Hurricanes and Global Warming

Ever since I heard the link I was hoping for something more solid than the weak associations I was hearing about on NPR and other news sources. It seemed very preliminary, and a bit worrisome that, especially in the foreign press, that they were claiming things like the New Orleans/Katrina disaster was the first example of a global warming disaster. The evidence simply wasn’t conclusive and in general in science, results need to age. It’s like cheese or wine, you wait for the results that get better with time, and you have to be patient.

I’m reading now in New Scientist that the hurricane link, when evaluated through proxy-data over about 3 centuries, is pretty weak. (Nature article here)

To answer that question, scientists like to look at hurricane activity in the past, which can tell them whether or not recent activity is an abnormal spike in the record. But reliable observations of hurricane activity over the Atlantic only go back to 1944, so scientists have to turn to other indicators.

One team of scientists examined Caribbean corals and the abundances of a particular plankton to see how hurricane activity, which affects both groups, changed over the past 270 years.

The researchers compiled data of these coral proxies, or stand-ins, for direct hurricane data, and reconstructed wind shear and sea surface temperature records for the past 270 years, giving them an idea of what hurricane activity might have been like.

They found that the downward trend in the number of hurricanes from the 1940s to the 1970s was replicated by the reconstruction and is attributable to greater wind shear, which likely stifled hurricane development.

The scientists also used the reconstruction to compare the current upswing in hurricanes to past active phases and found that it was “unexceptional.”

I’m not an expert in this field whatsoever, so I have to rely on others’ analysis to see what this means in the context of other results in the field. But this statement in particular seems strange to me:

So though sea surface temperatures have been rising with global warming over the past century, the authors of the new study, detailed in the June 7 issue of the journal Nature, say that higher wind shear won out over any fuel hurricanes would have received from the water during the lull from the 40s to the 70s.

But in the future, if wind shear decreases (which could happen if there were fewer El Niño events), and sea surface temperatures continue to rise, storms could have longer lifetimes, form more often or become more intense, the authors concluded in their paper.

Other studies, including another recent Nature study that examined sediment cores from a Puerto Rican lake, have put together these past hurricane records from proxy data and concluded that wind shear may be more important than the ocean’s temperature in influencing hurricane activity.

From what I recall of the 40s to 70s, that was a period of relative cooling. It makes physical sense that increased temperatures in bodies of water will lead to more intense storms, as warmer waters are absolutely responsible for hurricane activity. However, it’s clear that at the very least, temperature is dampened by other factors. I hope Real Climate pitches in and gives a good overview of where the field is in terms of this understanding.

I am worried however, that in classic denialist fashion, the anti-GW cranks will latch onto this and say, “See! You’re wrong! You don’t know anything!” when it was clear to me that this connection has always been somewhat tentative (and still not completely ruled out). The science of global warming is clearly not dependent on this result, but some people who were raising alarms with the suggestion of a link will likely be used to further disparage the science.

Comments

  1. #1 Dunc
    June 8, 2007

    Hang on a minute – they’re talking about the number of hurricanes, whereas (as far as I recall) the hypothetical connection is to the intensity of hurricanes.

    See this post on realcimate: Hurricanes and Global Warming – Is There a Connection?

  2. #2 MarkH
    June 8, 2007

    I’m not so sure Dunc, the proxy that they’re using would be influenced by intensity or frequency. It’s also been my impression from sites like Realclimate and other articles on this debate in Science and Nature that the hurricane frequency link is pretty weak, and intensity if more correlated to the multi-decadal scale than temperature. It’s interesting though. Now that they’ve developed a proxy they can extend the record and hopefully give a clear picture of the link.

    Warmer ocean surface temperatures intuitively should lead to more frequent and more intense hurricanes. More energy in the system means more frequent and more violent storms – there’s a reason they don’t have many category 5 hurricanes in January. But this suggests there are dampening effects that are as or more important than temp.

  3. #3 SteveF
    June 8, 2007

    The paper is here:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v447/n7145/abs/nature05895.html

    They talk about the key role of wind shear, which is something that this paper also picked up on:

    http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/~gav/REPRINTS/VS_07_SHEARS.final.pdf

  4. #4 SteveF
    June 8, 2007

    Oops, didn’t notice your link to the paper!

  5. #5 Graculus
    June 8, 2007

    But this suggests there are dampening effects that are as or more important than temp.

    However, unless the dampening effects are also linked to AGW and increase in proportion, it still means AGW will be responsible for more intense storms.

  6. #6 bigTom
    June 8, 2007

    There are likely a number of measures of hurricane activity.
    Frequency of storms (how many form per year).
    Maximum (or average) intensity of storms.
    Lifetime of storms.
    Size of storms (i.e. areal extent not intensity).

    It would be nice to be able to distinguish these different measures.

    Wind shear is very important, it tends to disrupt intensification.

    The papers were talking greater average wind shear for the Atlantic basin, under the warmed scenario. This was caused by predicted changes in atmospheric circulation, and is not expected to be a general
    effect for all tropical waters.

  7. #7 Dennis
    June 8, 2007

    Global warming predicts increases in the number and intensity of storms. This is a worldwide phenomenon. You can’t see the whole picture if you just look at data from one region. Last year the Caribean had few storms but the pacific had many and early large hurricanes – super typhoons. I didn’t follow the news from the pacific basin that closely and don’t have any links, but I think I am right.

  8. #8 Teresa
    June 8, 2007

    See? There IS a controversy!

    People who read the experts disagree!

    TEACH THE CONTROVERSY!

    LOL, just kidding (ducking and running)

  9. #9 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 8, 2007

    Folks, GW is a(nother) new age scam. The “science” is based on computer models that aren’t reliable:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2XALmrq3ro

    And Mark’s comment, below, bothers me because it borders on advocacy:

    “I am worried however, that in classic denialist fashion, the anti-GW cranks will latch onto this and say, “See! You’re wrong! You don’t know anything!” when it was clear to me that this connection has always been somewhat tentative (and still not completely ruled out). The science of global warming is clearly not dependent on this result, but some people who were raising alarms with the suggestion of a link will likely be used to further disparage the science.”

    If you’re a scientist, then, I’d think, you wouldn’t have a dog in this fight, allowing the science to show what it will. America’s top climate scientists have been saying, for some time, there’s no crisis – in fact, NASA’s top scientist just admitted as much:

    http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/financialpost/story.html?id=c47c1209-233b-412c-b6d1-5c755457a8af

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19058588

    Lastly, why anyone will follow what Al Gore says, when he backed creationism in schools, and kept a “What Would Jesus do?” plaque on his desk (when he was Vice President) is beyond me. Since it’s clear he attends the State of the World Forum, which features many new age speakers (Andrew Weil, Michael Lerner, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Michael Murphy and Steven Donovan (leaders of the Esalen Institute), Fritjof Capra, Jean Houston, Sam Keen, Ram Dass, Matthew Fox, Deepak Chopra, and Tony Robbins) we should be able to suss out, pretty quickly, where all this is coming from,…

    http://www.atheists.org/flash.line/evol5.htm

    http://www.inplainsite.org/html/beware_the_new_age_.html

  10. #10 papertiger
    June 9, 2007

    Wait a minute. If AGW is responsible for individual weather events, such as hurricanes, then I have a few stories of frozen orange groves and snow in downtown Los Angeles that need explaining.

    Last time it snowed in Los Angeles, Kennedy was president (1962).

  11. #11 MarkH
    June 9, 2007

    No one is suggesting that AGW is responsible for individual weather events. Be careful not to confuse climate with weather.

    AGW increases the probability of certain weather events, in North America, it’s believed it will dry out the Southwest even more, while the northeastern and central part of the country will likely experience greater rainfall combined with a more highly variable climate.

    It’s reasonable to believe that AGW will cause more frequent and intense hurricanes in the future. The question was whether or not the most recent hurricanes were an early effect of our current climate, or whether they’ve been following a multi-decadal cycle.

    Next topic – Sam, you’re totally off. If you’re referring to Griffin he is not NASA’s “top scientist”, on this topic that would certainly be Hanson. Finally, that collection of articles is not “top climate scientists” it’s the top denialists – all of them are a joke! None of them is a legitimate expert, the series of articles is a classic example of denialist garbage, with cherry-picked data, conspiracy theories (just see the Lindzen piece) fake experts, and some of the stupidest reasoning in the freaking world like “Mars is warming therefore it’s not carbon”. The people who authored that paper were interviewed by Nature at the time of the release and predicted it might get picked up by AGW denialists, and you know what they said? That anyone who would do so is an idiot. Well, one month later…

    The rest of the BS on Al Gore has nothing to do with the science. Al Gore != global warming science. He is trying to make political movement based on the science. Yes he’s stupid on evolution, so what. He’s a politician, when was a last time the United States elected an atheist to anything? We have like, one congressman who said he didn’t believe in god – and it was huge deal. Hell people threw a fit when a Muslim got in. I’m not going to sweat the theistic evolution of a politician, nor am I going to equate him with the science he’s trying to popularize.

    Sorry but that was a very cranky post, I’m not impressed.

  12. #12 Papertiger
    June 9, 2007

    AGW increases the probability of certain weather events
    Forgive me, but that sounds a lot like you just said AGW causes individual weather events again, inspite of your disclaimer.

    AGW increases the probability of snow in Malibu, or is that one of the excluded weather events? (I am 99% sure you stuck in the qualifier “certain” so you could deny inconvenient weather, such as hard frost in California or record blizards in the Northeast)

  13. #13 MarkH
    June 9, 2007

    Oh god. I can’t even believe I have to straighten you out on this again. Climate != weather. Weather != climate.

    Just because it’s warm in one place on earth out of season isn’t proof of global warming any more than if it’s cold out of season in one part of the planet that there isn’t global warming.

    Why does every schmuck on the planet think they can just stick their hand out the window, feel the temp and comment about a global phenomenon? It’s just as annoying as when people think it’s evidence for the science.

    Ok, one more time, and then I’m giving up on you PT. Climate is the average of weather. For instance, I live in a temperate zone. It is a safe prediction for me to claim, based on the knowledge of my climate, that I will have cold winters and warm summers. That is climate, the average of weather.

    Global warming refers to the increase in global mean temperature. It doesn’t mean it can’t ever be cold out of season anywhere, nor does it mean it will always be hot everywhere.

    Global warming increases the probabilities of certain – and I use the word certain because it varies by geography not convenience – weather patterns in different geographical areas. For instance, the American southwest is predicted to have longer, dryer, and hotter weather – on average – while the Northeast and Canada are expected to experience more precipitation and more highly variable weather – on average. Therefore, certain areas of the planet are going to experience increases of certain types of weather.

    And highly variable would seem to include these events of which you speak. But please, stop trying to measure global temperature based on rare events. These things are going to happen, and have nothing to do with global as in worldwide, mean as in average, temperature.

  14. #14 Dustin
    June 10, 2007

    Air currents and general patterns are determined, in a complex fashion, by temperatures. A warming trend could, very possibly, alter the patterns in such a way that certain regions would see what would appear to be a cooling trend. Warmer temperatures off the west coast of South America, for example, generally translate to more snow storms in North America. A global warming trend could exacerbate things like that, so that doesn’t mean that temperatures, on the average, aren’t rising.

  15. #15 Daddy Dave
    June 10, 2007

    Climate != weather. Weather != climate.

    yeah, yeah, I got that.

    But “the probability of snowtorms will increase in Northeastern USA”, for example, is both a climate statement, and a statement about the overall weather pattern for a particular area. (Climate = weather pattern, right? )

    The problem is all this fudging around and avoiding any predictions, any claims at all, makes the whole CAGW thing look like a crock. And anyone who questions it is a denialist. I prefer the word skeptic.
    “we’re all going to die!” isn’t working for me. Tell me how. Method, date, time, place. How will it vary from region to region, on a particular date.

    You won’t do it, of course, but you want us to be scared anyway.

  16. #16 Chris Noble
    June 10, 2007

    The rest of the BS on Al Gore has nothing to do with the science. Al Gore != global warming science.

    HIV Denialists like to quote Oprah Winfrey – “One in five heterosexuals could be dead from AIDS at the end of the next three years.” – and pretend that this was the “orthodox” position.

    It is a standard technique to avoid dealing with the evidence produced by scientists working in the field.

  17. #17 Daddy Dave
    June 10, 2007

    Chris, if you’re prepared to put Al Gore in the same category as Oprah Winfrey, then I think we have common ground.

  18. #18 MarkH
    June 10, 2007

    The problem is all this fudging around and avoiding any predictions, any claims at all, makes the whole CAGW thing look like a crock. And anyone who questions it is a denialist. I prefer the word skeptic. “we’re all going to die!” isn’t working for me. Tell me how. Method, date, time, place. How will it vary from region to region, on a particular date.
    You won’t do it, of course, but you want us to be scared anyway.

    Check the IPCC full reports, there are predictions for each major region of the earth with maps, descriptions of the climate etc. I mostly paid attention to North America, but that’s because living there makes me a bit biased towards the region.

    Now this is the killer sentence, “Tell me how. Method, date, time, place. How will it vary from region to region, on a particular date.”

    Impossible expectations. We cannot predict the weather, why is that so difficult to understand? You act as if climate science is a joke yet show the most basic flaw in understanding the science.

    Climate != weather. How many times does that need to be repeated to sink in? It is the mean, the average, not the crystal ball. I, for instance, live in a temperate zone. With a high degree of certainty we know year to year what to expect, next year I will not be living on the tundra or in a tropical rainforest – the climate doesn’t change drastically. We have average annual rainfall, a stormy season, dog days of summer, a small amount of snow etc – and these things happen during predictable times of year.

    Just because I know what kind of climate I live in, doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t get caught by surprise by a late frost – like we did this year, or experience weather outside the averages in any given year. But the average weather, the climate, is pretty consistent.

    No you say “method. date. time. place.” It’s just proof you don’t even grasp the basics. Climate is the average of weather. Why is that so difficult to grasp?

    The linked reports include the predictions for the coming century, by region. But your insistence on knowing it on a particular date just shows you don’t understand the most basic aspect of this science.

  19. #19 Richard Simons
    June 10, 2007

    It has been known for a long time that water vapour and CO2 absorb infrared radiation, raising Earth’s average temperature. It has also long been known that the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere quickly equilibrates, with a rise in temperature, for any reason, increasing the amount of water vapour, which in turn increases the temperature until a new equilibrium is reached. The amount of CO2, however, responds very slowly. For this reason CO2 is referred to as a forcing variable and water vapour as a response variable.

    There has been a well-documented rise in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere over the past 40 or more years which, when allowance is made for the amount taken up by the oceans, corresponds well with estimates of the amount produced by human activity. The changing isotope composition is also in agreement with this.

    As a result, most climatologists have, first tentatively but now with increasing confidence, been predicting that global temperatures will increase as a result of human activity. Their predictions have been borne out. The major anomalies have been a result of a strong el Nino (these were already known to result in higher average global temperatures) and a volcanic eruption that had the predicted effect of lowering global temperatures.

    What I am curious about is where, exactly, people like Sham Scam Sam and Daddy Dave take issue with this. Do they feel there is some over-riding reason why basic physical principles should not come into play? Do they feel that the data are wrong and there has been no increase in CO2? This would mean, of course, that the
    predictions and the actual temperature records would need to be both in error by about the same amount. All I have got from their posts so far is that they just feel contrary, but in fairness to them I have seen no other deniers of global warming provide any kind of answer to this, just an overall feeling of ‘It can’t be happening.’

  20. #20 rmp
    June 11, 2007

    Daddy Dave,

    “Tell me how. Method, date, time, place. How will it vary from region to region, on a particular date.”

    Ya gotta stop saying things like that if you want to be taken as an honest skeptic.

  21. #21 Chris Noble
    June 11, 2007

    Chris, if you’re prepared to put Al Gore in the same category as Oprah Winfrey, then I think we have common ground.

    My point was that you should stop focussing on what non-scientists are saying and start paying attention to what the majority of climate scientists are saying and the evidence which they base their opinions upon.

    If you want people to think you are a crank then continue your fixation with Al Gore.

    Tell me how. Method, date, time, place. How will it vary from region to region, on a particular date.

    You want to know what the weather will be on June the 11th, 2100 in Dover Pennnsylvania?

  22. #22 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 11, 2007

    Mark,

    You’re great:

    Do you deny that the climate models differ – by 400%? If there’s that much of a schism, then what the hell are you “sure” of?

    What happened to the increase in hurricanes that were supposed to occur last year? (Do you “deny” that that was the GW believers forecast?)

    And is Michael Crichton on of your “crazy” deniers? He’s a scientist – who does his own research, not just looking at a part the IPCC sends to him – and he says you’re wrong. Is everyone that disagrees with you a denier? There are so many things that say you’re wrong and you don’t allow any room for doubt? I mean, those quacks I linked to hold some pretty high positions in science, to all be crazy. Especially when the climate models differ by such a wide degree.

    And calling people denialists – as in “Holocaust Deniers” – is not just rude but insulting to intelligent discussion. (Who the hell do you think you are?) I’m starting to wonder if you’re not a quack yourself.

    And I love this: “Al Gore,…is,…stupid on evolution, so what.”

    “So what”? Are you kidding me? You’re going to tell me he’s out to “popularize” science – when he doesn’t even believe in it?!? And, at the same time, you’re going to deny that throwing around science to back up bullshit (Ala “Quantum physics”) isn’t straight-up cultish thinking? What’s next from you? Are you gonna start backing some homeopaths? Jesus. Who’s the “denier” now?

    I wrote here because I thought, maybe, amongst “men of science” – and a sneering one at that – a serious conversation could be had but, hell, if you’re stuck in the same shitty circular thinking the cultists are then what’s the fucking point? Your “deniers” are coming out of the woodwork every day – blowing the whole idea of a “consensus” out of the water – so what do you have? Nothing but a belief. A belief based on nothing. And that, my friend, is called a cult. Especially when serious doubts are out there. Remember: it only takes one right person to make you wrong.

    BTW, I’m an atheist. And not a conspiracy theorist. I’ve got links – lots of them – to back up everything I say. Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, etc., are all whack-jobs who back YOUR position – not mine. YOU may not care about the religious backgrounds of the GW believers but, I say, leave that out and you miss the whole fucking picture. I’m not the first to say this is a religion but I may be the first to say what religion it is: new age.

    I’m going to leave you new agers now so you can get back to the very new age occupation of “predicting the future” for the next 100 years.

    Idiot.

  23. #23 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 11, 2007

    One more thing:

    I’ll admit I’m not a scientist – I’m a regular guy who studies cults and cultish thinking – that’s my field of interest and GW fits perfectly. It’s got leaders, big holes in the belief system, and lots of followers who don’t care about facts that contradict what they believe. And, rather than just prove their point – like scientists would – they call anyone who doesn’t believe as they do nasty names like “deniers”.

    My point is, as a regular guy, you’ve got to convince ME. Not guilt-trip me, or call me names, or e-mail me into submission, but PROVE WHAT YOU SAY. The “I” in IPCC stands for “Intergovernmental” – not “science” – and it’s filled with Greenpeace assholes and lots of other goofballs who advocate all kinds of anti-humanist, anti-progress, anti-modernity measures that ALL sound very new age. Until you cqn prove what you say, you’re a quack believer and all the name calling in the world won’t help you.

    Hell, from what I can see, not much of the general SUV-driving population is listening to you now,…

  24. #24 Chris Noble
    June 11, 2007

    And is Michael Crichton on of your “crazy” deniers? He’s a scientist – who does his own research, not just looking at a part the IPCC sends to him – and he says you’re wrong. Is everyone that disagrees with you a denier?

    Michael Crichton a scientist? He’s a medical doctor and writer of popular fiction. He does zero research in climate science. Why treat him as an authority and ignore the evidence presented by scientists in the field?

    One of the key characteristics of Denialism is the insistence on 100% certainty. This is not science. Science does not give 100% certainty. Instead science evaluates competing theories.

    AGW “skeptics” do not provide any predictions of their own. Their sole activity is to try to poke holes in the evidence.

  25. #25 Richard Simons
    June 11, 2007

    And is Michael Crichton on of your “crazy” deniers? He’s a scientist

    No he isn’t. More to the point, some of his science is rubbish. I’ve given a brief extract to undergraduate students to see if they could find the five goofs on the one page. That’s how good a ‘scientist’ he is. BTW, have you noticed that many of his books seem to have the theme ‘scientists’ hubris causes major problems followed by his downfall’?

  26. #26 Graculus
    June 11, 2007

    Do you deny that the climate models differ – by 400%? If there’s that much of a schism, then what the hell are you “sure” of?

    Models of the results of droping nuclear bombs differ by far more than 400%. Following your logic, we shouldn’t try to prevent nuclear bombs rom being dropped.

    A rather basic concept in math is the “variable”.

  27. #27 MarkH
    June 11, 2007

    Sam, I’m sorry you feel that way. I’ve visited your site and see you’re clearly working on getting back to a reality-based view of the world apparently after being indoctrinated – this is a good thing.

    However, I’m concerned you’ve been indoctrinated by global warming denialists and they are the ones evincing the more cult-like behavior here. Please don’t be angry, it’s not my intent to just piss you off. What we argue here is that the anti-science folks – and that includes new agers and altie woos – use a set of tactics to encourage belief in non-scientific ideas.

    Now, from your arguments there are the following problems. For one, you are equating the politicians who are supportive of this science as somehow responsible for its existence. While I fully admit, the left wing is just as anti-science as the right wing, they just have a different set of wacky beliefs. However that doesn’t mean that everything they believe is part of their new age belief system. They compartmentalize just like everyone else. Further, Al Gore isn’t the one who came up with this stuff, and the politicians that advance response to global warming aren’t just generating the science out of thin air whatever their other beliefs are. I’ve read about these things from them too, and it’s disappointing – Ben Goldacre I believe wrote a big piece on Tony Blair’s bizarre crystal-woo. But it isn’t fair to then suggest 100% of their actions are based on their stupid new age beliefs – or that ideas they advance can’t have independent validity. This is called poisoning the well, and isn’t good logic. I’m sorry.

    Then there is the problem of some of your talking points. For instance

    Do you deny that the climate models differ – by 400%? If there’s that much of a schism, then what the hell are you “sure” of?

    This is a classic denialist talking point and sounds great out of context. But the 400% disagreement is between 4 models with very different programmed conditions. The first is considered “conservative” – it assumes no input of additional greenhouse gases – what happens the temperature based on radiative forcing at a constant level of C02. The second is considered a model based on our current increasing levels. Then there are two “non-conservative” plots that assume no decreases in CO2 emissions and instead exponential increases really. To then say there is 400% disagreement is completely inane. They are modeling different things to try to give people an idea of what to expect based on different responses. So far, global mean temperature has tracked nicely between the lines of the first two conservative models.

    Nothing but a belief. A belief based on nothing. And that, my friend, is called a cult. Especially when serious doubts are out there. Remember: it only takes one right person to make you wrong.

    Here’s where you’re going off the deep-end Sam. You see, the lay public might be getting more interested because of people like Al Gore and Clinton (who you really have an excess of hatred for), but the scientists believe in it because every damn week we’re reading about it in Nature, Science, and the various trade publications of the science. You seem to think we all have some kind of Al Gore Antenna from which we receive instructions – it’s not like that. Some of us are independently informed based on what we read in the literature. Your assertion that the science it’s “infiltrated” by new age weirdos is frankly insane. Yes new-age weirdos might be more inclined to believe it, I completely agree that they are more fertile soil because of their tendencies towards environmentalism and a Luddite world view – just see my post on Julia Stephenson – but again I remind you that these people aren’t the ones coming up with the data, the papers, the findings, the models, the predictions and things like the IPCC report. I see that you really hate them, and that’s fine, you seem to have an independent and valid reason for this. But you’re conflate everything they believe in with being a new ager – this isn’t logical thinking. They can be right about something without having a good reason for it. And I think most environmentalists have absolutely no idea about the science, and couldn’t articulate it if you asked them, but that doesn’t mean the science is wrong.

    So, unless my Nature and Science journals are really cultish indoctrination material, you’re thesis that it’s an entirely engineered and new age belief is somewhat flawed.

    You’ve clearly come a long way, please come just a little farther here, and don’t be so quick to judge beliefs based on those who hold them. Just because Al Gore thinks something stupid about evolution doesn’t mean that if he says the “sky is blue” he’s lying. And don’t make the mistake of equating the science popularizers with the science itself.

  28. #28 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 11, 2007

    Mark,

    First, thanks for answering in a reasonable manner. I started to wonder about you there.

    Next, you’re wrong:

    I’ve never been indoctrinated – my wife was – and she was committed to the extent she killed her own mother. If you read my recent posts, you know that. That commitment opened my eyes to a lot.

    That event got me to wondering where she got this stuff from, and I discovered it was way bigger (and more dangerous) than I ever imagined. I mean, when a believer is as close to the presidency as Hillary is, then we’re in trouble.

    You claim “global warming denialists,…are the ones evincing the more cult-like behavior here”, but the truth is, no, you are. You insist on calling people “deniers” – knowing the ties to the phrase “holocaust deniers” – and that’s not enough to make you stop. You also insist the beliefs of a whack-job guru, like Al Gore, is unimportant. By not kicking Al Gore in the pants, science is wrecking it’s own image and that, too, is totally cultish behavior. Also, no matter how many holes people poke in your belief, your response is they’re cranks. Totally cultish.

    Have you ever studied cults, cultish behavior, and cultish beliefs? I find it’s ignorance of cult dynamics, the way people think it’s not to be taken seriously, or anyone who does talk about it is marginalized, that allows it to flourish.

    “You are equating the politicians who are supportive of this science as somehow responsible for its existence.”

    Isn’t that it’s public face? As I said, I’m just a regular guy, and, when I see whack-jobs insisting on it, what am I to think? Especially when they – not scientists – are talking about changing society from top-to-bottom? It seems, to me, you’ve got the same problem I do: credibility.

    “While I fully admit, the left wing is just as anti-science as the right wing, they just have a different set of wacky beliefs. However that doesn’t mean that everything they believe is part of their new age belief system. They compartmentalize just like everyone else.”

    Good point, but, if you don’t understand the dynamics of cultish thinking, how would you know? The Maharishi has had his followers papers published in science journals. Stanford University has had a long association with the Esalen Institute, and many science institutions have been infiltrated. Knowing what I know, who can I trust?

    “Al Gore isn’t the one who came up with this stuff, and the politicians that advance response to global warming aren’t just generating the science out of thin air whatever their other beliefs are. I’ve read about these things from them too, and it’s disappointing – Ben Goldacre I believe wrote a big piece on Tony Blair’s bizarre crystal-woo. But it isn’t fair to then suggest 100% of their actions are based on their stupid new age beliefs – or that ideas they advance can’t have independent validity. This is called poisoning the well, and isn’t good logic. I’m sorry.”

    No need to be sorry. I’m more than willing to learn. I just want a rational conversation, like we’re having now. But, again, if you (scientists) don’t insist the woos get out of your field – if you don’t expose them to the public – isn’t there some guilt by association? Why let Al Gore be the face of GW if all it’s going to get you is the mistrust of people like me?

    “So far, global mean temperature has tracked nicely between the lines of the first two conservative models.”

    Fair enough, but no one is denying GW. It’s the insistence that it’s a crisis that’s the problem. The NASA guy hasn’t said he’s wrong – just that he’s sorry for denying the crisis and being controversial. It’s the crisis that’s debated, not GW, which you seem hooked on. What do you say to that?

    “The lay public might be getting more interested because of people like Al Gore and Clinton (who you really have an excess of hatred for), but the scientists believe in it because every damn week we’re reading about it in Nature, Science, and the various trade publications of the science.”

    Yes, I do dislike the Clintons. They’re serial liars, as David Geffen and George Stephopolous (sp?) have said – and they know them well. Bill Clinton killed Ricky Ray Rector (a mentally disabled black man) just to prove he was “tough on crime”. What’s to like? And, considering the infiltration of science by woos, and the lack of enthusiasm, by science, for toning down their rhetoric, it seems to me science has created this problem of GW skepticism – not the general public. What seemed like a good idea (letting Al Gore spread the word) is sliming you and your efforts.

    “You seem to think we all have some kind of Al Gore Antenna from which we receive instructions – it’s not like that.”

    No, I don’t think that. But I do KNOW there are woos in science now. And not much of an effort to fight them. You seem to think you’re too good, or they’re too benign, for the full-on frontal assault that’s necessary to clear your profession. But, as my experience with my wife proves, you guys have no idea how much damage is being caused by your avoidance. Woos ARE in the science community and it’s time scientists, themselves, did something about it.

    “Some of us are independently informed based on what we read in the literature. Your assertion that the science it’s “infiltrated” by new age weirdos is frankly insane.”

    Really? I say, if you’re not aware of cultish thinking, then you wouldn’t know. I don’t know of many fields (science, politics, etc.) they haven’t infiltrated. I mean, there’s Hillary – and who’s stopping her? Exposing her? Nobody. She can hold “occult” beliefs, while preaching in black churches that would never accept her if they knew, and it’s left to people like me – with no platform or credibility – to expose her? Thanks a lot, Mr. Important Science Guy. Woos use your denial of their existence as a springboard for advancement. Deepak Chopra was published in science journals (and eventually exposed but not enough that the public rejects him as a con man) and look at this recent post (on the paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin) on a blog that covers some aspects of my interests:

    http://mysticbourgeoisie.blogspot.com/2007/06/diachronicity-causal-disconnecting.html

    James Randi has written, many times, about how scientists are taken in – he wouldn’t have a job if they weren’t. Woos are mainstream, Mark. To keep saying they’re not – or that science has clean hands – that’s disingenuous and ignorant.

    “Yes new-age weirdos might be more inclined to believe it, I completely agree that they are more fertile soil because of their tendencies towards environmentalism and a Luddite world view – just see my post on Julia Stephenson – but again I remind you that these people aren’t the ones coming up with the data, the papers, the findings, the models, the predictions and things like the IPCC report.”

    Sorry but the IPCC has no credibility. I know real scientists are working on GW but to say the IPCC is clean is bogus: it’s not. I’ll find you some links. (I’m rushed for time right now.)

    “I see that you really hate them, and that’s fine, you seem to have an independent and valid reason for this. But you’re conflate everything they believe in with being a new ager – this isn’t logical thinking.”

    I don’t do that. But I do know the extent this belief has infected our thinking – and how strenuously people, like you, want to deny it. That’s the weak spot – and the woo’s strength. As long as you deny their role, they can, literally, get away with murder.

    “They can be right about something without having a good reason for it. And I think most environmentalists have absolutely no idea about the science, and couldn’t articulate it if you asked them, but that doesn’t mean the science is wrong.”

    Again, nobody denies GW – it’s the “crisis” that’s being debated. That seems to be a distinction you (and others) just don’t get. You keep insisting “GW is real!” when no one’s arguing that. That’s what makes YOU look cultish.

    “Unless my Nature and Science journals are really cultish indoctrination material, you’re thesis that it’s an entirely engineered and new age belief is somewhat flawed.”

    Again: having no real knowledge of cultish thought and it’s infiltration of science and medicine = ignorance of where we are today. I’m not saying you’re wrong but you are missing a big part of the cultural picture. It was you who was asking why woos/cranks behave a certain way, not me. I just provided the answer, and, I’m telling you, they’re there.

    “You’ve clearly come a long way, please come just a little farther here, and don’t be so quick to judge beliefs based on those who hold them. Just because Al Gore thinks something stupid about evolution doesn’t mean that if he says the “sky is blue” he’s lying. And don’t make the mistake of equating the science popularizers with the science itself.”

    Fuck THAT. Didn’t you hear me: my wife killed her mother. I’ve suffered too much to buy that crap. You write with a pretty sneering tone – and I like that – but you’ve got to back it up, Mister. It’s up to scientists to clean their house – like seriously giving Al Gore the very-public boot – if you want that shit. That’s your job. I’ll trust you when you get on with it.

    I gotta go.

    Nice talking with you (really),

    Sam

  29. #29 MarkH
    June 11, 2007

    Wow, there’s a lot there. Let’s see if we can find a consensus here.

    I’ve never been indoctrinated – my wife was – and she was committed to the extent she killed her own mother. If you read my recent posts, you know that. That commitment opened my eyes to a lot.

    I just glanced over your mainpage and saw that you had seen it from “the inside”. I’m sorry to hear this happened.

    That event got me to wondering where she got this stuff from, and I discovered it was way bigger (and more dangerous) than I ever imagined. I mean, when a believer is as close to the presidency as Hillary is, then we’re in trouble.

    I’m not quite as alarmed as you are about this. We’ve had a lot of politicians and presidents with really stupid ideas. We’ve survived it. I’m not sure why new age beliefs are worse than those of a guy who thinks god told him to invade a country. I would, of course, prefer someone who didn’t have any superstitious tendencies – but given the choices between evangelicals trying to bring about end times and talking to god about wars, and someone who believes in crystal-woo – I’m going for the crystal woo.

    You claim “global warming denialists,…are the ones evincing the more cult-like behavior here”, but the truth is, no, you are. You insist on calling people “deniers” – knowing the ties to the phrase “holocaust deniers” – and that’s not enough to make you stop.

    This is because denialism is about techniques. It’s the alleging of conspiracies, cherry-picking data, citing fake experts, moving goalposts/impossible expectations of proof, and logical fallacies. The techniques are common to each major group of denialists like HIV/AIDS denialists, evolution denialists etc., that’s what we talk about. That and cranks and how they become fixated on certain ideas they start using the techniques to argue against superior evidence. It’s not a value judgement – we explicitly talk about times when even good qualities can result in crankish and denialist behavior – most recently with Cockburn.

    You also insist the beliefs of a whack-job guru, like Al Gore, is unimportant. By not kicking Al Gore in the pants, science is wrecking it’s own image and that, too, is totally cultish behavior. Also, no matter how many holes people poke in your belief, your response is they’re cranks. Totally cultish.

    It’s really not science’s place to kick politicians in the pants. I’d like to see the mechanism whereby we could do so. And I don’t just call people cranks for the hell of it. We describe what a crank is pretty carefully and what amounts to denialism.

    Have you ever studied cults, cultish behavior, and cultish beliefs? I find it’s ignorance of cult dynamics, the way people think it’s not to be taken seriously, or anyone who does talk about it is marginalized, that allows it to flourish.

    Yes, I’ve found scientology interesting, several other organized “religions” that are as bad or worse, and various charismatic-type religions based around a central leader. I have a great book at home on this – I’ll send you the title when I find it, it catalogues cult-movements throughout the last couple hundred years.

    “You are equating the politicians who are supportive of this science as somehow responsible for its existence.”

    Isn’t that it’s public face?

    No- it’s really not. Scientists simply don’t have a good mechanism to make people shut up that espouse anti-scientific BS, otherwise we could tell people like Dan Burton to shut up too. But, they’re powerful, they hold the purse-strings, and we don’t really have any power to censor people. Quite the opposite. Usually when scientists get together to condemn something it’s always a very cautious and boring retort usually release long after the initial insult – it tends to be quite slow.

    As I said, I’m just a regular guy, and, when I see whack-jobs insisting on it, what am I to think? Especially when they – not scientists – are talking about changing society from top-to-bottom? It seems, to me, you’ve got the same problem I do: credibility.

    I don’t like the wackjobs and alarmists either, it’s why I make fun of the independent and other examples of bad science reporting. It undermines the credibility of the science. Al Gore’s beliefs of theistic evolution, while disappointing, doesn’t do as much damage to his credibility on global warming for most people, including me, as it does for you.

    “While I fully admit, the left wing is just as anti-science as the right wing, they just have a different set of wacky beliefs. However that doesn’t mean that everything they believe is part of their new age belief system. They compartmentalize just like everyone else.”

    Good point, but, if you don’t understand the dynamics of cultish thinking, how would you know? The Maharishi has had his followers papers published in science journals. Stanford University has had a long association with the Esalen Institute, and many science institutions have been infiltrated. Knowing what I know, who can I trust?

    Now I’m getting a bit worried about you sam. You seem to be seeing cults everywhere. It’s a bit much. People might be credulous, uninformed, intellectually-lazy, short-sighted, illogical and irrational etc., without being cultish. You can find lots of similarities while lacking the key ones. How many people on the planet don’t believe in anything superstitious? 5%? 10% – if you’re lucky. For the most part people are able to operate rationally while holding on to some overvalued ideas. I’m not ready to throw out a majority of the population just because they have some religiosity or superstition.

    Why let Al Gore be the face of GW if all it’s going to get you is the mistrust of people like me?

    You act as if we have a choice? We’re happy to let him and Cheryl Crow and Laurie David and whatever lay popularizers run amok because we aren’t holding the reins of popular opinion. A few of us will try to correct them when they slip up, but the bigger threat is from when every slip up is used by denialists to undermine all the literature. I choose to spend more time on people using rhetoric to undermine real science – as long as Gore is closer to right than people like CEI and Michael Crichton I’m going to focus on what I see are the bigger problems.

    It’s the insistence that it’s a crisis that’s the problem. The NASA guy hasn’t said he’s wrong – just that he’s sorry for denying the crisis and being controversial. It’s the crisis that’s debated, not GW, which you seem hooked on. What do you say to that?

    Now that is a different debate. The problem is when people who are trying to fight alarmism – which we’re interested in too – start aligning themselves with CEI, fake experts like Crichton and Pat Michaels, and other denialist organizations that disparage the entire science which has valuable things to say that need to be addressed by governments world-wide.

    When you read the reports you see a lot more uncertainty, and people who are taking a good scientific tact will always be very guarded and conservative.

    And, considering the infiltration of science by woos, and the lack of enthusiasm, by science, for toning down their rhetoric, it seems to me science has created this problem of GW skepticism – not the general public.

    I don’t think we’ve been “infiltrated”. Have you met my friend Orac? He and I spend a great deal of time trying to protect the integrity of science from woo-based attacks. However, on AGW we at denialism blog have recognized a similar set of tactics among the “skeptics” – many who are denying very basic aspects of the science. Science has always been at war with anti-science. We do the best we can, but you act as though we have a great deal more power to communicate and enforce consensus than we really do. There isn’t a pain-circuit in Al Gore’s head we can activate we he quotes something not in the AR4 – like the risk of worldwide flooding from loss of ice sheets (on I think is likely real) – but that doesn’t always mean he’s wrong, or that he’s a net negative. Based on the hate for him, I’m beginning to wonder – but that’s also a property of those trying to undermine the science – the scalping of any effective spokesman.

    What seemed like a good idea (letting Al Gore spread the word) is sliming you and your efforts.

    Again, I’m not so sure it’s a net negative. There are a few people with some unreasoning hatred that might allow that to obscure any understanding of the science out of dislike for the man, but I don’t think that’s everybody – or even a significant portion of those that would be receptive to the message.

    No, I don’t think that. But I do KNOW there are woos in science now. And not much of an effort to fight them.

    Again, have you met my friend Orac?

    Woos ARE in the science community and it’s time scientists, themselves, did something about it.

    Again, we have little power to purge our profession of dissent, and the consequences of doing so creates obvious problems. We only really blacklist very clear instances of liars – like Hwang Woo Suk – or denialist cranks like Duesberg.

    I mean, there’s Hillary – and who’s stopping her? Exposing her? Nobody. She can hold “occult” beliefs, while preaching in black churches that would never accept her if they knew, and it’s left to people like me – with no platform or credibility – to expose her?

    What are you going to do about stupid ideas? Why is new age woo worse than believing the earth is 6000 years old or God talks to you about wars? I find the right-wing fundamentalists a lot more frightening based on their tendency towards fascism than the left-wing woo which seems more diffuse and ineffectual. To some degree it’s about choosing which battles to fight. If people want to believe in a magic crystal that’s a lot less threatening to me than people who believe god tells them to go to war.

    Thanks a lot, Mr. Important Science Guy. Woos use your denial of their existence as a springboard for advancement. Deepak Chopra was published in science journals (and eventually exposed but not enough that the public rejects him as a con man)

    Wait, who here on science blogs doesn’t mock Chopra excessively? I have, orac has, PZ has. Most the skeptic sites on the net do. No one really takes him seriously.

    James Randi has written, many times, about how scientists are taken in – he wouldn’t have a job if they weren’t. Woos are mainstream, Mark. To keep saying they’re not – or that science has clean hands – that’s disingenuous and ignorant.

    I’m not exactly clear on who these infiltrators are now? Is it just people who talk about new age crap like Chopra? Is it anger over crap like NCCAM (a very clear example of woo in science)? Or are you really concerned that people who work in climate science are falsifying because they’re crystal-clutching morons?

    Ok now these two together:

    Sorry but the IPCC has no credibility. I know real scientists are working on GW but to say the IPCC is clean is bogus: it’s not. I’ll find you some links. (I’m rushed for time right now.)

    Again, nobody denies GW – it’s the “crisis” that’s being debated. That seems to be a distinction you (and others) just don’t get. You keep insisting “GW is real!” when no one’s arguing that. That’s what makes YOU look cultish.

    You say the IPCC report is garbage then you say that no one is arguing against the science? What is the science if you’re going to throw away all the consensus documentation? The individual papers people will throw around and cherry-pick? There are problems with creating consensus science, but people are throwing out the baby with the bathwater here, if anything the IPCC is too conservative. Also in a bunch of threads here we’ve had people denying all sorts of aspects of the science, from the ability to measure global temperature at all, to the use of proxies, to the old canard that it stopped in 1998 -etc. Within the last couple days you can see examples of people believing that basic aspects of the science simply don’t exist – while confusing basic things like climate and weather. There is a clear desire for people to deny things like the mere ability to predict climate (meanwhile they live in temperate zones) or make the measurements that are the basis of the science. I think GW science is under attack from the top down, and if anything, the alarmist crackpots are being used to undermine the legitimate stuff.

    Again: having no real knowledge of cultish thought and it’s infiltration of science and medicine = ignorance of where we are today. I’m not saying you’re wrong but you are missing a big part of the cultural picture. It was you who was asking why woos/cranks behave a certain way, not me. I just provided the answer, and, I’m telling you, they’re there.

    Who are these infiltrators? You seem upset with the popularizers – who are the scientists who are falsifying data to create a false environmentalist utopia? I don’t see them, you’re right. This stuff isn’t getting published in Medical Hypotheses with the Geier’s, these articles come out in our best journals (not a guarantee of being right- but still). The problem I have with this view is this paranoid belief that our literature is contaminated because of the woo-based beliefs of the popularizers.

    Fuck THAT. Didn’t you hear me: my wife killed her mother. I’ve suffered too much to buy that crap. You write with a pretty sneering tone – and I like that – but you’ve got to back it up, Mister. It’s up to scientists to clean their house – like seriously giving Al Gore the very-public boot – if you want that shit. That’s your job. I’ll trust you when you get on with it.

    Again how? Who is the science-pope who can excommunicate him? It’s one thing to argue against alarmism, I try to when I can – I think it undermines the science too, but the problem is advocacy requires some alarmism. I’ll tell you briefly why I think the science deserves attention.

    AGW is happening, the full context is not clear but climate changes are going to have pretty drastic effects on a large number of people.

    The “perfect climate” is not known, the skeptics are correct, but it’s clear that we’ve adapted to our current climate, and based on what we know of paleoclimate and similar periods of warmth things could get really wet really fast. While the IPCC doesn’t include the data from the loss of the ice-sheets in the current sea-level calculations, it’s just a matter of volume calculations (and confirmation from paleoclimate) to see that the loss of significant portions of ice cover could lead to massive displacement of people around the globe from huge increases in sea-level. I think in a few years we’ll have enough data to conclude this is a real threat – but it’s still tenuous stuff.

    While humans will adapt and survive, I have no doubt, there are many more good reasons to focus on technology to remove fossil-fuels and the CO2 they emit from our energy supply than the expectation that somehow we’ll figure everything out. There is enough data to suggest a highly-cautious approach. We’re venturing into new territory here, and care is needed.

  30. #30 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 11, 2007

    Look, nothing personal, but I’m sorry I wrote in. This is making me too depressed to go on talking.

    If the smartest guys we got (scientists, like the great god, Orac) can’t do more than play David Letterman and “mock” shit then we deserve all the murders, brainwashing, and other new age bullshit, we get. I used to defend facts and science but no more. You’re worthless. It’s no wonder people believe the goofy shit they do – you guys take no responsibility for straightening it out. A bunch of you can get together to sign off on GW but not on saying Al and Hil are religious nuts who shouldn’t be listened to about science? Fine, I got it – my wife’s point is clear: scientists – as opposed to pseudoscientists who claim to do everything – are a bunch of helpless, sneering, wimps with no balls to say anything meaningful to ordinary people’s lives. We’re on our own.

    On behalf of anyone who needs clarity in a mixed up world:

    Thanks for nothing.

  31. #31 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 11, 2007

    I’m sorry about my tone on that last missive – I’m living with a pseudoscience murder that no one else cares about – it can get you down.

    Again: sorry.

  32. #32 MarkH
    June 11, 2007

    It’s ok Sam, I’m sorry we’re a disappointment. You’re clearly dealing with a lot of grief.

    I still can’t agree that we should stand up to politicians who have superstitions universally however. If we did, who would we elect? When was the last time an open-atheist ran for anything and won?

    All we can do is look at the prospective candidates and see which one has the least-scary superstitions, least-worrisome anti-science positions and those that seem least-likely to try to push them on everyone else. Again, I think Republicans are currently winning in just about all categories. It would be exceedingly difficult to immediately dismiss any politician in the world who evinced a belief in something unsubstantiated – in this country it’s practically a requirement for office. Given that’s our starting point, I just hold my nose and vote for the one who seems to have the best grasp on reality.

    And people like Orac and I, we’re doing the best we can with the methods we have available. This is a free country, and to some degree we have to tolerate stupid anti-scientific ideas. When there is significant public safety risk we try to up the ante – like the the woo types start trying more agressive and dangerous therapies – or the anti-science is likely to affect people’s lives. But for the most part all we can do is hope to inform, entertainingly when possible, about the silliness of the basis of many woo-beliefs. Scientists simply don’t have a great deal of authority in this country – celebrities have far more than any of us.

    It’s sad, but you wonder why we’re happy to have any celebrity pay attention to the science? They’re twits, but who else gets the public’s attention?

  33. #33 Richard Simons
    June 11, 2007

    Sam: It comes clearly through your writing that you are extremely upset, and it sounds with justification. I hope that you find a way to deal with your problems.

    As a non-American, I have no idea what your complaint is against Hillary Clinton. Why is it important to climatologists outside the US and just what is it you feel the international community of scientists should do about her? (Do not read any of this as being snarky – that is not the intent at all.)

  34. #34 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 12, 2007

    Mark, I see you live in the San Francisco Bay Area – would you care to meet? (Please?) I think we need to talk face-to-face. Drop me an e-mail: themachoresponse@gmail.com

    Richard,

    Thank you very much. I’m trying activism as a way to get better. To answer your question:

    Hillary Clinton is a new age cultist, and – like Arrianna Huffington – a goddess figure. We know, for sure, she has been engaging with psychics, and handing out “bio-electric shields”, to like-minded individuals like Cherie Blair. Both David Geffen and George Stephanopolous – who, both, know the Clinton’s well from working with them – have nailed them, publicly, as serial liars. It is my opinion that cultish thinking is fueling this, post-millennial, Age of Unreason. As I said to Mark, previously, we can’t trust the people who don’t believe in science to popularize it. Most, if not all, of the public people (politicians, celebrities) who are scaring the public, about America, GW, and many other things, have revealed their cultish beliefs somewhere in the public sphere.:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/09/13/DDGHGL3I271.DTL

    http://themachoresponse.blogspot.com/2007/04/get-protection.html

    http://themachoresponse.blogspot.com/2007/06/see-new-agers-for-what-they-are.html

    http://www.frankfuredi.com/articles/unreason-20051118.shtml

    As wacky as it sounds, almost every popular new age idea, alive today, was shared by Heidrich Himmler. Those of us who aren’t part of the new age miss the symbolism at work – and the activities behind them. If you think of new age, not as a set of “wacky beliefs”, but as a collection of individuals, groups, seminars, and organisations, that are all working together to undermine American society, by confusing rational discussion, then you start to get to the crux of what’s going on. Those who I would identify as new agers are even more dangerous, than those in organized religion, because (through the use of thought-stopping language) their interests are in attaining a nazi-like power – over reason and, yes, freedom – for the sake of socialism and (they think) themselves. And, because we’ve underestimated them for so long, we’ve allowed them to move freely.

    http://www.google.com/search?num=100&hl=en&safe=off&c2coff=1&q=Himmler+%22new+age%22&btnG=Search

    http://themachoresponse.blogspot.com/2007/06/squash-soft-headed-cockroaches-now.html

    Mark thinks I’m suggesting to eliminate anyone who believes anything bizarre, I’m not. But I do think it’s time for skeptics, etc., to do something we’ve never seriously considered before – which is to identify our morality and values – and start to publicly defend them to-the-hilt. Don’t give new agers air to breathe. And I would start, for a variety of reasons (both strategic and personal) with joining the doctors of England in their full-court press against homeopathy.

    http://news.google.com/news?um=1&tab=wn&hl=en&q=homeopathic%20NHS

    I have to stop now, but, I’d suggest a *thorough* look at these blogs:

    Mine (which is angry, and I apologize for that, but you know,..):

    http://www.themachoresponse.blogspot.com/

    This one (by the internet guru, and best selling author, Christopher Locke) is very important – start at the beginning of his calendar and work forward:

    http://mysticbourgeoisie.blogspot.com/

    Steve Salerno’s Self-Help and Actualization Movement (S.H.A.M.) blog:

    http://shambook.blogspot.com/index.html

    And, for info and laughs, Cosmic Connie’s:

    http://cosmicconnie.blogspot.com/

    Thanks for writing.

  35. #35 LanceR
    June 12, 2007

    Interesting. Reading this Scammed Sam’s comments, I can see the evolution of a crank in action. From the beginning he stated; “Folks, GW is a(nother) new age scam. The “science” is based on computer models that aren’t reliable”. When challenged, he went on a bit of a tirade about Michael Crichton being a scientist, Al Gore being a socialist, and climate change is all new-age bunk. Towards the end, we have a plea for sympathy, and “Again, nobody denies GW – ” with the usual bullflop about disputing the crisis.

    Checking out his blog, this guy has a serious obsession with “new-age” claptrap. Calling them socialists, nazis, and claiming a worldwide conspiracy to “destroy America”.

    Someone’s not playing with a full deck, methinks.

    LanceR

  36. #36 rmp
    June 12, 2007

    LanceR, I suspect that Scam Sam is being very sincere. I certainly don’t agree with some of his arguments and I do agree that they needed to be challenged. However, we are not well served by the name calling.

  37. #37 LanceR
    June 12, 2007

    I’m not questioning his sincerity. I’m questioning his sanity. I believe I’m seeing signs of classic paranoid ideations, combined with a megalomaniacal “messiah complex”. He says we should call people on their “cultish” thinking. I agree, and we should begin with his paranoid delusions of a global conspiracy of “new-agers”.

    LanceR

  38. #38 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 13, 2007

    LanceR,

    This is loonngg.

    I’ve already stated I’m “just a guy”, so I’m honestly making no claims to total accuracy (and I also said I’m willing to learn) so let me, seriously, ask YOU to explain some things:

    Where are these people getting this stuff from?

    The people, like Hillary, with the psychics, and the “bio-shields”, who think there are worse things than infidelity in a “marriage”? Handing out “bio-shields” to Cherie Blair, Tony Blair’s wife, who’s known for trying to transfer “negative energy” to people? Tony’s also been found to be big on re-birthing rituals. I know Hillary has psychics and Tony and Cherie have a guru, Carole Caplain, who is a known member of the Exigis (sp?) cult. Coincidence? All of them are GW supporters, with a lot of power, who are, apparently, not stupid or luddites.

    Why does Gorby’s yearly “State of the World Forum”, in cult-over-run San Francisco, choose to regularly feature cultists and con men? Why does Bill Clinton – who’s lauded for his intelligence – work with Tony Robbins? Why does Arrianna Huffington refer to herself as a 4,000 year old Goddess – and feature quacks, etc., on her blog? Why is Stanford University hooked up with the profoundly weird Esalen Instutute – a place we know has hosted it’s share of nazis, quacks, and eugenicists?

    Ellen, who supports GW and introduced “The Secret” to America, announced she visits psychics when she hosted the Oscars. No one said a thing, but there was a huge uproar when Nancy Reagan was exposed. I’m not equating a comedian with the First Lady but it does beg the question: if psychics are bad/goofy/harmful, why no comments on all the “popularizers of science” being caught in the grips of occultists and new agers? And what does it mean?

    Oprah introduces a new occult belief weekly, it seems, and – what? – nothing. She’s the most popular lady in America. Even with acknowledged cultists jumping on her couch (Tom) showing off their new figures (Kirsty) and making buddy pictures (John T.). All of them followers of “the most dangerous cult in the world” – and GW supporters.

    Why have our bookstores turn the “occult” section into the “new age” section – and then into the “mind/body” section? Who said to? And why is New Age Magazine now the Mind/Body Magazine? And why are hospitals so hot on mind/body medicine? I really want to know: who’s behind this?

    A side-thought just popped in my mind: if Middle-Eastern Sunnis and Shias can get caught in the grip of a “death cult” that says to blow yourself up, what makes our guys so special they can’t be caught in a new age one that says to actively demoralize the United States? And why – even after being attacked – do so many Americans want America to lose a war now? Even against groups who worship the idea of a 12th imam returning to end the world? Whose believers have said they want to wipe Israel off the map? I think stopping all of that – by force if necessary – is worth it. What’s the problem? War is bad – even if you don’t start it?

    Moving on, I lived in France, so I know what socialism is. People in France give up 45% of their income for “universal healthcare’ – the same thing Hillary wants to bring here and Michael Moore says is the best – do you want to do that? I don’t. I feel sorry for my French friends – in the villages, not Paris – because their lives are so miserable. Most French people get up in the morning with no ambition to succeed because they can’t – they have no money. The state takes it all. Everything – the roads, television, everything – is taxed. They have no avenue to disagree but strike, which they do almost daily, to no effect. (That’s why Sarcozy’s election is such a big deal: there might be hope for change, to a system more like ours, however flawed.) Why is that so attractive to Hillary? Or her recent statement that “some people” are going to have to lose their money? Sounds like socialism to me.

    BTW, 75% of the French (I think) use homeopathy as medicine. Instead of “Head-On”, “magic rocks” are sold on TV to heal aches and pains. Crystals are huge. (The French have laws against cults, they’re so prevalent.) They have an anti-human outlook that allows the animals to live better than they do. They are hooked on “nature” as opposed to seeing themselves as part of nature. They really don’t see humans as capable of doing much. But leftists and new agers are constantly on us because the French don’t agree with how we do things. Why? Is the French example so great? With their cults, racism, anti-semitism, alternative medicine, etc.? Who’s behind these ideas?

    Now, take a look at Steve Salerno’s blog: he’s currently writing about the destruction of families – and men especially – by healers and shamen.

    Look at Cosmic Connie’s blog: she’s writing about sex cults going after adults and children.

    Look at the Mystic Bourgeoisie blog: he’s writing about cultish thinking all over the place, high and low.

    Look at my blog: it’s there.

    None of us are crazy. Steve Salerno worked for the publisher of cultish books and is the best-selling author of “SHAM (How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless”. (Read that title again.) Connie helps books get published but also found an interest in the con of new age. Christopher Locke is the author of a wildly successful book on internet marketing and a former “believer” who snapped out of it. And I saw my wife go crazy and kill her mother. We’re a bunch of ok-smart but very average people who now know horrible things the rest of you apparently “mock” for kicks or to make yourselves feel superior. Believers aren’t stupid – it’s not an intelligence test – it’s a bunch of belief systems that followers will take to the inth degree to fulfill, just like Al Qaeda. It’s even broken up, like Al Qaeda, so no one has to necessarily be in touch with the others. (As a matter of fact, they pretty much agree not to publicly diss each other.) And the only thing standing in their way is us – and reason.

    Here’s some more links on cults – and environmentalism – and I can’t stress enough how much you should look at this stuff – it didn’t just pop out of thin air. They’ve had a 40 year start on us:

    Understanding The New Age (one of the earliest books on the subject – and it’s online): http://www.ccel.us/newage.toc.html

    The New Age – A Pathway to Paradise ? (1983) – A christian video (that’s a warning) on the subject: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6160041888120783114&q=new+age

    A Google search on Oprah and new age: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=oprah+new+age&btnG=Google+Search

    England’s First Post, giving a short history of Cherie Blair and calling her “mad”: http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/index.php?menuID=1&subID=1354

    My piece on new age medicine here and in England – and how they connect: http://themachoresponse.blogspot.com/2007/05/you-dont-read-me-i-read-you.html

    KOMO TV’s (Seattle) coverage of a homeopathy scam: http://komotv.com/stories/41920.htm

    Small article on a cult operating in Chicago: http://www.chicagoist.com/archives/2007/01/18/city_puts_the_drop_on_clothing_boxes.php

    A list I found of the credentials of some local medical practioners: http://themachoresponse.blogspot.com/2007/05/take-your-new-age-medicine.html

    And, now, to information and the real effects of GW and new age environmentalism:

    A wikipedia profile of Savitri Devi Mukherji – the nazi who “is credited with pioneering Neo-Nazi interest in occultism, Deep Ecology, and the New Age movement”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savitri_Devi

    Frank Furedi on “denial”: http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/dev/article/2792/

    Czech president Vaclav Klaus on the IPCC and environmentalists as religious: http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?idarticle=8342

    USA Today tying environmentalism with religion: http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2006-07-06-greengospels_x.htm

    Alexander Cockburn asks if GW is a “sin”: http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn04282007.html

    Last warning: 10 years to save world: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-2569944,00.html

    Super new ager Prince Charles says climate change battle is like World War II: http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=070501183732.qcbdhxdj&show_article=1

    USA Today reporting science popularizer Gore is NOT trying to “Save The Planet”: http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2006-08-09-gore-green_x.htm

    USA Today reporting science popularizer John Travolta is NOT trying to “Save The Planet”: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/showbiz/article-23390848-details/Air+miles+Travolta+urges+fans+to+%27do+their+bit%27+for+the+environment/article.do

    Steven Hawking declaring the world is coming to an end: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/newscomment.html?in_article_id=399004&in_page_id=1787

    Greenpeace encouraging people to act like nazis based on what car you drive: http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/gasguzzler/index.html

    Greenpeace’s “angry kid” who looks suspiciously like the villian in Star wars: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BY7875_rv1s

    Spiked Magazine on “authoritarian policies” surrounding environmentalism: http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/1019/

    Spiked Magazine on the inability to speak out against these environmental trends: http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/1782/

    Spiked Magazine on how GW is blamed for everything: http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/2045/

    Spiked Magazine on the shaming of ‘enviro-criminals”: http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/2898/

    Greens want to tax people for environmentalism: http://www.thestar.com/News/article/222051

    Mother almost put in jail for incorrect recycling: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=394997&in_page_id=1770

    Michael Crichton on fear and complexity: http://www.michaelcrichton.com/speeches/complexity/complexity.html

    Environmental group says “children are bad”: http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,21684156-5009760,00.html

    Debate: “Global Warming Is Not A Crisis”: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9082151

    Finantial Post on the scientific “consensus”: http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/financialpost/story.html?id=c47c1209-233b-412c-b6d1-5c755457a8af

    NASA Chief on GW: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19058588

    Mens News Daily on “Faith based Science”: http://mensnewsdaily.com/2006/06/19/faith-based-science-1-anthropogenic-global-warming/

  39. #39 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 13, 2007

    Wow – silencio – pretty bizarre for a blog about denial,…

  40. #40 LanceR
    June 13, 2007

    Whence comes this obsession with new-age quackery? I have to agree that it is just as inane as fundamentalist quackery, but I fail to see the threat. New-age quackery is nothing new. As long as there have been people, there have been unscrupulous people to sell them talismans, charms and potions. I fail to see the connection to global warming.

    What concerns me is your insistence that there is a global conspiracy of “occultists”. Rather reminds me of the “Satanic Ritual Abuse” obsession of the 80s. Are there bad people who do bad things? Yes. Are there people who will take advantage of other people’s gullibility? Certainly. Are they engaged in a conspiracy to “destroy America”? Laughable.

    There has been a right-wing push to marginalize science in the name of corporate profits. This includes these outright lies about environmentalists wanting to eliminate the human race, return all of civilization to a hunter-gatherer level, and punish people for not being green enough. If they slander science and scientists loudly enough, the common person won’t believe the science. It’s just that simple.

    Do you honestly not see the cultish nature of *your* thinking? The “us vs them” antagonism is a classic sign of a cult. It sounds to me like you have rejected the “god” portion of fundamentalist Xtianity, without rejecting the spiritual warfare aspects.

    Seriously, I am concerned about you.

    LanceR

  41. #41 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 13, 2007

    LanceR,

    I get that question – why new age? – a lot. A better question is why this one-sided acceptance of new age nonsense while religion is treated as evil? THAT’S what lets them get away with what they do.

    You fail to see the threat? In his excellent book, On Bullshit, professor Harry G. Frankfurter makes the point that bullshit is WORSE than lying because liars, at least, care about the truth – they just don’t want you to know what it is. Bullshitters DON’T CARE ABOUT THE TRUTH – and, he makes clear, new agers are bullshitters. You ought to pick it up.

    You fail to see the threat? Then you didn’t look at my links about people being taxed, shamed, threatened, arrested, and encouraged to act like assholes. Are those good things? Who’s in denial now?

    What concerns me is your insistence that there is a global conspiracy of “occultists”.

    Again: I told you to go look at the blogs I mentioned earlier. If you don’t, then you just don’t want to know. Badgering me isn’t going to make the cults go away.

    There has been a right-wing push to marginalize science in the name of corporate profits.

    And there has been a “if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em” move by cults – which is worse? You can prove your way out of “marginalization” but what can you do about the infiltration of science and medicine? It’s a much bigger problem.

    Do you honestly not see the cultish nature of *your* thinking? The “us vs them” antagonism is a classic sign of a cult. It sounds to me like you have rejected the “god” portion of fundamentalist Xtianity, without rejecting the spiritual warfare aspects.

    Please. When, like me, you know people are being killed by this, and families are being destroyed, and authority in government, medicine, science, men (generally) are being undermined, it’s you who sounds silly. What is this attitude to keep harping on the right but to merely “mock” the left? That’s a bias you ought to investigate your own conscience about. I have no “us vs. them” attitude but one that says problems are problems and this one is BIG. Religion, at least, teaches people to try and reach out to thier fellow man. New age’s message is “Be true to yourself” and if that means being evil, so be it. That’s a danger, not just to us as individuals but to society, because no society can hold where everyone denies they have a responsiblity to others.

    I gotta go to work but I’ll end with this: quit attacking me and, just for a moment, look at my links and try to take what I’m saying as though I’m as smart and compassionate as I assume you are. That’s all I ask.

    Better you’re concerned about me than living with what I carry and, in this age of religious wars and Oprah-inspired unreason, worrying about all of us.

  42. #42 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 13, 2007

    Sorry, that’s Harry G. Frankfurt – not Frankfurter.

    Now go look at those blogs.

  43. #43 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 14, 2007

    Again – nada: you guys are incredible.

    You talk a whole lot of smack for a bunch of cowards.

  44. #44 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 14, 2007

    Freedom, not climate, is at risk
    By Vaclav Klaus
    Published: June 13 2007 17:44 | Last updated: June 13 2007 17:44
    We are living in strange times. One exceptionally warm winter is enough – irrespective of the fact that in the course of the 20th century the global temperature increased only by 0.6 per cent – for the environmentalists and their followers to suggest radical measures to do something about the weather, and to do it right now.

    Ask President Klaus

    Is climate change just propaganda? Vaclav Klaus will answer your questions in an online Q&A. Post a query now
    In the past year, Al Gore’s so-called “documentary” film was shown in cinemas worldwide, Britain’s – more or less Tony Blair’s – Stern report was published, the fourth report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was put together and the Group of Eight summit announced ambitions to do something about the weather. Rational and freedom-loving people have to respond. The dictates of political correctness are strict and only one permitted truth, not for the first time in human history, is imposed on us. Everything else is denounced.

    The author Michael Crichton stated it clearly: “the greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda”. I feel the same way, because global warming hysteria has become a prime example of the truth versus propaganda problem. It requires courage to oppose the “established” truth, although a lot of people – including top-class scientists – see the issue of climate change entirely differently. They protest against the arrogance of those who advocate the global warming hypothesis and relate it to human activities.

    As someone who lived under communism for most of his life, I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not in communism. This ideology wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning.

    The environmentalists ask for immediate political action because they do not believe in the long-term positive impact of economic growth and ignore both the technological progress that future generations will undoubtedly enjoy, and the proven fact that the higher the wealth of society, the higher is the quality of the environment. They are Malthusian pessimists.

    The scientists should help us and take into consideration the political effects of their scientific opinions. They have an obligation to declare their political and value assumptions and how much they have affected their selection and interpretation of scientific evidence.

    Does it make any sense to speak about warming of the Earth when we see it in the context of the evolution of our planet over hundreds of millions of years? Every child is taught at school about temperature variations, about the ice ages, about the much warmer climate in the Middle Ages. All of us have noticed that even during our life-time temperature changes occur (in both directions).

    Due to advances in technology, increases in disposable wealth, the rationality of institutions and the ability of countries to organise themselves, the adaptability of human society has been radically increased. It will continue to increase and will solve any potential consequences of mild climate changes.

    I agree with Professor Richard Lindzen from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who said: “future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that the early 21st century’s developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally averaged temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree, and, on the basis of gross exaggerations of highly uncertain computer projections combined into implausible chains of inference, proceeded to contemplate a roll-back of the industrial age”.

    The issue of global warming is more about social than natural sciences and more about man and his freedom than about tenths of a degree Celsius changes in average global temperature.

    As a witness to today’s worldwide debate on climate change, I suggest the following:
    ■Small climate changes do not demand far-reaching restrictive measures
    ■Any suppression of freedom and democracy should be avoided
    ■Instead of organising people from above, let us allow everyone to live as he wants
    ■Let us resist the politicisation of science and oppose the term “scientific consensus”, which is always achieved only by a loud minority, never by a silent majority
    ■Instead of speaking about “the environment”, let us be attentive to it in our personal behaviour
    ■Let us be humble but confident in the spontaneous evolution of human society. Let us trust its rationality and not try to slow it down or divert it in any direction
    ■Let us not scare ourselves with catastrophic forecasts, or use them to defend and promote irrational interventions in human lives.

    The writer is President of the Czech Republic

  45. #45 Luna_the_cat
    June 14, 2007

    Let me just ask you this, Scam Sam —

    Why do you consider a politician to be a source for more accurate analysis than the American Geophysical Union?

    Why do you think that “human societal adaptation” is NOT at least occasionally driven by a small set of vocal experts saying things like, “Guys? Pay attention, we have a problem.”

    Do you understand the point I am making in this comment?

  46. #46 llewelly
    June 14, 2007

    The author Michael Crichton stated it clearly: “the greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda”.

    Indeed. And those who have overcome that challenge have found Crichton’s words to be propaganda.

  47. #47 Richard Simons
    June 14, 2007

    . . . in the course of the 20th century the global temperature increased only by 0.6 per cent . . .

    The only way this has meaning is if the temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin, implying the increase has been about 1.7C (3.1F). A reason for expressing it this way would be to make the increase look smaller than it actually has been.

    Alternatively, if it is based on degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit it is a clear demonstration that the writer is completely ignorant of basic physics, in which case the rest of the article is probably best ignored.

  48. #48 Luna_the_cat
    June 15, 2007

    Er, Richard — *cough* sorry, but Celsius and Kelvin are the same scale. Kelvin is just Celsius extended down to absolute zero. Sorry.

  49. #49 Brian
    June 15, 2007

    But Luna, a percentage increase is vastly different depending on where you START the scale, hence kelvin being the only one that makes real sense, since it has a non-arbitrary starting point. The scale of the measurement is kinda unimportant (at least, as long as they’re both constants) when you’re talking about percentage changes. For the Denialist, kelvin typically has the advantage of adding a few hundred degrees to the measurement ahead of time, minimizing any proportions that come from temperature change.

    ex: Today is 85f degrees here, so it’s ~30c and ~303k. Yesterday was 80f (a change of about 3.5 – 4 degrees c), so there was a ~13% increase in temperature if you’re measuring in celsius, and a ~1.3% increase if you’re measuring in kelvin. Unless my math is wrong.

  50. #50 Luna_the_cat
    June 15, 2007

    Brian — yeah, ok. Good point; I hadn’t thought it all the way through.

  51. #51 TTT
    June 15, 2007

    Sam, you’re in REAL bad shape if you want to rely on Michael Crichton as the voice of reason to defend humanity against evil New Age murderers.

    In his autobiography “Travels,” Crichton swears to the authenticity of psychic spoonbending, claims to have personally undergone both demonic possession and exorcism, and to have located and conversed–out loud, in English–with sentient plants. He also says the Germ Theory of Disease is a lie, no evidence, the scientific community is bribed, blah blah type of tinfoil-hat crapola that he subsequently adapted for climate change.

    In that avalanche of blue text you have nothing from science journals–just one op-ed after another, typically from idle thinktank pseudointellectuals whose public relevance should have ended the moment the Berlin Wall fell.

  52. #52 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 15, 2007

    TTT,

    Oh *snap* – I’m going to check out “Travels” – if what you say is true then, yea, I’ve got some re-thinking to do (again) but isn’t that, partially, why I’m here? I told you, I’m not above learning, and this has all been one hell of a journey back to reality and a sense of stability.

    About those links: I agree that they’re not science journals but, when dealing with fruitcakes, you’ve got to go where the info is and most of it is on the fringes or locked right in the corridors of power – a fact I’ve had to accept.

    Having said that, I want to make something clear: I don’t believe in this stuff. But I know other people do – passionately – and that’s the scary part. The president of Iran really does want to blow up Israel so the 12th Imam can return. New Agers really do believe that reason and logic are bad, etc. And they are a very-real threat. More than most sane people give them credit for.

    I’ma go check out “Travels”, and Realclimate, and get back to you but, let me say to those of you that are kind enough not to be to harsh, that I appreciate the guidance, O.K.?

    It’s been one hell of a ride,…

  53. #53 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 16, 2007

    I couldn’t find a copy of “Travels”, but I did read the NYT review of it, and it’s pretty devastating:

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DE4DC163FF935A15755C0A96E948260

    This just illustrates the problem, as I see it – what is an average person supposed to do with so much bullshit out there?

  54. #54 Brian
    June 16, 2007

    Hi Sam,

    That’s an excellent question. Unfortunately, it’s hard to identify bullshit when you’re reading it, because it’s usually written in a way that’s intended to make sense. That’s a problem on both sides of pretty much every argument since the actual scientific literature tends to be a bit dense, and so a lot of simplification happens along the way to more public outlets.

    The basic idea I’ve tried to use is to assume that any celebrity (Al Gore, Crichton, etc.) is probably not a reliable source of information, and the same thing for reporters in most media outlets, because intentionally or not, they frequently misunderstand/misrepresent the findings of major studies. They’re not wrong 100% of the time, but they’re usually wrong SOME percentage of the time.

    The best bet is to go right to the source: peer-reviewed academic journals (there are LOTS of them). One problem is that in many cases it’s expensive or difficult to actually get those articles. Publishing papers is a business too, so often they require expensive subscriptions. A way to get around that is to go to a university library (if you have free access to one), or to use google scholar and hope that the authors have posted pdfs of their papers from their own websites.

    Another problem is that these papers do assume quite a bit of prior knowledge and expertise of a field, so it becomes difficult to really get the big picture if you’re just starting to read about a new topic. Once every several years a big name in a given field will publish a good literature review, which typically brings together all of the relevant papers that a new researcher should be aware of. Google scholar is nice when it comes to this, because you can see how often a review has been cited. If that number is high, you can generally assume that it’s a pretty good representation of the field up until about the year it was written. Those papers tend to be much more accessible, because their whole purpose is to help someone get familiar with a new area.

    Anyway, that was long. Point is, there’s usually a ton of simplification and, unfortunately, misrepresentation when scientific literature is presented to the general public. Your only real way around this is to read those sources, and report directly from them. That’s why people here were complaining about quoting the Czech president or Crichton, and why a lot of people spend a lot of effort trying to explain that regardless of Gore’s accuracy in representing scientific literature, he’s not the REASON we understand what we do. If it’s not coming directly from an academic journal, it’s hard to know whether it reflects what the researchers actually reported.

    PS: A great example of misrepresentation is the videogame-violence link. It’s FAR more tenuous than media outlets would lead everyone to believe.

  55. #55 Anonymous
    June 16, 2007

    Sam, you are one tough and intelligent guy who clearly battles the plentiful masquerades and rampant lying in “our age of rhetoric.” Whether you like it or not; you are on your way to becoming a scientist – a practitioner of the best way of knowing that mankind has ever discovered. I want you on my side, the side of science – objective inquiry, truth-telling, no distortions, no lying. Who done what to whom.

    Anybody who detests the new-age hucksterism of Deepak Chopra and Hillary Clinton’s foul lawyering, can’t be all bad. Your basic no nonsense outlook and critical intelligence are what science is all about. Your personal tragedy makes it more painful than most of us can grasp. Your contempt and anger against linguistic schuck and jive is not an illness. Use it.

    I passionately disagree with much of what you claim, especially your position about global heating, but I predict that you will keep looking. That’s the key. You won’t give up, your brain and intelligence won’t let you. Welcome, no matter how long it takes.

    Try this post by Mark Danner. http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174791/mark_danner_the_age_of_rhetoric

  56. #56 gerald spezio
    June 16, 2007

    Sam’s words so moved me that I forgot to post my name.
    This entire discussion is as good as the blogosphere gets

  57. #57 S.H.A.M. Scam Sam
    June 17, 2007

    Thank you, Gerald. That makes me feel really good.

    Thank you very much.

  58. #58 Anonymous
    June 17, 2007

    Richard Simmons said way back up there It has been known for a long time that water vapour and CO2 absorb infrared radiation, raising Earth’s average temperature. It has also long been known that the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere quickly equilibrates, with a rise in temperature, for any reason, increasing the amount of water vapour, which in turn increases the temperature until a new equilibrium is reached. The amount of CO2, however, responds very slowly. For this reason CO2 is referred to as a forcing variable and water vapour as a response variable.
    What this means is that co2 content in the atmosphere is irrelivant to the temperature. The variable is and always will be water vapor. If the air gets warmer the effect will be more room for water vapor, which will quickly reach equalibrium through raining out and cooling off the system.
    Case closed.

  59. #59 Anonymous
    June 17, 2007

    CO2 might be irrelivant to temperature, but it does make the trees grow better.

    PS for some reason the typekey is posting me as anonymous.
    This and the above post are both by the Papertiger.

  60. #60 Joir Boir
    July 18, 2007

    Seriously folks you are all off on Global warming. It is a reality, but I can tie GW directly to steam – that is the steam emitted from the cappuccino machines at Starbuck’s. There is a direct correlation between average temperature and the number of Starbuck’s opening. With expansion of Starbuck’s into Asia, we see many more super-typhoons. Starbuck’s conspiracy to destroy the planet is even clearer when you see they are hawking Paul McCartney’s new crappy album. They use cult-like tactics by having the highest levels of caffeine (an addictive substance) in their coffee, while forcing cult-members to learn a new jargon to get their fix (what the f is a Venti?). Everyone is missing the point.

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