Hitting a dry patch
I've noticed over the past two or three weeks that WUWT has been going through a dry patch. There have been a disproportionate number of rather silly "guest essays" by the non-entity Eric Worrall and very few by former prolific contributors such as Willis Eschenbach (who may still be unwell, I don't know), Christopher Monckton (who I heard was travelling in my part of the world), and only a couple by Bob Tisdale (who's busy in paid employment, I believe). Anthony has even had to write quite a few articles all by himself, which is most unusual. He hasn't been increasing the number of press releases about science, from what I can see - though I haven't done a count.
Today he's taken the almost unprecedented step of calling for essays. He's also flagged a complete about face in his editorial policy, which I'll believe only when I see it. This time he says:
Anyone who wants to submit a guest post will be welcomed, provided it is factual and on topic.So if you've got a guest or an essay or a post that you want to get published at "the world's most viewed" anti-science blog, here's your chance. Anthony is even promising to publish "factual" articles for a change.
When Anthony says it must be on topic, he doesn't indicate what the topic should be. Probably anything relating to climate change and global warming would be okay. Here's an archive of recent topics which could be used as a guide.
Making it onto the social pages
In other news, I read at the Guardian about a private dinner put on by some retired UK financier for a few fake sceptics and disinformers and their hangers-on. No, it wasn't actually in the social pages it was, for some weird reason, in the Environment section.
Anthony Watts was the biggest outlier at the dinner. He's American - the others were all British. He's just a blogger. The others were more educated professionals. Anthony was probably a bit overawed by the company, which might explain why he came out with this bit of hilarity:
The next stage would be a shared conference between sceptics and scientists, says Anthony Watts, who runs the blog Watts Up With That.
“We’ve been at odds so long, it is time to present science together,” he says.Ha ha ha. Anthony Watts presenting science. The mind boggles. I can't wait for him to present his science on Russian steampipes and Airport UHI disease.
Here is another quote from that article for your entertainment.
For the sceptics, the motivation for the meeting centered on shifting the perception of them as “denialists” to proficient scientists who can contribute to the debate.
What "debate" would that be, one wonders. The "denialists" would have included:
- David Whitehouse - who did train as a scientist but his career seems to have been in journalism and who is now "Science Editor" for the GWPF - a UK lobby group that campaigns against mitigation of global warming. And who's Chair is particularly outspoken against science.
- Anthony Watts - who studied science at university by didn't graduate and now runs a popular anti-science blog for the scientific illiterati
- David Rose - a tabloid journalist whose specialty these days seems to be misrepresenting science
And another quote from that same article. This time a straw man:
Sceptics, who generally work outside of academic institutions, are rarely accepted to present papers at scientific conferences – though almost all attendees at the dinner party, and many other sceptics, are scientifically trained. he exclusion festers, with many of them reading it as evidence of “establishment” hostility to divergent views.
Well, if deniers want to present work at scientific conferences, all they have to do is do some work and submit it. It won't wash to complain you are "rarely accepted" if you don't submit. That's what is called a straw man. They are not "excluded" - they just pretend they are. Anyone can submit a work to a scientific conference and lots of conferences will accept almost everything they receive.
And another excerpt, an apologia from Richard Betts:
He added that one of the criticisms that could be launched at his decision to meet with the sceptics was that it could be seen as condoning the more extreme views that he says they “let be taken seriously” on their blogs.
“As a scientist, I’m not trying to build anyone’s credibility. I’m just trying to discuss the science with all the stakeholders,” he said.
Good to know that Richard is not trying to build anyone's credibility. I guess that the fake sceptics will take any boost to their credibility as a bonus. An unintended by-product. Just look at how much credibility they are trying to milk out of attending a dinner party, of all things. Also, I wouldn't describe science disinformers as "stakeholders", or if they are, they would be about the lowest on any stakeholder totem pole. There are much more important and relevant stakeholders who one could cultivate and engage with. Anti-science disinformers aren't among those I'd choose. It's not as if there is anything to learn from them. It's very high risk for scientists to go frolicking with people who'll stop at nothing to discredit science and scientists. It's a high risk approach even for people who know the risks - like politicians, policy advisers and diplomats. Most scientists aren't exactly worldly-wise when it comes to flirting with this sort of danger.
Tamsin Edwards, a climate scientist who seems to have been wanting to build her profile among fake sceptics over the past couple of years, had this to add, in reference to the decision to apply Chatham House Rules:
“Trust is precious – hard won, and easily lost,” said Tamsin Edwards, a climate scientist at Bristol University who maintains her own blog, and will publish her own account shortly.The miscreants that she chooses to cultivate lost the trust of most scientists a long, long time ago. I wonder what she'll have to say about all this when she publishes her own account. Will she start lecturing her betters again I wonder? Telling them how they should and shouldn't behave? Or maybe she, too, will attempt to rationalise the association. Or she might write something else entirely. Lets give her the benefit of the doubt for the time being.
Eli Rabett commented on the dinner party, as did ATTP.