Guest Opinion: Dr. Tim Ball
Courts will not listen to or judge scientific disputes. The basic argument is that it is “your paper” against “their paper” and they are not qualified to judge. This was the issue when I participated in appeals to the US Supreme Court over actions of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is also the case in the three lawsuits filed against me. They are charges of defamation and not about the science. The lawsuits are effectively Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPP) or a legal form of ad hominem attack. The question is, if I am so wrong about the science, as they claim, then why the lawsuits? The answer is because they cannot say I am not qualified, although they tried, and my ability to explain the complexities of climate science in a way the public understands threatens them.
The same problems confront any discussion in a formal hearing about climate science. Politicians are no better equipped or qualified to determine a science confrontation than the Courts. Scientists who participated in the December 8, 2015, Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, Senate Hearings were exposed to such a dilemma. They found themselves in a forum where they were not qualified to provide the answers to questions and thus effectively lost the case. There is a solution to the challenge, but neither they nor those who organized the hearings understood it.
My presentation at the first Heartland Climate Conference in New York explained the challenges faced by the scientists identified pejoratively as Deniers in the Senate Hearings. Many listened but the few that understood were people involved in communicating science to the public. They knew the pitfalls and the techniques necessary. I underscored my point by saying that Al Gore’s movie deserved an Oscar because it was a brilliant piece of propaganda produced in the fantasyland of Hollywood. They knew how to dramatize the science to catch and hold people’s attention. Chief Justice Burton of the UK Court ruled it was propaganda in the week before Gore received his Nobel Prize, but did not order that it not be shown in the schools, even though it had nine scientific errors. Instead, he ordered that students be apprized of the problems and then shown another documentary for balance. Unfortunately, this assumes that students and teachers can determine who is right and who is wrong.
My message in New York was if the Skeptics are to counteract Hollywood they must understand and apply the same basic techniques. They must abandon the idea that getting access to Washington and participating in public hearings before Congress will achieve the goal of educating the public to the scientific truth. They must show how “Their paper” was deliberately falsified in terms the public can understand. The recent US Senate hearings failed because the “Deniers” explained the scientific problems with the science of “Their Paper.” The politicians and public didn’t understand the difference. Even if they entertained the idea that “Their Paper” was wrong they were confronted with the question of whether the errors were from incompetence or corruption, something the presenters of “Your Paper” were not able or willing to answer.
The title of the Senate Hearing “Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate” guaranteed it would fail with most people. It failed despite the imbalance in presenters with four, Dr. John Christie, Dr. Judith Curry, Dr. Will Happer, and Mark Steyn arguing for Data, and Dr. David Titley tepidly arguing for Dogma. The imbalance is not surprising. I know it is difficult to get someone to debate the Dogma and that if they are willing to debate it means they know very little about the science. The failure was not the fault of the presenters rather it was the entire problem of arguing science in a political forum. It is similar to why courts won’t consider scientific disputes.
Dr. Curry signaled the defeat when she correctly demanded the right to defend her scientific integrity against the charge of being called a denier. I was surprised because I thought Dr. Curry learned the lesson about how nasty people are when you challenge the prevailing wisdom. Early in the ongoing saga about global warming, Dr. Curry leaned toward the AGW theory and IPCC science thus making her acceptable to her academic colleagues. Then, to her everlasting credit, Dr. Curry, tried to pursue proper scientific method by inviting Steve McIntyre to her University, Georgia Tech, to make a presentation on his analysis of the ‘hockey stick’. McIntyre commented about the reaction.
Readers of this blog should realize that Judy Curry has been (undeservedly) criticized within the climate science community for inviting me to Georgia Tech. Given that the relatively dry nature of my formal interests and presentation (linear algebra, statistics, tree rings etc.) and that I’ve been invited to present by a panel of the National Academy of Sciences, it seems strange that such a presentation to scientists should provoke controversy, but it did.
You cannot imagine how nasty people get until you experience it by challenging their prevailing wisdom. Dr. Curry learned as I did that the surprising and most emotionally disturbing attacks came from colleagues.
Skeptics were pleased with the performance of the presenters in Washington because they know about the science and the issues. What they forget is that the majority don’t know. Skeptics must first step out of their bias and view events objectively. Then they must understand the subjective perspective of those who don’t understand the science, which includes most of the public, the media, and the politicians.
I respect the science and integrity of those who appeared to explain the Data, however, it was difficult to watch them struggle with the political posturing. This observation is not a criticism because they are scientists and want to avoid politics as much as possible. It is as basic as the fact that by simply appearing for the Data side automatically placed them in the Republican camp. Their presence and arguments made them political. They also lacked understanding of the nature of the debate and how it exposed the Dogma side.
I regret to say the Dogma side won because the Data side failed to deal with the real questions implied in their argument. From the Dogma and citizens perspective science is science, so why are there disagreements? They see the Data presenters as representatives of a political perspective. They think this because they ask why would scientists at the IPCC present misleading data, or worse, manipulate the data? What is their motive? The Data presenter’s political motive is clear to them: they are directly or indirectly under the political or financial influence of the energy sector.
For most people the proof that the Data presenters were political was their failure to answer the questions posed by Senator Markey and others about the 97% consensus and the warmest year on record. In fact, they could not answer them because they require a political answer explaining why they falsified the data and their motive? What answer would you give?
Mark Steyn gave an erudite, humorous, blunt, assessment of the politics involved. The problem is he began by saying he is not a climate scientist. Unfortunately, this only served to underscore the view that his fellow Data panelists were also political. There was no political spokesperson for the Dogma side: Senator Markey knew it wasn’t necessary.
The problem for Data presenters is they are climate scientists, specialists each in one small area of the complex, generalist discipline of climatology. It would require dozens of such specialists to cover the subject and be prepared to answer all the questions and still they could not answer the political or motive questions.
How To Manage A Debate
For approximately three years the Roy Green radio program in Canada offered unlimited airtime for anyone who would debate the issue of Global warming with me. Nobody took the offer! Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party in Canada, told Roy she wouldn’t debate, but would get someone to do it. A month later she told him that she couldn’t get anyone. This is why I was surprised when Ms. May agreed to a debate with me on the Ian Jessop radio program a few months ago. I won’t speculate on her motive.
I know I won the debate because Ms. May resorted to a personal attack at the end with a veiled threat of “another lawsuit.” It didn’t surprise me, although I was amazed and pleased about how many people picked up on it.
The problem with a global warming debate between two scientists is that the public would not understand; they wouldn’t even know who won. In a debate between a scientist and anyone else the scientist inevitably loses because it becomes about emotions, especially the exploitation of fear. Besides, there is always the fall back precautionary principle that we should act regardless of the evidence.
These conditions formed the basis of my thinking in preparing for my debate with Ms. May. I knew as a lawyer she would try to use detail, to find an “error” to justify rejecting the entire case. I also knew that Ms. May believed, as co-author of Global Warming For Dummies, that she knew the subject.
Ms. May did as I expected and discussed the scientific data and detail. I knew this would go over the head of most listeners as the Data specialist’s information did in Washington. I acted with discipline by not even correcting the many errors Ms. May made. There was no point in getting bogged down in data and detail that few understood. Besides, few would even know who was correct even after the explanation. It is the state of confusion and uncertainty about who to believe that is common for most people.
I did the opposite and provided general comments and examples speaking to the Dogma. The first thing was to undermine the credibility of the IPCC. Most people think that the IPCC study climate and climate change in its entirety. Once they learn that the definition given to them by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) directed them only to study human causes of change, they realize the limitations of their work. You then reinforce the point by explaining that you can’t possibly determine human causes unless you know and understand natural causes. You can reinforce thay point by saying that failed weather and climate forecasts prove we don’t understand the natural causes.
Next, you counter the myth that a majority of scientists (97%?) agree. It is too technical to present the arguments so well laid out in Lord Monckton’s analysis. It is easier and more effective to explain that very few scientists ever read the IPCC Reports. They accept, not unreasonably, the results of other scientists without question, just as the public do. The confession by Klaus-Eckhart Puls does not require data or scientific understanding. It expresses emotions people understand, including surprise, shock, and then anger that anyone can appreciate. The IPCC produced scientific documents that decimated all scientific rules, regulations and practices. You don’t need to know that when a scientist publically admits his failure in accepting, and passing on their corrupted science without question.
“Ten years ago I simply parroted what the IPCC told us. One day I started checking the facts and data—first I started with a sense of doubt but then I became outraged when I discovered that much of what the IPCC and the media were telling us was sheer nonsense and was not even supported by any scientific facts and measurements. To this day I still feel shame that as a scientist I made presentations of their science without first checking it.”
He wasn’t fooled; he just didn’t look.
I wrote much of my book The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science years before it was published. I delayed publication because I knew from teaching Science to Arts students for 25 years, giving hundreds of public lectures, and participating in several documentaries that the public was not ready. In many ways, it was still released too early. I know many skeptics shy away from it because it dares to answer the question implied but avoided by the Senate Hearing; if the data is falsified who would do that and why? The question that automatically arises when you argue the Data or Skeptic side is MOTIVE. Not only did the Dogma win, but they also scored points by the inability of the Data specialists to answer questions that required providing the motive.
Elaine Dewar provided the motive after spending five days with Maurice Strong at the UN where he created the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the UNFCCC and the IPCC.
Strong was using the U.N. as a platform to sell a global environment crisis and the Global Governance Agenda.
Even if the Data specialists or Mark Steyn spoke to this motive Senator Markey would argue, falsely but effectively, that it was necessary to save the planet and dismiss them as conspiracy theorists. We are still a long way from the point when explaining the motive to the public would resonate. It requires exposition of the crimes first, and that requires explaining the science in ways the public understand. One factor that prevents those that are able is seeing what happened to Dr. Curry, myself, or several others. Just ask Dr. Richard Lindzen. The price paid for even seeking the truth in climate science is financially and emotionally high, and few are willing to pay the price. Besides, the Dogmatists and the public believe energy companies’ reward them well for their efforts.