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)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mosher's Team

Someone claiming to be Steve Mosher, in comments:
Sorry Dehog, but I'm on the record from my first appearance on the web in 2007 at RC that the GCMs are the best tools we have for understanding future climate. I'm on the record at CA showing people how to download ModelE results and generally praising its fidelity. I'm on the record noting some of the improvements gavin has made in the documentation. I'm on the record extolling the virtues of MITs model and their approach of including software developers. Im on the record arguing that the IPCC should use the best of breed models. On the record saying that the models and the data as it stands gives us enough cause for action. NOW.

None of those positions on the SCIENCE and on the Need for ACTION, is inconsistent with my views on open data and open source and on best practices. Global warming is true. we should act now. AND hiding data and code is a short sighted tactic. Hiding the decline and other silly chartsmanship games are bad tactics. And I want my tean to STOP employing bad tactics. We've got the science on our side, there is no need for us to compromise our dedication to transparency or our dedication to the highest quality science.
Had trouble finding it. I was grepping for "team" which Mosher egregiously misspelled. Another reason not to trust the dude.

No seriously, he not only wants to be on "our" "tean", he claims to ALREADY BE.

This is kind of a bombshell. And some of my readers are quite annoyed at me for admitting that 1) I enjoy reading Mosher and 2) I think he has some sort of a peculiar ethic.

So, let me make a few points, before taking this appeal for gemutlichkeit seriously.

First, in a recent hullabaloo notable for its vapidity that spread to several blogs which I inadvertently started by being a bit harder on Keith Kloor than circumstances warranted, Mosher led the whole insane cascade of unfounded accusations to a pinnacle of baseless paranoia, claiming that because I did not reveal (as if you couldn't guess) which well known strident climate blogger snarked about Keith on an climate communicator's email list:
It seems clear to me that if a back channel discussed Kloor and then he appears on Source watch shortly thereafter, he has a justifiable belief that the two are connected. Note I dont assert that he has a TRUE belief, but his belief is warranted. To show him that his belief is UNTRUE or not warrarented
the parties to the back channel did the following.

1. the changed the topic to other peoples behavior. This increases his warrant.
2. they derailed the conversation with willardisms. This increases his warrant.
3. They took down the offending piece. This increases his warrant.
4. they selectively published information. This increases his warrant.

In short, every action they take increases his basis for belief.

They have two options: just own it; or prove that Keith’s supposition is wrong.
Any other actions just increase suspicion.
(Note that insofar as I know point 3 is wrong. To point 2, I can't control Willard. Sometimes I wish I could. To point 1, I didn't change the subject. I merely issued a verbal shrug, saying that I wish I could see the opposition's private communications too, a wish that I am hardly alone in uttering, and to point 4, I am not really at liberty to reveal communication addressed to me in private without permission, and didn't consider the matter serious enough to merit asking permission and walking the fellow-who-doesn't-like-Keith-who-you-can't-guess-who-it-is through the whole ridiculous controversy.)

My point, alas, is not to revive the controversy (comments on that matter will be summarily booted) but to raise the question of Mosher's M.O. If he is a coherent and honest person, he has no respect for privacy, and explicitly holds that anything held in confidence is grounds for suspicion. This is totally out of keeping with existing culture, so much so that I suspect it is inherently inhumane. Of course, when we think about Assange, we have to raise exactly the same questions.

How he captured the loyalty of the basically mild-mannered Tom Fuller for this extremist program escapes me. In my opinion he had reckless disregard for Fuller's well-being in doing so. Why he picked climate science is easier to understand. It would seem to be more about having a soft and essentially helpless target than about any fundamental concern for the future of the planet along other axes besides glasnost.

Thus:


Mosher.

Don't get me wrong. The scientific community pisses me off regularly and substantially. I feel like paraphrasing Einstein and saying, "Do not worry about your problems with the scientific community. I assure you mine are far greater." I understand you want to air the dirty laundry. You understand that I don't, but you don't seem to understand why I don't.

Let me explain why. It is not because I am a pusillanimous chickenshit, Mosher. It is because the fucking survival of the fucking planet is at fucking stake. And if we narrowly fucking miss pulling this out, it may well end up being your, your own fucking personal individual fucking self-satisfied mischief and disrespect for authority that tips the balance. You have a lot of fucking nerve saying you are on my "side".

Unless and until you find it within yourself to understand that you have major fucked up, big time, by throwing big juicy meat to the deniers to chew on and spin paranoid fantasies about for years, even decades, I'll take wild-eyed Frank who is inclined to start to hate me for exchanging a word with you, and gasbag Randy Olsen and the stunningly demoralizing Bill McKibben, and everybody, I'll take all of them, on my "team" before I will pass the ball to you, because I have no way of knowing which way you will decide to kick it.

I believe you that you are not on Koch's team. I think you are on Assange's team, Team Loose Cannon. Perhaps I need to put an eleventh encampment on my battle map. But you sure as hell aren't on any team of mine, not until the day you take a deep breath and say "damn, I fucked up bad!"

But you do show the world that one individual can make a difference, in the same way the idiot who put all the backup generators at Fukushima below tsunami levels showed us. Thanks bunches to both of you. You're an inspiration to us all.

regards
mt



Update: Lucia is gleefully giggling about my preposterous use of bad language and even Watts finds it worth a link. Like I said in the comments, sorry, I'm Canadian, so I'm not very good at cursing. Really, though, it's the fucking thought that counts.

117 comments:

Michael Tobis said...

Sorry, four years in Texas and I still curse like a Canadian. We only know the one bad word, you know.

Tim Lambert said...

Mosher is a troll. A post like yours is his goal.

bluegrue said...

Mosher, if you honestly were thinking that AGW is a problem and requires action, you would use your talents differently. You were one of the major actors to turn the stolen e-mails into the mountain range of bullshit that blocks the sight of the real problems. Covering your behinds by pointing to "I'm on the record" does not get you off that hook. How much do the e-mails change the science? Not a single bit. With "friends" like you, who needs enemies?

I hope you'll find redemption for the disservice you've done to mankind.

Grypo Saurus said...

You bring up an important point. There seems to be some bizarre lack of understanding within the obstructionist movement that anything a scientists says or does or emails or anything that can be recorded is a matter of public record, whether the scientist is aware of this or not. This is because we as taxpayers pay this person, therefore, their thoughts are ours for the taking. I'm unsure what the logic is here, but this is an ideological conundrum, seeing as how many obstructionists argue against action due to a rigid belief in personal liberty. A belief even the non-ideological hold dear. This personal liberty is important to them and most others for reasons that should be obvious, but in this instance, it does not seem to be. Why? As we've seen from recent attempts from right-wing groups and politicians, the academic establishment is fighting hard against these attempts to provide the public the open access to other's private communications. Academia has taken a stance that it cannot effectively find the truth while under the type of scrutiny that people Mosher advocate and take advantage of when presented to them. So how does this work itself out logically? Do these people reject that notion that academics take? It's not like we record phone calls, or tape conversations at conventions, or other such things. right? If that were the case there may be better context to fill in the blanks, blanks that so easily allow to be filled with subjective narratives that in no way can be matched up for reality, and in no way gives the person access to the mind. So what is the final goal behind wanting this access to scientist’s emails? For what reason? The open access types say it is to promote trust. But is that promoted? Climategate showed us that didn't happen. In fact, the entire reason that Climategate looks so bad is that scientists didn't trust. I wonder if scientists had access to Mosher's and McIntyre's emails, would they trust them more or less? I took a look at my own emails and realized that certain readers would no longer trust me. Any Exchange tech will tell you the same about anyone. I think we need to look at more closely the logic behind open access, what the goals are, and whether or not the extreme views of Mosher are at all necessary to the results. Especially if personal liberty and the future academia and science itself are at stake.

I’m thinking more, even about the idea of tossing certain people (naughty scientists) to the wolves, but that’s it for now.

word verification: dence

sharper00 said...

Mosher talks a good game in terms of reasonableness and balance but his actions and associations don't align with his rhetoric.

If the entire skeptic movement was more like him we'd be in better shape but I'm still not inclined to trust someone who says things like

http://climateaudit.org/2011/02/07/eric-steigs-trick/#comment-253852

"Ryan, Steve and Jeff.

The nuclear option

http://www.washington.edu/admin/rules/policies/PO/EO61.html

Misconduct:"

[quote of definition]
"Go get him. They will argue that only section E applies and not section G.

Will make for an interesting case."


I do assign him respect as an "auditor" since he at least spends time auditing crappy skeptical arguments concerning temperature and the greenhouse effect although this in itself is an indictment of the other self-proclaimed auditors and skeptical community generally.

Arthur said...

Michael, I thought you came from Quebec where all the swear words concerned the Cstholic church?

Lambert is right - Mosher's a troll. This is his (and numerous others') nodus operandi: appear to be reasonable and "on your side", but use almost all his words to criticize and undermine and prove himself superior to that "side".

Typically, with his book for example, and in comments everywhere, Mosher will spin some fancy tale, highly improbable to those familiar with the background, but plausible enough to the outside ear, with a claim this is true based on some "inside knowledge" he has. Which goes beyond anything he can openly cite, ironically enough given his claimed calls for openness! There is usually no way to prove him wrong at all. If you provide every record you have, he can claim you left something out, or that the key incriminating act happened but was not recorded.

This is why we have habeus corpus in our constitution. If you have an accusation against a man, present the evidence. Criminal defendants are innocent until proven guilty. Mossier convicts scientists with no proof at all.

greenfyre said...

@ "We only know the one bad word"

Tabarnouche, you need to visit more often, maudit Anglais.

@ "because the fucking survival of the fucking planet is at fucking stake"

That's where it is, so let's say it.

Michael Tobis said...

Sharper, a far better example of the unremitting attack that Mosher thinks constitutes team play. I myself find McIntyre's place so unremittingly bizarre that I find it almost impossible to read and thoroughly impossible to follow.

As far as I understand, this is a perfect rerun of the Mann controversy, where a judgment call in statistics is treated as a refutation, and where the resistance of the original author to calling the new analysis a refutation is somehow spun into imaginary malfeasance.

This pattern is a bit hard to understand; the journalistic attempts to summarize tend to fall a bit shy of the mark, e.g., Kate Sheppard's recent valiant attempt.

Thanks very much to Sharper for the evidence that Mosher as of very recently was in no way reconsidering his toxic modus operandi.

The amazing thing is that he really does seem to be trying to rationalize it. In that sense he is not trolling.

In a larger sense, though, trolling is at the core of the whole appalling business of substituting science denial for policy discourse.

Tim's suggestion that I am feeding the trolls therefore makes some sense. My defense is that I have been around the block with the trolls a few times by now.

I will admit to baiting the troll here; I claim that is not the same as feeding it.

I really think that Mosher believes his own press, that he genuinely believes he is the most ethical and rational player on the field and that he therefore gets to judge the rest of us, while he is immune to the judgments of others.

The fact that he and I share some sensibilities makes him interesting to me, but that doesn't make me any the less enraged by his behavior. Still, I'm fascinated by how he justifies it. I hope he takes the bait and lets us know how in hell he can sleep at night.

ijish said...

MT, first of all, please stop repeating the silly idea that 'Mosher is like Assange'. It's not clever, it's not thoughtful, it's not pragmatic, it's just really really dumb.

You said it yourself that Mosher bullies the powerless; in contrast, Assange attacks the powerful. Can the difference be any clearer?

-- frank

Tom said...

You're still a maroon, Tobis, capable of publishing fact-free posts. (Eg., that I am essentially mild-mannered. Eg #2, he didn't 'capture my loyalty'; I approached him about writing our book, not vice versa.)

Mosher is right about the effects of idiots like you on the trajectory of efforts to deal with global warming. If anything, he understates the pernicious effect of fucktards playing Stalinist football with an issue that affects every living thing on this planet.

The best thing that could happen to the struggle against global warming today would be for a Texas sized wildfire to burn the internet connections for you and the dazed incoherents that populate this and similar trash receptacles.

Michael Tobis said...

Frank, no. I am not being clever. From my point of view you are challenging me on something blindingly obvious.

One man's illegitimate authority is another man's champion of the weak, Frank.

Assange says "the more secretive or unjust an organisation is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie.... Since unjust systems, by their nature, induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance." This is exactly the same bullshit Mosher is feeding us. The difference is in your perceptions of the attacked. I agree that Assange has picked harder targets, but I promise you they don't feel any different about the whole business. Many people do feel IPCC is an illegitimate bureaucracy imposing unreasonable constraints on their individual rights.

In an ideal world, everything is open. But it's an absurd ideal; humans are not angelic, whatever their position. But opening every can of worms does not lead to an ideal world. It just doesn't follow.

Assange will publish anything. The mroe it rocks the boat the sooner. He would publish the CRU hack in a New York minute. In fact, not only has he already hosted them

http://is.gd/K4VwI4

he seems to be taking "credit" for it

http://is.gd/77amGX

Watch this, and tell me how (aside from questions of "credit") it isn't pretty much the same spin Mosher is trying to put on it.

http://is.gd/djLGys

If there's any difference, it is a mighty finely nuanced one. These guys are coming from the same place. It's, um, I want a word. It's not "totalitarian" in the sense of seeking world domination, but it is totalitarian in that a single virtue, openness, is so highly weighted in that view that it trumps any supposedly lesser virtues in S'ing TFU.

Some rightwinger came by here with some philosophical word for it; it comes down to an axiomatic worldview.

At least people with only one axiom get to be consistent. But they also get to be massively stupid and destructive as the CRU case clearly shows.

The world is multidimensional. Anyone who thinks ethics is easy is a dangerous person.

Lazar said...

"Go get him."

Yeah Mosh you really threw caution to the wind. Perhaps you could persuade your friend Steve to turn down the constant 'The Team' innuendo so this kinda thing might be avoided.

ijish said...

MT:

"I agree that Assange has picked harder targets, but I promise you they don't feel any different about the whole business. Many people do feel IPCC is an illegitimate bureaucracy imposing unreasonable constraints on their individual rights."

What utter tosh. Mosher and Fuller know full well -- as you briefly acknowledge -- that the US won't talk about extraditing them on charges of espionage, that Amazon or PayPal won't suddenly decide to cut short all business with them, that they won't be locked up somewhere in Quantico and left naked for more than twenty hours a day.

This is not "my perception", this is what can be easily observed, which is as plain as day itself. Do you think Fuller would repeatedly spam this blog with vitriol if he didn't think he could do so with utter impunity?

-- frank

ijish said...

MT, to refine my point:

Assange attacks the powerful. (Well, sometimes he leaks stuff from groups which don't have much clout. But he does attack the powerful.)

Mosher and Fuller only have the 'courage' to bully the powerless.

You just need to see the huge difference in the response of the US executive branch and the response of CRU to realize that there's a huge difference in the amount of power wielded.

And Mosher and Fuller know it.

The difference is as clear as day.

-- frank

ijish said...

And MT, any idea why my comments aren't actually appearing?

-- frank

Michael Tobis said...

The CRU hackers have not, to my knowledge, taken the risks Assange has. That is a fair distinction.

But Assange explicitly supports them. And that is my point. There is an actual ideology here shared by Mosher. It is smug and self-satisfied as simple-minded ideologies tend to be. And dangerous and destructive as well.

The fact that the US government is reacting in a heavy-handed way and IPCC and CRU are not is no surprise to me. But that doesn't mean that well intentioned people in the state department weren't wronged.

And those who perceive IPCC as part of the power structure rather than in opposition to it won't even see the distinction as meaningful.

Whistle-blowing is not commendable except when there's something substantial to blow a whistle on. Being tempted to punch Pat Michaels in the face doesn't qualify. But Assange thinks it does. So Assange is a problem.

That doesn't justify medieval torture applied to Private
Manning (any more than any prisoner in any civilized state), but the kid doesn't get a medal either. If he did the deed, let him do his time, and as far as I'm concerned, a fair stretch of it.

Michael Tobis said...

Frank, apparently Blogger's spam traps don't like you. I am guessing some other Blogger site has marked you as spam a few times.

Anyone who is not an actual spammer, please let me know if your comments don't go through.

Michael Tobis said...

Oh, and the extra link at the end looks kind of spammy to a spam filter, too. Maybe you want to stop doing that.

ijish said...

MT, I don't get why you're so obsessed with your 'Mosher is just like Assange' meme that you're willing to twist yourself into knots to justify it.

How about this. Let's ask Steven Mosher, and Tom Fuller, whether they support PFC Manning's act of leaking the Iraq war logs, the "collateral damage" video, and the diplomatic cables to Wikileaks. Ask them whether they'd support a massive leak from within the Bank of America to the outside world via Wikileaks (which, it seems, is quite overdue).

That'll be a good way to confirm their actual 'ethics', no?

-- frank

Michael Tobis said...

Hey, I'm not obsessed with it. I think the connection is clear enough. You keep picking at it. I'm just trying to explain it.

I'm pretty confident that if Mosher actually finds the nerve to show up he will express at least qualified support for Assange. If he doesn't then that likely weakens the idea that I have that he is acting from a simplistic but real ethic.

And to be honest, if it weren't for Mosher and company and the CRU fiasco, I'd probably have ended up with much more sympathy for Assange myself, which is an interesting reflection on my own thought processes.

cagw_skeptic99 said...

Mosher is actually wrong on one major point: "We've got the science on our side, there is no need for us to compromise our dedication to transparency or our dedication to the highest quality science."

The science isn't on your side or his side and that is why you have to compromise yourselves to continue promoting your religious belief that reducing CO2 emissions is necessary to save the world.

The world doesn't need saving from anything except the deniers and scam artists living on the CAGW gravy train. And that train is about to lose its US taxpayer gravy injection thanks to the last election. And the gravy that the scammers and true believers manage to preserve for now will be completely lost in '12.

Some of you stand a good chance of being asked to testify under oath about these matters, and I plan to take the day off to watch if any of you actually say anything other than 'I take my 5th amendment rights'

Michael Tobis said...

Thanks for your confidence, cagw.

Meanwhile, gee, if this is gravy I'd hate to see broth.

cagw_skeptic99 said...

MT, You are clearly not getting your share if all you have now is 'broth'.

The federal budget for 2011 proposes $2.6 billion for the Global Change Research Program, a 21 percent boost over 2010. It will bring funding to a level higher than under any administration dating back to 1989 -- when global warming first attracted federal budget funds.

In fact, critics note, overall climate funding is approximately as large as the entire federal government's budget was in 1932 -- $3.994 billion. (Additional money for climate science is apportioned to a number of federal agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.)

Steve Bloom said...

Let me express my appreciation to Fuller for neatly falsifying Micahel's assessment of him. It's a lesson that Michael seems quite determined to not learn, or at least not to apply with any consistency.

sharper00 said...

It's always fun to read unattributed direct copy-pastes from Liveleak

I wonder who the critics in "critics note" are

"'Spending more money on research does not necessarily lead to concrete results,' Norm Rogers, a senior policy adviser at the Chicago think-tank The Heartland Institute, told FoxNews.com. "

"Another expert, Professor Don Easterbrook at Western Washington University's department of geology, said the federal money 'ought to be spent carrying out real research on the climate.' "

Ahhh

Paul Daniel Ash said...

Let's assume Mosher is sincere in his stated motivation, and give the same benefit of the doubt to Assange. Now make the same assumption about Daniel Ellsberg, notably a supporter of Assange.

What's the substantive difference between the three, when you abstract out your judgment about the actors themselves, and likewise the outcome of their actions?

It's a real question, not a gotcha. Because I don't know the answer myself.

Michael Tobis said...

It's a matter of public record. I work half time at an annual rate of about $63,000 full time equivalent. My wife makes the money, and I get the health insurance and time to read and blog. My monthly check is about $1800. I sure ain't gettin much gravy, and I'm not sure how much longer my wife will or really should let me get away with it. But the university still offers benefits for half time employees, so here I am.

The roughly 2 billion for USGCRP is holding steady since Clinton glommed a bunch of stuff into that line item. About a tenth of that is actual climate science in the sense of IPCC WG I stuff; about half is satellite obs; the rest is a grab bag of various earth and biological sciences. Yes, it tends to go up in Democrat administrations and down in Republican administrations, which is a really very stupid way to run things. So we are talking about $200 million, about the budget for a single big budget Hollywood movie. Less than a quarter of that ends up in scientist salaries.

A few faculty at major institutions take home
six figures annually; the rest of of us are emphatically middle class or lower middle class.

The whole idea that climate science is a major item on the budget is as much a fantasy as the one about NPR.

Of course, NASA's direct earth observation is another story. That is expensive, order a billion or so a year, and woefully underfunded at present. (Compare Kennedy's 1961 speech.) Satellite capabilities are in decline Again, very little of those funds go to scientist salaries. Aerospace contractors get most of it, and should.

People who want to stop observing the earth in the hopes that global environmental change will go away if nobody is watching deserve a special corner in whatever hell there is for willful stupidity.

dhogaza said...

"Sorry Dehog, but I'm on the record from my first appearance on the web..."

They just can't stop cherry-picking, can they? It's in the genes ...

Penguindreams said...

Billions for instruments, millions for data centers, thousands for science.

Perhaps someone's tongue was slightly in cheek when the original was stated. But not as much as a scientist might prefer.

Adam said...

The whole idea that climate science is a major item on the budget is as much a fantasy as the one about NPR.

But that fantasy is but one point of light in the deniers' constellation of delusions. Compared to the supernova lunacy that the NAS is suborning a massive climate hoax, it is but a mere twinkle.

We are dealing with people--Fuller, Mosher and nattering trolls like "cagw_skeptic99"--who are disconnected from reason. We should, as much as possible, disconnect from them.

ijish said...

MT, I can semi-understand if you're trying to reach out to actual climate inactivists, but now I don't understand why you're trying to reach out to nylon socks like "cagw_skeptic99" a.k.a. "Francoise". Because doing so is very literally a complete waste of time.

-- frank

ijish said...

Paul Daniel Ash:

Well, for one, Assange leaks anything and everything, while at the moment Mosher's only interested in attacking climate science. That's why I proposed asking Mosher about his stance on Cablegate and the supposedly upcoming BoA leak.

Meanwhile, Lucia goes tone trolling. But I'm sure MT will find something nice to say about her, even if he has to bend a few truths in the process.

This exercise of 'reaching out to socks and trolls' exercise is starting to look like a weird sort of Stockholm Syndrome.

-- frank

Michael Tobis said...

Look of course cagw_skeptic is a clueless sock puppet. There's a point to answering outright lies, for the benefit of the casual reader who might be inclined to believe there is osomething to them. It's definitely not to answer the sock puppet, who most likely isn't even reading.

As for Lucia, I am plumb out of nice things to say about Lucia, but I'm open to suggestions.

NewYork said...

Mosher's very fundamentally a Concern Troll feeding his ego, and this post makes him full. The cursing just adds to his narrative.

Mosher's after attention. His niche is not so much to attack the science. There's plenty in his team who do that, and in doing so he doesn't really stand out, nor does he hope to gain clout among science-minded individuals. His deal is instead to focus on alleged behavior, practices, and style. He feigns concern over these things, but the concern is based on harmed reputations of scientists from bogus character assassination he's fully engaged in and promoting. McIntyre is somewhat of a mentor of his in that sense.

Michael Tobis said...

NY, mayhap. But he has been uncharacteristically silent. Perhaps he is observing a holiday.

I reserve judgment on his motivations until I see a reply. Not that I'm not pissed off (duh!), but I remain unsure of his actual motivations.

Richard Tol said...

"disrespect for authority"

see our earlier discussions

QED

Michael Tobis said...

Richard, scientific authority is not the sort of authority that real authoritarians are concerned with.

You are playing word games and using them to pretend to come to serious allegations. Words have meaning in context.

Nothing is better than a wealthy early retirement, but a grilled cheese sandwich is better than nothing. The syllogism that can be extracted from those statements is probably not going to convince a lot of people to take the sandwich.

You are devaluing the serious concept of "authoritarian" by applying it to me, just because I used the word "authority" in a completely different way.

Marion Delgado said...

Since you are from Montreal, I assume you know the phrase "soi-disant?"

I am a die-hard Mosher honesty and integrity minimalist.

Also, I want to see that record.

Dan Olner said...

I'm reminded of BBC reporter John Sweeney 'exploding' at some scientology bods. In the follow-up programme, where he talked to a defector - one of the very men who'd been winding him up - we learn they consciously worked on pushing his buttons. Sweeney apologised and took full responsibility, but it's hard not to feel sympathy for him losing the plot. Note also a scientology re-mix of the panorama ad: using Sweeney's rage to paint him the way they want - Sweeney harrassing poor scientologists! - among their own followers. Check out the evil brainwashing eye-beams of hate.

I'm not sure if I'm making a direct scientology/denialosphere comparison here... But I can't see any of us not losing our rag for 100% of the time, faced with the kind of stuff we're talking about and the people involved. Reading all the recent nonsense about 'climate refugees' nearly did it for me: we're talking about environmental refugees, of which there are millions and have been for a number of decades: the most destitute of people. Yet some flippant, smug story purports to falsify, you know, the whole of the UN or something, based on census data from four small island states. But then, of course, anyone reposting this story and then not declaring "my bad!" when the obvious stupidity of the meme is pointed out - should you really carry on a conversation with them? I don't know.

Interesting language footnote: it seems only libertarians and certain others use the term "fucktard". It's like with the British press: you can sort the left and right of centre papers based on whether they use "Taliban" or "Taleban". Language is a funny thing.

Richard Tol said...

MT
If I read your post correctly, you disagree with Mosher because he wants to keep an open mind until he has been able to inspect all the evidence, and you argue that he should rely on the authority of experts rather than make up his own mind.

Grypo Saurus said...

It is somewhat amazing that mt uses the word 'authority' and here, there, and everywhere, it gets turned into mt saying that everyone must listen to the AGW authorities and never question it. As if the skeptic meme of 'appeal to authority' is so entrenched in their brains they don't have the ability to disambiguate any other meaning, especially when there is loads of context at which to recognize that this has nothing to do with what mt is saying.

Dan Olner said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
willard said...

I would be more than happy to revisit that "authoritarian" thread with Richard Tol.

***

From the horse's mouth:

> MT appears to be arguing that I am the straw that may break the camel’s back. I really don’t see that supported by any evidence. Our book sales are tiny. Almost no one in the halls or journalism accepts my position on climategate. Skeptics, don’t agree with me. MT’s crowd does not agree with me. I’ve got a really unique and narrow view of things. My scientific interest in climate is restricted to minutia of the temperature record.

> Maybe MT got pissed off because I traced my intellectual heritage to Stewart Brand and the whole earth catalog.. information wants to be free. I have no clue what has set him off. He’s got a problem with me. That’s his bag of shit. I don’t intend to set that bag of shit on fire. Neither do I plan to accept responsibility for his bag of shit. It’s his bag. And it’s full of shit. His shit.
peace be upon him.

http://rankexploits.com/musings/2011/record-for-f-words-in-climate-blog-post/#comment-74330

Richard Tol said...

@Willard
No point in reiterating. If it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, looks like a duck, but vigorously denies that it is a duck, perhaps it is better let the duck believe that is a frog.

Dan Olner said...

I'm reminded of BBC reporter John Sweeney 'exploding' at some scientology bods. In the follow-up programme, where he talked to a defector - one of the very men who'd been winding him up - we learn they consciously worked on pushing his buttons. Sweeney apologised and took full responsibility, but it's hard not to feel sympathy for him losing the plot. Note also a scientology re-mix of the panorama ad: using Sweeney's rage to paint him the way they want - Sweeney harrassing poor scientologists! - among their own followers. Check out the evil brainwashing eye-beams of hate.

I'm not sure if I'm making a direct scientology/denialosphere comparison here... But I can't see any of us not losing our rag for 100% of the time, faced with the kind of stuff we're talking about and the people involved. Reading all the recent nonsense about 'climate refugees' nearly did it for me: we're talking about environmental refugees, of which there are millions and have been for a number of decades: the most destitute of people. Yet some flippant, smug story purports to falsify, you know, the whole of the UN or something, based on census data from four small island states. But then, of course, anyone reposting this story and then not declaring "my bad!" when the obvious stupidity of the meme is pointed out - should you really carry on a conversation with them? I don't know.

Interesting language footnote: it seems only libertarians and certain others use the term "fucktard". It's like with the British press: you can sort the left and right of centre papers based on whether they use "Taliban" or "Taleban". Language is a funny thing.

Michael Tobis said...

Thanks to Willard for the pointer to Mosher's response.

Perhaps it's a Pyrrhic victory, but Mosher does seem to acknowledge that he was never really on the same "side" of anything as myself.

It's not so much about the book, not that I approve of the exercise. There's also his behavior after the publication of the book, where Sharper00 provides us a nice example. But it's mostly the murky beginnings of the whole sordid business, wherein Mosher at least lent a hand in getting the ball rolling.

In other words, there is reason enough even at face value to suspect that the great calumny-fest of 2010 would never have happened without the participation of Mr. Mosher. There is also the fact that the story of how it started originates in large measure with Mosher's testimony. It's plausible that his version of events is self-serving in some way.

Sylvester said...

As an old codger who has minimal scientific credentials (chemical engineering, Auburn '52), it seems to me that the old code of science is being buried, here. As I understood it, a scientific theory (or test result) should be put out for examination by the scientific community, not just a limited group of experts. The limited review stage comes at peer review before publication.

The concept of privacy or personal commitments of secrecy seems to me to be antithetical to real science.

How can a proposal be "falsifiable" if the data and code are not put out for review?

Jim Brock

Michael Tobis said...

Richard, I have no known disagreements with Mosher on the science at all.

My disagreement with him is specifically about his behavior toward the scientific community, which constitutes an attack and one quite outside the normal channels of discourse.

Mosher has said many things on sites I find it difficult to read, so for perhaps he does have some expressed substantive disagreements with me on the scientific content. Perhaps some of them do reach the extreme levels where they are impossible, as one sees so often among the deniers, but I don't know of any. And indeed that was his point.

The reason for my extreme outburst is that I don't want it suspected for a minute that this agreement on substance constitutes an alliance.

Therefore your "If I read your post correctly, you disagree with Mosher because he wants to keep an open mind until he has been able to inspect all the evidence, and you argue that he should rely on the authority of experts rather than make up his own mind." is moot. You did not read correctly at all.

Michael Tobis said...

Kim Brock, I agree with Mosher that all the scientific evidence should in principle be public. I do not think that principle is so dominant as to outweigh any other ethical or rational principle, and I discussed that earlier this week.

I don't think that such openness extends to email conversations.

Much of the business of science involves evaluating individuals capacity to do tasks, and often enough to matter involves examining publications and drafts for provenance and for quality. And then there's just the matter of letting off some steam, which is mostly what the CRU scandal is about.

Nobody wants to live their entire life on stage. Mosher's implicit claim is that when one becomes a scientist, all claim to privacy is forfeit, and that one is expected to be barraged by innuendo and frankly ignorant criticism forever.

This is not acceptable. If you want any more science done, it might be a good idea to keep the job description reasonably attractive.

Adam said...

How can a proposal be "falsifiable" if the data and code are not put out for review?

Who says they aren't, Jim?

If you are referring to the important research conclusions of climate scientists in recent decades, I suspect you have absorbed some of the memes put about by those with ideological motives for discrediting that work. I suggest you broaden your sources. Here, for example:
http://tinyurl.com/3em7hwb

Sylvester said...

MT: Well, I never said all emails should be made public; there is or should be some rights of privacy. But you will recall that a good bit of the CRU email flap revolved around the desire to hide the data from those who might be critical. I consider that to be unscientific: Put the data out and let it live or die on its accuracy.

And don't forget that the government is paying for all this work. At least some privacy rights are forfeit...perhaps to the extent of giving government representatives the full monty for review. Or even other scientists, upon request. Otherwise we run into an inbred science, unfalsifiable, being supported by public funds. BTW, the IPCC reports have been rife with errors not corrected by those most closely connected with the science and who should have known better.

I know this sounds like a brief for the AG of Virginia, but he is not the level of government I was referring to. And a lot of the pain could have been avoided by more openness at the source.

Jim Brock

PS: I didn't mention Texas summers!

Sylvester said...

Adam: Maybe YOU should broaden your sources of information. If you are not familiar with McIntyre's problems with his attempts to examine Briffa's data then you don't know the genesis of all this sturm und drang.

You might visit WUWT for another view, or Climate Audit for stories that will curl your hair. (Not mine, I have very little left).

The reviews of the various commissions wrt the CRU efforts are instructive to those with an open mind.

And I am familiar enough with curve fitting to know that it is subject to a lot of interpretation. That is what the computer coders are doing, in essence.

Jim Brock

steven said...

MT,

There are two theories of mosher.

Theory #1.
He is a troll who for over 4 years has been pretending to accept the science. Wasting large swaths of time arguing with skeptics about C02 with no clear motive.

Theory 2.
He believes in the science and also values openness and transparency.

There is a phrase Tom and I used to describe the behavior we saw. 'Noble cause corruption'

More later, As always, per your house rules, I will not discuss particular mails.

A note to bluegrue: If you read what I wrote in our book and on many pages you'd see that I said that the mails CANNOT change the science. CANNOT. We know that C02 warms the planet. emails cannot logically change that. can't. Same for the rest of the science. Emails dont change the MWP, they dont change the global temperature. Nothing in the science changes. I've been really clear about that.

More later tonight guys.

ijish said...

Steven Mosher, since you're now here, I'll just ask two questions which I'd earlier said I'd ask:

(1) Do you support PFC Manning's act of leaking the Iraq war logs, the "collateral damage" video, and the diplomatic cables to the outside world via Wikileaks?

(2) Will you support a massive leak from within the Bank of America to the outside world via Wikileaks?

-- frank

willard said...

Here was the blog post where Richard Tol tried to wiggle away with the "you're such an authoritarian!" ad hominem:

http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2010/08/and-in-end_01.html

***

If it wiggles like an honest broker and quacks like an honest broker, chances are that it will ask if you read its book.

Someone should write a book called **Open the debate**, just for the fun of saying

- Buy my book **Open the Debate**.

dhogaza said...

"But you will recall that a good bit of the CRU email flap revolved around the desire to hide the data from those who might be critical."

The data wasn't hidden, CRU wasn't putting it out on a silver platter for them, but regarding the HadCRUT temperature reconstruction, others could replicate their work by 1) getting the publicly available data from GHCN (on the order of 95% of the data in question) 2) figure out which national government authorities held that other 5% or so 3) asked those government authorities for a waiver of payment or simply paid what they charge.

There you go.

Or they could do what NASA GISS does, and just use the 95% or so that's publicly available.

"I consider that to be unscientific"

And here I thought that scientist challenging the results of other scientists were expected to do their own work ...

"Put the data out and let it live or die on its accuracy."

GHCN will even let you buy DVDs of scans of the original paper records which have been digitized for easier consumption.

What data was CRU "hiding" again? Oh, yeah, that data that they had no right to release.

You're missing a big part of the argument here, McI and the like have insisted that CRU should've violated contractual obligations with other national meteorological authorities due to FOI requests.

Tch tch. Did you know this? If not, why not? If so, why do you think CRU can blithely violate contracts just because someone like McI insists they do, and why do you buy into Mosher et al's claims that CRU was being nefarious?

Yeah, data wants to be free, but contracts are enforceable by law ...


"And don't forget that the government is paying for all this work. At least some privacy rights are forfeit..."

Not always ... again, it appears that your knowledge is coming from one small set of people who aren't known for being truthful.

"BTW, the IPCC reports have been rife with errors not corrected by those most closely connected with the science and who should have known better."

Quantify "rife" please ...

Michael Tobis said...

Frank, I'd be interested to know Mosher's answer to your questions.

Speaking for myself, I think the collateral damage video release was genuine and commendable whistleblowing.

As I understand it no crime was revealed by Manning's document dump.

I think the ethical rule is simple; the crime revealed must be substantially and unambiguously worse than the crime committed in the violation of privacy. In such cases the courts should be extremely lenient and/or pardons should be issued, but the whistleblower should be prepared to take the full force of the legal penalties if it comes to that.

I think this ought to be obvious, but I guess not much is obvious these days.

Michael Tobis said...

In regard to "rife":

Beware of conflating IPCC and climate science. Only WG I represents climate science. I don't see people making this distinction very much.

WG II was rife with at least one error.

Anna Haynes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anna Haynes said...

For the record, here's the text of the "offending piece" (SourceWatch page) - which I took down again the day after I'd created it because upon rethink, I decided Kloor didn't have a high enough profile to warrant it.
(Should he start giving Congressional testimony, join an inactivist PR shop/think tank, or get quoted giving misleading climate science info in the mainstream media, that may change.)
-------------
"Keith Kloor is a freelance journalist who blogs about climate change personalities and controversies, in a manner that fosters inactivism. He teaches at New York University, and had a one-year journalism fellowship in the University of Colorado's Center for Environmental Journalism in 2008/2009.

His work has been criticized[1] for a pattern of selectively quoting climate bloggers and scientists in a way that misrepresents their views. Examples have been provided[2],[3], to which Kloor has responded.[4], [5]"
-------------
For the substantive criticisms & KK's responses, see Arthur Smith's post.

Delhat said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
cagw_skeptic99 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michael Tobis said...

How many other names have you got, cagw?

Steve Bloom said...

"no known disagreements with Mosher on the science at all."

Really, Michael? You think we need to validate model projections via a sensitivity analysis based on BEST's version of the SAT? News to me.

Michael Tobis said...

I said I don't know everything he's said. That wasn't intended as a vouch.

I don't know that he said exactly what you said he said; you ought to provide a URL if you want to discuss it.

Regardless, I'll say this much.

BEST itself is a weird phenomenon but I don't think disagreeing about BEST amounts to a disagreement about science in any fundamental sense. That's just a disagreement about scientific tactics and resources.

cagw_skeptic99 said...

MT: I post under only one name, but another person was using the computer and I failed to notice that the login wasn't mine. How many names do you post under? It would be nice if you could change the name or delete the post, as the use of the other name was an artifact of using a shared workstation and the other person had nothing to do with the post.

Lazar said...

Is the argument thus far something like this?...

Mosher: increased transparency is good and limiting GHG emissions is good (and possibly the former will help policy for the latter).

Michael: The former hinders the latter by giving the delayers PR material with which to distract and confuse the public, so you can't be on both sides.

With the following issues being raised:

Mosher's expressed beliefs as to which side(s) he is on.
The trustworthiness of those words... does Mosher really believe he is on both sides?
Actual and potential empirical results of Mosher's actions and advocated actions.

Lazar said...

Michael, if I may...

As a *rough* analogy to Mosher's support for open science...

Suppose there is a genuine scientific question which has no potential for helping the case for action, but whose results *may* be spun into something which they're not and as above contribute to distraction and confusion. Something like nitrogen fertilization of trees and impacts on radial growth; answering this wouldn't bolster the case for action even if no effects were to be found, but if effects were found, even though they would be irrelevent to the scientific case for action, they could nevertheless be effectively spun into 'not the hockeystick' therefore 'not the IPCC' therefore no action.

When the planet is at stake... would it be irresponsible to investigate this type of question?

I don't know if it's a fair question. If not, forgive me...

Michael Tobis said...

Lazar, to your first part, others might agree with your summary but I very much do not.

Science is constrained in very much the way the contrarians say it is.

We have to provide the best possible information in the most value neutral possible way.

If someone wants the science in play they have to play by the same rules.

That emphatically does not include stolen emails. Anyone who says that no information in the emails changes the balance of evidence should have had any part in releasing the emails. It is the persecution of individuals using extrascientific weapons that is at issue here.

It is not a disagreement about publication policy that makes me angry enough to use the f word a dozen or so times.

It is the pretense that this persecution is about open science and not about a systematic effort to support vicious cruel and malign personal attacks at least verging on slander.

I am willing to listen to what someone like Mosher has to say. But I am not willing to allow him to cozy up to me and call himself an ally.

Michael Tobis said...

Science is ideally based on eliminating bias, not on institutionalizing it. Scientific practice often falls short of the ideal, but each individual practitioner should do whatever possible to bridge the gap and get as close to the ideal as possible.

The same is true of journalism. And it is the latter which has failed, giving cover for a completely unfounded muddle of ideas about how the climate system works and what can and can't be known about it.

"Suppose there is a genuine scientific question which has no potential for helping the case for action, but whose results *may* be spun into something which they're not and as above contribute to distraction and confusion."

Well, I noted a study like that just last week. If I were in the deniers' pockets, I know just how to spin it into a very convenient pile of bullshit for them. I'm sure the authors saw this possibility, but they published anyway. And the editors and reviewers went with it. So not only shouldn't something like this be squelched, generally it isn't.

On the other hand, I'm not going to volunteer to Morano how he should spin this study. I'm not even going to say which study it was in this context. Blogs are not scientific discourse, and so telling the truth here doesn't require saying "You guys sure could spin the heck out of Dawes, Tomes, Mousely and Grubbs '11" to people of malign intent.

Lazar said...

Michael, thanks, interesting responses, and agreed that the dissemination of the emails was icky... given public interest issues pro- vs con- vs the interests of the victims of the hack... it's not something I would do... even being unhappy with some (few) of the practises revealed... still... no...

steven said...

"How about this. Let's ask Steven Mosher, and Tom Fuller, whether they support PFC Manning's act of leaking the Iraq war logs, "


Manning, I assume, signed a document that gave him access to C/S/TS/SAR information. If they were anything like the documents I once signed, they make it clear that mishandling classified data is a crime. So, it would appear that Manning committed a crime.

The link to the documents of climategate was placed by somebody in several locations. I don't know if that person had legal access to the files or not. I don't even know the status of those files. Are they private documents, official documents. They are not classified. In my entire search of CRU guidelines I found no rules about protecting such documents. I don't know whether the files were hacked or whether this was a whistleblower.
So that is the first difference between the cases. I dont know the act of getting them was illegal. I checked UK whistleblower law and it wasnt that clear to me that getting the documents was illegal.

the second difference between the cases is the actual markings of the documents. A classified document is marked with a classification. That classification governs the behavior of those who have signed away their rights. In order to get access to classified documents we sign away our rights to talk about them.

Another difference is the actual publication of the documents. Wikileaks, I suppose, runs its own site. In climategate the files were posted to anonymous server. What did I do? I posted a comment that pointed at another comment that pointed at the files. So, if you think they were stolen, I pointed at the stolen goods. If you think they were leaked, I pointed at the leaked documents.

Now the ethics. Was it morally right for manning to break the law? Well the obvious answer would be no. However, we might argue that Manning was engaging in some sort of civil disobedience. So, if he ran across a secret document that detailed assassinations by the US he might feel morally compelled to break the law. That would be a tough case. Particulars would be important.

In climategate the ethical question might be was I ethically obligated to keep these mails secret? Well keeping them secret was impossible. They were already out in the open. I had no controll over what Anthony would do with them. All I could do is point people to the link on jeffids site. Bottomline, Those files were coming out. I could not stop it, even if I thought I should. usually we do not say that people should do something that is physically impossible. You should leviatate yourself!

The biggest concern was the actual release of private information. The climate scientists had exchanged One individuals private information. making the mails public would make that information public. But if these guys thought that passing that information around wasnt a problem, who was I to disagree. Simply, I saw some climate scientists exchanging the private information of an enemy of theirs. Seemed to me, that was a pretty clear indication that they should not care about emails written in their official capacity. After all, the emails showed nothing damaging to the science we know.

Then there was my personal involvment as person who had had CRU deny my FOIA. Clearly, internal documents about how they handled cases was of interest to me. They had denied at least of one my requests. What was their process like?

Cont..

steven said...

And what of the damage to climate science and our noble cause of saving the earth? Well, one way to mitigate the damage to the science was to argue that the mails didnt change the science. Did that in our book. How about preventing future damage? Well, explaining to people that CRU got themselves into trouble ( see the MUIR report) is also a good thing. we did that. We also explained that the behavior was not fraud. In short the science didnt change, some behaviors needed to be changed. In my submission to Parliament that is what I argued. CRU needed better document control. That's it.

Your guys problem is that you want to find no wrong doing. you're insistence that everything they did was best practices, causes more issues than my position: they need to do a better job. And of course the inquiries come closer to my position that to yours. My position: the science stands and the institutions need some reforms. the Inquirys agree. Your position is that the science stands and the institutions acted perfectly. You cant even state the minor things they did wrong. The biggest threat to the planet is the people who believe that hiding data is good, refusing FOIA is ok, and shoddy chartsmanship is the best we can do.

If you want to argue by analogy you first have to get cases where the important elements are the same.


manning released information which a third party had designated as dangerous to release. Its not as clear that the hacker/leaker released information that was dangerous or determined by a third party to be dangerous. As I see it the information in the mails wasnt that dangerous. The science was safe. A couple guys had done somethings that demanded attention. No big deal. What made it a big deal was how people not in the middle reacted.

ijish said...

Well, well, well. So can we now put to rest the silly idea that 'Mosher is like Assange'?

* * *

Mosher claims to value radical openness and transparency, but when pressed about Wikileaks he responds with a load of what I might call 'pseudo-legalistic claptraprese'.

Two more questions.

(3) Are you saying that your understanding of UK law is better than that of all the honchos in the Norfolk constabulary, the UK National Domestic Extremism Team, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police?

(4) On what legal basis do you claim that anyone can freely pilfer any "emails written" in an "official capacity" which are "not classified", with zero regard for any other data protection regulations? Show us chapter and verse.

-- frank

Martin Vermeer said...

> It's, um, I want a word. It's not "totalitarian"

Michael, what you're looking for is "Minority Report". The idea that everything should be public, not just code and data, but correspondence, PIn codes, passwords...

The opposite idea is that there is a legitimate private sphere, or multiple, professional spheres of confidentiality. I can very well understand folks that have a problem with the diplomatic cables leak. It's not so much the risk of putting people in danger, as compromising the diplomatic process as such. The price of not having the instrument of diplomacy can become very high.

It's no different with science really.

Another field illustrating that freedom and openness are not simple issues is free software, where I have myself been active. Free software is especially liked because of its security, which is a direct result of its code being out for inspection. Funny, that: non-secrecy helping to protect secrets -- legitimate such :-)

I was really pissed off by the libertarian infestation there... it appears to me some libertarians like freedom in about the same way pedophiles like children...

ijish said...

Martin Vermeer, interesting analysis, but surely you're analysing something that's different from the actual ethic professed by Steven Mosher here.

-- frank

Adam said...

@Jim Brock: "You might visit WUWT for another view, or Climate Audit for stories that will curl your hair."

Didn't look at any of the links at SkepticalScience, did you?

As to WUWT and CA, I have spent considerable (wasted) time at both. McIntyre's 'stories' are largely fables, as even a little checking would reveal to you. I'll try once more to lead you to water, then I'm done:

http://deepclimate.org/tag/steve-mcintyre/

The Policy Lass said...

I find it exceptionally vertigo-inducing to read that Mosher is and always has been an AGW supporter. Seriously. It's like if McIntyre was to come out and say that if he were a policy maker, he'd argue for action on global warming. LOL on that!

Oh yeah... He did say that, didn't he?

The only analogy I can think of is Torquemada claiming to support freedom of religion or really being a Jew or Muslim...

/sarc

In the future, when the more negative effects of global warming are having effect and folks look back on the climate wars, who do you think will be the champions they pick as those who fought for recognition of AGW's reality and who argued for action to mitigate?

Mosher /McIntyre / Watts or Hansen / Gore?

What documents will they hold up as the crowning moments in climate science history?

MM08/Wegman and the deconstruction of the hockey stick or the IPCC reports?

bluegrue said...

Mosher, the problem I have with you is the quotemining and distortion that you put on the CRU e-mails, amongst others in your book. Some examples.

1. What "climate data" was actually deleted by the “Team”, as claimed on the book’s back?

2. In your opinion, what is the proper way to deal with broken peer review as seen in CR in the case of the 2003 Soon and Baliunas paper? I ask, because you claim the "Team" was responsible for the corruption, not de Freitas.

3. You quote Ed Cook on your page 9 as "I have growing doubts about the validity and use of error estimates that are being applied to reconstructions." Never mind that the final fullstop needs to be an ellipsis, as the sentence goes on. More importantly, Cook lays out his reasoning in the following long paragraph and concludes "I am probably not explaining myself well here and undoubtedly need to think more about it. But I really think that error bars, as often presented, may potentially distort and unfairly degrade the interpreted quality of reconstructions. " (Emphasis added) Question: Why do you quotemine someone who thinks that the errorbars are overestimated in a context where the casual reader will think the quote to mean that the errors are underestimated?

These are the distortions you trumpet out in public, while whispering "it does not change the science".

If your moral compasss is only "I can interpret the law as not expressly forbidding what I am doing" you should consider asking for a refund.

Grypo Saurus said...

I agree with Bluegrue. There is something way off about the way these events of Climate gate are being discussed here as opposed to how Steven describes them elsewhere. There is a discrepancy that needs to be addressed between:

"We also explained that the behavior was not fraud. In short the science didnt change, some behaviors needed to be changed. In my submission to Parliament that is what I argued. CRU needed better document control. That's it."

and

"No one who can put two brain cells together can argue that these processes and the people who abused them are untainted. Instead, they will argue that nothing changes in the science. But without a trusted process there is no science. Surely, the specter of global warming does not earn a last place in the concerns of Americans. But it’s been driven there by the public’s lack of trust in the process. In their rush to judgment, the climate scientists, convinced of the nobility of their cause, have engaged noble cause corruption. Lucky for them a loophole in the law may save them from prosecution, but should not save them from disbarment.
The case is clear. In an effort to shoe horn a paper into the IPCC report, the scientists working together with Stephen Schneider of Climate Change journal, destroyed the credibility of chapter 6 of the 4th Assessment of the IPCC. And they knew as they hijacked the process that Stephen McIntyre was watching. Yet they persisted and were caught. One scientist, Phil Jones, even suggested changing the dates on papers to hide the misdeed. But there was no hiding of the misdeed as they left a paper trail of violations."

or

"I think one of the big, missing stories here is how the scientific publishing mechanism is corrupted. I mean, I think of “Global Warming” as kind of a religion, and what you see in the mails is how they construct the canon, of how they corrupt the journal publishing, to get the papers published what they WANT published, with the reviewers that they want reviewing it and the papers they don’t want published, they keep out."

That's just one example. Also, statements like:

"Your guys problem is that you want to find no wrong doing. you're insistence that everything they did was best practices, causes more issues than my position: they need to do a better job. And of course the inquiries come closer to my position that to yours."

This is just vast overreach and over-generalization, and it looks to be trying really hard to become another meme. No one I know has a problem discussing the Muir Report and agreeing with it's conclusions. The only ones continuously yelping about it is the group at CA. Because it's just not good enough. But reading what is written above, how does one party proceed to have a conversation if violations of "best practices" as found by Muir carry with it harassment, arrests, "disbarment", jail, etc? Especially if the people calling for the "investigations/harassment/etc" are same people involved in the initial disagreements and same people who packaged the emails for the media and the same people ginning up phony controversies whenever possible.

I'm not sure how you expect anyone to buy this.

Steve Bloom said...

Unfortunately we get MT not buying but window-shopping, seemingly endlessly.

Michael Tobis said...

Steve, I'm not buying at all.

The question is what do do about all the innocent folks in the sales funnel.

You can't just waltz into the Apple store and start screeching at the customers about Android. The people in the Apple store are already favorably inclined. (Note: I run a 100% Apple household, work life and cell phone existence. It's just an example.) They will think you are insane. Witness some responses elsewhere to my rant.

I think this is what Willard is saying. There are people we want to reach, like Muller, who have bought into Mosher et al's narrative. Even the press, to some extent, has.

It is almost unbelievable but there it is. Why the press doesn't break the story open escapes me. It's a story that still needs telling.

Meanwhile, though, we have to occupy the same planet as these people. It's not a matter of buttering up Mosher, but it is a important to appear fair-minded to the person who just walked in the door.

ijish said...

MT:

What a load of evidence-free nonsense. Can you even find any important issue in the world which was resolved by a fair-minded, suitably even-handed discussion of the facts?

Just think. The germ theory of disease wasn't propagated by people who praised its opponents to the high skies. Heliocentrism wasn't spread by Galileo being better at pleasing people. Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was incredibly biased to the point of being shrill.

So why do you think that your 'ideas' about communication should even have a snail's chance of working except in some abstract mathematical universe in your own mind?

-- frank

Michael Tobis said...

Frank, my head is spinning. You are claiming that there is no evidence that anybody was ever convinced of anything by evidence? And then you demand evidence?

Why should I bother to make my case to you? Presumably when you say evidence does not work to convince people, that includes yourself.

OK. Too easy and not exactly on point, but I couldn't resist.

My reply is already too long for a comment and needs some editing. I will reply in a posting soon.

ijish said...

MT:

No, MT, I'm saying that there hasn't been a single case where a major national or worldwide issue was resolved -- at a large scale -- by a dispassionate discussion of the facts, and a sweet-talking tactic. The examples I gave should already have made that clear.

I especially emphasize the "large scale" part. You need, you want, a strategy that works not only for one person or two persons, you want a strategy that can work with huge groups of people.

And sweet-talking isn't a risk-free strategy, even if you think it is. You need to weigh the number of people who will be persuaded by 'charitable rhetoric' against the number of people who are going to be further confused and who are going to think that (e.g.) Tom Fuller is a credible guy merely because you hold deep-sounding discussions with him.

All this is why, ultimately, you need an evidence-based communications strategy, one based on actual empirical studies. You can't decide on a strategy simply by cogitating over abstract arguments.

-- frank

Michael Tobis said...

I am having a moment of clarity about these issues that I hope will persist until after I get home from my day job. In short, there really are at least three separate objectives that we real-realists must achieve; conflating them is part of the objective of the opposition.

The first is to win the political battles of the moment. The second is to create a long-term political consensus. The third is to create mental models of reasonable fidelity in the public, so as to support the emergence of the momentary victories but more importantly of the long-term consensus.

To date, "climategate" has been a disaster on all three fronts. A press that can barely be motivated to fight the Obama birth certificate nonsense can hardly be expected to tell the real story.

But the strategies to achieve the various objectives are not always the same. Many people completely ignore the third objective, partly despite the fact, partly due to the fact, that it is much stressed by the core denialist crowd.

My interest is and has always been the third objective. What I do may appear inconsistent with regard to the first and second objective, but those are not my objectives. I believe that a failure to achieve adequate understanding will not permit the emergence of a workable policy.

It has been some time since I made efforts toward the third objective. This blog has mostly been about reflections on our failure, toward gearing up to try again in a more strategically sound way.

Terry Koch said...

Can you NOT see how none of these three objectives have anything whatsoever to do with the advancement of understanding, and the search for more information, knowledge, and wisdom (i.e. have NOTHING to do with science)?

Michael, given what I know about you and your desires to "save the planet" you are truly your own worst enemy.

Michael Tobis said...

T. Koch, they are not science in the sense of research, but the one which interests me is certainly related to science. It is also absolutely necessary so that the other two, which are not going away, don't go dramatically awry.

I don't understand the point you are making at all. Are you suggesting that policy should never take science into account?

Terry Koch said...

I don't think we have a clear enough understanding such that we should declare "Case Closed" and move on to convincing the masses that we've completed a root cause analysis, and the prescription is [A, then B, then C]

In short, I think you (not just you, a lot of people) are putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

As an example, I don't think that statements like "we need to move our carbon emissions to approximately zero" (my paraphrase of something I'm pretty sure you posted at KK's, or maybe it was the blackboard) are helpful.

Hope that helps,
Terry

Michael Tobis said...

I think the goal of near-zero net emissions as soon as is feasible is diagnostic of whether you know anything about the underlying science.

Not that holding the goal proves you know anything about the state of the science. But failing to hold the goal almost clinches that you don't.

"It’s wrong to mug little old ladies, and it’s wrong to emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere," says climate scientist Ken Caldeira in Jeff Goodell’s book How to Cool the Planet. "The right target for mugging little old ladies and for carbon dioxide emissions is zero."

Steve Bloom said...

Here ya go, Terry. Hope it helps. (And it's not the only one such, BTW.)

Terry Koch said...

"It’s wrong to mug little old ladies, and it’s wrong to emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere," says climate scientist Ken Caldeira in Jeff Goodell’s book How to Cool the Planet. "The right target for mugging little old ladies and for carbon dioxide emissions is zero."

I find it a bit disturbing that you and/or Ken C can equate (his?my?) exhaling, home heating, or powering of our computers - with mugging little old ladies. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we're not able to have a sane debate on the issue"?

Is it ok when you do it but not me? Are we all doing the equivalent of mugging little old ladies every time we blog/cook/read?

Michael Tobis said...

Breathing doesn't count. Food is a biofuel. I had a feeling that would come up.

And no, if I didn't blog, if I didn't go to lectures, if I didn't read books, if I didn't eat, I couldn't do much good convincing everybody of the need for change. Systematically putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage is no way to win a debate.

No, I need to convince you, or at least people like you, that we all have to do this together. I realize it's a tall order, but I see no alternative but to try.

Terry Koch said...

Michael, I'm glad we can agree on that.

My (perhaps useless) opinion is that we go back to the data and the methods and see - with as open a mind as we can muster - where they lead us.

This is strictly my opinion, but it's mine.... While we've achieved much, we know little. With a lot of effort and hard work, we might learn more.

Cheers,
Terry

Paul Daniel Ash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Daniel Ash said...

Tim Lambert said...

Mosher is a troll. A post like yours is his goal.


QED.

Steve Bloom said...

Ah, yes, let's dump all of the scientific conclusions we've come to so far and begin afresh.

Avoiding that link much, Terry? I've got more when you're done with it.

King of the Road said...

Steve, I don't know Terry but I do know that smart, reasonably well read people can find lots of presentations, charts, slides, etc. that, with no specialist knowledge, are as convincing as the link you posted (which I did go through slide by slide).

That's how I wound up here a couple of years ago (or something like that). I asked Michael (whom I'd known in college) to explain what was wrong with just such a presentation on the "other" side. I think it was from the "Junk Science" site and was entitled "What Watt is What" or at least was linked from a post with that title.

A snarky reply is not constructive here. Yes, he may (or may not - I wasn't) be a concern troll, but other lurkers are not. Those who nod vigorously at the snark don't need to be convinced in any case.

Michael Tobis said...

KOTR, Steve, you have stumbled on a key to the problem as you are both right.

Everyone legitimately wants you to start at the very beginning. On every thread at Curry's you'll see people earnestly pleading for a research program to determine once and for all whether there is a greenhouse effect. Some of them are completely sincere.

I would like to propose a new internet acronym, GDYFH. "Go do your f'in' homework." These questions have been answered thousands of times. It should not be beyond the capacities of an intelligent person to find an explanation at a level that is suitable for their level of sophistication.

Whether they actually believe it is another matter. (In fact I am not sure that the Russian methane clathrate lady is entirely taken seriously and my response is "hmm, maybe". It's alarming that I've only heard of her through the press and the blogs, but on the other hand, I've been in a sort of climate Siberia for four years now myself.)

Being on guard against Mosher is one thing. But I don't know whether Terry is a troll or not. What's more, the reader doesn't either.

With Mosher, we can tell the reader, watch out for this guy, the way he represents himself isn't the whole story. With someone we can;t identify, we have to be as polite as we can stand, even if we have heard and answered the question fifty times. The correspondent may not have, and the casual reader may not have.

And Steve, your piece did not really address the question of the stick/flow confusion that is really at the root of people's misunderstanding of how severe the problem really is. Yeah, the clathrates are scary, but that wasn't the question. The question wasn't "is it scary" it was "why zero?"

I wish I could point to a clear explanation of it. Any takers?

King of the Road said...

Hmm... GDYFH. Maybe so, but many people work, say, 80 hours/week and have a family. Are you really going to say "the answer is out there, if you DYFH you will ultimately be able to separate the wheat from the chaff?" His or her answer may be "I don't have time for that" or even simply "I don't want to do that."

It's fine if any blogger says "ok, but I'm not going to educate you" but there's more of "them" than there are of "you."

I am willing to learn enough to decide upon whom I can rely. But I suspect I have a better background and more interest than average and I don't have the time to, say, provide myself with a thorough education even to the level of Science of Doom (a site I hugely respect, by the way).

It's easy to confuse the issue, look at C3, WUWT, Morano's site, etc. The people who have not taken on climate change as "their issue" are key. If you don't have a simple, convincing message that you're willing to present over and over and.... then you are not communicating with those people. The others above will do so, look at Morano - he never stops.

Sorry, it's no fun to say, over and over, "Motl is very smart but he's wrong because...." Lindzen, Dyson, etc. are very smart but they're wrong because..." Even Mosher and Fuller are smart but they're wrong because..." I don't think any of those are accurately characterized as being in the pocket of the Kochs or "big oil."

Maybe you need a joint venture. SOD with "here's the science at an undergraduate level," In It with "here's the policy, political, philosophical, sociological aspects," Real Climate with "here's the latest developments" and some other site with "here it is in a nutshell."

But the millions you need to recruit are not reading In It anyway so I guess that, in a sense, all of the above is irrelevant.

bluegrue said...

For self study I tend to send people to Spencer Weart's "The Discovery of Global Warming - A History" and to Skeptical Science as a resource to compare denialist talking points to. Any better ideas?

And a short reply to Terry: A bathtub that you want to keep from overflowing is a good analogy for our CO2 issue. We have a faucet pouring lots of water into the bathtub and a drain that lets out an equal amount. This faucet/drain system represents the natural output and uptake of CO2 by the biosphere and oceans, including your breathing. Burning fossil fuels is like installing an additional small faucet without chainging the drain. We have been raising the water level in the tub by opening that small faucet and the water level is now close to the brim. We now need to decide, how much overflow into the bathroom we want to deal with. If you want to stop the overflow, you need to close the small faucet entirely, and it does not close at a moments notice. Keep in mind, we could be in for some nasty surprises like life, uninsulated wires lying on the ground.

Of course, now you have to take the word of a pseudonymous stranger that the analogy is a proper one.

Martin Vermeer said...

> something that's different

Frank, yes. It seems that Mosher hasn't yet gotten past the legal angle, which is sort-of disappointing. But he does seem to subscribe somewhat to the general freedom-is-always-good mush.

Paul Daniel Ash said...

Maybe you need a joint venture. SOD with "here's the science at an undergraduate level," In It with "here's the policy, political, philosophical, sociological aspects," Real Climate with "here's the latest developments" and some other site with "here it is in a nutshell."

I actually think this is a terrific idea. A Climate All-Stars site with a nice design and a user-friendly comments section (for all my other disagreements with her, Lucia's has a best-of-breed comments interface) might actually have some mainstream appeal.

Not that I expect it's likely to happen any time soon, but it would be nice.

word verification: weepi

ijish said...

MT:

"The first [objective] is to win the political battles of the moment. The second is to create a long-term political consensus. The third is to create mental models of reasonable fidelity in the public, so as to support the emergence of the momentary victories but more importantly of the long-term consensus."

Aha! Now we're talking! (Or at least, I hope you're thinking what I think you're thinking. That can be a problem...)

"My interest is and has always been the third objective."

Hmm. While KotR has some ideas which aren't half bad, personally I would like to go further than simply delivering pre-packaged 'science communiques' to the public.

If I want people to embrace science, what I want to do is to go the full nine yards: to imbue the public with a 'do your own homework, arrive at your own chains of arguments' ethic.

-- frank

Grypo Saurus said...

Apparently the whole thing was just another test, and doggonit...we failed!


MT is at the forefront of enforcing tribal compliance. he is very sensitive to the fact that the teams tactics against skeptics have not worked. The team is trying to figure out new tactics. the last thing they want to do is to listen to team members, like me, who have objected to failed tactics. It’s funny I suggested that Santer and Alley would be good spokespeople and the team went crazy. What is mosher doing? giving good advice or sand bagging us?
That experiment with MT went exactly as planned. And the experiment of seeing how long it would take before he went apoplectic on me worked. So, it would be fun if other people who also believe in the science, got booted off the team. You see the only way for people to get a handle on the real rules for membership is to cross a few lines and watch for explosive reactions. Willard, you would think, would have been clever enough to point this out to MT. especially since I made a big deal about agreeing to stay silent about mails or paleo. In any case, the experiment of showing up at MTs and waiting for the lamberts and dehogs and blooms of the team to urge a purge was a success. It’s not enough to believe in the science. You have to believe in the science, the solution, and avoid certain taboo topics. I said taboo things. Now, you know the limits of discourse within the team.
RC’s borehole serves the same function. we understand the team by looking at what kind of discourse is not allowed. They, on the other hand try to understand skeptics by looking at what kind of discourse IS allowed at skeptic sites. There is a flaw in that.


Well done Team!

Steve Bloom said...

Michael, I took the suggestion that we abandon conclusions and go back to zero as direct evidence of trolling. It is, as you know, a very common meme on denialist sites.

Re Shakhova, she did seem to be sticking her neck out a little one or two years ago. OTOH I think it would have been remiss of her to not say some things in public once the potential for disaster became clear.

Part of that was an effort to get obs funding, and that's happening. NSF is dumping serious money into it, and the research (two different projects) is being led by Samantha Joye and Ira Liefer, names that might be familar to you from the Gulf spill and who seem to be the top obs people for this area of research.

What alarmed me about the new presentation is that it incorporates at least some of the new ESAS obs (a draft Liefer et al. paper was mentioned), and as you saw that news is pretty much all bad. Very, very bad, in fact.

Perhaps this is standard for the NSF, but I thought it was interesting that both grants included public outreach.

Steve Bloom said...

Frank, the mental models business refers to conceptual failures on the part of even the more educated sectors of the public (extensively documented in social science research, most famously one study using a sampling of MIT grad students). Example: You and I would be greatly alarmed if the rate of CO2 increase tripled this year, but most members of the public would not be based on that datum alone, even though they may understand that CO2 increases are problematic and even the basics of why that's the case.

So, unfortunately, getting the public to understand the problem involves far more than just outputting science communiques, rather it's a matter of the affecting the conceptual framework through which the communiques are interpreted. Good luck to us.

Steve Bloom said...

Thanks for that, GS. Notice how Mosher conceives of himself as playing a unique role at the center of things. IOW, he's a standard-issue libertarian blowhard. Many such were produced by the unique run of American prosperity during the second half of the 20th century.

Steve Bloom said...

Michael, re the why of zero, you don't think the Target 350/trillon tonne material gets the message across sufficiently? Are you talking about a popularized summary, perhaps combined with a detailing of impacts along the lines of "Six Degrees"? I suspect something like that could be mostly assembled from existing material on Skeptical Science.

While we're on the subject, it would be good IMHO to add to such an article some discussion of possible additional feedbacks (new or made much worse) resulting from the speed of the present climate transient. The ESAS methane appears to be one, the peat "carbon bomb" another. Is anybody taking a systematic look at such possibilities?

Steve Bloom said...

One other thought: Michael, your thinking seems a little indefinite when it comes to the question of exactly what sector(s) of the population yuou're trying to convince. 350.org, e.g., seems to be taking the approach of turning the convinced into activists, thus creating (hopefully) a dedicated minority with enough sociopolitical weight to carry the rest of society along with it. You?

Michael Tobis said...

I agree with the pseudo-skeptics on the one point; the information could be arranged better and in a more interesting and accessible fashion.

I really don;t think the scope of changes we need will happen until people understand the what and the why. We lost at least a decade, probably two. That means we have bought some serious pain. But we might not be totally hosed yet. I am only interested in the long game. I think the short game is lost.

Steve Bloom said...

KotR, what would you say convinced you, and to what extent was it the material itself versus the custom presentation of it?

Re the fake science slideshows, maybe I'm wrong but I think there may be a lot less of them of late, perhaps because of fast responses. What else could or should be done?

I gave that particular link to TK because it more or less answers the question "What's the worst that could possibly happen?", but of course you're right that he wouldn't have been able to assess it. In the best of all possible worlds, he would have looked it over and asked some questions, at which point the missing perspective could have been supplied. You probably would have responded that way, but obviously he wasn't going to.

As you say, though, the main concern is the lurkers (in which regard I noticed a few days ago that Technorati seems to think OIIFTG is doing a lot better these days), so I'll try to proceed differently next time.

King of the Road said...

Steve,

The most compelling thing with respect to my understanding is the very broad view. That is, the convergence of many lines of inquiry and many aspects of the scientific edifice.

The single best thing I can cite in this regard (even though it wasn't "the thing" that convinced me, it parallels the line of thought that convinced me) is this post of Michael's.

That said, because I lack deep knowledge of many pertinent aspects, I still find "skeptical" arguments and interpretations that make me go "hmmmm...."

I am slowly (make that very slowly) working my way through SOD because I like Steve's approach, I like his response to comments, and he's at a level I can understand without having to take time out to work the exercises in a text book. Hopefully, that will make me less vulnerable to the skeptical arguments that make me channel Arsenio.

Steve Bloom said...

KotR,you might find John Baez's effort to be of interest.

Michael, I have the impression that whenever I put a certain amount of effort into developing ideas in respoinse to your writings yoiu get bored and flit off to the next thing. In this case it's Fuller yet again, seemingly the eternal flame to your moth.

You're blindered, or lack focus, or maybe I'm just dull. Either way, at this point I don't see much value in my continued participation. Never fear though, Fuller will, mosher too more than likely. They're all about spinning wheels.

King of the Road said...

Steve,

I'd like to take a look - googling of "John Baez global warming" finds a variety of things, was there any particular place you'd suggest I look to get a foothold?

Or I guess I could GDMOH.

Gail said...

MIchael, I think you should reconsider your condemnation of Assange. I thought he was sketchy when I first heard of wikileaks but then he released documents - very important documents - about Bayer and bees (we will all perish without them!) and Monsanto. (links here: http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/2010/12/wikileaks-redeemed.html)

Also, have you heard this Brian Lehrer interview with Daniel Ellsberg? http://www.wnyc.org/shows/bl/2010/dec/10/daniel-ellsberg-wikileaks/

Michael Tobis said...

The government has no choice but to prosecute and imprison Manning but they needn't torture him unless there is actual whistle-blowing. The same holds for Assange if they can pin something on him.

Again, by whistle blowing I mean that the crime revealed must be obviously greater than the crime committed in the revelation. On this distinction depends whether an act is whistle-blowing, or is invasion of privacy. I am sure there are false positives and false negatives and self-serving interpretations on all sides when these issues actually are adjudicated.

I certainly would prefer that those who perpetrated the "Climategate" crimes could be identified and prosecuted.

I have long been uncertain about the bee/pesticide thing and would be interested to learn more. However, having seen how nothing is blown up into something dastardly and conspiratorial, I will not presume the worst about what I am reading. My understanding was that recent research shows that pesticides are not a primary factor in bee colony decline.