The secretive Royal Society

I wrote. a couple of days ago, about Nigel Lawson’s meeting with the Royal Society. The meeting was apparently held under Chatham House Rules. This means that those involved can use the information presented at the meeting but cannot disclose who participated or their affiliation.

The secretive nature of the meeting has lead the usual suspects to claim that this means that the Royal Society are trying to hide something. Well, given that the participants are allowed to use the information presented, that seems a little unlikely (plus there’s nothing secret about mainstream climate science). I obviously have no idea why they chose to hold the meeting under Chatham House Rules, but it’s not that unusual and maybe they just wanted to be able to have an open and frank discussion without it turning into a media circus and without those involved having to deal with media enquiries for the next few days. Why do some always assume some kind of conspiracy? (and, yes, that question is somewhat rhetorical)

Given that the GWPF agreed to the terms of the meeting, you might expect them to at least try to discourage all this conspiracy ideation. You might expect it, but you’d be wrong (actually, no, you probably wouldn’t expect it). The latest opinion piece on the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s site is from Christopher Booker and is titled The secret society of warmists. Booker says

Nurse’s team, led by Sir Brian Hoskins of the Grantham Institute, who also sits on the climate change committee advising the Government on policy, trotted out all the familiar arguments for the orthodoxy, including several “hockey stick” graphs to show global temperatures now soaring to levels unknown for thousands of years.

Well, what did Christopher expect them to show? It is now largely accepted that global temperatures today are likely higher than they’ve been for thousands of years. Disputing this just adds credence to Paul Nurse’s suggestion that the GWPF is not getting appropriate scientific advice.

Christopher also says

“the oceans are acidifying” and that there has been a dramatic increase in “extreme weather events” (neither claim is true).

Neither are true? Well as far as I’m aware the oceans are indeed becoming more acidic (or less alkaline) as more and more CO2 is dissolving. I believe there is also evidence for an increase in some extreme weather events, heatwaves in particular. Again, it seems clear that the GWPF is really not getting suitable scientific advice from it’s advisory board.

Christopher finished with

As one present put it, “it was like talking to members of a cult”. What particularly struck the GWPF team was their opposite numbers’ refusal to discuss the policy implications of their beliefs

So, the GWPF has a meeting with one of the leading scientific societies in the world and then publishes an article on its site implying that it’s a cult. Not only is this absurd, it’s also infantile behaviour. Is there any chance that the Royal Society will ever suggest another meeting with the GWPF? I don’t actually know the answer to this, but they’d be mad if they did so or agreed to one.

What about the refusal to discuss the policy implications? Well the whole motivation behind the meeting was that the GWPF are not getting suitable scientific advice. The idea was to give them an opportunity to discuss climate science with actual experts. How is policy relevant and why should the policy implications in any way influence the science? Of course the policy should be based on the best possible scientific evidence (hence the motivation for the meeting in the first place) but the science shouldn’t be influenced by policy implications. That this was seen as a surprise by the GWPF seems to indicate, as I suspected, that they distrust the science because of the policy implications, not because they have any real evidence to suggest that there is anything wrong with the science.

It also seems to be a standard practice in such discussions. As soon as the scientific questions get tricky, start discussing policy implications as if to suggest that the implications are so severe that the science can’t possibly be right. If the Royal Society did indeed stick to the science and avoided the policy, I think they were wise to do so and it’s certainly what I’d prefer.

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270 Responses to The secretive Royal Society

  1. Rachel says:

    I am speechless.

  2. Andy Skuce says:

    Wott you don’t understand is that many, er, contrarians really do believe that the alarmists are members of a cult driven by political ideology. The alarmists’ refusal to discuss policy is therefore revealing of their deep denial and their failure to confront the true source of their irrational belief in anthropogenic global warming. It is all terribly confusing.

  3. Fragmeister says:

    Christopher Booker has long since parted company with science. See http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Christopher_Booker

    Unfortunately, he has a pulpit at the Sunday Telegraph and a not very sceptical readership who lap it up. Not surprisingly, Booker and James Delingpole form a mutual appreciation society. If either told me the sky was blue, I would still need to check in case they were misinforming me. Booker has his agenda and, as you have described it, the truth isn’t part of it.

  4. William says:

    “the oceans are acidifying” and that there has been a dramatic increase in “extreme weather events” (neither claim is true).

    About right, oceans might be becoming slightly less base and as for weather events, worse in the past.

  5. Marco says:

    Can anyone tell me what policies the Royal Society proposes?

  6. Brigitte says:

    There is a certain paradox in using religious metaphors, like ‘cult’, to criticise climate science and climate scientists. Those who use such metaphors seem to project what Karl Popper called “the wrong view of science” onto climate scientists by implying that they “crave to be right” (Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, 1959). What (most) climate scientists consider to be the truth, insofar as science can ever approximate truth, their critics portray as Truth without empirical foundations, that is, as religious Truth which is easily equated with ‘falsehood’ or fraud. This means that while such critics may well believe that ‘truth is out there’ which can be used to refute claims about (anthropogenic, catastrophic) climate change, truth claims made by climate scientists to support such claims are deemed to be of a religious nature and can therefore never be empirically validated. Using religious metaphors in climate change (communication) therefore shuts down debate, which is a shame.

  7. You mean a secretly funded PR agency didn’t manage to convince the country’s leading scientific body that the scientists are wrong and a mediocre ex-Chancellor and his fellow cranks are right?

  8. Rob Painting says:

    Slightly less base? You are poorly informed. Acidification has increased by some 27% since preindustrial times. Of all the consequences of fossil fuel burning ocean acidification has the potential to be the most devastating of all, and we are already seeing it progress much faster than previously anticipated.

  9. johnrussell40 says:

    I believe that the Royal Society knew exactly what they were doing when they insisted this meeting should be in camera. The GWPF, being the ones who are cult-like in their denial of the science—but due to cognitive dissonance accuse their opponents of the same—will try to make hay of any meeting like this. I’m sure for the scientists present it will have been an education to experience the stone wall their evidence came up against. But being the polished and forceful speaker he is, I bet Lawson certainly presented his denial memes with panache and would have sounded very convincing to a lay onlooker: especially one seeking confirmation for sceptical bias.

    You put it perfectly, Wotts, when you ask, “why should the policy implications in any way influence the science?” That’s where Lawson and co have the real difficulties.

  10. William, so you agree that Booker was wrong to state that the claim was not true. As Rob has pointed out the rate of acidification is significant, faster – as far as I’m aware – than it’s been for the last 300 million years. Maybe you could clarify what you mean by “worse in the past”. Noone’s suggesting that we will see extreme events that we’ve never seen before. The suggestion is that the frequency of extreme events (in the case of heatwaves and precipitation at least) will increase.

    Thanks, Brigitte. I agree that this type of rhetoric does not help in such debates and – given this – I can’t imagine the the Royal Society would be willing to meet with the GWPF again.

  11. William says:

    Wotts, get that right , the seas might be becoming less base. Acidic is below a ph of 7.

    Acidic is an alamist term first used in 2003 I beleive.

  12. William, what did I get wrong? I didn’t say it was an acid. I said “acidification” and that the rate is faster than it’s been in 300 million years. Maybe try to answer my question, rather than playing the pedant (and getting it wrong).

  13. William says:

    Worse in the last , Depends what we use to determine this. Structural loss, mortality rates, if mortality then that has decreased.

    Structural , difficult to determine as more people now live in the eye of the storm than in the past.

  14. William, that really doesn’t answer my question. You stated that it was worse in the past. Is this true? If so, can you provide some evidence?

  15. William says:

    Not acidification, the term is becoming less base.

    And the seas will never become acidic. Even if they did the seas off the coast of the us are allowed to be acidic based on EPA rules.

  16. Rachel says:

    William,
    Haven’t we done this before? Or was that someone else?
    No-one is calling the ocean acidic. The process of lowering the ocean ph is called acidification. This is the correct terminology.
    Extreme weather events are also on the rise. There are more heat waves than there used to be and the number of weather catastrophes is also increasing.

  17. William says:

    Let’s start with mortality,

    This has decreased by 95 per cent since the 1920s.

  18. William, the term acidification is used in the scientific literature. That’s good enough for me. The Arctic can become warmer and still be below freezing. It’s not a complicated concept.

  19. William says:

    We have Rachel.

  20. William says:

    Acidification, I am sure you like it, it is an alamist term, the correct term is becoming less base until below. Ph of 7.

    Any way is not going to happen , ever.

  21. William, let’s not do a Pielke Jr. Extreme events are defined by some measurable physical quantity such as temperature, energy, speed, inches of rain per day. It’s not defined by mortality, or cost. Those are secondary measures. It is indeed fantastic that extreme events cause fewer deaths/damage than they once did. You, however, claimed that they were worse in the past. If you meant “worse” as in more damage/death then maybe true. However, the Royal Society was not referring to extreme events in this sense. Hence, do you accept that the frequency of some extreme events has indeed increased?

  22. William, acidification is not an alarmist term. It is a scientific term. Actually, maybe you do equate scientific with alarmist. The rest of us do not.

  23. Rachel says:

    William,
    Here’s a definition of ocean acidification for you. It is the scientific term. It is not an alarmist term.

  24. William says:

    Oh Rachel, the correct term is less base, acidic is used to frighten, ok to help you tell me when the seas actually become acidic. Properly acidic, and tell me where they remain alkLine the ph values of each, this is not heard to determine, then give m the EPA rules on ph values off the coast of the us up to five miles put.

    To help you it is between a ph of 6 and 8.5 , the seas are at about 8.2 which is nearer the danger level of 8.6

  25. Bwana_mkubwa says:

    If this innuendo rubbish is the best Lawson and his followers can come up with then The Royal Society obviously wiped the floor with them. Knowing Paul Nurse and having experienced how The RS is run I am not shocked.

  26. William, to be honest I tire of all these claims that various terms are used to scare. It’s complete nonsense. Could I ask that if you do make such claims that you actually provide absolutely convincing evidence or make it clear that it’s your opinion. Acidification is a scientific term and until you write a peer-reviewed paper that redefines the terminology, it remains a scientific term and your claim that it is used to scare remains your opinion.

  27. Rachel says:

    I’m not trying to frighten anyone. But I am getting bored with this and I can see that nothing I say will convince you otherwise so how about we drop it here and return to the topic as this is a fruitless conversation. You can call ocean acidification whatever you like. I prefer to use the correct terminology, thanks.

  28. William says:

    Hey Rachel , loved the Munich re report,

    Scientists Denounce Dubious Climate Study By Insurer Munich Re …
    http://www.spiegel.de › English Site › World › Climate Change
    23 Oct 2012 – Now German re-insurer Munich Re claims to have found proof that man-made … Photo Gallery: Storm of Criticism for Extreme Weather Study Photos … But scientists have criticized the re-insurer for rushing to reach its conclusions. … According to an IPCC report, there may be fewer cold weather disasters …

  29. William says:

    Rachel, not as bored as I was on the Munich re report.

  30. Ian Forrester says:

    William is completely wrong in his assertion that weather related disasters have been reducing over time. Here is a graph showing how they have increased since 1980:

    http://www.preventionweb.net/files/20120613_ClimateDisaster1980-2011.pdf

    Munich Re is a good source for finding out this kind of information.

  31. william says:

    IAN , MUNICH RE !!! see above,

    climate disasters from 1980, suggest you go back further
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1931_China_floods

  32. william says:

    from NOAA work shop, we have been through this before but if you like the word acidic then so be it.

    “Tripling the pre-industrial atmospheric CO2
    concentration will cause a reduction in surface ocean
    pH that is almost three times greater than that experienced during transitions from glacial to interglacial
    periods. This is often termed “ocean acidification” because it describes the process of decreasing pH. Current projections of ocean acidification suggest that
    the pH of surface ocean waters will continue to decline. However, the term can also lead to confusion
    when it is wrongly assumed that the oceans will become acidic, when in reality, ocean pH is never expected to fall below 7.0; i.e., the oceans are becoming
    less basic, but not acidic. Such a phenomenon could
    only occur in the unlikely event that CO2 emissions
    reach more than 10,000 Pg C (Caldeira and Wickett,
    2005).

  33. William, showing that there was an extreme event in the past does not imply that there is not a trend today. Also, I can’t find an English version of your Munich Re criticism. If it’s Pielke Jr or someone similar, they’re probably suggesting that they’re wrong because damages have not increased.

  34. Rachel says:

    William,
    Your link in response to MunichRE just goes to a German media site. I think if anyone ought to know whether there are more weather-related disasters than there used to be then the insurance industry should.

    If we are boring you, then I suggest you find something else to read. ;-)

  35. Bwana_mkubwa says:

    William,
    Just as explorers at the South Pole heading towards the equator are said to be trekking Northwards, even though they are in the Southern hemisphere, chemists refer to any reduction in pH as acidification.

  36. William, but there is no confusion here. No one is claiming that the oceans are becoming acid. The only confusion being sown, in my opinion, is by yourself.

  37. william says:

    wotts, there is a trend of extreme events going back hundreds of years, as far as i can see hurricanes in the US of CAT 3, 4, 5, have been declining , Let me know the last 100 year drought, I can point out a few in the last 1000 years.

  38. NOAA itself uses the term as a domain qualifier, http://oceanacidification.noaa.gov/.

    The NOAA Ocean Acidification Program was officially established in May 2011. .

  39. william says:

    No one is claiming that the oceans are becoming acid.

    hmm , from John above,

    “Ocean acidification is alarming. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_acidification

    now to me that does not say alkaline at all.

  40. johnrussell40 says:

    You’re talking out of your arse, William.

    The term “ocean acidification” is used in numerous papers as far back as the 1970s. Search the phrase online and ye shall find. I have not been able to find the term ‘less base’ used in any scientific papers in relation to the pH of oceans. I guess you’re just trying to start your own denial meme.

  41. William, provide some actual evidence. A link that actually works would be useful. Plus a few events does not make a trend.

  42. William – thank you for conceding acidification is the correct phrase after all.

  43. william says:

    hmm wotts, look like NOAA is. the internet stores everything , the seas will never ever become acidic.

    “NOAA itself uses the term as a domain qualifier, http://oceanacidification.noaa.gov/.”

  44. william says:

    ,oh dear JOhn in the words of NOAA you are confused.

    “Tripling the pre-industrial atmospheric CO2
    concentration will cause a reduction in surface ocean
    pH that is almost three times greater than that experienced during transitions from glacial to interglacial
    periods. This is often termed “ocean acidification” because it describes the process of decreasing pH. Current projections of ocean acidification suggest that
    the pH of surface ocean waters will continue to decline. However, the term can also lead to confusion
    when it is wrongly assumed that the oceans will become acidic, when in reality, ocean pH is never expected to fall below 7.0; i.e.

  45. William, if you start setting up strawmen I’m going to put you in moderation. Noone is claiming that the oceans will become acid. Acidification is a very simple term meaning that the pH is decreasing. Accept it or not. I don’t care. Stop talking about it though. We’re getting nowhere with this and you’re starting to bomb this thread with irrelevancies.

  46. BBD says:

    Another thread-trash by William and his grab-bag of misinformation and misrepresentation. Tedious beyond belief.

  47. BBD says:

    Bloody hell Wotts! We crossed *again*. This is pushing the boundaries of probability. ;-)

  48. Rachel says:

    I was wondering when you were going to show up, BBD. I hope you’ve come prepared with gin and tonic this time. :-)

  49. BBD, but still more likely than 10 of the hottest years on record occurring since 1998 by chance. That, apparently, is 1 in 21.6 billion.

  50. BBD says:

    :-)

    Remember, Plymouth gin. It’s the best.

  51. Rachel says:

    John, of course, however you like it. Everyone’s invited but only on the proviso that they accept the standard definition for ocean acidification.

  52. Ian Forrester says:

    Here is the English version of William’s link. it appears to have been written by someone called Axel Bojanowski who appears to be a German version of Plimer or Carter. He is a geologist with no climate science background.

    William are you disputing the Munich Re data? If so you have to be able to back it up with hard data from a reliable source. Can you do that?

  53. BBD says:

    John, that’s a lot of pretentious Noughties marketing spun up by the Indie ;-) which is probably on the take for product placement. Trust your own palette. And I have a lifetime’s research behind me!

  54. william says:

    Ian did Rachel see that report from Spiegel,

    “The truth is that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has in fact been warning of an increase in heat waves, torrential rains and floods. But in most cases, it has not been proven that climate change has made the weather any more extreme. In some instances there are facts to suggest this, but in most these conclusions are driven by perceptions. It is not a foregone conclusion that things will necessarily get worse. According to an IPCC report, there may be fewer cold weather disasters and storms in the future in some places.”

  55. william says:

    perhaps i can see the Muncich re data to check their facts, do we have this,

  56. william says:

    LOL,

    on Munoch RE,

    Clifford Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, added: “Most of it makes no sense and is contradictory to observed trends.”

  57. BBD says:

    From Hönisch et al. (2012) The geological record of ocean acidification:

    Ocean acidification may have severe consequences for marine ecosystems; however, assessing its future impact is difficult because laboratory experiments and field observations are limited by their reduced ecologic complexity and sample period, respectively. In contrast, the geological record contains long-term evidence for a variety of global environmental perturbations, including ocean acidification plus their associated biotic responses. We review events exhibiting evidence for elevated atmospheric CO2, global warming, and ocean acidification over the past ~300 million years of Earth’s history, some with contemporaneous extinction or evolutionary turnover among marine calcifiers. Although similarities exist, no past event perfectly parallels future projections in terms of disrupting the balance of ocean carbonate chemistry—a consequence of the unprecedented rapidity of CO2 release currently taking place.

  58. william says:

    Guys, it is an insurance company , they make money from gullibles like you, pay up or you will be hit by extreme weather.

  59. william says:

    BBD,

    Ocean acidification may……

    MAY MAY MAY , please, enough of this,

  60. BBD says:

    From Hansen et al. (2012) Public perception of climate change and the new climate dice:

    “Climate dice,” describing the chance of unusually warm or cool seasons, have become more and more “loaded” in the past 30 y, coincident with rapid global warming. The distribution of seasonal mean temperature anomalies has shifted toward higher temperatures and the range of anomalies has increased. An important change is the emergence of a category of summertime extremely hot outliers, more than three standard deviations (3σ) warmer than the climatology of the 1951–1980 base period. This hot extreme, which covered much less than 1% of Earth’s surface during the base period, now typically covers about 10% of the land area. It follows that we can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small. We discuss practical implications of this substantial, growing, climate change.

  61. Rachel says:

    Yes, I saw the article in Spiegel but I also noticed that the scientist behind the claims of “a lack of evidence” is Roger Pielke Jr. I hope you’ll understand if I’m a little bit dismissive of it for this reason.

  62. BBD says:

    “William”

    You actually think abrupt and substantial alteration of global ocean pH alongside abrupt and substantial ocean warming will have no deleterious effects on marine biota adapted to Holocene norms? Are you really that silly?

  63. william says:

    anyone worried about the possibility of acidic seas please go to EPA rules of the seas 5 miles pf the coast of the US.

    PH 6- 8.5 is allowed.

    There again the seas will never become acidic.

  64. BBD says:

    The point, “William”, is that episodes of ocean acidification in the past are associated with marine extinctions. Try reading the reference instead of indulging in reflexive denial.

  65. william says:

    rachel , yo0u missed this guy,

    Makes no sense,, yea well summed up, it is an insurance company!!!
    “Clifford Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, added: “Most of it makes no sense and is contradictory to observed trends.”

  66. BBD says:

    Still strawmanning to avoid the actual point I see. Nothing like a spot of intellectual dishonesty when the facts don’t fit.

  67. william says:

    bbd,

    You actually think abrupt and substantial alteration of global ocean pH alongside abrupt and substantial ocean warming will have no deleterious effects on marine biota adapted to Holocene norms? Are you really that silly?

    EPA RULES, I am fine with their rules you are obviously not!

  68. BBD says:

    There again the seas will never become acidic.

    Still strawmanning to avoid the actual point I see. Nothing like a spot of intellectual dishonesty when the facts don’t fit.

  69. BBD says:

    Read the words, “William”:

    abrupt and substantial alteration of global ocean pH alongside abrupt and substantial ocean warming

    Now read the reference above. Get some perspective.

  70. william says:

    Nothing like a spot of intellectual dishonesty when the facts don’t fit.

    EPA rules for marine life , 5 miles out,

    6.5- 8.5.

    now let me know where all the testing of the seas takes place and at what time, after heavy rains- or not, PH values change from dusk till dawn and from what year so we can compare over say the last century.

  71. william says:

    bbd,

    The point, “William”, is that episodes of ocean acidification in the past are associated with marine extinctions. Try reading the reference instead of indulging in reflexive denial.

    what was the ph during these extinctions,

  72. william says:

    after all i have told you , the seas will never become acidic.

  73. BBD says:

    Link to exact source please.

  74. Bwana_mkubwa says:

    At this point i think it is best to state DNFTT

  75. BBD says:

    I’m just marvelling at “William’s” inability to understand that a wide range of transient local variability doesn’t mean that substantially shifting whole-basin pH will have no effects on marine biota. That is mind-bogglingly perverse.

  76. Marco says:

    William, as a scientist with a very, very firm understanding of pH, I can tell you with absolute certainty that “acidification” is the correct term. If the pH drops, the concentration of hydronium increases. That is, you increase the amount of acid and decrease the amount of base. This term is not misunderstood by anyone with a basic understanding of chemistry.

    The idea that the pH gets acidic only when the pH is below 7 is one that shows the person making this claim does not really understand basic chemistry. 7 is the pH where hydronium and hydroxyl concentrations are equal at 25 degrees in low ionic strength solutions and at atmospheric pressure. Change those conditions, and you change this pH value.

    I’d say that wanting to call it “less basic” is actually an attempt to downplay the effect of increasing ocean acidity. It sounds more benign, right, William? Problem is, it isn’t. Take the human skin barrier: you do not want a neutral pH (as in “pH = 7″). That’s bad for the skin. Likewise we do not want a lowering of the pH of the oceans – it is bad for many of the currently living organisms.

    Regarding the EPA rules: this is related to local zones and surface water and primarily allowed because you’d otherwise not be allowed to dump ANY water into the ocean. Rain water is generally acidic (yes, pH well below 7), for example.

    Finally, those “scientists” complaining about the Munich Re report were Roger Pielke Jr (no surprise there) and Clifford Mass (for those who know him, no surprise either). In other words: “two scientists”. Der Spiegel has a history on this – Bojanowski (the author) has a very, very small selection of scientists he quotes, and then makes it sound like there are loads of scientists actually complaining.

  77. Lars Karlsson says:

    Booker is magnificently nutty:

    Booker, Charles Darwin zealots have made science a substitute religion, in The Telegraph, Feb 7, 2009.

    Choice quote:
    ” What is fascinating about the Darwinians is their inability to accept just how much they do not know. Armoured in their certainty that they have all the answers when they so obviously don’t, neo-Darwinians such as Richard Dawkins rest their beliefs just as much on an unscientific leap of faith as the â Creationists’ they so fanatically affect to despise. It is revealing how they dismissively try to equate all those scientists who argue for ‘intelligent design’ with Biblical fundamentalists, as their only way to cope with questions they cannot answer.

    Something strikingly similar has been taking place over the belief that the world is dangerously warming, due to the rise in man-made CO2. For a time the believers in this theory seemed to have the evidence on their side, as CO2 levels and temperatures rose in apparent harmony. But lately all sorts of evidence has been put forward by serious scientists to suggest that this theory is seriously flawed, not least the fact that recently falling temperatures were not predicted by any of those computer models on which the advocates of global warming rest their beliefs. “

  78. I confess to not reading/wading through any of the links in this post, but to add further: the (potential) damage to marine life is not simply acidification and increasing temps. Increasing pCO2 is another environmental stress on marine biota, therefore as more CO2 dissolves in the oceans, the more likely it is that marine populations will be placed under additional stress, affecting breeding, mortality, etc.

  79. william says:

    kit

    Increasing pCO2 is another environmental stress on marine biota, therefore as more CO2 dissolves in the oceans, the more likely it is that marine populations will be placed under additional stress, affecting breeding, mortality, etc.

    tell the EPA that , off the coast of the US , 5 miles out to sea they allow a Ph of 6.5 – 8.5.

  80. Tom Curtis says:

    Why is anybody bothering with William. If you had a 500 meter rope, and cut of 5 meters, it would be shorter. If you had a 100 cm length of rope, and spliced on another 20 cm, it would be longer. Anybody who started playing word games and insisting the former case should only be described as something becoming “less long”, and the later as something becoming “less short” would be simply laughed at in any venue, scientific or otherwise. This rule applies across all English comparative adjectives. Boiling water cools as it comes of the boil, while ice warms as it goes from -20 to -18 C; Military jets slow when they drop below Mach 2, while babies go faster if they put a spurt on in their crawl; and so-on. William may think he is being clever by trying to abuse the language as he does. He is not. He is merely being absurd. And we are being absurd if we entertain the notion discussion with him can be reasonable if he is either so incompetent in the language that he does not understand this standard convention; or so lacking integrity that, understanding it, he tries to distort it for rhetorical gain.

    The only correct response to somebody so lacking in either intellect or intellectual integrity (he being otherwise fluent in English) is to point out that he is rejecting in just this one case the standard English method of handling comparative adjectives for onlookers; and should he persist eject him from intelligent conversation, he bringing no intelligence to that conversation.

  81. william says:

    MARCO, please!!!

    it is becoming less base, not acidic, and even that is uncertain , there is not enough data to confirm this, if there is, please tell me from all the oceans where the data is coming from, from what year, time of day, after heavy rains or not………..

    MARCO, at what PH does the Sea become Acidic and at what PH are the seas alkaline.

  82. Rachel says:

    William,
    The next comment you make about the definition of ocean acidification is going in the trash.

  83. william says:

    of course it is Rachel, I expect nothing less.

  84. william says:

    before you do Rachel do look at the rules on the EPA site.

  85. william says:

    [Rachel: I did warn you]

  86. Rachel says:

    The EPA link looks fine to me. It can stay.

  87. Rachel, you could trash all William’s comments here, and the ripostes they attracted, and the intelligence of the thread would rise. He is a confusionist.

  88. BBD says:

    The EPA document refers to the wide range of local variability in the pH of coastal waters around the US. Not about shifting the background pH of the whole ocean basin. William has fundamentally misinterpreted this document.

  89. johnrussell40 says:

    This blog is too lenient when it comes to moderation. William’s pig-ignorance is allowed to destroy threads. He knows this so keeps coming back to do it again.

  90. Rachel says:

    John and John,
    Yes, point taken. Will defer to Wotts about whether to delete all the nonsense comments though.

  91. John, you’re probably correct but I used to live in hope that William will actually present something constructive. It hasn’t happened yet and his ability to disrupt a thread is now becoming a little tiresome. I think moderation is now in order.

  92. I don’t see much point in deleting them. It’s happened and it provides a certain amount of information for those who might be reading but not commenting. Allowing someone to destroy their own credibility has it’s own value.

  93. William says:

    [Rachel: No, William. You are not right.]

  94. William says:

    [Mod : I've warned you as has Rachel.]

  95. William says:

    [Mod : and again.]

  96. BBD says:

    Yes, provide enough rope. Just not so much that it can serve as an escape route from the scaffhold.

  97. BBD says:

    I’ve read the EPA stuff, but you have misinterpreted that document.

  98. Oh dear William, from basically the first sentence of your link to the EPA’s document (my empahsis): “pH range of 6.5 to 8.5 for marine aquatic life (but not varying more than 0.2 units outside of the normally occurring range).”

    And the rest of the document is in the same vein, that there is a naturally occurring pH range (localised, and driven by seasons, tides and so on) within which marine biota live, but perturbations outwith their normal range are to be avoided. I wonder then how acidification will affect normal ranges, hmmm?

  99. William says:

    Are the dreaded moderation even when quoting from the EPA and NOAA,
    !!!!!

  100. “my emphasis”

    or not!

  101. William, no the moderation is operating because you’re not contributing constructively, you’re bombing this thread, and you’re insisting that you’re right despite the terminology you’re criticising being used in the scientific literature and others pointing out your errors with regards to EPA documents. You’ve had an opportunity to make your point. You don’t have the opportunity to make it over and over again.

  102. Tom Curtis says:

    One thing not commented on above is that Booker’s article proves from the start that, having agreed to Chatham House Rules, Nigel Lawson or one of his experts immediately broke that agreement by identifying at least one participant to Booker. As it turns out, it was Nigel Lawson himself.

  103. John Mashey says:

    Better moderation tools would sure help, and I still miss USENET KILLFILEs.
    Back to GWPF: I remind people that this is a public charity in the UK.
    Aren’t you glad it gets a tax break for its activities:
    ‘THE GLOBAL WARMING POLICY FOUNDATION IS AN EDUCATIONAL CHARITY. ITS MAIN PURPOSE IS TO ADVANCE THE PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING OF GLOBAL WARMING AND OF ITS POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES, AND ALSO OF THE MEASURES TAKEN OR PROPOSED TO BE TAKEN IN RESPONSE TO SUCH WARMING. INCLUDING BY MEANS OF THE DISSEMINATION OF THE RESULTS OF THE STUDY OF, AND RESEARCH INTO
    A THE SCIENCES RELEVANT TO GLOBAL WARMING
    B ITS IMPACT UPON THE ENVIRONMENT, ECONOMIES AND SOCIETY
    C AND THE ABOVE-MENTIONED MEASURES
    AND ALSO BY THE PROMOTION OF STUDY AND RESEARCH IN THOSE SUBJECTS (“THE OBJECT”).’

    ‘What
    • EDUCATION / TRAINING

    Who
    • THE GENERAL PUBLIC / MANKIND

    How
    • PROVIDES ADVOCACY / ADVICE / INFORMATION
    • SPONSORS OR UNDERTAKES RESEARCH’

  104. If a person starts to complain about the use of the scientific term “ocean acidification”, it’s virtually certain that this person is troll. [Mod : Decided to remove the middle part of this comment. Wasn't really necessary and given that William is in moderation, can't really respond.] He [William] successfully hijacked the thread. he couldn’t have asked for more.

  105. John, yes better tools would indeed help. This manual moderation is tiring :-)

    It is indeed amazing that the GWPF has the gall to claim that it’s goal is TO ADVANCE THE PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING OF GLOBAL WARMING AND OF ITS POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES.

  106. BBD says:

    Hopefully Bob Ward’s challenge to the GWPF’s abuse of charitable status will eventually bear fruit.

  107. BBD says:

    Put the gin down.

    Dr Benny Peiser, GWPF’s director firmly rebutted Mr Ward’s claims.

    “The GWPF has never participated in any campaigning and does not promote any particular line of opinion. In fact, the GWPF does not have an official or shared view about the science or politics of global warming – although we are of course aware that these issues are not settled,” said Dr Peiser, a former senior lecturer in sports science at Liverpool John Moores University.

    “Our reports, which are peer reviewed, are subjecting climate change policies to dispassionate analysis based on hard evidence and economic rigour…..Corrections are published if and when errors are discovered,” he added.

    Yarbles.

  108. John Mashey says:

    BBD: yes, but in US, at least, these take years (I’m almsot 2 years into one vs heartland). I was delighted when Bob did this, as a Brit guest had pointed me at the charities commission website in 2010 and I’ve watched GWPF status there since.

  109. William says:

    Karsten,

    Are the oceans alkaline at the moment or acidic, will the oceans become acidic, if you disagree with my statement from NOAA that the seas will not become acidic,

    So now how does that make me a troll to make those statements,

    What are the EPA rulers,

    Wotts, this is appalling to let them get away with this, you know damn well that the oceans might, I repeat might be becoming less base. This,is the correct term to use.

    You will note that no one could give me full data regarding testing the ph os seas world wide and from a given date. If you test the seas after a heavy rainstorm the seas will be slightly less base, it depends where you are measuring of the coast , near river outlets etc, there is no proper data regarding whether the seas are becoming less base.

  110. William, I’m not letting anyone get away with anything. Noone is claiming that the oceans are about to become acid. They are pointing out (quite correctly) that the term acidification is used in the scientific literature and that is an entirely appropriate term to use. Please stop this discussion now. It is getting incredibly tedious.

  111. William says:

    Now please try and understand this everyone, I mean really , try and get it.

    From marine science, please note the ph values of normal seas,

    pH

    pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a substance and is one of the stable measurements in seawater. Ocean water has an excellent buffering system with the interaction of carbon dioxide and water so that it is generally always at a pH of 7.5 to 8.5. Neutral water is a pH of 7 while acidic substances are less than 7 (down to 1, which is highly acidic) and alkaline substances are more than 7 (up to 14, which is highly alkaline). Anything either highly acid or alkaline would kill marine life but the oceans are very stable with regard to pH. If seawater was out of normal range (7.5-8.5) then something would be horribly wrong.

  112. William, I really do think it is you who is not getting it. The rate of change of ocean pH is faster than it has been for over 300 million years. Things are going horribly wrong.

  113. Ian Forrester says:

    William keeps on showing his ignorance about basic chemistry as it refers to pH. pH is not a measure of “alkalinity”. Alkalinity has got nothing to do with the pH of a solution. Alkalinity is measured in “mg/L as CaCO3″. Incidentally, addition of CO2 to water does not change the alkalinity but does change the pH.

    He is also wrong when he claims that acidic substances are less than 7 (down to 1, which is highly acidic). pH can in fact become negative in a concentrated enough acid solution since it is measured as the negative base 10 logarithm of hydrogen ion concentration.

  114. Wotts, fair enough. Was a bit disappointed to see such pointless discussion seemingly going on forever. Please accept my apologies! Has to do with my self-imposed fundamental and unalterable rule as prerequisite for discussion: Good faith. Leads to harsh comments sometimes ;). I’ll try to do better next time.

  115. Joshua says:

    It’s rather funny to read that “skeptics” are criticizing climate scientists for not discussing policy.

    Someone get Judith and Tamsin on the phone, will ya?

  116. Joshua, since you’re commenting, I presume it’s you that’s been commenting on Judith’s latest post. Assuming that you’re comfortable commenting, I was wondering if you understood why David Appell seemed to have a bit of a go at you in the comments? Seemed a little unnecessary, but maybe there’s a context I’m unaware of.

    Karsten, no need to apologise. It was pointless and going on forever.

  117. toby52 says:

    The RS – GWPF outcome tends to confirm what Michael Mann said: you cannot have a good faith discussion with deniers.

  118. toby52, whether true or not, the GWPF are certainly providing no evidence to suggest that what Michael Mann says doesn’t have merit.

  119. verytallguy says:

    Booker

    Although the GWPF has in general scrupulously observed the “Chatham House rule” that the society imposed on the meeting, we can piece together something of how it went

    Translation: We intend to spin the meeting in order to drive our political agenda

    Lawson

    So Nurse’s team were able to tell me little I did not already know

    Translation: I am arrogant, and blind to my arrogance
    (What a loathsome remark. This actually makes me really angry. If I had the good fortune to meet with a group of world experts on any given topic, I’d want to learn from them, not proudly proclaim my ignorance)

    A very depressing episode all round.

    I wonder what the parties expected to gain from it. Did Nurse really expect Lawson to come to learn?

    Nurse presumably had either with a naive short term expectation or perhaps more realistic long term vision of connecting facts to the deniers. Lawson – I guess short term to use his media contacts to spin whatever message is convenient and maybe a longer term strategy to position climate change denial as openminded vs closed scientific community?

    The RS were always going to lose any short term media coverage given Lawson’s connections and the ownership of the British media, which is presumably why the RS wanted it away from the press, in the hugely naive expectation that Lawson would deliver on spirit as well as letter of the agreement.

    Let’s hope Nurse has a long term strategy in mind and the expertise and connections to deliver it. It’s a desperately naive hope, on both fronts.

  120. guthrie says:

    I made some negative pH nitric acid a few weeks ago. Well, I’m assuming it was a negative pH, because my pH meter couldn’t read it.

    Anyway, the point about the word “Acidification”, is that it’s a word with a -ion on the end, which means it is a word about changing, becoming, moving, doing etc, like in ‘gasification’
    This is confirmed by wiktionary:

    From Old French -ification, in turn from Latin -ficātiō, a noun ending related to the supine ending -ficātum of first-conjugation verbs ending in -ficō, derived from compounding with faciō.

    Surface analysis -ify (“to become”) +‎ -ic (“characteristic, quality (adjective)”) +‎ -ation (“process, nominal”) (see below).

    So it is that the term “Acidificaiton” means becoming more acid than it was previously. Hence it is a perfectly rational and appropriate word to use. If you were dumping megatonnes of crushed limestone into the sea, the term would be “alkalinification”, which is a real word, look it up. In fact a quick search finds it used in a paper from 1989 about soil.
    You appear to be confusing the term “acid”, meaning something which has a pH of less than 7, with the word used to describe it moving towards having a pH less than 7. An elementary mistake, but one that is entirely to be expected in a science hater.

  121. William says:

    Ian you seem to not understNd that the seas are alkaline at the moment and not imagined to actually go acidi apart from in coastal areas where it does.

  122. William, noone is claiming that they’re about to become acid. Stop setting up strawmen. Acidification is a scientific term meaning that the pH is getting smaller. You may not like it. That is your right. However, you cannot insist that everyone agrees with you. You’ve made your point. Please move on.

  123. William says:

    Wotts i have already given you info that the seas are stable at between 7.5 and 8.5 which is alkaline. Once again apart from coastal regions where it goes acidic and is Llowed by the EPA to do this, hence the ph range they give, try and understand this.

  124. William, no you have not. You’ve pointed to a document about coastal seas in which it refers to regional variations but states, quite clearly, that local variations cannot exceed 0.2. Just because some coastal regions have pH values near 7.5 does not imply that the pH of the entire ocean could be reduced without there being significant damage done to ocean ecosystems.

  125. verytallguy says:

    Wotts,

    a plea.

    The role of organisations like the GWPF is absolutely central to the whole debate on global warming.

    Your blog is a possible outlet for a constructive debate on this.

    Acidification per se and nomenclature of it even more so are, way off topic, I feel, and destroying the ability for an on-topic debate – an outcome typical of blogs everywhere.

    So whether or not William’s style of interaction is helpful perhaps one or more of the following might be helpful
    -declare acidification off topic and moderate all posts accordingly
    -put up an open thread and move comments there
    -put up a post on nomenclature and allow anyone who may be interested in semantics to indulge there
    -put up a post on acidification

  126. VTG, a perfectly reasonable suggestion. William’s in moderation anyway, so I’ve been moving some of his comments out in the hope that maybe he’ll respond constructively. It’s not really working, as you quite rightly point out. I have been considering some kind of borehole for off-topic comments. Maybe I’ll go ahead and do that.

  127. Rational Optometrist says:

    Hi – as an outsider coming to this thread I think the moderation here is appalling. You’re silencing William whilst allowing other people to voice their rebuttals to him. The rule either applies to everyone or to no-one. Otherwise it’s censorship and the whole thread becomes just a single-minded cluster of approval-monkeys. I’m shocked that you would even entertain going back and deleting past comments.

    I’m a non-scientist and whilst ‘ocean acidification’ may be a perfectly clear indicator to those who are more scientifically aware that the ocean is becoming ‘less alkaline’, to people like myself it corresponds with the usual alarmist imagery e.g. ludicrous cartoons of polar bears with their legs ravaged by ocean acid. I actually find William’s comments enlightening in as far as they relate to the general picture – as it is clear that ‘acidic oceans’ are not what’s going on here. ‘Less alkaline’ oceans may well be a problem, but I would like to thank William for providing a counter-foil to the *imagery* (not necessarily the science – but, William, you have my ear).

  128. Marco says:

    Time for a new thread, wotts: what should be the name of my borehole?

    Realclimate has “the Bore Hole”
    Stoat has “the Stoat’s Burrow”
    I’m sure there are some other examples. So, what should yours be called? :-)

  129. Marco, I was looking into that but can’t see how to move comments without retyping the whole comment into a new comment on the new thread. If I can work out a way of doing it I will.

    Rational – I’m silencing William because he’s refusing to stop repeating the same things over and over again. I know some people think the terminology is intentionally alarmist. Believing that, however, does not make it true. It’s ridiculous to suggest that we can’t even use terms that are actually in the scientific literature. I’ve given William plenty of opportunities to make his point and move on. We can’t have a rational discussion if one person is insisting that everyone else agrees with them before moving on.

    ‘Less alkaline’ oceans may well be a problem, but I would like to thank William for providing a counter-foil to the *imagery* (not necessarily the science – but, William, you have my ear).

    He’s made the case a number of times on this thread. I don’t know why you need him to do it again and again. Plus, I’m not trying to present any imagery. All I was pointing out was that if Booker is claiming that ocean acidification is not happening, then he’s wrong. On the other hand, if he’s suggesting that oceans are not becoming acid, then he’s setting up a strawman. As I’ve said, and many others, noone is suggesting that ocean acidification means the oceans will become acid.

  130. Rachel says:

    RationalOptometrist,
    You haven’t seen the comments of William’s that have been removed. I will direct you to the moderation policy and there are three rules which William is consistently guilty of – thread bombing, being disruptive and making comments which lack evidence.
    I am coming to the conclusion that the failure by members of our society to understand what ocean acidification actually means is a sad indictment on science education in schools.

  131. Rachel says:

    I can’t see how you can move comments either, sorry. It may just be that we have to moderate off-topic comments and invite the person to re-comment elsewhere.

  132. Rational Optometrist says:

    “noone is suggesting that ocean acidification means the oceans will become acid”

    I’m pretty sure I saw this one on SKS, or at least endorsed by them, (maybe even by yourself?):

    http://static.tree-nation.com/public/images/content/2013/08/38298469cfa217f564db0048f646de31_pan.jpg

    The message, even in jest, is pretty clear.

  133. verytallguy says:

    Rational Optometrist

    On moderation, I couldn’t disagree more – see my above on the destructive nature of off topic comments. William, in my opinion, very deliberately and successfully chose to drag the thread off topic.

    Your point of imagery is apposite in the context of the GWPF. Imagery has always been central to the climate debate – the hockeystick, the polar bear, the maps of earth with higher sea level etc.

    So, have a look at their GWPF header and see if the image they choose to use is intended to help in “Restoring balance and trust to the climate debate”. I’d say it was an image very carefully chosen to mislead.

    Wotts – another one for your suggestions box for posts – “Imagery and Climate Change”.

  134. Rachel, apparently there is a plug-in but I don’t seem to be able to install plug-ins. Maybe I have to upgrade my site so as to do so but not sure I want to spend my own money so as to be able to move disruptive comments to another page :-)

    Rational – whether you saw that on SkS or not, it has nothing to do with me and had never been posted here.

  135. Rational Optometrist says:

    Yes a post about ‘imagery’ would be an interesting one. But Wotts do make it balanced, e.g. even if you disagree about the mentality behind the ‘hiroshima’ figure/app you’re fully aware how others view it as an image.

    I just checked the GWPF header and it’s a global mean temp graph from the start of the millenium on a blue background right? It states on its face the source is the Met Office. So, I imagine, accurate but – you would argue – not the full picture?

    I think we can forgive them that, seeing the years of prominence given to the discredited hockey stick within huge swathes of scientific literature.

  136. Ian Forrester says:

    Wotts, here is my suggestion for naming your borehole, “crank shaft”.

  137. Balanced is a good idea. For every three posts by a contrarian,there should be 97 by the mainstream. William was aiming for the other way around.

    The hockey stick is just about the most replicated and trusted graph in science, thank to so-called sceptics.

    “Having been investigated by almost one dozen bodies due to accusations of fraud, and none of those investigations having found Plaintiff’s [Mann’s] work to be fraudulent, it must be concluded that the accusations are provably false. Reference to Plaintiff, as a fraud is a misstatement of fact.”

    — DC Superior Court ruling Mann’s defamation suit against National Review and CEI, July 2013

    Is Rational Optometrist just a play on Rational Optimist, Matt Ridley’s blog?

  138. Rational, a post about imagery may well be interesting. I’m uncertain that it would be constructive. For example, you say

    I think we can forgive them that, seeing the years of prominence given to the discredited hockey stick within huge swathes of scientific literature.

    Such a comment needs context. It appears true that MBH may not have applied their statistically technique as appropriately as they could have. It’s also possible that their reconstruction (being the first) did not resolve variation at some scales that may be of relevance. However, it is far from dis-credited and many other studies have replicated the general shape of their reconstruction. This doesn’t mean that it is completely correct, but it is far from discredited, despite what you may have read elsewhere.

  139. Ian, yup, that may well be a winner :-) Although, may not go down all that well with those who’s comments end up there.

  140. verytallguy says:

    Rational,

    global mean temp graph from the start of the millennium… … accurate but – you would argue – not the full picture?

    Indeed. In fact, deliberately chosen to be both accurate and misleading. The verb you’re looking for is “to dissemble”, I think

    I think we can forgive them that…

    Yes, I agree – when they have acknowledged the facts and replaced the graph with one showing the whole picture

    seeing the years of prominence given to the discredited hockey stick within huge swathes of scientific literature.

    One of the tedious things about deniers on blogs is their slavish repetition of memes, without any reference to their accuracy, or understanding of what they’re parroting. Google pages2k, if you’re really interested and come back to explain it’s remarkable similarity to Mann’s results.

  141. Rational Optometrist says:

    Thanks for your MBH comments. I have, indeed, read very different commentaries.

    And please don’t let’s go down JHS’s ‘consensus based’ thread-commenting. The dissenting voice is always the most interesting.

  142. R-O, now you say “don’t let’s go down…‘consensus based’ thread-commenting”.

    Whatever happened to your original plea, “But Wotts do make it balanced”?

  143. Rational, if you were interested you could read parts of Chapter 5 of AR5’s WG1 report. Figures 5.7 and 5.8 are more recent millenial reconstructions and they are discussed around page 25. For interest it says

    NH reconstructions covering part or all of the first millennium suggest that some earlier 50-year periods might have been as warm as the 1963–2012 mean instrumental temperature, but the higher temperature of the last 30 years appear to be at least likely the warmest 30-year period in all reconstructions (Table 5.4). However, the confidence in this finding is lower prior to 1200, because the evidence is less reliable and there are fewer independent lines of evidence. There are fewer proxy records, thus yielding less independence among the reconstructions while making them more susceptible to errors in individual proxy records. The published uncertainty ranges do not include all sources of error (Section 5.3.5.2), and some proxy records and uncertainty estimates do not fully represent variations on timescales as short as the 30 years considered in Table 5.4. Considering these caveats, there is medium confidence that the last 30 years were likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years.

    So, the reconstructions suggest that the past 30 years are warmer than any time in the last 1400 years. However, that there are fewer proxy records prior to 1200 means that there is only medium confidence in this result. There’s no evidence to suggest that there has been a period in the last 1400 years that was warmer (globally) than it’s been in the last 30, but they can’t rule it out because of a reduction in proxies prior to 1200.

  144. verytallguy says:

    Just as an aside, the sceptics obsession with MWP has always mystified me.

    A hot MWP implies high climate sensitivity. A small, or local MWP rather than a large, global MWP is supporting evidence for low climate sensitivity.

    Why? Well, if there were strong negative feedbacks, they would have kicked in and prevented any significant global warming in the absence of major forcings.

  145. bratisla says:

    “The dissenting voice is always the most interesting.”
    I’m sorry, but I deeply disagree. The most in-depth voice with the best references and the best questions is the most interesting. Dissenting, in an ideal world – and sometimes in the real world , offers the opportunity to bring interesting facts, links, thoughts to light instead of the more or less paraphrased “I agree” that are less incenting.
    Arguing that the process of adding H3O+ ions in the water is not an acidification because “it sounds alarmist” during a dozen of comments is not interesting, at all levels. In my opinion, and apparently the opinion of many people here.

    Our host apparently follows the same line – or I think. Since it’s his blog, he can do as he please. Even kicking me out because my name has a “b”. Let’s be frank, my pseudo is horrible. :]

  146. verytallguy says:

    And a (probably in vain) attempt to get things back on topic. Wotts said:

    So, the GWPF has a meeting with one of the leading scientific societies in the world and then publishes an article on its site implying that it’s a cult. Not only is this absurd, it’s also infantile behaviour. Is there any chance that the Royal Society will ever suggest another meeting with the GWPF? I don’t actually know the answer to this, but they’d be mad if they did so or agreed to one.

    So the question is, given that this was an obvious trainwreck, what would be a good strategy for the RS to take in gaining public acceptance of the facts on global warming?

    Any suggestions?

  147. Rational Optometrist says:

    I am interested and many thanks.

    Now can you WELEASE WILLIAM! *cough* so I can also hear his views?

  148. Rational, if William accepts that we just have to agree to disagree about the relevance of the EPA document and whether or not acidification is intended to be scary or not, and can make a comment that is not about acidification and that is relevant to the post, he’s welcome back.

  149. VTG, I actually don’t know how they get out of this one. It’s seems a bit of a lose-lose for them (as it probably always was). They can’t say much without violating the Chatham House Rules that they requested. The only thing I can think of is that they publicly express their dismay that the GWPF have highlighted an article on their site that suggests that the RS is a cult. That would at least be reasonable and they could do so without violating the conditions of the meeting.

  150. Rational Optometrist says:

    Bratisla – you really must read Paradise Lost. At least delve into Books One & Two and see what you make of the ‘dissenting voices’ there.

  151. I believe the irony of a pretend charity, secretly funded, organisation, led by a mediocre ex-Chancellor with a knighted failed journalist-banker shouting “Cult! Cult!” because the scientists probably struggled not to laugh at them openly will not be lost upon the majority of the thinking populace. The Global Warming Protection Fund had their day…and lost. RIP.

    I see their Freeman Dyson and raise them a Stephen Hawkings. I see their Lindezen and raise them a pair in Mann and Alley.

  152. William says:

    I thought my post was,

    “the oceans are acidifying” and that there has been a dramatic increase in “extreme weather events” (neither claim is true).

    Neither are true? Well as far as I’m aware the oceans are indeed becoming more acidic (or less alkaline) as more and more CO2 is dissolving. I believe there is also evidence for an increase in some extreme weather events, heatwaves in particular. Again, it seems clear that the GWPF is really not getting suitable scientific advice from it’s advisory board.

  153. William, partly but we’ve covered that in extensive detail. When I said “more acidic” I didn’t mean becoming acid. I actually added “less alkaline” to try and avoid the exact discussion we’ve just had. Let me summarise your view so that it’s clear that I understand it and we can move on. You believe acidification is an intentionally alarmist term. You produce a NOAA document that acknowledges that it could be perceived that way. It, however, is a term used in the scientific literature and simply because a NOAA document has acknowledged that it could be perceived that way does not mean it should not be used. Noone here is using it to claim that the ocean will become acid. If you want to believe that it is meant to be intentionally alarmist, that’s your choice. You’ve made the point. I disagree. You can’t insist that we agree with you. Let’s move on.

    You also produce an EPA document that refers to coastal waters around the USA and use that to claim that any pH between 7.5 and 8.5 is fine anywhere in the oceans. I do not believe that is correct. You can’t take a report that refers only to the coastal waters around the USA and extrapolate it to all the oceans on the planet. Again, however, you’ve had an opportunity to make that point. Let’s move one.

    The only reason I’ve released this comment is to make very clear the position I’m holding here and because I haven’t yet set up a seperate thread for comments that take a post too far off topic. Please bear that in mind if/when you choose to respond.

  154. verytallguy says:

    Wotts,

    I was thinking a little longer term than the response to this interaction. What should the strategy of the RS (or other scientific bodies) in engaging to ensure the best possible understanding of climate science.

    The IPCC was a huge step forward, and has done a great job overall.

    We are now faced with a situation where organisations like the GWPF deliberately deceive people, and through media leverage have huge power to connect. Note ownership of the UK press in this context (Rothermere, Barclays, Murdoch), and political pressure on the BBC for “balance”. This is an alliance which has been highly effective in the past, for instance in changing attitudes to the EU (regardless of what you think about that institution).

    I see no reason whatever why they won’t be equally effective in changing attitudes on climate science, without an effective strategy to ensure the facts prevail. And I see no strategy at all right now.

    This is all very UK centric, but you can see analogous scenarios across the developed world.

  155. VTG, I see. A tricky issue. Something I have wondered is that there does seem to be a difference between the British scientists who are on social media and the US scientists who are on social media. The British scientists seem to try and engage with sceptics in, I suspect, the hope that by being reasonable they will finally get through to some scpetics. The US scientists seem to be much more aggressive. Part of me thinks that scientists need to be a bit more upfront with those who question the science. It’s obviously fine to engage with those who are skeptical but stop letting them get away with talking complete nonsense. Maybe after this debacle, the RS will start to take a harder line and others might follow.

    You might think it’s a little ironic me saying the above given my tagline of “trying to keep the discussion civil”. What I have learned over the last 8 months or so is that keeping the discussion civil is what I need to do in order to maintain my sanity, but it doesn’t really help when it comes to convincing sceptics that they’re talking nonsense.

  156. verytallguy says:

    JHS

    I believe the irony of a pretend charity, secretly funded, organisation, led by a mediocre ex-Chancellor with a knighted failed journalist-banker shouting “Cult! Cult!” because the scientists probably struggled not to laugh at them openly will not be lost upon the majority of the thinking populace. The Global Warming Protection Fund had their day…and lost.

    I believe you are utterly wrong. The populace will hear that an ex chancellor was not given a fair hearing by a bunch of extremists with a preconceived agenda. They will hear that the science is under debate. The BBC will be forced to report both sides of this “debate” under threat of a licence fee settlement. The truth, along with what small possibility of real action remains, will be lost.

    The RS are out of their depth and need some serious PR advice and media connections. Urgently.

  157. bratisla says:

    Rational, can you enlighten me about what I should learn from Milton’s poetry ? I have already read them, so pointing to me what you want me to see in these books will help me.

    And, to be perfectly clear, this is the word “always” I strongly disagreed with. My explanations thereafter seemed to me clear enough.

  158. VTG, possibly. It’s is a worry when you realise that the readership of the Daily Mail and Telegraph exceeds 2 million.

  159. guthrie says:

    Part of the difference between UK and US scientists is that the USA has a louder and more out there sort of culture in general, so their scientists are expected to be louder. But the USA is also further along the path of science denialism and propaganda from vested interests.

    As for dissenting voices, the term alone is so blatantly open to abuse that it is pointless to use it. After all, we don’t let creationists, despite being dissenting voices, speak in school science lessons, or ask flat earthers their opinion on sending probes into space. Instead, what is wanted in science is not mere dissent, but reasoned opposition. Some scientists have made a career out of being usefully wrong; even some of the denialists, like Spencer, have performed such a function. They might be wrong in their results and conclusions, but their work points towards possible or actual gaps which need researched more in the future. This only work however if they dissent with proper discussion of what and why and how. This is clearly lacking in 99.9% of “Sceptics” works, but getting this across to people who don’t know any science is very hard.

    See also Steven Hawking; I’m not a physicist, but I understand that he has been wrong a few times, but usefully so, helping stimulate discussion and research on the topics in question. But note that usefully wrong does not include waging an extra-scientific battle, involving lying to members of the public.

  160. verytallguy says:

    Wotts

    What I have learned over the last 8 months or so is that keeping the discussion civil is what I need to do in order to maintain my sanity, but it doesn’t really help when it comes to convincing sceptics that they’re talking nonsense.

    I don’t think I agree. For two reasons. Firstly, you will never convince sceptics already committed enough to be writing blogposts, regardless of your approach. But secondly, I think anyone, but particularly scientists who take a confrontational approach will turn many people off. So I think you have a better chance with your approach than by being confrontational.

    An analogy to consider: look at evolution. This is still not widely accepted as a fact by the general populace, although more so in some countries than others. Who was ultimately more effective in driving its acceptance, Darwin or Huxley? Or do we need both?

    Guthrie – usefull but sometimes wrong – Fred Hoyle?

  161. William says:

    Wotts, I am happy your reply that seas will not become acidic.though the term of becoming more acidic seems to imply that they will.

  162. Guthrie, I think the issue of right and wrong in science is interesting and often misunderstood. Firstly it’s quite hard to define what one means by right or wrong. If it doesn’t satisfy one of the fundamental conservation laws, then maybe “wrong” is the right term. If, however, new information changes how one understands something, does that mean that earlier work was wrong, or simply that earlier work has now been superseded by newer work that is based on more recent information. Doing work that eventually turns out to not be quite right is a vital part of doing science and I agree that Spencer and others who are likely wrong about some aspects of climate science could well be contributing in this kind of way. Recognising this is, however, also important and continuing to promote work that is no longer credible does not do us any favours.

  163. VTG, when it comes to interested observers, I suspect that you’re correct. Taking too hard a line could damage that aspect of communication. On the other hand, pandering too much to extreme unscientific views also, in my opinion, doesn’t really help.

  164. William, I’m pleased we seem to have finally sorted this out but I pointed this out many comments ago. At no stage have I ever claimed (or even suggested) that the oceans would become acid. Maybe I should have used “acidification” instead of “more acidic” but I was responding to the terminology of Booker. Either way he’s wrong.

  165. Rachel says:

    Am I dreaming or has William really conceded that “oceans are indeed becoming more acidic” and “I believe there is also evidence for an increase in some extreme weather events”???

    I’ve had to read this comment numerous times just to make sure I understand it correctly.

    If I’ve got it right, then this is surely a win for maintaining civility in blog discussions.

  166. Rachel says:

    Oh, forgive me. I have misread. William has just quoted Wotts.

  167. William says:

    Rachel , I think wotts has agreed with me, the seas are not becoming acidic.

  168. The oceans may never become acid but the rate of acidification is faster than it’s been for 300 million years. Now let’s move on.

  169. BBD says:

    Dear God are we still on this? FFS.

  170. Rachel says:

    I thought they were your words, William, hence my confusion. I’m a bit of a space cadet today. :-) But I’m glad that everyone is happy again as this has been a silly thing to argue about.

  171. BBD says:

    Wotts, you are being taken advantage of by trolls. It is way, way past time to call a spade a spade. Trolls.

    This thread has been hijacked and buggered up. People other than myself are sufficiently pissed off to complain.

    This is a win for the trolls, Wotts. And a loss for you. Sorry to be blunt, but it needs saying.

  172. William says:

    Rachel , Yes you were confused as I illustrated above but that is ok, we are now at peace that the oceans will not become acidic, you can rest easy. No dissolved polar bear legs!

  173. Rachel says:

    Oh, BBD, we’d just resolved the crisis! All is well again and maybe, possibly, William has learnt something.

  174. BBD says:

    No chance. They *never* learn because – as Karsten says – they aren’t acting in good faith and good faith is a prerequisite for productive conversation.

  175. BBD, yup in this case I’m in agreement. Thread has indeed been hijacked over something that we could (and did) clarify a day ago. It wasn’t difficult and if William was genuinely interested in a constructive exchange he could simply have pointed out (in comment number 1) that the ocean will never become acid even though the pH is decreasing, and we would have all agreed. Instead I’ve wasted more time than it’s worth going over and over the same issue.

    Oh, and I feel a little bad about moderating Karsten’s earlier comment.

  176. I know its an old, oft cited, post, but it may be worth looking at again for how moderation is performed elsewhere, http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/a-blog-around-the-clock/2013/01/28/commenting-threads-good-bad-or-not-at-all/

  177. Rachel says:

    Great article, John. We probably should have cut William’s life support at comment # 2 especially since this is a discussion we’ve had quite recently with him elsewhere. Oh well, hindsight….

    William is still commenting would you believe.

    Wotts, you can never please everyone all of the time.

  178. BBD says:

    William is still commenting would you believe.

    Oh, I believe it. Keep binning them, please, Rachel.

  179. John Mashey says:

    “Rational Optimist” who defames good scientists (Mann, Bradley, Hughes) from the safety of anonymity, a common practice, at least regarding dissenting voices. He can prove his real belief by showing that he makes sure his children, grandchildren and all younger relatives can get exposed to the right dissenting voices that know there is no danger in smoking tobacco, to balance the medical researchers who think otherwise. I’m sure he finds the former more interesting than the latter, who are boring and they mostly have statistics, not physics, and do not even understand all the biochemistry of why certain substances are carcinogenic.

    Of course, there is absolute proof that the McIntyre & McKitrick paper that claimed MBH99 to be s discredited … was itself deliberate fraud, reused in the Wegman Report, although I still don’t know if that was deliberate fraud or just incompetence. Now, I’d hate to further derail the thread, but if Rational Optimist is not a William-sock-puppet, and actually wants to learn truth, I’l be glad to explain the evidence and link to the documentation … but my experience is that people who make the discredit claim simply do not admit the problem and de-engage from the thread.

    Now: back to the RS and GWPF.
    I’ve known a few folks in the RS and think they are pretty savvy. Senior UK scientists are generally pretty savvy on this, and there are some delicious stories I wish I were free to pass on.
    I don’t know Paul Nurse, but I saw the Nurse-Delingpole bit.
    The UK is in some sense a small place, in that ~everybody in the upper zones of science and politics tends to know the rest. What is the likelihood that Paul Nurse was unfamiliar with Lawson and GWPF? ~zero Given the propensity of some people to sign up as IPCC reviewers and immediately leak copies of drafts against the rules, would the RS expect the Chatham House rules to be followed?

    Anyway, I don’t see a lot of downside for the RS: they gave Lawson a hearing, the science won’t change, the disinformation won’t get less, but it won’t get any worse either. There will still be endless cries of cabals and gatekeeping to keep contrarian papers out, but they won’t convince anyone who isn’t already convinced.

    Anyway, whether this was optimal or not, I do not know, but I do know that science societies struggle all the time to balance the need to not stifle legitimate dissent, but not be hijacked by nonsense, or silly subgroups. (Wotts may recall the IOP mess a few years ago, or the APS 2009 petition.) For a year or two, there was a serious effort to use petitions to hijack climate statements at APS, ACS, GSA that I know of, all fialed.

  180. John Mashey says:

    Oops, I meant Rational Optometrist, although that may have been a slip of the brain. I enjoyed one of Ridley’s earlier books, too bad he’s gone the way he has.

  181. Rachel says:

    How does moderation work in a borehole? Is it the law of the jungle?

  182. That would be my guess. Just make it a free-for-all with the only stipulation being that it shouldn’t be so bad that I wouldn’t want my children to come across it by accident :-)

  183. John Mashey says:

    Blog software is still sadly primitive. I urged people for years to do something like The Borehole, but even better would be “shadow threads” where silly comments can be moved, but still crosslinked.
    Better yet is to adapt the mechanisms that some use to leave a comment in place (with nothing showing but poster name, date) and an icon to click to show the comment.

    Ideally, moderators would get a choice of Accept, Accept-with-edit, Reject, or “Make invisible, for , where code is one of handful of standard reasons for doing so - there aren't that many. AS it stands, it takes too much work to do this, and people are reluctant to reject too many., and whern they do, people go off elsewhere and proclaim themselves victims.

    Having the hidden items around is very useful for claibration, as long as one doesn't ahve to see them most of the time.

    Of course, USENET KILLFILEs were nice, in that once you decided someone was a waste of time, you never had to see them again, on any thread anywhere...

  184. John Mashey says:

    Oops, here was an early discussion of shadow threads, and a later one.

    Again, these days, I favor the ability to suppress the body fo a comment in place as simpler.

  185. Rachel says:

    Very interesting thanks, John. I like the sound of shadow threads and invisible comments.

    I know the thread here has seriously derailed, but it has at least remained largely civil. There’s none of the vitriol you might find elsewhere.

  186. John Mashey says:

    Rachel: lack of such tools is one of the reasons I don’t have a blog.
    Since you moderate, you might think about the reasons you’d:
    Move to Borehole, shadow thread, or make invisible
    if such were one menu-select.

    I doubt there are more than 10 or so, starting with:
    REJECT (obscenity, defamatory) and those are gone, leaving only header.
    MOVE/INVISIBLE
    Off-topic (sometiems even rational commneters can get carried away :-))
    thread-bomb
    strong assertions, no citations
    repetition of SkS meme #
    asking same question you’ve had answered before

  187. Rachel says:

    That all sounds good. I might also add to the move/invisible category: *erecting straw men and *failing to answer questions

  188. If I try and capture Greg Laden’s policy it’s “this is my blog, I moderate as I see fit” http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/about/

  189. To an earlier point, UK politics is insidious. Owen Paterson (Environment) is related by marriage to Matt Ridley. Chris Monckton is related by marriage to Lord Lawson’s son, Dominic. Dominic writes for the Daily Mail, Telegraph and GWPF.

  190. John Mashey says:

    The problem with “I’ll moderate as I wish” is that it neither deflects many arguments nor improves the practice. New moderators seem to rediscover the same issues over and over again.

    People learn by example, and good practices can spread.
    (Long ago, when I learned the C language, the only documentation was Dennis Ritchie’s 20-page memo and lots of clean code written by great programmers. There were no tutorials or anything like that. People learned anyway.)

    It is good to have a clear moderation policy, but many don’t read them, and if comments are just accepted or deleted, it is very hard for a reader to know where the line is, and also gives no data about the credibility of the moderator, some of whom are infamous for just deleting posts with data they don’t like. That’s why I like to see (almost) all posts preserved, and then I can calibrate both the moderator and the commenters whose comments were hidden.
    Likewise, although such things are done in social sciences, systematizing reasons for hiding comments seems a worthy thing to do.

    <a href="http://www.skepticalscience.com/fixednum.php&quot; SkepticalScience's list of bad arguments is a very useful systemization. Rachel mentioned strawmen, one of the common logical fallacies, for which many lists can be found.
    Unlike many in-person iinteractions, some codified long ago (Roberts Rules oF Order), online blog behavior has not had that history. But there is no reason for people to have to reinvent all the time.

  191. Joshua says:

    wotts –

    “I was wondering if you understood why David Appell seemed to have a bit of a go at you in the comments?”

    I think that David read carelessly, and didn’t follow the conversation. I was ridiculing the ridiculous argument so often seen at Judith’s and other “skeptical” sites – that climate scientists are forced to keep their findings in line with the consensus – and I can only think that he misread and thought I was promoting that argument.

    He and I do have a bit of a history, though. He has promoted the argument that people who post anonymously are “cowards,” or something along those lines. I find that argument specious (is Anthony Watts “brave” because he attaches his name to weakly-reasoned attacks?) and told him so. He didn’t like that.

    Actually, I find that David has a habit of making weak arguments.

  192. Steve Bloom says:

    Wotts, Rachel: Way too much of that, not enough of the other.

    Re the RS, it seems to me that there will be some benefit in being able to say that they made a full effort to provide the GWPF with the science.

    JHS, perhaps “incestuous”? I for one have always thought that Monckton was the product of the best of inbreeding. :)

    Re US scientists being a bit more hard-nosed, I agree that it’s because of the longer and deeper history of anti-science activism here. I would add that the pushback against climate science in the UK appears to be trying to follow the US template (which note has passed its high-water mark).

  193. Joshua, interesting, thanks. It’s probably useful to know if someone regards anonymity as being a sign of cowardice :-)

  194. Bwana_mkubwa says:

    Meanwhile another of the GWPF “experts” Lord Ridley, who has never published any peer-reviewed papers on climate change, had a piece in yesterday’s Times (paywalled) stating that “Green energy could kill Britain’s economy.” The argument seems to be that if we don’t keep fossil fuels cheap we will lose out to everyone else who will ignore these Moaning Minnie greens and their carbon tax. There is no discussion of the economic consequences of his suggested strategy. Mind you I am not shocked, Ridley is not hot on consequences: his “economic expertise” led Northern Rock into the first modern UK bank run. Yet his “expertise” in climate change and economic is delivered every Monday in The Times. One has to admire his chutzpah, but this does illustrate the problems The RS is facing in terms of the media.

  195. It is paywalled, so I can read it either. Ironically, though, when I go to the site, the top article on the right-hand panel of the page is titled

    Delays in insulation subsidies ‘are leading to higher fuel bills’

    I also don’t see how Ridley has any credibility left. It is quite remarkable. What I don’t understand is how people think we can keep fossil fuels cheap. As I understand it, extracting shale gas is not going to reduce gas prices because it’s global market. It may give us some energy independence, but that’s probably all. Also, it would seem likely that fossil fuels will continue to get more expensive while renewables will get cheaper (assuming that we continue investing in their development). I find it remarkable that people are arguing so strongly against new technologies. I would have thought people would want to move forwards, not stand still.

  196. Bwana_mkubwa says:

    I have read the Ridley article. It is his usual propaganda for shale gas. It completely ignores the issues you raise in your last three sentences, Wotts, He assumes that renewables will continue to be expensive and that fossil fuels will become cheaper. In these conditions, I quote; “we will have rising energy bills while the rest of the world has falling ones” Yeah, and if I had a £10,000 I’d buy you all a drink…..if I had £10,000.

  197. BBD says:

    If you ever want to read RIdley’s tripe, it is usually reprinted on the GWPF site – on this occasion here.

  198. Rational Optometrist says:

    Hi John M – thanks for your response, though it certainly felt a bit combative! Still, you’ve taken the time to write it I suppose we must be grateful, and endeavour to respond.

    The anonymity discussion is an interesting one and my personal view is that, when writing formally, you should put your name to your work and take responsibility for it. However this is a blog post discussion thread and as long as I’m civil and refrain from breaking the law, I don’t see a problem.
    Next up, I am no sock puppet of that William chap. His posts are hurried and full of grammatical errors and I hope you’ll find mine are considered and meticulous.

    As to my comment on dissenting voices. I suppose I was foolish enough to speak generally and should have been more specific. However:

    “dissenting voices in blog comment threads that otherwise read like a consensus circle-jerk are always the most interesting”

    …didn’t have the same gravitas.

    Now for the good bit! I’m actually very keen to be enlightened further on the science of this whole matter so I am interested in what you say. You’ve written that MM indulged in ‘deliberate fraud’ that was then perpetuated in the Wegman report and I’d be interested to hear your reasoning. I’ve not seen a reasoned argument making that claim anywhere else. In fact,there are many examples of people *agreeing* with McI about the “dubious statistics” (-that one was Dr Joliffe) used in MBH. However, like I say I am not a scientist nor statistician, merely interested and am garnering as much information as I can. Many thanks.

  199. BBD says:

    The fantasy of shale gas (economically recoverable reserves and effects on UK gas prices both grossly exaggerated) is being pumped into the public discourse by vested interests. Consider as part of a strategy to keep nuclear off the table and preserve the current fossiliferous status quo.

  200. BBD says:

    R Opt

    Hi John M – thanks for your response, though it certainly felt a bit combative! Still, you’ve taken the time to write it I suppose we must be grateful, and endeavour to respond.

    Can we keep the tone trolling a little less blatantly obvious?

  201. BBD says:

    MBH non-issue trolling. See here for details of crap pumped out by MM. Please inform yourself in your own time rather than wasting ours.

    McIntyre M&M misrepresentations of RED NOISE:

    http://deepclimate.org/2010/10/25/the-wegman-report-sees-red-noise/

    More:
    http://deepclimate.org/2010/11/16/replication-and-due-diligence-wegman-style/

    Nick Stokes:
    http://moyhu.blogspot.com/2011/06/effect-of-selection-in-wegman-report.html

  202. BBD, as much as I agree that the continual, largely unjustified and ill-informed, criticism of MBH is a little tedious, maybe Rational Optimist really hasn’t been properly exposed to alternative views. Some benefit of the doubt might be reasonable. I’ll do my best to step in and stop this if it seems your initial concerns were justified :-)

  203. johnrussell40 says:

    You’re dead right, Wotts, when you write that fossil fuels will continue to become more expensive. It’s rising prices that make it possible to extract the difficult-to-recover oil which is now coming on stream and swelling the assets of the fossil fuel companies. In recent years the idea has been spread that ‘peak oil’ has been a figment of the imagination, as evidenced by the huge increase in reserves. This is a misreading of the situation. Peak oil was never about anything as simple as ‘running out of oil’ (the strawman); it was about the end of ‘easy’ oil—the point at which the price has to rise at an ever steeper rate to make it financially viable to recover the remaining, more difficult, oil. This is where we are now and which started sometime just before 2007.

    This also explains where people like Ridley and Lawson are coming from. A quick look at any list of the world’s biggest companies shows total domination by mining, drilling and natural resources companies. These companies form the backbone of any investment portfolio, including most people’s pensions, and they’re very close to the hearts of Lawson, Ridley & Co who have executive appointments on their boards and I’m sure are invested heavily in the success of those multinationals. Maintaining the position of these cash cows is vital to economies and the wealth of the ‘financial elite’. Our problem, sitting the other side of the fence, is that the renewables industry can never be the monolithic cash generators that the fossil fuel and resource companies are; because the ‘fuels’ they use—wind, water, tides, sun—cannot be bought and sold, or put in reserves and manipulated by the markets. They’re capital intensive with fixed assets that cannot be traded anything like as easily. So they will never hold the attraction of fossil fuels to the big investors.

    This is why Lawson, Ridley & Co are in such total denial, denial that is so astonishing it makes one’s jaw drop. They cannot let go of the goose that lays such golden, and toxic, eggs, even though it’s trashing the planet. They will fight to the bitter end like rats cornered by a Jack Russell. And they have the massive wealth and resources of the extraction companies behind them.

  204. Rational Optometrist says:

    Many thanks for being pointed in the direction of further information BBD. No thanks at all for your labelling of ‘troll’. If this is the sort of thing to expect here then Wotts your ‘civil discussion’ has had it. Anyway, I’m happy to leave the last word on MBH to John M if he so wishes.

  205. BBD says:

    Wotts

    So long as you are okay with an MBH red-herring on this thread…
    ;-)

  206. BBD says:

    R Opt

    That was for your risible defence of “William’s” trolling. Introducing MBH was redundant confirmation of what you are doing here. Denying what you have done and trying to turn the truth against me is further redundant evidence of bad faith.

  207. BBD says:

    @ johnrussell40

    Yup.

  208. BBD, I was comfortable with your description of William given that that had fairly obviously become a form of trolling. I’m less so with Rational in that his behaviour has been perfectly fine. Let’s not jump the gun when it comes to the use of troll.

  209. Rachel says:

    Personally I don’t like the word troll at all. I’d rather it never got used. Someone called me a troll once. Me??? Can you believe that? I was quite taken aback as I’ve never, ever thought of myself as a troll.

    BBD,
    I realise you’ve been doing this for much longer and so you are more dismissive of the same old questions over and over again. I do think though that we should aim to be friendly even when we disagree because otherwise it polarises people reading the thread.

  210. BBD says:

    Wotts

    What can I say? If you can’t see what R Opt is doing, I can’t make you see it. That doesn’t put me in the wrong, however.

  211. BBD, you just need to give me a chance to actually see it. You may well turn out not to be wrong, but Rational may also prove us all wrong. You surely have to admit, that someone who’s actually showing some actual interest in reading other people’s comments and at least considering what they’re saying is, in itself, unusual :-)

  212. BBD says:

    Rachel

    I’m not dismissive of the questions per se. I’m dismissive of the motive behind asking them at a particular time and place.

  213. Rachel says:

    BBD,
    You are right to question motives and perhaps I am being naive to hope that RO is genuinely interested in the truth. Even if he/she is not interested, then lurkers will still see that someone has politely asked a question and been accused of trolling as a result.

    A lot of people don’t know the history of MBH. I had no idea what it was about until 6 months ago.

  214. guthrie says:

    I have often considered, over the last few years, how people who are on the surface intelligent, make massive and avoidable errors. See for instance Ridley.
    The usual reason is ideology, but I’m sure more research could be done on what and why and how. The fact that we had a global financial crisis, despite being assured that our brightest and best were on the job, indicates how intelligence isn’t by itself enough for anything, and how elites can fail badly.
    On the other hand a post on that topic would be a bit off for this blog.

  215. Rational Optometrist says:

    “Rational may also prove us all wrong”

    I suppose it’s from bitter experience you instinctively consider questioning voices to be trolls, and wait to be proven wrong? So now I am guilty until proven innocent I suppose. Not sure I like your system of judgment, but I must accept it, and in any case both Wotts and Rachel have been fair and accommodating above.

    As Rachel hopes I am indeed “genuinely interested in the truth” – and where I can find it. The tendency in this debate (from either side) is to claim ‘truth’ from what is only a paucity of evidence. I see things on both sides I dislike but none moreso than the ‘consensus’ language used by the climate ‘communicators’ and in particular their recent attempt using the Hiroshima disaster which puts the ‘app’ into appalling.

    I appreciate that this may, of course, not be the ‘proper place’ on this blog to air these views for fear of turning ‘regulars’ into aroused troll-hunters, bringing things malignly ‘off-topic’ (though I note this comment thread has gone through the specifics of moderation policy, the vested interests of fracking, and the [de]merits of anonymity).

    I shan’t comment much or often but my aim is always to be enlightened.

  216. Rational, I guess the issue is what one means by “truth”. It is my understanding that the analysis used by MBH had some issues. Does that mean that the whole paper should be junked? As a publishing scientist, I would say no. You consider what impact this analysis had and how the result would change if one did it differently. You could read this which acknowledges errors with MBH but points out (quite correctly) that the basic MBH result has been confirmed in many independent studies since it was first published.

    The point is that publishing a seminal paper drives research forward. It doesn’t really matter if the first paper turned out to be slightly wrong or used an analysis technique that turns out to have errors. What matters is how the field evolves from there. To date, no one – that I’m aware of – has published a millenial reconstruction that contradicts the basic results from MBH. Details, yes, but not the broad picture. As I pointed out above, the most recent research still indicates that the last 30 years were probably the warmest in the last 1400.

    Hence, the frustration when some suggest/claim that MBH has been debunked. It really hasn’t. Instead it’s essentially been confirmed multiple times using independent techniques and proxies.

  217. BBD says:

    Now, notice that despite requesting information about MBH and Wegman earlier, and despite repeated claims to be interested in the truth of these matters, R Opt does not appear to have read any of the links I provided above. It is as if they never were. He does, however, continue to criticise and insinuate against the mainstream as he has done in virtually every single comment posted on this thread.

  218. Rachel says:

    BBD,
    I’m starting to agree.

    Rational,
    I have issues with your last comment. Yes it’s very polite but you say, “I see things on both sides I dislike but none moreso than the ‘consensus’ language used by the climate ‘communicators’ and in particular their recent attempt using the Hiroshima disaster which puts the ‘app’ into appalling.”

    If you think this is the worst from both sides then I’m afraid I have been naive. Far worse to my mind is: harrassment of scientists, death threats made to scientists, posting of white powder to a scientist, hacking and broadcasting of private correspondence, blogging about death sentences for scientists….and I could go on.

    If you’re going to politely criticise climate science without acknowledging that maybe you’ve got it wrong and without ancknowleding errors on the other side, then I’m afraid you are not here in good faith.

  219. Rational Optometrist says:

    Well now, this is bizarre. Having been accused by BBD of hijacking the thread with an MBH ‘red herring’ I decided out of respect to the thread to offer the last word to John M – who I had questioned directly – and otherwise keep schtum on the topic, resolving to inform myself further. Bizarre indeed, having been estopped, to now be accused of ‘not following through’.

    Harrassment, threatening and beleaguering of scientists is unquestionably abhorrent and has no place in this debate. No one I read from either side condones it and certainly if they did I would be the first to stop reading. It is horrendous law-breaking outside of the *substance* of the debate. I therefore disagree strongly that it is an appropriate ‘foil’ with which to counter my view on the amoral tactics of people who purport to communicate the substance – or the truth – of the science.

    Wotts – your reply was by far the most amenable and not designed to ostracise. It was, actually, exactly the kind of discussion I was hoping for. I shan’t comment immediately on the links but I will read and imbibe at my leisure, and come back if I have any queries.

  220. Rational, I’m certainly pleased to hear you don’t condone it. You say that noone does. However, what I see are some who trivialise it. I even saw a comment by someone (I can try and find it) who was implying that it can’t be a death threat unless someone actual carries out the threat – which seems to rather change the dictionary definition of a threat.

    Anyway, that’s not really the point and I don’t want to end up in a long debate about which side is better than the other. I think the point of Rachel’s comment was simply to highlight that you had mentioned some issues with what you’d seen from one side while (conveniently?) not mentioning anything from the other.

    The interesting thing with the Hiroshima comparison is that there are a number of people one the AGW side of the debate who also object (Doug MacNeall is one, Tom Curtis another, Oliver Bothe also seems to be publicly against it). Suggesting that it is something supported by pro-AGW is therefore wrong. Personally, I find myself slightly on the fence. When I first encountered it, it was very clearly phrased as the “energy” of 4 Hiroshima bombs per second. That still seems to be the case. Being a physicist, I didn’t ever confuse energy (J) with deaths. I can, however, see the argument that using a horrendous event to make a point does have issues. I’ve therefore tried to avoid it.

    What I do object to, though, are those who turn it into a moral argument. If you want to object to it, that’s fine. The comparison is, however, quantitatively correct and has, almost always as far as I can see, referred explicitly to “energy”. I agree that one can make an argument against using it on the basis that the event was so horrendous that we shouldn’t be using it lightly, but that doesn’t mean (in my opinion at least) that it is intrinsically immoral to do so. Essentially, it’s my view that playing the morality card doesn’t really improve the tenor of the debate and suggesting that those who use the Hiroshima analogy are immoral appears, in my view at least, to de-legitmise people who are trying to illustrate the realities of global warming (in terms of energy accruing into the climate system).

  221. Rachel says:

    What Wotts said and one more thing. If we’re going to discuss amoral tactics of those communicating climate science, then the worst offenders are the ones lying and/or deliberately misinforming the public. Which brings us happily back to this topic and Christopher Booker’s article which is a case in point. In fact, as a journalist, Christopher Booker is supposed to uphold a certain ethical standard the first of which is to “Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.” SPJ Code of Ethics.

  222. Rational Optometrist says:

    I can only speak of my own experience on that matter – that of a lay-person who has been on the receiving end of it as a means of communicating ‘the science’. In my view and, I’m happy to see, in the view of some of those pro-AGW, they are de-legitimising themselves.

    Nevertheless thank you again for your thoughts. It is always interesting to see how someone else perceives things, even if their perception does not match your own. I’m happy to hear other views, or leave the ‘hiroshima’ topic there, as the other commenters so wish.

  223. I’m not sure what you mean by this

    In my view and, I’m happy to see, in the view of some of those pro-AGW, they are de-legitimising themselves.

    My point was largely that trying to delegitimise people is a flawed way of engaging. It’s a “play the man not the ball” type of argument. From what I can see, people try to delegitimise others when they can’t engage directly with the argument being made. How is it good that they’re delegitimising themselves? You seem to be suggesting that you’re glad that certain people have done something that destroys their credibility.

  224. andrew adams says:

    Rational,

    You must be aware that this is an issue where strong views are held on both sides and there are certain subjects which have been gone over ad nauseum in the past and which people are tired of discussing over and over again.

    So when you show up and start making assertions about ” usual alarmist imagery” and “the discredited hockey stick” I don’t think you can be surprised if people’s immediate reaction is not “well there’s someone whose primare concern here is a genuine interest in the truth”.

    If that is really your primary concern then you may have more luck if you ask questions rather than make assertions and especially avoid making assertions which are obviously likely to produce a hostile reaction.

  225. andrew adams says:

    Rachel,

    In fact, as a journalist, Christopher Booker is supposed to uphold a certain ethical standard the first of which is to “Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.”

    Booker is caught out (again) here.

    http://zelo-street.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/christopher-booker-pants-on-fire.html

  226. BBD says:

    Why has R Opt not criticised Booker’s misrepresentations? Why does R Opt not criticise the GWPF for its incessant misrepresentations?

    Why does he use the term “pro-AGW”? What debate of any “substance” over climate change does he refer to?

    Does R Opt fee a strong affinity for the old motto of the RS?
    ;-)

  227. Rachel says:

    Andrew,
    Amazing! How is he [Christopher Booker] allowed to get away with that? We need to demand more from our journalists but I’m not sure how to do it. And I agree with your earlier comment about RO’s choice of wording.

    BBD,
    YOU WERE RIGHT :-) But I still disagree with your use of the t-word.

  228. Marco says:

    Rational optometrist, without wishing to lay claim to knowing BBD’s mind, I think I do understand why he complains about the “not following through”. You see, if someone comes with a claim, which others believe is based on incorrect information and then rebut with what they perceive is correct information, it can be very frustrating to not see any clear evidence of evolving thinking/knowledge of that someone who made the original claim. Or to put it more blunt: did you learn anything new, and what did you learn that is new?

    The problem is that there are quite a few so-called “concern trolls”. They act as if they have a genuine question or objection, but in reality they are not interested at all in the answer. The easiest way of distinguishing a concern troll from someone with a legitimate desire to learn is that the latter should be willing to indicate what he/she has learned. The former is more likely to go to the next topic. You may be one of those who has no desire to keep poking a wasp’s nest and thus rather move one, but this will for some make it difficult to distinguish you from the concern troll. Unfortunately, the concern troll is much more common than those genuinely interested to learn. This being the Internet and all that…

  229. Rational Optometrist says:

    Unfortunately hostile reactions seem to flow here from the merest of questioning. Admittedly only from one or two – and I appreciate the courtesy I’ve been shown and the responses I’ve had from others. Andrew I’m afraid I don’t know enough to ask the questions you seek. I only wish for further information at this stage and try to avoid making assertions without qualifying them as my own opinion.

    One man’s ad nauseam (how on earth do I italicise) is another man’s introduction.

    Wotts – I am not happy to see people eroding their standing in this debate of their own volition, but in my own (yes – small-minded) way I am happy to see that there are others – from their own ‘side’ no less – who agree with me on this.

  230. Calling scientists hoaxers seems far more alarmist than relating excess energy to nuclear energy. The former is maliciously incorrect. The latter is vivid – perhaps overly so. Still, Booker must bring in the paying punters. The Telegraph backs him, even when he loses court cases against warmists. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Booker#Climate_change

  231. > So when you show up and start making assertions about ” usual alarmist imagery” and “the discredited hockey stick” I don’t think you can be surprised if people’s immediate reaction is not “well there’s someone whose primare concern here is a genuine interest in the truth”.

    More so when Jolife’s name gets invoked by a guy who acts as if he were new here.

  232. BBD says:

    Exactly Willard. I very nearly mentioned that as well, but there were other things…

  233. BBD says:

    Unfortunately hostile reactions seem to flow here from the merest of questioning.

    Don’t be disingenuous. Your commentary here is peppered with contrarian memes.

  234. BBD says:

    Rachel

    But I still disagree with your use of the t-word.

    If it is accurate, why do you disagree with its use?

  235. Rachel says:

    BBD,
    Because I don’t like to be called the t-word myself and I also like to think there’s a more diplomatic way of pointing out flaws in a discussion. Calling somone a troll is unhelpful even if deserved.

  236. BBD says:

    There are boundaries to functional diplomacy, Rachel. There have to be, otherwise some will always take unfair advantage of those acting in good faith.

  237. Rational Optometrist says:

    What a shame! I’ve made a note of all the links provided so far to read up on and thank you for those. Again, no thanks given for the other more hostile comments or perverse speculations as to my intentions. I’ll try not to let them colour my view of the information you provide (in fact – I would be disappointed at myself if I did).

    Thanks to those who positively engaged for their time.

  238. Jhan Deth says:

    I would like to suggest the name Boor Hole or Boor’s Den for the moderated comments destination.

  239. Marco says:

    Bore Hole is already taken by Realclimate!

  240. Rachel says:

    Jhan has suggested boor hole rather than bore hole.

  241. Rational Optometrist,

    Was your comment here

    http://wottsupwiththatblog.wordpress.com/2013/12/01/the-secretive-royal-society/#comment-10146

    the first you ever posted on climate blogs? I don’t recall having read anything by anyone named “Rational Optometrist”. And yet you do seem to show some familiarity with a narrative one can read in our Beloved Bishop’s book, among other places.

    Also, in that comment alone we have your view about appalling censor ships, single-minded clusters of approval-monkeys, usual alarmist menageries, and the concern about “acidification”. Therefore, the hostility card might never have been yours to play.

    In any case, please rest assured that if you insist in discussing the tone of the exchange, you’ll get politer and politer responses. What I can’t assure you is that you’ll appreciate them. After all, BBD is only a little puppy, and has only an acronym in comment with the British Bull Dogs.

    Thank you for your overall concerns.

  242. Erratum:

    > and has only an acronym in comment

    In common.

    ***

    Addendum:

    To add italics or else, use HTML tags.

  243. BBD says:

    Doesn’t he remind you of someone we know and love, Willard?

    N * V?

  244. John Mashey says:

    I just got up, and I’m not going to spend much time on this, as my wondering about R.O.’s nature has been answered and this should be an instructive example . I’ve seen it before and at the end I will note the characteristics.

    0) ” I’ve not seen a reasoned argument making that claim anywhere else.”
    Google: wegman john mashey … not too hard to find, it’s in Wikipedia.
    OR Google: wegman Report … which gets WIkipedia page

    1) BBD gave the 2 links I would have, and I probably would have also linked to Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report (SSWR)
    (which slightly preceded Deep Climate’s “Replication and Due Diligence in the Wegman Report”, so I couldn’t cite that).
    I think that made a pretty strong case that the Wegman Report was at best totally incompetent.
    I might have mentioned FOIA Facts 1 – More Misdeeds By Ed Wegman, Yasmin Said, George Mason University., which notes additional deceptons and mis-use of Federal grant funds by Wegman and Said.

    2) I see WIllard got there first: someone who claims they want to learn, but knows nothing of statistics drops the name of (Ian) Jolliffe, a fine statistician and cordial guy (I had occasion to email him a few years back). And his name is Jolliffe, not Joliffe.
    Now, how would someone do that. R.O. did not mention a source, in fact, R.O. has yet to mention any source. Now, what might the source be? I don’t know, but nby concidemnce do find Andrew Montford, in 2012 quoting a 2008 note by Steve McIntyre, whose *fraudulent* MM2005 is well-explained in links BBD gave, plus the RC link Wotts gave.. Montford often just channels McIntyre, although sometimes adding his own other falsifications (later).

    Montford’s post misrepresents Jeff Masters’ review, and as Wotts mentioned, MBH agreed long ago that they should have used centered PCA, (and p.137 of Mann’s book says that centered PCA is the traditional method, and he wished they’d used it from the start.) Masters is correct to say it’s a good discussion of a (nontrivial) topic. MM fraudulently claimed that hockey-stick was an artifact of decentered PCA. That was false, proved numerous times, because PCA was only used to reduce part of the data, not for the whole hockey-stick, and MM didn’t use the right number of PCs, and of course, there was the clearly-deliberate fraud of 100:1 cherry-pick.

    A simpler version of how statisticians, get mis-used was by giving honest answer A1 to a simple question
    Q: is decentered PCA correct?
    A1: no.

    (At that point, someone can trumpet: “MBH is wrong, see!) and manufacture a faux fight) but that omits the other part, which is:

    A2: But the application and data matter. The obvious thing is to redo the analysis with centered PCA and see if it makes any difference. See SSWR p.20 and especially p.58 on Noel Cressie’s comments, which I summarized as:
    ‘It is exactly what one might expect a busy statistician to say. I would paraphrase the key points as: I concur with the MBH decentering issue, so compute it the “right”way’
    Of course, that had already been done by Wahl and Amman.

    (As a simple analogy for those unfamiliar with PCA, suppose your task was to determine the average height of N=1000 men, but you actually measured N=1001 to get a total, and then still divided by 1000. Your method is clearly *wrong*. Does it matter? No, unless the extra is Godzilla – the error would be miniscule compared to measurement error anyway.
    Would it matter if N=2? it might, if #3 was anything but the average of #1 and #2). Of course, given measurement error, )

    3) Now, I don’t know if Montford was the inspiration for the Jolliffe name-drop, but since that is at least plausible, I’d observe that Montford is at best incompetent, at worst a deliberate falsifier, sometimes bordering on defamation (as of Jon Overpeck). See:
    dog astrology, a comment I made on Wikipedia talk page in 2010.
    I mention the Lindzen quote … where Lindzen made a false claim about Deming. When this was pointed out, Lindzen changed that (since it was demonstrably false) to another, by cherry-picking out-of-context email from Climategate. See difference between V3 and V4 @ arXiv.

    For followup on “dog astrology” see The JSE is A Dog to see what Montford considers a credible source, although actually, he didn’t have the journal, but cited a copy of it at Fred Singer’s website, curiously placed there (against the ruiles) ~3 months before it was actually published.)
    Of course, he relies on the Wegman Report as though it were credible.
    The most amusing thing about this was that the HSII book was getting ~20 comments a day, and after I’d posted “dog astrology” there was stunned silence for day. Then nobody addressed the content or even tried to refute it, but people kept trying to *remove* the comment from the talk page, a Wikipedia no-no. Connolley kept reverting it. Eventually, it aged out and got archived … but it’s still there. The defense against fact was desperate, then they just ignored it, akin to the recent Salby case, where a few folks fought on after the NSF and court cases were shown, but most just ignored it.

    SO: and know nothing of statistics.
    2) But mentions a truly esoteric issue, in this case reference to Jolliffe.
    3) Makes multiple false claims with total certainty, using standard dog-whistle terminology, but never any sources, although some comments seem likely derived from Climate Audit, Bishop Hill or their derivatives.
    4) Dodges good cites to await someone else’s response, and unaware anyone has debunked, when the simplest searches find the history.
    5) Complains of poor treatment.
    ===
    I”ve seen this pattern before. Enough for me.

  245. andrew adams says:

    RO,

    Andrew I’m afraid I don’t know enough to ask the questions you seek. I only wish for further information at this stage and try to avoid making assertions without qualifying them as my own opinion.

    Well talking about “the dicsredited hockey stick” looks like an unqualified assertion to me and kind of implies that you already know enough about the subject to form a firm opinion on it.

    Maybe you didn’t intend to give that impression but in general my advice is when wading into a forum on a subject where you are not so well informed it’s best to be wary of making confident sounding assertions which you can’t back up with evidence.

  246. Rational Optometrist says:

    Well chums – I thought I’d leave it there but as a few questions have been asked I’ll respond.

    Willard – that was indeed my first post and the novelty of it has already worn off. Thanks for your suggestion of using HTML tags, something I hadn’t considered largely because I don’t have a clue what that means. No, no, sit yourself down don’t worry, I’ll google it.

    A-ha.

    In fact, referring to google, it’s so much better to be pointed in the direction of something by someone you are discoursing with, rather than just being told the information is ‘out there’. I thank John for his reply which contained a wealth of information and resources – despite again moving into the realms of character analysis. Once again I shall stoically refuse to let this colour my views of the information.

    It’s true, as you say, I have read other views such as Montford and McIntyre. Andrew I admit I am certainly under-informed but I am prepared to follow any information given and really that is why I am here. There are detailed rebuttals of all points on all sides, and the entire debate commands my attention like the Mariner’s glittering eye.

  247. BBD says:

    There are detailed rebuttals of all points on all sides

    There are detailed and accurate rebuttals of all “sceptic” points. Let’s not get carried away with the jolly old rhetoric (although I don’t mind the odd Coleridge reference). I have no idea why you have come to the so-called debate front-loaded with “scepticsim” but it isn’t the ideal way to start. It’s extremely obvious that you have been listening to the misinformers in preference to the serious science-based sources available. My best advice is to start again and avoid the misinformers like the plague they are.

  248. Steve Bloom says:

    Like several commenters above, I’ve seen the RO movie many times over the last ten years or so and it’s always had the same outcome.

    Wotts, if indeed continued AGW has at least potential horrendous consequences, the case for that being summarized in the new Hansen et al. review paper, what’s wrong with using a different sort of horrendous event as an analogy?

  249. Steve, that is indeed a valid point. If AGW does indeed have potential horrendous consequence, using something horrendous to get people’s attention may well be acceptable. One reason I try not to use it myself is simply to avoid the irritating arguments you end up having with some. I’m fairly certaint, however, that we’re not, in the future, going to be criticising those who used the Hiroshima bomb analogy.

  250. Rachel says:

    For what it’s worth, I don’t have a problem with the bomb analogy at all. I know I’ve said this before but just in case there is still someone who hasn’t heard me say it, I’ll say it again :-)

    After the September 4th 2011 Christchurch earthquake, the media reported to us all that it was the energy equivalent of 67 Hiroshima nuclear bombs speeding into Christchurch.

    There were no howls of protests about the use of this analogy and no complaints or arguments about whether it was immoral to use it. No-one looked out their window expecting to see nuclear bomb-like destruction. Furthermore, it actually helped put into perspective what we had all experienced which was something big.

    At the moment people talk about 2C of warming and this really doesn’t mean much to the general public when they see their local temperature varying by 2C or more from day to day. People also don’t seem to understand that it’s not going to stop at 2C without action on our part. We’re actually looking at a possible 4C by the end of the century. So I am in favour of the bomb analogy if it helps to communicate the gravity of the problem.

  251. There’s also Collin’s post pointing out that some who’ve been highly critical of the bomb analogy, are happy to use it (without irony) in other circumstances.

  252. Rachel says:

    Thanks. Somehow I missed Collin’s post about this. In case people don’t read Collin’s post, which is very good btw, Anthony Watts has used the bomb analogy in a post he made this year about the Russian meteor which was apparently “30 times the energy of the Hiroshima atomic bomb”. How hypocritical is that??

  253. BBD says:

    Link screw-up, sorry:

    Full paper here .

  254. Joshua says:

    RO –

    Hi – as an outsider coming to this thread I think the moderation here is appalling. You’re silencing William whilst allowing other people to voice their rebuttals to him. The rule either applies to everyone or to no-one. Otherwise it’s censorship and the whole thread becomes just a single-minded cluster of approval-monkeys. I’m shocked that you would even entertain going back and deleting past comments.

    A someone who is a tad sensitive to arbitrary (not in the sense of random, but in the sense of subjective) application of the term “troll,” I find your reaction to be overly-dramatic. “Appalling?” “Censorship?” Assuming that the application of the term, and the corresponding moderation was selective (a determination that might be interesting to examine further), it is something that we see throughout the blogosphere. In fact, I can’t think of a single blog where such practices don’t take place, at least to some extent. It is commonplace. So are you frequently appalled, or is that a reaction that you have selectively? Further, how do you defend calling blog moderation “censorship?” It is simply a moderator moderating his blog. William is perfectly free to express his feelings a myriad of venues.

    I’m a non-scientist and whilst ‘ocean acidification’ may be a perfectly clear indicator to those who are more scientifically aware that the ocean is becoming ‘less alkaline’, to people like myself it corresponds with the usual alarmist imagery e.g. ludicrous cartoons of polar bears with their legs ravaged by ocean acid.

    I am a non-scientists also, and like you, I follow the climate wars on blogs. A such, I am fully aware of the context of the argument around the term “ocean acidification.” I would highly doubt that you aren’t also. I highly doubt that given that you know the context, to you the term conjures up images of legs ravaged by ocean acid. Do you have any evidence that a significant number of people have such visualizations? What I see is that the term has become a semantic weapon in the arsenal of “skeptics” – that they use, actually, to cloud the debate, unproductively.

    It is part of a larger pattern that I find, whereby “skeptics” are overly concerned about the impact of terminology on the public’s viewpoint, and build arguments around that concern w/o supporting evidence. We have a significant amount of evidence about many factors that affect the perspectives of the non-scientist public. The term ocean acidification does not seem to be one of them.

    I actually find William’s comments enlightening in as far as they relate to the general picture

    Really? Which comments did he make that provided new information that you haven’t seen in the paste?

    as it is clear that ‘acidic oceans’ are not what’s going on here. ‘?

    Again, you seem to be familiar with the climate wars. As such, I find it hard to believe that you haven’t seen this semantic argument many times in the past.

  255. Joshua says:

    And RO –

    …and the whole thread becomes just a single-minded cluster of approval-monkeys.

    I’ve been reading this blog for a while, and I’d say that “single-minded cluster of approval monkeys” is far from what wotts effectively creates, let alone seeks to create. I’d say that there are any number of ways to express disagreement with him or with the predominate view here w/r/t climate change that will not result in moderation. While that might mean that someone would have to modify their style of posting, it certainly does not mean that comments will be moderated out simply because of disagreement.

  256. I’ve changed the blog name to And Then There’s Physics. If you wish to comment on this post, you can do so here.

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