The Left stages a two minute hate on Nate Silver, Roger Pielke Jr (& me)

Summary: This week many on the Left served a banquet of snark on Nate Silver and his new 538 website for the sin of posting an article by Roger Pielke Jr (Prof Environmental Studies, U CO-Boulder). An article well-supported in the climate studies literature, and consistent with the work of the IPCC (they conceal these things from their followers; least they ruin the narrative). These posts demonstrate the ineffectual tactics that have drained away the Left’s support during the past 3 decades, and after 25 years of work produced no gains in their highest-profile public policy initiative. See other posts in this series, listed below.

“Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.”

— The basic text of Narcotics Anonymous). People who know all about personal dysfunctionality.

Two Minute Hate



  1. The two minute hate
  2. The road not taken:  another response to Pielke
  3. A larger perspective
  4. For More Information

(1) The two minute hate

The Left runs a Two Minute Hate on Nate Silver, his 538 website, Roger Pielke Jr (Prof Environmental Studies, U CO-Boulder) resulting from their publication of  “Disasters Cost More Than Ever — But Not Because of Climate Change”. And me, based on Nate Silver goes from hero to goat, convicted by the Left of apostasy. Read the following, and feel the hatred flow.

  1. Thursday Idiocy: Fabius Micromus” posted at Loyal to the Group of Seventeen, 27 March 2014. I posted a brief analysis in the comments. Quite interesting, in a silly way. He posts the comment thread with DeLong. He considers it “idiocy”, but doesn’t say why.
  2. Brad DeLong (Prof Economics, Berkeley) applauds. Again, he doesn’t explain. True believers don’t ask questions during the Two Minute Hate.
  3. The Launch of and Climate Change Disaster Weblogging: (Trying to Be) The Honest Broker for the Week of March 29, 2014“. By “honest broker” he means misrepresenting what I said, and substituting his judgement for the peer-reviewed literature about this issue. Plus lots of smears.

These are mostly silly in style and content, but rich in insights about the Left. Here are a few thoughts; post your thoughts in the comments.

(a)  They show how the politics of climate change has become a cacophony, both poisonous and ineffectual.  Smears, more rhetoric than reason. Clickbait for believers, firing up opponents, ignored by those in between. Which is fine for the Right, who wants nothing done, but defeat for the Left.

(b)  The Left now often ignores the relevant peer-reviewed literature and work of the IPCC, substituting big talk from amateurs and quotes from activist climate scientists (usually from the same small pool). When confronted with it, as in my post, they respond with smears.

(c)  This is the opposite of grass-roots organizing. Two minutes hate sessions build internal cohesion, but tend to repel outsiders. And they make enemies. It’s the opposite of John Boyd’s first rule of strategy: gather and empower allies.


(d)  Most importantly, the Left has responded to their inability to gain public support for their climate-related public policy proposals by intensifying these tactics.  Their failure to achieve any significant climate-related public policy measures, and the loss of public support, has caused them to continue the same tactics — but louder.

The obvious reason: catastrophic anthropogenic climate change has become central to their ideology. It’s the defining doctrine of the Left today, with no dissent allowed. It’s political failure might cost them dearly. And it is failing:

  1. What does the American public want done to fight climate change?
  2. This is what defeat looks like for the Left, and perhaps also for environmentalists

(2)  The road not taken: an alternative response to Pielke’s article

Pielke’s article at 538 summarizes his peer-reviewed research, which has been largely confirmed by other peer-reviewed research, and conforms to the conclusions of the IPCC. (for citations and links see section 7 of my post about the article).

If DeLong and the other critics disagreed with his analysis, they could cite contrary research. But doing so would not justify calling Pielke’s work “idiocy”. Conflicting research would show only that this issue was outside the current consensus of climate science. Either way, the invective is unjustified.

We see here is an example of the Left’s tactics in the public climate science debates (unlike the climate science literature):  during the last decade they have chosen to use smears, pressure tactics, and rhetoric — rather than contest the specific claims. “Denier of global warming” is their standard reply, even to people questioning the magnitude of forecasts of future warming, and even more technical issues.

They’ve taken the easy road. I suspect they’ll look back and see the road not taken was the better road. As Robert Frost said

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both …

(3)  A larger perspective

It’s sad to see how the Left has decayed in America, so that they prefer snark and smears to rational debate. This mirrors a similar decay on the Right (Bill Buckley spins in his grave, if he gets reception there of Fox). Both sides clearly see this flaw in their opponents, and laugh. But the Right appears to have the last laugh, as they’re winning.

“Jeebus — that Idiotus Maximus guy makes Glenn Beck seem cogent.”
— An observation by The Idler based on a brief thread with DeLong, a comment posted at Brad DeLong’s website. No explanation or evidence given.

DeLong heavily moderates comments, often screening out rebuttal evidence but welcoming supportive snark like The Idler’s. Tellingly, my rebuttals to his posts were not posted. Also note the irony: idler’s comment is Glenn Beck’s style of debate.

C. S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters puts a more charitable spin on this kind of tribalism (ignore the gender bias as an echo from an earlier age; this is a trait of people):

It is an unobtrusive little vice which she shares with nearly all women who have grown up in an intelligent circle united by a clearly defined belief; and it consists in a quite untroubled assumption that the outsiders who do not share this belief are really too stupid and ridiculous.

(4)  For More Information

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(a)  Berkeley Professor Brad DeLong demonstrates how the Left has lost political influence in America:

  1. Deep analysis of public affairs: his “stupidest man alive” series
  2. A profound application of the First Amendment to current affairs: his “shut down the Washington Post” series

(b)  Climate activists let the hate flow, fantasizing about punishing their opponents (instead of debating them):

  1. Is misinformation about the climate criminally negligent?“, Lawrence Torcello (Asst Prof Philosophy, Rochester Inst of Tech), The Conversation, 13 March 2014
  2. Arrest Climate-Change Deniers“, Adam Weinstein (journalist), Gawker, 29 March 2014

(c)  Other posts in this series

  1. Nate Silver goes from hero to goat, convicted by the Left of apostasy, 25 March 2014
  2. America swings to the Right. The Left loses. How has the Left dug itself into this hole?, 28 March 2014

(d)  Posts about polls showing the fruits of the Left’s tactics:

  1. Look in the polls, as in a mirror, to see America drift to the Right, 31 January 2014
  2. What does the American public want done to fight climate change?, 2 February 2014
  3. This is what defeat looks like for the Left, and perhaps also for environmentalists, 17 March 2014

(e)  Examples of the Left’s exaggerations and misinformation about climate change:

  1. Hurricane Sandy asks when did weather become exceptional? (plus important info about US hurricanes), 28 October 2012
  2. Mother Jones sounds the alarm about global warming! This time about the north pole., 10 December 2012
  3. Kevin Drum talks about global warming, illustrating the collapse of the Left’s credibility, 17 December 2012
  4. Lessons the Left can learn from the Right when writing about climate change, 12 December 2012 — More from Phil Plait
  5. Fierce words about those “wacky professional climate change deniers”, 20 January 2013
  6. A powerful story about global warming in Alaska that has set Twitter aflame, 23 June 2013
  7. The North Pole is now a lake! Are you afraid yet?, 3 August 2013
  8. Climate science deniers on the Left, captured for viewing, 29 September 2013
  9. Apocalyptic thinking on the Left about climate change risks burning their credibility, 4 February 2014
  10. “Climate change is slowly but steadily cooking the world’s oceans”, 5 February 2014
  11. Why the Left is losing: another example of incompetent marketing, 26 February 2014
  12. The Left sees “Climate buffoons” and “deniers”. What do they see in the mirror?, 7 March 2014



19 thoughts on “The Left stages a two minute hate on Nate Silver, Roger Pielke Jr (& me)”

  1. “Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.”
    — common paraphrase of John Stewart Mill

    “Never argue with idiots: they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”
    — frequently attributed to Mark Twain

    The Right has successfully dragged public debate down to its level. It will always win there.

    I don’t care much whether the Left or the Right is winning. Both are, by definition, mind-numbed ideological tribes which sacrifice clarity and honesty for cohesion. The Left has lately been more reasonable than the Right only because the dividing line has moved so far rightward that the pool of halfway sane ideas available to the Left is much larger than what remains to the Right. Eventually the dearth of arguments that can be made to sound plausible even to idiots will force the Right to let the boundary move leftward a little.

    I do care that while public debate is poisoned so thoroughly as to render meaningful democracy all but impossible, the oligarchy (which is quite independent of the tribes for peasants) is free to concern itself exclusively with what is to its own pleasure.

    1. Coises,

      I agree on all points, and would take this line of thinking further.

      (1) “{Left and Rights are } quite independent of the tribes for peasants”

      Yes, but the Left and Right are to some extent servants of the 1%. It’s difficult to determine, but I believe the Right is more so than the Left.

      (2) This is a large and fascinating story. The Right is descending into madness and folly, giving a generational opportunity to the Left. Which they fumbled. A decade ago the Left bet big on the weather — that storms would increase, winters warm (no snow in England), etc. While these short-term trends would not prove the global climate models’ forecasts — any more than the pause in surface atmosphere temperatures and storms has disproved them.

      They Left responded by doubling down, increasingly rely on smears and manipulation of the news. Which is failing. It’s like watching the career of a hot running back burn away in one season as he abuses coke. The consequences could be large.

    2. “Left and Right are to some extent servants of the 1%. It’s difficult to determine, but I believe the Right is more so than the Left.”

      Servants, or perhaps more like employees. I gather sometimes more like extortionists. (“I hear they’re introducing a bill to regulate your industry. Such a nice little business you got there… shame if something should happen to it.”)

      The choice of climate change as a defining issue might tell us something. Surely the oligarchs are divided: some would lose from more aggressive action, some would profit, and many could take an advantageous position either way. Populist economics would have been a much more obvious choice in its potential for broad resonance with the public, but few oligarchs would like it.

      1. Coises,

        All good points!

        (1) “Servants, or perhaps more like employees.”

        Servants are a subset of employees. Servants are distinguished by their loyalty, their adoption of their masters values.

        (2) What do the 1% think of climate change?

        Good question! It’s important to remember that the 1% are not a unitary entity. It’s a small group with a class interest, but diverse values and interests.

  2. For years now I have marveled at the climate debate trying to discern who or what is behind it. Surely such a heated and persistent indoctrination could not spring from random noise in the system. Even as the facts conspire to beclown them, the AGW crowd doubles down as you say. I look for conspiracy and skulduggery but find only human failings resonating in a kind of self destructive behavioral tuned cavity.

    Maybe Freud was right. It really does matter when we are toilet trained, and the puckered asses fighting over AGW on the left have no more autonomy in their thinking than a circus pony running in rings under the big top with blinders on.

    I pray for the conspiracy to manifest, as it would IMO reflect much better on humanity, but I fear the one trick neurotic pony model is sufficient and correct. Better to be ruled in rational Hell than to debate in mindless heaven I say.

    1. Peter B.

      I don’t understand. What conspiracy? Perhaps you are over-thinking this?

      The climate science dynamics are not unusual in the slightest. Complex natural dynamics, with both the theory and data on the edge of the known. A well-developed paradigm, with a consensus core around which there are multiple areas of debate — and a few outliers challenging the consensus (history shows that the the outliers are usually wrong, but not always).

      The political debate is also typical. The Left has used the warnings from climate science to justify long-held public policy initiatives (as they have with previous forecasts of doom). That the past forecasts of doom tells us nothing about climate. About a decade ago the Left wagered big on the short-term (i.e., decadal) forecasts of a small number of climate scientists.

      Unfortunately it appears they’re losing the bet. In response they they doubled down, using their centers of influence to exaggerate the data (e.g., normal weather is called “extreme”), hide the contrary evidence (e.g., about the pause in the surface atmosphere warming), and shout down anyone challenging their beliefs (e.g., the bizarrely wrong accusation of “denier”).

      The Right has mobilized to exploit the Left’s weak position. Many of the best-known lay skeptics are conservative or even right-wing (as they often show on their websites).

      So these debates quickly become flame wars. Vitriolic, personalized, irrational. Sensible public policy is the most unlikely outcome from this. We are the losers.

      But I see no conspiracies.

  3. Perhaps the conspiracy he is talking about is that the elite manufacture a crisis in order to
    further their agenda.

    1. Gairman,

      That’s an interesting idea. Certainly there was some of that at work in the Cold War, a public-private complex network working to exaggerate the communist threat. And today, on a smaller scale, to exaggerate the threat of Islam (bad Islam, not the fundamentalist Islam of or Saudi friends).

      I have difficulty seeing the climate activists in the same way.

      These things are difficult to see and understand in real time (but easier to see once they are history). What is the real danger, what is exaggerated fear?

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  5. … (ignore the gender bias as an echo from an earlier age; this is a trait of people)

    I can see no gender bias here. The ‘Screwtape Letters’ are a tongue-in-cheek set of instructions from a senior demon to a junior devil engaged in the business of tempting a particular victim (or ‘patient’, as Screwtape has it). The victim is a man – Screwtape is here talking about his girlfriend, who he explains comes from a sequestered background (as did most middle-class women of the time, hence the general comment) – suggesting that the junior devil may be able to stir up disagreement about the correct way to do things.

    If Screwtape is still Director (Souls Incoming) I suspect that he is ecstatic about the success of the Climate Change hypothesis in bringing out the worst in humanity….

  6. Don’t forget that for many of these ‘leftists’ their property values will increase in areas like NY that are well served by transit. Their NGOs will also be more valuable.

  7. Good work, FM. Fascinating to hang around here and see this AGW thing unfold. And to read about it here.

    I understand your claim that we will all probably suffer from the turbity on Both Sides, however so many things in politics are so polluted, so infantilized or made simple in spite of the reality of real difficulties and intricacies that I suspect many more citizens are just disengaging from the basic dishonesty that surrounds us.
    It’s really quite bad. CS Lewis and his use of the term “vices” … his day and age and audience perhaps. Now? Oh goodness much worse, I would say.

    1. Breton,

      “your claim that we will all probably suffer from the turbity on Both Sides,”

      Yes, that’s my prediction. That we will continue to not prepare for the repeat of past weather — let alone for future weather. That our decaying infrastructure makes us ever less prepared (e.g., Katrina in New Orleans). And that eventually some weather will hit to make us pay.

      That’s a guess. But it seems quite likely, imo. One of my highest probability forecasts, close to my near certainty in 2003 that our occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan wouldn’t end well (despite the consensus confidence about victory prevalent at that time).

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