Friday, November 16, 2012

Eli Has Seen This Movie Before

There are useful discussions about the new Dutch climate change discussion blog, Climate Dialog, at Real Climate, the Weasel's, Our Changing Climate and, well, Climate Dialog.  The blog is unique because of Dutch government.sponsorship
Climate Dialogue offers a platform for discussions between (climate) scientists on important climate topics that are of interest to both fellow scientists and the general public. The goal of the platform is to explore the full range of views that scientists have on these issues.
and what is supposed to happen is that the owner/operators will get experts to write position posts from a variety of viewpoints.  The first was on Arctic ice melt, and well, they got two experts, Walt Meier of the US National Snow and Ice Data Center and Ron Lindsay from the Polar Science Center of the University of Washington.  They also got Judith Curry, of the Sgt Schultz School of Atmospheric Science.  The first two wrote interesting essays based on the literature.  The last gave her opinion, which, as several have pointed out, was at best loosely fact based and in particulars not.  She also displayed her well known Italian Flag of Statistical Ignorance.

Now some, not Eli to be sure, wondered why Curry was not balanced by someone who was really strongly agitated by the goings on in the Arctic like Peter Wadhams, but Eli has another point, which is that this whole thing is playing like a re-run of the late and not lamented Nature Climate Feedback launch.  Remember that?  You were probably too young, but Eli is an old bunny.

Same playbook,
Here at Nature, we have launched Climate Feedback with the aim of providing a forum for authoritative discussion on climate issues, hosting a balance of voices and a diversity of well-informed opinions. We will discuss the broader issues surrounding climate change, as well as cutting-edge climate science. Our goal is to provide a respected and trustworthy source of discussion and debate for a wide audience, from climate scientists to the scientific public.
and those "authoritative voices" of course, belonged to the like of Roger Jr. (who delivered two of the first posts to set the tone, along with Hans v. Storch who had one whacking the hockey stick).  Roger, of course got it completely wrong.  They never really recovered and recently folded.

Eli respects two of the editors Rob van Dorland and Bart Strengers, the third, Marcel Krok appears to be your garden variety churnalist, but Rabett Run will take a wait and see on him.  The advisory board looks fine, how could it not with Bart Verheggen there, but the path forward will be difficult.


bill said...

So, the 'legitimate scientific debate' is between 2 'alarmists' who appear to have been chosen at least partly because they won't actually say anything alarming enough to really startle the horses - but who possess relevant expertise - and, in the absence of any actual expertise in the, after all, wafer-thin contrarian ranks, a generalist rejectionist who 'speaks from the gut'?

And this was put together by another rejectionist 'third' in the form of an M&M promoting churnalist? Yielding a result of, what? '1/3rd of scientists don't think that the Arctic sea-ice decline is necessarily anthropogenic'? (Though don't look too hard at our numbers on that! It is, after all, 'the vibe' that counts in science...)

Now, there's a take-home message! Those scientists never can agree, can they? With all their debate it's scarcely worth doing anything then! Particularly since the newly-legitimized authority of 'the gut' also tells us it's going to cost us $gazillions (with hand-waving references)...

The tactical naivety of our side in this debate is enough to make you weep, it really is. The stakes could scarcely be higher, and yet Pollyanna is regularly given the reins...

Still, look on the bright side; we have seen the movie before, and most-likely it'll simply go straight-to-video without doing too-much damage on the way! :-)

dbostrom said...

As we're at Rabbett's I'll just drop the euphemisms and dancing around what's plainly obvious. This is a useless exercise, a project to stack yet another brick of inertia on the wall of shame we're building ourselves.

What possible insights are left to discover through dialog between the intellectually disintegrated people who label themselves "climate skeptics" and the coherent scientific community?

Does Climate Dialog have a planned end date, or is this an open-ended wind tunnel for decades more hot air? 6 months should be plenty adequate to build a Cliff's Notes version of the prior wasted decades of prevarication and obfuscation, surely.

David B. Benson said...

Yes, I would say this is ignorable if it were not so deplorable.

Steve Bloom said...

Eli is far too kind to Bart.

The type is nothing new, recalling Robert Frost's comment from a century or so ago:

"A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel."

And of course there's no end to it since they see it as the highest virtue.

Hank Roberts said...

Magnus Westerstrand said...

Scientists giving in to PR and politics... seams to do so without understanding what they are doing...

Anonymous said...

Just another rendition of the Banality of Balance.


Bart said...

Thanks Eli.

I share your concerns, but OTOH, the question we ought to ask ourselves is how are we going forward in this cold-war type state between mainstream science and its critics? Everything we tried so far has failed. So to those saying this is dangerous, bad, or what not, my question would be: What do you suggest we do instead to regain the public's trust in science and stop the cold-war type state that is clearly detrimental to science's credibility?

Btw, Wadham was invited to participate, and accepted but then declined, see Marcel Crok's comment:

"Several people have asked why we didn't ask Peter Wadhams to participate. Well the answer is, we did ask him. He was really enthusiastic about our initiative and agreed to participate. When the deadline came closer, it turned out, unfortunately, that he was too busy, and in the end he was unable to write his guest blog. We heard this only last week. I then asked Maslowski as a logical 'substitute' of Wadhams, but he didn't answer my email.
We also asked Jamie Morison of UW in Seattle. He couldn't make it as well and suggested amongst others to contact Ron Lindsay. Lindsay agreed to write his guest blog in a very short period, for which I really thank him.


willard said...

Speaking of Crok:

> A late report on my visit to Holland. I don’t think that I’ve talked as much in a month as I did in 36 hours in Holland. I had two main presentations -one at KNMI in the morning; one at the Free University in the afternoon. I also had two long newspaper interviews and a long meeting on Friday morning with a Dutch mathematician. After the KNMI presentation, I had lunch with Rob van Dorland, Nanne Weber, Jos de Laat of KJNMI, all of whom were very cordial, and spent much of the afternoon talking with them. Throughout I was very cordially entertained and guided by Marcel Crok of NWT (and his charming wife) Any success that I had was largely due to Marcel’s initiative.

Ah, the good ol' days.

willard said...

An interesting comment from that thread:

> 1. I think some of the points (PC1 versus reconstruction, number of PCs) have validity and that you are to blame for overstating and misstating your case. Continuing to protect your honor with lame debate comments like citing the EE paper (telling the truth in EE doesn’t justify a lie/error in GRL, Steve), is a waste of time. Just concede valid points and move on. Your Huybers performance was disgraceful.

> 2. Why was your presentation over-technical and over-time? For someone who touts his business background, this is completely unsat. Show some sympathy to your hosts and your audience. Learn how to give a talk. Did you really need to flop to learn that or couldn’t you read a book or do some practices with a critic, etc. The NASA pub (written in 1955) has good brief direction on the philosophy of science talks, Steve. You shouldn’t have to “rediscover North America” by learning on your own that talks are less technical then papers.

I'm missing TCO almost as much as bender.

willard said...

PS: For those who are reading the exchange between TCO and Steve, I believe that TCO is referring to John Hunter, not John Cross.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

I notice that Dr. Inferno has put in an appearance in the comment section there.

dhogaza said...

"the question we ought to ask ourselves is how are we going forward in this cold-war type state between mainstream science and its critics?"

Not by giving Curry a soapbox. Please. If you can't find a skilled skeptic, can't you find an honest one?

It's the false equivalence that I think disturbs most.

What have skeptics been wanting most of all? A place at the table. You're giving Curry a place at the table which gives her denialist position (cloaked in carefully chosen bits of science) the same level of credibility as those who work in the mainstream.

If I were to host a discussion on issues in evolutionary biology today, I would not add William Dembski as an invited "expert" to sit at the table to give "balance".

I know you've been dealt a tough hand to play by the groundrules laid down by government, but ... no good is going to come of this.

If I were a specialist in arctic sea ice, why would I want to play this game? Curry has a long history of spewing patently false crap, and when called on it, refusing to admit to error (just like any garden variety denlalist). The presumption behind the format chosen for climate dialogue is that you'll find "skeptics" both skillful and *honest*, and Curry fails on both points.

I don't know the answer to your question, but I do know that from what we've seen thus far, climate dialogue is not it ...

dbostrom said...

Bart: ... the question we ought to ask ourselves is how are we going forward in this cold-war type state between mainstream science and its critics?

By brushing undeserving critics aside, at long last. There's no obligation to serve the needs of these critics; there's no "fair" in mathematics, there's no "fair" in physics. Critics of Curry's stripe are simply on the wrong side of facts. Tough, too bad; let them figure out how to rejoin the world of integrated thinking.

If Dr. Curry wants to talk, don't let her ignore the rubber checks she's written and scattered all over the landscape:

"You earn your place by keeping your account of truth in balance. You don't get to run a negative balance, so come back when you're prepared with an explanation of everything you've said in the past. Earn back the respect you've wasted."

It's about accountability. Each time somebody is wrong they should own that history; each discussion should not be considered a fresh start in life with no responsibility for history.

dbostrom said...

Meanwhile, lots of remarks along these lines (lifted from RC):

I had hopes; HAD is the operative word. I responded, as a professional geologist, to an utterly-incorrect and ofttimes-debunked geologic notion the deniers like to trot out (“we cannot tell the difference between CO2 put out by a volcano, and CO2 we put out, and anyways, volcanoes release more CO2 then we do. Oh, and Mauna Loa sucks, too.”

Bullshit. The USGS, in numerous studies, has put that to a lie, and I *respectfully,* never having uttered “f**k* once, refuted that in a reply to CD.o, and my comment was * disappeared. Clearly, it’s just a house organ for Curry et al, to promulgate the appearance of real science, while in reality, it’s just another ‘Let’s make ONE HUNDRED per cent sure we know what we’re seeing, *then* do something about it.”

Long story short: deus ex machina acting in favor of restoring "balance" to facts, hiding truth. We might ask, "what's up with that?" Is there some problem with the matter of truth massing more than bullshit that scales must be tipped?

Bart, this is a waste of your time. Do something more useful, such as persuading AGU and MIT to tell Lindzen that while his early research is honored he cannot expect employ their names to legitimize the rubbish he spews on Australian talk radio, etc. It's time to change tactics.

EliRabett said...

In one sense Eli quite agrees with Bart but draws different conclusions. First, avoid global issues where nutters will flock in from all over the globe. For example, how should the Netherlands build sea wall protection, what investment is needed now, what can be put off, what are the design criteria. You need to build audience and given your remit it is vital that the audience be local and committed

Your protection against the nutters is the sensible audience you build. They will not continence any take over from the extremes if they establish ownership of the blog (yes dears, you have shares in this place).

Second, balance your panel and be very careful if it shifts your Overton window. You need not only middle of the roaders, but if you have someone from, let us say an extreme side, find someone from the other side.

Third, editors EDIT. Don't accept shoddy work but make people justify their claims (that was the real problem with the Curry piece, not Curry herself).

Best (Sincerely)

dhogaza said...

"Third, editors EDIT. Don't accept shoddy work but make people justify their claims (that was the real problem with the Curry piece, not Curry herself)."

Well, it is a problem with Curry herself. She'll get away with whatever you let her get away with.

And, judging by her early forays into RC, if you don't let her get away with it, she'll take her ball and run home rather than play according to the rules.

Lotharsson said...

"And, judging by her early forays into RC, if you don't let her get away with it, she'll take her ball and run home rather than play according to the rules."

Which would be a borderline decent outcome on this new site, methinks - it would be telling, at least.

Anonymous said...

"Red Flags"

-- by Horatio Algeranon

Italian flags are flying
There's really no denying
If you don't edit
You can bet it
Will be rather trying

EliRabett said...

Re Waldhams, but why did you not wait. That is going to be a very important issue in the future.

Hank Roberts said...

> I would say this is ignorable
> if it were not so deplorable.

Gilbert and Sullivan?

Lewis Cleverdon said...

So which government has the integrity to launch the requisite forum -
that is, one where highly informed people
- who are fully aware of the massively understated threat of climate destabilization -
can debate first the requisite mitigation measures,
and second,
the actual real-politique that obstructs that mitigation and how best it can be overcome ?

Pissing around with whether AGW is real, anthropogenic, happening, problematic, etc
is ceding the agenda to the deniers' sponsors.

Anonymous said...

"Certain Confusion"
-- by Horatio Algeranon

When experts disagree
The public comes to be
Confused by uncertainty.

Erik said...

The bunny writes: he advisory board looks fine

almost fine would be a better choice of words. Heaven knows why they invited Jaap Hanekamp, a former member of CFACT and the Dutch anti-science organization De Groene Rekenkamer.
Guess they wanted a skeptic in the advisory board too, but still.

David B. Benson said...

Which movie? Three Penny Opera?

Anonymous said...

here's a comment that i made at Bart's a while ago that seems relevant wrt to the desire 'depoliticize' climate science discussions.

"what's missing is an explicit recognition that because climate change science is being deployed in a highly politicized environment, how climate scientists choose to communicate with the public and what they choose to focus on become inherently political choices. whether you like it or not, you are into the fray. The choice of topics covered by McIntyre, RPJr, Curry, Fuller, or Mosher reveal much, and in some cases more, than their actual comments on the topic. When you suggest the following:

“Decreasing the polarization, while remaining true to scientific standards and to (our best interpretation of the) facts, should be one of our primary concerns.”

you are making a value judgement that decreasing polarization is intrinsically a worthwhile objective. The problem with this view is it ignores the fact –which you acknowledge in your post — that this polarization stems not from objective misconceptions (the deficit model), but rather from identity politics. The logical consequence then is that you’re saying that we should all share the same values.

Now I realize that you probably don’t actually believe that. But in that case, I’d suggest that the solution isn’t to decrease polarization, but rather openly accept it for what it represents and confront it head on. I realize that you’re probably a non-confrontational person by temperament, but the inclination towards moderation (i.e. a pox on all their houses) is not always a virtue. As Mr. Wilde said a while ago:

“Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.”