Yesterday I came across an article at WUWT (archived here), which Anthony Watts described as coming from an "educated listener". It was nothing but a very, very long denier screed in the form of a letter to Anthony Brandon, WYPR station manager. WYPR is a radio station in Baltimore, and associated with NPR (National Public Radio, USA). Dr. Roger Stritmatter signed himself as "Professor of Humanities Coppin State University".
I wondered why a professor of humanities thought he knew more about climate than all the specialist researchers who've spent their working lives studying the subject. What made him think he knew so much that had escaped the experts?
Another denier who gets his pseudo-science from climate conspiracy blogs
As it turned out, Roger relied on denier blogs like WUWT and Jo "Force X and the Notch" Nova. So he knew nothing about climate but he did pick up a few conspiracy theories in his travels. He's also an "ice age comether", writing:
...the real risk to the future we want for our children and grandchildren is not warming, but serious, widespread, and potentially disruptive cooling.Yep, that's what the humanities professor wrote after the hottest decade on record, and the hottest year on record, which is about to be beaten by another hottest year on record, and quite probably yet another hottest year on record in 2016.
|Data source: GISS NASA|
Roger foolishly thinks there's been something he calls "the pause", which he maintains is likely to be a peak, writing:
This is called by some “the pause.” Others, more plausibly in my estimation, call it the peak.If anyone knows Dr. Stritmatter, be kind enough to recommend a good optometrist.
Now Roger went through many of the denier memes, like medieval warming and "scientists don't know nuffin'", but seemed to favour "it's the sun" over all the others. He went on and on about Maunder and Dalton and other solar minima and thinks if we have another one it will spell disaster of the cold kind. He's wrong.
He also wrote what he doesn't know about CO2 (but thinks he does). In doing so, he has shown that he isn't any good at arithmetic. For example, he thinks that oceans are outgassing CO2 on balance, saying it's like warm Coca Cola. If he added up all the CO2 we've been emitting, or read about ocean acidification, he'd know that even though the oceans are getting hotter, there is so much extra CO2 in the air that the oceans are still absorbing it. He hasn't kept up with paleoclimatology either. The lags aren't as laggy as he thinks. On the other hand, being a humanities professor he probably wouldn't claim to be numerate, even though he's not afraid to claim some sort of scientific expertise despite having none at all. (Reading his letter, his literary skills could also do with a bit of polish.)
His logic is not the best either. He seems to think that because in the past there were times when something else caused warming, that it can't be warming from increasing greenhouse gases now. Logical fallacies are the Telltale Technique No. 2 of climate science denial.
Oh, and by the way, he objects to his denial of science being termed "denial". So he's a euphemism preferrer, if you will.
The Shakespeare conspiracy
I wondered about this good doctor of humanities so I went and found something about him. It turns out he's made a career of conspiratorial thinking. He specialises in seeking out the "real" author of Shakespeare's works. He's what is known as an Oxfordian. Now as I understand it, most serious scholars of Shakespeare view debates about Shakespeare authorship as fringe distractions at best, and a waste of time. People who spend their lives arguing that the plays were really penned by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (as this chap seems to think), or Sir Francis Bacon, or Christopher Marlowe, or William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby, or even Queen Elizabeth or some other person, are viewed as somewhat eccentric, mistaken, possibly even deluded or weirdly obsessed.
|Oxford, Bacon, Derby, and Marlowe (clockwise from top left, Shakespeare centre) have each been proposed as the true author. Source: Wikipedia|
I thought it quite fitting that a person who embraces one type of arguably conspiratorial thinking would be open to other conspiracy theories, like the "climate hoax" conspiracy. Maybe Professor Lewandowsky could add a question about the Shakespeare conspiracy in his next version of Recurrent Fury.
Now Roger might take exception to me, who lays no claim to any expertise in English literature or authorship of same, expressing an opinion on the subject of Shakespeare. Yet I ask you. Look at the difference. All I've done is presented what the experts say. Roger, on the other hand, who cannot lay claim to any expertise in climate science, expresses his opinion on the subject, and disputes what the experts say. He doesn't call on experts to support his opinion. He calls on fake experts. Not just conspiracy theory blogs like WUWT and Jo Nova's blog, he cites a "pseudonymous commentator Lone Pine, at topicx.com" who wrote about how we're heading for an ice age. Roger even got his pseudonym (and tree species) wrong! Calling on fake experts is Telltale Technique Number 1 of climate science denial. Let's say getting the pseudonym of a fake expert wrong is Telltale Technique No. 6.
A pro and con
In his favour, Roger is regarded very highly by his students. He gets an overall rating of 4.7 out of 5, and is said to be an "awesome English teacher". Which just goes to show something or the other, but I'm not sure what :)
Not in his favour, Roger has claimed that he wrote his letter "as a lifelong environmentalist and outdoorsman with a strong environmental ethic." Anyone who has a strong "environmental ethic" would not be denying science, particularly when in doing so they are helping to speed up the sixth great extinction, and making the world a more dangerous place for all forms of life. They'd not be turning to denier blogs seeking some sort of conscience salve, they'd be reading what scientists are finding.
From the WUWT comments
Johan was hoping to get an "A" for English from the English professor, but I doubt he will. He was also delighted to read a "humanities-approach" to pseudo-science:
September 21, 2015 at 1:27 am
Dear Professor Stritmatter,
What a delightful essay! Your humanities-approach is so compelling, with your sword of the word slashing all the mumbo-jumbo of contemporary climate dogma to pieces without a bad word towards anyone, just cold FACTS, The very, very serious message is still there: the danger of cooling. I presume you are acquainted with the research of Prof. Habibullah Abdussamatov at Pulkova Observatory in St. Petersburg? He has warned of imminent cooling alredy for quite some time.
Jit consoles him or herself with the thought that all 7.3 billion people in the world are mad, except for denier conspiracy nutters who gravitate to WUWT:
September 21, 2015 at 1:27 am
Thanks Roger… it is a matter of great regret that the “phantom menace” of carbon dioxide is crowding out the real environmental problems that a small portion of climate money would go a long way to solving.
I am not entirely sure that this obsession with CO2 can be entirely objective even for those who enthusiastically endorse it. I suspect something else at work in the deep psychology of the alarmists. Not that I have any time for those who don’t even admit that CO2 is a greenhouse gas; but it seems an odd thing to have so overtaken generally sane minds when real environmental problems are glossed over. Take WWF; why are they obsessing about a small effect by CO2 when the threats to wildlife are hunting, introduced species, deforestation… with CO2 far, far down a long, long list? Odd.
ntesdorf thinks Roger's letter is beautiful and shows what nonsense is Global Warming with a capital G and a capital W:
September 21, 2015 at 1:29 am
What a beautiful refutation by Professor Roger Stritmatter of NPR’s latest piece of Global Warming nonsense this is. It is well-argued, erudite and scientifically founded. If NPR received more of this sort of response to their lazy alarmism, they would be forced to think and re-assess their allegiance to this Climate Alarmist hysterics.
markstoval's "thought" is one long, meandering, conspiratorial rave. I've highlighted some key words:
September 21, 2015 at 1:57 am
I enjoyed the open letter and I thank Roger Stritmatter for taking the time to write it and then sending it to this site so that it could be published.
That said, it is a total waste of time and energy to attempt to change the minds of those who lead the government propaganda institution called NPR or any of its affiliate stations. The mindless left-wing (in the modern sense) socialism of NPR is a perfect fit for the drive to control all of humanity via CO2 scaremongering.
I knew the whole CO2 think was a joke (a dark and dangerous joke) when it first cropped up in the ’80s of last century. I knew that as the whole idea requires violation of far too many laws of thermodynamics. But today one only has to look at all the data tampering to see that there is no science being practiced in the field. I would call it Global Warming Astrology except that Astrology at least does not try to fudge the data on where the stars are when you are born. (as far as I know)
So, good try Doc and thanks for the effort. Perhaps someone at the local station will think twice if they are even willing to read your letter.
The mods missed the comment from Svante Callendar, or maybe they just scraped in the quota (there's a general policy that only two "warmists" are allowed on the board at the one time at WUWT)
September 21, 2015 at 2:49 am
A Gish Gallop with references to Denialist websites!.
“Above all, we need a discussion that also contemplates the distinct possibility, now supported as likely by an actively growing number of informed scientific observers, that the real risk to the future we want for our children and grandchildren is not warming, but serious, widespread, and potentially disruptive cooling.”
A claim with no evidence. Global Cooling – any decade now…
Gentle Tramp picks a nit, gently:
September 21, 2015 at 3:28 am
Dear Dr. Stritmatter
I know, it’s not really important here and any educated reader will understand what you mean, but nevertheless, the correct chemical formula for carbon dioxide is “CO2”, not “Co2” (“2” should be subscript of course). This is not just a question of pettiness but of scientific precision because “Co2” would actually mean two cobalt atoms in a molecule instead of one carbon and two oxygen atoms.
Apart from that detail, thanks very much for your letter, though I’m afraid, the ideological left leaning people from NPR are far too much prejudiced about this topic and therefore psychologically not really able to enlighten their minds accordingly.
hunter indulges in some pro-active conspiracy ideation and fears for Roger's job security:
September 21, 2015 at 3:46 am
While your letter is excellent, reasoned, thoughtful and thorough, the chances of its recipient reading it through, understanding it, and being convinced to report the news any differently at all is nil.
If anything you may find yourself now facing sudden pressure from your superiors about your job and how maybe you don’t need it anymore.
There were a few people, like lonetown, who decided that Roger's politics were sufficiently to the left to render his entire letter worthless at WUWT. Only the right wing are right. Declared (so-called) progressives are wrong by default. A good right winger will reject all notions from progressives, on the grounds of ideology - even the notions they agree with - or something like that (weird).
September 21, 2015 at 3:52 am
The prog checklist at the begininng was interesting:
“not an apologist for that dirty, violent, and hopefully moribund industry.” check
“will not be voting for St. Fiorini, Dr. Carson, or the man with the expensive toupe and the big ugly mouth” check.
It is a kind of claim of authority. It makes the next 2700 words kind of ho-hum, as he is a rather pedestrian thinker, rather full of himself.There were others who commented on Roger's declaration of progressive ideology. tim maguire wrote:
The whole climate field is like mean girls.
September 21, 2015 at 4:56 am
It’s nice that he tried, but it is far too long. I can’t imagine anyone reading it beginning to end. And what is it with liberals that makes them so intent on establishing their liberal bona fides before getting to the point? Why don’t these people who occasionally work up the courage to venture off the reservation get a creepy feeling when they realize how afraid they are that they won’t be let back on when they’re done?
John Endicott thinks it signifies intolerance of the bleeding heart pluralistic liberals:
September 21, 2015 at 5:53 am
It’s rather telling of the intolerance of the left that they feel they need to tout their leftist bonified in order to have any hope of getting their fellow leftist to listen to them
Marcus punctuates his dire warnings with lots of exclamation points.
September 21, 2015 at 5:28 am
Very well put Dr. Stritmatter !!! So sorry about your upcoming job loss, as the Eco-Terrorists on the left will surely attack you for thinking rationally !! Perhaps you should invest in a hard hat , as it is going to rough and dirty for you very soon !!!! As to my opinion on this matter, when the climate STOPS changing , then we should be worried !!!!
References and further reading
The 5 telltale techniques of climate change denial - article by John Cook on CNN (2015)
- Shakespeare reaffirmed - article by William S. Niederkorn in the New York Times (2007)
- Enough Already - blog article decrying the "debate" about Shakespeare authorship, by Holger Syme (2011)
From the HotWhopper archives
- Curses! It's a conspiracy! The Fury is Back Thrice Over - July 2015
- There's only a two year reprieve if the sun gets cold - though northern countries might feel it - July 2015
- Is it Parody or Dunning Kruger by Mike Jonas at WUWT? - addressing some of Roger's denier memes like medieval warming, the little ice age, and CO2 lag, which doesn't lag as much as deniers think it does - August 2015
- Jim Steele, climate change and the sixth major extinction event - August 2013