Australia/New Zealand

Thu, 2014-05-15 14:30John Mashey
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Pseudoskeptics Exposed In The SalbyStorm

Pseudoskeptics Exposed In The SalbyStorm

Pseudoskeptics Are Not Skeptics was inspired by last year's SalbyStorm,  which highlighted the stark divide between scientific skeptics and most (pseudoskeptic) climate dismissives, who reject the mainstream consensus.

Murry Salby's unsupported, internally-inconsistent story of dismissal by Macquarie University was broadcast via blogs, to excited discussion.  Contrary evidence mounted over the next few days, including here.  Reactions differed strongly.

Scientific skeptics
About 30 commenters accepted mainstream climate science and rejected Salby's wrong ideas from his lectures and 2012 book (see review). Given a one-sided employment dispute story, real skeptics were cautious or knowledgable enough to be more dubious.  In the hostile territory of these blogs, they were often insulted, sometimes for merely expressing caution. 

Real skeptics knew the science, weighed evidence, and avoided leaping to premature conclusions on Salby's story.  Some searched and found relevant history that cast doubt on Salby's credibility, but were ignored or insulted for providing unwanted facts.

Climate dismissives, pseudoskeptic behavior
By contrast, of the 400+ dismissive commenters (who reject mainstream consensus), about 40% explicitly supported Salby's erroneous CO2 ideas, seemingly desperate to believe the current rise in CO2 was natural.  That idea was rejected by a mere handful, of whom one apologized and said he expected to be downvoted for doing so, and indeed he was.
Dismissives reacted to Salby's Macquarie story in varying ways:

Fri, 2013-11-01 15:00Graham Readfearn
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Australia's Murdoch Newspapers Lying to Public About Climate Change, Says Study Author

CONSIDER the following two statistics together.

Research into the peer-reviewed science of climate change found that between 1991 and 2011, 97 per cent of studies agreed that climate change is caused mostly by humans.

Research into the reporting of climate change science in Australia's biggest selling newspaper, the Herald Sun in Melbourne, has found that 81 per cent of all the coverage, including 97 per cent of all the opinion stories, were sceptical of human-caused climate change.

Overall, this major new study into newspaper coverage of climate change in Australia has found about one third of all the stories and columns are sceptical of the scientific consensus on climate change.

But the study, carried out by the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism at Sydney's University of Technology, reveals how Australia's dominant Rupert Murdoch-owned newspapers are heavily slanted away from the scientific reality towards denial of the science.

The Sceptical Climate study was led by Wendy Bacon, Professorial Fellow at the ACIJ. She told DeSmogBlog:

Fri, 2013-07-12 11:44John Mashey
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Murry Salby: Galileo? Bozo? Or P.T.Barnum?

Murry Salby fired from Macquarie, had been debarred by NSF

“They laughed at Galileo … but they also laughed at Bozo the Clown” might be appled to Murry Salby, who until May was a Professor of Environmental Science at Australia's Macquarie University (MU).  P.T. Barnum might fit better, as Salby has a well-documented history of deception and financial chicanery that got him debarred from Federal funding in the USA.

Galileo? In 2011, he proclaimed a recent rise in CO2 to be natural, not human-caused, which if true, would qualify for Galileo level.  This was received with great praise or at least taken seriously at The Sydney Institute (thinktank), Andrew Bolt in Herald Sun, JoNova, Jennifer Marohasy, WUWT (Steve Brown, Benny Peiser/GWPF, Ronald Voisin, Vincent Gray, Anthony Watts),  Bishop Hill (Andrew Montford), Climate Depot (Marc Morano), Climate Etc (Judith Curry,  who knew Salby at U Colorado), SPPI (Robert Ferguson reblogs Curry), NotrickZone (P. Gosselin), GWPF (reblogs Gosselin), The Hockey Schtick, to  name just a few.

Bozo? SkS lists “Murray Salby finds CO2 rise is natural” as #188 in the catalog of bad arguments, following this and this earlier articles.  MU Professor Colin Prentice took the time to write “How we know the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic”, but scientists rarely waste much time debunking wrong arguments. They wait until bad ideas get into credible peer-reviewed journals, beyond thinktank talks or even  poster sessions.

Fired in May, emailed ~July 8: Salby emailed a few bloggers laying out many complaints against MU, quickly published by JoNova (“Did Macquarie University sabotage, exile, blackban, strand and abandon Murry Salby?”), Watts (“Professor Murry Salby who is critical of AGW theory, is being disenfranchised, exiled, from academia in Australia”, reblogged by Tallbloke), Montford (“Climate of Fear”), Powerline (Steven Hayward, “The Climate Mafia Strikes Again…”). An article in The Australian was reblogged as Climate Chairman Left High And Dry By University by GWPF (of FOIA Facts 5) and Morano, who also wrote “the same.”   If a legal strategy, it seemed odd.

MU replied July 10, Statement regarding the termination of Professor Murry Salby.  Unlike bloggers, schools follow legal rules, so it was short, including:

Mon, 2012-02-20 10:38John Mashey
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Fakeducation For Years From Heartland

Is Your Child Being Indoctrianted or Educated?

The NY Times, LA Times and many others criticized Heartland’s inept plan to hire David Wojick to create an alternate-reality K-12 climate science curriculum. But Heartland's school ground attack on science is nothing new, as is evident in the organization's own commentary: “Heartland has tried to make material available to teachers, but has had only limited success. Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective.”

One of the best known Heartland incursions into the schoolyard occurred in 2008, when the institute mailed teaching materials to 11,250 schools in Canada. In 2009, Science derided Heartland for sending copies of The Skeptic’s Handbook to 14,000 US school board officials. Heartland's Environment and Climate New mocked one school board president for his refusal to use it. 

But Heartland began its classroom misinformation campaign much earlier. During 2002-2003, E&CN ran ads exhorting readers to “discuss an E&CN article with your school-age child… and his or her teacher.” I hope parents avoided the common “Smoker’s Lounge” ads in those issues.

Tue, 2012-02-14 15:08John Mashey
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Fake science, fakexperts, funny finances, free of tax

Modern anti-science was created by the tobacco industry in the 1950s and then used against climate science, often by the same well-experienced think tanks and individuals.  Tobacco anti-science is strangely entangled with climate anti-science, as the attached report shows in detail involving Fred Singer's SEPP, Joseph Bast's Heartland, and more.

Wed, 2011-11-30 09:16Chris Mooney
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The Science of Debiasing: The New “Debunking Handbook” Is a Treasure Trove For Defenders of Reason

For quite some time here at DeSmogBlog, I’ve been writing about the growing science of irrationality—in other words, our ever-better scientific understanding of why people reject clearly correct information. I believe we can’t possibly get to a better place, in debates over issues like global warming, until we understand why getting facts across turns out to be so difficult.

A large amount of psychological science has now been published on this matter—but boiling it all down into a practical, usable guide for someone who wants to communicate in a scientifically-informed way? Not so much.

Not until now.

I simply cannot believe that John Cook of Skeptical Science and psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky managed, in just 8 pages, to create something as magnificent as their new Debunking Handbook. It is packed not only with wonderful graphics, but also with a clear explanation of why many attempts to defeat misinformation fail, and what steps must be taken to do a better job.

The core issue, of course, is one that I’ve written much about—too many scientists assume that that facts win out on their own, but that isn’t actually true. If you base your communication strategy on this misconception, you will fail very badly.

Instead, Cook and Lewandowky explain that there are a variety of “backfires” that can be triggered by uninformed communication styles. Stating a myth before debunking can actually reinforce it. Debunking a myth with an overload of information can also backfire. And attacking a worldview can backfire most of all.

So what do you do? You should read their guide, but basically it boils down to several principles:

Wed, 2010-06-16 02:20Morgan Goodwin
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Sceptics On the Road: Watts in Australia

This week and next week, prominent climate sceptic blogger Anthony Watts is touring Australia to help promote the country’s newest political party, the Climate Sceptics party.  Single issue parties are not unusual in Australia, and the Sceptics have been working to create a “new centrist party” to push for a “truthful, common-sense approach to [climate change] and all issues.”

The Climate Sceptics turned heads in January when they had to beg their members for an extra $20,000 to pay Christopher Monckton’s stipend as part of $100,000 in tour fees.  This begs the question: where does the cash come from to pay for the speaking tours of Australia? 

DeSmogBlog asked the Australian Electoral Commission if the party had registered itself yet and reported on any income.  Unfortunately, as a new party, they do not need to file their finances until October.  Furthermore, the sceptics party website clearly lists all the rules about what donations need to be disclosed and which ones do not (donations less than $11,200 can be anonymous under Australian law.)

Watts’ tour is being billed as a tool to fight the Australian government’s weak and industry-friendly Emissions Trading Scheme, which it recently put on hold for about 3 years.  Leon Ashby, the president of the Sceptics party, says “these presentations will make you think hard about the gap between the facts, public perception and where our political leaders want to take us.”

Thu, 2010-05-13 12:15Brendan DeMelle
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Denial-a-palooza Round 4: 'International Conference on Climate Change' Groups Funded by Exxon, Koch Industries

In what has become an annual non-event, the Heartland Institute will gather the who’s-who of the global warming denial network together in Chicago this weekend for the fourth International Conference on Climate Change

As in years past, the event is expected to receive very little mainstream media coverage.  The deniers like to think the reason is some liberal media conspiracy.  In reality, the lack of interest stems chiefly from the fact that this denial-a-palooza fest is dripping with oil money and represents a blatant industry effort to greenwash oil and coal while simultaneously attacking the credibility of climate scientists.

Despite the lack of press interest, the show must go on.  After all, the Chicago meet-up will provide deniers and industry front groups a chance to coordinate their ongoing efforts to smear the reputation of the IPCC, and they can reminisce about the Climategate non-scandal like boys in the schoolyard kicking around a rusty old can.

For insight into the underlying aim of the Chicago denier conference, let us take a look at the funding sources for the sponsoring organizations.

Tue, 2009-09-15 17:00Richard Littlemore
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Clumsy Denier Ian Plimer Limps AWAY FROM the Finish Line

The panicky Professor Ian Plimer appears to have run from the field of intelligent debate in his latest duck-and-dodge fest with UK Guardian Columnist George Monbiot.

Plimer is the author of Heaven and Earth, a terrible hash of logical misdirection, plagiarism and mistakes which was shredded into fine bits by people like our favourite Australian, Tim Lambert at Deltoid blog.

After Monbiot joined the public lashing, Plimer protested and demanded that Monbiot engage with him in debate. Monbiot agreed, but only on condition that Plimer first respond in writing to a handful of questions about the accuracy and source of material in his book.

Plimer has been hiding out ever since.

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