Climate debate rages in The Australian

I’m pleased to offer some essays and letters with links that have recently appeared in The Australian newspaper. One of them is an essay from my friend and fellow skeptic, Jo Nova, in Perth, who does a superb job with her rebuttal to an attempt to shut down debate on climate change.

Here’s a short timeline of events:

It seems to have started with this editorial piece: Climate debate no place for hotheads, by Graham Lloyd, Environment editor, The Australian, December 04, 2010

Then there were responses, a lot of them, in this summary of letters: Long may The Oz promote open debat, The Australia, December 07, 2010. plus there has been  a flurry of related coverage:

Then there was this essay, by David McKnight, which brought out the ridiculous old “tobacco and big oil” arguments to use in smearing skeptics. Sceptical writers skipped inconvenient truths.

Followed by Jo Nova’s rebuttal to that essay: Newspapers should lead the country

Here’s McKnight’s essay:

Sceptical writers skipped inconvenient truths

A response to The Weekend Australian’s summary of its editorial position on climate change

THE Australian is undoubtedly the most serious newspaper in Australia and its record on climate change matters because of this. More importantly, its stance matters because of the civilisational challenge that climate change presents to Australia and the world.

This was recognised by the chief executive officer of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, who warned in 2007 that climate change posed “clear catastrophic threats”. Murdoch also pledged that News Corporation would “weave this issue into our content” and “tell the story in a new way”.

I happen to agree with Murdoch’s description of the seriousness of the threat.

But there is a puzzle. In recent years The Australian campaigned in favour of objective facts in the teaching of Australian history against “political” interpretations.

By contrast, its attitude to the science of climate change has zig-zagged from a grudging acceptance of the facts to simple denial and back again.

In all modes, its stance is invariably dominated by old ideological obsessions that are tangential to this profound issue.

Last weekend in Focus, The Australian’s new environment editor, Graham Lloyd, defended his newspaper’s stance on climate change. It is healthy for a newspaper to publicly debate its stance on such an issue but Lloyd’s article was highly selective and, I believe, misleading.

Lloyd argues that there has been a “longstanding misrepresentation of this newspaper’s editorial position on climate science and its longstanding support for a global response to limit greenhouse gas emissions”.

Really? How longstanding? Editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell told Crikey last week that “for several years the paper has accepted man-made climate change as fact”. “Several years” is hardly longstanding. But Mitchell’s statement is also disingenuous because it omits vital facts.

As Lloyd showed, it is possible to find editorials in 1997 in The Australian under then editor-in-chief David Armstrong that accepted the science on climate change. But after that period, The Australian took a different direction. This is paradoxical. As the scientific evidence for climate change strengthened, the newspaper’s attitude went in the opposite direction.

At the beginning of 2006 an editorial agreed that the world was warming but claimed “no one knows . . . why it is happening” (January 14, 2006).

At the same time the newspaper described itself as “healthily sceptical about the possible causes of and solutions to global warming” (November 4, 2006). No wonder Mitchell confined himself to the phrase “several years”.

A couple of months after this, an editorial made the extraordinary suggestion that “the real debate on climate change is only now getting started”.

The editorial’s contribution to this debate was to disparage the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report and proffer the long discarded sceptical claim that there was “a link between cyclical sunspot activity and the climate here on earth”.

Shortly after its “sunspot” editorial, The Australian published a feature article (“Rebels of the Sun”, March 17, 2007) recycling this discredited theory and lamenting that the debate “has become increasingly stifling and intolerant to dissenting voices”, citing fossil industry-funded sceptics, and attacking Al Gore, whose campaign on climate change was documented in An Inconvenient Truth.

For many years The Australian has been unable to see climate issues except through a distorted ideological lens. For example, an editorial on January 14, 2006, argued that the environment movement was about “more theology than meteorology” and “[S]upport for Kyoto cloaks the green movement’s real desire: to see capitalism stop succeeding”.

Later, an editorial accused “deep green Luddites” of believing that “the only way to avert the coming apocalypse is to close down all the power plants, take all cars off the road and return to a pre-industrial Arcadia” (June 8, 2007). Lloyd’s article last Saturday ignored these editorials.

He failed to mention that just before the 2007 federal election an editorial characterised an environmental approach in politics as wanting to “transform the nation into a wind-powered, mung bean-eating Arcadia” (October 27, 2007). This kind of unrestrained invective suggested the newspaper itself could be accused of hysteria and alarmism, a charge it regularly threw at those who disagreed with it.

Such rhetoric meant that genuine debate on climate in the pages of The Australian was simply not possible.

The newspaper continually framed the debate as one between, on the one hand, sensible sceptics and, on the other, “deep green Luddites”. By implication, the political and business leaders of Europe, plus Gore and Tony Blair, were in the latter category.

A newspaper’s columnists have access to valuable journalistic real estate under the sponsorship of the editor. Instead, The Australian’s columnists have largely repeated the paper’s dominant editorial line.

The former economics editor, Alan Wood, over many years characterised concern about climate change as “green hysteria”. Another occasional columnist, Alan Oxley, chaired the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation study centre that sponsored a conference of fossil fuel companies and climate deniers in Canberra in April 2005.

At the conference, he said, “Leading scientists also explained how the science on which Kyoto is based was unravelling and argued that the cataclysmic threat of global warming is oversold.”

Shortly afterward Oxley argued, “There is no reasonable certainty that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide from human activity cause significant global warming.” (August 2, 2005).

When the Howard government began to acknowledge that carbon emissions were linked to dangerous climate change, another regular columnist, Christopher Pearson, said he felt “bitter disappointment” about curbs on “what will turn out to be, in all probability, a perfectly harmless gas” (November 18, 2006).

Unsurprisingly, this column, as with many others from The Australian, was recycled on denialist websites around the world.

Lloyd reported that The Australian has defended the right of climate sceptics “to have a voice”. This is curious. Does it defend the right of tobacco sceptics to have a voice? Of course not, for the simple reason that all intelligent people recognised long ago that such sceptics were fronts for the tobacco industry and that the medical science of smoking was settled.

On climate issues The Australian still gives voice to a global PR campaign largely originated by the oil and coal companies of the US. On this score genuinely sceptical journalism is missing in action. Instead, an ideological sympathy with climate sceptics has been concealed behind a fig leaf of supposed balance.

But what shines through in the attitude of the newspaper is its lack of intellectual and moral seriousness in dealing with the consequences of climate change. Climate issues are always taken as an opportunity for cheap shots about what The Australian calls “the Left” or “deep greens”. This attitude stands in stark contrast to the deep seriousness of the newspaper’s endlessly re-affirmed belief in free markets, competition and privatisation.

The Australian’s editorials and columns on climate change raise questions about its own standards of evidence.

For example, the newspaper never questioned the so-called evidence cobbled together to confirm Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction.

This was deemed adequate enough to support an invasion at a terrible cost in lives.

But the overwhelming evidence on climate change accumulated over more than 25 years by the best minds in the field was dismissed for many years by The Australian and is now only grudgingly accepted. This is what alarms many of Australia’s leading climate scientists.

The challenge posed by climate change to our economy and society is profound. Most Australian political leaders who are locked into the 24-hour news cycle see it as merely another issue. For a long time the newspaper has characterised climate change as an issue with a political, not scientific basis. It bears some responsibility for the impasse we have reached as a nation.

The role of a serious national newspaper is to give leadership on such issues. It could do this by asking hard questions on the future of the coal industry and on Tony Abbott’s comment that the science is “absolute crap”.

This is especially so given that climate change poses “clear catastrophic threats”, in the words of the newspaper’s publisher in 2007. On that score, I’m with Rupert Murdoch.

David McKnight is the author of several books on politics and history. He works in the arts faculty at the University of NSW.

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Here is Jo Nova’s red hot rebuttal:

Newspapers should lead the country

A REPLY to a critic of The Australian’s coverage of the debate about climate change.

DAVID McKnight’s criticism of The Australian over climate change (“Sceptical writers skipped inconvenient truths”, Inquirer, December 11) makes for a good case study of Australian universities’ intellectual collapse.

Here’s a University of NSW senior research fellow in journalism who contradicts himself, fails by his own reasoning, does little research, breaks at least three laws of logic, and rests his entire argument on an assumption for which he provides no evidence.

Most disturbingly – like a crack through the facade of Western intellectual vigour – he asserts that the role of a national newspaper is to “give leadership”.

Bask for a moment in the inanity of this declaration that newspapers “are our leaders”. Last time I looked at our ballot papers, none of the people running to lead our nation had a name such as The Sydney Morning Herald. Didn’t he notice we live in a country that chooses its leaders through elections? The role of a newspaper is to report all the substantiated arguments and filter out the poorly reasoned ones, so readers can make up their own minds.

The point of a free press is surely for the press to be free to ask the most searching questions on any topic. Yet here is an authority on journalism attacking The Australian for printing views of scientists who have degrees of doubt about global warming and/or any human component in it.

And these scientists that McKnight wants to silence are not just the odd rare heretic.

The swelling ranks of sceptical scientists is now the largest whistle-blowing cohort in science ever seen. It includes some of the brightest: two with Nobel prizes in physics, four NASA astronauts, 9000 PhDs in science, and another 20,000 science graduates to cap it off. A recent US Senate minority report contained 1000 names of eminent scientists who are sceptical, and the term professor pops up more than 500 times in that list. These, McKnight, an arts PhD, calls deniers.

Just because thousands of scientists support the sceptical view doesn’t prove they’re right, but it proves their opinions are nothing like the tobacco sceptics campaign that McKnight compares them with in a transparent attempt to smear commentators with whom he disagrees.

Ponder the irony that McKnight, the journalism lecturer, is demanding The Australian adopt the policy espoused by the dominant paradigm, the establishment, and censor the views of independent whistleblowers.

He thinks repeating government PR is journalism; the rest of us know it as propaganda.

McKnight doesn’t name any scientific paper that any sceptic denies. Instead, he seems to use a pre-emptive technique designed to stop people even discussing the evidence about the climate.

McKnight’s research starts with the assumption that a UN committee, which was funded to find a crisis, has really found one, and that it is above question. His investigation appears to amount to comparing articles in Fairfax versus Murdoch papers, as if the key to radiative transfer and cumulative atmospheric feedbacks lies in counting op-ed pieces. If he had made the most basic inquiry, McKnight might also have found out that the entire case for the man-made threat to the climate rests on just the word of 60 scientists who reviewed chapter nine of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report.

He’d also know that the people he calls deniers, far from being recipients of thousands of regular Exxon cheques, are mostly self-funded – many are retirees – and that Exxon’s paltry $US23 million for 1990-2007 was outdone by more than 3000 to one by the US government alone, which paid $US79 billion to the climate industry during 1989-2009.

So “sharp” is McKnight’s analysis that he calls the independent unfunded scientists “a global PR campaign originating from coal and oil companies”, but all while he is oblivious to the real billion-dollar PR campaign that is waged from government departments, a UN agency, financial houses such as Deutsche Bank, the renewable energy industry, the nuclear industry and multi-hundred-million-dollar corporations such as the WWF.

The job of a newspaper, he indicates, is to decide which scientist is right about atmospheric physics. Is Phil Jones from the East Anglia Climate Research Unit right, or is Richard Lindzen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology meteorologist, right? Add that to the duties for aspiring national editors. Tough job, eh?

McKnight’s main error in his article – accepting an argument from authority – has been known in logic for 2000 years, and his entire synopsis is built around this fallacy.

Just suppose, hypothetically, that the government employed many scientists on one side of a theory and none from the other. McKnight’s method of “knowing” who is right involves counting the institutions and authorities who support the grants – I mean, the theory. If science were exploited this way, McKnight would fall victim every time, blindly supporting the establishment.

That doesn’t prove he’s wrong but his analysis is confused at every level. He claims The Australian has zig-zagged from acceptance to denial but then later accuses The Australian’s columnists of repeating “the dominant editorial line”. But which editorial line would be dominant: the zig type or the zag? In science, evidence is the only thing that counts, not opinion. McKnight, the follower of funded opinions, has the gall to question The Australian’s standards of evidence but the only evidence he offers is a collection of opinions. McKnight paints himself as an authority on journalism yet fails to investigate his base assumption, research the targets of his scorn or understand the role of the free press: he is his own best example of why argument from authority is a fallacy.

If our journalism lecturers are feeding students with ideas of leadership roles, how decrepit is the institution where students are not even taught that the highest aim of a journalist is to ask the most penetrating questions and leave no stone unturned, so the people they serve might have the best information?

Such is the modern delusion of the activist-journo: McKnight wants to be the leader, to dictate what the public can think and to direct where public spending goes, but he doesn’t want to bother running for office or to expose his claim to open debate. He’s nothing more than a totalitarian in disguise.

Joanne Nova is a commentator and the author of The Skeptics Handbook. She is a former associate lecturer in science communication at the Australian National University.

joannenova.com.au

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162 thoughts on “Climate debate rages in The Australian

  1. Joanne Nova, you have hit this nail squarely on the head. The demigods are among us, I guess they always have been. Seems to be a world wide phenomena. If this wasn’t a real situation these people and you too Ms. Nova would make very interesting characters in some fictional novel or movie script.

  2. These two sentences alone in David McKnight’s essay destroy entirely his objectivity, and therefore his authority:
    “Does it defend the right of tobacco sceptics to have a voice? Of course not, for the simple reason that all intelligent people recognised long ago that such sceptics were fronts for the tobacco industry and that the medical science of smoking was settled.”

  3. An awesome rebuttal. Attacking the poorly constructed logic without trying to trade scientific papers is exactly the right way to go.
    Australia is experiencing a real turning point at the moment with regards to where it lies on the political continuum. The Labor/Greens coalition government is very weak and struggling to get traction on any issue, and increasingly their response is to lash out at any adverse press and attack the messenger, not the message. Needless to say this isn’t a long term winning strategy because the public is starting to pick up on the fact that they are in over their head and have no clear strategy to get out. Many people are wishing for a return to the stable conservative government that delivered so well for the prior decade, even if it was controversial at times.

  4. Well, Jo appeared a bit irked by the good professor’s inane polemic, opened up a can or two of whoopass, and let him have it. I would imagine the good professor’s demeanour after that lashing is that of a poodle doused with a bucket of ice water……
    You rock, Jo!

  5. As ever, Jo is superb – thank you for being so succinct, coherent and articulate! I would love to see a similarly lucid response but since the responder is an ‘activist-journo’ I am not holding my breath…

  6. JoNova!
    Is she married? Shes just a fantastic completetly bullshit free brave logic intelligent responsable woman. A real for freedom and democracy fighter.
    Just blooody marvelous girl!

  7. Well put Joanne, its about time that some balance is given above the babble of a strident authoritarian group that want to keep the Australian population from, hearing any truth, let alone, the Inconvenient truth as to the uncertainties that exist in Climate Science.
    They would prefer us to kept ignorant of such things that, “we would not understand anyway” just accept the “word of science” and the predictions of wondrous models that should never be challenged, or their data observed it seems.
    The Clive Hamilton’s of the world work hard to make the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) remain an exclusive propaganda club for CAGW and therefore deny access to the ABC by anyone trying to present an alternative view.
    So good to hear your thoughtful words Jo, may they be given increased prominence in the Main Stream Media across Australia. These make believe poorly qualified spin artists have hogged and strutted the stage for too long.
    Time for change.

  8. For a long time the newspaper has characterised climate change as an issue with a political, not scientific basis. It bears some responsibility for the impasse we have reached as a nation.
    This McKnight guy certainly turns out to be quite a good source for “criticisms” which make The Australian look like it functions independently and critically, and to the benefit of Australia!

  9. Professor McKnight is a long-standing critic of News Limited and The Australian, is a former journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald and worked on the now defunct communist weekly newspaper Tribune.

    Communist huh? Who’d a guessed. Professor McKnight seems a bit tee’d that his mouthpiece at the communist weekly newspaper Tribune where he wrote is no longer. Seems to his comrades that destroying one super-power’s economy is not quite enough. He lives in a gutter, so to him, all should. A true communist. And he now is a senior research fellow at the Journalism and Media Research Centre at the University of NSW. I feel for that university’s students who thought they could come and learn, not go to be brainwashed.

    Ponder the irony that McKnight-the-journalism-lecturer is demanding The Australian adopt the policy espoused by the dominant paradigm, the Establishment, and censor the views of the independent whistleblowers? He thinks repeating government PR is journalism, the rest of us know it as propaganda.

    From: http://joannenova.com.au/2010/12/a-journalist-who-confuses-journalism-with-propaganda/
    I get the sick feeling that this “global warming” has a whole lot more to do with communism than climate.

  10. Hi, your timeline is a little out. The sort of meta-debate about The Australian heated up in late November. A former News Limited journalist was on a panel at Sydney University at a confernec for journalism teachers/lecturers/students. A Tweet about their comments led to The Australian threatning to sue. Apparently open debate on climate doesn’t including saying mean things about The Australian. More at Crikey http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/11/26/the-torture-of-writing-about-climate-change-at-the-oz-one-journos-story/ [For non-Australian’s Crikey is sort of an Australian Drudge Report – except obviously more Australian in tone and perspective]

  11. As ever, Joanne Nova does a superb job in demolishing tax-payer funded alarmist propagandists, paticularly those in academia.

  12. If the positive feedback argument were so darned irrefutable, the AGW crowd would welcome debate. But for some strange reason they keep getting their heads handed to them in the debates they do have.

  13. Meow… I love a good scrap, particularly when it’s a battle of intellectual vigor.
    Jo easily mopped the floor with this egotistical putz and showed him where the door is. I can’t wait to see what his rebuttal will be… Strawman arguments ? Logical fallacies ? More arguments from authority ? Or just some good old fashioned ad hominem ?
    Pass the popcorn.

  14. “the entire case for the man-made threat to the climate rests on just the word of 60 scientists who reviewed chapter nine of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report”
    That makes little sense. The IPCC report has been examine thoroughly by the wider scientific community since it appeared. The US National Academies of Science – sort of a Supreme Court of the sciences in America, wrote earlier this year:
    “A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems […].
    Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities.”
    So virtually the entire scientific community accepts human-made climate change as an established fact – because they are genuinely convinced by the evidene. In such a situation, you can’t expect a serious newspaper to give equal attention to those who accept this and those who don’t.

  15. valuable journalistic real estate. Well there’s an App (and blogs) for that! It’s no wonder that journalists are held in so low esteem by the public. This post just confirms that climate science is nothing to do with science, climate or otherwise. It’s just another environmental doomsday cult travelling on a huge gravy train. Send money now or the Earth gets it. The objections to AGW are actually scientific as readers here know well.
    Australians have a very unPC phrase ‘shin kickers’. Jo certainly gave them a good shin kicking. I hope it hurt.

  16. Wow! Jo Nova was dead on, as always. I can’t believe Mr. McKnight still repeats the old canards about skeptics and makes that the thrust of his argument. But I guess once again he has been caught trying to repeat the big lie, thinking eventually some sucker is going to believe it. Good j0b, Ms. Jo (you too, Anthony).

  17. This also in this weeks Oz…(17/12/2010) Perhaps worth a separate posting?
    Political interference will cripple climate debate
    By Michael Asten
    Professorial Fellow
    School of Geosciences
    Monash University
    As a geophysicist my reading and writing leads me to question the level of influence of human-related CO2 emissions on present versus past climate change, and it is of huge concern to our nation’s future if we commit to a price on carbon without a parallel high-priority, objective and ongoing scientific effort to quantify uncertainties and natural factors also affecting climate change.
    The Cancun predictions on sea-level rises contrast with recent satellite observations on the rate of sea-level change and provide a timely example on the need for scientific objectivity.
    A recent peer-reviewed paper by Svetlana Jevrejeva from Britain’s National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool, provides a calculation of 0.6m-1.6m by 2100 using a range of climate models. However, these models also show predicted sea-level change rates of 4.2mm-5.4mm a year for the first decade of the 21st century.
    I contrast these predictions with just published observations by Riccardo Riva from Delft in The Netherlands and international colleagues who use satellite technology to measure actual global sea level rise in this same decade to be in the order of 1mm a year, which happens to be about the rate of sea-level increase that has been observed during the past century. In other words, the observational data suggests the problem as modelled may be overstated by a factor of five.
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/political-interference-will-cripple-climate-debate/story-e6frg6zo-1225972366783

  18. Thanks, Anthony, for making this debate available. Jo Nova is an awsome logician and scientific thinker who uses her ferocious intelligence to demolish the outright lies and the obfuscation that McKnight cobbled together in his rant which is nothing more than an appeal to a very tarnished ‘authority’.
    McKnight’s Communist leanings, always strong in the politics of the Australian far Left, show very clearly in his writing. And some people still wonder about the influence of Marxism in Western education.

  19. Hopefully McKnight will learn to keep his worthless opinion (you couldn’t call it analysis?) to himself rather than risk any further shame and embarassment.
    What an a*se!
    Also, perhaps the Australian editor will be a little more keen to check up on ‘stuff’ before he publishes it? Though in truth, I fail to see how anyone, of any political view, could come to any conclusion from these two essays, then those that have already commented. So in that sense, it was a good pro-AGW self shot in the foot!

  20. Sense Seeker said
    “That makes little sense. The IPCC report has been examine thoroughly by the wider scientific community since it appeared. The US National Academies of Science – sort of a Supreme Court of the sciences in America, wrote earlier this year:
    “A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems […]. ”
    Seeker, you appear to have very little knowledge of how councils and boards operate.
    When the board of a corporation meets, they dont ask the opinion of every single employee in the company for their opinion. They ask themselves, and only the members of the board.
    Scientific organizational councils are no different. In the case you presented, it is more then likely the NAS council voted amongst themselves and didnt bother to pole their members. So while the few at the top may agree on AGW, that doesnt mean that the whole NAS agrees with it.
    If you still dont agree, try having a look at the recent American Physical Socieity scandal. ( The high-profile resignation of Hal Lewis, documented on this site, no less.)
    The things you see when you open your eyes…

  21. What that foul-mouthed little man McKnight fails to realise, is that labelling millions of people (never mind thousands of respected scientists) “denialists” and “climate deniers” is a complete turn-off. As soon as one sees such inane terms being used, the immediate reaction is to just stop reading, because it is plain that there is nothing of value in the writing. It is just one more lame propaganda piece.
    I’m a regular visitor and occasional commenter on Jo’s site, and I commend it highly. Jo has the scientific, ethical and epistemological arguments nailed down water-tight (he says, mixing his metaphors). In the interest of reaching an even wider audience, I do hope that someday soon she will be granted a regular forum somewhere within the MSM (like James Delingpole has with The Telegraph). Thank you Jo, for providing much clarity in a very dirty arena.

  22. @ Sense Seeker (11:33 pm),
    The theory that human CO2 emissions are now and have been since circa 1950 the overwhelming climate drivers is being tested right now and doesn’t look too flash.

  23. McKnight wants to be the leader, to dictate what the public can think and to direct where public spending goes, but he doesn’t want to bother running for office or to expose his claim to open debate. He’s nothing more than a totalitarian in disguise.
    THWACKKK
    Ouch!

  24. Sense Seeker says:
    December 17, 2010 at 11:33 pm
    Blame it on yourselves, had you advanced some evidence instead of lofty assertions about consensus, not banged on about peer review as some magic panacea for bad science or dodgy models, falsely impugned the reputations of dissenting climate scientists, hailed the church of Gore as the almighty, didn’t take the hint when errors were pointed out to you, we might have even listened even harder to your EVENDENE belief – mind you, we are still waiting for the scientific evidence that you find so hard to (can’t/won’t ) explain.
    Now take MY word for that!!

  25. “For non-Australian’s Crikey is sort of an Australian Drudge Report – except obviously more Australian in tone and perspective”
    No it is not. It is a very left leaning blog and is a strong promoter of the CAGW propaganda movement. The site contributors refuse to acknowledge any evidence that contradicts their beliefs.

  26. The University of NSW would be better to replace David McKnight with Joanne Nova. It would appear she knows more about how the press works than he does.

  27. MarkH, you refer to an article by Asten. Asten refers to a study by Riva et al, who alledgedly “measure[d] actual global sea level rise in this same decade to be in the order of 1mm a year” where the models predicted more.
    However, Asten misquotes Riva et al.
    I just retrieved the study, and it examines the sea level changes that are due to continental ice loss/gain and land hydrology. That excludes an important component of the total sea level rise: the expansion of water due to warming. As the authors write: “They [the results] have been obtained by assuming an equilibrium ocean with homogeneous density and are therefore complementary to models of steric sea-level changes (driven by temperature or salinity variations) and ocean dynamics.”
    Added to that, the estimates have large uncertainty margins. In sum, the observations by Riva et al did not invalidate the climate models. As a professorial fellow in exploration geophysics Asten should have known this. And today he posted a rectification.
    The things you see when you open your eyes… Indeed.

  28. David McKnight,
    Here is a communication with the Chair of the Australian Academy of Science. So far it has received no answer.
    If you can answer it, then you might be qualified to write about Global Warming.
    The correspondence below relates to 3 particularly troubling Australian examples where mainstream science, particularly in the form of non-commercial authorities, arrogantly refused to accept the minor position. In one case the minority recieved 2 Nobel Prizes. In another case (Sam Carey, R.I.P.) the correspondence with the AAS and its precursor was quite unseemly.
    Research these, then come back with a clear set of guiding principles. If you can.
    …………………………
    For Professor Cory as President or Professor Lambeck, past President.
    Having just read again the August 2010 AAS publication
    http://www.science.org.au/reports/climatechange2010.pdf
    it is germane to ask the concise past reactions of the AAS to these 3 Australian advances:
    (a) http://dnacih.com/SILVA.htm which is a minority view on the toxic effects or otherwise of trace lead in children, with its obstructionist difficulties of acceptance; and
    (b) http://cogsci.uwaterloo.ca/Articles/Pages/Ulcers.one.html#anchor04 the ulcers/Helicobacter story of Marshall and Warren, with its obstructionist difficulties of acceptance; and
    (c) http://www.earth-prints.org/bitstream/2122/2016/1/CAREY.pdf S. Warren Carey on plate tectonics and the expanding earth (with Elliston), with its obstructionist difficulties of acceptance.
    Having worked with several of the above named authors and spent many hours/days of discussion with some, it is evident that the growth of important new scientific concepts often divides into a mainstream camp and a minority camp.
    Here, I am asking are whether the AAS recognises this not uncommon pattern of progress; and notes that the minority view can evolve to the more accepted view.
    For example, does the AAS have a set of guidelines to assist emerging talented scientists to manage the minority view?
    An answer framed around “man-made climate change” would illuminate the Academy’s stance and indicate how it has learned from past experience. I could name several test examples on request.
    Yours faithfully
    Geoffrey H Sherrington
    Scientist, (chemist), retired.

  29. Sense Seeker says:
    December 18, 2010 at 2:48 am
    and what does his rectification say? – a factor of 2 to 2.5 instead of 5.
    Now, I don’t know what anyone else considers to be a reasonable margin of error – but being a factor of 2 to 2.5 out still seems quite poor to me, especially if one is trying to claim predictability or some reasonable level of accuracy!
    Somehow, I don’t think the local police will accept a factor of 2 as an acceptable error in my speedometer – why should such a factor be acceptable to AGW warmist predictions?

  30. Wow!! Joanne’s intellect surpasses David McKnight’s with three digit’s to spare.
    Sorry, David McKnight but I’m going put the boot in while your down,because if you had watched this video lecture,you may have survived your total thrashing.
    A MUST WATCH FOR ALL ,A VIDEO LECTURE THAT I FOUND HERE
    http://www.goldenageproject.org.uk/videoPCT.php
    VIDEO LECTURE on Climate Change – Past, Present & Future
    Peter Cedrowen Taylor holds an honours degree in Natural Sciences and a Diploma in Social Anthropology from Oxford University. He has over 25 years experience as a consultant scientist to environmental NGOs, government departments, agencies, inter-governmental bodies, the European Commission and Parliament and the UN. His range of expertise stretches from pollution and accident risk from nuclear operations, chemical pollution of the oceans and atmosphere, wildland and wildlife ecology and conservation, to renewable energy strategies and climate change. He has sat on several government commissions and research advisory bodies. (1hr 26 mins)
    [Reply – I note you also posted this in Notes & Tips last week. Readers will already be familiar with Peter’s book Chill. He also comments here quite often. ~jove, mod]

  31. Sense Seeker says:
    December 17, 2010 at 11:33 pm
    Sense Seeker, how should I begin?
    Pit your NAS against the Royal Society [http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/09/30/the-royal-societys-toned-down-climate-stance/] if you wish. There is no lack of scientifically trained people disagreeing with the CAGW conjecture.
    On the way some people get to propose assertions with the names of organizations on it, try this analysis of an open letter of NAS members [http://tinyurl.com/nassigs]. Also note the previous comment remembering that commitee output is produced by the commitee and nobody else.
    Remember there is no such thing as consensus in science, only in politics. There are no settled matters either. Anyone who might say otherwise hasn’t the faintest inkling of how basic science works.
    Also, shutting up dissenters is totalitarianism, not science. It’s even worse when dissenters are a majority. (I’ve been through an almost-red “revolution” and I know how vocal minorities manipulate the majority.)
    The IPCC’s 4AR was one of the causes that lead me to the complete disbelief in the CAGW conjecture. It’s completely inept. Donna Laframboise et al. wrote about it [http://www.noconsensus.org/ipcc-audit/findings-main-page.php]. But, hey, you just need to read it to find it’s completely inept yourself.
    And there’s so much more. The problem in trying to answer you is that we’d have to go through everything right from the basics.

  32. SS @ 11:33PM, Yesterday.
    ‘that much of this warming is due to human activities’.
    Sorry, yesterday’s news. Today, the science is not settled.
    ================

  33. A fine piece by Jo Nova, and congratulations to the Oz for maintaining healthy debate on important subjects. It is Australia’s newspaper of record with real regard to the proper standards of journalism and editorial excellence. Keep up the good work, Chris Mitchell, the Oz is world class.

  34. Kev-in-UK: Asten went from a factor 5 to a factor of 2 to 2.5 in a single day. How much confidence do you have he got it right this time? Call me a sceptic, but I have very little. Besides, Riva et al acknowledge a large error margin and could not include several areas (e.g. the Rocky Mountains), so their study could not possibly disprove the climate models.
    Josualdo: Yes, there is such a thing as consensus in science; there are established facts. Anyone who argues against them must have very strong proof. Examples: smoking can cause cancer. Malaria is caused by parasites carried by mosquitos. Etc, etc. I agree that shutting up dissenters is not elegant, but if they try to block measures that protect other people from the effect of smoking or getting malaria by arguing the causality is not established, they may be sent back to provide proof before being allowed to speak. They certainly do not deserve equal attention to the consensus view.

  35. Geoffrey;
    Considering the “weather”, it may well be a snowy day in Hades. In which case, there may be some measurable odds the AAAS will explificate how it nurtures minority views, using climate science as an illustration.
    Otherwise, not.
    LOL

  36. Go Jo! Her rebuttal reminds me that we all should be speaking out vigorously against the CAGW cabal and the misuse of our tax dollars to fund the climate industry.
    My favorite line:
    Bask for a moment in the inanity of this declaration that newspapers “are our leaders”. Last time I looked at our ballot papers, none of the people running to lead our nation had a name such as The Sydney Morning Herald.
    Right on! And you can substitute New York Times, Washington Post, etc. for the Sydney Morning Herald…

  37. Sense Seeker says:
    December 17, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    That makes little sense. The IPCC report has been examine thoroughly by the wider scientific community since it appeared. The US National Academies of Science – sort of a Supreme Court of the sciences in America, wrote earlier this year:…..

    Here is a quick quiz for you Sense seeker.
    Which of the following errors in the IPCC AR4 report were found by the NAS or the “wider scientific community” who “thoroughly examined” the report, and which were found by unpaid amateurs and sceptics.
    * Himalayan Glaciers
    * African crop yields
    * Amazon rainforest
    * Disappearing mountain ice
    * Dutch sea level error
    * Trends in disaster losses
    * Bangladesh Land Loss
    * Potential of wave power to produce electricity
    * Antarctic sea ice expanse
    No point seeking something with eyes wide shut.
    “I seek it here, I seek it there, I seek it everywhere, that elusive sense and sensibility”

  38. David McNight says:

    the long discarded sceptical claim that there was “a link between cyclical sunspot activity and the climate here on earth”.

    The jury is still out on a possible link between the periodicity
    of sunspots (one measure of solar activity among others) and
    the influx of unblocked cosmic rays gradually impacting
    certain types of cloud formation.
    ————————————————————————
    David McNight says:

    The Australian’s editorials and columns on climate change raise questions about its own standards of evidence.

    For example, the newspaper never questioned the so-called evidence cobbled together to confirm Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction.

    This was deemed adequate enough to support an invasion at a terrible cost in lives.

    Sadly, some of us knew as it progressed that the specious WMD
    allegations put forth against Iraq were the product of American
    anger after 9/11 and the urge to be seen as “doing something”
    about global terrorism.
    The push for a secure source of oil for Europe and points west
    not dependent on Arabia or Russia focused great attention on
    enhanced development of Iraq’s petroleum resources.
    Iraq had aggressively sought to take away part of Kuwait’s oil
    fields… and might do so again in the future.
    Several nations in the immediate area, Iran, Turkey, and Israel
    had vested strategic interests in having the sixth largest military
    establishment in the world taken off the map as a threat… and
    in not having their hands soiled by their taking direct action.
    This tainted a great deal of intelligence the west got from local
    sources.
    One of the UN inspectors about to go to Iran to confirm or
    deny the presence of WMD was murdered on British soil, and
    the MoD made sure there wasn’t even a full, official inquest.
    A CIA operative was “outed” by members of the Bush/Cheney
    administration in order to somehow silence her spouse, who
    had information discrediting the “they’re buying yellow cake”
    allegations.
    From my perspective:
    There seems very little difference between the creation
    and collation of spurious and speculative information that
    brought us a nasty little multi-purpose war in Iraq and
    the effort to incite people to “do something” about the
    soft science ”facts” cobbled together to fight global
    warming.

  39. McKnight was shot down in flames. By Jo Nova!
    Even up here, in the far far North, in Norway, we notice the voice of reason from Australia.

  40. O/T – Steve Goddard has resurrected John Daly’s old chart showing how USHCN temps were adjusted back in 2000 to hide the fact that 1930’s temps were higher than the 1990’s.
    http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2010/12/18/cooking-the-books-at-ushcn/
    I always understood from John + also Steve McIntyre that the original graphs + data were deleted at GISS.
    However I have found them on the GISS website.
    The graph is on the PDF, last page (Plate A2)
    Paul
    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abstracts/1999/Hansen_etal.html

  41. Thanks for this article….It’s always refreshing to see a great mind such as Jo Nova tackle a prejudiced little brain. I was puzzled that McKnight cited Rupert Murdoch as promoting pro-AGW bias; yet Murdoch’s Fox News is the only television organization with fair and balanced reporting, including their coverage of AGW. Unfortunately, McKnight did not provide a verifiable reference for his claim.

  42. The media (IE journalists because they all work for the media) are after the all mighty advertising dollar as much as researchers are after whatever grants are available, even if they have to spew chunks to get those dollars. Notice that ratings are all the rage between news programs. Why? Because top ratings get to charge more for commercial time. If you make a splash in research, you get a leg up on the next round of grants. No matter that your splash is partly made of or entirely made of whole cloth.
    There is no other type of journalism today. Whoever you work for lives or dies by the commercials and advertising you can get. Factual, well researched, or investigative journalism, IE boring dry stuff, are way down the list of priorities. Journalists these days have to bleed one way or the other, else their words won’t see the light of day.

  43. In cased you missed it, here is Crowder at the Cancun con-con. Nice inside view … Question, will Al Gore become the Bernie Madoff of environmentalism?

  44. abc aus , science show sat 18th dec had suzuki waffling, he will be featured again as will that woman?orzbach? ??/
    while as always NO other views or research is allowed to be heard.
    gee I wish I wish I wish that Jo Nova would have a floor wipe with R williams and co!

  45. Bravo Joanne Nova. Piqued, repiqued and capotted McKnight.
    As a Forensic Investigator in real life all I can say is that nothing yet produced by the AGW/Climate Change minority would pass the basic tests of acceptability as “evidence” in any court of law. As for the demand that action be taken to “silence the skeptics” that is the last resort of every would be dictator – silence the opposition. It probably says far more about the real agenda of the Green minority than anything else.

  46. At 11:33 PM on 17 December, Sense Seeker had closed a post with:

    So virtually the entire scientific community accepts human-made climate change as an established fact – because they are genuinely convinced by the evidence. In such a situation, you can’t expect a serious newspaper to give equal attention to those who accept this and those who don’t.

    .
    The same old “global warming” panicker putzelry I’ve been seeing for the past decade and more. Endless argumentum ad populum and appeal to authority but never pertinent factually supported response to reasoned critique or requests for confirmation of data or expatiation upon methodology.
    The fact that there are credentialed charlatans professionally and financially (especially financially) invesed in the great “man-made climate disruption” fraud is not disputed. Counting their brown noses tells us nothing whatsoever about the validity of this preposterous ghost of an illusion of an unproven hypothesis.
    The continuing whine of the warmist fellahin that only those “Cargo Cult Science” practitioners who’ve been sucking down literally billions of dollars in research funding over the past ten or twelve years on the basis of frenetic squealing about climate catastrophe are entitled to an opinion on this subject has gotten beyond the point at which it can be taken with any response other than pure contempt.
    There is no need for any scientifically trained and practiced individual to defer to the card-carrying snake oil salesmen who have polluted the mainstream of climatology. Those of us with such backgrounds – whether in chemistry, physics, biology, or any subsidiary discipline thereof – have more than sufficient capability to discern when sound methods are being pursued, and when pure fraud is being perpetrated.
    As the homely old saying goes: “You don’t have to be a chicken to tell when an egg is rotten.”

  47. The Left waxes nostalgic for the tobacco debate. They just cannot understand why that model is not working now for the climate debate. Lo and behold, a journalism professor is taking a newspaper to task because it will not play the sweet pooch and roll over as it did in the tobacco debate. Clearly, he is just another Kommissar who would have all of us bow and scrape to his scientific idols. Thank God for the clear and logical argument of Jo Nova. She is another individual hero, like McIntyre and others, who will deserve much credit if free people survive this latest assault on their freedoms. Clearly, our institutions have failed us. Academia no longer understands its tasks and the professors are just communist windbags who lack the basic skills, especially in reasoning, that once characterized their disciplines. Jo Nova and other heroes are fighting for our liberties and the very existence of these heroes depends on the tradition of independent thought that remains strong among the populations of America, Australia, and a few other places.

  48. Sense Seeker says:
    December 17, 2010 at 11:33 pm
    Sense Seeker quotes:
    “Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities.”
    I have a standing challenge to anyone who can produce the hypotheses which are necessary to explain the so-called “forcings” that would take the warming effects of CO2 from the harmless one degree that Lindzen accepts to the harmful three or four degrees that Warmista need for their outrageous hunches of Armageddon. Can you produce those hypotheses, in your own words? I did not think so. In “The Great Global Warming Blunder,” Roy Spencer explains brilliantly why they do not exist. Science works with hypotheses, not computer models, yet Warmista produce only runs of computer models and no hypotheses.
    Oh, by the way, in case you are seduced by folks claiming that “the science is settled,” you can find on the internet today discussions of the fact that the Periodic Table is being revised. Yes, that Periodic Table. Also, Pluto is no longer a planet. Who could have known that science changes?

  49. I assume the Green Aussies have recognised the elephant in the room. Australia exports about 200 million tonnes of coal each year. If these guys are really committed then it would be hypocritical not to close down the national coal industry altogether.

  50. Nova nailed the problem with journalism and news agencies today, that being journalists see themselves as leaders, opinion makers and activists rather than chroniclers of events. That is a far cry from the purpose of their industry.

  51. I like reading JoNova…. She adroitly pulls the stuffing out of other Journalist’s tripe and lays bare the guts of their pointless point…..
    She certainly gave David McKnight a flogging. The guy is clueless, and JoNova is chillingly correct in her assumption….. If McKnight is the academic standard of modern Journalism. The “activist Journo”….. Then the free press is dead. It no longer exists as we knew it. But then again…….. Perhaps it’s been dead for a long time now? Perhaps the Internet is showing us it’s rotting corpse, crawling with McKnights and other fetid creatures?…..;-)

  52. Because of all this crap, people are dying………….
    Stupid glorified weathermen/climatologists predicting warm winters,
    stupid governments believed them and were not prepared.
    Fuel prices doubling, and people can not even afford heat.
    People are dying because of this crap.
    Why isn’t everyone raising hell about it?
    Why are people not laying blame where it belongs?
    Why is no one holding them accountable?

  53. Sense Seeker writes:
    “I agree that shutting up dissenters is not elegant, but if they try to block measures that protect other people from the effect of smoking or getting malaria by arguing the causality is not established, they may be sent back to provide proof before being allowed to speak. They certainly do not deserve equal attention to the consensus view.”
    My hat is off to you, Sir. You are that unheard-of-bird, the honest Kommissar. You see, Sir, you just said that you will control debate for the good of the masses. At best, you are an extreme Utilitarian of the Peter Singer variety who places no value on individual liberty whatsoever. Neither you nor any form of government has a right to end debate among free people. And please notice that if we follow your principle then science becomes a handmaiden to policy; that is, scientific truth takes a back seat to your view of what is good for the masses. You would deprive all of us of free exercise of our intelligence for the purpose of achieving your social aims. Do you have a position in a communist government?

  54. Sense Seeker writes:
    “Added to that, the estimates have large uncertainty margins. In sum, the observations by Riva et al did not invalidate the climate models.”
    Sir, no observation can invalidate a model run. Models are analytical tools only. One cannot make predictions from models. If the scientists had hypotheses, which are necessary to make predictions, you can bet that they would present them, assuming that they are reasonably confirmed. To say that models can be invalidated by observations is roughly the same as saying that a computer chess model “predicts” its moves. Nonsense.

  55. Sense Seeker; Yes there is consensus in science, but you need to distinguish between that and “consensus science”, which is completely different, and which is exceedingly dangerous. Specifically, read about the “science” of eugenics. Today, it is in fact the pseudoscientific alarm over manmade warming/climate change/disruption/chaos which has fallen into the very same trap.

  56. I am shocked at how out of touch McKnight seems to be. I know people who could not care less about the AGW argument and they would tear this guy apart. If this is a representation of the best the pro-AGW’s can do, the end will be a whimper, not a bang. Now the politicians just have get a clue as to which way the wind is blowin’, and Anthony will have to start another blog on a different subject. Actually that is not true. Most skeptics that I know were fascinated by the weather (a function of climate) long before someone said “the debate is over”and will continue to enjoy Anthony’s WUWT? long after the AGW horse has been sent to the glue factory. It was an overwhelming interest in the weather ( did I mention it is a function of climate ) that drew me to Anthony’s site many moons ago. My experience with alarmists has been that they have no knowledge base to draw from when forming their opinions. A few informed questions will usually cause them to fly off the handle. Very few have researched any deeper than what they are spoon-fed. McKnight is a case in point.

  57. Wow, the old “big oil” meme, which usually gets tied to the thought that evil capitalist corporations are funding the skepticism. I recently addressed this on Steve Goddard’s site, here.
    Most of us can recall this story, where BP, Conoco, and Catepiller withdrew from USCAP earlier this year.
    For an explanation of who and what is USCAP, go here, http://www.us-cap.org/
    “United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) is a group of businesses and leading environmental organizations that have come together to call on the federal government to quickly enact strong national legislation to require significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.”
    The membership list,
    * AES
    * Alcoa
    * Alstom
    * Boston Scientific Corporation
    * Chrysler
    * The Dow Chemical Company
    * Duke Energy
    * DuPont
    * Environmental Defense Fund
    * Exelon Corporation
    * Ford Motor Company
    * General Electric
    * General Motors Company
    * Honeywell
    * Johnson & Johnson
    * Natural Resources Defense Council
    * NextEra Energy
    * NRG Energy
    * PepsiCo
    * Pew Center on Global Climate Change
    * PG&E Corporation
    * PNM Resources
    * Rio Tinto
    * Shell
    * Siemens Corporation
    * The Nature Conservancy
    * Weyerhaeuser
    * World Resources Institute
    Understanding that BP and Conoco were members until last Feb, and Shell’s current membership in this group, it appears that contrary to the lie of skepticism being funded by “big oil”, that alarmists are indeed the true shills for not only large conglomerate oil companies, but global corporations in general. This isn’t some money, it is the money.
    Yes, there is a lot of corporate money being thrown at Climate Science research, but it doesn’t go to the skeptic camp. There’s a couple of old sayings about following the money and strange bedfellows. Indeed. For people suddenly confused about what team you’re on and who you’re playing for, I highly encourage going to the us-cap link provided and reading about each entity. Please note, some of these companies go by different monikers depending on the country they’re in.
    Enjoy.

  58. Goodness me! With the brilliant rebuttal by Jo Nova in front of our eyes for instant and easy reference, Sense Seeker (is that an attempt at wry humour or a plain old oxymoron?) opts for the bogus ‘concensus’!

  59. Orstrain, ain’t that the place with a wombat prime ministeress ? Every time I see her on TV I think of Bruce ( Bruce is the brunt of thousands of Aussie jokes about Shelia ) now if Orstrain had a Jo Nova leading the country, Paradise on Earth !

  60. I suspect that most of America’s unelected “elite” journalists consider it their mission to “lead” and to “create” public opinion. This misuse of the power of the press is playing a major role in the gradual destruction of democracy and capitalism in the West today. Also, as pointed out by many above, today’s climate-change establishment seems to be more about “global communism” than “global climate.”

  61. She (Joanne Nova) writes well here and elsewhere. If you haven’t a copy of her booklets, go to her site and have a look. One smart lady.
    ———————————————————————
    If I read the comment at 5:21 am by R.S.Brown correctly, that person says:
    A CIA operative was “outed” by members of the Bush/Cheney
    administration . . .

    This seems to be off-topic but repeating this is the same sort of thing that McKnight is so justly accused of by Ms. Nova.
    http://articles.cnn.com/2006-08-30/politics/leak.armitage_1_novak-and-other-journalists-cia-officer-valerie-plame-plame-and-wilson?_s=PM:POLITICS
    A “deputy secretary” in the U. S. State Dept. is not considered part of the administration, especially in this case.
    You are entitled to your opinion, but not your own facts.

  62. Good grief! As I read the McKnight article there was hardly a sentence that wasn’t easily rebutted. I’ve heard young children argue with better logic. Jo Nova does a good job of it, but even she would bore herself silly trying to answer all of it. Take the classic example of drawing parallels between separate issues. The warmers love the tobacco argument. And in that sense there is nothing original in anything that McKnight said. You could scrape his entire argument together from posts on warmer blogs any day of the week. But going on, drawing a parallels is not the equivalent of demonstrating truth or logic about the thing that you want to compare. For example, I could say that warming alarmism is like Alaska pipeline alarmism. There we were told that the pipeline would destroy the caribou herds. Instead, the caribou herds trippled after the pipeline was put in. You cannot draw conclusions about the outcome of one event by comparing it to another. It’s a nice sophists trick, but it has nothing to do with logic. And this is the case with all of McKnights points. For different reasons, they are all fallacies.

  63. This was recognised by the chief executive officer of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, who warned in 2007 that climate change posed “clear catastrophic threats”. Murdoch also pledged that News Corporation would “weave this issue into our content” and “tell the story in a new way”.
    The guy who owns FOX? Is there a disconnect, kind of like James Sexton’s list? The whole game is ruse.

  64. Sense Seeker says:
    December 18, 2010 at 4:35 am
    Josualdo: Yes, there is such a thing as consensus in science; there are established facts. Anyone who argues against them must have very strong proof. Examples: smoking can cause cancer. Malaria is caused by parasites carried by mosquitos.
    ————————————————–
    I take it that you are implying that there are established facts that anthropogenic CO2 causes global warming/climate change/climate disruption/climate crisis ?
    Can you tell us in your own words what are these established facts please ?

  65. Roger Carr said on December 17, 2010 at 9:53 pm”
    These two sentences alone in David McKnight’s essay destroy entirely his objectivity, and therefore his authority:
    “Does it defend the right of tobacco sceptics to have a voice? Of course not, for the simple reason that all intelligent people recognised long ago that such sceptics were fronts for the tobacco industry and that the medical science of smoking was settled.”
    ______________
    This sentence alone in Joanne Nova’s rebuttal destroys entirely her objectivity, and therefore her authority:
    “McKnight’s research starts with the assumption that a UN committee, which was funded to find a crisis, has really found one, and that it is above question.”
    Anyone who’s aware the history of the Heartland Institute, for example, understands the appropriate parallel reference to the tobacco industry. Propaganda driven by powerful moneyed self-interest is absolutely effective in manipulating the public mind – it’s a truth seen throughout history – but over time the shear weight of data and evidence win out.
    … and, yes, the quest for greater understanding isn’t free either. But I feel sorry for those who can’t distinguish between the goals of the competing funding efforts. In the meantime, pure propagandists, like the “Marc Morano types”, will make out very well for the “job” that they willingly do for those paying based on a cost/benefit analysis.

  66. David Ball writes:
    “Now the politicians just have get a clue as to which way the wind is blowin’, and Anthony will have to start another blog on a different subject. Actually that is not true. Most skeptics that I know were fascinated by the weather (a function of climate) long before someone said “the debate is over”and will continue to enjoy Anthony’s WUWT? long after the AGW horse has been sent to the glue factory.”
    Anthony has a GREAT website. The graphs and pictures alone are enough to give me a daily thrill. If AGW were to die tomorrow, I would come here daily just for the glorious natural history found here – it puts National Geographic to shame. That was the “good news,” so to speak. The bad news is AGW is not going to die; at best, it will morph into something similar along Green lines. The Greens have felt their power, all the way up to and including Lisa Jackson of the so-called “EPA.” The fight will continue and grow more difficult. Both of California and Britain are in a Green death spiral. We can only hope that their examples will enlighten democratic populations around the world. How big is this fight going to be? Well, has anyone ever beaten Hollywood?

  67. Jo Nova: cold, forensic and magnificent
    “…
    But if it had to perish twice
    I know that for destruction
    Ice is great
    And would suffice”

  68. Jack Greer writes:
    “Anyone who’s aware the history of the Heartland Institute, for example, understands the appropriate parallel reference to the tobacco industry. Propaganda driven by powerful moneyed self-interest is absolutely effective in manipulating the public mind – it’s a truth seen throughout history – but over time the shear weight of data and evidence win out.”
    An enigma within a conundrum? If propaganda is effective in manipulating the public mind then how would the sheer weight of data and evidence win out? No doubt you would say that it would win at the moment that the appropriate CZAR declares that data and evidence have won. If sheer weight of data and evidence can win, how do they do it and why does the public ignore it? No, a conundrum within an enigma.
    Sir, like all postmodern philosophers of science and their grandfather, Thomas Kuhn, author of “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,” you make the Marxist assumption that an individual’s thoughts are CAUSED. How else to make sense of the claim that there are paradigms which determine what various individuals believe and experience? Once you make that assumption, there is no such thing as philosophy of science or rational criticism of science; rather, all that remains is sociology of science, if your sociological paradigm happens to be the governing one.
    There is scientific genius. It springs forth from the brain of a genius. There are endless examples of such genius: Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and many others. Newton is my favorite example. Does anyone actually believe that there were forces in Newton’s environment that caused him to create CALCULUS before he was twenty-five? If you do, you should write a script because that would make one hell 0f a movie. The Marxist belief that our ideas are caused is in direct conflict with what every American knows to be true, namely, that each creative human being possesses his/her own genius. Here in the USA, the overwhelming majority of those geniuses are self-financed. Oh, by the way, someone who opens her own needle-point shop and makes it succeed is a creative genius.

  69. Not that it was difficult to take him down, but Jo did it with style.
    Jack Greer says:
    December 18, 2010 at 9:42 am
    “Propaganda driven by powerful moneyed self-interest is absolutely effective in manipulating the public mind”
    I doubt that, Jack – the warmists aren’t winning so it can’t be *that* effective – they had mountains and mountains of propaganda, all for naught… (ABC, BBC, CBC, Deutsche Welle, Nature, New Scientist, Discovery Channel, NYT, The Guardian, Der Spiegel…)
    OTOH, we had Hansen, Mann, Santer… 😉

  70. Jack Greer says:
    December 18, 2010 at 9:42 am
    Propaganda driven by powerful moneyed self-interest is absolutely effective in manipulating the public mind…
    Yes, we have certainly seen that with the Warmist juggernaut.
    but over time the shear weight of data and evidence win out.
    Again, yes. Despite the best efforts of the Alarmists to silence skeptics, to claim the “debate to be over”, and all manner of scurilous methods of skewing and/or “losing” data, and use of “scientific” data from NGOs like WWF, etc., the truth is finally coming out, thanks in large part to the one source of information they couldn’t silence, the internet. So, we agree.

  71. Jack Greer says:
    December 18, 2010 at 9:42 am
    Propaganda driven by powerful moneyed self-interest is absolutely effective in manipulating the public mind – it’s a truth seen throughout history – but over time the shear weight of data and evidence win out.
    … and, yes, the quest for greater understanding isn’t free either. But I feel sorry for those who can’t distinguish between the goals of the competing funding efforts.
    ======================================================
    There is none so blind as those who refuse to see.
    Hello? Anyone home? http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/12/17/climate-debate-rages-in-the-australian/#comment-553153
    You can choose to ignore it if you wish, but the “big money causing skepticism” lie is destroyed. Global corporate money is the pocket of the CAGW industrial/scientific complex. The only competitors in this discussion are between the power hungry and freedom lovers. But, like you, I feel sorry for the ones that can’t make this distinction. Sorry if this blows up your belief system. It just is what it is.

  72. John F. Hultquist says:
    December 18, 2010 at 9:06 am

    “You are entitled to your opinion, but not your own facts.”

    So that’s why Dick Cheney had a hissy fit when
    “his” man didn’t get a full pardon from President Bush… the guy
    that was appointed by Bush wasn’t actually “part” of the
    administration.
    Vice President Cheney barely escaped indictment for coordinating
    the “outing” with this political appointee.
    John, please. Let us know when the sarcasm starts and stops.
    If you consider:

    A “deputy secretary” in the U. S. State Dept. is not considered part of the administration, especially in this case.

    to be an actual “fact” I can see how you’d defend the specious
    method of logic and argument employed by David McKnight

  73. Sense Seeker says: December 17, 2010 at 11:33 pm
    So virtually the entire scientific community accepts human-made climate change as an established fact – because they are genuinely convinced by the evidene. In such a situation, you can’t expect a serious newspaper to give equal attention to those who accept this and those who don’t.
    —————————————————————————–
    Sense Seeker. In The eleven lines that you use here to provide a reason for this conclusion you:
    1 Make an appeal to authority.
    2 Make two sweeping statement without corroborating evidence to prove their validity.
    3 And then come to this amazing conclusion.
    What is amazing in this conclusion is that you justify shutting down arguments that are contrary to an opinion that you have.
    This, Sense Seeker, is evidence of a closed mind. In science, there is no room for closed minds.
    Douglas

  74. She’s a very good writer and researcher and news media need more of her and less of them bong sucking hippies that just plaster the papers with, essentially, greenie organizations propaganda.

  75. From the article: “The Australian still gives voice to a global PR campaign largely originated by the oil and coal companies of the US. On this score genuinely sceptical journalism is missing in action. ”
    Why is it an epithet to be “In the pay of Big Oil”, yet a lone scientist obviously in the pay of “Big Government” is always right and honorable? It seems to matter not at all that there are 800 peer reviewed papers questioning the belief of human-caused climate disruption ( http://www.populartechnology.net/2009/10/peer-reviewed-papers-supporting.html ) If you work for Big Government, you are right of course. THEY would never have an agenda, would they?

  76. Sense Seeker says:
    December 17, 2010 at 11:33 pm
    [Jo Nova]“the entire case for the man-made threat to the climate rests on just the word of 60 scientists who reviewed chapter nine of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report”
    That makes little sense. The IPCC report has been examined thoroughly by the wider scientific community since it appeared.
    Nah, what you say makes little sense. And you either know it or you should.
    One telltale example: who in the “wider scientific community” knew that Jones had no data to support his HADCRUT reconstructions and thus no valid reconstructions, which he nevertheless showed to the world for lo those many years? He finally even admitted it.
    No data = no science = no results = no reconstruction.
    Sense Seeker = “Climate Science” Propaganda Op. meme repeater.

  77. “DAVID McKnight’s criticism of The Australian over climate change…makes for a good case study of Australian universities’ intellectual collapse.”
    Jo Nova begins an opinion piece accusing her opponent of logical fallacies by peddling one of her own in the form of a hasty generalisation. The implication is that one sample can be generalised across the Australian university system.
    And that’s not the only example of Jo Nova’s own logical fallacies and poor reasoning.
    “McKnight’s research starts with the assumption that a UN committee, which was funded to find a crisis…”
    Ad hominen. The implied claim is that the the “crisis” is false because scientists were funded to find one.
    “Just because thousands of scientists support the sceptical view doesn’t prove they’re right, but it proves their opinions are nothing like the tobacco sceptics campaign that McKnight compares them…”
    Jo Nova does not explain in what way “thousands of scientists support[ing] the sceptical view” “proves” they are nothing like tobacco sceptics. If the only difference lies in their number, appeal to number is a logical fallacy.
    “His investigation appears to amount to comparing articles in Fairfax versus Murdoch papers, as if the key to radiative transfer and cumulative atmospheric feedbacks lies in counting op-ed pieces.”
    Straw man. McKnight’s argument is about The Australian’s reporting on climate change, not about the physics of climate change.
    “McKnight’s method of “knowing” who is right involves counting the institutions and authorities who support the grants – I mean, the theory.”
    Another, and rather more transparent, ad hominen.
    “The job of a newspaper, he indicates, is to decide which scientist is right about atmospheric physics…”
    I don’t see where McKnight “indicates” this. What he says is: “”But the overwhelming evidence on climate change accumulated over more than 25 years by the best minds in the field…”
    It’s a great irony that Jo Nova accuses her opponent of being an “activist-journo” while filling that role admirably herself.

  78. he is his own best example of why argument from authority is a fallacy.
    it is called a ‘performative utterance’ in philosophy

  79. Thumbnail- thanks for the link- I left a comment but could not find where the actual comments section is (to read the other submitted comments on the article)

  80. @brett – Ta. I think it takes some time for comments to get put up. And not every comment gets up. I left one there this morning. The Comments section in The Australian is not that visible on my laptop screen. Maybe I just getting getting blinder as I get older. But their comments section seems to be less visible than other online newspapers.

  81. RS Brown @ 10:58
    You’ve put your finger on just why he’s such a scumbag. And if Powell acted as he did out of spite, then the excess morbidity and mortality from the maneuver is on his soul.
    =============

  82. jorgekafkazar says: December 17, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    the title of Jo Nova’s reply is actually:
    Journalists who think newspapers should lead the country”

    not, as The Australian titles it, “Newspapers should lead the country”
    Freudian slip?

  83. Jack Greer says:
    December 18, 2010 at 9:42 am
    This sentence alone in Joanne Nova’s rebuttal destroys entirely her objectivity, and therefore her authority:
    “McKnight’s research starts with the assumption that a UN committee, which was funded to find a crisis, has really found one, and that it is above question.”

    Jack, I don’t see how Jo Nova’s statement is false. What other “research” results does it look like McKnight is starting from? The UN’s ipcc was in fact formed and funded to find a potential crisis specifically involving the possible effect of Humanity’s actions upon the “climate” – my take is that the ipcc was even supposed to bias and hype its “science” in the direction of the alleged crisis to whatever degree it wanted to. The ipcc certainly did “find” a possible Man Made crisis – after all, anyone could, especially given enough “funding” and biased “science”. And the ipcc acts and speaks like its credibility and the validity of its possible crisis is “above question”, which again, imo, it is even supposed to do according to its mission.
    So it looks to me like Jo Nova is simply saying that McKnight has initially assumed the validity of the essentials of the UN ipcc’s “Climate Science”, and that he is repeating them without any significant questioning.

  84. Brendan H says:
    December 18, 2010 at 12:38 pm
    “DAVID McKnight’s criticism of The Australian over climate change…makes for a good case study of Australian universities’ intellectual collapse.”
    “Jo Nova begins an opinion piece accusing her opponent of logical fallacies by peddling one of her own in the form of a hasty generalisation. The implication is that one sample can be generalised across the Australian university system.”
    The first lesson in learning to do analsyis of another’s writings is to read all the words of the piece that you are analyzing. For example, you overlooked the phrase “good case study of.” Ms. Nova did not claim that McKnight proved the intellectual collapse of Australian universities, she claimed that his example is a “good case study of” the collapse. In other words, she claimed that she will show us intellectual collapse in McKnight. So, see, she did not commit a hasty generalization at all. This lesson is free. If you want me to analyze the remainder of your errors, there will be a charge.

  85. S. Seeker: I agree that shutting up dissenters is not elegant, but if they try to block measures that protect other people from… getting malaria… they certainly do not deserve equal attention.
    The consensus view was that DDT was killing birds. Dissenters were silenced. DDT was banned. As a direct result over 100 million people have died of malaria.
    Maybe the dissenters DID deserve “equal attention”. Maybe then the (ongoing) Malaria Holocaust could have been avoided or at least mitigated.
    Is it surprising that CAGWers cite malaria prevention as a great success of post-normal politicized science? To the uninitiated perhaps. To me it is more revealing than surprising.

  86. Brendan H says:
    December 18, 2010 at 12:38 pm
    “DAVID McKnight’s criticism of The Australian over climate change…makes for a good case study of Australian universities’ intellectual collapse.”
    Jo Nova begins an opinion piece accusing her opponent of logical fallacies by peddling one of her own in the form of a hasty generalisation. The implication is that one sample can be generalised across the Australian university system.

    “hasty generalisation”? No, right off she says very clearly that she’s offering up McKnight’s “criticism…” instead as a “case study” of something she obviously thinks has already been pretty well established as a process – the “Australian universities’ intellectual collapse”. She says McKnight’s performance provides us with a good example which demonstrates what she means by “intellectual collapse”, and then she explains to us throughout her article why it is in fact “intellectual collapse”.

  87. 1DandyTroll says: “She’s a very good writer and researcher and news media need more of her and less of them bong sucking hippies that just plaster the papers with, essentially, greenie organizations propaganda.”
    You mean those bong-sucking, hashish-brownie-gobbling sensemilla seekers, DT?

  88. Brendan H says:
    December 18, 2010 at 12:38 pm
    It isn’t just one , if you have been following Jo’s site.
    Jo Nova isn’t trying to shut down debate either.
    That McKnight was communist in 1991 just shows that he was either evil or stupid or both. He does not appear to have changed his thinking.
    It isn’t just the 100 million or so killed by communism in the 20th century, it is also the hundreds of millions of lives blighted by the evil system for nothing more than the comfort of a few and the ego gratification of the “useful idiots” who helped make it happen.
    You are just another anonymous troll. Tell us your real name you gutless [snip].

  89. The newest pieces of information McKnight refers to are what were published in 2007.
    That’s a once-upon-a-time story and, since 2007, especially after Climategate, the discussion on the AGW has dramatically changed I believe.

  90. Theo Goodwin says:
    December 18, 2010 at 10:14 am
    . . . Sir, like all postmodern philosophers of science and their grandfather, Thomas Kuhn, author of “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,” you make the Marxist assumption that an individual’s thoughts are CAUSED. How else to make sense of the claim that there are paradigms which determine what various individuals believe and experience? Once you make that assumption, there is no such thing as philosophy of science or rational criticism of science; rather, all that remains is sociology of science, if your sociological paradigm happens to be the governing one.
    There is scientific genius. It springs forth from the brain of a genius. There are endless examples of such genius: Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and many others. . .

    Minor point in this discussion, but to claim that Thomas Kuhn is the “grandfather” of “postmodern philosophers of science” is calumny. The paradigms of which Kuhn speaks do not “determine what various individuals believe and experience.” They are rather the product of what today we call ‘groupthink’, the herd tendency to follow the mainstream, the ‘consensus’, and—of course—the money. Mr. Goodwin has the causation arrow backward.
    What happens, Kuhn observes, is that over time the consensus paradigm begins to break down as explanations of anomalous data become increasingly convoluted, and that leaves the way open for scientific genius to seize the day, though often at great personal cost.
    Of course, to make a tangential point, it would be fatuous to rank the CAGW speculation with a real scientific paradigm, just because there appears to be a consensus among scientists. It is really a political ideology, whose adherents are not scientists at all, but True Believers intent upon changing society—just look at the yuppie riff-raff at Cancun.
    /Mr Lynn

  91. JPeden: “…instead as a “case study” of something she obviously thinks has already been pretty well established as a process – the “Australian universities’ intellectual collapse”.”
    Fair point. My bad. Nevertheless, “Australian universities’ intellectual collapse” seems somewhat over the top.

  92. I am surprised when I read of a person, an academic with time to research current peer reviewed literature, who has failed to notice that in this calandar year, all the arguments supporting the AGW hypothesis have been shown to be false.

  93. But for The Australian, Mc Knight’s position is the status -quo in MSM in Australia. There is a reasonably intelligent discussion programme on ABC radio on Saturday mornings. As a wrap to the year, presenter Geraldine Doogue asked one of her guests what they would like for Christmas……and the answer ? “A price on Carbon”. I fell on the floor laughing, but this answer was accepted as perfectly normal by the panel.
    We have a long way to go.

  94. Sense Seeker says:
    December 18, 2010 at 2:48 am
    Your reasoned and well mannered response is (I think) welcome here. However, it appears to me that you only cast uncertainty into what is an uncertainty argument. Therefore raising the level of uncertainty. I don’t argue that climate change isn’t happening. I argue that the present climate change is not unprecedented and that observed changes fall into the realm of predictive uncertainty.

  95. Brendan H says:
    December 18, 2010 at 5:43 pm
    As an American I cannot, of course, speak to the claim that “Australian Universities'” have suffered an “intellectual collapse”, but if they follow the norm of western universities in both Europe and America – I consider that to be a fair claim. Thus worthy of a rebuttal.

  96. I am amazed by all the thoughtfull, well researched, and intellingent comments on this thread by both sides of the debate. Once again, Wow, a great job by everyone. Most of you make me feel a little bit uneducated, but anyway here is my comment.
    JoNova RULES
    McNight SUCKS
    I think that sums it up.

  97. Brendan H says:
    December 18, 2010 at 5:43 pm
    Nevertheless, “Australian universities’ intellectual collapse” seems somewhat over the top.
    Suffice it to say that I’ve seen enough of it in the U.S. to be on “red alert”. Dogma replaces education….or else!

  98. Mike Borgelt says:
    December 18, 2010 at 3:21 pm
    “Tell us your real name you gutless bastard.”
    You may well ask that question of Jo Nova, or whatever her name is.
    [Reply: Joanne Nova is given as her name. Tell us about your screen name.]

  99. That’s odd.
    The McNight article is about editorial bias at The Australian newspaper.
    So Nova has a big rant about things that are not even in the article she is criticizing. Plus a lot of assertions with no clear basis.
    For example M gave advice to restrict the quarrelsome ones from having a say. Nova made that up.
    For example M made no claims about the sponsorship in general of climate skeptics. Nova made that up.
    Maybe she read into the article what she wanted to read and was not paying attention to what was actually written.
    Seems that being an Associate Lecturer in science communication has not been a good career for her.

  100. AusieDan says:
    December 18, 2010 at 5:48 pm
    I am surprised when I read of a person, an academic with time to research current peer reviewed literature, who has failed to notice that in this calandar year, all the arguments supporting the AGW hypothesis have been shown to be false.
    —————-
    Let me guess. You get your info from your favorite blogs and not from the scientific literature.
    Why don’t you spend more of your time learning about the physics of atmospheres by buying an under-graduate text book on Amazon. After you have worked through all the exercises come back and then prove how wise you are.

  101. Joanne Nova nails it with this comment:
    Such is the modern delusion of the activist-journo: McKnight wants to be the leader, to dictate what the public can think and to direct where public spending goes, but he doesn’t want to bother running for office or to expose his claim to open debate. He’s nothing more than a totalitarian in disguise.
    Brava!

  102. “Does it defend the right of tobacco sceptics to have a voice?”
    Recently I saw in the media the little known fact that smoking actually lowers health care costs for societies. I wish I have made note of it.
    One of these days the public will come to understand this. It will save China’s bacon, if they can just keep people smoking, as they have no one to care for their elderly. According to a Dutch study on obesity, smokers live about eight fewer years than non-smoking, non-obese individuals, and cost significantly less in total lifetime health care.
    http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050029
    “Until age 56 y, annual health expenditure was highest for obese people. At older ages, smokers incurred higher costs. Because of differences in life expectancy, however, lifetime health expenditure was highest among healthy-living people and lowest for smokers. Obese individuals held an intermediate position.”
    Read it yourselves.
    I’m not at all sure this even takes into account the extra eight years of pension payments and other benefits paid to those non-smoking, non-obese individuals.
    I’ve been told that the research on second hand smoke is also flawed and twisted for the sake of public opinion. Shrug, all I can do is be skeptical.
    I’d like to see a study on the cost of all these MRIs for minor sports injuries for all the rabid triathletes and marathon running thirty somethings.

  103. Spen said:
    “I assume the Green Aussies have recognised the elephant in the room. Australia exports about 200 million tonnes of coal each year. If these guys are really committed then it would be hypocritical not to close down the national coal industry altogether.”
    They would happily close down the coal industry. Destroying the economy would be a bonus. They just don’t have the political numbers.

  104. don,t worry papers are a on the way out in australia because thay only tell one side of the story.that is man made CO2 is the problem .

  105. Mr Lynn says:
    December 18, 2010 at 5:02 pm …
    Thanks for that reply to Theo Goodwin. I appreciate most of what he’s written here, but his critique of Kuhn missed the mark entirely as you explained so well. What Kuhn argued in effect is that most “scientists” are not. They do not practice what we like to think of and support as proper science. They follow fads just as we all find ourselves doing occasionally, and those fads form the “consensus science” that will frequently dominate a field for a generation or more. Too many seem to aspire to a status as a “priest” of the “proven fact” rather than a seeker of it.

  106. Nom De Plume says:
    December 18, 2010 at 8:14 pm
    Mike Borgelt says:
    December 18, 2010 at 3:21 pm
    “Tell us your real name you gutless [snip].”
    You may well ask that question of Jo Nova, or whatever her name is.
    [Reply: Joanne Nova is given as her name. Tell us about your screen name]
    ======================================================
    Here’s some info on Nova.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joanne_Nova
    As for my screen name, I’ll leave that to your imagination.
    Cheers!!

  107. Quote:
    The method of “knowing” who is right involves counting the institutions and authorities who support the grants – I mean, the theory.
    Nice one, Jo.
    That’s what is boils down to. Scientists have become prostitutes – selling their money-maker-ing skills to the highest bidder.
    .

  108. On December 18, 2010 at 3:08 pm, MikeD wrote:
    “The consensus view was that DDT was killing birds. Dissenters were silenced. DDT was banned. As a direct result over 100 million people have died of malaria.”
    Well, Mike, let’s say you are partly right. The fact that DDT was killing insect, birds and fish was the main reason to stop its use. But it was also no longer effective. In many areas, the mosquitos had become resistant. It was banned by a Republican administration in 1972. More recently it became clear that DDT might cause preterm birth and early weaning and can cause breast cancer.
    In 2007 the Competitive Enterprise Institute (followed by others) came with the statement that the banning of DDT had killed millions of people. Given the resistance the mosquitos developed and the potential for health side-effects, that is unlikely. Some people think the CEI aimed to discredit environmental regulation in general.
    (Sorry to stray from the original topic of discussion here, but I felt Mike’s comment deserved to be addressed.)

  109. Jo Nova is the demolition queen. McKnight is just the latest of a string of charlatans who have been surgically dismantled by our Aussie champion of truth, logic and true science. I shudder to think where we might be now without heroes like Joanne and Anthony shining their inconvenient bright light.

  110. Duster writes:
    “What Kuhn argued in effect is that most “scientists” are not. They do not practice what we like to think of and support as proper science. They follow fads just as we all find ourselves doing occasionally, and those fads form the “consensus science” that will frequently dominate a field for a generation or more.”
    Kuhn undertook a fundamental assault on the philosophy of science. He introduced the term “paradigm” to the philosophy of science. If you investigate what he said about paradigms, you will find that they shape the imagination of the scientist. He did not use the word “fad.” People who pursue fads are aware that the popularity of what they are doing is part of its attraction. Kuhn discussed no such matters at all. Now, would you like to engage my claims or just continue pontificating?

  111. Mr. Lynn writes:
    “Minor point in this discussion, but to claim that Thomas Kuhn is the “grandfather” of “postmodern philosophers of science” is calumny. The paradigms of which Kuhn speaks do not “determine what various individuals believe and experience.” They are rather the product of what today we call ‘groupthink’, the herd tendency to follow the mainstream, the ‘consensus’, and—of course—the money. Mr. Goodwin has the causation arrow backward.”
    Would you please explain your claim that paradigms do not determine what individuals believe and experience? I can assure you that “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” argues quite emphatically that a scientist’s observations, the meanings of his terms, his standards of truth and much more are determined by paradigms; that is, Kuhn argued that they are caused by the paradigm. If you can produce something from the book which contradicts what I have said, I would really like to see it.
    The fact that you refer to “the paradigms of which Kuhn speaks” reveals that you were not there in the trench warfare during the Sixties and Seventies. “Paradigm” is Kuhn’s baby. It had no currency in the philosophy of science until Kuhn introduced it.
    Kuhn never once mentioned a herd instinct or a similar concept from sociology. If you can find it in his book, please give us the quotation.
    You do understand, I hope, that Kuhn made a fundamental assault on the standard model of scientific explanation as explicated by Carl Hempel and others. Regardless of his iconoclasm, he always addressed core concepts of science and logic. In saying that he is the grandfather of postmodern philosophy of science, what I mean is that no such thing would have been possible had Kuhn’s assault on the basics not achieved some popularity. Kuhn did not address the concepts of postmodern philosophy of science, as they are from sociology and not philosophy of science.

  112. Mr. Lynn writes:
    “What happens, Kuhn observes, is that over time the consensus paradigm begins to break down as explanations of anomalous data become increasingly convoluted, and that leaves the way open for scientific genius to seize the day, though often at great personal cost.”
    Under Kuhn’s explanations of the interactions among scientists, their paradigms, and the troubles caused by anomalies, troubles both scientific and social, the process of movement from one paradigm to its successor can only be irrational. Under the standard model of scientific explanation, the successor can rationally accommodate his predecessors, as Newton’s calculus enabled him to deduce Kepler’s Laws of Motion from his Law of Gravitation.
    What gives genius its opportunity to win converts is one matter. Whether genius can continue to communicate rationally with the scientists whose work has been displace is another matter. Kuhn answers the second question in the negative. Therefore, all that remains is sociological description of the irrational transfer of loyalties.

  113. Nom De Plume says:
    December 19, 2010 at 2:06 am
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I’m sorry, but to cut and paste a wikipedia entry on a skeptic and then claim “this is what Jo Nova is about” is absolutely hilarious. Please keep posting Nom De Plume, you are really, really, funny!! This HAS to be a prank !!!

  114. OOOHHH I’m all mysterious, see if you can figure out my screen name!! What are you , 6 years old? My 3 year old comes up with better stuff. Better let your parents know you will be staying up past your bedtime to think of something better than Nom De Plume. I saw a post by a warmist claiming that the “iceman” found under the glacier was “proof” of global climate disruption (still makes me laugh when I say that). His/her reasoning was that the glacier must be melting due to rising temps. It had obviously not occurred to him to consider how the dude got there in the first place. I could not believe the lack of critical thinking skills. Was that you Nom De Plume?

  115. Jack Greer says:
    December 18, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Roger Carr said on December 17, 2010 at 9:53 pm”
    These two sentences alone in David McKnight’s essay destroy entirely his objectivity, and therefore his authority:
    “Does it defend the right of tobacco sceptics to have a voice? Of course not, for the simple reason that all intelligent people recognised long ago that such sceptics were fronts for the tobacco industry and that the medical science of smoking was settled.”
    ______________

    Anyone who’s aware the history of the Heartland Institute, for example, understands the appropriate parallel reference to the tobacco industry.

    So you’re one of the ones who’s “aware” of the Heartland Institute’s support for denial of the link between SMOKING and cancer. (“Smoking” was the word McKnight used, not “tobacco,” a crucial point.) Good. I’ve been on the lookout for someone who had that depth of knowledge so he could give me a link substantiating it, rather than merely mindlessly repeating a smear he’d read.
    (The smear is equating, by the implication of an ambiguous term like “tobacco industry,” the Heartland Institute’s support for skepticism about the effects of second-hand smoke with support for skepticism about the effects of smoking.)

    Propaganda driven by powerful moneyed self-interest is absolutely effective in manipulating the public mind – it’s a truth seen throughout history – but over time the shear [sic] weight of data and evidence win out.

    Money for us? There are no public service ads promoting the skeptic position, no PR agencies working for us forwarding packaged stories to the press (the other side is doing a superb job of that), no handy umbrella site for bloggers, etc., etc. (For much more along this line, see my “Notes from Skull Island” on this site somewhere.)
    YOUR mind, I daresay, has been effectively manipulated by propaganda. (Selfless, and all the worse because of it.) We’ll see if the evidence (that McKnight was smearing Heartland) “wins out” in your case, by your response.

    Brendan H says:

    “Just because thousands of scientists support the sceptical view doesn’t prove they’re right, but it proves their opinions are nothing like the tobacco sceptics campaign that McKnight compares them…”

    Jo Nova does not explain in what way “thousands of scientists support[ing] the sceptical view” “proves” they are nothing like tobacco sceptics. If the only difference lies in their number, appeal to number is a logical fallacy.

    A small, lavishly funded clique is prima facie different from a large, unfunded (mostly), and largely spontaneous movement. Yesterday’s (50’s & 60’s) smoking skeptics got what amounted to large annual salaries from Big Tobacco. A few of today’s skeptics get piddling speaking fees and article-reprint fees from places like Heartland, and a few skeptics work for free market think tanks, but that’s about it. (Anyway, such is my impression.)

  116. Mike Borgelt says:
    December 18 at 3.21 pm:
    “You are just another anonymous troll. Tell us your real name you gutless [snip].”
    Fair cop. My real name is Herbert Montmerency Jones II. Bit of a mouthful, and caused me agonies in school, but now I’m resigned to it. However, people on blogs tend to think it’s an alias, hence the resort to a real alias. The surname is also a bit of a problem nowadays.
    Acqaintances calll me “Monty”, best friends, “Sir”. You’ve already called me a name, or rather two, so further name-calling on your part would be redndant.
    Interestingly, one of the names you call me violates the site’s edict on politeness. So which of the moderators is in your pocket?
    [Reply: Moderation on this site is done with a light touch, as opposed to the heavy-handed, outright censorship of most climate alarmist blogs. It is often a balancing act between freedom of expression and less than polite comments. Each moderator draws his or her own line. I wasn’t aware of the comment in question until I read your post here. But since your feelings were hurt, I’ve gone back and snipped that particular word. ~dbs, mod.]

  117. Roger Knights, I assume you to be a liberal (IE Democrat) left-leaning individual. If from the US and a card carrying Democrat, then I accuse you of outright bigotry, racism, and a supporter of the KKK and enslavement.
    Don’t shoot the messenger, I was a life long Democrat too till just last year and my grandfather, God rest his soul, was a Southern Democrat. In every way. Anyway I thought it would be instructive to use your logic you used against the Heartland Institute’s stand related to smoking as a proof that folks should not buy into their story about AGW.
    Don’t ya just love logic?

  118. Roger Knight: “A small, lavishly funded clique is prima facie different from a large, unfunded (mostly), and largely spontaneous movement.”
    Before accepting tobacco money, I would say that a scientist probably has at minimum an affinity with free-market ideology. I don’t have any figures for relative funding in the two cases, but in my view the point of similarity outweighs any difference in funding.
    In that case, the issue is a numbers game. We also cannot now know the possible effect of web blogs on the tobacco dispute, which is now past its peak.
    I also dispute the “largely spontaneous” claim. The Oregon petition, for example, is certainly not a matter of spontaneity, nor are Morano’s lists, and these are the ones that get the most airing in blogs.

  119. Brendan H says:
    December 19, 2010 at 9:35 am
    Interestingly, one of the names you call me violates the site’s edict on politeness. So which of the moderators is in your pocket?

    Hi, BH. (We go back to Climategate–remember me?) It’s too bad such insults aren’t being filtered out the way they used to be. It’s an unfair way of discouraging warmists from continuing to make comments here.
    (Hey, I just corrected a Freudian typo: I initially typed “swarmists” for “warmists”! In the future, maybe I’ll let the typo stand.)

    Pamela Gray says:
    December 19, 2010 at 9:38 am
    Anyway I thought it would be instructive to use your logic you used against the Heartland Institute’s stand related to smoking as a proof that folks should not buy into their story about AGW. Don’t ya just love logic?

    I hope there isn’t a misunderstanding here, but only a poor choice of words. I was not using logic “against the Heartland Institute’s stand related to smoking,” but defending the HI from the smear / implication that it once supported denial of the link between smoking and cancer. (I visited its site early this year and from what I read it seemed that they only supported questioning the link between second-hand smoke and cancer, which is a different kettle of fish.)

    Roger Knights, I assume you to be a liberal (IE Democrat) left-leaning individual. …

    Well, as a kid a rang doorbells for Stevenson (in a very pro-Ike neighborhood), but since then I’ve Moved On. I’ve omitted making political comments in the 1500-plus posts I’ve made here, because I think they’re counterproductive in moving mainstream lurkers, and because I think the politics of the matter is secondary to the psychology and sociology of it. (I especially like Stefan’s comments on those matters.)

    I was a life long Democrat too till just last year ….

    Pam, I’ve read and admired all your posts for the two years I’ve been here. For instance, I’ve been convinced by what you and Leif have said that the sun’s influence is secondary to internal thermostat effects like ocean currents. And I’ve been entertained by the saga of your political migration. It’s one that other disillusioned dupes of the CACA Cult may be making in future years.
    The Democratic Party (like left-wing parties elsewhere) has gained a huge number of votes by irresponsibly and possibly cynically getting aboard the Swarmists’ bandwagon. Their support has in turn led to increased funding of climatology, which has in turn led to more alarmist “findings,” which has in turn led to more votes for left-wing parties, which has in turn forced conservative parties to try to regain those votes by saying “me too,” in an out-of-control positive feedback loop.
    Until now, when the wheels are coming off the Great Pumpkin.

  120. The recipients of the most tobacco money, by far, are the federal and state governments. They are more hooked on tobacco taxes than the most helplessly addicted smoker.
    If governments wanted to outlaw tobacco for the good of the people, it would be easy. The great majority of voters don’t use tobacco products. But governments crave the tax money from tobacco; the government is the real pusher.
    Rob “Meathead” Reiner got an initiative passed in California about ten years ago that added a fifty cent tax per pack. But the money doesn’t go into the state’s general fund; the initiative wasn’t written that way. Reiner personally gets to spend that immense income with practically no restrictions at all. But we see very little anti-cigarette advertising – while Reiner and his Board rake in multi-millions in pay every year, because they get to set their own salaries and benefits. Does anyone believe that Reiner wants to ban tobacco use? All he did was create a monopoly, with him and a few friends as the pushers.
    Next, the “second hand smoke” canard has never been proven in any legitimate study. Human lungs evolved since fire was first discovered. Evidence of fires in caves predates human history, and those caves must have been very smoky. Chimneys were not invented until the Middle Ages. Now, houses have ventilation systems, furnace filters, and windows. The whole second hand smoke story is as baseless and self-serving as the debunked CAGW story. [I don’t smoke and I don’t like it, but I know a scam when I see one.]
    Lungs contain cilia which naturally remove particulates, and they have no trouble at all removing second hand smoke. IIRC, only about 3% of smokers die as a direct result of smoking. And those tend to die quickly, actually putting less burden on the medical system than non-smokers, who generally require ever more costly measures to keep them alive as they age.
    Those who use the ‘tobacco’ argument in the climate debate are as reprehensible as they are dishonest. It is an ad hominem attack that has nothing to do with whether CO2 could cause catastrophic AGW. They resort to the tobacco argument because they have decisively lost the scientific argument.
    Any time you read a commenter tying in tobacco to support the CAGW argument, you know that the CAGW promoter has lost his argument; if there were testable measurements showing the degree of temperature rise resulting from a specific increase in CO2 emissions, we would be reading about it 24/7/365.
    But there are no such measurements. None. It is all speculation, which is why the fictitious “consensus” argument is used in place of the scientific method.
    Finally, those who use the tobacco comparison in the climate debate always avoid mentioning the fact that Al Gore’s fortune came largely from growing and selling tobacco and fossil fuels. Could the CO2=CAGW believers and promoters be any more hypocritical?

  121. Roger Knights: “Hi, BH. (We go back to Climategate–remember me?)”
    Yes, I remember. You were busy making predictions re the fallout from Climategate. Wonder how they panned out.
    “It’s too bad such insults aren’t being filtered out the way they used to be. It’s an unfair way of discouraging warmists from continuing to make comments here.”
    I think the poster made a mistake in his target, and is now too embarassed to admit it.
    Not tbat I’d call myself a warmist. More of a free-thinker, unbound by ideology and willing to follow the facts fearlessly, wherever they lead.

  122. Wow, I am seriously impressed.
    Joanne really shredded David.
    We need more people like this to speak up.
    Bill

  123. [Since the thread is petering out, and a few more electrons won’t matter, I’ll take the liberty of reposting my previous comment (response to Theo Goodwin), just to get the formatting right (or try to), not to elevate my maunderings any. If it works, and if the Moderator has time, he can delete the original comment and formatting instructions above. Now if WordPress allowed for a Preview function. . . /Mr L]

    Theo Goodwin says:
    December 19, 2010 at 5:44 am
    Would you please explain your claim that paradigms do not determine what individuals believe and experience? I can assure you that “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” argues quite emphatically that a scientist’s observations, the meanings of his terms, his standards of truth and much more are determined by paradigms; that is, Kuhn argued that they are caused by the paradigm. If you can produce something from the book which contradicts what I have said, I would really like to see it. . .
    You do understand, I hope, that Kuhn made a fundamental assault on the standard model of scientific explanation as explicated by Carl Hempel and others. Regardless of his iconoclasm, he always addressed core concepts of science and logic. In saying that he is the grandfather of postmodern philosophy of science, what I mean is that no such thing would have been possible had Kuhn’s assault on the basics not achieved some popularity. . .

    Thank you for the interesting reply. I do not have the time at the moment to go back to The Structure of Scientific Revolutions for chapter and verse (and it has been a long while), and it is only with temerity that I take issue with a professional in the philosophy of science—
    But it was never my impression that Kuhn eschewed “the standard model of scientific explanation” as a principle and an ideal; rather the evolution of paradigms and the need for occasional ‘revolution’ skews or interrupts the process, as ‘punctuated equilibrium’ might skew biological evolution.
    Clearly there is a sociological component to the establishment of a paradigm. But practitioners operating within the core assumptions of the paradigm can still adhere to the scientific method, as within any theoretical framework there is plenty of room for compensatory hypotheses, explanations, etc., even if it means epicycles within epicycles.

    Theo Goodwin says:
    December 19, 2010 at 5:57 am
    . . . Under Kuhn’s explanations of the interactions among scientists, their paradigms, and the troubles caused by anomalies, troubles both scientific and social, the process of movement from one paradigm to its successor can only be irrational. Under the standard model of scientific explanation, the successor can rationally accommodate his predecessors, as Newton’s calculus enabled him to deduce Kepler’s Laws of Motion from his Law of Gravitation. . .

    I am troubled by the term ‘irrational’, but agree that paradigm replacement in Kuhn’s view would necessarily involve egos, loyalties, alliances, organizations and whatnot, as scientists do operate as social beings. Paradigms make for comfortable surroundings (and often, for a long time, quite productive science). And even when a new theory can logically encapsulate the old, it may indeed be difficult for the establishment to get out of its easy chair.
    What I objected to in your comment was the suggestion that Kuhn’s paradigms obviate or invalidate the epistomology of science, by determining “what various individuals believe and experience.” Obviously there is an element of reinforcement in any community sharing ideas and beliefs, and this social pressure will create blinders, but what is important about scientific paradigms (as opposed to other kinds) is that they can and will be overturned, by the underlying principles of scientific explanation. Unless the dam is reinforced by outside authority (e.g. the state) it will eventually burst.
    My impression is that the ‘postmodern’ exponents are far more radical, claiming that scientific explanation is a but an artifact of social conventions, of ‘narratives’ holding scientists prisoner. If it is true, as you say, that such views owe their origin to Kuhn, that would indeed be a sad reflection on his essential insights.
    /Mr Lynn

  124. Brendan H says:
    “Not that I’d call myself a warmist. More of a free-thinker, unbound by ideology and willing to follow the facts fearlessly, wherever they lead.”
    Oh, please, Mr Fearless. You’re fooling nobody. You constantly ignore inconvenient facts in order to promote your CAGW belief system and your big government ideology. In your attempt to discredit Jo Nova upthread [@12:38 pm], you ignored the fact that McKnight has no science education while Nova does, and that she has effectively debunked the globaloney and censorship that McKnight is trying to sell.
    A major issue is McKnight’s push for a totalitarian society, which requires a propaganda organ. In his opinion views that he disagrees with must be censored. Since you take the anti-Nova, pro-McKnight position, and similarly argue for the climate alarmist position or against the scientific skeptics’ position when you post here, your bogus claim that you are “unbound by ideology and willing to follow the facts fearlessly” is ridiculous. You’re just another fanboy of totalitarian government. That makes you the problem, not the solution.

  125. [Reply: Moderation on this site is done with a light touch, as opposed to the heavy-handed, outright censorship of most climate alarmist blogs. It is often a balancing act between freedom of expression and less than polite comments.”
    This site has chosen freedom of expression and civility as marketing tools, so what we’re looking at is a matter of truth in advertising.
    On civility, the matter is simple enough. If you’re going to use civility to market the site, apply the criterion across the board. Otherwise, the impression is that incivility by warmers is highlighted for special mention, while incivility and snark by sceptics is given the nod.
    “But since your feelings were hurt, I’ve gone back and snipped that particular word. ~dbs, mod.]”
    I made no mention of feelings. Nor did I ask you to snip the word.

  126. Smokey: “Oh, please, Mr Fearless.”
    While I appreciate your showing me the proper degree of respect, Smokey, there’s no need for formality. Just call me Frank.
    “You’re just another fanboy of totalitarian government.”
    Not at all. I support the greatest liberty consistent with order. Not only for myself, but for all men of good will. And of course, you too, Smokey.

  127. Brendan H says:
    December 19, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Roger Knight[s]: “A small, lavishly funded clique is prima facie different from a large, unfunded (mostly), and largely spontaneous movement.”

    “Before accepting tobacco money, I would say that a scientist probably has at minimum an affinity with free-market ideology. I don’t have any figures for relative funding in the two cases, but in my view the point of similarity outweighs any difference in funding.”

    The above seems to imply that if today’s Climate Contrarians have accepted any amount of money from a free market think tank that has ever accepted (or is now accepting) tobacco money, they’re therefore just like the cancer deniers of yore, because they both share an affinity with free market ideology. Is that what you’re saying?

    “In that case, the issue is a numbers game.”

    Apparently you ARE saying that any link to the Tobacco Industry, in any amount, means that the opinions and efforts of today’s Climate Contrarians have been as much bought and paid for as those of the “hired gun” smoking = cancer deniers of the past, because they’re both free-marketeers—and thus capable of any enormity. Is that what you’re saying?

    “We also cannot now know the possible effect of web blogs on the tobacco dispute, which is now past its peak.”

    Eh? Please explain the relevance of this sentence. How is it germane to anything I said? (Also please clarify which tobacco dispute.)

    “I also dispute the “largely spontaneous” claim. The Oregon petition, for example, is certainly not a matter of spontaneity, …”

    Of course its signers didn’t instantaneously coalesce out of the blue and collectively write the petition all by themselves, without prompting. Every “spontaneous” movement or fad or trend or revolt involves some prompting. It’s a matter of degree. Leeser prompting = more sponaniety.
    On one hand, if a person, after reading about a petition on one of his favorite sites or blogs, clicked on a link and tediously filled in a lot of personal details, with no personal benefit likely, and a possible personal downside (from opposing a majority position with rabid mind-guards), that’s fairly spontaneous. It was uncoerced, unpressured, uncompensated, and required some effort and risk-taking.
    On the other hand there’s the case where a petition is shoved under a person’s nose and he is “put on the spot” by aggressive and/or potentially retaliatory petitioners, and whose signing requires little more than a nod. For instance, the Met Office’s statement of support for the embattled climatologists at EAU was circulated on the signers’ work computer by their higher-ups, who would be aware of anybody who failed to sign. (Or rather, click the YES box (a “nod”).)

    “… nor are Morano’s lists, and these are the ones that get the most airing in blogs.”

    But he’s just an aggreagator, not the originator of the articles and news items he cites. Those are what get discussed. Are you implying that, because Morano is getting paid by some free-market organization (presumably), the material he cites can be dismissed as the production of funded-denialism? I think you are, based on my analysis of your earlier statement.
    BTW, Morano was forced out of his position as a staffer to Inhofe because his blogging was considered inappropriate. If his funding came from the government, like say Gavin Schmidt’s, would you consider his blogging to be untainted?

  128. OK, Frank. Or Brendan. Or Herbert. Or Monty. Or Jones. Or Mann. Or Schmidt…
    You’re just talking the talk. If you walk the walk, then recant your posts defending the odious communist McKnight, who would put the rest of us in a gulag for having an opinion that diverged from the Party line.
    You can’t pick and choose with people who want a totalitarian government, you have to repudiate them until and unless they publicly – and sincerely – recant. It’s like saying your neighbor is a great guy, he gives to charity, he belongs to the Rotary, he goes to church, and just because he was caught molesting little boys doesn’t mean he’s not a great guy.
    You have to shun McKnight completely, in total, so long as he intends to do whatever he can to put society under his yoke.
    So, Herbert Brendan Frank Montwhatever, Jones, you gonna walk your talk?

  129. Brendan H says:
    December 20, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Roger Knights: “Hi, BH. (We go back to Climategate–remember me?)”

    Yes, I remember. You were busy making predictions re the fallout from Climategate. Wonder how they panned out.

    About midway between what I predicted and what you predicted.

  130. Roger Knights: “The above seems to imply that if today’s Climate Contrarians have accepted any amount of money from a free market think tank that has ever accepted (or is now accepting) tobacco money, they’re therefore just like the cancer deniers of yore, because they both share an affinity with free market ideology. Is that what you’re saying?”
    The similarity that I claimed between the two groups is “an affinity with free-market ideology”, not funding per se. Your claim was to discern a distinguishing difference between tobacco and climate sceptics by appealing to organisation and funding versus non-funding and spontaneity. To my mind, the point of similarity — an affinity with free-market ideology — outweighs your claimed difference.
    “Every “spontaneous” movement or fad or trend or revolt involves some prompting. It’s a matter of degree.”
    Definitely. In my view, the effort required to compile and collate the likes of the Oregon Petition belongs more under the category of “organised” than “spontaneous”.
    “Are you implying that, because Morano is getting paid by some free-market organization (presumably), the material he cites can be dismissed as the production of funded-denialism?”
    No. I’m saying his collation of lists is organised rather than spontaneous. The value or otherwise of his lists lies in their content.
    “If ]Morano’s] funding came from the government, like say Gavin Schmidt’s, would you consider his blogging to be untainted?”
    I don”t think the source of funding — or the fact of funding — necessarily taints the message. But I haven’t made any comment about whether I think Morano’s blogging is tainted by funding.

  131. Smokey: “…then recant your posts defending the odious communist McKnight…”
    As a man dedicted to the principle of free thought and speech, I reject loyalty oaths, demands for recantation, and any other pressures towards conformity. So I decline your offer.

  132. Brendan H says:

    “The similarity that I claimed between the two groups is “an affinity with free-market ideology”, not funding per se. Your claim was to discern a distinguishing difference between tobacco and climate sceptics by appealing to organisation and funding versus non-funding and spontaneity. To my mind, the point of similarity — an affinity with free-market ideology — outweighs your claimed difference.”

    Let’s look at the record, step by step.
    Here’s what McKnight wrote, implying that today’s skeptics are hired guns, similar to those few (a dozen or two?) who outspokenly denied the link between smoking and cancer in the 50s & 60s:

    “Shortly after its “sunspot” editorial, The Australian published a feature article (“Rebels of the Sun”, March 17, 2007) recycling this discredited theory and lamenting that the debate “has become increasingly stifling and intolerant to dissenting voices”, citing fossil industry-funded sceptics,
    ……………..
    “Lloyd reported that The Australian has defended the right of climate sceptics “to have a voice”. This is curious. Does it defend the right of tobacco sceptics to have a voice? Of course not, for the simple reason that all intelligent people recognised long ago that such sceptics were fronts for the tobacco industry and that the medical science of smoking was settled. On climate issues The Australian still gives voice to a global PR campaign largely originated by the oil and coal companies of the US.

    The smoking = cancer denialists were a small, well-paid group of hired guns, basically. McKnight was implying that today’s climate contrarians are their equivalent. Jo Nova rebutted the implication:

    “The swelling ranks of sceptical scientists is now the largest whistle-blowing cohort in science ever seen. It includes some of the brightest: two with Nobel prizes in physics, four NASA astronauts, 9000 PhDs in science, and another 20,000 science graduates to cap it off. A recent US Senate minority report contained 1000 names of eminent scientists who are sceptical, and the term professor pops up more than 500 times in that list. These, McKnight, an arts PhD, calls deniers.
    “Just because thousands of scientists support the sceptical view doesn’t prove they’re right, but it proves their opinions are nothing like the tobacco sceptics campaign that McKnight compares them with in a transparent attempt to smear commentators with whom he disagrees.”

    You then weighed in:

    “Jo Nova does not explain in what way “thousands of scientists support[ing] the sceptical view” “proves” they are nothing like tobacco sceptics. If the only difference lies in their number, appeal to number is a logical fallacy.”

    I responded thus:

    “A small, lavishly funded clique is prima facie different from a large, unfunded (mostly), and largely spontaneous movement. Yesterday’s (50’s & 60’s) smoking skeptics got what amounted to large annual salaries from Big Tobacco. A few of today’s skeptics get piddling speaking fees and article-reprint fees from places like Heartland, and a few skeptics work for free market think tanks, but that’s about it. (Anyway, such is my impression.)”

    In other words, there is a qualitative difference between the skeptics of today and those of yore, not just a quantitative one, rebutting your point (“if their only difference lies in their number, appeal to number is a logical fallacy”). To which you said:

    “Before accepting tobacco money, I would say that a scientist probably has at minimum an affinity with free-market ideology. I don’t have any figures for relative funding in the two cases, but in my view the point of similarity outweighs any difference in funding.”

    This was a red herring—i.e., an attempt to shift the argument to a debate about a different assertion: that today’s skeptics are politically biased.
    But the original argument was about what McKnight was implying. McKnight wasn’t implying that today’s skeptics should be given no newspaper space because they are libertarians or conservatives. He was implying that they are a tiny clique of insincere or hopelessly deluded hired guns, mere industry shills or cranks, unworthy of anyone’s attention.
    Jo Nova used the words “nothing like,” by which she really meant, obviously, “not ‘like’ in the ways McKnight is implying”: They are vastly more numerous, more spontaneous (not “recruited” as the smoking deniers mostly were), not nobodies, and some are Nobelists.
    You’ve unjustifiably taken her words in their literal sense and diverted the discussion onto a different matter—i.e., about a previously undiscussed feature in which the two groups are alike.
    What you should have said, if you wanted shift the discussion to a talk about political bias, was to do so explicitly, like this:

    “I concede your point that Nova was correct: the distinctions she made between the two groups refute McKnight’s attempt to conflate them. However, today’s skeptics do share one attribute with yesterday’s that should raise a yellow flag: their political orientation, which aligns well with the interests of those they serve, perhaps unwittingly, and just-so-happens to parallel the beliefs of the earlier “deniers” as well.” (Etc.)

    Incidentally, not all the influential people in the skeptical movement have a “free market ideology” or are Republicans or Conservatives. Those who don’t fall into that box include Stott in the UK, McIntyre, Corbyn, Watts (I read he was a one-time Democrat), the leading denier” in France (a big-time socialist), and no doubt dozens I’m unaware of. So that’s a weakness in implying “likeness” among skeptics.
    Nor should speaking at a free-market think-tank-sponsored event, or having had books published by them, equate to having “accepted tobacco money,” as you seem to imply. (I presume you mean here “industry money,” because the industry involved here would be oil or coal, not tobacco.) If you do, then speakers at events held by environmental organizations could be tarred with having accepted “Soros’s money” (or worse, in some cases). The accusation is overblown: the money wasn’t “industry money,” it was think-tank money. Accepting it isn’t something that only a libertarian ideologue would do. I.e., it’s likely that free market think tanks occasionally pay “mainstream” speakers and authors.
    Another point: Skeptical scientific research hasn’t been industry-funded for years, and not much of the research that supports the skeptical position has ever been so funded.
    ****************

    RK: “Every “spontaneous” movement or fad or trend or revolt involves some prompting. It’s a matter of degree.”

    BH: Definitely. In my view, the effort required to compile and collate the likes of the Oregon Petition belongs more under the category of “organised” than “spontaneous”.

    I believe (based mostly on a vague recollection of what I read years ago) that the Oregon Petition Project was a spontaneous, unfunded (or only trivially funded) effort by one or two persons (initially, anyway). I don’t believe there was any expensive or organized advertising + PR campaign to recruit signers. I’ve rarely seen links to it posted on WUWT. Signers mostly signed because they had an internal motivation to do so. So it was/is much more toward the grass-roots end of the spectrum than the AstroTurf end.
    *************
    Regarding the dispute over the skeptical movements’ spontaneity, let’s “look at the record” again:

    RK: “A small, lavishly funded clique is prima facie different from a large, unfunded (mostly), and largely spontaneous movement.”
    ………….
    BH: I also dispute the “largely spontaneous” claim. The Oregon petition, for example, is certainly not a matter of spontaneity, nor are Morano’s lists, and these are the ones that get the most airing in blogs.
    …………..
    RK: “Are you implying that, because Morano is getting paid by some free-market organization (presumably), the material he cites can be dismissed as the production of funded-denialism?”
    ………….
    BH: “No. I’m saying his collation of lists is organised rather than spontaneous. The value or otherwise of his lists lies in their content.”

    “Spontaneous” doesn’t mean unorganized or fleeting, as you imply; it means unprompted, or only lightly prompted. The organizer of the Petition Project and Morano aren’t hired guns who were recruited (prompted). They acted, unprompted, on the basis of their beliefs. So “spontaneous” is correct.
    (Naturally, Morano and others who are devoting full time to their fight sometimes seek funding. But so do environmentalists, and the origin of that movement was spontaneous, despite its organization and longevity.)
    Moreover, Morano’s lists aren’t the heart of what gets discussed in the skeptical blogosphere—certainly not on WUWT, where he’s rarely cited. He just spreads the news more efficiently than would be done without him. In his absence, word would still get around, via the scores of skeptical blog-site curators who link to one another, and the commenters who post links. It’s not as though he and his ilk are agitators who have fomented the skeptical movement.
    It’s the independent and mostly unfunded bloggers and their followers who are the power of the movement. They file FOIA requests, write letters to the editor and their representatives, set up websites or blogs, and post inconvenient comments on MSM sites. They not only dig up and discuss the skeptical implications of published science, they do lots of original research themselves. (E.g., McIntyre, Willis, Tisdale, Watts, Montford, Mosher/Fuller, and scores or even hundreds more.) No one is paying them to do it and they have nothing to gain thereby (barring a trivial amount some get in book royalties and speaking fees). They are far more spontaneous than the publish-or-perish emissions of PC-monitored, career-track academics.
    So “largely spontaneous” is correct. You can’t wish it away by saying that Morano is organized, funded, and much cited. He’s only 8% of the phenomenon. The Oregon petition is only 2%. They are a small part of the movement; it is largely an Amateurs’ affair.

  133. Roger Knights: “In other words, there is a qualitative difference between the skeptics of today and those of yore…”
    I understand that you are making a qualitative argument. Perhaps Jo Nova is too, although that’s not at all clear from the text. What is clear is a litany of numbers.
    “This was a red herring—i.e., an attempt to shift the argument to a debate about a different assertion: that today’s skeptics are politically biased.”
    It’s not a red herring. The ideological/political divide in both issues is strikingly similar, despite the line-up of some personnel. How important is it, and in what way? That’s a thesis-sized question, and it’s almost Christmas.
    “If you do, then speakers at events held by environmental organizations could be tarred with having accepted “Soros’s money”…”
    I know that argument could be made, which is one reason I haven’t been arguing on the funding.
    “It’s the independent and mostly unfunded bloggers and their followers who are the power of the movement.”
    Are climate sceptic bloggers unorganised? Take a hypothetical case. A blogger hears of an claimed injustice involving a commericial operation, environmentalists, and a local authority; proceeds to publish the case far and wide and urge followers to take the case to the public and lobby the politicans.
    Another blogger alerts readers to pending legislation, supplies contact details, and urges reades to lobby the politicians.
    Organised or spontaneous? The line is a fine one. On this matter, the funding issue is not relevant.

  134. Brendan H says:
    “As a man dedicted to the principle of free thought and speech, I reject…” & blah, blah, etc.
    This thread is getting old, and I’m moving on to above the fold. Have the last word, herbert. But it’s crystal clear that you talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.
    So talk away. Maybe you’ll even convince someone.

  135. Roger Knights: “In other words, there is a qualitative difference between the skeptics of today and those of yore…”

    BH: I understand that you are making a qualitative argument. Perhaps Jo Nova is too, although that’s not at all clear from the text. What is clear is a litany of numbers.

    But “quantity has a quality of its own.” I.e., it’s reasonable that a few scientists could be corrupt or crazy enough to be industry shill, and it’s reasonable that an industry could secretly corrupt and pay for a few such shills, but it’s not reasonable that such a large number would yield to the temptation or that if they would, that they could be recruited, in any practical sense. That implication should be “clear from the text.”

    RK: “This was a red herring—i.e., an attempt to shift the argument to a debate about a different assertion: that today’s skeptics are politically biased.”

    BH: It’s not a red herring. The ideological/political divide in both issues is strikingly similar, …

    It is a red herring, albeit a “thesis-sized question.” Googling define “red herring” brings up the following definitions (in the first hit):

    “any diversion intended to distract attention from the main issue.”
    “A distractor that draws attention away from the real issue.”
    ”Ignoratio elenchi (also known as irrelevant conclusion or irrelevant thesis) is the informal fallacy of presenting an argument that may in itself be valid, but does not address the issue in question.”

    The main issue, the real issue, and the issue in question—i.e., the one that Jo Nova was disputing with McKnight—had nothing to do with the political orientation of the tobacco & global warming skeptics. It had to do with whether they were industry shills or not. Your introduction of the question of their political orientation was a diversion from that issue.

    RK: “It’s the independent and mostly unfunded bloggers and their followers who are the power of the movement.”

    BH: Are climate sceptic bloggers unorganised? Take a hypothetical case. A blogger hears of an claimed injustice involving a commercial operation, environmentalists, and a local authority; proceeds to publish the case far and wide and urge followers to take the case to the public and lobby the politicians.
    Another blogger alerts readers to pending legislation, supplies contact details, and urges readers to lobby the politicians.
    Organised or spontaneous? The line is a fine one.

    That’s spontaneous, ad hoc coordination, similar to a flash-mob get-together, not organization. Organization implies structure and a hierarchy—i.e., organization implies an organization chart, even if not always written out. It also usually implies, for a large group, a permanent clerical and operational support staff, or secretariat. Etc. The gulf is a wide one.

    BH: On this matter, the funding issue is not relevant.

    Question: What is the “sinews of war” (and of any form of mass conflict)?
    Below is a reprint of a tidied-up version of my online article/comment, “Notes from Skull Island,” which addresses the issues of organization and funding:
    ============
    Notes From Skull Island:
    Brian Martin, in his wonderful online booklet Strip the Experts, at http://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/91strip.html wrote that if your opponents:

    “… have a financial interest in what they are promoting, exposing it can be very damaging.”

    This line of attack on skeptics has been very successful for the warmists in the past, which is why they constantly recur to it. But the recent skeptical attack has been mostly an indignant blogger-led populist revolt against increased and unnecessary taxation and regulation (fewer barbecues, etc.) and elitist presumption.
    If our side were well funded and well organized, it would have the following characteristics:
    1. There’d be a slick umbrella site like HufPo under which all dissident bloggers could shelter, cutting their costs, increasing ad revenue, and simplifying and standardizing the process of surfing the deviationist blogosphere, especially for visiting journalists. The effect would be to considerably “amplify” the dissenters’ voices.
    2. Failing that, there’d be enough $ for individual sites to ensure that, for instance, Climate Audit would have been able to handle to traffic-surge in the wake of Climategate, instead of being overwhelmed. (How’s that unpreparedness agree with “well organized”?)
    3. There’d be a PR agency to “package” stories emerging from the blogosphere and articles in scientific journals or contrarian columnists and feed them to media sources in easy-to-read, pre-edited form. (Or at least an unincorporated online network of funded individuals performing a PR function.) This is a topic that is so complex and filled with jargon that it desperately needs such pre-chewing to get the MSM to swallow it. But what do we have? Only Climate Depot, which provides leads, but no packaging. (Update: We now (finally!) have a professional weekly summary of the news, re-posted on WUWT, but it’s only a baby step.)

    As Mike Haseler wrote, “it’s blatantly obvious to me that the press need to be fed stories almost ready for publication, you can’t expect them to take highly technical writing and try and make sense of it!”

    BTW, another contra-factual is Climategate. There was no pre-planned media-coordination involved in the matter. There was no campaign to alert them to its importance, nor any professional packaging of the story for them. No one gave Fox a heads-up. As a result, MSM coverage of the event was nil.
    4. There’d be a centralized, regularly updated, annotated, topically divided, web-wide index of useful “ammo” skeptical or skeptic-supporting articles. If I, or anyone, were cat-herder in chief, this would be one of the top items on the agenda.
    5. There’d be a REPOSITORY for “quotes of the day” from blog commenters. (These get lost in the noise after a week or so otherwise.) Here’s an example, from Willis:

    “First, my thanks to all the prospective henchdudes and henchbabes out there, a map to my hollow volcano lair will be emailed to you as soon as I get one. Well-funded mercilessness roolz! I demand a volcano lair!”

    6. There’d be extensive book tours for every skeptical book published, to gain exposure in multiple markets via interviews in the local press, etc. Such tours could be extended for many months, well beyond any rational “payback” in book sales, if the real aim were to get media exposure – for instance by challenging local warmists to debates on the premises of the newspaper or broadcaster, etc. The funding for such a tour could easily be concealed.
    7. Certain fringe or off-topic comments would be “moderated” out, because they step on people’s toes and don’t play well in Peoria. E.g., New World Order theorizing, bolshy bashing, boot-the-UN and tar-and-feather-‘em remarks, and most attribution-of-motives comments. Populist “venting” of all sorts would be toned down; instead the stress would be on sweet reasonableness and out-reaching to the average citizen and opinion-leader. Any media pro would advise that course, especially one with a big funder behind him (who wouldn’t want to be tarred by association with tin-hat opinions (if news of a link ever came out)). Such a “mainstream” tone and mindset would be the fingerprint of any top-down campaign on a scientific topic.
    8. Not only would there be more stylistic similarity, but the content would be less idiosyncratic as well. There’d be evidence of a “script” or list of talking points that skeptic commenters were following, instead of the typical home-brew assemblage of arguments.
    9. There’d be an astro-turfed tag-team of high-stamina commenters assigned to Win the War for Wikipedia by out-shouting and out-censoring Connolly and Co. They’d also go en masse to Amazon and give warmist books a thumbs-down and engage in comment-combats there as well. But the dissenters in that venue have been an outnumbered, disorganized rabble.
    10. There’d be much more stress on arguments that would move the masses and that don’t take a degree to understand. I.e., arguments about the costliness, technical impracticality, and political unenforceability of mitigation strategies, and about the ineffectiveness of massive CO2 emission-reduction in the atmosphere even if all those obstacles were of no account.
    If skeptics were truly Machiavellian, or guided by political “pros” behind the scenes, they’d be hitting these popular hot buttons. They are where the warmists’ case is shakiest — and it’s always a good strategy to focus on the opponents’ weakest points and pound on them endlessly. Instead, these topics make up only 10% or so of the skeptical thrust. Most dissenters devote most of their energy to talking about weather events, dissing believers, and arguing about technical and scientific matters.
    11. There’d be an extensive online collection of opposition research, such as warmist predictions waiting to be shot down by contrary events. Such opposition research is so valuable a tactic (as is now being shown) that no political or PR consultant would have failed to insist on it.
    E.g., a score of warmist predictions of less snowfall would have been at hand to counter Gore’s claim that the models predicted more snowfall. Similarly, the IPCC’s Assessment Reports would have been scoured for flaws and nits long ago. Instead, it wasn’t until Glaciergate that we got on its case in any semi-organized fashion.
    12. There’d be an online point-by-point rebuttal of all the “How to Talk to A Skeptic” talking points, not just scattered counterpoints to a few of them. And there’d be a Wikipedia discussing those points and more in fuller detail. Lucy Skywalker is trying to assemble these, but it’s obviously an unfunded effort.
    13. The Oregon Petition Project would have been handled professionally. I.e., there’d have been no short-sighted tactics such as use of NAS-lookalike typography, no claim that the signers constituted “a meaningful representation” (let alone that the consensus was on the skeptics’ side), no claim that all the signers were scientists (when some were technologists and dentists, etc.), and no implication that the signers had all been vetted. A skilled propagandist, such as one hired by King Coal, would have avoided such a transparent over-reaching, which threw away the petition’s effectiveness by handing the opposition a chance to counterpunch effectively.
    14. There’d be a place for the reposting of the “highlights” of WUWT and other skeptic sites, and also such sites would have editors who would retroactively (after a month or so) do on-site flagging and/or highlighting of outstanding posts within those threads. This would encourage posters to do better and make it easier for newcomers and journalists to effectively skim our sites and notice our better arguments and facts.
    15. There’d be a reposting of “negative highlights” from warmists’ sites in which the unsavory qualities of their leading lights and hatchetmen were on display. Call it, maybe, “Quoted Without Comment” or “Get a Load of This.” It would make an impact on fence-sitters.
    16. There’d be a spiffy ad campaign consisting of short spots (20 to 40 seconds) that would focus on making one quick jab at the warmists. There should be a standard format for these ads, such as a common tag-line, music, lead-in, graphics style, etc. The touch should be light, with the aim of making the spots entertaining, such as by including little bits of silly rhymes, etc. The ads should also be “different,” to get around viewers’ defenses, and to make the message “sticky.” Care should be taken to avoid overstatement, and to make qualifications where necessary, to forestall counterpunches.
    17. There’d be a copy editing & peer review service to vet our side’s books prior to publication, since any flubs will be seized on by warmists to discredit the entire work, as happened to Plimer’s book. Instead, dissenting books continue to be produced in an amateurish fashion. For instance, in Steve Goreham’s just-out (and excellent) Climatism!, I found two obvious spelling errors in just an hour’s skimming. (“Forego” for “forgo” and “principle” used where “principal” was needed.)
    Big Oil? Baby Oil is more like it. Ologeneous overlords? My companions and I on Skull Island laugh until we vomit.

  136. PS: 18. We’d be conducting polls of various groups of scientists designed to offset the effect of such polls by the other side.

  137. Roger, that’s an excellent summation of how an anti-Climatist campaign should be organized, but this thread is, as Smokey said, “below the fold” and becoming invisible to most passers-by.
    I’d like to see Anthony elevate your little essay to a lead post, and see if some funding could be found to organize a team with paid staffers and a professional website to implement the program you have so neatly outlined.
    Hey, it’s not too late!
    /Mr Lynn

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