Between Scientists & Citizens

Posts Tagged ‘climategate

Ink blot test for climate controversy

with one comment

All right–here’s another test.  Look at the image at the other end of the this link, and take note of what you see.

That diagram was “leaked” in an article on a progressive blog; apparently it’s some part of an study of the publicity surrounding the CRU emails. Beyond dividing the world of climate controversy evenly into two territories, however, it’s not at all clear (even after more explanation) what exactly it’s supposed to represent.  What do these sizes, locations, connections mean?

Because the diagram is so ambiguous, it can act like a kind of Rorschach test.  The observer can project her own views onto it, seeing them as confirmed or not.  So I’m going to examine the reactions to this climate controversy ink blot among the people commenting on it at the leading climate skeptic blog Watt’s Up With That (WUWT).  Here’s one comment:

What an enormous load of …
No mention of Greenpeace or WWF on the supporter’s network.
But, what’s even more absurd, listing the small skeptical network in such a way that it seems to be equivalent to the likes of the BBC, Nature, the World Bank, et al. And the IPCC seems to be set apart as neutral?!! The IPCC, with links to every government pushing the AGW agenda?
Give me a break already! The skeptical network is a miniscule David next to the supporter’s huge Goliath network.

Over the next few posts, I want to understand this view–the David/Goliath fallacy–by placing it within the broader range of views expressed by the WUWT community.

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Written by jeangoodwin

March 28, 2010 at 11:46 am

another analogy explaining climategate

with one comment

Yesterday, I looked at how one analogy for the impact of climategate went astray.  Here’s another, from Randy Olson’s recent interview with Ed Begley, Jr., over at The Benshi:

Like the point Bill McKibben makes recently, what’s happening with global warming is like what happened with the O.J. case:  you have a mountain of evidence, yet they manage to get it all thrown aside through their theatrics.

Bill McKibben recently likened the “controversy” surrounding climate science to the botched O.J. Simpson trial

Climategate is nothing more than Mark Fuhrman. You have one cop that does some weird things and that’s enough to outweigh all the evidence. They had to come up with a Mark Fuhrman for the glove, because the glove had O.J.’s hair, it had Goldman’s blood, and Nicole’s blood and fiber from the bronco. If they didn’t have Mark Fuhrman, they’re screwed. Well that’s what they did with Climategate, there’s sea temperatures, air temperatures, melting glaciers, with all that’s there, they’ve got to come up with some guy in East Anglia in Britain that’s kind of wacky, and they gotta hack into his computers, and make a case as they did with O.J. That’s the point Bill McKibben made recently, if you’ve seen what he said.

Ouch!  Ed Begley, Jr. (and Bill McKibben), I don’t think this is what you want to say!

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Written by jeangoodwin

March 19, 2010 at 12:10 pm

explaining the impact of climategate

with 3 comments

On the same Canadian news show that I mentioned yesterday, Joe Romm offers an alternative view. Should climategate and the recently discussed IPCC errors change what citizens believe, or how reporters handle the matter?

There’s no question that in this 3000 page report, the IPCC report, there were one or two relatively trivial mistakes, as the Washington Post put it.  But they have been used as an excuse by some in the media to question the entire science.  The analogy I use is: every major newspaper publishes corrections every single day and yet they expect the public to come back and believe what’s in the newspaper (ca. 4:00).

The analogy is a good one, although it goes against the point Romm is trying to make.

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Written by jeangoodwin

March 19, 2010 at 9:39 am

citizens push back against authority

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Here’s foreign policy analyst Walter Russell Mead explaining the point I was trying to say yesterday, better than I probably managed to.  If the press had been doing its job, he explains in a recent blog post:

Climate scientists would have realized long ago that if they hope to convince a skeptical world they need to be ultra-careful, ultra-cautious and even ultra-conservative in their public statements and recommendations. They would have understood long ago that because their science is important, they have to do it more carefully and more publicly than other people. That may be harsh and it may be ‘unfair’ in some sense, but when you are dealing with the interests of billions of people you have to expect a little bit of scrutiny.

And expands in a recent television interview (starting at 25:05) with an example from the IPCC’s recent troubles:

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Written by jeangoodwin

March 18, 2010 at 8:48 am

Posted in stray remarks

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