by Judith Curry
On the other hand, serial climate disinformer Judith Curry (Georgia Tech) announced “Consensus distorts the climate picture.” – Michael Mann
What, exactly, is a ‘disinformer’?. From the Wikipedia:
Disinformation is intentionally false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately. It is an act of deception and false statements to convince someone of untruth. Disinformation should not be confused with misinformation, information that is unintentionally false.
Unlike traditional propaganda techniques designed to engage emotional support, disinformation is designed to manipulate the audience at the rational level by either discrediting conflicting information or supporting false conclusions. A common disinformation tactic is to mix some truth and observation with false conclusions and lies, or to reveal part of the truth while presenting it as the whole truth.
Information is any kind of event that affects the state of a dynamic system that can interpret the information. Conceptually, information is the message (utterance or expression) being conveyed. Therefore, in a general sense, information is “Knowledge communicated or received concerning a particular fact or circumstance”, or rather, information is an answer to a question. Information cannot be predicted and resolves uncertainty. The uncertainty of an event is measured by its probability of occurrence and is inversely proportional to that. The more uncertain an event, the more information is required to resolve uncertainty of that event.
Huh? Then what exactly is ‘false’ information? Let me try again; here is what the dictionary says:
information: knowledge that you get about someone or something: facts or details about a subject
In case you are confused, fortunately our favorite social psychologist, Stefan Lewandowski, has a paper which explains all:
Misinformation, disinformation, and violent conflict: From Iraq and the “War on Terror” to future threats to peace.
Various scholars have offered significant refinements to this basic formulation. Also, rigorous scientific use of the term “fact” is careful to distinguish: 1) states of affairs in the external world; from 2) assertions of fact that may be considered relevant in scientific analysis. The term is used in both senses in the philosophy of science.
In terms of actual scientific facts in climate science, we have the infrared emission spectra of CO2. The rest of what passes for ‘information’ in the parlance of Lewandowsky, Mann etc. is really hypotheses or theories.
Disagreement with someone’s hypothesis or theory, or not being convinced, does not make them a misinformer, disinformer or denier.
People discussing misinformation and disinformation in the context of a scientific debate are commonly doing so in context of frustrations and failures in their own propaganda to stimulate a policy response based on their view of what ‘science says’.
Accusations of misinformer, disinformer, denier are frequently made in context of criticisms of Michael Mann’s research. Some of the primary examples:
- Richard Mullers criticism of ‘hide the decline’ (and my agreement) [link]
- My suggestion at RealClimate to read Montford’s The Hockey Stick Illusion [link]
- Rob Wilson’s recent declaration that Mann’s reconstructions were a ‘crock of xxxx’ [link]
Note, each of these criticisms was made in the context of an argument made in a presentation (or in the case of Montford’s book, by my referring people to Montford’s arguments), and were not ‘namecalling’ but referred to specific elements of Mann’s work.
Mann’s ‘charming’ response to Rob Wilson, with heavy use of the ‘D’ word, is described in this thread at WUWT.
David Rose tweeted an amusing response:
There is no climate mis/disinformation campaign
What would a climate mis/disinformation campaign look like? Trying to convince the world that CO2 greenhouse effect doesn’t exit? Skydragons have tried that; no one pays attention to them.
Those unconvinced by the IPCC assessments merely have to say the assessment is overconfident, there are large uncertainties, etc. It comes back to the null hypothesis issue: the burden of proof is on the IPCC. A mis/disinformation campaign isn’t needed to counter the IPCC assessments.
I was struck by this recent tweet from Bill Chameides: