Friday, April 09, 2010

The sadists, the masochists and the scientists

Andy Revkin moves to the opinion side of the house, George Monbiot tries to pull out of the CRU hole, Stoat foams at the mouth about the whole thing

And (rather small beer by comparison) Monbiot thinks that cliamte scientists are like paedophiles (I exaggerate just a little for effect, you understand). But its still hopeless stuff, even if mt likes it. The best defence of Monbiot I can think of is that he is just using this incident to push his pet point of view with no great interest in reality, which is sad.
and, predictably CP Snow's two cultures business comes up again, even after Eli dipped into that one
So, what's going on Eli asks?

Well, IEHO, there is a disjunction, but it's a strange one. Scientists can't figure out why reporters keep giving space to denialists who keep on burning them and, of course, the denialists keep on burning them and the reporters keep on taking it.
Eli is pleased to note that Monbiot, provided an important clue to what's happening. The reporters are the masochists, the denialists, the sadists, and the scientists? We just want to be left alone to indulge in some interesting straight sex.

What's your pleasure?


pough said...

Being a layperson (no pun intended) my pleasure is voyeurism.

Vinny Burgoo said...

Eli is pleased to note that Monbiot, provided an important clue to what's happening. The reporters are the masochists...

I disagree. If an activist/reporter like Monbiot shows anything about reporters in general, it's that reporters are masturbators, not masochists. Monbiot gets off by stroking his own virtue. Hey! I'm just George. I just say it like it is. I'd love to give a different message but the science - see my footnotes - can't be ignored. Feel my integrity!

But, alas for his integrity, George doesn't actually read many of the references he so scientifically footnotes. Last month, for example, he paraded his grief about the imminent demise of the common frog in England. The footnoted reference for this preposterous worry? A report that made no mention whatsoever of the common frog. George had lifted the common frog's imaginary woe from a short article in the Grauniad.

And, in the article you link to, he says that there's solid evidence for the AR4's claim that 40% of Amazonian forests might suddenly switch to savannah if rainfall reduces slightly. His footnoted evidence? Two studies by Nepstad, neither of which said any such thing. George probably lifted the footnotes from a short, blustering and inaccurate open letter by Nepstad himself.

But no matter. It's the thought that counts. See my quasi-scientific references! See my open mind! See my - oh! oh! - virtue!

chrisd said...


The passing of [FOI] laws was a rare democratic victory; they’re among the few means we possess of ensuring that politicians and public servants are answerable to the public. What scientists might regard as trivial and annoying, journalists and democracy campaigners see as central and irreducible. We speak in different tongues and inhabit different worlds.

It is difficult to understand how someone like Monbiot can't see the disconnect between the purpose of FOI laws ("ensuring that politicians and public servants are answerable to the public") and the use of FOI requests to obtain scientific data. It ain't the right tool for the job.

There's nothing about contempt for such misuse of the laws that betrays a belief that all uses of FOI are "trivial and annoying."

Anonymous said...

Monbiot would do well to shore up his credibility with a visit to CA, there to deliver a sharp rebuke for McIntyre's enthusiastic abuse of the tools Monbiot values so highly.

Not likely, it's easier to take potshots at Phil Jones.

Russell said...

Meanwhile, back in Murdochland: the zombified WSJ 's leading Delta T Deadhead has declared victory in the climate wars :

inviting one to surmise, in paraphrase

So Bret Stephens is brain-dead, his conscience and journalistic competence freeze-dried one devastating scientific misapprehension, misquotation and kited factoid at a time. Which means that pretty soon Opinion going to need another flack to take his place.
As recently as October, the WSJ reported that scientists at the University of East Anglia were acting badly in response to worse harassment by a handful of inquisitorial amateurs from the Oil Patch. This mental affliction proved journalistically contagious, and rushing to construct his own cardboard consensus out of papers from the cutting room floor of scientific peer review, polemicist Stephens decayed from a skepticism ill-informed by convenient but impeachable K Street press releases to a total rejection of fact checking.

Stephens was predeceased by the WSJ’s science editor, who was not replaced in a thought-cutting measure by the papers new management. No memorial service is planned.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

Monbiot makes by brain explode in his latest column in the Grauniad: he attacks the "deletion of the emails" by quoting "delete the evidence" email. Of course this email references AR4 emails, which are clearly not deleted, since they make up the vast majority of the hacked dump, so were clearly *not* deleted...

Oh well...

Anonymous said...

Eli, mt, & Brian Williams, talking Big science, what a picture.) Your public is just to stupid to understand; misdirection & half-truth? Rabett; "Betrug", what does that mean in German? "Perhaps we can stop eating each other now and go on to developing a healthier relationship between science and the press." says mt... Besides eating the young, what else do the 'killer bunnies' eat?

Anonymous said...

MarkeyMouse quotes: "For hundreds of years, human sacrifice is believed to have played an important role of many of the indigenous tribes inhabiting the Valley of Mexico. However, the Mexica brought human sacrifice to levels that had never been practiced before. The Mexica Indians and their neighbors had developed a belief that it was necessary to constantly appease the gods through human sacrifice. By spilling the blood of human beings onto the ground, the high priests were, in a sense, paying their debt to the gods. If the blood would flow, then the sun would rise each morning, the crops would grow, the gods would provide favorable weather for good crops, and life would continue.

Over time, the Mexica, in particular, developed a feeling that the needs of their gods were insatiable. The period from 1446 to 1453 was a period of devastating natural disasters: locusts, drought, floods, early frosts, starvation, etc. The Mexica, during this period, resorted to massive human sacrifice in an attempt to remedy these problems. When abundant rain and a healthy crop followed in 1455, the Mexica believed that their efforts had been successful. In 1487, according to legend, Aztec priests sacrificed more than 80,000 prisoners of war at the dedication of the reconstructed temple of the sun god in Tenochtitlán."

All of you are no better than the Aztec mass murderer priests.

Hank Roberts said...

Monbiot pointed to this a while back:

Study of how sometimes refuting nonsense makes the people who want to believe it even more sure it's true.

Frank Bi said...

"The reporters are the masochists, the denialists, the sadists, and the scientists? We just want to be left alone to indulge in some interesting straight sex."

Eli, I disagree. The reporters are masochists who scream "Yes! Yes! Yes!" while the scientists and the institutions they belong to are, well, masochists who scream "No! No! No!", but in the end are still masochists.

And that's why scientists keep getting screwed over again and again, and that's why we, in turn, are probably screwed too.

* * *

Shorter MarkeyMouse: The Aztecs sacrificed people, therefore global warming is a hoax.

-- frank

dhogaza said...

"Shorter MarkeyMouse: The Aztecs sacrificed people, therefore global warming is a hoax."

God killed his own son. What does that tell us about global warming? :)

Anonymous said...

But there's so much more to BDSM than just S&M! Can't scientists at least have some bondage?

Russell said...

dhogaza said...
"Shorter MarkeyMouse: The Aztecs sacrificed people, therefore global warming is a hoax."

In concord with Aztec theology, Fox TV thinks the way to deal with global warming is to open up climate modeler's hearts and let the sun shine in.