Friday, November 21, 2014

Secret Life of Trolls Part 3: Hoyt's Showdown - examined

Continued from Trollus Maximus, HoytC, Secret Life of Trolls #1 examined.  I'm skipping the second video and reviewing #3 of's series "Meet the Climate Trolls." The "showdown" between Rosi and Hoyt provides a good study in contrarian tactics vs. science messenger mistakes.
{last edited 11/23 morning}
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Rosi did something most hide from and for good reason. Going face to face with a contrarian, a long time insurance exec no less, a man who's got the domination thing down, not to mention the tactical speaking skills, is a formidable challenge. Rosi broke the ice, I want to build on that with this long winded review. Besides my own learning exercise, I want to share it with anyone interested in better understanding climate science contrarian tactics. 


For starters, anyone who steps out into that arena should be aware that contrarians aren't into hearing your concepts or arguments. They are about emotional gamesmanship. Your opponent will deliberately sidestep the essence of what you are conveying and launch diversions to throw you off balance, as this video demonstrates.

They will scramble your prepared remarks by matching what you are trying to explain with something from left field, then inappropriately cutting and pasting valid objections from one topic into another. Then while you're back peddling to straighten out the misinformation, they pile it on.

Keep in mind most of these intelligent serious global warming science denialists types, were men of power in previous lives. They've got decades worth of business/negotiating skills and a ruthlessness you won't learn in college. Get to recognize how the truth of a matter doesn't interest them in the slightest. Notice how it's all about the game of f'ing with your presentation. Unfortunately, it's always been easier to be a vandal than a builder, so beware all who enter within.

I'd be awful at the public debate myself. I want it in writing. Sitting here behind this keyboard absorbing the exchange and having all the time in the world to ponder each sentence and response allows me to do a better job than Rosi did. Rosi, James my apologies if the following seems hard ball, it is, but it comes from a constructive desire; and it's the only way we learn and grow.

VIDEO: The Secret Life of Trolls
Posted by James West and Tim McDonnell on Monday, May 20, 2013  

Secret Life of Trolls Part 3: #Showdown 
Published on May 19, 2013 
For better or worse, online, people have the luxury to lob bombs from behind a keyboard barricade. Which led us to launch an experiment: What if the trolls and the troll slayers met face to face and talked it out, analog-style (or as close as we can get with Google Hangout)? For all their differences, The Hoyts and Rosi have one thing in common: they aren't cowards. They agreed to square off in a debate about online commenting, climate change, and what defines truth in the digital age. Watch Episode Three, The Showdown.

Sometimes I use the singular Hoyt, sometimes "The Hoyts" since he is simply parroting lines he's been taught and I am addressing the wider community. No quotations = my description // {...} = my commentary // Courier font = Hoyt's words.
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James West - Climate Desk

0:14 James: "...not only talk about the points of disagreement but also talk about the cultural online commenting and the way that's shaping the climate change debate."

{Too many promises for such a short segment}
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0:25 James:  "Now let's start off with you Rosi you've been commenting on internet comment boards for a really long time.  I just want you to reflects on a little bit on how much more virulent it's become over the last couple years."

0:40 Rosi:  "It just seems like often times that the arguments instead of being a lot of people asking, maybe how the science works, or talking about this, it tends to devolve into this ... like sort of, I don't know, mess of name calling."

0:53 Hoyt: "So I would turn around and say, okay we have these huge conflicts to the concept global warming in my opinion that's where the vitriol comes from where you're attempting to impose policies on a theory.

{Hoyt muddles two issues that James should have been at pains to separate because it leads to so much mischief.

Concept of global warming
Politics and Policies that are informed by that knowledge }
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1:08 Rosi: "I actually think the science is just as well founded, as almost any other science that's out there.  All we can say is we have this model it agrees with all the data and there are no competing models." 

{Pointing at a book doesn't tell the audience what's in it.

How about,  I believe science makes clear we live on a small globe spinning around a frigid universe.  Look at our planet, land, oceans and that oh so thin layer of atmosphere being heated by the distant sun.  (If you could hike straight up you'd be through it in an easy three hour walk).  

{Greenhouse gases are a key element of that atmosphere even if measured in ppms, they really matter, it's indisputable science.  Society is adding over two gigatons a month, we've increased the concentration of those greenhouse gases by over a third in less than two centuries. The planet will warm, that will energize the climate system and that will result in radically different climate patterns from what humanity has ever experienced.  This is the model.  Where are the flaws!?  What's not to trust?

Why bring out the "model" word anyways? That's a red flag for these guys.  And what model is being talked about? You left yourself sooo open to ridicule by someone who's not interested in nuances, but who wants to make you look foolish.

You'd have done better to echo Hoyt's own words "concept of global warming" and build on that.

Stay away from the word "model" unless you've figured out how to explain models as the scientific learning tools they are. Explain why models can't be expected to perfectly mimic geophysical processes.  
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The second thing The Hoyts do is commingle the soundness of the science with establishing policy and political interests. "the vitriol comes from where you're attempting to impose policies on a theory."

"All Stop! WHAT THEORY?" Make him explain himself.  
Make Hoyt disentangle his claims.
Force him to explain what part of the science he thinks is "unsound" and why he thinks that way.

Point out that scientists aren't being asked to write policy - scientists are asked to report on their observations.  If those observations are stark and threatening so be it - figure out how to deal with it.  Policy makers are supposed to be wise enough to deal with the facts.

Find a way to expose how The Hoyts want to ignore science because of it's implications for the policy, nay his pocket book. Rather than duke it out in the policy arena, they want to keep the science from reaching the policy chambers. 

Ask The Hoyts about the "free corporate market" philosophy dedicated to maximizing profits, minimizing "externalities" since just compensation and sustainability cut into profits.  Does it color his willingness to entertain the "scientific consensus"?}
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1:19 Hoyt: 44 IPCC models have come out and have been proven to be wrong.

{What's he mean by "proven to be wrong", make him explain it.  Be prepare to put it in perspective - "what does uncertainty in small details and timing have to do with understanding the reality and seriousness of this situation?"

Then be prepared to talk about models being learning tools and that different questions produce different results.

Simply looking at a model output with uninformed eyes and saying oh that's not what the weatherman reported so the model is garbage, is absolutely nonsense. - figure out how to explain that in two sentences or less.}
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1:24 Rosi: so sometimes what happens with these discussions they say look at this one point that's not right on as the models prediction and it means everything's wrong 

1:37 James: do you think you're guilty of cherry picking or that the cherries you've picked have caused enough doubt for you. 

{What's that about? There's a better way to ask it.}
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1:45 Hoyt: We all have to be cognizant of cherry picking, let me give you an example, Hurricane Sandy, how many headline did you see on Hurricane Sandy: that was caused by global warming.

{Every serious article was explaining that global warming was only one of many factors that influenced that weather event. But AGW certainly was an active ingredient in Sandy's development and the extreme damage it caused.

Higher sea levelsextra warm ocean temperature feeding the cyclone system, the odd behavior of the jet stream, all those have the imprint of global warming all over them.

The way The Hoyts shrugs off even considering a connection reveals their actual disinterest in understanding the topic.

Call him on it.}
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1:54 Rosi: "no but journalists, you see ... "

{Why are you chasing his bone?  Letting that ignorant characterization stand, looks like you basically agree with his point; "perhaps global warming had nothing to do with Hurricane Sandy" - Which is disconnected nonsense, of course global warming was a factor in Hurricane Sandy's development, it's the environment we exist within.

But no one was ready for Hoyt's ploy and he achieved his 'debate point'.  This was the place to make clear that we live in a warming world and no weather pattern is escaping its influence in our brave new world. }
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2:10 Hoyt: "it's the headline grabber and what you have here is these groups, for, for a lack of nothing else but the basic competition in research, research grants, research dollars, getting heard, you know being published."

{This should be another full stop. 
You should demand a justification for such malicious slander. What's he got a couple nasty quotes and a whole bunch of contrived paranoia. But James let's him get away with it, rather than calling him on it. } 
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2:15 James: ... Rosi, do you have dollar signs in your eyes all day long?

{why are you being diffident to Hoyt when he just expressed some totally unfounded and malicious crap like that?  And then you make it worse by pursuing his malicious narrative, rather then calling him on it.

Get what this man said?
First, he believes we don't need people studying our atmosphere, or oceans and all that fantastic spectrum of Earth's geophysical reality.

Secondly, where's the examples? If money grubbing is so pervasive why nothing but a few nasty words among friends. James use the opportunity to ask about confirmation bias.  Demand some justification instead of going along with such a malicious narrative! }
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2:20 Rosi: "There's this assertion that's a little bit frustrating.  Because it's people who go into science, most of us we don't go into it for the money.  We actually go into it because we care what the answers are." 

{Nice, but it needs to be better. - good place for more about the passion for learning and understanding and how that ties into personal values.  Be prepared to verbalize your feelings in short sharp quotes.}
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2:33 Hoyt: (voice raised in indignation) "I invite you to go read the emails from Jones and Mann.  It is guilty as charged on wanting to influence review boards on various publications."

{ Another full stop!

Exactly what emails is Hoyt talking about? Make him pull out his quotes, let's look at what was actually written, along with its context. Don't be afraid of looking at the ClimateGate emails, because the unwritten story of those thousands and thousands of emails that were stolen and gone over with a fine toothed comb, is what a ethical hard working dedicated to accuracy bunch of researchers they were/are, worts and all.

Ask about subsequent events. Was there evidence of anyone acting on Mann/Jones' puff of indignant steam? (PS. and what were they upset about?, some lousy sub-standard paper being passed off as science, something worth being offended at.)

Ask for some proof instead of accepting his malicious spin, and going along with his narrative. I know I'm using "malicious" a lot but that's exactly what this climategate farce is about, malicious dirty tricks and misrepresentation.

Ask what personal conversations among a couple scientists have to do with understanding the science of climatology in the first place? 

Mann and Jones are simply a couple researchers among many tens of thousands of individuals that have contributed to the general understanding. Remind him scientists have been studying our atmosphere and climatology going back two centuries.  

Ask about The Hoyts double standard?  Why not call him on it? 
You know, what about the Republic/Libertarians dirty tricks? 
Why is it OK for them to repeatedly misrepresent the facts?}
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2:44 Rosi: "I can say if somebody were to take my entire inbox you would find some emails were I'm like, 'oh my god why does this point not agree with the model' [cut]  The process of doing science can be a little messy"

{See how he's led you away from the 'soundness of climatological understanding' into these useless tangents that have you scrambling to justify science itself. Hoyt owned this entire dialogue and James did precious little to spotlight his tricks, or to bring the discussion back on point - probably because of wanting to touch too many bases in too short a time.}
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2:55 Hoyt: "I have no disagree with continuing research but I have a huge disagreement on establishing policy on an unproven theory."

{WHAT "unproven theory" ! ?  Make Hoyt explain himself!

1) That CO2 is a greenhouse gas?

2) That humans are adding a couple gigatonnes of it into our atmosphere every month - above and beyond the long established 'natural' flux - 

3) That doing so is increasing the insulation ability of our atmosphere?

4) That increasing our atmosphere's insulating ability will warm up our global heat distribution engine and biosphere in general?

5) That warming is adding extra energy and moisture into our atmosphere, the basic elements of storm patterns?

6) That global warming will disrupt the long established circulation patterns that drive our weather systems?

7)  That we have a society that was conceived and nurtured within a wonderfully moderate plateau in our planet's climate history. Particularly the past eight thousand years or so, which coincidentally nurtured the rise of civilization and culture?

What part of climate theory do The Hoyts dispute???  }
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3:06 Rosi: "you're assuming something that's, that may or may not be true and you're not asking for proof for what you already assuming."

{You had something good there, but it didn't come across.  

I understand, he's got you on the ropes, you're slightly flustered, your most thoughtful lines will come out garbled.

Know your opponent, anticipate where he's going to try to blindside you.

Call them on their nonsense right away - don't allow their false assumptions/assertions dictate the dialogue. 

I know, it's way the heck easier said then done - but that's the only way to get your point across.  

Remember your dealing with people who aren't into pursuing an understanding, that isn't their intention.  Expose that, take advantage of it.}
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3:10 Hoyt: if I were to ask you, James OK James we just proved global warming and it gets crushed, what what happens to your job."

{Here again; why play into Hoyt's fantasy?

Ask him to explain what he believes "global warm theory" is all about?

Ask him if he has any notion of the many different fields of science that are involved in climate studies?  Is he oblivious to the many other applications of their research?  Expose that.

Why would Hoyts even consider those observational platforms and the folks who maintain them and collect the data and study it, then inform the rest of society, unimportant?  Why the disregard and lack of appreciation for learning about our planet Earth and it's biosphere?  Is it just an externality for him?

Ask him if he thinks his life is much effected by weather?
Ask him if he thinks global economy is much effected by weather?

Ask him how global warming could be disproven given that we're observing it everywhere (the fictitious "pause" not withstanding)?

Ask him what he thinks about the melting cryosphere, warming oceans and land masses, the disruption of tradition jet stream patterns, the weirdening of the weather that our jet stream pushes and pulls across our planet?  Does he think all those observations are frauds?

Ask him if his game is about confusing rather than learning?}
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3:21 James:" well I doubt that's gonna happen a few times and so I'm pretty confident you do realize that was most scientists we wouldn't lose our jobs.  You know like okay we research other things.  You know we'd research why the hell we have this model that swung long up and then swung down again.  You know actually our girls are more at risk for like stuff like this sequester than the model getting proved wrong."

{This ending was downright painful.

The downfall of this "showdown" was humoring Hoyt's distracting narrative, thus playing into it and leaving his ideas in everyone's memory, nothing was learned, nothing was gained.

Just the way they want it.  We need to do better.}

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Here's an excellent tour of our global heat distribution engine and the biosphere it supports - 
you know the thing we depend on for everything.  
Get your eye's back on the prize.

National Geographic 2014 Earth From Space

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Some history and food for thought:

The General Public: Why Such Resistance?
Ben Santer, Ph.D

Uploaded on May 13, 2010 
(February 25, 2010) Ben Santer, a research scientist from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, discusses the recent problems with the use of the freedom of information act for non-US citizens to demand complete records, including emails, on scientific research projects. Santer posits that this is a dangerous dilemma that will ultimately inhibit scientific research. 
This course was originally presented in Stanford's Continuing Studies program. 
Stanford Continuing Studies:
Stanford University Channel on YouTube:

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The Relentless Attack on Climate Scientist Ben Santer 
May 16, 2014 ~ Moyers and Company
The following is an excerpt from Merchants of Doubt by Erik M. Conway and Naomi Oreskes.  
"Ever since scientists first began to explain the evidence that our climate was warming — and that human activities were probably to blame — people have been questioning the data, doubting the evidence and attacking the scientists who collect and explain it. And no one has been more brutally — or more unfairly — attacked than Ben Santer.
"In 1995, the IPCC declared that the human impact on climate was now “discernible.” This wasn’t just a few individuals; by 1995 the IPCC had grown to include several hundred climate scientists from around the world. But how did they know that changes were under way, and how did they knowthey were caused by us? Those crucial questions were answered in Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change, the Second Assessment Report issued by the IPCC. Chapter 8 of this report, “Detection of Climate Change and Attribution of Causes,” summarized the evidence that global warming really was caused by greenhouse gases. Its author was Ben Santer. 
Ben Santer had impeccable scientific credentials, and he had never before been involved in even the suggestion of impropriety of any kind, but now a group of physicists tied to a think tank in Washington, DC, accused him of doctoring the report to make the science seem firmer than it really was. They wrote reports accusing him of “scientific cleansing” — expunging the views of those who did not agree. [1] …  Santer had made changes to the report, but not to deceive anyone. The changes were made in response to review comments from fellow scientists. …"Continue the story at:

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