Sunday, July 27, 2014

Harassers Who Won't Cease and Desist

I'm being harassed by two Oregon climate deniers.

I get someone who harasses me about once a month, with all the usual myths, misunderstandings and bad science. Usually they go away, often to show up again a months later.

None of them really want a conversation, of course -- they mostly want to insult you, tell you what scum you are, and whine about how liberals are destroying the galaxy. But most aren't as nasty as the two who are harassing me now.

Gordon Fulks -- who wants everyone to know he has a PhD, even announcing it when he asks questions at a seminar (who does that???), won't reveal who, if anyone, pays him to deny climate change and harass people, for which he is notorious. (He deflects the question every time I ask, never outright denying it, and some correspondence I've had with other Oregonians leads me to strongly question who he is working for, as it did for them.)

Fulks was written up in the Seattle Times, who labeled him "uncivil" for disrupting and domineering an attempt by University of Washington scientist Cliff Mass to propose a meeting between scientists and deniers. As the Times wrote last September:
He [Mass] invited some of the 12 skeptics who recently wrote an anti-global-warming brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, and suggested they hash it out with some experts at the UW’s atmospheric sciences department.

That’s when the name-calling started.

“It all went to hell,” Mass said.

Some scientists are wary of these debates because they say they foster a false perception that there is a real “pro or con” debate. But their reluctance prompted one skeptic, in caustic emails, to brand all the University of Washington scientists as “dishonest” or “blind fanatics” who are peddling “political nonsense” in the guise of science.

“Are there any true intellectuals left at UW?” taunted retired astrophysicist Gordon Fulks, in an email to much of the atmospheric sciences faculty. “Or have you ALL morphed into climate automatons?”

There was so much smack-talk, most of it from Fulks, that Mass canceled the seminar.

“It was inimical to everything a scientific discussion is supposed to be about,” Mass said, “and the scientific discussion hadn’t even started yet.”

So a meeting to clear the air of tribal antagonism was called off due to tribal antagonism.
Fulks utilizes the full plate of denier tactics, such as the old truncating-the-data-before-they-reveal-him-wrong trick, and writing inane op-eds in the Oregonian that get him clubbed over the head by real climate scientists and corrected by yours truly.

Oh yeah: Fulks is also an ozone denier. Because, of course. Read the emails in that post -- it shows Fulk's methodology clearly, as he browbeats editors and others, while claiming that he's some kind of expert on climate change. He's not, but rather a self-styled "expert" who never actually does any science, let alone publish any science.

Here he brags: "Michael, Chuck  [Wiese] and I spoiled their politically correct comments with just a little input of our own. It is quite amazing how we can stir up a hornet’s nest with just a few comments." He follows with this, which is pure unadulterated horseshit:
If we were to burn all the fossil fuel available to us, we might be able to double the concentration in the atmosphere.  A doubling of CO2 will increase the global temperature by one degree centigrade in the absence of feedbacks.  All indications point to negative feedbacks that decrease this warming below one degree centigrade.  Hence the net result is so minor as to be of no real concern.
Chuck F. Wiese is a former TV weatherman, with just a B.A. in meteorology. Because he can't argue the science, his tactic is straight out of the denier handbook -- personal attacks. He goes around questioning my PhD, saying that I "claim" to have one, trying to suggest that I don't. What a snake.

Personally I suspect Wiese has PhD envy -- yes, it's a real affliction -- or maybe is simply cowed by them, having been too lazy or too dumb to get one of his own. Anything he writes or says -- emails, comments, seminar questions -- never fails to reveal his deep truculence and anger. At who? I don't know. All PhDs, maybe. The climate. The galaxy.

Wiese, always vitriolic, routinely gets the science wrong, such as about ocean acidification, and he presented this hilarious graph (by Roy Spencer) as proof of global cooling when I debated him some years at the invitaton of a business group in Portland:


Since obviously the tropospheric anomaly is now not at something like the graph's 2014 prediction of, what, -5 to -10°C, I look forward to Wiese's admission that he was full of crap. (The graph was made using Excel to fit a sixth-order polynomial to the data -- in other words, just blind curve-fitting.) Time to man up, Mr. Wiese.

Nor does he understand the difference between a weather model and a climate model, or why climate models don't do forecasts, or the difference between an initial value problem and a boundary value problem.

Wiese gave this hopelessly befuddled presentation at a campaign event of an ultra-conservative Republican candidate for one of Oregon's federal house seats, Lisa Michaels, who was trounced in the primary. (For chuckles, be sure to note when Wiese says the "the atmosphere is warmer than CO2's temperature is," and that the atmosphere gives "half back" of the radiation it absorbs. (It doesn't.)

Here is how the pair of Fulks & Wiese work -- their version of the Serengeti Strategy: one of them sends you something unsolicited and always wrong, like GF's implication that a couple of cool days in Portland, Oregon last week means something about climate, cc'ing the other one, and cc'ing the denier group

The invective comes when you simply respond with a link showing June was very hot globally, on both land and sea. The other one then sends his pile of nastiness, cc'ed to the first and to a Portland conservative talk show host who has Wiese on his show to further befuddle his listeners about climate change.

When you get annoyed at the nasty, unsolicited emails and respond with something appropriate like "Fuck off, asshole," they start whining and accusing you of terrible insults and bcc, for all I know, all their denier friends. Of course, you can't have a rational discussion about the science with them; it gets "thoughtful" replies like this from Wiese:
"A bunch of convoluted hooey! As if the terms "predict" or "project" have any distinguishable difference in this context. Ensembles are tweaked by changing any number of input parameters to test the soundness of the central output. The more of them that diverge away from the full solution, the less reliable the model output. To draw significance to a few of them that happen to predict a flat temperature trend proves nothing, especially when you don't even identify which parameter was changed and to what degree. These few model ensembles would indicate it is reasonable to trust the main output as programmed, not a few outliers. That is how it is done in weather prediction, Appell, not the other way around. And anyone who is foolish enough to believe the models can accurately describe the behavior of the climate system when so many other factors have not even been scripted is sheer idiocy. Not to mention the mathematical constraints which nobody in atmospheric science has been able to get around."
Or this, from GF in April:
Science is not a game of 'Gotcha!'  It is an attempt to extract real meaning from often confusing and contradictory data.  You should understand this, even as a journalist.  Of course, you have given up both journalism and science in pursuit of politics, where you think that the idea is to obscure all meaning, especially where the real meaning does not support your cause.

Are you still unable to come to grips with the dramatic flattening of the GTA since 1998?  Most on your side acknowledge it, especially if they have any scientific training.
It has gotten so bad I sent a "cease and desist all contact" request to both of them, which they have ignored, because, they say, I've been mean to them, and that if I don't want their invective I shouldn't respond to their unsolicited emails. (I'm evaluating my options, have already contacted their Internet providers.)

I have to say, I've come across very few deniers -- and these two seem the model for the original mold -- who weren't, when you scratched their surface, truculent and abusive conservatives who (for the older ones, anyway) are very angry at the world and at even angrier that no one takes them seriously.

I'm tired of the harassment. This pair is (as Mass said) inimical to everything a scientific discussion is supposed to be about. I'm tired of these clowns who think, because you understand and accept the science, they can abuse you in any way they want. I just want to be left alone, and not receive any more of their nastiness. I've told each of them privately. But since they still won't leave me alone, even when asked, I've put up this post to air my grievances. And my response to them is still "Fuck off, assholes."


Kaustubh Thirumalai said...

Sorry to hear that you are being harassed. I wonder what they gain from doing this to you... Also, no surprise that they are old white males...

David Appell said...

Thanks Kaustubh. 'Course, I'm getting to be an older white male myself, but hope that doesn't affect my scientific positions.

John Samuel said...

Gordon's a real Heartland sweetheart. And a Cornwall Alliance supporter. He'll tell you how smart he is - and you know what they say about those who have to tell you. :-)