One of the best podcasts that you will find is The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe. I link to their podcast feed over on the right side of my blog page under GREAT PODCASTS and I highly recommend it. I have learned a lot from their discussions of science-related current events and they are even funny while they do it. Steve Novella, the main guy, is simply sharp as a tack. Having said all of that, they really disappointed me with their response to the ongoing scandal that has been dubbed “ClimateGate”.
Additionally, I was absolutely stunned to discover that none of the Big Three networks have covered the scandal and the leaked information and ramifications at all on television. Seriously – this is a blatant news blackout. I simply cannot believe that they would be so obvious. Someone on Twitter humorously suggested that we should accuse Tiger Woods of involvement to get some coverage, but I digress…
I will admit up front that I have always been a skeptic when it comes to anthropogenic climate change (what used to be called Global Warming before cold spells undercut that mantra). My pre-ClimateGate reasons for this skepticism include things like the pre-industrial Medieval Warm Period, the outright silliness of trying to consider the Little Ice Age to be a baseline for normal temperatures, the discredited Hockey Stick graph, James Hanson’s deceitful attempt to use September temperatures to make October look inordinately hot, it goes on and on. Additionally, part of my reluctance to get on board is the stink of a social/political agenda on the part of the high priests of the church of man-made climate change. Additionally, though believers love to dismiss any non-believers who receive research money from energy concerns they do not use that same standard for these scientists who get massive grants for coming up with the “approved” results, nor do they talk much about Al Gore cashing in on it. They simply [naively] assume altruism in those people.
Having said that, ClimateGate is a huge scandal, and while I can understand people like Michael Mann (the huckster who created the discredited hockey stick graph) and Phil Jones circling the wagons to protect themselves and their [well-funded] alarmist industry, I cannot understand why the SGU rogues and their friend-of-the-SGU Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer) seem to be willing to throw aside their alleged skepticism in order to stick to their story. In doing so they embarrass themselves and have seriously undercut their well earned credibility, particularly with those of us in the sub-group that Steve once dubbed their “libertarian listeners”.
I listened to the SGU podcast #227 to see how they would respond to the damning information that has come to light from the leaked (or hacked) data pulled from the UK’s Climate Research Unit. Did they mention the scientists conspiring to use tricks to hide the decline in recent global temperatures (“Mike’s trick”)? Nope. Did they mention the scientists discussing illegal schemes to hide their data from Freedom of Information (FOIA) Requests? Nope. Did they talk about the fact that these scientists claim that all of the raw, unadjusted data has been lost, with only the “corrected” (i.e. “tricked”) data left available? No, they did not. They simply circled the wagons and took the typical [shout-down fascism] tactic of calling us anthropogenic climate change skeptics “deniers”, a well-known reference equating us to holocaust deniers.
Bad Astronomer Phil Plait, who is president of the JREF and seems to be a very decent guy, even took the ridiculous position of dismissing it with this pathetic statement:
Bottom line? Yawn. Get back to me when you have equally overwhelming evidence that global warming is not happening, or if it is it’s not anthropogenic. Then we can talk.
One could argue that his statement is an example of the logical fallacy called the argument from ignorance, “in which it is claimed that a premise is true only because it has not been proven false”.
When the data is called into question you cannot dismiss skeptics based upon your unwavering faith in that same questionable data. Perhaps in such a situation one should check one’s premises.
These so-called scientists have been using tricks to arrive at their pre-determined conclusion, have talked of avoiding FOIA requests, and have “lost” the raw data, but the skeptics at SGU continue to declare that it is settled science… based upon the very people and data that have now been shown fairly convincingly to be lies, half-truths, manipulations, and obfuscations. I am trying to find a good analogy here to describe what they are doing in defending the ClimateGate offenders. Maybe the way football fans will let a player get away with egregious crimes because they feel like they are on the same team? Perhaps a better analogy is the way that people who naively supported vacuous candidate Obama still refuse to admit that they were hoodwinked by his platitudes. Those analogies are not exactly right but I am getting close. I will have to put more thought into that. Maybe they have simply gotten so used to defending against “deniers” that they are just doing the thoughtless knee-jerk reaction.
Perhaps most importantly, the computer models on which a lot of this theory is based did not predict our current cooling trend. Why is that? Because as analysis of the source code is now revealing, they coded the software with a conclusion in mind, fudging things to make them work. Poor Harry, whoever that is, but I will get to that in a minute.