Category Archives: Angry Badger tactic

Climate Sceptic sacked from Macquarie University was Banned By National Science Foundation For “Deceptive Conduct”

Below is a partial reprint from the always excellent Graham Readfearn on the sacking on the recent sacking of one Professor Murray Salby. It comes via Desmogblog.

Before that, let’s look at how the deniers hoped to framed the incident.

Without doubt, they see Salby as victim of a great injustice and have taken to their blogs to decry both his dismissal and the implied censorship of dissenting voices in science.

Anthony Watts harrumphed :

Just last week we heard that Dr. Robert Carter had been blackballed at his own university where he served as department chair, and now we have this from Dr. Murray Salby, sent via email. 

Between John Cook, Stephan Lewandowsky, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, plus Mike Marriot and his idiotic ideas, I’m beginning to think Australia is ground zero for AGW crackpottery. 

This email’s accusations (if true I have independent confirmation now, title changed to reflect this – Anthony) is quite something, it illustrates the disturbing lengths a university will go to suppress ideas they don’t agree with. So much for academic freedom at Macquarie University. 

Thanks for that Anthony, I note the personal insults continue (/wink).

He also dismisses Australia as a land of crack pots. Mr Watts dismissal of myself and 20 odd million Australians is typical of his grandiosity (/wink, wink, wink, wink… and wink in case you missed the irony and implied humor of that sentence Mr. Watts).

Perth’s resident climate sceptic and conspiracy theorist Jo Nova has kicked her sense of outrage into overdrive. She also sneeringly dismisses Macquarie as an educational institution:

I suggest that a university of this type (if that is what Macquarie is) would train good bottle-washers, but not researchers who break new ground.

I’m sure those comments help Salby’s cause no end.

However it would seem Salby has a less than spotless past, as Graham notes in DeSmogBlog post:

A CLIMATE sceptic professor fired from his Australian university for alleged policy breaches had previously been banned for three years from accessing US taxpayer-funded science research money. Dr Murry Salby, sacked in May by Macquarie University in…

Dr Murry Salby, sacked in May by Macquarie University in Sydney, was the subject of a long investigation by the US National Science Foundation.

The investigation, which was finished in February 2009, concluded that over a period when Dr Salby was working at the University of Colorado, he had likely fabricated time sheets in relation to research paid for through NSF money.

Oops.

And so Salby was fired his previous role at the University of Colorado for “deceptive conduct”:

We conclude that the Subject (Dr Salby) has engaged in a long-running course of deceptive conduct involving both his University and NSF. His conduct reflects a consistent willingness to violate rules and regulations, whether federal or local, for his personal benefit. This supports a finding that the Subject is not presently responsible, and we recommend that he be debarred for five years.

One wonders how the deniers will responds to this?

Prediction: more claims of conspiracy (/wink).

Anthony Watts: it is necessary to use the correct sea-ice graphs on WUWT to avoid misleading the public

This is how you do denial and flagrantly cherry pick data.

Here is a graph Anthony Watts @ Watts Up With That? (WUWT) elects to use from the National Ice and Snow Data Center:

WUWT_map

Notice anything? Anything missing? Anyone?

Would that be the standard deviations (SDs)? 

WUWT_dishonest

If you remove that pesky piece of information that indicates that sea-ice decline is below average you remove the problem!

Until 2009 the NSIDC used to present the graph without the SDs (hat tip A.Watts!).

If the NSIDC has elected to present information in one format as their preferred means of communication, it is beholden to all of us to follow their model.

That is a reasonable assumption to make. If Mr. Watts is aware they changed this back in 2009, surely his blog needs to mimic their current practice?

Mr. Watts accused me of lacking professionalism. Over to you now Anthony regarding the question of professionalism.

Context matters

If the NSIDC elect to give prominence to the presentation of data in one format it is reasonable to assume we are all beholden to follow their lead.

You could claim they presented their data as such four years ago.

But not now:

NSIDC_Homepage

Notice anything?

The graph includes the SDs. If you go to their Sea Ice page you’ll see graphs that us the SDs.

So why does this matter?

Because the context in which information is presented matters a great deal in this debate.

And when you exclude something, it is because you may not want it to be seen.

Now it could very well be that Mr. Watts simply needs to bring his images inline with the practices of the NSIDC – if that is the case the opportunity now exits.

We can take data and images from anywhere – from NSIDC, from a government website or the Bureau of Meteorology and present it however we wish.

But what matters more: the thin slice of data you wish to highlight, of the full data set and the contextual information?

Excluding standard deviations in sea-ice graphs @ WUWT: why it matters

You can create the graphs yourself here: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/charctic-interactive-sea-ice-graph/

You don’t need to Photoshop the image, thus I’ve withdrawn my throw away comment about Photoshop. Which I note was intended to be satirical, but still I felt compelled to remove it to save people’s confusion or spare them a sense of outrage. 

Now given:

  • the history of denying the link between human activities and climate change at WUWT
  • the long running antipathy towards the work of climate scientists at WUWT

My interpretation remains more than reasonable. 

To the general public this may seem an obscure debate over the minutiae of graphs and data. But Mr. Watts content makes its way into the mainstream press via blogs such as Andrew Bolt.

Hence my focus on the use or potential misuse of images, data and information.

WUWT is a site that exists to cast doubt on climate change.

Much of the information presented there is crafted to undermine the scientific consensus.

Thus as a true sceptic – not one who merely adorns the garb of the curious – I will continue to question the use and misuse of information on sites such as WUWT.

Over to you Anthony: if you’re calling me out then likewise

Sceptics here have asked that make an amendment to the original version of this post, which I have.

Now it is time for them to acknowledge the information presented in the graphs at WUWT lacks context. Now is the time for them to admit WUWT uses a presentation format four years out of date.

The record of my transparency, openness and honesty is here for the entire world to see and judge.

Now it is time for Anthony to live by the same standards he demands of others and fix his mistake.

Over to you Anthony.

Angry badgers: trolls, sceptics and distracting voices in the climate discussion

angry_badger

A lot of energy has been spent by myself and others on comments made by sceptics – both here and across the internet.

There are four things we should remember, established scientific facts beyond dispute: 

  • CO2 is a heat trapping molecule
  • We are emitting CO2 and other Greenhouse gases into the atmosphere through our activities
  • This is influencing the planet’s climate system
  • The scientific consensus on this is near universal – 97%

Understanding the science of climate change is about being an informed citizen. The deniers want to deprive you of the right to be informed about an issue of fundamental importance to our civilisation.

Merchants of FUD and their motivations

Skeptics employ a tactic called FUD.

Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt.

Create enough doubt about the science (so it is hoped) and action on climate change will be stalled long enough. Some want to do this for ideological reasons; others because they have a vested interest. Some trolls enjoy being contrary and love the attention.

Here is the thing. You will never know their motivations. But that does not matter.

What matters is your response, to engage or not.

What is happening here mimics the broader climate debate: a tiny minority disturbs the majority

I like to think I’ve gained some experience in the debate having run this blog for three years now.

Form what I see, perhaps 1-5% of the readers of this blog are sceptics. And yet those threads go on for hundreds of posts, consume the energy of many people and confuse, enrage and disrupt the tone of discussion.

This is symptomatic of the broader climate debate, where a tiny minority is distracting the majority.

When you find yourself dealing with troll behavior remember the cardinal rule of the internet “DO NOT FEED THE TROLL.”

Provide counter information, but remember you’ll never convince them. I’ve been a great deal of thought to this issue, especially as it pertains to WtD.

While I don’t believe in silencing dissenting voices (no matter how unpopular) I will be applying the WtD community guidelines with greater rigorAll posters, regardless of their views should take note.

Angry badgers and the Nasty Effect: how online discussions are derailed

Recent research has shown how the comments section of an article can influence the average readers perception:

“In a recent study, a team of researchers from the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication and several other institutions employed a survey of 1,183 Americans to get at the negative consequences of vituperative online comments for the public understanding of science. Participants were asked to read a blog post containing a balanced discussion of the risks and benefits of nanotechnology (which is already all around us and supports a $91 billion US industry). The text of the post was the same for all participants, but the tone of the comments varied. Sometimes, they were “civil”—e.g., no name calling or flaming. But sometimes they were more like this: “If you don’t see the benefits of using nanotechnology in these products, you’re an idiot.”

The researchers were trying to find out what effect exposure to such rudeness had on public perceptions of nanotech risks. They found that it wasn’t a good one. Rather, it polarized the audience: Those who already thought nanorisks were low tended to become more sure of themselves when exposed to name-calling, while those who thought nanorisks are high were more likely to move in their own favored direction. In other words, it appeared that pushing people’s emotional buttons, through derogatory comments, made them double down on their preexisting beliefs.”

See the study here, The “Nasty Effect:” Online Incivility and Risk Perceptions of Emerging Technologies:

“Uncivil discourse is a growing concern in American rhetoric, and this trend has expanded beyond traditional media to online sources, such as audience comments. Using an experiment given to a sample representative of the U.S. population, we examine the effects online incivility on perceptions toward a particular issue—namely, an emerging technology, nanotechnology. We found that exposure to uncivil blog comments can polarize risk perceptions of nanotechnology along the lines of religiosity and issue support.”

Angry Badgers: a denier tactic

While many of you are familiar with the tactics of think tanks, I thought it worth drawing attention to a recently uncovered Heartland Institute propaganda initiative.

Called “Operation Angry Badger” it was designed to derail a debate in the US over collective bargaining in the education sector:

A Chicago-based free-market think tank has prepared a strategy to sway the recall debate in Wisconsin, including detailing “the shortcomings of public schools,” according to leaked documents that appeared this week on the Internet.

“Operation Angry Badger” purportedly describes a Heartland Institute proposal that would cost about $612,000 and focus on promoting Wisconsin Act 10, which curtailed collective bargaining for most public-sector workers.

Heartland is one of the foremost think tanks behind the campaign to deny the science. The above is SOP, or standard-operating-procedure.

The Angry Badger tactic is one that seeks to inject distracting facts into a conversation.

Picture it this…

Imagine you are having an amazing discussion with someone.

Suddenly, a stranger walks up and shouts “Oh my god look over there an angry badger!!!!!!”

You’re distracted, and stop talking. The flow of the conversation is broken. You have to start all over again, missing some points.

This is exactly what trolls and sceptics want to do. Distract the flow of conversation with a dramatic, yet irrelevant fact (the Angry Badger).

What matters is your response.

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