thentheresphysics – hostilities

Hostilities

There has been a rather extensive discussion on Twitter about hostilities in the online climate debate. It seems to have been partly motivated by the recent articles by Matt Ridley and David Rose, in which they complain about how they’ve been attacked because of their views about climate change. The suggestion seems to be that these articles are illustrating how hostile the online debate has become and that we should be aiming to be less hostile so as to encourage better behaviour (or something like that, I rather lost track of the arguments being made). Personally, I have no problem with it becoming less hostile, I just don’t really think that either of these articles is a particularly good motivation for suggesting it now.

Although both articles highlight some fairly atrocious verbal attacks, my impression is that the authors are really just trying to use a few awful examples to score points against, and de-legitimise, their critics. I actually find it offensive. I’ve criticised both Rose and Ridley in the past, but have never said anything remotely offensive and have neither condoned nor encouraged any such attacks. If Ridley and Rose think the examples that they highlight are typical of the tone of their critics, then they’re either being incredibly disingenuous or they can’t tell the difference between an attack and a critique, and should probably assume that they don’t have the intellect to engage in discussions about a complex topic.

So, as much as I’d be all for a reduction in hostilities, and a more reasoned approach to discussions about climate science, I see no reason to capitulate to those who appear to be using a few extreme examples to simply score points. I also think we all own our own behaviour. If people want to reduce hostilities, they can simply do so. People are not responsible for how someone responds to what they say, they’re only responsible for what they actually say.

I will admit, however, to what may be a very obvious bias. Although I have no problem with a reduction in hostilities, I don’t really care either way. I have no great interest in engaging in discussions with those who strongly and vocally dispute mainstream climate science. I’ve tried and failed too many times to think it’s really possible or even worthwhile. That doesn’t mean that I would encourage bad behaviour. It just means that I have no great interest in encouraging those I largely agree with to change their behaviour, just so that some of the most unpleasant people I’ve ever encountered might possibly behave a little less atrociously than they are now.

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96 Responses to Hostilities

  1. Rachel M says:

    I thought it was a bit pathetic for David Rose (and others) to make such a big deal out of a moderated comment, as though somehow The Guardian or Dana Nuccitelli are responsible for every comment made on the site. The comment was moderated. What else could they do? Turn off the comments altogether? I’m sure David Rose (and others) would complain about censorship if they did that.

  2. I’m still waiting for this one to be moderated.

  3. dana1981 says:

    I think they’re just playing games. They don’t like their misinformation being constantly debunked, so they try to create a distraction by highlighting some stupid offensive comments a few random people on the internet have made. And the ploy has been successful. Instead of talking about how Ridley and Rose are getting the science wrong and misinforming the public, we’re talking about whether efforts to correct that misinformation have been too darned mean to them.

    Honestly, if you’re going to engage in the climate ‘debate’ you need to grow a pair. We’ve all been subjected to insulting and offensive comments at one point or another. Deniers are far worse on this than climate realists. Some climate scientists have even received death threats. None of this should happen, and it should certainly be discouraged, but Ridley and Rose certainly don’t deserve a pity party because of a couple of stupid comments.

  4. dana1981,

    Honestly, if you’re going to engage in the climate ‘debate’ you need to grow a pair.

    Yes, I was going to say something like that in my post. Are we dealing with adults or children? I don’t have the thickest of skins, but even I know you can’t engage in this if you can’t take robust criticism. Offensive stuff you just ignore.

  5. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ATTP: ‘…some of the most unpleasant people I’ve ever encountered’.

    How come?

  6. Mnestheus says:

    Do you imagine realists immune to attack by those who feel entitled to their own reality ?

    It wouldn’t be a climate war if people didn’t belive their own propaganda ,

  7. Vinny,
    I’m a new South African though 🙂

  8. KarSteN says:

    Funny, got hatemails the moment I started engaing constructively (w/ non other than NL) at ClimateAudit. Guess David Rose thinks the hate he receives is different from hate actual climate scientists receive. Pathetic! Chin up, Dana (and ATTP ) … you’re doing a great job, despite some challenging tweets once in a while 😉

  9. KarSteN,
    I’m not sure what NL makes of me after my response to one of his comments on ClimateAudit over the weekend. I wasn’t very impressed by what he’d said and didn’t hide my disdain particularly well. No hate mail, though 🙂

  10. KarSteN says:

    @ATTP: Lucky you 😉

  11. dana1981 says:

    I don’t care about Ridley and Rose’s whining. What’s irritating though is that people who should really know better fall for it and start criticizing me for somehow creating the climate that led to those few stupid comments.

    It’s a pretty massive double standard that the constant vitriol on blogs like WUWT and Bishop Hill and Curry’s go unchallenged (in fact they’re invited on pleasant dinner dates), but a couple dumb comments from ‘our side’ and suddenly we’re being too mean to the deniers. Basically, this:

  12. jsam says:

    Have these chaps never read the comments on the skepticle blogs? Bless.

  13. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: You Brits have the uncanny ability to stir up a hornet’s nest with polite understatement. Your OPs bear witness to this fact. (:

  14. Dana,
    I’m being a bit thick, but I didn’t quite understand you tweet. “criticism shou;d be that we’re held to a standard of perfection, not that we meet it”?

    JH,
    As you may slowly be working out, I’m not actually British (well, kind of, but not quite).

  15. ligne says:

    “[…] wouldn’t have given [David Rose] a hook for his story”? i don’t think that this sort of issue has ever presented him with much of a hurdle before…

  16. [Mod : Huh? You seriously expect me to post your comment?]

  17. John Hartz says:

    Meanwhile, back in the real world…

    As scientists and much of the public differ on the causes of climate change, the planet keeps getting warmer … and the effects are adding up.

    Earth’s Dashboard Is Flashing Red—Are Enough People Listening? by Dennis Dimick, National Geographic, Feb 2, 2015

  18. T-rev says:

    “And the ploy has been successful. Instead of talking about how Ridley and Rose are getting the science wrong and misinforming the public, we’re talking about whether efforts to correct that misinformation have been too darned mean to them.”

    They have also been successful in sidetracking action on emissions mitigation to alleviate the “catastrophe”* So much so they have those who understand and/or agree with the Science and the need for CO2e mitigation are still engaged in profligate emissions.

    It’s like you guys and the deniers are standing in front of an oncoming bus, “debating” the existence of the oncoming bus, equipped with all manner of science on your side you’re intent on proving them wrong, until you’re run over by the bus and none of you (aside from Kevin Anderson) is stepping out of the way.

    *Carl Sagan

  19. Gator says:

    Victim bullies.

  20. izen says:

    Ha, I remember that Delingpole article, and the ‘discussion’ afterwards… not sure if I managed to contribute!

    I did try and resist, in the interests of civility, quoting heret a couple of sentences in James Delingpole’s article.
    But perhaps it shows that sometimes both sides can agree on something.

    “The problem with the Tols of this world is that they are under a naive misapprehension about the climate change debate in particular and the culture wars debate generally. Being both decent, fair-minded people and determined centrists they assume that there must be equal merit and equal fault on both sides of the argument. (What I call the dog poo yogurt fallacy). …
    Sorry to have a go at poor Richard Tol. He’s a damned useful economist, I’m sure, but he’s evidently way out of his depth in areas which require seriously critical thinking.”
    J.D.

    Are people who state that climate scientists are engaged in a fraud or hoax, or at best getting rich by providing a political cabal with a fake threat to ensure world domination REALLY complaining about hostility or incivility! Have they never read an old Delingpole thread or anything current at WUWT. 4fxache.

    I do try and avoid hostility, but I cannot help it if incredulity and ridicule are interpreted as incivility.

  21. Everett F Sargent says:

    Climate believer hate speech = Climate denier hate speech

    or …

    97% Concensus * 3% Hang ‘Em High = 3% Noncensus * 97% Hang ‘Em High

  22. Nick says:

    Ridley has little to say about climate science, but he has been give prominent venues to repeat it.

    I visited his blog post via your link, and there was Ridley tone trolling away, defining himself and positioning the utter reasonableness of his ‘lukewarm’ views…hand-wringing about how he upsets both sides, yet the pro-AGW ‘side’ more…and feeling obliged to incidentally, casually, and truly irrelevantly to the science, note his critics were ‘government funded’. A cue to his survivalist friends, I guess? Really, and I know it’s been said before, Ridley is just a public troll, draping his provocation such unrepentant neo-liberal tinsel.

    Thank the lord the government was there to bail him out in a past life.

  23. There’s a section in Merchants of Doubt where climate scientists read short samples of emails they get regularly.
    Katharine is one of them, but see this for more examples.
    The senders of those are right with Rose and Ridley, as are those who send more death threats and envelopes with white powder.

    Police asked Steve Schneider for sample emails, but he had trouble emailing it to them – their SPAM filter kept rejecting it for obscenities.

    Movie -Those are US schedules for MoD, I don’t think International ones area available yet.
    I’ve seen it twice and strongly recommend it.

  24. dana1981 says:

    ATTP – there were some silly criticisms, i.e. of a zombie photo I used, with the implication that’s what created the climate that led to the stupid comments in question. That’s basically David Rose’s argument.

    I think the correct reaction is to point out that’s a stupid argument, holding me to a standard of perfection (i.e. I’m not even allowed to use photos that might possibly be the genesis of stupid comments). Instead I was criticized for not being perfect by people who should really know better than to fall for that ploy.

  25. Marco says:

    Since Ridley and Rose have resorted to tone trolling, this then in Ridleyian logic means a tacit admission our arguments are hitting home…

  26. Catmando says:

    I note Rose is offended to be called a denier, because he proclaims his acceptance of the consensus view on climate change (hard to see in his articles, I must admit) and because he is Jewish and the word is associated with Holocaust denial.

    The word denier has a deeper history of which Rose must be ignorant. It was used in the same anti-science context in the 1850s and I found a not very secret Carl Sagan speech where he talks about denial and deniers from 1990.

    Denier is a word that usefully describes a person’s position on a matter of fact. Those given the label would do better to ask themselves where their logic went wrong.

  27. Nathan says:

    Science of Doom has an… Interesting point of view….

  28. Nathan,
    Yes, I saw that. I’ve written and deleted two comments on that post, mostly because I don’t think what I have to say would be appreciated. As far as I’ve seen, the association with the Holocaust is made more by those who object to the use of “denier”, than by those who use it. It is certainly my view that most who make the association are simply trying to score points by associating what they regard as an insult with an horrific event. In my view, that’s at least as appalling as what they’re claiming those who use it are trying to do (for which they have almost no evidence whatsoever).

  29. I will admit that there are some absolutely hilarious comments on the recent SoD post.

  30. BBD says:

    SoD has been uncharacteristically thoughtless and gullible.

  31. BBD,
    Yes, I must admit that I was rather surprised myself.

  32. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Given your sense of humor…

    Climate change is no laughing matter, but when all else fails, perhaps it’s time to take humour a bit more seriously?

    SEVEN SERIOUS JOKES ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE


  33. Nathan says:
    Science of Doom has an… Interesting point of view….

    In discussing sources of scientific arguments and ideas, the proprietor of the SoD blog offered “If you are talking about websites and blogs, no need, it’s irrelevant to this site.”

    Yet, SoD is a blog, and so by his own logic, we should treat it as irrelevant?

    I go to blogs for info all the time. Pseudo-skeptic blogs are great places to clean up on #OwnGoals !


  34. BBD says:

    SoD has been uncharacteristically thoughtless and gullible.

    Example:


    Richard Tol (@RichardTol)
    SoD’s language signals his intellectual superiority, a bad start to any conversation.

    Is that what being charitable will get you?

  35. WHT,
    I’ve no idea what Richard is playing at in the comment thread on SoD’s post, but that he identifies with people under the age of 10 is no great surprise.

  36. Marlowe Johnson says:

    ATTP I humbly suggest you change the title of the post to ‘Butthurt’. Hostilities is usually reserved for things like the middle east, fallout from golfing weekends, etc….

  37. Marlowe Johnson says:

    ATTP/Rachel apparently words like *buthurt* and/or golf land you in comment moderation…

  38. Brandon Gates says:

    BBD/ATTP,

    My initial read of the post was via the link to Tol’s first comment. Immediate disorientation because I didn’t start understanding what was funny until I hit the integral in the first equation, which Tol himself points to in his second comment. I don’t read SoD as much as I probably should — whenever I do I find it incredibly useful — so I can’t gauge what’s characteristic or not over there. But I found myself surprised as well. “Surely he’s having me on?” I asked myself. On re-reading, no, I don’t think he is. So I identify with Tol’s confusion somewhat, but that doesn’t make it not funny.

    I meant to not pile on Poor Richard, but I’m in a nasty mood with the Tone Police at Watts’ joint … they’ve been quoting Dale Carnegie’s book there of late as well. I just … how … oh screw it. It’s not fathomable, and I just can’t be arsed to even think about figuring it out.

    MikeH sums up my thinking at SoDs: “I try not to use the term ‘denier’ because it just gives the pseudo-skeptics the opportunity to play the victim card. But in the years of following this debate, the only people who I have read associating the term climate denier with the holocaust is you above and the psuedo-skeptics themselves when they have run out of other arguments.”

    My preferred term is “climate contrarian” or simply “contrarian” once it’s established what I mean. My deal is that if I must use a label of convenience, it should be as non-loaded as possible. To me that’s just a tenet of good-faith debate: the terminology used to address one’s interlocutor should not implicitly pass judgement on their position. Anything else is not a debate, it’s a polemic. If I’m going to rip someone a new one, I don’t resort to loaded terminology to do it, I tell them straight up that I think they’re full of shit. And why. And yes by God, I think that’s the respectful way to do it.

    Wouldn’t you know, I got complaints about using the word “contrarian”. I told them tough, I’m not ceding “skeptic” to them. That went a few rounds and then it got dropped.

    SoD’s post is thought-provoking. I agree with much of what he wrote. But I can think of better reasons to not use “denier” which don’t have anything to do with Hitler and also don’t pander to their idiotic conspiracy theories and multiple persecution complexes. I never in a million years would have made that connection in the first place.

  39. Joshua says:

    Tol says:

    ==> “SoD’s language signals his intellectual superiority, a bad start to any conversation.”

    I commented at SoD about how his opening gambit:

    ==> “I’ve been a student of history for a long time and have read quite a bit about Nazi Germany and WWII. …It’s heartbreaking to read about the war and to read about the Holocaust. Words fail me to describe the awfulness of that regime and what they did.”

    Reminds me of Ridley’s gambit that he’s commenting on climate change as someone who has long been a promoter of truthful science, as if to distinguish himself from those who disagree with him (in a non-pejorative way, of course, because if he did so pejoratively then it would mean that he’s lost the argument).

    SoD’s rhetoric looks to me like a gambit that is saying that his view on the use of the term “denier” is a direct outgrowth of knowledge of and concern about the holocaust. I don’t doubt the sincerity of SoD’s views on the holocaust, but obviously it is quite possible to know and be concerned about the holocaust and still not be concerned about the use of “denier” in the climate wars.

    So unless I’m reading it wrong, I think that Tol might actually have made a reasonable point, and that the point he made might not be so easily aligned with his typical orientation as a climate warrior.

  40. guthrie says:

    I think Tol has a point, but we’re talking about someone who is so intellectually superior they regularly make obtuse points, argue against straw men and always leave you with the feeling that they think they are wonderful, yet actually insecure. Secure people don’t wander the internet picking fights whenever their name is mentioned.

    BOOKMARK

  41. Tom Curtis says:

    I have two things to say about SoD’s post:

    1) Ignorance of the relevant scientific theory and related maths is not sound grounds to reject the theory. It follows that SoD’s argument is wrong headed. If people reject the science out of ignorance, then they are in fact deniers.

    2) No matter how erudite SoD is on history (which remains entirely unproven), and how erudite on science (which he certainly is); neither subject has any bearing on etymology, on which subject he is offering his uninformed opinion. The term “denier” has a history in English longer than modern English has existed. It is a word very easily understood by construction by anybody with reasonable knowledge of English. That is why the term “holocaust denier” was coined in the first place – ie, because people would understand what was meant by “denier” without need of explanation. That same ease of construction means that the term can and has been used in similar contexts entirely unrelated to holocaust denial starting with the title of the Apostle Peter, ie, Peter the denier, and will be used long into the future in similar contexts with no reference to holocaust denial implicit in the term.

    It is the attempts by deniers, and now SoD to tie the term exclusively to “holocaust denial” to prevent the use of a perfectly appropriate descriptor that use the suffering of the holocaust victims for tawdry rhetorical gain. Not the other way round.

  42. It has been a subtle shift but SoD has been veering towards a more fair-and-balanced schtick, especially in terms of giving free-reign in his comments section to the pseudo-science crowd.

    My opinion is akin to what somebody recently tweeted — that allowing both sides on certain scientific topics is like having opposing food critics argue the merits of “dog-doodie yogurt”

  43. Brandon Gates says:

    Web, the frustrating thing about this is that it’s really not immediately obvious to our denier friends that they’re fans of frozen cat crap on a stick. Couching it in those terms goes right into the conspiracy feedback loop and thence to infinty plus three.

  44. Everett F Sargent says:

    Methinks SoD is just a little wee bit biased.

    “I’ve been a student of history for a long time and have read quite a bit about Nazi Germany and WWII. In fact right now, having found audible.com I’m listening to an audio book The Coming of the Third Reich, by Richard Evans, while I walk, drive and exercise.”

    So in gaming the word “denial” in a word association sort of way:

    Psychologist: Denial
    SoD: Holocaust
    Sample size = 1

    Psychologist: Denial
    3% Noncensus: Holocaust (97% of the time), miscellaneous other words (3% of the time)
    Sample size >> 1E4

    Psychologist: Denial
    97% Concensus: Climate (97% of the time), Science (~3% of the time) and miscellaneous other words (<> 1E4

    So other than that there is a standard word definition for denial and formal psychological/psychiatric descriptions for denial (DSM-V), we can plainly see SoD’s kneejerk reaction given their current reading list. Oh, the ploy of using a complex description of climate science to ‘explain away’ those who might reject the science because it is ‘too complicated’ is a non sequitur, in my book, at least.

  45. Everett F Sargent says:

    Well, wordpress messed with part of my comment:

    “97% Concensus: Climate (97% of the time), Science (~3% of the time) and miscellaneous other words ( 1E4″

    should be …

    97% Concensus: Climate (97% of the time), Science (~3% of the time) and miscellaneous other words (less-than-less-than 1% of the time)
    Sample size greater-than-greater-than 1E4

  46. verytallguy says:

    In which SoD demonstrates how to listen and respond to opposing views. Kudos.

    http://scienceofdoom.com/2015/02/04/the-holocaust-climate-science-and-proof/#comment-94437

  47. vtg,
    Okay, that is impressive and rare. Kudos. Only wish more would be willing to acknowledge when they get something wrong in their posts.

  48. John Hartz says:

    Tom Curtis: Bravo!

    PS – Would you be willing to embellish your comment and transform it into a guest post on SkS?

  49. John Hartz says:

    Observation: This comment thread reminds me of an ESPN panel of experts dissecting the Super Bowl football (American) game on Monday morning. Perhaps there’s merit in the “Climateball” construct after all. (:

  50. I also never figured out why the Science Of Doom blog uses the word “Doom” in the title.

    Most environmentally-conscious types are sensitive about the tag Doomer attached to them. In particular, it’s essentially a slur to anyone analyzing oil depletion.

  51. WHT,
    I’m not sure, but I think SoD may have started as someone who was highly skeptical and thought the science was too doom laden. He, however, then proceeded through a process of genuine skepticism and clearly understands the science extremely well and writes some very thorough and informative posts.

  52. “I’ve criticised both Rose and Ridley in the past, but have never said anything remotely offensive and have neither condoned nor encouraged any such attacks.”

    Short memory.

  53. Everett F Sargent says:

    Kind of reminds me of this episode of South Park:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/With_Apologies_to_Jesse_Jackson

    “He explains to Token that, as a white person, he will never understand why Token is so upset by the word, and why it can make black people mad when a white person says it in any context. Token is finally satisfied that Stan gets that he does not get it, thus creating an understanding between them.”

    So I can see certain specific demographic groups being insulted by certain specific words.

    However, I don’t even remotely think that climate Deniers are either solely Jewish or African American, in the same way that those groups, are, well, those specific demographic groups.

    Hardcore climate Deniers are mostly old white males, there’s a certain specific pejorative term for whites used here in the Deep South, I use it a lot, and I’m an old white male. But that word does not have the same impact factor, by any means, as words associated with being owned or persecuted or systematically killed, specifically when applied to very specific demographic groups.

    In short, Climate Deniers don’t identify with each other BECAUSE of their race.

  54. Richard,

    “I’ve criticised both Rose and Ridley in the past, but have never said anything remotely offensive and have neither condoned nor encouraged any such attacks.”

    Short memory.

    Back it up, Richard [Mod: Unnecessary]

  55. [Mod : I said back it up! You do know what that means, don’t you? Now do so, or go away!]

  56. Steven Mosher says:

    The term denier is saving the planet.
    don’t give it up. the cause depends on it.

  57. Joshua says:

    Anyone using the term “denier” clearly doesn’t give a damn about the victims of the holocaust….not a single one.

    The only people who give a damn about the victims of the holocaust are those, like Judith Curry, who clutch pearls from their fainting couches about the deep, deep harm caused by the use of the term.

    Just think of how much further along we’d be in dealing with Climate change if only those AGW Lysenkoist, eugenicist, alarmist, Stalinist, poorchildreninafricastarving cultists would stop using the pejorative term “denier.”

    Oh, the humanity!!!1!1!!

  58. Windchasers says:

    I posted twice on that thread so far, not about the d-word but about the hidden premises and attitudes behind AGW skepticism. Psychology and epistemology are quite a bit more interesting than semantics.

    Honestly, I don’t care about the use of the d* word. It’s Climateball: it distracts from the real debate. So I use “skeptic” instead.

    If you’re getting into an argument about semantics, you’re letting yourself get sidetracked.

  59. Everett F Sargent says:

    So if Richard A. Muller was a Denier and is now no longer a Denier, would one say that Richard A. Muller is in Denierment (rhymes with retirement)?

  60. John Hartz says:

    One of the things about “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” is that no matter how many analysts are engaged and no matter how much analyis is prodcued, the score of the game never changes once the final whistle blows. In other words, I don’t see a lot of value in what’s being posted on this thread. Having said that, perhaps group venting has some value and is needed from time to time. I just hope it doesn’t become the norm for this website.

  61. eli says:

    Rejectionist hits all the boxes. People who simply do not deny but actively reject. Also obvious meaning for the terminally dense

  62. Lars Karlsson says:

    Here is some more Delingpole: “Why do I call them Eco Nazis? Because they ARE Eco Nazis”. Complete with a picture of Himmler, with caption “Himmler: he loved nature, furry animals and organic food”.

  63. pbjamm says:

    Guthrie right on the mark. No sooner is Tol mentioned than he arrives in a narcissistic attempt to make the conversation about himself (and I am falling for it!) by dropping a random comment with no support for his assertion. How predictable.

  64. From my experience SoD is not a worthwhile place to comment, IMO. Good comments get mixed in with pseudo-scientific assertions and it is apparently a breech of “etiquette” to call that stuff dog-doodie yogurt. I was shushed there last month for getting baited by the usual suspect.

  65. Willard says:

    Come on, guys. You play offense. They play defense. They are allowed to hold. You can’t:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_football

    However, you play offense, which means you have the ball. Keep the ball moving forward. Let them do their touch down dances on their line of 20.

    Keep calm and play ClimateBall like gentlemen and gentlewomen.

  66. Dana

    The suggestion that I let stuff on BH, WUWT etc “go unchallenged” is ridiculous.

    I often respond to errors, criticisms, misunderstandings & misrepresentations from contrarians, and often in the actual forum where they are made, where they will actually be read by those who need to read them. (As opposed to shouting at a distance from the safety of some other blog).

    I realise that you (and possibly ATTP) think I’ve somehow been duped by David Rose into sticking up for him, but I think you’ve missed the point. The reason I highlighted his MoS article as an ‘own goal’ by green bloggers was not to defend him, but to point out that aggressive commentary & accusations of ‘denier’ etc just reflect badly on the side that’s making them (and, by common association, climate scientists, even if we’re not actually signed up to any particular agenda).

    Also, and more importantly, the hostile nature of the discussion is hugely distracting from the real work (i.e.: doing the science) and off-putting to many of those who really should be joining the discussion – i.e.: working climate scientists.

    Most people who engage in the online climate discourse do so because it’s either a bit of a hobby or because it’s their job as a journalist. The rough-and-tumble is all just a bit of knockabout fun, and you can forget about it whenever you want. However, when the hostility and suspicion lead to scientists’ time and taxpayers’ money being wasted on dealing with things like FOI requests and other stuff then it starts to get a bit more real.

    Also I’ve had my fair share of unpleasant incidents, having to get the police involved on one occasion (and they took it seriously enough to track down the offending person) and also having to seek legal advice several times. (Incidentally, at least twice this was because of things coming from the ‘green’ side, so it’s not just contrarians who can cross the line).

    I think that climate scientists who get caught up in all this have every right to ask people to calm down the hostilities. It’s all very well having ‘hug a climate scientist’ day and the Climate Science Legal Defence Fund – both of which I’m supportive of, especially the former 😉 – but I can’t help feeling that there would probably be just a bit less need for both of these things if people just made more of an effort to tone things down rather than ramp them up.

    I’m certainly not saying that all this would go away if everyone stopped calling people ‘deniers’ or whatever. I’m sure there would still be stuff happening. However, I really don’t think it helps to keep fanning the flames.

    Just see the big picture, that’s all I’m asking.

  67. Willard says:

    Every ClimateBall player should use “contrarian”. Otters will learn, either vicariously, or the hard way.

    “Contrarian” just works:

    https://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com

    Style matters.

  68. Everett F Sargent says:

    JH,

    What, you mean the game is over? So is the science settled? Who won?
    Has humanity become so civilized that no one is bullying anyone or calling them names?
    So SoD doing a Judith Curry (up is down than down is up, rinse, repeat, …) isn’t fascinating to you?
    SkS is only for true believers in the religion of climate science pron? Keith Kloor still does not have a Klue?

    You see, it goes something like this …

    There are the hardcore climate science deniers (think Fred Singer or Willard Anthony Watts), nothing will change that basic fact, they will go to their graves (of natural causes) being 110% (these go to 11) in full deniersville. They do not play nice, by any stretch of the imagination.

    Do we stoop down to level of the hardcore climate science deniers? No. But we do call them out for what they are. Deniers.

    If you think the general public really gives a hoot about climate science, then your American football analogy is apt, because they don’t, they all are already watching the next game.

  69. Willard says:

    Oh, and if you think I agree with Keith or even RichardB, see the comment over there:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/collideascape/2015/02/04/climate-communication-undermined-inflammatory-language/

    Keith can’t even get his history correct.

    ***

    More on labeling:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/tagged/aboutlabeling

    I ought to write my Seven Strictures on Labeling one day. Just found my notes back.

    ***

    Just act like [Chill, W. – W]. See if I care.

  70. John Hartz says:

    Everett F. Sargent:

    You have completely missed my point and analogy. The “game” in this case is what’s been posted on the comment threads on SoD. No matter how much praticipants (ESPN analysts) on this thread slice and dice that game, it will change nothing.

    My personal goal is to help in whatever way I can to move the dial of public opinion on the need to take meaningful and timely aciton on mitigating climate change.

    My frustration about this thread and others like it is the amount of valuable time and energy that a bunch of very smart people spend discussing the banal. That time and energy could be better spent on more productive acitivites — in my opinion.

  71. Everett F Sargent says:

    RE: fanning the flames

    Truthers
    Birthers
    Partiers (Tea)
    Deniers (climate science)

    So Richard (can we get Richard Tol back, I much prefer his brand of humor), how do you think those ‘movements’ got started, perhaps it is, in large part, due to the Internets.

    Just, you know, sayin’

    [Mod : unnecessarily inflammatory]

  72. Richard B.,

    Also, and more importantly, the hostile nature of the discussion is hugely distracting from the real work (i.e.: doing the science) and off-putting to many of those who really should be joining the discussion – i.e.: working climate scientists.

    This may be true but I fail to see the relevance. There is, in my opinion, absolutely nothing that I, or Dana, or anyone else who isn’t misrepresenting the science can do to reduce this hostility. I would even argue that what I write is not even particularly hostile. Of course, there may be some examples where I could have done better, but that’s not quite the same as being hostile. In fact, one reason I may find this whole discussion somewhat annoying is that my whole intent was to try and remain civil and non-hostile and it had virtually no effect whatsoever on how I was treated.

    Most people who engage in the online climate discourse do so because it’s either a bit of a hobby or because it’s their job as a journalist. The rough-and-tumble is all just a bit of knockabout fun, and you can forget about it whenever you want.

    Yes, it’s all just a barrel of laughs for us non-actual-climate scientists.

    I’ll make the point that I was trying to make in the post again. I see far more people who object to “denier” associating it with the Holocaust, than I see people who use it doing so. I think it’s offensive to use an horrific event to try and score points against those with whom you disagree. I’m really impressed that SoD rowed back from what he said in his post, as I thought that that part of his post was appalling. If anything, what he did is what we need more of; we need more people to consider what their critics say and to change their position if it is warranted.

    I think that Ridley and Rose using extreme examples of verbal attacks to score points against their critics is also appalling. I’m not excusing these attacks, but I think it’s offensive to imply that this somehow reflects on those who have been criticising them. Have Rose or Ridley ever actually engaged with their critics. I’ve never seen them do so.

    We could stop the hostility almost overnight if Rose and Ridley thought more about what they were writing in their articles. We could stop it overnight if Montford and Watts actually thought a little about what they promote on their blogs and what they allow their commenters to say.

    I’ll say something that I used to say more often. If I’ve ever said anything offensive or objectionable, or allowed anyone to do so in the comments, people can point this out and I’ll correct it. However, I’m not going to suddenly be less blunt in my criticism of some just because they don’t like it, especially given that they seem to be quite comfortable doing so themselves when they decide to criticise others.

  73. Joshua says:

    FWIW –

    ==> “There is, in my opinion, absolutely nothing that I, or Dana, or anyone else who isn’t misrepresenting the science can do to reduce this hostility. I would even argue that what I write is not even particularly hostile.”

    Anders, I see a distinction between your approach to this discussions and that of Dana.

    And I think that this:

    ==> “We could stop the hostility almost overnight if Rose and Ridley thought more about what they were writing in their articles. We could stop it overnight if Montford and Watts actually thought a little about what they promote on their blogs and what they allow their commenters to say.”

    Is quite one-sided.

    The hostility in the climate wars is, I think, because folks on both sides are locked into an identity-oriented struggle. The resistance to let got of the label of “denier,” is, IMO, reflective of that struggle, just as are the laughable arguments made my Rose and Ridley and Watts and Montford and Curry, blah,blah, about what is causal for the level of hostility.

  74. Joshua,

    Is quite one-sided.

    I stand by that in the sense that I think it would reduce significantly if Watts and Montford stopped promoting the nonsense that they do on their site and moderated the comments more strongly. However, I’ll grant you that the denier label could go if that would really help. I don’t actually use it particularly often, so I have no issue with not using it myself. Of course, my gut feeling is if that did happen it would be seen as a success by the Watts and Montfords of this world and they would simply move on to trying to control the next bit of the narrative. Of course, I’m more than happy to be proven wrong.

  75. John Hartz says:

    Folks: It’s time to wake-up and smell the roses!

    If everyone who accepts the overwhelming body of scientific evidence about manmade climate change stopped uing the word “denier” tomorrow and started using the word “contrarion” insted, what do you think would happen?

    Here’s what I predict would happen.

    The folk in Deniersville would immediately find some reason why the word “contraion” is insulting to them. Perhaps they would claim it connotes the onset ofr early dimentia. Who knows what they would come up with.

    The folk in Deniersville are waging a propganda war. They will do anything and everything in their power to preserve BAU. There is lttle to be gained in engaging them in a serious discussion of any sort.

  76. Joshua says:

    ==> ” Of course, my gut feeling is if that did happen it would be seen as a success by the Watts and Montfords of this world.”

    Personally, I wouldn’t care. They might think it was a “victory,” but as you say they’d just move on to some other bullshit. In the real world, the use of the word or the lack thereof is, IMO, meaningless. I don’t understand why some “realists” seem to think that them thinking they’ve had a “victory” that is actually meaningless, matters in the real world. Just because they would think they had some kind of victory wouldn’t make it so.

    I don’t think that letting go of the term would make any real difference, but I also think that resistance to letting go of the term is more reflective of tribalism rather than a rational approach to moving the discussion forward.

  77. Everett F Sargent says:

    OK, so I thought that, if only we could come up with one word to ‘label’ or ‘brand’ or ‘stain’ the hardcore climate science D-word, what would that word be, other than the D-word?

    Oops, there I go stereotyping others. We need a marketing campaign.

    Well anyways, it might have to be a totally new word, it would have to go viral and be an internet meme, kind of like the Santorum neologism. Or it could be an anagram of (an) existing (word) words. Problem is, we would need a new buzzword now.

    If not a new word, than an old word, like dissident or refusenik (oops) or insurgent or recusant or heretic or apostate or paynim (oops) or cretin or …

    Problem is, that no matter what you call them, they’re bound to complain.

    So, I’m back to square one, the D-word.

    Unless, of course, you all want to be ‘branded’ an appeaser like Neville Chamberlain.

    It’s like this whole D-word thing is one big cons piracy thing devolving into Godwin’s Law.
    😦

  78. Willard says:

    > What would that word be, other than the D-word?

    Contrarian:

    http://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com

    It just works.

    There might even be a correlation, e.g.:

  79. Everett F Sargent says:

    Caller Steve: Whatever side says ‘oh, well, the debate’s settled, we’re not going to debate anymore’, if I was on the side that I felt like I was armed with live ammo and the other side was armed with blanks, I’d want to debate every chance I got just so I could beat ‘em every single time.

    WHO radio host Jan Michelsen: Yes! And if they’re ducking discussion, that usually means they’re not up for the task, or they don’t want to acknowledge that anybody disagrees with them, and usually the people who are in authority, the people who have won and captured the flag or the funding streams do not want to risk the ‘buffet’, they don’t want to risk the money trails by even allowing people to question whether they’re proceeding on the basis of sound science.

    Willard Anthony Watts: Bill Nye, Michael Mann, Al Gore, Katherine Hayhoe, etc. are the ones armed with blanks and they know it, they flee from debate and they flee from any interview where tough questions might be asked.

    Me: WTFUWT?

  80. Vinny Burgoo says:

    I propose that all of the people who are currently called ‘climate change deniers’, whether or not they deny anthropogenic climate change or are in denial about it, should henceforth be called ‘climate change Americans’, whether or not they are American.

    Not a perfect solution but fewer people would be miscategorized – and of course not even the most dyed-in-the-wool ‘American’ would be able to complain about Holocaust allusions.

  81. Gator says:

    They were deniers before anyone ever called them that; and they will continue to be deniers even if everyone decided not to call them that anymore. When they stop personally attacking scientists they can start complaining about terms.

  82. ligne says:

    Everett: and Then There’s Duane Gish. i can only echo your “WTFUWT?”, with some “what is this i can’t even” for good measure.

  83. Everett F Sargent says:

    Willard,

    I’ve been called the D-word so many times, that I’ve truly lost count long ago.

    So, there is a certain orthodoxy in warmunist thinking.

    Kind of like water off a duck’s back.

    I actually like being called the D-word. Doing the conformist thing is not my style. 🙂

  84. Steven Mosher says:

    “So, I’m back to square one, the D-word.”

    Yup me too. I called them doubters from day one

  85. JCH says:

    Does anybody know when the first claim that “denier” was an intentional reference to Holocaust denial first appeared in the climate debate?

  86. Brandon Gates says:

    John Hartz,

    The folk in Deniersville would immediately find some reason why the word “contraion” is insulting to them.

    Anecdotal evidence suggests you are correct. I use “contrarian” exclusively at WUWT in lieu of their preferred “skeptic” and for a time dbstealey took exception to it. Observations elsewhere on this thread that the barrel of red herring is bottomless and overflowing are on the money. It doesn’t matter what tone we use, what labels we use, how much butt we kiss or kick — they’re going to find a way to doubt, dodge, distract and deride. They’re holding an all but empty bag which they erroneously think is chock-full of great stuff. What else would we expect?

  87. Willard says:

    > I’ve been called the D-word so many times, that I’ve truly lost count long ago.

    I feel ya, Everett. The always nuanced Greg Laden recently added me to his Twitter list of deniers since I dared ask him to own his schtick regarding the Soon petition:

    http://gregladen.com/blog/2015/01/willie-soon-fire-him-soon/

  88. Willard says:

    > they’re going to find a way to doubt, dodge, distract and deride.

    Then we might as well call them [insert your favorite redacted word].

    Judy’s Denizens have yet to find something against “contrarian” after a few years now.

    “Denizens” ain’t bad either.

  89. Everett F Sargent says:

    Willard,

    Yes, I saw that one, GL can really appear to be clueless at times. Been there, done that.

  90. John Hartz says:

    Meanwhile, back in the real world…

    Global warming slowdown: No systematic errors in climate models, Phys.org,, Feb 2, 2015

  91. dhogaza says:

    Stephen “Piltdown Mann” Moshpit:

    “Yup me too. I called them doubters from day one”

    They are, of course, no different than Holocaust Doubters.

    See how easy this game is?

  92. John Hartz says:

    Much to the chagrin of the folk in Deniersville, science is not static…

    Study unravels mystery of Antarctic sea ice by Jamie Morton, New Zealand Herald, Feb 4, 2015

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