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Climate Hustle

Chasing Pielke's Goodyear Blimp

Posted on 19 September 2011 by John Cook

Roy Spencer and John Christy have on a number of occasions misinformed the public and even US Congress about climate science. Skeptical Science (SkS) has begun documenting their misinformation (not finished yet, it's a big job). As SkS is solely about the science, we haven't critiqued their political views but examined their science. And as SkS doesn't allow ad hominem attacks, we haven't attacked them personally, but restricted our focus to their misinforming statements. Our resources on Spencer and Christy are part of a larger resource that documents quotes and articles from a number of misinformers as well as rebuttals of their misleading statements.

Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. has observed our resource on misinformers and taken offense. It's not our scientific arguments that bother him. He doesn't flinch at the sight of Christy delivering demonstrably false statements under oath to Congress that contradict the peer-reviewed science, the laws of physics, and even his fellow "skeptics" (such as his hot spot statement). Pielke has taken umbrage at the use of the titles "Christy Crocks" and "Spencer Slip-ups". After registering his displeasure, Pielke then engaged in a lengthy defence of the UAH satellite data that Spencer and Christy were involved in.

Reading his post brings to mind a scene from the movie Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. As wild west cowboys converge on them, Bill and Ted distract their approaching adversaries by pointing off in the distance and exclaiming "look, it's the Goodyear Blimp!". In this case, Pielke's blimp is a lengthy exposition about UAH data which had nothing to do with our critiques of Spencer and Christy's misinformation.

After some back and forth, Pielke finally managed to respond to specific examples such as Christy's misleading testimony to Congress:

"I am not aware of John stating that the predictions of global cooling in the 1970s were the same as predictions today. The models were much more primitive than, so clearly they are not the same predictions, and I am certain John knows that. However, this issue is not particularly relevant (when raised by anyone) to the current important climate science questions."

Curiously, this is in direct contrast to Christy's own words where he cites the similarity from 1970s climate science to current science as an argument to cast doubt on today's understanding of the climate system. Having brushed off Christy's misinformation, Pielke once again cries "Goodyear Blimp!" with a series of unrelated questions, on topics he is much more comfortable discussing.

So we observe repeated instances where Pielke is unable to acknowledge Spencer and Christy's misinformation, and trying to move the discussion to more comfortable waters. Confronted with the misinformation of his colleagues, Pielke turns a blind eye and instead laser focuses on the Goodyear Blimp of UAH satellite data. When confronted with specific examples, he brushes them off and completely changes the subject.

Personally, I find the crocks themselves significantly more offensive than the use of the word "crocks". But as to the question of whether Skeptical Science will change the titles "Christy Crocks" and "Spencer Slip-ups", I have no emotional attachment to the titles themselves and am happy to change them if they bother people. Suggested alternatives are welcome. The only requirement is they capture the fact that Spencer and Christy are misleading the public about climate science. So a title like "Spencer's Promotion of Misinformation to the Public about Climate Change" fits perfectly, although it doesn't roll off the tongue quite so nicely. And "Christy's Demonstrably False Statements to Congress While Under Oath" captures exactly what the series covers, but good luck making that readable in an 88-pixel button!

Nevertheless, SkS does intend to chase after Pielke's blimp. The questions he raises about framing and diagnostics are interesting questions worthy of discussion, and we're more than happy to delve into them. In the meantime, we will continue to document quotes and articles from various misinformers and add them to our misinformers resource. Our goal is to make the science more accessible and easier to find by grouping it by Misinformer as well as by topic. Of course, as observed in our exchange with Pielke, the information won't be found by those who have no motivation to find it.

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 108:

  1. As a lurker and admirer of this site I am pleased to suggest "Spencer Spoofs" and "Christy Chimeras"

    ...although more picaresque phrases could doubtless be applied, most breaching the ad hominem directive!
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  2. Very nice summary of what's been a rather interesting exchange over the past few days. It's amazing how thin-skinned some skeptics are to scientific criticism. As I said on the other thread, calling Spencer and Christy's misinformation 'slip-ups' and 'crocks' is actually being kind to them. 'Slip-ups' in particular are usually accidental.
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  3. It's a pity the course of rebuttals went the way they did. Pielke Sr. effectively thumbed his nose at the real need - accurate testimony on record with the US Congress.

    Maybe after collaborating on six publications together, Pielke is more than ready to go to bat for a colleague. A loyalty priority makes sense of the slippery responses.

    Alternatively, there may be a practical reason for some of his arguments about the UAH data at this juncture. It's the anniversary of a collaboration paper "What Do Observational Datasets Say about Modeled Tropospheric Temperature Trends since 1979?" (Remote Sensing, Sept 2010)

    Maybe it was challenged in SkSc, he meant to vent then, and post-dated his day-planner wrong. Natural variability.

    Leave him to wallow in a devotion to the 'scientific robust' world of WUWT. He does seems attracted to the word 'robust':
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  4. To sum-up, the introduction in the converstaion of :
    - the UAH satellite data
    - the ad hominem fallacy fallacy about the misinformers button names

    is the usual red herring fallacy.

    Denialism is worse than one-sided skepticism : it is not scientific skepticism at all.
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  5. The titles Christy Crocks and Spencer Slip Ups are apt, to the point and accurately signify the content.

    I see no need to change them at all.

    They are also in keeping with this site, which is to cast a sceptical eye over the 'claims' of 'skeptics'.

    Keep up the good work.
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  6. sout, I agree. The button titles are a good pointer to the content. There are plenty of people who check out here to follow up on something they've heard or read elsewhere that somebody-or-other has said ...... For a more frequent or egregious misinformer, there's probably a designated button.

    There's another site with 'crock' rather than slip up in its title. I've not seen any huffing and puffing about that one.
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  7. 'Crocks' are well known by now, associated with Peter Sinclair and his Climate Denial Crock of the Week

    So Christy Crocks is good

    To Spencer, how about the catchy 'Spencer Spam'? I associate spam with Monty Python, but it also means something like 'really annoying blanket advertising (in public places), with little value'
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  8. Sorry, bad joke

    Seriously, there is the alternative of just labeling the buttons 'Roy Spencer', etc. That also widens the expectations of the content therein.
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  9. The titles are just fine. They are not ad hominems, describing a bad argument as a bad argument is not 'argumentum ad hominem' it is an observation on the value of the argument itself not an attribute of the arguer. 'Crocks' and 'slip-ups' are just colloquial synonyms for bad argument.
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  10. I personally don't care for the term "crocks" in such a title, associated with someone's name. Just seems kinda crude.

    But "slip-ups?" If that is inaccurate, it seems to me to be so only by being overly kind. Intentional misrepresentation and arguments in bad faith are not slip-ups.
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  11. I could go with "Christy's Mythtakes", "Christy's Mythsteries", "Christy's Myth-series", or something like that.
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  12. I thought my comment made it clear. Words do not have specific meanings, it is the reader that polarises the meaning, which is due to environmental and cultural inputs that reader has had. I am not offended by Crocks because I have never lived in an environment where it has been used offensively, at least until now.
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  13. Christy & Spencer will still be skeptics and deniers when waves are lapping at the steps of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, and the Polar ice cap is gone in late August. They are hopeless cases.

    The extra 3/4 of a watt of energy with its subsequent warming is causing havoc globally with extreme precipitation Events- and this is in every Geographic region.

    The energy from that 0.8 degrees C rise in global tempertures since 1800 is doing its work as climate scientists have long predicted. Though Chrisy and Spencer deny the existence of that extra energy.

    Dr. Pielke cannot remain blind TO THE Observed data forever, can he?
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  14. I have to agree with Dikrans moderation@22.
    SkS seems to be about the arguements and discussions that groups and individuals put forward. Monckton Myths doesn't imply that Monckton IS a myth or a number of myths.

    Given the series is about the discussions, a person would have to deliberately ignore the other titles in order to read malice in the Christy one. Which implies a deliberate attempt to cherry pick.

    Actually, cherry picking seems to be a long running theme in all 'skeptical' thinking.
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  15. Then there's this perspective:

    There are nearly seven billion people on the planet.

    Someone, somewhere, sometime, is going to say something that offends you.

    Get over it.

    If you don't, you're going to spend a lot of your time being angry and/or miserable. Sometimes, people might intend to offend you, but a lot of the time they wont - it's just that your language and their language, while being nearly the same, are not.

    To me, personally, the use of "crocks" is not ad hominem, because, as others have said, it's a criticism of the statements, not the person. It's forceful criticism, true, and the mere fact that one can draw up a lengthy list of demonstrably incorrect statements by a person is a pretty strong negative statement about the person, but that's easily offset by providing counter-examples, where the person in question has made correct and/or insightful statements on the same topic.

    The failure of 'sceptics' to do so, is also rather telling, IMHO.

    This is the point where someone sets out a phenomenally long list of all the incorrect statements I've made over the years... and there are certainly enough! :-D
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    [DB] This illustrates your point quite well:


  16. Political, off-topic or ad hominem comments will be deleted

    There goes my suggestions.
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  17. Tone is always difficult, but I feel those on the side of science should always aim for a neutral tone, and so I do think it is a good idea to reduce any risk of accusations of ad hominem.

    This topic's title itself isn't helpful, and will annoy Dr. Pielke and those sympathetic to his opinions.

    If the evidence (or best theoretical explanation of that evidence) disagrees with what Mockton, or Spencer, or Christy etc are saying certainly highlight this. But there is something a bit juvenille, and definitely antagonistic with the sorts of titles SkS is using.

    Surely we want someone like Dr. Pielke to engage with, and respect what, SkS is saying.

    I don't have any good suggestions, but I think it is worthwhile separating the political statements, from working science.

    Science is difficult and people do make mistakes.

    Maybe the best way is to explicitly state that a statement has passed beyond science and into the realm of lobbying/politics with all the loss of integrity that invovles.

    Spencer's recent papers are science, and should be critiqued as science.

    His comments about jogging, or Christy's statements about Global Cooling in the 1970s have been contradicted by the evidence and should be addressed in a different part of the SkS site which makes it clear they are addressing the use of erroneous data for political advantage.

    There are areas of legitimate debate about the evidence, but as well as doing that SkS does need to highlight when deniers are saying things which have been contradicted by the evidence. Spencer, Christy et al do seem to be doing that and highlighting that fact with as few opportunities for distraction is important.

    I do feel the titles do risk becoming a distraction, so would agree with them being toned down.
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  18. SkS would do well to tether Pielke's Goodyear blimp rather than chase after it.

    This entire brouhaha is virtually irrelevant to what's happening in the real world.

    In this context, let's quit this childish game of "Button, button, who's got the politically correct button."
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  19. Overall I don’t object to the button labels used by SkS but the "Christy Crocks" one does bother me a bit when associated with a single person’s name, though I understand it’s really intended to refer to the person’s statements.

    Looking up “crock” alone in the dictionary provides only one meaning: an earthenware pot, jar, or other container. It’s only when one looks up “crock of $^@!” that one comes up what the slang meaning surely intended here: a mass of lies and deception worth no more than dung. This seems unnecessarily crude for a serious science site, as accurate as it may be.

    How about "Christy Chicanery" instead? (trickery or deception by quibbling or sophistry)
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  20. I find the badges very useful, because sometimes I can't remember precisely which article I'm looking for but I remember which badge it had. However, the actual content of the badge is irrelevant to me. I'd be equally happy with a badge containing just the name and some distinctive colouring or imagery.

    e.g. for Monckton a stylised portcullis, for Lindzen an iris, for Spencer maybe a satellite, for Christy maybe some kind of congressional badge. The other badges already do this rather well.
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  21. Kevin C @ 20, I think that is an excellent idea, memorable without leaving an opening for "tone trolling". It would be much more productive (for both "sides") if the only avenue available to the skeptics would be to challenge the content of these series of posts (which they have singularly failed to do, despite having been explicitly encouraged to do so).
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  22. I also like the idea of more evocative pix on the buttons, I don't think the buttons' names are ad-Homs but the word crocks does make me wince a little...fwiw.
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  23. I would point out that from an accessibility POV having links that are only graphics makes it harder for some people to navigate the site. None of the badges/buttons have alternative texts.

    "1.1.1 Non-text Content: All non-text content that is presented to the user has a text alternative that serves the equivalent purpose... (Level A)"
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  24. If names are still to be used, I'd like Christy's Curious Claims if it fits...
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  25. I agree with Kevin C and DK. Use names.

    Peter Sinclear though, should not change his use of 'Crocks'. Very revealing (and entertaining) that series of videos.

    One prediction though:
    These skeptics cannot be forced. Even if there is only one avenue available, the explicit encouragement will not be interpreted as anthropogenic. At least not as an avenue. Or a forcing. Maybe it’s a feedback? I mean, clouded minds and all.

    (Sorry, bad joke again).
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  26. If people are uncomfortable with crocks, perhaps "Christys concoctions?"
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  27. I have often remarked in my own blog that a sound knowledge of how language works in the real world is a very useful tool in any scientific discipline.
    That said, I am delighted to see the comments here which demonstrate a depth of linguistic knowledge which many deniers seem to lack.

    Re: 'crock'.
    Here in the UK, a 'crock' is a very old car. We celebrate the repeal of the red flag law with our annual London to Brighton Rally, affectionately known as 'The Old Crocks Race'. The race - actually a rally - was celebrated in the excellent movie 'Genevieve'.

    In that context, a crock has these characteristics:

    it has historic value but is of no practical use;
    it is brought out once in a while purely for show;
    it not entirely original;
    it tends to run out of steam when faced with the slightest obstacle.

    Just as the proverbial 'Rolls Canardly' rolls down one hill but can 'ardly get up the next, so the denier arguments fare badly when faced with the uphill struggle against real science.

    Maybe the Christy button should show an image of Genevieve ?
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  28. The comparison has been made to Anthony Watts having a post on his site called "Al Gore is an Idiot" relative to an absurd statement he made about the core of the earth being millions of degrees, but that is a completely incorrect comparison. That is clearly an ad hom, an attack on the person rather than the misinformation. When SkS is creating these title's the attack is on the "myth" or the "crock" not on the perpetrator.

    I'm sure both Spencer and Christy have done lots of good science in their careers. I'm sure they are both intelligent, hard working scientists. However when they step outside of good science and start propagating misinformation the way each of these people have done, then they leave themselves open to having that misinformation called out for what it is.

    No one is saying that Christy, himself, is a crock. SkS is saying the misinformation is a crock and needs to be called out. Anthony Watts was just flat out calling Al Gore an idiot.
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  29. The deniers should not be allowed to set the standards for Skeptical Science. The current labels correctly describe the content of the posts. Dr. Pielke has demonstrated that what Spencer and Christy say is not defensible.
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  30. The only change I would make to the titles is to adjust them to add an apostrophe S to each one to further clarify that the subject is the "crock" that is being propagated by that person.

    Christy's Crocks and Spencer's Slip-ups.

    And to add to all this, Dr Pielke has yet to address the question of misinformation being given to to Congress under oath by Dr Christy.
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  31. New paper in Nature Climate Change by Meehl et al. (2011). I am citing this paper, because it is exposes yet again the games (i.e., wanting us to focus on the blimp) being played by Pielke and Watts and those in denial about the theory of AGW.

    Meehl et al. (2011) know that a brief slowdown or hiatus does not refute the models (yes they are not perfect, never will be, but scientists around the world are working hard to make them even better) or the theory of AGW, because it is a time to extract statistically insignificant trend-- research has shown that one requires at least 17 years or so of data to calculate statistically significant trends (e.g., Santer et al. (2011), Hamlington et al. (2011)); the extract time depends on the nature of data under consideration. So anyone who says there has been no warming (or accumulation in OHC) since 2003 or 1998 is cherry-picking and abusing statistics.

    In contrast, and being scientists of genuine curiosity to improve our understanding and advance the science, Meehl et al. make the effort to undertake some meaningful research as to what is perhaps going on during such episodes. They are not the only ones, Katsman and Oldenborgh (2011) recently undertook a similar research initiative.

    From Meehl et al. (2011):
    "There have been decades, such as 2000–2009, when the observed globally averaged surface-temperature time series shows little increase or even a slightly negative trend (a hiatus period). However, the observed energy imbalance at the top-of-atmosphere for this recent decade indicates that a net energy flux into the climate system of about 1 W m−2 (refs 2, 3) should be producing warming somewhere in the system. Here we analyse twenty-first-century climate-model simulations that maintain a consistent radiative imbalance at the top-of-atmosphere of about 1 W m−2 as observed for the past decade."

    Dr. Pielke and his associates want everyone to focus on that blimp and ignore pretty much anything else, and focus very closely on anything that in their minds question the theory of AGW or those dratted models or that can be used as to motivate delaying taking action on reducing our GHG emissions. Well people here do not fall for such sleights of hand, especially when they are repeated ad nauseum by "skeptics" and those in denial about the theory of AGW and their apologists.

    With that all said, Hansen posits the hypothesis that the negative radiative forcing from anthropogenic aerosols is at work, and recent research by authors (and Solomon et. al (2011), Kaufmann et al. (2011) [the latter was spun and misrepresented by "skeptics"] supports that too. So perhaps it is a coincidence, that both mechanisms (aerosols and sequestration of heat in the deep oceans )are at work. Exciting times for science.

    I know that reputable scientists like Meehl, Solomon, Santer, Dessler, Hansen and Trenberth (and others) will doggedly pursue their research and the search for truth, sadly some (like) Pielke Sr. and his associates will probably continue to cherry pick and use such periods in the data records to spread doubt/uncertainty and confuse the gullible. They will indignantly deny that but their repeated deception in public fora makes their indignance ring hollow.
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  32. To prevent the impression that Christy is a crock you could change the buttons to "Crocks by Christy". That way it is clear that by "crocks" is meant Christy's arguments, not the person. Spencer' slip ups would then become "Slip ups by Spencer". How does that sound?

    Perhaps the tone troll is also happy with that?
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  33. Well, then. How about "Spencer's Sputters" and "Christy's Critters"?
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  34. In my opinion the button designations are fine.

    These arguments do highlight bad faith on the part of a tiny group of individuals (some scientists and some observers) who engage in dubious practices (e.g. as highlighted in the resignation letter of the editor of Remote Sensing), and then complain about how mean the people are that spotlight it!

    We'd be remiss not to highlight examples of scientific bad faith. We should have considerable admiration for scientists like Drs Dessler, Wagner and others like those Albatross referred to in his post just above, who do some of the less rewarding work of countering bad faith nonsense at the "coal face". The contributions of SkS are important too, and focussing on some of the individuals who to a greater or lesser extent chose not to properly represent the scientific evidence, is entirely appropriate.

    I simply can't think of a good reason why we (Joe Public) shouldn't be adequately informed on issues of scientific importance..
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  35. I think there is no need to be cute. "Errors" as in Christy's Errors and Spencer's Errors is straight and to the point.
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  36. Just a follow up from the other thread "One-sided skepticism".

    On that thread, Pielke was afforded preferential treatment (he has an intriguing take on his experience on his blog), others' posts were deleted and his -off topic posts remained and he was provided a link to discuss his favourite metric (oceanic heat content) on an appropriate thread.

    On that thread, Dr. Pielke evaded and dodged questions directed at him by readers (his very first post was off-topic and so was his second post and in his third he obfuscates and argues a strawman, and on on it went).

    In doing so, he missed out on a golden opportunity to address readers' concerns, reassure readers of his willingness to objectively and without bias assess the body of science on AGW, and also demonstrate that he believes that it is more important to stand up for science and truth, than it is to cover up (or defend) misinformation propagated by his associates (e.g., Watts, Spencer and Christy). If anything, Dr. Pielke's actions on that thread make it near impossible to dismiss concerns about him being a one-sided skeptic.

    One of the more telling (and unfortunate) claims made by Pielke Sr. on that thread was:
    "I have worked with Anthony and he is devoted to the highest level of scientific robustness"
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  37. @John Cook;
    I think you're doing yourself and this website a disservice by stooping to such levels to discredit people that post opposing views here.
    Please step back and take an honest, eyes wide open look at what you're saying. Think about the long term credibility of your blog while doing this. It's suffering right now.
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  38. Alb, I don't have a problem with Pielke's use of "robustness" there. After all, it's true. Watts does allow the promotion of every theory on his website, no matter how ridiculous. It's the modifier "scientific" in front of "robustness" that makes me question his ability to represent science in general.
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  39. Hank, eh? This website is devoted to the communication of climate science. If bad science is being used to confound non-experts, then this site is well within its mission to address that use. Remember, Hank, the arguments here don't start with the pundits; they start with the science and move to the punditry when necessary (this thread, for example). This is not first about Christy or Spencer and then their science; it's about Spencer's and Christy's science and how it is being uncritically promoted. For the 143rd time, where's the ad hominem?
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  40. It's a fine dance, CW, but the intention is that comments shouldn't be explicitly political or explicitly an attack on the person (though if someone makes a ridiculous argument and receives a response that makes the arguer look silly, well, that's an implicit and perhaps unintended ad hominem). By the way, your comment is in violation of the comments policy: no comments on moderation.
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  41. @Albatross #36 and DSL #40:

    Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. is smart enough to know that people are judged by the company they keep. Has he never read any of the vitriolic diatribes posted by Anthony Watts on his website, WUWT?
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  42. Hank @ 37... So, you think SkS should never attach misinformation to the misinformants?
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  43. cynicus,

    As a non-tone troll (or at least as a tone non-troll), I don't like the term "crock" because it has immediate and unavoidable distasteful connotations for myself and for a substantial fraction of other readers - connotations that have nothing to do with the point that is to be made.

    With regard to other terms, such as "slip-ups", I think this usage is not really unfair: The issue really is arguments that are done in what appears to be bad faith, with the intent to deceive. I don't have any problem with indicating that that is what is going on.

    But spare me the bathroom associations, please.
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  44. hank_#37: "the long term credibility of your blog ... suffering right now."

    In what way? Has anyone made a scientific misstatement? Or are you suggesting that 'credibility' suffers because some folks object to the words occasionally used to describe their work? That seems highly subjective.
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  45. Hank, all that John Cook does is point exactly how this little sequence of events proceeded. Dr Pielke did all the work to discredit himself, he needed no help for that. Who really stoops the lowest in this story is clear.

    Considering the abysmal depths at which WUWT sinks on a regular basis, we could sincerely think we have a way to go.

    Of course, it is a lot easier for a "skeptic" blog to keep credibility with its readership, all it has to do is to always come to the same conclusion regardless how ludicrous the reasoning, how blatant the incompetence. I gave examples in the other thread. There are plenty more. I won't go waste my time there just for the sake of further substantiation.

    You do have a point in the sense that our task here is quite a bit more difficult. We do accept the bounds of reality. Blogging life is easier for those who don't.

    Fake skeptics have had it real easy for years. No accountability whatsoever. The most egregious accusations thrown around. Scientific fraud, as in the Soon and Baliunas fiasco and others since, with very little or no consequence. They even have the government working for them, in the person of Cucinelli and the individuals trying (clumsily) to attack the polar bear researcher. It is high time that the reality based fight back. Inconsistencies, hypocrisy, double standards, harassment, abuse of FOIA, misleading of the public and policymakers, lying to congress all should be met with what they deserve.

    SkS should do some of that work. Dr Pielke threw accusations around, when confronted on it he had nothing to say and tried to change the suject. That was low. Calling him on it was not.
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  46. I can't help thinking that "skeptics" are thin-skinned when it comes to complaining about perceived insults yet are are heavy-handed when it comes to dishing it out. Arthur Koestler coined the word "mimophant" to categorize people with this behavior.

    An example of this was the absurd claims of blacklisting over the Anderegg et al paper , when lists of prominent climate "skeptics" had been published previously by "skeptic" sites. (Pardon all the scare quotes.) Similarly, the outrage that ensues whenever the word "denier" is used because of the imagined link to Holocaust denier. Yet no objection is raised on the "skeptic" side when climate scientists are equated to the actual perpetrators of genocide, as Monckton has done more than once.

    Having said that, I don't particularly like "crock" as an expression. It's short for "crock of s [*** snipped ], not the kind of image or language normally regarded as acceptable on this site.
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    Moderator Response: [mc] We all know that one connotation of 'crock'; it is not the only one.
  47. Hank @37,

    I think you need to carefully re-evaluate your position and move beyond the "buttons". It would help if you did that and actually read the series and see for yourself how SkS is addressing misinformation put forth by "skeptics" and calling on the science to do so.

    This is not about trying to discredit people with opposing views, it is about calling out, addressing and correcting misinformation, myths, distortion and cherry-picking that 'skeptics" routinely engage in. The 'skeptics" discredit only themselves when they do that, but only if it is brought to people's attention. That is where SkS comes in.

    Since when is is wrong or in poor form to highlight and address these nefarious actions? Hank would you rather SkS ignore the misinformation? And as you surely have seen by now, SkS entertains many differing views, in contrast you are unable to make comments on Dr. Pielke's blog.
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  48. Philippe @ 45... Exactly. How can Pielke possibly be offended by just the phrasing of these titles when he surely sees the constant stream of vitriol that gets propagated at WUWT?

    It strikes me as someone wading through mud to come tell me indignantly that I have a nasty little stain on my tie.
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  49. I think there's reasonable grounds for consideration on this topic. While I don't really see a problem with the titles I think it is perhaps sending the wrong message having these personality-based headers in such a prominent position on the site. From a certain perspective it could be understood as you setting yourselves in opposition to these people, rather than their statements, which is the essence of ad-hominen.

    You could make the case that these individuals have shown persistent behaviour which is deserving of a label but, still, focusing on personality is perhaps not the route you want to go down.

    Since most of the articles under the personality-headers relate to statements made by these people in the press, perhaps you could have a 'Skeptics in Public' section, which contains all of them. Within the section you could organise the articles by name - I can't see any reasonable objection to that - similarly to the RCwiki area.
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  50. hank_

    I think John has fairly described what happened in the Pielke exhange. Pielke never addressed the substance of the critiques of Christy's and Spencer's statements. He never identified the ad hominem's. Insted he tried to change the subject, posting off topic comments that were clearly tolerated far more than usual by the moderators. He wanted to talk about the science, for sure, but only as long as it didn't involve the science that was misrepresented by Christy and Spencer and which was the subject of the post.

    In my opinion, you could add another button for Pielke Prevarications.

    As for the labels,

    I don't get the same mental image from "crocks" that some do, but I understand the negative response to that word. Still, it's hard to come up with an alliterative word that doesn't have even worse associations. "Christy's confusions" perhaps.

    I do agree the personalization of the debate is regrettable. You have Santer we have Spencer, you have Alley we have Christy, you have Mann we have's all part of the attempt to level the terms of debate by assigning a 5-aside to take each other on with their super-powers, x-men like.

    That said, I'm not sure I am for removing the buttons. The fact is that the personalization is a reality of the public debate, fabricated though it is. I'm not sure ignoring the situation makes sense. These people are so visible compared to your average climate scientist, precisely because they are so rare and must be relied on over and over again to legitimize the "skeptic" arguments.

    They have asked for the attention, so they deserve the scrutiny. Having them up top provides an immediate way for people who are less informed to quickly locate specific rebuttals to their arguments and to get some context on the real science.
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