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IPCC, dogma, heretics, and Judith Curry

Science journalist Michael Lemonick published an article in Scientific American yesterday:

Climate Heretic: Judith Curry Turns on Her Colleagues
What a title. Roger Pielke Sr thinks that the article is very informative but it is not too hard to imagine how Judith Curry who is being discussed in this way has to feel.

Curry replied to Lemonick's article on her blog:
Heresy and the creation of monsters
She explains that her description as a heretic to be excommunicated from the IPCC says more about the IPCC than about herself. Well, indeed, dictionaries show that heresy is a change of beliefs that conflicts with a religious or similar dogma. So first of all, there must be a dogma - and then you can have heretics.




Curry reacted to the ClimateGate in a different way than the typical colleagues. They wanted to protect their interests while she worried about the integrity of the field. You know, I disagree with many opinions of hers for similar reasons why I disagree with the socialism with a human face. ;-)

But to say the least, she still has a human face. In any sensible scientific discipline, her attitudes would be a template of the ultimate moderate perspective on controversial issues. She would be the prototype of the "glue" that holds the community together. The fact that in the climate science, her totally "centrist" opinions - and her "sin" of having interacted with the "infidels" - are enough to promote her to a heretic says something about the discipline, indeed.

In some sense, as several well-informed commenters clarify in the comment thread, it is not unusual for religious cults to attack former faithful members. Apostates - those who used to belong to the community but who have left the organization and abandoned its dogmas - are often hated more viscerally than the full-fledged outsiders - who are on par with ordinary animals, and please accept this fact, dear fellow deniers. ;-) And Judith Curry has become one such target. It is easy to see glimpses of evidence that Curry has acquired supernatural abilities from the sect's viewpoint - she has become a monster. For example, Lemonick writes:
What scientists worry is that such exposure means Curry has the power to do damage to a consensus on climate change that has been building for the past 20 years.
Just like one SUV can bring deadly droughts to three continents by 2055, Judith Curry can easily make a spell that destroys 20 years of research. ;-) (By the way, in science, as long as it is science, it is indeed possible to show that 20 years or 250 years of research or prevailing opinions have been wrong. Haven't you ever heard of examples, Mr Lemonick? Pretty much any important enough advance in science is such an example.)

So if you thought that Curry used the word "monster" for the IPCC, you're wrong: she "is" the monster herself. It's not just Lemonick who spreads this meme: Joseph Romm and others have made more brutal attacks on Dr Curry for her relatively small deviations from the "dogma".

These AGW crusaders are just insane. In this context, I can't forget some pretty insightful lectures about religions and scapegoats that Peter Thiel, the PayPal billionaire, the first big Facebook investor, and the most skillful venture capitalist in the world, gave us in Nice more than four months ago.

According to Thiel, scapegoats are an essential part of a big portion of religions and their dynamics usually shares some general features, too. The scapegoat is usually not the natural "biggest enemy". It must be someone who is mostly an insider and who marginally differs from others - in a way that people can easily and instinctively observe. The person is being demonized and made responsible for all kinds of things that the religious community doesn't like.

At the end, the scapegoat may be sacrificed and after the sacrifice, he or she may even become a savior in memorian. ;-) In this new form, he or she can hold concentrated positive abilities just like he or she was previously holding the negative ones. Thiel has clearly thought about these issues in quite some detail. Sorry that I can't reproduce the whole lecture exactly here: he (or they) may soon publish a book about these matters. And don't be scared, Dr Curry. We will stop them in time. :-)

We should read texts like those of Dr Curry because it's useful to have some understanding for how the people like her think - because even though her opinions may sometimes sound as an excessively diluted tea, people like her will eventually play a decisive role in qualitative changes of the atmosphere surrounding the climate science (or the climate religion).

You may check her blog and see that her unusually honest writing about these issues attracts some people in the Academia who could otherwise be classified as members of the silent majority.



The North America cooled in this decade



Steven Goddard shows James Hansen's NASA GISS graphs of the temperature change between 2000 and 2009. You see that Central Europe has seen no change while most (larger Western part) of the North America cooled by more than 0.5 °C. The bulk of Alaska even cooled by more than 1 °C in the decade.

Other places on the globe warmed. The places that cooled down and those that warmed up are pretty much balanced. Parts of the Arctic show a "dramatic" warming but it is also one of the least reliable parts of their datasets.

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