Over at Dr Curry’s Climate, Etc. there is an post about Is It Necessary to Lie to Win a Controversial Public Debate?, with Dr Curry’s comments on an article by Sociophysics scientist Serge Galam.
I was actually rather impressed by the five questions Galam asks.
I’ll get right to them. . .The questions and what they triggered in my head (which is a lot of what a blog is all about, isn’t it?):
1. Why have alarmists made overstatements while there exists no alternative explanation?
By this I assume Galam means that there was no reason to exaggerate. Good point. He may not have been the very first to do so, but lately I have been discovering some of Hansen’s statements over the years, and, by the gods, the man is a lunatic. I honestly would not be surprised to hear some day that he bays at the moon. he is so over the top, how could any rational person not see the overstatement every time he opens his mouth?
2. Why did alarmists succeed in getting the majority of public opinion to align along their unproved claim ?
This goes to the two Villach, Switzerland, climate conferences in the 1980s. The first one, with the attendees representing their governments, ended in not much “consensus.” They congregated later in the decade, this time with no governments involved, and with only alarmists invited, so it was all preaching to the choir. With only alarmists there, a consensus was easy to attain. They have been asserting that consensus ever since. Who was the public to know that the scientists weren’t being on the up and up about “consensus”? The public had no reason to think of scientists as anything but honest, with no axe to grind. Basically, the public was trusting and the alarmists took advantage of that. Policymakers, too.
3. Why did skeptics who adopt a rigorous scientific position without advocating an alternative claim fail (up to recently) to crystallize at least some part of the public opinion?
WHY is it necessary to provide an alternative at all? Do we demand any defense counsel in criminal court to prove an alternative suspect perpetrated the crime in question? Of course not. It is only necessary to create a reasonable doubt.
And basically the skeptics’ agenda (if there is a single one) is the same as a defense counsel – that we SEE that there is a reasonable doubt, and we try to get others to recognize that the case is not proven, not by a long shot. The prosecution (alarmists) have presented – from day one – a half-baked case. All we have to do is make it clear to the jury (the public, and especially the policymakers) that the case should be thrown out of court, because the prosecution hasn’t presented a case worthy of the court’s time.
The secondary assertion in that question is that the credentialed skeptics did not garner any public support. The alarmists would wave an unsubstantiated claim of “Industry shills!” and that satisfied the science editors around the world. Yet – to this day – no alarmist has ever made public one shred of evidence to that effect. The accusation was, in itself, evidently proof enough for the editors.
Let us leave not doubt: The big blame for all of this goes to the science editors and journalists who were not skeptical about the extraordinary claim of global warming being caused by human industrial activity. The assertion above about lapdogs was not me being amusing.
4. Why, despite the skeptic failure, has the alarmist majority been very adamant in slamming the skeptic behavior?
One word: Insecurity.
From 40 years in the working world, I’ve observed that the one manager to avoid is the one who knows he is scamming the bosses and is afraid his fraud will be discovered. (That is not the same thing as ALL of us wondering how we got where we are – in this case, it is severe insecurity.)
Read the emails! Behind closed doors, it is completely obvious that these guys are like the man behind the curtain – they know the science doesn’t stand up to close inspection. They know their only defense is to diss the opposition, to make any muckrakers appear to have agendas, to attack, attack, attack. When there is no defense for one’s research, (and there isn’t) then the only ploy is to attack.
Again, read the emails! It is all in there.
But let’s also ask what is meant by “skeptic behavior.” What is it that the skeptics did? They acted as a tough audience for a scientific claim. This is the job for the scientific community, most especially the journals and their editors. Why should any outside ‘skeptic community” have even been necessary?
Short answer: It should not have been necessary.
But what is it they did? As anyone is allowed, a very few of them wanted to check out the work of Michael Mann and CRU, and asked for the specific data that was used, and for a record of the adjustments made during the homogenization of the various data types. The one single person who asked was Steve McIntyre, and his career as an auditor made him especially well-suited to checking (auditing) such data-intensive work as Mann and CRU had done. McIntyre maintains to this day that he is not a skeptic. Retired, he just was looking into what they did. In the beginning CRU and he were civil in their dealings with each other. At some point – about the time others, true skeptics like Warwick Hughes, got into asking for the same materials – the civility evaporated, and Jones at CRU became certain he was under attack. The particulars of that time period are not entirely clear.
As it stands now, CRU would have been much better served if they’d simply given over the data and methodology. As actual scientists, they should have each been keeping a running Lab Book – a day-to-day account of their thoughts and their trials and errors. Lab books are important documents for scientists. There is no reason to believe the CRU/Mann crowd were not keeping Lab books.
The stonewalling tactic of Jones that he lost track of his data is essentially horse crap. Jones in email #
5. Why are alarmists suddenly and quickly losing support in public opinion?
One word: Climategate.
One phrase: “Hide the decline.”
Up to November, 2009, the alarmists had everything their way. For over 20 years the alarmists had had things their way; they were the “favored son” of science editors everywhere. Those science editors were almost universally puppies on the laps of the alarmists. Until then the effect of all the skeptics was basically nil. Skeptical appeals to look at ALL the science was swept away with disdain, year after year. WUWT and CA had plenty of site visitors, and plenty of grass-roots supporters. But Skeptics had been marginalized.
Only when Climategate got out into the main stream media (within days, almost within hours) did anyone get the idea that the scientist might not have been on the up-and-up. “Hide the decline” put doubt in the minds of public and journalists and editors alike. “Hide the decline” created enough doubt to take the podium monopoly away from the alarmists. Enough people read enough about hide the decline that they became a tough audience.
It was not anything the skeptics did. They are still doing the same things they did before November 2009. It is just that the audience now has a more skeptical mindset – about the honesty of the scientists.
And it was all done in by the scientists’ own words, among themselves, telling each other to use “Mike’s trick” to “hide the decline.” The public didn’t even have to know what decline.
So, the “sudden” reason was that the alarmists most central to the entire global warming meme had shot themselves in the foot – with their own bullets fired years before.