How we know they know they are lying

That a lie which is all a lie may be met and fought with outright,
But a lie which is part a truth is a harder matter to fight.
Tennyson – The Grandmother.

It is to some extent forgivable when people adopt extreme positions out of misapprehension or delusion. It is quite another matter if they mislead others by deliberate falsehood. Politicians, of course, treat the lie as part of their professional equipment. Indeed, in some circumstances they are obliged to use it (when, for example, telling the truth about the economy would cause a run on the currency). In science, up to recent times, there is no circumstance in which a deliberate falsehood is justifiable. It requires at a minimum being drummed out of one’s learned society.

All that has changed with the rise of authoritarian government. In Britain this took the form of nationalisation of the universities, begun under Thatcher and completed under Blair.  In the USA it took the form of new state-funded bureaucracies, such as the EPA, who maintained control by the monopoly of funding. The global warming religion changed everything.

There is a contrast in the behaviour of people who speak from conviction and those who speak from convenience. This enables us to uncover those who are lying deliberately and distinguish them from the merely deluded. As M. Maigret once remarked “It is always the clever ones who leave a clue.”

Patronage

There is a long and respectable history of patronage in science as well as art, literature, lexicography etc. The patrons (other than the church) used their own money. The modern patrons, however, are bureaucrats who use the money of others; to wit, taxpayers. Their science is not the science of recent tradition, but a whole new ball game.

There are major differences between real science and bureaucratic science (BS). Real science involves living with the prospect of failure. In BS, failure is not allowed. The whole project is mapped out beforehand in forms such as Gantt charts. There are deliverables that have to be delivered on the due date. With the exception of really big physics, real science is carried out by small groups. It is the same with BS, except that there are about five managers for every researcher. Above all the expected result must be delivered on time. Those who desire further patronage never report a negative result or, indeed, a result at variance with the expectations of the sponsors.

We can identify the “scientists” who habitually lie by the fact that they produce, on time, results that are never unexpected and always conform to the establishment-sponsored theory. Real science is never that predictable.

Powerful patronage makes people over-confident. They come to believe that they are untouchable. Like the royal favourites of mediaeval times, they soar in the air on a zephyr of preferment, only to get too close to the sun and plunge to earth.

Which brings us to:

Secrecy

In the security of powerful patronage some of the new brigade began to think that they were above not only the procedures of science, but of all other academic disciplines as well. In the case of the notorious Hockey Stick, for example, they claimed that knowledge from history, art, literature, archaeology etc. was all wrong and that their computer manipulation of such tenuous data as tree rings established that the Little Ice Age and the Mediaeval Warm Period never happened. The most powerful patrons of all, the UN, seized on the results and made them the main feature of one of their apocalyptic IPCC reports on the coming climate disaster. One of the first tests of any scientific work is to pose the question “Can the results be reproduced?” The Hockey team and the other computer nerds behind the doom-laden predictions were outraged at the suggestion that they should make public their computations and results, which had in fact been obtained with generous public funding. This stance was supported by the political establishment and, though it might work in a secretive society like the UK , this did not go down well in the more open USA . Anyway, to cut a long story short, thanks largely to the untiring persistence of two Canadians, the Hockey Stick was broken. The critics were subjected to a torrent of vilification and derision, but eventually after a review by the highest statistical authority in the USA , they were vindicated. The UN simply dropped the Hockey Stick as though it had never happened and carried on with other forms of propaganda.

British “researchers” into global warming refused to yield up their calculations to scrutiny on the grounds that “You only want to criticise it.” Contrast this with a real scientist, Albert Einstein, who passed all his calculations onto Eddington, so that they latter could devise a critical test, that might have damned the theory, but in the end spectacularly did not.

What have they got to hide?

Which brings us to:

Rewriting the past

Critics of the apocalyptic global warming theory began to be disturbed at what was happening to experimental data under the cloak of secrecy surrounding the claims. One signal was assertion that the US results were based on a high quality sensor network. When that claim was made twice in one paragraph, it began to sound more like the patter of a second-hand car salesman than a statement by scientists. As a result, a small band of unpaid volunteers began a systematic review of the weather stations on which the claims were based. What they found was even more appalling than anyone had anticipated. Ramshackle is barely adequate to describe the system they found. The siting of many of the sensors broke all the rules. Many were on black tarmac and others were even adjacent to the outlets of air conditioning units. The High Quality Network was, to say the least, a mirage. But it was worse than this. Astute observers began to notice that the historical records of temperatures were changing and almost always in such a way as to increase the illusion of global warming. NASA, of all institutions, was involved in this dubious practice and it was all done without explanation.

All of this was widely reported on the internet, but the general public had no idea that it had happened.

Which brings us to:

Ratchet reporting

In the past the more respectable end of the media has been fairly assiduous in presenting both sides of arguments, but that has now come to an end. Since the spread of the global warming religion this has all changed. All occurrences of unseasonably hot weather, for example, were extensively reported, while cold weather was played down. They have now got over this dilemma by changing the vocabulary. Pronouncements by warming activists within the scientific community are given full coverage, while those from the large and growing sceptical sector are totally ignored. Most ordinary readers who do not inhabit the internet have no idea that such views exist: yet, when talking to ordinary people in pubs, it is gratifying how much spontaneous scepticism exists.

Why would anyone sure of their position be unwilling to let any alternative be heard? What have they got to hide?

Which brings us to:

Censorship

Ratchet reporting is a passive way of misleading the public by telling the truth but not the whole truth. The active form is direct censorship, which is now rife among once respectable scientific journals, as well as powerful media institutions such as the BBC. The self-styled environmental editors are the biggest threat to science since the arraignment of Galileo. The editors of Nature, once the prime journal of science, jumped through hoops to prevent the publication of a short article that challenged the orthodoxy, offering one lame excuse after another. Right across the spectrum of scientific publication it is the rule rather than the exception that any challenge to global warming will be automatically declined. A study of the situation by leading American statisticians (the Wegman report) included the observation that cliques of believers had formed peer review circles designed to prevent alternative views being published.

A sceptical climate web site was restricted from view at the Johnson Space Centre on the grounds of being adult or sexually explicit. Absurd, but for lover of human freedom rather frightening.

What have they got to hide?

 

Intermission – a short quiz

You have made some observations and calculations, which show that humanity is doomed unless it changes its ways. You have total belief in the accuracy of your predictions. Do you:

(a)   Announce your results, but keep your workings secret for fear that someone will criticise them.

(b)   Announce your results, but set up a group of companies to make yourself mega-rich on the back of the scare you have created.

(c)    Drop everything, including secrecy and profit, and devote yourself to saving the human race.

 

Consensus

This is a word redolent of the state of contemporary science. It is a political word, not a scientific one. Most of the great innovations in science have been by individuals, or very small groups, striking out from the prevailing opinion to establish new frontiers. As Einstein is reputed to have remarked, when the Nazis published a book in which one hundred German scientists pronounced him wrong, “It only needed one of them to be right.” There was indeed a “consensus” in physics at the start of the twentieth century that “the science is settled”, but that was blown apart by Einstein and his contemporaries. Most of the great breakthroughs in science are made by those who are in a minority of one. The moral pressure to join the consensus and support the establishment view is substantial, even carrying the threat of dismissal. Such things have no place in a free society. This is not persuasion, it is enforcement. Research funding is exclusively given to proponents of establishment theories and denied to opponents. It is a remarkable tribute to the human spirit that so many dare stand up to the bullies and accept the contemptuous label of “denialist” (not that the general public ever get to hear of them). Others, who have family responsibilities, have to preserve their reservations for private conversation.

As for the accompanying slogan “The science is settled”, if it is settled it is not science and if it is science it is not settled.

 

Greed

People are driven by various hungers in various proportions – power, sex, approbation etc. Money is a proxy and an enabler for these things. Hunger beyond a normal requirement is greed. Greed has often led to the downfall of notable personages, politicians, TV evangelists etc. who are caught with their fingers in the till.

One thing that divides the followers of charismatic leaders, such as TV evangelists, from the critics is attitudes to the life styles of those leaders. Some of them are brought down by their excesses driven by greed. Others seem to get away with it.

Al Gore could hardly be called charismatic, but the sheer magnitude of his conspicuous consumption and his followers’ tolerance of it are truly shocking to independent observers. A private jet, palatial home, fleets of cars etc. seem so at variance with the message of austerity he sends out to hoi polloi. He goes on progress like some mediaeval archbishop, flaunting his wealth yet demanding frugality from everyone else. Never in modern times has the political slogan “Do as I say, not as I do” been so epitomised in one man. Yet, astonishingly, the world establishment showers him with honours and money; even, fantastically, a Nobel Prize. He excuses himself with the explanation that all his excesses are offset by payments to one of his own companies.

The iconic visual lie is Gore standing in front of a photograph of hurricane Katrina. Even many of the most vehement supporters of global warming would draw a line at connecting that tragic event with global warming.

If you are convinced you are right, you stand up and defy the world, irrespective of any personal rewards.

 

Shifting sands

Here is a progression – global warming, climate change, climate disruption. They are three terms that have been successively used to describe the same putative phenomenon. Real science does not keep changing its nomenclature, save in special cases, such as taxonomy where interpretations alter. The progression to “climate change” occurred when it became obvious that the world was not warming as advertised, so claim could be laid to cold weather as well as warm; but that was not emotive enough; so “climate disruption” came into being. It simply means bad weather. The weather has long been a topic of exploitation by demagogues. A hundred years ago, it was due to the wrath of god. Fifty years ago, it was due to “all them atom bombs”. Now it is due to the humble carbon atom. Unseasonal weather is occurring somewhere around the globe all the time. According to the principle of selectivity, a thousand occurrences of “normal” weather are ignored and the abnormal case is broadcast around the world.

Avoidance of debate

A crucial component of real science is debate. At the 1927 Fifth Solvay International Conference, the world's most notable physicists met to discuss the new quantum theory. Einstein found himself defending classical physics against his good friend Niels Bohr. Einstein, dissenting from new concepts such as Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, remarked "God does not play dice." Bohr replied, "Einstein, stop telling God what to do." Ultimately seventeen of the twenty-nine participants were Nobel Prize winners.

That is the way that science solves its great controversies. A conference is held, at which the opposing factions question each other’s position and in the end a solution is reached. Propagandists, however, do not like debate. In 2005 in the UK two conferences occurred. One was a modest affair organised by scientists for scientists. Most participants were there under their own financial steam. The speakers were distinguished real scientists (as opposed to "climate" scientists), who presented evidence -  numbers, charts and photographs. The other was a lavish three-day politically-inspired festival subsidised by the Government, with an elaborate banquet and not a dissenting voice. Such evidence as was presented was highly selective, though most of the claims arose from computer models. Guess which one received coverage by the environmental editors.

Then there is pseudo-debate, in which the BBC specialises. A believer is put up against a non-believer, then scrupulous editing ensures that one looks like the fount of wisdom and the other looks foolish.  

Al Gore never debates.

Hidden agenda

It is notable that support for the global warming theory comes almost exclusively from the New Left, a form of authoritarian socialism that grants itself the ironic title of “Liberal”. Classical liberals, who believe above all in human freedom, are left without a home or a title. They are lumped together with conservative politicians and described as “Right Wing”. The success of the New Left (also known as The Greens) is one of the most remarkable phenomena in history. They have taken over most of the western world; the political parties (such as the UK Conservative Party), the media, the scientific institutions and many other components of society.

Claims by the opposition that the global warming is a political manoeuvre by the New Left are, naturally, met by the accusation that they are all of the Old Right.

James Hansen, notorious among global warming critics as a ruthless fudger of data, blew the gaff in the euphoria of the Green takeover in the USA , by admitting that the main issue was the redistribution of wealth.

 

All of the above is how we know that they know they are lying.

 

John Brignell

January 2009

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