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Archive for the ‘Assault on Science’ Category

BPSDB A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on…

possibly Mark Twain

The past few years have seen the internet change fairly significantly with respect to the issue of climate change.  As a tool for public education the internet is invaluable. Unfortunately as a tool for disinformation it seems that it is even more effective.

To what extent disinformation on the net drives climate change Denial as opposed to the reverse is a chicken and egg discussion. Undoubtedly they feed on each other in a classic positive feedback loop. The question is, what is to be done about it.

Not that any one thing is going to turn it around. There are a host of things the climate science community needs to do. However, I do have one specific proposal that I believe would be helpful and I would like some feedback on it.

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BPSDB In my last post about machinima I said:

Now, a fun piece of culture jamming would be to identify the game engines in question and do clones of these videos [2 climate change Denier screeds], but have the “libural” stating the facts (with sources) just as we do in real discussions. Then give these clones the same titles as the originals and start spreading them around the net.

Well guess what?

Hat tip to PE who sent me a 3rd video of machinima and I realized that the prominent site name that appeared on it might be a site that allowed you to make machinima (well Duh?). I checked, it was.

In fact it was the same site that had been used to make both of the Denier videos I referred to in the other post. Well having said “someone should … ” I thought ‘what the hell …’ and a few hours later, voila.

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Machinima is?

BPSDB

a) a technique for video production that progressives barely use;

b) a German cyber-goth band;

c) a name for pit-bull/doberman hybrids;

d) videos produced using computer game engines.

Recently climate blogger (and scientist) Michael Tobis posted Dogs and Deniers, a post illustrating the similarity between a particular Far Side cartoon and real life with the climate change Deniers (with their typical inability to detect irony, a Denier immediately posted comments illustrating the truth of the post). To illustrate his point Tobis had actually used a rather crude Denier produced example of machinima.

Machinima is of course both a) and d), that is it is a technique for film making using computer game engines that progressives barely use.

Machinima apparently began in the 1990s with game players simply screen capturing their play and then distributing it. From there someone had the notion to tell a little story within the game story and have the game characters act it out.

Then someone had the realization that you could control game characters to do more than simply hack and slash and kill everyone within the games’ storyline. If you had them strike a pose and say “To be or not to be, that is the question … ” and then hack and slash and kill everyone, you had Hamlet.

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BPSDB When I went to Google News this morning  the “Top Stories” are about some skiers and the beginning of the Federal election campaign.

Only much lower down do I find anything about floods in Australia and Sri Lanka, or mudslides in Brazil.

Apparently there is nothing new about climate change here in the Industrialized West. In the Anthropocene (era of human dominated biosphere) disasters of epic proportions are not “news.”

The cost of cutting back emissions is more than we estimated, but that is because the consequences of climate change are already here.”              Nicholas Stern

Just over one year ago Australian blogger MothIncarnate posted his first piece “Business as Usual; The Dead Horse and Juggernaut of Climate Change.”  An area of Queensland the size of France and Germany combined is flooded; the Juggernaut has arrived.

As people die or lose everything they have, the climate change Deniers want to quibble semantics. The flooding is exactly what was predicted and is completely consistent with climate science, but can we categorically say that it has been caused by climate change?

http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/

It’s not the right question to ask if this storm or that storm is due to global warming, or is it natural variability. Nowadays, there’s always an element of both.”  Trenberth

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BPSDB Huge thanks to Brian D for reminding me about Marcus Brigstocke. I went to fetch the video that he refers to in his comment and was delighted to find a new one … it’s awesome

The Return Of Marcus Brigstocke

In a six minute piece a comedian debunks more Denier memes and gets more science and politics right than most major media manage in a year, and more than some have ever managed. (Never mind the self-styled climate science “authorities” that make up the Denialosphere)

In it he refers to yet another one that I missed, viz:

Dr Seuss at Copenhagen

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BPSDB Yes, Christmas is over, so it’s that time again.

Time for the Denialosphere to once more be shocked and amazed that it snows in winter. So like 3 year olds they are; naturally they have  seen snow and cold before, but they just don’t remember.

Both Potholer54 and Greenman3610 have new videos to explain how science said all along that we would still get snow and cold in winter, and why it can be even colder than in the past in some places.

BP oil spills and an end to snow

Potholer54’s video also takes on the ‘scientists claim oil spill disrupts Gulf stream’  claim, and the ‘they changed it from global warming to climate change’ nonsense (see also here).

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BPSDB After babbling on with a number of factoids about global population, the land surface area of Texas and so on, the ‘Tennessee Conservative Watch (TCW)” asks “Considering that the earth’s atmosphere extends 50 miles up from the surface, how can anyone with half a brain think that humans can do anything to change the atmosphere much less the earth’s climate?”

What the TCW has done is parrot one variation of the popular “common sense” arguments that climate change Deniers like to use. They all include some form of “common sense tells you” coupled with some completely irrelevant, misleading factoids. They are based on an appeal to ‘use your brain’, so let’s try that and see what happens.

Mankind occupies less than 4 tenths of 1 percent of the surface of the earth.TCW

Common sense tells you that:

Here, try this logic with any housemates you may have: ‘I occupy less than 4 tenths of 1 percent of the surface of this house/apartment, how can anyone with half a brain think that I can do anything to change the amount of dirt and mess?’ Think that might work? I doubt it, even if your housemates have only half a brain.

It isn’t just the physical space you physically occupy that matters, it’s how much of the space that you use. Our actual use of the Earths’ land surface is 83%, and we have brought the oceans to the point of collapse even without climate change.

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BPSDB

A couple of useful resources from QualiaSoup to share with Deniers who cannot seem to grasp what science and critical thinking actually are.

Skewed views of science

Granted most Deniers will never look at them, but at least we can try. They are obviously created for the anti-science vs Evolution crowd, but since they are virtually identical in tactics and ignorance of science to the climate change Deniers these videos are still bang on.

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BPSDB

Argumentum ex bardus

Omnologos cannot logically exist

The lottery fallacy

Standing on their heads

Dark Minds

Potentia ex verum


Getting to the point of this post requires walking through some rather tedious Denier thinking and I apologise for that. I ask you to bear with me because I believe the walk through is rather revelatory and I think of some value. Even so, I will try to keep it short and to the point.

Argumentum Ex Bardus

Through October and November Omnologos created a list of events and circumstances related to climate change and climate science that he considered improbably coincidental, and as such offered it as clear evidence as to Why AGW Is Logically Impossible.

Discarding all of the points that are obviously false, pure conjecture, value laden subjective opinion, completely irrelevant and/or just silly (ie most of them) one is left with a small collection of arguably objective facts about our current moment in history. (I should note that whether you chuck any out or not changes nothing … as will be shown it’s all a load of idiotic rubbish regardless.)

His argument is that since these coincidences are extremely improbable, their existence is proof that anthropogenic climate change is not real. Here are three of his examples:

  1. Relatively widespread availability of computer power is just enough strong to simulate the right climate projections on a multi-decadal scale
  2. Climate science is developed just beyond the minimal level needed to understand how to simulate the right climate projections on a decadal scale
  3. Novel statistical approaches devised just in time, and correct from the get-go, for Mann’s Hockey Stick to emerge from the jumble of dendro- and other proxy data

Omnologos cannot logically exist

The flawed nonthinking of this argument is easily shown by applying the same lack of logic to a perfectly mundane subject, eg the existence of Omnologos.

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The Top Ten BPSDB

Ben of Wott’s Up With That? commented on “Guide for dealing with the “Denier” labelthatthe “skeptic” fig-leaf is what annoys me most about climate change deniers” which led me to respond that “And there is so much to choose from too. I wonder if I could pick which are the “Ten most infuriating climate change Denier scams.”

Which comes with the following caveats of course.

1) Is identifying the scams that most infuriate simply an invitation to even more of the same?

2) Is acknowledging (again) the obvious reality that:

      1. There are Deniers;
      2. They use scams & deceit etc rather than rational debate;
      3. It is infuriating.

simply polarizing?

3) Is this just an invitation to simply list (again) the:

Regardless, both feet into the fire … simply post your nomination as a comment. Should clear winners not emerge we will use the Poll function to hold a runoff to determine the top ten.

Nominations should include a tinyurl link to an example of scam in question (or a hand drawn facsimile thereof) [Offer void where prohibited by law].

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BPSDB If someone refers to you as a “Denier”:

To convince them that you are a “Skeptic”, NOT a “Denier”:

  • Ignore the label and keep the discussion focused on the issue(s) of substance;
  • Point to and discuss the relevant facts and evidence;
  • Use reliable sources, either peer reviewed science or sources that track back to real science;
  • Be sure that your position accepts and accounts for all of the generally known facts that you are not explicitly disputing;
  • Ensure that your position is based on a logical argument;
  • Be flexible, ready to modify your position if it is shown that you erred or misunderstood;
  • Be consistent and rational; stay focused on facts and insist that your opponent do so as well.
  • Follow ‘The Skeptical Manifesto” as best you can.

To convince them that you probably ARE a Denier:

Do:

  • Quibble about the term, complain that it is offensive and an attempt link you with the Holocaust or some other such irrelevant nonsense;
  • Keep insisting that the perfectly correct English word ‘Denier’ not be permitted, do not allow any discussion of whether it was used correctly or not;
  • Insist that you are a “Skeptic” even though you don’t really know what that means;
  • Call them names and accuse them of ad hominem attacks. Don’t worry if you don’t really know what ‘ad hominem’ actually means.;
  • Go off on tangents, talk about anything except the actual issue;

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Mimsy BPSDB

This one has to come with an audience advisory … DO NOT attempt to watch the first 30 seconds of this video if:

  • your stomach is at all unsettled, and/or
  • you are holding/drinking hot liquids, and/or
  • you are standing, and/or
  • there are any heavy objects at hand that you may reflexively fling in a desperate, instinctual attempt to protect yourself from terminal ignorance.

You have been warned!

Climate Change Denial Crock of the WeekA Natural By-Product of Nature

Added to the Climate Denial Crock of the Week collection.

Flimsy

Speaking of CO2, this from a new, peer reviewed paper “Warming Power of CO2 and H2O: Correlations with Temperature Changes” being trumpeted at WhatsWrongWithWatts:

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Dear Michael Lemonick BPSDB

In general I have appreciated your work, that of Climate Central, and of Scientific American.

As such I have been hugely disappointed, indeed flabbergasted by the piece you did on Judith Curry. Not by the subject, but by the fact that it promotes a narrative that is largely fiction.

Of the article Climate Heretic: Judith Curry Turns on Her Colleagues“in Scientific American Stoat saidthat article has completely missed the point of the criticism of her.” Actually I’d say it’s far worse than that. It is not simply misguided, it is flat out nonsense.

In your article the scientific community is falsely portrayed as a bunch of small minded bigots who gossip about trivialities and the irrelevant. Their real and legitimate concerns, not to mention substantive critiques of Curry, are ignored. Bad enough to ignore the real story, but to create a fiction as a substitute?

Richard Littlemore comes closer than Stoat with his critique, and FAIR makes a couple of good points, but I think there is value to be being more specific about exactly what are the failings.

In the Scientific American  article and the subsequent “Why I Wrote About Judith Curry” at Climate Central you said:

… something that annoys, even infuriates, many of her scientific colleagues. Curry has been engaging actively with the climate change skeptic community, largely by participating on outsider blogs …

Scientific American

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BPSDB

MENU

Linguiça Hodge Podge

Curry’ed Menudo (Tripe)

Jumped Shark Fin Soup

Carbonnade à la Flamande Hash

Banh Tieu Chiffonade

Dog(ma) Imbottito con Ideologia

Trockenbeerenauslese Trifle

Lemon Curry Fool

A recipe for Ms Curry

Curry şiş Kebabs


I have finally gotten around to reading Judith Curry‘s contributions to the climate change debate and I have to say Stewart Shaw’s paraphrasing of the old axiom sums it up best:

It’s like making sausage. The more you know about what goes into it and how it’s done, the less you like it.

Stewart Shaw

Insomuch as Ms Curry’s stated objective is to build bridges and “have a civil conversation about climate” I thought it would be interesting to have a look at the Curry phenomenon from a conflict resolution perspective. Specifically to look at and assess Ms Curry’s contribution to facilitating civil discourse.

Curry and her take on climate science has been much discussed and vivisected (Curry şiş Kebabs below) and although I present some samplings to illustrate how she deals with contentious issues, I will not be repeating or reviewing the scientific or political perspective. There are far too many threads and Curry’s dissembling has made most of them more convoluted and Byzantine than they needed to be.

What I found is that while Curry claims to want to build bridges, she is going about it with a flame thrower. Her approach, whether intentional or not, is a recipe to make matters far worse, and it’s working!

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BPSDB

Global Warming? or Climate Change?

 

Peter Sinclair’s latest addition to the Climate Denial Crock of the Week debunks the idiotic “they changed it to “climate change after 1998” meme … “they” being the IPCC … which apparently the paranoid delusionals (aka climate change Deniers) thought stood for ‘Intergovernmental Panel on Coerced Collectivization’

As both the video and Joseph Romm note, the irony is the fact that it was the Republicans & Deniers who made calling it ‘”climate change” a priority because “global warming” was too scary. (foreshadowing – when our collective inaction on climate leads to the inevitable social collapse the Deniers will blame scientists and progressives for the inaction).

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BPSDB

Scientific malpractice isn’t

Scientific malpractice is

Principles of scientific work

The controversial part

It’s not a bloody shovel

One of the most scrutinized and stringently regulated common professions is medicine. Just becoming a medical practitioner is a long and arduous process with strict standards, reviews and licensing.

Despite this system of oversights and checks medical malpractice still occurs, and far more frequently than we are really comfortable contemplating. Given that, is it really so shocking that there is such a thing as scientific malpractice and incompetence as well?

Of course science has standards and checks such as peer review to ensure that published scientific work itself is, by and large, competent. However there is no check on the competence of the scientists themselves beyond what their employer may choose to impose.

If only 1/10,000 scientists is incompetent it would still give us 6,000 to 7,000 of them skulking about. If the rate even approaches that of medical malpractice than we are talking at least 31,000, undoubtedly many more.

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BPSDB

FABIAN:  If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction.

SIR TOBY BELCH : His very genius hath taken the infection of the device, man.

.

It is a perverse fact that often the sheer idiocy of many of the climate change Denier arguments works in their favour.

This is above and beyond the usual reasons some people find ways to believe the climate change Denier deceptions.

I am not referring to the hard core Deniers who write the blogs and spam legitimate climate sites with absurd claims, obvious frauds and largely irrelevant rants. This cadre are & will be the 10% of the population that will never be convinced even as their homes burst into flame.

My concern is the section of the general public who are “in denial” rather than being “Deniers” per se. They are our target for education, but to do that we need to understand why they are in denial and why the lies work on them.

  • Information Deficit
  • Psychology of Denial
    • Motivated reasoning
    • Groupthink
    • Future discounting & the neurotic paradox
    • Belief retention
    • Inferred justification
    • The bigger the lie
  • Beware this boy
  • Links of interest

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BPSDB

One of the most difficult problems communicating science to the public is how to convince someone who does not have a scientific background and cannot take the time to look at the science itself.

For someone who is legitimately uncertain and wants to know the truth regardless of what it is, what can one offer?

From WallMart greeters to Orthodontists, probably 99% of the public is getting along by putting their faith in some group or other (just as we all do for most things in our life; how many really understand electricity? or how a computer works?).

Some accept the word of the scientific community, some side with the climate change Denier “scientists”, some with a particular suite of media, and so on. Regardless of which, they are taking the word of one group over the next pretty much on faith.

I believe that I have what may be a contribution which will help those who are uncertain and really want to know. Before getting into what I have to offer let’s look at some of the other attempts to address this problem.

This problem eats at most people concerned with climate change and there are several approaches that people have tried. The first is to demonstrate that the climate change Denier claims are all misrepresentations, hoaxes and lies, for eg:

Continue reading at News Junkie Post

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BPSDB Not even wrong … refers to any statement, argument or explanation that is so at odds with reality that it is considered uncorrectable.

2 + 2 = 4  … is correct

2 + 2 = 5 … is wrong

2 + 2 =  ‘§’ … did not understand the question

(2 + 2)/ zebra * Fugue = “global cooling” … is not even wrong

Climate change Deniers are often (usually?)  “not even wrong

I want to use one of the perennial Denier fables to illustrate not merely that the Deniers are wrong &/or willfully lying, but that they are not even wrong, ie so totally clueless that it’s a wonder anyone trusts them for the time of day, much less for science.

For this little demonstration I’d like to use that standard “It was cold today/this week/this month/this year in my region/town/yard/basement therefore global warming theory is wrong.”

The Poptart is Cold

For a specific “typical” example I will use PopTech’s (aka PopTart1,000 References of Global Cooling. This is a collection of 1000 media stories from the past decade about everything from cold snaps to people dying from cold.

Naturally this Denier fable has been debunked over and over (see at bottom), but rather than jump to what is the right answer let’s take a tour of just how absurdly “not even wrong” the fable is.

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BPSDB Double the CO2 – Half the literacy – 1/10th the coherence

‘Doubled CO2 means just 1.64 degrees of warming…’ or maybe not.

Potholer54 is back with another good one, this time debunking the “not much warming for two centuries” nonsense. Potholer pretty much covers it all, so I’ll leave it to him.

Half the literacy

Even before the Lewis Page version of this meme turned up Deniers were using a report on the NASA Press Release that had been posted at WUWT and echoed around the Denialosphere as the basis for claiming that climate change was not a problem.

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