Scott Adams is a tosser

Preceded by Boris “the clown” Johnson, SA wins his coveted slightly damp biscuit1 for The Non-Expert Problem and Climate Change Science. TL;DR: it’s a pile of dingoes kidneys. But before we get down to the insightful analysis, here’s a barely relevant cartoon.

dt941024dhc0

Notice the use of the words “weasel” and “expert”, and the dig at ethics. Anyway, if you want someone slowly patiently and sorrowfully taking SA’s junk to pieces, then you want Victor Venema2. Sou didn’t like it either, but deferred the analysis to VV. Via a comment at Sou’s I discover that PZ Myers has had some complaints about SA over the years. It is quite instructive to go back to one of the earliest (and it is now hard to do so due to link rot, so I’ve archived some internet archive links for you): Scott Adams is a Wally discussing SA’s Intelligent Design, Part 1. Which is much the same stuff: SA trying to look clever by doing “looking down” on something he doesn’t really understand.

Again it is much the same as his analysis of the US election, although he is on safer ground there since it isn’t science. He wrote numerous blog posts on the subject; some of them were actually quite good and insightful; some were poor; many were propaganda disguised as analysis. The most obviously analogous one to the present case is My Endorsement for President of the United States where he endorses Hillary for president, for his “personal safety”. The “reasoning” behind this need not detain us.

So, onto analysing his present post. We start with “I agree with the scientific consensus on climate change” which is nice, but of course that’s only up there as a loss-leader; because without much delay he’s into I realize that science can change its mind, of course and then Something can be “true” according to science while simultaneously being completely wrong at which point he has crossed over into Tosser land. The fundamental question he poses, How the heck can you – a non-expert – judge who is right? – remains a good one; but his answer is worthless. The question has, of course, been oft times discussed before; for example On the Limits of Expert Credibility: Theory and an Application to Climate Change? (don’t miss the link to Krugman on Ricardo, all those oh-yes-of-course-we-believe-the experts people out there).

I can’t see, though, a useful summary of my response to the question, so it is quicker to just re-answer than to find it.

1. You, the public, cannot meaningfully evaluate complex science9.
2. There is no quick-n-easy way to discover which one of two, to-you-superficially-equally-credible, texts is correct6
3. You are inevitably going to have to rely on some authority, or combination of authorities.
4. With a moderate degree of diligence you can discover what is a reasonable authority8.
5. It is not sensible to conclude that the scientific consensus, as shown by that authority, is wrong7.

Point 1 is perhaps more strongly phrased than is entirely fair, but points 4 and 5 are the most important ones. Taking them in reverse:

5: You can (see 4) discover the scientific consensus. SA has done so. At that point, you need to re-read points 1, 2 and 3 and realise that the only reasonable conclusion you can come to is to agree with the consensus. You should do this even if you are aware that “experts have been wrong before3” because although this is true, it offers you no useful information in evaluating <the present case>.

4: It won’t take you4 much reading to notice that all the “official” side information leads you back to the IPCC; and it won’t take you much reading to notice that the IPCC reports are nicely written though a careful process and link back to a wide variety of good scientific sources. It won’t take you much reading to notice that the “denialist” side is largely a self-linking echo chamber that very rarely publishes anything in the scientific literature.

It is tempting to attempt to circumvent point 2 by “meta analysis”, perhaps of the form

(a) Person A has told me to respect authority – the IPCC, let us say. I know that simply accepting authority is wrong, therefore person A is wrong, and the denialists are right!

This is wrong, obviously. So is

(b) Nullius in Verba used as a way of telling who is correct5.

Notes

1. Old English public school joke. Don’t ask.

2. I have suppressed various pointless musing about national character that I felt tempted to insert here.

3. A nice example is Continental drift but my statement is still true; if you’d been around then, your best-guess should still have been to assume that the consensus was true.

4. I am, of course, assuming a moderately intelligent and informed reader who knows, for example, of the existence of the scientific literature.

5. As a slogan or motto it is cute; but don’t forget, they weren’t talking to peasants like you.

6. Any individual criterion or collection (“carefully referenced”; “links to what look like good sources”; “uses (or avoids) equations”; “never swears at fools”; “has a credible looking website”; “has a credible looking qualification”) will inevitably prove to lead you astray in some situation.

7. Perhaps a useful analogy is with Hume’s argument against miracles; or (somewhat less directly relevant, but I love his words so I shall quote them regardless) Hobbes on direct revelation: For if a man pretend to me that God hath spoken to him supernaturally, and immediately, and I make doubt of it, I cannot easily perceive what argument he can produce to oblige me to believe it.

8. [Update: in the above, I’ve made the (somewhat unrealistic) assumption that I’m talking to an unbiased person not emotionally invested in having the result come out one way or another. And I notice that of points 1-5, 4 is the only one that needs choice or intellectual effort – the others are only instructions or advice you need to be wise enough to take. I suppose I ought to add that it is also easy (see comments for examples) to find yourself what appear to be excellent reasons why what-appears-to-be the true authority is unreliable – for example Anatomy of IPCC’s Mistake on Himalayan Glaciers and Year 2035. This is part of note 6 – “never makes any mistake that someone has pointed out to you” is not a useful short cut either.]

9. Excitingly and belatedly, I discover a connection here to the way-out further shores of Randian thought: the Randos like the idea of Rational Individualism, from whence I quote In Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, Howard Roark was a man who didn’t care what other people thought. Well, actually he did in some ways. He cared about his friends, and he was concerned about why some people were secondhanders. But the fact that people thought things didn’t matter to him in the sense that it wasn’t a reason to believe or disbelieve that thing. An idea was either true or false, and he used his own mind to determine that10.

10. I wonder if they had ever heard of the continuum hypothesis. Most likely not.

Refs

* Dumb America
* Talking to the layfolk
* The Big Pharma Cancer Conspiracy – Real Sceptic. Doubtless SA will be offering us his Cure for Cancer one day.

Comments

  1. #1 Victor Venema (@VariabilityBlog)
    Germany
    2016/12/07

    “I have suppressed various pointless musing about national character that I felt tempted to insert here.”

    I will be forever grateful.

    BTW, Dutch people also dip their biscuits in their tea. For some reason.

  2. #2 SteveP
    2016/12/07

    Scott Adams appears to be writing to a coterie of insufferable IT professionals who share the mistaken belief with him that being able to type codes that make pixels move around somehow gives one universal insight into the wider physical reality beyond the computer desk. The comments following the piece seemed to be largely written by people trying to reassure themselve that they really were cool and witty and smart, and not just fortunate beneficiaries of the blessing of the age of integrated circuits.

  3. […] anche Stoat, e Graham Redfearn sulla "booming conspiracy culture of climate science […]

  4. #4 tadaaa
    Cambridge
    2016/12/07

    @ VV

    different sort of damp biscuit entirely – and yes don’t go there

  5. #5 Phil Hays
    Amused.
    2016/12/07

    “2. There is no quick-n-easy way to discover which one of two, to-you-superficially-equally-credible, texts is correct”

    The text full of math errors is probably wrong. The text with mostly correct math is probably correct, or at minimum wrong in a more useful way.

    [If you’re capable of checking the math, you’re already waay out of these people’s league. Plus, most often the math is “correct”, its just that it is the “correct” answer to the wrong physical problem -W]

  6. #6 magma
    2016/12/07

    “The fundamental question he poses, How the heck can you – a non-expert – judge who is right? – remains a good one; but his answer is worthless.”

    Your points 1 to 5 are quite good. Personally I shorten that by finding out who or what experts in a field generally consider to be correct and deferring to their judgement. (Although as many have noted, if climate change deniers were capable of doing this they wouldn’t be deniers.)

  7. #7 Russell the Stout
    A few miles from the Peachoid
    2016/12/08

    SteveP points out what I have noted: the high ranking of IT people among the creme de la creme of exemplars of the Dunning–Kruger effect.

    [See my response to CIP, #12. If you’re demonstrably smart you’re likely to think that you’re capable of thinking things through; this applies to the physics folks too and – for anyone who has been to denialist-land – elderly engineers too -W]

  8. #8 David B. Benson
    United States
    2016/12/08

    Ok, so finish tossing him out and get on with something interesting such as whether pigs have wings.

  9. #9 Eric Lund
    2016/12/08

    Scott Adams made the all-too-common mistake of thinking that just because he was good at one thing (lampooning the American corporate environment in the 1990s), he was competent at a bunch of other things. So he walks into the same Dunning-Kruger trap that so many engineers (not just IT people) blunder into. Which is a big part of why engineers are disproportionately represented among climate change denialists.

    In the Dilbert cartoons, Adams frequently mocked the attitudes of managers and “consultants”, and how easy it is for the latter to con the former. That’s what’s going on in the strip reproduced here: Dogbert, posing as an ethics consultant, has conned the Pointy-Haired Boss into hiring him. The PHB, of course, is too incompetent to realize he’s been conned. Where the analogy between business experts and scientific experts goes awry is that it is far easier to fool business managers into thinking you are a business expert than to fool a scientist into thinking you are a science expert. To do the former, you need only sound smart. To do the latter, you actually have to be smart.

  10. #10 Young CC Prof
    2016/12/08

    He’s going to assume it’s true for the sake of his reputation? Not for the sake of the human race, or for safety, but to protect his reputation? Good heavens, how arrogant and self-centered can one person be?

  11. #11 J
    2016/12/08

    WMC writes: “Refs: Dumb America”

    Fair enough. Ref right back at you: Comment 27 in that thread, which now seems more salient than ever, for a whole host of reasons.

  12. #12 CIP
    United States
    2016/12/08

    Everybody is wrong about a lot of things, but Climate Science is a special case since there is so much money heavily invested in not believing in global warming. I’ve spent many an hour arguing with denialists and lukewarmers, and they are by no means really ignorant. Some of them have PhD’s and research papers in satellite meteorology and radiative transfer. What they have in common is a deep commitment to their prejudices. Deducing the truth is really tough for the layman.

    [It is tough, in a sense that I didn’t address here – I’ve added a note, since its important. If you could get your guys to accept my rules-for-decisions, then they could follow them to the truth. But, their prejudices would make them reject the rules. They would find easy reasons, of course, starting with them being so much smarter than Joe Public and therefore not going to take no stinkin’ rules from nobody -W]

  13. #13 matt
    2016/12/08

    > BTW, Dutch people also dip their biscuits in their tea

    Poms do it better

  14. #14 Nick Barnes
    2016/12/08

    Adams jumped the shark about 20 years ago. Now he’s just a knob.

  15. #15 Raymond Arritt
    feeling blue in a red country
    2016/12/08

    Been a fan of DIlbert for many a year, but lately I just can’t look at the strip in the same way. His defense of Steve Bannon was the last straw. I know it shouldn’t matter to my enjoyment of a newspaper cartoon but it does.

  16. #16 Dunc
    2016/12/08

    I stopped reading Dilbert when I noticed that I couldn’t remember the last time it was actually funny.

  17. #17 wolfgang
    2016/12/08

    I agree with your post, but I think you left out something important: In the past, people who seemed to be part of the scientific consensus made alarmist predictions which turned out to be wrong, e.g. Al Gore and his predictions from 2006 and earlier.

    The real problem with global warming is that the trend is small compared to variance, so that it is easy to ignore for a long while – but it does not help at all to exaggerate it to push for more action, because commentators like S.A. and others will use that to discredit the science.

    [I think that’s a reasonable point. As far as I’m concerned AG is on the “pol” side, not the science; but he was mostly on-message so was effectively endorsed by the science folk (except me, of course, e.g. http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2007/01/10/grumpy-review-of-an-inconvenie/ or http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2007/10/11/the-boring-truth/ and naturally James (http://julesandjames.blogspot.co.uk/2007/10/gore-gored.html)) -W]

  18. #18 Brian Schmidt
    2016/12/08

    Seems like this is a special variant of Dunning-Kruger, because D-K applies to people regardless of their level of competency in unrelated fields. Here D-K might be enhanced because their competency in one field blinds them to their incompetency elsewhere.

  19. #19 Marco
    2016/12/08

    “people who seemed to be part of the scientific consensus made alarmist predictions which turned out to be wrong, e.g. Al Gore and his predictions from 2006 and earlier.”

    Can you give some examples?

  20. #20 Phil Hays
    Al Gore has aged slightly better than comments on Al Gore
    2016/12/08

    Yeah, I think Gore was misleading on this, and said so before.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2014/05/12/science.1249055

    http://www.earth-syst-dynam.net/5/271/2014/

    Hundreds of years till the start of rapid sea level rise. Not thousands. Maybe 900 years, probably less. Might be much less. Of course, that’s probably not in our lifetimes. So we don’t care.

    [In 2007, it was reasonable to report on the state of the science in 2007, and unreasonable to attempt to guess what it might say in 2014. See my original points in the post: you should not be trying to disagree with the IPCC without very good reason -W]

  21. #21 Susan Anderson
    Boston / Princeton
    2016/12/08

    Very nice. I remember trying to wade through this:
    http://duoquartuncia.blogspot.de/2008/07/aps-and-global-warming-what-were-they.html
    Being maths challenged, I couldn’t make it out, but imho with enough perseverance one can spot the dogged false arguments; there’s something that doesn’t smell right about persistent fudged (“Saturn” was a classic).

    Judith Curry was another such; she was obvious in the first comment section when she went full Damascus on Montford. This reader could see her evasions as she refused to answer technical questions with increasing rudeness, shamelessly playing victim bully.

    As you say, part of it is abandoning the idea that I can know what I don’t, but not looking away. A lot of people don’t really read, they skim for approved content.

    For scientific conclusions, a least requirement is that others be able to duplicate the work and get results that confirm or add to it. Parameters need to be large enough and the possibility of bias has to be allowed for. That’s what the 97% fake skeptics labor to disqualify have done and continue to do. That most experts and credible sources agree is a feature, not a bug.

  22. #22 Obstreperous Applesauce
    2016/12/08

    Buried in the articles, comment sections, and in-line comments at RealClimate is a gold mine of information on metaliteracy and how science actually works. If I’d been smart, I would have made an effort to compile it.

    On the other hand, it may already be too late for that given the Gish galloping yammerfest of motivated reasoning and false narratives that now characterize national conversations. I can’t see it getting any better as the Trump era opens.

    I do hear some sincere soul searching in the media, but I fear that it is largely ineffectual and likely to be as meaningful in the end as it was after the drum beat for war in Iraq died down to some red faces (and then back to BAU).

    Re Gore:
    I still hear it from time to time. The wingnuts flew into a mud-storm of crazy regarding Al Gore’s innocuous slide show, and so somehow that makes Gore responsible for the stupid behavior of the people who tried to bully him and his audience– because if nothing else they must have a valid point, so let’s normalize them.

    [It became perhaps convenient for both sides for Gore to become the “face” of global warming. He was a party politician, and so it was convenient for those Repubs that didn’t want action on GW, because if GW has a Dem face it is obviously bad. And perhaps the Dems liked having their own guy up there -W]

  23. #23 Susan Anderson
    2016/12/08

    That was, Curry’s early responses on RealClimate before she started her own blog.

  24. #24 jane
    2016/12/08

    “You, the public, cannot meaningfully evaluate complex science.”

    Individuals without specialized education in a given field can’t review a scientific paper in that field, sure. However, in self-defense they had better be able to think for themselves about claims and instructions touted as Scientific, because many so-labeled claims and instructions are shaped by corporate interests, incorporate value judgements, or both. The reason so many people sneer at expert dietary guidelines today is that they know that many thousands of people died because they believed claims that trans fats were more modern and healthy than saturated fats, that one should eat a starch-laden diet for good health (even if one is becoming diabetic), and so forth. Yet when the next claim is rolled out, they are told that nothing in their ordinary cultural experience qualifies them to question it, so they must shut up and believe whatever is [claimed to be] consensus.

    In essence, this make practicing scientists, or their spokespeople or their employers, a priesthood with special authority to decide what is true, false or open to question. Within the elite, there may be fervent arguments over the truth of some hypotheses, but lay people are to believe the reigning dogmas or be accused of heresy. In medical science, for example, there is an increasingly large contingent who don’t think everyone would benefit from popping statins for several decades. There are open debates about the issue in scientific literature, but rageful shrieking when newspaper articles aimed at hoi polloi cover the debate. (A proponent recently did call for outright censorship of debate even in scientific journals, but this is an anomaly.) Thus the public is told to believe what they are spoon-fed without being told that many experts themselves don’t agree with it. In the Internet era, such hypocrisies are hard to cover up for long.

  25. #25 Vinny Burgoo
    2016/12/08

    Marco: ‘Can you give some examples?’

    Carteret evacuation.

  26. #26 wolfgang
    2016/12/09

    >> Can you give some examples?

    Sure, two come to mind immediately: No snow on Kilimanjaro by 2016 (Al Gore on Larry King, 2006) and arctic ice gone by 2013 (BBC News from 2007).
    Of course there are more, use Google.

  27. #27 Jason
    2016/12/09

    “Scott Adams is a tosser”

    A blog post that starts out with a juvenile ad hominem attack. Real classy.

    [But at least I had something to say, unlike you -W]

  28. #28 Jim
    London
    2016/12/09

    Apparently, Lord Monckton has written a scientific paper which he has submitted to the Chinese Academy of Sciences for publication which proves that all of the models are wrong and why. It is likely the final nail in the coffin of the global warming scare as it demonstrates that climate sensitivity is nothing to worry about. Just thought you’d like to know. He has had previous papers published in the same journal.

    [Monkers has form -W]

  29. #29 Marco
    2016/12/09

    Thanks, Wolfgang.

    Quite amazing how people think those few ‘alarmist’ predictions that did not happen are enough to cast doubt, while at the same time being completely uncritical of the same or worse predictions from ‘the other side’. All’s fine with the arctic! No, no, no, the sea levels aren’t rising! Surely we will all go down in flames if we switch to renewable energy!

  30. #30 Andrew J Dodds
    United Kingdom
    2016/12/09

    There are so many final nails in the coffin of global warming, surprised they can find room for any more.

  31. #31 Victor Venema (@VariabilityBlog)
    Germany
    2016/12/09

    You, the public, cannot meaningfully evaluate complex science.

    But it is mostly quite easy to evaluate anti-science. In many cases you just have to go to the source and quickly see that WUWT & Co. did not fairly describe it. There is not much grey where the claims against mainstream science needs climatological expertise to see the problem. The “sceptics” would only need to be sceptical about science claims of their own tribe.

  32. #32 Jim
    London
    2016/12/09

    No, I think this sounds pretty convincing. Monckton has been marking climate science’s homework and it got an F.

  33. #33 Victor Venema (@VariabilityBlog)
    Germany
    2016/12/09
  34. #34 Eric Lund
    2016/12/09

    Apparently, Lord Monckton has written a scientific paper which he has submitted to the Chinese Academy of Sciences for publication

    Can you guys at least get your stories straight? Last I heard, global warning was supposed to be a hoax invented by the Chinese, or at least that’s what PEOTUS claimed during the campaign.

  35. #35 Jim
    London
    2016/12/09

    @VariabilityBlog

    I’m not sure why you are suggesting that I’m not being sceptical. I am waiting for Monckton to publish his peer reviewed paper and then I will decide what I finally think. My understanding is that it has already had significant input from globally recognised experts in the field and so, I think, it is likely a good paper and does indeed expose a serious error in the climate models. However, as I say, I am reserving final judgment until the paper has been published and there has been more opportunity to evaluate it.

    @Eric Lund I’m not sure who “you guys” are and I have never suggested that global warming is a hoax invented by the Chinese. If anyone needs to get their story straight, I would suggest it’s you.

    [Is Monckers’ paper like Watts’? -W]

  36. #36 Phil Hays
    Amused and amazed.
    2016/12/09

    #26 “arctic ice gone by 2013 (BBC News from 2007).”

    Wouldn’t it just be amusing if it turned out to be gone in 2017?

    Well, not really.

    2030 or 2050 wouldn’t be much more amusing.

  37. #37 Marco
    2016/12/09

    “He has had previous papers published in the same journal.”

    One, to be exact (the response to the comment that showed how stupidly wrong the original paper was, doesn’t count – especially since it used the close-to-fraudulent comparison between TMT from satellites and the CMIP projections).

  38. #38 Jim
    London
    2016/12/09

    Would these be the comments from what he described as “shoddy, rent-a-quote scientists”? It seems to me that the criticisms were soundly rebutted. If not, please feel free to detail which weren’t. I’d be interested to know.

  39. #39 Jim
    London
    2016/12/09

    @W

    I know Watts did a paper on the siting of weather stations. I don’t think it’s related to Monckton’s paper at all.

    [Are you really that dull? It seems entirely possible. Anyway folks, DNFTT -W]

  40. #40 Fergus Brown
    Land of the Tossers
    2016/12/09

    Jim,
    The Monkey is Lord High Tosspot. He would struggle to prove dough. The warning is taken though – we shall don our bibs in anticipation of the foaming spittle due any moment…

  41. #41 Jim
    London
    2016/12/09

    [Spammed -W]

  42. #42 Jim
    London
    2016/12/09

    [Spammed -W]

  43. #43 Obstreperous Applesauseso
    2016/12/09

    -W @~22
    Fair point, especially in a reasonable world.

    What gets me is that the reaction to Gore was over-the-top not condign, and that in it there was a deliberate erasure of the legitimate distinction between science and policy.

    I think it was more than partisanship going a bit over the line but went well into total crazy pants alternate reality…IMO. (The post fact world was already in full swing even back then.)

  44. #44 Phil Hays
    Al Gore has aged slightly better than comments on Al Gore
    2016/12/09

    “you should not be trying to disagree with the IPCC without very good reason -W”

    Philosophy. I believe in Truth, not in Authority. You seem to differ.

    [Of course not. Those competent to judge, which is a very small number, should judge based on reading the science. However, what you’ve said totally misses the context of this post; and “Truth, not in Authority” is the eager cry of the Watties keen to make things up. And even those competent to judge need a very good reason to disagree with the IPCC. You haven’t addresses the anomaly of you appearing to want to use 2014 science in 2007 -W]

    I mostly agree with Jane in #24. I’ll disagree if I think they are incorrect.

  45. #45 Phil Hays
    Al Gore has aged slightly better than comments on Al Gore
    2016/12/09

    ” Those competent to judge, which is a very small number, should judge based on reading the science. -W”

    No one is fully competent to judge such a complex matter.
    Some are more competent than others.
    Some don’t realize how incompetent they are.

    Reality bites.

    Even if you make up a reason why it will not.

  46. #46 Susan Anderson
    2016/12/09

    Now that Trump has prevailed, Monckton is again augmenting his income here in the US.

  47. #47 Russell
    Cambridge MA
    2016/12/09

    Eric Lund:
    “Apparently, Lord Monckton has written a scientific paper which he has submitted to the Chinese Academy of Sciences for publication

    Can you guys at least get your stories straight? Last I heard, global warning was supposed to be a hoax invented by the Chinese, or at least that’s what PEOTUS claimed during the campaign.”

    The Peking Opera ain’t over til the Fred Singer sings:

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2016/11/not-only-nixon-could-go-to-china.html

  48. #48 ...and Then There's Physics
    2016/12/10

    Since there is a discussion of Monckton’s paper, I’ll highlight that there is a response to his paper. Apologies both for the self-promotion and for the paywall.

    [You shameless self-publicist you -W]

  49. […] argues that the fundamental question Scott Adams poses, How the heck can you – a non-expert – judge […]

  50. #50 Tom C
    2016/12/14

    Re #22

    “Re Gore:
    I still hear it from time to time. The wingnuts flew into a mud-storm of crazy regarding Al Gore’s innocuous slide show…”

    is this the innocuous sideshow that he apparently won the Nobel peace prize for?

    Strange assumption evidenced on this thread that predictions which are wildly off base should not count against someone’s credibility. The whole question in play is to what degree predictions should be believed. If you say, in 2003, “snowstorms are a thing of the past” you should not be surprised if your credibility takes a hit.

  51. #51 Phil Hays
    Amused.
    2016/12/14

    ” If you say, in 2003, “snowstorms are a thing of the past” you should not be surprised if your credibility takes a hit.”

    If you are misquoted, your credibility takes a hit even when it shouldn’t. There is a whole industry focused on misquoting and destroying credibility for profit.

  52. #52 Tom C
    2016/12/14

    #50
    Please identify the misquote.

  53. #53 Phil Hays
    Even more amused.
    2016/12/14

    Please provide source for the full quote. All I can find is the Great Right Wing Echo Chamber repeating “snowstorms are a thing of the past”.

  54. #54 Tom C
    2016/12/14

    “According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”.

    “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said.

    https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/snowfalls-are-now-just-a-thing-of-the-past-the-independent.pdf

  55. #55 Phil Hays
    Still even more amused.
    2016/12/14

    Quote from Al Gore.

  56. #56 Phil Hays
    Still even more amused.
    2016/12/14

    Oh, and you said 2003.

    “Monday 20 March 2000”

    Accuracy counts.

  57. #57 Marco
    2016/12/15

    Tom C focuses on one single quote in one single newspaper by one single scientist. I guess now we can talk about David Archibald’s predictions of major global cooling and ask Tom C why he does not loudly complain about those failed predictions and not count them against the credibility of ‘his’ side of the debate. There’s a few more of those, by the way.

    See also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nJuAslQPaY&t=139s

    [One answer would be, that of course the denialists make so many silly predictions that no-one pays any attention, but that we hold scientists to higher standards. In this case, though, I can’t see any way in which the debate advances by focussing on this one trivial comment -W]

  58. #58 Phil Hays
    Serious
    2016/12/15

    Debate is the wrong word to use. We don’t want a debate. Debates are a sport. Debates are about scoring points. A good debater can make a good case for a flat Earth or a rational PI.

    What we want is a search for truth. Truth doesn’t come from authorities beyond any reproach. Some people are more expert in specific subjects, so listen carefully. Some people don’t have the first clue, so listen carefully. Truth doesn’t come from a search for statements to use against experts. Truth come from honest appraisal of facts, logic and math.

    TomC can present facts, logic and math. Anytime, TomC.

  59. #59 Tom C
    2016/12/16

    Well Marco, I did not focus on one single quote, blah, blah. I gave an example – an egregious one where a senior researcher at a well respected institution made a claim that had no scientific backing and sinned against common sense as well. Phil did not believe it and asked for the specific citation, which I supplied, but he ignored it because it was not from Al Gore.

    Likewise, Marco, you ignored the two specific examples that Wolfgang supplied and made three accusations in hysterical fashion. Why don’t you be a big boy now and supply the citations, since Wolfgang and I were so kind to do so when asked?

    The fact is, there is a tremendous asymmetry in this tit for tat. The wild-eyed alarmist quotes are mostly from “respected” scientists and politicians. The outrageous “denialist” quotes are usually lifted from blog posts by anonymous posters.

    [Errm, well that’s inevitable, isn’t it? There are so respectable folk on the denialist side. Even Lindzen is a nutter nowadays -W]

    OK Marco – cough up the citations.

    Phil – I have no idea what you are talking about. The topic here is to what degree a layperson should accept the consensus of professionals. I made the point that preposterous claims by professionals do not inspire confidence. Are you disputing that?

  60. #60 Tom C
    2016/12/16

    Here is a good one Marco:

    Prominent Princeton professor and lead UN IPCC author Michael Oppenheimer, for instance, made some dramatic predictions in 1990. By 1995, he said, the “greenhouse effect” would be “desolating the heartlands of North America and Eurasia with horrific drought, causing crop failures and food riots.” By 1996, he added, the Platte River of Nebraska “would be dry, while a continent-wide black blizzard of prairie topsoil will stop traffic on interstates, strip paint from houses and shut down computers.” The situation would get so bad that “Mexican police will round up illegal American migrants surging into Mexico seeking work as field hands.”

    Gosh – why don’t the hoi polloi believe everything they are told by the experts? I just don’t get it.

    [That’s nice but I notice that you rather pointedly fail to cite it. You do understand the requirement to cite things properly don’t you? -W]

  61. #61 dean
    United States
    2016/12/16

    I think Tom C is making a reference to Oppenheimer’s 1990 book “Dead Heat”. The “desolating the heartland” quote is often attributed to him in that book: I cannot say whether it really is there because I’ve never read it.

    The second assertion seems to be a modification of this:
    “the Platte River of Nebraska would be dry, while a continent-wide “black blizzard of prairie topsoil” would “stop traffic on interstates, strip paint from houses and shut down computers. The Mexican police will round up illegal American migrants surging into Mexico seeking work as field hands. ”

    I’ve also seen attributed to Oppenheimer. I don’t know whether the implication is also that it comes from “Dead Heat” – just as with Tom C in #59, the source for the second one is never given – it’s just “and Oppenheimer also said…”

  62. #62 Phil Hays
    Al Gore has aged slightly better than comments on Al Gore
    2016/12/16

    “The topic here is to what degree a layperson should accept the consensus of professionals. I made the point that preposterous claims by professionals do not inspire confidence. Are you disputing that?”

    Exactly that. Quotes mined by looking for statements to attack are mostly meaningless at best. So yes, I dispute that quote mining is useful. Especially when the person and date are different from the reference you finally produce.

    Subject was Al Gore, not some other person. Date was 2003, not 2000. Why should I have confidence in your statements? Accuracy in citation is vital!

    Quote mining isn’t useful. Context matters a lot. What someone said in a bar isn’t likely to be carefully thought out, at minimum. What someone said in an interview with a newspaper is at minimum taken out of correct context. Popular books, slightly more useful, but still not very reliable. What someone wrote in a journal paper might be useful. Start there, not in the bar.

    I challenge you to present facts, logic and math. Any time now. Waiting.

  63. #63 Tom C
    2016/12/16

    Phil Hayes –

    Wolfgang gave you tow accurate quotes that you dodged. I gave you an accurate quote of a preposterous clai by a respected scientists. That fact that I remembered it from 2003 rather than 2000 is hardly germane to the discussion and it is pathetic for you to keep bringing that up.

    So, where are the misquotes you keep talking about? Who have we misquoted? And given the nature of the topic, what “math” do you want me to present? Maybe instead of badgering me about “logic, math etc” you should respond to the information Wolfgang and I presented. What do you think of Dr. Viner’s claim? How about Oppenheimer? How about Al Gore and 2013 ice-free? Your evasion and slippery rhetoric is not clever, in keeping with the asinine tag lines like “amused, etc”.

  64. #64 Tom C
    2016/12/16

    Sorry for the typos in last comment.

  65. #65 Tom C
    2016/12/16

    dean is correct that the Oppenheimer quotes are from a book that he wrote in 1990. They have been cited for 25+ years now, so frankly they have been so thoroughly confirmed that it is not necessary to give the citations. There is a lot more from Oppenheimer if anyone cares to go look. But here is the point: the guy was a lead author for the IPCC!

    William, why no “tosser” award for Oppenheimer? His pronouncements are ludicrous beyond belief, while Scott Adams might well be wrong, but his musings are certainly rational.

    [Mostly because I’ve barely heard of him. If you want to point me to stuff he has written that I should be outraged by, feel free, but I’m afraid it will have to be stuff I can read online. But to get the Tosser award you have to do something beyond the call of duty. Watts for example doesn’t get it, because he’s just a denialist, which is his duty -W]

  66. #66 dean
    United States
    2016/12/16

    “so frankly they have been so thoroughly confirmed that it is not necessary to give the citations.”

    No, you should always do that – if you actually know them and aren’t just repeating stuff you heard.

  67. #67 Phil Hays
    Al Gore has aged slightly better than comments on Al Gore
    2016/12/17

    #62 Who is “Phil Hayes”?

    If you can’t even quote my name accurately, why should I have any trust at all for any of your other statements?

    You are ignoring what I’m saying. Quote mining for the purposes of smearing someone isn’t useful. Read that again.

    Quote mining for the purposes of smearing someone isn’t useful. Got that?

    Here, third time so you can learn it. Quote mining for the purposes of smearing someone isn’t useful.

  68. #68 Phil Hays
    Al Gore has aged slightly better than comments on Al Gore
    2016/12/18

    So why is quote mining not useful?

    No person is perfect. Quote mining is an attempt to define people by the failings found in a short extract from their written work.

    Sir Isaac Newton might be defined by some of his admittedly wacky statements on alchemy, if we used just a few pithy quotes. Rather than the foundations of physics.

    We might define Albert Einstein by some of his problems with the women in his life. Rather by general relativity.

    And so on. Rather than taking a balanced view, or even just looking only someone’s best work, quote mining is a search for the worst. We all fail if judged that way. Each and everyone of us.

  69. #69 Phil Hays
    Oh, and more tossing..
    2016/12/30

    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/155073242136/the-climate-science-challenge

    [He really is a tosser, alas. I did think about trying to comment on his blog but the thread is full of idiots -W]

  70. […] * Memo To Trump – 20% Mexican Import Tariff Means Americans Pay For The Wall by Timmy. What is funny is how many of my left wing fb friends, who are ordinarily silent on tariffs, have suddenly realised that they’re paid by ordinary consumers. * India’s Mistaken Policy Of The Day – Rs 1,000 Subsidy For Smartphones -Timmy again; also tariff related. * China’s Ballpoint Pen Victory – Or Why American Wages Are Higher Than Chinese – guess who. * Rex Tillerson, Exxon, And When An Oil Subsidy Isn’t Really An Oil Subsidy – bored yet? * Bank Of England’s Mark Carney – Hard Brexit’s A Problem For The EU, Not Britain – last one. * Outrage dilution by Scott Adams. […]

  71. #71 Phil Clarke
    2017/02/05

    Still at it.

    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/156804833096/the-persuasion-advantage-and-climate-science

    Now he’s citing Ian Plimer. Because Plimer is ‘pursuasive’. While admitting he has no way of assessing Plimer’s ‘facts’

    What a tosser.

    [SA is so up his own arse sometimes. He is so desperate to be clever that he spins this nonsense into some Confection that, looked at from just his angle, makes him clever. It would be nice if he could be self-confident enough not to bother -W]

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