A few post-event thoughts about the AGU Fall Meeting: the good, the bad, and the ugly

On my first day at the AGU Fall Meeting, I highlighted some of the zany things about the meeting, such as “gas sucks” girl and Richard Alley’s open mic night at a local bar.

Today I’ll point out some of the more in-depth observations from my experience there, including the positives and the negatives, and some of the ugly ones too.

The bad:

There was, in my opinion, too much tolerance of, and outright support for, politicization and polarization, such as broadly advertising events like this throughout the meeting:

IMG_20131209_131354[1]

Attending that meeting, it was quite clear to me that legal attacks aren’t something the general membership experiences, and it is limited mostly to smaller group. I’ll have more on that later in a separate post. But the way this special session was pushed each day, it makes it look like it is a large organizational-wide problem when the special session itself confirmed that it isn’t.

There was clear evidence throughout the fall meeting of other types of political and polarizing influence.  Dr. James Hansen’s talk was a prime example of this. His level of alarm (some of it irrational) was turned into an infection vector for a broad swath of the membership. I’ll also have more on that in a future post and below I describe his reaction to my asking him a question in front of 1200 people.

Along those lines, there were advertisements that I considered a “call to action”, such as this poster:

AGU_call_to_action

Science findings really shouldn’t be thought of as “making a difference”, that is a social pursuit. According to the definition that pops up on Google when you query “what is science?”  it is “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.”.

None of the definitions I looked at had “making a difference” as part of the structure. In my opinion, such advertisements can become the seeds of “noble cause corruption”, or as Dr. Judith Curry recently put it,  Pathological altruism:

Pathological altruism can be conceived as behavior in which attempts to promote the welfare of another, or others, results instead in harm that an external observer would conclude was reasonably foreseeable.

Some of the opinions I saw expressed under the guise of science at this show most certainly fit that definition.

And then there was the money.

The costs to attend this show, in one of the most expensive cities in the USA, is quite significant. That’s why I asked WUWT readers for help a couple of months ago (thank you everyone). Between my hotel bill for four days, costs of food, parking, taxis, and incidentals, my costs have now reached about $2000. Had I not been able to get a press pass, the costs would be close to $2500. Had I flown from a location elsewhere in the USA rather than drive, my costs could easily have reached $3500.

From my observations, the majority of attendees were government employed scientists, either by agencies, such as NASA, NOAA, Departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Aviation, etc. to name a few I spotted, or from universities, which rely upon state and federal government funding.

There was also private sector attendees, but these seemed the minority, and many of them were exhibitors of scientific equipment. My guesstimate based on badge counting is that there were about 15,000 government-funded attendees out of the 20,000 or so that were estimated to have attended.

If I use my own numbers as an example, and figure it may have cost each of them $3000 to attend (some may not have stayed four days) and with 20,000 attendees that translates to a 60 million dollar event. If fifteen thousand were government-funded, that puts it at 45 million dollars footed by the taxpayers.

There was a lot of science on display there, but as I wandered through the poster sessions each day, I saw a lot of science that seemed to be replicated. I’d see 3 or four posters covering the same topic from different universities or agencies, sometimes on the same day in the same aisle. This duplication of effort is something the US government is quite famous for. For example, USGS now has a climate change division, duplicating some of the work NOAA does. When Eisenhower warned that science was becoming institutionalized, he was only touching the surface of what I observed on display at AGU.

I got a first hand insight into many of the climate personalities we cover here at WUWT.  To name a few, I encountered, Michael Mann, John Cook, Dana Nuccitelli, David Appell, Gavin Schmidt, James Hansen, Naomi Oreskes, Stephan Lewandowsky, Richard Somerville, Peter Gleick, Phil Jones, Ben Santer, Andrew Dessler, Kevin Trenberth, Joshua Halpern (who plays Eli Rabbet on the interweb) Scott Mandia, Richard Alley, Zeke Hausfather, and California Governor Jerry Brown.

Some I shook hands with, some I listened to at lectures, and some I simply encountered and they avoided eye contact. Cook and Nuccitelli were prime avoiders, not just of me but I heard the same from others. Watching them walk around the show with their swagger when they weren’t in proximity of a skeptic was an interesting observation.

Most of the people named above were pretty much as I expected them to be, one notable exception was Scott Mandia (see the positives below). The other notable exception was Naomi Oreskes. After watching her present her views, I’m convinced that she suffers from sort of personality disorder that causes her to hate (venomously I might add, she labels some people as “scumbags”) people who disagree with her. She’s really got a chip on her shoulder, and that translates directly into her emotionally driven work on climate politics. IMHO, she makes Michael Mann look like an amateur in that regard.

I saw Penn State’s Richard Alley speak, and let me tell you, if you think Michael Mann is annoying, Alley’s certainly a close second. His presentation was simultaneously grating (he shouted a lot) and ridiculous, using bizarre metaphors like this one:

Alley_penguins

One of Alley’s slides, previous slides compared global warming to drunk drivers and traffic jams.

Worse, California governor Jerry Brown was in the audience and seemed to be quite taken with Alley’s brand of science and alarmism, particularly Alley’s depictions of San Francisco under water.

Gov. Jerry Brown talks with Richard Alley just feet away from me.

Gov. Jerry Brown talks with Richard Alley just feet away from me.

I shudder to think what sort of influence Alley’s rantings might have on the people of California via Brown.

My first two days at AGU were personally difficult. I felt the stares, I heard some smirks. But the biggest problem for me wasn’t that I was in the minority, but that my hearing assistance needs ( have about an 80% loss, partially corrected with hearing aids) weren’t attended to by AGU, even though I thought they had been taken care of when I signed up. When I went to sessions and asked for the hearing assistance headsets, all I got was blank stares. Nobody knew where to get them. Thankfully the problem was resolved (see the positives).

The AGU is too Macintosh centric. For example, they had a great App for iPhone and iPad users to help them navigate the show, but Android users were virtually ignored. Android accounts for a larger market share now than IOS, and according to this November 2013 Forbes article, 81% of devices shipped had Android OS, versus 12.9% for Apple’s IOS. AGU shouldn’t ignore the many people in attendance that use Android on phones and tablets.

So, since I have Android, I was forced to rely on the printed book for the show which was the size of a small phone book, making it cumbersome and heavy to carry around all day. I finally resorted to tearing out pages and/or taking snapshots on my phone of sessions I wanted to attend. The book itself was quite an impressive production, but to an outsider it was hard to navigate as the session listings were split into groupings by interest, instead of having one listing for each day.

==============================================================

The good:

The event itself was eye-opening, I would encourage anyone who can to attend it at least once. Despite some sneers and snubs I received at the hands of a small group of people, and some difficulties with hearing some sessions, the event was mostly positive for me.

This meeting had about 20,000 attendees based on the numbers I heard from AGU officials I interacted with. For the most part, it was well orchestrated and well handled. Getting any event this large to run smoothly takes skill, and I think AGU did a good job at making most everything run smoothly.

Many of the sessions were available via streaming video, and the video worked well. Many will also be on the YouTube channel soon. This makes much of the meeting accessible to everyone and I applaud AGU for doing this.

While I offered my handshake first to say hello to a few people on the opposite side of the debate (named above in the negatives section, Kevin Trenberth, Gavin Schmidt, Joshua Halpern to name a few) only one person from that group made the effort to say hello to me; Scott Mandia.

Despite the fact that he takes a satirical ribbing from us for his “SuperMandia” persona, Scott was not only civil, but quite pleasant. I spent about 15 minutes talking to him about his Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, the meeting itself, and what skeptics and AGW proponents have in common. Kudos to him for doing so.

One person who is not part of that group, Clark J. Weaver who runs Congressional Temperature Trends also made the effort to say hello. He was quite interested in what I had to say about station siting issues.

While I was in this meeting….

Legal_attack_panel

Climate Science Under Legal Attack – Scientists Tell their stories. L-R Naomi Oreskes, Jeff Ruch (PEER), Kevin Trenberth, Michael Mann, Andrew Dessler, Ben Santer

…I sat just feet away from people whom I’m quite certain would rather not have had me there.

In that meeting audience (which was about half capacity of the room) there was also John Cook, Dana Nuccitelli, Phil Jones, David Appell, Stephan Lewandowsky, and Richard Somerville. WUWT regular John Whitman was also present.

Despite my presence front and center with my unmistakably labeled WUWT camera case, I wasn’t bothered by anyone, nor was I acknowledged or cited by the panel (though they had plenty of opportunity to do so when talking about the impacts of Climategate). In fact, eye contact was universally avoided. That said, I’m pretty certain that some of the commentary from the panel was a bit more restrained than it might have been had I not been so visible. I’ll point out, as I told Scott Mandia, I didn’t sit in the front row to intimidate anyone, I sit there so I can lip read.

The meeting purported to to be about the “legal attacks” these people had experienced. I only heard two instances of a lawsuit being inflicted on members the panel, and that was from Oreskes and Dessler, and the outcomes were unclear. I gathered these were a threats of a lawsuit, but not an actual lawsuit taken to full court press. Dr. Trenberth made a point of saying “I’ve never been sued”.

Oreskes made it clear that threat never did become a full blown lawsuit, and as part of the “silver lining” she mentioned, wrote Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming.

From that book, she got more invitations to speak and publish.

What was surprising was that none of the panel cited any monetary losses from these lawsuits or threats of lawsuits, nor did they cite any professional losses (such as demotion, loss of pay grade, etc) as a result of the supposed attacks. My viewpoint was strengthened by an audience member who commented during Q&A that “Dr. Mann mentioned the Serengeti strategy, and I don’t don’t think skeptics have been very effective at it, since you are all still here to talk about it”.

Most of the panel’s complaints had to do with Climategate and those emails, FOIA requests, time spent, and the supposed nasty emails they get from skeptics and the emails sent to their superiors. David Appell wrote this in an article When Scientists Get Sued (yaleclimatemediaforum.org):

Climate scientist Kevin Trenberth of NCAR described the 19 pages of “extremely nasty” e-mails he received, after an e-mail message of his own was leaked in the so-called “ClimateGate” controversy of 2009. In that message he bemoaned science’s inability to close the planet’s energy budget, which he then described as a “travesty,” a remark that was widely misconstrued by climate contrarians.

Trenberth was bombarded with e-mails containing “filthy language” and suggestions he go back to his native New Zealand. A small protest was held at the entrance to his NCAR lab, and the lab increased security.

That combined with the low attendance, with the audience mostly being people who are part of this clique, it suggested to me that the “legal attacks” were really few and far between, didn’t come to fruition or monetary losses, and that most of the umbrage vented by the panel had to do with the idea that anyone dare questioned their results or integrity.

This all seems more on the “Tempest in a teapot” level than serious legal losses. I’ll have more on this meeting in a future post.

The science posters on display was probably the best part of the show, though exhausting to keep up with since they changed every day, and there were hundreds of new ones each day. It was like turbo science fair. One of the best things about posters is that it allowed people to try out new ideas without going through the process of peer review. Ideas and criticisms from the poster can then be worked into a final paper. I saw a few posters that pushed a skeptical view of climate, I also saw a few posters that pushed what I consider ridiculous views of climate alarmism that would be considered fringe science. One such poster was from a fellow who argued that all global warming was from water vapor feedback and nothing else.

I’ll have more on poster sessions in upcoming WUWT stories.

Once I was able to contact the right AGU staff about the lack of hearing assistance in the session rooms, I’ll have to say they were very responsive and very gracious. I’d like to thank Joan Buhrman, Manager, Strategic Communications of AGU for her personal assistance in solving this problem. During Hansen’s second rescheduled talk, she made up for some the previous difficulties by placing me at the front of the line for his talk, ensuring I’d get a good seat. That translated into a seat right next to microphones that allowed audience members to ask questions.

After Dr. Hansen’s talk, in which he stated “we have very little time left” and used the usual alarming points, but then he started promoting nuclear power, and I saw this as an opportunity to ask a question that dealt with something AGW promoters and skeptics might agree on.

So, there I was, standing before Hansen and 1200 people getting ready to ask a question. As a 30 year veteran of television, radio, and audience presentations, I can’t recall a time when I was so nervous. My knees were literally shaking. While I was waiting for my turn, I was wondering if Dr. Hansen would recognize me, and if he did, would he take my question, or would he launch into some sort of invective about skeptics? Would I get catcalls and boos from the audience just for daring to ask?

To my relief, Dr. Hansen took my question in stride. I thanked him for his views on nuclear power, and asked him if he would be willing to support Thorium based nuclear power due to its many safety advantages that got pushed aside due to the Uranium based nuclear power being preferred due to the parallel bomb making effort helping the economics of nuclear power development.

He said it “must be part of the mix” mainly due to the fact that “there is so much of it” referring to abundance in the Earth’s crust. I see this as a point of agreement that both sides should work on.

The best part of my daring to ask that question, was that a person and dear friend in the audience that I hadn’t seen in 20 years recognized my voice and we connected afterwards. That was a real treat.

=============================================================

The ugly:

On Tuesday, I attended Dr. Judith lean’s lecture: Global Change in Earth’s Atmosphere, Natural and Anthropogenic factors.

During the presentation a slide went up that had a story from WUWT cited on it. At that same time I heard what I thought was a grunt of disapproval. Looking around a bit later, I noticed that the nearest likely candidates for uttering such a grunt were sitting about 8-10 feet from me; David Appell and Dr. Richard Somerville.

I wrote in that post about the appearance of the slide:

Nice to see a familiar face used. Heard David Appell and Richard Somerville who were sitting near me both grunt when WUWT was displayed.

I didn’t think much of it, it was just an observation (posted from my cell phone). To my surprise I found out that despite him stating ” Frankly, I couldn’t care less ” Appell wrote an entire story saying it wasn’t him, about this one sentence. His post is titled: Anthony Watts, Lying Again

And said:

Anthony Watts can’t even tell the truth about the little things.

My goodness, what a reaction! If Appell isn’t the one who grunted when the WUWT slide came up, I’ll certainly take his word for it.

Maybe it was somebody behind me I couldn’t see or maybe it was somebody stifling a cough. All I know is that I heard something at that time that sounded like a grunt, and I thought the most likely candidates were Appell and Somerville, since they both have expressed strong disdain in the past for climate skeptics, and with Appell, me in particular.

Since Appell brought up the issue “…can’t even tell the truth about the little things.” I’ll point out that Mr. Appell has created false persona and fake email addresses to get around his being banned for serial bad behavior here.

Mr. Appell has used fake email addresses with several aliases here at WUWT:

Edd Ward
Mughal
Phobos
Stan W.
Sedron L

And those are just the ones I know of.

He’s also sent me an email some time ago saying he’d do it again. Anything for “the cause” I suppose. And then there’s the incident where he brought my deceased mother into one of his rants.

So while Mr. Appell suggests loudly that I’m lying about my observation of hearing a grunt and attributing it to him, the most likely nearby candidate, and that it’s a supposed example of not telling the truth about little things, which he means translates by extension into larger things, we have multiple examples here of Mr. Appell’s own falsehoods in representing who he is.

I’d say that getting ranted on by Appell over attribution of a “grunt” was probably the worst thing to come out of AGU 2013. From that perspective, since nobody much takes him seriously anymore, I think since that was the worst thing that happened, I did pretty well at AGU 2013.

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134 Responses to A few post-event thoughts about the AGU Fall Meeting: the good, the bad, and the ugly

  1. Thank you so much for walking into the Roman Coliseum and living to tell about it.

  2. Julian in Wales says:

    I think you were very brave to go into the lion’s den like that, it takes a lot of guts and also displays your confidence and self-esteem.

  3. Paul Pierett says:

    Considering what I know there is a concentration cell awaiting me somewhere. I hope it is a seaside few next to Rush’s Condo.

  4. Paul Pierett says:

    That said, when the solar minimum truly hits, these Gestapo tactics will see Russians on the Western Front. They seem to stay aloft of this crap.

  5. Ivor Ward (aka Disko Troop) says:

    The joys of walking into the lions den and discovering that they are really scared little pussycats.

  6. HLx says:

    Very nice summary :)..

    One thing I am wondering about is, where there any people that came to you and showed their “silent” support? Did many people know you?

    REPLY: there were two people who made overtures along those lines – Anthony

  7. EternalOptimist says:

    Damn fine effort sir!
    I am not suprised to learn who the swaggerers were, but Scott is redeemed I guess. Pity about Appell. It only takes one bad one…so they say

  8. Brian H says:

    With all the gubmint funds flowing to attendees from their barely numerable agencies with skin in the game, it’s inevitable they will degenerate into insider love-fests. What’s the point, other than swapping talking-points?

  9. dalyplanet says:

    Who is David Appell.

    Actually Dr Curry has given him much latitude and he has shown a boorish behavior on many occasions.

    Thank you for the report.

  10. Matthew R Marler says:

    I saw a lot of science that seemed to be replicated. I’d see 3 or four posters covering the same topic from different universities or agencies, sometimes on the same day in the same aisle.

    That’s necessary for science to have any hope of being self-correcting.

    It is also the result of “the invisible hand” of the information marketplace: people independently studying the same publications and independently identifying the next logical lines of study.

  11. John A says:

    It all feels like an ebb tide of alarmism at the AGU.

  12. Scott Mc says:

    Anthony, you are an amazing man and I have enormous respect for you.

  13. EternalOptimist says:

    @Brian H. I think there is a point.
    It may have been an expensive meeting but many new ideas are born at this type of event. People rub up against each other.
    Plus, I would bet that AW found one alarmist to be a nice guy after all, but ten alarmists found AW to be a nice guy after all

    and I kind of like that idea

  14. Pippen Kool says:

    “Science findings really shouldn’t be thought of as “making a difference””

    Really?

    One of the things that the NSF asks when it reviews grants is whether or not answering a Q in a proposal makes a difference is how we think about a problem. One thing I like is, “this will change the text books”. And a Nobel Prize is often awarded for things that change the way people think, Spemann’s Organizer, Einstein’s relativity, Sanger’s DNA sequencing or Fire&Mello’s iRNA.

    Science is very much about making a difference.

    REPLY:
    You left off “that’s a social pursuit”. tsk. Anthony

  15. Matthew W says:

    Very interesting !!

  16. Peter Miller says:

    It is a pity such a high percentage of delegates were from the multi-tentacled bureaucracies of government.

    When you have this, all you get is a bunch of heads nodding in agreement on the following: i) how important they all are, ii) the need for more research funds, and iii) the urgent need to grow their own particular bureaucracies.

  17. James Strom says:

    I’ve got to respect your pursuit of your press activities despite hearing difficulties, but they do put you in a situation where you may miss subtleties. You may for example, misconstrue sounds of disapproval, particularly inarticulate ones. Heck, I often do so myself, without need of a hearing problem.

  18. RicHard. says:

    It is depressing to read about the cost to the tax payer, I am betting it went over 60 million. So many real problems nead addressing.

  19. Mario Lento says:

    Thank you Anthony! I trust and hope that the donations provided covered the costs. I assumed you would have received more than $2500 from us. I’m willing to contribute a bit more to future funding to get you out in front of other venues. We need you. We need WUWT and the mods, I cannot imagine a world without WUWT – a beacon of hope for truth in science!

  20. TimiBoy says:

    Mate, if you were a Pom (or an Aussie) you’d be SIR Anthony Watts. Thankyou for your work.

  21. Rud Istvan says:

    Anthony, I trust that you and Dr. curry were able to connect. You both came to the same battle, albeit from different perspectives at different times. She, more pure science. You, more pure practical (as befits a former weatherman). The combination is formidable.
    As for Mann, et. al.(your previous posted photo) nothing more needs to be said. The bar venue might provide an excuse, but not a justification. Summarizes it all, except for your count of government funded/ other. Not shocking, just more proof of the validity of a follow the money meme.
    Highest regards.

  22. NikFromNYC says:

    Here’s Dave last year:

    “They are too many, and too stupid. So what to do about them?

    I don’t know. Donald Brown, the philosopher at Penn State who has been writing about the ethics of climate change for well over a decade — I interviewed him in the early 2000s — thinks they are perhaps guilty of crimes against humanity.

    Are they? Are Anthony Watts and Marc Morano and Tom Nelson and Steve Goddard smart enough to be guilty of climate crimes?

    I think so. You can’t simply claim that CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas.

    I think they’re crimes will be obvious in about a decade.

    When I profiled Michael Mann for Scientific American, he said he thought it would eventually be illegal to deny climate change. I had doubts about that, but maybe.”

  23. David Ball says:

    I am always impressed with the courage and effort you put forth An”tny.
    Now, if you would be so kind as to print my father’s latest article and response to questions asked of him, I will know that WUWT? is the bastion of evidenced based free thinking that I have come to know. Let your reader’s decide for themselves as you have always done.

    REPLY: I made it very clear to your father that he’d stepped over a line here by promoting a post in his essay from a person who has villifed, insulted, degraded, and mocked me, while at the same time using fake emails and fake persona (no, not David Appell another person) to slip in comments here under false pretenses. I’m not going to give that disruptive childish person any further attention. Your father obviously doesn’t want to remove that reference, so we are at an impasse. I offered to link to the essay if he publishes it on his own website to which he replied “fair enough”. Dr. Ball has not yet published that article on his own website. When he does< I'll make good on my offer, but under no circumstances am I obligated to publish an essay here that I don't agree with. – Anthony

  24. Mario Lento says:

    Pippen Kool says:
    December 14, 2013 at 2:15 pm
    “Science findings really shouldn’t be thought of as “making a difference””

    Really?

    One of the things that the NSF asks when it reviews grants is whether or not answering a Q in a proposal makes a difference is how we think about a problem. One thing I like is, “this will change the text books”. And a Nobel Prize is often awarded for things that change the way people think, Spemann’s Organizer, Einstein’s relativity, Sanger’s DNA sequencing or Fire&Mello’s iRNA.

    Science is very much about making a difference.

    REPLY: You left off “that’s a social pursuit”. tsk. Anthony
    ++++++++++++
    Again Pippen. You have selective hearing. By leaving out the complete sentence, your words argue against something that was not stated. You argue with your versions of the truth. By leaving out ” that’s a social prusuit” you fail to appreciate the context. For instance, one of the charters of the owner of that poster in questions is “The Thriving Earth Exchange will operate as a platform to connect communities and organizations with scientists to address specific, real-world science issues for societal good.”

    I don’t need any more social sciences –especially from the likes of you Pippen Kool.

  25. CodeTech says:

    I’m not sure I could have been there, I’d be too convulsed with laughter half the time. I’m sorry, but my BS detector (bad science) is set pretty high, by default.

    I attended E3 a few times in the 90s… and several computer conferences in the late 70s and early 80s. I sure hope that isn’t what these conventions are like.

  26. davidmhoffer says:

    NikFromNYC;
    Are they? Are Anthony Watts and Marc Morano and Tom Nelson and Steve Goddard smart enough to be guilty of climate crimes?
    I think so. You can’t simply claim that CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Having followed this forum for a very many years, I challenge you to produce a single instance of Mr Watts saying any such thing.

    REPLY: Thanks, Indeed the argument I’m in with Dr. Tim Ball (see David Ball comment this thread) has to do with a person who insists (well, more like screams) that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas and that I’m “stupid” (to use one of the nicer insults) for not agreeing with that premise, nor publishing any of the junk science they use to make such claims. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, of that I have no doubts. The only valid argument is climate sensitivity to it. – Anthony

  27. A.D. Everard says:

    Thank you for being there and for showing the Good as well as the Bad and the Ugly. I look forward to further posts.

  28. Matthew W says:

    Pippen Kool says:
    December 14, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    ========================
    WOW !!
    The NSF wanting political/social content as a requirement connected to their funding.
    Shocking.
    Shocking I say.

  29. thisisnotgoodtogo says:

    Mr. Watts deserves high praise for everything he’s done. If only I had half the energy and dedication I’d be happy.
    Thank you Mr. Watts.

    With regard to David Appell, he’s apparently not eve able to tell that he’s been wiped over every floor he tried to stand on, at Professor Curry’s place.

  30. David Ball says:

    Anthony, I defer to your judgement. It would also be good if you could redact all but the first sentence of my post, as my father was not happy that I intervened. My apologies to you as well.
    Cheers.

  31. Eugene WR Gallun says:

    YOU ROCK!!!!

    Eugene WR Gallun

  32. Allan MacRae says:

    Hello Anthony and Merry Christmas!

    I recommend an excellent book that may help one to understand some of the extremists.

    “The Sociopath Next Door” by Martha Stout

    Regards, Allan

    Excerpt: “The Sociopath Next Door”

    I trust that imagining yourself as any of these people feels insane to you, because such people are insane, dangerously so. Insane but real – they even have a label. Many mental health professionals refer to the condition of little or no conscience as “antisocial personality disorder,” a noncorrectable disfigurement of character that is now thought to be present in about 4 percent of the population – that is to say, one in twenty-five people. This condition of missing conscience is called by other names, too, most often “sociopathy,” or the somewhat more familiar term, psychopathy. Guiltlessness was in fact the first personality disorder to be recognized by psychiatry, and terms that have been used at times over the past century include manie sans delire, psychopathic inferiority, moral insanity, and moral imbecility.

    According to the current bible of psychiatric labels, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV of the American Psychiatric Association, the clinical diagnosis of “antisocial personality disorder” should be considered when an individual possesses at least three of the following seven characteristics:
    (1) failure to conform to social norms;
    (2) deceitfulness, manipulativeness;
    (3) impulsivity, failure to plan ahead;
    (4) irritability, aggressiveness;
    (5) reckless disregard for the safety of self or others;
    (6) consistent irresponsibility;
    (7) lack of remorse after having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another person.

    The presence in an individual of any three of these “symptoms,” taken together, is enough to make many psychiatrists suspect the disorder.

    ***************

  33. thisisnotgoodtogo says:

    “CO2 is a greenhouse gas, of that I have no doubts. The only valid argument is climate sensitivity to it. – Anthony”

    Strictly on the yes or no issue.
    Then other arguments come in on residence time, good or bad, for who and what, and so on.
    That’s where it sometimes gets truly absurd.

  34. Dave says:

    “If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools” Kipling

    Thank you Anthony, and keep up the great work.

  35. john robertson says:

    Anthony
    Thank you for a brave action and on going reporting.
    Did you get adequate donations to cover your needs?
    Your comment that your presence may have muted the enthusiasms of the “Team”, intrigues me, so next time send in a spy?

    REPLY: Thanks, yes. Spying isn’t part of my professional toolkit, nor do I want it to be. -Anthony

  36. Richdo says:

    So glad you got to attend Anthony. The summaries are very interesting. Thanks.

  37. Anthony, Thanks for all your efforts on behalf of Science. You have braved ther Lion’s Den and emerged unscathed. I am glad that you encountered a few decent human beings on the way. My estimation of Scott Mandia has risen. Superman is OK.

  38. rogerknights says:

    The other notable exception was Naomi Oreskes. After watching her present her views, I’m convinced that she suffers from sort of personality disorder that causes her to hate (venomously I might add, she labels some people as “scumbags”) people who disagree with her. She’s really got a chip on her shoulder, and that translates directly into her emotionally driven work on climate politics. IMHO, she makes Michael Mann look like an amateur in that regard.

    She’s the Ilsa Krebs personality type.

  39. Caleb says:

    Thanks for the hard work, Anthony. I admire both you and Steve McIntyre’s ability to keep your cool and be polite, for I fear that I’d completely lose my temper in such a setting.

    I also shudder to think what certain people might be capable of, were they not aware they were “being watched.” Ten years ago almost no one was watching. Things have changed, and now “the whole world is watching.”

    I find it interesting that some Climate Scientists seem so concerned about lawsuits, before they have even happened. Do I detect the whiff of a guilty conscience? I personally believe a time will come when they do face their day in court, simply because “adjustments” are too much like “falsifying public documents.”

  40. thisisnotgoodtogo says:

    No Joe Romm? Drat!

    “NY Times: Did Denier ‘Intimidation Tactics’ Move IPCC To ‘Lowball’ Sea Level Rise And Climate Sensitivity?”

    He loved this piece.

  41. Kev-in-Uk says:

    Excellent report Sir!, and I can honestly say that I will accept your views/opinions of your toils at face value – no matter what others may say (viz a viz Appell etc).
    I’m certain that many many folk do not agree with others 100%, even here on these pages (I’m ignoring the warmist trolls) – but that doesn’t not detract from a high level of respect even when tempered with passionate ideas – resulting in considerable ‘advancement’ and cross-pollination of ideas.
    I suspect (and if I am way off line, I apologise profusely) that your initial foray into this meme of climate change/agw was not intended as anything more than personal enlightenment and enquiry? It is both good and sad burden (for you, as in, the stress) that you have been a ‘hook’ upon others have hung their hats – but take heart that history will remember your efforts. The ebooks will no doubt show the usefulness of WUWT in due course, and you should be proud of that achievement.

    I don’t strictly consider that asking Hansen a question required courage – because, as a scientist, I would consider disagreement and questioning as an absolute and fundemental part of the scientific process, and indeed, a given requirement/obligation for a true scientist. BUT, in the context of being amongst many who are under the drug crazed influence of climate alarmism – THAT does indeed take a degree of courage.

    Three cheers for Mr Watts, and jolly well done=, that MAN !

  42. davidmhoffer says:

    REPLY: Thanks, Indeed the argument I’m in with Dr. Tim Ball (see David Ball comment this thread) has to do with a person who insists (well, more like screams) that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas and that I’m “stupid” (to use one of the nicer insults) for not agreeing with that premise, nor publishing any of the junk science they use to make such claims.

    Awww. I was going to torture poor NikFromNYC for the rest of the day. My plan was to repeatedly ask him to produce evidence to back up his assertion, knowing full well it would be a waste of his time. Now that you’ve stipulated to CO2 being a greenhouse gas, Nik most likely knows that his search for evidence to back up his assertion is a waste of time. I must content myself with now waiting to see, given that he alludes to being a journalist suggesting that a crime (and not any crime, but a crime against humanity) may have been committed, if he has the integrity to withdraw the assertion.

  43. a jones says:

    A lions den eh?

    Well if one hero could walk in and out unscathed I am sure another can.

    And did, even if he is not quite so mythical.

    But sad is it not that the pursuit of knowledge which has so advanced human prosperity is turned into a circus of thieves, charlatans and sheer heartlessness: for make no mistake many are impoverished and so die prematurely from these antics of well fed and self regarding fools.

    Perhaps it was ever so.

    .Kindest Regards

  44. rogerknights says:

    @Davidmhoffer:
    NicfromNYC wasn’t saying the anti-Anth-ny words you attributed to him: He was quoting David Appel as having said them. (He should have used the blockquote tag to make that clear.)

  45. Janice Moore says:

    Dear Anthony,

    Well done!

    We are so very proud of you. And so grateful.

    Your devoted fan,

    Janice

  46. Michael Jankowski says:

    Methinks David Appel doth protest too much.

  47. davidmhoffer says:

    rogerknights says:
    December 14, 2013 at 3:38 pm
    @Davidmhoffer:
    NicfromNYC wasn’t saying the anti-Anth-ny words you attributed to him: He was quoting David Appel as having said them. (He should have used the blockquote tag to make that clear.)
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Well if that is indeed the case, then it is I who owes NikFromNYC the apology.

  48. PaulH says:

    Just a cursory observation here, but other than a few notable exceptions it seems that there were almost no people of color at this event. Am I mistaken, or is CAGW primarily the domain of middle-aged white men?

  49. davidmhoffer says:

    Back to the AGU meeting….

    I’m surprised Anth_ny, that you felt so nervous preparing to ask Hanson a question. Can you imagine how Hanson felt? His entire life’s work is slowly crumbling to dust, and there is nothing he can do about it except milk the gravy train just a little bit longer. Every day the evidence mounts that his alarmism was not only not justified, but that he and other alarmists most likely knew it every step of the way. His carefully constructed fiction, which he took a lifetime to construct, is disintegrating in real-time, and the one person, who more than any other on the planet, who has documented it from beginning to end, was about to ask him a question. In public.

    I imagine that his heart was racing and his sphincter convulsed shut. Then to his relief, you through him a soft one. I would no have been so kind.

    REPLY: There was nothing to be gained by confrontation in that venue, except perhaps dis-invitation. He seemed cool as a cucumber BTW – Anthony

  50. yirgach says:

    Cost to taxpayers
    Well Anthony, while you used a $3000 * 15000 gvt employee figure to get a cost of $45M, don’t forget that while traveling they also get paid their regular salary plus benefits. Figure that adds about another $15M – $20M to the tab. Based on 75K annual average research scientist salary plus 1.3 multiplier for benefits at a 3 day average stay… Mebbe the lower class dweebs make less, I dunno.

  51. Lew & Dowski says:

    apell is a [snip - keep it clean – mod.] plain and simple

  52. ATheoK says:

    Anthony: Thank you for attending!

    As far the Davy Apple creep; think of how desperate he is for posting fodder if he went all rant like about a source for dubious body sounds. In his mind, he may not have grunted, but snorted or ___ted instead. More climate alarmist silliness on words.

  53. DocMartyn says:

    “Science findings really shouldn’t be thought of as “making a difference”, that is a social pursuit”

    Unless you work in any area of biomedicine where most of us actually do want to ‘make a difference’.

    REPLY: First comes truth, then comes the social application of it – Anthony

  54. John West says:

    “The only valid argument is climate sensitivity to it”. – Anthony

    I’d agree assuming one includes determining the nature of climate sensitivity (i.e.: value vs. function) with respect to the magnitude of warming, but disagree with respect to the overall “CAGW” narrative and prescription. Obviously, what constitutes catastrophe is open for debate and largely depends upon one’s tolerance for change (ironically progressives seem to be the least tolerate of climatic changes). Also, while I’d have to say the balance of the evidence favors the anthropogenic origin of increased atmospheric CO2 concentration it is hardly beyond all doubt. Beck hasn’t been proven wrong yet. Considering the lagging nature of climate metrics it’s not outside the realm of possibility that GAST could go down, ocean heat content could follow, and then CO2 concentration could follow in time. In other words while I have no doubt the world is round and orbits the sun; I can only say I have little doubt the increase in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic. Also, any specific policy direction in response to the perceived problem is open for debate and there are multiple “valid arguments” against following the naïve path to condemnation of billions to abject poverty and premature death.

  55. leon0112 says:

    Anthony – Thanks for the report. It is great that you went.

    So great, it makes me wonder if we could raise enough money next time to send more WUWT reporters. I admit I got a grin from the idea of Willis being at the conference and writing his report. Or Steve McIntyre. Or Pat Michaels. Or JoNova. Quite entertaining to think about.

  56. Alan Robertson says:

    Our Gracious Host said:

    “… as I told Scott Mandia, I didn’t sit in the front row to intimidate anyone, I sit there so I can lip read.”
    ____________________
    A friend and I are similarly afflicted and have been known to aggravate his wife as we sit up late at night solving the world’s issues all wild- eyed, arm waving and yelling at each other.

  57. markstoval says:

    It is obvious that one man named Anthony Watts has a lot more guts than the overwhelming majority of the so-called climate scientists: at least the alarmist type. I am impressed that Anthony went to the lions den of government minions and carried his bag which made who he was apparent. Jolly good show.

    Notice that the alarmist not only will not engage in debate with knowledgeable skeptics but activity seek to silence all debate. To anyone who understands human nature this tells him that the alarmists know they are wrong. When a man thinks he is right he loves to debate the other side; he loves to lord it over the people that are wrong and demonstrate he is correct. But the alarmist know they don’t have science on their side — hell, if they did they would not have to “adjust” the data sets to make it look like there has been warming. “Dr.” Mann would release all data and methods if he thought he was correct and the world would not see him for the fraud he is, and Al Gore would hire large halls to hold debates in and challenge all comers.

    Logic, science, data, and mother nature are all on our side. There is no way to honestly support the man-made CO2 is going to kill us all story line.

    Thanks for the report Anthony. I have a lot of respect for you and much more after reading this story.

    Regards, Mark

  58. E.M.Smith says:

    Per Naomi Oreskes, I attended a climate talk at Stanford with her on the stage. Small room. Maybe 30 or 40 people? I was about 4 or 5 rows away from the stage with a good close view.

    Interesting thing to note is that my “threat detector” lit up big time when she started talking. There is, IMHO, something amiss in her personality structure. Some deep feeling of violence or hatred that is kept just under the surface, but leaks through? At least, that was my opinion at the time. ( Perhaps she is a nicer person around children and small dogs… )

    At any rate, the event was largely a “preaching to the choir” event with lots of mutual admiration and little but derision for anyone who did not agree. I decided that unless reporting for others, I had little reason to attend any similar events… It was just a propaganda pushing operation.

    Back at the AGU: Thanks for going, and looking forward to a presence by proxy ;-)

  59. David Ball says:

    Despite all, empirical evidence is showing CS to Co2 to be zero at best. Unfortunately, there are those on both sides who are unable to discuss this in a civil manner. Blasting people with ones ideas tends to turn people off.

  60. Pippen Kool says:

    Science is very much about making a difference.

    REPLY: You left off “that’s a social pursuit”. tsk. Anthony

    I don’t see how that makes any difference, whether you wow only science types or everyone else with your work. Sagin’s polio work (Nobel with Salk) was a scientific study that changed life around the world.

    And also, in general, biologists tend to do what they can to warn the public of extinction events (for example), climate scientists do the same for the climate, and microbiologists warn against using antibiotics in chicken food. Scientists in general love the thing they work on—it’s not just a job—and if they perceive it’s destruction they are not shy about telling us ’bout it, in one way or another.

    It is hard to imagine why you would think that a bad thing. Next you will say we shouldn’t listen to Generals about when and how to fight wars because their job is to fight wars and not influence society.

    REPLY: I simply think people in science should be motivated by the search for truth, rather than be motivated by an invitation to “make a difference”. As we’ve seen in some areas of science, some people take that invitation literally and way too far, and truth gets lost in the journey. – Anthony

  61. Theo Goodwin says:

    Anthony Watts, you are a good man and an ingenious blogger and blog manager. You brought your readers some very interesting and valuable information about academic meetings, even if most participants were employed by the government. I read it as a trek through an exotic garden. Quite pleasurable. Thanks much.

  62. Bob Tisdale says:

    dalyplanet says: “Who is David Appell.”

    I’ve had to confront David Appell (as himself and as Sedron L) on a number of occasions here and elsewhere. He offers nothing of value. Like many others, he’s simply a parrot, with no ability to grasp the obvious. And he will resort to every lousy debate tactic you can imagine during a discussion. Thus, his being banned here at WUWT.

  63. leon0112 says:

    Pippen – Science is also about being skeptical of theories. It is also about being transparent in publishing your results, data and code. It is also about appropriately caveating your results. And, in climate science in particular, one should always pick as the null hypothesis that natural variability is the primary driver of climate variability.

  64. Richard D says:

    “Dr. Hansen took my question in stride. I thanked him for his views on nuclear power, and asked him if he would be willing to support Thorium based nuclear power due to its many safety advantages that got pushed aside due to the Uranium based nuclear power being preferred due to the parallel bomb making effort helping the economics of nuclear power development. He said it “must be part of the mix” mainly due to the fact that “there is so much of it” referring to abundance in the Earth’s crust. I see this as a point of agreement that both sides should work on.
    ____________________________________________________________
    You’re a pro in l looking for common ground and agreement instead of throwing a punch and asking a gotcha question. Fission is valuable. And your question likely put on a good face in a positive way in that many of the attendees are fed a steady diet of anti-skeptic tripe.

  65. A. Scott says:

    When I grew up I was aught that a scientist’s responsibility was to the truth, even if it was not the result they believed or hoped for. That the scientific method was discover, challenge, replicate and prove or disprove and that scientists were to welcome, encourage and cooperate in these endeavors.

    Most importantly, I was taught that you had to choose … scientist or advocate/activist – you could not be both.

    Too much of science today is based on promoting social agendas and points of view. And too much of science has become challenge – not of science, but of anyone who disagrees with an individual’s views.

    And no place is this worse than in climate science.

    When alleged scientists lower themselves to the point that an entire segment of the community is focused on promoting acceptance of their beliefs rather than an open-minded approach seeking fact based answers … where members of the group are doing projects intended to promote acceptance of their point of view, rather than scientific research on the subject, then the entire scientific method has become corrupted to the point of irrelevance.

    Thanks Anthony, for continuing to illuminate this hypocrisy …

  66. Alan Robertson says:

    An_Thony,
    Your AGU conference visit must have been very interesting and maddening, at once. Bob Tisdale spoke of a particular person when he said: “…resort to every lousy debate tactic you can imagine during a discussion…” but Bob’s description fits most, if not all of the modern climate change crowd. You are far more patient at dealing with those truth twisters than most of us. You must be a Saint in disguise.

  67. jorgekafkazar says:

    Well done, Anth. No one could say Scott Mandia lacks a sense of humor, one that extends to himself, a fine trait and far too lacking in most AGW boosters.

  68. John F. Hultquist says:

    Anthony, Thanks for going and for the report.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Question: the “fling funds” (aka donate) link speaks of the Surface Station project and the upcoming trip. Say I want you to have a bit of free cash to spend as you see fit; is that the place to make a gift? Can you change the words there? The season of giving is upon us and I suspect others might be of similar mind.

    ———————
    Re: David Appell – One of several reasons I did not renew my SciAm subscription.

  69. dmacleo says:

    today while working outside replacing a frozen (literally and figuratively) brake caliper I wished for some GW.
    it touched 11f here where I am in maine, at 730am was still -10 f.
    with windchill all day running around 5 and colder it sucked.
    and up to 18″ of snow due tomorrow, although I suspect it will be closer to 11″.

    I could not have gone and been as polite as you were, well done sir, well done.

  70. Theo Goodwin says:

    Bob Tisdale says:
    December 14, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Saint Judith (Curry) continues to allow him to post, as she does a few others like him, but no one takes him seriously.

  71. Theo Goodwin says:

    dmacleo says:
    December 14, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Brake work is the worst outside in the cold. Used to do it on log trucks. In Virginia today, we got above freezing but not for long. We are having January weather, maybe February weather. I fear a repeat of 77-78. Oh, the pain.

  72. Theo Goodwin says:

    Alan Robertson says:
    December 14, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Very well said. I have been calling Judith Curry “Saint Judith” for some time. I have been thinking “Saint Anthony.” Thanks for the nudge. Anthony Watts is Saint Anthony.

  73. Theo Goodwin says:

    DocMartyn says:
    December 14, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Your first duty as a physician is to relieve your patient’s suffering. Your first duty as a research scientist might be to address the issues that are most likely to relieve patient suffering. But as a scientist, your first duty is to find the truth about nature and broadcast it. The two fields, medicine and hard science, have very different goals.

    Sorry to sound as if I am lecturing. I don’t mean it that way at all. I was just being brief. I have read a lot of your posts and I always enjoy them.

  74. OssQss says:

    Wow Anthony! That is a great read and insight provided!

    I salute you Sir!

    You are a warrior who carries all of us with you to the front lines.

    Thank you for your doing Watt you do

    Now for the rest of you armchair participants,,,,,,,,,,,,what are you doing to help further the discussions in pursuit of science truly supporting policy?

    Not the other way around.

    Look what one individual effort can provide. This is what freedom is all about folks

  75. Bill Marsh says:

    I always enjoy the idea that ‘being mistaken’ is the same thing as ‘lying’. They aren’t. Used as Mr Appell uses it, if I take a math test and supply the wrong answer to a question like 2+2 = 5, then I am LYING about the answer because it is wrong and I should have known it was wrong.

  76. G. Karst says:

    Can we cut out the “Saint” shite. We are not a bunch of groupies, so let’s not act like it and confirm warmists slurs. Thx GK

  77. Bernie Hutchins says:

    Isn’t it time to just ignore David Appell, much as many of us cancelled Sci. Amer. a decade or more ago?

    I had never heard of him until I found a link regarding Tingley/Huybers (about 2009?) which said the hockey stick had been reaffirmed. It was I believe a SciAmer blog item (which should have been enough warning!) and I ended up at Quark Soup asking David why (inter alia) he had illustrated the item with the original Mann H-S instead of the “new/improved” Tingley/Huybers, which I really wanted to see. (I expected him to say it was perhaps an issue of copyright or similar.) Instead I went back and fourth with him; he claiming the Mann H-S was perfectly good, etc., etc.; he employing his boorish, bumptious, bloviating SOP. Wrong – and stubborn.

    At Quark Soup, skeptics can get invited politely in, are then roundly insulted, and presumably, Appell wonders why none other than a few of his yes-men hang around. I stay away – - – except for that link I got here a few days ago! No fair. You need warning labels – Appell Alerts!

  78. “REPLY: I simply think people in science should be motivated by the search for truth, rather than be motivated by an invitation to “make a difference”. As we’ve seen in some areas of science, some people take that invitation literally and way too far, and truth gets lost in the journey. – Anthony”

    Many are merely seeking truth. Others have different motivations, such as fame and wealth. We can’t always get what we want. I suspect a majority of scientists want to make some sort of difference through uncovering a new truth. They are human after all, with the fallibilities and potential that brings. Most scientists have to earn a living and a great many have to be concerned about whether their contribution is going to help the bottom line of whoever pays their salary – government or industry. Perhaps you learned on your outing that science works by replication or falsification. That’s why there was repitition – they keep finding those same old pesky results.

    So, yes, it would be lovely if all scientists ever did was try to uncover the truth. But wishing it isn’t so will not change it.

  79. DirkH says:

    NikFromNYC says:
    December 14, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Here’s Dave last year:

    “They are too many, and too stupid. So what to do about them?[...]”

    That’s a keeper, Nik! Thanks! Even by Appell’s standard; outshines! LMAO!

  80. mike g says:

    A good question for Hansen. Perhaps a better one, along the same lines, would have been to ask his opinion on why nuclear is not counted towards renewables mandates.

  81. Mike Bromley the Kurd says:

    I would love to have been a fly on your shoulder during this. I’m willing to bet that the ‘clique’ was subdued into keeping its usual twitter-flaming in check.

  82. negrum says:

    Pippen Kool says:
    December 14, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    ” Next you will say we shouldn’t listen to Generals about when and how to fight wars because their job is to fight wars and not influence society. ”
    ———
    You seem to imply that the opinion of generals as to whether a war should be started and how it should be prosecuted is more important than that of the whole society.

    The decision to start a war is best not left to generals, but decided by society via parliment. They military should provide parliment with details about clear and present danger, but cannot provide society with ethical reasons as to why a war should be prosecuted – that is the function of the politicians. Any general that tries to do so should be viewed with great suspicion by an alert society.

    How the war is fought (strategy and tactics) is usually left up to the generals. The clash between civilian and the military only occurs if society feels that ethical boundries have been overstepped in the pursuit of war, or that the war is pointless.

    This is an example of how personal feelings and motives have to be separated from professional behaviour. I think scientists should be held to the same standard. In science the measure of your work should be not whether your ethical standards are correct, but whether your theories have been disproven or not.

    Short version: For the best results, scientists should be interested in what is possible, society as a whole should be interested in what is ethical and desirable.

  83. Short version: For the best results, scientists should be interested in what is possible, society as a whole should be interested in what is ethical and desirable.

    Wow. Do you understand the implications of what you wrote? There are some very possible things that scientists won’t consider for ethical reasons. And are scientists not part of society as a whole?

  84. negrum says:

    Margaret Hardman says:
    December 14, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    “Many are merely seeking truth.”
    ——–
    Your use of the word ‘merely’ indicates your true mindset. Even more amusing is your lofty tone towards Mr Watts, as if you could teach him a thing or two.

    “So, yes, it would be lovely if all scientists ever did was try to uncover the truth. But wishing it isn’t so will not change it.”
    ——-
    That is exactly the attitude which allows the dishonesty to flourish. I have heard that line of reasoning from everyone who prefers that people not to be held to the standards that those people committed to in the first place. The fact that you feel helpless in the face of dishonesty should not lead you to assume that anybody else on this blog feels the same way.

  85. negrum says:

    Margaret Hardman says:
    December 14, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    “Wow. Do you understand the implications of what you wrote? There are some very possible things that scientists won’t consider for ethical reasons. And are scientists not part of society as a whole?”
    ——–

    Rhetorical questions only impress the ignorant.

    Scientists are a subset of society. Their are paid to expand knowledge, not to function as politicians.

    Some scientists have performed unethical work due to lack of oversight by society. This is why no one cares about whether scientists want to ” make a difference ” or relies on their personal ethics being correct.Whoever pays their bills requires from them first of all that they perform their work without breaking any laws. Also required from scientists is the truth first and foremost. The client (society) does not need “massaged” numbers ” in a good cause”.

    Amateur scientists can research whatever they like, as long as they adhere to society’s laws.

    The vaguer and less testable a field, the more chance there is for scientists lacking the ethic of honesty to accept money while not pursuing truth. The field of climatology seems to be a goldmine for this type.

  86. Negrum, I’d love to know how the word merely indicates my mindset. I think scientists are human, perhaps you think they are all Sheldon from Big Bang Theory. Even those that are doing pure research often have an eye on something bigger – fame, wealth, prizes.

    As for teaching Anthony a thing or two, probably. The fact he seems surprised that replication happens in science is amusing to me and a little diagnostic to those that understand science from the inside. I hope he learned something from his trip other than that people he is rude to don’t want to know him.

  87. Lew Skannen says:

    Great job, once again.
    Sent you a drop of ‘Big OIl’ to keep you going.

  88. rogerknights says:

    leon0112 says:
    December 14, 2013 at 4:30 pm
    Anthony – Thanks for the report. It is great that you went.

    So great, it makes me wonder if we could raise enough money next time to send more WUWT reporters. I admit I got a grin from the idea of Willis being at the conference and writing his report. Or Steve McIntyre.

    McIntyre has attended previous AGU gabfests and reported on them (in threads of his own or just comments, I don’t remember which), including a photo of Gleick.

  89. Negrum, further. Your comment about dishonesty. Neither you nor I am helpless. We can do the science too and demonstrate where it is wrong. All these years of contrarian attempts have yielded what precisely? Has AGW actually been falsified? No. Can the contrarian side cohere? Seems not.

  90. Isn’t any gas a “greenhouse” gas? Don’t all gases retain heat? Any experiments done with all the non-compound gases for comparison to each other? I take issue with CO2 being labeled as such if most compound and non-compound gases retain heat even if most retain less than CO2. To state it as such gives the impression that it’s unique as such, when its uniqueness is a result of it being a by-product of combustion.

  91. Stacey says:

    The approximate cost to the tax payer of 45 million dollars excludes salary costs to their employers which is probably about the same amount again?

  92. rogerknights says:

    AW wrote:
    There was clear evidence throughout the fall meeting of other types of political and polarizing influence. . . . There were advertisements that I considered a “call to action”, such as this poster:

    Its text read: “Your science can make a difference. Are you up for it?”

    Science findings really shouldn’t be thought of as “making a difference”, that is a social pursuit. According to the definition that pops up on Google when you query “what is science?” it is “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.”.

    None of the definitions [of science] I looked at had “making a difference” as part of the structure. In my opinion, such advertisements can become the seeds of “noble cause corruption”,

    This was followed by:

    Margaret Hardman says:
    December 14, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    “REPLY: I simply think people in science should be motivated by the search for truth, rather than be motivated by an invitation to “make a difference”. As we’ve seen in some areas of science, some people take that invitation literally and way too far, and truth gets lost in the journey. – Anthony”

    ……………
    So, yes, it would be lovely if all scientists ever did was try to uncover the truth. But wishing it isn’t so will not change it.

    But that’s a diversion from AW’s main point, which was that the AGU shouldn’t publicize activist recruitment sessions.

  93. Gareth Phillips says:

    Did science make a difference with the discovery of Penicillin, Insulin or any other 1001 medical break throughs we take for granted? I’d say it certainly did, and those are not social but health issues.

  94. Gareth Phillips says:

    Interesting to hear about to challenges resulting from your deafness. I am also very deaf, though some pretty slick hearing aids that do make things a bit better. i’m surprised in this day and age how many conference I attend that do not cater for deaf people like ourselves. Maybe some attention to detail instead of grandstanding would help these meeting to be more inclusive.

  95. HenryP says:

    I am stunned to find that there were so few of us (skeptics) at the meeting. Like you say, cost may have had something to do with it. I salute you for going out alone in the wilderness there for us. Under the circumstances, to promote nuclear energy from thorium was a good compromise for choice to try and and get a foothold in the debate. However, personally I believe that gas does not suck. It produces almost completely no poisonous compounds when burned and there is ample evidence that I have been collecting showing that the increase in CO2 has been the main driver of the increase in the greening of earth over the past 50 years. The further greening of earth is in the interest of anyone who likes trees, lawns and more crops. In turn, I found that the increasing greenery of earth enabled by the increase in CO2 does cause some entrapment of warmth, although clearly not enough to stop the global cooling that is coming, as all major data sets are showing, here:
    Global cooling is here

    e.g. minimum temperatures in Las Vegas over the past 40 years have been rising somewhat due to the greening, whilst in Tandil, Argentina, minimum temps have been falling, due to the cutting of trees.

    I hope you realize that both CO2 and NO also are powerful coolants TOA, who together with the ozone and peroxides and other nitrous oxides , reduce the amount of solar radiation coming in.
    I put it to you that there is no research showing that the net effect of more CO2 is warming rather than cooling.
    Your point that CO2 is a ‘GHG” therefore has to be further clarified by you. Do you believe that an increase in CO2 in itself causes a warming effect rather than a cooling effect?
    proof?

    REPLY: No, Sorry, I’m not going to get into a “slayers” debate on this thread – Anthony

  96. Lewis P Buckingham says:

    With this scouting patrol completed perhaps time to apply for some guest lecturers and a debate on the issues.
    Judging by this report of Anthony 20,000 leaders, influence makers,have just been given information without the benefit of debate.

  97. Anthony,

    Thank you for asking Hansen about thorium. I was pleased with his openness towards the possibility of utilizing thorium. Thorium solves a number problems. First, it is a byproduct of rare earth mining and therefore virtually free. Thorium can power the earth literally forever. Second, it will replace a large portion of fossil fuels thus lowering all kinds of emissions not just CO2. Third, whether you believe the CO2/global warming connection or not thorium replaces coal, wind turbines, solar arrays and other inefficient energy/power sources.

    If you want to know more about thorium watch Thorium Remix 2011 available on Youtube or wait for the DVD “The Good Reactor” coming next year thanks to http://www.kickstarter.com

  98. Paul Benedict says:

    The cost of government employees attending meetings like this may not be as high as you think. I retired this past year, but during my federal employment I went to conferences like this one about every other year on average. Half the time, maybe more, I paid my own way. I admittedly was allowed to attend on government time even when I did travel at my own expense. Whether the government paid travel costs depended on my agency’s budget that year and whether I was speaking or not. I know many federal employees pay their own way to meetings, especially in recent years. A conference like this is often your only way to meet face-to-face with colleagues and friends around the country. The government, at least in my former agency, has really cracked down on travel costs, especially conferences.

  99. TheOldCrusader says:

    “Dana Nutticelli”?

    I admit that’s how I usually (mentally) spell his name. Was your rendition intentional or freudian Mr. Watts?

    REPLY: I dunno, I’m pretty exhausted, thanks for pointing it out – Anthony

  100. Henry Bowman says:

    I’ll just note that the American Geophysical Union has always been dominated by government and university types, the latter typically being government-funded. That’s one reason why the folks at AGU headquarters (on K Street in DC, of course) issued a call within the past several months urging members to urging their political representatives to overturn the Congressional “sequester” of funding. AGU has become a full-fledged lobbying group for government money, not a scientific organization.

    If you want to attend a geophysical meeting that mostly consists of privately-employed scientists and engineers, you’d need to go to a meeting of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG). SEG is based in Tulsa, OK, and really doesn’t concern itself with Climate Change. Its meetings are pretty large (~10,000 attendees), about one-half the size of an AGU Meeting.

    BTW, I would never call Naomi Oreskes a scientist. She’s a worker in “social science”, an oxymoron if there ever was one.

  101. Mickey Reno says:

    Great report, Anthony. You’re a class act.

    A brutally honest, fair version of David Appell (ie. a totally fictitious character, to be sure) might have said “I heard that grunt, and I sympathized. After all the things I’ve said to and about Anthony and WUWT, I can understand why Anthony might think I had done it. But in this case, it was not I who issued the grunt, and I did not see who it was. It’s of no real importance in any case, just a trivial nit in an otherwise important public policy debate.”

    ;-)

  102. I wouldn’t call it a “lion’s den.”
    More like a pit seething with leeches.

  103. Peter Sultan says:

    “as I wandered through the poster sessions each day, I saw a lot of science that seemed to be replicated. I’d see 3 or four posters covering the same topic from different universities or agencies, sometimes on the same day in the same aisle.”

    In my previous life I did research in ionospheric physics and attended AGU meetings many times. I can attest to this duplication, probably not unique to the field of geophysics. Looking through the program listings for this year’s AGU meeting I can see many paper and poster titles that are essentially identical to ones that I saw back in the 1990′s. Not always a sign of intentional corruption, fraud, sleaziness, etc. – sometimes science questions just take a long time to be worked out and as new data comes in, we get better answers. (this of course assumes that the workers are doing actual science, and don’t have an external agenda…). And many times grad students (often the poster presenters) re-invent the wheel many times – speaking from personal experience.

  104. catweazle666 says:

    Delicate, sensitive little flowers, these climate McScientists.

    If their McScience is as settled as they like to make out, one wonders why they are so defensive.

    It’s a puzzle.

  105. beng says:

    ***
    I got a first hand insight into many of the climate personalities we cover here at WUWT. To name a few, I encountered, Michael Mann, John Cook, Dana Nutticelli, David Appell, Gavin Schmidt, James Hansen, Naomi Oreskes, Stephan Lewandowsky, Richard Somerville, Peter Gleick, Phil Jones, Ben Santer, Andrew Dessler, Kevin Trenberth, Joshua Halpern (who plays Eli Rabbet on the interweb) Scott Mandia, Richard Alley, Zeke Hausfather, and California Governor Jerry Brown.
    ***

    After that, I assume you had to take a scalding-hot shower. And then fast for several days.

  106. John M. Chenosky, PE says:

    How can anyone in the Climate Community make any claims about temperature when they don’t understand the first thing about significant digits.

  107. Anthony Watts says:

    Margaret Hardman: “There are some very possible things that scientists won’t consider for ethical reasons. And are scientists not part of society as a whole?”

    Sorry you’ve lost your own argument. Two of Einstein’s best friends, chemist Fritz Haber and Willhelm Steinkopf http://www.fhi-berlin.mpg.de/history/Friedrich_HaberArticle.pdf‎ developed the chemical weapon known as Mustard Gas while they were all at Scientific Society (Kaiser Wilhelm Society) of Germany. Einstein thought it was unthethical, but there was nothing he could do. Einstein remarked later that he thought his friends had gone mad.

    In this case, scientists and scientific society not only considered something that was unethical, cruel, and deadly, they willfully aided in developing it. – Anthony

  108. knr says:

    Was the fraudster and AGU ‘hero’ there or will we find out he was there, and he as the proof , and yet no one saw them , well if you can have ‘hidden heat ‘ , anything is possible.
    As the the poor cartoonists and his lapdog , its events such as these their fighting to keep going to . For far worse than any ‘warming world ‘ is for them one were they go back to being the total nobodies they actual are.

  109. kramer says:

    But the biggest problem for me wasn’t that I was in the minority, but that my hearing assistance needs ( have about an 80% loss, partially corrected with hearing aids) weren’t attended to by AGU, even though I thought they had been taken care of when I signed up.

    Sue them under the ADA… :)

    REPLY: There’s no reason to do that. The issue was resolved, they simply didn’t have much experience with it. Next year I’m betting they’ll make sure it won’t be forgotten – Anthony

  110. steve a says:

    Hi Anthony – My congratulations on a fine and interesting summary, and I look forward to the subsequent posts. Keep up the good work we are appreciative of your efforts. Oh, and happy holidays too.

  111. TAG says:

    “as I wandered through the poster sessions each day, I saw a lot of science that seemed to be replicated. I’d see 3 or four posters covering the same topic from different universities or agencies, sometimes on the same day in the same aisle.”

    This is the same as in the private sector and is a good thing. here are any number of start ups all chasing the same market and only a few or possibly none will survive. It is only in large established industries that competition has been stifled and a single large company dominates. Even then these dinosaurs can be displaced as disruptive technology is developed. Duplication is the mark of competition. it is a good thing.

  112. Big Don says:

    Do you suppose Al Gore’s presence on Apple’s BOD had anything to do with the prejudice towards iproducts?

  113. rogerknights says:

    Gareth Phillips says:
    December 15, 2013 at 2:54 am

    Interesting to hear about to challenges resulting from your deafness. I am also very deaf, though some pretty slick hearing aids that do make things a bit better. i’m surprised in this day and age how many conference I attend that do not cater for deaf people like ourselves.

    But at least the organizers of Mandela’s funeral were on the ball!

  114. HenryP says:

    [snip - multiple policy violations -mod]

  115. Pamela Gray says:

    There are several examples of defrocked scientists (some I have had the pleasure of listening to) who have eventually fallen by the wayside. They truly believe in their conclusions and present very cogent arguments to that affect. Nonetheless, many have had the unfortunate experience of having their published articles removed and even had their ability to continue scientific investigation banned. The anthropogenic climate science community is ripe for such events to happen in our lifetime. But their belief is so entrenched they fail to notice the glass house they publicly perform in. It’s like knowing it is going to happen then watching a 60 car pile up on a foggy stretch of freeway in painfully slow motion. Not enjoyable.

  116. Very interesting report! I wonder if having WUWT on your bag could be considered confrontational and counter productive? Let’s send Willis, too, next year.

    15,000 public funded attendees x ~$75,000 per year = $1,125,000,000. Wow! Now add co-workers, supervisors, etc. and multiply that by a factor of ten, maybe more. Talking real money.

    As for scientists being concerned with truth, maybe in a perfect world. Isn’t every graduating class encouraged to go forth and make the world a better place? Didn’t we all believe it possible at the time? For example, journalist don’t go into journalism determined to report the facts accurately. No, their goal is to “make a difference”. Same for environmentalist seeking positions in government, etc., etc. Idealistic and in contrast to everyone pursuing his self-interest and it all working out for the best.

  117. Matthew W says:

    TAG says:
    December 15, 2013 at 8:23 am

    . Duplication is the mark of competition. it is a good thing.
    =====================================================
    Big differnce between having 20 differnt people funding 20 similar projets and having 1 person (THE TAXPAYER) funding 20 bureaucrats with similar projects

  118. Jaakko Kateenkorva says:

    Thank you Anthony. By seeking for truth and staying away from politics, you’re making the difference. That’s something money cannot buy.

  119. Joe says:

    I was at the ‘ Legal Attack’ session and was underwhelmed by these people. Their problem is not that they are far too prosperous and satisfied with themselves but that they are leftists. Now if Mark Steyn had been on the panel, it would have been worth attending. Climate change is not rocket science. Bill Whittle, off the top of his head, can get the gist of it (www.billwhittle.com) and he doesn’t even have a grant :-) . [He does have the same number of science degrees as Oreske and the English major that used to run around AGU HQ.]

  120. albertkallal says:

    Can you not bring a “guest” assistant to these events? I would have thought if you could have brought along Lord Monckton then we would have some really amusing stories.

    I sure while you Anthony are a gentleman, Lord Monckton could have found some buttons to press (in the literal sense by the way).

    While no one is allowed to bring to this event cans full of carbon based fuel (despite all the attendees using massive amounts of fuel to fly to this event), I sure Lord Monckton would have proved as much delight as an display on the joys of using jet fuel to attend big conferences and how carbon based fuel is used to cook all the great food available at these conferences.

  121. peter gee says:

    surely the idea of only one source of anything, science, knowledge, cars, fried chicken is a socialist / communist idea

  122. James McClellan says:

    A very good read, thank-you Mr Watts! Overall, did you feel this was a proper Scientific Meeting? I’m interested in the answer either way!

  123. Rick says:

    “He seemed cool as a cucumber BTW ” is how Anthony characterizes Dr.Hansen.
    That is how I would characterize the group sitting at the table where Naomi Oreske is at the mike on the imediate left and why not? They are all in their element, rubbing shoulders with peers who share the same point of view, there are no cease and desist orders regarding the path they have chosen, the funds remain in place, and the conferences and conflabs continue apace. Life is good.

  124. kim says:

    Why am I reminded of Colony Collapse Disorder?
    ============

  125. Lewis P Buckingham says:

    http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/09/28/3592935.htm
    kim says:
    December 15, 2013 at 5:26 pm
    Colony Collapse Disorder is a bit of a misnomer as when the Colony collapses it is no longer disordered but ceases to exist.
    Whatever it is bees die, and if you are a spokesperson for the insecticide industry it simply cannot be an insecticide that pushes them over the cliff.
    The problem is probably multifactorial, cf the above report,so denying that means you are blinded to new ideas, or simply defend the old.
    That may be what you, Kim, are reminded of.
    However to gain traction new ideas, or old ones reestablished,need debate and guest speakers.
    That is where we are falling down when trying to influence such a high powered ,organised,forum.

  126. Steven Mosher says:

    As for the duplication.

    Here is a clue.
    Every year they publish topics.
    You then propose your talk.
    You are given an oral session or
    Poster session.

    That said in our session I saw no duplication whatsoever.
    There were hundreds of sessions.

  127. u.k.(us) says:

    Steven Mosher says:

    December 15, 2013 at 6:08 pm
    ============
    What was your session ?
    Gonna give us a clue, or what.

  128. John Whitman says:

    I attended the AGU meeting all 5 days. I saw >40 talks / townhall mtgs / panel discussions. I saw all the well known IPCC centric alarming AGW supporters in attendance at the AGW meeting.

    Since I have family living within walking distance of the conference center at which AGU holds its yearly meeting and since I am mostly a SF Bay Area resident, the conference cost was very reasonable. It is my intention to continue to go in the future.

    For anyone who has followed the climate science blogs for the past ~6 years, there were no surprises in the many statements made at the AGU meeting by the supporters of exaggerating the climate who are centered around the IPCC assessment process.

    To me it was important to personally see and, were socially appropriate, to politely talk individually with the main protagonists of alarming activism. It puts body language and demeanor with words. It humanizes the dialog.

    I have many things to relate about my experience. I will do so over an extended time period via comments on future threads where the context is appropriate.

    One instance I will mention now is my ~5 minute chat with Thomas Stocker over free beer in the AGU meeting lobby. We discussed the idea of doing the next AR at 10 year intervals or longer instead of at 5 year intervals.

    During our chat, I explicitly expressed civilly my fundamental doubt of the IPCC’s ability to assess openly and objectively. It was a pleasant exchange.

    NOTE: on my name badge where affiliation goes I had registered as ‘UNAFFILIATED’. That got quite a few curious remarks and looks. Unexpected that I was just a categorically un-collectivized individual. : )

    John

  129. Max Hugoson says:

    Anthony: Let’s make sure people don’t call you a saint. Too many of them MARTYRED to get that status.

    REPLY: I prefer not to have any labels beyond “Mr.” – Anthony

  130. old engineer says:

    Anthony-

    I realize this post is getting far down the list, but something occured to me when I went to bed last night after reading your post.

    First, thank you for attending the conference and reporting on it. You certainly earned you press pass.

    Second, I was thinking about your impression that most of attendees were there on government money, and then about your question to Dr. Hansen, when it dawned on me- Hansen is retired, it is unlikely that NASA paid his expenses. But, if not NASA, who? Sure, he could have paid his own expenses. But did he?

    As someone mentioned, he retired from NASA and became a professional Alarmist (my word). So I am wondering did the Sierra Club, or WWF, or some other NGO pay his expenses?

    I’m not sure how that could be found out. Sometimes the list of attendees also includes an affiliation, which is generally the organization that is paying the attendee’s expenses, but other than that I can’t see how that could be determined. Maybe someone should ask him.

    Okay, I will. Dr. Hansen, if you’re out there, who paid your expenses for the AGU Fall Meeting?

  131. rogerknights says:

    Margaret Hardman says:
    December 15, 2013 at 2:05 am

    Negrum, further. Your comment about dishonesty. Neither you nor I am helpless. We can do the science too and demonstrate where it is wrong. All these years of contrarian attempts have yielded what precisely? Has AGW actually been falsified? No. Can the contrarian side cohere? Seems not.

    See http://www.NIPCCreport.org

  132. @Anthony RE Thorium reactors
    @alex parkhurst at 4:07 am

    I’m all for expeditied research into Thorium Reactors.
    But I would like to make some parallels between Thorium and the Space Shuttle.

    The Space Shuttle was an amazing engineering feat. On paper it made sense to make an expensive orbiter and booster if most of it could be reused. The flaw in the Shuttle design was that it was operating so close to safe tollerances, with thousands of critical part, that the economic failure lay in the turnaround effort and time.

    Thorium seems like it has sound physics and mechanics of safety on the nuclear side. I think the economic risk likes in the chemical reprocessing side of core. Each core reprocessing plant will have to be on site, pipe connected to the core. It will be metalurgical smelting on a highly radioactive ore in a closed environment to eliminate release of radioactivity and reduce the potetial for fire and oxidation.

    Each reactor will need connections to redundant core reprocessing plants, for it is the reprocessing plant that will be subject to failure of components. That means if reprocessing plant can take one core, then in a replicated system, each core has N-1 excess capacity. i see a five-spot array or seven-spot array of Cores and reprocessing plants. Arrange the plants at the corners of a five-spot with the core at the center. Should a plant go down, the core can reroute the salts to be processed to neighboring plants with slack capacity. Repeat the five spot and approach one core for each plant with 50% designed slack capacity, or repeat a seven-spot with 2 plants per core with 40-50% slack design capacity.

    This then leads to the liklihood of large, multicore thorium power centers, needing to be near a place to dispose of waste heat. It might look like Baytown, Tx, a network of refineries next to a large body of water.

  133. Mac the Knife says:

    Anthony,

    I have a small poster that shows WWII GIs exiting an LST landing craft into the surf along the beaches of Normandy. The caption says “Courage: Bravery doesn’t mean you aren’t scared. It means you go anyway. Thank You Veterans!”

    What does that have to do with WUWT? After reading of your trembling knees, I looked at it today and realized by analogy You are a Veteran of the protracted AGW war. You have the courage to seek and speak the truth, though you may be surrounded by potentially hostile forces. You lead by honest example and, in doing so, you encourage others to join the pursuit of honest science without political or personal agenda. Though you may have significant hearing impairment, you are not deaf to reasoned argument and you listenwith greater keenness and perception than most.

    Thank You, Sir!
    For your Leadership,
    For your Courage, and
    For your Fortitude in the face of adversity.
    MtK

  134. Mario Lento says:

    Given that our existing nuclear plants can only use about 15% of the potential energy of the rods before they are no longer efficient enough to stay in the reactor, I’d like to see us reprocess the fuel rods. They do this in France. Today, we have so much fuel sitting in pools. The pools are have been keeping the spent rods cool, but a few decades ago, the pools’ capacity to store them started to become exceeded. Now, to make room in the pools for a “full core offload” an average plant must load 2 to 3 stainless steel canisters per year of the “spent” fuel rods and put these canister in specialized concrete coffins for medium term dry storage. Their stainless steel cans cost over $500,000 each. So nuclear plants need to pay dearly to dispose product that has quite a bit of useful energy potential. Why do we do this? Because we are not allowed to reprocess. One of the items that U235 breaks down into is plutonium… and that could be used to make bombs in a reprocessing plant. So as a gesture we screw ourselves and make much more waste than is needed.I know I know – Thorium is better.

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