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Over at the Staying the Same post, or whatever I called it, Mike Fisher posted the following link:


Go look at it.

Then let me tell you what’s wrong with it. 

This is the continuation of an old argument usually expressed as “don’t give them a platform.”

The idea is that some ideas are so awful, and so wrong, that agreeing to debate them does nothing for the side of Truth, but only “gives them a platform” they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Do you know what’s wrong with that argument?

It ALWAYS backfires.

If you don’t debate the issue, your opponents won’t shut up–they’ll find other avenues to express their ideas, and y ou’re the one who will look wrong.

Not only will you not be there to counter them, but to outside observers with little understanding of the issue you’ll look like a spoiled brat who insists on taking his baseball home because the other kids won’t play by HIS special rules.

And that IS how people will see it.

With the debate on climate change, however, the climate change side is doing a lot more than “not giving THEM a platform” to ruin their reputation with the American people. 

There have been too many people going public in the press with the idea that climate change “deniers” should be jailed, or shut up altogether.

And then there’s this


Which is a nice blow at free speech–you’re only free to speak what somebody else decides is “true.”

What’s more, when you try to get straight logical analysis, you end up mostly being told to shut up–a “consensus of the scientists” says x or y or z is true about climate change, so you’d just better shut up and believe it.

It’s called the ad populam argument, and it’s a logical fallacy–an INvalid argument. 

It increasingly begins to seem that that is just about all the argument the climate change side is willing to make. 

But “everybody says so” is not a rational argument.  Even “almost all the experts say so” isn’t a rational argument. Experts have been wrong before. 

The Washington Post published this


which pretty well sums up why the climate change argument isn’t working.

And if climate change proponents do manage to get their opponents gagged, it will just make Americans less likely to believe them and more likely to accept whatever underground conspiracy theory props up.

After all, if they’re telling the truth, they shouldn’t need to force people to acquiesce.  They could win the argument honestly.

You either debate the other side or you give them free rein to get wherever they want to go.

So you’d better keep talking–and, yes, on a plane of equality, no matter how galling that may be–and you’d better learn the difference between science and policy recommendations.


Written by janeh

May 17th, 2014 at 3:27 am

Posted in Uncategorized

21 Responses to 'Platforms'

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  1. I am not the John Oliver mentioned in the first link!

    I am skeptical about computer models of climate. The models are bound to be complex with a lot of assumptions such as how much Co2 is taken up by plant growth and how much is released by decay.

    The math is horrible and probably sensitive to small changes in the input. I have never seen that discussed. Too technical for the politicians and common people?

    BTW, I will be traveling until 29 May and probably won’t check email or the blog.


    17 May 14 at 5:23 am

  2. jd, you will be missed. Good fortune!

    Put me down as evidence of the backfire. Just speaking as a historian, there’s a good case to be made that the northern temperate zone is warmer now than when Henry Knox was sliding cannon barrels down the frozen Hudson in the winter of 1775-76, or the winter in the Napoleonic Wars during which the Thames froze so solid Londoners lit bonfires on the ice. This could be cyclical, but there is evidently a fair body of evidence for rising carbon dioxide levels. in the atmosphere.

    But if the evidence is irrefutable, why do the true believers work so hard at not giving anyone a chance to refute it? The only plausible explanations are (1) that the case for human-caused climate change has holes and its advocates know it, or (b) they think only they and their political allies, of all mankind, are capable of rational thought. If the latter is the case, they ought to solve that problem first. It’s MUCH more serious than rising sea levels.

    And, of course, there’s the nuclear power argument. If the goal is to cap or reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the solution at our present technology level inevitably involves nuclear power plants and probably involves what the Greens are please to call “tree farms” in which trees are harvested for lumber, instead of being left to rot (and release the carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere.) Since, as policy advocates, the vast bulk of global warming true believers are opposed to both of these, they’re in the same intellectual position as a “gold bug” who predicts catastrophic inflation, but keeps paper money stuffed in his mattress. Either such people are insincere or they’re crazy. Neither condition makes them credible advocates.


    17 May 14 at 7:52 am

  3. “Either (1) or (b)?” SHARP this morning! My apologies, and I’ll go back to writing long comments in Word and then pasting them into the comments box.


    17 May 14 at 7:54 am

  4. I have a few hours before the hell known as Sydney Airport.

    Lecture mode on.

    CO2 in the atmosphere should raise the temperature. But a rise in temperature should lead to increased evaporation from the oceans and more clouds and rain. More clouds mean more sunlight reflected (look up albedo) which would tend to reduce temperature.

    Warmer weather and more rain should increase plant growth which removes CO2. But plants die and decay which releases CO2. The growth could easily be more rapid than the decay which would “lock up” CO2. It might take centuries to reach equilibrium.

    I’m skeptical that we know all the factors, the necessary numbers to plug into the equations and the way the numbers will vary from place to place.


    17 May 14 at 1:17 pm

  5. “After all, if they’re telling the truth, they shouldn’t need to force people to acquiesce. They could win the argument honestly.”

    4. Yes, There Is a Scientific Consensus

    The most important thing to understand about the scientific consensus that human activities are causing the earth to warm is that it isn’t a result of peer pressure or someone policing scientists’ opinions. It results from the scientific method.

    John Abraham

    Professor of thermal and fluid sciences, University of St. Thomas School of Engineering

    “Scientists are very interested in theories that other factors may be causing climate change,” says John Abraham. “The contrarians put forward ideas and the consensus scientists investigate them honestly and find that they don’t withstand scientific scrutiny. This happens all the time. That’s how science works. In fact, showing that these guys are wrong makes the science better.”

    A scientific consensus emerges when the weight of evidence for a proposition becomes so great that serious researchers stop arguing about it among themselves. They then move on to study and debate other questions. There’s quite a bit of scientific debate about lots of different aspects of climate change, but the question of whether humans are causing the planet to warm isn’t one of them.

    There have been three studies, using different methodologies, that have shown that almost all working climate scientists — 97 percent — accept the consensus view.

    But what if those three percent who reportedly reject the consensus are like Galileo, who challenged the 16th century view that the sun revolved around the Earth? John Abraham and five of his colleagues published a study earlier this year which found that studies authored by climate contrarians “were often found to be unsubstantiated by the data,” resulting in “criticisms, corrections, and in some cases, resignation of editors.” They add: “the same fate has not befallen the prominent consensus studies.”

    But that hasn’t prevented climate deniers from compiling long lists of people they claim to be dissenting climatologists. The most prominent of these was the Oregon Petition, which was organized by a chemist named Art Robinson, founder of a group called the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM), which also markets a home-schooling kit for “parents concerned about socialism in the public schools.”

    The petition was supposedly signed by “31,000 American scientists” who opposed the consensus “entirely on scientific grounds published in peer reviewed journals.” But in fact, anyone could sign on, and according to Michael Mann, director of Penn State’s Earth System Science Center, the list ultimately included the Spice Girls and several Star Wars characters.

    More recently, climate change denier Marc Morano, who in the past has worked for both Rush Limbaugh and Sen. James “Climate Change Is A Hoax” Inhofe (R-OK), compiled a smaller list that he says is proof that the consensus is “falling apart.”

    Barry Bickmore, “a geochemistry professor at Brigham Young University, an active Mormon, and an active Republican,” looked at a sample of the names on Morano’s list and found mechanical engineers, a biochemist and a metallurgist working for US Magnesium, but no working climate scientists who had published in peer-reviewed journals.


    Or, in plainer words, the climate deniers have dogma instead of science. Among actual working scientists the debate, such as it was, HAS been settled by the data. The contrarians are not influenced by actual data, as dogma is not affected by data.

  6. “I’m skeptical that we know all the factors, the necessary numbers to plug into the equations and the way the numbers will vary from place to place.”


  7. Uh, Michael? The point of the Blog was not that the contrarians were right. It was that efforts to silence contrary views rather than engage them in public have been consistently counter-productive. Perhaps you didn’t notice?

    Huxley (“Darwin’s Bulldog”) never argued that those who disbelieved in evolution should be denied a platform. He went to skeptical audiences and presented evidence. Einstein just provided the math and waited for the confirming evidence to appear. Our climate scientists–who have also been known to pad lists of believers–often seem to be above such things. And to announce that the skeptics were not published in peer-reviewed journals was a serious misstep considering we have the true believers e-mails that if necessary they’d redefine “peer-reviewed journal” to achieve exactly that result.

    I also note you’re ignoring my observation that as soon as they jump from the science to the policy recommendation–usually the next sentence–they’re proposing policies which will not solve the problem. If the science is sound and they believe it, should not the policy recommendations be consistent with that?


    18 May 14 at 9:44 am

  8. Mike, you’re so gullible it’s pathetic. Your verbose post above simply confirms how little you know about the climate debate on either side. Stop reading mainstream media reports, left-wing crap and start catching up with the state of actual debate.

    Just for openers, if you had a clue you would understand that the infamous 97% meme that you so glibly parrot is an utter crock. In fact, as shown below, the real figure is probably closer to 0.03%.


    And let’s not have any ad hominem rebuttal because you don’t like the source. Read the post and understand why you are making a fool of yourself when you quack on about 97% or “consensus”. Frankly, you simply don’t know what you are talking about.


    18 May 14 at 10:09 am

  9. When you’ve finished that bit of homework, Mike, read this:


    People who call skeptics “deniers” are contemptible.


    18 May 14 at 11:49 am

  10. Well Robert, the point of John Oliver’s sketch, isn’t that critics should be silenced, rather it’s that the media, in a misguided attempt at “fairness”, present both sides of the non-existent debate as if both have equal validity.

    Which is as big a bunch of nonsense as supposing that “creationism” (when ‘creationists’ can’t even agree among themselves on much of anything) have an equal “case” about origins of diversity.

    Or that 911 “truthers” are anything more than kooky conspiracy wackos.

    No one saying they should be actively “silenced” – only that people who know (or ought to know) better should stop pretending to take them seriously.


  11. “…start catching up with the state of actual debate.”

    There is no debate Mique. The earth is getting warmer. Period, when it should be getting cooler.

    Check on the state of the Greenland ice cap.

    Get back with me when it’s total mass at least stops decreasing each year.

  12. See above in particular Steps 5 through 9.

    Pay attention. We are not talking about the Greenland ice cap. Nobody on the skeptical side of the very real debate about climate change (née global warming) denies that the 21st century is warmer than the 19th and that the ice mass in the Arctic has been decreasing. What they question is the insistence by the alarmists that the causes are primarily anthropogenic, and that “decarbonising” (and effectively deindustrialising the western world is the way to fix the “problems”.

    So stop misrepresenting the skeptical arguments. The best way to do that is to actually do some due diligence and inform yourself about the skeptics positions. You won’t do that by reading the Huffington Post or watching John Oliver.

    As an aside, isn’t it funny how the name changed when the “real scientists” couldn’t explain why the world suddenly stopped warming nearly 17 years ago? It was, in fact, this very real debate that you refuse to acknowledge exists that caused the alarmists to stop using the term “global warming”.

    The fundamental situation that our John Oliver (JD) (incidentally, a Physics PhD) was trying to get across is that much of the climate alarmism being bruited about by the media is based the projections of computer models which are themselves based on very dodgy data and even worse statistical analysis.

    Given the uncertainties about the effects of increasing CO2 and, indeed, serious ignorance about the effects of clouds, and the current inability, if not impossibility, to even approximately model those effects, NOBODY can predict anything about future World climate, when they can’t even accurately predict tomorrow’s local weather.

    I’ll start giving you opinion on these questions some respect when you take your fingers out of your ears and STOP singing LAH LAH LAH.

    If you want to give yourself a real fright, read this:


    If this guy is right, there’s a whole lot more to worry about than melting ice caps that might lift sea levels a few metres in a thousand years or so.


    18 May 14 at 9:46 pm

  13. “As an aside, isn’t it funny how the name changed when the “real scientists” couldn’t explain why the world suddenly stopped warming nearly 17 years ago? ”

    >Picking 1998 as a starting point is a classic example of cherry-picking data to show what you want it to show, and a deliberate attempt to distort the actual record. As climatologists have known for years, 1998 was an exceptionally warm year due to a record El Niño, which boosted average global temperature way above the overall trend from the past few decades. During El Niño years, the marine circulation patterns release a lot of tropical heat from the oceans and raise overall global temperature for a short time. Likewise, 2008 was a La Niña year, and it was cooler than normal. These are part of the year-to-year “noise” in the system of global temperatures that is well known to scientists. Scientists nevertake a single year’s temperature and then connect it to another data point and claim it’s a “trend.” Instead, the only rigorous and scientifically defensible method is to look at the long-term trends in climate over decades and “smooth” the curve using rolling averages, so that a more statistically meaningful curve fit can be performed.

    The global mean temperature record, showing the year-to-year “noise” (blue dots and line) and the overall trend (5-year running average—red line)
    Such a procedure is performed in the plot shown here, where the curve fit filters out the noise and shows the overall trend in the data—and by any objective measure, global temperatures are clearly increasing dramatically over the past century. This is the same answer that all the other climate indicators have been giving for years, and this is part of the reason why over 95-99% of climate scientists agree that AGW is real.<

  14. In the spirit of Earth Day, which happens today, I’ll blog about another important ecological topic: the alleged “global warming pause”.
    About a year ago, I wrote a post about the climate-denier myth that “it’s been cooling since 1998″. As the post pointed out, this is based on cherry-picking the anomalously warm year of 1998 (atypical because it was an extraordinary El Niño year that brought a lot of heat from the tropical oceans into the atmosphere), then deliberately picking one or two years following and calling that “cooling”.
    As the climate deniers have been called out about this lie, they’ve shifted the goalposts, and made the claim that the global warming has “paused” since 1998. As reported in Mother Jones, Fox News began playing this meme over and over again in 2012, so that soon the regular media were echoing their meme as well. But is it true? NO!
    1) If you look at the record over the short-term (1998-2012), that’s a very short window to evaluate climate change, biasing your result by cherry-picking 1998 as the starting year. If you shift the frame just 5 years earlier (1993-2012), you’d get a warming trend instead, so such short-term averages are meaningless when they can be distorted by your choice of starting and ending points. In any case, climate scientists would point out that we can’t use the trend over 5 years or even 10 years to make any worthwhile conclusions. The main reason that we cannot look at records on the short term of 5-10 years or less is that there is too much “noise” in the data from short-term events, like the El Niño-La Niña cycles and other events that have nothing to do with the underlying causes of long-term climate change. The only valid approach to the data is to average over very long terms (20 to 30 years at the minimum). As you can see by clicking on the graphic, the long-term trend is unmistakable, and it’s scientifically invalid to cherry-pick a few short-term “cooling trends” of less than a decade in such a long-term record.
    Once the missing data from Arctic temperatures (red) are added to the global average, the warming trend is much more striking and the “pause” disappears
    Once the missing data from Arctic temperatures (red) are added to the global average, the warming trend is much more striking and the “pause” disappears
    2) It turns out that this “pause” in the data set is not real—it’s due to missing data and incomplete data collection. For years, the global temperature average was calculated for about 84% of the earth’s surface, but did not have any of the Arctic temperature data because of the shortage of weather stations up there. But two different studies were just published which used the satellite temperature data from the Arctic to revise the global temperature average. Scientists have long known that the Arctic is warming and melting much faster than the rest of the world, since it is much more sensitive to climate change, and thus more likely to affect the average than other regions that are less sensitive. Sure enough, the “pause” disappears, and each year since 2003 shows much warmer global average temperatures than the old, incomplete data sets. When you fit a long-term regression to the more complete data, the upward trend is truly striking, with no “pause” whatsoever.
    3. There may be another factor at work as well. The atmosphere is only a tiny part of the world’s complex system of water and gases that make up the hydrosphere and atmosphere. We’ve long known that most of the excess heat we’ve produced has gone into the largest sinks, the oceans, which have also warmed significantly over this time period as well (even though the high heat capacity of water makes the trend a lot slower). As a recent study by Trenberth and Fasullo (2012) just showed, since 1998 the Pacific Ocean has been warming much faster than in the past; another study has just confirmed it. This suggests that the capacity of the oceans to absorb all that carbon dioxide and heat energy has been exceeded, and now the oceans are taking up the heat faster than the atmosphere does. If this in indeed true, the new estimates that incorporate the missing Arctic data are not warming fast enough. If one includes the oceans and atmosphere together, the planet is warming much faster than anyone imagined!
    The atmosphere is only a tiny portion of the ocean-atmospheric system. The oceans are vastly more important, and new data shows they are warming at an alarming rate as they have exceeded their heat capacity. The “skeptics” (read “deniers”) are only looking at the tiny portion represented by the atmosphere
    The atmosphere is only a tiny portion of the ocean-atmospheric system. The oceans are vastly more important, and new data shows they are warming at an alarming rate as they have exceeded their heat capacity. The “skeptics” (read “deniers”) are only looking at the tiny portion represented by the atmosphere
    Naturally, this complex scientific explanation goes right over the heads of most of the media, who can only understand and report on simplistic stories with a easy-to-remember punch line. Thus, we have plenty of people out there—not just the climate deniers and their backers in the right-wing think tanks and energy companies—who’ve been suckered in by this lie, and still haven’t learned what’s really going on.

  15. “…melting ice caps that might lift sea levels a few metres in a thousand years or so.”

    >he new study has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, but Nasa held a teleconference on Monday to brief reporters on the findings.

    Prof Eric Rignot said warm ocean water was relentlessly eating away at the glaciers’ fronts and that the geometry of the sea bed in the area meant that this erosion had now entered a runaway process.”This retreat will have major consequences for sea level rise worldwide. It will raise sea levels by 1.2m, or 4ft, but its retreat will also influence adjacent sectors of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet which could triple this contribution to sea level.”<


    Some animation:


    Abstract of actual paper:


  16. BS baffles brains, Mike. Strange how the radically unskeptical skepticblog.org mimics skepticalscience.com, another militant true believer’s site flying under blatantly false colours. Now why, I wonder, would they perceive a need to do that if it weren’t to mislead their target audience?

    For every argument is a counter-argument as, for example, here: http://judithcurry.com/2011/01/07/wheres-the-missing-heat/

    Fossick around that site searching, say, under Trenberth and Fasullo, you’ll find stacks of stuff which deals way above the level of mere name-calling about who or who has not “…been suckered in by this lie, and still haven’t learned what’s really going on.”

    As another measure of credibility, you might like to compare the number and quality of the comments at the reference above at Judy Curry’s site with, say, the number and quality of the comments at the last link you quoted immediately above. I’d suggest that 59 comments at your link, many of which merely parrot some variant of the anti-skeptic 97% drivel, cannot compare with the 443 much more reasoned comments at the Curry link.

    You really do need to get out more, Mike.


    19 May 14 at 2:26 am

  17. Try these genuinely skeptical blogs to broaden your perspective:

    and, of course, the daddy of them all, http://wattsupwiththat.com/

    Give any or all of those a fair hearing and you’d have to be braindead not to question the One True Faith.

    Finally, even accepting the surely dubious possibility of the “missing” heat being sequestered in the oceans (below the 1000 metres or whatever is the maximum Argo depth) how in the context of the Second Law of Thermodynamics is that heat going to escape back into the atmosphere – or even into the upper depths where current technology allows us to measure temperatures?


    19 May 14 at 2:43 am

  18. There was also a recent piece in Scientific American, but it requires an online subscription.

  19. Scientific American nailed its “True Believer” colours to the mast with its pathetically misguided and grossly libellous hatchet-job on Bjorn Lomberg and his Skeptical Environmentalist, lo these many long years ago. I seriously doubt if Scientific American would have anything original or useful to add to the debate at this late stage.


    19 May 14 at 7:31 am

  20. Mique

    19 May 14 at 8:31 am

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