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« Hard hitting at the Times | Main | Knock me down »
Tuesday
May132014

Denial - it's not about the science

In an interesting development, Bob Ward has explained on Twitter what he means when he calls someone a "denier". In response to a question from David Rose he explained that he used the terms with respect to GWPF because:

It denies the risks indicated by the scientific evidence in order to justify its ideological opposition to GHG cuts.

So interestingly, denial now seems not to refer to anything to do with radiative physics or climate sensitivity or any of the nitty gritty that so preoccupies us here in the climate blogosphere. It's something to do with risks and perhaps their perception.

Bob is now desperately trying to justify his new claim, suggesting that we read Nigel Lawson's Standpoint essay for evidence that he denies that there are risks associated with greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, Lawson begins his discussion of impacts by saying that:

There are plainly both advantages and disadvantages from a warmer temperature, and these will vary from region to region depending to some extent on the existing temperature in the region concerned.

I remember ribbing Bob a year or so ago about the fact that he kept linking to papers that turned out not to support the case he was trying to make. It seemed to be a case of him thinking "if I link to something weighty-looking nobody will check". After this he was a bit more careful. His citation of Lawson therefore represents something of a reversion to type.

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Reader Comments (41)

"Denier" has never been anything more than a catch-all term of abuse.

May 13, 2014 at 9:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

It's as though they're running the alarmist campaign like spin-doctors run elections, with strict instructions to follow certain themes as enunciated from the centre. I give you this from Richard Betts yesterday on Unthreaded:

"... responding to climate change is all about attitude to risk."

It might be, just might, that it's gotten through to them that the sceptic position is basically agnostic about global warming and the constant barrage of upcoming disasters is having no effect on the general public, so they have now switched to an unquantifiable "risk" strategy. Risk is a dimensionless concept, so one can apply notions of "high confidence" to a risk without having to quanify.

They're not going to persuade me that they can see into the future and I leave you with an observation from Thomas Macaulay in 1830, which I would enjoin all climate scientists to take on board.

"On what principle is it that, when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us? "

May 13, 2014 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

They make it up as they go along.

May 13, 2014 at 10:08 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

"Denial"?
Thought it was a river in Africa.
(Sorry, but it makes at least as much sense as the rest.)

May 13, 2014 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Bates

"Thomas Macaulay in 1830, which I would enjoin all climate scientists to take on board.

"On what principle is it that, when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us? " "

And is he not the very same Macaulay who gave us:

"But those behind cried 'Forward!' And those before cried 'Back!'"

May 13, 2014 at 10:14 AM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Very well done David Rose for forcing Bob Ward to be more explicit. I've long felt 'denial' was the achilles heel of what Robin Guenier calls the cultic aspects of AGW. So dark it was bound to rebound on those that use it in the end.

May 13, 2014 at 10:31 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

"But those behind cried 'Forward!' And those before cried 'Back!'"

The very same rhoda, I believe it was a prescient reference to the behaviour of climate change alarmists.

May 13, 2014 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Well, we are all deniers although the thing we are denying is to be defined after the fact. It's a flexible definitionm but be assured the epithet will always apply.

Now, I am in fact denying the degree of risk. I observe that CAGW fits a profile of scare stories which have previously excited those of an emotional tendency.

I note that I am NOT inflicted with endemic AIDS to go with my salmonella and Creuzfeld-Jacobs disease. I note that the glaciers have not returned to Milton Keynes nor has my skin been burned off by unrestrained UV or sulphuric acid in the rain. All those trees seem to have made it too, save those destroyed by natural causes. No nuclear winter happened either. Or SARS, or swine flu, so far.

These scare stories have a trajectory, amply described by Booker and North in 'Scared to Death'. This one is on the downside, but as B&N observe the regulations and stupidities go on after the scare is forgotten.


I deny the degree of risk. I ask for a little more proof. Can we have that debate now?

May 13, 2014 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

"Denial" = 'elistist' = 'racist' = 'fascist' = "anything we don't like/approve of". To see educated men using the boo/hurray language of the mob is dispiriting to say the least.

May 13, 2014 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered Commenterbill

I wish the media would comprehend that it is morally worse to deny the risk of making energy more expensive and scarce based on now-discredited models and in the face of ever-increasing demand.

May 13, 2014 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

rhoda
Thomas Babbington Macaulay The Lays of Ancient Rome, My mother (born 1911) learnt these (and many other poems) by heart as a school girl and she used to recite them to us boys instead of reading bedtime stories. I loved Horatius a gory tale for small boys to enjoy. I relation to CAGW/ACC/Climate Weirding I like these verses.

First the prophets (of doom in our case)

There be thirty chosen prophets, the wisest of the land,
Who always by Lars Porsena both morn and evening stand:
Evening and morn the Thirty have turned the verses o'er,
Traced from the right on linen white by mighty seers of yore;

And with one voice the Thirty have their glad answer given:
"Go forth, go forth, Lars Porsena! Go forth, beloved of Heaven!
Go, and return in glory to Clusium's round dome,
And hang round Nurscia's altars the golden shields of Rome."

Then the deniers (chose your own denying three)

Then out spoke brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate:
"To every man upon this earth, death cometh soon or late;
And how can man die better than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods,

And for the tender mother who dandled him to rest,
And for the wife who nurses his baby at her breast,
And for the holy maidens who feed the eternal flame,
To save them from false Sextus, that wrought the deed of shame?

Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul, with all the speed ye may!
I, with two more to help me, will hold the foe in play.
In yon strait path, a thousand may well be stopped by three:
Now, who will stand on either hand and keep the bridge with me?'

I can still remember large parts of our favourites, very happy memories for me.

May 13, 2014 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

OK. I admit that I deny that Bob Ward has any credibility....

May 13, 2014 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterKeith L

Rhoda
a quick PS.
I meant to add the nothing much changes with regard to the 30 advisers/prophets.

May 13, 2014 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Wow, this topic has drawn out the insect that normally only scuttles out when it's dark. Does that make Bob Ward the hive leader? Protect the queen, protect the queen!

May 13, 2014 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

This thread currently has some responses from a troll who is always surgically removed by the host but they make the same argument as Chandra two days ago. Here's what I said in return then:

You start with explicit comparisons with holocaust deniers. You move on, slyly, to justify the term if a person can be said to deny anything you hold dear, however unsound. But the allusion to holocaust deniers remains, like a dark stain. It's disgusting. One day people will feel the same way about this as they currently do about 'nigger' said with contempt to a black man. Utterly unimpressed.

I will come back to this in greater detail on my discussion thread Denying the science. I've always felt it's deserved attention because with 'deniers' the high priests of the CAGW cult raised the stakes high indeed. Black seeds of their own destruction.

May 13, 2014 at 11:12 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

In other news The Greens have upset UKIP:

http://metro.co.uk/2014/05/12/the-tweet-police-officers-ask-blogger-to-remove-ukip-jibe-after-eurosceptic-party-complains-4725809/

Quote from Natalie Bennett:

"That an apparently general complaint from a political party about not liking what was said about them could have led to a police visit that many would find intimidating is an extremely serious incident that demands immediate investigation. Free speech is a precious right we must defend."


The irony is almost funny; the hypocrisy is not - free speech as long as you don't disagree with their climate policy, given the green party attempts to have so called Climate Sceptics silenced.

May 13, 2014 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

"risks and perhaps their perception"

There... is the rub - the likes of Ward use their distorted perceptions to try and foist their tortured ideology complete with totems onto us all, across long standing political divides. Continually ignoring the detail bits of evidence that don't fit their catechism, trying to vilify dissent at every turn, spreading unsubstantiated FUD and contrived, overblown scary stuff, squawking endlessly....

The man is a salaried clown

May 13, 2014 at 11:33 AM | Registered Commentertomo

The D word may be offensive but I hope you will all back me to get N removed from the periodic table.

May 13, 2014 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndy Scrase

Tiny CO2

Wow, this topic has drawn out the insect that normally only scuttles out when it's dark.

I think that should be insects, ZDB is the login of a bunch of eco-nuts.

May 13, 2014 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

This is good news. The BBC may be able to claim that they can't find any credible opponents to the scientific consensus to interview, but they can hardly claim that there are no credible deniers, if by that is meant people who don't share Bob Ward's opinions about likely risks.
Aren't we supposed to admire risk takers? Risk-taking is manly and Thatcherite, while precaution is for softies and socialists. Who's going to be the first redblooded denier invited onto the Today Programme to kick sand in Bob Ward's face?

May 13, 2014 at 11:43 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I suspect that, like most people, Bbb Ward does not understand what risk is. Risk is the product of the probability and the consequence. So what is the risk from climate change? Not a lot unless we are talking about a cooling climate.

May 13, 2014 at 11:49 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

This is becoming increasingly like the situation envisaged in Sellar & Yeatman's wonderful 1066 and All That

Gladstone .. spent his declining years trying to guess the answer to the Irish Question; unfortunately, whenever he was getting warm, the Irish secretly changed the Question, ...”
or the hackneyed cheap thriller plot where the baddies have the goodies chasing pointlessly from A to B to C after some chimera or other while they carry on doing their thing.
The big question is when will they over-reach themselves and either Bruce Willis or Clint Eastwood will catch up with them and expose their evil deeds.
The idea that we can do anything practical to alleviate whatever risks may be associated with climate change, assuming (a) that such risks warrant action and (b) that on balance the downside outweighs the upside and always assuming that (c) the climate is changing in any meaningful way if at all is pure fantasy born of nothing but a combination of hubris, egotism, and greed.

May 13, 2014 at 11:59 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Bob who?

May 13, 2014 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpartacusisfree

It denies the risks indicated by the scientific evidence

So there is no explicit statement of risks anywhere.
in order to justify its ideological opposition to GHG cuts.

But a person who "denies" the risks might do so from not understanding the subliminal messages within the scientific evidence. However, with Bob Ward, the Denier-Finder General, we can be assured that such distinctions will be accurately made.

May 13, 2014 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

Geoff:

This is good news. The BBC may be able to claim that they can't find any credible opponents to the scientific consensus to interview, but they can hardly claim that there are no credible deniers, if by that is meant people who don't share Bob Ward's opinions about likely risks.

Very well put.

Aren't we supposed to admire risk takers? Risk-taking is manly and Thatcherite, while precaution is for softies and socialists. Who's going to be the first redblooded denier invited onto the Today Programme to kick sand in Bob Ward's face?

One of the many ironies of Thatcherism is that the lady herself was highly risk-averse, which is why she survived so long, until she didn't take the cautionary advice of a young man called Nigel Lawson on the introduction of the Poll Tax. At least that's one way to tell the story.

But the challenge here for Today, Newsnight and the rest is just as you say. Open season. Thanks Bob.

May 13, 2014 at 12:55 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

If the English language won't help confirm Alarmists Dogma.
- they try to change the meaning of the language.

2. Shouting "denier" is PROJECTION.. so it means Bob Ward knows he is denying something

May 13, 2014 at 1:02 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

TBH I couldn't care if someone calls me a denier - I don't particularly associate the word with holocaust denial. I just question what it is I'm supposed to be denying.

May 13, 2014 at 1:10 PM | Unregistered Commentertimheyes

rhoda

"Creuzfeld-Jacobs disease"

I was recently asked by my ENT consultant, while discussing hay-fever, if I had CJD. I was too surprised to reply "well, you tell me" but he went on to say that there was a 25-year incubation period and he had to ask. I wonder if Lord Gummer of the Beefburger knows..?

May 13, 2014 at 1:19 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Bah, humbug! There are some who appear, albeit briefly, on this site who display – in spades! – that they have no idea what is actually meant by “denial”. Would Bob … whatever … refuse to review a submitted paper because it had not been peer-reviewed? Interesting idea, as there does seem to be a lot of that mentality around.

May 13, 2014 at 1:44 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Bob Ward wrote:

... ideological opposition to GHG cuts

A sin of omission? Opposition to *state mandated* GHG cuts. I expect GWPF would be fairly relaxed if mankind was reducing its GHG emissions through competition, innovation and increases in efficiency within free or relatively free economies.

May 13, 2014 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

timheyes, have you ever read something like this from a black person?

TBH I couldn't care if someone calls me a nigger - I don't particularly associate the word with extreme racism like lynchings of young blacks in the Deep South. I just question what it is I'm supposed to be 'blacker' than.

Why do you think that is? Has it perhaps something to do with the intention of many past users of the term? Doesn't that objective fact make it irrelevant what an individual referred to today makes of it, however stoic their attitude may seem?

May 13, 2014 at 2:10 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

I know more take notice of what Bob’s has to say on this subject , than I would on what a dog has to say about politics.
One of the wonders of all of this , is why Bob ‘fast fingers ‘ Ward continues to pick up his pay cheque considering how bad he is at his job , which is the end spinning for his pay master and smearing others. Now he is employed by a very rich man, whose is hopping to ride AGW to even greater riches. But you expect he would look at Bob’s performance to see that he is in fact PP , given support for ‘the cause ‘ is only going backwards outside the ‘faithful’
That the Independent tried to sell him has a climate expert and claim he was being ‘picked on ‘ was hilarious, they could have been more wrong if they had tried to be .

May 13, 2014 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

May 13, 2014 at 2:10 PM | Richard Drake

I'm not sure that use of the words "nigger" and "denier" are morally equivalent but I understand your point and did not intend my comment to suggest that others should not be offended by "denier".

I'm not offended just as I would not be offended by someone calling me 'moslem' or 'French'. I would just find it bizarre as I'm neither.

May 13, 2014 at 2:43 PM | Unregistered Commentertimheyes

It's like "as-h-le." Completely non-specific and just about the worst thing they can call you in theoretically polite society. When people start losing a debate they generally resort to name-calling out of frustration. Ward knows this term signifies the Holocaust in the minds of most people, and although he might deny (there's that word again) it, that's why he uses it. But the word is non-specific enough that they can, (yes, here's that word again) deny that is their intent.

Often people who are thusly labeled take on the epithet as a badge of honor. Rather like, "you're damn right I'm a denier; I deny that the science is sufficiently settled that we should be spending trillions on mitigation in the form of idiotic windmills and and other such nonsense. I deny that speculation on trends is an acceptable form of science if it is used to inform policy." As it mocks the use of term, perhaps we should consider it. "Deniers Unchained," and all that.

May 13, 2014 at 3:35 PM | Registered Commenterpottereaton

My post further up should have been :


Bob Ward wrote:

... ideological opposition to GHG cuts

A sin of omission? Opposition to *state mandated* GHG cuts. I expect GWPF would be fairly relaxed if mankind was reducing its GHG emissions through competition, innovation and increases in efficiency within free or relatively free economies.

But I fudged the blockquote.

May 13, 2014 at 5:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

knr May 13, 2014 at 2:21 PM
[...] One of the wonders of all of this , is why Bob ‘fast fingers ‘ Ward continues to pick up his pay cheque considering how bad he is at his job , which is the end spinning for his pay master and smearing others. Now he is employed by a very rich man, whose is hopping to ride AGW to even greater riches. But you expect he would look at Bob’s performance to see that he is in fact PP , given support for ‘the cause ‘ is only going backwards outside the ‘faithful’ [...]

My question also. I suppose that we should be grateful though. Like 'Stoat' and certain others who pop up from time to time, Bob repels more people than he attracts. He's the gift that keeps on giving.

May 13, 2014 at 6:24 PM | Unregistered Commenter3x2

Ecofascists use 'denier' because they are too thick to spell 'untermensch'.

It makes them sound like the quasi-religious nuts they really are.

Like all artificial labels it will eventually take on its implicit objective meaning regardless of what the zealots who coined it want it to mean. 'Denier' just means rational/reasonable/sane, etc.

May 13, 2014 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJake Haye

Re: UKIP - police visit to Greens campaigner.

Actually, this was a serious point. The Greenie had mocked up a fake UKIP poster, that could have been taken for a real poster by voters. This is clearly contrary to UK election law, and deserves a caution.

R

May 13, 2014 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterralf ellis

Pottereaton, Jake Haye:
Well said. It's a point I used to make over and over at Kommentmachtfrei (Guardian Environment) every time a potential victory of the sceptic argument was derailed by an argument over the d-word.
Insults have always been adopted as badges of honour. “Whig” “Tory” and “Quaker” all started out as insults, as did “Old Contemptibles” (other examples please?) Lindzen in Durkin's “Global Warming Swindle” film says with a smile that he has no objection to being described as a denier, a remark which is given added zest by his Jewish origins.
Richard Drake is surely right about the intention behind the expression, but there are more important things at stake than the pathetic efforts of the minions of the mighty to upset us. Use of the term “denier” is just trolling. Ignore it.

May 13, 2014 at 8:10 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Noted that he is trying to define opposition as "ideological" which is either projection or propaganda.

On another point, talking of election law, was anything done about the idiot who video'd himself setting fire to a UKIP banner, also an offense under election law, not to mention it's arson.

May 13, 2014 at 10:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

Indeed you have hit the nail on the head there "Bish" with your Thor-like Hammer of Truth !

Lord Lawson did recently expound his views at a lecture,
and the Standpoint article is based on the text of that.

See the Full Lecture which I found on YouTube.
A Cool Look at Global Warming - Nigel Lawson
www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0QTkYjwtFA
10 May 2014 - 88 min

Jun 5, 2014 at 3:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterMemory Hole

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