There no doubt the denial movement loves to play up to the part of being the “underdog” in the climate debate. They lionize the “ordinary” Jo’s and Josephine’s who through hard work, tenacity and a little bit of commonsense (plus lots of Google searches) are able to spot the crucial flaws scientists working the field of climate science have somehow managed to over look.
A lack of qualifications in climate science – indeed a lack of qualifications in anything – is seen as a bonus. Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre are the examples par excellence.
Mr Smith comes to climate science
For the “climate sceptic” community “do-it-yourself” (DIY) is the hall mark of a true sceptic engaging in the “scientific process” . Unsurprisingly their work finds “amazing flaws”, evidence of “data manipulation” and outright fabrication by scientists.
Our local Anthony Watts: kenskingdom
A good example is a new blog over at Kenskingdom, in which the author downloads publicly available data for temperature records around Australia, applies some quick and ready analysis and “hey presto” claims the data is either wrong is being manipulated.Typically the blogger finds errors which highly trained scientists have either overlooked or are deliberately manipulating as in this attempt to analysis historical temperature records for Mackay Queensland:
How can GISS justify their manipulation of the data, which they claim not to do? How have they arrived at the adjustments for Te Kowai and Mackay? And besides, don’t they say that urban stations are adjusted by comparing with rural stations, not the other way around? They don’t adjust any other rural stations that I’m aware of.
Here’s the explanation, and THIS IS THE SMOKING GUN…
The tools of this research? Google Earth and publicly available data from the Goddard Space Institute (NASA) and the Bureau of Meteorology. Run it through a spread sheet and get your results.
This is not science.
As much as these enthusiasts think it is, it really, really isn’t.
It’s manipulating data without the proper tools and training, the competition with scientific peers or an understanding of climate science. That NASA would make publicly available all it’s data that was so fundamentally flawed (and with evidence of it’s secret manipulation of the temperature record) that a amateur enthusiast could pick through it in a few days using Microsoft Excel is a stunning claim.
Actually it’s Dunning-Kruger in full flight.
Why not share this research with NASA, BOM and the CSIRO?
Surely Goddard would love to know they got it wrong?
I’m sure they would.
Kenskingdom is attempting to falsify their research. This is what scientists do: examine the work of their peers, tear it apart and hopefully arrive at a better understanding. Perhaps a crash course in climate science and statistics would help these amateur enthusiasts to make their work fit for publication as a peer reviewed paper?
It would, however as Dunning-Kruger suggests they may be struggling to recognise the limitations of their capablities.
It’s unsurprising the Blogging Scientists of climate science find errors and mistake. They are hunting for anomolies, the classic logical fallacy of looking for small errors and seeing the patterns they want to see :
Pseudoscientists – those pretending to do science (maybe even sincerely believing they are doing science) but who get the process profoundly wrong, use anomalies in a different way. They often engage it what we call anomaly hunting – looking for apparent anomalies. They are not, however, looking for clues to a deeper understanding of reality. They are often hunting for anomalies in service to the overarching pseudoscientific process of reverse engineering scientific conclusions.
What this means is that pseudoscience almost always works backwards – that is its primary malfunction, starting with a desired conclusion and then looking for evidence and twisting logic to support that conclusion.
Which is exactly what so many of these Blogger Scientists get wrong. They are motivated by the political debate around climate science, decide to “look into themselves” and ergo find evidence that supports their world view.
Kenskingdom repeats the classic pseudo-scientific tactic of reverse engineering good science.
I’ve seen hundreds of blog sites who announce in excited tones that “This is the PROOF that we’ve been looking for!” Be it “taking down” climate science, finding evidence of UFOs or using Google Earth to find Atlantis each and every one of these authors starts with a committed world view and arrives at conclusions that confirm their suspicions.
Put it this way, kenskingdom relies completely on the data NASA provides – an organisation who he also believes is manipulating data deliberately. Apparently he/she can trust them with the data that suits their argument, but not the data that supports their conclusions.
The contradiction in that logic is so obvious it negates any conclusions they arrive at.
Aren’t you being harsh on these guys?
Well yes, I am. But, if your going to enter the public debate and claim 9/11 was orchestrated by the US Government, that the theory of evolution is a conspiracy of evil liberal atheists or that the entire scientific establishment is involved in faking climate science then be prepared to be challenged.
These are extraordinary claims.
As such they need to put through the most stringiest tests for veracity.
(Note: I’d add that I don’t think “climate change sceptics” believe in UFO’s or subscribe to the view of the 9/11 “truthers”, however what they have in common is a conspiratorial world view and use shaky reason and poor science to buttress their claims.)