Monday, August 2, 2010

Gavin Schmidt Weighs in On Oreskes

Over at Gavin Schmidt responded to a comment of mine by stating.

Having read Nicholas Nierenberg's paper and the relevant parts of MoD, the issue is in the interpretation of William Nierenberg's actions on the 1983 report. NN claims essentially that the WN synthesis was reflective of the consensus on the committee, Oreskes and Conway see it as slanted towards inaction. It is a pretty nuanced issue, and while I can see why the parties involved have taken the positions they have, I'm not convinced that there is any obvious resolution of these opinions. But having said that, this is but a small part of the O&C case, and the evidence that they bring together overall is very convincing.

To me this demonstrates that Gavin will bend over backward to support anyone with an aligned political viewpoint. It is hard to imagine how, after reading our paper, a scientist wouldn't be concerned about the standard of proof Oreskes uses. And it seems to me logical, given that he isn't reviewing the sources himself, that he would be concerned about whether the other chapters use the same standards of proof.


  1. I also think Gavin's answer to my comment (not yours!) was disappointing but I don't understand how you can conclude he would support anyone who has "an aligned political viewpoint" (what viewpoint would that be exactly?). Am I missing something?
    My experience is that the Real Climate crowd can be very defensive about their colleagues but I always interpreted it as a personal, not a political thing. Some of them have had to deal with many outrageous personal attacks over the years that it's understandable (even if not commendable).

  2. If you don't think Gavin has a political viewpoint then you aren't keeping track. In this case I'm referring to a viewpoint about energy policy. (I have no idea how he feels about immigration.) Influencing energy policy is the core reason for the site in my opinion. They believe that the more people understand about climate science the more they will want to take action to reduce emissions. I agree that this is true, but I don't think they have found the right tone.

  3. How can it be a nuanced issue ? The claim is not that something was finessed where one marginal decision was changed to another, the claim is that the weight of evidence and testimony was steamrollered and deliberately hidden.

    I doubt he has looked much into the issue at all, and as usual is aligning himself first by ideology rather than fact, with weasel words like "nuanced" carefully placed for strategic backtracking at a later date if necessary.