Combating the growing influence of climate sceptics


A fascinating new study commissioned by Oxfam and produced by digital mapping agency Profero has shed new insights into the way climate sceptics’ networks operate. The study’s conclusions, as yet unpublished but seen by Left Foot Forward, were presented to a closed meeting of campaigners on Wednesday night.

Profero’s study analysed online coverage of the “Climategate” debacle that broke last November, tracking its progress from fringe blogs to mainstream media outlets over the ensuing weeks and months.

CC-Networks-small

Tracing the online paper trail back to its source, the researchers concluded that:

• The ‘Climategate’ story was first aired on climate denier blog The Air Vent, before wending its way onto more popular sceptic sites Climate Audit and Watts Up With That, and then featured by James Delingpole in his Daily Telegraph blog – whose followers propagated it further;

• From thereon in, the story was picked up by a wide range of media outlets, and went global –the culmination of a concerted effort to push it into the mainstream;

The timing of the CRU email leak was calculated to have maximum impact on the Copenhagen negotiations, with the second wave of sceptic attacks after Christmas deliberately timed for when the environmental movement was at its weakest, exhausted from the UN talks; and

• The speed of information flow within the sceptic community, with its rapid publication of sceptical “research”, is far quicker than any scientist or NGO could hope to match – and handily unencumbered by peer review or sign-off processes.

This meant that because almost no-one from the climate movement responded to or rebutted the sceptics’ arguments, they ended up owning the story.

This allowed them to shift what political theorists call the “Overton Window”: the acceptable parameters within which a debate can be conducted. Suddenly after Climategate, it became acceptable for the mainstream media to question the fundamentals of climate science.

As cognitive linguist George Lakoff has written, if you don’t contol the way an issue is framed, you don’t control the debate. Climate progressives allowed this episode to be written on the sceptics’ terms. The result? A sizeable drop in the public’s belief in climate change (although the freezing winter may also have played a part in this).

Profero’s study then looked at the character of the online climate sceptic networks that permitted this information flow. It discovered that the sceptic community is extraordinarily well-networked and interwoven, with sites like Climate Audit and Climate Depot acting as hubs for a wide range of other individual pundits and bloggers. (And no, I’m not going to give these sites free publicity by linking to them.) Of the top five most linked-to climate commentators, four are climate sceptics.

The one exception was Guardian columnist George Monbiot, who was also the only significant voice countering the sceptics during the whole Climategate debacle. “I have seldom felt so alone,” he wrote early on in the scandal, with justification – Oxfam’s study shows that almost no-one bothered to back him up in defending the integrity of the science.

In many ways, the tactics revealed by Profero are not new. They were first tried and tested by American neo-cons in the 1970s long before the internet became a tool for campaigning. What is new is that the patterns of activity are now traceable, which means that the progressive response to climate scepticism can be more strategic – that is, if we listen to the findings.

Indeed, the reports’ insights should give pause for thought to progressives contemplating the strength of their own networks. Stuart Conway, the study’s co-author, declared simply that “there are no progressive networks” – just hubs of activity here and there, lacking interconnection. Whilst a number of blogs buck this trend – honourable mentions include Treehugger and, yes, Left Foot Forward – the pro-environmental community as a whole lacks brio and responsiveness.

It’s not that there we don’t have the numbers: it’s more than we’re not using our numbers effectively. NGOs, notably, were nowhere to be seen during the debate. Whilst there were some good reasons for this – NGOs feared they would be simply seen as “the usual suspects” in rebutting deniers – this clearly left a vacuum that needed filling by an activist community.

After presentation of the study, discussion moved onto filling that vacuum: how we can better combat sceptic networks and strengthen our own. The discussions ranged far and wide, and I’d love to tell you some of the creative ideas discussed, but you’ll have to watch this space…

For now, though, let me close with a challenge for progressive readers: one of the study’s more obvious conclusions was how effective climate sceptics are at commenting on forums, posting stock arguments, and linking back to sceptic sites. This is unsurprising for anyone who has ever trawled through comments left behind after any climate change article. By the time you read this, there will doubtless be sceptical comments posted beneath this blog, too.

So here’s what I’d like you to do:

• Read the comments, and if you notice any that cast doubt on the validity of climate science, post a response, be polite and use facts;

• You might like to make use of the handy checklist of arguments to counter deniers over at Skeptical Science;

• Link to some of the dirt dug up on sceptics’ funding by SourceWatch; or

• Refer to the discussions at RealClimate and Climate Safety.

Oh, and remember to check out James Delingpole’s column at the Telegraph. If any of it makes you angry, you might like to let him know. Did I say be polite? Scratch that.

UPDATE 23/3:

Profero, the digital mapping agency behind the Oxfam report have posted a message on their website. They say:

“We’re really excited that people are taking an interest in what we do and hats off to LeftFootForward for getting the scoop on this piece of work but we’d like to clarify what’s being discussed (most of the conversations focus upon a visual representation of some of the key conversations in the form of a landscape map) as it should be understood in the context of an entire report (120 pages or so) which hasn’t been made public.

“The report as a whole applies our own bespoke models and frameworks to both quantitative and qualitative data in order to bring to the surface complex dynamics and issues which would otherwise pass un-noticed if an automated technological monitoring solution had been used in isolation.”

This entry was posted in Left Foot Forward, Movement Politics. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
  • http://minkomi.com Dan Brown

    @JamieA Your right Jamie, it is about who to trust. But why not research it ourselves or at least know the methods that were used? That is surely the way we can best make up our own mind.

    I find it hard to believe anything scientific without access to the methods used. If those methods seem logical to me, then I will believe it. What I decide for myself doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things though, does it?

    @Ged Barker ‘Ostrich’ is slightly better than ‘denialist’ but it’s still name calling.

  • http://twitter.com/edshearon/status/10874128839 Ed Shearon

    RT @huntingtonlane: RT @BeThatChange: Article on climate deniers and how their networks spread nonsense http://bit.ly/9HtAty #climategate

  • http://oxfordkevin.carbonclimate.org Oxford Kevin

    Dan,

    If you have access to a decent University Library, and you should be able to visit without being a student, then this paper describes amongst other things the procedures and justifications for normalizing the data.

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2006/2005JD006548.shtml

    Or you could look at the GISS Temperature series by NASA. Their raw data are publicly available, the methodology and their justifications for their methodology are published in a peer reviewed journal and publicly available, the software for making the adjustments are publicly available and their final results are publicly available. All this has been available for a number of years. They give very similar results to CRUTemp but have differences, the most dramatic being that 2005 is the warmest year in their temperature series not 1998 as the CRU Temperature series shows. You can visit NASA Giss Temp site here: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/

    As to name calling, I’m very careful when I use the term denier, but I believe there are times when it accurately describes someone. For example when a blogger writes a piece that implies that a scientist is fraudulent/corrupt based on information that is publicly available, and when they are informed of the context showing that no fraud or corruption has happened and they do not update their original piece implying said fraud then at that point I have no compunction at calling them a denier.

    Kevin

  • http://minkomi.com Dan Brown

    @Oxford Kevin Thanks for the links, I’ve requested the article by email.

    Your right about denier sometimes being the right description, but it’s the blanket use of the name for anyone disagreeing that I have a problem with.

    I’m led by the facts available to me alone and my view changes when I have more facts. This discussion has helped me get a better understanding of the subject and now I’m back on the fence.

    Thanks to everyone who has patiently discussed this with me.

  • http://twitter.com/debdebdubdub/status/10876088774 Deborah Grayson

    @guyshrubsole nice one Guy – check out the truth about Climategate… http://bit.ly/doQ9X8

  • http://twitter.com/debdebdubdub/status/10876151458 Deborah Grayson

    @robinince great article about Climategate – please RT! http://bit.ly/doQ9X8

  • http://twitter.com/yellif/status/10876922136 Daniele Fiandaca

    Nice work Profero and SML RT @leftfootfwd: Combating the growing influence of climate sceptics http://cli.gs/NEhyE

  • http://twitter.com/tashaharrison/status/10877272788 TashaHarrison

    RT @leftfootfwd: Combating the growing influence of climate sceptics http://cli.gs/NEhyE

  • http://twitter.com/mrpaulmills/status/10879212173 Paul Mills

    RT @BeThatChange: Really interesting piece on climate deniers and how their networks spread nonsense so effectively http://bit.ly/9HtAty PLS RT

  • Rajan Alexander

    “Combating the growing influence of climate skeptics”. The title is telling of the contents of the report that followed. It is a confirmation that climate alarmist are on the defensive. Nowhere is this defensive best illustrative than the comments – “And no, I’m not going to give these (skeptic) sites free publicity by linking to them.”

    Oxfam delude themselves that it is all about tactics and strategies alarmists and skeptics. On one has ever won a war with a defensive mindset is what climate alarmist should appreciate. The next question is why they are defensive? It needs more courage on the part of Oxfam to admit that the climate alarmist have lost credibility. The simple truth is that together with the loss of credibility is the demoralization of their cadres and the fact that climate alarmist are facing an increasingly hostile media and public opinion.

    No amount of media tactical or strategical revisions are going to wish away the present environment faced by climate alarmists. For that credibility in their science must be restored. Whitewash investigations of the IPCC and the CRU in this respect will only end up turning the tide increasingly in the favour of climate skeptics.

  • Pingback: The Blackboard » Climategate communication network?()

  • Steven Mosher

    There are missing some facts in how the story got out and actually some facts about how it didnt get out.

    The actual Timeline is on ClimateAudit.org in a post called the mosher timeline.

    Short version:

    On Nov 17 the LINK to the file on the russian server was placed at several locations: At climate audit in
    the morning where it was ignored ( too cleverly hidden) and then later that evening the link
    was placed at the air vent ( no consensus) at RomanM’s stats blog, and at WUWT.

    At WUWT the link was intercepted by my Roommate Charles Rotter who moderates the site. He downloaded the files, made a CD, and gave them to me to vet. The vetting process went on for two days. During that two days nobody saw the link at the Airvent or other places. After two days of reading through the files and cross checking facts in them, I learned that UAE had informed employees that there had been a security breech and that files had been posted on the internet. A check of the UAE/CRU server configuration confirmed this.

    The Link was being held in moderation at WUWT because the owner of the blog was concerned about the validity of the files. he was also concerned about entrapment. With the knowledge that I had obtained from reading the files and the notice from UAE about the breech I was able to say that the files looked real and that no trap was being set. Then on the morning of Nov 17th I went looking for other references to the Link and found the
    Link posted at the airvent. I emailed the owner. I then posted about this Link on “rank exploits” The owner of that blog, a friend, then wrote a short article on it within minutes. I then notified andrew revkin, a facebook friend, shortly after noon. He was mentioned in the mails and thought he should get a scoop. That lead was not followed.

    You can also read about it in Climategate: the crutape letters.

    For grins Lucia has done this

    http://rankexploits.com/musings/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Mosher.jpg

  • Steven Mosher

    Correction: Morning of the 19th

  • Scott B

    How about simply being honest to others and treating people with respect? This post sounds like some PR campaign instructions. That alone is enough for me roll my eyes and not believe a word that comes out of the author’s keyboard. If I have comments or questions to post about climate change, I simply post them. I don’t refer to some PR guide. To point out a couple of issues I have here:

    “because almost no-one from the climate movement responded to or rebutted the sceptics’ arguments, they ended up owning the story”

    I don’t agree. The response to climategate was the same as have been made to most other skeptic points. RealClimate basically said there was nothing to see except scientists working. The problem this time was that since the issues exposed didn’t require any high level of technical knowledge to understand, even the MSM could see that this was not a completely honest answer.

    ““there are no progressive networks” – just hubs of activity here and there, lacking interconnection.”

    At least when it comes to climate change (obviously not health care or our financial issues) the progressive network is the MSM. I’m not sure what the size of those bubbles represent, but by most any measurement (especially money and power) the ones on the right side should dwarf the ones on the left. The only bubbles that could even be close to considered mainstream on the left side of the chart are a couple of British papers.

    “So here’s what I’d like you to do:

    • Read the comments, and if you notice any that cast doubt on the validity of climate science, post a response, be polite and use facts;

    • You might like to make use of the handy checklist of arguments to counter deniers over at Skeptical Science;

    • Link to some of the dirt dug up on skeptics’ funding by SourceWatch; or

    • Refer to the discussions at RealClimate and Climate Safety.”

    1. Sounds good. Hopefully people will follow it. (BTW, “denier” = not polite)
    2. Good idea too. Some of you might want to focus on clearing up some of the questions in the comments to these stock rebuttals though. Again, since the polite point was obviously lost here, denier = not nice. Well, unless you think the conservatives calling you unpatriotic for supporting useless wars was nice. Same exact tactic.
    3. Typical shoot the messenger argument. How about discussing the merits of the argument? The supporter’s side of this is going to lose any money arguments made. Also, anyone with a brain that is still undecided is going to see through it.
    4. Can’t say I know much about Climate Safety, but you might want to be careful using RealClimte. If a person has any sympathy to the issues around climategate, sending them to the PR site for the same people involved probably won’t win too many points with the undecided. I’d suggest treating people like adults and giving them specific papers to read.

  • http://noconsensus.wordpress.com Jeff Id

    The graph and description of the Air Vent are screwed up. First tAV is not a denialist blog, it’s run by an evil conservative which is completely different. Second, it has no links to or association with nofrakkingconsensus before cliamtegate although recently I copied one of her posts with permission.

    Actually just switching the balls around between nofrakking and tAV would fix a fair chunk of the error but Lucia of the blackboard never heard of nofrakkingconsensus before this post.

    You would think that a group analyzing the release of climategate emails would at least ask a question by email. Nope!

    Most of my traffic is (and was) from CA, WUWT, Bishop Hill and Lucias blog, the blackboard. We’re all skeptics/lukewarmers to my knowledge but I’ll let them define themselves.

  • http://amac1.blogspot.com/ AMac

    “So here’s what I’d like you to do:

    • Read the comments, and if you notice any that cast doubt on the validity of climate science, post a response, be polite and use facts.”

    – – – – –

    That’s an excellent idea. I think it would add to public insight into paleoclimate reconstructions (i.e. the “Hockey Stick”) if supporters of the AGW Consensus wuld address the issues that have been raised regarding Prof. Mann’s use of Lake Korttajarvi lakebed sediment data series — the “Tiljander proxies.”

    Here are two questions that address this point, along with my own answers. Googling combinations of the obvious terms will bring up links to informative references.

    Question #1. — Can the educated layperson discover an instance where a prominent validation of the Hockey Stick should be rejected, because it clearly is based on major, obvious, and uncorrected errors?

    Answer #1. — Yes. The calibration and Upside-Down use of the Tiljander proxies by Prof. Michael Mann’s research group in the high-impact, peer-reviewed journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA” (“PNAS”) in 2008.

    Question #2. — Are the self-correction mechanisms of science operating properly in the discipline of paleoclimatology?

    Answer #2. — No. AGW Consensus scientists and advocates have rallied around Prof. Mann in public. AGW Consensus science-bloggers at “RealClimate.org”, “Stoat”, and elsewhere have endorsed the Mann group’s use of the Tiljander proxies. Climategate emails by Darrell Kaufman and Nick McKay reveal what some AGW Consensus scientists have said about this, in private.

    In “Cargo Cult Science”, physicist Richard Feynman famously pointed out that the scientific process is always vulnerable — scientists are all-too-human. Is that relevant in this instance? Should the public hesitate to accept “Hockey Stick” reconstructions at face value?

  • Steven Mosher

    On the identification of people’s beliefs.

    Lucia of rank exploits believes in Global Warming and is self classified as a Luke Warmer
    JeffId of Airvent believes in global warming: I haven’t directly asked him if he is a Lukewarmer,
    But I’ve never seen him deny radiative physics
    Steven McIntyre believes in global warming, his principle question is an accounting one: How much
    and how was it calculated. I’ve never seen him deny radiative physics.
    I am a Lukewarmer. That means I believe in radiative physics ( More GHGs will raise temperatures)

    Part of the problem, as I diagnosed in our book, with the climate scientists is that they responded to people like Mcintyre as if they were part of the skeptic community. Their responses to me and my FOIA requests were predicated on a belief that I am part of some conspiracy or group or network of skeptics. Similarly with others such as david Holland. This belief and the strategies it engendered is what caused their behavior and that behavior is what led to the release of the files. If they had seen McIntyre and others for what they really were, individuals with particular hobby horses ( like auditing records) Then much if not all of the affair could have been avoided. Simply: if they had sent McIntyre the data, data they sent freely to other researchers, the whole affair could have been avoided. But they could not bring themselves to send it to McIntyre. They viewed him as a part of a larger network. Much the same way that now people are viewing Lucia and JeffID as part of that network.

    So, just for the record: I believe in AGW. I believe in Radiative physics. I am no skeptic. I talk to skeptics. It’s called dialog. We share certain values: openness and transparency. They let me post on their blogs even though I disagree with their skepticism. In contrast, On RealClimate, a blog that presents science that I largely agree with my comments are routinely blocked.

    The problem that people dont see is this. When people accuse me and Lucia and jeffId and SteveMc of being skeptics or of being part of a network, we just laugh. More importantly, whoever does this loses all credibility with us. It’s like being accused of cheating when you know you are faithful.

    The announcement of the existence of the files to the blogosphere happened at Lucia’s. I did it there because
    she was mentioned in the mails and she baked me brownies once.
    Good brownies.

  • Steven Mosher

    “As cognitive linguist George Lakoff has written, if you don’t contol the way an issue is framed, you don’t control the debate. Climate progressives allowed this episode to be written on the sceptics’ terms. The result? A sizeable drop in the public’s belief in climate change (although the freezing winter may also have played a part in this).”

    As a former fan of Lakoff ( back in the 80’s) I have to agree with this. In fact much of the work I’ve done promoting this story has been a reframing of the stock framed responses that were peddled by the defenders of CRU and Mann.

    Let me explain the dominate frames and how I reframed them

    1. The mails were taken out of context.
    This one was dead easy. We reframed this as ” the mails are worse in context” So, let me suggest
    that you not use that frame. The way it works is simple. You say they are taken out of context. I take
    a mail, put in context, and people learn more about the issue. The problem with the original frame
    is that it was a DEAD metaphor. Further it didn’t frame the issue IT FRAMED THE COVERAGE. that
    is it framed what “skeptics” were doing. Saying they are being taken out of context was stupid. It
    gave me the idea to write the book. Thanks.

    2. Nothing in the science changes. I liked this frame too. This frame is handled by simply agreeing with
    the frame. That’s right nothing in the mails changes the science. The mails reveal that the men who
    said trust us, are not trustworthy. That doesnt put us into denial, it puts us into doubt.

    The other thing that is funny is the way that standard charges can now be turned on their heads. For example, anytime someone accuses Skeptics of being part of a conspiracy, that’s a led for a blog post I can write about the climategate files. Any time anyone mentions peer review that a led. It’s more than frame stealing. It’s PWNING the vocabulary. Here is the little secret: everything people accuse the skeptics of doing, is a behavior I can find in the mails. It hit me early on: The climatescientists involved became so fearful of “skeptics” that they became the very thing they feared.

    The other major mistake that my side ( I believe in AGW ) makes is that they lost a huge opportunity to own the high ground on the underlying issue behind climategate: Openness and transparency. We had a chance to Coopt
    this meme in 2007 and missed it. Instead we practiced nixonian stonewalling

  • On Balance

    Well, after reading the comments from the leftist feet and the skeptics who agree with global warming, I can say I am convinced that the warmists have made themselves untrustworthy. And that’s what matters now. The science has not changed. What has changed is public perception of the integrity of the warmists.

  • Steven Mosher

    ““there are no progressive networks” – just hubs of activity here and there, lacking interconnection.”

    It’s more than interconnection. The network of Lukewarmers and Skeptics ( we are different ) who broke this
    story and who promoted it have something more than “interconnections.” we have the following:

    1. the ability to disagree. On the other side, lets say the alarmist side, you don’t really have the ability
    to disagree with one of your own. For example, you can’t even say the following:
    A. Climate science is true AND Phil Jones corrupted the FOIA process at CRU. you can’t say that.
    B. Climate science is true AND Michael Mann’s hockey stick is based on suspect statistics.
    Now, I can go anywhere in skeptic land and say these two things. And generally get accepted and have a
    dialog. I can even convince people to listen to me about the truth of climate science. And they don’t call
    me names. I only get called names by alarmists.
    2. The ability to say we are wrong. In fact the more honest we are about the mistakes we make, the worse the
    alarmists are in their refusal to make any such admission.

    3. We link to our opponents. Invite the fight. For people ( the undecided) who are new to the fight this is
    a prima facia indictor of “fairness” and “open mindedness” Think of it this way. IF you are undecided,
    and open minded and if your way of coming to the truth is via dialog, which blog are you going to trust:

    one that links to opponents or one that blocks alternative views. Now, if your aim is to get “consensus”
    about what your message should be and you dont want any input from your opponents then pick a insular
    path. You won’t convince the undecided this way. The practice of not linking to opponets is one of the classic
    mistakes that the alarmists made in this internet war. To be sure they listened to people who argued that
    linking to a site would “lend the site” credibility. But these people had it exactly wrong. Linking to a site does
    not lend credibility to the site linked. it lends credibility and power to the person linking. So WUWT the most
    powerful force in this whole war links to its opponents. Why? because the brand is so strong he can. because
    he believes ( rightly or wrongly) that he will win the argument. People key in on this strength. The strength to link to your opponent. It’s especially appealing to the customer. The customer with the open mind who wants to
    hear the argument. And when the other side refuses to link back, that imbalance of power is underscored. As a marketing professional I just have to call out a great strategy when I see it.

    3. Volunteerism. We don’t get paid. When people accuse us being paid, we volunteer MORE.

    4. Disorganized. There is no “plan of attack” It’s essentially asymetrical warfare. To the extent that the alarmist camp is organized pushing common messages it actually works to our benefit. As the mails show some on the alarmist side are trying to structure the debate and deliver talking points. They don’t do a very good job of it, and they become rather predictable. The decentralized activity on the skeptic lukewarmer side can experiement with tactics. For example, nobody dictated the Piltdown Mann meme to me. I tried it, it worked. Same with the Lukewarmer meme. Somebody tried it, it worked. Their is no “message” to carry. There are tactics made up in the trenches by people actually INVOLVED in the day to day debate. “Free the code” wasn’t dreamed up and pushed down people’s throats. It originated in a comment on a blog. spread from there because it worked.

    So you want three pieces of advice: disagree with each other ( shows independence of mind) When you are wrong or someone on your side is wrong call them to account ( shows you dont know know everything) Link to your opponents ( shows a willingness to reason )

    Do you notice something about the psychology of all this? Do you see how all these behaviors play well with the undecided? It’s called knowing the customer.

    And on that point you would do well to study the demographics of the various sites. It would surprise you.

  • Skeptic(generic)

    “For now, though, let me close with a challenge for progressive readers: one of the study’s more obvious conclusions was how effective climate sceptics are at commenting on forums, posting stock arguments, and linking back to sceptic sites.”

    What kind of a study is that. We (i’d say i’m a skeptic) are effective in posting stock arguments? We can even post hyperlinks? Now is that something that the AGW proponents can’t or don’t do? Now i’m telling you a secret: We know about the secret of fire and we have invented the wheel. Heck, we even have an alphabet. Oxfam should ask their money back.

  • Matthew W

    Mr. Mosher,
    GREAT POSTS !!!

  • http://oxfordkevin.carbonclimate.org Oxford Kevin

    Talk about straw men. If you want to see disagreement on this board, look for comment threads between myself and someone who calls themselves Anon. E. Mouse. There was no name calling. Vigorous discussion on disagreements over various issues of climate change. You clearly haven’t seen the discussions here.

    As to the Hockey Stick I’ve blogged on that and openly admitted that the statitistics where flawed. But the results using valid stats ended up being much the same.

    Kevin

  • F0ul

    I’ve heard this story before. How can a bunch of individuals get a story into the media without being a registered charity and being funded by someone else? Maybe because they think the story is important enough to spend their own time dealing with it?

    Looking through the comments here, the biggest difference is that on a skeptical site, people rarely say RT this please or, as was done above, link to some stock responses, to be used as a crib sheet!

    Everyone generally already knows the story as they understand it, and will only point to the original sources if needed – they know that authority is irrelevant!

  • two moon

    There is a worthwhile discussion to be had, and use of the term “deniers” is retrograde. The sites that propagated “Climategate” are not denier sites. To claim that they are is mere propaganda.

  • Guy S

    @Steven Mosher, @JeffID – many thanks for clarifying about the way the CRU story developed online. Thanks Steve also for pointing out that many who doubt the scientific consensus around anthropogenic global warming are not in consensus themselves.

    @OxfordKevin’s last comment has it spot on about the patient discussion that is commonly held on these forums.

    One further note on politeness. If ‘sceptic’ and ‘denier’ are considered name-calling, why have posters tolerated ‘warmist’ and ‘alarmist’? Please, apply some consistency…:)

    Thanks again for the many re-tweets and comments!

  • Guy S

    Interested readers may also like to look at this new LFF blog post by Andrew Regan, on harnessing the distributed intelligence of the blogosphere: http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/03/harnessing-the-distributed-intelligence-of-the-blogosphere/#comments

  • http://twitter.com/ourworld20/status/10901854251 Our World 2.0

    Combating the growing influence of climate sceptics – graphic showing who is influential on the web – http://bit.ly/9HtAty

  • http://oxfordkevin.carbonclimate.org Oxford Kevin

    As the resident Alarmist I’ve probably defended AGW more than anyone else on this site. So your accusations of in effect stalinism are accusations against me. Since I’ve already admitted problems with the application of statistics for the Hockey Stick that accusation fails at the first step. As to the FOI I believe Phil Jones has a case to answer as part of the inquiry but since he has demonstrated on more than 2 instances in the e-mails that what he writes at a moment of anger and frustration and how he acts are different things there is no point in basing a judgement on his words alone which is why we have to wait for the inquiry. If you choose to see the inquiry purely as a whitewash then there isn’t much I can do about that.

    A question: Would you consider WUWT and climate audit more reliable sources of information than sites like this one?

    Kevin

  • Pingback: The well funded, well organized, global skeptic network laid bare /sarc « Watts Up With That?()

  • http://twitter.com/jaspiesmate/status/10903592116 Susan Murphy

    RT @OurWorld20: Combating the growing influence of climate sceptics – graphic showing who is influential on the web – http://bit.ly/9HtAty

  • stimp

    What a waste of tax payer money, this will never be published as it based on plucked straws!

    The only reason climate gate was a scandal was because of the poor manner in which the scientists behaved – they are responsible and no one else. The story spread because it was REAL news not becuase of some organised sceptic organisation – and besides, whats the issue with sceptics?

    Galilaeo, Darwin, Wegener, Huxley etc… never did that much harm did they for simply questioing the sacred cows of science? There is no harm in pointing out the elephants most scientists ignore or fail to see, or questioing scientists for not following their own principles! It may hurt to see sacred cows questioned, but sometimes we are wrong and we have to accept it, it has happened many times before in science. If the evidence for AGW is so robust, why worry, no sceptic should be able to do it harm. Unfortunetly though, even the lay public understand that real life emprical data will always win over assumption filled models – thats a fact of life. If no one sees increased storms, a meltic antarctic, rising temperatures, more droughts etc… AGW will fall by the wayside as have all previous claims of disaster, Y2K, acid rain, CFC’s, Bird flu, global cooling etc…

  • http://twitter.com/skepticscience/status/10907197099 John Cook

    Combating the growing influence of climate sceptics – study into how networking enabled skeptics to reframe the debate http://bit.ly/bUwD8f

  • http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org Brad Johnson

    It seems kind of bizarre that ClimateProgress has been left off the supporters network.

    Some early responses from the progressive blogosphere:
    http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2009/11/20/climategate/
    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/11/i-read-through-160000000-bytes-of.html
    http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2009/11/24/superfreak-climategate/
    http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2009/12/09/climate-gate-timeline/
    http://www.swifthack.com/

    etc.

    The *real* difference is that the left/green blogosphere doesn’t have the feedback loop with media and politicians that the right does.

  • Bulldust

    Interesting story, and I use the latter word intentionally. Apart from the numerous flaws pointed out already you completely fail to recognise that the mainstream media doggedly did not want to report anything about Climategate whatsoever despite the viral level of interest on the blogosphere. I had numrous running debates about the media’s complicity by lack of coverage on newspaper blog sites in Australia.

    As for name calling, sceptic is hardly a derogatory term as all scientists should be of a sceptical mindset. Equally warmist merely describes someone who leans towards the AGW mindset. Denialist is a completely different kettle of fish because of the clear connotations to the holocaust and people who deny that event ever took place. Chalk and cheese…

    You want to win this AGW vs normal climatic variation debate? You do that by sticking to reasoned claims and good science. Any blog that caters to the extreme advocacy fringes on either side is on a hiding to nothing. What is also a clear is that some blog sites “moderate” opposing comments out of existance – Real Climate is a prime offender in this respect. What they will not post is more telling than what they will. What’s the chances this comment is “moderated” into the bit bucket?
    We shall see…

    PS> I coined “ClimateGate”… does that earn me a bubble in the picture? ;)

  • http://jaycurrie.info-syn.com Jay Currie

    It is amusing to note the wonderful asymmetry between the skeptic side and the AGW promoters; a bunch of blogs vs the BBC, the New York Times and the World bank.

    And even before Climategate, that bunch of bloggers were steadily scoring points. Demonstrating statistical incompetence with the hockey stick, showing that the raw data had been tortured for signal, noting that some trees were more influential than others and that, when it came right down to it, when the trees disagreed they were ditched to “hide the decline”.

    The pros were and are being beaten by amateurs. And they are being beaten because the science is not nearly so certain as the AGW promoters lead us to believe. And absolutely not certain enough to base serious policy decisions upon. Lukewarmers and out and out skeptics win, and keep on winning, because they have modest goals.

    Asking people to check their numbers and think again is hardly radical stuff. It is only radical in the face of a media and scientific establishment which has made its collective mind up and does not want to be bothered checking its facts and science,

  • mphysopt

    Mosher,

    If Tony of WUWT was so confident about his arguments about the surface temperature record, why doesn’t he answer Tamino’s and Meene et al.’s criticisms? (No, whining about a pseudonym is not answering the question. Frankly, only a bully intent in causing RL hurt wants to know somebody’s True Name) Oh, that’s right, he can’t show that his claims of bias have any validity at all…

  • Steven Mosher

    WRT terminology Tom Fuller ( who should be on the chart) and I struggled greatly with the various terms “denier, skeptic, contrarian, chaosists, warmer, believer, alarmist, blah blah blah. Tom actually did a survey of various blog readers ( we both have marketing backgrounds ) to try to figure out what exactly the various factions are. Judith Curry also has a nice cladistics. In the end I’m happy describing one group and one group only. That is the group I belong to: Lukewarmers. Everybody else can go name themselves and come up with their own tagline.

    The strategies and tactics that I’ve generated for people who believe in global warming ( some of the materials were included in the climategate mails ) are very bad. The principle problem is that they rely upon a total misunderstanding of the audience.

  • Steven Mosher

    @Guy

    “@Steven Mosher, @JeffID – many thanks for clarifying about the way the CRU story developed online. Thanks Steve also for pointing out that many who doubt the scientific consensus around anthropogenic global warming are not in consensus themselves.”

    Yes, I don’t think people get how deadly wrong the over generalization about “skeptics” was.
    Let me give you an idea. Right before Mcintyre came onto the scene Briffa and Osborne were planning
    to write a paper critical of Mann. Osborne was struggling to replicate Mann’s work ( he like McIntyre needed
    the residuals) Jones was in support of their efforts. As soon as McIntyre writes his 2003 paper, Mann gets very upset and effectively Briffa and Osborne are called off. At one point Osborne becomes aware that Mann hasnt
    been telling the truth exactly about his dealings with McIntyre. He and McIntyre correspond and Mc offers to
    let CRU settle the dispute. At first this seems reasonable. No body wanted to argue at cross purposes. In the
    end the wagons are circled. For the rest of the files you can see the tension between Mann and Briffa. Jones
    is in a tough spot. The brits also did not understand the pressure that mann felt from the internet stuff.
    Anyway, very early on there was a chance to put it all to rest. In my conversations with Mc he’s made it clear
    that all the issues would just have gone away. But they put a burr under his saddle,especially by lumping him in with others. mc is a just a very tenacious curious fellow. Accusing him of being a shill just deepened his resolve. there was another episode like this with Annann.
    A cordial lunch between the two, an offer to work together to put the issue to rest… but in the end Annann could not be seen working with Mc. The issue lived on and the result was the mail
    that jones sent ” delete your mails.” The silly thing is that the thing they were trying to cover up was rather silly.
    But Jones and others knew that Mcintyre was watching chapter 6 very closely ( as a reviewer ) and they got
    caught with their pants down.

    In any case in 2007 I had dinner with Mc and Watts. Ah yes a skeptics cabal. And so there away from everybody’s ears I got to ask McIntyre what he really thought and what drove him. “I like puzzles,” he said. And so, people hid pieces of a puzzle from a man who loves puzzles and you have one dedicated opponent. I like puzzles too. So Mc and I get along.

  • http://twitter.com/baerbelw/status/10912382990 Baerbel Winkler

    RT @skepticscience: Combating the growing influence of climate sceptics – study into how networking enabled skeptics to reframe the debate http://bit.ly/bUwD8f

  • D knight

    More to the point why is the BBC in the ‘supporters’ network’

    If it was fulfilling its charter obligations it should have been bridging the divide between the two networks reporting both sides of the argument

    Tne other entities in these diagrams are free to be partisan, although it would be nice if some didn’t claim objectivity

  • Steven Mosher

    Hi Kevin,

    I’ll assume your comment is directed at me. If not I’m sorry

    “As the resident Alarmist I’ve probably defended AGW more than anyone else on this site. So your accusations of in effect stalinism are accusations against me. Since I’ve already admitted problems with the application of statistics for the Hockey Stick that accusation fails at the first step. ”

    . I’m not aware that I used the term “stalinist” in my description. Nor am I convinced that my description fits the definition of “stalinist” whatever that is, I really don’t know or care. I try not to label viewpoints with dead descriptions. You see “admitting there are problems in the application of the statistics” is just the kind of locution that breeds the mistrust that Tom and I have talked about. If you seek to convince an audience of people who are undecided, then I will tell you (since I write and read to them daily ) that this kind of locution will not impress them. Mann was wrong. I remember when Reagan said “mistakes were made.” That was fodder for the next days class on rhetoric.
    So in my mind you demonstrate the very thing you seek to deny. Note, I’m not asking you personally to say the words “mann was wrong.” I’ve asked that enough times on enough blogs and had no takers.
    proving yourself an exception to this rule would just enforce my point.

    “As to the FOI I believe Phil Jones has a case to answer as part of the inquiry but since he has demonstrated on more than 2 instances in the e-mails that what he writes at a moment of anger and frustration and how he acts are different things there is no point in basing a judgement on his words alone which is why we have to wait for the inquiry. ”

    I have no evidence that Jones wrote those words in anger. There are also more than two incidents. there is one incident, that happened even BEFORE there were any FOIA, two years before. If I were to speculate on the emotion he felt, it would be fear and bravado. There are also incidents after Nov 19th 2009 when he misrepresented his own record and his own actions WRT sharing data. He lied before parliament as I detailed in a post some time ago. That doesnt change the science. But it does make him unfit for duty as a member of a standing committee that advises NOAA on data archiving and access. I do not think we have to wait for an inquiry to call for his removal from this position. I let my congressman know as much. If you want to get into the particulars of his violation of confidentiality agreements, ( an action he admits to ) then by all means we can. But this action, admitted to in the mails 2 years prior to any FOIA should be enough for a fair minded person such as yourself to make a decision. ( hint: the opposition of “words versus actions” was an unwise opposition to use in an argument without first canvasing Jones actions. generally speaking it’s an unwise opposition to take in any defense. Typical defenses go like this ” you took the words out of context.” “he was upset when he wrote it” ” he didnt really do anything” In the book, as you can probably tell I already canvased all of these defenses.

    Also, If you want to convince an audience of people who like to think for themselves, then telling them that you want to wait for the inquiry is not a good way to convince them of your ability to think and judge things on your own. Again, I self identify as a person who likes to judge things for myself in an interactive process in which I am involved. That is how I come to truth. And you say that you want to wait for the inquiry. I’ve spent enough years in PR to know what that means. If the inquiry finds against him, you will reserve the right to say anything. “he a sacrificial lamb, the science doesnt change, they were too hard on him, blah blah blah. If they find ( as the ICO did ) that CRU violated Mr Hollands rights you will have something mitigating to say. If they don’t find anything you will defend that. The last thing you will do is read the record for your self and render a judgment on those facts.
    today. here. now. You won’t read the mails and try to really understand what when on. But the audience of undecided people are just the kind of people who like to see for themselves. When they see you duck an issue, they don’t give you any credibility. perhaps they are wrong in that. I am just giving you my view of how these people come to believe, rightly or wrongly.

    “If you choose to see the inquiry purely as a whitewash then there isn’t much I can do about that.”

    The inquiry is worse than a whitewash. The inquiry is a lost opportunity to regain credibility with an audience that is in doubt. the skeptics will of course call it a whitewash. No stopping that. I would encourage them to do this, but I criticize the inquiry on other grounds.

    “A question: Would you consider WUWT and climate audit more reliable sources of information than sites like this one?”

    i don’t consider WUWT to be a source of information. For me it’s a source of entertainment. Basically, if I am reading for scientific content I read papers. If those papers dont supply code and data, then those papers are advertisements for science. they are not science.
    Climate audit is a source of interesting puzzles. When Mc posts data and code, then its information.
    For the most part what you should see is that people like me will read what you write, take apart your rhetoric, and try to get to the source material. We are very active readers. If you dont talk back to me, then I question your commitment to a shared truth.

    Here is the deal. When you share your data and code with me you are sharing your power. That breeds trust.
    Anyways, here you dont have that to share. So we just have conversation. So far, it’s a nice conversation.

    In the end I’m just telling you how to best convince people who share a certain way of coming to the truth.
    I don’t want this to degenerate into a debate about the particulars of the case against mann or jones. That would be rude. I’m just here telling you what I perceive as shortcomings in the strategies. We can differ on that.

  • http://oxfordkevin.carbonclimate.org Oxford Kevin

    @Steve

    you said you side has the ability to disagree whilst ours doesn’t. Your claim was one of stalinist type behaviour. Your claim was easily disproved. You seemed to have made judgements about me and others on this website without evidence for it.

    Kevin

  • http://oxfordkevin.carbonclimate.org Oxford Kevin

    In what way did Jones lie before parliament?

  • Ed Snack

    Amazing, on one side, just about every major newspaper on both sides of the Atlantic, all major TV channels except (maybe) Fax, Billions of dollars in funding from the UN, the EU (Oxfam alone receives many millions), and alarmist organizations like the Soros funded “think tanks”; and on the other a few blogs funded almost entirely by subscriber donations and google ad revenue. Oh, and Exxon once gave a few hundred thousand $ to an organization that once asked one of the bloggers to give a (free) talk at one of their (many) talk sessions. And let’s not mention that Shell, BP, Exxon, and other Oil comapnies have donated millions to AGW related research, including to CRU.

    And, like, you think the skeptics are winning ! It can only be because they have the honest, compelling and truthful message. You have everything you accuse the skeptics of having, Billions of $, control of almost the entire MSM, and yet the lies just don’t cut it with so many people. There IS a limit to spin, maybe you should think a bit more about the fact that if you do little but lie and spin, that’s what people eventually come to associate you with, and discount even correct statements.

    Perhaps you could start on the “rotten apples” on your own side, to show you are genuine about wanting to present what is at least an approximation of the truth. KIck Michael mann and his fraudulent “Hokey (sic) Stick” off the island, it is damaged goods. Stop sites like RealClimate censoring the “hard questions”, the questions they can’t and won’t answer. Try treating the general public as basically intelligent enough to make up their own minds, stop treating them like the cattle you seem to believe they are. And most off, have a long hard look at your own beliefs, what to you could Disprove AGW. If nothing, then it ain’t science, it’s religion.

  • http://twitter.com/omnologos/status/10917290720 Maurizio Morabito

    This blog is so idiotic, it might single-handedly explain why #AGW believers have been a failure at arguing their case http://bit.ly/aOoGSE

  • http://twitter.com/nilssimon/status/10917989479 Nils Simon

    RT @leftfootfwd: Combating the growing influence of climate sceptics http://cli.gs/NEhyE

  • Calum

    Leftfootinmouth more like.

    How come the skeptics are to the left, and the enlightened ones are to the right?

    How come Roger Pielke Jnr is at the centre of the virtual climate universe?

    How come you never contacted the parties concerned over their own stance on climate change?

    Why is the BBC more extreme than the Guardian? Really don’t get that one!

  • AMac

    Re: Oxford Kevin (March 23, 2010 at 7:20 am & 7:25 am) —

    > [Response to Steven Mosher] – you said your side has the ability to disagree whilst ours doesn’t. Your claim was one of stalinist type behaviour. Your claim was easily disproved.

    > In what way did Jones lie before parliament?

    Mosher isn’t very diligent about providing links, plus this site makes it something of a pain, with the prohibition of simple formatting. Anyway, here is the article he wrote on the subject, “The Final Straw.”
    http://tinyurl.com/yju26fz

    Note that it was posted 3 March 2010 at WUWT. (Is that site a reliable source of information? *Scientific* information, in my opinion, no. For opinion pieces like this one, it’s fine. Althought the Comments are less valuable for being moderated with a heavy hand, like here at LFF (n=1 in my case).)

    Background piece is “Climategate: Not Fraud, But Noble Cause Corruption,” 18 February 2010. Separately, its Comments are an interesting read.
    http://tinyurl.com/ykxwqtp

    Re: “Your [Mosher’s] claim was one of stalinist type behaviour” — Kevin, in heated debates such as surrounds AGW, one of the first skill sets to decline is that of paraphrasing one’s (presumed) adversaries. I’d suggest you’d prompt a higher-grade discussion if you’d retire that shortcut for a while, substituting direct quotes and links to sources.

    Re: “You said your side has the ability to disagree whilst ours doesn’t.” I’m not the “you” in that sentence, but I find it striking that AGW Consensus scientists and advocates have been, to a person, unwilling to call out Mike Mann for “torturing the Tiljander proxies” in the service of the Cause. It’s a simple point to grasp, thanks to Google. My LFF comment on that subject appears to have failed moderation, I crossposted it at “Lucia’s Blackboard”.
    http://tinyurl.com/ydffk6l

    Want to be the first to break from the Consensus pack?…

  • http://wermenh.com/climate/science.html Ric Werme

    I’m

  • YouGov Tracker

  • Touchstone Economic Tracker

  • Best of the web

  • Archive