It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fuller Wit

I don't really want to follow Tom Fuller's writing, especially since the Examiner don't allow URLs in the comments, but when someone takes you on directly I guess you need to respond.

Fuller:
Bart, I don't like your friends. Not Michael Tobis, not Eli Rabett. I am happy to engage with people who disagree with me and I stuck around while they were insulting me. But Bart, I don't know if you realise it, they were attacking Roger Pielke Sr. only because they knew I have expressed my appreciation for him in the past. They don't have the stones to confront Pielke directly, so they threw it in to hide the fact that they have relatively little to say to me. After all, Tobis said our opinions of climate change are very similar. The disagreement is about policy--which he says he doesn't want to discuss. It's not that he doesn't have a policy--he just feels no need to discuss it.
Sheesh.

" I am happy to engage with people who disagree with me and I stuck around while they were insulting me."

but didn't actually engage on any substantive points whatsoever before running away. Ducking out, so to speak.

"But Bart, I don't know if you realise it, they were attacking Roger Pielke Sr. only because they knew I have expressed my appreciation for him in the past."

Oh please. You really don't figure that prominently in my thinking, Tom.

" They don't have the stones to confront Pielke directly,"

Uh, wrong.

"After all, Tobis said our opinions of climate change are very similar. The disagreement is about policy--which he says he doesn't want to discuss"

It's your reading comprehension problem, Tom, that is exactly what disturbs me about you.

As regards policy, he and I are more or less in agreement: solving poverty cannot be separated from global energy policy, and poverty must be solved.

The problem comes when Tom takes on science.
Now isn't that exactly the opposite of what Tom says I said?

The point of this blog is to increase the science and engineering content of the public conversation. I really don't care about cap and trade vs carbon taxes; I started to get into it but then backed off.

It's obviously important, but for me it is premature to discuss details of policy all that much. Most people still don't understand what is going on; thus any policy that has any real effect is likely to be reversed. It is an absolutely crucial part of the problem to stem the tide of bullshit and get real information to the public.

Tom Fuller is among the people lacking much clue about science, but who is happy to write about it and to try to attract an audience. This is irresponsible, especially because he does not appear to be learning anything, and has not offered to explain how he chooses whom to trust.

Tom Fuller is part of the problem.

I have advised him to write about stuff he is better equipped to write about. He thinks this is insulting but it's intended as honest and thoughtful and even kind advice. Perhaps with reading skills like he displays he ought not to be writing at all.

Nevertheless Fuller is working on a "climategate" book with CA denizen Steve Mosher. Won't that be ever-so-helpful? Maybe they will finally tell us what we ought to be so upset about.

21 comments:

Tim Lambert said...

Responding to trolls just encourages them. He went out of his way to pick a fight with you and it suits his purposes to continue it as long as possible.

Anna Haynes said...

"...least reinforcing syndrome (L. R. S.). When a dolphin does something wrong, the trainer doesn't respond in any way. He stands still for a few beats, careful not to look at the dolphin, and then returns to work. The idea is that any response, positive or negative, fuels a behavior. If a behavior provokes no response, it typically dies away."

Steve Bloom said...

Upon re-reading those Pielke threads I see that Fuller made multiple comments therein. How fleeting a quantity is memory.

Marion Delgado said...

Michael, I could understand him disliking people like Eli*. But what explains him lumping you in with the bad friends?

I think it means that it doesn't matter entirely how you say something, just that you're not giving the "right" answers, and that you've achieved some notoriety in denialist circles.

If it's any consolation, I think people like you and Chris Mooney, et al., are doing the right thing. Of course the immovable objects are going to be no kinder to you than to the uncivil, but they're not whom we're trying to reach.

Pure self-interest is involved here, as well. It's entirely germane that you and Eli and the other climate bloggers are unpaid competition for him, which is a big reason Tim Lambert is right. If you suspended blogging and had all these discussions over on his page, he'd like you a whole lot more, all of a sudden.

*And he's very unfond of me :) We're, like, openly and completely contemptuous and dismissive of him (and very rightly so - he's not playing a straight game).

WV: "con me"

Scruffy Dan said...

Wow, you were firm but polite, and that is how he responds. Not a good sign.

Glad someone asked him the questions you did, sad we never got any answers.

The bottom line (for me anyways) is that if you are a non-expert (aka me) stick to the consensus position, and apply extra skepticism to those that don't. I just wish more journalists operated that way.

Charles said...

Michael, you wrote:

"Tom Fuller is among the people lacking much clue about science, but who is happy to write about it and to try to attract an audience. This is irresponsible, especially because he does not appear to be learning anything, and has not offered to explain how he chooses whom to trust."

Yup. But he has a small impact, AFAICT, so that is why I suggested ignoring him in the last thread. I agree with you and Eli: we need to take on the disinformation put out by people like McIntyre, Watts, and others who have a big impact. As Dano said, though, Tom Fuller just ain't worth it. Besides, as Tim and Anna suggest here, he at the very least acts in troll-like ways, so you don't want to encourage that.

Arthur said...

What I'm curious about is whether Mr. Fuller's confusions about the science are typical of a large group of people who listen only to certain sources, or are they unique to him?

In particular, the water vapor business seems to me what any normal person would gather from reading Lindzen's highly misleading Wall Street Journal Op-Ed from a month or so ago. There Lindzen deliberately conflated cloud feedbacks (about which there is still considerable uncertainty) with the larger and much more certain water-vapor feedback, claiming that the relationship between the two meant that uncertainty about one applied to both. Obviously, it doesn't. But any ordinary person reading Lindzen would come away deeply confused on the point.

Increasing surface temperatures necessarily force more water into the air as vapor. More water vapor means more warming since H2O is a greenhouse gas. There is no question about that, there has been none for over 100 years, and the magnitude of the effect is known pretty well from modeling (combined water vapor + change in lapse rate - a negative feedback that results from the same process - has a range of 0.8 to 1.2 (Soden and Held, 2006 - see IPCC AR4 Ch8, figure 8.14, discussion in 8.6.3.1 - around p. 631).

Increased water vapor and temperatures ought to have some effect on clouds, but the relationship is not simple: higher temperatures mean a higher water vapor concentration is needed before condensation forming clouds occurs, so depending on the detailed profile of changes, the feedbacks could lead to more or less clouds, with altitude and cloud-type dependencies. Lindzen's public conflation of the uncertainty in cloud feedbacks with that in water vapor at this point is hard to credit any positive motive for.

Worse than all that though, the continued claims by Lindzen and some other "skeptics" that climate sensitivity must be low, based on one or other poorly understood issues, has to deliberately ignore the lines of evidence not just from models, but from present observations, from relatively recent and ancient paleoclimate, and all those other sources of information on the question as summarized by Knutti and Hegerl (2008).

And to actually have a case against action, they not only have to argue that sensitivity *could* be low, the argument has to be that it *cannot be high*, because it is the significant chance that climate sensitivity is indeed higher than the currently settled-on range that is the most urgent call to action.

The whole stance is intellectually bankrupt. Why do so many, like Fuller, fall for it? Lack of critical thinking skills? Relying on the wrong sources and not reading any of the original literature (such as the papers I just cited)?

Dano said...

least reinforcing syndrome (L. R. S.). When a dolphin does something wrong, the trainer doesn't respond in any way.

Anna, that's one of our b-mod techniques for the first grader. She is a very well-behaved little darling and most folks adore her.

Arthur, IMHO he is similar to that small minority that is found in the Six Americas study. His selection bias maintains his ideological worldview, and maybe self-identity as well.

Best,

D

Dano said...

By the way, another b-mod technique I like is turnabout, where you mirror-match the offending behavior. I'd like to see 'Fullergate' in every other sentence about Tom.

Best,

D

Deech56 said...

Micheal, speaking of Tom Fuller, there's an interesting discussion about the stolen e-mails at WUWT. Apparently Charles the Moderator and Steve Mosher are roomies, and Tom Fuller was one of the first people called. All those behind the scenes doings. Fuller is up to his eyeballs in this and is pretty much a lost cause - he has his ticket to fame and fortune.

Ric said...

Tim L, don't be so quick to put MT off of troll-baiting. After all, one of MT's goals is to increase readership. Nothing like a little dustup! (Trolling gets really tiresome in large amounts, but MT has never hesitated to throw away the truly repetitive tiresome stuff.)

EliRabett said...

One is known by the enemies who whine about you.

Hank Roberts said...

So -- look, there are a lot of other "Environment Examiners" out there associated with other cities.

Why not spend a little more attention on the good ones?

http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Aexaminer.com+"environment+examiner"

http://www.examiner.com/x-27843-Honolulu-Community--Environment-Examiner?showbio

http://www.examiner.com/x-29137-Tallahassee-Environmental-News-Examiner~y2009m12d11-Chuck-Norris-is-not-a-climate-scientist-but-gives-his-expert-opinion-on-Climategate-anyway

More out there. Search.
Find new and interesting Environment Examiner climate bloggers. Encourage them and your friends to get together.

thingsbreak said...

https://www.createspace.com/3423467

The Crutape Letters
By Steven Mosher, Thomas W. Fuller

The Climategate scandal covered from beginning to end--from 'Hide the Decline' to the current day. Written by two authors who were on the scene--Steven Mosher and Tom Fuller--Climategate takes you behind that scene and shows what happened and why.

For those who have heard that the emails were taken out of context--we provide that context and show it is worse when context is provided.

For those who have heard that this is a tempest in a teacup--we show why it will swamp the conventional wisdom on climate change.

And for those who have heard that this scandal is just 'boys being boys'--well, boy. It's as seamy as what happened on Wall Street.


Oy vey.

I suppose this is the "science" education he had been hinting about:

Thomas Fuller was born in Denver Colorado and currently lives in San Francisco. Trained by the U.S. Navy in electronics and cryptography, he has been writing about technology ever since, usually market research reports with exciting titles like 'Project Global Market for Infusion Pumps 2009-2014.' This is a lot of fun by comparison.

Hank Roberts said...

But, hey, suppose you tried to point out one good, smart, credible Environment Examiner article along with each nitwittery?

Don't let people think there's only one Environment Examiner and he's fuller it.

There are as many as there are cities, at least. Some of them are smart, good writers, attentive to real news.

Example, you can find more:

No new coal plants opened in 2009
January 10, 12:36 PM
Tallahassee Environmental News Examiner Judson Parker

"No new coal plants broke ground in 2009, a result of a combination of widespread public opposition, rising costs, increasing financial risks and concerns over future carbon regulations. In 2009 twenty-six coal-fired power plants—which would have emitted 146 million tons of carbon dioxide annually-- were defeated or abandoned. This progress opens the way for a transition to a clean energy economy, including a 22.5% increase in electricity generated from wind between 2008 and 2009.

Total coal use was down in 2009 according to the Energy Information Agency , as the Obama administration is considering new regulations for the safe disposal of coal ash, and limiting emissions of mercury, soot, smog and global warming pollution from coal plants...."
http://www.examiner.com/x-29137-Tallahassee-Environmental-News-Examiner~y2010m1d10-No-new-coal-plants-opened-in-2009

And, ya know, if we actually reported in proportion to the writing being done -- there's far more competent Environment Examiners out there than bozos.

Why focus on repeating the stuff you don't think worth, er, repeating?

At least try for a 1:1 ratio?

Hank Roberts said...

> ... on a "climategate"
> book with CA denizen
> Steve Mosher

I blame myself:

http://rankexploits.com/musings/2009/new-cherry-picking-thread/

steven mosher (Comment#22417) October 23rd, 2009 at 12:42 pm
"... Sometimes I look back to 2007 when I started to hang out at RC, I didn’t know shit so I mined quotes. That way I could turn the debate to a playing field (exegesis) where refutation was well nigh impossible. All you needed was google and professional training in sophistry. And with hank roberts around most of the google searches were already done...."
--------

I'll be watching to see if this credit makes it into his book, but I somehow hope it doesn't.

dhogaza said...

Hank Roberts:

Why not ignore examiner.com until it goes broke?

They essentially sign up anyone, it appears, without any quality control at all. Don't reward them just because some who sign up are reasonable.

Regarding Fuller:

"...they were attacking Roger Pielke Sr. only because they knew I have expressed my appreciation for him in the past. They don't have the stones to confront Pielke directly..."

is hilarious. You don't need a science education to understand why RPsr hasn't allowed comments on his blog for years ... it's not because no one's had the stones to take him on.

Hank Roberts said...

> ignore examiner.com

I'd rather encourage people to reward the decent writers on the environment, wherever* they are; and when there are several under the same banner, point out the good ones rather than just giving publicity to the bad. Blogger also signs up anyone who asks.
--------
* Well, short of huffpost, where the antivax woo drove me off.

Steve Bloom said...

It's worse than that, dhogaza. Michael pointed to a couple of recent threads in which he had been scathingly critical of both RPs (this was last August re Klotzbach et al), and when I re-read them to refresh my memory who did I see multiple comments from but Tom Fuller. So Fuller either has serious memory problems or is just a bald-faced liar.

Re the Examiner(s), notwithstanding that some good people have signed up, it's owned by wingnut billionaire Phil Anschutz, so I think the best course is to hope for its early demise .

Anna Haynes said...

re TB's
> I suppose this is the "science" education he had been hinting about:

See his Sourcewatch page; no college degree, and (IMO) a half-hearted prior attempt at obfuscation.

I swear, anytime now that someone reports having studied X at Y University, I assume they didn't finish.

EliRabett said...

It was the "incoherence of denial" that won the golden bunny ears