I know many of us feel this instinctively. But think about it. Have a look at your computer’s motherboard.
Another problem to obsess the conspiracy theorists?
From Pundit Kitchen.
We have seen a wave of anti-climate change hysteria in the last few months – coinciding with the stealing of emails from the East Anglia Climate Centre and the UN Copenhagen Conference. Posts and comments on internet blogs and forums have been particularly extreme. And for many scientists, who usually don’t have to involve themselves in such irrational debates, the hostility, even hatred, towards scientists and scientific finding has been somewhat of a shock.
We are so used to debating, even emotionally debating, evidence – not personalities. But in this global debate personalities have been demonised and defamed. Mud is being thrown – and of course mud has the problem that it sometimes sticks. While most of this hysteria has been coming from the usual conspiracy theorists and conservative political activists many of the non-aligned public may be left with the feeling that there is something wrong in the scientific community. Or that scientific findings should not be easily accepted, perhaps they should even be rejected because they are scientific. Science itself is being demonised.
It’s an ongoing battle, I guess. These sorts of conflicts are inevitable and just have to be fought out.
Our local conspiracy theorist, conservative Christian activist Ian Wishart, is again promoting personal attacks on a New Zealand scientist. In his article NZ scientist at centre of Pachauri allegations refuses to talk, Wishart, together with a UK conspiracy theorist group, EU Referendum, is accusing Andy Reisinger* of involvement in money laundering (see Pachauri: money laundering? Part II – by Richard…). Wisharts links with overseas conservative groups are enabling this story to be spread more widely. For example American Thinker (sic) and UD/RK SamhÃ¤lls Debatt are repeating it in their posts When it comes to the IPCC, follow the money – if you can and Climate Gate — All the manipulations and lies revealed 219 . (For some strange reason EU Referendum and UD/RK SamhÃ¤lls Debatt attribute an Open Parachute post to Andy Reisinger – I would love to get hold of the emails between Ian Wishart and these groups).
This, of course, parallels the articles Ian Wishart ran last November/December attacking our scientists at NIWA. This started with his peddling of the discredited (see New Zealand’s denier-gate and New Zealand’s climate change deniers’ distortions exposed) report (Are we feeling warmer yet?) written by Richard Treadgold for local climate change denial groups. Overseas conservative blogs and newspapers repeated Wishart’s biased reporting, further demonising our local scientists. Despite the basic flaws in the report Wishart and local conservative bloggers persisted with their attacks and displayed some of the lynch mob mentality towards science and scientists locally. See for example:
I confess I now believe in manmade Global Warming; Three Questions for NIWA; Auckland Public Meeting: Climategate, NIWA and the ETS; NIWA, Climategate and Evasive Fallacious Answers; The NIWA Emails; NIWA ClimateGate link hits MSM in NZ [Update 3]; Climategate — How the scientific community is responding; Climate scientists caught lying; New Zealand not warming?; CLIMATEGATE — A better study than NIWA, by an 11 year old! and Kid and his dad: 1, Global Warming: 0.
There have been a number of good blog articles internationally putting the whole UK email issue into its correct perspective. I think this does demonstrate the importance of science blogging because only good science communicators can really do this job. Particularly as science journalism is a dying profession.
Its worth reading a couple of articles written by scientists who have been targets for the internet lynch mob. Micheal Mann, particularly vilified for his working on global temperature changes over time, was one of the email writers. His article Climate expert in the eye of an integrity storm from the Philadelphia Inquirer explains the phrases used in the emails and his opinion of the attack. And another email author Kevin Trenberth makes some brief comments in The truth about carbon dioxide, climate and the weather.
*By the way Andy Reisinger is a senior research fellow with the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute at Victoria University of Wellington. He has worked in climate change science and policy as a research scientist and senior policy adviser on climate change to the New Zealand government. From 2006 to 2008, he was responsible for managing the production of the Synthesis Report of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He is author of the book Climate Change 101 (see A good climate change book) and blogs at Sciblogs NZ (Degrees of Change).
The Lippard Blog has an interesting analysis of Who are the climate change skeptics? In this he identifies links of many of the sceptics with several right wing think tanks like The Heartland Institute and George C. Marshal Institute. One could do a similar analysis of our local climate sceptics and deniers. Some of them seem to be linked with the right wing NZ Centre for Politcal Research, the ACT Party and Conservative Christian organisations and blogs. Have a look at the discussion New Zealand’s “CLIMATEGATE”! on the Centre for Political Research forum. Obviously conspiracy theorists tend to congregate in these areas.
But – enough of the political connections. What interested me about Lippard Blog’s analysis is the likely age and professional status of scientists who are climate sceptics compared with those working in climate science who are generally accepting of the IPCC conclusions. (He identifies the latter groups as the “IPCC scientists.”)
The analysis used data for 623 scientists involved in the Working Group 1 of the IPCC and for 469 scientists who were signatories of documents skeptical of anthropogenic global warming. The data included the number of citations for the 4th most cited paper for each scientist and the year their last degree was obtained. This gives us some idea of scientific standing, age and working/retired status.
I have plotted the data in the figure. Unsurprisingly the number of citations increased with time since last degree, or age. Scientific standing does increasing with time and experience (and numbers of publications).
But there is a huge difference between the two groups in the average date for last degree. I take from this that as a group climate sceptics tend be older and many more of them will actually be retired, compared with those who worked on the IPCC documents.
I am retired myself so I have often thought of the role that many retired scientists still play in scientific and political issues.
Some scientists like to remain active in their field on retirement. Some will continue to work without payment or retain academic positions – often for no payment. Great for their institutes – although I did hear of one lab which had been trying to diplomatically tell a still active long-term retiree that his shaking hands and poor eyesight had become a safety issue in the laboratory!
It’s also quite common for scientists to do a bit of consulting in their retirement. It brings in a bit of money, maintains some standing in the scientific community and often, to be frank, appeals to the vanity and self worth of the scientist. After all, one of the few negative features of retirement is reduced social contact and standing.
I see a problem with assuming retired scientists are always reliable sources of information, though. After all, it’s harder to keep up with the literature and to be aware of current findings – especially if one is no longer based in a working scientific institute. There is no longer the advantage of, and necessity for, peer review of one’s publications and public statements. Mind you, commercial and political interests may be more interested in the name and degree, the authority of the scientist, than the facts. Maybe a win-win situation for some. A presentation of an authoritative image by the retired scientist, without the need to maintain research and reading or bother about consulting colleagues. While the purchaser of the information gets a “tame’ expert with suitable endorsement of their product or political campaign.
Now I am not, by any means, claiming this is so in every case. Far from it. Simple retirement doesn’t necessarily lead to loss of integrity. Nor does institutional employment necessarily imply integrity. I have seen scoundrels in both situations.
However, the graph above does indicate that climate sceptics are more likely to be divorced from peer review, familiarity with the literature and current findings and the discipline of consulting colleagues. And maybe they can be influenced by commercial interests, or even just the fact that in the current political climate large numbers of people are willing to see them as authorities and uncritically accept and parrot their articles and statements.
It seems to me that a feature more or less common to deniers is conspiracy theory. This is probably inevitable. After all, if one is going to reject all the science and make charges of dishonesty against scientists, politicians and activists concerned about global warming you do need some sort of explanatory framework. It seems simpler to just put the whole thing down to a giant conspiracy, rather than bother dealing with the intricacies of the science, commerce and politics involved.
It’s always a give away to me when I hear questioners of climate science peddling myths about Al Gore, referring to people like him in derogatory tones, or supporting the arguments and promoting the videos put out by Lord Monckton – a well know conspiracy theorist. You have to be a denier to do this.
Here’s an extreme example of conspiracy theory being used to reject the findings of climate science. Produced by Jesse “The Body” Ventura who has been a special forces operative, motorcycle gang member, WWF wrestler and governor of Minnesota, and who now promotes himself as a seeker of the “truth” in a new TV show called Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura.
So have a look at the video of his programme on global warming (Conspiracy Theory Jesse Ventura – Global Warming). It’s good for a laugh.
The sad thing though is that even some of our local deniers of climate change basically repeat some of this garbage. They, sadly, seem to be motivated by conspiracy theory.
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D51xjrvr4bM
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGfyFw5LI30
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5vdnc8Jhtc
Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gauMgwxjA5c
Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2RAP-v84yk
Part 6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YM11NhZRing
Thanks to Guardian article Climate change denial as done by a WWF wrestler … and June Sarpong
The hacked emails from the East Anglia Climate Centre in the UK have not been a big issue in New Zealand. At least for most people and for most news media. There are, of course, ideological motivated people who wish to promote the issue as a scandal. Who wish to attack our current understanding of climate science and climate change. Or who just have an anti-science attitude in general and attack the integrity of scientists as part of their nature.
A few bloggers have tried to mobilise on this issue (see for example NIWA, Climategate and Evasive Fallacious Answers, The scientific community and self-criticism, Climate scientists caught lying, Climategate — How the scientific community is responding, WarmingGate, New Zealand not warming? and I confess I now believe in manmade Global Warming). And, as Peter Griffin pointed out recently, ’The comment sections of some blogs have become particularly grubby places to congregate’ (see Climategate brought out the worst in us).
Even the ACT party is trying to get in on the act (Auckland Public Meeting: Climategate, NIWA and the ETS).
Of course, we have been preoccupied here with attacks on NIWA scientists by the ACT party, the Climate Science Coalition, the Climate Conversation Group, conspiracy theorist Ian Wishart, and climate change deniers in the blogosphere. Obviously taking advantage of the climate gate email scandal they made serious attacks on the integrity of these scientists. However, this has also more or less fizzled out as NIWA released information to show the attacks were false.
Of course this doesn’t stop some people. These conspiracy theorists who are presented the emails as evidence of a global conspiracy. They got the bit between their teeth. Believed their own propaganda and started to assert that the Copenhagen meeting would be canceled. That this is the end of the global warming story! The gobal warming conspiracy!
This short video by potholer puts the whole email scandal into context.
It investigates the two most used examples of “fraud” from these emails – the ones talking about “using a trick to hide the decline” an it being a “travesty that we can’t explain the cooling.” The examples that the denier alarmists (conspiracy theorists) have been concentrating on. The ones that have them frothing at the mouth. Poholer pours the cold water of reality over them.
It’s worth watching.
Thanks to Pharyngula: Febrile nitwits and the hacked climate change emails
Some of the more extreme climate change deniers, and others who have an anti-science agenda, continue to dredge through the domestic debris of the emails stolen by a hacker from the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia. Their conclusions are, of course, predictable. Meanwhile, the balanced media summary oif this fiasco is probably well represented by George Monbiot in the Guardian: “The leaked exchanges are disturbing, but it would take a conspiracy of a very different order to justify sceptics’ claims.” (see Global warming rigged? Here’s the email I’d need to see ).
I particularly liked his depiction of the email that the climate change deniers and their allies would dearly love to find. It’s a great satire and portrays some of the silliest conspiracy theories promulgated by deniers.
Sent: 29 October 2009
To: The Knights Carbonic
Gentlemen, the culmination of our great plan approaches fast. What the Master called “the ordering of men’s affairs by a transcendent world state, ordained by God and answerable to no man”, which we now know as Communist World Government, advances towards its climax at Copenhagen. For 185 years since the Master, known to the laity as Joseph Fourier, launched his scheme for world domination, the entire physical science community has been working towards this moment.
The early phases of the plan worked magnificently. First the Master’s initial thesis — that the release of infrared radiation is delayed by the atmosphere — had to be accepted by the scientific establishment. I will not bother you with details of the gold paid, the threats made and the blood spilt to achieve this end. But the result was the elimination of the naysayers and the disgrace or incarceration of the Master’s rivals. Within 35 years the 3rd Warden of the Grand Temple of the Knights Carbonic (our revered prophet John Tyndall) was able to “demonstrate” the Master’s thesis. Our control of physical science was by then so tight that no major objections were sustained.
More resistance was encountered (and swiftly dispatched) when we sought to install the 6th Warden (Svante Arrhenius) first as professor of physics at Stockholm University, then as rector. From this position he was able to project the Master’s second grand law — that the infrared radiation trapped in a planet’s atmosphere increases in line with the quantity of carbon dioxide the atmosphere contains. He and his followers (led by the Junior Warden Max Planck) were then able to adapt the entire canon of physical and chemical science to sustain the second law.
Then began the most hazardous task of all: our attempt to control the instrumental record. Securing the consent of the scientific establishment was a simple matter. But thermometers had by then become widely available, and amateur meteorologists were making their own readings. We needed to show a steady rise as industrialisation proceeded, but some of these unfortunates had other ideas. The global co-option of police and coroners required unprecedented resources, but so far we have been able to cover our tracks.
The over-enthusiasm of certain of the Knights Carbonic in 1998 was most regrettable. The high reading in that year has proved impossibly costly to sustain. Those of our enemies who have yet to be silenced maintain that the lower temperatures after that date provide evidence of global cooling, even though we have ensured that eight of the 10 warmest years since 1850 have occurred since 2001. From now on we will engineer a smoother progression.
Our co-option of the physical world has been just as successful. The thinning of the Arctic ice cap was a masterstroke. The ring of secret nuclear power stations around the Arctic circle, attached to giant immersion heaters, remains undetected, as do the space-based lasers dissolving the world’s glaciers.
Altering the migratory and reproductive patterns of the world’s wildlife has proved more challenging. Though we have now asserted control over the world’s biologists, there is no accounting for the unauthorised observations of farmers, gardeners, birdwatchers and other troublemakers. We have therefore been forced to drive migrating birds, fish and insects into higher latitudes, and to release several million tonnes of plant pheromones every year to accelerate flowering and fruiting. None of this is cheap, and ever more public money, secretly diverted from national accounts by compliant governments, is required to sustain it.
The co-operation of these governments requires unflagging effort. The capture of George W Bush, a late convert to the cause of Communist World Government, was made possible only by the threatened release of footage filmed by a knight at Yale, showing the future president engaged in coitus with a Ford Mustang. Most ostensibly capitalist governments remain apprised of where their real interests lie, though I note with disappointment that we have so far failed to eliminate Vaclav Klaus. Through the offices of compliant states, the Master’s third grand law has been established: world government will be established under the guise of controlling man-made emissions of greenhouse gases.
Keeping the scientific community in line remains a challenge. The national academies are becoming ever more querulous and greedy, and require higher pay-offs each year. The inexplicable events of the past month, in which the windows of all the leading scientific institutions were broken and a horse’s head turned up in James Hansen’s bed, appear to have staved off the immediate crisis, but for how much longer can we maintain the consensus? Knights Carbonic, now that the hour of our triumph is at hand, I urge you all to redouble your efforts. In the name of the Master, go forth and terrify.
Professor Ernst Kattweizel, University of Redcar. 21st Grand Warden of the Temple of the Knights Carbonic.
Monbiot concludes: “This is the kind of conspiracy the deniers need to reveal to show that man-made climate change is a con. The hacked emails are a hard knock, but the science of global warming withstands much more than that.”
What do you think? Is he being a bit harsh?