Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Venn diagrams

The bunny hears that some folk were not pleased when John Mashey pinned the denialists to the Venn diagram. Curiously, the merchants of doubt were right fond of such stuff when Wegman dragged his student, Yasmin Said in from left field to do social network analysis, determining that Mike Mann had a lot of co-authors.

Merchants of Doubt is a forthcoming (May 25, 2010, mark your calendars little girls and guys) book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway about

how a cadre of influential scientists have clouded public understanding of scientific facts to advance a political and economic agenda.

The U.S. scientific community has long led the world in research on such areas as public health, environmental science, and issues affecting quality of life. Our scientists have produced landmark studies on the dangers of DDT, tobacco smoke, acid rain, and global warming. But at the same time, a small yet potent subset of this community leads the world in vehement denial of these dangers.
Merchants of Doubt tells the story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. Remarkably, the same individuals surface repeatedly—some of the same figures who have claimed that the science of global warming is “not settled” denied the truth of studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole. “Doubt is our product,” wrote one tobacco executive. These “experts” supplied it.

Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, historians of science, roll back the rug on this dark corner of the American scientific community, showing how ideology and corporate interests, aided by a too-compliant media, have skewed public understanding of some of the most pressing issues of our era.
Eli prefers his way of putting it, there is a real thin bench over there at denial central, but it can't be said often enough that their ability to inject doubt and dirt into the public discourse has killed an awful lot of people (tobacco), is killing more today (HIV denial, refusal to provide condom, etc.) and threatens to wipe out a lot more (climate change denial).

As far as Eli knows the denialists have never been on the side of an issue that was not harmful to health, wealth and happiness alone or in the various possible permutations. Climate change is the grand challenge, all three in one go. Several of that loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers have made a rather good career of this (more examples available). Still the bunny is ever persuadable if you have a large enough hammer or bankroll and eagerly awaits contrary examples. Eagerly, not hopefully. OTOH, he also welcomes examples that show he is right.

Oreskes and Conway are following a path that she and Myanna Lahsen have pioneered, particularly Lahsen's Experiences of modernity in the greenhouse: A cultural analysis of a "physicist "trio" supporting the backlash against global warming, that took Seitz, Nierenberg and Jastrow apart at the seams.

Eli has heard the victim bullies cries from Princeton, Rochester and other places where the signers of the APS petition nest, but these starlings** have little to complain about. They moan that their scientific objectivity was impugned, they were slandered and how pointing out that they are closely linked is scurrilous.

Color the Rabett dubious. His milk of bunny kindness has kinda gone away this week and a short while back. This is a seriously bad bunch, and very adept at disinformation campaigns.

** a small but noisy bird UPDATE: which as Ed Darell points out in the comments are not just noisy, but noisy in gangs. Starlings drive songbirds out of their nests, harass the songbird young, steal their food, and generally pose a barbarian-style blight upon the bird world. Starlings steal the crops from farmers, and perform no useful service in return (like eating insect pests, or providing Beauty and Song). Starlings congregate in huge gangs in cities, befouling automobiles, sidewalks, and giving people heebie-jeebies whenever they remember the old Hitchcock movie.

Since Eli lives in Washington DC, he knows this. Thanks Ed:)

37 comments:

John Mashey said...

And another good one in this set is David Michaels, "Doubt is Their Product".

Arthur said...

As to "the denialists have never been on the side of an issue that was not harmful to health, wealth and happiness alone or in the various possible permutations" - I'm not sure the Strategic Defense Initiative advocacy from George Marshall folks was harmful to anybody's health or happiness; wealth perhaps, but I think the most common thread is the extreme pro-big-corporation slant (whether defense, tobacco, fossil fuel).

carrot eater said...

A metaphor loses its magic if you feel the need to spell out its meaning in a footnote.

EliRabett said...

True, but there are all sorts of folk who read blogs, many of whom have never toasted starlings for dinner or understood why it is such a tasty snack.

EliRabett said...

True, but there are all sorts of folk who read blogs, many of whom have never toasted starlings for dinner or understood why it is such a tasty snack.

TimChase said...

Hi Eli,

I hope you don't mind if I post the following announcement regarding the personal attacks upon climatologists. Beginning with:

Competitive Enterprise Institute to sue RealClimate blogger over moderation policy, comment 19
November 26, 2009 at 1:49 pm
http://climateprogress.org/2009/11/25/competitive-enterprise-institute-to-sue-realclimate-blogger-over-moderation-policy/#comment-212305

... I outline a possible response to the personal attacks upon individual climatologists including the hacking of email belonging to climatologists at Hadley CRU for the purpose of a disinformation campaign and the declaration by the Competitive Enterprise Institute of the intent to launch a lawsuit against Gavin Schmidt of Real Climate. I give figures for the funding of the Competitve Enterprise Institute by Exxon, Scaife, Bradley, Koch and Coors foundations and -- while it yet has to show up -- more broadly funding received by denialist organizations from the Scaife, Bradley, Koch and Coors foundations where the denialist organizations are also part of the Exxon-funded network for attacking climatology. Note that for this last part, assuming it doesn't show up right away, it is essentially the same as what I included in the comment on Saturday 2009-10-31 at 20:44 below the following post at Desmog Blog:

Halloween Murder Mystery: Who is killing Copenhagen?
30 October 09
http://www.desmogblog.com/halloween-murder-mystery-who-killing-copenhagen

ccpo said...

Eli,

First, as you are certainly aware, Oreske's original paper from '04 that randomly analyzed climate research as supporting or not supporting climate science found a 1000 - 0 result that all the papers were either agnostic on, or supportive of, Anthropogenically forced Climate Change (ACC) with zero refuting it.

To my knowledge, this has not changed. Do you know if the new book updates that paper at all?

I posit there are no known anti-ACC papers extant that have passed peer review, publication and post-publication review that refute any of basic science of ACC, or even the more esoteric aspects.

Am I wrong about this?

Given that people are more effectively swayed by BS than facts (this is established, not hyperbole. Nate Hagens has addressed this extensively at The Oil Drum) it would serve climate activists/concerned individuals/scientists well to use those arguments that make a clear statement in a fashion that evokes some emotion.

1000's to ZERO is pretty easy to sell.

Second, why is the memo revealed in the NYT article not stressed more? As with the denialist agenda of repeat the lie often enough, we should repeat the undeniable truth even more often. Again, this is how the public is actually swayed.

They LIED is a nice, truthful, factual yet emotional GOTCHA! Even more so when one notes that neither point above ever gets any response from denialists. (At least they are consistent in denying themselves, too.)

It should resonate that the denialists raising a stink about the e-mails (which contain nothing that even remotely calls into question the massive collection of data that is climate science) were and remain utterly silent about the memo proving their stance is manufactured. That was, and is, a true scandal, or should be.

Why do they not care that their stance is predicated on a lie?

This is a fact of history, not hyperbole based on the extreme distortions needed to arrive at a supposition that climate science is a hoax, all based on e-mails that in no way show that to be the case.

The juxtaposition of PROOF of collusion to hide the truth of ACC vs. the complete lack of evidence for the opposite is something that should be emphasized, imo.

Anyway, I'd appreciate a response to my question at the top of this comment.

Cheers

dhogaza said...

"the Competitive Enterprise Institute of the intent to launch a lawsuit against Gavin Schmidt of Real Climate"

Tom, the suit is actually to be filed against NASA, in an attempt to get them to supply information regarding Gavin's activities that was submitted a couple of years ago and rejected.

Doesn't change the sleaze factor but you should take care to be accurate (in particular, you can never file a FOIA request to an individual, only an institution such as NASA)

John Mashey said...

I second Eli's comment about Merchants of Doubt.
It will be a real zinger, and it's research is meticulous. They have dug out dime amazing bits of behind the scenes. History, including some juicy bits of Fred S.'s unrequited wishes to get high ranking government appointments where he could have strong policy impacts.

Ed Darrell said...

Starlings are not so small, compared to a tit or a chickadee. Not just noisy, but noisy in gangs.

Starlings drive songbirds out of their nests, harass the songbird young, steal their food, and generally pose a barbarian-style blight upon the bird world. Starlings steal the crops from farmers, and perform no useful service in return (like eating insect pests, or providing Beauty and Song). Starlings congregate in huge gangs in cities, befouling automobiles, sidewalks, and giving people heebie-jeebies whenever they remember the old Hitchcock movie.

Altogether, you give the starlings too much credit. The birds, I mean.

Anonymous said...

oh no, Mashey's here too now.


Hey Eli, seeing you're looking for a new name how about a sub-category?

Verifiers.

this sub group wants to see the data, the source code, the methodology of all studies that receive public funding.

Holly Stick said...

Do some biology classes still teach budding young scientists to dissect starlings?

EliRabett said...

Anon, get thee to stoat where Wm lifted some stuff from Slashdotto stoat, and you can read all about why you are a charming starling.

"I work with this stuff. Every day. 40 (well more like 50-60) hours a week. It took years of study for me (and everyone else) just to get to the level where you can properly understand what it is, exactly, that I do. That's what being an expert at something entails. Now when I get into a dispute with someone, they typically have the same level of expertise. They know more or less everything I do. I know what they're saying, and they usually know what I'm saying.

Now you bring into that situation some layperson with their religious reasons or ideological reasons or crank personality, who wants to dispute the results of my work. So they pore over it, and they simply don't understand it. (And ignorance breeds arrogance more often than humility, as Lincoln said) But they think they do. And then they formulate their criticism. Even if that criticism makes sense (often not), it's typically wrong at the most basic level. And that will practically always be the case - because there's virtually *nothing* in the way of criticism that a beginner would be able to think of that an expert hadn't thought about already. You're just not going to find a professor of physics having made a mistake of forgetting the first law of thermodynamics."

This is about just about everything. Einstein was a trained physicist, Bozo was a clown. Don't be a starling.

Anonymous said...

Bullshit Eli. Einstein's theories weren't exactly tied to funding sources and fast forwarding the global economy to de-carbonization policies which has been happening naturally anyway since the advent of the industrial revolution and costing $568 trillion this century in both growth trajectory (and out right costs).

In any event I like you because you're from Crooklyn and that alone negates every other negative about you if there were any. :-)

ccpo said...

6:29 anonymouse, what big hyperbole and logical fallacies you have!

A: Gets funded to find answers that pleases its masters.

B: Gets funded to find answers that pleases its peepers.

Which, little mouse, should the cat eat?

A: Makeses papers that pleases its masters.

B: Makeses papers that pleases its peepers.

Which, little mouse, should the cat eat?

A: Findses its papers in tatterses after peeped by others peepers.

B: Findses its papers peeped by otherses' peepers in jurnalses.

Which, little mouse, should the cat eat?

A: Hases memos that tells of its uh-ohs, i.e. its lieses about the B mouseses' papers, published in papers and peeped by millions of peepers.

B: Hases memos that tells of its workses and frustrationses with little mouses lying out their asseses, also peeped by millions of peepers because little mices went stealing their memoses.

Tell me, little mouse, which should the cat eat?

A: Seeses meltses and fireses and warmeses and gone glacierses and habitats' gone traces, but sayses its peepers sees only lieses and conspiracies.

B: Seeses meltses and fireses and warmeses and gone glacierses and habitats' gone traces, and sayses OH, #$@^ses! and doeses more sciences.

Tell me, little mouse, which should the cat eat?

And verification, as it should, responds, "flities."

Anonymous said...

last anon:

Are you insane? It's just not public monies going to fund these activities but the entire world is about to embark on molesting the GDP growth trajectory by 1 to 2% per year for the next 100 of years.

As I said, we need to verify the data and the methodology used.

If there is any fraud and I'm not saying there is, but if there is any, then we should accommodate the fraudster next to Bernie's cell.

ccpo said...

Re Anon @ 10:43

I'm sure you check the data for every plane before you fly, as well as the entire crew and every employee of the airline. After all, PLANES FALL FROM THE SKY, AND IT'S OFTEN (USUALLY?) HUMAN ERROR.

I'm sure you test every food item you buy, every hand it was processed by, every machine it got near, every pasture it grew from, every truck it rode on... because, by god, SOMETIMES PEOPLE DIE FROM TAINTED FOOD, AND IT'S OFTEN HUMAN ERROR, AND EVEN INTENTIONAL.

I'm certain you carry no insurance of any kind because the chance that your house will burn or you'll have an accident is far lower than the chance AGW is real. RIGHT?

Silly rabbit, kicks are for druggies.

Anonymous said...

What a stupid analogy. Planes are checked and crossed checked every-time they fly. I don't check them as I wouldn't have any way of knowing. However my ticket price is supposed to indirectly cover the cost of hiring experts.

Your food example is incoherent nonsense.

I buy home insurance because it's very low cost.

AGW insurance may turn out to be fine, although it is not low cost.

However I would like to see the data and the methods verified by qualified personnel.

EliRabett said...

Buying low cost home insurance is not necessarily a smart thing. Not all the companies are there, or ready to pay off when the crunch comes, but yes, insurance is shared risk.

Then again, you ain't qualified and the people who are are telling you that there is a significant risk, and the economists are telling you that the insurance is a good buy, and you are shopping for an opinion.

Good luck but Eli suspects that you will find what you are looking for.

Anonymous said...

Eli

"low cost" wasn't meant to suggest going to the most deadbeat insurer and buying the product from them. It was meant to suggest that it's low, or rather insignificant cost in being able to afford it.

Which economists are telling me there is significant risk? Nordhaus?

Anonymous said...

Eli:

That you ‘re smart dude I have not doubt and I’ve read your blog for a long time gaining bits of important information from time to time. What pains me is figuring out the strong desire by you and others to mitigate AGW when on a GDP basis it’s not the most effective way to go forward. Help me out with this if you can.

Global real GDP is around $65 trillion. Estimates about the costs of mitigation suggest we’ll be lopping off around 1% from the potential GDP growth trajectory. (Real global GDP growth has been accelerating at an exponential rate since the industrial revolution, slowly at first and then compounding began to take hold).

Assume the annual growth rate of 3.5% per annum. I think the average will be a lot higher than that over the next century but lets go with that figure.

Annual Global GDP by 2100 will therefore be ($65 trillion compounded @3.5%) around $1,487 trillion unmolested by mitigation.

Stern whose work (which wasn’t peer reviewed and more than a few people have deemed to be based on faulty economic reasoning) suggested that if we don’t mitigate AGW damage will cause 20% loss in projected GDP by 2100. We assume that and unmolested, AGW impacted GDP will be ($1487 * 80%) $1,189 trillion.

Stern tells us we need to buy insurance that will cost us 1% of the globe’s annual GDP to mitigate for AGW which means we lop 1% of the growth rate and molested GDP becomes ($65 trillion compounded @2.5%) $614 trillion.

Unmolested GDP $1,487 trillion. We lose 20% and it becomes $1189 trillion

Mitigated GDP is $614 trillion.

Why mitigate?

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

Great way to frame the issue. Instead of looking at CO2 as a global pollutant that will do massive damage to the oceans, coastlines, agriculture, forests, wetlands, rainforest, species (even humans), we can instead reduce the issue to one concept based on a few simple numbers.

Mitigated GDP vs Unmitigated GDP.

Based on your analysis, I have decided to cancel my trash pickup and instead just pile it up on my neighbor's property. Maybe I will just burn it. Recycling is just another expensive form of mitigation. Why mitigate?

--Mike#22

Anonymous said...

Mike:

Sorry, but the rational discussions always needs to go to human welfare which is paramount.

Deal with it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

And of course, human welfare is completely dependent on having a viable environment.

Which we won't have at a global temperature increase of 7 deg C.

But that doesn't matter to me, because today in 2009, I have used your wonderful analysis to externalize the costs of my trash by throwing on someone else's lawn. Same thing we are doing with our CO2. Very sound financial advice!

--Mike#22

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

And of course, human welfare is completely dependent on having a viable environment.

Which we won't have at a global temperature increase of 7 deg C.

But that doesn't matter to me, because today in 2009, I have used your wonderful analysis to externalize the costs of my trash by throwing on someone else's lawn. Same thing we are doing with our CO2. Very sound financial advice!

--Mike#22

John Mashey said...

The assumption of indefinite GDP growth...
I think is a bogus fantasy by economists who think there is no connection between economy and energy.

Ayres+Warr's models seem much more plausible to me, i.e., that in the usual neoclassical growth equations, the ~60% that is often labeled "Total Factor Productivity", is much better modeled by:
work = efficiency * energy used.

See Ayres, 2005, look at last page.
Alternatively, look at Charlie Hall's Balloon Graph and reflect on the fact that EROEI's are declining, because we've *found* the easy high-EROEI stuff. I used to help sell a lot of supercomputers to petroleum geoscientists, because by the 1990s it was getting much harder.

Anonymous said...

The assumption of indefinite GDP growth...
I think is a bogus fantasy by economists who think there is no connection between economy and energy



Mashey, please shut up. You don't know what the hell you're talking about most times.. least about economics.

Drag up a third rate carbon copy of Malthus as a voice of authority isn't going to scare me or any other reasonable person.


You're on almsot every freaking blog preaching this left-coast 'we're all doomed" crap and it's really annoying. Find a hobby like golf or something and stop talking yourself into the notion we're reaching the end of times.

Malthus was wrong then and his disciples are wrong now. deal with it.

Anonymous said...

And of course, human welfare is completely dependent on having a viable environment.

the precautionary principle works both ways, fella.

You tell me we need to spend $600 trillion to mitigate over the next 91 years as a precaution, I'll equally turn around ask tell you to be cautious before we spend that kind of treasure.

Anonymous said...

One other thing Mashey.

You're quite content to look at long term temp chart that shows warming over the past 100 odd years and extrapolate that into a significant linear progression out another 100 years.

However apply the same logic of extrapolation for long term GDP projections and you peddle Malthus.

Seriously man, you need to take a rest.

John Mashey said...

Eli: once again, I pleadddd for somehow disabling Anonymous, or to repeat my old comment:

"the *opinions* of anonymous posters are at best, worthless, i.e.:

IUOUI: Ignore Unsupported Opinions of Unidentifiable Individuals

EliRabett said...

Generally kicking them between the legs works. Other than that they tend to burn themselves out.

Anonymous said...

Mashey:

The only thing you need to disable is you own computer. Turn the thing off, stop surrounding yourself with like-minded end-of-world left coasters and take up golf.

You're now preaching Malthusian belief systems as peer reviewed crap. Get a life son.

Joshua Halpern said...

Since Malthus and much of the derived work was peer reviewed . . .

plonk

Anonymous said...

Halpern:

The reference to "peer review" was a reference to Mashey's links, which I didn't open as I assumed they would be swill (I thought it was his usual modis of calls to authority).

You're right, it wasn't peer reviewed nonsense, it was some useless site peddling peak oil and other peaks.


Eli:

Instead of dismissing my earlier comments with a promise you too will place you hands firmly over your eyes, perhaps you shouldn't ignore them and offer a response.

The real question for you, Eli is do you think mitigation will cost more than the anticipated damage on this figures I presented.

You're always pretty quick with a pithy response so I'm more than a little surprised you're doing the Mashey eye covering routine.

Anonymous said...

the *opinions* of anonymous posters are at best, worthless, i.e.:/i

Mashey let me remind you that the blog owner's real name isn't Eli Rabbet, dopey. lol.

ccpo said...

Wow. The anonymice are just as *beep!* here as elsewhere! There must be a globally linked genetic family involved.

Peak Oil. Ummm... if you don't understand that a finite resource exploited at an exponential rate WILL reach a peak in production and WILL eventually be gone (for all intents and purposes), you're flippin' brainless.

The issue is one of when. Crude oil production has been flat for five years now. During that time prices have been as much as 7 times what they were in the early 80's. Your typical economist would tell you that's impossible.

But it ain't. Prices are still 3 to 4 times what they were in the early years of this century. Where, pray tell, is the additional production bringing the prices down?

As for Malthus, many people don't understand a few basics, the most important of which was that Malthus wrote before the discovery and use of massive amounts of oil.

The world is very much determined by thermodynamics. A hell of a lot more energy in a resource-rich environment? WTF would you **expect** to happen? A fall in population? For chrissakes, man! That's a recipe for a boom in population, and that is exactly what happened. Criticizing Malthus without factoring in oil is pure ignorance.

If you want to know what Malthus would have written in modern days, read "Limits to Growth," then read "Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update." Not surprisingly, of their scenarios, one has tracked quite well what has happened.

Seriously, what do you not get about yeast in a jar?

Worse still, oil isn't the only thing we're using up. Fisheries, soil, uranium, rare earths...

Wake up, anonymices. Your tails will not be the last things you lose if things don't change relatively quickly.

Hint: If we accepted that every barrel of oil/tar sands hydrocarbons on Earth we can get our hands on, that resource would last a little over 40 years if today's US consumption level were global. If we accept the reality that of **recoverable** hydrocarbons there are several times less than that, it lasts about 7 years.

There is no better example of Malthus and overshoot. Except maybe that fish stocks have fallen immensely. I believe 95% of large fish are gone.

Do the math.

Anonymous said...

Do the math?

You mean look at the price of comods for the past 150 years and see the trend point downwards far all this time making commods the worst single investment of the past 150 yesrs and I'm supposed to believe you and Malthus.

As they say in Crooklyn. Get the f... out of here.