Friday, 16 May 2014

Matt Ridley - Times Makes A Fool Of Him

If only he had waited 24 hours, Matt Ridley might not have looked quite so stupid.  But there was a bit of the comment section of The Times to fill and the editor wanted his 500 words pronto so there was nothing he could do.  The Times waits for no man.

What Ridley produced has been proven, in some respects at least, to have been a bag of rather smelly and unpleasant wind.  The Chunderer was delivered of a bouncy pile of steaming egg on face.

The Times must have known it was taking a gamble by putting Lennart Bengtsson's whinge on its front page.  Quoting the usually unpublished referee's report on his mysteriously "supressed" paper opened up a can of worms.  The IoP, publishers of the journal that Bengtsson submitted his paper to, felt obliged to put the quote in context.  The Times and Matt Ridley now look rather stupid because when one reads the whole review, with the quote Bengtsson was relying on to prove his case that he was hard done by now in context, it is easy to see how. The paper wasn't up to standard.  That happens.  A lot.  That's what peer review is meant to do - stop substandard science appearing in print.  See Eli or Anders.

"This bullying of climate-science sceptics must end" is the headline of the Ridley piece in question.  There is a quote picked out that is, perhaps, the moral of my story:
When did demonising your opponents become so acceptable?
Well, Matt, perhaps you can tell me?  I've spent many a pleasant hour reading the arguments on threads at a variety of sites (some of which are on my blogroll for you to peruse too).  I prefer true sceptical sites over the pseudo versions because I am interested in learning the science, not learning human nature.  But I have posted on some "sceptical" sites and I have met with almost abuse when I have suggested that a commenter might be wrong.  This is small fry.

Larger fry are linked below:


http://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/mar/03/michael-mann-climate-change-deniers

http://grist.org/news/here-are-some-of-the-death-threats-sent-to-a-climate-scientist/

http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2011/06/climate-change-deniers-attack-messenger

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-06/battle-over-climate-change

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-10/climate-scientists-face-organized-harassment-in-u-s-.html

The Climate Wars are clearly asymmetrical.  The science side has to play by the rules.  The deniers, well, they can do what they want.  Is that what Ridley means?

It seems that Ridley has swallowed the GWPF line (well, he would, wouldn't he - he works for them, for free) and accepts that Bengtsson was bullied.  Perhaps not.  The IoP statement doesn't suggest any bullying - merely a substandard piece of work being returned.  Happens. 

And work colleagues can change their attitudes to you based on your new bunch of friends not being to their liking.  Happens.  Bullying?  It doesn't sound like bullying.  It sounds like something a reasonable and rational human being might do.  Bengtsson doesn't bring much evidence to support his complaint about bullying.

Ridley moans:
What's going on in academia when demonising and silencing your opponents has become so acceptable?
Well, Matt.  It doesn't appear that it has.  In fact, the world will find it a near impossible task to silence someone if they want to disseminate their views, however odious they might be.  The Internet has seen to that.  And pay per publish journals sometimes don't have the greatest regard to the quality of what they publish.  And if that fails, set up your own journal.

And it would appear that Bengtsson isn't on such bad terms with his colleagues after all.

Like I said, time makes a fool of us all.  Taking a little moment to consider one's response is very handy.  Ridley has ended up with egg on his face because he took the reflex action rather than reflect.  And in using his own inflammatory language, words like "bullied", "demonising", "persecution", suggests Ridley isn't interested in pouring oil on troubled waters.  He wants to make them choppier.  After all, anyone who can say
The GWPF aims to ensure that the climate change debate is more balanced
with a straight face, isn't likely to be believed.   And have time to throw doubt on the consensus without having the guts to say so.

Since we need a laugh (I know others have included this but it bears repetition):

No comments:

Post a comment