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Aug 05 2013

Prime snide kookrant

I was surprised when I read the excerpt from the sneering letter to the editor-in-chief of Science magazine — it’s someone patronizingly chiding the little woman with the big job at a science journal in decline. It’s bad enough that it’s so condescendingly goofy, but it’s also complaining that Science has foolishly jumped into the “debate” about global climate change. There is no debate; it’s happening, there is a substantial anthropogenic component, and the science is rather firmly settled, so what would be then inappropriate is refusing to address an important environmental issue.

But then I read the full letter, and learned two things that made it even more laughable: 1) it’s an open letter published on the wacky denialist website, What’s Up With That, which means it’s going to be instantly ignored by any credible scientist, as Marcia McNutt is, and 2) it goes on and on and on and on. It’s absurdly preachy and unprofessional, and tells me that the author has no idea what kind of letter would be published by the magazine.

Further, McNutt is a professor of marine geophysics at Stanford, and what impresses the kook who wrote that letter?

McNutt is a NAUI-certified scuba diver and she trained in underwater demolition and explosives handling with the U.S. Navy UDT and SEAL Team.

The comments are also delusional. People are opining that Science is a dying journal. Really?

Climate change denialists are just about as out-of-touch and clownish as evolution denialists.

54 comments

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  1. 1
    bcwebb

    I’m more impressed with Willis Eschenbach’s credentials: California Massage Certificate, Aames School of Massage, Oakland, CA. (1974). B.A., Psychology, Sonoma State University.

  2. 2
    saguache

    “Climate change denialists are just about as out-of-touch and clownish as evolution denialists.”

    While there is still debate over this question, the research indicates that there is a significant possibility that these two populations are actually one and the same.

    Naturalists in the field have been studying various types of denialists as they scavenge for a clue on the internet. Their breading and social habits have been well documented as well. Most taxonomist agree that there is little difference between denialists and are expected to subsequently grant subspecies status to the taxa.

  3. 3
    raven

    What is dying out are the climate change denialists.

    We are hearing less and less about them and laughing less and less at them.

    Climate change is already here.

    We are passed the point of wondering whether it will happen. And starting the process of dealing with it, mostly by adapting.

    Here on the west coast, this summer is going to be a bad one. Rainfall totals are way below average. It’s hot and dry out. And that means, wild fires. The wild fire season is only half over and already it seems like there are forest fires everywhere.

    NYC just announced a $20 billion plan to deal with sea level rises and storm surges. It is estimated the USA will have to spend $1 trillion on dealing with climate change in the 21st century.

  4. 4
    SallyStrange

    While there is still debate over this question, the research indicates that there is a significant possibility that these two populations are actually one and the same.

    Naturalists in the field have been studying various types of denialists as they scavenge for a clue on the internet. Their breading and social habits have been well documented as well. Most taxonomist agree that there is little difference between denialists and are expected to subsequently grant subspecies status to the taxa.

    What about social science type denialists? I’ve encountered many sexism- and racism-denialists who nevertheless accept the reality of climate change and evolution.

  5. 5
    MrFancyPants

    and 2) it goes on and on and on and on

    Besides feeling weirded out at his comments about her appearance, this is definitely my main take-away from the article. He should have just titled it “tl;dr”.

  6. 6
    w00dview

    NYC just announced a $20 billion plan to deal with sea level rises and storm surges. It is estimated the USA will have to spend $1 trillion on dealing with climate change in the 21st century.

    Yeah, but preventing further climatic damage by reducing CO2 emissions will totally destroy teh economeh!111! Because ignoring warnings from scientists and spending trillions to fix the mess that might have been preventable if we listened in time is fiscal conservatism! How in the hell did conservatives get the title of being ‘fiscally responsible” when their policies are leading to major economic damage and their short sightedness on climate change will bleed the economy dry even more? Is the saying ‘prevention not cure’ now regarded as liberal propaganda over in the US now?

  7. 7
    raven

    A lot of Denialists are just crackpots looking for something to fill the empty parts of their minds.

    I used to occasionally have to deal with HIV/AIDS denialists. Not any more. They are all but extinct.

    1. The ones who are HIV+ have died. Of AIDS.

    2. The HAART drugs have become so good that HIV+’s can live for decades. We aren’t even sure how long yet but their lifespans should approach the average. There is no reason to pretend HIV doesn’t cause AIDS when you can treat it and get on with your life.

  8. 8
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    How in the hell did conservatives get the title of being ‘fiscally responsible” when their policies are leading to major economic damage and their short sightedness on climate change will bleed the economy dry even more?

    It’s a combination of factors, among them the fact that many very wealthy people are conservative, and it is commonly assumed that having such wealth is a sign that one know a lot about macroeconomics, apparently because both involve money in some fashion. Another is that they have made it a big part of their rhetoric, and for those who aren’t paying attention soundbites often win the day. A third is the Cold War, during which the USSR was held up as the ultimate example of economic failure, and since the Cold War was presented as a battle between Manichean opposites, those economic polices alleged to be the opposite of what the Soviets did were considered a priori to be the correct actions. Overlapping somewhat with that, there is a whole alternate academia that has been created, largely since the late 70s, composed of ‘think tanks’ (propaganda mills) and professorships at prestigious universities, which promulgates Austrian/Chicago school economics with the same vigor that AiG and their ilk push intelligent design, and a good deal more success. They publish all kinds of ass-pulled nonsense that mimics actual academic papers, cites each other in an intellectual circle-jerk, and then proclaim that they’ve got just as many papers and citations as real economists, so they need to be taken just as seriously.

  9. 9
    microraptor

    How in the hell did conservatives get the title of being ‘fiscally responsible” when their policies are leading to major economic damage and their short sightedness on climate change will bleed the economy dry even more? Is the saying ‘prevention not cure’ now regarded as liberal propaganda over in the US now?

    It’s because people have been tricked into thinking that ‘fiscal responsibility’ means being a tightwad who never pays for anything they can force taxpayers to pay for individually at greater cost and lower efficiency.

  10. 10
    w00dview

    @ Dalillama, Schmott Guy and microraptor

    Thanks for the answers, so in short: propaganda works? Austrian/Chicago school economics seems to have done a hell of a lot more damage than Bigfoot or UFOs so I wonder will economics become a subject to be questioned within the skeptic community or organisations? Or would that cause another meltdown like the one over sexism?

  11. 11
    Ing

    @w00dview

    Questioned by skeptics!? Who do you think is buying/promoting the propaganda!?

  12. 12
    Area Man

    Climate change denialists lecturing others about bias? Isn’t that like an arsonist telling someone not to play with matches?

  13. 13
    w00dview

    @Ing

    Well off white males? The most rational, objective beings in the universe who have no blind spots whatsoever?
    /snark

  14. 14
    Ing

    @W00dview

    well they’re most definitly not biased by the coomfy seats on such Thinktanks

  15. 15
    What a Maroon, oblivious

    Most taxonomist agree that there is little difference between denialists and are expected to subsequently grant subspecies status to the taxa.

    Based on purely anecdotal evidence, it strikes me that evolution denialists are a subset of climate change denialists. It’s easy to find examples of people who are the latter but not the former (the Koch brothers and George Will spring to mind; also many peddlers of petroleum), but I can’t think of any examples of the opposite pattern.

  16. 16
    Usernames are smart

    The comments are also delusional.

    Erhm, the comments read like they were cut-n-pasted from any random smoking turd on “A Voice for Men.”

  17. 17
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    w00dview

    Or would that cause another meltdown like the one over sexism?

    That’s the one, all right (and by pretty much the same people, in fact). There’s a strong libertarian wing in movement skepticism, and they are very heavily invested in the idea that pretty much all existing privilege, and especially economic privilege, is earned and valid, and therefore efforts to rectify it are contra nature and fundamentally immoral. It is not a coincidence that this view is most heavily espoused among those who’ve already got bags of privilege.

  18. 18
    Ing

    A good chunk of skeptics throw non-insane economics in with hippie woo

  19. 19
    Charlie Foxtrot

    Phil Plait has a Climate Change post up on Slate about the Heartland Institute bagging Michael Mann, again. Over 500 comments there already for anyone wanting to study the AGW denialist in its natural habitat.

  20. 20
    irritable

    Unlike most of the contributors to Watt’s Up With That, Willis Eschenbach has earned the right to be condescending to scientists: he has academic training. That’s right, the dude is a fully qualified masseur!

  21. 21
    Ing

    @Irritable

    he’s not that good, he rubs me the wrong way

  22. 22
    Area Man

    Lecturing people when your own house is in such bad order does not make you look wise, it makes you look hypocritical.

    I just had to preserve that one for posterity. It’s possibly the most overt display of lack of self-awareness I’ve ever seen. And there’s some stiff competition for that.

  23. 23
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Pedantic correction: “Watts Up With That?” Anthony Watts’ website.

  24. 24
    anchor

    On the comments there: Idiocy on parade.

  25. 25
    ck

    Anthony Watts’ site shouldn’t even exist anymore. Didn’t he say that he’d believe climatologists if that big Berkeley study came back and confirmed their results? “I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.” Curious. I guess his mind is made up, and he doesn’t want to be confused by trivial things like facts.

  26. 26
    timanthony

    “Climate change denialists are just about as out-of-touch and clownish as evolution denialists.”

    Well, yes, but…
    Evolution denialists have been officially losing since the Scopes trial. They are laughable because it looks like they can never succeed due to the overwhelming preponderance of corroborating evidence from multiple fields of science.

    But Climate Change denialists are just getting started. They’ve been at it since the Hockey Stick graph entered the public consciousness. And they have an achievable goal which they are achieving with maximum success: preventing action against CO2 emissions, i.e. against fossil fuels: oil, coal and natural gas.

    Disagree if you like. Unless you drive a vehicle, fly, or like to heat your home with gas or coal-fired electricity. Then you can consider throwing the first stone.

  27. 27
    Area Man

    Didn’t he say that he’d believe climatologists if that big Berkeley study came back and confirmed their results?

    That was before they discovered that Muller was part of the Conspiracy. It became obvious that he faked everything when he came back with the wrong results.

  28. 28
    Jafafa Hots

    “Fiscally conservative” just means “not with MY money you don’t!”

  29. 29
    karpad

    Naturalists in the field have been studying various types of denialists as they scavenge for a clue on the internet. Their breading and social habits have been well documented as well. Most taxonomist agree that there is little difference between denialists and are expected to subsequently grant subspecies status to the taxa.

    There are several superficial similarities, But mimicry does not indicate the taxa are actually related. Climate Denialists adapted similar behaviors and appearances in order to successfully share the niche, but the Evolution Denialist is of Genus Subdeo. There’s dispute whether Subdeo novimundi is descended from Subdeo Toryii, and is thus an invasive species, or if it’s a matter of parallel development from Subdeo Columbia. But what is clear is that the entire Subdeo genus is quick to entrench itself in an environment, but very slow to adapt to changes. Climate Denialists are successful mimics, but are actually of genus Galtus (whether this is Galtus Galtus or a distinct subspecies is a matter of debate). Unlike Subdeo, which uses these tactics defensively to protect their diminishing territory, Galtus uses the same tactics for predation.

    I suppose my credentials as a naturalist are somewhat suspect should I call for eradication, but the entire Superorder of Reactionarii is destructive pests, that don’t even do the courtesy of performing useful functions in the food web. We eradicated Small Pox. That’s all I’m saying.

  30. 30
    Ing

    Disagree if you like. Unless you drive a vehicle, fly, or like to heat your home with gas or coal-fired electricity. Then you can consider throwing the first stone.

    Go fuck yourself

  31. 31
    shockna

    What about social science type denialists? I’ve encountered many sexism- and racism-denialists who nevertheless accept the reality of climate change and evolution.

    They should definitely be considered a variation within the taxa; a far more common one at that.

  32. 32
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    timanthony

    But Climate Change denialists are just getting started. They’ve been at it since the Hockey Stick graph entered the public consciousness. And they have an achievable goal which they are achieving with maximum success: preventing action against CO2 emissions, i.e. against fossil fuels: oil, coal and natural gas.

    This is a true statement, and arguably a valid point; climate change denialists are more successful at setting policy than creationists, although this may be explained by the broader scope of the policy they desire; creationists per se are focused on a relatively narrow field, although in practice many creationists are also focused on many other damaging policy initiatives, which they have significant success at (see forced birtherism and assorted anti-gay measures, for instance).

    Unless you drive a vehicle, fly, or like to heat your home with gas or coal-fired electricity. Then you can consider throwing the first stone.

    This is being an asshole. It’s important to know the difference. As I’m sure you are aware, there are a wide variety of structural impediments to individuals altering their carbon footprints in the U.S. This is why solutions must be implemented at a policy level to make alternative choices not just viable (which they usually are not in the U.S.), but preferable. This in turn requires changes in the built environment, energy policy, housing laws, tariffs, taxes, and dozens of other policy areas.
    (Incidentally, before you try accusing me of simply justifying my own excesses, you might care to know that I am fortunate enough to reside in an area where alternative choices are available. I do not drive, nor do I fly, and my electricity comes from wind and hydro plants.)

  33. 33
    FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!)

    Unless you drive a vehicle, fly, or like to heat your home with gas or coal-fired electricity. Then you can consider throwing the first stone.

    Oh hai Tu Quoque, haven’t seen you round much lately. How’s it going?

  34. 34
    Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff

    Just a fun little bit of anecdata from me to add to the pile.

    I live in Vancouver, BC, known to natives as “Raincouver”. This July, for the FIRST TIME EVER, we had NO, that is NONE, that is NOT A TRACE of precipitation for the entire 31 days of the month. The average rainfall for July, one of the driest months of the year in Vancouver, is 4+ centimeters. Going from that to zero is . . . unsettling.

    It’s also uncomfortable. Because of our lack of extremes of climate (to this date, but no further, it looks like) almost no-one has air-conditioning. And because my family live in a bungalow without the chimney effect one gets from a two-story building, this summer has been quite miserable. Hot, close, and sleepless.

  35. 35
    irritable

    Remember, it’s very wrong and hypocritical to draw attention to anthropogenic climate change if you have EVER, ON ANY OCCASION, IN ANY WAY gained any benefit from fossil fuels.

  36. 36
    Suido

    Raven #3

    What is dying out are the climate change denialists.

    I have to disagree. They aren’t dying out, they’re alive and well, breathing out carbon dioxide for the good of the trees and taking up space in all sorts of web forums and comment sections.

    For further evidence, try the comments section of this article from one of Australia’s better newspapers.

    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/weather/2013-shaping-up-to-be-one-of-australias-hottest-years-on-record-20130730-2qvly.html

    There’s one there who claims to only be a skeptic, not a denialist. However, he trusts the data from his local weather station to be a better indicator of climate than the vast bulk of scientific research by big city scientists in big city weather stations.

  37. 37
    Suido

    oops berkquote.

  38. 38
    gobi's sockpuppet's meatpuppet

    @Suido
    Brisbane… The Stupid Capitol of Australia.

  39. 39
    gobi's sockpuppet's meatpuppet

    We had an air conditioner installed by a climate expert…
    Apparently it’s all bad science because he has read about someone from a weather station carrying the thermometer over his shoulder and the mercury fell out… and… and…
    His wife has read a book about Greenland and it was green when the Vikings came so it was warmer then so how can it be getting warmer? Huh? Huh?
    His business card says ‘where Jesus is lord’ so that should have tipped me off.
    Didn’t ask him about evolution.

  40. 40
    =8)-DX

    Their breading and social habits have been well documented as well. (emph.)

    Breading, really, ? Like this or this or this?

  41. 41
    BrianX

    shockna, #31:

    I have been recently saying that the main difference between social science and hard science is that social science has a higher noise floor. It’s still about getting to the truth though.

  42. 42
    unclefrogy

    it is probably too late to avoid any major effects of climate change though we may yet apply the breaks but I doubt we will do it in time. I think we may be a similar position as the Spanish train driver the other week he was slowing down but clearly not enough.
    The only silver lining in this is I hope that the deniers will suffer blow back when the population realizes they have been lied to for years.

    uncle frogy

  43. 43
    johnmorgan

    The only silver lining in this is I hope that the deniers will suffer blow back when the population realizes they have been lied to for years.

    Hardly silver, more like lead. Revenge is, after all, a dish best served cold :-)

    P.s. PZ is preferable in the semantics. They should be called “denialists”, not “deniers”. The latter term applies to truly evil denial, such as holocaust denial.

  44. 44
    leftwingfox

    @=8)-DX: Heh, I thought I was part of the ornithology of Kentucky Fried Chickens in their natural habitat.

    saguache’s comment otherwise is dead on. Crank Magnatism vs. memetic taxonomy. Interesting field of social sciences ripe for an Ignobel Prize.

  45. 45
    w00dview

    @Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    There’s a strong libertarian wing in movement skepticism

    Oy, I forgot how many skeptics take that horseshit seriously.

    @ Ing

    A good chunk of skeptics throw non-insane economics in with hippie woo

    That’s weird, whenever libertarians talk about the benevolent, almighty free market they sound very similar to some New Ager babbling on how the universe loves you, man. How the hell can you not be skeptical of someone who claims that low taxes and deregulation are the solution to every kind of problem that exists?

    @ck

    Didn’t he say that he’d believe climatologists if that big Berkeley study came back and confirmed their results? “I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.” Curious. I guess his mind is made up, and he doesn’t want to be confused by trivial things like facts.

    This is why AGW denialists are completely full of it when they whine that they are just true and honest skeptics, not denialists. As soon as the results of that Berkeley study was revealed, Watts started hemming and hawing and looking for any nitpick to show why it was wrong. AGW denialists operate by conclusion first, evidence later. The surest sign that they deal in pseudoscience.

    @irritable

    Remember, it’s very wrong and hypocritical to draw attention to anthropogenic climate change if you have EVER, ON ANY OCCASION, IN ANY WAY gained any benefit from fossil fuels.

    So therefore, shut the fuck up. That is the conclusion to that sort of gotcha. Also environmentalists usually acknowledge that it is impossible to cause zero damage, so we should do the next best thing, reduce it. So this weak accusation of hypocrisy would only count if environmentalists were literally advocating living in caves. Which they don’t so it is really just a form of derailing whenever environmental issues come up in discussion.

  46. 46
    Rey Fox

    The only silver lining in this is I hope that the deniers will suffer blow back when the population realizes they have been lied to for years.

    Most likely, they’ll just turn around and blame everybody else for the current problems, and short memory will probably cause everyone to believe them.

  47. 47
    rr

    Stupid kooks – I thought they wanted an apocalypse.

  48. 48
    w00dview

    Most likely, they’ll just turn around and blame everybody else for the current problems, and short memory will probably cause everyone to believe them.

    I would bet large sums of cash that is exactly what they will do. The republicans will all of a sudden claim to be very concerned about climate change if it can be blamed on gay marriage. Or when it really hits certain republican strongholds like Oklahoma or Texas.

    Incidentally, as well as having a image problem amongst LGBT folks, women and minorities. The GOP is now seen as out of touch for denying climate change according to most young voters.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/25/us-politics-climate-change-scepticism

  49. 49
    Nick Gotts

    Most likely, they’ll just turn around and blame everybody else for the current problems

    Already happening. The “real culprits” are supposedly:
    1) China (although both historical GHG emissions and current per capita emissions are much lower than rich countries, and much of what they do produce is in making goods for export).
    2) Global population growth (although GHG emissions are growing considerably faster than population, the rate of growth of the latter is declining, an dmost of the growth is among populations with low rates of per capita emission).
    3) Environmentalist opposition to nuclear power (although France, where such opposition has had no impact and most electricity is from nuclear plants) has per capita emissions very similar to Italy (where all nuclear power plants were closed by 1990).

  50. 50
    patterson

    @43

    Denialotron?

  51. 51
    Rutee Katreya

    Or when it really hits certain republican strongholds like Oklahoma or Texas.

    I Am Not a Climatologist, but I’m like, 70% sure that the ridiculously long drought Texas has had is part of AGW.

  52. 52
    Ing

    Remember, it’s very wrong and hypocritical to draw attention to anthropogenic climate change if you have EVER, ON ANY OCCASION, IN ANY WAY gained any benefit from fossil fuels.

    Which is why white people must never ever speak out against racism, having been born into a position where they benefit from it!

    Wait…what?

  53. 53
    anteprepro

    It is always interesting to me when someone plays the “You aren’t doing everything in your power to save the Earth card yourself, ergo why should anyone try” card or the “You, individually, cannot save the Earth, so why should anyone try” card. Because, I’m like 90% sure, the entire point of people who actually believe in science pleading with government to do something about global warming is premised on the fact that we need to get lots of people on board with actually trying to reduce their carbon footprints and we need to change our infrastructure in a way that makes that easier. Tut-tutting individuals for having a non-zero carbon footprint is fantastically ignorant of the fact that we know that this is practically impossible. That we are actively trying to make that an actually feasible goal. And the more common tut-tutting individuals for EVEN TRYING when it is pointless until we get a ton of people doing it completely ignores that we are trying to get more to do so also and that individual behaviors add up.

    The denialists really do dominate the discourse on this subject. Where even people who technically agree will snidely look at people who actually want us to urgently do something as a paranoid loon or a frothing fearmonger. Where even people who otherwise trust science will nod sagely about how we don’t really Know. Where even supposed allies will still view anyone slightly more outspoken than themselves as New Agey hippy environmentalists or naive Al Gore worshippers or science groupies or some such shit. Even if the denialists eventually lose their War on Facts, they will have forever poisoned the well on the subject. Even if we get people to finally acknowledge that the science is in, we will still have a cynical and apathetic audience who still see actually doing something about this shit as Political. They may realize that they have been manipulated in regards to whether it is true, but when we finally get to the question of what to actually do about it, they will remain influenced and prejudiced by the bullshit from people they now know are bullshitters (but don’t remember that they were the sources for their current factoids). I’m depressing myself, but I just can’t get around it: The AGW debate is inevitably going to be two rounds, we might win the first round, but we are not going to win the second round on time unless the American public suddenly become a lot fucking smarter than they have ever been in the past.

  54. 54
    David Marjanović

    The comments are also delusional. People are opining that Science is a dying journal. Really?

    Paid shills of Nature Publishing Group!!!!!1!1!!11!eleventyeleven!!!

    Let me just say that a dying scientific journal doesn’t publish a new issue every fucking week.

    There’s one there who claims to only be a skeptic, not a denialist. However, he trusts the data from his local weather station to be a better indicator of climate than the vast bulk of scientific research by big city scientists in big city weather stations.

    …because he believes all those scientists are so stupid they’ve never built a weather station outside the heat island effect, in decades and decades and decades.

    Dunning, Kruger.

    P.s. PZ is preferable in the semantics. They should be called “denialists”, not “deniers”. The latter term applies to truly evil denial, such as holocaust denial.

    what

    No. A denialist is someone who turns denial into a political ideology. The term is young, because most holocaust deniers never denied doing that, while AGW deniers usually claim to be all about the science instead.

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