Comments on RC at Collide-A-Scape

Journalist Keith Kloor has a blog where there are some interesting posts on CAGW. Of particular interest is the discussion on the “Who Started This Ruckus Anyway?” thread where there is (very unusually) some engagements from proponents of CAGW on the one hand, skeptics on the other hand, as well as interested parties trying to find the middle ground such as Judith Curry.

Of particular interest to us is the fact that there are quite a few mentions of RC. The following comments are an unbiased selection. Unfortunately for RC, the opinion of many posters is not flattering.


15 Responses to “Comments on RC at Collide-A-Scape”

  1. rcrejects Says:

    From Collide-A-Scape “Who Started This Ruckus Anyway?” thread.

    Post 65 Margaret Says: June 18th, 2010 at 9:22 pm


    Thank you so much for your post. Your history and mine are virtually identical. Until the “climategate” emails came out I was as enthusastic AGW-er as anyone would find — spending my spare time in the community and in my church leading anti-CO2 campaigns. But then those emails were leaked — and I thought “this can’t be right” so I went confidently to Real Climate to see the evidence that it wasn’t – and was shocked by what I found from the leadership of the site (ie not the random commentators). I tried other AGW sites — and they reminded me of the worst kind of religious warfare (and I have been in more than my share of those).

    So eventually I went to Climate Audit and WUWT expecting to find them the same kind of irrational arguing, ad hominem (sp??) attacks — and instead found people who primarily wanted to know what the real situation was. Do I always agree with them? Of course not — but if I thought the scientists had the same respect for truth, I would still be leaning more heavily to their side of the argument than I currently do.

    I am now an “non-believer” – I am not a skeptic but I do not think the case for AGW is sufficiently robust to act upon. I have quietly stopped my anti-Co2 activities, and are instead focusing on the many other abuses of our environment which do have a robust factual basis. I have noticed that I am not alone in this quiet withdrawal strategy.

    Margaret from New Zealand

  2. rcrejects Says:

    From Collide-A-Scape “Who Started This Ruckus Anyway?” thread.

    Post 69 Judith Curry Says: June 18th, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Re the “Hockey Stick Illusion,” here are some blogospheric reviews, not from identified “skeptics (as far as i can tell):

    Seth’s Blog
    NC Media Watch
    Facts Plus Logic
    Discovery News

    Note also the reviews at Amazon. The Amazon reviews pay tribute to how interesting and well written this is. So why hasn’t this been reviewed by any of the mainstream IPCC consensus types? Here is part of the post at Klimazweibel:

    “The story I take away from this book is the resistance of Michael Mann to have his original papers (MBH98 and MBH99) scrutinized by McItyre and others. It poses the immediate question of how these papers could have passed peer review initially when no one could replicate the results based on the initial information contained in the published papers (or based on later additionally material that was later released reluctantly). Instead, there was a counter attack calling McIntyre incompetent. This line of rhetoric seems to reappear at every turn of events, we have seen it in the emails, and we have seen it on this blog many times. This rhetoric can no longer be taken at face value by anyone who reads the book.”

    This clearly states that a refutation is needed. So what have the guys at RC said?

    Curry: “I have seen no mention on RC of Andrew Montford’s (Bishop Hill) book “The Hockey Stick Illusion.”

    If Montford’s arguments and evidence are baseless, then you should refute them. They deserve an answer, whether or not his arguments are valid. And stating that you have refuted these issues before isn’t adequate; the critical arguments have not hitherto been assembled into a complete narrative. And attacking Montford’s motives, past statements or actions, etc. won’t serve as a credible dismissal. Attack the arguments and the evidence that he presents. I for one would very much like to see what RC has to say about this book.”

    Gavin: “[Response: You are certainly correct in arguing that any substantive points that the ‘auditors’ have brought forward have been completely obscured by the mean-spirited flotsam that seems to accompany any of their contributions. However, forgive me if I don’t take seriously the endless requests to check out the allegations or accusations that are to be found just around the corner (on that blog/in that book/in that online presentation/in that submission etc.) but that on further inspection evaporate like the Cheshire Cat’s grin.

    This passing of the buck simply serves to propagate memes that end up being something that ‘everyone knows’ but when pressed, no-one can articulate. For example, Montford was interviewed on the BBC World Service the other day and was given copious time to expound on what he thought the most crucial neglected issue was. He chose to discuss McKitrick’s problems in getting his repetitive and singularly unconvincing papers on the (non-)impact of socio-economic variables published. If this is the worst example available, the IPCC process is in fine shape.”

    And that is all I have heard from RC on the subject of the “Hockey Stick Illusion.” It hasn’t been reviewed by the “mainstream” because I don’t think that they are able to refute the main points. So they are ignoring it, and hoping it will go away.

  3. rcrejects Says:

    From Collide-A-Scape “Who Started This Ruckus Anyway?” thread.

    Post 100: Roger D. Says: June 19th, 2010 at 6:04 am

    #69 Re the “Hockey Stick Illusion,”

    Judith quoted from the interchange at RC. Two of us (”Jon” and “Roger”) who had read the book joined the thread a bit later, weighing in to back up some of what Judith had said. Both of us were fairly new to thinking about climate change and were trying educate ourselves. I think we were both somewhat shocked by the vehemence of the response to even mentioning this book in any sort of favorable way. And again it seemed to both of us that it was pretty clear that those who critiqued the book had not read it (see eg #1183 and #1210). Instead resort was made largely to various ad hominem attacks. The same is true of the reviews that Judith links to. They are either very positive, or very negative, but the authors of the latter clearly haven’t read the book, as it pointed out with nice irony in the comments on their reviews.

    To be fair to RC, Gavin Schmidt did respond to Jon with the following: [Response: The fact is, most of us don’t even have time to read what it is we supposed to be reading, even before we get to books by bloggers (not that there is anything wrong with that). Why don’t you tell us what you found most disturbing and we’ll respond to that? – gavin]

    I think that is a point; these scientists really don’t have the time or more importantly, the motivation, to read skeptic books that their priors say are almost certainly rubbish. I can understand that. It is far easier to take a dismissive attitude to outsiders, especially when it is the case that much of what filters through to them really is rubbish; I’m sure most of us do the same in our own areas of expertise.

    (I was blocked soon after from submitting further comments to the thread, as the moderator decided no more posts were to be had on the issue. Despite this, the “other side” were allowed to put up further comments along the lines of “why haven’t you responded to our points?” which was very frustrating.)

  4. rcrejects Says:

    From Collide-A-Scape “Who Started This Ruckus Anyway?” thread.

    Post 113 Gautam Says: June 19th, 2010 at 9:31 am

    I would like to echo the comments in #16 and #18. I have spent 38 years doing research in engineering science. I see from some comments above, this would mean that many people engaged in or “sympathetic” to “climate science” would simply dismiss my opinions! Nevertheless, I do have experience in peer-reviewed literature, modelling and testing complex systems and, based on such studies, in trying to understand more general principles governing such systems.

    I also have not come across any of my peers who believe that the claims made by many climate modellers are credible enough for the very drastic and quick actions that they then call for to reorganise the way the world lives.

    I too started reading about climate science on Real Climate. Like several others posting here, I too am surprised and appalled at the condescension, abuse,hostility, rudeness and tribalism shown there, particularly amongst the comments. I see that one of the regular commenters from there, dhogaza, is also trying to change the tone of this particular thread.

    I then discovered Climate Audit and I follow both blogs and others, like this one, which discuss climate science. I have also read “The Hockey Stick Illusion”and, as Judith Curry does, I urge other people interested in this topic to read it. As several people have noted, practitioners of “Climate science” and their supporters are very good at insulting and questioning the motives of those they consider their “adversaries”. “Climate science” would be better served if people engaged in it showed the same zeal in addressing the issues raised by McIntyre and stop defending the indefensible such as the attitudes displayed in the CRU tapes.

  5. rcrejects Says:

    From Collide-A-Scape “Who Started This Ruckus Anyway?” thread.

    Post 115 Roger D. Says: June 19th, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Judith @ #103: actually only the first sentence was by Steven Sullivan; the rest was by me. I had not referred to his earlier message in a clear way; I think it was my first attempt to post a comment on a blog. I was responding to his rather dismissive comment but he said later that I had misunderstood his drift.

    (Actually, I have to say, that having spent quite a lot of time subsequently reading around this, I would maybe be inclined to modify my position on The Hockey Stick illusion. At the time, I assumed that there would be a well argued “other side” to the arguments in the book. I have yet to see anything of this. I also later apologized for my rather bombastic language, but this seems to be normal over at RC.)

  6. rcrejects Says:

    From Collide-A-Scape “Who Started This Ruckus Anyway?” thread.

    Post 138 laursaurus Says: June 19th, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Found this blog a week ago and I’m rivetted! Keith’s endeavor to move past the problems so we can work on solutions is exactly what is desperately needed.

    #122 maybe you meant this TIC, but there have been many well-detailed, scientific, point-by-point refutations to the Truthers, most notably by Popular Mechanics, Debunking 911. Learning from this thread about the different mindsets or approaches, the engineers have proven to be quite effective presenting the facts to the public.

    OTOH, RC represents a pathetic attempt by scientists to accomplish the same goal. Individuals making an earnest and reasonable effort to understand the science supporting CAGW, are left speechless after a visit. Not only do they shrug off the damaging impact of Climategate and Glaciergate, but either moderate out your comment or ridicule you with name-calling, ad hom attacks.

    Even here on this neutral ground, we are treated to more of the same. It’s ok to answer a question by admitting you don’t know, but will try to find out. I am becoming increasingly convinced that pride is by far the more damaging human influence on climate science. Maybe the skeptics initiated the ruckus, but the hubris and insincerity of the proponets are not about to budge. This brand new area of science cannot advance if left soley to the “experts” who have deliberately imposed a gridlock by imprisioning themselves in their ivory tower echo chamber.

    This blog gives me a glimmer of hope that change might be possible.

  7. herbert stencil Says:

    From the same thread at KK’s:

    Michael Larkin Says: June 19th, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    I’m a layman. I have a science degree and a little research experience from many moons ago, but I’m not kidding myself I understand the more esoteric aspects of climate science. Nevertheless, this is an important issue that will affect me, one way or the other, and so I have every right to be interested; every right to try to understand what I can and formulate my own conclusions. Please note that – my own conclusions. I’m not primarily concerned about who says what and how much they are alleged to know or not know, or what their political affiliations are, etc. The most important thing is what I can make of what they say.

    I suppose that Climategate is what piqued my interest. Casually at first, I started visiting blogs, and that was a bit of an eye-opener because I quickly saw that on both sides, a lot of what was being said was, from a scientific viewpoint, irrelevant. I wanted to drill down and find something, anything, I could hang a hat on.

    Pro-AGW sites, especially Realclimate, quickly alienated me. I suspect it has done much the same for countless other initially completely open-minded enquirers, and in that respect is probably its own worst enemy. A few of the more rabid sceptical sites had a similar effect, but even so, it was almost exclusively from sceptical sites that I began to get a moderately better understanding of the science. On balance, there was definitely a more open discussion going on there. Sceptical sites don’t censor so much, and so one gets more exposed to differing arguments and opinion.

    So there’s one point about who might be to blame: strike one against pro- sites for not welcoming and dealing with awkward questions, instead censoring and vilifying with ad homs. They have trained up an army of people, most of whom have even less scientific credentials than myself, who think that authority, consensus, parroted arguments and insults make for convincing arguments.

    They’re driving people to their opponent’s sites, especially, perhaps, WUWT, where there’s quite a lot of what Steve McIntyre (the most gentlemanly person on either side of the debate) might call “piling on”, but despite that, also many interesting articles that get thrashed out and sometimes even trashed by sceptics themselves. One who largely lurks, like myself, picks up quite a lot this way concerning what the key issues are, precisely because there is quite often genuine discussion rather than dogma.

    Both sides to some extent have the tendency to stereotype the other. I have seen structurally very similar, if not identical, diatribes, launched by one side against the other; just substituting key words and phrases can convert this boilerplate into pro- or anti- propaganda at will. So I guess it’s even-stevens on that count.

    That said, I ask myself over and over why it is that an avowedly “official” site such as Realclimate does not seek to distance itself from such behaviour; indeed, why it sets up the archetype for it. A likely conclusion by a disinterested observer is that if the sanctioned views were that secure, there’d be no need for that.

    Then, of course, there is the continual alarmism and generation of predictions that have been falsified; the seeding of so-called “independent” climategate enquiries with placemen; the sorry state of the surface temperature datasets; the refusal to meet in open debate with sceptics; the murky dealings revealed by climategate; and so on. These are charges that can’t be levelled against the sceptics, even if there are others that can, and they are all, in one way and another, home goals. Joe Public may not be able to understand the science, but he usually has a good nose for a suspicious aroma.

    And should he have any doubts, he doesn’t like being labelled in obnoxious ways by people who seem to him to be insufferably arrogant in expressing what is for many of them merely received opinion – regardless of whether it happens to be correct or not. This is not the way to win hearts and minds, and yet the response in a post-Climategate world is, for some, to carry on and even intensify a strategy that is a proven failure.

    At the bottom of AGW, there may be a grain of truth, but the fact that it isn’t being promulgated in a reasoned and constrained fashion, embracing criticism rather than circling the wagons to defend against it – together with the political dimensions of the issue – is only obscuring that.

    Judith Curry is a voice of commonsense in the wilderness. Pro-AGW people should start listening to her (Surprisingly, my take is that she has more respect on the sceptic side), because in the end, I suspect it’s climate science’s last chance to prove that it has any real worth. It’s only hope for lasting credibility depends on engaging its critics and coming up with sober assessments of the situation.

    Last but not least, Pro-AGW people really must get into the habit of reading their critics before dismissing them. It is outrageous to disparage Montford’s book without having done that. I wonder if such people realise how badly they tar themselves and the opinions they support when they openly admit they don’t have the faintest idea what the book actually says. I myself have just acquired it, and will be reading it in the near future. Until then, I have nothing to say about it. All credit to Judith, who has, and whose verdict is therefore an informed one, even if some, sight unseen, have the brass nerve to question it.

    You’re a courageous woman, Judith, and are getting brickbats from both sides. That’s usually a sign that one is getting something right!

  8. laursaurus Says:

    I’m flattered to see my very own comments worthy of reprint on another blog! Thanks for this pleasant surprise. Makes my fruitless attempts to post on RC worthwhile. Never occurred to me to save them at the time.
    Thanks for making a home for the RC Rejects!

  9. rcrejects Says:

    More discussion on RC at Keith Kloor’s Collide-A-Scape on a new thread “The Unclear Case for Climate Impacts” after Keith suggested that RC would be a suitable venue to discuss the issues, saying: “If this is where the policy debate is destined to be decided, then we should vigorously engage it. To that end, I’d like to see Real Climate take up the science behind the assertions made in the Politico op-ed. RC is where controversial matters of climate science are most comprehensively aired out.” Numerous posters dissented. Rick A reports that he has been censored.

    Post 15: RickA Says: July 14th, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    #2 Keith: Yes RC has huge comment threads – but they filter the comments to only allow through what they approve of. It is really a one-sided conversation.

    I have had several mild comments that never came out of moderation over at RC. For example, this one commenting on the Muir report:

    Quote: “RickA says: Your comment is awaiting moderation. 7 July 2010 at 4:17 PM

    Let us hope that all the scientists in the climate arena will take the recommendations of the Muir report to heart!

    I hope that everybody sees the importance of archiving data, standardizing the metadata for locations, providing enough information as to methods and the data for proper replication, being really descriptive and accurate about figure descriptions and being cooperative with requests, even if they are trying to find fault with the conclusions of a paper. That is just good science.

    The Muir report shows that climate scientists need to step up in these areas.

    I especially hope the scientists take the recommendation to heart about putting uncertainty on a proper statistical footing. A lot of the battle really revolves around statistics, and being rigorous will only help.

    My observation is that a lot of the problems come from trying to persuade (like the WMO and AR documents), rather than merely reporting the science.

    To much spin, in my opinion.

    Anyway – good luck with your future work.” End Quote

    So the stuff over at RC is not comprehensive, in my opinion.

  10. rcrejects Says:

    The discussion continues at Keith Kloor’s.

    Post 18: William Newman Says: July 14th, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Keith Kloor (CAS#2) writes “Maybe if they [RC] do and there’s a ‘comprehensive’ discussion, you’ll change your mind.”

    RC is often accused of mismoderation. You seem to want to treat this accusation a sort of free-floating dueling-opinions unknowable unknown. Perhaps you might want to spend 5 minutes investigating the possibility for yourself? E.g., skim the first 50 comments allowed through moderation here.

    Are you really impressed by moderation where 2 of the 3 criticisms worthy of being allowed into the discussion are (a sentence fragment from) RC#9 and the entirety of RC#22 (”LOL I stopped reading at ‘thorough’”)?

    The third criticism allowed through, RC#46, does looks like actual criticism that a reasonable moderator might let through for non-strawman purposes, though I wonder whether it’s really the strongest coherent criticism received among the first fifty, especially since canned sources of criticism like Pearce’s article existed.

    Amusingly, a fourth comment, RC#47, does actually link to the article by Pearce by presenting it as a loyally rah-rah-RC criticism of a general pattern of accentuating the negative. (The moderator might not have clicked through to find the tension between RC’s general “surprisingly thorough … rigour and honesty of the CRU scientists is not in doubt” judgment and Pearce’s specific points like “never asked Jones or his colleagues whether they had actually done this [deleted email]” …)

    It seems to me that such a pattern is hard to explain unless critics really are correct when they accuse RC moderators of intentionally letting weak criticisms through so that they can entertain themselves by refuting to them, while censoring more serious criticisms. And under such a partisan moderation policy, huge isn’t ‘comprehensive,’ and the result is a ‘discussion’ only in the sense that a revival meeting is a ‘discussion’.

    Of course, past performance is not a reliable guide to future behavior, so perhaps RC will choose to allow a more comprehensive discussion of an article on the science of this op-ed.

    (I am also grimly amused by the irony of dhogaza-on-RC cynically predicting in RC#42 “you’ll be quoted-mined, I’m sure”. Quote mining can indeed be used to distort opponents’ positions, as dhogaza-on-CAS argues here (though without giving references for his “said … repeatedly”). But rather as with lex talionis, bad though quote mining can be, in various real conflicts people do much worse. IMHO, the IPCC controversy would have a less creepy, disgusting tone if advocates like dhogaza-on-CAS held themselves to the minimal standard of mining an actual quote to justify a claim like “Lindzen is on record as saying he doesn’t believe in what might be labeled ‘catastrophic tobacco smoking’. He suggests that the risks are greatly exaggerated to the point where they can be ignored.”)

  11. rcrejects Says:

    Keith Kloor weighs in on the same thread:

    Post 20 Keith Kloor Says: July 14th, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Laurasuraus (17): That this op-ed appeared in a widely read political website is the first thing that occurred to me. However, you are wrong in characterizing Politico as left-leaning. Hardly. In fact, some of their critics have accused Politico of having a conservative agenda.

    William (18), this probably won’t dissuade you, but here’s an explanation of RC’s comment policy, courtesy of Bart Verheggen, which I just read in a thread over at Jeff ID’s site:

    …That’s not why RC clips comments either: They clip to avoid discussions from being derailed by noise (e.g. long refuted talking points or insinuations of wrongdoing). The problem is, their idea of noise is not the same as your idea of noise.

    Anyway, speaking of derailment, I’d like to try to keep the focus of this thread on climate impacts.

  12. rcrejects Says:

    JimR offers a view. Same thread.

    Post 28 JimR Says: July 14th, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Keith, ” …That’s not why RC clips comments either: They clip to avoid discussions from being derailed by noise (e.g. long refuted talking points or insinuations of wrongdoing). The problem is, their idea of noise is not the same as your idea of noise.”

    That is a strange defense for RC. On the issue of Judith Curry we saw long comment threads with many insinuations of wrongdoing. It didn’t seem to matter what the commenters said about her, they were allowed. That didn’t seem to bother the moderators at RC a bit. And there are years of examples of this type of behavior.

    Not to keep harping on RC, but you probably have a better chance of getting Romm to have a comprehensive discussion without the heavy hand of moderation than RC. For the many of us that have followed climate blogs since the inception of RC these excuses don’t cut it. Perhaps despite the impressive credentials of those at RC you should consider them as militant as Romm or Deltoid or other such sites where the changes of an actual discussion with more than one point of view allowed are statistically zero.

  13. rcrejects Says:

    Another comment. Same thread.

    Post 35: Paul Callander Says: July 14th, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Sorry, Real Climate is not where “the most controversial aspects of climate change are most comprehensively aired out”. RC is an advocate site that airs only one side of the issues.

  14. rcrejects Says:

    Peter Tillman offers a comment on the same thread.

    Post 53: Peter D. Tillman Says: July 16th, 2010 at 12:32 am

    Not to pile on RealClimate, but here’s an odd, slightly creepy bit from my own experience: Some time ago, a number of volunteers at Climate Audit, including myself, compiled a glossary of Climate Science acronyms, and posted it to

    About this time, RC posted a list of acronym sites, I happened to see it, and sent in ours. It disappeared into moderation limbo, apparently because Climate Audit was mentioned, and RC had a policy of never linking to CA — petty, but well-documented.

    Some time later, RC apparently relented and posted the link, only to remove it again some unknown time later. It still shows up as a “Google ghost” link, and if someone is really curious I can probably find it again. Very odd, self-destructive behavior.

    Peter D. Tillman
    Consulting Geologist, Arizona and New Mexico (USA)

  15. rcrejects Says:

    The comments keep coming – same thread.

    Post 55: Pascvaks Says: July 16th, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Not to pile on RealClimate, BUT…

    My two cents – RC has shot itself in the foot (and head) too many times over the last few years. Someone else needs to step into the void they have created for themselves – I nominate a site that has excellent credibility, and appeals to people with more than two brain cells to rub together, ta – da….***Collide-A-Scape.Com”””

    PS- RC has seen it’s best days.

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