## Friday, May 14, 2010

### New Scientist: Age of Denial

WUWT was the first sensible source to notice that Nude Socialist has jumped the shark once again (and recently they've been doing almost nothing else): the whole new issue is dedicated to "climate deniers" (and, more generally, some other "deniers").

After the scientific giants such as Garrett Lisi, Marcelo Gleiser, and Lee Smolin with their deep and likely "mainstream" theories of everything and nothing (who deny that there are any symmetries, laws of physics, or theorems - but they're surely not deniers, are they? They are so liberal!) were given most of the attention in the previous issues, it's great to be a part of a community described by this "prestigious" and "scientific" magazine. :-)

Among seven articles about the "denialists", there is even one written by our "friend". Michael Fitzpatrick says that the "deniers" shouldn't be called names because they deserve as much respect as those who think that HIV doesn't cause AIDS. ;-) Thank you so much for your generosity, Mr Fitzpatrick.

It's simply amazing how much self-confidence these individuals whose skulls are self-evidently flooded with by-products of the digestive tract and who are obviously 40 IQ points and the equivalent of 10 years of education beneath many of us can gain just by seeing many other individuals who suffer from the very same condition. Here's a short list of this journalistic cesspool:
Living in denial: special report: introduction to the nice articles
When a skeptic isn't a skeptic by Michael Shermer
Why sensible people reject the truth by Debora MacKenzie
How corporation manufacture doubt by Richard DeSmogBlog Littlemore Thanoneshit
Unleashing a lie by Jim Giles
Questioning science isn't blasphemy by Michael Fitzpatrick
The truth is our only weapon by Michael Shermer
Most of Britain now underwater: skeptics keeping it secret
During communism, the official totalitarian newspapers would sometimes publish hit pieces against Havel and other dissidents, with some (partially true) comments about his friendship with alcohol, lots of negative emotions, intimidation of anyone who would dare to agree with him about anything, and some hugely misleading remarks about the links between his family and the Nazis.

But I don't remember a special issue of such a big magazine that would be wholly dedicated to slinging mud at the ideological opposition. These AGW guys seem much more obsessed and fanatical than the communists used to be and I am inclined to believe that if the likes of Mr Littlemore managed to get real power, they would kill many more people than Stalin did.

It's sad that genuine science can't register the "Scientist" trademark so that these individuals' lies could be de facto legally terminated.

1. Whatever do you bother mentioning Nude Socialist content for?

There's no content in their pages worth mentioning, nor within the pages of that ghastly joke, Socialistic American.

2. I am really bothered by the death of good science journalism.

I used to subscribe to several popular science magazines including Scientific American, New Scientist, and Discover. But over time their tone changed. They lost their curiosity, willingness to admit they may be wrong and skepticism and became preachy and political. One-by-one I dropped them even long before I became an AGW skeptic.

Its damn annoying what these people have done to science.

3. The difference between a skeptic and a denialist is a skeptic wants to know the truth whereas a denialist is willing to lie, fabricate data, misrepresent the conventional viewpoint in order to support their ideaological agenda. Science is organised skepticism and there are scientists who publish in the peer reviewed literature who question AGW. However they have not been able provide a better explanation of experimental observations than the pro AGW camp. Of course AGW scientists appear arrogant. Not only are they becoming more certain of their ideas but they have increasing amounts of evidence to back up what they are saying. If you are a true skeptic and really are interesting in finding out the truth then get involved in the science for yourself. Does elevated CO2 really cause ocean acidification? Does CO2 trap heat? does it cause plants to produce more toxins and less protien? These are simple experiments to do. Try them yourself.

4. Dear sean,

a "denier" could ideally mean the negative, immoral features you mentioned. But that's not how the term "denier" has been used in the context of climatology.

Quite on the contrary, the deniers have been the only honest and impartial people while pretty much every player in this debate who hasn't been called the denier was a liar who has cherry-picked or directly fabricated data, facts, and who relied on physical intimidation rather than objective evidence.

Your comments about CO2 may be classified as cherry-picking. CO2 contributes to negative pH changes of the ocean and to the temperature, and in some contexts, it may also add toxins into metabolism or whatever, but these things are by lots of orders of magnitude smaller than the other impacts that you are hiding and that are predominantly positive. Most importantly, the plant growth and satisfaction is nearly proportional to the CO2 concentration. Benefits for all other life forms on Earth follow because everyone indirectly relies on the well-being of plants.

But even this impact on the plants is by several orders of magnitude smaller than the positive impact of CO2-producing fuels on the life of the mankind. Without them, we would literally return to the Stone Age. All the infinitesimal impacts you are quoting are completely negligible in comparison - and their "sign" (whether they're good or bad for us and for life) is either positive and uncertain in all cases.

To summarize, what is a lie is that the additional CO2 is doing something harmful to the Earth as a whole. Whoever claims that CO2 is harmful is analogous to the holocaust proponents who were saying similar things about the Jews, and the only reason why the skeptics haven't emphasized this similarity between Nazis and AGW proponents is that the typical climate skeptics are highly diplomatic people.

Best wishes
Lubos

5. Lumo,
A scientists oppinion is no better than anyone elses if experiments contradict it. if you want the truth DO THE EXPERIMENTS!! pH is on a log scale which means tiny changes in CO2 lead to big changes in acidity (again dont believe me, TRY IT! bicarb soda and vinegar will make the CO2 you need). As for returning us to the stone age it is the burning of fossil fuels which is argueable doing that. Where does oil come from? - the scientific explanation is that is the result of dead algae buried for millions of years. This algae was grown in hot acidic oceans which existed for brief periods in the earths past (known as the Permian-Triassic extinction 250 million years ago). Why were the waters hot and acidic? Geological evidence tells us that this was probably because of a massive natural disaster that occurred at the time. Supervolcanic eruptions at the time would have led to a huge increase in atmospheric CO2. This led to warming and CO2 rich oceans which provided the ideal growth conditions for algae and led to the biggest mass extinction in earths history with ~96% of speices lost). Eventually the algae was able to absorb all the CO2 and as the algae died, settled on the seafloor and was buried the carbon was locked up and the earth returned to normal (albeit with a whole new set of species). So will burning the oil bring back the hothouse conditions which exited then. I guess we are are doing a big experiment on the earth. It will be interesting to see what happens.

6. I presume that your last paragraph's proposal to end the lives of New Scientist reporters is a typographical error, and you meant to say "end the lies".
Of course, if I'm right, such a termination by copyright would be "De jure", not "De facto".
I regret the demise of the true New Scientist, replaced by this shambling zombie which conflates opinion and evidence, confuses models with data, and ignores science in favour of politics and irrational economics. There's a wide-open market niche for a magazine that reports on science. I'm certainly keen to subscribe to such a magazine.
My preferred editor would be Nigel Calder, if we could coax him to take the job. I suspect Nigel was the Editor to whom Richard Dawkins attributed the saying "We think science is interesting, and if you don't agree, fuck off". So say we all.