New research: Social scientists look for climate denial – and find it

Summary: The social science literature about climate change includes many oddities. A new hot paper about climate denial adds to that list, and illustrates why the climate policy debate has become gridlocked.


Another social science study of climate deniers makes waves on the Left: “Text-mining the signals of climate change doubt” by Constantine Boussalis and Travis G. Coan in the highly-ranked journal Global Environmental Change, January 2016. The abstract reads like real news…

“…This study contributes to the literature on organized climate scepticism by providing the first systematic overview of conservative think tank sceptical discourse in nearly 15 years. Specifically, we

  1. compile the largest corpus of contrarian literature to date, collecting over 16,000 documents from 19 organizations over the period 1998–2013;
  2. introduce a methodology to measure key themes in the corpus which scales to the substantial increase in content generated by conservative think tanks over the past decade; and
  3. leverage this new methodology to shed light on the relative prevalence of science- and policy-related discussion among conservative think tanks.”

“We find little support for the claim that “the era of science denial is over” — instead, discussion of climate science has generally increased over the sample period.”

The authors execute these goals described in the three bullets with detail and skill. From which they draw the conclusion of the last sentence. But their evidence provides little support for that conclusion; it is almost irrelevant to it. They state their conclusions in more detail. …

  1. “The overall level of CTT {conservative think tank} information has grown rapidly over the past decade and a half, reaching a peak during late 2009-early 2010.
  2. Topics questioning the integrity of individual scientists and scientific bodies appear closer (semantically) to politics than science, suggesting that claims often consider the hallmark of scientific skepticism are rooted in politics.
  3. The era of climate science denial is not over. …
  4. CTTs tend to react to the external environment — i.e., they counter claims …”

They provide strong evidence and analysis for their first, second, and fourth conclusions. This post discusses the third. Citations are omitted from the following quotations.


A strong opening followed by a quick shift to denialism

“Climate scientists overwhelming agree that the Earth is getting warmer and that the rise in average global temperature is predominantly due to human activity. Yet a sizeable segment of the American public rejects this “consensus view” and U.S. climate policy remains in a state of limbo. As of early 2015, 1/3 of the American public believes that climate change is not primarily caused by human activity and only 1 in 10 understands that more than 90% of climate scientists agree on the existence and nature of observed global warming. What explains this divergence in views among climate scientists and the American public? What factors promote inaction on comprehensive climate change mitigation policy? These questions have garnered considerable attention in disciplines across the social and behavioural sciences.”

The authors then quickly steer onto the rocks. In the first three pages they say …

  • “One prominent explanation investigates the influence of a “well-funded and relatively coordinated ‘denial machine’” in shaping the public’s understanding of climate science. …
  • Specifically, the environmental movement is viewed as promoting social change, the denial countermovement is viewed as preserving the status quo …
  • Viewed largely as an extension of the conservative movement in the U.S., organized climate denial was born out of the deep pockets of conservative foundations and corporate interest groups committed to promoting free-market principles and rolling back government intervention in all aspects of the economy …
  • It is within the shift from direct to indirect challenges to environmental policy that the full importance of CTTs in the denial countermovement comes into view.
  • … as the engine of information in the “denial machine,” CTTs are the agents actually responsible for “framing the field” of AGW. Communications research repeatedly emphasizes the sensitivity …
  • As such, CTTs arguably provide the ‘“connective tissue’ that helps hold the denial countermovement together”. …
  • CTTs transform this material base into information, generating the narrative of climate denial; …
  • Nevertheless, despite a general understanding, considerably more research is needed to fully specify the linkages between key actors in the denial countermovement and longitudinal data is necessary to test dynamic theories of organized climate scepticism.”

This is powerful but devoid of meaning since the paper never defines “denial”. The literal meaning of “denying” science or “denying” climate change constitutes serious but easy to prove changes (perhaps libelous if made without evidence). Silence on this key point is inexplicable. Where were the reviewers?  (For more about defining “denial” see this note.)

The closest they come to a description is the following, paraphrasing “Challenging Global Warming as a Social Problem: An Analysis of the Conservative Movement’s Counter-Claims” by Aaron M. McCright and Riley E. Dunlap in Social Problems, November 2000 (ungated copy) …

“Overall, the analysis suggests that climate scepticism during this period {1996 and 1997} centred on three major counter-claims:

  1. the evidentiary basis of global warming is weak or wrong,
  2. global warming would be beneficial if it was to occur, and
  3. global warming policies would do more harm than good.”

This is low-grade science. Look at the first item. Global warming is not a binary condition, and it exists as past warming (data) and future warming (forecasts). The coding system McCright and Dunlap ignores both factors. It does not distinguish between questioning data (the magnitude of past warming, including pre-instrument data) and forecasts (the likelihood and magnitude of forecasted future warming).

McCright and Dunlap give brief quotes, but name only the source — no date, title, or URL to allow verification. The quotes lack any context; readers cannot tell if they refer to past warming over millennia, centuries, or specific decades of the past or future. Without that we do not know if this is “flat earth” pseudoscience or a discussion of cutting-edge forecasts of models. Whatever the physical scientific basis of the conservatives cited, McCright and Dunlap give us sloppy social science.

Conspiracy theories everywhere

Boussalis and Coan do “Topic Interpretation”

They give little evidence supporting their conclusions about climate “denial”. Their elaborate data collection produces no data of such specificity.

They provide a small number of quotes, but often in misleading fashion. For example they give an excerpt from “Temperatures Flat Despite Record Rise in Emissions” by James M. Taylor of the Heartland Institute, 11 November 2011 — carefully sculpted to look wrong. Here is a better excerpt (in no rational sense is this denial of science or warming).

“In light of the 2010 emissions data, global carbon dioxide emissions have risen by fully a third since the year 2001, yet global temperatures have not risen over the past decade. Global warming activists contend carbon dioxide emissions are the sole or primary factor in global temperature changes, yet global temperatures show no change despite a 33% increase in global carbon dioxide emissions. The fact that global temperatures are not rising despite such a significant increase in carbon dioxide emissions provides validation of skeptical arguments, not a cause for heightened alarm.

“… The real-world disconnect between carbon dioxide emissions and global temperatures is one of the factors that argues strongly against such a scenario, however. Temperatures have risen merely 0.2 to 0.3°C during the past third of a century and have not risen at all during the past decade.”

They also quote statements “challenging the agreement of scientists” that “emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is leading to a rise in global temperatures”. For example, this from “You Call This Consensus?” by Joseph Bast of the Heartland Institute, 7 July 2011. It is accurate; the authors imply but do not show otherwise.

“Contrary to what you read repeatedly in daily newspapers or hear on television, most scientists do not believe there is a “scientific consensus” that man-made climate change (often labeled anthropogenic global warming, or AGW) is or will be a catastrophe. … It is important to distinguish between the statement, which is true, that there is no scientific consensus that AGW is or will be a catastrophe, and the also-true claims that the climate is changing (of course it is, it is always changing) and that most scientists believe there may be a human impact on climate (our emissions and alterations of the landscape are surely having an impact …”

The headline IPCC statement — the subject of so many surveys proving almost total concurrence by climate scientists — concerns anthropogenic warming since 1950. Are there any studies showing a consensus of climate scientists about the likelihood of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming?

Also, the authors appear unaware of the peer-review literature about past climate change, as when they cite these as evidence of conservative’s denial machine in action …

“Appeals to long-term natural cycles in temperature, as purportedly demonstrated by the Roman and Medieval Warm periods, are also common.”

“Many documents also suggest alternative climate forcing inputs such as the sun or cosmic rays.”

They do not give an example. However, the Roman and Medieval Warm periods are historical fact, although the sparse temperature record has prevented definitive determination of their geographic scope.

As for the sun, there is a large peer-reviewed literature suggesting that it has a large effect on climate (see the papers listed in section 7), although AR5 gives it little credence (“There is very low confidence concerning future solar forcing estimates, but there is high confidence that the TSI RF variations will be much smaller than the projected increased forcing due to GHG during the forthcoming decades.).

This tour has only covered the first four pages, with five more to go. However these give a representative view of the paper’s methods and accuracy.


A last note: about sources

The authors cite a wide range of sources, including activists’ publications (e.g. of the Union of Concerned Scientists, mostly non-scientists) and their websites — such as Skeptical Science, despite its history of providing false information (example here). Typical of their sources is “Organized Climate Change Denial” by Riley E. Dunlap and Aaron M. McCright in The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society (2011, copy here). It is a literature review (as usual, citing many papers by activist groups).


“The era of climate science denial is not over.”

Boussalis and Coan make four conclusions, but their finding of “science denial” gets the most attention — deservedly so. They identify climate denial by reasoning which is little more than organized prejudice, an inexplicable oversight of the reviewers. Perhaps their conclusion about “denial” is correct, but they make little effort to prove it.

This is yet another of the obviously weak social science studies about climate denial that shape the minds of people on the Left. They like the conclusions and applaud. Criticism from the Right is ignored, presumed inherently invalid — as the authors do with conservatives’ writings in this study.

This is epistemic closure (an extreme form of confirmation bias working within a community), dominating their thinking, as it so often does on the Right. It shows the common culture of Americans, and our blindness — as each sees this in their foes, but not in themselves.

About the authors

Constantine Boussalis is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Trinity College Dublin (personal website here) and holds a Ph.D. in political science. Travis G. Coan is a statistician and Lecturer at Harvard Law School; he has a Ph.D. in political science (C.V. here).

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32 thoughts on “New research: Social scientists look for climate denial – and find it”

  1. Describing “climate denial” (or “denial of climate science”)

    A casual search of the social science literature (I do not have subscriptions to social science journals) found no definitions of “denial”, odd given the large literature discussing it.

    I did find discussions of these terms. Typical of these is this from “Organized Climate Change Denial” by Riley E. Dunlap and Aaron M. McCright in The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society (2011, copy here).

    “The actions of those who consistently seek to deny the seriousness of climate change make the terms ‘denial’ and ‘denier’ more accurate then ‘skepticism’ and ‘skeptic’, particularly since all scientists tend to be skeptics. We will, however, refer to scientists involved in the denial machine as ‘contrarians.’ ” …

    This is vague. “Deny the seriousness of climate change” compared to what benchmark or standard? The seriousness as described in the reports of IPCC or NOAA? The Union of Concerned Scientists or World Wildlife Fund (both so often cited in the “grey literature”. The rants on Skeptical Science?

    This is politics pretending to be social science, a commonplace in the social science literature.

  2. You fear mongering, goose stepping climate blame “believers” are pure war criminals in the coming history books! Science never lied, you exaggerated their vague science.
    The price you fear mongering climate blamers will pay will be in the history books because what is stopping another 35 years of debate, disbelief and climate action delay?
    Abusing and violating vague climate science just as an excuse to blame and hate conservatives was not “progressive”or civilized.
    Climate change scientists only agreed it “could be” a CO2 end of days and have NEVER agreed it was as real as they agree “smoking causing cancer” so why would you WANT this misery to be real for our children?

    Who’s the fear mongering neocon in our children’s history books?

    *Move on because Occupy no longer mentions CO2 in it’s list of demands.

    1. Meme,

      You don’t state to what you obect. For the record, I’m a dogmatic supporter of the IPCC and major climate agencies. What you believe is not visible amidst your delusional rank. Still, it’s another one for the collection. But not in the top quintile (I grade for style and clarity). Here’s my favorite:

      “…if you catch Ebola just remember your nice article calling anyone concerned chicken little as your lungs fill with fluid, and your shitting and vomiting blood.”
      By Sam, October 14. One of the many terrified commenters, fruit of conservatives’ fear-mongering

  3. This reminds me of Gallileo and the buzz saw he walked into arguing heliocentric vs geocentric in his time, beautifully presented graphically here:

    The problem which cost him his life was the Patronage system of that time. Powerful oligarchic patrons squared of in that debate and science took a back seat. Oops. Let’s try not to do that again. BTW I’m not saying I know which side is Gallileo in the AGW debate.

  4. For the big picture on Gallileo this is from that bad Reddit link above:

    Galileo, Courtier by Mario Biagioli is an excellent read on the subject. It explores the life of Galileo by following his political and social choices, and uses patronage culture to analyse the controversy he caused. Makes for quite a different story compared to the common misconception that Galileo was persecuted simply for having an opinion.

  5. Seems that one of the most shocking scientific realizations of all time has slowly been dawning on us: an abrupt cooling could be triggered by our current global-warming trend. More than that, since you spoke about the past, here’s another idea, the one referring to the fact that World War Two had a huge impact over our weather: Adolf Hitler started WWII on 1st September 1939 and only four months later Europe plugged into the coldest winter for more than 100 years.

    1. Smamarver,

      One rule I follow that has served me well: only follow the major climate agencies and the peer-reviewed literature. The internet overflows with theories about science, which I have little ability to assess. This limits my info diet to a reasonable range of quality.

  6. Pingback: New research: Social scientists look for climate denial – and find it | Watts Up With That?

  7. You have got their names slightly wrong because you’ve copied and pasted them including the superscripts a and b. Should be Boussalis and Coan, in several places . A trivial point, but it might mean that your blog won’t come up in google searches for the names.

    Otherwise a very nice post. You say you’ve only got through the first four pages – are you planning another post, or is that all you can stomach?

    The paper is causing some consternation because recently the left has been fooling itself into believing things like “the debate on the science is over, and now we need to debate what action to take”.

    1. Paul,

      I wrote enough to make my point.

      This kind of review is seldom done because it requires a lot of time and gets little attention. Both sides in the climate debate, like everyone else, are ruled by the Laws of Clickbait.

      Of course, that lack of review is why shoddy work like this proliferates.

  8. Papers on climate denialism often cite Diethelm & McKee “Denialism: what is it and how should scientists respond?” {European Journal of Public Health, January 2009}. They’re health policy experts concerned with the serious questions of AIDS and the effects of tobacco, but their paper cites as its source for the definition of denialism “What is denialism” available at “The Denialism Blog” at the The Science Blog website. See its “About” page.

    This is a blog by the Hoofnagle brothers, neither of whom are scientists as far as I know.

    1. Geoff,

      Thank you for that useful information! (I lightly edited it for clarity. Added a link to the D&M article; the link to the D. blog was invalid). They define denialism as follows:

      “Denialism is the employment of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in actuality there is none. These false arguments are used when one has few or no facts to support one’s viewpoint against a scientific consensus or against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They are effective in distracting from actual useful debate using emotionally appealing, but ultimately empty and illogical assertions.”

      It’s a fine definition. But very few of the people accused of “denialism” do anything remotely meeting their definition. Especially the “denialist” scientists such as Judith Curry, Roger Pielke Sr and Jr.

      For the extreme example, see Naomi Oreskes’ use of the term in “There is a new form of climate denialism to look out for – so don’t celebrate yet“, op-ed in The Guardian, 16 December 2015 — “At the exact moment in which we need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel, we’re being told that renewable sources can’t meet our energy needs.”

  9. The editor writes that “very few of the people accused of “denialism” do anything remotely meeting their definition”, referencing the definition of denial as “rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in actuality there is none”.

    It’s clear this topic is a semantic morass. The original authors being critiqued are clearly leaning on prevailing scientific consensus (itself a disputable definition) to define lines of argument that are bereft of genuine grounds for legitimate debate (another disputable concept). In other words, nothing to truly resolve here.

    Putting semantic hair-splitting aside though, it is still fairly straightforward to acknowledge that there are *many* people repeating factually bereft claims – despite repeated corrections by relevant scientific experts – driven by what clearly appears to be politically motivated reasoning. Why is it easy to say that? Because you do it in your very article here.

    James Taylor is a bit of an amazing choice for a pundit that you wish to defend from the accusation of denialism, however defined. His claim here, which you approvingly reproduce, that “global temperatures are not rising” is simply factually incorrect.

    One can tediously (again, and again) show references to all of the data sets showing warming on earth, including in the last decade – the data on ocean warming (where the great bulk of energy accumulation predicted by physical theory occurs, steep as ever in the past decade), and in all of the surface temperature data sets such as NASA’s GISS.

    The claim of “no warming” as circulated online is a cherry pick of one of the microwave estimates of upper air temperature. Are you really not aware of this? It is the surface and ocean, not the upper air, that is primarily relevant both in terms of the physical processes/theory and the impact that people are concerned about. The chosen tropospheric data set (RSS) is the flattest available, in conflict with other similar estimates (UAH, NOAA’s STAR) and in conflict with what actual in situ thermometer readings we have from the radiosonde (weather balloon) network (shows warming).

    However, the point of the use of the (admittedly difficult and polarizing) term “denialism” is that it doesn’t matter how many times these contrary facts are pointed out, the claims of “no global warming in N years” are continuously repeated. You will doubtless repeat it several times in your next series of FM posts on climate.

    Help the rest of us understand. If James Taylor’s and your web site’s entrenchment over such concepts is not rooted in some form of emotional or psychological denial, where does it come from?

    Or feel free to rigorously defend your claim that there has been no observed warming anywhere in the global climate. In general, the unwillingness or inability to defend such claims while continuing to repeat them is exactly the sort of behavior that invokes unpleasant terms like “denial”.

    Btw, to elaborate on why your defense of James Taylor is so particularly gobsmacking, this is an author who literally cites sociological studies of *petroleum engineers in Alberta* to support invented headlines such as “Peer-Reviewed Survey Finds Majority Of Scientists Skeptical Of Global Warming Crisis”. Meaning, he cited the opinions of the former while pretending it was a test of the latter. If this sort of thing is not inventing the appearance of debate while rejecting an obvious reality (consensus in climate science as reflected by endorsements from literally every national academy of science and relevant physical science organization in the world), then what *would* meet the definition as you would interpret it?

    1. Geoff,

      You give one specific in your rant, concerning this statement by Taylor: “… The real-world disconnect between carbon dioxide emissions and global temperatures is one of the factors that argues strongly against such a scenario, however. Temperatures have risen merely 0.2 to 0.3°C during the past third of a century and have not risen at all during the past decade.”

      First, he is obviously referring to surface atmosphere temperature: the standard metric of “warming”outside the technical literature. It is the primary metric used in reports of the major climate agencies (e.g., NOAA, IPCC) because it has the greatest immediate affect on our lives.

      Also, I was not giving a global statement about Taylor but reviewing the accuracy of a specific quotation given as evidence. That you cannot see the difference is odd, but an example of the “rebuttal to something not said” tactic common by activists (i.e, tossing chaff into a discussion).

      Second, you deny the consensus of climate scientists that there is “pause” or “hiatus” in warming. That is sad but typical. I suggest you look through these citations of peer-reviewed literature, conference papers, and reports of the major climate agencies discussing the pause. There are almost 100 of them, with links and abstracts.

      1. Still good news: global temperatures remain stable, at least for now..
      2. Scientists explore causes of the pause in warming, perhaps the most important research of the decade.
      3. One of the most important questions we face: when will the pause in global warming end?

      If you disagree with, for example, the UK Met Office’s major report about the pause then I suggest you write to them. They await your rebuttal.

      Third, yes there are indicators of deep ocean heating. This is one of the 12 major explanations for the pause. This warming is, however, near or smaller than the resolving power of the instruments used (smaller even than that of the ARGO dataset). It’s smaller than the far more accurate sea surface temperature datasets (see this note by a NOAA scientist).

      1. Well, you’re not answering the question or defending your claim. The fact that various reports use a term like “pause” does not support your claim of no global warming in ten years. Why are you unwilling to reference data to support your claim? For the obvious reason that data does not support your claim, correct? Hence the muddled appeal to authorities.

        Do any of your citations directly address the question of your claim? No. Would the Met Office support your claim of no observed warming globally in the past decade or two? I’d be happy to bet you on that. If you think they would, contact them and make *that* the subject of a post. That would actually be interesting.

        Your comments on ocean warming are similarly ludicrous. It is an elementary statistical fallacy to believe, as oceanographer Stefan Rahmstorf puts it here:

        ““Climate skeptics’” web sites even claim that the measurement uncertainty in the average of 3000 Argo probes is the same as that from each individual one. Thus not only are the results of climate research called into question, but even the elementary rules of uncertainty calculus that every science student learns in their first semester. Anything goes when you have to deny global warming.”

        It seems you are unable to contribute to the question of what drives denial because you are unable to observe it in yourself. I suspect that if we were on a different subject more politically palatable to you, you could see the sort of “anything goes!” fallacies and sophistry invoked here more clearly for what it obviously is. I suppose the core psychological mystery will have to be left unilluminated…

      2. Geoff,

        You did make one factual statement: “Climate skeptics’” web sites even claim that the measurement uncertainty in the average of 3000 Argo probes is the same as that from each individual one.”

        I did not say that, or anything remotely like that. I said that the measurement uncertainty in sea temperatures is smaller than the indicated change in deep ocean temps. The NOAA cite I gave said that measurements of the NINO3.4 region sea surface temp — far more accurate than the history of the global deep ocean temp data — has an uncertainty of 0.3C. For comparison, the change from 1950-2000 for the upper 2000 meters of the global oceans is estimated at 0.09C — and order of magnitude smaller (that’s from memory).

  10. I see you cite Riley Dunlap as a source for the paper. He is a key figure in the development of social science in the service of climate activism, being one of the inventors back in the seventies of a thing called the New Ecological Paradigm, a battery of questions for use in social surveys of the type: “Do you agree that the balance of nature is very delicate and easily upset?”
    What was interesting was that in the paper giving rise to this “new paradigm” Dunlap and Van Liere gave as their source, not some scientific study, but a book by Pirages and Ehrlich called “Ark II” which is a woolly leftist call for the replacement of democracy by a government by a technocratic élite – a sort of Ayn Randism of the left.
    Scientists, and especially social scientists, show an increasing tendency to retreat behind their wall of peer reviewed science, which cannot be criticised except via the same peer reviewed scientific press. Yet when you explore the intellectual foundations of their irreproachable science, you find its based on blogs and political tracts. This is a form of intellectual corruption that goes far beyond the specific attack on “science denialism”.

  11. Pingback: The Mad World of Climate Home | Climate Scepticism

  12. Whose idea was it to tack the epithet ‘Catastrophic’ on to the copacetic fact of ‘AGW’?

    The result isn’t even jargon- it’s mere semantic agression , a Ciceronian PR construct on a par with PC ideologues reflexive use of ‘racist’ as a conversation stopper.

    1. Russell,

      “Whose idea was it to tack the epithet ‘Catastrophic’ on to the copacetic fact of ‘AGW’?”

      “Catastrophic” is an accurate description of a range of forecasts for results of global warming. Some are based on RCP8.5 the worst of the scenarios described in AR5. Some are based on scenarios AR5 considers unlikely, such as a massive release of methane or melting of large portions of the antarctic ice cap.

      Also, in what sense is AGW “copacetic” — aka “fine” or “satisfactory”? As in the example Merriam-Webster gives, “Don’t worry, I assure you that everything’s copacetic.”

      1. Russell,

        Thanks for the link to your post at V-Watts Up With That. It’s always interesting to see how both extremes in the climate wars mirror each other’s behavior. Most notably, considering science to be that which matches their bias — and denying science that disagrees with them. The 4th entry on your post gives a good example.

        “Piers Corbyn: Labor Party supremo Jeremy Corbyn’s less intelligent older brother. The global cooling prognosticator’s more impressive publications include a magisterial Geographical Journal RGS survey of the size of the pebbles on Chesil Beach, and DIY instructions for a brine-filled barometer. He believes the sun causes earthquakes.”

        It gives no links, so all we have to go on is what you say. Which is quite daft.

        (a) Predicting “global cooling” is legitimate science, especially since this doesn’t say over what time horizon. We are, after all, in an interglacial period. That is, cooling is probable — eventually.

        (b) Studying the size of pebbles on the beach might tell us a lot, when interpreted by a scientist (wave strengths? history of tsunami?). Much science sounds pointless when described by the ignorant.

        (c) “DIY instructions for a brine-filled barometer” sounds like a typical article in the popular Amateur Scientist column which ran for 72 years in Scientific American.

        (d) “He believes the sun causes earthquakes.” Many scientists believe that the sun has a powerful effect on earth’s crust. From the New York Times, 12 January 2016:

        “Recently, Dr. Tolstoy of Columbia University drew on such acoustic data from nine seabed eruptions over nearly two decades to paint a group portrait full of surprises. It turned out that all of those eruptions, from the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, took place from January to June. The cause, she proposed, is Earth’s slightly elliptical orbit around the sun. That changes the strength of the sun’s gravitational pull on Earth during the year and, as a result, the magnitude of the tides that squeeze the planet. She said the eruptions coincided with the annual letup of the squeeze.”

        I suspect you’re a troll. Worse, the above suggests you are a science-denier. Your comments are moderated. Anything even remotely sensible will be posted.

      2. A smart reader emailed me, saying that Russell probably would mis-interpret my comment. Here’s a clearer summary:

        As my collection of web publishers’ comments about comments shows, belief is widespread that comments have a too-high fraction of trolls and crazies. My reply to Russell’s post about commenters at WUWT was not a defense of all those he highlights (although his “evidence” is mostly just mockery). Rather, I found interesting he wrote like the Pope of Science — mocking scientists with many notable peer-reviewed publications because he, Russell!, disagreed with them (he doesn’t mention his qualifications for making such evaluations, or state how many real scientists agree with Him).

        This behavior is a commonplace on both extremes of the climate wars, and has helped turn this vital debate into a cacophony.

    1. “Lack of quotation of the word in quotation marks duly noted-”

      Can anyone explain the meaning of that sentence? Russell’s original comment was…

      ” Whose idea was it to tack the epithet ‘Catastrophic’ on to the copacetic fact of ‘AGW’? “

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