[[ Check out my Wordpress blog Context/Earth for environmental and energy topics tied together in a semantic web framework ]]

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Field Guide to Climate Clowns

The climate science blog known as Climate Etc is essentially infested with cranks, crackpots, and wackos, each with their own pet theory on why the consensus AGW science is wrong or an alternate view is preferred over the basic greenhouse-gas-based physics.

As someone mentioned, crackpot theories on global warming are almost fractal in nature -- in other words, wrong on almost every scale that you can interpret them.

I compiled the following "Field Guide" in response to my experiences commenting at that site.  The most unusual statistical anomaly concerns the relative abundance of crackpots from Down Under, who also seem to be the most rabid, a trait that one might trace to the Oz tradition of mocking authority, known as Larrikinism.

Whatever compelled me to keep track of these clowns (who are vaguely similar to the fossil fuel cornucopians on oil depletion blogs) I hope it provides some levity.

I want to add that that I have largely stopped commenting at Climate Etc because the editorial policies of the blog site's owner do not allow singling out of crackpots, but instead allow the crackpots themselves free reign (and the blog's proprietor never engages with the crackpot theorists themselves, therefore essentially condoning the pseudo-scientific ideas. Kind of counter-effective to advancing science, in my opinion).
curryja | January 16, 2013 at 5:42 am "Very large number of comments (approaching 10% of total CE comments) plus too many insults. I will take you off moderation if you can calm down the insults. Also, anyone that mentioned ‘BBD’ in their comment also went into moderation, so I could assess both sides of these exchanges."
The commenter BBD happens to be the most sensible commenter on the site. No wonder the site is such a magnet for Why People Believe Weird Things. It's not quite as bad and one-sided as the infamously insane "Best Scientific Blog" WUWT, but that's not saying much.

This bit explains everything, and essentially provides a rationale for why my documentation of these climate clowns is needed.
It has nothing to do with their research and their views. I tolerate what I view to be scientific crackpottery. I tolerate people talking about Nazis and commies. I do not tolerate one person saying the same thing over again. I do not tolerate insults to other commenters.
 Why would anyone, let alone a scientist, tolerate scientific crackpottery? 

I don't tolerate it, and given the fact that I have no control over scientific discourse at most levels, my choice is to document the atrocities

Don't read the comments! Online communities shape risk perception
More people get science news from blogs, where commentary shapes opinions.

How Blog Comments, Google Autocomplete Reinforce Scientific Bias
A new journal article claims that blog comments and Google autocomplete influence the public on new scientific research.

Climate Etc does not help the situation  by condoning crackpot commentary. It gets indexed by Google just like everything else.
Someone recommended to try to avoid the filter bubble. Let's try out the filter-free
wind "maximum entropy"
"dispersive transport"
"oil shock" model
"hyperbolic decline"

CO2 diffusion "adjustment time"
For each of these search phrases, which are kind of obscure but not that odd, the top hit goes to either my mobjectivist blog or this blog.


  1. WHT

    Thanks for your comment at Climate etc. Unfortunately my response there was made while I was in moderation and was deleted without ever seeing the light of day. This despite the fact that it contained nothing inflammatory.

    I am seriously concerned about what has happened at C etc. Seriously. Actually I am dumbfounded. What the hell JC thinks she is doing is beyond me.

    Giving free reign to abusive cranks like Ellison and Springer and always-on serial misrepresenters like manacker and idiot trolls like kim... while moderating you and me...? WTF?

    Anyway, thanks for the kind words, but it's going to be hard to keep the pressure on the deniers if you cannot call a spade a spade (or an annoying troll an annoying troll. Something of a handicap; a cambered playing field.

    The only time I've seen this kind of thing before is in corporate takeovers with a rigged board.


  2. Yes indeed BBD.
    For me, my commenting on that site was OK while it lasted and I occasionally got some feedback on my own views. But whenever I put together a lengthy reply with names or ideas included, and trying to guess whether the comment would get moderated out, that was the last straw.

    That said, I will continue to monitor the site, mainly because of my interest in weirdness in pseudo-science, and the occasionally interesting post on uncertainty by Curry.

    Beats me as to what her schtick is, latest thing she said was that her skepticism was some sort of "qualitative" uncertainty. According to her quantifiable uncertainty is out:
    "True skeptics understand that given the type and level of uncertainty (arguably most of what we deal with in climate other than direct observations), uncertainty is not ‘quantifiable’ as in a pdf or something, but should be characterized in other ways. Read my Uncertainty Monster paper. Also my paper Reasoning about Climate Uncertainty."

    So keep at it, like I said you are doing a keen job on connecting the dots with respect to the models and evidence.

  3. WHT

    Yes, I noticed her response to you. I also noticed - with head-shaking disbelief - that the main article referenced the GWPF and WUWT.

  4. Whenever I see GWPF, I think GPF -- General Protection Fault -- and the blue screen of death.

    Mind boggling how she can dance around this stuff, yet I still can't add her to the climate clown list. Nothing ever outrageously stupid, just unnerving hints at an underlying agenda (or neutrality gone overboard). I always think to myself: what does she do when she has these crackpots in her classes?

  5. Nice job on the compilation, Web, and thanks to both you and BBD for your efforts.

    Having watched her from the outset of her blogosphere involvement, I think there are several things going on with Judy:

    1) Funding for her department, bearing in mind the nature of the GTech alumnariate. A major purpose of the blog may be to demonstrate the sort of objectivity that such folks prefer.

    2) Funding for her and Peter's private forecasting business, the clients of which probably have a considerable overlap with the foregoing group.

    3) Professional resentment of the way modeling has come to dominate the field. That's an issue for Peter as well.

    4) End-career resentment. A careful perusal of her pubs finds pretty much nothing in the way of significant first-author and sole-author material. She seems to have had a lot of involvement in large-group obs campaigns. In any case, none of it adds up to enough for medals or even NAS membership. Note also that Peter has gotten such recognition, deservedly so, which could easily have resulted in a degree of spousal jealousy.

    5) D-K Syndrome, apparent in e.g. the Italian flag business and the Makarieva review.

    6) As her department contains some serious, accomplished scientists (e.g. Kim Cobb) who don't appear to have much respect for her, the blog serves as an outlet for her to feel important.

    7) Just plain gone emeritus? Given that she used to be a sea ice specialist, it's a little peculiar that she managed to co-author that recentish Antarctic sea ice paper without recalling that its central thesis lacked novelty.