Kevin Vranes opens a new window in the Exxon AR4 advent calendar....
At first there was no consensus, then everyone knew that a scientific consensus is unimportant, now, the latest tactic is that the holders of the consensus are feeling guilty. The first gun fired in this direction was the misleading article in the Telegraph telling about how the fourth Assessment Report from the IPCC will downgrade the risks from climate change. Today Tim Lambert has a link to a posting by Kevin Vranes, as fine an example of blaming the victim as exists.
We tried for years - decades - to get them to listen to us about climate change. To do that we had to ramp up our rhetoric. We had to figure out ways to tone down our natural skepticism (we are scientists, after all) in order to put on a united face. We knew it would mean pushing the science harder than it should be. We knew it would mean allowing the boundary-pushers on the "it's happening" side free reign while stifling the boundary-pushers on the other side. But knowing the science, we knew the stakes to humanity were high and that the opposition to the truth would be fierce, so we knew we had to dig in. But now they are listening. Now they do believe us. Now they say they're ready to take action. And now we're wondering if we didn't create a monster. We're wondering if they realize how uncertain our projections of future climate are. We wonder if we've oversold the science.This can be understood as the second leg in a campaign lead by reactionary industry and think tanks and politicians to discredit the scientific study of climate. The first effort was FUD based joining public relations firms, think tanks and a small group of denialists with scientific reputations, and sometimes just reputations of scientific reputations, and thin ones at that. Eli discussed the basis of that stage: (reproduced here in full for the link adverse)
Anyone who has come up hard and fast against reality understands that there is neither a theory or a model that explains everything. There are always residuals, unexplained anomalies and people on the fringes who will hold onto those for dear life, weaving webs of conspiracy theories that focus only on what remains unexplained. This throws the baby out with the bathwater: the fringe theories might explain the residuals, but they can't deal with the basic facts of the situation.The elephant dropping salesmen, unfortunately were the ones talking to the public, indeed were the ones getting money to talk to the public through right wing think tanks and their supporters. When a few of the science types realized that the only way to get the gravity of the situation across to the public was to start to talk to the public, the push back was ferocious. The purpose of the attack was to force the scientists back to the lab bench. In many cases it was successful. If you want to understand this consider the ferocity of the onslaught against Jim Hansen and Michael Mann. Mann's case is particularly instructive. Mann was a post-doc when he was coauthor of the Mann, Bradley, Hughes papers. The other two are very senior scientists. Why was Mann attacked and NOT Ray Bradley and Malcolm Hughes? The simple answer is that the other two retreated from the confrontation, Mann met it.
The best theories and models deal with the largest extent of the evidence available using intellectually valid and understandable ideas with predictive power. Those with no tolerance for ambiguity are doomed to a life of carping. The study of elephant droppings is not as interesting as the study of elephants. (Motivated by comments of Michael Sherman, editor of Skeptic Magazine on CSPAN)
However, if the elephant dropping salesman, is loud and insistent he can attract an audience, and if someone is paying him a lot of money to attract elephant dropping customers, why, as Barnum said, no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
Within the last few years, the public has become aware that there is a scientific consensus on global warming, first in the civilized world, lately among the population in the United States. Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth has played an important role, packaging the basic issues in a way that is understandable and entertaining for the public. The next tactic of the denialists was to deny that a consensus exists, then to deny that the scientific consensus had any meaning, and now, we have the Rovian tactic of attacking the opponents strength to discredit them, here, by claiming that the holders of the consensus are having second, guilty thoughts because there are outstanding issues, and, horrors, they have made clear to the public what the risks are.
Don't worry, Kevin, be happy
UPDATE: Great minds think alike, Andrew Dessler pretty much agrees with Eli.