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Insane reaction to the PBS interview with Anthony Watts

Three days ago, PBS did a piece on the climate change debate and featured Richard Muller as an alarmist (self-described converted ex-skeptic) and Anthony Watts as a skeptic (and later others such as Judith Curry):

Climate Change Skeptic Says Global Warming Crowd Oversells Its Message
If you listen to those 9.5 minutes, you may agree with me that Anthony Watts was speaking as a lukewarmer. It doesn't mean that I sharply disagreed with something; I didn't. (Well, I found Anthony's focus on the urban heat islands excessive and at one point, he almost denied that there exist any natural climate drivers – but I must have overinterpreted a sentence.) But he was surely not speaking as a partisan.

But the very fact that PBS dared to interview the man behind the world's most visited climate website caused an explosion of anger among the climate activists and, unfortunately, not only the climate activists.




Let me mention some of these reactions.

Get Energy Smart Now Dot Com thinks that the interview is "demonstrating the shallowness of mainstream modern American journalism". We learn that Watts suffers from an anti-science syndrome and wages a jihad against the actual climate science, among other things.

Media Matters, an outlet design to attack any deviation from the hard left orthodoxy in the media, thinks that the PBS News Hour propagated confusion on climate change. We learn that something must be really terrifying here because Watts may have some vague connections with the Heartland Institute. What a horror! The Heartland Institute is a rather important and respected think tank and it may have been their idea to convince PBS to do a somewhat balanced piece.

For Skeptical Science and Dana 1981, it was a "PBS false balance hour". The article uses this context to parrot all the mandatory alarmist talking points or prayers or how I should exactly call this amazing junk. Desmogblog uses a similar terminology, "balance trap by providing megaphone to Anthony Watts".

For Daily Kos, the program was a public disservice showing how bad journalism can get.

Joe Romm of Think Progress thinks it was the worst climate story of the year. Doug Craig screams: Shame on PBS!

The Huffington Post summarizes these and other reactions by saying that the program "raised eyebrows".

You may want to read some of the reactions in their full glory. Lots of activists have clearly written angry e-mails to PBS. PBS acknowledged them and it has de facto apologized for the piece, by referring to their previous (alarmist) programs on the climate. They don't even dare to try to suggest that it was legitimate for PBS to invite a meteorologist who runs the world's most influential climate blog. At least, they allowed the host of the program, Spencer Michels, to "defend" himself. Kind of.

The degree of intolerance and fascism among the climate alarmists is just striking – I apologize to less radical fascists for the comparison. Well, after all, Michael Mann, in an interview for Scientific American, was dreaming about a future in which it is illegal to deny "climate change".

These people simply don't belong to the Western civilization with its traditions of freedom, democracy, and enlightenment. They belong to a medieval civilization controlled by ultimate cults that can never be questioned, divine entities and beliefs that have the right to create a whole hierarchy of power here on Earth. The similarity to the Islamic fundamentalists is particularly hard to overlook in these days when we see how both of these groups are terrified that someone is even allowed to talk about something.

And both of these groups fail to appreciate (or want to deny, in front of themselves) that there exists a whole world – the genuine Western world – that has no problems to flourish despite its disbelief in Allah or climate change.

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reader Jack Savage said...

Hear, Hear! This needs to be said loud and often.


reader physicsnut said...

i can only guess what the nuts at alternet would say about it.


reader lukelea said...

Their similarity to Maoist fundamentalists during China's anti-rightist campaigns in the 1950's and 60's is also striking.


reader Eugene S said...

Par for the course. Prof. Hans von Storch and three other climate scientists Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt (Google machine translation) just this month in a coordinated move resigned from a working group on adaptation to climate change in acatech, a German sci-tech think tank, because Vahrenholt published the bestselling book Die kalte Sonne (The Cold Sun), which focuses on the sun as a driver of earth's climate and contends that this factor is insufficiently accounted for by current climate models. Storch and his three confederates are so offended at this suggestion that they resigned from the group. Yet Prof. Storch likes to paint himself as a saintly figure, a centrist and moderate in the public debate over climate change.


reader HenryBowman419 said...

I don't know about European leftists, but at present American leftists (that is, Democrats) cannot stand to listen to opposing points of view, and they get particularly incenses when they hear such view on a network that they correctly think that they own.


reader Sage Basil said...

Speaking of ideologically-driven crusades, http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2012/09/19/scientists-your-gender-bias-is-showing/


reader A Siegel said...

Your post simply misrepresents. My post is listed first and there is nothing there that states PBS cannot have Watts on the show but that they failed by having put on the web a soft-ball question filled interview "without providing the casual viewer any context for understanding this self-proclaimed “skeptic”".


Actually, I laid out questions that would seem more appropriate, such as: "Essentially every scientific institution with relevant expertise is in consensus that humanity is driving climate change. Why should anyone trust you over the Royal Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and thousands of scientists working on the world on this?" Almost certainly, I would expect that you and your readers think that you have "the" answer as to why people should trust you rather than these scientific institutions. That question would have given Watts, at least, a chance to put that argument out there in front of a PBS audience for judgment by the larger world.


Since my post is your leading entry, it certainly merits highlighting that your claims about what was written/advocated are at odds with what is actually in the first post which you highlight.


reader kevin king said...

Lubos, we know that scientific honesty and integrity will win out in the end. I wouldn't worry too much about Anthony Watts...he's a big boy now and doing fine. But I guess it doesn't harm to show some solidarity now and then


reader LuisaDownUnder said...

One fact overlooked in this debate is that no one in their right mind denies climate change. Climate change is not the issue but once again we have taken up the leftist rhetoric and have forgotten that we are sceptical of anthropogenic global warming NOT climate change. They changed the playing field for their convenience and we marched right into it. Perhaps Anthony forgot to stress that it is AGW we are so heated over because we sure look silly if we deny 'climate change'.


reader LuisaDownUnder said...

No matter how many scientific institutes, relevant or otherwise, state that man is driving climate change it does not mean it is so. Don't you understand that 'consensus' is unscientific?
We do not say we have the answer to anything. We are not that arrogant. What we do say loudly and clearly is that until it is proven beyond lies and deceitful memes and ad hominem attacks that man is driving global warming, the debate should continue, robustly, and in every scientific journal, institute, University, television broadcast and print media.
Nor is it a question of who we should trust. All the readers of blog think for themselves. We DO know that the climate of the earth has changed over the past few billion years and will continue to change over the next few billion years. What we consider insulting is someone telling us that mankind has caused global warming, 'climate change', climate disruption or whatever moniker the IPCC digs up, and then tells us the debate is over, consensus has been reached, so shut up and go home.
What is the delusion you suffer when you suggest that people who disagree with what is now recorded as the greatest hoax in scientific history, Michael Mann's "The Hockey Stick" swindle, be called "skeptics"?
How do you know? The answer is: you do not know what drives our climate otherwise you would shrivel in shame at your lack of knowledge but more so at your lack of intellectual drive.


reader Luboš Motl said...

I haven't attributed to you personally what you claim that I have.


At any rate, even what you write here is outrageous. The reality - and the reality as understood by sane people e.g. the skeptics - *is* the context. And Watts isn't a "self-proclaimed" skeptic. He is a skeptic; I and millions of other people "proclaimed" him a skeptic but we really didn't have to because he is an obvious skeptic. And a skeptic without quotes around the word. All these extra lame words such as "self-proclaimed" and extra symbols such as the quotes are only meant to sling mud on people and demonize them. They are absolutely indefensible by any facts and that's why you are a hardcore fascist much like all of your soulmates.


PBS hasn't asked any hardball questions to Muller and others, either, so there doesn't exist any legitimate justification for asking hardball questions to Watts. The only explanation why you think that PBS should be asking hardball questions to Watts but not Muller is that you are a radical fucked-up fascist who would love to treat skeptics in the same way as the Nazis treated the Jews. There is absolutely no other explanation for your attitude.

"Essentially every scientific institution with relevant expertise is in consensus that humanity is driving climate change. Why should anyone trust you over the Royal Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and thousands of scientists working on the world on this?"

Of course that I have an equally hardball answer to this "hardball" question. People should trust me and not those in your list because I am more honest, impartial, and I dedicated a greater amount of IQ.hours of genuine unbiased research to these questions than any single person in your list. In comparison, the institutions you list are dominated by ideological hacks, corrupt assholes fighting for grants, opportunists, and cowards. Does it make sense, asshole?


PBS didn't ask questions of this sort because they can only lead to flamewars. Live with it, alarmists just don't have any credibility in the eyes of most scientists outside the politicized system. You can't regain the credibility by trying to intimidate others with political functions and institutions. It just doesn't work, asshole.


reader Luboš Motl said...

Of course I don't worry about Watts in person. I worry about many other, less powerful and more dependent people at various places who know what Anthony knows or they know more. I worry about everyone who may be negatively impacted on the policies meant to fight climate change - and even more shockingly, policies meant to fight the freedom of speech when it comes to the climate, too.


reader AA said...

Luboš,


you know better than me that various conspiracies are always popular, more so when they imply that everything is fine and nothing fundamental needs to be changed. So that is the primary reason, why Watts is popular.... cheers,


Alex


reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear AA, you are misunderstanding the term "conspiracy". A conspiracy, by definition, always means (the opinion) that something is not fine.


reader A Siegel said...

Impressive, you make claims to having rights to claim "outrageous" when you engage with terms like "radical fucked-up fascist" and "asshole" and ...


Thank you for that demonstration of rational and civilized engagement demonstrating the absurdity and hypocrisy of your outrage.


reader Luboš Motl said...

I have never claimed that I wanted to have a rational and civilized engagement with the likes of you; indeed, individuals like you should only be treated if one has a fun in his head.


I was saying that PBS was supposed to engage in a rational and civilized conversation with people who actually know enough about the climate debate.


reader MikeN said...

It is a deliberate strategy to attack media outlets in this way. ClimateSight is run by one of the younger SS authors and has described tactics in the past of contacting newspapers every time a skeptic viewpoint is mentioned.


reader Rehbock said...

The real extremist is one who refuses to listen to others beliefs. Dr motl came to my attention through link from Peter woit. I read rational analysis by one who constantly questions answers. Some on. Left right and any other direction of politics would do well to listen to that which free speech gives opportunity. The truth will win in open debate. I am one of those who would not have heard had ones like motl were not due. Western civilization at my fingertip.


reader papertiger0 said...

Essentially every scientific institution with relevant expertise is in consensus that humanity is driving climate change. Why should anyone trust you over the Royal Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and thousands of scientists working on the world on this?




Let's say we're talking about gravity. Gravity has a name associated with it, Newton. A real person who didn't prove his finding with a political statement.
Same with the expanding universe, Hubble.
The Heisenberg principle.
The Pauli exclusion. The Zeeman effect. The Dirac equation. The Fourier transform. The Bohr magneton. The Gaussian unit. The Maxwell equation. Coulomb's law.
Ohm's law. Faraday's constant.
And so on and so on and so on.


All of the true progresses made in science are named after an individual who made the breakthrough except in global warming theory.


Only in global warming theory is it suddenly important what this fraternity or that club thinks about the issue, usually decided after a show of hands.


Her is video of the DNC "deciding" on the inclusion of God in their platform, and the existence of the Israel capitol, Jerusalem.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aG6qgSfaARE



I imagine that it's a fairly representative model of how the Royal academy of science, and National academy of science "proved" global warming theory


reader Owen_Morgan said...

Your equation of climate-extremism and islamo-fascism is exactly right. Neither will hear reason. Both would prefer to suppress reason altogether. The climate-lunatics haven't cut any heads off, so far, or blown up any embassies, but they certainly have far more lives on their hands, thanks to such "initiatives" as "biofuels".


reader Jonathan Frodsham said...

Well said to a real asshole.


reader Whatmenaresayingaboutwomen Jay said...

I find it fascinating that the hysterics are all making claims like the public has not heard about the Global Warming Hoax and that all this is new information. They fail once again to comprehend that studies are showing that CAGW is at the bottom of the list of interest and yet they make claim that are totally irrational and unrealistic. They truly are a confused lot. Fascinating to, is the fact that PBS has never before put any "realists" on their programs before and even now they are apologising for showing a reasonable argued program on the overall hoax.
Their endless screaming about Watts shows that they want total and complete control over any information regarding the Weather and only they should continue to control the narrative. It is pure and unadulterated Marxism and Media control they are after. They are not interested in telling the truth or looking at any information regarding alternative scientific fact or information. They are that pathetic and that overcome with religious zeal.