Statistics

Propaganda Masquerading As Climate Science

If you are ignorant in a field, such as I am in ancient Peruvian pottery, you must look to purported authorities to settle disputes that might arise or for guidance in making decisions, should you be forced to.

Suppose you, being an impartial judge, were asked to settle whether a piece of pottery was authentically Moche pottery or a forgery. A not unwise program would be to gather the opinions of those who are supposed to be in-the-know, and then vote with the majority if there no clear idea who is right.

This strategy won’t guarantee accuracy, but it’s not nuts, and if you have chosen your would-be experts wisely, and they seemingly are disinterested in the outcome, it is the best way to bet.

So it isn’t strange that a large portion of the public, ignorant of the intricacies, would believe the fear-laden forecasts of global warming. In “the public” I include all those untrained in the formal sciences of the physics of fluid flow, computer modeling, statistics and the like, all necessary to grasp “climate change”.

“The public”, therefore, includes professors of “environmental studies”, who seem to be, more times than not, glorified journalists, whose jobs consist in summarizing the work of their betters. It’s a way to “do” science without having to do the hard work of learning it.

Take Max Boykoff, of the University of Colorado Boulder, who confirms this opinion in two of his “studies”, which are summaries of news reports, which are themselves summaries of the work of climate scientists. Another journalist summarizes all this thusly:

A study out this week found that 90 percent of media coverage accurately represented the scientific consensus that human activity is driving global warming, looking at thousands of articles from 2005 to 2019. That’s a sharp change from the last comparable study in 2004, when researchers discovered that more than half of articles treated dissenting opinions as equally valid.

Boykoff is the “researcher” in both cases. He said “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.”

Well, now, not to be unkind, but how does Boykoff know this? The same way you and I know about disputes in ancient Peruvian pottery. From those purporting to know the subjects themselves.

There turns out to be politics about Peruvian pottery. Seems some white supremacists made off with some of it way back when and installed it in various gringo museums. The now-alive Peruvians want it back. Should they get it? Hold that question in mind and re-suppose we’re asked to settle the authenticity of a piece that may or may not have to be ejected from the museum and shipped Peruward.

It now becomes difficult to know whether our experts are giving us their full and fair opinions on the matter. Are they shading their statements, or, even more likely, omitting crucial information, so that they get what they want? Uncertainty abounds.

Pottery is easier than global warming because the amounts of money and politics are trivial in comparison. We’ve seen innumerable examples of shaded and shady opinions, more then plenty of omission (where were all the official climatologists calling out Al Gore’s nonsense, for example). We also see what is rarer in antiquities: fake experts and fake science. People trying to get in on the latest “thing”.

And, finally, we have actual Experts who have fallen down on the job. For instance, “Boykoff also pointed to advances in attribution science, which can link extreme weather events to climate change, and the growing visibility of amped-up wildfires, heat waves, and other wild weather.”

It really is odd how scientists value these so-called attribution studies, when their critical flaws are so easy to see. Why this is so is, however, a subject for another time.

What we have here is the same kind of thing we have in the coronadoom panic. A person passing himself off as an Expert, lecturing the world on “the” science, “the” only correct opinion, judging “accuracy” by how well statements accord with “the” consensus, and in failing to understand shortcomings, criticisms, and failures in the field.

Boykoff’s “work” adds zero to any understanding of the actual uncertainties, and certainties, of global cooling (or warming). It has no value of any kind in science. At the very best, and being our most charitable, it catalogs current media opinion that may some day be of use to historians.

Things like this only serve to pressure folks into espousing “correct” opinions, whether they believe them or not, and whether they are true or not. It is propaganda.

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Categories: Statistics

15 replies »

  1. How does one ‘masquerade’ as something so manifestly fake as a climate ‘scientist’?

    Surely the whole field of ‘climate science’ is just a bunch of career bureaucrats providing whatever kind of numerical data their paymasters are asking-for today?

  2. Briggs: ”What we have here is the same kind of thing we have in the coronadoom panic.”

    That “thing” being a bogus bogeyman with which to terrify gullible rubes into compliance with a totalitarian political agenda promoted by mass-murdering monsters hopped up on hubris and money.

  3. I’ve been waiting for a good opportunity to ask this question (maybe the last Coronadoom article might have been a better place, I dunno). But here goes.

    Is there a named Fallacy of Logic for the automatic dismissal of “conspiracy theory”? Or even one of those cool eponymous laws about it? Or does what I’m asking fall under another Fallacy or law?

    I ask, because more and more we’re seeing any criticism of government, the establishment, media, academia, etc merely dismissed (or worse, outright censored) by labeling it as “conspiracy theory”.

    Certainly there are foolish conspiracy theories out there (flat earth, moon landing is a hoax, Jews are interdenominational lizard people, etc) but there are also accusations of wrongdoing by the powerful that have turned out to be true (The Gulf of Tonkin, “Remember the Maine”, The Tuskegee Syphilis experiment, Government poisoning alcohol during prohibition, tobacco companies hid the dangers of their product, MKUltra, etc). But if we automatically label anything that remotely sniffs of “conspiracy theory” as “Misinformation” and censor it (or worse), then actual wrongdoing can be easily hidden by the elites and we can’t explore real solutions to the world’s problems.

    It would be nice if when people do this you could slap them with a quick “You’re engaging in the doobidlydoo fallacy” or “You’re running afoul of Goober’s Law” than have to explain that sometimes the establishment does bad things and then lies about it.

  4. It isn’t strange when through all of history, humans have proven themselves stupid sheep who will believe most anything. That’s why marketing works so well. Idiots will buy anything. (As Hagfish so elegantly points out.)

    What we have here is GREED, a quality of humans that has existed since the beginning of humans. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s just that “expert” gets more money now, whereas with the First People, being the medicine man got more perks. Whatever works to increase the greed and selfishness of the masses. It’s all this ever was. Since humans are basically idiots, greed can thrive with anyone willing to exploit mankind for cash. (If you doubt people are idiots, watch advertising for one whole day. I guarantee you’ll see that people are too stupid to cut their own food up, belief that beet juice is magical, that copper is healing, and many other things that are incredibly gullible and stupid.)

    Briggs keeps complaining there is no science in any of this. THERE IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ANY REAL SCIENCE. Briggs would have made a really crappy con man……

  5. Zundfolge: The problem is BOTH sides will claim the fallacy. Like the Dunning-Kruger effect where the person lecturing someone on suffering from said effect was actually the one suffering from the effect (I saw it in climate “science” all the time) . There is no easy way to explain a conspiracy and there is no fallacy in a conspiracy theory per se. What you are really seeing in the ultimate in projection and intimidation by a tyrannical government and for that the cures are very messy and complex. Create a fallacy for conspiracy and the government will simply find a new word to intimidate with. I wish there was a simple way to fix this, but no, there is not.

  6. “What we have here is the same kind of thing we have in the coronadoom panic. A person passing himself off as an Expert, lecturing the world on “the” science, “the” only correct opinion, judging “accuracy” by how well statements accord with “the” consensus, and in failing to understand shortcomings, criticisms, and failures in the field.”

    As an engineer, I absolutely abhor the term “consensus”. I find the mere mention of it to be repugnant and to go against everything my profession, education and training demands. The use of it is the very definition of the absence of scientific enquiry and proof, and instead a reliance on “belief” or “opinion”. In my entire career, I have never come across a “consensus” that could not be scientifically investigated, defined and resolved, were it not for the sheer laziness and arrogance of those involved in promulgating it.

    I would argue that consensus and science are mutually exclusive realms; in direct opposition to one another – which says a lot about the climate change/warming/etc movement.

  7. Today the risk/reward relationship is strongly favouring the so called consensus view. To the degree that having the “wrong” view even could put one’s lifelihood at risk. It takes a strong character to withstand the pressure. And on the other hand your career can easily be thriving without any merit. Very tempting for weak characters to feed their ego by being an “expert”

  8. I found the emphasis on “consensus” in science disgusting back in the early 80s. I suspected politics, akin to Lysenko and others before my time. The science teachers and engineers I knew were very rigorous about testing and considering “how am I getting this wrong?, then propagate the errors”, for it is quite easy to fool oneself first. Then, if you are evil, use that to seem sincere when fooling others.

  9. cdquarles, the word “consensus” is a purely political word, not a scientific one. You were right to be suspicious of it.

    Science is a process; “The” Science is a religion.

    Phil, I’d read the paper, but those things are real expensive to download :p

  10. Ganderson: That’s a great essay, his book ‘State of Fear’ is a real eye opener as well,
    it was way ahead of it’s time and even more topical today.

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