Wednesday, 28 August 2013

“Concern should drive us into action, not into a depression.”

Lord Monckton must be having a boring holiday.  He must have finished the latest Dan Brown and the J K Rowling thing published anonymously (though he can't tell Anthony Watts that because he doesn't like pseudonymns). So he is filling his endless days on the beach, swathed in factor 50, with his laptop and typing random drivel as it enters his cerebellum.

And today's offering introduces us to another bunch of people you might want to cross the street to avoid, the World Federation Of Scientists, a group so important that they don't have a Wikipedia page.  Now that's important.  Even I have an entry (all right, I'll admit that it isn't actually me, but it is as accurate as claiming to be a member of the House of Lords when you have been told, by the House of Lords itself, that you are not).

Anyway, the WFS are an organisation, rather like International Rescue (not the David Milliband one), to save the planet. But we can all relax just a little bit more because an organisation that counted the 3rd Viscount of Brenchley amongst its speakers in 2012 has decided to reassure us that the planet is safe.  Global warming is not an emergency.

In fact, no less a personage than Vaclav Klaus said in 2012:
“Current as well as realistically foreseeable global warming, and especially Man’s contribution to it, is not a planetary emergency which should bother us. … My reading both of the available data and of conflicting scientific arguments and theories allows me to argue that it is not global warming caused by human activity that is threatening us.” [this quote is from WUWT so I don't have a clue what is hidden by the ...]
 Not sure I'd treat this man as a reliable witness on this matter but there you go.  I don't hang around with this crowd.

Since I can't find anything other than Monckton's screed at WUWT about the 2013 meeting, I can only comment on the 2012 meeting's program.  It is not your usual conference of scientists.  Unlike Tamsin Edwards, there is a lot of advocacy going on.  And some of the usual suspects are hanging around:

Professor Christopher Essex
Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Western Ontario, Canada

The Baron Lawson of Blaby, Lord Nigel Lawson
House of Lords, Former Chancellor of the Exchequer, UK
Rational Climate Economics 
Nigel Lawson, in pinstripe suit, listens attentively to Lord Monckton's speech
The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley
Director, Monckton Enterprises Ltd., UK
 And I am sure there is more.

Anyway, it's not all about climate change.  Oh, no.  WFS is concerned with all sorts of things, like transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (that's mad cow disease to the rest of us).  Well, BSE hasn't gone away but it isn't the threat it once promised it might be.  Still, someone has to sit on a committee at a fairly unimportant organisation to pontificate on it.  Much better is the committee formed to study meteorite strikes - now we know they can cause damage and one day will be a real emergency. 
Christopher Essex (from DesmogBlog)

The climatology panel is interesting: Christopher Essex.  And, er, that's it.  The thing is currently being revised.  And this year Essex reassures us that global warming is not an emergency.  So that's one less thing for him to do: chair a committee of which he seems to be the only member.

Monckton relates that:
Professor Essex pointed out that history had shown illegitimate political movements inventing false emergencies to bypass democratic constraints on their quest for absolute power.
Note this is not a direct quote so we can't be sure this is exactly what he said but it is interesting that there seems to be a strange use of words here.  If the aim of Essex's committee is to decide on the impact of climate change, then what's the "historical" statement got to do with it?  Oh, I forgot.  The art of climate change denial is not about the science but about the politics.  Shame Monckton didn't give us an example or two to judge for ourselves what is meant but if he wasn't thinking of Kristallnacht then I'll be shocked.

A direct quote suggests that the intellect that is Chris Essex hadn't quite thought through what he said:
“Human societies have lived and thriven under every conceivable climate, and modern technology makes adaptation to changing weather conditions entirely routine.” 
Every "conceivable climate"?  Really.  I can conceive of one which has a much higher concentration of sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere, producing acidic rain of pH 1.  I don't think humans have lived more than the odd day through that.  And certainly not over a large area with prolonged effects on plants and their habitats.  Now if he had said probably climates then I would perhaps concede the point but he didn't, so I can take things to extremes.  So how about a climate where the temperature never goes above -20C ever.  That one might take some technological adaptation to overcome.  And, of course, there is that magic word "weather".  Try telling those affected by floods, or the dead from heatwaves and cold snaps that it is entirely routine.  Or tornadoes or hurricanes or any of the other extreme weathers you can think of.  Adaptation is possible in some cases, but even then they don't always work. 

Typically, falsehoods get repeated:
On behalf of the climate monitoring panel, Professor Essex also spoke up for scientists who have been bullied, threatened or even dismissed for having dared to question the Party Line on climate. He said: “Our greatest concern at present is that the intellectual climate for scientific investigation of these matters has become so hostile and politicized that the necessary research and debate cannot freely take place.
“Political constraints take the form of declaring the underlying science to be settled when it clearly is not; defunding or denigrating research that is perceived to threaten the case for renewable energy; or the use of odious pejoratives like “denialist” to describe dissent from officially-sanctioned views on climate science.”
I think we can conclude, on the basis of what Monckton tells us that climate change is not an emergency if that's what your ideology says.  That the great and good of the WFS can't see when someone is a serial miscreant (or did he mean that Dr Salby is a martyr for not bothering to teach classes, ignoring his employer's instructions and doing some distinctly dodgy things with grant money - yes, funding).

But of course the whole meeting wasn't about uncovering truths, it was about revelations of ideologies.  If it wasn't then Essex would have said different things.

To finish, Lord Monckton: here's some holiday reading you might want to do before your EasyJet takes you back to Stansted...

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

How a climate science "skeptic" reads a scientific paper

PZ Myers at Pharyngula linked to this so I have as well. Read it. It should be required reading for all deniers of all those areas of science where the detritivores hang out, getting their studio tans and hearing the echo of their own opinions. As a result of reading how to read a scientific paper, I thought I would see how this compares to how climate change deniers read them.

So I asked a fictional denier what they did when confronted by a peer reviewed paper from a reputable journal.

1 Reading the introduction - um, it only has the abstract on the Internet but that's all I need anyway, isn't it?

2 What is the paper about? - it's about the fraud of man made climate change so I know the paper isn't telling the truth. I don't need to read the whole paper to know that.

3 What work has been done already on this area? - does it matter, it's all faked up to get a grant anyway.

4 What precisely is the aim if this bit of research? - to get more funding to do more fraudulent research.

5 What did the scientists actually do? - don't ask me, I'm not interested in their methods since I know they faked it all anyway.

6 What results did they get? - the ones they wanted, obviously, since they made it up. And using fancy mathematics doesn't fool me, I can use Excel.

7 What do the conclusions say? - what you would expect them to say since they are frauds who make the results up and ignore urban heat islands or something like that. Since there has been no warming for (insert random number here) months/weeks/days it doesn't matter anyway.

8 what do other researchers say about this paper? - I do this because I read the comments section on WattsUpWithThat so I know that everyone thinks the paper is rubbish, except for a couple of trolls who ask questions or point out mistakes but they don't matter because sooner or later Smokey or Anthony will snip them for being right, I mean rude.

9 Who wrote it? - this bit makes it easy to tell whether it is true or not. If any of these names appears as an author, I can be confident that the paper is wrong:Mann, Hansen, Gleick, well any scientist with. Proper qualifications except Spencer and Pielke father and son.  Simple.

So there you have it. The typical denier, let's call him James D to preserve his anonymity, doesn't read scientific papers because they don't appear in full on the net all the time and they are written by Michael Mann.

Now if they follow the instructions and actually read the papers properly, deniers will learn something and might just understand why they have a table to themselves in the pub.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Pseudologia fantastica, a possible case

No one, in my opinion, is better able to sum up a medical case, solve it and save the patient more brilliantly than Dr Gregory House. And nothing he has ever done was better than his summation of human behaviour than that everybody lies.  I suspect they do, but most people give up their lies when they get caught out lying and publicly have it pointed out.

Though not everyone. Now, I am no more a psychiatrist than I am a climate scientist so you can take or leave my opinion on these matters, but I am beginning to wonder if Christopher Monckton, 3rd Vicount of Brenchley, might be a pathological liar.  Strong stuff, I know, but you have to think twice when someone has their lies corrected and yet continues to repeat them.

On WUWT today Monckton repeats his attack on Michael Mann that I dissected the other day. He hasn't changed an typing that I can tell and still gets humpy about being told he is not a member of the House of Lords.  He isn't. He never has been. The law changed before he inherited the title and the composition of the House of Lords was altered, not without controversy, to become a little more like the twenty first century democracy that the United Kingdom says it is.

If he doesn't want to believe me, he ought to believe this from the Clerk of the Parliaments. I think it is clear that Monckton has been told t stop repeats his claim and that was made clear to him in 2011. Well, it's two years later and he is still doing it. 

As I said, I'm not a psychiatrist but I do know how to spot a lie - it's when someone says something they know is untrue. Christopher Monckton keeps doing that. There's more all over the net on this odious man but this link is amusing and factual (and contains a better cartoon than any by Tosh over at WUWT).

Update: here is he judgement in the Mereworth v Ministry of Justice case that is the basis for the statement that Monckton is not a member of the Housenof Lords (and thus should stop claiming otherwise). Pretty definitive if you ask my untrained legal mind. Monckton did ask a legal brain for their opinion and got a piece of paper with no force at all saying just what he wanted. I am guessing that Monckton decided not to throw money earned selling puzzles on the basis of this opinion because I haven't found any trace of such a case. If Monckton had won, we'd never hear the last of it.
There is more at HotWhopper and Wotts Up With That Blog

Further Update: Monckton got an opinion from a legal mind known as Hugh O'Donoghue, described as a leading constitutional expert on WUWT.  Not by himself though. Click that link and you can read his CV.

Denying the obvious

Some years ago, a young woman I knew was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a horrible prognosis because she had sat on the knowledge she had a lump and not got medical treatment soon enough. Although she faced up to her fate with calm bravery, all her friends were frustrated at the delay she had given herself before she went to see her doctor. That time was crucial. It might have saved her life had she gone to seek treatment or at least a proper diagnosis sooner.

She was frightened at what she might find out. To be honest, so would I be. Cancer is not a light, happy diagnosis. It is a terrifying one and although modern medicine is fantastic and keeps cancer patients alive and in better health for much long, there is always the chance that it is cancer that will claim the patient in the end. My day's oncologist told me that if you are unlucky to have a prediction for cancer, you are likely to keep developing cancers the longer you live.

There is no benefit in being in cancer denial.

Reality gets in the way. Sooner or later the truth finds you out.  The same is true of climate change. It is somehow comforting to be told that there is no problem, and even if there is one it isn't bad, and even if it is bad it won't be as bad as a thousand years ago and even if it is that bad the dinosaurs.... You get the picture.

Bad news is news. Good news usually isn't, not in the press anyway. A few years back, when the Met Office made a comment in a press release about a barbecue summer coming up, it only became news when the weather turned bad. This summer was quite a hot one where I was in the UK. But several days of warm weather in June are still not news. A heat wave is because such weather is dangerous. People do die at a higher rate in heat waves than in averagely warm weather.  The same applies to cold weather. Cold snaps are more lethal than a chilly spell.  Mild weather is no headline grabber.

To link the two. Climate denial websites choose their news and present it in the way they want in order to have the biggest impact with their readership. We can tell how closely the readership actually reads what is written by checking the number of comments that are devoid of, er, comment. Just saying "Good post" isn't really much information, is it? By trying to avoid mention of the heat wave that covered much of Europe this summer, sites like WUWT are missing the point - hot weather is increasingly common and increasingly extreme. I remember the UK summer of 1976 which is the one that is always mentioned. Hardly anyone seems to recall 1983 which was hotter. Let's not bring u those inconvenient facts because they might threaten our case. Deniers bury their heads in the sand. Eventually the reality of climate change, so far so gradual, will become so obvious that even the deniers, those still alive because plenty are advancing in years, will be unable to avoid agreeing that it is happening.

I shall nail my point home. Cancer and climate change are gradual processes. They begin slowly and imperceptibly. But events accelerate. Lumps get bigger and spread. The surface temperature is increasing and will continue to do so, even if such radical action is taken to stop all human releases of carbon dioxide now. If those thin skinner deniers want to complain that I have compared them to people who deny they have cancer then so what.  As their odious and bellicose champion in the blogs section of the Daily Telegraph, James Delingpole, should know, this writing trick (oh, the Mann made comments to come) is one that so many great essayists have used, I feel compelled to, ever so humbly, copy.

If you do stumble upon his blog and are skeptical of climate change, please educate yourself with a bit of reading of my blog roll links. You will learn something and you will become a wiser person as a result. Don't stick your head in the sand and hope the problem goes away. It won't and it will probably get worse.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Nice people #94 - Willard Anthony Watts

I am away at the moment taking my dad on a farewell tour so I have missed Willard's latest example of gross rudeness if not hypocrisy.  He has listed some sites that obviously are getting under his non-pachyderm skin and outed one of the anonymous proprietors of his nemeses.  You can find out here.

 The purpose of my mini post is to stand tall with those Watts has listed, and recommend them over the fake skeptics' site of choice, WUWT. Willard is an odious man. His hounding of Michael Mann and others shows a character in search of something a little more, let's say, moral. His inability to understand the English language is crass. I have never met him. Perhaps he is a charming man, but I am not likely to believe it from the evidence I see before me on his site day after day. He tolerates the whimsical ramblings of Willis Eschenbach, the known lies of Christopher Monckton, and the conspiracy freak comments of a horde of anonymous commenters. Fancy that. I've used the word hypocrisy or its siblings a lot on this blog recently. In Willard Anthony Watts I have exhibit #94.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Reality - Learn English with Anthony Watts

Oh dear. 
Education standards must be slipping, especially in English, especially in the good ol' US of A.

Or as someone educated might say: Ego eam propter me excludunt et substituunt res.

Al Gore has been interviewed in the Washington Post. Predictably, Anthony Watts and the crew take umbrage at some of the words used.  Specifically:
I think you can guess the rest.  Except, of course, it's not what Al Gore actually says.
Al Gore fails to suppress a yawn at the latest WUWT drivel
Here are the offending passages which I've picked out in blue so you don't have to look too hard:
"EK: Give me the optimistic scenario on what happens next. If all goes well, what do the next few years look like on this issue?
AG: Well, I think the most important part of it is winning the conversation. I remember as a boy when the conversation on civil rights was won in the South. I remember a time when one of my friends made a racist joke and another said, hey man, we don’t go for that anymore. The same thing happened on apartheid. The same thing happened on the nuclear arms race with the freeze movement. The same thing happened in an earlier era with abolition. A few months ago, I saw an article about two gay men standing in line for pizza and some homophobe made an ugly comment about them holding hands and everyone else in line told them to shut up. We’re winning that conversation.
The conversation on global warming has been stalled because a shrinking group of denialists fly into a rage when it’s mentioned. It’s like a family with an alcoholic father who flies into a rage every time a subject is mentioned and so everybody avoids the elephant in the room to keep the peace. But the political climate is changing. Something like Chris Hayes’s excellent documentary on climate change wouldn’t have made it on TV a few years ago. And as I said, many Republicans who’re still timid on the issue are now openly embarrassed about the extreme deniers. The deniers are being hit politically. They’re being subjected to ridicule, which stings. The polling is going back up in favor of doing something on this issue. The ability of the raging deniers to stop progress is waning every single day."
So what is Al Gore actually saying.  He's saying that attitudes change.  In his lifetime he has seen attitudes change on civil rights, apartheid, homosexuality.  He isn't saying that climate change skeptics or deniers are racist or homophobic or support nuclear weapons or anything of the kind. He's pointing out that times change and people change with them.  Our ever so sensitive friends at WattsWrongWithThat will get offended because, in a strange kind of way, it seems to be a hobby.  How dare you tell us we are wrong?  How dare you talk in that way?  It's a means to control the argument which, as you recall, is scientifically dead for them because it's been sorted and measured and modelled to the satisfaction of 97% of the world's relevant scientists.
Ah, you say, what about the alcoholic father? You haven't mentioned him. The preceding sentence is important: "The conversation ... has stalled because a shrinking group of denialists fly into a rage when it's mentioned." Then Gore uses a simile to explain talk about their behaviour.  Deniers are not like alcoholics.  The media are like the family with the alcoholic father.  The media doesn't mention the subject of climate change because they know that there's going to be a kurfuffle.  The deniers will crawl out of the woodwork and turn any sensible discussion into an insult fest - insulting in words and intelligence.  The deniers behave like the alcoholic father.
Typically, Willard doesn't see it that way and doesn't like his version questioned:
Margaret Hardman says:
Once again the headline and the story don’t match.
REPLY: once again, your perception and reality don’t match – Anthony

But never let reality get in the way of a chance to be offended. Reality check over

Monday, 19 August 2013

A man is known by the company he keeps

Today on WUWT Anthony Watts posts his talk to the organisation Doctors For Disaster Preparedness.  Nope, I'd never heard of them either. 

Anyway, before I get onto the good Doctors, a little word about the video.  It's been online since 13 July which makes you wonder why Watts didn't puff it before.  Perhaps because it isn't very interesting. Perhaps, get this, because it wasn't even original.  He says he stole borrowed the idea from Matt Ridley.  Not perhaps the best source.

Anyway, enough of that.  What else do Doctors For Disaster Preparedness do?  Organises conferences and puts out a newsletter.  From what I can tell, the organisation is against AGW and veers very close to being antivax as well.  The latter is very strange for a bunch of doctors, but then I don't think this is really about medicine, although their conference in July this year had a day's course on mass trauma.  That's the sort of thing I would expect them to be doing.  But the main bunch of talks were about:
8:00 am
Five or More Failed Experiments in Measuring Global Sea Level Change. Willie Soon, Ph.D.
9:00 am
Planning and Design of Habitats in Space and Other Extreme Environments. Larry Bell, Ph.D.
10:15 am
Three False Foundations of Sustainable Development. Steve Goreham.
11:15 am
The Ten Tests to Determine Whether You Should Be Concerned about Global Warming. Anthony Watts.
12:15 pm
Lunch: Pursuing the Truth on the Kennedy Assassinations. Donald W. Miller, M.D.

2:00 pm
Bioweapons: The Bad and the Ugly (There Is No Good). Lee D. Hieb, M.D.
3:00 pm
EPA Exposed: the Economic Predation Administration. Howard Maccabee, Ph.D., M.D.
4:00 pm
How Commercial Jets Are Made Safer (and Improving Your Own Safety and Comfort). Gordon Claycomb.

6:30 pm
Reception and Banquet. Mars in 39 Days?: the VASIMR Plasma Engine. Franklin Chang-Diaz, Ph.D.

Sunday, July 14, 2013
8:00 am
-Based Forecasting for Global Warming. J. Scott Armstrong, Ph.D.
9:00 am
Why “Clean” Energy Won’t Reduce CO2 Emissions by Much. Herbert Inhaber, Ph.D.
10:15 am
NIPCC to IPCC: Why Does Obama Continue to Prioritize Climate Change? S. Fred Singer, Ph.D.
11:15 am
Vulnerabilities in the U.S. Financial System. Kevin D. Freeman, CFA..
12:15 pm
. Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalism and the Cult of Anti-Humanism. Robert Zubrin, Ph.D
2:00 pm
Expanding “Depletable” Resources: Julian Simon Lives! Robert L. Bradley, Jr.
3:00 pm
The Nuclear Energy Future: Thorium Reactors? Matthew Robinson.
4:00 pm
Quashing Fake Silicosis and Lupus Epidemics and Putting out Huge Fires. Harrison Brundage.
Just the sorts of things hard working physicians should be spending their time (and $250 entrance fee) on - nuclear energy, the Kennedy assassination, climate change, the US financial system, climate change, climate change...  I am beginning to wonder if this is really about medicine.  No, wait.  The last talk has a medical point and mentions a kind of disaster as well.  Money well spent after all.

What's this?
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) will supply a certificate of participation for up to 5 hours of CME credit for Friday’s course and 15 hours for the meeting. This is not accredited as AMA/ACCME “Category 1,” but is accepted in some states for at least part of the CME requirement for license renewal. 

If you do the Friday first aid course, you get some credits for the training.  If you do the whole weekend, you get 20 credits in total, that won't be accepted by the American Medical Association or the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education but might be useful in some states as part of the necessary training to renew your licence.  Not really much use then, if you actually are a doctor.

That's because the AAPS is the American Association Of Physicians And Surgeons and that's not really a  medical organisation either.  It's another of those groups that don't really seem to exist in the UK, though I may be wrong, that are based on a libertarian/conservative set of ideas and purvey contrarian, if not outright denialist, views on a number of things.  It publishes the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons which doesn't have the same reputation as, say, Nature or Science. In fact, some of what it has published is rather wacky.  AIDS denialism for one.  Don't need to believe me, try here.

So I don't think the real aim of these two organisations, that share the same address, is actually saving lives and making people better.  As a result, my title here is apt: Anthony Watts talks to these people, and these people have some very weird (in some cases racist) views.  Nothing to do with evidence based medicine but everything to do with ideology.  And our deniers skeptical friends wonder why they don't get the respect they think they deserve.  What does it tell you about Watts in particular, climate science deniers in general?  I leave it to you to make up your mind.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Forget personalities, science is about truth - yeah, right, Lord Monckton

Lord Monckton, definitely not a scientist
Update 20 August 2013:
Obviously the editor doesn't frequent this blog as the Richmond Times-Despatch has put Monckton's drivel on its website . Perhaps a letter pointing out Monckton's mistakes would be in order.  Check the comments though.

Before you think I have let go of my senses, I reproduce the following letter, sent presumably to the editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch but which isn't on their website as far as I can tell.  Advice to the editor - screw it up and bin it.  I shall interleave Monckton's words with some of my own (in green). The letter that gets Monckton hot under the collar is here.  The Charles Battig letter that started it all is here.
Michael Mann, definitely a scientist

Monckton to Mann: Forget personalities, science is about truth

Source: Christopher Monckton
The Editor, Richmond Times-Dispatch, August 15, 2013.
Charles Battig did a great service to your readers by spreading truth about the now-collapsed climate scare. Michael Mann’s criticisms of him (August 5) were ill-founded. Attorney General Cuccinelli investigated Mr Mann under the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act 2000 because of what I shall delicately call the statistical peculiarities evident in Mr Mann’s “hockey stick” graph that had purported to abolish the medieval warm period and to show – falsely – that today’s quite normal global temperatures were unprecedented in 1300 years. [Well, he did investigate but it was a huge damp squib rather than an exciting outcome for the deniers full story here.  I note that Cuccinelli is himself under unvestigation]
Mr Mann’s graph relied heavily upon the widths of tree-rings from bristlecone pines as a basis for estimating temperatures before we had thermometers, although these pines are unreliable proxies because the tree-rings widen not only when the weather is warmer but also when it is wetter and when there is more CO2 in the air. That kinda musses things up. [You can read Mann's 1998 paper here. These words from the paper are particularly apt in the light of Monckton's criticism: "Potential limitations specific to each type of proxy data series must be carefully taken into account in building an appropriate network." Kinda shows that Mann & al were aware there were limitations to the data.  That's what real scientists do. Talking of which...]

According to real scientists [the heading on the SPPI website is "Forget personalities, science is about truth" - an objective that doesn't last long coming out of Monckton's fingers.  Besides, Mann's list of qualifications is pretty lengthy.  Monckton's less so, and certainly lacking in science.] , the graph also gave extreme weighting to datasets that showed unusual 20th-century warming at the expense of those that did not [are there any datasets that truly show anything different?  After all, they can't all be wrong, surely, Lord M?]. And the program that Mr Mann created to draw the graph would have shown the 20th century as unusually warm even if random red noise rather than real-world data were fed in. There were numerous other statistical curiosities. [That rather accuses Mann of scientific fraud, which the scientific community would have drummed him out for, but they haven't.] Mr Mann’s graph is perhaps the most laughable and widely-discredited object in the history of bad science supporting worse politics. [That's Monckton's choice of colour, that red, not mine. Just saying that sentence you can hear the bile and anger, and also the sheer wrongness of it. I mean, there are plenty of exceptionally better discredited "objects" in science, Piltdown fossils, for example, than Mann's hockey stick graph which, incidently, has been supported by other studies.  Just like real scientists.]
Most learned papers based on real-world data show that the medieval warm period was real, global, and warmer than the present [Don't think they do, Christoper.]. A spate of papers by computer modelers apparently confirming Mr Mann’s contrarian [definition - someone who goes against the prevailing wisdom of the day. That would, aside from being another ad hominem, be a better description of Monckton, not Mann.] conclusion appeared with interesting suddenness after his paper was scientifically discredited. Many of the authors, according to an independent statistical report for the House Energy & Commerce Committee in 2006, were linked to Mr Mann by previous co-authorship. Hmmm. Here is at least part of Mann's testimony. Make of it what you will. The ad hominem "Hmmm" is another of Monckton's rhetorical acts.]

Mr Battig did not criticize Mr Mann for his bad personality [Perhaps not, but Monckton hangs that one there without any evidence besides the following clause, nicely picked out in bold in the original], though Mr Mann’s characteristically malevolent description of his opponents as “deniers” and “denialists” several times in his letter of reply would be illegal in Europe as being anti-Jewish, racialist hate-speech disrespectful of Holocaust victims [Just where to begin.  The use of the word denier is not illegal in Europe.  How can it be?  Holocaust denialism is illegal in some European countriesBut using the word itself, you wouldn't get far pursuing a prosecution for that.  Then, of course, there are those deniers themselves who have compared environmentalists to the Hitler Youth. Who could that be?  Oh, yes, step forward Lord Monckton.] Certainly no real scientist would use such language [Here's a link to the hypocritical Anthony Watts who will allow comments about Nuremburg style crimes against humanity trials but bans the word denier. And who says real scientists cannot use the word?  Not you, Chrissy Boy.]. Mr Battig criticized Mr Mann for his flagrantly bad science, not his flagrantly bad manners. Science is not about personalities. It is about seeking truth. Mr Mann’s graph was not true [Once again the bold is Monckton's and once again what Monckton says is a lie.  Mann's graph has withstood 15 years of fake skepticism and has been supported time and again by other studies]. It was not science [No bold this time but equally wrong. Of course it was science, just read the original paper and you can see how it is cautious not to overstate the case]. It deserved criticism. It got it [and still gets it but hasn't been debunked, as the deniers would like].
 Besides, according to the satellites, notwithstanding record increases in CO2 concentration there has been no global warming at all for 16 years 8 months – and counting [Shout the lie often and loud enough and someone will be gullible enough to believe you. Read this instead. Sober, evidence based and correct.]. That is 200 months without so much as a flicker of global warming. The game is up and the scare is over.

Yours faithfully,
Monckton of Brenchley
Was there any point bothering with this dissection?  In one respect, no, because Monckton will repeat these lies again and again and again.  Monckton has been disingenuous here, he won't really care about what I think. But if no one takes a stand, well, there is that Holocaust sermon. Science deniers often have a deeper agenda.  One world government anyone?
Monckton doesn't care what anyone thinks really. Witness the use of the swastika and the accusation of fascism against one Australian politician.  I've used this blog to call out hypocrisy a number of times recently.  Well, here's another one.  Christopher, 3rd viscount of Monckton, is happy enough to throw in the ad hominems, even under the cloak of arguing that it is the science that matters.  And, of course, he is a science denier.  And so is his chum, Charles Battig, seen below at a Heartland climate conference.  Birds of a feather...

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Teddy Bears' Picnic

Hat tip to Sou at HotWhopper.

Denier David Archibald posted some stream of consciousness stuff about Google in which he admitted watching this video.

Well, here's a rebuttal...

Nice to see the female character actually being the intelligent one after all.

Crimes against humanity - a [climate] reality check

CAUTION: this post will be calling out some stupidity.  It is not a Holocaust denial post or anything like it.  My aim here is to show some sloppy thinking about climate change to be exactly that.

There is a book that is most illuminating: Atrocitology that I heartily recommend as a palliative to the ignorance meeted out by some climate change deniers.  I won't use my own words when those of some commenters on WattsUpWithThat can do it for me nicely:
The IPCC are nothing but a gang of criminals, guilty of crimes against humanity.
Margaret Hardman says:
August 16, 2013 at 2:08 pm
There is abundant evidence in support of Mr. Cobb’s statement, although “all” might not be as robustly supported. There might still be some real scientists involved in IPCC, who haven’t yet given up all hope in its plainly anti-scientific endeavor.
Really.  Abundant evidence.  That pair thinks so.

I did a Google search and beyond the fake conspiracy story that was Climategate, I can't turn up any real evidence.  A day in court on the thin gruel that the deniers claim is abundant won't be a very long one.  I can't see a judge, faced with one side of double spaced typing on A4, to spend too much time listening to arguments. It doesn't add up to so much as a bean, let alone a hill of them.

Yet this is something that the deniers like to state time and again.  Here is James Delingpole having to defend himself against a similar accusation earlier this year when, to be fair, he only makes himself look foolish once again. It is easy to put up the accusation, much, much harder to provide any evidence.  Which is why they don't, because there just isn't any.

On the other hand, the top ten atrocities committed by humans in history are listed here: I won't spoil it for you by revealing the number one but I am pretty certain you can work it out for yourself.

Anyway, there is a technical definition of crimes against humanity and the work of the Independent Panel on Climate Change is hardly likely ever to come close to meeting it.  Even the Climategate fuss has been thoroughly debunked, trashed and shown up for what it was.  A fuss over nothing.  But deniers aren't bothered by the truth or such niceties as evidence.  Otherwise there wouldn't be clips like these:

For the second one, you can scroll to the last five minutes or so for Lord Monckton's unevidenced statements on scientific fraud.

And these are some easily found examples. 

As for evidence that global warming is being caused by human induced changes to the atmosphere.  Milondonharlani won't read this but go to skepticalscience.  Linky on the right.

To sum up: crimes against humanity are serious matters.  Real fraud is also a serious matter.  The aim of the deniers is not to create a scientific case for their version of events, but to create doubt.  If the public is persuaded to think perhaps there is something in this, then perhaps I shouldn't believe the science either.  As Professor Iain Stewart says at the end of the Climate Wars clip (the second one), if you hear these sorts of charges, you know the scientific argument has been won.  So little of the reason for climate science denial seems to rest on the actual science.  It so often seems to rest on the "fear" of a new world government, a socialist conspiracy, extra taxes or something else that is neither science nor, very often, more than a fog of paranoia.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Learning math with Anthony Watts

OK, children.  Today we are going to do a simple exercise with percentages.  What does 95% actually mean?

Let me give a bit of context first.  Here is a sentence with the number 95% in it?  We need to try to work out what that means in this sentence.

Drafts seen by Reuters of the study by the U.N. panel of experts, due to be published next month, say it is at least 95 percent likely that human activities – chiefly the burning of fossil fuels – are the main cause of warming since the 1950s.
Does it mean:
  a) 95% of scientists think human activities are causing global warming, or
  b) there is a 19 out of 20 chance that observed warming is the result of human activities.

You're ahead of me, of course the answer is (a).  At least it is if you are Willard Anthony Watts.   Why else would you conflate a 95% probability with an observed 97% consensus in this headline@

The IPCC’s new certainty is 95% What? Not 97%??

Because Willard doesn't read, doesn't take time to consider what he's writing and doesn't stop to check.  And the duck in an echoic chamber that he operates prattles on without thinking too. Or is it so his Wattbot commenters can just make the usual head nodding murmurs and give their assent to his jottings.  For the best science site in the world, it sure is sloppy.

Just in case you didn't get the point, here's Willard's worked example (for those that also missed it, Riger Pielke Sr dissented from the AGU statement the other week, the only one of the 15 who signed it off):
That “squeeze out” is about right, look at Dr. Roger Pielke’s minority view with the AGU:
His minority view was one of 15 people that made the statement.
That works out to about a 7% minority view (or 93% majority) on that panel
No, Anthony.  It's not about the numbers of people who believe global warming is caused by us.  It's about how sure we are that global warming is caused by us. 

Will Willard post a correction when someone points out his schoolboy error?  Don't bet on it.  Bet instead on Essex in the T20 finals tomorrow.  You won't win your money back but at least you will have made someone else slightly richer.  One is a number as well.  Eventually, climate change denial will fizzle because the evidence, already overwhelming, will reach into the grey cells of even those hardest cases.  And of course, Orwell knew what a minority of one meant.

By the way, Italy was ruddy hot.  Hotter than average.  I haven't seen too many posts on the skeptical sites mentioning the European heatwaves this summer.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Takes one to know one

Our educated friends over at WUWT are making merry with a piece at The Daily Caller (nope, I'd never heard of it either) that calls Michael E Mann AB, MS, MPhil (phys), MPhil (geology), PhD a charlatan. That's someone who claims more knowledge or expertise than they actually have. Totally unlike, for example, Willard Anthony Watts who never seems to have finished his bachelor degree. Or Christopher Monckton who claims to have developed a snake oil derivative that can cure any number of diseases. Amongst a whole litany of other things, including claiming to have been a Nobel Prize winner, a sitting member of the House of Lords and so on. Or Willis Eschenbach, whose qualifications lie in massage and psychology. Or any number of other guest contributors to Watts's anti-science site. But, as he said only a few weeks ago, argue the science, not the man. Nice one, Anthony. If you did only argue the science then I might have more respect but you don't. Isn't that hypocrisy?

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Return Of Lord Monckton

Bow before your master, plebeians, Lord Monckton, the 3rd viscount in the long dynasty going all the way back to the 1950s, has returned from his self-imposed exile in wherever and has decided to tell the learned folk of the American Geophysical Union where they have gone wrong. I am sure they are quaking in their boots. I am sure they are scared witless to be lectured by the extremely learned (classics something from Cambridge) peer whose previous error strewn pronouncements have been eviscerated well by those with the ability and time to track down the references (although he is pretty good with references, Monckton sometimes has to have them prised from his sticky fingers). But isn't that typical of deniers? They feel they have the right to lecture those scientists who do spend their time working on this problem, discussing it in the coffee breaks and dinner queues, attending real as opposed to phoney (Heartland?) conferences and becoming real experts. Sorry, Lord Monckton, I don't listen to a word you say unless I have checked it. Even the rounding up of pre-industrial levels of carbon dioxide betrays a sloppiness, at best, with the facts. Read the AGU statement on climate change for the real thing, supported by evidence and reason. Not the phoney version on WUWT rewritten by Monckton.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Willis Eschenbach has a plan

I link you to Sou at Hot Whopper because I can't say it any better. Willis Eschenbach, regular guest poster at Watts Up With That, has taken it upon himself to lecture the new editor at science, one of the top scientific journals in the world. PZ at Pharyngula also has his take. The whiff of condescension is overwhelming. You'd think that a fully qualified masseur has every right to tell a highly qualified scientist how to run their new job, if you were delusional. But in the real world I sniff a new line of attack. If the deniers can get the climate scientists to shut up explaining their science and its implications to the public, it leaves the field free to dismal Oxbridge English graduates, former weather presenters, peers who sell puzzles on the side, economists and who knows what other self-taught climate science deniers to get on and explain without ANY informed counter-argument. You see, boring facts, which is what scientists deal with to test their hypotheses, don't support the climate deniers. Ice melts in the Arctic, many parts of the world are suffering high temperatures (including here in the Bay of Naples), the sea becomes more acidic (or for those pedants, less alkaline) while its level rises and it absorbs huge amounts of energy. I am not a climate scientist. My scientific interest has long been evolution. The arguments over evolution denialism are in many ways academic, although I would hate to see the ignorance of intelligent design being taught in a school as an alternative to natural selection. But climate change has the potential directly to harm and kill individuals and to prevent a debate on its implications is malicious, in outcome if not in intention. That is a denier meme and has long been so. Keep the debate to what we want it to be, not what the truth is, say the deniers. I don't know if Tamsin Edwards, a genuine scientist, really wants the system loaded against climate scientists in the way she suggested in a Guardian article the other day, but that would be lovely for the deniers. Hence Willis's open letter. He'd gladly have the debate shut down and climate scientists muzzled. But it won't happen. Dr McNutt, as she puts the photo of her cat on her desk, opens the drawers to see what her predecessor left behind and looks through her emails will, if she even bothers, give Willis Eschenbach a polite reminder to, how shall I phrase it, get on with his job and she'll get on with hers. Science, both the field of knowledge and the journal, are better off without the pesterings of someone like Willis. It won't happen for another reason. Scientists, get this, are human beings. They have passions and interests, sometimes outside their professional ones. They sometimes have children. They are not Mr Spock (ignore the reboot JJ Abrams shenanigans with Uhuru). If they see something that they feel is likely to impinge on their children's futures, they have every right to say so. Scientists should be concerned about the future, be it disease or climate or war that is the threat. And scientists should open their mouths. So in one hundred years time, in the new Willis world, I can see the headline "why didn't they warn us?" That's because the deniers wanted the debate shut down. And on other pages: CO2 reaches 800ppm, New York Central Park now one big boating lake, say goodbye to the Netherlands...

Friday, 2 August 2013

A short history of denial

I'm sunning my weary, pale self in sunny Italy at the moment. Yesterday was Pompeii and it was scorching hot, 38C I was told. More than enough for me. No doubt someone will ascribe the recent heat wave here to global warming. The deniers will say, in slightly different words, one swallow does not make a summer. Until, that is, it gets a bit chilly when the deniers will claim that global warming has been disproved. QED.

Denialism comes in lots of flavours and each one aims to undermine its chosen field, often with a political or financial motive. Many climate deniers seem more interested in taxation than melting ice caps. For them it is the take over of the planet by some shady and ill defined world government that is the problem. Look for a conspiracy and usually you can find one. Actually, you don't need to look beyond a denier's nose because the script that most denier memes use is the one that has been used for decades.

First, undermine the science by doubting it or claiming there is a debate amongst scientists where there really isn't one. Those of us old enough to remember the days when creationists would pick up on the debate about punctuated equilibrium as a description of evolutionary change and magnify it into "scientists argue about evolution" are probably bored by seeing the same old thing pop up on more recent denier sites. If those creationists bothered to read what Eldrede and Gould were saying in support o their PE idea, they would have seen that there was no debate in evolution. In a phrase that is insultingly flung about by climate change deniers, the science is settled. At least to the extent that science is ever settled.

The play is simple. If scientists are unsure about something, then why should the rest of the public believe it? Problem is, the creation of false doubt is disingenuous. Scientists studying the field under denial don't usually doubt the big picture although they may disagree about the small details. The so called Dawkins-Gould debate wasn't about natural selection. That science was settled by the Second World War.

Talking of simple, deniers like to make the debate as simple as possible. If they can, they will make it a simple straightforward dichotomy. Either what the scientists say is true or what we say is true, is their aim. Creationists have worked on that aim for years. Either evolution gave us the huge variety of life or it was God, specifically the Christian one. Of course that is too simplistic, because there are a great many other creation stories and myths that could equally be true, but like Find The Lady, creationists don't let you choose which theory you want. They will give it to you.

Or deniers make it complicated. By taking on the trappings of science you can be as complicated as you like, since the average person is likely to be impressed by your erudition and your science. Most people don't have the maths to check formulas presented so they have no real way of finding out if what the denier says is true. This is part of the find the lady idea - make the game incomprehensible to most people and they have to rely on the bits that the average person can understand. This happens a lot at WattsUpWithThat, when complicated graphs are presented along with editorialising explanations that leave you in no doubt what you are supposed to think.

Playing with numbers, cherry picking data, graphs and the like, is an important denier game. The recent measles outbreak in Swansea was accompanied by anti-vaxxers playing with numbers.  Numerate folk demolished the denier maths but for the deniers the doubt is enough. One more person lacking the maths skills to understand the fallacy who starts to think perhaps the science might be wrong beginning to doubt is the aim.

But anti-vaxxers have another weapon. Fear. They can create fear that your child could be injured by the vaccinations. Their arguments are based in some reality but exaggerated beyond reason to create a fear that is unnecessary. Once again maths comes into it, but the argument is based on assuming most people are ignorant, not only of the science but also how to search the Internet. Page one of your Google results is not the only page you have to look at.

Anti vaxxers have had two centuries of denial to get their arguments well polished. But you cannot shine a turd, as they say. The arguments against Jenner began as soon a Jenner made his vaccination method public. Darwin ran into denialism almost as soon he published On The Origin Of Species. There have been relativity deniers, quantum deniers, cancer deniers, species deniers even. Some are part of the proper scientific debate, others are well outside it, looking in but trying to mislead the rest of the public. When deniers simplify the science they do it the disservice of undermining it by characturing it. Science is complicated and difficult to understand. Deniers don't underestimate the ignorance of their core audience - they ensure that their audience doesn't have to understand any science because they will tell you how to think. Deniers don't like that. Heaven forbid that their audience thinks for themselves. The bottom line is that science deniers have been around for many decades and they will always be with us. It is human nature to agree n a sort of tribal level and disagree with virtually everything else. In our modern world we belong to many tribes. Think posters, sports teams, authors, tv shows. We will defend our favourites and decry the others. But science has been so powerful (think of all those subjects that try to take on the trappings of science) because it has the checks and balances that allow the tribalism to be minimised. The behaviour of the deniers is not always that of scientists. In a perfect world, everyone would be Mr Spock, logical, cold and science based - not. I wouldn't want that world. Scientists are human are prone to the temptations that humans are prone to. They defend their corners and act badly at times and when they do they get found out if the evidence goes against them and their ideas. In science, after all, evidence is all. Wel, back to sun cream and lasagne duties. Someone has to sample them all.