2010-09-28 00:48:31WUWT attack on Skeptical Science
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
93.231.153.235

Hi Folks,

WUWT is launching an attack on SkepticalScience (link goes to WUWT) today, referencing the recent blog-posting "2010 Climate Change Roundup"

Cheers
Baerbel

2010-09-28 00:58:55
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.83.151

Seems to be confused about the author of the post. B!=C, as in John B versus John C. 

That said, mentioning "RedState relatives" followed by the frequent employment of the "denier" artifice does seem a bit like waving a red flag in front of a bull, the bull then obediently directing its attention to issues of personality rather than science. Denier is a appropriate term but the fashion in which it's used is not really in harmony w/the general tone of SkS, is a distraction. 

 

Edit: Not to suggest at all that Anthony Watts is a model of decorum or has any legitimacy as a critic of comportment, but a note from JC on the post clarifying the author provenance and with a remark on the challenges of calibrating an expanding author crew might be a good idea.  

 


2010-09-28 01:47:21funny
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.249

Hah it's funny to watch Watts attack John C for an article he didn't even write.

I was a bit surprised to see the "denier" use on SkS too.  Not that I have a problem with it personally in the least (on other sites I use the term "denier" almost exclusively), but I thought it was SkS policy to use the term "skeptic".

As a side note, a lot of people don't seem to realize that SkS uses guest authors, even though every article states the author's identity at the end.

2010-09-28 02:27:01in all fairness
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.57.191

If the article gets published on the SkS site, it's not unreasonable to attribute its content to SkS.

I believe even guest authors should stick to the guidelines on referring to others, etc.

I don't mind WUWT folks getting mad at us; but I'd rather it was for the right reasons!

2010-09-28 07:41:02Watts critique and Use of term denier
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.185.151.34
I have to admit, I do find Watt's sense of outrage amusing. Talk about trying to manufacture a scandal. Has the term deniergate been taken yet?

That said, I was also uncomfortable with John's use of the term denier. I avoid it's use, not because I'm trying to be politically correct or sensitive to deniers' feelings. When people criticise me for persisting with the term "skeptic" when climate skeptics are anything but that, they're completely correct - skeptics are deniers, not genuinely skeptical. But I use 'skeptics' purely for practicality. Climate skepticism is more than anything a gigantic case of cognitive dissonance. So when you make a point, while it may be the most scientifically irrefutable argument in the world, skeptics will look for the tiniest thing in your argument no matter how irrelevant and obsess over that as a way of avoiding the uncomfortable truth. So I concede the term skeptic just so the conversation can stay focussed on science. Instances when SkS articles have had the barest hint of a whisper of an ad hom, too much of the discussion has revolved around that as Graham will attest.

And on a "do as I say, not as I do" note, I've just coauthored a book (with the final manuscript sent off to the publisher this week). The title of the book is "Climate change denial: head in the sand". I'm gonna pay for that title on WUWT when it comes out :-)

2010-09-28 08:49:32addendum
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.249

Watts finally added an "addendum" to the article criticizing John Bruno as its author.  His excuse for attacking JC was that "as people routinely point out to me, I’m responsible for my own blog content. The fact that Cook allows this in any main post is the issue."

I don't buy that.  When Steven Goddard posts on WUWT, sure I criticize Watts for allowing him to do so, but my main criticism is reserved for Goddard and his nincompoopery (it's a word, look it up!).  But Watts' response is directed straight at JC.

But whatever.  Deniers hate being called deniers, but personally I couldn't care less.  Ignorant people don't appreciate it when you point out their ignorance, but that doesn't make them any less ignorant.  If you don't want to be called a denier, then stop denying scientific realities.

Congrats on the book, John.  How long do you think before it's published?

2010-09-28 08:55:27More on WUWT criticism
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.185.151.34

What I've noticed is a growing intensity in the criticisms directed towards Skeptical Science. Anthony Watts has studiously ignored our existence for years but in the last few months, seems to have gone on the attack. I take that as a measure of the impact our site is having, and that's the take-home point from this WUWT article.

I would still recommend to all authors to avoid providing distracting labels that will dillute the message of your article. And believe me, skeptics/deniers will take any and every opportunity to be distracted from the scientific truths in your articles so try to give them as little opportunity as possible.

The book is coming out in early 2011 - I think March or April. Should know a more specific date further down the track.

2010-09-28 09:25:59It's all good
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.57.191
attacks from WUWT just direct people to the SkS site. As long as they can be handled properly, with information and courtesy, we'll make a positive impact.
2010-09-28 09:29:09Comment
Robert Way

robert_way19@hotmail...
142.162.21.244
I will say that it would be nice to have a blog out there dispelling the propaganda put forth by Watts et al every day but frankly with only 24 hours in the day, it is unlikely to ever occur...

I'm not saying we have to take off the gloves. But I think we have to be prepared that Watts et al is gonna be laughing wave after wave against us.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a list put up for WUWT assertions and debunkings... just saying...
2010-09-28 09:44:29"attacks from WUWT just direct people to the SkS site"
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.185.151.34

That's what I thought too but notice Watts never actually links to Skeptical Science at his article criticising me! He's very clever about it, careful not to provide any direct traffic (or search engine kudos) to my site. I think Watts has made a point of never mentioning Skeptical Science at all until the last few months but even now, he still makes sure he doesn't link to us.

I don't intend to respond directly to the WUWT article. It's a petty, irrelevant article and tries to make him and me the story, rather than the science. There's enough of the chest thumping back-and-forth that goes on between him and other climate bloggers. It does the debate no good, it doesn't help people understand what's happening to our climate any better. Climate is a serious issue and we need to be grown up about it.

However, as Robert says, it would be good to dispell the propaganda spewed forth every day, by Watts and others. Problem is resources. My hope is that this author community grows to the point where we have enough people skilled over a range of disciplines to hit different arguments and articles quickly as they rear their ugly heads in cyberspace. But we should also aim to educate, not just respond to disinformation. I try to do this by turning skeptic arguments into a teachable moment. As skeptic arguments invariably rely on the method of cherry picking and neglecting the full picture, I usually take the approach of pointing out this method and then present the full picture. That way, it's not a case of his facts versus your facts - it's giving the reader all the facts (or put another way, it's putting the skeptics' facts into the context of all the facts).

For example, one skeptic emailed me a study about the Medieval Warm Period, saying there's the other side of the coin. I replied saying it's not a case of one side of the coin versus the other side - you consider both sides together. In that particular case, consider all the temperature proxies to build a global temperature reconstruction, not just look at a single location that happened to be warmer. He actually seemed to respond positively to the message of "considering both sides of the coin together".

So education should still be a key goal, not just rebutting disinformation. I do have a tendency to want to respond to every twist and turn of the skeptic movement. But there's something to be said for also sticking to the goal of educating the public about what's happening to our climate. I wonder if its a coincidence that the attacks on Skeptical Science have racheted up at the same time that we've started publishing all these plain English rebuttals, designed to be effective in reaching the general public.

2010-09-28 09:47:08WUWT
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.249

Good point that if Watts is now paying more attention to SkS, it just means the site is having more impact.  And few of Watts' readers are likely to open-mindedly read SkS anyway, so it really doesn't have much impact for him to be criticizing the site.

A WUWT debunking site would be somewhat useful.  Then again, most WUWT readers aren't going to be convinced that WUWT articles are wrong, even if that's obviously the case.  And most non-WUWT readers know to take the site's articles with less than a grain of salt.  So I'm not sure how much practical use a WUWT debunking site would have.  Probably more comic relief than anything to illustrate the daily absurdities on WUWT.

There's one frequent user at Yahoo Answers who is a major Watts fanboy, and who to this day is convinced that the surface temperature record is utterly useless thanks to Watts' surface stations project.  He frequently asks "questions" which are simply thinly-veiled attempts to direct people to a Watts article, and if you point out the errors in the article, he'll just dismiss you as a brainwashed "alarmist".  From looking through the WUWT comments, his attitude seems to be the norm.  WUWT users seem to take Watts' word as gospel.

I agree it's not worth responding to this particular article.  But when there's a WUWT article misrepresenting a new scientific paper, it would be good for SkS to write an article with a more accurate discussion of the paper.

2010-09-28 10:51:01
Ned

ned.flounders@yahoo...
71.168.88.89

John, that's FANTASTIC about the book manuscript.  Congratulations!

2010-09-28 11:14:13
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.83.151

For what it's worth, "denier" seems technically a better term than "skeptic", more in keeping with cognitive research. My own problem w/JB's use of it was the stylized repetition and strikethroughs.  

A shame we can't turn the clock back. Ambiguous as it may be, "skeptic" is the accepted term for people who can't or won't integrate facts, a misnomer cemented in convention. Rats.

2010-09-28 17:39:12stylized repetition and strikethroughs
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.30.233

give the impression of snarkiness, something far too common on the dueling-websites circuit.

We can do without it.

2010-09-28 22:18:13Debunking WUWT
James Wight

jameswight@southernphone.com...
58.105.164.221

A WUWT debunking site would be somewhat useful.

Well, there is this site. It’s not at all rigorous, of course – it would be impossible to keep up with the stream of disinformation at WUWT. It is basically just comic relief.


From looking through the WUWT comments…  WUWT users seem to take Watts' word as gospel.

Not necessarily. There may be many fence-sitters following the site who don’t bother to leave comments.

2010-09-28 22:36:07Recommendations
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.30.233

I would suggest that it is not useful for SkS to get into a contest with WUWT:

- other sites are already doing that

- it distracts from the mission and tone of SkS

It would make sense, if a major issue emerges on WUWT, to post a correcting article; but not declared as a direct response.

People who want to counter WUWT more directly should do so at that site, not contaminate the environment at SkS. You can always reference material posted at SkS anyway.

"Fence-sitters": These constitute the most important audience at WUWT.

 

2010-09-29 00:37:35
doug_bostrom

dbostrom@clearwire...
184.77.83.151

Further to James' remark, I wonder about an "on the lighter side" static page, accessible via the search term "humor."  A little laughter goes a long way. 

DenialDepot and FriendofGinandTonic are a couple of my favorites.  

2010-09-29 00:52:01
Ned

ned.flounders@yahoo...
129.170.23.6

Speaking of WUWT ...

There's a new Northern Hemisphere reconstruction out, by Ljungqvist.  WUWT has a post by Loehle claiming that it vindicates his 2008 reconstruction, which it really doesn't.

I'm trying to rather hurriedly pull together a blog post about this, showing how closely Ljungqvist 2010 matches both Mann 2008 and Moberg 2005 (and what a poor match it is for Loehle).  I think this needs to be done fast, because WUWT is getting all triumphalist about this (and others are starting to put their oars in, too ... e.g., Tamino).

 

2010-09-29 01:23:05comment
Robert Way

robert_way19@hotmail...
134.153.10.124
I just posted a forum thing saying I was going to do the same thing haha...  you go ahead. More experienced with this stuff. I think it's really important to quickly get it out there and show how ridiculous the centering Loehle used was. Also I have a question, how do you deal with showing the different reconstructions if they have different base periods. I guess you need the base period average but it can be hard to find that...
2010-09-29 01:49:14
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.30.233

Isn't this best done at WUWT?

That's where the fire is.

2010-09-29 02:15:49Loehle
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.249

Hah as I was saying in Robert's discussion of the subject, the Loehle WUWT post on Ljungqvist is the sort which warrants a SkS response - an article on a peer-reviewed study which Watts (or his guest author) misrepresents and butchers.

I had the same reaction as Ned - compare Ljungqvist to Moberg and Mann '08.  Personally I would probably just ignore Loehle altogether, but I guess it wouldn't hurt to throw his crappy reconstruction in there too.

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with, Ned.

2010-09-30 06:52:06
MarkR
Mark Richardson
m.t.richardson2@gmail...
92.24.236.135

As John C's said before (and edited my drafts), we should avoid any obvious conflict and using terms like 'denier' because they just alienate people. Stick to science as much as possible.

 

Sure, it's frustrating when they lie and misrepresent over and over and over again.

It's frustrating when you run into yet another denial zealot who's been enjoying a mental diet from scientific illiterates like Monckton, Delingpole & Booker.

It's frustrating that deniers have hi-jacked the name 'skeptic', when they're anything but.

 

 

But if a handful of extra people continue to read, and learn something about actual science, then I reckon that's worth the loss in satisfaction you get from not calling them what they so clearly are.

2010-09-30 12:49:04
Shirley_Rocks
Shirley Pulawski
missfabulous@verizon...
96.243.52.109

Hi, Everyone. I'm new here, but a long time visitor, and as I'm about to turn 40, I've finally turned my climate study hobby into a Master's degree, and my focus is paleoclimate. I plan to focus in LIA, but others in my group are studying YD and other temporal events, mostly in the Arctic, but two who are looking at New Zealand, so the focus is widening. We use chironomids, varves, cosmo Be, 14C, and other techniques, along with digging out as much research as we can find to construct past climate. I've also been a regular visitor at RC.org and other sites over the last 3-4 years, and any time I try to educate anyone on the realities of AWG, I include SkS as a top 2 source 9along with RC), so it's a great honor to be among you all. So enough with the introductions...

John Cook: "So education should still be a key goal, not just rebutting disinformation. I do have a tendency to want to respond to every twist and turn of the skeptic movement. But there's something to be said for also sticking to the goal of educating the public about what's happening to our climate. I wonder if its a coincidence that the attacks on Skeptical Science have racheted up at the same time that we've started publishing all these plain English rebuttals, designed to be effective in reaching the general public."

I think that responding to every twist and turn might be counter productive. It might make more sense to stick to the ideas that "have legs" or grow legs, and focus on the big picture. I've been involved with other forms of activism and educations, and giving a response to an anomalous issue can be one of those conundrums where a response can give legitimacy to an issue that it otherwise wouldn't have enjoyed, but on the flip side, clarification that is too late is too late. This is where the parts of my brain involved in my background in web design kick in - perhaps part of the solution lies in good use of keywords in the rebuttal. I'm out of the loop as to the ways search engines index keywords these days, but as rebuttals are typed, they should include KEYwords which everyday people might sit down at Google and punch in. The words might be "pacific decadal oscillation" but they more likely to be something like "ocean currents cause climate change" as one example, or "sun climate change" and not "solar minimum glacial maximum" etc. If we're to educate, we have to pout ourselves in the shoes of everyday people and what they actually do when they sit down at a computer. 

 

MarkR "It's frustrating when you run into yet another denial zealot who's been enjoying a mental diet from scientific illiterates like Monckton, Delingpole & Booker"

 As much as I loathe Monckton, IMO, he's no illiterate. I've dealt with him in person, and seen his 2009 presentation. He knows science pretty well, but my take is that he is so convinced of his own power to convince that he's willing to "learn the rules in order to break them" - he knows the science well enough to be able to very successfully mislead. I'm also convinced that he is convinced he is several orders of intelligence higher than his audience (and he may well be in many cases) and his narcissism pushes him to see just how much he can manipulate them. He was starting to come unglued when I saw him, long before the Nazi comments at Copenhagen. He started the lecture (at a small SUNY college, paid for no doubt by subsidiaries of the Koch brothers) by telling his audience that he wakes up everyday, in the UK, overlooking his beautiful property, complete with lake, saying robustly "GOD BLESS AMERICA!!" and we were supposed to believe that. What quickly hit me was that perhaps it translated to "Thank god for stupid people I can manipulate" and he spent the next hour trying to push that limit, including quickly showing graphs that seemed to show one thing, but if you looked at them closely, they were far more zoomed in on short areas (you mean it warm in summer and cools in winter?) rather than a graph that actually supported the point he wanted to make. I'm pretty sure that Monckton is not even quite convinced of his own tripe, but convinced he can sell anything. If you've ever seen the movie "How to Get Ahead in Advertising" with Richard E. Grant, Monckton just might be Bagley. Anyway, even though I think Monckton is soon to come unglued, I wouldn't underestimate him. He's brilliant, but instead of turning his brilliance towards truth, he's turned it towards his ego and his powers of manipulation. He's the kind of megalomaniac that probably has taken down some countries when that personality type manages to gain ultimate power. 

 I haven't been keeping up with Watts lately. I'm disappointed to see he's still active, but not surprised. Anyone have any idea who is funding him? One of my favorite arguments is "Follow the money" and as we all know, it generally comes from Big Oil and Big Coal. Al Gore could find a lot of other things to get rich on, and as a geologist, I could make a lot more $$ in petroloeum geo rather than this, but it's where my heart is. 

 So I've only provided some general feedback at this point. I've spent a few hours going through posts to see how the process works around here. In time, I'll figure it out and have more to contribute. I look forward to becoming more tempered in my response towards skeptics deniers, and hopefully reach some of the bright people who really have genuine questions, but aren't able/inclined towards becoming scholars in the field. I've learned they are a legitimate audience, and really need our help. 

2010-09-30 19:06:55
Anne-Marie Blackburn
Anne-Marie Blackburn
bioluminescence@hotmail.co...
80.42.215.97

I would never use 'denier' on this website and would use 'skeptic' reluctantly - these people really are not sceptics and don't deserve the label but I understand why this website uses the term. I use contrarian now when I join an online discussion - I used to use denier but discussions then get derailed because of it. So contrarian it is as it doesn't appear to be offensive to anyone. Yet.

Still, Watts' ridiculous attack just shows that you must be doing something right, John (and all the new contributors I guess). It seems to indicate that you are worrying them :)

2010-09-30 19:52:55Why Watts attacked
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.160.198
One climate blogger I converse with is certain that it's because of Dana's post on contradictions that Watts was provoked into an attack. I think it may be that and the general increase in effectiveness of Skeptical Science with all the authors outputing so much fantastic content. In other words, you're all to blame! :-)
2010-09-30 21:16:01
Shirley_Rocks
Shirley Pulawski
missfabulous@verizon...
96.243.52.109

Wow - sorry for all the bold in my last post. I was playing around with the heading types and thought I un-bolded everything. I'll get used to this eventually. 

 So I woke up and decided to head to WUWT. Of course, now I'm upset that I can't unsee what I read there.  People are claiming conspiracy over Nicole being a named storm when it only lasted 6 hours. There also seems to be a lot of ignorance about how storms are named. I'm not sure the kind of person who follows the gospel of Watts is reachable. Of course, lots of people will find their way there when searching for real knowledge (I've certainly had his site pop up in searches, but I tend to stick to journal articles these days) which is certainly bad news, but maybe if he's giving SkS some press, it's like "any press is good press" maybe? 

2010-09-30 21:26:24
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.120.181

Shirley,

- Yes, I think "as long as they spell my name right" is OK in this situation. Provided we're prepared to welcome visitors with courtesy, regardless of how they got to SkS.

- You can actually go back and re-edit your previous comments. It's not generally a good idea in a conversation, but to remove a whole section of boldface, it might be a good idea.