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Is Monckton the Wrong Target?

It didn’t take long for critiques to Monckton’s article at the FPS to appear. But I am inclined to believe that they are pretty much irrelevant.

what is the point of shooting against Monckton when the real offending statement for AGWers, the one that elicited all the “blogosphere brouhaha”, was written by FPS editor Jeffrey Marque?

There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution

Without the above, there would have been no NewsBusters article, no DailyTech comment, etc etc…

Monckton is one, a “considerable presence” is MANY

0 replies on “Is Monckton the Wrong Target?”

I’ve had a run in with Mr. Duae Quartunciae myself. I offer you condolences. I tried to write an article in wikipedia about Bay Valley Foods. They operate a coal burning furnace in Pittsburgh. Duae Quartunciae deleted the article. He would not allow it to exist. Since then the American Lung Association has found Pittsburgh to have the worst air quality in the country. Bay Valley Foods and other major polluters continue on polluting with a less informed public. I wondered a lot about why Duae Quartunciae was so interested in the Bay Valley Foods article. If he had been hired by Bay Valley Foods he couldn’t have done a better job of keeping BVF information from the public.


what do you think of calls to mail-bomb an individual “and his bosses” for the one and only reason that said individual has stated that “there is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion”?

Mr Marque may be wrong but as you know even the APS didn’t state as much (they said that statement “does not represent the views of the Executive Committee of the Forum on Physics and Society”). In other words, they do believe such a pronounciation is a matter of opinion. Can’t one hold and express an opinion, one wonders?

Compound that to repeated, unwarranted calls of “Deniers” and you will have to agree that using references to the Nazis is something that comes straight out of some rabid AGWers

papertiger, you are welcome to pay attention to me or not as you choose. I’m not forcing anything, and neither is the APS.

I can understand you might be confused on that, however, if you think that it is “gestapo” tactics for a professional body to reaffirm a formal statement on a technical matter directly relating to their area of competence.

You go right ahead and pay attention to whoever you like on whatever basis you choose. It’s a free world, and you are under no constraints. I personally find it more interesting talking with the rational skeptics anyway.

New intelligences via Lubos Motl provide clarity with regard to the APS actions.

In an article proudly called Physicists forced to reaffirm that human-caused global warming is “incontrovertible”, Joe Romm of Climate Progress initiated an e-mail campaign and encouraged hundreds of readers of his website to …

The editors of FPS were bombarded by the scum of the climate change intimidation faction.
In light of that posting a red letter, incoherent, self-contradictory, disclaimer was a way of exposing the climate change gestapo for what they are, by totally submitting to their suggestions in a very public way.

I’m afraid that as a rational skeptic, you will have to make up your own mind about my own openness to new possibilities; and you have limited information to go on; since of course merely knowing some of my conclusions would be an invalid basis for judgment. My answering such a question for a rational skeptic would be a bit pointless, don’t you think? A skeptic would — quite rightly — take my own declaration as being of very limited value.

In my view, the reaction of the APS was perfectly sensible. It was Monckton’s organization which came out with a press release the same day as the newsletter, which set up all the misrepresentations about the standing of his article that precipitated this netstorm. The APS notice added to Monckton’s article merely corrects misrepresentations that Monckton himself (almost certainly) set in train. There’s nothing in the notice that should be insulting or even at all surprising. It’s just a clarification of what ought to be obvious and which Monckton should have known himself; for the sake of stemming a flood of misrepresentations on the position of the APS and the standing of the article.

Twisting this into some kind of discourtesy is… dare I say it…. a tad irrational. 😉 On the other hand, I do agree with you that this was handled very poorly overall by the APS. At least, I hope it was just naivety.

For what it is worth, however, I’ll be happy to engage with skeptics who are committed to principles of fairness and rationality, and return courtesy for courtesy. I don’t dump everyone into the same basket. The blog medium is not ideal for two way discussions; but if you had a specific point you’d like to ask we could see where it goes. In any case… thanks for this exchange, and for your comments to my blog as well.

My experience, coming from a background that include amateur weather forecasting, Skepticism of the Sagan/Randi variety, and studies and jobs also in some scientific fields, is exactly that: how to deal with definite claims, such as “the world is going to burn because of anthropogenic CO2 emissions”, or “we are fast reaching a ‘tipping point’ after which climate disasters will happen all around the world”…claims that “plainly ain’t so” themselves either.

And so, I am unapologetic myself too about having quite definite views on the merits of various arguments with respect to global warming. But I am still open to new possibilities. Are you? Perhaps you are. Lots of people calling me “denialist” and the likes, surely are not.

Opening up a debate with Monckton or anybody else is a responsibility for a forum’s or journal’s editor. In any case, reacting against Monckton the way the APS has done, will do nothing to either educate the audience, or convince some among them that the AGW camp is not full of dogma.

Grin. “Rational skepticism” is an excellent objective. The problem will be finding anyone who does not believe that they exemplify rational skepticism.

It’s not the people who ask questions that concern me at all. I have lots of patience with questions. (Though sometimes I feel a sneaking sympathy for the teacher who sad: “Billy, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. But if there were, then that was one of them.“) But in this case, what is more to the point is how you deal with people making definite claims. Especially claims that plainly ain’t so.

Most people can agree that “rational skepticism” is not going to prevent someone recognizing that the Earth is rather older than 6000 years, and feeling confident in even in advance of hearing them that arguments for a young earth are going to be wrong headed; whereas there’s a lot less cause for certainty on, say, the cause of the great Permian extinction.

So ultimately, it’s a bit pointless to say “She’s irrationally skeptical on that issue” or “I’m rationally skeptical on this issue”. In the end, it will come down the merits of arguments for and against. And frankly, I am unapologetic about having quite definite views on the merits of various arguments with respect to global warming.

There are lots of wide open questions in the science of climate, and this is a matter of ongoing scientific debate and legitimate scientific disagreement. There are other questions in the science of climate which are simply a matter of basic education for those who don’t know much about the background.

How you deal with the matter of the education, to help bring people interested up to speed on the foundations of a field so that they can engage more effectively with all the genuine open questions, is tricky. In my view, setting up a “debate” with Monckton in particular was not a great pedagogical move.

But once that is done, I think it is appropriate to make a clear substantive examination of the merits of his position. I’ve attempted that; not with the view of educating Monckton himself; but with a view to helping answer questions people have about whether his argument is valid or not. I’ve got no problem with that question…. nor with giving it the correct answer!

thank you DQ…as a matter of fact, it would all be so much easier if many of the AGW proponents would descend from their pedestals, and consider just once the possibility that rational skepticism may be the proper response to AGW claims.

Instead we see a sizable bunch, usually those in positions of power, flatly denying the very existence of Marque’s “considerable presence”. And others like you believing it’s all a matter of ignorance and education against pseudoscience and poorly founded skepticism.

I am sure you’ll agree that all science educators presenting themselves by stating that all students that will ask questions are ignoramuses with poor arguments and that there is at least one scientific field where there cannot be any substantive debate, will have failed ipso facto as educators, and should not be surprised if part or all of the class opts for stonewalling.

Thanks for the link!

Depending on what is meant by “considerable”, the biggest difficulty with Marque’s statement is that it is true. It’s not common with people who have specific knowledge about climate science; but in the scientific community generally and in the membership of the APS in particular I suspect it would be rather horrifying to see the statistics.

Basically, I am pretty sure there are a lot of people who have a background in science of some kind and a capacity (with work) to learn about and understand the scientific basis for global warming; but who have not exercised that capacity and are inclined to reject or at least be skeptical about the conventional conclusions as seen in the IPCC reports. In fact, the IPCC reports are filled with qualifications and indications of uncertainty and open questions. It’s just that the genuinely open questions — of which there are many — are very different from the questions that keep getting raised by in public debate.

It seems to me that there’s a need for two approaches. On the one hand, there is the never-ending case by case dismantling and refutation of poorly founded skepticism of the basics. At the same time, and with complete consistency, it should be emphasized that this is a work of basic education; not of substantive debate between equally respectable scientific perspectives.

Put bluntly, it is about dealing with pseudoscientific confusions; and alas there’s no quick solution.

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