Home > Environment, Media > Science the victim of dishonest attacks

Science the victim of dishonest attacks

March 13th, 2010

That’s the title of my Fin column for Thursday 11 March 2010, which naturally picked out The Australian newspaper as a prime vehicle for these attacks. The Oz replied next day, with characteristic mendacity, pointing out that, on the same day they

ran an opinion piece by climatologist James Hansen, the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies chief who also happens to be known rather snappily as the “father of global warming”.

Only problem was, they weren’t running Hansen to defend science against their attacks, but because his policy views (he opposes an ETS and supports nuclear power) could be used in their continuing wedge campaign. The piece (can’t find it to link ran under the headline “”Only carbon tax and nuclear power can save us”

Anyway, here’s my piece

Science the victim of dishonest attacks

It is a commonplace to observe that Australia’s scientific institutions and organizations, have played a central role in promoting Australia’s prosperity and in maintaining our country’s place as a leading contributor to the growth of knowledge.

In city and country alike, we rely on the predictions and analysis of the Bureau of Meteorology, predictions that have grown steadily more accurate over time. The prosperity of our rural sector has been built to a substantial extent, on the work of the CSIRO and other organizations devoted to agricultural science and natural resource management.

Universities have also played a crucial role. My own University of Queensland includes among its alumni such great scientists as Peter Doherty, whose work on immunology won him the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1996.

In recent years, science and scientific institutions have come under increasingly vociferous attack, with accusations of fraud, incompetence and even aspirations to world domination becoming commonplace. These attacks have mostly focused on environmental and public health issues, but they are gradually coalescing into an attack on science itself

A few examples

* In November 2003, Quadrant magazine published an article by Ted Lapkin blaming environmentals scientists for a supposed ban on DDT that had, he claimed cost millions of lives. DDT was never banned in anti-malarial use, and the claim Lapkin repeated had been cooked up by a tobacco lobbyist, who sought to put pressure on the World Health Organization, then campaigning against smoking in the Third World.

* On March 5 2006, Miranda Devine wrote that ‘Environmentalism is the powerful new secular religion and politically correct scientists are its high priests … It used to be men in purple robes who controlled us. Soon it will be men in white lab coats. The geeks shall inherit the earth.’

* On March 26th 2009, Jennifer Marohasy, then a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, accused the Bureau of Meteorology of tampering with weather data to fake evidence of global warming

* Andrew Bolt of the Sun-Herald has repeatedly asserted that climate scientists are conscious frauds, motivated by a desire for government grant money, most recently a few days ago in a blog post entitled ‘That buys a lot of Baas’.

* The Australian newspaper has campaigned against science and scientists so consistently that picking a single example would be misleading. Blogger Tim Lambert, who maintains a running series on The Australian’s War on Science is now up to instalment 46

All of this has reached a crescendo in the wake of the so-called Climategate affair in which a group of ‘sceptics’ harassed climate scientists at the University of East Anglia with a campaign of deliberately vexatious form-letter Freedom of Information demands, hacked the University’s email system to obtain the email files generated in response and then published distorted versions of those supposedly proving that global temperature records had been fudged in a ‘trick’ to ‘hide the decline’. Subsequent inquiries showed that the selectively quoted phrases referred to perfectly legitimate methods of data analysis, but the enemies of science had a win in the media.

Scientists have been constrained in fighting back by the fact that they are ethically constrained to be honest, whereas their opponents lie without any compunction. A striking example was the response of Phil Jones, the main target of the Climategate hack, when presented with deliberately loaded question about the statistical significance of global warming trends over short periods.

Jones answered honestly, and proceeded to explain the problem with this kind of analysis. The Daily Mail promptly ran a headline stating ‘Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995’

As the Economist observed, this was a flat-out lie, noting that ‘anyone who has even a passing high-school familiarity with statistics should understand the difference’ That did not stop dozens of anti-science commentators from passing it on.

Now, however, science is pushing back, at least in Australia. Along with other scientific institutions, Universities Australia is organizing a national policy forum on climate change to be held in Parliament House next week which will not only restate the findings of science on this issue but respond to the stream of attacks on science.

Australia can, if need be, do very well without Quadrant, the Institute of Public Affairs and The Australian. We cannot do without science and scientists. The time has come to make a choice.

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  1. Uncle Milton
    March 13th, 2010 at 18:14 | #1

    The tinest of typos:

    Australia can, if need be, do very will [well] without Quadrant…

  2. Rationalist
    March 13th, 2010 at 18:34 | #2

    Those examples make some really good points.

    Interesting post.

  3. Alice
    March 13th, 2010 at 18:40 | #3

    Science will win in the end..of coirse it will – it always does …..the lies about Iraq became obvious in the end too, just by way of offering a recent analogy (and has the great Iraq reconstruction and rebuilding happened courtesy of the coalition of the willing ???- not a chance – its a complete mess with the squirmings about withdrawal going on now – and no rebuilding).

    Lies have a more intense but much shorter lifespan Ive noticed.

    A deluge of lies can appear to be holding the high ground in the short term…but it can never win.

  4. jquiggin
    March 13th, 2010 at 18:41 | #4

    @Uncle Milton
    Fixed, thanks. The final para was cut by the Fin, maybe for space reasons.

  5. Alice
    March 13th, 2010 at 18:46 | #5

    @jquiggin
    I dont think so – JQ

    (……cut for space reasons – no no no – more like fear on the Fins part of upsetting Quadrant and the IPA – you know – they have coal money and lib donation money and Rupe media behind them and might sue the Fin or the editor might get a demotion – buck buck buckoo).

  6. Alice
    March 13th, 2010 at 19:07 | #6

    Also – the Fin wouldnt want to upset the delusionist readership…we should consider the links here. There are delusion dollars behind the attack on mainstream science.

    Sad really…but some media organisations that pose as credible also make sensationalist news income from generating heat where there really isnt any.

  7. Freelander
    March 13th, 2010 at 20:35 | #7

    I think that rather than use ‘statistically significant’ it might be better to say ‘statistically meaningful’ because when not ‘statistically significant’ saying ‘statistically meaningless’ is often more accurate and less capable of misinterpretation than saying insignificant.

  8. rog
    March 13th, 2010 at 21:17 | #8

    JQ, here is the Hansen piece as highlighted on the Barry Brooks blog

  9. Michael
    March 13th, 2010 at 21:44 | #9

    Australia needs more Tim Lamberts to track these attacks and call the perpetrators on there misrepresentations and straight out lies.

  10. March 14th, 2010 at 06:04 | #10

    ….Scientists have been constrained in fighting back by the fact that they are ethically constrained to be honest, whereas their opponents lie without any compunction. A striking example was the response of Phil Jones, the main target of the Climategate hack, when presented with deliberately loaded question about the statistical significance of global warming trends over short periods…

    Enjoyable article John. Personally, I think it’s time to go hard on the “sceptics” (i.e. deniers) and expose their dirty tricks. That this piece ran in the AFR is great, I could be wrong but the Fin has appeared to be fairly non-commital on the issue. Unless I’ve missed a Monckton op-ed in there ;)

  11. munroe
    March 14th, 2010 at 10:06 | #11

    Australia can, if need be, do very well without Quadrant, the Institute of Public Affairs and The Australian. We cannot do without science and scientists. The time has come to make a choice.

    Nobody is suggesting we abolish “science and scientists.” However, in this article, you are suggesting that we get rid of media and organisations that criticise scientists. in other words, you’re against a free press.
    You want a scientific community that is above criticism. This is the most dangerous position I have yet heard articulated on this topic.

  12. Freelander
    March 14th, 2010 at 10:23 | #12

    @munroe

    JQ isn’t suggesting “we get rid of media and organisations that criticise scientists”. He isn’t even suggesting we get rid of Quadrant or the IPA or the Oz. He simply said we can do without them, which is true.

    We don’t really have too much of a choice about these three’s existence but we do have the choice of whether we loudly decry their anti-science campaign and whether we support them or support science.

  13. Fran Barlow
    March 14th, 2010 at 10:25 | #13

    @munroe

    However, in this article, you are suggesting that we get rid of media and organisations that criticise scientists. in other words, you’re against a free press.

    PrQ suggests no such thing. He merely suggests indifference to the fate of tatty disinformation boltholes, much as we might be indifferent to other features of the culture that are of no obvious value to the community.

    Scientists need our support, but The Australian and its ilk do not.

  14. munroe
    March 14th, 2010 at 10:28 | #14

    JQ isn’t suggesting “we get rid of media and organisations that criticise scientists”.

    It’s as plain as day. Could you tell me what is meant by “The time has come to make a choice.”
    Who has to make a choice, and what are the choices? Because it sounds awfully a lot like he’s talking about the Australian public as the chooser, and the choice is between having “Science and scientists” and having “Quadrant, the Institute of Public Affairs and The Australian”, which we can “do without.”
    There is no wriggle room here. Quiggin’s meaning is crystal clear.

  15. gerard
    March 14th, 2010 at 10:36 | #15

    It is headline news everytime there is a shift in opinion polls, even if its well inside the margin of error. Journalists are hopeless when it comes to statistics, even though a basic familiarity with such concepts should be part of their training.

  16. Alice
    March 14th, 2010 at 10:48 | #16

    @munroe
    It is organisations like the IPA and the Quadrant who are blatantly leading the charge for attacks on science in the media, tolerated by the vested interest aligned and blatantly right wing editorialism and commentariat in general in Australia (blatant). These organisations are questionably funded by those seeking to gain the most out of a delusionist campaign against scientific advance in the area of AGW and prevent polices to address it.

    Do you want the truth?…then free press is precisely what JQs criticisms are..the right to criticise and hold up to transparency.. political propaganda rags like the IPA and Quadrant and a host of heavily funded oraganisations in the U.S. who actively support and promote liars and deniers to “non independent” and “non objective” mainstream media sources.

    Taylorist type production line disinformation factories with emails and fax machines directly connected to media input lines…who measure their success each year in their annual reports by how many “pieces” they actually get published (not in journals but in the newspapers) paying piece rates to people like Jennifer Marohasy who otherwise no-one would know (such is her meagre contribution to real science). The Australian does not need support. The Australian needs exposure on the garbage it publishes and to fix the low moral and ethical standards of its journalism. The IPA and Quadrant are a major source of them media garbage.

  17. Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer
    March 14th, 2010 at 11:13 | #17

    Last par cut for space reasons John? You joke presumably. Pity, it was a nice line.

  18. March 14th, 2010 at 12:15 | #18

    The article here read better than that in the AFR.

    Misrepresenting the idea of ‘statistical significance’ need not be a lie – knowing that a claim is untrue but representing it as the truth anyway. Most people would not understand basic statistical ideas – even Des Moore who is a trained economist doesn’t.

    I am uneasy about this ‘lie’ language that you and Tim Lambert are pursuing. I am certain that the authors you cite are wrong but to suggest they are deliberately lying is protesting too much.

  19. Fran Barlow
    March 14th, 2010 at 13:04 | #19

    @munroe

    “The time has come to make a choice.” [...]it sounds awfully a lot like he’s talking about the Australian public as the chooser, and the choice is between having “Science and scientists” and having “Quadrant, the Institute of Public Affairs and The Australian”, which we can “do without.”

    Yes … we, the Australian public can choose not to dignify this lot with our attention. Let them twist in the wind, wither and fall into desuetude. There’s no repression here, merely a macor analog of what every individual does when he comes upon someone whose conduct he finds unbecoming. PrQ does not advocate coercion — merely a withdrawal of respect and engagement.

    @hc

    I am uneasy about this ‘lie’ language that you and Tim Lambert are pursuing. I am certain that the authors you cite are wrong but to suggest they are deliberately lying is protesting too much.

    It’s a lie if either

    a) you know what you are saying is likely to mislead
    b) you are entitled to strongly doubt the integrity of what you claim but propose it as robust with reckless indifference to one’s duty to speak in good faith.

    If for example someone comes to my door and asks, “is your toilet working?” I may well say no, on the basis that right at theis very moment it isn’t. I may claim not to be sure it will work even if I try it since past perofrmance is not a sure guide to the future, but this would be dissembling — a form of lying because I have good reason to suppose otherwise.

    The journalists who repeat the false and misleading claims must know know full well at the very least that the claims they are making are the subject of controversy. If they make no attempt to explore this controversy and offer up that which is pertinent and yet pretend they have comprehensive insight where they do not, then they are lying at least by standard (b).

    The journalists we are speaking about of course have been advised in the past on each and every occasion they have made these false and misleading claims because I have been amongst those drawing their attention to their errors. Deltoid has publicised these things as well, so they could only not know if they weere deliberatley blocking their eyes and ears.

    Liars all

  20. frankis
    March 14th, 2010 at 13:44 | #20

    I vow to henceforth do without a daily fix of Quadrant, the IPA, or Chris Mitchell’s epic rant The Oz – is that what we’re signing up for here? This is going to hurt them more than it’s going to hurt me munroe.

  21. munroe
    March 14th, 2010 at 13:54 | #21

    I vow to henceforth do without a daily fix of Quadrant, the IPA, or Chris Mitchell’s epic rant The Oz – is that what we’re signing up for here?

    I’m not sure. You think that JQ is advocating a boycott…? It’s a reasonable interpretation, and slightly less totalitarian than abolition.

  22. frankis
    March 14th, 2010 at 13:57 | #22

    @munroe
    Well it’s what I’m assuming munroe. Anyway, Day 1 of my sobriety and feelin’ good thus far thanks :)

  23. March 14th, 2010 at 14:00 | #23

    Fran , I think that what you propose is a logical fiddle, an extra layer off the onion. You are assuming that an a lack of sureness indicates deceit. But I don’t think Bolt and his ilk lack sureness. They react tribally to most issues – incidentally as do non-reflective people on the left. It’s not bad faith but misguided ideology and group-think.

    These people influence public opinion and need to be listened to and talked to. Calling them liars signals you will do neither.

  24. Fran Barlow
    March 14th, 2010 at 14:00 | #24

    I make it a point to single out people taking display ads in The Australian and to write to them explaining why I discourage people I know from patronising their businesses.

    That is going to hurt The Australian more than not buying their paper (which is after all, produced at a loss recoverable only through the advertising). Mind you, I don’t like buying papers on environmental grounds, so I tend to make use of those in libraries or lying around.

  25. derrida derider
    March 14th, 2010 at 14:46 | #25

    hc, I agree that many of the people who parroted the Daily Mail line were ignorant rather than conscious liars. Of course some of the ignorance was wilful – it’s amazing what you can believe if you really want to, shut your eyes and try real hard.

    But if people are so ignorant of concepts that are absolutely basic to any empiric enquiry, then whether in climate science or economics why ought we to pay their views any attention at all? Des Moore’s self-confessed ignorance, for example, destroys his credibility on the economic policy issues on which he usually scribbles.

  26. Fran Barlow
    March 14th, 2010 at 14:50 | #26

    @hc

    They react tribally to most issues – incidentally as do non-reflective people on the left. It’s not bad faith but misguided ideology and group-think.

    While they certainly are tribal, their official ethos is rooted in being “pragmatic” and “objective” and “professional”. They know they are not being that, so the charge of bad faith applies.

    This isn’t one of those things where “reasonable people can differ” unless one can differ on observable reality. You and I might have different notions of what is fair and different ways of working out what “fair” entails, and we might well get a bit tribal about it. But to utter complete bollocks about observable reality simply because these “data” would be more convenient is lying.

    These people influence public opinion and need to be listened to and talked to. Calling them liars signals you will do neither.

    I disagree. We have done that, and public opinion has become murkier as a result, in part because we have implicitly allowed their view to fall within “dissent” ratehr than being categorised as flat out lying in the ervice of their side of the culture war. We should point to these folk and say that way lies madness and misery on a grand scale. These people have no business in public policy and their special pleading should be excluded from it.

    We should treat these misanthropes and oddball sociopaths as cultural pariahs, as the enemies of human wellbeing that they are. There should be no comfort and no place for these cranks to hide from the disgust that is their due.

  27. David
    March 14th, 2010 at 15:29 | #27

    Forget the conspiracy theories.

    It´s junk science.

    Just who cares what Bolt thinks?

    People make their own minds up when they see
    the machinations of Jones and co as revealed by
    not just some emails, but a whole lot of data.

    The Harry_Read_Me.txt is not a lie, not a concoction
    by evil right wingers. It is a shambles and a damning
    example of the quality of work done.

    Face it, Jones, the IPCC are inept and their ¨science¨
    is third rate.

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/03/the_granularity_of_climate_mod.html

  28. Bush bunny
    March 14th, 2010 at 15:46 | #28

    The thing is folks, science has not been attacked. The IPCC UN report was incorrect, the
    scientists that prepared the IPCC report, had fudged the data. And lied in their summaries. The idea that UN form a global government to tax developed countries and hand over to undeveloped countries, scared people. But this wasn’t new, skeptics have been attacking Al Gore’s presumptions for years. Haven’t you watched ‘Global Warming the Greatest Swindle (2007) It’s on U Tube, lasts 1 hour. And why 31,000 US scientists are suing Al Gore or trying too. The American coal industry is suing the US Government for saying they are contributing to global warming. People are concerned as Californian electricity prices have increased as the main grid is forced to back up solar and wind.

    If people are paid millions to prepare so called scientific reports and are told to prove AGW
    is causing it? And they can’t like UEA, UN IPCC, Al Gore, Jim Hansen, Stephen Schneider (who predicted another ice age some years ago – Also on U Tube ‘An Ice Age commeth) and reputable scientists say they are wrong in their hypothesis, warn about the implications, then get called deniers? And other bad names. Who would you listen too.

    Someone who has invested millions or trillions in Carbon credits and clean energy (like Pachauri and Al Gore, Goldman Sachs, etc) or honest scientists not paid, but can see the fraud in this scam. Who would you listen too? And also the economic,social and cultural problems that could have arisen and can still arise, if ETS or Cap & Trade is implemented. I feel sorry for those people who invested in Carbon Credits Trading, their prices are plummeting. No Cap & Trade or ETS – noone to sell the CCT’s too. Want curb CO2, just allow those big emitters, people who drive cars, industry, transport, farmers etc., will pay up to 50% for their carbon footprints. The types like Al Gore don’t care! He just paid $4 million for a condo where he predicted would be inundated by sea.

    And all because someone like Al Gore et al, saw a way of making heaps of $$$’s and some
    tin pot train engineer ideas of controlling international wealth, and distributing yours, mine
    joe blogs down the roads, hard earning $$$’s to some dictator in Africa. Bet his people won’t see a penny of it.

    Anyway according to a Rasmussan report 50% of people who voted never believed in the AGW bunk, and only 25% still believed. But before you make up your minds, you do your own research. CO2 doesn’t drive climate change! Period. So why tax it? Environmental sustainability and protection sure. Look at EU, they are dangerously facing more economic down turns, like UK, because of their cap & trade systems.

    It forever amazes me 12th or 1st year science at Uni, is either not being taught or people
    are ignorant of it? The Sun and sub atomic particles, ocean tidal directions, control our climate. CO2 pollutes. But one big volcanic eruption can create a nuclear winter. And if John et al, want to support a crime against humanity. Let them, don’t you be sucked in.
    Good afternoon.

  29. jquiggin
    March 14th, 2010 at 15:55 | #29

    I’ll point out to Harry that the description of the claim as a “lie” was taken from The Economist, which isn’t exactly prone to zealotry. As a matter of fact, i noted in another post that the Daily Mail could probably plead to reckless ignorance. That’s not true for Lindzen and Motl who made up this particular turning point.

    As DD says, we are dealing with people who either don’t know or don’t care about such basic concepts as “statistical significance”, but nonetheless think themselves qualified to “make up their own minds” and pass judgement on scientists who have worked on the topic for decades.

    Having dealt with hundreds of these guys over the years, I haven’t encountered ten who aren’t utterly and woefully ignorant of even the basics of physics and statistics (those in the ten have been dogmatic rightwing tribalists, who let their tribal allegiances override their better judgement). Of course, there’s no obligation to understand these subjects, but if you haven’t done the basic work required to do so, you should accept the judgement of those who have.

  30. jquiggin
    March 14th, 2010 at 15:57 | #30

    To be clear, Munroe, I’m not advocating the suppression of any viewpoint, no matter how absurd. But I am saying that there is no reason to regard Quadrant, the IPA or the Australian as having any valid role in public debate. They belong in the same category as creationists and moon-landing conspiracy theorists (actually, Quadrant is edging into the first of these camps already).

  31. Bush bunny
    March 14th, 2010 at 16:01 | #31

    This climate gate rort is driven by cultural and financial gain. Via fraudulent means. And good people are already hurting. Turn up the Greens.org.au website. Check out global governance and wanting to tax farmers for their animals methane emissions. seen the SBS
    ads ‘Even if CO2 emissions ceased tomorrow, the methane emitted by farm animals will still
    cause Global Warming – Eat Veg not meat and Save the planet. Not true science? Pull the other one please. And I thought Australian’s weren’t gullible. The Greens wanted to tax
    farmers $11 per head of cattle and $7 per head of sheep. No how many sheep do we have in Australia and there are some we do eat but the majority are used for wool production or side products. Just google eh? I don’t eat much meat, and I’m into organics etc. But even I know if we plant more forests and grow bio fuels we’ll be having less room to grow our foods. Did you know the Japanese and Chinese want to buy our land in most probably Northern Australia? The politics behind this climate change scam is criminal!

    Wake up Aussies, cum on, cum on!

  32. March 14th, 2010 at 16:12 | #32

    Sorry hc,
    but you are wrong.

    Your definition of a lie:

    “knowing that a claim is untrue but representing it as the truth anyway.”

    What ProfQ wrote:

    “The Daily Mail promptly ran a headline stating ‘Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995’

    As the Economist observed, this was a flat-out lie…”

    Phil Jones agreed, with qualification, with the loaded question: “Would you agree that there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995?”

    “Scientist admits there has been no global warming since 1995″ is a lie.

    These people are liars by your definition. You can allow that if you like. Obviously some of us have higher standards.

    I believe it is imperative that they neither be listened or talked to. They are liars, why legitimise that?

  33. Ken Lovell
    March 14th, 2010 at 17:20 | #33

    The ABC’s chair illustrated the problems with public discussion admirably the other day. In summary, he stated:

    1. He is an ‘agnostic’ about AGW and always has been
    2. He’ll keep an ‘open mind’ until he sees ‘compelling evidence’
    3. He’s not a scientist and can’t make an independent assessment of the science.

    The contradiction between 2 and 3 ought to be self-evident but Newman presumably doesn’t see it, and nor do so many of the self-described sceptics. That’s why the people you cite John will continue to have a sizable audience and why many people will not accept the [legitimate] way in which you frame the discussion. Cognitive dissonance I think it’s called, and it is far more common than rational thinking.

  34. jquiggin
    March 14th, 2010 at 17:20 | #34

    Bush bunny is fairly representative of the standard of debate on the other side, sadly. There is simply no point in engaging with this kind of thing.

  35. jquiggin
    March 14th, 2010 at 17:22 | #35

    As for the source linked by David, it doesn’t take more than a moment’s thought to see that the writer is seriously confused about the role of time in weather data. The reference to “a dataset that the Met Office someday hopes to have available on a monthly (or maybe even daily) temporal resolution ” is absolute nonsense. His own graph (from Spencer) shows that the data he is referring to is of data available at least 4 times a day. And the claim that no such data exists for Australia is nonsense – Google points to plenty of hourly data
    http://solar1.mech.unsw.edu.au/glm/trnaus/CLIMATIC%20DATA.htm

    This is an example of the way the Internet fools the unwary and has been doing so for a long time. You can present a web page with pretty graphs, technical jargon and appeals to largely irrelevant expertise, and, if it gives the answers people want to read, they’ll believe it.

  36. Bush bunny
    March 14th, 2010 at 17:30 | #36

    John – You must be joking? To say in one sentence not to suppress viewpoints… and yet
    label Quadrant, the IPA and the Australian in the same category as creationists and moon
    landing conspirators? I find that insulting…. skeptics are honest people who see the dangers involved in this climate scam, climate fraud, climategate etc.

    “A person who instinctively or doubts, questions or disagrees with some popular held conceptions or beliefs” Especially when the so called science is based on fraud, lies and making some sections of the community rich at another’s expense. That the skeptics people who are renown scientists in the field or allied fields, respected men and women, have been ignored for absolute years in the press and media. Now you and Tim Flannery, Al Gore, Phil Jones, are placed in the spot light and asked to ‘Please explain” with Senator Wong and substantiate why you still think that Sydney Harbour and sea front homes will be inundated by rising sea levels by 2020? And we will all die of heat exhaustion?

    I expect you will cut this comment but I feel the climate change believers faced with the real science and scientists, are unwilling to hand back their millions, nobel prizes, academy and Emmy awards, and admit “Well we made a few errors, we are most likely heading for an ice age actually – but you haven’t died yet have you” Then aside “Drat it, my CCT’s
    have dropped 50%’.

    If I were you faced with this public embarrassment, I wouldn’t be canning the skeptics
    (denier’s is very rude) I’d be suing the ones who sucked you in.

  37. Bush bunny
    March 14th, 2010 at 17:52 | #37

    Well John, I studied Science at University, (I’m also a journalist and published writer) and as soon as Al Gore started spouting years ago, I saw it for what it was. I cringed when he got the Academy Award and then the Nobel Prize for Peace?) And if you can’t accept it my type of debate is being spouted all around the world it’s because you haven’t any relevant answers. The best being ‘we made a small error or errors, we lost data’

    You are a dieing breed JOHN, (not to be taking personally of course, but all you argued for to support your beliefs is that we skeptics are wrong and equal to creationists!) you feel the science as settled and all those who disagree, and have disagreed for years but weren’t given any hearing in the media until recently, equal the creationist doctrines or moon landing conspirators.

    You can’t take my ‘debate’ seriously because you haven’t any logical answers. Well guess
    what we skeptics know you haven’t any and that fuels our fires better than yours. Get
    my gist… you are like and your AGW believers like the creationists. When faced with science and Darwin’s theory, they started up saying, ‘Can’t be true, God created the world
    in 4004 BC at 4 pm… ‘ fair dinkum.

    They are still at it today – evangelists, and pentacostals, etc. Check out their sites on
    climate change.

    Anyway good evening and the best of luck to you personally, and hope you will see one day we skeptics did have a really good point, and no cap & trades or ETS bills will be passed.

  38. Alice
    March 14th, 2010 at 17:58 | #38

    @Bush bunny
    yes you are concerned Bush Bunny – you are a concern troll – concerned about Al Gore who has more sense than most – concerned about science- concerned about intelligence when you havent got any – concerned about your right to disagree when you what you are agreeing with is crap

    We kn ow your kind. Now go away – we only just cleared out a whole lot of trash but we forgot you obviously…

    Now youve said your good evenings…can I say dont come back?

  39. Ken Lovell
    March 14th, 2010 at 18:00 | #39

    I think the thread demonstrates some regrettable truths about the public consideration of AGW.

    First, we have Bush bunny: someone to whom the whole thing is plainly a game where they can have fun mocking the despised left. It’s best never even to acknowledge the presence of such people … something John which I thought you would have realised by now. Seeing a response to their contributions just encourages them to redouble their efforts.

    The trouble is that we know Bush bunny et al are acting in bad faith, and there’s a tendency therefore to assume that ALL denialists are acting in bad faith. This is not a valid assumption.

    The problems are compounded by the fact that genuine scientists like Plimer and Carter, while having very much the worst of the debate, are apparently quite lucid and personable chaps in person. If one puts aside preconceived notions of motivation and bad faith and considers them purely as scientists who have a different view to the majority, it’s easy to see how non-scientists of goodwill can conclude that there are legitimate differences that have still to be sorted out before they can commit to fairly drastic new policies.

    In other words, people who have not taken the time – or may not have the time – to explore the history and background to the arguments in depth can quite understandably conclude that decisions should prudently be deferred for a while. Indeed if you start from the premise that all the scientists (and even most of the journalists) are sincerely interested in finding the truth, then it would be hard to arrive at any other conclusion. And I suspect that for many of the world’s decision-makers, AGW is no more than another of the five or six or 10 important issues about which they are waiting for the experts to reach consensus before they feel confident enough to take action.

  40. Alice
    March 14th, 2010 at 18:02 | #40

    @Bush bunny
    You studied science? When you werent truanting and taking drugs you mean…another clueless fruit loop (and Ill proably get into trouble for calling you what you are…but JQs a lot more politre than me and he is willing to tolerate dissenting views as long as they are intelligent…so where is your intrelligent argument Bush tucker? (About as thick as a lump of damper cooked on an open fire when there is nothing better to eat).

  41. Terangeree
    March 14th, 2010 at 19:34 | #41

    @Bush Bunny.

    You’re a journalist and a published author, eh?

    ‘Tis a pity that your knowledge of basic grammar and spelling is rather lacking…

  42. Donald Oats
    March 14th, 2010 at 20:02 | #42

    Bush Bunny will be best as Bush Meat. Perhaps with some bush peppercorns to give the dull flavour some zest…

    When the Australian News Paper Editorial has stuff about how the centre of the Earth is hot, and how scientists should be checking out what contribution to surface temperature that is making, I know we’ve got a bulldust expert on the loose. The not so subtle seed being planted is that a hot inner Earth must mean at least a fairly warm surface, and that scientists haven’t checked it! Or even worse, they have deliberately ignored it (they haven’t, and yes, it has been checked out on numerous occasions). To quote from the arrant nonsense in the Editorial (2010-03-12):

    As well as greenhouse emissions, that data should take account of other determinants of temperature, primarily the sun and the heat of the earth’s core.

    [My bolding of the pertinent text.]

    Hmmm, maybe rabbit stew would be better – the stringy pieces of meat will have more time to soften up.

    PS Bush Bunny, I won’t bother to provide the oh so easy links on the above, instead go to the one stop shop.

  43. Ernestine Gross
    March 14th, 2010 at 20:59 | #43
  44. Ernestine Gross
    March 14th, 2010 at 21:03 | #44
  45. smiths
    March 14th, 2010 at 21:27 | #45

    honestly, if you walked into this debate right now, and knew nothing about the factual basis or any of what has gone on and just read the different comments, you would not side with so-called skeptics simply because they almost always come across as nasty, childish people,
    most are so cartoonish i struggle to believe they are actual human beings

  46. Michael
    March 14th, 2010 at 22:24 | #46

    @smiths
    Indeed, they mostly come across as authoritarian libertarians and maybe “slaves of some defunct economist” also.

  47. Alice
    March 15th, 2010 at 05:59 | #47

    @smiths
    Oh oh Smiths …looks like bush bunny has become bush tucker.

  48. wilful
    March 15th, 2010 at 09:01 | #48

    I wish people wouldn’t feed the troll. I mean, really, do you think our arguments are going to change Bush Dill’s mind, when the solid logic of climate science can’t?

    Please, just ignore him, have a grown-up conversation,

  49. Donald Oats
    March 15th, 2010 at 09:09 | #49

    I’m glad that you have drawn attention to the morphing of these snarling dog attacks on specific issues, issues that are underpinned by scientific evidence, into a broadside against science and scientists in general.
    Viewing it from up high the two political issues doing the most to set up a “pincer movement” against science and scientists are AGW and Creationism/ID/New ID. Common to both of these is that they may be framed as scientific explanation threatening values strongly held by a group with political clout.
    In the case of AGW, businesses in the fossil fuel game want to exploit their reserves fully; this means that a strategy of casting doubts upon the science and using this to justify delay in (eventually) implementing a solution, is an easy strategy to execute successfully.
    For C/ID/NID the affect group(s) are the Christian Denominations, and primarily the fundamentalist and evangelical end of the spectrum, who take Genesis – the chapter with all of the begatting – literally. Their strategy is to cast doubts upon the science buttressing Evolutionary Biology, and to then use the strange notion of balance to argue that science/biology students should be taught “the controversy”. This strategy is a fairly successful one because it doesn’t need to succeed all at once, but rather one school at a time is sufficient early on in order to establish precedent. It has worked rather well.

    Taken together, the two issues of AGW and Evolution are under attack by opponents running fairly similar strategies to achieve their ends. In both cases the opponents starting point is to undermine the level of certainty in the scientific case, and one favourite tactic is to diminish the integrity of key scientists operating in the field, and this is executed through the hiring of “PR Transitioning” Firms whose role is to create an evironment in which the John Does or Norm Six Pack are assailed by “reminders” that the science isn’t settled, that the scientists aren’t reliable, are evasive and are incompetent, that the science is corrupted by the need to get grant money, and so on. The science itself is also undermined by the geurilla tactic of serial nitpicking; find an obscure detail and flush it out into the open (ie into the media glare) and appear to shoot it down, and move on to the next obscure detail before scientists have finished rebutting the previous attack.

    The coalescing of just these two examples into a generalised attack upon scientific foundations and science/scientists in general has been astonishing to witness up close and blow by blow, thanks to the Web’s tools for searching, finding, tracking and aggregating. Most traditional journalists have dealt themselves out of the game when it comes to correcting the record; indeed, they are only too quick to accept PR handouts which claim to explain. As far as the public is concerned, science is tarnished, and this just makes further attack easy. The big problem is that this has progressed so far as to place signficant pressure to modify any school or university subjects that “disagree” with the aims of the opponents.

    Further damage is done as potential science students pick up on their parents comments (about the issues under attack) and views, and as they starting reading newspapers and the like. By the time the student needs to choose there preferences for university, Law, Engineering, Medicine or even Media Studies look a whole lot better than science. And, those who do go for science are going to be confronted with weaker courses, in part due to the much lower cut-off score (due to lack of interest in the courses), and in part due to the successes of the attack strategies of those who oppose AGW mitigation, and/or oppose Evolution/Cosmology/Astronomy/Biology/Botany.

    Ironically, the demand for mining engineers has guaranteed that geology is doing fine as a subject within mining engineering courses. I’m not too sure that the subject is fine in terms of continuity; that is, I wonder whether they are still pumping out enough geology scientists as opposed to engineers.

  50. Donald Oats
    March 15th, 2010 at 09:12 | #50

    @Donald Oats
    Sorry: the first part of the first sentence “I’m glad that you have drawn attention to the morphing ” [my bolding of the text] should read as “you (ie Pr Quiggin)” in place of the bold text.

  51. Paul Norton
    March 15th, 2010 at 09:19 | #51

    Today a “State of the Climate” report will be issued jointly by the BoM (Bureau of Marxists) and CSIRO (Conspiratorial Socialist & International Revolutionary Organisation).

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-snapshot-reveals-things-are-heating-up-20100314-q67h.html

    Guess which national broadsheet isn’t reporting this on its website?

  52. Paul Norton
    March 15th, 2010 at 09:33 | #52

    Speaking seriously, the non-reportage by certain media outlets of a scientific report on a matter of public importance by the two leading government bodies responsible for scientific research in the area – especially considering the space accorded to cranks and charlatans by the same outlets – would very much vindicate the point made by JQ in his op-ed.

  53. Paul Norton
    March 15th, 2010 at 09:42 | #53

    Although in fairness, I should report that the Courier-Mail and Daily Telegraph have reported on the issue.

    http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/features/scientists-accuse-climate-change-sceptics-of-smokescreen-of-denial/story-e6freowx-1225840714348

  54. Ken
    March 15th, 2010 at 10:56 | #54

    I’d just finished a comment in the Deltoid v the Thunderer thread mentioning the tendency for MSM’s to trivialise climate change as well as the lack of reporting on the ongoing campaign of attacking the credibility of science. Nice to know that I wasn’t completely right. Of course those determined to disbelieve won’t be getting their information from actual reports from actual scientific institutions such as the CSIRO-BoM one.

    I’d like to think that those who are engaged in policy are more influenced by the science than by the volume (in both quantity and noise level sense) of the denialist dupes but I’m not really convinced that it’s the case. Australia still looks unlikely to have even watered down policy get through into legislation before it’s next election and no sign that it will be a matter of great importance to whoever wins, there are signs we’ll have more coal fired power plants proposed and planned in NSW at least – our agriculture and energy minister Burke has made it clear coal is the energy source of choice for the future; having a public that’s in denial would make that easier to get through. Coal exports are in an expansion phase too and royalties are a huge contributor to government coffers; hardy a need for that sector to even bother adding big political donations to convince them that phasing out coal should get serious considertion but they are so flush that it would be pocket change to do so.

    Having a public that is in denial about climate change just doesn’t look like a problem for those in power right now so I don’t see that they’ll be motivated to strongly favour science over denialism. Unless they get a sudden attack of real responsibility, integrity and statesmanship. I just can’t see that happening myself.

  55. Ken
    March 15th, 2010 at 11:07 | #55

    Correction – should have typed ‘…phasing out coal should get no serious consideration…’ Mmm, in a sane world our energy sector would be the most serious and proactive in developing alternatives to fossil fuels. Instead they’ve put their weight and wealth behind climate change denialism.

  56. Terangeree
    March 15th, 2010 at 17:29 | #56

    Paul Norton, the News Ltd tabloids may very well have reported on the issue (although it reads to me like a transcribed press release), but the “comments” from readers following the article are rather depressing to read: 89 “experts” who are secure and contented with their total lack of knowledge about the subject they’re discussing…

  57. Russell Williams
    March 15th, 2010 at 18:58 | #57

    @Bush bunny
    Well Bush bunny, here I am about to cut my wrists at all the drivell I have been reading then you come along and as far as I can see, the only shinning light in this whole discussion.

    This poor soul, complaining about coping some heat for the crap that so called science has dished out on climate change/global warming or is that the other way around. The goss exagerations, the shutting down of healthy debate, the use of the derogetary term “denialist”, the withholding of data requested by FOI even though most of the science is paid from the public purse and generally just the disdain that those who do not believe are held in.
    I do not believe that science and scientists as a whole are being denigrated but their are certainly those that need a good belting and we all know who they are

    Hopefully we can now get back to the truth.

  58. Christopher Polis
    March 15th, 2010 at 21:01 | #58

    I’m somewhat amazed at the lack of understanding by ‘the establishment’ as to why they are all of a sudden standing on a sinking ship, and why articles like this don’t help.

    I started taking an interest in this field, as luck would have it, a day or two before ‘Climategate’ hit. Obviously at that time an inordinate amount of money was about to be thrown ‘at the problem’.

    I’ll admit to being somewhat skeptical about the whole matter. It seemed to be a bit too much like the Y2K issue – something that diverts a lot of resources from real problems to deal with a possibly catastrophic scenario.

    So I started wandering around the web trying to find information on the topic. I found a very divided world. But heres the thing. One side appeared to be made up of people like me; intelligent, technically minded engineers, scientists and programmers trying to understand what was going on for themselves. Asking rational questions and trying to come up with answers, finding themselves frustrating short of being able to gather the information they needed to be able to do so. The other side was made up of scientists trying to work, greenies trying to take advantage of that work, and generally people who wanted to keep their knowledge private.

    Then climategate happened and the pretense of scientific integrity in that field simply collapsed.

    See, technical people ‘know’ how the scientific process works. And what was revealed was not science at work, but manipulation, intimidation and self belief.

    And I don’t extrapolate that to other scientific fields. I still expect that other areas are done properly. There was enough horror expressed by scientist out of field that other areas have basically not been tainted by the corruption revealed by climategate.

    What the IOP has done in their submission to Parliament in the UK is in my mind exactly the right approach. Corruption like this needs to be first accepted for what it is, isolated, cleansed, and a fresh start made. Everything on the other side of that line is automatically now suspect.

    People who support what is now ‘unclean’ science are now suspect.

    People who exaggerate beyond what even the ‘unclean’ science suggests for the purposes of manipulating the public are anathema.

    What I want to know, and see, is scientists starting from scratch, explaining why they believe what they do. With data that has either been ‘cleansed’ or can be shown not to be unclean.

    At the moment there is precious little of that going on. I’ve found a couple of websites that are somehow sitting in the middle of this whole thing, slowly making sense through investigation and analysis of both the exaggerations of the ‘true believers’ and the blundering scratchings of the ‘skeptics’.

    Time to move on to stage two of the grief process. Stop denying that climate science is now tainted beyond the point of inherent public belief. Get angry about it. Isolate the problem. Cleanse it from the field. Start afresh.

  59. Alice
    March 15th, 2010 at 21:20 | #59

    @Christopher Polis
    So Christoper – you delved into this with your fabulous research skills two days before climategate erupted and you think your understanding is complete.

    Thank goodness you dont work as a climate scientist.

  60. truthseeker
    March 15th, 2010 at 22:24 | #60

    @Alice
    Please Alice do share your expert qualifications to make such a derisive comment towards someone (Christopher). This is the problem of Faith versus facts, models versus observations. As soon as someone disagrees with the mantra they are labelled and dismissed. This is why the public is turning away they are seeking and finding answers that just don’t gel with what we are being told.

    I hope you can be a bit more tolerant and less smug in your future dealing with people whom you dont agree with

  61. Freelander
    March 15th, 2010 at 23:34 | #61

    @truthseeker

    Alice makes a fair comment. Those who swallow the mantra propagated by denialists, arrogantly think their casual ‘research’ and thin qualifications trump those of specialists who have devoted their lives to the various aspects covered by research into climate change. Denials hold such high opinions of their own ‘research’ skills when they are unable to conduct the simple research required to find out the truth, that there was no ‘climategate scandal’ and ‘trick’ and ‘hide the decline’ both had nothing to do with doctoring evidence.

  62. Marcvdb
    March 16th, 2010 at 01:50 | #62

    I find I generally agree with the scientific studies that indicate that global warming IS taking place. Most of these studies are being done with proper data and proper methodology. The science reporting in the newspapers (both for and against the global warming theory) is dire.

    I’m also convinced we should aim to change our way of life to a sustainable life style. And the stimulus people react best to is tax.

    But it would be a stretch for me to say that any of the remedies currently suggested actually WILL prevent or mitigate global warming. I don’t think that’s a definite yes. Neither do we exactly know what the consequences will be of global warming. I think there will be significant negative effects on life on earth. Possibly even mass extinctions.

    But at the same time I don’t think life on earth is doomed by global warming, nor do I think global warming is the only issue we should worry about. There are a lot more threats to the earth and humankind that are much easier to compute with relative certainty.

  63. abracadabra
    March 16th, 2010 at 03:18 | #63

    Freelander/Alice Snark is not valid commentary.
    Spent the last hour on the site and have yet to see any science. Proclamations but no science. Marcvdb has the most reasonable comment. a) because he doesn’t claim any great truth and b) because he confines himself to the part of climate science where anyone with common sense is qualified to comment..i.e. what should we do about it. I don’t agree with him but it is his opinion and he is entitled to it. It might be helpful for you to read climate audit or TheAirVent or Lucia’s or Lubos Motl. I think you will be surprised. Quite smug free people trying to ascertain what is correct and what isn’t. No final answers or big truths but lots of very good questioning of what is remarkably shaky evidence.

  64. Manny
    March 16th, 2010 at 05:23 | #64

    “In recent years, science and scientific institutions have come under increasingly vociferous attack, with accusations of fraud, incompetence and even aspirations to world domination becoming commonplace.”

    Dr Quiggin, scientist have been under constant criticism for as long as science exists. Actually, permanent skepticism is the foundation stone of science. If you are not ready to face the data and hypotheses your critics bring out, you are not cut for this job.

    Now, you sound as if scientific debate is making you sick. Being an MD as well as a PhD, I recommend you take a break and let others do the screaming.

  65. Christopher Polis
    March 16th, 2010 at 07:28 | #65

    @Alice
    If I thought my understanding was complete, I wouldn’t be asking for scientists to do some rational explaining, would I? My understanding is developing, and changing as discussions and investigations happen.

    I’m happy with that; it people who seem to have made up their minds and closed them off to any discussion that raise the level of my BS meter.

  66. freethinker
    March 16th, 2010 at 07:55 | #66

    “John Quiggin is an Australian Research Council Federation Fellow in Economics and Political Science”

    If only we had more real scientists and less post-normal and political scientists in climate research then climate-science wouldn’t be the laughing stock it has become.

    ‘Climate science’ has become all about economics and politics and nothing to do with science. Quiggen has found his niche.

  67. Freelander
    March 16th, 2010 at 08:28 | #67

    It is not the job of scientists to answer the inquiries or refute the hypotheses of every ‘skeptical’ nitwit. Dumb questions and hypotheses are far to easily generated to expect that. Neither is it reasonable to expect taxpayer dollars to be wasted in paper based ‘denial of service’ FOI requests. Reasonable requests when someone has a serious basis for making an FOI request are completely different to orchastrated efforts by denialists with ideological objections who are simply attempting to stop serious scientist’s research.

    Science isn’t democracy; its based on merit. If it were simply based on the weight of ignorant opinion we would be living in a radically different world. Skeptical nitwits already have had far more by way of response than they have ever merited. The vast quantity of material they already have access to and their poor use of that material to date, demonstrates their inability to make sensible use of anything more. Rather than dishonestly asking for more, they ought to actually read and make a serious attempt to understand what they have already been given.

  68. Michael
    March 16th, 2010 at 09:02 | #68

    @Manny

    Manny :
    If you are not ready to face the data and hypotheses your critics bring out, you are not cut for this job.

    This is precisely the point. Those attacking the science are repeatedly challenged to produce evidence and failing to meet those challenges. The denialists are overwhelmingly stacked with people whose confidence in their abilities massively exceeds their actual abilities.

  69. Ernestine Gross
    March 16th, 2010 at 09:13 | #69

    @freethinker

    With due respect, freethinker, you come across as a bit of an idiot because:

    Climate research, as understood in climate science, hasn’t become a laughing stock. However, Christopher Monckton, lord, has introduced a lot of entertainment in the so-called ‘climate-science debate’, run by “sceptics” (ie fake sceptics), though he is neither an economist nor a political scientist. His qualification is in Classics. I know this is funny. I just don’t know why you don’t seem to see it.

    You complain about non-scientists being involved. Good point. Why do you post? Why are there anonymous commenters who want to tell the readers of this blog-site how they learn. These people have apparently no idea how bloody boring their personal stories are. They waste time and space. And, it seems, one has to spell it out for them.

    You say: “Climate science’ has become all about economics and politics and nothing to do with science.”. This is a very stupid sentence. It is stupid because the findings of climate science have direct implications for economics, both on the theory level and in practice. To give you a clue, non-trivial externalities, such as green house gas (ghg) emissions means that the assumption of ‘free disposal’ in theoretical models can no longer be maintained on empirical grounds. To deal with non-trivial externalities in societies requires legislation. This is how politics enters.

  70. Paul Norton
    March 16th, 2010 at 09:29 | #70

    The BoM/CSIRO report is now out and is commented on here.

    http://larvatusprodeo.net/2010/03/16/bom-and-csiro-report-on-the-state-of-the-climate/

    There are quite a few Nobel Prizes in the offing for Russell, Bush Bunny, Christopher, Freethinker, abracadabra, truthseeker and Manny if they can show that the BoM has been getting its temperature records wrong for several decades.

  71. Laurie
    March 16th, 2010 at 09:34 | #71

    Freelander,
    You are quite right that scientists need not “refute the hypotheses of every ‘skeptical’ nitwit”. It is, however, the job of every scientist to maintain complete and accurate records concerning all aspects of his or her research and make them available to anyone. Failing to do so invites “dumb questions and hypotheses”. The taxpayer dollars have already been provided to do the job properly and the results belong to the public rather than the scientist. Now, those responsible will have to backfill information that should have been readily available in the first place.

  72. Fran Barlow
    March 16th, 2010 at 09:37 | #72

    @Paul Norton

    There are quite a few Nobel Prizes in the offing for Russell, Bush Bunny, Christopher, Freethinker, abracadabra, truthseeker and Manny if they can show that the BoM has been getting its temperature records wrong for several decades.

    Doubtful, as “they” are very probably “he” or “she” and thus could only get one, assuming the improbable that (s)he could do that.

    Why a person who could do that would bother posting nonsense here is also an answer I’d like.

  73. Michael
    March 16th, 2010 at 09:38 | #73

    Christopher Polis :
    I’ll admit to being somewhat skeptical about the whole matter. It seemed to be a bit too much like the Y2K issue – something that diverts a lot of resources from real problems to deal with a possibly catastrophic scenario.

    Such as?

    So I started wandering around the web trying to find information on the topic. I found a very divided world. But heres the thing. One side appeared to be made up of people like me; intelligent, technically minded engineers, scientists and programmers trying to understand what was going on for themselves.

    Is this realistic? Do these lay people who may have “technical minds” have the requisite knowledge and resources to figure it out for themselves? How are their conclusions to be tested? Shouldn’t there be some process, perhaps the scientific method to verify their research. They could even publish it in a peer reviewed journal.

    Asking rational questions and trying to come up with answers, finding themselves frustrating short of being able to gather the information they needed to be able to do so.

    Have you tried? What data can’t you get? What attempts have you made? How many FOI requests have you filed that have been refused?

    See, technical people ‘know’ how the scientific process works. And what was revealed was not science at work, but manipulation, intimidation and self belief.

    The evidence on this point is contested. How much of the current science is tainted by “manipulation, intimidation and self belief”, please share your evidence.

    And I don’t extrapolate that to other scientific fields. I still expect that other areas are done properly. There was enough horror expressed by scientist out of field that other areas have basically not been tainted by the corruption revealed by climategate.

    Why not? Perhaps because it doesn’t suit your ideological position and it would make you look like a crank. How does climategate effect all the other institutions involved in climate research? Were is the evidence of mass collusion.

    People who support what is now ‘unclean’ science are now suspect.
    People who describe an entire field of science as ‘unclean’ based on isolated incidents are highly suspect.
    ’skeptics’.
    Time to move on to stage two of the grief process. Stop denying that climate science is now tainted beyond the point of inherent public belief. Get angry about it. Isolate the problem. Cleanse it from the field. Start afresh.

    You sound like a sophisticated concern troll. You start out with the classic identity testimonial about coming to the debate late and go on to make unfounded claims about the entire climate science field being suspect. The idea that ALL climate science should be suspended and go back and start from scratch is implausible and ridiculous. There is nothing stopping anyone from contributing to the science and publish their research whenever they so choose. Fundamental tenants can be challenged anytime if you can demonstrate results and have them replicated.

  74. Michael
    March 16th, 2010 at 09:51 | #74

    Fundamental tenants (should be tenets) can be challenged anytime if you can demonstrate results and have them replicated.
    How does climategate effect (should be affects) all the other institutions involved in climate research?
    Thanks Fran for pointing that out in the other thread.

  75. Laurie
    March 16th, 2010 at 09:55 | #75

    “The vast quantity of material they already have access to and their poor use of that material to date, demonstrates their inability to make sensible use of anything more. Rather than dishonestly asking for more, they ought to actually read and make a serious attempt to understand what they have already been given.”

    Dr. Phil Jones said it is not possible to replicate his work because the raw data and programs have not been made available. This is not acceptable. It does not suffice to offer the data or methods of another’s research. That wouldn’t be replication, would it.

  76. Christopher Polis
    March 16th, 2010 at 10:02 | #76

    Michael :

    Christopher Polis :
    I’ll admit to being somewhat skeptical about the whole matter. It seemed to be a bit too much like the Y2K issue – something that diverts a lot of resources from real problems to deal with a possibly catastrophic scenario.

    Such as?

    Not even sure what you are doing here if you don’t have any knowledge of the catastrophic scenarios that have been associated with global warming over the last 10-20 years.

    So I started wandering around the web trying to find information on the topic. I found a very divided world. But heres the thing. One side appeared to be made up of people like me; intelligent, technically minded engineers, scientists and programmers trying to understand what was going on for themselves.

    Is this realistic? Do these lay people who may have “technical minds” have the requisite knowledge and resources to figure it out for themselves? How are their conclusions to be tested? Shouldn’t there be some process, perhaps the scientific method to verify their research. They could even publish it in a peer reviewed journal.

    Yes, that is quite reasonable. And, others on the web are doing a pretty thorough job of testing their conclusions. And showing them to be dismissable them where appropriate. Which is quite a different thing than dismissing them without taking the time to show why. Process is going on as we speak, and fortunately for anyone not in the field, it is not locked up in some discredited scientific journal.

    Asking rational questions and trying to come up with answers, finding themselves frustrating short of being able to gather the information they needed to be able to do so.

    Have you tried? What data can’t you get? What attempts have you made? How many FOI requests have you filed that have been refused?

    None. Not sure what your point is here? I never indicated that this was what I was doing.

    See, technical people ‘know’ how the scientific process works. And what was revealed was not science at work, but manipulation, intimidation and self belief.

    The evidence on this point is contested. How much of the current science is tainted by “manipulation, intimidation and self belief”, please share your evidence.

    And I don’t extrapolate that to other scientific fields. I still expect that other areas are done properly. There was enough horror expressed by scientist out of field that other areas have basically not been tainted by the corruption revealed by climategate.

    Why not? Perhaps because it doesn’t suit your ideological position and it would make you look like a crank. How does climategate effect all the other institutions involved in climate research? Were is the evidence of mass collusion.

    No, simply because there is no reason to assume that other areas are acting in this fashion. Should I? Are you suggesting that all science is corrupt? Certainly not something I have any reason to believe.

    People who support what is now ‘unclean’ science are now suspect.
    People who describe an entire field of science as ‘unclean’ based on isolated incidents are highly suspect.
    ’skeptics’.
    Time to move on to stage two of the grief process. Stop denying that climate science is now tainted beyond the point of inherent public belief. Get angry about it. Isolate the problem. Cleanse it from the field. Start afresh.

    You sound like a sophisticated concern troll. You start out with the classic identity testimonial about coming to the debate late and go on to make unfounded claims about the entire climate science field being suspect. The idea that ALL climate science should be suspended and go back and start from scratch is implausible and ridiculous. There is nothing stopping anyone from contributing to the science and publish their research whenever they so choose. Fundamental tenants can be challenged anytime if you can demonstrate results and have them replicated.

    Only if climate science wants to win back public support.

  77. Jean Demesure
    March 16th, 2010 at 10:04 | #77

    The anthropic global warming “science” is collapsing not because of attacks but because it is a political house of card marketed as science.
    John Quiggin’s cheap scapegoat rhetorics would bring him no new AGW supporters. It only helps him to be remembered by his children & grand children as a die-hard supporter of pseudo-science.

  78. frankis
    March 16th, 2010 at 10:11 | #78

    Fresh from another thread where I’d been contemplating Miss_Magoo’s fears that scientists may sometimes lack a little in the social graces I arrive here to find engineer Christopher Polis – he who wanders “intelligently”, unprejudicially, around the web honestly seeking climate science enlightenment (unlike most of you social creatures only out there for fun and fantasy), preaching as he goes – and Christopher reminds us painfully well that the capacity of the engineer for social maladroitness may approach that of the scientist, and in special cases may actually trump it. Vale Chris!

  79. Michael
    March 16th, 2010 at 10:37 | #79

    Christopher Polis :

    Such as?
    Not even sure what you are doing here if you don’t have any knowledge of the catastrophic scenarios that have been associated with global warming over the last 10-20 years.

    I’m interested to know what you prioritise as the other “real problems” that resources are being diverted from. Can you supply specifics about this diversion?

    Asking rational questions and trying to come up with answers, finding themselves frustrating short of being able to gather the information they needed to be able to do so.

    Have you tried? What data can’t you get? What attempts have you made? How many FOI requests have you filed that have been refused?
    None. Not sure what your point is here? I never indicated that this was what I was doing.

    I am interested to know what evidence you have that the issue of people “finding themselves frustrating short of being able to gather the information they needed to be able to do so” is a real problem extending beyond “denial of service” FOI campaigns.

  80. Freelander
    March 16th, 2010 at 10:46 | #80

    @Laurie

    There is no dispassionate attempt to seek the truth with you fellows and because you denialists are pushing a particular barrow, and are generally unqualified, you are hardly the people to be taking it on yourselves to be auditing anyone’s science. If Jones’ results are in error, then others ought to be able to demonstrate that by doing their own research. They certainly wouldn’t have to rely on Jones (because that is how science works). However, to do their own research they would need to have some clue where to begin.

  81. Mickey Spillane
    March 16th, 2010 at 10:48 | #81

    Well Qig;

    Seems most of Canada has seen your site. We think you’re an idiot.

    Wonder if Steve will launch a civil suit. He’s fron Toronto….I hear his neighbour is a laywer.

    Have a good day

  82. David Ross
    March 16th, 2010 at 10:49 | #82

    I came here from Bolton’s rant. I saw the familiar smears, but Quiggin’s unsubstantiated claims that “McIntyre done it” are just appalling.

    Then, I realised I’d read one of Quiggins articles “Uncertainty and Climate Change Policy”, 2008. It is simply useless stuff. The best bit was his “equation” where he says:

    “Emissions = Population * Output / Population*Energy/Output*Emissions per unit Energy”

    Or calling Emission “X” so as not to confuse with Energy “E”, we have X = P * O / P * E / O * X / E

    Shuffling we get X = P / P * O / O * E / E * X or X = X.

    Yes, proof that 1 = 1 is really helpful. And that in an Economic Journal too!

    No, Quiggin’s article had no science in particular and made me certain that Aust Research Council Federation Fellows need to have enough AGW publications to guarantee next year’s round of funding.

    Sadly, I had hoped there might some some real stuff about uncertainty, like how uncertain are the assumptions in the models, how are uncertainties handled when modeling a complex system over 50 or 100 years or so, and even the simple stuff, like do the models use arbitrary precision arithmetic or do the rely on the known, imperfect system of floating point calculations (where is it easy to demonstrate the (A – B) – C does not always equal A – (B – C)) and if they *do* use the basic floating point system, do they carry error estimates through the course of the calculations? Nope, no answers in Quiggin’s world of “Uncertainty”.

    (BTW – The CRU code to calculate the world’s temperature over time uses the simple floating point representations and does no calculation of uncertainty nor does it handle intrinsic floating point errors (rounding, representational, etc).

    It is also clear to me that Quiggins has not read many of the emails, nor has he looked at the code in the CRUtapes. My mouth was agape at almost every single email in there. If you have not done so, you must spend an hour or two simply dipping into the emails. They are appalling.

    If you have read the HARRY-READ-ME.TXT file, then it seems much more likely that HARRY or someone near him *inside* CRU is the whistleblower, they got sick of the sloppy “science” surrounding Phil Jones and his collaborators.

    Finally, you can not accept the “trick” of grafting the dendro record to the recent temp record because we don’t understand why the recent dendro does not match the recent temp and just say “oh, some unknown but unimportant reason makes them deviate”. That is precisely the loose reasoning that makes anyone with two brain cells turn away from the alarmists propaganda.

  83. Mickey Spillane
    March 16th, 2010 at 10:57 | #83

    I wonder if the UofQ has rules regarding conduct of profs.

    Man Quig must have been a real catch for the UofQ!!!

    He should stick to his economics and stay away from science.

  84. Mickey Spillane
    March 16th, 2010 at 10:57 | #84

    I wonder if the UofQ has rules regarding conduct of profs.

    Man Quig must have been a real catch for the UofQ!!!

    He should stick to his economics and stay away from science.

  85. Freelander
    March 16th, 2010 at 11:17 | #85

    @David Ross

    Shows how much you know about Mathematics. I suppose when you do maths, both sides of an equation would not be equal?

  86. Neil Fisher
    March 16th, 2010 at 11:57 | #86

    @Freelander writes:

    Alice makes a fair comment. Those who swallow the mantra propagated by denialists, arrogantly think their casual ‘research’ and thin qualifications trump those of specialists who have devoted their lives to the various aspects covered by research into climate change.

    Ah – an issue of whom to trust. So when the science, such as it is, is dependant upon statistical analysis, it might be pertinent to check with a few statisticians that it’s been done correctly. They might run a sensativity analysis and find the stats have been badly done. Oh wait – that already happened, didn’t it? Yeah – McIntyre found some bad stats and was pilloried and derided for his work even when Wegman agreed he had a point.
    But the “body of evidence” shows it’s right anyway, doesn’t it? That didn’t seem to matter when the body of evidence was that the MWP and LIA were real and global – MBH9X was a “smoking gun” regardless of the fact it disagreed with most previous studies into paleoclimatology; the antarctic is warming paper that made the front page of Science (or was it Nature?) went against all previously published studies on the matter and relied on statistical procedures that are at best questionable in terms of application and methods. Of course, since I’m a “denier”, I’m cherry picking – but hey, that’s ok because guess who said “You have to pick cherries if you want to make a cherry pie”?
    Hypocracy – look it up. Then take a good look at climate science and especially the IPCCs “review” of it.

  87. David Ross
    March 16th, 2010 at 12:05 | #87

    @Freelander

    Shows how much you know about Mathematics.

    X = P / P * O / O * E / E * X

    P / P = 1

    O / O = 1

    E / E = 1

    So, X = 1 * 1 * 1 * X

    What is that saying, X = X!

    What does that tell us about X and any relationship to P, O or E??? Absolutely nothing!

    Emissions equals, well, damn it, emissions!

    Population, Output and Energy are just fillers in the equation to make you think they have some relationship to emissions, but there is *no* relationship at all in Quiggin’s “equation”.

    Change any one of O or P or E and there is no change in X.

    Freelander, that is the problem, it is a trivial statement dressed up as “maths”.

  88. Freelander
    March 16th, 2010 at 12:46 | #88

    Well. Someone had to have voted for Steve Fielding. Creationist. Young Earther. AGW denier. Dumber than a flatworm. And here they are. Look at the surprise when two sides of an equation (that uses an equals sign) turn out to be equal. All depends on who you trust. That is the dilemma of the Faith-based individual.

  89. smiths
    March 16th, 2010 at 12:54 | #89

    i keep asking what the AGW conspiracy is and no-one answers,
    at least if you ask a 9/11 skeptic what they believe they have an alternative narrative,
    can someone tell me?

  90. Fran Barlow
    March 16th, 2010 at 13:00 | #90

    @Freelander

    That’s true. (2500 or so) 0.08% of Victorians voted for Fielding, meaning that 99.92% didn’t.

  91. Freelander
    March 16th, 2010 at 13:18 | #91

    @David Ross

    ” Population, Output and Energy are just fillers in the equation to make you think they have some relationship to emissions, but there is *no* relationship at all in Quiggin’s “equation”. ”

    What would happen if the rate of emissions per unit of energy was zero? Would the equation still make sense? (Would it be the case that emissions would then be zero?) If there is no requirement for energy to produce output, or no emissions produced when producing energy would any emissions be produced? To someone smarter than an flatworm the equation says a lot. It says that the volume of emissions produced depend on the emissions produced per unit of energy and the amount of energy used per unit of output and so on. To those of us smarter than an flatworm and thus capable of interpreting the equation rather than simply manipulating symbols like a Turing machine the equation is quite informative. Probably even informative to the occasional reflective flatworm.

  92. Freelander
    March 16th, 2010 at 13:23 | #92

    I suppose if you are dumber than a flatworm you wouldn’t know when you have humiliated yourself? That must be the cost of entry to the denier club.

  93. Dave McRae
    March 16th, 2010 at 13:29 | #93

    That equation is known as the Kaya identity after Japanese energy economist Yoichi Kaya.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaya_identity

    It helps me to understand the problem more – what we want to do is drive carbon intensity of energy to zero. The other parameters are much harder to control, and in fact we wish for global per-capita GDP (G/P) to grow, and driving F/E (carbon intensity) to zero allows for this.

    And both sides of the equation are indeed equal – this is good – (a trick at high school maths and physics is to make sure your units on either side of any equations do equate and this makes passing those subjects much easier)

    Great article JQ, ta. I wonder if some the comments here indicate a poor level of education we have to overcome or if it’s just a small vocal mob.

  94. Freelander
    March 16th, 2010 at 13:32 | #94

    @Neil Fisher

    Hypocracy. I looked it up. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=hypocracy One definition not there but apt is: a Democracy where most voters are dumber than a flatworm.

  95. March 16th, 2010 at 13:32 | #95

    @smiths

    Try http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_conspiracy_theory

    It’s usually a incoherent mish-mash about a global government, socialism, anti-industrial hair shirt hippies, more money for lying hysterical scientists and higher taxes. I’ve found a few posters before who advanced multiple, and mutually exclusive, claims in the same post. It’s also just fragmented enough that anyone advancing it can jump from place to place, one day criticising the raw data’s validity, then the science, then the effectiveness of the solutions, next the politics and conflicting interests of proponents. It never gets consolidated into any coherent message.

    Questions of global coordination, taxes and funding for research are central to the whole debate, but I don’t get how it could be a coordinated (conscious or otherwise) conspiracy.

    I can understand how certain people can mis-use climate change to advance their own agenda, no problem. Happens all the time from all sides and we have to watch out for it.

    I don’t get how all these differing sections could have gotten together and made up data and analysis that then proves a false means for their ends.

  96. Paul Norton
    March 16th, 2010 at 13:39 | #96

    Further to Foib’s comment, @smiths could also find some fascinating examples of AGW conspiracy theorising at this link:

    http://www.hinterlandvoice.com.au/

  97. smiths
    March 16th, 2010 at 13:54 | #97

    thanks foib and paul
    paul, that site is bloody crazy, unbelievable stuff

  98. smiths
    March 16th, 2010 at 14:00 | #98

    its quite interesting that wiki page Foib,
    most of the people named in connection with one-world government are without doubt interested in such things, but the connection to climate science in this context is quite bizarre i think

  99. Paul Norton
    March 16th, 2010 at 14:10 | #99

    Yes, smiths #47, it certainly is – and the local Liberal-National Party State MP uses it to communicate with his constituents!

  100. smiths
    March 16th, 2010 at 14:19 | #100

    paul, that is unbelievable, i cracked up laughing when i read that

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