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Bad, Badder, BEST

Posted on 26 October 2011 by Rob Honeycutt

Be sure to catch the latest installment from Greenman Studios.  In this video Peter Sinclair addresses the latest published data from the Berkeley Earth (BEST) project with footage of Richard Muller, Anthony Watts and others who have been so famously caught by surprise by the results of the BEST data.

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Comments 1 to 29:

  1. 'Well Duh!' indeed! More great work from Mr Sinclair. In a more sane and just world he'd be the one attracting the billionaires' funding...
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  2. Not bad. But, why resort to name calling (Junior Woodchucks, climate cranks, etc...). If what you're saying is sound - you really don't need to do that.
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  3. Why? Because we're human and it's a can't win. If we don't show a little passion and humanity they lable us "spocks" and out of touch with ordinary people. If we descend to their level, we get the "you're scientists, you need to be professional" remarks. It's mostly a can't win. Besides, Jr. Woodchunks (I go back to Pogo) is sooo much fun.
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  4. We were misquoted! It was D'OH! Bert
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  5. If you need a little light relief, the list of skeptic responses on Peter's next post is also worth a read: Deniers Eat Their Own in BEST Feeding Frenzy.
    Stephen (“not a scientist, not my real name”) Goddard:
    "Newsweek from 1975 refutes you, you, you... bad graph maker man..."
    I'm sorry, normal science will be resumed as soon as possible.
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  6. Dave123 you are so wrong. Accuracy and keeping to the subject at hand without name calling has a long term and moral advantage. It depends on the situation and context. Peter Sinclair IMO is looking at the subject from an American political context, where the polarisation is significant and integrity has been dragged down into the gutter.

    The environment that you live can taint the language you use. If you are confronted by TV and Radio with poor news coverage but with a lot of opinion that invokes antagonism then it is difficult to not join in I guess. The question is, does simply doing what you want with no holds barred result in more and more people being dragged down to a base level of behaviour? Or is it possible to maintain standards of integrity, it probably depends a lot on individuals personality.
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  7. Yep, calling people "Junior Woodchucks" - that's 'no holds barred' and will drag us all down to a 'base level of reality'. And fails to 'maintain standards of integrity'. Sure.

    Is there anything that Sinclair does that actually could hope to meet these exalted standards? Heck 'Climate Crocks' as a name, that's really disrespectful, isn't it? It's amazing how popular the series is, though, don't you think? Perhaps because it's both punchy and funny? There's this thing we call 'satire'...

    Are you familiar with injunctions not to let the perfect become the enemy of the good?

    Or how about the idea that when you're working in a broad coalition you save your ammunition for firing at the opposing side?
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  8. Dave123 - 3

    It maybe Pogo, but some other dude has another take on it:



    Ya gotta smile from time-to-time.
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  9. I think Peter Sinclair's video is excellent, except I agree he should have left off the "Junior Woodchucks" and similar comments. It simply gives places like WUWT a reason to deflect their response (if they do respond) away from the science -- where they are getting increasingly incomprehensible and contradictory -- towards complaints about ad hominen attacks from the "warmists."
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  10. "Or how about the idea that when you're working in a broad coalition you save your ammunition for firing at the opposing side?"
    Ah, that is surely why septics provide such a large range of theories, which are often mutually exclusive, as alternative to the GHG theory without breaking into a fight amongst themselves.

    Please pick your pet theory as long as it isn't GHG's.
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  11. Dennis @9, WUWT can realistically draw attention to issue of ad hominens when they stop publishing Viscount "that is a fascist point of view, Zeig Heil, and on we go" Monckton.

    The simple fact is that many of the climate change deniers, including explicitly Monckton are conspiracy theorists of the tin hat variety. Monckton personal view is that global warming is a conspiracy by the UN to establish a "global, bureaucratic-centralist dictatorship" to achieve world government which will "... not, I repeat not be democratic government".

    This is not an ad hominen, except to the extent that describing Monckton's views in print since 2009 (at least) is ad hominen. What is absurd is that this tin hat conspiracy theorist is lauded by the press, and taken seriously by the majority of climate change deniers.

    I do not share the delusion that we should maintain the illusion of Monckton (and other deniers) rationality by carefully keeping concealed the absurdity of their purported beliefs out of some misplaced sense of politeness.
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  12. 11, Tom Curtis,

    Agreed. Lunatics need to be identified as such, not merely politely tolerated.

    And it is, in fact, lunacy. I dearly hope to live long enough to see history pass judgment on these clowns. I want to read the high school history texts that discuss this period in modern history, and I am very hopeful that some key names and faces will get prominent exposure in those texts.

    Some advice for them:
    It's always easy to believe in what you are doing. The harder challenge is in believing in what you have done.
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  13. I would have to say that Peter Sinclair's video is entirely appropriate - in large part satirizing the positions and actions taken by the skeptic/denier crowd, not personal insults. Hence it's not ad hominem in nature. Sinclair is to some extent mocking the positions, then associating them with those maintaining those positions.

    Compare and contrast:

    Ad homenim (fallacy): Denigrate the person -> claim that hence their argument is invalid.

    Judgement call (not a fallacy): Demonstrate that an argument is invalid, if not ridiculous -> judge that the person presenting it is suffering D-K / is being disingenuous / requires fitting of a tinfoil hat.

    Note the difference! Even if you judge some person to have, for example, poor background in the field based upon some argument they have presented, that is no justification for not fully considering additional arguments - although their history may induce you to start with a more critical eye.

    ---

    Quite frankly, those positions of denial are not worthy of any reverence - a bit of mockery for the actions of denial is entirely appropriate. Particularly in this case, where the denialsphere is turning on someone they considered one of their own - because he had the temerity to report what the data indicates.
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  14. 9, Dennis,

    Good! Let them get away from faux-science (they have never, ever discussed actual science, so I won't deign to label what they've ever done as science).

    They look that much more foolish when they wander off onto shrill political and ideological rants, cartoons and name calling.

    That we throw it in as a chuckling, can-you-believe-these-people comment does not diminish our position, because we really do have the facts and the science behind us. In the end that is what will win the debate (that, and the fact that the physics doesn't care what anyone says, and it and the temperatures are going to march onward and upward), but there's no reason not to fight the battles by identifying Anthony, Monckton and the others as exactly what they are, in whatever terms are appropriate.

    Let it bother them. Also let them know that their behavior is not without consequence, both near and long term.
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  15. With regards to the tone of Peter Sinclair's video, I suggest that that has long been his style, and it works. Certainly he does a very good job of discussing the science at a level accessible to the layperson, and exposing hypocrisy and misrepresentations on the part of contrarians.

    Skeptical Science has kept to a much higher standard of tone in its posts, and the comments are kept from getting too out of hand by the comments policy.

    For my part, I do not think contrarians have any ground on which to stand to make complaints based on 'tone', when one considers remarks such as those made by Monckton, the level of discourse at, say, WattsUpWithThat, or the contrarian commentary that has positively swamped physicist Ethan Siegel's most recent blog post on the subject - despite Ethan also keeping to a higher ground on tone.

    I would conclude by suggesting that it takes all kinds of responses to climate science skepticism, doubt, denial, and denialism, from high-minded responses such as those by Ethan or Skeptical Science, to more biting, sarcastic rejoinders by the likes of Sinclair.
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  16. The "Junior Woodchuck" comment is a sort of reprise from one of Peter's earliest videos on Anthony Watts. Watts up with Watts? Well worth watching.
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  17. Oh for goodness' sake, can we please have no more talk about "tone" and instead talk about the actual scientific content and evidence in the video? The same content and evidence that completely blows Watts and his ilk out of the water.

    Peter Sinclair did an excellent job on calling out Watts and Inhofe and others who are in denial about AGW. The fact that Anthony Watts et al. now look like fools and hypocrites concerning the robustness of the US and global temperature record is completely their own doing. There is nothing wrong with Peter exposing that and him shining the bright light of truth on that.

    I bet Anthony Watts is going to try and censor this video, as he has tried to do before.
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  18. What a hoot!
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  19. Sinclair's tone is actually fine; what he uses are insulting words, not insulting tone. On paper his dialogue would seem to be abrasive, and it is, but what you say in a debate matters so little compared to how you say it. The benefit of his videos is that the scientific material is there, and the research is there - it doesn't detract from the persuasiveness or quality of his videos that he calls people "Junior Woodchucks" or such.

    Frankly some people deserve the ridicule.

    As to SkS v. Sinclair, I again say that on paper, as we operate, he would seem inappropriately abrasive. It's simply a different dynamic when you can talk to people.
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  20. There is nothing wrong with being a skeptic - though I assume that referring to people who question science as septics (cynicus @ 10) is a typo?

    Anyway, we do need to distinguish between the person and the views expressed. The latter is fair game. The former is not.
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  21. Agnostic - Keep in mind the distinction I described here. Evaluating arguments, finding them lacking, and making judgements about the people pushing those arguments is not a logical fallacy: it's simply a personal judgement call.

    Folks are 'fair game' to be judged disingenuous, uninformed, or a wee bit mad, depending on the arguments they propound. What's not 'fair game' is to dismiss all arguments from that person based on past history or personal opinions of their character - that becomes an ad hominem fallacy.
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  22. Jon Stewart is covering BEST on the the 10/26 Daily Show -- "Global warming is real: the debunking of ClimateGate got a total of 24 seconds of news coverage."
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  23. Another one added to the database :

    "I applaud and support what is being done by the Project — a very difficult but important undertaking. I personally have little faith in the quality of the surface data, having been exposed to the revealing work by Anthony Watts and others. However, I have an open mind on the issue and look forward to seeing the results of the Project in their forthcoming publications."
    S Fred Singer
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  24. Heh! Singer follows Muller and Rohde on the program at the Third Santa Fe Conference on Global and Regional Climate Change next Tuesday. Singer's topic: "Is the reported global surface warming of 1979 to 1997 real?"
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  25. Mal Adapted and JMurphy,

    Great find @23 JMurphy. Oh dear, so I guess that Singer has, like Anthony Watts, reneged on his statement that he will have an open mind when it comes to the BEST results.

    But Ian Forrester on another thread shows what Fred Singer had to say in response to a Nature editorial on the BEST findings on 26 October 2011 (he was the first person to post a comment on that Nature editorial thread):

    "Why are you so jubilant about the findings of the Berkeley Climate Project that you can hardly contain yourself? What do you think they proved? They certainly added little to the ongoing debate on human causes of climate change."

    And Singer then makes a series of demonstrably false statements:
    "But unlike the land surface, the atmosphere has shown no warming trend, either over land or over ocean — according to satellites and independent data from weather balloons. This indicates to me that there is something very wrong with the land surface data. And did you know that climate models, run on super-computers, all insist that the atmosphere must warm faster than the surface? And so does theory.

    And finally, we have non-thermometer temperature data from so-called "proxies", tree rings, ice cores, ocean sediments, stalagmites. They don't show any global warming since 1940!"


    He also says this:
    "One last word: You evidently haven't read the four scientific BEST papers, submitted for peer review. There, the Berkeley scientists disclaim knowing the cause of the temperature increase reported by their project. They conclude, however, "The human component of global warming may be somewhat overestimated". I commend them for their honesty and skepticism. "

    Now that is a blatant distortion and misrepresentation of the BEST findings. Singer has evidently not read the paper, but is simply repeating a meme that originated with AGW denier Benny Peiser and which was propagated (uncritically) on WUWT by Anthony Watts. This latest misrepresentation and abuse of the science by those in denial about AGW has been dealt with here.

    So on the one hand Singer trashes BEST, and then when they say something that he wants to believe (which is not even necessartily true), he commends their "honesty".

    Singer speaking immediately after Muller and Rohde is priceless.
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  26. To Mal Adapted #24:
    Tell us how the talks and mostly the questions went! I am very interested!
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  27. The video shows portions of an animated world map with the BEST study temperature reading coverage over time. Does anyone know the source of that animation? I couldn't find it on the BEST site.
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  28. I absolutely love Peter Sinclair's work -- his careful research, editing, entertaining presentation and even tone so often "strike a blow below the waterline" at skeptical arguments.

    Yet I have to weigh in on the side of those arguing that it's better to leave out snarky references to the "Junior Woodchuck Society" etc.

    Climate Crocks are too good to squander solely on entertaining the already-converted. And the fun of name-calling is not worth the price of alienating partially-open-minded skeptics (yes, there still are some) out there.
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  29. Refreshingly, at least one newspaper called it squarely: The San Francisco Chronicle's editor yesterday wrote in the editorial page:
    Richard Muller, UC Berkeley physicist:
    He believed: The science behind climate change was shoddy and politically driven.
    He discovered: He was wrong.
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