To publish BS or not, that’s the question


Richard Tol levied a strong accusation at Judith Curry for highlighting two seriously flawed papers (via twitter):

Its wrong, but with @JudithCurry lending her authority it becomes disinformation

Judith defended herself in a post where she tries to shift the blame to the mainstream scientists:

 Here is a quiz for you.  How many of these disinformation tactics [a list containing a mix of logical fallacies and avoidance tactics] are used by:

  • JC (moi)
  • Public spokespersons for the IPCC
  • Joe Romm
  • Marc Morano

If that’s not a dog-whistle I don’t know what is. 

Keith has a nice rundown of the discussion, and the ensuing thread over there contains many good comments. He’s got a knack for hosting interesting discussions.

Richard has since laid out his argument as to what’s wrong with the papers in a guest post over at CE.  Basically they’re methodologically flawed:

Using “detrended” fluctuation analysis to study “trends” was a dead giveaway that something is not quite right with these papers.

Tol goes on to write: 

7. There is a substantial body of climate research that is credible — even if it reaches opposite conclusions — but there are also papers (left, right, and center) that are just flawed.
8. If flawed papers reach a certain prominence, they should be debunked. Prominent but flawed research does damage as it misinforms people about climate change. Publicly criticizing such research hardens the existing polarization.
9. If flawed papers linger in obscurity, they should be ignored. The papers are wrong but do no damage. Lifting a flawed paper out of obscurity only to debunk it, is no good to anybody.

Curry takes especially issue with the last statement:

Yours isn’t a statement about science, but about playing politics with science, and reinforces the gatekeeping mentality in climate science that was embarassingly revealed by the CRU emails. (…)

Of course scientists don’t want the public to be misinformed about the science! So If I’m concerned about public understanding of science, I’m automatically “playing politics with science”? Then I sure hope every scientist is.

Judith rightly says that “Of course there are flawed papers that get published.” But why shining the spotlight on them? What’s gained by doing so?

It’s true that these discussions don’t occur about science without policy relevance. Research on the mating behavior of fruit flies won’t result in argument whether a flawed paper should be promoted in the public sphere or not.

The differences are that 1) such research is not present in the public sphere, because the public isn’t interested, and 2) even though flawed papers exist in any field, the more its conclusions clash with ideologies, the more attempts will be made to reach opposite conclusions and thus the more deeply flawed/biased papers will be published. It’s not a coincidence that there’s no fruitflies-version of EIKE or Heartland. 


Most people don’t come to climate etc. to reinforce their prejudices (there are far too many echo chambers where this is much more satisfyingly accomplished). They come here to learn something by considering the various arguments.

The general tone of comments at CE makes me strongly doubt this last statement.


I would agree with you [no harm done by highlighting flawed studies] if climate blogs were exclusively read by well-intentioned, well-informed, and intelligent people.

Richard further shows his mastery in the tweet-universe with one-liners such as

I argue for self-censorship. It is what separates adults from children.

Over at CaS, Roger Pielke Jr makes the point that wrong or bad articles can be a useful teaching tool. And indeed they can. But as Stoat rightly says,

within a managed class structure with someone guiding the discussion, it is fine to discuss flawed texts, for the reason given: it encourages critical thinking. That wasn’t what Curry was doing.


Curry took two papers that almost nobody had read, and put them in the limelight.
The papers say 2+2=5.
There are a lot of people who would like to believe that. It is not true.
So now there is yet another dogfight about whether the answer is 3, 4, or 5. We can do without that.
There are plenty of real issues to argue over.

Jonathan Gilligan, consistently thoughtful, writes:

Pielke has said that he views blogs as more like the kind of discussions people conduct over beers at the neighborhood bar, and from that perspective Richard’s criticism makes no more sense than telling the crowd at the pub to leave sports commentary to the experts. 

Tol makes some valid points here, but Pielke is more persuasive. People will read these blogs or not as they choose, and when a blog repeatedly calls attention to crap, its credibility and its audience will adjust to reflect this. Climate Etc. is not The Wall Street Journal, so the greater danger in Curry’s gushing over crap is to Curry’s reputation, not to the public understanding of science.

I have also compared blogs to bar-discussions (quoting Bob Grumbine), but that comparison is about the presence (or lack) of quality control. As Tol rightly says, 

With academics blogging and tweeting, and journalists, and prime ministers, and institutes, departments, agencies and companies, I don’t think there is a one-rule-fits-all.

At CE, thousands of people are listening. Judith’s opinion and her writings make their way to the general public and politicians via mainstream media and Senate hearings as well. By the scale of those who are engaged in the conversation, that is orders of magnitude different from a discussion in a bar. That also means that the risk is twofold: Both to Curry’s reputation (her problem) and to the public understanding of science (everyone’s problem, even though Curry tries to belittle that).

Whereas Tol argued based on methodological flaws, Fred Moolten explains why the papers’ conclusions are unsupportable on physical grounds and I made a similar argument:

Conservation of energy precludes the climate to wonder off too far in any direction without being “forced” to by changing boundary conditions. Unless of course the energy is merely being redistributed within the system. Which it isn’t, since all other compartments of the climate system are gaining energy.

The paper’s conclusion that the observed warming is “predominantly a natural 100-year fluctuation” is at odds with conservation of energy.

All very reminiscent of the random walk saga and the Harry Potter theory of climate.


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170 Responses to “To publish BS or not, that’s the question”

  1. dana1981 Says:

    Good post Bart. At Skeptical Science we’re always struggling with the fact that the more often a myth is repeated – even while being debunked – the more likely people are to remember the myth. The same principle applies here. Even if the poor research is debunked as a result of Curry highlighting it (and Tol did a nice job debunking it), people are still more likely to remember ‘this paper showed global warming is just a 100-year cycle’. There’s no reason to draw attention to poor research, but Curry doesn’t seem capable of distinguishing good research from poor research.

    I also agree that Curry’s opinion of her readership in general is rather delusional. Most of the comments on CE are on roughly the same level as those at WUWT, and readers clearly do go to CE to reinforce their prejudices (and Curry is quite good at reinforcing them).

  2. Nebuchadnezzar Says:

    It’s true that 1000s are listening (I imagine – they’re clicking on the links and reading at least even if they’re not ‘listening’) at Climate etc. which gives a compelling reason for those with the wherewithal to criticise such papers to do so.

    Once the papers are out there, they do need to be criticized and that needs to be done well. Other blogs (from all corners of the debate) have torn equally bad papers to pieces.

    Richard Tol has, I think, the wherewithal, but his arguments against the papers are weak. He points out that the data are detrended, but if the data hadn’t been detrended he could have criticized that too. In fact, it’s already covered in his critique as being tautological. Other posters have pointed out far more serious flaws that have gone almost unremarked.

  3. willard Says:

    > [Keith]’s got a knack for hosting interesting discussions.


  4. Keith Kloor Says:

    Bart, thanks for the shout-out. The feeling is mutual. With your post, you’ve also added additional perspective to the larger issues related to this dust-up.

  5. Steve Easterbrook Says:

    I occasionally wander over to Curry’s blog, and I’m always shocked that she never takes the opportunity to educate her audience. To me, that’s the first job of an academic. People post all sorts of nonsense comments on her blog, some of it quite ugly: gross distortions of the science, misunderstandings on how science is done, ad hominems against scientists, diatribes against the IPCC, etc. A good teacher would step in from time to time and (perhaps gently) guide people away from the untruths. Curry almost never takes such opportunities. Whatever she thinks she’s doing with her blog, it’s nothing to do with education nor good science communication. It’s not even like a bar discussion – more like a bar room brawl.

  6. Tom Says:

    When anybody takes on a dual role, they let themselves in for trouble–especially when both roles have a public-facing element.

    As a scientist, before she started blogging Curry was extremely restrained in her language. She hasn’t been a wild woman on her blog, either, by the way. It’s fairly clear that her characterization of where the science is is not that far from yours, Bart–she just has taken on board many of the criticisms of process and procedure put forward by people like McIntyre, and to a lesser extent Mosher and myself.

    And this argument is about process and procedure. The criticisms of Curry in this matter are about her role as an editor, not a writer. She is elevating work to the attention of that subsection of the public that regularly patronizes her site.

    Here’s why I don’t think she should be criticized too much (but maybe a little). First, most of her readers are in fact regulars–her site is self-limiting in that regard, as are most climate blogs. So readers are not likely to be surprised by her featuring these two papers, after monster threads on Sky Dragon issues. Second, she didn’t endorse them–and no, publishing is not endorsing, folks. She’s done this several times, and each time it has engendered the same type (if not the same volume) of criticism. Third, she was very quick to lavish the same editorial space and attention on criticism of the papers. When Gavin gives space to McIntyre for the same purpose, let me know.

    I think Tol pretty much demolished the two papers. I think Judith was just publishing something that she thought would interest her readers. I doubt if she worked through the stats (I’m sure she could, but I don’t believe she took the time, knowing that her readers and critics would do so).

    Most of the criticism I have seen starts off with the same foolish, flawed premise–that she has an agenda that is hostile to science. It’s pure stupidity, of course, as anyone who looks at her curriculum vitae or a cross-selection of her published work can see.

    Without that false assumption, what we are left with is this–a respected scientist who has seen the alienation of a broad swathe of the population due to the misshapen communications policies of the Consensus Team, and is working to provide a communications bridge to the other side–one that also often serves as an educational tool.

    Once you realize that Judith is very much on your side, Bart, it changes the questions you ask about situations like these.

  7. dana1981 Says:

    Tom – where you see “the alienation of a broad swathe of the population due to the misshapen communications policies of the Consensus Team,” I see the misinformation of a broad swathe of the population due to the disinformation campaign of the so-called “skeptic” movement. Curry has aided that disinformation campaign by highlighting these horrid papers.

    And I daresay that Curry isn’t building any bridges by using terms like “CAGW idealogues”.

  8. Tom Says:

    Well, dana1981, you’re welcome to disagree with me.

    Bart, we could look at this example instructively. Curry says she is pleased with how this has played out. Where does it take us if we take her at her word?

    If she is pleased with the outcome, perhaps this is what she wanted. So what did she get? A spirited discussion on several levels (scientific, statistical, political and emotional) that highlighted issues of importance regarding aspects of natural variability. For those who so wish, there are teachable moments aplenty in the various venues where this has been discussed over the past few days.

    But at the end of the day, the argument that natural variability is sufficient to explain 20th Century temperature rises is weaker. The argument that other causes are likely involved is stronger.

    We can take her at her word or disbelieve her. (I take her at her word.) But regardless of her intentions or motives, how on earth can you be displeased with the outcome, Bart?

  9. Bart Says:


    Let me point out that I definitely did not start “with the same foolish, flawed premise–that she has an agenda that is hostile to science.” Not sure if that was directed at me or more of a general statement, but you’ll see from the progression of my posting about Curry that I have long given her the benefit of the doubt, until long after most mainstreamers had given up on her.

    I am displeased with the outcome of having further confused the public about the scietific thinking about current climate change.

  10. Deech56 Says:

    By playing up uncertainty and casting aspersions of her colleagues, Curry has not built bridges, but rather reaffirmed the position of those who doubt the reality of climate change. Are there any examples of people in her entourage being converted into accepting mainstream science?

    Physics Today had an interesting article about the climate controversy in light of past controversies surrounding heliocentrism and general relativity. This quote caught my eye:

    Many who are unwilling to accept the full brunt of greenhouse warming have embraced a more comforting compromise reminiscent of the Tychonic system: that CO2 has some role in climate but its importance is being exaggerated. But accepting a nonzero warming effect puts one on a slippery slope: Once acknowledged, the effect must be quantified, and every legitimate method for doing so yields a significant magnitude.

    If this does not describe the “lukewarmer” position, I don’t know what does.The effect of CO2 has been quantified, but I don’t think Curry (and others) like the answer.

    Speaking of slippery slopes, in building bridges to the doubters, Curry has been burning bridges to the scientific community. It is interesting to see her responses to the BEST group’s results. I think that the BEST effort was a genuine exercise in examining a point of contention yet she found a way to bash it.

  11. Deech56 Says:

    *ON her colleagues

  12. Roger Pielke Jr. Says:

    Bart, I left this deep in a thread at KK’s and thought I’d share here also …

    To make this case [that what scientists say or don’t say on blogs or in public actually matters] you need to show that

    (a) blog discussions (or media more generally) have a detectable influence on public opinion

    (b) that change in public opinion has detectable political effects

    (c) those political effects have an effect on policy

    In The Climate Fix have summarized polling data and several empirical studies of the relationship of public opinion and political action that suggest that you cannot in fact support (a), (b) and (c).

    Your argument is the well worn “linear model” which posits that if scientists speak with one voice about “the facts” then the public, politicians and eventually policy action will follow as the scientists prefer. Such a model of political action is appealing to many scientists because it posits that what we say on blogs and elsewhere has great importance. But what if we are just folks chatting in a corner bar? ;-)

  13. Tom Says:

    Hiya Bart

    Well, your displeasure displeases me ;)

    But the cause of your displeasure is a phantom–at what point was the public in any way, shape or form clear about the origins, causes, state or effects of climate change?

    It’s a pity that this particular issue, natural variability, is being addressed at a lower rung of the ladder than strictly necessary. But I don’t think it has any effect on public opinion.

    Remember that public opinion is firmly in your corner. What happens here and at Curry’s blog has absolutely no effect on public opinion.

    The fact that you’ll never convince me that Rajendra Pachauri should continue in his position or someone like Amac that the handling of Tiljander proxies was done correctly means effectively nothing about what the public believes or will support. And they are on your side.

    Judith Curry’s site is not aimed at the general public, and the general public does not go there. There is no climate weblog that attracts the general public. To continue with Dr. Pielke’s analogy, we’re in a corner bar near the library, not a glam nightclub downtown. And on nights when Dr. Curry is tending bar, she tries to keep the bikers calm and so she talks with them. Less broken furniture that way.

  14. willard Says:

    Roger Pielke Jr has not shown us why scientists’ public statements should have a “detectable” influence on public opinion, political effects, and policy to “matter”. In fact, being “detectable” is an underspecified term here. It might not be appropriate to handwave to our own commercial work to back up this argument, let alone proper in a tavern setting.

    Unless, of course, we’re not in a tavern, but in a Tupperware evening?

  15. cynicus Says:

    Roger Pielke Jr.

    First, I’m not a sociology scholar but I think your points A, B and C have all been shown to be true.

    A. A search on Google Scholar returns many much-cited studies connecting media coverage influences public opinion.
    A few examples:
    – M.E. McCombs 19774 The agenda-setting function of the mass-media.
    – B. Bushman 2001 Media violence and the American public: Scientific facts versus media misinformation. (perhaps a nice parallel on the AGW discussion)
    – W. Wanta 2001 Agenda setting and international news: Media influence on public perceptions of foreign nations

    And, ofcourse, let’s not forget the measured drop in pubic acceptance of AGW after the climategate media storm.

    B. Let’s take the example of the Dutch populist politician Geert Wilders who hypes that Islam is a threat to our society. Islam was not an widely discussed topic for long, but the media reported ever more played-down problems with uncontrollable (mostly) young Marocs. This triggered a shift in public opinion which Wilders exploited. His one-issue party performed extraordinary well during the last elections, So, yes, a change in public opinion has a detectable political effect.

    C. Wilders enabled the formation of a minority government and subsequently has great influence in policy created by this minority government on the topics he finds important. So, yes, a change in politics has an effect on policy.

    It seems to me like all prerequisites for public and policy influencing by media are clearly met. And, frankly, this outcome seems rather obvious if you ask me, why else would there be an advertisement industry if influencing the public opinion through the media doesn’t work?

  16. Dana Says:

    To Pielke Jr. I would say:

    (a) see Fox News

    (b) see the 2012 Republican presidential nominees

    (c) see (b) and the current US Congress. And the President, for that matter.

    I would agree that Curry’s blog doesn’t have an impact on the general public (though I would hope Skeptical Science has at least a small impact through its rebuttal database and iPhone App, for example) but Curry certainly does impact her readership, and amplifying bad science results in a negative impact. As Bart notes, the public, or at least the segment that includes the Curry readership, becomes more confused.

    Curry has also been quoted in a lot of mainstream media sources outside her blog, where she can have a significant impact on the public, and she seems to manage to spread misinformation and confusion every time that happens.

  17. Bart Says:


    You make some fair points. Not sure if I agree, but I’ll admit that I’m not familiar with the data that you claim back up your position, nor with data that back up the opposite (besides perhaps the anecdotal examples that cynicus and Dana bring up, of which there are plenty more I think).

    So far, I am mostly concerned with a): Public perception of science and closing the gap between that perception and the scientific evidence. In that sense, it is clear that Curry’s blog has much more influence than talking in a bar (judged by the amount of people listening directly and indirectly via her blog viewpoints propagating outwards). The media has played an important (though not the only) role in creating that gap, and thus it can also play a role in bridging it. ( )

  18. OPatrick Says:

    There is considerably more doubt about anthropogenic climate change in the public’s minds than is justified by the available science, so where does this doubt come from?

    I have little doubt, based on personal experience, that at least in part it seeps in from the blogs. These are messages people want to hear, so there is an osmosis pump pushing it through.

  19. Bart Says:

    (cross-posted at CaS):

    On the influence of blogs: I agree that blogs mainly cater to the incrowd, let me quote Keith:

    “It’s hard to quantify to what degree they influence the public discourse on climate science and policy. Suffice to say: they matter.”

    In the interview Keith did with me and Lucia (see previous link) I concurred that those who are immersed in the climate blogs are not representative of the general public, and that we are basically talking amongst ourselves (the tow most polarized groups in the public debate). But discussions at blogs can influence the general opinion in several ways: By the avid blog readers to act as the front-runners/trend setters in the societal debate. Judith specifically coined a term for that; type 1,2,3,4 or some such. Another way, which I aluded to before, is that blog posts may make their way to the MSM and politicians. This is clear for e.g. WUWT, CA, RC and CP. CE may enter that league as well. If not the blog posts direclty, then definitely by her blogging having raised her visibility, so that she’s on many journalists’ cellphone at the moment.

    I once read an article in a Dutch (!) newspaper, in the aftermath of climategate, that was clearly based on a WUWT article. In the whole climategate reporting the blogosphere played a tremendously important role. I know of a research project looking specifically into that, but at least qualitatively, the influence is clear.

  20. Tom Says:

    I dunno, Bart. Climategate got propagated by a heckuva lot more than blogs.

    Major media–George Monbiot, Fred Pearce, etc., jumped all over it.
    More importantly, the major media covered some of the preliminary investigations. It was on medium-level television here in the States. A book was published on it within 30 days.

    I just don’t see the blogosphere as all that influential. And I think that’s sad–a lot of good things are on blogs, if you pick through the dross.

    But for now, the climate blogosphere consists of about 3,000 people who rush from one blog to the next, shouting at each other.

    Kind of like a pub crawl after a big match, actually.

  21. Eli Rabett Says:

    Remember, this is the Richard Tol who took Michael to task for saying that the public should be educated about climate issues, accusing MT of being authoritarian. Following that inanity Tol and his playmate Pielke Jr. tossed Michael to the wolves aka Morano and Fox News.

    And now Tol is the clown arguing that Judy Curry should educate her audience? GEAFB.

  22. Richard Tol Says:

    Michael T and I have discussed this extensively in public and private.

    MT believes (1) that there is a scientific imperative for policy; and (2) that people would agree with him if only they knew as much as he did.

    MT is non-violent. But much wrong has been based on those two mistaken premises.

  23. OPatrick Says:

    Tom says “I dunno, Bart. Climategate got propagated by a heckuva lot more than blogs.” But just because most people don’t get their information directly from blogs doesn’t mean that those blogs don’t influence their understanding of climate change.

    Where do the media get their talking points from? If I type in a phrase like “attribution of global temperatures” into Google I get Judith Curry and Steven Goddard (!) on the first page. I don’t get a conversation from down The White Hart.

  24. Brandon Shollenberger Says:

    I saw a link to this post over on Judith Curry’s blog, and I wanted to say something important. From the main post:

    The paper’s conclusion that the observed warming is “predominantly a natural 100-year fluctuation” is at odds with conservation of energy.

    This comment misses an important point. As I explained here, these papers use a non-standard definition of “natural.” From their abstract:

    ‘Natural’ means that we do not have within a defined confidence interval a definitely positive anthropogenic contribution and, therefore, only a marginal anthropogenic contribution can not be excluded.

    As you can see from this, when they say something is “a natural fluctuation,” they don’t mean to say they know it wasn’t caused by anthropogenic influence, merely that they cannot confirm it was caused by an anthropogenic influence. If you keep this definition in mind, their conclusions certainly do not contradict conservation of energy. They don’t even rule out the possibility of the observed warming being primarily caused by anthropogenic influences. They merely claim it isn’t necessary to explain things. Their definition has caused understandable confusion, but as I said at Curry’s blog:

    the authors likely wrote this post with the thought they were discussing their papers, so people reading it would have read their papers. This would make them expect people to understand their intended meaning. It’s a reasonable expectation, even if it isn’t right.

    A lot of people have misunderstood what these papers are claiming, for understandable reasons. The definition they use is clearly stated up-front, but if you don’t read the paper, it’s easy to miss.

    In any event, I think pretty much everyone can agree that whatever merits or flaws the papers may have, their conclusions ought to represented accurately.

  25. willard Says:

    Here is what Lazar thinks of the paper:

    Can something uninformative count as desinformation?

  26. Lazar Says:

    Hi willard.

    For those like myself with a rudimentary grasp of statistics, it is easy to understand that the paper provides no information on the causes of surface temperature change. Those like myself with a rudimentary grasp of climate science, know that the question has been addressed by better studies using better methods. To most of the population with a less than rudimentary grasp of either, if presented without guidance it may be dis or desinformative due to the way the conclusions have been worded. But the two definitions are kinda fungible. Is that a reasonable answer? Or is it uninformative? :-) Do you have an alternative view?

    As RP Jr has wandered off, here’s one definition of “detectable” and “matter” which is perhaps as good as any other…

    “So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing”

  27. Lazar Says:

    Psst… Fred Moolten notices the same problem wrt (mis)interpreting a null hypothesis test.

  28. Hank Roberts Says:

    > Roger Pielke
    > you need to show that … change in public opinion
    > has detectable political effects…. studies of the relationship
    > of public opinion and political action that suggest that you cannot

    So, let’s say public opinion does not have detectable effects on politics.

    What does then?

  29. Bart Says:

    That would be quite worrisome, wouldn’t it?

  30. Eli Rabett Says:


    Nuts, you and Roger were quite happy to leave the impression that MT wanted to kill others who disagreed with him and Morano, with your help, ran with it. Do you want the bunny to pull some quotes?

    You still have not apologized although grovel would be more Paterno necessary.

  31. cynicus Says:

    Bart, here’s another gem from a recent Washington Post op-ed:

    Support for federal backing of renewables is slipping…

    “Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, argued that the shift in support makes sense given the media coverage many Republicans receive from outlets such as Fox News.

    “It is not surprising that support for federal funding for clean energy drops among Republicans when their major source of information is a ‘news’ network that is pushing an anti-environment, anti-science, anti-government agenda 24/7”

    Hmmm, media feeds fodder to the conservatives who pressure politicians into removing support for renewables? What? This can’t be true because a certain professor argued here that he has written a book that claims this doesn’t happen…

    Amazing, don’t you think?

  32. willard Says:


    Nice parable, but let’s not forget that the saved sheep may be the 1% and thus may deserve it.

    Another way to analyze what matters at Judith’s or any other blogger: why blog? If it has no detectable effect on the population, why blog? If it has no tangible impact on policy, why blog?

    Why blog?

    Perhaps the belief that it matters matters as much as any fact of the matter showing that it matters.

    * * *

    I’d be interested to know how Roger Jr sets up his demonstration in his book: how many pages it took, how many citations, etc. If it’s not too long, it might be possible to quote it.

    Tupperware evenings do not talk the stuff, but offer demos. One can have a feel of the stuff before buying it.

    * * *

    In any case, it seems my question to Jonathan Gilligan went into oblivion too:

    Many thanks!

  33. Steven Sullivan Says:

    I’m pleased to read here that two of her most fervent fans — Fuller and Pielke the Younger — don’t think Curry’s blog has much political or scientific influence. By all means let’s hope it never does.

  34. Tom Fuller Says:

    I’m displeased to see that the usual crowd has the same tenuous grasp on reality that has characterized every conversation in which they have participated.

  35. Michael Tobis Says:

    Richard Tol has withdrawn his suggestion that I advocated “re-education camps” and apologized for it. I’m willing to leave it alone and have accepted his apology. I didn’t say so at Kloor’s because Keith was mad at our past tiff hijacking his thread.

    His summary of my position is not precisely what I’ve agreed to. I say that *under most ethical frameworks* there is a scientific imperative for action. This amendment has some substantive importance. Science itself is and must be value-neutral; it is only in the context of an ethical framework that science can imply any normative behavior.

    That said, I do believe that most people’s positions would move toward much more vigorous emissions policy if they properly understood the configuration of the evidence.

    I think this is almost a tautology; it seems to me to hold for anyone advocating any evidence-based position. Why Tol finds it a matter of concern escapes me.

    On the matter of Curry’s behavior, i.e., on the issue at hand, Tol has been quite reasonable, and in my opinion, hardly less or more “authoritarian” than myself.

  36. Michael Tobis Says:

    My follow-up is here:

  37. Richard Tol Says:

    Michael: “under the most ethical frameworks” is a crucial qualification. The imperative for action does not follow from the science, but rather from the ethics. And indeed it is difficult to configure the facts and values such that there would be no climate policy.

  38. cynicus Says:

    Luckily people outside the usual crowd do have a grasp on reality and show how tenuous some have participated in every discussion. I can understand why some are displeased by this characterization.

    From: Feldman et al, Climate on Cable: The
    Nature and Impact of Global Warming Coverage on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC (2011):

    “The fragmentation of audiences across diverse news outlets holds important consequences for how the public understands the most pressing issues of the day. This study provides strong evidence that different forms of cable news use are associated with divergent views on global climate change. Specifically, the more often people watched Fox News, the less accepting they were of global warming.”


    Drezner et al in their article The Power And Politics Of Blogs (2004) ask:

    “Despite these constraints, blogs appear to play an increasingly important role as a forum of public debate, with knock-on consequences for the media and for politics. Given the disparity in resources and organization vis-à-vis other actors, how and when can a collection of decentralized, contrarian, and nonprofit websites exercise influence over political and policy outputs?”

    And answer this with two points:
    “This is because the distribution of weblinks and traffic is heavily skewed, with a few bloggers commanding most of the attention. [..]
    Finally, blogs have the comparative advantage of speedy publication -they have a first-mover advantage in socially constructing interpretive frames for understanding current events.”

    To conclude that:
    “Under a specific set of circumstances – when elite blogs concentrate their attention on a breaking story or an underreported story – the agenda-setting power of blogs may create focal points for general interest intermediaries”

    This has been written pre-climategate, but it could as well have been a posthoc observation: CA and WUWT being major blogs framing a scandal, picked up by the mainstream media influencing politics. Minor nitpick: I would change ‘elite blogs’ to ‘prominent blogs’ though, there’s nothing elite about them imo.


    And there are so many more article pointing in the same direction, it starts to become overwhelming.

    Anyway, It’s quite interesting to discover the apparent huge disconnect between an incrowd-Professor’s book and these peer-reviewed studies. I wonder why this particular Professor want’s his book readers to walk away with the opposite idea many other scholars -who have studied this area- have?

  39. Tom Fuller Says:

    I’m sure it’s all very flattering to think that blogs and, by extension, blog commenters are driving policy by something like osmosis. But it’s delusional.

    Watts gets the most traffic and I think Alexa lists WUWT as the umpteenth millionth most popular website. Given that his site also serves as a portal for other sources (a real, but indirect exercise of influence), his real traffic is much lower. Bart, I’ll wager that you don’t get 1% of Watt’s traffic, and I doubt if that displeases you.

    Climate blogs don’t matter for public policy.

    Judith Curry’s blog is important.

    She has provided a vent and an avenue for communication and education for the few thousand blog followers feeling excluded and insulted by the actions of climate consensus bloggers who seem to believe that participation in the discussion is a privilege rather than a right.

    If blogs were important, Joe Romm wouldn’t have been subsumed within the Think Progress umbrella, Andrew Revkin wouldn’t have been exiled to Dot Earth obscurity and Marc Morano would have been told to professionalize Climate Depot

  40. willard Says:

    I point at:

    > Judith Curry’s blog is important.


    > If blogs were important […]

    That is all.

  41. Tom Fuller Says:

    Willard, you are one of the reasons blogs are not important for policy. Judith is one of the reasons blogs are important to the closed circle of the climaterati. Any questions?

  42. willard Says:

    Yes, I do:

    1. How does Tom Fuller detect what he asserts so confidently?

    2. Does it work like oracles?

    3. Why does Tom Fuller insist in mansplaining blogs when his last augury contains an obvious contradiction?

  43. Tom Fuller Says:

    Try the next window, willard. This one’s closed for lunch. And will remain so to you.

  44. Paul Middents Says:

    I would like to offer Willard a high five. Tom would do well to try and decipher the Willard oracle. Blogs don’t count but Curry’s blog counts. Go figur.

  45. andrew adams Says:

    I think Tom’s point is that discussions within the blogosphere aren’t significant in the sense that they affect policy but they do have significance for the participants, and in this respect Curry’s blog is important. He’s probably right, she does seem to have carved out a particular niche and gets quite a lot of attention.
    I don’t buy his argument that before she came along the poor skeptics were deprived of a forum where they could air their views, there are plenty of other “skeptical” blogs around. I guess she does provide them with a fig leaf of credibility given that, unlike other “skeptical” bloggers she has genuine scientific credentials. And a brief reading of some of the comments there, and even more so at WUWT, shows that insults and contempt for opposing views are hardly exclusive to the pro-AGW side.

  46. Bart Says:

    I think Andrew Adams has it right.

  47. Bart Says:

    To prevent the discussion from derailing: All please try to play the ball, not the (wo)man.

  48. Quiet Waters Says:

    “Curry’s blog is important”

    Which makes essential reading.

  49. andrew adams Says:

    And explains why she gets criticised for publishing BS. If her blog is important then presumably it matters what she posts on it.

  50. Eli Rabett Says:

    Ralph Keeling’s comment about the Beck paper in E&E hits the mark

    “The Beck article provides an interesting test case for E&E’s recently advertised willingness to serve as a forum for “skeptical analyses of global warming” (E&E mission statement, Dec. 2006). The result was the publication of a paper with serious conceptual oversights that would have been spotted by any reasonably qualified reviewer. Is it really the intent of E&E to provide a forum for laundering pseudo-science? I suggest that some clarification or review of the practice is appropriate”

  51. Dave H Says:

    To accept that blogs such as WUWT, Climateaudit, Climate Etc have an influence is to cede the position of being a repressed minority, cruelly ignored by a media hell-bent on pushing a pro-AGW agenda.

    Hence it is important to wield as much influence as possible, while insisting that such influence does not exist.

    Indeed, if you point out that such influence does exist you are clearly somewhat paranoid, terrified that your poor, fragile environmental message cannot stand up to an honest debate and quite possibly arguing that dissent should be stifled.

    IMO opinion, there are several ways that influence is exerted:

    a) Directly, through published content. This is where controversies are manufactured and outrage is expressed on blogs before transferring to the mainstream media.

    b) Directly, through author reputation. This includes individuals such as McIntyre, or Curry, lending reputational wait (and a “skeptical” angle) to a story. Invariably, this becomes self-reinforcing.

    c) Indirectly, through constructing or providing talking points. The opinions expressed on these comment threads are not constrained to those threads – they have a much wider impact. Direct and indirect influencers take these arguments and repeat them in a multitude of on(and off-)line forums.

    One thing I’m finding is that a lot of these points go completely (or largely) unchallenged at several prominent mainstream media outlets, thanks to the rise in usage of Twitter and Facebook for sign-in. There is not a hope in hell that I, for one, would dive into a James Delingpole comment thread using my real name.

  52. Dave H Says:

    “IMO opinion”

    Brought to you by the redundancy department of redundancy.

  53. Eli Rabett Says:

    Richard Tol’s comment

    “Michael: “under the most ethical frameworks” is a crucial qualification. The imperative for action does not follow from the science, but rather from the ethics. And indeed it is difficult to configure the facts and values such that there would be no climate policy.”

    is revealing. First, since science assigns no value to anything, it cannot provide an imperative for action. That leaves economics and ethics. Since the time frame separating action to ameliorate climate change’s bad effects and the effects themselves if no action is taken is so large, economics is basically useless. That leaves ethics.

    Stephen Gardiner in “Climate Change, a Perfect Moral Storm has taken this up

  54. Bart Says:

    “the leaves ethics”

    Is that because the long time frame between action and effect means that economics is crucially based on the discount rate, which, esp in the case of irreversible effects and shared resources, has a strong ethical component to it?

  55. cynicus Says:

    “I’m sure it’s all very flattering to think that blogs and, by extension, blog commenters are driving policy by something like osmosis. But it’s delusional.”
    It is indeed delusional, because none of the papers I quoted says that blogs drive policy. The blog-specific paper I quoted clearly states blogs are able to influence policy in certain circumstances, and on the climate related topic I argue they serve to delay policy. This is far from being the driver of policy.

    “Watts gets the most traffic and I think Alexa lists WUWT as the umpteenth millionth most popular website.”
    Oh, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s my poor reading but Alexa lists WUWT as the #~16.000 most popular site. Anthony gets almost 700x more pageviews then you Bart.

    Anyway, most of the public isn’t getting its information on climate change by reading scientific journals, the statements released by scientific societies or reading the IPCC reports. Heck no, the public is getting their information from the media, including cable news and blogs. Although it’s easy for some to simply armwave away without solid arguments the media’s influence on public views on climate change, but we all know that only sowing doubt is already enough to delay policy. The cigarette industry proved this decades ago and CA, WUWT and a lot of other so-called skeptics are building upon this simple fact.

    Below is given the legislation interference domains of the cigarette industry (from Fox et al 2006):
    1. attempts to undermine science and legitimate messages from scientific quarters
    2. manipulation of the media
    3. public relations
    4. tactics designed to gain control of the public agenda
    5. lobbying
    6. use of front groups and artificially created grassroots movements
    7. intimidation
    8. harassment of tobacco control professionals.

    Each and everyone of these strategies are what we see employed today against climate change policy.

    But, ofcourse, some opiniate that many skeptic blogs aren’t simply part of the above strategy, no sir, some blogs are apparently here to “educate”. I agree, they are here to educate the blog followers in the above; the noble art of obfuscation.

    Take e.g. the topic of this thread: Curry feeding disinformation from EIKE to her followers without any attempt of framing or education from her, is a fine example of the level of education we can expect from her important blog. The ‘study’ from EIKE is being presented as a interesting study by a scientific institute that in reality is nothing more then a front group for the libertarian lobby organization CFACT. It’s a classic example of propaganda and Curry is happy to go along with it. I’m sure that Curry’s blog followers are now properly educated and that we will see a steady stream of links to this study on other forums/blogs when climate change is mentioned.

    “It’s not a coincidence that there’s no fruitflies-version of EIKE or Heartland.”, nor is there a fruitfliies version of WUWT or Fox News editorial policy on climate change, I would add.

  56. Eli Rabett Says:

    Bart, among other things, but also because you cannot cost anything more than 20-30 years in the future, nor imagine the political/policy environment.

  57. Eli Rabett Says:

    Cynicus, you are not cynical enough. Kloor, Pielke, Curry and friends have long pushed the conceit that since what they do affects no one they have no responsibility. Roger Jr, of course extends the same courtesy to Uncle Fred and friends on tobacco. Keith, and Roger, of course, make an exception for the terrible Rommulans.

    It’s not a mistake, it’s a strategy.

  58. Dave H Says:


    I understood Eli’s point to be:

    Science does not proscribe a course of action, it only lays out the evidence, and the likely results of inaction.

    Because there is such a huge disconnect between cause and effect, there is no direct justification for an economic solution to the problem of CO2 emissions. By the time that cost does come into play directly, it will be decades too late to actually take action.

    Which leaves the only grounds for taking action at all as ethical grounds, based on foresight and a rational assessment of the evidence.

    The reason that taxation and accounting for externalities are under discussion is precisely because free market economics is completely unequipped to deal with a situation like this. Ethics is the reason that we make the decision to alter the market, forcing it to account for the problem.

    Following on from this, because ethics is actually the sole driver for any response, it becomes a contentious issue thanks to the different value bases people have. Indeed, the science is called into question *precisely because* it prevents people from having to deal with the inadequacy of their own ethical system to deal with the problem at hand.

    Given the choice between one’s values being fundamentally wrong, and the rest of the world being wrong, most people will stick with their values.

  59. Tom Fuller Says:

    Andrew Adams, if I can beg to differ with you, the importance of Curry’s blog in the context of the electronic discussion forums is not so much in what she posts. It is primarily in the open forum for her commenters. That forum exists elsewhere, but because of her academic and publishing record, her weblog confers a legitimacy to the debate that commenters definitely welcome, judging by sheer volume.

    If Bart were writing the posts under Judith’s name, there would be no measurable difference in how many commenters showed up, what they said, or their frequently expressed gratitude to Curry for giving them a place to say what’s important to them.

    If you go through any of the threads on her blog, that theme surfaces time and time again. That is the primary service she provides. It is an extremely valuable service. For many of her commenters, the moderation policies at Real Climate, Climate Progress, and many other consensus sites have felt like a conspiracy to silence them. For a scientist with her credentials to not only give them a chance to say their piece but also attempt to make peace with them is hugely important.

    Do you remember the story about Obama’s birth certificate? It built, and built, until about 30% of conservatives were convinced. When he finally produced it, it dropped overnight to 10%. Curry has managed to deflate some of the more bizarre skeptic memes in much the same way–Skydragons, anyone?–and kept them coming back for more.

    Contrast that with the attitude, behaviour and results of those bloggers who are vilifying her, and you get some idea of her worth. When you guys win (note I didn’t say if), I hope one of you is awake enough to credit her for what she’s done.

  60. Quiet Waters Says:

    “It is primarily in the open forum for her commenters. That forum exists elsewhere, but because of her academic and publishing record, her weblog confers a legitimacy to the debate that commenters definitely welcome, judging by sheer volume.”

    The exact same could be said about our gracious host here. Why does Curry get the traffic and Bart doesn’t? Is it perhaps due to what she posts?

    “Skydragons, anyone?”

    Would the two papers under discussion have any traction at all (let alone the weak support the Skydragons ever had) had Curry not given them the oxygen of publicity?

  61. Tom Fuller Says:

    Quiet Waters, Curry met with McIntyre and established a cordial dialogue with him. That won her credibility. She has also acknowledged some of the extremely obvious procedural issues that have hampered the IPCC’s publications and public communications. This helped also.

    I saw this work for me when I was at I could talk comfortably with skeptics while disagreeing with them about the science, because I was very harsh on the consensus. Stephen Schneider understood this, but nobody else on the consensus team ever did.

    Bart is a great host, this is a great weblog, and I like spending time here more than I do at Curry’s. But he has never been able to acknowledge specific problems with the position he defends. (Or at least I’ve missed it when he has.)

    But when a debate breaks out here, it does get traffic–witness the unit roots saga, which certainly rivalled any of Curry’s posts for popularity. The difference is that Bart seemed uncomfortable with what was going on, where Curry seems to relish it.

  62. Dave H Says:

    @Tom Fuller

    > because of her academic and publishing record, her weblog confers a legitimacy to the debate that commenters definitely welcome, judging by sheer volume.

    It confers a *veneer* of legitimacy, reinforced by the self-congratulatory and insular nature of the comments there. This is the entire point.

    It is – in every way – a failure at her publicly stated original aims of bridge-building, and a resounding success in terms of lending much-sought credibility to those that deserve none. Precisely as predicted at the outset.

  63. willard Says:

    Three days ago, Judith Curry reported her invited talk in a session on Scientist Participation in Science Communication at the forthcoming AGU Fall Meeting. Here is her first comment:

    > Presumably I was invited to give this talk because of Climate Etc.

    That might explain some part of the relish.

    It is too soon to know if honest brokers have “detected” anything that “matters” here.

    Doubting that we can detect causal effects of social ventures might turn into a very profitable selling business.

    Have we proved causality between second-hand smoke and cancer yet?

  64. Tom Fuller Says:

    DaveH, have you ever heard of confirmation bias?

  65. Dave H Says:

    @Tom Fuller

    > Bart is a great host, this is a great weblog, and I like spending time here more than I do at Curry’s. But he has never been able to acknowledge specific problems with the position he defends. (Or at least I’ve missed it when he has.)

    This is a serious problem, right here – you, and others like you, are under the impression that those that *do not acknowledge you are right* simply aren’t trying hard enough to engage.

    I, and others like me, flat-out disagree with you on points of substantial contention, and it is monstrously arrogant to assume that a precursor to dialogue is to concede those positions. It is offensive that this is done under the guise of reasonability. Passive-aggressive, even.

    Curry claimed to be bridge-building. If that were so, it should have been an attempt to broker some sort of understanding between two groups with a radically different assessment of reality based on the same body of evidence. She did not do this, and shows no sign of starting anytime soon. What she *did* was make precisely the concessions you, and others like you, demanded, thus cutting off any possibility of bridging that divide – indeed, driving a larger wedge between the “sides”.

  66. Tom Fuller Says:

    Hi DaveH,

    Feel free to be specific about your disagreement with me on ‘substantial points of contention.’ I had a long and rancorous exchange with Neven that ended with him realizing that there was no essential difference in our opinions about the science.

    Sort of a Rorschach test here, obviously. Let me ask you this. Do you think Rajendra Pachauri should step down from his position at the IPCC, specifically for bidding on a contract to study Himalayan glaciers while suppressing information given to him by an IPCC scientist that data published by the IPCC was incorrect and exaggerated?

    I do. I don’t even think it is controversial. And I don’t think that it has anything to do with climate change.

    But, your offended tone aside, the fact remains that I am willing and happy to criticize Morano and Monckton, while the edifice of the consensus needs to remain inviolate to meet your personal needs, it seems.

  67. Bart Says:

    I have no problem acknowledging problems when I see them, but I won’t concede problems that I don’t think are there.

    The problem is when problems are present, but not in the magnitude presented. That’s exacarbated by the opposition standing ready to magnify any wrongdoing, no matter how small, and any admission of wrongdoing, no matter how careful and sincere.

    As I wrote before:

    “if the valid criticisms wouldn’t be packaged in such conspiratorial/accusative/exaggerated (c/a/e) ways, they would be welcomed much more than they currently are. The art that mainstream scientists and their defenders must learn is to take the valid parts of the criticisms and deal with/respond to them, and leave the c/a/e packaging for what it is. That is increasingly difficult because the critics and their supporters will try to keep the c/a/e in (presumably because this packaging is what is most effective at decreasing the scientists’ credibility and sowing doubt). That dynamic needs to be broken. It needs effort from both sides, as difficult and unfair as it sounds.”

    Also in I conceded that circling the wagons is not a good strategy. It’s possible you missed these of course, Tom, although I think you are fishing for much stronger statements. You’ll get those if I see some evidence for them being true. I’m not going to make sweeping and unfounded accusations for the sake of attracting more visitors.

    Re the unit root thread: I was indeed overwhelmed by the sudden increase in comments, esp the stubborn & confused kind. I would probably deal with it differently and more relaxed now, though it remains a challenge how to deal with a swarm of silly and/or antiscientfic comments. Ignore, respond or moderate?

  68. Tom Fuller Says:

    Hiya Bart,

    I had read those comments (and forgotten them, sadly). I’m not trying to criticize you or say that your policy is mistaken. I’m just trying to defend Judith.

    What will you do the next time a unit root thread shows up?

  69. Bart Says:

    Chose between moderating more strictly and ignoring, cuz responding to each nitwit is undoable.

  70. andrew adams Says:


    I agree that Curry’s scientific credentials would tend to give some legitimacy to discussions on her blog, I said as much myself, although I didn’t put it so charitably, and in that sense it meets a need for her commenters there given the notable lack of any such credentials amongst other “skeptical” bloggers. I am absolutely certain you are right that her commenters love the fact that she takes them seriously.
    But the world is full of cranks who think they have very important things to say and if only someone would give them a platform the world would have to sit up and listen. Not all of Curry’s commenters fall into this category but enough of them do and she does very little to discourage them, if not actively encouraging them, and I don’t see why we’re supposed to applaud the fact that these people have somewhere to go where they are taken seriously.
    Yes, “pro-AGW” blogs do sometimes fall into the trap that a lot of blogs which deal with contentious subjects where people have strong feelings do, which is that regular commenters are too quick to dismiss those with contrary opinions as “trolls” and not give them a fair hearing – “skeptical” blogs are hardly any better. But a lot of the “skeptics” are not welcome there because they have nothing serious to say and just repeat discredited nonsense or throw around accusations of malpractice or fraud.
    You mention the “Dragonslayer” threads – I did actually find them surprisingly interesting, partly because there were some heavyweights in the comments who did actually improve my understanding of the subject but also because of what they showed about the “skeptical” commenters – which ones were the out and out cranks, which were genuine skeptics who were willing to defend the science on its merits and those who couldn’t attack the science but also couldn’t give one inch to the “AGW” side so were reduced to petty sniping. But not one single person changed their mind so I would dispute that it ahcieved anything.
    I don’t recall any other attempts by Curry to openly challenge nonsensical “skepical” talking points, instead she is more likely to encourage them by posting nonsense like the Salby piece or going on about “IPCC idealogues”.
    The fact is she gets’s criticused by people on “my side” because she wilfully behaves in a way which is guaranteed, calculated even, to attract such criticism.
    Yes, there are people at Climate etc. who have something interesting to say, some debates can be interesting and it is better than WUWT, but if Curry was really serious about doing what she claims then it would be much much better.

  71. Tom Fuller Says:

    Hi Andrew,

    You make some good points, although I think you stretch some of them.

    Because you mistrust Curry, you think she should be building a bridge to your side. Because I trust Curry, I know that she’s starting from your side and trying to build a bridge to the skeptical world. Bit of a difference there.

    And the bridge, as you rightly observe, isn’t scientific (although it is underpinned by science). The bridge is–well, not political in the normal sense of the word–maybe sociological in nature.

    By acknowledging their points and their points of view, she is doing what nobody else on your ‘side’ is doing.

    Where the core of our disagreement is in the definition of the points she is willing to concede to the skeptics–about the real issues (not the phony ones) raised by the Climategate scandal, the procedural problems with the IPCC, etc. Again, these do not go to the essence of climate science. However, they explain the erosion of trust in the establishment that has occurred in some.

    She’s not going to win over many skeptics. But I don’t think that’s the issue. She’s got them to put down their pitchforks to pick up their pens.

    But it’s a real measure of how weird the atmosphere has gotten within the consensus community that you all have managed to forget whose side she’s on.

  72. Dave H Says:

    @Tom Fuller

    > Sort of a Rorschach test here, obviously. Let me ask you this. Do you think Rajendra Pachauri should step down from his position at the IPCC, specifically for bidding on a contract to study Himalayan glaciers while suppressing information given to him by an IPCC scientist that data published by the IPCC was incorrect and exaggerated?

    Aside from the loaded language in your comment, there is pretty much no way I can answer this is there? I can:

    a) Honestly say I neither know nor care. My immediate response is that knee-jerk demands for figures to step down are ten-a-penny these days, and I’m frankly sick of them – but that’s just a gut reaction based on no evidence at all. That being the case, in your eyes I’m clearly unwilling to accept your diligently researched and valid criticism of something you seem to think is terribly important, or to spend my time going through the garbage of everyone you say I should in order to find something to be offended about.

    b) Spend a few hours of my life boning up on the comings and goings of Pachauri, and all of the bin-sifting that I’ve clearly not been keeping up to date on, eventually coming to the conclusion that you’re exagerrating or interpreting evidence in a way I (once again) disagree with. That being the case, I’m just protecting the holy orthodoxy against your entirely valid criticism, right?

    c) Spend the same few hours sifting through muck and eventually find that yes, you are right, you’ve faithfully represented events, they do appear to constitute some especially serious breach of code of conduct and that – for once – I notionally agree with you. That said, I would also say it is not fair to call for anything without some sort of enquiry producing a finding of actual wrongdoing. That being so what have I acheived? Well, I’ve wasted a few hours confirming something bad about someone I’m not really attached to in the first place, but none the wiser on the issue at hand because, as you say yourself:

    > … I don’t think that it has anything to do with climate change.

    There are *dozens* of actually, genuinely important issues that you could have chosen – real controversies that actually reveal huge gulfs in opinion and understanding that show no signs of being bridged any time soon – yet you chose this as your example. Maybe this is just the latest piece of gossip that’s doing the rounds, maybe its an old one given new life, I have no idea, but I think you pretty much made your position clear. It is yet another distraction, yet another inconsequential piece of gotcha politicking, yet another salvo in the eternal, never-ending Gish Gallop around the perimiter. Whether there is substance to it or not, I am immediately deterred from a) finding out or b) believing your account on its face, simply by the manner in which you raise it.

    In fact, I feel like I’ve wasted my time responding to tell you why I consider it a waste of everyone’s time.

    > But, your offended tone aside, the fact remains that I am willing and happy to criticize Morano and Monckton, while the edifice of the consensus needs to remain inviolate to meet your personal needs, it seems.

    A bizarre – and false – equivalence. As far as I’m concerned, criticizing Morano and Monckton is a baseline criteria for sentience, not any sort of great concession on your part. I’d be more interested if you could accept, say, the voluminous criticism of Wegman. That’s been a fascinating one to watch, if you want to talk about circling the wagons, and yet another issue that Curry completely dropped the ball on.

    *Even if that were the case* I don’t think it gets us anywhere because, broadly, there are two sides arguing about interpretation of available evidence – but one does not arrive at the most correct interpretation of that evidence by going through a process of tit-for-tat concession.

  73. Tom Fuller Says:

    Hi DaveH,

    I find it astonishing that you and everybody else on the consensus team has the same reaction to what Pachauri did. I certainly don’t blame you for holding the same opinion as everybody else on your ‘side,’ but this lack of curiosity is a bit odd, don’t you think? It reminds me in another context of the outright refusal to read the books about Climategate–it’s almost a deliberate choice to remain ignorant.

    I mean, it’s stipulated that TERI was bidding for the research on Himalayan glaciers. They won the bid. Then the bid got canceled because of the bad publicity. It’s stipulated that Pachauri sat on the information received from an IPCC scientist–for almost 4 years, IIRC, not admitting it until after the bid was awarded.

    And of course, I agree that Pachauri deserves a fair inquiry prior to any action. But let’s have the inquiry. It is amazing that an issue that is seriously put forward as the greatest challenge to the human race in this century does not apparently deserve the best leadership with the closest scrutiny we can provide. Why should Pachauri not receive the same careful look-over that the rest of George Bush’s appointments received? What if Pachauri is as flawed as ‘Heckuva Job Brownie?’

    As for having dozens of controversies to choose from, I tried to throw that back at you–you said you had serious disagreements with me about many contentious things–I’ll repeat my offer–where do you think we disagree?

  74. OPatrick Says:

    Dave H, you haven’t wasted your time with your last response – it perfect encapsulates the problem, for me, and Tom Fuller’s response adds to the elucidation of that problem.

  75. J Bowers Says:

    Tom — “I just don’t see the blogosphere as all that influential.”

    Tom, if blogs aren’t influential, how come you (at least partly) did try to “clarify/communicate/evangelize the lukewarmer POV to people like Bart“, for clients?

  76. sharper00 Says:

    Tom Fuller,

    “Sort of a Rorschach test here, obviously. Let me ask you this. Do you think Rajendra Pachauri should step down from his position at the IPCC, specifically for bidding on a contract to study Himalayan glaciers while suppressing information given to him by an IPCC scientist that data published by the IPCC was incorrect and exaggerated?”

    I assume you’re talking about this

    “Christopher Booker and Richard North wrote an article for the Daily Telegraph in January 2010 alleging potential conflicts of interest related to Pachauri’s membership of the board of ONGC[20] and to research grants for TERI, a non-profit institution of which Pachauri is director general.[21] They further alleged that financial anomalies existed at TERI Europe.[22] Pachauri denied all allegations.[23][24]

    In response to the allegations, the audit firm KPMG carried out a review at TERI’s request.[25] The review stated: “No evidence was found that indicated personal financial benefits accruing to Dr Pachauri from his various advisory roles that would have led to a conflict of interest”. The report explains its objectives and methodology and states that “Work done by us was as considered necessary at that point in time” and that it is based on the information provided by TERI, Pachauri and Pachauri’s tax counsel. In a caveat the review explains that its scope was “significantly different from an audit and cannot be relied on to provide the same level of assurance as an audit”.[25] KPMG examined payments made by private sector companies and found that payments amounting to $17.66 million[25] were made to TERI itself, not to Pachauri.[26][27] He had received only his annual salary from TERI, amounting to £45,000 a year, plus a maximum of about £2,174 from outside earnings. He received no payment for chairing the IPCC.”

  77. Quiet Waters Says:

    “Curry met with McIntyre and established a cordial dialogue with him. That won her credibility”

    So Curry matters because she was nice to McIntyre. Does that mean McIntyre matters too?

    “She has also acknowledged some of the extremely obvious procedural issues that have hampered the IPCC’s publications and public communications. This helped also.”

    Obvious to some, obviously not problems to others. As stated by Bart, Andrew & Dave above it should not be necessary to concede that issues you believe are trumped up, overhyped & out of context just because some gatekeepers feel that they should be.

    “But it’s a real measure of how weird the atmosphere has gotten within the consensus community that you all have managed to forget whose side she’s on.”

    With friends like these…

    As a side note to the whole “blogs don’t matter to policy” issue I note this comment at Eli’s from Brian Schmidt on his decision to support fluoridation at his recent Water District Board meeting.

    “There was some interesting stuff in the comments to my post, but I learned the most from the hand-to-hand combat in the comments to Coby’s original post.”

  78. Quiet Waters Says:

    concede that issues = concede on issues

  79. Marco Says:

    Sharper00, Tom probably also refers to Georg Kaser noting that he had informed the IPCC office of the incorrect claim in WG2. Somehow, that “IPCC office” has been translated into “Pachauri”.

    Or maybe I should say, somebody translated that into “Pachauri”.

    Psychologically, that translation makes sense: for such claims to get traction, a specific and high-level person needs to be blamed. Blaming “the IPCC” is too conspirational (too many people involved), blame its chairman, and suddenly that “conspiration” sounds much more plausible.

  80. steven mosher Says:

    Dave H.

    WRT wegman. Are you willing to stand behind the findings of the inquiry on his report to congress?


    I am.

  81. Quiet Waters Says:

    “I am”

    And the inquries on Mann?

  82. Eli Rabett Says:

    What inquiry? (Honest question, no snark)

  83. Paul Middents Says:

    What inquiries indeed? My impression is that George Mason U. is stonewalling the whole thing.

  84. J Bowers Says:

    Something like 18 months now, isn’t it? That’s thorough.

    stall 2 (stôl)
    A ruse or tactic used to mislead or delay.
    [Alteration … of obsolete stale, pickpocket’s accomplice, from Middle English…]

  85. steven mosher Says:

    Answer the question blokes

    WRT Mann. looking at the proceedural errors early on prior to any determination I would not have signed off on the mann inquiries.

    With regard to george mason there are two inquiries.

    1. On congress. Everything is in order proceedurally. I accept the result sight unseen
    2. On the Said paper; Those assigned to the inquiry have conflicts of interest. I do not accept the result sight unseen, but reserve judgment to see if those who are conflicted recuse themselves or not.

    So, answer the question about the inquiry into the congressional report issue.

    Please note. At the time this broke I told people to focus their attention on the network analysis paper and to steer clear of the cogressional report issue because of potential boomerangs.

    Anyway.. opine away.

  86. steven mosher Says:

    j bowers.

    Actually, the length of time is good. there is a lot of testimony to take from many players. Unlike the Mann Inquiries, where you had no real record of the investigation I would expect a complete record from the Wegman deal.

  87. J Bowers Says:

    Steven Mosher, the length of time it’s taking, it’s quite likely GMU’s having all language versions of Wikipedia in their entirety translated to make sure they haven’t missed anything. If the Mann and CRU inquiries had taken this long, the Climate Audit Squad would be blowing gaskets over Muir Russell’s hotel bill, proclaim stonewalling, and the final report would still be a whitewash.

  88. Eli Rabett Says:

    FWIW, you have to differentiate between an inquiry, which by rule has to be swift, and an investigation which should be the thorough part. GMU is not even out of (actually they may not have started) the inquiry phase.

  89. willard Says:

    Dave H,

    If you don’t mind, I excerpted this from your comment above:

    So I will disagree that you’ve wasted your time. First, because you got published. This is not very important, but still is something. Second, because I’m sure that passing this test makes you feel better. See for instance:

    Passing these tests from time to time makes everyone feel better.

    You are not alone. It does get better.

    * * *

    And so I will note that we’re now entering the Green Line Moment of the discussion. This Green Line Moment usually obtains with the usual characters in play. Here was a description of a Green Line Moment:

    Once upon a time it was Jones. Then it was Steig. Now, it’s Pachauri. The Green Line Moments never end. There is always a reason to doubt the sincerity of one’s interlocutors.

    * * *

    Besides testing good faith, these Green Line Moments have the obvious effects on putting the characters themselves under the spotlight. See for instance this other Green Line Moment:

    > Well rabett, i gave up my car I 1990. What have you done?

    This specific Green Line Moment might not have been exactly a Rorschach Test.

    * * *

    And speaking of answering questions, here are some unanswered questions from this thread:

    – How can we detect the impact of one blog on a nation of voters?

    – How can one reduce this detection to what “matters”?

    – Are we in a tavern or in a Tupperware setting?

    – Why blog?

    – Does Tom Fuller see the obvious contradiction he made above?

    – Have we proved causality between second-hand smoke and cancer yet?

    – What enquiry?

    Should we attribute the unresponsiveness to some Green Line psychology?

    Note that this last question, if going unanswered, might also count as a Rorschach test.

  90. Tom Fuller Says:

    Yes, Quiet Waters, McIntyre matters.

    And the inability of Bart, Dave H and Andrew, not to mention the rest of the consensus community, to acknowledge the procedural and process issues has led to what we have seen in public debate over the past two years.

    If you guys are cool with what’s been happening, by all means don’t change a thing. Stay just the way you are…

  91. willard Says:

    Dave H,

    Do you see that you have not acknowledged anything and that your lukewarm Gestalt therapists acknowledge everything? No, perhaps not.

    Do you see then that you have not acknowledged anything that matters and that our lukewarm Gestalt therapists acknowledge everything that matter?

    I see that you’re unresponsive. Very well then.

    That speaks volumes. It’s louder than words.

    This is why blogs don’t matter.

    This is why Judith’s and Steve’s matter.

    Just stay silent, silent as a lamb.

    More omertà, Dave H? [1]


  92. J Bowers Says:

    Tom Fuller — “And the inability of Bart, Dave H and Andrew, not to mention the rest of the consensus community, to acknowledge the procedural and process issues has led to what we have seen in public debate over the past two years.”

    Nothing to do with “it’s clouds”, “it’s undersea volcanoes”, “it’s AMO”, “it’s ENSO”, “statistical analysis shows…”, “it’s not happening (see first comment and response from Andrew Skuce)”, then, and it’s all the consensus community’s fault? Yeah…..

  93. Tom Fuller Says:

    J Bowers, the scientifically sketchy arguments made by some skeptics are very easily handled on a case-by-case basis, often at Judith Curry’s weblog, in fact.

    What is problematic for the consensus position is when those skeptics add as support the very real issues that I am talking about. If those were resolved, handling those other arguments would be simpler and easier.

    One of the most frequently cited mechanisms for trust-building in contentious dialogue is the ‘argument against self-interrest,’ where you start by acknowledging problematic points on your own side. Amazing how many smart people on the consensus team never seem to have read a book… maybe they all have beautiful minds, but Nash could instruct them a bit better…

  94. J Bowers Says:

    Tom Fuller — “If those were resolved, handling those other arguments would be simpler and easier. .”

    Nirvana fallacy. Nothing to do with Kurt Cobain.

  95. Tom Fuller Says:

    J Bowers, I’m not the one with the problem.You are. If you want to ignore everything everyone says, just go ahead.

  96. sharper00 Says:

    Tom Fuller,

    “One of the most frequently cited mechanisms for trust-building in contentious dialogue is the ‘argument against self-interrest,’ where you start by acknowledging problematic points on your own side.”

    So like for example people should acknowledge that Pachauri should step down from the IPCC as a result of claims now retracted and apologised for, for which there exists no evidence of their truth and for which what investigation has been done has found the opposite of those claims?

    Professor Muller started out by acknowledging problems with the hockey stick, with the scientists involved in the climategate scandal (claiming in fact he won’t even read papers authored by them) and with the existing temperature records.

    When it came time for Professor Muller to present results contrary to the wishes of skeptics how well did that trust building exercise work for him?

    How well do you think it’s worked for you?

    Personally I will not trust a person that says things purely to curry favour. If someone appears to hold to a principle I will trust them to hold to that principle thus if they are dedicated to evidence and truth I expect them to continue in that fashion. If they appear to believe they need to agree with whatever silly claims are thrown their way regardless of evidence and truth they can be expected to continue to act that way too.

    Interestingly people that follow evidence tend to spend little time discussing the intricacies of the IPCC. They tend not to worry very much over paleoclimate studies published 12 years ago. They also tend to think that other people that cannot be brought to a position based on evidence are not on “their side” regardless of their views.

  97. Dave H Says:

    Steven, here’s a thought – you claim to discount the Said and Mann enquiries on procedural grounds, but not the WR one – but this is an investigation that has already breached GMU’s timetable for investigation. I see a contradiction there, don’t you?

    Also, I don’t respond well to passive-aggressive challenges such as yours, but thanks for playing anyway.

    Tom Fuller:

    > the scientifically sketchy arguments made by some skeptics are very easily handled on a case-by-case basis

    This is perhaps the most ridiculous thing I’ve read all day. Sure, they’re easily handled if you don’t mind your responses falling deaf ears. They’re easily handled if you don’t mind the very fact of engaging with these issues generating the impression of a controversy where none exists. They’re easily handled if you don’t mind taking up ten times as much space and time as the original comment.They’re easily handled if you don’t mind the same argument popping up somewhere else 5 minutes later. They’re easily handled if you don’t mind a refusal to accept primary sources as a rebuttal. They’re easily dealt with if you don’t mind an ever-growing and dedicated morass of wrong-headed commenters using every opportunity to cram as many of those “sketchy” arguments into as small a space as possible.

    I dare you to spend a full day answering every single “sketchy” argument on every single internet forum you can find, every single comment thread attached to every single major news publication that you can manage, and just see how much headway you make. Then do it again tomorrow. Then tell me how “easily handled” they are.

    It would be a better use of your time than demanding concessions on points of disagreement and insisting that those that don’t give you exactly what you want are being unreasonable.

    Go and visit the original, legendary Girma Orssengo thread at Deltoid, then come back and tell me how easily you would deal with his sketchy scientific arguments.

    > often at Judith Curry’s weblog, in fact.

    Oh yes. Absolutely. I loved the way the commenters there dealt with, say, ocean acidification by determining that it was a fraudulent term designed specifically to scare people into action. That place was a tar pit when I gave up on it for good and by all accounts it hasn’t improved.

    Frankly, I find it amusing that you speak so highly of the place because it just comes back to my original point – it provides a convenient veneer of credibility to those desperately seeking affirmation and recognition.

  98. willard Says:

    A lukewarm rite of passage begins with the solemn acknowledgement that your lukewarm fellowship has been neverendingly concern trolling, and the formal declaration that you’re about to follow this path.

    Speaking of bargaining games, our lukewarm Gestalt therapist must have been reading decision theory:

    > I argue in this paper that there are two considerations which govern the dynamics of a two-person bargaining game, viz. relative proportionate utility loss from conceding to one’s opponent’s proposal and relative non-proportionate utility loss from not conceding to one’s opponent’s proposal, if she were not to concede as well. The first consideration can adequately be captured by the information contained in vNM utilities. The second requires measures of utility which allow for an interpersonal comparison of utility differences. These considerations respectively provide for a justification of the Nash solution and the Kalai egalitarian solution. However, none of these solutions taken by themselves can provide for a full story of bargaining, since, if within a context of bargaining one such consideration is overriding, the solution which does not match this consideration will yield unreasonable results. I systematically present arguments to the effect that each justification from self-interest for respectively the Nash and the Kalai egalitarian solution is vulnerable to this kind of objection. I suggest that the search for an integrative model may be a promising line of research.

    Auditors wonder if these models take into account agents that keep offering the bargaining games over and over again.

  99. Tom Fuller Says:

    Yes, Sharper00, that’s what I’m proposing. Refresh my memory–who retracted their claims about Pachauri? Not me…

  100. Tom Fuller Says:

    As for how well my strategy has worked for me, I am very content with the results.

  101. sharper00 Says:

    “who retracted their claims about Pachauri? “

    The Telegraph which published Booker and North’s claims about him.

    “Not me…”

    That’s not very surprising but reality exists outside of Tom Fuller’s head. When you ask people to agree to such and such you’re presumably asking them to agree on some aspect of reality. If Tom Fuller believes Pachauri should step down that’s nice and everything but not very relevant for reaching a shared understand of the space outside Tom Fuller’s head.

    Personally I don’t ask people to trust me. I act in a fashion I consider to be trustworthy and expect others to use their own judgement on that. I don’t trade trust for acceptance of positions with anyone ever: If there’s something I should be thinking of as true then I’m driven by my own preference to understand things via evidence, not trust building exercises.

    It seems common in the climate debate for people to try and barter their position: Reform the IPCC and I’ll accept climate sensitivity above 2 degrees. Publish the data and I’ll no longer believe Mann should be in prison. Improve peer review and I’ll think climate models are good instead of garbage.

    Do an independent analysis of the temperature records and I’ll accept the results, whatever they are.

  102. sharper00 Says:

    “As for how well my strategy has worked for me, I am very content with the results.”

    Has it furthered any goals of yours regarding environmental or energy policy? Has it brought anyone from a position of opposing those goals to being sympathetic to or supporting of them?

    When you put Pachauri’s head on the tablet at the request of Booker or Delingpole what do they put down? Timid acceptance of warming since the little ice age perhaps?

  103. Tom Fuller Says:

    Sharper00, my criticism of Pachauri’s behaviour predates that of Booker and North (not Delingpole–didn’t read what he wrote). As far as I know, they never have disputed the warming that has occurred. Have you ever asked them?

    Yes, my goals have been furthered–wouldn’t go so far as to say my actions contributed much, but at least they didn’t apparently detract…

    And again without claiming credit for any of it, it is my (human and subject to error) perception that more people than before share something close to congruent with my point of view.

    We could have a poll…

  104. andrew adams Says:

    Hi Tom,

    I fully understand the points you are making, I just have trouble reconciling it with Curry’s actual behaviour and what I see at her blog.

    For example you say

    Because you mistrust Curry, you think she should be building a bridge to your side. Because I trust Curry, I know that she’s starting from your side and trying to build a bridge to the skeptical world. Bit of a difference there.

    Well that kind of gives me a mental image of a cartoon character (possible Wile E. Coyote) building a bridge over a ravine out of two planks of wood by repeatedly putting one in front of the other. So maybe she started out on my side, but now she has crossed over and left herself with no way back. I mean if my problem with her was just a disagreement over how to deal with the skeptics then presumably I would still be able to see plenty of other common ground, but I don’t. She is openly hostile to what she sees as the “IPCC idealogues” and blames them for every bit of stupidity and hostility displayed by the skeptics as if they had no agenda of their own. She clearly identifies with the likes of McIntryre and especially, and unfathomably, Bishop Hill and distains most bloggers on the AGW side.

    Her views on the scientific content of the IPCC reports, particularly its treatment of uncertainty are at odds with most people on the AGW side, especially her laughable statements on climate sensitivity. This is despite the fact that she doesn’t actually seem to have read the IPCC reports very closely – I’ve lost count of the number of times she says that the IPCC ignores x only for someone to quote at length the section in AR4 where x is mentioned. It is frankly very difficult to pin her down to any firm statement on the scientific basis for AGW except the existence of the greenhouse effect. She won’t entertain any notion that extreme weather events can be attributed in any way to AGW.

    So I am genuinely at a loss to find any substantial common ground on either the political/social or the scientific aspects of the AGW argument which would indicate that we are on the same side. And I certainly don’t see any evidence that she has got any of the skeptics to put down their pitchforks – they are as hostile as ever. Not to her obviously, but then anyone can win the approval of a hostile audience by telling them what they want to hear. As soon as she steps out of line it will be very different – see the abuse hurled at Dr Muller.

    As for your statement –

    And the inability of Bart, Dave H and Andrew, not to mention the rest of the consensus community, to acknowledge the procedural and process issues has led to what we have seen in public debate over the past two years.

    unsurprisingly I disagree. What we have seen in public debate over the last two years is a continuation of what we saw in the public debate for several years before that. I think most of us would be perfectly happy for example to talk openly about the flaws in the IPCC process, but going back to Bart’s point we are not interested in a debate about the IPCC being a politically motivated organisation pursuing an extreme green agenda or a plot to form a world government. And most skeptics don’t want to seriously look at the IPCC’s flaws with a view to making it the best it can be, they just want to abolish it. If we did exactly what you are asking us to do it wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference.

  105. sharper00 Says:

    “Sharper00, my criticism of Pachauri’s behaviour predates that of Booker and North “

    Ok but you applied a test to Dave H that consisted of arguments that appear to originate with Booker and North. Have you published your criticisms of Pachauri anywhere? How is Dave H supposed to know of them to such a degree their acceptance or not can be used to judge him?

    “Yes, my goals have been furthered–wouldn’t go so far as to say my actions contributed much, but at least they didn’t apparently detract…”

    When people claim that your actions detract do you take them seriously? Do you consider it to be the case that all who criticise you oppose your goals?

    “more people than before share something close to congruent with my point of view.”

    General population or blogopsphere?

  106. Tom Fuller Says:

    Hi Andrew,

    As usual your comment is good and makes many good points.

    So I’ll make an argument against self-interest here in hopes of establishing some level of good faith. I don’t think Curry is as effective on her weblog as she could be. Part of that is due to things you cite in your comment. In addition, I’ll go so far as to conjecture that she may never have spent much time at all reading the full reports of the IPCC (which for some reason doesn’t really strike me as very strange–wouldn’t it be normal for her to read the stuff that affects her specialty and the SPM and find she didn’t have time for the whole thing?). And she acts as co-dependent for some commenters at Climate Etc., including some who are clearly not working on solid ground…

    That said, I know that she does not believe much differently than Bart, for example, about climate science. She probably shares with me the greatest difference with our host, that sensitivity is not determined to any great degree, and that the range offered by the IPCC is too large to permit concrete planning. So I agree with you there, although I don’t think our beliefs laughable.

    And I know that she has lowered the temperature of the debate, if only from private correspondence. The people you think are still carrying pitchforks are writing on her blog, not letters to their congressperson. And when she does not bother to correct some clearly buffoonish statements, my observation of her threads shows me that it is often because those statements have been rebutted by other commenters.

    I don’t claim to speak for skeptics, and even if you and I had a constructive discussion about the IPCC it probably wouldn’t change much, but I’m certainly willing. We could start by looking at the IAC recommendations, if you like. I liked their recommendations and felt that the IPCC’s half-hearted attempt to incorporate some of them was really disappointing. Do you have thoughts on that?

    Thank you for a reasoned, well-considered response. It is most refreshing.

  107. Tom Fuller Says:

    Sharper00, I’m sure you’ll be pleased at the place this was published. I’m sure Dave H can speak for himself on these issues.

    Most of the people I have seen who claim I detract are people I oppose, most notably Michael Tobis and his coterie of commenters. If there are others, please provide details.

    As for general population or blogosphere, I would say both.

  108. Tom Fuller Says:

    Oh–Andrew, one more thing. As someone who has moderated busy blogs before, I want to point out one piece of exculpatory explanation for some of what Curry lets happen on her blog.

    It’s really tough to moderate a blog that gets that many comments, especially if you have a day job.

    It’s really tough. Things get by you. Things that you think you’ll comment on later just disappear with the next feeding frenzy. You overlook things. You have commenters who say the same thing day after day and you just go into acceptance mode and stop reading what they have to say–and one day that jumps up and bites you when they say something very strange. You have people you trust and the same thing happens.

    And you’re always conscious that the time you spend moderating and responding to comments is being subtracted from the time you allot yourself for ‘blogging’, and you know that your next post will suffer because of it.

    I believe these concerns impact Curry.

  109. J Bowers Says:

    Tom Fuller — “Sharper00, my criticism of Pachauri’s behaviour predates that of Booker and North (not Delingpole–didn’t read what he wrote). As far as I know, they never have disputed the warming that has occurred. Have you ever asked them?”

    No need to ask in Booker’s case.

    2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved — by Christopher Booker.

    “After several years flatlining, global temperatures have dropped sharply enough to cancel out much of their net rise in the 20th century.”

  110. Tom Fuller Says:

    He is a bit of a wild man.

  111. J Bowers Says:

    Tom, accusing Booker of mendacity is an insult to the mendacious.

  112. sharper00 Says:

    “Sharper00, I’m sure you’ll be pleased at the place this was published. I’m sure Dave H can speak for himself on these issues.

    In August 2010 you said:

    “I also think Pachauri should resign. But not because of conflicts of interest.”

    In November 2011 you consider conflict of interest so important it’s a test. While you ultimately agree with yourself from then you apparently would have failed your own Rorschach test.

    Here’s what I think: You believe that Pachauri attracts lots of negative attention. Some of that attention sounds sort of plausible (mistake with the Himalayan glaciers and the links to TERI) and so you don’t want to distract from discussions which will further your goals by defending Pachauri.

    You’re of the belief that if Pachauri goes then people concerned with things like conflict of interest, accuracy etc will stop their arguments against him and start discussing things of direct interest to you.

    Here’s what *I* think: That the claims against Pachauri lack evidence is not incidental. Regardless of any apparent plausibility the only actual investigation of those claims found no evidence to support them (and actually led to retraction, apology etc). The people making those claims have provided no evidence to support them. That means those claims are made up. Invented out of nothing. If there was “something” they would show it.

    The people whom you are are trying to convince to discuss your issues are not interested in discussing your issues. It’s not accidental that they are focused on Pachauri, the IPCC, climategate, various investigations, Mann, the hocket stick etc. They are focused on those issues because they are not interested in evidence, they are interested in satisfying themselves there’s sufficient doubt and uncertainty to justify ignoring the evidence.

    You can replace Pachauri with anyone you like, even yourself or Judith Curry. So long as the IPCC continues to claim things like it’s continues to warm since 1998, it’s going to continue warming in the future and that this is most likely anthropogenically driven then whomever is head of the IPCC will be accused of all manner of things.

    Just as Muller is now being accused of all sorts of things now that BEST has produced results the skeptics don’t like.

    You could fire every single “team” scientist and replace them with someone new. The accusations of fraud and corruption would just begin anew as they did with Muller.

  113. Bart Says:

    Tom has a point in the rhetorical power of the ‘argument against self-interrest,’ where you start by acknowledging problematic points on your own side. It’s also a means of building bridges. The latter aspect makes me open to that suggestion, but only insofar as the problematic points are really problematic. I’m not going to join in accusatory language for the sake of winning people over; that would be dishonest.

    The problem is that if problematic points are acknowledged, often those stating the loud criticisms run away with it. You offer them a hand and they take your whole arm. That is the other part of the dynamic. Also, criticms never seem to satisfy the critics: James Annan has strongly criticized the IPCC, William Connolley is known to be very blunt in his criticisms including to the consensus side, I have voiced mild criticisms of the dynamics of the debate incl the role of the consensus side. Many consensus bloggers and commenters have supported the IAC review of the IPCC (

    The reaction is often either to try to take the whole arm in response to this hand, or to ignore these “arguments against self-interest” as Tom calls it. Neither of those reactions are constructive.

    Which is not to say that people shouldn’t voice criticism at their own “side”. Inasmuch as their are sides (science is not a side; it is a process to aimed at increasing understanding of the world around us), of course people should.

  114. Dave H Says:

    For the record, since it is now clear that Tom Fuller is dredging up *old* accusations and not just circulating some hot new talking point, my answer is in fact b), minus any further time spent researching this than I’ve already wasted since 2010.

    Tom, you maintain here and elsewhere that your criticisms have merit, and because people such as I refuse to acknowledge the merit of those criticisms we cannot be reasoned with.

    Here’s an alternative line for you:


    Judith Curry’s original vitiriolic response to the accusations of poor scholarship against Wegman were ill-informed and baseless. Unless she retracts and apologises, she is plainly too dogmatic and emotional to be deemed credible on issues that I have just decided arbitrarily are of crucial import. Unless you call for her to retract, you are failing to acknowledge the correctness of my position on this point, are guilty by association, and are clearly too unreasonable to deal with.

    Steve McIntyre’s response to the accusations against Wegman have been a mix of paper-thin analysis, double-standards, misdirection, and glossing over of hugely important points, and his commenters have allowed him to get away with this. Unless he acknowledges the very real flaws with Wegman’s work, he is clearly too biased and dogmatic to be deemed credible. Unless you call for him to retract his earlier claims and acknowledge his mistakes in this area, you are clearly tainted by the same level of dogma and unreasonableness as him.

    In return for you acknowledging these very serious and obvious points that cannot possibly be denied, I offer you precisely nothing. Indeed, I will use the fact that it took threats to get you to concede to point out the weakness of your other positions, and I reserve the right to frame other issues in the same language in future.

    If this writing offends you, and perhaps makes you angry or combative, that is just further evidence of the rightness of my measured and moderate position, versus your emotional and dogmatic one.


    Now, putting myself in your shoes, I expect you’d read all that and think I’m being quite arrogant and toxic.

    Can you not see how the reverse is also true?


    The trouble with acknowledging the argument against self-interest is how easily it is abused. Tom starts by offering to disavow Monckton, and is expecting acknowledgement of criticism of the IPCC in return – criticisms that are themselves in dispute – when a more reasonable expectation would be for me to criticise someone like, say, Prince Charles instead (which I’m more than happy to do, even though he is hardly a Monckton equivalent).

  115. Tom Says:

    DaveH, regarding your alternative line, I think you are right and I am wrong. Your alternatives are well-chosen and my reaction is pretty much the same as you describe when I used Pachauri’s situation as my Rorschach test.

    This is not an argument against self interest. I think you are right and I am wrong.

    So where do we go from here?

  116. J Bowers Says:

    “So where do we go from here?”

    Discussing each individual topic and issue entirely on its own merits might be a good start.

  117. willard Says:

    I suggest we return to the topic of this thread, which is not the consensus’ lack of “argument against self-interest”, the lack of good faith of the commenters, Rorschach tests that ends up making yet another thread about Rorschach theorists, and certainly not that Pachauri has been acting in a suboptimal way.

    But before returning to our topic, let us note that the auditors’ way is to start with *suboptimality*.

    Let us show how it works. Let’s take Pachauri. Here goes an argument against self-interest:

    > For the sake of acting in good faith, I hereby declare that I don’t think Pachauri has been as effective under his previous presidency as he could be.

    So Pachauri has been acting in a suboptimal way. We can see that we introduced an argument against our self-interest. Let’s not wonder who can’t say that, let’s just mix some concessions with some softening:

    > Part of that is due to how bad look any accusations usually mentioned by Rorschach theorists. In addition, I’ll go so far as to conjecture that Pachauri may never have spent much time at all reading the full reports of the IPCC (which for some reason doesn’t really strike me as very strange–wouldn’t it be normal for him to read the stuff that affects his specialty and to finish his pulp fiction in due time?). And he acts as co-dependent for some researchers among the establishment he represents, including some who have poor editorial skills.

    There, we have shown our understanding why we see that Pachauri has been acting in a suboptimal way.

    We could now try to build bridges in the next paragraph, and in the one after that attenuate even more the impact of Pachauri’s behavior. We could also close our argument against self-interest by noting that we could start by talking about what we wanted to talk about in the first place. But let’s not forget to thank. So here goes:

    > I appreciate the time and the seriousness of your reflection, which compensates for the dumbing down of our debate by MT’s coterie. Many thanks!

    We now have completed our argument against self-interest.

  118. Dave H Says:


    Thanks for the response. Honestly, I have no idea where we go.

    I think it would be a good idea to understand the purpose of a dialogue in the first place, because right now I don’t have a clear idea what the aim is – I just see two sides drawing lines in the sand with no real notion of why they’d want to cross them in the first place.

  119. Bart Says:

    Dave H,

    Excellent mirror image comment.


    Respect for your sportmanlike reply.

  120. neverendingaudit Says:

    After making a moving speech, Lawrence Lessig answers a related question to one above (i.e. what do we do now?):

    > How do we reach out [to the Tea Partiers]?

    Here is his own answer, a bit after 15:00:

    > With respect. Without challenging their integrity. But not requiring that they agree with you on all the important issues you and I are agreeing about. And by openly and explicitely saying “come here”.

    What an orator!

    I believe this applies to many conversations.

  121. J Bowers Says:

    Dave H — “I just see two sides drawing lines in the sand with no real notion of why they’d want to cross them in the first place.”

    Being one who sides with the consensus, I’d personally love the consensus to be wrong. That’s an indication of a major difference I see between the two “sides”.

  122. Tom Says:

    I appreciate the later comments–but am trapped somewhat by my conviction that there are three sides here (at least).

  123. Deech56 Says:

    Dave H and Tom, I truly appreciate the dialog. Tom, a third side? I am reminded of an article in Physics today and a discussion on those who tried to advocate a “third way” (starting with “Many who are unwilling to accept the full brunt of greenhouse warming have embraced a more comforting compromise reminiscent of the Tychonic system:”). A climate sensitivity that I believe you accept (from what I remember, basically the IPCC consensus range) is still pretty scary, and the only path to avoid great stress on the system must include a plan to reduce carbon emissions. I would love the argument to be on how to do this.

  124. Eli Rabett Says:

    Willard says:

    So Pachauri has been acting in a suboptimal way.

    Eli says

    Does anyone, ever?

  125. Eli Rabett Says:

    Let’s do that again

    Willard says:

    So Pachauri has been acting in a suboptimal way.

    Eli says

    Does anyone, ever not?

    The real point is that Pachauri has been subject to a mobbing, where any perceived, imagined or fantasized suboptimal behavior has been exploited. See Mann, Michael.

  126. willard Says:


    You may have missed my editorial choice:

    > Let’s not wonder who can’t say that, let’s just mix some concessions with some softening[.]

    I believe your appeal to mobbing could count as softening.

    The point is not that “is suboptimal” does not means much.

    The point is that it means well.

  127. Tom Says:

    Deech56, well okay, let’s go through the Lukewarmer thing again. The danger for me is that a lukewarmer can try and have it both ways and always point the finger at one of the other two sides saying “You’re talking about Morano” or “You’re talking about Michael Tobis.” (I am not trying to equate the two.)

    The Lukewarmer position is specific, but clearly not detailed enough to be recognizable. I have often discussed it, including here. To give a thumbnail recap:

    1. Lukewarmers accept the tenets of science, and specifically how it has dealt with the fundamentals of climate change. We have no arguments with RTF, etc.
    2. Lukewarmers also accept some, but not all, of the descriptions of adverse impacts of climate change. As there is no manifesto or platform for The Lukewarmer’s Way (a book I thought about writing last year), I have noticed variation in this–and this is why I worry about us trying to have things both ways.
    3. Lukewarmers recognize a level of uncertainty in climate science, primarily with regards to sensitivity of the atmosphere to a doubling of concentrations of CO2, that puts them at odds with the consensus of those discussing climate change. Without speaking for other Lukewarmers, I believe that the current range of sensitivities offered by the IPCC is far too wide to be useful to those making decisions about planning, infrastructure and spending. I note that most models are ‘running hot’, projecting warming at a faster rate than observations, and conclude that we just aren’t there yet when talking about sensitivity.
    4. Lukewarmers are offended by both the strategy and tactics of the most militant adherents of both sides. However, as the consensus side controls the levers of power, it is natural that our criticism of the consensus be more frequent and emphatic. In any event, just saying that Joe Romm is similar to Marc Morano starts a food fight, even if what one is trying to say is that they occupy the same ecological niche in the climate blogosphere. Conversations run downhill very quickly on climate topics.
    5. I personally believe that the lukewarmer position is not a reaction to either consensus or skepticism. I believe it is a concrete position informed by the evidence and defined by the absence of political goals. I think that absence allows us to see more clearly.

    Where this informs Bart’s topic, regarding Tol vs. Curry:

    I find it interesting that both Tol and Curry have at various times over the past few years been excoriated by the consensus, Tol for his various criticisms of the Stern Report (where he did as fine a job of demolishing the flawed infrastructure of the report as he has done with the two papers that inspired this fight) and Curry for having the temerity to engage with what the consensus views as the enemy. The consensus bloggers (and especially consensus commenters) have a very long memory and will remind others of someone’s past ‘sins’ decades on.

    It is clear that skeptics either have a very short memory or that their concerns are more parochial than they would like to believe of themselves. They have forgotten that Tol was frequently quoted and cited when he criticized the IPCC, and remember only that he has criticized Curry.

    When a lukewarmer sees the grudge-holding consensus fighting the amnesiac skeptics, we can perhaps be forgiven for believing that we are not between the two sides, but have moved ahead of them.

  128. sharper00 Says:

    One could happily say the non-centred PCA in the original hockey stick paper was sub-optimal and could have led to erroneous conclusions in other circumstances and yet not satisfy a single critic.

    It’s likely those critics will not be satisfied unless I concede things like “The conclusions of the paper are therefore wrong”, “The MWP was therefore warmer than today”, “Michael Mann is therefore a criminal”.

    I believe a fundamental aspect of the debate is this: To what degree can the climate skeptic population be satisfied whilst retaining an adherence to evidence lead analysis and conclusions. I picked the Pachauri claim above for a reason, the expectation is acceptance when evidence is at best lacking.

    Failure to accept is met not with recognition that a well meaning objective person may find the evidence lacking but counter-claim of bias and tribalism.

    Acceptance of sub-optimal behaviour on Pachauri’s part is as far as an evidence oriented person can go and yet is not nearly far enough for the skeptic population.

  129. Tom Says:

    Perhaps one way of moving forward constructively on the issue of IPCC leadership (this shouldn’t really be just about Pachauri–it should be about who should be leading the organization) is to talk about the IAC recommendations.

    They were given very short shrift. Was that wise?

  130. sharper00 Says:

    “They were given very short shrift. Was that wise?”

    Unwise, sub-optimal from a “best leadership” perspective.

  131. Bart Says:

    Most consensus bloggers were positive about the IAC recommendations as far as I remember. But also on the consensus side, there aere and are many different viewpoints about the IPCC and whether and how it should be restructured. E.g. bigger vs smaller organisational structure; reports. Annan is strongly critical of the IPCC attribution chapter and proces. Just some examples.

  132. Steve Easterbrook Says:

    It’s easy to criticize the IPCC. The job it has is close to impossible, given almost no resources, a volunteer labour force, and a mountain of scientific research to assess and summarize. I think all of us, no matter what our position, can find things to say about how it should be done better.

    But talking about how to improve the IPCC is really just a distraction. Let the bureaucrats figure out how to implement the recommendations of the IAC. Spending time talking about the frailties of individual humans and institutions to which they belong is a sure sign that we’re not really focusing on what matters here. And in repeatedly insisting that we talk about it, Tom appears to be doing little more than concern trolling.

    This thread was originally about science, or at least about the certain aspects of doing science, such as whether we should let crap papers die a quiet death. Ask any scientist to reflect on this, and they’ll tell you that that’s just part of the process – there are always plenty of crap papers, and we’re trained in grad school how to detect them, and how not to waste our time on them.

    This shouldn’t require extensive dissection of how many “sides” there are, and who’s on which side, and what Pachauri had for breakfast.

  133. Tom Says:

    Other than to accuse me of concern trolling, what does your comment bring to us, Mr. Easterbrook?

    I agree with what you say about the IPCC and the difficulties it faces. Do you think having Pachauri, full of breakfast or not, makes their lot easier?

    I commented about Tol vs. Curry. Sharper00 turned the subject back to Pachauri. I responded and was specifically quiet about Pachauri.

    On what planet is that concern trolling?

    I conclude that you are more concerned with characterizing me than contributing to real world discussions of either Tol vs. Curry or the travails of the IPCC.

    Feel free to prove me wrong.

  134. Steve Easterbrook Says:

    Tom: Well, I was more characterizing the trajectory of the whole thread, and your part in shaping that trajectory, than I was in characterizing you specifically. But if the hat fits….

  135. Tom Says:

    It doesn’t–you might look into a mirror.

  136. sharper00 Says:

    Tom’s invocation of Pachauri as a test issue is representative of whether facts as a basis for conclusions matter or whether repetition of faulty arguments matter.

    One of the reasons people are incredibly frustrated at Curry’s highlighting of the Ludecke paper is that it’s a repetition of the type of lazy argument extremely common among skeptics in the blogosphere. Just tweak a graph here, filter a bit there and hey you have a nice cycle that explains everything and makes it all natural, not man-made.

    Those that have invested time and effort in debunking those type of arguments and/or those who feel the skeptic argument needs to abandon silly arguments are the most likely to be annoyed when someone like Dr Curry pops up and undoes probably many hours of their work with a guest post.

    Where does Pachauri fit in? Tom presented the issue not as a normal argument but as a test of another’s reasoning and character. We would expect the issue to be a “slam dunk” from some perspective and firmly place people of one type on one side and people of another on the other side.

    Instead the claim is itself a product of disinformation. Accusations of corruption and conflict of interest have been routinely made without evidence. The simple repetition of those arguments have convinced Tom of their accuracy to the point where he’s prepared to form judgements on another that disagrees purely on the basis that they disagree.

    When challenged on the factual nature of those claims he evades and drops the issue without acknowledgement.

    So the relevance is this: Unless people are careful they will tend to think that if they’ve read 100 times that warming is all natural each one will confirm the other even if the first 99 were all debunked in sequence. If people read 100 times that Pachauri is corrupt they will come to believe it and no evidence can reach them because evidence didn’t bring them there.

    On this topic Curry provided the 101st instance of “Warming is all part of a natural cycle”. It doesn’t actually matter that Tol invested a lot of time debunking it, the 101st is reinforced by the 100th and will help to reinforce the 102nd. Curry’s position in that chain is something she entered into knowingly and apparently without regret.

  137. Marco Says:

    Tom, Curry is attacked for making unsupportable claims, sometimes easily shown to be false, and sometimes just plain unsubstantiated.

    There’s already a long list of examples, some collected on curryquotes.

    It had nothing to do with her “mingling” with ‘the enemy’, and everything that in her attempts to make friends with ‘the enemy’ she started to throw falsehoods around. It should surprise no one that her former ‘friends’ don’t like someone who tells porkies…

    Note that I am not the first to point this out, and certainly won’t be the last.

  138. Tom Says:

    Sharper00, I disagree with your characterization of the Pachauri affair, but as it was leading us off track and spurred an admonition from our host, I have not pursued it. Nor have I evaded it

    I won’t pursue it now–but I will note that I disagree with what you say about it. If Bart wants to do a dedicated post or an open thread, I would be happy to go into it in more detail. I am confident that I can back up my previous statements about Pachauri.

    I am at a complete loss as to where you get your accusation of Curry as having “provided the 101st instance of “Warming is all part of a natural cycle”. Could you please provide some sort of documentation for that?

    Marco, Curry is attacked. You say it’s for making unsupportable claims. I say that it’s because of her moving away from the political position of the consensus. How do we judge? I offer as example what Tobis wrote about her after the Italian flag uncertainty example.

    Tobis called her incompetent, said she had jumped the shark and that she was stupid. After he wrote that, he admitted that he had not read any of her papers on climate science and that the motive for what he wrote was purely political.

    It has everything to do with mingling with the enemy. It has nothing to do with what she writes about climate science. You are not attacking her for what she wrote. You are attacking her for publishing what somebody else wrote. The fact that seems to escape your attention is amazing.

    I’m not saying Tobis speaks for all of you. But you all certainly sound like him–and none of you objected to what he said.

  139. sharper00 Says:

    “I am at a complete loss as to where you get your accusation of Curry as having “provided the 101st instance of “Warming is all part of a natural cycle”. Could you please provide some sort of documentation for that?”

    It’s the topic of the thread we’re talking about. You may disagree that’s what she did but you cannot disagree that’s what a number of people think that she did. Hence when you say something like

    “It has everything to do with mingling with the enemy.”

    You are discounting entirely people’s own stated motives and replacing them with your own, more preferable, ones. Curry likes to do this too, when someone disagrees with her she claims it’s not that they disagree with what she said specifically but that they disagree with her generally for saying something outside the consensus.

    This type of argument is never addressed to the group in question but rather to some third party you believe is listening and judging. The people saying whatever about Curry obviously know their own motives far better than you so it’s unlikely you intend to reveal some pea buried deep under their intellectual mattress. If they are actually being dishonest about their own motives then you’ll have to wait to the very end of the episode before they’ll exclaim “And I would have gotten away with it too” and reveal that dishonesty.

    So when I see people such as yourself and Curry constantly talk past the people they disagree with to some other group they imagine standing behind them I really have to wonder what you think is the appropriate way to convince those people of anything. Or indeed if you’re really trying to convincing anyone of anything and are simply grandstanding for the acclaim of those that are happy to believe the only reason anyone would ever criticise Curry is that she dare talk to skeptics (and also she’s the only one to ever mention uncertainty. Ever).

    As a mental exercise I generally try to read my own comments and arguments from the perspective of someone that disagrees with me completely to see if I’m being too harsh, too argumentative, too hostile or too wishy-washy. Perhaps, if you don’t already, you should consider trying the same and revisit your many “Y’all just hate her” type comments to see if you’d be convinced that was true if you didn’t already think so.

  140. Dave H Says:

    Tom, I agree that “2 sides” is too simplistic – indeed, there’s quite the spectrum of opinion.

    Coming back to my last comment, I guess what I’m now not clear on is – why do we fight? Not what are the disagreements – I know what those are – but what do we aim to achieve by fighting?

    Some people fight because they believe we need to take action as a species to prevent serious consequences down the line, and that there is sufficient evidence available to support this.

    Some fight on principle, because they see science under attack by a campaign of disinformation, and want to right any smears made against diligent scientists who have become targets due to the political ramifications of their findings.

    Some because they feel that there *may* be enough evidence to act, but that the process has become tainted and efforts should be taken to correct the process in order to restore trust, with the ultimate aim of winning support for the much-needed action.

    Some because they feel that there *isn’t* enought evidence to take action, and that action should be actively prevented until a clearer picture emerges, quite possibly without a clear indication of what standard of evidence would suffice.

    Some because they feel that the entire issue is a fabrication, and that action is not only a waste of time, it is actually sinister in intent.

    Of course, there’s lots in between, and many people hold multiple positions, but its a start.

    Now, of these, I’d put you in the third group – broadly accepting, but focused on correcting perceived flaws in order to work towards the “clearer picture” demanded by the fourth group.

    As I see it, this puts you in conflict with the first two groups, who may disagree that there are flaws in the process in the first place, or that whatever flaws there are do not undermine the case for immediate action and that we can work towards both aims simultaneously. Crucially however there is an element of mistrust that this focus is merely the thin end of the wedge – the vanguard action for groups four and five who actually have no intention of pushing for action on the timescales demanded, *no matter what* concessions are made.

    On the other hand, it is a position extremely popular with groups four and five, because it requires neither concession nor action from that end, appeals to the “centrist” argument that is so effective politically, creates just the delay they desire, and still leaves the possibility of moving the goalposts at a later date if the intent really is malign (delay at any cost).

    My problem with your position as a strategy is that is *highly effective* at moving forward the agenda of those that seek delay at any cost, without any real evidence that it can ultimately lead to a reconciliation between all parties necessary for a unified response. Indeed, I don’t see that a reconciliation is even relevant to groups four and five – they have all they want already.

    So, I’m still unclear as to what the point of a dialogue is, or give-and-take on procedural issues, when I have no reason to believe that working towards things like “restoring trust” or “improved IPCC leadership” will be any more effective to advancing the position that I hold.

    What you’re asking is not that we find goals and common ground that are mutually acceptable to all groups. What you are asking is that we actually change fundamentally what group we belong to. However, speaking for myself, I believe I’ve arrived at this position via an honest appraisal of the evidence – and to compromise that position seems *wrong* because it means moving to a position that is *less* evidentially supported (to my mind) in order to appease those who have not indicated any movement towards my position.

  141. Deech56 Says:

    Tom, I had this whole eloquent post planned, but Dave H made some very good points that I wish I had thought of. I would just add that even if warming was at the low end of the range, a quadrupling of CO2 levels over pre-industrial levels would have dramatic effects. All we need to do is look at past climates. If sensitivity were in the low range, we would still need to act. Since we cannot make radical changes anyway, I believe that the initial response would be the same if sensitivity were at the low or high ends.

  142. Tom Says:

    Well, Dave H, you might direct your question about why we fight to people like Eli Rabett or Willard. They are the ones who seem to feel most threatened whenever anything approaching dialogue seems about to happen. They have a talent for trolling and an ear for invective. It’s almost as if they are afraid that something approaching reconciliation might occur.

    I’ve said it often enough, but I’ll repeat what I think we should do while waiting for clarity regarding sensitivity and other unresolved issues with the science:

    1. Tax CO2 at a starting rate of $12/ton and revisit the rate every 10 years, adjusting the rate to reflect changes in CO2 concentrations and a pre-agreed metric for climate change that has occurred in the interim.
    2. Spend a global total of $100 billion for the transfer of technology to the developing world for the purpose of reducing the impact of development technologies, in hopes that they can leapfrog one or two generations of energy development.
    3. Commit to spending over the course of this century on moving roads inland, removing permission for construction on threatened coasts and flood plains. The EPA found that this would cost about $400 billion for the United States about 20 years ago–adjust for inflation. But that’s a one-time cost.
    4. Continue Steven Chu’s investment strategy for reducing costs in renewable energy, storage and transmission. Continue with ARPA-E at full funding. We may have another Solyndra–probably will, in fact. But we may also have another Tesla, which didn’t technically come from that program, but serves as an inspiration.
    5. Encourage the U.S. EPA to regulate CO2 emissions from large emitters.
    6. Accelerate permitting for new nuclear power plants to maintain nuclear power’s percentage of electricity at 20% in the U.S.
    7. Uprate existing hydroelectric plants to take advantage of advances in turbine technology.
    8. Mandate uptake of GPS within the air traffic control infrastructure and controlled and one-step descent on landing.
    9. Homogenize permitting and regulation for installation of solar and wind power. Maintain current levels of subsidies and RPS.
    10. Increase utilization of Combined Heat and Power facilities from its current 7% of primary energy production to the world average of 9% and then by steps in northern regions to benchmark levels found in Denmark, Holland and other northern European countries.
    11. Support introduction of charging stations for electric vehicles.
    12. Force existing coal power plants to meet best available technology standards or close.

    There’s more–I’ve written about them so many times that I forget. And then I get called a denier by folks like Eli and Willard. So we fight.

  143. Tom Says:

    Deech56, I not only agree with what you say, I have written the same thing many times. I don’t know what the sensitivity of the atmosphere is. (I don’t think anyone does.) My best interpretation of what I have read leads me to think it will be close to 2 than to 4.5.

    But because global warming is really regional in its expression, it will have large negative impacts on the world, especially after 2030. We should take immediate and concrete steps to both limit concentrations of CO2 and prepare for the effects of global warming.

    Cue Willard and Eli Rabett…

  144. willard Says:


    Since I’m cued, I’ll respond:

    Have you watch Lessig’s speech?

    Let me remind what Lessig said about how do we approach people:

    > With respect. Without challenging their integrity. But not requiring that they agree with you on all the important issues you and I are agreeing about. And by openly and explicitely saying “come here”.

    Now, we can argue what respect means in the blogosphere.

    But I’m afraid we can’t argue about the second clause:

    Without challenging their integrity.

    Tom, thread after thread, you are doing Rorsasch tests.

    I asked a simple question about a simple contradiction, and you go silent.

    And now, you play silly games like this:

    > They are the ones who seem to feel most threatened whenever anything approaching dialogue seems about to happen. They have a talent for trolling and an ear for invective. It’s almost as if they are afraid that something approaching reconciliation might occur.

    I interject every time you start your stupid Rorsasch tests.

    Rorsasch tests that cut no ice.

    Rorsasch tests that challenge integrity.

    Rorsasch tests that you should not do when approaching people.

    But it’s all my fault.


    You should not challenge INTEGRITY ™.

    Your position is unwinnable that way.

  145. willard Says:

    I’m not finished, Tom.

    I now just read this:

    > And then I get called a denier by folks like Eli and Willard. So we fight.

    Please quote me using that word.

    Please quote me using that word against you.

    I’m quite content using a more lukewarm terminology, Tom.

    This is not a misrepresentation, Tom.

    This is outright false.

    Why do you play lousy moves like that?

  146. Rattus Norvegicus Says:


    I finally got around to watching the Lessig video and he had a great point.

    I went to my local Bozeman OWS event and listened to the speakers. I had a spot near where the speakers gathered and discussed points, such as Lessig made, with them. They asked me if I wanted to speak! Since I had no speech ready to go, lots of disconnected ideas which sounded good, but no connected argument, I didn’t do this. Lessig put my ideas together and expressed them at least as well as I could have.

    Lessig’s speech is a very good example of how to build bridges to people who may hold different views than you. This is important and I don’t think that Tom has any good to say on this point.

  147. Marco Says:

    Tom, the Italian flag was a very good example of Curry being stupid.

    And to quote what Michael Tobis actually said:
    “Therefore, for a change Tom Fuller is right. My motivation is indeed political. I wish to defend science from an injection of nonsense from the political level. Lysenkoism never works out very well. And Lysenkoism is exactly the central risk of politicization of science.”

    Quite different from what your version makes it sound.

    Also, Tobis is far from the only one who exposed her errors, mistakes, obfuscations, and more. I know you hate Michael, so you can no longer see his points, so we could go on to James Annan and HIS opinion on the Italian flag:
    And that isn’t the only time James Annan posted about that.

  148. Bart Says:

    Deech makes a good point:

    the initial response would be the same if sensitivity were at the low or high ends.

    I’m glad to see Tom agree. I have a hard time though reconciling it with your earlier statement, Tom:

    “the range offered by the IPCC is too large to permit concrete planning.”

    They seem mutually exclusive, but perhaps I’m missing something. I’m squarely with the former statement.

    The antagonism towards Curry has very little to do with her leaving the tribe or something like that. It has everything to do with her unsupported statements on the science and her sweeping and unsupported accusations towards scientists and the IPCC. Of course I can only speak for myself, but reading other people’s criticisms of her I sense much the same. One difference perhaps being that I kept seeing some positive contribution in her writings for much longer that most other pro-science bloggers.

  149. sharper00 Says:

    “And then I get called a denier by folks like Eli and Willard. So we fight.”

    Have you considered the possibility that the reason you fight is because you say things like “I get called a denier by folks like Eli and Willard”?

    Have you considered the possibility people really are upset about disinformation and highlighting of really bad papers?

    At some point you have to consider that your explanation is not only not very good, it’s damaging the objective you’re trying to achieve.

    Listing policy objectives you want to achieve is nice and all but agreement on them doesn’t mean we agree. I’m sure I could agree with a lot of Ron Paul has to say but I wouldn’t elect him President.

  150. Bart Says:

    Another batch of CRU emails seems to have been uploaded, in a timely manner just before Durban. No confirmation yet of authenticity, but initial reactions say they probably are:

  151. Lazar Says:


    I like your point that an open forum may diffuse some of the anger felt by skeptics. I think that point is very plausible. It is a shame that JC then provides fuel for that fire with, as Bart says…

    “her unsupported statements on the science and her sweeping and unsupported accusations towards scientists and the IPCC”

    Folks leave education with shiny certificates and they are told they ‘are’ smart. And they are unprepared for how competitive the real world is. Then this big issue comes along, and the real world ain’t listening to them, the world listens to that small number of individuals who have done the hard work of advancing human knowledge. And the smart folks are kinda pissed. That’s my take. I’m not sure to what point that anger can be diffused…

  152. J Bowers Says:

    Tom Says — “…the IAC recommendations.

    They were given very short shrift. Was that wise?”


    NATURE: Climate panel must adapt to survive

    Real Climate: IPCC Report Card

    It appears mostly sensible and has a lot of useful things to say about improving IPCC processes – from suggesting a new Executive to be able to speak for IPCC in-between reports, a new communications strategy, better consistency among working groups and ideas for how to reduce the burden on lead authors in responding to rapidly increasing review comments.

    As the report itself notes, the process leading to each of the previous IPCC reports has been informed from issues that arose in previous assessments, and that will obviously also be true for the upcoming fifth Assessment report (AR5). The suggestions made here will mostly strengthen the credibility of the next IPCC, particularly working groups 2 and 3, though whether it will make the conclusions less contentious is unclear. Judging from the contrarian spin some are putting on this report, the answer is likely to be no.

  153. Tom Fuller Says:

    Hi J Bowers,

    I meant the recommendations were given short shrift by the IPCC. The recommendations were indeed favorably received by others, which makes it doubly disappointing that the IPCC seemed to look for ways to avoid adopting them or to paper over the deficiencies highlighted.

  154. dhogaza Says:


    Quite different from what your version makes it sound.

    Tom’s made something of a career of creating versions of things that are quite different than reality. In fact, he’s profited from it by co-authoring a book about Climategate …

    Now that a new batch of e-mails has been released, I’m sure he’ll take the opportunity of continue with his misrepresentation efforts.

  155. Tom Fuller Says:

    As there seems to be a new topic floating around the climate change blogosphere, I hope my personal experience might be relevant to some.

    Skeptics appear to be making a mistake by hyping the new release of emails–as others have remarked already, if there were really damning emails, they would have been released earlier.

    FWIW, I would advise people not to repeat the skeptics’ mistake by trumpeting their lack of content. It seems clear that there is enough grungy material to show Mann in a very poor light, decrease trust in modelling, etc. If you can show sufficient restraint to adopt a ‘wait and see’ attitude, it will help.

    Read the emails yourself. Read the emails yourself. Read the emails yourself. There was a clear and large disparity in the argument over the original Climategate emails between skeptics and members of the consensus. That disparity was due to obsessive familiarity with the emails on the part of skpetics, and a surprising ignorance of their contents by many seeking to counter skeptical claims.

    Nobody cares how the emails got into the public sphere. Nobody.

    Take this seriously. There almost certainly isn’t a smoking gun in the emails. But it is quite likely that there is enough to continue the acid erosion of credibility of climate science due to poor behaviour and bad judgement of a few scientists. Nobody would listen to me if I advocated cutting loose of those I consider miscreants–but painting them as martyrs will not look right when juxtaposed with their statements in the emails. This is especially true for Michael Mann.

    This too will pass. It will pass more quickly if you don’t goad the skeptics, or try and paper over some real misstatements in the emails. The skeptics will overreach. When that happens, it will not be difficult to show.

  156. Quiet Waters Says:

    “obsessive familiarity with the emails on the part of skpetics, and a surprising ignorance of their contents by many seeking to counter skeptical claims.”

    I note that Tom finds it surprising that some people may think that the ethics of reading other people’s private correspondence is dubious at best. Some may say the publication of private emails was dishonourable…

    I also note that “obsessive familiarity” with the private correspondence of others isn’t working out that well for a certain Australian media mogul – though to be fair the CRU hack hasn’t yet targetted any murder victims.

  157. Tom Fuller Says:

    Perhaps a good example of what to avoid is posted directly above my previous comment.

    Although the commenter is well-known and quickly discounted, the aggressive attitude is one factor that contributed to the prolonged survival of the Climategate emails. Every time someone like him jumps on a skeptic comment, the skeptic will respond with a quote. That way the quote propagates and the discussion carries on.

    The hero of the first edition of Climategate was Gavin Schmidt. What he did right should be an example to you all.

    He was available–he didn’t duck and cover.

    He was polite–often in the face of very hostile commentary.

    He was consistent.

    In other words, he was the polar opposite of the previous commenter.

  158. Tom Fuller Says:

    Quiet Waters, I don’t think you should read anything you don’t want to. What I am offering in the way of friendly advice is to avoid getting involved in conversations about the emails if you haven’t read them.

  159. Dave H Says:


    I did mean my “why do we fight” question as an introspective one. However, it looks like recent events have made that musing redundant – I suspect we’ll be too busy fighting for a good while yet to stop and think about it…

    Of import though is the original point of contention – do blogs matter?

    Well, here you go:–just-hot-air.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

    From the Air Vent and Climate Audit, straight to the MSM.

  160. Tom Fuller Says:

    I’m not sure I follow, Dave H. It’s trivially true that the blogs offered a convenient dumping ground for the emails and appeared there first. But your link to the news article basically shows how easy it would have been to cut blogs out of the loop, had the leaker so wished.

    As in fact happened with whistleblowers prior to the invention of weblogs.

    Unless you think the copy written by the Daily Mail was heavily influenced by what had been written on the blogs, they just were a middleman.

  161. Deech56 Says:

    All: Please don’t accept the term “whistleblowers” in connection with stolen e-mails. That is all. Now, back to my “Lucky U IPA”.

  162. Tom Fuller Says:

    Hi Deech56,

    If the ‘All’ is expected to include me, you will most certainly need to explain why a hack is a more reasonable hypothesis. And I spent some time examining the issue after the first Climategate.

    More importantly, don’t get distracted. This issue isn’t important. I, for one, don’t care. I doubt if many do. But it’s counterproductive to be bringing this up now.

  163. Tom Fuller Says:

    I don’t want to direct traffic away from our host’s site, but if you go over to Collide a Scape you can see folks like New York J and Holly Stick doing exactly what they (you all) did during the first Climategate discussions. And it’s having the same results. Chris Colose is doing the same thing over at Climate Audit. And it’s having the same results. J Bowers is doing the same thing over at TallBloke’s. And it’s having the same results.

    Do it differently this time…

  164. Steve Easterbrook Says:

    @Tom: Wait, what? Blog don’t matter, but how pro-science people react to this on blogs does matter? You’ve just blown any pretense of credibility.

  165. Tom Says:

    Curses, foiled again. I have squandered the gargantuan heaps of goodwill and credibility that Mr. Easterbrook has bestowed upon me over the years. What a mortal pity.

    Of course we should act exactly the same during exceptionally trying times as we do under normal circumstances! How blind of me…

  166. Deech56 Says:

    Tom, the RealClimate server was broken into in 2009. It is not a stretch to assume that if someone could hack one site, they would hack another. I think the real story was that the CRU was attacked, which is indicative of a new phase by the delayers.

  167. Bart Says:


    Please take off-topic discussions, e.g. pertaining to the CRU emails, to the new open thread.

  168. Eli Rabett Says:

    Eli enjoys being part of Tom’s fantasy life

  169. genealogymaster Says:

    At SS there’s a lot of crap. Dr. Curry has a good site and when I see a handful of scientists gatekeeping papers then I get really upset we have no settled science just a theory that at the moment belongs in the garbage.

  170. Jim Bouldin Says:

    “Chose between moderating more strictly and ignoring, cuz responding to each nitwit is undoable.”

    Bart, I now owe you a beer should we ever meet.

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