Monday, September 30, 2013

Ethon Meets the Hound of the Pielkes

There is more than some confusion about the IPCC process. Ethon has tried explaining this on several occasions, but, perhaps at this time another try would help. First there are those who accuse the IPCC of being political, second those who object to the idea that the IPCC achieves a consensus.  Ethon would simply point out that that is the plan, not the problem. 

Now some, not Eli to be sure, might wonder why politicians and political scientists are mystified that the IPCC Summary for Policy Makers has political and policy implications.  The answer is simple, every single sentence is unanimously approved by over 170 nations, each of which has a delegation consisting of politicians, policy makers and scientists.

So, as Sherlock Holmes might say, the absence of dissenters is a sure sign of a consensus.

But how was that consensus achieved?  After all there are loose canons out there, some of them have oil, some coal and some nuts.  Some statements have been modified to placate all of these, but the basis remains.  Well, that is design.  Consider, for example the Consensus Oriented Decision Making Model

  1. Framing the topic
  2. Open Discussion
  3. Identifying Underlying Concerns
  4. Collaborative Proposal Building
  5. Choosing a Direction
  6. Synthesizing a Final Proposal
  7. Closure
 and compare this with the IPCC process.  Good match there.

To summarize, the IPCC achieves consensus by design of its process. It ain't rocket science.  Folks know how to design such processes.  The IPCC at the highest level includes policy makers and politicians, but first achieves a scientific consensus before they get to put their oar in.  The policy makers then modify and approve the final consensus, line by line in the action document, the Summary for Policy Makers (as Eli puts it, really the Summary FROM Policy Makers).

So, the bunnies ask, why is there no stomping of feet and refusing to agree.  Well for one, nations don't like to look like idiots (that's the good news) and for two the reports merely show that the world is screwed without requiring actions to unscrew it (that's the bad news).


Anonymous said...


In addition to your observation, there are multiple other problems with Roger Junior's latest attempt to spin the results from AR5.

Funny, "spin" is what Roger Junior is (wrongly) trying to accuse the IPCC of doing ;) Well not "funny" really, because that is how disingenuous folks like Roger play. If anything, they are a predictable bunch.

Roger strikes down some fabricated straw men, makes demonstrably false claims, misrepresents the IPCC AR4, laments how he and his dad's genius has been ignored and how mean people have been to his dad. His post reads a bit like a self-involved soap opera.

More soon, but I encourage other bunnies to find the problems with the contents of Roger's latest spin fest.


Thomas Lee Elifritz said...

What I would like to know is how he can be so unaware or unconscious of his personal intellectual failings?

Hank Roberts said...

> unaware or unconscious
Not at all.

It's not a bug.
It's a feature.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

Smart enough to write, not smart enough to think...

Anonymous said...

"What I would like to know is how he can be so unaware or unconscious of his personal intellectual failings?"

Your hubris is only matched by the IPCC. I doubt Roger would consider you even for an internship. Space cadet.

Thomas Lee Elifritz said...

Don't worry, I wouldn't dream about compromising my integrity or reputation by either asking for one or accepting one with such an unsavory character as Roger Pielke.

I'm a scientist, and engineer and a mathematician, not a bad policy hack.

dbostrom said...

Lest we forget:

Imagine spewing all of that and then having to watch the victim deliver another report, perfectly intact.

"Futile pipsqueak." Not a comfortable costume.

Dismaying as that must be for Pielke, what's even more dismal is that Pielke is gifted with our amnesia. He's still quoted by people who ought to know better, if they showed any sign of having a function hippocampus.

Tol, too. He was one of the enthusiastic witch hunters but-- by golly-- he's actually in the fold of IPCC. Truly flabbergasting.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

J. Bostrom, The choices are
1)inside the tent pissing out (albeit with very poor aim)
2)outside the ten pissing in

It sort of puts the lie to the accusations of groupthink and confirmation bias.

Particle physics has physicists who don't believe in quarks. In the past, physics has had physicists who didn't believe in physical reality. A climate scientist who doesn't believe in climate science seems par for the course.

Thomas Lee Elifritz said...

Roger isn't a climate scientist.

dbostrom said...

I see your point, a_r_i_d_s.

Still, it bothers me is that Pielke and Tol can make specious accusations and ultimately pay effectively no penalty in credibility. Both of these fellows enthusiastically fostered character assassination of Pachauri by promoting false accusations and rumors but now it's as though none of that happened. They lent their authority to a fictitious characterization of Pachauri, a characterization shown to be wrong, yet their authority is undiminished. Pielke and Tol are still accorded the privilege of attention and polite (mostly) discourse as though they were the equals of people who are more attached to truth, more reliable, ultimately more useful.

Contrition would fix this problem but it's not forthcoming. I'm not sure the realpolitik of the climate fiasco entirely accounts for Pielke and Tol's failure to humbly apologize, or some accounting by the community at large for their failure.

Tol's inclusion in IPCC may well rebut arguments about the organization excluding "outsiders" but looked at from a different perspective IPCC may be said to be including people with tattered credibility. Is that a smart choice, when the IPCC itself is routinely attacked for being untruthful?

Albatross said...


"Still, it bothers me is that Pielke and Tol can make specious accusations and ultimately pay effectively no penalty in credibility."

Quite right. Sadly, some opportunists with an agenda see tenure as a reason to engage in slander, misrepresentation, disinformation and perhaps even unethical scientific conduct.

Anonymous said...

There are other possible tent/pissing scenarios.

i'd suggest we're dealing with inside the tent, with full and determined intention of filling the tent with piss.

John Puma

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Ultimately, science is about a faith that truth is stronger than lies, stronger than ignorance and stronger than ego. I freely admit that that is a faith-based proposition, but it is a proposition that is supported by all of the evidence over the long haul. Call it an axiom of science.

Science is not predicated on the morality of its practitioners. They are human. They are fallible. All of them. However, it has never worked to try to purge science to make it purer. Even if such movements start from pure motives, they lead to dead ends. There are rules--no plagiarism, no fabrication or manipulation of data, etc.. They are ruthlessly enforced. Being nice isn't one of the rules.

Ultimately, science takes our prejudices, vanities and ambitions, and by alloying them with our curiosity, it produces a pretty damn good approximation of truth. Often it makes us better people as well. Curiosity is the true philosopher's stone.

Anonymous said...

If I knew the link in the article led to JCurry's blog, I would not have clicked it.

Unknown said...

HI Eli,
I am concerned about Ethon's tendency to use a very wide brush for tarring. Wanted you to know I'm back, so partially just self-publicity, but honestly, I'd welcome your response...

Glad to see after several years that Texas has not yet sunk.

Hank Roberts said...

The art of this stuff is crafting loopholes, eventually, to avoid paying one's share of some cost long externalized. Over time, piecemeal, a cost that's been zero -- externalized -- gets noticed. Eventually it gets defined.
Cost comes home to roost, one way or another.

By that point the skills whetted in arguing "anything but CO2" or "anything but the IPCC" get applied with precision to carving out loopholes for some much narrower constituency.

Look at healthcare; the "medical device" tax loophole in the process of being created.

The argument always comes down to 'not my cost' == starting from 'no such cost' to 'can't prove it' to 'can't quantify it' to 'can't be me'.

Albatross said...


That is a very thoughtful post. Thanks.

The truth of the matter is that the Pielkes have manipulated the facts/truth, at least in some of their posts on blogs and on their own blogs.

"Science is not predicated on the morality of its practitioners."

I agree, but there is a problem in the real world because the people fighting against the science and policy know that public perception on these issues is predicated by the perceived morality of the scientists.

It is a loophole that the Pielkes and McIntyres and McKitricks, Currys, Moranos, Basts, Novas, Inhofes, Singers and Moncktons of the world love to take advantage of, even if it means fabricating opportunities.

Hank Roberts said...

Glad to see Fergus back.

EliRabett said...

Yep, many of us worried because of his previous health issues.

Unknown said...

Thank, Hank.
Touched, Eli - the pills do the job though, so perhaps I will stick around for a bit.

Susan Anderson said...

It might be a good idea to distinguish between Pielke Jr. and Sr. The former is the slippery one who occupies center stage in promoting the likes of extreme fossil fuels as "bridges" to inaction with the clever lukewarmism.

Now I'm probably, as often, shooting from the hip without enough care for words, so please excuse any hyperbole.

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