I think that healthy skepticism advances the science, as a general rule. “Healthy,” however, can be a subjective evaluation. Not familiar enough with the specifics you’re asking about to comment. I’ll check out Climate Audit on the topic.

        But here’s a more serious comment on point. I think it’s ridiculous for “skeptical convinced/believers” to characterize “skeptical un-convinced/deniers” as necessarily basing their doubts on scientific illteracy. I such such arguments as a perfect example of tribalism.

        That said, I see the exact same behavior on the other side of the fence – when “skeptical un-convinced/deniers” characterize “skeptical convinced/believers” as seeking a “root and branch transformation” agenda, and other similar nonsense.

        That isn’t offered as a justification – just that I am not surprised at this point by the juvenile behavior that is ubiquitous on both sides of this issue.

        In looking at the more technical arguments about the statistical processes on blogs such as Nick Stokes’, I see what seems to me to be high-level experts who disagree and who make viable arguments in support of their opinions. I also see tribal behavior on both sides that lead people to dismiss expert opinions that are in disagreement. That’s about the best I can do. What I know is that the chances are that “cultural” influences shape their respective opinions – and that, to me, is the take-home message of the research that is the subject of this post.

      • Joshua –
        I think it’s ridiculous for “skeptical convinced/believers” to characterize “skeptical un-convinced/deniers”

        A small problem here. You’ve apparently begun to use self-defined terminology which is not what most of the rest of us are using. If you want to be understood, you might want to conform the the common terminology.

        What you do depends on whether you value communication with the natives over miscommunication with the natives. Your choice. :-)

      • I’m trying to use accurate language.

        I’ve shifted from “skeptic/denier” and “convinced believer” because I feel that the term skeptic applies to most of the debaters on both sides of the aisle.

        I balance “denier” (someone who is closed to evaluating evidence that climate change is happening and/or is anthropogenic) and “believer” (someone whose opinion is founded on belief rather than on scientific analysis and probabilities). Despite the protestations otherwise, I think that there are not a few people who fit those descriptions on their respective sides in the debate.

        I balance “skeptical convinced” with “skeptical un-convinced.” For example, someone who thinks that anthropogenic climate change is 90% probable would be a “skeptic” who is “convinced,” IMO.

        BTW – I think that the notion that the term “denier” has the same connotation as a holocaust denier may be true for a tiny percentage of “skeptical convinced/believers,” but for the vast majority in that category, there is no such connotation. I find the “outrage” over that term to be pretty amusing, given that many of the “outraged” are the very same people who rant about how much they hate “political correctness.” People can identify with whichever side of that slash line they choose – and I do believe that there are “deniers” out there.

        I think it is inaccurate to reserve the term “skeptic” for people only on one side of the debate.

        I hope that my terminology is fairly self-explanatory. David says he can’t understand anything I write anyway – so there’s no loss there.

      • I’m trying to use accurate language.

        Doesn’t matter what you’re “trying ” to do – it doesn’t fit common usage. The word “skeptic” has had specific meaning for at leat 2500 years – changing it to suit your particular bias is an interesting bit of arrogance.

      • That’s pretty funny. You want the word “skeptic” to mean, specifically, people who doubt theories about AGW. Is that the “specific meaning for at least 2500 years” that you’re referring to?

        Someone who thinks that AGW is 90% probable is skeptical about theories of AGW – in the sense of “having doubts or reservations.”

        Anyway, now you know what I mean by it, so you have no excuse. I assume that many others can also figure out what I mean. If they can’t, I’ll survive. I’m not presuming to determine how you should or shouldn’t use the term skeptic. Don’t you think it’s a bit arrogant for you to presume to tell me how to use it and then call me arrogant?

        I’m a descriptive grammar guy, Jim, not a prescriptive grammar guy. I view language as ever growing and changing. I take liberties with usage. If you feel such a need to huddle under the thumb of (what you determine to be) linguistic authority – you’re perfectly welcome to do so.

      • That’s pretty funny. You want the word “skeptic” to mean, specifically, people who doubt theories about AGW. Is that the “specific meaning for at least 2500 years” that you’re referring to?

        What’s funny, Josh, is that, like Robert, you lack what at one time was common knowledge. Says something about the educational system.

        “Skeptic” comes from the Greek and was in use at least 2500 years ago – had nothing to do with AGW. It has had specific meaning wrt science. And it has had specific meaning wrt AGW for the last 20 years, although it still refers to other branches of science as well.

        And now you want to unilaterally change the meaning to suit yourself? As I said – an interesting bit of arrogance.

        Don’t you think it’s a bit arrogant for you to presume to tell me how to use it and then call me arrogant?

        But I didn’t tell you how to use it. I don’t do that. I pointed out that your unilateral redefinition was not common usage. Nothing more. You are the one who once again provided evidence that liberal/progressive thought processes apparently confer an inability to read. I suppose that might be a reason for the terminology change – so you can then accuse others (skeptics) of not being able to read when they stumble over your unique terminology. ;-)

        I’ll repeat –
        What you do depends on whether you value communication with the natives over miscommunication with the natives. Your choice.

      • Who is right? Steig or Mooney. Mooney says that guys like Odonnell dont advance the science. Steig ( the scientist) says that Odonnell did.
        Who you gunna believe, Steig or the English major.

        You won’t answer that question.

      • andrew adams

        Mooney says that guys like Odonnell dont advance the science.

        Mooney doesn’t say that.

      • Joshua,
        Whatever you are, ‘skeptical’ is not part of it.

      • Did you even read what Willis wrote?

  15. Dr. Curry
    AGW warmist, CC-climate catastrophist , sceptic, denialist etc. they are just labels which do not help advancement of knowledge (or science if you wish).
    Is the reality somewhere in between ?
    Since I do not think that the global temperature is relevant, I only consider the CET because it refers to a small climatically relatively uniform region.
    I have produced two different correlation based on my own data relating to the well known physical processes, considered to be climatically totally independent, and one based on the N Atlantic atmospheric pressure oscillation (also considered to be a cause rather than the consequence), and all three show exactly the same result which is:
    up to about 1990/5 all of the CET changes could be attributed to the natural causes (all effective in the region), but all three (as far as I understand them from the relevant data) fail to explain sudden rise from ~1990/5 onwards.
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/1990+.htm

  16. David L. Hagen

    Kahn et al. opine that

    they do not reliably converge on assessments of climate change risks supported by scientific evidence.

    They themselves appear to be on one limb of the political dichotomy they abhor. What if they actually took the scientific method and applied it to the IPCC’s “science” and compared that to skeptic’s science. They might just come up with applying the scientific method rather than evidencing gullibility.

    What then if Kahn et al. applied their method to themselves? The results might be revolutionary.

    Chris Mooney claims that: ““A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
    For the planet, anyway.”
    Mooney’s “little knowledge” appears likely to be “a dangerous thing” for the developing world poor who would suffer most from the application of his “we must control climate” beliefs.

  17. “That led me to the Hockeystick, which did not in itself bother me that much – bad science happens – but I found the way part of the climate science community defended and dodged and evaded out of all proportion, and the way the rest stayed silent about it did.”

    That sums up most of the debate. Tamino tried to explain and justify PCA on non-stationary time series only to be challenged by the originator of the method. Steig et. al. suffered from the same over confidence in “creative” methods. The new east coast sea level paper appears to be overly creative. It is hard to challenge good science.

  18. I would ask the question “Does it matter?”. Politically, the chance of any nation actually reducing CO2 emissions is just about nil. The only nations left even proposing this are the EU and Australia. It is doubtful that even these nations will, in practice, have any CO2 reductions. It is almost economic suicide to even consider it seriously.

    So we are going to burn up every last bit of fossil fuel there is, and CO2 emissions are going to go on increasing. We are going to do the experiment to see what happens when CO2 levels increase to whatever level, and the hard measured data will decide which side otf the CAGW debate is correct.

    Who cares about this debate? I suggest the answer will be crystal clear by 2020, maybe even by 2015. And the proponents of CAGW are going to be the losers.

    • Jim:

      “The only nations left even proposing this are the EU and Australia”

      Please don’t call the EU a nation. There are enough European politicans trying to achieve European nationhood without people inadvertantly adding to their credibility!!

  19. Harold H Doiron

    Doesn’t this article debunk the notion of “scientific concensus” regarding CAGW? There are a number of scientific questions to be answered conclusively that I still see being argued with various applications of scientific data analysis.

    I am not a climate change scientist, but I am a credentialed and experienced scientist whose experience required that my scientific conclusions in engineering applications to make design and operational decisions affecting human lives be accurate to a high level of confidence. I am concerned about climate change, but I am not alarmed about it. I am not convinced that we can control the earth’s temperature by controlling CO2 release into the atmosphere, and I am certainly not convinced that CO2 is a pollutant that needs to be controlled by the EPA. I am interested in finding a good technical solution and reasonable plan of action based on what is currently known about the climate change issue.

    I pose answering these questions with a high level of scientific confidence (or reaching a conclusion that we don’t know the answers to a high level of confidence) before determining what such a current plan should be:

    1. Is the earth warming or cooling now? Even though we can generally rely on individual temperature measurements, the definiti0n of a “global average temperature” is a much less precise scientific observation, perhaps even an ill-posed and much less important metric than “variations of temperature in a specific earth geographic location” that we can more accurately measure and deal with using engineering solutions of adaptation to climate changes that have always occurred in all locations on earth. There may be a “global average temperature” signal in all of this temperature measurement noise, but let’s admit, its been difficult to detect with universal scientific agreement and without biased and scientifcally incorrect manipulation of data, eg the “hockey stick” fiasco by reputable (?) scientists who supported and promoted the idea of “scientific concensus”.
    2. Are the earth’s temperature fluctuations over the last 200 years outside of the range of its fluctuations of the previous 10,000 years of unusually stable climate history of the earth? ……I think not.
    3. Are temperature trends of the last 100 years predominantly due to increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere? This conjecture has not been proved to my general scientific principles of evaluation and conclusion.
    4. Are CO2 levels in the atmosphere predominatly due to burning of fossil fuels, or are their other important sources of CO2 in the atmosphere related to ocean temperature variations?
    5. Are current levels of CO2 in the atmosphere too high or too low given the earth’s past history of atmospheric CO2 levels AND the beneficial as well as detrimental aspects of CO2 in the atmopsphere?
    6. Does CO2 level in the atmosphere lead or lag global temperature changes?
    7. Is CO2 a major greenhouse gas or or there other greenhouse gasses that might have a more important effect on global temperature variations? What greenhouse gas or group of gasses give us the most precise control over global temperature variations? Why has so much attention been given to CO2 as the control mechanism?
    8. Is the root cause of global temperature variations of the last 200 years increased level of CO2 in the atmosphere due to burning of fossil fuels? If so, how much of the problem is due to fossil fuel burning and how much to other causes….and, are we confident we can control global average temperature to acceptable levels just by controlling burning of fossil fuels? If not, are there better current solutions and plans of action to deal with our concerns about climate change and what will these solution options cost? Do we have time to implement them? What do we need to be measuring to monitor our concerns about climate change and when will the critical decision points in our plan of action occur?

  20. Again the question:
    Mooney is an apratchik of AGW and the climatocracy.
    He does not represent the science honestly, and believes that testing science and debunking bad theses is bad for science.
    He is a paid shill of the lowest order.
    He is not a scientist. He is not educated as a scientist.
    He in effect writes advertising for a doomsday cult of AGW.
    Who gives a hoot about anything he might say, if they are seeking truth?

    Why does he count anymore on this than, say, Richard Hoagland on

  21. tempterrain

    “The reliable capacity of individuals to conform their personal beliefs to those that predominate within their respective cultural groups prevents those groups from converging on beliefs that make all of their members materially better off.”

    In other words – its politics, or possibly in some cases a religious influence, that is the motivational force for their decision making. More secular liberal/socialist types usually have no problem with accepting the mainstream scientific position on global warming. Conservatives immediately see a threat of higher taxes, and, probably more importantly, increased collectivisation in society. Incidentally, the left aren’t immune from “cultural group” influence. They have similar problems over the acceptance of scientific evidence on nuclear power, for example.

    ‘Agnostic’ claims to have initially accepted the mainstream science position on global warming, but then rejected it as he looked at the evidence more closely. Its not an uncommon line of argument, but I have yet to see any convincing evidence, from blog postings etc, that such a change of heart actually occurrs. With the possible exception of Judith Curry! I must say I can’t see how she can still stand by some of her previous scientific work – but she seems determined to tread a fine line. I remember a previous poster pointing out she says one thing here and another in her scientific publications.

    What we do often see is a increased level of scientific sophistication in skeptic/denialist arguments over the course of several years as particular individuals research and become increasingly familiar with scientific arguments. In other words they will start off by declaring AGW to be a hoax and a scam etc , but after a couple of years they’ll be trotting out lines of arithmetic purportedly showing that climate sensitivity is some remarkably low number and so we really don’t have anything to be at all concerned over.

    I’m thankful to Jim Cripwell to be honest enough to say in his ‘denizens’ entry “When I first heard about CAGW, maybe 12 years ago, I knew it was wrong. In the intervening years, I have learned a great deal, and everything I have learned, confirms my initial reaction.”

    “Initial reaction” eh? I dare say other skeptics/deniers would deny they’d decided on the base of an initial reaction. Of course they carefully assess all the science just like our friend “agnostic” before deciding that the IPCC have it all wrong :-) I don’t think so. They know themselves they are just like Jim.

    • tempterrain,
      The proper response to an article like Kahan’s is introspection.
      You believers are instead flailing around and blaming skeptics.
      Do you realize how sad and pitiful this leaves you?
      Yet another major leg of your beliefs about AGw and those who disagree with it is blown apart.
      We are not anti-science.
      We are not ignorant.
      We are not science illiterate.
      Yet all you can do is to keep tlaking about how stupid, anti-science and ignorant we are.
      Why do you refuse to reconsider anything on your side and keep harping on us?
      Look in a mirror.

    • It is indeed politics, in the sense that politics is the high level decision making sphere of government. The deep debate is between the environmental political movement and those who resist it. AGW is just along for the ride.

    • tempterrain –
      “Initial reaction” eh? I dare say other skeptics/deniers would deny they’d decided on the base of an initial reaction.

      Yup – Initial reaction. Not to GW, but to the Hockey Stick.

      I started working with atmospheric physicists in 1964 and by the time the Hockey Stick came out I was well insulated against AGW – by those scientists. From the scientific POV.

      I started studying archaeology in 1993 – and my first glance at the HS was enough to make me question anything and everything from the AGW side of the dance floor. Why? Because, based on a statistical study (not even a model), it denied 150 years of archaeological research. I was certainly a skeptic prior to that time – I had learned science and skepticism from scientists – and I learned it well. But the HS nailed me solidly to the skeptical side of the debate because I saw it (and still do ) as a lie. And if they needed to lie to sell their case, then they had no valid case.

      It’s been 12 years since that time – I’ve taken courses in Philosophy of Science and Science History (4 of them – and much more detailed than what I took as an undergraduate) – and all of that has confirmed my belief in science – and that the lie was/is real. The simple claim that “the science is settled” – as was pushed at me for years – was/is enough to know that the science was/is faulty, because the science is never settled.

      Does the IPCC have it ALL wrong? Probably not, but they have too much wrong for me to trust the rest as you apparently do. You may trust the IPCC – I’ll trust the data.

      • The HS will be seen as a seminal moment in this debate IMO. Short term success was traded for long term failure.

        My path to skepticism started with the HS. After “hide the decline” was publicized, I told myself I have enough statistical and mathematical skill to determine this answer myself. The OMG moment really came when I examined the raw data sequences (not the processed versions) of the tree rings.

        To somehow get from these horrible noisy contradictory data sets to “proof” of unprecedented warming was simply the inhumane torture of data with statistics until it complied with your wishes. Everyone had to know this, it is undeniable to anyone who has done a lot of data processing / signal processing.

        It wasn’t fraud, it was simply over confidence in the results.

        But things did start to approach fraud after Climate Audit made a compelling case that the science was weak. The refusal to even acknowledge the statistical problems started a cancer that is still growing today.

        In the end the HS is irrelevant beyond the political implications. What is important is where the climate is going, not where it has been. Unfortunately the GCM’s have a similar over confidence problem, but at least they have to own up to skill measurements (or lack thereof) against measured data.

      • Tom:
        “In the end the HS is irrelevant beyond the political implications.”

        I’m not sure I agree that it is irrelevant to the science. The importance of the HS was to emphasise that the recent warming was unprecented in historical terms. This has scientific as well as political implications.

      • You say, “What is important is where the climate is going, not where it has been.”

        I say, “If you want to know where climate is going, you have to understand where it has been.”

        The past ten thousand years has been in an unprecedented stable cycle.

        One molecule of manmade CO2 per ten thousand molecules of other gases in the atmosphere cannot have more than a one chance in ten thousand of making a major difference. Give it ten or a hundred chances out of ten thousand and that is still not much.

        CO2 is driving and the King has no clothes on.

    • Is the root cause of global temperature variations of the last 200 years increased level of CO2 in the atmosphere due to burning of fossil fuels?

      NO!

      There is no evidence for accelerated warming as a result of increase in human emission of CO2:

      http://bit.ly/lVkSkw

  22. Dr. Curry,
    Your take on this ‘work’ of Mooney’s is spot on:
    Mooney has it exactly backwards.
    From my observation of him over several years he has never had it right.
    Now that it is clear that the years of attacks by the believer community were uninformed, perhaps we can also discuss why the beleivers, who are apparently statisitically less science literate, not only fell for AGW, but were so vociferous about it?

    • tempterrain

      Dr Curry,

      Doesn’t it worry you you write things which Hunter enthusiastically agrees with? Hunter’s agreement may not quite be a necessary and sufficient test of a fallacious argument, but it should be enough for anyone to pause and think.

  23. ‘I admit that I have been wondering since this blog exists what actually IS the matter with all those compressions , rotating motions and the vaguely disquieting gaseous emissions that come from the Earth’s interior.

    Would you say , oh Chief , that we are doomed?’ Tomas

    Yes Tomas – if my reading of Albert on the space/time continuum is correct – it has already happened. There is a Mr Leunig who is a designated living national treasure in my country. He says that the only reason angels can fly is that they take themselves so lightly. It shows that poetry is the only recourse of sanity.

    I spent all my brass in a shanty smokin’ grass,
    across the western suburbs I must roam,
    ’till I find a home in my little darlin’s arms,
    across the western suburbs I must wander.

    No wait – that’s a 1970’s version of a traditional bush balled.

    “Mr Spock – we seem to have entered a time vortex – what do you make of it?”
    “Captain – .my advice is to take this ukulele and sing a 1950’s style greasy love song. There is an 85% probability that the time vortex entity will eject us and than implode from an excess of nostalgia.”. .
    “Och Jim, – not the Schoenberg songs for a pissant liberal – the engines canna take it.

  24. andrew adams

    the reason we have climate skeptics is because of overconfidence in the IPCC conclusions

    Do you seriously, honestly believe this? Are you really saying that if the IPCC accepted your take on uncertainty (and let’s remember it is your personal view, not an objective fact) then there would be no “skeptics”?

    • Steven Schuman

      I can’t speak for others, but that’s a large part of my transformation from believer to sceptic. I had trouble getting past the “science is settled.”

      • tempterrain

        Steven,

        The science isn’t settled on HIV/AIDs either, but I’d still advise you against indulging in unsafe sex!

      • Now CO2 AGW is like HiV/AIDs? Is there a strawman you haven’t used? Sarah Palin maybe?

      • Jack Hughes

        He hasn’t played the grandchildren card yet on this thread 8)

      • There is risk in sex. There is more risk in no sex.

      • Solid. The science was described as being solid.

      • JCH –
        Not where I was for the last 10-12 years. It was settled”.

      • We’ve been through this. Somebody found a recent quote by an EPA bureaucrat, who is not a climate scientist.

        Otherwise it’s basically, my cousin Gomer say he heard Connie Wanda heard a student say her mother heard a cab driver claim a ride said he heard…

        It’s great pig pile of heardchit.

      • JCH –
        It’s great pig pile of heardchit.

        Yup – it is. But your compatriots on many blogs and fora believed it 10 -12 years ago – and have never been informed that It’s great pig pile of heardchit.

    • tempterrain

      Andrew,

      I hope Judith does give you a reply on this. Its an obvious nonsense to suggest that any admission of increased uncertainty by the IPCC wouldn’t be seized on by ‘skeptics’ who would then go on to argue that the science wasn’t settled after all, just like they’d said all along, and therefore there was just no need to do anything until it was.

      • andrew adams

        tempterrain,

        Indeed, and the more I think about it the more it appears that Judith is the one who has it the wrong way round. The IPCC’s conclusions don’t alter the science – if someone understands the science well enough to make a judgement about whether the IPCC is overconfident then they have surely reached the point where they are “skeptical” (or otherwise) already.

      • There is the crap you believers cling to calling it settled science and proof of a climate crisis, and there is the IPCC, a corrupt organization with no COI standards promoting it.
        Two parts of a perfect storm.
        No wonder the feeble minded lap it up: Nothing to think about, smug self-righteousness, and great way to bleat on in a large chorus.

      • Is it a coincidence that this started picking up steam right at the same time in history that conventional religion went into a tailspin (especially in Europe)?

      • No, it is not a coincidence. Science replaced God in those who feel the need for following a leader.

      • andrew adams

        hunter,

        Sorry, is there something of substance in amongst those puerile ramblings?

      • If the science is not settled, whatever is done is as likely to do harm as good. Since the settled science is actually wrong, whatever is done will do more harm than good.

        Settle the science first!

        Do not ruin our economy and our source of energy based on unsettled science.

      • Tempterrain –
        We’ve already been through this “science is settled” argument. you lost that one before you ever got here. It was Schmidt and others who backed off that one publicly. We’ve also been through a lo of “uncertainty” conversation. Your arguments are dead and already buried.

    • Rob Starkey

      To a large degree that would seem true. If “climate scientists” had not claimed the science was settled and that as a result of the settled science–we need to take these steps now…..it would have resulted in a completely different set of circumstances.

      • andrew adams

        Maybe if skeptics made an effort to understand what scientists are actually saying instead of arguing against caricatures and strawmen then they might get taken more seriously.

      • How’s the “not taking skeptics more seriously” been working for you lately?

        Copenhagen failure
        Cap and trade failure
        Kyoto extension failure
        Public support continues to drop
        Obama has dropped the issue
        Intractable polarized debate
        EPA is paralyzed
        Climate science losing respect among scientists

        Must be pretty frustrating losing to such an untalented set of people.

    • simon abingdon

      Good questions, andrew. Shame we don’t know who’s supposed to reply.

    • If you acknowledge that the science is uncertain, then different perspectives on the science and disagreement are easily accommodated in that context, and there is no need to classify one group as “deniers.”

      • tempterrain

        Judith,

        Lets assume the IPCC downgraded its confidence level from ‘very likely’ , meaning about 90% confident, to ‘possibly’, which would be about 50% confident.

        It wouldn’t really make that much difference to the argument that CO2 and other GH gases need to be controlled. Who’d want to bet the future of the climate on the toss of a coin?

        But would the skeptics/deniers be any more likely to change their line of staunch opposition to CO2 emission controls? I must admit I’m not quite as confident as you seem to be about this!

      • John Kannarr

        tempterrain,

        you make the assumption that any forcible attempt to control GHG gases has no other consequences for the economy, for people’s well-being, and for technological progress. Of course, you want to bet all that on the same toss of the coin that you deride.

        There is a long history of autocrats meddling in the economy and creating poverty and holding back economic advancement, and always later claiming that the problems they caused were really due to those darn free markets! But the law of unintended consequences applies most harshly to those who think they can engineer other people’s lives and choices. Put your coin back in your pocket, and if truth is on your side, marshall your evidence and arguments and convince people to voluntarily follow your recommendations.

      • tempterrain

        John,

        So you are saying the IPCC would need to increase its level of confidence, rather than reduce it? The IPCC would need to establish the ‘truth’?

        What scientific evidence would you be looking for which doesn’t currently exist?

      • John Kannarr

        I am opposed to any autocratic idea that says someone will be the power that forces everyone else to do what they want. As I said, convince those whom you want to act in a certain way that they should follow your counsel. Don’t resort to force when you are unable to do so.

        That doesn’t mean convince a majority or those in political power to use force against the remainder of people. Convince individual people to act in certain ways, but you have no right to override their individual judgments if they disagree, as long as they likewise use no force against you.

      • John Kannarr

        The issue isn’t the IPCC’s confidence, or even of convincing me (except to the extent you want me to change what I do). Convince those whom you wish would change their actions. If people believe you are right, then they will voluntarily cooperate with your plans; if not, then they shouldn’t be forced to.

        I am opposed to any autocratic idea that says someone will be the power that forces everyone else to do what they want. As I said, convince those whom you want to act in a certain way that they should follow your counsel. Don’t resort to force when you are unable to do so.

        That doesn’t mean convince a majority or those in political power to use force against the remainder of people. Convince individual people to act in certain ways, but you have no right to override their individual judgments if they disagree, as long as they likewise use no force against you.

      • John Kannarr

        In response to your question as to what “scientific evidence would you be looking for which doesn’t currently exist?” that would convince me, personally, it isn’t any particular evidence that I think is missing, but legitimate scientific procedure (or scientific integrity, as Feynman put it).

        I would need to see that the climate scientists are making all of their data available, both that which is used and that which is discarded, along with explanation for why, and a complete accounting of their analytical procedures, their methods, their code, etc., and having made it available for all to examine and critique and repeat, if no one finds serious reasons to discredit it, then I would start to be convinced that the science is valid and credible.

        Then we could move on to the questions as to whether or not to be concerned, and what people might choose to do about the findings.

      • Actually it could make a big difference if the IPCC said we do not know whether past warming was human induced or not. Keep in mind that GHG controls are based on future projections, not past causation, but without the latter we do not have the basis for action. Unfortunately the IPCC is not that important. The other actinides would not stop.

      • Activists not actinides. My spell checker has a sense of humor.

      • “it could make a big difference if the IPCC said we do not know whether past warming was human induced or not”

        Actually, its not so much what the IPCC says as what justification they have for saying it. Observing this debate one sees it being shown repeatedly that the factual foundations for various IPCC pronouncements are dubious. When I read of IPCC bureaucrats writing summaries for policy makers and then requiring revisions of the working groups reports to conform with the summaries; when I read of conclusions being drawn as to warming rates in antarctica which turn out to be based on faulty mathematical methods; when I read of climate models producing outputs five or more degrees hotter or colder than the actual temperature records being touted as reliable prognosticators because their anomalies are approximately similar to the actual temperature record’s anomalies, I am left deeply suspicious that the empirical foundations of “consensus” climate science are insubstantial to support such a towering edifice.

      • tempterrain, you are going postnormal, unable to separate the scientific research from one specific policy option, in a truth to power model for decision making. Take a step back and look at the scientific arguments. The more uncertain the science, the broader should be your range of policy options with a focus on resiliency rather than a single optimal policy solution (which could backfire by being inadequate on the one hand, or unecessary and costly on the other).

      • Judith,

        Yes, I’ve heard this argument before. However, politicians rightly do look to scientists to offer their best advice. I understand full well that science is about confidence limits and risk assessment etc, but decisons still do have to be made.
        For instance, if you were on jury service, you wouldn’t be allowed to express a verdict in scientific terms. You couldn’t say “we find the accused to be guilty to a confidence level of 90 +/- 3%”
        It about coming out of the ivory tower and engaging with the real world and you seemed to be keen on that at one time.

      • John Carpenter

        “It about coming out of the ivory tower and engaging with the real world and you seemed to be keen on that at one time.”

        Those of us who read and post comments here are not part of the ‘real’ world?…. interesting new take on this blog.

        “but decisons still do have to be made.”

        Do you have a particular decision in mind that needs to be made?

      • tempterrain –
        If you were “on jury service”, you wouldnt’ be chosen for a jury if it were known that you thought the defendant was guilty before the trial started. That kind of bias is unacceptable in that situation.

        Similarly, the advice of a scientist who is known to be an advocate should not be trusted on policy decisions.

      • Jim Owen,

        The idea behind the IPCC was that it should effectively be a jury, an umpire, or referee (choose any one you like). In football, you’re not allowed to disagree too vociferously with the ref. You’re not allowed to say he’s “biased” just because he’s given a “guilty” verdict against one of your team which has cost a penalty. If you can’t get over it and accept the decision you do deserve that red card!

        John Carpenter,

        Yes, of course, a decision on the control of future level of CO2 emissions does need to be made. Effectively the jury, the IPCC, are the world’s climate scientists who need to say yes/ no and by how much quite clearly. Judith seems to want to shy away from that obligation, move back up into the ivory tower and wring her hands over the issue.

        That’s what makes the climate issue unique. It doesn’t really matter what anyone thinks about Darwinian Evolution. They can visit all the Creationist museums they like as far as I’m concerned. But this is different.

      • If the IPCC were the jury, the western energy economy would already have its head in the guillotine, with the blade plummeting down, rather than just be standing still half way up the ramp. Unfortunately for the CAGW proponents, the real jury is the electorate, particularly the U.S. electorate. Do you think Obama blinked on Copenhagen because he became a skeptic? Maybe because he is a secret member of the conservative tribe? Or just maybe, because the political tide had turned so rapidly, and to such a great degree, that following his progressive instincts in Copenhagen would have been politically fatal?

      • tempterrain –
        Invalid analogy alert —— This isn’t football.

      • John Carpenter

        tempterrian,

        Is not a possible ‘verdict’ on climate so far a hung jury? Why do you think the decision has to be ‘guilty’ or ‘innocent’ at this time? Analogizing the climate debate to a jury and verdict assumes the case is closed, no further investigation needed. I find this to be a poor analogy as our knowledge of how the climate works is open to a lot of uncertainty. I already know you will not agree with this or are convinced to the degree that enough evidence is there to render a ‘guilty’ verdict. Are you convinced ‘beyond a shadow of doubt’? I guess Judy thinks the jury is still out at this time on the severity of the ‘case’…. that is hardly a retreat to an ivory tower as she is prudent enough to engage with skeptical viewpoints to understand all the ‘evidence’.

      • “This isn’t football” “This isn’t cricket” etc I think you can say the same thing about all sporting analogies, Jim.

        It doesn’t mean they aren’t valid.

      • Don’t get silly on me. Your analogy isn’t valid because I ALWAYS have the option of disagreeing vociferously with the ref and saying he’s “biased” . Especially when it’s true.

        Where do you think sceptics come from – the swamp, maybe?

      • GaryM,

        I’d just make the point that the US electorate may not be the best qualified to make the call. Weird opinions on just about everything possible don’t seem to be that out of the ordinary there. Does it come from watching too much Fox news, listening to right wing shock jocks on the radio, too much fire and brimstone style religion? I’m not sure. What’s your take on it?

      • ” Where do you think sceptics come from – the swamp, maybe? ” That’s good question!

        So you’ll always carry on and carry on until you get your own way regardless of any procedures which may be agreed in advance. In which case a red card may certainly be justified!

        I’m not sure about the suitability of the humour in this clip but talking to you guys I can see why certain people do indulge in these kind of fantasies:-)

      • tempterrain –

        So you’ll always carry on and carry on until you get your own way

        When I’m right and the future of my country and my grandchildren are at stake, you’d better believe that.

        regardless of any procedures which may be agreed in advance.

        Nobody consulted me wrt the rules – so there are none.

        I’m not sure about the suitability of the humour in this clip

        There is no humor in it – and that you think there might be is one very good reason for me to be on the other side of the dance floor, RPG in hand. That clip was sick the first time around – it doesn’t smell any better the second time.

      • tempterrain

        The IPCC was set up on the initiative of Ronald Reagan who you may remember was a Republican and so it doesn’t seem unfair to call it a conservative initiative.

        The scientific community felt that it was the administrations way of forestalling and decision on climate change, but nevertheless worked hard to produce the first IPCC report in 1990.

        So it does seem rather churlish on the Conservatives part, that having had their own way in setting up the process it is now they who are calling the results of that process into question. Why push for the IPCC in the first instance if you are going to denigrate it later?

      • tempterrain,

        My take on it was put much more eloquently than I am capable by Willam F. Buckley: “I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.”

        Somehow I am not surprised that you disdain democracy. If you don’t mind, I will just sit back and watch you brilliant elitists lead Europe into the economic abyss, while we U.S. conservatives at least try to keep our self-important elites from doing the same here. You keep pining away for an IPCC led utopia, while Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal feed their socialist paradise, spending German Euros…while it lasts.

        U.S. conservatives are at least trying to pull this country back from the brink.

      • tempterrain

        No I don’t disdain democracy. On the contrary I would say we need to extend the principle beyond a cross on a ballot paper every four or five years.

        However , having said that, you can’t expect that a show of hands will always produce the correct answer on a scientific or even a mathematical question, as we can see from the recent post about the $1.10 bat and ball. Sometimes, we do need to refer scientific issues, not just on questions of global warming, to those with the relevant expertise and I’m confident that the majority of people would agree with that POV.

        Its often said that US democracy is the finest that money can buy. And, from what I’ve seen on my visits there, there is certainly a lot of money involved in shaping and molding public opinion. Overtly political ads, such as one I remember about CO2 being ‘plant food’, aren’t allowed in Europe or Australia in the same way as they are in the USA and I would suggest to you that this is one important reason why US and European public opinion is often divergent.

        The BBC are often accused of being a leftish organisation, but from what I saw during a recent visit to the UK which happened to coincide with some wedding which was going on there, I have to say that I just couldn’t see why! I’m sure all my fellow Republicans in the US and elsewhere would have found the grovelling sycophancy equally vomit inducing as myself.

        However, I do have to say they do their best to keep their scientific coverage in line with what their National Academy of Sciences , or the Royal Society , would advise. It just seems a pity that to be pro-science is also considered to be pro-left in this day and age.

      • tempterrain,

        I actually find it amusing that you think of “overtly political ads” and the BBC’s sycophantic coverage of CAGW as somehow different. The BBC, funded by the government, slavishly follows the government line on one of the most important economic debates of our time, keeping from its viewers contrary data or opinion, and you see this as a good thing. I must say that your fondness for censorship is just as heartwarming as your contempt for democracy. The masses are so much easier to control when you can limit their access to information, aren’t they?

        Amazing what progressives reveal about themselves in the wee hours of the morning.

      • tempterrain

        The BBC don’t take their scientific line from their government but rather from advice taken from the country’s leading universities and research institutes. Its pretty much the same story here here in Australia except we have the ABC. The Australian CSIRO would advise them not the Aussie government.
        They may well both even consult with the US National Academy of Sciences and I’m sure they would receive the same excellent advice from them too.
        Taxes do seem rather on the high side in all the European countries and I suspect politicians there have developed their own levels of expertise in this regard without having to involve the scientific community.

      • Tempterrain:

        Judith said this:
        “The more uncertain the science, the broader should be your range of policy options with a focus on resiliency rather than a single optimal policy solution (which could backfire by being inadequate on the one hand, or unecessary and costly on the other).”

        What’s difficult to accept about his unless you are so fixed on a single political solution that other policy options are ideologically unacceptable? The scientific uncertainty opens up a whole load of different possible solutions which would take us away from the current, rather sterile, bipolar debate. Dogmatism is unealthy.

      • tempterrain

        The problem I have with this sentence is its lack of clarity. What does a “broader range of policy options” actually mean?
        Is the range so broad that it includes both carbon taxes, and a cap and trade scheme. Is it so broad that it includes a large government investment in low carbon energy sources? Does it include incentives towards energy saving in buildings?

        I suspect none of these things and its really code for doing nothing very much. What do you think?

      • andrew adams

        Personally I’m a bit puzzled by the inferenced that those of us on the “warmist” side don’t favour a broad range of policy options ourselves.

        I don’t know of anyone who thinks that any individual policy is a “silver bullet” which will solve the problem all by itself. I don’t know of anyone who thinks that mitigation policies alone will suffice and we will not have to find ways of adapting to climate change as well.

        I’m really not sure what Judith is arguing against.

      • The drift I got once to a question about how high, given predicted SLR, a proposed new seawall for Galveston should be: Galveston should improve its building codes so its submerged housing won’t blow away during a hurricane, and can instead be condemned and demolished later.

      • You demonstrate perfectly that you are unable to be influenced by new information.
        No matter the facts, your dogmatic approach to CO2 is the answer.

      • andrew adams

        The IPCC does acknowlege that the science is uncertain. You just happen do disagree with their particular assessment of the level of uncertainty in some areas.
        And that doesn’t really answer my question. If the IPCC produced reports which reflected your assessment of the uncertainties do you really think that there would be no “skeptics”?

    • Without a much higher degree of evidence and statistical certainty there can be no rational for targeting co2, which is why fuzzing the science in the way of the IPCC method was so essential in the first place.

      AGW needed a smoking gun, it didn’t have one so it faked it; the hockey stick for example.

      It isn’t hard to compare the wmd fail in Iraq, although that is terrible simple minded talking point in itself. The IPCC bet the farm on hype not science which can’t be produced with the data and tools as they existed. Crying wolf for decades used up the initial capital of “expert” value. Scientists in general have decline in public influence thanks to this movement.

      The IPCC has bigger problems of course than trumped up certainty and claims that were invented in political summary meetings over the years. There are hidden models and data sets that have to go public or be thrown out of science consideration. The core leaders such as Mann, Jones, Hansen are shills. Drip, drip, drip it’s not going to hold levy back.

      Another sector of our society has been dragged into partisan utility and mud thanks to agw hype and UN agenda setting. Why given the evidence doesn’t JC connect the dots and conclude that the skeptics had it right all along?

  25. “the relationship between greater math and science knowledge and dismissal of climate risks was even stronger.”

    well duh, we told them long ago that they had to convince the engineers.
    Back in 2007 it became clear that many ee and aerospace guys were dubious of AGW. Instead of engaging engineers, instead of engaging those with math and science knowledge, instead of co-opting them, what did they do? they denied them data ( HUGE RED FLAG), they denied them code ( ANOTHER HUGE MISTAKE) and then… they challenged them to “do your damn science”.. which is what guys like Ryan Odonnell and jeff id Did.

    And so 4 years later, mooney discovers what 10 minutes on CA would tell him. Hey we got a problem with people who actually know math.

    • Rob Starkey

      lol…we engineers are a pain aren’t we

      • Ya. but according to mooney poking holes in science doesnt improve it

      • John Carpenter

        It’s all about the ‘debunking’… nothing else.

      • You have to admit, it didn’t do religion any good to allow debate. If Bellarmine had been tougher, we wouldn’t be dealing with all these science and technology issues right now. Mooney understands where Bellarmine went wrong, and doesn’t intend to repeat that mistake.

    • Excellent points Steven, the articles are twaddle and designed to be used as attack propoganda. Those smart poor communicating progressive warmist learning to speak to the knuckle dragging, conservative skeptics. It’s so old hat it isn’t worth much effort.

      There are two lines in JC comment;

      5.Deniers think CO2 is irrelevant
      6.Deniers believe humans have no impact on climate.

      If you can’t quantify impact, have working evidence or a model why should this be added to cost benefit calculations of policy?? Nothing is more frustrating when certain green points get assumed into a policy debate, for example;

      http://hotair.com/archives/2011/06/28/video-reason-asks-what-the-frack-is-going-on

      It’s about fracking and natural gas and oil, another demagogued topic with the usual suspects who are watching the “peak oil” canard go the way of agw and “population bomb”. The dust bin of history. What’s really annoying? Ron Bailey, a bright guy starts selling co2 reduction of natural gas. Why? What is the formula or science that states lower carbon in the small range of choices is better
      than coal or oil? co2 in a range is a harmless gas and not a pollutant, why backstop agw in this way? Until there is public data and models pass the test and can be verified why should we concede to unquantified junk science claims and assumptions? This is how junk science spreads like a computer virus so until I see an issue with co2 (with real science) I’ll be a type 1 skeptic and think co2 in the natural range is in fact harmless. So2, lead, mercury are other topics. Reasonable regulation of garbage disposal (by any means) and byproduct pollution is not the talking point. Co2 just doesn’t rate other that uniform political agenda attached.

      • I’m afraid shale gas and fracking have been oversold. I see signs the exuberance was irrational.

    • You simply cannot tell an engineer that “hide the decline” was honest science with a straight face. Not gonna fly.

      Academia and engineering are truly separate worlds. We don’t attend each others trade shows, and the amount of interaction between these two professions is probably a lot lower than what the general public assumes.

      However math is the tie that binds, and we are immanently qualified to make judgments in this area. Never whiz on an engineer and tell him it is raining.

  26. Moron:

    “It’s funny how this high-level intellectual firepower is always used in service of debunking—rather than affirming or improving—mainstream science.”

    Odonnel DID IMPROVE THE SCIENCE. idiot mooney. English major I bet.

  27. James Griffiths

    I find it quite amusing that the authors of this paper appear to separate the population into “ordinary people” and scientists, as if any findings this study claim to make wouldn’t apply to scientists in exactly the same way.

    Once again, we find science being done backwards.

    We know very well that a multitude of factors influence our behaviour. Not just that, they influence our perception of what we regard as our reality. Further, we know that these same factors actually influence what we think to be the truth, even when we go looking for it!!!

    Of course, people have known this for millennia. Back then, they approached the problem from a different angle. Instead of trying to understand why people didn’t believe what an “authority” said, they recognised that the same human flaws manifested in the “authority” made it patently unwise to trust to their word, even if you wanted to!

    This is what the scientific method is about. As a scientist, you have to acknowledge that you are victim to all the same flaws as every other human, and given a free rein you will make exactly the same mistakes.

    All you have to differentiate yourself from the people you wish to convince is your methodology. Your human side cannot be trusted.

    Any investigation into the truth must begin with the truth itself as the prime suspect, and it must be interrogated harshly. These people appear to want the jury put in the dock.

  28. John Kannarr

    This whole analysis based on the Douglas & Wildavsky framework seems to be bogus, starting with the claim of two opposing worldviews, “hierarchical, individualistic,” and “egalitarian, communitarianism,” which to me each contain self-contradictory characteristics conjoined in each of their prototypes. It is particularly ridiculous to claim that Egalitarian Communitarians favor “less regimented forms of social organization and greater collective attention to securing individual needs,” when the methods proposed, indeed, necessary to such ends, involves great regimentation and control and limitation of individual choices.

    It is not the Individualists who demand that others be regimented to fit some perceived master plan! They only seek to deal with others as equals, trading value for value. As for any hierarchy that occurs due to the voluntary choices, cooperation, and perceived mutual benefits of trade activity, that is an emergent property, not an imposed order, subject to change whenever individuals find a different order more to their benefit, by making different choices, and dealing with different individuals.

    Another claim in the Kahan et al paper is in the sentence: “The result is the failure of the public—or at least a large proportion of it—to form the views of climate change risk held among more knowledgeable, dispassionate experts (Weber & Stern 2011).” I find that condescending and demeaning to those who have pointed out major flaws in the data and arguments of the so-called “more knowledgeable” and “dispassionate” (!) experts, to say the least.

  29. From the abstract:
    “On the whole, the most scientifically literate and numerate subjects were slightly less likely, not more, to see climate change as a serious threat than the least scientifically literate and numerate ones.”

    From the Public Irrationality section:
    “…citizens’ predominant reliance on heuris-tic rather than more analytic modes of reasoning leads them to underestimate climate change risks, …”

    Four law professors and two psychologists did this research. They say the most scientifically literate were least concerned about climate change.
    They also say citizens underestimate climate change risk.

    I find it stunning they were able to quantify climate change risk accurately enough to determine who is underestimating climate change risk. The scientific community hasn’t come close to being able to do such a thing. Perhaps all risk assessments should be done by lawyers and psychologists.

  30. The relationship between climate skepticism and political views makes a great deal of sense if one views it from the policy perspective. When political liberals look at the scientific evidence supporting the “alarmist” position, they see evidence that supports policies that they would like to implement, even if there were no global warming. Long before global warming was a big issue, liberals supported government policies that would make fossil fuels more expensive to encourage conservation, promote the development of clean energy sources and preserve the environment. Conservatives, on the other hand, are much more skeptical because they see the scientific evidence for the “alarmist” position as supporting policies that they historically have vigorously opposed.

    Whenever one see two sides of debate with intelligent people on both sides having difficulty understanding the other sides’ position, the difficulties likely arise from fundamentally different political world views. I think this is likely the case in the global warming debate.

  31. Respondents predisposed by their values to dismiss climate change evidence became more dismissive, and those predisposed by their values to credit such evidence more concerned, as science literacy and numeracy increased.

    It is incredible why we discuss values when AGW is not supported by the data.

    The accelerated warming of the IPCC is a fraud, as it compared the global mean temperature trend for the recent warming period with the trend for a combination of this warming and previous cooling period and then declared accelerated global warming.

    http://bit.ly/b9eKXz

    Genuine interpretation of the data shows there has not been any accelerated/enhanced global warming as shown in the following graph.

    http://bit.ly/lVkSkw

    There is no accelerated/enhanced global warming according to the data.

  32. This is a rather odd paper. The authors listed are mainly lawyers, though they clearly rely on a couple of social scientists down the list for the actual data. It isn’t currently published, as far as I can tell.

    The oddity is that it uses its own questions to assess numeracy and scientific knowledge, rather than any formal qualification. That may be a good idea, but I think assessing that in the course of a (15 minute?) interview is a challenge. They say they can do it, but I’d like to see their methods affirmed by a review process.

    I’m not sure about the sampling method either:
    “Study subjects consisted of a nationally representative general population sample of 1,540 Americans who were recruited by Knowledge Networks and who participated in study experiments via Knowledge Network’s on-line testing facilities.”
    It sounds like they are talking to people with a lot of time on their hands.

    • As pointed out in comments over at Mooney’s blog, their testing process for determining literacy is questionable.

      But the maths and science questions used to establish this “literacy” are elementary to say the least – you wouldn’t even need to finish high school to get most of them right. A question on Bayesian probability (the most difficult) was answered correctly by only 3% of the respondents, which means < 3% would have been able to read and interpret this paper (which made use of multivariate regression etc). But yet the authors would have us accept that a high score in their "science and numeracy" test makes these same respondents better able to assess the claims of climate science on its own merits because it puts them in this class of thinkers: "people who understand science and who engage in the System 2 reasoning style characteristic of scientists ".

      It would be interesting to find out what the results might be if the tests for scientific literacy and numeracy were more relevant to the scientific and numeric skills needed to evaluate the science and statistics of the climate change debate.

      • Joshua –
        It would be interesting to find out what the results might be if the tests for scientific literacy and numeracy were more relevant to the scientific and numeric skills needed to evaluate the science and statistics of the climate change debate.

        I suspect that they’d find an even stronger link to skepticism.

      • I have no idea.

        Hanging out here one might tend to think you’re right.

        Hang out atr Nick Stokes’ blog or Deep Climate, and you’d likely get a different impression.

        I’ll also reiterate the point that from looking at the study, (although I don’t know how to crunch the numbers precisely) it seems quite likely that despite the very slight link between skepticism and doubts about the dangers of AGW – many of the more scientific literate and numerate fell onto the “extreme risk” side of the scale:

        On a scale of 0 (“no risk”) to 10 (“extreme risk”), the average rating was 5.7 (SD = 3.4).

        I’d also point out that arguably, the group that would be strongest in the scientific and numeracy skills needed to evaluate the evidence are climate scientists, and it seems pretty clear that a vast majority of them are very concerned about extreme risk from AGW.

        Are they the only group of scientists who posses those skills? No, I don’t think so. Are they most likely to posses the greatest number of requisite skills? Yes, I think so. Are they prone to “cultural” influence? Sure, but so are people on the other side of the debate – as the study shows.

      • sorry – I should have written ……despite the very slight link between scientific literacy/numeracy and doubts about the dangers of AGW……

      • As I mentioned elsewhere, over 95% of those who would objectively be identified as climate scientists by their academic record, are of the AGW opinion. This is a slightly different question, because AGW doesn’t necessarily equate to what they call risk on this survey. Many climate scientists would possibly defer on risk to those who can assess the impacts of the warming, which is harder to predict than the warming itself.

      • andrew adams

        Yeah but you’re forgetting that referring to the scientific literacy of climate scientists is an unacceptable appeal to authority, whereas referring to the scientific literacy of “skeptics” demonstrates that they have to be taken Very Seriously.

      • AA – clearly you don’t realize that only libz and commies “appeal to authority.”

      • It may be worse than that. If I am interpreting page 21 of the report correctly, only 12% of the respondents answered the following question correctly:

        A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

  33. am i the only one that have read this blog: http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/06/27/the-failure-of-al-gore-part-deux/ ????
    it is an article by Walter Russell Mead about al gore’s article in the Rolling Stone…

  34. Confidence and overconfidence involve a variety of nuances that are not always obvious.

    A year ago, when the possible carcinogenic effect of cell phones was in the news (it’s still not settled), a physicist at the local university wrote a newspaper editorial explaining why cell phones cannot cause brain tumors. These phones, he explained, emit radiation in the microwave range, which lacks the energy needed to cause the DNA strand breakages that would permit electromagnetic energy to be carcinogenic.

    He was wrong, but not on the physics. Rather, microwave and other low energy signals can cause cells to change their metabolism in ways that promote cancer development indirectly – for example, by generating oxidizing free radicals capable of DNA damage. His assertion had been confident, based on his expertise, but the confidence was misplaced. If he had been less self-assured, his interest in the subject could still have been exercised by addressing the microwave/cancer possibility as a question rather than a statement. The experts in cancer biology and epidemiology might then have explained why the possibility remains open despite the physicist’s proclamation that it was an impossibility.

    I’m interested in the phenomenon by which experts in a particular field feel capable of pronouncing judgments about other fields with high certainty. This phenomenon is hardly limited to climate science, but it seems to prevail in many climate science blogs. To avoid falling into the physicist’s trap, I would like to express my interest as a question. To what extent is confidence misplaced when pronouncements about climate science are issued by engineers, IT experts and programmers, modelers in a different discipline, mathematicians, or even physicists in a very different branch of the science? How often does what is “obvious” to these well-informed individuals turn out to be wrong because of considerations they could not have known from their own discipline?

    My sense is that the answer is frequently, but certainly not always. The views of outsiders should always be welcomed. On the other hand, should the outsiders themselves recognize limitations in their ability to extrapolate from one field to another that precludes dogmatic assertions, and justify more in the way of probing questions than pronouncements?

    Some comments from well-informed engineers, mathematicians, and the like would be of interest.

    • From each specialist in other branches, to the flaws revealed in climate science in their area of expertise.
      ==================

      • Dang, much better:

        From each specialist according to his abilities, to each area of climate science in need.
        ===========

      • Except that in the areas in most need (such as statistics), they don’t want any expertise redistribution. Climate science needs redistributive change.

    • As an architect who stands to benefit from the “greening” of buildings, what changed my opinion, first and foremost, was the quality of the historical temperature record. No other field, of which I’m aware, would every offer “engineering” type solutions based upon such poor quality and un-testable data. It all begins and ends with the quality of the data — this is a truth that bridges all disciplines. You don’t need to be a climate scientist to understand that the data if flawed.

      • Jim – With respect, you may be inadvertently illustrating the notion that partial familiarity can breed overconfidence and inaccurate conclusions. Your judgment about the utility of the data may not be as well justified as seems “obvious” to you from your vantage point. As a scientist in a different field, but as one with some familiarity with the climate data, I actually have a different perspective – not that the data are ideal but rather that they are quite valuable in drawing valid inferences with reasonable accuracy regarding some climate features, including long term global trends. You may have overgeneralized. To what depth have you looked into this? How do you know you haven’t overlooked some critical element that would be apparent if you knew the subject better?

        My purpose is not to argue this point with you or insist I’m right, but to suggest that whether your conclusions are justified or not, they may be too certain in your own mind. If you were more familiar with how data from multiple different sources can be used to reinforce conclusions drawn from a single source, you might end up with a less unfavorable view.

        Perhaps that’s not true, but what makes you as sure as you seem to be?

        Just to be sure I’m not misunderstood as inviting arguments about climate data quality or other specifics, my questions are about the degree to which one’s own area of expertise makes it possible to be certain that critical features in a different discipline have not been overlooked. It’s about being certain, not about the historical temperature record, which I would be interested in discussing in a thread devoted to that topic. However, that topic has already been discussed on many occasions, and the questions I’m asking here about judging one scientific discipline from knowledge of another have not been as thoroughly explored. It’s also a topic that requires more introspection than is often applied to it.

      • Fred,
        That is an interesting point. How do I know my knowledge of the subject of weather instrumentation is adequate to judge the quality of data used to proclaim CAGW. Sure, decades ago I stood on the hand rails of 250 foot weather towers to sight in the wind direction vanes. I’ve installed a few weather monitoring setups over the years. I later graduated up to dealing with the computer end of that gear, including data analysis. I’ve had a rather large amount of training on the subject.

        So, even though I’m the kind of guy the climate scientists would call to find out if their equipment was working correctly, I am still not a ‘Climate Scientist’. If I see that the accuracy of their data is overestimated, I am not to question the application of that data to climate science? I’m not to raise my hand and say I see something wrong?

        The problem here, Fred, is that the climate science claims for dangerous global warming are based upon that data. If the data is not adequate to provide the analysis results, the conclusions made from it are invalid. I’m not a climate scientist, though I have studied the subject for years. I can make that judgement with a reasonable level of confidence.

      • Fred, I tried to make the point that the data is not sufficiently accurate for “engineering” – not that one can’t infer trends from it. Data, such as the properties of steel members, should be rigidly defined by tests that are reproducible by anyone who wishes to do so. The historical temperature records do not meet this requirement, nor was it ever intended that they do so.

    • Richard Hill

      Fred, I am an engineer who has extensive hands on experience with computer simulation, modelling and projections. (OK, in a very narrow area, nothing to do with clinmate) I am concerned about dependence on software simulation in the IPCC projections.

    • It doesn’t take a lot of expertise to look at the performance of the GCM’s against actual measurements and determine their prediction skill is poor. The confidence intervals are not appropriate, the error is not properly bounded. Error analysis on GCM’s seems to be intentionally avoided. Aerosol inputs are more fudge factor than science.

      It doesn’t take a lot of expertise to understand that the basis of CAGW is an accelerating rise of temperatures (positive feedback of forcings) caused by continued CO2 emissions. This acceleration is not happening over the past two decades and counting. Temperature increase is slowing down, not speeding up. CO2 continues unabated.

      It does take some expertise to examine the HS debate and determine that the past climate reconstructions are “highly speculative”. Go look at the raw data for each tree ring that make up the HS, the data is terrible.

      Five years ago CAGW alarmists were pontificating that hurricanes were going to be stronger and more frequent. This has been followed by five years of the lowest cyclone activity since reliable measurements began.

      etc, etc. I understand their are counter arguments and counter-counter arguments.

      The arguments is not the scientists are wrong, it is that they simply don’t know the answer yet with any degree of confidence. They must demonstrate this, I am not giving them the benefit of the doubt.

      Make valid falsifiable predictions. Be correct. Repeat. Win confidence the old fashioned way, earn it.

    • You just made the skeptical argument perfectly. The physicist was in fact wrong, because he foreclosed all possible mechanisms but one. This is exactly, and I repeat exactly the flaw in the climate “consensus” argument; cherry-picking the greenhouse and Clausius-Clapeyron mechanisms, and ignoring all else, and then trying to apply the process of elimination.

      That’s a very good answer to both questions; we don’t know.

  35. Curious Canuck

    Desmog at that, this one has no shame at all.

    Feels like the AGU in is waging a War on Republicans and has officially abandoned all pretext of belief in proper science to show how just how much they ‘mean’ what they insist on. That right or wrong doesn’t matter so long as can dictate policy.

  36. John Kannarr

    In part 5, the Conclusion to the Kahan et al paper, we are told that: “As ordinary people learn more science and become more proficient in modes of reasoning characteristic of scientific inquiry, they do not reliably converge on assessments of climate change risks supported by scientific evidence. Instead they more form beliefs that are even more reliably characteristic of persons who hold their particular cultural worldviews.”

    I suggest an alternative interpretation: Perhaps people who “belong” to a group whose members are more apt to be skeptical of claimed knowledge do in fact look more closely at the evidence, and thus are more likely to discover that there is indeed evidence debunking the claimed scientific consensus/preponderence of evidence. Likewise, those who belong to a group whose members are more inclined to accept without question the claims made by supposed experts are less willing to examine the evidence closely, for fear of being swayed in their beliefs.

    “Citizens who hold hierarchical and individualistic values discount scientific information about climate change in part because they associate the issue with antagonism to commerce and industry. That association is aggravated when a communication identifies carbon-emission limits as the exclusive policy remedy for climate change (Kahan in press). Individuals are prone to interpret challenges to beliefs that predominate with their cultural community as assaults on the competence of those whom they trust and look to for guidance (Kahan, Braman, Cohen, Gastil & Slovic 2010). That implication—which naturally provokes resistance—is likely to be strengthened when communicators with a recognizable cultural identity stridently accuse those who disagree with them of lacking intelligence or integrity.”

    Parts of the above may be true – accusations of stupidity or dishonesty are hardly likely to engender cooperation, or even listening to those who think that such accusations constitute legitimate argument – but the error in thinking by Kahan et al remains their assumption that skeptics are skeptical due to group-think, rather than by critical analysis of the evidence and arguments of climate scientists. That, of course, is the entire thesis of Kahan et al. They simply refuse to consider that skeptics may have valid points, and so the researchers have to search for other, perhaps unconscious but nonetheless faulty, reasons to explain skeptical reactions instead.

    Condescending and demeaning, as I said earlier.

  37. Well, one reads:

    ‘citizens’ failure to converge on the best available scientific evidence on how to promote their common welfare.’

    Head ’em up, Move ’em out, Yeehah, Rawhide!
    ==================

    • Brand ’em with a circle D.

    • Cecil Coupe

      Thank you kim! That’s the best laugh I’ve had in a long time. We all need humor to find perspective and reduce our self importance to manageable levels.

  38. Lindzen, Spencer, and some others catch a lot of heat for attempts to verify climate models by some of the more modern, more accurate measures, but I believe they are moving in the right direction. Temperature, CO2, or precipitations reconstructions have many issues that are well known. But modern instrumentation is making possible characterizations of the climate system that were heretofore impossible.]

    The comparison of the temperature profile of the atmosphere to that predicted by climate models is a good effort, and the climate models have come up short. Now we are getting heat and temperature profiles for the oceans. Those can be compared to predictions of climate models as Spencer has attempted.

    Even the Lindzen and Choi paper can be useful to validate climate models. This, in spite of shortcomings in the methodology WRT the determination of Earths climate sensitivity. Data from the climate models can be processed the same as in the paper. The major forcing/response timings found by L&C should be the same for a successful model. The limited sensitivity determined by L&C should be the same in a successful model.

    Using modern measurements of air temperature, incoming/outgoing radiation, and ocean temperature/heat content should provide much more robust techniques of climate model validation.

  39. I would stand by my original comment (linked near Agnostic’s reply to it in the original post above).
    https://judithcurry.com/2011/06/25/week-in-review-6262011/#comment-79839
    Both Mooney and JC have emphasized the educational part of the study when by far the greater predictor of a person’s stance on AGW risk is their political view, almost to the exclusion of education (at least in the US). That would be my take home message, and it leads to a discussion about why politics matters in climate science opinions, with the secondary conclusion that the preconceived notion that skeptics are less literate and numerate is wrong. Of course, literacy and numeracy are necessary but not sufficient conditions to form a firmly founded opinion on a complex branch of science.

    • You will note that I have posted more than once almost the same point, verbatim, w.r.t the “take home message,” (to the point of using the same term of take home message).

      Of course, literacy and numeracy are necessary but not sufficient conditions to form a firmly founded opinion on a complex branch of science.

      Particularly when you consider how they determined scientific literacy and numeracy.

      https://judithcurry.com/2011/06/28/mooney-on-kahan-on-skeptics/#comment-81038

    • “…it leads to a discussion about why politics matters in climate science opinions….”

      Politics matter in “climate science” opinions because climate scientists have joined with their patron politicians to push a political agenda. Take Hansen’s and Schmidt’s and the IPCC’s drive for cap and trade, carbon taxes and decarbonization off the table, and you can have the purely scientific debate the CAGWers always claim they want. BUt they have no intention of doing so. That would defeat their whole purpose.

    • andrew adams

      Agreed, and I don’t really accept Agnostic’s argument that things are totally different here in the UK.

      Yes it’s true that all three major political parties accept the mainstream scientific position on AGW although UKIP, the most significant minority party on the right, had (and may still have for all I know) Christopher Monckton as it’s scientific advisor. And it’s probably also true that the position of the general public is not quite so polarised. From debates I’ve had on general political blogs (ie, where the participants are probably a bit more representative than those who comment on climate blogs) it is apparent that may people on the right do accept the mainstream scientific position to varying degrees, although there are still few people on the left who are skeptical.

      But having said that, if one looks at the coverage in the media then the left/right split becomes much more apparent. The publications which tend to promote skepticism are all on the right – the Daily Mail, the Express, The Daily Telegraph, The Spectator. The prominent “skeptical” voices on the opinion pages are again all firmly on the right – Melanie Phillips, James Delingpole, Christopher Booker, both Nigel and Dominic Lawson etc.

      So I think it’s wrong to claim that the phenomenom of seemingly ideology-driven skepticism on the political right does not exist in the UK. Yes, it is less prominent than in the US because of the different traditions of right wing thought in our two countries – the right in the US is more fundamentally pro-free market, anti-state and tending towards libertarianism whereas such attitudes are less common in the UK, although they have probably increased in recent years. But my experience is that AGW skepticism is disproportionately represented amongst people here who do subscribe to such a world view.

      • Well, you might have disagreed with my assessment but you did a great job of describing it! :-)

        I agree pretty much with your post. But the distinction is so strong in the US it seems to me to be a mistake to make generalizations about the connection between political views and AGW views based solely on the shape of the debate there.

  40. I think this all misses the point. Ideology trumps rationality for many people, and there are more ideologues among intellectuals (including those who are scientifically literate) than elsewhere, sociopolitically.

    I’m not suggesting that right-wingers are more ideological than left-wingers, just that they are more ideological on this issue.

    I suppose this does trump the belief among many of my fellow CAGWers that it’s all the media’s fault or if only people understood science better. Having an ideology doesn’t make you an ideologue, but being an ideologue is IMHO the core issue.

    • Just because CAWGers don’t discuss their politics does not mean their politics do not play into their views nor does it mean their politics does not distort their science. At a minimum, left-wingers will find acceptable solutions to societal problems by the government, even desirable. At worst, their need to demonstrate global warming may, subconsciously or otherwise, cause them to bend their results to favor warming. I noticed that not many of the participants in the political spectrum test a few posts back were liberals. It’s almost as if they believe if they keep quiet about it, no one will notice how their politics affects their science and especially the interpretation of it.

      • Jim – how many of the “believers” posting at this site hide their political orientation?

        Seriously. You’re trying too hard.

        What’s next – “I know you are but what am I?”

      • It appears the skeptics more readily admit their political orientation. I don’t believe that is much of a stretch.

  41. Michael Larkin

    Hmm. So we have a bunch of non-scientists writing a paper in the frame of mind that accepts as a given the reality of the alarmist viewpoint.

    In a way, I suppose that makes sense since the alarmist viewpoint has long held the kudos, and these guys, not being scientists, should have reason to feel confidence that orthodoxy (as judged by the pronouncements of authority figures) is correct.

    However, if it isn’t correct, then the premise of the whole thing is worthless.

    It would be equally skewed if the orthodoxy were anti-AGW; then, doubtless, they’d be just as amazed that the AGW crowd were more scientifically literate than expected.

    What I’d love to see is the issue addressed in a truly dispassionate manner by a bunch of agnostics. The main problem there, of course, might be that agnostics don’t typically get fired up enough to analyse specific issues.

    Is there a single agnostic climate blog out there, to which hordes of uncommitted agnostics flock every day?

    • Michael,
      The problem is not quite that simple. There is no simple linear scale of running from AGW advocate to skeptic with agnostics in the middle. In general, what you find are that skeptic views are individual. Each skeptic with a specific concern or set of concerns. Even worse, the strongest AGW advocates tend to label anyone who might reasonably be categorized as an agnostic as being a skeptic for merely asking questions.

  42. I guess it is asking too much of the unquestioning warmist devout to present the scientific facts, show their work, their data, and for complete honesty, cost in real terms as well as an estimate of jobs and industry sectors lost to nations not looney enough to follow our lead.

    To be honest I think it would be more efficient if they would simply confiscate our paychecks and keep us from spending our wages on the wrong stuff.

  43. Theo Goodwin

    Saint Judith, you have done it again. You have taken a topic, judging rationality of belief formation in society at large and its applications in climate change debates, which has a history of both flacidity and incoherence and you have extracted the best from it and made all the sense of it that can be made. One of your most important claims is the following:

    “Mooney gets it exactly backwards: the reason we have climate skeptics is because of overconfidence in the IPCC conclusions.”

    Yep, that’s it. I do not have time to discuss the matter at length, but permit me to point out that you raised the absolutely critical point that no one doing a “rational judgement formation study” could bring himself to raise, namely, what do you do if one position being studied has in it elements that are irrational and aggressive. You cannot do a rational study on rationality while assuming that an irrational position is rational.

    The IPCC and Pachauri have put forth a train load of nonsense that never should have seen the light of day and they defended it as the best peer reviewed science. Sorry, but those claims were lies. Climategate showed that scientists conspired to lie so that they could publish desirable conclusions rather than conclusions constrained by their actual data.

    You deserve the greatest credit for quoting bloggers who have stated absolutely clear and helpful requests for assistance from the pro-CAGW community and who have received nothing but scorn. I have read all those bloggers for years and know them to be sincere in their search for truth and quite capable of understanding all of climate science, except for the Gaia Models which for some time have been idiosyncratic works of art rather than science.

    I have a standing challenge to any and all climate scientists. Produce one reasonably well-confirmed physical hypothesis that you or your colleagues have created and that goes beyond the work of Arrhenius by providing explanation and prediction of some “forcing,” such as cloud behavior, that is necessary to produce dangerous warming beyond the harmless warming explained by Arrhenius. There are no such hypotheses. Until there are such hypotheses, no scientist worth the name should claim that there is a science of dangerous AGW, a science that goes beyond Arrhenius. The existence of such a hypothesis is the gold standard for scientific understanding and achievement. Our pro-AGW crowd are not phyiscal scientists. Models and the simulations they produce provide no scientific explanations and and no scientific evidence.

  44. Theo Goodwin

    The label “sceptic” is really a misnomer in this debate. The label “sceptic” is too easily associated with doubt and has the ring of “doubter.” Those of who create arguments against pro-AGW positions are really critics. Science is the critical enterprise par excellence. Some scientist proposes a hypothesis as explanation for some phenomenon and all scientists criticize that hypothesis. That is the only way that science progresses. So, first and foremost, we “sceptics” are critics.

  45. Those of who create arguments against pro-AGW positions are really critics. . . . So, first and foremost, we “sceptics” are critics.

    Mooney (mis)quotes this line from the famous poem:

    A little Learning is a dang’rous Thing;
    Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring:
    There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain,
    And drinking largely sobers us again.

    Good line. Apropos of your self-identification, here’s another:

    In Poets as true Genius is but rare,
    True Taste as seldom is the Critick’s Share;
    Both must alike from Heav’n derive their Light,
    These born to Judge, as well as those to Write.
    Let such teach others who themselves excell,
    And censure freely who have written well.

    http://poetry.eserver.org/essay-on-criticism.html

    • Theo Goodwin

      Very interesting. Thanks.

    • Theo Goodwin

      Very interesting. Thanks. I have a friend who is a brilliant literary critic and who has not recovered from the wound she suffered when she found that Plato declared poetry to be the product of divine inspiration and forbade it a place in his perfect state.

  46. The median educational level of study’s representative sample of 1,540 Americans was “some college.” Yet, page 21 of the study says only 12% answered the following question correctly:

    “A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?”

    I am flabbergasted if only 12% of Americans answered this question correctly. Did I misread or misinterpret something?

    • So what is your answer?

    • I am a math teacher and I am not surprised at all. The extinction of math knowledge and understanding after even relatively short periods is a constant problem. And the ball costs ‘five hundredths of a dollar’ – God’s way of reading a number lol. There would be a lot less problems with math if people just read their numbers properly. The bat, of course, costs one and five-hundredths dollars. Point-oh-five be damned!

      • Chip,
        Math questions like this always amuse me. The problem, of course, is that magic word ‘more’ after the price of the bat. Most folks scan as they read stuff like this. While quite a few of folks will miss the ‘more’ concept even if it was emphasized, many more are likely to miss it simply because their speed reading did not catch it. The difference is in the target of the sentence. A scientific paper would emphasize the ‘more’, expressing it explicitly. A math test often employs small tricks like this to challenge the student. Assuming those who answer the question as ten cents are ignorant of math and unable to understand the underpinnings of climate science is not valid. Detailed structural analysis of each sentence as one is reading a paper of climate science is not common for even climate scientists.

    • Where is that store?

  47. I’m not telling, but I’ll give you a multiple choice:

    A. 5 cents

    B. 10 cents

    C. 10 dollars

    • Well if it’s your answer then the answer is that the 12% that got it correct must be wrong because the are against consensus. Only a Greenpeace approved scientist can tell.

      • Jeez, I give you three choices, one of which is obviously wrong, and you don’t want one of the other two.

      • Jeez, I ask a simple question and you want to beak the I-asked-you-first rule

      • M. carey,

        The green answer is C once you add in the environmental costs and it’s carbon foot print.

        Is American baseball really sustainable?

    • Cecil Coupe

      Oddly enough Martha, now that I think about it the answer is ‘Damn! Infinity again’ to paraphrase Matt Briggs blog tagline cartoon. Sadly I’m only a dumb skeptic so it takes me a little while to catch on to rhetorical trick questions.

      I bow to your awesomeness at misdirection. Watch your back, though, Joshua and Robert are skilled hijackers and are angling for top Trolll. What ever happened to d64? I hope he’s OK.

  48. The last comment from the original post hits home for me in the UK. Bishop Hill is a libertarian in politics, that is where the blog started. See the Manifesto link which itself is not something most would disagree with but most of us manage to have a political stance without one.

    He tries occasionally to pull the blog back that way but mostly that is usually ignored by the followers. Anthony Watts sometimes drops standards and starts with “left = green = AGW” stuff which is just stupid and annoying on what is usually otherwise an interesting place.

    There was a comment on Bishop Hill a while ago, maybe a month or so, when it got a little “left vs right” in the comments. The poster said something like “can we drop the left wing thing, I lean to the left, and read the Guardian but I can tell the difference between Hitler and a reader of the Daily Mail” – and this was one of the most vocal skeptics.

    I was struck when an AGW debate raged on a, of all places, a car website recently and due to my neutral-leaning-to-skeptic viewpoint I somehow became a member of a right wing clique of foaming republicans. When phrases like ‘conspiracy’ and ‘government’ started coming out it was time to come clean, so to speak.

    As for Mooney, to paraphrase what a real scientist said recently – there are some people’s writings that I no longer read.

    • You can’t seriously be saying that WUWT is not inextricably linked to a political orientation, are you?

      Take a look at his recent post commenting on Gore’s Rolling Stone piece.

      In it, he disagrees with everything that Gore has to say (of course, that’s a given). He clearly thinks that Gore has no credibility. Anything that Gore says, by definition, is wrong.

      Ok, but then when Gore criticizes Obama, Anthony says (I’m paraphrasing) “On the positive side, Gore criticizes Obama.” And what is Gore’s criticism of Obama? That he hasn’t done enough w.r.t. climate change. Anthony doesn’t agree with the criticism – but it is “on the positive side” that Gore is criticizing Obama. The content of the criticism doesn’t matter – what matters is that Obama is being criticized.

      In other words, politics trumps everything. And that, my friend, is where the tribalism originates.

      • Joshua –
        In other words, politics trumps everything. And that, my friend, is where the tribalism originates.

        If you didn’t know that, you haven’t been paying attention. The conversation here, as on every climate blog, is almost entirely political because climate change is NOT about science – it’s about politics. And your constant whining about it won’t stop it or even slow it down.

      • Jim,

        How unfair of you. What could be political about massive energy taxes, regulation of all fossil fuels to the point people cannot afford to use them any more, massive government funding of industries that cannot compete in a free market, strangling the coal industry (first, with oil and natural gas to follow), transfer of sovereignty to unrepresentative international agencies, and redistribution of wealth from developed countries to developing countries? All controlled by our sophisticated, intelligent, caring politicians and bureaucrats. Can’t you see that it’s all just about the radiative physics?

      • Gary –
        One of the first lessons I taught my children was that life isn’t fair. They’re apparently teaching their children the same lesson. :-)

        But I also taught them to be honest, to tell the truth, to not take any c**p from anybody, to protect the innocent and hang the guilty. IOW, I could be your basic Neanderthal, but I’m not – I have a different, more complex alter-ego/rep.

        sophisticated, intelligent, caring politicians and bureaucrats

        Now that’s an oxymoron. :-)

      • Theo Goodwin

        There is political orientation and there is political orientation. WUWT does not have a right wing political orientation in the sense that it does not have some set of right wing goals regarding policy or science that it is dedicated to promoting. In talking about Gore criticizing Obama, Anthony is scoring the evolving debate. He is saying that the pro-CAGW crowd seems to be turning on itself. Celebrating the fact that propagandists for false views are falling apart says nothing about one’s political orientation.

  49. Charles Darwin said:

    “To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact.”

    He was wrong. I will fix it for him:

    “To kill an error is ALWAYS a better service than the establishing of a new truth or fact.”

    • I agree, and that’s why I spend more time looking back on my life for errors than I spend trying to figure out where I’m going. NOT !

      • M. carey,

        You obviously do not understand.

        No looking back! No trying to figure out anything about the past.

        It’s about existing errors of the present. Anything built upon the errors will be wrong and to no purpose. So, it’s crucial to kill the errors.

  50. I guess I really shouldn’t be so surprised that only 12% of study’s representative sample of 1,540 Americans answered the following question correctly, since it’s a bit tricky and at quick glance can be misinterpreted to mean the bat cost $1.00.

    “A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?”

    I am, however, surprised only 21% of the respondents answered the following question correctly.

    If Person A’s chance of getting a disease is 1 in 100 in ten years, and person B’s risk is double that of A, what is B’s risk?

    • To put it in terms used by the pharmaceutical industry – B’s chance is 100% HIGHER THAN A’s. Ask your doctor about flimflamazam at your next visit.
      OK, its 2.

    • I should ask you for your answer on this one too, just for discussion purposes. But to make it interesting/amusing/annoying lets try multi choice
      A) a 2 in 100 chance in ten years
      B) a 1 in 50 risk in ten years
      C) a 1 in 100 risk in five years
      D) a 2 in 100 risk in ten years
      E) a 2 in 200 risk in ten years
      F) I need more information
      G) It depends on how much renewable energy is being used in 10 years

  51. It’s interesting that Mooney was an English major because one of the key rules for writing made by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch was “murder your darlings.” What it means is that if there is a particular part of your writing you are exceedingly fond of, you can’t be objective about it and that means it’s probably not nearly as good as you think it is. The climate science community has fallen into that trap and in defending its darlings, it taints the rest of the work.

    Instead of reassuring me, consensus made me uneasy. I think of the pitched battles held in all other major sciences and wonder what could make climate science look and act so differently from much more established fields. One conclusion could be that climate science is really good but the more logical one is that there is something seriously wrong with the system.

    Mooney expresses concern that intelligent sceptics only seek to knock down climate science. My worry is that most of that demolition effort comes from outside the science and very little from within and every external blow is resented with a passion or mostly ignored. Even writers know the value of the editor. The second pair of eyes that refuses to let you get away with shoddy or merely inappropriate paragraphs and characters. If it’s good enough for writers, surely it’s suitable for the most important issue of our time and shouldn’t intelligent people like Mooney recognise that?

    We can’t continue to rely on a self funded, self motivated opposition to climate science. There is a need for an external force that seeks to slay the cherished darlings and only then will be able to see clearly what holds together and what doesn’t.

  52. “Mooney gets it exactly backwards: the reason we have climate skeptics is because of overconfidence in the IPCC conclusions.”

    You might have gone further – Mooney, risibly, attributes scepticism, inter alia, to the decline in public scientific literacy. He should be grateful – it is precisely that decline which has allowed his latter-day druidism to take hold to the extent that it has.

  53. Jack Hughes

    O/T

    Cooling causes warming

    Yes those Catlin adventurers are back again this year with another climate paradox:

    Data from Catlin Arctic Survey 2011, collected during an eight-week expedition from March to May, indicates the temperature of Arctic seawater below 200 metres depth has decreased by a ‘surprising’ one degree Celsius in comparison with previous observations.

    This may conversely be accelerating the Arctic sea ice melt, …

    So the drop in temperature is causing the ice to melt. Hmmm. Do they know which way is up?

  54. Joe Lalonde

    Judith,

    If the theories were any good from evidence, then skeptics would not have a leg to stand on.
    But scientists chose the route that we are gods and must be listened to rather than listening to any outsider that is not in the clan ship that they created.

    Mars can tell us a great deal on why their climate failed if you knew what you are looking for.
    Also, ocean heat has missed another area that if it did not exist, the oceans would be a great deal colder.

  55. tempterrain

    I think you have missed a basic point from Kahan et al.:

    blockquote>On the whole, the most scientifically literate and numerate subjects were slightly less likely, not more, to see climate change as a serious threat than the least scientifically literate and numerate ones.

    Max

    • tempterrain

      No I have already said that this is quite possible. To give another quote “Citizens who hold hierarchical and individualistic values discount scientific information about climate change in part because they associate the issue with antagonism to commerce and industry.”

      I must admit that I don’t have any more than anecdotal evidence for saying this, but my fellow engineers, more so than scientists, do tend to hold these kind of values. This view is, IMO, consistent with the observation that the denialist blogosphere is represented by a disproportionate number of engineers in its ranks.

      • I will be more than happy to give one layman’s (mine, of course) reasoning behind my skepticism:
        The argument that they make to insist that AGW is both a fact, and that it is a huge threat to the existence of humans, is based in large part on hypotheses drawn from models (my understanding). However, there seems to be reluctance to release the material used to develop the models, such as the actual code, or in some cases even the data that was inputted. In my line of work, if you can’t support your conclusions with actual data that can be readily accessed by other users and/or customers, you will soon be looking for a new job.
        So, until they are more open about their methodology, and less inclined to be patronizing to us unfortunates who weren’t smart enough to get degrees in the correct scientific fields, I will continue to be skeptical about their results. In the words of a famous man, ”Trust-but verify.”

        To tempterrain,
        I REALLY resent being lumped in with engineers!

      • tt –
        This view is, IMO, consistent with the observation that the denialist blogosphere is represented by a disproportionate number of engineers in its ranks.

        That part is true –

        but what you overlook is that it’s the engineers – and the IT types – who have the training, the practical experience, the math/statistics background and, in many case, the science background, to properly evaluate the c0nsensus claims and conclusions. Of all the skeptics resident on this blog, how many of them are ignorant, unintelligent, stupid or uninformed? So – why do your people keep on saying they are?

  56. Judith Curry

    I would generally agree with the post you quoted by “Agnostic” on the view of the Swiss regarding the environment, personal freedom and the global warming debate.

    He describes the Swiss as “conservative socialists”. I would modify that slightly:

    They are “conservative”.

    (By US standards) they are more “socialist” than the USA: for example help to the needy or disabled is provided by the local, cantonal and federal government (as it is in the USA) but the social safety net is stronger than in many US states, since about 10 years medical insurance (through private firms) is mandatory, the equivalent to the FICA “social security” tax is not capped (so large earners are subsidizing the system), a supplementary retirement plan is mandatory, with the employer contributing a portion, etc.

    But in their “hearts” the Swiss are all “libertarians”: individual liberty has historically always been very important, most issues are handled on a local or cantonal (rather than a federal) basis, the individual and corporate communal plus cantonal tax is much greater than the federal portion and the direct initiative system keeps the Swiss directly involved in political decisions. There is strong grassroots resistance felt by a majority of Swiss to a creeping increase of federal government.

    On AGW I have discussed this with many Swiss (primarily those who have a university education). Most agree that AGW is probably a reasonable theory per se, but that the threats have been greatly exaggerated and AGW does not represent an existential problem requiring immediate corrective action. The issue has been politicized here (as it has everywhere) and the more left-leaning parties (Socialists, Greens) tend to be more concerned (and ready for “action”) than the centrist or right-leaning parties, who generally give AGW politically correct lip service but do not see the need for immediate corrective action.

    Right now the Swiss appear to be more concerned about nuclear plant safety and long-term energy supply issues (following Fukushima and the Swiss government decision to gradually phase out nuclear power generation).

    Just my take on this.

    Max

    • Max, I would completely agree with your assessment on this. My only point is that my concept of ‘socialism’ is possibly the European concept, which is simply a system that encourages society to work together for the common good, and capitalism arbitrated by the state. In switzerland there is a great deal of support for local enterprise, even if it is not the most economic choice. This to me is a instinctive socialism which I find to be a striking feature of Swiss society.

      My experience with AGW there is entirely at the everyday Joe level. I get the strong feeling that it plays well to their sense of having to save for a rainy (or not as in AGW possibly) day, of guarding against a possible threat, something they have been conditioned to do over the centuries.

      By contrast, I talk to the odd bricky, cab driver, or everyday Joe here and I am surprised to find a great deal of ‘instinctive’ skepticism. A common response is “it’s cycles, innit?” and on asking how they formed their opinion, the response is typically, “it just must be” despite the overwhelmingly pro-AGW press here telling them otherwise. This suggests to me that the press here is not regarded as being objective or accurate, which in my opinion is a pretty wise position.

      My overall point is that skepticism does not have the strongly political demacartions that seem to be prevalent in the US. I am very liberal in my politics, I believe in a strong united EU, in tighter regulation of markets, that free Market is not the answer to everything, in a strong UN, and pretty much every other tree hugging thing you can imagine. I also thought for a long time that even though the scientific case for AGW was dubious, it presented a wonderful opportunity to bring the world together to act for the common good. I now believe that to base it on a premise so fundamentally flawed is extremely dangerous. The path to he’ll is paved with good intentions….

  57. Alexander K

    Mooney is wrong on all sorts of counts. My own experience as a teacher of the practical and theoretical disciplines in the Fine Arts was invariably that the students who wanted to know what they were doing ‘wrong’ were the ones who could make real progress as they recognised their own limitations. Mooney, due to his obvious arrogance and certitude, sees the AGW argument as being correct and therefore cannot make head nor tail of sceptical attitudes and has assigned them to faulty politicisation because he cannot conceive the notion that he may be wrong.
    He must develop some scepticism of his own if he seeks understanding of scepticism, or, as my Arts students once did, look at what he is doing ‘wrong’.

  58. Beth Cooper

    Where’s the climate scientist who will respond to Theo Goodwin’s elegantly worded challenge … where?
    “Science is the critical enterprise par excellence’ so why not offer those crirical sceptics out there testable hypotheses in place of tipping point scenarios purporting to be science.’

    • Theo Goodwin

      Thanks, Beth. Getting Warmista to discuss scientific method is not so much like pulling teeth but more like finding and removing that last cancerous cell.

  59. James Gardiner

    This is an incredibly polarising issue in the blogosphere for reasons I don’t understand. I first come the lack of tolerance for healthy skepticism on an economics blog, whose denizens were mostly left of centre and most of whom I agreed with on most things. Having read yet another headline-hungry academic making yet another overblown remark about fossil fuel companies undermining climate science I remarked that climate science had become yet another substitute religion for some. I was absolutley amazed at the haranging I received from people whose views I had come to respect. Amazed mainly because their arguments had no logic whatsoever behind them: It was plain abuse. They want to believe in thermageddon and they feel better than you just because they believe and you don’t. But it’s worse than a religion: I’ve not yet been so abused from a follower of any faith.

    For some reason, despite the massive amount of evidence that too many scientists are routinely overly optimistic or overly pessimistic in a variety of fields over mere spurious correlations, it just doesn’t seem that you are allowed by these smug hypocrites to be skeptical of this latest apocalyptic claim. Yet these same people will queue up to be skeptical on any other issue, scientific or otherwise. They also somehow manage to taunt you for believing in conspiracy theories without realising that they have invented their own about fossil fuel companies.

    The experience turned me more to the centre. Not because the right make more sense – in many areas they make less sense – but because there really are two sides to every story and we should carefully listen to both rather than just being fanboys and girls for simplistic ideologies.

    But it is also an extreme oddity that politicians still do not grasp that pretending to be green is an absolute vote loser when the lumpen public finally realise who pays for the greening.

  60. Tempterrain wrote:

    And this about the economics:

    http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/Part_I_Introduction_group.pdf

    The costs of action of the CO2 issue are outweighed by the eventual costs of inaction.

    FAIL! That is an analysis (much rehashed). No data, no algorithms, no critical thinking. Once again, linear projection as an arrow shot from a bow, going from awareness of rising CO2 level to global warming with no plausible rationale in between. Characteristic of unquestioning alarmist devout thinking. If this is all you have to base expenditures in the trillions of dollars on, why did you bother having a brain of your own?

    That tail has wagged its last dog.

    • tempterrain

      dp,

      You clearly believe the costs of action on the CO2 issue are likely to be greater than any derived benefits.

      You don’t like my reference which does show the opposite to be the case. Do you have one to back up your assertion?

      PS In Australia we also have the Garnaut report which you may be interested to take a look at.
      http://www.garnautreview.org.au/update-2011/garnaut-review-2011.html

      • I cannot believe you put that link here. Did you not read it but believe firmly in it, or did you read it and believe it anyway?

        It is a compilation of IPCC/UN documents and rehashing using the very disputed data sets that have made the alarmist message a joke. Please read it again and this time read it as if you are unconvinced, and wish the author to provide proof of the many claims made. Find within the document the source data and methods used to generate the document. Study the source data and see if you can reproduce the results, or if this is not feasible, seek out those who have. Compare, decide. Don’t let others do your thinking for you.

  61. Here is an experiment for skeptics.
    Go to a UFO believer site and start posting skeptical points on UFO’s.
    See how they respond.
    The believers use the same arguments as Mooney: That debunking is not moving things along. That the skeptic is harming the cause.

    • A really interesting observation/thought experiment, Hunter.
      If there were to be a science of UFOlogy, it would have to avoid such scepticism as you suggest (this is what Kuhn says science must do to be science – it is the practice of normal science) so UFOlogists trying to build the field would be right to get annoyed with the sceptics but this isn’t the reason why UFOlogy or astrology or pseudo science are wrong – it is how successful they are at puzzle solving and how useful the puzzles are they solve and the coherence of their methods (not at all, I would suggest).
      Debunking is a different issue – climate science doesn’t use debunked arguments for very long (once they are pointed out the science moves on although they do use contested arguments) but both dogmatic supporters of the climate change conventional wisdom and dogmatic sceptics do use debunked arguments. This for me is what is wrong with much of the discussion of climate change issues.

    • Hunter,
      What a clever experiment!

      Go to a site where a bunch of skeptical people believe a load of tosh in direct contradiction to the scientific consensus, start systematically debunking their arguments, and observe how ineffective it is in changing their minds.

      Brilliant.

      Is there a formal name for this experiment? “Looking in the mirror” comes to mind.

  62. “The part about the skeptic’s culture being irrational aside, I like their basic point that the climate debate is part of a deeper debate between two general cultural groups.”

    While this is certainly valid in broad terms, the discussion’s obviously far more nuanced than say, the national argument about “Obamacare.” I do think your average conservative/libertarian leaning person is predisposed to skepticism of course, but in the end, the skeptics as a movement if we can call it that, derive their energy and legitimacy from the science. .This is a far cry in my opinion from the usual values fights about abortion rights and prayer in school and especially lately, socialism.

    That your typical liberal alarmists nevertheless do think in terms of “we the enlightened” vs “they the moronic” locks them into a kind of unyielding blindness. They’re no more going to enter into an open-minded discussion about global warming with a skeptic than they would about intelligent design with a religious fundamentalist. I see this as the fundamental problem in opening up the alarmist mind. It’s almost impossible.

  63. Judy,

    A skepticism of experts and their predictions is a key commonality of why political conservative/libertarians are also skeptical of the so-called climate science “consensus”. An increase in intelligence, education, and experience increases the degree of skepticism. I don’t have time to read all the comments. My apology if I am plowing the same ground.

    As Tetlock showed and Gardner has expanded, experts are no better than chimps throwing darts when it comes to predicting the future. The core contention of leftwing politics is the idea that government expertise knows better how to prepare for the future. The core contention of climate alarmism is that self-appointed scientific “experts” can predict the future of climate. Given the extraordinary mountain of evidence that the chimps are afflicted with far more hubris than they are blessed with wisdom, skepticism is the only logical choice.

  64. An increase in intelligence, education, and experience increases the degree of skepticism.

    Would you mind elaborating on your evidence linking “intelligence” to doubts about the risk of climate change?

    Because someone intelligent like you (as made obvious by your conservative/libertarian political orientation) would never make such a link, particularly a causal link as you have argued, without having evidence to back up the assertion.

    Right?

  65. Michael Leunig is a lovely man in every way and everyone who knows him, likes him very much. I never drink and it is the middle of winter here.

    Certitude in the midst of complexity and variability seems an ambitious goal. I quote Tim Palmer, head of the European centre for mid range forecasting – that the data is uncertain, the models are uncertain and the future is uncertain.

    Much of the ‘recent warming’ occurred in 1976/1977 and 1998/2002 ENSO ‘dragon-king’ events. Much of the rest was a result of cloud changes in ISCCP and ERBE data, in Project Earthshine and in COADS cloud observations on the Pacific especially. Even initialised models are projecting no warming for a another decade.

    It comes to Occam’s razor. – which is simpler to believe? That they have roos loose in the top paddock or are as thick as 2 short planks.

  66. From the point of view a person that accepts with little reservation the main stream views the wring of Mooney appears totally logical. His view that certain level of science related education makes many people overconfident in their capability to judge science certainly true as long as we don’t specify what “many people” means.

    At the same time it’s true that better understanding of science may also make some other people more knowledgeable on their limits in judging the correctness and reliability of scientific results.

    My own judgment accepts most of the main stream climate science (area of IPCC WG1), but I’m not happy on the way it’s presented and even less happy on the way many use the science in defending their pet approaches to climate policy.

    To me the basis for determining appropriate climate policies is far from clear. When all the difficult issues that are subject to IPCC WG2, WG3 and to the interface between IPCC work and policy choices are taken into account, nobody can present simple rules or well known science that would give the correct answers. When this the case “alarmists” tried to short-cut the process. They felt that they must do their best to convince decision makers. When they had no change of doing it properly, they tried to do it by cheating (knowingly or not). I have no doubt that most of these people believe honestly that they are basically right, that it’s indeed important that everything possible is done to mitigate climate change, and more. (By more I mean that attempts to mitigate are done even, when there is no guarantee that the acts make any dent in emissions.)

    The aggressively pro main stream blogs appear to have had influence in both directions. Many people have used them to learn more, and they do contain much useful material. But Sven and other contributors in this thread are not alone in being transformed to skeptics by these blogs. Their arrogant style and unwillingness to accept even mildly skeptical comments, if they don’t have good arguments to counter them, are certainly enforcing skepticism.

    When the policy process is understood properly, less certainty is needed from the climate science, but the balance of all information used must be sufficient to justify, whatever is decided. Reaching the proper balance requires good understanding of many complex problems involving risks and other uncertainties. The experience from earlier decision making under uncertainty doesn’t help very far, because the issues are so different that novel approaches are needed. The IPCC expert meeting that I mention in another comment may have discussed some relevant issues, but I don’t think that IPCC is the right body to for analyzing these problems.

    • Pekka, well said

    • Pekka Pirila,

      “His view that certain level of science related education makes many people overconfident in their capability to judge [the climate] certainly true as long as we don’t specify what “many people” means.

      At the same time it’s true that better understanding of [the climate] may also make some other people more knowledgeable on their limits in judging the correctness and reliability of scientific results.”

      I think the principle of that part of your comment is quite correct. My editing of it is just to suggest how I think it may apply in the area of climate science differently than you may intend (and certainly the opposite of what Mooney maintains). I would take the first sentence as applying to the consensus, and the second to skeptics.

      The only thing that I would disagree with in your comment is: “When the policy process is understood properly, less certainty is needed from the climate science, but the balance of all information used must be sufficient to justify, whatever is decided.” Given the policy stakes, I can’t see why “less certainty is needed.”

      Why would you want more certain science to raise the gas tax by 1%, than you would to decarbonize the entire global economy?

      Your last comment, “I don’t think that IPCC is the right body to for analyzing these problems,” I couldn’t agree with more.

    • Let us turn this around a bit, and see if it holds up under scrutiny.
      First look:
      The poll shows that more well educated people are more likely to doubt AGW.
      That means that less well educated are more likely to believe AGW.
      Second look:
      More well educated people are holding back progress on AGW agenda items.
      That means that AGW depends on ignorance to accomplish its policy goals.
      A small meander:
      It is widely claimed by believers in AGW that the IPCC serves a very valuable and important role in promoting AGW.
      Yet the IPCC has no COI policy.
      So the AGW movement depends on ignorance and unaccountable power to promote its agenda.
      Holds up pretty well,I think.

    • I think Pekka has provided a very reasonable assessment of how legitimate concerns about climate change have been overshadowed by overstatements that damage the credibility of the individuals who make them. The failure of some partisans to acknowledge uncertainties has backfired. Like Pekka, I find the basic science, as described in WG1, to be sound. The mitigation scenarios in WG3 are something he, as a reviewer can evaluate well, and something I would like to understand better than I do. The WG2 description of the consequences of anthropogenic climate strike me as a mixed bag – some are convincingly documented, and others asserted on the basis of more flimsy evidence. How we move from the science to the consequences, and from there to remedial actions poses a vexing challenge.

      I’d like to suggest an additional perspective on decision making in the face of less than full certainty. The challenge has sometimes been described as a choice between action and inaction, but that is misleading. If one were to make a case for inaction, it would be the following: “We don’t completely understand the full consequences of rising CO2, so let’s not put any more CO2 into the atmosphere until we gain a better understanding.” Obviously, that is not a viable proposition.

      The true options all entail action – on one extreme to continue our current energy policies unaltered, and on the other, to embark on a rapid, drastic transition to an alternative energy future with little or no emissions of greenhouse gases. A variety of in-between scenarios have been discussed in these threads, typically involving the pace of transition.

      These action scenarios are forced choices, which is to say that whatever choice we make will have consequences. The main reason for this resides in the long atmospheric lifetime of excess CO2 from anthropogenic emissions. Although individual atmospheric CO2 molecules exchange with oceanic and terrestrial reservoirs over the course of a few years, the dissipation of excess is far more prolonged – equilibration within the upper ocean over decades, but full ocean equilibration, buffering by sedimentary carbonates, and eventual carbonate restoration via weathering proceeding over the course of centuries to thousands and ultimately hundreds of thousands of years. The decision to continue to add CO2 to the atmosphere is therefore a decision to live with the consequences of that additional CO2.

      The evidence for various choices has been discussed here many times, and will probably be discussed many more, although not in this comment. Rather, my main point is that any choice that we advocate must be justified. It would be illogical to require those advocating a particular action scenario to justify their choice, while claiming that no justification is needed to support the alternative action scenario that we prefer. Each will have consequences – both climatic and economic – that cannot easily be reversed, with perhaps some of the climatic consequences capable of persisting for many centuries. Even the true inaction scenario I cited above – no more CO2 until we understand it better – would have obvious consequences, but it is the more realistic scenarios entailing action that deserve our attention.

      • John Carpenter

        Fred,

        I agree with a lot of what you say here. Figuring out a way to ‘change’ our methods for producing energy addresses not only the potential climate issues but also finite resources problem, dependence on unfriendly areas of the world problem, energy independence (national security issues) problem, as well energy stability problems. We agree that our current energy policies/strategies are weak, you are more concerned with the environmental consequences while I am more concerned with our economy and national stability. They are both legitimate energy concerns from different POV’s and the fix to each is in many ways similar. This kind of agreed middle ground is where progress could be made, IMO, between those who disagree with what we believe the state of climate science is at this time.

      • Jack Hughes

        Hi John,

        Problem is that the analysis does not help to find solutions. For example one solution to “unfriendly regimes” would be to burn through the Saudis’ and Russians’ oil first and save our own oil for later on when we will have some and they won’t.

        And making common cause with unlikely allies can lead to the “baptists and bootleggers” debacle:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bootleggers_and_Baptists

      • John Carpenter

        I concede that potential solutions to the ‘problem’ that I would endorse are probably different from Fred’s. I am looking for common ground where agreement between different sides to the argument can be found in ways that benefit both. The Bootleggers and Baptists analogy is interesting and has some merit. Some compromise has to be considered from both sides if there is to be headway towards a change in our energy policies. It may be naive of me, but I like to give it a try every now and again. Fred is one who will discuss differences of opinion w/o getting personnel or snarky, so I engage in some ideas with him from time to time. If Fred replies, perhaps he can offer a few solutions he would endorse and we go from there.

      • Jack (also John) – I’m not sure what you had in mind , Jack, by “solutions”. My comment was not intended to argue for a particular action, but to emphasize that changing our sources of energy is one type of action and adding large amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere is also a type of action. Both actions can have enduring consequences, because once the CO2 is up there, we can’t take it back if we don’t like the results. (This differs from emissions of anthropogenic aerosols, which have lifetimes of days or weeks). What I was suggesting, therefore, is that whichever action one advocates requires that specific action to be justified.

        Elsewhere, I did outline my take on a reasonable future course, at Comment 80214.

      • Fred,

        ” no more CO2 until we understand it better ” or no more lousy evidence until we understand evidence better. You don’t even understand it better and you say no more CO2, logical dysfunction?

    • It is my view that the (general) left-wing political views of some scientists causes them to jump to mitigation rather than adaptation. If you want to talk about using knowledge and intelligence, what about the subject of effective mitigation? We would, as a world, have to step back into the Middle Ages to significantly impact the effects of CO2 (provided you believe it is actually a problem.) How do you explain intelligent scientists making the mitigation proposal?

  67. –>”…Perfecting our knowledge of how to achieve this state should be a primary aim of the science of science communication.”

    The best way to communicate across time and cultures is to start by protecting the integrity of the scientific method. And, scientists must stop giving shelter to liars and tools.

    Legitimate science requires honor. Otherwise, there is no respect for truth and the ends will always justify the means.

    Global warming alarmism is nothing but a tool. The tyranny of the Left and the means they use to achieve their desires are nothing new in the history of humanity.

    The Left wants to be humanity’s new gods so badly and in that they have succeeded. The Left wants unlimited power: (1) to make you do whatever they want; and (2), to change the meaning of ‘whatever’ whenever they wish.

    And, to these ends, the Left has turned English into a liar’s language: the Tower of Babel is leaning awfully. No one outside the West is listening anymore. Capiche?

  68. “The poll shows that more well educated people are more likely to doubt AGW.”

    The group polled was not very intelligent group to begin with. Remember, only 21% of the group answered the following question correctly:

    “If Person A’s chance of getting a disease is 1 in 100 in ten years, and person B’s risk is double that of A, what is B’s risk?”

    It would be more accurate to say among a group of people who were on average less intelligent than scientists, the more intelligent of the group were more likely to doubt AGW. .

    • Gotta say, M., your use the term “intelligent” is ill-informed. Ability to answer that particular question does not = a measure of intelligence. Similarly, hunters use of the term “educated” is similarly mistaken. The test they used is informative in some ways. Is it really a test of scientific literacy and/or numeracy? Arguably, but possible. Is it a measure of “intelligence” or “education?” No.

  69. Chris got the point of it, actually. It is you who did not, Judith.

    You are unable to consider the cultural influences on your own discourse, even though you try to analyse what has influenced the discourse of science.

  70. Quoting from the study…

    “Our data, how-ever, show that as individuals become more science literate and more proficient in the mode of reasoning featured in scientific inquiry, they don’t reliably form beliefs more in line with scientific consensus. In-stead, they form beliefs that are even more reliably correlated with those of the particular cultural group to which they belong.”
    _____

    I hope that isn’t true. It suggests knowledge is used to reinforce biases rather than seek truth.

  71. Martha says to Judith.
    “Chris got the point of it, actually. It is you who did not, Judith.
    You are unable to consider the cultural influences on your own discourse, even though you try to analyse what has influenced the discourse of science.”
    I won’t speak to whether this is true of Judith. I think the statement is generally true so long as one acknowledges that it applies to both sides of the debate. The presuppositions and worldview one brings to the table have a great influence on how one interprets science and even a greater influence on how one makes important decisions in an uncertain enviroment.

    M. Carey says: “I hope that isn’t true. It suggests knowledge is used to reinforce biases rather than seek truth.”

    Avoiding “confirmation bias” is a difficult problem that applies to both sides of the debate. As I read through the comments, I find it somewhat amusing how so many people on both sides think these issues so clearly apply to the “other side”

    • In the case of anthropogenic global warming and its potential risks, the evidence doesn’t support opposite confirmation biases.

      • In the case of anthropogenic global warming and its potential risks, the evidence doesn’t support opposite confirmation biases.

        Of course it does. Otherwise we wouldn’t all be here supporting our individual biases.

      • If the evidence were equal that would be true, but since it ain’t equal, that ain’t true. The evidence of AGW is compelling, unless your ideology blocks evidence you don’t want to believe. That’s the difference between Hawking and Limbaugh. Ok, just one of the differences.

      • he evidence of AGW is compelling

        If that were true there would be no debate and none of us would be here. We’d all be out doing something useful with our lives.

      • AGW is compelling to the feeble and easily persuaded.
        As the poll indicates, better education and thinking skills leads to skepticism of AGW.

      • Smearing a conservative commentator is your way of rationalizing you’re not biased.

        Your bias can be seen on your shoulder, 10 miles away while hiding in the woods.

      • M.carey,

        Any substantiated AGW evidences? Yet to find one!

      • And just whose bias do you propose we support?

  72. Average IQs makes as much sense voting in Leftists to grow an economy that is strangled by liberal fascism and hatred of business and individual liberty. Freakolitics is giving over the power to control of scarce resources to Leftists based on average global temperatures.

    Those who use an average global temperature to mislead and deceive scientific-illiterates for ideological purposes, or who use the concept of a global temperature as an excuse to continue staring at the shadows on the wall instead of venturing outside their superstitions to find truth outside Plato’s cave, are the same people who refused to acknowledge the existence of the LIA and the MWP. They are the same people who make up stories about polar bears dying from the heat.

    Global warming alarmists are the same people who refuse to acknowledge any fact that might conflict with their preconceived beliefs about AGW, while accepting the misuse of statistics, and the misuse of debunked graphs like the broken ‘hockey stick.’ Climate of doom politics is the misuse of unverifiable GCMs to perpetrate an irrational fear of human-caused global warming. The AGW True Believers are the same misogynists that would discourage 15-year old genius like Kristen Byrnes (‘Ponder the Maunder’) from being real a truth-seeker instead of a victim of charlatans and snake-oil peddlers.

    What with the AGW True Believers issuing death threats and pushing climate porn on the children, Kristen Byrnes was able to expose Al Gore as the king with no clothes and it should come as no surprise by now that continued global warming fear mongering only makes all of the Leftist look like Chicken Little full of hot air—‘LOSING’—as the Earth experiences a cooling trend over the next 3 to 7 decades.

  73. If people form beliefs consistent with “those of the particular cultural group to which they belong,” I suspect most birthers were gloabal warming deniers.

    • OK – where’s your evidence?

      • No evidence. I can “suspect” without presenting evidence, and that’s what I suspect. My reasoning: both global warming deniers and birthers are likely to be Republicans, and I see the GOP as a cultural group.

      • But I’m neither a birther nor a Republican.
        And I’m certainly a skeptic – but not a denier.

        You need to re-calibrate your intuition.

      • Why should the term “denier” as it has a specific insulting meaning by those who use be an acceptable form of comment? In liberal culture and lexicon many words adopt this form; gop, republican, talk-radio etc. etc.

        Many important skeptics are in fact left of center, they get thrown under the bus all the same. I can only assume Dr. Curry is left of center as well. There are many people who see the radical fringes of the establishments they generally support but can it really be argued which side is generally more hateful?? People choose to dissent to those who oppose them by calling the other side “holocaust deniers”??? How about depicting children being blown up for not accepting IPCC consensus (10-10)?

    • You apparently do not realize that what you say you ‘suspect’ is realy a tacit admission that global warming is nothing but politics. Otherwise, I suspect it would not be a Left vs. Right issue now, would it?

      • Rising global temperature from man’s activities is no more political than gravity, but there is political opposition o to doing anything about it, opposition which manifests itself in denial it’s happening or will be harmful.

      • Rising global temperature from man’s activities

        Partially but not entirely true. The CO2/temp relationship is in question, as are other effects. The evidence is NOT compelling – it is uncertain.

        is no more political than gravity,

        Is not true. It’s been made political by those who would use it as a political weapon.

        but there is political opposition o to doing anything about it,

        Not true. There is political opposition due to the nature of the proposed actions and the fragility of the case for action.

        opposition which manifests itself in denial it’s happening or will be harmful.

        Not true. Opposition is based on a lack of evidence supporting harm and the inability of advocates to justify the actions they propose.

      • Do we have a a climate formula relating to co2 to warming that matches Newton’s Laws of Gravity and Motion?

        Who do you think is really in denial M. Carey???

      • cwon14,

        AGWers have modeled results as their evidence without doubts. M.carey was unable to answer your simple straight forward question and chose to hide Like Chicken Little.

  74. M. Carey says:
    “If people form beliefs consistent with “those of the particular cultural group to which they belong,” I suspect most birthers were gloabal warming deniers.” . . .”No evidence. I can “suspect” without presenting evidence, and that’s what I suspect.”

    You don’t think that this might just be an example of “confirmation bias”.

    • Pauld,
      m.carey is just hoping to troll the thread and get it detoured insto some gutter where he feels at home.

    • Pauld, I think it’s an example of rational thinking.

      • Rational thinking doesn’t miss/ignore/dismiss pertinent information. You do.

      • Does that mean you disagree with me, and think birthers were no more likely to be AGW deniers than American’s in general?

      • I know a lot of skeptics – none of them are birthers. AFAIK, only alarmists assign that relationship – and alarmists know little or nothing about who or what skeptics are.

        In fact, the only birthers I know are Democrats. Maybe I should get out more? :-)

      • What percentage of the communist party would list carbon regulation as a progressive step and support IPCC findings and alarmist agruments?

        Birthers and creationist rhetoric is another sign you have lost the science debate.

      • m. carey,
        It only means you think like an easily led, mostly befuddled troll.

  75. OT, but current. UAH ch05 starting to look like unwelcome news for coolers.

    http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/execute.csh?amsutemps

    • M.carey. Your link would not open for me. I go to

      http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/execute.csh?amsutemps+002

      I look at this. It was updated on 27th June. Why is it unwelcome news for us deniers?

      • Because your very strong La Nina pop has perhaps pooped out.

        2002 (not working)
        Higher than 2003
        Higher than 2004
        Higher than 2005
        Higher than 2006
        Higher than 2007
        Higher than 2008
        Higher than 2009
        Lower than 2010, but gaining fast.

      • The June 2011 temperature rise is shaping up to be one of the sharpest June rises in the ch05 record. But ch05 isn’t the only determinate of UAH monthly temperature, so we will have to wait a week to see.

      • I have no idea what JCH is talking about. What is higher?

        M.carey. You are taking about one month of temperature. sarc on. I thought we needed to wait for 30 years before we could detect a trend. sarc off.

        With CO2 levels continuing to rise, and as I pointed out earlier on this thread, there is no political will to stop burning fossil fuels, CO2 levels are going to go on rising into the indefinite future. So, according to the proponents of CAGW, world temperatures are supposed to go on rising as CO2 levels rise. June 2011 is still likely to be lower than June 2010, and there is no sign that global temperatures are increasing in the 21st century.

        I dont expect to see a significant drop in global temperatures before 2020; maybe with modern temperature measurements, we might detect significant cooling by 2015, but, IMHO, this is doubtful. However, as long as global temperatures fail to rise with increasing CO2 levels, then CAGW will be seen to be a hypothesis with no hard data to support it. That is all we deniers can ask for in the immediate future. But please remember, there is no heat in the pipeline. .

      • JCH is saying June 2011 may turn out to be the warmest June in the UAH 2003-2011 record, based on ch05.

        I said: “The June 2011 temperature rise is shaping up to be one of the sharpest June rises in the ch05 record.”

        So. JCH and I are saying the same thing.

        Because the “Coolers” or “Coolist” believe temperature will decline, what’s happening in June 2011 is unwelcome news to them.

        Proponents of CAGW don’t believe temperatures will rise in lock step with rising CO2. Natural cooling and warming influences will at times moderate or enhance the warming effect of C02, as they have in the past, which is why you haven’t and will not see the correlation you seek.

        I would like average global temperatures to stay close to where it is now, so I wish further increases in CO2 levels would not cause more increases in global temperature. But I don’t base my conclusions on wishful thinking, and sometimes have to accept what seems most likely rather than what I want.

      • andrew adams

        It’s interesting that global temps have rebounded so sharply after the La Nina but to be fair I think we should avoid making claims based on one month’s data – it’s the kind of thing we criticise the skeptics for doing.

      • What you are talking about I have no idea. I went to

        http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/t2lt/uahncdc.lt

        and copied some June global temperatures. This is what I found

        2010 6 0.39
        2009 6 -0.01
        2008 6 -0.12
        2007 6 0.16
        2006 6 0.12
        2005 6 0.22
        2004 6 0.02
        2003 6 0.03
        2002 6 0.32
        2001 6 -0.01
        2000 6 0.00
        1999 5 -0.17
        1998 6 0.52
        1997 6 -0.05

        The rise from 1997 to 1998 was 0.57 celsius degrees. Can you elaborate what you are talking about.

  76. I’m sorry my link to UAH ch05 doesn’t work. Hopefully, you can find ch05 at

    http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/amsutemps.html

  77. The Leftists of AGW alarmism will do anything to destroy capitalism even if means denying prosperity to humanity worldwide.

    The True Believers of Leftist ideology worship a transitive logic: the Left would assume to power by sucking it away from individuals.

    The worst thing about the politics of the global warming hoax for those who are not Leftists is watching the culture die.

    The Left that opines about the modern age causing global warming nightmare wouldn’t dream of considering the misery, poverty & death caused by secular socialism.

    Humanity has always adapted to changing climate—hot, cold, wet and dry—by making use of stored energy like…wearing fur, burning fuel, etc.

    Adaptation is the only rational response to nature. Only Leftist hypocrites burn 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to go and plant a single tree on Earth Day and then expect the rest of us to put our faith in their good judgment, especially as we all see California is going Greek.

    With the Leftists’ pogrom against capitalism and the liberal corruption of the culture, cities across America have been driven to the brink of bankruptcy. Much like GM was driven into debt by the unions, more and more resources are being diverted from the productive to fuel a bigger and bigger secular, socialist Big Government and the doomsday-dropout factories of the Education Industrial Complex.

    Western academia has done more than any other institution to foster the climate porn industry and the reason why is simple: green greed.

    Left demands power over the futures of the productive. That’s what socialism is all about and the global warming nothing but a simple-minded hoax being used by the Left as a scare tactic to achieve their Marxist Utopia.

    • I just love these kinds of posts.

      • Are they sillier than the posts, books, articles and news reports about skepitcs being funded and run by a vast conspiracy of oil and right wing interests?

      • hunter – I’m beginning to think that the reason you keep repeating the “Mommy, mommy, they do it to” rhetorical technique is that’s the only technique you know about.

        Assuming I’m wrong, maybe just to change things up a bit and add a little variety – you could try using something else for a change?

      • Joshua,
        That is a non-responsive answer, like most of your posts.
        I did not say, ‘mommy they do it too’. I asked if it was sillier.
        But you can keep pretending otherwise, because it is clear you have much unused capacity when it comes to actually thinking. Or perhaps limited potential?
        Time will tell.

      • hunter – let me spell it out for you.

        “Posts, books, articles and news reports about skepitcs being funded and run by a vast conspiracy of oil and right wing interests” has no direct bearing on the ludicrousness of Wagathon’s post.

        Your response to my expression of appreciation for his post — by asking about what other people have written — constitutes a “mommy, mommy, they do it too” line of defense.

        The first step towards correcting for the monotone nature of your rhetorical repertoire is accepting your addiction to the “Mommy, mommy” form of rhetoric.

        Remember, I’m always here to help, hunter.

      • has no direct bearing on the ludicrousness of Wagathon’s post.

        Of course it does, Josh. You’re saying it’s permissible for one side of the debate to say or print anything they want while the other side (Wagathon) has to sit down and shut up.

        What you fail to understand is that both sides have thier conspiracy theories – and some of them are not fantasy.

        hunter’s question is entirely valid. Can you answer it? More than that, can you refute Wagathon’s view of the world? Or is that what shakes your tree – that you can’t?

        If you don’t like it, don’t read it, Josh. It’s bad for your blood pressure.

        And your kindergarden level “mommy, mommy….” whining is just another way of trying to shut up the opposition. But then, I rejected that argument long ago and far away in another universe.

      • Joshua,
        You guys get stuck on stupid and think it is overdrive.
        Best wishes, gotta go burn a lot of gas on a nice ~1300 mile road trip.
        But thanks for the offer of help. If I saw any semblence of improvement of your abilities, I might ask for some ideas. But I am an optimist.

        Cheers,

      • tempterrain

        Wagathon,

        You should try writing up some pro-science posts. Its amazing. The first time, you get an email from the UN, (World Government Project Dept) asking for your Paypal or bank account and from then on every time you say something in favour of the IPCC or AGW theory generally, you get a payment which is usually at least $100.

        Give it a try and let me know how you get on. :-)

      • Joshua, you seem to me to be a one trick pony, with your “mommy” line. Could you take your own advice and try using something else for a change?

      • andrew adams

        Yes it is. Those books, blogs etc actually provide evidence to back up their assertions.

  78. You can destroy capitalism by burning less fossil fuel. I’m helping save capitalism by leaving my lights on all night, and making lots of unnecessary trips in my car.

    • “I’m helping save capitalism by leaving my lights on all night, and making lots of unnecessary trips in my car.” – Al Gore

      • PLAGERISM ! Darn that Al Gore, cutting and pasting my comment like it was his. Now, he’s taking after that Wigwamman or whatever his name is.

      • lol.
        Everyone knew it was a joke.
        Al Gore only takes unnecessary private airplane trips.
        ;^)

      • hunter,

        Al Gore also left his limousine air cond on even he is not in the car.

  79. In a nutshell we literally have this nutcase-indulgence of Leftist ideology by an army of Western secular, socialist neurotics. This army of anti-Americanism has a produced a culture-wide mental fatigue that has sapped the physical strength of the society which in turn has given birth to an ethic that glorifies in producing nothing but inactivity.

    The rest of humanity cannot afford the luxury of paying taxes to fund an army of self-defeating nihilists who do nothing but lecture the productive on what we will do, what we will have, and how we shall live. Obviously the IPCC believes it is ‘very likely’—i.e., there is a ‘greater than 90 percent likelihood’—that America is destroying the world with global warming caused by human CO2 emitted from the tailpipes of SUVs.

    Of course, the Official Science of the government science authoritarians at the EPA already has been falsified by reality because human CO2 has gone up whereas global temperatures have gone down. Interestingly, even the IPCC admits temperatures hit a plateau.

    • Wagathon said:
      “Of course, the Official Science of the government science authoritarians at the EPA already has been falsified by reality because human CO2 has gone up whereas global temperatures have gone down.”
      ________

      Wegathon, you may be interested in a scientific experiment I have done at home, which is relevant to this issue.

      In filling my bathtub from the hot tap I have noticed the rising water temperature in the tub hits a plateau and then declines after I open up the cold tap. The lack of correlation between the water temperature in the tub and the water coming out of the hot tap falsifies the notion hot water makes my bath warmer.

      But as much as I have tried, I can’t get the bath to the warmth I want without using the hot tap. This probably has something to do with magic or voodoo.

      BTW, if you try this experiment, be careful not to burn yourself.

      • If I understand you correctly, you are telling us you know what causes global warming: it’s the sun, stupid.

      • Wag,

        There’s warm, and there’s warmer.

        The sun warms the globe.

        CAGW makes the globe warmer than it would be if not for CAGW

      • M.carey,

        CAGW cannot make the globe warmer, only spreading hoax to scare people.

  80. As I posted on Mooney’s blog I would argue that the result of the study is consistent and utterly understandable. Those of us for whom science is a vocation are used to dealing with uncertainty. Our work requires us to establish the relative risks and propose approaches to either mitigate risk or address the root causes of the risk. Doing this for a living I find it incredibly hard to fathom the approach of those who espouse a level certainty that exceeds the methodology.

    For the scientifically literate the greenhouse effect is undeniable as is the logic behind the hypothesis that increased concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane etc… should enhance the effect with a commensurate effect on global climate. Unfortunately, the purveyors of CAGW don’t stop there. They insist that models with recognizable limitations will somehow produce nigh-irrefutable outputs and choose to omit serious considerations of uncertainty.

    For those of us used to seeing error bars; levels of significance based on testing; and qualifiers in reports the outputs from much of the field of climate science is frustrating to say the least. In the IPCC reports we are presented with levels of confidence which are nothing of the sort. They are unsupported by statistical rigour and while they may be correct are not in the least reproducible. Were I confident that the “confidence levels” were reliable I would argue that immediate responses were necessary and “damn the expense”. However even in the original version of the Precautionary Principal from Rio there is a qualifier for cost-effectiveness: “In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”

    As a numerate and scientifically literate individual I am skeptical, not of the science, but of the purveyors of the message. I do not deny the plausibility of the results, but I do not believe the unsupported and unsupportable spin placed on those results. I will not seek to beggar my neighbour when I have absolute certainty that it will have no net effect on the global picture. Until someone presents a plan that can be demonstrated to have a reasonable opportunity to have a significant effect I will not be pushing for immediate action on the climate change front. That doesn’t make me a denier it makes me a realist. Instead I will push for increased resources to be allocated to projects that have the potential of demonstrable and definable positive outcomes like ecosystem restoration and preservation.

    • kingbslair, it sounds like you believe burning less fossil fuels would be a bad thing for the environment, and a carbon tax would not be useful for other worthy things such as paying down the national debt, reducing income tax rates, and subsidizing American exports.

      • Not sure how I got kingbslair as a handle on my last post and it is even less clear how you got that impression from my posting. I accept that humans are having an effect on the climate but I do not believe that we have a handle on how bad it is going to be and whether feedbacks will speed up or slow down the process. Regardless, working to reduce the use of non-renewable resources is always something to look for in energy alternatives.

        What worries me at this time is that we have areas where we know that funds can make a real, demonstrable difference and instead the funds are being directed to an area that has a better press agent. Protecting endangered habitats and ecosystems will provide a benefit under both the best and worst case scenarios from the GCMs but frankly if I had to burn more fossil fuels to avoid building another bird killing fields..ooops we call them wind farms…then I would gladly do so.

        Blair

  81. Mooney is thicker than a brickies sarnie.
    Who gives a flying fox what he thinks?

  82. M. carey | June 29, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Reply

    kingbslair, it sounds like you believe burning less fossil fuels would be a bad thing for the environment, and a carbon tax would not be useful for other worthy things such as paying down the national debt, reducing income tax rates, and subsidizing American exports.

    What exports under a carbon tax?How do you compete with countries,and that’s nearly all,under the yokel of a carbon tax,plus high wages,plus all other government taxes?
    If a carbon tax is so great for the economy,why do countries,especially China refuse to impose one?

    • Noelene,

      1.Subsidize exports that are put at a competitive disadvantage because of the carbon tax.

      2.Charge a carbon import duty on goods from countries that aren’t trying to reduce emissions.

      3. Item #2 makes consumer goods more expensive, but item #1 creates jobs.

      4. We don’t know exactly what China is doing or will do.

  83. Left out that other countries do not have a carbon tax.

  84. The global warming True Believers have been reduced to simply parroting the AGW theory hypotheses which essentially is nothing more than—e.g., ‘Wait to see if our predictions come true; you’ll see then. Until then, you must take what we say on faith: trust us, we want to help!’

    Everyone understands that GCMs cannot be offered as proof of their predictions. They are offered for that very reason by the global warming alarmists but that’s insane science. We all understand by now that the models of the True Believers have simply been ‘tuned’ through the use of parameters to mimic observations, after the fact. We also understand that the forecasting ability of the GCMs is demonstrable and that is why they can never be validated (they fail the hindcasting test). Moreover, the statistical significance of reductionist models that are constructed in this manner can never be asserted because the degrees of freedom can never be known.

    Additionally, the research that McShane and Wyner put forward in 2010—unlike the work of UN-approved science authoritarians—can be duplicated by others to verify their conclusions. There is no question: MBH98/99/08 (the ‘hockey stick’ graph) is scientific fraud. M&S showed that the data upon which the GCMs are founded contain absolutely no global warming ‘signal’ whatsoever.

    Phil Jones admitted that there has been no statistically relevant global warming since 1995. Jones acknowledges—as does Kevin Trenberth—that the Earth has been in a cooling trend for a decade. Trenberth says it’s a ‘travesty’ that ‘we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment.’ He’s still looking for it to turn up in some deep ocean crevasse because he’s so sure he can’t be wrong.

    The ONLY compelling convergent evidence we see in the area of climate change science is the picture of collusion and corruption in the field of paleoclimate. The foi2009.pdf disclosures of CRUgate may be painful to see but only charlatans will to hide from it, and hide previous interglacial warming, and hide the decline, and run from the truth, and continue to dismiss the corruption of science.

    Lying to the people worrying about where in the ocean a killer heat wave may be lurking—just waiting broach the surface and toast the Earth is just the latest ‘climate porn’ that Western academia has been pushing in the classrooms. Trenberth’s fears of Thermagoddon is nothing more that the sort of fearmongering scare tactics that we’ve seen liberal fascists use before to stampede the herd.

    The global warming alarmists not only must pretend to believe that global temperatures will be warmer than now in 30-50 years—they must also pretend to believe that the Earth will be disastrously warmer. An exaggeration based on a delusion: the Leftists are preaching that we must destroy America to protect the world from a catastrophe.

    Moreover, we all must accept that even if America commits economic suicide, the global warming alarmists’ predictions of doomsday cannot change. We know that Brazil, Russia, India, China–they’re all getting a good chuckle at the self-defeating and hypocritical ideology and energy policy of Western Leftist-libs.

    At this point in the history of the global warming hoax, the secular, socialist Utopia of the Left cannot be mistaken for anything other than vacuous nihilism. Global warming alarmism is simply a symptom of cultural and societal dysfunction.

  85. I am very disappointed with M.carey. He put an OT message about UAH temperature data, which seemed to me to be completely wrong. The data simply did not support his contention. I have pointed this out, politely, as I respect Dr. Curry too much to be rude on her blog. Now, M. carey has made two new postings, but completely ignored my latest, which attempts to point him to where he is wrong. So far, no response. I hope Dr, Curry follows this sort of thing. I am sure she wants to encourage a scientific discourse between the proponents and opponents of CAGW. But if one side leaves the field of battle without the issue being settled, it does not encourage scientific discussion.

    • Jim Cripwell,

      Get use to these AGWers attitudes of hiding which are far better than lie to the general public.

  86. Rob B..

    In case you’re interested in my reply to your question, I’ll repost it here:

    I’m guessing your comment was directed to me.

    Granted – the connection between my comment and Judith’s comment is somewhat tenuous – but such as it is…..

    Since I’ve been reading this blog, I’ve seen Judith herself make disparaging remarks about the “climate establishment” (a term she declined to define, to my recollection) – for example she indicated that she thought it was “highly unusual” for members of that group to openly acknowledge uncertainty.

    So at least at that level I find there to be some inconsistencies in her approach to said members of the “climate establishment.”

    As to the link to Wagathon’s remarks:

    In addition to being an excellent place to read well-reasoned debate from a variety of perspectives on anthropogenic climate change, Judith’s blog is also a repository from political rants on the issue that make categorical accusations about climate scientists (based on conspiracy theories and the failed logic that is consistent with conspiracy theories).

    While Judith puts up many posts that are critical of political influences on the “consensus” view of climate science, I don’t recall any posts critical of the political influences on the “anti-consensus” viewpoint. Further, even beyond not posting on that topic, I can recall only one time that she openly stated anything critical about the nexus of extremist conservative perspectives and the “anti-consensus” viewpoint (a throw-away line about an “anti-consensus” blogger that she balanced with a similar reference to Joe Romm).

    Day after day we read comments like Wagathon’s on this blog, and Judith never seems to feel that they merit her attention, or that they represent an element in the larger debate that diminishes, to any significant degree, what she feels is a “vast asymmetry” in the manifestations of political influence on the different sides of the debate.

    Is it Judith’s responsibility to clarify her perspective vis a vis all the politically-oriented comments on her blog? Certainly not. Obviously, she doesn’t always comment on politically-oriented posts supporting a “consensus” perspective either – but she do so at least sometimes – such as when someone like Martha posts, and she regularly offers posts that clarify her disagreement with politicized input from the “consensus” side of the debate.

    Compounding that – I find it strange that Judith rarely (never?) – openly on her blog at least – calls into question the kinds of categorical statements about a “consensus” viewpoint and members of the “climate establishment” as exemplified by Wagathon’s posts.

    When day after day I read rants like Wagathon’s, with no direct response from Judith, It leaves me confused about her perspective when she then welcomes the input of someone she stands by and watches slandered so regularly.

    • I shouldn’t have used quotes around “highly unusual” – and I apologize. I meant to paraphrase and got sloppy. Here is what she actually said:

      The authors of this paper are members of the climate establishment, in terms of being involved with the WCRP CLIVAR Programme and also the IPCC. This paper arguably provides more fodder for skepticism of the AR4 conclusions than anything that I have seen from the climate establishment (the authors may not realize this).

      What I objected to was the implication of her assumption that the authors “may not realize” that acknowledging the difficulty of separating natural and anthropogenically forced decadeal variability would provide fodder for skepticism.

      https://judithcurry.com/2011/04/07/separating-natural-and-anthropogenically-forced-decadal-climate-variability/

      • Joshua –
        What I objected to was the implication of her assumption that the authors “may not realize” that acknowledging the difficulty of separating natural and anthropogenically forced decadeal variability would provide fodder for skepticism.

        And I thought I was done here –

        OK – so you object – but you fail to tell us why you object. I’m not objecting to your objection – you’ve not given any reason for that. But you’ve given no reason for your objection either.

        There’s also the question of why you would put your comment on this thread rather than the one it came from. I’d suggest starting over – on the proper thread – but that’s probably a lost cause too.

    • Joshua –
      Since I’ve been reading this blog, I’ve seen Judith herself make disparaging remarks about the “climate establishment” (a term she declined to define, to my recollection) – for example she indicated that she thought it was “highly unusual” for members of that group to openly acknowledge uncertainty.

      So at least at that level I find there to be some inconsistencies in her approach to said members of the “climate establishment.”

      OK – you’ve got me confused. Why would you find that “inconsistent”?

      Either you missed something or I did but after reading it 5 or 6 times, the light still hasn’t come on.

      For the rest, it’s Dr Curry and Wagathon’s prerogative to answer you – not mine.

      • People who make public statements about climate change (think Trenberth, Mann, etc.) plus many spokespersons for institutions such as the IPCC, AAAS, NAS do not talk about uncertainties, and regard people that challenge the consensus science as “deniers.”

        I do not include in the “climate establishment” individual scientists who are uninvolved in the IPCC and/or do not make public statements in support of the IPCC consensus. So you can be a scientist that supports the consensus but not be included in the group that i refer to as the “climate establishment.”

      • It seems to me that 90% probability acknowledges uncertainties – although obviously not to an extent you consider sufficient.

        So, are you saying that as long as they don’t make public statements supporting that there is a consensus among climate scientists that GW is A with a 90% probability?

        What about if they make a public statement that a considerable majority of climate scientists believe that GW is A with a 90% probability?

        Is it the fact of making a public statement? Overstating the certainty? Overstating the level of consensus?

      • you can acknowledge uncertainty without any realistic assessment of the uncertainty. Most of the public statements from the climate establishment do not use the “U” word. With regards to what individual scientists believe (who actually participated in the IPCC AR4), there are surprises (the topic of a future post). Yes overstating the certainty and overstating the consensus

      • The issue that drives many of us to drink is the fact that the IPCC states their statistical probabilities without any basis. When you state something is significant to a selected significance there should be some form of significance test be it parametric or non-parametric. The IPCC does not and that is simply wrong.

      • People who make public statements about climate change (think Trenberth, Mann, etc.) plus many spokespersons for institutions such as the IPCC, AAAS, NAS do not talk about uncertainties,

        Just came across this below, and given what you write above, I thought you might want to comment.

        From the “Science of Doom” blog:

        In 1997, J. T. Kiehl and Kevin Trenberth’s paper was published, Earth’s Annual Global Mean Energy Budget. (Referred to as KT97 for the rest of this article).

        For some reason it has become a very unpopular paper, widely criticized, and apparently viewed as “the AGW paper”.

        This is strange as it is a paper which says nothing about AGW, or even possible pre-feedback temperature changes from increases in the inappropriately-named “greenhouse” gases.

        KT97 is a paper which attempts to quantify the global average numbers for energy fluxes at the surface and the top of atmosphere. And to quantify the uncertainty in these values.

        […]

        The paper states:

        […]

        Despite these important improvements in our understanding, a number of key terms in the energy budget remain uncertain, in particular, the net absorbed shortwave and longwave surface fluxes.

        […]

        The purpose of this paper is not so much to present definitive values, but to discuss how they were obtained and give some sense of the uncertainties and issues in determining the numbers.

        http://scienceofdoom.com/2011/06/21/whats-the-palaver-kiehl-and-trenberth-1997/

      • yeah that was back in 97, the tune has changed

      • Once again, Judith, you seem to be a bit intemperate with your language.

        “(think Trenberth, … do not talk about uncertainties,

        Words count Judith – especially when your blog is full of right-wing political rants/arguments about climate science.

        I think that the positive effect of your efforts will only be magnified if you take the time and care to be specific and precise in your language. I think that your the negative effects of your efforts will only be diminished when you fail to take the time and care to be specific and precise in your language.

      • And btw – the more I think about it, the more I think that the comment you deleted was, in fact, originally posted in an appropriate location. The political rant I posted was directed at a group that includes the scientist who responded to your post.

        You seem to want to have your cake and eat it too, Judith. You frequently refer to your “denizens,” for their expert counsel, and you have often stated that “We already discussed that on XYZ thread” as if it is dispositive in dealing with a question. Included in your “denizens” are quite a few folks who categorically demean the work of all climate scientists who support the “consensus” perspective – and who base their denigration on a theory that is not scientific but political in its origin.

        It’s your blog and I am here at your indulgence. You are incredibly patient. But I think that some aspects of your approach lack objectivity at a number of levels.

      • The Lone Haranguer strikes again!

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘Included in your “denizens” are quite a few folks who categorically demean the work of all climate scientists who support the “consensus” perspective – and who base their denigration on a theory that is not scientific but political in its origin’

        Who? Name names.

      • Latimer Alder

        And which theory?

      • Today I have only deleted comments from the HADSST thread

      • Judith – if your hoping to moderate the tone of your blog and its apparent level of receptivity to input from scientists working in the field, then I’m afraid that deleting rants like Wagathon’s specifically from threads like the HADSST thread is building on a flimsy foundation.

      • you’re. When will I ever learn to preview?

      • I should have said

        “…..I think that the negative effects of your efforts will only be amplified when you fail to take the time and care to be specific and precise in your language”

        Ironic – eh?

      • It’s the back radiation issue that this paper raises. Some skeptics don’t believe over 300 W/m2 of IR comes to the surface from the sky. At least that is the context I am still seeing it raised in.

      • Jim because you can measure something does not mean it is important. However, my dislike of the term “back radiation” is that there is no input for back radiation in any heat transfer equation. Path and temperature gradient are necessary for heat transfer. So call it what it should be be a temperature.

  87. Well – my further explanation – after I checked Judith’s remarks relating to the “climate establishment” – should help. I should have been more careful. It is my impression that Judith makes disparaging and categorical statements about the “climate establishment.” (for example, I commented to her once that she spoke of “the scientists” in a way that was insufficiently specific – and she did acknowledge that error). I will need to be more careful about making that claim.

    Anyway – based on that impression, I find it inconsistent that she welcomes the input from a member of the “climate establishment?” but doesn’t seem to express offence to the many categorical statements at this blog about “climate scientists,” and the many explanations of how belief in anthropogenically created climate change is a “fraud” perpetrated by “warmists” to advance a one-world government.

    Maybe that will help, although I probably just repeated myself rather than clarified.

  88. Judith

    My son goes to Cambridge University-I collected him at the end of term only a few days ago. I often pass Newtons statue at his old college Trinty.
    He said this;

    “In responding to a letter from a scientific rival Robert Hooke, Sir Isaac Newton wrote;

    “What Descartes did was a good step. You have added much several ways, and especially in taking the colours of thin plates into philosophical consideration. If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

    Boy, do I feel the weight of knowledge and learning and wisdom of the great people who have bestrode Cambridge over the centuries. And I think to myself who am I to query the work of scientists who have achieved great fame?

    Newton joined the Royal Society. Their motto is
    “Nobodys word is final.” That gives me encouragement that it is our positive duty to question those who tell us that, uniquely, Climate science is the one science that shouldn’t be questioned, that there are few uncertainties, and if we query them we don’t deserve to be taken seriously and will be demeaned and slandered (our former Prime Minister called us ‘flat earthers’)

    This very new science is in fact riddled with uncertainties and inconsistencies and I for one will point out things that are much more uncertain than the climate hierarchy claims, whether it is SST’s or sea levels, or other elements that are within my areas of expertise.

    tonyb

    • The seventeenth-century modern rhetoric which rejected trust and authority signaled skepticism about ancient authority and credulous acceptance of hearsay testimony. It did not, in practice, mean the wholesale rejection of trust in other people’s narrations as an adequate basis for empirical scientific knowledge. The Royal Society’s motto-Nullius in verba-meant, in operational terms, Do not give ancient authority or indirect testimony your whole and unconditional trust.

      ~STEVEN SHAPIN, Ph.D., Trust, Honesty, and the Authority of Science

    • tonyb,

      You compared corrupted pseudo-scientists with Newton! Your standard is REALLY high!

  89. tempterrain

    Judith,

    You say “I do not include in the ‘climate establishment’ individual scientists who are uninvolved in the IPCC and/or do not make public statements in support of the IPCC consensus. So you can be a scientist that supports the consensus but not be included in the group that i refer to as the ‘climate establishment.’ ”

    So it’s acceptable to support the IPCC consensus but not to say so publicly?

    Is that a fair interpretation of your view?

  90.  “Is that a fair interpretation of your view?”

    To better understand the idea of the science establishment in the area of climate change, it may help shed some light on the matter to compare previous instances where the opinions of a community of fellow professionals of average integrity and candor were inimical to truth and to individuals of impeccable integrity and candor with an ethos of science and truthfulness. For example, consider the teachings of Malthus.

    “In the late 1950s and 1960s, a longstanding inclination among some members of the upper class was about to become a national issue. This inclination was to redefine achievements in science and technology as either evil actions threatening to nature or as futile attempts to reduce human suffering that was said to be the result of overpopulation. This tendency, partly articulated as a worldview in the writings of Thomas Malthus, takes what might be reasonable concerns over issues such as air and water quality and embeds them in an ideology deeply hostile to economic progress and the majority of human beings… The overall thrust was still clear: the U.S. and the world should move in the direction of ending population growth, and protection of the environment should be given an importance equal to or greater than that of improving the standard of living… Economic growth and technology were portrayed as problems…” ~ Dr. Donald Gibson

    Perhaps there will be a paper someday perhaps explaining how it came to be that the Left abandoned science and in their distrust of humanity sought to destroy it.