Culture of Certainty
Posted by Jeff Id on March 8, 2010
I’ve spent several hours today looking at gridded temperature but didn’t finish again. It was only at a quarter to eleven tonight that something struck me which seemed to need to be said. All my favorite blogs are overrun by new readers ready to slaughter any climate scientists AGW conclusions at the blink of an eye. As a result of the new traffic, many people have explained here about what tAV and other blogs should or should not do, should or should not say, how to approach the problem of having an incomplete science and foolish policy forced down our throats. The problem is that I’ve known these bloggers for some time now and there isn’t a single one who is not used to being in control of their own decisions and direction. I’m owner of my own company as is Anthony Watts. Just try to get Steve McIntyre to write or do something he’s not directly interested in and guess what, Lucia, Pielke’s and the rest aren’t likely any different.
When people write, ‘hey Jeff this is what you should do’, I think — get a free blog and start writing. Start working the math and data, give some hours. It’s not easy to build a blog readership. Try doing a single post on sea ice and you’ll find out that it’s ten times harder to write a post than you think – people don’t get that. There weren’t many classes on climate in engineering school. In climatology, there are always data quality problems, calibration issues and instrument quirks over a 30 year period. For laypeople, it’s amazing how bad humanity is at keeping a measurement consistent over even a ten year period. Instruments are not typically able to last that long. The problem is far more critical when your audience consists of a couple thousand people who have as much or more technical background than yourself.
Technical blogging is challenging because of a hell of a lot of difficult decisions also. First, there is no way I can know everything about climate science so when someone writes on a new topic and asks me to post, I need to read carefully, take a risk or say sorry. There have been tens of posts offered to me which I cannot carry, simply because they are incomplete,beyond my experience or too amateur. Amateur is more common. Probably five people have written posts recently which do nothing but ask one question after another, answering none. At least they have learned that it’s hard to write anything about climate from a position of knowledge.
The part that struck me tonight though, was the intent by some to try and maximize effect of a skeptic blog by presenting an issue a certain way. Perhaps, we should ___ . What if we did ____. In my opinion, that is equally as bad as the advocate, leftist, high priests of climate science. They are leftists too, despite the fact that so many have told me to stop writing it. It’s policy, wrapped in advocacy, poorly disguised as science all done for increased money and power. Who is using whom, politicians or scientists, is a difficult question. The point is though, that a coordinated direction is absolutely not required to write about science and despite peoples opinions IS highly destructive to whatever cause might exist.
It’s not that far off topic to mention that I met a gorgeous and very young future eco-hydrologist this weekend in Reno after the trade show. She was so far gone you wouldn’t believe it. No idea who was going to pay her, no idea that people would suffer first from limiting usage of water, just that her eco whatever was going to help the planet, the rock, the wild gerbils, plants, beasts and several other non-self-aware items. This lack of understanding was implemented by our govt. mandated ever worse school system. Poor thinking skills absolutely pervade the minds of the next generation. You should believe me that even if by some act of magic the failure of public schooling’s effects are limited, we will still pay dearly for it. Her generation has no idea what science is comprised of. Critical thinking requires the ability to consistently force your own wishes to the background.
The problem I see though with the view that we bloggers should _____ , which is probably the single thing here that all you skeptics probably can agree with, is that you can’t tell a skeptic, independent thinker what to believe! You can suggest alternative views of course, but there is simply no method to push a guy like myself to approach the problem in a unified front with someone else. Scientists are normally the same way. They know what they do from experimentation and results. After that it’s very difficult to change their direction, and rightfully so. Scientists ARE normally the same way, experiment and result — take a moment to think about that in comparison to hide the decline.
So where does the climate science community’s stated need to ‘attack the credibility of bloggers’ come from? Where does the need to label and defeat skeptics come from? Why declare consensus? How is it that an Aeronautical Engineer with ability to plot data is so immoral and too evil to even post comments at Real Climate?? Why do so many professional scientists and PhD’s hang around a blog like this if so much disinformation is spread here?
It’s simple to me, it’s because this blog and several other skeptic blogs will not intentionally present bad information. There is not a single post here which hasn’t suffered the scrutiny of many. Claims have been repeatedly recanted and corrections made but in the end, understanding is the result. How is it that Real Climate, Tamino, Climate Progress and many others never make any mistakes? The question, is of course, self answering.
These are the biggest problems with climate science.
So when you find yourself wishing that a skeptic blog, or groups of blogs, had a unified opinion on some topic — I hope you’ll reconsider. Like government spending to create jobs, this is the opposite of what is required. It’s the independence of thought, requirement of evidence and willingness to admit error which makes blog science so powerful. My view is that any large scale consensus is an unnatural state forced by an outside pressure. Like the advocates, we must be always vigilant against the wish for a scientific result and realize that it’s not ever redundant to acknowledge that physics determines the results of global warming, not wish or belief.
When GHCN data shows a huge upslope, I have a choice to make — hide the decline (so to speak) or post the result. tAV posts the result, climate science still hides the decline — more often than any main stream media has figured out.