Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ignoble cause: Anthony Watts tells a lie to stoke conspiracy theories - or justify his lies?

Sou | 7:53 AM Go to the first of 6 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts is over the moon.  He's been told there's a paper that says it's okay for him and other science deniers to keep lying about climate.  Of course that's not the tack that Anthony is taking.  (Archived here.)

Irony: manipulating information to stoke a conspiracy theory

In an irony heaped on an irony, Anthony Watts is lying and exaggerating about a research paper on exaggeration and information manipulation - to stoke the conspiracy theory that climate science is a hoax.  The other irony is that the research is based on a model.  Deniers usually reject outright any finding that's based on a model.

What Anthony and organised disinformers are feigning is shock and horror.  Anthony gives credit to the disinformation lobby group CFACT, for drawing his attention to a paper that says it's okay to exaggerate global warming.  Even though that's not what the paper is saying, going by the abstract.

Still, Anthony Watts and his fellow disinformers must be feeling all warm and fuzzy, saying to themselves that all their lies (including the current one about this very paper) are quite alright, because a paper that (doesn't) say it's okay to lie is (not) saying to the academic world that it's okay to lie.

Are you following all that? No?  it's just another example of how climate disinformers twist the facts to support their agenda of - bring on global warming.  Here is the abstract of the paper and its title:
Information Manipulation and Climate Agreements
It appears that news media and some pro-environmental organizations have the tendency to accentuate or even exaggerate the damage caused by climate change. This article provides a rationale for this tendency by using a modified International Environmental Agreement (IEA) model with asymmetric information. We find that the information manipulation has an instrumental value, as it ex post induces more countries to participate in an IEA, which will eventually enhance global welfare. From the ex ante perspective, however, the impact that manipulating information has on the level of participation in an IEA and on welfare is ambiguous.

Compare what Anthony writes...
Climate Craziness of the Week: Peer reviewed paper says it’s OK to manipulate data, exaggerate climate claims
Noble cause corruption gone wild. People tend to think of scientists as being unbiased, in climate science, apparently if you aren’t biased, you aren’t doing useful work.

...with what the abstract states:
news media and some pro-environmental organizations have the tendency to accentuate or even exaggerate

See how Anthony Watts goes beyond accentuation and exaggeration to fabrication through innuendo!  He's spinning that this is about bias of climate scientists.  It's not.  He talks about noble cause corruption.  Anthony is a despicable "champion" of ignoble causes, who spreads his disinformation arguably for money (his tip jar, his plea for his readers to pay his (free) "entry" to AGU etc etc)

Oh, in his next paragraph lying Anthony Watts writes:
A new peer-reviewed paper published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, titled “Information Manipulation and Climate Agreements”, is openly advocating that global warming proponents engage in mendacious claims in order to further their cause.

The paper itself is reporting research on whether exaggerations in news reporting and environmental activism makes a difference to participation by countries in international environmental agreements and if so to what extent.  It found that ex post suggests yes, while ex ante is ambiguous.  The research is based on a model, which seems to have passed by WUWT-ers.  (Normally deniers poo poo any research based on a model, but not in this case.)

PS. Here's another paper by one of the authors, for people interested in the general subject of the economics and politics of international environmental agreements (downloadable).

From the WUWT comments

Climate disinformer Anthony Watts has told a big fat lie.  As usual he implies that climate scientists are the culprits.  The abstract says nothing about climate scientists.  It is talking about news media and "some pro-environmental organizations".  And it doesn't give the "permission" or "advocate" anything.  It certainly doesn't advocate that Anthony Watts and other deniers and disinformers lie.  But that's what Anthony does to supplement his income and push his cause.  And a prime example is this very article (archived here).

The conspiracy wingnuts come out in force

leon0112 has jumped right through Anthony Watts hoop to the wrong conclusion that climate scientists are lying and says:
April 4, 2014 at 8:18 am
Wow. Next time someone throws the phrase “peer reviewed literature” at me, I will point to this one.

Dire Wolf says "it's all a conspiracy":
April 4, 2014 at 8:30 am
Let’s parse this. A paper from China (which will never, ever restrict its CO2 output) says that it is good to manipulate the media (that is the media outside of China) to “[induce] more countries to participate in an IEA” which will cripple the industries of those countries leaving China untouched and unrivaled. So, how much is the chinese equivalent of the KGB paying them?

jauntycyclist is an easy mark for Anthony's spin and says:
April 4, 2014 at 8:34 am
manipulation is so common , entrenched, accepted and expected in climate science it has its own study? maybe it should become a subject with its own faculty that rates climate papers on a beerosphere-o-meter?

Peter Hanely is another willing conspiracy theorist says:
April 4, 2014 at 8:36 am
“Its ok to lie to people for their own good.” Typical left wingnut rationalization.

cnxtim goes even further and says:
April 4, 2014 at 8:37 am
These CAGW devotees have made criminal behavior a science

mpainter seems to think the finding should have been kept under wraps and says:
April 4, 2014 at 8:48 am
It is well that such a paper publicly says what many privately believe.Such extremism will be the undoing of the movement. Staggering that it was published in such a journal. What rot.

Barry Cullen says:
April 4, 2014 at 8:51 am
This from the little despots in training in leadership positions descended from despot Mao and friends. Not surprising. Anything to gain and maintain control over a populace is acceptable.
The “peer” reviewers must, by definition, share similar political views.

Col Mosby says:
April 4, 2014 at 8:53 am
Thru this published paper, we have acheved total corruption of a scientific discipline. I wonder if these two brainless authors realize the contradiction implicit in their argument : Claim that something not dangerous is dangerous, to induce folks to take actions to prevent this (non-dangerous) something. 

markstoval decides this paper confirms his conspiracy theory that climate science is a hoax and says:
April 4, 2014 at 8:53 am
“Peer reviewed paper says it’s OK to manipulate data, exaggerate climate claims”
It is good to see the climate “scientists” admit they have been doing this since they have been doing it for at least 30 years. It is good for them to tell us that their “science” is all fiction. We knew it all along, but it is damn nice to get peer-reviewed conformation on that issue.
Modern “climate science” is pure baloney.

chinook reminds me of the utter nutters at HotCopper when s/he says:
April 4, 2014 at 8:54 am
They’re just following the now fashionable Post Modern Scientific Method that’s become pervasive, esp in America. In order for the ersatz religion of ‘environmentalism’ and climatchondria to spread far and wide like the plagues of mentally impaired rationalizing that they are, anything goes. Possibly, real scientists who believe in the scientific method, the honest ones who leave advocacy, politics and dogma out of their work will slowly turn the tide back.

tgasloli says:
April 4, 2014 at 9:18 am
What would you expect from Chinese Communists? This is why the “greens” should be considered “watermelons”. 

Some WUWT-ers are more astute and aren't buying Anthony's spin

Anthony had better watch it. Not all of his readers are buying his spin.

Bloke down the pub says:
April 4, 2014 at 8:26 am
Are they advocating it or just saying ‘hey man, sh*t happens’

AnonyMoose says:
April 4, 2014 at 8:48 am
They’re saying that exaggeration happens, and they’re not judging whether it is wrong, but the distorted information can increase participation in environmental agreements, and that end result is always good. They seem to be assuming that environmental agreements always have good results for the general welfare, and anything which enhances the general welfare is good. (Are “general welfare” and “enhance” defined?)

Mark 543 says:
April 4, 2014 at 8:57 am
You have misread the paper, or have not read it. By “rationale” they mean a rational explanation for the observed phenomena, not a moral justification for the behavior. The paper goes on to say “However, because people update their beliefs using the Bayesian rule, such information manipulation has a negative externality on the other state when climate damage is really huge, in which case the aforementioned information provider will not be sufficiently trusted even if it indicates the true state.” In other words, crying wolf leads to greater skepticism.
The paper also makes serious claims about errors in Al Gore’s film and an earlier IPCC report.

Aphan says:
April 4, 2014 at 9:16 am
Hang on a moment, I hate it when the AGW crowd says something about a paper that the paper itself doesnt actually say. We also wouldn’t to be guilty of “exaggerating” the claims in this paper would we?
The “article” (as opposed to a study) as represented above does NOT say anything about scientists manipulating data or using corrupt methods in scientific studies. It speaks to how the MEDIA and environmental groups manipulate and exaggerate “the damage done by climate change” to further their agendas.
Those are two very different things and I think we on the sceptical side of things need to be just as careful with how accurately we reflect the conclusions of papers we dont agree with as we are the ones we do.

Conspiracy theorists vs sceptical readers

There are many more comments archived here, which can largely be split into two types as above:

  • the conspiracy theorising deniers - of whom Anthony Watts is one in this instance, and
  • the sceptical deniers - and there are a small number who aren't taken in by Anthony's spin.

Fuhai Hong and Xiaojian Zhao, "Information Manipulation and Climate Agreements", Am. J. Agr. Econ. (2014); doi: 10.1093/ajae/aau001

There's another paper here that you might be interested in:

Hong, Fuhai, and Larry Karp. "International environmental agreements with mixed strategies and investment." Journal of Public Economics 96, no. 9 (2012): 685-697.


  1. I love the comments about the Chinese commies etc. Who would have thought Singapore (didn't they notice the .sg in Hong's email?) and Hong Kong are such havens for leftie economists?

    R the Anon

  2. Talking about nutty conspiracy theories, here is a statement from Frontiers, indicating they withdrew the Lewandowsky paper, NOT because of bullying, but because it did not adequately protect the privacy of its subjects. Individuals discussed in the paper were too easy to identify, so the paper was withdrawn due to ethical concerns.


    1. Eric, you're off topic.

      You are also demonstrating your inability to reason (again)

      Frontiers has this comment on the page of the article, showing they found NO issue from an ethical perspective:

      In the light of a small number of complaints received following publication of the original research article cited above, Frontiers carried out a detailed investigation of the academic, ethical, and legal aspects of the work. This investigation did not identify any issues with the academic and ethical aspects of the study. It did, however, determine that the legal context is insufficiently clear and therefore Frontiers wishes to retract the published article. The authors understand this decision, while they stand by their article and regret the limitations on academic freedom which can be caused by legal factors.

      If someone from the journal is now trying to argue otherwise, it comes across as an attempt to obfuscate after they got such bad press for caving into the conspiracy nutters who complained that their public statements showing their conspiracy ideation were studied to see how conspiracies evolve over time. (I don't imagine Eric will understanding that sentence. It's a bit long. He'll probably put it down to eugenics!)

      That latest action by Frontiers seems to me to be a violation of ethics on their part! I doubt it will help recover their now-sullied reputation.

    2. Is there a clue in the Frontiers URL which says "blog"?

      Is it a bit odd to publish a "statement" on a blog page?

    3. "Talking about nutty conspiracy theories, here is a statement from Frontiers, indicating they withdrew the Lewandowsky paper, NOT because of bullying, but because it did not adequately protect the privacy of its subjects."

      Their privacy?!

      You've been standing in the sun too long. Those "subjects" forewent their privacy in relation to their comments and the consequences thereof when they posted on the internet, and also when they drew so much attention to the very same postings following the "Recursive Fury" analysis.

      And I doubt that there's any issue of libel either:


  3. There's an interesting sense of catch-22 here. On the one hand McIntyre demands access to non-anonymized data from Lewandowski so he can conduct an "audit" and on the other hand he complains about everyone else having access to the data. Life is so unfair to McIntyre.


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