Posts Tagged ‘Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change’


An unfortunate event at WattsUpWithThat

February 18, 2013

Update 5:40 pm.  It appears that my comment has been reinstated at WUWT.  Thank you to WUWT.  All’s well that ends well.

I have been critical of RealClimate on a few occasions for deleting my comments (see here and here).  These comments were technical in nature and relevant to the posts.  But they were critical of the points being made at RealClimate.

I did not think I would see the day when something similar would happen at WattsUpWithThat.

There was a post yesterday at WUWT concerning the Organization Studies journal paper “Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change.”  I wrote about that paper myself yesterday.

This morning I attempted to post a comment on the WUWT post.  I included many quotes form the original  Organization Studies journal paper.  I wanted to highlight those quotes by using the HTML “blockquote” tag, which indents the quote.  I was typing in simple text editor, and unfortunately misspelled “blockquote.”  Then I copied and pasted that misspelling multiple times throughout my comment.

Then I copied and pasted the whole comment into the comment box on WUWT. When I pushed the “post comment” button in WUWT, I was able to immediately see my mangled comment.  The content was fine, but the formatting of the indents was strange.

Here is my comment, verbatim, with the proper blockquote fomatting…

I criticized this post by saying…

It is clear to me that the folks at IBD (and the folks here at WUWT who authored this post) either did not actually read “Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change” or did not understand it.

JustTheFacts responded with some quotes form the original journal paper and noted…

one might deduce that I had read some portion of the paper. In terms of understanding the paper, the data in Table 4 on page 1492 and the conclusions are quite clear, well educated professional experts with scientific training/geoscientists are quite skeptical of the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) narrative.

Yes, yes , you are almost right about table 4. The point of the paper was the that these in Alberta leaned to the skeptical when it comes to global warming. That is why Alberta was chosen. That table is labeled “Frames’ relative positioning (percent) within their organization and industry.” Alberta was the laboratory, so to speak, in which the minds of the “deniers” (their word, not mine) could be probed and examined.

The important part of the paper, from the author’s perspective, is about “Framing experts’ identities,” where they try to figure out why these experts think the way they do. That is the type of approach that social scientists take – they want to see what makes you tick. That is why the social sciences probably should not be called sciences at all. It is easier for them to make up stories about why people think the way they do based on their “identities” and “relative positioning” rather than examining the scientific merits of their arguments. If you really think that this paper supports your (and my) view on expert opinion concerning global warming, I suggest you re-read the “discussion and conclusion.” Here are some highlights…

Nor is this merely a binary debate of whether climate change is ‘science or science fiction’. There are more nuanced intermediary frames that are constructed by these professionals. Indeed, by differing in their normalization and rationalization of nature, they vary in their identification with and defensiveness against others, and in their mobilization of action.

Get it? They say deniers (their word, not mine) are “defensive.”

Or this. These professionals…

…engage in identity and boundary work – to varying degrees – to legitimate themselves as experts and delegitimate opponents as non-experts, while establishing the cognitive authority of their version of science versus others’ non-science. Defense can result from different worldviews and from identity threats.

Or this.

Our findings give greater granularity in understanding which professionals are more likely to resist, why and how they will resist, and who is more likely to be successful…

… an interest-based discourse coalition may be formed that has the potential to overcome the defensiveness.

Get it? Resistance may not be futile – but we’re working on it.

JustTheFacts, I have seen you do some good work here on WUWT. But you blew it this time. Please take this as constructive criticism.

There are lessons to be learned

So I went back, found a misspelled blockquote tag, corrected it,  added an apology to the top of my comment and reposted comment.

Rats!  When  the second version showed up I again discovered that there must be more than one blockquote error.  Mea Culpa.  I repeated the same process: correction, another apology, and posted again.

Still not right.

Note that none of these corrections changed the content in any way (other than the apology at the top), only the HTML blockquote tags were modified.

At this point, there were three versions of the same comment, all awaiting approval.

Eventually, one of them was approved, but had a moderator’s comment saying that two of the versions had been removed and that I should stop “spamming the thread.”  I figured a human being reading my posts would understand that I was not “spamming the thread” because of the prefaced apologies.  On the other hand,  an automated routine might interpret my comments as spam.

I responded with an explanation.  Here it is, verbatim…


thank you for removing my previous posts. Please note that I messed up the blockquote tags, which made the post difficult to read. After several attempts I almost got it right. Almost. The attempts to get it write (sic) were prefaced with an apology.

However, I was not “spamming the thread.” I sure hope that the “spamming the thread” note was an automated response – not the response of a human being.

Moments later, the approved version of the comment disappeared and was replaced with this form Kajajuk (who I assume is the moderator)…

Kajajuk says:

February 18, 2013 at 11:04 am

[dude . . you are drunk . .come back tomorrow . . mod]

Then my explanation was replace with this from Kajajuk…

Kajajuk says:

February 18, 2013 at 11:08 am

[snip . . i mean it, go home . . mod]

Now, I have seen other cases comments with formatting or content mistakes on WUWT  and have found them handled with good humor.

In this case, the content of my comment was  detailed and valid.  It was easy, or should have been easy for the moderator to see that.   My comment added a perspective that I did not see on any of the other comments.  But my comment was also highly critical of post.  In fact, if my analysis of the Organization Studies journal paper is correct, then the WUWT post author has made an embarrassing mistake.

As I said, I have seen some good work from JustTheFacts (the author of the WUWT post), but he got it very wrong this time.


Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change

February 17, 2013

The headlines blazed!!

Forbes said…

Peer-Reviewed Survey Finds Majority Of Scientists Skeptical Of Global Warming Crisis

IBD said…

Global Warming Consensus Looking More Like A  Myth

WattsUpWithThat copied the the IBD headline.  And we are off and running.

The headlines of these blog articles all refer to the paper, “Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change,” in the journal Organization Studies.

Essentially, Forbes, IBD and WUWT were all saying  “Yippee!!  Here is a survey that shows most science and engineering professionals lean to the skeptical side when it comes to the question of global warming.”

Lessons to be learned here, and they are not pleasant.

I was given a hard copy to the Forbes article about the paper while visiting with a friend at a coffee shop. He knows of and shares my skepticism concerning much of the global warming alarmism. He shared the Forbes article as confirmation that skepticism was gaining ground. The Forbes article certainly presented it that way.

I thought “this would be a good topic  about which to write a blog post.”  (I also selfishly thought maybe I could scoop WUWT in this one.)  So, I got out my computer, logged onto the the coffee shop’s wi-fi and looked up the article.  Much to my chagrin, I found that the Forbes article (and subsequently the IBD article and even the WUWT article) greatly misrepresented the journal paper.

For those of you who have not actually read the journal paper, here is what it is really about: some social scientists are trying to peer into the minds of “deniers” (their word choice, not mine) to see what makes them tick.  What better laboratory could they find than engineers in Alberta that are likely associated with the gas and oil industry!

The authors of the paper are not saying “a bunch of smart scientist and engineer types think global warming is largely over-blown – maybe you should consider their perspective.” Rather, they are saying “Those poor engineer types up there in Alberta live in a world that revolves around oil and gas and their psyches are not able to grasp the true dangers of global warming because of the social and political structure in which they live.  What are the proper tactics to bring them around to the right kind of thinking?” (Not their actual words, but my interpretation of their words.)

Lesson #1

Maybe we ought to actually read journal papers before we start writing blog posts to interpret them for others.

Lesson #2

This journal article is an illustration of the primary problem in the global warming debate, and debates concerning other controversial scientific subjects (like GM plants and animals).  That is, many are fooled into thinking that weighing the credentials (or the social background, or the professional background, or the political affiliation, etc) of the advocate of a particular perspective is an adequate shortcut around the more arduous task of weighing the arguments of the advocate.  To wit, we don’t have to waste time listening to the reasoning of scientists and engineers from Alberta, we can simply dismiss them because the circumstances of those poor souls prevents them from being able to reason fairly.  This is the seductive path of lazy thinkers.

Lesson #3

Bad things could happen at WUWT when Anthony Watts takes a well deserved week-end break.

Lesson #4

My guess is that the authors of “Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change” are having a good laugh at the expense of Forbes, IBD, and WUWT