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Friday, February 21, 2014

Roy Spencer's Dummy Spit shows his lack of education

Sou | 1:11 PM Go to the first of 43 comments. Add a comment

Roy Spencer has spat the dummy, blown his top, ranted and raved and fulfilled Godwin's Law (archived here - h/t Dumb Scientist).  Roy Spencer has decided to object to the term "denier" to describe him, writing:

When politicians and scientists started calling people like me “deniers”, they crossed the line. They are still doing it.
They indirectly equate (1) the skeptics’ view that global warming is not necessarily all manmade nor a serious problem, with (2) the denial that the Nazi’s extermination of millions of Jews ever happened.
Too many of us for too long have ignored the repulsive, extremist nature of the comparison. It’s time to push back.
I’m now going to start calling these people “global warming Nazis”.

If I understand Roy correctly, he is agreeing that he doesn't think global warming is "necessarily all manmade" and saying that he doesn't think it is a serious problem.  In other words he denies the science - and is sexist, too.

Global warming isn't all "man" made.  It's likely that more than 100% of the current warming is because of human activity.  "Made" by men and women. And it's definitely a serious problem and going to get worse if we don't do something about it.

Roy Spencer doesn't just deny the science, though, does he.  He fudges charts to try to make it appear that model projections are more off than they have been in reality.

Under-educated Roy Spencer

Roy has signed up to the illiterati, equating what he calls over-education with fascism.  Here is what he wrote:
This authoritarianism tends to happen with an over-educated elite class…I have read that Nazi Germany had more PhDs per capita than any other country. I’m not against education, but it seems like some of the stupidest people are also the most educated.. 

Now Roy is from the USA.  Americans don't speak the Queen's English. They speak a dialect known as American English.  (Australians, by contrast, speak Strine.)  Not only that, but Roy's from Alabama, which is not probably considered the home of elite US society and is arguably not the first place one would equate with a quality education.  So he can perhaps be excused for not understanding the Queen's English.

So let this Strine-speaker educate American Roy Spencer on the definition of the word "denier" in the Queen's English - using the Oxford Dictionary:

In the interest of full disclosure, I joined the Oxford logo onto the Oxford definition rather than post the entire web page.  You can view the definition here on the Oxford Dictionary website.

A prominent denier of climate science

If Roy Spencer was, for a change, being brutally honest about himself.  If he was arguing that he doesn't admit "the truth of a concept or proposition that is supported by the majority of scientific or historic evidence", then he is a climate science "denier".  He's tried his best to rise to prominence by touting himself as a climate science denier to the Republican Party in the USA to such an extent that he was invited by them to present to a committee of the US government, arguably because of his denial.  So he could even be referred to as "a prominent denier" in climate science denying circles in the USA.

If you want to read Roy's dummy spit - go here.  It's not the sort of thing you'd expect a climate scientist to write.  It's not even the sort of thing you'd expect to read on a snark blog, like HotWhopper. It is the sort of thing you'll find every day on the more extreme anti-science websites.

PS Roy's article didn't make the cut at WUWT - or not yet that I've seen.


  1. After reading the article that will define Dr. Spencer's legacy, remember that he's one of the "reasonable" contrarians who accepts the existence of the GHE. Apparently not reasonable enough, however, to recognize that the first stage of grief is "denial" and not "denial of the Holocaust".

    Otherwise psychologists using the Kübler-Ross model have been Godwining themselves for decades.

  2. I actually put the Roy Spencers, Anthony Watts etc in the same category as HIV/AIDS deniers, holocaust deniers, moon landing deniers, anti-vaxxers and tobacco/cancer deniers. That's not to say that because they deny anthropogenic global warming and climate change they also deny those other things but the mentality is the same.

  3. There have been suggestions to use some other word like "contrarian" in order to sidestep this point. While "denier" is wholly accurate in an objective, factual sense, this allows them to score points in a way that resonates with some of the broad middle that those of us on the pro-science side are trying to reach.

  4. As a Jewish person who grew up with a Holocaust survivor as a relative, I think I know what a Holocaust denier is. My anecdotal comment is that I don't, in any way, think Holocaust and Nazis when I see the word denier used wrt climate science deniers. I didn't even consider the possibility until I heard (non-Jewish) climate science deniers whining about the association. I've heard Michael Mann (who is also Jewish) say something similar. I bet you if you survey enough Jewish scientists, we'd go from anecdote to data pretty fast. On that bet, I'd say this is just a way of deflecting by the denial crowd. It's similar to the deflection about energy accumulation - atomic bombs, kittens sneezing, microwave ovens across the Earth,...wah, wah, wah, sniffle sniffle - "bombs bring too much emotion," "kittens are too cute," "microwave ovens have a different effect"...quit your bitchin' already

    Either way, deniers, pseudo-skeptics, fake skeptics, "skeptics," whatever...these are people who don't accept basic science.

    1. +1 for Joe.

      My grandfather helped Jews escape across the North Sea from the Nazis, so I have a particular sensitivity to the deliberate confabulation of one sort of denialism with a completely different type of denialism. It's done to make it more difficult for proponents of the professional science to challenge those who deny it, and I for one have no patience with the notion of eschewing the term - to do so would be to concede not only the linguistic ground to the deniers but to cede moral ground and the implied logical ground as well.

      And make no mistake, the confabulation of Holocaust denial with any form of denial is an example of the propositional fallacy of logic referred to as 'affirming the consequent'. The argument of those like Spencer goes

      1) Holocaust deniers are deniers
      2) You are calling us deniers
      3) You are calling us Holocaust deniers.

      It's classic affirmation of the consequent. One might expect it from someone of low intellectual capacity but Spencer, as a practising (apparently) scientist, should have a better grasp of fundamental logic than this.

      It's a damning indictment on his intellectual ability, on his moral integrity, and on his scientific competency.

    2. It's salient to note that affirmation of the consequent is not the only logical fallacy inherent in this stratagem. This gambit is a blatant attempt to poison the well (ironically, the very thing about which denialists are accusing others), and it is also a straw man argument.

      Others can probably add to the list.

    3. the semantic link between "climate denier" and "holocaust denier" isn't the "holocaust" part, just as the semantic link between "nuclear magnetic resonance" and "nuclear holocaust" isn't the "holocaust" part.

    4. Indeed, Spencer and other denialists are simply playing the victim using a linguistic strawman:

      "Victim playing (also known as playing the victim or self-victimization) is the fabrication of victimhood for a variety of reasons such as to justify abuse of others, to manipulate others, a coping strategy or attention seeking."

    5. KR, on another topic, I see Mark Steyn is busy "victim playing", rather too transparently - and all by himself with no legal help is my guess.

  5. Did anyone else notice that the banner ad in the archived version of Spencer's blogpost features an advertisement for Greenpeace Deutschland?

    Well, if Greenpeace is sponsoring Spencer's blog even a little bit, in this case that's money well spent. This is worse than the Unabomber fiasco for discrediting those who claim that their opposition to climate policy is rooted in their dispassionate appraisal of the science.

    I am surprised that so many of Spencer's supporters fail to see how much damage this does to their case. It is now more obvious than ever that the science dismissives are motivated by nothing but politics.

    It will be interesting to see how those who criticized the Cook et al consensus paper for being polarizing will react to Spencer's stupid and hateful rant. My guess is that they will be too embarrassed to even mention it. It rather upsets the narrative that both sides deserve to be listened to equally respectfully.

      And this archive has a German ad for ecological underwear.

      I notice a pattern, something for the Pattern Recognition in Physics.

  6. One definition of "denier" (with a different pronunciation I expect) is "a small, worthless sum" which neatly tells us all we need to know about Spencer's rant. So "denier" is the right word after all.

    1. It's been said that one Sou is worth 12 deniers. I dispute that. I reckon one Sou is worth infinitely more than that :)

    2. One Sou is worth precisely one Sou more than any number of deniers :)

    3. 12 Spencers ain't worth a wooden nickel.

      Sou, you are priceless.

  7. There's something else I've encountered that I find extremely annoying, which is those who regard the use of denier as a form of discrimination. They're explicitly - in some cases - aligning themselves with those who've suffered racial, sexual, and other forms of discrimination. I find that incredibly disingenuous. There is a massive difference between a derogatory term used to describe someone who has no control over some characteristic, and a term used to describe those who have openly chosen to take a particular stance on an issue. To be fair, I don't typically use the term denier because of how it damages discussions, but those who regard themselves as suffering as much as those who have genuinely suffered really need to develop some self-awareness.

    1. We seem to have said some of the same things (cross posted). I completely agree.

      Only thing extra I'd say: does not being in denial have the same root as lacking self-awareness? It's difficult to know how an individual can overcome these deficiencies without outside help... and that's difficult to accept if you suffer from those 'conditions'.

  8. Except when quoting others, I've never used the label 'denier' since I first heard a person in climate denial use the 'holocaust deflection' meme. So as not to give them this opportunity ever again, I always choose to refer to 'those in denial', or occasionally, 'denialists'. In the case of Spencer and others with scientific qualifications, or using scientific arguments, I prefer 'contrarians' or 'fake (or pseudo) sceptics', as seems appropriate.

    To be clear, there's nothing wrong with the word 'denier' and there's no valid reason to link it to the Holocaust when discussing climate, however, as I suggest, avoiding that word removes the opportunity for opponents to attempt to claim the moral high ground.

    As things progress and more lay people come to accept the validity of the climate science we might arrive at a time when I'll start using that word again, but for the time being I prefer to just pragmatically avoid providing an opportunity to derail a discussion.

  9. Holocaust denier:
    Someone who rejects the observational and historical evidence accepted by the vast majority of experts in the field, of the deliberate program of extermination of jews, gays gypsies and those on the political left by the nazi regime of 1930-40s Germany.

    Climate change denier:
    Someone who rejects the observational and historical evidence accepted by the vast majority of experts in the field, of the human caused change in climate.

    The similarities are obvious and explicit, if the caps fits....

    1. Historical or climate revisionism. Easy.

    2. One main difference so far is that, in many countries, Holocaust deniers go to jail simply for using speech to question the existence of the Holocaust.

      When do you start putting global warming skeptics in jail?

  10. Spencer has added:

    "NOTE: A couple people in comments have questioned my use of “Nazi”, which might be considered over the top. Considering the fact that these people are supporting policies that will kill far more people than the Nazis ever did — all in the name of what they consider to be a righteous cause — I think it is very appropriate. Again, I didn’t start the name-calling."

    1. Amazing really. I know there are baseload issues with an all renewable energy sector, but overall we could make a major to our energy provision for very little extra cost and if we include estimates of the carbon tax, for virtually no extra cost. The idea that changing to a reduced carbon economy will be responsible for killing people (any more than coal etc has done already) is delusional.

    2. That "Note" is Roy's declaration that he rejects science for political reasons (as well as on his pseudo-religious grounds, though arguably they are closely linked). There is only one way to interpret his "these people". That is, anyone who supports a policy that will reduce carbon emissions.

      The other thing is him saying he didn't start the name-calling. The fact he said that makes it look as if he is putting up his hand to be a leader or spokesperson for the entire denialiti/illiterati movement.

      That's not all. We know he reads WUWT, where name-calling is one of the delights of blog-writers and commenters alike. And he must be aware of this sort of thing.

    3. Nazi - follower of National Socialism... I thought those pesky "watermelon" environmentalists were international socialists implementing world government. Dr Spencer seriously doesn't have a clue here.

  11. Interesting that Roy finds the term "denier" so offensive that his response is to start calling other people Nazis.

    And his justification is that "They started it?"

    In case you thought that the climate wars might not be able to get more juvenile.

    I am not a fan of using the term "denier," but I do find it obnoxious when "skeptics" exploit real holocaust denial to score points in the climate wars.

    1. I think we can expect AGW deniers to get even nastier and more juvenile as their frustration spills over. People such as Spencer have been at this for twenty-five or thirty years and they're not only getting nowhere, they're losing ground.

      The trajectory of the movement is typical of revivalist movements and similar crazes. Rapid growth to start with then, as the novelty wears off, a plateau, then rapid decline to a slow, rancid final fade. In those later stages the conversation is all inward, defensive, persecuted and angry. Spencer has given us an excellent example.

  12. Don't forget Mockton (who else) beat Spencer to proving Godwins law several years ago.

  13. I have no trouble calling somone a "denier" when they refuse to look at facts in climate science. I have held up copies of the IPCC report (or provided links to them) and said "have you read this? Can you point out a scientific error in it?" Inevitably I get nothing related to the report in response, at which point I state that they are in denial that this scientific report exists and has scientific facts in it, and that makes them a denier.


  14. Revkin has an excellent column on varieties of climate denial where he quotes at length a Scripps presentation by political scientist David Victor "Why Do Smart People Disagree About Facts? Some Perspectives on Climate Denialism."

    Victor starts out by saying "I’d like to suggest that calling people who disagree “denialists” is clouding our judgment. If you really want to understand what motivates these people and what motivates the captains of industry and voters who listen to them, stop calling them denialists. I’ll suggest today that denialists come in three varieties—each with its own logic." and continues to describe what he calls "climate shills", skeptics and lastly amateur hobbyists.

    The whole presentation is quite thoughtful and suggests strategies for developing policy while recognizing that "denialists are driven by different motivating forces, and they won’t go away just because we speak more loudly, more often, or with bigger decks of slides."

    All in all a good read

  15. Spencer is a member of the fundamentalist Cornwall Alliance, which notes that Spencer was the author of the 'science' chapter of their paper A Renewed Call to Truth, Prudence,and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Examination of the Theology, Science, and Economics of Global Warming Policy.

    The executive summary of the 'science' section in that piece of nonsense states:

    Recent progress in climate research suggests that:

    1. Observed warming and purported dangerous effects have been overstated.
    2. Earth’s climate is less sensitive to the addition of CO2 than the alleged scientific consensus claims it to be, which means that climate model predictions of future warming are exaggerated.
    3. Those climate changes that have occurred are consistent with natural cycles driven by internal changes in the climate system itself, external changes in solar activity, or both.

    Natural cycles? Looks like denial to me.

    1. The first section, on the religious objections to global warming, says that the "best" explanation for ice ages and much higher sea levels in the past is Noah's Flood:

      "While there is evidence that sea level was once much higher than it now is, that evidence is best interpreted in light of the flood of Noah’s day—a never-to-be-repeated, cataclysmic judgment of God that would have been followed by a sudden ice age (accompanied by much reduced sea level as water was stored in vast ice sheets on land) as the atmosphere lost its high water vapor content and so cooled rapidly, and then a gradual recovery as temperatures rose and water vapor rose to approximately its concentration (accompanied by a gradual sea level rise to present levels as the continental glaciers melted and ocean waters expanded as they warmed)." (page 15 of "A Renewed Call to Truth, Prudence, and
      Protection of the Poor")

      I would love for someone to ask him point blank about Noah and ice ages.

      Robert Murphy

  16. "Natural cycles? Looks like denial to me."

    I think that you have hit d'nail on the head.

  17. I posted a link on Deltoid yesterday to an article on Rick Piltz's Climate Science Watch

    which slams a WSJ article by Spencer's partner John Christy and another UAH researcher Richard McNider. This has now been picked up by Joe Romm at Climate Progress

    which cites an article in the Guardian describing the wrong-headedness of both Christy and Spencer.

    On another theme, we all appreciate what a terrific resource Sketical Science is, and many of us may have noticed periods when it was unreachable, I certainly noticed one such recently.

    Bob Lacatana, responsible for that excellent heat building widget, has a new article up there describing the situation. Clearly SkS is doing it right and that is what is scaring the hell out of those behind the dis-info campaign and a thorn in the side of the likes of Spencer and Christy who both star (or should it be ill-star) prominently there..

  18. Is the Roy Spenser who objects to the word "denier" the same Roy Spenser who wrote:

    "While most environmentalists continue to insist that there is no connection between international bans on DDT and human deaths, such protestations really are like denying that the Holocaust ever happened."

    1. Well, well, well...

      Dr Spencer has some explaining to do, doesn't he.

  19. " Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future."

  20. (This is my second attempt to post my comment, after the first attempt rapidly disappeared. I hope I have not stepped over some invisible line this time.)

    In their WSJ commentary, McNider and Christy present a graph showing temperature vs. model results. This graph appears similar to one presented by Roy Spencer in his written testimony before the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last July. Here’s a link to Spencer’s written comments, showing his graph as Figure 2:

    Spencer claimed the graph shows Middle Troposphere data, probably the UAH TMT averaged with the RSS version of the same, both data sets based on the MSU channel 2 measurements. These data are known to include strong influence from the stratosphere in addition to that from the troposphere and was the main reason given by Spencer and Christy for the introduction of their lower troposphere (now called TLT) product back in 1992. As a result of the stratospheric influence, the MT shows much less warming compared to that found in other data sets for the troposphere or surface. Spencer obviously knows this, which indicates that he intended to deceive the US Senate with this presentation.

    It's clear that McNider and Christy have perpetuated this deception by repeating the presentation of this graphical data. McNider and Christy didn’t mention that Spencer’s graph was limited to tropical latitudes between 20S and 20N, so the unaware might assume that the graph represented the entire Earth. Worse, McNider and Christy shifted the so-called “model” curve above the satellite data curve, which results in a visual impression of greater difference between the two. The WSJ op-ed was immediately pointed to by Charles Krauthammer in his latest opinion piece on the Washington Post late Thursday (The myth of ‘settled science’), spreading the disinfor)mation to a much wider audience. The WSJ was clearly complicit in this deception, allowing the McNider and Christy piece to appear without the usual paywall that surrounds most of the WSJ site so that individuals reading Kruathammer’s commentary could link directly to the WSJ post. These actions are just another example of the “pre World War II” saying: “A lie repeated often enough becomes the truth”.

    Presenting false and deceptive information is considered a fraud in some legal situations, particularly regarding market data. For a group of individuals to do this represents conspiracy to commit fraud, which is also a crime in the US...

    1. Sorry. I don't know what happened with your previous comment.

    2. Thanks for that, very lucid and quite damning.

  21. It gets better.

    Roy Spencer (jointly with David Legates) writes that... "unlike Katharine Hayhoe and Thomas Ackerman... we deny "that most of it is human-caused, and that it is a threat to future generations that must be addressed by the global community". " [Source]

    So it appears Spencer objects violently to the noun for 'those that deny', but not for the verb that is its root. Strange man!


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