Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dr. Curry's "Climate change: no consensus on consensus" - challenged

I don't have much time to devote to projects like this.  It's hit and miss ~ but in between I do think about what I've written and what Curry has written ~ 

I've finished my first careful comb through 11/5/12 afternoon.  I'll admit I found too much sloppiness, some of it embarrassing, but what can I say, gotta start somewhere and then refine.  In any event, this is my critique and challenge to 

Dr. Judith Curry's reader's digest to 
"Climate change: no consensus on consensus" 

I've reprinted the full text of Judith Curry's Reader's Digest in black sans sarif
My commentary is in blue print following her text.  
I have not altered her text, 
though I have added breaks between some sentences for clarity.  
I've also numbered the paragraphs.
For the fun of it I've made a stab at some categories and tracking Dr. Curry's score.
|actual factual|politicized opining|conspiracy|misdirection|misrepresentation|NO evidence provided| 
{you might want to vote your own favorites as you read along}
With that introduction I present:
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Climate change: no consensus on consensus
Posted on October 28, 2012  by Judith Curry

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¶1)  The manufactured consensus of the IPCC has had the unintended consequences of distorting the science, elevating the voices of scientists that dispute the consensus, and motivating actions by the consensus scientists and their supporters that have diminished the public’s trust in the IPCC.


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re: ¶1

"manufactured consensus of the IPCC has had the unintended consequences of distorting the science..."

That is an incredibly big and damaging charge.

Where is Curry's evidence!?
Specifically what topics have the IPCC distorted?
Why no list?

Where is Curry's examination comparing the scientific community's assessments 
with the IPCC's manufactured and published "consensus"?

Where does Curry outline and review the many meetings and conferences and writings and back and forth communication that goes on during this IPCC manufacturing process?

Why make the base assumption: 'IPCC's all sinister'?
{Just because the news is bad for big business?  
I thought this was science we were discussing?}

The IPCC is actually a small organization tasked with compiling the available legitimate science.  

Curry doesn't seriously examine who the IPCC are; what they have been legally tasked with doing; and how they have gone about their task.  

"... elevating the voices of scientists that dispute the consensus..."

What is Curry talking about?  
What's it supposed to mean?  
What point is Curry trying to weave into her story here?

"... and motivating actions by the consensus scientists..."

Scientists read and talk and meet on all sorts of different levels.  There are seasons and politics just as in every other professional endeavor.  But, it's still a serious organization with a planned process, openly established and openly conducted, and it produces reports on the state of the science.  Fair and square.

"have diminished the public’s trust in the IPCC."

You won't find anything here about Seitz and Singer and the tactics of manufacturing doubt.

Why not examine the various dirty tricks and PR tactics that have targeted the IPCC and climatologists in general?

Why not ask if there's evidence this "diminished pubic trust" was the product of a manufactured publicity campaign?

Here's some evidence:

The American Denial of Global Warming - 
Perspectives on Ocean Science

Uploaded by UCtelevision on Dec 20, 2007

Polls show that between one-third and one-half of Americans still believe that there is "no solid" evidence of global warming, or that if warming is happening it can be attributed to natural variability. Others believe that scientists are still debating the point.  
Join scientist and renowned historian Naomi Oreskes as she describes her investigation into the reasons for such widespread mistrust and misunderstanding of scientific consensus and probes the history of organized campaigns designed to create public doubt and confusion about science. 
Series: "Perspectives on Ocean Science" [12/2007] [Science] [Show ID: 13459]

A Merchant of Doubt attacks Merchants of Doubt
by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway

I intend to review Curry's reader's digest with an eye toward finding and evaluating the supporting evidence for her claims.

Along the way I'll be looking for more intellectual slight-of-hand, such as turning suppositions into self-evidence truths.  Please join me in looking for Curry's supporting objective evidence. 


¶2)  Our paper has just been accepted for publication.  A link to the final manuscript is provided here http://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/consensus-paper-revised-final.doc [consensus paper revised final].  Below is a ‘reader’s digest’ version of the main arguments made in this paper

re: ¶2

Please note this is not a "paper" in the usual sense of a scientific study.  This is an essay.  As stated in the first sentence: "Abstract: This essay explores the history and consequences of the scientific consensus building activities by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the topic of dangerous anthropogenic climate change..." 

Also note that 

¶3)  The United Nations initiated a scientific consensus building process with the objective of providing a robust scientific basis for climate policy, under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC). The key IPCC consensus finding from its latest assessment report is this statement:
“Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”

|actual factual-X|politicized opining|conspiracy |misdirection|misrepresentation|NO evidence provided| 
re: ¶3

This seems a fair representation.


¶4)  The IPCC consensus findings on attribution have been echoed in position statements made by many scientific organizations. The IPCC consensus is portrayed as nearly total among scientists with expertise and prominence in the field of climate science. 

Another fairly accurate description.  

And why shouldn't such an authoritative summation of the state of the science wind up being echoed by many scientific organization when their own internal studies come with finding that are consistent with the state of the science.

What Curry doesn't include is the length and breadth of independent discussions that went into every one of those many scientific organizations (throughout the world) who have arrived at their individual endorsements.

To be clear the considered consensus has been forged by real world evidence.

For some more along those lines:
Extraordinary charges demand extraordinary evidence - Curry offers none.
On the other hand, here is a description of the workings of the IPCC by Professor Schneider, who has been involved with the program since the early days. Incidentally, Dr. Schneider, has written an excellent book this study chooses to ignore.   
 Stephen H. Schneider comments on "Science as a Contact Sport"
Stanford University climate scientist Stephen H. Schneider talks about his new book, "Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth's Climate" (National Geographic Books, Nov. 2009, U.S.$28), and explains how anyone can find reliable information about climate change. Schneider, a National Geographic Fellow, also shares ideas of what anyone can do to help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions warming our planet. 
Doctor Schneider also gave an excellent longer talk at Stanford University where he present the other side to Dr.Curry creation: 
Climate Change: Is the Science "Settled"? 

(back to Judith)
The idea of a scientific consensus surrounding climate change attribution has been questioned by a number of people, including scientists and politicians. 

Much effort has been undertaken by those that support the IPCC consensus to discredit skeptical voices, essentially dismissing them as cranks or at best rebels, or even politically motivated ‘deniers’.

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re: ¶4

No evidence is being offered.

Some people "question" whether Apollo spacecraft actually landed on the moon - so what!  Where is actual evidence supporting these doubts regarding the IPCC consensus?


¶5)  Students of science are taught to reject ad popular or ‘bandwagon’ appeals, a sentiment is articulated by the motto of the UK Royal Society: ‘nullius in verba’, which is roughly translated as ‘take nobody’s word for it’.  How then, and why, have climate scientists come to a scientific consensus about a very complex scientific problem that the consensus-supporting scientists themselves acknowledge has substantial and fundamental uncertainties?

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re: ¶5
By invoking Lord Monckton's tried and true crowd pleaser, Curry has now crossed over, into political theater.  

There isn't a field of science that doesn't fit this description of her's.  Furthermore, Curry assumes IPCC reports, members and the greater scientific community don't appreciate that today's consensus is provisional and moldable according to new data.

Nor does Curry ever touch on the reality that scientists are an extremely intelligent competitive lot.  Extraordinary claims requires extraordinary proof!  

Why doesn't Curry produce them - instead we get dead philiosophers?  

Why does Curry assume a "jumping on the bandwagon"

Why never openly consider that scientists were driven to the "consensus" by the force of the evidence.

It's dirt easy to toss out smears, 
quite another thing to produce real evidence.

There is no attempt to outline specific flaws with the "consensus."


Consensus and dissent
¶6)  The debate surrounding the consensus on climate change is complicated by the complexity of both the scientific and the associated sociopolitical issues.  

The debate surrounding the climate science is conducted be people who have Ayn Rand books tucked under their arms during their conventions.  And the hallway talk concerns protecting "Free Market" principles, rather than arguing over the latest Earth processes study.

Whereas in the lecture halls of academia and convention centers - during the various stages of IPCC's production - honest critique and lively arguments are alive and well.  
The record is there but Curry willfully ignores it.


Underlying this debate is a fundamental tension between two competing conceptions of scientific inquiry: the consensual view of science versus the dissension view.  

The consensual view....... versus....... the dissension view
No this may be the rage of philosophers, but real science are about data, gathering it and interpreting it and figuring out how to improve the collective knowledge.


Under the consensual approach, the goal of science is a consensus of rational opinion over the widest possible field.  

The opposing view of science is that of dissension, whereby scientific progress occurs via subversion of consensus in favor of new experiments, ideas and theories.


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re: ¶6
Curry writes: "whereby scientific progress occurs via subversion of consensus in favor of new experiments, ideas and theories."

That's quite the novel idea:  "science progress" if you feel justified framing the process as "occurs via subversion of consensus"
Subversion sounds like a war, where all tactics are ordained to win the cause.

Science is about learning  Adding to existing knowledge.  
Scientists don't subvert knowledge! They build on it! 


¶7)  When is it reasonable for a person to conform to a consensus and when is it reasonable to dissent?

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re: ¶7

This is the crux of the issue. 
This sounds like crazy-making "conform(ing) to a consensus"
The understanding is driven by the evidence which percolates up as a consensus.
a provisional consensus at that.

A "consensus" the nothing more than the collective understanding.
It stands by the evidence, which is what Curry's paper skips over.


¶8)  With genuinely well-established scientific theories, ‘consensus’ is not discussed and the concept of consensus is arguably irrelevant.  For example, there is no point to discussing a consensus that the Earth orbits the sun, or that the hydrogen molecule has less mass than the nitrogen molecule.  


This is a misrepresentation of the the lively interaction that goes on within the climatological community.  No one with good science is shut out, because gathering as much knowledge as possible is the goal.  Curry paranoid vision does not reflect the reality.  Why all these paragraphs of handwaving - where is some evidence to justify her opining?

Curry alludes to the fact that many phenomena are know to a high enough degree of understanding, so that self-evident conclusions can be made.  

Climatologists have amassed a body of evidence that allows for such hard conclusions to be made.  The areas of uncertainty are minuscule.  And Curry offer no evidence to suggest otherwise!


While a consensus may arise surrounding a specific scientific hypothesis or theory, the existence of a consensus is not itself the evidence.

|actual factual|politicized opining|conspiracy|misdirection|misrepresentation-X|NO evidence provided-X| 
re: ¶8

Right, and what climatologist claims such a thing!?
The weight of the evidence drives the consensus!
Where does Curry actually weigh their evidence?
Nothing but these sinister allusions.

But, specific evidence is nowhere to be seen. 


¶9)  The issue of challenges to the IPCC consensus statement on attribution is not analogous to Galileo-like revolutionaries.  Rather these challenges are associated with a concern about the oversimplification by the IPCC of a complex issue in the interests of policy making.  

Conversely the heart of Curry's "skeptical-subversive" "challenges" is founded on taking minute statistical discrepancies, then hyper-inflating them beyond all realistic justifications. 

All the while striving to drown out all efforts to review the full spectrum of incoming data.


How to reason about uncertainties in the complex climate system and its computer simulations is neither simple nor obvious. Scientific debates involve controversies over the value and importance of particular classes of evidence as well as disagreement about the appropriate logical framework for linking and assessing the evidence. 

The IPCC faces a daunting challenge with regards to characterizing and reasoning about uncertainty, assessing the quality of evidence, linking the evidence into arguments, identifying areas of ignorance and assessing confidence levels.  

Excellent statement.  
These are issues climatologists and the IPCC consistently confront and discuss.

When will Curry actually define the levels of uncertainty she finds unacceptable?
What level of certainty is she expecting?
What about all the other geophysical and biological indicators supporting the collective climatological understanding?

Why no fair examination?   
Where is your evidence?  
What data informs your pronouncements?


An overarching concern is how the issue of climate change is framed scientifically and how judgments about confidence in complex scientific arguments are made in view of the cascade of uncertainties.
Excellent sentence.  To bad it's drown out by the rest.  

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re: ¶9

These are issues climatologists and the IPCC consistently confront and discuss.

Why doesn't Curry include available examples of the dynamic climatological community's attention to these issues?

Calendar: 2012 for IPCC Overview:


¶10)  Given the complexity of the climate problem, ‘expert judgments’ about uncertainty and confidence levels are made by the IPCC on issues that are dominated by unquantifiable uncertainties.

 It is difficult to avoid concluding that the IPCC consensus is manufactured and that the existence of this consensus does not lend intellectual substance to their conclusions.

|actual factual|politicized opining-X|conspiracy -X|misdirection|misrepresentation-X|NO supporting evidence-X|
re: ¶10

Where is Curry's list of particulars? 
"dominated by unquantifiable uncertainties"

Big ugly charges like that demand big evidence and none has been present thus far in this "digest" of Curry's essay, nor in her actual essay for that matter.


Consensus and bias
¶11)  If the objective of scientific research is to obtain truth and avoid error, how might a consensus seeking process introduce bias into the science and increase the chances for error?  ‘Confirmation bias’ is a well-known psychological principle that connotes the seeking or interpreting of evidence in ways that are partial to existing beliefs, expectations, or an existing hypothesis. Confirmation bias usually refers to unwitting selectivity in the acquisition and interpretation of evidence.

|actual factual|politicized opining-X|conspiracy-X|misdirection|misrepresentation-X| NO evidence provided-X
re: ¶11

Once again, Curry sounds more like Lord Monckton, a political performance - than a dispassionate scientist.

What has she based her wild charges on?

What Curry ignores is that personal scientific competitiveness is alive and well within the community of climatologists.  They are not lemmings and Curry has brought no evidence to support her urban legends.



¶12)  Princeton philosopher Thomas Kelly provides some insight into confirmation bias, arguing that a prior belief can skew the total evidence that is available subsequently in a direction that is favorable to itself. Kelly also finds that individuals tend to be significantly better at detecting fallacies when the fallacy occurs in an argument for a conclusion which they disbelieve, rather than for a conclusion in which they believe.  

Kelly identifies a further source of confirmation bias in the consensus building process, whereby as more and more peers weigh in on the issue, the higher order psychological evidence of what others believe can eventually swamp the first order evidence into virtual insignificance.

|actual factual|politicized opining-X|conspiracy|misdirection-X|misrepresentation|NO evidence provided-X 
re: ¶12

This paper is supposed to be about weaknesses in the climatologist's collective understanding regarding Anthropogenic Global Warming, not Moncktonian musing on dead philosophers.

Without any concrete evidence these musings belong in soft leather, scotch soaked, smoking rooms.  They have nothing of utility.  Since all honest scientists are well aware of conformational bias dangers.

When it comes to climate change we are talking about a real massive physical entity, not a philosophical dog-chasing-tail debate.  It doesn't matter if we have a ten percent uncertainty when one considers our massive Earth and it processes.  And the uncertainties are way less than 10%.


¶13)  With regards to the IPCC, cognitive biases in the context of an institutionalized consensus building process have arguably resulted in the consensus becoming increasingly confirmed in a self-reinforcing way, to the detriment of the scientific process.

|actual factual|politicized opining-X|conspiracy-|misdirection|misrepresentation-X| NO evidence provided-X 
re: ¶13

Curry says "have arguably resulted in the consensus becoming increasingly confirmed in a self-reinforcing way, to the detriment of the scientific process."
Curry, has yet to produce any real evidence, not even specific arguments, to reinforce her own conception that the IPCC workings are broken.  Only innuendo.  

I believe Curry won't discuss Earth Observation studies with their consistent patterns because they reveal, very well, why the majority of serious people "believe" the consensus.


Role of scientific consensus in decision making
¶14)  The mandate of the IPCC is to provide policy‐relevant information to policy makers involved in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  

Based upon the precautionary principle, 
the UNFCCC established a qualitative climate goal for the long term: avoiding dangerous climate change by stabilization of the concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases. 

The IPCC scientific assessments play a primary role in legitimizing national and international policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

The main practical objective of the IPCC has been to assess whether there is sufficient certainty in the science so as to trigger political action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

This objective has led to the IPCC assessments being framed around identifying anthropogenic influences on climate, environmental and socio-economic impacts of climate change, and stabilization of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

| actual factual-X| politicized opining | conspiracy | misdirection | misrepresentation | NO evidence provided |
re: ¶14

A good description.
But, why no discussion of the precautionary principle?

Why not discuss of the massive forces we are tampering with?
I wonder if Hurricane Sandy will get some "skeptics" to consider how immense their gamble is?


¶15)  This relationship between expertise and policy is described as the linear model of expertise, or ‘speaking truth to power’, whereby first science has to ‘get it right’ and then policy comes into play. 

Curry tosses out an idea like "linear model" but offers no definition or explanation.
What does linear model have to do with climatology in action?

You know the on-the-ground gathering and processing of information... the get out there in the real world and see what's happening sort of stuff.

Here again no supporting evidence only her supposition.


The influence of science on policy is assumed to be deterministic: if the scientific facts are ‘sound,’ then they have a direct impact on policy. In the linear model, the key question is whether existing scientific knowledge is certain enough, or there is a consensus of experts, to compel action.

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Fair enough.  But, I notice that Curry makes no examination of the level of "certainty." 
Sticking only to her suppositions and opinions backed by unspoken urban legends.

Why not objectively examine the degree of certainty in the scientific knowledge informing policy?


¶16)  Dutch social scientist Jeroen Van der Sluijs argues that the IPCC has adopted a ‘speaking consensus to power’ approach that sees uncertainty and dissent as problematic, and attempts to mediate these into a consensus.  

Why does Curry present these Moncktonian misdirections?  Who cares what some Van der Sluijs argues.  

We're supposed to be considering the real world voracity of IPCC's "consensus" ! 


The ‘speaking consensus to power’ strategy acknowledges that available knowledge is inconclusive, and uses consensus as a proxy for truth through a negotiated interpretation of the inconclusive body of scientific evidence. 

This is just so much opining - where are Curry's specific examples, where is Curry's evidence?  Tossing out insults and charges is cheap, providing evidence is gold.


The ‘consensus to power’ strategy reflects a specific vision of how politics deals with scientific uncertainties and endeavors to create a  knowledge base for decision making following the linear model of expertise.

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re: ¶16

This claim of "consensus to power" is an inaccurate portrayal and willfully ignores the libraries full data and studies and the actual process that goes into developing IPCC reports.



¶17)  The linear model of expertise works well for ‘tame’ problems, where everyone essentially agrees on both the problem and the solution.  Successes in managing tame problems are evident in the domains of engineering and regulatory science.  

Climate change has been framed by the UNFCCC/IPCC as a relatively ‘tame’ problem that requires a straightforward solution, namely the top-down creation of a global carbon market. 

However, climate change is arguably characterized better as a ‘wicked problem’ or a ‘mess’. ‘Messes’ and ‘wicked problems’ are characterized by multiple problem definitions, methods that are open to contention and solutions that are variable and disputed, and  ‘unknown unknowns’ that suggest chronic conditions of ignorance and lack of capacity to imagine future eventualities of both the problem and the proposed solutions.

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re: ¶17

No attempt is made to outline why climate change is a "wicked problem" - nor to disentangle how much of that wicked problem has to do with the scientific evidence and how much of the "wickedness" has to do with confronting the implications of what the science is telling us.

It seems to me Curry (and that tiny fraternity of contrarian scientists) approach this problem from the butt end.  Namely, the implications of the science are so horrendous that every attempt is made to discredit and ignore the science.

Whereas an intellectually honest and humanitarian way to approach this wicked problem would be: 
A)  What is the science telling us about our planet and it's processes?
B)  How are we going to deal with the implications of that knowledge?

But, here we get nothing better than a Moncktonian performance where the narrator uses a fiction writer's-license to weave an emotional story of her own fancy.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
If you want to learn about the IPCC, 
why not try to hear their side of the story?

"This IPCC.ch webpage contains news from the IPCC 
that was issued either as a press release, media advisory or a press statement."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Unintended consequences of the IPCC consensus
¶18)  The consensus approach used by the IPCC has received a number of criticisms. Concerns have been raised about the need to guard against overconfidence and overemphasize expected outcomes. 

Where are the specific criticisms and their justification?
Why no discussion of ways that the IPCC have dealt with criticism and grown?


The consensus approach being used by the IPCC has failed to produce a thorough portrayal of the complexities of the problem and the associated uncertainties in our understanding, in favor of spuriously constructed expert opinion. 

What "consensus approach"?
No discussion of how the IPCC approaches their consensus?  
Just recrimination?
Vague insinuations, that other's blow into horrors.

¿ What about the IPCC, that is the many volunteer scientists, reviewing hundred, adding into thousands of studies.  Many lively meetings, ideas and studies being wrestled with and may the best information/idea win the day.  To be challenge all over again tomorrow.

Distilling the most value information available, never perfect, but admittedly so.  And most important always advancing.

Why does Judith Curry feel so comfortable demeaning that human effort, that has produced outstanding results when viewed through objectives eyes... and eyes focused on our planet rather than political/economic needs.


¶18)  Further, concerns are being raised that the IPCC’s consensus claim is distorting the science itself, as scientists involved in the IPCC process consider the impact of their statements on the ability of the IPCC to defend its previous claims of consensus.

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re: ¶18

"concerns are being raisedBut, not one damned specific to be listed!

Here again, Curry makes assumption ~ and insinuates ~ that the consensus statements can't be supported or justified.  

But, has yet to offer any objective delineation of her reasoning or her supporting evidence.  

No specifics, no facts...  this isn't a study, it's an opinion piece.


¶19)  While the IPCC’s consensus approach acknowledges uncertainties, defenders of the IPCC consensus have expended considerable efforts in the ‘boundary work’ of distinguishing those qualified to contribute to the climate change consensus from those who are not.  

What a bizarre appraisal.

Papers and studies are read by a wide body of experts.  Issues are discussed, the more radical issues get discussed even more. If they got evidentiary legs they really get talked about and looked at.  It's always "where's the evidence; how does the new data look; how do we perceive these trend lines; etc.

Curry seems to imply scientists are drummed out for subversive and unjustified reasons.   
But, offers no actual history or data or anything specific. 
Curry neglects to mention the facts of life of all professions:  
Slip-shot work, mistakes, failures add up if not learned from.
All professions have folks who have been drummed out. 
There is also that small percentage who will never admit their own shortcomings and become resentful.  But, all that get's into personal stuff away from actual Earth appreciation efforts. 
Curry should openly review the motivations of herself and consider how her own value judgements are impacting her work.   

These efforts have characterized skeptics as small in number, extreme, and scientifically suspect.   

Curry bring no evidence, no specific to support her claim.
No review of who these skeptics are.
No review of their studies.
Nor does she review the reasons those studies were rejected.


These efforts create temptations to make illegitimate attacks on scientists whose views do not align with the consensus, and to dismiss any disagreement as politically motivated ‘denialism’. The use of ‘denier’ to label anyone who disagrees with the IPCC consensus on attribution leads to concerns being raised about the IPCC being enforced as dogma, which is tied to how dissent is dealt with.

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re: ¶19

This is just another over-wrought emotionalized attempt to prejudice the audience.  

 "illegitimate attacks on scientists whose views do not align with the consensus..." 

Curry makes many loaded charges, but offers no actual evidence.


¶20)  The linear model of expertise places science at the center of political debate. Scientific controversies surrounding evidence of climate change have thus become a proxy for political battles over whether and how to react to climate change. 

"The linear model of expertise"  

This is a distraction.  

We need to recognize and define the line between understanding Earth processes and confronting the implications of those lessons.

In my opinion one of the most dishonest tactics has been the blurring of those lines.  
Curry offers nothing to help clarify that challenge.  

Aren't we supposed to be weighing the voracity of the collective scientific "consensus" regarding global warming?  


Therefore, winning a scientific debate results in a privileged position in political battle, hence providing motivation for defending the consensus. 

Notice this Dr.Curry slight of hand, transmuting the "scientific debate" into a sort of business battle proposition.

Curry has reduced it to a political process fighting for business interests.


As a result, it has become difficult to disentangle political arguments about climate policies from scientific arguments about the evidence for human-induced climate change. The quality of both political debate and scientific practice can suffer as a consequence.

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re: ¶20

Well Curry, you have just described your own crazy-making.

She had done nothing to help disentangle or enlighten our challenge of understanding the science in the face of "science's lessons" being harsh ones these days.


¶21)  The linear model of expertise ‘speaking consensus to power’ tends to stifle discussion of alternative policy approaches. 
Once again, no list of issues that had supposedly been stifled.

The IPCC has framed its assessment around the UNFCCC policy of stabilizing greenhouse emissions, 
That's a huge assertion.  
It sounds like Curry is implying that the IPCC predetermines their finds.
What are these allegations based on?

focusing its scientific assessment on the attribution of climate change and the sensitivity of climate change to greenhouse gases. 

The narrow focus on issues of attribution masks major political implications, marginalizes issues around adaptation and development, 

Why shouldn't "political implications" be "marginalized" when it comes to understanding Earth processes?  
How can we hope to make wise decisions if we don't objectively understand the situation.


and fails to engage with alternative approaches and to generate ideas to inform its ‘solutions’.

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|political theater-X| 

Why doesn't Curry clearly define the difference between understanding and attribution studies - and political implications?  Our planet will do what it will do, it is humanity who needs to learn how to continue to survive on her.  

Again nothing more that opining, no objective evidence offered.


¶22)  While the public may not understand the complexity of the science or be predisposed culturally to accept the consensus, they can certainly understand the vociferous debates over the science portrayed by the media.  


Right and wasn't this supposed to be some to tool toward resolving this impasse regarding the voracity of "IPCC's consensus" ?

What has Curry offered us by way of clarification or plan for resolution?
All she's done is weave a tale.

As for the public "certainly understanding the vociferous debates" it's sad that she doesn't reflect on the manipulations that created this atmosphere of polarization and distrust.

All Curry does is stoke the fires.


 Further, they can judge the social facts surrounding the consensus building process, including those revealed by the so-called “Climategate” episode, and decide whether to trust the experts whose opinion comprises the consensus.

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More politics and adding to confusion rather than any desire to clarify.  Instead of presenting a case Curry has repeated an opinion and proceeded as if it were a self-evident truth which her ideas most certainly are not.

As for dirty tricks, it's easy enough to make the wildest claims regarding those emails
Bringing up evidence is much more difficult.
Curry hasn't done so, she simply wants us to believe her urban legend.


¶23)  In summary, the manufactured consensus of the IPCC has arguably had the unintended consequences of distorting the science, elevating the voices of scientists that dispute the consensus, and motivating actions by the consensus scientists and their supporters that have diminished the public’s trust in the IPCC.

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re: ¶23

There is nothing to summarize here, Curry has basically repeated her opening urban legend and done nothing to support her conviction.

"the manufactured consensus" Curry uses those words as a sign of guilt.  
Guilt of what she won't actually define.
But, the reality of the matter is that the IPCC statements are manufactured out of the efforts of thousands of scientist's studies and hundreds of co-ordinating and writing teams, working together and proceeding along a clear path.  Not all is perfect, mistakes have been made, but what else is new with humanity.  I have included various links for those who'd like to hear 'the rest of the story.'

Curry, wants us to trust her word and believes that IPCC should be distrusted.
But such claims stretch incredulity, specially considering Curry never provides actual specifics.
Always handwaving.

Why should I trust Dr. Curry's word, based on the misrepresentations and mesmerizing I've read in her digest?
She has shown herself to be too easy with the lies of omission, slander, deception.


Ways forward
¶24)  The linear model of climate science expertise conceals uncertainties, ambiguities, dissent and ignorance behind a scientific consensus.

How can Curry offer ways forwards when she is still mired in urban myths?

An objective look at science papers clearly shows that the major of studies devote sections to defining and discussing uncertainties and data collection issues.  They don't make their uncertainties a secret.  It's not a lawyers game to them, it about learning.  

Look at websites where scientists communicate with each other, or listen to their lectures, it becomes quite obvious it is a vibrant healthy field of dedicated experts.  

Curry's radical distasteful insinuations are groundless insults.  

This essay is a hollow urban legend a salve to cover political motivations.  
It brings nothing new to the discussion.

Worse > it distracts our attention from what we really need to be learning about.


The most important actions that are needed with regards to climate science – particularly in context of the IPCC assessment reports –  are explicit reflection on uncertainties, ambiguities and areas of ignorance (both known and unknown unknowns) and more openness for dissent in the IPCC processes.  

The most important actions is to finally realize our planet it an immense entity - 
an organism that works on time scales and levels of momentum, most don't fathom.

And that we have been conducting a gigantic global geo-physical experiment with our planet's "global heat distribution engine"

And that society depends on nice weather and we shouldn't thoughtlessly disrupt historic patterns.

And that we had better start listening to the scientists! Not agenda driven thinks tank and their PR creations.


Greater openness about scientific uncertainties and ignorance, and more transparency about dissent and disagreement, would provide policymakers with a more complete picture of climate science and its limitations. In the context of iterative risk management, policy makers need insight into the rate of learning, as well as what is known and unknown.

|actual factual|politicized opining-X|conspiracy-X| misdirection|misrepresentation-X| NO evidence provided-X|
re: ¶24

There is plenty of openness and it is this type of misdirection away from the actual science and the actual observations and the actual geo-physical facts of our planet and our utter dependence on a benign climate regime that is damning the future.

¶25)  Moving forward requires a reassessment of the ‘consensus to power’ approach for the science-policy interface that has evolved in the context of the IPCC and UNFCCC. 

The challenge is to open up the decision making processes in a way that renders their primary nature more honestly political and economic, while giving proper weight to scientific reason and evidence.

|actual factual|politicized opining-X|conspiracy-X| misdirection|misrepresentation-X| NO evidence provided-X|
re: ¶25

"The challenge is to open up the decision making processes (of the IPCC ?) in a way that renders their primary nature more honestly political and economic,"  

This sounds like Curry is encouraging the IPCC to subordinate their science to political and economic considerations.  That is one awful anti-science idea!  

Getting real about moving ahead means getting real about grasping, understanding, dare I say, appreciating our "Global Heat Distribution Engine" 
with it's increasingly insulating atmosphere!

Furthermore, gaining some respect for how dependent we are on the weather as we've known it.  And how disruptive altering those historic patterns will be.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Furthermore, Curry has yet to provide any evidence supporting her contention that the IPCC process is guilty of not being open to the full spectrum of scientific and observational studies available.  


¶26)  There are frameworks for decision making under deep uncertainty and ignorance that accept uncertainty and dissent as key elements of the decision making process.  Rather than choosing an optimal policy based on a scientific consensus, decision makers can design robust and flexible policy strategies that account for uncertainty, ignorance and dissent.  Robust strategies formally consider uncertainty, whereby decision makers seek to reduce the range of possible scenarios over which the strategy performs poorly.  Flexible strategies are adaptive, and can be quickly adjusted to advancing scientific insights.

| actual factual | politicized opining | conspiracy | misdirection | misrepresentation | NO evidence provided |re: ¶26

This sounds like some salesmen pitch, lots and lots of fancy words but it doesn't say or explain anything.  Nor has Curry presented any sort of evidence based argument in this essay.


¶27)  The climate community has worked for more than 20 years to establish a scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change.  

This is simply crazy-making.

Earth Scientists and support staffs have worked for decades to solve each years new mysteries and to build up a coherent understanding of the various processes at work.

And they have achieved an advanced level of understanding, warts and all, and it's an ongoing process, with spirited young scientists filled with ideals, integrity and a competitive spirit double checking the work of their professors and professional elders.  

It's a beautiful thing, undeservedly being maligned by Curry's contempt.

What is the point of all her verbiage in this digest of a study but to distract precious time and energy from looking at the actual science and real world observations?


Perspectives from multiple disciplines support the inference that the scientific consensus seeking process used by the IPCC has had the unintended consequence of introducing biases into the both the science and related decision making processes. 

Curry produced nothing to support this claim
The IPCC scientific consensus has become convoluted with consensus decision making through a ‘speaking consensus to power’ approach.  

Curry produced nothing to support this claim
The growing implications of the messy wickedness of the climate change problem are becoming increasingly apparent, highlighting the inadequacies of the ‘consensus to power’ approach for decision making on the complex issues associated with climate change. 
Curry produced nothing to define "wickedness", nor offered any strategy for dealing with it.
Further, research from the field of science and technology studies are finding that manufacturing a consensus in the context of the IPCC has acted to hyper-politicize the scientific and policy debates, to the detriment of both.  

Curry failed to mention the active campaign of "manufactured doubt" and how that has poisoned citizens ability to come to a coherent understanding of the climate change situation we are in.
Arguments are increasingly being made to abandon the scientific consensus seeking approach in favor of open debate of the arguments themselves and discussion of a broad range of policy options that stimulate local and regional solutions to the multifaceted and interrelated issues of climate change, land use, resource management, cost effective clean energy solutions, and developing technologies to expand energy access efficiently.

| actual factual|politicized opining|conspiracy|misdirection|misrepresentation|NO evidence provided|
re: ¶27

This sounds like more of the same old salesmen pitch, lots and lots of fancy words and ugly insinuations but it doesn't explain or justify anything.  And nowhere in this desert of introspection is there any mention of what the Earth Observation based knowledge is telling us.

2374 words
8 pages
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Climate change: no consensus on consensus
by Judith Curry

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For those interested in the rest of the story I recommend:

SkS:  Ben Santer changed the 1995 IPCC report

And a film of a debate between Andrew Dessler and Richard Lindzen

And a talk by Dr. Ben Santer himself:


Yesterday I posted a courtesy notice over at JudithCurry.com regarding my review.  This morning there were lots of critical comments and I replied with the following:

"An awful lot of talk there... with "Consensus" being contorted into a straw man.  It is Earth Observations driving the current state of climatological understanding, "the collective considered opinion" -  Climatologists dang well appreciate that "consensus" is spelled with a small "c" and that it is subject to change as the evidence justifies. 
You folks present a false image of what a working "consensus" is and a false impression of how the climatological community operates.

Furthermore your intimations of malfeasance never rise above Urban Legend blahblah. 
And yes, my "challenge" probably isn't perfectly coherent, 

but than I'm not a scholar, just an interested working man - who's had it with the crazy-making of the proud contrarian on a matter as important as our Grand Atmospheric Experiment."


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