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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Concern Trolling at the Australian: Graham Lloyd and his despicable war on science

Sou | 12:30 PM Go to the first of 24 comments. Add a comment

They say that the best defence is attack. When you've not got a leg to stand on, when you've been found out for the despicable muckraker you are, then bare your teeth and snarl, then whine and whimper.

Apparently that's what Graham Lloyd, denier in residence at a newspaper called The Australian, thinks. He has no credibility in scientific circles. I know that sometimes scientists have to respond, just because he publishes his tripe in a national daily.

Graham Lloyd bills himself as an "environmental editor". What he does is quite different. He's a gutter press style of hack. He is so lazy that he's been known to copy disinformation from other gutter press rags - like that of his counterpart in the UK who writes for a sensationalist tabloid.

Attacking climate scientists and misleading the public about climate change seems to be part of Graham Lloyd's job description. I don't know if The Australian had the gall to write that in to his job description or letter of appointment, but maybe Graham figures that if he doesn't pull his weight in that regard, he'll be out on his ear. Facts aren't an issue for Graham. He doesn't let such details get in the way of his disinformation campaigns.


Rhetorical tricks from Graham Lloyd


Take what he's written today. He's fakes a whine and a whinge and makes up allegations out of thin air. All rhetoric no substance. A slimy attack by innuendo.
IT reflects poorly on key members of Australia’s climate science establishment that tribal loyalty is more important than genuine inquiry.

See the rhetorical trick? Graham comes out with a whine as if there really was "tribal loyalty" and as if there was some "genuine enquiry".

No, Graham. There was no genuine enquiry. This isn't a matter of tribal loyalty. The only thing your denialist propaganda brigade is genuine about is spreading FUD. Genuine but not open. You hide behind slimy innuendo and rhetoric. Just like that opening sentence of yours. What you have been engaged in for years now, is spreading disinformation about climate and attacking the integrity of hard-working scientists. It's your modus operandi. It's the essence of how you wage your ongoing war on science.

Graham then indulges in some ad hominem histrionics and writes:
Openness not ad hominem histrionics was always the answer for lingering concerns about what happened to some of the nation’s temperature records under the Bureau of Meteorology’s process of homogenisation.

Pure histrionics from Graham Lloyd. More rhetoric. More slimy innuendo. See what he's done? Was this the end game from the start? Make up some fake allegations. Call them "concerns" - in true concern troll fashion. Then when they are shown to be without foundation insinuate that the Bureau wasn't open from the start.

There were no lingering concerns by anyone. Graham concocted them. He manufactured a controversy when there was none. Was it all so that he could fill his slot for a few days? He could have written this latest piece three weeks ago and barely changed a word. He could have planned it out from the beginning. His sleazy tactics had a predictable outcome.

Graham thinks "oh, this is a good trick. Now I'll insinuate that the Bureau isn't transparent."
BoM’s independent peer review panel called for greater transparency. BoM did not heed the call and when questions were raised the reflexive response of its supporters has been to shoot the messenger.

The Bureau is transparent. It publishes more information than Graham ever bothered to look for. And shoot what messenger? Why should an organisation like the Bureau of Meteorology pay any attention to a messenger from the Denial Propaganda Machine? Does Graham really think that a worm like himself should be paid any attention at all? Someone so mired in the murky world of science denial that he goes to denialist bloggers instead of scientists, just so he can manufacture doubt where there is none?
For BoM’s defenders, the fact that scientist Jennifer Marohasy once worked for the Institute of Public Affairs is somehow more important than her call for clarity on why a cooling trend at several weather stations has been turned into a warming one by BoM.
Melbourne University professor David Karoly has called BoM’s inquisitors amateurs. And in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald, Monash University astronomer Michael Brown said asking questions was an “attempt to deny a century of science that proves global warming has occurred and will continue to do so”.

If Professor David Karoly said that, he is correct. Dr Michael Brown is spot on. Jennifer Marohasy does not call for "clarity". She is a disinformer. Like Graham himself, I doubt she is the least bit interested in "clarity". Her business is the creation of uncertainty and doubt. Clarity would be the last thing that she or Graham wants. Take this very article from Graham as an example.

Graham continues with his unfounded innuendo. More rhetorical tricks.
It is entirely appropriate to ask public institutions to be open with real facts about actual events.

There you go. That's exactly what I was talking about. Graham has done a great job of creating a straw man. The Bureau of Meteorology is more transparent than almost any other agency. But Graham has gone out of his way to sow the seed of doubt and suggest otherwise.
The belated compliance by BoM to publish its reasoning is proof enough of what was the right thing to do all along.

What "belated compliance" is he talking about? He doesn't say in that article, but I found another article of his where he says there is a new page of information about ACORN-SAT.  He doesn't link to any "publication of its reasoning". Perhaps it is this explanation of ACORN-SAT. Oh no - that one's been up for ages. Perhaps it's this technical document with a detailed explanation of homogenisation and the The Australian Climate Observations Reference Network. Oh, no - that's been up on the website for ages. It was published in March 2012. Maybe it's this 2012 paper from the Bureau's Blair Trewin, if Graham ever bothered to read any science. Oh no - that's behind a paywall. You can't expect the "environment editor" of an Australian national daily to go to the trouble of reading science.

What Graham Lloyd is referring to is this page. A new tab on the ACORN-SAT information website, that describes adjustments in simpler terms so that even a nong like Graham Lloyd might, if he tried hard, be able to understand.

The other thing that Graham is saying is that if some denier blogger makes up stuff on a blog somewhere on the internet, Graham Lloyd expects the Bureau of Meteorology to shut down all its important ongoing work, and pay it any mind at all.

If the Bureau of Meteorology stopped what it was doing to respond to every attack on its integrity from piddly disinformers on denier blogs somewhere on the internet, it would never release any weather forecasts. Then Graham Lloyd might have something to complain about.


Concern Trolling


Graham Lloyd in his article was being a concern troll. He was pretending to be "concerned" about openness and transparency when there is already more openness and transparency than anyone could hope for. What he did was manufacture a controversy when there was none. When it was shown there was no controversy he resorted to slimy innuendo.

Graham Lloyd demonstrates not just a complete lack of integrity, but a determination to impugn the integrity of others. He is without honour. Without principles. A paid hack who long ago sold his soul to the disinformation devil.


Further reading


If you want to read more about The Australian newspaper's attack on the Bureau of Meteorology, Graham Readfearn has been keeping tabs on it. Not to forget Tim Lambert's excellent record of The Australian's "War on Science", going back over time.

24 comments:

  1. The new tab on the ACORN-SAT webpage is the contents of media release issued by the BOM on the 5th September in response to Lloyd and Marohasy's trolling.
    http://www.bom.gov.au/announcements/media_releases/ho/20140905.shtml

    Marohasy and Bill Johnston, one of the silly old plonkers who has been feeding this particular conspiracy theory are in action in the comments on this article.
    https://theconversation.com/how-to-become-a-citizen-climate-sleuth-31100

    Johnston was cited by Marohasy and Lloyd as evidence that the Rutherglen station had never moved. He was repeatedly challenged to confirm that he said this but he refused. That did not stop him from claiming that the BOM was engaged in fraud. While Marohasy is a IPA ideologue, Johnston is more likely just a fool as well as a sea-level rise denier. He claims AMOJ (http://www.bom.gov.au/amoj) blocked publication of his article "proving" that there was no sea level rise at Tuvalu so his conspiracies re the BOM are not restricted to temperature.

    The other popular talking point among the conspiracy theorists is that the BOM adjusted the Rutherglen temperature based on the temperature record at Hillston in NSW which is about 370Km away. According to one of the pseudo-sceptics, Hillston was in a list of 17 stations used in the normal regional comparison algorithm. What they neglect to mention is that the comparison algorithm uses a weighting factor which is reduced the further away the station is. The weighting factor for Hillson would be about 0.025 ( 1/exp((d/200)**2 where d is the distance in kilometres between location s and the candidate location).

    The details of the weighting factor are here. Pages 34-38 explain the sophisticated algorithm used for conducting the regional comparisons.
    http://cawcr.gov.au/publications/technicalreports/CTR_049.pdf

    And then there is Berkeley Earth. Asked to explain how BE come up with the same homogenised temperature trend as the BOM, the question was either ignored or more conspiracy was invoked e.g. John Nicol, chairman of the Heartland funded Australian Climate Science Coalition claimed "The Berkely site you sent us to is nothing more than a private couple trying to support the theory of Global warming ...".

    Here is the Rutherglen analysis from BE.
    http://berkeleyearth.lbl.gov/stations/151882

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mike. I did some research on Rutherglen myself:

      http://blog.hotwhopper.com/2014/08/weather-in-rutherglen-with-wuwt.html.

      I don't know what bee is in the bonnet of Bill Johnston but I've confirmed that he was never based at Rutherglen so he wouldn't know. There is a gap in the records there. It's highly likely that the weather station was moved but does it matter?

      All this fuss about a single weather station is trivial. It's just an excuse for deniers to attack climate science. As Nick Stokes asks, why don't they query all the records that have been adjusted down. Why do they only pick out two or three stations that have been adjusted up? It's because they aren't interested in facts. They are in the business of hiding the facts.

      http://moyhu.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/adjustments-sometimes-warm-sometimes.html

      The record at any single site is inconsequential. It's the overall pattern that's important when it comes to climate. And there is absolutely no doubt about global warming or what is causing it.

      Deniers like Lloyd and Marohasy don't give a damn about temperature records. They indulge in innuendo attacks that have no foundation. So far they have probably stopped just short of sue-able libel, but they skate very close to it. I hope they tip over one day and get their comeuppance.

      Their business is the manufacture of doubt. They sold their souls to the devil a long time ago. People like Graham Lloyd and Jennifer Marohasey are slimeballs of the lowest kind.

      Delete
    2. Re Bill Johnston, you say: "He claims AMOJ (http://www.bom.gov.au/amoj) blocked publication of his article "proving" that there was no sea level rise at Tuvalu so his conspiracies re the BOM are not restricted to temperature."

      Yes, that could explain his attack on BoM if he's wanting personal revenge because a flawed paper didn't get published, if he thought that someone from BoM was one of the reviewers. Not very professional of him is it.

      And I thought he was an agronomist or horticultural researcher or something, not a sea level expert. (Wagga and Rutherglen are inland. They don't do sea level research.) Has he taken up a career as a climate science denier these days?

      Delete
  2. An interesting distortion of the truth in Lloyd's attack on Karoly and myself is:

    Michael Brown said asking questions was an “attempt to deny a century of science that proves global warming has occurred and will continue to do so”.

    I never equated "asking questions" with denial. Clearly from my article I was discussing denial in the context of cherry picked raw temperature data and magic time travelling forces to produce cooling.

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    Replies
    1. Michael, that was a really good article of yours at SMH.

      http://www.smh.com.au/comment/climate-change-deniers-raise-the-heat-on-the-bureau-of-meteorology-20140909-10eedk.html

      Fudgery is only one of the weapons used by Graham Lloyd to attack science and scientists, along with strawmen, unsupported innuendo, copying fibs from the Daily Mail and elevating dumb denier bloggers to the status of "researchers" - among other things.

      He can't even be honest about himself. If he were he'd call himself the "anti-environment editor" at The Australian.

      Delete
  3. Marohasy's link to a lobby group is of interest for a very obvious reason. Marohasy and Lloyd are not diligently writing papers on the Australian temperature record (rather than cherry picked towns) for high impact journals. Instead they are campaigning via a national newspaper and presumably want to have political impact.

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  4. Marohasy and Lloyd are concertedly working on building a new and enduring myth, one we'll be sure to hear mindless parroted ad nauseam from now until doomsday. Once stuck into the thick, sticky skulls of deniers there'll be no chipping it out, ever.
    It's a horrible process to watch unfold.

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    Replies
    1. A myth very similar to the one used in NIWA court case, which the climate change deniers lost.

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11141304

      Delete
  5. At least Australia doesn't tightly control its scientists just yet. In Canada this stuff does happen:
    http://thechronicleherald.ca/canada/1234766-request-to-interview-federal-scientist-sparks-110-pages-of-government-emails

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    Replies
    1. It is worth noting that Karoly and myself are based at universities, rather than in CSIRO or government departments.

      Delete
    2. Marco, that situation in Canada was extreme. But it's not all that different here. It's a matter of degree.

      Freedom to speak to the press depends who they work for. Government employees are not permitted to speak out here without following protocols - which means on some matters not at all. (Same would apply to many large organisation - public or private sector).

      If they work for an inner government agency like a state government research institute they are more tightly controlled than ever. There have usually been some protocols to follow but things tightened up a lot in the 1990s.

      CSIRO has pretty tight controls to as far as I know, although they are not a central agency they can still be muzzled. (Recall a case of someone at CSIRO who spoke out against the carbon tax. It wasn't his area of expertise. Still, if he'd been at a university he would have been free to say what he wanted to.)

      If they work at a university, like David Karoly (and Michael Brown, Will Steffen etc) then they are able to speak freely in public on whatever topic takes their fancy. Public servants can't do that. They can't even speak on topics where they are experts without going through the right channels these days, as far as I know.

      I think BoM probably lies somewhere in between.

      Delete
    3. Just to add - this plays right into the hands of mischief makers like Graham Lloyd and denier bloggers. They push the envelope a long way and make all sorts of veiled accusations (and some not so veiled) knowing that they probably won't be challenged by the people they are attacking, if they work for the government.

      BoM is a much easier target for them than the Climate Council or David Karoly, Matthew England etc. who can hit back immediately without having to jump through hoops.

      Hence probably why David Karoly and Michael Brown are speaking out. And why Graham Lloyd hides behind accusations of tribalism - Curry-style - while making it perfectly clear that he is loyal to the denialati, Rupert Murdoch, the fossil fuel barons and the extreme right wing ideologues.

      Delete
    4. On a related note, most of the scientists speaking out about "precious petals" (#PreciousPetal) are not associated with CSIRO and government departments.

      http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/11/scientists-angry-about-ian-macfarlanes-precious-petals-remark

      Delete
    5. McFarlane's comments remind me of certain men who claim not to be sexist because they 'like women so much that they married one' - or - wonder how could they be accused of being sexist when their mother was a woman.

      Fact is, he likes science so much he's not just cutting science funding, he's decimating R&D.

      Delete
  6. Pedantic and off-topic: a 'muckraker' is not necessarily 'despicable'. I submit that those investigative journalists who turn up actual corrupt and sordid practices (the classic example being Upton Sinclair and his expose of the US meatpacking industry at the turn of the century) have done (and/or are doing) us a great service.

    As for those whose 'devastating' case consists entirely of innuendo, false or misleading evidence, misrepresentation, and strawmen, on the other hand...

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Agree with Anon. The use of muckraker as a derogatory term is, I believe, due to confusing muckrakers with yellow-journalism. Both terms entered the American lexicon prior to WWI and I think many have just conflated them.

      Delete
  7. The Murdoch's Sun publication appears to be on the brink of advising a Yes vote in the Scotland Independence Referendum . Why? Murdoch has twittered "Scottish Independence means a huge black eye for the whole political establishment". A mindboggling reason for voting 'yes'. In a similar vein, Graham Lloyd appears to be swinging wildly in the hope of achieving something similar with the climate science "establishment".

    On a loosely associated event. Er ist weider da! Yes he's back. Monckton is in Australia for a low key visit, to talk to politicians, radio shock jocks, blah, blah, blah. No public presentations in Australia for Christopher who? nor in Scotland wrt independence. What a "precious petal"!
    GM

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    1. As I recall, last time Monckton was in Australia he announced that an important arrest of somebody related to the Climate Conspiracy Australian Chapter. This information, he claimed, was passed to him by a serving police officer. Leaving aside said officer's breach of duty (in a higher cause, naturally) nothing seems to have come of it. Perhaps he's trying to avoid having that brought up this time around.

      As for Rupert, he sees two small countries as even more biddable than one larger one. I suspect an endorsement from him will see the Scottish Labour vote firm up on the 'Nae' side.

      Delete
    2. How many times did our beloved lord tour Australia ? To my loose account, it's at least 3 times for the last two/three years ... Does anyone have an idea why ? Money gained with conferences ?

      Delete
    3. Well, he does have the Lord Monckton Foundation, run by Chris Dawson in Melbourne.

      Delete
  8. Quite some years ago a senior scientist at CSIRO at my division wrote a letter to complain about the planned siting of a toxic chemical waste site near his pristine small farm in Heathcote. The ruthless might of the Federal Government via the Executive of CSIRO was very swift. This was on the directive of the then State Government who were planning this toxic chemical dump. I have never seen these turgid people move so efficiently. He was accused of using CSIRO's name in vain by referencing where he worked and his qualifications.
    We all then got a notice that we should never say when giving an opinion on anything that you worked for CSIRO.

    As I have been retired for ten years from CSIRO they most probably think I am outside the loop.

    I had to sign all sorts of declarations that I would not divulge anything to a third party that I had learned at CSIRO before resigning. Did this include the names of the tea ladies? Or even this small anecdote. Bert

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  9. I should clarify that it was made very clear to me that non disclosure was designed to protect future patents. That is quite understandable and correct. The subtle threat was any information disclosed was fair game. Sledgehammer and walnut come to mind. Bert

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  10. "The Murdoch's Sun publication appears to be on the brink of advising a Yes vote in the Scotland Independence Referendum . Why"

    Colour me cynical, but it might just have something to do with a very high quality largely impartial media organisation that will need to be split apart if there's a yes.

    Noting that Murdoch owns a very large low quality right wing biased media organisation this would seem an excellent political and commercial opportunity for Murdoch.

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  11. A lot of the nonsense of the last few weeks has resulted from denier arguments about whether adjustments are required for temperature data.

    In some instances the jump is so large you can see it in a plot of temperature as a function of time, but often the jump is only detected by comparing with nearby weather stations.

    Amberley has been discussed in the Australian several times, and is an example where the jump only leaps out when you compare with neighbouring weather stations. BEST has a nice plot (difference from regional expectation) illustrating this at http://berkeleyearth.lbl.gov/stations/152217

    ReplyDelete

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