There is not a lot that is more irritating in life than some holier than thou person telling everyone how much holier they are than thou - most especially when that person is anything but holy. When I think about it, the people who I know who really are holier than most of us mere mortals, don't boast about it. It probably never enters their head to make a "goodliness" or "godliness" comparison. Their essential humility is one reason people choose good people as role models.
What you'll find particularly yucky (the best word I can think of at the moment), is Judith Curry setting herself up as the "conscience of the profession". You think I'm joking? Nope - I'm not.
Destroying or building trust?
For the past couple of days Judith has been doing some soul-searching or navel gazing. She's not found her soul or her navel yet, as far as I can tell. Yesterday she wrote a long series of copy and pastes from an article about epistemic trust and climate science (archived here). After it she wrote:
While the author comes across as supporting the consensus, the paper presents some insightful perspective on the ‘consensus enforcement’ by the establishment and why a substantial portion of the public is not buying the expert consensus on climate change. It boils down to a lack of trust, and concerns about deceit, conspiracy and groupthink.
At the end she asked her readers:
On this five year anniversary of Climate Etc., has, or how has, Climate Etc. helped to rebuild trust about climate science?
Think about what she wrote. It doesn't take a genius to determine the purpose of Judith's blog, whether she admits it to herself or anyone else. Anyone who's spent a few minutes there soon wakes up to the fact that what she is about is fomenting distrust not building trust. Judith isn't the least bit interested in building trust in climate science. Quite the reverse. The two comments I've pasted above illustrate this.
- Her first sentence: "While the author comes across as supporting the consensus..." - implying that supporting mainstream science is undesirable. (Mainstream science isn't to be trusted, in Judith's world.)
- Her follow-up question is also loaded with innuendo. Rebuild trust about climate science? When did it break? Who broke it and why? And what does Judith think she's done to break or build trust?
Remember, Judith Curry's readership is probably approaching 97% climate science deniers, going by the comments. Deniers reject climate science (by definition). They distrust it, usually for no reason other than that they don't want to "believe" it. Some think it clashes with their political or religious ideology. It doesn't fit their personal view of the world. They cannot adjust their thinking to accommodate the fact that we are causing global warming. And they are too intellectually lazy to figure it out.
Judith Curry has done her utmost to fan a distrust of science and it shows in her readership. She appeals to the denialati, but few others can see any value in reading the doubt and disinformation she promotes. Deniers flock to Judith's blog because she says what they want to hear, not because she has anything valuable to say. (A lot of what she writes is pure waffle, which I suspect she regards as deep and meaningful philosophy. It isn't.) Judith has lost any trust she might have had from people who matter professionally, from her peers, those who read blogs or who have heard of her. She trades on that, to keep the number of deniers flocking to her. (If the real experts think she's wrong then we have permission to like what she stands for - dissing science.)
How Judith Curry sees herself as the conscience of her profession!
So yesterday Judith wrote about trust and wanted pats on the back for her attempts to destroy trust in climate science. Today she's gone one further. (Some might see this latest as a sign of megalomania or narcissism.) She has an article with the title "JC's Conscience". It's a strange title for a blog post, assuming by JC, she is referring to herself. Is she showing a God complex?. The thought would pass through your head if you're familiar with Christianity. You'd wonder more on reading the next line, which is a quotation: "Quotations that serve as a conscience of a profession. – Tom Nelson", followed by a lot of Judith Curry quotations, Judith quoting Judith as the conscience of a profession, put together by one of her denier admirers. A person called Robert Bradley.
Robert has a blog on which he writes such things as an article with the title: "The Brave Judith Curry (Part II)" - which is what got Judith preening. In that article, in case you doubt he's a science denier, he has written:
- the trumped consensus of physical climate science
- The visceral reaction to her abandonment of the climate ‘consensus’ some years ago has inspired Professor Curry to study the sociology of knowledge to understand the why-behind-the-why of climate alarmism
- climatologist Michael Mann’s grand deceit as an example of how ideological motivations and emotivism can skew a physical science in spite of the scientific method. I have analogized Mann-like practices to the behaviors exposed at Enron (working from the story to the numbers rather than vice-versa, bullying, consensus, falsity, and failure) in what I call the Enronization of climate science.
So Robert, who can't see that it's most likely his ideology that's warped his view of climate science, and that ideology has nought to do with the fact that global warming is caused by rising greenhouse gases. Nature cares not a whit for ideology.
Judith is delighted and thanks Robert for his compilation. She liked it so much that she copied his quotations of Judith Curry onto her own blog. She quoted Robert quoting Judith Curry in an article about how she lectured some poor unwitting students on ethics. She wrote, in her usual pseudo-philosophical style:
As a researcher, what kinds of responsibilities do you have to
- your conscience (micro)
- your colleagues (micro)
- institutions (micro/macro)
- the public (macro)
- the environment (macro)
Unethical Judith Curry alleges malfeasance despite no evidence
Getting back to Judith's previous article, in which she asked her readers "has, or how has, Climate Etc. helped to rebuild trust about climate science?" - let's examine the quotations that Judith liked so much, and see how much she has endeavoured to (re)build trust in climate science. And more than that, let's put them in the context of ethics. How abandonment of ethics leads a person to write stuff like the quotes Judith copied. To be fair to Judith, for each quote I went back to the original, to see just what evidence Judith had provided to support the allegations she made against her colleagues. Judith's quotations of herself are in plain type, my comments are in italics, the links go to the original quote:
In practice, too many scientists, and worse yet professional societies, are conducting their advocacy for emissions reductions in a manner that is not responsible in context of the norms of science. Evidence: None offered
As a result of this lack of a code of behavior for university scientists, there continues to be what I regard as extremely irresponsible public behavior by some climate scientists, and there are absolutely no professional repercussions. Evidence: None offered
The issue is NOT that scientists have values, or even express them. Rather the problem is engaging in adversarial science in support of these values, whereby their public communications focus on repetition, inflated claims, and disproportionate emphases. Evidence: None offered for "inflated claims or disproportionate emphasis"
Hucksterism is a great word to describe what goes on in the communication of climate science in service of policy advocacy. The complicity of many climate scientists and professional societies in this hucksterism is a cause of great concern. Evidence: None offered
My main concern re the IPCC consensus seeking and the consensus entrepreneurs is that this is extremely ill-suited to a complex, highly uncertain area of science, and that it acts to bias the science. Scientists defending the consensus end up conducting acts that undermine the consensus through loss of trust in the scientists. Evidence: None offered. This was in a very mixed up article protesting the IPCC, which demonstrated that Judith has either not read or not understood the IPCC reports. One is just as likely as the other. (I don't hold Judith's intellect in high regard, based on reading her blog articles.)
The tragic case in point for climate science is Mann versus McIntyre, as revealed by Andrew Montford and the Climategate emails. ‘Circling the wagons’, even. I’ve written previously of how we managed to quickly get back on track on the hurricane and global warming wars, whereas Mann continues to fight the hockey wars not just by hucksterism but by attacking his opponents. This kind of behavior does not help keep the dangerous human caused climate change narrative alive, and at some point simply becomes pathological. Evidence: None offered. Evidence: Other than calling on the woeful denialism of Andrew Montford and bad "science" of Steven McIntyre - none offered. This comment is particularly ironic since Judith Curry has made a minor career out of attacking Professor Mann. She attacks the integrity of all her colleagues, but she has been singling out Michael Mann in particular for at least the past five years. It seems very personal on her part.
I have written many posts about Michal (sic) Mann – apart from my own concerns about the hockey stick (Hiding the Decline), I am greatly concerned about Mann’s bullying behavior inserting itself into the scientific process (collaboration, peer review, public communication). My concerns go beyond the general strategies of adversarial science. to what I regard as unethical behavior. Evidence: More irony. It's Michael Mann who has been attacked. He has not been cowed and stands up for himself and for science. Judith is one of his perennial attackers. She offers not a jot of evidence of any unethical behaviour on the part of Professor Mann, but oodles of evidence of her own lack of ethics.
There's a lot more of the same - smearing of colleagues without cause. Judith is not a nice person. One to avoid. By the way, in that last comment, Judith can't even get her science right. The original "hockey stick" paper (by Mann, Bradley and Hughes in 1998) has nothing to do with "hiding the decline". That's from an email by Phil Jones about a WMO graphic, and relates to work that was done on the other side of the Atlantic, by Keith Briffa and colleagues. It's about the well-known divergence problem in a small number of trees post 1960, whereby the tree rings didn't reflect the change in surface temperature. You might think it's well-known to everyone but Judith Curry perhaps. You'd be wrong. She does know about it and has written about it. Which helps show why I don't hold Judith's intellect in high regard. Put that together with Judith not understanding that 50% = half and you may question it too.
Judith Curry on wicked uncertainty
- Judith makes a big deal about uncertainty, often alleging that science (in general or specifically) is more uncertain than is stated (by whom she rarely says, sometimes the IPCC; by how much she has never said as far as I've seen)
- She doesn't understand uncertainty as used in science, and almost never quantifies it.
"The whole integrity/ethics thing"
Close to the end of her latest article, Judith wrote this:
The whole integrity/ethics thing, in all its complexity, is something that is of paramount importance to me and I think about it a lot. There are no easy answers, and there are genuine micro/macro conflicts out there. Whether my own choices are ‘good’ or not is in the eye of the beholder. Some others are clearly making other choices.If Judith stuck to facts and evidence instead of making up stuff, I doubt she'd find "the whole integrity/ethics thing" nearly as confusing. Some people probably have to make a conscious decision to be honest. (I find that strange. I'd have expected that most people are instinctively honest, and the conscious decision only comes into play when they are toying with the notion of being dishonest.) On the other hand, if she did stick to facts and evidence, Judith would no longer be able to play the martyr/denier. Denier journalists would probably stop running to her for quotes, and denier Republicans would no longer invite her to present at committee hearings.
For all Judith's feigned concern about ethics, she is inclined to disregard them. Most professional societies consider that making wild unsubstantiated allegations about one's professional colleagues is unethical. Some codify this. For example, the accountants' code of conduct requires:
In marketing and promoting themselves and their work, Members shall not bring the profession into disrepute. Members shall be honest and truthful and not:
(a) Make exaggerated claims for the services they are able to offer, the qualifications they possess, or experience they have gained; or
(b) Make disparaging references or unsubstantiated comparisons to the work of others.
(From the APES 110 Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants, 2010)
If climate scientists had a code of ethics, perhaps those making disparaging and unsubstantiated allegations against their fellow scientists would be held to account in a more formal manner.
From the comments to Judith Curry
- Judith Curry hides the decline . . . in her own self-respect - from Idiot Tracker
- How do you explain Judith Curry? - from Greg Laden
- Confessions of deniers at Judith Curry's blog - from HotWhopper archives
- What never occurred to Judith Curry (and does 50% equal half?) - from HotWhopper archives
- Debunking Misinformation About Stolen Climate Emails in the "Climategate" Manufactured Controversy - article by Union of Concerned Scientists
- Hockey sticks drive deniers nuts... - from HotWhopper archives
- When deniers have nothing, they recycle dead arguments.... - from HotWhopper archives
Rittel, Horst WJ, and Melvin M. Webber. "Dilemmas in a general theory of planning." Policy sciences 4, no. 2 (1973): 155-169. - article here and pdf here
Briffa, K. R., F. H. Schweingruber, P. D. Jones, T. J. Osborn, S. G. Shiyatov, and E. A. Vaganov. "Reduced sensitivity of recent tree-growth to temperature at high northern latitudes." Nature 391, no. 6668 (1998): 678-682. doi:10.1038/35596 (subs req'd)
APES 110 Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants ISSUED: December 2010