Friday, August 30, 2013

A divide is emerging among the contrarians - utter nutters vs tarnished lukewarmers

Sou | 5:27 AM Go to the first of 11 comments. Add a comment

Going by WUWT, Anthony Watts has been trying to make up his mind whether to join the utter nuttery or yield to his craving for respect from serious people and mainstream America.  It's looking as if the "utter nuttery" is winning.  He used to care what normal people think about him, but I'd say he's now given up on any dream he might have had in that regard.

A few weeks ago Anthony made what might have been his last feeble attempt at respectability by putting up some "experiments" to show that the greenhouse effect is real.  Mind you, this was in the middle of some really crazy articles - see some of them here - and don't forget "OMG it's insects".  Since then he's proclaimed that global warming "is a natural cycle".

I'm wondering if a turning point was his foray into giving a talk to a group of deluded doctors and nurses.  Citizenschallenge wrote a good rebuttal to Anthony's horrendous video. Anthony only made $250 from it, but maybe he thinks that's where his future lies.  Catmando did a bit of research on the doctors. (If you are in the USA, I'd recommend you make sure your doctor isn't a member of this group - they have what could politely be described as fringe views).

Right wing extremist medicos

Today Anthony put up another article relating to those same doctors (archived here).  It was about an article Richard Lindzen wrote for The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.  The journal isn't a real journal.  It's not recognised in medical circles.  It's more of a magazine put out by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.  That group sounds very professional doesn't it.  It's not at all.  It's a fringe group described in Wikipedia as:
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a politically conservative non-profit association founded in 1943 to "fight socialized medicine and to fight the government takeover of medicine."[1][2] The group was reported to have approximately 4,000 members in 2005, and 3,000 in 2011.[1][3] Notable members include Ron Paul and John Cooksey;[4] the executive director is Jane Orient, a member of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine.
The AAPS motto, "omnia pro aegroto" is Latin for "all for the patient."[5] AAPS also publishes the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (formerly known as the Medical Sentinel). The Journal is not indexed by mainstream scientific databases such as the Web of Science or MEDLINE.[6] The quality and scientific validity of articles published in the Journal has been criticized by others. Many of the political and scientific viewpoints advocated by AAPS are considered extreme or dubious by other medical groups.[1]
Going by the articles in their journal, they are an odd bunch and have some pretty weird ideas for health professionals.  (There are only 3,000 or so members according to Wiki, which is a tiny proportion of health professionals in the USA.)

Richard Lindzen espouses "Lysenko/eugenics" conspiracies

Richard Lindzen has thrown in the towel with them and has become a wacko conspiracy theorist.  If you want to find out just how far from reality he's plunged, read the article.  He's joined the "climate science is a Lysenko plot" and "climate scientists are eugenicists" mob.  Enough said!  Well, almost.  He even put up those two silly charts that Anthony Watts showed the other day as it to say "if two bits of charts look vaguely similar then climate science is a hoax".

Utter Nutters vs Tarnished Lukewarmers

Contrarians are splitting into different camps.  Some of the so-called sceptics have gone down the gurgler.  They have departed reality for good and become utter nutters - Richard Tol, Richard Lindzen joining up with cranks like Jo Nova, Christopher Monckton and dubious characters and non-entities like Tim Ball and Marc Morano.  While others have become or remained lukewarmers, like Stephen Mosher and Richard Muller who strive to be recognised as 'respectable' by the mainstream, even though they've tarnished their reputation in one way or another.  Anthony Watts I think hoped to straddle these two camps, but it looks as if he's given up on angling for respect and has cast his lot with the wacky mob.  You can't be aligned with Christopher Monckton and Tim Ball and expect to be regarded as "respectable".  You can't promote wacky "Lysenko" conspiracy theories and be viewed as anywhere remotely close to the mainstream. Then there are the ordinary fake sceptics.  Those driven by ideology but who don't seem to promote wacky conspiracy theories.  That includes people like Bob Carter and Ian Plimer, whose allegiances are transparent.  They offer nothing (eg "I am agnostic" Bob Carter), foolish ideas (eg Plimer's iron sun) or pseudo-science - like the ones who go for mathturbation. People like Judith Curry and maybe Bjørn Lomborg are wavering.  I don't know if they've decided yet whether they want a legacy of "wacky" or "tarnished but still vaguely respectable" or whether they'll just end up with Plimer and Carter and live off the right wing speaker circuit.

The extremists, which now include Lindzen, may not even be aware just how far they've strayed particularly if they only associate with each other.

Leo Hickman writes that the era of climate change 'denial' is over.  Lindzen's descent into quackery to my mind proves his point.

From the WUWT comments

Most of the comments are as far out as Lindzen's article.  This one probably sums them all up well. It's got the lot.  If this is the audience that Anthony Watts is looking for, then he is doing the right thing sticking close to curer's of AIDS, birthers, Lysenko conspiracy theorists and other odd bods.

Mary says:
August 29, 2013 at 8:12 am
Thanks for the good news, as truth emerges. The environmental movement appears to be a religion, as Michael Burleigh’s books on history make clear that often political movements have replaced Christianity during the 20th Century. Nazism, Fascism and Communism all are examples. It appears there is something inside most humans that requires a belief in something higher than self. Maybe it’s evidence of a soul?

Here's the link to the archived thread again.


  1. I'm glad you dissect Lindzen's rubbish, Sou, because it made me rather angry that I wanted to throw something at the laptop. Once again there's the AGW is religion claptrap, comparisons with Lysenkoism (as if governments around the world were throwing climate deniers in prison like this: "From 1934 to 1940, under Lysenko's admonitions and with Stalin's approval, many geneticists were executed (including Isaak Agol, Solomon Levit, Grigorii Levitskii, Georgii Karpechenko and Georgii Nadson) or sent to labor camps. The famous Soviet geneticist Nikolai Vavilov was arrested in 1940 and died in prison in 1943." (from Wiki)

    Did you notice that the spot the difference game that Anthony played in a post the other day is in Lindzen's "paper" and that some of the WUWT comments call themselves realists?

    1. Yes I noticed that, Catmando and wrote about it at the time. I'm finding it hard to credit that Lindzen has sunk so low. He was heading that way but I find seeing him disintegrate like this rather sad.

      I don't know why I react that way with Lindzen, when all I have for Ian Plimer is contempt. Maybe it's because I don't see Lindzen getting much out of it except scorn (mixed with pity), while Plimer continues to rake in the cash.

    2. Yes, you did notice Lindzen has the spot the difference puzzle. Sorry. I wonder if Anthony had sight of this paper before publication.

    3. @ Sou

      Another "me too" comment I'm afraid, but yes. Linzen WTF? He must know what he is doing. He has the chops. So perhaps he is so profoundly wedded to his prior commitments that he is coming apart at the seams.

      Your hypothesis that they are all getting madder as reality bites has been developed very plausibly on this blog.


  2. Catmando, yes I've just noticed the spot the difference puzzle. I really thought that Anthony had made that up, as it was such a ridiculous thing to suggest. The figures in Lindzen's article do seem identical to those presented a few days ago on WUWT, so presumably Anthony must have got them from Lindzen's paper. A bit depressing that Lindzen could think it a suitable puzzle and that it illustrates anything at all.

    1. Bearing in mind the quality of the journal he chose to publish in, Lindzen isn't aiming this at the general scientific community because he must know that JPANDS is held in such contempt. Perhaps it was the last resort. Probably not.

    2. I wouldn't call it a "journal". It's a magazine for doctors and nurses who protest gun control and vaccinations.

      And I wonder what came first. The Lindzen link or the Watts link.

      Anthony gave a talk to the doctors and nurses. Maybe they asked Lindzen to speak and Lindzen couldn't (or wouldn't for such a low remuneration) and referred them onto Anthony. I wouldn't be surprised if it was something like that. That would explain the exchange of silly charts. It would also speak volumes of just how low Richard Lindzen has sunk - to fall from the heights of MIT right down to the same level as an ex-television weather announcer turned anti-science blogger.

      All that is pure speculation though.

  3. The comments at WUWT are lovely. Sou, I think you and Wotts can take a break and enjoy a well deserved relaxing holiday. With such comments, no debunking of WUWT is necessary any more.

    On the other hand, I wonder whether your description of the latest philosophies at WUWT is similar to the news reporters describing why the stock market went up or down. A story about white noise. Next week AW may try to play the respectable honest broker again.

    1. Maybe it is just my scientific training, that makes me think these comments are signs of lunacy.

      Thinkprogress has an article: As Scientists Leave GOP, Utah State Climatologist Warns, ‘Ignoring Science Comes With Risk’

      From the article: "The article notes that a 2009 Pew poll “found that just 6 percent of scientists call themselves part of the GOP now.” Yet just a few decades ago, “Scientists used to be well represented among the nearly half of Americans who voted Republican.”"

    2. I never did a count, but it's fair to say that a decent proportion of scientists I used to work with would have voted conservative in the past. With the anti-science culture of conservative politics today, that could well have changed.

      Scientists are not all social or economic liberals, in some areas probably not even most of them are.

  4. The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (once called "Medical Matters", I think) is also the only journal that would publish the Robinson, Soon and Bailiunas article that accompanied the notorious Oregon Petition.

    Another sign of the growing nuttery of the Republican Party is that Art Robinson, he of petition ill-fame, recently became Chair of the GOP in Oregon. Robinson also holds far-fringe opinions on nuclear waste and AIDS.



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