Category Archives: WUWT

WUWT attacks WtD: I learn the only thing to fear from the sceptics is your own fear

Holding the line against the sceptic army

An interesting day in this small, and for some obscure front of the climate change war.

As some readers may have noticed, Mr. Watts of the sceptical blog Watts up with that? and I have been engaged in some friendly debate over the nature of sea-ice graphs.

I believe the matter to be resolved on my part, having replied to Mr. Watts requests.

However I do earnestly hope Mr. Watts responds to my suggestion and ensure his blog presents data in a manner not to confuse the public. A reasonable request one would think.

The experience of being in the sceptic cross-hairs

It was fascinating being the recipient of the full weight of the denial machine for an afternoon. 

How was it  you may ask? Stressful? Hardly.

It was is interesting to see the empty bluster, cheap bravado and vile insults pour into the comments section of WtD (still are by the way).

In fairness, I will note most comments were polite and simply stated their views. I have no issue with that, so my thanks to those who acted with respect. We disagree about the science, but at least you have been respectful. Many of those I’m allowing.

But I was left with a strong impression, and not the one Mr. Watts or others may have intended.

The only thing to fear from the sceptics is our own fear. 

“These are the dreaded climate sceptics, who like He-Who-Cannot-Named we’ve ascribed almost mythical powers and influence?” I thought to myself.

These are the people who so terrified and cowed some in the science community?

How disappointing; how underwhelming.

That the worst I did was make a throw away line in jest, and then saw thousands descend upon my blog with vile and enmity…

And what was their intent?

To force me to stop writing? To shed a tear? Did they force such things?

Hardly.

Longtime readers know I’ve always drawn from the lessons of history, and rightly or wrongly draw analogies with past and present events.

As the day passed an image formed in my mind – that of the 93rd Highland Regiment at the Battle of Balaclava (1854). Between their own rearguard and camp they stood in a ragged line, forcing back thousands of Russian cavalry.

From a distance they looked like a thin red line, standing against enormous odds. 

For me, today was about being that thin red line. 

Not that hard really.

What I learned today, and what you should learn from this

Lesson the first – the only thing to fear from the sceptics, is your own fear.

Lesson the second – don’t stop.

That is all, now carry on.

[Note: thanks John B for helping me hold the line as well]

A note on who tipped off Mr. Watts

Finally, some house keeping.

The WUWT post has been useful in showing me Mr. Watts source:

Erric Worrall writes:

An Australian alarmist blog, Watching The Deniers, has just accused Anthony Watts of photoshopping one of the Sea Ice Graphs.

Eric, I was about to email you this week and release you from the temporary ban.

It was never intended to be permanent, and I believe I treated you with respect. I also gave you enormous latitude when you posted here – to the extent other readers expressed frustration with me.

You were given three chances to modify your behavior, which you ignored. The rules of engagement were clear, and plenty of warning was given.

In light of today (and the great latitude I once gave you) your ban will be extended another three months. Such are the consequences of your actions. We all make choices Eric. And we must live with them.

Actually, that is light punishment considering your actions. But fortunately for you I’m made of stern stuff and remain unfazed by today’s events.

I’m also grateful for the small bump in traffic Mr.Watts links afforded me.

That is all, now carry on.

Tagged , ,

ToD: If Galileo was alive today, would he blog his results on WUWT?


… or publish them in the peer review literature? Just saying.

(Thought of the day: ToD)

The blog post where I dismiss climate science

I’ll admit I was very inspired by this very amusing post over at Genomicron and this brilliant piece over at the Guardian. In short, here is my guide to writing a blog post denying climate change.

In this paragraph I’ll attempt to appear a sincere seeker of truth

In this paragraph I’ll explain some of the basics of climate science, but with extensive use of “scare quotes”. It will be a highly distorted version of the science: the “big picture” may be correct, but wrong on more detailed aspects.

I’ll note that for years I’d accepted the mainstream consensus on climate change, however out of sheer intellectual curiosity I decided to look into the issue myself.

Fortunately, my background in engineering/economics/physics or some other non-climate science related profession that requires maths has given me an understanding of the scientific method.

This how I establish myself as an authority.

At this point I will make reference to my intellectual journey, which in most instances involves extensive Google searching. I’ll note that after several days of trawling the Internet I was amazed to find blogs and web sites offering alternative views on climate change.

My use of search terms such as “climate change and fraud” will prompt Google to produce only the most authoritative materials. I will then muse why such information is not more accessible to the general public.

Here I will take down the IPCC in a paragraph

At this point I’ll take cherry pick quotes from the IPCC report and/or actual scientific research:

[Cut and paste text here…]

In this paragraph I’ll feign mock surprise that the claims in the quote appear to be exaggerated, as my own careful reading of blogs offering alternative explanations cast doubt on the claims of “experts” (natch, more scare quotes of course).

This is probably the appropriate time to make reference to the work of Steve McIntyre, a retired physicist or professor of geology. I might choose to include an image showing the famous “Hockey stick” and question it’s reliability. I’ll describe it as “broken”, without understanding what that means. However, it is an effective meme, and it’s stuck in my brain.

I’ll then post a link to Watts up with That? post that tears down climatologist (boo hiss!) Michael Mann and his stick (Ha ha! Did you see my pun!), pointing readers to bloggers more qualified to dismiss the science.

This is how I help repeat the same discredited claims.

This title indicates my distrust of “science”

Here it is appropriate to mention the “liberated” Climategate emails as proof that the workings of science have been corrupted. I’ll quote some very selective parts of said emails:

[Oh look scientists said nasty thing…]

I’ll feign surprise that scientists could act so un-professionally.

I’ll then move on to discuss how the “peer review process” is now “totally corrupt”. I’ll talk about the government funding of science, and allude to the fact that research funded by governments must be tainted.

Sometimes I’ll resort to Latin phrases. Ipso Facto sounds good. As does Caveat Emptor. I heard a very prominent sceptic uses Latin, therefore my post will sound much more authoritative.

I’ll dismiss the notion of scientific consensus as a kind of popularity contest.

I will make exaggerated claims about the stifling of alternative views: that scientists questioning this new “orthodoxy” have been shunned, picked on and called nasty names. Over 1 BILLION [cough] scientists [cough] have signed the Oregon Petition, stating they do not believe the planet is warming! What further proof do you need!?!?

I’ll throw in the line “They laughed at Galileo!” – but never “They laughed at Darwin!”, because that would betray my genuine doubts about evolutionary theory.

Here I will talk about Nazis, because it always about Nazis!

It is now at this point I usually descend into complete and utter paranoia, claiming the IPCC is the tool of socialists, lizard people and shadowy cabals. I’ll resort to Godwin’s Law and compare scientists with Nazis.

Or communists.

Or Nazis.

Or maybe both.

Clearly both were bad, so scientists must be equally bad.

Or I could term scientists eco-fascists, eco-terrorists or warmists.

By now I’ve worked myself into a rage, demanding that scientists be charged with FRAUD!

I will resort to even more UPPER CASE!

People such as myself – angry, white males feeling threatened by a loss of status – ARE ANGRY AND NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS LYING DOWN!

Andrew Bolt at the Herald Sun understands my rage, he writes articles carefully constructed to provoke my sense of grievance and entitlement.

DID I MENTION I WAS ANGRY!

Here I just MAKE STUFF UP because I’M SO ANGRY!

My conclusion will be an appeal to personal liberty, god and small government

I’ll note the age of the Earth – except of course if I’m a Young Earth Creationist (YEC) – and that the climate has always changed.

However if I am a YEC, I’ll note it is presumptuous to claim humanity has any control over the climate. After all it is THE LORD who RULES THE HEAVENS:

[Appropriate Bible quote here…]

But then I might tone down the crazy creationist talk, as drawing attention to my support for other forms of denial might undermine my credibility.

My post will then end with an impassioned defense of liberty and how global warming is really a scam designed to raise taxes and limit your/our freedom.

I’ll end my post with a question.

Shouldn’t we just hope for the best and do nothing?

The coming denier festival: Watts, Nova headline national tour

Get ready for a fresh storm of misinformation hitting our shores down under! After Christopher “Lord” Monckton’s tour this year, another luminary of the denial movement is coming to Australia for a speaking tour. 

Anthony Watt’s the world’s “leading sceptical climate blogger, is touring down under:

Anthony Watts is a TV weatherman, meterologist and has arguably the worlds best blog site on the climate change debate.

He has been researching the global surface temperatures from around the world and will be speaking in 18 cities across Australia. The conclusions are highly significant to the international debate. This tour will have three or four high quality presentations at each meeting. We hope many of you will attend and brings some friends as well.

The Emissions Trading Scheme is still government policy and these presentations will make you think hard about the gap between the facts, public perception and where our political leaders want to take us

Dates are listed here.

If I’m free, I’m planning to go and report.

Expect a fresh round of misinformation reported in The Australian, on Nova’s blog, Andrew Bolt’s blog and in newspapers.

Question: how can we challenge the distortions and misinformation that is bound to hit the media?

Nothing to see, move along…

From today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

Global temperatures fueled by El Nino seasonal warming last month chalked up the hottest March on record, US weather monitors reported…

…Average ocean temperatures were the hottest for any March since record-keeping began in 1880, while the global land surface was the fourth warmest for any March on record, NOAA said, citing analysis from the National Climate Data Center.

It added that the January-March period was the planet’s fourth warmest on record.”

Like, we didn’t see that coming.  Didn’t climatologist Michael Mann state that there is a very good chance 2010 could be the warmest year on record?

Of course this follows the warmest decade on record.

How is the denial movement going to spin this one? Let’s ask Anthony Watt’s:

I’m sure the press will make this into a much bigger story. This today from NOAA News. The choice of “hottest” in the title is interesting. We should ask our Canadian friends if it was “hot” during March, since Canada seems to be leading the world in “hotness” according to the NOAA image. – Anthony

OK Anthony, let’s indulge in semantics. 

Apart from a few posters questioning the “accuracy” of the data (i.e. it must be cooked) most are bemused. Not their usual over-the-top selves. Many of them report how warm it was in their areas.

“Yes, it was …errrr…warm…I mean…errrr”

Is that cognitive dissonance I can see?

Climategate fallout: just how high are the stakes?

Climategate: criminal or terrorist act?

The recent report vindicating both Phil Jones and the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia was greeted with a sigh of relief by many in the scientific community (viz Deltoid; DeSmogBlog; Michael Tobis). However, news recent coverage in the UK press highlights just “high stakes” the entire Climategate “scandal” and the attending fall out is getting.

The UK’s National Domestic Extremism Team has been investigating the CRU “hack”. The Guardian reports, but takes a very concerned tone:

News broken in the Financial Times that the National Domestic Extremism Team has been called in to help investigate the alleged theft of emails behind the recent “climategate” scandal is disturbing. The police unit was set up to counter domestic terrorism and extremist organisations, not investigate what may or may not have been a theft at the University of East Anglia.

The development underlines the great danger we face from the extension of anti-terrorist measures and methods into normal life – the policing of our streets, for example, and the hounding of football fans and climate change protesters.

The unit was set up to investigate “domestic extremism”. Just how “extreme” would we classify the deniers, or more importantly how do we classify the CRU attack itself? As industrial espionage, a criminal act or an act of terrorism?

Who is under the microscope?

Apparently a noted UK sceptic – one Sebastian Nokes – in the UK was questioned by the unit:

Just as disturbing is the line of questioning by the police of those who made freedom of information requests before the alleged hacking of computers last year. In a letter to the Financial Times, Sebastian Nokes, a climate change sceptic and businessman, said he was interviewed by an officer who “wanted to know what computer I used, my Internet service provider, and also to which political parties I have belonged, what I feel about climate change and what my qualifications in climate science are. He questioned me at length about my political and scientific opinions”.

His letter appeared in the Financial Times detailing his experience. The FT requires registration, so I’ve reproduced the relevant parts of the article:

The Financial Times has learnt that everybody who made a request to the university’s climate research unit under Freedom of Information rules ahead of the alleged hacking is being approached by officers searching for the culprits.

In a letter to the FT, Sebastian Nokes, a businessman and climate change sceptic, said he was interviewed at length by a detective, who “wanted to know what computer I used, my Internet service provider, and also to which political parties I have belonged, what I feel about climate change and what my qualifications in climate science are. He questioned me at length about my political and scientific opinions”.

Mr Nokes said he had sent an FOI request to the university’s climate unit asking whether scientists had received training in the disclosure rules and asking for copies of any e-mails in which they suggested ducking their obligations to disclose data.

Who is Nokes and what is his connection to the CRU?

Sebastian Nokes is a management consultant and owner of Aldersgate Partners, a company with registered in the United Arab Emirates and the UK. They specialise in “mentoring” and “coaching” senior executives and working on “corporate governance issues”.

I’ve encountered many such consultants in my professional career: some are good, others less so. As to Mr. Nokes competency in these areas we cannot say. One thing we can say, he is not a climate scientist. We will be trawling some of the more notable denialist blogs/forums for comments made my Mr. Nokes, especially in relation to FoI and the CRU.

One thing many people forget is just how much of a digital “footprint” one leaves on the Internet.

Nokes is a noted climate “sceptic”. A quick search of the FT site yields a letter to the editors in which Mr. Nokes complains about lack of access to to raw dated dated 7 February 2005. Only part of the letter is available freely, however the title is self explanatory:

Demand information audit copy if FOI request is not being met

..From Mr Sebastian Nokes. Sir, You report (“Delay in replying to data requests criticised”, February…follows its own code of practice in relation to information audits. Sebastian Nokes, Partner, Aldersgate Partners, London W2 1QJ By Sebastian Nokes…

Clearly, this has been a long running issue for him, going back to at least 2005. It would seem the unit is questioning UK residents who lodged FoI requests with the CRU including Mr. Nokes.

What can we expect from the denial movement?

Anthony Watt’s over at his clearing house for denialist propaganda has already discussed it very briefly back in January 2010:

This morning I contacted Norfolk Constabulary with a view to finding out if they had yet ascertained whether the breach at the Climatic Research Unit was a leak or a hack. I have just received a response which is frankly amazing:

Norfolk Constabulary continues its investigations into criminal offences in relation to a data breach at the University of East Anglia.  During the enquiry officers have been working in liaison with the Office of the Information Commissioner and with officers from the National Domestic Extremism Team. The UEA continues to co-operate with the enquiry however major investigations of this nature are of necessity very detailed and as a consequence can take time to reach a conclusion. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.

The National Domestic Extremism Team? Words fail me

If the persons responsible for the attack are found and arrested expect to hear the deniers mutter (actually, scream very loudly) about dark conspiracies and the abuse of power. We may be seeing the emerge of the sceptics very own “martyrs”.

Yes, the conspiracy claim again… [sigh]

They will spin this into a story of persecution, global conspiracies and the “New World Order”.

What ever the outcome, I personally hope those responsible for the immense damage that has been done to the public’s understanding of the risk of climate change are brought to justice.

The stakes are indeed getting higher.

The Herald Sun’s War on Science #3: Boilerplate Propaganda

Boilerplate climate change denial: watch it spread

  

The HUN continues it’s fine tradition of allowing journalists with no expertise or understanding of science to wage war against it. Apart from misrepresenting the science, they also help circulate denialist propaganda by importing it from the major denialist blogs and web sites and injecting into our own media.    

Let’s look at a recent example from the HUN’s business writer, Terry McCrann    

McCrann is not a name you would normally associate with climate denialism. Alongside Andrew Bolt, he wages a personal war on science. Indeed, the two often tag-team, with Bolt frequently tipping his hat to McCrann. McCrann also writes for The Australian, another Murdoch owned publication also known for it’s continuing war on science.    

Earth Hour feeding frenzy    

In the lead up to Earth Hour, both Bolt and McCrann worked themselves up into a frenzy. What was notable was McCrann’s use of what can only be described as “boilerplate” denier propaganda: the satellite image of the Korean peninsula, showing the North in darkness and the South illuminated (Putting North Korea’s name up in lights, The Herald Sun. March 25 2010);    

…The land where the lights are permanently out, as the famous satellite photograph shows of the stunning difference between the northern and southern ends of the Korean peninsula.    

Indeed, to be more exact, the North Korean lights aren’t just out – they’ve never literally been turned on. As the country bypassed the 20th century, going from the 19th back to the 19th, picking up only nuclear weapons on the journey.    

Nothing better captures the utter inanity of the cult of global warming and its characterisation of carbon dioxide as an even greater Satan than George W. Bush’s America than Earth Hour. Insufferably smarmy, quite pointless, contradictory, utterly inchoate…”    

McCrann then works himself up with greater gusto:    

“…The ABA and its member banks are participating because Earth Hour raises awareness – not Gaia-consciousness? – of the “simple steps we can all take to reduce our carbon footprint”.    

That has beautifully twisted echoes of George Orwell’s image in 1984 of the future … “imagine a boot stamping on a human face … forever”.    

For now, as even the bankers recognise and faithfully chant, the far more horrifying image is of a “carbon footprint on the face of Gaia … forever”.    

This is the link the denial machine wants’ people to make: between climate science and totalitarianism. Yes, those nasty “greens” are wanting to stomp on our faces! This isn’t an opinion, it’s a paranoid fantasy.    

What authority McCrann has in regards to science is anyone’s guess, however the “North Korea = Earth Hour” meme is not of McCrann’s invention. It’s boiler plate denialist propaganda that was circulated in the lead up to Earth Hour.    

Don’t believe me?    

Let’s look at some of the more prominent denialist sites.    

Have boiler plate, will publish propaganda    

Nothing demonstrates just how much of an echo chamber the denial movement is then when they publish the same material over the space of a few days.    

From the paranoid US site, Prison Planet:    

Say haven't we...

  

From Watts up with that?    

...seen that image...

  

And from Andrew Bolt himself:    

...before?

  

Yes, Orwell would weep. But not for the reasons McCrann would imagine.    

(Note: I wonder what Media Watch would make of this?)

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