Science Publisher Calls for Better Communications – But Not of Science

Guest post by E. Calvin Beisner

Alan I. Leshner [Photograph by Colellaphoto.com]

Alan I. Leshner aaas.org

Alan Leshner is worried. It seems scientists are having a hard time getting the public to understand science, and since “Public understanding of science … contributes to the extent of support for scientific research,” something must be done.

Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Executive Publisher of its flagship publication, Science, wrote in a recent editorial, “There is no shortage of topics where policy-makers or other members of the public seem to persistently misunderstand, misrepresent, or disregard the underlying science: climate change, genetically modified foods, vaccines, or evolution, among others.”

Well, I guess two out of four isn’t too bad. I imagine his and my understandings of GMO and vaccines are reasonably alike. But on climate change and (naturalistic macro-) evolution (not to oversimplify and distort), I suspect his conclusions and mine differ dramatically—and I have a feeling that, in question-begging style, he assumes that my conclusions are wrong and his are right, and what’s needed is for him and other scientists to help me understand the science better.

Trouble is (focusing here just on climate change), the better I’ve understood the science on climate change (having read over 40 books on the science and over 30 on the economics, and scores of major papers and thousands and thousands of articles on each), the more convinced I’ve become that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) is false.

In fact, a careful scientific survey found that the more people know about the science, the less likely they are to believe in CAGW.

It seems likely, therefore, that Leshner will be disappointed in the results if scientists do become any better at communicating the science of climate change.

But a careful reading of his editorial suggests that that’s not what he’s really after anyway. After decrying scientists’ ineffectiveness at enlightening the public about the science of climate change, he writes,

Valuable studies have been carried out to discover what determines public attitudes toward science and technology, and some … point to an individual’s ideological views or cultural identity as having greater influence … than an understanding of the facts. Often, simply increasing public knowledge about an issue will not move the debate …. Instead, the way an issue is framed can have a larger effect on people’s views. As a case in point, many people will give more credit to the scientific claims about climate change when the issue is cast as a technological challenge than as a regulatory problem.

(I.e., with regard to that last sentence, if we beg the question of the reality of CAGW and just present people with the technological challenge of how to deal with it, we can avoid the problem of convincing them of its reality in the first place.)

It appears that what Leshner is really after is not better public understanding of science but particular public opinions about climate change and that he would be content to see scientists turn from facts to ideology, cultural identity, and framing to move public opinion on global warming—a dangerous but not uncommon view in our postmodern times, even in the science community, as I discussed in “Wanted for Premeditated Murder: How Post-Normal Science Stabbed Real Science in the Back on the Way to the Illusion of “Scientific Consensus” on Global Warming.”

That this would indeed satisfy Leshner his very next sentences confirm:

Science is complicated and often jargon-laden, so scientists may need help from a ‘translator’ to help tell a story simply and cogently. In doing so, the gist of the message is what matters. Here there is a lesson to be learned from antiscience [sic—note the question begging] forces, who regularly oversimplify science in very effective ways, even when distorting it.

Noting that “people care primarily about things that affect them personally or locally,” he adds, “thus, a useful approach is to determine what matters to a specific audience and seek a way to make the message relevant to them.”

Yes. Like telling kids who like furry polar bears that global warming is driving them extinct; or people on low-lying islands and seacoasts that global warming is driving sea levels upward faster than ever; or biodiversity champions that global warming threatens to drive half the world’s species extinct; or allergy-prone people that global warming’s cause, rising CO2, will cause the pollen that irritates them to multiply (to mention just four such tactics)—when the first three are false and the last is offset by the fact that pretty much all plants will grow better, meaning food will be cheaper.

The fact is, in my constant reading and conversations, I’ve found it far more common for CAGW true believers than critics to oversimplify and even distort the science. It’s the true believers who so readily resort to the claim, “Look, it’s basic physics. Greenhouse gases warm the planet, CO2 is a greenhouse gas, so more CO2 means more warmth.” They’re the ones who don’t like to get into the weeds of quantifying “climate sensitivity,” CO2’s logarithmic warming curve, the sign and magnitude of climate feedbacks, the multiple natural drivers of climate, whether and how much local land use change (especially urbanization) distorts “global” temperature readings, or any number of pesky details that falsify their intuitively sensible but false conclusion. They’ll discuss them, reluctantly, if pressed, but only then.

“Public understanding and support of science and technology have never been more important, but also never more tenuous,” Leshner says. Perhaps he’s right about the support, but I have a hunch public support for “science” (in this context, code for global warming alarmism) is tenuous precisely because public understanding of science is growing—thanks to “climate skeptics.”

E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., is Founder and National Spokesman of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, author of three books on environmental science, economics, ethics, and policy, and a member of the AAAS.

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GoodBusiness

To many times in my life have I been forced to debate Scientists in many fields and in the end those that support CAGW are chasing GRANT MONEY SO THEY CAN CONTINUE THEIR INCOME STREAM. Universities and NOAA, NASA all depend on grant money or they would be forced to lay off many PhD employees. There are zero private sector jobs for these individuals and they all know that fact. This is why they are so dogmatic.

When it comes to the inability of scientist’s views to be transmitted to the public, Leshner is
aiming at the wrong folks – it’s not the scientists as much as his fellow publishers of media or print that don’t even know enough about the science they are covering to ask intelligent questions of those scientists. And thoughtful scientists, regardless of their discipline, know that their particular science seldom has sufficient knowledge to enable positive, unequivocal statements, which
is, of course, what media types are looking for.

GlynnMhor

There is a host of self-centred and greedy ulterior motives different people have for supporting the AGW paradigm.
1- For researchers, once a paradigm becomes popular and dominant, it is career limiting to oppose it.
2- If the climate is presented as something about which governments can make policies, then government money will flow for research. If climate is something that we cannot affect, funding is not going to be as forthcoming.
3- Plus of course it gives researchers a good feeling to imagine that they’re working to save the world instead of, say, developing a new scent for feminine hygiene products.
4- Environmentalists see carbon emission control as a means to reduce real pollutants like NOx, SO2, Hg, etc. as a side effect.
5- Luddites see carbon strangulation as a way of dismantling the industrial economies to force everyone to a much reduced subsistence.
6- ‘Personal isolationists’ try to use AGW as a way to eliminate big utility companies, with power generated at home from wind, solar, or even car batteries, and even sold to the local grid at retail (or higher) rates.
7- EU trade isolationists see carbon regulation as a way of increasing the energy cost, and thus decreasing the competitiveness, of North American economies _vis a vis_ EU ones.
8- Opportunities to use carbon emissions as pretexts to block or heavily tariff imports abound, thus degrading international trade even further.
9- Local trade isolationists like the idea of overseas products becoming more expensive, and if they can’t do that by punitive tariffs and quotas, they hope to do so by artificially driving up shipping costs.
10- Various people see Kyoto-type agreements as a way of transferring wealth from developed economies to lesser ones, as our one-time Liberal cabinet minister Stewart once claimed.
11- Some also envision carbon strangulation as a pretext for involving governments deeply into the economy, via direct and indirect subsidies for energy alternatives that can claim to be ‘green’. Naturally, those who are involved and invested in such industries have their own greed factor.
12- Believers in Big Government also love the idea of sending governments even more of our money under any pretext, and use carbon taxes as a way to transfer even more money to people in lower income levels.
13- Some politicians see taking ‘the west’ off oil as a means of removing the dependence the US in particular has on politically uncertain sources.
14- Other politicans see ‘cap & trade’ or other quota management as a way to direct corruption to their buddies and relatives.
15- Nuclear energy proponents see carbon strangulation as a way to promote nuclear power.
16- Some people imagine that energy cost reductions will magically pay for, and even squeeze profit from, expensive carbon control technologies whose payback times are actually measured (when they aren’t just dead costs) in decades.
17- Opportunistic “businessmen” see the panic of the masses as an opportunity to solicit donations to so-called “non-profit” organizations or to operate carbon credit companies in order to enrich themselves financially.
18- Financial trading corporations like Goldman Sachs see carbon trading as an opportunity to generate a new financial bubble out of an inexistant commodity (carbon credits) with which to justify huge profits and staggering executive bonuses.
19- In politics it is generally held far more important to be consistent than it is to be right. Lies and errors about warming are thus propagated further, instead of being squelched, in order to bolster the political optics.

Doug Proctor

This could be 1499:
The Malafica Malificarum has been published, and the world is both alerted to the prevalence of witchcraft and its alarming spread. Other authors, like King James I of Scotland, write supportive work. Bishops, mayors and celebrity personalities insist that the non-witchcraft believers are themselves the enemies; lawyers who attempt to defend their clients are themselves persecuted. The word is out: we must explain clearly to the populace the dangers and get their active support in punishing the perpetrators.
Was there witchcraft? Certaintly there was. Was it significant? With some communities where the devil was a social reality, the “witches” were problematic. Today, is there a problem with fossil fuel plants? Near some coal mines and powerplants, certainly. If temperatures rise by 04C from the extra CO2 in the atmosphere? In places, yes. But like witchcraft, is the danger of CO2 more in the mind and hearts than in their lives of the world? Certainly.
The liberal, warmist appears to be a humanist without an understanding of history or the nature of personality, passion and proclivity to believing that which has a popular draw. Especially one that identifies an enemy Other. When the enemy Other turned to one’s own family and then, oneself, the witchcraft mania turned on its promoters. We can’t all be the bad guys. So, too, with the CO2 scare: when the Big Oil/Big Coal “Others” expands to include not just the Others who are rich (as it is starting in France with its proposal to tax based on wealth and energy usage) but each of us (as in the UK, where green energy stops the working poor from heating their homes), there will be no one left to be the Other. That is when this foolishness will stop.
I’m looking forward to the day when Al Gore and Jimmy Swaggart, Harold Camping and Jim Jones are considered in the same league – with the exception of Jim Jones, of course, who took his falsehoods beyond the grave. I don’t see Big Al doing the equivalent, which would be to put all his wealth in anti-CO2 projects To Save the World, because taking yourself as seriously as you want your followers to do is generally not done, even by prophets.

Nerd

It seems that the more I learn about things, the less seriously I take mainstream academia. That’s where the problem starts… they start to complain and that they have PhD and that we should just listen to them and nothing else. I found out the hard way in my sophomore year in college back in 1995-1996. Nutrition is my main thing so it’s pretty easy one for me to check into. For example, GMO wheat… they seem to do funky stuff to certain people. They send their blood sugar level skyrocket. See Wheat Belly Diet by cardiologist Mike Davis. If you don’t want to get plaque build up in the arteries, avoid wheat based food… There are plenty others that most don’t know about such as traditional cholesterol test being not very accurate and chronic high sugar blood directly responsible for heart disease.
For vaccines, I’ve spent many hours looking into them regarding autism, etc. It was a few years ago when someone brought up vitamin D deficiency. That made things much more clear… at last for me. I’ve always wondered by why a lot of parents claim that whenever their kids gets MMR shots, they notice that the kids’ health dramatically got worse but it’s only in small percentage so it wasn’t till recently that it was brought up that very low vitamin D deficiency may have had to do with that. Vitamin D is needed for proper immune system function. It has been shown that autism kids and their mothers have severe vitamin D deficiency. One big question… Is widespread vitamin D deficiency responsible for so many vaccines? Sun Scare and Saturated fat and cholesterol consumption scare is just as bad as CAGW, that’s for sure. Ironically, it all started with infant jaundice with my daughter. Turns out that pregnant mothers need much more vitamin D than recommended daily amount. (4000-5000 IU a day for pregnant mothers, for lactating mothers 6000-8000 IU a day; 600 IU a day is what is currently recommended; a cup of milk contains only 100 IU; full body exposure to midday summer sun for causausian gets 10,000-20,000 iu after 15-30 minutes without sunblock lotion ).

john robertson

These valuable studies are not referrenced to as far as I could see ,I followed the links from the original article, no studies listed.I see a social scientist wondering why propaganda only works in the short term.Proving to my satisfaction that any disipline calling itself science usually ain’t.

Richdo

GlynnMhor says:
October 20, 2012 at 3:12 pm
+1000
Well done Glynn.

Scott

I saw the picture to the right before starting to read the article and immediately recognized it as Alan Leshner. I saw him present at a conference held by the EPA 3 years ago. That presentation was such a joke…basically a bunch of propaganda about countering CAGW skeptics and the Intelligent Design movement. The only piece of science that I remember actually being shown in the presentation was the GISS global temp plot…nothing else. That talk of his was actually a major driver for me to start looking into the truth on these sorts of topics. If all the head of the AAAS could manage was a bunch of backbonelesss propaganda, then there had to be serious issues with the science.
-Scott

LazyTeenager

It’s really about respect for evidence and science’s core idea: no bullshit.
People don’t like evidence interfering with their favorite beliefs and will typically find 50 million excuses to ignore the evidence if it does.
A lot of people can’t handle the truth, they just wanna feel good.

Bill

Leshner’s degrees are in Psychology, although his Ph.D. is in physiological psychology so I guess that counts as a real science degree. This may explain his focus on how to get people to be convinced, i.e. his focus on psychology.

The problem for Alan Leshner and his fellow scientists is that taxpayers have been BS’ed for years by true masters of the art, the professional politician.
Science has no chance as soon as the start spouting opinion and policy in place of facts; it has stopped being science and become politics. With scientists then seen to be as honest as politicians.

Steve C

The main problem that Leshner and his ilk face is the sheer scale of scientific knowledge itself, quite apart from the range of inevitable disagreements in any given field. If you think back in time to, say, five centuries ago, it was possible for one educated man (pace those of a feminist persuasion, but it was men in those days) to hold in his mind the whole of human knowledge of scientific matters. Nowadays, it is virtually impossible for any of us even to keep fully up to date in our own particular interest, so great is the quantity of data and the variety of possible interpretations of it. To expect non-specialists to comprehend enough to make “intelligent” decisions about which projects are, or are not, worthy of public support is, simply, to ask too much. It just isn’t possible.
Allied with this – or maybe a direct consequence of it – is another human characteristic, namely the urge of those in power to use any and every lever in their reach to make the “ignorant masses” comply with their orders. Climate science is an obvious example of this, in that the negligible (IMO) effects of carbon dioxide acting to warm the surface of the planet are being amplified by monstrous exaggeration, so as to enable the Powers That Be to acquire a grip on the perfectly natural human requirement for energy and thereby increase their control over what goes on. For primitive societies, energy requirements amounted to little more than a campfire to cook food and animals for transport; for modern technological societies vastly more energy in various forms is required, for heating/cooling our buildings, keeping our transport and economic infrastructure running, ditto our newfound information infrastructure, and, and … By demonising “carbon”, all of this activity is suddenly controllable: it’s too good to ignore for the power-hungry.
The “precautionary principle” – if there might be an undesirable consequence of some activity, then ban it or control it with an iron rod – is the inevitable result. Few of us are in a position to question the underlying science in any field, and all the PTB need do is to ensure that the media and the scientific world amplify one alarmist view and suppress dissent. Given the ready availability of money at the “top”, this is trivially easy, and the rewards are immense in the amplification of their power. Any scientist who dares mention honest doubt is demonised, and won’t get the money to do the research which might prove him right. Get a few celebs on message, and the “Do As We Say Or You Will Destroy The Earth” message becomes universal in the culture. The PTB approach godhood; the rest become slaves.
So, Dr. Leshner, if you honestly want to improve science communication and encourage the flow of money into it, you need to start by making the availability of money for research completely independent of what that research shows – no matter that such independence must inevitably (and rightly) decouple science from the politics of control. You need to recast popular media coverage to show the public that all scientific knowledge is more or less tentative, and that there is considerable uncertainty in most fields. You need to re-educate the public, away from simplistic beliefs that A is Good and not-A is Evil and towards the open-minded view that there is infinite wonder and fascination in just “finding things out”, as the excellent Richard Feynman put it. That’s where science came from, and that’s where it must remain: all else is the technology and engineering of putting whatever effects are positively identified to use – and, in that process, to the potential benefit of both the human race and our economy. Should there be genuine ill effects, as inevitably there will be, don’t panic, but admit them, discuss them widely and honestly, and let us work out how best to do something to reduce them. Something will turn up.
In my own field – electronics – Maxwell started us off by just playing with mathematics. Hertz showed that his equations did, indeed, seem to relate to something real in the world. There followed spark communications, tuned circuits, the generation of stable carrier signals and their modulation with sound, then pictures, AM, FM, radar, digital … meanwhile, the underlying technology moved on from spark gaps to crystals, “firebottles”, semiconductors, chips – and the whole vast electronic infrastructure we enjoy today. Nobody a century or so ago could have foreseen the mindblowing expansion of electronics, yet today we take for granted stuff which would probably have got us burned at the stake in earlier times. Did I mention that it has become a huge sector of the world economy? If scientific research had been confined then to mere confirmation of some preconceived picture of How Things Have to Be, none of this would have happened, and We The People wouldn’t be talking here now, from around the world, about how to communicate science.
Let the scientists play, as freely as possible. Let the engineers and technicians enjoy improving things and adding “bells and whistles”. Let the public watch, wonder and want to know – and finance! – more, even join in if they have a talent or skill. Then, perhaps, science will flourish and all will benefit. Proceed with caution, sure, but realise that, by definition, we cannot know what is going to turn up next. In short, promote total openness, discard dogma and let’s see what happens. Make science fun, and it will communicate itself.

Ian L. McQueen

john robertson at 3:16 pm wrote (in part):
“I see a social scientist wondering why propaganda only works in the short term. Proving to my satisfaction that any disipline calling itself science usually ain’t.”
I read a persuasive short article that claimed that the word “social” negated the word that it modified, such as “social worker” and “social science”. The word “climate” is taking on some of these characteristics, such as “climate scientist”.
IanM

AndyG55

Gees, another darn phylospher/ psychologist..
Lewindowsky Mk II
Hint.. Learn some science, maths, physics etc…… then get back to us in a few years. !!

AndyG55

philosopher ! How the ???? did that other spelling get there !!!
mixamafingis !!!

pat

LinkedIn: Rosalind Pidcock: Science Writer – University of the West of England
I currently write news articles and special reports on emerging areas in science and environmental research, as part of several European Commission projects. I also write freelance, most recently for BBC online and AAAS Science Careers.
I am also a freelance copy editor, specialising in the preparation of primary scientific and medical research papers for journal submission…
April 2011 – Present (1 year 7 months)
Researching and writing regular news articles, features and reports for Science for Environment Policy – a free European Commission news service for researchers and policymakers.
http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/rosalind-pidcock/38/758/a75
since David Rose’s Daily Mail/Met Office article appeared, virtually no MSM has covered the story, but all the usual suspects get prominence in google searches attempting to debunk what the Rose article reported and the Met Office, Phil Jones and Judith Curry agreed on.
on “The Carbon Brief” website, Roz Pidcock points to the following – ThinkProgress, Guardian, SkepticalScience, Media Matters, Bob Ward, Potholer – in an attempt to debunk the Met Office’s own data. only one comment below the article:
19 Oct: Carbon Brief: Roz Pidcock: This week’s top six rebuttals to David Rose’s “warming has stopped” claim
COMMENT: Terrible Carbon Brief. These are a collection of ad hominem attacks – potholer for instance doesn’t even look at the technical details of the graph, and why don’t you quote Judy Curry who writing in her blog says that the Guardian’s analysis is shallow, or that in their blog the Met Office actually agreed with David Rose.
Shallow, partisan, biased, uninformed, one-sided. Judy Curry is right – you ought to raise your game, though I don’t suppose many people read this anyway.
http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2012/10/this-weeks-top-six-rebuttals-of-david-roses-warming-has-stopped-claims
The Carbon Brief – About Us
We are grateful for the funding and support provided by the European Climate Foundation. Carbon Brief’s Director, Tom Brookes, is director of the Energy Strategy Centre (ESC) the communications unit funded by the European Climate Foundation (ECF)…
Christian Hunt heads up Carbon Brief and writes about science and energy in the media. He previously worked as an editor for Greenpeace and as a researcher for the Public Interest Research Centre. He holds an MA in Conflict Resolution, and a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy from the University of York.
Robin Webster covers energy policy and analysis. She holds an MSc in Conservation from University College London (UCL) and previously studied biology at Bristol University. She worked for Friends of the Earth for six and half years, including as a Senior Campaigner on Climate and Energy, and has worked as a freelance environmental researcher…ETC
http://www.carbonbrief.org/about

johanna

Excellent comments above.
Might I add, I agree with Anthony that the examples he chose are tendentious. The reason that vaccination is widely accepted in the general and scientific community is that it demonstrably works. Not 100%, not in every individual example, but overall. People believe their ‘lying eyes’, not what some charlatan or nutcase with an axe to grind is spouting. That doesn’t mean that vaccination science shouldn’t be kept under a laser beam of scrutiny, as there have certainly been mistakes in the past (and will be in the future).
The problem with the brand of climate science that he espouses is that it doesn’t ‘work’ in that way, at all. Pretty much every major prediction – accelerating sea level rises, more extreme weather events, even noticeably rising temperatures – has not happened.
As a long time observer of politics, the sign of a failing government is always that it blames poor communication for its slumping fortunes. As soon as they start talking like that, you know they are on the way out. They have lost the plot, and the battle for hearts and minds.

AlexS

So the boss of a scientific publication want to imply certainty for a science that only started recently.
That is very unscientific.

David Ball

This attempt to colour skeptics as being somehow “defective” is frightening to the core. They want skeptics silenced, whereas I just want them to provide convincing scientific evidence. Evidence that when examined doesn’t have;
a)-giant gaping holes or umpteen weasel words in it,
b)-cherry picked time series,
c)- foreshortened graphs that mislead as to severity of warming,
d)-ignores other long established evidence (historical records or geologic evidence)
Why do they so desperately need us to be silenced? History shows that people who want to silence others do not have good things in store for anyone. We are not as civilized or advanced if this is what academia and politics is trying to do. Free speech is more precious and tenuous than many understand.

R2DTOO

The premise of the desire to communicate effectively with the public is well-founded. The problem with the current debate is that those who communicate have decided what the message should be, and the spin often loses the “science”. It is sad to see those who are in charge of science groups and organization feel compelled to become the spin-doctors. The most disconcerting aspect of the CAGW issue is that the academies and other “scientific” organizations have taken a position and have been used by those with other agendas to forward political goals. I was most dismayed with recent article on how many major U.S. universities have made the teaching of “sustainable development” a core thread that runs throughout their curriculums. The concept itself is fine, but lends itself to political machinations that completely over-ride the science involved. We used to teach “conservation”, or the wise use of resources. It was done without installing the fear that pervades the same subject matter today. Yet, it involved the same basic principles. Further, it instilled in students the need to continue learning because they were aware of the outcomes of poor management of resources. What is happening today teaches students that we have all the answers and must act now. One can quit learning when they have all the answers.

pat

hard to communicate well when you are too afraid to even state the amount of money involved and WWF is doing the maths:
20 Oct: AFP: World pledges more money to protect biodiversity
HYDERABAD, India — Efforts to stem the worrying loss of Earth’s dwindling natural resources received a boost Saturday when a UN conference in India agreed to double biodiversity aid to poor countries…
No figures were mentioned, but there was consensus among observer groups that a doubling of government biodiversity aid from developed countries to poor ones should yield an annual figure of about $10 billion (8 billion euros)…
Green group WWF said about $200 billion must be invested in biodiversity every year if the targets are to be met.
***”What’s been agreed in Hyderabad represents less than half this number,” it said in a statement and called the deal “disappointing”.
The conference awarded the next CBD meeting in 2014 to South Korea…
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jfeCvOgAeqWJrFUWU1wbrww7MQMw?docId=CNG.b7dfa8827efa1304946f2c4bf11836b5.e91
20 Oct: Economic Times: UN meet: Developed countries agree to double funds for biodiversity
Using a baseline figure of the average annual national spending on biodiversity between 2006 and 2010, developed countries said they would double biodiversity-related international financial flows by 2015.
According to sources, this means $12 billion would be available every year for biodiversity conservation as against the average $6 billion per annum earmarked between 2006 and 2010…
However, the task on hand is still huge with India-UK High Level Panel chaired by environmental economist Pavan Sukhdev, estimating that $150 billion to $440 billion per annum is required to meet the targets…
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/environment/developmental-issues/un-meet-developed-countries-agree-to-double-funds-for-biodiversity/articleshow/16888597.cms

“But on climate change and (naturalistic macro-) evolution (not to oversimplify and distort), I suspect his conclusions and mine differ dramatically”
Ah, that’s because his conclusions are based on the best scientific evidence and yours are based on your ideological and religious beliefs.
How much, I wonder, do Anthony and the commenters here agree with the statement of the group that Beisner has founded: “We believe Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence —are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory.” ( http://www.cornwallalliance.org/articles/read/an-evangelical-declaration-on-global-warming/ )
Interesting bedfellows you have! And, to think that people around here object so strongly when I note the obvious connections and analogies between “AGW skeptics” and “evolution skeptics”!

Noting that “people care primarily about things that affect them personally or locally,” he adds, “thus, a useful approach is to determine what matters to a specific audience and seek a way to make the message relevant to them.”
Yes. Like telling kids who like furry polar bears that global warming is driving them extinct; … or biodiversity champions that global warming threatens to drive half the world’s species extinct; or allergy-prone people that global warming’s cause, rising CO2, will cause the pollen that irritates them to multiply…”

I think the author caught Leshner with his hand in the cookie jar here. It is a call for focused advertisement to targeted audiences. So if a climate scientist wants to know, “Soooo, what’s your worst nightmare? Got any weaknesses? Any weird phobias?” just don’t answer him.

William

Alan Leshner needs to more clearly articulate his concern, his worry. The RealClimate blog which is a who’s who of climategate and climategate connected scientists and the media parrots are having a hard time getting people to believe the propaganda message. The real problem, the 1000lb guerrilla in the room, is the science does not support the extreme warming paradigm. That is the reason for climategate. The lack of observational evidence to support the extreme warming paradigm is the reason for the recent attempt to appeal to extreme weather (hot, cold, wet, dry, windy, and so on) as evidence for extreme AGW.
Sensitivity and Its Implications
The extreme AGW movement has a significant logical problem and a media message problem. Unaltered data and unbiased analysis does not support the extreme AGW paradigm. Lindzen and others, have unequivocally shown that the planet resists warming due to increased CO2 in the atmosphere by increasing cloud cover in the tropics thereby reflecting more sunlight off in to space, which is called negative feedback. If there is negative feedback as opposed to amplification (positive feedback) a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will result in less than 1C warming. The IPCC have stated that there goal is to limit the planet’s warming due to atmospheric CO2 increases to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 to 2C. Mission accomplished. A doubling of at atmospheric CO2 will result in less than 1C warming.
http://www.johnstonanalytics.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/LindzenChoi2011.235213033.pdf
On the Observational Determination of Climate Sensitivity and Its Implications
Richard S. Lindzen and Yong-Sang Choi
We estimate climate sensitivity from observations, using the deseasonalized fluctuations in sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and the concurrent fluctuations in the top-of-atmosphere (TOA) outgoing radiation from the ERBE (1985-1999) and CERES (2000- 2008) satellite instruments. Distinct periods of warming and cooling in the SSTs were used to evaluate feedbacks. An earlier study (Lindzen and Choi, 2009) was subject to significant criticisms. The present paper is an expansion of the earlier paper where the various criticisms are taken into account. … …We again find that the outgoing radiation resulting from SST fluctuations exceeds the zerofeedback response thus implying negative feedback. In contrast to this, the calculated TOA outgoing radiation fluxes from 11 atmospheric models forced by the observed SST are less than the zerofeedback response, consistent with the positive feedbacks that characterize these models. ….
…The heart of the global warming issue is so-called greenhouse warming. This refers to the fact that the earth balances the heat received from the sun (mostly in the visible spectrum) by radiating in the infrared portion of the spectrum back to space. … ….However, warming from a doubling of CO2 would only be about 1oC (based on simple calculations where the radiation altitude and the Planck temperature depend on wavelength in accordance with the attenuation coefficients of well mixed CO2 molecules; a doubling of any concentration in ppmv produces the same warming because of the logarithmic dependence of CO2’s absorption on the amount of CO2) (IPCC, 2007). This modest warming is much less than current climate models suggest for a doubling of CO2. Models predict warming of from 1.5oC to 5oC and even more for a doubling of CO2. Model predictions depend on the ‘feedback’ within models from the more important greenhouse substances, water vapor and clouds. Within all current climate models, water vapor increases with increasing temperature so as to further inhibit infrared cooling.
Planetary Observations do not support the extreme AGW paradigm.
http://joannenova.com.au/2012/10/man-made-global-warming-disproved/
Observations show major flaws
1. The missing heat is not in the ocean 8 – 14
2. Satellites show a warmer Earth is releasing extra energy to space 15 -17
3. The models get core assumptions wrong – the hot spot is missing 22 – 26, 28 – 31
4. Clouds cool the planet as it warms 38 – 56
5. The models are wrong on a local, regional, or continental scale. 63- 64
6. Eight different methods suggest a climate sensitivity of 0.4°C 66
7. Has CO2 warmed the planet at all in the last 50 years? It’s harder to tell than you think. 70
8. Even if we assume it’s warmed since 1979, and assume that it was all CO2, if so, feedbacks are zero — disaster averted. 71
9. It was as warm or warmer 1000 years ago. Models can’t explain that. It wasn’t CO2. (See also failures of hockey sticks) The models can’t predict past episodes of warming, so why would they predict future ones?
http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/McKitrick-hockeystick.pdf
What is the ‘Hockey Stick’ Debate About?
… At the political level the emerging debate is about whether the enormous international trust that has been placed in the IPCC was betrayed. The hockey stick story reveals that the IPCC allowed a deeply flawed study to dominate the Third Assessment Report, which suggests the possibility of bias in the Report-writing… …The result is in the bottom panel of Figure 6 (“Censored”). It shows what happens when Mann’s PC algorithm is applied to the NOAMER data after removing 20 bristlecone pine series. Without these hockey stick shapes to mine for, the Mann method generates a result just like that from a conventional PC algorithm, and shows the dominant pattern is not hockey stick-shaped at all. Without the bristlecone pines the overall MBH98 results would not have a hockey stick shape, instead it would have a pronounced peak in the 15th century. … ….Of crucial importance here: the data for the bottom panel of Figure 6 is from a folder called CENSORED on Mann’s FTP site. He did this very experiment himself and discovered that the PCs lose their hockey stick shape when the Graybill-Idso series are removed. In so doing he discovered that the hockey stick is not a global pattern, it is driven by a flawed group of US proxies that experts do not consider valid as climate indicators. But he did not disclose this fatal weakness of his results, and it only came to light because of Stephen McIntyre’s laborious efforts…. … In other words, MBH98 and MBH99 present results that are no more informative about the millennial climate history than random numbers. …

D Böehm

More Joel Shore projection: labeling WUWT readers as ‘ideologues’. Shore is, and has always been the ideologue. Too bad his boy is going down in flames. ☺

markx

I don’t think it is possible to legitimately claim any “parallel” in discussions on two entirely different sciences at very different stages of development and knowledge.
Knowledge in the one area commenced with recorded observations and statistical records going back at least three centuries. From that a basic but risky solution evolved, which was in use for almost a century. Statistics of risk and success were researched, recorded and discussed. Further observations led to further experimentation which provided a much better solution with a much more acceptable level of safety. Since then the science has evolved hugely, with a massive amounts of statistical data from controlled trials and epidemiological studies and in almost every situation, responses, protection rates, risks and side effects can be known with reasonable precision.
In the above case, people who argue against the benefits of ‘the science’ must ignore the vast amount of statistical data and the detailed scientific knowledge of the mechanisms involved.
On the other hand, with the topic of AGW and climate change, we have a science which has put forward a plausible theory, ‘proven’ it by computer modelling, and is in the early stages of data collection.
In this second case, people who argue ‘the science is settled, we already know this to be true’ must rely on circumstantial evidence and ignore the fact that little has been proven.
And that does not lead me to think we should at this stage do nothing, but we certainly won’t benefit from simply acting for the sake of acting.
If the science is strong enough it will benefit by its discussion and soon enough provide sufficient evidence under the focused gaze of researchers.

u.k.(us)

I’m here for information.
How it is processed is beyond my control.
Synapses can not be reasoned with.

markx

…..But given my background in biological sciences and my understandings of genetics and evolution, the original author and I would likely disagree quite strongly on some other areas of science:
E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., is Founder and National Spokesman of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation,

Skiphil

Actually, Leshner’s idea of “communication” is fear mongering:
Leshner hyperventilates to all AAAS members in 2007

date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 04:13:11 -0400 (EDT)
from: “Alan I. Leshner, CEO, AAAS”
subject: AAAS Advances
…..
Message to Members
ADDRESSING CRITICAL CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUES
[emphasis added]
Dear AAAS Member,
Glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, extreme weather is increasing–scientific
evidence is clear and scientific leadership is critical to dealing with global energy and
climate problems.

p.s. Leshner’s warm endorsement of John Holdren’s “tithing” 10% proposal (see email at link), a religious practice being introduced to the AAAS membership, is a reminder that enviro-activists are often religious in orientation, not scientific

joeldshore

D Boehm says

More Joel Shore projection: labeling WUWT readers as ‘ideologues’.

So, are you saying that you agree with Beisner’s assessment regarding the science of evolution? Or, does he just happen to be completely off-base on evolution but right about AGW?

GlynnMhor

Joel Shore writes of: “… God’s intelligent design…”
Not many people anywhere believe in that kind of stuff, and among those intelligent enough to examine critically the state of ‘climate science’, an even lower percentage.
The reality remains that the predictions of the CO2 alarmism are simply not coming to pass. Global temperatures are just not rising as CO2 rises, much less at rates that might be seen as alarming.

markx

GlynnMhor says: October 20, 2012 at 3:12 pm
“…..There is a host of self-centred and greedy ulterior motives different people have for supporting the AGW paradigm. …..”
Brilliant post Glynn, and very important.
Every time I get involved in a debate on this it soon devolves into; “So you think all the world’s climate scientists and governments are involved in a giant conspiracy to …etc…”
And I always answer; “No, I don’t believe there is a conspiracy at all, or that it wold be possible to make one on that sort of scale. All it takes is a whole lot of parallel self interests which will benefit from the solutions and actions which are proposed”.
And Glynn lists them all very nicely.

David L. Hagen

E. Calvin Beisner
Thanks for shining the light on Alan Leshner’s assertions that foundationally undermine the very science he purports to support. We the People retain the right of nullification – of ignoring or “nullifying” policies or laws contrary to foundational unalienable rights and constitutional protections. Dressing tyranny up in scientific sounding garb does not make it any less tyrannical.
PS Thanks for the Cornwall Alliance and the articles posted.

markx

GlynnMhor says: October 20, 2012 at 3:12 pm
“…..There is a host of self-centred and greedy ulterior motives different people have for supporting the AGW paradigm. …..”
Brilliant post Glynn, and very important.
Every time I get involved in a debate on this it soon devolves into; “So you think all the world’s climate scientists and governments are involved in a giant conspiracy to …etc…”
And I always answer; “No, I don’t believe there is a conspiracy at all, or that it wold be possible to maek one on that sort of scale. All it takes is a whole lot of parallel self interests which will benefit from the solutions and actions which are proposed”.
And Glynn lists them all very nicely.

Mike Smith

Time and time again I have noticed that those who lean to port (in science, politics, or whatever) invariably believe that any and all dissent from their position is due to the failure of the dissenter to comprehend the message.
The consensus of the anointed who support the position is considered to be an inviolate and unquestionable proof of the fact.
Once it becomes clear the dissenter is both informed and competent, he or she much be awarded a derogatory label. Favorites are denier, racist, Nazi, etc.
It’s really, really, tiresome.

Louis

There is a big difference between “telling” people that the planet’s temperature is increasing at an accelerating rate and “showing” people that it is. One is propaganda and the other is science. So many of these advocates look for an easy way to do the former without having to do the latter. Either they can’t do it, or they’re too lazy to do the work required. People would believe them if they could provide solid evidence. But they say that waiting until warming becomes obvious to everybody will be too late. They just want us to trust them. But I’m not willing to do that because it’s clear that they want us to believe in the catastrophic nature of global warming whether it’s true or not.
It’s also clear that many of them (e.g. Hansen, Gore, Mann, etc.) are using global warming as a means to an end — It’s for “the cause” (whatever that is). It makes me very suspicious that they are using global warming as an excuse to thrust extreme environmentalism, global governance, or some other pet cause down our throats. Even for those without a “cause”, if they make their living off government, they will naturally want more of it.
They want us to believe that the choice is between allowing government, under their expert direction, to do something to stop global warming, or allowing millions to die in warming related catastrophes. If those are my only choices, I still choose the latter. Doing something to stop global warming means placing severe limits on the use of fossil fuels. That is a certain prescription for the death of millions, especially if the climate cools. So until I know that warming will do more harm than good, I’ll place my bet on a warming planet. And rather than spend trillions to stop something that may be unstoppable or may even be beneficial, I’d rather wait and see what happens. Then, if necessary, we can use that money to help us adapt to whatever comes our way. That seems to be a more prudent path than the one people with vested interests want to sell us.

Well markx why don’t you complete the job and look at his book titles as well.
“Science” has long been dedicated to a paradigm which essentially says that blind chance working through chaos and deep time are the highest laws which give the order we see around us, and on which our lives depend.
Others believe that the highest laws which govern reality are Good and Truth. These give order as well as a constant, wonderful progress to the material world and to our own lives. Inexorably.
It is neither unscientific nor irrational to regard the Laws of the Universe differently than we are taught in school. In fact, it is a protected right, enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

GlynnMhor

markx suggests: “… a plausible theory, ‘proven’ it by computer modelling…”
Computer modelling tells us about the assumptions and hypotheses built into the algorithms of the models… but models cannot ‘prove’ anything about the real world.
At best a model whose predictions continue to come to pass means that the underlying science has not been disproved by the comparison.
In Science, hypotheses make predictions (possibly via model results) and are tested against those predictions.
When the predictions fail, however, the hypotheses, assumptions and/or algorithms of the models need to be re-examined.
At present things are so bad with the CAGW hypothesis that what sustains the paradigm is more Political Correctness than actual science.

KTWO

GlynnMohr@3:12 gives a thoughtful list . Well done.
Recently I have been thinking about:
(1) The more science depends upon government funding and approvals the more science will function like government.
(2) The essence of government is to rule, not to discover.
(3) We are rapidly approaching (1) in nearly every field.

D Böehm

Joel Shore,
I am saying that if it were not for psychological projection, you wouldn’t have much to say. You impute your own faults onto everyone else, like a thief believing everyone else is a thief, or a liar believing everyone else is lying.

markx

GlynnMhor says: October 20, 2012 at 8:32 pm
markx suggests: “… a plausible theory, ‘proven’ it by computer modelling…”
Glynn, note proven was in inverted commas … we are in agreement…

joeldshore

D Boehm says:

I am saying that if it were not for psychological projection, you wouldn’t have much to say. You impute your own faults onto everyone else, like a thief believing everyone else is a thief, or a liar believing everyone else is lying.

In other words, you don’t want to answer my simple question. The author of this article believes certain things about evolution and God that are, as the Cornwall Declaration makes abundantly clear, fundamentally linked to his views on AGW. All I am asking is for you to explain what parts of his viewpoint you agree with and what parts you reject and why, if you reject part of his viewpoint so strongly, you think that it doesn’t fundamentally undermine the rest of what he has to say?

RockyRoad

I think Alan Leshner is worried because he no longer controls the dialogue about climate; none of the “climatologists” do. Check out the blog stats for WUWT which currently shows 128,741,735 views. I come here frequently, but I haven’t picked up a copy of Science in years–and don’t plan on it, either–and I’m sure I’m not alone.
I don’t even bother to check out their site ’cause this is far more interesting. So I think this is audience envy–I’m not sure what Science even talks about nowadays but I bet they haven’t had 128 million readers since WUWT started.
I also get the impression that Mr. Leshner would use an editorial whip to keep us all on The Path to Climate Enlightenment–his path, if he could. Let’s hope he doesn’t find or isn’t given one.

markx

Zeke says: October 20, 2012 at 8:29 pm
“Well markx …..”
Zeke. Thank you for your Viewpoint. Viewpoints I can respect. But there are some I do not necessarily see any logic in, nor agree with.

joeldshore

GlynnMohr says:

Not many people anywhere believe in that kind of stuff, and among those intelligent enough to examine critically the state of ‘climate science’, an even lower percentage.

Well, then why publicize the views on climate science of those who do and who in fact explicitly link their views on climate science and intelligent design together? And, you might want to look at the list of the signers of the Cornwell Alliance statement ( http://www.cornwallalliance.org/blog/item/prominent-signers-of-an-evangelical-declaration-on-global-warming/ ), who include such illustrious scientists of the AGW skeptic movement as Roy Spencer and David Legates.

Sarcasm

Re: Evolution
It is possible to have doubts. E.g. Famous atheist Dawkins eventually arrive titled on the premise that alien creators were as likely as random chance. I’m not a fan anymore, but I was for a time. To reach the conclusion that theological creationists are morons, you must begin with the assumption that there is no reasonable creator. Then you must simplify away non-theological creators with philosophical concepts like Occam’s razor. Foresight of the desired result drives trade offs from the start. Let’s stop labeling others stupid because they start with different assumptions.

RockyRoad

Joel Shore says:
October 20, 2012 at 7:32 pm


Ah, that’s because his conclusions are based on the best scientific evidence and yours are based on your ideological and religious beliefs.

Oh, baloney, Joel. CAGW is one of the biggest religions on the planet, and one of the best funded! A real scientist, by definition, is a skeptic. Anyone who studies climate and claims otherwise is a religious acolyte of CAGW.
(You can always tell the worshippers–they hide their data and methodology. Does anyone come to mind?)

D Böehm

Rocky Road says:
“Oh, baloney, Joel. CAGW is one of the biggest religions on the planet, and one of the best funded! A real scientist, by definition, is a skeptic. Anyone who studies climate and claims otherwise is a religious acolyte of CAGW.”
Repeated for effect.

Jeff Alberts

Interesting bedfellows you have! And, to think that people around here object so strongly when I note the obvious connections and analogies between “AGW skeptics” and “evolution skeptics”!

Non-sequitur.
I am a CAGW skeptic (note the “C”), but I find Evolution plausible. I’m sure on the other side of the fence you have those who don’t find Evolution plausible (or believe strongly in God) but feel CAGW is happening now. One stance doesn’t obviate the other.

markx

Joel Shore says: October 20, 2012 at 7:32 pm
“…..Ah, that’s because his conclusions are based on the best scientific evidence and yours are based on your ideological and religious beliefs…..”
C’mon Joel. You know that is a lazy approach to debate. Just because a man holds some weird, dogmatic, ‘religious’ beliefs in one area does not mean he cannot perceive the scientific evidence clearly in another field.
In fact, most CAGW proponents show exactly the same kind of belief in dogma, not even taking the reasonable approach of, “Hey, CAGW is one plausible theory, let’s monitor and assess it fully!” Instead, all we get is; “This is a fact, “proven” by …. computer modeling!”
Followed by; “We must do something! Anything! But we must do it now!”