‘Get at the truth, and not fool yourself’


Don't diss me, man

Don’t diss me, man

John Cook’s 97% is, quite frankly, bullshit. A simple statistic by, for and on behalf of, the simple minded, to be bandied about as often as possible, hoping that no-one actually bothers to enquire what it means.

And relying on the old adage that a lie, repeated often enough, will eventually become the truth. “97% of climate scientists agree that… [insert assertion here]” is a big heavy weapon used to beat dissenters around the head.

As always, however, the reality is vastly different. What do they agree on? [Read more…]

UQ: Threats and hot air – and an FoI


Pacman lives!

Pacman lives!

UPDATE: Even the Washington Post is now in on this story, with a piece entitled: Is it copyright infringement to post a lawyer’s cease-and-desist letter?

More popcorn required, as UQ jumps the shark on the release of data relating to John Cook’s Consensus Project.

If you google “97%” and “climate” it returns nearly 13 million hits, all thanks to Un-Skeptical Pseudo-Science’s attempt to shut down debate. The Consensus Project used a number of raters, the majority of whom were warmists, to review abstracts from 26,000 papers and categorise them as to their agreement or otherwise with the global warming consensus. The results were then published in a journal, the abstract of which reads: [Read more…]

Cook ‘n’ Lew’s propaganda war


Propaganda war

Propaganda war

John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky, the Laurel and Hardy of pop climate psychology, are back with more self-serving consensus nonsense in The Conversation.

The question posed by the first article, “The truth is out there – so how do you debunk a myth?” seems to be answered by the response “replace it with a different myth”:

First and foremost, you need to emphasise the key facts you wish to communicate rather than the myth. Otherwise, you risk making people more familiar with the myth than with the correct facts.

That doesn’t mean avoid mentioning the myth altogether. You have to activate it in people’s minds before they can label it as wrong.

Secondly, you need to replace the myth with an alternate narrative. This is usually an explanation of why the myth is wrong or how it came about. Essentially, debunking is creating a gap in people’s minds (removing the myth) then filling that gap (with the correct explanation).

If you had to boil down all the psychological research into six words then it can be summed up as follows:

fight sticky ideas with stickier ideas.

Myths are persistent, stubborn and memorable. To dislodge a myth, you need to counter it with an even more compelling, memorable fact.

But Cook’s first ‘memorable fact’ is itself another myth. The 97% consensus figure is as meaningless as any other factoid. Nothing in that figure conveys the subtlety of the arguments in play – it’s a typical black/white result chosen to mislead. Putting aside all the statistical sleight of hand (which others have dealt with), even if we accept the conclusion, what does it tell us? That almost all papers conclude that the climate is changing and humans have an influence? Count me in.

What it doesn’t show is the range of views within that group – from those like me, who acknowledge the effect on climate but question its magnitude and the proposed response, to those like Cook ‘n’ Lew, who think there is no natural component to the recent warming, it’s all man-made, and we should wreck the global economy in a pointless gesture that won’t change a thing.

The second ‘memorable fact’ is simply misleading and emotive: the Hiroshima bombs analogy.

Global warming is a build up in heat. Greenhouse gases are trapping heat which is building up in our oceans, warming the land and air and melting ice. When scientists add up all the energy accumulating in our climate system, they find the heat build-up hasn’t slowed since 1998.

The greenhouse effect continues to blaze away. It turns out the laws of physics didn’t go on hiatus 16 years ago.

Creating a metaphor

To communicate this, we used a metaphor. We toyed with many metaphor ideas but found none able to conceptualise the heat build-up in a stickier manner more than this:

Since 1998, our planet has been building up heat at a rate of 4 Hiroshima A-bombs per second.

We released a website with an animated ticker widget to show how much heat our planet is building up each second. The widget, which can be freely embeded on other websites, also includes a number of other metrics such as the amount of energy in hurricane Sandy, an earthquake and a million lightning bolts.

This is intentionally and cynically misleading, since it plays on the ignorance of the general public as to the amounts of energy flowing into and out of the atmosphere. As pointed out in this post, 4 Hiroshima bombs per second is very small compared to the 1000 launched at us by the Sun every second. But your average man in the street wouldn’t know that. They would look at the destruction of Hiroshima and link that with the ‘destruction’ wrought upon the atmosphere.

Cook is then joined by Lew for another defence of the fake Consensus, this time against an attack from their own side. Mike Hulme argues that simply quoting figures (like the 97% fake consensus) has little influence on the political actions that are needed (or not) to deal with the problem (or lack of a problem). Cook and Lew disagree, naturally, since the fake Consensus is their baby:

The data we have just reviewed show otherwise: there is strong evidence that the public’s perception of an overwhelming scientific consensus is key to stimulating the constructive policy debate we should be having.

All of this is wrapped up in cliched comparisons with the tobacco lobby (whereas many do and will continue to die from lung cancer as a result of smoking, the planet is refusing to warm as expected despite increasing CO2 emissions; whereas stopping smoking will reduce your chance of dying from lung cancer, taxing CO2 will make no difference to climate change; etc etc) and the citing of fake data about the funding poured into the denial machine.

In case you haven’t noticed, this is all propaganda. It is about creating a consensus where none exists, in order to fool the public.

But, guys, it ISN’T WORKING. Despite all your desperate attempts to manufacture agreement, the Australian public (and around the world) are even more sceptical of the exaggerated and alarmist claims of extremist environmental groups, Western governments, the UN and the IPCC. The more you try, the worse it gets.

In other words, keep it up!

Group-think described


Group-think rules…

Group-think rules…

Christopher Booker, writing in the UK Telegraph, points to a fascinating extract from a book entitled “The Blunders of our Governments” by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe. The extract in question refers to the work of an American psychology professor in the 1960s, Irving J. Janis, who studied the cultural phenomenon of group-think.

When reading the following paragraphs, keep in the forefront of your mind the following:

  • the ABC (and its ideological twin the BBC);
  • John Cook and Dana Nuccitelli of Skeptical Science;
  • Stephan Lewandowsky and his psychology mates, and
  • the majority of the ‘consensus’ community in climate science

and see how much of it can be applied to them.

Janis became intrigued by a sequence of unfortunate episodes in modern American history that seemed to him to display a number of common characteristics: the Roosevelt administration’s faiure in 1941 to prepare for a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; the Truman administration’s rash decision in late 1950 to invade North Korea; the launching of President John F. Kennedy’s clownish Bay of Pigs expedition in 1961; and Lyndon B. Johnson’s escalation of American involvement in the Vietnam War during the mid-1960s. To that original list, he later added President Richard M. Nixon’s attempt to cover up his own and his henchmen’s complicity in the notorious Watergate break-in of 1972.

According to Janis, whose views are now almost universally accepted, group-think is liable to occur when the members of any face-to-face group feel under pressure to maintain the group’s cohesion or are anyway inclined to want to do that. It is also liable to occur when the group in question feels threatened by an outside group or comes, for whatever reason, to regard one or more outside individuals or groups as alien or hostile. Group-think need not always, but often does, manifest itself in pathological ways. A majority of the group’s members may become intolerant of dissenting voices within the group and find way, subtle or overt, of silencing them. Individual group members may begin to engage in self-censorship, suppressing any doubts they harbour about courses of action that the group seems intent on adopting. Latent disagreements may thus fail to surface, one result being that the members of the group come to believe they are unanimous when in reality they may not be. Meanwhile, the group is likely to become increasingly reluctant to engage with outsiders and to seek out information that might run counter to any emerging consensus. If unwelcome information does happen to come the group’s way, it is likely to be discounted or disregarded. Warning signs are ignored. The group at the same time fails to engage in rigorous reality-testing, with possible alternative courses of action not being realistically appraised.

And the following paragraph could have been written for our friend Professor Lewandowsky:

Group-think is also, in Janis’s view, liable to create “an illusion of invulnerability, shared by most or all the members, which creates excessive optimism and encourages taking extreme risks”. Not least, those indulging in group-think are liable to persuade themselves that the majority of their opponents and critics are, if not actually wicked, then at least stupid, misguided and probably self-interested.

Denial, conspiracy ideation, extreme free-market adherents – add those to the list and we’re done! It continues:

Irving Janis’s own conception of group-think is tightly bounded. It refers only to situations in which members of a face-to-face group feel, consciously or subconsciously, a need to maintain the internal cohesion of the group. It is, in that sense, a purely psychological concept. But of course the notion of group-think can be extended and used more widely to refer to a variety of situations in which there exists such widespread agreement among the members of a group about the desirability of a given course of action that no threats to the group’s internal cohesion ever arise. Because there really are no dissenters in the group, no one in the group ever expresses dissent. There are no nay-sayers. Everyone is agreed. But such situations can be just as dangerous as the ones Janis describes. The decision-making processes associated with unforced agreement may be just as defective as the ones associated with suppressed dissent.

As Booker concludes:

[Janis’s] account of “the illusion of unanimity”, and how group-thinkers regard anyone daring to question their belief-system as an “enemy” to be discredited, superbly characterises the mentality of that small group of “climate scientists” at the heart of driving the warming scare. This was never more clearly brought home than by those Climategate emails, showing how they were ready to fiddle their data to promote what they themselves called “the cause”, and to suppress the views of any scientists they saw as a threat to their illusory “consensus”. We all casually use the term “group-think”, but I had not known how comprehensively Janis explains so much that is puzzling about this world we live in.

Perhaps Cook, Lew, Nuccitelli and the rest of the “consensus” crew should take a good, long, hard look in the mirror now and again, instead of applying pseudo-psychology to their critics.

Curry vs. Cook (with a bit of Flannery)


Flannery finished...

Unrelated but couldn’t resist!

No contest, I’m afraid. Judith Curry writes in The Australian this morning on the skewed nature of the climate consensus:

The IPCC’s consensus-building process relies heavily on expert judgment; if the public and the policymakers no longer trust these particular experts, then we can expect a very different dynamic to be in play with regards to the reception of the AR5 [Fifth Assessment Report, due later this year] relative to the release of the AR4 [Fourth Assessment Report] in 2007.

THERE is another, more vexing dilemma facing the IPCC, however. Since the publication of the AR4, nature has thrown the IPCC a curveball: there has been no significant increase in global average surface temperature for the past 15-plus years. This has been referred to as a pause or hiatus in global warming.

Almost all climate scientists agree on the physics of the infrared emission of the CO2 molecule and understand that if all other things remain equal, more CO2 in the atmosphere will have a warming effect on the planet. Further, almost all agree that the planet has warmed across the past century and that humans have had some impact on the climate.

But understanding the causes of recent climate change and predicting future change is far from a straightforward endeavour.

My chain of reasoning leads me to conclude that the IPCC’s estimates of the sensitivity of climate to greenhouse gas forcing are too high, raising serious questions about the confidence we can place in the IPCC’s attribution of warming in the last quarter of the 20th century primarily to greenhouse gases, and also its projections of future warming. If the IPCC attributes the pause to natural internal variability, then this prompts the question as to what extent the warming between 1975 and 2000 can also be explained by natural internal variability.

Nevertheless, the IPCC concludes in the final AR5 draft of the summary for policymakers: “There is very high confidence that climate models reproduce the observed large-scale patterns and multi-decadal trends in surface temperature, especially since the mid-20th century.”

SCIENTISTS do not need to be consensual to be authoritative. Authority rests in the credibility of the arguments, which must include explicit reflection on uncertainties, ambiguities and areas of ignorance, and more openness for dissent. The role of scientists should not be to develop political will to act by hiding or simplifying the uncertainties, explicitly or implicitly, behind a negotiated consensus. I have recommended that the scientific consensus-seeking process be abandoned in favour of a more traditional review that presents arguments for and against, discusses the uncertainties, and speculates on the known and unknown unknowns. I think such a process would support scientific progress far better and be more useful for policymakers. 

The Editorial takes up the same theme:

The issue of climate change is a significant political, economic and environmental dilemma confronting our nation and the international community. At its heart is science. While we can engage in complex debates about the variety of mechanisms, technologies and practices that can be employed to deal with the issue, none of it makes perfect sense until we grasp the dimensions of the problem. And this is where science is pre-eminent. Yet, thanks largely to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the debate has been centred not on scientific claim and counter-claim — or scientific theory and measurable results — but on what’s referred to as the “scientific consensus”. This is almost an oxymoron; to at least some extent, the two words don’t belong in the same sentence.

John Cook, also writing in The Australian, simply rehashes the same old tired arguments we have seen so many times before, plugging his junk-science ‘97% consensus’ paper to justify his incessant alarmism. At no point is there any acknowledgement from Cook about the problems with the IPCC process, and the unexpected halt in warming, which is becoming too big for even the mainstream media to ignore.

He also oddly fails to disclose his authorship of the climate activist website Skeptical Science (Curry, on the other hand, is open about her blog) – is he embarrassed by its zealotry, perhaps? Cook also claims his “server” was “hacked” and emails were “stolen” last year, when in fact it appears more likely a back door was simply left open at the SkS website, and the files were inadvertently made public. This is a cheap attempt to portray his critics as prepared to engage in unethical or illegal behaviour when in fact it was a self-inflicted wound.

The only positive is that Cook manages to avoid the “D” word for a change. Well done…

UPDATE: The Daily Mail reports that many countries have tried to suppress the inconvenient truth of a warming halt:

Germany called for the references to the slowdown in warming to be deleted, saying looking at a time span of just 10 or 15 years was ‘misleading’ and they should focus on decades or centuries.

Hungary worried the report would provide ammunition for deniers of man-made climate change.

Belgium objected to using 1998 as a starting year for statistics, as it was exceptionally warm and makes the graph look flat – and suggested using 1999 or 2000 instead to give a more upward-pointing curve.

The United States delegation even weighed in, urging the authors of the report to explain away the lack of warming using the ‘leading hypothesis’ among scientists that the lower warming is down to more heat being absorbed by the ocean – which has got hotter.

When the facts don’t fit the political agenda, don’t change the agenda, spin the facts. Shocking.

The 97% Consensus


The climate Consensus isn’t that 97% of climate scientists or papers worship at the altar of the warmist religion, as Cook ‘n’ Lew would have you believe, kind of like the old Whiskas advert (“8 out of 10 owners, that expressed a preference [that proviso added by the lawyers, clearly], said their cats preferred it”), but is in fact…

… that 97% of climate models are wrong. In fact, it’s nearly 100%. Epic fail.

That's the only consensus there is…

That’s the only consensus there is…

How Cook ‘n’ Lew do science


Climate Clowns

Climate Clowns

Here’s a summary of the Scientific Method, according to John Cook & Stephan Lewandowsky:

Step 1: Develop a quasi-religious belief in a particular point of view (e.g. that human-caused emissions are causing dangerous climate change);

Step 2: Convince yourself that you are morally and intellectually superior to those who hold a different view, since your view is naturally “right” and “good”, and the other is “evil” and “bad”;

Step 3: Look for ways to caricature, demean, ostracise and ridicule your ideological opponents whilst at all times avoiding any rational discussion of the subject matter in dispute;

Step 4: Find some suitably catchy phrases, like “deniers are all conspiracy theory fruitcakes who think the Moon landing was faked” or “97% of scientific papers support the ‘consensus’ on global warming“, with which to frame the “research” and portray your opponents as fools;

Step 5: Beat, batter and torture whatever data you get until it fits said phrase;

Step 6: Use said phrase in the title of your paper so that MSM journalists, who never read anything beyond the title anyway, will do all the hard work for you (especially when one of your mates writes part of the story…!);

Step 7: Continue to pretend that the research is “impartial” and of the highest standard, despite the fact that the entire world and his dog is aware of the researchers’ firmly held beliefs and biases. How?  Mainly because they publish them every day on web sites.

Step 8: Sit back and wait for moonbat universities, governments and supposedly learned societies to award you great honours for doing such valuable “research“, and for the grants to flood in.

By the way, that whirring noise in the background is Karl Popper spinning in his grave.

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