Quote of the Week: rationalizing deceptive practices in 'Tabloid Climatology'

I would not have believed this if I didn’t see it in print. It’s another example of the playbook pioneered by the late Dr. Steven Schneider. Bolding mine.

“This is a Sophie’s Choice: If we respond to the moral imperative to raise public awareness and alarm about climate, we have to be deceptive.

If we are committed to truth and scientific accuracy, we have to talk in hedged, caveat-filled, probabilistic language that is utterly ineffectual in reaching and activating a tuned-out public.” -David Roberts, Grist

http://grist.org/climate-energy/hawks-vs-scolds-how-reverse-tribalism-affects-climate-communication/

h/t to Tom Fuller

UPDATE: 11/2/12 On Twitter, David Roberts is claiming that I’ve misrepresented his position, and called me a “hack” for printing this.

David Roberts David Roberts
@drgrist
@wattsupwiththat I called it a “false dichotomy.” You presented it as my view. Don’t blame your hackery on me.

I replied that the article was misleading:

Watts Up With That Watts Up With That @wattsupwiththat 01 Nov
@drgrist then learn not to write misleading articles
Watts Up With That Watts Up With That @wattsupwiththat 01 Nov
@drgrist if you have a disclaimer, such as should have been with original, happy to add it. Post stays because your wrote those words, notme

David Roberts David Roberts
@drgrist
@wattsupwiththat I didn’t do enough to prevent your misunderstanding, so you’re sticking with it?
Watts Up With That Watts Up With That @wattsupwiththat 01 Nov
@drgrist just add disclaimer that you don’t endorse what u wrote in that para to ur article, assuming isn’t insult re: this, I’ll add it.

David Roberts David Roberts
@drgrist
@wattsupwiththat It’s not my job to correct your posts. You know it’s wrong & misleading. You can choose to leave it up or not.

From my perspective, it looks more like he’s embarrassed about it after the fact, maybe because he was getting some flak. The problem with his argument is that his “false dichotomy” statement is three paragraphs above the one where he talks about the “Sophie’s Choice” and to me there’s not an obvious statement that he doesn’t believe what he wrote.

My offer is that if he wants to distance himself from that paragraph, he can add a disclaimer or clarification, and I’ll be happy to follow up with that here. I think it is a fair offer.

Why don’t I believe him about his “Sophie’s Choice” paragraph as not being his view? it has a lot to do with statements like this:

Grist Magazine’s staff writer David Roberts called for the Nuremberg-style trials for the “bastards” who were members of what he termed the global warming “denial industry.”

Roberts wrote in the online publication on September 19, 2006, “When we’ve finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we’re in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards — some sort of climate Nuremberg.” (http://gristmill.grist.org/print/2006/9/19/11408/1106?show_comments=no )

Source: http://epw.senate.gov/fact.cfm?party=rep&id=264568

When a person has tendency to make such hateful and outlandish claims, one tends to believe that he’d make another similar claim, especially since he has not retracted his Nuremberg claim.

If Mr. Roberts does not believe what he wrote about “Sophie’s Choice” I’ll happily issue a correction here if he makes a caveat, disclaimer, or clarification to that effect on his own article.

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DirkH

NOBODY expects the warmist inquisition! Our two weapons are: Deception, Cunning, and an almost fanatical devotion to the pope. Wait… our THREE weapons are…

David, UK

AW: I would not have believed this if I didn’t see it in print.
Really? I thought we sceptics had become quite jaded to this kind of talk and behaviour by now.
REPLY: It is one thing to say that in private (which I expect happens often) it is quite another to put it to print – Anthony

TinyCO2

They prove daily how little tangible evidence they have to show the public. They’re reduced to scaring the public like fire and brimstone preachers.

Gary Pearse

Hmmm… and how has Sophie’s choice been working out for you so far? You have lied, cheated, exaggerated, threatened, terrorized and de-educated children, predicted deaths of billions, and extinction of half or more of the species of the land and oceans. It has been so bad that it is impossible for a decent person to visualize how you are going to make this worse. And now you say, “No more Mr. Niceguy”! Oh, and scientists will have to stop doing science.

Mr. Paul Milligan

…and a fanatical devotion to Pope Neil deGrasse Tyson

John in NZ

Or in other words,
“The evidence isn’t good enough so we will have to lie.”

Pull My Finger

Ironically the more journalists and celebrity-climatologists push the “scientists-sez so don’t dare argue, dummy” meme the more the public realizes they are dealing with soft, psuedo-scientist types more akin to Freud and Margaret Meade than people like Einstein and Hubble. CAGW is simply not supported by any data at this point and the only way to “sell it” is to sell the mass hysteria like self-pleasuring will make you blind or you can get AIDS by using the same drinking fountain as gay people.

NeedleFactory

Speaking of Steven Schneider: Can anyone confirm/disconfirm that he was once on the Board of Directors of PBS? Years ago (in the ’80’s or early ’90’s) I heard a rumor that he had disallowed a movie about climate to be shown on PBS. I have never been able to confirm/disconfirm the rumor. The movie was skeptical of climate warming (even back then!) and explained how the four (or five?) “pillars” supporting climate warming were false. I recall the movie being produced by the BBC, showing how things can change.

Mike Smith

You thinkers are too stupid to see!
And these same progressive liberals blast Christians for being self-righteous, dogmatic, control freaks obsessed with imaginary nonsense…

This is not new and it is not surprising. This is the language of the True Believer and it goes back to our most ancient ancestors. It is used by the True Believers in any and all theology and ideology since people started getting organized in communities. It should surprise no one.

Gary Pearse

“It is journalistically irresponsible to present both sides as if it were a question of balance. Given the distribution of views, with groups like the National Academy of Science expressing strong scientific concern, it is irresponsible to give equal time to a few people standing out in left field.
T]he overall weight of evidence” of global warming “is so clear that one begins to feel angry toward those who exaggerate the uncertainty.
-Stephen H Schneider 1992-”
And so a fifth of a century later were still waiting for unequivocal signs of armageddon. What were the predictions in 1992? When was the world going to end? How high was the temp supposed to have been by 2012? How many species were to have died? How many grandchildren have suffered CAGW since? How does one expect to convince the public of the tipping point in the offing if the temperature trend has been flat for 16 years of the 20 since 1992? The public is sceptical now, they will think you are a bunch of idiots if you get more shrill about this non event.

Theo Goodwin

David Roberts has become brazen. He is now impatient with the power of political correctness. The fact that scientists and non-scientist sceptics who criticize AGW are generally treated as pariahs is no longer enough for him. He is answering the call of Al Gore, Sandra Fluke, and other birds of that feather who wants us treated as rabid segregationists were treated. The pursuit of absolute power corrupts absolutely. He calls for propaganda to replace science. He aspires to a form of communism as pure as Lenin’s.

clipe

Heads – up. “Climategate Revisited” about to start. No proxy needed.
21:00 – 21:30 UTC-5
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/bbc_radio_four

Ovid noted the same thing 2000 years ago: exitus acta probat.

clipe

oops 21:00 UTC
Was thinking of the upcoming clock chane from EDT.

Richdo

The statement is beyond surreal, right up there with: The floggings will continue until the morale improves.

lurker, passing through laughing

This may rate up there with Mann’s Nobel Prize embellishment as an example of admission against interest.

The author of that old 1992 article quoting Stephen “scary scenarios” Schneider and this 2005 “Katrina’s Real Name” article http://www.boston.com/news/weather/articles/2005/08/30/katrinas_real_name/ are one and the same person.

Joe Crawford

Actually, I wish that attitude (i.e., ‘The end justifies the means’) was only restricted to climate matters. Gee, I wonder where it came from?

Many of the same characters & all the same tactics recur in every Loony Left academic hoax since at least the ’70s. When I interviewed Schneider about Nuclear Winter, he spoke much more scientifically than when pitching the brazen Commie plot in public.

Louis

DirkH says:
NOBODY expects the warmist inquisition! Our two weapons are: Deception, Cunning, and an almost fanatical devotion to the pope. Wait… our THREE weapons are…
=====
There may be some agreement between the warmists and the Pope. In his Encyclical Letter of 2009, Pope Benedict wrote this:
“50. …the protection of the environment, of resources and of the climate obliges all international leaders to act jointly… ”
“…to guarantee the protection of the environment… there is urgent need of a true world political authority…”
Warmists would agree with the Pope’s comments above and with his idea of “pursuing justice through redistribution.” But they would not likely agree with the Pope’s desire “to ensure that the redistribution of wealth does not come about through the redistribution or increase of poverty.” Most strident warmists want an increase in poverty, at least in the developed world, to drastically lower CO2 output.

John West

@ NeedleFactory
Check this out:
http://richardminiter.com/pdf/19910208-art-csm.pdf
I remember watching a documentary in the US in the late 80’s to early 90’s that matches your description but I have no recollection of what network aired it.

We are mocking the guy but he describes the academic reality. Scientists feel compelled to comply with moral responsibility: the Oppenheimer syndrome. This is why many of them follow the warriors of the good against evil, they fear to be among those who knew but did not say nothing. I do not know how it is in America, but I can certify it is the case in Europe. Leftists used this feeling of culpability to impose their point of view, it is the well known gramscist strategy: take control of culture if you want to take the power.
What is expressed here is the ideological base of the principle of precaution: if you are not 100% sure your acts do not have bad consequences do nothing.

AW: I would not have believed this if I didn’t see it in print.
JK:
“I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is” Al Gore in Grist, 09 May 2006,

“ So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.” Steven Schneider, DISCOVER OCTOBER 1989, Page 47,

Emphasis on extreme scenarios may have been appropriate at one time, Jim Hansen, “Can we defuse The Global Warming Time Bomb?” August 1, 2003
http://naturalscience.com/ns/articles/01-16/ns_jeh6.html

See http://sustainableoregon.com/oktolie.html
Thanks
JK

I having a 27 year old daughter named “Sophie” after the book by William Styron, I find it sick and disgusting to use the words “Sophie’s Choice” in the contexts of global warming. I guess it is because it is known of the connection with the word “Denier” I wonder why I despise these people so much? (Sarcasm) I am sorry but if someone said that to my face I would in all honesty lash out and punch the guy in the mouth.

John Silver

Roberts just ripped off Mein Kampf:
“The function of propaganda is, for example, not to weigh and ponder the rights of different people, but exclusively to emphasize the one right which it has set out to argue for. Its task is not to make an objective study of the truth, in so far as it favors the enemy, and then set it before the masses with academic fairness; its task is to serve our own right, always and unflinchingly. ”
http://fcit.usf.edu/holocaust/people/DocPropa.htm

Oh, one more thing (if I may borrow that old Lt Columbo line): Grist’s Dave Roberts actually quoted Al Gore as saying essentially the same thing about scary scenarios back in 2006 in an answer to his 6th question in this article http://grist.org/article/roberts2/
” … Nobody is interested in solutions if they don’t think there’s a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis. … “

HaroldW

“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”
–Bertrand Russell

Billy

Wow!!!! That Grist link is a visit to the nut house!

u.k.(us)

Just read the whole article at Grist.
Then the doorbell rang announcing the first of the trick-or-treaters, just in time to break the spell and erase from memory, the words that inexplicably only moments before had held import.
They disappeared with the first ghouls of the night, never to be considered again.

Robin Guenier

Just listened to “Climategate Revisited”. It didn’t push a specific agenda and was surprisingly fair to the sceptics – and even the warmists sounded reasonable. In particular, and knowing (from bitter personal experience) how easy it is to distort a recorded interview, Andrew Montford (Bishop Hill) and Steve McIntyre were allowed to come over well. Amazing for the Beeb.

Louis

David Roberts’ concluding paragraph is almost as bad. Who needs scientific facts when you have “the language of emotion and association”? Is he talking about science here or his religion?
“That’s what persuades and motivates people: not the clinical language of science, but experiences and emotions and associations. Of course communicating scientific facts is important too, but it’s not the primary need, nor the standard by which other communications should be judged. What scolds often do is interpret the language of emotion and association through the filter of science. That’s neither helpful nor admirable.”
Yes, let’s put emotion about science. What could possibly go wrong?

Gerald Kelleher

What part of this are people simply not getting.
Empirical modeling began in the late 17th century with Newton who used the Ra/Dec system as a basis for his absolute/relative time,space and motion that nobody really understood,not then and not now.I understand what he tried to do and why it never worked and it is now front and center as meteorologists may wish to explain Sandy from specific meteorological and astronomical background while those pushing a social/political agenda want to generalize modeling without considering why it grew so large,why it took the track it did and why its flooding was more devastating than had the East coast been at a different point in its daily cycle or the moon at a different point in its lunar orbit.
Simply put,modelers insist that one rotation of the Earth falls out of step with one 24 hour day so that such things as daily rotational and lunar inputs into the tides go out of kilter,in other words the devastation of Sandy was due to the time of landfall when the East coast was at a particular point in its daily rotational cycle and the moon at another position.
For goodness sake,read this and this alone,from NASA –
“The Earth spins on its axis about 366 and 1/4 times each year, but there are only 365 and 1/4 days per year” NASA

BarryW

With the failure of Marxist/Leninism, the elite needed to find a new ideology to help them impose their will on the proletariate. People like Roberts are scum.

RockyRoad

“This is a Sophie’s Choice: If we respond to the moral imperative to raise public awareness and alarm about climate, we have to be deceptive.

Or David Roberts could stick with what he’s already doing, which is to deliver deception truthfully.
Note to the morally bankrupt Mr. Roberts: In neither statement can a “moral imperative” be justified.
But be careful—how have you determined there is a “tuned-out public”, Mr. Roberts? Maybe they’re onto you and the nefarious games you and your ilk play! If that’s the case, what you propose will just drive the public farther away and the “moral imperative” is achieved–perhaps even strengthened.
Just not yours.

S Mark

David Roberts is asking a question. Here is the full quote:

This is a Sophie’s Choice: If we respond to the moral imperative to raise public awareness and alarm about climate, we have to be deceptive. If we are committed to truth and scientific accuracy, we have to talk in hedged, caveat-filled, probabilistic language that is utterly ineffectual in reaching and activating a tuned-out public. Dishonest or ineffectual. Alarmist or concern troll. Those are our choices?

He then shows how it is possible to communicate a third way, to convey a ‘moral imperative’ without being ‘scientifically inaccurate’.

” … we have to be deceptive. …”
So what else is new? The data has all been “adjusted” to the point that I wonder if any real data can be salvaged from this era. To what point? To create a problem that only a world government of tyrannical powers could enforce a solution for. After the fall of the USSR, the collectivists all became “green”.
Someday, this madness will befuddle young students studying this time period. It will be crazier than Tulip mania.

Merovign

Not only is it unsurprising in this context, but in the history of the “Western Intellectual” – students of Rousseau, Shelley, or Tolstoy would have no trouble recognizing the principle.
The “grand rewrite of reality for the sake of X” goes back at least to Plato, probably much farther.
And it’s pernicious and destructive every time, and yet never loses it’s glamour.

clipe

clipe says:
October 31, 2012 at 1:52 pm
Heads – up. “Climategate Revisited” about to start. No proxy needed.
21:00 – 21:30 UTC-5
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/bbc_radio_four
clipe says:
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
October 31, 2012 at 2:03 pm
oops 21:00 UTC
Was thinking of the upcoming clock chane from EDT

Edit
Was thinking of the upcoming clock change from EDT

Mike Bromley the Canucklehead

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the MSM treatment of “hurricane” Sandy, which basically fizzled about the same time as the HMS Bounty sank. They point at the resulting Frankenstorm and say: See how HUGE the HURRICANE is!!!! Those with no idea about what constitutes an actual Hurricane lap this up like spaghetti sauce.
No doubt about it, the storm was a whopper. A century whopper, even. And it had ‘the highest storm surge’…unfortunately aided by a full moon tide. But was Sandy still Sandy? No. it was a monster made of several components that coincided. Had the Nor’easter not been there, Sandy was likely even less of a no-show than the much-vaunted Irene, another no-show hurricane.
SandySpawn was even touted as being the product of HAARP…notwithstanding the colossal planning needed to make a two-bit hurricane and an unseasonable Nor’easter collide over New Joisey. But that topic is treading on WUWT thin ice, so [snip]. Regardless, the storm and its high-profile Manhattan target became Grist for the misinformation mill. There is a lot of damage, both to infrastructure and truth.

Goldie

It is a fact that very few things in the world are absolutely certain. It is also my experience that we scientists come across as bumbling idiots when they try to be honest and express this uncertainty to a cynical public who express everything in black and white.

Tibor Skardanelli says: October 31, 2012 at 2:40 pm
We are mocking the guy but he describes the academic reality. Scientists feel compelled to comply with moral responsibility: the Oppenheimer syndrome. This is why many of them follow the warriors of the good against evil, they fear to be among those who knew but did not say nothing. I do not know how it is in America, but I can certify it is the case in Europe. Leftists used this feeling of culpability to impose their point of view, it is the well known gramscist strategy: take control of culture if you want to take the power.
What is expressed here is the ideological base of the principle of precaution: if you are not 100% sure your acts do not have bad consequences do nothing.
You hit the nail on the head, identifying Gramsci. The Gramscians and Fabians are alive and well here in the states. The whole ‘problem’ with a Marxist Revolution in Western Europe and Amerca was identified by Gramsci nearly a century ago: The Proles will never engage in violent revolution due to the fact that they are so well off. Therefore, undermine the foundations of culture, and take a few generations instead of a few years. I’d say they’ve been very successful on both sides of the pond.

Tom Jones

True believers are just amazing. It has always been so, but it is sooo astonishing. They just never learn.

GlynnMhor

Actually “Sophie’s choice”, in the novel and the movie, has a simple solution.
Save the older child, since that one has had more time, effort, and other resources already expended.
In the case of research the choice should also be simple; the truth, as it is, without embellishment or distortion.

Manfred

Punch drunk. Keep thumping people about the head with incipient climate cataclysm whilst at the same time blaming them for it with the one hand and grasping at their wallets with the other. All but the least intelligent will begin to detect a fish like smell.
I simply cannot help but feel the hand of orchestration masquerading as climate alarmism. The overall purpose? Maybe to engineer a shift from fossil fuels to ‘sustainable’ renewables, to create a generic currency – that of energy – and certainly a world order consistent with UN Agenda 21.
Here, the end justifies the means. This is a religious crusade. The free market is the heretic.

[snip]

beesaman

I believe the philosophical term for these people is consequentialists. The trouble is they have set themselves up as arbiters of who should be told the truth and who should not and not to put a fine point on it, who the hell are they to decide that?

TonyG

Gerald Kelleher says:
For goodness sake,read this and this alone,from NASA –
“The Earth spins on its axis about 366 and 1/4 times each year, but there are only 365 and 1/4 days per year” NASA

Sorry – I’m not clear on why that’s a problem. It’s pretty obvious that the 24-hour day has to take into account the change in the relative position of the sun to the earth from one day to the next. A full 360-degree rotation isn’t going to match up with a full 24-hour day. I haven’t bothered to calculate it, but I see no reason to doubt that statement.
As for the rest of what you say, that’s a different matter…

Gerald Kelleher

Is there one intelligent person here who can manage to associate one rotation of the Earth within a 24 hour period with the massive daily temperature fluctuations between daytime highs and night time lows because apparent nobody else can –
http://hypertextbook.com/facts/1999/JennyChen.shtml
That value up there is not just an enormous error,it conceals something much more relevant to this era and specifically generalized modeling,we did not create the error but maintain it.
How do you explain to people stuck in a conceptual rut that our era can’t even account for the daily temperature rises and falls let alone planetary climate ?.

“The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche