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December 20, 2009

Defining your Religion. [krakatoa]

I've just finished separate articles by Patrick Michaels of the Cato Institute, and Lawrence Solomon of the Financial Times. Together they describe the two distinct but strategically reinforcing tactics in manipulating both professional and public opinion.

(UPDATE on Wiki below the fold)

Michaels is one of the climatologists referred to as one of the "M"s in the "M&M"s that ClimateGate email references.

There are three that often get conflated and lead to some confusion. Steven McIntyre, Ross McItrick, and Patrick Michaels.

McIntyre & McItrick are the statistician/economist duo whose analysis broke Michael Mann's hockey sticks, while Michaels was a climatologist whose original sin in 2002 appears to have been questioning not AGW, so much as its degree thus far and the worst-case projections.

In this article, Michaels recounts this and other notable published papers that drew the ire of AGW high-priests such as Michael Mann of Penn State, Phil Jones of CRU, and Tom Wigley of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, and describes the result of their witch-hunt after his 2002 paper:

Mr. Mann called upon his colleagues to try and put Climate Research out of business. "Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal," he wrote in one of the emails. "We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board."

After Messrs. Jones and Mann threatened a boycott of publications and reviews, half the editorial board of Climate Research resigned. People who didn't toe Messrs. Wigley, Mann and Jones's line began to experience increasing difficulty in publishing their results.

This scorched-earth strategy was repeated in other editorial boards of other journals and even Universities, and created a threatening climate wherein those scientists who may have doubts were told implicitly (and explicitly if necessary) to shut-up and toe the line, lest you suffer the fate of other AGW heretics:

The result of all this is that our refereed literature has been inestimably damaged, and reputations have been trashed. Mr. Wigley repeatedly tells news reporters not to listen to "skeptics" (or even nonskeptics like me), because they didn't publish enough in the peer-reviewed literature—even as he and his friends sought to make it difficult or impossible to do so.

Fundamental to the selling of the Hockey Stick to the Scientific community was the deletion from statistical history the well-known incidents known as the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age.

Of ongoing frustration to many of us on this side of the AGW debate are the polls showing that while public support of things like Cap and Trade is waning, there is still a majority who believe the Anthropogenic (and by popular definition this means CO2) part of AGW is significant and potentially dangerous. This is a vestige not of scientific "consensus", but of the lasting effects of a strategy by AGW proponents to create a public movement to support what, ultimately, their science could not.

Lawrence Solomon unwinds evidence in the ClimateGate emails that demonstrate a dedicated effort to manipulate public perception via Wikipedia.

Part of the effort to beat back the skeptical arguments they could never fully repress via their peer-review & academic scorched earth tactics was the creation of the Real Climate blog.

"The idea is that we working climate scientists should have a place where we can mount a rapid response to supposedly 'bombshell' papers that are doing the rounds" in aid of "combating dis-information..."

Solomon discovers in the emails that one member of the RealClimate cadre, U.K. scientist and Green Party activist William Connolley, was assigned the specific duty of scouring Wikipedia for dissenting information:

Starting in February 2003, just when opposition to the claims of the band members were beginning to gel, Connolley set to work on the Wikipedia site. He rewrote Wikipedia's articles on global warming, on the greenhouse effect, on the instrumental temperature record, on the urban heat island, on climate models, on global cooling. On Feb. 14, he began to erase the Little Ice Age; on Aug. 11, the Medieval Warm Period. In October, he turned his attention to the hockey stick graph. He rewrote articles on the politics of global warming and on the scientists who were skeptical of the band. Richard Lindzen and Fred Singer, two of the world's most distinguished climate scientists, were among his early targets, followed by others that the band especially hated, such as Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, authorities on the Medieval Warm Period.

All told, Connolley created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles. His control over Wikipedia was greater still, however, through the role he obtained at Wikipedia as a website administrator, which allowed him to act with virtual impunity. When Connolley didn't like the subject of a certain article, he removed it -- more than 500 articles of various descriptions disappeared at his hand. When he disapproved of the arguments that others were making, he often had them barred -- over 2,000 Wikipedia contributors who ran afoul of him found themselves blocked from making further contributions. Acolytes whose writing conformed to Connolley's global warming views, in contrast, were rewarded with Wikipedia's blessings. In these ways, Connolley turned Wikipedia into the missionary wing of the global warming movement.

(all emphasis mine)

Granted, those with a skeptical intellect know better than to trust Wikipedia on any matter, much less one of such a heated political debate. But unfortunately, most people are not skeptical, and most Media are not inclined to research any deeper that an easy online source such as Wiki those argument that mesh nicely with their foundational biases. Both groups fall victim of the Appeal to Authority tactic so cynically engaged in by the RealClimate and AGW salesmen.

I am confident that as more raw data is independently reviewed and publicized, public perception of this will continue turn to skepticism, and eventually the polls will reflect and judge fully the AGW fraud the real science is uncovering.


In September 2009, the Wikipedia Arbitration Committee revoked Mr. Connolley’s administrator status after finding that he misused his administrative privileges while involved in a dispute unrelated to climate warming. This has now been added to his article.

Of course it's unrelated. The science is "settled" after all.

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