Home » Uncategorized » Congressional Climate Expert Judith Curry Follows Same Pattern, Excoriates Science – My Response

Congressional Climate Expert Judith Curry Follows Same Pattern, Excoriates Science – My Response

Sunday (July 5) Georgia Tech School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Professors and sometimes Congressional climate “expert” Judith Curry published another piece on her popular and influential climate skeptic blog – one castigating Marcia McNutt, the editor of Science, for publishing an editorial therein on climate change that called for action.

The following is a response to Curry (which was also originally written as a comment to the piece itself, and edited a bit here for clarity):


Judy Curry,

You make a remarkable number of presumptions in your piece, and in so doing engage in far more manipulation and game playing than McNutt ever did. [Edit: This is a bad line. Curry is likely not trying to manipulate, although as with much rhetoric today the piece accomplishes exactly that. Game playing also implies intent, which is also likely absent.]

I don’t support the “debate is over” language here – it can convey something very different, and far too easily manipulated, from what it really means. But the debate to which she specifically refers is a false one in the first place.

That you don’t see that, and write any type of argument possible to perpetuate the belief or claim that long term climate isn’t being significantly altered by man, or that it’s not being impacted in such a way as to cause a relevant risk range of major climatic shifting, is part of what perpetuates the circular catch-22 of closed loop “logic” that goes on here. As is, similarly, the use of any argument or semantics possible to refute the fact that the overwhelming majority of climate scientists also recognize this.

4. Nor is that stifling “debate.” Just because you want to or have convinced yourself you believe something and others say there is a consensus (right or wrong) that contradicts it, is not stifling debate. But the claim asserting otherwise, let alone in the inflammatory and greatly science impugning manner in which it is often written and found here, is also part of the wordsmith, rhetorical, semantic if unrecognized “game playing” that goes on to play every card possible, even many imagined ones, to reinforce and perpetuate the same old notions.

5. Regarding those notions, it’s somewhat of a stretch,  to borderline nonsensical, to think a multi million year increase to earth’s long term chemical atmospheric energy recapture wouldn’t ultimately significantly impact earth, and the overall trailing data and signs of effect (not just air temperature but the total picture) corroborates almost inescapable common sense on the issue even further. (Though even that is misrepresented and cherry picked apart by “skeptics” and this site, and such sense escapes.)

6. There is also no evidence to support such a notion: Aside from basic issue miscontruction, unrecognized broad brush and irrelevant philosophical semantics, or scientific tautology, there isn’t a single cohesive or rational theory why such a multi million year and ongoing long term atmospheric energy recapture shift wouldn’t ultimately significantly impact earth or, to hone it down further, present a relevant risk range of moderate (if highly unlikely), to severe alteration.

Let alone of course one that would simultaneously and rationally explain the highly “coincidental” pattern of just such signs of long term change as would be expected, though it’s obvious (or perhaps not) exactly what would happen can not be precisely predicted in advance. (Yet another concept falsely conflated with the idea that climate scientists are therefore “wrong” on the basic issue.) And let alone how those signs could be explained as bizarre “coincidence” at the very same time a thus multi million year shift in earth’s long term molecular energy capture would nevertheless not be affecting earth itself.

You falsely turn almost everything into something it is not. Sure there are issues with the editorial, but editors have the right to write editorials. Your conclusion that therefore papers that show climate change to be less or not real won’t be published (if one that doesn’t badly mangle the issue even exists), is specious.

“Debate over” or not – although it’s still not clear what debate ever existed, as the issue is the same as it has been for 30 years, just a lot more corroboration has rolled in, and emissions added – science thrives on challenge and contrary theories and illustration of basic mistake.

Such a paper, since they are rare on climate change (in fact, apart from making basic mistake themselves they practically don’t exist for the same reasons expressed above – i.e., there is nothing to support the ‘skeptic” position expressed here but misconstrued and cherry picked attacks upon climate science), could even get preferential treatment or a wider “berth” in the name of what science is. Even more so because if something suggested climate change to be less significant overall, that would be GOOD news.

You can guess otherwise, but you are basically saying that because she wrote what you think is a bad editorial Science is likely now jaded against actual relevant science in its papers. That’s a big leap, and a little spurious.

14. But what you do is far more, and it’s something you’re extremely good at. You twist all of this into something that it’s not; and in the process demolish any decent points to temper the way the challenge of climate change is communicated (indeed your hostility toward it and support of such hostility prompts such editorials, born of frustration, as McNutt’s), in the process.

15. You give credit to a highly hyperbolic, borderline libel, “Digging into Clay” and highly manipulative graphic – the irony of this being stated by a skeptic in reference to climate scientists rather than numerous leading skeptics is somewhat remarkable, but par for the course – and then come up with one that is even more misleading yourself: For it uses semantics again to twist what is really happening, and fit it into your own extreme formulation (for which your minions here and in our half anti science Congress are so grateful and look to you for guidance that you might never realize that despite some good work you’re egregiously, fundamentally wrong on this issue, and thus “let them down”), to continue to cling to heavily one sided beliefs and perceptions on this issue.

To wit, here’s what you suggest as Science and science’s plausible direction, fitting your own self-reinforcing formulation on climate change where dismissing disparaging or disagreeing with climate scientists is debate and all A okay.  But where dismissing disparaging or disagreeing with climate change skeptics on the other hand is not, but is instead very different. (Also conveniently ignoring how some of your more hard core cohorts, and sometimes yourself through implication, call climate change redress a “threat to the world” and worse.):
“Appeal to authority
Absence of doubt
Intolerance of debate
Desire to convince others of the ideological ‘truth’
Willingness to punish those that don’t concur”

You undermine any legitimate such concerns by exaggerating and largely (and ironically) misapplying it. “They don’t like my point of view [let alone your pattern of fundamental construction errors] so science is bad and wants to quash views and punish people for views” and here’s a frustrated editorial by the editor of Science ineloquently expressing the basic consensus that keeps getting misrepresented by skeptics, “so I’ll use it as an excuse to bad mouth science, Science, and climate scientists again and re support the common meme that there’s real scientific debate among climate scientists as to whether our actions have altered (and will keep altering) the earth in a way that is and likely will increasingly impact climate and it’s being unfairly and anti scientifically quashed…

….Because that’s what we need to believe to continue being skeptics rather than just focusing on the merits of our arguments relative to the real science, and maybe getting some papers published in the (now of course, conveniently ideological) science magazines that show how the earth’s fairy Godmothers will micromanage basic physics so our Goldilocks climate under which we evolved – and despite a massive multi million year dump to earth’s basic insulation layer – stays “just right” for us humans and the things upon which we rely.”

19. You are using the “authority is not always right” canard to get around the relevant facts in instances where leading experts (in an overwhelming consensus despite your rhetoric and misrepresentation on that as well) are essentially right, when you don’t want to accept or understand why, or are clinging to things to render yourself incapable of seeing it.

20. There is plenty of doubt. The doubt is different from the mistakes, misrepresentations, and circular logic raised and used by skeptics, however, and involves the ongoing process of learning more and more fine detail about this issue and its accumulating effects and correcting, adjusting, learning process of science. You conflate the two because you don’t see these mistakes, misrepresentations and circular logic, as they support your “view.” (One which, to boot, “just happens” to be right in this instance and most climate scientists “wrong,” at least according to your logic. Which would be fine if your reasons why they were wrong didn’t themselves represent a cherry picking, semantic rhetoric, and basic issue misconstruing approach.)

And this leads to the third: “Intolerance of debate.” Skeptics can say anything they want, even (as leading magazine NRO did) call Michael Mann the science equivalent of child molestor (remarkable zealotry to even fathom by the way.) Yet pointing out the errors of skeptics, and or disagreeing, or even using rhetoric back, is suddenly being “intolerant of debate.”

22. It reminds one of Fox news – ironic since I understand you are not a big fan? – which alleges nearly anything it wants, then when anything is shown that disagrees or shows mistakes or takes a different perspective that is unflattering to Fox, it’s “quashing debate”: Debate suddenly meaning “support me, and don’t say things I don’t want to hear: yet not only don’t those rules, but no rules whatsoever apply to things we say, because ‘that’s different.'”

I grant you there’s a tendency on the part of some concerned with climate change to sometimes use a tenor of intolerance for skeptics, in large part because of much of this same inane and issue twisting rhetoric (and attacks upon everyone else while rhetorically turning even disagreement and argument into “quashing” discussion), and in part because they (sadly) can’t really believe that skeptics really “believe” what they say. It’s human nature. But it’s just these types of responses as your piece above, and the need to constantly twist the issue and impugn almost everyone not on your side (as I have been nearly every time I have responded here) that then produces exactly what you complain about.

I also agree mistakes are made by those concerned about the issue which shows an insensitivity, a lack of empathy, to those who really think climate change is overblown, and are inundated with so much self reinforcing misinformation and rhetoric (such as here, particularly in the comments, and elsewhere) in a largely self selected “news” world. But for the skeptic to understand that, the skeptic has to first understand the fundamental mistake and pattern of misinformation (or irrelevant information made through issue misconstruction and rhetoric to sound relevant) that so called and ironically labeled climate change skepticism requires, in which case one would no longer be a skeptic.

(The term “skeptic” by the way is more than a little ironic because skepticism is the opposite in this case, consisting instead of a belief — with no basis but to instead misconstrue and attack climate science and one-sidedly cherry pick things like this McNutt editorial — while it of course oddly labels the idea that a massive energy shift would affect what’s basically ultimately a long term cumulative expression of energy (climate) as itself a belief rather than scientific reason.)

But those are different issues, and a problem in climate change communication; they do not go to the heart of, or have anything to do with, the actual assessment of this geophysical issue and the risk ranges it presents and why. (Though they do keep people from being able to assess it better.) And they normally pale in comparison to the hostility and projection that emanates from the skepticism side of climate change, which to boot, has the basic underlying issue fundamentally wrong, and remains intransigent to (and in some cases seemingly incapable of) open-mindedly contemplating why.

27. I’m 100% with you on “intolerance for debate” being a bad thing. But I’m 0% with you on your unrecognized conflation of dismissing the relevancy of incorrect climate skeptic arguments (though I think they should be pointed out instead), pointing out mistakes, or offering frustrated views, with “intolerance for,” or “quashing of” debate – yet that is exactly what you do, do here, and do on every piece that raises or touches on this issue (and many of yours do).

28. Your 4th alleged sin was the desire to convince others of an ideological truth. Is that not what skeptics are doing on something which is not ideological, but science, or pure geophysical assessment, and logic? As well as on all of the underlying “ideas” driving most skepticism, such as the enormous (if not hysterical) presumption that producing the “good” of less pollution, ending reliance on foreign oil, and mitigation of long term geologically radical atmospheric alteration is somehow itself not of real value, unlike all the silly things we DO do that contribute to GDP, and even though the production of alternative energy and agricultural processes and practices is itself as valid a component of GDP, growth and jobs as anything else.

You also conflate the words of a few with what, to conveniently cling to “skepticism” you assign to anyone concerned about climate change, namely the imposition of some otherwise unrelated ideology, and then the expression of belief of that ideology. This is once again more of the semantic pattern of anything but an open objective look at the actual issue and not cherry picked items and rhetoric to reinforce the “skeptic” belief.

Your last is the creation of a red herring (if I am using that correctly) and then acting as if your conjecture is reality; a willingness to “punish.”

Some people utter some foolish statements on this, and I point it out when I see it. But it’s the exception not the rule. And most of even these are misrepresented or taken out of context (and again often highly cherry picked). While again, this is done to reinforce the self sealing nature of climate change “skepticism,” that: “see, if we don’t agree they want to punish us” in order to fit into the imaginary (but believed) meme that simple engagement back, even on a less hostile level than many skeptic sites and leaders engage, and so forth, is “quashing views,” and pointing out errors or dismissing rhetoric is “intolerance for debate.”

32. The irony is that to the extent this becomes more ideological on the skeptic side (to perpetuate the belief pretty much regardless of what points are made and even ongoing accumulation of corroborating data rolls in, the very things skeptics worry about only increase in likelihood – stupid rules out of panic at some point in the future, due to horribly misinformed, ideological and semantic game playing “assessment” earlier, as well as more and more dismissiveness of skeptics as people who “know full well they are wrong but are lying because they are selfish” (assessments I don’t generally agree with). Which in turn only further self seals in the tautological circle of logic and perception that, to cling to skepticism, is created and being perpetuated here in the name of ‘debate.’ But which is far from it.

33. It’s misinformation, it’s issue miscontruction, it’s demonizing, it’s castigation, its excessive rhetoric and semantic cherry picking, all because the “belief” that simply stopping dirty polluting fuels and using clean ones, etc., is some sort of bad thing, and thus that the main issue prompting it (aside from the pollution aspect) – so called “climate change” or the far more accurate “radical long term atmospheric alteration” therefore isn’t real, that big of a deal, or is fundamentally unclear. And thus refuse to see what is, and use every trick in the book (again, here’s a classic but typical one), to continue to believe what one has already been “convinced” of or wants to believe, as a way to avoid the real debate – and what should be being focused on: What does this risk range really present, and what are the best possible, most pro employment opportunity, choice, low mandate approaches to our need to collectively tackle this simple yet fairly gargantuan thing we’ve a bit improvidently done; namely, radically change the long term nature of the atmosphere (that we’re still massively adding to), through processes we’ve become a bit habituated to but that for the most part don’t make a lot of sense.

34. But skeptics think that these things “do make sense,” don’t want to “give them up” (even when totally market oriented such as through a C tax and minor regulation so through choice better mechanisms become more beneficial and shift our economy to a more sensible direction), and so therefore convince themselves that the otherwise completely unrelated geophysical reality, isn’t what almost every single climate scientist studying this (itself again misrepresented) says, the total picture of ongoing earth system changes strongly corroborates, and common sense suggests.

And rational discussion becomes lost. Often, under the believed guise of it.


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