The Climate wars – toward a washup review.

limitsmadnessAs I said a while back (The limits of Climate Hysteria) we’ve now reached the stage in these “climate wars” whereby the climate itself is the main combatant forcing the ranks of the delusional public academia, to be dragged kicking and screaming to the reality of our ever varying climate, as the climate itself now imposes discipline where the idiots in the so called “institutions” of so-called “science” failed.
In other words, when we only had a few years of data and a lot of climate variables, it was far far too easy to “investigate” the most worrying trends and then to further cherry pick the data. Then to write up this cherry picked data and publish in buddy review journals, put on Wikipedia as “settled science” and try to convince the world your religion has a credible basis. But, the more data that is acquired and the more people look into every nook and cranny and not just the short-term worrisome trends, the more the real picture of a continuously varying climate emerges and so the less important any one short-term change appears. The more people who gather data, the less any individual can cherry-pick the data to e.g. claim “snow is disappearing” in a warm winter or “floods are increasing” in a floody year or “droughts are increasing” in a dry year.
Or perhaps, the better way to put this is this: if as occurred, the climate academics cherry picked the data to show increasing droughts in years of drought, they cannot so easily then create trends showing increasing rainfall and floods in the following years of flood.

Tumbling Academic Credibility

We are now in the period of tumbling academic credibility. Politicians, media and public don’t know what the climate will do any more than the academics, but, what we outside academia do know now, is that the academics didn’t know any more than anyone else and that they lied, lied and lied again, either dishonestly or delusionally. Clearly as the trends like global ice return to “normal” and the climate fails to warm for the 18th year in a row, we might not know what the climate is going to do, but what we do know is that academics are a bunch of thoroughly untrustworthy people.
A few years ago, Climategate gave academia the opportunity to recover the situation, to impose standards. Whilst they could not have had their cake and eat it – they couldn’t both push the politics of environmentalism and retain their credibility – they could have at least kept their credibility if they forsook the climate non-science. Instead they lost both.
A few decades ago, such a fiasco would have been embarrassing at the time, but because academia used to write our history, they quickly rewrote the story, to make it appear academia were blameless. So, e.g. Piltdown Mann is now a story of a conman, not of arrogant academics ready to accept any evidence that supported their pet theories. However, now history is being written outside academia on the internet, so this fiasco will never be forgotten and the blame will remain fairly and squarely on the nonscientifical shoulders of academia.

What was different this time

But in truth, most sensible people have always known that “academics” are often wrong and we can’t read too much into that. But something was clearly different this time. So, why then, did global warming take off as a state sponsored religion? The key factors appear to be these:

  • The rise of the internet and the early adoption of its use by academia, temporarily created an “academic bubble”. This came about because the internet allowed academia bypassed the common-sense filter of the media, and free from the constraints imposed on it by peer-review, the anonymity of the internet allowed academics like Mann to orchestrate a campaign of disinformation through sites like Wikipedia. So, public funding created an army of zealots who could use the the new media to spread their extremist non-science which could never have got through even the very biased peer review system of academia.
  • The internet undermined the profitability of the private media. This left the public sector media like the BBC and ABC as the dominant force in media. And like all public sector they are delusionally pro-environment (i.e. anti-private sector, anti-industrial, anti-fossil fuels). So, for a while the anti-industry views of people like the BBC were largely unchallenged by the private sector.
  • The growth of technology from the 1970s onward created a huge “mine” of data which could be sifted to find apparently worrying “trends”.
  • The creation of NASA (created to suggest a civilian use for space) created an organisation with no real purpose which needed to manufacture a “need” for it to exist. This it found by exaggerating global problems like Ozone and CO2 which “needed” monitoring by expensive NASA led projects. In turn this added to the bubble of new data with new measurements. NASA needed people to look at this and find “problems” than “needed” NASA. So it gave away the data to anyone who was likely to write it up as a problem needing more NASA-led space probes. So, again, the public sector “scare machine” was subsidised and empowered by the climate data-bubble.
  • The rise in global “environmentalism” empowered rather groups like WWF, Greenpeace, etc. who became global commercial companies to rival any other global corp – but who like snakes in sheep’s clothing, were not only in it for the money like the wolves, but they were far worse as they also had political intent. And again, these groups fed of the public sector as well as milking the private sector who they blackmailed for their donations.

So, much of the global warming scam was a chance historical accident whereby the “public sector” dislike of private sector because a public-sector hatred of fossil-fueled industry.

So, where do we go from here?

Trimming the feathers of the public sector

The public sector is a necessary and important part of our society and economy, but like cream cake – you can have too much of a good thing. And now the public sector has made our society obese, self-centred and fearful of even the most normal behaviour through “elfen safety”.
I am thoroughly convinced, the main reason for our bloated public sector is that the BBC and other state-funded broadcasters, now spend much of their time promoting “public-sector” viewpoints and undermining and/or attacking the ethos and viewpoints of the private sector.
At a time when generally the media has had to trim down in size as people turn to the internet, organisations like the BBC have tried to increase their funding and use that funding to undermine the commercial viability of the media on the internet.
So, the first step must be to dramatically reduce the size of the BBC. In short, the BBC should be privatised and the license fee should become an optional subscription.

Funding the sceptics

The single biggest problem that occurred on global warming is that the pro-side, funded by everyone from BIG government to BIG oil to BIG environmentalism to BIG academia, had something like 100 to 100,000 times the funding of the sceptic side. Indeed, the very fact I cannot really put a figure on the massive imbalance, is largely because the sceptic side is so absolutely poorly funded that we don’t have the resources to work out how absolutely poorly funded we are.
The problems stemming from the rise of the internet are ongoing, but are slowly being nullified. The private sector media, which crashed as the internet came on line has now massively downsized and is beginning to adapt. But perhaps as importantly, the public are beginning to adapt to a world where the media can no longer be trusted to be the sole source of investigative reporting or indeed of anything but cutting and pasting press releases.
So, when the media now says “it’s the warmest year on record”, this is now not seen as the view of the press, but as the view of the people they are reporting. In the past, getting something printed in the media meant something – it meant the media were willing to stand behind it – it meant it was credible. Today, it only means that the source has a good press office and that some tired hack thought it would fill a few column inches.
Likewise, the kudos of Wikipedia has been lost. At the beginning it was seen as a real encyclopaedia, but now everyone knows it is full of campaign groups pushing this or that point of view. So even if everything in Wikipedia is pushing the Mann-made view of climate even a minutes surfing the internet reveals that the climate as portrayed by Wikipedia is a sham.
So, the internet which gave the zealots in academia a huge advantage in pouring their vile into the PCs has now become much more egalitarian. Yes public funded academia still spend their public-funded time publishing anonymously to sites like Wikipedia, views that their own very biased colleagues would stop them publishing in peer reviewed literature. But there is now a very healthy sceptic view on the internet which albeit vastly underfunded, has at least stopped the worst excesses of academia in its tracks (with a lot help from the climate).

The fall of western academia

Paradoxically, the rise of the internet and the success of western academia in pushing global warming using it, is in my view, going to be the last time that western academia could claim to “lead the world”. Because, now the global warming meme is losing credibility, so it is dragging down the reputation of western “science” just as the rest of the world is seeing a massive rise in their own academic power.
The winners of the climate wars are unlikely to be western sceptics, but instead “Eastern” academics. (Western) Sceptics will not gain credibility as western academia loses theirs, instead, the growing academic institutions outside the west will gain credibility at the expense of the west.
The result is that power and influence in academic subjects will very quickly move away from the west particularly in the most outrageously biased subjects like the climate.  Yes it will take time, but it is now largely unstoppable because western academia is incapable of change from inside.

The problem of academia

The problem is that academia just will not listen to anyone from outside. We saw this during climategate, we’ve seen this in their constant attacks against any outsider who dares to comment on their work. They are in short, completely utterly resistant to good advice. So, the demise of academic credibility and global respect is not something any outsider can influence.
Instead, we just have to wait until it is so obvious to them that they have lost their credibility that they decide to change themselves.


Writing this, I find that there are very few obvious or easy solutions. It’s really an intractable problem. UK (and I assume US) academia are the lunatics in charge of the asylum – and you’d have to be mad to try and wrestle control away from them. Instead, we just have to let them stew in their own juices until things look so dire for them, that they are ready to accept change. I would guess that will take a few decades – long enough for the few “self-aware” aspiring academics joining now, to realise that their career in the UK is going downhill because of the poor reputation of UK academia and the rise of new academia in other countries.

A global climate institute

A while ago, I suggested a global climate institute run by engineers. To be honest, seeing how academics just try to take over everything, I now see they cannot be trusted. Any such institution would be taken over by politically active academia. So whilst I’m still in favour of such an institute in theory, in practice I know it will very quickly become yet another Met-Office type “global warming is worse than we thought” kind of delusional institution. Instead what I think is more likely to happen, is that places like China will create their own sources of climate data (which they probably have in secret) and that these will slowly gain credibility internationally to compete and then win against the delusional institutions we currently have pushing non-science at us.
Indeed, the only realistic scenario is that western governments seeing the rise of Chinese climate science, feel (far too late) that they need to restore credibility in their own “science”.

Funding the sceptics

I suspect climate has been a very sobering lesson to a lot of people. A few years ago, many people would have jumped on a space ship and gone to another planet because they seriously believed the world would end in a fire-ball in a very few years.
Today, even the mildest “scientific” views from that era and considered outrageously pessimistic. Probably the biggest change we are going to see is a push to increase diversity in academia and to find a way to counter the menace of the now hugely powerful global corporation Greenblob like WWF. There’s clearly a case to end charity status to groups who are nothing but political lobbyists dressed in a thin veneer of green.
But how we fund sceptics? I’ve no really good idea except that people just donate.

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29 Responses to The Climate wars – toward a washup review.

  1. Pingback: Scottish Sceptic: The Climate wars – toward a washup review. | Tallbloke's Talkshop

  2. TinyCO2 says:

    A good assessment but I think it’s more subtle and more widespread than you interpret. The media was much more complicit in the beginning. They love a good crisis and would have merrily added spin to any hysteria emerging from academia. This in turn would have encouraged scientists to make their own messages more bold. Hollywood added to the mess with a good tranche of disaster porn to the point where many still don’t know which outragious message is the closest to academic story telling and which is just pure fiction. The Day After Tomorrow is one that pops up despite it being pure science gobbledy gook.
    People too like disasters and it’s only the slow realisation that some square jawed hero isn’t about to do a few things and put it all right that’s cooling the public taste for thermogeddon. “What do you mean, the public have to have less?” As the fickle public realise that their chosen fantasy has real world costs, they lose interest in it.
    What will happen is purely dependent on the climate. A twitch upwards wil reignite the hysteria, while another year of stasis will do damage to their credibility.
    Foreign academia will sadly take their lead from western institutions because they always have the fall back position “but we thought they knew what they were doing”. Any bid for a different interpretation would come once it was bleeding obvious the current view was wrong. I see a gradual shift in position so that while few people are looking, the bulk of scientists will have realligned themselves under a new meme. “Hansen and Mann? Oh very few people believed them but the media never listened to our concerns that AGW was ovrblown. CAGW was very much the work of a small body of influential people.” They’ll try to pretend that the catastrophism was the fault of the media but as you say, the internet will make liars out of them.
    The current push is towards selflessness ie give up stuff to help the poor/environment/children etc. While the western public can be generous there is a point beyond which they balk and say ‘no more’. Even if CAGW was real, the idea that westerners would commit economic suicide and let everyone else have a turn at CO2 growth is insane. That hope, more than any other factor is a sign that warmists are stupid and or mad.

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      The role of the media is interesting. Would it have occurred if the media didn’t exaggerate stories – no. But was this any different from every other scare? So why did this particular scare take off so much and last so long?
      Perhaps toward the end of the 20th century, the media became so powerful that it did “create the story” – so e.g. the Sun started boasting “it was the Sun what won it”. Perhaps their dominance came about because of the print revolution in newspapers.
      So, perhaps an arrogant politically active newspaper industry used to spinning lies, suddenly found itself challenged by falling revenue which meant it just kept printing the same lies, but with even less fact or sense checking??

      • TinyCO2 says:

        We’ve been revisiting the idea that weather is punishment for our sins since forever. Another popular theme is that the bad behaviour is not our fault because we’re tempted by evil. Business and oil companies have long been popular targets of hatred and it satisfies a great many minds that they’re guilty of trying to destroy the planet. CAGW satisfies a great many world views. To the communist it’s proof that capitalism is evil. For them and the lefties it’s confirmation that the rich and ruling classes are stealing from us.
        The media just do what they do – supply us with endless novelties to entertain us. They’re not lying, just making things more colourful. And most of the scientists aren’t really lying either, just being too close to their own issue. Most sciences have areas of uncertainty but climate science is probably the only one that says we should be most scared of what we don’t know. Like kids telling themselves ghost stories, the climate scientists have scared each other. However some element of AGW is real. As yet we don’t know how much but whatever the amount it has to be balanced against other hazards and work with human nature. One of the reasons scientists are adamant that they have no responsibility for policy is because they don’t want the consequences of being wrong.
        I had an aunt who would never say what she wanted. She’d be quick enough to let you know that what you’d chosen was unacceptable but never make her own choices. That way she’d never be in the wrong. Similarly scientists like Betts won’t say what we should be doing about AGW but they will say that we’re not doing enough.

  3. soarergtl says:

    Good review – thanks.
    I am not sure about the last bit. China probably already has climate scientists who know that much of what the Western academics are saying is hyperbole, but why would they care? The latest ‘agreement’ gives them free rein to burn as much coal as they like, whilst the USA & the EU voluntarily hobbles their own competing industries.
    Why would the Chinese want to change this situation – its perfect (for them) 🙂

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      A good point. It’s not straightforward on climate. I suspect Chinese leaders would want to know the truth behind closed doors, but as you suggest, there’s a negative incentive to make this public.
      Indeed, there’s a lot of incentive for the Chinese to encourage western academics to continue to dig a grave for our economies. But if they promote environmental non-science in the west, this could just as easily turn round to bite them back with environmentalism spreading through their own academic institutes.

      • Brian H says:

        If you want a good example of Chinese atmosphere radiative science, have a look at Jinan Cao. Study of how CO2 facilitates cooling by enhanced OLR.

  4. Peter Whale says:

    The internet will be the key, it has kept the sceptic side alive and thriving. Academia is also losing its hold over education to the internet. The ideology of the left side which tries to eliminate free speech is also under threat. All art, philosophy and inquiring minds can find so much to ponder on the www. Doctors, Lawyers, Judges and all professions come through the searchlight of the internet. Politicians are increasingly vilified, ridiculed and are now at their lowest standing in the public’s eyes.Their self serving ways and their attempts to hide their misdemeanors show them up for what they are.The atrocities inflicted on Europe by the E.U. is becoming more apparent by the day. The best thing we can do is maintain the freedom of the internet and reject the main stream media with its bias by not buying it.
    Happy new year to you.

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      Interesting comments about Doctors, Judges and Professionals getting a much better treatment from the internet than climate academics. Not thought about it before, but I suppose judges and Doctors are dealing with adults day-in-day-out and so know they have to earn respect, whereas academics deal with wet-behind-the-ears, young-adults who can still be told what to think.

      • Peter Whale says:

        Hi Scottish-Sceptic it is the professions as a whole that seem to come through not the political motivated within the profession they always do their profession down as you can see with climate “scientists”

  5. Asmilwho says:

    “So, why then, did global warming take off as a state sponsored religion? The key factors appear to be these:”
    It’s no coincidence that the global warming religion really took off after the end of the cold war. Our masters need use to be afraid of something to keep us in line

  6. dellwilson says:

    Past scares have been based on causes that are much more focused compared to CAGW (based on CO2), which is at the very heart of everything a modern society does. Consider the acid rain (SO2), DDT, and ozone hole (chlorofluorocarbons) scares; all relatively easy to surgically remove without bringing down modern society. With CO2, you now have a bogeyman that is almost synonymous with modern society. Plus, the immediate effects (warming global atmosphere and increasing CO2 in the environment) can be linked to so, so many secondary effects that almost anyone can find their favorite concern so that many more find reason to jump on the band wagon. Politicians can embrace this because it proposes to increase control and power of government. Those concerned with social justice can embrace this because if the imbalance of blame and costs of mitigation. The malthusians can, obviously, embrace it because mitigation puports to put limits on everything we do.
    It seems to me that CO2/CAGW is perfectly crafted to assemble the largest coalition of believers and beneficiaries. History is probably littered with hundreds of religions that failed to gain the critical mass necessary to be viable. In the same way, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of science scares that have fallen aside without capturing enough support. If only the weather will cooperate, CO2/CAGW will show posterity how to create a successful, science-based religion.

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      Christianity had pretty much the same problem because of a text along the lines of “some will not die before I return”, meant that the “second coming” had to take place fairly quickly.
      So, religions once they are started tend to be very immune to problems such as a failure of temperatures to rise or the failure of a second coming and they adapt.
      And just for interest hears the approx dates of some major religions:
      ~3000BC Stonehenge (phase I/II)
      ~2500BC Egyptian Pyramids, Stonehenge (phase III)
      ~2000BC Hinduism, Stonehenge (final monument)
      ~1500BC Judaism (Atenism – sungod worship in Egypt)
      ~1000BC Zoroastrianism
      ~500BC Confucianism, Buddhism
      ~0AD Christianity
      ~500AD Islam
      ~1000AD ? Druze, Schism in Christianity leading to Orthodox/Catholic
      ~1500AD Sikh/protestantism
      …. around about ever 500 years we see another religion taking off.
      ~2000AD = ??

  7. I don’t share the pessimism on behalf of western sceptics or the optimism on behalf of non-western science.
    Non-western science is politically compromised too and those societies don’t have any significant tradition of independent contributions from private individuals.
    Also, the climate simply does what it does and it only requires one person to get it right.
    This is the most likely solution that I am aware of:

  8. wolsten says:

    A good summary but I would say that China has a vested interest in the West maintaining its disastrous, unilateral and irrelevant CO2 curbing policies. They know the global temperature is not running away and must be falling over themselves laughing behind our backs while we kill off energy intensive manufacturing, export it to China and import their solar panels like there (really is) is no tomorrow. I am trying to educate our new MP but it will be difficult to get her to go against party policy on this subject.

  9. jdmcl says:

    It’s not academia that was the root cause of the problem so much as the United Nations, specifically the UNEP and the UNFCCC. The UNEP pushed for the establishment of the IPCC on the fraudulent claim that the human influence on climate was significant and needed to be dealt with. The UNEP had no evidence but it did have a very hard-working and very skilled publicity machine .. and that’s how the media became involved in the fiasco.
    The UNFCCC was established in 1992, after the first but not even second IPCC assessment report and it declared also immediately that CO2 emissions were to blame, which was curious given that the IPCC had not estblished that as a fact (and still, 25 years later has not). If anything the UNFCCC publicity system was even more skilled than the UNEP’s and even to this day the mainstream media regurgitate every dishonest press release of the UNFCCC as if it was gospel.
    The media has therefore been a “willing stooge” (which I think was Stalin’s term) for the mendacity of the UNEP, IPCC and UNFCCC.

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      Climategate formally presented academia with a choice: to endorse the appalling standards seen in the emails or to condemn them as not appropriate.
      Academia chose to endorse behavious such as “hiding the decline”, absolutely appalling standards of instrumentation, academics who didn’t even know how to use excel declaring that we had to destroy the fossil fuel economy to “save the planet”.
      In other words they chose to endorse a bunch of incompetent “scientists” making claims way beyond their competence.
      It is as if the medical profession had deemed a midwife was competent to carry out brain surgery.
      Given these fraudulent claims by academia, the United Nations and world governments had little choice but to accept the statements of academia because they had been endorsed by academia and who else could challenge the authority of academia except academia except … unless or until we had clear evidence to the contrary.
      The United Nations might have been far more keen than it should have to use this bogus “expertise”, but the criminal liability for the false assertions does not rest with the UN but with those academics.

  10. soarergtl says:

    CAGW is an authoritarian’s wet dream.
    In the guise of ‘saving the planet’, it allows them to direct any area of our lives they see fit.
    Many politicians want power – otherwise, why put up with all the hassle of getting elected. Of course they embrace CAGW – it allows them to tax and regulate us ‘for our own good’. What use is power if it is not exercised?
    Some academics believe that because they are so intelligent, the great unwashed should just listen to them and follow their prescriptions. The myth of ‘Scientific Government’ has been a Sci-Fi staple pretty much since the genre began.
    The Media is similar – they think they have unique knowledge and insight, some of which they graciously pass down to the plebs. Read the Guardian Comment pieces for an extreme example. No-one loses money owning a newspaper unless they want influence.
    ‘Green’ NGOs are formed for the express purpose of getting the populace to do things which, voluntarily, they wouldn’t do. Mostly they are looking to ‘smash capitalism’ as, they believe, a necessary pre-condition to their imagined utopia.
    In some ways, at least in the UK, the ‘Public Health’ lobby is the worst. Paternalism is their default mode. Smoking gave them the perfect target, as it is undoubtedly harmful. Exactly the same tactics which were ‘successful’ there are now being tried on ‘second-hand smoking’, salt, sugar, fat, gambling, alcohol, pornography – any area in which small, sad people with a God-complex can exert control over the lives of others.
    I do not believe there is a conspiracy as such – there doesn’t need to be. CAGW is the perfect bete-noir for all of these groups.There are also many people who have genuine concerns – about air pollution, forest destruction, reduction of natural habitats, the price of electricity etc – which are real and serious. And there are scientists, not all of them sceptics, who just want to know the truth. Perhaps these are a majority, although reasonable voices are usually drowned out by the true believers. These fellow-travellers bulk up the numbers to make the lobby seem larger than it really is.
    Those of us who value individual freedom, who see the benefits of globalisation, free markets and sound government in the standard of living we enjoy today, which in the West is higher than any king could dream of 100 years ago, and which have lifted 1bn people out of real poverty in the last 30 years, will always have a problem with this approach.
    If there was really a severe CAGW problem, and if the proposed solutions really solved it, then maybe we could agree, even if reluctantly. But we need to be clear – the Authoritarians are not trying to ascertain if there is a problem, or to determine what the solution might be. They are looking for control, like every fascist ever in history. Problems and solutions are irrelevant to this.
    They have seen the opportunity to remake the world in their own, twisted image, just as other despots have tried to do. They are not likely to give that up without a fight.

  11. mitigatedsceptic says:

    Thank you for an interesting overview. May I offer my pennyworth?
    CAGW is merely one of the vehicles of a much more sinister and pervasive movement that originated when the billionaire’s clubs lit upon it as one of the scariest threats that were adopted to bring the world together to form a world government based on the UN and its powerful force of NGOs.
    The seminal moment was the Rio World Conference, the largest gathering ever of official and unofficial institutions, initiated by Maurice Strong and backed by the billionaires. The West was to be deindustrialised, impoverished and its wealth redistributed. Nation states were to be undermined, the nuclear family destroyed and children were to be indoctrinated into the need of creating a sustainable future for themselves.
    Deindustrialisation = decarbonisation = redistribution of work and wealth from the West to the needy in the rest of the world. CAGW played its part in laying the blame for the world’s woes firmly on the industrial revolution initiated in Europe and the US and in recruiting support for renewable and outrageously costly ‘renewable’ energy undermine the economies of the ‘guilty’ parties.
    Once again the middle classes were to be extinguished economically by taxation and morally by the demolition of ‘normal’ science, the basic belief system of the West. NGOs were to be the means undermining the nation states by energising factions to pressurise governments to deploy taxpayers’ money into green subsidies and so on.
    When all the schools in the West are flying the green Eco School flags we shall know that the Dark Ages are upon us and the Enlightenment forgotten and Rome will preside again over universal subservience and ignorance. CAGW will have been forgotten whatever the climate may bring.

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      The problem with this is that I know civil servants and whereas they might not be the brightest sparks in the box and largely ignorant of what happens outside the civil service, they aren’t intentionally involved in any kind of conspiracy – cock up yes, conspiracy no.
      So, yes they might have agreed to actions that would have the effect of destroying the western economies – but that is because they are pig ignorant how those economies work and so had not idea that what looked “good” to them was highly immoral.
      Yes there are a few nasty people who have a vendetta against mankind and want to destroy society, but the average “green” is a middle class woman who’s worked in the public sector and thinks it would be “nice” if everyone bought free range chickens and bought their perfume from some wholefood store. In other words, clueless about energy, economics and perhaps most damning, how “green” things like windmills often destroys the environment far more than e.g. fossil fuels.

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  13. Mike Mellor says:

    A very profound post with deep insight. I would also have liked an analysis of the screwups from the sceptic side. One important concept that you omitted was post-normal science. Much of the article is very quotable too. Although you and I have butted heads before on the net, I’m going to bookmark this.

  14. anng says:

    ” This came about because the internet allowed academia …”
    You’re putting the cart before the horse.
    Back in the late 1960s, Academia created JANET, Joint Academic Network, for email and sharing files. Soon this became USENET with shared drives for people to deposit documents. Ordinary members of the public piggy-backed on the academic network (I had a Compuserve account which went through Oxford Universitynetwork in the 80s). And finally, an academic researcher at CERN created a language (early html) to enable the various expensive graphic screens to display diagrams and graphs.
    In those days academia was very clued-up, and didn’t have to answer to their Governments for every penny.

  15. anng says:

    Scottish Sceptic,
    Have you ever tried to change a company culture? It’s soul-destroying. Large companies get ‘stuck-in-a-rut’ and too self-congratulatory for their own good – just the same as academia. (Think of Kodak failing to notice that people weren’t buying cameras any more.) But when a senior manager gets thrown out, people knuckle down to having to change; and either sulkily pay lip-service or find a new job. Whereas academics find that jumping on the bandwagon with the most money keeps them in employment. And the political UN Resolution assumes anthropogenic climate change is happening.
    It’s the UN and the ‘Green Blob’ that are the problem.

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      I’m very familiar with company cultures. The first time I became acutely aware was leaving a scientific university physics course and moving to a manufacturing company. In retrospect I can see it took me several years to unlearn the nonsense taught at university and re-install common sense. But at the time I saw it as being the fault of the company that they were not “scientific”.
      After an MBA where I learnt about company culture formally, I then became a quality manager in a textile company that was almost medieval in its culture. I thought I was trying to install “quality improvement”, by documenting their systems and trying to encourage people to work together.
      But in retrospect, I realised that the directors just wanted to document the work flow of several key managers they had inherited with part of the business from ICI, thus allowing the work to be farmed out an enabling the directors to sack these expensive managers.
      The other notable example was a small software company. Again, I was brought in to help improve quality. The model I had been led to believe was “correct” was a very rigid formalised procedural system where any employee could be slotted into any job.
      It turned out that this small software company turned this concept on its head. Instead of a rigid system, there’s was informal. Instead of having jobs which anyone could do … they had a few key individuals who they lavished attention on so that they would not dare walk away … and that included not burdening them with stupid bureaucracy.
      Again, it took me almost a year to understand that within the short-period development cycle and customer focus in which that company operated, their “system” (anarchy might be how those from a big company describe it) was undoubtedly better, more effective, more responsive, etc. etc.
      Of course, eventually I questioned why I had been brought in and it seemed to me by the end of the project that the real reason I suspected I was brought in was that the software manager felt he had no control over his software engineers and he wanted to downgrade their jobs and stop having to pander to each and every need (they were the only ones in the company that go air conditioning in the heat wave!!)
      So, yes, I’ve had experience trying to change culture. But usually the culture that exists is there for a very good reason and in my experience, the usual reason why people try to change culture is as a result of some form of power struggle.
      And, e.g. the last company – it just did not make sense trying to change their culture – I had to admit that within the context of the company, it appeared to be the best culture. It wasn’t one liked by big companies, but in this smaller company with a handful of developers it worked very well. It was only later, that I learnt that the owner was trying to sell the company to a big company in the same business and as such, the software development culture would clearly create huge problems.

  16. anng says:

    Scottish Sceptic,
    I’ve had a long experience with one company of culture change. People will go “The new culture’s just back to the one 20 years ago.” as the company tries to mend the hole in the last re-organisation.
    However, the problem of managers not understanding what their software staff are doing can lead to them not being able to get the budget they need. The company as a whole can then benefit by moving people around so that the software’s got new developers and they find out ‘by experience’ what the business benefit was and build a case for more money to ‘automate it away’, so to speak.
    It all takes ages and lots of political skill, and they then have to find out what the business downside of the latest change was.
    I didn’t really make my point in the comment above. Businesses have a monetary bottom line, customers, logistics, the-product, and how they’re viewed, which drives the culture.
    The academic equivalent seems to be publishing any research in a narrow range of journals and obtaining grants. And, like most software developers, tend not be particularly politically astute.
    Personally, I’ve found everybody in education to be most horrible disorganised from the tiny primary school up to the top universities.

    • Scottish-Sceptic says:

      As you suggest profit does focus companies in a way that cannot easily be achieved in the public sector.
      The biggest problem is not so much the academic culture – which leads to arrogance and the “we are better than anyone else and so the government must listen to us” attitude we see on climate, but it is that the government’s are daft enough to listen to a bunch of overconfident “cowboys” who are no more capable of predicting climate than anyone else.
      But perhaps government would be more aware of of the incompetence of academia on climate if there were a bit more competition between academic institutions. This wasn’t easy to achieve when we were in the midst of the panic, the data showed little more than an apparent massive rise in temperature which was easily modelled as a line going up to infinity.
      However, now we’ve seen the first turning point, the pause is recognised as existing and academics are obviously flapping around like stranded fish trying to explain it, we should begin to see fault lines developing within academia and with that diversity we will begin to see some institutions being seen as “successful” and others not.
      So over the next few decades, the need to match “theory” to actual data will create natural selection that heavily favours the conservative data-focussed universities and massively penalises the political/socially inspired ones.
      However, what I think is perhaps most important about this issue, is the way the timescale of climate change both allowed an arrogant “we know best culture” to flourish, but also that things happen just quick enough so that these same arrogant academics are being caught out by their own predictions.
      And so climate, is one of the few areas where we can both see how the academic culture distorts the subject to fit its own “public sector”, “anti-CO2 = anti-industry, anti-private sector” culture, BUT ALSO … within one academic career the evidence is coming in that is clearly contradicting their assertions and showing how very strongly biased their views are.
      And the other key ingredient is the rise of the internet. This has created a group of independent commentators. So, unlike previous generations where the large establishments would let academia write up its own history, now internet bloggers are writing it up for them. So, their failings will be obvious to the rest of the world in a way that was previous impossible. Their dirty laundry has been and will continue to be hung out by independent bloggers for all to see.
      If this doesn’t cause an earthquake change in academic culture, then I will be astonished.

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