Category Archives: Consensus

A New Video on the "Consensus"

So a while back I decided to make some YouTube videos about various topics I've discussed on this blog since videos can be a lot more digestible than blog posts. Life got in the way though, and I kept putting them off. That's finally changed though. I'm happy to say I've published my first "real" YouTube video about a climate change related issue. For my first video, I figured I'd tackle the 97% consensus meme, and the con that went into making it. You can check out the video here:

One thing I realized during previous attempts at making videos is I felt like there was too much "dead time" in terms of what was on the screen, where nothing was happening. The obvious solution to this was to get on camera and show my face as I talked during those portions. I'm not super comfortable with that, but I decided to go ahead and do it. I also edited the video a bit so I could do things like splice in video clips.

I'm not exactly thrilled with how the video turned out, but I think it turned out alright for a first attempt. My hope is with practice and experimentation, I'll be able to improve so I can make videos people will enjoy watching and find informative. Given that, any feedback is welcome!

That's "Skepticism" For You

One of the most common complaints of the global warming "Skeptic" movement is people get censored for having views considered to be problematic by the mainstream. This might lead you to think they believe censorship is bad as an open exchange of ideas is important. My experience suggests that's wrong. I've had comments deleted from Skeptic sites numerous times without breaking any rules, I've been banned from a number of Skeptic sites despite behaving better than most of their regulars, and I've even had Skeptics pass around e-mails telling others not to talk to me.

Here's the latest example. Earlier today, I posted a comment comment at the site Cliscep which simply said:

There is nothing in that comment which breaks any rules or norms of civil discourse. Naturally, it needed to be deleted. You see, while Cliscep describes its group as:

Our thinking in launching this new blog (called – very originally – Climate Scepticism) is that a joint site, with more frequent and more varied articles, would be more visible and possibly more useful. 
We don’t aim to compete with Bishop Hill or WattsUpWithThat on the news-gathering front, but to assemble a number of disparate voices in a joint venture. There’s no “party line” or rulebook, and certainly no 97% consensus about anything.

The reality is there is very much a "party line" to that group, just like there is to the Skeptic movement in general. If you cross it, Skeptics will do everything they can to punish you and prevent you from participating in discussions in the future. Even (or especially) if that means censoring you when you point out their errors.
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This Might be Pointless, but...

As you guys may remember, last month I asked "What Should a Person Do?" when confronted with a situation where authors of a paper published something they knew to be false. I still don't have a good answer, but today, I took one step in potentially addressing the issue by contacting the journal of the paper this particular example was published in. I thought I'd post it here as well so people could see. Maybe I should have done that first so I could get feedback?
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Failing at Control

Hey guys. It's time to resume the series of posts I'm writing about a series of papers, and a PHD dissertation based on them which got halted because I've been playing too many games of Rock, Paper, Scissors (if you want to know why I've been playing that, see here). Today I will be discussing how not only are the results the authors published based upon a inappropriate methodology, but fail a basic sanity check.
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Establishing Competency

A couple months ago I contacted a scientist asking to examine the data used in three papers which made up the bulk of her PhD dissertation. The initial response contained this:

Thank you very much for your email and interest in our publications.

We follow ethical guidelines from the American Psychological Association, and we are happy to share our data to other competent researchers. Would you please indicate your background and outline how you plan to use the data?

Which struck me as odd as I have no idea how one would determine which people are "competent researchers." I was pessimistic about this response as it seemed like this might be used as an excuse for not sharing data with me, but fortunately, the issue of whether or not I am a "competent" researcher never came up again.

After examining the data for these three papers, I came to the conclusion the papers were fundamentally flawed in a way which invalidated their analysis and conclusions. I informed the author of this thesis of my concerns and tried to give her time to examine the issue privately. I believe several months was long enough so now I'd like to discuss the matter in public. Hopefully, this will demonstrate I am in fact competent.
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This is Not Self-Plagiarism(?)

A little while back I wrote a post asking if something was an example of self-plagiarism. A person had had written a media article about a year ago. I noticed the text of that article had been copied near verbatim into a larger paper published in a scientific journal. I was uncertain if this would be considered self-plagiarism since the text originated in a non-journal article.

The obvious solution to me was to see what the journal had to say on self-plagiarism. I tried looking online to see what their policy was, but I couldn't find a clear answer. As such, I Contacted the journal to ask what their policy on self-plagiarism is in regard to matters like this. Today I'd like to review their ruling on the matter.
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Is This Self-Plagiarism?

Getting back to our discussion of the newest paper by Stephan Lewandowsky and John Cook, I'd like to discuss something about the paper I have found troubling since day one. I didn't bring this up before because I wanted to contact the journal about it first. You see, the paper is titled:

The ‘Alice in Wonderland’ mechanics of the rejection of (climate) science: simulating coherence by conspiracism

I immediately recognized this title because it was similar to one I had seen before:

'Alice through the Looking Glass' mechanics: the rejection of (climate) science

This is the title for a media article Lewnandowsky published on October 23rd, 2015. Its text was copied nearly verbatim into the new paper. Today, I'd like to discuss whether or not that qualifies as self-plagiarism.
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Did John Cook Lie in His Doctoral Thesis?

I'm growing a bit tired of repeating the same point over and over in regard to the recent paper by John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky (that they repeatdly call things contradictions even though they are not), so I decided it would be a good time to take a break and discuss something else that has been bugging me. You guys may remember this tweet:

Which wasn't actually written by Barack Obama or by anyone representing him. The group using his name for the Twitter account is Oragnizing for Action, a non-profit advocacy group which explicitly denies any affiliation with any government. When asked, "Is OFA affiliated in any way with the federal or any other government, or funded with taxpayer dollars," it says, "No."

Combined with the fact the account's profile says:

This account is run by Organizing for Action staff. Tweets from the President are signed -bo.

It should be clear President Obama had nothing to do with this tweet. Despite that, John Cook wrote this in his doctoral thesis:

Consequently, our study received a significant amount of media attention, including a number of tweets by President Obama (Cook, Bedford, & Mandia, 2014).

For today's post, I would like to discuss whether or not this was a lie.
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These Are Not Contradictions, Part Two

Yesterday's post focused on Table 1 of a recent paper by John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky named "The ‘Alice in Wonderland’ mechanics of the rejection of (climate) science: simulating coherence by conspiracism." This came after a post focusing on Table 2 of the paper. These posts focused on these two tables because there are no other figures or tables in the paper, causing these two tables to have the largest visual impact.

It was suggested to me I was unfair in pointing out the authors offered absolutely no evidence anyone believes the contradictions in Table 1 exist, or even that the stated beliefs are contradictory. The reason is the authors did give seven examples in their text with arguments and sources to support them. There are seven of these examples, whereas Table 1 is described as:

Over one hundred incoherent pairs of arguments can be found in contrarian discourse. (See In this article, we have explored a representative sample in some detail. For further illustration we show several other incoherent arguments in Table 1. Each of the arguments in the table is subject to the same critical analysis as the examples in the preceding sections.

Table 1 had some 20 different examples listed, and the text discussing it referred to there being over 100 examples in total. That seemed the most relevant topic to discuss. After all, even if all seven points of contradiction discussed in the body of the paper were real, that is only seven points on which various global warming skeptics disagree. That's hardly "incoherent." You could find just as many points of disagreement on most scientific issues.

Still, it is worth discussing those seven examples. As such, I will do so in today's post.
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The (Socialist) Nazis Did It!

In our last post, we looked at how a recent paper by the proprietor of the Skeptical Science website, a man named John Cook (and two co-authors), claimed global warming skeptics hold "incoherent" beliefs by grossly misrepresenting and distorting a variety of quotes.

Specifically, Table 2 of the paper provided quotations from several different skeptics which supposedly showed those skeptics contradicting themselves. This was a key issue for the paper, which was titled "The ‘Alice in Wonderland’ mechanics of the rejection of (climate) science: simulating coherence by conspiracism" based on the well-known quote from the story Alice and Wonderland:

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

This is the key concept for the paper. It's entire concept rests on the idea skeptics hold "incoherent" beliefs because they are willing to and capable of holding contradictory beliefs at the same time. The evidence they offer to support this claim is bogus though. We can tell just by looking at Nazis.
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