Tuesday, September 16, 2014

At a crossroad. Have deniers all gone mad or is this "normal"?

Sou | 8:42 PM Go to the first of 33 comments. Add a comment

I'm starting to think I might be able to take a break from denier watching. Anthony Watts has gone from his normal ridiculous to stark staring mad. Is it the heat getting to him? Has the word gone out that too many fake sceptics are saying stuff like:
"We don't dispute that it's warming. We don't dispute that CO2 is causing it. We just dispute that it will be harmful."
Has someone who deniers look up to said "enough is enough, you're starting to act like alarmists". Or maybe this is the last hurrah of the denialiati.

Just recently Anthony Watts has posted articles:

Oh there's probably lots more idiocy. I don't keep up with it all. Those are all from the last three days! Three days mind you. It's as if someone put out a memo to deniers to pull out all the stops. To not care if they look bloody barmy to the world at large. As if the denial "movement" (not that such a rag tag mob of paranoid idiots could possibly organise themselves into a "movement") has sent out a memo - "Act Crazy". 

You should see the number of articles Anthony's copying from the HockeySchtick, who is one of Anthony's favourites at the moment, despite the fact that in Anthony's world he's an "anonymous coward" for using a pseudonym. (The HockeySchtick specialises in pseudo-science crap like "accumulated departures from the mean" in sunspots and claims of "it's the sun".)

Today the article (archived here) is one of those ridiculous gish gallops full of wrong charts of GISP2 on Greenland, together with links to "Steve Goddard's" blog. Muttering something about disappearing a "blip" or a "blop", which I gather refers to the rise and fall of global temperatures in the early 1940s. Which hasn't disappeared but deniers reckon it's got a tad smaller since a very early paper by James Hansen in 1981 or 2001 or something. It hasn't. At least not between 2001 and now. The whole chart has shifted so the blip is still a blip.

It's not just the bottom of the barrel mob at WUWT and elsewhere. The GWPF has gone nuts as well. They've got Matt Ridley going gung ho on ozone hole denial. Can you believe it? Matt Ridley!  Eli Rabett has the answers to the questions he should have asked. That's why I'm thinking the word has gone out. Some benefactor is offering a prize for the denier who can act the weirdest.
And then there's Judith Curry. I can't wait to see what she comes up with today. Just kidding. We know she'll sprinkle her talk with "wicked" and "IPCC should be disbanded" and "uncertainty monsters" and "no action necessary" and "stadium waves" and "we just don't know". She might even mention her self-appointed nemesis, Professor Mann. Speaking to the George C Marshall Institute is just another sign that deniers are backing further and further away from reality.

Today I even found myself tweeting to one of those utter nutter deniers. He claimed that the papers that Cook13 identified that acknowledge that humans are causing global warming are only 0.3% of papers and the rest he presumably thinks dispute the science. Doing the sums what he's arguing is that somehow in the literature search, John Cook and his colleagues missed out on finding 1,294,770 papers that dispute human-caused warming. So it could be me that's going nuts. Who in their right mind would tweet to someone as weird as that?

I don't know if I've just over-dosed on denier nonsense or if they really have all gone barking mad. Perhaps someone else can tell me if they think there's been a shift or if I'm imagining it. If there's been a shift into complete lunacy, we can move out of the cesspit and talk about important things like climate policy and what ordinary people are doing to hurry up climate action. Have some "feel good" stories for a change. Some inspirational anecdotes.

It does seem as if deniers have gone from being silly little people who are wilfully ignorant about climate to people who shouldn't be allowed out on the streets unless accompanied by a professional carer.

What do you think?

(I'm probably starting to sound like ATTP, which can't be a bad thing. Except for my lack of civility:))

Credit: Plognark


  1. Heh, they LOVE the GISP2 chart don't they? And they always point out the data comes from Richard Alley, a noted 'alarmist'. Then they miss the point that the series ends in 1855 (Not 1905) and that temperatures in the region have risen to a level higher than any in the ice core record and Alley himself says putting the chart to this purpose is stupid and misguided. I recently mused that despite these flaws we would not have to wait long for the chart to re-appear at WUWT, as they don't have much actual science. I was right.

    No, I share your perception. Both the choirmaster and the choir have lurched a little further away from reality. There also seem to be fewer but more active posters and in the comments, more politics, of the extreme right, libertarian, paranoid 'the gubmint, academia and the media are all in on it - the fabricated climate change scare is just one facet of the conspiracy to tax us all into serfdom' variety. Not sure if this is intentional and cynical - maybe Watts has correctly identified his core audience and is trying to up the clicks so he gets more for his ads, but I'm not sure if he's that smart, more likely a sign of desperation....

    1. Thanks, Phil. So maybe I'm not imagining things. Sane people, like Nick Stokes and even Steve Mosher (who has occasional flashes of sanity) are noticeably absent. The half sane people, like Greg Goodman and Pamela Gray are acting like utter nutters.

      Even Anthony's mate Willis hasn't been around much. Not that he inhabits the real world, but he used to try to keep the mask straight some of the time. When he reappeared this week, he seemed to have shifted away from whatever vague hold he had on reality too, with his "bust out laughing" at the notion that a big melt in Antarctica or Greenland could raise sea level.

      Anthony's "guests" these days are nonentities like Eric Worrall. Anthony is going to crackpot blogs like "hockeyschtick" to fill his quota. How long before he succumbs and starts regularly posting stuff from "SteveGoddard" again? That would be a very public statement about where he's heading. He's dipped his toe in that water once recently. Today's article links to his nonsense. It's probably only a matter of time.

  2. Natural variation? :)

    1. Lol - 'scuse me, but I really did laugh out loud. Thanks, Anon :)

  3. "What do you think?" - That some of us are recognizing climate revisionism and climate revisionists for what they are. The madness & malice never really changed.

  4. Trying to counter arguments by deniers on twitter is a lost cause. 140 characters is useless. Your twitter nemesis linked to a laughable refutation by Monckton from the SPPI. (founded by a Republican staffer named Robert Ferguson with funding from ExxonMobil). So lets just for a moment ignore the conflict of interest inherent in the SPPI. The first part of Monckton's 'paper i's just a jaded explanation of why consensus is not science. But let's just ignore the consensus of other well established scientific theories like germ theory, electromagnetic theory and atomic theory and get to the 'meat' of his argument.

    He himself doesn't do a reanalysis of the Cook paper. He relies on an reanalysis from the Canadian Friends of Science, another deceptively labelled oil funded astroturfer.

    see http://sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Friends_of_Science

    It's from this that the 0.5% number comes from, which is in itself highly flawed. They redo the math so that they include those papers which did not 'state an opinion', which the Cook study did not count. Really?. Don't they think anyone will not notice their devious mathurbation.

    But does anyone else notice a theme. Fossil fuel interests seem to play a tawdry and hidden role in the abusive propaganda that the deniers seem to just lap up. I mean, come on. Relying on climate science information from fossil fuel funded astroturfers. Am I the only one who sees the abhorrent and disgusting conflict of interest? But deniers just brush this away, seemingly content that fossil fuel companies and their front organisations are a reliable source of information, and it's the dedicated climate scientists who are the heretics beholden to their 'faith'. Why don't deniers challenge this obvious misinformation and deception? Instead they flock to WUWT, where they engage in a competition to see who can come up with the craziest conspiracy theory.

    You are right Sou. When you are denying decades of rock solid science, based on observations and well known physics, delving into desperate and baseless conspiracy theories is all you have left.

  5. You've driven them to it, Sou!

    Aside from the increased insanity at WUWT I've noticed a decline in activity recently at some of the normally saner spots in the denial-o-sphere, Lucia's blackboard for instance. Maybe it's the weight of the 97% consensus - once that is widely understood, denial seems more and more like crankism, when it isn't outright conspiracy mongering.

  6. Just like yesterday's record high is today's normal, yesterday's utterly crazy denier post is today's normal. I call it anthropogenic blog crazying (ABC).

  7. Who in their right mind would tweet to someone as weird as that?

    At a crossroad? That sounds significant. Are you thinking of changing the nature of your blog? I would not be surprised. As you say the deniers are just getting more and more ridiculous and perhaps they are just a waste of time and energy now.

    I used to think that they had to be countered to help people not get confused with their misinformation but perhaps that time is over.

    Your twitter exchange was classic. A refusal on his part to accept anything and a refusal to answer any questions and a refusal to face up to the logical outcomes of his ideas. It is just futile to engage.

  8. Yes, it's probably time to transition towards solutions. I love the snark but maybe the job is done & you can talk about future methods, communications, ideas. Like the very marvellous Transition Network or Zero Carbon Britain or David MacKay's Without Hot Air (terrible website but amazing plans) - check chapter 27 "Five energy plans for Britain".

    1. As you say, there are excellent sites for such debate already. I fervently hope Sou keeps up the evidence-based mockery; without such release valves I might well go totally postal.

      Which is not a promise that I won't anyway, of course.

  9. I think I have seen the same lull before before US elections. Its like all the pros are shutting down temporarily: nobody's going to bother paying them for their time if they are producing anyway. So, to improve their negotiating position, they threaten to go silent unless some money is directed their way.

    That means that the amateurs don't have any intelligent stuff to pick up on and parrot, so they have to go with whatever garbage they can imagine up for themselves.

    So if the silence continues into Hilary vs then I will accept something has changed.

    1. So the elite among the disinformers have taken a summer break, pending mid-term elections in the USA and possibly figuring out a strategy for COP 21/ CMP 11 in Paris next year.

      That's plausible.

      Meantime, the footsoldiers aren't doing them any favours. Though they are probably doing the world a favour by marginalising themselves to the extent they are.

    2. I think the professionals have been re-directed at renewables and AGW denial has been left to its own devices. This is something I've been detecting since the Heartland poster fiasco; after that Heartland started up a specific anti-renewables unit to which the career-minded shifted, leaving the blissed-out true believers to run what's left of the stall. That's my take, anyway. :)

  10. I've also noticed the recent dash to insanity among the usual suspects, and while I would never claim to have predicted it would happen right now, I have been saying for some time that such a turn was inevitable.

    The hard core deniers start from a very deeply held ideological position: A significant increase in government intervention in our lives is a Very Bad Thing, regardless of the details what was being done, why it was being done, and what would happen if it weren't done.

    As circumstances evolve and science advances, the news on the climate front grows much grimmer. This leaves the ideologues all the more desperate to "disprove" reality, so they have no choice but to double down on their claims, which drives them to ever greater absurdities.

    I've often said that there will still be some deniers when many coastal cities around the world are flooded and their are palm trees in Greenland. I meant it as sarcasm, but it increasingly feels like an accurate prediction.

    1. I can picture them in their Mom's basement, hunched over their terminals with the icecaps lapping round their ankles, angrily posting that there can't be global warming because their feet are cold.

  11. I used to occasionally comment on WUWT - and there were actually some times where I had the impression that a few people took what I posted seriously, and possibly looked at the data. But I got tired of the nonsense, the immediate ad hominems, abusive moderation by sock puppets, and the general ranting.

    As an exercise I went through a series of their most recent posts at the time, classifying them as ad hominems (anything re: Mann, Trenberth, or Gore), pure conspiracy (Tim Ball and Agenda 21, for example), dog-whistling for insults of real science (Anthony posting anything as "claim" is a good indication), and the rare interesting post generally about the weather or something completely unrelated to climate.

    I found less than 1 in 20 that I considered worth reading, and hence have come to an informal conclusion that the null hypothesis of WUWT "content" has been rejected with statistical significance.

    Somehow, it's not a surprising result.

    1. Oh, yes, I had two other categories that appear on WUWT with amazing frequency - cherry-picked data contradicted by any evaluation of the whole of the information, and utterly bass ackwards misinterpretations of science. Needless to say those were not judged as having actual "content"...

  12. Don't forget Watts' guest post for Danle Wolfe denying the correlation between global temperature and carbon dioxide. I think the problem is that Watts and crew must get ever nuttier and shriller to attract attention as public attitudes turn against them.

    1. In all seriousness, how do you conclude that public attitudes are turning against the skeptics? WUWT enjoys very large audience numbers, the polls I have seen worldwide show public interest in the global warming scare as waning, and the longer the pause lasts the harder it will be to keep the story alive. I think you just may be the one in denial.

      As for poor old anon above with coastal cities flooding and palm trees in Greenland, well... good luck with that one. Oh my aching sides...

      The funny thing is its the catastrophists with the weird mental processes, yet you just can't see it.

      The nuttiness Sou observes is actually the loss of public traction for these alarmist notions and the utter frustration of those of that mindset over this fact. In other words, it's not the denialosphere Sou, it's you.

    2. Thanks for your perspective, Billy Bob. It's good to hear whether denialists think that the crankery is crankery or not. I guess it depends on how far along the crankery scale a person is.

      Incidentally, I had a run-in with a science denier elsewhere. Not a luke warmer, or not as far as I know. A regular climate science denier. Anyway, he thought I was making up what Anthony wrote about Antarctica - his mistake with the latitude and his "waste heat from little pockets of humanity". Then he said I was exaggerating. (I don't think he read my article and he did have a serious case of confirmation bias when he read WUWT.) He couldn't accept that a denier could be so dumb.

      Anyway, that suggests there is a scale of crankery. Some deniers have slid further on the sliding scale than others.

    3. Billy Bob, the nuttiness is the result of having to renew the denier meme as older bits of denial are debunked or grow stale. You might notice that Monckton repeats himself ad nauseam. Other deniers repeat themselves, or twist their favourite theme slightly to make it look new. Being a denier must be boring. Certainly WUWT is dull and repetitious.

    4. Again, this time in even more seriousness, there must be some sort of interesting psychology at work. See, what you describe Catmando is exactly what I observe in reverse. I've had some serious discussions with alarmists and it's a quick journey down the rabbit hole of nuttiness and not unlike trying to grapple with a will o' the wisp.

      So each side sits in judgement of the other based on personal preconceptions.

      Meanwhile, the world doesn't warm, the seas rise at the same old rate, the weather is just weather, and welll... I for one just think you've got a tough row to hoe when all you can do is point to the 'science' and the nutty deniers in the absence of something more substantial.

      That said, I have been sucked in and this blog is a regular read for me these days. Make of that what you will. So even though I sling off at you Sou, I reckon you should keep it up. I even like your commenters, they keep me amused!

    5. BillyBob - some people adjust their views based on new facts. Brad DeLong, an economist, calls this 'marking your beliefs to market' - based on the accounting dictum of mark-to-market. But it is the way science has always worked.

      Consider for a moment the famous Hockey Stick - MBH98. Not only does the most recent reconstruction corroborate MBH98, but it actually matches MBH better than most of the temperature reconstructions that have been done in the 16 years since it's release. Have any deniers marked their beliefs to market given this new information? How many of them even know what PAGES2K is? In the year since it's been released I think WUWT has mentioned PAGES2K in all of 6 posts.

      I routinely adjust my beliefs based on the latest evidence. Granted one has to weigh evidence - not every piece should carry the same weight, but it seems pseudoskeptics don't have a BS detector. In fact they give more weight to cranks, crackpots, and charlatans than they do to actual science.

      Of course this carries over into other policy areas. It's not just science denial. Consider economics. There's a high correlation between pseudoskeptics and libertarianism. Yet the economic crash of 2007-8, the subsequent huge increase in the US money supply (QE), and huge amounts of government spending (ARRA) led conservative and libertarian economic types to scream about looming inflation (HYPERINFLATION!!! WEIMAR!!), soaring interest rates, and a debased currency. Of course none of that happened. Do you think any of those people have gone back and marked their beliefs to market? Or are they just singing the same old song? Their economic model grossly failed. It couldn't get the basics of an economy right given the biggest shocks imaginable. It was a textbook lab experiment. But I've never seen a one of them say, "Hmmmm .... maybe I should rethink this...."

      C'est la vie.

    6. Thanks, Billy Bob. I'm glad my shark didn't put you off coming here.

      As for the psychology - I agree. You say the world hasn't warmed (despite having two of the hottest months on record this year). Another person would be wondering why the world hasn't cooled back to "normal" after the excessive and rapid warming, despite lesser sun and all the La Ninas. They'd also wonder why all the ice sheets are melting, why the arctic sea ice is at record lows and the antarctic sea ice is at record highs. Some of those people, happily, are scientists, and, happily for us, they are figuring out the answers.

      Psychology definitely plays a big role in whether people accept the world as it is or not - or the extent to which they do so.

    7. Shark / snark - blame the tablet. It keeps autocorrecting and the typeface is tiny.

    8. Billy Bob, I began a few years back as quite seriously sceptical of what you call the alarmist claims. I sat through that Channel 4 documentary, the so called truth about global warming. I also watched David Attenborough's own, more honest, version. I have read some of David Rose's pieces in the Mail On Sunday. I decided to look more deeply because, in spite of what I was bei told by my more sceptical still friends, climate change wasn't going away.

      What I found was solid scientific evidence to support those you call alarmist and contradict the denial side. It would be silly to reject what is now a very large pile of evidence. My own training is in biology. I don't need to be a climate scientist to see the encroaching warming on the biology of my own part of the world. I can see it for myself.

      I was driven by evidence. Watts and his fellows are not driven by that. As a result, the endless loop of denialist arguments are tedious. SkepticalScience has catalogued them. Take a look. It's a bit like a list of magic tricks - the magician thinks he's being so clever pulling them off but the audience knows how they are done. The denial game has been long since rumbled, which is why I find reading denialist blogs both boring and frustrating. We know Monckton will turn up with his warming hasn't happened for X years even when 2014 threatens to be the warmest year on record, even without El NiƱo. Sad, really. There are some clever people there who could achieve something worthwhile but seem intent on leaving a pile of crap for our grandchildren to clear up.

    9. Billy Bob, There are palm trees in Cardigan Bay in Wales.(seen them myself).. so getting palm trees on the coast of Greenland over the next 100 years doesn't seem a stretch.

      But my point to you about WUWT is that birds of a feather flock. WUWT offers a chance to rant and sound off. It blocks out voices like Sou's and mine on purpose. It's a safe haven for the intellectually feeble. So your argument ad populum is as bogus as just about everything posted at WUWT.

  13. "....It does seem as if deniers have gone from being silly little people who are wilfully ignorant about climate to people who shouldn't be allowed out on the streets unless accompanied by a professional carer....."

    Is this something you have only just worked out?

  14. My opinion, which isn't worth the paper it's not written on, is that AW is ignoring the voices in his head: "Anthony, you know this wrong. Stop now!" "You've crossed the line, Anthony."
    But as a mark of good faith, here's some advice for the Big A.
    Stop spending time with the wrong people i.e. toss the tossers and give Worrall, Ball, Tisdale, Monckton, et al the flick.
    Stop holding onto the past i.e. generally bash any references to the Medieval and Roman Warm Periods and "it's happened before".
    Stop being scared to make a mistake. Oops! You've overachieved in this area so you can cut back on this.
    By this stage, I think you should be able to see where this is heading, and so I'll take some of my own advice and stop.

  15. A couple of AGW denial's greatest tricks have been neutralised, and they're not coming up with any new ones.

    Demanding data and code was a great idea, but everybody's expecting that now. The SkS 97% consensus project was an excellent example, leaving sad-acts like Tol lamely asking for timestamps because people "might have become tired".

    Hacking climate scientists has fallen awfully flat (the third release of SlimeItGate sank like a brick) because there really isn't a grand conspiracy to be revealed. Forewarned is fore-armed and security is being imroved so there's no great hope in that. What does surprise me is that there hasn't been more hacking in the opposite direction, but then again maybe there has and the time isn't quite right for it yet ...

    BEST was a terrible idea (from their point of view). McIntyre must have greeted news of that with a face-palm. Data is for demanding, not for using. And as for doing it transparently with an honest statistician on board, words fail me. The only person it worked for was Muller; it did less than nothing for the cause.

    1. Yeah, the BEST episode on its own would have been enough to turn any rational person away from Watts and Co.

  16. Deniers getting nuttier? Nuttier than ScottishSceptic? http://scottishsceptic.co.uk/2014/09/12/original-sin-how-it-caused-global-warming/


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