Friday, July 17, 2009

Chris Mooney's latest bad idea

Chris Mooney continues to put forth bad ideas in the name of what he thinks is needed to solve the climate change problem, ideas that are actually dangerous. He (again) just doesn't understand what science is or how it works.

In an interview in Discover magazine blog hawking his book, Mooney says:
Q: Chris pointed out here that climate change denier extraordinaire Marc Morano may be dead wrong, but he’s articulate, well funded, and there’s no one on the science side that competes with him. What specifically can be done to change that?

A: It’s simple: Things won’t change until the world of science invests in creating counter-Moranos. There are many talented and extremely young intelligent people in science today who could fill that role, but there is little training available for them, and even less of a career trajectory for them to get there.

Note what he's suggesting: that the climate change community should emulate somehow who is "dead wrong."

This is so misguided it's hard to believe anyone would suggest it. It's also untrue, as things have "changed" in Europe and elsewhere without Morano-like spinning.

Look: science has one thing going for it -- just one thing. But it is everything. And that is intellectual integrity. That is its only strength, in this crappy world of hype and spin and media manipulation. But it is everything.

As soon as you abandon intellectual integrity, as Marc Morano has done, as Drudge has done, s soon are you start listing how cold it was in Timber Falls, Idaho or northeastern India yesterday, and all of that crap... you give away the whole game. You stoop to their level. You lose the only thing that science really has -- honestly.

Science has nothing else going for it. It isn't easy to understand. It takes a long time. It can be expensive.

But in the end it is always right.

Science has never lost one, not even one, intellectual argument, ever. Science always finds the answer, without spin, without hype, in any controversial subject: lead in gasoline, the ozone hole, the structure of the solar system, DDT, mercury in vaccinations, the purported ether, quantum mechanics, you name it.

Science always wins. Always.

Read you history and see how the scientists who called out the deleterious effects of lead in gasoline where treated by the industry. Or how Rachel Carson was harrassed by the chemical industry. What's happening now isn't anything different.

Rachel Carson didn't win by playing their game. Nor did Galileo. They won by sticking to science.

Yes, good science and its communication takes time. But it's not that slow, really. Look at where the world is today, compared to 10 years ago. Yes, that 10 years is a dangerous delay, but it's inevitable, and necessary, even in countries where scientific literacy is purportedly high. Europe hasn't exactly set any standards with how to deal with the climate problem.

The absolute worst thing science could do would be to emulate its opponents and submit to spin and hype and "reframing." These are terrible ideas, thought up by the unscientific. Reframing is just another word for spin, dolled-up.

The moment you abandon real science and resort to spinning and Morano-like tactics, you have admitted to losing the game. You might get a bill passed in the next Congress, but nothing permanent will come of it and the cause of science will be lost.

Scientists know this, which is why they stick to science. Activists don't know it, which is why they look foolish and no one listens to them except the choir.

33 comments:

Dano said...

No.

Step back a minute.

The "information" that Morono sends out goes out along well-oiled dissemination channels and are worded in such a way to compel an emotional reaction, and ultimately are picked up by motivated individuals who continue to hammer the "information", to such a degree that they are calling Senators with a script imploring them to vote down Cap'n Trade.

It matters not whether the "information" is propaganda, recipes, or the word 'Bob'. The dissemination channels, the eliciting an emotional response, and finally a set of motivated actors jamming phone lines.

It is an extension of the psychological analysis of DOE. The point is that 'science isn't winning in the face of motivated and angry credulous rubes.'

Best,

D

Anonymous said...

Yes, Science will always win,... in the end.

Then why not debate the facts in the arena of science?

The marriage of government money, institutionalized academics and an aging me-generation media have become the state run religion.

All models are wrong, some are useful but none are evidence. That is science.

Anonymous said...

Intellectual integrity would be respecting your opponents instead of calling them Holocaust deniers.

Intellectual integrity would involve the reliance upon data, instead of predetermined outcomes.

Intellectual integrity would involve using the scientific method, instead of consensus politics.

Hank Roberts said...

Morano is a PR professional.

PR professional debunking:

http://www.desmogblog.com/

They've been doing excellent work on this area a long while -- they're the best kind, people who know how the profession works and can't stand how it's being used.

Surely they qualify -- last I heard, Canadians were Americans, of the Northern variety, albeit not quite as unscientific as the USian variety.

Dano said...

As we see the second anonymous credulously aping Morono spin or ignorantly not getting it, we see the talking points and how they work. They have duped an entire generation - albeit they wanted to be duped. As for the rest,

It is simply, as Hank implies, taking empirical findings and making them compelling, cogent, and understandable for the lay public.

That is not so hard to understand.

Best,

D

Steve Bloom said...

I haven't read the book, but in principle I don't see a problem with attempting a sound-bitey aggregator site that could serve as a central clearinghouse for legitimate climate info. In addition to keeping up with breaking news, it could include summaries of significant papers, which eventually could comprise a useful data base (allowing one, e.g., to click on a topic and see in a few minutes get an update on the science and politics relating to the topic). Something along these lines could probably be done minimally with a staff of four, one of whom would need to be a climate scientist, so we're talking a serious funding commitment.

bigcitylib said...

I 2nd Steve Bloom's comments. I would also aggregate the blog refutations of denialist talking points. That's an even more important component.

Michael D Smith said...

Science does always win. Evidence wins, it's winning now. That's why AGW will be exposed for what it is, overstated, alarmist, bloated junk science. If there were evidence of a causal, real-world link between CO2 and temperature, after $50 billion, surely someone would have found it by now.

Squidly said...

Oops, sorry to bring this up, but,

Issued by The National Weather Service
Nashville, TN
6:12 am CDT, Sun., Jul. 19, 2009

... UNSEASONABLY COOL TEMPERATURES TODAY AND TONIGHT...

CANADIAN HIGH PRESSURE WILL CONTINUE TO CONTROL THE WEATHER ACROSS MIDDLE TENNESSEE TODAY AND TONIGHT. CLOUDS WILL FORM TODAY AND KEEP TEMPERATURES IN CHECK. THE RECORD LOW HIGH TEMPERATURE AT THE NASHVILLE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TODAY IS 79 DEGREES SET IN 1897. A NEW RECORD WILL BE SET TODAY.

THE RECORD LOW TEMPERATURE TONIGHT IN NASHVILLE IS 59 AND IN CROSSVILLE IS 57... SET IN 1947 AND 1970 RESPECTIVELY. NEW RECORD LOWS ARE EXPECTED.

Dano said...

The credulous rubes trying to spam the thread are one of the main reasons we need such a position.

Sure, decision-makers are finally on board and they know the facts, and see the polls that denialists are a small fraction of the population. So action is finally occurring.

But we need a much better educated populace for when we start taking more action to adapt to and mitigate man-made climate change, and we don't need any more willful ignorami spamming editorial pages, blog threads, letters to editor, and industry-funded phone campaigns to Senators. These industry-funded campaigns using the ignorami slow the process and distort the feelings of the commonweal.

Best,

D

Michael D Smith said...

Dano - "Sure, decision-makers are finally on board and they know the facts, and see the polls that denialists are a small fraction of the population. So action is finally occurring."

Try 19 to 1 against cap & charade:

http://tomnelson.blogspot.com/2009/07/on-public-reaction-to-waxman-markey.html

Judy Cross said...

I think the fact that Al Gore told CNN last year that he was planning to spend $300 Million over a 3-5 year period on advertising and PR, should point up where the real money is being spent.

If you don't like Morano because of his PR background, try: http://www.icecap.us/ http://www.friendsofscience.org/
http://www.climatescience.org.nz/http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/
http://www.drroyspencer.com/

All of the above are run by scientists....and emotion has little to do with cooling in spite of rising CO2.
http://icecap.us/images/uploads/SSPI8yr.jpg

Dano said...

Michael D Smith: this is the industry-funded phone campaign I talked about, you know, the one on the front page of your favorite tea-bagging exercise.

If the R Rep doesn't want to look at the national polling, that's his constituent's problem, and their children's problem.

Plenty of FUD money being spent by industry to maintain their profits. Which is what Mooney is talking about.

Best,

D

Steve Bloom said...

BCL, the RC Wiki is an existing attempt to centralize refutations of denialists. So far so good, but it hasn't been well-publicized and of course would benefit greatly from a paid editor.

Steve Bloom said...

At a quick glance this new BBC site is very impressive. While focused on personal action rather than the science, it's an excellent example of how serious funding can lead to a better site.

Mark C said...

Firstly, for some one so concerned about intellectual integrity I would think you would proof your post a little better than you did and clean up all the typos. Secondly, you sound like a very religious person given the infallibility and inerrancy you bestow on science. The problem with science is that it is never final, as something will be discovered tomorrow that will undo or question something that is thought to be final today. Finally, if all the facts are on the alarmists side, why all the ad hominem attacks on realists? The only people who use ad hominem attacks are those whose arguments are weak and beggarly. Every time you engage in ad-hominem name calling you prove you have something to hide.

bigcitylib said...

Steve,

Yeah I'd visited the wiki before. The other I wasn't aware of. I was thinking more an anti-Climate Depot (which in itself is a more Drudge-like Icecap). Something that updates whenever a piece of pseudo-science is responded to somewhere on-line.

There's all sorts of intelligent science types/half decent writers that respond to this stuff as it comes up (an example being the Zeeb/Zacho paper). But its hard to find them all in one spot. SOmething like that might be useful to media types.

Dano said...

Cleaning up that RC Wiki would be a good job for...a student in science communication.

Best,

D

Bob Armstrong said...

Seems to me Morano mainly simply links all web items related to the GW controversy , pro , con or neutral .

Certainly , while listing the unusually large number of record low temperatures occurring now days is cherry picking , it is data and is distinctly not un-scientific .

David , given that you have a PhD in Physics , perhaps you could explain to us why alarmists so commonly ignore Kirchhoff's 150 year old , this year , insight that albedo does not affect the temperature of a radiantly heated ball . Therefore the common claim that without the "greenhouse effect" our .3 albedo earth would be ( .7 ^ 4 = .91 ) its actual near black body temperature violates classical physics .

Also , please let your readers know that Venus's temperature cannot be due to some "runaway" effect since it is radiating 16 times as much energy as any object in its orbit could obtain from the sun .

You denigrate us "realists" as un-scientific . Please explain these apparent scientific howlers to us .

Dano said...

perhaps you could explain to us why [dim-bulbery deleted] so commonly ignore Kirchhoff's 150 year old , this year , insight that albedo does not affect the temperature of a radiantly heated ball.

Zoinks! Jinkies, Scoob! that would be a powerful argument if it was based in fact.

Yet another argument for better communications.

Best,

D

Bob Armstrong said...

You didn't answer my question .

It's precisely stated on my http://cosy.com/views/warm.htm which discusses the obvious error introduced last year to the equation for the temperature of the planet on Wikipedia's "Black Body" page . It adds an absorptivity of 0.7 to one side of the equation , but fails to honor Kirchhoff by adding the same term for emissivity to the other . Thus , it has earth absorbing as a gray body but emitting as a black body producing the very ubiquitous 0.7 ^ 4 = .91 purported temperature deficit to be filled by a greenhouse effect whose quantitative derivation I have never been able to find .

Do you defend this dismissal of Kirchhoff ?

Also , please explain the temperature of Venus .

Dano said...

Wow. Your widdle web page has overturned a whole lotta physics, Galileo...er...Bob.

One wonders why the paradigm hasn't shifted yet. Alllll those people in on the conspiracy...nonetheless, keep pounding away at those dratted scientists! When are you going to 1) tell others by publishing a new physics book and 2) receive your Nobel?

That is: I think the frequency of appearance of your argument (or something similar) comes up by someone approximately every 13.2 months (+- 17d).

But by golly, that's a nice web page, esp. the links to S&B and CFACT. My, my. But that's enough time spent on crackpottery.

Best,

D

Bob Armstrong said...

You've still not answered my question .

And I'm not turning over anything . It's obvious what I'm saying is totally textbook . It's just that you can't apply it to the earth , or almost all of your greenhouse effects become artifacts of an incorrect equation .

The question on Venus is super simple . Can it be as hot as it is simply on energy from the sun ?

Dano said...

Look, one can chase around this sort of crazy-person thing all day, esp the uncontextualized 'textbook' assertions. Venus' atmosphere makes it more hot than incoming solar irradiation. It's not that hard to understand. If you think you know something others don't, let us know when your manuscript gets published. And don't cite CFACT or S&B's climate "work" if you want it to get accepted.

Best,

D

Bob Armstrong said...

"Venus' atmosphere makes it more hot than incoming solar irradiation."

I'll let readers judge who's making any physical sense .

Dano said...

So Venus' atm doesn't contribute to the surface temp then. Got it.

Best,

D

Bob Armstrong said...

You're the PhD professor . Show me the equations .

By the implementation of Stefan-Boltzmann/Kirchhoff on my http://cosy.com/Science/TemperatureOfGrayBalls.htm , Venus is more than twice as hot as even an object , black facing the sun , white facing night , will be in that orbit . so it's radiating more than 2 ^ 4 = 16 than it's receiving .

No , it can't be the atmosphere .

Dano said...

I'm not a PhD professor. This fact doesn't prevent me from chuckling at your assertion (altho the fact I'm an amateur astronomer helps), and I await your paper overturning planetary science. Let us know when the manuscript is accepted and when they mention it in S&T.

Although this is likely out of the purview of the new discipline/position that Mooney offers, it is certainly indicative of the level of understanding and how the discourse needs to be elevated, and how a go-between can clarify such matters.

Best,

D

Hank Roberts said...

> CoSy

What is this "specturm" of which he speaks?

Hnak Roberts said...

I knew this sounded familiar.
http://www.geosc.psu.edu/~kasting/Meteo_466/Readings/Icarus_88.pdf

Hank Roberts said...

ah.
http://www.jstor.org/pss/1934307

Bob Armstrong said...

@ Dano :
Sorry , I see it's David Appell whose a PhD .

@ Hank Roberts :
Thanks for the links .

The William P. Lowry article starts off correctly , but not having any of that government or exxon money , I'm loath to drop $14 just to see if and where we diverge . I was going to contact him but unfortunately he died in '98 .

Kasting's paper seems based on theory presented in an earlier one .

I'm working on implementing the Planck equation so I can replace the scalar absorptivity/emissivity parameter in my SB/K implementation with spectra .

And updating salient pages of http://CoSy.com

Thanks again for the feedback .

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