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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Not in god's image: head vice material from unscrupulous E. Calvin Beisner

Sou | 4:23 PM Feel free to comment!

E. Calvin Beisner's been mentioned before on HotWhopper recently. He's reared his ugly rejection of science again at WUWT today (archived here), right after an article in which Anthony celebrates Australia's backflip on the carbon price.

This is an article exposing the deceit of E Calvin Beisner. He's not clever about it. He's like the classroom sneak. Everyone despises the sneak. Everyone knows the sneak will tell lies at the drop of a hat and will blame someone else for his actions. The sneak is a liar and a coward.

Calvin hides behind his god, too. For me, I don't care normally care what a person believes about religion. I think religion can be a great help and comfort to a lot of people. It's when people present themselves as religious on the one hand while being dishonest in the extreme that they lose my respect.Calvin presents as an elder in the orthodox presbyterian church (whatever that his) and a spokesperson for the pseudo-religious cult, the Cornwall Alliance. But on climate science he specialises in twisting the truth, distorting facts and misrepresenting them.  I have nothing but contempt for the E. Calvin Beisner's of the world.

Calvin probably thinks he's being clever in much the same way as a child does when lying to his teacher. He doesn't come across as very clever. He comes across as one of the dumber variety of deniers with no scruples. Calvin cannot point to any evidence to support his rejection of climate science so he resorts to wordplay.


A most fascinating aspect of climate change denial


Calvin's main article is a belated response to a rather good article Phil Plait wrote back in January, after James Powell updated his tracking of science denial vs science papers. Phil Plait starts with an observation:
To me, one of the most fascinating aspects of climate change denial is how deniers essentially never publish in legitimate journals, but instead rely on talk shows, grossly error-laden op-eds, and hugely out-of-date claims (that were never right to start with). 

Ironically, rather than address the issue by doing a scientific study, E. Calvin Beisner relies on the anti-science blog WUWT to boast about his denial of climate science, with a "grossly error-laden" blog article.

(If you're on the home page, click the "read more" link for an analysis of the "tricks" Calvin tries on.)


Word play 1: Rejecting he's a science denier because "climate always changes..."


E. Calvin Beisner might or might not have a commitment to his god but he doesn't have any commitment to honesty. Oh no. Why don't people who reject climate science just be up front about it? Why do they hide behind twisted, shallow words? They can't even be original.  Calvin's downright pathetic for someone touted as a "spokesman" for the Cornwall Alliance cult. He took almost a whole paragraph to deny that he rejects climate change, only to reject the demonstrated causes of climate change. Word games. Dishonest word games. He wrote:
 And so far as I know, there are no climate change deniers. There are those who deny (1) dangerous (2) anthropogenic climate change (3) to which the only rational response is drastic reduction in CO2 emissions even if achieving it costs trillions of dollars and perpetuates poverty in the developing world. (That combination is often called CAGW–catastrophic, anthropogenic global warming.) But climate change deniers? I know of none–unless, of course, one counts those who think climate never changes naturally but only in response to human influence.:

If he rejects mainstream science why isn't he willing to come straight out and say it? Calvin clearly does deny that humans are causing climate change - or, in shorthand, he's a climate change denier. (I usually use the term climate science denier or just plain denier, because deniers commonly try to wriggle out of their denial in the manner that Calvin does.)

Why does Calvin hide behind denier memes like: "climate always changes, but...". It's this fundamental dishonesty that signals the spineless character of the man.  No backbone. No courage of his convictions. He hides behind spin.

I don't know how the man can look himself in the mirror each morning. He must feel like Peter did in the New Testament. He has heard of Peter's denial, I presume. He even wants to deny his denial. What sort of a cowardly fake sceptic does that make him?


Word play 2: Redefining anthropogenic global warming as "CAGW"


As for Calvin's "often called CAGW" - that's more denier-talk. I've not seen the acronym used except by science deniers. It's a relatively recent acronym. It wasn't used in Jo Nova's Skeptic Handbook (circa 2009).

The word "catastrophic" was used in the fake Oregon petition but not CAGW and not Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming.  The first appearance of the acronym "CAGW" that I found was on the the blog Climate Audit in a comment from January 2007 by Dennis Ambler (extract):
Posted Jan 17, 2007 at 5:36 AM...It is also reliant on the govt. for it’s licence fee, (ultimately Joe Public, but dispensed by politicians). It has been obvious for a long time that Blair no more believes in CAGW than anything else but...

"CAGW" didn't appear at WUWT until February 2008. Al Fin says (extract):
February 27, 2008 at 6:20 pm
I knew the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) house of cards would eventually, collapse, but I didn’t think it would happen so quickly.
From the way "CAGW" was used in the above comments, it looks to me that it was already part of denier-speak in some circles before it found it's way onto ClimateAudit or WUWT.


Word play 3: Redefining "very few" as "none at all"


Oh, E. Calvin Beisner doesn't just lie by hiding behind artificial definitions. He'll come right out and spread disinformation. Try these on for size. He boasts about how his fellow Cornwall Alliance member, Roy Spencer has published a whole 30 climate-related peer-reviewed journal papers since 1990. What he fails to mention is that Roy doesn't reject human-caused global warming in most of his articles published for peer-review. He restricts that mostly to his public speaking and blog articles and when he gives testimony to the government or to audiences of deniers. Where he does reject it, then it's counted towards rejection. I don't know how many of Roy's articles wouldn't make the cut as being part of the Cook13 97%.

At other times Roy accepts much of the science. He accepts the greenhouse effect, for example.


Calvin presents facts that don't support his "case"


What Calvin does is underline the fact that papers rejecting climate science almost never appear in scientific journals. He even pointed to some list or other that he said was of:
69 peer-reviewed papers by other authors published before 2007 that challenged various aspects of CAGW

Only 69 papers? Out of all the papers relating to climate science Calvin can only find a list of 69 that dispute it? He presents this absurdity in what he seems to regard as a counter Phil Plait's article from last January about how few fake sceptics ever bother to put their money where their mouth is? OMG - just how many scientific papers does Calvin think get published each month, let alone each year or decade.

Calvin wrote about the analysis by James Powell, which found only 24 papers rejecting climate science out of 13,950 articles published from 1991 through 2012. Yet Calvin's list only contained 69 papers before 2007 - does that mean ever? So the numbers are of the same order of magnitude. John Cook and colleagues only found 78 that implicitly or explicitly rejected human actions as the main cause of global warming. This was out of a sample of almost 12,000 papers published between 1991 and 2011.


Calvin wants the criteria to be something different - 1.


You'd think Calvin would recognise that he's flogging a dead horse. Instead he decided to play more word games. He wrote:
But Powell has stacked the deck. You have to actually “clearly and explicitly state that the theory of global warming is false or … that some other process better explains the observed warming” to be counted as “reject[ing] man-made global warming.” And if your article has “found some discrepancy, some minor flaw, some reason for doubt,” Powell doesn’t count you as among those “reject[ing] man-made global warming.” But he offers no explanation as to what he means by “discrepancy,” “minor flaw,” “reason for doubt.” Those are highly subjective terms. And if your article discusses “methods, paleoclimatology, mitigation, adaptation, and effects,” Powell counts you automatically as “implicitly accept[ing] human-caused global warming”–indeed, he thinks such is “obvious from the title alone.”

Calvin didn't like the criteria that James Powell used. Yet even using Calvin's own criteria, presumably, he could only find 69 papers rejecting mainstream science. He thinks that if a paper doesn't clearly and explicitly state that global warming is false or that it can be explained by processes other than the growth in greenhouse gases (caused by humans) - then it should still be counted. But on what criteria? That Calvin doesn't expound on. He doesn't say what criteria he'd use to judge whether a scientific paper rejects mainstream science. He flaps his arms and goes ga-ga.

In any case, you'll probably have recognised his double standards. That's the opposite of what deniers argue when they dispute the papers that accept AGW. Deniers only want to count papers that are attribution studies. Papers that are devoted to determining how much of the warming is attributable to greenhouse gases vs changes in solar radiation or volcanic activity (which latter causes cooling in the short term, anyway). They aren't interested in the thousands of scientific papers that are built on the knowledge that the world is warming because of all the extra greenhouse gases we've pumped into the air. It's as if he wants every scientific paper to go back to first principles and not build on the knowledge that's already been developed.

Calvin wants deniers to have their cake and eat it too.


Word play 4: Deception by cherry-picking words


E. Calvin Beisner also misrepresents the criteria that James Powell did use. In other words, Calvin lied about it. He does that by cherry-picking. Calvin quotes from an article on desmogblog. His cherry-picks were from this passage, so you can see why he chose to cherry pick rather than quote the full short passage:
I read whatever combination of titles, abstracts, and entire articles was necessary to identify articles that “reject” human-caused global warming. To be classified as rejecting, an article had to clearly and explicitly state that the theory of global warming is false or, as happened in a few cases, that some other process better explains the observed warming. Articles that merely claimed to have found some discrepancy, some minor flaw, some reason for doubt, I did not classify as rejecting global warming. Articles about methods, paleoclimatology, mitigation, adaptation, and effects at least implicitly accept human-caused global warming and were usually obvious from the title alone. 

Contrary to what Calvin wrote, James Powell read what was necessary to identify the articles that "reject" AGW. That may have required not just reading the title or the abstract but reading the entire paper. The fact that with some papers it was easy to tell from the title that they didn't reject mainstream science doesn't mean what Calvin would have you believe. It most certainly did not mean that "if your article discusses “methods, paleoclimatology, mitigation, adaptation, and effects,” Powell counts you automatically as “implicitly accept[ing] human-caused global warming”, let alone that James Powell "thinks such is “obvious from the title alone.”

That's a common trick of deniers - deception by cherry-picking. I wrote about another egregious example just the other day, with Rachel DeJong and her resorting to cherry-picking and misrepresentation to smear Gina McCarthy of the EPA.


Word play 5: Pretending a policy stance is science


Calvin is one of the more dishonest science deniers around, but he's not very smart about it. Calvin somehow managed to twist James Powells' criteria into:
Hmmm. So if I think a natural climate cycle is bringing us into an unusually (but not unnaturally) warm period to which we’ll need to adapt in various ways, I’m counted as accepting “man-made global warming” not because I’ve said so but because anyone who writes about adaptation implicitly accepts it. 

Calvin's wrong. I'm sure you've seen how he's wrong. He confused science, "natural climate cycles", with policy, "adaptation". Is he that dumb? Could be but going by the rest of his article I reckon he's deliberately set out to be dishonest. To try to deceive ignorant people.

If Calvin were to ever get a climate science paper published in a scientific journal (which going by his lack of logic and rigor so far, he'd find immensely difficult), it would be classed as disputing mainstream science based on him describing human-induced climate change as "natural".  It would be counted as a rejection of science for that reason and that reason alone. It's got nothing to do with his call for adaptation. It's to do with his argument that global warming is "natural", that it's not caused by human activity.


Calvin wants the criteria to be something different - 2.


Next Calvin twists more words, this time using a very flawed paper by David R. Legates, Willie Soon, William M. Briggs, and Christopher Monckton of Brenchley. He reckons that they argue that Cook13 should have examined the scientific literature for papers that show that global warming is dangerous. If they want to do that they can analyse the literature themselves. That's not what Cook13 set out to do. Cook13 was looking to see the proportion of papers that dispute mainstream science compared to the proportion that show or are based on an assumption that mainstream science is correct - that humans are causing global warming.

Calvin himself, you'll recall, could only come up with a list of 69 papers that dispute science. Cook13 found only 78 out of 4014 papers that attribute a cause to the current warming, disputed the fact that humans are the main cause.


Playing with numbers - only 0.7% of scientific papers dispute AGW


Calvin wants to play with numbers. I can do that, too. Of 11,944 papers mentioning global warming or global climate change since 1991 only 0.7 per cent implicitly or explicitly rejected AGW. The remainder either actively acknowledged AGW or were neutral on the subject, going by the abstracts. Going by both an analysis of abstracts and a survey of scientists who wrote the papers, there is at least a 97% consensus that humans are causing global warming.

Why doesn't Calvin tell you that? What is he afraid of? Does he worry that he'll be seen as just another denier nutter from the pseudo-religious cult, the Cornwall Alliance?

I've got news for Calvin - that's exactly what he is.


Note: (E. Calvin Beisner's article is using a Cornwall Alliance redirect in his WUWT article, which is a pain, because you can't easily see where any of his links go to. )


From the WUWT comments


I'm out of time. You can read them archived here.


Cook, John, Dana Nuccitelli, Sarah A. Green, Mark Richardson, Bärbel Winkler, Rob Painting, Robert Way, Peter Jacobs, and Andrew Skuce. "Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature." Environmental Research Letters 8, no. 2 (2013): 024024.doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024

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