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« Scientivism Media Centre on Bengtsson | Main | First Amendment versus the University of Queensland »
Friday
May162014

The bigotry of the consensus

The Bengtsson affair continues to generate outrage from normal people and a curious mix of insanity and bigotry from upholders of the global warming consensus.

The story is being widely reported in the MSM as well as on news aggregators like Drudge. The Times has an important new angle:

In an echo of the infamous “Climategate” scandal at the University of East Anglia, one of the world’s top academic journals rejected the work of five experts after a reviewer privately denounced it as “harmful”.

...

Professor Bengtsson’s paper ... suggested that the climate might be much less sensitive to greenhouse gases than had been claimed by the IPCC in its report last September, and recommended that more work be carried out “to reduce the underlying uncertainty”.

...

A scientist asked by the journal to assess the paper under the peer review process wrote that he strongly advised against publishing it because it was “less than helpful”.

The unnamed scientist concluded: “Actually it is harmful as it opens the door for oversimplified claims of ‘errors’ and worse from the climate sceptics media side.”

Meanwhile, this is the response of Bart Verheggen:

Would it be McCarthyism if evolutionary biologists expressed dismay about a colleague joining the Creationist Institute?

It's amazing when you think about it: Verheggen is in essence saying that if you disagree with him about climate sensitivity (which is in essence the only scientific difference between him and GWPF) then you are equivalent to a creationist. If ever someone damned themselves out of their own mouths as a close-minded bigot then this is it.

And he is in good (if that's the correct term) company. Peter Gleick's view is this:

Sailor joins flat earth society; doesn't understand why shipmates won't sail with him?

...while Roddy Campbell points us to the charming views of Andrew Dessler:

Lennart Bengtsson resigns from @TheGWPF. He seems confused, which is consistent with him joining in the first place. That's emeritus!

And Graham Linehan, a much-followed woolly-liberal commentator has this to say:

Aren't Times journalists embarrassed? It's like they're still publishing David Irving. A proud history of denialism they've got going there

These people have completely lost the plot. Their minds are so closed that there is nowhere for the conspiracy theories to get out.

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Reader Comments (57)

This week has been a very bizarre week in the climate department.
On a positive note, cats have been fending off child mauling dogs, so I try to keep upbeat, despite the odds

May 16, 2014 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndy Scrase

and a casual ageist smear by Andrew Dressler, a Texas climate scientist
http://atmo.tamu.edu/profile/ADessler

Andrew Dessler ‏@AndrewDessler
Lennart Bengtsson resigns from @TheGWPF. He seems confused, which is consistent with him joining in the first place. That's emeritus!

https://twitter.com/AndrewDessler/status/467100118844321792

I wonder if the scientists at #climate2014 (in Exeter today) will be standing up for Bengtsson's (considerable) reputation

he is currently still publishing papers at Reading University, Meteorology
http://www.met.reading.ac.uk/users/users/1788

previously
Director, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, 1991 - 2000
Director, European Centre for Medium Range Forecasts, 1982 - 1990
Deputy Director and Head of Research, European Centre for Medium Range Forecasts 1976 - 1981
Member of an interim planning staff for establishing the European Centre for Medium Range Forecasts, 1974 - 1975

http://www.mpimet.mpg.de/en/mitarbeiter/lennart-bengtsson/curriculum.html

an interview:
http://www.nerc-essc.ac.uk/~olb/PAPERS/len15.pdf

May 16, 2014 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

All the fetid analogies lead back to holocaust denial. All for a difference over climate sensitivity - and perhaps, going by recent reading, over how much extreme events have been affected by warming, where Lawson and the GWPF hold the same view as IPCC AR5. But the Times article - and Ridley's op-ed in the same issue, entitled This bullying of climate-science sceptics must end - is on the money. With the Mail also telling the Bengtsson story as it is we have more choice than normal in the MSM and online world. Want to join those who use hate speech against their opponents on the level of the n-word for blacks in a effort to shut down debate? Or those who want to argue from the evidence and choose policies that will protect the poorest in society? It shouldn't be hard for someone of left-wing persuasion to decide - or of any honest persuasion.

May 16, 2014 at 10:11 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Roddy Campbell and Andrew Dessler seemed to be implying that Bengtsson is senile. Ageism is obviously completely acceptable in the circles in which they move. However sceptics should not complain too much about their views or those of Verheggen, Gleick and Linehan. Such people damage their own cause.

Give them enough rope and ...

[BH adds: Roddy's retweet certainly wouldn't imply endorsement. He's no alarmist]

May 16, 2014 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

The ability to use long words does not, in itself, make anyone any less a barbarian.

May 16, 2014 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagleblog

Would it be McCarthyism if evolutionary biologists expressed dismay about a colleague joining the Creationist Institute?
I think he has that the wrong way around; it should be:
Would it be McCarthyism if creationist biologists expressed dismay about a colleague joining the Evolutionary Institute?
Certainly the “science is settled” group (aka “creationists”) are constantly contradicting themselves by asking for more money for further research in “settled” science.

May 16, 2014 at 10:15 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Some twitter comments about #climate2014 suggest it's a meeting of reality deniers indeed. Their own.

Somebody even suggested they go around with an "ask me anything" badge. In truth, I did ask Tamsin when she would reach retirement age...you know, so that I know how long to wait before she can speak freely...

ps Bengtsson's accusations in The Times aren't as important as the fact that the narrative is turning. Just look at the amount of alarmist rubbish the same newspaper has been publishing in the past few years.

May 16, 2014 at 10:15 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

pps any news from Gavin on where and when the GWPF acted in bad faith? Likewise I suggest to ask the anti-Bengtsson cretins which GWPF statement is analogous to creationism or flat-earth belief.

The best way to get the liar, is to ask for specifics. Expect no response.

May 16, 2014 at 10:17 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Peer review at its best. A lifetime of published papers ... flushed!

May 16, 2014 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

Let the alarmists keep digging. Hand them more shovels.

Meanwhile the BBC gives it scant coverage, it only appearing in its coverage of the papers.

May 16, 2014 at 10:24 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

They don't like it up 'em is the short answer. For years the playing field has been tilted in scientivists favour: promoting feeble alarmist claims, feeble stories about "bullying" of climate scientists etc, etc, all repetitive, self serving, going nowhere but supporting the bien pensant mindset.

I suggest that the constant droning whining from from pompous blowhard campaigners to the herd has eventually allowed a story like this the space.

I would say the ground has been prepared for a realignment.

Though I have to say the Times and Drudge splashes are pretty impressive! As Pielke Jr said on twitter "Appears that Bengtsson can play hardball too". ;)

May 16, 2014 at 10:26 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Graham Lineham had more to say.....

Graham Linehan ‏@Glinner
Good question from @Richard_H Does The Times have a Science section? How do they feel about that front page? Again, aren't they embarrassed?

Graham Linehan ‏@Glinner 2h
Yep RT @realstevepond: Not forgetting of course under his editorship the campaign to prove AIDS was not caused by HIV....

Graham Linehan ‏@Glinner 2h
& a reminder that climate change denier @afneil employed David Irving at the Times AFTER the latter became known for his Holocaust denialism

May 16, 2014 at 10:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

The 'settled science' clique's behaviour is very familiar to me as a teacher who dealt with classroom and playground bullies on a regular basis. Immaturity is rampant in their ranks!

May 16, 2014 at 10:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Yet, Phillip, they give the Times lead story their own lead billing there. Not too bad for Auntie. Watch for their own spin on the story later in the day.

May 16, 2014 at 10:29 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Here's the key passage from Matt Ridley:

Professor Bengtsson’s resignation shows that the alleged “consensus” on dangerous global warming involves suppressing dissent by academic bullying. He emphasises that there is no consensus about how fast and how far greenhouse warming will go, let alone what can be done in response.

Evidence of such bullying emerged in the “Climategate” scandal of 2009, where some climate scientists’ emails revealed them to be ready to threaten and blackball colleagues, reporters and editors who expressed sceptical views. I talk frequently to scientists who are unconvinced that climate change is even close to being the world’s most pressing environmental problem, but who will not put their heads above the parapet for fear of what it would do to their careers.

What is going on in academia when demonising and silencing your opponents has become so acceptable?

It's not consensus, it's coercion, in other words. The most feisty I've seen Ridley on his Times gig.

May 16, 2014 at 10:43 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Mark Steyn in particularly good form today:

"Climategate" wasn't only about the science - "Hide the decline" et al. It was also about the general thuggishness with which Mann and his gang treated anyone who disagreed with them, however mildly: The science is settled. Got it? Nice little peer-review journal you got here. Shame if anything were to happen to it.

The joke "investigations" conducted in the wake of Climategate chose to let the Clime Syndicate skate. To be charitable, it's possible Sir Muir Russell, Lord Oxburgh and the other grandees assumed that, having been caught once, the Warmanos wouldn't do it again. Instead, having been caught once and gotten away with it, the Warmanos kept right on doing it. Hence, this week's offer he couldn't refuse to Lennart Bengtsson: Whether they also left a polar bear's head in his bed we shall discover in the fullness of time.

I would imagine that these new developments must be increasing Steyn's optimism over winning against Mann. They certainly show vividly the need for someone brave enough to take on the establishment in court.

May 16, 2014 at 10:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Richard,

The mistake you make is in assuming Nyone on the left hS the ability to act with honesty.

Mailman

May 16, 2014 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Radical Rodent....are you telling us God doesn't exist? Be careful.

May 16, 2014 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

There is an interesting opinion piece in the WSJ yesterday:

Scientific Authoritarians

(needs free subscription)

May 16, 2014 at 10:48 AM | Registered CommenterPatagon

Would it be McCarthyism if evolutionary biologists expressed dismay about a colleague joining the Creationist Institute?

It's a hypothetical question. If, and when, a "prominent" evolutionary biologist "joins" a Creationist Institute then there might be something to talk about. Can he show us one, or more, that has done so?

But perhaps he is just appalled that the consensus-minded do not have the stranglehold on free expression that they would like to have. The climate-gate emails revealed that some climatologists thought this approach to be not only achievable and desirable, but that there are clearly qualified peers and editors who need to be stopped from publishing heresies. That is indicative of more than one person who they might wish to silence.

This affair speaks volumes.

May 16, 2014 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I wonder if the scientists at #climate2014 (in Exeter today) will be standing up for Bengtsson's (considerable) reputation

Not a chance Barry. Exeter is the hub of the the GW religion. This meeting will be about renewing their vows, chanting obsenities at 'deniers' and alround general praying that the planet isn't cooling. But you knew that better than I. :))

May 16, 2014 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Most will also find this interesting: http://notrickszone.com/2014/05/16/leaked-memo-on-climatology-exposes-growing-worry-within-german-meteorological-society-unacceptable-unethical-developments/

The cracks are getting more and more visible.

May 16, 2014 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter C

One of the longstanding memes of the CAGW memeplex is:

(retired) + (acknowledged expertise on atmospheric science) + (expresses doubt about CAGW)

= senile

May 16, 2014 at 11:10 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Joshua, this topic should be worth one of your excellent visualizations. The hockey team keeping up the 97 % by throwing doubting members under the bus?

May 16, 2014 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterPethefin

A scientist asked by the journal to assess the paper under the peer review process wrote that he strongly advised against publishing it because it was “less than helpful”.

Why should that scientist be allowed to hide behind a cloak of anonymity? Can't someone identify the person?

May 16, 2014 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

And the "Inquisition" is to begin when....or has it started already. The original held back science for years, how many years and how much money is to be wasted this time around.

May 16, 2014 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterDerek Buxton

Is this Lennart Bengtsson fighting back? Is he pulling the temple down around him?

May 16, 2014 at 11:33 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Why should that scientist be allowed to hide behind a cloak of anonymity? Can't someone identify the person?
May 16, 2014 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

It's normal for journal reviewers to be anonymous.

May 16, 2014 at 11:35 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

As PB notes above, the BBC has not directly covered the story. That suggests they think it is fairly damaging to the cause. The alarmists seem to be in full cry, some of them making clear that keeping alarmism going is more important than telling the truth or understanding the science.

I hope the MSM coverage continues and with luck, the Sunday papers will have gathered enough evidence to cover the broader issues in more depth. The story needs to be powerful enough to bring shame to the great and the good who have tried to shut down sceptical debate.

Those who are speaking out may not directly admit that the sceptics are right, but it is beginning to look as though the scientific evidence and recent disclosure supports the case that climate scientists are guilty of exaggeration and using bullying tactics to suppress the truth.

Of course, most of us here we have known this since Climategate. Perhaps this time the MSM will realise that the sceptical view of climate science is based on facts.

May 16, 2014 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

one of the world’s top academic journals rejected the work of five experts after a reviewer privately denounced it as “harmful”.

As an outsider to climate science it appears to me to have a menacing atmosphere to it. A 'that's a nice academic reputation you've got there, it'd be a shame if something happened to it' mentality. If those objections were truly as weak, political and self-interested as that the journal editor should resign.


Pethefin,

If it drops below 97% the CAGW bus explodes!

May 16, 2014 at 11:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

I suspect that many may have missed the real irony of this situation. GWPF approach a climate scientist for scientific advice on their pronouncements; logic should dictate that the whole climate “community” should be cheering – “At last, the ‘deniers’ seek our (the correct) knowledge! This is their confession that they know nothing!”

But, no – the person who accepts the post as scientific advisor is the one who gets pilloried; so the call is not, “‘Deniers’ admit their ignorance,” but “Don’t give the ‘deniers’ a chance to find our flaws, you turncoat!”

Rather than revealing the strength of their argument, it merely shows the strength of their prejudice, and their utter antipathy towards scientific discussion. Even the MSM should be able to pick up this point – though probably not the BBC.

May 16, 2014 at 11:39 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Martin A said:

t's normal for journal reviewers to be anonymous,

I know that perfectly well and I have been a journal reviewer myself on several occasions. However the behaviour of the anonymous reviewer is certainly not normal. His or her reason for rejecting the article is completely illegitimate and unethical. Therefore the cloak of anonymity should be lifted in this case.

May 16, 2014 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

It seems it is their peculiar vision of how to "communicate climate change science"

Gareth, publishing scientific journals is a multi-billion dollar industry where scientific knowledge and objectivity is subordinated to other, more important, interests. See for example the termination of the Journal Pattern Recognition in Physics. Editors resign sometimes, but for the opposite reasons: http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/3/9/2002/pdf

May 16, 2014 at 11:50 AM | Registered CommenterPatagon

Roy, Martin A, It is also the responsibility of the editor to ignore biased reviewers and look for expert, objective ones.

May 16, 2014 at 11:54 AM | Registered CommenterPatagon

Let's be clear the reviewers don't reject a paper. They might recommend it's rejection but the responsibility lies with the journal editor. It is he/she who took the decision to reject.

May 16, 2014 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Dennis

Richard (10:47 AM): no, I am not. What I would say is that evolution is not proof of His non-existence. Unfortunately, in our few, brief years on this planet, we quickly develop the assumption that we are the pinnacle of all knowledge and understanding in the universe. A few of us gain the realisation of the flaw in that idea; we are limited to a human view of the world – we cannot even comprehend a dog’s view (or, often enough, each other’s view), so how can we honestly claim to understand God’s view, let alone see flaws in it?

May 16, 2014 at 11:55 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

It is important to frighten the troops, otherwise others might follow Bengtsson.

May 16, 2014 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

This would be an ideal moment for other climate scientists to support Dr Bengtson's assertions. They would have to be prepared for the consequences, of course.

May 16, 2014 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

"This would be an ideal moment for other climate scientists to support Dr Bengtsson's assertions. They would have to be prepared for the consequences, of course."

In today's Academia that would be a suicide. That is why they have to wait until they retire.

May 16, 2014 at 12:14 PM | Registered CommenterPatagon

Suicide or not, peradventure there shall be one climate researcher willing to say "Whatever we think of climate change, Bengtsson has been maltreated and I feel shame for our community too".

Or maybe not even one.

May 16, 2014 at 12:20 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Sorry to be OT but I can't help but notice that over the last few days there have been a lot of stationary windmills. Even the BBC drew attention to them on the early morning weather report.

May 16, 2014 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

You know if the Holy Number of Truth is 97 then Lennart Bengtsonn must be the Devil. Why didn't I see it!!! The letters of his name when counted are the Holy Number reversed. 7 9.

Do I need a /sarc tag?

May 16, 2014 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

Or maybe not even one.

Judith Curry did, and I am sure Bengtsson would have the support of Christy, Spencer, Pielke, Courtillot, Paltridge and a few more. But I wouldn't expect too many.

Modern academic world is extremely hierarchical and authoritarian, so if you have arrived high, normally it means you have learnt the virtues of docility and submission.

May 16, 2014 at 12:26 PM | Registered CommenterPatagon

Would it be McCarthyism if evolutionary biologists expressed dismay about a colleague joining the Creationist Institute?

It's a hypothetical question.
If, and when, a "prominent" evolutionary biologist "joins" a Creationist Institute then there might be something to talk about. Can he show us one, or more, that has done so?
This begs the question "are science and creationism incompatible?". A Christian understanding is that science is the correct way to enquire about the created physical world around us (and beyond), and that rather than science denying God, it increasingly confirms the beauty of his creation. But that's for another thread.

If there's one thing that this sordid episode does show up, it's that many scientists are deeply flawed and immature characters who do not value their fellow professionals for their work, but judge them according to their own biases, whether political, scientific, religious, prestigious or financial, There is very little humility in them.

May 16, 2014 at 12:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterIlma

It strikes me that by appearing to give way to intimidation and resign from GWPF Prof. Bengtsson. has hit back in big way against his persecutors. Senile - no, very clever yes. Just look at the "firestorm" that has resulted. I am sure he will receive messages of support from the true science community. I look forward to Mark Steyn winning against Michael Mann. I even thing this will help if it reaches the court.

May 16, 2014 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

the responsibility lies with the journal editor. It is he/she who took the decision to reject.
May 16, 2014 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Dennis


+1

May 16, 2014 at 12:44 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Stonyground - yep, I spotted them too. But that was yesterday - today on BBC Breakfast East of England News they had a piece, backed up with an earnest-looking academic from Anglia Ruskin University (it is, honest) - who told the camera that we have only five years of oil left (really..?); we're running out of gas (no-one's obviously told him about fracking); so we need more 'renewables'...
Stick them wind turbines up, boys - never mind that they don't go round.....

May 16, 2014 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

More stoopid.

Reviewers don't decide if papers are published or not, Editors do.

May 16, 2014 at 2:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterMichael

The Guardian's Nafeez Ahmed has the story, under the headline “Murdoch-owned media hypes lone metereologist's climate junk science”. He says:

That the climate science community roundly rejects the GWPF's denialist rantings, and found Bengtsson's work in this regard unfit to publish, is evidence for the overwhelming consensus on climate change - not against it. As an illustrative example of just how isolated Prof Bengtsson and his ilk are, consider the fact reported earlier this year by Scientific American that out of more than 2,000 peer-reviewed climate science publications put out over the last year from November 2012 to December 2013, the number of scientists who denied the role of human-caused CO2 emissions in current climate change "is exactly one."
I count about four non-sequiturs in those two nasty sentences. Can the Graun possibly get any worse? Of course they can.

May 16, 2014 at 4:57 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

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