Friday, May 22, 2015

Denier 101: Quote-Mining. Can you imagine George W Bush as a climate scientist?

Sou | 8:14 PM Go to the first of 6 comments. Add a comment
How's this for the latest attempt by the denialati? Eric "eugenics" Worrall has picked up on President Obama's mockery of the anti-science among deniers, probably particularly deniers in the Republican Party (archived here). President Obama has been known to say words to the effect that saying you aren't a scientist doesn't give you the right to reject science. Eric quoted the President, or should I say he picked out the words in bold italics below from an article at the Guardian and twisted them to suit his denialist bent:
“Politicians who say they care about military readiness ought to care about this as well,” Obama said of the climate deniers.

Several times Obama lambasted those who refused to endorse the science of climate change.

“They’ll say, ‘You know, I’m not a scientist,’” Obama said. “Well, I’m not either. But the best scientists in the world know that climate change is happening.”

He added: “Our analysts in the intelligence community know climate change is happening. Our military leaders – generals and admirals, active duty and retired – know it’s happening. Our homeland security professionals know it is happening. And our coast guard knows it’s happening.”
It's a classic case of quote-mining, though a particularly poor one. Eric's article was under the headline: Why delegating comprehension of climate science is a bad idea

Eric, while critical thinking isn't your strong suit, even you should have seen that the President was criticising science deniers for claiming to know better than the scientists while prefacing their remarks with "You know, I'm not a scientist". (If Eric is reading this, then here's my advice. If you don't want to appear stupid, then don't act like it.)

I don't know the extent to which Eric Worrall understands climate science. He is not a climate scientist but spends an inordinate amount of time at WUWT arguing against climate action. He certainly doesn't understand the role of the President of the United States. Deniers at WUWT are "not a climate scientist", but it doesn't stop them from writing their rejection of climate science. (Almost all the others at WUWT are not deniers, they are disinformers, the ones who do understand climate science and knowingly misrepresent it.)

Eric wrote:
Obviously its difficult to directly measure whether this disengaged approach is a bad strategy for managing climate research.
"Disengaged approach"? The President isn't disengaged. If you'd read the article you'd not have failed to see that the President is not just getting advice from climate research scientists but from his analysts in the intelligence community, and from homeland professionals, and the from the coast guard. All of them know that climate change is happening. The Guardian article even stated:
The Pentagon is assessing the vulnerability to climate change of its 7,000 bases, installations and facilities, many of which are on the coast, the White House has said.
Obama is set to highlight damage to the navy and air bases at Norfolk, Virginia, from increasing floods, to Alaskan facilities built on thawing permafrost, and to military training areas in western states from wildfires.
Is Eric also arguing that the President shouldn't take advice from the Pentagon? After all, he's not really in the armed forces, even though he is Commander-in-Chief.

Eric goes on to give examples of computer projects that failed because senior management didn't listen to the experts. And he was trying to argue that because President Obama is listening to the experts - he's bound to fail - or something.

It was such a topsy turvy argument that I doubt that Eric knew what he was trying to argue. Was he trying to argue that the President should become a research scientist and work for GISS at NASA? (I'm trying - and failing - to imagine Ronald Reagan or George W Bush working for Gavin Schmidt. They'd be lost.) Or was he arguing that everyone who is not a climate scientist should not talk about or act upon the information provided by climate scientists? That WUWT should be shut down?

Who knows. Deniers are very, very weird.

From the WUWT comments

Most of the deniers at WUWT suffered a similar failure of logic and comprehension. The few words that Eric quoted should have been easy enough to understand, even if WUWT-ers didn't follow his link and read the article at the Guardian. (Deniers often don't seem to read the WUWT articles that they litter with their "thoughts", let alone follow links.)

asybot might be trying to be funny, or smart, or might really be as naive as she or he makes out:
May 21, 2015 at 10:32 pm
@ Eric, but he reads the paper the next day to find the answers, Right?

Paul Mackey uses another Denier 101 technique, the straw man
May 22, 2015 at 12:30 am
According to Mr Obama, Climate Change is the most important issue facing the world. AS a world leader, is he not derelict in his duty if he does not try to understand the issue? 
Yes, Paul. And the President does get the best advice available. He was criticising politicians and others who not only don't try to understand the issue, they reject climate science altogether. That's why they are called deniers.

wickedwenchfan is one of the hard-core deniers at WUWT who seems to believe that climate science shows something different to what it shows. You could call it wishful thinking. Others would call it a severe case of delusion.
May 21, 2015 at 10:57 pm
Steve Jobs is a wonderful example of how a leader should understand what his subbordinates are doing. Obama has been an embarrassment, not only because of his detachment from understanding but because of his complete endorsement and promotion of something he hasn’t taken the time to fact check.

AndyE argues the opposite. He thinks that governments should not take advice from specialists. Especially not scientific specialists. They should only take advice from "panels of lay people"!
May 21, 2015 at 11:13 pm
A golden rule for governments should be never to take advice from individual specialists in anyone field; and from specialist scientists in particular.
Individuals are always biased one way or the other – scientists even more so as each one is always firmly wedded to his/her pet theory. Governments should seek advice only from panels of lay people, selected from people with obviously above average IQ and with a proven ability for analytical thinking. In “British” countries these sort of advice-giving panels are called royal commissions. They are called “think-tanks” elsewhere.
That is what Obama is not doing. Time will prove him wrong (that is my theory, at least!!).
AndyE doesn't know what a Royal Commission is. He thinks it's the same as a "think tank". And he doesn't know what a "think tank" is either. If a Royal Commission is investigating something that requires technical knowledge, then it commands the presence of technical experts. A think tank that doesn't take account of expert advice won't be any more useful than the "thoughts" you'll read at WUWT.

Herbert Turnover wonders how the President can tell which advice to heed and which not.
May 21, 2015 at 11:15 pm
So what criteria does Obama use to select best scientists from not best scientists? Can he do it on his own or does he always have to have others tell him? Does he have a single opinion that belongs just to him? Will the real Obama stand up!
I feel for Herbert. At WUWT one day he's told by the WUWT "experts" that the world is heading for an ice age tomorrow. Next minute he's told that the greenhouse effect is real, but only a little bit. Then he's told that global warming isn't happening, or if it is it's stopped for no reason. And whatever the science says, it must be wrong because it's only a "claim". Is it any wonder that he finds the tiny deniosphere he calls "home" a bit confusing? (Thankfully, Obama doesn't live in the deniosphere. He lives in the real world - on Planet Earth.)

Brute has chosen a very appropriate screen name. He doesn't understand that the President has a lot of knowledge about science, and climate science in particular. And that he's suggesting deniers in government either learn about the subject or pay heed to what the experts say.
May 21, 2015 at 11:33 pm
Obama is doing his part the best way possible… which is an embarrassment, true, but there are only two ways of doing it. If you are into (C)AGW, either you claim total ignorance or you refuse to engage. He’s opted for the first.

cnxtim is right. The President would have access to deniers (he's got deniers galore just down the road from the White House in the Republican Halls of Shame). He knows at least some of what the 1% contrarians are saying - though they all say something different. He just chooses to put a whole lot more weight on what 97% of scientific papers on the subject have found, like any sensible person would do.
May 21, 2015 at 11:40 pm
Given the little “o” has access to virtually unlimited funds, he should have at least one naysayer on his team – and take their opinions into account as well as the ‘noddy dog’ sycophants. Without intelligent, counter opinions he would be proven to be one lousy manager…

Manos is the first (and possibly only) person who understood what the President was saying. He couched it in these terms:
May 21, 2015 at 11:58 pm (excerpt)
In his latest global warming speech, Obama wasn’t trying to convince anyone. Instead, he was sending signals to his supporters on what “all right thinking people” should be saying. This is classic in-group/out-group communication. Obama was setting up the lingo and talking points for his in-group to use to determine who can be considered part of the tribe and who should be mocked for being outside of it.

Those outside the science are too easy to mock. No effort involved. Manos continues with a conspiracy theory, that scientists are sheep who are inept at science, and will change the evidence if enough deniers persuade them to do so. Utter nuttery wrapped up in whole sentences so as to appear "reasonable".

richard verney thinks that reducing CO2 emissions won't reduce atmospheric CO2. He's right on medium time scales. What it will do is slow the increase in atmospheric CO2 and therefore slow down global warming. (I wonder if Richard uses the same logic with his bank manager when his credit card goes way over the limit and he keeps getting further and further into debt? I can imagine him arguing that reducing credit card spending won't lower his current credit card debt. I can also imagine the bank manager's response.)
May 22, 2015 at 12:47 am (excerpt)
You don’t have to be a scientist to know that the policy response is misconceived, since even a schhol child would quickly appreciate that the policy response does not result in the reduction of CO2 (leaving aside the scientific issue as to whether rising levels of CO2 cause significant and dangerous warming).

That's enough for me. You can read more silliness in the archive if you've a hankering for more.

Further reading

There are lots of HotWhopper articles describing the ridiculous from Eric Worrall. Here's a small sample - you can use the search bar up top to find more.


  1. Sou, I'm not actually seeing any text picked out in bold italics.

    1. Thanks, Bill. Fixed now. Sorry about that.

  2. Worrall is just woeful. This is threadbare nonsense. Perfectly WUWT.

    Worrall has unilaterally appointed Obama as a 'manager' of climate research, and is terribly worried he is not sufficiently engaged, the 'evidence' being his a mined sentence.

    Worrall is concerned:

    "A low level of engagement – even enthusiastic support, without an effort to comprehend – in my opinion is fatal to the success of a project, for the reasons I have given.
    How can the President possibly devote enough time to climate research, to understand the issues well enough to provide engaged management oversight?"

    It's a worry.

  3. Eric most probably thinks he is quite sane compared to this sort of documentary.


    Have a look at the other 'documentaries' on the RHS.

    There are fringe religious nutters who claim that the LHC is a portal to hell and the Pope has something to do with it. There are all sorts of conspiracy theories that are clearly the product of very ignorant delusional minds.

    I think I came away with my sanity after having a look at what these people think they believe. I do not despise them. I feel pity for them that there is so much ignorance around exploited by fundamentalist religious nutters who I am sure know far better.

    Just like at wuwt the comments under these delusional doco's are a window into minds I cannot begin to understand. Reading chicken entrails come to mind as a way of predicting the future.
    I must not despair at my fellow humans situation. Bert

  4. The LHC is the largest most complicated machine ever built by humans. It took many nations and thousands of our top scientists and engineers and ten billion dollars to get it to work. Its scientific aim was to collect evidence for the understanding of the very structure of our Universe.

    These ignorant people are being told by fundamentalist religious nutters that it is some sort of worldwide cosmic plot of biblical proportions.

    At least Global Warming is only a worldwide local plot. Bert

  5. "Can you imagine George W Bush as a climate scientist?"

    I can easily imagine him as a 'citizen scientist' posting stuff at WUWT. In fact:

    Watts = Bush (not as in charge he he wants to be)
    Delingpole = Rumsfeld (dodgy dossier compilation)
    McIntyre = Cheney (the evil mastermind)
    Auntie Judith = Condaleeza (whatever the others are saying)
    Monckton = Alberto Gonzales (legal expert and amnesiac)


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