Is it necessary to lie to win a controversial public debate?

by Judith Curry

Serge Galam provides a disturbing answer to this question.

Serge Galam is the father of a field called sociophysics, which is the study of social phenomena from the physics perspectives.

A selection of Galam’s publications that provide an overview (h/t Tomas Milanovic):

The Unexpected Conference – New Trends in Sociophysics was held last November in Amsterdam.  Jeanette Haagsma has a blog post at eHumanities. Some excerpts:

The “Unexpected Conference” in Paris, November 14-16, 2011 brought together more than 35 researchers from Europe, North and South America, and Asia to present current research in the field of sociophysics.  Serge Galam, organizer of this conference and a pioneer in the field, equally reported about the repelling reaction in some parts of the physics community at the beginning of the 80s, when the verdict ‘not suitable for publication’ branded his first thoughts about what we commonly call today sociophysics. The many different presentations encompassed mathematical analysis and comparison of non-linear models, but also applications for urban development (Jean-Pierre Nadal), wine markets (Tatiana Bouzdine Chameeva), and public debates (Alexandre Delanoe) to name a few examples. All presentations showed an unbroken interest in understanding social dynamics by means of concepts and mathematical models rooted in statistical physics and computer sciences. Computational sociology, and in particular the Agent-Based Models community, are nowadays well-appreciated sparring partners for physicists; philosophers (Kate Forbes-Pitt) and physicists (Franco Bagnoli) reflected about ontological and epistemological principles of a “complexity science”.

New data sources – such as statistical information on beliefs from census data across decades  have inspired new models of social conformity (Danny Abrams), but also new approaches to understand scientific careers (Alexander Petersen).

The field has already long passed the stage of a niche for some eccentric pioneers. To the contrary, a variety of groups are working on similar questions, new generations are entering the field, and the activities across different branches of the rapidly growing science system are calling for means of integration and consolidations. The comparison of models, the use of different types of models translating from one description to another (Tyll Krueger), the reflection on the specific nature of a self-constituting social dynamics (David Chavalarias), the sharing of datasets and programs (not a standard in this field by the way); and eventually the production of proceedings, monographs and textbooks (Anirban Chakraborti) seem appropriate steps towards such a consolidation.

Links to the talks can be found [here].

From Boleslaw  Szymanski’s presentation On the Influence of Committed Minorities on Social Consensus:

  • Committed individuals hold a fixed opinion for the designated attribute
  • Committed agents accelerate consensus provided that their fraction is beyond ~0.1
From Serge Galam’s talk entitled Is it Necessary to Lie to Win a Controversial Public Debate (I am paraphrasing his points for clarity):
Public debates driven by incomplete data (include global warming)

Always, incomplete scientific data ot spare information. Necessity to fill up the missing parts to come up with a complete view of the issue from which rationally motivated political decisions can be made

Policy makers want to rely on public opinion to legitimate their decisions

It is therefore of central importance to determine if what is accepted as the complete theory corresponds to the real scientific status of the issue

Galam poses the following questions about the dynamics of public debate (not necessarily directed at the climate change debate, but certainly very relevant to the climate change debate):

  • Why have alarmists made overstatements while there exists no alternative explanation?
  • Why did alarmists succeed in getting the majority of public opinion to align along their unproved claim ?
  • Why did skeptics who adopt a rigorous scientific position without advocating an alternative claim fail (up to recently) to crystallize at least some part of the public opinion?
  • Why despite the skeptic failure has the alarmist majority been very adamant in slamming the skeptic behavior?
  • Why are alarmists suddenly and quickly loosing support in public opinion?

A perspective from the Galam sequential probabilistic model of opinion dynamics is provided below.

Consider three kinds of agents:

  • Floater: has an opinion and advocates for it, but is susceptible to shifting his opinion if warranted by new arguments
  • Contrarian: takes the choice contrary to the consensus, independently of the choice itself
  • Inflexible: never shifts opinion
The analysis recognizes two separate mechanisms in opinion forming:
  • External:  acts directly on individuals
  • Internal:  results from interactions among individuals
Considering the dynamics of internal interactions of a group of agents, Galam asks:
Will a stable collective and individual opinion emerge?
Model calculation of a democratic process show that to convince the entire population, an opinion must start with acceptance beyond 50%; the opinion then evolves towards extremism.
Adding an additional type of agent:
  • Liars: inflexible agents overstating their assessment
Galam states that the context of inflexibility depends on the nature of the problem:
  • For incomplete data debate, it is lies
  • For political issues it is conviction
  • For religion it is strength of belief
  • For individual interest: funding, career, fear
The model results, when liars are included, show that the strategy for winning a debate:
  • Produce inflexibles on your sideWeaken the basis for inflexibles on the other side
The unfortunate and disturbing conclusions:
  • To adopt a fair discourse is a losing strategy to promote a cause in a public debate
  • To adopt a cynical behavior is the obliged path to win a public debate against unfair and rigid opponents
  • Alternative conclusion: dismiss the increasing weight given to the public opinion in the process of policy making by decision makers
JC comments:  the ideas of Galam and sociophysics are new to me.  I don’t know how to evaluate the technical aspects of Galam’s model, but there are some very interesting (if depressing) insights here.  I find this framework for understanding the debate to be much richer than the ‘motivated reasoning’ framework, although motivated reasoning arguably contributes to inflexibility on both sides (and possibly to “lying”).
I am not sure about the use of the word ‘liar’ in this context; this category seems to also include the overconfident and overly concerned.  In terms of our conventional nomenclature, liars would seem to include both alarmists and deniers.  Inflexibles would include more moderate types (inflexibly convinced and unconvinced).  I’m not sure what role contrarians actually play in the climate debate, although Lindzen is arguably a contrarian.
I’m trying to put Climate Etc. into the context of Galam’s argument.  What I am trying to do is build the community for floaters, and diminish the basis for inflexibles and liars.
If Galam’s main conclusion is correct:
It appears that the decisive goal (to win the public debate competition) should be to get a lead, even small, in the respective inflexible densities.”
Then Climate Etc. is fighting an uphill battle.
I am also wondering about the applicability of these ideas to the group consensus seeking process used by the IPCC, and to what extent the inflexibles have undue influence.
And finally, the extreme polarization of the public debate on climate change seems very difficult to change; perhaps this is why President Obama is not talking about climate change, but rather framing extreme weather adaptation and energy policy in a different way.

310 responses to “Is it necessary to lie to win a controversial public debate?

  1. But.. Judith… Who rouse you actually describe ad a denier/alarmisys.. and for what reason.

    Hsnsen as an alarmist? Ie ‘when the oceans are boiling’, etc

    Name a denier.. reasons as well pls

  2. Welcome to Parlamentarian Democracy!!

  3. A subtle difference in the lairs, if you cannot win in debate because of the liars, you avoid debate with inflexible logic that cannot be debatable. Since nothing is not debatable, inflexible logic is a lie itself.

    Fancy paint for painting yourself in a corner. I think this is more sociopathic physics than sociophysics. or maybe it’s sociopathetic :)

    • I think I agree.
      The “Galam sequential probabilistic model of opinion dynamics” sounds a bit like Douglas Adams’ “wave harmonic theory of historical perception” where “time is an illusion caused by the passage of history” :)

  4. “perhaps this is why President Obama is not talking about climate change”

    Maybe even he knows a loser issue at times when he chooses. He invested in healthcare and Keynesian economic drivel, he will politically live or die on the results (sadly based on short-term emotions rather than longer-term logic).

    The eco-left peaked long ago, AGW is baggage now.

  5. Judith, you write ” What I am trying to do is build the community for floaters, and diminish the basis for inflexibles and liars.“

    I think you are missing one extremely important point. In physics, there will always be an absolute truth; the measured data. Proper measured data is something no-one can argue against. That is why the international community has spent $20 billion building the Large Hadron Collider at CERN Labs. Only when we have the actual data will we know if the Higgs bosun is real. It is fine have a community of floaters, as long as the data does not show them to be unnecessarily eager to change their minds. And if the data is strong enough, then some of the inflexibles are on the side of the angels.

    I am afraid all this fancy thinking will fall flat on it`s face in the presence of overwhelming observed data. And that, to me, is what physics is really all about. I am an inflexible, since I think that there is enough observed data to prove that CAGW is at least just plain wrong, if not a actually a hoax.

    • In the sense of models, there is no data that is perfectly correct although some is useful. The trick is to understand the limitations of the measurement.

      • Eli, you write “In the sense of models, there is no data that is perfectly correct although some is useful. The trick is to understand the limitations of the measurement.”

        I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. The only limitation to actual measurements that I am aware of, is the error inherent in making any measurement. Why there is a trick to understand error bars, I have no idea. And what models have to do with measurement, I have equally no idea whatsoever.

      • Jim, said, “The only limitation to actual measurements that I am aware of, is the error inherent in making any measurement.”

        Ah, if life were only so simple. There is sensitivity of error though to keep the spice in statistical life. A infrared pyrometer can have a manufacturers error of 0.1% of full scale. Very accurate instrument. Full scale is only 1500 degrees, so error is about 1.5 degrees. Not bad. Settling time may be 30 seconds. The aperture may has a bit of condensation of dust. The measurement may be near the low end of the range. Error is based on midrange. Now you can be fairly confident you have an error of greater than +/- 10 degrees, because that instrument is out to make you look bad. You still haven’t corrected for humidity or at the poles, emissivity variation. Now you are at +/- 20 degrees. Before long you are contemplating perpetual motion.

        Back at the lab, you have data from a few hundred infrared pyrometers from three different manufacturers, field calibrated by 100 different flunkies, er. students/employees. You use statistical wizardry to estimate the error of the data, weight the data based on the estimated error, then compare the data to other methods by other researchers to determine the same information with the same issues you have.

        Now, with some confidence you can say your interpretation of the data is accurate to x degrees +/- 7.5 degrees to a certain confidence level. So you are 95% certain your are only off by +/- 7.5 degrees attempting to determine a 0.2 degree change over a period of years.

        You wonder why people trust models? Because the real world is a beyatch!

      • Eli Rabett, use to be in the past: if you ridicule somebody unfairly; apology should follow. I’m still waiting for apology from you. Everybody can be wrong on some occasion; reason they invented ”apology” Unless you apologise for ridiculing me, without doing your homework; your credibility will be ZERO, until you do. ”METHANEGATE” is your shame. Think about that

      • steven mosher

        Jim, all measurement depends upon theory. and theory is nothing more than a model of how things work.

        you probably think a thermometer measures temperature.

      • randomengineer

        mosher — you probably think a thermometer measures temperature.

        Jim’s a physicist. He may know more about this than you do. When Jim questions the notion that a device with an accuracy of +/- 1 is claimed to be able to resolve a global temp of .01, he has a point. It’s actually 1 +/- some gawdawful 3 sigma boundry. Weirdly climate science is the only dicsipline I’ve seen where the 1 sigma band is called an “error bar” and 3 sigma is never mentioned. If this field adhered to engineering quality nobody would be allowed to open their mouth without showing something to 3 sigma reliability.

      • “you probably think a thermometer measures temperature”

        This is funny because I have seen Official Climate Science graphs that have the words ‘Temperature’ and ‘Thermometer’ in the labels.


      • steven,
        Here is one definition of a thermometer. Can you please point out where it went wrong?
        “Thermometers measure temperature, as opposed to heat.”

      • “When Jim questions the notion that a device with an accuracy of +/- 1 is claimed to be able to resolve a global temp of .01, he has a point.”

        No he has a straw man.

        The global temperature index is an estimate. Nobody who computes one, including me, believes that the index is accurate to .01.

        When I report the global average as 1.21 C
        The claim is not that we know the average to this level of accuracy.
        Rather, the claim is this: Pick any unobserved place at random. Guess the temperature before you measure it.
        The guess of 1.21 will minimize the error for this process.
        That is the operational meaning of such an average. That average is compiled by averaging known data, what it represents, is a hypothesis:
        If you select a point randomly, the estimate for the temperature at that point is the 1.21C.

        Also, you know full well that all data, all observation, all instruments used to observe depend upon theory and are theory laden. So, dont change the subject.

      • randomengineer

        mosher — No he has a straw man.

        Are you sure that you’re getting his argument? If the signal itself is within the 3 sigma limitation of the measurement apparatus, you can’t assert AGW signal residing there. For that matter the total warming signal is within the 1 sigma boundries.The anthropogenic claim is assertion, not measurement. I think the argument is one of attribution, not natural warming nor gross detectibility thereof.

      • Random engineer is correct- you can not ‘detect’ a signal that is lower than the error limits of said measurmement technique.

      • LM, Yes we can, with enough measurements, which is where statistics come in.

        Mosher, care to define temperature? The three ways Eli knows are the ancient one through the IDEAL gas law, zero volume at fixed pressure determines T=0, the thermodynamic one based on the third law that entropy of a PERFECT (ideal) crystal approaches zero as temperature goes to zero, and the Black Body curve for thermal emission of a body with IDEAL unity emissivity depends only on the temperature. The pyrometer depends directly on the last thru the Wien displacement law so it is about as close to the knuckle as you can get.

      • Bad Andrew,

        You too miss the point.

        Lets return to the Cripwell notion, where this all started.

        “In physics, there will always be an absolute truth; the measured data. Proper measured data is something no-one can argue against. ”

        “And what models have to do with measurement, I have equally no idea whatsoever.”

        The point is this: There is no such thing as data independent of a model.

        Its shocking that people need to have this pointed out to them.

      • Alexej Buergin

        “steven mosher | January 16, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
        you probably think a thermometer measures temperature.”

        A physical quantity is defined by telling how it is measured. So it is the other way around: “Temperature is what a thermometer measures”.

        To develop thermodynamics it is simpler to take a “gas-thermometer” as starting point: Temp is proportional to the volume of the gas, p const. Since it is the “Ideal Gas”, compilcations soon start.

      • I would suggest that perhaps something along the lines of ‘there is no data without measurement, and there is no theory without model” might be closer to what you are atrying to say.
        Upthread I posted a definition of what a thermometer does. If you could explain why it is incorrect, I would be appreciative.

    • Jim Cripwell
      Re: “In physics, there will always be an absolute truth; the measured data. Proper measured data is something no-one can argue against.”

      What happens when “data” runs into Orwell’s “1984” and researchers distort the evidence?

      See Steve Goddard on Hansen’s changes to the data:
      New GISS Data Set Heating Up The Arctic

      Hansen’s original data accurately showed the rapid warming during the 1920s, the 1940s temperature spike, and the rapid cooling during the 1970s. . . .
      By contrast, Hansen’s new corrected data makes no sense. He now shows early 1970s temperatures warmer than 1930s temperatures.

      He observes: “Science News wrote this in 1975”

      the weather in the first part of this century has been the warmest and best for world agriculture in over a millenium, and, partly as a result, the world’s population has more than doubled. Since 1940, however, the temperature of the Northern Hemisphere has been steadily falling: Having risen about 1.1 degrees C. between 1885 and 1940, according to one estimation, the temperature has already fallen back some 0.6 degrees, and shows no signs of reversal. Specific areas, of course, may experience changes markedly different from the average. During the warming period, temperatures in parts of Norway rose five times more than the hemisphere average, and since the cooling trend began again, Iceland’s temperature has dropped nearly 2.0 degrees, threatening continued existence of some crops.

      How are we to evaluate the validity of these “data corrections” when the author Hansen is a very strong advocate of catastrophic anthorpogenic warming?

      See: UConn Claims Resveratrol Researcher Falsified Work

      After a three-year investigation, the University of Connecticut Health Center has told 11 scientific journals that studies they published by resveratrol researcher Dipak K. Das may not be trustworthy.

      In 2008, the university got a tip about irregularities in Das’ work. The subsequent investigation identified “145 counts of fabrication and falsification of data,” according to a UConn statement. (A summary of the report is here.)

      How do we get the US Office Of Research Integrity to investigate Hansen and Mann?

      • David, you write “What happens when “data” runs into Orwell’s “1984″ and researchers distort the evidence?”

        You cannot stop anyone `cooking`the data. I am afraid it happens all the time. The key is replication. The whole idea behind proper science is that when any measurement is made, then the way the measurements were made is also described. It should then be possible for others to replicate the data. Only when measurements have been made, replicated, and the numbers match within the inevitable error, can we really say that we have proper measurements.

      • Steve Goddard finds time period evidence contradicting Hansen’s “adjustments”:
        1951 Article Blows Away The Hockey Stick And Hansen’s Temperature Adjustments

        OLD FARMS EXPOSED : Greenland’s Ice is melting and the ruins of mediaeval farm-houses hidden by ice for centuries have already been exposed. In Spitsbergen the mean annual temperature has risen by four degrees since 1912. Ships ply the White Sea and The Gulf of Bothnia three or four weeks longer than they used to. In Iceland and the higher latitudes of Norway farmers are growing barley in soil that was once frozen for seven months each year. But the coming of the new climate is more noticeable, above the world’s snow lines. Glaciers present the most striking evidence . The American geographer, F. E. Matthes, has reported that ‘glaciers in nearly all parts of the world receded regularly during the last 60 years, but especially rapidly during the 1930-40 decade.’</blockquote

      • David, H/T you for this quote. Two points about this:

        Hansen’s said,

        “Since 1940, however, the temperature of the Northern Hemisphere has been steadily falling: Having risen about 1.1 degrees C. between 1885 and 1940, according to one estimation, the temperature has already fallen back some 0.6 degrees, and shows no signs of reversal.”

        Wow! Doing the simple math thing on that, it puts the accepted 0.7C into perspective. If there was already a 0.5C rise in 1975, then basically – in spite of the Hockey Stick blade – we’ve only gone up 0.2C since 1975. That is the short version, with the only caveat being to ask what the 1885-1900 fall was. 1885 to 1910 was a most of a 30-year decline period. But in any event, the 1885-1940 rise was about 150% of what the accepted rise has been since 1900.

        Since this is before Hansen started the OTHER alarmism, one is led to believe it was if anything exaggerated in the wrong direction, from today’s perspective.

        Having gone 37 years now since Hansen said that, we now have a history of 4 half-cycles – two alternating downs and two ups – plus a little bit. The cycle apparently has about a 30-year half-cycle life, assuming the 1998 high was the peak of the 2nd up cycle. (30 years is amazingly/coincidentally close to 3 sunspot cycles, BTW.) Hansen was then sitting at the end of the third half-cycle, and he may even have caught on, which would explain how and why he almost overnight began talking about global warming – in the ‘middle of’ the coming ice age’ which he himself had been exaggerating/lying about. If he recognized that the rest of his career would be a warming period and that if he looked like a seer, he would be able to have a very high profile – as in being set for life. All he had to do was milk it for all it was worth.

    • ceteris non paribus

      I think you are missing one extremely important point. In physics, there will always be an absolute truth; the measured data. Proper measured data is something no-one can argue against.

      People argue against “measured data” every day. Especially on blogs about climate science. No absolute truth. For that, you want religion.

      Only when we have the actual data will we know if the Higgs bosun is real.

      There will never be any data that makes the Higgs “real”. “Real” is not a predicate. The LHC data may turn out to be consistent with the theory of quantum dynamics called “the standard model”, and be consistent with predictions of symmetry-breaking in electro-weak interactions – but that is the best the LHC data can do.

      Tycho Brahe had “measured data” that was perfectly consistent with the Earth being at the center of the universe. Newton had “measured data” that was consistent with an instantaneous action-at-a-distance “force” (gravity). We now know that neither of these theories are correct. And not just because someone measured more data – but because the data was seen in the context of a new theory that explained the data better than the previous theory.

      A bosun is a sailor (a boatswain) – not (usually) a particle that obeys Bose-Einstein statistics.

    • Jim,

      I think the observed conclusion supporting AGW is wrong or grossly enhanced. The only other part, the LARGE GREEN ELEPHANT in the room is knowing exactly why the politically driven fiction was needed (lusted for) in the first place. By minimizing (obfuscating) that part of the debate by commenting about “ideology”, “Polarization”, “politics” as if this is remotely a “two way street” flaw between nearing equal “sides” does a great disservice. Based on logic and human experience it’s impossible for Dr. Curry to defend her posture. One side is clearly advocating AGW for a clear political agenda and Dr. Curry is white washing actual agenda points and overstating the importance of the actual “science” involved. All the wrong proportions of importance.

      • ceteris non paribus

        The irony is strong with this one.

        Since you are convinced that the science has been overtaken by a “clear political agenda”, you go looking for it everywhere – and are dismayed when someone with a PhD doesn’t fit your model.

        Far from overstating the science involved, Dr. Curry seems to think that uncertainty only cuts in one direction – against the “consensus” science. She has argued here that the uncertainty involved in estimating natural climate forcings means that we should regard anthropogenic contributions as possibly smaller than the IPCC reports have stated.

        But uncertainty is a double-edged sword – and there is no solid evidence to indicate that natural forcings have been either neglected from the analyses or underestimated by empirical studies. Until such evidence is produced, presuming that the natural forcings have been under-estimated is just a statement of personal preference, nothing more.

        You are correct that there are no near-equal “sides” in this context.
        But I suggest that you have applied the “ideology” label to the wrong elephant.

  6. “Liars: inflexible agents overstating their assessment”
    I take issue with this definition. Some actually state the opposite to what they might believe just for political or economic effect.

    • Jim D, welcome to the reality. If it wasn’t for the ”closed parachute brains” which you refer as ”inflexible agents” I would have being gone fishing today

      • Stefan, never let religion, politics or women stand in the way of a good fishing trip :)

      • Capitan,
        you must be on my time zone, to reply instantly. My street ends up on Barrier Reef. Your advice has being my motto, probably why she gave me the boot. I love fishing; the Reds are repossessing the reef.

        But, the importance to stop them; made me to argue with Joshua and Don. Only real proofs can stop them, I have all those proofs. Plus I had to grow up east of the Iron Curtain, don’t wish that to anybody; unless they are exposed, back-door green Bolshevism is on the doorstep…

  7. Daj Vu- this thread reminds me of The Foundation Series- The premise of the series is that mathematician Hari Seldon spent his life developing a branch of mathematics known as psychohistory, a concept of mathematical sociology (analogous to mathematical physics).

    • randomengineer

      Dang, I thought I’d be the first to reference Hari Seldon. (sigh)

    • Loved the fondation trilogy. I think that the world is facing several Seldon Crises as we speak.

    • Horrible book.

      • Thanks, I was fooled for a second into thinking that Hari Seldon was a real scientist that I had somehow overlooked.

        In the Crackpot Index you get 20 points for every use of science fiction works (or myths) as if they were fact.

      • WebHubTelescope,

        I would just like to point out that Serge Galam is an anagram for Gare Selgam.

        Hari Seldon
        Gare Selgam

        Please remember that in some languages the letter “G” can be soft, more like an “H”. And the lowercase “d”, if flipped, becomes a lowercase “g” (though not in the font being used for this blog).

        Still believe that there is no real connection between the two? Still believe that any “connection” exists only in the minds of crackpots?

        Are all coincidences merely coincidences? If not, where do you draw the line? Who gets to “decide”?


      • Fowler, I think you nailed how some of these people think. Coincidences, anecdotes, and miracles are the essential ingredients to a crackpot theory.

      • The best similarities of the present AGW dispute is between the vast genre of apocalyptic fiction and the AGW movement.

      • All I know is that if, after reading all of WebHubTelescope’s posts here on this page, I subsequently came across a “fictional” work from the 1940’s, set in the future, in which a character going by the name of Scope Tellyweb Bug (anagram for “WebGubTellyscope”) liked to seek out and bug “crackpots” on a hypothetical future global computer network …

        I would definitely not chalk that up to mere coincidence — and anyone who would do so, I would conclude is likely to be an extreme crank.

        I think a little perspective is in order, here.


  8. That Dr. Curry wastes her time on such a question that is the title of this post is once again indicative of the corruption of Establishment Climate Science, which Dr Curry herself is still an active member.


    • Bad Andrew
      You commit the logical fallacy of an ad hominem attack of guilt by association.
      Try being polite and using rational arguments relating to the topic.

      • “Adjacent to refuse is refuse.” -Jerry Seinfeld. ;)

        There is no fallcy in pointing out that Dr. Curry is an insider in a recognized (and corrupt) group. It’s just a fact. What that says about Dr. Curry is a judgement call for the observer, as she chooses not to address the issue in any straightforward way.


      • hang on- i think you’re taking too big a leap there BA.

        If anything Dr Curry’s done more to higlight any issues than anyone else in an ‘official’ position than i can name.

  9. Judith:
    Interesting find. The “liar” concept strikes a chord with me having suffered from one on the witness stand. Liars are extraordinarily corrosive to an otherwise reasonable process for generating the truth especially since it is hard and/or very expensive to disprove an effective lie. Some of the potency of the climategate emails (and to a lesser extent Donna Laframboise’s Delinquent Teenager) is the disclosure of many of those who were trying to win the debate by “lying”.

    • Bernie
      They are still trying to win the debate; by silencing the real proofs. The truth always wins on the end. Time is against them. CO2 is increasing beyond anybody’s expectation – if GLOBAL warming doesn’t happen = I’m the only one correct. Many tried, but nobody sincere can debunk my proofs / facts and formulas! Join the wining team.

  10. Interesting. (Enough to make me comment despite barely having time to lurk.)

    For perspective I strongly recomment Elizabeth Wayland Barber & Paul T. Barber’s When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth. For those wanting a quick summary I discussed it briefly here in another context.

    Perhaps we should evaluate these “lies” as myths with metaphorical meanings the inflexible believers consider true, regardless of the science.

  11. Sociophysics, a “science” that seeks to understand “social dynamics by means of concepts and mathematical models rooted in statistical physics and computer sciences.” The use of “mathematical analysis and comparison of non-linear models” does not necessarily a science make.

    It is still my opinion that social sciences, no matter how framed, are simply not sciences. A “science” based on the statistical “analysis” of polling data. Sociology, by any other name (even when you append the word physics), is merely a means for the author to find statistical support for his own preconceived conclusion.

    “For incomplete data debate, it is lies”

    I bet the terms “lies” and “liars” makes lots of friends in the real sciences.

    I don’t much like the use of statistics to create data where there is none, whether antarctic temperatures where there have been no measurements, or “global average temperature” where many of the areas supposedly included in the average are not measured as of yet. But I do not consider it lying, as they don’t make any claim that their new “data” are anything other than computer generated massaging of actual inputs.

    Nor do I consider excessive confidence, or rejection of uncertainty, to be lying. There is too much subjectivity in the assessment of uncertainty. I think Hansen for example is a true demagogue on the issue of CAGW. I also happen to believe he actually means what he says.

    In any large group of people, there will be a certain number of those who are unethical, including liars. I see no reason to think there are any more or less among climate scientists, or debaters in any other political arena.

    Lying is not a product of social dynamics or “sociophysics.” It is matter of personal, ethical choice.

  12. randomengineer

    And finally, the extreme polarization of the public debate on climate change seems very difficult to change; perhaps this is why President Obama is not talking about climate change, but rather framing extreme weather adaptation and energy policy in a different way.

    Dr Curry — are you f*ing serious? Ivory tower much?

    With the economy on the rails and unemployment way up and being in unimaginable debt, talking about climate change and promising more taxes and government involvement is enough to *guarantee* that the republicans win this cycle.

  13. The word “unprecedented”, as in unprecedented warming, connotes authoritative prior knowledge; i.e., familiar with the specifics of the past, namely, history. When I hear the word used in regards to climate science, I now know that climate scientists who express such verbiage, either have an active disregard for history, or are illiterate with regards to history. “Unprecedented” is being used to “get out in front” of the discussion, advocacy. As I am comfortable with the climate science participants use of the word, I am also most suspicious of their motives; which, in turn, motivates me to illuminate their lack of historical knowledge and perspective, which I find easy.

    • John Costigane

      Climate science is not unprecedented: Trofim Lysenko ,beat them to it. Maybe history shall repeat: also not unprecedented.

  14. Darn, close to no time. There was a recent book about why most public infrastructure projects go way over budget, the disturbing conclusion that deliberate lies by managers and politicians obstruct the truth until it’s too late. Will look for reference when I have time.

  15. Jeff Motsinger

    It is just another name for ‘psychohistory’ as outlined in Isaac Asimov’s 1950s “Foundation” novels. I hear that Newt Gingrich has publicly mentioned psychohistory as a possible source for useful information.

  16. My assertion is that if one were study social manias of the past, similar patterns of behaviors from those true believers would be seen.

    • randomengineer

      Hunter, see the post above yours re psychohistory. If you haven’t read the books, get thee to a bookseller to library forthwith.

  17. Judith Curry

    The question raised is:

    Is it necessary to lie to win a controversial public debate?

    It is obviously only necessary to lie if you do NOT have the facts on your side.

    I’d agree with Jim Cripwell (and many other rational skeptics of the CAGW premise) that it’s all about “facts”.

    “Facts”, in the case of climate science (or any other scientific discipline, for that matter) are nothing more than empirical data, based on real-time physical observations or reproducible experimentation.

    They are NOT computer model simulations based on theoretical deliberations, no matter how well reasoned these may be.

    Climategate and subsequent revelations have exposed the weak underbelly of the CAGW argument: it is NOT based on empirical data, but rather on computer simulations alone.

    The CAGW message is becoming unraveled today largely because the public has become aware that it has been lied to by IPCC in order to support a preconceived agenda of global carbon taxation and wealth redistribution. As a result, public trust in the IPCC and in climate science in general has been lost (a fact, which you have lamented in previous blogs and articles).

    The psychological/sociological discussions on this topic do not address the key issue here: lies are not only “not necessary” they are fatal long term, because truth will eventually prevail in an open, democratic society. Abraham Lincoln said it best of all in concluding “you cannot fool all the people all the time”.

    In other words:

    Is it necessary to tell the truth in order to win a controversial public debate.

    And the truth is not on the side of the CAGW alarmists.


    • Thanks for the kind words, Max. You write “They are NOT computer model simulations based on theoretical deliberations, no matter how well reasoned these may be.”

      Absolutely. But let us not forget that no-feedback climate sensitivity can NEVER be measured. It is a purely hypothetical and meaningless number. And total climate sensitivity has NEVER been measured, since no-one has been able to prove that any of the observed warming of recent years was actually caused by rising CO2 levels; this is just an unproven assumption from the proponents of CAGW.

  18. Why are alarmists suddenly and quickly loosing support in public opinion?

    Because global warming stopped as shown =>

    • Girma

      Wow! 14 years of no warming and counting (your WoodforTrees chart)

      Isn’t the “magic” number (Santer?) 17 years (when it becomes a “statistically significant trend”)?

      Will the goal posts be moved if/when we reach 17 years?


      • Ah, but now we have HADCRU4 with a chance of HADCRU5 by 2015. Now if we compared HADCRU1 with 2 with 3 then 4, we may have an idea of the cause of the warming :)

      • Capt Dalls you write “Ah, but now we have HADCRU4”

        Yes, but we also have the satellite data; rss and UAH. I trust them a lot more than I trust HAD, NOAA and GISS. It is just unfortunate that if we want long term data, we cannot get this from satellites.

      • I have just visited

        for the daily “brightness” temperature at 600 mb. This has now gone firmly below the 2011 figure for the same date; 0.15 C. I know there is not a one-to-one correlation between the two numbers; temparature anomaly and “brightness”. But they are closely related. According to UAH, Jan 2011 had a negative temperature anomaly. If the current trend continues for the rest of the month, it would not be surprising if Jan 2012 also had a negative temperature anomaly. This would be a very “poor” start to the year when the proponents of CAGW are hoping to see a breakout from the current 14 years of no warming. We will see.

      • Robert Austin

        It was given in the 2008 NOAA report as 15 years until the GCM models ran out of gas if temperatures stayed flat. I recall the goal posts recently being moved out to 17 years, perhaps by Santer. I guess 15 years looked comfortably in the future back in 2008 but put up or shut up is now looming into view and scaring the bejeezus out of the modeling cadre.

      • Robert Austin

        Clarification. That is 15 years of flat temperatures (from 1998), not 15 years from 2008.

    • Girma

      I make it 15 years

    • Hi Girma. Please review Foster and Rahmstorf Underlying temperature trends are consistently rising at ~0.16C per decade once ENSO, volcanic activity and solar variance are stripped out. This results holds for the entire satellite era for both terrestrial and satellite based temperature measurement products.

      • Ammonite,
        The only way to arrive at 0.16 per decade is to lie about the past or alter the record and/or cherrypick the time measured.

      • hunter, is this the one RP Jr was so hot about?

      • Bill C,
        I believe it is on a long list of AGW junk being sold to the public.

      • BillC –

        hunter, is this the one RP Jr was so hot about?

        If I’m thinking of the same series of posts that you’re thinking about, that was a paper about the Russian heat wave.

      • hunter, there is a link. Follow it and determine for yourself what it means. The “entire satellite era” can hardly be said to be cherry picking. Are you claiming the satellite record is doctored? The implications of Foster and Rahmstorf are very clear. For the next decade at least, new global temperature highs will be established whenever El Nino’s of sufficient strength arise.

    • Girma
      There was NO GLOBAL warming, to stop. GLOBAL warming was concocted lie – to get themselves out of the previous prediction they were making Nuclear Winter for year 2000. They declared Global warming as happening; then the Skeptics started sticking their nose into the data > Warmist had to declare that warming stopped; but will not admit that GLOBAL warming never even started.

      The truth: localised warmings always happen – global warming never. BUT hypothetical: even if there was a global warming – they wouldn’t have known, because the warming was on places they are not monitoring, which is 99,99999% of the troposphere. The data they are regularly releasing is exclusively as fodder B/S to grow / multiply lots of sceptical Smarties and confuse the hell of the poor D/H. They know that: only D/H can believe that the leading Warmist can tell about any REAL INCREASE in temperature, by monitoring only 0,00000000000000000000000001% of the data ESSENTIAL to know what the temperature on the GLOBE is. Girma, Europe / USA where most of the thermometers are, represent only 5% of the GLOBAL surface area. If the temperature in Europe / USA gets warmer BY 20C ( 20 degrees centigrade) – the rest of the troposphere needs to get colder by 1C (one degree) to equalize; not to be warmer or colder GLOBALLY.

  19. PS

    Judith, you point out that there may be “liars” both in the “IPCC consensus” camp as in the “denier” camp.

    I believe that this is beside the point here.

    IPCC is a publicly funded governmental organization, which is supposed to represent the “gold standard” global body empowered specifically to objectively gather, summarize and report to the public (and policymakers) the most up-to-date scientific knowledge regarding our planet’s climate and what makes it behave as it does.

    There should be zero-tolerance.for “lying” by IPCC in order “to win a controversial debate”. Period. No exceptions.

    Individual “deniers” cannot necessarily be held to this same gold standard, although I would expect skeptical scientists or quasi-official bodies, such as the NIPCC, to be.

    Just my opinion.


    • I’m very strongly in support of opennes and honesty, but full truth and nothing but the truth does not exist and including everytihing known objectively in a report of a couple of thousand pages (or any number of pages) is not possible.

      Therefore it’s neither possible to write a report that could not be contested and claimed to contain lies.

      • “Therefore it’s neither possible to write a report that could not be contested and claimed to contain lies.”

        Good excuse. The IPCC could use you. Actually, they do.

      • Pekka,
        There are reasonable levels in this.
        The IPCC has not been reasonable, as evidence by multiple reviews of their work and culture.

      • .. and there are differing views on where and how badly the IPCC reports fail.

        The simplistic arguments and claims are now as irrelevant as they have always been, and that covers by count perhaps 99% percent of the related messages also on this site (fortunately somewhat less in measured by something else than count).

      • Pekka
        The very word “paleo” means older or ancient. How can any science that by its very nature is steeped in the history of our planet not contain researchers who revere history, study it, absorb as much as possible in all its forms. Why would anyone discharge the Medieval Warming Period or the Little Ice Age, or the many other historical happenings troweled up from selected sights? I can only surmise that this climate science cabal don’t know how to say: “I don’t know”, and so the fabrications, also in its many forms.

      • Pekka Pirilä

        You state that full truth and nothing but the truth does not exist

        I find that a very cynical position.

        Understating uncertainty is one thing, but deliberate lying is another.

        It has been documented that IPCC has been guilty of both.

        The untruths (or lies) all go into the same direction, Pekka, which is the worst part – it is truly an example of “lying to win a controversial public debate”.

        In this case it is to sell to the public (and to policymakers) the “consensus” notion that AGW, caused principally by human CO2 emissions, has been responsible for most of the warming of the recent past and represents a serious potential threat for human society and our environment unless remedial action is taken.

        “Full truth and nothing but the truth” would have included the clear statement:

        “We do not know enough today about natural or anthropogenic causes of climate change to be able to give any real answers to the question of whether or not human influence on past climate has been significant or only minor and, as a result, we are unable to make any meaningful projections of possible human-caused climate changes for the future”.

        It’s just that simple, Pekka.

        But that “fully true” statement was not made.


      • Max,

        It’s so simple for you, when you have your own truth and your own criteria.

        I’m not at all happy with everything related to IPCC, but I’m even less happy with the kind of declarations that you present.

      • Pekka,
        Dismissing the documentary evidence of widespread failure by the IPCC does not move things forward.

      • But you can certainly be truthful about the wholeness of the truth. You start to get into trouble when Beowulf start making categorical statements that they don’t have the facts to make. When people make categorical claims such as the hockey stick is accurate to within 0.1 degrees, that’s not only indefensible, it’s incredible.

      • Damn spell checker. Now I understand how Josh typed ‘irradiated’.

      • randomengineer


        Have you seen yet?

      • RiHOO8
        THE ONLY thing that the Warmist are more honest than the Skeptics is: Warmist avoid to lie that medieval global warming and little ice ages were GLOBAL. They were definitely NOT GLOBAL. Referring to those as ”GLOBAL” is indicators for the leading Warmist that they don’t have mature opponents. Plus, it tells them that the pretend Skeptics are just as big liars as the Warmist … the difference is same as ”two cheeks on a same ass” there must be some difference, but it’s impossible to notice that difference. Pretend Skeptics lie about lots and lots of past GLOBAL warmings / Warmist lie about one in 100years. Temperature on the WHOLE PLANET overall doesn’t go up and down as a yo-yo!!!

        In medieval times people believed that the earth is flat; if you believe in their data, what does that makes you?! I mentioned 50 times that: ”at that time people were scared to sail more than 50km west of Portugal – not to fall of the planet – how did they monitor the temperature in Oceania, south America and the rest of the unknown world; with thermometers that were not even invented? Don’t blame the Warmist for not believing in prof.
        Plimer’s bigger crap than the Warmist crap.

        THE BIG, AND THE MINI ICE AGES WERE IN NORTHERN HEMISPHERE, NOT GLOBAL!!! I have proven it beyond any reasonable doubt. That’s why the Warmist prefer the ”pretend Skeptics” than to face real solid proofs / facts and the laws of physics. As long as there is talk about medieval GLOBAL warming crap, Warmist will flourish, thanks to the Smarties, prof Plimer created. Leading Warmist would give a kingdom for Smarties like that. The ones that are so dumb to believe that they can prove that will not be global warming in 100y by their lots and lots of former PHONY GLOBAL warmings!… Leading Warmist are rolling on the carpet from laughter – laughter prolongs life

    • Pekka
      I tend to agree with most of your comments, and largely agree with you on this one. In regards to the IPCC and AR4, isn’t it true that there are more “unknowns” than the IPCC communicated? Isn’t it also true that the impact of any warming as described by the IPCC tends to exaggerate potential harms and minimize both potential benefits and the actions that would occur to adapt to changing conditions?

      Five years ago I didn’t think the issue was largely supported by many countries due to the financial implications. Today, I would be surprised if many would have the degree of support that they do if it was not for the potential for financial benefit.

      • What I’m mostly concerned about are systematic biases, not those due to individual questionable actions. People have learned to deal with individuals, but dealing with systematic biases is much more difficult, because the systematic biases may destroy the points of comparison. Lacking scale it’s difficult to tell, where we are.

        Furthermore I don’t know any clear case, where the word “lying” would be strongly supported by evidence. That’s an area where the skeptic community is trying to make evidence by repeating the same accusations often enough. Scientists fail often to be objective (although perhaps a little less often than non-scientists). It’s very common that they see their own work more important and conclusive than it really is, but that reaches seldom the level of outright lies.

        IPCC may have developed to a body that influences science negatively. Or perhaps more likely it has got that influence when combined with outside pressures. In that way it has contributed to the potential bias, but lacking the scale, it’s very difficult to tell, how serious the resulting biases are.

      • I would tend to agree that the term lying is appropriate by scientists in their reports. I would not be so sure that the term intentionally misleading is not appropriate. Imo, startig with looking at the output of the GCMs that highlighted a potential concern, and going to the reports written based on the outputs of those models, a high degree of what has been published advocating a dramatic change in energy production has had an intentional bias.

      • Once again I did a very poor job of proofing what I wrote. I meant to write that the term “lying” is inappropriate to use in describing what climate scientist write

      • “Pekka Pirilä | January 16, 2012 at 5:28 pm |

        What I’m mostly concerned about are systematic biases, not those due to individual questionable actions.”

        Add up all the questionable individual actions, view them in the context of the IPCC Team’s leaked emails, and you have got yourself a very good case for systematic bias; deliberate systematic bias. But you can’t see it, if you share the same biases.

      • Don Monford,
        If you needed ”leaked emails” to see that: tree rings cannot be used for climate, because 101 different influences dictates the thickness of the rings… you should stop wasting your time on the net – get a job as a lumberjack. When I first time heard about tree rings being used, took me 2.seconds to figure out that the Swindler is not a agronomist, 2 seconds. If you have brains, time to start using it, don’t just carry 1,3kg extra weight of brains, just because others have it.

      • You are still mad at me, steffie. Look, I am on your side. Just not as far out on your side as you want me to be. Calm down. On this blog, if you are going to argue the science, you got to show something. Just making a lot of assertions, without backing them up, only results in eyeballs rolling and ridicule. And stop firing in all directions. You only imagine that you are surrounded. I almost bought a golf course in Australia, during the Asian financial crisis, when the Aussie dollar was like Monopoly money. Wish I had done so. You are in a good place. Relax a little. Go fishing.

      • Don Montford, These are your colleagues, you can deal with them. Good luck.

      • WHT, whoever you are

        They are relatively harmless. You are a vicious little coward.

      • Don Monford
        It’s definitely not ”assertions” I cannot fit all the proofs, facts and formulas in 1-2 paragraphs here; but is ALL supported on my website, and in my book. That’s what I call: ”ostrich tactic” when avoiding to scrutinise what’s on my website. I’m an easy target, is not much; read the 7-8 pages there; all is proven. Many tried to find fault, then back-off. You can find there ALL the proofs, beyond any reasonable doubt. Plus you can find the tremendous damages in progress – in the name of the phony GLOBAL warming. Closing eyes for those damages is being part of those crimes

        Warmist shouldn’t be blamed for it; same as nobody blames crocodiles for eating people – it’s their job. They exploit the ”pretend Skeptics” – people visit occasionally climate websites – see that Warmist have opponents – without realising that: those opponents are using Warmist phony data and baseless theories as factual > creating back-door exits for the Warmist… In the process Warmist continue with their destructions.

        Warmist have realised that I have the real proofs – that’s why they request for ”pretend Skeptic’s” help. If you know the proofs I have – will realise that they are into damage control. They love to argue with you, because it suits them. They cannot argue against facts and formulas – that makes me in separate camp – in the middle – I don’t imagine the crossfire. But please don’t say that I don’t have the proofs.

        P.s. when somebody sends me to some shonky scientist’s text – it’s an insult to human intelligence. Reason I don’t send people to some ”references” not to insult anybody. Because those treads / references are specifically created as fodder for the ”pretend Skeptics” Don, they are becking off, when I point that is no enough data for knowing the temperature; but their lies are good enough for you – good luck, but ”ostrich tactic” will not work even for the Warmist any more. My formula is already on ”car’s bumper stickers” people are reading my book and 1784 visited my website. Nothing personal against anybody, but because is many Warmist and their helpers, it’s my job to point the finger and present the reality, proofs and facts. If somebody believes that 98 was warmer than any other year – but pretend that is a Skeptic – is doing more harm to the truth, than the ones that invent the lies – cheers

      • They are relatively harmless. You are a vicious little coward.

        Transitively, does that make me capable of causing harm?

        I did my best to warn you about StefanTheDenier. Now it looks like you have a new best friend.

    • Physics is fundamentally a study of forces in action. The IPCC is supposed to be the “gold standard”, but the forces that matter are their enormous attraction to the gold.

      Greed and lust for power, riches, and status are powerful forces and they completely distort the scientific forces at play on a balance.

    • manacker- one minor correction- the IPCC is charged with collecting and summarizing scientific research that measures the climate change(global temperature increase) caused by CO2 release and other possible human causes for the UNFramework Comittee on Climate Change. The UNFCCC specificaly defines climate change as the temperature increase caused by human emissions. The IPCC is the intergovernmental committee tasked with collecting the scientific research to support that.

      Neither body is concerned with the causes and mechanisms that drive the climate, only with the research that supports CO2 caused warming.

      In the context of this discussion that makes them inflexible liars from the getgo.

      • Ta Dah! Give that man a cigar! Now all we have to do is show them that it is the surface to tropopause emissivity change that matters. That the change in the tropics is significantly reduced by convection, the Arctic is with water vapor feed back and drastic land use changes is most greatly impacted and that the Antarctic with no land use changes or water vapor feed back has virtually no change in emissivity because it has little radiant emission to begin with.

        A huge mountain has become a mole hill where is should have been to begin with :) It has been entertaining though.

  20. Wayyy back in high school, our debate coach told us there was nothing wrong with stretching the truth (lying) to win a debate. Just make sure the sources you quote are difficult to find. That way the opposing side can’t prove you wrong during the debate, and afterward doesn’t count. In the AGW debate, the believers can lie then refuse to provide their ‘evidence’ and tweak their models to back them up. Instead of proving they are right, they just claim it is fact and up to the skeptics to prove them wrong. Since the AGW crowd control most of the funding and the peer review process, it would seem like a slam dunk, but now the facts are coming out. They have to chose to either stick with the lie and go down with it, or, as some have already done, jump ship and be converted. What happens to those who try and stick it out will not be pretty. Seems no one studies history these days and thus they are doomed to repeat it.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      If your debate coach condoned lying, he or she was a terrible debate coach. Any serious debater will tell you the absolute worst thing you can do is to lie.

      You may be able to get away with it in a high school setting (you often can’t), but it’s never a good idea.

      • I absolutely agree with you, I feel now that it was to challenge us to find the lies in the other side’s arguments. At the time, I took it as a warning not to say anything I couldn’t prove. Guess that is why I question authoritative claims so often now. I want to see the proof and if they (AGW group) can’t or won’t provide observable proof, then, in my opinion, they are lying.

  21. It seems important to distinguish between “liars” and persons who for whatever reason(s) find it hard or impossible to be aware of their own biases. This clip form the John Stewart show is illustrative:

  22. From the article on inflexible minorities:

    Most works consider two state models which lead to the disappearance of one of the two opinions.

    However, paradox resolution in science often requires moving beyond two competing deficient models. It may involve the acceptance or rejection of both models. This also occurs in the rise of a third political party or an unanticipated courtroom verdict/ruling.

    Inflexible minorities used to be nicknamed Soviet-style negotiation:

    Stalin: We require 15 buffer states to secure our border.
    West: Holy Crap!
    Stalin: And 70 puppet governments for economic security.
    West: NO!
    Stalin: OK. We agree to compromise of 15 buffer states.


  23. I agree with Max Manacker above (at 3.26 pm), and add a little more. One reason that things aren’t going according to the AGW plan is that the scares put forward are being controverted by experience. In Australia, floods have replaced the predicted droughts. In the Northern Hemisphere, very cold winters are replacing the predicted ‘no snow’ (in the UK, anyway). People are now saying, ‘we’ve had these cycles before’. El Nino and La Nina are now (down here) widely reported as major causes of weather and even climate. The MSM are still putting an AGW spin on most climate stories, but it’s much less evident than it used to be.

    A conservative politician once put it that his party’s problem was how to ‘manage expectations’. It was pointless then (2008) to come out with a root-and-branch denunciation of AGW. What has happened is that now only the Greens are talking AGW up. The rest avoid it if they can, or like Obama, talk about adaptation or energy efficiency.

    It may be that shale oil, frakking and methane clathrates will be the real game-changer. We will have to wait and see.

    • Don,
      An important step will be to uncouple energy policy from climate science.
      Another will be to end the mitigation fantasies.
      Those steps are coming.

      • John Carpenter

        “An important step will be to uncouple energy policy from climate science.”


      • And while were at it, let’s just do away with an “energy policy”…..

      • randomengineer


        Having a truly sane energy policy that focuses on energy independence gives the US the breathing room and energy it needs to create what’s needed next. Having an artifical energy policy based on enviro-fantasy is simply stupid. Environmentalists are *always* wrong. Always. Count on it.

      • randomengineer,
        Allowing the market and a respect for private property in lieu of central planning and “incentivized” investing will work better in the long run. The last century pretty much proved that. I don’t really want politicans and bueracrats trying to direct any sector of the economy. Call me old fashioned…..

      • randomengineer

        Allowing the market and a respect for private property in lieu of central planning and “incentivized” investing will work better in the long run.

        Yes! That’s pretty much what I had in mind. Bless you sir.

      • Random,

        I hope you are defining “environmentalists” fairly narrowly.

      • RE,
        “Always and never are seldom true”.
        Enviros- especially in the age of big NGO’s and big enviro- are frequently resorting to misrepresenting and misleading the public and decision makers. And there is solid evidence of a strong group think or echo chamber dysfunction negatively impacting a lot of the public square regarding many issues, including enviro and energy.
        But *always* wrong? I doubt that.

      • see DDT discussion below. I’d love to see where RE, hunter, Joshua and I agree and where we disagree. “agree” does not imply “warm and fuzzy” :)

      • randomengineer


        Environmentalists (the movement) are the people opposing nuclear energy and waste disposal, and if you hear their arguments, they are woefully ignorant and proud of it. This same group campaigns against housing near power lines, is responsible for scares such as alar and creutzfeld-jacobsen (sp?) and cell phones causing cancer. They campaign endlessly against all modern technology.

        Now while most people can agree that watchdoggery (is that a word?) is useful, the enviros always carry this to an absurd extreme; note that there are plenty of jobs that can be created that aren’t due to invented concern of the habitat of the lesser chipmunk without regard to the ability of said chipmunk (pick a species here) to adapt or make a slight change in preferred locale.

        While I reckon much of all perception is necessarily subjective, environmentalist demostrations against nuclear energy (e.g.) are not subject to spin, twist, or interpretation. As such it is my view that environmentalists by and large are today’s luddites and further compromised by a high number of misanthropes within their ranks. For example a hero to this group is Paul Ehrlich, the idiot who predicted world famine by the 1980’s and is one of the modern proponents of the notion that the earth has a natural carrying capacity for humans that is presently exceeded. (Famine would be Ehrlich’s wet dream.)

        Now, are there good or sane environmentalists? Of course. But on a zoomed out scale, they’re noise on the overall signal.

  24. Dr Curry,

    Thanks for pointing out sociophysics. You obviously have the sort of mind that can spot and get interested in things all over the place. It makes the blog interesting!

    However, the credibility of models from physics, mathematics & biology to describe human society and individuals is questionable. Many have tried (from sociobiology to mathematical arcania such as catastrophe theory); most have fallen, though not without leaving some significant insights into human affairs. Perhaps Games Theory remains.

    In the terms you use I guess I’m a ‘floater’ of sorts (believing strongly that AGW is wrong, but prepared to change my mind if the facts change, but I don’t think they will, and if they do it will probably be in my direction anyway). Btw, ‘floater’ in the UK has some unfortunate connotations – it denotes something that just *won’t* flush down the toilet!. :-)

    “Liars: inflexible agents overstating their assessment”. Unfortunately in any debate it is easier to grab public attention by resorting to instant hyberbole than it is to dispel the hyperbole with 30 minutes of boring facts and figures.

    There is hope though. If lying includes overconfident scientists peddling hype about oceans boiling and Venusian conditions descending on the Arctic then perhaps this will boomerang in terms of public opinion..

    “Policy makers want to rely on public opinion to legitimate their decisions”. Perhaps in the US , but (as I argued in the previous thread) not in Europe where legitimacy comes from the chattering classes, intellectuals and scientists, lobbyists and the more upmarket media.

    “It appears that the decisive goal (to win the public debate competition) should be to get a lead, even small, in the respective inflexible densities.”
    Then Climate Etc. is fighting an uphill battle.”
    I don’t agree. Fanatics, loudmouths, liars, screamers, mountebanks making ex-cathedra statements may appear in the media and blogs all the time, yet at the end of the day may turn out to be a small minority drowned in the flood of public opinion.

    What’s changed in the 4 years since Obama last ran on a tcket in which AGW featured prominently? Partly the economic situation; partly Climategate; perhaps public fatigue with climate alarmist doom; perhaps the more interesting alarmist doom of the Mayans. But it would be nice to think that the drip, drip, drip of voices against the consensus has played a part too.

    So don’t despair. There is still a debate worth having; this blog is part of that, and the future is still undecided, whatever sociophysics or Hari Seldon may predict.

  25. “One reason that things aren’t going according to the AGW plan is that the scares put forward are being controverted by experience.”

    Agree. It’s kind of 50/50. One half cooling, one half climategate. And it will only get worse for the AGW plan with more cooling and more climategate impact (information inertia).

    • information inertia. That is the political battleground. Hollow victories inflated before the elections to differ reasoned debate until after the powers to be are determined. It is much easier for the liberals to maintain the information status quo with the Merchant of Doubt card. That was truly a masterpiece of political strategy. So climategate, IPCC enhancement of the facts and James enHansening videos of boiling seas maintain the myth since they are the current truth.

      • It looked like a slam dunk. With simple physics CO2’s radiative effect,derivatively, a Greenhouse Effect, can be demonstrated, whereas the link from tar to the Crab is not so easily shown, and best statistically. But there’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip, and cigarette smoking is a more reliable cause of lung cancer, than AnthroCO2 is of sure, quantified, global warming. It’s irony turtles all the way down.

  26. There are different but similar work done by Roland Benabou in Princeton about the dynamic of false belief.
    He have made many papers.
    this one is good to understand his theory

    “Groupthink: Collective Delusions in Organizations and Markets”

    he propose many variation of the paper for various public and belief (market/state for example)
    he also have variant of that paper that explain why there are statist and marketist countries, linked to their history (and no more to facts).

    his theory explain better the behavior of real people in real big scam, than rationalist theory.
    this one “pattern of denial”
    ils really funny, because it talks about real example like Enron, and the fact that they were both lying, frauding, and sincerely desperately believing in their truth.

    his idea is that people use a kind of denial, to avoid seeing the reality that would prove they have lost much wealth/energy/time.

    the principle of false belief is that it start with a true/reasonable belief, but facts get different that expected and the belief should change… but thet you would realize you have been wrong for long, and are poor/stupid now. so you continue in believing in the false.

    newcomers see the reality is they have no asst in the belief.
    subordinates obey the leader vision by interest even if they see the opposite.

    Galam method is on the same principle to use qualitative computation to explain uninstinctive observed facts.

  27. NB: Dr Curry, you’re starring at WUWT.

  28. Although they don’t advertise it, I think many skeptics consider AGW to be one of many possibilities to explain global warming, even if they don’t like it, and it is only what I would call the deniers who assert that AGW is absolutely false with a 0% chance of being correct. So flexibility is possible for the former group, but not for the latter.

    • Well yes. I think everyone has to admit that cAGW is possible- it’s just that the current evidence (models aside) suggest it isn’t.

    • Jim D

      AGW as “one of many possibilities to explain global warming”?

      SOME global warming – Yes, very likely.

      MOST of past global warming – NO.

      This rather “flexible” position is that of most rational skeptics of the CAGW premise.

      So what “you would call deniers who assert that AGW is absolutely false” does not apply for most rational skeptics, as you claim.

      On the other hand, the believers in CAGW are not at all “flexible” regarding the IPCC “consensus” position that AGW has been the principal cause of most recent warming and, thus, represents a serious potential threat to humanity and our environment unless remedial action is taken.

      So the rational skeptics are actually more “flexible” on this than the believers.

      But why would rational skeptics of CAGW reject this premise?

      Because there are no empirical data based on real-time physical observations or reproducible experimentation to support it.

      It’s just that simple Jim D.

      Bring me the empirical data and you’ll have a convert, Jim – but don’t bother with model simulations (these are not empirical data).


    • Jim D; So flexibility is possible for the former group, but not for the latter

      Jimmy boy: in most of things ”flexibility” works; but NOT WITH THE LAWS OF PHYSICS / ARITHMETIC. they are precise. The laws of physics are controlling the planet’s warming / cooling, not the bias science, not CO2. The well organized bullies can compromise, to sponge as much money as they can; but that has nothing, nothing to do with the self-regulating system. .
      If you can talk the oxygen + nitrogen not to expand when warmed, not to shrink when cooled – you can compromise, Those two gases are not flexible, to compromise; trying inflexible glass to treat as rubber – you might heart yourself. Trying to make the laws of physics ”flexible” is not a virtue, but ignorance, or plain stupidity.

  29. “But at the length truth will out.”

    WIlliam Shakespeare.

    Facts and evidence will beat model assumptions and hype.

  30. So, was Carl (“nuclear winter”) Sagan wrong but not lying when he warned that Saddam’s setting of oil fires in Kuwait would be a worldwide disaster because of black clouds whereas Fred Singer lying but right when he predicted no such disaster because it would only be a matter of days for the smoke to clear?

    • “So, was Carl (“nuclear winter”) Sagan wrong…”


      I think he was wrong about a lot of things.


  31. “Why are alarmists suddenly and quickly loosing support in public opinion?”

    Because the public, in their wisdom, smell a rat, without knowing the details. When you’re told that there’s a new problem whose solution just happens to align perfectly with the post-1960s leftist world-view, it’s not unreasonable to be skeptical. If this is just good science, they ask themselves, how is it that the only possible solution is to turn the nation and the world over to the hands of the people who lost the cold war? This wisdom is intuitive, rather than science-based, but it’s perfectly rational.

    • Mark B,
      IRT the public turning away from the AGW extremists, someone once said that people may not know advanced radiative physics, but the do know the smell of used cow food.
      I wish I could find the original source of that, but it is an excellent point: people know bs when they hear and see it. The self-appointed team is clearly peddling bs.

  32. AGW advocates, look at the following graph for a minute and I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, consider it possible that you may be wrong.

    AGW advocates, what changed in the 161 years of annual global mean temperature data?

    (cui bono, thanks for the beautiful “I beseech you” phrase)

    • “in the Bowels of Christ?” I don’t think that turn of phrase with have the desired impact on your intended audience :)

      • Girma is a recent addition to my list of crackpots. He deserves a place on the list for his clear skill on how to lie with charts.

        There is actually a book called “How To Lie With Charts” which documents the tricks that Girma applies.

    • WHT

      Being called a “crackpot” by you is actually a badge of honor.

      I’m sure Girma is flattered.


      PS I’ve found that Girma’s WFT graphs are spot on, you just have to know how to read them.

  33. Serge Galam provides a disturbing answer to this question.

    His answer depends on the details of his model and its computer implementation. His model hasn’t been demonstrated to be accurate, has it?

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      MattStat, from the little I’ve had time to look into this issue, his model seems fine for what it is. It just isn’t sufficient to be applied to this issue. As I understand it (someone correct me if I’m wrong), his model assumes there are only two choices. This means it is not designed to cover a spectrum of choices (such as there is with the global warming debate). The only way his model would be directly applicable is if the choices were, “Global warming is a hoax!” and, “Global warming will kill us all!”

      I could be really mistaken, but his model seems to just be stating something many people have known for ages. Having a loyal base of supporters is key to gaining more support. The exact same thing is seen in politics all the time. His model may help quantify things, but it isn’t telling us anything new.

      On the other hand, it is not considering many things. For example, it is possible to have two groups of “inflexibles” on the same side which don’t get along with each other. Even if they agree on the overall point, their conflict can reduce the value of their contribution. Indeed, it can even reverse the effect and wind up hurting the “cause.” Moreover, it’s possible to get “whiplash” from “inflexibles” when a sudden shift causes a group of them to lose favor of other people. For example, a scandal in a group may cause moderates to not just stop leaning toward that group’s side, but even push them to the other. In a similar vein, “inflexibles” can be so “extreme” their support actually pushes more people away than it attracts.

      Put simply, it seems he is trying to quantify things which are already relatively well-known. While it’s a valuable goal, the current state of his work is too primitive to actually apply to the global warming debate. Trying to apply it to the debate leads to over-simplifying things, and that leads to false conclusions.

      Again, I want to stress I haven’t spent much time looking into this work, so I could easily be mistaken about what I say. As always, take my remarks with a grain of salt.

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Oh, I want to give an example of one of the issues I mentioned this model doesn’t consider, namely, the “whiplash” effect. A demonstration of it is found in this comment. Laurie says:

      I reject those who would convince me with lies and seem to be caught in them. If I can’t trust the argument to be truthful, how can I trust the motivation for the lies? …Lying will bite you in the butt, one way or another and is only a useful tool temporarily.

      There is no doubt lying may allow one to be more “convinced,” and thus convince more people. However, if people find out you are lying, they may turn on you. At that point, they may well become less convinced than if you had simply been truthful all along. By lying to someone like Laurie, you may temporarily gain support, but in the long-run, you’ll lose it. If you don’t account for things like that, you cannot hope to accurately model the effect of lying. Indeed, you may convince yourself lying is “helpful” even though the opposite is true.

      I wonder if things like that could be incorporated as “feedbacks” in the model.

      • Brandon Shollenberger, thanks for two informative comments.

        The result truly is model dependent.

  34. randomengineer

    Lying isn’t required when ignorance suffices (corollary to “never ascribe to malice that which stupidity can explain.”)

    To wit —

    This ties neatly with the “historical perspective” topic.

    Essentially the upshot is this — as opposed to what the enviro crowd screeched re rainforests, evidence that the amazon in precolumbian times was not heavily forested shows up in archaeology.

    The environmentalists have **NEVER** been right about anything. Not once. Every time they create a sacred cow, it is shown to be arse. They are all over climate change mitigation policies. In time it will be shown that environmentalists are just as wrong about that topic as they have been about every other thing they have ever touched. Reverse ‘Midas Touch’ in action.

    Of coure there’s lying. How do you know the environmentlist lies? Moving lips. If it weren’t for environmentalist LYING, there would be no present debate.

  35. Humans take to lying like ducks to water. It is not a good way to win an argument, but it is sure a popular way to do so.
    Lying to win generally leads to problems further down the road. When prophets lie, I imagine they hope to be dead or at least in the next town before the prophecy falls apart.

  36. Forty years ago, were we not lied to with SILENT SPRING as the result of the EXTINCTION of all birds? (I still here them in the morning every day).

    • Girma the Chart Liar is starting to branch out into other areas.

      What exactly happened to the pelican, falcon, osprey, eagle, and robin populations in the 1960’s and what factor lead to their recovery?

      Or is that not a scientific question?

      • randomengineer

        And you’re the guy with a crackpot index. Figures.

      • RanDomeGinEer would accuse me of being a green if I gave the scientific answer. I am apparently a coward so won’t.

      • randomengineer

        The scientific answer has to do with overspray — i.e. spraying everything that doesn’t get up and run off — vs spraying selectively. It wasn’t the agent in and of itself; abuse of any number of modern agents can/will whack a food chain. Banning DDT was idiotic. Bugs were getting resistant anyway from overspray. Simple spray regulation would have worked. Moderation works wonders. But no the government went full monty imbecile and gave birth and artificial legitimacy to the unholy union of formerly legit environmental concerns and leftist politics. We are still reaping that absurd mess.

        And yeah you giving the canned DDT is the devil green response is what I would expect.

        The DDT affair is still the poster child for everything that is wrong with modern enviromentalism. A small legit core gripe that is easily dealt with is transformed into billion$ worth of bureaucratic nightmare, which then provides an artifically legitimate platform for utterly absurd nonsense like cell phones causing brain cancer, living near power lines causes jeebus knows what, the excreble Brockovich PR scaremongering jihad re hexavalent chlorines,and so on.

        If environmental stuff were sane, I could abide with it, but it’s not; it’s just another religion just as batshit insane as the fundie christians. Just one more stupid thing to have to play whack-a-mole with to get anything useful done.

      • RE

        The scientific answer has to do with overspray — i.e. spraying everything that doesn’t get up and run off … Banning DDT was idiotic.

        What was “banned,” to the extent that anything was “banned” (although in reality the use of “banned” is rhetorical overkill), was use for agricultural purposes.


        That would be overspray – you know, spraying everything that doesn’t get up and run off?

      • Web,
        A guy who keeps pushing peak oil has no business calling anyone a liar.

      • Joshua,


        I asked Random upthread how he is defining “environmentalists” and now it seems clearer. But he is free to respond additionally, obviously.

        Of the fact which you, WHT and Random all agree I also have very little doubt – less DDT in the environment allowed populations of birds etc. to rebound, for more or less the “consensus science” reasons we get taught in grade school. The devil is in the details.

        Since I don’t have the knowledge in my head to decide who is “more correct”, you or Random – Reference, please.


      • BillC –


        I’ve web-researched this question a number of times for the purpose of understanding claims made by rightwingers about the “ban on DDT.”

        I haven’t saved the references, and don’t really want to take the time to dig them out, but off the top of my head, here is my understanding.

        (Less importantly), the comments about DDT in Silent Spring have been taken out of context and distorted often. Carson noted problems from DDT but did not advocate banning DDT.

        Claims are made that the usage of DDT was indispensable to the irradiation of malaria in the U.S. This is not true. The contribution of DDT usage to irradiating malaria in the U.S. was marginal – it came about long after far more salient measures were taken to great effect.

        DDT was “banned” for agricultural purposes in the U.S. because it was thought that large-scale indiscriminate usage would result in widespread environmental damage as well as widespread resistance and negative health impacts in humans. As near as I can tell, the questions of environmental damage and negative health impacts in humans are somewhat open to scientific debate. The question of resistance is an established fact, and resistance was documented significantly before DDT was banned for agricultural purposes in the U.S. Usage for vector control was not banned.

        Significantly on, international agreements lead to a de-facto DDT ban for agricultural usage – and to a lesser extent, for vector control. Usage for agricultural purposes and vector control continued after those treaties in a number of countries, and in some of those countries malaria continued to spread as resistance increased.

        IMO – there are valid reasons to argue that there were elements of unintended consequences resulting from policies on DDT usage. However, much of the way this issue has been exploited in the political arena by tribalistic rightwingers is not scientifically valid. For example, while claims are that a “ban” on DDT was responsible for the deaths of millions, there are epidemiological studies that show that in fact, if DDT had continued to be used indiscriminately for agricultural purposes, increased resistance would have ultimately lead to a greater prevalence of malaria.

        Proper usage of DDT for vector control is a complicated process that requires funding and a well-organized and systematic methodology – unrealistic expectations in many of the areas where DDT might have been used more widely than resulted after concerns about DDT became ubiquitous. The key issue for treating malaria, irrespective of methodology (some argue that draining areas, building proper housing, and giving easy access to netting would have been more cost effective than DDT) was funding. Most of those who argue that the “ban” on DDT caused the deaths of millions would also have argued against the required funding to use DDT in the proper manner. There is an issue that concern about DDT caused a denial of funding to those countries who continued to want to use DDT – and I think that’s an issue that needs to be taken seriously. If we’re going to learn something about the impact of scientific research on public health policies, unintended consequences is an important factor to be evaluated. Unfortunately, exploiting the “deaths of millions” to serve an anti-environmentalist-chicken-little-the-statists-are-going-to kill-us-all agenda will not further a careful examination of potential unintended consequences of how policies on DDT usage were generated and implemented.

      • Mind-boggling how quickly they made the connection, in retrospect. Was it mainly university research or was it government labs? It would be cool if it was the commercial makers of DDT as that would be an idealistic situation of self-policing , for lack of a better word.

      • Joshua,

        Thanks for the reply. I knew some of this…I agree that the unintended consequences are worth examining…including the issue of denial of funding (again, read about this before). I do appreciate the effort.

        None of what you posted will resolve any arguments however. IF there was in truth an “environmentalist overreaction” then I think a few things may have been/need to be learned:

        1) the “agricultural ban” in the US may have been a net benefit, even if it was overkill.
        2) “implied ban” vis-a-vis funding pressure – ?????
        3) re: #1 – what would be the optimal application, should the exact same situation arise in the future? perhaps it has in some developing countries. would regulation of spraying, as RE stated, have been sufficient? I do think that regulation of “miracle technologies/chemicals” (e.g. CFCs, DDT) is in principle a required policy consideration. I don’t know how that would work in a libertarian society, but I don’t know much ;).

      • RE – “excrable”?

        you mean execrable? “to be despised”

        I did an etymology search and it did not show a common root with the word “excrement” so maybe you can claim this neologism.

      • Claims are made that the usage of DDT was indispensable to the irradiation of malaria in the U.S.


      • BillC –

        2) “implied ban” vis-a-vis funding pressure – ?????

        IMO, this is really an important issue – the advantages of centralized policies (and the validity/reliability and or degree of influence accorded the the underlying science) versus the importance of recognizing disparate impact at local levels. I don’t think the importance of this question can be stressed enough w/r/t a wide array of issues – climate change mitigation policy being one of them.

        As I’m sure you know, international organizations writ large have not ignored that question. International aid organizations, for example, are struggling mightily with that issue in addressing the disaster in Haiti.

        However, I think that unfortunately the advance of that discussion is only undermined by demonization of the potential benefits of centralization and/or international agreements via a selective organization of unintended consequences in support of an binary mentality that leads to the conclusion that the eco-Nazis are going to destroy the world (i.e., if there are unintended consequences from centralized policies, the only manifestations of centralized policies are negative in balance – and therefore, government is evil except when it’s protecting my property).

        /rant off

        Likewise, branding anyone as evil if they raise questions about unintended consequences of environmental initiatives is equally counterproductive.

      • P.E.

        Showoff And apparently I can’t use cut and paste to steal your emoticons.

        What’s particularly funny about the irradiation mistake is that I repeated it twice. I might make many errors, but at least I’m consistent.


      • Well, well, cut and paste does work:


      • excrable is much funnier. ;@

      • I don’t see too many people getting branded evil if they raise questions about unintended consequences of environmental initiatives.

        I do see them getting labeled as anti-science, which is maybe harder to push back against?

      • Interestingly, there was another culprit possible that would show one of the areas where the quoted articles both are close to the truth, and also lack a dimension.

        There was evidence that it was the wide spread use of PCB’s that caused the bird eggshell problems. One of the factors overlooked at the time of the original conclusion was the over-spraying of PCB’s to control dust on dirt roads, especially around areas like stormwater runoff and wetlands. Part of the conclusion of DDT was based on the white swan/black swan criteria we see used in the AR4 about AGW.

        At date, we do not have the definitive answer since both were banned about the same time and it is not expected either will be used as extensively due to the effects that were proven for them, such as widespread resistance for DDT, and the biomagnifying and bio-accumulating of PCB’s in the food chain. Some research indicated it was PCB’s with their di-electric effect resulted in interfering with the same phenomena that biota use to make cell walls and membranes, the hydro-phobic sequencing.

        The part that is relevant to this discussion is does the lack of research in alternatives constitute “lying”? Looking at the methodology Dr. Curry has provided, the answer is yes. But it also shows the problem with the model as reproduced here. Knowledge and its aquiring (funding) is a dynamic factor that can change signs or be constant, such as constant underfunding in one area to solve for the real answer, and overfunding of an answer that is later percieved to be incorrect. Then the funding switches by a percieved truth. A good example is plate techtonics.

        This part is particulary intersting in the discussion of AGW since the IPCC was founded to show the science of this, not neccesarily that it is “truth.” This inherent assumption of the IPCC by ts makeup, carries or has resulted in a bias in funding with respect to finding black swans. I would say to make the model more general, we would have to include the funding bias, as lying in order to be consistant with what Dr Curry has provided for us.

      • BillC –

        I do see them getting labeled as anti-science, which is maybe harder to push back against?

        The accusations of “anti-science” are counterproductive at multiple levels and their impact in the end is only to further entrench the tribalists.

        That said, those accusations are far from unilateral. Many of the comments at Climate Etc. are founded on theories that “warmists” are anti-science (In fact, I heard that stop action photography of all of the jello flung in the jr. high school cafeteria food fight has proven that what seems to be randomly shaped blobs are actually jello that flies in formations that spell out “You’re anti-science too. So there. Nah, nah”).

      • @JFP +1

      • randomengineer



        "Good heavens, man. I'm an engineer, not a typist."

        Amazing what a missing 'e' will do.

      • I have read that DDT got rid of bedbugs and now they are coming back strong.

      • WebHub; every time you tell a lie – your nose will grow by a 1mm; ”the other” appendix will shrink by a 1mm. BOO!!!

        For couple of days, I was thinking that you have higher than average intelligence; but see how wrong I can be. When is a hypotheses, you disagree, it’s normal. But when I present you my formulas; it’s same as presenting 2+2=4, you disagree… it tells a lot about your knowledge. Or, maybe you have a lot of skeletons in your cupboard same as Steven Mosher. When supporting the Organized Crime for many years Mick Mann, Briffa, Hanson… the truth becomes irritating…

        In a civilized society for any big crime should be appropriate punishment, to fit the crime. Over 200 billions have being squandered of people’s money, to prevent the ”non-existent GLOBAL warming – Bernie Madoff squandered I think was 1,3 billion – he got 140 years jail for it. Think about it tonight, when you go to bed. When I present you with real proofs – you are calling me names instead.. the truth will become honey or corrosion for you… Depend if you are prepared to face it, or keep running away

      • StefanTheDenier said:

        “Think about it tonight, when you go to bed.”

        If you believe you can get way with threatening me, you better think again.

        Like a lot of the stuff discussed on this blog, you won’t amount to anything more than an anecdote. Your posterity will be preserved on someone’s climate clown list.

  37. AGW advocates, look at the following graph for a minute and I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, consider it possible that you may be wrong.

    AGW advocates, what changed in the 161 years of annual global mean temperature data?

    Is not the only change the uniform global warming of ONLY 0.06 deg C per decade?

    • The straight lines make it obvious that the rate is increasing. Compare the gradient at the end with that at the beginning. Clear isn’t it?

      • Yea, right Jim D, it is increasing. And in another 250 years it will be about 1.5 deg warmer. Clear isn’t it?

      • randomengineer

        Girma only pawn in game of life. Girma say “no hockey stick.”

  38. I call myself Mrs. Average and like to think it’s the reason I’m asked to give responses to so many opinion polls. It comes down to this: I have neither the time or the talent (having spent my life on work in an entirely different field) to determine for myself what is true and accurate in climate science. I’ve read and listened for years but I’ll never be an expert. As an elector of policy makers I must come to some decision and allow for adjustment with new and compelling information. I reject those who would convince me with lies and seem to be caught in them. If I can’t trust the argument to be truthful, how can I trust the motivation for the lies? It’s a shortcut, I know but if one admittedly doesn’t care about ethics, it’s silly to think one can demand trust. Because I think I’m Mrs. Average, I believe many will come to the same conclusion. Lying will bite you in the butt, one way or another and is only a useful tool temporarily. As I recall from the emails, there are several on the climate science team who fear being bitten.

    • Laurie – I take exactly the same view of Liars which is why I cannot bring myself to believe people like Monckton, Christy, Linzen, and Michaels. If these guys had a strong case, why would they lie?

      “In fact, not only does Michaels misrepresent climate research on a regular basis, but on several occasions he has gone as far as to manipulate other scientists’ figures by deleting parts he doesn’t like.

      Patrick Michaels is a serial deleter of inconvenient data.”

      • I’ve also seen Michaels called a liar for saying the warming is linear. The same people say Hansen is a genius for coming so close with his scenario B projection. His scenario B projection was for linear forcing. So one has to suspect that who is a liar and who is a genius very much depends on who you are cheerleading for.

    • Laurie,

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment which struck a responsive chord. I also employ your shortcut for the reasons that you and I generically share, Laurie. However, I supplement your proven shortcut with another. Namely, if a public figure urges on me severe sacrifices of my life-style in the name of carbon reduction, then I consider the guy advocating such a “Bonfire of the Carbon Vanities”, personally.

      To further describe and illustrate my other short-cut: Let’s just say there’s an imaginary speaker up there before us pounding the pulpit with denunciations of “demon-carbon” and all. And let’s further say that the worthy is a world-renowned ex-politician, feted by the international press, a recipient of both the Nobel Prize and, much more importantly still, an Academy award ( with whole globular clusters, let’s say, of really cool movie stars in fawning orbit about him, even)! And then, let’s also say, that I suddenly discover that this imaginary, wannabe Savonarola, tasking us for our “carbon-sins”, never enters the public roadways except in the company of a whole convoy of bullet-proof limousines. And, then say, I additionally discover that our “Vicar of Gaia” spends munch of his generous goof-off time flitting about the world in a private jet, en-route to one or another of his money-bag (and we’re talkin’ some really big-baggers here!) friends’ beach-side (no rising sea-level worries for the money-bags!), palatial mansions, of the sort that typically occupy whole, privately-owned Caribbean or Mediterranean islands, and yachts, that dwarf the well-guarded islands at which they dock. And then let’s say, finally, that I find out our thundering, “Prophet of the Carbon-Doom” has just bought into, big-time, a Hong-Kong manufacturer that holds the exclusive patent to the low-carbon, eco-friendly hairshirts we will all (well, almost all) be required to wear, if the current legislation, our “Minister-of-the-Carbon-Apocalypse” demands we support, passes. Let’s say all that.

      Well, then, Laurie, what I do at that point is I pull out my trusty, ol’ BS detector (the model I use, incidentally, is an analogue-model based on old-fashioned brass-gear and leaf-spring technology–one that has seen years of distinguished service, I might add) and I take a reading. And if the reading comes up “Carbon-piggie Scamster” then I discount the guy’s message and conclude he’s a doom-butt hypocrite and a hustler.

      That’s my other short-cut, Laurie. I recommend it. But I must warn you, Laurie, that if you use my model BS-detector, rather than one of those new-fangled and wholly unreliable electronic-digital models, that there’s a well-funded campaign afoot to brand you a conservative-old-white-man–I mean, even if you’re not one.

  39. steven mosher writes “The point is this: There is no such thing as data independent of a model.”

    The nesting was getting awkward, so let me highlight this in a new start. I have absolutely no idea what steven means. I happen to enjoy embroidery. Yesterday I started a new project, and I needed a piece of 32 count linen which was 17 inches by 16 inches. I bought a fat quarter, took a tape measure, measured a piece 17 inches by 16 inches, and cut it out.

    What model did I use when I measured my piece of linen?

    So far as I am concerned, a measurement is putting a numeric value on a physical entity. You measure the length of a piece of wood. You measure the temperature of a bucket of water thrown overboard from a ship. You measure the light intensity from an LED light. What on earth a model has to do with making any of these measurements I have no idea.

    Can you explain steven?

    • Jim, I think the point here is that temperature is a fairly abstract thing which you cannot apprehend directly with the senses. What we understand about temperature beyond “I feel hot or cold” is a large body of theoretical knowledge that includes models of matter as interacting particles, the statistics of these involving energies and velocities.

      We know that when warmed, liquids expand. This principle is used in thermometry, whereby a volume of mercury (for example) is forced into a narrow tube such that the length of the column is roughly proportional to temperature. This makes use of the (admittedly well known) theory of the thermal expansion of liquids. The key thing here is that what you perceive is the point the tip of the surface of the liquid reaches on a particular scale. You read off the length of the column on that calibrated scale – and think about what that calibration entails in terms of the long history of understanding exactly what temperature is – and that is the ‘temperature’ you write in the lab book.

      You also know that alcohol and mercury thermometers have a range across which they function – outside this range they boil or freeze and become useless as thermometric materials.

      You might use a thermometer that is based on the relationship between resistance and temperature. Again, there is a body of theoretical knowledge behind that.

      These things aren’t always obvious because, in your example – to take one example – it doesn’t matter if your embroidery square isn’t very close to 16 inches square. If the exact size was more important you’d need to know maybe that the width of the piece depended on the strain placed upon it in either direction – materials being somewhat elastic.

      If you stick the thermometer in a bucket of water, then you know that you need to wait for any temperature change to settle down as the thermometer settles into equilibrium with the water sample. You know that the response of the thermometer is not instantaneous because you understand something of theory of heat transfer. That’s fine if you want to know the temperature of the water in the buckets approximately, but what if you want to know the temperature of the sea-surface from which the sample in the bucket was collected.

      In that case you need to know that the sample in the bucket is likely to be cooling from the moment it is scooped from the water. In order to ‘measure’ the temperature of the sea-surface you need a physical model of the bucket with inputs like the wind speed, temperature and humidity of the air, the solar radiation incident on the bucket as well as what the bucket is made of. These can be used to estimate the heat loss and hence the temperature of the sea-surface.

      The more precise you want a measurement to be the more factors you need to control for and the more important your theoretical understanding of the problem becomes.

      To take a more sophisticated example. Imagine you have raw output from one of the MSU satellites that are used to ‘measure’ the temperature of the atmosphere. What is the sequence of operations that is needed to turn that output into a measure of tropospheric temperature?

      • John Kennedy, Everything you say is quite correct, but it does not take away from the fact that making a measurement is a very simple thing to do. All you need, in principle, is a calibrated measuring instrument, and something you want to measure. Then you measure it. That is all. What is so complicated about that, and that is all that I am talking about.

        To go back to temperatures, when I was in hospital following cancer surgery, the nurses routinely took my temperature. They have the calibrated instrument, they stuck it in my ear, and recorded the value. Presto!.

      • Except the part we know that liquids expand when heated.

        Water contracts when heated from 0 C to 4 C.

  40. Physics and its fundamental relationship with nature is the most exciting academic sphere known to man. Unknowns, yet to be known.

    Probably, when fully understood, it will allow us to interact with nature in unimaginable ways.
    Undoubtedly, climatic science is the hottest topic around, justifiably, as it concerns the atmosphere that, was not only essential to the creation of life, but is essential to its sustainability.
    Our perception of the physical universe defines our psychology and, it seems, we either fear or embrace our knowledge of it.

    Yet, fear has it consequences. Relative theory borne of bias always remains in the philosophical, and constantly questioned. It is this illogical branch of reasoning that spawns thought into the unknowns, furthering knowledge of the universe and our relationship with it.
    Climatic reasoning is flawed, the scientific hypothesis is an appeal to authority, it relies on a censuses biased by our psychology. The strength of its theory relies on disproof.
    Reasoning cannot disprove the truth, or otherwise, of our perceptions which are only of the theories known to us
    For example, as a Theory of Relativity the following;

    It is the arrangement of electrons in atoms and molecules that radiates in equilibrium to its range of covalent bond. The chemical composition of molecules obtains isothermal properties from conduction with the electrons working the covalent bond. It is this conduction and then convection that dominates our climate and regulates its oscillation. This theory disproves Co2 forcing on temperature other than the radiative performance of the pairing of its electrons. No energy is added atmospherically by radiation. It is conduction from the work of the covalent bond and the convention of molecules within a gravitation field that denotes the heat of a planetary body (that is surrounded by vacuum).

    The Potential Gravitational Energy of a planetary body indicates its temperature due to stratified isothermal laws. It is the velocity of rotation to mass that indicates the Potential Gravitational Energy.

    This theory of relativity complies with all known laws of physics.

    See, I invite you to disprove me. The more general in its application the longer it will take you. It has taken decades to know that the paradigm of climatic reasoning, as the consensus stands, deserves skepticism.

  41. Judith,
    To lie….
    It is when you do not want change for reasons of career, funding or prestige. Ignore rather than explore mentality to protect traditional teachings.

    I can mechanically recreate the volcanism of our planet with circular motion on how we still currently have an active planet. This is done on a flat plain and not on an orb settling in order to understand this process mechanically.
    Enclosed centrifugal force with compressing gases to a liquid with weight and pressure.

    Currently the analysis of rocks has me stumped in how the parameters were defined. Was it fresh magma analyzed or old rocks that could have been covered by salt water and drilled into???

    The theory I am trying to recreate and understand is if saltwater was from space in ice to hit a molten planet or did it originate from magma? Salt that is…Considering 2.6% of the crust is of this composition.
    Recently they found ice in space to be nearly identical to our oceans composition.
    I already crafted the mathematics of planetary loss by the oldest salt to date to land height. This is 1.25mm/10,000 years which would put all the planet under 2 kilometers of water at 4.5 billion years.

  42. If the evidence on your side of the argument was overwhelming, as is often claimed, it would not be necessary to lie or even exaggerate. This is what makes the behaviour of many climate scientists and their supporters so puzzling.

    • To me it makes why what Monckton, Linzen, Michaels and Christy say is so puzzling. Why do they lie so outrageously? Do they think their lies aren’t easily spotted? Why do their supporters continue to be so supportive? If they had such a strong case why would they need to lie?


      • randomengineer

        What seems to have drawn 98% of the posters to a “debate” is the hockey stick, which is immediately recognisable as a lie. It’s not merely mistaken; it’s mendacious, a bald-faced political statement that would have astonished Orwell. To this day I regard anyone defending the stick as either a liar or a fool and is how I gauge respectability/believability. I don’t really pay attention to your list of characters. Don’t care. There will always be the overexuberant and/or wrong on either side of any debate, so highlighting a handful of “others” is useless. The only important factor is the icon, so when that’s a lie, everything is suspect.

      • RE –

        The DDT affair is still the poster child for everything that is wrong with modern enviromentalism.

        That’s just about how I feel w/r/t the false meme’s about the DDT.”ban” and modern anti-environmentalism.

      • You’ve lumped together people who have distinctly different views.
        I’m having a hard time figuring out what “lie” you are refering too. Monktopus has told a bunch of them, mostly about himself. Christy?
        not so sure you’d call his mistakes lies. Micheals? different altogether. Lindzen? Maybe you could point the lies out

        That will help the discussion

      • Louise, there is another reason for lying, not just to win an argument. You and Steven Mosher must be familiar with that reason: TO COVER UP FOR THE SKELETONS IN THE CUPBOARD.

        Mosher even resorts to pick on my misspelling; my formulas are spelled correctly, but he is scared as the devil from the cross. If what I write was ALL spelled correctly by Oxford language professor; Steven Mosher and you would have done everything to avoid it and silence it; BECAUSE OF ALL THE SKELETONS IN YOUR CUPBOARDS. As populist, both of you, and many others in the past jumped on the Warmist populist hysteria wagon, now when I brought the real proofs / no need to wait 100 years to see that is all lies, somehow I have become extremist for bringing the most solid proofs. Honest science is checking and double-checking, not to overlook something; your science guys is to silence and ridicule real proofs / facts and formulas – to cower up the stench in your cupboards

    • Louise,
      You are baffled because you are precisely 180 degrees wrong.

      • You actually believe the cr@p that Lindzen Michaels, Christy and Monckton spout? Good grief, I thought you couldn’t be as dumb as you appear from your comments but it seems that you actually may be that stupid.

      • Louise,
        Your assesments have been demonstrated to be consistently wrong.
        Lindzen and Christy and Michaels are well published and respected workers. I don’t recall saying much about Monckton, and most of that was to the effect that I see him as a distraction.
        If I am going to be considered stupid because I listen Curry, Pielke, Sr., Lindzen, Christy, and others who see the AGW consensus as dubious, then I will at least be in good company.
        You, on the other hand, are in the comapny of increasingly bizarre people like Hansen and Romm etc. I am sure you find their company very comforting as well.

  43. The means can never justify the ends because they are intertwined. The only way the means could ever be shown to justify the ends is by post rationalising the outcome. (I am not sure who to attribute this self evident position to)

    For the sake of the argument let us assume that the Fiddlestick Team are correct and to convince the public and politicians they lie.
    They are found out to lie and politicians withdraw their support and CO2 emissions continue to rise and cause dangerous global warming. So the Fiddlestick Team were right all along but because they used lies the outcome is a bad.

    The reverse of course is true assume the skeptics are right but lie to justify their position politicians don’t believe them and put in place measures to reduce CO2 emissions which cause poverty and financial disaster and make no difference to the temperature. Again a bad outcome?
    If science is anything it is about falsification but that’s a topic Dr Curry may wish to discuss some other time? :-)
    I recognise that the examples given above could be tell lies which then results in a good outcome but of course men are not gods or Nostradamus?

  44. Galam seems to assume that the driver of opinion who has the greatest strength (facts, force of argument, cunning, grip on the means of communication, etc.) wins the public support. It seems to me that in the long run the public finally supports what it perceives to be in its own best interests (a combination of both collective and individual).

    For example, take this sequence of increasingly nuanced positions: The public wants a clean environment at no cost. The public will tolerate some cost as long as someone else bears it. The public will permit some environmental degradation if it means their quality of life stays the same or gets better. The public will decide how much it will knowingly pay for a compromise between clean environments and quality of life.

    The drivers of opinion for the different factions will have success and failure at different points. Ultimately the public will sort out what it can live with and who to support. Some still will donate to save the polar bears — and drive their cars to the mall — regardless of who currently is “winning” the politics.

    The climate debate is looked mistakenly at as factions driving public opinion into one camp or the other from the top down. However, it ultimately is the public sorting through its options from the bottom up.

    • Nice post.

      The only thing I’d add is that even when viewed at a broad level such as you describe in your post, there are different publics. The decisions of one American public (those with power and political influence, those who drive cars on highways a great deal) affect another American public (those who live in environments that sustain disproportionate amounts of environmental degradation, those who ride bikes, walk, and take public transportation). The decisions of the American public as a whole affect the public in other nations who have less political power – particularly to affect the policies of corporations that operate on a global scale.

      • Joshua,
        I concur that “there are different publics.” I just got an e-mail about “A new book from Cambridge University Press – Successful Science communication, (Bennett and Jennings eds.) – contains 26 chapters with helpful things to say to people concerned to communicate complex ideas to “the public”. Plus a chapter by me entitled Not 100% sure? The “public” understanding of risk; the reader is left to judge whether it too is helpful.” from John Adams that the question of many publics and risk.

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

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

        It’s a pity Karl Jaspers is no longer among the living as it would be interesting to have his thoughts on this thread. His thoughts on the limitations of scientific communication are fairly well reviewed here-

        4.7 Scientific communication
        The Logical positivists believe that scientific language should be regarded as a model for communication. Philosophy and our everyday exchange should adopt it. Jaspers believes that this is not possible because science is very different from Philosophy and our everyday life.

        The ideal of clarity of science cannot be attained in life or philosophy. Many of the items we refer to are too impalpable, transparent, complex, or inaccessible to be clarified,55 e.g., we are aware of consciousness but we are unable to describe it clearly, similarly we are unable to define
        civil rights yet we favor them.

        Unlike science, universal validity is not possible in extra-scientific areas. Scientific truths can be proved and so become compelling for all. But philosophical truths are dependent on history, upon the culture or the situation in which they are born, e.g. some truths of Indian Philosophy are difficult for the West to grasp.

        In scientific research the scientist himself is irrelevant what he thinks is more important than what he is. This is not the case in philosophy. Here truth is the result of communication with the other and myself. Here the truth I live by is more important than the truth I merely think about. A scientist can cultivate dispassionate objectivity. This is not the case in life or philosophy.

        Philosophy provides man with truth he lives by, determines what he is going to become and offers a inner certainty in which a whole man’s whole being participates. Philosophical truths
        move us more deeply than any scientific knowledge.56

        Thus scientific communication is very different from philosophical communication and is totally unsuited for philosophy.”

      • Mark M –

        . Self-knowledge and an ability to stand metaphorically in the shoes of others are key ingredients of the empathy essential to effective communication.”

        I like and very much agree with that statement. In my life experience, it stands as a rare universal truth (although I will add that they are key ingredients, they are not necessarily sufficient, there are other ingredients as well) .

        But philosophical truths are dependent on history, upon the culture or the situation in which they are born, e.g. some truths of Indian Philosophy are difficult for the West to grasp.

        I find this to be a very important consideration as well. My work involves collaborating with people from other cultures in examining effective communication. Personal styles and preferences often affect how people view effective communication as do cultural frames of reference.

        W/r/t the topic of this post, “lying:” might be considered to be morally and/or communicatively unacceptable in one culture where it is viewed in a different culture as a pragmatic methodology for achieving desired results or efficient communication.

        And w/r/t questions of effective communication, structuring discourse hierarchically might be viewed as logical and systematic in one culture where it is viewed as pedantic or rigid or inartistic in another culture.

      • Yup, wheels within wheels. But broadly it ends up with a de facto consensus (in an unloaded sense of the word) derived naturally instead of forced.

      • Joshua –

        In your work, have you discovered any relatively universal cross-cultural cues that are tip-offs to identifying lies and liars?


  45. Is it necessary to lie …?

    Look at the following statment contradicting the Hockey Stick:

    Again, the Esper series shows a very strong, even canonical, Medieval Warm Period – Little Ice Age – 20th Century Warming pattern, which is largely missing from the hockey stick.

    • I do think that the Medieval Warm Period was a far more significant event
      than has been recognized previously, as much because the high-resolution
      data to evaluate it had not been available before. That is much less so the
      case now. It is even showing up strongly now in long SH tree-ring series.
      However, there is still the question of how strong this event was in the
      tropics. I maintain that we do not have the proxies to tell us that now.
      The tropical ice core data are very difficult to interpret as temperature
      proxies (far worse than tree rings for sure and maybe even unrelated to
      temperatures in any simple linear sense as is often assumed), so I do not
      believe that they can be used alone as records to test for the existence of
      a Medieval Warm Period in the tropics. That being the case, there are
      really no other high-resolution records from the tropics to use, and the
      teleconnections between long extra-tropical proxies and the tropics are, I
      believe, far too tenuous and probably unstable to use to sort out this

      So, at this stage I would argue that the Medieval Warm Period was probably
      a global extra-tropical event, at the very least, with warmth that was
      persistent and probably comparable to much of what we have experienced in
      the 20th century. However, I would not claim (and nor would Jan) that it
      exceeded the warmth of the late 20th century.
      We simply do not have the
      precision or the proxy replication to say that yet. This being said, I do
      find the dismissal of the Medieval Warm Period as a meaningful global event
      to be grossly premature and probably wrong. …

      I figured you would not want to lie to people by leaving that part out.

      • JCH-

        What’s the modern tropical warming look like?

      • randomengineer

        The lie was the 1999 mbh stick showing no MWP whatsoever. What seems to have happened since was that the derision was such that “new” and “better” proxies were (*ahem*) “discovered” and then used to re-establish a smallish hump in the data. To this day you still have tons of people claiming that the MWP was regional rather than global, not what is touted by those using historical evidence, and so on, i.e. arguments carefully calibrated to agree with the hockey stick narrative. The hockey stick was wrong originally and remains wrong. That it was changed at all underscores the degree by which it was wrong.

        The use of questionable proxies whilst ignoring the written historical record is also evidence of a particular mindset, the one that knows better than the rest of us, the one is invoked by those seeking to be the masters of mankind. It’s “science,” you see, and only superior minds seem to be able to grasp it. Deny the veracity of The Stick and (by way of proxy) you deny all science.

        The hockey stick is a lie. Period. Everyone knows it.

      • ceteris non paribus

        randomengineer wrote:

        The hockey stick is a lie. Period. Everyone knows it.

        Talk about “narratives”…

        I love it when people say “period” or “end of story” or “everybody knows it” – It’s a sure indication that the speaker is completely bereft of factual support.

        The ‘stick’ has been replicated by no fewer than a dozen scientific studies. You can call that a conspiracy if it makes you feel better – scientists call it confirmation from multiple lines of evidence.

      • randomengineer


        The use of argumentum ad populum is intended to preclude argumentum ad verecundiam. Everyone knows this.

        In other news, rock crushes scissors.

    • From I can gather, there has never been scientific agreement that the MWP was global.

      The MWP is un-contained. I can see it coming out either way, and that either result is totally irrelevant.

      • randomengineer certainly seems to think it’s global, and even if some of the studies they present can be questioned, the balance of the evidence says that yes, it WAS global, no question about it.

      • JCH-

        what does modern tropical warming look like?

      • JCH – let’s try a different tack.

        UAH shows warming of 0.13C/decade from 1978 to current for “global”
        UAH shows warming of 0.07C/decade from 1978 to current for “tropics”

        This is consistent with consensus theory that the tropics will warm less than higher latitudes.

        Given this, is it surprising that not much evidence exists for the MWP in the tropics?

      • “either result is totally irrelevant”

        No, it goes to the scale of natural variability and/or sensitivity if we know what the forcings are.

  46. I’ve enjoyed the various comparisons of the term sociophysics to Azimov’s fictional “science” called psychohistory, from the “Foundation” triology.

    If we recall the plot line, the ‘science’ of psychohistory ‘worked’ (ie. was predictive) in the general case, but in the long run it failed because it could not model every single variable, because it did not KNOW what all the variables might be. And one tiny unknown variable (a single mutant human being) ruined the whole ‘Seldon Plan’ which humans had been trusting for half a millenium.

    Can we see any parallels between Azimov’s work of fiction, and the debate over the current state of climate science? Why, yes, I believe we can. ;-)

  47. perhaps this is why President Obama is not talking about climate change, but rather framing extreme weather adaptation and energy policy in a different way.

    IMHO President Obama will make his Copenhagen targets without further legislation.

    • Preserving AGW mythogy, as if the “targets” mean anything beyond the political sham itself. Just part of the life-support status of AGW advocate peer support.

  48. Well, we certainly know what Hansen and the team think of the preface question;

    The perfect quote in the comments;

    “Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.”
    George Orwell…1984”

  49. It the claim about inflexibles was strictly true, I guess we would all still be devout Catholics (work back in time as needed to make yourself comfortable.)

  50. Since we are talking about “Foundation,” what about “Dune”?

    In that scientists and politicians were strictly forbidden from poaching each other’s field due to some big altercation in the past that was so caused.

  51. Does this sort of hyperbole qualify as a lie?

  52. Louise | January 17, 2012 at 6:09 am | Reply
    “Laurie – I take exactly the same view of Liars which is why I cannot bring myself to believe people like Monckton, Christy, Linzen, and Michaels. If these guys had a strong case, why would they lie?”

    Louise, I’ve read a few posts concerning the “lies” of several of these sceptics. I’ve also read the defenses. In most cases, I don’t have the knowledge to know who is right or wrong when the details are so technical and often involve omissions or misinterpretations as “proof”. How would I know? Perhaps you do, or at least trust the expertise of certain people who guide your decisions.

    I have to rely on certain “tools” that indicate an intent to deceive and influence. Some of these are:

    1. “We could say that….(insert plausible statement)”

    2. Make it humiliating for people to entertain an opinion not matching their own by comparing them to people widely disrespected, such as racists, flat earthers, religious zealots, uneducated and so on. Assertions that these people are paid by greedy, evil corporations while failing to admit they too have been paid by these same corporations for some of their studies. Say anything that would make people feel ashamed to be associated with a view.

    3. An unwillingness to share information that could clarify a result, claiming that the information is proprietary (although mostly funded by the public and of little, if any, marketable value).

    4. What people say or write when they don’t think the public will have access to their writtings. For example:

    Question: If warming really threatens to destroy human civilization, why was Jones hoping for warming? And if the world was still warming in 2009, why did Jones refer to “lack of warming”?

    Email 4195 (Phil Jones)

    “Tim, Chris, I hope you’re not right about the lack of warming lasting till about 2020.”

    Mike MacCracken to Phil Jones

    “In any case, if the sulfate hypothesis is right, then your prediction of warming might end up being wrong. I think we have been too readily explaining the slow changes over past decade as a result of variability–that explanation is wearing thin. I would just suggest, as a backup to your prediction, that you also do some checking on the sulfate issue, just so you might have a quantified explanation in case the prediction is wrong.”

  53. The topic here has been “lies”.

    Murder mysteries often have the murderer surrounding himself with a complex “web of lies”. This web is systematically picked at by the detective (be that Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Colombo or Mrs. Marple) until it is gradually picked apart, revealing the true identity of the murderer.

    In climate science today we have a “web of lies” that has been created to support the notion that AGW is potentially catastrophic.

    The projections of disastrous warming are all based on model simulations using various virtual model scenarios and storylines.

    But what about the observed empirical data?

    The physical observations over the past 160+ years tell us that atmospheric CO2 has risen from an estimated 290 ppmv in 1850 to a measured 390 ppmv today, at the same time as the globally and annually averaged land and sea surface temperature has risen by 0.7°C.

    Now it should be mentioned that there are many reservations regarding these data.

    The atmospheric CO2 concentration in 1850 is not an actually measured value, but rather one based on ice core data.

    The surface temperature data (HadCRUT3 in this case) are suspect because of a poor sea surface temperature record until quite recently and because of distortion to the land record resulting from the urban heat island effect, land use changes, changes of measuring stations including a large number of shutdowns, and poor coverage plus poor siting of measuring stations.

    And there are unexplained multi-decadal cycles of warming and cooling that show no correlation at all with the increase in CO2.

    But the data are all that we have, so we must accept them as they are.

    We have even greater uncertainty regarding the degree of human attribution.

    In its AR4 report, IPCC has estimated that natural forcing factors are limited to changes in direct solar irradiance alone, and that these represented only 7% of the total past forcing. To be fair to IPCC, it has conceded that its ”level of scientific understanding” of ”natural forcing factors” (i.e. solar) is ”low”. IPCC has discounted any other solar mechanisms beside direct solar irradiance. Yet several independent studies by solar scientists estimate that roughly 50% of the warming (rather than only 7%) can be attributed to the unusually high level of 20th century solar activity (highest in several thousand years).

    IPCC also tells us that all other anthropogenic forcing factors other than CO2 (other GHGs, aerosols, etc.) effectively cancelled one another out, so that the forcing from CO2 = total anthropogenic forcing. Here, IPCC estimates that its ”level of scientific understanding” is ”medium” to ”high”, so in this case we can probably use the IPCC estimates without too much concern.

    These data points plus the logarithmic CO2-temperature relation make it easy to calculate the observed CO2 temperature response, within the range of the solar attribution estimates of IPCC and the solar studies.

    This calculation tells us that a doubling of CO2 should result in a temperature response of between 0.8 and 1.4°C.

    This is not alarming as it is between one-fourth and one-half of the mean values of the estimates of IPCC.

    The simplest answer is usually the best (according to Occam’s Razor), but, as this answer is not alarming, it is not acceptable.

    The “web of lies” begins.

    In a 2005 paper, James E. Hansen et al. analyzed the past warming and compared it with GISS model simulations.

    The authors found that only half of the warming expected by the models actually took place.

    Instead of adjusting the estimated 2xCO2 estimates used in the model simulations downward in order to agree with the observed data, Hansen et al. used circular logic to arrive at the postulation that the missing half of the past warming was still hidden “in the pipeline”.

    Of the [model-estimated] 1.8 W/m2 forcing, 0.85 W/m2 remains, i.e., additional global warming of 0.85 x 0.67 ~ 0.6°C is “in the pipeline” and will occur in the future even if atmospheric composition and other climate forcings remain fixed at today’s values.

    The “pipeline” was postulated to be the upper ocean (Josh Willis, NASA team leader for ocean temperature measurements, was a co-author of the “pipeline” paper).

    Upper ocean temperature measurements prior to 2003 showed warming, but were rudimentary at best. The expendable XBT measurement devices were unreliable and known to introduce a “warming bias” (according to Willis).

    Since 2003 these have been replaced with a series of ARGO measurement devices, which are not only much more reliable but also cover the entire ocean. These do not show a warming of the upper ocean, but rather a cooling. (Josh Willis referred to this cooling as a “speed bump”.)

    At the same time the atmosphere, both at the surface and in the troposphere, has shown no warming since January 2001 (or January 1998).

    Since CO2 emissions (and atmospheric concentrations) are continuing to increase to record levels, the alarm bells are going off. The model estimates cannot be wrong, so where is the “missing heat”?

    While one climate scientist, Kevin Trenberth, has suggested in an interview that the “missing heat” may have been “reflected back into space” with clouds acting as a “natural thermostat”, we now have studies suggesting that the “missing heat” could be hiding in the “deep ocean” and the “web of lies” is becoming even more intricate.

    Other studies are blaming Chinese aerosol emissions of “masking” the CO2 warming, further enhancing the “web”.

    In 1988 James E. Hansen made a basic mistake: he made a relatively short term projection of warming to be expected from human greenhouse gas emissions, citing three alternate scenarios:

    Case A: with human emissions continuing to rise at 1.5% per year
    Case B: with a major decrease in human emission growth rates
    Case C: with a drastic decrease and human emissions stopping in 2000

    Actual CO2 emissions increased by slightly more than Hansen’s worst Case A (1.7% vs. 1.5% per year).

    Yet Hansen’s forecasted temperature increase was exaggerated by more than 2:1.

    Again, we have indication that Hansen’s model estimates are using a CO2 temperature response estimate (or “climate sensitivity”), which is off by a factor of 2:1 (as the long-term record also showed – see above).

    Then, in defense of the model estimates, we have a Hansen co-worker, Gavin Schmidt, comparing the actual record with Hansen’s Case C on RealClimate (in a botched attempt to show that Hansen’s projection was pretty close).

    And the “web of lies” continues to become even more intricate and elaborate.

    Where’s Mrs. Marple when we need her most of all?

    (Will our host here end up being “Mrs. Marple”?)


    • Max,

      I recommend Robert Crais’s Joe Pike and Elvis Cole’s characters, from his Chasing Darkness novel, to be our current day detectives. I kind of liked this dialog- “It’s okay if he’s a political asshole, but it’s not okay if he’s protecting a murderer. The only way I can know what they’re doing is to see what they’re doing with the information.” pg 268.

    • That pipeline should be getting very warm by now. Should be easy to find.

      Nice summary, Max. You only left out the leaked emails. Let’s see which one of the defenders of the dogma squawks about this first.

    • I see you are still using the not so global Hadcrut3, which leaves out large areas including large parts of africa and both polar regions, which gives it a cool bias.

    • Manacker

      The above post with some modification must be submitted to the Science Magazine!


      Is not the deep ocean near freezing temperature and huge?

      How can you hide heat there?

      • Well, pretty easily, as it is very large as you say, meaning a small temperature change can represent a large amount of energy. It is not very well monitored for those slight changes in temperature.

        Max’s post is all conclusions with no data to support his arguments.

      • bob droege

        The data are all there bob – all you have to do is look (with an open mind, of course).


        PS The “deep ocean” rationalization is just another unfounded and silly attempt to cover up the fact that it’s not warming as it should be according to the models (Trenberth’s “travesty”). Trenberth’s rationalization that the “missing heat” is being “reflected out into space” with “clouds acting as a natural thermostat” makes a lot more sense to me than this “deep ocean” magic voodoo.

        Just as a matter of basic logic, have you figured out how many thousandths of a degree the deep ocean would warm if it took up all the theoretical “missing heat” from the past decade? Run the numbers for me and let’s see what conclusion you come to. (You’ll see just how absurd this postulation is.)

      • Manacker is bluffing on running the numbers for heat capacity. Heat doesn’t hide but can disperse. Is the heat sink inside your computer hiding the heat? No, the heat diffused into the heat sink spreads out to the fins, where it is dispersed by a fan.
        A heat sink without a fan can keep your chip cool for awhile, but it will eventually catch up. That is the analogy for the ocean, as there is no fan and external release. It all eventually has to reach steady state at the atmosphere surface boundary, as the atmospheric radiation is the only means for maintaining the energy balance.

        To call your bluff, have you actually done the heat sink equations?

        I will do it myself, but given the fact that CO2 diffusion is the same math as thermal diffusion, I can see how the sequestering of heat may show the same “missing fraction”. This is not missing at all but is dispersed in different layers, not all of which are measurable.

        I think climate scientists are aware of this but it is not an everyday topic.

      • Web said, “I think Climate Scientists are well aware of this.” I am sure they are. The estimates of climate sensitivity keep slowly coming down towards the Manabe estimated range. The only heat that is missing is what was modeled. At some point they will have to consider the circumstantial evidence. That antecedent hogwash. They may even question theories of the ice ages…

        Naw, only crackpots would do such a thing :)

      • WHT

        You insinuate that I have been “bluffing” and ask if I have done the “deep ocean” warming calculation, which I asked bob droege to do.

        The answer is “YES” (and that is why I am doubly convinced that this latest rationalization of where the “missing heat” is hiding is silly).


      • Open access it then Manacker.
        I caught you cooking numbers in the past.

        You too Cap’n Crunch. You also claim to crunch the numbers but last I heard you had some flimsy excuse as due to a computer crash. Kind of like the big one that got away, eh Skip?

      • Max,

        If you show me your calculations, I’ll show you mine.

        I get 0.003 K per year.

        That rounded up considerably, and well below the accuracy of normal price range thermometers, and enough to take care of all the “missing” heat.


  54. The climate debate is riddled with people calling each others liars. My view is that it is usually just advocacy, which means stating the strongest possible case for your side, as though the opposing side has no case. This sounds a lot like the above definition. The point is that our policy system is based on advocacy, as is our justice system. So there is nothing surprising, nor even wrong, with finding that the best advocacy often wins the public debate. The flaw lies in calling advocacy lying. Those who do not approve of advocacy in the policy and justice systems are welcome to present a better alternative.

    Studying these situations mathematically is lots of fun. Unfortunately they tend to focus on wins, not draws. The climate debate is a draw.

  55. David, please tell me how it is that advocacy can include knowingly making false statements and yet be exempt from being characterized as lying? Are you saying that there are no ethical boundaries when it comes to supporting a cause? A defense attorney may present an alternate version of events to advocate for his client and sometimes, it works. What happens if the attorney is found out to have knowingly lied about evidence supporting that version? I don’t think it’s as trivial as you seem to believe.

    • Laurie, I have seen very few cases of people knowingly making false statements in the climate debate. In most cases the person A on one side considers what the other person B says to be false, so they call B a liar. But B believes what they say. Given that so few things are agreed upon as true, this happens a great deal. But if B believes what they say then it simply is not lying; it is a disagreement. It then becomes advocacy when the disagreement is not acknowledged.

  56. There are a couple of personnas mixing here: “believers” and “fact finders.”

    When you immerse yourself in something, you “believe.” It’s irrational, it’s life generating and fulfilling. It’s everything. Sometimes, we do it in a good cause: storm a beach in DDay…. Sometimes we fake a hockey stick because we believe the world may be at risk.

    The good, the bad, the ugly…?

    Most of you are “fact finders,” uncommitted to “belief,” hunting, like Feynman, to expose the “cargo cult (silly) science. You are the right ones.

    But, not to understand the blinders, the blindfolds, the overwhelming “belief” of those who toss virgins into volcanoes is to miss a big part of the problem.

    They are not lying, able to see: they believe. You show up with your Sgt Friday notebook and want, “Just the facts, Ma’am” and the “fact” that the elephant swung through the window and ate the homework is: simply the fact, belief. True, heartfelt. Nothing to do with reality.

    ….Lady in Red

    • Lady: Putting “believers” in quotes without explaining the new word thus created is meaningless. If you are claiming that people with strong beliefs (like me) are irrational then I disagree strongly. Note too that the distribution of such people appears to be equal among skeptics and warmers. You seem to be just demonizing your opponent.

      • Agreed, David. Lady’s dichotomy is based on nothing scientific, and ironically enough, only on her beliefs.

      • What I am saying is that, when one crosses a line from unemotionally involved fact finder to a “believer,” reality simply becomes irrelevant.

        Do you think Gavin Schmidt or Joe Romm does what they do because of a paycheck? Or, that there really is an avalanche of convincing, irrefutable facts supporting their opinion? They have simply worked themselves up into caring about an irrational belief, beyond all else.

        Belief in the literalness of the Bible, or the Koran, is the same: it transcends sane discussion. …Lady in Red

      • No, people with strong beliefs are not necessarily irrational.
        However, strong beliefs can be either rational or irrational, and rational people can be possessed by irrational beliefs, the same as irrational people can be possessed of rational beliefs.
        The problem is, if we strongly believe something, the very act of believing often makes us incapable of judging whether or not our belief is rational.

      • Lady –

        what evidence do you have that anyone here is “uncommitted” to belief?

      • You folks are throwing the term “irrational” around far too loosely. There is a clinical definition, which involves believing things that are obviously false (which seldom happens in the climate debate) to the point of being unable to function in society (which almost never happens in the climate debate). If you have a different scientific definition let’s see it.

        Having spent the last 40 something studying human rationality I am deeply impressed by how sophisticated it is, even in the simplest conversations.

      • David, I’m talking about rationality within the context of belief, ie by ‘irrational person’ I mean a person who may be completely rational except for the one or more irrational beliefs they may harbour.
        By ‘irrational belief’ I mean a belief which persists in the face of little or no credible evidence for, and/or hard, irrefutable evidence against.

      • peter –

        What would you estimate to be the prevalence ratio of rational/irrational people who agree with you on controversial issues (say climate change, or perhaps pick another issue?) versus the prevalence ratio of rational/irrational people who disagree with you?

      • peter –

        After re-reading your comments, I should say the prevalence ratio of irrational beliefs among people you agree with versus those you don’t agree with.

      • I actually meant ‘rational person’ in my reply to David. ::oops!::
        So I’ll rephrase: The vast majority of people are rational the vast majority of the time, but that doesn’t stop some of them from having one or more irrational beliefs. And there’s probably a fair number of irrational people who have one or more rational beliefs.
        The point I’m trying to make is that anyone is prone to having irrational beliefs, regardless of how rational, intelligent or sensible they might otherwise be.

      • peter –

        The point I’m trying to make is that anyone is prone to having irrational beliefs, regardless of how rational, intelligent or sensible they might otherwise be.

        Thanks for the clarification. I agree.

      • David

        It’s pretty clear to me what Lady in Red was referring to: the debate between “rational skeptics” (in the scientific sense) on one hand and “believers” (in the more religious sense) on the other.

        An example (from the Bible) is the Apostle Thomas, who doubted reports from other apostles that Jesus had risen from the dead. When Jesus confronted him, he told Thomas: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

        The “rational skeptic” is a “doubting Thomas”: he/she insists on empirical evidence to support a claim (following the scientific method and process).

        The “believer” does not need to see empirical evidence in order to believe (he/she does this as a matter of “faith”).


    • Excellent summary, Lady in Red.

      It is extremely difficult for “rational skeptics” to discuss rationally with “believers”, as theirs is not a rational thought process, but one of faith, as you write.

      In the case of AGW we also have “fear” (one of the strongest and most basic emotions) as a key motivating factor of the “believer”, making discussion on a non-emotional or rational plane next to impossible.

      But it is still fun trying…


  57. Tomas Milanovic


    It is a pity that obviously nobody read Galam’s papers and the debate veered fast to either ridiculous off topic musings about Azimov’s Fundation or vacuous digressions about lies and truth.
    None of this looked very scientific to me.

    Now as I DID read these papers I will try to make a summary for those who are too lazy to do so.
    First I think that the name “Sociophysics” is misleading.
    S.Galam explained to me in a mail why this name was chosen but I find it still misleading.
    It is so because it implies a connection between sociology which is not a science and physics which is.

    I would call this line of research “Generalised interaction models” or “Dynamics and phase changes of opinions in large ensembles” what is pretty near to the game theory.
    What is S.Galam trying to do?
    Well he is trying to modelize and predict the dynamics of large ensembles of individual particles whose interactions are governed by well defined rules at the individual level.
    The mathematical approach is exactly isomorphe to the statistical mechanics with the difference that the individual interaction rules are not conservation laws.
    Of course as S.Galam’s target particles are people deciding (voting) which of the statement A or B (or C or …) is true (supported), the elementary microscopic interaction rules are debates.
    Then he establishes a simple model of a debate among N particles which obeys the democracy principle. Of course this particular hypothesis can always be criticized as being too simple, too general etc.
    But it has clearly the merit that it is indeed like that that opinions of people are formed in reality.
    S.Galam considers his particles like blackboxes where much of what’s going inside is unknown but much of what is unknown is also irrelevant to the question of how the particle interacts with other particles when the blackbox output one is interested in is about beliefs and votes.
    The Ansatz is correct and one clearly sees that the sophistication of the individual level interaction rules doesn’t modify the idea of computing dynamics of large ensembles of individuals obeying those interaction rules.
    This is really no different from statistical mechanics or game theory and a valid approach.

    Then the next question is about prediction skills.
    Of course one can predict only what is quantified and in this domain the only quantified field are elections or collective behaviours similar to elections.
    This model has allowed S.Galam to predict and explain among others the result of the French referendum on the European constitution .
    The “No” result came as a big surprise to all journalists and politicians because the media and politics elites (both from left and right) have already voted “Yes” before the actual referendum took place.
    S.Galam rightly explained why opinions of elites may be irrelevant to the formation of opinions within the overall population.
    And as it is the latter NOT the former who matter in an election, there are many results that would be considered (by the mass media) as surprises even though they are not.

    In summary:
    1) The approach is valid, the mathematics are sound.
    2)The individual interactions are simplified but it is to be expected that in reality the number of the relevant degrees of freedom is not very high.
    3) There are some averred predictive skills
    4) It is clearly visible how the theory can be improved (e.g increasing the level of detail of the individual interactions) so that its predictive skills increase and how it can be tested.

    While all this has little to do with sociology and even less with psychology, it is an interesting scientific attempt on explaining quantitatively some parts of collective behaviour like elections.
    And you, Judith, are certainly right to enlarge your vision of science with research of this type too.
    I hope that it will enlarge the scientific culture of some of your denizens too.

    • Tomas, thanks very much for your summary. I was also disappointed that the discussion on this thread was rather shallow. Perhaps your comment will motivate some deeper discussion.

    • Tomas, so the “lying” part is political inertia, clinging to a failing realization in the hopes that it is not truly a failure, so that the ideology is carried past the point of usefulness. :)

      Much like inertia in systems lead to pseudo-chaotic behavior :)

    • > Now as I DID read these papers I will try to make a summary for those who are too lazy to do so. First I think that the name “Sociophysics” is misleading.

      Nice “summary”.

    • note that among this king of analysis you kind “Schelling’s model of spatial segregation”, popularized by books like Freakonomics (also logic of Life…)…

      what is interesting in the analysis is that it also give ideas how to change the facts by careful “manipulation”, or “rule changing”.

      for example Schelling model was’nt totally valid in france , (recently it is evolving in the same direction, probably because of humanrightist/communautarist values spreading)… In fact Schelling was assuming symmetric discrimination, while in France from our history, we have a more hierarchical system that push ghetto members to look for escape to “higher standing zone”…
      this system also is based on the fact that people change their (social&behavioral) color quite easily here (again, until recent evolution), and also (until recently) the sate is/was so strong that you did don’t need your community so much.

      this is an example that explain how you can understand and even manipulate social change by changing the rules of the game.

      another branch of that domain is analyzing the reason why the rules of the cell automaton (like shelling or Galam ) are so.
      It is in that domain that there are many interesting research to understand the (strange) rationality of actors.

      EG, in logic of life they talk about a strange discovery that sexuality is a rational choice. People having family dead of AIDS, choose more to have relation with women, whether they are women or men…

      Roland Benabou in his research about belief propagation in organizations, introduce an interesting kind of rationality : optimize belief and denial to optimize the perceived value of your own asset.
      put that model of rationality into a sociophysique model, and you obtain Benabou papers…

      the problem for climate is that it does not say who is right or wrong, like comparison to Galileo affair is always abusive (calling Galileo is a kind of Godwin event).
      It only explain how you can be fooled…

      My belief in climate, with the proof of climategate, is that even if AGW is the good thesis, we cannot be sure because with current incentive network IPCC would never admit the opposite.
      Sadly the opposite is true also… it is a battle of attorney.

      what galam says is that it cannot be different, and that swingvoters and lukewarmers will never make the result change.

    • I’m one of those who have not read the paper. One reason was the term “sociophysics”, because I have seen all too many examples of what “theories” with similar names have produced.

      Based on what you write about the content various problems of economics come into my mind. Thinking, how people behave collectively when they interact with other people in some specified way is clearly essentially for undertanding much of economics as well when attempts are made to understand stock price booms and busts and also for macroeconomic modelings. My own impression is that many macroeconomic models describe large groups of people as if they would behave like one individual disregarding the large differences due to the collective effects. While these effects are very often disregarded, there has also been a lot of research on these problems.

      Economics is an interesting field of application for such theories, because economics is more quantitative than most social sciences.

    • Good summary Tomas. Too bad we did not have this earlier. As for laziness, this is not a book club. Some of us barely have time to comment. Also, this sure looks like sociology to me, the scientific study of social behavior. I do somewhat analogous study of science, but I use a disease model, not game theory.

  58. Judith,

    The sacrificial lamb of science is for the single calculation.
    Changing models into a cylinder and assuming whatever happens on one part our planet will automatically happen everywhere.
    “Ignore rather than explore” is the consensus motto.

    • Joe,

      Do you mean that accuracy has been sacrificed?
      Yes. Let’s take 3.14159, the circle. Never to actually meet up so that we have a calculation for the different sizes of circles.

  59. What it is, in fact, is a very limited answer, since it assumes replication of human communities by physical models, so obviously it is not sensitive to attributes of complex systems.

    Sound familiar? ;-)

    Still, I agree it has value. Even though Galam tends to emphasize the physics aspects over the sociological aspects, making his work particularly limited both methodologically and metaphorically, from a fresher perspective it’s actually the kind of stuff that is helping social scientists to explore issues like the marketing of new technologies by showing how people might respond to the necessary GHG emissions reductions.

    If nothing else, his work can remind us that the causes, not just consequences, of bad policy may go unnoticed for a long time.

    In the U.S., Right- wing fundamentalists successfully hijacked Republican values quite awhile back and many people continue to be surprisingly unaware of this, and the state of all three levels of government during the Bush era, and the current consequences that they are experiencing. It’s a problem with how government is structured. Some understanding of this link between the Bush government and a huge range of butt-stupid economic and social policies – from climate change denial to denial of family planning aid – would inspire more realistic discussion of the range of choices before us.

    It is actually an appreciation of complex causation that really gives Galam’s work its value, even though the model is an unrealistically simple social system.

    As such, his work can actually highlight the unique features of human systems, such as the principles that people will demand to guide their government’s decisions about international co-operation and the well-being of its own people, in relation to climate change.

    • “In the U.S., Right- wing fundamentalists successfully hijacked Republican values”

      It’s always good to get the sort of EU, collectivist point of view from our socialist troll across the pond. Keep us up to date on how Keynes is doing this year as state run economics and a mere missing 1 Trillion dollars at the IMF as an example of your outdated statist views reflect;

      • A socialist troll from across the pond?

        I’m crushed. Crushed. :-(

        Seriously, I don’t know if anyone has taken the time to suggest this, but I wonder if BJD (Borderline Jingoistic Dysfunction) is something that helps you make sense of your beliefs. You seem to believe that you are surrounded by ‘socialists’ and ‘foreigners’. Let me know when you feel able to be more realistic, but until then, I have zero interest in a conversation with you.

    • We know your work Martha;

      res ipsa loquiter


    If there is anything wrong (lying) with the “Nursing the statistics back to health” summary cartoon please explain. Triple the human input contributions, triple the co2 as a ghg and it’s still less than 1% total impact even buying the unquantified greenhouse hypothesis.

  61. Tomas Milanovic

    The interesting and indeed depressing part of Galam’s findings is that if one takes the hypothesis that opinions are formed “democratically” e.g are a result of interactions/discussions where unaligned elements finish to align along the majority, then the system is ruled by “inflexibles”.

    The hypothesis is solid. For a vast majority of people (the lunatics are a special case) the decision for whom to vote or what opinion to support results from discussions.
    The criticism I’d do is that S.Galam supposes all opinions identical while I consider that in reality they are weighted.
    We know from experience that the “proximity function” is a weighting function and therefore the interaction democracy is not a 1 opinion = 1 vote democracy.
    To make an example : if I participate on a discussion where 10 marxists give their opinion on a controversial point related to economics then I will weight their opinions with a very low coefficient. So if I was a swinger on that particular point, then a discussion with a result 10 marxists support A and 5 non marxists support B, would be for me a result of approximately 5:1 in favour of B.

    A notion of a weighting function could certainly be included in Galam’s theory but it would be then significantly more complex.

    However it is an interesting paradox to see demonstrated (accepting the hypothesis 1 opinion=1 vote) that in a system ruled by democracy, it is the sub set with the highest proportion of “inflexibles” (e.g people not interested by a discussion or rational arguments) that wins on controversial questions where a large number of swingers is available.

    I would speculate here that it is precisely the weighting function, neglected in the model, which plays the role of a selecting agent allowing the stability of the system and avoiding us to always finish in totalitarism.
    Symmetrically one sees in history that a large number of swingers with no weighting function can be lead to a catastrophe by a small number of inflexibles (France 1792, Russia 1917, Germany 1933 etc).

    • Tomas,

      Well, at least you managed to get that one out without hurling ad hominems at everyone who disagrees with you.


    • That’s an interesting critique and examples to illustrate.

      I think that social scientists who wish to use his approach in a meaningful way to reflect complexities, have actually had to refine his opinion models quite a bit.

  62. Is it necessary to lie …?

    India ‘arrogant’ to deny global warming link to melting glaciers

    “IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri accuses Indian environment ministry of ‘arrogance’ for its report claiming there is no evidence that climate change has shrunk Himalayan glaciers”

    The truth => Glaciers were melting 100 years ago (BEFORE MID-20th Century):

    Clarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1889 – 1915)
    Tuesday 14 October 1902

    Alpine Glaciers Disappearing.

    Hotel-keepers in the Alps have a new trouble and are complaining at the loss of patrons. The attractive glaciers are said to be actually passing from the landscape, and as they recede the hotels along their borders find their visitors becoming fewer. These glaciers are not running away, by any means, but they are deteriorating slowly, with a persistency that means their final annihilation. Hotels that a few years ago stood very near to a great river of slowly-moving ice now find themselves a considerable distance away. The famous glaciers of the Rhone have shrunk several thousand feet in the last 20 years; considerably more than 100ft a year. A number of the well-known glaciers are also shrinking at about the same rate, and the fact is established that these reminders of the great glacial period are certainly disappearing.

  63. “I’m trying to put Climate Etc. into the context of Galam’s argument. What I am trying to do is build the community for floaters, and diminish the basis for inflexibles and liars.”

    Yes, that’s was is good about Climate Etc

    “If Galam’s main conclusion is correct:
    It appears that the decisive goal (to win the public debate competition) should be to get a lead, even small, in the respective inflexible densities.”
    Then Climate Etc. is fighting an uphill battle.”

    Winning the debate is was politicians do. It’s what defend lawyer’s do.
    The OJ trial shows that lying works to win an argument- win the debate- get your client not put in prison.

    The interesting question, is why would any scientist want to lie.

    I can understand why politicians and lawyers might feel they have to lie.
    Neither politician or lawyer wants to lie- they are faced with a situation where they lack the ability to win- yet regard winning as the only option.

    The climate debate can not be won by lying. Because it’s not one debate.
    I would say the climatic debate has been “won” by lying, but the winning doesn’t last- and the lies catch up to you. As there are at the moment.

    The “better lies” are the kind that distract- get your opponent focusing their attention on something which is unfruitful. Your opponent is one person[s]
    and the audience.

    Or in war one lies. A “honest war” is lining up the two side and every kills each other. Instead with war you distract your enemy and chose your battle where you can win.
    But life isn’t all about war- though some people might think it is.
    But it’s a good idea to know that life involves wars. And idea that one is going end war forever is foolish. One could perhaps end certain types of wars, and promote “better types” of war.

  64. Judith Curry

    Tomas Milanovic decries the fact that the discussion here has veered away from the studies by Galam (on group decision making, consensus versus extremism, role of compromise, inflexibles and liars, etc.).

    I have read these studies, and would agree that they are all very interesting but IMO off the mark as regards the question raised: “Is it necessary to lie to win a controversial public debate” (referring this question to the ongoing public debate on the open science and policy questions surrounding AGW).

    The key issue here IMO is to go back to the basics, i.e. the empirical scientific data.

    Sociophysics is not the issue here IMO: it is plain old physics.

    “Lying” in order to “win a controversial public debate” is sure to backfire in the long run, because the truth will eventually come to light (as it did, for example, with the Mann Hockey Stick).

    That is why I believe that Climate Etc. IS on the right track: not necessarily to influence the individual opinions on the issue (as ScepticalScience and RealClimate attempt to do), but rather to provide an open forum where the “facts” can be discussed, so that individuals can make up their own minds based on these facts.

    The issue is not as simple as some claim – but it is also far less complicated than others would have us believe.


  65. Mathematical modeling of group thinking ot behavior is probably more valid than mathematical modeling of climate.

    However it seems “sociophysics” is probably a fad. It is not physics. There are probably others in mathematical sociology, numerical marketing, statitistical psychology, predictive microeconomics, etc. One day they will talk together and make progress, with or without a new name.

    • Btw, politicians don’t lie, they just play loosely with the truth and are allowed to change their minds later.

  66. You don’t have to lie, you just have to be more articulate and more relatable to whatever audience is watching in.

  67. (FWIW – I am always amazed at the mostly O/T tangential issues that dominate the comments on Judith’s site here…)

    I was actually rather impressed by Galam’s five questions:

    Why have alarmists made overstatements while there exists no alternative explanation?

    By this I assume Galam means that there was no reason to exaggerate. Good point. He may not have been the very first to do so, but lately I have been discovering some of Hansen’s statements over the years, and, by the gods, the man is a lunatic. I honestly would not be surprised to hear some day that he bays at the moon. he is so over the top, how could any rational person not see the overstatement every time he opens his mouth?

    Why did alarmists succeed in getting the majority of public opinion to align along their unproved claim ?

    This goes to the two Villach, Switzerland, conferences in the 1980s. The first one, with the attendees representing their governments, ended in not much “consensus.” They congregated later in the decade, this time with no governments involved, and with only alarmists invited, so it was all preaching to the choir. With only alarmists there, a consensus was easy to attain. They have been asserting that consensus ever since. Who was the public to know that the scientists weren’t being on the up and up about “consensus”? The public had no reason to think of scientists as anything but honest, with no axe to grind. Basically, the public was trusting and the alarmists took advantage of that. Polciymakers, too.

    Why did skeptics who adopt a rigorous scientific position without advocating an alternative claim fail (up to recently) to crystallize at least some part of the public opinion?

    (I assume a run-on sentence/idea there…)

    WHY is it necessary to provide an alternative at all? Do we demand any defense counsel in criminal court to prove an alternative suspect perpetrated the crime in question? Of course not. It is only necessary to create a reasonable doubt.

    And basically the skeptics’ agenda (if there is a single one) is the same as a defense counsel – that we SEE that there is a reasonable doubt, and we try to get others to recognize that the case is not proven, not by a long shot. The prosecution (alarmists) have presented – from day one – a half-baked case. All we have to do is make it clear to the jury (the public, and especially the policymakers) that the case should be thrown out of court, because the prosecution hasn’t presented a case worthy of the court’s time.

    Why despite the skeptic failure has the alarmist majority been very adamant in slamming the skeptic behavior?

    One word: Insecurity.

    From 40 years in the working world, I’ve observed that the one manager to avoid is the one who knows he is scamming the bosses and is afraid his fraud will be discovered. (That is not the same thing as ALL of us wondering how we got where we are – in this case, it is severe insecurity.)

    Read the emails! Behind closed doors, it is completely obvious that these guys are like the man behind the curtain – they know the science doesn’t stand up to close inspection. They know their only defense is to diss the opposition, to make any muckrakers appear to have agendas, to attack, attack, attack. When there is no defense for one’s research, (and there isn’t) then the only ploy is to attack.

    Again, read the emails! It is all in there.

    Why are alarmists suddenly and quickly loosing support in public opinion?

    One word: Climategate.

    One phrase: “Hide the decline.”

    Up to November, 2009, the alarmists had everything their way. For over 20 years the alarmists had had things their way; they were the “favored son” of science editors everywhere. Those science editors were almost universally puppies on the laps of the alarmists. Until then the effect of all the skeptics was basically nil. Skeptical appeals to look at ALL the science was swept away with disdain, year after year. WUWT and CA had plenty of site visitors, and plenty of grass-roots supporters. But Skeptics had been marginalized.

    Only when Climategate got out into the main stream media (within days, almost within hours) did anyone get the idea that the scientist might not have been on the up-and-up. “Hide the decline” put doubt in the minds of public and journailsts and editors alike. “Hide the decline” created enough doubt to take the podium monopoly away from the alarmists. Enough people read enough about hide the decline that they became a tough audience.

    It was not anything the skeptics did. They are still doing the same things they did before November 2009. It is just that the audience now has a more skeptical mindset – about the honesty of the scientists.

    And it was all done in by the scientists’ own words, among themselves, telling each other to use “Mike’s trick” to “hide the decline.” The public didn’t even have to know what decline.

    So, the “sudden” reason was that the alarmists most central to the entire global warming meme had shot themselves in the foot – with their own bullets fired years before.

  68. “So, the “sudden” reason was that the alarmists most central to the entire global warming meme had shot themselves in the foot – with their own bullets fired years before.”

    But what some might not be understood is they are doomed to do so.

    What lying is, is basically keeping a secret.
    No secret can be kept.
    What ended the lie, wasn’t climategate. What ended it was that climate become vaguely important.
    Al Gore ended AGW.
    Just as Obama will end socialism.
    Hurray for Al Gore. And hurray for Obama.
    Nor should we forget Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
    All of them will be forgotten, because they are essentially, douche bags,
    but for the moment we should not forget how much they have
    helped the world.
    It will sad day when Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid lose the rest of their
    As it would be wondrous, to witness a conversation of Nancy, Harry, Al, and Obama 20 to 30 years from now. They being retired and on some vacation cruise, and hopeful as sane as they are now [improvement is hoping for too much], talking as normal people to each other.
    What would they say to each other. That would be very interesting.
    Of course, my wish is they would taking a cruise ship to the Moon or Mars.

  69. Is this a lie?
    markus says:

    “In the case of an isobaric process, where pressure is constant and independent of temperature such as the one operating at the Earth surface, it is the physical force of atmospheric pressure that can only fully explain the observed near-surface thermal enhancement.”

    Love your work Ned.

    So, if our atmosphere was upended, the thermal enhancement would radiate in all directions at its near surface with space, the same as it would as if it was the normal way around.

    And, the kinetic energy of gas, not its chemical composition is what explains its thermal enhancement capacity.

    I can only surmise, there is no thermal enhancement back into the system without a increase in kinetic energy. The isobaric atmosphere resists by expansion any increase in pressure, thereby, maintaining the thermal enhancement capacity within it, near the Earths surface. Changes to atmosphere can change nRT = PV.

    I’m salivating for more info Ned.

    Anybody got a tester for the PV of C02 in a stratified atmosphere, or for that matter, know it already?

    • Is this Pressure Induced Thermal Enhancement theory a lie, or is it a hoax, or is it incompetent science?

      Guarantee one thing, it is not correct.

      • How much incoming solar radiation is converted into kinetic energy in the atmosphere ?.

      • Axel Kleidon has estimated this fraction. Wind speeds follow a maximum entropy distribution so average energies are easy to derive.

        Kleidon was a featured post a few days ago and his research articles are easy to find.

    • “maksimovich | January 19, 2012 at 1:40 am |

      How much incoming solar radiation is converted into kinetic energy in the atmosphere ?.”

      None. It is the conversions in the velocity of it’s mass by conduction, that defines the kinetic and therefore, thermal capacity of atmosphere.

      As an aside, yes, it eventually, over a times series of physical phenomenon, re-radiate to space.

  70. “What I am trying to do is build the community for floaters, and diminish the basis for inflexibles and liars.”

    Then you have misread me.

  71. “Sociophysics” is not a field. It’s an opinion.

  72. I’m scare for our future when I read this post all comments. Very instructive !

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  75. What’s not to like!!

  76. WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait ..

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