Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Well this is fun

I know I said it was boring. But not any more!

My instinctive response is:

Peter Gleick, you are a complete and utter twat of the highest order.

It still leaves open the question of the "forged" memo. It does seem more plausible that it was mailed to him, than that he actually wrote it, referring as it does to "high profile climate scientists (such as Gleick)". Rather, his mention on the doc might explain why he was selected as the recipient. OTOH an hour ago I'd not have thought it plausible that he would have actually been the one who obtained all the other files.

I'm laying in stores of popcorn.


John Callender said...

I realize I'm kind of a conspiracy theorist from way back. (I collect them the way some people collect stamps.) But I can't dismiss the feeling that the facts as we know them so far make this sound more like a "false flag" operation, in which Heartland intentionally leaked the original (fake) strategy memo to Gleick in hopes of exposing and neutralizing him if he was incautious enough to publicize it.

I talk about this more in a post at lies.com.

James Annan said...

Yes, that had occurred to me. But then again, why would they bother to put so much correct info in it, rather than wild stuff that would make Gleick look ridiculous if he publicised it? And of course they couldn't have predicted Gleick's subsequent behaviour.

It would be interesting to analyse the original physical document and examine its compatibility with printers in Gleick's possession...

David B. Benson said...

There is popcorn in Japan?

jules said...

At last someone ha said something interesting! Yes there is not only popcorn in Japan, but there are health food shops from which to buy happy freerange corn kernels. There are also pans and stoves. And there is the internet which has a great recipe for caramel sauce, although James is rather sparing with it as he knows exactly how much sugar and butter it requires.

We have sugar too, but nothing like as many kinds as you do. And, usually, we have butter.

David B. Benson said...

Ok, I believe in Tokyo one can buy all that. But surely not in Kamakura!

jules said...

The pan was bought in Yokohama. It is really cool as it has a transparent top so one can enjoy watching the clearly physically impossible popping happening.

All else, including internets, available in Kamakura!

James Annan said...

Kamakura has a bit of a secret double life, actually. On the surface it's a small historic traditional Japanese town, but because of its beauty and history (and convenience for commuting to Tokyo) it's also rather posh. This means there is lots of imported food in the supermarkets, because although they never openly admit it, Japanese people actually prefer foreign food if they can afford it :-)

Not that home-made popcorn is all that expensive.

Richard said...

So many have commented on how the fake memo was seemingly consistent with the Heartland documents.

It occurs to me that Gleick may have done his thing to get the emails, read them, was deeply disappointed in them, and then wrote the fake memo to sex up the documents he had obtained from Heartland.

Then he scanned it on Feb. 13th.

I think this is a possibility.

Steve Bloom said...

Well, apologize, sure, if the's what he thought was right, but I could have have done without the self-flagellatory aspects.

"Twat" indeed (and how very flamed you would be in civilized parts for using such language). More proof that the intersection of climate scientists with people (activists) trying to actually do something about the problem is thin indeed. Anyway, Peter gets a big fat note of thanks from me.

But it is all very popcorny. Ex-journo Revkin looks to have rushed to blog on this to try to control the media spin (who says they're not a herd?), perhaps because the NYT is rumored to be outing the Anonymous Donor in Tuesday's paper and, you know, pearl-clutching beats out actual news any day of the week at that paper.

Steve Bloom said...

"was deeply disappointed in them, and then wrote the fake memo to sex up the documents"

Nice try! Well no, actually. That would make sense if the facts in the one weren't backed up by the rest, but they are. Certainly the one includes a couple of juicier phrases, but it doesn't quite make make sense for anyone to have forged a document just for those.

James Annan said...

On reflection, it does seem a bit ridiculous to think he would have forged it.

Consider: he would have had to have chosen to put his name into it, in a self-aggrandizing manner, without having the sense to realise that of course this would raise his profile above the parapet - not to mention, the added risk that this extra document (which doesn't actually have any significant material to justify the value in writing it) would provide a forensic link back to him. He would also have had to come up with the motivation and inspiration for the rather madcap scheme to get hold of the Heartland docs (and manage to pull it off) all off his own bat without any prompting or even prior knowledge that there were docs just floating around waiting to be leaked.

OTOH if some insider wanted to send off a memo, real or faked or honeytrap or whatever, then the fact that he was mentioned would naturally prompt the sender to think of him as an obvious recipient.

Steve Bloom said...

Yes, plus of late he's probably been quite the topic of discussion in the HI offices due to his recent intrusion onto their Forbes turf.

Tom C said...

Um, no this is not "fun", and Gleick is a slimeball, Bloom. For all the yammering about how the East Anglia E-mails were "stolen" it was apparent from the start that they were released by an insider. And they were not "private" since all this activity was on the public dime. Here, by contrast we have E-mails truly stolen from a private organization. You people have become moral imbeciles.

grinsted said...

Did Gleick verify in any interviews that it truly was him who wrote the admission on Huffington post? I mean you can't be too careful with all this hacking and social engineering going on.

Anyway, if it was him then I can appreciate the frustration, even if I do agree with your initial 'twat' reaction.

grinsted said...

He declined to comment on a guardian piece. That is the closest to a verification I could find.


Martin Vermeer said...

> And of course they couldn't have
> predicted Gleick's subsequent behaviour.

And if they knew, they wouldn't have been that easily tricked into releasing all these docs...

An important point to make here is that the strategy memo apparently allowed Gleick to convincingly impersonate a Board member. Meaning that whoever drafted this memo, had access to inside information from Heartland before Gleick had.

Belette said...

This is fun: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2011EO470009.shtml

GS said...

@Tom C

Isn't this "private organization" a registered charity? Or rather, judging by years of their activity, a lobbying firm, thinly disguised as a "think tank" and abusing charity status?

James Annan said...

"Well, apologize, sure, if the's what he thought was right, but I could have have done without the self-flagellatory aspects."

Steve, I don't know which if any laws he may have broken (AIUI the definition of "fraud" in the UK requires some sort of material gain, for example) but I think you would be better off admitting that what he did was dishonest and unethical at best. Chair of the AGU Task Force on Scientific Ethics??? You've got to be kidding.

bigcitylib said...

And yet the HI may have been damaged financially and in the eyes of the public. Maybe worse if someone starts looking into their taxes.

Hank Roberts said...

The pretext worked and Glieck fooled someone there -- twice -- into sending out their documents.

How common is this?
Is it legal?
Is it ethical?
Look up your organization's rules.


"... Here are a few of the tools and techniques I learned on the job (and which might be helpful to journalists interviewing subjects):

This is the word PIs use to pretend to be someone else in order to gather information ....

The keys to a successful pretext .... Typically, there are alternative pretexts that will elicit the required information.

While researching a news story, you may or may not be permitted to use pretext to gather information. Straight up, it’s lying to obtain information and you need to check out your employer’s journalistic code of ethics regarding investigative journalism to see if you are allowed to use pretext...."

Distinguish this from lying to the public for policy advocacy. Heartland and CO2Science do this.

Is that illegal? Nope. Is it unethical?

Robert said...

James - I think that you and Gavin have had, what in my opinion, is the correct response. Regardless of what one may think of the Heartland Institute, there is no rationalization of Gleick's actions and he has done a disservice to the climate science community.

Jules - what the heck is a free-range corn kernel? Did the corn stalk get off the farm and range in the wild?

birdbrainscan said...

Seeing as you can get butter, sugar, milk, eggs, and I'll assume probably cinnamon as well, I'm wondering if anyone in Japan ever makes french toast? Would you have to top it with jam/fresh fruit, or is there any way to get maple syrup there? Inquiring minds and all that...

Carrick said...

James Annan: "On reflection, it does seem a bit ridiculous to think he would have forged it. "

That seem to me to be a bit like wishful thinking . I find this to be a rather sad and simultaneously pathetic happening, of the "psychological meltdown" variety. Nothing pretty about it, nothing to laugh about, and certainly nothing heroic to cheer for, IMO.

As for the people claiming this kerfuffle hurt HI...you guys really are fooling yourself there. I'd bet if anything, it's been a major fund raising boon, it plays into the persecution complex of that crowd, and especially so after Gleick came out.

Carrick said...

I think this was the citation Belette was trying for

manuel moe g said...

I hope Heartland donations rise too. I think they are doing a rip-roaring job, especially of late, I am giddy about their recent "public relation" efforts in getting so much free coverage, and I want them to be a sponge soaking up Koch Bros cash. And I want them to relax with a Cool Menthol.

Carl C said...

I consider right-wing think tanks to be terrorist groups working to bring down freedom & democracy. Hence any dirt that can be gained on them whether via Wikileaks or other means, is justifiable. To see the crocodile-tears over this versus the gloating & apologism for stealing UEA emails is just extra icing on the czke (or gourmet caramel popcorn). I mean, would you similarly cry about the Pentagon papers and call Daniel Ellsberg a twat? I mean one act of truth & defiance in the face of thousands of acts of corruption, murder, etc?

jules said...

>Jules - what the heck is a free-range corn kernel? Did the corn stalk get off the farm and range in the wild?

Judging from the way they jump happily around in the pan I think that is virtually certain.

birdbrainscan: yes maple syrup (genuine) is available in Kamakura. I don't understand why Americans like to wreck nice food (like apples and coffee and french toast) with cinammon, but Nigella's orange french toast is my favourite.

After James got subjected to holidays in the US over the last few years, he wanted a waffle maker. Having tried the Japanese ones and found they were not hot enough we floundered for a while, even considering buying one on the US base in Yokosuka. We eventually happened upon an import in one of the posh department stores in Yokohama. So we have great waffles too!

James Annan said...

Carl (and others), sure, if it was a journalist, I would probably be enjoying it more. But Gleick is supposed to be a scientist (with a particular bee in his bonnet about ethics!) and above such things. It seems that Gavin has much the same opinion here. Consider what the response would be if Scientist A were to to obtain (and publish) private documents from a rival Scientist B obtained in a similar manner.

I'd also be more inclined to fogive him if there really was a compelling public interest. But all the docs really do is confirm that HI is as sleazy as we all knew it was already.

Carrick said...

Carl C: "I consider right-wing think tanks to be terrorist groups working to bring down freedom & democracy. Hence any dirt that can be gained on them whether via Wikileaks or other means, is justifiable."

Carl seems to have a very different notion that I do of what a democracy is.

His version for example does not allow for dissenting viewpoints from his own, however well founded or otherwise (and in his non-democratic democracy who decides when a criticism is well-founded?).

Also note the nice "the ends justifies the means" philosophy strewn in there too.


Carrick said...

The AGU weighs in:

“AGU is disappointed that Dr. Gleick acted in a way that is inconsistent with our organization’s values. AGU expects its members to adhere to the highest standards of scientific integrity in their research and in their interactions with colleagues and the public. Among the core values articulated in AGU’s Strategic Plan are ‘excellence and integrity in everything we do.’ The vast majority of scientists share and live by these values.

“AGU will continue to uphold these values and encourage scientists to embrace them in order to remain deserving of the public trust. While this incident is regrettable, it should not obscure the fact that climate change is occurring or interfere with substantive scientific discourse regarding climate change.”

The right approach IMO.

Carl C said...

but Carrick, groups like Heartland et al aren't democracy, well only in the spurious US version of "democracy" i.e. the Citizens United ruling whereby groups like Heartland et al can buy candidates as "freedom of speech." So yes, in the face of Daddy Warbucks (Koch bros et al), it is justifiable for the "little guy" to expose these frauds by any means necessary. After all, we don't have the wads of cash to buy elections which is now "legit" thanks to the absurd Citizen's United ruling. I can see how Gleick, as a scientist, overstepped the lines, but I wouldn't mind a Wikileaks et al exposing these scumbags. It's not freedom of speech when the other guys can just pay for silence or information, and the rest of us can't.

steven said...

He wrote it or somebody very familar with his style and zipfs law.

who ever wrote it had access to the other documents. Comes the question: why only send Gleick the worst piece of evidence. unsigned and undated. In fact, taken at face value the memo was more secret than the board papers. So, why if you have access to all those papers, do you only send the worst.

Carrick said...

Carl C, that is a load of bull-crap and you know it.

Advocacy groups are as much a part of the democratic movement as any other element. Heartland gets $400k, the IPCC gets $6 million, US climate science over $2 billion. And you complain they get so much? Sounds more like you complain they get a word in at all.

Then there's this:

"Gleick has done enormous damage to his cause and his own reputation, and it's no good to say that people shouldn't be focusing on it. If his judgement is this bad, how is his judgement on matters of science? For that matter, what about the judgement of all the others in the movement who apparently see nothing worth dwelling on in his actions?"

Are "climate advocate" and "creepy sociopath" synonyms now? Steven Bloom is correct there is a gap between the advocates and the scientists. The scientists are ... sane.

Carrick said...

steven well put ... and the memo doesn't look anything like what it purports to be: No letterhead, no identification of the origin of the document, etc etc etc.

It takes an amazing suspension of disbelief to this document is not a fake or that Gleick if he really received it anonymously wouldn't have immediately recognized it as a fake.

Either suspension of disbelief or plain old wishful thinking. One of those two.

Martin Vermeer said...

> who ever wrote it had access to the
> other documents.

Yep, very true. But steven, if Gleick had, contrary to what he claims, received the whole package in the mail, then he wouldn't have needed to pull his trick to get electronic versions... he could have just forwarded the package to deSmogBlog who would have known what to do with it.

I do think Gleick is telling the truth now. He has a lawyer and a PR professional who both would make sure to inform him on the unwisdom of being less than truthful at this point.

crandles said...

Journalists often have a public defense and I would have thought it possible that this might also apply to Gleick.

If he has forged or changed anything then I see no defense to liable laws for harm to HI reputation.

If as he says he received these documents through anonomous smail mail, what was he ethically supposed to do? Just return them to HI or is there a public interest in disclosing them?

If they are fake, disclosing them could be liable harm to HI reputation. But not disclosing could be a failure of the public interest requirement if they are genuine. Therefore it seems reasonable to try to establish if documents are genuine. He has obviously gone too far in this step.

What should he have done to try to ascertain genuineness? My reaction is have a chat to a journalist who would protect their source and see what they will do if the documents are passed on to them. They would probably contact HI saying they are intending to run a story but want to establish whether certain phases do occur in the original documents.

Suppose this happened, HI denied the phrases, and the media involved didn't run the story but you still suspect the documents are genuine. Where then does the public interest argument take you?

D. Robinson said...

Hi Carl,

You have to realize that for every conservative think tank like HI, there's a liberal think tank with the same murky 'non-profit' status and agenda based actions. CAP, CBPP whomever.

The ties to the Koch brothers are window dressing. Once you start giving xxx millions to different foundations the money goes all over the place. No doubt Bill gates money ends up in some pretty crappy places to.

Think tanks are going to support causes, studies and scientists who's work backs up their agenda.

James nailed it, we already knew about HI, and Gleick is a complete ass.

Carl C said...

sorry but I don't buy that "the left & right-wing think-tanks balance each other out." That's the same "fair & balanced" BS that you have an actual climate scientist presented and then an idiot lobbyist like Myron Ebell, as if he can provide cogent scientific rebuttal. The idea that the oil company & Koch bros & Richard Mellon Scaife funded think tanks & magazines are evened out by PETA or whatever is just laughable. It's like saying Small Country A is in the UN; and the USA is in the UN, so it's all even. Hence, these HI jerkoffs should be exposed by any means necessary.

Carrick said...

So Carl is bent out of shape over $400k coming into a conservative think tank (which arguably deals with other issues, the Koch money for example was targeted at world hunger).

How about for comparison Pacifica Institute.

They list a cool $2.3 million.

Using Carl's logic, this is OK why?

Who gives the blessing on it being OK for Pacifica to be funded at 6 times the level of one of the few conservative think tanks that even address global warming.

What controlling body would give the blessing for which organization received funding? Would they require parity on issues like this (in which case, cash-strapped organizations like HI would benefit)?

And other what plausible definition of "democracy" does this sort of control of freedom of speech fit into?

I'm still waiting for something that is remotely logical in terms of an explanation for this one.

Carrick said...

The real problem here is Carl is just shooting himself in the foot by advancing this argument (in other words following in the lead of Peter Gleick).

If you want to defeat nonsense, the way you do is, is let the people who are spewing nonsense, spew it, then trust on the public to be able to sort the wheat from the chaff.

This has been known to be effective since the days of Socrates.

I think Carl and many others blame the conservative groups (who are very marginalized within US society in general) for something that is their own fault: You guys have the money, the "brains" (Gleick was a MacArthur fellowship recipient, nobody on Heartland probably knows how to work a pencil), the media sympathy, the innate "appeal to authority" of claiming to represent scientists...

..and you're still blowing it.

Introspection can be a useful tool at time, I'd suggest it's time that the advocates who are giving the thumbs up on Peter Gleick's nauseatingly poor behavior make use of it.

Steve Bloom said...

Maybe that stuff passes muster elsewhere, Carrick, but around here I think you need arguments without obvious gaping holes. Just sayin'.

Carl C said...

so as usual, Carrick is cherry-picking donors to show some ersatz "equivalence" between think-tank funding. And to say that con/neocon think-tanks are "marginalized" in the US is laughable. At the very least they have 24/7 access on Faux News, the Wall Street journal etc etc.

When is the last time (if ever) you saw, say, Noam Chomsky on prime time? But you see the likes of Myron Ebell & clowns from AEI & HI all the time as a "rebuttal" to any climate story (as well as other stories).

Carrick probably believes the myth that the corporate media is a "liberal" one too. If that were true, well, as I said, where are all the Noam Chomsky interviews?

D. Robinson said...

Re Carl:

"The idea that the oil company & Koch bros & Richard Mellon Scaife funded think tanks & magazines are evened out by PETA or whatever is just laughable."

There has got to be exponentially more money on the believer side of the debate than on the skeptical. In addition to the US Government's investment in climate change research & communications, the UN's, Germany's, Spain's, France's etc, Moveon.org's, Center for American Progress's, Brookings etc etc, UEA, MIT, NOAA, NASA, etc they also have Soros, Buffet, Gates etc, etc.

AGW scientists / activist groups aren't being outspent, they're not the little guys. Yet climate change science and activist communities can't stand up to the (pittance of a) negative response from all powerful far reaching sinister terrorist organizations like HI and AEI?

Good grief.

Carrick said...

Steven Bloom: "Maybe that stuff passes muster elsewhere, Carrick, but around here I think you need arguments without obvious gaping holes. Just sayin'"

Obvious gaping holes? If they were that obvious, I suspect you would be able to point them out, and no doubt would have taken some pleasure in doing so.

Carrick said...

Carl, you've sure managed to conflate enough different things in three short paragraphs. That's quite an accomplishment!

Equating the number of annual Noam Chomsky interviews with the press with the view of the press on AGW has to take the prize though. That's literally a LOL moment for me, thanks! I mean this is just complete lunacy.

In terms of the question of liberal/conservative media bias... wouldn't you want to actually look at studies for that, or is that just not touchy-feely enough to "pass muster" in the climate activism crowd?

You've also conflated liberal/conservative bias (a subject which you'd carefully avoided any scholarship on) with the treatment of the media with AGW issues and science in general. I'm just going to that out, it's not worth carrying the thought any further, if you can't see that's a problem or walk through from there to the implications of that on your own. [There are some interesting issues here, it's not black and white, but too bad you've smeared these issues out by resorting to sentimentalism.]

Critical thinking, evidence based reasoning, connecting logical premises to conclusions, these really are alien things to you, aren't they?

Anyway, thanks for your comments. Really serious there.

Together with Bloom, you have very clearly illustrated the giant chasm that does separate us scientists from you activists.

The biggest tool that the scientist has in convincing the public or the politicians, is in clearly stating what he knows to be true and what he doesn't know with equal lucidity, and to not paper over the uncertainties just because it makes things a little less convenient. When he ceases to to that, he also cedes his moral authority.

For myself, I really don't want you around. If I'm going to cede my moral authority, I'd rather do it by a conscious act, and not become some (perhaps well-meaning) fool does some ape-shit stupid act and the public ends up conflating his unethical behavior with my own personal standards for responsible conduct of research.

I don't want you saying you represent me in anyway or my interests. I don't mind you speaking your mind, unlike you I don't favor censorship of any person's language, but please, please make it very clear I and probably most other scientists who are behaving as scientists and not activists don't approve of what you say, how you say it, or what you are willing to do, or even the behaviors that you endorse in other activists.

I also hold no hope that you or the crowd that is running the AGW activist movement at this point in time has any chance whatsoever in persuading the public to change their views on climate change. You make me cringe with your borderline sociopathic views, I can only imagine the response that a layperson would have to this sort of over-the-top rhetoric.

Hank Roberts said...

I asked earlier:

> Is it ethical?
> Look up your organization's rules.

Note the AGU hasn't had any rules so far; their task force was charged with considering them.

Ironically, Glieck was on that group -- and may have had more personal concern about ethics than others. I mean, what ethics does a geophysicist need? Rocks are rocks.

Someone tell me, why was this being considered by the AGU?

What if they do come up with ethical rules for geophysicists -- would employees of the fuels industries be expected to weigh ethics in how they do their jobs?

This could have become a problem for the industry.

This could have become a problem for, oh, Patrick Michaels, to pick a name out of a hat.


Carl C said...

I think my point is quite illustrative -- for all the screechings that the corporate mainstream media is "liberal" -- why do I never see Noam Chomsky on a typical show? It's rare enough that I see liberal economists such as Paul Krugman or Robert Reich. Yet one can always find HI & AEI jerkoffs on the so-called "liberal" media (and of course they are household names on Faux News). So look into this reality rather than post up more opinion papers from AEI.

What is actually conflated is that climate science skepticism is lumped together with other right-wing cause celebres from anti-abortion to pro-war to pro-death-penalty to pro-Christian-indoctrination in US schools etc etc ad nauseum.

Look at how (from my Oxford experience with British & European Christian climate scientists) they take "stewardship of the earth" to mean (in the US peculiar version of Christianity) "domination of man over the earth" as one simple example.

Frankly your pseudo-intellectual posturing & flipping the tables so that stagnant corporate apologists are the "activists" against some huge evil conglomeration of scientists is just laughable.

Carrick said...

Carl: "I think my point is quite illustrative -- for all the screechings that the corporate mainstream media is "liberal" -- why do I never see Noam Chomsky on a typical show? It's rare enough that I see liberal economists such as Paul Krugman or Robert Reich."

This is argument by anecdote, so it's not proof of anything, being only our personal and limited observations ---and your conclusions by the way are strongly in conflict with more objective bases for measuring media bias.

The question you raise in any case is unrelated to the question of the treatment of AGW by the media. If you want to start yourself on a road to discovery of ideas you hadn't thought of before, who has a larger viewership, CBS evening news, or Fox News?

The question of how the media covers AGW is a meta-analysis in its own right, and trying to reduce it to what the Wall Street Journal or Fox News covers really doesn't do this question justice.

Whether I agree or disagree with you on any given issues, I encourage you to expand more effort learning to think critically and to use evidence based analysis in preference to anecdote and story telling.

....and that's about all I have energy for tonight.

James Annan said...

Hank, I think it's a risk to double down on the provenance of the "fake" being as Gleick describes. It could be true - it would have been breathtakingly stupid of him to forge it - but if he actually did forge it, then any attempts to excuse the impersonation are moot. Which, incidentally, one may reasonably consider it already to be, in the context of the AGU statement (irrespective of them having actually defined their ethics policy yet).

My take on Gleick's interest in ethics is not so much that there was a woolly area that needed serious thought, as that he views himself as participating in a battle for Good against Evil, and had hoped to be able to use it as a weapon to beat down his enemies with.

Brian said...

D. Robinson: I'll take on that challenge over equivalency on the right and left. My previous work was with an environmental education/advocacy organization. We didn't list a person as chairman of the board who had been dead for two years. We didn't have massively unbalanced accounts nor engage in penny stock speculation with assets. We didn't lie about whether lobbied and carefully enumerated how much we did. We stuck closely to the truth in education, as could be seen by the fact that we often took on a powerful private university over land use issues, one that would've been eager to scream at us for anything that was inaccurate.

That was a relatively small, regional organization, and we far outperformed the ethical standards that John Mashey identified as failing at groups like SEPP and Heartland.

GS said...


There's no more reason to "balance" political opinions on AGW than there is to "balance" opinions as to whether two times two is four or five. And "four and a half" is not a "reasonable, balanced view". Media should be obliged to report the scientific consensus, not every crackpot idea that's easily proven wrong and has repeatedly been proven wrong -- that's the mission of propaganda outlets.

Carl C said...

Carrick - it's funny you exhort others to "think critically" yet you still act as if science is something to be debated between actual scientists & Myron Ebell....

Carrick said...

Carl, this little exchange between us is really illustrative of the great divide that separates scientists like me from activists like you.

You actually think that your personal experiences watching television trumps peer-review, neutrally based research, and further the fact that the particular channels you watch don't show your favorite left-leaning commentators is somehow evidence that there is a media bias.

Wow! That's amazing.

The real problem is not only can you not think critically, and you don't use evidence based reasoning, you have no friggin' clue how science even works, or if you do, you don't apply it to your own thinking, which is pretty much the same thing.

And the real problem is people like you are claiming to represent the through processes of people like myself or James Annan.

How did you come about believing that global warming is a threat? Did your commentator on TV tell you this, did that beetle that nests in your left foot whisper it in your ear, what?

From what I can see it had nothing to do with siting down and critically examining theory and measurement, and coming to a profound realization that this stuff is real, nobody's made any glaring errors (that overturn the basis for AGW, mistakes always get made, even by smart people), etc.

I can tell you that is the process I used... and because of that I'm extremely confident that any open discussion where the skeptics are allowed to speak, and enough time is given to fully explore the issues, that the warming skeptics will come across as jacked-up wackos.

The trouble for black and white thinkers like you and Bloom is everything is black and white, "you're for us or against us". There can't be any "well this part has been well established, but we can't make any direct attributions over here, because it would take 300 years of observations to establish it, etc.".

So when you meet anybody who is skeptical for example of the relationship between the Egyptian revolution and global warming (where Bloom decided I must be the enemy because I didn't agree with a crock of shit that Eli was passing off as reasoning), that person automatically is the enemy, and like any of the enemy, must be attacked because reason is impossible with him.

Black and white thinking like that leads to many enemies and few friends, just like poor assed logic like you've shown in your arguments on equating whether the non-climate-expert Noam Chomsky with media treatment of AGW will gain you no new converts.

About all I have to say... you're obviously one of those people immune to reason, so this discussion will loop forever without stopping (or until one of us dies from old age or drowns from sea level rise ;-)). As a result I predict you'll do more damage to the cause you are trumpeting than good, I just hope to not be part of your collateral damage.

Last word to you, if you want it.

Carrick said...

make that "the thought processes" not "the through processes".

Yea to auto spell correcting.

Carl C said...

haha again Carrick tries to flip the tables by claiming to be a scientist and not an activist! OK, so you're a "scientist" who just happens to be in opposition to the many times more scientists in this actual field who say you are full of it; and you haven't provided anything new to the table other than the usual crap I can hear on Faux News......

Carl C said...

also I have never ever claimed "to represent the through processes of people like myself or James Annan." There's a few intersecting areas where I agree with James Annan and the many other climate scientists who's research has led to the notion of anthropogenic global warming.

Instead of posturing yourself as a "great scientist" & "great thinker" and "great contrarian" or whatever you fancy yourself to be --- how about some actual references to your peer-reviewed published work, and let us be the judge of things? It seems you offer a lot of pretentious bluster with nothing to back it up?

GS said...


I'm afraid it's still your rants vs. the unequivocal opinion of the scientific community. Each and every point of the reasoning in support of the AGW theory can be backed up with volumes of research -- as opposed to the AGW denial, which is neither "skepiticism" (as it continually requires leaps of faith in reasoning), nor supported by the available evidence. There's no equality sign between scientific knowledge and anti-science crusade. Just as there wasn't one e.g. when the tobacco industry created and inflated uncertainty about the tobacco smoking-cancer link, for decades after the link had been established by science beyond reasonable doubt.

Carrick said...

GS: There's no more reason to "balance" political opinions on AGW than there is to "balance" opinions as to whether two times two is four or five. And "four and a half" is not a "reasonable, balanced view". Media should be obliged to report the scientific consensus, not every crackpot idea that's easily proven wrong and has repeatedly been proven wrong -- that's the mission of propaganda outlets.

I'd say you're wrong with exact phraseology of the language you use, but I think you're also generally right in the thrust of your comment, but to do fair treatment would require much more substantial treatment that we can give here in this thread. See how much of this you agree with:

I think you do need balance in media coverage. But one needs to recognize that balance is not the same thing as equating the scientific understanding with every crackpot theory out there (wing-nut left as well as wing-nut right applies here).

If you exactly equate some nut-job's argument that it hasn't warmed since 1880 with the body of evidence that contradicts him, you haven't achieved balance. If you equate the discussion of sea level rise by a politician that thinks we'll get a 5-m rise by 2050 with the IPCC findings that say it won't, you haven't achieved balance, and you've actually undermined the scientific research that you as the overzealous journalist were trying to bolster. (And then there's the issue with the IPCC's overly conservative views on sea level change probably driven by policy makers rather than by science...and that's where people like Ira Flatow of NPR come in).

Anyway, I think it's a challenging subject for journalists, because "fake balance" isn't the same thing as true balance. Balance puts an equal amount of sanity on both sides of the scales. If one guy is arguing the Earth is round and the other than its shaped like a banana, the first makes it on the science program, the second gets lampooned in a comedy skit. Simple as that.

Carrick said...

GS: I'm afraid it's still your rants vs. the unequivocal opinion of the scientific community

Which rants would those be? Can you quote one for me? LOL, good grief.

There's no equality sign between scientific knowledge and anti-science crusade.

Can you point to where I said there was? You appear to be no more gifted at reading my mind than you are at reading my prose.

Of course, I would say there is no equal sign between scientific views and crackpot ideas, but I would go further and say the inequality exists regardless of whether they belong to the category "anti-science crusade" or "AGW crusade".

I blame activism for the erosion of support of the climate science in the US and other countries on people who behave as activists, even if they also sometimes act as real scientists (this erosion not limited to the US, it's pretty much world-wide, regardless of whether that fits your rhetoric). Yes it's true the right-wingers play a role to, but if they didn't have you guys as easy targets, I personally think they'd have absolutely no traction with the public.

So in a nut shell, here's my views:

1) AGW groups receive much heavier funding than anti-AGW groups. The ratio is at least 10 to 1 between them, and more like 1000 to 1 between AGW science and anti AGW propagandists.
2) In spite of this funding disparity, anti-AGW groups have been highly effective in undermining public trust in the AGW science. The data for this is there in plain view for all to see, so it demands a sensible model of "how this can be."
3) I think the reason for this is not because the scientists aren't acting as activists, I think it's because activists are trying to pass off their own (sometimes) bat-crazy views as being part of the scientific consensus.
4) It's very easy for the anti-AGW crowd to shoot down wing-nutterier, and even easier to conflate this undermining the AGW science because the conflation between the bat-crazy views has been done for them by the activists (who defend this conflation when confronted by scientists). And even if the scientist chooses to act like an activist in certain forums, they can use that to say "see this person is an activist, how can you trust the impartiality of his science?"
5) Wrong is wrong. If what person does is wrong, it doesn't make it more right because "his heart is in the right place [tm]".
6) Defending an inexcusable action is the same as endorsing that action, and conflating your activist views with those of the AGW scientific community, allows the anti-AGW group to easily make the argument that the AGW scientific community endorses these unethical and inexcusable actions.

Which is how we got to where we are right now in this discussion:

What Gleick did was wrong. He needs to be rounded condemned for his actions, and suffer the same consequences that say Steven McIntyre would suffer were he to do the same thing.

Touting him as a hero is just providing more traction for the anti-AGW group, and makes it that much harder for people who are genuinely speaking out and discussing what we genuinely know about the AGW science to gain public trust.

It's gotten bad enough that I have friends who are seasoned physicists (all lifetime Democrats) who have lost trust in the ability of the AGW community, and it is an uphill battle to get them to regain that trust once it is lost.

And this is all the time I have to "discourse" with people who keep their fingers in their ears so they don't have hear things they don't like. Last word to you if you want it.

Carrick said...

Carl C: how about some actual references to your peer-reviewed published work, and let us be the judge of things? It seems you offer a lot of pretentious bluster with nothing to back it up?

I'm not necessarily posturing myself as a great thinker, certainly not in any pretentious fashion and it does you no favor to your own credibility to lie about it.

I'm really saying you're not a great thinker, just a mediocre one. I see myself and James as similar thinking, I don't claim to be smarter (or necessarily dumber than him), it's more of a shared philosophical view of how you go about establishing what is true that most scientists attain through years of experience.

But if you want to play credential games, my publication record is actually pretty reasonable if that what you wanted to know.

According to Google Scholar, my five top publications have in order 354, 258, 161, 138 and 118 citations in that order. I've written papers varying from hearing science (modeling and experiment) to experimental gravitation to high energy physics to atmospheric physics.

I had seven publications before completing my Ph.D. and well over 100 total pubs, including a review article in Nature magazine and one published peer-reviewed manuscript at this point. My Ph.D. thesis was published in an abridged form as an entire issue of Annals of Physics. I'm also a member in three scientific societies and a Fellow in one of them.

OK, it's your turn. I'm expecting an empty cup.

But how does any of this have to do with your inability to think critically or evaluate your arguments based on evidence? Arguments don't depend on credentials.

A thing is true regardless of who says it, and the flaws in your reasoning is plainly there for anybody who wants to see, to see.

Carrick said...

For an example of how credentials don't make you automatically right which is why it's foolish to challenge people on what their credentials are (Carl's attempt falls under appeal to authority, failed):

Look up Claes Johnson's credentials in numerical methods. Now, that, that's a guy with a real citation record. In addition, he's a very bright guy without any doubt.

He just has a bat-shit crazy theory that mixes up classical and quantum mechanical notions of matter that ends up arguing against the existence of photons.

I don't think he's part of any right-wing conspiracy, just very, very confused.

Carrick said...

Carl, my last word on this... I am a scientist, I don't practice advocacy and I am in agreement with the consensus on AGW.

My problem is I just fucking hate activists and what they are doing to science and its reputation.

I hope that clears things up for you.

Carl C said...

so you won't even list some publications, just anonymous references that anyone can make up? How unimpressive. You won't even say what field you're in? And there's nothing in my posts here which you could say I am not "critically thinking." I stated my opinion that HI & AEI et al are spurious groups with ulterior, non-scientific motives. You lack critical thinking skills if you take them at face value as some sort of "peer review" of climate science (as obviously the peer review, with it's ups and downs, of climate papes has taken care of that already).

You are the one spinning HI et al as some sort of "free speech" advocates just trying to get their views shown (as if scientific research is debateable a la social policies). I show that they have far more than "free speech" as these right-wing think tanks get more coverage & representation on issues than any one scientist or group of scientist. Your cowardice on refusing to list a few representative publications says a lot. You aren't even clear on "activism" of any sort, nor how it relates to science. My guess is you're at a shit school and/or in a shit field (if you really are a "scientist")....

andrewt said...

CarlC, given Carrick's uncommon first name and the details of his publications you can quickly verify what he says w/google scholar.

Carl C said...

I did take a peak but there's a lot of "Carrick's". Anyway if he feels the need to remain anonymous, fine, it just doesn't say much for his "arguments" (such as they are).

First - I offered my opinion on how this is like an Ellsberg/Pentagon Papers "leak" or Wikileaks -- Carrick spun it as (somehow) stomping on the freedom of speech of him, HI, and James Annan. It's odd that Carrick can consider right-wing think tanks such as HI & AEI as some sort of "level-playing field" to enhance democracy, ie the spreading of misinformation & propaganda is somehow better than truth & scientific findings in a democracy. Very Orwellian indeed.

Then he somehow makes a leap to I'm "not a critical thinker" based on this. Then he won't say what his papers are that makes him such a pompous ass. I mean, hell, Fred Singer (of HI ;-) can point to a long list of papers he's on and he's still a sellout nutjob. But at least I know where that nutjob is from. I mean hell I'm on two Nature papers but never consider myself a scientist (I'm a hell of a computer geek though! ;-)

well that's my last word on the subject, I think it's been flogged to death by now!

Carrick said...

Carl C, I choose not to put my last name on blogs, it's a choice I make for reasons that have nothing to do with you. But I generally try to provide enough information that you would have no trouble tracking me down, as andrewt pointed out. This isn't that different than Tamino not broadcasting his name, but he makes it really easy to figure out who he is none the less.

You asked a question about my background, I answered it as well as I needed for you to answer any further questions on your own, and I would guess the real reason you didn't like my answer is because of the bind it puts you in. I could give you links to papers that I think are cool, but they are behind pay walls so I'm not sure that would help you much.

You also misrepresent my criticism of you,but I think that is obvious to anybody who's bothered to read the thread to this point.

Peace and be done with it.

James Annan said...

I don't think Carl is really an "activist", he just seems to hate the US right wingnuts - and it's hard to fault him on that :-)

I am surprised to see the number of people lining up to present pitifully poor arguments that Gleick is innocent of the "fake" (eg here and here). ISTM that there are a number of steps he could take to support his claim, but he has not yet done so publicly. There could still be a lot more egg to be worn on various faces.

Carrick said...

If Carl's not an activist, my apologies for branding him as one. ;-)

Carrick said...

Posted for the popcorn eaters,

here's the emails that Gleick exchanged with HI. That's actually an amazing regarding the amount of effort that Gleick went to a lot of trouble in impersonating a board member. What a hero. >.<

There is also a request for funds by HI at the bottom of the link.

I'm not asking that people here donate, ;-) but it's obvious that HI thinks the scandal helps with the fund raising.

Brian said...

James - if I were Gleick's lawyer, I'd tell him that I will quit the moment he speaks publicly without my prior consent, and then never give my consent. He can't help himself on legal issues by talking about any of this, only hurt himself.

His PR guy is probably giving the exact opposite advice tho.

Carrick - speaking as an activist, I can tell you that activist groups on any side of a spectrum will use any excuse to try and raise money. Whether HI expects to raise money on net from all this is a totally different question. They seem to get very little from small open solicitation donors, while their big donors might be scared some, esp. Mr. Anonymous and esp. because of violations that John Mashey dug up.

Carrick said...

Brian thanks for the comments.

I'm not sure anybody likely to donate to HI is going to be dissuaded from doing so by anything an activist like Mashey writes.

Personally, I've never been particularly convinced by Mashey's rhetoric and have let him know that, probably earning me a place in his "kill file", not that I could give a crap one way or the other.

Some people can handle critical comment,s others just go apoplectic. Either way it tells me something.

Steve Bloom said...

Gee, Carrick, you talk such a sciencey game and yet your content is just standard-issue libertarian concern trolling. Go figure.

Y'know, for your routine to have even a shred of credibility we'd need to see a lot from you on the little "science" industry composed of Singer, Idso, Michaels, etc., yet oddly they don't appear to bother you much. So the evidence would appear to be that you just really, really dislike the "left-wing" variety of activist, who as coincidence would have it are the ones in support of the science. Go figure.

At risk of repeating myself, yes, you're really that transparent.

Carrick said...

More bizarre, barely sentient nonsense from Bloom.

I'm not a libertarian and I don't have any idea why he's thinks that I have any regard for the work of Singer, Idso or Michaels or that I share any libertarian views of theirs. They aren't even on my radar as interesting to read.

Bloom should either point to where I've ever commented favorably on either of these three, or Bloom should admit he makes up trash about other people.

Is there a "I don't accept the work of Fred Singer" form I forgot to sign? LOL, what complete idiocy.

Carrick said...

Bloom: "So the evidence would appear to be that you just really, really dislike the "left-wing" variety of activist, who as coincidence would have it are the ones in support of the science"

Actually I think you "left wing variety activists" don't actually accept the science, because I think you lack the both intellect and the training to understand it. You only make an appearance of accepting the science when it fits in with your agenda, and you ignore it when it doesn't.

It's just lip-service to science when it fits your very-non-science driven activist agenda, little more.

[Obviously this is an over generalization. There are people like Bert who don't at all fit that characterization.]

Steve Bloom said...

Just keep your eye off the ball, right, Carrick? And maybe try growing out your forelock so it covers the big red "Culture Warrior" stamp on your forehead.

Carrick said...

What is that twaddle you're even on about now, Steven? I've no idea.

I take this vapid response as evidence that you are admitting you were lying in your previous comment claiming I was a libertarian [*]. This should go well your already well deserved reputation as the Asperberger's Syndrome poster child.

[*] Clues for Sherlock: a) If you find any writings of my on libertarianism, it will say something along the lines that it is another washed up political theory from the 19th century. b) I've never written any commentaries on Singer, I have no idea what is organically wrong with his brain but it's a bit creepy, kinda like with Bloom. c) Michaels and Idso? Clowns on parade.

Carrick said...

Here's an amusing and timely link (ok I was looking at Anthony's website, I was bored, sue me).

Table 1
Categories of Deceitful Tactics and Abuse of the Scientific Process
(source: P.H. Gleick, Pacific Institute, 2007)

There are many tactics used to argue for or against scientific conclusions that are inappropriate, involve deceit, or directly abuse the scientific process.

Personal (“Ad Hominem”) Attacks
This approach uses attacks against the character, circumstances, or motives of a person in order to discredit their argument or claim, independent of the scientific evidence.
Guilt by Association
Challenge to Motive (such as greed or funding)

Count how many of these tactics Steve Bloom has used in two, back-to-back comments.

Is it really the goal of climate activists to antagonize the entire scientific community? I'm just asking because that seems a bit counter-productive to me.

James Annan said...


I think that backs up my point about Gleick's interest in ethics being primarily as a stick to beat the sceptics with. Which makes the schadenfreude even more acute.

James Annan said...

Incidentally, and not pointing at anyone in particular, but perhaps some of the rhetoric could be dialed back a bit...

JohnMashey said...

Since the back-and-forth seems to have died off, I offer a related, factual issue, that of Heartland's education plans. Many people went nonlinear over the 2012 plan, but this was old hat, Heartland has been trying this for years, ineptly enough that Wojick's proposal may have been a step up.
See Fakeducation For Years From Heartland. Do not miss the 5-minute trailer from Sovereignty International, which has better-than-expected production values and a very earnest spokeswoman.

See also Gareth Renowden's nice dive into the lesson plans.

Carrick said...

John was is the goal here?

Is it to discredit HI, prevent them from presenting their views, or something else?

It seems to me strictly from a Socratic perspective you want them to try and articulate their viewpoint.

Since they are largely wrong, wouldn't it be fairly easy to dismantle them in a public debate?

Brian said...

Carrick, keep in mind that the HI "education" effort is in the field of activism, which you don't appear to consider part of your expertise.

I do have some expertise in some aspects of activism. In my career, I've won much more often than I've lost when I'm on defense, trying to stop something I oppose, rather than trying to achieve something I support.

Climate denialists and their backers are on defense, mostly, and the HI effort fits into that defensive activism of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Inserting their slick package of lies into the educational curriculum in the conservative 30% of the US population in states controlling the minority of US Senate sufficient to maintain a filibuster, isn't going to help or lead to a productive debate. It's about good defensive work, by the bad guys.

Carrick said...

Brian I was asking something slightly different here. I admit I have no experience or expertise with activism (nether does it appear do many who term themselves activists).

Is the goal to prevent Heartland from speaking, and if so, why would trying to prevent them from talking make your position look better?

To address your comments, technically you can't win by playing defense, you can only avoid losing, and hope the other side plays themselves out. But they've no where near the resources the activists do, so what the's the problem with direct confrontation of their belief systems here?

I've never seen anybody win by refusing to debate, unless they've already won (you avoid debating if you've won because then it can only hurt you), but you guys are losing ground with the public (and you've hardly won at this point), so what gives?

Why the refusal to engage mano-a-mano?

Brian said...

Carrick, no one can't keep HI from speaking, it's about whether they can insert misinformation and lies into school curricula.

I think your discussion of being on defense is cramped and doesn't reflect the reality of activism (the other term for activism could "politics"). You keep distinguishing HI from activists - of course they're activists, just like those of us on the other side. We're not morally equivalent, but some of the tactics and most of the strategic analysis of how to win applies to either side.

Of course you don't debate when you're winning - standard tactic of frontrunners in political campaigns. And while denialists are on defense overall, as to the curricula issue they're on offense. For tactical reasons we shouldn't give them an opening to spread lies to children, and for moral reasons we also shouldn't.

Activism has to be evaluated at both tactical and ethical levels. At tactical levels, both sides should have similar conclusions as to what's the best approach, but ethical evaluations are different.

Carrick said...

Thanks for your comments, Brian.

I'm not sure my views are as cramped as you think. Of course I recognize that Heartland is behaving as activists, they obviously aren't pro-mitigation advocates when is the only distinction I meant.

On this though, "For tactical reasons we shouldn't give them an opening to spread lies to children, and for moral reasons we also shouldn't."

Of course I agree with the general sentiment, but who gets to decide what is truth and what is lies? Can't people make up their own mind on what is true if given good enough information, without having to be spoon fed?

It does sound like you are advocating a form of restriction of speech though---only your platform should be allowed to be taught to children.

Is this not true? Is it the children you don't trust, or the parents and teachers?

I'm not necessarily advocating including their literature into student education, but I'd like to see it debated in public. I see people saying dumb things as a teaching moment for those with open minds, and try and make use of the opportunity when it avails.

My inclination is to let the local communities make the decision, and welcome the opportunity for pubic debate, and especially engage local scientists to speak (on either behalf). This seemed to work out (as well as it ever will) with respect to attempts to get creationism taught in science class.

I'll admit this is sort of my approach

"Better information is information that people notice. It’s information that’s tailored to what people are interested in. The response to denialism is not alarmism, it’s context. I think it’s surprising how genuinely interested members of the public are in scientific subjects, and how woefully inadequately they are served by their general sources of information. There’s a huge role for scientists and journalists and educators in providing better information. We can do a lot more. The vast majority of the public doesn’t know what to think about climate change."

When I talk to lay people, that's pretty much where I find them... receptive, but confused by contradictory information sources.

Please excuse the skepticism here, but I think it has been earned: Given the hot mess that AGW activists have made I would like to see some real proof that you guys actually know what you're doing, that your approach is really working and you really have this "under control."

Carrick said...

Regard local debate on AGW education--and speaking to winning strategies---it's not a battle HI has any hope of winning, the numbers aren't there for them, either personnel or funding.

(In military strategy terms this is known as defeat in detail.)

Brian said...

As to whether "your approach is really working and you really have this "under control," that's easy to answer - no, we don't have it under control.

I'm certainly open to other approaches, but I think just the fact that HI wants to do it suggests it's going to help them and hurt the effort to mitigate AGW.

Carrick said...

Brian: "I'm certainly open to other approaches, but I think just the fact that HI wants to do it suggests it's going to help them and hurt the effort to mitigate AGW."

I suspect that calculation is based on their assumption of a continued non-engagement by their opponents.

Look through their literature--it's rife with the assumption that you guys never actually are willing to debate them (and they present this to their sponsors as strengthening their case).

If they had one of their whatchamacallit conferences and the usual 95+% of people who accept global warming were to actually show up, their intended message would get drowned.