.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

WUWT boasts how it tries to delegitimise expert knowledge. Rinse, repeat... (again)

Sou | 3:25 AM Go to the first of 4 comments. Add a comment
Update - see below.


Anthony Watts has posted a new article at WUWT (archived here) about an article that he's written about already, last September (archived here). His memory is playing up again.

So am I! ...writing a new article about an article I (and he) have written about already.

The newly published article (by Amelia Sharman) has changed a bit from the working paper. At least the abstract has changed. This is what was there in the abstract first time around, with changes crossed out.
A network of 171 individual blogs is identified, with three blogs in particular found to be the most central: Climate Audit, JoNova and Watts Up With That. These blogs predominantly focus on the scientific element of the climate debate, providing either a direct scientifically-based challenge to mainstream climate science, or a critique of the conduct of the climate science system, and appear to be less preoccupied with other types of scepticism that are prevalent in the wider public debate such as ideologically or values-motivated scepticism. It is possible that these central blogs in particular are not only acting as translators between scientific research and lay audiences, but, in their reinterpretation of existing climate science knowledge claims, are filling a void by opening up climate science to those who may have been previously unengaged by the mainstream knowledge process and, importantly, acting themselves as public sites of alternative expertise for a climate sceptical audience. 

This is the new abstract with changes in bold italics.
A network of 171 individual blogs is identified, with three blogs in particular found to be the most central: Climate Audit, JoNova and Watts Up With That. These blogs predominantly focus on the scientific element of the climate debate, providing either a direct scientifically-based challenge to mainstream climate science, or a critique of the conduct of the climate science system. This overt scientific framing, as opposed to explicitly highlighting differences in values, politics, or ideological worldview, appears to be an important contributory factor in the positioning of the most central blogs. It is suggested that these central blogs are key protagonists in a process of attempted expert knowledge de-legitimisation and contestation, acting not only as translators between scientific research and lay audiences, but, in their reinterpretation of existing climate science knowledge claims, are acting themselves as alternative public sites of expertise for a climate sceptical audience.


WUWT attempts to delegitimise and contest expert knowledge


Anthony is very proud of the fact that he is king pin of blogs that are key protagonists in a process of attempted knowledge de-legitimisation and contestation. It makes him feel all warm and fuzzy inside to know that he is recognised for trying to delegitimise expert knowledge.  Tomorrow he'll probably announce the opening of another Chapter of the Scientific Illiterati.


What a Dumb Denier


Not only has Anthony forgotten he's written about this before, he doesn't twig to the fact that the paper has been changed.  He's put up a link to the earlier working paper and said "An open access version of the paper is available here".  I wonder what else has changed in the paper itself.  Going by the changes to the abstract, the amended paper is likely to be less ambiguous about the nature of fake sceptic blogs than was the original working paper.


Update


There's an interesting discussion at And Then There's Physics about this paper.  It has some worthwhile comments from a social science researcher that help explain what to climate hawks is puzzling (about the working draft).


From the WUWT comments


Rob Ricket says:
April 9, 2014 at 6:48 am
Congrats to the WUWT team! Peer reviewed no less…Mann and Lew will have to be restrained and placed in the rubber room.

View from the Solent doesn't understand what is meant by "network" in this context, nor acknowledge just how much is copied from one denier blog to the other and says:
April 9, 2014 at 6:55 am
Describing 171 unrelated blogs as a ‘network’ says much about the authors of the paper. It implies that they cannot concieve of those blogs arising independently and spontaneously.

Gary Pearse comes up with something that will be news to climate buffs. He's got to be kidding when he says (or is he really that dense?):
April 9, 2014 at 6:58 am
Yeah, good, but let’s add the visits by all the main proponents of CAGW. WUWT is indeed a central source. Many of these proponents have been invited to put articles on WUWT to argue their positions. It hasn’t happened much but I foresee this becoming a new development of this blog. There can be little doubt that the new “discoveries” of CAGW proponents of natural variability, the ocean oscillations, solar, etc. where purloined from such as WUWT. Willis E’s stuff I’m sure is going to generate new “discoveries” to replace the patched up failures that abound.

TG thinks that realclimate.org is a denier blog and says:
April 9, 2014 at 6:59 am
Ooo… How come there’s no RealClimate in the top group?

Duke C. is alert to the changes in the paper and says:
April 9, 2014 at 7:23 am
“Given that it is from the Grantham Institute, I wonder how Bob Ward is taking the news?”
Given the differences between the two abstracts, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bob Ward was one of the reviewers. 

hunter isn't sharing Anthony's enthusiasm for the paper and says:
April 9, 2014 at 8:06 am
Oh yeah, this is that paper that attempts to claim that skeptical blogs are anti-science, etc. What a nasty little game these academics play: no respect for debate, no tolerance,and no questioning of their apocalyptic claptrap.
What nasty little minded bigots they are. 

Venter says:
April 9, 2014 at 8:31 am
Well done Anthony and all mods. Your hard work is being recognised. Great job.

Lance Wallace sheds some light on the changes in the paywalled paper and says:
April 9, 2014 at 8:20 am
There is also a useful discussion of this paper over at CA (about halfway down the comments).
http://climateaudit.org/2014/04/07/the-ethics-application-for-lewandowskys-fury/
Mike S at that site points out the change (toward the CAGW POV) between the working draft and the final paper, particularly clear in the abstract. However, Ms. Sharma did resist the pressure to some extent. I commented at CA as follows:
Yes, clearly pressure was brought to bear on the author, no doubt through the Grantham Institute, which partially funded the work. However, even the paywalled version retains some reasonable observations. For example, the first conclusion is the following:
“The most noteworthy finding of this research however is that
the blogs identified as the most central predominantly focus on the scientific element of the climate debate. Regardless of the motivation behind the existence of the climate sceptical opinion, what appears to be the most valued and legitimate way of expressing that opinion within the blogosphere is through the use of scientific themes and language.”
And a bit later:
“Finally, it also suggests that by not focusing on, or explicitly identifying, debates regarding the ideological foundation for climate change disagreement, which more explicitly highlights ‘attitudes and worldviews. . .[and] political ideology and personal values’ (Poortinga et al., 2011, p. 1022), the blogosphere may be playing a central role in perpetuating doubt regarding the scientific basis for subsequent climate change policy-making.”
Right on, Ms. Sharman!

Bluff the public with pseudo-science is one way to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt.  And deniers and disinformers are proud of doing so.  Pretty disgusting isn't it.

I wonder if Amelia's revised analysis comments on all the slime and innuendo that her list of blogs are known for? Or the wacky conspiracy theories that abound? Or has she still been partly taken in by the pseudo-science on denier blogs?

4 comments:

Victor Venema said...

There is also a post on this article by AndThenTheresPhysics. The comments are also worth reading.

Given the differences between the two abstracts, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bob Ward was one of the reviewers.

That kind of pal review is reserved for climate dissenters.

Sou said...

Thanks Victor. I've already linked to that article. I just came across it a short while ago.

Victor Venema said...

Too late! Damn. :-)

Sou said...

(In the Update - above)

What I found interesting were the remarks about how social scientists won't make judgements about validity, which I hope they learn to do sooner rather than later - for everyone's sake.

Still, there can be useful insights if one gets past that limitation.