A post in Judith Curry’s Climate etc pushed me to read a long essay from the City Journal Magazine by John Tierney. I hadn’t heard of either of them. The magazine is published by a right-wing think tank in New York, and focuses mostly on urban issues. John Tierney, according to Wikipedia, is a ‘contrarian’, which I see as a dismissive term. Forewarned, I went off to read the piece, and I think it is insightful. But then, I would probably be called a ‘contrarian’ too, by those who don’t like what I write, and believe they have the truth in them and should prevail. What I have done is to provide you with a few long extracts. There is a lot more, and some of it is American material that would be of less interest to Australian readers. I normally put other people’s writing in italics, but there is a lot of Tierney’s text, and italic is not the easiest font to read.

‘My liberal friends sometimes ask me why I don’t devote more of my science journalism to the sins of the Right. It’s fine to expose pseudoscience on the left, they say, but why aren’t you an equal-opportunity debunker? Why not write about conservatives’ threat to science? My friends don’t like my answer: because there isn’t much to write about. Conservatives just don’t have that much impact on science. I know that sounds strange to Democrats who decry Republican creationists and call themselves the “party of science.” But I’ve done my homework. I’ve read the Left’s indictments, including Chris Mooney’s bestseller, The Republican War on Science. I finished it with the same question about this war that I had at the outset: Where are the casualties? Where are the scientists who lost their jobs or their funding? What vital research has been corrupted or suppressed? What scientific debate has been silenced?

Yes, the book reveals that Republican creationists exist, but they don’t affect the biologists or anthropologists studying evolution. Yes, George W. Bush refused federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, but that hardly put a stop to it (and not much changed after Barack Obama reversed the policy). Mooney rails at scientists and politicians who oppose government policies favored by progressives like himself, but if you’re looking for serious damage to the enterprise of science, he offers only three examples. All three are in his first chapter, during Mooney’s brief acknowledgment that leftists “here and there” have been guilty of “science abuse.” First, there’s the Left’s opposition to genetically modified foods, which stifled research into what could have been a second Green Revolution to feed Africa. Second, there’s the campaign by animal-rights activists against medical researchers, whose work has already been hampered and would be devastated if the activists succeeded in banning animal experimentation. Third, there’s the resistance in academia to studying the genetic underpinnings of human behavior, which has cut off many social scientists from the recent revolutions in genetics and neuroscience. Each of these abuses is far more significant than anything done by conservatives, and there are plenty of others.

The only successful war on science is the one waged by the Left. The danger from the Left does not arise from stupidity or dishonesty; those failings are bipartisan. Some surveys show that Republicans, particularly libertarians, are more scientifically literate than Democrats, but there’s plenty of ignorance all around. Both sides cherry-pick research and misrepresent evidence to support their agendas. Whoever’s in power, the White House plays politics in appointing advisory commissions and editing the executive summaries of their reports. Scientists of all ideologies exaggerate the importance of their own research and seek results that will bring them more attention and funding.

But two huge threats to science are peculiar to the Left—and they’re getting worse. The first threat is confirmation bias, the well-documented tendency of people to seek out and accept information that confirms their beliefs and prejudices. In a classic study of peer review, 75 psychologists were asked to referee a paper about the mental health of left-wing student activists. Some referees saw a version of the paper showing that the student activists’ mental health was above normal; others saw different data, showing it to be below normal. Sure enough, the more liberal referees were more likely to recommend publishing the paper favorable to the left-wing activists. When the conclusion went the other way, they quickly found problems with its methodology. Scientists try to avoid confirmation bias by exposing their work to peer review by critics with different views, but it’s increasingly difficult for liberals to find such critics.

Academics have traditionally leaned left politically, and many fields have essentially become monocultures, especially in the social sciences, where Democrats now outnumber Republicans by at least 8 to 1. (In sociology, where the ratio is 44 to 1, a student is much likelier to be taught by a Marxist than by a Republican.) The lopsided ratio has led to another well-documented phenomenon: people’s beliefs become more extreme when they’re surrounded by like-minded colleagues. They come to assume that their opinions are not only the norm but also the truth. Groupthink has become so routine that many scientists aren’t even aware of it. Social psychologists, who have extensively studied conscious and unconscious biases against out-groups, are quick to blame these biases for the underrepresentation of women or minorities in the business world and other institutions. But they’ve been mostly oblivious to their own diversity problem, which is vastly larger. Democrats outnumber Republicans at least 12 to 1 (perhaps 40 to 1) in social psychology, creating what Jonathan Haidt calls a “tribal-moral community” with its own “sacred values” about what’s worth studying and what’s taboo…’

‘Conservatives have been variously pathologized as unethical, antisocial, and irrational simply because they don’t share beliefs that seem self-evident to liberals. For instance, one study explored ethical decision making by asking people whether they would formally support a female colleague’s complaint of sexual harassment. There was no way to know if the complaint was justified, but anyone who didn’t automatically side with the woman was put in the unethical category. Another study asked people whether they believed that “in the long run, hard work usually brings a better life” — and then classified a yes answer as a “rationalization of inequality.” Another study asked people if they agreed that “the Earth has plenty of natural resources if we just learn how to develop them” — a view held by many experts in resource economics, but the psychologists pathologized it as a “denial of environmental realities…”’

‘And that brings us to the second great threat from the Left: its long tradition of mixing science and politics. To conservatives, the fundamental problem with the Left is what Friedrich Hayek called the fatal conceit: the delusion that experts are wise enough to redesign society. Conservatives distrust central planners, preferring to rely on traditional institutions that protect individuals’ “natural rights” against the power of the state. Leftists have much more confidence in experts and the state. Engels argued for “scientific socialism,” a redesign of society supposedly based on the scientific method. Communist intellectuals planned to mold the New Soviet Man. Progressives yearned for a society guided by impartial agencies unconstrained by old-fashioned politics and religion. Herbert Croly, founder of the New Republic and a leading light of progressivism, predicted that a “better future would derive from the beneficent activities of expert social engineers who would bring to the service of social ideals all the technical resources which research could discover.” This was all very flattering to scientists, one reason that so many of them leaned left. The Right cited scientific work when useful, but it didn’t enlist science to remake society—it still preferred guidance from traditional moralists and clerics. The Left saw scientists as the new high priests, offering them prestige, money, and power. The power too often corrupted. Over and over, scientists yielded to the temptation to exaggerate their expertise and moral authority, sometimes for horrendous purposes…’

I find it easy to see Australian parallels in this essay, but I will leave it to readers to draw their own. And let me commend Judith Curry’s own dissection of the Tierney essay and, as always, the Comments that follow on her website, 595 of them at last count. My own reaction has a twist. I don’t think that there is a ‘war on science’, at least in Australia. What I see is the misappropriation of science by activists of all kinds, for their own purposes, which has pushed aside the normal path of scientific research: think of a theory, test it experimentally or through field work, and accept the outcome. If the theory failed the test, then it is not good. Start again. We now have ‘model runs’ masquerading as experiments, and research offered to support previously defined policy. Too many scientists, it seems to me, shrug when they see bad science. Maybe they always did. But there seems a an awful lot of it about today.


Join the discussion 145 Comments

  • Art says:

    Many yeas ago I read that the difference between a prostitute and a scientist is that the former at least tries to give some pleasure for the money. Others have said that scientists will find whatever it is that they are funded to find. Amusing and glib except that funding and career difficulties are such that it is a brave scientist who dares to go against the run of play. This is amplified by the use of automated metrics of scientific worth related to publishing and invitations which necessitate large groups who will reference one another.

    The sins of the left have become all too apparent in the last few years but the sins of the right are the more deadly; to wit, the fabled military industrial complex and the increasing sophistication and destructive capability of weapons research. A colleague of mine back at TRW Systems in the late 60’s was working on anti-missile shields where one of the units of measure was mega-deaths. There were many frightening possibilities that were researched in those days and that trend hasn’t slowed. The connection to Don’s essay is the complete willingness of very bright scientists with no compunctions as to the potential effects of the projects upon which they worked. Better yet, publishing was strongly discouraged so performance metrics were more realistic. The military have huge budgets and he who pays the piper calls the tune.

    I wonder if the extraordinary bias to the left today has its roots in the defense research of the past.

  • Nga says:

    From a Pew survey of US adults in 2014:

    “Furthermore, there are no differences between the major party and ideology groups on views about the use of animals in research, the safety of eating genetically modified foods …”


    Don also fails to mention that the GOP President-elect is one of a number of prominent Republicans who is spreading scare stories about vaccines, including the nonsense claim that vaccines are causing autism.

  • Boxer says:

    Apparently over 41% of Democrats in the US are young earth creationists, compared to 58% of Republicans. I don’t see how either side could claim the right to call themselves “the party of science”.
    The Democrat Creationists are perhaps more circumspect in admitting that they believe humans popped into existence 6,231 years ago on August 15th at 1423 hours, so perhaps there is some under reporting from that side of the fence.
    The widely observed concentration of left-of-centre people in academia must promote or foster the impression that progressive liberals are more scientifically literate. But with all the errors in measuring social attitudes (“a survey of college students has found…”; “a telephone survey (of people who still have a land line phone, and bother to answer it) …) it is difficult to take measures of social issues too seriously, except for the very blunt instrument of the ballot box.
    One of my little indices of scientific literacy is adherence to naturopathy and homoeopathy. Seems reasonably clear to me which part of the political spectrum most adherents belong to.

  • Nga says:

    The latest Pew Survey on US scientists’s ideological leanings is from 2009. The results:

    Conservative 9%
    Moderate 35%
    Liberal 52%

    Even industry scientists are more likely to be affiliated with the Democrats (47%) to Republican (10%). The huge affiliation gap is true for all branches of science, which Pew classifies as biological and medical; chemistry; geosciences; and physics and astronomy


    Tierney’s essay is poorly researched and full of factual errors, but it will make the anti-science conservatives and denialists feel better about themselves and thus fulfill its purpose.

    • Art says:

      I don’t believe in the accuracy of this poll for a number of reasons. How were the respondents selected? Were they simply asked to fill out forms and mail them; contacted by fixed line telephones, contacted by social media etc? How many could be bothered to reply? Might it not be the case that those who are more politically active have a much greater likelihood of responding which would imply a survey bias to the left? Certainly the means of collecting data would bias the results. In order to be meaningful, one would need to see the breakdown by age and employment sector. One would expect much different numbers in academia response compared to defense research respondents.

      I believe that scientists would tend to back the party most likely to fund their particular sector.

  • JimboR says:

    “We now have ‘model runs’ masquerading as experiments”

    So Don, how would you propose scientists attempt to answer what-if questions on something as complex, slow-moving and unique as the Earth’s climate? Or do you believe scientists shouldn’t be in the what-if business?

    • spangled drongo says:

      “Or do you believe scientists shouldn’t be in the what-if business?”

      The “what-if business” is fine jimbo.

      They should not, however, be betting our houses on their foolish result when 97% of these models are hotly wrong.

      Not that hard to understand, is it?

    • Aert Driessen says:

      Easy JimboR, look at the evidence over long-term time frames. There is NO EVIDENCE that high levels of CO2 (even as high as 7000 ppmv) in the atmosphere have ever driven climate change (aka global warming) or posed a threat to the planet.

    • Boxer says:

      What if questions are good, but models should be used to explore the influence of the numerous factors that influence a natural or economic process. By tweaking assumptions or inputs, you observe the effect this has on the modelled result. This can be very helpful to identify which factors are likely to be significant and most worthy of further analysis. It can greatly assist your understanding of the complex system. But perhaps you are unaware of all the factors and your model seriously compromised as a result.

      The risk inherent in models is that after you build one over a long period of time, you become so emotionally entangled in it, you sincerely believe it is reality. It is easy to see this happening to other modellers, but very difficult to notice it on oneself, even when you think you looking for it. Modelling fits you with blinkers.

      Combine this with unscientific attitudes such as a high regard for consensus, and your model, and those of your like minded colleagues, can lead you in the wrong direction.

      • Mike says:

        Yes you can become attached to what after all is a creative work. You have attempted to build a virtual reality of the planet and if you are lucky you can actually convince people that it is reality. The problem is you can’t go back on that if you have said this is reality and then the planet disagrees by doing something else you are stuck. The only thing left is to pretend there isn’t a divergence and all will be well soon. I prefer to ignore this and concentrate on how effective the countermeasures to fight global warming are. To date the answer is not much at all in fact not measurable.

  • PeterE says:

    Very interesting. Thanks. The search for what is true requires eternal vigilance. Confront and interrogate the bullies of the Left. Don’t let them get away with it and don’t be fooled by their nauseating self-righteousness.

    • Ross says:

      PeterE. Oh please. Don’t be such a self righteous zealot. If the scientific consensus decides, by the end of next year, that their theories were wrong about climate change, then I will accept their that. After all, it’s science, it’s not a religion.

  • Aert Driessen says:

    Thanks Don, a very balanced opinion on an issue of great concern. As a so-called ‘climate skeptic’ I have always been more concerned about the corruption of the Scientific Method (basically, that evidence trumps everything else) than of the useless squandering of trillions of dollars. Many distinguished scientists and philosophers, over many years, have had similar concerns. Here is a summary of their views:

    1. We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish and subvert (J Robert Oppenheimer).

    3. The greatest impediment to finding Truth is believing you already have it.

    4. Global warming is what happens between ice ages.

    5. If you can’t explain the pause, you can’t explain the cause.

    6. The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge (Daniel Boorstin).

    7. Corruptio optimi pessima.

    8. Alarmists see what they believe. Skeptics believe what they see.

    9. The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits (Albert Einstein)

    10. Prediction is very difficult, … especially about the future. (Nils Bohr).

    11. Turbines don’t run on wind, they run on subsidies (Prof Ian Plimer).

    12. The true object of propaganda is neither to convince nor even to persuade, but to produce a uniform pattern of public utterance in which the first trace of unorthodox thought reveals itself as a jarring dissonance (Leonard Schapiro)

    13. It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they are being fooled (Mark Twain).

    14. The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule (H.L. Menchen).

    15. If it’s not economically sustainable, it’s not sustainable (Prof John Christy).

    16. It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it (Upton Sinclair).

    17. Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity (Hanlon).

    18. The Budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome will become bankrupt. People must again learn to work instead of living on public assistance (Cicero, 55 B.C.).

    19. The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement (Karl Popper).

    20. Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect (Mark Twain).

  • margaret says:

    “John Tierney, according to Wikipedia, is a ‘contrarian’, which I see as a dismissive term. Forewarned, I went off to read the piece, and I think it is insightful. But then, I would probably be called a ‘contrarian’ too, by those who don’t like what I write, and believe they have the truth in them and should prevail. ”
    Wasn’t Thomas Paine a contrarian? I think it’s a stance that’s accepted/respected in the American tradition.
    Perhaps contrarians are actually sceptics… just a thought.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      There seem to be two sorts of broad definitions. One is the person who always buys stocks when everyone is avoiding them. There is a phrase abut ‘hogs’ that I cannot summon up. The other is someone who automatically takes the opposite position from the person he or she is talking to, or more broadly — someone opposing or rejecting popular opinion or current practice.

      I wouldn’t classify myself in either category, but as a sceptic about most claims, happy to accept the claim (i) if it is important to me in some way and (ii) if evidence seems to support its validity.

      • margaret says:

        I don’t really understand that reply Don.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          I’m not sure what bit you don’t understand.

          In business, a ‘contrarian’ does not follow the market, as most speculators do, but goes the other way. If I understand the hog cycle properly, when pork prices are high famers invest in pigs, fatten them, and get them ready for market. If enough have done the same thing at the same time all the pork appears at the same moment, which lowers the price, so the farmers get out of pigs and move into wheat or whatever. At this moment the ‘contrarian’ comes in a buys pigs for breeding. Their price will be much lower, and he will be ahead of the market with his pork when prices are high again.

          I don’t see myself as a contrarian in either the economics instance or the social one (always taking the opposite view to whomever it is I am speaking with). Life is too short to live that sort of life! Others might think of me that way, but I don’t.

          And I am not a sceptic about everything,, because life is too short for that as well. That doesn’t mean I agree with whatever the orthodoxy is, but simply that I don’t care very much one way or the other, probably because it doesn’t affect me (for example, whether butter is bad for the heart or not).

          If I’m still mysterious, you’d better set out what the exact problem is. I do try to write accessibly.

          • margaret says:

            Contrarian = devil’s advocate then in your view.
            I would have thought a contrarian has more of an agenda, more than just arguing the opposite for the sake of it. Then again a devil’s advocate can really spark thought on ideological stance.
            As for the business ‘contrarian’ I have never heard of that angle as I don’t follow Alan Kohler’s market reports. I just look for the day when his inflated, self-satisfied demeanor pops a few buttons on his snug fitting suit.

          • Don: See “My Unhappy Life as a Climate Heretic” in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal (Prof. Roger Pielke Jr., University of Colorado, Boulder). Though not as erudite as you, Prof. Pielke makes some interesting points. Cheers – Nicole

      • margaret says:

        So I searched contrarian hogs and found this – it reminds me of how whenever I see Alan Kohler spruik the state of the market I want to see the buttons pop off his expensive suit.


        • margaret says:

          From Psychologies.
          “There’s a spectrum of behaviour, ranging from the person who’s irritated by consensus and bureaucracy, to the type who thinks rules are made to be broken and the counter-intuitive thinker whose intelligence gives them a different perspective on life. ‘The more creative a person is, the more contrarian they are likely to be,’ says Sternberg. ‘There are also, though, contrarians who aren’t creative, they’re just disagreeable. And there are those who get their self-esteem from being contrary.’”

  • margaret says:

    “Conquest and tyranny, at some earlier period, dispossessed man of his rights, and he is now recovering them. And as the tide of all human affairs has its ebb and flow in directions contrary to each other, so also is it in this.”

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      Science, meaning concordance with observable reality, will always defeat ideology.

    • tripitaka says:

      Tom Paine is one of my heroes Margaret, along with the wonderful Spinoza who recognised what is being called motivated cognition way back when he was living his exemplary life of modesty and honesty. I heard a lot about both of these men from my father when I was way too young to fully understand how amazing they were.

      Recently I’ve been reading more about Spinoza who said something like; if you wish to see the truth, then hold no opinions for or against anything; to set up what you like against what you dislike is a disease of the mind. It is not a disease of the mind though and Spinoza’s ability to be rational and objective is extraordinary. Irrationality and prejudice are the natural way the human brain works – because activity in the brain is expensive in terms of energy use – and it is efficient for us to be lazy and look for shortcuts when weighing up our choices.

      Some brains are more likely to enjoy hard work just as some bodies are more likely to enjoy hard work because of the genetic inheritance. But the fact is that for all of us though, unless we take active steps to question our likes and dislikes and understand that our preferences are just that and come about as a result of interactions between all the influences we are subject to in our environment, from the broader culture and the narrower family environment.

      But young brains are particularly plastic and the prejudices and dysfunctional ways of thinking that some develop as very young children are particularly resistant to self-examination and that is why having had a good liberal upbringing in which children learn to question their impulses is so important for ensuring that the next generation do grow up into adults, rather than the becoming the naughty baby men we see here parading their ignorance and lack of decency with such a shameful lack of awareness.

      I think though that there is even more about the rights that ‘man’ has been deprived of than even these men could not have imagined.


      From wiki; “Possibly the most controversial/debated claim in the book is Stones’ interpretation of how peaceful, benevolent matriarchal society and Goddess-reverent traditions (including Ancient Egypt) were attacked, undermined and ultimately destroyed almost completely, by the ancient tribes including Hebrews and later the early Christians. To do this they attempted to destroy any visible symbol of the sacred feminine- including artwork, sculpture, weavings and literature. The reason being that they wanted the Sacred Masculine to become the dominant power, and rule over women and Goddess energies. According to Stone, the Torah or Old Testament was in many ways a male attempt to re-write the story of human society, changing feminine symbolism to masculine.”

      I came across this book recently in an op shop. Some silliness when the author speculates but the research is solid.

  • Neville says:

    Jo Nova has an update on the latest SA outage. Wind power in SA was only producing around 6% of capacity when the Vic link failed again. And across the eastern area of OZ wind was down to 10 to 12% of capacity. A Vic Aluminium smelter shut down for a number of hours as well.
    We have this crazy situation to look forward to in Vic after Hazelwood closes down. And this idiotic Vic Labor govt has just informed us that electricity prices will increase by 10% for domestic supplies and even higher prices for businesses etc. Of course no measurable change to the temp or climate as a result of this S&W fantasy. But a big change to our grid reliability, because stupid pollies don’t understand simple maths and science.

    • Nga says:


      It is more than a little difficult to take you seriously when you let kooks like Andrew Bolt and Jo Nova do your thinking for you.

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        So who do you think should be taken seriously? A person who believes people over 70 shouldn’t be allowed to vote?

        • Nga says:

          Umm, Bryan, all of your posts are insults and/or dementia induced conspiracy theories. Keep up the good work.

        • margaret says:

          When I achieve that venerable age of three score and ten I actually don’t mind being excused from voting, except for the fact that I wouldn’t ever vote conservative so I’m not the problem.

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        I fear your IQ has yet to catch up with your age.

      • spangled drongo says:

        You’re improving, enge luv.

        Two messengers with one shot.

      • Don Aitkin says:


        I thought about snipping your insult. Merriam-Webster define ‘kook’ as ‘one whose ideas or actions are eccentric, fantastic, or insane : screwball’.

        Andrew Bolt mightn’t mind, since he deals with much nastier stuff than ‘kook’. But did you actually read Jo Nova’s post on the recent outage? It is balanced, sensible and based on data.If you think there is something wrong with it, set out what it is and why you think so.

        But simply insulting those with whom you disagree is a sign of a poorly understood education, in my view.

        • Nga says:


          Far worse insults than “kook” are regularly traded on this forum. Jo Nova’s comments on the recent outage are no way “balanced, sensible and based on data”. I’ve spent an hour or two going back through Nova’s posts, which I used to read occasionally, and many of them are eye-poppingly screwy. Leaving aside AGW, which is getting rather boring, have you read Nova’s Austrian gold bug nonsense?

          In 2008 (republished in 2010) she said “Watch out Zimbabwe” after a round of QE in the US: joannenova[DOT]com[DOT]au[BACKSLASH]2010/06/helicopter-ben-at-work/

          In 2013 she was saying “Lucky inflation is under control that’s all I can say” after she had a meltdown about the price of stamps: joannenova[DOT]com[DOT]au[BACKSLASH]2013/11/inflation-anyone-christmas-cards-to-us-and-eu-rise-by-50-in-one-year/

          Hilariously, Nova says “Austrians are the skeptics of economics”, yet they are widely regarded as nutballs and frequently warn of hyperinflation and suggest we stock up on gold. Of course, as you are undoubtedly well aware, Nova is a member of a fringe group called the Gold Nerds that has been trying to whip up gold fever for years.

          It is beyond me how anyone with a functioning brain stem could take Nova seriously about anything.

          • Don Aitkin says:


            You wrote this: ‘Jo Nova’s comments on the recent outage are no way “balanced, sensible and based on data”.’ Now why do you say that?

            She shows the data — where the grid power from renewables was not coming from, and the production throughout the day from all forms of wind. She quotes the Minister saying that the outage was not due to renewable but to a fault in the inter-connector. She suggests that this was disingenuous. When the interconnector failed there was no wind, therefore no power. Had it been a windy day there would have been no problem. She is arguing that the SA system has a fundamental fault. It is hard to fault this.

            And I asked you to set out why you thought otherwise. Beyond simply rejecting what she had done you then slid into something else altogether.

            Then you finished with another wild sledge. As I have said before, Nga, your contributions are empty of sense and no use to any reader.

          • tripitaka says:

            It is astounding the level of insults that Don tolerates from his pets.

            It drags everyone down to their level and requires a level of self-control to not respond in kind that I find difficult. But it is evidence of how important a group in which virtue and self-restraint are valued and encouraged, is for a society to rise above the lowest common denominator and it shows how low individuals can go when there are no restraints on their freedom of speech.

            Possibly Don just doesn’t see how awful some of the old fellas here are or he understands and sympathises with their dysfunction. But for me, the tedious and repetitious displays of nastiness and futile attempts to belittle others, is evidence for how unhappy and unfulfilled they are in their personal lives.

            There is another right wing site where a lot of personal chatter goes on, and that shares commenters with this site. From what I read there it seems that a lot of these old men are not wanted at home all day by their “cheese and kisses” now they are retired and that they don’t have a lot of contact with their children and grandchildren or their neighbours. This place is possibly their only outlet for some enjoyment and it is really sad that they have so little to enjoy after all their years of hard work and aspiring to be somebody.

            On this other site, there is one very wealthy man – so he claims anyway but I take a lot of what they say with scepticism – who has to threaten his descendants with cutting them out of the will if they don’t visit often enough or if they turn into lefties.

            I have tried to read Jo Nova but she is even less rational than Don’s is. Her writing is disorganised and so influenced by her personal peccadilloes that it is unreadable. It is so funny that they worship this bizarre person who being a woman should not according to their sexist view that only men can do the science and higher math be able to critique the male climate scientists.

            Again, this is just more evidence for the extraordinary level of ‘motivated’ cognition that afflicts the poor old fellas who come here for some relief from the vicissitudes of this internet world in which their appallingly unethical and corrupt behaviour is being revealed and reviled all over the world.

          • JimboR says:

            “It is astounding the level of insults that Don tolerates from his pets. ”

            I think this cartoon sums it up nicely:

            This blog is a fun place to visit once in a while to note the lack of progress, but serious contributors invariably move on, and take their wealth of knowledge with them.

          • Nga says:


            “As I have said before, Nga, your contributions are empty of sense and no use to any reader.”

            Don, it is a waste of time talking to you about wind power because you are not prepared to be objective. You clearly have an idée fixe about the undesirability of renewable energy. Only a couple of weeks ago you told me, with a straight face, that it was the official position of the AEMO that the SA blackout was caused by the failure of wind turbines in strong wind. Once I pointed out to you that your claim was false, you said, again with a straight face, that the AEMO doctored the report as part of a pro-wind conspiracy.

            So I ask you, how could it possibly be worth my time spending an hour or two analysing the latest events in SA and giving you my verdict when you wilfully deny the truth and invoke conspiracy theories? That is why I chose a totally different subject to demonstrate the extent to which Nova is unhinged, that being her bizarre adherence to the Austrian cult, her infatuation with gold and failed prophesies about hyperinflation.

          • spangled drongo says:

            So, enge, you make a “kook” judgement about Jo because she is sceptical of the endless, unsubstantiated QE that is going on in the world and thinks that some back-up value behind govts might not be a bad thing?

            It’s interesting that yours is also the philosophy of all the public trough feeders who have never saved, paid income tax or think they have anything to lose from mindless govt largesse and failure to balance the budget.

            Logical people like Jo think that if it is good enough for the average family to embrace fiscal responsibility then the same should apply to politicians and govts.

            That is the only system that has stood the test of time and if govts suddenly start turning off the taps as they have always done historically, we will all be wishing Jo’s and similar responsible ideas had been adopted sooner.

          • spangled drongo says:

            But then when you are in blind denial of the real problems in the SA grid it is quite understandable how you could be similarly confused about logic, Jo and all rational people.

  • tripitaka says:

    The “white male effect,” according to Dan Kahan, professor at Yale University writes, refers to the tendency of white males to be less concerned with a large variety of societal risks than are women and minorities and he says “It is one of the classic findings from the study of public risk perceptions.”

    His research of this phenomenon has revealed, however, that the “white male effect” is really a “white hierarchical and individualist male effect” and that it is a sub-group of white males who are more likely to become deniers. There is more at this blog.


    Kahan doesn’t mention age but I’d suspect that the decline of cognitive capacity that clearly has an effect on older people as brain plasticity decreases would be relevant and this decline would be steeper among the hierarchical and individualist men who would increasingly lack the ability to be flexible and self-reflective. You can teach an old dog new tricks but it is more difficult.

    Dan Kahan has done a lot of science on the way that people think. His explanation for the way all of us are able to be biased and irrational is called “motivated cognition” or “motivated reasoning” and it refers to the unconscious tendency we humans have to fit the processing of information to conclusions that suit some end or goal.

    “Motivated cognition is best understood as a description or characterization of a process and not an explanation in and of itself. For a genuine explanation, we need to know, at a minimum, what the need or goal was that did the motivating (or directing) of the agent’s mental processing and the precise cognitive mechanism or mechanisms through which it operated to generate the goal-supporting perceptions or beliefs.

    “Examples of the goals or needs that can motivate cognition are diverse. They include fairly straightforward things, like a person’s financial or related interests. But they reach more intangible stakes, too, such as the need to sustain a positive self-image or protect connections to others with whom someone is intimately connected and on whom someone might well depend for support, emotional or material.

    “The mechanisms are also diverse. They include dynamics such as biased information search, which involves seeking out (or disproportionally attending to evidence that is congruent rather than incongruent with the motivating goal; biased assimilation, which refers to the tendency to credit and discredit evidence selectively in patterns that promote rather than frustrate the goal; and identity-protective cognition, which reflects the tendency of people to react dismissively to information when accepting it would cause them to experience dissonance or anxiety. ”


    • Don Aitkin says:


      Dan Kahan has a piece on climate change and cognition too. You might find useful an essay on it by Kip Hansen on Climate etc:


      • tripitaka says:

        I read it and as far as I can see Don, it is just quibbling around the edges. Dan Kahan is always concerned to be fair and balanced. He goes to extraordinary lengths to question his own biases, as do all of us who do want to be a positive part of the human race and contribute what we can.

        I am not claiming that all left wing people are more intelligent or always correct if there is such a thing anyway, the evidence I have is that it is the personality variables that are diagnosable as personality disorders that lead them to want to be what you call contrarian and so objectionable and downright stupid and nasty as we see so clearly from the old men who come here to vent their spleen and reveal these less than admirable aspects of the right wing way of thinking.

        I think one of the most striking differences between right and left is that right wing people do not care about making the world a better place for the next generation. It is all about them and what they want. The bit that the Kahan points out that I find significant and true is that deniers are those who are risk takers and willing to take chances with the future of the planet and our species for their own selfish benefit.

        • spangled drongo says:

          “personality disorders that lead them to want to be what you call contrarian and so objectionable and downright stupid and nasty as we see so clearly from the old men who come here to vent their spleen and reveal these less than admirable aspects of the right wing way of thinking.”

          The hypocritical irony is delicious.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Is that “war on science” trip luv, or just your personal “war on CWMs”?

    You don’t think that lefty fems like you and enge could possibly have a few serious denial problems yourselves, hey?

    Or is it only that you are suffering from cultural amnesia?

    • tripitaka says:

      Hi spangled drongo 🙂

      There is no war on science. Just more whining from the right wing snowflakes who can’t handle the heat in the science world that now includes women and minorities.

      This love of war and conceptualising current events as wars is another thing that makes old hierarchical individualist white men different from almost everyone else on this planet and such a problem for the survival of the human species.

      And then there is the right wing belief in the myth of a great white man who can solve all the problems and makes all the scientific discoveries by himself. lol that’s such a joke.

      Right wing people believe that hierarchies are meritocracies rather than the result of nepotism and self-serving value judgements that reinforce a status quo in which the idea of the great white men as the high point of evolution is accepted.

      All these dysfunctional for the rest of us beliefs are maintained through the process described above of motivated reasoning. I suspect that a big part of your motivation is resentment and envy of people who you imagine have had easier lives than you have had because of that siddown money.

      • spangled drongo says:

        Did you ever indulge in siddown money by any chance, trip luv?

        Do you think it may have affected and jaundiced your philosophy?

        Darling trip breaks into more rants about CWMs.

        Yet this real war on science has much to do with the subject trip managed to neatly avoid.

        But isn’t it interesting, that when we get to an area where the free market, actual economic performance and cost/benefits don’t count, you get a conservative-free zone and Marxism/Feminism takes over:

        Composition of the ABC’s workforce (Headcount) by job classification and gender* Women Men Total (Number)
        Administrative/Professional 70.3% 29.7% 824
        Content Maker 49% 51.0% 3,589
        Retail 80.8% 19.2% 291
        Senior Executive 45.1% 54.9% 348
        Technologist 14.3% 85.7% 392
        Grand total 51.2% 48.8% 5,444

        * Total head count, including employees located overseas, by classification as at end of the pay period (30 June 2014)

        But, horreurs, note that the only place where the real ability is required [tech] is still over repped by males.

        You better chase them up on that one, trip.

  • Neville says:

    China is set for a boom in the use of Coal. Only fools like Obama, Shorten, Flannery, Clinton etc would be surprised. And India is set to expand coal use by at least 200% by 2030. Of course Aussies will be supplying much of that extra coal that we are not allowed to use at home here in OZ. Unreliable, super expensive S&W will help to wreck our economy while China, India etc will benifit through our exports of millions of tonnes of coal.


    Another new report again endorses what sceptics and Lomborg have been saying for decades. It is much better to ADAPT to so called AGW than to try and change the climate. Just more simple maths , science and new data that even the Obama govt understands. Big surprise.


  • Chris Warren says:

    Aert Driessen

    This is not the scientific method.
    “(basically, that evidence trumps everything else)”

    Science is based on evidence, experiment, hypothesis, analysis and corroboration.

    This trumps ideology and Trump himself.

    • Aert Driessen says:

      Chris, generally speaking the results of scientific experiments are part of evidence, either for or against the hypothesis. Analysis I see mainly as an investigation as to why an experiment didn’t support the hypothesis but generally speaking analyses are part of the Scientific Method, as you say. I don’t see what corroboration has to do with the Scientific Method. Profound insights are usually very personal and well-guarded, at least to the stage where credit is established. Just my thoughts without getting too technical.

      • Chris Warren says:

        Yes, there is a lot of science before evidence is obtained, and a lot of science after evidence has been obtained.

        Science is an open iterative process that has a lot of dead ends (which have their uses).

        • Aert Driessen says:

          Chris, science before evidence is obtained is ‘speculation’; I wonder what would happen if …, or, is my hypothesis reasonable. Post-evidence science is generally aimed at confirming the efficacy of the evidence and looking at the detail of the relationship between the evidence and the hypothesis. Did you know that the most telling evidence from ice core data shows that atmospheric temperature rises before (by some hundreds of years) concentration of CO2 goes up? That simply says that global warming (and there are many, many reasons why that might happen) cause CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere to rise, not the other way around. This should come as no surprise as CO2 is more soluble I cold water than warm water. If you are not convinced about that, pour yourself a cold beer and taste it go ‘flat’ as it warms. There is no ice core data, none, that show that rising CO2 causes subsequent warming. 🙂

  • tripitaka says:

    Don it is unfortunate that you do not provide references to the articles you describe.

    I understood from my university education – and I suspect that my education had more of a scientific underpinning than yours did – that providing the reader with access to the source of your information is necessary.

    You cite Mooney’s book and summarise the sins of the left this way; “the Left’s opposition to genetically modified foods, which stifled research into what could have been a second Green Revolution to feed Africa.”

    Where is your argument that there could have been a second Green Revolution in Africa? That seems a bit unrealistic, a hoot even but I’d like to see something more about the possibility. Do you have a reference that would explain how that would have happened and how the left managed to destroy such a wonderful thing?

    The opposition to genetically engineered food in Australia was not only from the left but from farmers who did not want to lose the economic advantage in the market that growing non genetically engineered food provided them. So you may want to blame the leftie buyers of food but then you would have to deny people their right to freely choose which is absolutely fundamental to the way that magic market is supposed to work.

    Surely nobody still believes in trickle down economics and that invisible hand of the market?

    So strike one.

    Next you say “there’s the campaign by animal-rights activists against medical researchers, whose work has already been hampered and would be devastated if the activists succeeded in banning animal experimentation.”

    Again, some examples of medical advancements that depended on animal research would be appropriate here. I’d say it was a small part of the left who were extreme in their opposition to animal experimentation and they certainly did not hamper any medical research or devastate any research programs that would have made people healthier and happier.

    A great deal of the research that used animals was for cosmetics and other vanity products .

    And one egregious example of the stupidity and useless cruelty toward animals was the many primates who were tortured by researchers looking for evidence that it was stress that caused ulcers. We see in this case of the causes of ulcers that a human scientist did the experiments that solved this puzzle all by and on himself.

    So calling BS on this claim also.

    Third, you say ” there’s the resistance in academia to studying the genetic underpinnings of human behavior, which has cut off many social scientists from the recent revolutions in genetics and neuroscience.”

    Nonsense, the study of the genetic underpinnings of human behaviour is not resisted; it is the obsession with proving that wealthy white men are the high point of evolution and it is the case that this research hit a bump in the road when the intelligence tests the white men used (tests measure only a set of abilities that wealthy white men determined were those that defined intelligence) revealed that Asians actually have the highest IQ’s. That was unexpected.

    The recent revolutions in genetics and neuroscience are to do with brain plasticity and epigenetics. Even the most virulent racist white man in the US and the most reputable academic – I won’t name them but I follow their blogs – who call their eugenics research HBD or human bio-diversity have given up on the project of proving that black and brown men are not as intelligent.

    Even the hugely expensive genetic studies that are being done – in China as well as the US – have failed to come up with anything significant when comparing genomes from different ‘races’.

    So strike three.

    You say “Each of these abuses is far more significant than anything done by conservatives, and there are plenty of others.”

    This is more nonsense and the conservatives with their foolish belief that white men are the most intelligent beings on the earth has been a plague on all of humanity and retarded all science since the idea of selection of the fittest was so badly misunderstood by motivated white men.

    • Don Aitkin says:


      I sometimes wonder whether you read carefully.

      To the best of my knowledge there is no one called ‘Mooney’ in my essay.

      The content is mostly that of John Tierney, as the quotation marks indicate. My own remarks come in the first and last paragraphs. I (DA) am not putting his views as my own. I said I thought his essay was ‘insightful’ — that is, it is worth reading and thinking about. If you have objections either take the matter up with Tierney, or set out your reasoning in a thoughtful way here. I can’t understand some of what you have written, or why you have written it.

      Plainly you disagree with Tierney. Have you read his essay in full? If not do so first.

      • Don Aitkin says:

        Sorry, Tierney cites Mooney’s book. Its title is given. It won’t take you more than a few seconds to get a full reference. And to repeat, I did not cite Mooney. It is Tierney who did so.

      • tripitaka says:


        Do you read what you write? The following sentence that is a quote from your post does contain “Mooney”. Okay?

        You wrote: ” I’ve read the Left’s indictments, including Chris Mooney’s bestseller, The Republican War on Science.”

        • Don Aitkin says:

          Yes, indeed I did. Too tired, I guess. But it is Tierney who discusses it. All I’ve done is to note that it is a real book. And I gave its title. And I did not quote from it.If you want to find out more about it, dose research and reading.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            I am still tired. Mooney is cited by Tierney, not by me. It was Tierney who said that he had read Mooney’s book (but so have I). I would agree that the inverted commas are not to everyone’s taste, but then I did explain why I hadn’t put it all in italics.

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      “white men are the most intelligent beings on the earth”

      Amusingly, the Asian races have generally been found to be the most intelligent.


      Complete waste of a university ‘education’.

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    This is an egregious waste of a university education.

    Genetically engineered crops are more productive, and more resistant to disease. So, what is “the economic advantage in the market that growing non genetically engineered food provided them”.

    Professor Peter Doherty, Nobel Prize winner and Australian of the Year, did his ground-breaking research on mice, not on cosmetics.

    No-one want to ‘prove’ racial differences in intelligence, any more than anybody needs to demonstrate black men run faster than white men.

    Nurse your grievances in private.

    • tripitaka says:

      “Nurse your grievances in private.”

      lol what is it you do not understand about the importance of freedom of speech Bryan? You little snowflake who wants to live in a bubble free from the truth that is becoming so obvious to all. Suck it up princess your time has come. 🙂

  • spangled drongo says:

    Yes, Don, groupthink and genitalia seem to be in charge when it comes to the “progressive” lefty fems war on science.

    If we accept that the lefties could be possibly half right in their scientific claims then are the proggy lefty fems even a quarter right. IOW, 75% wrong?

    “Science is currently in the grip of a ’reproducibility crisis’ so severe that the editor of a prominent journal has declared that ‘much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue’.

    If half of all peer-reviewed research ‘may simply be untrue’, half of all climate re- search may also be untrue. The policy implications of this idea are immense.”

    Donna Laframboise’s full paper:


    • Ross says:

      But 3 million illegal aliens voted illegally in the American election. I know this because Spangled Drongo told me he read it on some website, somewhere.
      I see your quoting yet ANOTHER privately sponsored, anti climate science, right wing think tank.
      That’s using your noggin, spangles. Keep up that healthy scepticism.
      I say this to you, man to man, as you seem to have some sort of issue with people who aren’t.

  • spangled drongo says:

    But it’s not just the real war on science. It’s also a war on all rational thought, activity and education:


    • Chris Warren says:

      Where was there the threat against attendees’ safety?

      • spangled drongo says:

        Don’t be so obtuse, chrissie. and read the story.

        If the police won’t let you hold a perfectly legal meeting because they are not capable of guaranteeing your safety from a bunch of lefty activist thugs, what is it you don’t understand?

      • tripitaka says:

        Must have been the vibe.

        • spangled drongo says:

          Yes, that’s probably it.

          They just got the wrong impression.

          Oh dear! Who were you saying is a denier?

          • Chris Warren says:

            Unless there is real evidence it was probably a right wing provocation by Andrew Bolt.

            Presumably many groups organising public meetings may request police presence and get the same response.

  • Ross says:

    “Conservatives don”t have that much impact on science.”
    “Where are the scientists who lost their jobs or funding?”

    That would be the climate science section at the CSIRO, Don.
    I believe the present conservative government made that bright decision.

    I don’t know if you will find much information about that in conservative journals or websites.

    You may just have to catch a bus and travel a couple of suburbs to the CSIRO, and ask them about it.

  • Neville says:

    More evidence showing the corruption involved in their CAGW industry. Even a man like Pielke jnr was targeted in a co-ordinated attack by billionaires, fra-dsters and the Whitehouse. He is by no means an AGW sceptic, but he does understand the difference between proper evidence ,data and empty delusional nonsense.

    • tripitaka says:

      Bloody hell Nev, Jo Nova is a woman! What would she know about anything? Is there a great white man like you behind the scenes who helps her understand the facts?

      And how come this is all happening? What has happened to the smartest men in the room? Why haven’t you won the war already being as you are the high point of evolution and just have all the best genes. Survival of the fittest isn’t working the way it should have? How come you/they let the long march through the institutions go on?

      It will all be okay though when Trump gets to be President eh? He is going to fix everything and make it good like it was when women knew their place which is in the kitchen barefoot or doing the ironing. I see he is beginning with the war on Christmas and making the world safe again for the orgy of Christian consuming and buying of products made overseas, that those oppressive joy-killing atheists have been trying to wipe out.

  • tripitaka says:

    “Many Jews consider One Nation to be Australia’s premier fascist political party. Given past history, they are rather concerned about current developments.Hanson and Roberts were invited to speak for this reason. They wanted to give them a clear message.

    Of course, to the Herald Sun and its poster boy Andrew Bolt, this was a sinister plot by “leftists” to silence ordinary white Australians. These self-proclaimed champions of free speech, have come out looking like the charlatans they are in this case. They cannot show that the Jewish community in Melbourne is in on the plot of what Bolt calls the Leftist Neo Fascists.

    Quite simply, One Nation was too scared to turn up ans face opponents. Two excuses were given. There was a threat of violence and the event was anti-Semitic.”


  • Neville says:

    Geeezzzz what a difference a couple of months makes to their extreme CAGW alarmism. The big daddy of CAGW alarmism Dr Hansen now moderates his silly extremism and agrees with Lomborg and some prominent sceptics (plus evidence and data) that nothing much will happen in the the foreseeable future. Whatever we do.

    You couldn’t have dreamed this up before the election of Trump, perhaps we might get more sanity expressed by other previously extreme forecasters? But ya gotta laugh at their previous decades long stupidity.


    This is nearly as good as the recent SLR study that found that the globe’s coastal land was NOW INCREASING contrary to the previous decades long nonsense about dangerous SLR. This study covers the last 30 years. So where is their CAGW slash co2 impact since 1950?


    • Nga says:

      You are embarrassing yourself again, Neville. Try thinking for yourself and try reading outside the denialist ghetto. Oil rich Dubai and land poor China are spending tens of billions on land reclamation and apparently the account for much of that reclaimed land. The cost of just one smallish island built off the cost of Dubai is US$12 billion! The cost per square km is astronomical. Other places, like Miami, much of which is only a couple of feet above water (on reclaimed land!), has had a huge increase in flooding in recent years due to SLR. Miami has raised US$900 million to deal with the problem but many engineers are apparently disillusioned because the plans on the table will only work in the short term. The full cost will be many times greater and it may well make more sense to allow. For the US overall:

      New research published in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that as many as 13 million people may live in vulnerable regions along the U.S. coasts by 2100 if sea levels rise by 5.9 feet (1.8 m).

      www. miaminewtimes. com/news/miami-beachs-400-million-sea-level-rise-plan-is-unprecedented-but-not-everyone-is-sold-8398989
      time. com/ 4257194/sea-level-rise-climate-change-miami/

      Meanwhile Florida’s coastal mayors are not in a position to play the denialist game: time. com/ 4197875/marco-rubio-climate-change-florida/

  • Neville says:

    Here is the corruption of science exposed by Dr Roger Pielke jnr in his WSJ op- ed. This corruption is at a higher level than I would have thought possible. But it just proves how they will hound an honest researcher with lies and distortions until he falls by the wayside. This should form the basis of an inquiry into the level of corruption and fra-d extending from the White house, billionaires, the Insurance lobby, journalists and the MSM. Unbelievable but true.

    Of course Dr Indur Goklany had published his research that backed up Pielke’s findings years ago. He found that death rates from extreme weather events had dropped by 97% since the 1920s. Since taken up by Lomborg, Oxford Union studies and Matt Ridley’s research as well. Here is Pielke jnr’s expose from the WSJ and the link. Of course silly light weight snipers wouldn’t have the wit or integrity to understand any of this.

    “Roger Pielke Jr.: My Unhappy Life as a Climate Heretic”

    Date: 03/12/16
    Roger Pielke Jr., The Wall Street Journal

    “My research was attacked by thought police in journalism, activist groups funded by billionaires and even the White House.

    “Much to my surprise, I showed up in the WikiLeaks releases before the election. In a 2014 email, a staffer at the Center for American Progress, founded by John Podesta in 2003, took credit for a campaign to have me eliminated as a writer for Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website. In the email, the editor of the think tank’s climate blog bragged to one of its billionaire donors, Tom Steyer: “I think it’s fair [to] say that, without Climate Progress, Pielke would still be writing on climate change for 538.”

    WikiLeaks provides a window into a world I’ve seen up close for decades: the debate over what to do about climate change, and the role of science in that argument. Although it is too soon to tell how the Trump administration will engage the scientific community, my long experience shows what can happen when politicians and media turn against inconvenient research—which we’ve seen under Republican and Democratic presidents.

    I understand why Mr. Podesta—most recently Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman—wanted to drive me out of the climate-change discussion. When substantively countering an academic’s research proves difficult, other techniques are needed to banish it. That is how politics sometimes works, and professors need to understand this if we want to participate in that arena.

    More troubling is the degree to which journalists and other academics joined the campaign against me. What sort of responsibility do scientists and the media have to defend the ability to share research, on any subject, that might be inconvenient to political interests—even our own?

    I believe climate change is real and that human emissions of greenhouse gases risk justifying action, including a carbon tax. But my research led me to a conclusion that many climate campaigners find unacceptable: There is scant evidence to indicate that hurricanes, floods, tornadoes or drought have become more frequent or intense in the U.S. or globally. In fact we are in an era of good fortune when it comes to extreme weather. This is a topic I’ve studied and published on as much as anyone over two decades. My conclusion might be wrong, but I think I’ve earned the right to share this research without risk to my career.

    Instead, my research was under constant attack for years by activists, journalists and politicians. In 2011 writers in the journal Foreign Policy signaled that some accused me of being a “climate-change denier.” I earned the title, the authors explained, by “questioning certain graphs presented in IPCC reports.” That an academic who raised questions about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in an area of his expertise was tarred as a denier reveals the groupthink at work.

    Yet I was right to question the IPCC’s 2007 report, which included a graph purporting to show that disaster costs were rising due to global temperature increases. The graph was later revealed to have been based on invented and inaccurate information, as I documented in my book “The Climate Fix.” The insurance industry scientist Robert-Muir Wood of Risk Management Solutions had smuggled the graph into the IPCC report. He explained in a public debate with me in London in 2010 that he had included the graph and misreferenced it because he expected future research to show a relationship between increasing disaster costs and rising temperatures.

    When his research was eventually published in 2008, well after the IPCC report, it concluded the opposite: “We find insufficient evidence to claim a statistical relationship between global temperature increase and normalized catastrophe losses.” Whoops.

    The IPCC never acknowledged the snafu, but subsequent reports got the science right: There is not a strong basis for connecting weather disasters with human-caused climate change.

    Yes, storms and other extremes still occur, with devastating human consequences, but history shows they could be far worse. No Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricane has made landfall in the U.S. since Hurricane Wilma in 2005, by far the longest such period on record. This means that cumulative economic damage from hurricanes over the past decade is some $70 billion less than the long-term average would lead us to expect, based on my research with colleagues. This is good news, and it should be OK to say so. Yet in today’s hyper-partisan climate debate, every instance of extreme weather becomes a political talking point.

    For a time I called out politicians and reporters who went beyond what science can support, but some journalists won’t hear of this. In 2011 and 2012, I pointed out on my blog and social media that the lead climate reporter at the New York Times,Justin Gillis,had mischaracterized the relationship of climate change and food shortages, and the relationship of climate change and disasters. His reporting wasn’t consistent with most expert views, or the evidence. In response he promptly blocked me from his Twitter feed. Other reporters did the same.

    In August this year on Twitter, I criticized poor reporting on the website Mashable about a supposed coming hurricane apocalypse—including a bad misquote of me in the cartoon role of climate skeptic. (The misquote was later removed.) The publication’s lead science editor, Andrew Freedman, helpfully explained via Twitter that this sort of behavior “is why you’re on many reporters’ ‘do not call’ lists despite your expertise.”

    I didn’t know reporters had such lists. But I get it. No one likes being told that he misreported scientific research, especially on climate change. Some believe that connecting extreme weather with greenhouse gases helps to advance the cause of climate policy. Plus, bad news gets clicks.

    Yet more is going on here than thin-skinned reporters responding petulantly to a vocal professor. In 2015 I was quoted in the Los Angeles Times, by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Paige St. John, making the rather obvious point that politicians use the weather-of-the-moment to make the case for action on climate change, even if the scientific basis is thin or contested.

    Ms. St. John was pilloried by her peers in the media. Shortly thereafter, she emailed me what she had learned: “You should come with a warning label: Quoting Roger Pielke will bring a hailstorm down on your work from the London Guardian, Mother Jones, and Media Matters.”

    Or look at the journalists who helped push me out of FiveThirtyEight. My first article there, in 2014, was based on the consensus of the IPCC and peer-reviewed research. I pointed out that the global cost of disasters was increasing at a rate slower than GDP growth, which is very good news. Disasters still occur, but their economic and human effect is smaller than in the past. It’s not terribly complicated.

    That article prompted an intense media campaign to have me fired. Writers at Slate, Salon, the New Republic, the New York Times, the Guardian and others piled on.

    In March of 2014, FiveThirtyEight editor Mike Wilson demoted me from staff writer to freelancer. A few months later I chose to leave the site after it became clear it wouldn’t publish me. The mob celebrated. ClimateTruth.org, founded by former Center for American Progress staffer Brad Johnson, and advised by Penn State’s Michael Mann,called my departure a “victory for climate truth.” The Center for American Progress promised its donor Mr. Steyer more of the same.

    Yet the climate thought police still weren’t done. In 2013 committees in the House and Senate invited me to a several hearings to summarize the science on disasters and climate change. As a professor at a public university, I was happy to do so. My testimony was strong, and it was well aligned with the conclusions of the IPCC and the U.S. government’s climate-science program. Those conclusions indicate no overall increasing trend in hurricanes, floods, tornadoes or droughts—in the U.S. or globally.

    In early 2014, not long after I appeared before Congress, President Obama’s science adviser John Holdren testified before the same Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He was asked about his public statements that appeared to contradict the scientific consensus on extreme weather events that I had earlier presented. Mr. Holdren responded with the all-too-common approach of attacking the messenger, telling the senators incorrectly that my views were “not representative of the mainstream scientific opinion.” Mr. Holdren followed up by posting a strange essay, of nearly 3,000 words, on the White House website under the heading, “An Analysis of Statements by Roger Pielke Jr.,” where it remains today.

    I suppose it is a distinction of a sort to be singled out in this manner by the president’s science adviser. Yet Mr. Holdren’s screed reads more like a dashed-off blog post from the nutty wings of the online climate debate, chock-full of errors and misstatements.

    But when the White House puts a target on your back on its website, people notice. Almost a year later Mr. Holdren’s missive was the basis for an investigation of me by Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee. Rep. Grijalva explained in a letter to my university’s president that I was being investigated because Mr. Holdren had “highlighted what he believes were serious misstatements by Prof. Pielke of the scientific consensus on climate change.” He made the letter public.

    The “investigation” turned out to be a farce. In the letter, Rep. Grijalva suggested that I—and six other academics with apparently heretical views—might be on the payroll of Exxon Mobil (or perhaps the Illuminati, I forget). He asked for records detailing my research funding, emails and so on. After some well-deserved criticism from the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union, Rep. Grijalva deleted the letter from his website. The University of Colorado complied with Rep. Grijalva’s request and responded that I have never received funding from fossil-fuel companies. My heretical views can be traced to research support from the U.S. government.

    But the damage to my reputation had been done, and perhaps that was the point”.

    • Chris Warren says:


      This could be nothing more than a Spangled Drongo/Andrew Bolt provocation.

      Where is this paper showing rate of deaths from extreme weatehr from 1929?

      It is more common for US rightwing to destroy academics – eg Ward Churchill but also in Australia the right have consistently blocked access and career development. For example under Menzies you had to get a security clearance to get a Commonwealth research Grant or travel to do anthropological research in Northern Territory or PNG. Professor Fred Rose was a victim of this.

      There is also the book “Intellectual Suppression: Australian Case Histories, Analysis and Responses” (ed Brian Martin).

      There was also viscious suppression of womens studies and political economy as well all driven by right wing drones.

      Russell Ward was another victim of right wing hate.

      Today there is now a general campaign of right-wing hate against Australian universities.

      Andrew Bolt and his minions are a particular obnoxious contemporary element in all this. For example;

      Michael Bodey reported in the Australian in April this year, that some people were unwilling to appear on Insiders with him, “because Bolt’s minions harass them afterwards”. Jason Wilson, a lecturer in digital communications at the University of Wollongong, described being “Bolted” in early August 2009 after he criticised Bolt’s performance on Insiders. Bolt’s post the next day featured a photograph of Wilson and an inaccurate description of him as working for GetUp!, and it accused him of using the Pravda model of journalism.

      So if you want to “curry sympathy” for some purported victim, you need to put jup the evidence.

    • tripitaka says:

      Oh the poor poor little mannie. Nev, I can see why the story touched you so. You must live in fear that they will come for you next.

      “Unbelievable but true.” You say?

      Unbelievable? Not really, people suffering from paranoid personality disorders all tell their stories in much the same way. There is always a group of ‘thought police’ or something like that who are to blame for all their problems and the way things just go wrong without them being any thing but decent people. The technical word is delusional.

      but True? Well true for the person with the delusion, the truth value is high but for most non-diagnosable people it would be negligable.

      As a piece of performance art, though, the story could be considered to have some artistic value, some truthiness and in the Trumpian post-truth world this man is a winner and has an excellent grasp of how to get some attention and sympathy and excuse his incompetence.

  • Ross says:

    “I believe climate change is real, and that human emissions of green house gases risks justifying action including a carbon tax.”
    Thanks for that, Nev. Carry on.

  • JimboR says:

    Just when you thought it was safe to start burning coal again, Turnbull and Frydenberg start mulling over an emissions intensity scheme. Where’s Abbott when you need him?


  • Chris Warren says:

    Spangled Drongo

    You always make extreme right wing claims (usually lifted from elsewhere) that are never backed with evidence.

    What was the threat that stopped the Hanson/Roberts meeting?

    Where is there evidence of deaths from extreme weather from 1929?

    How long must we be victims of your canards?

    • spangled drongo says:

      Affronted chrissie, who not only is notorious for having difficulty with the bleedin’ obvious is now getting desperater and desperater:

      “What was the threat that stopped the Hanson/Roberts meeting?”

      “One Nation senators Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts have cancelled a public forum with members of the Jewish community in Melbourne after Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police officials warned they could not guarantee the safety of attendees.

      Meeting organiser Avi Yemini told me [Andrew Bolt] police even advised him to hire his own muscle and warned that they still could not guarantee the safety of his guests.”

      When two separate police forces tell you something that can easily be checked you would be foolish to make a false claim as well as ignore the advice.

      But please feel free to supply evidence to the contrary.

      But if you can’t, an apology would suffice.

  • Neville says:

    Chris you could find the studies yourself if you tried. Here is a 2004 study from Dr Goklany showing death rates had dropped by 94% . But this is very conservative because not all earlier storms etc were recorded. This has been updated since in 2015 to be 98% in his PDF study for the GWPF. At page 23 he presents a column graph TABLE 1 showing the details and the sources under the graph. Here’s some of his comment. And here’s the link.


    “Table 1 provides a breakdown of the average annual global deaths and death rates for the various
    categories of extreme events for 1900–1989 and 1990–2004. The columns are arranged in order
    of declining mortality ascribed to the various events (highest to lowest) for the former period.
    This shows that:
    • During much of the 20th century, the deadliest extreme events were droughts, followed
    by floods and windstorms. Over the 105 year record, droughts and floods were
    responsible for 55 and 38 percent of all fatalities worldwide due to all extreme weather
    events, while windstorms contributed an additional 7 percent. Thus, these three categories
    together accounted for over 99 percent of the fatalities due to extreme events.
    • Aggregate annual mortality for the seven categories of extreme events declined by 86
    percent between the 1900-1989 and 1990-2004 periods, while the annual mortality rate
    dropped by 94 percent”.

    Here is a summary of Dr Goklany’s work and the 2015 updated study for the GWPF. Deaths reduction now 98%.

    About the author
    Indur Goklany is an independent scholar and author. He was a member of the US
    delegation that established the IPCC and helped develop its First Assessment Report.
    He subsequently served as a US delegate to the IPCC, and an IPCC reviewer. He is a
    member of the GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council.


    • Chris Warren says:

      The paper does not appear any cause for unusual attacks against Pielke – presumably this is not the real issue?

      As the paper states: “If extreme weather has
      indeed become more extreme for whatever reason,
      global and U.S. declines in mortality and mortality
      rates are perhaps due to increases in societies’
      collective adaptive capacities owing to a variety of
      interrelated factors — greater wealth, increases in
      technological options, and greater ac
      cess to and availability of human and social capital — although luck
      may have played a role.”

      So this is a diversion. You could well get reduced death-rates from traffic accidents, earthquakes etc too even though both increase.

      However we can state that the number of adverse events is increasing, using NOAA data:


  • Ross says:

    One assumes our emergency response has improved a little since 1929, thus saving more lives.
    Just a thought.

  • spangled drongo says:

    The lefty bed-wetters here only need to look in their own back yard to see how extreme weather has not only not got worse, but failed to materialise in many places since the big scare of “Whinnying Jimmy” around 35 years ago.

    SE Qld and Northern NSW, which used to get half a dozen cyclones a year have received virtually none in the period that the AGW scare has been the great sandwich board feature.

    As soon as the AGW blurb started all the beaches repaired themselves and these coastal areas that the media fed on regularly for their daily disaster diet have never looked better.

  • Chris Warren says:

    Spangled Drongo

    Please no more diversions and avoiding.

    Please no more posting right wing canards.

    Police forces do not say “… they could not guarantee the safety of attendees.”

    If there was such a real threat – it would be named and resources would be obtained. That is their responsibility backed up with various pieces of legislation.

    So the question remains – what was this supposed threat?

    • spangled drongo says:

      “Police forces do not say “… they could not guarantee the safety of attendees.”’

      Chrissie luv, where is your evidence that they did not say that?

      Let’s face it, you don’t have a clue.

      So here’s a RW solution:

      Put up or shut up.

      • margaret says:

        Spangled Drong that’s advice you should take more often.
        I notice though that you do shut up when you no longer have a leg to stand on and then your interest wanes till the next ‘war’ of words.

        • spangled drongo says:

          Ya mean, marg luv, that I shut up when I have nothing to say but you don’t?

          Yes, I noticed that too.

          • Ross says:

            “Where is your evidence that they did not say that?”
            Well indeed, Drongo. Indeed.
            That should come in handy in any future ‘debate’.

  • tripitaka says:

    Actually, spangled drongo there was a storm in this area yesterday that was pretty normal afternoon storm after the heat we have been experiencing, except for one small area – a super cell event is what the Higgins storm chaser peeps call it – where only a few adjacent paddocks were affected and everything standing was flattened and it looked like there had been an explosion.

    A friend posted pics of the devastation on facebook saying the owner of her rented house – a retired farmer – so you know he is not a bedwetting leftie – “said he saw what looked like a mini tornado”.

    These sort of mini ferocious ‘tornadoes’ are happening so frequently in this area that even the most doggedly sceptical of the old farmers are saying they have never seen anything like it and shaking their heads. Things move slowly up here but the awakening is coming and being less ideologically blind and deaf to reality than you are, they will be wetting the bed along with the appallingly stupid lefties who have ruined your life and brought an end to civilisation as you knew it. 🙂

    Wait til the warmer weather allows the evolution of new pest and diseases to attack their crops and there are no scientists at the CSIRO to develop responses.

    But do you have a theory about the cause of the drop in cyclone frequency that seems to you to be evidence that the climate isn’t changing?

  • margaret says:

    “I believe climate change is real and that human emissions of greenhouse gases risk justifying action, including a carbon tax. But my research led me to a conclusion that many climate campaigners find unacceptable: There is scant evidence to indicate that hurricanes, floods, tornadoes or drought have become more frequent or intense in the U.S. or globally. In fact we are in an era of good fortune when it comes to extreme weather. This is a topic I’ve studied and published on as much as anyone over two decades. My conclusion might be wrong, but I think I’ve earned the right to share this research without risk to my career.”
    Hmmm Roger seems to have expended a lot of time and energy over two decades for no good reason. A case of decerebrated rigidity?

    • spangled drongo says:

      “Hmmm Roger seems to have expended a lot of time and energy over two decades for no good reason.”

      And why is proving that you bed-wetters, who want to squander our life savings to no purpose, don’t know what they’re talking about, not a “good reason”, marg luv?

      Not only is he honest but he is right!

      I would have thought [along with the people who just voted Trump in] that when our very limited and horrendously costly non-solution to a possible non-problem may yet save the world’s bacon, this is the best outcome possible.

      • margaret says:

        But if he believes climate change is real and that human emissions of greenhouse gases risk justifying action, including a carbon tax, but his quibble is with how weather events are reported it does seem to be two decades of banging his head – (which could lead to decerebrated rigidity).

  • spangled drongo says:

    And trip luv, why people wet the bed is mostly they are too lazy to get up and go.

    Too set in their ways to acknowledge that local weather and climate patterns come and go.

    What evidence do you have that these small cells have never occurred before?

    Like, NONE ???

    Whereas there is endless evidence that many areas have had worse weather in the past than they are experiencing today.

    Pushing car bodies and dumping sandbags into the surf to save buildings 50 years ago I have been made painfully aware of that evidence.

    “the drop in cyclone frequency that seems to you to be evidence that the climate isn’t changing?”

    And please stop making sh1t up and grow up.

    Climate has always changed. It move in cycles that our scientists have a very rough understanding about and possibly the most accurate prognosis to date is, that these cycles come and go.

    • tripitaka says:

      “What evidence do you have that these small cells have never occurred before?
      Like, NONE ???”

      Heavens above! You are doubting, dismissing even, the evidence that I supplied? The evidence of the eyes and memories of the old white man farmers who have lived all their lives out here. It’s “emprical” evidence. 🙂

      But why wouldn’t I believe that you are a genius and with the evidence of your old man eyes and memories and by measuring the water level on your canal estate you can tell those silly scientists that the weather has always changed and you know better, despite all their years of learning and doing science and the high level math ability they have and the access to information about weather patterns from all over the world and throughout the history of the planet.

      Seriously? I don’t think so dude. 🙂

      Why are you not emperor of the world with all this common sense you have?

      • spangled drongo says:

        “Heavens above! You are doubting, dismissing even, the evidence that I supplied?”

        Here’s the evidence you supplied, trip luv:

        “These sort of mini ferocious ‘tornadoes’ are happening so frequently in this area that even the most doggedly sceptical of the old farmers are saying they have never seen anything like it and shaking their heads.”

        Making out that this is some new “climate change” phenomenon.

        Like I said: trip luv, stop making sh1t up.

        And if you really believe in sea level rise I am happy to listen to anyone you know who has actually witnessed any.

        BTW, it was at a lighthouse, not a canal estate, where ocean hydraulics are not overcome easily.

        But while that’s probably a bit too technical for you, you could always brush up on it.

  • tripitaka says:

    Well you are slow I know and you hang out with people who are too lazy to get out of bed to pee and I have never known anyone like that, so I’m at a loss to understand your particular peculiarities, but I would have thought that the fact that old timey farmers are saying that “they have never seen anything like it” would mean to even the most cognitively challenged denier that they are saying that these small cells have never happened before.

    Do note that I don’t regard the old farmers memories as evidence but since you are taking your own observations of the past and the way weather has or has not changed as evidence, then it seems fair that the evidence from other men of your class and educational level would be equally valid. no?

    I look to the scientists for my evidence and to medical and/or psychological research to understand why people wet the bed rather than base my assumptions on the dodgy sort of people you know who just do it because they are too lazy. That is weird really spangled drongo. I hope you don’t let them sleep on your couch.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Only you, trip luv, could twist an “old white farmer’s” words to cover both sides of the argument.

      But when you haven’t got a clue but like to make out you have it is smart to have two bob each way.

      And while you are holding forth on using only scientists for your evidence I seem to remember someone bringing up the point of science getting it 180 degrees wrong on stuff.


      “And one egregious example of the stupidity and useless cruelty toward animals was the many primates who were tortured by researchers looking for evidence that it was stress that caused ulcers.”

      That wasn’t you by any chance, hey trip?

      If it was then you had better look elsewhere for the solution your incontinence problem.

  • tripitaka says:

    You are the most entertaining person I have met for a long time spangy. Thanks.

  • Chris Warren says:

    Yes Drongo is a real hoot.

    Rational people do not expect others to find evidence.

    Drongo has not produced any evidence of any so-called “threat” and the twist, that somehow, the police said “they could not guarantee safety”, was also false.

    Drongo has only channeled the outpourings of other nutters and masses of diversions.

    • spangled drongo says:

      “Rational people do not expect others to find evidence.”

      Especially not for the chrissies of this world. That’s why I supplied it for you.

      “the police said “they could not guarantee safety”, was also false. ”

      Sez chrissie without a shred of evidence.

      But the hypocritical irony is delicious.

      • Chris Warren says:

        If you supplied evidence – what was the evidence of some threat?

        What evidence did you supply?

        I am surprised you now invent another accusation – “hypocritical”. I assume this was a Freudian Slip.

  • spangled drongo says:

    This pretty much sums up the efficacy of the great Marxist dictator:


  • Nga says:

    The — snip — pedalled by Don Aitkin almost got some folk killed today:

    “An unidentified 35-year-old man was being held for questioning after police were called to the Comet Ping Pong restaurant in Washington near the Maryland border, said Aquita Brown, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police Department in the nation’s capital. The suspect entered the restaurant and pointed a gun at a restaurant employee, who fled and notified authorities, police said. The man then discharged the weapon inside the restaurant. There were no injuries.

    Two weapons were found inside the restaurant and a third one was recovered from the man’s vehicle, police added.

    They said the suspect during an interview with investigators revealed that he came to the establishment to “self-investigate” Pizzagate, the police statement said. Pizzagate is a baseless conspiracy, which falsely claims Clinton and her campaign chief John Podesta were running a child sex ring from the restaurant’s backrooms.

    General Mike Flynn, Donald Trump’s pick for national security adviser, was involved in propagating this particular conspiracy theory.

    • spangled drongo says:

      “right-wing post-truth delusionism pedalled by Don Aitkin”

      Yes enge luv, delusionalism does help when you choose to extrapolate to ridiculous lengths.

      That’s part of the lefty war on science.

      Delusional science fiction AKA CAGW.

      Even whinnying Jimmy has woken up.

      About time you did.

    • Bryan Roberts says:


      Is your economics as good as your spelling?

  • Neville says:

    Boy spangled I admire your endurance trying to get any sense into or out of these kiddies. These little group thinkers haven’t had an original thought for a long time, but are probably the best little team of know nothings you’d hope NOT to meet. But I’ll leave you to it.

    Here’s another inconvenient post by Willis Eschenbach bringing us up to date with another prominent CAGW con merchant. This drongo should have been charged for his crimes but (of course) is still quoted and supported by his fellow leftie scientists. These people truly have no shame.


    Also the SA S&W idiocy continues, soon to be joined by their Vic’s fellow Labor idiot’s rush to close down our reliable coal fired electricity generation. But perhaps their admission about gas reliability in SA may be a tiny glimpse of common sense. Of course none of this S&W stupidity will make any measurable difference to climate at all. Just simple maths and science.


  • Ross says:

    Thanks Neville, via wotsupwiththat, originally from an unnamed source, quoting no scientist in particular, at a Brietbart website, personal advisor to Donald Trump.

    You’ll excuse me if I remain, politely sceptical.


  • […] what is the supposed ‘war on science’? I wrote about the phrase a few months ago. There was a book with such a title published a while ago by by Shawn Otto, and the reviews I read […]

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