Between Scientists & Citizens

Posts Tagged ‘Morano

A surprising gesture

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Working through the discourse that accumulated while I was reading and listening to what my students had to say, I found a fine post from none other than Steve McIntyre on the Virginia’s ‘fraud investigation’ against Michael Mann, one of his leading adversaries in the Hockey Stick Wars.  McIntyre calls out the publicity stunt for what it is–a “repugnant piece of over-zealousness”:

To the extent that Virginia citizens are concerned about public money being misappropriated, Cuccinelli’s own expenditures on this adventure should be under equal scrutiny. There will be no value for dollar in this enterprise….

To the extent that there are issues with Mann or Jones or any of these guys, they are at most academic misconduct and should be dealt with under those regimes. It is unfortunate that the inquiries at Penn State and UEA have not been even minimally diligent, but complaints on that account rest with the universities or their supervising institutions and the substitution of inappropriate investigations by zealots like Cuccinelli are not an alternative….

I intend to write Cuccinelli expressing my disdain for his actions.

Read on to learn how this relates to the previous post.

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Written by jeangoodwin

June 10, 2010 at 7:00 am

Advocacy: take advantage of your opponents’ commitments

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We interrupt this program…. For a brief mention of Esquire’s profile on Marc Morano.

I spend most of my time looking at what people have said.  Every so often, though, it’s possible to get a glimpse of the “backstage” process through which the public speech was designed.  In a previous post on Morano’s techniques, and in my summary of lessons learned, I stressed that advocates need to rely on their opponents’ commitments as starting points for their own arguments.  Here’s the man himself saying the same thing to his colleagues, to a planning meeting at Copenhagen last year:

“Don’t quote the skeptics,” he begins. “Use the words of their fellow scientists.”

He pushes a key on his laptop and a slide appears on the screen behind him: COPENHAGEN CLIMATE CHANGE TALKS MUST FAIL.

“Let’s play a little game. Who said this? Was it Sarah Palin? Was it Senator Inhofe?”

A familiar voice calls out: “James Hansen, hahahahaha.

“James Hansen! James Hansen said this conference must fail! So if anyone asks you this week, How can you be against this? say, We stand shoulder to shoulder with NASA’s James Hansen!”

Morano stands at the podium grinning. The joke, of course, is that Hansen opposed the conference because it didn’t go nearly far enough to solve the problem, which is the opposite of Morano’s distorted meaning.

He triggers another slide. It’s a prominent scientist saying the Climate-gate scientists should be barred from the United Nations climate process. “This is not a skeptic,” he crows. “This is a UN scientist!”

Next is a leading British science journalist saying that most of his environmentalist friends have gone into denial about Climate-gate, hoping the crisis will go away.

“Again, you don’t have to quote a skeptic. Use their words.

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Written by jeangoodwin

March 31, 2010 at 7:05 am

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Morano analysis #8: repeating oneself all over again

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Let’s return one last time to the Morano v. Maslin debate.  I’ve been saying some favorable things about Marc Morano’s skill as an advocate.  But what about the fact that he–and in fact this whole debate–is boring?  Haven’t we heard all these arguments before, over and over again?  Yes–and it’s a good thing, too.
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Written by jeangoodwin

March 22, 2010 at 11:44 am

Morano Analysis #7: Scientific consensus

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This mini-debate between  Maslin and Morano first caught my attention because of Morano’s “accusation” that Maslin was using an “appeal to authority,” and Maslin’s assertion of something like a scientific consensus in reply. Claims that the IPCC represents an authoritative “consensus” have been prominent in representations of the IPCC’s reports since the very beginning, and in one of my current projects I’m trying to figure out how consensus claims  work (or don’t).  The example here, though small, is worth examining closely.

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Written by jeangoodwin

March 17, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Morano Analysis #6: The appeal to authority, by the numbers

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I have to feel sorry for Maslin. Once he’s accepted AGW as the central issue in this debate, he’s taken responsibility for presenting evidence of a centuries-long, world-wide, multi-system process. And he’s got about 60 seconds to get the job done. As we’ve seen, he can invite his audience to “look at” the evidence or he can remind them of some vivid event that they’ve already experienced. But the former isn’t going to help him meet his burden of proof now, and the latter is misleading and thus easy for Morano to knock down. The appeal to authority is a third option; can Maslin pull it off?

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Written by jeangoodwin

March 15, 2010 at 10:20 am

Morano Analysis #5: The adverse witness

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As a second way in to assessing the arguments in this debate, let’s examine how the two debaters deal with one bit of testimonial evidence they actually share.

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Written by jeangoodwin

March 13, 2010 at 10:30 am

Morano Analysis #4: Bringing the arguments home

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I’ve been looking at the verbal work that’s occurring in this small transaction–the work of construing the relationship between the speakers as a relationship of a certain type (for Maslin, attacker/victim), the work of framing the topic they will mutually address (anthropogenic global warming, AGW).  All this work is supposed to be aimed at allowing the two men to debate–that is, it’s supposed to make room for them to exchange arguments.  Now that’s they’ve gotten their debate well underway, can Maslin the scientist use his expertise to craft arguments that will stand up to Morano’s expected attacks?  No.

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Written by jeangoodwin

March 11, 2010 at 11:12 pm

Morano Analysis #3: What’s the issue?

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Democracy thrives on debate, but even a committed debateologist like myself might think that our democracy doesn’t need another go-round over whether humans have or will cause significant changes in the climate (AGW). Maslin agrees;  he protests against plodding through yet again a debate he’s “been having … for the last twenty years.”  How did he, and we, get stuck on that issue?  By his choice.

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Written by jeangoodwin

March 10, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Morano Analysis #2: Hedging

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I closed the first post by noting that Maslin seems to feel that Morano is attacking him–specifically, that Morano has accused scientists (including, presumably, him) of lying. There are a variety of other linguistic markers in this brief exchange that reinforce this picture of Maslin as  the weak victim responding to another’s aggression:  the hedges with which Maslin prefaces many of his remarks.

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Written by jeangoodwin

March 8, 2010 at 8:56 am

Morano Analysis #1: Civility

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Let’s start by examining how the two debaters interact with each other–how they address each other and how they characterize each other’s speech.  The moral of the story:  Morano, and not Maslin, manages to maintain the appearance of civility necessary for a debate.

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Written by jeangoodwin

March 7, 2010 at 2:49 am

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