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John Cook: Skeptical Science Is Unsuccessful and Counterproductive

You know things are going down the drain when an English Major interviews a Cartoonist to talk about psychology and the identification of scientific “myths”.

The level of absolute idiocy is reached of course when the owner of a website purportedly debunking 173 climate change “myths” and well-known for its unethical treatment of non-compliant commenters writes:

Debunks that offered three arguments, for example, are more successful in reducing the influence of misinformation, compared to debunks that offered twelve arguments which ended up reinforcing the myth.


Avoid dramatic language and derogatory comments that alienate people. Stick to the facts.

Who knows, John Cook might one day read his “Debunking Handbook” and ditch Skeptical Science completely.

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THAT "Skeptical Science" Joke

Skeptical Science is like a collection of Aristotelian commentaries at the times of Galileo: for all intents and purposes, a sad and stale joke.

Therefore recently, inspired by its longstanding and approved abbreviation (SS) plus puerile antics against Roger Pielke Sr, I couldn’t help venturing into parallels with Heinrich Himmler’s Nazi organization (the “Protection Squadron“, just like Cook et al feel it their duty to protect science from evil skeptics).

Of course, those were and still are jokes. As I said elsewhere, if your website is abbreviated CCCP don’t get upset if Stalin gets a few mentions…

—- As an aside, there is an unnerving possibility. The site name is “Skeptical Science” and is apparently meaningless as not directly related to its content (in Cook’s world, there is no such a thing as skeptical science – imagine a pro-Tibet site named “List of the Chinese Government’s Human Rights Defence Efforts“). It the name has been chosen for sarcastic effect, little or no sarcasm is actually present in the site. So it might as well be that SS was originally devised so that one could have later labelled all skeptics and skeptical scientists as “SS members”, with the underlying Nazi joke in full force… —-

Anyway, irony pervades our lives and I just experienced it in a sublime way. There I was tonight commenting at Bishop Hill’s blog post about Skeptical Science’s thwarted attempt at rewriting history:

I do not think Rattus or Mark S have dared to open the Wayback Machine link, showing how the SS team didn’t just “update” a blog post.

Having rewritten the “argument”, SS could have removed the old comments; or leave them with a note saying they had become out-of-date; or a different note specifying that the new version of the page addressed the issue highlighted by the commenter, eg AnthonySG1’s.

Instead, the SS team decided to rewrite history (the Ahnenerbe would have been proud). SS opted for tampering with the contribution of commenters such as AnthonySG1 and PaulM (members of us skeptical and therefore inferior race), transforming them into total trolls in a way that that shows not a jot of attempt of respecting fellow human beings.

Why would the SS do that? Total disregard for skeptical visitors of course means SS is completely focused on indoctrinating the believing masses, and especially the scientifically-illiterate journalists visiting the site. Therefore the SS “narrative” has to be linear, clean to the point of being spotless, with not a single error or omission, and not a meaningful point by any skeptic in a million years.

All together now…Wenn alle untreu werden, so bleiben wir doch treu…

Where is the German-language bit from? I thought, let’s conclude the comment along the Himmler joke, perhaps by quoting the SS (Nazi) anthem. And an amazing finding ensued:

Wenn alle untreu werden, so bleiben wir doch treu…

If all become untrue, true we remain..


Couldn’t have been more appropriate. If all of catastrophic AGW will become untrue and rejected by most scientists, SS (Climate) will remain there unchanged, I am sure.

ps please refrain from mentioning Godwin’s Law. The Nazi reference is appropriate…

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Embarrassing "Skeptical Science" or The Return Of The Aristotelians

I was meaning to write about the cringe-inducing website called “Skeptical Science” and today’s Revkin’s piece at dotEarth finally pushed me forward.

I feel embarrassment for John Cook, Skeptical Science author, for two reasons (neither concerning his rather disturbing photograph). First of all the very existence of such a site seems to be a loud scream at all that has gone wrong with the IPCC. If Mr Cook feels it necessary to spend as much time as he does on the topic, obviously he should be the first one to agree that the IPCC has been a communication failure.

(not that he’s really any better himself at that: by stating that “eventually, the scientific reality will be so in our faces that inaction will be impossible“, Cook is confirming that “the scientific realityis currently notso in our faces” as his scholarly lists of scientific papers appear to suggest)

The second reason I find Skeptical Science a disaster is that all it is ever going to tell us is that AGW is a self-consistent theory and there has been plenty of papers written on the topic. That can only highlight what will forever be missing: the science that was prevented to be published, the open questions, the competing claims within AGW orthodoxy.

In fact, one of the comments at dotEarth (#15) pretty much reveals the kind of person that would find the Skeptical Science site of high interest. The point is not to understand the world as it is, but to accumulate evidence for one’s own rationalization of what the world is presumed to be. Hence no space for any doubt whatsoever of any sort, not even for competing AGW interpretations, let alone for non-orthodox scientists (by definition, their work is “crap“).

Simplicius (*) would have been proud of that. “Science” it is not.

(*) the defender of the Aristotelian (geocentric) view of the world in Galileo’s “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems