Quote of the Week – The 'Lie Big' Law (Or why can't John Cook tell the truth?)

qotw_croppedTwo words of the headline are a pun on Liebig’s law, something we covered in the context of another big lie: the “hockey stick”.

Steve McIntyre in a post last Saturday writes of Cook’s Fake Ethics Approval and has this hilarious exchange:

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The larger issue is, of course, the contradiction not faced by “climate communications” theorists e.g. Dan Kahan who are blind to the corrosiveness of misleading/deceptive statements by climate scientists and supporters on matters that can be verified (as in FOI disputes) on their expectations to be trusted on larger issues.

Nor is it easy to understand the purpose of some of these machinations. As I’ve said before, I took zero interest in Cook’s study (or in “skeptic” protests against it) as it seems evident to me that there is a “consensus” of climate scientists on many points. I believe that the strength of the “consensus” varies by proposition and that too often climate promoters will bait-and-switch from consensus on something relatively uncontroversial (e.g. GHG having some impact) to green solution fantasies, but that is a different story.

Nor do I think that there is some smoking gun in the rater ID data. So it’s hard to understand why Cook made such an issue of it. But we’ve seen very odd conduct from climate scientists: think of Cook and Lewandowsky on the SKS link, Jones on non-existent confidentiality agreements on data, Mann on excel spreadsheets, etc etc. On matters which can be understood and verified by non-clmate scientists, we’ve seen bizarre behaviour by prominent people in the field.

In drafting this post, I chatted briefly with Lucia about this seeming blindness. Lucia wrote (in her usual forceful style):

Yep. I don’t see how people can’t see that if UQ lies and climate scientists just seem to think that’s ok, then the public will see the climate scientists as likely to be lying on other things. We are seeing tons and tons and tons of “how to communicate” documents, but none seem to point out the obvious: We need to stop being caught lying. Oh… here’s a strategy to stop being caught: Don’t lie in the first place!

Both Cook and Lewandowsky were, of course, involved in a previous incident also involving lying: see here, a conclusion which Tom Curtis of SKS also reached in respect to Lewandowsky (see here) but not Cook, though, in my opinion, the evidence against Cook is overwhelming.

Full essay here: http://climateaudit.org/2014/07/26/cooks-fake-ethics-approval/

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Indeed, lying pretty much ensures a failure to communicate.

Back in the days before the Internet existed, few people could challenge the big lies of institutions and governments. Today, pretty much anyone with a bit of intelligence, courage, and persistence can take down such false claims.

As we saw in ClimateGate, emails between scientists don’t stay private, and as we saw in Brandon Shollenberger’s exposure of the Double-secret Skeptical Science TCP forums where they discuss ratings, they don’t stay private, and in the earlier exposure where SkS members photoshop themselves into Nazi uniforms, they act as if they embrace the original idea of the Big Lie itself by making themselves in that image.

It’s a sad commentary on Climate Science that we keep going through this pattern of claims, followed by challenges, followed by denials, then ending in confirmation that the claims and the denials were both bogus. One wonders if the rest of science will ever stand up and say “Enough! You are giving us all a bad image.”.

 

 

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Keith

2 x “can’t” in the headline
[fixed thanks .mod]

Old wisdom: Honesty is the best policy. But we are far too sophisticated, nowadays. Aren’t we?

Latitude

We need to stop being caught lying. Oh… here’s a strategy to stop being caught: Don’t lie in the first place!
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I don’t see it this way at all……I say encourage them to do more

Matt L.

After some basic analysis of the self-rated author data used in Cook et al (thanks to Walter Reade for sharing the link to the flat file a few days ago) I concluded Cook was right — as long as you parsed the data in the way he deemed appropriate. As far as I could tell, as long as you played by his rules, he was being honest.
I still don’t get why Cook’s team grouped endorsements 4a and 4b into a single endorsement “4”. Cook’s paper itself disparately defines 4a and 4b. (As defined, 4b is definitely a position on AGW.) The self-rated data kinda made my point moot, but I’d still like to see how 4a and 4b split.
I tend to give the techs and scientists in the field the benefit of doubt, but this left a bad taste.
“… lying pretty much insures a failure to communicate.” True words. But only for those who seek to communicate truth. Alas, truth is (a) relative. And not always the one you want to have over for supper.

Alan the Brit

Deja Vu: In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler said that the mass of the people were more likely to believe a big lie, than a small lie. Something so fantastic, that is couldn’t possibly be a lie!

In Bedford & Cook (2013), there are several plain statements to the effect that 97% of those expressing an opinion in the Cook et al. survey had said global warming was mostly manmade. The true figure, derivable from Cook et al’s own datafile, was just 0.5%.
The reason why this central falsehood matters is that the 97% figure continues to be widely cited by ministers and policymakers in justification of the mad mitigation policies that are bidding fair to shut down the West.

tadchem

Lying is a skill honed to a high degree in the process of learning how to apply for research grants. It works because the reviewers themselves are also seasoned liars.
People who compulsively tell the truth are so uncomfortable with lies that they often can ‘smell’ them – they seem to recognize lies simply by the way they are phrased.

betapug

The moral justification for the lying is clear in the Islamic doctrines of Taqiyya and Kitman:
“Speaking is a means to achieve objectives. If a praiseworthy aim is attainable through both telling the truth and lying, it is unlawful to accomplish through lying because there is no need for it. When it is possible to achieve such an aim by lying but not by telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is permissible (N:i.e. when the purpose of lying is to circumvent someone who is preventing one from doing something permissible), and obligatory to lie if the goal is obligatory… it is religiously precautionary in all cases to employ words that give a misleading impression…
http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/quran/011-taqiyya.htm
Remember EU Climate Commisioner Connie Hedegaard’s justification:
“Let’s say that science, some decades from now, said ‘we were wrong, it was not about climate’, would it not in any case have been good to do many of things you have to do in order to combat climate change?.”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/10313261/EU-policy-on-climate-change-is-right-even-if-science-was-wrong-says-commissioner.html

betapug

The Taqiyya and Kitman doctrine seems to allow lying to fellow believers only to “smooth differences”.
With unbelievers, however, it is open season.

dp

Strategic lying is a foundation of politics, and given climate alarmism is all about politics I don’t expect to see the rate of lying go down. If anything it is on a hockey stick swing upwards, tracking closely with adjusted temperatures.

Greg Goodman

This is the kind of stupidity that most people grow out of as they go through school. Children always imagine they can just lie to avoid getting into trouble but after a while find out that, unless you are particularly good at it and have a formidable memory, it almost always backfires in the end.
Green zealots seem to think it’s OK to lie to save the planet and then ( not being super smart ) go on to dig themselves into deeper and deeper holes, like a naughty five year old.
What they don’t seem to realise is that they are destroying the enviro movement , which used to actually serve useful purpose.
Once the AGW scam finally falls apart, no one will listen next there is a REAL pollution issue that needs dealing with. Then we will all be worse off.
It is so short sighted it is strange that any normally constituted adult can’t see why lying and cheating is counter productive, and that they are destroying what they believe they are so committed to.

Greg Goodman

Is lying a trip word here? Makes it difficult to discus the this post.

Harold

First rule of lying: don’t tell obviously tall tales that anybody and everybody can spot, such as a hard disk crash wiped a disk completely clean.

One wonders if the rest of science will ever stand up and say “Enough! You are giving us all a bad image.”.
Not as long as billions continue to flow to the lie.

Claude Harvey

When you’re “good” fighting “evil”, anything goes and the end justifies the means. That’s the mind-set of many AGW “true believers” and it isn’t likely to change.

asybot

@ betapug, Thank you sir, I have been telling people the same thing for years. thanks for finding the quotes and the way people use this.

Cold in Wisconsin

My science teacher brother-in-law tells me emphatically that science is not concerned with truth. He says that science is only concerned with the answer that best describes the data. Say what?? How can people teaching science to children be of the opinion that science does not concern itself with truth? Is that they type of logic that people use when justifying not telling the truth? How can science be trusted if the truth is irrelevant?
I think that people have to first get their arms around just exactly they mean when they are using the word “truth.” As the Taqiyya and Kitman doctrines above indicate there is telling the truth, not telling the whole truth, and not telling a lie, all before you come to the actual telling of a straight out falsehood. Too many shades of gray. The good book (just one of many sources of wisdom) uses the phrase “do not deal falsely” which should rule out the muddy waters of not telling the whole truth or just leaving out some important facts (like the distinction between “some” man made global warming and “more than 50%” man made global warming).
I have no patience with the finely crafted and nuanced statements that tell just the part of the story that you want others to hear but leave out the “fair balance” that should be present in every scientific inquiry: what are the limits of the measurements, where are the most likely errors, what are the other possible explanations, what are the unknowns that were not addressed in the experiment, etc. Those elements of “fair balance” indicate the quality of the work that was done and help to determine whether the “science” is biased or whether we should even pay attention to it. I know that I had to include all of those elements in my own work in high school and college. Once you get a PhD do those rules no longer apply? If I had to include those elements to get an “A” then their work shouldn’t even make it to publication if it doesn’t meet those standards.

Alan Robertson

Harold says:
July 29, 2014 at 10:05 am
First rule of lying: don’t tell obviously tall tales that anybody and everybody can spot, such as a hard disk crash wiped a disk completely clean.
______________
Tired of your job? You could have a bright future with the IRS.

Chris R.

To betapug:
Connie Hedegaard was not the first to use that spurious justification. Former
U.S. Senator Tim Wirth was quoted as having said, in 1992:

“We’ve got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global
warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing, in terms of economic
policy and environmental policy.”

Worse than a lie, is not owning up to it.
If Mann, Cook, Glieck or Lewandowsky simply responded to being caught in a lie with a, “Sorry, my passion for the environment just got the better of me.”, we might think less of them for lying but we would understand the impulse and thus see them as more human and more credible (after double-checking their facts).
But such is not in the liar’s DNA.
The tragedy about compulsive lying is lying when there is no reason to lie – which pretty much sums up all too much of climate science.

Mike Maguire

Whether you want to call it a lie or twisting/spinning something with a grain of truth into something it isn’t(which is what mainly goes on) it’s still the same thing.
Objectivity on the effects of CO2 on our planet should always acknowledge the massive benefits to plants, crop yields and world food production.
Just the fact that the argument has been shifted into one that debates catastrophic warming and extreme weather, neither of which are happening but are just theories vs atmospheric fertilization which is irrefutably happening shows subjectivity and a focus on proving a point/theory rather then following the authentic science and empirical data.
Is it lying to hang your hat on the one thing that shows your point……..global climate model projections from a computer that was given mathematical equations to represent the physics of the atmosphere that some climate scientists believe in?
At what point does using those busted climate models become an outright lie vs just being confirmation bias on steroids by users?

Chris R.

Correction to my previous post:
The date was not 1992; it was 1988. The publication that
quoted him was National Journal.

Rob Dawg

At first I thought of suggesting “presented in the best light” but then I realized that would be admitting to a solar component.

ossqss

“If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said”
Grandma ossqss 1975 🙂

kenw

betapug says:
July 29, 2014 at 9:56 am
The Taqiyya and Kitman doctrine seems to allow lying to fellow believers only to “smooth differences”.
we would call that “situational ethics”.
Or “unqualified disaster”.

Curious George

Old habits die hard.

Akatsukami

My science teacher brother-in-law tells me emphatically that science is not concerned with truth. He says that science is only concerned with the answer that best describes the data. Say what?? How can people teaching science to children be of the opinion that science does not concern itself with truth? Is that they type of logic that people use when justifying not telling the truth? How can science be trusted if the truth is irrelevant?

What is truth? Here, though, I think that he is (rightfully) denying that science is a search for Platonic Forms, but rather a study of data acquired by empirical search, which by its nature can never be declared Truth, but merely the best approximation of it that we can achieve at a given time. If we say otherwise science becomes scientism, a religion in which priests wear lab coats and safety goggles instead of robes and miters.

After Dunkirk there was a great fear in England that the Germans would invade. One thing the English did, to confuse the invading Germans, was to alter their road signs, so that the signs pointing the way to London pointed the wrong direction. In the end the Germans never did invade, and the only ones confused by the lying road-signs were the English themselves.
That tends to be a problem, when you create a landscape of lies. As you start you chuckle, thinking you are making others look like fools, but as time passes you lose track of what the truth actually is, and in the end the one looking like a true fool is you.
Stand by the Truth, and the Truth will stand by you.

Peter Dunford

Is it really fair to climate scientists to lump Cook and Lewandowski in with them? On the other hand… until there is a consensus otherwise, it’s probably not doing much harm.

M Courtney

Don’t forget that the climate crazed believe anything is justified for the greater good.
Remember the Guardian’s response to Peter Gleick’s felonious actions
It’s worth reading the comments too. A lot of fellow, dangerous criminals in there..

rw

Alan the Brit says:
July 29, 2014 at 9:27 am
Deja Vu: In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler said that the mass of the people were more likely to believe a big lie, than a small lie. Something so fantastic, that is couldn’t possibly be a lie
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Yes, and isn’t it interesting to see Hitler’s hypothesis being put to such a thoroughgoing test.

Alx

“One wonders if the rest of science will ever stand up and say “Enough! You are giving us all a bad image.”.”
Yes that is the point. Science is taking a hit through all this politcal nonsense.

Jim Brock says at 9:12 am: Old wisdom: Honesty is the best policy. But we are far too sophisticated, nowadays. Aren’t we?
We’ve had their biggest minds and intellects openly saying that the members of the Chicken Little Brigade… should lie, or at least make up outlandish baloney with only one purpose: to further their “cause.” These are their own words:
We have to offer up scary scenarios… each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective and being honest.” -Stephen Schneider, lead ipcc author, 1989
“Unless we announce disasters no one will listen.” -Sir John Houghton, first ipcc chair
“The only way to get our society to truly change is to frighten people with the possibility of a catastrophe.” -Daniel Botkin, ex Chair of Environmental Studies, UCSB
Well guess what? Those “scary scenarios” are the “big lie.” They are going deep with their lies, over and over again. And they keep failing to complete their Hail Marys, missing wildly. Every prediction of doom that they ever made that had a year attached to it, where that year has passed, has been completely off the mark. Just one example:
“Entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.” -Noel Brown, ex UNEP Director, 1989 [sea level is essentially the same now as it was in 1989]

Joseph Murphy

Alx says:
July 29, 2014 at 11:33 am
“One wonders if the rest of science will ever stand up and say “Enough! You are giving us all a bad image.”.”
Yes that is the point. Science is taking a hit through all this politcal nonsense.
—————————–
Which makes me wonder if science is always in this sort of position or if we are seeing a new problem. I tend to agree with ancient Greeks that things more or less stay the same.
Anthony started it so I just have to finish it, “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate!” – Cool Hand Luke

They lie because the ones who find them out (us) don’t matter.
The ones who do matter (politicians, public at large etc) never find out that they lie.
Until that is changed, they will continue to lie.
Cook’s 97% paper was never meant as an “objective, scientific” exercise. It was always intended as a piece of spin.

TYoke

Mike Maguire wrote:
“Just the fact that the argument has been shifted into one that debates catastrophic warming and extreme weather, neither of which are happening but are just theories vs atmospheric fertilization which is irrefutably happening shows subjectivity and a focus on proving a point/theory rather then following the authentic science and empirical data.”
It was just this point that made me a skeptic back in the late 90s. The immense benefits of CO2 fertilization are overwhelmingly obvious as a theory, and relatively easy to check experimentally, yet one could read MSM and Establishment Science opinion for years and NEVER see the point acknowledged. It was at that point that I realized leftwing politics had seriously corrupted the scientific debate.

John Slayton

When in doubt tell the truth. It will confound your enemies and astound your friends.
-Mark Twain

Shoshin

The most humbling part about doing science well is the acknowledgement that you are probably lying to yourself, at least part of the time.

The crucial problem remains that sites like WUWT are using the term “science” to mean hard science about real causes and effect and the underlying reality. That is NOT what “Climate Science” means to NASA or NOAA or USGS or the EPA.
They use it in the context of the social science of gaining a common shared understanding that works just fine if the belief is false. It is why NSF runs Climate Science out of its behavioral and Social Science Division. It’s why the National Research Council in September 2009 set up the Climate Change Education Roundtable to coordinate the desired message. It is why the term “experts in climate science” is immediately followed by other so-called soft sciences like “the learning sciences, best practices in formal or informal education and other academic and professional areas.”
Many of the very profs complained about most regularly at WUWT are conveniently lapping up grants from the CCER trough of taxpayer money and the rest of the “coordinated national network devoted to advancing a dialog about effective, high-quality education addressing the science of climate change and the impacts on natural, social, and economic systems.”
It’s the desire to justify the targeting of those latter systems without everyone shrieking accurately “Marxism!” that necessitates the Newspeak about Sustainability and Climate Science.
I just finished reading the paper from the March 2013 Workshop on how to change the curriculum at the national business schools so that Future and Current Business Leaders had the requisite desired worldview.

Brute

A handful of these liars are “big guns” but most are good-for-nothing inconsequential people making a desperate dash for personal glory. Who is Cook after all?

pdtillman

@Lucia: “We are seeing tons and tons and tons of “how to communicate” documents, but none seem to point out the obvious: We need to stop being caught lying. Oh… here’s a strategy to stop being caught: Don’t lie in the first place!”
Indeed. Somehow, this obvious “better communication” strategy keeps getting overlooked….

M Courtney

Brute says at July 29, 2014 at 12:57 pm

A handful of these liars are “big guns” but most are good-for-nothing inconsequential people making a desperate dash for personal glory. Who is Cook after all?

Nah, Cook believes it.
And he believes it is his mission to save us all from the doom that would befall us if we don’t obey him.
Look at the images he makes of himself.

Lying? Some liars believe every word they utter.

Chuck Nolan

Almost Iowa says:
July 29, 2014 at 10:24 am
Worse than a lie, is not owning up to it.
If Mann, Cook, Glieck or Lewandowsky simply responded to being caught in a lie…
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You miss the point.
Being caught makes one a martyr for the cause and it’s worn as a badge of honor. Lying and stealing to get it is perfectly okay.
They play by Sharia rules
Watch their videos, read their lies and see what they are willing to do and say.
cn

Taphonomic

Strother Martin at his finest:

Russ R.

Monckton of Brenchley wrote:
“In Bedford & Cook (2013), there are several plain statements to the effect that 97% of those expressing an opinion in the Cook et al. survey had said global warming was mostly manmade. The true figure, derivable from Cook et al’s own datafile, was just 0.5%.”
That’s close, but not quite correct.
Cook et al. arrived at their 97.1% figure by excluding “no position” papers from the sample (category 4a). Your 0.5% figure includes these papers.
If you were to do an apples-to-apples comparison, the consensus figure would be 1.6%. (i.e. 1.6% of rated abstracts explicitly stated that humans are the primary cause of global warming.)
Calculations here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/78507292/Cook%20et%20al.%20%282013%29%20-%20Data.xlsx

Gunga Din

Who knew there was so many BSTUs in one hockey stick?

Being caught makes one a martyr for the cause and it’s worn as a badge of honor. – Chuck Nolan

Agreed.
These people believe that Orwell wrote a HowTo manual.

Admad

F. Ross

“Lying”
Depends on what the meanig of “is” is.