Pearcegate

Fred Pearce is going down the David Rose road publishing fabricated quotes. Gavin Schmidt in a letter to New Scientist (so far unpublished there) writes:

In the piece entitled “Climate sceptics and scientists attempt peace
deal”

Fred Pearce includes a statement about me that is patently untrue.

“But the leaders of mainstream climate science turned down the gig,
including NASA’s Gavin Schmidt, who said the science was settled so
there was nothing to discuss.”

This is completely made up. My decision not to accept the invitation to
this meeting was based entirely on the organiser’s initial diagnosis of
the cause of the ‘conflict’ in the climate change debate. I quote from
their introductory letter:

“At this stage we are planning to have a workshop where the main
scientific issues can be discussed, so that some clarity on points of
agreement and disagreement might be reached. We would try to stay off
the policy issues, and will also exclude personal arguments.

The issues we have in mind are Medieval Warm Period, ice, climate
sensitivity, and temperature data. We would hope to have smaller groups
discussing these in some detail, hopefully with scientists who are very
familiar with the technical issues to lead the discussion.”


Since, in my opinion, the causes of conflict in the climate change
debate relate almost entirely to politics and not the MWP, climate
sensitivity or ‘ice’, dismissing this from any discussion did not seem
likely to be to help foster any reconciliation.

At no point did I declare that the ‘science was settled’ and that there
was nothing to discuss. Indeed, I am on record as saying the exact
opposite

Pearce might well note that even I am included in the “spectrum” that
“disagree[s] with Schmidt”!

Fred Pearce did not interview me for this piece. I should like to
request that in future, if my views are of interest, that he (or anyone
else) should actually ask me directly. I am not hard to contact.

Yours respectfully,

Gavin Schmidt

PS. I am not a ‘leader of mainstream climate science’ either.

Commenting on Pierce and the workshop are:

Things Break:

I’d ask whether New Scientist wants this kind of indefensible behavior associated with their brand, but clearly they’ve given Pearce free reign to troll for page views however he sees fit.

William Connolley:

And… if you haven’t been part of the climate wars, you might wonder why exactly any of this matters. But “the science is settled” has been one of the mantras used almost exclusively by climate denialists as a term of insult for those actually doing science (Pearce is fully aware of all this back story, of course. He isn’t using the phrase accidentally or carelessly). It is a feeble attempt at a double bind: is the science settled? ha ha, then you can’t be a scientist because real science is never settled. Is the science not settled? Oh great, then we don’t need to do anything until it is. The answer, of course, is that we know now (and indeed have for years) enough about the science to know that the world is warming now due to human activity, and will be warming more into the future from more anthro stuff.

Tamino: “This isn’t a misquote — it’s just a fabrication.”

Joe Romm:

Any conference where most of the participants are obsessed with the Hockey Stick, consider it “totemic,” and think its underlying science is unresolved simply isn’t a serious scientific meeting. Similarly, no serious journalist should simply publish two sentences questioning the underlying science without any quote from a real climate scientist or citation to the NAS and the multiple, confirming studies.

Scott Mandia:

Pearce states …

Equally contentious is the charge – the pet subject of several in Lisbon – that the IPCC is “in denial” about whether ocean oscillations, which can absorb and release heat from the atmosphere but are not well represented in climate models, could explain the global warming of the past 40 years.

How does a warming ocean cause nights to warm faster than days, the troposphere to warm while the upper layers are cooling, winters to warm faster than summers, measured increases in downwelling heat, and measured decreases in outgoing heat from the planet?

What magic are the oceans performing that are mirroring the effects of greenhouse warming while simultaneously stopping the effects of massive increases in heat-trapping gases?

Eli Rabett:

Many have placed their bets on Fred. Eli is not quite so sure, where, better put, from whom would Pearce have gotten his information. Jerry Ravitz who is trying to muscle his way in springs to mind and, of course, luminaries such as the Steves are right up there.

Update: At Judith Curry’s blog tallbloke writes

To set the record straight:

Because I was an ad hoc member of the invite committee I got an email asking my advice on who to invite in lieu of Gavin Schmidt and some other prominent people who had declined. The organisers inadvertantly included Gavin’s response on that email, and when I was asked one evening in Lisbon why certain people weren’t there I gave a quick praisee, including a brief reference to Gavin’s response. This made it’s way to Fred, hence the reference in his blog piece reporting on the conference.

I would just stress at this point that what I said constitutes my opinion and not what Gavin said verbatim. However I would also like to say that Gavin’s complaint to the New Scientist does not include any praisee of the passage in his original response which gave rise to my brief summary. I therefore reject Gavin’s claim that I ‘made stuff up’, and respectfully suggest that we can lay this one to rest if in a spirit of openness Gavin simply reproduces his response so people can see for themselves what he said.

If I am assailed by accusations that I have wrongfully maligned Gavin with my brief summary comment I may feel obliged to defend myself with a closer paraphrase.

Yes, they had an ether crank on the invite committee.

Update 2: Gavin Schmidt posts his actual email:

Thanks for the invitation. However, I’m a little confused at what conflict you feel you are going to be addressing? The fundamental conflict is of what (if anything) we should do about greenhouse gas emissions (and other assorted pollutants), not what the weather was like 1000 years ago. Your proposed restriction against policy discussion removes the whole point. None of the seemingly important ‘conflicts’ that are perceived in the science are ‘conflicts’ in any real sense within the scientific community, rather they are proxy arguments for political positions. No ‘conflict resolution’ is possible between the science community who are focussed on increasing understanding, and people who are picking through the scientific evidence for cherries they can pick to support a pre-defined policy position.

You would be much better off trying to find common ground on policy ideas via co-benefits (on air pollution, energy security, public health water resources etc), than trying to get involved in irrelevant scientific ‘controversies’.

I don’t think it is accurate to summarise this as “the science is settled”.

Update 3:
Steve McIntyre:

I can confirm that Fred Pearce read Gavin’s email to the organizers declining the invitation to the conference, because I (by chance) happened to be sitting with Pearce when he was provided with a copy of Gavin’s email and observed him reading it carefully.

tallbloke

I got Fred to read it out loud to Steve and Ross. So he couldn’t make notes at the same time. And we had a couple of beers, which may be why he didn’t remember it very clearly later.

Compare with his earlier comment “to set the record straight”

when I was asked one evening in Lisbon why certain people weren’t there I gave a quick praisee, including a brief reference to Gavin’s response. This made it’s way to Fred, hence the reference in his blog piece reporting on the conference.

Deceitful, isn’t he?

Comments

  1. #1 Majorajam
    February 10, 2011

    Gavin says so? Question for you Roy: how do thousands of scientists get it so wrong for so many DECADES? Is all encompassing incompetence specially confined to that particular field (perhaps by consequence of ritual forcible lobotomy), or is this evidence of a thus far failed communist plot to take over the world?

    Or- hold the phone- could it be, just maybe, that the sorry poll tested misconceptions in your head began on a white board at some pr outfit as hired by some very wealthy and very powerful individuals?

    You figure it’s a coincidence that ‘is the science is settled?’ is an ambiguous phrase that can be uncharitably spun no matter how addressed, (i.e. ‘see, it’s not settled which means we know nothing and carbon rationing is clearly an idea before it’s time’, or alternatively ‘see they think it’s settled and are thus close minded and fallaciously appeal to authority’)?

    If so, you may want to review the storied history of duplicitous denialist scumbags utilizing just this sort of rhetorical fallacy in lieu of honesty, fact or argument. So then- coincidence? Or something a little bit more plausible? What would the trusted friend of the skeptic, Mr. Occam Razor, have to say about this?

  2. #2 zoot
    February 10, 2011

    @397: yes Roy, your English teachers were remiss; they appear to have left you functionally illiterate. Sue them. Now.

  3. #3 John Mashey
    February 11, 2011

    People are being too hard on Tallbloke.

    A while back, I made a visit to Tallbloke’s site to see where he was coming from, at least in part because my wife is from the Leeds area, I have lectured there (years ago), and it has a sizeable environmental sciences school.

    Really, a visit to his site will tell the interested reader much, with pieces from/lauding Willie Soon, Oliver Manuel, Nicola Scafetta, Nasif Nahle (biocab), Gerlich&Tsceuschner, Douglass/Knox, Piers Corbyn, etc.

    I didn’t notice any mention of Rhodes Fairbridge, but then he is deceased or I may have missed it.

    dhogaza reminds me , I missed one (so many, so little time) Miles Mathis, who has disproved much of modern physics and is quoted:

    “In physics and math, nothing much does get done, as I have shown. The history of physics and math has not been a wonderland of brilliance and fast progression; it has been a shocking wasteland of deflection, misdirection, and complete incompetence, and it is only getting worse. I expect the response to my papers to continue to be vicious, since there is nothing more reactionary than a field of sinecures. It will be like trying to overthrow the Aristotelians or the French Academy or any other nest of nepotism and privilege and corruption. But they had best put on their waders, because the water is high. I am coming right at them, and I am used to deep currents.”

    TB says of this “Go Miles!”

    The reviews at Amazon are interesting.

  4. #4 jerryg
    February 11, 2011

    Re: John at 404, I found the 2-star review and his follow up comments to his review the most convincing. I laughed at the one comment to that 2-star review where one commenter stood up for Mathis’ ‘no links to peer-reviewed science’ by claiming Mathis used the scientists names.

  5. #5 dhogaza
    February 12, 2011

    The reviews at Amazon are interesting.

    Wow.

  6. #6 John Mashey
    February 12, 2011

    re: 405

    But the 2-star review is convincing, but so … boring.
    “This is a vanity-published collection of theories by a self-styled “scientist” who, at the beginning of his bio blurb, anoints himself “the new Leonardo.” Such a pathological absence of humility should be taken as a warning.”

    The 5-star reviews are more fun.. For example:

    “I will say of Miles Mathis what alchemists of old say of other alchemists who have found the “philosophers’stone”: “He is a Good Man”. ”

    “Almost anyone can enjoy this book because it, while serious on serious, sometimes deep, scientific subjects, uses almost no mathematics … ”

    “Help is on its way…Miles Mathis has published his first book and hopefully many will follow. It will take more than one book to clean up centuries of mathematics and physics theory mess-ups swept under the carpet. This one however provides a fine start. …
    To wrap it up: IMHO the most lucid scientific mind I’ve ever seen, now in paperback. A modern day polymath on its way to history as a new Leonardo. ”

    Tallbloke presents Mathis. Again, thanks to dhogoza for reminding me.

  7. #7 lord_sidcup
    February 12, 2011

    In today’s printed version of The Guardian (I can’t find the article online) Fred Pearce reviews [The Heretic](http://www.royalcourttheatre.com/whats-on/the-heretic) – a climate change themed play currently on in London’s West End. The Heretic stars Juliet Stevenson as Diane, a university researcher who is ostracised for concluding sea levels around the Maldives aren’t rising, and recycles a lot of standard denialist stuff (“hide the decline” becomes “bury the downturn”). To his credit, Pearce says the play “offers formulaic boffin-bashing culled from nasty blogs” (scientist would have been a better word to use than boffin). However, the really interesting and relevant bit comes in the final paragraph where Pearce mentions Lisbon and name drops Judy Curry (but, rather ungratiously, not tallbloke) who he thinks is worthy of a play:

    Last month I shared a conference table with Judy Curry, a US climate scientist. She was labelled a “heretic” in Scientific American for criticising colleagues over the East Anglia (emails) row. Her story is better than Diane’s – a riveting drama of big egos, corrupt institutions, divided loyalties, conflicted motives, personal anguish, and, yes, real debate about science and saving the planet. I can see Juliet Stevenson playing Judy. It would be more exciting and more real – but also more ambiguous – than this nicely written but ultimately boorish and confect conspiracy tale.

  8. #8 Tim Lambert
    February 12, 2011
  9. #9 lord_sidcup
    February 12, 2011

    Doh! Thanks Tim.

  10. #10 Bernard J.
    February 12, 2011

    Last month I shared a conference table with Judy Curry, a US climate scientist. She was labelled a “heretic” in Scientific American for criticising colleagues over the East Anglia (emails) row. Her story is better than Diane’s – a riveting drama of big egos, corrupt institutions, divided loyalties, conflicted motives, personal anguish, and, yes, real debate about science and saving the planet.

    Forgive me for being insensitive to the dear petal, but if she hadn’t thrown her lot in with the “big egos, corrupt institutions, divided loyalties, [and] conflicted motives” of the climate change denialists, then Curry wouldn’t have suffered the personal anguished alleged by Pearce.

    Simple, really.

  11. #11 Bernard J.
    February 12, 2011

    And what’s with Pearce’s casting of Juliet Stevenson? I have this strange urge to sing “Freddy and Judy sitting in a tree…”

    The irony is delicious though, as Stevenson is notable for having hitched a lot of her credibility star to Andrew Wakefield’s MMR wagon, and we know how the wheels fell off that one.

  12. #12 Bernard J.
    February 12, 2011

    Fred Pearce’s “real debate about science” comment can’t be allowed to pass without comment either.

    If he honestly, truly thinks that the “real debate” is about climatological physics versus denialism, and about some negotiated intellectual compromise based upon argumentum ad temperantiam, then he is no longer fit to write for anything more than the National Enquirer.

  13. #13 Marion Delgado
    February 12, 2011

    The Feynman the libertard solipsist troll is presenting here has no points of tangency with the real Feynman. Call him Bizarro Feynman and everything will make sense.

    In all seriousness, the Feynman Lectures wouldn’t exist if Feynman didn’t believe in university degree programs. When he came to my university, which classes did he address? If you guessed “Business MBA Program?” you fail. If you guessed “Metalsmithing?” you fail. If you guessed “Austrian Economics 101?” you fail. If you guessed any other program that a Randite would endorse as being Objective, you fail.

    No, weirdly enough, Feynman selected the upper level physics courses. It was sheer credentialism on his part. He even knew and had worked with one of my instructors.

  14. #14 Bernard J.
    February 12, 2011

    Just out of curiosity, is there a reason why the New Scientist page currently claims 90 posts on the subject, but only displays 50? From what I can see there’s no second page link or similar…

    Surely this isn’t censorship of a sort, is it?

  15. #15 ianam
    February 16, 2011

    Please don’t characterize me as a ‘crank’, I’m a qualified engineer with a degree in the history and philosophy of science.

    Swell fallacy you have there. Those are not inconsistent, and the evidence that you are crank is ample.

  16. #16 ianam
    February 16, 2011

    I just can’t see how so many words that clearly and unambiguously accept the AGW science as established fact, could be interpreted as meaning other than, “The science is settled.”

    That could well be a consequence of stupidity.

  17. #17 Bernard J.
    February 20, 2011

    [This](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/02/pearcegate.php) was pointed out to me today.

    It could have been written with Pearce in mind…

  18. #18 jakerman
    February 20, 2011

    BJ, check your link.

    Cheers, J.

  19. #19 Bernard J.
    February 20, 2011

    Oops, thanks Jakerman.

    Copied from the wrong tab’s url field.

    [This should make things clearer](http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/thesword/2011/02/science-scepticism-and-consens.html).

  20. #20 Wow
    February 23, 2011

    Of course, when *Monckton* states specifically that “The science is settled”, it’s not any sort of proof he’s closed his mind…

  21. #21 Pete Dunkleberg
    May 11, 2011
  22. #22 joaquin
    May 19, 2012

    Don’t bother using Miles Mathis as a reference for anything except as an example of a classic delusional crackpot. His hilarious p=4 will be the cornerstone of his undoing. He knows he’s wrong and he won’t retract or revise that paper, which is classic crackpot behavior. If deriving the correct value of pi does a number on his head you can understand why the rest of his “papers” are so skewed. It seems every manner of laziness, incompetence, and inconsistency battle for mastery within him. Mathis never got over being called a “genius” once in high school and his life has been wasted in a futile quest to be recognized as a Renaissance man equally masterful in science, mathematics, painting, sculpture, music, singing, writing fiction, poetry, art criticism, book reviewing and political commentary. The truth, though, is that he inept to mediocre in all these fields.
    After making the big splash with his absurd science papers he is sinking fast as people test his ideas and, instead of seeing the justness of his assertions, see only the flabby thinking, the unsupported claims, the lack of editing, the long windedness, the lack of understanding of basic scientific principles, the disorganized stream of consciousness writing and the incessant attacks on all scientists and all mathematicians and conclude that Mathis is a jealous, bitter kook.