The Australian's War on Science 66: Ad hominem

The latest volley in The Australian's ongoing war on science is extended ad hominem attack on climate scientists from Jo Nova. Nova claims that climate science is a "mess", but in 1200 words Nova doesn't make one scientific argument. Instead she argues that the scientific consensus was "purchased" by the goverment from scientists who were "paid to find a crisis".

Nova doesn't explain why the Howard government and Bush administration didn't purchase themselves a scientific consensus that climate change wasn't a problem.

She asks:

Where is the Institute of Natural Climate Forces, or the International Bureau of Solar Science? Where are the researchers whose reputations and grants rise in value if they find holes in the theory of man-made global warming?

If Nova were to read the fine IPCC reports she would be able to read about extensive research into solar and other natural influences on climate. This is withing the IPCC's charter because we need to understand natural influences on climate to assess the risks of human-induced climate change.

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"The attempt to locate planetary boundaries is equally an attempt to locate boundaries for humanity â to put it in its place within a supposed natural order. And within that order is a design for political institutions that are not legitimised by the public contest of values and ideas, but by the claim that they are necessary for âsaving the planetâ and ourselves. Environmentalism is an ugly political experiment. That experiment failed, but not simply because its material science was flawed. Just as it was environmentalismâs political failure that preceded Lynasâs revision of its scientific basis, environmentalismâs political idea - its ideology - precedes the science. Rewriting the science wonât make the experiment any more successful for Lynas than it was for Ehrlich."

Worth reading if you possess an open mind - oh, come on, someone here must have one, surely!

http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/reviewofbooks_preview/10914

Climate Change: Another Iraq War of Climate WMDâs, Fear Mongering and Lying. Bush is smiling.
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The UN watched as thousands of scientists presented their own personal and unique papers on climate change and called it scientific âconsensusâ. Yes all 3000 scientists are wrong because they all disagree with each other, not agree with each other. Tell me how that is consensus when every single scientist on board and every science organization has a unique view of climate change? That was a consultant's w & t dream. Climate change was a lab coat consultantâs w&t dream, and criminal exaggeration, but worst case scenarios have a longer life than just simple exaggeration and âlyingâ. Fear always is unsustainable. What they DID agree on however, was that there âwouldâ be effects, so studying effects of something that hasnât happened yet presumes climate change to be real. Did you notice after tropical fossils were found under the melting ice that all research suddenly went totally into effects, not causes? When this is all said and done with scientist and news editors convicted, only then will we see what climate change was; modern day omen worship.

By mememine69 (not verified) on 29 Jul 2011 #permalink

Ah yes, mememine69 is back with more free association dreck that he's been copying and pasting from blog to blog. It's such uninspired dreck too. Yawn.

By Robert Murphy (not verified) on 29 Jul 2011 #permalink

How useful of the trolls to back up Tim Lambert's article that the only thing they've got is ad-hom. They're providing ample re-assurance that our government is doing the right thing.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 29 Jul 2011 #permalink

mememine69

Great rant. Maybe you should try more CAPITAL LETTERS.

Then everyone would believe you...

By janiceclanfield (not verified) on 29 Jul 2011 #permalink

We must be looking ar a record polar ice minimum this season, what with all the recent fervent, opinion-based distraction activity from the think tanks and their trolls.

Wasn't Eisenhower warning about the Military Industrial Complex?

Certainly not the weather.

Jo should put " " around the bits that she lifted from the speech.

David Duff - what is your opinion of Lynas' The God Species?

Her argument, in a paranoid, naive way, would make some logical sense if it was still 1976.

There's another ad hominem element to Nova's article, in this sentence, where she tries to enlist the reader's sympathy for a poor maligned gas:

"CO2 has been convicted without a defence lawyer."

Boohoo! Poor old Carbon Dioxide! Convicted of crimes against humanity and the environment without a proper trial before a jury of its peers (such as SO2, SO3, NO2, O3 CO). The injustice of it all!

By Paul Bamford (not verified) on 29 Jul 2011 #permalink

I got as far as Jo Nova, and that told me everything I need to know about the article and its value.

Does anyone else think Balinese coral is a dubious proxy to be deriving historical Murray river flow estimations from?

Our climate scientists at the CSIRO DON'T.

Tongan coral? West Australian timber?

97.7 % confidence.

Oh, the irony ;-) One of Ms Nova's favourite lines, when it is pointed out that (for example) she is hyping a blog post or just-published paper from someone who has a miserable record of research that *actually* survives extended post-publication peer review and that perhaps her hyping is premature, is to charge "ad hominem".

(And IIRC she even does this on occasions when people point out *well-documented* flaws in the very papers she cites.)

I predict an influx of NovaBots crying that Tim's post is ad hom in 3...2...1...

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 29 Jul 2011 #permalink

You know, in some languages, nova could be interpreted as "won't go" or "doesn't work". Is it possible this person is actually a parody?

By Chris Pella (not verified) on 29 Jul 2011 #permalink

>*"CO2 has been convicted without a defence lawyer."*

Yeah, and at the same time 30,000 "eminent" "scientist" argue against the IPCC?

Poor Messrs Spencer, Lindzen, Singer, Soon etc can't put up a plausible defense 'cause the relevant facts simply ain't on their side.

But that don't mean there has been no defense. In a completly Lawyerly way we've seen a shameless and vastly well funded propaganda campaign by well resourced pollution advocacy groups such as George C Marshal Inst, Heartland, Cato, AEI, IPA, Frazer Institute etc.. etc.. Aided by sympathetic media oligarchs.

> Is it possible this person is actually a parody?

If so it would be one of the most sustained commitments to the art that I've seen in a long long time ;-)

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 29 Jul 2011 #permalink

Ms Codling (I refuse to dignify her with a stage name) relies on the fact that her followers are either too ignorant or too comfortable in their ideological convictions to challenge her claims, which withstand scrutiny like a house of cards withstands a tornado. Recently she plucked a two-year-old [paper](http://www.cdejager.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/2009-episodes-jastp-…) which established a correlation between temperature and solar activity between 1844 and 1960 and said that it ["explains the warming, without any need to invoke a man-made enhanced greenhouse hypothesis"](http://joannenova.com.au/2011/06/study-finds-global-warming-over-past-4…). She deliberately left out this part:

"As stated above, we restricted ourselves to the period 1844-1960, i.e. the time when direct observations were available and during which anthropogenic global warming was not yet significant."

Not one commenter thought it was necessary to read the paper and point this out.

This article appears in the "National Affairs" section, at least in the online version, and not Opinion/Commentary.

Does The Australian ever bother to consider that publishing conspiracy theories outside of the opinion pages is likely to lead to a leap over a prominent marine predator? Or is it a feature, not a bug? Inquiring minds want to know...

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 29 Jul 2011 #permalink

Neither sound scientific logic, nor defensible truth in commentary, are distinguishing characteristics of Codling's involvement in the discussion of human-induced climate change.

Unfortunately, this matters not a whit to many lay Australians who lap up her every word, and it matters all too much to the Australians, and to the citizens of other countries, and to the species of the biosphere, who will inherit the ecological mess that we are madly manufacturing as fast as we are able.

I'd really like to see someone, preferably representing the professional body scientific, formally challenge Codling on her nonsense, and particularly to do so with a request for specific examples of, and evidence for, her claims.

If agents such as Codling are not soon called to account, it will simply be too late to get the quorum of public appreciation of the state of climate change needed to actually move them to accept what we have to do to mitigate against it.

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 29 Jul 2011 #permalink

She is good looking. Amazing what sex can sell. I don't see Anthony Watts flogging his wares with a demure smile on his mug.

Scribe @ 8
The Sourcewatch page contains some misunderstandings that you might want to fix.

There is no entity called the "Shell Questacon". Questacon is the National Science and Technology Centre, and is (currently) part of the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, although the government only provides part of their funding (with the rest coming from a variety of sources).

Their outreach programs always include Questacon in the name - the Questacon Science Circus, Questacon Smart Moves etc. These outreach programs are often expensive and several have specific corporate sponsorship (with naming rights). The Science Circus program is one such, sponsored by Shell to cover the costs of touring all over Australia and thus becomes the Shell Questacon Science Circus. Similarly Tenix sponsors the Maths Squad program, and is known in full as the Tenix Questacon Maths Squad. But Shell don't have naming rights to Questacon as a whole.

So the biographical note:
>For four years, she worked for the Shell Questacon in Canberra, Australia. The Shell Questacon is a joint venture between Shell Oil and the Australian National University.

should read something like:
>For four years, she worked for the Shell Questacon Science Circus, based in Canberra, Australia. The Science Circus is an outreach program run by Questacon, the Australian National Science and Technology Centre. The program is sponsored by Shell Oil, with additional support from Australian National University.

If I understand Questacon's website correctly the "support" from ANU is not financial, but in the form of academic recognition for work done with the SQSC (RPL towards Science Communication degrees).

I've lost my enthusiasm for editing wikis so I thought I'd just lay it our here for you to take what you want to edit the article.

sourcewatch hey? That's kind of, ummm... creepy. Do you guys have to wear a trench coat to edit that site?

No,@17,but,if you wish, you can keep yours on while you read it,David.

@18 Well spotted Nick, I was wondering what David was on about,until I realized it must be something is in his own mind.

FrankD, thanks, done.

No what is a parody Chris #9 might be this blog.
Message to Tim (again) - Your long-standing 'collective' apology to little ole Billy Bob Hall is accepted as soon as you care to make it. :-)

By Billy Bob Hall (not verified) on 29 Jul 2011 #permalink

David, do you have a valid criticism of the post or are you just sooking?

Where is the Institute of Natural Climate Forces?

Ok. This annoys me.

I study "Natural Climate Forces". I study the magic bullet of internal variability. In the last few months, I've attended three conferences where the primary point of discussion was internal variability. Paper after paper, year after year, is published on internal variability.

To suggest that so called natural climate forces have been ignored is to be completely divorced from reality.

"completely divorced from reality"

This is the defining characteristic of the deniers.

But her argument is why isn't there an *Institute* of Natural Climate Forces?

Presumably if there was she would argue that it was funded by the government and therefore invalid anyway.

> Presumably if there was she would argue that it was funded by the government and therefore invalid anyway.

It appears that a large part of Ms Nova's "argument" boils down to "you can't trust science, because scientists will produce whatever results the paymasters want".

I do wonder what the heck she learnt in her Science Communication (or was it Science Education) degree - and whether she's smart enough to have a little voice somewhere waaaaaaaaay in the back of her mind going "Er, you realise that would also apply to any scientist you cite approvingly?"

I suspect not.

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 30 Jul 2011 #permalink

"To suggest that so called natural climate forces have been ignored is to be completely divorced from reality."

On the grounds of irreconcilable differences, presumedly. I personally doubt the marriage was ever consummated.

By Robert Murphy (not verified) on 30 Jul 2011 #permalink

A bit OT but did anyone catch senator Eric Abetz loudly defending Bob Carter on Q&A saying that Carter has faced incredible opposition.

He said it with a straight face. I did listen to him with a straight face.

However, why, oh why do the likes of Codling and Carter still get a serious airing.

I meant to write, "I didn't listen to him with a straight face".

Doh!

Jo Nova wrote,

> Instead she argues that the scientific consensus was "purchased" by the goverment from scientists who were "paid to find a crisis".

This looks like a case of...

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projection.

-- frank

@Jeremy, 27

If I may quote Stephen Colbert, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."
Therefore, in the interests of balance, reality (e.g. accurate historical temperature records showing a consistent warming trend for the past several decades) and unreality (e.g. saying the [world has cooled for the past decade](http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/an-inconvenient-fallacy-20110…)) should be given equal airtime so that the audience can decide for themselves. (Or so Eric Abetz would have us believe)

We already have a world-class "Institute of Natural Climate Forces". It is called the Bureau of Meteorology, and for International Solar Science, the world has "SOHO".

As for specious lines about scientists succumbing to the power of money, where is the real money to be made? Earth scientists are much better remunerated consulting to mining companies than living grant-to-grant in the pursuit of climate knowledge and understanding.

@ ^ Anthony David | July 31, 2011 1:27 AM :

Solar studies~wise the world also has the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the twin STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) spaceprobes and others going all the way back to the old Skylab studies.

She [Jo Nova] asks: "Where is the Institute of Natural Climate Forces, or the International Bureau of Solar Science? Where are the researchers whose reputations and grants rise in value if they find holes in the theory of man-made global warming?"

Indeed.

If there were major holes in the theory of Human Caused Global Overheating* wouldn't these experts have already found them?

If scientists can earn fame and fortune by finding fatal flaws in Global Warming - and they surely would - does Jo Nova really think they'd hold back from doing so?

Doesn't the fact that experts in these areas have NOT come forward and provided scientific evidence disproving AGW explode Nova's claims?

Nova's pen-name strikes me as ironic given what a nova is. Methinks *she's* the one whose been exploded here alright! ;-)

Most self-defeating quote I've seen in a while. Well since Tony Abbott's "weightless" co2 anyhow.

PS. * Anthropogenic Global Warming. I prefer HC GO as "warming" sounds misleadingly mild and has pleasant connotations & 'anthropogenic' is a technical word a step removed from the more direct 'human caused' description.

Egads, coffee-meets-keyboard once again...

By Donald Oats (not verified) on 30 Jul 2011 #permalink

The University of Chicago (founded by John D. Rockefeller) is the evidence for deniers that scientists (or at least economists) will arrive at the conclusions that the people who pay them want.

The deniers know their own behavior and motives and have projected it upon the rest of humanity.

By Jeffrey Davis (not verified) on 31 Jul 2011 #permalink

This is from the Climate Sceptics Partyâs website promoting Moncktonâs recent vaudeville act.

âLord Christopher Monckton and leading Australian scientists David Evans and Jo Nova will conduct a tour in July to explain why the science does not justify a carbon taxâ.

Yet another blaring example of the deceptive garbage the denial machine is putting out - Nova is one of our âleadingâ scientists????

Brian, *David Evans* is your leading scientist?

Yes, he's got a PhD in electrical engineering and Nova a B. Sc. in molecular biology and her partner is David Evans.

Nova's CV is also impressive â worked for Shell, Foxtel and News Corp. Must have found climate denial journalism more financially rewarding?

I think Nova's complaint is more like shouting from the back of the courtroom after the verdict has been handed down.

In any case expect worse to come; the coal association, minerals council and others have deep, deep pockets and the current ad campaigns will only intensify. Even if they mostly avoid outright denial of the problem and confine themselves to opposing specific policy their ad campaigns are designed to resonate with the messages pushed by their think tanks and the favoured 'high priests' of anti climate science BS. They will continue to quietly support the activities of Monckton, Bolt, Nova, Jones and others who push the 'right' line. Big media, being largely amoral, will adapt it's editorial attitude to reflect the views of the biggest purchasers of their advertising and opinion-as-a-commodity services - as we see happening now.

By Ken Fabos (not verified) on 31 Jul 2011 #permalink

Who funds these people?

It's the usual suspects, of course, and in Australia it's more and more one Ms Gina Rinehart who's bankrolling denialism. Described by her own father as a "slothful, vindictive and devious baby elephant", she deserves more attention at this blog.

> Yes, he's got a PhD in electrical engineering and Nova a B. Sc. in molecular biology and her partner is David Evans.

David Evans has also publicly admitted many times that he's lied to get funding.

Quite why they believe him when he talks now is anyone's guess...

[Mediawatch](http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/) has just smacked the Australian around for its reporting of the Watson paper. The online version, with lots of supplementary material, should appear soon under the heading "Episode 24, 25 July 2011".

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 01 Aug 2011 #permalink

I think its important to state that a lot of the main denialists do their denial for no renumeration. They do it out of ideology and dare I say it, sheer fanaticism. Saying they are just paid shrills severely underestimates them.

Her argument is lifted straight from Patrick Michaels, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and his book âClimate Coupâ.

I would have thought the IPA or any number of other right wing think tanks would qualify for Ms Nova. The Oz never fails to get quote from them if they need one. Of course never mind the background or the qualifications of the person providing the quote. If you sate it is from the impressively named Institute of Public Affairs then it has to be credible.

Typo: "This is withing the IPCC's charter" should be "within".

As with the tobacco is good for you movement, the climate change is a fraud movement has no evidence. The whole thing is premised on the fact that a controversy, manufactured or not, gets reported by most media even-handedly. A few like the Oz report the contrarians to excess but even without this, "balance" is the enemy of objective reporting when one side of an argument has no merit.

Why do weather reporters now follow the "conventional" report by reading entrails? Why do economic reporters not follow the market report by a Trotskyite rebuttal? Has any news report on the fight against cancer ever been balanced by someone arguing the merits of cancer?

What makes this all worse is the fact that the contrarian campaign is well documented, with fingerprints of the pro-business science denial movement that takes on this sort of issue all over it. Scientists often feel they are somehow at fault for not communicating clearly. Journalists should be able to find this stuff out easily. It's their job.