ATTP: Safe space from seepage


Richard Betts has written a long explanatory note to Stephan Lewandowsky’s ‘Seepage’. Seepage contends that invasive memes from skeptics have tricked scientists into framing the public debate their way.

Betts submitted the article to ATTP’s blog. At the surface his reasoning sounds plausible: it would be dismissed by consensusists if it were on a climate-skeptical blog:

Judith Curry evidently agrees:

It is no surprise scientists like Betts and Curry find themselves in a bind – if they speak to skeptics they are pilloried and the consensusists don’t engage. But from the perspective of the consensus, the problem is different and runs deeper. Have Betts and Curry thought about this?

In the politics of climate consensus, what is said is less important than who says it, where it is said and how it looks. The frame carries more weight than the picture. If climate activists and alarmists venture out to skeptical venues, they lay their claims open to challenge. They may be shown to be wrong, or fall to a better rhetorician. With either, they don’t come out looking good – something that is very important.

When you submit opinion you cede control. You have something the onlooker judges. When you debate, your opponent becomes your equal

A lot of the authority in consensus climate has been built by assiduous adherence to looking good, controlling the terms of the debate,  avoiding being subject to judgement and appearing beyond question. It uses climate science as a tool, and consequently hollows and fragilizes it.

ATTP bans skeptical commenters and provides a safe space for the consensusists, free from triggers. They need to be slowly drawn out and forced to engage, and not pandered to. Like Lewandowsky, ATTP has to learn – in the realm of ideas there are no safe spaces.



  1. man in a barrel

    Great post. I await the arrival of the ever so boring Willard to try to deflect the argument. Willard’s attempts to shore up whatever consensus of how many theories reminds me of the Dutch boy and the dike.

  2. TinyCO2

    I first read the article at ATTP. As far as I know I’m not banned but I’ve been rude enough about ATTP recently that there’s not much point returning.

    I do feel sorry for Dr Betts, well the whole Met Office really. I’ve always thought they were trying to do the right thing on AGW but got caught up in a hysteria that was mostly generated by others. Now they’re being accused by a z rate psychologist and his bad fiction writing sidekick, of being brain washed by a bunch of internet crackpots.

    What he could have written is ‘there’s a pause OK? It might be temporary or the heat may be hiding but there IS a pause. Scientists have known it for years but we thought it would have gone away by now. If you’d been to any scientific conferences or read anything that wasn’t written by one of the NASA gang, you’d know there was a pause. We’re having a bit of a credibility issue right now and frankly telling the World we’re a weak bunch of idiots isn’t going to help!’

  3. man in a barrel

    For Lew and co, calling it a apuse or hiatus is “seepage”. Look at all the people on ATTP trying to convince him that there is no “pause”. Just admitting that ntemps have not moved much is giving way to the sceptics. Iy is wrong to give any ground to the sceptics. Whatever they are, these folks are not fans of science or the scientific method. Look at Dana, continually banging on about statistical significance as if he knows what it means.

  4. manicbeancounter

    I find this is quite surreal. The Lewandowsky and Oreskes paper yet again asserts the gulf between the “scientists” and the “contrarians” is due to some dodgy opinion surveys that show a strong belief for the most banal form of the AGW hypothesis. It is like the major evidence in a murder trial being an opinion poll of police officers saying the accused looks to be a nasty piece of work, associates with the wrong people, and when a youth got a caution for being drunk and disorderly.
    Lew then gives a new excuse for the warming “pause” – namely that the strong El Nino of 1998 masks the continued warming trend. He conveniently forgets that this contradicts the excuse he concocted for Risbey at al. 2014. This used data manipulation to show that warming was still continuing at the rate of 2C per century. In my post The Lewandowsky Smooth I modeled this impact by using Lew’s notes on his blog, assuming that from 2005-2013 there was a cooling rate at nearly 1C per century.

  5. Shub Niggurath

    manic, you are right. In Risbey 2014, Lewandowsky cooked up a circular argument where CMIP5 models whose supposed El Nino phase matched reality showed a close match with the global average temperature, including the pause, which was then a real entity. Just a year later he tells us the same pause is not even a real thing.

    Under the new rules, the models that are ‘maximally out of phase with the Earth’ are the ones that match global temperatures!

    Lewandowsky is this flexible with his rhetoric, facts must not mean little to him.

  6. Willard

    > I await the arrival of the ever so boring Willard to try to deflect the argument.

    That’s easy to say, man in a barrel. Might be bit harder to prove. My first comments as a ninja were at the Auditor’s, and I have a knack for topicality and aboutness. Since you like topicality, none of the comments so far addresses Shub’s post, except perhaps jeez’ quote, which comes from a tweet Shub addressed to me.

    Neither have you read the thread at AT’s, for otherwise you might have refrained from mentioning my name. Go read that thread before replying.

  7. Shub Niggurath

    man in a barrel, you have to read willard’s comments ripping up the seepage stuff. The problem is he doesn’t link to the specific thread (easily rectified) and the critical comments are somewhat hidden in the comment stream, and, written in willardese (only somewhat, I assure you, he’s simply tears into the Lew).

    Worth excerpting the comments.