Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Twisting Frames: WUWT is back to recycling old 36% geoscientist denier memes, calling them "new"

Sou | 1:14 PM Go to the first of 11 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts of WUWT is retrieving disinformation from the recycle bin, not even bothering to dress it up, and presenting it to his readers as "new".  Are his sales dropping or has he run out of new products?

Anthony Watts has a headline: New peer reviewed paper shows only 36% of geoscientists and engineers believe in AGW

What would have been more accurate would have been a headline like:- even in Alberta - home of the tar sands, only 24% of geoscientists and engineers deny AGW.

It was 68% not 36% and deliberately targeting "deniers"
Anthony's headline is a bald lie.  Twisting the study to suit a denier meme.  Trying to reframe a studing on framing! In fact, if you read the 2012 paper you'll find the following:

  1. The main purpose was not to find out the opinions of petroleum geologists and engineers on the causes of global warming, it was to examine "the framings and identity work associated with professionals’ discursive construction of climate change science, their legitimation of themselves as experts on ‘the truth’, and their attitudes towards regulatory measures." (The researchers deliberately targeted that particular segment in that particular location, Alberta, in the hope of finding sufficient deniers to extract meaningful data.) 
  2. The 36% refers to the cohort of petroleum engineers and geologists who are adamant that humans are causing global warming and we need to take decisive action
  3. In the main study sample, there were 'only' 24% (Frame 2) who "believe that changes to the climate are natural, normal cycles of the Earth". 
  4. One group, the 'economic responsibility' frame (10%), included rampant deniers as well as people who thought that climate change is both natural and human caused.
  5. Other groupings (68% of respondents) included people who knew that humans are at least a partial cause of global warming, with a full 36% being adamant that "humans are the main or central cause" of global warming.

Does all that look familiar?  Yes, it should.  It's about a paper that was published back in November last year in a paper called Organization Studies.  Anthony didn't dig out the paper itself.  He dug out an old article by James Taylor of the Heartland Institute who writes a blog for Forbes.  Taylor's article isn't new.  It was published way back in February this year.

Not only is the study not "New" it doesn't find what the headline finds or what James Taylor says the study finds.  Nor did it set out to find what the headline suggests.

It's not "New" to WUWT either.  Anthony already posted an article about this same study six months ago! So if the date of Taylor's article (February 2013) or the publication date of the paper itself (November 2012) weren't a clue, Anthony would have known from the last time he put up an article about it (February 2013) that it wasn't a "new" paper and the headline misrepresents the study.

Why Anthony didn't just do a rerun of his previous article on the same subject I don't know.  Maybe he likes the way James Taylor of the Heartland Institute misrepresents the study better than how the malappropropriately named justthefactswuwt and International Business Daily misrepresents the study, like here on WUWT also back in February 2013.

To give an idea of what the paper was all about, here is more of what the researchers state:
How do professional experts frame the reality of climate change and themselves as experts, while engaging in defensive institutional work against others?
To answer this question, we consider how climate change is constructed by professional engineers and geoscientists in the province of Alberta, Canada. We begin by describing our research context and the strategic importance of Canadian oil worldwide, to the economy of Canada, and the province of Alberta. We outline the influential role of engineers and geoscientists within this industry, which allows them to affect national and international policy. Then, we describe our research design and methods.

Here is a segment from an article I wrote about this same study, back in February 2013.

1. Are engineers and geo-scientists who work in the oil sector less likely to accept climate science?

Um - yeah? No? Not quite the point of the research? And if it were true, what did you expect?

A recent study reported that 36% of geoscientists and engineers surveyed, most of whom are reliant on or whose work relates to the Alberta tar sands or petroleum sector in general, are adamant that humans are causing global warming and we need to take decisive action. (They "view the Kyoto Protocol and additional regulation as the solution").

That can be seen as equivalent to: thirty years ago 36% of engineers (not medical researchers) who develop the packaging for cigarettes being adamant that smoking is a health hazard and urging international agreements be put into effect to force people to quit.

The Lie

Poor denmor (probably all unknowing given that deniers rarely read let alone absorb scientific papers) quotes from a blog article that quotes from another article that refers to a research paper in the social sciences/management journal "Organization Studies". (No respectable denier - except Brad - would go straight to the source.) Let's be generous and say, because he was too lazy or incompetent to read the paper in question, denmor wasn't aware that he was spreading a lie. He also seems blissfully unaware that very few oil engineers and geo-scientists would be involved in climate research. All scientists and engineers probably look the same to him.

Looking at the categories ('Frames') in the paper, there were 'only' 24% (Frame 2) who "believe that changes to the climate are natural, normal cycles of the Earth". All other groupings (68% of respondents) included people who knew that humans are at least a partial cause of global warming, with a full 36% being adamant that "humans are the main or central cause" of global warming. (Eight per cent were unable to be categorised. One group, the 'economic responsibility' frame (10%), included rampant deniers as well as people who thought that climate change is both natural and human caused.)

Beknownst (or unbeknownst) to denmor, the researchers deliberately targeted an industry (petroleum) and locale (Alberta Canada) that is economically tied to CO2 pollution so they could get a big enough cohort across the full spectrum (including deniers). They were keen to find out more about how people of different viewpoints frame/rationalise their thinking within the context of organisational management.

Frames define the debate

Ironically, in trying to reframe the study, all the deniers are showing they know pretty well the following, as quoted by the researchers:

Frames define how ‘the debate … over climate change is determined by which actors are engaged, what kinds of problems are debated, how those problems are defined, and what kinds of solutions are considered appropriate’ (Hoffman, 1999, p. 1369; also see Hoffman & Jennings, 2011)

From the WUWT comments

The mods missed this one, but the commenters didn't.  With many turning on Vince and telling him in no uncertain terms that "I am a retired engineer and I don't believe in AGW and most of my friends are the same so therefore climate science is a hoax, so there! PS don't be so rude to us WUWT deniers."

Vince Wilkinson (@Archeobiognosis) says:
February 17, 2013 at 12:10 pm

The WUWT regurgitation machine is in full swing here, attempting to manipulate public opinion with smoke and mirrors and little else.
Firstly, Taylor has been criticized by the reports authors posted on the Forbes article, for using data that was not controlled in it’s collection. The survey targeted Geophysicists and engineers actively promoting the industry viewpoint. Walk into a meeting of alcoholics anonymous and you can find 100% of the people have been drinkers.
Secondly, of the 1077 surveyed, the majority believe warming is partly caused by man.
So, if you read this post and immediately think, I knew it, you are suffering from extreme confirmation bias. Read behind the headlines to discover the truth and don’t expect to find anything other than fraudulent disinformation from the likes of Watt Up With That.


  1. Thomas completely misses the point of the blog post - that his hero, Tony, repeat lied.

    1. Thomas demonstrates the same wilful deceit and ignorance of Anthony Watts at WUWT.

      He and his hero say they aren't interested in what the "science says" - which is kind of funny, given the lengths they go to deny the science while at the same time calling for more "evidence" - that is more of what the science says.

      They are more interested in the lies that disinformers spread. I wouldn't be surprised if Thomas didn't miss the point so much as deliberately avoid the point that Tony tells lies.

      Yes, 97% of the science that attributes the cause of warming shows that it's human-caused.

      And No! it's not a mere 36% of geoscientists and engineers who think that global warming is human caused. Most of them aren't nearly as dumb as Watts would have people like Thomas believe.

    2. Watts and friends spend a lot of time denying the science while trying to wear the same science clothes. I imagine Willis Eschenbach goes home after a long day project managing and gets out his junior chemistry set and puts on a white coat and safety glasses so he can say "I am a scientist". This is a paradox of science deniers, as you point out, Sou. They don't like the science but they have to have the science to bolster their faulty points.

    3. This is the same Thomas who said my "fixation" on WUWT must be affecting my quality of life. He seems to be rushing in with a comment on articles recently.  Maybe fixated by HotWhopper :)

    4. Condescending, wrong *and* in denial. Never seen that before.


    5. Don't know about "faithful" but I can assure you that I and many others have been "personally impacted by AGW" by hot weather and other extremes that were well outside the "normal". Some examples just for me personally:

      More major fires in the past decade than in the entire previous century directly where I live;

      The biggest, longest and hottest drought in recorded history;

      The death of a relative and neighbours in the most catastrophic fire conditions ever recorded in our state;

      The worst flash floods ever recorded in our town;

      The most widespread floods across Australia all recorded in the same season - not just the immediate impact of the floods (eg busted bridges meant extra travel time or no travel for a short time) but the flood levy, which I expect will not be the one and only;

      Having to modify the guttering around the house because the extreme precipitation these days was too intense for what the gutters were designed for;

      The heat extremes - affecting me and my mother particularly - the hottest weather recorded while driving on a long trip with a busted air conditioner. I'm just thankful that my mother survived the trip. Even stopping at a rest station till after dark was barely sufficient as it was too hot for the restaurant's air conditioner to be very effective.

      The angriest summer ever recorded across the nation.

      And that's not counting the impact on general domestic food supplies from unseasonally hot and humid weather (affecting local horticulture from fungal diseases) and other similar more general impacts.

      Now I'm aware that people in other localities have had it much worse. For example the extreme heat waves in Europe - particularly France and Russia. The devastating floods in many parts of the world, the increasing dry and heat in other regions.

      This is just the start of what we can expect as we make the world hotter.

    6. Oh, and you're welcome back any time Thomas.

      I appreciate your good humour even though I am bemused by your comments.

  2. Egads!

    A climate science denier equipped with a cliche generator. I can see this is going to get boring very quickly.

  3. Repeating an old post is nothing new for WUWT.

    Let's see if he removes the duplicate this time.

    Shows how much care goes into selecting the best quality posts for a sophisticated and critical audience.

  4. It's kind of funny. A certain 97% figure has been well known for the last year, all over the media.

    In contrast, come next week no-one is even going to remember what the hell 36% refers to. Watts and Taylor are at best treading water, although I suspect it's more of a slow sink.

  5. Yep 97% is the magic figure University of Mainz notwithstanding.


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