Saturday, December 10, 2016

Profiles in Self-delusion - Dilbert’s Scott Adams

The cartoonist responsible for the “Dilbert” strip has decided to expand his reach into writing on climate science.  His first endeavor is such an excellent example of the self delusional mind doing it’s best to rationalize and embrace an avoidance of fundamental reality that I’ve decide to make a case study of it.

Victor Venema at has already written an interesting fairly detailed rebuttal at “Scott Adams: The Non-Expert Problem and Climate Change Science” and I recommend it because Victor, in keeping with his serious scientific sensibilities, offers Scott Adams’ the benefit of the doubt and takes the time to explain why Adams’ claims are misleading.

However, Scott Adams’ words convince me that his is nothing more than another cynical con game utilizing well worn tactics of strategic denial.  His exercise had nothing to do with an honest person trying to constructively explain his misgivings in an effort at better understanding. 

In this review I intent to focus on examining his disingenuous contrivances. 

First off please notice, rather than focusing on reviewing climate science fundamentals and known facts, Adams distracts with ‘slight of phrasing’ to draw the discussion away from where it needs to go, all the while striving to surreptitiously inoculate his audience with distrust and confusion at every turn.

December 5th, 2016 - tagged: #trump, #climate science

It seems to me that a majority of experts could be wrong whenever you have a pattern that looks like this
  1. A theory has been “adjusted” in the past to maintain the conclusion even though the data has changed. For example, “Global warming” evolved to “climate change” because the models didn’t show universal warming.
Be serious, a sober review of the history of climate science, which goes back two centuries, clearly shows that it has been a steady refinement of understanding driven by the evidence and not some wild haphazard guessing game the way Adams’ tries insinuating. 

As for Adams’ example of Global Warming v. Climate Change, it underscores a cynical childishness.  

Increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases produces more atmospheric insulation, which produces global warming, which produces climate change.  The words you choose, or the order you place them in hasn’t the slightest impact on the physical realities scientists are trying to teach the rest of us!

Also worth pointing out is the distinction between reporting on the scientific discussion, or reporting on media coverage and articles and claims by non-scientists.  Add to that, and tragically, Republicans have taken it as a right to lie about objective facts they find inconvenient.  

They call it Free Speech, I call it FRAUD!

2. Prediction models are complicated. When things are complicated you have more room for error. Climate science models are complicated.

Yes they are!  Yes, scientists also utilize what’s known as error bars, don’t you know?  

That is exactly why it takes real experts who have dedicated their lives to studying and learning about our life sustaining Earth and her various geophysical processes.  We are talking about a global community of informed intelligent skeptical humans that spans generations.

I wonder if Adams is aware of how many of these complications the scientists have paid attention to.  Here take a look.

Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis

1 Introduction - 4.5MB
2 Observations: Atmosphere and Surface - 38.3MB
3 Observations: Ocean - 48.3MB
4 Observations: Cryosphere - 12.8MB
5 Information from Paleoclimate Archives - 10.8MB
6 Carbon and Other Biogeochemical Cycles - 23.8MB
7 Clouds and Aerosols - 19.2MB
8 Anthropogenic and Natural Radiative Forcing - 18.9MB
9 Evaluation of Climate Models - 24.6MB
10 Detection and Attribution of Climate Change: From Global to Regional - 10.4MB
11 Near-term Climate Change: Projections and Predictability - 14.1MB
12 Long-term Climate Change: Projections, Commitments - Irreversibility - 36.6MB
13 Sea Level Change - 32.9MB
14 Climate Phenomena - Relevance for Future Regional Climate Change - 10.6MB

3. The models require human judgement to decide how variables should be treated. This allows humans to “tune” the output to a desired end. This is the case with climate science models.

Here Adams’ plays one of the most malicious cards, vaguely insinuating that scientists shouldn’t be trusted because they must use their own judgement.  What is that all about?

It doesn’t occur to him that across the board scientist’s prime objective is to get their work as accurate as possible.  Adjustments are made with well reasoned and documented justifications.  Ignoring that reality is also another example of fraudulent intent. 

I know from listening to at least a hundred and more lectures by scientists discussing their work - that they are consistently self-critical, something you’ll not find within the self-certain contrarian community.  They are all around skeptical and they are conservative to a fault in their pronouncements.  

They also recognize and admit to and then learn from mistakes, another quality so far non-existent in the Republican contrarian community - which after all is only concerned with churning out confusion and delay rather than constructive learning.

If Adams spent any time listening to scientists, he's appreciate they spend a great deal of time discussing weaknesses in their work and how to address those issues. 

That’s what learning and the serious scientific community is about.  Adams reflects a very limited diet stream of mis-information provided by the extensive contrarian media machine.  Like them, he makes insinuations offering no serious foundation based on objective evidence, it’s malicious opining, nothing more.  Science by rhetoric rather than fact driven learning.  

4. There is a severe social or economic penalty for having the “wrong” opinion in the field. As I already said, I agree with the consensus of climate scientists because saying otherwise in public would be social and career suicide for me even as a cartoonist. Imagine how much worse the pressure would be if science was my career. 

Here Adams pulls out another typical Alt-Right schtick, the Victim Card.  Like the drunk at the bar bitching about the boss who just fired him.  On and on, all about what an absolute jerk his boss was.  

Never once reflecting that he himself does sloppy work, has a shitty attitude and came in late once too often - so he was told to hit the road.  Nope, no self examination, no hint of full spectrum skepticism - alway feeling persecuted - aways someone else’s fault and then comes the grand conspiracies.  The truth is much colder, reputation gets around and sensible people stay away from the losers!  

It would be more honest to acknowledge that there is a severe social and/or economic penalty for producing poor scientific work!  

5. There are so many variables that can be measured – and so many that can be ignored – that you can produce any result you want by choosing what to measure and what to ignore. Our measurement sensors do not cover all locations on earth, from the upper atmosphere to the bottom of the ocean, so we have the option to use the measurements that fit our predictions while discounting the rest.

Here again Adams is dependent on a gimmick, sowing suspicion within a smoke and mirrors veiled character assassination attempt.  

Scientists must somehow be selecting only what they want, how that would even work, no one can conceive.  But Adams conceives that perhaps scientists don’t know how to sample our planet.  Perhaps they are just guessing or something, or something, or something, so long as we distrust them and their work.  Pure malicious slanderous intent.

Oh and yes there are very many variables, that is why it takes a global community of experts and scientists working together to really catalogue and refine this understanding.  

As for ignoring evidence, notice Adams won’t touch the fact that the Republican community has done an excellent job of ignoring every fundamental that matters while distracting everyone’s attention with veiled insinuations and inoculations of blind distrust where none is warranted. 

6. The argument from the other side looks disturbingly credible.

Here Adams plays the “Trust Me” card.  I’m supposed to believe him that arguments from the other side look disturbingly credible?  Bullshit!

I’ve made a hobby of having virtual debates with dozens of different climate science contrarians and their pet arguments - I am ready for any of these supposed “disturbingly credible” arguments.  They appear and vanish like puffs of smoke.  Only insinuations and fast talk. 

Adams, how about mustering the intellectual courage to spell out these disturbing arguments you say are out there?  

But, I would suggest checking your arguments against’s excellent collection of contrarian arguments and why they do not hold any water.  Here take a gander. 

Climate Myths sorted by taxonomy

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