Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Scott Adams: The Non-Expert Problem and Climate Change Science



Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, wrote today about how difficult it is for a non-expert to judge science and especially climate science. He argues that it is normally a good idea for a non-expert to follow the majority of scientists. I agree. Even as a scientist I do this for topics where I am not an expert and do not have the time to go into detail. You cannot live without placing trust and you should place your trust wisely.

While it is clear to Scott Adams that a majority of scientists agree on the basics of climate change, he worries that they still could all be wrong. He lists the below six signals that this could be the case and sees them in climate science. If you get your framing from the mitigation sceptical movement and only read the replies to their nonsense you may easily get his impression. So I thought it would be good to reply. It would be better to first understand the scientific basis, before venturing into the wild.

The terms Global Warming and Climate Change are both used for decades

Scott Adams assertion: It seems to me that a majority of experts could be wrong whenever you have a pattern that looks like this:

1. A theory has been “adjusted” in the past to maintain the conclusion even though the data has changed. For example, “Global warming” evolved to “climate change” because the models didn’t show universal warming.


This is a meme spread by the mitigation sceptics that is not based on reality. From the beginning both terms were used. One hint is name of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a global group of scientists who synthesise the state of climate research and was created in 1988.

The irony of this strange meme is that it were the PR gurus of the US Republicans who told their politicians to use the term "climate change" rather than "global warming", because "global warming" was more scary. The video below shows the historical use of both terms.



Global warming was called global warming because the global average temperature is increasing, especially in the beginning there were still many regions were warming was not yet observed, while it was clear that the global average temperature was increasing. I use the term "global warming" if I want to emphasis the temperature change and the term "climate change" when I want to include all the other changes in the water cycle and circulation. These colleagues do the same and provide more history.

Talking about "adjusted", mitigation sceptics like to claim that temperature observations have been adjusted to show more warming. Truth is that the adjustments reduce global warming.

Climate models are not essential for basic understanding

Scott Adams assertion: 2. Prediction models are complicated. When things are complicated you have more room for error. Climate science models are complicated.

Yes, climate models are complicated. They synthesise a large part of our understanding of the climate system and thus play a large role in the synthesis of the IPCC. They are also the weakest part of climate science and thus a focus of the propaganda of the mitigation sceptical movement.

However, when it comes to the basics, climate model are not important. We know about the greenhouse effect for well over a century, long before we had any numerical climate models. That increasing the carbon dioxide concentration of the atmosphere leads to warming is clear, that this warming is amplified because warm air can contain more water, which is also a greenhouse gas, is also clear without any complicated climate model. This is very simple physics already used by Svante Arrhenius in the 19th century.

The warming effect of carbon dioxide can also be observed in the deep past. There are many reasons why the climate changes, but without carbon dioxide we can, for example, not understand the temperature swings of the past ice ages or why the Earth was able to escape from being completely frozen (Snowball Earth) at a time the sun was much dimmer.

The main role of climate models is trying to find reasons why the climate may respond differently this time than in the past or whether there are mechanisms beyond the simply physics that are important. The average climate sensitivity from climate models is about the same as for all the other lines of evidence. Furthermore, climate models add regional detail, especially when in comes to precipitation, evaporation and storms. These are helpful to better plan adaptation and estimate the impacts and costs, but are not central for the main claim that there is a problem.

Model tuning not important for basic understanding

Scott Adams assertion: 3. The models require human judgement to decide how variables should be treated. This allows humans to “tune” the output to a desired end. This is the case with climate science models.

Yes, models are tuned. Mostly not for the climatic changes, but to get the state of the atmosphere right, the global maps of clouds and precipitation, for example. In the light of my answer to point 2, this is not important for the question whether climate change is real.

The consensus is a result of the evidence

Scott Adams assertion: 4. There is a severe social or economic penalty for having the “wrong” opinion in the field. As I already said, I agree with the consensus of climate scientists because saying otherwise in public would be social and career suicide for me even as a cartoonist. Imagine how much worse the pressure would be if science was my career.

It is clearly not career suicide for a cartoonist. If you claim that you only accept the evidence because of social pressure, you are saying you do not really accept the evidence.

Scott Adams sounds as if he would like scientists to first freely pick a position and then only to look for evidence. In science it should go the other way around.

This seems to be the main argument and shows that Scott Adams knows more about office workers than about the scientific community. If science was your career and you would peddle the typical nonsense that comes from the mitigation sceptical movement that would indeed be bad for your career. In science you have to back up your claims with evidence. Cherry picking and making rookie errors to get the result you would like to get are not helpful.

However, if you present credible evidence that something is different, that is wonderful, that is why you become a scientist. I have been very critical of the quality of climate data and our methods to remove data problems. Contrary to Adams' expectation this has helped my career. Thus I cannot complain how climatology treats real skeptics. On the contrary, a lot of people supported me.

Another climate scientist, Eric Steig, strongly criticized the IPCC. He wrote about his experience:
I was highly critical of IPCC AR4 Chapter 6, so much so that the [mitigation skeptical] Heartland Institute repeatedly quotes me as evidence that the IPCC is flawed. Indeed, I have been unable to find any other review as critical as mine. I know "because they told me" that my reviews annoyed many of my colleagues, including some of my [RealClimate] colleagues, but I have felt no pressure or backlash whatsoever from it. Indeed, one of the Chapter 6 lead authors said “Eric, your criticism was really harsh, but helpful "thank you!"
If you have the evidence, there is nothing better than challenging the consensus. It is also the reason to become a scientist. As a scientist wrote on Slashdot:
Look, I'm a scientist. I know scientists. I know scientists at NOAA, NCAR, NIST, the Labs, in academia, in industry, at biotechs, at agri-science companies, at space exploration companies, and at oil and gas companies. I know conservative scientists, liberal scientists, agnostic scientists, religious scientists, and hedonistic scientists.

You know what motivates scientists? Science. And to a lesser extent, their ego. If someone doesn't love science, there's no way they can cut it as a scientist. There are no political or monetary rewards available to scientists in the same way they're available to lawyers and lobbyists.

Scientists consider and weigh all the evidence

Scott Adams assertion: 5. There are so many variables that can be measured – and so many that can be ignored – that you can produce any result you want by choosing what to measure and what to ignore. Our measurement sensors do not cover all locations on earth, from the upper atmosphere to the bottom of the ocean, so we have the option to use the measurements that fit our predictions while discounting the rest.

No, a scientist cannot produce any result they "want" and an average scientist would want to do good science and not get a certain result. The scientific mainstream is based on all the evidence we have. The mitigation sceptical movement behaves in the way Scott Adams expects and likes to cherry pick and mistreat data to get the results they want.

Arguments from the other side only look credible

Scott Adams assertion: 6. The argument from the other side looks disturbingly credible.

I do not know which arguments Adams is talking about, but the typical nonsense on WUWT, Breitbart, Daily Mail & Co. is made to look credible on the surface. But put on your thinking cap and it crumbles. At least check the sources. That reveals most of the problems very quickly.



For a scientist it is generally clear which arguments are valid, but it is indeed a real problem that to the public even the most utter nonsense may look "disturbingly credible". To help the public assess the credibility of claims and sources several groups are active.

Most of the zombie myths are debunked on RealClimate or Skeptical Science. If it is a recent WUWT post and you do not mind some snark you can often find a rebuttal the next day on HotWhopper. Media articles are regularly reviewed by Climate Feedback, a group of climate scientists, including me. They can only review a small portion of the articles, but it should be enough to determine which of the "sides" is "credible". If you claim you are sceptical, do use these resources and look at all sides of the argument and put in a little work to go in depth. If you do not do your due diligence to decide where to place your trust, you will get conned.



While political nonsense can be made to look credible, the truth is often complicated and sometimes difficult to convey. There is a big difference between qualified critique and uninformed nonsense. Valuing the strength of the evidence is part of the scientific culture. My critique of the quality of climate data has credible evidence behind it. There are also real scientific problems in understanding changes of clouds, as well as the land and vegetation. These are important for how much the Earth will respond, although in the long run the largest source of uncertainty is how much we will do to stop the problem.

There are real scientific problems when it comes to assessing the impacts of climate change. That often requires local or regional information, which is a lot more difficult than the global average. Many impacts will come from changes in severe weather, which are by definition rare and thus hard to study. For many impacts we need to know several changes at the same time. For droughts precipitation, temperature, humidity of the air and of the soil and insolation are all important. Getting them all right is hard.

How humans and societies will respond to the challenges posed by climate change is an even more difficult problem and beyond the realm of natural science. Not only the benefits, but also the costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions are hard to predict. That would require predicting future technological, economic and social development.

When it comes to how big climate change itself and its impacts will be I am sure we will see surprises. What I do not understand is why some are arguing that this uncertainty is a reason to wait and see. The surprises will not only be nice, they will also be bad and all over increase the risks of climate change and make the case for solving this solvable problem stronger.




Related reading

Older post by a Dutch colleague on Adams' main problem: Who to believe?

How climatology treats sceptics

What's in a Name? Global Warming vs. Climate Change

Fans of Judith Curry: the uncertainty monster is not your friend

Video medal lecture Richard B. Alley at AGU: The biggest control knob: Carbon Dioxide in Earth's climate history

Just the facts, homogenization adjustments reduce global warming

Climate model ensembles of opportunity and tuning

Journalist Potholer makes excellent videos on climate change and true scepticism: Climate change explained, and the myths debunked


* Photo Arctic Sea Ice by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.
* Cloud photo by Bill Dickinson used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license.

64 comments:

numerobis said...

Interesting this: I agree with the consensus of climate scientists because saying otherwise in public would be social and career suicide for me even as a cartoonist

It's *exactly* the same as why he claimed to support Clinton (while obviously being for Trump), before admitting he was for Trump.

Joshua said...

Adams refers to the 'shy Trump voter' theory to support his argument about climate science. I have yet to see a solid evidence-based argument in support if that theory. On the other hand, there is good reason to be skeptical of that argument. A reasonable summary of why:

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/shy-voters-probably-arent-why-the-polls-missed-trump/

He also says:

==> If you have been involved in any climate change debates online or in person, you know they always take the following trajectory:… ===>

Interesting how Scott left out the “hoax” part, they’re publishing faulty science for funding and career development part, they’re just exploiting science for a political agenda part, it’s just religious fanaticism part, they are driven by guilt part, etc. I guess he’s just looked at different online discussions than the ones I’ve seen.

Lars Karlsson said...

Jesus in a handbasket!
Adams: "This perceptual change in humanity is happening as I predicted it would a year before Trump won. I told you he would change more than politics. I said he would open a crack in reality so you could view it through a new filter. That transformation is well underway. I’ll widen the crack a bit more today."

Let's have a peek through that crack:
Pizzagate, the fake news conspiracy theory that led a gunman to DC’s Comet Ping Pong, explained (Vox).

If Trump's victory has anything to teach us, then it is how many people that are eager to swallow blatant propaganda, obvious lies and all kinds of hatred. Sadly, Adams appears to be among those people.

Andrew Dodds said...

Well.. if he started putting overt climate-science-denial into his comics, he probably would lose a lot of readers, generally because the comics wouldn't be funny. (Ref: Cartoons By Josh).

But he's been known to be a bit of a crank on multiple subjects such as Evolution, and 'Men's Rights' for a long time, and I don't think it's done him any financial harm. It seems to be a bit of the false victimhood claim here - saying 'I'll be oppressed for expressing these beliefs' whilst obviously not being oppressed.

Warren Pearce said...

There is a good social science article by Lorraine Whitmarsh on commonalities and differences between public understanding of "climate change" and "global warming": "the latter was found to evoke more concern than the former" http://pus.sagepub.com/content/18/4/401

Lars Karlsson said...

And more Jesus in a handbasket!

Adams: "To strengthen my point today, and in celebration of my reopening of the blog commenting section, please provide your links to pro and con arguments about climate science. This might be the only place in the world you will see links to both sides. If you want to be amazed, see how persuasive BOTH sides of this debate are."

John Samuel said...

Scott has veered well off course. He switched to supporting Trump because of estate taxes. Seriously - because of his taxes he switched to supporting a dangerous tangerine.
http://blog.dilbert.com/post/150919416661/why-i-switched-my-endorsement-from-clinton-to

Ruth said...

Great piece Victor! I completely agree. I'm really glad you wrote it and I hope Scott Adams reads it.

Anonymous said...

Scott Adams is right.

A model isn't predictive until it demonstrates predictions which are consistently confirmed. That doesn't happen until the model is stable, that is until it no longer has to be adjusted to fit new data. You don't have to be an expert in any particular science to know this because it's true in every science, part of the basic methodology of science.

Moreover, the old saw about Congress repealing the law of gravity reveals a basic truth about the operation of science: Voting is politics not science. When scientists resort to voting about something, the result has left the realm of science.

Finally, the fastest way to prove something is to vigorously attempt to disprove it... and fail. A political climate in which such experiments are impossible to rationally discuss (denier! denier!) and impossible to fund is inimical to science.

Lars Karlsson said...

Anonymous,
Consensus in science is not about voting. Consensus happens when scientists agrees about where the evidence leads. If there were no consensus in science, no progress would be possible: scientist would still be arguing about the shape of Earth, or in what direction gravity works.

Nick said...

Anonymous, there is no barrier to funding science that challenges theories. It happens all the time.
There are many kinds of models, some which are made to admit/ 'fit new data'. The predictive power of the oldest conjectural models of GHG-induced climate change is confirmed.

luminous beauty said...

Anon,

All models are wrong. No model is perfect. The basis of scientific progress is by constant improvement of the underlying physics, chemistry and biology of models to better represent observation. No one is seriously making statistical adjustments to create a false correlation between models and observations as you imply. That would be pointless.

Scientists coming to collective agreement on the consilience of the available evidence to either support or modify existing theory is what science is. It isn't partisan electoral politics, it is creating consensus.

The gathering of evidence and its methodical analysis is the process by which hypotheses are tested against falsification. If you know of some source of evidence that has so far been excluded from research, or some new method of analysis that can be brought to bear on the subject, you will receive support and funding.

Making vague accusations without evidence of political persecution by scientists is way outside the realm of science.

Victor Venema said...

Joshua: "Adams refers to the 'shy Trump voter' theory to support his argument about climate science. I have yet to see a solid evidence-based argument in support if that theory."

Is also shows that Adams is really bad in putting his trust in the right people. He should put more work into finding out who is credible. Maybe it would be good if he trusted me, I wrote that 30% Trump means that you get a catastrophe once every 3 times.

Joshua: "Interesting how Scott left out the “hoax” part ..."

It is interesting how he expects that that kind of sloppy reasoning should have no effect on how people perceive you and apparently thinks that is how is should be. No wonder he selected bad information sources, time and time again and then blames these sources for his lack of scepticism.

Victor Venema said...

Lars Karlsson: "If Trump's victory has anything to teach us, then it is how many people that are eager to swallow blatant propaganda, obvious lies and all kinds of hatred. Sadly, Adams appears to be among those people."

And how enormously tribal the US Republican voters are. On so many issues, from free markets to free trade, Republicans said were very important Trump holds the opposite positions to the ones they cheered for before Trump. That is the kind of politician you want to bribe as a corporation, that buys you an enormous change in public opinion. People who are willing to go to nonsense position like climate change is a hoax if their party tells them to. European conservatives are independent thinkers and would protest if their party would radicalise like that. No wonder the US Republicans get more campaign bribes than the Democrats.

Victor Venema said...

Warren Pearce : "There is a good social science article by Lorraine Whitmarsh on commonalities and differences between public understanding of "climate change" and "global warming": "the latter was found to evoke more concern than the former""

Thanks for the source.

That must be why the Republican spin doctors told their politicians to use the term "climate change" over "global warming". I never noticed a shift in science, but maybe the mitigation sceptics did notice this change in their politics and started the weird meme that the term "climate change" is new.

Victor Venema said...

Andrew Dodds: "But he's been known to be a bit of a crank on multiple subjects such as Evolution, and 'Men's Rights' for a long time, and I don't think it's done him any financial harm. It seems to be a bit of the false victimhood claim here - saying 'I'll be oppressed for expressing these beliefs' whilst obviously not being oppressed. "

I am not surprised. His thinking errors are quite general.

If no one replies, the poor mitigation sceptics are victims because they are ignored.

If someone replies, the poor mitigation sceptics are victims because they are attacked.

The only allowed response is full agreement in the land of the free.

Victor Venema said...

Ruth: "Great piece Victor! I completely agree. I'm really glad you wrote it and I hope Scott Adams reads it"

Thanks for the compliment.

For the people who do not know Ruth. This means that another climate scientist does not see the social pressure Scott Adams pulled out of thin air.

Victor Venema said...

Anonymous: "A model isn't predictive until it demonstrates predictions which are consistently confirmed. That doesn't happen until the model is stable, that is until it no longer has to be adjusted to fit new data. You don't have to be an expert in any particular science to know this because it's true in every science, part of the basic methodology of science."

You do not have to be an expert in any particular science to know that scientific progress does not stop. Our understanding and models naturally always improve.

Climate models are pretty good, I have to admit as observationalist.

This is a good video about how they are used in climate science.

Early predictions were pretty good.

Anonymous: "Moreover, the old saw about Congress repealing the law of gravity reveals a basic truth about the operation of science: Voting is politics not science. When scientists resort to voting about something, the result has left the realm of science."

Like already remarked above, the consensus is not based on voting. As I wrote in my post it is because of the evidence. It would be nice if you would respond to the arguments in the post rather than repeat the same old same old zombie memes.

Even consensus decision making in politics, which is something completely different, is not done by voting, but by talking until everyone agrees.

Anonymous: "Finally, the fastest way to prove something is to vigorously attempt to disprove it... and fail. A political climate in which such experiments are impossible to rationally discuss (denier! denier!) and impossible to fund is inimical to science."

And that is thus what we do. To mentioned an example from my own work: My claim to fame in statistical homogenization was a blind validation study of homogenization methods. I created a realistic validation dataset that looks like a normal station climate dataset, I inserted inhomogeneities, and my colleagues who did not know were these inhomogeneities were removed them. They did so successfully for temperature.

If WUWT & Co. were right, my colleagues would only have criminally added warming. WUWT lost. Science won. People at WUWT know about this study. They chose not to inform their readers about such studies. They think their readers are suckers and feed them disinformation.

A Siegel said...

Thank you for taking the time to do this substantive, thoughtful and (perhaps overly) polite response to Adams.

More politely, the Dilbert creator might be best described from his own cartoon(ish) world: he has become the pointed headed arrogantly and proudly ignorant boss.

Amid everything else, appreciate the links (yes, do click through). Never saw, for example, this great discussion of "Who to believe" (https://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/who-to-believe/) before. After this comment, going to go back to reread it.

Victor Venema said...

Nick: " Anonymous, there is no barrier to funding science that challenges theories. It happens all the time."

Exactly. The two largest sources of uncertainty in climate projections are the cloud and the vegetation/surface feedbacks. Clouds and surface processes are also the two field that receive a large part of the funding. The group I work in works on both.

You do not get funding for proposing to confirm what everyone already thought. In medicine and human sciences that is actually a problem and reproduction of old results would be valuable. These sciences have a much weaker theoretical basis, which makes it harder to judge whether an empirical study was performed right. In addition these experiments take a lot of resources. In physical sciences you have a lot of implicit reproduction when people build on previous work.

When you ask for funding you do not know the results yet. Otherwise it would not be science.

E. Swanson said...

Victor, your post includes a link said to point to a comment in which "climate scientist, Eric Steig, strongly criticized the IPPC". The link actually goes to a post by Judith Curry on her blog.

Victor Venema said...

E. Swanson, Eric Steig wrote this in the comments of Curry's blog. Just search for his name.

Anonymous, your (new?) comment was purely US politics. That is too much off topic and I prefer not to publish it. (if you use the "Name/URL" option, you can make comments under a fake name, which makes it easier to distinguish the various anonymous comment writers.)

Jeff said...

I can't speak for others, but what skepticism I have had is rooted in the response and certainty of the players. The basic science of the greenhouse effect is pretty easy to grasp, but everything beyond that seems more complex than I can grasp.

The response however, is basic human nature. If the world is really on the verge of catastrophic and irreparable destruction, the development of solutions would seem to be higher priority than anything else. Carbon offsets and expansion of government bureaucracy do not seem appropriate to the task.

Additionally, we've been bombarded with preposterous headlines and dire warnings for my entire adult life, none of which seem to have come to fruition (they may yet, obviously).

As an individual, I cannot parse the concept of climate on a visceral level. That is, I may notice the weather, and I may even notice trends in it, but I do not experience climate. To live in the modern West is to experience all assortment of panics from a very young age, the dramatic majority of which never effect us. It is impossible for an individual to distinguish extremely rapid climate warming caused by the burning of fossil fields and its catastrophic results from any other.

Lastly, and most importantly, climate deniers start with the knowledge that their opponents are completely wrong about one thing (possibly pathological so) before any science is even started. The idea that governments of the world will get together and cut carbon to a significant enough extent that it will stop or reverse warming is completely insane. War is obviously and viscerally worse than driving an SUV, and yet governments only agreed to cut that back after the thermonuclear bomb rendered the costs obviously unpalatable.

E. Swanson said...

Victor, Eric Steig's comment is HERE.

The blog post has more than 600 and the comments which follow Steig's give further insight into the substance of the comment. One of those follow on comments included some of Steig's complaints during the IPCC review process.

For those interested in the satellite data, I have a paper just posted as early release before publication in JTECH:

http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JTECH-D-16-0121.1

Verytallguy said...

Well said Victor. Adams' comments were dumbfoundingly well, dumb.

Anyway, I think there should be a competition to find the most apt dilbert for his behaviour.

Here's my entry

http://assets.amuniversal.com/9c8f3f909160012ee3c400163e41dd5b

Victor Venema said...

Jeff: "I can't speak for others, but what skepticism I have had is rooted in the response and certainty of the players. The basic science of the greenhouse effect is pretty easy to grasp, but everything beyond that seems more complex than I can grasp."

There is only one aspect where a scientist can be quite certain: that specific stories coming out of the political movement against mitigation are bunk. I realise that this may be different from non-experts, but most of these stories are so obviously wrong if you understand science, mostly you do not even need to understand much of the climate system to see this.

The science itself is really hard and there are many real problem and large uncertainties. I can't speak for others, but what amazes me is that people see uncertainty as a reason to wait and see. It makes the risk higher.

Jeff: "The response however, is basic human nature. If the world is really on the verge of catastrophic and irreparable destruction, the development of solutions would seem to be higher priority than anything else. Carbon offsets and expansion of government bureaucracy do not seem appropriate to the task."

So first corporations controlling 6% of the GDP and political activists try to prevent action at any cost and then it is not true because they managed to delay and reduce action. Your vision of the world may also be a bit biased: a lot is already done to make your world a better place. At the state level, by individuals and group and countries outside of the USA a lot is done to reduce the size of the problem.

Personally I would be willing to do a lot more.

Jeff: "Additionally, we've been bombarded with preposterous headlines and dire warnings for my entire adult life, none of which seem to have come to fruition (they may yet, obviously)."

There are already a lot of impacts if you are willing to open your eyes and if you do not discount anything that is also partially due to other factors. Climate change is an additional stressor, by itself nothing happens. Also when The Netherlands disappears from the face of the Earth, some will still claim that it was not sea level rise, but a storm, the unfortunate tides and the bad maintenance of the dikes.

Jeff: "Lastly, and most importantly, climate deniers start with the knowledge that their opponents are completely wrong about one thing (possibly pathological so) before any science is even started. The idea that governments of the world will get together and cut carbon to a significant enough extent that it will stop or reverse warming is completely insane."

Insane or not, the world has done so with the Paris climate agreement. If Trump tries to undermine that in the USA he will find himself to be very isolated, there will be a big price to pay for the USA. The industry in Europe would be cheering, the USA losing out on all the technologies of the 21st century would be good for Europe.

Victor Venema said...

Please try and keep the comments somewhat civil.

Richard Erskine said...

Scott Adams claims that climate science is too complex to understand, and by this token, insinuates a kind of relativism of opinion - one persons opinion being worth the same as anothers.

Firstly, I say that, while the consequences of global warming are complex (impacts on cryosphere, as an example of where even today, thanks to two widely publicized papers, we are learning new things about its long-term stability). But, the simple fact that accumulating heat in the Earth system will lead to warming of the atmosphere is, frankly, pretty obvious.

If Scott were to say, "... but the Greenhouse Effect is difficult to grasp, and so the reason for the heat accumulation". I'd refer him to Tyndall's brilliantly analogy of the dam in a river, which causes the level of the water (heat) to rise [analogous to heat rising in atmosphere, even while the sun's incoming energy is balanced by the outgoing radiation] , from his 1872 memoirs ...

http://preview.tinyurl.com/z25bcda

Who exactly is not able to grasp this elegant and simple explanation of the greenhouse effect (now called)?

And isn't it at least amusing that a cartoonist, Virgil Partch, was illustrating the impacts of global warming back in 1953, a few years before Scott was born?

https://twitter.com/EssaysConcern/status/806609682404167684

Maybe ordinary people - even cartoonists - can 'get it' ?


Joshua said...

E. Swanson -

Thanks for that excellent link. The discussion with Judith is fascinating, and I have to say a bit shocking. I hadn't realized that her intransigence and vacuous logic on the issues discussed, at such an extreme level, dated back that far - I was under the impression that it was more of a matter of her devolving over time.

Joshua said...

Victor -

==> It is interesting how he expects that that kind of sloppy reasoning should have no effect on how people perceive you and apparently thinks that is how is should be. ==>

Maybe he thinks that he can just persuade them to ignore the sloppiness in his reasoning through some kind of hypnosis :-) But I think more realistically, he just knows that with some people, he can get away with basically all kinds of sloppiness, because they want to pick up what he's puttin' down.

AK said...

OK Victor, you asked me to comment and I will. I've read all the comments, especially your replies, and what I see is an echo chamber full of confirmation bias. Remember I'm trying to address Scott's point of view (POV) here, not my own. I understand the science well enough to judge it on its own terms.

Your points in order (I don't agree with Scott Adams that wanting point by point is always a tell for cognitive dissonance):

•       The terms Global warming and climate change are both used for decades: Your response may be true within science, but in the effort to communicate it to the public "global warming" was the big meme at first. That was the term used when pushing Kyoto (personal experience).

Got to understand, the point here isn't about science, because we're talking about people who don't understand science well enough to judge. (I.e. not me.)

•       Climate models are not essential for basic understanding: you say they're not necessary for the basics. Other scientists disagree. AFAIK the consensus is that without "feedbacks" the effect of fossil CO2 is too small to make a big difference this century. (In fact, of course, things like ECS and TCR are myths that may not even exist. But this point hasn't reached the non-scientists. Yet.)

•       Model tuning not important for basic understanding: Tuning introduces circularity. Given the number of parameters available, there's no good reason to assume that a "tuned" model that replicates the 20th century will say anything useful about the 21st.

Scientists have said this (e.g. Curry). Regular people can understand, and be suspicious of motivations. They/we can also see through the arm-waving by the "consensus" crowd.

•       The consensus is a result of the evidence: Nope. The "consensus" is a result of interpretations of the evidence. Interpretations that take place within an environment of massive social pressure and bullying. Everybody can see it. And see through your arm-waving efforts to deny it.

Remember, this isn't about science. It's about social pressure. Anybody who's gotten through high school knows bullying when they see it.

Your denial just makes them more suspicious of everything you say.

•       Scientists consider and weigh all the evidence: I doubt many non-scientists believe this. I don't. I've seen plenty of papers in plenty of fields where the authors mis-used their references, ignoring the clear thrust of the referred science.

Especially in paradigm conflicts (sensu Kuhn). Which we've got one in "Climate Science", but I've studied many others.

•       Arguments from the other side only look credible: You agree, then go on: "To help the public assess the credibility of claims and sources several groups are active."

At least some groups claiming this space engage in open bullying and deception. To the non-scientific public, this tars all of them with the brush of invalid persuasion (i.e. bullshit).

Scott Adams is an expert in persuasion, who correctly predicted the election outcome when all the "consensus experts" failed. He did so on the basis of persuasion, in context.

If he says the "consensus" position on "global warming"/"climate change" isn't persuasive, I'll take his word for it.

I'd recommend that you do so as well. Up to you.

Joshua said...

Victor -

Above, you say the following:

==> It is interesting how he expects that that kind of sloppy reasoning should have no effect on how people perceive you and apparently thinks that is how is should be. ==>

I think there is good reason to think that he knows that sloppy reasoning and poor sourcing (such as when he describes the "trajectory of any online climate change debate while leaving out key elements - the "hoax" part, the "the only produce research that shows risk from ACO2 because they're chasing the funding part, etc. - that we can find in almost any online climate change debate) will have no effect on people who write things like the following:


==> Scott Adams is an expert in persuasion, who correctly predicted the election outcome when all the "consensus experts" failed. ==>

Perhaps Scott really is a "expert in persuasion" at least for a subset of people who so easily fall into confirmation bias - such as we see with that statement of AK's? Maybe he just is good at targeting a certain audience for his persuasion, and doesn't particularly care about people who are not influenced by sloppy reasoning and poor sourcing?



AK said...

Joshua:

"[...] sloppy reasoning [...] sloppy reasoning [...]"

Persuasion isn't about "reasoning". It's about causing people to change their minds.

Of course, Joshua's efforts involve changing people's minds, or preventing them from being changed, by offering nit-picking BS.

And, also of course, there's nothing sloppy about the reasoning involved. Only about one particular listener (Joshua) who always pretends not to understand.

"Perhaps Scott really is a "expert in persuasion" at least for a subset of people who so easily fall into confirmation bias - such as we see with that statement of AK's?"

He didn't persuade me to believe that Trump would win. I didn't believe that (for sure) till the next morning.

But he did correctly predict the election where all the "consensus experts" failed.

Or are you prepared with a counterexample Joshua? One you could arguably defend as "consensus" in terms of the Hillary-tainted MSM?

And this is the point. If we examine Scott's "expertise" in persuasion in terms of his ability to predict the outcome of another "master persuader's" success, then he has credentials.

The fact that he made a prediction in advance can be examined in scientific terms: yes it's a single, one-off, prediction. But it's more than most "master persuaders" have.

Victor Venema said...

Art Kilner, I let your last comment through because you are likely not used to a more civil tone at Climate Etc. and Joshua also comments there and thus likely can stomach something. But I would like to have a more civil tone on this blog, if only because that helps in thinking straight and not to scare of normal people. (Will reply to the content on your comments later.)

...and Then There's Physics said...

AK's comment reminded me of something I saw on Twitter today

Everywhere I look I see confirmation bias. Just as I expected.

Victor Venema said...

AK: "Your points in order (I don't agree with Scott Adams that wanting point by point is always a tell for cognitive dissonance):"

I fail to see a connect. Sounds more like a ploy to avoid having to go into detail. If you are a person like Scott Adams who would like to justify his confirmation bias and unwillingness to use his intelligence by claiming that everyone has it at least as bad, you probably want to avoid real debate.

AK: "The terms Global warming and climate change are both used for decades: Your response may be true within science, but in the effort to communicate it to the public "global warming" was the big meme at first. ... Got to understand, the point here isn't about science, because we're talking about people who don't understand science well enough to judge. (I.e. not me.)"

The erroneous claim of Scott Adams was that the *theory* was adjusted (the theory is science, not its communication) and that the term "climate change" was used because models did not show *universal warming* (that is science and all models show that the Earth is warming and will keep on warming).

If you are an American Republican I can imagine that you perceived a change of the terms from "global warming" to "climate change". That was recommended by Frank Luntz to the Republicans:

"The US Republican party is changing tactics on the environment, avoiding "frightening" phrases such as global warming, after a confidential party memo warned that it is the domestic issue on which George Bush is most vulnerable.

The memo, by the leading Republican consultant Frank Luntz, concedes the party has "lost the environmental communications battle" and urges its politicians to encourage the public in the view that there is no scientific consensus on the dangers of greenhouse gases."

Victor Venema said...

AK: "Climate models are not essential for basic understanding: you say they're not necessary for the basics. Other scientists disagree. AFAIK the consensus is that without "feedbacks" the effect of fossil CO2 is too small to make a big difference this century."

CO2 by itself would have a climate sensitivity of 1°C per doubling of CO2. Together with water vapour you get a climate sensitivity of 2 to 3°C. See box 8.1 of the IPCC report: "Therefore, although CO2 is the main anthropogenic control knob on climate, water vapour is a strong and fast feedback that amplifies any initial forcing by a typical factor between two and three."

That part is basic physics, radiative transfer and the increase of water vapour with the temperature. Only then it gets complicated (at part of that complicated is the range of 2 to 3°C). I would be tempted to put the albedo feedback from melting ice and snow also in the physics department, but you would need a spatial model to compute it. A bit more complicated. Then you are in the range of 3°C per CO2 doubling found in past climates. Model tuning is part of that complicated, so let us skip that, details in the post I liked to in the post.

AK: "The consensus is a result of the evidence: Nope. The "consensus" is a result of interpretations of the evidence. Interpretations that take place within an environment of massive social pressure and bullying. Everybody can see it. And see through your arm-waving efforts to deny it."

So I experience no social pressure, Eric Steig experiences no social pressures. I have seen no social pressure in my surrounding, but people who are not in science are sure there is social pressure to do bad science as long as it conforms with old science or a world conspiracy.

There is naturally social pressure to do good work and to honestly communicate the results. I naturally see that the reputations of Curry, Soon and Pielke suffered under their behaviour. That was not because they provided strong evidence and thus contributed to science. On the contrary. I understand that for non-experts it is hard to see the difference. The more so the stronger your confirmation bias is. The more you are in the climate debate for political reasons rather than to contribute to science or the public understanding of science.

AK: "Scientists consider and weigh all the evidence: I doubt many non-scientists believe this. I don't."

Scientists as a group. Like in the sentence: Dutch people like cheese, while I do not, at least not rubbery Dutch cheese.

Naturally not all scientists do everything perfectly. Only the science of a group after some study has the quality people expect from science. Individual naturally differ. That is one reason why non-experts are well advised not to get their science from one of a few outlier scientists, whether it is Wadhams or Lindzen.

Your last point in bold would probably just result in mud slinging. Let me just say I disagree and that some of these sources have been attacked by mitigation sceptics because they do not like the services they provide to the public. This is called: Poisoning the well.

For an expert in persuasion, Scott Adams is pretty bad at persuasion. He might have the impression he is good because he is good with those people who are still willing to listen to him.

AK said...

Victor: I really doubt there's any point in pursuing this.

We're talking past each other. I could talk in scientific terms, but that would be a waste of time since: a) you don't consider me qualified and b) it would be tangential (at best) to what Scott Adams is discussing.

It seems clear to me that you're not understanding what he's saying in his blog post. Nor do you understand what he's trying to accomplish.

Obviously I could be wrong, but given your open inability to achieve any meeting of minds with him, I'd guess not.

In view of this, I suppose any effort to discuss the deception I see in your homogenization adjustments reduce global warming post would be equally futile.

I'll know better next time.

Joshua said...

AK -

==> Persuasion isn't about "reasoning". It's about causing people to change their minds. ==>

Right. So it isn't about confirming someone's biases. So in this case, we have Scott saying the following:

--snip--

If you have been involved in any climate change debates online or in person, you know they always take the following trajectory:…

--snip--

Which is followed with a description of a "trajectory" that leaves out key components that not only are often there, but there almost all of the time. Certainly, you can't accurately say that there aren't "any" online climate change debates that contain key elements that he didn't mention. So his "any" and "always" are shallow and wrong.

Now I doubt that many whose mind is not already made up about the trajectory of all online climate change debates would simply take his word about this at face value. Of those whose mind is already made up on the subject, no one who is actually open to a reasonable analysis would be convinced that his attempts at "persuasion" were accurate and thus change their minds. The only people that might simply accept his characterization are those whose mind is already made up (without basing their opinion in evidence), or those who aren't having their minds "changed" but simply taking whatever he might say as gospel.

So if you consider someone who would write such nonsense as a "master persuader," then do carry on. Knock yourself out. But I doubt that you would be able to persuade anyone (in other words, change the mind of someone) that someone who writes such nonsense is a "master persuader."

But further, that isn't the point anyway. The point I was making references back to Victor's question - which was about how someone could see believe that could openly display such sloppy reasoning (and poor sampling) and not think that it would affect how people see him/her. So I guess then as it turns out, that could be a question you could address?

Why don't you explain how you could see Adams display such sloppy reasoning (and poor sampling) and not have it affect how you see him?

RobH said...

That's a bit of a copout, AK.

Victor is clearly and directly addressing the issues at hand, both here and in his blog post above. What always surprises me is the incapacity for people to adjust their position when presented with sufficient argument and evidence.

Over the course of being actively involved in the climate change issue, over the past decade, I've frequently had to recheck myself and adjust my position to reflect the scientific evidence put before me. I've watched active scientists doing exactly the same. And in both directions; more warming/less warming. What I continually find is an inability to do the same coming from those who are predisposed to reject the science in the first place, such as you're doing here.

I'm hard pressed for a good explanation as to why this is the case.

AK said...

@RobH...

"Victor is clearly and directly addressing the issues at hand, both here and in his blog post above."

IMO he isn't. He's taking things said in one language, framing them into another language, then addressing the nonsense that results. That's tantamount to a straw man.*

I've been asked to avoid the sort of clear language I usually use in discussing such behavior, and I'll do my best to be tactful. But the consistent refusal to even consider the fact that he's using such a straw man approach seems to me to justify Scott Adam's reference to cognitive dissonance. (Of course, AFAIK Scott didn't actually enter this blog for the discussion. Perhaps because he knew better than I did what a waste of time it would be.)

I've made the point repeatedly, and it's been ignored repeatedly.

Denial: it ain't just a river in Egypt.

*I remember a (fictional) description of the behavior of Spanish clerics towards the literature of the New World civilizations:

"Which symbol is "A"? Which symbol is "B"?" Then they put it all to the torch.

RobH said...

AK... I would suggest that's a nonsensical response. We're all speaking English here. There are not two languages here, lest Adams is framing in indecipherable metaphors.

The scientific facts are facts. If you and Adams don't grasp these fundamental physical realities, that's not the fault of scientists. That's not scientists setting up straw men or engaging in cognitive dissonance. It's scientists presenting facts that are challenging for certain segments of society to process. What I see going on is a clear avoidance of the physical realities we face with climate change. And rather than attempt to even try to understand the science, you guys are wrapping yourself in a cocoon of rhetoric to avoid these facts. That is exactly what cognitive dissonance is.

citizenschallenge said...

To objection one - it's an example of science by rhetoric, rather than focusing on the facts.
Distraction and slight of phrasing to draw the discussion away from where it needs to go.

As for this claim based on GW v CC - why can't that be short-circuited by the observation that Human produced Greenhouse Gases increases Earth's insulation - increased insulation causes global warming - global warming drives climate change." Simple, direct and absolutely accurate.
Perhaps even has the making of a catchy chant, add a melody, who knows.

It's about the Atmospheric insulation and all that.

As for the claim - “It doesn't warm everywhere equally.”
What a cynical and completely childish dodge.

Why would any sensible person consider our planet and expect or imagine this spinning complex of water, land, ice, atmosphere constantly churning and interacting with each other would warm uniformly?
It makes no sense. Why create such contrived fictions? Unless it’s a preconceived malicious plan with intent on misleading?

The problem is that most people have absolutely no connection with our physical Earth anymore. Even less have any sort of deeper understanding and appreciation of the fantastic process of evolution unfolding one day at a time for the past four and half billion years, here on Earth.

All this stuff equals our Environment - the thing Republicans have been allowed to turn into a curse word. Yet, and yet, it's our "environments that supply our life support systems and all we hold near and dear. Why is all that treated so shabbily by faith-based profits-driven Republicans leaders and rank'n file.

http://whatsupwiththatwatts.blogspot.com/p/understanding-earth.html

citizenschallenge said...

Jeff said: The response however, is basic human nature. If the world is really on the verge of catastrophic and irreparable destruction,...

Additionally, we've been bombarded with preposterous headlines and dire warnings for my entire adult life, none of which seem to have come to fruition (they may yet, obviously)"

_____________
I wonder Jeff, when's the last time you got up to date on what's happening to our oceans and glaciers and polar regions. (check out "UCTV Perspectives on Ocean Science" - a fantastic lecture series from the Birch Aquarium) Are you at all familiar with the havoc being caused by sea level rise and permafrost melting. Biodiversity, habitat loss, fertilizer driven ocean anoxic zones, and on and on.

I'm 61, been attentively watching our world over my years, the loss and destruction is unfathomable, if you have the fortitude to look at it. If you ignore, sure, easy enough not to see, if you are lucky enough to be among the lucky ones, so far insulated from the creeping cancer out there.

citizenschallenge said...


@RobH..."Victor is clearly and directly addressing the issues at hand, both here and in his blog post above."

Blogger AK said... IMO he isn't. He's taking things said in one language, framing them into another language, then addressing the nonsense that results. That's tantamount to a straw man.*
____________________________

You are quite the hoot AK, plus you repeat yourself, although that wasn't really that cute or original a line. Besides, reviewing your first comment - all but your first item, most certainly do depend on a sober understanding, or at least appreciation of the scientific process.

Don't tell me you advocate fairytale fringe of people who believe any lie they are handed?
After all your man Trump has shown us that a serial liar can be accepted by the masses. I'd suggest that tell us more about human failings, than it can about understanding what we are doing to our one and only planet.

A good deal of your own verbiage tend towards slanderous accusations about scientists, be it character intent. You bring no evidence, simply self-certain insinuations.

Back to your point about Dilbert, excuse me Adams, you AK are correct, it was not about the science. It was about how to craftily miscommunicate science and with vague insinuations dismiss the validity of a huge global community of experts. It was all about how to toss up a smoke screen to obscure serious constructive learning and understanding. It Trump come to prime time.

It's astounding and horrifying.

AK said...

My first thought was that this is a total waste of time. But perhaps not. I doubt I'll be able to get through to anyone here, but the experience may be useful in the future.

I'm going to address a few arguments from @RobH in this comment, then another for @citizenschallenge. These were originally all in one, as both commenters have the same wrong idea(s)... (but Blogger wouldn't let me.)

RobH: "AK... I would suggest that's a nonsensical response. We're all speaking English here."

This is your first error. Whether using Latin, English, or Chinese words (or any other language) scientists are not speaking the vernacular (usually). They are speaking science. Where words have a specific meaning (or several where it's clear from context which meaning is used). And when strung together, the strings also have precise meanings.

Most people don't use words/language that way. Some can "switch frames" when they know they're hearing science, others, like you, don't understand the difference.

I had thought that, because I understand science, including the science involved in AGW, that I might be able to get through. Now I'm doubtful. While I'm speaking scientifically here (or trying to), what I'm talking about is the language of Scott Adams and those he represents and is speaking to.

RobH: "There are not two languages here, lest Adams is framing in indecipherable metaphors."

All language is metaphor. Adams is using different metaphors than the language of science that you're trying to speak here.

RobH: "The scientific facts are facts. If you and Adams don't grasp these fundamental physical realities, that's not the fault of scientists."

A clear tell for cognitive dissonance (IMO): you're trying to make this about me rather than you. Scott wasn't talking about facts. He was talking about credibility.

You respond to his clear refusal to grant your arguments credibility by making more of them. This is pointless. You need to back up and look at it from his POV: your arguments are no more credible than those of your opponents.

AK said...

@citizenschallenge

citizenschallenge: "Blogger AK said... IMO he isn't. He's taking things said in one language, framing them into another language, then addressing the nonsense that results. That's tantamount to a straw man.*"

citizenschallenge: "You are quite the hoot AK, plus you repeat yourself, although that wasn't really that cute or original a line."

That "quite the hoot" is a clear tell for cognitive dissonance. People laughed at Trump. https://youtu.be/grD_IINiH9c?t=11 Are you still laughing?

If you can't overcome your cognitive dissonance, you're hosed. I'm not the master persuader Scott Adams is, I doubt I have the skill to help you.

citizenschallenge: "Don't tell me you advocate fairytale fringe of people who believe any lie they are handed?"

They vote.

Almost 50% of the US populations still believes in Biblical Creation. Calling them idiots isn't going to change them.

citizenschallenge: "After all your man Trump has shown us that a serial liar can be accepted by the masses. I'd suggest that tell us more about human failings, [...]"

You see, you're imposing your own preconceptions on it. As Scott says, in evolutionary terms they aren't failings. Nor is Trump a serial liar. He simply communicates with different metaphors than you're used to.

Trump and the voters who listen to him aren't speaking the same language you are. That's a fact. Refusing to accept that fact is cognitive dissonance. I.e. denial.

citizenschallenge: "A good deal of your own verbiage tend towards slanderous accusations about scientists, be it character intent. You bring no evidence, simply self-certain insinuations."

No, I was trying to frame it from "Scott's point of view (POV) here, not my own." As I said above.

citizenschallenge: "Back to your point about Dilbert, excuse me Adams, you AK are correct, it was not about the science. It was about how to craftily miscommunicate [...]. It Trump come to prime time."

Yes, and it's ALL YOUR FAULT! You and everybody else who simply assumed that because you thought you understood the science, you could ignore the great mass of voters who didn't. And don't. Most of them don't even understand the language.

But you need to check your conspiracy theories at the door. This wasn't about "craftily miscommunicate[d]" science. It was about the perceptions of the voters who have been miscommunicated to. And much of it was earnestly sincere, even if wrong.

citizenschallenge: "It's astounding and horrifying."

Yup. To you.

But having gotten over my gloating (mostly) I'm trying to show you that it isn't really nearly as horrifying as you seem to think. If you take what he said and shoehorn it into your "scientific" language, it's horrifying.

If you choose (if possible) to give up your denial over different languages, and learn the frames he's using, IMO you'll discover it's not that bad.

He's not going to let you impose a socialist bureaucratic world government on the US in the name of "climate". But IMO the problem with fossil CO2 (not climate) is much closer to solution than you think, and can be approached in ways that both Mr. Trump and the voters who chose him will be down with.

RobH said...

It's hard to tell but it seems to me that Adams values "persuasion" over truth. In that seems to be the connection to Trump. Powers of persuasion are incredibly important and valuable, but they can also be dangerous and destructive when based in lies. And I think that's what we see with Trump. And, interestingly enough, I think that's exactly what Adams was doing with his climate related piece. He's clearly uninformed about the science but can't process that would be possible. His ego won't allow him to accept his ignorance and thus he steamrolls it with his powers of persuasion.

He and AK are blissfully unaware of how they've succumbed to the cognitive dissonance they accuse others of.

In all of this, do you think either one of them has taken the time to look up and read even one research paper or even one good science news article on any of these topics. I highly doubt it because that would involve facing the dissonance.

It's both fascinating and horrifying to watch this taking place in so many. When climate change becomes more obvious it's going to be a very very rude awakening for a lot of people.

RobH said...

AK said... "Nor is Trump a serial liar. He simply communicates with different metaphors than you're used to."

I'm sorry, AK. But this is absolute crap. You're speaking as if you can talk your way into alternate realities. The real world doesn't work like that. Fact are facts. Reality is reality. Metaphors describe reality and fact, they don't change them.

I'll ask you direct here: Through this whole conversation, have you bothered to look up any reliable information on the scientific topics that Adams touched on and Victor responded to?

Yes or no?

RobH said...

Here's how I read AK last post.

He wants us to ignore scientific reality.
Instead he wants us to craft a persuasive metaphor that is an acceptable lie that the voting public will accept.

In other words, find a clever way to lie to get what you want. No scientific facts are needed. Just make up your own reality. What validates it is people's willingness to accept the fiction.

Do you not see the insanity of that?

It becomes painfully apparent where all this comes from when AK repeats the whole "one-world government" lie. Will AK bother to actually read the terms of the Paris Agreement that shows nothing of the sort. I don't think so. Information is reality. AK is looking for language framed outside of reality. Reading and comprehending information is hard. Listening to a persuasive person with a palatable lie is much easier.

AK said...

@RobH...

RobH: "It's hard to tell but it seems to me that Adams values "persuasion" over truth."

DING! DING! DING! Right!

Did you happen to notice who just got elected President?

RobH: "In that seems to be the connection to Trump."

Scott Adams considers Mr. Trump a "master persuader", primarily because of similarities he sees between them.

He publicly predicted Trump actions based on how he would have handled things. Those predictions, generally, were accurate. Not in some specifics necessarily, but after the fact most readers saw a valid prediction.

RobH: "Powers of persuasion are incredibly important and valuable, but they can also be dangerous and destructive when based in lies."

Yes. But what if they're not lies? What if you just think they're lies?

RobH: "He's clearly uninformed about the science but can't process that would be possible. His ego won't allow him to accept his ignorance and thus he steamrolls it with his powers of persuasion."

Nope.

You're hallucinating. Something Adams himself actually predicts in serious cases of cognitive dissonance.

He fully recognizes his "ignorance", but he also recognizes that there's nobody credible to help him with it. What you refuse to see is that you, and people like you, aren't credible to him

RobH: "He and AK are blissfully unaware of how they've succumbed to the cognitive dissonance they accuse others of."

This is what I meant by a waste of time. You blind yourself to your own cognitive dissonance by accusing anybody who tells you about it of the same problem.

RobH: "I'll ask you direct here: Through this whole conversation, have you bothered to look up any reliable information on the scientific topics that Adams touched on and Victor responded to?"
Why should I do that? If I need something I don't already know, then I'll look it up. But AFAIK there were no "scientific topics" involved. Just the perceptions of people who don't know enough about the science to judge.

The point is that there are real scientists who question the whole "global warming" trope. A lot more than the 2-3% implied by the fake science around the "consensus". (And yes, I've studied those papers when they came out.)

The fact that the majority buys into (or pretends to) the "consensus" position doesn't make it right. The history of science has a long string of such cases: phlogiston, wave/particle, Newtonian physics, plate tectonics (or what it replaced), and so on.

There are plenty of scientists who have questioned the current paradigm. People like Scott Adams can't judge between the contrarians and the consensus. So they look at the social issues.

And what anybody sees when they do that is that the behavior of the "consensus", both (some) scientists and the fringe of science fans around them, is one more suited to defending an obsolete paradigm.

Or perhaps a paradigm that was manufactured through social pressure rather than science in the first place. (There are real, highly qualified scientists who have made this claim.)

Lars Karlsson said...

AK: "Nor is Trump a serial liar. He simply communicates with different metaphors than you're used to."

Here are some more 'metaphors' for AK: War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

AK said...

@RobH...

"Here's how I read AK last post."

Well, you've done a good job of distorting it to avoid seeing what I was actually trying to say. Hardly a surprise.

"He wants us to ignore scientific reality."

Not really. By now, anybody with an open mind can see which of us is in denial. So I don't really "want" you (your "us") to do anything.

If you have any interest in fixing your cognitive dissonance problem, I'd guess starting by putting aside your "scientific reality" might help. Then trying to take the perspective of somebody like Scott Adams, who doesn't know enough to judge between you and your opponents.

"Instead he wants us to craft a persuasive metaphor that is an acceptable lie that the voting public will accept."

"In other words, find a clever way to lie to get what you want. No scientific facts are needed. Just make up your own reality. What validates it is people's willingness to accept the fiction.
"

That's what many people think you and people like you have already done. Screaming "IT'S THE TRUTH" probably won't help make your case.

"It becomes painfully apparent where all this comes from when AK repeats the whole "one-world government" lie."

Many people think that the real lie is when you deny that " socialist bureaucratic world government" is the ultimate object. People in high positions have as much as admitted that it is the object. That's a fact.

Denying this fact is simply cognitive dissonance. Whether the people who think that are correct, that's what they think.

Victor Venema said...

Maybe it is about time to agree to disagree if we start with one-world government conspiracy theories. This is a science blog. "People in high positions" have admitted that if you dumb your trash in your neighbours garden you have an obligation to clean it up. I am not in denial that 10% of the population are social Darwinists who think that dumping your trash in your neighbours garden is fine as demonstration that you are more powerful than your neighbour.

It is not really consistent to reject talking about science and then claim that many scientists agree with you. But then in a world where persuasion is valued above being consistent, you can argue that when someone was stupid enough to be persuaded it was thus a fine argument.

Theoretically the nice thing about science is that people from different persuasions can use it to agree on the nature of reality. It is sad that a group of people who will be in power in the USA do not believe in this. The age of enlightenment is historically young, before that persuasion was done with the sword. Those times can naturally return (regionally). It would be a pity for civilization (in those regions).

RobH said...

This whole conversation is incredibly disturbing. This has essentially been a defense of persuasion over reality. It's exactly this sort of construct that allows people to commit heinous acts against others. It's what makes people come to believe that people of other races or religions are less than ourselves.

This is exactly my fear for my nation today, that we have put into the White House a man that cannot distinguish what is morally right from his desire to rule. That's the definition of tyranny: "cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control."

I'd like to remind AK that, in spite of his "powers of persuasion" Donald Trump lost the popular vote by 2.7 million votes. That's a number larger than any previous president has won an election by.

AK said...

@RobH...

"This whole conversation is incredibly disturbing."

Good.

"This has essentially been a defense of persuasion over reality."

Not exactly. The point I've been trying to make is that perceptions are reality. Very important reality. Whatever the person perceives as true may or not be true, but the perception itself, the fact that the person has this perception, is true.

"It's exactly this sort of construct that allows people to commit heinous acts against others. It's what makes people come to believe that people of other races or religions are less than ourselves."

There was a time when the "consensus" science of the day not only recognized different races, but routinely considered the "white" race superior. That "science" led to such horrors as the "eugenics" movements. Even in the US. (Will we now see a game of "shoot the messenger"?)

"This is exactly my fear for my nation today, that we have put into the White House a man that cannot distinguish what is morally right from his desire to rule."

Well, perhaps if you were a little more skeptical towards the nonsense the mainstream media pumps out?

"I'd like to remind AK that, in spite of his "powers of persuasion" Donald Trump lost the popular vote by 2.7 million votes."

I doubt our host wants a prolonged discussion of electoral politics, strategies, and tactics. But I must mention that the ability to make a statement like that seriously demonstrates a distinct lack of critical thinking.

RobH said...

I'm done AK. You've more than amply demonstrated all of my points.

Thank you.

Victor Venema said...

Agree, but maybe two links for the innocent readers.

Wikipedia: Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of psychological abuse in which a victim is manipulated into doubting their own memory, perception, and sanity.[1][2] Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

New York Review of Book: Autocracy: Rules for Survival

Anonymous said...

Will we now see a game of 'shoot the messenger'?

Joshua said...

For those who haven't seen AK's comments over at Climate Etc., you should know that he has posted many comments there to explain how he knows more about espionage in the US than the US intelligence agencies (e.g., that the intelligence agencies are lying or just wrong in their assertions about Russia's involvement in the leaks prior to the election), about how he knows the motivations of Comey (he's in the tank, doncha know), about his insight into the corruption and bias of all sorts of institutions of government (all of which explain why anything he doesn't agree with is a product of others' bias and corruption), etc.

You might consider all of that as you evaluate the pearls of wisdom he's tried to gift to you in his comments here.

Joshua said...

I might also add that he likes to accuse people of being a "Social Justice Warrior".... kind of like that Alt-right. Although I'm sure that's just a coincidence. (wink, wink).

Jörg Zimmermann said...

This blog posting about Scott Adams is well written and answers the salient points. However, it is not efficient. Actually, the point of Scott Adams is: The default should be to trust the majority of scientists. In case of climate change it is approximately a 97%-majority, that is as good as it can be.
The next point of Scott Adams is, when, for whatever reason, you don't like, what the scientists say, find some assertions, which help you to discard inconvenient expert opinion. But this can't ever work: If even the experts are wrong, then we are all in trouble, because there is no way to be more clever than the majority of scientists. There is no way for a non-expert to tell, if the majority of scientists is right or wrong, thus you have to stick to the expert opinion anyway. It could be wrong sometimes. But it is extremely more likely that the non-experts opinion is wrong.

Mal Adapted said...

I don't know if Art Kilner is still reading these comments, and if he is I'm pretty sure he'll dismiss mine the way he has all the others. I actually think he's got some valid points, as long as he is talking about public perception of climate science. However, he exposes his rhetorical weakness when he claims to understand the science itself:

"Got to understand, the point here isn't about science, because we're talking about people who don't understand science well enough to judge. (I.e. not me.)"
...
"I had thought that, because I understand science, including the science involved in AGW, that I might be able to get through. Now I'm doubtful. While I'm speaking scientifically here (or trying to), what I'm talking about is the language of Scott Adams and those he represents and is speaking to."

While I agree with some of what he says about Scott Adams's blog post, I've seen no evidence that AK's scientific judgment is any better than Donald Trump's. So far, his understanding of the scientific case for AGW seems to come solely from AGW-denier blogs. He clearly over-estimates his scientific meta-literacy, displaying an inability to distinguish genuine from fake expertise.

Aside from his truculent insistence that he's smarter than everyone else and anyone who thinks he's mistaken is fooling themselves, what come through in his comments is a deep hostility toward climate scientists, and an unshakable conviction that the consensus they've reached for AGW can't be a result of looking at the evidence and coming to a common conclusion:

"Regular people can understand, and be suspicious of motivations. They/we can also see through the arm-waving by the "consensus" crowd."
...
" The "consensus" is a result of interpretations of the evidence. Interpretations that take place within an environment of massive social pressure and bullying. Everybody can see it. And see through your arm-waving efforts to deny it.."
...
"The point is that there are real scientists who question the whole "global warming" trope. A lot more than the 2-3% implied by the fake science around the "consensus". (And yes, I've studied those papers when they came out.)"

...and so forth. He repeatedly accuses other commenters of "cognitive dissonance", but reveals his underlying cognitive bias unmistakably:

"[Trump]'s not going to let you impose a socialist bureaucratic world government on the US in the name of "climate".

Ah, so that's it. The 40-year upward trend in GMST has nothing to do with the 3-5 petatonnes of fossil carbon humans have removed from geologic sequestion and returned to the atmosphere since 1698. The lopsided consensus of working climate scientists for AGW can only be a hoax, with the goal of imposing a socialist bureaucratic world government. The plot was hatched at least two centuries ago, enlisting Fourier, Tyndall, Arrhenius and thousands of other scientists illustrious and obscure from around the world, and has remained covert through today. It's not about science at all, it's about culture war.

Phhtt! AK is just a poor guy with a crowd of librul monsters under his bed.

Lars Karlsson said...

Adams is suffering from massive cognitive dissonance: "The Time That Reality Forked Right in Front of You."