Sunday, December 29, 2013

The "Honest Broker"? Ahem...

Sou | 12:50 AM Go to the first of 26 comments. Add a comment

Judith Curry (archived here):
As for moi, I engage and get involved in policy discussions but do not advocate, putting me further towards the Honest Broker box than is Tamsin.

Judith Curry (archived here) - This is "not advocacy"?
Attempting to reduce the damages associated with extreme weather in the 21st century by reducing greenhouse gas emissions is very misguided IMO, and misses important opportunities to focus on better weather forecasting, better emergency management practices, and reducing infrastructure vulnerability.

Judith Curry - as part of written testimony provided by John Christy to the US House Subcommittee on Environment, which Judith states here she gave permission to John Christy to submit. "I prepared that essay as part of written testimony for a Senate hearing that was cancelled".  This is "not advocacy"?
In a previous post, I discussed the IPCC’s diagnosis of a planetary fever and their prescription for planet Earth. In this post, I provide a diagnosis and prescription for the IPCC
...The IPCC needs to get out of the way so that scientists and policy makers can better do their jobs.
The diagnosis of paradigm paralysis seems fatal in the case of the IPCC, given the widespread nature of the infection and intrinsic motivated reasoning. We need to put down the IPCC as soon as possible – not to protect the patient who seems to be thriving in its own little cocoon, but for the sake of the rest of us whom it is trying to infect with its disease. Fortunately much of the population seems to be immune, but some governments seem highly susceptible to the disease. However, the precautionary principle demands that we not take any risks here, and hence the IPCC should be put down. 

Judith Curry to Fox News - This is "not advocacy"?
She is critical of the IPCC’s leadership as well, in particular its chairman, Rajendra Pachauri.
“They have explicit policy agendas,” Curry told Fox News. “Their proclamations are very alarmist and very imperative as to what we should be doing. And this does not inspire confidence in the final product.” (Archived here.)

Judith Curry (archived here) on Donna Laframboise latest book - This is "not advocacy"?
I am grateful to Donna Laframboise for pulling this all together, it provides   important context for the forthcoming AR5 report.  I encourage you to support Donna’s efforts by purchasing her book at amazon.com (kindle; paperback) and also writing a review at amazon....
... The IPCC has clearly been playing egregious politics with climate science, as Laframboise extensively documents.  Perhaps this is what the policy makers want, this whole thing is so politicized it is difficult to tell.  But there is no escaping that the IPCC has severely tarnished its ‘brand’, since the heady days in 2007 with the release of the AR4 and the Nobel Peace Price:  Climategate, Pachauri’s shenanagins, the explicit green advocacy by IPCC grand poobahs and their irrepressible urge to make imperative policy proclamations, and failure to address the reforms recommended by the IAC.
... Laframboise’s statement:
Could we switch to the grownup channel, please?
pretty much sums up the whole IPCC situation for me.  The science, the policy makers, and the world deserve better.  I hope that Laframboise’s new book gets the attention that it deserves.

Judith Curry - this is honest?
... as temperatures have declined and climate models have failed to predict this decline (archived here)
JC note:  Attention in the public debate seems to be moving away from the 15-17 yr ‘pause’ to the cooling since 2002 (note: I am receiving inquiries about this from journalists).  This period since 2002 is scientifically interesting, since it coincides with the ‘climate shift’ circa 2001/2002 posited  by Tsonis and others.  This shift and the subsequent slight cooling trend provides a rationale for inferring a slight cooling trend over the next decade or so, rather than a flat trend from the 15 yr ‘pause’.This period since 2002 is scientifically interesting, since it coincides with the ‘climate shift’ circa 2001/2002 posited  by Tsonis and others.  This shift and the subsequent slight cooling trend provides a rationale for inferring a slight cooling trend over the next decade or so, rather than a flat trend from the 15 yr ‘pause’. (archived here)

I'd shelved this article because I've already stuck the boot in and figured that was enough.  However I've read elsewhere that HotWhopper's interpretation of pretty much anything Judith Curry says is "ludicrous".

At HotWhopper, "Ludicrous" is a Specialty of the House. 


  1. Just running some selected Google searches for various climate scientists...

    Judith Curry 82,700,000 hits

    John Christy 70,600,000

    Bob Tisdale 53,200,000

    Michael Mann 47,200,000

    James Hansen 43,300,000

    Gavin Schmidt 4,190,000

    Of these, imho, the most extreme advocate of any position is Curry; who essentially maintains that all of the rest of them should just shut up. "Scrap the IPCC".

    Not content with being the highest profile climate scientist in the world today, and one of the most opinionated, she objects to any of the others even stating an opinion.

    Having seen an awful lot of her opinions, I find it very hard to conceive that her views are primarily formed by scientific data. I have yet to read a sentence written or spoken by Curry that is inconsistent with ideologically-driven extreme free-market propaganda.


    P.S. Seasons greetings, Sou, and thanks for all your great work this past year. If only you wouldn't keep on constantly banging on about the cricket all the time...

    1. Thanks, idunno - and I hope you have a great 2014.

      You saw that? Funny wasn't it. Scuppered by one tweet out of 6,000. Almost as bad as being out for a duck :(

      2/200 - here's hoping - (oops, there I go again!)

  2. Bob Tisdale, climate scientist. I guess he does play with climate data and so, maybe, one could argue that he is a climate scientist. Based on the science that he presents, however, I would argue that he isn't a particularly good one. Rather disturbing that he's third in your list.

    Maybe I should have included Judith Curry's tweet in my post just so it was clear that she had actually used the term "ludicrous". I, however, presume that you don't doubt it though :-)

    1. Yes, I only posted this because of your heads up about Judith's tweet in your blog. I'd probably not disagree with the last half of her tweet :)

      I don't think that playing with climate data is sufficient to be able to lay claim to being a climate scientist. Remember this?


    2. Certainly, if someone asked me if I was a climate scientist because I'd plotted some temperature anomaly data or done a basic calculation, I'd say no. However, if someone wants to call themselves one, I'd say they're free to do so. It doesn't mean they necessarily are one or that they're any good :-)

  3. Has Ms Curry been kind enough to list which professions she will allow to be advocates? I assume that "fossil fuel shill" would be at the top of any such list.

  4. JC: "I hope that Laframboise’s new book gets the attention that it deserves."

    I read (most of) the old one, and I was not very impressed (and that's a euphemism). A quote:

    ”No matter what they said the problem of the moment was – over-population, ozone depletion, acid rain, global warming – environmentalists have long advocated the same basket of solutions.
    These solutions amount to humanity forsaking industrialized society and a good measure of individual freedom. Apparently the answer is a return to Eden – to a slower, greener, more, ‘natural’ pace of life that embraces traditional values rather than mindless consumerism.”

  5. With the collapse of global communism as the boogeyman, the paranoid right wing looked for other things to be afraid of- environmentalists and homosexuals. I looked at a bit of Strawberry Shortcake's overheated prose and realized we looking at a warped mind at play, not a functioning grownup.

  6. Oh, and if you wonder where that black money is going, look no further than the hits for Curry, Tisdale and Christy.

  7. First Sou, I hope you're having a wonderful holiday and wish you a Happy New Year. We all appreciate the work you put into this blog.

    Second, when a person's name becomes a noun or a verb, then they're reputation has grown beyond them. Sometimes this is good as in "my son is an Einstein!" In this case, "do a Curry" or "become a Curry" is not so good. The fact that everyone knew what this meant when referring to Tamsin after her blog comments on advocacy is telling. She even wrote on this blog to trumpet that "I'm a female climate scientist that listens to sceptics' views. There, I believe, your analogy ends. I'm IPCC all over." She felt it was that important to avoid the connection. She didn't want to be associated with a someone who went from conducting science to peddling "ludicrous" disinformation about climate science.

  8. Curry heading the list : somebody's getting a bonus for that inspired piece of headhunting. From nothing a few years ago to loony of choice and professional poison - very slick promotion.

    It'll all end in tears, mark my words. The machine will chew her up and spit her out. It's in the nature of the machine, and Curry's too naive to realise it.

  9. A few months ago I posted (I forget where) a graphic depicting the progression to date of Curry's Scopus citations over her career. Anyone with a familiarity of the nature of scientific citation would understand the disconnect between Curry's dwindling scientific relevance and her Google hit rate.

    Whatever Curry is selling now, it's only on the coat-tails of her former scientific reputation, and not on any current scientific, logical, or ethical validity to which she seems to imagine that she can lay claim.

    Bernard J.

  10. @Bernard J
    That graph is all wrong.

    1. Indeed, it says Judtih instead of Judith. ;-)

      When was the last time Curry has been lead author of a study? I looked at her resume once, and she was mostly co-author.

    2. Actually, Sou, Richard Tol is correct. I suspect that my original trawl of Scopus returned only the first of several pages of citations so my citations-by-year will therefore be incomplete.

      I'm happy to call mera culpa.

      Bernard J.

    3. Hi Richard. Since you're here, would you like to tell us how you think it reflects on your reputation as a serious economist to be seen posting supportive content on recent threads at WUWT? You commented recently on a thread about environmental fiscal reform that was full of conspiracy theorists talking about the IPCC controlling the world. Does that work out for you in economics? [I note you were also pasting up some crap about excises that you had obviously read on wikipedia - is that how serious economists work?]

      I also note you made a big thing about attacking Lewandowsky's Moon Landing paper - on twitter, at Bishop Hill, and around the traps. Well, recently (as sou observed here) there was a single thread on WUWT that included three moon landing denialists and two idiots who think the moon doesn't spin. In light of this, has your opinion of Lewandowsky et al changed? And do you think it reflects well on you as a professional economist that you frequently give approving freedback, comments, links and tweets to a website that regularly denies the role of CO2 in warming, supports conspiracy theories about the IPCC and Agenda 21, and has multiple commenters who deny the moon landings happened?

      Also, have you ever published in a Dog Astrology journal, and if not, how many years do you think it will be until you can't publish anywhere else?

    4. I'd like to thank Richard Tol for drawing to my attention the error in my plot from the Scopus return, and to apologise to Judith Curry for the same. I don't have the exported data with me at the moment so I can't check to see where the problem arose, but it's apparent that I likely had the wrong J. Curry's data.

      As Effi would say, how embarrassment.

      For the record this is Curry's citation history to date, self-citation excluded:


      There's no significant dwindling as I previously thought, but there is a hiatus in the rate for the last few years - perhaps we could talk about what such a hiatus means...

      And even better than being corrected is the knowledge that Richard Tol is currently reading Hotwhopper.

      I have so many questions that I don't know where to start, although I am curious indeed to know why you provided the glowing reviews that you did for Donna Laframboise's two execrable books on the IPCC - perhaps you could indulge us by pointing out the significant highlights (in your opinion) of The Delinquent Teenager and the Dustbin.

      Bernard J.

    5. Dear anonymous:
      As you seem to follow me so closely, you probably know that I have argued in favour of environmental tax reform for some 20 years now. My recent contributions to WUWT are no different. In the most recent case, I felt compelled to add a few comments since I am one of the editors of the journal that published the paper under discussion.

    6. Hi Richard, thanks for your cute reply. I'm sorry to say I don't follow you closely, but when I go to WUWT to entertain myself watching the Stupid, I often see you commenting there. I'm intrigued that if you have been arguing in favour of environmental tax reform for "some 20 years now" the best you can do in amongst the crowd of conspiracy theorists is to put up an unreferenced regurgitation from wikipedia that mildly supports their claims that tax will destroy the universe. Tell me, when you are acting as editor of that journal, do you also rely on uncited information from wikipedia?

      Do the other editors of that journal know about your activities supporting anti-IPCC Agenda 21 conspiracy theories on WUWT? Do you think your reputation is damaged in any way by supporting such people? Or is economics the sort of field where it doesn't matter how unhinged you behave in public?

  11. Sou, forgive me for cross posting from other blogs, but perhaps the origin of the term "honest broker" is instructive here. My comment at AndThenThere'sPhysics:

    The origin of the term “honest broker” stems from German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck’s self-defined role as “ehrlicher Makler” at the Congress of Berlin in 1878. Ostensibly, he was trying to patch up relations between Russia (who had just won a war with Turkey that had given them great influence in the Balkans) and Austria-Hungary, who had missed that boat. In fact, Bismarck’s aim was to reverse Russia’s gains and increase Austrian influence, in which he succeeded, with Austria annexing Bosnia.

    In the end, it led to 25 years of friction with Russia and contributed directly to the outbreak of the First World War. The flashpoint for that war was the assassination of the Austrian heir while touring the capital of their newest province of Bosnia. Under the circumstances, that seems faintly ironic.

    But Honest broker? In a pig’s eye…Bismarck was pursuing German policy, whatever label he put on it for PR.



  12. Richard has already "done a Tol" and advises the GWPF

  13. As far as I'm concerned, everyone who accepts the IPCC consensus position on climate is not an advocate unless they then go on to propose specific responses to the problem. Just saying "the science suggests we have a serious problem" is not advocacy, even if they go on to describe in detail what the likely impacts might be.

    On the other hand, people who suggest we should ignore the consensus science and adopt a 'wait and see' policy are advocating.

    Just to be clear, advocating 'no action' is the opposite of advocating 'specific action/s'. It's not the opposite of stating that a reduction in CO2 concentrations is necessary.

    1. The scientific position is based on the fact that it's mainly increases in GHGs that are causing global warming. So regardless of what else we do, we'll have to reduce GHG emissions if we want to limit global warming. Advocating a reduction is GHG emissions is different from saying that reducing GHG emissions will be necessary to limit global warming. However the line between the two is too fine to matter a damn in my book.

      The bigger issue scientists probably have to face at one point or other in their career, is whether, when and how to speak up about the damage we are doing. (Even publishing in a scientific journal can be regarded as "speaking up" - particularly on a subject like climate, which is followed closely by people beyond the field.)

      Having worked with R&D directors I know that there have been efforts in all sorts of scientific fields to encourage scientists to communicate with the wider public. Not just in climate science but in all sorts of science. I don't share the view that some people hold, that all scientists "should" try their hand at public communication. Not all of them have the attributes to do it well or the desire. They chose to be research scientists not politicians or journalists. That's where science communicators fill an important role.

      Some scientists do it very well and I applaud them for it.

      Getting back to the advocacy bit - when it comes to public policy, there are many more choices - ie the means by which we reduce emissions. It'll take more than one approach. Probably all of pricing carbon, supporting development of clean energy, regulating carbon emissions, public education and more. Just like when any societal change is warranted.

  14. Ah yes, the honest broker:

    curryja | December 30, 2013 at 4:25 pm |

    "I regard the distinction between expressing an opinion vs advocacy is that advocacy is done with the intent of influencing public policy and/or resource allocation"

    Apparently Judith testifies before Congress as a way to avoid influencing public policy and/or resource allocation.

    1. Or writing op-eds for the Australian and the National Post.

      Or writing an op-ed a day at Judy's.


      About anything related to "advancing organizational goals" can be considered activism:


      A random paper (but quite good, actually) that defines the many roles of non-profit organizations:

      > Nonprofits participate in a variety of public decisions at different points in the policy cycle. The authors argue that building social capital, facilitating civic participation, and providing public voice are activities central to an analysis of the interaction of nonprofits and public policy in democratic civil society.


      If "providing a public voice" can be considered as an important role for organizations, what about listening?

      The power of listening is almost as strong as the power of silence.

  15. That was a very interesting and eye-opening observation. Internet opens up lots of new opportunities for investigating all sorts of questions and making conclusions based on the received results.
    P.S. Belated seasons greetings to everyone!


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