Thanks to Dave C at Auckland Skeptics in the Pub
Archive February 2010
This is a sane word of advice at the time of hysterical attacks on climate science and scientists under the “climategate” tag.
It comes in a submission from the University of East Anglia to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Science and Technology investigating the “climategate” business. It finishes with the comment:
“Given that the stakes for humanity are so high in correctly interpreting the evidence of global warming, we would meanwhile urge scientists, academics, journalists and public servants to resist the distortions of hearsay evidence or orchestrated campaigns of misinformation, and instead to encourage open, intelligent debate.”
Ah, if only! Recently on another thread we had a denier accusing scientists of ’Lying’ and being ’eco-fascists,’ ’lying parasites,’ and ’parasites of the environmental movement.’
The submission covers the key accusations being made by the climategate deniers and might be an eye-opener to some.
They say “Lies get half way around the world before truth gets its boots on.” It takes time but truth will eventually out.
I look forward to the time that all these inquiries report their findings.
Update (or BREAKING NEWS as Ian Wishart would claim): It’s also worth having a read of this statement Climate change and the scientific process from the Office of the NZ Prime Minister’s Science Advisory Committee. A printable version of ’Climate change and the scientific process’ is available for download here ( PDF file, 139 kb).
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- University of East Anglia rejects lost climate data claims (guardian.co.uk)
Deniers distort Phil Jones Feb 25No Comments
Let’s differentiate again between climate change sceptics (who are prepared to rationally consider and discuss the science) and climate change deniers (who have an emotional commitment to denying climate change and see the science as just the result of a huge conspiracy). Currently there is a feeding frenzy amongst the deniers. Hysterical claims are being made and promoted on the flimsiest of evidence, even against the evidence. They are promoting anything and everything that can possibly be misinterpreted to discredit scientific conclusions and scientists. And, yes, these attacks do get nasty and personal.
This must be making the true climate change sceptics very uncomfortable. More of them should publicly dissociate themselves from this hysterical anti-scientific campaign.
Warming since 1995?
Predictably, several local blogging deniers took on the misreporting of the recent BBC interview with climate scientist Phil Jones. Several of his statements have been used to make distorted, even completely fraudulent, claims. Here I only consider the misreporting of Jone’s comment on global warming since 1995:
Here is the question and answer (see Q&A: Professor Phil Jones for full interview):
“Question: Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming
Answer: Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achievingin scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.”
At least three local bloggers reported this as a u-turn. A concession that warming was no longer occurring. A denial of previous work! Essentially they were repeated the headlines of overseas conservaqtive and denier newspapers and blogs.
- Not PC trumpeted Wheels falling off the climate science deniers [updated].
- Conspiracy theorist Ian Wishart (TBR.cc “Investigate magazine’s breaking news forum”) declared ADMISSION: No statistically significant warming since 1995.
- And Richard Treadgold at the Climate Conversation Group (the political arm of the NZ Climate Science Coalition) uncritically repeated the conservative and denier headlines Phil Jones: ’No global warming since 1995â€³.
Now you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see these bloggers are completely distorting the whole meaning of Phil Jones’ comment. But, if you want to dig a bit deeper and get your head around the implications of statistical comments like this watch this video by potholer54. It deals specifically with this distortion:
An earlier video from potholer54 deals with the more general question. See 8. Climate Change — Has the Earth been cooling?
Faith schools Feb 241 Comment
New Zealand has bigots too Feb 232 Comments
I actually thought this wouldn’t happen in good old New Zealand. We are a tolerant lot and seem quite happy with our largely secular society. But there’s always some die-hards wanting to spoil it, isn’t there?
This press release from the NZ Atheist Bus Campaign describes how the NZ Bus company has reversed their approval of the adverts because of public complaints.
The NZ Atheist Bus Campaign, which late last year raised in excess of $20,000 from public donations, has met a set back in their plans. Nationwide bus company NZ Bus, who had tentatively approved the campaign’s ads on buses in major city centres, have now rejected them.
NZ Bus stated that they have received a number of complaints from the public about the proposed ads, which read “There’s probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
Spokesperson for the Atheist Bus Campaign Simon Fisher says “It’s concerning that peaceful atheist messages are not allowed on buses while religious messages are often seen on buses and in public. Messages of atheism are rare in New Zealand and we aim to raise awareness for the one-third of New Zealanders who are unconvinced by the claims of religion.”
Organisers of the Campaign tried to reach a resolution with NZ Bus, and later attempted mediation sessions through the Human Rights Commission. NZ Bus refused to participate in these mediation sessions. Because they are refusing to discuss the matter and reach an agreement, the organisers of the Campaign are now investigating the possibility of taking this case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.
Simon Fisher says “we’re disappointed at the response from NZ Bus and plan to look at options going forward. We owe it to the thousands of Kiwis who have supported this campaign with donations and messages of support.”
Advertisements with identical wording ran in the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and Spain. Similar campaigns also ran successfully in Croatia, Finland, Holland, Italy, America and across the Tasman in Australia.
“We are gravely concerned that in New Zealand we’re unable to present an atheistic message, showing that we do not have the same practical freedom of expression as in other first world countries. It highlights why this campaign is so necessary.” said spokesperson Simon Fisher.
The Campaign will continue to accept donations for advertising, see http://www.nogod.org.nz for further details.
Why don’t these complainants identify themselves? Let us hear their arguments. A complaint to the Human Rights Review Tribunal might provide us that opportunity.
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There are 152 NZ blogs with publicly accessible sitemeter stats on this list. Mind you I have now found over 1000 NZ blogs and most of them just don’t make their statistics accessible. I am sure there are some bloggers who don’t understand how to install a publicly accessible sitemeter or statcounter.
The blogs are listed in the table below, together with daily visits and page view numbers averaged over the previous 7 days. The data was that given by the NZ blog ranking tool on Wednesday February 17th.
This can be seen at NZ blogs average daily visits.
Have a look at that tool. Its a way of comparing your own blog’s performance from day to day – a roller coaster ride which can be quite exciting!
Just be aware that it relies on spreadsheets at Google Docs and data is not always available. If the data is missing or incomplete, wait a while and reload the page. It will eventually show up.
Meanwhile I am still keen to hear of any other blogs with publicly available sitemeter stats that I have missed. Contact me if you know of any.
Find out how to get Subscription & email updates
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- NZ blogs sitemeter ranking – January ‘10 (openparachute.wordpress.com)
One is tempted to see a conspiracy – and no doubt there are all sorts of links between organisations and campaigns are easily plotted. But I think what we have is something a bit more uncoordinated. More an accident of history.
A conspiracy of sorts
I think what we are seeing a coming together of three things:
- The climate deniersphere – blogs, conservative newspapers, denier and sceptic organisations – international and well linked to New Zealand;
- The ultra conservative US Republicans (pro-Palin) “teaparty” “revolution” against President Obama, climate change, science and anything liberal;
- A growing effectiveness of social media like Twitter in communicating propaganda.
Do I sound paranoid to you? Have a look at twitter searches for “climategate.” Most of these are in the hysterical denier mould. Many are disseminating links to very recently published articles. And most distort the content of the articles.
Finally – check out the hashtags used (these help identify communities involved in propagating the messages). Here is a list with their description (from tagdef) – in decreasing order of use:
- #tcot – Top Conservatives on Twitter is a coalition of conservatives on the Internet. This hashtag has over 1 million followers.
- #teaparty- Tax protests held nation-wide against the spending for TARP, stimulus, and big-budget government.
- #ocra – Organized Conservative Resistance Alliance
- #cot – United Conservatives On Twitter
- #sgp – Smart Girl Politics – A Conservative Women’s Movement.
Hatchet job on Phil Jones
The “climategate” treatment of a recent BBC interview of Phil Jones by conservative social media entries, blogs and newspapers provides an example of this in action. See Q&A: Professor Phil Jones & ‘Climategate’ expert Jones says data not well organised for the original articles.
One could question Jones’ decision to be interviewed, particularly as the questions were largely selected by climate change sceptics and Jones got little chance to put his answers in context. However, his responses were balanced and open. He expressed some regret at language used in the emails and his treatment of freedom of information requests. However, in no way did he back away from the science of climate change.
But the resultingconservative headlines were complete dishonest. For example American Thinker - Climategate’s Phil Jones Confesses to Climate Fraud; Daily Mail – Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995; Gateway Pundit – It Was All a Lie: Climategate Scientist Admits There Is No Global Warming; News Busters – ClimateGate’s Phil ‘Hide the Decline’ Jones Admits Manipulating Data. And, of course the twitters with #tcot and similar tags were just as misleading and hysterical – fo not worse.
Along the chain the conservative bloggers took up the “message,” with varying degrees of deception in their post titles. And in New Zealand we get local conspiracy theorist Ian declaring BREAKING NEWS: CRU’s Jones admits climate data problems, and Medieval Warm Period and ADMISSION: No statistically significant warming since 1995. Poor old Ian – he does tend to overuse words like “breaking news” and “admission”, doesn’t he. The New Zealand Conservative asked sarcastically No kidding Professor; and the Climate Conversation Group declared Phil Jones: ’No global warming since 1995â€³.
Intentional statistical ignorance
There are several aspects of Jones’ interview which have been distorted in the reports. I just deal here with the way that deniers are claiming Jones has reversed his stand and now believes that there is no global warming! This deception relies partly on selective quoting (an insignificant trend of -.012 degrees from 2002 – 2009 leading to headlines that Jone declared that there is global cooling!) and a (probably intentional) misunderstanding of what statistical significance means. This later point is well explained in this short article from the Center for Environmental Journalism see (Jones: Warming since 1995 not statistically significant):
“In an interview with the BBC, Phil Jones, the embattled director of the British Climatic Research Unit, said that an observed warming trend of 0.12 degrees C per decade between 1995 to 2009 was ’not significant at the 95% significance level.’ On the other hand, he said, it was quite close to being statistically significant.
Predictably, the deniosphere jumped all over this. For example, here was Marc Morano’s headline at Climate Depot:
The Jig is Up! Climategate U-turn as Phil Jones admits: There has been no warming since 1995.
Either Marc knows nothing about statistics, or he is deliberately twisting the facts – or both. Phil Jones simply did not say that there has been no warming since 1995.
A 95 percent significance level simply means there is actually a 5 percent chance of a particular finding occurring purely by chance. So here’s what Jones is saying, in essence: There is a very slightly greater than 5 percent chance that the measured warming of 0.12 degrees C per decade between 1995 and 2009 was a statistical fluke – in other words, not real.
Or flop it around: There is a slightly less than 95 percent chance that the observed warming actually happened.
By convention, 95 percent significance often is considered ’good enough to be believed.’ But this is purely arbitrary, and it does not mean that something with a 94 percent significance level is categorically untrue. If a doctor told you that there was a 94 percent chance that you would die of cancer unless you underwent a particular treatment, what would do? Would you say, ’Well doc, if there was a 95 percent chance, I’d accept the treatment, but since it’s just a 94 percent chance, I’ll decline’?
Somehow, I doubt it. I think you’d probably take the treatment.
The problem with the temperature record between 1995 and 2009 probably is not that there has been no warming during that period. The problem, as Jones told the BBC, is this: ’Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.’
You probably won’t hear that important statement from skeptics like Marc Morano, or from the news media for that matter. But it’s important, because it emphasizes a crucial fact: Climate change is best documented over the course of decades, not years. And over the course of decades, Jones told the BBC, the trend is very clear: The global climate has warmed at a rate of approximately 0.163 degrees C per decade since 1860.”
Recently I passed on detail of a new iphone/ipodtouch app providing access to the facts of climate change science (see Get your climate change science on the run). This seems to be catching on.
Anyway it’s upset some of those involved in trying to create confusion about climate change.
Yesterday one of their blogs, Climate Realists, sent out this alert see (WARNING! New Site set up as an iphone app to put down “Climate Realists”):
WARNING! There is an iphone app trying to put down what we have to say under the heading of “Skeptical Science”.
We need as many of you as possible to promote that this iphone app is yet another attempt to discredit “Climate Realists”.
I can only hope the general public can see through this as a cheap trick to prop up the FAILED SCIENCE OF MAN MADE CLIMATE CHANGE.
We need another iphone app that shows our side of the argument as it is, rather then what a supporter AGW thinks it is!
Please send this message to all known friendly sites that support our side.