The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Shewonk's Abstraction and Another Michael's pillar


Shewonk has something to add to the analysis as well.

In her excellent kick-butt Travesties, Train Wrecks and Climate Denial Chum she identifies
Climate Denial Chum: It’s pretty self-explanatory, but just to be clear, people like McIntyre, Watts and Curry throw bait out there knowing full well (or at least, they should know full well) that when they do, the sharks will come. Then, they do little in the ensuing frenzy. Hey – it feeds the tip jar and garners traffic
Then she does a compelling not-very-impressed analysis a thorough ass-whooppin' of Curry's blog using the example of the recent Trenberth tempest.

Finally she rescues from oblivion Another Michael's discovery of another pillar of denialism:

The ‘skeptics’ seem to have a visceral need for a face to direct their bile towards.

May have something to do with what appear[s] to be a great deal of identity politics that motiv[ates] them.

And here is the ultimate Catch-22 of the game. The Chum is not about ideas, processes, strategies, risks. It is about Trenberth, Mann, Jones, Schneider, Hansen...

They complain constantly about doors being shut and their participation being dismissed. But anyone whose name they recognize becomes something of a target.

So another pillar:
There are identifiable bad actors that cause the science to be distorted.
And a subtheme (Roger Junior's Corrollary):
Any scientist publicly supporting the idea that there is any policy implication to any science is no longer eligible to do any science.
Update: Don't miss Sou's comment #15 at the Shewonk thread on the delicate balancing act of the denier sites. I hadn't thought of this. It argues against participating.
Denier forums and denier chum forums run a very fine line. They need intelligent people to survive as they are. They can’t rely on the denier rabble alone or they would degenerate (even further) into weirdo conspiracy forums. Denier forums could not be maintained if they stuck to mainstream science because it conflicts with the objectives of the forum owners. Neither can they post only denier rubbish – they need to attract just enough normal knowledgeable people so their target audience has someone or something to bash.
(There's more.)

7 comments:

Nick Barnes said...

Also known as "Al Gore is Fat!"

Marion Delgado said...

If you don't have the science on your side, which is not about personalities, you'll try to have the politics on your side, which often is.

Deech56 said...

I've always been intrigued by Curry's take on Michael Mann and his role in the IPCC TAR. She seems to take umbrage that Mann was given a prominent role despite his junior status. Shewonk's analysis helps to put this into context.

Sloop said...

Yes Deech56,

Genuine scientific talent, when you're looking from way in the back of the Peleton of your field, peddling furiously but futilely, can be darned infuriating for the slightly unbalanced. ;-)

Layzej said...

Sou's comment #15 is spot on. By promoting the science on these sites you are granting them some level of legitimacy in the eyes of unbiased third parties.

adelady said...

Yes. Sou's comment has the *great* advantage of alleviating my occasional uneasiness at having abandoned a couple of sites.

I sort of had a version of sou's notion, just not so clearly thought through.

Anna Haynes said...

Seems to me (though I rarely do it) that it is helpful to participate there minimally, by just providing a link to relevant substantive discussion over at a more reputable blog. Then you're at least leading the innocent visitor to a better info source.