Bloggers behaving badly

Maybe I should save this stanza for a slightly more apt occasion, but I'm impatient, so:

But my Totem saw the shame; from his ridgepole-shrine he came,
And he told me in a vision of the night: —
"There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays,
"And every single one of them is right!"

(Kipling, In the Neolithic Age, of course). But back to the post.

We might hope that the blogosphere would be full of reasoned debate, with people making interesting points supported by logical argument and careful references. Of course, any such hope would be dashed by fare such as posts titled "IPCC: not science, just dishonest!" (I've deliberately not linked that; before I go on, try and guess who that is) and quotes like:

Now, (yet again) these climate “scientists” have been caught out working not to the level of science, nor even to the standards of economics, but at a standard so appalling it would not be tolerated by any politician. Claiming to be “scientists”, getting public money to be “scientists” and then not behaving as “scientist” is totally dishonest. And when these people obtain public grants as “scientists” and they are not, such dishonesty must be fraud.

That's a direct, and entirely false, accusation of fraud and dishonesty. What saves it from being actionable, in my humble non-legal opinion, is the careful avoidance of any specific individual targets.

Now, lets compare that to a minor kerfuffle that my attention was drawn to, viz The Sceptic View (Rev. 0.5) by ScottishSceptic - examined by CC and the follow-up, Dear ScottishSceptic, why do you keep threatening me? (you guessed, didn't you?). This, in turn, is a critique of The Sceptic View (Rev. 0.5). Before I go any further, I'll take a moment to revisit my criticism of (some small aspects of) that. This occurs in the comments on another post, sceptics vs. academics (a post so bizarre as to be largely surreal) and which (keep up at the back there!) has a post commenting on it at ATTP.

Anyway, I said

Its sweet that you try to claim the “hard facts” for your side. But that’s hard to reconcile with your view, that you say most “skeptics” support, that “Current estimates of about 0.8 C temperature rise in the past 150 years are very likely too high. There is compelling evidence of malpractice, urban heating and poor instruments & siting. A figure of 0.5-0.6C warming appears more likely”, and which you say is based on

“We had a discussion on this on WUWT (which I cannot find!!) where the consensus was around 0.5-0.6C from memory!! I felt if we said “the 0.8 figure is wrong”, I had to give a sense of what kind of warming we felt could be realistic.”

There are no hard facts in your revision, just your memory, which is as fallible as everyone else’s.

If the IPCC tried to produce temperature records, or evidence for or against UHI, based on “errm, a discussion we had somewhere, I can’t find it now” you would (correctly) rip them to shreds. But when it comes to your own words, suuddenly your “skepticism” disappears.

this gets a non-answer, as you'd expect, and it continues further on if you can bear it. So far, so many excuses for swipes by me, but bear with me, the connection will become clear in due course. Now, back to SS's complaints (SS is ScottishSceptic) against CC's posts (CC is citizenschallenge). SS complains under two headings, copyright and libel.


But before I do that... Wikipedia has an interesting and possibly relevant policy, WP:NLT which is, somewhat expanded, "No legal threats":

This page in a nutshell: If you have a dispute with the community or its members, use dispute resolution. If you do choose to use legal action or threats of legal action to resolve disputes, you will not be allowed to continue editing until it is resolved and your user account and or IP address may be blocked. A polite report of a legal problem such as defamation or copyright infringement is not a threat and will be acted on quickly.

Within the blogosphere, I'd translate this into: if you've got a problem, start off by making a reasonable attempt to solve it reasonably. In this case I don't think it would have worked, but it was worth a go nonetheless. Within wiki, the policy is strictly enforced, and does a good job of preventing people using legal threats as a debating trick, or to intimidate people in argument. You can go to law of course, if you really want, but if you do you're off in a different arena and can no longer participate on wiki.


Claim one is The document is my copyright. You have copied it without permission.

It is true that CC has reproduced SS's "Sceptic View (Rev. 0.5)" statement. However CC has done it in blocks, and clearly with the purpose of critiquing it, and the original is clearly attributed. It might also be argued that the document isn't clearly SS's copyright: as it says of itself, its been compiled from the views and with the input of numerous others.

I would also argue that anyone publishing a "statement" that is clearly political in nature offers an implied right to reproduce it - indeed, it seems pretty clear that SS would like the document itself to be widely publicised; what he is really objecting to are the critical comments.

Is it possible to permit copying only if no critical comments are made, but permit and encourage it otherwise? Perhaps. It hardly fits within a desire for vigourous debate, though: it smacks strongly of defensiveness.

What of the moral issue? Here the answer seems clear: because the document's original source has been clearly attributed, and its been so cut about that no-one would copy the copy, they'd certainly go back to the original, I can't see that any theft of intellectual property has occurred.


Claim two is and then listed it under "denial industry" making numerous false claims. This is a libel... (is there a missing "and" in there? I.e., should this read under "denial industry" and making numerous false claims? Or is this suggesting that the listing, under "denial industry", in itself constitutes numerous (false) claims? That seems an odd reading; I'll go with the former).

I'm not sure what the "numerous false claims" are supposed to be. On a quick skim, I'd say that CC is more correct than SS. I've already noted the problem with the arbitrary lopping off of 0.2 oC. It would be interesting to see SS back up the NFC assertion with evidence, but based on past behaviour I consider this unlikely.

di The unambiguous claim, though, is that by filing the post under "denial industry" CC has, errm, labelled SS as part of the denial industry (BTW, allow me to make it clear that I don't think the SS is part of a "denial industry". He says he isn't paid for anything he writes, and I know of no reason to dispute that). But... well, firstly, its not exactly prominent. Here's a half-size screen grab, but remember its taken from the bottom of a loooong post. Secondly, its also labelled "AGW educational link", which is far from uncomplimentary. Third, I'm dubious that just putting a post into a category is really as serious as SS thinks. It seems rather thin-skinned to me.

Conclusion: clean hands?

Morally, I can't see that SS has much of a case, even on the merits of these few posts taken in isolation. But more than that, SS doesn't have "clean hands". The quote I started with - when these people obtain public grants as “scientists” and they are not, such dishonesty must be fraud - isn't an isolated example; you could find many more at his blog. More, there's a complete lack of reflection, or self-consciousness, or any ability to read his own words as others would. Try this comment of his for example, ending There are two standards of morality in this debate – ours which is what any reasonable person would expect – and that of your side which would lock us up and tattoo us for the crime of saying it isn’t currently warming. Need I say more, guv?

More like this

I'm reluctant to even comment as I've refrained from engaging with ScotScep for a while now. The exchange with CC is bizarre. I notice that you've still tried to engage with ScotScep and I too had thought it was worth the effort. There's no evidence, though, that it is and it's very hard to understand how he can think that this style of engagement is moderate and reasonable.

I gather from the posts at CC that ScotScep has contacted you to ask for help with the conflict between himself and CC. I'm assuming that this post is an indication that help is unlikely :-)

By And Then There… (not verified) on 07 Feb 2014 #permalink

Connolley, that was written to you in confidence.

[What was? There is nothing in this post that is not in the public domain -W]

By Mike Haseler (not verified) on 07 Feb 2014 #permalink


By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 07 Feb 2014 #permalink

THe labels on blog posts indicate a category; they're hardly a statement of fact. Also the use of the word 'industry' does not mean that he's getting paid by some central agent, although obviously some might think that; or possibly that he materially benefits from it in some way.
Or possibly not, after all the term 'industry' is used to indicate work and doing things and producing something, not necessarily that money is involved. Terms like "blogging industry" turn up on searching, and there's no way we're all getting money from our blogging, even if that which I do can be seen as part of an industry.

It's always interesting seeing how the bullies react when then they get a taste of their own medicine. {Let that be a lesson to you timid lurkers, stand up to them, call them out for what they are.}

Mr. Connolley,
thank you for giving me a heads up on this post and for taking the time to look into this. I appreciate your assessment of this situation. May I have permission to repost this over WhatsUpWithThatWatts?

[I'd rather you didn't repost the whole thing. Links, and of course a reasonable degree of quotation, are entirely reasonable though -W]

~ ~ ~

Mr. Haseler,
Now can be get down to discussing the actual merits of that list of "Skeptical" beliefs. Like I've said before, we don't have to like each other, we just need to be civil and rational. Let's work at a having constructive learning dialogue.
Have a good day sir.

By citizenschallenge (not verified) on 07 Feb 2014 #permalink

Thanks guthrie, I was thinking the same thing - but I'm not getting sucked into any of those distractions - happy you brought it up though. ;- }

I want to discuss the claims made on that list.
And that's the last thing mike is ready for.

What I find incomprehensible is that these folks are OK with propping up a totally fraudulent story-lines.

I think that aspect deserves more attention.

By citizenschallenge (not verified) on 07 Feb 2014 #permalink

This is all a bit hard to follow.

[Oh good. I'd hate it if it was all obvious :-) -W]

I gather the TL;DR version "You criticized my work -- I'm gonna sue!"

[You're missing all the roses along the way, but yes -W]

By Don Brooks (not verified) on 07 Feb 2014 #permalink

I'm confused. Where did WP:NLT become relevant?

[Not strictly relevant, more analogous -W]

Arguing about tenths of a degree seem petty in the overall forcings predicted by the models. If the initial estimate is 0.7 +/- 0.1 and the final estimate is 5 +/- 0.1 it seems pointless to argue whether the IC was 0.6 or 0.8.

[We're not talking about forcings; those numbers are the warming-to-date -W]

By Tim Beatty (not verified) on 07 Feb 2014 #permalink

William, I've read your comments over at SS and CC, and I think you are flogging a dead horse. The common denominator that I see is that you argue from the point of the measured, observed and published evidence whereas the septics on the other hand argue from ideology, and interpret the evidence using their own preconceptions and sociological framing. They use evidence that fits their ideology and exclude the rest. While science uses all the evidence to objectively support, test and falsify a hypothesis. This was also shown in the recent creationist debase with Bill Nye and Ken Ham. Ken said that both sides have the 'same' evidence i.e.. the Grand Canyon, but the creationists will 'interpret' the evidence differently. For them it's evidence of the 'Great Flood'. Anything that does not conform to their ideology they can simply brush away with 'you weren't there, so how can you really know'. It's the same problem I see when arguing with septics with evidence, that is, they will see that same evidence as a fortification of their ideology. You may point to any single seemingly undeniable fact, such as the 0.8C increase, and point to all the scientific papers, but what the septics sees is the confirmation of the idea that the IPCC and scientists are all politically corrupt and on the take. Getting a septic to actually state a position is like trying to nail jelly to the wall. You can press and prod as much as you like for 'evidence', but all you will get is a nebulous of incoherence and misdirections. It's ideology. No one actually wants AGW to be happening. Those who accept the science want it to stop by trying to convince the populace that action needs to be taken, while the other half want it to stop by putting their heads in the sand. They certainly don't want their lifestyle to change in any way, and they certainly don't want to pay any form of carbon pricing or ETS. So, to be happy, all they ever need to come up with is any old measly and pitiful excuse, devoid of any facts and reason, preferably with a hint of untestable conspiracy ideation, so that any evidence that is presented can simply be brushed away.

[SS was indeed a disappointment; what happened was I discovered was that arguing with polite "skeptics" was the same as arguing with rudes ones, but politer.

In more detail (because I almost wrote a post on this): talking with "skeptics" at, say, WUWT is difficult (laying aside the comment suppression for a moment) because if you find one who appears interested in talking rather than shouting slogans, the conversation gets rapidly buried by the peanut gallery. So I wondered what would happen talking to someone who was polite (as SS mostly is) and not too burdened with peanuts (as his blog mostly isn't). But what happens, as I found and as you say, is in the end much the same: that despite their assertions of a desire for "hard facts" they won't produce them, if challenged. Indeed the most basic request for references is met with a claim that providing them would be doing their leg-work for them, and they ought to be paid for backing up their own statements -W]

Of course its your blog and you are free to write in any manner you please. But I found this article heavy going. It required following the hyper links before I could make any satisfactory sense of it, a bugger when one's internet connection is little better than a carrier pigion. And using initials without indicating what the initials stand for is simply cruel particularly for those of us who are fans of cryptic cross words, it tends to exite irrelevant and ungovernable speculations that impede comprehension.

[Sorry about that. I did wonder about the initials - I'll expand them now -W]

Well, I tried to engage with Scottish on a couple of occasions, and gave it up.

my paraphrase from ATTPs:

SS: here’s my list of what sceptics think about the theory that lizardmen are not taking over the earth
VTG: Ah, I see at number two you claim the moon is made of blue cheese. That’s false, do you agree?

SS: This is a carefully constructed list taking into account the views of many sceptics
VTG: Yes, but specifically, do you agree that the moon is not, in fact made of blue cheese?

SS: There is rock, and there is blue cheese. It may be that the proportion of blue cheese is very small, but we cannot be certain of the proportion of cheese.
VTG Really? The mass balance of blue cheese made clearly shows it’s all eaten on earth. Plus the gravitational pull of the moon shows it’s density to be incompatible with that of cheese.

SS: Some sceptics believe the moon is entirely made of blue cheese, but I don’t know why you think it’s important. Did you realise that HG Wells observed canals on Mars and lizard DNA is alien?
VTG Let’s stick to the cheese issue. What would the magnitude of tides be if the moon was made of cheese?

SS: Did you know that Neil Armstrong liked stilton? How can we be certain he didn’t get a taste for it on the moon?
VTG: I’m afraid you’re avoiding the issue and denying the facts. Sorry but there’s no point continuing

SS: Why am I being libelled and insulted? Let’s audit astronomy with uncorrupted scientists who believe in blue cheese. The we’ll know the truth

By VeryTallGuy (not verified) on 08 Feb 2014 #permalink

The term skeptic (as in scientific or rational skeptic) has a long, honorable history, with folks like Martin Gardner or Carl Sagan as especially well-known skeptics. People involved with the CSI (see WIkipeida entry for history and list of Fellows, consistent skeptics on most topics most of time, as good scientists are. (For instance, CSI started as CSICOP, focused early on investigating (not just rejecting out of hand) claims of the paranormal, UFOs, ESP, Bigfoot sightings, crop circles, etc ... where the proponents ranged from honest believers to scam artists).

But the term skeptic/sceptic has been hijacked by "climate sceptics" very few of whom deserve to share that label with Sagan, but whose behavior is better described by another long-established term, pseudoskepticism. but Richard Cameron Wilson captured it concisely as part of an essay:
‘In a sceptical age, even those disseminating wholly bogus ideas - from corporate pseudo-science to 9/11 conspiracy theories - will often seek to appropriate the language of rational inquiry. But there is a meaningful difference between being a "sceptic" and being in denial. The genuine sceptic forms his beliefs through a balanced evaluation of the evidence. The sceptic of the bogus variety cherry-picks evidence on the basis of a pre-existing belief, seizing on data, however tenuous, that supports his position, and yet declaring himself "sceptical" of any evidence, however compelling, that undermines it.’

Related terms might include fake sceptic, false sceptic or use of motivated reasoning, but the most graphical conceptualization is related to the (imaginary) Maxwell's Demon, a "real" one called Morton's Demon, which
'‘stands at the gateway of a person's senses and lets in facts that agree with that person's beliefs while deflecting those that do not. This demon is used to explain the phenomenon of confirmation bias.’'

Actually, some subspecies of that demon range far and wide, cherry-picking *anything* that will support beliefs, no matter how silly, as in thinking that the opinions of a certain British Lord have even the slightest bearing on climate science. There is supposed to be a good cartoon of Morton's Demon, but I have not yet found it.

Pseudoskeptic is clear (as is WMC's septic :-)) but "sceptic" as in '"sceptic" blogs' allows for some ambiguity:
a) It might mean: these are pseudoskeptic blogs with little trace of anything Sagan or Gardner would recognize, except when a few real skeptics show up to argue and are vilified, ignored or banned.
b) It might mean that such blogs might have a mix of skeptical and pseudoskeptical thinking.
c) or it might mean that the blog says its sceptical, but one hasn't seen enough to be sure.

[I can never remember how to spell pseudo, so I tend not to use it :-). Off on "skeptic" blogs I use the word in quotes; it satisfies me, and I think many of them miss the subtlety and so there's no offence; we are talking about very discriminating people in general. And even if they notice its hard to be offended. Here, well, I'll call them denialists if I feel so inclined, but I'm making a bit of a push for peace-n-reconciliation at the moment (within limits, obviously) -W]

By John Mashey (not verified) on 08 Feb 2014 #permalink

> the most basic request for references is met with a claim
> that providing them would be doing their leg-work for them

i think technically those can be classified as ignoramuses, not skeptics -- either copacetic or apocalyptoid variety. Or, of course, as kids angling for homework help.

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 08 Feb 2014 #permalink

People can form their own opinion of whether or not Scottish Sceptic might more accurately be called Scottish PseudoSkeptic, starting with About:
'This is the blog of Mike Haseler and what you may wish to know about me is that I am a Climate Scientist as I am more of a scientist than most who work on climate.'

I trust that is short enough to avoid claims of plagiarism, but people ought to read that entire entry. Interestingly, via Wayback, the page had existed for several years, but that claim only got added between August and October 2013. Sadly, Google Scholar offers no relevant publications, but perhaps he will start presenting @ EGU or even AGU, etc, so we can assess his claims in person.

For another example, skim the discussion (oldest first) of review of Murry Salby's book, during which Gavin Cawley tries patiently to engage RG Reynolds. The discussion, especially towards the end, may be instructive regarding behavior patterns of intense pseudoskepticism.

This is also related to the definition of "dismissive" as found in the Yale/GMU Yale/GMU studies, defined by analysis of patterns from multiple surveys, and is more concise and perhaps more accurate than "climate denier." Of course:
1) People might think unskeptically, skeptically or pseudoskeptically on any topic.
2) Dismissives reject the results of mainstream climate science, but not all would claim "I am a good sceptic...."
A few of my favored (pseudoskeptic) quotes from the 1900 or so in the SalbyStorm are:
'Go away and preach to the already converted. We use our brains here. We think for ourselves.'
'The enormous difference between skeptics and the other camp is the skeptics want to get to the bottom of the issues…'

The latter was true, but not the way meant. It only took a few simple searches and a little thought to encounter evidence casting serious doubt on Salby's credibility ... but the *only* people who did that were in fact real skeptics who usually understood the science, too. . A few dismissives (or unclear) got as far as looking at Google Scholar or WoS to find that Salby's publication rate had dropped when he joined Macquarie ... but didn't look any further to see that Salby:

a) was clearly an atmospheric circulation specialist and if one looks at IPCC WG I, such topics are important in climate science, but only a small part, and Salby's work was rarely referenced.

b) had been at U Colorado-Boulder (CU). Any academic supposed to be an expert in their field tends to leave a long trail of publications, from which one can find their history, coauthors, etc). Dismissives just didn't look. For anyone familiar with academe, his 2008 move to Macquarie would raise warning flags.

c) Had published no papers on carbon-cycle/paleoclimate, and his odd ideas only started to surface in mid-2011, 3+ years after he had moved to Macquarie.

d) his PhD student Titova was making regular progress, coauthored a few papers on Antarctic ozone, but nothing whatsoever on strange CO2 ideas. None of Salby's videos mentioned her ... but in his July email, suddenly it became "our research" (~5 times).

e) His 1996 book was well-regarded, and most of the 2012 book is pretty much the same material, but see the book review above. Some dismissives rushed off to buy his book, but I have yet to figure out how many read it or had the background to read it.

f) Both (real) skeptics and (some) dismssives were worried about Salby's claims about computer code, but this led to a lot of wild speculation, rather than going to look and it was not that hard to figure out the much-likelier story.

A Few dismissives expressed commendable (real) skepticism about other aspects of Salby's story, knowing that relying on one side of an employment dispute is very chancy. Hence, some dismissives may be pseudoskeptics on climate science, but able to think skeptically on other topics. Some primarily seemed more worried that "their side" would look foolish if it turned out Salby was wrong, and said they expected better of "their side" ... but tended to get squashed, especially @ WUWT.

Most spent more time reading blogs and commenting than doing the simple searches it took to find relevant data.

But even the most skeptical dismissives did not go looking very deeply for data or at all.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 08 Feb 2014 #permalink

VTG: amusing, but I have seen clear proof that the moon is made of cheese, although perhaps not blue, but Wensleydale, as provided by well-published researcher Dr. Wallace and his associate Gromit.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 08 Feb 2014 #permalink

IAAL, IAANACopyrightL, American L only thankyouverymuch.

"It might also be argued that the document isn’t clearly SS’s copyright: as it says of itself, its been compiled from the views and with the input of numerous others."

If you rephrase somebody else's work, you own copyright to the rephrasing. If you simply recopy and compile in one spot other people's work, you're likely infringing. Whether you own your new compilation is beyond my pay grade.

"I would also argue that anyone publishing a “statement” that is clearly political in nature offers an implied right to reproduce it – indeed, it seems pretty clear that SS would like the document itself to be widely publicised; what he is really objecting to are the critical comments."

I'm doubtful of that implied license to reproduce, absent more information. OTOH, fair use of copyrighted material is probably strongest for political material reproduced on a non--profit basis for purpose of political and scientific criticism.

"Is it possible to permit copying only if no critical comments are made, but permit and encourage it otherwise?"

Yes, copyright owners can set the conditions to license their use. One-sided conditions might be additional justification for fair use for purposes of political commentary, though.

"What of the moral issue?"

IAAL, so I don't understand this question.

[:-) -W]

"because the document’s original source has been clearly attributed, and its been so cut about that no-one would copy the copy, they’d certainly go back to the original, I can’t see that any theft of intellectual property has occurred."

Using snippets rather than the whole doc helps the fair use argument significantly.

[Yes, agreed. I'd always do that. I note that, e.g., WUWT can be fairly reckless in this regard too -W]

"Libel....I’m not sure what the “numerous false claims” are supposed to be. On a quick skim, I’d say that CC is more correct than SS. I’ve already noted the problem with the arbitrary lopping off of 0.2 oC. It would be interesting to see SS back up the NFC assertion with evidence, but based on past behaviour I consider this unlikely."

Truth is an absolute defense against libel in the US. Not sure if an eponymous plaintiff can bring a libel suit, anyway. Very difficult to prove damages.

[The putative plaintiff is a named individual, and its no secret from his blog; I just saw no reason to add his name here -W]

" The unambiguous claim, though, is that by filing the post under “denial industry” CC has, errm, labelled SS as part of the denial industry."

I guess our potential plaintiff is claiming potential defendant sez potential plaintiff is paid to take his position. I dunno. I would contrast this one-off, somewhat vague statement to the constant false accusations of fraud that Mann had to put up with.

[Mmmm, someone above has pointed out that even "denial industry" doesn't imply pay, since its used far more broadly. It certainly needs interpretation. Agreed re Mann, though the question of whose law this gets held under might be interesting, if it ever came to it. CC is from the US, but also anonymous -W]

By Brian Schmidt (not verified) on 08 Feb 2014 #permalink

Denial industry:
Indeed, it is unclear. I always use this model, with this set of reasons, which try to be clear that there is a core that gets paid for this, although most don't.
For some bloggers (Marc Morano) this is their job.
Some might get trips and expenses paid for, or consulting work or some sort or other. Others might have books to promote via blogging. Then there are tip jars.... but generally, the money goes to the thinktanks, front groups, lobbyists., while the majority of the blogs and comments are done for non-financial reasons.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 08 Feb 2014 #permalink

Actually, I'm not anonymous, I just don't splash it all over. Anyone with the slightest interest could find out with a few key strokes.

My attitude is that this little virtual dialogue of mine should be about the ideas I'm trying to share, not about me, I'm just a spectator.

For what it's worth my pal Scotty has gone silent. No surprise, it's how fake skeptics always behave, as soon as you start getting them close to confronting their own mistakes... they slink off pouting and scheming, rather than trying to learn a lesson from the experience.

Oh well, on to bigger and better,
Lord Christopher Monckton 2013 - The Republican poster boy…

aka citizenschallenge

By citizenschallenge (not verified) on 08 Feb 2014 #permalink

well, maybe not "better"

By citizenschallenge (not verified) on 08 Feb 2014 #permalink

Don't waste time trying to convince the pro and semi-pro "skeptics." They are a digression. Spend the time in high-popularity public places, convincing the vast mass of the undecided public.

At the top of the denialist pyramid are overt shills paid by the fossil fuel industry. Their job is to insert climate denialism into tribal ideologies on the political right. This they do by associating climate denialism with other emotional hot-buttons that work with their chosen audience: "lifestyle change," "Al Gore" (hatred of), "liberals and left-winders" (ditto), etc.

Off to one side on that level, are the captive "researchers" who are also denialist ideologues; some of them are paid by the fossil fuel industry, some are ideological fellow-travelers, some have personal ambitions such as seeking to climb to the top level and are looking to be recognised by those at the top.

The next level down on the pyramid consists of ideological rabble-rousers, who are hooked by the message promoted by the shills. If I had to guess at their motive, it would be to gain status among the shills, and possibly to become promoted and influential. They are not paid. They are highly shrill. (You could call them "unpaid shrills";-) These are the people who also attract arguement from well-meaning people on our side. However there is no convincing them of anything, and one of their functions is to take flak from us and waste our time in pointless arguements over the facts.

At the base of the pyramid are the ideological tribals, who are roused-up by the rabble rousers. These are the ones who show up on popular sites and make the same tired old arguements, attempting to convince members of the vast undecided mass. They are also the easiest to fight, and they are often quasi-literate which makes them easy targets. These are the ones we usually consider "not worth bothering with" (read: beneath us), but in fact these are the ones we should be fighting.

And the way to fight them is not by quoting reams of facts, but by using better emotional memes against them. The real audience of that arguement is not the ideological tribals but the undecideds, who don't have the background to grasp the science but who typically make political decisions based on emotional arguements and social affiliations.

One way to go after the ideological tribals is by accusing them of being Luddites who are "still clinging to 19th century energy sources" and "afraid of 21st century energy sources." One can also accuse them of being "no-nukers," and the fact that the Green Party in Germany won an anti-nuke victory that led directly to more coal use, is a useful point to raise. Painting all the climate deniers as anti-nuke dupes of Arab oil shiekhs is a potentially useful tactic. Coal is "so 19th century" and oil is "a few cents for Al Qaeda every time you fill up your tank." Keystone XL is "a give-away to Canada at our expense." Fracking is "destroying rural property values to benefit city slickers."

If you doubt that these kinds of memes work, try them.

The meme I'm trying to bring to prominence with all this is the tragic reality that:

The modern right-wing and Republicans have enshrined the repetition of known LIES as a valid part of public discourse.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

By citizenschallenge (not verified) on 09 Feb 2014 #permalink

Surrealism is less the problem than some bien pensants insisting Hieronymous Bosch should be the visual director of the IPCC, while Watts crew looks to Thomas Kinkade.

SS's statement:

what you may wish to know about me is I am a Climate Scientist as I am more of a scientist than most who work on climate.

is immediately diagnostic for the Dunning-Kruger effect, without referring to the content of his scientific claims. Why would he wish us to know that about him beforehand, if we can decide for ourselves from the quality of his arguments? And if we, not being D-K victims ourselves, don't feel competent to judge his arguments, does he expect us to take his word for it over that of "most who work on climate"? We can hope that only similarly D-K-afflicted visitors to SS will allow themselves to be persuaded.

I think G is on the right track:

And the way to fight them is not by quoting reams of facts, but by using better emotional memes against them. The real audience of that arguement is not the ideological tribals but the undecideds, who don’t have the background to grasp the science but who typically make political decisions based on emotional arguements and social affiliations.

For those undecideds, it might help to point out that the basic argument for AGW requires only a high-school-level knowledge of science, link to widely-respected sources like the the Royal Society or the U.S. National Academy of Sciences where they can find the argument made at that level, and imply that pseudoskeptics who claim that science is on their side weren't paying attention in their high school science classes.

By Mal Adapted (not verified) on 09 Feb 2014 #permalink

Dear William,

I completely disagree with you regarding your zealous fight for climate control.

[I think yuo may be talking to the wrong person. I'm not doing that. Have you considered reading what I write, instead of only what others write about me? -W]

And I know, that in your vision, I am stupid and ignorant.

[I known nothing about you, other than what you reveal here. You're certainly ignorant of me and my writings. Take this opportunity to prove yourself non-stupid by actually finding something that *I* wrote, that fits vaguely within "zealous fight for climate control", and quote it at me -W]

I have been battling cancer for 6 years now against a similarily eery opposition. I think, battling cancer has a better chance than your Don Quichote fight with climate change denialists. Why do you not consider to shift boats?

Yours stupidity, sincerely incapably


Pseudo: yes, that is a challenge, especially given pronounciation of the related(?) "suede." I always remember because decades ago back East, at a party I once heard a woman say, in a tone pf disdain:
"I just despise these suedo-intellectuals, don't you?"

By John Mashey (not verified) on 09 Feb 2014 #permalink