Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Easy reference guide to University of Queenslands' DENIAL101x videos

I wanted a quick reference to the various Denial101x videos I watched as I took the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) of the University of Queensland in Australia (in their joint effort with John CookBärbel Winkler and the volunteers at SkepticalScience.com).  

I know these videos are listed at YouTube, but it's all so clunky that I decided to put together my own single sheet linkable list of all the videos.  First the course videos for each of the six weekly installments, followed by a listing of the complete interviews with accomplished scientists and other experts.  

Considering the malicious slander many climate scientists must endure, this is a gold mine of insights into who these scientists actually are and how they've arrived at their conclusions.  (Please note I've linked scientist's names to accessible internet bios, for a bit more background.)

It took some time and effort so I figure I may as well share it - as a public service and also my way of saying thank you to John Cook and all the hard working very smart people over at SkepticalScience.com who put in countless hours of effort to make this course such a success.

An excellent antidote for all the disinformation being posted on the internet. 
Feel free to copy and pass along.


Denial101x - Week 1

Asking the questions: 
Why is climate change so controversial among the general public when there’s no controversy among climate scientists?
With all the evidence, resulting in a consensus, what is driving the rejection of climate science

Monday, August 24, 2015

What Motivate$ Scientists?

I've been looking forward to sharing this short video for a while.  Enjoy.

Prof Alley gets passionate about the motivation of scientists. 
Climate change is real, so why the controversy and debate? 
Learn to make sense of the science and to respond to climate change denial in Denial101x, a MOOC from UQx and edX.
To register and learn more: http://edx.org/understanding-climate-denial

18:20  Richard Alley:  We scientists do know where our funding comes from. We try to do research, which is responding to the desires of our funding agencies. If the government says, we, as the federal government, would like to know about x, we try to do the research to tell them. Just in terms of total money, if one were to compare, the biggest corporations tend to be fossil fuel things. Often they are not poor. Our impression as scientist is that if we were really, really interested in money, there would probably be other ways to do it.  

The structure of science—think for a minute about Newton and Einstein. Suppose that Einstein had stood up and said, "I have worked very hard. I have discovered that Newton got everything right and I have nothing to add." Would anyone ever know who Einstein was? 

Scientists, at some level, have to have a little bit of ego. The job description is very clear; It is learn what nobody else knows.

If you look at that and say, "All I want to do is cheer for other people," you're probably not going into that field. If you go in that field, there is a little bit of ego to learn what nobody else knows.  We've all got it however well we've tamped it down.  

The idea that we wouldn't want to be Einstein—if we could overturn global warming, if we could prove that CO2 was not a greenhouse gas, if we could prove that we can burn all we want and not worry about it, how exciting would that be? How wonderful? How many prizes? How many people would invite me out to give talks if I could prove that you didn't have to worry about this? 

Is there any possibility that tens of thousands of scientist, there isn't one of them that's got the ego to do that? It's absurd. It's absolutely, unequivocally absurd. We're people. We've got it in us, the way people do.

The fact is that nature pushes us to the reality that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, it's real. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Whatever happened to Dr. Mann's "hockey stick graph"?

{Sorry about the typos, I'm no professional writer.
I did polish it up a bit Tuesday evening.}

Though I don't have enough spare time for working on Ridley's folly, I needed to take the time to share this because it's both a good assessment of the state of understanding and because it underscores What A Scientist Sounds Like.  

I'm talking about Peter Sinclair's recent post featuring an excellent talk by Professor Richard Alley PhD.  
(After this intro, I repost the video along with some time signature notes for the interested student)
The Weekend Wonk: Richard Alley on Climate History and CO2 
Peter Sinclair | Weekend Wonk | August 1, 2015 
At 3:50 a graph caught my eye because it dawned on me that in a way I was basically looking at "Mann's Hockey Stick" 15 years later.  That is, after 15 years of accumulating data from all sorts of teams studying all sorts of proxies.  This graph includes additional important information, such as solar irradiance, volcanic forcing, other 'forcings' among other information.

Recall the story?  Back in the late 1990s a group of researchers lead by Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes were studying tree rings and glacial ice cores and using them as a proxy for establishing a paleo-temperature record for the past couple thousand years.

It was pioneering work in data processing and statistical analysis.  When finished their study, in particular their graph, was a dramatic visual wakeup call to how rapidly, if not radically, we were changing conditions on this planet.

For that Dr. Mann was viciously attacked by the Republican/libertarian PR machine as though he were the only researcher involved; and as though denying the solid evidence could make it go away.  In fact, to this day their echo-chamber continues to obsess on a couple minor flaws in those aging '98/'99 studies.

Meanwhile, the grown-ups, that is the serious scientific community, continued doing their work.  With healthy honest skepticism alive as ever, the Mann et al. papers were subjected to brutal interrogation, strong points, weak points were argued over and resolved, lessons were learned - the scientific process in action, striving to learn and improve the work going forward.  

As for Mann et al. original papers, their data, it's interpretation and graph itself have all stood the test of time, though you'd never know it listening to a Republican.


In any event, here's a look at how a decade and a half of serious study has evolved that first pioneering effort at understanding our planet's past temperature record:

 -------  Whatever happened to Mann's Hockey Stick?  -------  
Here's a look at the current state of Paleoclimate understanding
followed by an excellent short talk by Prof. Alley explaining the details.

ca. 2015


Richard Alley - 4.6 Billion Years of Earth’s Climate History: The Role of CO2

National Academy of Science member Richard Alley presents on 4.6 Billion Years of Earth’s Climate History: The Role of CO2, during the Symposium—Earths, Moons, Mars & Stars at the National Academy of Sciences 152nd Annual Meeting.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

#2 - Matt Ridley let's debate your "cheerleaders for alarm"

Matt Ridley this is the second installment of my review of your blogpost What the climate wars did to science where I describe the various failures in your arguments.  Last week I contacted you about the first installment and to offer a formal invitation to debate.  But, you've remained silent.  
(Admittedly Matt, I can appreciate that hiding from my intellectual challenge, like Jim Steele does, makes more sense than joining the debate in a fair and square manner and revealing how bankrupt your arguments are - still the invitation remains.)

Now on to considering your "cheerleading for alarm" section.

Policy-based evidence making is all too frequent in climate science
By Matt Ridley |  The "Rational Optimist.com" |  Published on Sunday, July 05, 2015
Part Two ±450-935 (out of 5950 words)
Matt Ridley:  Cheerleaders for alarm. This is precisely what has happened with the climate debate and it is at risk of damaging the whole reputation of science. 

What precisely?  You define nothing!

"Cheerleaders for alarm" ? - Who, What, Where, When?
"climate debate" -  It's tough to get any more inclusive than that.

Then you pull the dirty trick of jumping from the nebulous "climate debate" to the "whole reputation of science."  Matt, where do you get off pinning what pundits have said onto scientists?  That's pure dishonestly!

By playing this game you allow yourself to smear any scientist with whatever nonsense you like.  Even though that nonsense never came from any real scientist to begin with.  

That's called fraud and has nothing to do with learning about the why and how of the scientific understanding that underpins the current global warming "consensus."
Matt Ridley:  The “bad idea” in this case is not that climate changes, nor that human beings influence climate change; but that the impending change is sufficiently dangerous to require urgent policy responses. 

Matt, I suggest your "bad idea" is to tailor your sentences toward belittling scientists and rejecting their evidence without ever even considering that evidence.

Here you deliberately ignore the severe impacts that past climate changes had on the biological systems that had developed under their previous climate regime. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Matt Ridley let's debate your "What the climate wars did to science"

{edited for typos and some minor additions 19:30 MDT }

Matt Ridley I've been reading your "What the climate wars did to science" and I'll give it to you, it's one piece of work.  From the bizarre comparison of "Lysenkoism" with two centuries worth of climate science; to your championing that artful misinformer JimSteele (a person who regularly attacks scientists based on misrepresenting the facts, while hiding from debating the merits of his storyline.); then you pile on the malicious Dr. Parmesan slander campaign (while lying about what her paper actually says); etc.; finishing with that lofty plea to 'keep the debate alive'.  It really is too much, still I'm thinking you want a debate, Okay, let's have a debate!  

I believe I can explain why your words are such deceptive theater while outlining the difference between your brand of 'playing games for short term political gain' and scientists commitment to learning in order to understand reality as it is, rather than how we wish it could be.

I challenge you, Matt Ridley, to participate in this public "debate" by rationally explaining why you might disagree with my assessment.  I will post your comments unaltered - I'll even consider a "guest post" from you, if it contains a substantive rational response.

We'll see how it goes.  Since your blog post was six thousand words long and I have very limited free time these days, and people have limited patience, I'll be doing this is smaller segments.  Here I review your first 450 words.


What the climate wars did to science
Published on Sunday, July 05, 2015, updated Sunday, July 05, 2015 
by Matt Ridley - at the so-called RationalOptimist.com  -  5950 words

Policy-based evidence making is all too frequent in climate science

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Recurrent Fury: Conspiratorial Discourse in the Blogosphere

Looks like a SkepticalScience.com double-header considering the noteworthy Guardian.com article by Dana Nuccitelli that SkS shared this morning.  The reason is that I know all too well that implying a grand conspiracy, denigrating scientists and the reactionary dismissal of the significance of a "97% consensus" among actual experts regarding the causes and dangers of society's relentless injection of atmospheric insulation (read greenhouse gases) are about all we can get out of climate science contrarians these days, so I thought this was a must article to add to this collection.

It's about a new study:  "Recurrent Fury: Conspiratorial Discourse in the Blogosphere Triggered by Research on the Role of Conspiracist Ideation in Climate Denial"
By Stephan Lewandowsky, John Cook, Klaus Oberauer, Scott Brophy, Elisabeth A. Lloyd, Michael Marriott

Climate denial linked to conspiratorial thinking in new study

Posted on 8 July 2015 by dana1981

A new study has examined the comments on climate science-denying blogs and found strong evidence of widespread conspiratorial thinking. The study looks at the comments made in response to a previous paper linking science denial and conspiracy theories.

Motivated rejection of science

Three years ago, social scientists Lewandowsky, Oberauer, and Gignac published a paper in the journal Psychological Science titled NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science

The paper detailed the evidence the scientists found that, using survey data provided by visitors to climate blogs, those exhibiting conspiratorial thinking are more likely to be skeptical of scientists’ conclusions about vaccinations, genetically modified foods, and climate change. This result was replicated in a follow-up study using a representative U.S. sample that obtained the same resultlinking conspiratorial thinking to climate denial.

Of course science denial and conspiracies go hand in hand

This shouldn’t be a terribly shocking result. When confronted with inconvenient science, those in denial often reject the evidence by accusing the experts of fraud or conspiracies. We saw a perfect example of this behavior just a few weeks ago. When scientists at NOAA published a paper finding that there was no ‘pause’ in global warming, one of the most common responses from those in denial involved the conspiratorial accusation that the scientists had somehow fudged the data at the behest of the Obama administration.

Nevertheless, nobody likes being characterized as a conspiracy theorist, and so those in the denial blogosphere reacted negatively to the research of Lewandowsky and colleagues. Ironically, many of the attacks on the study involved conspiratorial accusations, which simply provided more data for the social scientists to analyze. For example, the authors were accused of everything from faked data to collusion between Lewandowsky and the Australian government.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Adam Corner, Announcing the "Uncertainty Handbook"

Adam Corner has written a helpful overview of a new handbook for folks who want to try their hand at communicating climate science to a broader audience.  I downloaded the "Uncertainty Handbook" this evening and found it concise, easy to read and filled with simple logical advice for anyone who want's to engage this important issue. 

I feel it belongs in this collection and thanks to SkepticalScience.com's Creative Commons license I'm able to reprint it over here:


Announcing the Uncertainty Handbook

Posted on 6 July 2015 by Guest Author at SkepticalScience.com

by Adam Corner
Have you ever struggled with the communication of climate change uncertainties? Are you frustrated by climate sceptics using uncertainty - inherent in any area of complex science - as a justification for delaying policy responses? Then the new ‘Uncertainty Handbook’ - a collaboration between the University of Bristol and the Climate Outreach & Information Network (COIN) - is for you. The handbook was authored by Dr. Adam Corner (COIN), Professor Stephan Lewandowsky (University of Bristol), Dr Mary Phillips (University of Bristol) and Olga Roberts (COIN). All are experts in their fields and have expertise relating to the role of uncertainty in climate change or how best to communicate it.

The Handbook distills the most important research findings and expert advice on communicating uncertainty into a few pages of practical, easy-to-apply techniques, providing scientists, policymakers and campaigners with the tools they need to communicate more effectively around climate changeDownload the report here, and check out our 12 principles for more effectively communicating climate change uncertainty