Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The Painful Syndrome of the Embarrassing Advocate

Oh Dear

We have often been reminded of the preacher, whose sermon notes were found by the church cleaner.  Scribbled in the margin was this reminder, "Point is weak; shout loudly".  Those who know their case is unable to succeed without "shouting loudly" not only betray the impotence of their arguments, but demonstrate for all to see that, unable to persuade, they must resort to bludgeoning opponents into submission.  

And so it is that yet another academic arises to trumpet global warming most loudly.  Not only does he shout.  He calls for his opponents to be convicted as criminals.  The fact that this particular academic is no scientist, but a sociologist, make the matter even more risible.  His actions trumpet the weakness of his arguments.

For those who reject global warming (which our sociologist refers to as "climate change", that wonderfully vague term that has been used to cover over the weakness of the warmist case) the arrival of threats and intimidation is a clear milestone of how far the argument has swung in favour of anti-warmists.  Scepticism is growing more popular, it would seem.

But one thing you will not find.  You will not find global warming sceptics calling for their opponents to be indicted as criminals.  Why?  Because they believe far more deeply in the epistemology we call the scientific method, than many warmists.  The warmist folk have been more moved by the cause and the implicit cloak of self-righteousness it bestows on its embarrassing advocates, than upon research, experimentation, and debate.

Here is our would-be oppressor:

There is no greater crime being perpetuated on future generations than that committed by those who deny climate change. The scientific consensus is so overwhelming that to argue against it is to perpetuate a dangerous fraud. Denial has become a yardstick by which intelligence can be tested. The term climate sceptic is now interchangeable with the term mindless fool. [NZ Herald . Emphasis, ours.]
At this point, being the sociologist that he is, our embarrassing advocate,  Dr Jarrod Gilbert does what you would expect a sociologist to do.  He determines truth by doing surveys.  Well actually, he references a survey purported to be done by others.  The evidence is in, he grandiosely announces:
 Meta studies show that 97 per cent of published climate scientists agree that global warming is occurring and that it is caused by human activities. 
OK.  That's it then.  Ninety-seven percent of published climate scientists agree.  Global warming is occurring!  It is caused by "human activities".  Er.  What "meta study" is that?  Well, just go to Dr Google and enter "97 percent myth".  Done that?  Do you get the picture?

The "97ers" is a myth.  It's a hoax.  Here is Alex Epstein, writing in Forbes:

How do we know the 97% agree?  To elaborate, how was that proven?   Almost no one who refers to the 97% has any idea, but the basic way it works is that a researcher reviews a lot of scholarly papers and classifies them by how many agree with a certain position.  Unfortunately, in the case of 97% of climate scientists agreeing that human beings are the main cause of warming, the researchers have engaged in egregious misconduct.

One of the main papers behind the 97 percent claim is authored by John Cook, who runs the popular website SkepticalScience.com, a virtual encyclopedia of arguments trying to defend predictions of catastrophic climate change from all challenges.  Here is Cook’s summary of his paper: “Cook et al. (2013) found that over 97 percent [of papers he surveyed] endorsed the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause.”

This is a fairly clear statement—97 percent of the papers surveyed endorsed the view that man-made greenhouse gases were the main cause—main in common usage meaning more than 50 percent.

But even a quick scan of the paper reveals that this is not the case. Cook is able to demonstrate only that a relative handful endorse “the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause.” Cook calls this “explicit endorsement with quantification” (quantification meaning 50 percent or more). The problem is, only a small percentage of the papers fall into this category; Cook does not say what percentage, but when the study was publicly challenged by economist David Friedman, one observer calculated that only 1.6 percent explicitly stated that man-made greenhouse gases caused at least 50 percent of global warming.

Where did most of the 97 percent come from, then? Cook had created a category called “explicit endorsement without quantification”—that is, papers in which the author, by Cook’s admission, did not say whether 1 percent or 50 percent or 100 percent of the warming was caused by man. He had also created a category called “implicit endorsement,” for papers that imply (but don’t say) that there is some man-made global warming and don’t quantify it. In other words, he created two categories that he labeled as endorsing a view that they most certainly didn’t.

The 97 percent claim is a deliberate misrepresentation designed to intimidate the public—and numerous scientists whose papers were classified by Cook protested:

“Cook survey included 10 of my 122 eligible papers. 5/10 were rated incorrectly. 4/5 were rated as endorse rather than neutral.”
—Dr. Richard Tol

“That is not an accurate representation of my paper . . .”
—Dr. Craig Idso

“Nope . . . it is not an accurate representation.”
—Dr. Nir Shaviv

“Cook et al. (2013) is based on a strawman argument . . .”
—Dr. Nicola Scafetta

Think about how many times you hear that 97 percent or some similar figure thrown around. It’s based on crude manipulation propagated by people whose ideological agenda it serves. It is a license to intimidate.

It’s time to revoke that license.
So the "97 percent" myth  represents "egregious misconduct" but it continues to be employed as a "license to intimidate".  How deliciously ironic that we would find a sociologist  from the University of Canterbury proving this very point.  No wonder he wants his opponents branded, convicted, and treated as criminals.

When you point is weak--in this case based on intellectual fraud--SHOUT LOUDER.

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