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The intellectual vacuum – alarmists are afraid of debate, they namecall and break laws of reason

Posted By Joanne Nova On April 26, 2012 @ 7:37 pm In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

In response to the ABC doco I Can Change Your Mind, the believers of man-made global warming are out attacking with logical fallacies, cherry picking deceit, and the usual barking mad irrelevant lines about tobacco and AIDS.  Desperate eh?

Never before in one day on one post have I enjoyed responding to Mr Unskeptical himself (John Cook), as well as Stefan Lewandowsky (aka Lysenko-strikes-again) and Clive-break-democracy-Hamilton.

John Cook on the ABC website.

Cook is from the University of Queensland, and he runs the ambush site “Skeptical Science” (where even the name of the site is misleading, and where he dutifully parrots the government scientists).

John Cook

His litany of logical errors continues:

  1. He’s still resorting to namecalling with a term he can’t define scientifically. Which paper do we deny John? You’ve had two years to find it, and you still can’t come up with anything better than papers which cheat by changing color schemes, or which use wind-shear instead of thermometers to measure temperature?
  2. He’s clinging to that consensus, when evidence is what matters. The fallacy is known as argument from authority — but in science, authority is trumped by data. In contrast, I keep referring to 3,000 ocean bouys, 6,000 boreholes, and 28 million weather balloons that support the skeptics. The heat is not in the upper troposphere (the hot spot is missing), which wipes out the amplification and most of the warming in the climate models. Then there are the 900 or so peer reviewed papers that support the skeptical case.
  3. His reasoning is so weak he thinks writing about tobacco funding and HIV will help us understand the climate. This is not just reasoning by analogy, but reasoning by unrelated events.
  4. Cook still hauls out the discredited ad homs about funding, despite the fact it takes cherry picking extraordinaire to ignore that the funds to believer scientists outnumbers the funds to skeptics by 3,500:1, and the profits from climate trading vastly outweigh the losses the fossil fuel companies might take if the world took the alarmists seriously. Ever noticed how numerous and slick all those warmist pieces are on tv, newspapers, magazines, websites etc — and how sparse and homemade the media presence of skeptics in comparison? Who’s got the big budget, John?
  5. Is Cook innumerate? He tries to reduce the argument to “Yes-No” answers, rather than looking at the actual numbers that matter. He claims the planet is “absorbing heat at a rate of two Hiroshima bombs per second”, which may be true, but is numerically a failure. This missing heat ought to be hiding in the oceans, but the numbers show that while ocean heat has been rising for decades, it isn’t rising fast enough. The odd 7,000 Quadrillion joules of energy is missing. The innumeracy point pops up again when he accuses me of ignoring “satellite observations that directly measure an increased greenhouse effect when she claims the warming effect from carbon dioxide (CO2) is immeasurable.” I don’t ignore Harries et al, and have said many times (though it was probably edited out of the doco) that those measurements of CO2 only ever suggest 1.2C of warming at most (i.e. the direct effect, before any amplifying feedbacks which don’t exist). They don’t tell us about the feedbacks.
  6. More baseless names “tin-foil-hattery”. Cook claims that a throwaway line from David Evans that scientists are ‘concealing the evidence’ is tin-foil hattery and a conspiracy theory. But of course, he knows all too well that David repeatedly (and for the doco) refers to the exact evidence that scientists like Flannery are paid to present to the public, but will not discuss. Like the missing hotspot, or the Argo ocean temperatures, or the ERBE outgoing radiation data, or the satellite air temperatures, or the corrupted thermometers — all of which the public and politicians are blithely unaware of, because the government climate scientists don’t mention them to the media and public –i.e. they are concealed. (Here’s an easy paper with links.) Basically Cook is namecalling “conspiracy theorist”.

In summary, Cook is a namecalling, illogical failure at the scientific method who masquerades as a science commentator even though he breaks tenets of science every time he hails a “consensus”. He doesn’t just make logical errors one by one, he stacks them and repeats them.

Obviously the University of Queensland didn’t teach Cook any Aristotelian logic or the vital difference between science and, say, postmodern theory. If you care about that university’s reputation, perhaps you could write to the Dean of Science and suggest they should rush Cook through a catch up course in logical reasoning, lest he embarrass the university further?

I’ve savaged Cook’s ability to reason before:  The Unskeptical Guide to the Skeptics Handbook  | How John Cook unskeptically believes in a hotspot (that thermometers can’t find)(Un)Skeptical Science uses unmeasureable fudge factors| The Worst Cookbook Interview Ever? | Sherwood 2008: Where you can find a hot spot at zero degrees

Clive Hamilton is supposed to be a prof of Ethics. Really?

He writes on Crikey with a  similar formula to Cook — namecalling, clinging unscientifically to an oxymoron called “consensus science” — but also pushes the line that climate skeptics ought be silenced for the common good. What kind of “ethics” does that represent? Isn’t that from the totalitarian dictator’s playbook on repression?

Clive’s tally of fallacies: Ad hominem, argument from authority, nil cause and effect, irrelevant points, and ethical failure.

Get over it Hamilton. If skeptics were deniers, it would be easy for the “experts” to debate them live on TV and win over most of the population. The fact that you have to rely on silencing skeptics shows how weak the the alarmist case is. If you just had the evidence and the arguments you would simply present them and that would be the end of the debate. You don’t, and you can’t.

As for Naomi Oresekes, far from exposing merchants of doubt, she is hypocrisy personified and the Queen Merchant of Doubt herself — seeding doubts with baseless smears about upstanding scientists.  Just because she writes about tactics that other cheats use in other debates tells us nothing about Earth’s climate.

Poor old Charles Sturt University, looking to raise its reputation. Unfortunately they let Hamilton put out “ethical” ideas so bad that untrained bloggers can shoot holes in them with a mere two seconds of thought and no research. Hint to science faculty – time to reconsider?

There has never been a public debate about the science, and the show I Can Change Your Mind is hardly any different. Indeed, if there was or ever had been a debate, the show would not be required.

Any observant person would have to wonder why the “debate” ended up being held in our kitchen, and why the paid guys like Flannery, Pitman, or Steffen apparently knocked back the chance to explain their case. Is the debate so dangerous to the regulating class (bureaucrats, greenies, academics, banks, other gravy trainers) that they cannot hold it in a public forum with proper rules of engagement? Are they so afraid of our data and questions that they only show it in an easily discredited forum? (Seriously, two reviewers at The Age think that our kitchen has the strange power to neutralize graphs of NASA data — who knew?) Is our only viable option to get the data on Australian tv that we have wait three years for an invite to host the debate in our kitchen with a politician and an activist? This is ludicrous Australia. And they say the debate is over…

If the ABC were pursing the truth — instead of acting as a PR agency for big-statist policies — they would long ago have asked all the leading skeptics for interviews, they’d phone up people like Ivar Giaever to ask why he’s a skeptic. Instead they go out of their way to ignore and discredit skeptics, and when they do finally ask them, they make sure it’s not a format where they can actually show graphs and make it clear what the point is. The ABC will show obscure economic graphs every night on the news, but a graph of world temperatures taken by satellite or the Argo buoys? Nooooo…

I’ve blogged on Hamilton before:  Clive Hamilton’s War on Science |  The global gullibles shift to high gear smear

 Lewandowsky is supposed to be a professorial fellow of psychology

It gets repetitive, with our favorite anti-scientist Stefan Lewandowsky repeating all of the above essentially in The Age. It’s the same argument from authority, and ad hom package of fallacies. Why are David and Jo wrong about Climate Change? Because “they have no relevant training”. Its obvious he resorts to the ad hom because he has no evidence in his favor. Let’s briefly go through David’s qualifications — not that it changes those graphs from NASA, NOAA or Hadley — but how’s this for 10 years at university?

David Evans: PhD (E.E.), M.S. (E.E.), M.S. (Stats) [Stanford University], B.Eng (hons, medal), M.A. (Applied Maths), B.Sc. [University of Sydney]

With six years of experience as a world leading carbon modeller consulting with the Australian Greenhouse Office and Department of Climate Change, David has a good grip on the limitations of models, a far better grip than cognitive-scientist-and-logically-challenged-Lewandowsky. And electrical engineering just happens to be the field of human endeavor that knows the most about feedbacks and complex systems — exactly the aspects under debate in climate change. (Nearly every analogue circuit for decades has a lot of feedback built in, and have you every thought about how complicated the electrical systems are that control and compute most aspects of modern technology?) No peer-reviewed papers in climate science, true, but scientific papers are for new contributions to knowledge, not for pointing out to the public that the theory and data are now very incompatible — and anyway Climategate confirmed years ago that in climate science  the role of the peer-review process is to keep criticism and alternative ideas out.

In other words, it wouldn’t matter who brings it up or what evidence they show, because the debate is not allowed to be about the evidence, it’s only about the biographies of commentators and speculation about their funding. After all, we all know that the clouds are controlled by the qualifications of the observers, right?

Lewandowsky is a source of much fun on this blog:  Peer review denial and the abuse of science |   The death of reason at UWA | Lewandowsky: the ABC parades a witchdoctor again | Learn how not to reason at the University of Western Australia | The hypocrisy of the annointedName-calling fairy dust: “Conspiracy Theorist” | Picasso Brain Syndrome |


PS. Have seen the show now. Despite assurances that they would show the data, they didn’t — just one oblique graph of the Argo ocean temperatures without the axes. I think it’s fair to say that the record of the mainstream media stays intact — they have never shown the data that contradicts the climate models anywhere in the world, any time, AFAIK. Good job of censorship, regulating class!

Curious to see the data they omitted?  Here is David presenting the same data as in the doco interview (Barry shot this a couple of weeks ago). And some understanding of why, though obviously this last would have been too much for such a documentary.




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