Five minutes after I posted the previous article about global warming alarmists losing debates and resorting to insults, an article by professor of psychology Stephan Lewandowksy appeared on the ABC’s Drum website.
It starts off well enough:
Science is self-correcting.
In the long run, occasional errors that slip into the peer-reviewed literature are ironed out.
Errors and mistaken assumptions cannot persist because publication of a peer-reviewed paper is only a first stage of peer review: The subsequent, even more rigorous stage of peer-review occurs after a paper’s publication and involves the scrutiny of scientific work by the entire field.
All good. Scientific papers are subject to peer review before they are published, and their publication leads to further research, discussion, and possibly refutation. This is how knowledge grows, through a kind of Hegelian dialectic. Which is just a fancy way of saying a discussion in which various points of view come to the fore, are discussed, modified, and then replaced with ideas that build on those that came before.
Sadly, Lewandowksky’s article then immediately lapses into the kind of name calling that characterises alarmist debate.
The pretext for his article is the resignation of Wolfgang Wagner as editor of the journal Remote Sensing. Wagner’s resignation followed the publication, after peer review, of a paper by Roy Spencer and Danny Braswell.
Wagner describs his reasons for leaving:
…In other words, the problem I see with the paper by Spencer and Braswell is not that it declared a minority view (which was later unfortunately much exaggerated by the public media) but that it essentially ignored the scientific arguments of its opponents. This latter point was missed in the review process, explaining why I perceive this paper to be fundamentally flawed and therefore wrongly accepted by the journal.
OK. But if the concern is that the arguments are poorly made, or have already been rebutted, or are just plain wrong, why not simply call for responses? In other words, why not address the preceived errors?
But the paper WAS precisely addressing the scientific arguments made by our opponents, and showing why they are wrong! That was the paper’s starting point! We dealt with specifics, numbers, calculations…while our critics only use generalities and talking points. There is no contest, as far as I can see, in this debate. If you have some physics or radiative transfer background, read the evidence we present, the paper we were responding to, and decide for yourself.
If some scientists would like do demonstrate in their own peer-reviewed paper where *anything* we wrote was incorrect, they should submit a paper for publication. Instead, it appears the IPCC gatekeepers have once again put pressure on a journal for daring to publish anything that might hurt the IPCC’s politically immovable position that climate change is almost entirely human-caused. I can see no other explanation for an editor resigning in such a situation.
But that is not good enough for Professor Lewandowsky. The scientists who wrote this heresy, and anyone who thinks like them, must be discredited. Instead of addressing any issues of fact or methodology in the Spencer/Braswell article, he simply resorts to the customary alarmist insults:
Although most so-called climate “sceptics” prudently avoid peer review – preferring the internet as an outlet for their pseudo-science – very occasionally a “sceptic” paper does appear in a peer-reviewed journal.
In a dramatic turn away from what has been the normal method of scientific advance, those who question the currently popular view are not to be considered scientists. They are not even sceptics. They are pseudo-scientists, who are cunning enough to avoid exposing their views to review by other scientists.
Wrong. For example, the CO2 Science website has a report in which the most common alarmist claims are countered with references to over 600 peer reviewed articles, all of which question some aspect of the anthropogenic global warming schema. The 2009 NIPCC Report is even more comprehensive, quoting thousands of peer reviewed articles and concluding that there is no credible evidence of dangerous human influence on global climate.
This is despite the best efforts of people like Phil Jones to ensure strict controls are put in place to stop sceptical papers appearing:
From Phil Jones To: Michael Mann (Pennsylvania State University). July 8, 2004
“I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”
The next step in Lewandowsky’s oh so prediuctable diatribe is to imply that sceptical scientists are corrupt, making the claims they do because they have been lured into pseudo-science by bribes from oil companies. Some scientists’ research has been funded in part by oil companies. Most acknowledge this openly. So what?
As Jo Nova has pointed out, government funding for climate alarmist research is approximately 1000 times oil company and other private funding. On that basis, there should be 1,000 times more questioning about possible alarmist bias for financial gain or job security than for sceptical science.
Lewandowsky finishes with this extraordinarily insulting dismissal of climate researchers who do not share his views:
Ideology, subterfuge, and propaganda. That is all there is to climate denial.
Tell that to leading and internationally recognised scientists like Roy Spencer, Timothy Ball, John Christy, Freeman Dyson, our own Ian Plimer and Bob Carter, and thousands of others.
In the end, what matters is evidence. The key question is ‘Is there any evidence of correlation between human activity and changes in global climate.’
The answer is ‘No.’
Perhaps a more interesting question for a professor of psychology would be why the ‘experts’ (ordinary people seem a bit more resilient despite the best efforts of the legacy media), fall so readily for each successive costly and eventually falsified scare campaign (Y2K, SARS, DDT, the population bomb, etc, etc), and why those same experts so quickly demonise any dissent.
PS. The reason the alarmists are desperate to discredit Roy Spencer is that he is so widely recognised as a leading climate scientist:
Roy W. Spencer received his Ph.D. in meteorology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1981. Before becoming a Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 2001, he was a Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where he and Dr. John Christy received NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for their global temperature monitoring work with satellites. Dr. Spencer’s work with NASA continues as the U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite. He has provided congressional testimony several times on the subject of global warming.
Dr. Spencer’s research has been entirely supported by U.S. government agencies: NASA, NOAA, and DOE. He has never been asked by any oil company to perform any kind of service. Not even Exxon-Mobil.
That is the bio from Dr Spencer’s website. His blog has a useful summary of the issues addressed in the Remore Sensing paper.