In the center ring: scientists debate the process of climate science

Summary:  Here’s one of the best conversations I’ve seen about the state and process of climate science (not the technical details for professionals). If he were alive, Thomas Kuhn would smile at this evidence that his theory so well describes the workings of science — on which we rely for prosperity and perhaps survival.  The public policy debate would become clearer if people paid more attention to these debates, rather than listening to the more entertaining but useless posturing of activists.  {2nd of 2 posts today}

Truth in science
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Eminent climate scientist Roger Pielke Sr published “NASA’s Dr. Gavin Schmidt goes into hiding from seven very inconvenient climate questions” at Watts Up With That. The discussion shifted over to the blog And Then There’s Physics (run by an anonymous scientist), where Chris Colose took a leading role (PhD student in an Atmospheric Science program at the U of Albany; bio at his website).

This twitter conversation among us nicely illustrates the state of climate science today: the debate about basic physics, the time-wasting personal invective, the confidence of those in the mainstream and their contempt for scientists on the fringes, and the blurred boundaries between scientists and amateurs and mountebanks.

All of these are common in the history of science, and well-described by Thomas Kuhn in his great classic The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Paradigms are “universally recognized scientific achievements that, for a time, provide model problems and solutions for a community of practitioners.” They define for a community of scientists the important questions for investigation and how to conduct science. Paradigms cannot be disproven; they can only be replaced (they’re necessary). Normal science becomes a paradigm crisis when a new paradigm begins to emerge.

I’ve combined and lightly edited these tweets for clarity.

——————————

RogerAPielkeSr: Unfortunately, very true. They just want to play “gotcha” rather than work together to expand perspectives and approaches. “admitting an error is a poor strategy.” Says a lot about state of climate science. Admitting errors is how we learn.  “I also don’t think that the term forcing in climate science is quite equivalent to a force in physics.” Wow.

Fabius Maximus (Ed.): It was excellent discussion, IMO. Disagreement about basic physics gives a clear demo of the weak fundamentals of climate science. My background is in history of science. These debates are characteristic of science on the frontiers, not settled science.

Roger A. Pielke Sr: Except they are trying to force it as “settled science”.

Fabius Maximus (Ed.): That’s standard operating procedure for science debates. Paradigms define settled science; crisis destroys consensus, hence their ferocity. See relativity, continental drift. A discussion that finds disagreement of such basic physics is IMO a success. is there any mechanism for follow-up? That’s a weakness of blogs.

Roger Pielke Sr
Roger Pielke Sr

Roger A. Pielke Sr: Effective yesterday; not so today. Let’s see if they take up other questions. I suspect they (and Gavin) will just ignore.

Fabius Maximus (Ed.): Agreed! That’s the weakness of informal internet discussions. Journal publications are more difficult to ignore.

Chris Colose: Your rhetorical tangents and intellectual laziness is why no one is taking this serious. Stop pretending to want a rational discussion. no one is buying it, and you aren’t owed anything. The state of “the science” is independent of whether two or three people make mistakes about describing it. It’s actually interesting that scientists with very successful careers (lots of pubs, etc) can be idiots in how they think about the world

Fabius Maximus (Ed.): As an observer, that seems too harsh. These kinds of disputes are common in science, difficult to resolve. Time!

Chris Colose: No one blogs demands director of some organization w lists of 7 questions they are too afraid to answer {as RogerAPielkeSr did}. Try sending Stephen Hawking “12 inconvenient questions about black holes,” see if “friendly debate” follows.

Fabius Maximus (Ed.): Don’t know Hawking, but some like aggressive challenges from fellow scientists. E.g., Carl Sagan (I knew him at Cornell).  This reminds me of long ago debate in Scientific American: why does pumping boost child on swing set? Months of technical fierce debate before it was resolved.

Chris Colose: I think people need to learn what real sci debate looks like. cornering someone on FOX theater isn’t it.

Fabius Maximus (Ed.): Perhaps that’s too formal a view. Debates about evolution, relativity, continental drift fought in many kinds of forums.

Chris Colose
Chris Colose

Chris Colose: There’s understood protocol for forms of serious engagement, maybe not obvious to non-scientists.

Fabius Maximus (Ed.): I am familiar w/ how these evolved over time. Formal mechanisms are a top layer interacting with other modes of debate.

Chris Colose: Sure, but most are theater, actual science progress doesn’t come from Nye and Ham arguing on TV.

Fabius Maximus (Ed.): Great point about Nye-Ham debate. Also, why do people listen to amateurs debate science? Most of these just spew chaff into public policy discussion of science.  More broadly, IMO climate science well-described as Thomas Kuhn paradigm crisis (a somewhat rare event in science).

Chris Colose: Other issue is that audience rarely can evaluate nuances, rhetoric wins in these settings.

Fabius Maximus (Ed.): Agreed! Richard Dawkins’ debates with creationists are a definitive test. His defeat in these showed their futility.

Chris Colose: For these reasons, and others, most scientists prefer not to engage there and aren’t obligated to.

Fabius Maximus (Ed.): I don’t believe that’s accurate. Climate science mainstream tends to ignore challenges to paradigm, a commonplace in history.

Chris Colose: What “challenges” do you think have been ignored, specifically?

Fabius Maximus (Ed.): Look at “how ignored” to see “what is ignored”: as in the attempts to limit access to data, peer-reviewed journals & the IPCC. A common method to defend a paradigm.

Jones to Mann: 31 March and 4 July 2004

Jones-Mass-20040331Jones-Mass-20040704

Chris Colose: If you want these things filled with third-rate nonsense, then sure.

Fabius Maximus (Ed.): Perhaps so, but past shows that refusal to debate is common in defense of disproven paradigms. It burns credibility.

Roger A. Pielke Sr: Mistakes are how science advances. :-) Hopefully you have learned to be more open from comment exchanges at ATTP.

Chris Colose: That’s not relevant. On a last note (work to do) you can tell a lot about someone how they interpret someone’s choice to not engage, e.g., with John Stossel (TV host) ranting about killing poor people in Gavin Schmidt’s ear. Time to walk away.

Fabius Maximus (Ed.): Agreed! But we’re discussing interaction among scientists, not with the mountebanks outside. Conflating them not helpful!

Chris Colose: What the internets calls “debate” has never been standard in history of science, only in your mind is climate science different in any regard.

Fabius Maximus (Ed.): Climate science is not different. There is a long history of debate via letter, meetings of Academies & at universities, etc. How does the new medium change it?

Stand back I'm trying science.

Chris Colose: The real issue is when people just don’t have a good case and expect everyone to pretend it remains interesting.

Fabius Maximus (Ed.): Common in history that paradigm defenders believe challengers “don’t have case.” Oft wrong, hence need for debate. You appear to believe can see correct side in paradigm conflicts. History suggests it’s obvious only in hindsight.

Chris Colose: I prefer a model with explanatory ability. not handwaving that one day it might be wrong. like gravity. It’s easy, submit a coherent result, done all the time. Creationists think the same way

Fabius Maximus (Ed.): That’s exactly as Kuhn describes: paradigms can’t be disproven, only replaced. An operationally powerful rule!

Chris Colose: Of course they can be disproven (in any useful sense of the word). but doubt for sake of doubt silly.

Fabius Maximus (Ed.): Debate between professionals becomes futile when focus shifts to legitimacy of participants. Vainly burning time and mindspace.

Chris Colose: Nobody is, I said if people have a good idea, try to publish it, not engage in circus acts.

Fabius Maximus (Ed.): Characterizing intent of peers as “doubt for sake of doubt” and “circus acts” is imo just invective, questioning their legitimacy as scientists.

Chris Colose: Oh well., they should try harder then #dontprojectontome. That you pretend stuff as good as “moon made of blue cheese” is real debate is the problem, not the science. As a general rule, scientists very very interested in real criticism, but also have very good B.S. detectors. And if you can’t tell the diff, many scientists willing to explain. that =/= pretending everything is interesting.

Fabius Maximus (Ed.): That’s not remotely a rational description of the debate. Also, we have 2 centuries of history proving that scientists have no better “bs detectors” than anyone else (i.e., poor), but such excessive self-confidence is commonplace. As for characterizing the beliefs of scientists who disagree with you as “moon made of blue cheese” … Let’s end on nice note: Thanks to both for explaining these matters. I’m posting this. IMO more of these would help the public understand!

The Truth key

For More Information

To learn more about the state of climate change see The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change by Roger Pielke Jr. (Prof of Environmental Studies at U of CO-Boulder, and Director of their Center for Science and Technology Policy Research).

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See these Reference Pages for other posts about climate on the FM sites: the keys to understanding climate change and my posts about climate change. Especially see these about the state of the debate:

  1. Have we prepared for normal climate change and non-extreme weather?
  2. Droughts are coming. Are we ready for the past to repeat?
  3. Weather & climate change: how to interpret our past in order to prepare for our future.
  4. Good news about our changing climate by Prof Daniel B. Botkin.
  5. More good news about the climate, giving us a priceless gift.
  6. Springtime in an Era of More Extreme Weather from the March 2015 Browning Newsletter.
  7. A frontier of climate science: the model-temperature divergence by Rud Istvan.

29 thoughts on “In the center ring: scientists debate the process of climate science

  1. I don’t think that we are really in the area described by Paradigm Shiftb here. Isn”t most of this debate on the data and statistical methodology rather than the underlying physic?

    Several other points: 1) BS detector. Most scientists in small fields (eg extragalactic astronomy) have met at conferences. They know where others are ‘coming from’ and they know whether people are pushing only 2sigma data or take a more rigorous approach etc.

    2) Most people in a field need to read over the literature and take their time to think. Blog discussions are fun but no substitute for publications.
    Thanks to FM for promoting this discussion nevertheless.

    1. Social Bill,

      (1) “Isn”t most of this debate on the data and statistical methodology rather than the underlying physic?”

      Much of the debate about climate change is fundamental. Role of solar influences, physics of clouds, role of large long coupled wind-ocean cycles (e.g., ENSO), etc. Note that the discussion in the early (substantive) discussion at Then There’s Physics is about basics of climate physics.

      (2) “BS detector”

      History of science contains countless examples of leaders dismissing new ideas as BS, wrongly. People in all fields often believe they have a “bs detector”; they’re almost always wrong. Coloso is mostly demonstrating arrogance, not judgement, about his ability to dismiss the work of eminent people in his field. That’s quite unlike dismissing theories of amateurs.

      (3) ” Blog discussions are fun but no substitute for publications.”

      Nobody says that it is. I specifically make a similar point (“That’s the weakness of informal internet discussions. Journal publications are more difficult to ignore.”). However the bulk of discussions between scientists take place outside the literature (“a top layer interacting w/ other modes of debate”).

  2. “The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate”

    1. Eagle,

      I have privately asked a leader in the climate science community about this apparent collapse of professionalism, even from the low standards of science. Not only does it seem to have reached levels that disrupt the normal mechanisms of debate, IMO it’s diminishing their public reputation. Are they aware of this problem? Are they doing anything about it?

      My guess (wild guess): No. No.

  3. Excerpt from “Chapter 1: Defining Organizational Culture” from School Culture Rewired: How to Define, Assess, and Transform It by Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker.

    Have you ever noticed how service can vary from restaurant to restaurant? At some, you walk in and are greeted by a friendly, attractive host who whisks you away to an available table; at others, you can’t get anyone to make eye contact with you, let alone greet you in a friendly way. Often, such a disparity can be found among restaurants that are part of the same chain! What is going on? How can two restaurants from the same company be so dramatically different?

    Similar disparities can be found between and within schools and districts: You walk into some schools and immediately feel welcome; you walk into others and you feel like an intruder. In some schools, every teacher seems to be out from behind the desk, lessons are infused with technology, and students appear to be highly engaged in learning; in others, teachers seem to use their desks as fortresses and students appear distracted or disengaged. In both schools, teachers will tell you that what they’re doing is effective.

    Why is it that some schools embrace new ideas, while others consider them distractions? Why do some teachers roll up their sleeves, while others simply roll their eyes? More important, is there anything we can do to address these differences? Often, disparities within schools and districts are the result of separate cultures having been established over time. For schools to be effective, educators need to understand the organizational cultures in which they work and be able to modify them if necessary.

    Understanding an Elusive Concept

    This book is intended to help you better understand the general concept of school culture, learn the strengths and weaknesses of your specific school culture, and—perhaps most important—influence your school culture or, if necessary, shape a new one (see Figure 1.1). In the following pages, you’ll learn what to do, what to expect, and what positive and negative signs to look out for when trying to improve your school’s culture. …

  4. FM said: “the confidence of those in the mainstream and their contempt for scientists on the fringes”

    I have confidence in the mainstream scientists of any scientific field.

    When the scientists on the fringes publish science that overturns the mainstream climate paradigm of AGW they will have my confidence. They have not done so. But I have no contempt for them, only increasing skepticism and impatience. It’s been 27 years since James Hansen spoke to Congress on this subject, so it’s not like they haven’t had the time produce results–unfortunately they haven’t.

    1. Gloucon,

      I was speaking of the internal dynamics of science. It’s not necessary for you to see the interactions of those defending the paradigm and those challenging it, and these dynamics are largely irrelevant to public policy.

      When a fields’ professionalism breaks down its evolution jams. Science advances by Q&A. When the reigning paradigm’s defenders adopt the attitude of priests defending the faith, the input of new ideas slows. For an immature field like climate science that’s bad news. For the public, relying on the lavishly funded climate science community to produce better advice, that’s bad news.

      The fringes don’t have your confidence because they have not overturned the paradigm — which is not possible today, as the field’s internal processes are broken.

      “When the scientists on the fringes publish science that overturns the mainstream climate paradigm of AGW they will have my confidence. They have not done so. But I have no contempt for them, only increasing skepticism and impatience. It’s been 27 years since James Hansen spoke to Congress on this subject, so it’s not like they haven’t had the time produce results – unfortunately they haven’t.”

      That is not correct. The trend in climate science during the past decade has been strongly toward the skeptics’ views. Considering their inability to get funding and difficulty getting published (as shown by the Climategate emails I quoted), these are major accomplishments.

      1. Solar influences were mocked; now even the IPCC says they might be substantial.
      2. Eminent climate scientist Pielke Sr was called a “denier” for saying that the ocean’s heat was a better measure of global warming than the surface atmosphere temperature. Now that’s mainstream (and a leading explanation of the pause).
      3. Skeptics said the IPCC’s models’ projections (not forecasts) for temperature were too high. Now that’s unmistakable.
      4. Skeptics said that the forecasts of increased “extreme weather” were too large. The IPCC’s SREX and AR5 agrees.
      5. Skeptics said that the range of equilibrium climate sensitivity (warming from a doubling of CO2) were too high. The IPCC’s AR5 lowered them. Research since then suggests they need to drop more.
      6. Skeptics said that the volcanoes in the Antarctic Peninsula and West Antarctica made a major contribution to the melting, in addition to melting from rising sea temperatures (East Antarctica is not melting, nor are air temperatures above the ice cap rising). Now that’s a mainstream view.

      These debates have moved from “you’re wrong” (heretics) to disagreement about the numbers (science). But the process has been absurdly slow. Far slower than needed considering the important of the subject.

  5. Let it be noted that this remark {comment by Pielke Sr}:

    And than there’s Physics. – if you have found a mistake and than acknowledge, my respect for you really goes up. That is a benefit of these Q&A and why I sought to engage Gavin in a discussion.

    has turned into:

    https://twitter.com/RogerAPielkeSr/status/601528814166880256

    Concerns about tone carries as much burden onto oneself than on others, and probably more. If that example does not suffice to make my point, there are other examples from Senior. In the eternal struggle between smarm and snark, smarm never wins. I might be biased in saying so.

    1. Willard,

      I don’t understand your point. What’s the connection between the two comments? Where is the “smarm and snark”?

      Also, the comment by Ken Rice that Pielke refers to — about “forcing” — is quite strange. Rice provides no support for it. “Wow” is a logic reply, given the constraints of Twitter. In fact, I doubt is additional analysis is needed.

    2. Update: on Twitter Ken Rice (And Then There’s Physics) explained what he meant about force and forcing. He meant this in a precise sense (as I should have expected from a physicist): these are different concepts. In a climate science sense they are similar Crossing perspectives is an benefit of multi-disciplinary discussions.

    3. > I don’t understand your point.

      I hope you don’t, for otherwise you might not have raised the same concerns in your editorial. Not that I am not thankful for these concerns. I am thankful for all the contrarian concerns.

      My point is this: one does not simply whine about tone one day and then use snark the other day and expect to be taken seriously in Mordor. This smarmy behavior amounts to victim playing. I expect this kind of diversion from an amateur commenter, not from one of the most important quarterbacks in ClimateBall history. Senior used this trick so often over the years that he could trademark it.

      Senior’s smarm is also obvious in the tweet that sent me here:

      twitter.com/RogerAPielkeSr/status/602100090241581056

      This means that there’s smarm in your editorial too. Here’s a good characterization of smarm:

      What is smarm, exactly? Smarm is a kind of performance—an assumption of the forms of seriousness, of virtue, of constructiveness, without the substance. Smarm is concerned with appropriateness and with tone. Smarm disapproves.

      Smarm would rather talk about anything other than smarm. Why, smarm asks, can’t everyone just be nicer?

      gawker.com/on-smarm-1476594977

      I hope you understand the wowing incongruity of seeing Senior running at Tony’s to cry about how mean the crowd at AT’s, Editor. (When I asked him to comment on the tone at Tony’s, Senior declined) I also hope you understand that using AT’s real name goes against netiquette. Underlining Chris’ qualifications in an smarmy editorial about tone in scientific discussions also provides a nice touch.

      ***

      Speaking of whom, I surmise you presented Chris as a “leading role” of the “conversation” to emphasize AT’s error. Preying on an error is fair ball, even if may not cohere with lamenting gotcha games. In any case, well played!

      However, let’s pay due diligence to Chris’ comments a little more. His first comment (May 20, 2015 at 9:56 pm) refers to the fact that nobody dispute the usefulness of Joules, but that it’s an incomplete metric. To that Senior replied (10:06 pm) ex cathedra to Gavin’s attention that “Global warming is an accumulation of Joules primarily in the oceans,” and to Chris (10:19 pm) that

      the global average surface temperature anomaly is a very poor substitute when we can use the ocean heat content changes.

      That reply is unresponsive to Chris’ argument that to “Joule all the things” (I like memes) is simply not enough, for instance when we’re more interested in surface temps.

      Senior can’t even follow the first ball Chris throws at him. All we here is what he’s been telling for years. Perhaps it’s just me, but I expect better from a “best conversation.” This seems to be Chris’ impression too, since here’s his last comment on the thread so far:

      I think this discussion nicely illustrates why policymakers, among others, still prefer surface temperature change as a primary metric of climate change ;-)

      andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/watt-about-rogers-questions/#comment-56596

      You might need to discuss this with Chris.

      PS: In case you wonder why this comment contains snark, please be assured that between snark and smarm, I chose my side. I could not care less about your tone. Sound as very serious as you wish.

    4. Willard,

      I think you have higher standards than I do. Other than the highly formal debates at The Conversation, the average conversation about climate in open forums is imo at a level that should embarrass schoolchildren. By comparison this is Nobel prize level.

      (2) As for the science, I don’t believe you have accurately followed it. It requires familiarity with this aspect of the literature to understand.

      (3) “Speaking of whom, I surmise you presented Chris as a “leading role” of the “conversation” to emphasize AT’s error.”

      No. Both in number of comments and quality he was one of the leaders of the comment thread. I suggest you avoid guessing at people’s thoughts.

      (4) “You might need to discuss this with Chris.”

      The twitter conversation shown here continued in much the same manner as in the last few. I avoid talking with people who rely so much on invective, so little on fact & logic.

      (5) “In case you wonder why this comment contains snark,”

      I find discussion of peoples’ attitudes a waste of time. I’m more interested in the science. The former is not a substitute for the latter, although it’s easier — and apparently many people find it more fun.

  6. > I find discussion of peoples’ attitudes a waste of time.

    I agree, which is why I Albatross’ comments when Senior was there. OTOH, your comment conflates a couple of this regarding intentions.

    First, it’s quite kosher to use constructions like “in case you wonder” is just a figure of speech. It is called a prolepsis. Latin lovers call it ampliatio. Reaganites may recognize a kind of rhetorical preemptive strike. The actual case you grumble about responds to a legitimate question the audience may have regarding my stance regarding snark and smarm.

    Second, it’s also quite kosher to use constructions like “I surmise you did X for Y to obtain”. The reasons why one chooses of editorial angle doesn’t require readers posit anything about the author’s thoughts. All I need is basic means-ends analysis; see at the end for tidbits of such an analysis. Ask your favorite military strategist about the importance of a formal concept of intention to specify planning.

    Third, discussing people’s competence is way more corrosive to communication than this kind of rhetorical figure of speech. So when you argue by assertion that you don’t “believe” I have “accurately followed it” (whatever “accurately following” means), you are making a judgement that is fallacious and contrary to the fairly common dialogue rules. More importantly, you evade your commitment regarding Chris’ comments. If you are to “follow” the conversation, trying to exclude me is just not enough. At the very least, accuracy requires that you report Chris’ disagreement about how that conversation ends.

    You really ought to discuss this with Chris a bit more. Should I tweet him?

    ***

    For what it’s worth, the following could be a good model for a good scientific discussion. Here’s how his parting shot ends:

    For climate change more generally, we need to develop new metrics as we recommended in the 2005 National Research Council report. The metric we proposed in

    Matsui, T., and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2006: Measurement-based estimation of the spatial gradient of aerosol radiative forcing. Geophys. Res. Letts., 33, L11813, doi:10.1029/2006GL025974.

    […]

    is one example of such a metric.

    http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2011/08/roger-pielke-jr-s-inkblot/#comment-1471

    As far as the scientific aspects of the discussion at NG’s and at AT’s are concerned, it’s about that new metric we absolutely need to solve the universe and everything. Whether or not a discussion contains smarm, snark or neither, chances are that when Senior’s around, we’ll hear “Joule all the things” anyway.

    I do hope this example convinces you I can follow conversations a bit better than you presume. Meanwhile, I duly acknowledge your shift from “took a leading role” to “in number of comments and quality he was one of the leaders”. Please note that Chris made four comments, for a grand total of around 250 words. The only comments you made on that discussion pertain to AT’s error, misrepresenting AT’s dismay along the way.

    Oh, and I forgot to thank you for the “Jones to Mann” quote. Please rest assured that I am very wowed by it.

    1. Williard,

      “…discussing people’s competence is way more corrosive to communication than this kind of rhetorical figure of speech.”

      Everybody has their own opinions on these things. I have sat through hundreds (thousands?) of hours of discussions about expert analysis — which often turned on discussions of “competence” (not best word, imo) — corporate, arbitration, academic. I have never heard your view. Can you cite some support for this? I think you’re making it up.

      “So when you argue by assertion that you don’t “believe” I have “accurately followed it”” you are making a judgement that is fallacious ”

      A difference between us: I state my observation as a “belief”. You state yours as a fact.

      “whatever “accurately following” means”

      Wow. Whatever…

      “contrary to the fairly common dialogue rules.”

      Citation, please. My guess is that you are making these up.

      “you evade your commitment regarding Chris’ comments.”

      What “comitment”? I think you’re making this up.

      “If you are to “follow” the conversation, trying to exclude me is just not enough.”

      How am I “trying to exclude” you? You’re just making this up.

      “At the very least, accuracy requires that you report Chris’ disagreement about how that conversation ends.”

      You are just making up rules. Those tweets occured after the post went up. They’re not relevant to the post. Its nuts to believe I’m obligated to make whatever level of effort you believe required for comments. If you’re so interested, they available on Twitter.

    2. Dear Editor,

      My first comment pertained to the smarmy concerns expressed both by Senior and in your own editorial. Your own concerns are a bit moot considering your latest scattered shots. Senior’s concerns have little merit considering his usual modus operandi, and now that we can read back how his ClimateBall exchange evolved with AT.

      Your response regarding my competence was unresponsive to that first point. Nor is doubling down with your scattered shots responsive to that point. Questioning my competence only serves to excuse yourself from answering my second comment, which pertained to your misinterpretation of psychological predicates. This other response was also an excuse for your dignified unresponsiveness regarding my first point.

      ***

      Your scattered shots may indicate some kind of openness. I will address what I believe is your main shot, while acknowledging your anonymous authority:

      > I have sat through hundreds (thousands?) of hours of discussions about expert analysis […]

      I doubt these hours of discussion were made in what we would call a critical discussion (Pragma-dialectics), whose object is seldom (if never) about the interlocutors, but about their arguments. Unless one can show how an interlocutor’s competence is relevant to what the interlocutors say, using such talk as argument would be fallacious.

      The best we can say about such cheap ad homs is that they are offered as justification to bring the communication to a close. People do that all the time. Including scientists: both Senior and AT did that. The main difference is that Senior can’t bring himself to disengage, which is part of his modus operandi alluded to above.

      ***

      So that’s for your “I’m big in Japan” move. (My canned response to such silly appeal to authority are: sure, and I’m a ninja.) If you want a response to any other ones, feel free to ask. Beware your wishes,

    3. Willard,

      I have no idea what you are attempting to say. I suggest replying to direct quotes so we can at least see to what you refer.

      “Your response regarding my competence was unresponsive”

      My comments asked for evidence to support your assertions. They did not refer to “competence”. Since you provide no evidence, I assume you were (as I suspected) just making stuff up.

      “Senior’s concerns have little merit”

      Are you the Pope of Science? Do you have a Nobel Prize? Otherwise I think such assertions are just hot air.

  7. 1. “Solar influences were mocked; now even the IPCC says they might be substantial.”

    Any reasonable scientist would stop reading you at this point, if he or she hadn’t already. It is patently absurd to say that scientists studying AGW refused to consider or study the effects of solar irradiance.

    These kinds of statements are evidence of game over for your objectivity.

    1. Gloucon,

      I would like to see some cite’s supporting your view. As you see below, I have copious documentation for mine. Take a look and then opine on my credibility vs yours.

      The consensus 10 years ago was that there was minimal or less solar influence on climate cycles, and that the possible statistical correlations were either incorrect or not significant. Most of this was because there was no known physical mechanism.

      As an example, that was the reason Livingston and Penn could not get their famous paper published anywhere in 2006. In 2009 it was published, along with quite a few other major papers. I don’t follow the literature closely enough to know why opinion has changed, or how much. But I have tracked the change.

      Here is a post from 2009 describing the new work (including both L-P papers).
      http://fabiusmaximus.com/2009/09/04/solar-5/

      Here are some of my posts tracking the change in view of solar effects. The early ones show the consensus dismissing solar effects; the later slow acceptance of the possibility.
      http://fabiusmaximus.com/tag/sun/

      Here I list 53 papers (with links) from 1994 that show the slow evolution of scientists thinking about effects of solar changes:
      http://fabiusmaximus.com/science-nature/science-other/

      What has happened?

      The new sunspot dating published last year reduces, I believe, the strength of historical correlations. It is too new for there to be much published yet.

      There has been some work published on possible mechanisms, relating to the effect of the solar wind, mediated by Earth’s magnetic field, on cloud nuclearion. Still controversial.

      Probably worth looking into.

  8. “Solar influences were mocked”

    From you own link:

    The paper, rejected in peer review, was never published by Science. Livingston said he’s OK with the rejection. “I accept what the reviewers said,” Livingston said. “‘If you are going to make such statement, you had better have strong evidence.’ “ “We may have to wait. We may be wrong.

    FM, That hardly sounds like someone suffering from being mocked. You don’t provide specific evidence of who was mocked and who did the so called mocking. So once again you fall back on your usual tactic of spewing out a blizzard of links, with no specificity provided, and when the links are checked, they don’t support your claim.

    Would it serve any purpose for me to post links to the published studies on the topic of solar irradiance and climate change, which represent proof that the topic was not ignored as unimportant or mocked? It took me about two google seconds to find Hansen’s 2000 paper, ‘The Sun’s Role In Long-Term Climate Change’ where he specifically addresses the importance of the sun. The question for your readers is why FM couldn’t find such evidence though all his years of posting on this topic?

    Probably worth looking into.

    1. Gloucon,

      This is a waste of time, but a few more details.

      (1). Expecting to see someone mocked in formal rejection notices of peer-reviewed journals is childish. Almost all scientists will reply to a rejection from a major journal with a polite acknowledgment of its wisdom (that’s just good sense). Since you are either a child or stupid, you are wasting our time playing gotcha.

      (2) the trend of majority opinion in science is shown by rejections and mentions in major journals. That is the info shown by the L&P rejection in 2006 and acceptance in 2009. Again, if you were talking seriously you would see this.

      Another indication of the trend is mentions in reports of major institutions. The favorable mention of solar influence in the IPCCs AR5 was seen as a milestone.

      (3) mining the literature is not relevant here. I don’t pretend to follow every journal, or play silly games with journals. For solar cycles I followed the major conferences, some institutional reports (esp the IPCC, which is what it is designed for), and a few major players (Hansen is not a major figure in this field).

      Those are who I cite. And it is a clear picture.

      (4). To see the informal discussions I characterized as mocking, see the discussions on the Internet. It provides color to the stronger evidence described above. For example, see the comments of Leif SVALGAARD. He is a major name in this area, I the Solar Cycle Timing Committee (he had one of the most accurate forecasts for the current cycle), and a leader in the sunspot redating committee. He has been strongly dismissive, brutally so, of those believing in a strong solar influence on earth’s climate.

      (5) as for your contempt of the degree of info I provide in comments, it is far greater than you or almost anyone else provides.certainly more than you warrant.

  9. Just noticed your reply, Editor.

    “I suggest replying to direct quotes so we can at least see to what you refer.”
    Good idea.

    “My comments asked for evidence to support your assertions.”
    Evidence has been provided in all my comments. You fell on the wrong guy for this lazy trick. If you need more, just say so. Beware your wishes.

    “I have no idea what you are attempting to say.”

    Which sentence do you not get? Here’s my main point: “My point is this: one does not simply whine about tone one day and then use snark the other day and expect to be taken seriously in Mordor.” My emphasis on the operative words.

    “They did not refer to “competence”. Since you provide no evidence, I assume you were (as I suspected) just making stuff up.”
    I have no idea to what “they” refer, but “competence” has been mentioned here: “I have sat through hundreds (thousands?) of hours of discussions about expert analysis — which often turned on discussions of “competence” (not best word, imo) — corporate, arbitration, academic.”

    This has been offered to substantiate this fallacy: “As for the science, I don’t believe you have accurately followed it. It requires familiarity with this aspect of the literature to understand.”

    This assertion was irrelevant to my main point: see above.

    “Are you the Pope of Science? Do you have a Nobel Prize? Otherwise I think such assertions [“Senior’s concerns have little merit”] are just hot air.”

    Again with the ad hom. How fitting after raising concerns about “time-wasting personal invective.” Senior’s concerns have been identified in my first comment: “Concerns about tone carries as much burden onto oneself than on others, and probably more.”

    There’s also: “My first comment pertained to the smarmy concerns expressed both by Senior and in your own editorial.” This sentence is in the same paragraph the one you quote. It clearly indicates that this has nothing to do with Nobel Prize. The most economical hypothesis is that you misread. There are other hypotheses. When using snark, it’s important to make sure one has read well first.

    I note that your comment was written 10 minutes after mine. The other ones were written a bit later than that. Asking for evidence requires one take the time to digest is being presented first.

    PS: This time, I’ve checked the “notify me of new comments via email”. I will be quicker in my response.

    1. Willard,

      I have no idea what you are attempting to say, as your comment makes no sense to me.

      (1) Please give me an example of evidence that you provide to support your statements. One would help understand what you’re saying.

      (2) Saying “you are not Pope of Science” is not an ad hominem statement because it does not attack your character. It is a statement of fact (I’m not, either). That is, you have no basis on which to pronounce a climate scientist’s work wrong. You could accurately say “I believe this is wrong”, in which case the logical reply would ask about your professional qualifications to do so.

  10. > Saying “you are not Pope of Science” is not an ad hominem statement because it does not attach your character.

    I disagree. From Wikipedia: “An ad hominem (Latin for “to the man” or “to the person”), short for argumentum ad hominem, means responding to arguments by attacking a person’s character, rather than to the content of their arguments. When used inappropriately, it is a fallacy in which a claim or argument is dismissed on the basis of some irrelevant fact or supposition about the author or the person being criticized. Ad hominem reasoning is not always fallacious, for example, when it relates to the credibility of statements of fact or when used in certain kinds of moral and practical reasoning. Fallacious ad hominem reasoning is normally categorized as an informal fallacy, more precisely as a genetic fallacy, a subcategory of fallacies of irrelevance.

    My scientific competence has nothing to do with my point. If you want to know what my point is, search for “my point is”.

    “Please give me an example of evidence that you provide to support your statements.”

    I just did, by showing that your “Pope” remark was ad hom. In my previous comment, I substantiated my hypothesis that you misread me by quoting myself and by observing that you take little time to read what I wrote. In the comment before that, I challenged the relevant of your experience in discussing competence by pointing to Pragma-Dialectics. In the comment before that, I recalled that a prolepsis was a figure of speech. In the comment before that, I linked to an essay about smarm. In the same comment and the one before, I gave evidence of smarm. This is just a sample, sufficient enough to deflate any impression that I don’t substantiate my claims.

    “I have no idea what you are attempting to say, as your comment makes no sense to me.”

    Which part of “My point is this: one does not simply whine about tone one day and then use snark the other day and expect to be taken seriously in Mordor.” you do not get?

    Next time you use “you make no sense,” do as you suggest and use quotes, Editor. Speaking of which, you’ve edited my comment without telling your readers.

    1. Willard,

      That was very helpful. Here’s a tangible example. You said “{Roger Pielke Jr’s} Senior’s concerns have little merit”. I said you have shown no competence as a scientist for that statement. You reply “My scientific competence has nothing to do with my point.” Well, OK. If that’s how you think, we’re done.

    2. > I said you have shown no competence as a scientist for that statement.

      Here’s what you said:

      As for the science, I don’t believe you have accurately followed it. It requires familiarity with this aspect of the literature to understand.

      This remark was irrelevant to my point, and is indeed ad hominem.

      My claim regarding Senior’s smarmy concerns does not purport to be a scientific one. It rests on the observation that Senior’s modus operandi follows a very obvious double standard. I don’t think we need a special science to establish what is a double standard. Should we consider rhetoric, basic pragmatics, and philosophy of language as sciences?

      ***

      A quote regarding your claim:

      All of these are common in the history of science, and well-described by Thomas Kuhn in his great classic The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

      might be required to make sure you observe your own requirement regarding providing evidence for one’s claim. Since you are referring to paradigms, here’s a post on how the notion of paradigm has been abused by Oliver Geden:

      http://rabett.blogspot.com/2015/05/die-paradigmgemeinschaft.html

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