José Duarte on Cook
Posted by Jeff Id on August 30, 2014
José Duarte has a post up that Carrick called my attention to at the Blackboard. The article is basically a chastisement of the false externally motivated science in the context of Cook’s recent publication on the 97% consensus. I call it externally motivated as a way to describe the numerous papers across so many fields of science that have pre-ordained conclusions designed into their methodology, such that they support the authors undisclosed personal interests in some manner. Climate science is the current poster child for today’s particularly grotesque post-modern form of motivated science, it is hardly unique in either this century or by field. We have seen much of the same in medicine, drug testing, economics, political science and psychology across history. It is a sad fact that publications across many fields are rife with the nonsense.
The following quote is probably a little unfair to Jose’s article because his content is well considered, and this paragraph is a bit off from the central point, but since the Lewandowsky incident I’ve come to believe this same thing about certain people.
I honestly think at least part of the issue here is intelligence and knowledge. It think this is a pervasive issue in the climate debate, but is rarely called out, and it’s easy for it to be lazy ad hominem. Intelligence can be a real, functional constraint. For example, I think some climate science skeptics simply aren’t smart enough — they’re not smart enough to understand climate science or its methods. They’ll never understand what these “computer models” are doing, or why calling something a computer model doesn’t invalidate it. I think if the Higgs boson had political implications of the sort that AGW is presumed to have, some of those same people would express similar arguments against the existence of the Higgs or the validity of its detection, saying that it’s all “computer models”, or that we can’t really “see” it. In such a case, I think it would come down to them not being smart enough to understand the methods, or the nature of that particular reality. Reality isn’t structured such that any scientific field will be understandable to any outsider with an IQ of 100 or better — it would be arbitrary to assume that it was. The people who conducted the Cook study don’t understand rudimentary epistemology, or what counts as evidence of anthropogenic climate change. Cook’s e-mailed response to my call for retraction also struck me as that of someone who just isn’t equipped to deal with these sorts of issues. Nuccitelli’s comments in the forum about the white males study is more evidence that these people aren’t equipped for this.
In an only peripherally related incident, I was truly shocked when Eric Eich, the then editor of Psychological Science, told me the following in reference to one of Lewandowsky’s published misrepresentations of my opinion:
Dr. Lewandowsky has agreed to remove your citation not because it was misleading–he does not believe it was–but because I think it is best replaced by a source other than a blog post.
So in order to protect a clear political piece disguised as science, Lewandowsky took the position that my opinion was not what I thought it was (silly me), in fact my opinion was what THEY thought it was and therefore the otherwise fraudulent accusations were accurate. BUT!!! the problem was that I had represented my position on a blog. For his purpose in this single specific case, scholarly articles on psychology could only use data from non-blog sources. Talking, interviews, tape, newspaper, journals, songs, musings, etc… etc.. and so on ….. as long as it isn’t blogs.
Teasing aside, the political or personal pressures that Lewandowsky and Eric Eich felt must have exceeded the restrictions of publishing rationally defensible statements. This does not prove a lack of intelligence, as inaccurate thoughts are often motivated by unspoken factors. Lewandowsky, on the other hand, seemed unable (also perhaps unwilling, I’m not a mind reader) to grasp that my position on temperature data was based on reason, and is basically mainstream in the climate science field. Although I did write it in my normal excitable fashion, rational readers had no trouble working out the truth. It has been since that time that my general opinion of his scientific ability has formed, and it is separate from any personal feelings based on his actions. I have read several of Lewandowsky’s papers on other topics as well and I truly believe Lewandowsky is incapable of understanding the nuances of a more serious science than he pretends to practice.
He is far from alone as I also believe Phil Jones suffers from the same numeric limitations. It’s not his fault, it is just what I believe from his work and what I have read from the CG emails, particularly on curve fits.
From the evidence, Nuccitelli is a good candidate for the low-grok club but I’m even less familiar with any other work he may have done. There certainly is a lot of illogical nonsense in his writing which is a poor sign for him. The Cook paper being eviscerated in the link above by Jose can stand alone though as it is such a horribly incompetent example of “work” that it isn’t hard to imagine the Cook et cetera team had any skill, background (or moderate weekend training) in the methodology they employed. It’s unfortunate really, because I think the general conclusion that there is a belief of anthropogenic climate change amongst climate scientists, is hardly controversial. Were the paper correctly done, they would have likely discovered a different and somewhat lower number that would hold the same sort of political weight. In other words, the flawed methodology was unnecessarily biased for the political messaging purposes they conceived. Basically Low-grok all around.
Unfortunately, and it is unfortunate, these thoughts I hold lead to an easy dismissal anything these people come up with. I find myself laughing at their work when I run across it rather than taking it seriously. It’s also unfortunate, because the press is non-believably poor at differentiating the relentless advocacy papers from actual science, and has an even worse time differentiating blatantly flawed science such as Mann’s proxy-sorting algorithms. The public has no chance to understand reality with that sort of motivated filter between them and the articles being published. Dismissive thinking is a trap nobody should fall into, but the battle against it is hard to win when the subject of the dismissal is such a willing volunteer as Cook.
Anyway, Jose’s article is much better written and conceived than these musings and is worth the time. His article gives me hope that some form of self-reflection of motivated authors can be brought about which would limit some of the nonsensical political papers disguised as “science”. Just a little hope though as the laws of incentivization will likely always pressure some people to report scientific truths outside of the boundaries of the rationally observed universe.