Pielke Sr. interviewed about the surfacestations project

Dr. Roger Pielke writes:

I was invited to answer a set of questions motivated by Anthony Watt’s excellent surface temperature project [see www.surfacestations.org] project by James Wynn of the English Department at Carnegie Mellon University.  The website at the University includes the brief bio]

James Wynn has published articles on rhetoric, mathematics, and science in Rhetorica, Written Communication, and 19th Century Prose. His recent interests have been in rhetoric, science, mathematics and public policy with a focus on nuclear power. He is a founder and current director of the Pittsburgh Consortium for Rhetoric and Discourse Studies.

With his permission, I have reproduced the relevant part of our e-mail exchange below [my replies are in italics]


See the full interview and his commentary here.

I was interviewed as well, and it was quite a long conversation. Wynn was quite interested in the citizen science aspect of the project and how it functioned.

I’ll have an update on Watts et al 2012 and the project in our upcoming live video event.

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November 7, 2012 9:05 am

Brilliant. Measured, sensible stuff.
Thank God (or whoever) for these voices of sanity.
This sort of measured discussion makes clowns like Lewandowsky and most of the Skeptical Science crew seem like foaming maniacs.
There is perhaps a lesson in delivery here for all of us.

November 7, 2012 9:33 am

absolutely pristine and correctly measured answers. Pielke Sr has a definitely ‘clean’ scientific approach and should be applauded. It is far to easy to get ’emotionally’ involved in ones science and thus influence ones thinking. (those members of the climate science community afflicted by this malady of confirmational bias, etc, are of course – VERY well known! – LOL – which kind of illustrates perhaps why they have such a bias? )

November 7, 2012 9:55 am

Absolutely first class, Dr. Pielke Sr. is thoughtful, polite and to the point. To paraphrase: science’s role in society is to provide the best information available to it’s members so rational discussion and policies can be developed. Not the best propaganda, ideology or any other ology.

Hank Zentgraf
November 7, 2012 9:59 am

Roger and Anthony, thanks for your contributions!

Owen in GA
November 7, 2012 10:05 am

Interesting, he seems to be trying to pursue the facts of the case, but by his questions he came in with a distinct bias. Maybe his eyes will be opened to the fact that science is not limited to those with PhD behind their names, nor limited to ivory towered institutions with high-sounding names. Science is the method by which knowledge is gained. It is a process that is repeated over and over until patterns are found and teased out of the resulting data. The training that leads to those PhDs can help to see the patterns, but are not a necessary piece of lab equipment. A curious mind, careful procedure and a repeated asking of the question “why” are all that is needed to advance science. If a high school drop out is the one to find the data showing that special relativity does not hold, and others are able to replicate it, then special relativity would need to be reformed. It is a cherished theory that seems to work, but it does not matter who finds the contrary experiment, only that such an experiment is found. All science works that way in a perfect world. Unfortunately, science is done by flawed human beings, who bring all their foibles with them to the lab and paper reviews and grant approvals.

November 7, 2012 10:58 am

” but by his questions he came in with a distinct bias”
I picked up on that. Will he shift his world view? In his book will he compliment the ‘citizen scientist’ Anthony Watts? Will he dispassionately review the work of NCDC?
If he does I will be forced to admit that leopards do sometimes change their spots..

Eric H.
November 7, 2012 12:38 pm

Well done Dr. Pielke. I particularly enjoyed the praise of Anthony and his work on station siting. I am looking forward to Watts et al 2012. I thought James Wynn was polite and showed respect and class. I hope his upcoming book accurately portrays the interviews and facts. Citizen science…

Alexander K
November 7, 2012 1:45 pm

After following the farce of the Lewendowsky debacle, it is very refreshing to read sensible, reasoned discourse about Anthony’s excellent citizen-science surface stations project between James Wynn, and Dr Pielke Snr. . I hope the evidence I perceive of the lifting of Wynn’s initial bias is accurate and that it continues.

November 7, 2012 2:46 pm

Roger Pielke, having said that critics of AGW shouldn’t be called “skeptics”, didn’t answer the question as to what they should be called.
Perhaps readers here might like to make suggestions? NB, if you call supporters of AGW “warmists”, “alarmists”, etc, then you can’t argue that critics must not be called anything.

November 7, 2012 3:22 pm

Just hope that Anthony does not take another sucker punch ala BEST and NCDC. I’m too old to get that angry again. That said, great post Dr. Pielke. The perceptions of some above that James Wynn came to this project with some pretty strong bias are, I believe, correct.

November 7, 2012 3:35 pm

Good point Mike,
I quite like the term “rationalist” to juxtapose with “alarmist”. Sums up the positions quite well.

Alex Heyworth
November 7, 2012 3:36 pm

@MIke Jonas: if the intellectuals of edge.org can call themselves “brights”, perhaps skeptics can call themselves “cools”.

Roger Knights
November 7, 2012 9:57 pm

Mike Jonas says:
November 7, 2012 at 2:46 pm
Roger Pielke, having said that critics of AGW shouldn’t be called “skeptics”, didn’t answer the question as to what they should be called. Perhaps readers here might like to make suggestions?


November 7, 2012 11:34 pm

Don’t get your expectations too high, he clearly didn’t like Dr. Peilke’s responses.

November 8, 2012 3:12 am

November 7, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Mike Jonas says:
Roger Pielke, having said that critics of AGW shouldn’t be called “skeptics”, didn’t answer the question as to what they should be called.
I suppose that “climate realists” would be as good a term as any other. “Deniers” we are certainly not and “Skeptics” is what all should be as a matter of course.

Alexander K
November 8, 2012 5:21 pm

Mike Jonas, I suspect that the term ‘rational thinker’ could be a very good replacement for ‘sceptic’, but everyone should be sceptical of any new information until it has been thoroughly examined and assessed.
According to some social historians, before universal literacy was achieved in the Western world, every new idea was greeted with scepticism and proofs would be demanded before the new information could be accepted. The rise of literacy has seen a congruent rise of belief, where valid proofs are unnecessary and believing is enough for many, hence the rise of Alarmism as a belief system.

A. Scott
November 9, 2012 12:43 pm

Citizen science used to be treated differently. While there was often/usually a similar divisiveness between groups with different opinions and beliefs – citizen science was not always ridiculed and held in contempt, as it is today by the entire pro-CAGW cadre of scientists and their supporters.
Some time back I stumbled across the book excerpt – Wright’s “Ice Age in North America and its Bearings on the Antiquity of Man” by Professor Charles Hickock – Dartmouth College.
Here is a link to a copy I highlighted to help me follow the story:
It is about the discovery of the science behind the last glaciation in North America – and the forces behind it. It shows the accepted view at the time was that the surface features – the geography of the land – were created by icebergs floating over the submerged land. And how a layman – a simple Pastor – the Rev G.F. Wright from Andover Mass., spent his summer vacations out on the land doing his own research, and proved them all wrong.
While he faced criticism and some dismissal he never faced the ostracizing and ridicule those skeptical about the human contribution to warming face.
And in the end his effort were recognized and held up as an example to all:
“… the example of Dr. Wright is to be commended. By devoting vacations and odd hours to study of glaciation for the past 15 years, he has produced results of which any geologist might be proud … [his example] is worthy of imitation … the working out of details connected with the ice age would be an enterprise adequate to enlist the energies of a dozen energetic amateurs for the next decade … let them provide themselves with Wrights Ice Age [and several other such works] … and they will have the literature needful to start them upon original investigations”
Too bad that the current core cadre of pro-CAGW climate scientists don’t treat citizen science and crowd sourcing similarly – we might just make real headway in better understanding the mysteries of climate.

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