Deniersberggate, Molehills and other Denialist Amuse Bouche

Sometimes, you have to laugh or you’ll poke your eyes out with a rusty spork…

I thought that, for fun, I’d do a bit of a summary of posts I found amusing, in the funny or satirical or farcical sense. My top two climate science “skeptic” bloggers, Anthony Watts and Steven McIntyre, provide much material.

Starting off is Anthony Watts, who perhaps has the most chuckle-inducing post up about Congressman Markey’s suggestion that deniers start their own country on the iceberg that recently broke off Greenland, which he labeled “Deniersberg”. I’ll call it “Denialsberggate” because I sense Watts would like to build this up into something mountainous, when it really is just a anthill crack in the sidewalk of life.

Here’s Markey, as quoted on The Hill blog:

“An iceberg four times the size of Manhattan has broken off Greenland, creating plenty of room for global warming deniers to start their own country”

Watts is really reaching here and is doing his best to build up a head of foam about this, suggesting it is akin to the concentration camps to which the Japanese Americans and foreign nationals were sent after the attack on Pearl Harbour (Canada participated in this insanity as well).

Pardon me while I laugh myself silly. I thought that “alarmists” were the ones with no sense of humor. Sheesh. It’s just more of the old false-affront at the term “denialist” and the attempt on the part of some deniers to link the term to Holocaust denialism. It’s pure hogwash of course, but anything to rouse the rabble and feed the tip jar, I suppose…

Over at Climate Audit, Steve McIntyre is honking on once more about Mann and Bristlecones. My goodness — is there nothing new in the world of climate science denial? I guess not. McIntyre has his millstone and he is going to grind grind grind it to death.

Here’s more:

One of the large issues in respect to MBH98-99 was the impact of bristlecones. Eventually, even Wahl and Ammann conceded that an MBH-style reconstruction did not “verify” prior to 1450 at the earliest without Graybill bristlecones. However, for the most part, the Team avoided talking about bristlecones, most often trying to equate no-bristle (or even no-Graybill) sensitivities with no-dendro sensitivity. Over-generalizing criticisms of bristlecone chronologies to criticism of all dendro chronologies. M08 adopted the same tactic – discussing no-dendro, rather than no-bristle (which was the actual point at issue.)

So, let’s step back a minute: McIntyre is blogging about a paper that is 12 years old! Why? Has he run out of material to keep the coffers filled? I mean, this is a dead horse that is getting flogged so silly it is now almost transparent — to all but his followers, I guess.

Orkneygal, for instance, has her feathers all ruffled. I mean, as a science student (oh, my! What credibility that gives), she feels so threatened by the hockey team and their chicanery:

Well scientist, as a science student at university, I care about the “no Tilj”. In fact I care quite a bit.

I care that the Hockey Team has not fully released their data and their methods.

I care that they conduct their pusedo-science behind a wall built of closed network, obfustication, obstruction and double talk, making personal attacks on anyone that questions them.

If they would just release all the relevant data and code, we would not have to depend upon people like Steve McIntyre to decode the Hockey Team’s nonsensical mish mash of inverted logic and twisted statistics.

I care that there are people like Steve McIntyre who are trying to move the state of the art of Climate Science forward, despite the attacks that he continually suffers.

I care that the Hockey Team’s results are not repeatable by others, because if the results are not reproduced, it is not science. That’s the first thing we learn in our Year 1 Ethics of Science course.

“If it cannot be reproduced, then it is not science.”

When I graduate, I hope to pursue a career in Science. I care about the damage the Hockey Team is doing to the reputation and respect of the scientific community with their approach to their use of data, methods of analysis and ethics concerning healthy and rational questioning.

So, scientist, I care quite a bit about “no Tilj”, because it says everything there is to say about the level of openess, integrity and trustworthiness of the people on the Hockey Team.

*mops eyes*

She’s using all the right in-words — hockey team, integrity, openness, and is lamenting the lack of openness, the myth about the team not releasing all their data and methods, and no one corrects her. In fact, they commend her.

Scientist shows up and provides the levity in the thread. Here’s part of his contribution:

Steve: this is almost undecipherable. I’m ready to read something and this is not it. With all due respect, your opponents should not engage with this until you can state your points. Nor should outside readers make judgements.

You start by posing the whole concern in the context of debates with Gavin on blogs, rather than with the paper itself (in contrast, the Tilj post was much better). I mean who cares what Gavin says on a blog? I guess maybe y’all do. But I’ll get interested when you rebut the paper, not someone commenting on it, who’s not even an author and just in a blog.

You show graphs and then talk about other things, right away. I kept looking at the first graph and the paragraph after and trying to understand how that figure supported that paragraph. And hoping that later on, the figure would be discussed.

The figures are all vaguelly labeled. I’m not being picky, Steve. It’s enough to have a tricky technical situation AND disagreeing parties, but to mix on poor figures and captions? label every color, every line. Write a long figure caption. Read a book on how to do that. I wouldn’t normally get pedantic about this on a blog, but your figures are always headscratchers! I can follow Id or Watts or anyone else. Not you. For years. Yes, if I spend a bunch of time and read the entire article and then relook at the figures, going back veryt often, I can usually get it. But that’s unsat.

If it weren’t for Scientist, I think I’d fall asleep reading the thread, except for the annoying sound of whining in the head post. I love the final line in this post:

Oh…and before you dismiss me for being too rough on you or wanting to talk form over function, look at the comments you’ve had so far. Has a single person come to grips with any technical issues in your commentary? You’ve got some lower level attaboys and questions and Moshpit has a shorter “huh”. [my emphasis]

Of course, Scientist is taken to task by Steve’s chorus, but he nails it with that. Steve posts something he’s hashed over a thousand times, which is over most people’s heads, and which may or may not be of any importance — probably not in the greater scheme of things —  and they just saalam and nod, praise Steve for his bravery and noble fight, and yadda yadda yadda.

If it wasn’t so typical of CA, it would be funny. Instead, it’s just sad really. But instructive.

I mean, it’s 2010 FCS, the past decade has been the hottest on record, all around the world ice is melting, there are droughts, and fires and floods and crops have failed and record temps are killing people and McIntyre is still honking on about MBH98 and the fraking Bristlecones!

One of Steve’s many defenders on the thread, AMac, has this to say:

With respect to the dominant paradigm on the climate of the past millenium or two — “Hockey Stick” has been embraced by AGW Consensus scientists, so I’ll use that shorthand — I see a great deal of explicit and implicit acceptance of both the methods and the results, within the Climate Science community. I see very little dissention from this orthodoxy (though there are a few people publishing “contrarian” pieces)…

McIntyre has burst uninvited into this happy area of climate science and upset it. We can provide our own descriptions and assign our own judgments to “upset it.” The description holds in a number of ways, some flattering to McIntyre and some not so.

Among the things he has demonstrated — at least to my satisfaction — is that the explanation that runs,”the science is settled” is false, in important respects.

In many ways, AGW Consensus paleoclimate reconstructions have more in common with Ptolmeic epicycles than with The Origin of the Species.

Much as professional climate scientists may loathe McIntyre’s demonstrations that paleoclimate reconstructions rest on a foundation of sand, this is a great service to Science, as Feynman idealized it.

For this to be true, McIntyre doesn’t have to be a nice person, or be mostly or always right, or speak in iambic pentamater. If his Climate Audit posts are sometimes correct on important matters–and they are–that is sufficient to get scientists in the Feynman mold to take notice, jumping at the opportunity to correct, improve, and expand their work. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

That has not happened and is not happening. [my emphasis]

First, he creates a straw man — the AGW Consensus paleoclimate reconstructions. Then he likens this straw man to Ptolemic epicycles and Feynman’s Cargo Cult. Talk about hyperbolic excursions! If anything should be likened to cargo cult science, it is that of the denialists. Sure McIntyre may be a statistical prodigy and all, but really, what has he done?  Question a couple of papers, point out a few data errors?  In fact, he’s made one heck of a mountain out of a scientific molehill.

That should be his epitaph — “He made a mountain out of scientific mole hills”.

Denialati believe that if they can slay Mann and MBH98, breaking the so-called hockey stick and dendroclimatology, they can dismiss out of hand anthropogenic global warming. It’s the same ol same ol.

Watts and McIntyre.

The Mutt and Jeff of climate skepticism.


About Policy Lass

Exploring skeptic tales.

24 Responses to “Deniersberggate, Molehills and other Denialist Amuse Bouche”

  1. Glad you’re taking on McIntyre. I’m not statistician, but I am a former PR guy, and have caught him in a number of fallible rhetorical constructs. His ‘work’ over the fake scandal over ‘hide the decline’ was easily debunked by reading the actual emails. With such obvious obfuscations on his part it’s easy to believe his statistical work is no better.

  2. I am not qualified to take McI on in terms of statistics. I leave that to Tamino and Rabett and Real Climate. One doesn’t need a PhD in statistics or climate science to judge McI and what his project amounts to or is all about. McI starts from the position that climate science is akin to the BreX and Enron scandals. He inserts himself into the world of climate science having no background, is upset when he is not treated like an equal, finds a few minor errors. He becomes the darling of the denialosphere because he is saying what they want to hear. He is able to gather an audience of self-styled skeptics, who, in my opinion, don’t have the ability or judgement to determine if what he says is of any value. It simply fits their ideological perspective — they are either libertarians against any government regulation of the economy, are tied to the petroleum industry and thus are against regulation of CO2 and GHGs, or are just curmudgeons – or all three! ;)

    Anyway, I came to this whole debate because of McIntyre and the so-called breaking of the hockey stick and they have always been my focus.

  3. Invoking Feynman. That’s part of a drinking game I am trying to cobble together.

  4. The denialists love to invoke Feynman’s Cargo Cult. Trouble is, few if any of them have even read Feynman’s Lectures on Physics. They don’t understand science yet proclaim (loudly) that they know better than the actual scientists who do the work.

  5. I have Feynman’s “Six Not So Easy Pieces” on the back of my toilet for bathroom reading. ;)

  6. “One of the large issues in respect to MBH98-99…..”

    …yaawwwnnn…snooorre…

    Could it be? Doctors have discovered another cause of narcolepsy: global warming deniers.

    And now perhaps Watts will be “outraged” by my apparent insensitivity to genuine narcoleptics. Congressman Markey should probably reserve some space on that big chunk of ice for all those with no sense of humor, just in case it’s contagious, and perhaps a little space for those obsessed with striking dead horses over and over again.

  7. Another variation on this story: “The iceberg treatment: The congressman, the iceberg, and a PBS freeze-out” http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/08/the_iceberg_treatment.html

    Excerpt: “Skeptic blogger Anthony Watts has already named the iceberg ‘Deniersberg.’ We could simply laugh at this, if only the far greater problem Markey personifies weren’t so serious: anyone who questions the idea of man-caused global warming needs to go someplace where they can’t be heard. That would include ordinary citizens just like me.”

  8. shewonk :
    I have Feynman’s “Six Not So Easy Pieces” on the back of my toilet for bathroom reading.

    That’s a good place to contemplate what the world would be like if Watts were in charge of specifying the plumbing code …

  9. Russell C :
    Excerpt: “Skeptic blogger Anthony Watts has already named the iceberg ‘Deniersberg.’ We could simply laugh at this, if only the far greater problem Markey personifies weren’t so serious: anyone who questions the idea of man-caused global warming needs to go someplace where they can’t be heard. That would include ordinary citizens just like me.”

    You mean like sitting quietly in the corner wearing a dunce’s cap? That’s a find idea regarding Watts. A weather reader with a high school education has really overturned the work of an entire field of science? Uh-huh.

  10. Russell C :

    Another variation on this story: “The iceberg treatment: The congressman, the iceberg, and a PBS freeze-out” http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/08/the_iceberg_treatment.html

    Excerpt: “Skeptic blogger Anthony Watts has already named the iceberg ‘Deniersberg.’ We could simply laugh at this, if only the far greater problem Markey personifies weren’t so serious: anyone who questions the idea of man-caused global warming needs to go someplace where they can’t be heard. That would include ordinary citizens just like me.”

    I’m so sick of the whinging on the part of denialists. This myth of being badly treated because of wearing the ‘skeptic’ badge is tiresome.

    Ordinary citizens are entitled to their opinion, but those opinions are worth as much as any other ordinary citizen’s — not much. What counts, when it comes to the science, is the evidence and opinion of climate scientists on the value of that evidence.

  11. Russell C :Another variation on this story: “The iceberg treatment: The congressman, the iceberg, and a PBS freeze-out” http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/08/the_iceberg_treatment.html
    Excerpt: “Skeptic blogger Anthony Watts has already named the iceberg ‘Deniersberg.’ We could simply laugh at this, if only the far greater problem Markey personifies weren’t so serious: anyone who questions the idea of man-caused global warming needs to go someplace where they can’t be heard. That would include ordinary citizens just like me.”

    Of course, when Inhofe makes a list of climate scientists he wants to put in jail when in power, or makes (has made) an igloo for Al Gore + family…the American Thinker is silent.

    Just a hunch, the American Thinker is Republican?

  12. And when other “skeptics” argue AGW supporters should be flogged,drawn and quartered, no affront…

  13. PolyisTCOandbanned Reply August 13, 2010 at 1:30 am

    I’m actually a libertarian curmudgeon drill baby driller. They don’t beleive it when I tell them that. But I am.

    I wanted McIntyre to be right. Not only did it fit with my politics, but the whole idea of an amateur citizen scientist is exciting. And actually the science and problems posed are exciting. I only pushed on McI cause that’s how I learn more and how I make sure what to believe in. By pushing on it and seeing what happens. And I found a lot of equivocating and confusion and exaggeration from McI. It’s too bad…but it is what it is.

    And I say this seasoned by years of watching the guy. Not a recent judgment. I’ve probably commented on more 2005-2006 CA threads than anyone other than Steve or JohnA. I kept waiting and hoping for the guy to produce something. Even just produce a better understood and pressure tested understanding of his opposition’s papers. But it’s just been a 5 year tease.

    The guy doesn’t get stuff done. Just sits there and strokes himself for having a popular blog and having buddies like Watts and hosannas from his readers. JEG pegged the guy a while ago…

    Although I can’t help myself from sticking a stick in his side every now and then, the best thing is for people to ignore him.

    • TCO – you’re ‘scientist’??? LOL. ”

      The TCO”. Yes, you are a libertarian curmudgeon. :) I remember reading about you on threads from the olden days at CA. I first found CA in about 2007/08 and spent some time there before moving on to other matters. I enjoy reading your posts because you are like a thorn in everyone’s side and I appreciate your democratic sensibility…

      My assessment of Steve McIntyre? He knows something about statistics and has used that to squirm his way into the denialosphere but he’s unidimensional, bleating on about the same thing ad nauseum. His legacy? Ultimately, because of his role in creating a climate of doubt along with such luminaries as Marc Morano, will be a place in the climate denier hall of shame. You have to consider who you hitch your wagon to. YMMV.

  14. Sorry for the OT:

    Interestingly, the oldest hit on the expression “JEG” refers to a post that quotes Bender answering to JEG. Since there are no older hits, one has to suppose the answer quoted must have been made instantaneously, or after the fact…

    The eldest post on CA about JEG is this one:

    http://climateaudit.org/2007/11/20/something-new-in-the-loehle-network/

    Here are the mentions of JEG:

    > Something that neither bender nor JEG noticed; [...]

    > [W]hich accordingly seemed far too simplistic for JEG.

    > Although JEG went ballistic about this [...]

    > JEG vehemently criticized Loehle on this point and, in a way, it’s more interesting to try to understand exactly what underpins JEG’s vehemence.

    > Or elsewhere JEG here [...]

    > I think that JEG has got things backward here [...]

    > JEG views this as a defect. I disagree – it’s an advantage.

    This thread is even more interesting:

    http://climateaudit.org/2007/11/21/mbh98-style-error-bars-for-loehle/

    Here is an example of the kind of fun we can have in this 283 comments’ long thread dedicated for JEG:

    > JEG’s ability to turn smart phrases while verbally tap dancing his way around this blog is most appreciated and an unexpected bonus coming from what one might expect to be a rather matter-of-fact climate scientist. His approach, while smart-alecky in context, does allow one to take a personal broadside and still chuckle at his remarks.

    That’s an interesting way to “have fun!”, to use JeanS’ wording.

  15. In the first link above, there is a link to the thread where JEG criticze Loehle:

    http://climateaudit.org/2007/11/15/craig-loehle-reconstruction

    Somehow, this thread does not show when searching CA’s search box. WordPress works is so many strange ways.

    • In the first link above, there is a link to the thread where JEG criticze Loehle:

      OMG that was the thread on which my very first CA post appears.

      I had just found CA and skeptic blogs and was trying to keep an open mind. Of course, I had read about global warming and was very interested possibly studying climate policy as a grad student in public policy. I was reeling at first when I discovered CA and because I was not up to snuff in terms of the science, I felt I had to keep an objective stance and give skeptics an honest read. I was almost — almost — convinced that SM was on to something. Over the course of several months, reading there and seeing the discussions and the tone and the content, my sense that the skeptics were onto something waned and I moved away from the dark side. :) I took a hiatus from climate science due to school and family and came back when I read about the CRU email hack. The rest is history…

      Now, I dread going back and looking at my history at CA… GAH. The internet is truly forever. There is a lot I wrote that I wish I could take back but live and learn…

  16. In a later post:

    http://climateaudit.org/2007/11/19/loehle-and-moberg/

    we learn the identity of JEG. Interestingly, his publications does not show any TEAM’s direct affiliations.

    Here is comment on the thread that made me smile:

    > JEG wants answers. But to get answers, he needs data. And to get data, he needs collaborations. Power to the man looking for answers.

    A nice way to start a story.

  17. To return on topic:

    I wonder why Watts did not think of Lincoln’s famous quote:

    > Whenever I hear any one arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.

  18. > OMG that was the thread on which my very first CA post appears.
    :-D

    It was not that bad, you know…

    No need to look back, somebody will do it for you B-)

    PS: We say **amuse-gueule**, in french.

    • It was not that bad, you know…

      No need to look back, somebody will do it for you B-)

      PS: We say **amuse-gueule**, in french.

      I pushed the envelope, and if nothing else, learned a lot about how the place works.

      Gueule? Live and learn. :)

  19. PolyisTCOandbanned Reply August 13, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Thanks Lass. Yeah, SM is intellectually dishonest and if you watch him a while you’ll catch the patterns, unless you’re just a choir member.

    Willard I figured you were French. In the middle of Spain, Sweden, etc.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Weekend Roundup – August 14, 2010 « The Policy Lass - August 14, 2010

    [...] is a quote from none other than yours truly, moi, at the top of his blog, from my recent post on deniersberggate: I mean, it’s 2010…, the past decade has been the hottest on record, all around the world [...]

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