Has Cassandra beaten Scottish Sceptic?

After many years unpaid work observing academia: during several different stints in University where I several times had a chance to view academic culture anew; after years on various forum, particularly BRITARCH (British Archaeology) and on global warming; after studying the development of renewable energy in the UK compared to Denmark around 2000, and now having set my mind to understand the reason for the hostility in the online climate debate, the survey of online participants to the climate debate, and the reaction to several articles, has now endorsed a theory** I have been developing describing this situation and explaining the nature of the on line debate.

That is the good news.

The bad news is that this theory which I will call “The Cassandra++ Theory”, predicts that nothing I ever write will ever be believed by academia. In other words, my current strategy is not only ineffective but is positively counter productive.

That is not to say that there may be one or two people in academia who are “oddballs” who might appreciate what I say, but in general, the very fact I am not an academic means anything I say will be seen as a threat: it will either be ignored, rejected or as in the global warming debate, viciously attacked in in person or via proxy groups.

Yes I can egg on the crowd of sceptics, yes I can create a huge fuss, but no, nothing I do will ever change the mind of academia, indeed egging on the sceptics & proving we are right will just make academics more hostile and more motivated to reject us.

Indeed, the Cassandra theory strongly suggests, that the single factor that is most likely to elicit this hostile reaction from academia is the one I thought was my strongest: my methodical and academic investigation of the subject in an entirely academic and altruistic way without working for any money at all.

The more I know, the more I will be attacked and the more vehemently anything I write will be rejected. And please note, their reaction is not “motivated” hostility or political hostility, it is simply a consequence of the situation and whilst I don’t like being attacked, I will not blame anyone for doing so. They do not know what they do or why they do it.

So, I’m going to have to think about what I do. There may be a way forward – but I haven’t yet thought of it.

However, there is a strong likelihood that I will stop blogging and it is likely I will close the Scottish Climate & Energy Forum. I also need to think hard about how I handle the survey of the climate bloggosphere. I think the results are dynamite, and there have been so many times in the last few weeks I just wanted to rub certain people’s noses in them and it was heart breaking not being able to do so. But now I realise that may be entirely counter productive.

**I use theory as the word is used in social science which is a descriptive narrative not a testable hypothesis.
++Cassandra was a Greek who was cursed by being given the gift of prophecy – so she could foretell the future, but it was ordained that she would never be believed.

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33 Responses to Has Cassandra beaten Scottish Sceptic?

  1. Derek Alker says:

    You should make a book of your recent works and postings in particular regard of the state of academia, the influence of the internet, and the rise of the citizen scientists.

    I hope this blog, if that’s the right name is left online, many of the threads are so relevant to the situation we are in, and that is simply not described anywhere else I know of, this blog stands proudly alone.

    I think I understand your view, “we” will not achieve anything, nor will we be allowed to. Over the years I have attracted the attentions of several academic “enforcers”….

    That said I am of the opinion that voters can and will in the end remove the political motivation of this whole debacle and then it will end. So, the more laymen, and laywomen understand what it really is all about then the better, and the sooner the end will arrive. It will in the end have to arrive, that IS inevitable, the truth will out.

    I for one will keep on trying to help it arrive, sooner rather than later, whether I have an affect or not. If you stop Mike it is my mind that the end will not arrive as soon as it otherwise could have arrived. You have had an effect, and a very influential one, that is far more widespread than you may realise.

    • I’m really pissed off because now I’ve realised that everything I thought I was doing right was actually counter productive. The book idea is good. However, before I decide what I’m going to do next I need to sense check the “sceptic aims”.

      What about the following:

      “to encourage the best quality science and engineering assessment of the impact of human activity on the climate, help determine and assess the impact of any changes to our economies, society & environment and to assist governments to develop the most appropriate policy recommendations”.

      (As opposed to how we often appear – which is to prove our views are right and the bloody climate scientists are wrong!)

      • Derek Alker says:

        Err, humans are having a discernible effect?
        “the best quality science and engineering assessment of the impact of human activity on the climate”
        Is there a bias in the statement? An assumed guilt?

        First natural variations and what the system actually is need to be fathomed.

        We are a long way off at present….. For instance water / water vapour is plainly THE and dominant negative feedback within earth’s climate system. As the current paradigm is totally based upon water vapour being a positive feedback, there has to be a root and branch reform before we can even begin to try to unravel natural variations of earth’s climate system. That is before we even begin to try to see IF we have or are having an affect….

        BTW – I posted this on the GWS thread that I am still developing yesterday, it may help to illustrate how far we are from reality, and therefore any useful work at all.
        This is the logical failure plainly described, Archer states if Ta is not 2Ta then there is no greenhouse effect.
        Ta has already been described by him as
        sunlight in (240W/m2) = Tg (240W/m2) = Ta (240W/m2).
        But for there to be a greenhouse effect there must be 2Ta, and Tg must equal 2Ta (480W/m2).
        To do this atmospheric back radiation is counted BEFORE the atmosphere is warmed by Tg. This is how the type 3 model creates 240W/m2 of energy.

        Greenhouse effect “theory” model type 3) Four arrows. Arrow 2 = 480W/m2
        David Archer has shown above why the diagram should be read as arrow 1, arrow 4, arrow 2, and arrow 3. Plainly it is false logic.
        In this model the atmosphere is depicted as having been warmed to 480W/m2, ie, 30C, by earth’s surface which is according to the “theory” on average 30C.

        In fact, this model type is a completely different type of model, it depicts energy flows or fluxes, not heat flows. This sounds a trivial difference, but it is not.
        An energy flow is not necessarily a certain temperature, nor does it necessarily indicate a certain temperature.
        Energy is the ability to do work, whereas heat is only one of the ways by which energy can be moved around.

        • Derek, do you mind if I copy my comment and yours and start a new article?

          • Derek Alker says:

            Please do, I would take it as a great compliment, whether you see things as I do or not. They are the better for being aired and discussed. I have taken, as you know, many years, and many many hours, to get where I have got to in my understanding of “things”. You have helped me tremendously over the last few months tie many many threads together, and if anything I have contributed has helped, then that is great.

  2. neilfutureboy says:

    However if “academia” is indeed unable to recognise facts (& I assume you have concluded is simply the mouthpiece of their political paymasters) then its ultimate failure is assured. You can ignore growing reality only for so long – then it bites. You may not win on your own (indeed it would be strange world if any one of us had that much influence) but we are each bound to be on the winning side.

    • No Neil, I’ve definitely not concluded they are the mouthpiece of any politician. Instead, their behaviour is more or less determined by their situation. There are nastier and nicer ones, but fundamentally they are all in the same situation and their behaviour is just shades of the same colour – one determined by the situation and not politics.

  3. Bob MacLean says:

    Sorry that your frustration has reached this point Mike, although it’s fully understandable. There’s no end in sight yet, but chinks are appearing in the alarmists’ armour so I urge you to hang in there just a little longer. Thanks for all your efforts.

    • Bob, when you’re up against natives throwing sticks and stones, and someone hands you an AKA45 – you don’t just shoot them, even if you want to.

      How do we convince them that we have “Powerful joo joo” without shooting them and making them more angry?

  4. Kent Clizbe says:


    Your efforts are appreciated and valuable.

    Unfortunately, there is not much of a market for your truth at this point in time.

    That said, the beauty of the internet is that you have created a venue for truth that cannot be ignored or wished away.

    You might want to just accept your role as Cassandra. That means you lower your expectations of immediate results coming from your warnings. You then become an observer and commentator on the situation, with no expectation of immediate results.

    Lower your expectations for immediate results will free you from the pressure of perceived failure, as you seem to feel now.

    Think of other analogies to your role besides Cassandra:

    1. The protagonist of “Anthem,” Ayn Rand’s simple refutation of the soul-deadening totalitarian communist system.

    2. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn observed, recorded, and commented on the communist destruction of humanity and human nature.

    The point is that immediate results are not necessary to have a long-term, lasting effect.

    Keep the faith!


  5. Mike, if it helps cheer you up at all, the same is true of the other side, in fact more so. Despite massive investment of time and effort and money (orders of magnitude greater than the sceptic side), they are failing to win people over.
    See for example this survey where they describe as “startling” the result that distrust of climate science is growing.

    Maybe I’ve missed it, but where have you been attacked by academia? (I assume you are not counting Billy Connolley as an academic!)

    • Paul, they can’t predict weather/climate just a month in advance, but their behaviour toward us is entirely predictable.

      Connolley is just a gnat – annoying but irrelevant.
      Most academic attacks are institutional. Nurse is the obvious one, but Lewandowsky is part of the system of attacking.

  6. jonnya99 says:

    Please don’t give up the blog. Not everyone who needs to be won around is an academic. Every passing reader who takes an interest is a small victory.

  7. lleuadci says:

    Why would you even want endorsement from the same idiots of the pecuniary-interested collective who need to be exposed?
    Cassandra only wins when good people give up the fight for truth.
    As we speak young minds are being fed AGW fakery as science in our schools. If, for no other reason, do it for the children.

    • It’s more akin to the afternoon fly fishing – when eventually I checked the hook only to find the fly had fallen off. It was actually a lovely afternoon fishing – very peaceful – but ultimately it was bound to be fruitless.

      • Derek Alker says:

        YET voting patterns are changing!

        I think that is what worries the “consensus” most, and that is what they mean when they refer to the effect skeptics are having a detrimental affect.

        It may appear an unpaid or unacknowledged task, doing what the academics should have done in the first place, ie, being skeptical. But, things are changing for the better. “We” are having an effect, and an effect for the greater good.

        Apparently then, fish have ears……. LOL.

        • Derek, what the dinosaurs (I can’t say “consensus” for undisclosed reasons) don’t realise is that sceptics are not a cause but a symptom. We are not so much changing public views, but are the public views that they can see.

          In the past the “public view” was filtered by those issues the dinosaur news media deemed fit to be discussed by the public. So, for years, using a simple example, the DNM never discussed engineering because almost all journalists found anything to do with engineering tedious. In contrast the “environment” was a constant filler in the DNM.

          I was listening to radio 4 this morning and after two lengthy pieces about film and the media and a lot of carp in between I thought: “I don’t have to listen to this …” and it’s true, I don’t – I can now go online and find stuff that isn’t from a group of upper class arts graduates so stuck up their own lower orifice that all they can see is brown stuff.

          The problem with the BBC, is that when they think of the “alternative” to their arts culture is to go to academia and talk to “scientists” – in order to let everyone else in the country have that 5% of time that isn’t devoted to lovey dovey interest subjects.

        • neilfutureboy says:

          Yes. UKIP slogged away for years (long before I joined) getting what appeared to be nowhere, or at least minor growth, but our current breakthrough position was built on that foundation.

          • The only fly in the ointment is that UKIP Scotland are a most useless group on the internet. However, given the amount of times the “Dinosaur News Media” have attacked the “Citizens News Media” on their blogs and facebook pages, I hope they are far more active (otherwise the theory’s wrong).

            The key, is that I believe the DNM and Dinoparties (and the hierarchy of UKIP) are completely arse about face on the cause. They think UKIP has grown because it has got the anti-immigration vote. Instead, I believe UKIP would have grown whatever the issues, and in a sense the issues are unimportant because the kind of people who support UKIP were unrepresented by any party – and immigration is just one of a huge number of issues that the DinoParties ignore that just happens to annoy this new rising group.

            Why did I join UKIP – because all the other parties were anti-democratic idiots on climate – why did I leave UKIP – because Farage is an anti-democratic idiot. Who am I going to vote for? The first party which does not represent the old Dinosaur establishment!

          • neilfutureboy says:

            I can’t agree that UKIP policies are independent of our growth or the LibDims, BNP or Greens would have taken our ecological niche. Without policies parties are like cars without fuel – they can rush downhill faster than other fuelless cars (eg New Labour with razzamatazz & spin). With silly policies they are petrol cars trying to run on sails – which is the position of the dinosaurs.

            I can’t argue that our online presence hasn’t been poor – a reason why I have recently started my own UKIP candidate blog http://neilcraigforukip.blogspot.co.uk/ Whereas the BNP has long had the most popular, by a long way, party website on Britain, because they are even more censored than us on the DNM rather than because the it was spectacular. I think that makes my point about policies though I hope for Scottish UKIP progress in both areas so we won’t know which worked.

  8. Andy West says:

    I would advise that before you decide that your Cassandra theory is the be all and end all, and that it points to no possible good outcome for your most laudable efforts, you spend some time examining the great progress that generations of thinkers have made in likewise examining social phenomena such as CAGW. Agressively infectious cultures such as religions, and secular ones too such as CAGW, indeed can have huge momentum and indeed are hard to stop or divert. But it is worth bearing in mind that the vast majority of religions that have existed going back to even before homo-sapiens-sapiens, have all fallen, and others around today have frequently been pushed to more benign positions, plus secular memeplexes such as Lysenkoism, or the alliance of eugenics with ant-semiticsm and national socialism, have likewise all fallen. Most of the symptoms you express are in the main secondary, remember these phenomena existed before there even was a modern academia in the modern sense, but other elites or priesthoods behaved in precisely the same way. CAGW has a major disadvantage compared to many of the above phenomena; it hooked its wagon to something that one day can be proved or disproved, i.e. the global temperature impact of CO2, and *whichever* way that proof falls will spell the end for the excesses of CAGW culture. (Christian heirarchies would all collapse not only if their God was disproved, but also if he appeared on Earth – no need for vast churches and priestly elites when you can have His phone number :) . So despite much wriggling that in essence is CAGW trying to evolve away from the fatal temperature anchor, it is failing to do so and will fall no matter how bleak the situation currently looks. Otoh it will also leave behind a legacy of other environmental positionings; but we cannot know quite what yet. Bear in mind that social phenomena can have tipping points, even if that seems a lot less likely for climate these days ;)

    • Andy, having finally understood the nature of the debate, I tried to find some academics working on none climate issues who might understand or at least be interested in the social science aspects.

      I now recognise the pattern. If I ask about their research, they will be very interested to give me information. If however, I suggest I’m a non academic researching the same subject – end of conversation.

      I also find the same when looking or research material. If I search for social studies on other groups – they are relatively easy to find – search for the same kind of work on academia – and the trail goes cold.

      What the Cassandra theory predicts, is that NOTHING sceptics say will ever be accepted by academics. So, we are completely wasting our time trying to convince them. Because even when they are forced to accept the sceptic view – it will be because they thought of it.

      So, we cannot fundamentally change the feeling of academia toward us – because it is just part of their nature – so what can we do?

      (I could put some “tends to” in many of the above, but it doesn’t fundamentally change what I’m saying).

      We can change how other groups see us. Academics will never accept us, but that does not stop other groups from accepting us.

      • andywest2012 says:

        Damn, got threading wrong, see below…

      • neilfutureboy says:

        Yet Einstein, who was a clerk, got accepted by academia; but Mendel wasn’t; while Dr Semmelweis who was a doctor, albeit junior to those he disagreed with wasn’t either; and James Clerk Maxwell, while he got professorships, didn’t get the really good ones he wanted & deserved because his maths was to complicated for his “peers” to really follow.

        Not an absolute trend – looks like a mixture of vested interests, academic pride and some genuine scientists in there too.

        • Einstein trained as an teacher, worked as an academic and wrote 100 academic papers, he was by no means an outsider. In contrast, John Harrison who more or less created the modern world as we know it – was a clock maker, and was refused a prize he won from the Royal Society for no other reason than he wasn’t “one of them”.

  9. andywest2012 says:

    Well if you are going to capitalise the Cassandra theory prediction of NOTHING being accepted, then I presume you really do mean nothing, and hence the Cassandra theory is wrong. Plenty of things are accepted by some folks in academia, and much more is put up for speculation and discussion by academics. For instance Judith Curry is a big wheel in climate acedemia and accepts plenty that sceptics say, specifically about levels of uncertainty, corruption of IPCC and other processes, and much more. She puts up a much wider still agenda for discussion. My own guest post about CAGW being a social memeplex went up at her popular blog ‘Climate Etc.’ last November, despite this points out that such a memeplex has next to naff all dependance on any actual climate characteristics. Social memeplexes require only uncertainty for fuel. While a clear minority, there are many other sceptic (or at least ‘uncertainty’) supportive academics from physics, statistics, and other fields, indeed including climate.

    Well having said that, academia are on average very immersed in the culture of CAGW, and perhaps more so for the social sciences, but why would seeking to convince academia be the right route anyway?

    If you want to know the mechanisms of how CAGW works, you don’t need to mention climate or climate scepticism at all. Bear in mind that nothing happening in CAGW is in the slightest bit new. Such social phenomena constantly travel through societies, indeed we co-evolved with them (see Blackmore), and so you can understand the generic without the specific (and indeed this is advantageous to do anyhow). There is sixty years of research on how they work. One suggestion that springs to mind from the generic for instance, is to approach ‘the enlightened elite’. There are always somesuch, in CAGW as in religion as in other memeplexes. Folks outside the dominant memeplex don’t generally have a power base to work from (that’s you and me and most sceptics), but there are always some of the elite who will have questions of their own, or who have been discriminated against (e.g. socially ranking females in later Christianity), so they can end up forming a platform and leveraged power-base for sceptical questions. For instance within CAGW influenced academia, Judith Curry’s blog mentioned above is nevertheless just such a platform.

    But I don’t feel that persuading (at least climate) academia directly is the right route anyhow, and possibly ditto for many other immersed branches of academia also. When was a religion ever dismantled by its own priesthood? Well I’m not a theologian so can’t answer my own question, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was ‘never’. Public pressure is by far the best pressure in any society, and deploying real science to ridicule academics who cling to unfounded orthodoxy is a much better tactic, which sceptics have already used to great effect. Where you can’t go through them, go around them.

    You say in your post ‘They do not know what they do or why they do it’. Well I agree, but I’m not sure from your (admittedly few) posts I’ve read, you know ‘why’ either. Bear in mind that folks immersed in cultural entities have done this forever, so the ‘why’ is nothing to do with climate or the characteristics of modern universities or such, but is much more fundamental. That doesn’t mean the modern detail has nothing to tell us, it sure does, we just have to remember there is deeper ‘root’ cause beneath. (nor just to be clear is delusion a root cause or even money, though the latter is certainly how supportive infra-structure can appear and ‘lock-in’ occur).

    For what it’s worth I wouldn’t let your pet Cassandra persuade you that efforts are hopeless. Even if we remove the NOTHING and replace it with LITTLE, your Cassandra is making the assumption that the direct persuasion of *established* academia is critical, and this is likely not the case. Even sticking with academics, there are the young and upcoming UNestablished ones who will stab their superiors in the back one day :) I figure your very laudable efforts to the sceptic cause are, and will continue to be, very profitable. One just has to take a rather longer view.

  10. Andy: an interesting post – and thanks it’s useful to read it.

    One point I’d pick you up on is where you said: “I’m not sure from your (admittedly few) posts I’ve read, you know ‘why’ either” … the fact is that I’ve not said. That is not because I don’t know, but because the Cassandra theory says that publishing the theory will just make academics angry so there is no point publishing.

    “your Cassandra is making the assumption that the direct persuasion of *established* academia is critical, and this is likely not the case. Even sticking with academics, there are the young and upcoming UNestablished ones who will stab their superiors in the back one day”

    That must be the answer

  11. Don B says:

    Why do you care what academics think about what you say?

    The truth is valuable in and of itself. If the results of your poll are interesting or informative or neither, then tell us about them, please.

    Aside: Many people believed the climate sensitivity assumptions in models were too high, papers were published from evidence which showed a lower range of sensitivity, those papers were summarized in AR5, and on 16 January 2014 Judith Curry presented testimony to the US Senate about lower sensitivity. The facts do not now have any influence on Obama’s true believers, but the facts must ultimately win.

    • Don, I was under the mistaken delusion that academics might be seeking the truth – now I realise its the truth – so long as it doesn’t come from a sceptic. I think this works because they define us as being wrong

      As for sensitivities – they can be legitimised by being “claimed” by academia – so that they no longer belong to sceptics. Cassandra cannot be legitimised in this way, so it will always be rejected.

  12. andywest2012 says:

    Thus it has ever been, back to the ancient Greeks and long before, and not just in academia; substitute any religion for academia and any heretic for sceptic. Yet always consensus is overturned too. The consensus against plate tectonics took decades to fully overturn, despite a child can see that the East coast of south America fits the West coast of Africa. And of course the vast majority of academics do genuinely think that they *are* searching for the truth; it’s just that you can’t seek if you are culturally blinded (and we all have some kind and level of cultural blindness). Only a few are knowingly false, but anger will come from a genuine feeling of being attacked.

    I think you should not heed the whisperings of hopelessness from this Cassandra lass. I’m with Don B. Publish and be damned. Why does it matter what blind academics think? How else may public challenge be mounted? If you publish at WUWT, far more will read it than from most journals, and those who get hot under the collar at such things cannot be any hotter than they already are regarding WUWT anyhow. If your offering has any merit at all, or even a deep and honest stab at merit, it’s highly likely Anthony will accomodate you :) I had a post there myself about bias in academia only last month (27th Jan).

    The purpose of publishing theories is to promote the right debates and pressures; true acceptance, even for ‘the good stuff’, can only be measured by time, and generally lots of it. And also does it really matter if academia appropriates sceptical theory? Isn’t that in part what we’re actually trying to do?

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