Rage against the science: Jo Nova calls scientists “witch doctors” in her most venomous post to date

R.I. P. The Scientific Method. Hello totalitarian government, where money buys you authority, and authority passes for reason – Jo Nova

A few blogs have been posting about the recent survey by researchers from Stanford and published in the influential journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science on the climate scientists views on climate change. I’ve not blogged about it as they’ve done the job, and I’m focussed on the Australian denial machine.  

For those not familiar with the paper, DeSmogBlog sums up what we’ve known along: there is a strong scientific consensus on climate change, and the views of the “sceptics represent only a tiny percentage:

A study by Stanford University researchers examining expert credibility in climate change has confirmed that climate skeptics and contrarians within the scientific community comprise at best 3% of the field, and are “vastly overshadowed” in expertise by their colleagues who agree that manmade climate change is real. 

The abstract of the paper sums up the careful approach and methodology of the research:

Although preliminary estimates from published literature and expert surveys suggest striking agreement among climate scientists on the tenets of anthropogenic climate change (ACC), the American public expresses substantial doubt about both the anthropogenic cause and the level of scientific agreement underpinning ACC. A broad analysis of the climate scientist community itself, the distribution of credibility of dissenting researchers relative to agreeing researchers, and the level of agreement among top climate experts has not been conducted and would inform future ACC discussions. Here, we use an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers and their publication and citation data to show that (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.

How does the Australian denial community respond?  

Not just with denial, but with rage and contempt.  

Today Jo Nova seems to have gone into overdrive with a post that is so excessively venomous, hate filled and nasty that in a few days time she must surely feel embarrassed and ashamed when she calms done.

As a piece of writing, it’s barely comprehensible.  

Here’s the opener:

A shameful day in the history of science. The once esteemed National Academy of Science is reduced to pagan witchcraft: point the bone at the blacklist, count the tea-leaves (I mean papers), put on your funny hat and make a prophesy about the weather…

In one long ad-hominim attack on the National Academy of Science, climate scientists, government, banks – and just about everyone she disagrees with – she accuses them of conspiring to cover up the truth and manufacture a “false religion”:

The science-communication pollution from the PNAS contributes to global confusion, it feeds the dark soul of undirected religious brains who think the Gods of Science are real and have something to say. These “Gods” are fake, and we bow not before them. The lowliest high school science student who searches for truth among the measurements is far more worthy than the Great Pretenders who think their own opinions count for more than radiosonde results…

…Shame on you Schneider, traitor to science. Shame on the NAS editors who allowed this pathetic excuse for research into their publications. And shame on any member of the NAS who doesn’t shout in protest at this denigration of the good name that took decades to build. 

She the goes on to accuses scientists of being “witch doctors”:

Since the dawn of time tribal witchdoctors have been forecasting storms and asking us to pay tribute to their Idols. The NAS has descended into abject farce. Argument by authority is the disguise of the witchdoctor — Trust me, I am the chosen one.

The list of approved “climate scientists” might as well be a list of anointed preachers of the Cult of Climate Science. The esteemed?

In terms of invective, this rates with Monckton accusing young climate activists of being “Nazis”. This surely qualifies as one of the most rabid attacks on scientists this year (and there have been some nasty ones).

But it’s not just what she has written that is embarrassing.

She then takes the front cover of the latest issue of PNAS:

And turns into this:

Reading Jo’s post today I was actually saddened. It may serve as an emotional release for Nova, but ultimately it looks very bad.

Sure, we all say things we regret… but Jo, even by your standards you’ve gone to far. Sometimes when you write in anger you need to save the draft and look at it the next day with a cooler head.

This is just… well… ugly.

But, when faced with facts that contradict her world view what can she do but react with denial and anger?

Six Aspect of Denial

Quite easy to classify Nova’s outburst under the Six Aspects of Denial:

  • Question the motives and integrity of scientists: essentially Nova calls scientists “witch doctors”. As I said, a rather nasty example of her writing.

8 thoughts on “Rage against the science: Jo Nova calls scientists “witch doctors” in her most venomous post to date

  1. Nick says:

    Clearly,Jo has exhausted the limited material she relies on for her rote defences of the ‘skeptic’ position.

    The problem with rhetorical denialism is that the rhetoric dominates the content,and the rhetoric becomes increasingly shrill in an attempt to counter the diminishing returns of overuse.

    She is now well into paranoid fantasy.

  2. zoot says:

    Paranoid fantasy just about sums it up. Stupid woman.

  3. She’s incredible… classic example of deniers keep on denying… There’s absolutely nothing the scientific community could do to convince her. She’s right (in her head) and there’s nothing anybody could do to change that.
    It really does your head in putting in all this effort and it bouncing such a brick wall.

  4. JG says:

    Funniest thing I’ve read all week . . .

  5. Tony Sidaway says:

    I hadn’t heard of Jo Nova so I had to look her up. Wikipedia says she once presented Y, a science show for children on Australian television. Being British I wouldn’t expect to know of her.

    That latest rant seems to be par for the course at her blog, which follows the well established template of steadfastly presuming that most of climate science is simply a large error cascade. You’d think somebody would have produced some actual scientific papers on such massive, palpable errors by now, but I’m not holding my breath.

  6. Phil M says:

    Tony, like most denier scientists, Jo Nova doesnt have a degree in anything to do with climate science & neither does her partnet in crime David Evans. Neither have published anything to do with climate science in peer review & essentially they are just mouthpieces for right wing lobby groups.

    Jo has spoken at the dubious Heartland & Competitive Enterprise Institutes, as well as had her book promoted by the IPA ( right wing front group) here in Australia.

    Its expected that they were to lash out at the evidence that there are in fact very few scientists who support her views & even less in the field of climate science.

  7. Anarchist606 says:

    Here’s my report on the same thing: http://anarchist606.blogspot.com/2010/06/666-science-and-method-machine-death.html

    It’s so crazy, it’s quite funny…

  8. […] silly attack on PNAS when they produced a paper that was not to her liking (Mike discusses it here). Donna's DeSoggyBog […]

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