Skeptics Aren't Skeptical, An Example

I recently saw this comment over at Climate Audit:

I recognized the commenters, Jeff Id, as a notable Skeptic who has shown up in various controversies (for example, being a person directly misrepresented by Stephan Lewandowsky in a scientific paper). Having not seen anything from him in a while, I was curious what he's been up to and clicked the link to his site. I quickly found this:

The irony hurts too much not to discuss.
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I Think I Found The Source of a Fabricated Quote

Some time back I commented on how Mark Steyn included a seemingly fabricated quote in his book he wrote about Michael Mann:

Phil Jones to Michael Mann on February 3rd, 2005:

The two MMs [McKitrick and McIntyre] have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the U.K., I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone.6

And, indeed, the CRU subsequently announced that they had "inadvertently deleted" the requested data.

The e-mail Steyn quoted was genuine, but the claim "the CRU subsequently announced that they had 'inadvertently deleted' the requested data" baffled me. I was following the events being discussed at the time, and I had seen the CRU's responses on the issue. The phrase "inadvertently deleted" was never uttered by the CRU.

Given this mystery, I spent some time trying to track down the origin of the quotation. In doing so, I found Steyn had self-plagiarized an article he wrote for his website, but that article didn't include a source for the quotation either. I did find a Google Groups discussion which had the same claim, but it didn't offer a source either. I eventually gave up.

But recently, I started taking stock of some things I've done over the years, wondering if they were a waste of time. One of those things was the work I did examining Steyn's book, finding over a hundred minor misquotations, dozens of quotations whose context was changed to significantly distort their meaning, multiple quotations which were misattributed and numerous untrue factual claims. I put quite a bit of time into it, and I only publicly "published" a fraction of that work.

Was that a waste of time? I don't know. Nobody seems to care Steyn's book is a horrendous piece of trash, a lazy, dishonest smear campaign of the sort we expect from politicians. Maybe I'm wrong though. Maybe I could find some interest if I collected the notes I took and published them in the right way. That's something I was pondering when I decided to revisit that quotation I could never find a source for. And it seems today, I've found the answer.

I won't bore you with all the details of how I found this. The way things spread across the internet, especially when people don't provide links to things they reference/quote, is murky at best. But after tracking things back a bit, I found this article which says:

Email 1107454306 is particularly interesting. In it, Dr Jones writes:

The two MMs [McKittrick and McIntyre] have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone.

What makes this interesting is that the CRU, in later years, announced that they had "inadvertently deleted" their raw data when they responded to an FOIA request from ... McIntyre.

What makes this interesting is the link provided in this article goes to a blog post which does not contain the phrase "inadvertently deleted." It appears what happened is this article, written by one Charlie Martin, used the phrase "inadvertently deleted" with scare quotes to indicate he was being facetious, that he felt the deletion was not truly inadvertent. People saw this, failed to understand his meaning and thought this was a real quotation. The result is for years people have been saying it was announced data had been "inadvertently deleted," as though that were an actual quotation.

I think that's fascinating. We have a fake quotation which has been around for years and years, all because a person used scare quotes to indicate facetiousness and people didn't notice. People have been using the phrase "inadvertently deleted" in quotation marks for years in reference to this issue, while changing everything else about the commentary they post, and... there's no reason for it.
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Yeah, You're a Bigot*

I am so tired of people saying things like, "I'm not a bigot, I just want illegals to follow the legal process!" Most of the people who say things like that are the same people who demonized "caravans" as an invasion of illegals.

Guess what? People have the right to come to the country and apply for asylum. People you demonize are following the legal process. You constantly spread hate for them anyway. That shows you're full of it. If your concern really were for the law, you wouldn't spew vitriol over people who follow it.

So yeah, that makes you a bigot. Or at least, a xenophobe.

Rebutting Conspiracy Theories Seems Pointless

A recent post may have made you realize I really don't want to discuss conspiracy theories about the alleged chemical attack on the city of Douma by the Syrian government. I've been trying to avoid discussing that topic, especially on Twitter, but I let myself get dragged into it today.

Don't worry. I'm not going to write a long screed about the topic. That's not the point of this post. The point of this post is to show why I didn't want to. I always come away from exchanges on topics like this feeling they were pointless. Most of the time, I find myself putting more work into examining what others say than they did.

This is why I ask people to make their case in a collected, coherent manner with all the requisite information provided in a single location. It almost never happens. I understand doing so requires a fair amount of work, but not doing so simply forces anyone who cares to examine what you say to do the work you refused to do.

Today, I'd like to show a Twitter exchange why I describe the discussions so many people try to get others to participate in are pointless. Also, I'd like to keep a copy for record keeping.
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Funniest Question of the Year?

There was a post at Andrew Gelman's blog recently about a topic I've discussed here often so I chimed in on a couple things. An exchange happened because I made a couple remarks about things like how climate change is not expected to drive humanity extinct or even cause the deaths of billions of people. In my comments, I mentioned how the worst projections of the IPCC aren't anywhere near that extreme. This lead to a discussion of the tired meme which says the IPCC is overly conservative in its projections of the impacts of climate change, a meme which relies upon the alarmist views of a relatively small number of people. Discussion of this idea led to what may go down as the funniest question of the year:

For those who don't know, the IPCC won a Nobel prize. Michael Mann was an author on an IPCC report so he went around repeatedly telling everybody he had won a Nobel prize, which was not true. Personally, I don't think the fact Mann stole credit for the IPCC's Nobel prize means he should be trusted over the IPCC.
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Is it Worth Rebutting Conspiracy Theories?

People say untrue things all the time. Sometimes what they say is so untrue I feel obliged to respond. I'm not sure that is healthy though. Today I'd like to discuss an example which shows why. The example involves the alleged chemical attack on Douma, a city in Syria, on April 7th, 2018, by the Syrian government. Many people have alleged this attack didn't happen, claiming reports of a chemical attack were a fabrication created by a conspiracy of people seeking to create negative sentiments for the Syrian government.
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Too Incompetent to Obstruct Justice?

With there being a holiday this weekend and my legal issues earlier this week, I don't have a lot of energy to write new posts. There are a number of things I'd like to discuss though, so for now, I'll go with a simple one. The Mueller report was released recently (with heavy redactions). There are a lot of people putting a lot of work into spinning the narrative around the report, but to me, it seems one point is clear: Donald Trump did not obstruct justice, even though he tried really, really hard to.

I'm not sure what to make of it. Trump repeatedly gave unlawful orders to his staff only to find his staff ignored the orders or refused to carry them out. Trump seems to be protected from criminal prosecution primarily because he is too incompetent to get his own staff to do what he tells them to do. That seems more damning a criticism than any charge of criminality ever could have been.

I got in a car accident last month, and the situation for the accident was so strange to me I wrote a contemporary account of what happened and posted it for documentation purposes. One of the things which struck me as strange about the situation was I was given a ticket for "FAIL TO REDUCE SPEED." I plead not guilty to for this offense as I thought it was nonsense, and today, I became convinced that plea is 100% correct. If you don't want to hear the details, just look at this picture (the stop sign pictured in the image was not there at the time of the accident):


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Half a Year

I'm a couple days early with this, but I wanted to get this posted so I don't forget. Half a year ago (on October 7th, I believe), the IPCC announced the publication of its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. Along with this announcement was a major media blitz to get people to look at the report. In response to this, I asked a natural question, when would the IPCC release the draft versions of the report and the reviewer comments on those drafts? The IPCC had said it'd release that material when it published the report, but in response to my question, the IPCC said:

The IPCC told the public it had published the report, but it also said it wouldn't release certain material because it hadn't published the report yet. That seems to clearly be a lie. The report cannot be "published" and "not published yet" at the same time. The truth is what the IPCC published for its media blitz was a draft version of its report, a draft which would undergo significant changes prior to the "final publication," a fact the IPCC failed to disclose to the public.*

That situation was then compounded in December when the IPCC published what it listed as the official report, and again, failed to provide the material it promised it would release. I asked about this:

It's now been about four more months, half a year since the IPCC engaged in its media blitz about the publication of this report, and the IPCC still hasn't released any of the material it said it'd release when it published the report. Is the IPCC ever going to publish this material? If it doesn't, would anyone care? I'm not sure. Nobody seems to care the IPCC blatantly lied during its media campaign.

*The changes go far beyond simple copy-editing, with entire paragraphs being changed, deleted or even created from scratch. Not only was this fact hidden from the public, no explanation has been provided as to how such changes are reviewed since there was no opportunity for outside reviewers to comment on them.

It's the Laziness That Gets Me

There's a lot that can be said about the inanity of hit pieces one finds in the media nowadays. One can moralize about the rise in partisanship and whatnot, but what gets me isn't the close-mindedness. It's the stupidity. What I've come to realize is as people become less willing to consider views which differ from theirs, they become less capable of spotting errors.

I think that's why hit pieces are rarely intelligent. I'm not opposed to hit pieces in principle. I am just bothered at how bad a job people do of and with them. For instance, this new article by Michael Mann and Bob Ward in the Guardian is incredibly terrible.
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