The Judith Curry Phenomenon

There’s a big profile of Judith Curry by Michael Lemonick in the November issue of Scientific American that, thankfully, is not behind a paywall. The piece is very well done–it’s actually more a dispassionate examination of what Lemonick calls “the two competing story lines” of the “Judith Curry phenomenon,”

which are, on the surface at least, equally plausible. The first paints Curry as a peacemaker””someone who might be able to restore some civility to the [climate change] debate and edge the public toward meaningful action. By frankly acknowledging mistakes  and encouraging her colleagues to treat skeptics with respect, she hopes to bring about a meeting of the minds.

The alternative version paints her as a dupe””someone whose well-meaning efforts have only poured fuel on the fire. By this account, engaging with the skeptics is pointless because they cannot be won over. They have gone beyond the pale, taking their arguments to the public and distributing e-mails hacked from personal computer accounts rather than trying to work things out at conferences and in journal papers.

The piece goes on to explore whether either (or both) of these story lines have any merit. My modest contributions at this blog are acknowledged by Lemonick:

There is no question Curry has caused a stir; she is frequently cited by some of the harshest skeptics around, including Marc Morano, the former aide to Senator Inhofe and founder of the Climate Depot skeptic blog. It is not just the skeptics: Andrew C. Revkin, the New York Times‘s longtime environment reporter has treated her with great respect on his Dot Earth blog more than once. So has Keith Kloor, who runs the militantly evenhanded Collide-a-Scape blog.

To me, the most interesting parts of the SciAm article come next:

What scientists worry is that such exposure means Curry has the power to do damage to a consensus on climate change that has been building for the past 20 years. They see little point in trying to win over skeptics, even if they could be won over. Says Gavin A. Schmidt, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and proprietor of the RealClimate blog: “Science is not a political campaign. We’re not trying to be everyone’s best friend, kiss everyone’s baby.”

To Curry, the damage comes not from the skeptics’ critiques themselves, most of which are questionable, but from the scientific community’s responses to them””much as deaths from virulent flu come not from the virus but from the immune system’s violent overreaction. Curry remarks that she has been a victim of this herself, spurned by her colleagues for her outreach efforts (although she adds that she has not been damaged professionally and continues to publish). “She’s been hugely criticized by the climate science community,” McIntyre says, “for not maintaining the fatwa [against talking to outsiders].”

Some disinterested commentators agree. One is S. Alexander Haslam, an expert in organizational psychology at the University of Exeter in England. The climate community, he says, is engaging in classic black sheep syndrome: members of a group may be annoyed by public criticism from outsiders, but they reserve their greatest anger for insiders who side with outsiders. By treating Curry as a pariah, Haslam says, scientists are only enhancing her reputation as some kind of renegade who speaks truth to power. Even if she is substantially wrong, it is not in the interests of climate scientists to treat Curry as merely an annoyance or a distraction. “I think her criticisms are damaging,” Haslam says. “But in a way, that’s a consequence of failing to acknowledge that all science has these political dynamics.”

The whole piece is well worth reading, so go have a look and come back with any reactions.

100 Responses to “The Judith Curry Phenomenon”

  1. Jack Hughes says:

    Thanks for  the SciAm link, Keith.
     
    It reads like a religious believer wh knows there is a god and is puzzled that anyone could even question this fact – let alone discuss her concerns in public.

  2. Keith Kloor says:

    Well, that’s not how I read it. But I’ll be interested to hear other reactions.

     

  3. AGW gnosticism. Not exactly new, but interesting to see it borne out so explicitly.

  4. Judith Curry says:

    Hi Keith et al., if you want to see heresy in action (it used to be called science), stop by at my blog Climate Etc.

  5. Jack Hughes says:

    Keith, the author (Lemonick) leaves plenty of clues about where he sits…
    “edge the public toward meaningful action.”
     
    “[it] would not matter much if the field of science in question was cosmology, say, or paleontology, or some other area without any actual impact on people’s lives”

    “…Curry has the power to do damage to a consensus on climate change that has been building for the past 20 years.”

  6. Jack Hughes says:

    Love this bit…
    scientific uncertainty is not the same thing as ignorance, but rather it is a discipline for quantifying what is unknown.”
    So nobody knows if some effect is positive or negative or even if the effect exists at all in real life. “Ignorance” is a great word for this state of affairs.

     

  7. Tom Fuller says:

    The article isn’t bad–but you don’t come across as ‘militant.’ Well, maybe to a few…
     
    It is however, an example of fence-sitting journalism at its highest, putting out the two views of Dr. Curry and not taking a stand or showing what would be needed to justify or falsify either view.
     
    Pretty cautious, I’d say.

  8. kdk33 says:

    Pretty much puts the lie to science in climate science.

    Consensus has no place – is, in fact, meaningless – in science. Curry can only damage a political concept, consensus.  People are free to engage in politics, but ought not call it science.

    Government funded climate science concludes we need more government to fund more climate science.  Curry threatens the gravy train.

    ps.  who funds Gavin?

  9. Jonathan says:

    If I may misquote Tertullian: See how these Climatologists hate one another.  Quite why they think expressing such bile is a smart move is a total mystery to me.

  10. laursaurus says:

    The article isn’t bad”“but you don’t come across as “˜militant.’ Well, maybe to a few”¦
    “Militant” struck me as an odd description, too, Tom.
    Lately I’ve noticed that “trying to be moderate” or “balanced” draws more criticism than being one-sided or biased. Case-in-point, the article which is the subject of this thread. It seems counter-intuitive for a middle-of-the-road opinion to be controversial.
    I’ve noticed that most presidents inevitably become fairly moderate as they get several years into their term. That’s why their approval rating goes into the toilet. The partisan voters who toe the opposing party line will disapprove regardless. Meanwhile, the die-hard members of his own party will feel let down because they see him as playing to the opposition. GW supported TARP and Medi-Care prescription coverage, pissing off the more conservative Republicans. McCain was even too moderate. Disenfranchised conservatives have now formed the Tea Party Movement.
    OTOH, Obama is failing to end the wars, close GITMO, end enhanced interrogation”, and stop warrant-less wiretapping.  You know, all the stuff liberals hated about the Bush administration. I personally was not thrilled that Obama won the election. But I saw how miserable the Bush-haters were for a very long 8 years. So I decided to try to like something about the man. When he makes a good decision, I try to focus on the positive. Leaving comments on political blogs really helped, too. LOL
    My day-to-day mood tends to improve when I aim for a more moderate attitude toward current events. I enjoy following blogs by people like Keith, JC, Andy R, etc.
    I read the full article, which surprisingly managed to be fairly balanced. There was a lot of information that was new to me. Thanks for the thread!

  11. Ed Forbes says:

    As time goes on, JC is moving closer to the “Dark Side of the Force”

    .
    JC answers some questions on her views.

    .
    http://judithcurry.com/2010/10/21/open-thread-state-of-the-blog-2/#comments

    curryia| October 23, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Reply
    David, the answer to #4 is simple: yes (regarding serious, well that is a value judgment). Re #5 scienceofdoom has an extensive discussion on Venus. Regarding #1, I will state yes (without elaboration). Regarding #2, people are investigating these issues, I have no particular insight into this situation, but I am finding it increasingly difficult to trust the existing analyzed surface temperature data sets.
    I have trimmed the questions to what looked to me as the basic point

    .
    1)       Is the methodology that produced the hockey stick graph fundamentally flawed from a statistical point of view?

    .
    2)      6000 weather stations in 1990, but that now only about 1000 are used, and the remaining 5000 values are generated by extrapolation and then used to compute the global averages! This would seem to be a very unreliable way to determine average global temperature

    .
    3)      the raw temperature data is subject to corrections that seem to increase with time ““ even though measuring stations might be expected to be subject to an increasing urban heat island effect over time and thus require a negative adjustment.

    .
    4)      the temperature response to a rise in CO2 would be logarithmic

    .
    5)      if you measure the temperature in Venus’ atmosphere at the height were the pressure is 1 earth atmosphere, the result is only modestly higher than earth

  12. Gavin says:

    Jon Stewart on the phenomenon
    (36:15)
    “It’s a wonderful game that everybody’s playing in that they’ve misconstrued criticism as persecution and they’ve created a great little trap that any criticism of them, however valid, is further proof of the plot that is out to get them and how persecuted they are.”
     
     

  13. Gavin says:

    Try this link instead.

  14. Judith Curry says:

    Gavin, what is the context for this statement on persecution?  My criticism of the IPCC as sensed by the IPCC as persecution?  Nobody and certainly not myself is claiming that I am persecuted or there is a plot that is out to get me.

  15. Gavin says:

    If we had a penny for every time someone who was criticised claimed they were being attacked for their ‘heresy’ against the ‘establishment’ we’d have enough money to support all the R&D on clean energy one could wish for. Sometimes people are just criticised because they said something that was wrong.

  16. grypo says:

    This reminds me a bit of the small publishing business in fiction where each genre has a cadre of individuals who are unable to break into professional publishing and therefore blame an even smaller cadre of writers/editors for their failures.
    There are also people Judith, who belong to the professionals, but at the same time, give credence to the Illuminati-fearing fishies who continuously try to cast doubt on the quality of fiction coming out from the pros.  The same hysterical, hypocritical symptoms are present, like whining about not getting treated “fairly” while at the same time screaming the establishment is too “political”!

  17. Tom Fuller says:

    Gavin, the way you operate your website is part of the problem in microcosm. (Your blog, your rules, yada yada yada). You don’t post relevant responses. You delay some that you do post. You put your responses in the comments, instead of afterwards, as would be courteous.
     
    You’re part of the climate establishment. Why would we believe you behave differently away from your blog than you do on it?

  18. Judith Curry says:

    Gavin, now I get it.  You think I claim I am being attacked. Hardly!  I think the meme that Curry has been duped and brainwashed is absolutely hysterical.  If the IPCC “in crowd” wants to attack me, I couldn’t care less.  I am paying much less attention to all this than Mr. Lemonick.
    If you think I am saying something that is wrong, come over to Climate Etc. and I would be happy to hash it out.

  19. Tom Fuller says:

    I told Judith to say that–telepathically, after forcing her to listen to the Archies sing Sugar, Sugar 1,000 times.
     
    It worked.

  20. David44 says:

    Two things:
     
    1) The title of the article is unfortunate, meant to titillate*, and one of the things I hate most about journalists and editors.
     
    2. “Gavin A. Schmidt, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and proprietor of the RealClimate blog: “Science is not a political campaign.”
     
    How disingenuous, that’s the problem; science should not be a political campaign, but climate science patently is.  At least that’s the public perception.  Certainly it’s my perception that advocates for a political cause have taken over what should be an open, transparent, and neutral search for objective scientific truth.  Data, conclusions, and public statements appear to be nudged or fudged or statistically manipulated and adjusted so as to support the preconceived paradigm of climate catastrophe.
    Professor Curry, at considerable cost in time and effort, is wisely and courageously attempting to correct that perception.  She already has more credibility with the science-educated public than some of her outspoken advocate colleagues can ever hope to have.  I salute her.  I thank her.  I want to know the truth whatever it turns out to be.
     
    * Per thefreedictionary [one must be careful to cite sources these days, no matter how mundane, so as not to be Bradley-ized] : ‘To excite another, especially in a superficial, pleasurable manner: “Once you decide to titillate instead of illuminate . . . you create a climate of expectation that requires a higher and higher level of intensity” (Bill Moyers).’

  21. Keith Kloor says:

    Just catching up with everyone’s comments, as I spent the day out under the sky and offline.

    A couple of things: yes, I thought the headline was meant to grab eyeballs and did not reflect the thrust of the story. As a former editor, though, I get why this is done.

    Secondly, I confess to being slightly puzzled by the “militantly” tag. I can assure everyone that the only thing I am militant about is when the refs make all the wrong calls against my NY Giants on Sundays. 🙂 That is also about the only time that the rabid partisan in me reveals itself unabashedly.

    I just read the article again more carefully and come to the same conclusion I did this morning–that the author was pretty evenhanded himself.

  22. JimR says:

    Sometimes people are just criticised because they said something that was wrong.
    Uh, but wouldn’t that involve criticizing the issues and not innuendo of false claims of persecution and other such fallacies? It is this type of behavior that breeds skepticism.

  23. Alex Harvey says:

    Keith #21,
    I think it’s fair to say that the author is ‘even handed’, if that is to be understood as ‘fair’. But does he actually have a clue what is going on in the climate change debate, or understand what is really motivating Judith Curry?
    To me, a lowly layperson with, I daresay, more understanding of the debate than this journalist, he seems to be several steps removed from the debate and merely reporting on things people are saying without any actual understanding of why they’re saying them.
    He says, “it is important to emphasize that nothing [Curry] encountered led her to question the science; she still has no doubt that the planet is warming, that human-generated greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, are in large part to blame, or that the plausible worst-case scenario could be catastrophic.”
    If that’s true, then what on earth are Judith’s very interesting recent posts about the IPCC’s overconfidence in detection and attribution?
    Yes, he’s trying to be fair. But I think much of the article is just stuff he’s just made up off the top of his head.
    Best, Alex

  24. Ya gotta laugh, ain’t ya? By far the most frequent claim of “persecution” orated in the entire climate debate, at any point, has been from climatologists in the face of an occasional lawful FoI request. Gavin, you should try stand-up.

  25. SteveGinIL says:

    <blockquote>””¦Curry has the power to do damage to a consensus on climate change that has been building for the past 20 years.”</blockquote>
    This is worded as if the consensus has gradually been building over all that time.  Actually, the consensus was unilaterally declared with the formation of the IPCC in 1988 and has been repeatedly been declared ever since.
    As to whether such a consensus really exists, no vote has ever been taken.  As far as I can tell it is as if one of our political parties asked their members if any of them agreed with their party’s platform, then without also polling the other party, they went to the press and stated, “Everyone agrees with us.”
    But declaring a consensus does not make it so.
    Not in 1988, nor in 2010, nor gradually building up between the two.
    One important point to this is that in stating it the way he did, he is clearly suggesting that the consensus has been convincing more and more scientists along the way.  With the number who’ve bailed from the IPCC, along with Judith and some of the science writers out there, one could argue they have actually been losing adherents, not gaining them.
    What really was happening since 1988 was that the consensus had the podium all to itself, and with the passage of time that gave the impression that the consensus was getting stronger.
    Climategate seems to have reversed not only that impression but also the reality.  If one is to go by science writers that surely seems the case, since there are more out there voicing the uncertainty that Judith has been drawing attention to.
    So, as to consensus “building,” no.  That was not the trend, even before Nov 2009, and it certainly didn’t begin to reverse itself because of Judith.  Let’s give her credit for realizing she wasn’t necessarily thinking with her own mind for awhile, that group think carried her for awhile, but no longer does.
    I like Judith’s comment here (11:01 am): <blockquote>…heresy in action, (it used to be called science)</blockquote>
    Perhaps Galileo is not turning over in his grave anymore.
    Or the Emily Dicksinson poem:
    <blockquote>Think as I think,
    Or you are a fool.
    I am therefore a fool.</blockquote>

  26. thingsbreak says:

    Like a fiddle, Keith.
     
    @JC:
    If you think I am saying something that is wrong, come over to Climate Etc. and I would be happy to hash it out.
     
    Is this a new policy? The last few times I tried to “hash anything out” over there,you couldn’t be bothered at the time to back your claims up and got incredibly testy for the asking.
     
    Gavin, now I get it.  You think I claim I am being attacked. Hardly!

     
    Right? I mean, if you thought you were being attacked, you would make dark references to people trying to sabotage your career for having the temerity to monger doubt Speak Truth to Power.
     
    And no one could possibly claim you do that:
     
    I am too senior and sufficiently well established in my position that I don’t need any credibility from my peers.  So, my peers won’t elect me to the National Academy of Science or whatever?  Big deal, seems like that is about the worst they can do to me.  Clobber me in peer review?  So what, I can get funding from the private sector and publish on the blogs.  So I won’t easily be intimidated by my peers, or anyone else for that matter.   See, the reactions of the “warmists” to my activities have created a monster
     
    I have no idea why on Earth anyone would think that you believe you’re being attacked. I mean talk about paranoia, amiritie?
     
     

  27. SteveGinIL says:

    #12 – “Jon Stewart on the phenomenon

    It’s a wonderful game that everybody’s playing in that they’ve misconstrued criticism as persecution and they’ve created a great little trap that any criticism of them, however valid, is further proof of the plot that is out to get them and how persecuted they are.“
    I just listened to that interview with Jon Stewart.
    Pardon me, Gavin, but are you lining yourself up with CNBC and CNN (and perhaps even FOX)?  Or are you somehow inferring that the skeptics are feeling put upon??? (which makes no sense, because none of the skeptical bloggers seems to be crying foul…)
    The only ones in the climate discussion crying “Persecution!” are folks resisting FOI requests.  Which is why I ask.  It seems like FOX and CNBC would be the last people you would liken yourself to.

  28. Tom Fuller says:

    thingsbreak, you have acquired the same uncanny ability to be both totally wrong and unsufferable that characterize your partners in slime. Gee, when Judith speaks about the worst possible impacts that could hypothetically could befall someone who speaks out, of course that means she’s claiming she’s been attacked.
     
    Context? We don’t need no stinking context.

  29. thingsbreak says: “I have no idea why on Earth anyone would think that you believe you’re being attacked. I mean talk about paranoia, amiritie?”
    As Tom’s already pointed out, Judy’s calm listing of  hypothetical consequences doesn’t sit well with the word paranoia for most of us. But there’s another factor, illustrated by the reaction of the Guardian’s Damian Carrington after he met Steve McIntyre for the first time in July:
    “It was hard to reconcile the much-demonised McIntyre with the open and avuncular Canadian on the stage.”
    Carrington, the journalist who introduced the now notorious ‘No Pressure’ video to the world earlier this month, is nobody’s climate sceptic. So why would he use the term ‘much-demonised’ of McIntyre, then contrast the behaviour of the man in person?
    Because McIntyre has been demonised, perhaps? Demonised in a way calculated to prevent people taking his arguments seriously, without actually having to look at his arguments? Perhaps Judith Curry had noticed this. Perhaps she’d seen that it was a habit of the IPCC “in crowd” as she calls it, whenever it detects valid criticism.
    Paranoia? Clear thinking more like. And courage. Put those two together and what do you get? Victory. Transformation. The restoration of public trust in science.
    Not saying the Georgia professor’s doing anything important or anything.

  30. Huge Difference says:

    The transcript of the Gross/Stewart interview is here:
    http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=130704771
     
    Stewart is talking about how politics and finance is discussed by journalists and played out on tv, and from my layman’s point of view, Gavin’s excerpt seems much more applicable to Gavin and Michael and Phil than to Judith.  But I do agree that it might be applied to the scaremongerers as well as to the cautionary principlists.
     

    GROSS: Are we done?
    Mr. STEWART: It’s fair to argue everything. I disagree. You know, I think it matters in this world what you label yourself and how you conduct yourself, and that was my argument CNBC and Jim Cramer. You can’t label yourself as, you know, more trusted than God on financial and then deliver what you deliver. I do think there’s a difference between the responsibility that journalists have and the responsibility that I have. But like I say, if things are out of context, we will correct them. We are not trying to manipulate things to the point where they lose their intent and meaning, and that’s just the way we operate. Now – but, there is this false idea that we have to be fair, that there has to be a fairness in what we do. If you – you have to find equivalents on each side and all that.
    It’s a wonderful game every body is playing, in that they have misconstrued criticism as persecution. And they have created a great little trap, that any criticism of them, however valid, is further proof of the plot that is out to get them and how persecuted they are. And it allows you to escape any of your own sense of think… You know, what we were arguing on, I don’t even care about civil discourse. I don’t mind people yelling as long as it’s authentic. But what it felt like to me, is it was gamed. “Crossfire” felt like to kabuki, it didn’t feel, I wasn’t arguing that you shouldn’t have people who disagree on. But, I was arguing that there should be some moral authority in the room, earned or otherwise, that has to be able to say okay, there is a difference between you don’t believe that gay people should be able to get married and lying about statistics when it comes to what happens to gay families and children. There’s a big difference in that.

  31. Huge Difference says:

    There are parallels between Judith Curry and her treatment by the government funded responsible grown up warmist crowd and Juan Williams and NPR.  Apostates must be punished. The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.

  32. Pascvaks says:

    Anyone who dares to be ‘different’ gets hammered down.

  33. kdk33 says:

    Gavin is a positive feedback mechanisms – taxpayer dollars advocating for more taxes.

    From Gavin’s perspective, climate sensitivity is very  high.  No climate crises, no RealClimate, no Gavin. 

    I’m thinking…  well funded disinformation campaign.

  34. Pascvaks says:

    Asked and Answered: Why would $cientificAmerican publish such a $tory?  ((Perhaps the wind is picking up, swirling about, and starting to change direction and the folks at $ciAm are just trying to adjust to the market forces and get more subsctiptions.))

  35. Erik says:

    Gavins tag on Dr. Curry at RC
    “¢ climate tripe “¢ generic stupidity
    Hm……
     

  36. Judith Curry says:

    26 Thingsbreak.   You showed up at Climate Etc. with some snarky comments at a time when I was new to blog moderating and was receiving over 300 comments per day. In spite of that, I believe i replied to each of your comments. If you have any comments to make or questions to ask, by all means stop by the blog and I will accommodate your questions and points to the extent that I can given the many other comments that I have to respond to, preparing new blog posts, not to mention my day job (and my attempts to have some sort of a life in addition to work and blogging).
     
    The statement of mine that you refer to over at climate audit was in response to not so subtle hints that my peers won’t like what I’m saying.  My statement was to let them know that there was nothing that they could do to intimidate me, so give it up.
     
    I am not aware of any attempts to intimidate me  by my peers, other than from the RC crowd and a few others, which like I said, I find hysterically funny.

  37. Judith Curry says:

    oops typo in previous message  “you refer to over at climate audit” should be “you refer to over at realclimate”

  38. Gavin says:

    Oh please. No-one has tried to ‘intimidate’ you and I challenge you to find any such instance at RC. I and others have pointed out multiple times where you have made assertions that were not true and thrown accusations of malfeasance around with no evidence or specifics that anyone could track down or rebut. Defining this as ‘intimidation’ does extreme violence to the dictionary definition.

    Your insistence that factual challenges to your comments are ‘intimidation’ are exactly what I was referring to above with the Jon Stewart quote. If you think that because people don’t see eye to eye with you and say so, that you are being ‘intimidated’, you are going to fall into the ‘epistemic closure’ so recently decried in a much wider context.

    This is not hilarious, just sad.

  39. Tom Fuller says:

    What is equal parts hilarious and sad is to hear pieties coming from the blogmaster at a site that routinely practices censorship, intimidation and the fine art of sliming by proxy, letting your pet commenters serve as attack dogs while preserving your own plausible deniability. ‘Why, I never said any such thing! I just passed through the comments of idiots while censoring comments that I disagree with…’
     
    You’r a real saint, Gavin.

  40. Judith Curry says:

    Gavin, get over it. Your “mean girls” routine over at RC (not to mention emails I’ve been sent) is incomprehensible and funny, but ultimately sad.  Your attempts to try to discredit me based on a few drive by comments on a blog is also funny (and futile).  I have never insisted that this is “intimidation.”  It is the behavior of “mean girls.

  41. Judith Curry says:

    Unlike other people that i can think of, i don’t whine when I am getting attacked criticized or claim that they are in the pay of big oil or the enviro advocacy groups or whatever.  I flat out don’t care; my feelings aren’t hurt, I don’t feel like my professional status is being jeopardized or challenged or whatever.  I flat out don’t care at this point.  If someone has a serious or substantive criticism, they email me, and we talk about it, and now I talk about such issues at my blog.   The fact that I don’t care about the things said about me in the blogosophere or to a reporter is because it is just so much noise.   I learned this after about 4 months of media and blogospheric craziness during the hurricane wars.

    Its a far healthier attitude about criticism than the one I saw portrayed in the CRU emails.
    The intimidation shoe is one that really doesn’t fit as far as I’m concerned.

  42. Judith Curry says:

    “you have made assertions that were not true and thrown accusations of malfeasance around with no evidence or specifics that anyone could track down or rebut.”

    Which assertions?  Read Montford’s book?  Exactly what evidence is needed to support such a statement? Assertions about neglecting uncertainty or about sloppy work by the IPCC in detection and attribution?  Well each of these assertions are now accompanied by a 2000+ word essay over at Climate Etc., with more to come.

    And prior to starting my own blog, exactly where was I supposed to discuss these issues?  Obviously not RC, where my name wasn’t mentioned for almost 6 months after 11/19.  People at climateaudit were plenty interested in discussing the issues I raised, perhaps you missed the discussions there.

  43. Gavin says:

    You spend a lot of time decrying tone, and wondering why people can’t just discuss science without all the distractions and personal stuff. And yet as your last post #40 shows, you are quick to stoop to name calling instead of dealing with issues.
     
    A great example of how you are not helping anything, is your last post at Climate Etc. which purportedly wanted to set up a sensible discussion of the Makarieva paper. But your throwing in of irrelevant snark at RC derailed the whole thing from the outset. And even more ironic is that people (including me) had actually been having a sensible snark-free discussion at the Air Vent. But isn’t it so much easier just to stick with the ‘outsiders being repressed by the mean climate establishment’ meme? This might indeed be helpful to building up your stock of righteous indignation, but don’t confuse it with either science or elevating discussions.

  44. Tom Fuller says:

    Gavin, you’re just an insider trying to protect his privileged position. All of the things you insist you are not doing to Dr. Curry are in fact the things you do to everybody else. Why are we to believe that you will treat Dr. Curry differently?
     
    Many reading this here have been recipients of just the type of behaviour you are insisting that you do not engage in, including me. As for Dr. Curry’s comment ‘derailing’ the discussion of Makarieva, it has 78 comments and a substantive discussion of the issues going on right now.
     
    How is that in any way derailed?

  45. Steve Bloom says:

    Well, Judy does seem to be in a distinctly minority position.  AFAICT it seems to be based on her conclusion that climate sensitivity is on the low side and that therefore nothing too terrible is likely to happen on the current emissions trajectory.  The problem is that Judy doesn’t really have expertise on the sensitivity issue, and stands in disagreement with the people who do. 

    This point was underlined to me a while back (on this blog) when I asked for her response to what is (IMHO) the strongest case for (relatively) high sensitivity, the recently-developed detailed knowledge about the state of the climate during the warm periods of the Pliocene and Miocene when it had had time to equilibriate to CO2 levels approximately equal to the current one.  She responded by referring me to Knutti & Hegerl (2008), which she claimed contradicted the paleo case.  Well, I double-checked and it didn’t, nor has subsequent work.  Quite to the contrary, the case keeps getting stronger and stronger in the other direction.    

    This is perhaps understandable behavior since I’m sure Judy bases it on her physicial intuition about climate, but since it’s contradicted by the literature it’s not respectable scientifically.  (See Dick Lindzen and Bill Gray for variations on this theme.)  If she’s going to flog her views in public, a certain amount of derision is inevitable.  She can call it “mean girl” behavior if she likes, but that avoids the central issue.  Just a few years she acted the “mean girl” to Bill Gray, but that was because his hand-waving had gone entirely off the deep end (although I must say Judy’s recent vague invokings of oceanic oscillations are more than a little reminiscent of Gray’s views).

  46. Keith Kloor says:

    Tom Fuller,

    You’ve had your say a few times now on this thread. I’ve asked you and others before to refrain from using my blog as a proxy for personal complaints against another site.

  47. Tom Fuller says:

    Keith, I will try to defer to your wishes here (or face the consequences, obviously), but I’m talking about Gavin Schmidt and what he’s writing here, not Real Climate, which I use as reference the way he uses Jon Stewart.
     
    I don’t know what is in his heart or mind, but I find his behaviour to be very much of the type found in bullies on the school playground.
     
    He attributes comments others have made in defense of Dr. Curry to Dr. Curry herself, snarks at it, then criticizes her for snarking at her own blog.
     
    He distances himself from truly insulting commentary by pulling a convenient quote from a comedian, not once, but twice. Bah. I’ll leave this thread for the rest of you with my honest opinion.
     
    I have no idea of what is in Schmidt’s heart or mind, and frankly I don’t care. His behaviour is that of a schoolyard bully.

  48. Jack Hughes says:

    At one time I believed this stuff – but I was puzzled about some details. I was told that “RealClimate” was a good place for the facts – straight from the horses mouth. I looked at many posts over several days and came away thinking “these guys know their stuff but why are the so unpleasant – nasty even?”


    Now I know the truth – it’s a PR site set-up by a PR company (Fenton Communications) with a PR mission.
     
    This is the only equation you need in climate science:
     
    RC = PR

  49. Jack Hughes says:

    One of the questions that started me on the  road to skepticism was:
     
    Why are the “solutions” so modest ? They seemed to be of the wrong order of magnitude. The planet going down the gurgler, and the answer …………. fit new light bulbs.

  50. willard says:

    > How is that in any way derailed?
     
    Follow this conversation:
     
    http://judithcurry.com/2010/10/23/water-vapor-mischief/#comment-5006
     
    Saying that we’re entitled to our own “interpretation” might now be interpreted as a very responsive response.

  51. Huge Difference says:

    “What scientists worry is that such exposure means Curry has the power to do damage to a consensus on climate change that has been building for the past 20 years. They see little point in trying to win over skeptics, even if they could be won over. Says Gavin A. Schmidt, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and proprietor of the RealClimate blog: “Science is not a political campaign. We’re not trying to be everyone’s best friend, kiss everyone’s baby.””

    Consider what this paragraph says in light of the various (conflicting) theories of Popper, Kuhn, and Feyerabend.

    It might be read that climate scientists like Schmidt are performing their historical role in a paradigm that will be overturned.  Or performing their historical role by forcing consensus using non-scientific mechanisms including bullying.

    I have tremendous respect and admiration for NASA and what NASA has accomplished, but I can’t help but read Schmidt’s statement and think that of course the most well connected, highly funded (??) organization, has little interesting in persuading the public or politicians through mechanisms other than bullying, ad hominem attack, and appeals to authority.  But at the risk of annoying you Keith, it’s hardly a believable statement given the bullying we’ve witnessed in the emails and Schmidt’s (and Romm’s et. al.,) behavior in the blogs.

  52. Huge Difference says:

    (Hey Keith, why do all of my comments require moderation?)

  53. Francis says:

    Dr. Curry:  In your very first post on this thread, you wrote:  “heresy in action (it used to be called science), stop by at my blog”.

    On what basis do you claim the mantle of heretic?  Were you being sarcastic, or do you actually feel cast out of the climate science “orthodoxy”?  How have you been cast out — are your papers unpublished, your grants revoked, your students unemployable?

    I note you have written at your blog and elsewhere that you disagree with the degree of certainty claimed in the IPCC reports in various predictions.  Despite reading your blog, I fail to understand your claim.  More generally, how should an independent observer such as myself determine that you — a self-proclaimed lonely voice crying out in the desert — are correct while the other scientists whose analyses became part of the IPCC reports are wrong?

  54. Eli Rabett says:

    jack hughes asks a good question, and the answer is a few percent here, a few percent there and you are better off.  There is no majical collusion.

  55. intrepid_wanders says:

    “Gavin said @ The Air Vent

    October 20, 2010 at 11:58 am
    This is probably unwise, but here goes.”
     
    I have to give a whole hearted nod to Gavin for engaging in this discussion.  It is condescending and snobbish, but Gavin is a quite the intellectual type.  Gavin does need to understand that the continuous defensive tone is by far more “irritating” than any “decrying tone”.  Until Gavin figures out that not all of the people that do not agree with his giant intellect (ie ego) are not idiots, there will not be a “Gavin Phenomenon”.
     
    Judith seems to have a curiosity in observing and classifying anything that comes her way (I think that was the way scientist used to operate), and sometimes runs into things that are not copacetic.  She make mention of it and the insiders start grumbling.  I find her “mean girls” classification of the RC types concise and to the point.
     
    In summary, if one were to “bump into” one or the other in a coffee shop, my money is on Judith to be the one holding any interesting conversation with the lay peoples.  Gavin will be hanging out in the corner with the “mean girls” (I could possibly be one of them, being a computer geek).

  56. BTW says:

    #44 Tom Fuller Says:

    “As for Dr. Curry’s comment “˜derailing’ the discussion of Makarieva, it has 78 comments and a substantive discussion of the issues going on right now.

    How is that in any way derailed?”

    Tom – why don’t you ask Dr. Curry:

    “Well, it seems the discussion is being sidetracked by the comments i pulled from the RC thread, which is unfortunate.”

    http://judithcurry.com/2010/10/23/water-vapor-mischief/#comment-5094

    It would appear that Dr. Curry agrees with Gavin on this point and removed the comments from RC.

  57. Judith Curry says:

    Francis, the heretic label was provided by the author of the Sci Am article.  The point of my blog is to assess arguments and science related to climate, right now we are focusing on the IPCC.  I’m do not expect anyone to accept what I say based on faith or trust, but to consider my arguments.

  58. Judith didn’t threaten to derail the water vapour thread, people like myself and Michael did. Judith called a halt and we halted (some of us sooner than others).
     
    The comment in the head post in reference to TTTM’s interaction with Gavin at RC was satirical and amusing, but blaming Judith for my comments, or similar from others, is silly.

  59. Shub says:

    <…”Its a far healthier attitude about criticism than the one I saw portrayed in the CRU emails.”…>
    There is .no.comeback for that, is there?
     
    Francis:

    “self-proclaimed lonely voice crying out in the desert”
    There are perhaps many more in the desert, only they are not crying out.
     
    For example, Julia Slingo, in her interview with Roger Harrabin made a comment which was revealing. She said something to the effect that scientists find themselves in a strange position – they don’t want to be the one ruling out bad outcomes, nor can they simply declare everything hunky-dory for the fear of ‘providing fodder to the wrong voices’.
     
    Anyone who understands the society and media we live in, knows that we continue in ‘risk society’ – where fears of repercussions provide motive and momentum to action, rather than rational discourse. I wholly sympathize with scientists who are in the unenviable position of providing advice to lop-sided organizations like the IPCC.

  60. mobk says:

    Climate etc could be good, but so far it has become a luke-warmist echo chamber. Those who would like to and could engage and debate with Dr Curry on the substance of her posts seem to have mostly been put off by her vagueness, her sometimes refusal to engage on facts and her innuendo of ‘corruption of climate science’.

    PS Did either GS or MM dump JC back in high school? Perhaps that would explain the sniping back and forth?

  61. cagw_skeptic99 says:

    mobk
    Dr. Curry’s blog is open to those who actually have something to say.  What you call vagueness is what I would call reasoned responses.  If you have facts, why don’t you present them?

  62. AMac says:

    I thought profiler Michael Lemonick’s most revealing comment was on Page 1 of his SciAm profile:
    — begin quote —
    “Which of these stories is more accurate would not matter much if the field of science in question was cosmology, say, or paleontology, or some other area without any actual impact on people’s lives. Climate science obviously is not like that. The experts broadly agree that it will take massive changes in agriculture, energy production, and more to avert a potential disaster.
    In this context, figuring out how to shape the public debate is a matter of survival. If people and governments are going to take serious action, it pretty much has to be now, because any delay will make efforts to stave off major climate change much more expensive and difficult to achieve.”
    — end quote —

    Lemonick’s reasoning will be quite familiar to regular readers of C-a-s, Climate Etc., and Only In It For the Gold.  Proponents of the AGW Consensus will pause to think, “Of Course!”  Skeptics will shout “Full Stop!”

    It rears its head again:  urgent policy demands drive the science.

    Drug pivotal clinical trials — No.
    Structural engineering — No.
    Commercial jetliner development — No.
    Climate science, yes.

    Is this exceptionalism warranted?  If the performance of the specialist-experts has earned your trust and faith, you probably find that it is.

    If you think that the Consensus specialist-experts have a mixed record, or if you are by nature a cautious person, you probably disagree with Mr. Lemonick.

    Who doesn’t seem to realize that this quote represents a fundamental point of contention.

  63. Piers Corbyn says:

    There is also related discussion on Climate Realists: http://climaterealists.com/?id=6519
    Thanks

  64. charles says:

    Francis, why do you misrepresent JC’s position?

    She is in no way a ‘self-proclaimed lonely voice’. It is quite obvious that her ‘heresy’ comment was ironically quoting the title of the SciAm piece.  Read JC’s blog, and also Roger Pielke sr’s latest blog post, where he points out the reporter’s error in trying to paint JC in this way.
     

  65. Pascvaks says:

    “What scientists worry is that such exposure means Curry has the power to do damage to a consensus on climate change that has been building for the past 20 years.”

    Really NOT sure at all who these ‘scientists’ are that are worrying sooooo much.  Very inclined to think that they are NOT the people that most people think of as ‘scientists’.  What’s to worry about?  If she’s right history will reflect the fact (one day); if she’s NOT right, she’ll likely end up working as a Greeter at WalMart within the next 10 years.

    No!  The author has his own point to make and he’s so typically ‘Manhattan’ about how he makes it.  What’s the value in the article?  It says less about JC than it does about AGW and $ciAm.  One is no longer nor ever more “science in cement” and the other is in need of cash paying readers and is ‘bending’.  No doubt $ciAm will have more to say about JC in future, and AGW. 

    PS:  Many old ‘distinguished’ scientists are being left in the ‘dust’ in the current e-Turmoil. 

  66. Keith Kloor says:

    Alex (60):

    RPJ was commenting on Lemonick’s blog post, not his actual Scientific American article. Lemonick apparently felt obligated to explain why he would write about Curry, perhaps feeling the hot breath of some Curry’s critics.

    Roger writes that, “Lemonick makes clear in his blog post that he doesn’t think much of Curry’s views and that he sides with her critics.” I’m not sure the first part of that is fair, but in any case, hence Roger’s characterization of Lemonick’s post as an “apologia.”

  67. Pascvaks says:

    Clarification (of sorts) – Ref JC:
    In my last, I said “If she’s right history will reflect the fact (one day); if she’s NOT right, she’ll likely end up working as a Greeter at WalMart within the next 10 years.”

    I would think that the way ‘science’ is going these days that JC could also ‘be right’ and still end up working at WalMart in 10 years.  The fickle finger of fate is a wicked little thing.  Who would have thunk that ever the day would come when some meat head would say “the science is settled” and someone would actually believe them?   Life isn’t either/or, it’s maybe. 

  68. AMac says:

    Clarification:
    After Alex Harvey (#60) and other commenters —

    Roger Pielke Senior wrote “Misleading Text In A Scientific American Article That Judy Curry Is A ‘Climate Heretic'” on 10/24/10.

    Roger Pielke Junior wrote “What Little Has Been Learned” on the same day.

  69. AMac says:

    Michael Lemonick’s blogged “Why I Wrote About Judith Curry” on 10/24/10, apparently as a pre-emptive defense to charges of disloyalty.  The post’s section “Is it Irresponsible to Discuss Curry’s Views?” begins with:

    “What I found out is that when [Curry] does raise valid points, they’re often points the climate-science community already agrees with “” and many climate scientists are scratching their heads at the implication that she’s uncovered some dark secret.” [sic: “the implication” — whose?]

    Having read climate scientists’ comments on this and other C-a-s threads, as well as their remarks at other blogs — I am not clear on what Lemonick means by “they’re often points the climate-science community already agrees with.”  My guess is that Lemonick doesn’t know what he meant.

    Lemonick could be describing a trivial tautology:  the Pro-AGW Consensus community agrees with those points that they already view as valid, notwithstanding that Curry raises them.  (“CO2 is a greenhouse gas.” “The Earth has warmed about 1C in the past century.”)

    Can we assign homework to Judy and Gavin?

    “Make a short list of the most contentious climate-science issues on which you and Gavin/Judy are in broad agreement.  Now make a second list of the most contentious issues about which you differ.”
    I do not think this assignment would vindicate Lemonick’s trivializing of Curry’s views.

  70. Keith Kloor says:

    AMac (70):

    It could preemptive or it could be in response to criticism he was already receiving. Either way, I do find it a bit odd that he feels the need to justify the story. Unfortunately, I think it will have the effect of coloring perceptions of his piece, which should be debated on its own merits, not on what his personal take is on the criticisms lobbed against Curry.

    That’s an interesting homework assignment you offer. I have my own guesses at what the answers would be, but on the outside chance either or both take you up on it, I’ll keep them to myself.

  71. willard says:

    I am uncertain as to what “urgent policy demands does not drive the science of drug pivotal clinical trials” means, but it seems quite obvious that we tend to invest in research and invest time in policy creation that meets some urgency.  For instance, one might argue that cancer research is too slow, too expensive, too inefficient and too uncertain and that we need to do something about that, on both the scientific and the policy front.  In fact, UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann argues that it is so:
     
    > The theme of her talk was the need for smarter drug development that harnesses all available information on clinical outcomes, genetics, tumor biology and early “surrogate” signs of positive responses to treatment to identify the most promising drugs and move them through the pipeline more quickly to meet the needs of cancer patients.
     
    Source: http://www.ucsf.edu/science-cafe/articles/accelerating-cancer-drug-development/

  72. AMac says:

    Willard (#72) —
    > I am uncertain as to what “urgent policy demands does not drive the science of drug pivotal clinical trials” means…
    Good point; I’m glad to try and clarify.
    Prospective randomized pivotal clinical trials with predetermined endpoints are a quite recent phenomenon.  They have major disadvantages with respect to observational  and retrospective studies:
    * They are expensive.
    * They take a long time.
    * They require a great deal of thought and effort up-front.
    * The pre-defined endpoints might not evaluate an outcome whose importance is only clear once the study results are in.
    * They have delayed payoffs, from the point of view of bringing new drugs to market, as well as with respect to the career imperatives of the clinical scientist.
    As you note, there are many moves afoot to speed and improve pharma R&D, and these initiatives should be welcomed by all concerned.  Notably absent from such proposals are calls for a return to post-hoc analysis and related practices of the recent past.
    Here is a long article from the November 2010 Atlantic, “Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science“.
    — begin excerpt —
    [… Dr. Ioannidis thought he knew what the dysfunction was.] “The studies were biased,” he says. “Sometimes they were overtly biased. Sometimes it was difficult to see the bias, but it was there.” Researchers headed into their studies wanting certain results””and, lo and behold, they were getting them. We think of the scientific process as being objective, rigorous, and even ruthless in separating out what is true from what we merely wish to be true, but in fact it’s easy to manipulate results, even unintentionally or unconsciously. “At every step in the process, there is room to distort results, a way to make a stronger claim or to select what is going to be concluded,” says Ioannidis. “There is an intellectual conflict of interest that pressures researchers to find whatever it is that is most likely to get them funded.”
    — end excerpt —
    One way to look at the current Climate Wars is as the teething pains of an immature discipline.  Being thrust into the limelight is at the same time welcome, and very uncomfortable.  I think that as climate science matures, it will take up these sorts of challenges, albeit grudgingly at times.

  73. Tom Gray says:

    <blockquote>”Make a short list of the most contentious climate-science issues on which you and Gavin/Judy are in broad agreement.  Now make a second list of the most contentious issues about which you differ.”
    I do not think this assignment would vindicate Lemonick’s trivializing of Curry’s views.</blockquote>

    Steve McIntyre has offered to write a joint paper with climate scientists just along those line. That is to point out the contentious and non-contentious areas. One turned him down saying that it would be “bad for his career”. McIntyre has also indicated that he has been often approached by young scientists who discreetly tell him that they are in agreement with his vies but cannot state so publicly. It would bfatal to their careers. The AGW establishment has a major influence on their future opportunities and as has beeen demonstrated in Climategate and elsewhere are not loath to punish those who stray from the true path.

    So the reaction to this story is not surprising. It is just the AGW establishment  doing what they always do

  74. Tom Gray says:

     
    AMAC point out the following comment about Dr, Curry’s work
    =========
    “What I found out is that when [Curry] does raise valid points, they’re often points the climate-science community already agrees with “” and many climate scientists are scratching their heads at the implication that she’s uncovered some dark secret.”
    =================
    This  form of response has been noted fro some time. The distinguished boilogist JBS Haldane codified it into four stage
     
    From John Haldane in the Journal of Genetics 1963
    Four Stages of Acceptance
    ====================
     
    1) This is worthless nonsense
     
    2) This is an interesting but perverse point of view
     
    3) This is true but quite unimportant
     
    4) I always said so
     
    To which can be added
     
    5) Want to hear my new idea?!
     
    It appears to me that teh AGW establishment is just following  a tired old path that has been followed by many other scientific establishments when they have been challenged. They cannot admit that they have made any errors and even if they have made any errors they do not matter. They are just not not wrong.
     
     
     

    Four stages of acceptance:
    i) this is worthless nonsense;
    ii) this is an interesting, but perverse, point of view;
    iii) this is true, but quite unimportant;
    iv) I always said so.
    [John Haldane, Journal of Genetics, vol. 58 (1963)

    Four stages of acceptance:
    i) this is worthless nonsense;
    ii) this is an interesting, but perverse, point of view;
    iii) this is true, but quite unimportant;
    iv) I always said so.
    [John Haldane, Journal of Genetics, vol. 58 (1963)

  75. glacierman says:

    Gavin accusing people of claiming they are being attacked makes me laugh.   There is one who is a master at this.  Try these of many:

    Mann – “the attacks against the science must stop. They are not good-faith questioning of scientific research. They are anti-science.”  –  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/07/AR2010100705484.html

    Mann – “It’s literally like a battle between a Marine and a Cub Scout when it comes to the scientists defending themselves.  We obviously don’t have the resources, we don’t have the experience, we haven’t been trained, we’re not public relations experts like they are, we’re not lawyers and lobbyists like they are ““ we’re scientists, we’re trained to do science.  So it’s like a classic example of asymmetric warfare, and that’s really the way we should think about this. ” – http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/2010/03/10/michael-mann-interview-denialists-are-waging-%e2%80%9casymmetric-warfare%e2%80%9d-against-climate-science/

    You are correct when you say, sometimes people criticize you because you are just wrong.  Unfortunately, some people cannot admit it when they are wrong and simply blame it on a conspiracy.

  76. Gavin says:

    The converse does not hold. Many things that have been declared to worthless nonsense remain worthless nonsense. Many things that are interesting but perverse remain interesting and perverse, and many things that are nonetheless true, remain unimportant. And it is also true that many things that are well known and well appreciated in the scientific community are sometimes interpreted as brilliant insights if someone new brings them up outside of that community.

    Your hope is that because a few radical ideas have passed through these stages, any idea that is at stage 1 must also do so, is simply wishful thinking.  It might happen, but it’s a long-shot.

  77. AMac says:

    My hope is to better-understand the most important issues about which Gavin thinks that he and Judy are basically in accord.

    Also, the key areas of disagreement.

    And the comparable things, as seen from Judy’s point of view.

  78. Bernie says:

    Keith: You wrote at #71
    “It could preemptive or it could be in response to criticism he was already receiving. Either way, I do find it a bit odd that he feels the need to justify the story. Unfortunately, I think it will have the effect of coloring perceptions of his piece, which should be debated on its own merits, not on what his personal take is on the criticisms lobbed against Curry.”

    I do not understand what you are saying here.   You seem to assume either that the article was written so clearly that there were no ambiguities as to the author’s intent or meaning, or that you could care less about his meaning and intent and want to simply treat the article as the some kind of discussion starting point – like reading a novel by a political activist simply as a novel.  In my mind, the follow up blog comments are essential to understanding the authors meaning and intent.  The blog justifies some of the the more critical assessments of the article.   If so, any earlier “debate of the article on its own merits” would clearly have been misleading and incomplete.

  79. glacierman says:

    The good news is that everyone is on record and there will no escaping who is right and who is wrong in the historic record.  Things such as a few teleconnecting pine trees containing a signal of the planets climate and CO2 controling the temperature of the Earth will certainly be proven either correct, or misguided. 

    I think Judy is just getting ahead of the curve in preserving her credibility and ultimately her legacy.   

  80. willard says:

    I share AMac’s hope in #78.  I also hope that Keith will help fulfill this hope.

  81. Keith Kloor says:

    Bernie (79), I disagree. I think the seriousness with which the author regards climate change is obvious to see in the story. But I don’t see him disparaging Judith’s positions or taking sides in either of the storylines.

    If you or someone else feels differently, than please state your case.

    Remember, Lemonick feels obligated in his post to explain why he did the story on Curry:

    “Simply by giving Judith Curry’s views a respectful airing, I’ve already drawn accusations of being irresponsible “” and it’s valid to raise the question of whether giving her any sort of platform is a bad idea. I argue that her name is already in the news, and that non-scientists need useful information about her and her views.”

    I think it’s the fact that he was pretty evenhanded is what’s likely upsetting some of Curry’s critics.

    There’s an important distinction that people should make about journalists and their work: judge an article on its merits, not on what a writer’s own personal views are.

     

  82. Tom Gray says:

    ===========
    Your hope is that because a few radical ideas have passed through these stages, any idea that is at stage 1 must also do so, is simply wishful thinking.  It might happen, but it’s a long-shot
    ================

    No that isn’t my hope at all and nothing in my comment indicated that it was.

  83. Øystein says:

    Tom Gray, it came across that way, at least for me. Basically repeating three times the four steps of acceptance (without ever mentioning the caveat Gavin mentioned) indicates quite clearly that this was the purpose of your comment.

  84. Bernie says:

    Keith:
    Thanks for the reasoned and reasonable response.  You restate what I took as your original position as:  “There’s an important distinction that people should make about journalists and their work: judge an article on its merits, not on what a writer’s own personal views are.”
    Well, I see this as an unrealistic demand on readers of an article  – since it assumes that the writer’s personal views are not material to any particular article – and puts the cart before the horse.  Ex post facto, this may be appropriate.  However, I do not believe that this is a prudent way to look at any article that deals with complex subject matter when you are unaware of the author’s predisposition on the subject at hand.    I personally much prefer that the writers of such articles declare their personal positions upfront.   While objective journalism exists – and some journalists are certainly more objective than others – how can one tell ahead of time whether the journalist is objective or not.  “Trust them” because they are journalists?  Hardly.

  85. Tom Fuller says:

    If I can step back in briefly here, I think the prudent course in hotly debated policy areas is to ask journalists to declare bias and leanings as a ‘caveat lector.’

  86. Keith Kloor says:

    Bernie (85):

    It’s no more unreasonable than Judith Curry’s repeated call for people to judge an argument on it merits, rather than by any judgment of the person making the argument.

    Also you ask: “how can one tell ahead of time whether the journalist is objective or not”?

    Answer: you’re not just examining the journalist, you’re looking at the publication; you’re looking at the package. So whatever biases a journalist brings to bear in an article, which might unfairly tilt it to one side, should be caught by editor (s).

    But I can understand the confusion in the blog age and journalists are very sensitive to it. Does what we reveal/write informally in a blog post color the perception of the the related reporting/writing we do elsewhere? I’m sure it does to some extent, as would seem the case being discussed here.

    But I think it’s incumbent on readers to also be aware of their own biases.

  87. Bernie says:

    Keith:
    I grew up in England, where all newspapers, their editors and their journalists have well understood political and policy points of view, e.g., the Daily Telegraph and the  Guardian.  My reading of US History is that partisan journalism was and, I would argue, still is the norm, e.g., the NYT and the WSJ.  Indeed, many of the founding fathers were instrumental in setting up such partisan newspapers for the purposes of being partisan.  The belief that somehow journalists are to be presumed objective is I would argue a rather modern viewpoint and one that is honored more in the breach than actuality.  As I said before, some journalists are fairer and more balanced than others and that is to their credit – but many are literally unaware of their biases.  The recent history of the BBC’s science reporting is very much a case in point.
    Please note that there is nothing wrong per se with journalists (or scientists)  who have and acknowledge such biases.  There is, however, something sad and intellectually distasteful about those who demonstrably have biases but refuse to acknowledge them. 

  88. Keith Kloor says:

    Judith Curry posts a response to the SciAm article (and related stuff) by Michael Lemonick. I’d like to comment on her take, but I want to read it again more carefully…and that will have to wait until after the big football game tonight.

     

  89. Stu says:

    Bernie: #89
     
    “Please note that there is nothing wrong per se with journalists (or scientists)  who have and acknowledge such biases. ”
     
    Journalists? Fair enough. Scientists?  No.

  90. AMac: “One way to look at the current Climate Wars is as the teething pains of an immature discipline.  Being thrust into the limelight is at the same time welcome, and very uncomfortable.  I think that as climate science matures, it will take up these sorts of challenges, albeit grudgingly at times.”
     
    I used to look at it that way, but that is not a complete version of the story by any means.
     
    The existence of an organized, funded and talented group of professionals intending to confuse and confound the public discourse figures into it. The unwillingness or incapacity of the press to make judgments figures into it.
     
    Everyone needs to understand that fields like medicine and engineering are vastly more expensive than fields like climatology, and the standard to which climatology could reasonable be required to uphold are castly beyond not only the understanding but the capacity and resources of the field as it exists. That is, the idea that “it will take these things up” depends on the willingness of the public to pay for them more than on the willingness of the field to reorganize around them.
     
    Meanwhile, some of the lies are calling us a “literally multi-trillion-dollar operation”. (I believe in the US it abounts to .0003 trillions or about 300 million.) The difference between 90 cents per capita and $3000 per capita is pretty substantial, obviously. I would not consider that value received if that were really the amount expended.
     
    Now, I’m not really sure, though, that going from, say, 90 cents to nine dollars per capita is actually a good way to spend the nine dollars. Maybe as an investment in engineering it would be better targeted. But if people really want medical-quality accountability they had better be willing to pay for medical-quality infrastructure.
     

  91. Bernie says:

    Stu:
    Just as it is unreasonable to believe that journalists can somehow prevent their biases from potentially influencing their work product, so is it true for scientists where their work impinges on practical policy issues.  Wishing that it shouldn’t be the case is unrealistic.  The demand on scientists and journalists is that they openly acknowledge potential sources of bias. 

  92. AMac says:

    Michael Tobis —
    > The existence of an organized, funded and talented group of professionals intending to confuse and confound the public discourse figures into it. The unwillingness or incapacity of the press to make judgments figures into it.
    The Oreskes/AGW Consensus “Knaves and Fools” narrative is a tremendously satisfying one.  We can even stipulate that it is true — in that there are certainly Knaves out there.  Fools, too.  Let’s go beyond the simplest plot line and add a layer of complexity.  Assign percentages to the dissent from the AGW Consensus postion among scientifically-literate people (e.g. skeptic readers of C-a-s).  I’ll even go first.
    Knaves (AMac estimate 1%)
    Fools (AMac estimate 25%)
    Honest but lacks adequate basis for opinion (AMac estimate 25%)
    Honest with reasoned, reasonable, informed basis for skepticism (AMac estimate 50%)
    This is so informal that my numbers don’t even add to 100%.
    Your turn.

  93. Stu says:

    Bernie-
     
    I think I read your previous comment the wrong way. Of course, everyone has biases to some degree, and it’s better when biases are acknowledged. But I would still disagree with your #92 comment. Perhaps I just have a fairly unrealistic, romantic idea about science in general, but I really thought that as a scientist it is basically your job to do everything you can not to let your biases get in the way of your conclusions. To me, this is what science actually is- the process of working in order to allow results which might be different to your orginal assumptions.
     
    I know we can get philosophical on this, but for the sake of brevity I just wanted to make a quick point. I guess I have a large ‘faith’ in the application of scientific method to weed out biases, it should work if used properly. That was Feynman’s point.
     

  94. AMac says:

    Michael Tobis —
    > Now, I’m not really sure, though, that going from, say, 90 cents to nine dollars per capita is actually a good way to spend the nine dollars.
    My own interest in AGW science came about by accident, on observing the scorn heaped on Roger Pielke Jr. by AGW Consensus steadfasts for observing that the Tiljander data series had been used upside-down by Mann et al (2008).  A cursory look revealed that Pielke was right and his critics were wrong.  A more comprehensive examination has shown that the errors of these paleotemperature reconstruction analyses were multifaceted:  in some respects blatant, in other ways subtle.  Two years on, the AGW Consensus remains rallied behind Prof. Mann and his co-authors–a climate science variant of papal inerrancy.
    What is your estimate for how much funding it would take to remedy this sort of obstacle to scientific progress?

  95. Tom Fuller says:

    MT, you’re seeing ghosts again. Could you identify the actors who form this paid conspiracy to thwart the triumph of AGW? Who’s getting the money? Who is giving it?
     
    And I hope you don’t come back with tripe like the Marshall Institute, vilified as getting about 1/10th of their funding from the Koch Brothers and for having the audacity to let Bjorn Lomborg speak.
     
    Much like a Nobel awaits someone who can disprove ‘global warming,’ more than a Pulitzer awaits someone who can put meat on the bones Oreskes has manufactured into a Halloween Skeletor…

  96. Huge Difference says:

    Michael,
     
    You need to change your tinfoil.
     
    The most outrageous part of your claim, if I am understanding it right,  is that climate science should not have to meet the standards set by engineering or medicine or any other scientific discipline.
     
    Wat!?
     
    And then you go on to spin your conspiracy theory of the trillions being spent to keep you down at the same time you complain of others who mischaracterize the amount of government and private resources spent on climate science.
     
    That sort of argument may work for some of the people all of the time, so all I can say is congratulations Barnum, hope you run into Lincoln some day.

  97. Hank Roberts says:

    > Tom Fuller

    Here’s a more complete list of those funding opposition to “‘climate change alarmism and the move to socialized health care,’ as well as “the regulatory assault on energy'”

    http://www.demsfightinwords.com/wordpress/?tag=phil-anschutz

    Who’s getting the money? — ask a journalist.

  98. Whoa, fighting on too many fronts. I missed all this…
     
    #97 really gets my goat. You can’t say anything without people looking for the worst possible interpretation, however improbable.
     
    The amount of US federal money spent on climate science (pretty much the sole source in the US) as a physical science was about $300,000,000 the last time I saw a number, supporting perhaps a thousand people and their equipment and infrastructure, and variable but showing no trend since Clinton. A bit under a dollar per capita.
     
    This doesn’t count NASA earth observations, which was around a billion, and a whole bunch of biology and hydrology wrapped in the climate budget to make it look bigger, for a total of about two billion.
     
    Probably less than a day’s worth of energy companies net.
     
    This is roundoff error for the energy companies. BP is throwing $500,000,000 at gulf state universities just as penance. Unfortunately, physical oceanography will not get a big cut. But the fact is that BP is spending more on university research into chemical and biological oceanography than the government is spending on physical climatology.
     
    The most outrageous part of your claim, if I am understanding it right,  is that climate science should not have to meet the standards set by engineering or medicine or any other scientific discipline.”
     
    That’s perfectly obnoxious. You are trying very hard to understand me wrong.
     
    I said it would be great to be able to afford the standards of other fields. Meanwhile we have to do the best we can with what we’ve got.
     
    As for AMac’s proportions, they may be right. So what? The question is what would it look like if there were no fake science and no astroturfing? Who knows?
     

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