Voices from the climate community on "seepage"

By Stephan Lewandowsky
Professor, School of Experimental Psychology and Cabot Institute, University of Bristol
Posted on 14 May 2015

Our recent article “Seepage: Climate change denial and its effect on the scientific community” in Global Environmental Change, authored by me and Naomi Oreskes, James S. Risbey, Ben R. Newell, and Michael Smithson, has attracted a bit of attention over the last few days. I sample a few comments here and reply to a lengthy post by Richard BettsHead of the Climate Impacts strategic area at the UK Met Office, that critiqued our paper.

The Vice Chair of the IPCC Jean Pascal van Ypersele tweeted about our paper and encouraged climate scientists to read it:

 

Some scientists clearly did, and sent us some comments for attribution:


Professor Andrew Dessler, of Texas A&M, stated:

“These results strike a chord with me.  As someone working in the area of climate change, I have been attacked for my public statements about the science of climate change.  I can't help but think that this causes me to water down what I say.”

Professor Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate research (PIK) provided the following comment:

“The paper on "seepage" by Lewandowsky et al provides sobering and convincing evidence for how climate change denial affects the scientific community - this should make every climate scientist pause and think. The authors highlight an important problem: how climate scientists have been influenced in their work by the public debate, to the extent of even inadvertently adopting a rhetorical framing created by contrarian voices from outside science.  They show this for the example of the supposed (but not real) "pause" or "hiatus" in global warming, for which some of us have been using the label "faux pause" for years (check out #fauxpause on twitter).
 
They highlight how the IPCC adopted the term 'hiatus' despite strong concerns by the German government about the misleading nature of this term. And they analyse the double standards used when discussing the so-called 'pause' as compared to an equally long period of rapid warming, which in fact deviated more from the long-term trend than the recent phase of slower warming. In fact, in 2007 in Science we noted the rapid warming during 1990-2006, naming as the first reason "intrinsic variability within the climate system" - which is also the prime reason for the slower warming trend when looking at the period starting in the hot outlier year 1998.

As Lewandowsky et al write: "The use of a single ‘cherry-picked’ outlying year to establish the presence of a ‘pause’ ... does not conform to conventional statistical practice and is testament to the degree to which the climate mainstream has embraced the ‘pause’ meme for extra-scientific reasons." I hope that the article by Lewandowsky et al will be widely read and discussed and that it will lead to greater self-awareness in the climate science community in future!"

A post by Katherine Bagley at Inside Climate News reports the impressions of Kevin Trenberth, an IPCC Lead author as follows:

Climate denial campaigns "can absolutely influence what you do and what you write about," said Trenberth, who was not involved in the study. "Part of the reason they do it is to distract you and get you to waste your time." Instead of "publishing the good science needed to advance our understanding of climate change," scientists are left defending their work and debunking false claims.

Those three voices support our analysis that climate denial can affect scientists and how they conduct and communicate their science. At least tacitly, they also recognize that the relevance in our work is not only in pointing out the existence of a phenomenon, but that in so doing we also provide the tools to address it: We know from related work (on which I may blog later) that knowing about a phenomenon such as seepage is half the battle to avoid its occurrence.


Knowledge is generally empowering, and seepage is no exception. Exercising some caution and reflection goes a long way to ensure that one’s scientific agenda is not inadvertently shaped by false agendas.

 

A Critical Voice: Richard Betts on “seepage”

 

However, not unexpectedly, there are also some critical voices. We expected that our paper would evoke some spirited disagreement, and so Richard Betts’ critique of our paper is most welcome as it provides us with an opportunity to restate our argument and address some of the objections raised by Professor Betts. To facilitate discussion, I begin by noting that there is much in Betts’s post that we can agree with—for example, the increased role of social media, the increased focus by governments on the need for adaptation and hence decadal predictions. No disagreement there. But then again, none of those points pertain to the issue of seepage.


As far as the core of his objection to the seepage notion is concerned, Betts focuses on our arguments surrounding the alleged “pause” in global warming during the last 15 years. We consider this phase to be a fairly unremarkable fluctuation about the average warming rate, a position we support by some informative statistics.


Our argument about seepage and the “pause” rests on two principal points, namely (a) that this “pause” was given undue attention by the scientific community in comparison to previous episodes of above-average global warming, and (b) that this attention sometimes involved an unexplained—and unjustified—departure from long-standing scientific practice.


I limit myself here to Betts's comments pertaining to our case study, involving the “pause” in global warming. Unfortunately it appears that Betts’s critique was largely unencumbered by acquaintance with what we actually wrote. I therefore provide specific pointers to our paper that correct his claims.


1. Claim: Lewandowsky et al. “… do not specifically identify the “previous occasions when decadal warming was particularly rapid”, but it’s fair to assume that they are referring to the 1990s, probably the period 1992-1998. This was the most recent occasion when global mean temperatures rose rapidly for a few years…”

  • Neither assertion is correct. Figure 2 in our paper (bottom panel) identifies the period of particularly rapid warming that we were talking about, which spans 1992 to 2007. It follows that 1992-1998 was not the most recent period of rapid global warming, but that very rapid warming was observed in the 15-year period up to 2007.       

.

2. Claim: “It is perplexing that Lewandowsky et al do not seem to be aware of this [earlier] research on short-term climate variability….. Possibly Lewandowsky et al are wondering why there was not a raft of papers specifically focussing on the observed temperature record between 1992 and 1998. The reason is simple  this was not a particularly surprising event. When global temperatures rose rapidly few a few years after 1992, this was very easily explained by the tailing-off of the short-term cooling influence of the Mount Pinatubo eruption.”

  • The focus on a 7-year time period that we never mention in the paper is perplexing indeed. The 15-year periods we cover are not all readily explained by Mt Pinatubo or the 1998 El Niño.

3. Claim: “Lewandowsky et al regard research into natural variability as “entertaining the possibility that a short period of a reduced rate of warming presents a challenge to the fundamentals of greenhouse warming.” Is there any evidence at all of climate scientists actually thinking this? I don’t think so.”

  • Yes, there is evidence that scientists frame it as a fundamental challenge (even if they don’t actually believe that). Consider the following verbatim statements from recent articles on the “pause:”

“Despite ongoing increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases, the Earth's global average surface air temperature has remained more or less steady since 2001.”


“Despite a sustained production of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, the Earth's mean near-surface temperature paused its rise during the 2000--2010 period.”


“Given the widely noted increase in the warming effects of rising greenhouse gas concentrations, it has been unclear why global surface temperatures did not rise between 1998 and 2008.”

 

“Despite the continued increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, the annual-mean global temperature has not risen in the twenty-first century, challenging the prevailing view that anthropogenic forcing causes climate warming.”

And the list goes on….


What those citations show is that a short-term fluctuation, sometimes over as short a period as a decade, was considered by those scientists to constitute a “problem” for climate science that had to be resolved.


To restate what James Risbey already noted in a comment on Betts’s post:

“In the past, the notion that CO2 and GMST must increase in lockstep was considered laughable and indicative of one's ignorance of climate.  It was well known that CO2 is increasing steadily, but GMST does not because of decadal and longer scale variability.  Yet in recent years, some prominent climate research papers on the so called 'hiatus' have started out by pointing to an apparent conundrum between steadily increasing CO2 and fluctuating GMST.  i.e. that which was not a conundrum now is.  That change in framing is indicative of 'seepage'. That's not a particularly controversial claim or complicated argument, but it is a different argument from the one addressed by Richard on trends in climate variability research.”

Of course, all papers on the “pause”, including those cited above, come to the conclusion that anthropogenic global warming continues and will continue to pose a risk in the future. In addition, those papers have contributed to our knowledge of short-term climatic variability. Contrary to another claim made by Betts, we are conversant with that research and have recently contributed to it by showing that climate models do accommodate recent temperature trends when the phasing of natural internal variability is taken into account—as it must be in comparing a projection to a single outcome. However, notwithstanding the “pause” papers’ conclusions and the fact that global warming continues unabated, the framing of a short-term fluctuation as a problem for science departs from long-standing stastistical and climatological knowledge.

 

The Risks of Risk Communication

At this point, one might wonder why all this matters? Given that we do not disagree with the results of the research on the faux “pause”—how could we, having contributed to it—and given that the disagreement between Betts and us seems to boil down primarily to semantics and the imputation of scientists’ motivations, does it matter whether or not there is “seepage” into the scientific community?

We believe it matters a great deal.


To be perfectly clear: Talk of a “hiatus” or a “pause” in global warming has been a contrarian talking point for about a decade, and there is clear evidence that this framing was picked up by the media (see Max Boykoff’s article in Nature Climate Change last year) and has now been picked up by some climate scientists.


This matters because political momentum for mitigative action is difficult to sustain or mount while the public believes that there is a “pause” in global warming. Talk of a “pause”, when there is none, therefore has political consequences and, by implication, also carries ethical risks.


Lest one think that this risk is remote, the legal aftermath of the earthquake in L'Aquila, which embroiled scientists in charges of manslaughter for their alleged failure to warn the community, vividly illustrates the legal and moral hazards that are incurred when the public is not informed (or misinformed) of the full envelope of identifiable risks arising from scientific findings.


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Comments 51 to 65 out of 65:

  1. richard.betts at 22:13 PM on 20 May, 2015
    Sou

    You keep sneaking in extra layers to this discussion. I don't use "GMST" when talking with people who are not already familiar with climate science terminology. And indeed I don't tend to use "pause" or "hiatus" in those situations either, because it's a point of detail. If I do get into a discussion on this, it's probably because a time series of global mean temperature is being discussed. eg. if I'm giving a public talk, or if I'm talking with a journalist who has asked about these things. In both cases, this is a discussion with non-scientists who are nevertheless interested enough in the topic to want to talk to me or attend a presentation.

    I think this is at the heart of the difference between your approach and mine. You are very pro-actively trying to influence public opinion, especially among those who don't have time for the details. That is (it seems) your main aim. My aim is different - I am trying to understand the details, and then a follow-on from that is to communicate my understanding. I have different audiences with different levels of understanding, and although I obviously will adjust the level of technical detail according to the audience, I don't think it is appropriate to adjust the language for all audiences just to cater for one. Avoiding certain terms in scientific papers because they might get 'misused' for other audiences sets a dangerous precedent - far better to explain what they really mean.
  2. @Lotharsson at 22:09 PM on 20 May, 2015
    However you've carefully elided the other reasons that one cannot interpret that sentence as being a comparison to studies Lomborg paints as outliers, along with the continuation that highlights the key difference between our interpretations.

    Seriously, I haven't done anything as clever or careful as to try and "elide" your obsession about the "outlier" studies that you seem to insist Lomborg is referring to; for the simple reason Lomborg does not claim any of the "worse than the IPCC" studies are "outliers".

    Lomborg only argues that you would expect a 50:50 ratio of "worse than IPCC" to "better than IPCC" studies to be seen in the media, but instead, he says, we see a 100:0 split. I.e. we only see "worse than the IPCC" studies in the media.

    So Lomborgs point, the point you say you've "grokked", could clearly be better attacked by trying to break Lomborgs claimed 100:0 ratio. Say, by pointing to the existence of only a few "better than the IPCC" articles in the media, you could undermine, or even better refute, his articles thesis. But you don't seem interested in taking that approach for some reason do you?

    Why is that?

    Is it because "Björn Lomborg has been in the news lately"?

    Or is it because it remains imperative to depict Lomborg as "...encourag[ing] readers to assume that policy proposals are too pessimistic..." ?

    As with your perception of Lomborgs focus on alleged "outlier" studies, again I have to wonder where you get this "pessimistic" claim. Since Lomborgs only specific description about types of policy is here:
    But it is simply not correct that climate data are systematically worse than expected; in many respects, they are spot on, or even better than expected. That we hear otherwise is an indication of the media's addiction to worst-case stories, but that makes a poor foundation for smart policies.

    There really is a difference.

    Finally, regarding my detailed and profoundly unarguable description of the fabricated sentence in Greg Ladens image in which Lomborgs quote is shown with its initial conjunctive adverb omitted, indicating it was to be read in "conjunction" with the previous sentence, a sentence which was also omitted, and then capitalising the post comma word instead of ellipsis; you say:

    The quote itself is word for word accurate except for "past" being substituted for "last" which doesn't significantly change the meaning.

    Thanks! I actually missed that word substitution too! And yes, if that was the only difference I would probably ignore it as it does not change the meaning too much - although I would wonder how careless you would have to be to cut and paste that in ;)

    You follow that next with:
    Accordingly your allegation of fabrication is somewhere between very pedantic and false.

    Oh really? You think the existence of the substitution of the word "past" for "last" means my allegation is pedantic or false? Even though I never noticed Laden swapped those words!?

    You then go on to say:
    Probably the best you could do to improve that claim is to argue that there should have been a leading ellipsis because "Moreover, ..." was omitted, but that would be another very pedantic objection.

    Mmm, OK, I see, let me get this sequence straight: on top of me not noticing "past" was swapped for "last", which makes my claim approach falsity, you then dismiss the omission of the conjunctive adverb, indicating the sentence was to be read in "conjunction" with the previous sentence and the fabricated capitalisation as pedantic.

    Seriously?

    How can you begin to tackle my allegation of fabrication in this backward way and claim good faith?

    All I see you do there is announce you personally think fabricating quotes is acceptable.
  3. #40 Barry Woods at 20:26 PM on 18 May, 2015 presents the Met Office graph/data -
    Title "Global average temperature 1850-2014 - Updated from Morice et al. 2012"

    My understanding is that this "graph/data" set excludes area north and polar regions, http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/monitoring/climate/surface-temperature.
    It is not a global set --- so why the hell keep labeling it as "global"?
    Why never spend the time teaching and
    detailing for the public/leaders the missing surface areas and the ocean?
    _________________________________________


    To me our focus on irrelevant details and such - fosters more confusion than clarity.

    Rather than clearly and simply explaining a digesting the climate fact we do know.
    Never that, always we this endless dog-chasing-tail debate.

    Seems to me "seepage" is obvious, Lewandowsky et al merely described an example
    of what has transpired at the hands of the Republican/libertarian PR/power machine.
  4. Lotharsson at 04:20 AM on 21 May, 2015
    ...for the simple reason Lomborg does not claim any of the "worse than the IPCC" studies are "outliers".

    I used the term "outliers" in quotes as my shorthand for those set of studies that Lomborg portrayed as being outside the range of the IPCC projections and that make better headlines. Since you both object to that label and misinterpret it, feel free to specify a label or shorthand that you are comfortable with clearly identifies those studies for the purposes of this discussion that we can agree upon instead.

    Once that is achieved you might consider correcting this strange statement (strange if you understand what I was referring to):

    Seriously, I haven't done anything as clever or careful as to try and "elide" your obsession about the "outlier" studies that you seem to insist Lomborg is referring to...


    Quite apart from disingenuously trying to frame ... something ... here as "my obsession", you certainly elided (no scare quotes needed) the most important part of my disagreement, and explicating those reasons necessitate a reference to those studies (perhaps via a label or shorthand). Your framing is disingenuous because it was you that asserted those studies were the comparison point for "better than expected" sea level rise, not me. Moreover, I have been insisting in response to you ever since that they are not Lomborg's comparison or reference point.

    Any obsession you suggest that I have with those studies is entirely predicated on it being necessary to discuss them when explaining my disagreement. Sans your very surprising interpretation of that paragraph, it simply wouldn't have occurred to me to refer to those studies because that was not necessary for my original point.
  5. Lotharsson at 04:30 AM on 21 May, 2015
    So Lomborgs point, the point you say you've "grokked", could clearly be better attacked by trying to break Lomborgs claimed 100:0 ratio

    That is moot to me as the point I'm actually making is already made.

    Don't let that stop you better attacking Lomborg's point though.

    I have to wonder where you get this "pessimistic" claim.

    Study what I wrote for clues. Or ponder the apparent misrepresentation of the basis of mainstream policy proposals that stand a non-trivial chance of being adopted in Lomborg's article.

    You think the existence of the substitution of the word "past" for "last" means my allegation is pedantic or false?


    No, I do not. I mean that "fabrication" is typically used to indicate making up something that was not even close to something that was said, a la "made up out of whole cloth". It is not typically applied in my experience to quotes that one merely argues are taken out of context. (There really is a difference.)

    I get that you allege the omission of the conjunctive adverb so grossly changes the meaning of the quote that you think it is fair to call the resulting quote "fabricated", but your argument to that effect relies on an interpretation that is so untenable to me that it verges on the ludicrous. For that reason I must reject your characterisation of the quote on the image as fabrication and consider it pedantic to complain about the omission of the conjunction because the omission changes nothing of significance. Clearly, your mileage may vary.

    If you wish to change my mind with respect to your fabrication characterisation you need to first change my mind about your interpretation of that paragraph, but my patience and my typing fingers are both wearing exceedingly thin. The crux of my disagreement with your interpretation is this:

    Satellite trends that are "spot on compared to IPCC projections" are by definition excluded from being characterised as "better than expected" in an article where "expected" is consistently and repeatedly defined to mean "what the IPCC predicts or projects".
  6. I used the term "outliers" in quotes as my shorthand ... feel free to specify a label or shorthand that you are comfortable with ... that we can agree upon instead.

    Er, no thanks I don't feel free to specify your label.

    Obsession or not, your 7 uses of "outlier" don't correspond to anything Lomborg has said. However you do claim this to be his meaning, i.e. "studies Lomborg paints as outliers". Which can only indicate that it is a word that you introduce with some clear implied intrinsic meaning. So far to me it indicates you don't understand that Lomborgs article is about one-sided exaggeration being not the way forward, but rather that you think Lomborg is decieving the reader by claiming that "outliers" are getting undue prominence.
    I have to wonder where you get this "pessimistic" claim.

    Study what I wrote for clues. Or ponder the apparent misrepresentation of the basis of mainstream policy proposals that stand a non-trivial chance of being adopted in Lomborg's article.

    I'm not pondering, just please tell me where Lomborg mentions concerns about "pessimistic" policies. Until then anyone can see that Lomborg only shows concerns about dumb policies. i.e not "smart policies"

    As to the fabricated quote good grief! What a self-evident litany of subjective special pleading!

    "...in my experience..." ,
    "...so untenable to me...",
    "...I must reject...",
    "...[I] consider it pedantic to complain..."

    The quote is a fabrication. End of. It's a sentence Lomborg did not use in his article. Sorry it seems untenable for you to accept that, but there really is no argument against it. Certainly not one you are making.

    The next question I suggest you ask yourself is why do you need it not to be a fabrication?
    If you wish to change my mind with respect to your fabrication characterisation you need to first change my mind about your interpretation of that paragraph,..

    Oh, I think I see why. What a bizarre contingency! The quote would remain a fabrication even if my interpretation of Lomborg's full statement was that he really meant "All elephants are pink!" !!

    However you should note that Lomborg puts a question mark at the end of the quote. With it's proper context seen, it is obviously a rhetorical question. Not a policy statement, he doesn't reference the media, he doesn't reference a study, outlier or no, he merely asks the reader the question. "Should we not be told that this is much better than expected?" He doesn't say it is better than expected. It distorts nothing and has no overt sinister import. It relates to overall meaning of his article.
  7. Lotharsson at 04:35 AM on 22 May, 2015
    ...your 7 uses of "outlier" don't correspond to anything Lomborg has said.

    Your capability for confident misinterpretation is practically world class. Lomborg writes:

    But most models find results within the IPCC range of a sea-level increase of 18-59cm (7-23in) this century. This is of course why the thousands of IPCC scientists projected that range [18-59cm]. Yet studies claiming one metre or more obviously make for better headlines.

    I used "out-liers" as shorthand to refer to those studies that Lomborg says "make better headlines" because their projections of 1m or more lie out-side the range of "most models" and outside the range of IPCC projections.

    Speaking of confident misinterpretation, you have turned phrases indicating my argument and reasoning process along with allowances that my analysis and perspective may not be agreed with into "special pleading". I do believe that this is a first in my experience, and I've seen some top flight misinterpreters and befuddlers in my time. Congratulations!

    He doesn't say it is better than expected.

    Another truly superb misinterpretation maneuver! He's literally just characterised it as better than expected by citing a comparison with the IPCC projections, which makes it better still than "the studies that make better headlines" that you allege define his "expected" sea level rise. Perhaps you should argue with yourself about what "expected" is until one of you wins before you try and argue the case to others?

    I sincerely hope that you are a sophisticated Poe. If so, well played, Sir or Madam, well played.
  8. @Lotharsson at 04:35 AM on 22 May, 2015
    I used "out-liers" as shorthand to refer to those studies that Lomborg says "make better headlines" because their projections of 1m or more lie out-side the range of "most models" and outside the range of IPCC projections.

    Thanks I needed that spelt out and you have. Sorry, you are right, "studies claiming one metre or more" is the example of an outlier that corresponds to something Lomborg said about the sea level studies.

    I looked it up and indeed the IPCC century end high estimate at the time of his article was about 0.8 metres

    Lomborg's article is about "worse than expected" articles being the preferred headlines, and so I agree that there he makes a point about outliers "obviously mak[ing] for better headlines".
    He's literally just characterised it as better than expected by citing a comparison with the IPCC projections, which makes it better still than "the studies that make better headlines" that you allege define his "expected" sea level rise.

    Lomborg certainly asserts that the one metre outlier studies make for better headlines in the eyes of the media. Because they're extreme, on the "worse" side of the 50:50 balance - BTW thanks again for drawing my attention to this - however whose definition of "better" are you talking about when you say Lomborg's rhetorical question makes it

    "better still than "the studies that make better headlines" ?

    Remember, for a lot of people "better" means observations or projections that indicate sea levels rise not accelerating, temperatures rise not accelerating, hurricanes not increasing and so on .. you see?

    Lomborg's article makes the point that "better" in eyes of the media headline writer is the opposite -"worse than expected".

    After listing the worse then expected examples Lomborg asks "Should we not be told..." he doesn't make a claim anything is "better still" or even mention we should be told in the headlines let alone page one.

    Lomborg categorically does not say anything resembling "Because the last two years rise is better than IPCC projection the IPCC are wrong".

    However the 1 metre outlier studies reported in the media undoubtedly do claim that the IPCC are wrong.

    ...you have turned phrases indicating my argument and reasoning process along with allowances that my analysis and perspective may not be agreed with into "special pleading".


    I literally limited my description of 'special pleading' to your reasoning process on one point i.e. the fabricated quote used by Greg Laden i.e.
    As to the fabricated quote good grief! What a self-evident litany of subjective special pleading! ".

    As I've maintained from the start, when I first saw your link to that fabrication that allowed obscuring the whole context of Lomborgs article from unwitting readers, in preference for depicting Lomborg as a pantomime villain. I sincerely wondered if you knew it was fabricated and asked if you realised.

    It is a fabricated quote.

    You have not shown the slightest problem with that.

    In fact I notice you seemed to have dropped it altogether now ;)
  9. As usual, the comments here from the science rejecters reinforce Dr. Lewandowsky's various findings. It's not clear what people hope to achieve when they write comments here like "What I do get annoyed about is that I am working hard in a wealth-creating industry and paying taxes to fund you in your wealth-absorbing world ..." -- but all they *do* achieve is to provide more data points. And the same goes for the so-called "luke warmers" who are no different beyond being more furtive about their ideology (which helps explain why they never call out such comments).

    A major example of seepage is how Frank Luntz's advice to the GOP to stop saying "global warming" and instead say "climate change" has taken over across the board, so that the U.S. Congress ends up voting on a resolution about whether "climate change is real" and Jim "snowball" Inhofe cosponsors it because "climate change has always happened", which of course is true but beside the point ... such confusion was the Luntz's intent.
  10. "the whole context of Lomborg" is to deny and delay the need for action on global warming and to play the "I care about poor people more than you do" game so common with the right wing.
  11. "All I see you do there is announce you personally think fabricating quotes is acceptable."

    It would be quite surprising to find anyone, let alone Lotharsson, making such an announcement, and sure enough no such announcement was made. So here we have a blatant falsehood, and you know it's a blatant falsehood. There's a word for that.

    "How can you begin to tackle my allegation of fabrication in this backward way and claim good faith?"

    That accusation by means of rhetorical question is another example of bad faith.

    "With it's proper context seen, it is obviously a rhetorical question. Not a policy statement, he doesn't reference the media, he doesn't reference a study, outlier or no, he merely asks the reader the question. "Should we not be told that this is much better than expected?" He doesn't say it is better than expected."

    You don't seem to understand what a rhetorical question is ... the whole point of a rhetorical question is that it *isn't* a question, it's a statement in question form. As Wikipedia says, "A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question that is asked in order to make a point rather than to elicit an answer".
  12. @Lotharsson "I sincerely hope that you are a sophisticated Poe. "

    Google his handle and you'll find a lot of evidence to the contrary.

    "top flight misinterpreters and befuddlers"

    Yes.
  13. "You think the existence of the substitution of the word "past" for "last" means my allegation is pedantic or false? Even though I never noticed Laden swapped those words!?"

    That of course was not Lotharsson's claim, so this is just more bad faith misinterpretation. Lottharson's claim was, quite clearly, that your allegation of fabrication is "somewhere between very pedantic and false" because "The quote itself is word for word accurate" except for a difference that didn't substantially affect the meaning.

    I would love to see Dr. Lewandowsky study correlations between rejection of climate science and other forms of intellectual dishonesty and immoral behavior. My own observations leave me with an impression of a very strong correlation, but of course that's anecdotal.
  14. "This is odd, because any reasonable understanding of how science proceeds would expect that, as we refine our knowledge, we find that things are sometimes worse and sometimes better than we expected, and that the most likely distribution would be about 50-50. "

    This is an interesting assertion by Lomborg. It shows that he understands neither science, statistics, nor how to think logically. Suppose that we are on a trip across country that so far has been pretty flat and easy to navigate, and we expect the same in the future, but actually there are huge mountains and/or deep trenches in our way. By Lomborg's reasoning, as we learn more about the terrain, we will sometimes learn that it is harder to navigate than expected and sometimes easier, with a distribution of about 50-50.

    Or, suppose that there is vast, immense mountain ahead of us, enshrouded in clouds. This is a raw fact of the world, presently unknown to us. According to Lomborg's logic, as we climb the mountain, the odds are always 50-50 that we will find that the mountain is either taller or shorter than we expected ... *independent of the actual fact about the mountain's height*. The notion that there could be a *systematic* error in our judgments is apparently beyond Lomborg's comprehension ... and yet the history of science is rife with such systematic errors.
  15. Lomborg asks rhetorically

    "Moreover, over the last two years, sea levels have not increased at all – actually, they show a slight drop. Should we not be told that this is much better than expected?"

    Only if we want to ignore basic hydrothermic physics and thereby mislead people.

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